Nietzsche and I // Performance-Text
Performance by Anna Mendelssohn [CV]
Have you ever walked into the desert? Have you ever pulled over on the side of the road and just walked. I mean just walking, so you can hear the sound of your footsteps and you can hear your breathing and you can see the land around you exposed. Have you done that? Do you know that feeling – when your out there that that.. just.. your life instantly unfolds. You know you spend so many of your days – or I’ve spent so many of my days working on my things, my ideas, you know this all my stuff – and then you step out into the desert and its not your stuff anymore. You step out there and it is just that land there telling you it’s story.
What is this story we live on? Because the world, the earth is telling stories. Stories of geologies, stories of evolution, stories of massive changes in the past. A friend of mine keeps coming up to me and going
“so, you research all this stuff and talk to all these about climate change and the end of the world – so when do you think its gonna happen?”
And the answer is of course: it already happened. Its happening now. It keeps happening. Its not a moment. There is not a sudden flash of light and its all over. It’s a process, the end is a world in itself. and so that’s why this is about endings. Its everending.
Welcome to the world. This is an unstable place!
The future is happening right now.
We tend to think of climate change as something that will happen in the future in 50 years, maybe less, but not now, not today.
We talk about the climate refugees that will come when their islands have disappeared beneath the rising water levels and civil wars break out as a result of food and water shortage.
What about the spiraling debt crises?
What about growing inequality, money’s influence on politics?
What about the civil wars that are happening right now and which seem to be moving towards our doorstep right now, as we speak?
What about the flows of refugees we are today witnessing every day?
Are these not cascading effects that happen in a world that’s very, very connected?
And in a world where the climate is changing but politics is not.
My mother and my father are shooting at me. It starts as a game but then I get hit a couple of times. I am still alive and we discuss if we should bring me to a hospital. At first I think – what for ?, too much of a hassle. But then I remember all the things in my life I was still expecting still to do, things I was looking forward to, like reading the entire the Nietzsche from front to back, having kids, doing less in old age, falling in love again and the thought of dying suddenly becomes deeply painful. I wake up.
We feel pain, we suffer, because of the gap between the person we are at the moment and the person we could ideally be.
And therefore I would I like to invite you to cry with me.
She is lying on my lap, on a big cushion. I am sitting in the shade it is a hot summer day. She is lying on her side outstretched. I stroke her belly, her cheek. Her breathing is flat, slow but not deep. We stay in this position for an hour maybe more. I do not dare to move. She feels so fragile, every little movement of mine an interruption to her calm, fragile waiting, being. When the sounds begin, they come from deep within her. Only once before have I heard her make sounds similar to the ones i am hearing now, 16 years earlier when she was in labour, about to give birth. But then the sound was pain, now it is not so much pain as maybe a sudden, shocking, stressful impossibility to keep on breathing. I would like to relieve her but know not how and so I breath deeply and stroke her belly, stroke her cheek, softly, softly. She is so thin, all skin and bones, i almost touch her inner organs. It is a hot day. We are in the garden. The garden she knows so well, it is her territory. The gasps, those deep and stressful sounds come every couple of moments now. Again and again, they come like sudden surges. And then her heart … gives way. The beat which i can feel so clearly through her bones all of a sudden tiny, almost imperceptible. I put my hand there and i feel it weakening and weakening with every beat, this lasts only a few moments and then it stops. Stops beating and she stops breathing. We stay like this for maybe half an hour more. I look into her face, look at her body still warm and after half an hour i do not see her anymore. This isn’t fanny anymore, it’s not even a cat anymore. She looks more like a rabbit now than a cat. I dig a grave and we bury her in the garden.
There is a bright line connecting the degradation in the way we treat human beings – whether they are refugees from Syria, trying desperately to reach Greece or whether they are Greek citizens, suffering under unending attacks to their standard of living, bloodlessly called austerity – and the degradation of the planetary systems on which all of life depends. Indeed Greece is told that the way to get out of debt is to drill for oil and gas in their Ionian and Aegean seas.
The same forces, the same logic are behind all of these attacks on life. Because a culture that places so little value on the lives of human beings that it allows them to be thrown into the waves is also going to allow poor peoples countries to disappear beneath the waves.
This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end, a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing and eternally flooding back, blessing itself as that which must return eternally: eternally self-creating, eternally self-destroying, “beyond good and evil,” without goal – unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal….This world is the will to power—and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power—and nothing besides!
And so it is such an honor to be here with all of you on this day when you maybe thought you could heave a sigh of relief, sit down and relax a little but it is now that the work of movements begins.
We have to stay in movement mode. Because its not going to happen without that. Let us get up . Let us dance.
Led by Arno Böhler, the PEEK-Projekt „Artist Philosophers. Philosophy AS Arts-Based-Research“ [AR275-G21] is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) as part of the programme for artistic development and investigation (PEEK). Research location: University of Applied Arts Vienna. Brought about in national and international cooperation with: Jens Badura (HdK Zürich), Laura Cull (University of Surrey), Susanne Valerie Granzer (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien/Max Reinhardt Seminar), Walter Heun (Tanzquartier Wien), Alice Lagaay (Zeppelin Universität Friedrichshafen). Postdoc: Elisabeth Schäfer (University of Applied Arts Vienna). The lecture series was produced in collaboration with: Institut für Philosophie Universität Wien, University of Applied Arts Vienna [Arno Böhler] and Institut für Theater- Film- und Medienwissenschaft der Universität Wien [Krassimira Kruschkova].
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