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Open Community Postings

From T.S. Elliot's Four Quartets, East Coker

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I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you

Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,

The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed

with a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness.

And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama

And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away--

Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations

And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence

And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen

Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;

Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing--

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:16


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...this art experience reminds me of the notion of negative space -

that life is defined often by what is not there and not what is there

we are all a blank canvass, dressed in white, with potential

we are all a possibiilty?

how long will it take me to relax? when you listen to monks

chat for hours....the first half hour is with expectation

and then there is no expectation because you are the rythm

of the chant...and there is nothingness...

or if you run a long distance, how long does it take you

to forget your feet and forget your body is actually there?

thank you....


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:16

Journal Entry for 3/28

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The silence of the mind is no-thought.

The silence of the body is no-motion.

Silence opens mind and body, revealing the no-self.

Through the evolved no-self peaceful stillness flows.


Last Updated on Friday, 02 April 2010 00:26

Reply to Journal Entry 3/27

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Silence through moments of personal hygiene, of intimate labor – I can really think of no other time I’m culturally allowed to be silent, or at least accepted to be silent without someone thinking that something must be wrong. Why is silence seen as something that must be acted out in accordance with a specific thought, intent or goal? In the midst of a conversation, why is it that so many refuse to give silence to the conversation and actually listen to the words being said? It’s amazing to me how little we actually give to silence on a daily basis. I can only imagine the person whose first moments of silence they tend to is when they rest their heads to sleep at night. I bet their dreams have an awful lot to say.

Last Updated on Monday, 29 March 2010 00:48

Journal Entry for 3/27

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People tell me about silent retreat experiences for 24 hours, a weekend, and how difficult they were. Silence is a bird threatened with extinction. There are no more gaps; phone calls, text messages, and e-mails fill them. Only the body retains some silence through moments of personal hygiene, of intimate labor. But these are not enough to develop a deeper self, consciousness. This performance offers silence to the self, to the no-self. And I can’t help wondering how many will truly engage. Silence is a bird that sings the secrets of existence only after much nurturing.


On the nature of being

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We are missing something very essential -almost ontological- in our perennial human race.

We only meet with ourselves sporadically, almost accidentally.

Janet Batet


Journal Entry for 3/23

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There is a difference between learning a movement and learning through movement. Here, it will be an experience of site and self through silence, solitude, walking, pausing, looking. If everyone brings a gesture and then lets go in the vortex and the well, much may be gained.


Defining Performance

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Performance is, essentially defined, sculpture as theater.

Performance is, as a medium, a form of theater,

but, as a category, a form of sculpture.

Scott Burton, 1973

Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 23:38

Considering WAITING

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Whereas non-human creatures and plants structure their movements and activities – such as hunting, feeding, mating, and so on-- around the structure of time (the planet spinning while orbiting the sun), humans attempt to structure time around their own movements and activities. This, of course, cannot be achieved and often leads to disappointment.

Waiting is a social, cultural, and personal construct. It is perceived as the passing of time accompanied by inactivity, hypo-activity, or the anticipation of some accomplishment.

As a social construct, waiting is a belongs to humans and is an experience shared only with those creatures (and possibly those plants) that are dependent upon humans.

As a cultural construct, waiting takes different forms depending on circumstantial context. For example, in some cultures and even in some hierarchies, waiting for someone is paying honor to that person, while in others, it is quite the opposite. A “woman in waiting,” depending on where she lives, is a pregnant woman, a chambermaid, a courtesan, or a concubine --and in some cultures, a courtesan and concubine are one and the same.

As a personal construct, waiting takes shape according to the attitude of the person waiting (or not waiting) as well as to the person or persons perceiving the wait. In other words, waiting is either created by or subsumed by an attitude. The time spent waiting can be perceived as an opportunity or a curse; a journey or a stagnation; a pursuit or a preparation; an agitation or a reconciliation; space or emptiness; an avenue or a service, an accommodation. Waiting is desire. Waiting is the pursuit of perfection oblivious to the present. Waiting is subservience. Waiting is a demand and the desire to control. I hate waiting. I hate seeing my husband “wait” for me because it looks like he’s not doing anything.

So I ask myself: Am I really present if I’m waiting?

Waiting is not new; it is not a recent construct. History is filled with the sighs and exasperated exhales of people waiting. History itself has not been waiting for the present; history is a journey arriving at and continuing through the present into the future, indefinitely. History is a train with infinite stops along the way to an infinite destination. The passengers on this train however, have a long history of waiting. These people are waiting for and have waited for the next stop, the next expected moment, the next opportunity; yet they often miss the ever-changing view outside their windows.

Waiting, or rather the desire to minimize waiting, has been and continues to be the catalyst of technological progress. Humans learned to build traps so they would not have to wait for their prey; fast trains, cars, and airplanes to minimize the wait of arriving somewhere; Polaroid cameras and film and then filmless cameras to create instant memories; television and computer technology to circumvent the need to be somewhere else; high-speed internet access and instant messaging to solve the problem of waiting for a hand-written letter. We humans are technology-driven because we value efficiency so very highly and we just don’t like to wait for things we feel entitled to.

Although at times, we have chosen to wait because it was waiting that offered convenience: waiting has provided many people the opportunity to put off doing something – for whatever reason.

Politicians and celebrities have waited to reveal truths about potentially scandalous deeds until the public, media, or PR reps have left them with no other choice. Governments have waited to implement policies and reforms on health, finance, the environment, and other issues; grown children have waited to call their parents and parents have waited to call their children; people have waited to go to the doctor, pay their bills, write their congressmen, and exercise their bodies; students have waited to start assignments; children have waited to clean their rooms; farmers have waited for crops to yield; painters have waited for paint to dry, photographers have waited for light, and writers have waited for inspiration; insomniacs have waited for sleep; both women and men have waited for “Mr. Right”; and the meek have been waiting to inherit the Earth. People have stood waiting, lay in wait, waited in waiting rooms, waited long enough, hardly waited, waited for the time to pass, and even waited their whole lives for something. They’ve waited patiently, impatiently, and sometimes they just couldn’t wait. Servants, waiters, friends, family, nurses, and untouchables have waited on people. History is full of people who have waited on, waited to, waited for, been waited for, and been waited on. Histories are full of people waiting.

Just as the idea of waiting is a construct, history too is a construct. History is subjective, written from perspectives that change from one nation to the next, and also with time, knowledge, and understanding. There is more than one history of just about everything, including waiting.

Because perspective contextualizes waiting, more than one group can be waiting at the same time and place, for different events, or for the same event, but for different reasons. For example, one nation may be waiting for an invading nation to leave because the people don’t want their land occupied any longer. Meanwhile, the invading nation is waiting to leave until there is stability nation they are occupying. People of both nationalities and of the entire world may be divided between the two or more perspectives. Waiting can be a public effort, a group effort, a personal, or private effort. It depends on from whose perspective the waiting is viewed: my perspective, their perspective, or another perspective.

A human perspective. I believe waiting is a human behavior. I believe waiting contributes to our humanness. But I’m not sure whether I believe that waiting makes us human or not. It seems to be a question of evolution. Is waiting a necessary function of living? I’d like to believe that one can be human without waiting. I’d like to believe that there have been, and still are, Buddhist monks and other visionaries that are able to live without the experience of waiting. However, as I said earlier, it also depends on one’s perspective. If a Buddhist monk is standing at a bus stop, I might assume that he/she is waiting for a bus, while from the monk’s point of view, he/she is in standing meditation until the bus arrives. A “woman in waiting” (in this culture) is waiting for the birth of her child. Does the child in the womb wait to be born?

When do other creatures of nature wait? Certainly, cats and dogs and other pets wait for their owners to feed them. They however, have been conscripted into our human constructs. They are domesticated. We place our pets into the position of having to wait. In the wild (and in the backyard) cats and dogs hunt. They stalk, calculate, and pounce. They do not wait when they hunt. One might ask what difference there is between calculation and waiting. Calculation is active with purpose and intent. Waiting is passive with resistance or expectation, and active only through subservience. The difference is in the flow of energy and the sense of being.

