Unreal Nature

August 1, 2015

The Transformation of Soap into Glass

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… The pleasure in the moment of us believing and not believing at the same time is a jolt of self-assertion.

Continuing through Six Drawing Lessons:The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 2012 by William Kentridge (2014):

… As the medium of these lectures is not charcoal, but talking, perhaps we should pause here for a moment, with some remarks on the discipline itself. There are the words themselves, and their syntax and grammar and their relations to the outside world. But there is also the discipline of the medium, that which is in between the words …

… there are many other things that happen in the gaps and spaces, most importantly thethe … hesitation.

The dramatic umumum
The uncertain UM, the pause before the certainty of the final statement.
Mock uncertainty, the pause before the clarity of the final statement.
Mock uncertainty hiding real uncertainty.

… Emphasizing this precise point, the raised finger.

Gathering consensus, while letting thoughts expand, gathering further examples, the circling finger.
The adjustment of the sleeve, the removal of the watch.
The small but important point being made — the thumb and forefinger circle.
The open-handed tapping of the podium.
The collar tug.
The one hand in the pocket.

… The removal of the glasses for a frank look. Their replacement. Their almost-replacement, the held gesture.
This complex combination: touching the nose, stroking the hair, the collar tug and the finger twirl, to take us through a complex question.

[ … ]


… Many years ago, I attended a performance of La Cirque Imaginaire, a miniature circus: an acrobat, his wife, and one untrained goose.

One of the acts of the circus was a performance of the transformation of soap into glass. The performer, the acrobat down from the slack wire, would blow soap bubbles, and then, using a small hammer, would burst each bubble, which had turned to glass. Each glass ball would shatter with the familiar and unmistakable sound of crystal shattering. Every bubble turned to glass as it shattered. The bubbles were glass. Then the performer, with a flick of his wrist, lifted the edge of his waistcoat and showed beneath it a small bell attached to his belt. At the instant he burst each bubble, he tapped the bell, turning the soap into glass. He then blew more bubbles and burst them. Again they turned to glass, even though the bell, the technique, the illusion, was visible. The pleasure changed into the pleasure of being so caught in the pressure of that which could appear and seem, and yet not be.

We the audience became the performers, our act that of believing and disbelieving in the same moment. There is something emerging here, a separation from Plato. The movement of ourselves as more or less enlightened observers toward an awareness of ourselves as agents of understanding. The pleasure in the moment of us believing and not believing at the same time is a jolt of self-assertion. This split, believer and disbeliever, becomes a crack in Plato’s edifice.

My previous post from Kentridge’s book is here.




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: