Vanguard Performance Beyond Left and Right

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Preface In their innocence, people assume that beautiful and uplifting results must have beautiful and uplifting causes, and they never dream that the “gift” in question is a very dubious affair and rests upon extremely sinister foundations. —Thomas Mann, “Tonio KrГ¶ger” In 2008, I chaired a seminar with Mike Sell at the American Society for Theater Research entitled “Vanguards of the Right.” The eleven scholars on our panel generated a fascinating body of research on fascist, totalitarian, and conservative avant-garde art. The conversation that began there—in the papers, among the panelists, and with the audience—continued to grow, and it is the genesis of this book. Although the initial idea of “right” and “left” has shifted—and the current volume goes beyond that neat, but ultimately less applicable, binary—our thoughts were set in motion on the subject of experimental art that serves nonprogressive political ends. We had tapped, with that seminar, into a peculiar political/aesthetic dissonance many performance scholars have experienced but for which there was no specific theoretical or critical framework in place. Anyone studying theater and performance has probably experienced such a discord when examining, for example, the works of the Italian futurists, whose early avant-garde performance encouraged individual spectators to resist, riot, and rebel against the artists, but whose personal politics and later works exuberantly supported a politics of enforced solidarity—namely, Italian fascism. Or when teaching August Strindberg, who is known as an experimental playwright, social radical, and innovative thinker, but whose misogynist rant in the preface to his play Miss Julie is so nauseating to contemporary sensibilities that editors sometimes silently expunge it from the rest of the preface. Or when encountering recent revelations about Gertrude Stein—a radical artist, a lesbian, a feminist—making it clear that she had substantial personal Page x →sympathies with known fascists. Or when reading that David Mamet had “come out” as a social conservative in his Village Voice essay, “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal.” Mamet’s essay provoked a self-reflexive question for those surprised by his newly announced politics: shouldn’t we have been able to see it sooner, shouldn’t we have been able to see the conservative trajectory of the playwright’s thought in his works? The question drawn from all these nonexceptional exceptions, then, is this: Can we create a critical discourse that fully takes into account issues of aesthetic autonomy and ideological unruliness in vanguard performance, even if such a discourse disturbs our own aesthetic or political desires? The subjects of this volume’s essays—jihadists, fascists, reactionary coups, totalitarianism—are often troubling. But substantive critical discourse does not often emerge from self-congratulatory cheerleading for ideas and projects one agrees with. Nor does complex thought emerge from simple moral condemnation. The great intellectual historian Isaiah Berlin did not recoil from tracing—with great sensitivity—the thought of people whose views he found ethically unsympathetic and socially dangerous. In order to discover how their thought was organized, he delved into the world of, for one example, Joseph de Maistre, finding his way through the intransigent monarchist’s labyrinths of anti-intellectualism, destructive desires, and hierarchical yearnings in such a way as to illuminate Maistre’s thought and track his influences more clearly than any previous scholar had.1 In this anthology, our authors pursue imaginative engagement with their subjects in order to understand them. Imaginative engagement with a subject the critic finds objectionable is avoided only at great cost to understanding. One method prevalent in cases where critics find themselves addressing what they think of as “great art” with “bad politics” is to slice an artist’s legacy into pieces, relishing the rewarding portion and condemning the rest. The limitations of this approach are revealingly evident in the reception of the author Louis-Ferdinand CГ©line. CГ©line is best known for his novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), a book that exudes a sympathy for suffering so strong that its very sensitivity awakens a despairing pessimism. As

in the works of Samuel Beckett, compassion for humankind gives birth to a sorrow grounded in people’s inability to eliminate suffering. However, some might question this reading in light of some pamphlets CГ©line wrote between 1937 and 1941 (Bagatelles for a Massacre and Les Beaux Draps), which contain anti-Semitic rants, accusing Jews of spawning decadence and calling for their elimination: “Virez le juif d’abord”—“Target the Jew first of all.” How to reconcile these two moments in an author’s oeuvre? In Journey, Page xi →the lead character is a doctor trying but unable to make a dent in the badness of the world. In the pamphlets, the Jews are at the heart of international conspiracies, swarming over Europe, desecrating morals, and practicing sexual perversions. The easiest mental move for a liberal reader to make is to assume, biographically, that the author changed, and thus the later pamphlets don’t need to alter our understanding of his earlier novel. This comes at the cost of trying to trace the lineage the other way—to search for manifestations of his later, hateful, thought in the earlier, sympathetic, novel. This is a much harder task, and one that most people would not want to do.2 But to say that CГ©line, as a person, was one way when he wrote this and another way when he wrote that won’t do—not only because he returned to writing similarly congenial novels after the 1940s, but also because we ought to have a more rigorous critical discourse than placing our hands over our eyes. CГ©line’s anti-Semitic diatribes are quarantined from the rest of his writing: literally—they don’t appear in his collected works. It’s possible to read CГ©line and not know about his violently fascist politics. It’s also possible—and this is just as worrying—to never really consider how to think at the same time about his artworks and his politics. That, then, is the anthology’s task: to talk about them both together. To eschew the easy way out—filing seemingly dissonant elements of an oeuvre separately in our brains and libraries. When we take the easy way, we miss the opportunity to trace far more complex patterns of thought and aesthetics and to investigate some unexpected, if uncomfortable, interweavings of desire and politics in performance.

Notes 1.Isaiah Berlin, “Joseph de Maistre and the Origins of Fascism,” The Crooked Timber of Humanity, ed. Henry Hardy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 91–174. 2.Richard J. Golsan makes such an analysis in “Drieu, Céline: French Fascism, Scapegoating, and the Price of Revelation,” Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 1 (Spring 1994): 172–183.

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Acknowledgments I’m fortunate to have many people and institutions to thank for their support of this project. First thanks are due here to the contributors, who joined this volume as they would an exciting conversation. It is because of their originality, fearlessness, and intellectual vigor that the book came into being. Funds for the project were provided by multiple grants from the University of California, Santa Cruz’s, Committee on Research and Arts Research Institute. Conferences hosted by Performance Studies International, the International Federation for Theatre Research, and the American Society for Theater Research (ASTR) provided venues for these ideas to be discussed and tested. In particular, ASTR hosted two seminars on vanguardism, including the seminal “Vanguards of the Right” panel, cochaired by Mike Sell and myself. Earlier versions of some chapters have appeared in other publications, and we thank the publishers for their permission to use and repurpose these essays. Richard Schechner’s essay first appeared in PMLA 124.5 (October 2009): 1820–1829. Patricia Gaborik’s essay is based on another, shorter, exploration of the Pirandello opening night, published as “C’era Mussolini,” in Atlante della letteratura italiana, vol. 3, ed. Sergio Luzzatto and Gabriele PedullГ (Turin: Einaudi, 2012): 533–540. Anne Pellegrini’s essay first appeared in American Quarterly 59.3 (September 2007): 911–935. James Harding’s essay appeared in a shorter version as “вЂYou Forgot Your Double Security Check’: Performance in Radio Drama, Poetic Discourse and the False Transmissions of the Special Operations Executive,” in Performance Research 17.3 (2012): 76–82. Portions of Mike Sell’s essay appeared in different form and context in The Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War (New York: Seagull Books, 2011). It’s always a gift to have intelligent, engaged individuals to draw on for Page xiv →ideas and support. For their papers, questions, and conversations, I thank the members of our ASTR vanguard seminars and my tireless interlocutors Joshua Abrams, Brandin BarГіn, Kate Bredeson, Michael Chemers, Sarah Bay-Cheng, Branislav Jakovljevic, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck, and Cindy Rosenthal. Many thanks to Elinor Fuchs, whose conversation was an ongoing source of inspiration. I also appreciate the anonymous readers who reviewed this manuscript with care and imagination. And, of course, I warmly thank LeAnn Fields, who encouraged and helped shape the project with her characteristic rigor and astuteness. This book owes a special debt of gratitude to three people. Blake Morris, my research assistant, tracked down resources and references and enthusiastically wrestled with the debates. Kathy Chetkovich keenly, patiently, and creatively engaged with the book’s concepts and structure, and she did not shy away from certain conversations that might have seemed endless. And the book has benefited immeasurably from Erik Butler’s above-and-beyond contributions of original literary connections, cultural references, and intellectual provocations.

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Introduction The Political Fallacy of Vanguard Performance Kimberly Jannarone In 1933, the German minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, invited Erwin Piscator and Max Reinhardt to use their innovative theater techniques in the service of National Socialism, even offering the Jewish Reinhardt “honorary Aryan status” to come back and make theater for the Reich.1 Although these advances were spurned by the left-wing directors, they don’t signify an artistic misjudgment by the minister. He discerned in Piscator’s and Reinhardt’s performance methods something well suited to his purposes, a political potential embedded in the works’ use of masses and media that the artists themselves hadn’t foreseen, and he used it.2 Goebbels’s invitations and subsequent successful employment of techniques he found in these theaters dramatically disrupt any easy linkages between avant-garde performance and the progressive politics of its creators. This is far from the only moment in which those connections have broken down. This volume situates an international array of vanguard art forms at multiple and often surprising points on the sociopolitical spectrum. It brings into focus vanguard performances that support totalitarian regimes, avant-garde art that promotes conservative values, innovative acts crafted and deployed by reactionaries, and left-wing avantgardism that has been effectively snapped up by a regime it sought to oppose. The central paradox of the volume is this: innovative performances designed to challenge established power structures can be deployed in deliberate, passionate support of established and even oppressive power structures. Fascists funded art theaters; contemporary neoliberal systems thrive on artistic innovation; and progressives have no monopoly on the avant-garde. Page 2 →While the fluid political affiliations of avant-garde art have been discussed extensively in other fields—particularly modernist literature and art in regard to fascism—performance studies and theater scholarship has yet to open up a thorough critical discourse on this fraught subject.3 That is this volume’s project, stemming from the conviction (discussed below) that performance itself is a particularly important site from which to study the relationship of politics and aesthetics. One reason that right-wing, reactionary, and totalitarian politics in experimental art have been explored more thoroughly in fields outside of performance is this: the apparent political bias of the field of vanguard performance studies itself, a critical tendency to highlight certain, usually progressive, political associations with vanguard performance.4 Our critical field, profoundly immersed in Brecht and his legacy, gravitates toward art that exposes inequality and strives to combat it. An overview of the field’s preferred subject matter reveals this partiality. Case studies abound on leftist radical theater and performance.5 Theoretical works on vanguard performance often center on how performance engages, empowers, activates, and makes the spectator aware of individual liberties, activist potential, and spectatorial agency.6 There is no comparable body of criticism dedicated to examining vanguard performance that promotes totalitarian regimes, exalts coercion, or works openly to exert ideological control over the audience member.7 Nor do we have a comparable amount of critical thought devoted to instances where the political effects of a performance slip out of the performers’ control—where the original intent is left behind and the innovative performance event is politically repurposed. If, as Mike Sell posits, there is a “technical fallacy” in art criticism—“the belief that formal innovation is political innovation”—we can also name a “political fallacy” that aligns the specific political beliefs of the artist with the political effect of the performance she creates: for example, attributing certain political results to performance innovations because of the beliefs of their creators, whether or not the art has merited such associations.8 In avant-garde theater and performance studies, we find what I call the “political fallacy of vanguard performance,” a tendency to associate experimental performance with progressive results and ideas.9 And yet experimental performance can be generated by any ideological system.

The power and agency of individual minds—Enlightenment ideals—comprise only one segment of innovative performance goals. Such confusion of categories—a kind of intentionalism—can be a powerful obstacle to clear performance analyses. The political fallacy leads to skewed readings of the performance event, which, burdened with political results predeterminedPage 3 → from biographical knowledge, or vice versa, eludes analysis of the event’s material effects—effects that are embodied in performance.

The Body Politic Performance—although given low priority in avant-garde studies—is crucial to constructing a body politic through art.10 It merits a prominent position in discussions of how vanguardism functions politically. Performance works directly on the body, encouraging, exalting, and, with repetition, training it. As Michel Foucault argues in Discipline and Punish, regimes create “docile bodies” through performance: “The body isВ .В .В . directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies.”11 Power is embedded in the performance event, and power over bodies, minds, and psyches is political power. This is something that totalitarian regimes have realized—both practically and theoretically—particularly well. Performance puts politics in motion, embodying and expressing social knowledge and ways of being in the world. A set of living gestures reflects and supports social and political structures; performance affects the sensory forms of human experience. As such, it is particularly important to consider how performance and politics intertwine in ways specific to the medium and to be intellectually open to those occasions when they don’t go where the viewer or critic desires. The reception of the work of filmmaker and photographer Leni Riefenstahl brilliantly illuminates the need for performance scholarship in the study of political aesthetics.12 It’s worth considering her case at length, because Riefenstahl’s reception provides us with an instructive example of how a failure to address the particularities of live performance can blind critics to crucial issues linking aesthetics and politics. Riefenstahl had a long and varied career, but she is best known for her film of the 1934 Nazi rally at Nuremberg, Triumph of the Will, a film that won multiple international awards when it premiered and then permanently tarred its director’s reputation once the full extent of the horrors of the Nazi regime were known. Susan Sontag, in the influential 1975 essay “Fascinating Fascism,” extrapolated a formal definition of fascist art from the film’s content and Riefenstahl’s immortalizing photography of the rally.13 In doing so, Sontag attempted to paint everything Riefenstahl created, from the director’s early Romantic adventure films through Olympia (her film of the Berlin Olympics) through her African Page 4 →photographs, as all “Nazi,” leaving us a clear example of both the political fallacy and the necessity to analyze the role of performance in politics. Incensed at the then-current popularity of Riefenstahl’s Nuba photography (a series of vibrant images of a dying African tribe), Sontag sought a way to connect Riefenstahl’s photographic form with Nazi content, wanting to prove a “continuity ofВ .В .В . political and aesthetic ideas.”14 In “Fascinating Fascism,” Sontag lists a number of traits she gleaned from Triumph of the Will—grandeur, obsession with beauty, sharp lines, emotionalism, political fervor, “extravagant effort,” aesthetic excess, “the containment of vital forces”—to define a fascist aesthetic, which Sontag then extends to Busby Berkeley movies, Disney’s Fantasia, and Kubrick’s 2001. The critic creates a lineage that connects what she saw in Triumph of the Will to descendants who deal in formal beauty, grandeur, a kind of modern emptiness, and the masses. But Sontag’s “fascist aesthetic” also contains elements that don’t fit the bulk of Riefenstahl’s oeuvre, such as the glorification of the masses, individual surrender, the glamorization of death, and submission to power. These characteristics, while present in Triumph of the Will, are absent from Riefenstahl’s early mountaineering films (action films that feature marginalized outsiders and the beauty of nature), Olympia, her Nuba portraits, and her late-life underwater photography (images of coral reefs, fish, plants, rays). Indeed, if Riefenstahl’s entire body of work were known excluding Triumph of the Will, her oeuvre would not strike us

as the embodiment of Nazism—Riefenstahl is a formalist obsessed with beauty, to be sure, but most of her work does not (and certainly not the Nuba portraits) deal with mass obeisance to the hero, modern emptiness, massed material, or the other elements Sontag names as part of a fascist aesthetic. Sontag, while attempting to construct a comprehensive formal/political case against Riefenstahl, lapses in her readings of the rest of the work, making a tendentiously flawed argument against all the artist’s work (and the artist herself) because she (the critic) has overlooked a central fact of Triumph of the Will: the significance of the live performance that gave the film its content. Assuming a person’s political beliefs will manifest in the aesthetic she upholds, Sontag tried to take what one finds in Triumph of the Will and track it through the rest of Riefenstahl’s oeuvre, as if it were possible to discern a Nazi mind-set in each frame and iteration of Riefenstahl’s still photos and camera angles. But Sontag chased after the wrong person, finding the photographic work and nature films politically suspect because of their creators’ most famous film. Riefenstahl did make a film that glorified Hitler, and she had, as her American interrogators decided, a “lack of moral poise.”15 But it wasn’t this lack of moral poise, nor Riefenstahl’s love of beauty, new cameras, or Page 5 →skilled eye that made Triumph of the Will so typical of the fascist aesthetic Sontag named. It was the orchestration of those massed bodies at Nuremberg. Sontag’s attempt demonstrates, by its neglect to take it into consideration, the importance of live performance in identifying a fascist aesthetic. The key to the Nazi aesthetic was not in Riefenstahl’s cameras, but in Albert Speer’s architecture of the Zeppelinfeld stadium and the manipulation of the breathing bodies within it.16 The fascist aesthetic that Sontag sought to pin down is not to be found primarily in stylistic cinematic choices. It is to be found in live performance, the moving body politic. It is not the representation of the event, but the phenomenon itself. The arrangement of bodies, the theatrical devices operating on live participants, the visceral effect of thousands of unison voices hitting thousands of nervous systems simultaneously, the vertiginous effect of being at the bottom of a massive slope of people—this is what comprised the Nazi aesthetic at Nuremberg, and this was not Riefenstahl’s engineering. People who felt drawn to Hitler because of the Nuremberg rallies felt that way not by watching a film—they experienced their exaltation when they were present, live, breathing and moving and hearing together, in the enormous body politic crafted by rally planners, the architect, musicians, and designers. Historian Gerwin Strobl puts it this way: interwar Germans experienced their “greatest” “true works of art” at the party rally, in “Hitler’s highly theatrical Gesamtkunstwerk of uniforms, music, lighting and carefully chosen settings.”17 Robert Brasillach, the influential French author and journalist, was moved by the “poetry” of National Socialism when immersed in the choreography of light and sound in the Zeppelinfeld ceremony: he recalled that it inundated the crowd with “the harshest ideas on the value of life and death.”18 After attending that rally, he joined the cause. The word “aesthetic”—drawn from the Greek word for “perception”—speaks to us of the senses. Performance aesthetics address the central nervous system, achieving their distinct influence by affecting multiple levels of sensory reception. Proceeding from the belief that visceral, live, communal art enacted through ideologically motivated innovative performance contains its own unique power, the present volume is concerned not with static forms or thematic issues alone, but also and always with performance and theater, with material aesthetic body politics—the engineering of perception and experience.

Unruly Vanguard Politics This volume prefers “vanguard performance” to the term “avant-garde,” not only because the phrase signifies a wider set of performance practices, but Page 6 →also because it enables us to identify related structures outside of our historically constricted field of understanding, especially in regard to politics. By using “vanguardism,” we restore ideological flexibility to our analyses. The term “avant-garde”—coming to us from the military and first applied to the arts around World War I—is heavily weighted by historical and political critical baggage. It is largely constrained by tradition to signify a Euro-American artistic tendency from roughly the end of the nineteenth century to the 1960s. “Avant-

garde” performance brings to mind movements such as surrealism (whose members joined the French Communist Party), Dada (whose creators protested World War I), and leftist and liberal-anarchist collectives of the 1960s. The phrase is hooked to a general belief in performance that acts against an oppressive system—performance by outsiders, the marginalized, positioning themselves in opposition to hegemonic structures.19 This is true: oppositional positionality underlies the avant-garde act. It comes into being as a response to a crisis. The critical field tends to connect avant-garde with progressive politics for this reason: modern Western culture associates experimental performance with institutional opposition, a legacy most vividly remembered today in terms of the progressive revolutions of the 1960s. But “reactionaries” hate the system, too, and equations of the avant-garde with left-leaning politics and ideologies have never been entirely accurate. Even the historical avant-garde does not embody a consistent set of ideals that is only occasionally troubled with an exception here for Italian futurism, an exception there for Luigi Pirandello. Indeed, the historical avant-garde often relied on sexist, racist, primitivist, and imperialist notions, a fact reflected in avant-garde historiography, as recently argued by James Harding and others.20 One of the appeals of avant-garde art is not obeying conventional rules, and lines from anarchy to anarchism to libertarianism flow back into the right-wing. Today, the political and cultural binaries underlying our traditional understanding of avant-garde performance no longer hold. As David Savran argues, the realms of “art and commerce, esoteric and popular, live and mediated, progressive and reactionary, avant-garde and kitsch” have folded in on one another.21 Richard Schechner argues that edgy, grants-funded contemporary performance artists—a “niche-garde”—are part of the new world hegemony—the corporation—and their work fuels and benefits from it, rather than resists it. The “niche-garde” draws from historical avant-garde performances but is not avant-garde itself. It is not against anything; it is merely a style. “Many of these artists are on the Left personally, but in their artistic practice, in terms of venues, audiences, and effects on the political world, this Left is apolitical, a styleLeft rather than a workers Left. This niche-garde is what moves around Page 7 →as the circulating stasis.”22 The avant-garde, Schechner argues, can no longer be thought of along binaries of right/left, conservative /progressive, because the only actual entity to oppose is the corporation, which has in fact created the new “niche-garde” and nourishes it. An avant-garde defines itself by its relationship to institutions, not primarily by its style. So formal innovation is a necessary, but not sufficient, criterion for vanguardism.23 A vanguard also believes itself to be minoritarian, counterhegemonic, anti-status quo.24 It defines itself relationally, which means it doesn’t have political fixity. It attempts to envision and establish an alternate social or aesthetic picture. It holds iconoclastic ideals, which occur on a spectrum that reaches both to individualism and to subsumption. Even extraordinarily conservative groups proudly view themselves as “mavericks,” as evidenced by Sarah Palin’s pronouncements at the 2008 Republican National Convention and the United States’ Tea Party movement’s language of “going rogue.” Vanguard performance is an ongoing movement in culture that can best be understood by separating it from a liberal-progressive historiography and associated value judgments. It can cross political spectrums while retaining its structure and position vis-Г -vis society. I propose we think of vanguard performance as a constant in modern culture and politics, one with no political or ideological home base. There is something radical in challenging the status quo from a minority position, to be sure, but radicalism—etymologically, from returning to roots—comes in all stripes. To speak of “vanguard performance,” then, not bounded by the historical connotations or genre-specific limitations of the term “avant-garde,” enables us to comparatively analyze the power of innovative and oppositional practices in the service of a larger social, philosophical, or political ideal.25 To speak of vanguardism allows us to keep an eye on cultural and aesthetic innovations in performance acts and be open to their material political power.

Heroic, Exalted, and Right-Wing Vanguards

This volume focuses on instances when vanguard performance troubles conventional political affiliations and categories. The works or artists explored here vary widely, but these essays all seek to correct a predilection in critical discussions of vanguard performance toward foregrounding leftist, progressive, or liberal politics. Our volume explores vanguard performance that explicitly establishes or supports a totalitarian regime; that is conservative or reactionary, seeking to secure or reestablish a status quo; or that creates a live Page 8 →event that is inherently coercive—emotionally, physically, ideologically—or immersive, working against the individual. (Such performances may do so unintentionally, paradoxically leading to constrictions of individual expression and freedom when they sought to expand them.) In addition, the following characteristics reappear in the works discussed: heroism, the moral valuation of violence, immersion, and emotionalism. Not all the works discussed embody all these characteristics, and in fact some features combat each other. The anthology is fueled by such tensions. The book’s thirteen essays cover three overlapping areas of investigation. These areas make up the book’s three parts: I. “Heroic Vanguards and Radical Reactionaries.” The essays in this part delve into the desire to create a new type of society, led on by an idealized heroic act. Richard Schechner, Patricia Gaborik, Monica Achen, Graham White, and Kara Reilly investigate al-Qaeda, the structures of power within vanguard performances that serve fascism, and the restoration of Japanese imperial rule. In each essay, our authors examine the interrelationship of the performance acts’ heroic ideals, innovation, and politics. Heroism, or, more generally, the courageous outsider resisting the system, is a ubiquitous ideal across competing political systems and ideologies. This section shows the heroic impulse at work in multiple incarnations—in demagoguery, patricide, suicide, and slaughter, drawing its idealized form directly from romanticism and the avant-garde. The anthology begins with Richard Schechner’s critical and often troubling unpacking of the ongoing mediation of the events and the reception of 9/11. His chapter raises questions explored by other essays in the volume and expands our range of conceptual possibilities for what we call avant-garde performance. The essay upsets categories of reality and representation, politics and aesthetics, affect and positionality through its argument that the 9/11 terrorist acts were avant-garde. Schechner acknowledges what composer Karlheinz Stockhausen blurted out first: that the attacks were remarkable from an artistic point of view in their conception, execution, and impact. He argues that the avant-garde contained the seeds of violence that came to terrible fruition in the act of al-Qaeda, and his essay provokes us to rethink what we admired in those early avant-garde works—their violence, heroism, extremity—now that we’ve seen one of their descendants. The experimental Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello has long troubled theater historians on the issue of innovative art and fascist politics, and Patricia Gaborik’s chapter addresses these ongoing problems of reception. Fascism and avant-garde art were by no means at odds in 1930s Italy, where art Page 9 →theaters under Mussolini’s sponsorship served, as Gaborik demonstrates, as laboratories of “intellectual exploration, theatrical innovation, and cultural formation.” Pirandello supported and benefited from Mussolini, who helped him found his own experimental theater. He wrote paeans to Il Duce, praising him as an artist of the people, an architect of the state, a heroic soul whose superior vision was needed to guide Italy into the future. These facts are readily available to anyone researching Pirandello, but they can be missed if one is only reading his plays. Pirandello has managed to live two lives in contemporary imaginations. One: the author of pivotal plays such as Six Characters in Search of an Author and Enrico IV, and two (for the researcher): a man who supported Il Duce. Further, critics often turn somersaults to prove that Pirandello was not a fascist—that he was, at worst, a naive opportunist. It’s rare that Pirandello critics can admit that he was both a fascist and a great author, but Gaborik’s essay begins with this fact. From there, she is able to deliver a profoundly original account of the role of artistic experimentation in Mussolini’s Italy—an account impossible to relate if one has not grappled with the full context of Pirandello’s work. When Germany was struggling to find its national footing, the German expressionists fantasized, as Monica Achen shows, about a rigorous, violent act that would whisk them outside the boundaries of European modernity, inspiring “authentic” feelings, primordial freedom. Similarly, when England was enervated in the 1930s, a

dream of a “great man” was needed to uplift the country, as Graham White shows in his essay on the failed attempt to create a heroic performance that would rejuvenate the masses. Loss in wartime often leads to a resurgent fantasy of happier or heroic times, so it’s not surprising that both of these essays revolve around fascism and the aftermath of war. Japanese modernity inspired an imperial backlash and created a national identity crisis that found violent expression in the arts. Kara Reilly analyses Mishima’s dramatic act of seppuku in the name of a reactionary coup d’état as vanguard performance, taking into account the historical resonance of samurai warrior ethos and its powerful connection with hero worship and sadomasochism. Mishima’s suicide, blurring the boundaries of life and art in a spectacle of reactionary masculinity, occurred in opposition to modern, increasingly secular Japan, in a last attempt to restore a diminishing imperial system. II. “Exalted and En Masse.” The essays in this part investigate the inherent amorality of exaltation, the powerful effect of live performance, and the ease with which mass and immersive performances can serve rightwing and totalitarian ideals. Immersion, togetherness, solidarity—from Wagner to the Page 10 →Living Theatre through raves, these impulses fuel fascist and communist, military and religious, right-wing and hippie gatherings alike. Throughout history and across cultures, the feeling of oneness created by participatory live performance is constantly conjured in vanguard practices. This part’s contributors also tackle the important task of locating where the avant-garde and rear guard draw from the same well. Muddled political affiliations recur throughout this part, and the authors demonstrate the reason: the artists create performance works that, by their very structures, encourage a loss of individual freedoms and thought. Odai Johnson, Katherine Profeta, Ann Pellegrini, and Erik Butler study choral dance, mass performance, participatory religious theater, and immersive musical concerts, respectively, which all hold out the same promise: relief from the perceived failures of society, a sense of triumph and belonging. In doing so, they draw on mythic narratives and the visceral power of choreographed bodies in space. Artists are key to regimes trying to establish a new world, because artists are mythmakers. Their work is essential to political solidification.26 So, as Johnson shows, when Rudolf Laban and Mary Wigman were dreaming of pure, universal dance, outside of time, their essentialist ideals were perfectly in line with fascists who adopted their work. Ann Pellegrini examines how the avant-garde act of staging a “hell house” springs from a minoritarian Christian group’s need to innovate new forms in order to establish its identity: “Evangelical Christians see themselves as marginal and in need of buffering, too, and hell house offers one way to reconfirm belief in the face of what they feel to be a secular hegemony.” In an essay examining a monumental nationalist mass performance, Katherine Profeta traces the work of Zhang Yimou, the architect of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. From his early works, which were dangerously subversive films, through the gargantuan Olympic ceremony, which glorified the Chinese singleparty state in a mass spectacle, Yimou claims—remarkably—that his ideas haven’t changed. What we see in Beijing is, after years of the artist’s suppression, an extraordinary innovation in mass performance, exaltation, and totalitarian politics. Form often feeds content, regardless of artists’ intentions. As Erik Butler points out, the rock group Laibach’s dynamic and aggressive immersive musical events might have been meant ironically, but it’s no surprise they were adopted by neo-Nazis. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine they wouldn’t be. Their overwhelming, marching, smothering sound operating within the controlled confines of a monumental visceral experience directly copies the fascist aesthetic. Page 11 →The essays in this part demonstrate that our yearnings for greatness and oneness, for beauty and exaltation are, in themselves, neither moral nor immoral; they are only emotional and aesthetic urges that can be powerfully channeled into a variety of social and political outlets. III. “Research Wings for the Right.” These essays examine cases where left-wing performance

involuntarily serves as idea-generation for right-wing regimes. Even progressive vanguard performances can easily be recuperated by nearly invisible but enormously powerful right-wing structures. A “research wing for the Right” comes into view as the essays explore performance innovations (often far outside traditional stage performance) that find themselves serving the ends of conservative economic, political, and social goals disconcertingly well. The authors investigate these moments of reappropriation, instrumentalization, and political exploitation in order to understand more clearly in what context contemporary vanguard performance can possibly function meaningfully. In this section, innovative work trips up its originators and entangles them in the hands of their enemies. By trying to change the established terms, vanguardists studied here inadvertently help to create a new status quo. War is a major site of innovation. Communication technologies, manufacturing processes, and social planning evolve in response to the changing needs of combat. Indeed, as we’ve noted, the term “avant-garde” derives from military advance troops. James Harding argues that war produced another kind of vanguard performance: espionage. His essay unfolds the process by which British undercover agents, captured by the Nazis, sent monitored messages back home, coding their status—“caught”—repeatedly in their missives. Their counterparts back in England, however, overtheorized their own vanguard practices, rationalizing that no truly “caught” agent would signal so blatantly. They thus ignored the warning and sent crucial classified information directly to the Germans. The British agents wound up as unwitting players in a performance out of their control. Their lesson appropriately begins this section: Vanguard performers can get so thoroughly caught up in their new ideas that they inadvertently aid their enemies. The contemporary global market has definitively proven that innovation fuels conservative and neoliberal economies, as the market gobbles up every new idea and uses it to spur its own growth. The “niche-garde” circulates the dry husks of recently invented forms, now commodities with no cutting edge.27 Guy Debord’s 1967 critique of the spectacle, a defining element of situationist thought, demonstrated that a capitalist economy effectively recuperates any potentially subversive act, turning it into a new product and a Page 12 →marketable style that enhances the spectacle.28 Situationist theory eliminated any lingering reasons to believe that formal innovation necessarily connects to subversive politics. Kim Solga, Liz Tomlin, and Mike Sell demonstrate how large swaths of avant-garde practice and criticism, supposedly embedded in “leftist” structures, can get trapped in the wheels of conservative machines. Tomlin’s essay demonstrates that a critique drawing from situationist thought—which posits that the avantgarde is always already recuperated by the spectacle—may be even more relevant today than it was nearly fifty years ago when Guy Debord first articulated it. Tomlin makes the case that “all artistic practice and research [is now subjected] to the rational and economic aims of вЂthe Culture Industry,’” which scours the UK arts scene, signing on new and potentially co-optable talent to add to its cutting-edge reputation in the arts. This is also the scene that brings us productions that attempt to rewrite, socially update, or redirect classical works from their sexist, racist, and otherwise biased roots. In this vein, Kim Solga, writing about UK theater company Cheek by Jowl’s performance of The Changeling, examines left-wing attempts to “claim” agency for characters trapped within oppressive textual contexts, finding that these attempts often end up creating new versions of the old problems. In terms of sexually restricted female characters, “left-wing activists meet right-wing pundits, politicians, and social thinkers” in discourses about female sexuality. The categories of “whore,” “victim,” and “survivor” confine women’s sexuality, and hegemonic structures, on either side, prove antithetical to female ownership of sexuality. These essays demonstrate that an artist’s dream can also be a nightmare—his or her work can take on a life of its own and, Frankenstein-like, turn against its creator. Finally, Mike Sell steps back and surveys the field of avant-garde studies itself, noticing a disturbing reinscription of the pattern mapped in the previous three essays: Vanguardism is frequently taken up by mainstream scholars and institutions in a way that keeps subversive ideas officially on the margins, while surreptitiously adopting the more profitable ideas. This “neoliberal” approach to vanguard studies functions like a conservative economy, taking what fuel it needs to maintain its power.

This book is a collection of analyses of individual artists and performances, but it is also—indeed, just as much—an act of critical vigilance. “Innovation,” while often perceived as valuable, is not in itself a mark of moral or ethical approval—it is not an honorific, but a descriptor. Too often, performance criticism involves finding ways to celebrate what one admires and Page 13 →condemn what one doesn’t. But if scholarship stops there, it fails to honor the intellectual rigor and engagement with divergent ideas that the academy espouses. The contributors to this volume attempt to reconcile seemingly dissonant, and even disturbing, sets of data, some confronting what Schechner refers to as “great evil art.” Exquisitely pathbreaking art can serve totalitarian, conservative, fascist, or reactionary ideals, and left-wing performance can easily be co-opted by such regimes, even if it started as a subversive, antihegemonic act. What an artist “intends” can fail; the performance can slip out of his or her grasp and serve other ends. This book questions our default assumptions of what and whom we’re talking about when we talk about “radical” and “experimental” performance, and it challenges us to think further about how politics plays out in vanguard performances. In doing so, our hope is that it opens up new questions concerning the historical avant-garde, vanguard acts, and the complex role of artistic innovation and live performance in global politics.

Notes 1.Erika Fischer-Lichte, Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre (London: Routledge, 2005), 136; and Gerwin Strobl, The Swastika and the Stage: German Theatre and Society, 1933–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 124 and note. 2.Strobl discusses what the Nazis used from Reinhardt’s work—particularly the use of the masses—in Swastika and Stage, 53. 3.For studies in art and literature, see, for example, Matthew Affron and Mark Antliff, eds., Fascist Visions: Art and Ideology in France and Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997) and Alice Yeager Kaplan’s Reproductions of Banality: Fascism, Literature, and French Intellectual Life (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986). Both draw from Zeev Sternhell’s groundbreaking Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995). 4.For examples of fascist art discussed in other art fields, see studies on Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, which proliferate. See Charles Ferrall, Modernist Writing and Reactionary Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001) for a recent work in this vein. For visual art, see Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s “Italian Fascism and the Aesthetics of the вЂThird Way,’” Journal of Contemporary History 31. 2 (April 1996): 293–316; Igor Golomstock, Totalitarian Art (New York: Icon Editions, 1990); and Mark Antliff, Avant-Garde Fascism: The Mobilization of Myth, Art, and Culture in France, 1909–1939 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). In film, see Kriss Ravetto, The Unmaking of Fascist Aesthetics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001). In the performing arts, dance has made some inroads in this area: see Lilian Karina and Marion Kant, Hitler’s Dancers: German Modern Dance and the Third Reich, trans. Jonathan Steinberg (New York: Berghahn Books, 2003). 5.Works to cite here that are extensively studied would be innumerable, spanning Page 14 →the historical avant-garde through the 1960s Living Theatre, Bread and Puppet Theater, and Augusto Boal to today’s Reverend Billy, Belarus Free Theater, and the ecosexual art of Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens. 6.Consider studies such as Susan Bennett’s Theatre Audiences (New York: Routledge, 1997) that work largely within the premise that performance can empower and promote individual liberties and social critique. 7.Mike Sell calls for progressive critics to attend to all the forms the avant-garde can take: “We should defend, conserve and constructively criticize vanguard tendencies that, in the past or the present, have expanded the scope of social justice, improved the general welfare of the planet and empowered imagination, creativity and expression. Just as surely, we should work to identify, assess, criticize and undermine those avant-gardes that intend to curtail justice, degrade the planetary ecosystem or enslave and exploit the power to imagine and enact a better tomorrow.” Mike Sell, The Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War (New York: Seagull Books, 2011), 6. 8.Mike Sell, Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005), 29. 9.I examine this tendency in regard to Antonin Artaud in Artaud and His Doubles (Ann Arbor: University

of Michigan Press, 2010). 10.James Harding and John Rouse discuss how key critics such as Peter Burger, Renato Poggioli, and Matei Calinescu limit the role of performance in vanguard studies: “With the exception of a few instances when performance is positioned in a subordinate relation to literary precedent and authority, all of these critics overlook performance as a viable category for understanding the avant-garde as a mode of artistic expression. In short, performance is already excluded from the questions they have allowed themselves to ask.” James Harding and John Rouse, eds., Not the Other Avant-Garde (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 8. 11.Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 25. For his discussion of “docile bodies,” see especially 135–169. 12.Riefenstahl’s theoretical importance in this discussion is testified to by the number of our authors who approach her work. The longest discussion occurs in Erik Butler’s essay. 13.Susan Sontag, “Fascinating Fascism,” in Under the Sign of Saturn (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980), 73–105. 14.Sontag, “Fascinating Fascism,” 97. She enacted the inverse of this in her interpretation of Antonin Artaud, whose techniques she read in the light of her empathy for his suffering. See “Approaching Artaud,” in Under the Sign of Saturn, 13–70. 15.Quoted from the American denazification report in Steven Bach, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (New York: Vintage, 2007), 225. 16.Albert Speer designed the spaces of most of Hitler’s rallies, including the Zeppelinfeld stadium at Nuremberg, with its famous “cathedral of light.” In Triumph of the Will, he is credited as the art director. 17.Strobl, Swastika and Stage, 27. 18.Quoted and translated in Constance Spreen, “Resisting the Plague: The French Reactionary Right and Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty,” Modern Language Quarterly 64.1 (2003): 95. 19.For foundational examples of avant-garde theory, see the work of Renato Poggioli, Peter BГјrger, and Matei Calinescu. Page 15 → 20.James Harding demonstrates in Not the Other Avant-Garde that the historiography of the avant-garde itself is bound up in a Eurocentric and colonialist narrative that perceives history as a linear movement of expansion. In a similar vein, Rebecca Schneider shows how an idea of “savage primitivism” fueled early modernist fires, providing an idealized undeveloped “other” that made visible the superiority of Western modernism. Rebecca Schneider, The Explicit Body in Performance (New York: Routledge, 1997), 129. For a discussion of how several theorists in the 1980s highlighted this idea in individual studies, see Mike Sell, “Resisting the Question: вЂWhat Is an Avant-Garde?’” New Literary History 41.4 (Autumn 2010): 756. 21.David Savran, “The Death of the Avantgarde,” TDR 49.3 (2005): 10–42. 22.Richard Schechner, “The Conservative Avant-Garde,” New Literary History 41.4 (Autumn 2010): 895–913, at 909. 23.Mike Sell argues that a definition of the avant-garde cannot rely on formal innovation, but must focus on its position vis-Г -vis its enabling institutions. According to Sell, the avant-garde must challenge power, be a minority, and work within culture. Sell, “Resisting the Question,” 769. 24.For a more elaborate discussion of this “minoritarian” element of vanguardism, see Mike Sell, The Avant-Garde. 25.Mike Sell argues for a discussion of “critical vanguard studies” in, among other places, The Avant-Garde. 26.Discussed in Affron and Antliff, Fascist Visions, 6. 27.See Schechner, “The Conservative Avant-Garde,” and Paul Mann, The Theory-Death of the Avant-Garde (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991). 28.Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995).

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Part I • Heroic Vanguards and Radical Reactionaries

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Part Introduction Performance at the Edge of the Abyss Alan Filewod To determine the totality of traits by which “the modern” is defined would be to represent hell. —Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project In her examination of revolutionary patricide in German expressionist drama in this volume, Monica Achen cites Joseph Goebbels’s historic “total war” speech of 1943, in which he sought to rally the German people after the defeat at Stalingrad with the vision of a war “more total and radical than we can even imagine it today.” Goebbels was a failed novelist with a PhD in Romantic drama, and his vision of consuming and transformative war bridges the idea of the Romantic sublime with the political and technological capacity to invoke it. The terrible relationship between radical fantasy and political brutality is at the heart of all of the essays in this first part, and it leads inexorably to Richard Schechner’s struggle to comprehend the spectacle of 9/11 in terms of Stockhausen’s famous comment that the attack on the towers was “the greatest work of art imaginable.” Writing as both theorist and witness, Schechner ponders the events in terms of a spectacle-affect that, in its way, brought material realization to the avant-garde dream of transformative, totalizing art. September 11 may have emerged from what Slavoj ЕЅiЕѕek called America’s “ideological fantasizing,”1 and it may have been understood to have been an epochal and transformative moment (more in the United States than elsewhere in a world where bombs, destroyed buildings, and civilian casualties are not so uncommon), but as Schechner explains, its significance was in the way that it transformed symbology into an Artaudian sublime in which “the destruction is the means toward the end of creating terror, which is a state of mind.” Page 20 →How performance brings invisible idealities and ideologies of violence into the real is the tissue that connects the chapters in this first part, all of which examine the ways extremist reactionary movements have used vanguard performance to generate transformative affect. Considered as the transmission of feeling, affect is the common thread that draws together the multiple dimensions of “performance” in these essays: political spectacle, social performativity, self-theatricalization, and canonical theater all share an urgency to compel and consume spectatorship. These essays address both the public and the private performance spheres in which modernism offered radical solutions to artists whose worldviews had been utterly consumed and recast by the global wars of the twentieth century. If, as Benjamin once remarked, every generation sees itself on the edge of an abyss, these are artists who, having crawled out of that abyss, sought to re-create it.2 These movements appear to share a common complicity in the extreme Right, but these reflections on the complicity of performance in ideologies of violence cannot be mapped onto a reductive binary of left and right (a binary that was arguably produced by modernity and erased by the nuclear bomb). As the example of Arnolt Bronnen’s seamless shift from Nazism to state communism shows all too clearly in Monica Achen’s contribution, the ideological spectrum is cursive, and at all points susceptible to hypermasculinity, visionary fantasy, and historical grandiosity. The historical moments included here share a valorization of violence and submission and an enhanced understanding of the process by which performance generates phenomenal reality and relays it to the distributed audiences of mass media. We can trace that process throughout these essays. They mark an intensifying engagement with the notion of performance as catastrophe, of what Monica Achen, in her essay on Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s expressionist patricidal fantasies, refers to as “performance and politics and beyond representation.” Pirandello’s on-again/off-again dalliance with fascist aesthetics, as examined by Patricia Gaborik, exposes the ambivalence of the modernist artist, who sees but does not see. The famous incident in which he offered his Nobel Prize medal to be melted into war material is one of the points at which artistic reflection becomes gestural

activism. The gesture is symbolic, but the result is not. There is an echo here of what Achen refers to as expressionism’s “ecstatic calls for bloodshed.” Each of these studies touches on war as the gateway to the sublime, and in them we see a willing submission to fantasies of heroism, invariably configured around Graham White’s notion of the “catalyst hero.” These fantasies are literary as well as performative, and it is no accident that three of the fantasists we encounter here (Pirandello, Henry Williamson,Page 21 → and Yukio Mishima) were, like Goebbels, novelists who sought to break through the barricade of the written word. Literature can envision but not enact; performance can enact but cannot transform. Pirandello took to the stage; Williamson strove to become a maker of events; and Mishima brought desire, power, and radical transformation together in a moment of totalizing performance in which he extinguished himself. We can never really know if the jihadists of 9/11 could understand their actions in terms of the spectacle-affect that has a history in vanguard performance. The vision of machine-death summoned out of the sky, and its compulsion to aesthetics, have been components of the modernist imagination ever since Percival Lowell announced that he saw canals on Mars in 1895. For popular audiences, who did not see the salons of Paris or the theaters of imperial capitals, modernist performance came into their lives through mass media and through futurist visions delivered in the pulp magazine genre that radio pioneer Hugo Gernsback called “science fiction” in 1929. The development of the European avant-garde parallels the rapid developments in mass media at the end of the nineteenth century, and it can be plotted against the domestication of wireless communications and radio. In the mid-nineteenth century, telegraphy opened up the commercial possibilities of remote communication: nationalism plus markets plus telegraphy equaled imperialism. Telegraphy itself, prior to the invention of the wireless, was one of the formative conditions of modernism, roughly defined as the global era in which discourses of humanity and human subjectivity come to define the principles of economic and cultural traffic. The “global” reach of modernity was in fact the reach of imperialism. At the heart of modernity was the ability of mass communications to disseminate, mobilize, and silence social phenomena. The rapid social acceptance of radio and the exponentially increasing sales of home wireless receivers brought about a radical transformation of North American culture that can only be compared in scale to the digital revolution of the late twentieth century. The wireless revolution opened up new cultural forms, new aesthetics, new political movements, new religions, and new understandings of reception and audience. Radio manufacturers started broadcast stations to sell radios; stations sought new sounds to broadcast to recruit listeners, and in the process discovered that radio frequencies could be owned, and that time itself is a market commodity. In this world of industrial technology and political revolution, artistic vanguardism (of which the now canonical avant-garde that Schechner traces was but one trajectory) was not a property of any one political community. Goebbels’s gesture to Piscator, alluded to in Kimberly Jannarone’s introduction,Page 22 → may seem surprising to later generations living with the legacies of early Soviet proletarian modernism and accustomed to equate avant-gardism with leftist revolutionary politics, but it is hardly inexplicable. Piscator had been doing with theater exactly what Goebbels had been doing with radio. In both cases, electric technology transmitted somatic affect through performance distributed across multiplied bodies and summoned social pluralities in its reception. For Piscator, live performance took place in a theater machine that integrated new media, and for Goebbels (who, like Mussolini, dabbled in playwriting), the live audience and remote listeners were conjoined in one acoustic space. This was a discovery that was instrumental for the vanguardist movements that had access to radio transmission. Thousands heard those first radio preachers; they quickly grew to millions, and not quite a century later, multiplied into the billions who watched the burning towers of 9/11 as the staged spectacle-moment looped endlessly around the world. From his apartment, Richard Schechner watched the towers fall and thought of avantgarde catastrophic fantasy and Artaud. The essays in this part all address similar moments when art envisioned and welcomed the abyss. Several of these essays invoke the idea of the sublime, of the totality that negates

individuation in a vaster ontology. The irony of that desire is that the modernist sublime materializes as a machine: a radio, a megaphone, a film camera, an airplane over a city, a robot drone over a desert.

Notes 1.Slavoj Žižek, “Welcome to the Desert of the Real!” South Atlantic Quarterly 101.2 (March 2002): 386. 2.Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 545.

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9/11 as Avant-Garde Art? Richard Schechner [The attacks of 9/11 were] the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos. Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn’t even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for 10 years, preparing fanatically for a concert, and then dying, just imagine what happened there. You have people who are that focused on a performance and then 5,000 [sic] people are dispatched to the afterlife, in a single moment. I couldn’t do that. By comparison, we composers are nothing. Artists, too, sometimes try to go beyond the limits of what is feasible and conceivable, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves to another world.В .В .В . It’s a crime because those involved didn’t consent. They didn’t come to the “concert.” That’s obvious. And no one announced that they risked losing their lives. What happened in spiritual terms, the leap out of security, out of what is usually taken for granted, out of life, that sometimes happens to a small extent in art, too, otherwise art is nothing. —Karlheinz Stockhausen, “Documentation” Stockhausen aside, how can anyone call the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers a work of art? Of what value is such a designation? What does calling the destruction of the Twin Towers a work of art assert about (performance) art, the authenticity of “what really happened,” and social morality during and after the first decade of the twenty-first century? To even begin to address these questions, I need to refer to the history of the avantgarde—because it has been avant-garde artists who for more than a century have called for the violent destruction of existing aesthetic, social, and political systems. Of French origin, avant-garde—cognate to vanguard and van—has been used in English since the end of the fifteenth century. The OED states that the avant-gardePage 24 → is “the foremost part of an army” but also refers to being “ahead” or “first” in any number of circumstances.1 At the start of the nineteenth century the term was taken up by social activists, utopians, and artists to signify those ahead of the rest of society.2 The word kept its militancy, especially among artists. Here are a few exemplary quotations, roughly decade by decade, from a large repertory: 1909, from F. T. Marinetti’s “Futurist Manifesto”: “Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.В .В .В . We want to demolish museums and libraries.В .В .В . For art can only be violence, cruelty, injustice.”3 1918, from Tristan Tzara’s “Second Dada Manifesto”: “We are preparing the great spectacle of disaster, conflagration and decomposition. Preparing to put an end to mourning, and to replace tears by sirens spreading from one continent to another.”4 1938, from AndrГ© Breton and Leon Trotsky’s manifesto “Towards a Free Revolutionary Art”: “True art is unable not to be revolutionary, not to aspire to a complete and radical reconstruction of society.”5 1960, from the Situationist Manifesto: “The existing framework cannot subdue the new human force that is increasing day by day alongside the irresistible development of technology and the dissatisfaction of its possible uses in our senseless social life.В .В .В . All real progress has clearly been suspended until the revolutionary solution of the present multiform crisis.”6 Artists’ manifestos advocating revolutionary terror all but vanished after the 1960s, even in the midst of the bloody student uprisings in France, the United States, and Mexico in 1968. The Living Theatre’s manifestos proclaimed the rhetoric of violent revolution: “If we are going to bring down the structure, we are going to have to attack it from all sides, all ten thousand.”7 But everyone knew that the Living Theatre was intrepidly

nonviolent. Violent manifestos made real by actual explosions continued to be issued by groups such as the Weather Underground, not by artists. Why did artists move away from advocating violence? I have no definite answer. Possibly, the realization that Soviet Communism failed to deliver the goods soured the taste for revolution. More likely, given World War II, the Holocaust, the Page 25 →atomic bombs, and the fears engendered by the Cold War, calling for violence no longer seemed wise or ethical. This did not stop teachers and artists from honoring the futurists, dadaists, surrealists, and situationists. Moreover, Antonin Artaud’s ideas from the 1930s saturated theater theory and practice, culminating in Peter Brook’s hugely influential “theater of cruelty season” of 1964. Artaud’s importance to avantgarde theater is canonical, but he might also be writing a scenario for al-Qaeda: 1933, from “The Theater and Cruelty”: “The Theater of Cruelty proposes to resort to a mass spectacle; to seek in the agitation of tremendous masses, convulsed and hurled against each other, a little of that poetry of festivals and crowds when, all too rarely nowadays, the people pour out into the streets. The theater must give us everything that is in crime, love, war, or madness, if it wants to recover its necessity.В .В .В . Hence this appeal to cruelty and terrorВ .В .В . on a vast scale.”8 Granted that Artaud stipulated that “the image of a crime presented in the requisite theatrical condition is something infinitely more terrible for the spirit than that same crime when actually committed.”9 But in our day, the walls between the real and the virtual have crumbled; the theatrical and the actual have merged. What 9 /11 offered was a spectacle of cruelty in the Artaudian sense, “terrorВ .В .В . on a vast scale.” Taken together, the message coming from many key avant-garde artists and theorists, insistently repeated for more than a century, is clear. Destroy the current order. Create a new order, or anarchy. Are these manifestos mere ineffectual fantasies of powerless artists? Or do they set a tone that carries over from avant-garde art into popular entertainments—and beyond into actual events? Indeed, so-called high art and pop have merged just as news has melded into entertainment. Additionally, at least since 1971, when Chris Burden had a friend shoot him in the arm, many performance artists have wounded themselves, opened their veins as art, suspended themselves from hooks, slaughtered animals, and in manifold ways used real violence in the arts. Rituals—art’s close relation—include flagellation, scarring, circumcision, subincision, and so on. Popular culture is full of tattoos, piercings, and cosmetic surgeries, which, whatever their psychological and sociological meanings, enact the desire to be beautiful. Aestheticizing and ritualizing violence, not as representations (as in the visual arts, theater, or other media) but as actual acts performed in the here and now, are widespread. But, you might argue, except for the rituals, the manifestos, performance art, and violent Page 26 →practices of popular culture are largely a part of Western civilization, a system that Osama bin Laden and his allies explicitly despise, stand apart from, and wish to destroy. But is this really so? First of all, beautification by means of intrusive body alteration is practiced all over the world. Second, al-Qaeda and other jihadists are not averse to using those aspects of Western culture they find helpful. Bin Laden and his allies have taken advantage of the media and advanced technology, from the Internet to hijacked jets. The technological sophistication of the jihadists debunks the ruling myth that they are primitive cave dwellers living in tribal areas. In fact, no location is outside the global net, not even northeast Pakistan and Afghanistan; and no tribe or group of people is absolutely other. Paradoxically, the West and the jihadists occupy very separate spheres from the point of view of values while sharing the same global system from the point of view of techniques. Osama bin Laden issued his fatwas over the Internet, released videotapes of his speeches, and exploited global financial instruments to pay for al-Qaeda’s operations. In the media, where any mention is better than absence, jihadists and the warriors against terror compete for imagination space on the global stage. Almost as they were occurring, the 9/11 attacks were marketed as popular entertainment. Representations of the attacks are paradigmatic of the accelerating conflation of news and entertainment, and not only in the United States. In Yueqing, a newly industrialized city southwest of Shanghai, videos showing the attacks were for sale by September 14. In larger cities, these videos probably were on the market even sooner. As Peter Hessler reported from China:

They stocked them on the same racks as the Hollywood movies. Often the 9/11 videos were located in the cheaper sections, alongside dozens of American films.В .В .В . All of the 9/11 videos had been packaged to look like Hollywood movies. I found a DVD entitled “The Century’s Greatest Catastrophe”; the box front featured photographs of Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, and the burning Twin Towers. On the back, a small icon noted that it had been rated R, for violence and language.10 In the United States, news programs are sponsored. That is, the news is given in small temporal units, and after two or three items there is another temporal unit, a commercial break. This format of program content and advertising running sequentially is the same for news, sports, drama, and various contestant shows (quiz shows, American Idol, etc.), including reality television. The Page 27 →exponential increase in reality television—the presentation of apparently actual ordinary people either in the midst of their ordinary lives or, more frequently, in some real or cooked-up crisis situation, further erases the boundary between the real (including news) and the made for entertainment. (Internet sites such as YouTube and its many Internet cognates further blur the boundaries between the real and the fictional.) The television presentations of the 9/11 attacks soon took on the qualities of a made-for-television drama series. Within hours after the planes struck the Twin Towers, each of the networks found a melodramatic title for its coverage of the attacks and the consequent events: CBS, “Attack on America”; ABC, “America under Attack”; CNN, “America’s New War.” A drumbeat began that led up to and into the bombing and invasion of Iraq in 2003. There was also much pathos. On September 14, NBC aired “America Mourns,” heartbreaking stories mixed with calls for dedicated patriotism. On the first anniversary of the attack, the networks aired such programs as “The Day That Changed America” (CBS), “Report from Ground Zero” (ABC), and “9/11, the Day America Changed” (Fox). The 9/11 attack segued into the American-led war against Iraq, with its own titles on television. It all went under the overall official rubric of the war on terror. The program titles, the style of presenting the news, and the sequencing of advertising and news items showed how television, more than the other media, marketed 9/11 and the (second) Iraq War as a made-for-television series. This series included many subplots. Reporters were embedded with the troops on the ground. There were daily suicide bombings and attacks of what the government and media called insurgents. Civilians were slaughtered in these bombings and also by the allied military. Individual stories of death and wounds, pain and pathos, were aired side by side with reports of the growing opposition to the war as well as ritualized official reports of “We’re winning.” The high point (or maybe the low point) of this competition for attention in the entertainment version of reality was President Bush’s May 1, 2003, arrival by jet fighter onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, where a giant banner proclaimed, “Mission Accomplished.” Here melodrama gave way to farce. Bush was gussied up in a flight suit though he was a passenger, not the pilot. Who descended to the carrier’s flight deck? Bush or a Tom Cruise impersonator? Bush’s show is not the only one of its kind. These conflations of news, staged media events, and actuality do not make the 9/11 attack and the Iraq War art, but they come very close to the melodramatic form of the serial. For performance theorists and historians, the collapse of aesthetic categories was already familiar from Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol. In that collapse, Page 28 →the ordinary urinal dubbed Fountain, the famous movie star (Marilyn Monroe), the common supermarket item (Campbell’s soup cans), and high art are not easily if at all distinguishable. At the far ends of the spectrum—urinal, movie star, and supermarket item at one end and the masterpieces that hang in the august galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the other—distinctions are still clear. But today most of the art world and the real world live in between these extremes. The reportingfictionalizing of 9/11, including the broadcasting and rebroadcasting of iconic images of the explosions, fires, destruction, aftermath, and war, constitutes not only an absorption of events into the popular imagination but also a presentation of events as objets d’art.11 On 9/11 there were four planes heading for their targets. Two torpedoed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, one damaged the Pentagon, and the fourth plane—probably headed for the White House or the Capitol Building—had its mission foiled by the resistance of the passengers and crashed in the woods of Pennsylvania. Given four planes and three targets, why almost immediately did 9/11 mean the destruction of the World Trade

Center towers? New York is a real place, but it is also Batman’s Gotham and Superman’s Metropolis. It is, to many Americans, simply the City, quintessentially American and foreign simultaneously. Weirdly, I wonder if the jihadists knew Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”: Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today I want to be a part of it—New York, New YorkВ .В .В . If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.12 And why did the first attack occur at 8:45 a.m. eastern time and the second at 9:03? If the planes had crashed into the towers three hours later, many more people would have died. If the two planes hit simultaneously or nearly so, the media would not have seen the collision, only the aftermath. I believe the jihadists timed their hijackings as a one-two punch for maximum spectacular effect, synchronized to the morning news cycle in New York and midday in Europe. Their intention was not to kill as many people as possible but to reach as large a spectatorship in the West as possible. The World Trade Center was the epicenter not only of the attacks but also of the imaginary that is 9/11. And what kind of imaginary is that? When on September 16 the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen called the destruction of the World Trade Center towers “the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos,” his remark was greeted by rage Page 29 →and disgust. Also commenting on 9/11 was the 1997 Nobel laureate in literature, Dario Fo, who circulated an e-mail message stating: The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty—so what is 20,000 [sic] dead in New York? Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation.13 Later I will say why Fo’s remarks drew no criticism, while Stockhausen was pilloried for his. At present, I return to the question of art and of what kind. This leads me to the sublime as expounded by Immanuel Kant in 1790. Kant writes that the response to the sublime—“a negative pleasure.В .В .В . An outrage on the imagination”—is different from the positive, life-affirming response to beauty.14 “Negative pleasure” and “an outrage on the imagination” were precisely the reaction of many who witnessed in real time or in replay the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. But we must go further into Kant’s assertion and give an opinion on its relation to art as we have known it, avant-garde art especially. Kant discusses the sublime mostly in relation to any extraordinary natural occurrence, which in “its chaos, or in its wildest and most irregular disorder and desolation provided it gives signs of magnitude and powerВ .В .В . chiefly excites the ideas of the sublime.”15 But Kant is not satisfied. He notes that if something is greatВ .В .В . without qualification, absolutely, and in every respect (beyond all comparison) great, that is to say, sublime, we soon perceive that for this it is not permissible to seek an appropriate standard outside itself, but merely in itself. It is a greatness comparable to itself alone. Hence it comes that the sublime is not to be looked for in things of nature, but only in our own ideas.16 In other words, insofar as the 9/11 attack was a successful assault on the imagination, it was sublime. But isn’t it obscene to consider such an event sublime? Can the horrible even as it is unfolding be experienced as art? Even before Kant, in 1757, Edmund Burke tackled this question in his treatise On the Sublime and Beautiful.17 Burke’s salient, if disturbing, observation is that even the most exquisitely executed of the “imitative arts” cannot compete with the “delight in Page 30 →seeing things” that we would in no way want to endorse or see done. In this vein, Vernon Hyde Minor notes:

We are drawn to disasters not because of some perverse pleasure in others’ pain, but because we cannot be of a caring disposition unless we find something agreeable in astonishment, something satisfying about the horribleВ .В .В . we are quite naturally aestheticized—rather than anesthetized—by horrific events of great historic significance.В .В .В . The vast, powerful, terrifying forces unleashed by ill-used human technology overwhelms our cognitive faculties, revealing to us in gut-wrenching terms our inability to grasp, comprehend, or—and this is particularly challenging for an artist—to accomplish anything of such magnitude.18 “Aestheticized—rather than anesthetized—by horrific events of great historic significance” is a deep insight of the process (many) people undergo in assimilating otherwise hard-to-swallow events. Aestheticization is not the only response to these kind of horrific-yet-fascinating-and-“attractive” events, but it is one strategy. Making art about them—in protest, awe, and sometimes support—is another response. And, of course, political and military action is still another. Far from wanting to eliminate one response in favor of another, I prefer to hold them all in consciousness with regard to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. But even if the 9/11 attack is art, is it good or bad from an ethical-moral-political point of view? Most of what we today call art carries an ideological or religious message. In the West, before the Renaissance and the advent of capitalism, there was no category of fine art as such. Notions of art for art’s sake were not theorized in the West until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At present, most art remains bound to forces outside itself and is not independent or disinterested. Most art is good or bad in an ethical-moral-political way in terms of values operating beyond or despite the work itself. To cite two well-known examples of great bad or evil art according to today’s value system: D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. What is both obvious and troubling is that determining what’s good or bad is dependent on the beliefs of whoever is making the judgment. In other words, there may be some agreement universally about what is art and what is not, what is sublime and what is not, but there is no such agreement, nor can I foresee a time when there will be, about what is ethically-morally-politically good or bad. By mainstream American standards, the 9/11 attack was evil. Thus it is Page 31 →understandable that Stockhausen’s remarks were met with outrage. But why did Fo’s even more harsh opinion regarding the United States and the victims of 9/11 hardly cause a ripple? Because Fo was not talking about art. He situated 9/11 within the sphere of politics, ideology, and war. Stockhausen placed 9/11 within the art world. And art is not as serious as politics; art is play, secondary, a representation. However, from the perspective of performance studies, the attack on the World Trade Center was a performance: planned, rehearsed, staged, and intended both to wound the United States materially and to affect and infect the imagination. The destruction of two iconic buildings, and the murder of so many people in one fell swoop, was intended to deliver a very specific message about the boldness of the jihad and the vulnerability of the United States. A performance, surely, but art? I believe that the attack can be understood as the actualization of key ideas and impulses driving the avant-garde. Thierry de Duve writes: It is as if the history of the avant-gardes were a dialectical history cast off by the contradictions of art and non-art, the history of a prohibition and of its transgression. A slogan could sum it up: it is forbidden to do whatever, let’s do it.В .В .В . This is a duty and not a right.В .В .В . What could anyone do once it is mandatory that everything be permitted or, as the rebelling students said in May ’68, once it is forbidden to forbid?19 Seen this way, the 9/11 attack was in direct succession to futurist, anarchist, and other avant-garde manifestos and actions; destructive as with the Vienna Aktionists; massive as with Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s drapings of buildings and the landscapes.20 To those opposing al-Qaeda, 9/11 was bad art in the ethical and moral sense. It was illegal art from the point of view of international law because it targeted civilians. But it was avant-garde art from the point of view of the tradition I am discussing. Is this kind of analysis perverse, not only doing dishonor to the dead and injured but also soiling what art is or ought to be? Does such a designation grant the jihadists much more than they deserve? And does it help us understand better the world we are living in?

Stockhausen was actually envious of the jihadists. “I couldn’t do that. By comparison, we composers are nothing.” He desired the most extreme place for art. “Artists, too, sometimes try to go beyond the limits of what is feasible and conceivable, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves to another world” (“Documentation”). He was claiming an importance for art in the Page 32 →real world. Not the art-like art that hangs in museums or is heard in concert halls and theaters but the lifelike art Allan Kaprow did and theorized—art that is action, not representation. De Duve wrote before 9/11, while Frank Lentricchia and Jody McAuliffe wrote after, locating Stockhausen’s opinion among a long tradition of artistic fanatics: The desire beneath many romantic literary visions is for a terrifying awakening that would undo the West’s economic and cultural order.В .В .В . As any avant-garde artist might, Stockhausen sees the devotion of high artistic seriousnessВ .В .В . in the complete commitment of the terrorists.В .В .В . Like terrorists, serious artists are always fanatics; unlike terrorists, serious artists have not yet achieved the “greatest” level of art.21 A single attack has changed world history. What (other) art act has done that? Having just written this, I confess that I am very uncomfortable. I have reasoned my way into a position that I ethically reject. Maybe my way out is to assert that art requires artists who consciously choose to make art and spectators who willingly observe art. This, surely, is the modern humanist tradition. But there are ritual performances that are extremely powerful, performatively and artistically, in terms of structure, color, rhythms, narratives, and so on and that require and enforce participation and witnessing. Indeed, many artworks are not the products of free will. Are only the planners and overlords artists, and not the workers or victims? Consider the pyramids of Egypt and Teotihuacan, Mexico, generally regarded as architectural masterpieces. The Egyptian pyramids were constructed by slaves, and the Teotihuacan pyramids and surrounding ceremonial site show that human sacrifices took place. Time washes the blood off the stones; the magnificent stones remain unstained by what once were the immediacies of experience. The 9/11 attack is too recent, too drenched in our people’s blood, too much a part of unfinished historical business. We reject the possibility that 9/11 may be art because so many of our own people were killed and wounded; and because our national and cultural psyche was violated. From our humanist perspective the attack was ethically horrific: “innocent people” died—the phrase in quotation marks because to the jihadists those who died were not innocent. Their very presence on the planes and in the Twin Towers marked them as participating in hated Western culture. To this way of thinking, there are no neutrals, no bystanders. Still, neither Mohammed Atta nor the other hijackers thought of themselves as artists. They would have absolutely rejected the label “art” in relation Page 33 →to their actions. And most of those who write about 9/11 do not place it in the domain of art. If there is art in 9/11, it is in the reception and aftermath: what Stockhausen imagined when he saw the media representations of the attack. In the unfolding event, visual artists, performance artists, writers, artists of any kind can do just about anything with what happened. There is nothing new in that: Goya and Picasso—not to mention Homer, Aeschylus, Vyasa, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Hemingway, and many more—have made masterpieces from the horrors of war. But all these works are reflective. They came after raw, unmediated events. What makes 9/11 different is that it was mediated from the outset and intended to be mediated. Its authors’ purpose was not to conquer or occupy territory, or even slaughter as many civilians as possible, but to stage a stunning media event, photo op, and real-life show—a terrifying, sublime event. As such, it exists in both the propagandistic and aesthetic realms—and existed there while it was happening. This nowness is fundamental. It does not cancel out representations after the fact: the documentaries, dramas, films, writings, firsthand accounts, and memorials all came later, on September 12 and after. But they were supplemental to the attack itself, which was already a media event as it was happening. Liminal to that event were the hundreds if not thousands of impromptu “Have You Seen?” notices and photographs posted around and sometimes far from Ground Zero or put on the Internet. These were not accounts of what happened; nor were they ongoingly part of the attack. They were collateral theater (parallel to collateral damage in a military operation). Even while the Twin Towers were burning, people sought information about missing loved ones. The media picked up on these notices, which individually were simply pieces of paper but collectively walls of anxiety and grief. Each notice carried its own hope against hopelessness. No one knows

exactly how many people found each other through this means. Soon enough, the notices were joined by flowers, a sure sign of condolence. If the 9/11 fireballs and astonishing tidal wave of dust and debris as first the towers collapsed were terrifying, gigantic, and sublime, the walls of notices seeking the missing were pitiful individual atoms of human yearning. These notices were part of the spectacle even as they provided a human-scale entry into experiencing what was happening. People who didn’t know anyone in the World Trade Center gazed at the notices as a way of empathizing with those who had lost someone. The walls of “Have you Seen?” tied the enormity of the collective catastrophe to thousands of smaller expressions of individual need. Lentricchia and McAuliffe do not stop by situating the 9/11 attacks within a tradition of transgressive art. They go on to discuss 9/11 in relation Page 34 →to popular culture—how soon after 9/11 the New York site of the attack became “Groundzeroland,”22 a mecca (how’s that for irony) for tourists, and a site for nationalist mythmaking in the Wagnerian tradition: On December 30, 2001, Mayor [Rudolf] Giuliani opened a viewing platform for the folk over the mystic gulf that is Ground Zero, a stage to which he urged Americans, and everybody, to come and experience “all kinds of feelings of sorrow and then tremendous feelings of patriotism.” .В .В . The platform’s purpose is to connect tourists to their history at a site that perfectly conjoins terrorism, patriotism, and tourism.23 By now the platform is gone, but its intention lives on in the work of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. I wish I had a neat conclusion to my ruminations. I don’t. I cannot settle in my own mind the question of whether 9/11 in itself is art or can be more fully understood under the rubric of art. From the morning of 9/11 onward, I’ve been troubled by this question. The terrace of my apartment has a clear view of lower Manhattan. That morning, I was watching television when I heard shouts from workmen constructing a New York University building on La Guardia Place. I went onto my terrace, looked south, and about one mile away I saw the blazing North Tower. I thought it was a horrible accident but wondered how such an accident could happen on a day when the sky was blue and clear. Moments later, I saw a plane flying low make a sharp turn from north to west. “Oh, my!” I said or thought. Something banal and full of shock. Then I saw the plane slice into the South Tower as smoothly as a hot knife into butter. Not a sound. A silent movie in full color. A great ball of orange flame and black smoke. It was terrifying; it was sublime; it was horrible; it was beautiful. After that, except for about forty-five minutes when my wife and I fetched our daughter from school, I stood on my terrace with some neighbors who had come over because they knew of the view. We watched as the towers came down, et cetera. What did I do? I offered people something to drink and eat, told them where the bathroom was. From the terrace we watched and talked, amazed, horrified, excited, scared, fascinated. We used binoculars. We saw some people flinging themselves from the towers. I wish I could report that I had only the correct reactions—I wish I could write that it so horrified me that I turned away, daring not to look, or that I was overcome with Aristotle’s pity and fear. But it was a lot more complicated than that. I had seen high-wire acts in circuses. I had watched a lot of Page 35 →violence on television. What was happening was all in silence. I couldn’t stop it and did not feel personally responsible for it. So in my own way I witnessed it in more of a spectatorial than a “This terrible thing is happening to me” kind of way. I cannot speak for my neighbors—professors and good people all—except to note that our conversation indicated that their response at this point in the unfolding story was akin to mine. People walked back and forth between the terrace and the television room. There was sympathy and anxiety but nothing approaching a full-blown “pity and fear” tragic catharsis. That reaction, for me, came later, when I recollected the events and played them over in the theater of my mind’s eye. When new people arrived, they brought rumors and information. We took in what passed for analysis by media pundits. But, most important, everyone was very aware that from the terrace looking south we were watching the thing itself. What we saw and heard on television were explanations and rationalizations both describing and shaping reactions, reporting events and instructing us the receivers how we were to react. The coverage and talking heads gave us both a wider horizon with which to comprehend what we were witnessing and close-ups at and near Ground Zero. As I watched

both in person and on television, I knew that whatever else it was, I was experiencing a spectacle, a live movie, real history happening, et cetera. Being the academic that I am, I referenced Guy Debord’s “society of the spectacle.”24 And I knew that the jihadists intended it to be thus: 9/11 was no stealth attack, noticed only by its devastating effects, like anthrax through the mail or poison in the water; it was a show and a showing. And I and my neighbors were among its designated intended spectators—as were supporters of the jihad. Globally speaking, we were a divided audience. I am exploring these possibilities not to validate terrorist actions or insult the memory of the dead and the suffering of the wounded but to point out that terrorism at the scale of 9/11 works, like art, more on states of mind and feeling than on physical destruction. Or, if you will, the destruction is the means toward the end of creating terror, which is a state of mind. The 9/11 attack is an example of what Burke and Kant called the sublime, arousing in some, if not most, spectators the Aristotelian tragic emotions of pity and fear. At least from the Western side. Al-Qaeda and its adherents saw in the attack the very wrath of God. Looked at in these ways—as event, shock, avant-garde art, tragedy, or vengeance—9/11 performs Artaud’s uncanny assertion from his 1938 essay “No More Masterpieces”: “We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theater has been created to teach us that first of all.”25 Page 36 →

Notes 1.“Avant-Garde,” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989). 2.According to Thierry de Duve, Olinde Rodrigues, a follower of Henri de Saint-Simon, wrote in 1825, “It is we, artists, that will serve as your avant-garde; the power of the arts is indeed the most immediate and the fastest. . . . We address ourselves to the imagination and feelings of people: we are therefore supposed to achieve the most vivid and decisive kind of action.” Thierry de Duve, Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), 430–431. 3.F. T. Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto,” Cosma’s Home Page, Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, web, accessed July 22, 2009. 4.Tristan Tzara, “The Second Dada Manifesto,” in The First and Second Dada Art Manifestos. The Art History Archive. Lilith Gallery Network, web, accessed July 22, 2009. 5.André Breton and Leon Trotsky, “Towards a Free Revolutionary Art,”, accessed July 22, 2009. 6.Situationist Manifesto, trans. Fabian Thompsett, Situationist International Online, web, accessed July 22, 2009. 7.Julian Beck, The Life of the Theatre: The Relation of the Artist to the Struggle of the People (San Francisco: City Lights, 1972), entry 16. 8.Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, trans. Mary C. Richards (New York: Grove, 1958), 85–86. 9.Artaud, Theater and Its Double, 85–86. 10.Peter Hessler, Oracle Bones (New York: Harper, 2007), 311–312. 11.For more on the relationship between terrorism and television, see Daniel Dayan, ed., La terreur spectacle (Paris: De Boeck University, 2006). 12.Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York,” Trilogy: Past Present Future, 1980, Reprise Records, LP. 13.Quoted in Steven Erlanger, “A Nation Challenged: Voices of Opposition,” New York Times, September 22, 2001, B12. 14.Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, in Immanuel Kant Philosophical Writings, ed. Ernst Behler (New York: Continuum, 1986), 202. 15.Kant, Critique of Judgment, 203. 16.Kant, Critique of Judgment, 207. 17.Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, with Several Other Additions, Harvard Classics, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: Collier, 1909–1914),, accessed June 25, 2009. 18.Vernon Hyde Minor, “What Kind of Tears? 9/11 and the Sublime,” Journal of American Studies of Turkey 14 (2001), web, accessed June 25, 2009. Duve, Kant after Duchamp, 332–33, 340. 20.See 21.Frank Lentricchia and Jody McAuliffe, Crimes of Art and Terror (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 100. 22.Lentricchia and McAuliffe, Crimes, 5–17. 23.Lentricchia and McAuliffe, Crimes, 103. 24.Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), trans. Ken Knabb (London: Verso, 1990). 25.Artaud, Theater and Its Double, 79.