There is one particular instance, when I can imagine a wild animal experiencing waiting as I perceive waiting. It was a deer impaled on the spike of a fence it apparently tried to jump over. The deer was dead when I saw it. I wonder what the deer did before dying if he wasn’t waiting for death. This notion, of course, assumes he was attached to the idea of his life.

Ideally, no creature would experience waiting for something. Waiting is tethered to attachment and attachment leads to suffering. Waiting is attachment to expectation. Since I earlier wrote that waiting is the catalyst of technological advancement, do I then think that ideally there would be no progress technologically? No. Technological progress is imminent because of an aspect not just of humanness, but of nature: the desire to improve our quality of life. It would however alter the purpose of advancement. Rather than creating technology to minimize waiting, on what else might me expend our creative energy? Is the desire to improve quality of life an expression of individual attachment to life or is it a bio-evolutionary impetus that supersedes consciousness? And how would a dying deer respond to the same question?

Ideally, no creature would experience waiting on another. Without class disparity or social hierarchy, no-one would feel that they deserve to be waited on or waited for by others. Yet, in a Marxist ideal world, we would have a perfect division of labour, so we would all expect to wait on others and expect that others will wait on us. As much as the idea of waiting varies with perspective, so must the vision of an ideal world.

Waiting as a result of attachment is self-imposed suffering. Yet one can wait through an act of love, kindness, or compassion. Then again, when someone is waiting on tables or serving the King of England, are they not attached to some expectation? Either or a tip, or upward mobility, or salvation of some sort? Can an individual wait on a loved one without expecting a return of love or gratitude or acknowledgement? Perhaps this is why serving is referred to as "waiting on" and not as “gift giving.” Can waiting be a gift and if it is, is it still considered waiting?

Anikó Sáfrán

The pondering of waiting raises more questions than it answers.


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 March 2010 01:07

My Thoughts on the Idea of Waiting

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We wait on others for affirmation, help, affection, socialization. We wait inside ourselves for salvation, for quiet, for moments of peace, for reflection. We wait on doctors to cure our sicknesses. We wait on elected government officials to fix our nation. We wait to discover originality. We wait on phone calls, emails, and texts. We wait to mature and grow old. We wait for experiences for which we believe will define us. We wait for the next thought, the next word, and the next moment.

I would say waiting is a side effect of being human. I believe waiting is not found in nature. To give things meaning is a conscious act that I would argue separates man/woman from the animal realm. The ability to consciously make connections with thoughts in our past has a byproduct called waiting.

Instant gratification yields little meaning if any. My first thoughts considered waiting to be the act of enabling meaning through time. I soon realized that meaning is not a function of waiting but a function of time alone. I now consider waiting to be the conscious act of giving time for the purpose of meaning. It's a matter of hope or maybe intuition, that the meaning derived in our experiences through waiting will be greater than the experience without it. I argue, that meaning is an exponential function of time (meaning = time2). When we wait, we give to something the one thing we have a finite amount of, time. The thing we give time for better be worth it, because the more we give of it to a single idea the expectation of meaning is growing at an exponential rate.

What am I waiting for? I would have to ask what is it that I want my life to mean, or what is the meaning of my life. I now have to quote Joseph Campbell, towards the end of his career he once said, "I've come to the conclusion that people and religions (created by people) are not looking to find the meaning of life, but instead are looking to find experiences of being ALIVE." I would say that I am passively, yet consciously, waiting for that next experience. I find that experience in painting, music, art, my family and friends. I wait for those "ah hah" moments in art to hit, because when it hits you, you feel no pain (an ode to bob).

I appreciate waiting. It allows me to devote time to connecting thoughts from my past which helps me understand the world in which I live. It would be impossible to stop waiting, for we would no longer possess the ability to gauge the relative experiences in our lives to know what is worth waiting for, or better what is worth living for and what is not.

Peter Balanesi - Artist / Undergraduate Student Performer


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