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My thesis takes shape from the margins, and slowly, slowly am I circling in the core chapters. I don’t think this is a particularly good way of composing the general argument of the work, but I have a fairly good idea of why the core content just keep slipping away from me. The final part of this core, the chapter where I give an in depth analysis of the slam sessions, is finally now on its way. Thus on a deeper level, it feels like I’ve always had an idea of what goes on. But to actually describe what happens, is far harder. The first part of what I call the core, is thus just very hard to get a grip on.
I’ve recently taken up again an excellent book on performance, Utopia in Performance, by Jill Dolan (she even has a blog!). In the introduction, I found a description of exactly what I’ve been struggling with:
How do we write about our own spectatorship in nuanced ways that capture the complicated emotions that the best theater experiences solicit? How do we place our own corporeal bodies in the service of those ineffable moments of insight, understanding, and love that utopian performatives usher into our hearts and minds? How do we theorize such moments, subjecting them to the rigor of our sharpest analysis while preserving the pleasure, the affective gifts that these moments share? (Dolan 2005: 8-9)
I could have quotes several passages on this subject from Dolan’s book. The way she writes about theatre and performance, fits as hand in glove with how I perceived the slam sessions. In some ways, it fits even better for the particular performance French slam poetry constitutes, as the boundary between spectators and performers is by definition blurred (to a far larger extent than in for instance US slam poetry). I’m itching to get deeper into this, but for now I’ll just give the word once more to professor Dolan:
How can we capture, in our discourse, not just the outlines of a performance’s structure and form, its content and the contours of its narrative, but the ineffable emotion it provokes in its moment of presence? How can we evoke, in writing, how its presence grounds us in a present, a moment of life at the theatre, that seems somehow imbued with our past and our future, at once? How can I summon for you here my own experience of the simultaneity of time that infuses my argument, and that I feel during my richest, most memorable visits to the theater… (Dolan 2005: 9).
And finally, as a motto for my further writing in the thesis, particularly since I will claim that French slam poetry upholds an ideal of society as genuinely cosmopolitan and democratic (that is Utopia in performance…):
But part of the challenge of writing about performance as a public practice, one that circulates extensively and has some social impact, is to make it live well beyond itself, to hold it visually in memory, to evoke it with words, and to share it widely, so that its effects and potential might be known (Dolan 2005: 9).
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