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Il Duce’s Directors Art Theaters as Instruments of the Fascist Revolution Patricia Gaborik Expectations were high, the stakes even higher. Newspapers had talked up the opening for months, and Mussolini had already announced he would be there. Yet Luigi Pirandello would have canceled the debut performance of his Teatro d’Arte rather than go on as is: he still didn’t have the crucial squealing-pig sound effect, the lighting wasn’t right, the seats weren’t installed—in fact their cushions hadn’t even been made! Each day, the famed Sicilian dramatist turned redder with anger; his actors’ smiles became tighter. If he hoped to convince il duce to create a National Theater, and make him its director, he would need to make an impression. The day of opening night—April 2, 1925—arrived. The two young men who had dreamed up the enterprise, journalist and writer Orio Vergani and Pirandello’s first-born son, Stefano Landi, undoubtedly rose early (if they had slept at all), as it was up to them to gather the 348 seat cushions they had begged from all the upholsters in Rome. Hours before curtain, they scrambled to put numbers on seats, the box office phone rang off the hook, and the famous imitator Ettore Fatticcioni lurked backstage fretting for his throat: he had just been hired to create the butchered pig’s bloodcurdling scream and had rehearsed it to death. But at 9:00 p.m. in the little theater of Bernini’s Palazzo Odescalchi in Via dei Santi Apostoli, just steps off Piazza Venezia, Mussolini sat down, the curtain went up, the show went on, and everything went off without a hitch. It was the triumphant premiere of the Teatro d’Arte, aka the Teatro degli Undici, in reference to the eleven people who had formed the joint-stock company. They debuted with two plays: Pirandello’s new oneact, La Sagra del Signore della Nave (The Festival of Our Lord of the Ship) and the Irishman Page 38 →Lord Dunsany’s Gli dei della montagna (The Gods of the Mountain), written in 1911 but never before performed in Italy.1 It was the theatrical event of the year, and the Roman elite poured in to see it all: the auditorium completely remodeled by futurist architect Virgilio Marchi; Pirandello’s new play; and, of course, who else would be there. Indeed, it must have been hard to decide where to look: at the 120-strong crowd packed onto the tiny stage, at the nervy Eleven in their seats, or at His Excellency, Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, visible to the entire house in the brand-new proscenium box above. A cheerful and tuxedoed Pirandello greeted the public and thanked the “national government, our expression of the youth of Italy,” the city, and the group of theater lovers who had made it all possible.2 One can imagine him locking gazes with Mussolini, recalling the words he had written just days before, urging him to come that night to celebrate the opening of “our theater,” where “our” was underlined twice.3 But one wonders where his gaze would have shifted then, when he declared that the Teatro d’Arte’s work “set aside any school, any tendency, any politics,”4 for this—as we’ll see—wasn’t exactly the way he had presented the endeavor to il duce in their meetings and correspondence. And Mussolini wasn’t merely there in his official capacity as head of state; having given the Eleven a highly publicized 250,000 lire, he was there, also, as impresario.5 The collaboration between Mussolini and Pirandello in the creation of the Teatro d’Arte is a well-known but poorly understood affair, largely for lack of proper contextualization. The major histories of theater in Mussolini’s Italy address institutional aspects (organization, legislation, censorship), not aesthetic ones, implying by force of negation that, when it comes to the fascist era, art is not at issue. Or, alternatively, studies of the period’s dramatic literature and performance avoid the fascism problematic, often erasing Mussolini and the Blackshirts from their accounts. Pirandello emerges as an exception to this rule, but the results of most investigations are unsatisfying: many have simply attempted to prove or disprove the Sicilian writer’s fascism through literary analysis of his works, at times reaching their conclusions without due attention either to the vast documentation available on the playwright’s relationship with Mussolini and other government officials, or to

the historical reality of fascism and the regime’s relationship with the Italian intelligentsia as a whole.6 The Mussolini-Pirandello partnership, however, takes on new and clearer significance when viewed within the broader context of the regime’s aesthetic politics and, more specifically, its subvention of various kinds of theatrical education and performance—including another experimental playhouse, the Teatro delle Arti, directed by the avant-gardist Anton Giulio Page 39 →Bragaglia and opened in 1937. The tale of these two theaters and the vast system of which they were a part offers formidable challenges to the stubbornly held commonplaces that in theatrical matters il duce and his hierarchs were only interested in propaganda, that their rise to power in 1922 sounded the death knell of creativity, that fascism killed the avant-garde. Rather, as we shall see, the Mussolini regime considered the theater—good theater—a fundamental contribution to what was to be a political revolution, and for this reason offered precious support to the vanguards who could usher in a new art, and a new era.

The 1920s: Pirandello and a “Free” Theater It had been Mussolini who went knocking on Pirandello’s door, playing Mephistopheles to his Faust. Back in October 1923, just days shy of the first anniversary of the March on Rome that brought the regime to power, il duce had summoned the playwright to his office. He showed great interest in his plays and activities, wished him success for his upcoming trip to New York—where an all-Pirandello season had been planned—and invited him to come back and tell him how the visit had gone. Encouraged by their first meeting, the flattered thespian did just that. Thus their partnership began.7 A year later, in the fall of 1924, Pirandello stood in particularly good stead with Mussolini, for this latter seriously risked being toppled from power, incriminated in the murder of Socialist parliamentarian Giacomo Matteotti; fire came from all around, and just when the head of government needed it most, the illustrious author, with great fanfare, affirmed his admiration for il duce by publishing in a newspaper his request to join the National Fascist Party. It was, evidently, a sensational gesture that had been agreed upon behind closed doors, and it delighted Mussolini as much as it dismayed his opponents.8 Shortly thereafter, il duce received Pirandello and a few of his dazzled Teatro d’Arte colleagues at Palazzo Chigi with the news that they would be given money for their theater. At the time, the government didn’t regularly sponsor theatrical performance, but the Blackshirts thought it should. When il duce produced the first fifty thousand lire from his very own wallet, the ecstatic group saw in this gesture the confirmation that he was their greatest ally—for one doesn’t take money from his own wallet if he doesn’t believe in the cause. So, just what did Mussolini’s money pay for? According to Pirandello, the “birth of the Italian theater.”9 At the time, the Italian prose theater was unanimously considered to be in crisis: plagued Page 40 →by financial concerns, flooded with French bourgeois drama, dominated by divas, and lacking the modern scenic and lighting equipment that in other countries had ushered in a real revolution. Chief promoter of foreign advances in Italy was the indefatigable traveler and experimenter Anton Giulio Bragaglia, who had run the tiny underground Teatro Sperimentale degli Indipendenti in Rome since 1923, also with il duce’s limited support.10 The artist credited with the invention of futurist fotodinamismo, he had formed relationships with Europe’s major avant-garde thespians, bringing their plays, their technical ideas, and their directing methods back to Italy (where directors didn’t yet exist) with him. In this, his little theater was a model for Pirandello’s project. Under the latter’s direction, the Teatro d’Arte was committed to showcasing young native dramatists and mounting the works of Italy’s vanguard venerables like futurist F. T. Marinetti; Massimo Bontempelli, Pirandello’s dear friend and one of the Eleven; and Pirandello himself. They would also introduce unknown foreign plays and authors to the Italian public, providing the exchange that was vital to creativity. The funds first went toward a total overhaul of the Odescalchi’s auditorium: a new theater needed a new space. Pirandello’s choice of Marchi as chief architect and designer signaled the Undici’s modernizing approach, for the futurist had also built Bragaglia’s hall, crafted out of the ancient Roman baths found

underground in the location he had chosen for his Indipendenti. And now, for Pirandello, Marchi worked wonders once again: the sleek silver and purple decor was a sort of shiny futurist baroque, preparing the audience for ultramodernity even before the curtain opened. He raked the house and altered the stage height to fix sight lines, furnished the regrettably small boards with ample lofting and an understage, and added a balcony and proscenium boxes—for the king and il duce—to increase seating capacity. Finally, on Pirandello’s explicit instructions, he created a versatile Wagnerian mystic chasm that could hide the orchestra, form a closed forestage with a central stairway, or make use of sloping lateral steps instead. The stage was too small to host a revolving platform (all the rage in Europe’s best theaters), but the house was furnished with the era’s most sophisticated lighting grid: no more footlights, but only multicolored bulbs and reflectors on and about the stage, which enabled washes and surprising distancing effects. These would not just illuminate, but really design, and so the group needed the best: they hired La Scala’s lighting engineer. With scenographers like Cipriano Efisio Oppo, Marchi, and Enrico Prampolini—who would open his Futurist Pantomime Theater the next year in the Paris of the Ballets Russes and the Ballets SuГ©dois—stage designs were ultramodern, too. When Pirandello mounted Bontempelli’s Nostra Dea three Page 41 →weeks after the opening, in fact, one of the epoch’s most respected critics, Silvio D’Amico, called its design “the most beautiful futurist scene one has ever seen.”11 All this should serve as encouragement to take with some skepticism the notion of Pirandello, Bontempelli, and cohort as a sort of “watered-down” avant-garde. The Undici group didn’t lack the revolutionary impulse of an F. T. Marinetti or a Bragaglia, and in fact, as is already clear, these artists regularly collaborated with one another: Marinetti was on the Teatro d’Arte’s bill, Pirandello and Bontempelli were both on Bragaglia’s.12 What’s more, Pirandello’s insistence on state-of-the-art equipment for his theater is just one indication of his vicinage to their type of avant-garde: was Bragaglia’s mantra, “To renew the play, reform the stage,” ringing in his ears?13 But the Teatro d’Arte wasn’t just interested in a modernist aesthetic; a profound renovation of the art of theater-making was under way. As had been reported in La Tribuna months earlier, the company aimed for “true originality, and not simple exterior eccentricity,” which Pirandello hoped to achieve by bucking the current production system.14 Whereas in much of northern Europe the “independent” or “little” theater movement’s privileging of artistic over commercial interests had given birth to the director who was responsible for creating a unified stage presentation, in Italy the “star system,” and the actor within it, still reigned: the author wrote his text, the actress rehearsed her part, and the scenographer (if there was one) designed his set, but no one gave much thought to how these all worked together until the bulk of individual preparation had been done. Even the capocomico (literally head actor, in practice an actor-manager) was like a producer who had his company’s financial and other practical woes to consider in addition to his own performance. A firm believer in the authority of the text, Pirandello was particularly concerned about the art of acting and how to manage it, viewing the director as a person who could potentially do “damage control,” taming the overly histrionic performer who was more interested in demonstrating his technical prowess than the depths of his character’s soul. As capocomico (taking on many financial and administrative burdens, Pirandello strongly resembled this figure), he would hire performers as single roles demanded, rather than employing a company with the kind of stock roles parodied in his Six Characters in Search of an Author because, as he explained in an article, “Actors should no longer exist. Characters should live on stage.”15 And so he would also abolish the prompter, thinking that an actor would never “manage to вЂbe’ that character instead of just playing вЂthe part,’ sometimes better sometimes worse” if he had to rely on someone to feed him lines.16 And yet, for Pirandello, it was not the director’s job to be an author in his own right but, Page 42 →as the lingo has it, “to serve the text.” In rehearsal, therefore, plays were read and discussed at length during the “table work” that today is a standard method for directors to tailor the actors’ preparations to his or her vision but was then an utterly novel practice, and a way for Italy’s master playwright to ensure that his characters would “take over” the actor, not vice versa.17 Pirandello’s approach to production ought therefore to be counted as important a legacy in modern theater as his drama is. His methods were as ahead of their day in Italy as his plays were and in turn had a direct impact on those texts. No one called Pirandello a regista—the word for director had yet to enter the Italian vocabulary (that

would happen in 1932)—but, administrative duties aside, he essentially worked as one.18 Reviews indicate that thanks to Pirandello’s methods, there was a cohesion in his show that your run-of-the-mill commercial fare lacked. The Undici’s art theater, with its new technology and methods, was achieving something unprecedented. The capocomico’s unique blending of a deeply conscious, even material, approach to character with nonrealistic dramaturgy was a fascinating rarity, and, indeed, here innovations in technology and technique went hand in hand with a new metaphysics for the modern drama. Consider Six Characters in this regard. The play was written in 1921, but its reworked, now definitive, version premiered four years later, on May 18, 1925, with the Odescalchi’s state-of-the-art lighting and the staircase connecting the stage to the house. The dead children’s shadows projected onto the brand-new cyclorama and the Stepdaughter’s run from the stage, through the house, and into the lobby beyond—her horrifying laugh echoing behind her—gave us a haunting finale and the most legendary fourth-wall rupturing of all time. Heavily indebted to a total reconception of the theatrical space, the new version of the play now packed a full punch.19 Marchi’s staircase, paid for by Mussolini, was the technical innovation that would make Pirandello’s career.20 But for the Roman audience of 1925, the Stepdaughter’s astounding run through the house would have been an encore of the disquieting effect they had seen at the theater’s premiere back in April, during Pirandello’s La Sagra del Signore della nave. When the curtains opened on that play, a delightful scene unfurled: a barkeep in rolled-up shirt sleeves and striped apron called out to a waiter to cover the tables (and thus the stage) with linens, red and blue dishes, tin silverware, and sparkling glasses. But the steady beating of drums from the foyer—not from the wings—told Mussolini and the rest of the crowd that the show was not limited to what was happening on the boards: “The entire theater was transformed into a stage,” reviewer Vincenzo Cardarelli reported.21 One by one, two by two, at times in bigger groups, Page 43 →characters came onto the multicolored stage. But not just from the wings. They entered through the auditorium door and paraded down the aisle past each row of spectators, under Mussolini’s box, and onto the stage-piazza: first seamen wearing votive pictures to match a special curtain Oppo had painted for the show, then the scrivener and his family, then some prostitutes with their clients—men, women, and children of all professions, ages, hair colors, body shapes and sizes, in an expressionistic depiction of the array of humanity that is the subject of the play. Their chatter mixed with the clamor of drums, pigs, and vendors selling their wares. Worshippers and revelers gathered in the piazza in front of a little church on the first Sunday of September: the former to give thanks to the Lord who rescued sailors from a terrible shipwreck, the latter to attend the first pig slaughter of the season. The people, the colors, the noises coming from every direction and the lights growing redder as the one-act went on created a phantasmagoric total-theater effect like the one Wagner had theorized. It’s little wonder that critic Corrado Alvaro wrote, in reference to the premiere, “One had the impression that something new could come of it.”22 “The contrast between bestial carnality and the longing of the spirit,” D’Amico observed, was the theme “that Pirandello posed in the most incredibly violent terms: here slaughtered pigs, there Christ nailed to his cross.”23 Signor Lavaccara, who is distraught when the family’s pig Nicola goes to slaughter, debates with a Young Pedagogue if man is superior to the beast he slaughters. The Pedagogue begins as mankind’s champion, but as the crowd degenerates into an “obscene and frightening spectacle of triumphant bestiality, ”24 he cries, “They are drunk, they’ve gone mad; but look at them crying for their bloodied Christ! And you want a tragedy more tragedy than this?”25 This breathtaking finale saw the onstage crowd—which had billowed to 120—parade back down the steps, through the auditorium, and into the foyer, all the while holding a bloody, crucified Jesus aloft. “The furious joy of the orgy disappeared, seeming to give way to a sudden funereal sadness,” Adriano Tilgher wrote for Il Mondo.26 In this tragic moment, as throughout the play, the audience found itself in the same piazza with the characters, attending the same festival, seeing played out before them their own abjection, their own “becoming ugly.”27 The astounding conflation of house and stage—of character and spectator—induced Alvaro, then a fierce

antifascist, to see a wonderfully skeptical presentation of “the bestiality of the crowdВ .В .В . which follows after the first symbol who speaks to that mysterious I don’t know what that lies deep within us.”28 A reading of the text today leaves one with the sense that Pirandello was interested in religion, not politics. But in that moment of ItalianPage 44 → history, such a distinction was hardly easy to make; at the time antifascists fiercely criticized their compatriots for seeking in Mussolini a savior, and historians have amply demonstrated the extent to which fascism functioned as a civic religion.29 Any enemy of the regime could have thought of the swooning popolo in the terms laid out in the play: was there a tragedy more tragic than the masses finding in Mussolini their false god? Dunsany’s Gli dei della montagna, a story of beggars posing as gods who come to an Indian town but are then discovered and punished by being turned into jade statues, prompted Alvaro to comment, “A magnificent destiny for imposters.”30 From his point of view, choosing these two dramas and collapsing the distance between character and spectator, Pirandello pointed his finger at gullible masses and duplicitous leaders alike. D’Amico seemed to find similar reflections in both plays, even referring to the leader of Gli dei’s false gods as “their duce,”31 and the satirical paper Il becco giallo pulled no punches, commenting that the play was set in India, but in a “country closer to home” no false gods had been turned into stone, for that wasn’t possible with someone who by nature already had a face made of Piperno: an obvious allusion to il duce’s famed chiseled jaw.32 Watching these plays, then—we have to ask—what was going through the prime minister’s mind? Would he have seen a similar social critique, and, if so, what would he have done? Would he have joined in on the fourteen total curtain calls the company received from an enthusiastic crowd, shouting “bravo” when Pirandello was called to the stage? Or would he have seen things differently? A follower of crowd theorist Gustave Le Bon, il duce viewed the Italian masses as essentially irrational and therefore malleable, to be lifted out of their own tragedy and molded into new fascist men and women. He was in agreement with the fiercely antidemocratic Pirandello, then, on the precise point the play brought to the fore: there was a people out there that would be beastly until someone tamed it. It’s therefore quite easy to imagine that, from his ideal vantage point in the proscenium box above, Mussolini would have observed the overwhelmed crowd in the platea below—as he would from Italy’s many balconies—comfortably, even proudly, secure in his belief that “Pirandello, without wanting to, essentially makes fascist theater.”33 For the dictator, in fact, Pirandello’s famed relativism wasn’t the result of tortured philosophizing, but of a determined, actualist attitude that demonstrated “how useless it is to analyze what is certain.”34 And yet, we can judge the politics of the April 2 performance ambiguous at best: where Alvaro and D’Amico saw an admonition, Mussolini would have seen an invitation. He returned to the Odescalchi that season, too, and this probably wasn’t simply because he enjoyed it—he had always been a theaterPage 45 → lover and frequently attended shows—but because he was keeping a special eye on the Teatro d’Arte: it was after all spearheaded by a longtime friend and loyal fascist, Antonio Beltramelli,35 as well as by Pirandello and Bontempelli,36 two highly esteemed intellectuals the dictator particularly admired and who had pledged their loyalty in no uncertain terms. Maybe they were just what he was looking for. When the Blackshirt militia marched on Rome in October 1922, its intent was revolution: the destruction of a democratic parliamentary system in favor of a totalitarian one in which bourgeois individualism would be replaced by utter dedication to the state and il duce. The fascist slogan “Libro e moschetto fascista perfetto” (“A book and a musket makes the perfect fascist”) was particularly apt, as an armed militia would encourage submission to the new political order, while the intellectual class would provide inspiration and instruction in the creation of the new Italian. “All of the institutes of art, from the theater to the museum, from the gallery to the academy, must be considered schools,” the dictator urged in a 1924 speech: “places, that is, dedicated not just to culture and even less to curiosity, but prepared to educate taste and sensibility, to nourish the imagination.”37 Many were ready and willing to follow him on this; Bontempelli, for one, that same year wrote, “Fascism’s best instruments are us, the new writers and artists.”38 Debates raged about the best way to serve the regime, especially after Mussolini delivered a speech at

Perugia’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1926 that encouraged the cultural elite to make “fascist art.” Few artists or writers were interested in manufacturing proregime propaganda or works dealing with explicitly “fascist themes,” but many realized this wasn’t what il duce had asked for anyway. Nor was he out to establish a single fascist style, notwithstanding a clear preference for modernist forms of art and architecture.39 When it came to literature, the state could not create its own, Mussolini reiterated in 1933, but “can and must protect authors and, above all, honor intelligence, foster its achievement.”40 In light of such proclamations, thespians were hopeful that, under Mussolini, Italy might finally get the National Theater she lacked; many clamored for a “free” state theater: free not only from the financial pressures of a commercial house but also from the imposition of politics onto their art—an institution, in other words, in accordance with Mussolini’s stated desire to protect artists but not impose upon them. In fact, as early as 1924 il duce had begun reviewing proposals for a national prose theater apparatus, including one by Pirandello (in 1926) and another by D’Amico (in 1931).41 In this context, the Teatro d’Arte appears as an experiment, not just for Pirandello but also for Mussolini. It offered the dictator a chance to test his Page 46 →own inclinations, and the enthusiastic public response to such a complex—and politically ambiguous—work on April 2 could easily have strengthened his expressed convictions. Though it is often claimed that under fascism theater artists were handicapped by a tendency to “play it safe” both aesthetically and politically, the Teatro d’Arte’s opening night suggests that, in reality, neither Mussolini nor the Eleven were so tremulous. It’s true that it was early in il duce’s tenure, but it was for this reason a very high stakes game the thespians played: it opened a myriad of possibilities for them as individual artists and for the direction that their beloved and seemingly dying art form would take under Mussolini’s tutelage. Plenty of incentive, in other words, to sign on Mephistopheles’s dotted line. Though criticism continues to dance around (if not hide) the fact, “P. Randello” was recognized by his contemporaries as a loyal fascist—Giovanni Amendola had scathingly called him “the character who had found his author”—and it was widely assumed that the Teatro d’Arte represented a classic quid pro quo.42 The dramatist took full advantage of this perception, gaining publicity and support in the press and earning for the theater an almost official status. Critic and playwright Marco Praga had in fact rather boldly, and sarcastically, commented on his position, writing, “It seems that when one speaks of Luigi Pirandello or his theater, he has to weigh his words with a goldsmith’s scale. If not, woe betide.”43 The dramatist-cumdirector certainly had clout, and he wasn’t afraid to use it as leverage with il duce-impresario. In that “our theater” letter he wrote just days before the opening, he dared: Allow me to point out to Your Excellency that we have been aware of the expectations of the whole world concerning this project of ours. Knowing this, and having the responsibility of being virtually officially commissioned, since our theatre is regarded as the Italian State theatre both at home and abroad, we have been compelled to underwrite the sum of six hundred fourteen thousand lireВ .В .В . so as to operate on that level of dignity and artistic propriety that might allow us to withstand the strain of so much responsibility and the shock of such huge expectations. .В .В . I shall therefore await for Your Excellency to grant us supreme, definitive assistance so as to resolve this situation which embarrasses me and is an obstacle to the free movement of my activities just at the moment when I have the greatest need.44 Page 47 →In short, everyone knew this was a joint effort, and if Pirandello looked bad, Mussolini did, too. But what’s so unusual about the anxious director’s approach, especially in comparison to the tone of so many other capocomici’s letters found in the archives, is his intimation that Mussolini had a responsibility toward the enterprise. More audaciously still, it was Pirandello who delineated the terms of the agreement, telling il duce what he could and could not—or would and would not—do for him. He explained that he would accompany his actors abroad on tour, giving conferences and interviews. Speaking about all that Mussolini had done, he wrote, was “the real way in which I can have a direct political impact.”45 Or, we might read, the

only way: not with the plays, not with the performances, but as Luigi Pirandello standing on stage vouching for Benito Mussolini. “Putting my efforts into such an undertaking is not only a source of lively moral satisfaction, it is also the fulfillment of a mission that I feel I have been appointed by Your Excellency to undertake,” he wrote to the head of government.46 Pirandello followed through on these promises: it became customary for him not only to travel as a sort of cultural ambassador, but also to fill hour-long intermissions talking to foreign audiences about fascism and its duce. Comments made in London that same June prompted the reporter from the Morning Post to write, for instance, “It would seem that Mr. Mussolini knows how to govern a state with the same ability with which Mr. Pirandello writes a play.”47 His pro-Mussolini proclamations were small prices to pay for a theater of his own. Especially when—all evidence suggests—they were sincere. The reflected prestige Pirandello could bring to the dictatorship, at home and abroad, was a clear motivation to back his endeavor. In turn, Mussolini’s attachment to the theater made it that much more important that it succeed against the odds. The Teatro d’Arte had financial trouble throughout its three-year life, and the men closest to Mussolini felt heavy pressure to help because, as an official in the Press and Propaganda Office wrote to il duce’s undersecretary, “The Teatro d’Arte initiative had a too openly fascist baptism, and is too tied to [Mussolini’s] personal desire to see it created, for the government to wash our hands of it.”48 So crucial was its success that the dictator appointed his undersecretary to oversee the affair and, especially, to pressure private donors to give the funds the government couldn’t afford. Despite the ongoing efforts, the financial troubles eventually became insurmountable, and Pirandello was exhausted by the multiple burdens (administrative, emotional, and financial) of being capocomico. When the initial three-year charter expired, he dissolved the company. Page 48 →

The 1930s: Bragaglia and the “Sperimentale dello Stato” But this is just the story of the 1920s: merely the beginning of a longer, more complicated playing-out of the relationship between the fascist state and its theatrical vanguard. The Pirandello tale, told in isolation, fails to communicate such complexity. The Teatro’s closure after three years has often been reduced to the supposed proof of il duce’s disinterest in that project, in the art theater as a typology or institution, or, ultimately, in the related possibility of a National Theater. Jennifer Lorch’s 2005 comments are representative: Pirandello had been involved with others in trying to establish a national theatre. The government, however, had other ideas . . . its interest was, in the main, in mass theatre. The carri di Tesbi [sic] (Thespian cars) initiative . . . took entertainment, sometimes of a high quality, to the furthest reaches of the country. . . . Such an initiative sat uneasily with Pirandello’s hopes of an Italian high art theatre, comparable to that in Paris and Berlin. In his last years Pirandello felt out of sympathy with a government of which earlier in his life he had held high hopes.49 The general narrative, then, is one that pits the art theater against the mass theater and suggests that the regime’s initial plans (in the 1920s) to support art theater were abandoned in favor of popular entertainment for the Italian masses (in the 1930s). It is true that Mussolini’s second decade in power saw a shift in priorities toward a vast array of open-air spectacles; however, scholars have by and large overlooked the fact that the fascist government cultivated art theater and popular theater both, for the regime’s pretense to being an intellectual and popular revolution at one and the same time rendered a distinction like “art” versus “mass” a false one. Mussolini and his ministers consciously worked to blur such boundaries as high versus low culture, art versus popular theater, art versus propaganda. Many productions for the masses were indeed quite worthy, theatrically and artistically speaking; this is, however, a point beyond the scope of this essay. More pertinent here are two important issues: first, that the regime also continued to pursue the possibility of a more traditional National Theater structure and to back the theatrical vanguard and, second, that these efforts were conceived as complementary to and not in competition with productions for the masses.

Pirandello pursued the National Theater project until his death. He had been bitterly disappointed when the Teatro d’Arte was forced to disband in Page 49 →1928, partly because it seemed a bad omen for the dreamed-of National Theater project. But the next year in a letter to actress Marta Abba, he reaffirmed his faith in il duce: “It is moreover absolutely certain that the state theaters will be set up the way I want them, because Mussolini always keeps his promises. We must learn to wait, because he needs time; woe unto those who get tired of waiting.”50 In July 1936, the Nobel laureate (he had received this honor in 1934) still waited, but he was not deluded, as he had received word that a state theater would be opened within three years; the necessary 35 million lire had finally been allocated. The ex-capocomico even acknowledged to his young muse that his earlier expectations had been naive: “With my project, I wanted to do it with no money involved.”51 In December, however, the famed Sicilian dramatist passed away. The promised institution never appeared, but intimations that this was the inevitable outcome—because Mussolini was never interested in the first place—are not sustained by the available evidence and, indeed, represent a historiographic problem in which the entire ventennio is interpreted through the lens of its final, most devastating years. There were no certain outcomes here. Rather, there are many ifs: if Pirandello hadn’t died, if Mussolini hadn’t allied with Hitler, if the war hadn’t comeВ .В .В . What is certain, though, is that the regime’s commitment to the “birth of an Italian theater” did not wane. The Teatro d’Arte was a first experiment, and the discontinuation of its subvention wasn’t the sign of disinterest in such an institution, but the choice to seek options that brought such endeavors fully and officially under the state’s domain. D’Amico’s 1931 proposal for a National Theater had called for a dramatic arts academy, a library, and an experimental studio to be built alongside the prestigious main theaters that would serve as the “National” houses; it’s clear that this was the model Mussolini chose to pursue. In 1932, the Italian Society of Authors and Editors created the Burcardo Theatre library, attached to the Teatro Argentina (which had always been a likely candidate to house an eventual state auditorium). Then, in 1936, the National Academy of Dramatic Arts was opened and D’Amico placed at its helm (the school today still bears his name). Finally, in 1937, the National Confederation of Fascist Unions of Professionals and Artists opened its offices on via Sicilia in Rome; the building hosted a six-hundred-seat space called the Teatro delle Arti and frequently referred to as the “Sperimentale dello Stato.” Anton Giulio Bragaglia was named its director.52 This institution resembled Bragaglia’s Indipendenti and Pirandello’s Undici in terms of its mission: it presented classic Italian authors in new ways, introduced the next generation’s talents, and imported the best foreign drama.53 As before, Bragaglia frequently took on the role of director, joined by future film producer Giorgio Venturini and Corrado Pavolini, a futurist Page 50 →who after fascism’s fall went on to become a successful radio and television director. Prampolini (of Futurist Pantomime Theater fame) returned to Italy in 1937 and served as scenographer, as did Antonio Valente (who designed the aforementioned carri di Tespi). The Arti regularly hosted shows produced by the Experimental Theatre of the Florentine Fascist University Group (GUF),54 acting as the laboratory Bragaglia had spoken of since he opened his first vanguard house in 1923 and “making way for the young” as the fascist slogan “largo ai giovani” called for.55 Bragaglia’s reflections on the role of the art theater in the new fascist state are the key to tying together the experience of the 1920s and the 1930s, of the tiny art house and the oceanic piazza. Facing the impending closure of his Teatro degli Indipendenti back in 1929, he proposed to do something bigger and better. Dedicating his book Il teatro della rivoluzione to il duce, he wrote, “Now we want to give something definitive to the peopleВ .В .В . to do something big,” and asked Mussolini to make it possible: “Art in general can’t be done without protection: antitraditional art, outside the revolutionary cove, can only be done with the strength of the regime.В .В .В . Bring us, oh Duce, out of this catacomb of believers, make faith triumph!”56 In the mid1930s, he would stress—in disagreement with his friend Bontempelli, who in a wave of enthusiasm for open-air spectacles argued that it was time to close down the little theaters—that an experimental laboratory was not at odds with the new ambitions. It was, instead, the necessary proving grounds for any such endeavors and a training area for its artists. The little theater could be the model for the mass theaters, “the rehearsal site for the big stage, which tomorrow may hold fifteen or twenty thousand people, but today is still totally to be prepared.”57 Like the Indipendenti and the Arte before it, and like the vast amateur theater network erected by the regime’s after-work program, the Teatro delle Arti was conceived not just as a school for new audiences, but for the actors,

directors, and technicians of a new modern theater. At the Sperimentale dello Stato, Bragaglia carried on as the avant-garde theater’s foreign ambassador: he introduced Federico GarcГ-a Lorca to Italian audiences with his production ofBlood Wedding and made Eugene O’Neill a presence in Italy with six different shows; two of the most acclaimed performances were Thornton Wilder’s magisterial Our Town—which F. T. Marinetti would denounce as a plagiarism of futurist simultaneity58—and an evening of three Japanese classic plays directed by Corrado Pavolini. Bragaglia’s nesting under fascism’s wing meant some ugly things as well. For instance, with Marinetti and minister of popular culture Alessandro Pavolini (Corrado’s brother), Bragaglia began to devise ways to bring propaganda into the Page 51 →theater. He overcame the ban on Jewish and American authors (both official enemies in wartime) by turning characters in Lillian Hellman’s Little Foxes into Jews, giving a whole new significance to this story of greedy and disloyal siblings. (I spoke of a Faustian pact for Pirandello, but perhaps it was Bragaglia who sold his soul.) Such repugnant, although isolated, events coexisted alongside those that were, from an artistic point of view, thrilling.

Blackshirt Vanguards And this, ultimately, is the truth that we are left with as we look back on the twenty years of fascism in Italy and what it meant for the theater: fascism may be one of the great ills of the twentieth century, but this simply doesn’t equate to aesthetic banality or a lack of culture. Mussolini’s predilection for such luminaries as Bontempelli and Pirandello, and his regime’s support for theaters like the Arte and the Arti, are clear testaments to this simple fact. To return more explicitly to the central theme of this volume, if history has judged fascism “reactionary,” such a shorthand actually tells us very little about the reality of Mussolini’s movement and certainly complicates attempts to speak of its relationship to the avant-garde. By now historians have amply demonstrated that fascism was at its core a modernist political movement and that the regime conceived of the relationship between art and politics in fundamentally modern ways. Characterizations of any collaboration between the government and artist as simple pragmatism (the regime’s), opportunism (the artists’), or the fascists’ exploitation of artists and intellectuals for mere political gain leave something to be desired. First, of course, they don’t acknowledge that many adhered to fascism for idealism. Second, they fail to take into account that the fascists aspired to create a system in which it would be difficult to draw a strict line between “art” and “politics” anyway. Mussolini’s lack of enthusiasm for blatant propaganda and his refusal to mandate a fascist style (the choice of artistic eclecticism) were not mere pragmatism. They operated in accordance with his conviction that a fascist culture would—and did—spontaneously come into being.59 But here we might let Bontempelli, who emerged as one of the epoch’s chief ideologues, speak for il duce: If “fascism” were only the name of a party or a political preference (however victorious and flourishing), art would have absolutely nothing to do with it: they would be two independent and incommunicablePage 52 → worlds. But by “fascism” we mean a whole orientation of life, public and private: a total and perfected order that is practical and theoretical, intellectual and moral, application and spirit.В .В .В . [A]rt, no matter how reflective, intelligent, and self-conscious, must always maintain a reserve of the spontaneous, unpredictable, and instinctive elements that are its life. If this epoch is truly fascist to the core, all that is of lasting value and is accomplished during its course will bear the visible imprint of fascism.60 Adhesion to fascism, conceived in these terms, was anything but in conflict with aesthetic avant-gardism. It was for this reason that the most enthusiastic supporters of il duce and his regime often positioned their work—regardless of its “content”—as devoted to the fascist cause and, as Bontempelli’s words indicate, potentially representative of its “spirit” in some intrinsic way.

There was of course opportunism, too, in fascist Italy, but to dismiss any artist or intellectual’s collaboration as such is a futile exercise of negation that only seeks to release the scholar from the obligation to try to make sense of fascism.61 As I’ve mentioned, most characterizations of Pirandello’s relationship with Mussolini along these lines have to do with efforts to clear the playwright’s name: if he “just wanted money for his theater,” he wasn’t “really fascist.” But “being fascist” in the end had less to do with the (only partially discoverable) sentiments carried in one’s heart, and perhaps even with what party card he carried, than it did with public behavior: what a Bragaglia or a Bontempelli or a Pirandello was willing to do in support of il duce, his regime, their cultural production, their wars: what they were willing to say and do to promote the construction of the “new fascist man.” As Emilio Gentile has argued, “We cannot postulate a вЂpure’ ideological stage of fascism that disregards the history of the movement, its organizations, and its concrete politics.”62 By the same token, for all the time we can spend examining artistic and literary works for traces, or lack thereof, of a fascist “mind-set” or ideological correspondence in order to polish off—or besmirch—an author’s name, I don’t think such considerations, however illuminating, ought to be separated from attention to tangible behavior, or from the very real workings of what Gentile has called the fascist “factory of power.”63 Politics are, after all, as much about actions and results as they are about intentions. Fascism didn’t merely exist only in theory, but also—devastatingly—in practice. It therefore left its legacy, for better and worse, and on this point I close these reflections on the significance of the fascist regime’s theatrical interventions. As regards Pirandello, we don’t know what impact the dramatist-director’sPage 53 → intermission chats abroad had on public opinion of the Italian dictator, but we do know that the tours made Pirandello an undisputed international success. Six Characters had already played in fourteen countries, with major productions in London, New York, Paris, and Berlin between 1922 and 1924. But the Teatro d’Arte secured the longevity and depth of Pirandello’s reputation with the clamorous new version of Six Characters. Reviewing the 1925 London performances, Francis Birrell commented that Pirandello hadn’t been well known there because English actors had failed to reveal Pirandello for what he was, “one of the most brilliant play-makers (in the good sense of the word) that have appeared in Europe.”64 With the Teatro degli Undici tours, Pirandello changed everything. He sent shock waves across Europe and America. He was a herald of a new modern theater. And, as he made sure everybody knew, Mussolini was behind him all the way. A theatrical revolution like Pirandello’s and Bragaglia’s could never have happened had they been working in a vacuum. It has been surmised that Pirandello’s privileged—protected—position allowed him to get away with what others could not, that his drama was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale environment. And yet, if we consider Pirandello privileged, we need to think of him as a model, not as an exception. Mussolini wasn’t forced to indulge Pirandello because he was popular or because he by chance was thought to represent the regime. On the contrary: Mussolini chose Pirandello and cohort as representatives because he saw in them a potential vanguard of the fascist society and culture under elaboration in the dictatorship’s first years. Their project, however ephemeral, was the successful result of a desire shared by Italy’s most powerful artists and politicians: to revolutionize the modern theater. As theater historian Ferdinando Taviani has so eloquently stated, “To understand history, one must also learn to not accept it.”65 Pirandello capocomico became the world’s Pirandello not despite but in part thanks to Mussolini’s regime. This is not to say that all of the regime’s interventions were successful, nor indeed that they were all laudable. However, some extraordinary artistic achievements were made—once again, not despite fascism, but even because of the resources and intelligence that Mussolini and his collaborators brought to the table. I could limit my discussion to the personalities, institutions, and shows already mentioned, as it is difficult to deny the regime its theatrical avant-garde credentials when we consider the artists and productions it actively promoted. There’s more to the question, though: what is avant-garde must be measured not only in relation to the past and present but also to the future. By definition, being avant-garde is about leading the way. The Teatro degli Undici, the Teatro delle Arti, the GUF theaters, amateur theatrics, and Page 54 →the National Academy were the gymnasiums of young theater artists. These gave training and experience to technicians and actors, but perhaps their greatest feat was the creation of a new generation of directors. After the war, directors came to dominate, absolutely, the Italian theater. The first postwar directors, major and minor—Vito Pandolfi, Luigi Squarzina,

Enrico Fulchignoni, the founders of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano Giorgio Strehler and Paolo Grassi—were the product of these institutions. They got their start as students in D’Amico’s academy or the GUF theater groups, or as directors in Bragaglia’s theater. The development of their work as the supreme art of Italian vanguard performance under the auspices of such masters as Strehler and Luca Ronconi, in their legendary leftleaning Piccolo, was not the result of the ventennio’s end, but the full flourishing of the renovation Pirandello, Bragaglia, D’Amico, and the rest put into play.66 Most ironically, the director’s rise to power would come to diminish the importance of the dramatic text in just the way Pirandello, the pioneering director, had feared: still today, the playwright is a figure of minor importance in Italian theater. If D’Amico or Pirandello were alive today, he would surely see this state of affairs as the index of the regime’s failure to revolutionize the drama.67 Others, like Bragaglia, would surely see it differently, though: as the indication that Mussolini and his regime had truly been vanguard.

Notes 1.Initially, there were twelve founders, but by the time they signed the papers on October 6, 1924, the shareholders were in fact eleven. Information regarding the founding and premier of the Teatro d’Arte, unless otherwise noted, comes from the volume Pirandello Capocomico, ed. Alessandro D’Amico and Alessandro Tinterri (Sellerio, Palermo 1987), hereafter referred to as PC. Unless otherwise noted, all translations in this essay are my own. 2.Corrado Alvaro, in Il Risorgimento, April 3, 1925, in PC, 20. English translation from Susan Bassnett and Jennifer Lorch, Luigi Pirandello in the Theater (London: Routledge, 1993), 104. 3.The correspondence between Pirandello and Mussolini’s office, culled from the Central State Archives (Archivio centrale dello stato) in Rome, has been published in Alberto Cesare Alberti, Il teatro nel fascismo (Rome: Bulzoni, 1974). This is doc. 3, pp. 130–132. A translation is to be found in Bassnett and Lorch, Luigi Pirandello, 98–100. 4.D’Amico and Tinterri, PC, 20. 5.This sum amounted to more than the liberal government had provided for all prose and opera performance in 1921, the year before il duce came to power. 6.Investigations of Pirandello’s politics abound and express a range of opinions and interpretations. Chief among these are Gian Franco VenГЁ, Pirandello fascista: La coscienza borghese tra ribellione e rivoluzione (Milan: Mondadori, 1991); the proceedings of the 1991 conference Pirandello e la politica (Milan: Mursia, 1992); and especially helpful Page 55 →for its rare privileging of events and correspondence over analysis of Pirandello’s narrative works, Elio Providenti’s Pirandello impolitico: Dal radicalismo al fascismo (Rome: Salerno, 2000). Two more recent explorations of “aesthetic fascism” in Pirandello’s drama include Mary Ann Frese Witt, The Search for Modern Tragedy: Aesthetic Fascism in Italy and France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001) and Martin Puchner, The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theatre and Drama (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). 7.The visit was documented by Orio Vergani in L’Idea Nazionale, October 23, 1923. Ivan Pupo, Interviste a Pirandello: “Parole da dire, uomo, agli altri uomini” (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2002), 205–207. 8.The request was published in L’Impero on September 19, 1924. See Luigi Pirandello, Saggi e interviste, ed. Ferdinando Taviani (Milan: Mondadori, 2006), 1249 and Pupo, Interviste a Pirandello, 275. 9.From an interview with Alfio Berretta in La Sera, May 21–24, 1924. Pirandello, Saggi e interviste, 1263. 10.For more information on Bragaglia and Mussolini’s funding of the Teatro degli Indipendenti, see Alberti, Il teatro nel fascismo; Alberto Cesare Alberti, Sandra Bevere, and Paola di Giulio, Il teatro sperimentale degli indipendenti (1923–1936) (Rome: Bulzoni, 1984); for a fuller exploration of that relationship in comparison to Pirandello’s with il duce and what the two together have to tell us about the fascist regime’s support of vanguard theatrical culture, see chapter 2 of my forthcoming Mussolini, Man of the Theatre. 11.Silvio D’Amico, “ Nostra Dea di M. Bontempelli, al Teatro Odescalchi,” in Cronache 1914

/1955, 2.2 (Palermo: Novecento, 2002), 501. 12.Pirandello and Bontempelli are in part responsible for such characterizations of their work, as they had a tendency to stress that they were not “experimental” and “avant-garde.” However, they referred to the quality, not character, of their work, stressing that their productions would be polished, supported by the required technical capabilities. Such affirmations were clearly made to distinguish their works from Bragaglia’s, whose “poor” theater and quickly changing repertory lacked the polish they sought to achieve. 13.Bragaglia’s major works include Del teatro teatrale, ossia del teatro (Rome: Tiber, 1929), Sottopalco: Saggi sul teatro (Osimo: I Barulli & figlio, 1937), and Il teatro della rivoluzione (Rome: Tiber, 1929). 14.From an interview with O. Gilbertini, November 27, 1924. Pirandello, Saggi e interviste, 1266. 15.Pirandello, “Il mio teatro,” Rivista d’Italia e d’America, April 1925, in Saggi e interviste, 1272. 16.Pirandello, “Il mio teatro,” 1272. Reviews and rehearsal photos, however, indicate that the director was not successful in attempts to abolish the prompter. See Gaspare Giudice, Pirandello: A Biography, trans. Alastair Hamilton (London: Oxford University Press), 1975. 17.Gilbertini, La Tribuna (November 27, 1924) in Pirandello, Saggi e interviste, 1265. 18.A history of the word regista in Italy can be found in Mirella Schino, “Storia di una parola: Fascismo e mutamenti di mentalitГ teatrale,” Teatro e storia 25 (2011): 169–212. 19.For a performance history of the play, see Jennifer Lorch, Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). Pirandello’s revisions to the 1925 text were inspired by performances in Paris (Georges PitoГ«ff, who used a cyclorama), Frankfurt (Richard Weichert), and Berlin (Max Reinhardt), in theatersPage 56 → whose stages also had staircases leading to the house but were not utilized to the extent that the Odescalchi’s were. Following Claudio Vicentini, Alessandro Tinterri has suggested that Pirandello’s modifications were also indebted to dramatist and Teatro degli Undici collaborator Alberto Savinio. See Tinterri, Savinio e lo spettacolo (Bologna: Mulino, 1993), 73–76. 20.Perhaps thanks to the rowdy futurist serate of the 1910s, passing between stage and house had been prohibited by public security laws, but given the protection Pirandello and the Teatro d’Arte enjoyed, authorities turned a blind eye. Tinterri, Savinio e lo spettacolo, 74. 21.April 3, 1925, Il Tevere, in PC, 73. 22.Bassnett and Lorch , Documentary, 108. 23.D’Amico, Cronache 1914/1955, 487. 24.Luigi Pirandello, La Sagra del Signore della Nave, in La Sagra del Signore della Nave, L’Altro Figlio, La Giara. Commedie in un atto (Firenze: Bemporad & Figlio, 1925), 46. 25.Luigi Pirandello, La Sagra, 50. 26.April 3–4, 1925, quoted in PC, 73. 27.As was explained in the show’s program note, in PC, 73. 28.Corrado Alvaro, Cronache e scritti teatrali (Rome: Edizioni Abete, 1976), 76; Bassnett and Lorch, Documentary, 104. 29.See in particular Emilio Gentile, Il culto del littorio (Rome: Laterza, 2009 [1993]), in English, The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy, trans. Keith Botsford (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996). 30.Alvaro, Cronache e scritti teatrali, 76. 31.D’Amico, Cronache 1914/1955, 489. 32.April 12, 1925, in PC, 341. 33.Mussolini, in his interviews with Emil Ludwig. Emil Ludwig, Colloqui con Mussolini (1932; Milan: Mondadori, 1970), 203. 34.Yvon De Begnac, Taccuini Mussoliniani, ed. Francesco Perfetti (1990; Bologna: Mulino, 2011), 346. 35.Beltramelli, like Mussolini, was a journalist from ForlГ¬. An early adherent of the PNF, he had written a successful biography of il duce in 1923 and was close enough to Mussolini to facilitate communication between him and Pirandello in the early stages of their collaboration. 36.Years before, Bontempelli had contributed to “Ardita,” the supplement to the future

dictator’s newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia, and Mussolini therefore thought of him as one of his own discoveries. Bontempelli would be a vocal devotee of Mussolini for at least the first decade of his rule; il duce, in turn, enthusiastically praised him throughout the years and personally pushed for his nomination to the Royal Academy of Italian Intellectuals in 1930. The writer’s standing with the regime grew complicated over time, and in the late thirties he temporarily lost his party card. For more on Bontempelli and fascism, see Patricia Gaborik, “La Donna Mobile: Massimo Bontempelli’s Nostra Dea as Fascist Modernism,” Modern Drama 50.2 (2007): 210–232, and “Watching the Moon” and Other Plays by Massimo Bontempelli (New York: Italica, 2013). 37.Benito Mussolini, “Per le associazioni artistiche,” May 19, 1924, in Benito Mussolini, Opera Omnia, ed. Edoardo Susmel and Diulio Susmel (Florence: La Fenice, 1951–64), vol. 20, 276. Page 57 → 38.Massimo Bontempelli, Il Neosofista e altri scritti (Milan: Mondadori, 1928), 13. 39.On Mussolini’s deference toward theatrical propaganda, see the memoirs of the regime’s theatrical censor, Leopoldo Zurlo, Memorie inutile (Rome: Ateneo, 1952); on the refusal to establish a fascist style, nonetheless within a clear preference for modernist aesthetics, see Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922–1945 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001) and Marla Stone, The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998). 40.Mussolini, Opera Omnia, vol. 44, 49. 41.For information on various proposals and projects, Franca Angelini, Teatro e spettacolo nel primo novecento (Rome: Laterza, 2004); in English, Doug Thompson, “The Organisation, Fascistisation and Management of Theatre in Italy, 1925–1943,” in Fascism and Theatre, ed. GГјnter Berghaus (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1996), 94–112; Patricia Gaborik, “Italy: The Fancy of a National Theatre?” in National Theatres in a Changing Europe, ed. Steve Wilmer (London: Palgrave, 2008), 138–150. 42.A randello was the club fascists used to bludgeon their enemies; the capocomico was frequently called “P. Randello” in the satiric press. Amendola’s attack, which came in the wake of Pirandello’s joining the PNF, was published in Il Mondo on September 25, 1924, and prompted a response in defense of the dramatist signed by a great many of fascist intellectuals, painting a clear picture of the “sides” chosen then. 43.Marco Praga, Cronache teatrali 1925 (Milan: Treves, 1926), 220. 44.English version in Bassnett and Lorch, Documentary, 99–100. 45.English version in Bassnett and Lorch, Documentary, 99–100. 46.English version in Bassnett and Lorch, Documentary, 99–100. 47.June 29, 1925, quoted in PC, 30. 48.Alberti, Il teatro nel fascismo, 6, 135–136. 49.Lorch, Pirandello, 13. 50.As Bassnett and Lorch have suggested, the two projects were closely linked in Pirandello’s mind. In fact, he became increasingly concerned with the National Theater when he realized that the Teatro d’Arte would limp along financially (whereas a National Theater would be fully funded). See Documentary, 131. The citation of the letter to Marta Abba comes from the English-language collection, Pirandello’s Love Letters to Marta Abba (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), letter 290329, 46. 51.Excerpt translated in Love Letters, 328. The complete set of letters, with the exception of a handful the Pirandello Estate did not authorize, can be found in Luigi Pirandello, Lettere a Marta Abba, ed. Benito Ortolani (Milan: Mondadori, 1995). Nowhere is it more clear than in the letters—a beautiful and extraordinary collection of writing—how the emotionally volatile playwright’s generally positive disposition toward Mussolini and fascism was most often complicated by perceived slights. 52.I’ve argued elsewhere that the regime’s vast performance network was an alternate form of “National Theater” much more in keeping with fascism’s exigencies. See Gaborik, “Fancy.” Today I would add that we ought not overlook the fact that three of the institutions called for in D’Amico’s plan were created, and there is reason to think that, had conditions allowed, the fourth would have been as well. Though they didn’t all receive the label of “National,” I don’t feel it’s right to say, as many have done, that “nothing was to come of” the proposal for a National Theater. These are Doug Thompson’s words, in specific reference to Pirandello’s project: “Organisation,” 96.

53.For the story of the Teatro delle Arti and a full list of its repertoire, see Giovanni Page 58 →Calendoli, Il teatro delle arti: Le attivitГ teatrali dal 1937 al 1943 (Rome: Enap Psmsad, 1996) and Francesca Vigna, Il “corago sublime”: Anton Giulio Bragaglia e il “teatro delle arti” (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2008). 54.The Gruppi Universitari Fascisti sponsored various cultural activities, including film and theater groups. The Florentine GUF had the only “Sperimentale,” however, and was notable for this. 55.For the crowds of La Sagra e Gli dei, Pirandello used students from the Santa Cecilia acting academy, in part of an attempt to give students professional experience alongside academic instruction. This effort was lauded by Silvio D’Amico, whose National Theater project, with its inclusion of theaters, school, and library represented a vision in which the education of spectator and participant went hand in hand. 56.Bragaglia, Il teatro della rivoluzione, 6–14. 57.This is an issue indirectly addressed by Francesca Vigna ( Il “corago sublime”, 38–39); the Bragaglia citation comes from “Il Teatro Sperimentale di domani (e d’oggi)” in Quadrante, July 1933, 13. 58.See Mario Verdone, Drammaturgia e arte totale: L’avanguardia internazionale autori teorie opere, ed. Rocco Mario Morano (Saverio Mannelli: Rubbetino, 2005), 71–78. 59.This Mussolini explained in his lengthy discussions with Yvon De Begnac: a fascist culture had not been imposed but emerged on its own because “men of philosophical, literary, and artistic extraction had compared their experiences and their spiritual production to the sense of adventure with which they intended to live out a new season.” The new culture was born as “as a refusal of what was and as hope for what will be,” and it lived on as “the people’s new way of expressing themselves,” De Begnac, Taccuini Mussoliniani, 373–374. 60.Translated in Jeffrey T. Schnapp, A Primer of Italian Fascism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 218–220, which includes a selection of articles from the debates. 61.On this issue, see Emilio Gentile, Le origini dell’ideologia fascista, 1918–1925, introduction to the 1996 edition (1975; Bologna: Mulino, 1996), 9, 27–30 and the introduction to ModernitГ totalitaria: Il fascismo italiano (Rome: Laterza, 2008), v–xx. 62.Gentile, Origini, 23. 63.I take this opportunity to thank Professor Emilio Gentile for making available to me the text of his keynote address, “Fabbrica del consenso o fabbrica del potere? Redefining Fascism and Totalitarianism, ” for the conference “New Directions in Italian and Italian-American History: A Conference in Honor of Philip Cannistraro,” November 5, 2011, New York City. 64.“Pirandello at the New Oxford,” in Bassnett and Lorch, Documentary, 117–18. 65.Ferdinando Taviani, Uomini di scena, uomini di libro: La scena sulla coscienza (1995; Rome: Officina, 2010), 210. 66.The essential study of these figures is Claudio Meldolesi, Fondamenti del teatro italiano: La generazione dei registi (Rome: Bulzoni, 1984), an excellent book that, however, demonstrates the politically delicate task of confronting the fascist regime’s contribution to the Italian theater and how authors for several decades following the war, and sometimes still today, often overlay their studies with rhetoric that mitigates suggestions that fascism had indeed made worthy contributions. Meldolesi, for instance, suggests that changes in theatrical practice in the thirties happened because fascism “destroyed theatrical memory”—it was a negative, destructive force rather than an innovative one. It Page 59 →is in fact only in a footnote buried on page 103 of the study that he acknowledges that it was not the “generation of directors” his book focuses on that were the “founders” of Italian directing, but Bragaglia, D’Amico, and perhaps Pirandello. 67.After the war, this would in fact be D’Amico’s principal lament: a disappointment so painful to him that it blinded him to many advances the regime had made. But his position was a tricky one, too: he had benefited so fully under Mussolini’s government, it became a self-protective stance to downplay its achievements once its era drew to a close. As I’ve noted, in fact, D’Amico was instrumental in setting the tone for postwar scholarship that dismissed Blackshirt theatrical interventions as unhealthy impositions. See Patricia Gaborik, “Lo spettacolo del fascismo,” in Atlante della letteratura italiana, vol. 3, ed. Sergio Luzzatto and Gabriele PedullГ (Turin: Einaudi, 2012), 589–613.

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Patricide and the Fascist Sublime Monica Achen Patricide plagues the German expressionist stage: at least five expressionist fathers or father-figures meet their deaths at the hands of their sons. This chapter discusses two expressionist patricide dramas: Walter Hasenclever’s Der Sohn (The Son) (1914) and Arnolt Bronnen’s Vatermord (Patricide) (1919). Bronnen’s protagonist, Walter Fessel, stabs his father (Fessel Senior) to death in a bid to escape from his family’s claustrophobic apartment and lower-middle-class value system; Hasenclever’s title character, the Son, threatens to shoot his Father unless the latter cedes authority over him; the Father then conveniently drops dead of a stroke.1 Expressionist dramatists’ ideological affiliations spanned the left-right spectrum, and Hasenclever and Bronnen traveled very different political trajectories. The former would in later years support the Weimar Republic, although Germany’s economic crises forced him to seek work abroad. Trapped in France after the Nazi invasion in 1940, Hasenclever committed suicide. By contrast, Bronnen—an Austrian who spent most of his career in Germany—has the dubious distinction to be the only expressionist dramatist to collaborate with both the Nazi and Communist East German regimes. Bronnen was from his teenage years attracted to both extremes of the political spectrum. A onetime friend of Brecht’s (who was initially chosen to stage the premiere of Patricide), Bronnen joined the Nazi Party in 1930. However, he quickly fell out of favor due to both the avant-garde form and lurid sexual content of his work. In 1944, Bronnen became a Communist, and after the war he enjoyed the support, if not perhaps the complete trust, of the GDR. In many ways, Bronnen’s vacillating politics mirror the ideological ambivalence found in both his and Hasenclever’s early patricide plays, which gyrate between critiques of rigidly authoritarian sociopolitical structures and ecstatic calls for bloodshed, between demands for total liberation and fantasiesPage 61 → of omnipotence. Scholars have struggled to disentangle the plays’ seemingly contradictory ideological threads. Peter Hohendahl rightly points out that the Son’s and Walter’s crimes aim not to destroy their fathers alone, but an entire social structure: “In expressionist drama, the criminal’s action doesn’t just break an individual law; through that action, the validity of the law in general as a constituting component of the bourgeois order is also called into question.”2 However, Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s critiques extend much farther than Hohendahl acknowledges. They not only expose the deficiencies of the legal system and the bourgeois order it supports, but they attack law and authority in any form. Walter Sokel suggests that Bronnen’s celebration of youth and violence foreshadows the author’s later involvement with Nazism.3 Yet he also calls Walter’s patricide an incitement to “anarchic liberty”—not a goal often attributed to fascists.4 The contradiction underscores the challenges involved in assessing both Patricide’s and The Son’s political orientation. This chapter examines the plays against the broader context of early twentieth-century avant-garde performance and German politics. During this era, invocations of aesthetic and political violence intertwine in the writings of both theater artists and vanguardist politicians. In a speech given just after the defeat at Stalingrad, Goebbels rallied the party faithful: “I ask you: do you want total war?В .В .В . Do you want itВ .В .В . if necessary, more total and radical than we can even imagine it today?”5 (The carefully selected audience responded with rapturous assent.) Goebbels paints war in apocalyptic terms, as violence so extreme and complete as to baffle the imagination. He is anticipated in this view by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s proclamation: “I want expensive playthings to smash, cities to crumble, human anthills to kick aside.”6 Both Goebbels and Marinetti laud war for its intensity, grandeur, and boundlessness. Intensity, grandeur, and boundlessness are all characteristic of the sublime. First appearing in a Roman treatise describing a particularly heightened rhetorical style, the concept of the sublime emerged in its modern form during the eighteenth century. Immanuel Kant and Edmund Burke, two of its earliest and most important theorists,

describe it as an aesthetic response to experiences of limitlessness. Burke states: “Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror which is the most genuine effect, and truest test, of the sublime,” while Kant writes that “the sublime canВ .В .В . be found in a formless object, insofar as we present unboundedness, either [as] in the object or because the object prompts us to present it.”7 Because the sublime evokes limitlessness, it defies representation. Parliamentary democracy—increasingly the dominant form of politics in Page 62 →modern Europe—holds out the promise that every citizen can have a voice in the government of his or her country. But citizens obtain this voice only by proxy, through government functionaries—ranging from prime minister to Department of Motor Vehicles clerk—elected or appointed to “represent” them. From the fourteenth century until late in the nineteenth, European theater also became increasingly representational, in the sense that it aimed for increasing illusionism. Hasenclever and Bronnen portray patricide as an act of war generating a sublime, nonrepresentational mode of both politics and performance. In the process, they reveal troubling affinities with key currents in interwar right-wing German thought, including Nazism, which likewise hailed war as a sublime event forging forms of performance and politics beyond representation.

Politics as War Zone The Son and Patricide hover on the border between avant-garde experiment and nineteenth-century illusionism. The Son features a traditional five-act structure and verse monologues that reveal Hasenclever’s debt to Schiller rather than the linguistic experiments of his fellow expressionists August Stramm and Georg Kaiser. Bronnen’s dialogue can appear hypernaturalistic; he interjects it with slang and often follows the grammatical structure of spoken rather than written German. Yet as Patricide progresses, the repetitions and ellipses increasingly signal not the hesitations of everyday speech, but the distortion and collapse of language under an overwhelming emotional onslaught. Cracks appear in Hasenclever’s illusionistic mise-en-scГЁne when the moonlit face of the Son’s Friend materializes at a window, as though the Son’s wish had summoned it there.8 Despite Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s hesitant embrace of modernist aesthetics, they share the classical avant-gardes’ perception of a symbiotic relationship between violence and performance. Marinetti declares that “poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man”; Antonin Artaud envisions the transgressive violence of the plague as a metaphor for the kind of theater he wants to create.9 In a bellicose moment, AndrГ© Breton demands “total revolt, complete insubordination.В .В .В . Surrealism expects nothing save from violence.”10 Marinetti, Breton, and Artaud extol not just violence in general, but war, whether international (Marinetti), revolutionary (Breton), or anarchic (Artaud). While Marinetti and Breton see war as a means to establish some future political order (fascist or Communist), all three writers are drawn to the moment of Page 63 →explosion itself—the “total revolt,” the plague outbreak, the whirlwind of battle. They portray such situations as generating the sublime, suggesting that they possess an authenticity and intensity that resist any form of limitation or mediation. Marinetti, Artaud, and Breton want to capture these qualities in theatrical performance. At the same time, they see actual war as both the supreme political act and ultimate avant-garde performance. Hasenclever and Bronnen suggest that, like Breton’s “total revolt” or Artaud’s plague, patricide generates the sublime. A variety of writers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including Freud, saw the father’s rule over his children as the most primitive and fundamental unit of law and authority, that from which all others derived.11 The playwrights imply that by destroying the father, their protagonists return to a point of origin wholly free of constraint. In Walter’s final speech, he exults: I’m free No one ahead of me no one beside me no one above me the father dead / heaven I leap towards you I fly / It pushes trembles moans wails must get out swells gushes leaps flies must get out must get out

I I bloom.12 Bronnen depicts Fessel senior’s murder as an orgasmic outburst that overleaps all normal human limits. While Hasenclever expresses himself in a more measured manner, he too suggests that patricide releases his protagonist from all restraints. The Son wants to “peer over the borders in a vast, exalted flash of lightning”; in his final speech, he envisions a limitless void embracing him.13 These sublime experiences function as both avant-garde performances and acts of war. The Son and Walter display artistic inclinations: the former speculates that he might write a monologue, while the latter expresses a desire to become “that which comes after the poets, when the poets and painters and composers and sculptors are no more.”14 The avant-gardes sought to dismantle the nineteenth-century performer-audience relationship, transforming their audiences into active participants in the theatrical performance and so vaporizing the barrier between onstage fiction and the audience’s lived reality. The patricides achieve this effect within their respective dramas. In The Son’s third act, the Son addresses a crowd of students at a secret club, summoning them to rebel against the tyranny of fathers. In a theatricalist Page 64 →gesture, Hasenclever sets the scene backstage; one of the club members watches the Son’s speech through a gap in the curtain hung upstage and describes it for both the other onstage characters and the actual theater audience. Anticipating subsequent generations of performance artists, the Son performs himself. The story of suffering he relates is his own personal history; the scars he shows the crowd are real, not stage makeup. While the Son’s speech is rapturously received, Hasenclever implies that the performance remains unfinished, and that the act of patricide is needed to complete it. When the Friend confronts the Son the next morning, he tells him: “You’ve begun—now complete the work.В .В .В . yesterday your speech rang out—now you have to act on it.”15 Hasenclever suggests that, in effect, the Son performs the murder for the audience he had addressed the previous evening, and for the larger audience of all youth suffering under patriarchal tyranny. Likewise, Bronnen demonstrates that, by killing his father, Walter transforms himself into “that which comes after the poets, when the poets and painters and composers and sculptors are no more”—an apocalyptic figure who, like the museum-hating Marinetti, forges an unprecedented form of antiart in the wake of art’s extinction. Hasenclever and Bronnen represent the patricides not simply as bids for individual liberation, but as acts of revolutionary warfare. As the Son prepares to confront his father for the first time, he tells his Governess (with whom he is romantically involved), “I could win a battle for you!”16 The Son’s Friend tells him that his patricide will spur youth to revolution, providing the “spark” that will “set the whole world in an uproar.”17 Fessel accuses Walter and Frau Fessel of conspiring to stage a rebellion against him, and Walter’s final conflict with his father takes the form of physical struggle—he wrestles the latter to the ground before stabbing him to death.18 While Hasenclever and Bronnen do not depict their protagonists’ crimes as destroying the sociopolitical status quo in any literal or immediate way, they do suggest that those crimes offer a model for a new form of political action, in which violence is freed from the limitation and representation of the legal state. In the modern West, supreme political authority typically rests with centralized states. Among the many elements of human conduct that the state limits and mediates, violence—particularly lethal violence—is the most crucial; the limit on violence guarantees all other limits the state imposes. The state can wield violence through direct forms such as capital punishment as well as indirectly via the police and prison system, which constrain citizens’ movements and actions through the threat of violence. At the same time, it delegitimizes violence deployed by those not acting as representatives of the state. Rather than resorting to violence, individuals and groups Page 65 →are expected to resolve their conflicts through the mediation of the legal or electoral systems. While the Father and Fessel senior do inflict physical abuse on their sons, Hasenclever and Bronnen portray both as ultimately accepting the state’s mediation of violence, using its authority as a surrogate through which to

attack enemies whom they lack the individual strength to defeat. The Father resorts to having his Son arrested and returned home by the police because he has lost the ability to control the Son on his own. Fessel senior is determined to turn Walter into a lawyer because he wants his son to represent the downtrodden in their grievances against the rich and powerful, and so gain retribution for the hardships Fessel and his family have suffered. He tells Walter that he wants him to “represent the workers / and avenge your blood-kin.”19 Bronnen implies that, because Fessel senior as an individual cannot hope to successfully strike against his family’s oppressors, he turns to a stronger representative: the modern legal state as embodied through his son. Not coincidentally, Fessel is a Social Democrat; Bronnen allies the character’s ineffectual resentment with that of Austria’s biggest leftist party. The playwrights suggest that the fathers’ mediated relationship with violence has rendered them—and by implication the bourgeois culture they represent—incapable of sublimity. The Son reviles the Father’s generation as “mockers of everything great”; during a confrontation, he informs him: “I’m not here to speak the way I did yesterday, begging for something I’ve realized you’re too small and mean to grant me.”20 The playwrights underscore the petty nature of the fathers’ worldviews by portraying both as physically infirm: Fessel staggers and clutches his hands to his chest during the final scene of Patricide, implying the onset of a heart attack; the Father, as already mentioned, dies of a stroke. While the Father and Fessel permit the state to represent them against their enemies, Walter and the Son take violence into their own hands. In doing so, the protagonists transform the political realm into a war zone. Wars occur in situations where a monopoly on violence, and hence a sovereign political authority, are absent. Acts of domestic terrorism don’t typically garner the designation “insurrection” or “civil war” unless they become numerous and effective enough to threaten a regime’s monopoly on violence. And as Hobbes observes, there is no monopoly on violence in the international arena: nation-states exist in the same anarchic relationship to each other as do individuals in the (mythical) state of nature.21 Of course, war has long been subject to codes regulating conduct, but in the absence of any overarching sovereign authority, such codes cannot be consistently enforced. Because of this, war’s violence remains potentially limitless. Hasenclever and BronnenPage 66 → suggest that by transposing such violence into the heart of the political community, their protagonists restore to that community the grandeur of the sublime. The playwrights depict this transposition as an act of liberation. Both the Son and Walter repeatedly appeal for “freedom” (“Give me freedom”; “Are you going to set me free?”; “I want to be free”; “Something will happenВ .В .В . if he doesn’t set me free”).22 Hasenclever even suggests that the Son’s patricide will complete the antimonarchical bourgeois revolutions of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, the sublime conception of freedom that he and Bronnen herald bears little resemblance to that found within the liberal democratic tradition, where the state maintains a firm monopoly on violence and periodic elections are designed to substitute for armed conflict between opposing factions. Nor does either playwright display interest in establishing any of the specific freedoms often seen as essential to liberal democracy, such as freedom of association, freedom of the press, or free elections—despite the fact that none of these freedoms were securely established in Wilhelmine Germany or the Hapsburg Empire on the eve of the First World War. Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s critiques of the centralized state and demands for absolute freedom do resemble those found in the writings of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century anarchists. But while some anarchists condoned violence as a technique for achieving their political goals, major figures like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin tended to picture a stateless society as the epitome of order and peace. This is not an ideal that Hasenclever and Bronnen share. Indeed, the playwrights offer few details of any kind about the new order their protagonists’ crimes create. Those that Hasenclever does mention—preventing fathers from beating their sons or having them arrested—seem oddly prosaic when compared with the magniloquence of the play’s rhetoric. Instead, the playwrights are drawn to the moment of orgiastic violence itself, suggesting that war offers the only truly representation-free politics. Such sentiments do play a significant role within a certain apocalyptic strain of late nineteenth- and early

twentieth-century European political discourse, one that, at least initially, fostered uncanny affinities between the far Left and extreme Right. In the years preceding World War I, a wide variety of political figures joined with the avant-gardes in suggesting that sublime violence could become the vehicle for a more authentic and vital form of politics than that found within the bourgeois legal state. The nationalist, anti-Semitic historian and Reichstag member Heinrich von Treitschke asserts that one of Page 67 →the state’s most essential functions “is to make war. That we have so long failed to appreciate this, is proof how effeminate the science of the state as treated by the hands of civilians has finally become.В .В .В . One must say in the most decided manner: вЂWar is the only remedy for ailing nations.’”23 Remarkably similar sentiments can be found in the writings of the playwright and Bolshevik revolutionary Maxim Gorky, who asserts: “Two hundred black eyes will not deck Russian history in brighter color; for that you need rivers of blood.В .В .В . Life is built on cruelty, horror, force.”24 Arguably the most important pre–World War I theorist of violence was Georges Sorel. Sorel’s Reflections on Violence (1907) offers a particularly fruitful comparison with Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s thought. Sorel shares Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s mix of left- and right-wing impulses: late in his life, he would write admiring tributes to both Lenin and Mussolini. Moreover, like the playwrights, he sees war as a sublime aesthetic and political event. Sorel insists on the importance of political myths as catalysts for revolutionary action.25 He describes such myths as aesthetic objects: “a body of images” in which “the movements of the revolted masses must be represented in such a way that the soul of the revolutionaries may receive a deep and lasting impression.”26 One such myth, he argues, is proletarian violence as manifested in the general strike. Sorel lauds proletarian violence—which he calls “purely and simply acts of war”—not as a means of achieving economic equality, but for its ability to reintroduce the sublime into political life. Sorel complains that “sublimity has vanished” from contemporary politics, “giving place to a morality of extraordinary meanness.”27 He sees the general strike as fulfilling the same function that Hasenclever and Bronnen attribute to patricide: by transforming the political arena into a war zone, it creates a form of political action beyond representation, “a catastrophe, the development of which baffles description.”28 Following the slaughter of World War I, celebrations of war’s grandeur became increasingly confined to the political Right. A variety of interwar German intellectuals looked to the destruction and chaos of the recent war as a model for the kind of ethos they hoped to instill in postwar Weimar society. Ernst JГјnger—who frequented the same nationalist salons as Bronnen—describes in a series of autobiographical narratives his experiences as an officer in World War I, which he calls “a gripping spectacle to behold,” “an intoxication beyond all intoxication, an unleashing that breaks all bonds.В .В .В . a force without caution and limits, comparable only to the forces of nature.”29 Similarly, the legal theorist Carl Schmitt, an admirer of Sorel, writes: “Bellicose, revolutionary excitement and the expectation of monstrousPage 68 → catastrophes belong to the intensity of life and move history.”30 Like Hasenclever and Bronnen, Schmitt and JГјnger hail war as an intoxicating, transcendent aesthetic experience. Moreover, JГјnger and Schmitt join the playwrights in wanting to infuse German political culture with war’s sublimity. Schmitt, who would go on to serve the Nazi regime, cites war as the basis for all genuine politics. In The Concept of the Political (1927), Schmitt defines the political as founded on the distinction between friend and enemy, and he argues that the political can only exist where there remains a possibility of war: “A world in which the possibility of war is utterly eliminated, a completely pacified globe, would be a world without the distinction of friend and enemy and hence a world without politics.”31 Schmitt argues that liberalism, with its emphasis on free thought and free enterprise, has blunted the force of the friend/enemy distinction; during the 1920s, he became an increasingly strong advocate for dictatorship.32 JГјnger likewise hopes to make the sublime experience of war the cornerstone of future German political life. He writes approvingly of increasing militarism within Weimar politics: The police forceВ .В .В . has transformed itself from a group of civil servants into a formation that already greatly resembles a military unit. Likewise the various large parties acknowledge the need to adopt means of power that express the fact that the battle of opinions will not be decided solely

through votes and programs but also by the stalwarts committed to march in support of those programs.33

JГјnger praises the newly belligerent police and proliferation of paramilitary organizations because he sees these as evidence for the emergence of what is essentially a state of war—with all its attendant danger and grandeur—within the Weimar Republic. The Weimar government faced challenges from various factions—Communist as well as nationalist and fascist—denying the legitimacy of the constitution and insisting that legal norms should be superseded by direct, often violent action. As Timothy Brown writes in a recent history of Weimar era radicalism, both Nazis and Communists viewed politics as, to invert Clausewitz’s phrase, war carried on by other means: “Both movements were expressions of a rampant militarism in Weimar society, a social militarismВ .В .В .В . that posit[ed] war as a vehicle for societal transformation and a source of spiritual values.”34 Nor was such militarism confined to the political extremes. Most major political parties (including the governing, prorepublican Page 69 →Social Democrats) operated paramilitary organizations, as did various nonparty political factions. By 1933, 25 percent of all men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five could claim membership in a paramilitary group.35 Even before the Nazi seizure of power, German politics fulfilled Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s youthful fantasies, erupting into a war zone where conflict was resolved not by some mutually recognized authority, but by whoever inflicted violence most effectively. The playwrights contribute to a broader shift in early twentieth-century German discourse, in which a paramilitary street-fighter might appear more admirable than the desk-bound parliamentarian, and bloodshed nobler than rational discussion and compromise.

Total Power, Total Theater Despite their longing for individual liberation, Hasenclever and Bronnen share a fascination with unlimited power, and suggest that, through patricide, their protagonists gain omnipotence. Walter tells Fessel: “I have to get away from you / everything must be mine I will conquer become great grow tall above everything”; here and in the play’s closing speech (“No one ahead of me no one beside me no one above me the father dead / heaven I leap towards you I fly”), Bronnen depicts the unlimited self as a near-divine being.36 The Son, Prometheus-like, declares his intention to “ignite fire after fire, / then I’ll be more than self, I will be Being!”37 Such sentiments might appear diametrically opposed to the playwrights’ demands for unconditional freedom. However, as Terry Eagleton argues in Holy Terror, the sublime’s limitlessness charges it with the potential for absolute power as well total liberation: By identifying ourselves with the boundlessness of the sublime, we cease to be anything in particular, but thereby become potentially everything. In this dazzling nothingness, all and nothing are closely allied, since both are absolved from limits.В .В .В . It is for this reason that feeling utterly inconsiderable can tip over into a sense of omnipotence.38 Hasenclever portrays the Son’s speech at the club—which serves as the “opening act” for his patricide—as an exercise in domination. As previously noted, the speech breaks down the barrier between performer and audience, aesthetic event and lived experience. However, this transformation does not enable the audience to challenge or critique the performance, but instead serves as a means for the performer to gain power over the audience. When the Son Page 70 →addresses the club, the Friend secretly directs his words and gestures through hypnotism. While the Friend does no physical harm to the Son, his action has violent overtones: he invades the Son’s mind and appropriates his body without the latter’s consent. The Son in turn asserts a similar form of control (albeit half-unwittingly) over the audience; while he does not literally hypnotize them, Hasenclever suggests that his performance achieves an equally mesmerizing effect. The crowd members “surround him. Now—they seize his hands—they cheer him.В .В .В . They kiss his hands—what an uproar! They lift him onto their shoulders—and carry him out of the hall.”39 Hasenclever sees the performer-

crowd relationship not as partnership or mutual exchange, but a means for charismatic personalities to impose their wills on weaker, more susceptible beings. Hasenclever and Bronnen depict the patricides themselves as even more emphatic performances of power. Like the Son’s speech, these acts demand active participants rather than passive audiences and offer a live, authentic event instead of fictional representation. The Son and Walter force the fathers to participate in their performances. They confirm their absolute power over their progenitors, wiping them out of existence. Many adherents of the interwar German Right shared Hasenclever’s and Bronnen’s perception that war’s sublimity stemmed largely from its display of overwhelming force. Schmitt and JГјnger imply that, by transforming the political realm into a war zone, it will be possible to create a new form of political power beyond laws or limits—the totalitarian state. JГјnger argues that the demands of World War I accelerated a process of “total mobilization,” by which all aspects of national life are placed under the control of the state.40 In Political Theology, Schmitt defines true political authority and legitimacy as based in a decision on the “state of exception,” an aporia within the fabric of normative law. What resides in this gap is pure power, founded on and accountable to nothing but its own force, and it is within this gap that sovereignty—political authority—resides. “What characterizes an exception is principally unlimited authority, which means the suspension of the entire existing order.”41 Schmitt envisions the state of exception as a temporary emergency measure; the Nazis made it a permanent fixture of German political life. While presenting themselves as restoring order to the nation, they actually enshrined the limitlessness and lawlessness of war at the very heart of state authority, in a sovereign authority embodying unlimited power and unchecked violence. Once in power, the Nazis moved rapidly to dismantle the Weimar legal state, dispensing with individual rights guaranteed under the Weimar constitution, granting themselves the right to alter the constitution without Page 71 →parliamentary approval, and retroactively legalizing the murders committed during the Night of the Long Knives (to cite but a few examples).42 Nazi political rituals functioned as performances designed to evoke the sublimity of the total state. While most of the party leadership shared an intense hostility toward modernist art and literature, Nazi rallies were, like many avant-garde performances, designed to dismantle any psychic barrier between the star performer and other participants. Hitler describes speech-making in the way that Marinetti and Artaud describe the ideal performance: as both an artistic act and a form of assault. He views “great” political movements as “the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity byВ .В .В . the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.В .В .В . he alone can arouse passion who bears it within himself. It alone gives its chosen one the words which like hammer blows can open the gates to the heart of a people.”43 Like the Friend-Son addressing the assembly of youth, Hitler transforms words and gestures into weapons designed to batter away the crowd’s capacity for doubt and reason, joining their will to that of the leader. The Nazis intended this process to offer a form of politics beyond representation, via an unconditional, unmediated communion between FГјhrer and people. The American journalist Virginia Cowles writes of a 1934 rally that she observed: “Hitler’s voice rasped into the night and every now and then the multitude broke into a roar of cheers. Some of the audience began swaying back and forth, chanting вЂSieg Heil’ over and over again in a frenzy of delirium. I looked at the faces around me and saw tears streaming down people’s cheeks.”44 Through the FГјhrerprinzip, the Nazis believed, politics could once again acquire the patina of the sublime. Political pageants like these played a significant role in Bronnen’s attraction to Nazism. Since at least the early 1920s, he’d admired the vast scale and outsized emotions of mass politics; he also had a lifelong fascination with charismatic, domineering personalities, including Goebbels, with whom he formed a brief friendship in the early 1930s. In his autobiography, Bronnen describes his reaction to first hearing one of Hitler’s speeches on the radio: “Could a person like me, with the means of expression that I’d used up until now, possibly measure up to this force?”45 The German word for force—die Gewalt—also means “violence.” Bronnen perceives Hitler’s speech as achieving an impression similar to that which he hoped to create with his plays—but far more effectively. In addition to reconfiguring politics as a spectacle of domination, the Nazis shared Hasenclever’s and

Bronnen’s view of war itself as the supreme performance of power. Goebbels, who admired the mass performances (if not Page 72 →the politics) of Piscator and Reinhardt, wrote a pseudoexpressionist novel (Michael, 1929), in which he declares: “Revolution is a creative act. It overcomes the last rudiments of collapsing epochs and clears a free path for the future.В .В .В . There must be destruction if there is to be new creation.”46 Like Hasenclever and Bronnen, Goebbels suggests that, because war is not confined within the safe boundaries of fictional representation, it offers the ultimate aesthetic experience. Albert Speer in his prison diaries recalls Hitler demanding private screenings of the fire-bombings of Warsaw and London and envisioning New York’s “skyscrapers being turned into gigantic burning torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the dark sky.”47 Speer describes Hitler reliving the destruction wrought by his armies as a documentary film, a GГ¶tterdammerung burst through the fourth wall of the nineteenth-century stage and into terrifying life. Like Hasenclever and Bronnen, but on an exponentially grander scale, the Nazis viewed the ideal performance as an exercise in subjugation through annihilation. It is a long way from patricide to world war; neither Hasenclever nor Bronnen advocate for anything like wholesale slaughter the Nazis engaged in. Indeed, Hasenclever would in later years repudiate many of The Son’s more bloodthirsty sentiments; his experiences in World War I instilled in him a profound antimilitarism, reflected in plays such as Der Retter (The Savior) and his adaptation of Antigone. However, by exalting war as the paradigm for sublime politics and performance, the playwrights contribute to a constellation of avant-garde ideas that would, in the fifteen years following the plays’ publication, reemerge as a cornerstone of right-wing, antidemocratic German ideology, finding its consummation in the brutalizing spectacles and spectacular brutality of the Nazi state.

Notes 1.Hasenclever, like several other expressionist dramatists, often dispenses with individual character names. In The Son, he designates the main characters by their relationship to the Son (Friend, Governess, Father), except for the Son himself who, Hasenclever suggests, is defined by his relationship to the Father. 2.Peter Hohendahl, Das Bild der bГјrgerlichen Welt im expressionistischen Drama (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1967), 262. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from German are my own. 3.Walter Sokel, The Writer in Extremis: Expressionism in Twentieth Century German Literature (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 100. 4.Sokel, The Writer in Extremis, 170. 5.Goebbels, “Speech in the Berlin Sportpalast, 18 February 1943,” trans. Rod Stackelberg,Page 73 → in The Nazi Germany Sourcebook: An Anthology of Texts, ed. Roderick Stackelberg and Sally A. Winkle (London: Routledge, 2002), 301. 6.Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Selected Writings, ed. R. W. Flint, trans. R. W. Flint and Arthur A. Coppotelli (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972), 42, 45. 7.Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 67; Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. Werner S. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), 98. 8.Walter Hasenclever, Dramen (Berlin: Die Schmiede Verlag, 1924), 65. 9.Marinetti, Selected Writings, 41. 10.AndrГ© Breton, “Second Surrealist Manifesto,” in Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969), 125. 11.Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1952), 144–150. See also Henry Sumner Maine, Ancient Law (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986), 119–122. 12.Arnold Bronnen, Vatermord, in Werke, vol. 1, ed. Friedrich Aspetsberger (Klagenfurt: Ritter Verlag, 1989), 270–271. 13.Hasenclever, Dramen, 56, 148. 14.Bronnen, Vatermord, 209. 15.Hasenclever, Dramen, 117.

16.Hasenclever, Dramen, 42–43. 17.Hasenclever, Dramen, 117. 18.Bronnen, Vatermord, 231. 19.Bronnen, Vatermord, 222. 20.Hasenclever, Dramen, 138, 142. 21.Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1950), 140. 22.Hasenclever, Dramen, 115, 53, 143; Bronnen, Vatermord, 229. 23.Heinrich von Treitschke, “The Aim of the State,” in Stackelberg and Winkle, The Nazi Germany Sourcebook, 9. 24.Maxim Gorky, Letters of Gorky and Andreev, 1899–1912, ed. Peter Vershov (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), 70. 25.Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence, trans. T. E. Hulme (New York: Peter Smith, 1941), 22. 26.Sorel, Reflections on Violence, 130. 27.Sorel, Reflections on Violence, 121, 187, 245. 28.Sorel, Reflections on Violence, 164. 29.Ernst JГјnger, “Total Mobilization,” in The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader, ed. Richard Wolin (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), 123; Kampf als innere Erlebnis, quoted in Richard Wolin, “Carl Schmitt: The Conservative Revolutionary Habitus and the Aesthetics of Horror,” Political Theory 20.3 (August 1992): 424. 30.Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 71. 31.Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 35. 32.Schmitt, Concept of the Political, 71. 33.JГјnger, “On Danger,” in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, ed. Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 371. Page 74 → 34.Timothy S. Brown, Weimar Radicals: Nazis and Communists Between Authenticity and Performance (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), 22. 35.Brown, Weimar Radicals, 39. 36.Bronnen, Vatermord, 264. 37.Hasenclever, Dramen, 147. 38.Terry Eagleton, Holy Terror (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 45. 39.Hasenclever, Dramen, 99. 40.JГјnger, “Total Mobilization,” 126–127. 41.Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 12. 42.Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 152, 154, 159. 43.Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Sentry, 1943), 106–107. 44.Virginia Cowles, Looking for Trouble (London: Harper & Bros., 1941), 153–154. 45.Arnold Bronnen, Arnolt Bronnen gibt zu Protokoll: BeitrГ¤ge zur Geschichte des modernen Schriftstellers (Hamburg: Rohwolt Verlag, 1954), 118. Former Nazis’ autobiographies are notoriously unreliable; one composed with the GDR censors in mind may be even more so than most. Nevertheless, this quote seems revealing. Since Bronnen was writing in an attempt to rehabilitate himself with the East German regime, it’s likely that his initial enthusiasm for Hitler was, if anything, greater than he admits to here. 46.Joseph Goebbels, quoted in James M. Rhodes, The Hitler Movement: A Modern Millenarian Revolution (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1980), 70. 47.Albert Speer, Spandau: The Secret Diaries, trans. Richard Winston and Clara Winston (New York: Macmillan, 1976), 80.

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“So That the Sun Should Shine on Free Men” Henry Williamson, Lawrence of Arabia, and the Performance of Vanguard Visions Graham White The vision of a vanguard moment is a key element in the fascist imaginary, the materialization of fascist inspiration and leadership in a performative enactment—the march, the rally, the seizing of power. Yet in the history of vanguard movements in English fascism, such visions of political transcendence often collapse in performative failure. This essay considers how the idealization of an imagined moment of vanguard performance entwines with the frequently disastrous history of the Far Right in English nationalism. In 1935, the English nature novelist and World War I veteran Henry Williamson conceived a plan for a rally in which ex-servicemen would mass at London’s Albert Hall to be addressed by T. E. Lawrence, “Lawrence of Arabia,” famed for his wartime leadership of Arab insurgencies against the Turkish army. Lawrence was an acquaintance of the novelist, and Williamson projected him as the charismatic potential leader of a vanguard movement that might cement a peaceful relationship with the increasingly belligerent Nazi regime in Germany and bring to power “the authentic mind of the war generation.”1 For Williamson, the road to European regeneration lay through the common understandings and shared values of the ex-combatants, something he imagined that Adolf Hitler, himself a war veteran, would understand. Williamson visualized a moment of political performance during which Lawrence would address his audience of ex-soldiers prior to a “whirlwind campaign” for power and for freedom from “usury”—a term that locates the politics lying behind the pacifist rhetoric. Page 76 →Williamson later claimed that he sought and obtained Lawrence’s agreement to the appearance, but that the reclusive hero’s death in a motorcycle accident in May 1935—Lawrence having just sent a telegram agreeing to meet and discuss the rally with Williamson—ended the dream. Afterward, Williamson became a supporter of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and attended their 1939 rally at Earl’s Court, a moment that perhaps provided a bathetic illustration for him of the pitfalls of political performance as it ushered in a decisive slump in the party’s popularity rather than an advance to glory. Though disillusioned by the BUF’s journey and the performative failure of its own aping of Nuremberg, Williamson continued as a sympathizer with far-right ideas, and the imagined rally seems to have remained a touchstone for him—an image of what might have been. This essay explores Williamson’s motives for imagining Lawrence’s involvement and examines the attractions of the fantasized political performance as a component of “vanguard” visions. In particular, it considers how Williamson’s investment in the performed moment of political transcendence remained an ideal in his writing even after the possibility of a vanguard emerging to inspire a national regeneration had passed with Lawrence’s death. It was not until the 1941 publication of his book Genius of Friendship, a hagiographic memoir of Lawrence, that Williamson first revealed the existence of the planned meeting—with Lawrence by then a redeemer figure safely untarnished by messy political reality. Indeed, it might be said that Williamson’s projection remained all the more hypnotic for him because it never suffered that chastening collision with reality that has repeatedly dogged British right-wing vanguard groups, from Mosley’s BUF to the present-day English Defence League, in which visions of political leadership renewal collide with factionalism, organized opposition, and frequent bathetic collapse. Williamson’s dream of transcendence was to suffer its own performative failure long after his death, when the publication of Lawrence’s side of the correspondence seemed to confirm Williamson as an after-the-fact fantasist. But his continuing role as a significant point of reference for contemporary “vanguardists” of the Far Right—for whom his writing seems to provide a seductive poetic vision of a naturalized order that is taken to legitimize fascism—suggests that such politicized dreaming is a key element of the far-right vanguard project. Williamson’s vision of Lawrence remains a signal illustration of the place of fantasized transcendent performance in Fascist and far-right

thought. Page 77 →

Fantasies of Transcendence To instigate a vanguard project is to claim a pioneering role that seeks to convince those who follow that it is, if not safe, at least right to do so, and so to usher in the new ideas, forces, and visions that will transform and transcend the old. The fascist imaginary often conceives a transcendent moment of renewal and reinvention as if it were to come into being in a moment of revelatory presence built around a charismatic leader, the spearhead of the movement, before the body of its massing troops. Philip Roth’s 2007 novel The Plot Against America2 imagines an alternative history in which the pioneering transatlantic pilot and proselytizer for Nazi Germany, Charles Lindbergh, becomes Republican presidential candidate through a combination of opposition inertia and the seductive glamour of his own persona. Roth represents the moment of Lindbergh’s rise to candidacy as instant of opportunistic performance. Lindbergh realizes the consummation of his political ambitions when he steps into the hall of the deadlocked Republican convention and seizes the chance to win the party nomination through his understanding of the potential of performance. The enactment of his timely, charismatic entrance declares him to be the thing he wishes to appear—the savior of the party and the nation, and the embodiment of a new, vanguard vision. Roth’s text imagines how Lindbergh made his unanticipated entrance onto the convention floor at 3:18 am. The lean, tall, handsome hero, a lithe, athletic-looking man not yet forty years old, arrived in his flying attire, having landed his own plane at the Philadelphia airport only minutes earlier, and, at the sight of him, a surge of redemptive excitement brought the wilted conventioneers up onto their feet to cry “Lindy! Lindy! Lindy!” for thirty glorious minutes, and without interruption from the chair.3 Perhaps this scene is as Lindbergh might have imagined it for himself—a desired fantasy of triumphant performance—though it becomes, in Roth’s own imagining, a nightmare image of slow-encroaching dictatorship. It is a compelling, convincing vision of what might have happened. Its existence as a hypothetical—an unreality—ironically reflects the insubstantial nature of the vanguardist dream of consummation in ritual, ceremony, and performance characteristic of the wider example of 1930s fascism, in which the unreachably transcendent is so often the desired goal of the immersive rally. Page 78 →Roth’s negative fantasy locates his nascent dictator in a plausible landscape of 1930s male heroes with a charismatic and authoritarian edge—aviators, adventurers, individualists whose progress through newsreels, radio, and print was widely celebrated in the era by politicians, commentators, and artists as the redemptive and transcendent supersession of contemporary social and political reality—the vanguardist expression of a new political age. This portrayal plays with the known and contemporarily mediated realities of Lindbergh’s biography, with the trajectory of other right-wing dictators and their manipulation of appearance, moment, and public meeting and with the imagining of the performance event, where potential and actuality merge. If fascism were to come to America in the 1930s, it would surely realize itself in the moment of the mass rally, tilting from the democratic to the authoritarian in the instant of its enactment and staging a far-right obsession with the performative and the cultic—a mode of political engagement being constructed and actualized in the instant of its inscription. The figure of Lindbergh is a familiar 1930s icon of vaulting manhood. He is the vanguard leader whose charisma is registered through acts of heroism, endurance, and pioneering achievement in physical, military, or aesthetic spheres. A masculine figure such as Lindbergh, or the Italian air ace Italo Balbo (whose formation of flying boats crossed the Atlantic in 1933), is represented in the moment as a parapolitical animal, an enthusiastic innovator whose successes as explorer, warrior, or flyer illustrate his ability to pioneer and to inspire. His charm is both social and aesthetic, but his political potential is as the leader of a renewal on which a nation’s fantasies of

transformation may fix, and as a figure tried and tested in battle or adventure. As Emilio Gentile notes in his discussion of myths of national regeneration in the context of the rise of Italian fascism: National regeneration is often messianic, assuming an apocalyptic character when the myth is conceptualized as a collective sacrificial experience, through a palingenetic catastrophe—war or revolution—destroying the old world and the “old man,” and creating the new world and the “new man.”4 Williamson’s fantasies of transcendence found their focus in a similar vision, of the rise of a new leader who might emerge theatrically into the political spotlight, stepping forward to transform what Williamson saw as the degeneration brought about by modern democracy. His modeling of a fantasy role for Lawrence anticipates Roth’s fictional treatment of Lindbergh, as it weaves a hypothetical of performative emergence to rival Roth’s fiction (though in Page 79 →this case as a longed-for triumph rather than a nightmare). Lawrence is seen throughout the 1930s in Britain as a representative “strong man” figure, remote, charismatic, disciplined, militaristic, a figure of unearthly ability and achievement, transcending with his protean persona the mundane hierarchies of British military and political life. Lawrence’s media profile, as an elusive figure constantly sought after by the press, created a double-edged identity. He was both a military leader and a participant in the experience and group identity of the common soldier, reverting to the ranks under an assumed name after the war in order to escape the pressures of celebrity. However, Lawrence regularly broke cover in the interwar years, writing, publishing, “networking,” securing extraordinary privileges for an ordinary soldier (his cottage, Clouds Hill, stood a short distance from the perimeter of the camp at which he was based, and he was able to return to its seclusion whenever he wished, rather than barracking with his peers), and frequently being ushered back to advise the military on strategy and development of technology. Williamson had risen to prominence as a leading British prose embodier of a particular vision of rural order and natural essentialism, most celebratedly as the author of the novel Tarka the Otter.5 His acquaintance with Lawrence grew from Lawrence’s fan letter written in response to that novel and developed through correspondence discussing their shared literary tastes and ambitions. According to Genius of Friendship, their letters were regular and, judging from the contents of those from which Williamson quotes, tended to the intense. Tellingly, Williamson also casts the men’s rare and brief meetings—they only encountered each other twice—as bearing an almost mythic significance and symbolism. While a reading of Lawrence’s side of the correspondence as quoted in Williamson’s volume might lead the reader to the conclusion that Lawrence felt the need to distance himself from Williamson’s confessional tendencies, it is clear that both writers valued the respect and opinion of the other, and that there was a communality of feeling regarding aesthetics, certain values, and ideals. The connection was also based, at least for Williamson, on a desire for camaraderie, a “bruderschaft,” as it is characterized in his late novel, The Gale of the World,6 the search for which developed from his traumatic service as a soldier in World War I. His experience of the 1914 Christmas truce suggested to him that the enemy was in fact a band of brothers like his own army and that both sides were manipulated and betrayed by those whose interests the war served. This identification of a common identity and trauma between soldiers and their fellow combatants led him to the belief that Lawrence might share his sense of its potential to unify nations and to prevent war. So far, so idealistic and even so communitarian. As the 1930s progressed, Page 80 →and the maverick English MP Oswald Mosley established a party, the British Union of Fascists, that was explicitly aligned in style and policy with Mussolini’s and Hitler’s antidemocratic movements in Europe, Williamson developed his own thoughts about an event that might prompt change. With Lawrence of Arabia’s name to gather a meeting of ex-Servicemen in the Albert Hall, with his presence and stimulation to cohere into unassailable logic the authentic mind of the war generation come to power and truth and amity, a whirlwind campaign which would end the old fearful thought of Europe (usury-based) for ever. So that the sun should shine on free men!7 In conceiving his plans for Lawrence’s appearance as a model performance, engaging with the immersive

potential of the gathered mass military audience, Williamson’s thinking seems to have been triggered by his attendance at a Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg in July 1935. This event was also attended by a variety of British and American fellow-travelers, including Unity and Diana Mitford, sisters whose associations with fascism became notorious.8 At the rally, Williamson had been “deeply impressed and influenced by the dramatic Wagnerian-style display”9 and its combination of rhetorical address, of staged military order, and of the enacted relationship between leader and led, so that the image emerges of an immersive vanguard performance that seems to have inspired Williamson’s plan. People on their feet, a roar of heil hitler! no, not a roar, an eager gladness, everyone happy and welcoming that tiny figure on the dais down there, with outstretched right arms.В .В .В . People sat down, like hundreds of thousands of friends, knowing each other, equal with the same trust. I can only describe it this way, picking each word deliberately as I write.10 Throughout the book, Williamson hints at his opinion of Lawrence’s potential as the man who might have come to Britain’s aid, at one point making an implicit comparison between Hitler and Lawrence, suggesting that in a postwar Britain, a Hitler “may have gone back into the Army, or the Air Force, and written philosophical books after parade hours—had he been one of the English, who вЂwon’ the war.”11 This was precisely the pattern of Lawrence’s ascetic lifestyle at the time of his death. The iconography of fascist ceremonial, etched out in an initial guise in Page 81 →Gabrielle D’Annunzio’s role as leader of the irredentist regime in Fiume after World War I, places the leader as the focal point of the performance, evoking and supporting his supposed charisma, as the Nuremberg model illustrated for Williamson. For a figure such as Lawrence to become the validator of Williamson’s version of the imagined future, Williamson needed to embrace a similarly immersive performance, registering his leadership role through a symbolic rite of passage prefaced, witnessed, and celebrated by those who would form the body of the vanguard group who came to change things. That Williamson should see that as a body of servicemen, versed in military discipline, communality of purpose and subordination to authority would seem a plausible conclusion for the sentimental writer to draw (if one rather lacking in insight—there was little pacifistic in the celebration of military might that Nuremberg embodied), and he clearly viewed Lawrence as a totemic enough figure to be enshrined in this role. His account of the friendship repeatedly circles round Lawrence’s magnetism and presence, with the rare actual encounters between the two prefaced by delays or postponements that only serve to enhance the power of Lawrence’s arrival. On the first occasion, a visit to Williamson’s home is cast as one achieved against all odds—the threat of mechanical breakdown, dreadful weather, the restrictions of military service—and Lawrence’s physical appearance is picked over in detailed description, as if Williamson were faced with a figure who is more than human, yet flawlessly self-effacing. He padded into the cottage. His eyes and head moved with noticeable quickness. He was instantly alert to what I said, he reacted to my every movement. He knew what I was going to say before I said it. His reflexes were extraordinarily quick and sensitive: quicksilver.12 Williamson’s vivid and intense experience of Lawrence strikes many unintentionally comic notes, repeatedly focusing on the hero’s height. In Williamson’s account, the famously small Lawrence somehow transcends his stature, in part because of his mesmeric charisma; Was he tall, was he short? It was not noticeable. This was not due to my having lost my head; rather, I had found my head—firm on my shoulders. But at the time I did not have these thoughts or rather reflections; I formulated them later. All I felt at that moment was that, for the first time in my life, I was becoming real and strong.13 Page 82 →Notwithstanding the unintentional comedy, Williamson ascribes a mercurial quality to Lawrence along with a gloss of the messianic. Elsewhere Lawrence’s face is said to bear “a refracting and reflecting mask of multi-strangeness,”14 indicating a poised separation from the mass of humanity that Williamson judges as akin to that reputed to have been held by Jesus. The Messiah’s distance indicated an ability to reveal how

humanity’s “prejudices prevented them from seeing the possibilities of a truly civilized world of men”15 and such a forceful quality, which led to Christ’s martyrdom, seem now to have provoked Lawrence’s hounding by the press and his response—a reclusive return to private soldiery. The potential, as we shall see, for performance to fail, to be misread, poorly staged, interrupted, uncommunicative, inadequate, is a contemporary theoretical commonplace. Brought into being as a reality, an imagined performance risks being undermined rather than ideally realized. The fact that Williamson’s nostalgic dream of Lawrence was never more than a dream seems to have rendered it all the more potent for him, and in his retrospective writing Lawrence becomes the lost, untainted redeemer. Lawrence’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, have given rise to a series of conspiracy theories about what caused the accident, what the aim of Williamson’s proposed meeting had been, and whether or not such an ex-serviceman’s rally ever existed as a material possibility—even the suggestion that Williamson planned to bring Lawrence and Hitler together.16 In Genius of Friendship Williamson even published the contents of Lawrence’s telegram—“Tuesday, lunch, wet, fine, cottage 1 mile north Bovington camp”17—to suggest that Lawrence was not only agreeing to a meeting, but also to Williamson’s proposal regarding the rally and, implicitly, to the politics implied in Williamson’s vision of a Europe no longer “usury-based.” Such claims remained active for many years, beyond Williamson’s own death, but they were undermined by publication of the full correspondence between the two men, which seems to show Lawrence’s telegram as entirely innocent of conspiracy.18 Revealed as an exercise in commemorative beatification, Williamson’s vision of Lawrence stands as the perfect fascist project, an unrealized retrospective fantasy that has no need to engage with the undermining of its ideal purity through its coming into existence. This regretful and nostalgic construction of a never-realized performance project is in many ways a model inscription of vanguardist values in fascism, with its emphasis on the ideal past against the decayed present, and something of that pleasure in nostalgia clings nowadays to the portrayal of Williamson as the neglected prophet of the Far Right. Page 83 →

Williamson’s Natural Order Williamson’s attachment to fascism is an awkward and ever-present corollary to his literary reputation. Anne Williamson makes the case for the writer as a political naïf, suggesting that it is “those with their own axe to grind” who have picked upon the “small fraction” of Williamson’s life and work that may have reflected “leanings” towards fascist ideas.19 Certainly Williamson frequently appears as an adopted touchstone for the contemporary Far Right, his literary achievement offering what might seem to be a form of fellow-traveling camouflage. However, while the fantasy he casts around Lawrence is not merely a reflection of a misty-eyed romanticism, nor is Williamson’s adoption by the Far Right entirely the misrepresentation of a figure no longer able to defend himself. In a BBC local news film recorded in 1965,20 Williamson is shown reclining on a bed, manuscripts around him, then sitting at his desk, correcting them. Later he sits in his garden on a beautiful afternoon, in shorts and shirt, next to his writing shed, and a suited presenter enters the shot, sitting next to him on a low bench and asking him a number of local-reporter style questions: “Mr. Williamson, what is it, do you think, makes Westcountry writers different from the others?” “What influence has this countryside had on you?” Williamson is presented as an apolitical countryman, a figure whose spirit and insight into what Westcountry people understand of the natural world means that he speaks for and of them, particularly when he tells of the life of animals and the world of nature. Williamson discusses how his “supersensory” perception has helped him to write, how he resists thinking beforehand, letting the writing just write itself, and how he got to understand the feelings of otters—the subject of his most famous book—from observing them, from knowing the waters they live in, and from having a tame otter of his own. The presenter asks if there’s a contradiction for him between his war writing and his nature writing but, in this interview, on the eve of beginning the last novel in the sequence A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, Williamson says the two are part of the unity of his imaginings, and of how that novel will deal with one action, one scene. He says it will be “like Lear.” Williamson is not a man to view his own talent lightly, but neither is the interviewer wrong to see a contradiction between the two parts of

Williamson’s work. The continuum of natural and political belief is present in Williamson’s fifteen-novel sequence, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, which runs alongside his nature writing and in the last volume of which—the 1969 volume The Gale of the World21—the writer questions the justice of the Nuremberg trials and of Page 84 →the vilification of Hitler and Mosley, all through the eyes and voice of the central character of the sequence, Philip Maddison, a cipher for the author. By the time the book was written, Williamson was long separated from active politics of the kind that had led him, even during World War II, during which he came under suspicion as a spy, to paint the British Union of Fascists logo on the wall of his farmyard. However, the content of the 1969 volume indicates just how little he was prepared to leave the world of the political behind and to be considered, as Anne Williamson has it, as “not a fascist in the normally understood sense of the word.”22 Whatever the weight of this version of Williamson, she is right to illustrate that “fascists themselves”23 have found Williamson’s work useful. Indeed, The Gale of the World, his last novel, received an approving commentary in a 1997 edition of National Vanguard,24 the magazine of the American neo-Nazi group the National Alliance, formed around the leadership of the now dead William Pierce, author of the infamous Turner Diaries.25 While many fans of Williamson’s work promote an image of the author as a romantic nature artist with a temperament that led him into some eccentric views, it is difficult to avoid the traces of the extremist Williamson when his other fans are desperate to celebrate him as a progenitor of eugenic theories, racial discrimination, and “white power.”26 The approach taken by the presenter of the 1965 film suggests that a reappraisal of Williamson’s work had taken place by this point, one that classed the “war writing” as something difficult, tainting, and separate, while holding the nature writing as the pure Williamson. However, the sense of prejudice that taints this world is part of a longer continuum in Williamson’s writing. In his Tales From A Devon Village, Williamson digs into the social and natural orders of his immediate surroundings, the village of Georgeham in North Devon, to which he retreated with his wife and young child in the aftermath of World War I. The book was published by Faber and Faber in 1924, and it has the air of a journey into a world of folk tradition and behavior that had not yet been explored in literature, an English equivalent to J. M. Synge’s Irish account of the Aran Islands. In it, Williamson observes the strangeness, simplicity, and stupidity of the lives around him, the squabbles between haves and have-nots, between families and generations, between the farmer, the landowner, and the laborer, and he looks at the clash resulting when the modern world encroaches on the ancient. In one episode, Williamson comes across a farm laborer as he’s looking through the old implements and tools assembled in a barn. The laborer becomes the guide to the agricultural past, explaining the uses of various devices for thatching or threshing or flailing, the importance of an expensive oak floor on which to flail, and the needs of many locals to work instead on ash, making for harder, longer work that peoplePage 85 → “these days” would not be able to manage. It’s a picture of a world for the uninformed reader and at the same time a portrait of the good things of the rural setting—traditions, honesty, labor, the unity of worker and work that Williamson seems so much to envy—and of the problems, the fear of change and difference, the inability to adapt that is bound to lead to decay, even when so much is, as Williamson suggests to the man in the book, changed for the better. It roots a view of the world in a gathered, substantial tradition, one that values a settled social order and seems to reject modernism or a radical political project. Elsewhere in the book, Williamson watches a brawl burst out between two brothers, describing its slow burn, its ancient roots, and showing, in vividly captured language, the attitudes and anger of the two fighters. In “The Linhay on the Downs,” he describes his own collision with the natural world as he rescues a vixen from a gin trap and outwits the trapper who thought he had caught her. In all this, Williamson’s portraits of nature and the human order built upon it point to the bridges and joins between the two. In describing the local policeman, he contrasts his natural fit to his surroundings with the changing identity and attitude of an imagined immigrant to a city who might have joined the police service. Williamson compares the process to that of the salmon adjusting to the world of the river, except that, for Williamson, the adaptation of the immigrant to the city is necessarily a decay. Williamson describes it as a movement from “cop” to “slop.” For Williamson, the natural always underpins the human, and the social always follows on from the supposed laws and relationships of the

natural world. It is in this rejection of the urban as the decayed other of the rural that a link can be drawn between the conservatism of the values celebrated and the turn toward a political radicalism that leads to Williamson’s characterization by commentators as vanguardist. In Williamson’s literary work, the assigning of order and significance to the natural world as a critique of the ethical and moral order of the human provides naturalized images of forceful leadership. Williamson’s nature myths share a common political project with a body of naturalized inscriptions of essential orders and a quasimystical commitment to the eternal principles and patterns of nature that is consanguineous with a body of thinking across the European Far Right of the 1930s. His evocation of the rural world in his nature stories and in his novel sequence is the mystical underpinning for a dream of a naturalized political order—the cult of the leader and of the homeland. This inscription of naturalized hierarchy was played out as a political fantasy in Williamson’s desire for Lawrence to take on the vanguard role. The project for the realization of this desire in the imagined moment of Lawrence’s Page 86 →performance establishes a relationship between mythologies of the natural and the reactionary avant-garde’s embrace of the potential of performance to celebrate a nostalgic “return” to nature, while also modeling a potential set of authoritarian relationships built on and in its image. The process of ideological conclusion being drawn from apparently innocent, open observation is exemplified in Tales. One episode describes the author being faced with a belligerent visitor, a rag-and-bone man who, as the scene continues, is clearly registered as a Gypsy and with whom Williamson has an argument. It’s a comic scene, with Williamson as the put-upon writer hoping for peace and quiet and only telling the truth, which seems to offend his visitor. Later a young woman with a baby comes to the door and an altogether happier conversation follows, but it is undermined when we discover that she is the wife of the man, and that they have been planning an elaborate revenge. Here the story breaks down and the author steps in to explain the strange high comic style of the piece so far. He says that what he has written is the picturesque version of a reality, composed in response to various magazines rejecting his previous attempts at realistic accounts of village life. The explanation seems to account for some of the stereotyping of character in the story, but Williamson isn’t out to undercut the stereotype. Instead, he begins to discuss the reality on which the comedy was based. He describes the regular appearance in the country landscape of Gypsies with their intrusive and deceptive behaviors, trying to con the householder out of money. He goes on to discuss the more sinister visits of door-to-door salesmen from the city. There’s a comic parody of the difference between the country and the city, an archetypal conflict. But in Williamson’s version, the interlopers are not just involved in the economic activity of the city. They are Gypsies; their falsity and greed is a result of their ethnicity, and their ethnicity, while a part of the country scene, is an intrusion on its purity. At the same time, the door-to-door salesman is not just a city type. He is Jewish. The caricatures are broad, ethnic, and racial, and they are glued to Williamson’s vision of the order of nature as a vision of the order—and disorder—of human society. And while it might be tempting to see the writer as a figure exploited by those with agendas, it’s in these orderings that the Williamson worldview the National Vanguard is so keen to promote emerges.

Failed Transcendence Such a philosophy, built supposedly from observation of nature but also shot through with ideological projections, is developed in a series of books Page 87 →that makes Williamson a significant literary figure in 1930s Britain. It is in this space of celebrity that connections with other leading novelists, artists, and politicians develop and in which Williamson becomes a fellow-traveling fan of Hitlerism (along with a significant proportion of the rightleaning establishment of the day). After the demise of his projections for Lawrence, Williamson can be found seeking a similar immersion in the triumphalist rally at the July 1939 Earls Court meeting of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, an event to which he invites the war historian Liddell Hart by reference to a shared friendship with Lawrence. In a letter to Hart, Williamson claims that forty thousand or so will be there, and that the rally will, again, realize his vision of redemptive unity: “It may be that I suffer from illusions, but every experience in the Great War, every thought and feeling I have had since, every word I have struggled to write, finds its meaning and aspiration in the ideas and hopesВ .В .В . of British Union” and, in a postscript,

“T.E.S. would have come to this way of seeing things, I believe, had he lived.”27 The question of quite what was imaged and embodied in the BUF’s rally, as opposed to Williamson’s desired Lawrence of Arabia event, is instructive. The 1939 meeting, complete with standard bearers, raised dais, a triumphal spot-lit entry for the leader, the insignia and uniforms of a British Nazism, is claimed to have drawn thirty thousand people by websites devoted to Mosley, eleven thousand by those with a more dispassionate view. On the cusp of war, the rally could not be disguised as a peaceable affair, but rather it announced itself as the attempted continuation of a policy of anti-Semitic and authoritarian aping of the Nazi precedent, one that paid much service to the dressing and staging of the Nuremberg model, but which seems to have made a less than mystical impression on the wider audience of the day. As John Carey recounts in a Times review of a book dealing with Mosley: His rallies were plainly a cut-price version of Hitler’s vast theatrical parades. At the last of them in July 1939 at Earls Court, he entered to a trumpet fanfare and harangued the crowd from atop an enormous plinth like a beleaguered steeplejack.28 That the BUF had already lost any chance of being viewed as a benevolent force for regeneration—following earlier violence at rallies and around its attempts to foment unrest against Jewish communities in London’s East End—makes Williamson’s anticipation of this as the moment of the movement’s apotheosis seem thoroughly myopic by 1939. Theories of performance repeatedly negotiate its lack of fixity, its ephemerality,Page 88 → its disappearance. The idealization of the moment of the fascist vanguard’s realization, as in Williamson’s dream, embodies the opposite, modeling the impossible perfection of fascism in performance as a fixed quality. Here in Williamson’s imaginings, the performance is the delivery of the ideal, eternal, and transcendent, supposedly divorced from the mediocrity of the democratic life or the complexity and artifice of a human world that is not forged in a close bond with nature, its structures, constants, and necessities. At his imagined Albert Hall, Williamson sought to fuse a community and its archetypal representative into a transformative force. The reduced and less romanticized version of this dream in the tawdry collapse of the BUF to which Williamson later clung is reflected, like the modeling of Lindbergh in Roth’s imagined America, in posthumous attempts by those loyal to both figures to unravel their aesthetic and personal qualities from the “taint” of fascist association, as though Lindbergh and Williamson were naive and impetuous children whose brilliance rendered them unsuited for mixing with the complexities of the political world. As Roth’s fantasy suggests, the ascription of such naГЇvetГ©, such readiness to celebrate the authoritarian answer to complex circumstance, is itself naive, an insight made plain in the logic of Roth’s unfolding model of what might have happened to America, laid out through the slow stages of performative claim and act on the stage of American political life. Where Roth’s fantasy of fascism is of a plausible nightmare, never enacted, in which a figure steps onto an historical stage readied to receive him, Williamson’s is of a desired dream never realized (or even realizable) in which his actor remains forever poised in the wings, ready to take a stage—albeit one prepared and readied only in his own overheating imagination. Whichever, the dangers inherent in the proselytizing of both figures remain part of the rhetoric of a right-wing vanguard, however unrealized they may have been.

Performative Failure and the UK Far Right In the context of fascist and other right-wing impulses in the UK, the fate of this kind of vanguardism is to see its idealized forms clash with and fail to map onto surrounding realities and to see moments like Moseley’s steeplejack performance return as the precursor of a disastrous decline. Since the moment of the BUF, a series of movements have attempted to take a similar vanguard role in British politics, with a similar trajectory of emergence, accelerated growth, and fragmentation, often through factionalism, equally often through the contradictions inherent in a politics built on discriminationPage 89 → and idealization. The League of Empire Loyalists, the National Front, and the British National Party have all emerged to claim some kind of popular support or to take a position in local councils, in regional authorities, and most recently, in the case of the BNP, as members of the European Parliament in the proportional representation. They have also all found the moment of

their apparent realization to be the moment of their disintegration—the most recent example being the BNP’s appearance on national television during the 2008 UK general election that led to near annihilation at the polls. The most recent incarnation in UK politics is the emergence of the English Defence League in 2009, an organization that claims to exist as an opposition to “radical Islam” and has emerged from an alliance of groups on the extrapolitical margins, in particular groups engaged in football and street violence. The organization emerged in the Midlands city of Luton, an area with a large Islamic population, and the town at which whose railway station the Yorkshire-based 7/7 bombers gathered to begin their trip to London and the detonation of their bombs. The tactic embraced by the EDL is to demonstrate in the center of cities with considerable ethnic minority populations and to encourage confrontation with those communities, the police, and left-wing counterdemonstrations. The claim that the organization represents a body of sympathizers who are marginalized by current political discourse is borne out in the collision between them and the groups of those they are opposed to, whoever those might be. The moment of self-realization sought is in the performative engagement with the street demonstration and violence. For the EDL, developing from a local network of groups involved in football violence from Luton, the Luton MIGS, the moment of realization came in a series of demonstrations, supposedly rooted in counterprotests against Islamic fundamentalism. The rhetoric of nationalism is couched in an inclusive garb, but the space in which the EDL finds a realization is in the demonstration and its escalation into violence. Its founder and spokesman, Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, has a conviction for football-related violence.29 To the extent that the organization has an imaginary, it seems to exist in masculinist fantasies of aggression and extreme nationalism. However, it had clearly learned from its predecessors as the dominant force of the English Far Right, the British National Party, the value of presenting a less aggressive and rebarbative face, even before the extraordinary horror of the massacres perpetuated by Norwegian Nazi Anders Brevik brought it into the further into the spotlight, as a result of Brevik’s claims of declarations of association and sympathy with the EDL. Often the British or English Far Right’s embrace of idealized models of Page 90 →progress toward their particular nirvana has collided with the need to embrace democratic political activity at whatever entryist level they require. In the case of the EDL, the Brevik moment seems to have precipitated the crisis rather more urgently than they had intended. A recent EDL plan for a demonstration in the Midlands city of Leicester made clear that it doesn’t welcome members of neo-Nazi and avowedly fascist organizations, stating: “The far-right give the word “nationalist” a bad name and by confusing patriotism with their own extremist politics, be it racial segregation, neo-Nazism or white supremacism—they undermine our efforts.”30 This particular notice, directed apparently at members of Combat 18, Blood and Honour, National Front, and Stormfront—all avowedly far-right or neo-Nazi organizations—indicates some complex contradictions in the League’s own thinking. The notice presents a reasoned suggestion that a nationalist demo organized without the EDL’s imprimatur will muddy the ideological waters by claiming to oppose multiculturalism, immigration, and an “Islamic invasion,” stating that none of these policies is supported by the League. Indeed, the notice suggests explicitly that the EDL does not have a racist agenda, that “thousands of people who could be described as coming from a minority ethnic or religious background have integrated seamlessly into Britain” and that, as long as they “subscribe to a common set of values—values that make this country what it is—then you’re as English as anyone else.” The rhetoric requires little deconstruction to illustrate its ideological and ethical confusions, but it is clear that the organization’s self-representation as a moderate nationalist force is undermined by the militancy of its self-presentation, its relationship with football violence and hooligan groups, its adoption of quasi-military stylings and terms—including membership through divisions, a military-style crest, and a titling that draws attention to its role as a self-appointed militia. Brevik’s appearance on EDL noticeboards had a noticeably chilling impact on the group’s ability to present itself as a politically coherent and reasonable organization, and its performance of self seemed to be increasingly prone to the semicomic disintegration its predecessors suffered. Even in the moments of visibility that public events have sometimes provided for them, the sense of a vanguardist movement being undermined by performative failure has been strong. An attempt to realize their agenda—to

stage an event both actual and symbolic—by attacking the protestors’ camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday 2011 ended with all 180 of the group being arrested. And in the aftermath of the killing of a serving soldier, Lee Rigby, outside a London barracks in mid-2013, the EDL sought to orchestrate a number of protest events that also shared a sense of performative bathos. While a scattered series of assaults and cases of arson against Page 91 →mosques indicated that there is a constituency ready to resort to violence in the shadow of the EDL’s campaigns and rhetoric, perhaps the most characteristic example of the League’s influence is the rally of EDL protestors outside a mosque in York, which was greeted by the building’s patrons with cups of tea and a game of football—a move that apparently left the protestors both charmed and ideologically challenged.31

Conclusion Henry Williamson’s dream of appropriating T. E. Lawrence as his catalyst hero illustrates a recurrent feature of the idealization of vanguard moments in the history of far-right and fascist movements in the UK. In imagining a performative enactment of his vision, Williamson pictured a desired, perfected realization of his worldview, one made all the more flawless because it remained an impossible dream in the aftermath of Lawrence’s death. The nostalgic representation of the plan for an Albert Hall rally in his posthumous writings to Lawrence indicates how important the myth of what might have been was to Williamson. As right-wing movements have emerged subsequently in the UK, the model of the vanguard seeking realization through a performative enactment, whether BUF rally or EDL street-battle, has been characterized by their sense of the potential for progress. It has led such movements to frequently latch onto potential watershed moments of self-realization, performances that might somehow tip them into power or potency. The picture of idealized vanguard performance in fact falling into disastrous, misstaged failure—whether that be Mosley as absurd steeplejack or the EDL as hapless pub-thugs—indicates that the fascist model of idealized event, action, and immersion has thus far rarely found performative coherence in the UK. Such instructive failure suggests that the far-right fascination with images and performances that seek to represent political transcendence is a double-edged sword—open to exploitation in a totalitarian environment where circulation of such images is controlled, open to subversive exploitation by those who stand in ideological opposition where that environment is more open to contest. The image projected by Williamson’s fantasy stands as a fascinating indication of the potential failings of vanguard activism and indicates how central to fascism dreams of transcendence remain, no matter how stubbornly and inconveniently earthbound and unideal the “hero,” the body of “brothers,” the writerideologue, and the street-activist may turn out to be. Page 92 →

Notes 1.Henry Williamson, Genius of Friendship (London: Faber, 1941), 75. 2.Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004). 3.Roth, The Plot Against America, 15. 4.Emilio Gentile, “The Myth of National Regeneration: From Modernist Avant-Garde to Fascism,” in Fascist Visions: Art and Ideology in France and Italy, ed. Matthew Affron and Mark Antliff (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 26. 5.Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter (London: Faber and Faber, 1927). 6.Henry Williamson, The Gale of the World (London: MacDonald, 1969). 7.Williamson, Genius of Friendship, 75. 8.Unity Mitford was as loyal a British admirer of Hitler as could be found, apparently attempting to commit suicide when he told her she should return to Britain pending the outbreak of war. Diana was later to marry Oswald Mosley. Also in attendance at the rally were British journalist and Nazi propagandist John Heygate, a friend of Williamson’s who had prompted his visit and was then working for the regime’s UFA film studios, and Frank Buchman, the American founder of Moral Rearmament. 9.Anne Williamson, “Epilogue, 1935–39,” in T. E. Lawrence: Letters, ed. Jeremy Wilson, vol. 9,

Correspondence with Henry Williamson (Fordingbridge: Castle Hill Press, 2000), 183. 10.Henry Williamson, Goodbye West Country (London: Faber, 1938), 236. 11.Williamson, Goodbye West Country, 237. 12.Williamson, Genius of Friendship, 29. 13.Williamson, Genius of Friendship, 29. 14.Williamson, Genius of Friendship, 60. 15.Williamson, Genius of Friendship, 59. 16.For an example, see Rodney Legg, Lawrence in Dorset, 2nd ed. (Wincanton: Dorset, 1997). Pages 85–86 deal with Williamson and suggestions that his letter to Lawrence had disappeared after the accident. 17.T. E. Lawrence (1935), reprinted in Williamson, Genius of Friendship. 18.The letter from Williamson that prompted Lawrence’s reply in fact makes no mention of a rally, of the Albert Hall, or of Lawrence’s dictatorial potential, and Lawrence’s response appears to be a token attempt to discharge a long-avoided social obligation. 19.Anne Williamson, Henry Williamson: Tarka and the Last Romantic (Stroud: Sutton, 1995), 195. 20.Currently available at /8475989.stm. 21.Williamson, Gale of the World. 22.Williamson, Henry Williamson, 195. 23.Williamson, Henry Williamson, 196. 24.Mark Deavin, “Henry Williamson, Nature’s Visionary,” National Vanguard 117 (1997): 17–20. 25.Andrew MacDonald, pseud. William Pierce, The Turner Diaries (Hillsboro, WV: National Vanguard Books, 1978). 26.For an example of Williamson revered as articulator of far-right values, see his presence on the deeply disturbing “Counter-Currents” website, Page 93 → 27.Williamson, “Epilogue, 1935–39,” 184–185. 28.John Carey, review of Hurray for the Blackshirts: Fascists and Fascisms in Britain between the Wars, by Martin Pugh, Times, March 6, 2005, accessed TimesOnline archive, at /sto/culture/books/article100298.ece, accessed July 17, 2013. 29. 30., accessed July 17, 2013. 31.Ann Czernik, “York Mosque Counters EDL Protest with Tea, Biscuits and Football,” Guardian, May 27, 2013, accessed July 17, 2013, at

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Mishima’s Balcony Performance Hypermasculinity, Masochism, and Reactionary Vanguardism Kara Reilly On November 25, 1970, the forty-five-year-old Yukio Mishima, along with four members of his paramilitary group, the Tatenokai militia (the Shield Society), attempted a coup d’état in the name of restoring imperial Japan’s ideals and military power. When he failed, Mishima committed seppuku, the elaborate samurai ritual of disembowelment. Mishima’s carefully designed suicide—what Herbert Blau would call “an extremity of performance”1—was a vanguard performance that climaxed in death. In the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus writes that suicide is “planned within the silence of the heart, as is a great work of art,”2 and Mishima’s suicide conforms to this image of long, silent planning. Biographer Henry Scott-Stokes argues that “throughout his life, Mishima constantly rehearsed his own death.”3 Mishima was a prolific avant-garde author who wrote thirty-five novels, two hundred short stories, and eight volumes of essays. He was also a major playwright, with sixty-two works for stage and screen in various genres, including shingeki (Western-style psychological realism), Kabuki, Noh, melodrama, and kyōgen.4 However, despite his major literary output, Mishima’s ultimate masterpiece was his own identity or “mask,” and his final performance was his own suicide. Mishima’s sepukku was a vanguard performance of virility designed to make a reactionary public statement of resistance to the increasingly westernized, materialistic Japan.

Reactionary Coup d’État On November 25, 1970, after hearing of Mishima’s failed ShЕЌwa Restoration—an attempt by a small group of people to forcibly reinstate the Page 95 →emperor—the Japanese prime minister, Mr. Eisaku Sato, made a public statement that “he [Mishima] must have been kichigai,” or out of his mind.5 But nothing could be further from the truth. Mishima’s lifelong obsession with the aesthetics of sex and death, combined with his fascination with the samurai, led directly to his attempted coup d’état and seppuku. As Mishima was fond of pointing out, suicide can be seen as a moral victory in Japan (thus it has different cultural connotations than it does in Western Judeo-Christian culture.)6 Far from an act of madness, Mishima’s ritual suicide was a calculated choice, his final reactionary vanguard performance that he had spent years rehearsing. On the day of the coup, Mishima had an appointment at the Ichigaya base in the center of Tokyo to meet General Mashita. He brought four members of his Tatenokai group with him: Chibi-koga, Furu-koga, Ogawa, and his lieutenant, Masakatsu Mori. Mishima founded the Tatenokai militia, his small private army, in 1968; it was composed of one hundred members, most of whom were students from Waseda University. Mishima paid for the soldiers’ rigorous physical training and uniforms out of his own pocket. The militia was completely voluntary with an emphasis on outdoor activities (similar to the Boy Scouts), except that they also engaged in rigorous physical training, such as kendo and long-distance running. Leftists joked that the Shield Society members were Mishima’s toy soldiers, but, after the failed coup, no one dared say they were merely playing. Mishima’s ultimate goal was to revive Bushido, the traditional militaristic code of ethics and responsibility central to samurai spirit. He wanted to restore the divine status of the emperor. Mishima was a reactionary: he idealized the mythical past, celebrating a backward-looking utopia. Mishima’s motives for a ShЕЌwa Restoration can be found in his immediate cultural milieu. After being defeated by the Allied forces in World War II, Japan experienced an acute identity crisis. For Mishima, the outcome of losing the war, combined with the increasing westernization of Japan, meant a distinct loss of Japanese identity. Under the terms of the 1947 “Peace Constitution,” the emperor was forced to declare himself a mortal man. Mishima was outraged at the emperor’s renunciation of his status as a deity. The emperor had been considered divine—a direct flesh-and-blood descendant of the sun goddess, Amaterasu ЕЊmikami. When the goddess conferred divine status on the emperor, she also blessed Japan and made the land

sacred.7 Now in photographs the towering General MacArthur dwarfed a tiny plain-clothed emperor, just as America’s foreign policy dominated Japan. As Roland Barthes writes about a fictive Japan in his Empire of Signs (1970), the urban trajectory of Tokyo revolved around an Imperial Palace that no longer Page 96 →possessed any real power, just providing a structure to the city with its “central emptiness.”8 The drive toward modernization and consumerism by the ubiquitous American army led many artists to attempt to uncover a mythic, authentic national identity by reconstructing an idealized vision of premodern Japan. As Carol Martin explains: After World War II, the subject of modernization got entangled, sometimes in reactionary ways, with how to restore “Japaneseness” to Japanese aesthetics.В .В .В . This project was undertaken against the background of Japan having been both an extreme aggressor and a victim in the war: the “rape of Nanjing” and “comfort women” stood in contrast to the fire bombings of Tokyo and the mushroom clouds rising over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.9 In other words, the trauma of the war left Japanese people’s sense of identity reeling. In an effort to establish a sense of identity, some artists turned to a mythic prelapsarian past, a traditionalist idyll of feudal Japan. Mishima himself felt powerless and retreated to his books and scholarship, increasingly engaged with the nihilistic Nihon Roman-ha (Japanese romanticism) that had been highly influential in his teenage years. However, after the renewal of the security treaty between Japan and the United States of America (AMPO) in 1960, his work became increasingly political. Mishima believed that the reduction of the military’s powers was a serious threat to traditional Japanese values in a postwar Japan dominated by Western consumerism. From 1960 until his suicide in 1970, Mishima’s work was nationalistic. In particular, his short story “Patriotism” (1960) and his subsequent film Patriotism (1966) articulate his vision of a Japan dedicated to a divine emperor and the order and responsibility central to samurai spirit. Mishima felt sure that the classical, perhaps mythical, romantic Japan had been ruined by the excesses of Western postwar economic prosperity. Mishima publicly disparaged the fact that Emperor Hirohito abdicated his position as a divine being. In Voices of the Heroic Dead (1966), he lamented: Brave soldiers died because a god has commanded them to go to war; and not six months after so fierce a battle had stopped instantly because a god declared the fighting at an end, His Majesty announced, “Verily, we are a mortal man.” Scarcely a year after we had fired ourselves like bullets at an enemy ship for our Emperor who was a god! .В .В .В Why did the Emperor become a man?10 Page 97 →For Mishima, the emperor’s renunciation of his divine status meant the end of Japanese culture. But the “we” Mishima refers to in the above quotation—that “we” who “had fired ourselves like bullets at an enemy ship”—was not a “we” that actually existed, since Mishima never served in the imperial forces during World War II. His glorification of the military was not based on his own personal experience of life during wartime, but instead on ideas garnered from the samurai ethos. Mishima was sixteen at the start of the war. He managed to avoid active military service when a doctor misdiagnosed his fever and cold as incipient tuberculosis after Mishima lied about his symptoms. In Confessions of a Mask, he berates himself for lying to the army doctor: Why had I looked so frank as I lied to the army doctor? Why had I said that I’d been having a slight fever for over half a year? That my shoulder was painfully stiff? That I spit blood. And even last night I had been soaked by a night sweat. Why had I run so when I was through the barracks gate?11 Mishima bemoaned lying to the doctor and was guilt-ridden for not entering active military service for the rest of his life. It is unlikely that if he had served in the military, he could have glorified it to the extent that he did. Arguably his attempted coup d’état and his transformation into a virile warrior represent his struggle to atone for his weakness in lying to the doctor as a young man.

On the morning of the coup, November 25, 1970, Mishima delivered letters to three members of his Tatenokai Society. He gave these men—Chibi-koga, Furu-koga, and Ogawa—explicit instructions not to commit suicide and to ensure that General Mashita stayed alive. Mishima was even more precise about how they were to act at their trial. He asked them to explicate the values of the Tatenokai, to follow the slogan HЕЌkoku Nippon (“The Imperial Reconstruction of Japan”), a wartime, imperialist slogan. Additionally, Mishima gave each young man about $120 (three ten-thousand-yen notes) to cover legal expenses.12 Mishima’s anticipation of their eventual trial demonstrates that he never harbored any delusions that his coup d’état would be successful. Instead, the coup d’état and Mishima’s suicide were performances of virility designed to make a public statement of resistance to the increasingly westernized, materialistic Japan. After their arrival at the Ichigaya garrison, Mishima and the representatives of the Shield Society were brought into General Mashita’s office, Room 210. After some pleasant chit-chat about the samurai sword Mishima was Page 98 →carrying, known as the Seki no Magoruku,13 the men surprised a relaxed General Mashita by gagging him with a towel, tying him with rope to his chair, and then barricading the door. Unknown to Mishima, there was a peephole in General Mashita’s office, and when Major Sawamoto prepared to bring them all ocha, or green tea, he saw that the general was bound and gagged. On two separate occasions, members of the Jietai stormed the general’s office and attempted to free him, but Mishima attacked them with his sword, spilling blood and threatening to execute the general. Finally, the general’s men asked for the author’s demands. Mishima specified that all the soldiers at the Ichigaya garrison were to gather in front of the building by midday, where he would speak on the balcony outside the general’s office. The Jietai were instructed to summon the forty members of the Tatenokai for the speech, who were waiting nearby at Ichigaya hall (ironically, his men refused to come because they failed to understand that the order came from Mishima). Mishima stipulated that there were to be no interruptions to his balcony speech and the audience was to be silent. Afterward, Mishima ordered a ninety-minute truce between the Tatenokai and the Jietai. If the truce was observed, Mishima would free General Mashita; if not, the general would die and Mishima would kill himself.14 At noon, Mishima went out to the balcony and climbed on top of the parapet. His colleagues unfurled white cotton banners detailing the terms necessary for the general’s safety and tossed papers with Mishima’s gekibun (manifesto) over the parade ground. Mishima stood on the parapet of the Ichigaya garrison balcony addressing the soldiers below, pleading with them to rebel against the constitutional curtailment of the military. Dressed in his khaki uniform, wearing a headband bearing an ancient samurai motto, shichishЕЌ hЕЌkoku (“serve the nation for seven lives”), Mishima performatively embodied the warrior ethos of the samurai. Because the Jietai had called the police shortly after agreeing to Mishima’s demands, the press was present for the coup, which is well documented in photographs and on film. Video footage taken from a helicopter shows Mishima with arms akimbo, commanding and resolute. Throughout his speech to the Jietai, he exhorts his audience to “return Japan to her true form” by becoming an imperial army; for “the real Japan, the real Japanese, the real bushД« (warrior) exists nowhere else but in the Self Defense Forces.” Mishima declaimed: What kind of an army is it that has no value higher than life? Right now we will show you that there is a value higher than reverence for life. It is neither freedom nor democracy. It is Japan. Japan, the country whose history and traditions we love. Is there no one here who will Page 99 →die by hurling his body against the [peace] constitution which has mutilated her? If there is, let us rise together even now, and let us die together. It is in the fervent hope that we who are pure in spirit will once again be men and true bushД« that we have resorted to this act.15 But despite the rousing nationalistic rhetoric of his speech, the crowd was unmoved. They shouted, jeered, and heckled him throughout his speech.16 A defeated Mishima withdrew into the commandant’s room, where both he and his lieutenant, the twenty-one-year-old Masakatsu Morita, committed seppuku.17 Mishima plunged the dagger into his stomach, tearing it open, after which Morita tried to sever his lover’s head with an antique sword. Morita was very nervous and unsuccessfully tried to get the sword through Mishima’s neck twice; finally, Furu-koga, who had experience in kendo, actually accomplished the decapitation on the third attempt. Morita then plunged the dagger into his stomach, ordering Furu-koga to decapitate him too. The remaining three Tatenokai soldiers reverently placed Mishima and Morita’s heads next to one another. They cried and

murmured the Buddhist prayer for the dead: Namu Amida Butsu. The lovers’ double suicide made international news, with over ten thousand people attending Mishima’s funeral (the largest of its kind ever held in Japan).18 Some young men even killed themselves in imitation, just like those disaffected youth a century before suffering from the “Werther effect.” Mishima’s warrior suicide was seen as the ultimate heroic death.

