Breaking the Silence?

After a break of about four months I thought I might re-start a discipline of blogging. I took a break for a number of reasons: I was writing and constructing a book which took up a lot of my head space. Once that was finalised I had to pick up all the thinking and processing I missed out on for creative worship events at college and then, after that, pick up on all the theological and academic head gymnastics involved in reading and writing for essays on a number subjects!

So here we are and what is it we have to talk about?

I guess this is an appropriate topic of conversation for me to consider after a period of digital silence; where does one begin breaking the silence with an expression?

In the digital space, if we can in fact talk of it as a ‘space’, silence as ‘nothingness’ is achievable, much more so than in the physical/ ‘real’ world. For those who know me only as the character behind the words on this site will believe me to have either ceased to exist or, at least, paused; frozen in time and this space we share. The truth is I never ceased to exist; I merely existed in a different form.

Silence in the physical world is often thought of, primarily, from speaking. If one speaks of another as ‘being silent’ they mean the other has stopped talking but, as many of us know, expression is only fractionally dependent on spoken words, there’s body language, facial expression, etc.. There’s also the strange phenomenon of the ‘not-saying’ saying much more; the sub text or the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’!

In the theatre world, particularly the physical theatre genre, there’s a theory, cited by Jacques LeCoq, which states all expression must begin from ‘silence’. This silence involves, as much as possible, both vocal silence and physical silence. The vocal silence is achievable but the physical is more complex. As physical beings we say something by just possessing space. If I stand before you I will communicate something, my existence, for a basic example.

How do we silence our physical expression?

LeCoq outlines a process of the ‘neutral mask’, establishing an homogenous physicality by acknowledging our individual idiosyncrasies and attempting to put them aside aqnd thus achieving a form of silence from self-expression (the expression of one’s self). The silencing of our physical expression,however, is, one must admit, impossible. LeCoq’s neutral mask, therefore, is achieving silence of self-expression and so true silence is a desire never to be achieved.

Here’s the rub; the theatre world has to conclude that we can never create ex nihilo (out of nothing). We are always reshaping what is already there. I have spoken before (see ‘An Idea! (part II)’ post) about the human being’s inability to ‘create’ in the same way as God created (bara in the Hebrew). Our expressions stem from the past for we are all caught in the continuum of space and time and we cannot transcend that.

So from the attempt of silence comes an understanding of, first, the present and then, naturally, the past; what has caused this moment to exist. We can dwell for eternity in the past but there is a spiritual discipline of forcing ourselves forward again into the present. The difficulty is we often push too hard and end up landing in the potential future (see ‘The Futre Doesn’t Exist/Everybody’s Free‘ post). The present is ‘tense’; a delicate balance between past and future. In this tension, creative energy begins but it is not creative in the sense of beginning something new but rather a shaping of what is already there.

What’s being hinted at here? I’m currently striving towards a theory which unites an emergent monist view of the human being with a belief in a ‘spiritual’ God or, if this is not possible, proposing, by discovering the lack of unity in these thoughts, a deeper understanding of an incarnated God.

I am not totally sold on an emergent monistic view which states that there is no ‘soul’ but rather a mind which has emerged from complex physical process of protons, neurons, etc.. The reason is because of its implications on our view of resurrection and of the ‘spiritual realm’. I am, however, uncomfortable with a dualistic view of the world because of it’s implications on our view of ourselves. My view is that dualism, naturally, leads one to view the self as, in some way, separate from the physical person and that the ‘true self’ is a static or distinct entity existing prior to the body and, therefore, not connected with the physical world. The incarnation leads me to consider the entanglement of self in with the physical and that God’s plan was never to create this world for us to visit only to return to ‘the homeland’ but to create a world for us to inhabit fully.

From the place of ‘attempted-silence’ an expression is made of past, present and potential future colliding. The vista opens up again and the unity of the cosmos is understood and questioned simultaneously. Let us dwell together in this place to contemplate and develop together.

(Read my digi-disciple posts on this topic, 28th of each month, and look forward to my contribution to Transpositions’ symposium on Art, Embodiment and the Digital)