Vanguard Beginnings: Gender Trouble Mishima’s entire life was geared toward his romantic vision of a virile and elegant death by seppuku. As early as 1943, at age eighteen, Mishima began to “consciously define his destiny as the attainment of a beautiful death.”19 Mishima stated: Among my incurable convictions is the belief that the old are eternally ugly, the young eternally beautiful. The wisdom of the old is eternally murky, the actions of the young eternally transparent. The longer people live, the worse they become. Human life, in other words, is an upside down process of decline and fall.20 Mishima’s youth-worshipping philosophy fits well with the best-known line of the Hagakure, the teachings of the samurai-turned-priest JЕЌcho Yamamato Page 100 →(1659–1719): “I have discovered the Way of the Samurai is death.”21 In analytical remarks on the Hagakure, Mishima emphasized the key role that these teachings played in his own development during and after the war, and in particular his critique of the sumptuous decadence of JЕЌcho’s seventeenth-century contemporaries, which Mishima felt had a distinct parallel with his own time period.22 Mishima openly embraced the samurai ethos. While Mishima’s death appears to be that of a soldier, the idea of dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse also self-consciously participates in the vanguard tradition. Mishima opens his analysis of Hagakure with a discussion of Raymond Radiguet’s novel Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel, calling it a masterpiece of French literature. However, he explains that the main reason he was drawn to the genius of Radiguet was simply that he was jealous that Radiguet died at the tender age of twenty, leaving the world a magnum opus. Mishima writes: “I who was almost certainly destined to go to away and die equally young in battle, superimposed my own image on his. Somehow he became my personal rival and his literary achievement a landmark to be reached before I died.”23 Mishima locates himself between the historical European avant-garde and the radically conservative military tradition of the samurai. In an extraordinary linkage of the military connotations of “avant-garde” with samurai tradition, Mishima literally imagines his legacy in the avant-garde through both Japanese history and the ritual of suicide. Commenting on the anxiety of influence, the author positions himself against Radiguet in the contest to be the most remembered enfant terrible, with a youthful, ennobling death. Mishima’s interest in the European avant-garde favors its dark side. He wrote an essay entitled “Kabuki: The Flower of Evil,” explicitly referencing Baudelaire. His works evince direct linkages to satanism of Baudelaire’s type. And Mishima shows an abiding interest in figures like FranГ§ois Mauriac, Jean Cocteau, and the Marquis de Sade (after whom he named a play).24 Mishima’s fascination with power, particularly with “death and night and blood,” is a key theme throughout his debut semiautobiographical novel Confessions of a Mask (1948). Published when he was just twenty-six, Confessions is the coming-of-age story of a young man who discovers he is gay and hides behind various masks of identity that he creates to survive in the world. While Confessions is an “I novel” and not a memoir, it is a loosely veiled autobiography that invites the reader to see the protagonist as Mishima and lends insight into his fascination with death. It also encourages readers to interpret the character as Mishima’s selfstyled persona as queer outsider. Mishima was a sickly child, subject to fits of melancholy and illness. His childhood was dominated by his aristocratic and paternal Page 101 →grandmother, Natsu Nogai. Natsu’s only son, Azua, married Shizue Hachi, and she gave birth to her first son, Kimitake Hiraoka, Mishima’s birth name, on January 14, 1925. Natsu took Kimitake away from his mother and moved him into her sickroom when he was barely two months old. “And there she held him prisoner until he was twelve, jealously, fiercely, hysterically guarding him against his parents and the outside world.”25 Natsu suffered from a chronic case of

cranial neuralgia or syphilis, and Mishima became both her nurse and confidant. Natsu hated her husband, Mishima’s grandfather JЕЌtarЕЌ, partly because he was a failure in business and partly because he had given her syphilis.26 She was also disappointed with her son, Mishima’s father, a government administrator, since she felt he had not lived up to his potential. Natsu was determined that Kimitake would achieve tremendous success and bring glory to her family name. As a result, she controlled every aspect of Kimitake’s life, including precisely when he would be breast-fed by his mother Shinsuke. Natsu also insisted that Kimitake act as her nurse, dispense her medicine, and even accompany her to the toilet when her neuralgia was complicated by stomach ulcers and a kidney disease. “Sometimes her pain was so extreme that she would tear her hair and scream for Kimitake’s comfort.”27 These early experiences were formative and traumatic for Mishima. His grandmother was brilliant, selfish, cultured, and unstable. Her “grandfather was a daimyo (lord of a fief) related by marriage to the Tokugawa,” the ruling family of Japan from about 1600 to 1868.28 Intellectually, Mishima was proud of his elite samurai heritage, but his body seemed far removed from this samurai ideal, since he was small in stature, at a mere five foot one. He felt tiny and weak throughout his entire adult life until he took up bodybuilding in 1952 at age twenty-seven. Understanding Mishima’s transformation of his body via bodybuilding is critical to comprehending his eventual suicide and coup d’état. Mishima’s lover, the famous entertainer and drag queen Akihiro Miwa, describes how she was dancing with Mishima in a gay club in Shinjuku before he took up bodybuilding. Miwa teased Mishima, asking him: “Where are you? I can’t find you, you’re so small. All I can feel is the padding.”29 Mishima lost his temper and stormed out of the club. At that moment, Miwa realized how sensitive he was about his fragile body and that these feelings were his greatest weakness. Shortly after that encounter in the nightclub, Mishima began his bodybuilding. Miwa explained: “From then until his death he understood the disgrace an ugly body brings its owner. A death by hara-kiri lacks honor if the body is old and ugly; then the sight of it seems indecent. His preparation for death began with the preparation of his body.”30 Miwa discernsPage 102 → that Mishima’s transformation of his body stemmed from his long-term desire to commit suicide. His hypermasculine body was one of a number of masks Mishima cultivated throughout his life. But long before Mishima began bodybuilding, he was developing various masks of gender identity. In Confessions, he describes playing dress-up as the female magician ShЕЌkyokusai Tenkatsu, wearing flashy bracelets with artificial stones and a coating of white powder over her entire body.31 This performance of femininity gave Mishima great pleasure. He describes stealing his mother’s most vibrant kimono and cheerfully painting himself from head to toe with white powder and lipstick. Mishima then attempted to mimic Tenkatsu, assuming a solemn air before running into his grandmother’s sitting room, laughing and shouting in a frenzied delight: “вЂI’m Tenkatsu. Me, I’m Tenkatsu! .В .В .В My frenzy was focused upon the consciousness that, through my impersonation, Tenkatsu was being revealed to many eyes.”32 However, Mishima’s hyperbolic delight was met with distinct horror from his mother and grandmother. His mother turned pale and looked away from him, and he had the sudden revelation of how grotesque he seemed to them.33 The traumatic lesson of the taboo of cross-dressing, and his grotesque isolation in discovering that his pleasure would only ever be received by his family with horror, haunted the boy. Upon further reflection, Mishima discerned that it was this moment of rejection that led to his own incapacity to love in later life. Mishima explains that, following his performance as Tenkatsu, he wanted to engage in further gender transgressions, becoming obsessed with dressing up as Cleopatra and “taking delight in my misconduct.”34 If, as Judith Butler proposes, all gender is a performance learned through repetition and reiteration, then it was here in his performance as Tenkatsu that Mishima learned the hegemonic lesson of heteronormative gender roles: playing femininity was a taboo performance for him.35 As Butler suggests in “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” (1988), gender is not a stable identity: It is an identity tenuously constituted in time—an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Further, gender is instituted through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute

the illusion of an abiding gendered self.36

Page 103 →The young Mishima delighted in trying on female glamour and re-creating his vision of Tenkatsu on his own body; he engaged with her image in his mind and then through a stylized repetition of acts written upon the body. Mishima is innocently attempting to performatively embody Tenkatsu. He is trying to get into the act. As Butler writes: The act that one does, the act that one performs, is, in a sense, an act that has been going on before one arrived on the scene. Hence, gender is an act which has been rehearsed, much as a script survives the particular actors who make use of it, but which requires individual actors in order to be actualized and reproduced as reality once again.37 But Mishima quickly learned from his mother’s and grandmother’s reactions to his performance that he had “failed” to perform his gender appropriately. Although Mishima’s close friendship with Nakamura Utaemon, the well-known onnagata (the male actor in Kabuki that plays female roles), as well as his short story “Onnagata” (1957), suggests that he remained fascinated with female impersonators throughout his adult life, he learned to “correctly” perform his gender by putting on a new mask of identity and studying virile heroic men.

Masculinity and Violence Rather than continue his flirtation with transvestism, Mishima began a different reluctant masquerade of acting like a boy.38 Forbidden from engaging with femininity, Mishima instead opted for a different sort of drag, an “unwilling masquerade that made me say: вЂLet’s play war.’”39 Mishima explains how valiant, virile supermen dominated his imagination: Visions of “princes slain” pursued me tenaciously. Who could have explained for me why I was so delighted with fancies in which those body-revealing tights worn by the princes were associated with their cruel deaths?40 He writes about fairy tale princes who met with violent, beautiful deaths, and “delighted in imagining situations in which I myself was dying in battle or being murdered.”41 His youthful war games always climaxed with him acting out his fantasy of lying dead on the battlefield: “I was enraptured with the Page 104 →vision of my own form lying there, twisted and fallen. There was an unspeakable delight in having been shot and being on the point of death.”42 Mishima’s performative enactment of ideal masculinity always culminated in death. In Confessions, he describes his unquenchable thirst for bloody images, including “samurai cutting open their bellies, or of soldiers struck by bullets, clenching their teeth and dripping bloodВ .В .В . photographs of hard-muscled sumo wrestlers of the third rank, and not yet grown too fat.43 His longing for slain princes was only reinforced when he was finally considered old enough to see Kabuki theater with his grandmother, Natsu. The first play she took him to was the ChЕ«shingara, the classic bloody dramatization of the forty-seven samurai who committed hara-kiri in order to avenge their master. Thereafter, Mishima regularly attended the theater, seeing both Noh and Kabuki plays. In Confessions, Mishima tells the story of his first erotic experience that distinctly conflates sex and death. While paging through one of his father’s art history volumes, the boy sees Italian baroque artist Guido Reni’s oil painting of the martyr Saint Sebastian. The beautiful Saint Sebastian looks heavenward, his hands are bound above him by ropes, and he is tied to a tree. His right abdomen and his left armpit are penetrated by arrows, but Saint Sebastian’s face looks distinctly serene. Mishima describes Saint Sebastian: His white and matchless nudity gleams against a background of dusk. His muscular arms, the arms of a praetorian guard accustomed to bending of bow and wielding of sword, are raised at a graceful angle.В .В .В . Were it not for the arrows with their shafts deeply sunk in his left armpit and right side, he would seem more a Roman athlete resting from fatigue, leaning against a dusky tree in a


The painting of Saint Sebastian excited the boy: “My entire being was seized with pagan raptureВ .В .В . my organ was engorged with wrathful color. About to burst, my gargantuan member awaited its use with an arousal never felt before.”45 Mishima’s first experience of masturbation and ejaculation occurred while pondering a beautiful death via Saint Sebastian’s image. Mishima was well aware of the meaning of this attraction, and he even comments on the connection between images of Saint Sebastian and queer identity. It is an interesting coincidence that Hirschfeld should place “pictures of Saint Sebastian” in the first rank of those kinds of art works in Page 105 →which the invert takes special delight. This observation of Hirschfeld’s leads easily to the conjecture that in the overwhelming majority of cases of inversion, especially of congenital inversion, the inverted and the sadistic impulses are inextricably entangled with one another.46 Here we see Mishima’s self-awareness that his desire for Saint Sebastian is motivated by a sadomasochistic impulse. As Jerry S. Piven suggests in The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima: Death commingled with orgasm is essential to Mishima’s eroticism and fiction. Death is sexually exciting, and sexuality requires death to achieve its orgasmic apexВ .В .В . just as in the onanistic gratification of watching Saint Sebastian die from bleeding wounds in Confessions, imagining the death of an object brings the voyeur to orgasm.47 Mishima’s scopophilia, or his pleasure in looking, culminated not only in the external erotic desire for Saint Sebastian as an Other, but transformed into his personal vision for his ideal sense of self—his goal for his own masquerade of masculine gender. At the level of fantasy, Mishima’s queer gaze splits: he wants to sexually possess Saint Sebastian, the object of his gaze, but at the same time, he wants to be Saint Sebastian, and presumably, to evoke desire in other men who would look at him with sexual hunger if he did indeed look like Saint Sebastian. Mishima’s scopophilia transforms into powerful queer erotic; this eroticism can only climax in the ultimate climax of the pleasure principle: the death drive. To transform his fantasy of a beautiful death into reality, as previously mentioned, Mishima took up a rigorous fitness program in 1952 at age twenty-seven that included weight lifting, boxing, and swimming; by 1955 he was putting himself through three demanding workouts a week, and until 1970 Mishima was “virtually obsessed with physical exercise. Over this period, he transformed himself from frail weakling to a muscular bodybuilder.”48 In Sun and Steel, Mishima explains how his training regime was specifically geared toward creating the perfect body for an ideal death: I cherished a romantic impulse toward death, yet at the same time I required a strictly classical body as its vehicle; a peculiar sense of destiny made me believe that the reason why my romantic impulse toward death remained unfulfilled in reality was the immensely simple fact that I lacked the necessary physical qualifications.49 Page 106 →Mishima undertakes this training only to achieve a romantic death: “A powerful, tragic frame and sculpturesque muscles were indispensable in a romantically noble death. Any confrontation between weak, flabby flesh and death seemed to me absurdly inappropriate.В .В .В . I lacked, in short, the muscles suitable for a dramatic death. And it deeply offended my romantic pride that it should be this unsuitability that had permitted me to survive the war.”50 As previously discussed, Mishima never saw active duty in World War II, because he encouraged the doctor into a misdiagnosis, elaborating on his symptoms and allowing the doctor to believe the rattling in his chest was indicative of tuberculosis. Haunted by this lie and feeling guilty about it for the rest of his life, Mishima took up

bodybuilding as an attempt to atone for both the lie and his failure to serve in the army. When Mishima finally attained his own personal vision of physical perfection through bodybuilding, he commissioned photographer Kishin Shinoyama to take a series of portraits of him entitled “Death of Man” so that his virility could be recorded. In a documentary on Mishima, Shinoyama observed the degree to which Mishima was capable of manipulating him, as photographer, into doing precisely what he wanted: It seems to me that I was well and truly used by Mishima.В .В .В . Mr. Mishima was quite willing to be photographed naked, but he was rarely photographed full-figure. It was because the lower half of the body is more difficult to develop than the upper half. So when he was photographedВ .В .В . as in his motorcycle pictures where his legs can be seen, he was very careful to be taken from a low angle so that the legs would look more impressive. Here Shinoyama describes Mishima as a master of ceremonies, the exhibitionist who knows precisely how he wants to be seen in the photograph. Mishima might be the object of the gaze, but he is also the subject, able to control exactly how he wants to be framed. Shinoyama also discusses the important photograph of Mishima posed as Saint Sebastian, his muscles gleaming with oil and his white loincloth juxtaposed against a black tree. While Reni’s Saint Sebastian has look of martyred peace on his face, Mishima’s face is serious, concentrated: he is a rough angel. He has attained the status of the powerful queer gaze that enthralled him in his first erotic experience. Other portraits by Shinoyama are equally striking. Mishima becomes a split subject: he is both the object and subject of his own homoerotic and narcissistic queer gaze. Mishima is depicted as a buff bodybuilder in a leather jacket next to a motorcycle; in another image, he stands poised on a balcony Page 107 →overlooking a garden; and in perhaps the most famous image, he is poised in his loincloth, his muscles rippling, a white headband across his wrinkled brow as he pulls a samurai sword from its sheath. This photograph was on the cover of his book Sun and Steel, in which he articulates his vision of himself as a virile artist in action. In these photographs, Mishima embodies a split queer gaze: he demonstrates that he has achieved his own ideal as the hypermasculine bodybuilder and soldier by being the object of the image, and, at the same time, he demonstrates his subjectivity by framing what he finds aesthetically attractive. Mishima’s aesthetic of “death and night and blood” partly results from his fascination with the Marquis de Sade. Mishima was one of the earliest writers to embrace Sade as a liberatory figure. His shingeki play Madame de Sade was written in 1965, before Weiss’s Marat/Sade (1967) and Barthes’s Sade/Fourier /Loyola (1971). Sade never appears, but his absent actions drive the play. Productions of Madame de Sade by Ingmar Bergman (1989)51 and a production starring Dame Judy Dench at London’s Donmar Warehouse (2009) demonstrate that the play still possesses cultural currency, and it remains the most famous postwar play in Japan. The Countess de Saint-Fond, the libertine in the play who understands Sade’s sexual impulses, speaks for Mishima when she says: “A coachman or a stable boy throws his arms around his wife and after one spasm of delight falls innocently asleep. The more exalted the man the more refined his pleasures.”52 In act 1, Countess de Saint-Fond explains the near impossibility of curing Sade of his perversions: But how can you persuade a patient he must be cured—against his will, if necessary—of an ailment that gives him such pleasure? The most striking characteristic of the marquis’ illness is how pleasant it is. No matter how loathsome it may seem to an outsider, this sickness has roses under its surface.53 These metaphorical roses under the surface aptly express the mixing of pain with pleasure that exists throughout Mishima’s aesthetic of extremes. After wandering the streets with the mob singing the popular tune “Hang the Nobles from the Lampposts!” Countess de Saint-Fond is crushed to death by the crowd, but her corpse is later celebrated, attaining the status of an icon of the French Revolution: Madame de Saint-Fond was trampled to death. When it grew light the crowd retrieved her corpse. They lay it in a shutter, and carried it through the streets, mourning her as a goddess of the people, a

sublimePage 108 → victim. Impromptu versifiers in every block composed songs about the “radiant prostitute” and everybody sang them. No one knew who she was.54

Under the cloak of night, the aristocratic Countess de Saint-Fond is mistaken for a radiant young prostitute and celebrated as sublime victim of the French Revolution. But when the sun rises and she is revealed as an older woman, she comes to represent the tricolor itself: In the morning light the corpse of the Comtesse de Saint-Fond, like a slaughtered chicken, had turned the colors of the tricolour—red blood, white flesh, blue bruises. The morning sun mercilessly pierced through the coating of powder and lay bare the withered old flesh. Her mourners were astonished to discover that the corpse they had been carrying was now no longer a girl’s but an old woman’s. This detracted not in the least from her glory. Her dead body, feathers plucked and wrinkled, thighs bared, was borne in triumph through the streets to the sea.В .В .В . That, as you know, marked the beginning of the French Revolution.55 The bruised flesh of Saint-Fond’s corpse possesses a strange martyred beauty; she becomes the catalyst for a revolution. There are echoes here of Jean Genet’s The Balcony (1956), written almost a decade before Mishima’s Madame de Sade, in which the prostitute Chantal also becomes a revolutionary icon. But the importance of the beautiful martyr as a key sacrifice for revolution is central to Mishima’s thought. He came to embody this martyrdom as a romantic revolutionary who sacrificed himself for the ideals of a mythic Japan. In this psychic economy, Mishima’s desire was born out of pleasure and pain, Eros and Thanatos, a compulsion that clearly matched his aesthetic. This early celebration of Sade should lead us to interrogate Mishima’s sadomasochistic impulse and its connection to his later militaristic behavior. While critics like Hal Foster have connected fascism and sadomasochism, Mishima was not exactly a fascist.56 Like the Nazis, Mishima longed for a nobler, mythic homeland, but he was critical of any direct connection between government and industry. He makes this critique explicit in his shingeki play My Friend Hitler with his characterization of Gustav Krupp, a war profiteer, benefiting from Hitler’s regime. Krupp says: Those guns are all my company’s. For those who are shot, it should be a lot wiser to be shot with the best-performing guns in the world, the Page 109 →guns of Krupp Works. For the guns, too, they are shooting the real human flesh to their satisfaction for the first time in a long while. They should be able to sleep, satisfied on their oak gun racks, like the soldiers who’ve been to brothels on leave for the first time in a long time.57 While Mishima celebrated the military, declaring that “the army is a paradise for men,”58 he condemned joint ventures between corporations and the state—a defining partnership for most historically fascist nations. Corporate greed defeated Mishima’s aesthetic of Eros and Thanatos, and he believed it was antithetical to the very idea of samurai culture (a conception not often practiced by corrupt samurai in reality). In a rare English-language interview, Mishima states that “in samurai tradition the sense of beauty was always connected with death. For instance, if you commit hara-kiri, the samurai was requested to make up his face by powder or lipsticks in order to keep his face beautiful.”59 In his commentary on the Hagakure, Mishima states: “Men must be the colour of cherry blossoms, even in death.”60 In a photograph of Mishima’s severed head, made up in the fashion he describes, the use of cosmetics is quite likely (although I can find no evidence about this either way), since his preparations for the suicide were highly traditional and meticulous (down to putting cotton in his anus to prevent bowel evacuation). While it is a tempting for me, as a Westerner, to link his made-up face in death with his childhood desire to perform femininity and become Takenatsu or Cleopatra, this connection is perhaps too easy. Like narratives of the historical vanguard that have embraced and lauded its supposed radicalism, participating in what Mike Sell has called “the eulogist school” of avant-garde studies, connecting Mishima with the repressed desires of living life as an openly gay man does not recognize the

complexity of his persona.61 Such a queer misreading does not embrace his complex oeuvre or his aesthetic of Eros and Thanatos. It is, however, apparent that Mishima engaged in a particular performance of self, a deliberate masquerade of masculinity that he carefully crafted and constructed through his autobiographical writings, his samurai ethos, and his bodybuilding.

Reactionary Vanguard Style: Wholehearted Sincerity in Sex and Death Mishima’s samurai-style suicide was rehearsed throughout his life and works, but nowhere more apparently than in his short story “Patriotism” Page 110 →(1960) and in the subsequent film YЕ«koku, or Patriotism (1966), which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. In the film version, Mishima played Lieutenant Takayama, which, as Hiroshi Nara points out, makes it clear that he was “rehearsing his own eventual selfimmolation.”62 The silent black-and-white film takes place in front of a large scroll painting of two Chinese characters signifying “wholehearted sincerity.” There can be no question that Mishima’s attitude toward seppuku and his aesthetic of a beautiful death is wholeheartedly sincere. In the short story, Lieutenant Takeyama and his young wife Reiko commit lovers’ seppuku after learning that his colleagues have failed in their attempt at a military coup d’état. The short story is based upon the historical coup of February 26–29, 1936, still known as “2/26” to the Japanese, a date as celebrated as Bastille Day or the Fourth of July. The Japanese army had split into two factions, the more traditional Kodo-ha (Imperial Way Faction) and the Tosei-ha (the Control Faction). Political corruption combined with extreme economic injustice, particularly as a result of the zaibatsu, or interlocking superconglomerates that had power over the Japanese economy, led the Kodo-ha soldiers to attempt a coup d’état. Most Kodo-ha soldiers were from rural areas, and their families directly suffered when Japan’s monocultural silkworm industry declined. Their fathers were so poor that they had to sell their sisters into prostitution in order to pay the back rent on their farms.63 Idealistic Kodo-ha soldiers followed the writings of Kita Ikki, the ideological father of Japanese fascism, who was a former socialist revolutionary who embraced militarism. Ikki’s treatise A Plan for the General Reorganisation of Japan (1923) argued that only idealistic young soldiers from rural areas could liberate Asia from Western oppressors by establishing a military dictatorship.64 On the snowy morning of February 26, 1938, young officers of the Kodo-ha insurrection seized Tokyo: they demanded a ShЕЌwa Restoration of the emperor and assassinated the lord of the privy seal, the minister of finance, and the inspector general of military training. They thought they had killed the prime minister, but he hid in a closet while they accidentally assassinated his brother-in-law. The goals of the Kodo-ha were identical to those stated by their commanding generals, so when they initiated a coup, they believed that the more senior officers would join them. Instead, their army superiors abandoned them.65 Emperor Hirohito crushed the rebellion and killed the political ringleaders. Mishima was only a small boy when 2/26 occurred, but he later claimed it had a profound effect on him and that, because it was snowing that February, he always associated snow with revolution. The short story “Patriotism” glorifies the hara-kiri of Lieutenant Takeyama and his wife Reiko. Since he is newly married and very much in love, his colleagues have not involved Takeyama in the dangerous coup. Page 111 →When the coup fails, Takeyama realizes he will be forced to fight against his comrades. Rather than betray his friends, Lieutenant Takeyama and his wife Reiko commit hara-kiri in solidarity with the rebels. A photograph features prominently in the short story: Those who saw the bride and bridegroom in the commemorative photograph—perhaps no less than those actually present at the lieutenant’s wedding—had exclaimed in wonder at the bearing of this handsome coupleВ .В .В . . After the suicide, people would take out this photograph and examine it, and sadly reflect that too often there was a curse on these seemingly flawless unions. Perhaps it was no more than imagination, but looking at the picture after the tragedy it almost seemed as if the two young people before the gold-lacquered screen were gazing, each with equal clarity, at the deaths which lay before them.66

The perfect couple in the wedding photograph is too flawless to live. The story celebrates their decision to commit suicide. This idea of perfection captured by a photograph likely also motivated the numerous photographs Mishima posed for that served to document his virile masculinity. Indeed, the 1966 short black-and-white film YЕ«koku, or Patriotism (first released in English as The Rite of Love and Death), which features Mishima as both the leading man and the director, is a document that demonstrates Mishima’s own performative rehearsal of his suicide. In the short story, as Takeyama shaves himself in preparation for lovemaking and then suicide, he gazes into the mirror in excitement, memorializing himself as a hero before his death, already envisaging his face as a death mask: “Just as it looked now, this would become his death face! Already, in fact, it had half departed from the lieutenant’s personal possession and had become the bust above a dead soldier’s memorial.” Takeyama’s thrill at his own youth and beauty, soon to be permanently captured in a bust, parallels Mishima’s own obsession with and cultivation of his own image. The split subjectivity of the queer erotic gaze of Mishima posing as Saint Sebastian is echoed by Takeyama’s pleasure in seeing himself in the mirror. This narcissistic autoeroticism, made more poignant by its impermanence, drives Mishima’s hero toward seppuku. After they have made their decision to die, Takeyama and his wife Reiko are more sexually open with one another than ever before: “This is the last time I shall see your body,” said the lieutenant. “Let me look at it closely.” And, tilting the shade on the lamp stand to one side, he directed the rays along the full length of Reiko’s outstretched form. Page 112 →Reiko lay still with her eyes closed. The light from the low lamp clearly revealed the majestic sweep of her white flesh. The lieutenant, not without a touch of egocentricity, rejoiced that he would never see this beauty crumble in death. Lieutenant Takeyama celebrates the fact that Reiko will leave behind a beautiful corpse, not worn by death, age, or sickness. This sentiment fits perfectly with Mishima’s aesthetic of an erotic death. The black-and-white film shows the couple making love and reaching new erotic heights, their lovemaking intensified by the knowledge of their imminent death. The stark naked couple makes love, as they confess all of their desires, and lose all “shyness in the face of death.”67 Reiko is so aroused her hair stands on end, as though electrified by Takeyama’s hands as they caress her head. This image cross fades to that of a virile Takeyama adjusting his lieutenant’s cap and saluting; this image is clearly in Reiko’s mind, and it is as if she is being erotically stimulated by the idea of Takeyama’s coming suicide. In chapter 4 of the film, the viewer watches as Mishima, as leading actor, playing Lieutenant Takeyama, simulates hara-kiri. Representation and reality begin to blur here. This portrayal is distinctly eerie, as Mishima rehearses his own suicide on film while simultaneously preserving it as a performance of Eros and Thanatos for the world to see. In his full dress uniform, Takeyama regards Reiko from underneath his military cap, as she bows reverently to him. He picks up his sword, the Seki no Magoruku (the exact same sword Mishima would use to commit actual suicide four years later), carefully cleaning it with rice paper and then unfastening the large brass buttons on his military coat, unbuckling his belt, and pulling down his trousers to expose his gut. He rubs his upper left gut before penetrating the soft flesh with his sword, slowly pulling it along his torso with his trembling hand while blood gushes onto his loincloth and the floor beneath him. Periodically, we are shown Reiko’s weeping eyes and Takeyama’s sweaty, determined face. Finally, we see Takeyama’s guts outside his body as he collapses on top of his sword. It is as though this reactionary vanguard image of Mishima were a clairvoyant phantasm visiting from the future.

Butoh and Mishima Mishima’s aesthetic of violence, eroticism, and embodiment also directly influenced Hijikata Tatsumi, the founder of the vanguard dance theater style called Butoh. Hijikata Tatsumi’s Kinjiki (Forbidden Colors) was

based Page 113 →on Mishima’s novel of the same title. Performed for the Japanese Dance Association on May 24, 1959, the darkened stage revealed a young Yoshito Ohno (son of Kazuo Ohno) dancing barefoot with Hijikata Tatsumi. Ohno danced the role of boy in a black scarf with lemon-yellow shorts, and Tatsumi danced the role of man wearing bell-bottom trousers, with clean-shaven heard and body smeared with black grease in stark contrast to the boy’s white flesh. The man and boy dance erotically; they are sexually attracted to one another. The man leaves the stage and returns, holding a chicken and running in a circle: The boy stiffens and walked to a narrow illuminated area centre stage, where the man is waiting in the darkness. Breathing hard, they face each other, and the man thrusts the chicken into the light with the white wings fluttering “stunningly.” The boy accepts the chicken, turns his head, and holds it to his chest. Then, placing the chicken between his thighs he slowly sinks to a squat.68 The boy kneels. The audience can hear sounds of moaning. “After a while, the two characters’ heavy breathing and a male voice whispering вЂJe t’aime’ are heard.”69 Kinjiki ended in darkness with only the sounds of the boy’s footsteps attempting to escape with the man running after him. The performers were literally “dancing in the dark,” which explains the origins of the name Ankoko ButЕЌ-ha, which means the dance of utter darkness. The explicit homosexual pedophilia in the piece, combined with the violence toward the chicken, shocked audience members.70 Many left during the performance, and an outraged Tatsumi and Ohno subsequently resigned from the Japan Dance Association. GЕЌda Nario, dance critic and champion of Butoh, wrote of his experience watching Kinjiki in his essay “Ankoku Butō”: Although Forbidden Colors only lasted a few minutes, it combined the barbarous act of strangling a chicken with the anti-social and supposedly taboo topic of homosexuality. It made those of us who watched it to the end shudder, but once the shudder passed through our bodies, it resulted in a refreshing sense of release. Perhaps there was darkness concealed within our bodies similar to that found in Forbidden Colors and which therefore responded with a feeling of liberation.71 This violent grotesque dance produced a distinct sense of catharsis, or a purging through physical shuddering and subsequent release for Nario. “Kinjiki Page 114 →has been interpreted in different ways: as dark, masochistic, abusive, homoerotic, ritualistic, sacrificial, strong, quiet, stiff, withheld, and as both beautiful and ugly.”72 Susan Blakely Klein explains: “The act of killing a chicken, with its primitive sacrificial overtones, was meant as an expression of the turbulent sexual passion which modern man suppresses but which still remains as a core of darkness at the heart of our existence” (9). Here we can see a direct connection with the aesthetics of Butoh and Mishima’s obsession with violence as the dark core of human existence: “The aim of Hijikata was a direct assault on the nervous system.В .В .В . It was a violent spasm of anti-dance.”73 The image of the chicken is central for Hijikata’s dance. One could endlessly debate the multiple meanings of chicken: for example, it is a euphemism for a very young lover among gay men, and it is also a reference to male genitalia (as in “choking the chicken”). Of course, Hijikata was aware of the importance of the chicken. In his 1960 text “Inner Material/Materials, ” Hijikata discusses chicken in great detail: For days I slept holding a chicken and taking care not to eat it. Boyhood hunger is vivid; the chicken my father killed was red. To the hungry boy, the father even looked like a chicken as we were pounding the carcass. Hijikata came from the opposite socioeconomic background from Mishima. Raised in the economically depressed area of Akita in rural northern Japan, Hijikata knew real poverty as a boy; his memories of hunger were strong. Here he remembers killing a chicken and not wanting to eat it (for fear his hunger would soon return), as well as a sense that everything, including his father, began to look like some kind of food when he was extremely hungry. GЕЌda Nario points out that “in the farming village in Akita where Hijikata spent his boyhood, people lived in

familiar proximity with horses and chickens.” Nario continues: Because of this, strangling a chicken meant there would be a treat; it was a rare event surrounded with the excitement of a special hospitality or festival. The progression from strangling the chicken, to cooking it, to presenting it on the dinner table was apparent even to a child. Although the boy in Forbidden Colors directed the release of his dark passion, which burst forth from the inner depths of his flesh, towards the chicken, this passion might be regarded as a form of love, as part of the natural cycle that occurred occasionally in everyday farming life.74 Page 115 →Nario suggests that the killing of the chicken is a celebratory recognition of the cycle of life. The chicken became a key theme for Hijikata, who talks about it in his 1960 text “Inner Material/Materials”: In Tokyo I stood for hours in front of a shop window where chicks were strung up. Love always comes late. I slept with the chicken the night before my performance with other new dancers. This chicken which laid an egg in the green room played a vital part in my initiation into love. I sometimes visited this partner of mine at a poultry shop in Asagaya.В .В .В . Over and over I apologized to the chicken I held while dancing. Hunger must have been the theme of the universe.75 Here, it seems as though Hijikata is connecting his rural boyhood experience of killing a chicken to watching chicks strung up in an urban butcher shop. He is also commemorating the chicken as the third performer in Kinjiki. Did he sleep with the chicken the night before his performance like he did when he was a boy? Did the chicken in Kinjiki lay an egg on the green-room floor? Did Hijikata apologize to the chicken, the sacrifice for his dance of darkness, over and over again before giving it to Ohno to squeeze between his thighs? These questions are not answerable, but Hijikata’s writings invite them. Mishima met Hijikata Tatsumi after hearing about his dance Kinjiki and became “deeply interested in Hijikata’s work. He often visited Hijikata’s studio, encouraged him, and introduced him to important cultural figures.”76 Hijikata obviously felt a strong bond and sense of gratitude for his friendship with Mishima. A year after performing Kinjiki in 1960, Hijikata writes: “Finally, I owe everything to the constant support of Mishima Yukio, our generation’s shot with the magic bullet, who always sets an anxious, unchanging fuse to his own work and who made me create my maiden work, Kinjiki (Forbidden Colors).”77 The affection was mutual. Mishima equally celebrated Tatsumi’s work and referred to it as a “heretical ceremony,” which required wearing a black mask and mysterious perfumes.78 While it’s not clear which performance Mishima is alluding to, Hijikata’s 1968 production Nikutai no Hanran (Rebellion of the Flesh or Rebellion of the Body) was certainly a kind of dark ritual. Hijikata enters the audience space carried on a wooden litter by several men; he is wearing a white bridal kimono backwards. He is followed by a pig in a crib and a rabbit on a platter held at the end of a pole. Once onstage, he takes off the kimono revealing his emaciated, Page 116 →tanned naked body. He wears only an erect golden phallus. A dead chicken hangs above him strung up by its feet. He proceeds to dance, leaping to large steel plates suspended from the ceiling. When he jumps on the plates, the light from them is reflected into the audience. Finally, he kills a rooster by breaking its neck. The piece culminates with him being flown across the audience on ropes as though in a mock Ascension.79 Here Hijikata revealed himself as the ultimate dancer of darkness: “Mishima is said to have wept at this performance, saying, вЂIt’s terrifying, this is time dancing.’”80 The aesthetic similarities between Mishima and Hijikata extended to their interests in the Western avant-garde. For instance, both men were interested in the work of LautrГ©amont, Sade, Georges Bataille, and Jean Genet. Tatsumi liked Genet so much he performed under the name Hijikata Genet for some time and choreographed a dance called Divine for Kazuo Ohno based on Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers. But both Mishima and Hijikata also looked back in Japanese history in an effort to uncover a mythic, authentic national identity and to

reconstruct Japanese identity in the face of modernity. Susan Blakely Klein eloquently explains the Butoh interest in returning to the “origins” of Japanese dance: In order to return to either of these “origins” of dance, ButЕЌ has had to tread a difficult line, the line that kept this faintly nostalgic, romantic attitude towards folk or popular forms of traditional culture from disintegrating into the kind of uncritical idealization of “pure” Japanese values that in the prewar period was used so effectively by the right wing military—an all too real possibility considering the path that Hijikata’s good friend Mishima Yukio took. Mishima’s desire to regain the purity of a mythical Japanese path certainly had an effect on Butō’s development, particularly with regard to the revival of interest in indigenous theatrical forms.81 Understanding this neoromantic militarism and its embrace of a backward-looking utopian vision of an idealized samurai society is critical for understanding Mishima. It is also critical for beginning to understand the identity crisis central to postwar Japan. Mishima’s choice to commit seppuku on November 25, 1970, was his final act as an artist; he martyred himself, turning his art into life. Page 117 →

The Worm at the Core Mishima writes in Sun and Steel: The apple certainly exists, but to the core this existence as yet seems inadequate; if words cannot endorse it, then the only way to endorse it is with the eyes. Indeed, for the core, the only sure mode of existence is to exist and to see at the same time. There is only one method of solving this contradiction. It is for a knife to be plunged deep into the apple so that it is split open and the core is exposed to the light—to the same light, that is, as the surface skin. Yet then the existence of the cut apple falls into fragments; the core of the apple sacrifices existence for the sake of seeing.82 Mishima saw himself as someone who carried the core values of the Japanese past. He believed his own sacrifice was necessary to remind the Japanese people of their national identity and purpose. In order to do this, he had to split the core open and expose it to the light. While he may have been the apple core, trying to critically assess Mishima’s actions is complicated and much closer to Samuel Beckett’s sentiment that “the author is the worm at the core of the apple.”83 Mishima crafted a vanguard performance—his suicide—for his vision of a backward-looking utopian world of samurai and emperor worship. But Mishima remains a paradox. In the film version of Mishima’s stage adaptation of Edogawa Rampo’s detective novel, The Black Lizard (1968), Mishima has a cameo role. In this camp classic, we are deep in underground caverns where a notorious female gangster, the Black Lizard, played by the beautiful drag queen Akihiro Miwa, keeps her diabolical museum of “dolls” (which are actually stuffed human cadavers). The Black Lizard parts gauze curtains and turns on a light to exhibit her prized doll: a rough gangster with “muscle of steel [and a] hairy chest,” played by Yukio Mishima. She asks her guests: “Isn’t this doll beautifully made? Maybe a bit too well made, don’t you think? There’s downy hair growing on this body. Did you ever hear of

a doll with downy hair? This dollВ .В .В .” The Black Lizard’s voice trails off in a fond reminiscence of how she acquired her prize doll. We then see the Black Lizard look down at the open switchblade in the gangster’s hand, and a flashback takes us to the night the gangster died: he is in the middle of a knife fight with another man in the Black Lizard’s night club. As the two men fight each other, the Black Lizard’s passionate gaze is fixed on the gangster as she Page 118 →smokes her cigarette in its long holder with increased frenzy. We then return to the present moment in the Black Lizard’s museum as she leans forward and erotically kisses Mishima, the gangster, on the lips. Mishima wrote the scene in which he has this cameo. When the Black Lizard asks her guests if the gangster doll played by Mishima is “maybe a bit too well made,” his bizarre sense of ironic humor shines through. Akihiro Miwa, as previously mentioned, was well known as Mishima’s lover, and here Mishima appears to make fun of his own hypermasculinity and embrace a kind of camp aesthetic. In extreme contrast to this playful moment, just two years later on November 25, 1970, Mishima would commit a soldier’s suicide. Dennis Washburn hailed Mishima’s death as the precise moment of the death of literary modernism in Japan, particularly citing the inherent contradictions of Japanese modernity and tradition.84 Washburn critiques Mishima’s popularity, fascist aesthetic, and Western lifestyle. But this type of paradox is central to Mishima’s identity: Mishima was a reactionary vanguardist. He was both the keeper of strict warrior codes of Bushido and the lover of a famous drag queen; a critic of U.S. presence in Japan and a self-styled darling of the Western press; a serious bodybuilder and an intellectual. On the morning of his death, Mishima left a note on his desk, reading: “Human life is limited, but I would like to live forever.” Mishima’s suicide ensured his immortality. It was the culmination of his lifelong vanguard aesthetic, his romantic nihilism born of Eros mixed with Thanatos.

Notes 1.Herbert Blau, The Dubious Spectacle: Extremities of Theatre (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001), 51–52. 2.Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, trans. Justin O’Brien (New York: Random House, 1955), 4. 3.Henry Scott Stokes, The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima (New York: Noonday Press, 1974), 26. 4.The best source on Mishima’s output as a playwright is Laurence Kominz, Mishima on Stage: “The Black Lizard” and Other Plays (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007). See also “My Friend Hitler” and Other Plays of Yukio Mishima, trans. Hiroaki Sato (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). A total of twenty-three of Mishima’s sixty-two plays are now available in English. 5. Kichigai translates as “crazy” but is more serious than the English use of the word. Hisaaki Yamanouchi, “Mishima Yukio and His Suicide,” Modern

Asian Studies 6.1 (1972): 1–16. See also Stokes, Life and Death, 34. 6.Roy Starrs, Deadly Dialectics: Sex, Violence and Nihilism in the Work of Yukio Mishima (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994), 190. 7.Walter Skya, Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 267. Page 119 → 8.Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), 32. 9.Carol Martin, “Lingering Heat and Local Global J Stuff,” Drama Review 50.1 (Spring 2006): 46. 10.Yukio Mishima, Voices of the Heroic Dead, cited in John Marmysz, Laughing at Nothing: A Response to Nihilism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2003), 54. 11.Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, trans. Meredith Weatherby (London: Paladin Grafton Books, 1986). 12.Scott-Stokes, Life and Death, 10. 13.For more about Mishima’s sword, see Christopher Ross, Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend (New York: Harper, 2010). 14.Scott-Stokes, Life and Death, 10–20. 15.Scott-Stokes, Life and Death, 255. 16.Roy Starrs, “The Road to Violent Action,” in Fascism: Critical Concepts, ed. Roger Griffin and Matthew Feldman (London: Routledge, 2003), 255. 17.Peter Abelsen, “Irony and Purity,” Modern Asian Studies 30.3 (1996): 651. 18.Scott-Stokes, Life and Death, 256. 19.John Nathan, Mishima: A Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 2000), 50. 20.Mishima quoted in Donald Keene, Five Modern Japanese Novelists (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 49. 21.This is the famous first line of the Hagakure, and death is essential to Bushido philosophy, although not in the obvious way it is stated here. See Yamamoto Tsunemoto, The Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai, vol. 1 (Tokyo: Hokuseido Press, 1980), 35. 22.Kathryn Sparling, “Translator’s Note,” in Yukio Mishima, Mishima on Hagakure (Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1977), 8. 23.Mishima, Mishima on Hagakure. 24.Yamanouchi, “Mishima Yukio and His Suicide,” 2. 25.Nathan, Mishima, 25. 26.Scott-Stokes, Life and Death, 39. 27.Dan P. McAdams, “Fantasy and Reality in the Death of Yukio Mishima,” Biography 8.4 (1985): 296. 28.McAdams, “Fantasy and Reality.” 29.Interview with Akihiro Miwa in “Yukio Mishima and Bodybuilding,” YouTube. Accessed on August 10, 2013. 30.Miwa, interview. 31.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 17. 32.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 18. 33.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 18. 34.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 18.

35.Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Gender Identity (London: Routledge, 1990). 36.Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Theatre Journal 40.4 (1988): 520. 37.Butler, “Performative Acts,” 526. 38.Butler, “Performative Acts,” 24. 39.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 24. 40.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 21. Page 120 → 41.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 22. 42.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 22. 43.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 22. 44.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 32. 45.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 33. 46.Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, 33. 47.Jerry S. Piven, The Madness and Perversion of Yukio Mishima (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 41. 48.McAdams, “Fantasy and Reality,” 307. 49.Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel, trans. John Bester (New York: Kodansha International, 1980), 27–28. 50.Mishima, Sun and Steel, 27–28. 51.For more on the Bergman production of Madame de Sade, see Freddie Rokem, Performing History: Theatrical Representations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001), 117–130. 52.Yukio Mishima, Madame de Sade, trans. Donald Keene (London: Peter Owen, 1968). All further citations of the play are taken from this edition. 53.Mishima, Madame de Sade, 15. 54.Mishima, Madame de Sade, 82. 55.Mishima, Madame de Sade, 82. 56.Hal Foster, Compulsive Beauty (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993). I am not suggesting that sadomasochism as a social/sexual practice is directly linked with fascism. However, the aesthetic, even the playful worship of power, connects it to several critical schools of thought about fascism and aesthetics. 57.Mishima, My Friend Hitler, 157. 58.Mishima, My Friend Hitler, 120. 59.“ Yukio Mishima Speaking in English.” YouTube. /watch?v=DPAZQ6mhRcU. Accessed August 10, 2013. 60.Sparling, “Translator’s Note,” 8. 61.See Mike Sell’s Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004) and Paul Mann’s Theory-Death of the Avant-Garde (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991) for discussions of the eulogist school. 62.Hiroshi Nara, Inexorable Modernity: Japan’s Grappling with Modernity in the Arts (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007), 156. 63.Ben-Ami Shillony, Revolt in Japan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974). 64.For Mishima on Kita Ikki, see Noguchi Takehiko, “Mishima Yukio and Kita

Ikki: The Aesthetics and Politics of Ultranationalism in Japan,” trans. Teruko Craig, Journal of Japanese Studies 10.2 (Summer 1984): 437–454. 65.Courtney Browne, Tojo: The Last Banzai (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1967), 56. 66.Yukio Mishima, “Patriotism,” in Death in Midsummer and Other Stories (New York: Penguin, 1966), 102–103. 67.For more on Mishima’s sword, see Ross, Mishima’s Sword. 68.Sondra Fraleigh and Tamah Nakamura, Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo (London: Routledge, 2006), 78–80. Page 121 → 69.Kazuko Kuniyoshi and Kenji Yuda, “Two Kinjiki Diametrical Oppositions,” Drama Review 50.2 (Summer 2006): 154. 70.It is unclear precisely what happened to the chicken. Some record that it died: see Richard Kostelanetz, A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes (New York: Routledge, 2001), 286; see also Meiling Cheng, In Other Los Angeles: Multi-centric Performance Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 320; and Fraleigh and Nakamura, Hijikata Tatsumi, 78–80. Others argue that it was sat upon: see Sondra Fraleigh, Butoh: Metamorphic Dance and Global Alchemy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 214. 71.GЕЌda Nario, “Ankoku ButЕЌ,” appendix C in Susan Blakeley Klein, Ankoku ButЕЌ: The Premodern and Postmodern Influences on the Dance of Utter Darkness (Ithaca, NY: Cornell East Asia Series, 1988), 81. 72.Fraleigh and Nakamura, Hijikata Tatsumi, 80. 73.Fraleigh, Sondra, and Tamah Nakamra, Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo (New York: London, 2006), 80. 74.Nario, “Ankoku ButЕЌ,” 83. 75.Hijikata Tatsumi, “Inner Material/Materials,” Drama Review 44.1 (Spring 2000): 39. 76.Kurihara Nanako, “Hijikata Tatsumi: The Words of Butoh,” introduction, Drama Review 44.1 (Spring 2000): 18. 77.Tatsumi, “Inner Material/Materials,” 42. 78.Mishima in Jean Viala and Nouritt Masson-Sekine, Butoh: Shades of Darkness (Japan: Shufunomoto, 1988), 62. 79.Description of the dance is drawn from several sources, including Viala and Masson-Sekine, Butoh, 70–71. 80.Bonnie Sue Stein, “Twenty Years Ago We Were Crazy, Dirty and Mad,” Drama Review 30.2 (1986): 116. 81.Klein, Ankoku ButЕЌ, 37. 82.Mishima, Sun and Steel, 55–6. 83.Beckett cited in James Knowlsen and John Haynes, Images of Beckett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 7. 84.Dennis Washburn, “Structures of Emptiness: Kitsch, Nihilism, and the Inauthentic in Mishima’s Aesthetics,” in Studies in Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Dennis Washburn and Alan Tansman (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 283–306.

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Part II • Exalted and En Masse

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Part Introduction Immersion, Togetherness, and the Sublime Kimberly Jannarone The things we feel exalted by in vanguard performance cross political boundaries, drawing fuel from every radical fire. The essays in this section speak to that exhilaration in the context of the need for energetic outlets and for community—whether religious, political, or (ostensibly) purely aesthetic. As Ann Pellegrini notes, Raymond Williams’s concept of “the structure of feeling” can help us understand the material social effect of live performance: “not feeling against thought, but thought as felt and feeling as thought: practical consciousness of a present kind, in a living and interrelating continuity.”1 Performance, as a material event between bodies, achieves unique visceral effects, in which thought and feelings are fused, producing structures of feeling that operate on physical, emotional, and intellectual levels.2 These structures can then be mobilized for a variety of differing causes. End-of-days scenarios are particularly rich sites of innovative performance practices in the service of creating new, exalted communities. The yearning for cataclysm manifests itself in vanguard acts throughout different political and religious systems. As Elinor Fuchs demonstrated in her “The Apocalyptic Century” issue of Theater magazine in 2000, the apocalyptic impulse crosses all political lines.3 Binaries like right/left and progressive/conservative break down inside the maelstrom of millenarianism, doomsday prophecies, and fervent imaginings of final catastrophes. When social structures are crumbling, religious and ecstatic experiences can fill the void—and they undergo reliable resurgences in such times. During the Industrial Revolution, for example, religious revivals spread on massive scales, with gatherings in the Appalachians reaching into tens of thousands of people snake handling, speaking in tongues, and summoning the Holy Spirit to ecstatically whisk them away from the dreary, laborious horror Page 126 →their lives had become.4 Within these frenzied bursts of charismatic spirituality, extraordinary performance innovations occurred. Miraculous feats of prophesying and healing created a sense of awe, beauty, and transcendence. Charismatic preachers and their writhing congregations forged strong communities where nothing but the wreckage of tradition lay. The contemporary phenomena of hell houses—in which religious communities, combating a perceived lack of community and spirituality in the United States, turn the wicked holiday of Halloween into a conversion opportunity by enacting the perils of sinful behavior in an immersive, charismatic theater experience—have sprung up in rural and suburban America in recent decades. Hell houses draw on both medieval and contemporary participatory theater techniques. They’ve recently received multiple productions by avant-garde companies. The first, in LA, explicitly ironized the hell houses, and their production met only moderate success.5 Another, in New York, presented the torments of the houses without judgment or commentary and elicited a much more complex reaction from its urban audience.6 Some spectators did not enter into the experience and remained ironic, while some audience members gave themselves over to it and left weeping, exalted, and converted. Ann Pellegrini examines this second hell house and its original model from a performance studies perspective, foregrounding the Christian community’s view of itself as marginalized and in need of an ecstatic performance of togetherness. An event that subsumes the individual into its own totality contains a movement toward the illiberal. In performance, massed bodies, however theorized, more often than not end up being eagerly adopted by totalitarian regimes. In the 1930s, when the dance innovators Mary Wigman and Rudolf Laban were creating choral bodies—dances with hundreds and thousands of people—they envisioned a kind of essential community outside of time, beyond politics. In the eyes of the new German government, stinging from the degradation of defeat in World War I and the Versailles Treaty, such dances exactly matched the people’s needs: a powerful experience of communal ecstasy, lifting citizens out of the abjection of the contemporary national psyche. The result was Nazi appropriation of the new dance ideas, including the beginning of a ten-thousand-person dance

choreographed by Laban under Goebbels’s supervision. Although Laban’s piece was ultimately canceled, the moment shows how the quest for pure, shared exaltation landed modern dance in the center of the Third Reich’s aesthetic program. Odai Johnson explores how interwar dance innovations drew from classical ideals—Dionysiac celebration, choral bodies—to feed experimental and communal dance in Nazi Germany. Page 127 →Massed bodies feature prominently in Katherine Profeta’s essay on the 2008 opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. The ceremonies were directed by Zhang Yimou, who went from subversive filmmaking to mass nationalist performance in the span of a few years, claiming that art is, fundamentally, apolitical. And, in spite of the eyebrows raised by what seemed to be an unequivocally political about-face, he did have a point: his art doesn’t appeal to only one mode of government. What he choreographed—fifteen thousand performers for a live audience of almost one hundred thousand—tapped into the joy of belonging, the individual bonding with the community, an ideal that manifests in communism, fascism, and a range of Eastern and Western religious beliefs. Profeta’s essay makes us think about the relationship of the one to the many, about freedom and control, as exemplified in this extraordinary moment of live, profoundly political, vanguard performance. Erik Butler brings into our conversation what Armin Mohler discussed as “the conservative revolution,” a Western intellectual and cultural movement after World War I that Mohler deems on the scale of the French Revolution, but which leaned politically in the opposite direction. It embraced tradition, the irrational, the primitive, and social order based on hierarchies. The musicians Butler examines—including Laibach and Death in June—accept this framework, and their music and attitudes embrace strength, illogic, power, and living for the moment, characteristics they see embodied in modern music and culture. By enacting such radical conservative ideals in their music and performances, the artists, Butler argues, call popular music’s bluff. Popular music, especially in live performance, frequently treads this line. Take, for example, the legendary 1976 Sex Pistols concerts at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, which provide a fascinating point of comparison to Butler’s examination. As Graham White argued in 2011, the Lesser Free Trade Hall concerts spawned not only left-radical postpunk bands, but also the right-wing punk band Skrewdriver, which led to the neo-Nazi “Blood and Honor” movement.7 The avant-garde “emotional revolution” started by the Sex Pistols’ howls in Manchester provided an equally suitable framework for a “model right-wing avant-garde that celebrates a fascist mythology of violence, intensity, masculine camaraderie, sacrifice, and destruction.”8 Whereas histories of the Free Trade Hall concerts have always focused on the concerts’ progressive legacy, White demonstrates that their immersive, messianic, aggressive, return-to-roots performances lent themselves perfectly to the ideals of violent, youthful, neo-Nazi concerts, “confirmation, by sonic overload and extremity of image and rhetoric, of the cartoon ideologies and stereotypes of right-wing viciousness” (197). Like the Nazi Thingspiele plays in 1930s Germany, such right-wing radical immersive performances serve to “refamiliarize”Page 128 → the audience with shared ideals, establishing a cultish, communal experience. We are led to the indisputable conclusion that punk lends itself—perhaps even inevitably—to such an appropriation. These concerts speak to the performances of Laibach, Death in June, and Joy Division, as Butler sees the “conservative revolution” flourishing in aggressive, power-driven, youthful, emotional rock, especially when the musicians find themselves in the face of institutional pressures they appear to have no control over. This section foregrounds moments when live performance encourages exaltation, focusing on how innovation occurs with particular urgency when social pressures mount. Seeking a new narrative—a new ending or beginning—vanguard artists turn to performance to build a sense of togetherness and rapture when the world around them fails to provide it.

Notes 1.Williams quoted in Pellegrini’s essay in this part. 2.And a fourth, ineffable level, for discussions of which, see Philip Auslander, Liveness (London: Taylor Francis, 2008) and Jane Goodall, Stage Presence (New York: Routledge, 2008). 3.“The Apocalyptic Century,” ed. Elinor Fuchs, Yale/Theater 29.3 (2000).

4.Discussed in Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: 1789–1848 (New York: Vintage, 1996), 225–229. 5.It starred Bill Maher as the demon guide. See Adam B. Vary, “Hell House of the Stars,” Advocate, October 12, 2004, 80–82; and Richard Rushfield, “Raising Hell,” New York Times, August 29, 2004, sec. 2–3. 6.See David Savran, “Liberté, Fraternité, Corbusier! An Interview with Alex Timbers,” TDR 54.4 (Winter 2010): 39–53. 7.Graham White, “The Ians in the Audience: Punk Attitude and the Influence of the Avant-Garde,” in Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical, ed. Mike Sell (New York: Palgrave, 2011), 188–206. 8.White, “Ians in the Audience,” 203.

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Collisions in the Coliseum Mussolini, Modernism, and the Agon for Antiquity Odai Johnson The rhetorical prejudice (of literary origin) that the Italian nation has always existed, from ancient Rome to the present . . . leads to a sort of fatalism and passive expectation of a future which would be completely predetermined by the past. —Antonio Gramsci The art of the Greeks is not a national or characteristic art, but has been and will be the art of humanity for all times. —Isadora Duncan This study stands in the intersection of these two concepts of antiquity: the fascists’ blueprint of empire, and the modernists’ universal domain of Art. In the 1930s, the crossroads of these two antiquities was a very busy intersection. The collision that ultimately occurred is the story that follows.

La carta cinque Something is missing on the wall of the Basilica of Constantine in Rome. At the northwest end of a series of four stone maps, the bricks have been replaced, and an outline remains of what was once there: a fifth map, now missing. I want to begin with this fifth map, visible only in its erasure, for its place in a narrative that once was and is no more. Why four maps have remained and the fifth did not has a great deal to do with the story they promoted,Page 130 → a narrative that, in part, owed its conception to two competing models of antiquity: one that endured, and one that did not, and a contest that played out over these two competing conceptions of the classical past that was colonized by two aesthetic superpowers of the early decades of the twentieth century: the modernists and the fascists. On the side of the Basilica of Constantine, in Rome, where the Via de Imperiali joins ancient Rome to the Piazza Venezia, four large marble maps still exhibit the rise of ancient Rome from the eight century BCE to the height of the empire under Trajan. They were originally installed when Benito Mussolini redesigned this quarter of Rome, opening up the ruins of the old Forum of Trajan with the new road that tied the imperial past to the fascist present. The first four maps were unveiled on April 21, 1934—the traditional founding day of Rome, but also the Fascist Labor Day. The fifth map was added to the series soon after Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia in 1936 and consequently repurposed the prior narrative to one of return to empire by projecting the new Italy under Mussolini, a neo-Augustan empire that embraced a far larger geography than the Italian peninsula, including North Africa.1 With the conquest and the installation of the fifth map, the first four maps leaped out of the archive, exchanged their “pastness” for participation in a modern remapping of bold and now precedented circumMediterranean ambitions. The first imperial maps now became placeholders that documented prior possession, and through which, the fifth map rightfully fulfilled the promise of a new Rome, one with an eye on expansion. This reading is in concert with Mussolini’s intensive archaeological campaigns, also conducted in the theater of expansion: the former-now-restored Roman Empire in North Africa and along the northern borders, also designed to make visible the prior claim of Roman possession. When the war turned against the Axis powers, when the fascist project failed and Mussolini himself was executed, the large and overreaching fifth map was removed, quietly retired, and the classical past retreated to the past again. But the place where the fifth map once stood remains still, and the presence of that absence, outlined still,

makes legible a certain application of antiquity that was once the ubiquitous mark of Mussolini’s romanitГ project. Mussolini’s aggressive embrace of Roman antiquity as a template for his own model of empire is the subject of wide study of spectacle, architecture, and archaeology.2 The notion of Roman antiquity—particularly Augustan Rome—as a “blueprint for Fascist modernity,” as Joshua Arthurs put it, has been solidly canvassed. The current essay considers rather the more subtle contest for antiquity engaged between Mussolini’s romanitГ project on one front, that sought to revivify antiquity as part of the construction of the new Page 131 →fascist identity and the return to empire, and its curious counterpart: the modernists on the other front, artists like Max Reinhardt, Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, Isadora Duncan (and her formidable list of supporters—The Committee for the Furtherance of Isadora Duncan’s Work in America), Martha Graham, Rosalia Chladek, Eva Palmer, W. B. Yeats, and Gordon Craig, to list just the principals, to whom, for whom antiquity represented an aesthetic outside of time, a place out of place, into which the pure and universal, the transhistorical ur-essence called “Art” could live unencumbered by the exigencies of the local.3 Largely as a revolt against the naturalistic practices of the theater and the heavy conventions of “classical” ballet, “the antique” became a topos sans topos (place without place), art of/at the beginning, in which a universal Attic space beyond time and culture could speak of all experience. “As Greek dances were the forerunners of the Greek drama,” declared Isadora Duncan, “so we believe we are laying the foundation for the development of a great universal art.”4 When Reinhardt conceived his “Theater of Five Thousand,” “his aim,” wrote Christopher Innes, “was to recreate the sense of community and Dionysian enthusiasm of the ancient Greek theatre.”5 Likewise Laban’s communal movement choirs, the set-less light designs of Craig, Duncan’s tunics and vase-grammar, the choral bodies of Reinhardt’s Greek productions, the ruinous settings of Chladek’s Sicilian productions, Eva Palmer’s Delphic revivals, Martha Graham’s Greek tragic dances, the effervescent drapery and tragic masks of Wigman’s dance dramas all evoked a certain notion of an “antiquity apart” at exactly the same historic moment (1920s–1930s) in which antiquity, as both a material presence and a governing grammar of empire, was being increasingly excavated and commandeered by Mussolini as a template of expansion. By the mid-1930s, however, these two independent applications of the classical past became increasingly entangled, and the antique of the modernists met the antique of the fascists, and stared across the marble of stadiums and newly restored amphitheaters in a nervous kinship for an uneasy showdown. They were, in essence, both strangers in the restored theaters, two colonizing forces, both equally antihistorical, both claiming, repurposing, radicalizing antiquity for two very different functions, and occasionally, these two functions met, in Italy and in Germany in the mid-1930s, and what occurred was nothing less than a classical agon of classical pasts. The densest intersection of this contest was a position fully mobilized and spectacularly performed by both claimants: the choral body. The mass choral spectacles that were the signatures of Rudolf Laban, Mary Wigman, and Max Reinhardt that sought to escape temporality with a return to Attic origins were also hyperbolically deployed as part of the new fascist people’s theater (complete with Thespis’s “cart,” the Page 132 →famous motorized workhorse, the 18 BL), and later in the Nazi aesthetic of the Volk dance festivals under Joseph Goebbels.6 Occasionally, both traditions even employed the same artists. Both antiquities wrestled, and indeed, as the threat level of fascism rose in the West, the deployment of one antiquity against the other formed an agon of classic proportions. Artists first.

Topos sans topos When Mary Wigman performed in New York in 1930, John Martin, the New York Times dance critic, was expressly reminded of a concept of antiquity that had quite suddenly come back to life through her performances: Though her dances treat common human impulses, they have thrown off all that is petty and unessential, until they stand forth, free, simple, warm, transcendent, like great sculptures of antiquity suddenly breathed into movement. Indeed, on the beautiful stage of the Chanin Theatre, with the sound of primitive music rising as a background, she struck the keynote of the ancient Greek theatre so vividly, without any apparent intention of doing so, that she made the many conscious efforts of

others to recreate Greek dance pale into the merest insignificance.7

“The many conscious efforts of others” recreating antiquity was, by 1930, a broad aesthetic that Martin had seen a great deal of over the last few years, and would see a great deal more of in the immediate years ahead. As dance critic who championed the careers of Isadora Duncan, Rudolf Laban, Martha Graham, and now Mary Wigman, even to attending the Third Dance Congress in Munich earlier that summer, Martin had witnessed the very best of the new dance, like Wigman’s Totenmal, with its insistence on Greek masks, and the return to the ethos of the ancient choral body.8 Nor were the many attempts to re-create the spirit of antiquity confined to the new dance dramas, evoking in spirit and choral bodies the ecstatic ethos of Dionysus. In the theater, Max Reinhardt’s long affair with antiquity had been creating a mythic space for the staging of modernist ideas for two decades: Electra, Medea, Oedipus Tyrannus, The Oresteia, Lysistrata, in Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Odessa, London, Zurich, Saint Petersburg, Budapest, Amsterdam. Gordon Craig and William Butler Yeats had also both experimented with recapturing the Greek spirit, as did many other prominent artists. Г‰mile-Jaques Dalcroze’s Hellerau performance group presented a series of open-air productionsPage 133 → among Sicilian ruins in 1925, 1926, and 1927. In other classical sites, in 1927 and again in 1930, Eva Palmer and her Greek husband, Angelos Siklianos, produced epic Greek theater festivals at the ancient theater in Delphi, the first modern Greek productions at that site, while Rosalia Chladek’s open-air productions at the Greek theater in Syracuse of Euripides’s Iphigenia in Aulis (1933), Sophocles’s Oedipus at Colonus (1936), and Ajax (1939) also helped to prompt antiquity back into a material present. Isadora Duncan did as much as anyone to initiate the return to antiquity as a place out of time. Her formal study of Greek vases, her performances in sheer Greek tunics, her essays and lectures repeatedly spoke of the influence of the Greeks, and, more so than any of her contemporaries, she let her choreography be utterly inspired by her notions of an ideal ancient Greece, notions the modern nation-state of Greece repeatedly disappointed.9 Martha Graham’s early choreography descended from this attic spirit; her Fragments, Tragedy, Comedy (1928), Bacchanale and Dithyrambic (1931), Bacchanale No. 2 and Choric Dance for an Antique Greek Tragedy (1932) were imbued with an equally potent classical influence that proved to be a career-long haunting by antiquity, and in particular, the form and mythic ethos of fifth-century Greek tragedy.10 All across the West, avant-garde artists were deploying antiquity in the new staging ground of modernism.11 Laban’s movement choirs were the most accessible point of teaching the new dance, and it was taught in twenty-five schools that Laban founded. These movement choirs required anywhere from 12 to 1,200 dancers in orchestrated choral spectacles.12 Laban defended the practice by citing dance’s origins in the communal spirit of the ancients. In a 1926 issue of Die SchГ¶nheit devoted to Laban, critic Walter Jacob described the “cultic ecstasy” of Laban’s choral work as “a restoration of the lost festkultur of ancient Greece.”13 The celebrative return to the origins of primitive dance—seminude, outdoor, in nature, ritual dancing, like that Laban promoted at his summer school, Ascona, or the similar schools of Mary Wigman and Isadora Duncan—employed the ancient genealogy (real or imagined) to step out of the current culture, a culture by the early 1930s that was becoming increasingly, aggressively nationalized.14 Duncan, Reinhardt, Laban, and Wigman were all using choruses like no one since antiquity in a bid to constitute a temporary community. In schools and in performances, pieces like Totenmal used masks, choruses, an Attic set, and Greek costumes to create a new aesthetic that was at once familiar and authorial, but outside of the temporal. The choral body allowed the aesthetic its “imagined community,” and this community, with its origins in antiquity, was all over Europe and America.15

Page 134 →Sunday reading in the year of the Greeks There was, of course, a real Greece behind the modernists’ aesthetic, and that too was becoming increasingly visible. The year 1930 was the centenary of the independence of modern Greece, and its anniversary as a nation with deep, classical antecedents was celebrated internationally. Greece was, after all, Europe’s cradle. Even in New York, Greece was breakfast news. Readers of the New York Times, any time in the spring of 1930, could read

in one fulsome Sunday edition of the new art and the (new) antiquity. The February 16 Sunday edition, for example, features stories on two magnificent classical restorations: The Temple of Zeus at Pergamon and the Athenian Parthenon. In preparation for the anniversary of Greek independence, the Parthenon, the iconic showpiece of Athens, was undergoing a much-needed restoration, righting columns and restoring marble (“partially funded with American donations”). “Restoring the Glories of the Acropolis: The Parthenon Rises again after Centuries of Ruin,” was a two-page feature, with an abundance of photographs documenting its restoration. As if to compete in classical magnificence, a separate equally spacious feature in the same edition chronicled the reconstruction of the Temple of Zeus, installed in the New Museum in Berlin, and its centerpiece was the real (stolen) altar from the temple at Pergamon, and the scale of the project warranted a full feature article. Antiquity, it seemed, was rising again. Also that month, the great collection of Greek and Roman art, the Lansdowne Marbles, were cataloged, exhibited, and sold. In Greece, the first modern productions of ancient Greek tragedies returned to the ancient theater at Delphi, in the first modern Delphic Festival.16 In New York, one could not only read of the revived antiquity, one could book an affordable pleasure cruise to visit it, on either the Augustus or the Roma, both described as “luxurious as Caligula’s Pleasure Ship of 2,000 years ago.” The quarter-page ad, in the same February 16 Sunday Times, was captioned: “The Splendor of Ancient Rome sails the seas anew,” and its logo was an image of Caligula’s decadent barge. These two new installations in the imperial tradition (“the world’s largest motor ships”) boasted of having been constructed by the “descendants” of ancient Romans and would carry new luxury passengers back through the straits of Gibraltar to Naples to see the ruins of Pompeii.17 Or, if one could not travel to Greece and Rome to see the plays and the ruins, in the fall of 1930, ancient Greece came to New York. Mme. Marika Cotopouli carried her Athenian company of classical actors across the wine-dark sea and opened a season of Greek tragedies in New York: Antigone, Iphigenia, Oresteia, Medea, Hecuba. Cotopouli was herself met by the press as an ambassador from the Page 135 →past.18 She played the classical tragedies all through the winter in New York, with “authentic reproductions of early Greek costumes” and scenery modeled on classical sites. In the same February edition of the classical archeological restorations, Roman pleasure ships, and Greek productions, on both sides of the pond, John Martin, Times dance critic, who had just witnessed Martha Graham dance a program called “A Pagan Poem,” described the new dance in a feature article (“The Dance: A New Synthesis”) as another installment on the classical revival: this new dance of Wigman, Graham, and Duncan was “less a creation of something new than a recreation of something old; as old, in fact, as the orchestra of the Greeks.”19 The return to the Greeks was a theme Martin would play repeatedly that year of the Greeks. Writing in October, Martin would describe the new dance drama as a new theatrical art, a synthesis of dance, music, and poetry, as a “rebirthВ .В .В . in the same order and procession of germination that marked the development and emergence of the theater of the western world in the ancient culture of Greece.”20 Even to the casual reader in America, antiquity as a material, historical, and aesthetic force had returned. But 1930 also saw the first productions of classical drama in new classical spaces throughout Italy, under the fascist government’s reorganization of the National Institute for Ancient Drama. This amateur body, founded in 1914, underwent an “official recognition” in the spring of 1929, and, reconstituted as an official cultural program under Mussolini, the ideologies of the productions from 1930 on were no longer revivals of ancient traditions. Unlike their modernist counterparts who shared such spaces, the new fascist productions did not seek to escape time or inhabit a universal; but rather commandeer time and the classical past as part of their own expansionist agenda as hereditary domain.

Romanità Visiting Rome in 1935, American journalist Anne O’Hare McCormick wrote with great surprise of the new Rome under Mussolini, a Rome “in which the past is not only unearthed, magnificently framed, but used, made to work, tapped to feed the national pride and energies as literally the source of the Tiber and Arno are transmitted into electric power for modern industry.”21 This was a different antiquity; this topos was a raw source of power repurposed into a new potency. “Never

before has the modern Italian turned the pages of ancient history with so much pride as he does today,” reading, as he Page 136 →was encouraged to, the new history of the once-was-and-soon-to-be.22 Under the fascist government, antiquity was rechanneled, including its ancient sites, texts, and traditions, consumed with a new desire. Howsoever damning the fascist legacy may be, Benito Mussolini’s archaeological excavations were prolific, well funded, and resulted in a greater visibility for classical culture than at any period since the Risorgimento. Beyond the massive and internationally publicized restoration of Rome itself, excavations of classical sites were conducted from the Roman harbor of Ostia (1938–1942), to Tripoli in Libya (1928–1928), to Trieste (1928–1937) on the northern border, to Butrinto (1928–1936), just across the Straits of Corfu, all conducted under the direct oversight of Mussolini.23 Mussolini’s interest in antiquity arrived intact with his rise to public office. One of his clearest articulations of romanitГ occurred on December 31, 1925. “La Nueva Roma, ” the speech has come to be called, was delivered “as part of the installation ceremony of Rome’s first fascist governor, Fillipo Cremonesi.” Mussolini’s vision was a bold return to visibility of Rome’s past: Within five years Rome must strike all the nations of the world as a source of wonder: huge, wellorganized, powerful, as it was at the time of the Augustan Empire. You will continue to free the trunk of the great oak from everything that still clutters it. You will create spaces around the Theatre of Marcellus, the Capitol, the Pantheon. Everything that has grown up around these buildings during centuries of decadence must be removed. Within five years the mass of the Pantheon must be visible from the Piazza Collona through a large space. You will also free from parasitic and profane architectural accretions the majestic temples of Christian Rome. The millenary monuments of our history must loom large in requisite isolation.24 So it was spoken, so it was done. A vigorous excavation and restoration project was undertaken at the heart of classical Rome; tenements were pulled down, residents relocated, land cleared, and old monuments assumed new political voices, as they spoke openly of a past that was yet to be. Outside of Rome, Ostia, the downriver port, was excavated from 1938 to 1942, while the archaeology on more contested sites, like Trieste on the northern border, were used as markers of prior ownership, placeholders of the once-and-soon-to-be-again Rome. Trieste’s old city center and Slavic slums were pulled down, its residents evicted, and a new cittГ vecchia of Roman origins was exposed as part of the reinvention of the region. Trieste would now be “the bulwark of the new Italian empire” and “the bridgehead of Italy toward the East.”25 The amphitheaterPage 137 → in Trieste was reinaugurated to coincide with the bimillennium of Augustus, and the arrival in that now Italian city of Mussolini himself, in September 1938, solidified the notion that archaeology had little to do with the Roman past and everything to do with Italy’s future empire. Under Mussolini, the Roman theater of Sabratha, Libya, also rose again; though the site was less of an excavation than a reconstruction. An earthquake in 365 CE had folded over the scaenae frons, and the ensuing centuries used of the blocks what were portable and left the others to the sands. Giacomo Guidi, the superintendent of excavations and monuments in Tripoli, oversaw the painstaking process of reassembling the stones into a theater. As in Rome, as in Trieste, as in Brutinto, the excavations of Sabratha were concerned only with the Roman phase of the city’s long life, clearing away the Arabic strata, and ignoring its Punic foundations.26 The intention at each dig site was less an exercise in archaeology than a restoration of its Roman-ness. The massive theater at Sabratha, painstakingly reassembled, was reinaugurated on March 19, 1937, with a production of Oedipus (rendered “accessible to an audience of our era”), with Il Duce himself present.27 Under Mussolini, by the late 1930s nearly a dozen Roman theaters had been excavated and restored, and most had hosted revivals of classical plays: Sabratha, Ostia, Paestrum, Syracuse, Verona, Fiesole, Trieste, Taormina, Pola, Butrinto.28 This campaign for revivals was expressly fascist in policy as well as practice. The Nazionale del Dramma Antico, though founded as an amateur organization in 1914, was granted official recognition under the fascist government in March 1929, and once pressed into state service, its ideological stance was clearly articulated in its reconstituted by-laws (1929). “The Institute,” Mabel Berezin described, “viewed itself

in the avant-garde of a movement to use the glorious classical tradition and to recover the imperial heights of Greece and Rome.”29 This was a very different avant-garde, conservative, fascist, nationalistic, and one that looked behind to its classical past only as an agent of colonization. Ancient sites, and now ancient drama performed in ancient sites, represented a weaponization of classical theater. On the one front, the classical past was a playground for the modernists in dance in theater; on the other front, the staging of ancient plays and new Roman spectacles, like the Mostra Augustea della RomanitГ (1938) for the twothousand-year anniversary of the birthday of Augustus, or the recovery of many major Roman sites whose excavations were conducted during the 1930s, returned the notion of the elder empire to high visibility with a focused and fascist application. If visitors might, in Il Duce’s phrase, “bathe themselves in Romanita,” the submersion was intended to restore an awareness of Roman rights and to instill in the viewer a privileged position that Page 138 →derived its authority from antiquity.30 “Returning to where we already were” was the slogan popularized in press and postage stamps, and “where we already were” was now very visible. After the invasion of Ethiopia, it became increasingly apparent that excavations and occupation went hand in hand, that archaeology was really analogy. The elision between the archaeology and the exhibitionism of classical culture was closer than it may appear. The director of the Mostra Augustea, for example, Giulio Quirino Giglioli, would assume the publication of Ugolini’s research (Gilkes, 15). The conception of the Mostra Augustea was itself indebted to the earlier Mostra Archeologia, and it was conceived and organized by Italy’s leading archaeologist, Rodolfo Lanciani, a fascist apologist whose published works popularized the connection between the Augustan Roman and the modern Roman. Ancient and Modern Rome (1925) is a thoroughly lay text devoted to documenting the day-to-day pedestrian similarities between the classical and the contemporary Roman: The pavement we tread upon is the sameВ .В .В . the water with which we quench our thirsts is brought from the same mountain springs.В .В .В . We harbor our fleets in the same havens they founded in the deep sea; we seek health and rest at the same thermal establishments.В .В .В . I believe that a closer and more detailed comparison between ancient and modern municipal life and management, between ancient and modern Rome, is a subject well worth taking into consideration.31 And having considered the comparison, Lanciani found no end of similarities. Speaking, for example, of Italy in World War I, Lanciani carries the reader back to the Second Punic War, with Hannibal at the gates of Rome: “The similitude between the two anxious periods is so surprising, the behavior of the enemies so similar, the resistance of the defenders of their native land so indomitable on both occasions, their trust in the final victory so firm, that many events of which we were witnesses in the last European war, could be described with the same words which Livy used in the twenty second and twenty third books.”32 “Returning to where we already were” became a historic agenda as well as an archaeological one. And that notion was widely circulated. Lanciani’s publications, excavations, and exhibitions were all conceived as state-sponsored projects, with an expectation to write and publish the results and discoveries for a lay readership, an imperative that came directly from Il Duce.33 That past into which Mussolini reinserted Italy was a materially rich, historically superavailable site of Mediterranean power, and it was now anything but the past.

Page 139 →Intersections, collisions, and other classical casualties At the Third Congress for Dance, in Munich, Germany, 1930, Rudolf Laban cautioned against the misappropriation of the choral body into mass spectacle, and though he did not add (“in service to the state”), the state-sponsored choral body was on the horizon for many to see. Within three years, this caution would become the new face of antiquity. When Joseph Goebbels initiated the Ministry for the People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda in 1933, German dance fell squarely under his purview, including the modernist dance of the avant-garde, and the mass body would form an essential element in the grammar of fascist spectacle. Goebbels’s call for a new German art with the Volk at its center required and created a new mythology of mass bodies, one utterly unlike the Attic original Laban and Wigman had aspired to, but on a scale that would dislodge the choral body of the modernists.34 After the rise of the National Socialist Party, the Festkultur of Laban’s movement choir was increasingly replaced with the new community dance and mass spectacle of the Thingspiel. Greece receded and the militarized culture of German nationalism commandeered the vacancy. Of this

new genre, Buch and Worthen described it as a “loosely defined construct based on pseudo-historical categories, old national stereotypes, and a hodgepodge of terms designating вЂGerman’ in vague connection to dance.”35 This “didactic choral performance using speech choirs and mass movement” was the new Nazi installment on the choral body emptied of its mythic Attic origins.36 In a bid to replicate the charisma of the now absented antiquity, Thingspiel sites were constructed as vaguely Greekish small amphitheaters all across Germany where there were no prior classical sites (over forty of them were built in the first years of the National Socialist state, and hundreds more planned). Such sites, like the Thingspiel in St. Annaberg, with its rustic setting, natural inclination, and rock cliff scaenae frons, were new innovations on the landscape but sites clearly indebted to, and clearly plagiarizing, the absent historical arena of antiquity that had functioned as communal performance centers. Such sites seek to reauthor antiquity, inserting the new Volk culture into an ancient genealogy where no prior bloodline existed. Initially, Laban himself adjusted to the new and falsified genealogy, but his conception of the choral body collided with that of Goebbels, most famously in 1936, when Laban’s choral piece Of the Spring Wind and the New Joy, designed for the opening of the new Dietrich-Eckhard stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was canceled in dress rehearsal by Goebbels himself, and replaced with a Thingspiel titled Olympic Youth.37 Fig. 1. St. Annaberg Page 140 →The mass spectacle Laban had created for the inauguration of the open-air theater, with its chorus of one thousand dancers dressed in classical costumes, was Laban’s last stand for a modernist antiquity, and with its cancellation (“I forbid much of it,” wrote Goebbels, “it is all so intellectual”), the choral body was repurposed into the fascist body, a uniform, fabricated imagined community.38 “The banning of Laban’s dance,” wrote Carole Kew of the event, “signaled both his own fall in status and that of community dance.”39 Shortly afterward, Laban left Germany, and “the Olympic Youth” presented to the world the new National Socialist spectacle of the new mass men that were to be the new avant-garde, the militarized body-site of state-sponsored mass rallies. The following year, 1937, saw the last independent classical productions in the ancient theater sites and the first new fascist productions in Sabratha, Trieste—the colonized zones—as well as the classical programs run by the Instituto del Dramma Antica, by now a cultural office of the state, in Ostia and Taormina, under the direct patronage of Mussolini. One classical antiquity retired in favor of another, as if the two antiquities could never share the same spaces.40 Page 141 →Why they could not is not an original question, but one that has long troubled dance scholars. Mary Ann Santos Newhall, in an essay titled “Mass Movement and Modern Totalitarianism,” frankly posits: “How could modernist art co-exist, and indeed thrive, in companionship with Totalitarian ideologies?”41 In the end, they could not because they represented two fundamentally oppositional myths, one that evoked a mythic past to advance a present nation (in Germany and Italy) and one outside of both time and nation, and so the Attic myth of the timeless was retired out of time. Since Reinhardt’s Oedipus (1910), after nearly three decades of Greek choral bodies and classically inspired mass spectacles staged across Europe and the United States in dance, drama, and dance-drama, new works and classical revivals, the choral body had now been recalibrated from aesthetics to politics, and in that modulation the choral body stood in danger of losing its antiquity—certainly its unique eternity of that antiquity—and that new political topicality was very legible to the readers of modern performance. The reemergence of the choral body was a cornerstone of the new modern dance and the signature of the first modern directors. The evocation of a timeless world in sets, lights, costumes, and the choreography of the natural body was at the heart of the aesthetic of Reinhardt, of Wigman and Duncan, even of Yeats. But in the years immediately after the Third Congress, mass spectacles and the choral body did indeed become the spectacletext of fascism. What Germany created, Italy imitated, but because Italy’s antiquity was infinitely more material, more present, its displacement was all the more poignant. If one were looking for the pathos and bathos of the emptied avant-garde, of a form whose antiquity was repurposed to the new theatrical mission, one might find it in Rome in

May 1938, when Hitler himself arrived on a state visit that became “a spectacle to remember.” It was an intersection of sorts, not just of the two Axis powers, but also of the emergent and receded antiquities, and at no point were both more visible. “No reigning monarch of these days or of the past was ever received in a foreign country with such a pageant as the Italian Duce put on tonight for his colleague, the German Fuehrer.”42 The capital of the ancient world, now under modern floodlights, was both revealed and refashioned into something new and strange. When the chancellor emerged from a new train station (Roma Ostiense)—the cold and vaguely classical architecture that would dominate the EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma)—he traveled by motorcade up a new road (Via A. Hitler) that carried him through the heart of the newly restored and recovered Roman monuments, including the rows of stone maps that boasted Roman past and present conquests. The fГјhrer’s visit to Rome was celebrated with mass spectacles designed in his honor: civilian parades, folk parades, Page 142 →military dress parades, cavalry displays, choreographed motorcycles, motorized artillery reviews, airshows, and what was billed as “the largest open air concert in the world,” an event that closed with a company of Royal Carabineers “in ancient costumes”: the full display of the modernity and antiquity of Rome.43 The following day’s coup de théâtre was a thirty-five-thousand-strong rally of mass choral bodies that filled the Stadio Olimpico. It was, in essence, the dedication event of a stadium built in imitation of the Berlin stadium (as part of Rome’s bid to host the 1944 Olympics). In imitation of Goebbels’s Olympic Youth, now Italian cadets massed under dramatic lighting: “The show included massed formations of uniformed members of the Gioventu Italiana del Littorio forming a huge вЂM’ and then a swastika in the Olympic Stadium.”44 The now diluted aesthetic of antiquity, the communal choreography in the classical orchestra, and the Greek choral body had now become insignia of the state.

Notes 1.The fifth map was unveiled on October 28, 1936, the fourteenth anniversary of the march on Rome. “Thousands of Blackshirts cheered as a new black marble map, showing Ethiopia as part of the new Roman Empire, was cemented into the walls of the Basilica of Maxentius at the side of four others showing the territorial conquests of the ancient Roman Empire under the Caesars.” New York Times, October 29, 1936. 2.See, for example, Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); Borden Painter, Mussolini’s Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005). The studies are best summarized in Marla Stone’s enormously useful contribution “A Flexible Rome: Fascism and the Cult of RomanitГ ,” in Roman Presences, Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789–1945, ed. Catherine Edwards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 206. 3.For a brief of Duncan’s illustrative supporters, see Peter Kurth, Isadora: A Sensational Life (Boston: Little, Brown, 2001), 331. 4.Quoted in Ross Macdougall, Isadora: A Revolutionary in Art and Love (New York: T. Nelson and Sons, 1960), 152. 5.Christopher Innes, Edward Gordon Craig (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998), 118. 6.The truck and its role in rolling out the theater of the masses is the subject of Jeffrey T. Schnapp’s Staging Fascism: 18 BL and the Theater of Masses for Masses (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996). 7.John Martin, “Triumph in Dance by Mary Wigman,” New York Times, December 29, 1930. 8.John Martin logged in more than thirty years as dance critic for the Times, and much of his early work is a long and forceful defense of the new dance. See, for example, “The Dance: Group and Artist,” New York Times, May 25, 1930; August 23, 1930; September 28, 1930. Page 143 → 9.“The Renaissance of Greek Art” is how she was hailed in Paris. Isadora Duncan, My Life (Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishers, 1927), 67–68, 77. 10.Nurit Yaari traces Graham’s “Greek Cycle” in “Myth into Dance: Martha Graham’s Interpretation of the Classical Tradition,” International Journal of the Classical Tradition 10.2 (2003): 221–242. 11.John Chioles traces the twentieth century’s tradition of appropriating the classics for the avantgarde, from Reinhardt to Mnouchkine and Robert Wilson. See John Chioles, “The Oresteia and the

Avant-Garde: Three Decades of Discourse,” Performance Arts Journal 15.3 (1993): 2. 12.Manning, 30. 13.Quoted in Carole Kew, “From Weimar Movement Choir to Nazi Community Dance: The Rise and Fall of Laban’s Festkultur,” Dance Research 17.2 (1999): 77. 14.In America, Duncan’s schools were so successful her agent could claim without hyperbole that “Greek dance camps flourish in the Catskills.” Mary Desti, The Untold Story: The Life of Isadora Duncan, 1921–1927 (New York: Horace Liveright, 1929), 212. 15.For other, nonclassical attempts at the choral body, consider Percy Mackay’s lecture “Community Drama,” in which his association (attempted) was one of Christian neighborliness. Mackay, Community Drama: Its Motive and Method of Neighborliness (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1917). 16. New York Times, May 2, 1930. 17. New York Times, Sunday ed., February 16, 1930. 18.“Her trip from the far waters of the Aegean was regarded and still is by her countrymen as something in the way of a missionВ .В .В . her coming will increase the esteem in which America holds Greece.” “A Greek Bearing Gifts,” New York Times, December 21, 1930. 19.John Martin, New York Times, February 16, 1930. 20.John Martin, “The Dance: An Art Form,” New York Times, October 26, 1930. 21. New York Times, August 25, 1935. 22. New York Times, October 13, 1935. 23.The restoration of Augustan Rome by Mussolini is best traced by Borden Painter, Mussolini’s Rome. For the reclamation of Trieste, see Glenda Sluga, The Problem of Trieste and the Italo-Yugoslav Border (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001); Butrinto’s appeal to Rome lay in its “Trojan Connection,” as Luigi Ugolini, the archaeologist of the site, mapped out in his posthumous work, Butrinto, il mito de Enea, 1937, written at the request of Mussolini. On Ugolini, see Oliver Gilkes, “Luigi Maria Ugolini and the Italian Archaeological Mission to Albania,” in The Theatre at Brutint: Luigi Maria Ugolini’s Excavations at Butrint, 1928–1932, ed. Oliver Gilkes (Athens: British School at Athens, 2003), 15. 24.Benito Mussolini, Writings and Discourses (Milan: Ulrico Hoepli Editore 1926), vol. 5, 244–245. 25.Glenda Sluga, The Problem of Trieste and the Italo-Yugoslav Border (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 57. For the contested claims on Trieste, see Sluga, 54–58. 26.Ashleigh Raabe, “Imagining Roman-ness: A Study of the Theatre Reliefs of Sabratha,” MA thesis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2007, 11. 27.Schnapp, Staging Fascism, 126. 28.Schnapp, Staging Fascism, 23. For a summary of the 1930s productions, see Mario Corsi, Il Teatro All’aperto in Italia (Rome: Rizzoli, 1939). Page 144 → 29.Mabel Berezin, “Cultural Form and Political Meaning: State-Subsidized Theater, Ideology, and the Language of Style in Fascist Italy,” in Cultural Sociology, ed. Lyn Spillman (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 248. The use of “avant-garde” is directly from the statutes of the Institute, quoted in Berezin. For the repurposing of the Institute (“un nuovo e maggiore riconoscimento ufficiale”), see Corsi, Il Teatro All’aperto, 76. 30.Quoted in Joshua Arthurs, “(Re)Presenting Roman History in Italy, 1911–1955,” in Die Mostra Augustea della RomanitГ (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995), 18. 31.Rodolfo Lanciani, Ancient and Modern Rome (London: George Harrap, 1925), vi–vii. 32.Lanciani, Ancient and Modern Rome, 135. 33.Gilkes, The Theatre at Butrint, 15. 34.Goebbel’s initiatives and the new Deutsche Tanzfestspiele are chronicled in David Buch and Hana Worthen, “Ideology in Movement and a Movement in Ideology,” Theatre Journal 59.2 (2007): 215–239. 35.Buch and Worthen, “Ideology in Movement,” 222. 36.Carole Kew, “From Weimar Movement Choir to Nazi Community Dance: The Rise and Fall of Rudolf Laban’s Festkultur,” Journal of the Society of Dance Research 17.2 (1999): 87. 37.Kew, “Weimar Movement Choir,” 80–81. 38.Goebbels’s response to the piece is described in Evelyn Doerr, Rudolf Laban: The Dancer of the

Crystal (Toronto: Scarecrow Press, 2008), 166–167. 39.Kew, “Weimar Movement Choir,” 82. 40.For the Instituto del Dramma Antica, see Corsi, Il Teatro All’aperto, 76. For Taormina under Mussolini, see Corsi, 132. 41.Mary Ann Santos Newhall, “Mass Movement and Modern Totalitarianism,” Dance Research Journal 34.1 (2007): 27. 42.The visit was extensively covered by the New York Times, May 4, 1938, 1, 18; May 5, 1938, 1, 14; May 7, 1938, 1, 5. 43. New York Times, May 7, 1938 1. 44.Painter, Mussolini’s Rome, 122.

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Beijing, 2008 Katherine Profeta On 8/8/08 at 8:08 p.m. (a moment five times auspicious in Chinese numerology), under skies carefully cleared of rain by weather-modification rockets,1 renowned “fifth generation” film director Zhang Yimou called “action” on one of the largest, and certainly the most-watched, live mass spectacles of our era. These were the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which the Chinese leadership had been preparing since the moment the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing the games in 2001, and Zhang and his team2 had been crafting since 2006. Years of work culminated in a singular performance. During its hours of pageantry, mass scenes formed and reformed in perfect synchrony on the floor of the “Bird’s Nest” stadium, an innovative piece of architecture purpose-built for these games and further tailored for this evening. No less than fifteen thousand performers, a veritable “March of the Volunteers,”3 waited in massive tents outside the stadium, transported to and from the playing field as required. Their shifting human patterns, accentuated by lush costuming and the very latest in theatrical technology, were designed to convey five thousand years of Chinese history extending into a hopeful future. They were viewed by a live stadium crowd of approximately ninety-one thousand and a television audience in the billions. I come to this discussion of the Beijing opening ceremonies as one small member of that most massive group—those billions glued to screens across the globe, watching China’s performed self-definition, as presented by the Chinese state to audiences both internal and external. It is from my position first as a casual home viewer, immediately riveted by the experience, and subsequently as a performance scholar seeking to understand its resonances, that I approach this chapter. I will focus on this mass performance’s resonances for audiences both national and international, arguing that Beijing’s pageant episodes were notable in how they posed questions or offeredPage 146 → propositions about the relationship of the one to the many, the individual to the collective. One of the Chinese state’s express goals, as articulated by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), was to showcase China as a location for past, present, and future innovation.4 Subsequent publications outlining the considerable technical achievements of the evening—with its unprecedented achievements in stage machinery and multimedia (including a flexible LED screen longer than a football field) and scores of intricate costumes (including one thousand full-body suits that illuminated on cue) proved BOCOG’s point had been made: these ceremonies operated on the vanguard of stadium spectacle.5 Assessing the ceremonies’ political resonances is trickier. Undoubtedly, however, the ceremonies represented a vanguard of state authoritarianism—a vanguard deployed at a delicate moment when the Chinese government, on the heels of two decades of rapid and volatile development, was trying to both reaffirm its power at home and improve its image abroad. The ceremonies began by plunging the Beijing audience into darkness, soon broken by a noisy chain of fireworks leading from the upper rim of the Bird’s Nest down to the stadium floor. This quick fuse triggered the sound and sight of 2008 ancient Fou drums, each souped up with a LED frame that illuminated whenever its drumskin was touched. All 2008 flickered on and off in a chaotic shimmer as the 2008 male drummers beat a roll. Then, after a suspenseful pause in the dark again, the shimmer was replaced by an exactingly choreographed sequence. Each drum served as one pixel in a vast display, forming the numbers 60, then 50, then 40, shifting every ten seconds. After 10, the countdown appeared in both Chinese and Arabic numerals, now changing with immaculate precision every second. At “blastoff” the stadium roof went ablaze with fireworks, and announcers speaking French, English, and Chinese introduced the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the president of China. Now fully visible in their identical red and white costumes, the drummers chanted a phrase from Confucius, translated by NBC-TV as “To welcome friends from far away—isn’t that a good thing.”6

Through the rest of the routine, the precision of the drummers’ expanding hand, arm, and torso choreography combined with the staggering scale of their unison actions and the mounting rhythm of the drums to incite a passionate response in the stadium audience. After a pause to absorb the effect, one NBC-TV commentator quipped, “Both awe-inspiring and perhaps a little intimidating.”7 Fig. 2. Beijing Olympic Opening ceremonies, 2008 Page 147 →This forceful start was soon counterbalanced with an ethereal levitation of the interlocking Olympic Rings, composed of 45,000 individual LED lights, from the flat surface of the stadium floor into midair (accompanied by twenty flying female acrobats costumed as Buddhist apsaras). Then, after a prolonged salute to the Chinese flag, the evening revealed its two-part structure. The first half (“Splendid Civilization”) considered Chinese history through four world-changing Chinese inventions: gunpowder (as depicted via fireworks, not guns), paper, movable type, and the magnetic compass. The second half (“Extraordinary Times”)8 addressed a Chinese ideal present and future, including a hopeful vision of a peaceful and ecologically sustainable planet. Both halves played out with mass pageantry in multiple episodes, many to be described in more detail below. Finally, after the requisite Parade of Nations, with legions of international athletes at the peak of their training offering a far less disciplined version of mass presence, came the lighting of the Olympic torch by retired Chinese athlete Li Ning, lifted via wires high above the stadium. Each section of this display required both mastery of human resources, with choreographed casts of thousands, and the latest in theatrical technology, with precisely timed fireworks, bodies flown through the air, and stadium-scale video imagery. Page 148 →

Zhang Yimou A glance at director Zhang Yimou’s film career reveals both the narratives at work within his fictive worlds and the narrative at work within his own development as an artist, all of which resonate within the vast pageant of his opening ceremonies. Zhang’s early films, formative for the “fifth generation” of Chinese filmmakers, were both pictorially and politically innovative. They showcased lush, vivid cinematography and main characters who defied authority in what seemed like thinly veiled allegory for larger political dissent. For Western audiences who knew Zhang best for these subversive early films, which raked in international festival prizes in the decade after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, his selection as architect of the Chinese state’s 2008 calling-card performance might have seemed counterintuitive. Wasn’t this the same Zhang Yimou whose films had once been banned by his own government? Indeed, Chinese film scholars Chris Berry and Mary Farquhar describe in Zhang’s early films an allegorical drive to “kill the father . . . as a prerequisite for autonomy and a new national order,”9 which would seem grounds enough for state distrust. Zhang himself described his Raise the Red Lantern (1990)10 as a film steeped in “social symbolism.”11 Shot immediately after the Tiananmen Square uprising was quashed, the film used the narrative of a third wife trapped in patriarchal ritual to demonstrate how “amid these ceremonies of compulsory behavior, the individual is helpless.”12 And in 1993 Zhang asserted: “What I want to express is the Chinese people’s oppression and confinement, which has been going on for thousands of years.”13 This line of thinking led up to 1994’s To Live, which narrated the travails of a family swept up in four decades of unforgiving and tumultuous Chinese history, culminating with the Cultural Revolution—a subject Zhang knows from personal experience, having been sent to the country to work during those years because of his “bad” family background. Zhang suspected To Live would be censored and rebelliously screened it both in Beijing14 and at the Cannes Film Festival without receiving the Chinese Film Bureau’s prior approval. For this he drew the authorities’ wrath, but his fame was by then so great that they could not afford to keep him from filmmaking long. To Live is, however, still banned today in mainland China, and the Film Bureau instructed Zhang to stop making films with foreign funding. A closer look at Zhang’s career reveals that he has always engaged in a complex dance with the censors, and

reading his films in political terms can be a slippery business. For instance, 1992’s The Story of Qiu Ju, in which a contemporary peasant woman brings a suit higher and higher up the ladders Page 149 →of power, seeking redress for a village chief’s assault against her husband, has been seen in some instances as an indictment of rural poverty and tone-deaf bureaucracy. Others saw it as a positive spin on that same bureaucracy—which, after all, showed none of the more usual evidence of corruption, and granted an audience to a peasant in the first place. The latter interpretation seems to have been chosen by the Chinese Communist Party censors, who not only approved Qiu Ju for viewing by the Chinese people but simultaneously reversed course on Zhang’s earlier two films, allowing Ju Dou (1990) and Raise the Red Lantern to be screened for the first time. Li Ruihan, then the head of the Propaganda Ministry, lauded the film, suggesting it be not just permitted but advanced by the government.15 Two years later, To Live came out, and Zhang was in hot water once again. Some criticism of Zhang’s films, primarily coming from inside Chinese culture, notes how their lush visual surfaces display an imaginary Orientalist past for easy consumption by a Western audience. Certainly Zhang is, even for a director of an already visual medium, a highly visual artist. He began his career as a cinematographer, and he has always entertained his audiences with heightened color and texture. His visuality may be seen as a gift to the lovers of Orientalist spectacle, or a new iteration of homegrown Chinese traditions of spectacle—or at once both, insofar as the Orientalist gaze is found in the eye of the beholder. Yet Zhang was also taken to task for displaying an unseemly aspect of Chinese society to Western eyes—especially in those censored early works.16 In providing his non-Chinese audiences visions of a repressive feudal past or current-day poverty he thereby, it was feared, bolstered their sense of superiority. Zhang displayed all China to the world, just as he did his earlycareer leading actress Gong Li, as both abject and gorgeous. Zhang’s films have triggered multiple readings, inside China and out. He could be forgiven for concluding that the disparate voices cancel each other out, leaving behind the image of his films as brightly colored Rorschach blots, rich enough to be understood in multiple ways. This may in fact be true. However, there is one interpretation of his career path that is difficult to counter: as his fame and fortune has grown, he has increasingly worked in harmony with the Chinese state. Post-1994, when he was reprimanded for spurning authority with To Live, he has made films prolifically within governmental limits, and with governmental support. In interviews post-1994 Zhang is likely to defend this collusion by drawing a bright line between ideology and art, in statements such as: “The objective of any form of art cannot be political. В .В .В . I am not interested in politics.”17 Whether this is a sincerely held belief or a strategy for artistic survival is an open question, but certainly his conversion from parricide to favorite son is now complete. Page 150 →In fact, Zhang’s controversial Hero (2002), his first foray into the wuxia (martial art) genre, didn’t seem apolitical at all. It seemed an allegory for submission of individual will to the will of the state. Hero’s story begins when a warrior by the name of Nameless approaches the king of Qin. The former operates as an allegorical invitation to project one’s self onto the warrior hero—Nameless is a blank slate, an Everyman. The latter is a depiction of a historical third-century BC king who, as students of Chinese history well know, would go on to unify the warring states through bloody conquest and become China’s first emperor. Nameless tells the king he has defeated three warriors who were attempting regicide. This boast is then revealed, through a series of vividly color-coded flashbacks that revise the backstory several times over, to be a lie. Nameless is, in fact, a member of a rival kingdom whose parents have been slaughtered by the massive Qin army, and he has come to kill the king. I will return to the narrative and imagery of Hero later as a point of comparison in my reading of the iconography of the Olympic opening ceremonies, but in brief, Nameless chooses not to assassinate the king, despite a perfect opportunity. He abandons his project, and thus the wuxia code of honor, out of respect for a different principle planted in his mind by one of those defeated warriors—tian xia, literally “under heaven” or “all under heaven.”18 The figurative meaning of this centuries-old term is slippery, attaching to the Chinese land, the Chinese people, or even to the totality of creation beyond national boundaries.19 In all definitions, though, it uses the image of the overarching firmament to make the idealized unity of what lies below seem like a foregone conclusion. The film suggests that the king, once spared, will fulfill this predetermined unity through empire, ending the warring states period and thus protecting tian xia from further strife—never mind that the historical

third-century BC unification was achieved through great slaughter. As Xioaming Chen and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley put it, Zhang uses the concept of tian xia to “blend the tolerance of violence with a grand vision of peace.”20 They also point out that the popular Chinese phrase “Take tian xia as your responsibility” was a common patriotic exhortation in the 1980s, when Zhang was coming of age as a filmmaker. Hero’s disturbing political allegory triggered considerable discussion on blogs, in reviews, in journal articles, even spawning a conference and recent book. Not all the voices were detractors. Reviewers such as Charles Taylor stressed that “the film ends not in a surge of patriotic feeling but on a pronounced mournful note of contingency and skepticism”21 as Nameless is first executed in a hail of arrows for his initial intent, and then given a hero’s burial for his self-sacrifice. The king returns to his palace profoundly alone, forced “to live up to the ideology he so glibly spouts about sacrificing the happiness Page 151 →of the individual for the good of all.”22 In other words, favorable reviews gave Zhang credit for making the detractors’ critique of Qin authoritarianism implicit in the film—even if that critique amounted to little more than “It’s lonely at the top.” Other readings would not grant so much. They could not disregard the film’s clear implication that Nameless was a hero for sacrificing himself for “peace” when, in fact, a real peace was never on the menu. This point of view was best characterized by J. Hoberman, who called out the film’s “glorification of ruthless leadership and self-sacrifice on the altar of national greatness.”23 The actor who played Nameless, Hong Kong superstar Jet Li, casually corroborated this view in a prerelease interview: “The government will definitely like it. It’s a film that says country comes first, then city, then family.”24 Evans Chan, a Hong Kong filmmaker and critic, went further, placing Zhang in the equation by calling the film “a rallying cry for the populace to mute dissent, and to accept the ruthless flogging of the authoritarian, post-socialist capitalist machine that is spinning in full force, with Zhang himself as one of its most valuable export items.”25 Indeed Hero was political in another way, because of the spectacular gauntlet it threw down, wuxia-style, to Hollywood. It unseated Titanic as the most-viewed film within mainland China, brought in unprecedented millions in the worldwide non-US market, and, when finally released in the United States two years later (at the urging of Quentin Tarantino), hit number one at the box office.26 No wonder the Chinese government, with its aggressive plans for economic development, saw Zhang as worth keeping close. Those who still wonder why a film director, regardless of his now-close relationship to the state, would be Beijing’s natural choice for a live mass ceremony might consider Zhang’s proven skill at massing legions of extras on his film sets—to serve, for instance, as the thousand archers of the army of Qin. What’s more, since the largest mass of all would be the television audience, the BOCOG needed someone who would understand how to stage a live event for the benefit of a camera’s frame. Add to that the fact that Zhang had directed the 2001 promotional film that was a key component of Beijing’s successful bid for the Olympics, and had practiced on a few other live spectacles over the previous decade, and his selection to helm the opening ceremonies seems more like a foregone conclusion.

Opening Ceremonies As Erika Fischer-Lichte has made clear, Olympic opening ceremonies signal “a separation from everyday life, initiating the period of public liminality.”27 Page 152 →She amply quotes Pierre de Coubertin, the progenitor of the modern-day Olympics. Coubertin conceived of opening ceremonies as marking the start of a new religious ritual, a cult of athletic youth that would restore a sense of moral order lost to the masses in the mechanical age. Through the many agons of the events, and particularly through the games’ “excess of energy,”28 a sense of civic unity would be restored—never mind that the fact of competition relied on nationalistic distinctions. It is thus up to the opening ceremonies to usher in this period of energetic, embodied excess and religious fervor for unity-through-division. Coubertin’s first games took place in Athens in 1896; it wasn’t until the Los Angeles games of 1932 that the opening ceremonies took on their now-current double role: in addition to ushering viewers and participants

into the cult of athletic excess, they would also allow, and perhaps even require, the host country to construct its national identity in front of the rest of the world. These have been the stakes of opening ceremonies ever since, creating another imperative to excess, now not in athleticism but in politicized aesthetics.29 China, in these last decades increasingly conscious of its position in the eyes of the rest of the world, approached these ceremonies with high stakes—stakes that observers mirrored. In the prepared documentary that preceded the live ceremonies on U.S. television, the authoritative voice of NBC’s Tom Brokaw intoned hyperbolically: “This night may be the most significant one in modern Chinese history.”30 NBC commentator Bob Costas also noted that China budgeted about US $300 million for the 2008 opening night ceremonies, “ten times what Athens spent four years [before].”31 Zhang and the BOCOG knew that the opening ceremonies had to work for at least two different audiences—one national, one international.32 For the international audience, the evening’s dominant message was China as a location of historical innovation, with the implication that that tradition would only continue, and assurances that the peace and harmony of the planet were paramount concerns going forward. The four touted Chinese innovations ranged from the familiar (many world citizens have heard that the Chinese invented paper, and accept this narrative as true insofar as any “historical first” can be verified) to the less familiar (the Chinese invented movable type?). Zhang highlighted these inventions not just for what they brought to their native land, but for how they went on to shape world history (an irrefutable argument in the case of gunpowder, even though the primary means of gunpowder’s influence was neatly elided from the historical pageantry).33 The international audience was invited to read China not as strange or other, but as the source of a common heritage. For a culturally Chinese audience, the construction of national identity Page 153 →in the opening ceremony’s scenes was replete with more specific resonances that went beyond a basic cultural pride in achievement. Foremost was an embrace of Confucian imagery and references. Confucianism is social philosophy descending from the writings of fifth-century BC scholar Kong Zi, in English better known as Confucius. After his quote on welcoming friends served as the centerpiece of the Fou drumming episode, he made his next and most visible appearance, as befits a scholar, during the pageant honoring the invention of movable type. Next to a scaled-up collection of type blocks center stage (more about these later) stood a chorus of 810 men dressed identically as Confucian disciples, chanting excerpts from the philosopher’s Analects. Each man wore a lavish, flowing white robe and held a scroll of bamboo slats, the writing surface used in China before the invention of paper. Confucius’s teachings have traveled down through the centuries, interpreted variously along the way. But one of his most consistently understood principles is the imperative for loyalty—to parents and ancestors, to elder brothers, and to political rulers—as a prerequisite for a functioning society. Confucius’s optimal (and unmistakably patriarchal) family structure is mirrored in the larger structure of state governance. At the same time, Confucius has much to say about the ethical behavior, education, and self-discipline of those in positions of power. The nation is to be ruled through virtue. The trick is that Confucius, while providing a positive vision of the virtuous paternalistic ruler, behaving with benevolence toward his childlike subjects, offers no clear course of action for how the subject can properly determine whether a ruler is transgressing that code, or how to obtain redress if he is. As Arif Dirlik points out, many contrasting agendas have unfurled the banner of Confucianism throughout Chinese history. In fact, in the 1980s, it was more often used in an essentializing fashion by those outside East Asia, as they tried to grasp what was “different” about Asian society to explain the economic rise of the “Four Mini-Dragons” (which included Chinese-speaking Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, plus South Korea).34 But these days the Confucian banner is flown by the CCP itself, which has begun a state-sanctioned rehabilitation of the philosopher’s image.35 This is a big shift from the CCP of Mao Zedong, which had used Confucius to symbolize all that was backward in feudal Chinese culture, even staging mass public denunciations in the mid-1970s. Yet with the waning of Mao’s communist ideals, and China’s entrance into the global marketplace, the CCP seems to have found in Confucius a way to assert a new set of values that are neither Maoist nor Western. Thus has arisen a new campaign to promote him as a marker for what makes China uniquely China, as well as a

beacon for China’s future development on its Page 154 →own terms. The ceremonies are only one example of this initiative. Other examples include the many Confucius Institutes opened across the globe since 2004 to promote Chinese culture and improve China’s international image; a state-sponsored 2009 blockbuster film Confucius starring Hong Kong star Chow Yun-Fat; the creation of the embarrassingly unclaimed “Confucius Peace Prize” in 2010 to protest the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize’s award to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo; and an imposing sculpture of Confucius installed in 2011 on Tiananmen Square (though subsequently moved to a location less confrontational than Mao’s tomb).36 As the chorus of Confucian scholars entered the Bird’s Nest Stadium, a block of 897 square columns representing pieces of movable type rose up on a massive lift at the center of the stadium floor. Each piece then telescoped up and down in precise patterns, serving as bas-relief pixels to create shifting images of, for instance, water dropping into a pool, or the Great Wall. When the blocks rippled up and down, rather like a stand of grasses with wind blowing across them, NBC’s on-camera China analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo offered that many Chinese viewers would connect this image, via its accompanying chorus of scholars, to “one of Confucius’ most famous phrasesВ .В .В .В : вЂThe virtuous leader can pass across his subjects with the ease of the wind.’”37 When the blocks next resolved in a stable image of the Chinese character for “harmony” (he), this was neither purely a matter of Confucian history nor (as American audiences might have taken it), an inscription on a New Age paperweight. For the home audience it resonated more specifically with a recent and public CCP goal: to create a socialist “Harmonious Society” (Hexie Shehui, the first character of which is that same he) by the year 2020. In 2006, the same year intense planning for these ceremonies began, the CCP published a list of ten aspects of this goal; they included “protection for the rights of the people,” establishing more equitable “income distribution patterns,” and making improvements “to the condition of the natural environment.”38 In other words, the character he is wrapped up in the CCP’s public aspirations in response to its critics, and might resonate with a Chinese audience as a promise of progress toward ideals yet to be realized. And yet, the state deploys the word “harmony” in less self-critical moments too. In the months leading up to major events like the 2008 Olympics, or 2009’s sixtieth-anniversary celebration, security crackdowns triggered the arrests of citizens suspected of even minor dissent, justified by the need to create a “harmonious environment.”39 In these instances there were many Chinese citizens who did not feel their leaders interceding in their lives with anything like “the ease of the wind.” As in the film Hero, authority unleashes a specific violence for the sake of a generalized peace. Page 155 →The pageant scene celebrating the invention of the compass also held a more complex resonance for its Chinese audience than for its international one. Zhang staged it as a concomitant tribute to the fifteenth-century Ming dynasty mariner, Zheng He, who sailed the seas in search of far-off lands eighty-odd years before Columbus, reaching destinations in Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and Africa. Zhang showcased the explorer with 928 blue-clad men wielding painted oars over three times their height. The oars aligned to create images of Zheng’s fleet, or rowed to suggest a massive vessel around a single central figure dancing with a compass. Meanwhile, the projection screens at the top rim of the stadium pulsed with images of powerful blue waves from the open sea. For most of the international audience, the resonances of this episode were limited to a perhaps-surprising assertion of Chinese maritime innovation. (Their surprise should not necessarily come as a surprise, since the Ming emperor who sponsored Zheng’s fleet was succeeded by another who ordered the destruction of all oceangoing vessels, and thus Zheng’s tradition did not move forward.) But for an audience from within that culture, this episode held more nuance, claiming a Chinese tradition of trade and exploration as an indigenous model for globalization. Previous CCP promotion of Zheng’s story (which began in 2005, on the six hundredth anniversary of his initial trip) emphasized his peaceful explorations, making an explicit contrast to the European model of bloody conquest and colonialism.40 Thus the Zheng He section was meant to trigger a twofold sense of national pride—both “We did it first,” and “We did it peacefully.” The imagery was also in conversation with a Chinese self-image from back in 1988, when a popular TV program entitled River Elegy (He Shang) had stoked a national inferiority complex. River Elegy posited that the Chinese functioned as a landlocked nation and that the sludgy water of the Yellow River

symbolized all that was holding the country back, including Confucian tradition. As Rob Gifford describes it: The writers of River Elegy criticized everything about China’s “yellowness,” from the mythical Yellow Emperor of antiquity to the barren yellow earth of the loess plateau. Yellowness symbolized the backwardness of the country and its culture, especially its political culture. This they contrasted with “blueness,” symbolized by the clear ocean water, flowing from the West and bringing the much-needed science and democracy of the Ocean People to China. The film ended with the hope that the Yellow River would eventually flow out, mix with the blue ocean, and be transformed.41 Fig. 3. Beijing Olympic Opening ceremonies, 2008 Page 156 →To the extent that blue ocean represented global capitalism, that 1988 hope has come true. Indeed, the current Chinese phrase to convey “reaching out to the capitalist West and adopting the global market” is “plunging into the ocean” (xiahai).42 But when Zhang Yimou’s Zheng He plunged into the roiling blue sea, he did so as a carrier of centuries-old Chinese tradition, not in rejection of it. Although the dominant color of this episode was a rich azure blue, the accent color, found in the background of all the painted oars, was a bright yellow, unmixed.

Looking Up Understanding the Chinese political context at the moment of these ceremonies undoubtedly requires a willingness to travel “beyond left and right.” Within Chinese political conversations, characters denoting the left and right sides of the body are used to describe political stances, but that usage is complex. There was the old Left, which held to the values of Mao’s Zedong’s revolution, and the old Right, which was antirevolutionary. These days the more common Chinese terms are New Left and (to a lesser extent) New Right, and their reference is foremost economic. The New Right, representedPage 157 → by thinkers such as economist Zhang Weiying, has faith in the market economy and wants the state gradually to relinquish its power, slowly shrinking as the private sector takes control. The New Left, currently on the rise, is represented by thinkers such as intellectual historian Wang Hui (who is reluctant to claim the term “New Left,” finding it an awkward inheritance from the West, but grants that it “has probably come to stay”).43 Unlike the old Left, the New Left supports the entrance of China into the global marketplace; unlike the old Right, it doesn’t counter the party leadership as much as push for reforms within it. In broad strokes, the New Left seeks to correct for the excesses of market economy by keeping in place, restoring, or instituting measures to counter economic inequality, labor abuse, and environmental damage. Many see today’s PRC leadership as currently accommodating to the critiques of New Left intellectuals, aligning itself with their reformist concerns—for appearance’s sake at a minimum.44 Thus insofar as the PRC was founded on Communist principles, and insofar as it, after espousing a rightward turn economically (with Deng Xiaoping’s antiegalitarian “Some will get rich first”), may now be entertaining the correctives of the Chinese New Left, we might label it Left. But insofar as we also associate “Left” with the values of individual expression, generous human rights, and checks and balances on centralized power, we might assign the label “Right” to this one-party authoritarian state, and by extension, the performance it sponsored. Many Western eyes were quick to see the far-right specter of fascism behind Zhang’s mass choreographies—and not just for the goose-stepping escort of the Chinese flag by PLA soldiers early on in the evening. The entire event displayed a staggering, awe-inspiring, yet unnerving fascination with the mobilization of performers in exact, mechanical formation. Yet as Susan Sontag reminds us, when the masses are “made to take form, be design” in “grandiose and rigid patterns,” we are in aesthetic territory shared by both fascist and communist art.45 For many reasons, then, when considering the Beijing opening ceremonies, our convenient horizontal left-right spectrum curls and twists like a MЕЌbius strip. Viewing those goose-stepping PLA soldiers and highly disciplined masses, within a pageant designed to portray national identity in an international context, European-American viewers with their own sense of history would have had to try hard not to think of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Back in 1936, Hitler had been eager to use the

Olympic games to showcase Germany to the world as a nation both powerful and benign, and simultaneously confirm his own notions of Aryan perfection. The Germans did not deploy mass choreographies for their daytime opening ceremony, but they followed that ceremony with a nighttime festival, where they did. Olympic Youth, as it was Page 158 →titled, built on the National Socialists’ tradition of Thingspiel, or propagandist open-air performances with mass participation. It required the precision movements of more than ten thousand performers, all arrayed in single-gender groups, many of them children, viewed by approximately one hundred thousand spectators. The Olympic Youth pageant was not filmed for posterity, but the 1936 games were, famously, by state-sponsored filmographer Leni Riefenstahl. Olympia, the lyric documentary that resulted, defined the then-vanguard of film artistry (introducing the telephoto lens, underwater cameras, and a motorized camera speeding alongside sprinters—all techniques still in use in sports film today). Although Riefenstahl surely disappointed Hitler with her admiring portrayal of African American track star Jesse Owens’s wins, she more often rewarded her patron with sequences that unabashedly glorified Nazi power and ideology. Kimberly Jannarone, in her introduction to this volume, rightfully critiques Susan Sontag for interpreting the lifelong range of Riefenstahl’s oeuvre through a single lens of Nazi aesthetics, yet when Olympia, which came out in 1938, is viewed in light of its historical and material context, its aesthetic is manifestly more pointed than a beautiful formalism. Olympia’s opening sequence, featuring loinclothed Aryan pentathletes coming to life from Greek statues and exerting their prowess in slow motion, unmistakably served the Nazi narratives of historical legitimacy and racial preference. The innovative montage of the male diving competition bolstered a similar agenda near the end of the film. Body after young muscular body jumps and twists against the sky, and while initial shots disclose the imperfect splashes of body hitting water, gradually all consequences of gravity or fallible humanity are edited out, until and all that is left is Hitler’s minimally clothed Aryan ideal arcing across a sublime cloudscape.46 We look up in awe, and in so doing we may miss what Hitler is doing on the ground. Even before he took on the Olympic opening ceremonies, Zhang Yimou had already been dubbed “the closest thing to the Leni Riefenstahl of China” by critics who saw Hero as a capitulation to the Chinese state.47 Now Zhang the renowned state-sponsored filmmaker working on the Olympics, held next to Riefenstahl the renowned state-sponsored filmmaker working on the Olympics, unleashed repeated comparisons of the two artists in Western coverage of the Beijing ceremonies. The similarities are impossible to ignore, and yet to rest on that note seems too easy. Even in an increasingly interconnected world, to see the past of a different culture and continent in these ceremonies is to miss the specificity of these events in 2008 in Beijing, which may indeed have been unsettling for multiple viewers in multiple registers, but have little to do with the historical policies of the Third Reich. As Susan Page 159 →Manning exhorts us in her discussion of how the aesthetics of Weimar-era Ausdruckstanz—including, notably, Rudolf Laban’s mass movement choirs—were absorbed into Nazi era pageantry, we cannot be satisfied with explanations that posit either a perfect alignment or a perfect separation between ideology and form. Instead, we must look more closely to identify how the relation between ideology and form shifts, over time, in different contexts, and according to the understandings of different viewers.48 Though some Western eyes may have been quick to see Nazi aesthetics, other eyes looking for aesthetic influences from outside China would find an example much closer at hand. North Korea has, since 1946, regularly staged elaborate “mass games,” with single-gender casts in the thousands performing synchronized gymnastics and martial arts in homage to their leader. In doing so, they are part of a common lineage of collective gymnastics that extends from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European nationalist movements.49В It is difficult to confirm, but one likely path for this legacy traveled through the Soviets, and Mao’s China, to North Korea. To this tradition of collective gymnastics on the field, Pyongyang adds stands of children sitting thousandfold, each with a large book of colored cards, which they flip through in perfect unison, each page serving as a low-tech pixel in a vast socialist-realist poster. In 2002, 2005, and then annually from 2007 to the present, the North Korean state has presented the even larger Arirang Festival, using over one hundred thousand performers to enact the story of the country’s inception through to its glorious future. With Arirang the government, for the first time, invited foreign tourists and diplomats into the ordinarily closed-off country to witness its aggrandized self-assessment. Suk-Young Kim points

out that “the gargantuan scale of the Arirang Festival becomes quite fascinating for the lack of enough spectators to enjoy the event”50—the act of disciplining the hundred thousand participant bodies is its main point, and thus the performers will always outweigh any collection of foreign visitors the North Koreans can assemble. The occasion of an Olympic opening ceremony, however, presents an opportunity to devise a mass spectacle with a mass audience to match. Zhang Yimou was not necessarily one of those foreign visitors to the Arirang games, but the North Korean mass games are well known in China, and the aesthetic overlap is visibly clear. Jennifer Wen Ma, a video and installation artist and member of Zhang’s core creative team, had this to say: Originally the Chinese taught the North Koreans the mass in unison method back in the 50s. However over the years, as China experienced Page 160 →more democratization and individualism, our skills have slipped. Whereas North Korea’s iron hand of rule has persisted. So nowadays, China often hires North Korean directors to come train our actors to get to that level of precision.В .В .В . [The core creative team] recognized that it would most likely be the last time that China could pull off something like this. If, in 10 or 20 years time, another Chinese city were to host the games, it would be very difficult to achieve, just because of the trajectory that our country is on. The era of mass movements in unison is coming to an end. So in a way, it was our opportunity to mark the end of an era.51 It was also an opportunity to define the nation in the midst of transition. Ma’s comments capture an odd moment in the midst of that transition—one where it is possible to feel an ambivalent nostalgia toward a phenomenon that one is still actively deploying. After Zhang’s narrative through the benign aspects of Chinese history and the idealized present was complete, after NBC’s color commentary was over, and after the bootleg copies of the ceremony had sprung up overnight on the streets of my neighborhood, sold by proud Chinese immigrants to other proud Chinese immigrants, another narrative of the Beijing opening ceremonies emerged in the Western press. This narrative was structured around a series of revelations, secrets ferreted out by the inquiring minds of Western reporters in the weeks following 8/8/08. The major ones were, in brief: The young girl who sang the “Ode to the Motherland” was actually lip-synching to a track of the song as sung by the originally chosen girl, who CCP officials had deemed not pretty enough to represent China. In the ceremony’s initial fireworks, the first twenty-eight of a series of twenty-nine footprintshaped aerial explosions walking across the sky to the Bird’s Nest stadium were faked via computer animation for TV audiences (and displayed on stadium screens for the live audience). The fifty-six children who handed off the Chinese flag to the goose-stepping soldiers, advertised as coming from the fifty-six recognized ethnic minorities of China, were revealed to be, in fact, Han (majority) Chinese children, decked out in ethnic costume. The dancer who danced elegantly on an elevated platform supported on poles held by many men below was actually the understudy.Page 161 → The dancer who had originally won the role, Liu Yan, fell off the platform during rehearsal and was paralyzed for life; CCP officials decided to conceal this information from the public until after the opening ceremony was over. I am ambivalent about the value of these revealed facts, which got so much airtime in the Western world they smacked of gleeful retaliation. Moral indignation over false pretenses seems misplaced when responding to a theatrical performance. And yet the particular theatrical illusions that Zhang and the CCP fostered are useful tells, insofar as they reveal the priorities of the spectacle-makers. The fireworks incident makes it abundantly clear that the real audience for the event was the many billions watching on TV, and the 91,000 spectators in Beijing were

only so many more extras on Zhang’s massive movie set (a point that New Yorker critic Anthony Lane made even clearer when he reported on the highly involved audience-participation props and instructions given to the stadium audience before the start of the show).52 The faux-minority incident confirms what many already know, that the CCP has no meaningful contact with the communities represented, such that it is much easier to cast Han children than to locate actual minority children to make their statement about unity-in-diversity. In the case of the dancer’s tragic incident, it is tempting to wonder if her role as one of the very few soloists within a choreography otherwise focused on mobilization of masses didn’t leave her particularly vulnerable to the kind of oversight that allows accidents to happen. This interpretation, however, takes her fall as a metaphor for the fate of Chinese individual expression, when it was much more crucially a literal fall of a literal body to earth. Zhang’s early, censored films had focused on the tragic falls of individuals caught up in mass movements much larger than themselves. Now with his Beijing ceremonies, just as in his film Hero, he offered the flip side of the same story—an aesthetic of individual subjugation to a larger whole. This subjugation doesn’t have to feel unpleasant: these mass formations in motion offer what William McNeill terms “muscular bonding” that “smooths out frictions and consolidates fellow-feeling,”53 and what Susan Sontag calls the “dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community.”54 What’s more, some of these sensations were available vicariously to those who took part by sitting in the stadium or in front of television sets and laptops. I doubt even the most critical observer of these Opening Ceremonies was able to remain 100 percent critical, 100 percent of the time. Despite their disturbing militarism, their frequent kitsch, and their blatant ulterior motives, Zhang’s ceremonies did deliver awe. Zhang delivered, through use of Page 162 →sheer numbers and scale if nothing else, an encounter with the sublime. And as performance scholars perhaps we can’t help but be particularly impressed by the harnessing of so many resources (human, artistic, technological, financial) to the impermanence of the live event—a grand expenditure at the altar of evanescence. Karen Fricker, writing in the back pages of Contemporary Theatre Review, framed her appreciation as the confession of a “dirty, spectacleloving secret,” reporting she was “glued to the box watching the opening ceremoniesВ .В .В . and (I’ll admit it) crying, laughing, oohing and aahing—and sometimes gasping out loud in wonder.”55 In mass gatherings with more revolutionary aims—for an American example, consider the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington—the physical presence of so many bodies represents the surpassing of a certain threshold of individual devotion, a devotion that surpasses the level of effort required to interrupt one’s regularly scheduled life, afford a bus ticket or beg a ride, and be present. In mass choreographies like Olympic opening ceremonies, corporeal presence is instead an index of the power of the state to amass bodies and synchronize them with much greater exactitude. Participants may feel an honest devotion and pride as well, and this cannot be ignored or taken away from them. Yet neither can their pride be completely untangled from the state incentives, or avoidance of state disincentives, that come with participation. The relationship of the individual to the group was rehearsed over and over, with various permutations and resonances, through these ceremonies. This was the main conversation that Zhang (and through him, the Chinese state) was having—first with himself, then with the Chinese people, and lastly in front of the billions of world viewers. It was a dialogue, and dialectic, of individualism set against mass self-surrender. The opening ceremonies capture China in a moment of cultural transition, from a past of imposed uniformity to a future the nation has yet to define, and thus they capture the question of that relationship being explored. How radically it could be explored is another matter. Zhang most clearly proposed it in the episode of the dancer with extended silken sleeves, dancing a Dunhuang dance56 on top of the platform supported by poles held by 168 men. The intended imagery—setting aside for a moment the tragic accident—was clear. The many support the one. Or, as Ramo glossed for NBC: “Great individual accomplishments rely on much more than the one above.”57 The lingering questions are at least twofold: one, how does this image propose that the collective select and advance the one who dances above? (In terms of the Chinese political system, the answer is clearly not “by voting.”) And two, what happens to the one who dances above after the moment of performance is over? Is that individual reabsorbed into the collective, and if so, at what cost? Fig. 4. Beijing Olympic Opening ceremonies, 2008

Page 163 →This is where a reading of the ceremonies’ imagery against the imagery of Hero may be useful. Through its use of the wuxia genre, Zhang’s 2004 film completely participated in the fantasy of individual exceptionalism. The wuxia warriors are each defined by their hallmark weapon and unique fighting technique. Nameless has a long blade with a distinctive split center and owns the “death at ten paces” move; the young apprentice Moon is expert at wielding two crescent-shaped daggers. Their fighting also defies all sense of gravity, as wuxia choreography requires acrobatic stunts by actors flying high on wires (carefully removed from the image in postproduction).These highly particularized individuals, with powers that extend from that particularity, and onto whom the viewer projects his or her own fantasy self, triumph not just over single rivals but over a massed collective. The female warrior Flying Snow, wearing a costume with extended silken sleeves analogous to the Dunhuang dancer atop the platform, spins to deflect the arrows of the three thousand archers of Qin in a whirl of textile; later she advances up the palace steps single-handedly countering the attacks of hundreds. Nameless does the same. But at the end of the film, Nameless refuses to use his individual powers and instead, in service to the collective, to tian xia, allows three thousand arrows to pierce his flesh. In this way, the film Hero vividly evokes, and then just as vividly revokes, that fantasy of individual exceptionalism. If we apply Hero’s Page 164 →narrative to the image of the dancer who dances above to symbolize “great individual accomplishments,” we must wonder if that collective below truly supports her, or if it will demand a later price. At the close of the second half of the ceremonies, the tension between individual and collective crystallized yet again. Singers Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman crooned from atop a vast suspended globe, around which acrobats on wires turned handsprings at all major lines of latitude. To this energetic vision of the planet were added 2008 female performers, stealthily assembling on the field below. Identically clad in white coats and boots, they each held an umbrella, and at a chosen moment opened them in unison to reveal headshots of 2008 racially diverse mixed-gender children, all smiling. The intended message was clear: masses are made up of highly specific individuals. That message is not new to the Chinese artistic tradition—for instance, the eight thousand terra cotta soldiers constructed in the third-century BC for the tomb of the first emperor of China (in other words for that same king of Qin, replicating that same massive army depicted in Hero) were fabricated with eight thousand individually specific faces. Now, in the ceremonies’ “Smiling Faces” episode, these markers of individuality were scaled up to the size of an umbrella, all the better to be legible at stadium scale. But the question remains, how to reconcile a message of respect for individual difference with the lived experience of 2008 women who dress in identical costume, march out on to the field, and open their umbrellas in perfect unison? Is the message the message, or is the medium the message? From what springs the need, in a display such as Beijing’s, for quite so massive a gathering of performers? Since up-to-date technology was harnessed for aspects of the event, and since the largest intended audience was not live, why bother with quite so many troublesome real bodies? The answer to this question may be found by taking another look at the episode celebrating China’s invention of movable type. After the 897 type blocks had cycled through their depictions of the wind, the character for harmony (he), and the Great Wall of China, the tops sprang off the columns, and 897 enthusiastic human operators stuck out their torsos and waved at the crowd, revealing that this mechanical precision had been achieved via humans, not machines. (So much for Coubertin’s hope that Olympic ritual would deliver the masses from the insults of mechanization.) Here live bodies became the punch line for a sight gag whose message was, “We could have done this the easy way, but instead we did it the hard way.” Technology is meant to save human effort; mass displays like this happen when instead their creators want to demonstrate an overflowing excess of human effort, a glimpse of potential energy that could be harnessed for anything.Page 165 → The same effect is created with the PLA’s goose-stepping, a fundamentally impractical military step designed to showcase the excess energy well-disciplined soldiers hold in reserve. Anthony Lane parsed the first scene of the ceremonies, with those 2008 Fou drummers pounding ancient ritual bass drums, as “an unspoken suggestion that it would be an extremely bad idea to go to war against this nation.”58 However, China’s current position in the world involves the flexing of much more economic than military muscle. Ultimately, it seems more appropriate to read this excess energy as potential workforce than potential cannon-fodder. Siegfried Kracauer once read the legs of the Tiller girls’ chorus line as the hands of an

assembly line; here again the arrangements of “mass ornament” stand in nicely for the mass choreographies of commodity production.59 As many a Western CEO knows well, the potential workforce on display in the Beijing opening ceremonies is accorded far fewer labor protections than the Western masses. It’s not difficult to make the connection from the 897 disciplined and precise performers of the movable type episode to the 230,000 disciplined and precise workers at a company like FoxConn, where, among other products, iPhones are famously assembled—not by machines, but by hand.60 FoxConn’s massive Shenzen plant daily mobilizes workers in its own mass performance, a performance to impress entrepreneurial audiences worldwide. As the New York Times has reported, Steve Jobs once explained to President Obama that iPhone manufacturing jobs would not come back to the United States, not just because Chinese labor is cheaper, but because it is currently more flexible, diligent, skilled, fast, and able to operate on a larger scale.61 The example provided by the Times article was of FoxConn’s ability to suddenly wake eight thousand workers, sleeping onsite in crowded factory dorms, to start a twelve-hour shift in the middle of the night when a new parts shipment arrived.62 But this impressive mass flexibility, diligence, and speed comes with great human cost. This pool of workers has experienced severe repetitive stress injuries, toxic exposure, inhuman working hours, and in 2010 a wave of worker suicides, against which FoxConn installed safety nets on their buildings—literal nets to catch literal bodies, instead of the social safety nets more urgently required. Those 2008 women holding their identical parasols with images of individualized smiling children are those thousands of women at FoxConn, who sit assembling iPhone screens in perfect silence, making a repetitive series of uniform gestures, so that in locations from New York to Paris to Shanghai a middle-class consumer can upload an individual photo of his or her own smiling child to that phone’s desktop. Steve Jobs’s ideal products are shiny minimalist canvases for the masses, each individual member of which is exhortedPage 166 → to “think different,” and sold on the idea that their purchase will enable this individual expression. It’s worth wondering how individual these consumer masses really are—there’s certainly another kind of dystopia to be found in the mass of Western consumers asserting their self-involved uniqueness in predictably similar ways. Yet that experience still allows for more differentiation than the mass experience of the factory workers who assemble those tiny canvases for self-expression—silently, repetitively, in shifts of twelve hours or longer. We might assume that the skills and abuses of the current Chinese workforce were just a subtext to the evening’s mass synchrony, but in the week after the successful ceremony, director Zhang Yimou spoke that subtext aloud. In an interview given to the Chinese paper Southern Weekend and subsequently translated into English by the web-only Chinese Digital Times, Zhang asserted: I often joke with [foreign reporters] and say that our human performance is number two in the world. Number one is North Korea. Their performances can be so uniform! This kind of uniformity brings beauty.В .В .В . We [Chinese] can make our human performance reach such a level, through hard and smart work. This many foreigners cannot achieve. I have conducted [sic] operas in the West. It was so troublesome. They only work four and a half days each week. Everyday there are two coffee breaks. There cannot be any discomfort, because of human rights. This can really worry me to death. Wow, one week, I thought I should have rehearsed it very smoothly already, but they could not even stand in straight lines yet. You could not criticize them either. They all belong to some organizations.В .В .В . They have all kind of institutions, unions. We do not have that. We can work very hard, can withstand lots of bitterness. We can achieve in one week what they can achieve in one month. Therefore our actors can give such a high quality performance. I think other than North Korea, no other country can achieve this in the world.63 Zhang was certainly aware, as his “joke” nod reveals, of the irony of holding up uniformly repressive North Korea as a paragon of anything other than mass performance. Yet his tongue-in-cheek reference still conveys a more sincere set of assumptions about the basis on which the comparison can be made. Foremost is the

assumption that “uniformity brings beauty.” In fact, Page 167 →other standards of choreographic beauty for massed bodies exist, most recently including models of higher complexity like those found in on the “flocking” behavior of animals. Yet in Zhang’s view, the Chinese and North Koreans are unique in the world for their ability to “withstand bitterness,” and bitterness remains the currency with which one purchases a uniform standard, the highest aesthetic goal. The Beijing opening ceremonies concluded with the torch relay, in which seven successive earthbound Chinese athletes handed off the torch to ex-Olympic gymnast Li Ning, who then rose high into the air to stride like a wuxia star around the membrane at the top edge of the stadium. As he ran, video images of the worldwide torch relay faded up under his feet, signaling that here again was one held aloft by many. Li finished the lap by extending his torch to a fuse, which curled up the side of an elevated Olympic cauldron. Just as Riefenstahl did with her diving sequence, Zhang crafted a final image that had its audience gazing upward in wonder, at a single human form outlined against the sky—that unifying firmament of tian xia—all the better to avoid thinking about the human cost on the ground. Yet, once again, it couldn’t really be the specter of Hitler and his eugenic ideal that lurked behind these spectacular ceremonies. What beautiful ideal, exactly, was this audience being asked to gaze upward at? Were these bodies put through their unison paces by the national ideal of a Harmonious Society (Hexie Shehui)? If so, which version was that—the harmony of the state’s self-critiquing promise of future reform, or the harmony it uses to justify the continued reality of authoritarian intercession in its citizens’ lives? Or, perhaps the nation is not the real driving force, not any more. These days, aren’t these bodies more often disciplined by the ideal of Steve Jobs’s pretty, pretty iPhone—as well as all the other consumer technology of which it is just a particularly shining example—and the transnational business deals that drive the production of mass consumer goods? The state’s role is transitioning, but is that transition just from being the patriarch of one kind of authoritarianism to the pander for another? When reading the opening ceremonies of 2008, we should be wary of finding too-convenient enemies behind the mobilization of bodies in mass unison, especially when the collaboration between the Chinese state and transnational capitalism has arguably created, in the last decade, the mass “performance” of lifting tens of millions out of abject poverty. But we should absolutely be asking questions about how this has been is done, and at what cost, and with what assumptions. These ceremonies may indeed have been a farewell to one era of mass unison movement. The question is, what new era of mass experience were they ushering in? Page 168 →

Notes 1.The alteration of the weather was reported by Xinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the PRC: “Beijing Disperses Rain to Dry Olympic Night,” August 9, 2008, accessed at–08/09/content_9079637.htm on May 15, 2010. 2.The Olympics organizers cherry-picked the ceremonies’ creative team from teams that had been proposed in different bids. Thus Zhang led a team that was not entirely of his own choosing. The seven members of his core team were choreographers Zhang Jigang (director of the People’s Liberation Army Song and Dance Ensemble) and Chen Weiya (deputy director of the Chinese National Song and Dance Theatre), contemporary pyrotechnical artist Cai Guo-quiang, stage designer Fan Yue, theater director Wang Chaoge, and visual artist Jennifer Wen Ma. Zhang then invited international artists to fill particular roles, including British architect / event designer Mark Fisher, German video designer Andree Verleger, and Japanese costume designer Eiko Ishioka. 3.“March of the Volunteers” is the title of the Chinese National Anthem. In fact, just six thousand of those participating were volunteers in the usual sense—which is not to say that there weren’t incentives for participation. The other nine thousand were drawn from the Chinese military. 4.See, for instance, the press release detailing the development of the opening ceremonies on the website of

Mark Fisher, the British scenic artist who served as the director of production design under Zhang’s core creative team. Mark Fisher, “Press Release: Opening Ceremony,” /beijing-2008-olympics/opening-ceremony/press-and-credits-2.html, accessed February 16, 2012. 5.See, for instance, coverage of the ceremony’s scenic, video, rigging, and lighting innovations in a technical stage design journal: Ellen Lampert-GrГ©aux, “Going for the Gold,” LiveDesign 42.9 (September 2008): 24–32. 6.From live TV coverage as subsequently edited and released on Beijing 2008: Complete Opening Ceremony (DVD). NBC Universal and International Olympic Committee, 2008. 7. Beijing 2008: Complete Opening Ceremony. 8.For the names assigned to the two sections, see Lampert-GrГ©aux, “Going for the Gold.” 9.Chris Berry and Mary Farquhar, China on Screen: Cinema and Nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 159. Berry and Farquhar were not the first ones to comment on this. Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu develops this view in his “National Cinema, Cultural Critique, Transnational Capital: The Films of Zhang Yimou,” in Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender, ed. Sheldon Hsiaopeng Lu (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), 105–136. In doing so, he paraphrases the argument of Dai Jinhua, who has identified Oedipal themes in the work of many of the fifth-generation filmmakers, who “spent their youth during the Cultural Revolution and grew up in the symbolic and linguistic order of the Father.” Lu, characterizing Dai’s Chinese-language argument in Dianying lilun yu piping shouce (Beijing: Kexue jishu wenzioan chubanshe, 1993), 112. 10.Film dates of Zhang’s work are inconsistent across different publications, likely due to the difference between release dates inside and outside of China. For consistency’s sake, I use the dates provided by Berry and Farquhar in their appendix to China on Screen. Page 169 → 11.Zhang Yimou in Michael Berry, Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 130. 12.Zhang, interview in Berry, Speaking in Images. 13.Zhang Yimou, in a 1993 interview with Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang, reprinted as “Of Gender, State, Censorship, and Overseas Capital: An Interview with Chinese Director Zhang Yimou,” in Zhang Yimou: Interviews, ed. Frances Gateward (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001), 38. 14.Zhang Yimou, in an interview from Southern Daily on November 24, 2001, translated into English and posted on Accessed January 30, 2012. 15.Yang, introduction to “Of Gender, State, Censorship,” 37. 16.See, for instance, Lu’s summary of selected Chinese criticism of Zhang in his “National Cinema,” 128–129. 17.Zhang Yimou in Bert Cardullo, “Beyond the Fifth Generation: An Interview with Zhang Yimou,” Bright Lights Film Journal 58 (November 2007). Accessed at /58zhangiv.php on January 31, 2012. 18.In the English subtitles of the film, this phrase is rendered “Our Land”—an inaccurate translation that may well evoke the nationalistic implications of the term but misses both its ambiguity and its heavenly justification. Perhaps the most resonant translation for an American audience would have been “One Nation under God,” but this would have problematic in another way, for its religious context. Note for non-Chinese speakers who might be tempted to extend the argument: the syllable xia in the two phrases wuxia and tian xia does not come from the same Chinese character, nor is it pronounced with the same tone. 19.Xiaoming Chen and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley, “On tian xia (вЂAll under Heaven’) in Zhang Yimou’s Hero,” in Global Chinese Cinema: The Culture and Politics of “Hero”, ed. Gary D. Rawnsley and Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley (New York: Routledge, 2010), 78–89. 20.Chen and Rawnsley, “On tian xia,” 82. 21.Charles Taylor, “Hero” (review), Salon, August 27, 2004. /hero_2/, accessed February 2, 2012. 22.Taylor, “Hero.” 23.J. Hoberman, “Man with No Name Tells a Story of Heroics, Color Coordination” (review), Village Voice, August 17, 2004.–08–17/film/man-with-no-nametells-a-story-of-heroics-color-coordination/, accessed February 2, 2012.

24.Jet Li as interviewed by Stephen Short and Susan Jakes. “Violence Doesn’t Solve Anything, ” Time, January 21, 2001.,9171,1962254,00.html, accessed February 13, 2012. 25.Evans Chan, “Zhang Yimou’s Hero and the Temptations of Fascism,” Film International 8.2 (2004): 21. 26.Berry and Farquhar, China on Screen, 211. 27.Erika Fischer-Lichte, Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre (New York: Routledge, 2005), 76. 28.Fischer-Lichte (paraphrasing Coubertin), Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual, 81. 29.Fischer-Lichte cites the Los Angeles 1932 games as the first opening ceremony that explicitly included the performance of national identity (78). Interestingly, Karen Fricker, writing for the back pages of Contemporary Theatre Review 19.1, 2009 (“Footprints in the Page 170 →Sky,” 126–129), cites the Los Angeles 1984 games as the moment when the opening ceremony arms race, by which each host country strives to outdo the previous in terms of spectacular depiction of national identity, hit its current fever pitch. 30.Live TV coverage as edited and released on Beijing 2008: Complete Opening Ceremony. 31. Beijing 2008: Complete Opening Ceremony. 32.Interview with Jennifer Wen Ma, member of ceremonies’ core creative team, February 14, 2012. In this conversation, Ma also clarified the nature of the TV coverage of the live event, which, interestingly, broke down the audience a little differently—into American versus non-American viewers. There were exactly two television feeds coming out of the Bird’s Nest stadium that night, one from Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB), and the other from NBC TV. It was the BOB feed that was sold internationally, including to China’s own CCTV; the NBC TV feed that Americans saw was broadcast only in the United States. As a result of the amount of money NBC had paid the IOC for U.S. broadcast rights, NBC was allowed to bring extra cameras to supplement the BOB cameras, and thus could provide more nuanced coverage. NBC, with its broadcast delay, also saw fit to edit out one mass episode from the ceremonies, an episode that the rest of the world saw. Thus while I will speak primarily of viewing these ceremonies from inside vs. outside China, the main opposition in the global TV coverage was viewing from inside vs. outside the United States. 33.In a press release on his studio website, British stage designer Mark Fisher shares an inside story about an abandoned attempt to acknowledge this aspect: “An artistic segment incorporating one of Cai GuoQiang’s firework paintings was proposed for a scene that reflected on the atrocities of war and revolution. The scene was based on Picasso’s Guernica: the outline of the painting would be traced on the surface of the LED screen with gunpowder, burned to create the drawing, and then cleaned off in an interactive video performance to create a field of flowers as the residue was washed away. After many months of deliberation the segment was abandoned because it did not sit easily within the celebratory dynamic of the show” (Fisher, “Press Release: Opening Ceremony”). In coverage by the Sunday Times, Fisher added: “You’ve got a huge TV audience, all sitting there with their remote controls—and you think about that when you’re doing a show like this. You think вЂHang on, if we really do this—even if it’s only for a minute-and-a-half—are we going to lose half of middle America?’ And the answer is probably вЂYes.’ The purpose of the Olympic ceremony in the end is not to launder the dirty washing of the country that’s putting on the event; it’s to celebrate the positive things about the country.” Dipesh Gadher, “China Glosses Over Dark Past at Opening Ceremony,” Sunday Times, August 10, 2008. 34.Arif Dirlik, “Confucius in the Borderlands: Global Capitalism and the Reinvention of Confucianism, ” Boundary 2 22.3 (Autumn 1995): 229–73. 35.Information on recent Chinese state-supported advancement of Confucianism is available in many locations, but it has been summarized and compiled for the United States government by John Dotson, research coordinator of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in his “The Confucian Revival in the Propaganda Narratives of the Chinese Government,” USCC Staff Research Report, July 20, 2011. Available at /Confucian_Revival_Paper.pdf, accessed January 17, 2012. 36.Dotson, “Confucian Revival,” 10–18.

Page 171 → 37.NBC coverage. 38.Dotson, “Confucian Revival,” 7. 39.Zhang Xinfeng, public security vice minister, as quoted by Aileen McCabe in “China Starts New Security Crackdown,” Calgary Herald, April 29, 2009, A11. For details on security measures leading up to the 2008 Olympics and the principle of “harmonious society” as a rationale, see the transcript of “China Rolls Out Security Crackdown Ahead of Olympics” from PBS Newshour on August 5, 2008, viewable at–05.html, accessed January 31, 2012. 40.Dotson, “Confucian Revival,” 19–21. 41.Rob Gifford, China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power (New York: Random House, 2007), 166. 42.David Leiwei Li, “Capturing China in Globalization: The Dialectic of Autonomy and Dependence in Zhang Yimou’s Cinema,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 49.3 (Fall 2007): 313 n. 4. 43.Wang Hui in One China, Many Paths, ed. Wang Chaohua (New York: Verso, 2003), 62. 44.For this very brief discussion of the much more complex current resonances of the terms “Left” and “Right” inside China, I am indebted to Wang Chaohua’s 2003 edited collection One China, Many Paths, Mark Leonard’s 2008 book What Does China Think? (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008), and Pankaj Mishra’s 2006 New York Times article on Wang Hui, “China’s New Leftist,” October 15, 2006. 45.Susan Sontag, “Fascinating Fascism.” First published in New York Review of Books 22.1 (February 6, 1975). Subsequently reprinted in Under the Sign of Saturn (New York: Picador, 1972–1980), 91–92. 46.Leni Riefenstahl, Olympia (1938). The diving sequence is currently available on YouTube at 47.Chan, “Zhang Yimou’s Hero,” 22. 48.Susan Manning, “Modern Dance in the Third Reich: Six Positions and a Coda,” in Choreographing History, ed. Susan Foster (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 165–176. 49.Luis Camnitzer, “Olympic Aesthetics,” Art Nexus 7.71 (December 2008–February 2009): 113. 50.Suk-Young Kim, Illusive Utopia: Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 280. 51.Email from Jennifer Wen Ma, February 18, 2012. 52.Anthony Lane, “The Only Games in Town: Letter from Beijing,” New Yorker, August 25, 2008, 26. Accessed at on May 26, 2010. 53.William McNeill, Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 4–5. 54.Sontag, “Fascinating Fascism,” 96. 55.Fricker, “Footprints in the Sky,” 126. 56.According to a Chinese government-sponsored website for the appreciation of Chinese arts by an outside audience, this style of dance is an invented tradition: “In the late 1980’s, after close study of [centuries-old] images from the Dunhuang frescoes, leading Chinese dance experts created a special Silk Road style dance called вЂDunhuang Dance.’” Accessed at /96Arts4833.html, on February 14, 2012. Page 172 → 57.NBC coverage . 58.Lane, “Only Games in Town .” 59.Siegfried Kracauer, “The Mass Ornament,” in The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, trans. and ed. Thomas Y. Levin (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 78–79. 60.My argument at the close of this chapter is indebted to Mike Daisey’s controversial monologue, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (2011), for how it sets the idealized beauty of Apple products against the reality of their manufacture. 61.Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher, “How the US Lost Out on iPhone Work,” New York Times, January 21, 2012. 62.Duhigg and Bradsher, “How US Lost Out.” 63.“The Way Art Works: An Interview with Zhang Yimou,” China Digital Times, August 17, 2008.

Accessed at on May 26, 2008.

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“Signaling through the Flames” Hell House Performance and Structures of Religious Feeling Ann Pellegrini “Is Halloween the New Christmas?” This was the question posed by ABC News in a much-circulated online article from October 2006.1 The article went on to trumpet Halloween as “now the second-biggest decorating holiday of the year—right behind Christmas.” Halloween is indeed a multibillion-dollar business. A September 2006 report issued by the National Retail Federation estimated that American consumers would spend $4.96 billion on Halloween in 2006, up from $3.29 billion the previous year. From a strictly financial perspective, though, Christmas need not look over its shoulder for ghosts and goblins any time soon: the average consumer spends $791.10 on Christmas-related purchases, but only $59.06 for Halloween.2 But dollars and cents do not tell the whole story. ABC’s rhetorical question—“Is Halloween the New Christmas?”—actually opens on to substantive issues regarding religious affect and the politics of feeling in the contemporary United States. Conservative U.S. Protestants have long worried that Halloween’s associations with paganism and the occult leave young people susceptible to Satan’s seductions. From this perspective, the worry is less that Halloween is the new Christmas than that it provides a route whereby the meaning of Christmas—Christ—will be denied altogether. These concerns have led some conservative Protestant churches, by which I mean evangelical, fundamentalist, and Pentecostal denominations, to offer alternative events to trick-or-treating, such as harvest celebrations and hayrides.3 Others are taking it right to Satan and using Halloween as a platform for creative evangelizing—or “HalloWitnessing,” in the words of selfproclaimed “anti-occult expert and Baptist demon exorcism specialist” Dr. Page 174 →Troy Franklin.4 Even Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson is seizing the day. Where once he inveighed against Halloween on The 700 Club—in one notorious 1982 segment he called for Halloween to be closed down and equated dressing up as a witch to “acting out Satanic rituals and participating in it [Satanism]”—today the website for his Christian Broadcasting Network offers concerned parents resources for turning Halloween into an evangelical opportunity.5 (Suggestions include offering trick-or-treaters religious pamphlets along with their candy.) Robertson’s equation of Halloween with satanic rituals continues to circulate in the eternal present of the World Wide Web and was quoted as recently as 2004 in a Knight-Ridder article on evangelical concerns about Halloween.6 The recycling of this quotation, as if it represents Robertson’s current approach to Halloween (“I think we ought to close Halloween down”), misses out on the ongoing negotiation many evangelical conservatives are making with secular popular culture in the service of missionizing to young people. These efforts attempt to utilize the vernaculars of youth culture and secular amusements. One of the most innovative of such responses to Halloween and its lurking dangers is the phenomenon of hell houses. Hell houses are evangelical riffs on the haunted houses that dot the landscape of secular culture each Halloween. Some of these haunted houses are seasonal attractions mounted by for-profit amusement parks; others are low-tech fund-raisers run by local community groups. Where haunted houses promise to scare the bejeezus out of you, hell houses aim to scare you to Jesus. In a typical hell house, demon tour guides take the audience through a series of bloody staged tableaux depicting sinners whose bad behavior—homosexuality, abortion, suicide, and, above all, rejection of Christ’s saving grace—leads them straight to hell. This essay discusses hell houses’ use of theater as a medium of evangelization. I focus my analysis on the hell house staged by the New Destiny Christian Center in the Denver suburb of Thornton, Colorado, in October 2006. I attended two performances over the course of their ten-day run, and also had an extended interview with Keenan Roberts, the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center. I will supplement this discussion with reference to the 2001 documentary Hell House and by comparing these performances to a hell house staged by a “secular” theater group in Brooklyn, New York, in October 2006. My examination is in service of a larger set of questions

about how religious feelings are lived, experienced, and communicated. Ultimately, I suggest that to understand how these performances do their evangelical work, cultural critics need to move beyond simply analyzing—and lambasting—the overt content or theology of hell houses (what hell houses Page 175 →say) and focus instead on the affectively rich worlds hell house performances generate for their participants (what hell houses do). Such a methodological approach does not bracket political judgments or ethical critique, but lays the ground for them. Hell houses first crossed the radar of secular popular culture with George Ratliff’s 2001 documentary Hell House, a film festival favorite that was also featured on a memorable May 2002 episode of National Public Radio’s This American Life, “Devil on My Shoulder.” The documentary focused on the annual hell house staged by Trinity Church of the Assemblies of God, in Cedar Hill, Texas. Each year, between eleven thousand and fifteen thousand people flock to this suburb of Dallas to attend Trinity Church’s hell house. Although Ratfliff and others have credited Trinity Church with inventing hell houses in 1990, in fact the phenomenon can be traced back to at least 1972, when Reverend Jerry Falwell first staged a “Scaremare” at his Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC), in Lynchburg, Virginia. Scaremare continues today, now mounted by the youth ministry at Falwell’s Liberty University. The Scaremare website ( describes the annual event as a “balance between a fun house and a house of death.” Certainly, Scaremare, hell houses, and judgment houses (which date to the mid-1980s) all depend upon an audience’s familiarity with the horror genre and with the haunted attractions at secular amusement parks. This is a familiarity shared by the makers of Scaremare and its offshoots as well, who use their knowledge of secular popular culture as a way to connect with the unsaved. Indeed, in The Book of Jerry Falwell, anthropologist Susan Friend Harding quotes a TRBC youth minister as saying that Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion was the immediate inspiration for Scaremare. With Harding, then, we could say that Christian haunted houses are “willfully hybrid” experiences, which combine secular culture and Christianity to extend a Christian message.7 Such hybridity has a long history. Notably, the eighteenth-century revivalist George Whitefield—who studied acting in his youth—used the conventions of the theater to win souls to Christ, drawing rapt audiences by the thousands in London and the United States. Whitefield’s self-dramatizing sermons—tears rolling down his cheeks, passions on full display—were all the more striking in light of his forceful repudiation of the stage and his embrace of an explicitly antitheatrical theology. Harry S. Stout suggests there is something of mimetic rivalry in Whitefield’s postconversion relation to his first passion, theater. Henceforth, Whitefield would do battle with theater as if it were a “competing church,” but he would do so using his rival’s tools.8 Sometimes you have to traffic with the devil to do the Lord’s work. EngagementPage 176 → with popular culture provided an idiom and affective style that could transcend simple denominational divisions within Protestantism and compete for takers within an increasingly commercialized public square. Stylistically, Whitefield thus anticipated and set the pattern for later trends in American evangelical performance, from the illustrated sermons of Aimee Semple McPherson to the masculine tears of Ted Haggard and Jim Bakker as they testified to their own sinfulness.9 Hell houses are an evangelical phenomenon, but they are hardly representative of evangelical Protestantism as a whole, which is theologically and politically diverse. And yet, I would argue, the religious sensibilities and styles of life that hell houses speak to and help to realize are shared across the wider evangelical world. It is these shared religious feelings I am exploring here. The most prominent exponents of hell houses have been Assemblies of God churches, a Pentecostal group that dates to the Holiness movement of the late nineteenth century and to the Azusa Street revival of 1906. Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States—and, indeed, in the world—with more than fifty million adherents globally. Despite the theological gulf between the dedicated Calvinism of a George Whitefield, for whom conversion was once for all, and the Arminian orientation of the Assemblies of God, who stress free will, progressive sanctification, and (because humans have free will) the possibility of religious “backsliding,” what joins them is a striking emphasis on the culture and cultivation of feeling. The appeal is to the heart, not the head. Assemblies, not unlike Whitefield, are willing—in the words

of the Assemblies’ own mission statement—to use “every effective means to spiritually develop believers in [their] churches and to prepare continuing generations for service.”10 (It is probably no accident that McPherson—a pioneer in the blending of showbiz and salvation—was an Assemblies of God minister early in her preaching career.) This twinned commitment—evangelism and discipleship—is epitomized in the outreach work of hell houses. No one has done more to spread hell houses across the United States than New Destiny’s senior pastor, Keenan Roberts. He has also made canny use of the mass media, thereby helping to extend the hell house message beyond the cultural margins. Pastor Keenan, as his congregants call him, has been mounting hell houses in the Denver area since 1995, first at the Abundant Life Christian Center in Arvada, and currently at New Destiny. Both are, like Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Assemblies of God churches. Pastor Keenan is a charismatic man, whose easy laugh and gift of story belie an intensity of purpose. He went to college on a basketball scholarship, and, at six foot five, he is a towering physical presence. He must have made Page 177 →quite an impression as a demon guide, a role he played every hell house season until 2006, when he decided to take a year off from acting in the production. He himself describes his demon guide performance as “the best,” and, somehow, I have no reason to doubt him.11 He “had a great time doing it,” he says. “Being big was fun.” Fig. 5. Hell house resources, New Destiny Christian Center. Screenshot.!hell-house /c1f1y. Pastor Keenan had not even heard of hell houses until the early 1990s, when a fellow youth pastor told him about the basic concept. He was, he says, “immediately gripped” by their potential as an evangelizing tool. He went on to stage his first hell house in 1993, at a church in Roswell, New Mexico. Pastor Keenan may have been late to the scene of hell houses, but he has capitalized on their potential as instruments of outreach and amplification. In 1996 he began selling “Hell House Outreach Kits” (the 2006 edition cost $299), and says approximately eight hundred kits have been sold in the past ten years to churches across the United States and even to a few in Europe. Hell House Outreach brilliantly joins marketing with missionizing. Hell houses try to tap into their audience’s desire for a bounded, “safe” experience of being afraid. Audiences want to gasp and gape in company—and leave without a mark. They want the heart-pounding, stomach-churning Page 178 →catharsis of horror-as-entertainment: at the end of the ride or the film or the performance, you get to return to the world unscathed. The object of fear (a vampire, say) is revealed as unreal, or a terrifying experience (such as a roller coaster ride) is shown to be ephemeral, survivable. By contrast, hell houses are playing for keeps. They draw upon, even as they move to recode, experiences of “safety” and “fear,” “reality” and “unreality,” in the service of a fundamental spiritual transformation. They want their audiences to see the gruesome realities that await them if they do not live wisely: not just death in its pain and brutality (and, as Charles D’Ambrosio points out, hell houses can only imagine the most gruesome endings), but everlasting damnation.12 The roller coaster eventually stops, but hell is for all eternity. What’s more, within the worlds laid bare by hell house performances the devil is neither allegory nor projection of the unconscious; he is real and he is coming for you. The relentlessness of this vision is tempered, however, by the promise of a safety more thoroughgoing than any this-worldly happy ending: the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The primary targets of hell houses are teenagers, and this targeting is among the reasons hell houses have become so controversial. Detractors accuse them of preaching hate to an especially vulnerable population. In the run-up to the 2006 Halloween season, for example, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released a report accusing hell houses and their purveyors of spreading a message of bigotry and homophobia. The hell house message “literally demonizes [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] LGBT youth, fueling the harassment and violence many experience on a daily basis.” The reports’ authors, Sarah Kennedy and Jason Cianciotto, also criticize hell houses for perpetuating the “false notion that youth cannot be both LGBT and Christian.”13 Hell houses have come under criticism from Christian groups as well, such as the Colorado

Council of Churches, for engaging in fear-based theology that distorts the Christian message. But the literally thousands of men, women, and teenagers across the country who take part in hell house ministries each year do not think of themselves as spreading hate or intolerance; nor do they see themselves as unreasonably manipulating people’s fears. In any case, asks Pastor Keenan, “Who decided that fear is not an effective teacher?” His rhetorical question here echoes the words of Tim Ferguson, Trinity Church’s youth pastor and hell house coordinator, early in the documentary film: “A part of salvation is being afraid of going to hell.” As these exchanges suggest, a hell house is supposed to scare you, but for a much higher purpose than the secular entertainments it so knowingly mimes. Certainly Pastor Keenan rejects accusations that he is trafficking in hate: “Just because someone doesn’t agree with the Page 179 →message, doesn’t mean it’s a hateful message.В .В .В . We also believe that communicating to people what the Bible says doesn’t make this judgmental. We believe the Book to be the all-sufficient source for life direction.” The discordance between these ways of understanding the hell house experience—hate/love, distortion/truth—is as much about affect as it is about ideology or theology. This is salvation as “structure of feeling.” The term “structure of feeling” comes from Raymond Williams, of course.14 In Marxism and Literature, Williams proposes this language as a way to describe “pre-emergent” phenomena, experiences that are “active and pressing but not yet fully articulated.”15 He chose the word “feeling” to “emphasize a distinction from more formal concepts of вЂworld-view’ or вЂideology.’”16 He does not abandon these concepts and concerns so much as push us to take seriously how “formal or systematic beliefs” are embedded in, and arise out of, concrete relations and experiences: We are talking about characteristic elements of impulse, restraint, and tone; specifically affective elements of consciousness and relationships: not feeling against thought, but thought as felt and feeling as thought: practical consciousness of a present kind, in a living and interrelating continuity. We are then defining these elements as a “structure”: as a set, with specific internal relations, at once interlocking and in tension. Yet we are also defining a social experience which is still in process, often indeed not yet recognized as social but taken to be private, idiosyncratic, and even isolating, but which in analysis (though rarely otherwise) has its emergent, connecting, and dominant characteristics, indeed its hierarchies.17 Although Hell House Outreach represents itself as presenting objective realities and Bible-based truth, at the end of the day, the ability to win over converts or spark spiritual rededication does not rise and fall on fact checking or biblical hermeneutics. It is a matter rather of affective congruences. Hell house performances witness to their audiences. The process of conviction may engage preexisting beliefs—such as the notion that homosexuality is wrong, abortion is evil, or Satan is real—but for conviction to take hold, something more is required. The participant is invested (or reinvested) in a deeper structure of religious feeling that can tie together disparate, even contradictory, experiences, bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts. Perhaps one of the reasons accusations against hell houses—as fomenting bigotry or distorting the Christian message—gain so little traction with hell house participants is that opponents are arguing “facts.” But, you cannot Page 180 →fight feelings with facts.18 For its adherents, a hell house sutures gaps, soothes contradictions, and produces resonance amid discord.19 (As I will make clear below, hell houses’ reliance on theatricality means that gaps may reemerge elsewhere.) Pastor Keenan has welcomed the controversies generated by hell houses’ depiction of hell-bound homosexuals and blood-covered “abortion girls.” He considers such controversies an “incredible blessing.” The media storm has been a means of “amplifying the message” well beyond what the church could achieve on its own. And the message is about to get an even bigger staging ground: a fictional treatment of hell houses is in development with producers Adam Shulman and Julie Silverman-Yorn, of Firm Films. Scott Derrickson, a self-identified evangelical and director of the 2005 film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, has been tapped to helm the project. The feature film will focus on the controversies that engulf a town when a Christian group stages a hell house.20 This does not mean that Pastor Keenan is insensible to every criticism. During the course of my ninety-minute

interview with him, he twice drew an explicit contrast between his own message and ministry and that of Reverend Fred Phelps. Phelps leads the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, and he gained widespread notoriety for organizing protests at the funeral of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, in 1998. Phelps and his small band of followers (almost all of them family members) held up placards with slogans such as “God Hates Fags” and “Matt in Hell.” Phelps and his church continue to court controversy. For example, Westboro Baptist runs an incendiary website, More recently, Phelps has led protests at the funerals of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq, whose deaths he has interpreted as divine punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality. “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” read one of the placards. (Phelps’s actions have led several state legislatures to pass bills forbidding political protests from being held within five hundred feet of funerals or memorial services.) Where Phelps is the measure of hateful extremism, it is not hard to come off as reasonable and compassionate. Pastor Keenan described Phelps as a “raving lunaticВ .В .В . Everything he says is so opposite of the Bible, in my opinion.” In stark contrast, Pastor Keenan asserted, “I care about people in all walks of life and people that are dealing with all kinds of things in their life. I care about people whatever their particular issues might be. I can tell you, I don’t hate people. I don’t believe that it [hell houses’ condemnation of homosexuality] is a hateful message.” Pastor Keenan himself analogizes the work of his hell house to the responsibilities of good parenting: “God’s word is very explicit about where to play and where not to play. That doesn’t make Page 181 →him or us judgmental for communicating, вЂPlay here or don’t play there.’ And good parents are the same way.” Pastor Keenan is extremely sensitive to accusations of fomenting hatred and draws what is to him a clear distinction between being hateful and being painfully, even aggressively, honest. Instead of seeing Pastor Keenan’s denials as hypocritical or deluded, I want to take him at his word. Certainly, it is tempting to subsume the rhetorics of hell houses and Pastor Keenan fully under hate. But resisting this temptation can actually give us insight into the way hell houses’ structures of religious feeling meet up with—find resonances with—the larger feeling culture not just of evangelicals but of the U.S. public square more broadly. How far is Pastor Keenan, really, from the attitude of “Love the sinner, hate the sin” that animates so much public, secular discussion and debate over homosexuality? As Janet R. Jakobsen and I have argued elsewhere, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” allows people to espouse punitive judgments and promote discriminatory policies against their neighbors and fellow citizens, all the while experiencing themselves as “tolerant” and “open-minded.”22 Indeed, professions of tolerance mixed with stern moral judgment are a routine feature of political life in the United States. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group probably most responsible for bringing hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to justice, urges us to “teach tolerance” in order to battle hatred. But what does tolerance really offer—and to whom? When President George W. Bush came out in favor of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a move that would create a permanent constitutional underclass, he nonetheless concluded his remarks with a call for “kindness and goodwill and decency.”23 Again, this is not a matter of personal hypocrisy or political opportunism per se. This is about larger structures of American political life in which invidious social distinctions are maintained in part by the way they hook into dominant feelings. Feelings of tolerance actually support hierarchy and social domination. Although tolerance is usually promoted as a response to violence and social division, in practice tolerance works to affirm existing social hierarchies by establishing an us-them relationship between a dominant center and those on the margins. To put the matter more starkly, tolerance might feel good—and like good faith—to those who mouth its words; but being tolerated might not always feel all that different from being hated. I am thus deeply sympathetic to NGLTF’s concerns about the effect hell houses may have on GLBT and questioning youth. For such youth, witnessing a hell house depiction of ghouls delighting over a gay man’s death from AIDS may well feel like a profound and profoundly alienating blow to the self. Nonetheless, are hell houses’ effects on “Christian youth who may be Page 182 →struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity” as unidirectional as the NGLTF report worries?24 For one thing, NGLTF may underestimate the resilience of many queer youth. For another, the uptake of a message is not fully determined by the

sender’s intentions. Misfires happen all the time, especially when it comes to sexual representations. Can we rule out the possibility that for some young people—GLBT, questioning, or otherwise—just getting a glimpse of same-sex eroticism is a perverse pleasure, revealing possibilities they were not otherwise supposed to contemplate? In other words, what if the very medium hell houses use to reach their audience, theater, queers the pitch of the message? ***** One of the things that most interests me about a hell house is its faith in the power of theater to reach in and transform its audience. Pastor Keenan and his ministry understand that propelling the Word forward today requires engaging with this-worldly forms, including contemporary media and technology. Starting with the 2006 version of the outreach kit, all the components are on disk, including a how-to guide to production, a DVD of a hell house performance, and a compact disc soundtrack containing sound effects and music to amp up the scariness of specific scenes—“from the voice of Suicide to Lucifer’s bone-chilling introduction to Hell House to a myriad of others you absolutely cannot find anywhere else,” the website promises.25 Pastor Keenan’s script is included in every kit as a rewritable document, allowing individual churches to adapt it to their particular needs. His hell house features seven scenes. The first five scenes of the basic kit depict what Pastor Keenan calls “social-sin issues,” addressing homosexuality, abortion, suicide, drunk driving, and satanism. Pastor Keenan writes a new script every year for production by his own church group, always reserving two of the five “social-sin” scenes to cover homosexuality and abortion. He says he will continue prioritizing these two topics until God instructs him otherwise. This leaves three scenes whose topical focus can vary from year to year, as new issues present themselves. (For example, the 2006 production featured a brand-new scene on the evils of methamphetamine use. It ended—badly of course—with a fiery car crash, which had some overlap with the drunk-driving narrative of the standard script.) Churches do not have to buy a new kit every year. Instead, to supplement a kit they have already purchased, they can buy updated and new scenes as stand-alone CDs. The website currently advertises sixteen individual scenes for purchase, complete with sound effects and any needed background music.Page 183 → Scene 1 in the standard script depicts “the funeral of a young homosexual male who believed the born gay lie and died of AIDS.” But, for an additional $45, you can get the “Gay Wedding Scene Package”: This energetic scene will give you another powerful weapon in your arsenal against the homosexual stronghold and the born-gay deception. The demon tour guide conducts the ceremony that actually involves a young married couple. (The wife dons masculine make-up for the necessary male look.) The tour guide pronounces them “husband and husband.” Then the scene utilizes a time warp to move several years into the future with one of the partners dying of AIDS as demon imps swarm into a hospital room. This package comes with the originally produced rock-n-roll wedding march CD, the air of evil background music CD and the death drum track also on compact disc.26 In the 2006 production, this scene opened the play, underscoring the way homosexuality and same-sex marriage in particular have come to function as the defining issue for many Christian conservatives. But there is such a thing as theater that succeeds too well. The “born-gay deception” is a trap set by Satan to ease the path to sin. Pastor Keenan’s insistence that the gay male couple be played by a married heterosexual one can be seen as an attempt to minimize risk to both audience and actors. Interestingly, similar precautions are not taken with respect to other, nonsexual scenes; that is, no special warnings are given about making sure to cast only males or only women over child-bearing age in the role of “abortion girl.” Importantly, this is not just about so-called gay sex. One of the extra for-purchase packages in the hell house kit depicts the “out-of-control sexual appetite” of contemporary youth. Pastor Keenan always casts a young married couple in the role of the teenagers who are about to have sex, the girl giving up “the pearl of her virginity” to the more experienced boyfriend. The stage directions, such as they are, say that the scene will be played in a “tasteful yet sizzling fashion.”27

Sexual scenes are thus understood to be especially volatile for both actors—and audience. This is a point brought home forcefully in the documentary as well. During an August script meeting, Tim Ferguson invites the hell house youth leaders to suggest “new twists” on old themes for Trinity Church’s 2001 production. One young woman proposes that they include a gay bar scene, with “two girls hitting on one another.” Ferguson immediately nixes the idea: “I don’t want to do that. The way we do it, it’s almost bad enough just being at the hospital bed there for that moment.” He is referring Page 184 →to the way they have handled the issue of homosexuality in previous years’ productions. Equating homosexuality with AIDS, they typically depicted a gay man dying of AIDS who refuses to accept Jesus into his life, despite the pleas of a female friend at his deathbed. He is spirited off to hell by a demon at the moment of his death. (This is the scene they ended up performing in the 2001 production, too.) It remains unclear to me just what is “bad enough” about this scene. That an audience member might sympathize with the young gay man’s bodily suffering, and thus lose sight of the eternal suffering that awaits? When the young woman persists with her proposal to do a gay bar scene, Ferguson elaborates his objection in another way: “The same reason we don’t do a boyfriend-girlfriend scene in hell house is because you’re just together so much over this period of time that I just don’t want to go there.” Clearly, the concern here is that the intense intimacy of rehearsal will lead to other kinds of intimacies, in which life too much imitates art. In the documentary Ferguson will refer to his desire to use hell houses to “infect” and “infiltrate the culture.” He is able to voice anxieties about the effect sexual scenes will have on the young actors, but stops short of recognizing the broader dangers of dallying with forms. And yet mimesis cannot be so easily contained, no matter what Ferguson, Pastor Keenan, and the Hell House Outreach Kit may specify. “Tasteful yet sizzling.” Can hell houses really have it both ways? This worrisome porousness exists on the side of audiences, too, who bring to hell houses their own sets of expectations and vulnerabilities. The hell house performances I attended in Thornton were small affairs; fewer than 150 people attended each night—total—with a large share of this made up of bussed-in youth groups, who were apparently there because they had to be. This wildly contradicted my own expectations. I was expecting the sort of crowds that show up in Cedar Hill each year. The scale of the Cedar Hill audience, at least as depicted in the documentary, generates surprising juxtapositions between, for example, the earnestness of the drunk-driving death scene and the rowdy anticipation of some obviously intoxicated youths waiting to take their tour of hell. At another moment we learn in a voiceover that after a previous year’s production, a warlock contacted the hell house ministry to tell them that their occult scene was not accurate. The warlock’s desire for mimesis, to be given back whole, is a different mimetic desire than the ones hell houses’ makers seek to activate, but the differences underscore, once again, the volatility of live performance. The complex, unpredictable interactions among performer, performed, and audience—who must complete the performance—are among the reasons theater’s emotional reach cannot be so easily micromanaged. The audiencePage 185 → member who knows she is seeing a married couple just playing at being gay men but “really” kissing may find herself alongside another spectator who sees two men exchanging vows and a kiss and then witnesses one stretched in grief over his dying lover’s body, a final embrace as his beloved passes from life. The emotional power of this scene exceeds, or potentially exceeds, theological straitjacketing. “Bad enough,” indeed. The final two stops on the hell house tour are always hell and heaven, in that order. Although the script for these two scenes may vary from year to year, the basic plot points remain the same. In the production I saw, the actor portraying Lucifer spoke through a voice box, which distorted his voice and lent it a menacing quality. The scene as a whole was theatrically accomplished and well thought out. The audience was squeezed together in a claustrophobic basement hell. Condemned souls, young and old, threw themselves piteously against a chain-link fence, screaming for help, while black-garbed imps, their faces completely covered, offered hissing punctuation to Lucifer’s speech. The imps were the youngest members of the cast, and their smallness of size made them especially effective as they slithered among the crowd. In a kind of Hell House 101, a gloating Lucifer neatly summarized the previous five scenes, underscoring the bad choices that were made in each: from the gay men who chose homosexuality but hid behind the excuse that God

made them gay, to the young teen suicide whose worldly success could not hide the emptiness of his spiritual life. The sensory overload of this scene was interrupted by a blaze of bright light and a chorus of white-garbed winged angels, who brought Satan’s speech to an end and escorted us into our final destination, heaven. Here, a beatific blond Jesus preached the Good News before leading the now-seated audience in a prayer of salvation. The two nights I saw the hell house, there was a low hum from the crowd. Some murmured along; others sat in silence. In comparison to the pyrotechnics of hell, heaven was a letdown. On one level this is purely an aesthetic problem: sin makes for much more interesting spectacle and narrative than goodness. “Sin” is lush, sensual, readily theatrical. By comparison, “goodness” is generic, saccharine, and bland. Preachiness may be good for the soul, but it is not very fun. This is the open secret of hell houses. For Pastor Keenan and his congregation, though, “God’s word does not return void.” I may have sat silent and unmoved during the salvation prayer, but I was still listening, still being witnessed to. The salvation prayer was followed by a brief address by one of New Destiny’s associate pastors, who encouraged all of us to fill out an outreach response card. The card, along with information about the church, a clipboard, and pen, had been placed under every chair in “heaven.” It had four boxes to check off: Page 186 →For the first time I have prayed the prayer of salvation and asked Jesus Christ into my life tonight. I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ tonight. I am looking for a church/youth group to be involved in. Please remember my prayer request on back of this card. The two evenings I saw New Destiny’s hell house, people dutifully filled out the cards, though no one stayed behind for further prayer or conversation, as we were all invited to do. Everything about the associate pastor’s final pitch was warmly and lightly done, in contrast to the hard sell of the preceding tour. As Pastor Keenan avers, a hell house is “very go-right-at-you. But that’s the hell house personality of what we do for a few nights a yearВ .В .В . [and] that allows us to reach a lot of people in a different way.” The hell house experience is not just in-your-face missionizing. It is an aggressive theater of transformation. Spreading the Word depends on theater as a kind of contagion passed from performer to audience. We are back to Ferguson’s metaphor of “infection.” However, this promise—that theater can be catching—is also the reason it has historically been at the center of so much moral hand-wringing and outright condemnation. From Plato’s tirade against mimesis in The Republic, to Tertullian’s likening of theater to idolatry in De Spectaculis (Of Spectacles), to Puritan polemics linking theater to sexual depravity in Phillip Stubbes’s 1583 treatise The Anatomie of Abuses, philosophers and theologians have worried over theater’s capacity to “infect” audiences with the “wrong” sorts of ideas and practices.28 The worry is not simply that seeing is believing, but that believing might beget doing. This antitheatrical prejudice is not just yesterday’s news, of course. It followed the Puritans to the “New World,” and it continues to percolate in debates over “obscenity,” public funding of the arts, and ageappropriate media content, just for starters. Nevertheless, as George Whitefield’s own career testifies, these suspicions concerning theater’s moral dangers have often gone hand in hand with a desire to harness its power for projects of political and/or spiritual renewal—for conversion, even. This too has a long history, from ancient Greek festivals of Dionysus, to the passion plays of medieval Catholicism, to the Ta’ziyeh dramas of Shiite Islam. As a form, theater has no one political claim. Although political theater generally invokes images of the political Left—think of the work of Bertolt Brecht or of Clifford Odets and the Group Theatre—theatrical transformation does not point one way only. It has become a commonplace for scholars of theater and live performance to refer, in nearly reverential terms, to the world-making capacity of performance, its ability to

conjure into view new Page 187 →horizons of the possible and to consolidate and reconsolidate oppositional publics or lifeworlds. I share this faith in performance’s power to transform its audience into something moreВ .В .В . into a public, perhaps? Or, even, a revolution? So do the hundreds, if not thousands, of evangelical communities that stage hell houses across the United States each year. Could Pastor Keenan and his flock be the face of theater’s last true believers? Perhaps hell houses represent the new avant-garde. Documentary filmmaker and performance studies scholar Debra Levine has elaborated this point, astutely placing hell houses within the tradition of Antonin Artaud’s “theatre of cruelty.”29 In The Theater and Its Double (1938), Artaud called for a theater that, “overturning all our preconceptions, inspires us with the fiery magnetism of its images and acts upon us like a spiritual therapeutics whose touch can never be forgotten.”30 Artaud’s theater of cruelty privileges feeling over plot and moves to break down artificial walls between spectator and spectacle by bombarding the audience from all sides with new sensations. This is theater as affective immersion and communal event, and its “therapeutics” are not gentle pats on the back. Conjuring a new theater adequate to its time, Artaud concludes the preface to The Theater and Its Double by linking theater to sacrifice and purification: “And if there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.”31 These are heady metaphors. But so too is Pastor Keenan’s likening of attacks on hell houses to the Crucifixion: “The same will be true of this [criticisms of hell houses] as what was true of Jesus. That is, they tried to crucify him, and we all know how that worked out. People can try to crucify this [hell house], and you can’t kill it because it is about the Good News message.” Pastor Keenan offered this comparison specifically in response to a 2004 parody version of a hell house that was performed in Hollywood and featured such celebrities as Sarah Silverman and Bill Maher, who played Satan—and not very well, Pastor Keenan hastens to add. Maher did not seem to know his lines, a sin against professionalism at the very least. The experience with Hollywood hell house made Pastor Keenan doubly suspicious when Les FrГЁres Corbusier, an experimental theater company based in New York City, contacted him about staging a hell house in the Big Apple. They did not want to do a parody or a hatchet job. They wanted to do a “straight up” version of a hell house,32 giving New York City audiences a glimpse into a social world that is otherwise completely foreign to them. (This is hardly an accurate picture of the religious diversity of New York City and the greater metropolitan area, of course, which is home, for instance, to Page 188 →the largest concentration of Pentecostals in the country.) Eventually, the company’s executive director, Aaron Lemon-Strauss, convinced Pastor Keenan that the company’s motives were sincere. Les FrГЁres went on to stage their hell house in St. Ann’s Warehouse, in October 2006, in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. DUMBO, an acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” is an area of reclaimed warehouses, art galleries, hip watering holes and eateries, and increasing rents. St. Ann’s is known for its cutting-edge theater and performance events, and its typical audience member probably goes to more art openings than prayer services. Certainly, the prospect of a “secular” hell house was media catnip, landing coverage by Newsweek as well as articles and reviews in the New York Times, the Denver Post, the Associated Press, and even Variety. Uniformly, the media made much of the fact that the production was a “faithful” and “sincere” presentation of a “real” hell house. For example, in his October 2006 review of the production, chief New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley described it as an “irony-free facsimile” of the real thing and said the company managed to present “its visions of the fiery agonies that await non-believers with nary a wink or a roll of the eyes.”33 Maybe so, but the sincerity of Les FrГЁres’ approach to hell houses may have been its undoing. To my eyes, the performance felt less sincere than “sincere.” The quote marks here are not irony alerts. The cast was top notch, professional, filled with talent, and so on. The special effects were well considered, deliberately low-tech and sophisticated at the same time, as in the blood-spurting abortion scene (figure 6), or when Steve, whose marriage to another man we had witnessed just one scene before (figure 7), lies dying of AIDS and is dispatched

to hell through a trapdoor in his hospital gurney (figure 8). Nonetheless, the performances came across as a kind of self-referential pointing at what they were not: “Look at me, I am not ironic” as well as “Look at me, I am not a Christian or, at least, not one of those Christians.” To put the matter in theatrical terms, you could say that Les FrГЁres was coolly Brechtian when it needed to be engaged and Aristotelian, let alone bloody red and Artaudian. The program notes begin with a disclaimer “from les freres and arts at st. ann’s: This authentic depiction of a hell house is meant to educate and inform about a particular religious movement, not to endorse any specific ideology.” Les FrГЁres served up its hell house as a kind of sociological artifact, not a living thing, and the company’s anthropological approach proved theatrically limiting. This limitation is related to the company’s assertion that it was offering an “authentic depiction of a Hell House.” The language here is Page 189 →confusing. Les FrГЁres’ claim is smaller than it first appears. They are not putting on a hell house, but a representation, a “depiction,” of one. This sets them at a remove—a safe distance, perhaps—from the “real” thing, where the “real” means “religion.” The modifier “authentic” is puzzling in this context. What, exactly, is an “authentic depiction”? Is this their way of distinguishing good copies (good because sincere) from bad ones (think: Hollywood Hell House)? Staking out claims to authenticity even as they proclaimed their difference, Les FrГЁres members wanted to have their evangelical cake, without having to eat it, too. Fig. 6. “Clinic—Steve to Hell.” Scene from Hell House. Photograph by Joan Marcus, В© Les Freres Corbusier, 2006. It is interesting to speculate how Les FrГЁres’ hell house would have changed if the company had done outreach to evangelical churches, in a kind of reverse missionizing. How would Les FrГЁres’ hell house have appeared—felt—to them? But this would have required recognizing that the religious landscape of New York City already includes many people whose worldview evangelical hell houses do accurately capture. It would also have meant confronting some significant overlap between the truth-and-consequences theology of hell houses and the worldviews of many urban “hipsters.” Les FrГЁres’ hipster audience surely included many people who profess pastoral notions of good, spiritually redeeming sex versus bad, corrupting sex or who ascribe Page 191 →to a watered-down version of karmic retribution. For whom, exactly, is a hell house an otherworldly experience? Page 190 →Fig. 7. “Gay Wedding.” Scene from Hell House. Photograph by Joan Marcus, В© Les Freres Corbusier, 2006. Fig. 8. “Abortion.” Scene from Hell House. Photograph by Joan Marcus, В© Les Freres Corbusier, 2006 There were certainly numerous departures between the evangelical (the “authentic”?) hell house put on by New Destiny and Les FrГЁres’. Where Pastor Keenan’s model recommends seven scenes, each with the dramatic arc of a “one-act play,” Les FrГЁres had nine rooms. Pastor Keenan’s version suggests using two demon guides per tour; Les FrГЁres’ demons worked solo. For the gay wedding scene, Les FrГЁres cast two men in the role of the gay grooms, stopping just short of having the two men kiss. As the grooms’ lips were about to touch, one man interposed his hand between their two mouths. Les FrГЁres also freely adapted Pastor Keenan’s script. The version they performed combined elements from his script, scenes from the 2001 documentary, and additions by the company itself. The most notable addition was scene 6, which was set at a hipster cafe, or “CafГ© Hell,” as the demon guide dubbed it. Three twenty-somethings—two men, one woman—excitedly discuss The Onion, Jon Stewart, and the possibility of putting on a show that will make fun of “religious people.” At this, a pack of lesser demons drags the trio of ironists away, as the demon guide growls his review: “Do you know what’s really hot right now? Sincerity. Painful Sincerity.” Page 192 →Pastor Keenan attended the opening weekend of Les FrГЁres’ production. His own verdict on it was not that that it lacked sincerity, but that it needed more “intensity.” The intensity of an evangelical hell house derives in part from the cast and crew’s belief that there are cosmic stakes involved in their performance. Ultimately, then, the numerous structural and textual differences between Les FrГЁres’ hell

house and Pastor Keenan’s pale beside the question of affective sensibility. A hell house is theater, but it is also something more than theater. As Pastor Keenan observes, “It’s not just a play, it’s not just a theater thing, it is something that has tremendous spiritual significance for people’s lives.” This “not just”—this “excess,” let’s call it—returns us to the structure of religious feeling. On its website, the New Destiny Center claims “outreaches average a 33% salvation and rededication decision rate!”34 Trinity Church Cedar Hill claims a more “modest,” but still significant conversion and recommitment rate of 20 percent. These statistics can be argued over: exactly what is being counted, and how? What does seem unmistakable, though, is the circuit of feeling that passes among the participants in New Destiny’s hell house or Trinity Church’s, all of whom, young and old, cast and crew, are embedded in a larger community of meaning making and, as they see it, higher purpose. Conversion is never a finished process, and a hell house is as much about reconfirming the individual participants in their faith commitments as it is about spreading the Good News to others. As theater, hell houses exceed religious understanding or sectarian attempts to control the overflow of feeling and meaning making. Pastor Keenan is right: “Being big is fun.” So is getting to be other than who you are if only for a night, or maybe more. In “Devil on My Shoulder,” the 2002 segment of This American Life that focused on Hell House, director Ratliff reminds us—if we needed any reminding—that the plum roles in hell houses are the sinners; “nearly everyone wants to play [one].” He continues: Not one person auditioned to play Jesus or an angel role. Maybe it’s just more fun to be evil on stage than good. Maybe playing a church-going, God-fearing Christian is just not that interesting if you are a church-going, God-fearing Christian. The organizers usually have to go out and recruit some hapless kids to play the good Christian roles.35 In the documentary, the filmmaker asks a group of performers what the best scene in a hell house is. One young girl unhesitatingly replies: “Rave scene’s the best, because you get to dance.” There is vocal assent from her peers. The pleasures of putting on the theatrical mask are the pleasures of transgressingPage 193 → the everyday, being who you are not, and opening yourself—sometimes dangerously—to the leakiness between roles on stage and off. More than theater, more than religion: hell houses defy neat boundaries between audience and performer, secular culture and religious event. At its best, and sometimes even at its worst, theater can make you susceptible. To what, and whether that is a good thing, depends on who’s doing the accounting. If we measure the success of hell houses in terms of how many people are saved for the first time, then hell houses seem a failure—even Trinity’s 20 percent statistic is inflated by the high numbers of spectators who “rededicate.” But there are some queer convergences here. In a jointly written essay “Preaching to the Converted,” performance studies scholar David RomГЎn and performance artist Tim Miller defend the value of performing for one’s “own.” Conversion, they argue, “demands a continual testing of identity, ” not identity once for all, and this “implies vulnerability.”36 Writing from a distinctly queer perspective, RomГЎn and Miller argue for community-based performance as an urgent and even lifesaving experience of self and communal (re)constitution in the face of an often hostile world. If queer theater is “preaching to the converted,” as its critics sometimes sneer, this is precisely what RomГЎn and Miller want to valorize. Evangelical Christians see themselves as marginal and in need of buffering, too, and hell houses offer one way to reconfirm belief in the face of what they feel to be a secular hegemony. Of course, it is important to distinguish here between a feeling of marginalization and the accuracy of such a feeling.37 This feeling of marginalization remains active and galvanizing despite the undeniable impact conservative Christianity has had on electoral politics and policymaking in the United States over the past two decades. And this is what makes hell houses seem so politically scary to many of their progressive critics, both religious and secular: Hell houses speak for much larger political and cultural currents and represent a politics of division.

This division even extends to hell houses’ fear factor. For evangelical proponents, hell houses use fear in the service of a higher good. For critics, such as NGLTF or the Colorado Council of Churches, hell houses cruelly manipulate social stereotypes and phobias against vulnerable populations. For a secular critic like the writer Charles D’Ambrosio, hell houses’ problem is that they are not scary enough; they fail because they lack the “anguish and tormentВ .В .В . you expect a good haunted house to have.”38 For myself, I was not “scared” by the hell house performances I saw, though I could not be in greater disagreement with the cultural politics or theology of hell houses and their makers. Still, I remain impressed by their can-do theatrical spirit and the palpable sense of fun they seemed to be having. This was a fun that most Page 194 →squarely did not include me. At least not in any simple way. As a queer scholar of performance (not to mention, an atheist) I find my own pleasures—and challenges—in thinking seriously about hell houses, what they do, what they fail to accomplish. By attending to “meanings and values as they are actively lived and felt,”39 to return to Raymond Williams’s language, progressive scholars might better understand not just hell houses’ appeal to their participants, but also the role emotions play in the constitution of conservative cultural politics. As Linda Kintz argues: Academics and others who feel justifiably threatened by traditionalist conservatism are often unable to understand its appeal because we are not used to understanding beliefs that are not expressed according to our own scholarly expectations. By dismissing arguments that are not articulated in the terms with which we are familiar, we overlook the very places where politics comes to matter most: at the deepest levels of the unconscious, in our bodies, through faith, and in relation to the emotions.40 This essay represents a modest attempt to listen for these other articulations.

Notes 1.“Is Halloween the New Christmas?” ABC News, October 31, 2006, /Busi-ness/story?id=2617781&page=1, accessed December 11, 2006. 2.Quoted in Chris Serres, “ghoul days; You Want Scary? There’s a New Holiday Shopping Season,” Minnesota Star Tribune, October 25, 2006, 1D. 3.It is not just conservative Protestants who have expressed religious concerns with Halloween. But conservative Protestants are distinguished by having developed an infrastructure to offer alternative Halloween events. 4.Troy Franklin, “Objective: Halloween Reclamation,” /halloween.html, accessed December 13, 2006. 5.See, accessed March 18, 2007. 6.Robertson made his initial assertion on an October 29, 1982, segment of The 700 Club. For a recent citation, see Dahleen Glanton, “Halloween Bedevils Some U.S. Churches,” Knight-Ridder Newspapers, October 29, 2004, National section. Archived at /storage/paper879/news/2004/10/29/NationalNews/Halloween.Bedevils.Some.U.s.Churches-1788600.shtml, accessed March 18, 2007. 7.For a discussion of Scaremare, see Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 3–4. Page 195 → 8.Harry S. Stout, The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1991), 23; emphasis in original. 9.Stout, The Divine Dramatist, xviii, xxiii. 10.From the Assemblies of God Web site,, accessed March 18, 2007. 11.Keenan Roberts, interview by Debra Levine and the author, digital recording, Thornton, Colorado, October 29, 2006. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations of Roberts are from this interview. 12.For more on the aesthetics of horror and the gruesome imagination of hell houses, see Charles D’Ambrosio, “Hell House,” in Orphans (Astoria, OR: Clear Cut Press, 2004), 124–139. Brian Jackson notes the almost “pornographic fixation on the eternal suffering of others,” and places

hell houses in the tradition of Jonathan Edwards’s hellfire rhetoric and “scare-for-salvation.” Although I think this approach is useful, as will become clear, I connect hell houses to the self-conscious theatricality of Edwards’s contemporary George Whitefield. See Jackson, “Jonathan Edwards Goes to Hell (House): Fear Appeals in American Evangelism,” Rhetoric Review 26.1 (2007): 42–59. 13.Sarah Kennedy and Jason Cianciotto, Homophobia at “Hell House”: Literally Demonizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (Washington, DC: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, 2006), 8,, accessed December 13, 2006. 14.Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 128–35. In another place, I explore the cross-hatchings of religious and sexual identities as structures of feelings. See Ann Pellegrini, “Testimonial Sexuality; or, Queer Structures of Religious Feeling: Notes towards an Investigation,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Fall 2005, 93–102. 15.Williams, Marxism and Literature, 126. 16.Williams, Marxism and Literature, 132. 17.Williams, Marxism and Literature, 132; emphasis in original. 18.On this dilemma, see Lauren Berlant, “The Subject of True Feeling: Pain, Privacy, and Politics,” in Left Legalism / Left Critique, ed. Wendy Brown and Janet Halley (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 105–133. 19.I borrow the term “resonance” from Linda Kintz’s important discussion of the emotional texture of right-wing Christian politics. See Kintz, Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions That Matter in Right-Wing America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), esp. 6–7. 20.In a 2005 interview with Christianity Today, to promote The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Derrickson made an impassioned argument for horror as a Christian genre; he could as easily have been talking about a hell house. Calling horror the genre of “non-denial,” he said that horror “tackles issues of good and evil more than any other genre, it distinguishes and articulates the essence of good and evil better than any other genre, and my feeling is that a lot of Christians are wary of this genre simply because it’s unpleasant. The genre is not about making you feel good, it is about making you face your fears. And in my experience, that’s something a lot of Christians don’t want to do.” He went on to call upon evangelicals to reclaim the gothic from Catholic and secular aesthetics. Scott Derickson, “Horror: The Perfect Christian Genre,” interview by Peter Chattaway, Christianity Today, August 30, 2005, www., accessed December 11, 2006. Page 196 → 21.For a provocative discussion of Phelps and this website, see Michael Cobb, God Hates Fags: The Rhetorics of Religious Violence (New York: New York University Press, 2006). 22.Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini, Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004). The argument of this paragraph and the one that follows was developed jointly with Jakobsen and largely reproduces the language of our cowriting. 23.Bush made these comments in the course of a February 2004 press conference. His call for “civil” dialogue was extensively reported. See, for example, “Bush calls for ban on same-sex marriages,” available at, accessed March 19, 2007. 24.Kennedy and Cianciotto, 3. 25.See, accessed December 13, 2006. 26.From, accessed December 13, 2006. 27.All the quoted sections in this paragraph come from “Hell House Resources—Sex Scene Package, ”, accessed April 23, 2007. 28.For a now-classic discussion of the history and persistence of antimimeticism, see Jonas Barish, The Anti-theatrical Prejudice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981). 29.Debra Levine, “Conceiving a Community Theatre of Cruelty,” paper presented at “Manhattan Hell House: A Roundtable,” the Center for Religion and Media, New York University, October 14, 2005. 30.Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, trans. Mary Caroline Richards (New York: Grove Press, 1958), 84–85. 31.Artaud, Theater and Its Double, 13.

32.Aaron Lemon-Strauss, quoted in “Visions of Hell,” by Matthew Philips and Lisa Miller, Newsweek, 6 November 2006, 52. 33.Ben Brantley, “A Guided Tour of Hell, with an Appearance by Satan,” New York Times, October 14, 2006, B7. 34.See, accessed December 13, 2006. 35.“Devil on My Shoulder,” This American Life, host Ira Glass, Chicago Public Radio, May 24, 2002, archived at, accessed June 6, 2007. 36.David Román and Tim Miller, “Preaching to the Converted,” in The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater, ed. Alisa Solomon and Framji Minwalla (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 212. 37.On this point, see Jakobsen and Pellegrini, Love the Sin, 118–119. 38.D’Ambrosio, “Hell House,” 126. 39.Williams, Marxism and Literature, 132. 40.Kintz, Between Jesus and the Market, 5.

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“One Vision” Music, Performance, Combat Erik Butler Political ideology and declared objectives alone do not explain the appeal of dictatorship in interwar Germany. A materialist approach—for example, the economic determinism of orthodox Marxism—does not account for its success, either. The very name of “National Socialism,” which contains elements at odds with each other, indicates the difficulty of capturing the essence of the movement. “National” declares allegiance to the German people; “socialism,” on the other hand—and especially in the early decades of the twentieth century—reaches beyond borders and implies solidarity with comrades abroad. The logical antinomy can be resolved only through expansion of the “national” onto foreign terrain—an expansive course that Hitler duly pursued. As I will argue, an analogous phenomenon—which may or may not feed directly into political projects—occurs in recent avant-garde musical performance that toys with what Susan Sontag, in an influential 1974 essay, called “fascinating fascism.” This essay examines a way of “being in the world” that understands itself as a mode of action—a temperament that grew strong in the early twentieth century and has not vanished since. The first part looks at Armin Mohler’s controversial but underappreciated account of the “conservative revolution”—a cultural turn that gripped Europe in general and Germany in particular as Hitler gained influence. Discussion then shifts to the cinema of Leni Riefenstahl. Every frame of Triumph of the Will records and propagates the energy of the conservative revolution. At the same time, an ambiguous quality marks the notorious film inasmuch as artistic hermeticism combines with National Socialist spectacle. The latter half explores how “postfascism” displays affinities with “protofascism” and “parafascism” Г la Riefenstahl. Because of the license that creative works enjoy, music and performance provide Page 198 →an especially rich field of investigation for cultural currents that revel in the law—and lawlessness—of the strong. It goes against conventional wisdom to say so, but the phenomenon of rock and roll—which started in the United States and soon gained converts across the globe—may be considered to exemplify the values that Mohler discusses. Like other youth cultures, rock and roll disavows the immediate, historical past to connect with the primordial energies of life. Its protest is, above all, directed against the constraints of the older generation, and therefore only in a secondary sense is it ever political (subsequent articulations—to which we will return—notwithstanding). Parties who perform and listen to this kind of music do so because of the sensations it captures, communicates, and creates. Indeed, rock and roll is more than music—it names a sensibility and way of life. Adherence to its values varies enormously, of course, but full-time “rockers” style themselves as outlaws. As is well known, rock and roll began in the 1950s, when black entertainers—for example, Chuck Berry and Little Richard—stepped up the beat of rhythm and blues and added more raucous elements. The energetic style was soon copied by white performers and, thanks to personalities such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, reached an even broader audience. On the one hand, the emergence of rock and roll represents a “natural” progression, so to speak, from musical forms that existed previously. On the other, the phenomenon possessed a distinctive quality of its own. Rock and roll appealed to a broad, youthful demographic not least because the music—and the culture associated with it (wild dances, colorful fashions, adventurous hairstyles, souped-up cars, etc.)—offered a new “language,” as Mohler would put it, for self-expression, self-understanding, and self-assertion. It is no accident that the decade when rock and roll emerged witnessed concerns about juvenile delinquency and youth gone wild.1 The postwar era had an altogether different cast than the time of war itself, to say nothing of the preceding period. Academic scholarship, especially in recent years, has emphasized the “multicultural” aspects of popular music, pointing out that it has served as a medium for exchange between ethnic and socioeconomic groups. This is

true, but the overall picture is not necessarily quite as rosy as many would wish. Taking from others—whether it involves physical labor or musical forms—does not amount to acknowledging their contributions fully or even in part. To produce music in another’s style does not automatically make one more tolerant; indeed, awareness of a debt can spark jealousy and possessiveness. To borrow a term from political science, the cultural structure of rock is federalist: bands fly their own flag (a distinctive name and sound), and there Page 199 →exist coalitions within subgenres that often turn into rivalry. The names of groups—from the innocuous “Beatles” of the 1960s to the ominous “Cannibal Corpse” of the 1990s (with everything in between)—erect a banner around which to rally. Benign or malign, a name performs the gesture of ownership and autonomy. By this means, performers step into the public eye wearing masks. In some measure, their identity is always imposturous;2 professional and personal personae are not the same thing (which is why journalists and fans always want to find out the story “behind the music,” as the title of a well-known documentary series on television would have it). Likewise, consumers enjoy music because it permits them, within prescribed boundaries of time and space, to escape normal social roles. Transgression, especially when it occurs for show, often strengthens the norm.

Paradoxes of “Conservative Revolution” Mohler (1920–2003) did not coin the phrase “conservative revolution,” but he deserves credit for having made the phenomena it encompasses into an object of study.3 The scholar’s impartiality may be questioned. In 1942, Mohler left his native Switzerland for Germany to join Himmler’s SS (which rejected his application). Notwithstanding the author’s youthful convictions and lifelong dedication to extreme right-wing causes, Die Konservative Revolution—which was accepted for a doctorate under Karl Jaspers in 1949—provides an invaluable resource. The book offers a diagnosis and a symptom in one. Mohler’s allegiances gave him privileged access to parties and information that others could not readily obtain—or which they disregarded as voices from the fringe. Mohler grants that the phrase “conservative revolution” is imperfect, but because it has entered cultural discourse, he retains it.4 The paradox built into the term is readily apparent. “Conservative” connotes preservation and order; “revolution” suggests upheaval and change.5 The words acquire a better-defined meaning when understood in contrast to events in 1789, 1848, and 1917—revolutions that promised to extend rights to previously powerless segments of the population (or, indeed, “the people” as a whole). Revolutionaries of the new-yet-conservative kind pursue objectives with the understanding that gains can never be permanent or universal. For them, struggle knows “no beginning and no end.”6 Like progressive revolutionaries, conservative revolutionaries wish to change the prevailing system. Unlike them, they do not appeal to universal ideals or common humanity. Page 200 →Until now, the revolutionary type had not attacked the bourgeois way of life [die bГјrgerliche Lebensform] at the foundation, but only inasmuch as it was limited to just a part of the people. He did not reject the bourgeois way of life, but demanded its extension to all. The new revolutionary type stands far from such desires.7 Revolutionaries of both stripes hold in contempt the ideals of the nineteenth century—which, in their eyes, birthed a political (and artistic) culture of middle-class mediocrity and compromise—and both groups seek to counter historical stagnation. However, they diverge wildly on the matter of what is now to be done and the ends their activism serves. To illustrate the fundamental difference between the two kinds of revolutionary, Mohler employs simple geometry. The progressive’s conception of revolution is a line. The present improves on the past, and the future will be better than the present. This scheme, Mohler observes, retains the orientation of Christian messianism, even when it professes to be secular.8 The conservative revolutionary, on the other hand, rejects the notion that there is a goal or stations on the way to it. The figure representing his thought is the circle.9 From his

perspective, history offers a whirling mass of confusion—never better and never worse, except from contingent viewpoints. In the chaotic gyre, one must take opportunities as they present themselves; an overall equilibrium prevails, but always to the benefit of some and the misfortune of others. The idea that the whole of humanity can share the same lot as anything other than an occasion for infighting is alien to those who view the world in terms of what Nietzsche—whose uncharitable views of Christianity and egalitarianism are well known—called “the pessimism of strength.” Indeed, Nietzsche—read along tendentious lines—is the principal inspiration for the conservative revolution.10 His rejection of Judeo-Christian morality, his unsparing assessment of the project of Enlightenment, and his aestheticism flow into a worldview that sees peace and concord as transitory illusions against a background of permanent strife. Primitive vitalism, Nietzsche argued, animates modern man as much as any “savage.”11 In keeping with this tenet, the conservative revolutionary honors worthy adversaries, but he does not show mercy. His is a warrior’s ethos. “An attitude [Haltung] and not a doctrine [Lehre]”12 animates him and his fellows. Mohler is careful to disassociate conservative revolution from the Hitler regime, and he stresses the wide range of views to be found among its advocates. “Only intermittently is the conservative revolution interwoven into political history,”13 he writes. A phenomenon with a “strongly literary character”14—Mohler claims—it has no necessary relationship to the vulgar Page 201 →racism and chauvinism that mark the Third Reich. Instead, the conservative revolution stresses levelheaded willingness to face an unfavorable historical situation and see things for what they are. Those who participate share a basic disposition, but not necessarily convictions about what, exactly, is to be done. Indeed, many conservative revolutionaries between 1918 and 1932—the period on which Mohler focuses—fell victim to sectarian power plays between rival factions. To employ terminology from a different, but ultimately related, context, the phenomenon may be called a “cultural revolution.” The vocabulary is not too far-fetched: Mohler likens the situations in Germany and Russia. Every insurrection, he observes, divides into its own “right” and “left.”15 The opposition between Lenin and Trotsky is a case in point, and Stalin’s takeover of the Soviet government represents a development comparable to Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany. Conservative revolution, like its communist counterpart, opposes the bourgeois, liberal worldview with a militant vision of “heroic realism.”16 The difference between them lies in teleology—or the lack thereof. “The often-obscured [oft verwischte] distinction between tension [Spannung] (polarity) and division (dualism) is one of the keys for understanding the conservative revolution.”17 Mohler’s agents of change embrace contradiction and affirm a dynamically unified vision that does not fear the conflict at the core of life. The characteristic form of organization for the conservative revolution is the “network” or “coalition” (Personengeflecht):18 members enter associations freely, but, once they have joined, they become part of a group effort and subordinate individual initiative to it. Not all figures in the movement profess the same beliefs, nor is the phenomenon limited to Germany. The distinguishing feature is “the combination of national struggle for liberation, social revolution, and rediscovery of authenticity [Wiederentdeckung des Eigenen].”19 Representative parties from elsewhere in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries include “Dostoevsky or the two Aksakovs in Russia, Sorel and BarrГЁs in France, Unamuno in Spain, Pareto and Evola in Italy, both Lawrences or Chesterton in England, and Jabotinsky for Judaism.”20 Writing after World War II, Mohler observes that the dissolution of the geopolitical order of colonialism has only broadened the conservative-revolutionary frame of mind. Wars of independence “that have been shaking the world of colored peoples for the last few decades” grow from analogous habits of mind.21 The conservative revolution in Germany set the example for a worldwide reaction to liberalism and internationalism through its regional characteristics and the unique qualities of highly particularized communities. Page 202 →Mohler notes the “decisive importance”22 of war for his fellow travelers. Indeed, war—and World War I, in particular—represents the “father of all things”23 for them: It is difficult to set a limit for what World WarВ IВ .В .В . means.В .В .В . Whether individuals

experienced the war at the front or at a remove seems only to matter by degrees. At the beginning of the war stands the intoxicating exhilaration of the first weeks of combat, at the end the abrupt collapse that most did not expect.В .В .В . In-between extend the sober and uniform years of fighting that became everyday life, and the experience of these years made the deepest impact.24

The giddy mood of mobilization and atmosphere of protracted struggle (whether experienced directly or not), followed by a sudden peace before actual defeat, left a generation that had learned forbearance and patience hungry to follow through on unfinished business. In time, the cycle of history would transform the work of destruction into creation. “It is a basic figure [Grundvorstellung] of conservative thought that the dead have a share in the present as much as the yet unborn.”25 Indignities can be endured when one remains focused on the glories of the past and future. “High noon” (der grosse Mittag)26 belongs to those who rally others around them through the creation of Leitbilder—“guiding images,” or, more pointedly, “visions”—that inspire and direct the will of sympathizers. Mohler’s reflections on the matter are worth citing at length: It is not by chance that this study often points out the struggle between concept [Begriff] and image [Bild]: it is one of the most essential characteristics of our time. Therefore, the division of ideology (or ideologies) according to images [visions] is the only method that really leads to the heart of the matter. The conservative revolution is an illustrative example for how concepts, more and more, become the plaything [Spielball] of subterranean currents. For this reason, even the most comprehensive and most basic attempts to grasp their structure with received ideas [Begriffswerkzeuge] have something quixotic about them—it is as if a student of the medieval world wanted only to pay attention to Latin sources.В .В .В . Every attempt of this kind overlooks the fact that one’s counterpart is already speaking a new language. The structure that supported thought [die Begriffe] has collapsed.В .В .В . This is not the case with images [visions]. True, they were incorporated into that structure, but they were not all subordinated Page 203 →to concepts. The concept had absolute predominance [Der Begriff hatte die unbedingte Vorherrschaft]. The structure was adapted [zugemessen] to the concepts, whereas it only irregularly and arbitrarily affected images [visions]. Thus, its collapse did not pull down the images [visions], but liberated them instead. And in this collapse, it gradually and slowly becomes evident that the images [visions] possess their own order.27 The language here is dense and highly imagistic. Mohler’s evocative prose performs what it describes: intellectualism that contemns rationalism and sustained argument. While encompassing the thought of a spectrum of writers, this passage sounds a great deal like the meditations of Heidegger who, in more arcane and specialized terms, consigned conceptual thinking—which he considered schematic and inert—to obsolete metaphysics. In lieu of received categories of subject and object, form and content, Heidegger valorized the work of art as a material force whose appearance in the world creates meaning in excess of what can be cognitively apprehended. The work of art—which is not to be confused with “art” in the technical (much less the academic) sense of the word—brings a new form of Being into the world.28 It has the force of fatality when deployed to full effect and possesses the immediacy of a “new language” incomprehensible to those who do not recognize the hour or the new dispensation. Mohler both analyzes and exemplifies a cultural current that flows into, while remaining separate from, National Socialism. Better-known comrades include Gottfried Benn, Stefan George, and Ernst JГјnger. The conservative revolution has no fixed tenets or creed. Instead, it involves an aesthetic demeanor that has transformed into an existential bearing. Therefore, some of its representatives do not display the self-reflection that characterizes the more articulate in their number. Leni Riefenstahl, to whom we now turn, never gave a satisfactory account of her actual views.29 Like few others, however, she commanded the new language of images, and her cinema speaks for


Art on the March The terrible thing about Triumph of the Will—the cinematic record of the 1938 Nazi party rally at Nuremberg—is how impressive it is as a piece of filmmaking. Friends and foes of the Hitler regime alike have professed admiration for Riefenstahl’s technical mastery. As a director, Riefenstahl commands universal respect. Eric Rentschler writes: Page 204 →The spectacle of Riefenstahl has always made for good press. Championed in the 1930s by Avery Brundage, Josef von Sternberg, Walt Disney, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin, her subsequent admirers have included Jean Cocteau, Dusan Makavejev, В .В .В . Andy Warhol, В .В .В . and George Lucas.В .В .В . Riefenstahl has a large throng of enthusiasts В .В .В . who disregard her embattled past and celebrate her cinematic genius.В .В .В . Detractors, on the other hand, assert that Riefenstahl’s unquestionable artistic powers were put to nefarious purposes, that her pact with Hitler was tantamount to sympathy for the devil, that her hagiographical portraits legitimated the Nazi leadership and helped consolidate the new order.30 No one says Riefenstahl was a bad filmmaker—only that she was a bad person.31 The greatness of her cinema—and Triumph of the Will, in particular—lies in its power to make people forget whose interests it served. As Sontag put it: “Without a historical perspective, В .В .В . connoisseurship prepares the way for a curiously absent-minded acceptance of propaganda for all sorts of destructive feelings—feelings whose implications people are refusing to take seriously.”32 Despite her eagerness to impugn Riefenstahl, Sontag recognizes that the real problem lies elsewhere: in the attitude of (non-Nazi) viewers, who are entranced by the spectacle her film presents. Education (“historical perspective”) is required to contain the menace that Riefenstahl’s film records and re-creates. Significantly, however—and this fact seems to escape most of her critics—Riefenstahl’s film does not admit that politics exist. To employ a term JГјrgen Habermas coined in a different context, Triumph of the Will admits no “public sphere”—that is, no possibility of taking an oppositional position, making arguments, or subjecting discourse to evaluation.33 Here, one finds only poetry—even if marching jackboots do not seem particularly lyrical to an outsider.34 The director of Triumph of the Will aided and abetted her Nazi employers. However, Riefenstahl did not devise any of the source material. Consequently, Riefenstahl’s film is oddly disengaged even as it propagates the regime’s self-aggrandizement. The film does not contain any message, other than that National Socialism is thriving and on the move. No specific objectives are mentioned that can unequivocally be attributed to the director herself. Triumph of the Will, like the rally it documents, is an exercise in self-affirmation and team spirit. Riefenstahl claimed for herself the liberty given to artists in general. The word “feelings” captures the essence of Riefenstahl’s cinema, which is about conveying emotions and sensation—irrational elements of life whose power lies in their resistance to logic and discourse. Page 205 →“Connoisseurship” and “absent-minded acceptance”—the other key terms in Sontag’s remarks—mean aesthetic appreciation and anesthetic stupor, respectively. Riefenstahl’s film—representing people in concert, yielding individual will to the group temporarily—is enchanting. Walter Benjamin has provided one of the most widely quoted remarks on the power of the aesthetic to shape—and undo—human destiny in modern times. In the afterword to his famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936), he commented: “Fascism is rendering aesthetic В .В .В . the situation of politics” (Der Faschismus lГ¤uftВ .В .В . auf eine Г„sthetisierung des politischen Lebens hinaus).35 In other words, fascism neutralizes politics by imposing artificial unity on human affairs. Equating events in Germany and Italy, Benjamin held up the futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s glorification of war as a forgery of real struggle.36 “Fiat ars—pereat mundus.” .В .В . This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the

Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation [Selbstentfremdung] has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.37

In Benjamin’s estimation, fascism is willing to sacrifice everything to spectacle and its transports. Totalitarian politics relies upon art to transform destruction into a creative vision. In so doing, fascists and their collaborators disregard the fact that fascism’s agents are mere mortals who must pay with the lives of others—and, ultimately, their own. Benjamin was not alone in this judgment. In 1933—the year of Hitler’s rise to power—the novelist and critic Hermann Broch (1886–1951) had observed: The bigger a system, the more difficult it is to define it rationally. Its rationality is only visible in its aesthetic products.В .В .В . But when one inquires after the highest value in the system, it remains indefinable. For tiny systems and practical values, an aim can be givenВ .В .В .В ; in contrast, the highest value of great systems belongs to the sphere of the indefinable and irrational, for it is infinite.38 These remarks exemplify what Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno would soon call the “Dialectic of Enlightenment.” In the modern world—and especially under totalitarianism—images supplant reason as the means Page 206 →of guaranteeing the social order. Making “the people” (Volk)39 into the highest value means substituting a new form of irrationality for the old. Reason as the arbiter of human relations is a modern myth, but abandoning it in favor of feeling and sensation means yielding to worse barbarism than “uncivilized” times ever witnessed. The Nazis and their fellow travelers cared less for theory and historical perspective than practice. “Strength through joy” (Kraft durch Freude) and other Nazi social programs were intended to produce a rested, contented populace.40 A thousand-year Reich could not be expected to materialize out of thin air: the swastika, or “sun-wheel,” signified a process of revolution that embraced peace and quiet when the day’s work was done.41 Nazis wanted a good night’s sleep, and the visions they promulgated were meant to rejuvenate the flesh. Triumph of the Will fits into this picture—and program—of a depoliticized, mythical dreamtime. The film follows the weeklong rally at Nuremberg as if it were a natural event—a documentation of reality rather than a carefully crafted work of artifice and ingenuity. Its structure presents events as self-evident, impersonal, and objective fact. The editing, which fuses images into a continuum, suggests that it could not have been otherwise. Like the cycle of the seasons, or the turning of day into night, and back again, the party rally appears to harmonize with the movements of the heavens. Riefenstahl’s film, like the Reichsparteitag itself, thereby encourages spectators to experience events as part of a cycle of time in which destiny simply unfolds—automatically, as it were. At the beginning, Hitler’s descent from the heavens marks the beginning of a new day. On the one hand, Nuremberg, the scene of his quasi-divine visitation, is a city associated with the Meistersinger and august tradition.42 On the other hand, the symbolic charge of this site encourages oblivion of the historical moment at which the rally takes place. The shots of the medieval Frauenkirche and the rooftops of the old town make it easy to forget that we are looking at images from the twentieth century, not the time of valorous knights and plainspoken guilds. The sequence in which farmers in traditional costume offer the fГјhrer the first fruits of the harvest has the same effect of calling forth and, at the same time, erasing history. Hitler’s hand-shaking tour of the peasantry puts him virtually on the same level as the commoners above whom he otherwise towers, thereby presenting a utopia in which distinctions of rank have vanished. This dream is made explicit throughout the film when Hitler, speaking to the men of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), announces that in the future “work will not be a divisive concept.”43 Page 207 →National Socialism, Baldur von Schirach is shown telling the Hitler Youth, demands “the highest

selflessness.” Ironically, the megalomaniacal Hitler is supposed to exemplify this quality best of all. The extinction of the individual assures the vitality of the race and nation. The führer, addressing the adoring throng, declares: “We will die [vergehen], but in you Germany will live on.” Echoing biblical language, he affirms: “You are flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood.” Accordingly, the Reichsparteitag stages the transmigration of souls, in particular through torch-lit processions. The dawn of a new order depends on a night that buries the ephemeral blur of appearances “today” and escorts new ones from the past, out of the depths of eternity. Hitler speaks cryptically of a “quiet pole” (ruhiger Pol)—a point in the heavens that, like the blood that circulates in the veins of the German people, governs life and death. Triumph of the Will captures the magic he invokes through pacing and editing that double the rhythms of the event, which it presents in condensed, intensified form. “You are Germany,” Hess tells Hitler. The latter, while accepting his role as the embodiment of the German nation, makes a gesture that extends to his auditors (and the viewers of the film, as well): “We are making our state for ourselves” (Wir schaffen uns unseren Staat). In this exchange, where the dead live on and the greatness of the present generation is manifest to coming ages, distinctions between past and present and between private life and shared experience collapse. In terms of the broader picture that interests us here, Triumph of the Will offers a mise-en-scène of the dynamic contradictions of the conservative revolution. The choreographed order of Nazi pageantry is captured and amplified by a cinematic spectacle that stages imaginary order where, in “real time,” the situation was much more chaotic. The circular structure of the film transforms the scattered political and geographical landscape of Germany into a unified whole. Defeat in World War I turns into part of a cycle of renewal, and the fallen rise in the new generation that strides forth in a manifestation of supreme will. The spectacle exemplifies aesthetic autonomy, but it also engineers anesthesia—a receptive, “open” state of self-loss.

Shock and Roll Without necessarily knowing as much—and, if so, rarely professing it openly—many individuals, groups, and, indeed, entire swaths of culture have operated by the logic of the conservative revolution. Parties animated by the ideals Mohler describes range from impenitent adherents to NationalPage 208 → Socialism and Italian fascism to members of national liberation movements elsewhere. The end of World War II might have marked the end of physical combat in Europe, but it did not mean that national rivalries there ceased. Moreover—and more importantly, perhaps—the geopolitical power shift, which saw definitive rise of the United States and Soviet Union, weakened the hold of Western European states on overseas colonies; the ensuing struggles for independence in the so-called Third World drew much of their spirit from the same intellectual and emotional source as the European movements that ignited in the “Old World” a few decades earlier. To borrow psychoanalytic terminology, struggle was “condensed” and “displaced” elsewhere. Mohler’s view is uncontroversial insofar as historians agree that a “cold war” succeeded a “hot” one. The remaining pages of this essay explore the counterintuitive notion—which follows from Mohler’s assertion that the conservative-revolutionary sensibility is, above all, aesthetic in nature—that much of the artistic and musical “underground” owes its vitality to a romance with totalitarianism and the will to power. In keeping with our focus, discussion is restricted to territories that enjoyed relative peace and prosperity—the United States and non-Soviet Europe—where, it might seem, no one had pressing reasons for militancy. Greil Marcus has likened the spirit of confrontation and revolt found in the historic avant-garde and musical culture of the latter half of the twentieth century.44 Dada, during World War I, and punk, in the 1970s, developed independently, yet they possess a similar structure and voice the same kind of protest. The underlying political circumstances are different, of course, but the modes of expression are analogous. The common denominator is an articulation of dissatisfaction, but it is not clear if phenomena fit into a unifying scheme in anything other than theoretical terms. Revolt can occur in the name of almost anything. It does not go without saying that dissenters are engaged in a project of general human improvement.

The standard narrative holds that Dada emerged in reaction to the horrors of World War I. Participants, one reads, viewed their European inheritance with dismay—and disgust, even—for it had culminated in barbarism on an unprecedented scale. This is true enough, but it is equally true that they responded in kind to the terror unleashed by governments—that is, by a campaign of aggression. Dadaist performance and art enacted only figural violence, yet the iconoclastic and willfully absurd actions took aim at images and institutions that counted as sacred (and especially in wartime). While actual combat orchestrated by politicians and generals tore apart the physical landscape, aesthetic militants tore at the symbolic fabric of Europe. Significantly, Dada produced nothing—apart from a scattered body of Page 209 →works now displayed, inert, in the museums that represent all they contested—that proved particularly enduring. Again, historians correctly observe that the tumultuous energies of Dada fed into surrealism in the 1920s, but surrealism was a different beast. It is an overstatement to say that Dada represented nothing but childish rebellion, but one respects the internal logic and justification of the phenomenon by taking seriously its avowed pointlessness, which was meant to reflect a lack of meaning in the world as a whole. The avant-gardes of yesterday and their more recent correlates complete a kind of circle. Just as dadaists had toyed with the images of their declared enemies—in particular, those of imperial Germany and its vestiges in the Weimar Republic—their “descendants” in the later twentieth century played with loaded symbols and signs guaranteed to provoke. Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie [1957–1979]), the luckless bassist for the English band Sex Pistols who murdered his girlfriend and died soon thereafter of a heroin overdose, was fond of sporting swastikas. This theatrical gesture did not amount to endorsing National Socialism. Instead, the attire signified adolescent rebellion, like the rest of Vicious’s appearance (and that of his bandmates—notably singer “Johnny Rotten”). Other performers of the time delighted in similarly incendiary references. On one end of the musical continuum, Throbbing Gristle—an outfit even more abrasive in sound than the Sex Pistols—released records with titles like “Zyklon-B Zombie” (a reference to the poison gas used at Auschwitz). The group described its releases and shows, which served up all things that might offend polite society, as “entertainment through pain.”45 The “postpunk” band Joy Division—which lasted from 1976 to 1980, when singer and founder Ian Curtis committed suicide—took its name from the word for a concentration-camp brothel in the 1955 novella House of Dolls. The name was meant to connote bleakness and despair; by flying the banner of alienation, Joy Division presented its songs as protest against the world that had made members the alienated specimens of humanity they were. Pink Floyd—a group not affiliated in any way with the raucous punk movement or related phenomena—also toyed with totalitarian imagery. The group’s 1979 album, The Wall (which was turned into a film three years later) features the fictive embodiment of the band itself taking the stage in fascist regalia and commanding an obedient audience. By this, the group meant to indict the mindlessness of their own fans and provoke self-examination. Fans of punk and kindred forms of culture point out extrinsic factors—the fading of optimistic youth movements from the 1960s, Thatcherism, and the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Page 210 →among other things—as “reasons” for the explosion of sonic anger. However, when one views punk and related phenomena “from the inside” and discounts the contingencies of biography and history, it is clear that the sound and the fury do not stand for much of anything besides revolt against the standing social order. Not for nothing is one of the most enduring slogans coined by the Sex Pistols a simple negation: “No Future.” When revolt yields articles of consumption—for example, records, T-shirts, and badges emblazoned with band names—content is sacrificed to form and attitudes (and ideas) turn into commodities. Holding up a mirror to social ills, whether by music or other means, need not occasion critical reflection at all, for the beguiling medium can overpower the message. Consumers often choose—or, alternately, they are constrained by habit and received ideas, which amounts to the same thing—to react in a manner unforeseen by producers. Potential for misunderstanding and misappropriation abounds in all communicative contexts, but especially when one works with iconography already heavily charged by history. Musicians’ use of the imagery of National Socialism may be meant to signify the very opposite of what it originally meant, but this does not mean that works are

correctly understood by the public. What, in this context, is the radical artist to do?

Counter-Counterculture The game of Г©pater les bourgeois—which is to say, basically, the game of shocking parties who have settled into positions of compromise with the standing order—has been practiced with more and less skill in recent decades. Particularly adroit performers include the group Laibach, founded in 1980—a coalition of artists in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia who adopted the German name for the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, when they launched their campaign of aesthetic confrontation.46 Although the group has increasingly adopted recognizable traits of a conventional rock band over the years, the music started in the context of theatrical events forming part of the movement that participants denominated Neue Slowenische Kunst (“New Slovenian Art”)—a name whose acronym, NSK, has the imposing echoes of early twentieth-century politics. In keeping with the image, Laibach has even stamped attendees’ passports at concerts—as if the audience had entered the sovereign territory of a sovereign state. “Geburt einer Nation” (Birth of a Nation), from the 1987 album Opus Dei, illustrates the dynamic at work. Page 211 →The song’s lyrics are as follows: Ein Mensch, ein Ziel,One man, one goal und eine Weisung.and one directive. Ein Herz, ein Geist,One heart, one spirit, nur eine LГ¶sung.Just one solution. Ein Brennen der Glut.One burning fervor. Ein Gott, Ein Leitbild.One God, one vision. Ein Fleisch, ein Blut,One flesh, one blood, ein wahrer Glaube.One true faith. Ein Ruf, ein Traum,One calling, one dream, ein starker WilleOne strong will. Gebt mir ein Leitbild.Give me one vision. .В .В . So reicht mir eure HГ¤nde,So reach me your hands und gebt mir eure Herzen.And give me your hearts, Ich warte.I’m waiting. Es gibt nur eine Richtung,There’s only one direction, eine Erde und ein Volk.One Earth, and one people. Ein Leitbild.One vision. Nicht Neid, nicht Streit.No envy, no quarrel,

Nur die Begeisterung.Only enthusiasm. Die ganze NachtThe whole night long feiern wir Einigung.We celebrate unification. Ein Fleisch, ein Blut,One flesh, one blood, ein wahrer Glaube.One true faith. Ein Ruf, ein Traum,One calling, one dream, ein starker WilleOne strong will. Gebt mir eine Nacht.Give me one night. Gebt mir einen Traum.Give me one dream. Nichts als das:Nothing but that: ein Mensch,One person, ein Mann,One man, ein Gedanke,One thought, Page 212 →eine Nacht,One night einmal.One time.В The words sound fascist: key terms of right-wing party phraseology (“blood,” “strong will,” “vision,” etc.) abound. The vocal delivery, which occurs in a gruff bark, and the instrumentation—pounding military drums and horns, mixed with the cheering of crowds—enhances the effect. However, Laibach did not write the music or the words to “Geburt einer Nation.” Only the title is of their choosing, and it is a quote, too: a reference to D. W. Griffith’s notorious 1915 film celebrating the Ku Klux Klan. The song is a cover version of “One Vision” (1985) by the tremendously successful English rock group Queen. When translated into German and performed in a more martial style, the song reveals an aspect likely to have escaped listeners. In fact, the lyrics to the English-language original already provide a hymn to power: One man one goal one mission, One heart one soul just one solution, One flash of light yeah one god one vision One flesh one bone, One true religion, One voice one hope, One real decision, Wowowowo gimme one vision

.В .В . One flesh one bone, One true religion, One voice one hope, One real decision, Wowowowowowo .В .В . Give me your hands, Give me your hearts, I’m ready, There’s only one direction, Page 213 →One world and one nation, Yeah one vision No hate no fight, Just excitation, All through the night, It’s a celebration wowowowo yeah One flesh one bone, One true religion, One voice one hope, One real decision, Gimme one night, Gimme one hope, Just gimme, One man one man, One bar one night, One day hey hey. Laibach’s version of Queen’s music brings out a totalitarian subtext. There is no way to tell whether the presentation is ironic or in earnest.

The same is true of the album as a whole. The title, Opus Dei, makes two references simultaneously. On the one hand, Opus Dei is the name of an organization within the Catholic Church, founded in Spain in 1928. Members of Opus Dei, under clerical guidance, endeavor to lead a life of holiness through austerity and self-discipline; the group is controversial because of its secretiveness and right-wing leanings. On the other hand, “Opus” is the name of an Austrian pop group that had a hit with the song “Live is Life” that Laibach also performs on the album—also in German translation. The artwork on the inner sleeve of Laibach’s record features four axes bound together to form a swastika. This image visually quotes a photomontage by Berlin dadaist John Heartfield, who originally created the picture to indict the destructiveness of National Socialism. By mixing up signs belonging to politics, religion, and (musical) commerce, Laibach draws attention to the international forces converging on their tiny country. Before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Laibach’s activities raised official eyebrows, but its exposure of the mechanisms of mystifications represented a form of ideological critique that could be reconciled with state Marxism. Page 214 →Their game with signs circulating in a small country within a region torn between Eastern and Western Europe, Christianity and Islam, and communism and capitalism, posed questions to which the subsequent course of events in ex-Yugoslavia has provided unpleasant “answers.” Laibach’s artistic saber-rattling preceded actual war by about a decade.

The Birth of Comedy? “I had a dream / When I was young,” sings Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 1946, in Zanzibar) in the song that Laibach Germanizes: A dream of sweet illusion, A glimpse of hope and unity, And visions of one sweet union, But a cold wind blows, And a dark rain falls, And in my heart it shows, Look what they’ve done to my dream. The key word here is “dream.” The singer, who would die of AIDS in 1991, laments the passing of youth and its promises—which may be considered not just personal, but generational as well. It is a matter of general consensus, if not established historical fact, that when Queen stepped onto the scene, it was a time of optimism for popular entertainers and their fans. The dream of late 1960s and early 1970s “counterculture” was over when “One Vision” was recorded—or, more accurately, it had become a dream within a dream, a wish for the future that belonged to the past. Laibach does not accept such nostalgia. Possibly, they are not hostile toward the ideals of the previous generation, but, as unconventional Marxists, take a dim view of their betrayal and cooptation by market forces. What, if any, “politics” the group really endorses is far from certain. The same holds true for other performers who toy with totalitarian imagery. It is not the job of artists and musicians to have well-defined positions on anything; indeed, their craft relies on exploiting ambiguity and giving it vivid expression, whether to articulate how they themselves feel or to elicit an intellectual or emotional response from their audience. One more example will allow the discussion to end on an appropriately Page 215 →ambiguous note. Death in June, a group formed in England in 1981, has, like Laibach, existed for over thirty years now. After a few years as an ensemble, the band became a solo project led by founding member Douglas Pearce, whose preference for using

only his first name and last initial (“Douglas P.”) represents a public gesture of self-concealment. Although the identity of members was never really a secret at all, photographs of the band tended to show them—typically, in military-style uniforms and short haircuts—from behind and in front of monuments and burial sites. On later releases, Douglas P. often wears combat fatigues in a German and World War II style and a grotesque carnival mask. The music on Death in June releases ranges from sparse songs on guitar to bombastic audio collages with ominously intoned spoken overlays. The band’s fondness for Nazi regalia (e.g., the SS death’s head, with the numeral 6 added to signify “June”) is mediated by postwar literature and film: the novels of Jean Genet and Yukio Mishima, as well as cinematic works such as Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969), Liliana Cavani’s Night Porter (1974), and AugustГ- Villaronga’sIn a Glass Cage (1987). These works share a view of the Third Reich (or, in the case of Mishima, of paramilitary, nationalist organizations) that is, at points, stylized in the extreme. With different emphases, they all explore the seduction of power, especially as they form (or deform) gender roles. Douglas P., who has expressed his homosexuality in provocative terms,47 demonstrates both a fascination with fascism and a fascination for the fascination with fascism. That is, the man behind the mask is a child of his times who takes up and plays with images of others’ creation. The results may be deemed an expression of (very) dark “camp.” Laying hold of the dream within a dream, Death in June’s music and performances insinuate that fantasies—and not just the singer’s own—harbor terrible secrets. “The guilty have no pride,” as one song (which lends its name to an album) puts it. For life to continue, innocence is required—but innocence does not mean blamelessness. After World War II, the imagery and phraseology associated with Hitler and his regime, although subject to criminalization, became laden with the charm of the forbidden, and taboos turned into totems. Moreover, the ideals that the Nazis exploited have continued to exercise seductive force, if in mutated form. Politics and aesthetics may be fused, but art has also retained its autonomy—the power, that is, to defy good and evil alike. If, as Karl Marx famously wrote, history repeats itself, as tragedy, then farce, this does not mean that everyone gets the joke. Indeed, if history really is, before all else, a spectacle of pity and fear, then it doesn’t leave much to laugh at, anyway. Page 216 →

Notes 1.James Gilbert, A Cycle of Outrage: America’s Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988). 2.The same is true of individual performers, whether they invent an alter ego (e.g., “Bob Dylan”) or not. 3.Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, 1918–1932: Ein Handbuch (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972); the author discusses his methods on pp. 18–20. 4.Indeed, throughout the book, the phrase appears only in scare quotes. 5.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 113–117. 6.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 37. 7.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 42. 8.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 122. 9.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 82–86. 10.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 86–90. 11.On this matter—and its resonances in German culture of the early twentieth century—see David Pan, Primitive Renaissance: Rethinking German Expressionism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001). 12.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 128. 13.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 67. 14.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 63. 15.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 67–77. 16.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 123–126.

17.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 123. 18.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 64. 19.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 13. 20.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 13. 21.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 13. 22.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 32. 23.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 32. 24.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 33. 25.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 33. 26.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 98ff. 27.Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution, 76–77. 28.Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper, 2008), 139–212. 29.Cf. her autobiography, Leni Riefenstahl, A Memoir (New York: Picador, 1995). 30.Eric Rentschler, The Ministry of Illusion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), 28. 31.After the war, American interrogators remarked Riefenstahl’s “lack of moral poise.” Steven Bach, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (New York: Vintage, 2008), 225. 32.Rentschler, The Ministry of Illusion, 28. 33.JГјrgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991). Page 217 → 34.Hitler and his loyalists were obsessed not only with glorifying Germany and Germans, but also with uncovering and eliminating enemies within the social body. Except for giving a couple seconds of screen time to Julius Streicher in a rapid review of the lesser speakers at the rally, Triumph of the Will has no connection to the latter aspect of National Socialism. 35.Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1969), 242. 36.See the careful commentary by Russell A. Berman in Modern Culture and Critical Theory: Art Politics, and the Legacy of the Frankfurt School (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 34–41. 37.Benjamin, “The Work of Art,” 242. 38.Hermann Broch, “Das BГ¶se im Wertsystem der Kunst,” in Schriften zur Literatur, vol. 2 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1975), 131. 39.Broch, “Das BГ¶se im Wertsystem der Kunst,” 131. 40.See, among other works, George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1968), which collects valuable source material. 41.On the mystical values ascribed to symbols appropriated by the Nazis, see Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology (London: Tauris Parke, 2004), and Malcolm Quinn, The Swastika: Constructing the Symbol (London: Routledge, 1994). 42.This connection was made is mediated by Hitler’s favorite composer; cf. Joachim KГ¶hler, Wagner’s Hitler: The Prophet and His Disciple, trans. Ronald Taylor (Oxford: Polity Press, 2000). 43.“You represent a great idea, and we know that, for millions of fellow comrades in our people [Volksgenossen], work will no longer be a concept that divides them, but instead one that unites them.” 44.Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009). 45.For telling interviews with Throbbing Gristle, collaborators, and like-minded contemporaries, see Andrea Juno and V. Vale, eds., Industrial Culture Handbook (San Francisco: V/Search, 1983). 46.For a sustained discussion of the group’s activities, see Alexei Monroe, Interrogation Machine: Laibach and NSK (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005). 47.“I prefer to suck white, uncircumcised cocks of a certain age so I suppose that rules out quite a few races and religions in one huge act of sexual discrimination. However, that’s natural selection for you.”; accessed September 16, 2012.

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Part III • Research Wings for the Right

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Part Introduction Something’s Happening Here: Encountering Vanguard Performance in Context Graham White The following essays build on this volume’s explorations of vanguard formations, political alignments, and the aesthetics of performance to consider how scholarly and artistic responses to the questions they provoke are duty bound to investigate the ideological and institutional roots of their own perspectives, and to explore the consequences of such investigation for contemporary theory and practice. These pieces examine cutting-edge, experimental, and vanguard material in the context of its historical, institutional, and professional settings. To steal from the imagery of James Harding’s contribution, none of the essays is able to offer a lighted flarepath for the agent exploring the occupied territory of avant-garde or vanguard studies, but each shows a reflexive concern with the borders and parameters of that territory and with the received assumptions that have led to its current demarcation. In doing so, they also provide a series of closely argued dialogues with power and its relatively hidden networks of coercion and control. They illustrate that the industries and institutions in which experimental art practice or academic theory operate are hands that feed and enable its existence. Yet those hands often remain open only through the fulfillment of certain kinds of “efficiency” and the operation of particular forms of political engagement. At the same time, the positions from which audiences and critics engage with avant-garde and experimental performance also require constant, vigilant monitoring. Mike Sell’s essay points to the unasked questions (unasked, as he points out, because the need to ask them is largely unrecognized) that destabilize Page 222 →received models of vanguard aesthetics, and which force a reading of avant-gardes as particular, situated, and “historically contingent” presences. His detailed analysis of the relationship between avant-garde art and the politics of national unity in World War I France shows how misleading it can be to raise theoretical models into transhistorical abstractions. In reexamining the famous and much-analyzed 1917 production of Parade, Sell indicates how a focus on form has tended to obscure the unexpectedly reactionary “ideological scene” in which the production occurred, and his discussion of Apollinaire’s onstage appearance gives us a performative illustration of the dressing of the experimental in the uniform of national sacrifice. This attention to questions of history and ideology leads him to a considered and engaged analysis of the problematic perspectives offered by contemporary models of the avant-garde emerging from New Modernist Studies. These, he argues, tend to elide the historical, political, and economic locatedness of the aesthetic practices they examine and thus to mistake the radicalism of the material encountered. In her exploration of the contemporary space of academic artistic experimentation in the UK, Liz Tomlin illustrates the ways that ideology, operating through economic and institutional structures, acts to define the limits and possibilities of practice. She reflects on the landscape of nurtured experimental live art, performance, and theater in the UK, which often exists in a dependent relationship with academic institutions. This landscape is necessarily being reshaped by the jolting transformation of the economic model on which UK higher education arts and humanities funding operates through the recent removal of all government funding for those subjects at university level at the same moment as student tuition fees have been tripled—supposedly for the fees to make up the difference. Tomlin suggests that the ever-familiar recuperation of avant-garde innovation might now be seen to operate in space where that which has not previously been of or in the market is co-opted by neoliberal economics. She points out that in this setting, the critical consecration of vanguard practice is in many ways a repetitious processing of tropes that are self- and market- perpetuated. James Harding analyzes the performative elements of espionage as staged through the multiple channelings, impersonations, and deceptions of radio broadcast and communications in World War II, presenting it as a significant illustration of the “radical blurring of art and life” characteristic of avant-garde innovations in drama and theater. Key to his essay is the recovery of the centrality of military vanguardism to vanguard

culture—not only as metaphor, but also as actuality—and a reading of technologically enabled espionage as a form of state-sponsored theatricality. Harding’s analysis provokes Page 223 →that sense of a slippage between methods and effects familiar to the consideration of right-wing vanguard appropriations with his recognition that vanguard performances in the Allied cause were broken, turned, and reconstructed for the purposes of the Axis powers. Thus the same methodologies served both sides, and Harding’s fascinating discussion of das Englandspiel illustrates the pervasiveness of the language of theatricality in this setting, and the credulousness of the British Special Operations Executive in reading and consuming these performances. Harding suggests that the supposed “cutting edge” of innovation, illustrated in the case of the double agent Dericourt, here became the “rough edges of negotiation,” in a constantly shifting liminal space open to exploitation by those “who possess the power to subordinate it to their political agenda.” Kim Solga’s subtle and conscientious rereading of a particular actor’s performance, that of Olivia Williams as Beatrice Joanna in Cheek by Jowl’s 2006–2011 production of Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s 1622 play The Changeling, focuses on the performer’s labor to establish a complex, progressive politics of performance through acts of subversive playing as it meshes with the spectator’s work of close and attentive analysis. In this encounter, repeated examination of Williams’s increasingly nuanced performance has led Solga to reconsider her own previous reading of the production as a vanguard troubling the representation of gender and sexuality in a canonical drama. Faced with a nagging concern that the production’s ambitious and complex representation of Beatrice Joanna in fact risked reinscribing rather than subverting stereotypes, Solga’s looking again at the material specifics of the actor’s performance demonstrates the powerful impact of repeat reading in drawing out the latent and the occluded—and the residually progressive—from a text or performance. Her essay is testimony to the need for the spectator, critic, academic to worry away at that which remains troubling, and at the specifics of the something happening in front of her. All of these essays eloquently point to the ways that examination of the contexts, impacts, and positions of experimental aesthetics allows for reconsideration of quite what a particular vanguard leads, and where its leadership is heading. As Alan Filewod has suggested elsewhere,1 consideration of vanguard practices is no longer concerned so much with their transhistorical forms as it is with their—particular, specific, and historically located—effects.

Note 1.Alan Filewod in Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical, ed. Mike Sell (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 145–146.

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Encrypted Vanguards and Bleeding-Edge Technologies Signals Intelligence, Radio Drama, and the False Transmissions of the Special Operations Executive James Harding

Wireless Performances in the 1930s One year before Hitler came to power, Bertolt Brecht published his now famous essay “Radio as a Means of Communication: A Talk on the Function of Radio.” Not only is this essay notable for its subtle descriptions of the mutual compatibility of radio and epic theater, but it is also notable for its lament “that at a certain point in time technology was far enough advanced to produce radio while society was not sufficiently advanced to take it up.”1 As a consequence of this disparity between technological and social progress, so Brecht argues, radio remained “one-sided when it should have [had] two sides.” It remained “a pure instrument of distribution” when in fact it could and should have been “converted from a distribution system to a communication system,” capable “not only of transmitting but of receiving, of making the listener not only hear but also speak, not of isolating him but of connecting him.”2 Considered from a historical perspective, what is perhaps most remarkable about Brecht’s essay is that it is arguably as visionary as it is shortsighted. On the one hand, one can plausibly argue that in his vision of radio’s untapped social potential as a means of communication rather than of distribution, Brecht foresees what ultimately became the Internet. At the very least, his emphasis on the give-and-take of “communication” also foresees a variation of the kind of audience participation that would become a hallmark of later avant-garde performances in the mid and late twentieth century. On the other hand, Brecht’s comments seriously underestimatedPage 225 → not only the speed with which radio technology would develop but also the political warfare that this development would enable—warfare that revolved around competing modes of communication. When Brecht’s essay was published in 1932, there were only five European high-power radio stations capable of transmitting at 100 kilowatts. By 1937 that number had grown to seventy stations—some of whose transmissions were powered in ranges of 200 to 500 kilowatts.3 Though minimal by today’s standards, this development nonetheless enabled Italian fascists to broadcast anti-British and fascist propaganda all the way to Jerusalem. It also enabled European adversaries to broadcast directly to each other’s citizens. While the result of this rapid technological development was not necessarily the kind of communication that Brecht had in mind, by the late 1930s the average European listener had access to a barrage of competing political broadcasts in a fullscale war of conflicting ideologies and propaganda, a war that would continue throughout the actual armed conflicts of World War II, during which time Allied and Axis powers announced “over the radio the names of newly captured prisoners of war in order to encourage people in the enemy territory to listen to [propaganda] broadcasts.”4 In fact, a little over a year before Germany marched into Poland and ignited World War II, CГ©sar Saerchinger was arguing that wireless communications would play an absolutely indispensable role in the coming war. Unlike in World War I, when a good wire-cutter could wreak havoc on an enemy’s ability to coordinate troops, cutting cables in the late 1930s could no longer effectively disrupt communication. “The most important channels of communication,” Saerchinger argued, “are in the ether.” Not only were radio transmissions difficult to jam, but “in the matter of communications,” Saerchinger observed, “secrecy can be assured even in the air by modern methods of вЂscrambling’ speech” and the use of “adequate language codes.”5 But perhaps most interesting of all was Saerchinger’s assessment of the impact that new radio technologies would have on espionage. In his 1938 essay, he argued: As for messages broadcast to spies and agents in neutral countries, radio apparatus nowadays is perfected to a point where a minute short-wave receiver can pick up such communications over thousands of miles, and a mere bar of music or a quotation from literature might convey important

instructions to those in possession of the code. The possibilities here are illimitable and too fantastic to prognosticate.6

If those fantastic possibilities seem to be far from Brecht’s interest in the ways that radio might “carry out an entirely new kind of propaganda for the theatre,”Page 226 → they do fall in line with Brecht’s call for radio to be a two-sided mechanism of communication as well as his call for radio to communicate what he describes as “genuine information, indispensable information.” Given that spies and agents frequently work under the cover of calculated deceptions and false identities, the possibilities described by Saerchinger arguably also fall in line with Brecht’s call for radio to be “closely bound up with theatre,” “to be a worthy complement to drama,” and to “develop entirely new forms.”7 Brecht specifically chose not to “elaborate on” what those new forms might be, but Saerchinger’s reference to radio transmissions between spies, clandestine agents, and their handlers certainly points in one plausible direction. Brigid Doherty has argued that “Brecht’s conception of the Umfunktionierung of the radio cannot be separated from his efforts toward the Umfunktionierung of the theatre.”8 Nor, I would suggest, can Saerchinger’s assessment of new broadcast technologies be separated from a recognition of how radio transformed the performative foundations of espionage. Of course, the connection between performance, theater, and espionage has a long-established history. The poet John Hollander reminds us, for example, that beyond simple truisms like “spies are actors in improvised scenarios,” the terms “actor and agent have a common Latin ancestry.”9 If that common ancestry places the performative dimensions of espionage within traditions old enough that the British historian Phillip Knightley could credibly give his unconventional history of Western espionage the title The Second Oldest Profession, Saerchinger’s 1938 essay places emergent radio technologies at the site of a radical transformation not only of espionage and intelligence work more generally but of espionage as a mode of performance in particular. If Brecht was looking for a use of radio that was “closely bound up with theatre” and that developed “entirely new forms,” it was here. Not only did espionage redefine the boundaries of conventional political theater and performance, but broadcast technologies also complemented the clandestine performances of espionage with a unique form of encrypted radio drama where the information was, in fact, “indispensable,” where the dramatic stakes were genuinely life-and-death, and where the political fate of Europe seemingly hung in the balance of which members of the audience could or could not decipher the coded languages of its scripts.

Cutting-Edge Technologies and Advanced Guards All of this occurred at a pivotal moment in the larger history of performance and the new media, and it is worth pausing momentarily to consider Page 227 →the profound degree of faith that those who participated in these dramas had in casting their lot and their hopes with new technologies like wireless radio and coded transmissions. There is an aura of something hovering about those hopes that, for lack of a better term, one might characterize with the oxymoron “secular mysticism,” and in fact this aura had been hovering about radio technologies for some time. The omnipresence of detached voices and esoteric, secretive messages lent radio an almost mystical, gnostic, and yet always explicable quality, and this was evident early on. In his recently published history of British signals intelligence, Richard Aldrich, for example, begins his opening chapter with a quick critical account of Rudyard Kipling’s short story “Wireless” from 1904, which was published two years after the first transatlantic wireless message was sent. Aldrich notes that Kipling’s story “is the first public discussion of the secret business of signals intelligence,” and he argues that for Kipling’s readers the narrative of this early intelligence story must have “seemed utterly magical” and yet all the more compelling because it was now technologically possible. Crucial in his summary of Kipling’s story is the moment shortly after one of the men eavesdropping on a foreign transmission “observes that it reminds him of a seance.” Marking the moment when magic yields its power to technology, Aldrich notes that in Kipling’s story the eavesdropper’s companion “retorts that spiritualists and mediums вЂare all impostors,’” whereas the messages that the eavesdroppers have intercepted “are the real thing.”10 Aldrich’s book plots the history of England’s efforts to gain access to “the real thing” while

denying access to their enemies. But the moment that he recounts from Kipling’s short story is not far conceptually from F. T. Marinetti’s claim in the “Futurist Manifesto” that “at last Mythology and the mystic cult of the ideal have been left behind.”11 Nor is it far from the moment described by Brecht when theater becomes theater by separating from ritual—bringing “over from the mysteriesВ .В .В . not its former ritual function but purely and simply the pleasure which accompanied this.”12 While the aura of spiritual mysticism may dissipate, a surrogate theatricality is propped up in its stead, and in the realm of radio signals intelligence, that surrogate is shrouded in a new and secular mysticism, that is, in the clandestine operations and closely guarded secrets of the secular state. It is here that profound instances of vanguardism operate. If there is an aura of secular mysticism in those secretive, state-sponsored operations and in the faith of those who cast their lot with new forms of radio signals intelligence, so too is there an aura of vanguardism that hovers about the new technologies that Brecht and Saerchinger celebrate and also about the military activity in which the potential of those technologies was Page 228 →first realized. In his linking of emerging technologies with a call for new theatrical forms, for example, Brecht’s embrace of the untapped theatrical dimensions of radio falls well within the recognizable registers of European avant-gardists like the futurists whose unabashed celebration of modern technology was matched only by their appreciation of the destructive power of war. Brecht was no futurist, but his interest in the radical political potential of radio as a new venue for performance certainly belongs within the avant-gardist traditions of seeking the kinds of performative innovations that would wrest theater from its bourgeois trappings. Saerchinger’s celebration of the new forms of radio signals intelligence, on the other hand, could easily have served as a letter of introduction to any local chapter of futurist manquГ©s. His assessment of the impact that new radio technologies would have on espionage and on the coming war was not so much a celebration of the substance of the intelligence itself as it was of the cutting-edge technologies that facilitated it. This was a celebration that could have rivaled Marinetti’s praise of “great ships,” “rogue locomotives,” “roaring motor car[s],” “militarism,” and “war.”13 It is not merely the celebration of modern technologies that situates Saerchinger as a kindred spirit among avantgardists like the futurists. It is the manner in which Saerchinger, amid his praise of the wartime potential of the wireless, reduces artifacts of culture like literature and classical music to simple building blocks for the cryptographer’s manipulation. It is easy to overlook how culturally subversive Saerchinger was in 1938 in his sense that “a mere bar of music or a quotation from literature might convey important instructions to those in possession of the code.” But in point of fact, one would be hard pressed to find a more direct subversion of “the autonomy of art” or of art as an institution. During the first part of the twentieth century, European avant-garde artists routinely displayed their disregard for the artifacts of high culture by redirecting them toward radically unconventional ends. (Think of L.H.O.O.Q., Duchamp’s vandalized Mona Lisa.) Saerchinger’s sentiments follow a parallel trajectory and ranked the covert agents and clandestine paramilitary operatives who utilized literary tropes in their coded radio transmissions among the boldest and most courageous of the vanguards. Here was a radical blurring of art and life that in the finest traditions of the avant-gardes challenged the sanctity of literary masterpieces, abandoning the rarified “truths” of literature in favor of “the real thing” of signals intelligence. If we were to borrow the language of double agents and their handlers to describe the effect in what Saerchinger foresaw, it would not be inaccurate to say that Saerchinger’s vision literally “turns” literature, forcing it to serve a new master. Page 229 →Saerchinger’s discussion of what one might describe as the “turning” of literature in coded radio transmissions—a “turning” that was its conceptual Umfunktionerung—appeared in the same year as The Theater and Its Double, Antonin Artaud’s visionary prescription for an avant-garde theater that also challenged the sanctity of literary masterpieces. The close temporal proximity of Saerchinger’s and Artaud’s publications was perhaps a matter of coincidence. But they were both forward-looking in their own right. In some respects Saerchinger was more so. Unlike Artaud, whose vision has never fully been realized, Saerchinger’s vision accurately predicted a key strategy of encryption employed by the British during World War II. He—like his British counterparts—was only naive in his belief that literature could keep its secrets once it was “turned” for service in signals intelligence and military conflict. The British learned at great cost that basing encryption on literary texts made them easy prey for code breakers. As it happened, literature that

had been “turned” could be turned again—turned, in short, into the catalyst for double agency—in the high-stakes games of intelligence and counterintelligence that played out across the radio waves as Europe spiraled into destructive military conflict. The costs of such naive assumptions all played out in the theaters of war, and the specific theaters of war in which signals intelligence and encryption were key were themselves very much a part of the vanguards. It is all well and good to speak of cutting-edge technologies or of a subversive disregard for literary culture. These things belong to discussions of the avant-gardes. But more than anything else, Saerchinger’s discussion of the wartime potential of radio technologies reminds us that, at the advent of World War II, those who communicated through the ether belonged to the advanced guard in the classic military sense of the term. The spies and clandestine operatives to which Saerchinger refers were not only “at” but, in many respects, often constituted the actual front line of battle. They were the avant-garde. Their radio-coordinated acts of espionage and sabotage literally sought to prepare the way for those who were to follow. The question is not so much whether Saerchinger identifies an avant-garde but rather how one might take stock of this moment of vanguardism. For it demands adjustment in how scholars have tended heretofore to think about the military in the histories of the avant-gardes. At one point or another, scholars who study the avant-gardes all tend to acknowledge the military origins of the term. But this acknowledgment normally situates that origin as a point in the distant past that was then superseded in the early nineteenth century when left-leaning activists appropriated the term and began speaking, first, of the political avant-garde and then Page 230 →of art and artists who like their political counterparts were working toward similar revolutionary ends. The problem with this familiar narrative, as Mike Sell has recently pointed out, is not only that the militaristic “historical and symbolic legacies should give any user of the term вЂavantgarde’ cause to pause,”14 but that this narrative also too neatly buries the military vanguards in the past. Indeed, one of the cornerstone arguments of Sell’s book Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War is that in order to understand vanguardism as a phenomenon it is necessary to restore “the military to the metaphor.”15 The logic behind this argument is grounded in the recognition that, despite political and cultural activists appropriating the term avant-garde as a metaphor for their own purposes, the military itself never relinquished its own evolving sense of vanguardism: its development of cutting-edge technologies, of increasingly sophisticated shock tactics, and of highly specialized elite troops. As a consequence, not only does one need to speak of the multiple concurrent trajectories of the avant-gardes, but, moreover, these multiple trajectories often intertwine and feed one another. With regard to emergent radio technologies, the boundaries between the vanguardism of Brecht’s call for new political theatrical forms and the vanguardism of the military’s use of radio in clandestine operations is blurry at best. While the term avant-garde may have its origins in eighteenth-century discourses of the military (or some would argue even earlier), Saerchinger’s 1938 discussion of emergent signals intelligence places the military avantgardes not in the distant past but in a pivotal position at the outbreak of World War II, a position they continued to occupy throughout the war itself. Indeed, at the war’s end, Winston Churchill told King George VI that the war was won (and lost) among the competing vanguards of military signals intelligence and counterintelligence.16 Churchill was a bit of an intelligence junkie, and historians still debate the accuracy of his report to the king. But two things are worth remembering about Churchill’s expressed opinion. His opinion was based in large part on the role that signet (signals intelligence) played in the preparations leading up to D-Day. That role was less the consequence of successful intelligence gathering than it was of successful dissemination of disinformation. In short, it was the result of staged deception via radio technologies. As much as they gathered accurate intelligence, so too did the cutting edge of signet technologies thus propagate new modes of theatricality. Amid this statesponsored theatricality “the real thing” was often little more than a high-stakes game of endless subterfuge and deception built upon subterfuge and deception—a game that was played on both sides. Page 231 →

Mixed Signals through the Flames: False Transmissions while “Setting Europe Ablaze”

High though Churchill’s opinion might have been of these games, the results were historically much less glamorous than Churchill or Hollywood encourages us to believe and far less “fantastic” than Saerchinger imagined. In this respect, Saerchinger was wise not “to prognosticate” about where the “illimitable” and “fantastic” possibilities of radio technologies and encryption codes might lead clandestine operations and espionage. For at decisive moments in World War II, those “illimitable” possibilities resulted in little more than dismal failures. Time and again, speech was unscrambled, codes were compromised, and “enigmas” broken. Agents were captured and “played” in elaborate games of counterintelligence and disinformation. In other respects, however, the great irony of those failures—and this is worth emphasizing—is that they generated far more complex and intriguing moments of performance than even Brecht foresaw in his call for a theater that transforms and is itself transformed by radio technologies. If those failures generated complex moments of performance, so too did they leave us with opportunities to reflect upon the wider implications of particular forms of vanguardism that ultimately proved to be vulnerable not merely to code breakers but also to sophisticated strategies of appropriation that literally reversed their political orientation. And therein lies the rub. At the front line of the theater of war where deception and counterdeception played out across the radio waves, we find formations of vanguard performance that, while ostensibly positioned as the front guard of progressive antifascist forces, were in fact compromised, “turned,” and redirected in support of the right-wing agenda of the fascist war machine: we find instances of secret, double, and triple agency. What appeared to be a progressive vanguard readily lent itself repeatedly to transformation into a vanguard of the Right, or at times lent itself to playing Left and Right simultaneously. There is always a danger in positing general principles across the spectrum of the avant-gardes from the particulars of an individual vanguard. But inasmuch as the new radio technologies emerging at the outset of World War II engendered multiple, simultaneous forms of vanguardism, there is much that can be learned about vanguards from the left and right in the examples set amid the failed vanguards of World War II. Indeed, what we discover among the military vanguards that used the new technologies of signals intelligence during World War II are clear indications that the vanguards were neither right nor left in the structures of their formation. What constituted the vanguards Page 232 →were the tactics and methodologies of intelligence and clandestine operations that were employed by highly trained agents and saboteurs. When agents were captured and “turned,” those same tactics and methodologies could be deployed in the service of diametrically opposite political factions. There are numerous examples from the history of secret agency in World War II that illustrate this very point, but there are few better examples than those that can be found in the history of Great Britain’s Special Operations Executive. Created in late July 1940 and disbanded in June 1946, the SOE existed concurrently with SIS/MI6, and, in many respects, was a rival organization. Conceptualized as an advance guard, its commission was “in Churchill’s laconic phraseВ .В .В . to вЂset Europe ablaze.’”17 Its primary responsibility was not intelligence gathering but sabotage and subversion in German-occupied territories—the kind of activity that would presumably cultivate popular uprisings among the local populations and lay the groundwork for a subsequent allied invasion. But in some respects, the distinction between spies and saboteurs is purely academic. As Jean Overtone Fuller noted: while SOE agents “were not вЂspies’ in the literal sense” since “their function was not the collection of information but the reception and distribution of arms parachuted from England for storage and use when the Invasion was mounted,” they conducted their activities “in civilian clothes under false identities, and if they were brought before a German court they would certainly be adjudged as falling in the category of spies and shot.”18 Ultimately, many were shot or sent to concentration camps where they were subsequently murdered. But if nothing else, the sheer scope of the SOE as a program was impressive. When it was disbanded in 1946, the SOE “had trained and equipped over 9,000 agents and placed them into enemy territoryВ .В .В . in France, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Yugoslavia, Greece, the Middle East and the Far East.”19 They were not without their successes. In 1941 in Pessac, France, for example, they were able to shut down the power station for over a year, having successfully destroyed a number of its transformers.20 In 1942, when the Germans “marched into the southern half of France, [SOE] saboteurs set fire to fifty wagons bringing food to troops in Marseilles.”21 Even more memorable perhaps, in 1942 Colonel Frank Spooner, the “head of the SOE’s training school,” organized the assassination of the infamous SS-ObergruppenfГјhrer Reinhard Heydrich, who had chaired the

Wannsee Conference and who, at the time of his assassination, was “the Protector of Czechoslovakia.” Whether that assassination proved to be a success or a catastrophe is a matter of historical debate. Philip Knightley cites the assassination of Heydrich as a classic example of how the SOE was blind to the moral implications of its actions, since, according the Knightley, Page 233 →“the leaders of the SOE mustВ .В .В . have known that the Germans would exact terrible reprisals on the local population [in order] to deter it from helping SOE agents.”22 And the Germans did. After Heydrich’s assassination, they murdered the entire population of Lidice and razed the town, and it was not until after they had systematically murdered another village and threatened similar reprisals in Prague that Heydrich’s assassins, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik, were finally captured and killed.23 If the clarity of such moral decisions is lost in the fog of war, there were less ambiguous and ultimately more scandalous failures to be found in the operations of the SOE—failures that bring us back to the complex forms of radio drama spawned from within the broadcast waves of the SOE’s coded radio transmissions between France and London and between Holland and London. To a large extent, the public had little knowledge of those failures until the mid and late 1950s, when the war was over and a number of books critical of the SOE slowly began to appear. Two important examples were Jean Overton Fuller’s Double Web, which was published in early October 1958, and Elizabeth Nicholas’s Death be Not Proud published just two weeks after Fuller’s book. The combined effect of these two books, each quite critical of the SOE, was to generate a storm of outrage in the British Parliament, where roughly a month after the publication of Fuller’s book, the Conservative MP Dame Irene Ward, put forth a motion demanding an inquiry into the infiltration of the SOE by German agents.24 But this was not the first time a publication had provoked the British Parliament to call for inquiries into the SOE. Fuller’s book appeared roughly a half of a decade after Herman Giskes’s book London ruft Nordpol, originally published in 1950, was translated and published by the British Book Center in 1953. Giskes was the former chief of German Military Counter-Espionage in the Netherlands and a primary architect of a counterespionage operation called Operation North Pole that lasted for roughly twenty months, during which time the Germans not only captured some fifty-four SOE agents but were able to do so by forcing many of them to maintain supervised radio transmissions back to London. Crucial to this operation was the Germans’ ability to seize the captured SOE agents’ radio transmitters and code books, with which they then were able to stage an elaborate performance at London’s expense—a performance dubbed das Englandspiel, or the “England play.” Sometimes, the Germans also referred to it simply as das Funkspiel, and in what is often considered to be the definitive study of cryptology, The Code-Breakers, author David Kahn remarks that the Germans “could not have named it better. вЂFunk’ means вЂradio,’ while вЂSpiel’ means вЂplay’ or вЂperformance.’”25 Page 234 →By all accounts, it was an elaborate performance, broadcast concurrently with multiple radios. “At the peak of the operation the Germans were running seventeen transmitters and [the] SOE was dropping an enormous quantity of arms, ammunition, explosives, food, clothing and money straight into enemy hands”26—not to mention the actual agents that London also sent, who, in turn, were greeted by German agents, taken prisoner, and either tricked or forced into cooperating with the operation in some fashion or another. When the English translation of Giskes’s book appeared in 1953, the Times’ review of it noted that the publication had “raised a small storm and a parliamentary demand for a full investigation.” The review also noted—without commentary!—that the government’s response to this demand was the simple statement: “It is contrary to the public interestВ .В .В . to publish details of the affairs of secret organizations.”27 This, of course, was a rather cynical and largely transparent code for a public-be-damned attitude and an authoritative assertion that it was never in the government’s interest to subject itself to the kind of scrutiny that would result from publishing details of the failures of clandestine operations.28 And yet the real dramas—the complex, multilayered performances that played out across the radio waves—were in those details, and at important junctures those details were strikingly similar in France and Holland. Crucial in this regard were the undercurrents to Fuller’s narrative and the postscript to Giskes’s book.

Decoy Transmissions and Radio at the Bleeding Edge

Ostensibly, Jean Overton Fuller’s book Double Web was about her efforts to find out what had happened to her childhood friend Noor Inayat Khan, who, as an SOE agent, had been part of the compromised Prosper network in France and who, after having been arrested in Paris by the Germans in October 1943, was finally executed at Dachau in late 1944. Fuller’s book ultimately moves past this tragic loss of her friend and focuses instead on the complex history of the double agent Henri Dericourt, whom Fuller defends against lingering suspicions that he was a traitor. But one of the important subplots of Fuller’s narrative centers on how the Germans in France, on a similar but smaller scale than that of their colleagues in the Netherlands, were able to gain control of the Prosper network radios and thus “play” the network’s communications with London in a “radio game” of “decoy transmissions.”29 Subsequent scholars like Sarah Helm have noted that while Noor Inayat Khan was heroic in her unwillingness to cooperate with the Germans, the Germans found her notes and codes and—in a bizarrePage 235 → moment of transgendered warfare—were able to send decoy transmissions using her code name “Madeline.” In this respect, there were many parallels between the kinds of performances orchestrated on SOE radios by German counterespionage officers like Herman Giskes in the Netherlands and his counterpart Hans Josef Kieffer in France. Both Giskes and Kieffer had German agents capable of assuming the false and coded identities that the British had given to their clandestine SOE operatives. But Giskes and Kieffer were both also able to manipulate individual SOE operatives into cooperation—thus adding yet another layer of performance to the deceptions that the SOE agents had already agreed to by assuming false identities in German-occupied territories. In short, Giskes and Kieffer proved to be quite successful in casting SOE agents in Germany’s radio drama with London, a drama that was layered over the original radio drama that London believed itself to be playing in a guerrilla war against the Germans. In the Netherlands alone, the extent of this multilayered drama was staggering. Nigel West notes, for example, that “during the course of вЂdas Englandspiel’ more than four thousand signals were exchanged, unwittingly, by Baker Street with the enemy.”30 The issue here was not merely that spies were actors in improvised scenarios. Across the radio waves, the dramas were playing to the deceptive—and I would suggest highly seductive—frequencies of single, double, and seemingly triple crosses. Some sense of the multilayered complexity of these radio dramas can be garnered by looking at the two pivotal SOE agents on whom the German dramas depended in France and in Holland. Fuller notes that once captured and detained by the Germans in Paris, the SOE agent “Archambault” (Maj. Gilbert Norman) attempted unsuccessfully to thwart the German’s attempt to play his radio set back to London. Archambault was second in command of the Prosper network, and his arrest was nothing short of a disaster, leading to the collapse of the network and the arrests of somewhere between 400 and 1,500 agents and sympathizers.31 Like all SOE agents, London had told him that it “was permissible to give” up his code so long as he did not give up his own personalized “special security check.” When captured, however, Archambault was surprised to learn that Germans knew about the use of such checks. Yet he placed his hopes in the unique fact that he had a double security check. As Fuller notes, Archambault was supposed to include two spelling mistakes in his transmissions. “Asked by the German radio specialist, .В .В .В to give his security check, Archambault [gave] the first one only,” thus signaling to London that “he was in German hands.” The problem was that when London replied to the transmission that Germans orchestrated and that Archambault hoped would tip off London, London’s response to the Page 236 →Germans’ decoy transmission ended with the note “You forgot your double security check. Be more careful.”32 London thus threw Archambault back into the role in which the Germans had cast him. In the Netherlands, transmissions by the captured SOE agent Lt. H. M. G. Lauwers followed a similar plot line. Operation North Pole began with the transmissions that Giskes coerced him into sending, and he sent numerous subsequent messages throughout the next twenty months. The operation was successful not only because London ignored Lauwers’s decision to incorporate a blatantly false security check into his messages, but also because London inexplicably overlooked the numerous times that Lauwers cleverly encoded the word “caught” into the messages he transmitted.33 In fact, Lauwers finally concluded that his warnings “had been too plain for anyone to have been able to overlook” and that London must therefore have been engaged in a counterintelligence game of their own. Embracing the idea of an elaborate scheme of deception, counterdeception, and counter-counterdeception, Lauwers assumed that London was playing the Germans over and above the

Germans’ attempts at playing them. At some level, he was not alone in this kind of assumption. Even the double agent Henri Dericourt told Jean Overtone Fuller that “the ways of HQ are impenetrable” and suggested “that the radio game had been kept up deliberately from London, and that the men had been sent out without being warned, that they were being deliberately sacrificed,”34 all in a cynical strategy aimed at keeping the Germans distracted. In short, both Lauwers and Dericourt concluded that the radio dramas were built upon drama layered upon drama layered upon drama layered upon drama35—all played out in the deceptive theaters of war. Convincing themselves as they did that London had orchestrated a counter-counterdrama, Dericourt and Lauwers displayed an incredible amount in common with their handlers in London. Indeed, the history of the SOE is rife with accounts of London inexplicably choosing to ignore numerous signs, warnings, and clear evidence that SOE networks in France and Holland not only had been compromised but also were in German control. Fuller recounts, for example, that the legendary French resistance fighter and SOE operative Lt. Col. George Starr told her that when he had warned London that two of their radio posts were controlled by Germans, London’s sole reply was: “Mind your own business.”36 Leo Marks, who led the SOE encryption section, informed the head of SOE, Gen. Colin Gubbins, that he “had no doubt at all that the Germans were running some French and Belgian agents just as skillfully as they were the Dutch”37—all to no avail. Gubbins ignored him. Even the SIS “had learned of the German penetration in May Page 237 →1943 and had warned SOE immediately.” But here too, SOE decided to maintain contact.38 Over and over, the story was the same. Rather than reading the signals of distress that Archambault had sent them or the signals that Lauwers himself had sent, those handlers chose instead to believe in the integrity of the dramas traveling through the ether and to serve, in a manner of speaking, as prompters, reminding Archambault that he had forgotten his assigned lines. One can call such moments instances of profound gullibility and negligence or of profound faith in the mediums of radio, drama, and performance. Perhaps it was both. Fuller suggested that there was a general “failure to appreciate that SOE was a temporary and amateur creation,” and that this amateurism “reflected adversely upon the repute of the regulars”39—a suggestion that implies the need to differentiate between amateur and professional vanguards. But even with these distinctions, such moments of profound gullibility or faith bring us full circle in the discussion of radio and performance. Both the amateur and professional vanguards proved time and again that they were susceptible to the seductive lure of coded transmissions, and the questions here are not really about who was an amateur and who was not, or about who knew the truth and who fell prey to deception, but about why amid ample signs to the contrary, handlers and agents—regardless of nationality or professional status—continued to believe in the dramas of intrigue and deception that they sent and received through the radio waves. Ultimately that belief was as pervasive among the Germans as it was among the British. Although the focus here is on the SOE, in many respects the focus could just as easily have been on the German Sicherheitsdienst and on their inexplicable willingness to believe that their agents in England were transmitting reliable information rather than staged deceptions. Historical records indicate that the latter was the case. While the Germans gained control of SOE operations in Holland and in parts of France, the British gained control of almost all German intelligence operations in England and ran countless captured Germans as double agents in what J. C. Masterman famously called “the doublecross system.” Despite signs that their operations had been disrupted, the Germans, like their British counterparts in the SOE, continued to believe. As Masterman noted in his book The Double-Cross System: It was extremely, almost fantastically, difficult to “blow” a well-established agent. On one occasion an agent was deliberately run in order to show the Germans that he was under control, the object being to give them a false idea of our methods of running such an agent Page 238 →and thus to convince them that the other agents were genuine. The theory was sound and the gaffes committed were crass and blatant, but the object was not achieved, for the simple reason that the Germans continued to think of the agent as being genuine and reliable.40 What faith, one must ask, motivated German and British intelligence officers alike to believe in the reliability of radio transmissions even amid of sound evidence of their unreliability?

Code Messages, Esoteric Truths, and a Language of “Kindred Ideas” Certainly, the adventure of secrecy and dark play are part of the equation. But so too is the acknowledgment that is subtly built into Brecht’s essay on radio communication: in the early twentieth century, the ability to “cast broadly”—the ability “to say everything to everybody”41—lent radio technology an aura of godlike omnipresence and authority heretofore unseen in Western society. This is the aura that led one eavesdropper in Kipling’s short story “Wireless” to liken radio transmissions to a sГ©ance. It is also the aura that leads the other eavesdropper to denounce spiritualists and mediums in favor of an intercepted message from the wireless, which he characterizes as “the real thing.” But was it genuinely the “real thing,” or a staged decoy transmission? The two eavesdroppers are perhaps not so different after all. Like the SOE handlers in London and their counterparts in Berlin, the two eavesdroppers in Kipling’s story are both true believers. What Kipling’s characters believe in, what agents with assumed identities believe in, what intelligence officers from London to Berlin and beyond believe in, is vanguardismВ .В .В . and performance—neither of which is inherently left or right. If the advent of cutting-edge radio technologies touched upon the spiritual categories of powers that are omnipresent, invisible, and seemingly transcendent, the coded identities of secret agency that were transmitted through signals intelligence effectively imbibed the clandestine operations of military vanguardism with all the pleasure that, according to Brecht, theater provides when separated from the metaphysical trappings of ritual. Together, radio technologies and secret agency generated new spaces of mystery and situated performance at the intersection of multiple forms of vanguardism: technological vanguardism, military vanguardism, and also a form of vanguardism that echoed mystical traditions. Whether that confluence was “the real Page 239 →thing” is debatable. So too is the authenticity of the spiritualists and mediums whom Kipling’s eavesdropper denounces as “impostors.” Real or counterfeit is a bit of a misnomer. All of them generated real performance. Given the quasi-spiritual aura hovering about new radio technologies, perhaps it was not a coincidence that the same Jean Overton Fuller who wrote about the SOE and Prosper network in France also wrote a biography of Madam Blavatsky—the occultist, medium, founding member of the Theosophical Society, and sometimes suspected spy—who, as Sue-Ellen Case has noted, professed to be able to communicate through the ether of the “astral light,” and who ostensibly was able to receive, decode, and then produce translated versions of esoteric writings that had somehow been broadcast to her from otherworldly realms. Blavatsky professed to have access to a form of spiritual communication that Case rightly places as among the kinds of conceptual paradigms against which both the advent of radio technologies and Brecht’s notions of theater can constructively be understood.42 But so too do those spiritual communications bear remarkable resemblance to the coded transmissions of military vanguards like the SOE. The aura linking radio waves and “astral lights” also links occultism and vanguardism. Indeed, similar conclusions emerge in Fuller’s investigation of claims that Henri Dericourt was a double agent working for the Nazis. In Fuller’s book on the SOE, the turning point in her investigation of charges that Dericourt had been a traitor came when Dericourt confessed to her that he “had ideas about religion” and that he believed in “Christian Science.”43 For Fuller, “this revelation made possible a deepening meeting point” between her and Dericourt, and it ultimately led to her becoming one of Dericourt’s most outspoken defenders amid lingering suspicions that he had worked for the Nazis and betrayed England. Even though, as Fuller openly admitted, her “own line of thoughtВ .В .В . was more Theosophic,” Dericourt’s revelation opened up what Fuller called “a terrain upon which [they] could talk, if not quite the same language, at least in language which held kindred ideas.44 They were, in short, two initiates communicating to one another across the coded discourse of esoteric (secret) truths that only the elect could understand: an elite vanguard in their own right, each following different traditions but allies nonetheless. This sense that the two of them shared something that would allow them to decode each another’s ideas ultimately led Fuller to plot out and then publish what is arguably the single most experimental (if not also the most bizarre) work in the history of literature on espionage: her book, Horoscope for a Double Agent. In that book, she posits a fundamental conceptual link between Dericourt’s “penchant towards secret

activities” and his interest in “a Page 240 →mystical interpretation of the universe.”45 That same link arguably carried two-way traffic, not only giving a metaphysical motivation to Dericourt’s activities as an clandestine (double) agent among the military vanguard but also implicitly lending an air of vanguardism to both Dericourt’s and Fuller’s penchants for mysticism. Recent work by Mike Sell suggests that Fuller was not far off the mark. Within a larger discussion of the oftenneglected connections between religion and the avant-garde, Sell notes that occultist movements like the Theosophical Society have consistently attracted those who promote cataclysmic change in the social and political order [as well as] those who, either by choice or force, have to keep their critical positions limited to a small group or who wish to secretly explore ways of thinking and living that would otherwise draw the attention of the police. The avant-garde, in other words.46 If the embrace of mystic traditions by Dericourt and Fuller provided them with “a terrain upon which [they] could talk,” that terrain was located at the cutting edge of multiple if not competing forms of vanguardism, and there are few individuals among the SOE who better embodied those competing forms than Dericourt himself.

Double Agency beyond Vanguards of the Left and Right To this day, Dericourt remains a controversial figure because, unlike Archambault or Lauwers, he was clearly a double agent not by coercion but by choice. He was a Frenchman by birth and a professional pilot who, like many other Europeans, had ties to Germany prior to the war. Once the war began, Dericourt appears to have sided with the Allies, and his knowledge of France, his wide expertise in aviation, and his unique connections made him a solid candidate for the SOE. Indeed, Dericourt was sent to France, where he “organized Hudson and Lysander pick-up operations”47 for the SOE and developed an impeccable record of arranging for transport planes to land undetected, pick up agents, and then safely return to England. All the while, he also worked for the Germans, among other things showing them the treasure trove of “mail that passed through his hands” from the transports and from SOE agents. Many of his contemporaries believed that he was a cynical opportunist simply working “for himself,”48 and that perhaps is why Fuller’s discovery of his religious beliefs was so important. It suggested someone less cynical and more complex. “He was not a materialist,”Page 241 → Fuller recalled, “and his approach to some questions was that of a mystic.”49 More importantly, she ultimately concluded that Dericourt had spent the war negotiating the ethical contradictions and complicated trade-offs of authorized double agency: The concept of the double-agent is well enough known to readers of the literature of espionage; it is understood well enough that the authorized double-agent may be instructed or licensed by his own side to contact the enemy and play in semblance the part of traitor in order to gain knowledge of the enemy’s work such as he could scarcely obtain unless he became a part of the enemy’s working machine; but is it so often asked what price he has to pay? For the enemy whose working he penetrates in this way will certainly require something from him.50 Elsewhere, I have written that the avant-garde notion of a “cutting edge” tends to obscure the fact that the cutting edge never cuts into an empty space and that a more accurate characterization would be to speak of the rough edges of negotiation.51 There are multiple forms of those rough edges, and Dericourt’s double agency positioned him at the flashpoint of two vanguards cutting simultaneously into each other. The negotiations of that flashpoint are neither left nor right. If Fuller drew her sympathetic conclusions about Dericourt based upon gut reactions and her general assumptions about mysticism, there is historical indication that her instincts were ultimately correct. Nigel West notes that evidence after the war suggested that “as well as working for SOE and the Sicherheitsdienst, [Dericourt] was also a double agent under MI6’s control”52 and that “whatever Dericourt’s faults, the fact remains that he supervised over fifty flights in and out of enemy-occupied territory and never lost an aircraft.”53 As the

war drew to a close, Dericourt twice stood trial for treason. Twice he was acquitted. “Doubts on his motives during his SOE days persisted until the report of his death. He was reported to have died in a plane crash in Laos on November 20, 1962. His body was never recovered.”54 Like a mystic he vanished. Some have claimed that his death was staged so that he could begin a new life with a new identity—in short, so that he could begin a new performance.

Of Literary Betrayals: A Conclusion Three years after the official death of Dericourt in Laos, an American poet by the name of Henri Coulette resurrected him in an odd series of poems Page 242 →published under the title The War of the Secret Agents. Skirting the fence between poetry and drama, this award-winning but now largely forgotten collection of poems is closely modeled upon Fuller’s book—so closely that at times it blurs the lines between poetic license and plagiarism. Its poems reconstruct the interviews that Fuller conducted with SOE members in her search for the double agent whose code name was “Gilbert” and whose actual identity Coulette masks by renaming him “Hilaire Pentecote.” While the name “Pentecote” is a poetic fabrication, “Gilbert” was in fact Dericourt’s SOE code name and the only name, in her references to Dericourt, that Fuller ever used so as not to out him to the public. As is the case with Fuller’s book, the climax of Coulette’s series of poems is the fateful meeting between Fuller (whom Coulette renames “Jane Alabaster”) and Gilbert, where he admits not only that he shared information with the German intelligence officer Kieffer but also that he was “London’s instrument” in doing so: There was an underground beneath the underground. They protected it. Kieffer never guessed the truth; he was too busy counting the sheep London let him have by way of sacrifice– fifteen hundred little lambs!55 The culpability admitted here is not one of treason, but of being an instrument in the profoundly cynical calculations of warlords. The confession offered by “Gilbert” is to that of belonging to a vanguard’s vanguard that played out its wartime drama by an entirely different set of rules—indeed, by rules that, when enacted, produce in the name of what they defend, the very evil that they ostensibly combat. If this literary portrayal is of conventional notions of a vanguard imploding and of a collapse of functional binaries like left and right and right and wrong, it is also a portrayal immersed in irony. For neither poetry nor literature more generally escapes this implosion unscathed. Back in 1938, CГ©sar Saerchinger, amid his excitement about the wartime possibilities of new radio technologies, had suggested that a simple line of literature broadcast to or from agents abroad “might convey important instructions to those in possession of the code,” but in reality codes based upon literature were easy targets for code breakers. “James Jesus Angleton, the legendary and notoriously paranoid director of counterintelligence for the CIA,” for example, famously “required his subordinates to read William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity,Page 243 → as a lesson in tortuously careful reading and interpretation.”56 In terms of security and secrecy, the effect of using literature for coded messages was not far removed from Henri Dericourt personally handing SOE correspondence to Hans Josef Kieffer, and this effect was writ large across the coded transmissions of the SOE. One of main battles that Leo Marks fought as head of SOE communications during the war was not with the Germans but with superiors who were addicted to literature and insistent that the coded transmissions of the SOE be based upon poem codes. Not only were individual agents using “poems for their codes,” but country

section officers back in London were also sending multiple messages to multiple agents based upon a single poem code. “The poem-code,” Marks explained, “simply couldn’t stand up,” and “if the enemy broke one agent’s messages,” he continued, “they would know what to look for in their other intercepts—it would be an anagrammer’s delight.”57 It would also be a decoded death sentence for multiple agents. His was a practical life-and-death cry of “No More Masterpieces!” His was the voice of a vanguard’s vanguard literally at the bleeding edge of signals intelligence and radio drama. But so too was Marks’s voice a voice of abstraction and increasingly rarified mathematical calculations: a tool of the constantly evolving edge that lends itself indiscriminately to those who possess the power to subordinate it to their political agenda.

Notes 1.Bertolt Brecht, “Radio as a Means of Communication: A Talk on the Function of Radio,” Screen 24.8 (1979): 24. 2.Brecht, “Radio as a Means,” 25. 3.CГ©sar Saerchinger, “Radio as a Political Instrument,” Foreign Affairs 16.2 (1938): 253–254. 4.John B. Whitton, “War by Radio,” Foreign Affairs 19.3 (1941): 588. 5.Saerchinger, “Radio as a Political Instrument,” 258. 6.Saerchinger, “Radio as a Political Instrument,” 258–259. 7.Brecht, “Radio as a Means,” 27. 8.Brigid Doherty, “Test and Gestus in Brecht and Benjamin,” MLN 115 (2000): 448. 9.John Hollander, Reflections on Espionage (1974; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), xviii. 10.Richard Aldrich, GCHQ (London: Harper Press, 2010), 13. An online version of Kipling’s short story can be found at 11.F. T. Marinetti, “Futurist Manifesto,”, accessed April 10, 2012. 12.Bertolt Brecht, “A Short Organum for the Theatre,” in Brecht on Theatre, ed. and trans. John Willett (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), 181. Page 244 → 13.Marinetti, “Futurist Manifesto.” 14.Mike Sell, The Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War (New York: Seagull Books, 2011), 230. 15.Sell, The Avant-Garde, 230. 16.Aldrich, GCHQ, 59. 17.Philip Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession (New York: Norton, 1986), 118. 18.Jean Overton Fuller, Double Agent? (London: Pan Books, 1961), 17. 19.Jeffrey T. Richelson, A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 146. 20.Richelson, A Century of Spies, 147. 21.Richelson, A Century of Spies, 148. 22.Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession, 123. 23.Nigel West, Secret War: The Story of SOE (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992), 89. 24.Fuller, Double Agent? 180. 25.David Kahn, The Code Breakers (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 531. 26.Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession, 125. 27.,9171,818692,00.html. Accessed May 21, 2011. 28.For historians like Philip Knightley, such moments are typical within intelligence communities and are part of masking its closely guarded secret history. Indeed, the secret history of intelligence communities, Knightley argues, remains untold not because it is comprised of classified material. The history remains untold, he argues, because it is comprised of unimpressive, exaggerated successes accompanied by countless failed performances and because a full critical assessment of this history would counter the very justification for the existence of intelligence communities as such. 29.Sarah Helm, A Life in Secrets (New York: Anchor Books, 2005), 308. 30.West, Secret War, 103.

31.West, Secret War, 119. 32.Fuller, Double Agent? 11. 33.“Epilogue by H.M.G. Lauwers,” in H. J. Giskes, London Calling North Pole (1950, German ed.; 1953, English ed.; New York: Bantam Books, 1982), 219–221. 34.Fuller, Double Agent? 151. 35.Lauwers, “Epilogue by H.M.G. Lauwers,” 228. 36.Fuller, Double Agent? 53. 37.Leo Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide: The Story of SOE’s Code War (London: HarperCollins, 1998), 227. 38.West, Secret War, 100. 39.Fuller, Double Agent? 168. 40.J. C. Masterman, The Double-Cross System (1972; New York: Lyons Press, 2000), 30–31. 41.Brecht, “Radio as a Means,” 24. 42.Sue-Ellen Case, “Luminous Writing, Embodiment, and Modern Drama: Mme Blavatsky and Bertolt Brecht,” Modern Drama 43.4 (2000): 567–582. 43.Dericourt’s reference was to the religious practices that follow Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, not L. Ron Hubbard’s. The writings of these two authors led to the founding of two very different Christian cults. Page 245 → 44.Fuller, Double Agent? 160. 45.Fuller, Double Agent? 162. 46.Sell, The Avant-Garde, 180–181. 47.Francis J. Suttill and M. R. D. Foot, “SOE’s вЂProsper’ Disaster of 1943,” Intelligence and National Security 26.1 (2011): 102. 48.Suttill and Foot, “SOE’s Prosper Disaster.” 49.Fuller, Double Agent? 165. 50.Fuller, Double Agent? 166. 51.James Harding, “From Cutting Edge to Rough Edges,” in Not the Other Avant-Garde, ed. James Harding and John Rouse (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 18–40. 52.West, Secret War, 125. 53.West, Secret War, 251. 54. Accessed April 23, 2012. 55.Henri Coulette, The War of the Secret Agents (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966), 84. 56.William Flesch, “Playing Patience: John Hollander’s Reflections on Espionage,” Southwest Review 86.2–3 (2001): 229. 57.Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide, 10.

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Beatrice Joanna and the Rhetoric of Rape Kim Solga In spring and summer 2006, Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s Cheek by Jowl company staged Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling (1622) in a touring production that visited major festival venues in Western Europe as well as London’s Barbican Centre. The production set the central lust-andtrauma plot in a rehearsal space; the subplot, meanwhile, shifted the focus (but not the fixtures) of the space to Alibius’s madhouse, in which the actors playing the main characters became inmates who appeared to be both mad and playing mad simultaneously. Alibius, a ridiculous buffoon, deliberately channeled Freud; in fact, everything on stage suggested a keen consciousness of the challenges of playing Changeling—famous for titillatingly ugly sex and galling acts of violence against a woman who does not seem to know when her “no” really means “yes”—in the early twenty-first century. Elsewhere I have lauded this production for its feminist approach.1 Quite against the modern grain, it avoided the urge to blame Beatrice Joanna for the violence meted out to her and instead framed the character (played by Olivia Williams) as a sexually complicated woman routinely abused by the men in her life and violently raped in act 3 by the manservant de Flores (Will Keen). Simultaneously, it looked at itself looking at the play as a cultural product for consumption, at the pleasures and dangers of staging a troubled fiction about women, sex, and violence from a moment far different, socially and politically, from its own. Cheek by Jowl is renowned in the United Kingdom and across Europe for its often challenging, always richly layered theatrical experiments, driven by a thoughtful blending of Stanislavsky-based emotional and Brechtian social realisms, and I remain convinced that their Changeling is the most intelligent and provocative production of this text mounted in England in recent memory. Nevertheless, in the discussion that follows, I’d like to returnPage 247 → to my earlier engagement with this piece in order to think seriously about the limits of its feminist legacy. In particular, I’d like to chart the production’s awkward engagement with what I call the lure of victimology. The problem with Beatrice Joanna, for many feminists, is that she is both the most brash, most greedy, most naive whore and the most routinely unacknowledged rape victim in the canon of English-language theater. After more than a decade of working on this play, I find myself trained to recoil from the former characterization and to seize instead on the latter problem. I fell in love with Cheek by Jowl’s work because it appeared willing to engage Beatrice Joanna as a victim of rape—and thus as a woman not responsible for her own bad choices—in a thoroughgoing way. It was only after thinking about the production for a long time that I realized something horrifying: its Beatrice Joanna wasn’t just a rape victim. In fact, she may not have been a “victim” at all. That recognition opened a can of critical worms. In this chapter, I explore Beatrice Joanna’s troubled victim status, as well as my abiding feminist attraction to it,2 in order to understand how Cheek by Jowl’s Changeling both embedded progressive feminist potential and yet also encouraged some dangerously conservative spectatorial impulses as it invited us to engage with Beatrice Joanna as simultaneously “victim” and “whore.” Williams’s Beatrice often appears less as a victim than as a woman who barters with her body, falls prey to a very violent assault, and then needs to figure out creative ways to survive the aftermath. Thus, in the first part of the chapter, I argue that the challenge Beatrice’s rape and her subsequent, highly sexual behavior may have posed for viewers of this production can be read usefully through the representational conundrum posed by sexual labor and its ingrained cultural prejudices in broader Anglo-European contexts: namely, the difficulty very sexually active women encounter in trying to be recognized as both agential and in pain, as both sexually powerful and sexually injurable, at the same time. Cheek by Jowl sought the latter, dual representation of Beatrice Joanna arduously but imperfectly,В in keeping with the company’s commitment to crafting nuanced, not easily distillable representations of difficult characters and fraught situations. This commitment to complexity, built on a rehearsal methodology in which

director Donnellan encourages actors to following multiple, ever-moving, intentionally contradictory “targets” as they trace their characters’ needs and wants, is a longtime, admirable feature of Cheek by Jowl’s work, but for progressive viewers looking for a clear leftist politic it can also be deeply frustrating.3 In this case, as Williams’s Beatrice morphed repeatedly from messed-up abuse victim into the “whore” who “wants it” and back again, the production seemed embarrassingly to skirt stereotype even as Page 248 →it tried to move deliberately beyond stereotype: a risky move in the context of representing sexual abuse and women’s sexual desire. In my earlier, celebratory treatment of the production, I worked hard to foreground what I considered to be its plainly feminist angles while glossing over its most cringe-inducing dimensions; here, I want to use my discomfort about the latter to ask fresh questions about both the company’s production choices and the work’s reception horizon in a culture that tends to avoid rather than embrace nuance, especially where women’s sexual agency and abuse are concerned. If Beatrice Joanna isn’t just a victim, and isn’t just a whore, what else (what more) might she be—and how do we put that “more” effectively on the stage? Does a “feminist” Changeling require “progressive” artists and intellectuals to deal in representations of women that may make us genuinely uncomfortable? On the other hand, does not the refusal of such representations—on ideological, political, or even ethical grounds—equally risk backfire, producing a one-dimensional rape victim who offers little more to viewers than a cipher of damage and loss? In an effort fully to unpack these questions—and to examine critically the ways my own viewing prejudices, as an always-aspiring but imperfect feminist spectator, must be implicated in what I am calling the conservative underbelly of the Cheek by Jowl Changeling—the second half of the chapter will revisit my earlier viewings of several specific moments in the production, examining how Williams’s Beatrice hailed, resisted, upheld, and undermined my urge to read her as not sexual but victim. What can my impulses, as an informed feminist spectator, tell us about the larger struggle to make, read, and assess early modern performance in a genuinely feminist way? I’ll conclude with some potentially depressing thoughts on the dangers of overly nuanced representations of female sexuality on stage, as well as a critical proposal: that feminist scholars and theatermakers need to turn away from questions of sex and violence, judgment and blame, and toward matters of labor as we confront the notorious Jacobean “bad girl,” the fraught work of embodying her in contemporary performance, and the ideological land mines she sets for today’s avant-garde theater companies and their viewers.

Doing Changeling Now Changeling is gruesome, misogynist, appalling in its social and sexual politics, and yet no less popular for all that—even in 2012.4 Beatrice Joanna is a typical Jacobean antiheroine: she has been matched to a man her father likes better than she does, and when she meets another man—Alsemero—and Page 249 →falls in love, she schemes to get her way. She contracts the seething malcontent de Flores to murder her father’s choice; de Flores exacts payment in the form of forced sex. Beatrice then spends the second half of the play in thrall to de Flores—but whether for love, lust, out of sheer terror, for lack of any other safe harbor, or for some other reason is never made fully clear. Never mind that de Flores has coerced and blackmailed her: as far as the authors of the play are concerned, Beatrice Joanna gets only what’s coming to her. She has dared to take charge of her own sexual desire, she’s botched it spectacularly, and she has failed to own up to her responsibility in the matter. In her naГЇvetГ©, her willfulness, and (especially) her relentless pursuit of her own pleasure, she is a danger to the early modern patriarchal status quo.5 In their refreshingly forthright article “Does Beatrice Joanna Have a Subtext?” Roberta Barker and David Nicol survey the landscape of reaction to twentieth-century productions of The Changeling.6 As they argue, modern reviewers have generally taken a “romantic” view of the play, in which Beatrice appears unaware of her deep sexual longing for de Flores until he blackmails and then rapes her in the play’s first climax at the end of act 3. Often productions assist this reading, creating a psychological-realist framework for Beatrice Joanna in which she must play a spring-awakening-style journey or be left behind; just as often, though, press critics read Beatrice through Freud and his descendants despite a production’s best efforts to complicate her story. Of course, in its seductive (and thoroughly modern) logic, the romantic reading discourages both reviewers and spectators from understanding the complexity of Beatrice Joanna’s experience as a trapped woman living

under a very rigid, historically specific (and quite foreign) form of patriarchy; it can also simultaneously discourage us from paying attention to what we want, as modern spectators, from Beatrice Joanna. When I was preparing the final chapter of my 2009 monograph, Violence Against Women in Early Modern Performance, I spent several days in the Cheek by Jowl offices at the Barbican Centre watching, repeatedly, three videos of the company’s 2006 production, taken from three different points in its European tour (Nancy, France; the Barbican, London; the Almagro Festival, Madrid, Spain). As I argue in the book, the production’s greatest strength was its simultaneous embrace and critique of the stock, psycho-romantic reading of Beatrice Joanna, pointing to audience complicity in Beatrice’s fate in ways both hilarious and piercing. The rehearsalhall-cum-madhouse design—which was expanded, for the London run, to a fully “backstage” set-up with the audience seated on bleachers on the huge Barbican stage—allowed Donnellan and Ormerod to place their characters within a space that constantly referenced its paratheatrical contexts: a history of modern Page 250 →Changeling performance; the critics’ longtime debt to Freud; the audience’s apparently hungry desire to see “inside” or “backstage” at Beatrice Joanna’s. This strategy turned the Cheek by Jowl Changeling into a commentary on the play’s production history as well as an opportunity, at last, to take Beatrice Joanna seriously. Key to this second outcome was the work of Williams as Beatrice. As I viewed the production footage, I traced her progression from early in the show’s European festival tour (at Nancy) to later (at Almagro), perceiving a significant shift toward a more urgent, nervous portrayal that suggested Beatrice was on the edge of a psychotic break. I paid close attention to Williams’s use of her hands, which began to flutter and grasp increasingly as the tour went on. At first blush this tic unnerved me, because it seemed to be taking Williams away from what I thought I wanted: a version of Beatrice that resists psychological realism, winks at the audience, and says, “I know what you think I want, but it’s all an act.” As I watched and rewatched Williams, however, I decided that she was doing me one better: her Beatrice was evolving into a young woman, on the brink of owning her desire, who finds herself forced to reckon with the history of sexual violence that has defined her life in her father’s home since before the play began. She was coming to terms with her sexual victimhood—and she was struggling, and finally failing, to survive it. At last, here was the Beatrice for whom I longed: the woman so visibly broken by her experience of patriarchy that nobody—not even the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer—could deny it.7

Beatrice Joanna, Sexual Labor, and the Lure of Victimology For her part, Olivia Williams never spoke in the press of Beatrice in the context of sexual violence, and although she suggested in the Independent in May 2006 that she preferred a feminist, empowered Beatrice, she also demonstrated very little love for the character.8 Furthermore, when I returned to the production in 2011 I found myself increasingly unsure about the “victim” model on which I had based my earlier readings; I realized that Beatrice’s status as victim, while a considerable aspect of the journey Williams was playing, was far from its only dimension. To be clear, I understand Beatrice Joanna as a female character that suffers rape in the middle of her play, and Williams’s Beatrice is brutally and very plainly raped at the end of the first half of the Cheek by Jowl version. How the “fact” of that brutal rape maps onto the “facts” about Beatrice’s character over the course of this production is what seemed far from plain to me the second time Page 251 →around. Reading my first encounters with the production through the lens of my return to it in 2011, I sensed that Cheek by Jowl had set out to create a version of the character and her story that included, but was not limited to, figuring her as a victim of repeated sexual abuse, both within the frame of the plot and as part of Beatrice’s backstory—yet I had gravitated, tenaciously and vigorously, to the victim reading as primary. Was the problem simply that I wanted to see Beatrice Joanna as a victim so desperately that I consistently foregrounded some cues and not others, building a unified image of the character where one did not exist? Had the production perhaps unwittingly assisted my obsession, setting Beatrice up as a victim at its outset the better to trace her later, volatile sexual power back to her experience of sexual damage (and thus encouraging more of a “victim” reading than it may have intended)? Or did Williams, Donnellan, and the rest of the cast deliberately create a profoundly contradictory character, both sexually powerful and painfully abused, in order to discourage audiences from reading these experiences as mutually exclusive—and I failed that test? All of these

possibilities offer sympathetic feminist responses to Beatrice’s situation, but all of them also embed troublingly conservative traps. The first two possibilities arise out of the genuine likelihood that Williams’s Beatrice was visible to a majority of spectators as first and foremost a victim of sexual violence. Donnellan and Ormerod staged de Flores’s “seduction” of Beatrice as unmistakably violent—physically, sexually, and emotionally—and Williams’s portrayal of the character’s terror proved utterly convincing for reviewers, the vast majority of whom branded the scene a rape.9 Before and beyond this, however, Williams pitched her whole performance at a level of high anxiety, giving the early and frequent impression of a woman on the verge of tears and panic; even before de Flores entered the picture in earnest, she offered multiple cues that she had been abused, was used to abuse, and perhaps even cleaved to abusers (like her father). In the wake of a modern history of “no means yes” Changelings, acknowledging the other Beatrice—the girl who does not “want” it; the girl who is blamed for de Flores’s sexual aggression; the girl who is routinely abused—is politically essential for progressive theater-makers. But does this acknowledgment implicitly mark a feminist advance in representation? Barker and Nicol have argued that the romantic reading of Changeling is troublesome precisely because it oversimplifies Beatrice Joanna’s historically specific story—one in which she overtly seeks sexual agency but has no way to do so legitimately and pays a high price for the risks she takes. To offer modern audiences Beatrice Joanna the victim thus seems at first a giant leap forward—but it also means we may end up with the same figure, in slightly different clothes, that Page 252 →we’ve always known: a woman presented to us as not in control of her own sexual experiences. This problem becomes starker still when we place the “victim” reading of Beatrice Joanna in the context of popular rape discourse in Anglo-Europe over the past half-century. This is a context contemporary viewers on Cheek by Jowl’s tour (especially in the UK and France) would likely have known and perhaps even have internalized as part of their reception horizon. As Pamela Haag argues in a comprehensive and often contrarian essay about the history of “feminist thinking on violence from the second wave through the 1980s,” by the early 1970s, after a decade or more of militant, left-wing, antiviolence work, certain feminists began to align their thinking about rape with conservative claims that violence against women was (a) pervasive and allencompassing, and (b) “shattering” to the female self in all instances.10 (My initial reading of Beatrice Joanna followed this logic closely: abuse had quite literally engulfed and shattered her, leaving her twitchy, tired, tearful.) Rape’s new, more conservative narrative framed it as a “special” crime deserving of special status under the law, and for Haag the result was a seamless folding of feminism’s still-emergent social power into that of the state’s power to police female bodies: “Earlier feminist initiatives had carved out a world of possible political responses between reporting to the police and remaining silent.В .В .В . The police and legislature’s ready embrace of rape reform served to confine meaningful disclosure to official channels, away from the venues in which the issue of rape was theorized as part of a larger feminist agenda.”11 “Shattered” Beatrice Joanna nevertheless marks an improvement on the preferred modern model for the character’s behavior: a naive girl-child on the cusp of sexual discovery who doesn’t know what she wants, but knows it when it gets thrust on top of her. I want to suggest here, however, that the model that comes closest to aligning Beatrice Joanna “our contemporary” with Beatrice Joanna the historical product of early modern patriarchy is that of the sexual laborer: a woman who claims the right to own her sexualized body, who makes a financial contract with de Flores, who ends up trapped with him on a very bad date in which he takes more than she had bargained for, and who is then forced to make morally questionable choices in order to protect herself.12 Williams’s Beatrice owned and appeared to enjoy her body at multiple turns both before and after the rape, raising the specter of a strong, agency-owning sexual being alongside the image of a woman “shattered” by abuse—this is the more complex character that began to emerge for me on my return to the production’s archive videos in 2011. In its internal contradictions this character should theoretically accomplish the kind of historically nuanced feminist work for which Barker and Nicol call, but as it Page 253 →invokes the figure of the prostitute it also runs headlong into another troubled set of reception contexts. In a wide-ranging article on the experience of sex workers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain who have brought formal charges of rape before the courts, Barbara Sullivan notes that until the 1980s convictions on

such charges were extremely rare because prostitutes were understood (as Beatrice is, in her own Jacobean context) to be too sexually aware, and thus inherently unrapeable.13 In the last thirty years the situation for assaulted sex workers has changed significantly, thanks in large part to feminist legal activism, but Sullivan’s research (and that of Alexandre in the United States) reveals that resulting legal changes have been more effective in theory than in practice.14 Sullivan notes that even in jurisdictions where sex work is legal, the most successful prosecutions still occur in cases involving young women or those who have been beaten as well as raped—in other words, in the cases of the visibly “innocent.”15 Further, she argues that the obvious benefits of legal changes for sex workers elide the same pitfalls Haag identifies: that in constructing raped sex workers as foremost victims—as “shattered,” or shatterable—we fail to take them seriously as complex sexual or potential feminist agents, and we fail to account for the fundamental differences between their experiences of sex-for-profit and those of women for whom sex is not a job, chosen or coerced. In the influential wake of Catherine McKinnon and other “antiporn” feminists on one hand and the vigorous social conservatism of much contemporary neoliberal discourse on the other, sex work of all kinds is still often characterized as de facto violence against women by a significant spectrum of women’s right advocates as well as by social and Christian conservatives.16 If the historical Beatrice must be punished because she is sexually independent, and the contemporary Beatrice must be either romantically awoken or violently shattered, what space is left for feminist spectators or artists looking to intervene in the ideological freight of this play and the broader cultural attitudes through which contemporary productions of it circulate? To answer this question we need to realize that Beatrice Joanna’s current problem is not that she is a victim of sexual violence, but that she is a victim of the very modern lure of victimology: of the sympathetic (but not benign) urge to strip her of any trace of sexual desire in order to cast her experience of sexual violence at one moment in the plot as defining and thus “legitimate.”17 In her “shattered” state, Williams’s Beatrice succumbed to this lure, producing a very conservative comfort for spectators who—as I did in 2007—believe they need the character to be judged “not guilty” for the crimes of passion she commits in an effort to escape her oppression. On the other side of the coin, in her more Page 254 →complex habitus as both shattered survivor and aggressive sexual agent, Williams’s Beatrice Joanna created significant trouble for feminist viewers anxious about conservative ideology’s continuing (and very real) power to decide whose experience of rape “counts” as “legitimate”; she also, however, opened up the possibility of moving beyond an essentially conservative understanding of the relationship between sexual agency and sexual vulnerability. My concern in the rest of this chapter lies with the efficacy of this move. I am not convinced this production did—or could ever have done, given the brutal realities of contemporary Anglo-European patriarchy—effectively model a space in which a woman like Beatrice Joanna could be taken seriously as both sexual and victimized, permitted her vulnerability and her sexual power without either coming fully to define her. In the detailed readings of three key moments from Williams’s performances to which I now turn, I mobilize my discomfort around her character’s sexuality in order to suggest the power as well as the limits of this production’s attempt to get past its own casting of Beatrice Joanna as “not just” a victim. I examine the distance beyond “victim” Williams’s Beatrice ultimately traveled as the production shifted over the course of its tour, and I conclude by considering whether or not that distance was enough to overcome the conservative lures that remained embedded in the production’s work, despite its best efforts at complexity, contradiction, and nuance.

Rereading Olivia Williams as Beatrice Joanna The first moment I want to discuss is Beatrice Joanna’s early (act 2) soliloquy, in which she declares her love for Alsemero and rails against the rush her father and Piracquo are in to get her married to the latter.18 Donnellan’s mise-en-scène for this moment was fully Brechtian: Alsemero, Vermandero, Piracquo, and others stood around the space, frozen in tableau; Williams moved among them as she spoke, offering gestural responses to their bodies that supplemented her speech. While Williams’s affect was in every performance I watched slightly manic from the opening scene, in Nancy (the first point on the tour) she offered in this moment the first clues of something more. As she moved behind her father, commenting on the “forward[ness]” and

“urgency” with which David Collings’s Vermandero had been advancing her match with Piracquo, she suggestively cupped her right hand toward his buttocks, then seemed as though about to reach out and crush his head before backing away, flustered. The overall tone was rage: Williams’s Beatrice complained angrily that her father loved her only Page 255 →“as regards his will” (my emphasis); she pointed violently toward Piracquo, seated before a proud Vermandero in portrait pose, as though she was unsure whether to be jealous of him or afraid for herself. This confusion governed her gestural language too: throughout, Williams’s hands flew to her temples and touched her face anxiously; later in the scene, after a brief encounter with de Flores, she rubbed face with hands and hands one against another. I asked myself in my 2007 notes: what is this woman repressing? Soliloquies are the vehicles through which early modern characters reveal their thoughts and plans; modern performers often use them to communicate inner emotions, and to hint at backstory. This scene’s collision of speech, gesture, and affect clearly directed me toward reading Beatrice Joanna as already traumatized, and her father as a primary source of that trauma. My notes from 2007 and 2011 log the same gestures and tics, the same awkward pull between wanting and loathing Vermandero’s “love,” the same uncomfortable Freudian undertones—the same sinister victimology. When the tour moved to Almagro, approximately three months later, this scene’s gestural subtext had become much stronger: Williams’s vulgar, tear-addled body language suggested that no less than sexual violence was at the root of Vermandero’s “urgency” toward her, and her enforced obedience to him. In 2007 I was stunned and excited at this scene, finding in it evidence of Williams’s full development of the character as an abuse sufferer over the course of the tour, but my 2011 viewing noted both Beatrice’s incredible rage and deep sorrow as well as a powerful sense of optimism as she imagined, out loud and with emerging glee, a life with Alsemero. Williams’s contradictory expressions (sexual terror alongside emerging sexual pleasure; rage and tears and smiles; forcefulness and hopelessness) mingled freely throughout the scene. On “He’s so forward,” she inclined her head toward Vermandero’s shoulder, whispering the line sadly in his ear; she then pushed her hips toward him, bumped her pelvis with his, and offered a soft, disgusted sneer on “urgent that way.” As she moved away she was crying, face in hands. On the other hand, twice when speaking of Alsemero, Williams’s face and voice broke into expressions of joy and anticipation; the context for this joy was troubling, though. Just prior to her soliloquy Vermandero had made plain, while suggestively showcasing Beatrice as his castle’s “best entertainment,” that he could see quite clearly her intentions with Alsemero; he used the opportunity to touch her sexually, reminding her that he, as father-cum-pimp, owned her body, and she responded with rote obedience, putting her own hands on her breasts, face expressionless. In 2007 I saw in this scene at Almagro a clarification of Beatrice’s sexual victimhood, nascent in Nancy, and as a result I did not note her eagerness/happiness nor the blankness of her Page 256 →encounter with Vermandero; in 2011 I saw that, by Almagro, Williams’s earlier performance had in fact been complicated in ways that both confirmed Beatrice’s experience of past trauma and troubled my attempts to explain all of her behavior through that trauma. Williams’s performance as a whole had, by Almagro, become far more volatile. Tinged with heightened moments of rage, thrill, confusion, and hurt, it was increasingly paradoxical and thus in some ways more sophisticated, but it was also becoming increasingly hard to read and thus, frankly, increasingly risky as it encouraged superficial, conservative readings of the character as slightly lunatic (and even “shattered”). The second moment I’d like to highlight occurs late in act 4, when Beatrice Joanna and de Flores set fire to Diaphanta’s chamber in order to rouse the house and cover their tracks. In all performances I viewed, this scene began with Beatrice’s desperation: Williams hugged her knees like a child and her early, important line to de Flores, “I’m forced to love thee now,” was a mix of anger at the situation and trembling need, undergirded by a sense of the character’s sheer exhaustion—something that was most pronounced for me in the Almagro performance, and to which I’ll return a bit later. Central to the scene in all cases was a brief pause against the upstage wall, during which Keen’s de Flores kissed and stroked Williams’s body, and Beatrice’s subsequent, delighted, relief-filled reaction to the fire alarm and to de Flores. In 2007 I read the Nancy version of this scene as passionate, hungry kissing and touching against the upstage wall, troubling because so inconsistent with my emerging picture of increasingly “shattered” Beatrice; in 2011,

however, it appeared to me much more unclear. I noticed, for example, that Beatrice Joanna placed herself in de Flores’s way and slid her arm up the wall in something of a parody of a sexual gesture; she seemed to want to quiet him down (and protect herself) by inviting him to take pleasure in her body instead of yelling and raging. She may also have been looking for comfort in the sexual touch he offered. Her consent in this moment was impossible to read with certainty; Keen turned Williams around to face the wall so that spectators were deliberately prevented from recognizing either her pain or her pleasure. De Flores carried out the plan for the fire, then shocked Beatrice by pulling the alarm; they spun in wild abandon, and she ended almost giddy, clearly relieved. He was very plainly in charge of this scene: director and choreographer. As Williams told the audience how “heartily” de Flores “serves” her, she seemed drunk, deluded. In my 2011 notes, I record the impression of a flighty woman who seems to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. By Almagro, the “fire” scene had undergone a tonal shift. As in Nancy, Williams’s Beatrice initiated the sexual action up against the door, seeking Page 257 →now what appeared to be comfort more than anything: she placed Keen’s hand on her breast and he pulled it away. Keen then pushed Williams up against the wall; she braced herself as though about to cry. Next, she reached to kiss him, put his hand up her dress, and laughed. Once again, most of the action faced away from spectators: motives, pleasures, anguish—viewers had to fill in everything. After de Flores left the stage to set the fire, however, the dynamic shifted: Williams, not Keen, was the one to grab the hammer and bang the fire alarm, and when he returned to the stage the two shouted “fire!” excitedly at each other. She was as much a partner in action here as he, and as though in response to this new status her “how heartily he serves me” became a charge at the audience, an apparent demand for us to see her as agent, the one in charge of the moment, of the relationship, of the fire, of all of it. But then, on “look upon his care” Williams leaned into her right hip, stroked her body from genitals to breasts, head lolling, pleasure swimming across her face. Who would not love such a man? she asked her audience, daring us to try to decide if her love was born of delusion, psychosis, physical passion, emotional trauma, genuine desire, real love, or something else. Then, on “here’s a man worth loving,” she pointed her arm downstage right at Keen, who stood frozen in tableau. I wondered: is she frightened of him, or not? The uncertainty my notes record over the sexual nature of the “fire” scene in both Nancy and Almagro is salient to my larger argument here. My notes log my difficulty in coming to grips with a number of moments throughout each performance when Williams’s Beatrice responded sexually to de Flores, touching herself arousingly as he spoke about her in soliloquy, and these moments telescope the most significant dilemma I see arising from the Cheek by Jowl Changeling in the wake of this collection’s concerns with “vanguard” conservatism. Often unclear in their expressions and extremely challenging to read, de Flores and Beatrice were in these segments overly complex constructions: I was never (and am still not) sure if Beatrice was experiencing pleasure, hurt, or something else, and I do not think my confusion is ascribable to the archive videos, two of which were shot primarily in close-up. Keen’s and Williams’ work in these moments demanded significant, sophisticated labor from both performers and audience members—work to understand the fast-paced action, on one hand, and work to move beyond our own ingrained prejudices about these characters and their motives, on the other. The problem is that I’m not sure many spectators—including professional spectators like me—are really capable of this kind of labor on a first (and often only) viewing. What emerges from my own watching of these moments? A knee-jerk reaction: a conservative feminist anxiety. Every time I see them I worry that Page 258 →Williams’s Beatrice is feeling too much pleasure connected to de Flores, even though I know that a muddled mix of pain and pleasure is far more compelling—and realistic—than representations of either sex or violence alone might be. I fret that the complexities might be lost on mainstream reviewers (who love to watch Beatrice Joanna in sexual awakening) or other audience members (who could hardly be faulted for seeing only a highly sexed, perhaps confused, and thus even disempowered Beatrice in these cases). I also notice, as I watch myself watching, that I would be far less uncomfortable if Beatrice were, say, wretched at the thought of de Flores’s touch rather than pleasured so wholly in it: a clearcut “victim” statement (however brief) would reassure me of her “legitimate” suffering, even if I might query its critical value later. I don’t want to have to reckon with Beatrice Joanna’s arousal in any context that includes de Flores: it risks muddling the story of the rape, reanimating the hated specter of the naive

slut that has dogged the character for too long. When Williams touches herself, she calls out the limits of my feminist politics; in this respect, her often sexual responses to de Flores constitute some of her most challenging feminist work in Changeling. Nevertheless, the urgent question remains: who else (other than a feminist scholar privileged to have watched Williams’s performances dozens of times) will have seen that work beyond its very sexualized surface, will be able to reckon with the possibility that sexual agency and enjoyment in these moments do not preclude nonconsent in earlier ones? Are these bridges too far, where the production, raising the victim/whore binary in order thoroughly to vex it, fails to offer audiences enough scope to make the leap alongside? I realize that this reading risks faulting Cheek by Jowl for a failure of spectatorial imagination—something over which no production has any real control. I do not want to suggest that Changeling fails politically whenever we, in the audience, miss a step; such a claim would go against everything I believe about the social power of live art. Rather, I want to suggest that the work of complicating existing, consensus-based narratives about women, sex, and violence on stage comes with significant pitfalls and needs to be undertaken with extreme care, lest audiences be invited to default into familiar tropes (whether “victim” or “whore”) along the way. The more I spend time with it, the more Cheek by Jowl’s Changeling makes me worry that the resuscitation of the Jacobean “bad girl” might be a fool’s errand: we may not, even with the best of intentions, be able to “save” sexually overdetermined figures like Beatrice Joanna through risky, avant-garde performance tactics. Perhaps, then, rather than thinking about such characters in the context of sex qua violence again and again, trying to tell their terrible stories afresh over and over by layering them up thicker and deeper, we might place our focus—as Page 259 →directors, as actors, and as critics—someplace more productive. In keeping with my thinking above about Beatrice Joanna as a sex worker, I want to suggest that such a renewed focus may fall on labor—that of the character, but also crucially that of the actor charged with her care. By Almagro, Williams was crying almost constantly on stage, her hand at her face and forehead relentlessly. She was playing a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but at the same time she was pushing back against the narrative of trauma and suffering that had been emerging for me since Nancy by inhabiting a visibly stronger Beatrice—one willing to stand up, come to the lip of the stage, and stake a claim. Williams also seemed much more exhausted in the Almagro video than she had in either of the other recordings—exhaustion that might reveal the stress of a long tour with a hard play, but which might also demonstrate, profitably, the incredible psychic and physical effort of being Beatrice Joanna in performance. If they caught little else of Beatrice Joanna’s troubled nuance, I suspect a number of audience members—especially as they shared a physical space with Williams in live performance—would have picked up on this exhaustion, on the sheer, virtuosic effort Williams was expending to keep Beatrice on her feet. The final moment I’d like to consider—the epilogue—foregrounds what for me is the potential critical value of this fatigue as we try to move beyond conservative lures and traps in the staging of “bad girl” heroines. Following Beatrice’s fatal wounding, delivered by de Flores in Alsemero’s “closet,” and her final, self-negating lines to her father, Cheek by Jowl’s version of the epilogue was another Brechtian assemblage. As Hiddleston’s Alsemero began speaking, the actors around him rose, grabbed orange plastic chairs, and spread out across the stage. Williams stood beside him. Hiddleston pointed his finger at her, charging: “Here’s beauty changed to ugly whoredom.” In Nancy, Williams held the audience’s gaze until the end of Hiddleston’s line, then turned toward him and away, shamed. At Almagro, by contrast, Williams stood beside Hiddleston with arms in tension, palms out, covered in her own blood, as if a body for dissection (and in this sense every inch an early modern body). He spoke the line; she gave him a quizzical look laced with a touch of contempt, and turned to give the audience the very same look. Then, tired and spent, she simply walked away. The epilogue provided the single most clearly traceable change in this production over its season-long tour. In Nancy, Williams offered no look but shame. At the Barbican, at the tour’s midway point, she gave Hiddleston the look, but then turned away from, rather than toward, the audience. By Almagro, the look was superficially for him, but just as much (if not more) for us. It was a moment unlike the sexual touching, the panicked fluttering, the Page 260 →confusions and the complexities that had preceded it: it was clear as a bell. It was Olivia Williams, not

Beatrice Joanna, looking at us, seeing us, asking us to take in her wracked body. Asking us to see her sweat, the dirt on her shift, the (fake) blood. Asking us to see beyond character, to see the weight of the character, perhaps. Asking us to see her labor—to see work, a job done, amid the seductive and consuming fictions of the play.

Moving Forward? I used to think Williams’s formidable labor at Almagro represented the apex of her Beatrice as victim of sexual violence;19 I believe now that it was at Nancy that Williams most clearly played “victim,” and that over the course of the tour she increasingly troubled the production’s early lure of victimology. My greater critical discomfort now lies in the very complexities generated by Williams’s shift from victim to something more. I never want Beatrice Joanna to be a vixen, and I no longer want her to be a victim. Williams offered me, at Almagro, the kind of feminist discomfort that jolted my understanding of this play, and of my own feminist expectations along with it, but it took me years to feel that discomfort fully, fully to absorb its affect. Can I really call that a feminist victory? Dense and hard to “get,” Williams’s Beatrice Joanna was also a bit too seductive at times, enjoyed herself too much at times, and was sometimes too easy to align with longtime prejudices about “bad” women’s sexuality. These are of course feminist provocations, reasons to praise this outstanding production; but they are also reasons to be seriously skeptical about the progressive political labor it can accomplish beyond the theater, as well as about the kind of legacy it can leave to future Changelings. We don’t need to look far for a glimpse of the latter. In January 2012, the Young Vic mounted the first major professional production of Changeling in London since Cheek by Jowl’s Barbican run.20 Although marketed conventionally (see note 4), Joe Hill-Gibbins’s take looked and felt a lot like Donnellan and Ormerod.21 It set the play in a madhouse-cum-studio, wound the two plots around each other (an echo that Michael Billington noted in his Guardian review) and emphasized the metatheatrical as well as the lunatic.22 It seated the audience uncomfortably in the round, much as Donnellan and Ormerod had done at the Barbican. Its Beatrice Joanna was visibly raped, in full view of the audience, and it used both modern dress and a rock/punk aesthetic to give the show an edgy, surreal feel.23 Unlike the Cheek by Jowl show, however, it was praised lavishly in the Page 261 →popular press, suggesting the critical establishment might now be willing to accept challenging Changelings. And yet its Beatrice wasn’t much of a challenge. Jessica Raine and Daniel Cerqueira (de Flores) played the central relationship as one of utter, debilitating codependence; Raine’s Beatrice was the “selfish,” willful child critics know well, “in over her head” and just as obviously destroyed for it.24 As a spoiled girl who becomes completely a victim of her own devices, Raine offered not a romantic Beatrice but an easily manageable one. Her performance was, I suspect, one reason the production could take so many other risks—and be so fulsomely praised for them by even virulently conservative critics like Spencer, who awarded four stars. For me, the Young Vic Changeling felt like Cheek by Jowl “lite”: a lot of the flash, but without the density, and without any real complexity, for better or worse. Sadly, this might be just what Donnellan, Ormerod, and Williams finally bequeathed to Changeling performance futurity, at least in London. I’ve argued in this chapter that “progressive” readers need to tread carefully over The Changeling, watching out for the land mines that the lure of victimology sets across the play. Further, I have argued that we need to come better to terms, as critics, artists, and spectators, with the play’s various kinds of sexual labor: the sexual trading that lies awkwardly astride Beatrice Joanna’s violation; the hard work of recognizing her complex needs and desires from the cultural vantage point of the auditorium; and the physical and emotional exertion of creating the character, with all its baggage, in performance. Although I have concluded that companies like Cheek by Jowl—risk-taking, avant-garde, highly nuanced in method and politic—may not ultimately be best placed to bring Beatrice Joanna into the twenty-first century, by the end of the 2006 Cheek by Jowl run Olivia Williams, in her forthright exhaustion, embodied for me something of Beatrice’s possible theatrical future. Then, in 2012, concurrent with the Hill-Gibbins Changeling, Lydia Wilson accomplished something similar in Cheek by Jowl’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore.25 Playing Annabella as smart and self-assured, creative and brash, focused and aware, but above all physically powerful, Wilson owned the stage by making a spectacle of the literal work of her body. Her characterization was a complex dance: a snarl of affect and intellect woven

into muscle and bone. Her body could not be contained; its effort shone. And although, like Beatrice Joanna, Annabella must be physically violated in order for her story to end, Wilson—like Williams—did not end in violation. As a wrecked Giovanni (Jack Gordon) cradled her heart and her kinsmen collapsed around him, Wilson walked back on stage, climbed onto her deathbed, and stretched forward—gracefully, tentatively—toward her heart. Reaching to Page 262 →reclaim what had been taken from her, she reached too, perhaps, toward future feminist performances.

Notes 1.Kim Solga, Violence Against Women in Early Modern Performance: Invisible Acts (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009), 141–175. 2.For a superb recent take on the feminist attraction to Beatrice Joanna as rape victim from the perspective of early modern cultural history, see Frances E. Dolan, “Re-reading Rape in The Changeling,” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 11.1 (2011): 4–29. 3.Declan Donnellan, The Actor and the Target, rev. ed. (London: Nick Hern, 2005), 17–25. 4.On January 26, 2012, The Young Vic opened its sold-out new production of Changeling with this teaser: “Beautiful Beatrice-Joanna is in love—so she hires the repellent de Flores to kill the man her father wants her to marry. But once the deed’s done Beatrice discovers it’s not money or jewels that de Flores claims as his reward, but something far more precious. The Changeling is a gripping and darkly comic tale of how love and sex drive us mad, and one of the most powerful tragedies ever written.” See 5.Numerous superb essays on Changeling in its historical context have been written over the past thirty years; my title deliberately references Sara Eaton, “Beatrice-Joanna and the Rhetoric of Love in вЂThe Changeling,’” Theatre Journal 36.3 (1984): 371–382. See also Deborah G. Burks, “вЂI’ll Want My Will Else’: The Changeling and Women’s Complicity with Their Rapists,” ELH 62.4 (1995): 759–790, and Marjorie Garber, “The Insincerity of Women,” in Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture, ed. Margreta de Grazia, Maureen Quilligan, and Peter Stallybrass (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 349–368. 6.Roberta Barker and David Nicol, “Does Beatrice Joanna Have a Subtext? The Changeling on the London Stage,” Early Modern Literary Studies 10.1 (2004): 1–43. 7.Charles Spencer, “An Absolute Cracker Cloaked in Silliness,” review of The Changeling by Cheek by Jowl, Theater Record, May 7–20, 2006, 576, from Daily Telegraph, May 17, 2006. 8.Olivia Williams, “I’m in Rehearsal, and for the First Time since I Went into Labor, I Am Afraid, ” Tour Diary, Independent, May 4, 2006, Extra 12–13. 9.Charles Spencer, despite his own history of refusing to see Beatrice Joanna as a victim, read her “seduction” as explicit violence in this production. See Spencer, “An Absolute Cracker”; see also Timothy Ramsden, review of The Changeling, by Cheek by Jowl, Reviews Gate, May 8, 2006,, accessed November 19, 2007, and David Benedict, review of The Changeling, by Cheek by Jowl, Variety, May 29–June 4, 2006, 46+. 10.Pamela Haag, “вЂPutting Your Body on the Line’: The Question of Violence, Victims, and the Legacies of Second-Wave Feminism,” Differences 8.2 (1996), web, accessed January 30, 2012. 11.Haag, “Putting Your Body.” Page 263 → 12.Insofar as this play continues to be produced, and praised, as relevant to us “today,” Beatrice Joanna must always be taken seriously, in performance, as our contemporary. See Andrew Dickson, “Jacobean Tragedy: Of Love and Death,” Guardian, January 20, 2012,, accessed February 1, 2012. 13.Barbara Sullivan, “Rape, Prostitution, and Consent,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 40.2 (2007): 127. 14.MichГЁle Alexandre, “вЂGirls Gone Wild’ and Rape Law: Revising the Contractual Concept of Consent and Ensuring an Unbiased Application of вЂReasonable Doubt’ When the Victim Is Nontraditional,” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 17.1 (2009): 41–79. 15.Alexandre, “Girls Gone Wild,” 137–138.

16.See Elya M. Durisin, “Perspectives on Rape in the Canadian Sex Industry: Navigating the Terrain between Sex Work as Labor and Sex Work as Violence Paradigms,” Canadian Woman Studies 28.1 (Fall 2009–Winter 2010): 128; and Laurie Shrage, “Exposing the Fallacies of Anti-porn Feminism, ” Feminist Theory 6.1 (2005): 61–64. 17.I am thinking here of Todd Akin’s reprehensible comments during the 2012 race for U.S. senator from Missouri. 18.I base my readings in this section on two separate sets of viewings of the Cheek by Jowl Changeling. My first viewings took place in November 2007; my second viewings took place in July and December 2011. In each case I looked at the same three DVD recordings: from Nancy, France, Cheek by Jowl, The Changeling, “Nancy, France,” archive DVD, private collection of the company, The Barbican, London, accessed November 2007, July 2011; from the Barbican, Cheek by Jowl, The Changeling, “The Barbican,” archive DVD, private collection of the company, The Barbican, London, accessed November 2007, December 2011; and from the Almagro festival in Spain, representing early, midpoint, and late shows in the 2006 tour, Cheek by Jowl, The Changeling, “Almagro Festival, Spain,” archive DVD, private collection of the company, The Barbican, London, accessed November 2007, July 2011. 19.Solga, Violence Against Women, 165, 169–170. 20.The production was remounted in late 2012 with a largely new cast. 21.Joe Hill-Gibbins, dir. The Changeling, perf. Jessica Raine, Daniel Cerqueira, Charlotte Lucas, Alex Beckett, design Ultz, The Young Vic, London, February 25, 2012. 22.Michael Billington, review of The Changeling, dir. Joe Hill-Gibbins, Guardian, February 3, 2012, web, accessed February 27, 2012. 23.See Billington, and Sam Smith, review of The Changeling, dir. Joe Hill-Gibbins, Londonist, February 5, 2012,, accessed February 27, 2012. 24.Natasha Tripney, review of The Changeling, dir. Joe Hill-Gibbins, The Stage, February 3, 2012,, accessed February 27, 2012. 25.Cheek by Jowl, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, dir. Declan Donnellan, perf. Lydia Wilson, Jack Gordon, David Collings, design Nick Ormerod, The Barbican, London, February 23 and 27, 2012.

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The Academy and the Marketplace Avant-Garde Performance in Neoliberal Times Liz Tomlin This chapter sets out to examine the impact on future avant-garde performance of the political and economic context of neoliberalism, now firmly established by the New Labour government of 1997–2010 and the subsequent Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition as the preferred ideological framework of all three major political parties in the UK.1 I will specifically argue that the commodification of our universities under the market-driven politics of neoliberalism is threatening the occlusion of the radical or oppositional traditions of avant-garde practice from both the curriculum and the workshop laboratory. I will conclude that this danger is consolidated by the market’s ever-increasing encroachment on vanguard practice, resulting in a final twist to the well-known trajectory that has so often led to avant-garde experimentation being ultimately incorporated by the market. Today, such practice is no longer destined to be recuperated by the capitalist economy once its value is acknowledged, but rather, from the beginning, such work is fertilized and incubated within the economy’s ideological predicates and structures. Incorporation as such no longer occurs, because the endgame of ultimate commodification is there from the start of the process, sewn into the very fabric of the work’s earliest stages. One preliminary observation must first be made. The following argument is not a critique of practices “of the Right” from someone sitting smugly “on the left.” As a university lecturer who teaches emerging artists, produces graduate platforms of new work, collaborates with promoters from the new work industry, and engages with cultural industry networks both in her own work and to promote and further the work of her students, I am as implicatedPage 265 → in the conclusions of this chapter as any other reader might feel herself or himself to be. But the work context in which we are increasingly confined is rapidly changing, and if we care, as I do, about sustaining the potential for radical change within the field of theater and performance at a time when it is gravely needed, then we need to name what we already fear and address the difficult questions that such a naming exposes.

Commodification of the Avant-Garde It is not the case, Colin Leys persuasively argues, that in a neoliberalist economy the state becomes impotent in the face of market-driven politics. More worryingly, “[The state] is constrained to use its power to advance the process of commodification.”2 Leys describes how the total capitulation of the New Labour government to neoliberalism’s market-driven politics opened the floodgates for firms to constantly explore ways to break out of the boundaries set by state regulation, including the boundaries that close non-market spheres to commodification and profit-making. This is a crucially important issue, since it threatens the destruction of non-market spheres of life on which social solidarity and active democracy have always depended.3 Thus by the time New Labour left office, the process Leys describes as “commodificationВ .В .В . not the one-off sale of a single item, but the conversion of a whole class of goods or services into commodities and a resulting stream of sales” was well under way and welcomed by the incoming Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition.4 Two of the four conditions that Leys identifies as necessary for the conversion of nonmarket spheres into “fields of capital accumulation” are particularly resonant in the context of the following discussion.5 First, services must be able to be “broken down and вЂreconfigured’ as discrete units of output that can be produced and packaged in a more or less standardized way”; and second, the public must be persuaded that these products—which used to be free—are now worth paying for.6 The public-private initiatives that were intent on introducing these conditions into all manner of public services were already beginning to erode the public service ethos that had always held that these were activities, in Eric Shaw’s words, “from which market exchange and the commercial ethos should be barred as a matter of principle.”7 Shaw highlights both

education and cultural activities, alongside health and welfare benefits, as public goods that, under “ethicalPage 266 → socialist thinking”8 were “contrasted with commodities in that they were defined by their intrinsic value: they were particularly вЂhuman’ in that they were essential to human well-being and fulfilment.”9 David Marquand concurs that “the attempt to force these relationships into a market mould undermines the service ethic, degrades the institutions that embody it, and robs the notion of common citizenship of part of its meaning.”10 The consequences of the ongoing conversion of both education and cultural activity into “fields of capital accumulation” are now being felt acutely across the entire field of arts and humanities in the UK, but this process of commodification holds particular dangers for those of us in theater or performance studies who are involved in the research and teaching of contemporary practice with an interest in the continuation of the avantgarde tradition. Unlike the actor-training conservatoires, which have always had a clear objective to train their students to serve an existing marketplace dominated by the economic pull of film and television’s requirements for naturalistic performance, university departments of contemporary practice have traditionally encouraged their students to challenge the marketplace through the development of vanguard practice characterized as postmodern or postdramatic, which often seeks to subvert or question the traditional techniques of acting, writing, and directing, which are celebrated by the mainstream theater industry. Such practice can be understood within the broad historical tradition of the avant-garde, although I prefer to use the term “vanguard” practice post-1970s to distinguish postmodern performance as a whole from the historical traditions that were predominantly allied with particular left-wing political movements. For the clarity of the arguments proposed in this chapter, I will here use the term “vanguard” practice to cover all kinds of experimental and emerging new work, and restrict the use of the term “avant-garde” to distinguish vanguard practices that share a comparable political imperative with the best-known historical avant-garde movements. Political affiliations aside, one thing that does link all the vanguard practice of the 1980s and 1990s with the historical avant-gardes is a shared interest in “the new,” which can be developed in relative autonomy from the existing demands and structures of the economic marketplace. Consequently, both the historical avant-gardes and more recent vanguard practice can be usefully understood, in Pierre Bourdieu’s terms, as inhabiting the subfield of restricted cultural production within the wider field of cultural production.11 This subfield, Bourdieu argues, has always operated, to some degree or other, in direct inversion of economic market principles, disavowing immediate popularity and subsequent economic gain (most prized by the commercial sector) in favor of the symbolicPage 267 → capital that can only be derived, in this subfield, through a disavowal of the commercial; a disavowal that constitutes, in fact, “the principle governing [the subfield’s] functioning and transformation.”12 He argues that if the field of restricted cultural production were to achieve total autonomy with respect to the laws of the market, the “success” of any particular work of art would be measured only by the degree of symbolic capital it accrued, which, in turn, would be governed by the subfield’s “own criteria for the evaluation of its products” produced by “the peer group whose members are both privileged clients and competitors” (115).13 Consequently, the greater the degree of autonomy from the market, the more the logic of symbolic capital ascertains the level of a product’s “success.” As the degree of autonomy from the market weakens, so does the value of symbolic capital. Nonetheless, Bourdieu goes on to assert: In this economic universe, whose very functioning is defined by a “refusal” of the “commercial” which is in fact a collective disavowal of commercial interests and profits, the most “anti-economic” and most visibly “disinterested” behaviours, which in an “economic” universe would be those most ruthlessly condemned, contain a form of economic rationality (even in the restricted sense) and in no way exclude their authors from even the “economic” profits awaiting those who conform to the law of this universe.14 That symbolic capital accrued, in part, by its persistent disavowal of economic capital can ultimately end up attaining significant market value is the seemingly contradictory logic that underpins the market’s inevitable recuperation of the avant-garde. It has, by now, become a commonplace that the imperative to seek the new and the oppositional, which was inherent to the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century, would eventually

lead to their inevitable incorporation as vital economic commodities by a capitalist system that fed off “the new.” The more the avant-gardes sought structures and practices to challenge the commodification of art, the more they seemed destined to merely advance such rules into new territory without any detriment to the underlying economic structures. As Paul Mann persuasively argues in his seminal study, The Theory-Death of the Avant-Garde: There is no outside-the-frame in art. The artist’s desire to be free of the frame is a function of the frame’s need to expandВ .В .В . far from bringing us to a nihilistic state in which nothing can any longer be art, Duchamp’s careful reframings help set the frame loose to become a more Page 268 →flexible, expansive, comprehensive tool for cultural absorption, a net thrown out into cultural space for greater and greater catch.15 In this way, Mann argues, “art against the institution of art ends by advancing the institution’s interests, revitalizing its moribund agencies, providing it with alternatives that constitute its next stage of development.”16 In the same way, Mike Sell notes that “by dematrixing objects, actions, and signifiers from their customary social significance, Happenings and Fluxus events engaged the cultural logic of American capitalism, a logic that is more concerned with discovering new sources of value than sustaining old ones.”17 In fact, Sell suggests, as is now widely acknowledged, the avant-garde movements could, in one sense, be seen as “research-and-development labs for a hipper, gentler, more interesting capitalism.”18 As Renato Poggioli had concluded as far back as 1968, the “fevered experimentation which is one of the most characteristic manifestations of the avant-garde” is “condemned to conquer, through the influence of fashion, that very popularity it once disdained—and this is the beginning of its end.”19 Bourdieu defines this trajectory from opposition to incorporation as a “hierarchy of consecration,”20 whereby within the cultural field of restricted production there will always coexist the latest avant-garde practice that only circulates within a small coterie of its own peers; avant-garde practice that has begun the journey to consecration through the validation and support of legitimizing institutions such as the academies; and fully consecrated avant-garde practice that has either been adopted as the “latest innovation” to revitalize the commercial mainstream, or has received the “infallible mark of consecration” by its inclusion as “the avant-garde” in curricula across the education system.21 Nevertheless, regardless of its ultimate destiny, past avant-garde practice has always had a vital starting-point in this trajectory, where it has enjoyed a relative and temporary autonomy from the institutions that will ultimately either reject it or propel it towards consecration and commodification. Regardless of its inevitable incorporation to some degree or other, the avant-garde, at its most autonomous stage, has always served an invaluable role in the development of challenging and risky innovations that have enriched the field for future artists and audiences in ways that cannot, in fairness, be simplistically reduced to any notion of personal economic gain. While Bourdieu’s study focuses predominantly on literature and fine art, where huge financial benefits can eventually be accrued by consecrated avant-garde practice, in theater, even the most consecrated of once-avant-garde practice rarely achieves significant economic success in relation to the commercialized West End or the mass-media genres of film and television that inhabit the wider field of cultural production. Page 269 →I will now argue that the more the relative autonomy of that early and vital stage in the progression of vanguard practice becomes eroded, the greater the threat to innovation across the field of theater in its widest sense. Universities have always played a vital role in the consecration of the avant-garde, as Bourdieu confirms,22 but they have also, perhaps paradoxically, provided the relatively autonomous space from which the next generation of vanguard practice can emerge. In their role as scholars, academics have always been the ultimate arbiters of canonization, but as facilitators of vanguard practice they have, until now, been able to support the artistic developments of young artists without gearing emerging vanguard practice toward any strategic end. This relatively autonomous space is increasingly coming under threat—from the increased commodification of higher education on one side, and from the growing marketplace for barely emergent practice encroaching from the other.

Commodification of the Academy

In 2006 the New Labour government, under Tony Blair, introduced “top-up” fees of up to ВЈ3,000 per year that English students would now be obliged to pay as a contribution toward their higher education study. This marked the seminal moment at which postwar higher education in England ceased to be an opportunity to seek knowledge and was transformed into a marketable commodity. Students were reconfigured as consumers who expected their money to buy them a degree, and, increasingly, given the rise in fees in 2012 of up to ВЈ9,000 per year, would be encouraged to view that degree as a passport to well-paid employment in order that they might pay off the increased debts they had incurred during their study. Given the second of Leys’s conditions of commodification, it inevitably followed that those who were being reconfigured as consumers now needed to be persuaded that the commodity they were being asked to purchase was worth the money. Rather than any attempt to evaluate the worth of a particular educational process in relation to its capacity to offer intellectual development, the enrichment of individuals and societies, or additions to human knowledge, Lord Browne’s independent review set out only two options of evaluation: Rather than create a bureaucratic and imperfect measure for quality, our proposals rely on student choice to drive up the quality of higher education. Students need access to high quality information, advice and guidance in order to make the best choices.В .В .В . Providing students Page 270 →with clearer information about employment outcomes will close the gap between the skills taught by the higher education system and what employers need.23 So against an uninviting option of unspecified “bureaucratic” and “imperfect” systems of evaluation, the independent review offers only the familiar mechanism of market choice. At the very core of that market choice is the bait of future employment within the neoliberalist marketplace to which universities are now positioned as providers. Moreover, the emphasis on student choice based on a neoliberalist definition of results creates a sector marketplace in which universities must “outperform” each other, not in the sense of how well they support intellectual development, but on the grounds of their capacity to offer value for money in relation to employability and future economic return. Under commodification, we can clearly see, as Leys again has argued, how “the collective needs and values that the service was originally created to serve are gradually marginalised and finally abandoned.”24 The reduction of universities from places of learning to places of employee production was signaled by their passage, under successive governments, from the Department of Education to the Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills, and is clearly reflected in the Coalition Government’s 2011 White Paper prepared jointly by Liberal democrat MP Dr. Vince Cable (Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills) and the Conservative MP David Willetts (Minister for Universities and Science). The vocabulary throughout, as exemplified in the extract below, highlights the paper’s embrace of neoliberalist free-market politics: The main barriers faced by institutions seeking to expand and new providers who wish to enter the market, are student number controls and the complicated and slow processes for obtaining university title and taught degree awarding powers. To help more students attend the institution they want, and drive competition and innovation across the sector, we will free up student numbers and consult on changes to the criteria and process for granting university title and taught degree-awarding powers.25 Entitled Students at the Heart of the System, it seamlessly continues the thrust of the Browne report. In addition to the unsurprising emphasis on justifying the proposals for “sustainable and fair funding” (chapter 1), and the necessary political correlative of promises for “improved social mobility through fairer access” (chapter 5), the push toward a market-driven sector through Page 271 →mechanisms of student choice, and the requirement for the university to demonstrate its value as effective producer for the marketplace, continue to dominate the proposals. This emphasis is encapsulated in point 13 of the executive summary. We also want our universities to look again at how they work with business across their teaching and research activities, to promote better teaching, employer sponsorship, innovation and enterprise.26 Not only are teaching and innovation now to be considered of equal value to employer sponsorship and enterprise,

but the capacity of universities to provide the market with the types of employees it requires is to become a significant “selling point” within the marketplace of its own sector. The “Key Information Set,” which is recommended as a set of data that will enable higher education institutions to “illustrate the quality of the experience that they offer,”27 does still include headings such as “Course Information,” comprising evaluation of student satisfaction with the quality of the course and the staff who have taught them, but it gives proportionately equal weighting to six subheadings that come under the heading “Employment.”28 The harnessing of universities to provide for industry requirements and subsequent financial reward is, of course, neither a new thing nor a necessarily harmful one, and certainly in relation to disciplines that have always fed directly into the economic marketplace (primarily the sciences, law, medicine, and engineering), the move toward ever-closer links with industry signals little in the way of fundamental change. For the arts and humanities, however, the commodification of both aspects of higher education—first, the production of an economic commodity (degree) for its students and, second, the production of economic products (graduates) for the marketplace—has significant implications. The first page of the supporting analysis for the Higher Education White Paper, published by the same government department, states: “higher education enhances the economy’s stock of human capital which has the potential to generate economic growth through a number of channels.”29 It is this invidious economic reduction of human intellectual and emotional potential to a mere “stock of human capital,” which is now seemingly leading the deeply ideological development of our higher education institutions. In the 2008 Nuffield Review of education and training, the warning signs were clearly identified, as Derek Gillard reports: Education for All warned that ministers were treating school pupils as if they were business products to be managed rather than children to Page 272 →be educated.В .В .В . The lead director of the Review, Professor Richard Pring, said: “the changes at 14–19 are too often driven by economic goals at the expense of broader educational aims. This is reflected in the rather impoverished language drawn from business and management, rather than from a more generous understanding of the whole person. We need to give young learners far more than skills for employment alone, even if such skills are key to the country’s economy.”30 It is precisely the alternative values offered by education, both at school and university level, that are being systematically eroded by the commodification of the education system and its subsequent requirement to serve only market imperatives. This is particularly pertinent in the arts and humanities, which have been less traditionally disposed toward providing training for employment but rather, as Terry Eagleton persuasively argues, have grown historically out of the necessity to “foster and protect the kind of values for which a philistine social order had precious little time.”31 It was no coincidence, Eagleton continues, that “modern humanities and industrial capitalism were more or less twinned at birth,” as it is the humanities that have traditionally equipped students to challenge, not serve, the economic and political systems of the time “in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future.”32 The pressure on arts and humanities departments to replace these values with “skills” that can help support, not challenge, the neoliberal consensus of our time can be seen in the widespread practice among English universities of predominantly emphasizing the “transferability” of skills acquired while studying the arts and humanities; a practice that serves to reevaluate the arts and humanities experience purely in terms of how it can be “made saleable” within the graduate marketplace. As if to further this end, a specific marketplace that could house the arts was rationalized and defined for the purpose by the New Labour Government under the branding of the creative, or cultural, industries. As Eisenberg, Gerlach, and Handke confirm, “Under the Labour administration in the late 1990s, the British Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has played an important role in promoting the debate on cultural industries and the way they can be harnessed as drivers of economic development.”33 While economic justifications of arts practice have become increasingly unavoidable in the growing financial crisis and savage cuts to public spending, such justifications also serve to yoke the role of the arts and the artist ever more to serving the neoliberalist marketplace on the latter’s own terms, rather than the more traditional aspiration of autonomyPage 273 → from the marketplace for the very purpose of challenging the predicates of its systems and proposing alternative notions of value.

A “Tool for Cultural Absorption” If the autonomy of emerging artists is increasingly threatened on one side by governmental and institutional pressure on academics to match undergraduate outcomes with the requirements of the market, it is simultaneously threatened on the other by an ever encroaching marketplace for new work at its earliest stages. Artists of my own generation, beginning to make work in the mid-1990s, were probably the last to be afforded some years of relative autonomy at the earliest stage of their practice, which, admittedly, was a mixed blessing in that it was inevitably attached to either unemployed penury or grueling work schedules that had to include earning other sources of income. That autonomous space was, however, vital for the development of innovative and challenging practice free from the predicates of symbolic or economic market demands. Yet it was during this period that market imperatives began to encroach more and more on the early stages of vanguard practice in developments that came to fruition in the neoliberalist cultural field of the early twenty-first century. Historically, as Bourdieu’s analysis confirms, avant-garde artists in performance, like those in the visual arts, have always required the support of peers and mentors who are able to support the potential development of the work well before it becomes recognized by the institutions that will set it on the road to consecration. Terry O’Connor from Forced Entertainment identifies figures such as Lois Keidan, Steve Rogers, and Nikki Millican as vital in the early days of the company’s emergence in the late 1980s, while Alex Kelly, the codirector of Third Angel, formed in 1995, cites Deborah Chadbourn, the then producer of Forced Entertainment, in addition to Nikki Millican and Bridget Mazzey, among others.34 Significantly, although both Millican and Mazzey were promoters (Millican the director of Glasgow’s National Review of Live Art in 1984, and Mazzey programmed Bristol’s Arnolfini at the time), Kelly observes that it was less their support of the company from a market perspective that was vital, than their engagement with the ideas and the work that predated their capacity to offer the company a slot in their festival or program. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it would seem, one could sustain a relatively autonomous space for vanguard practice to develop on its own terms, within a restricted and relatively disinterested peer group. I certainly Page 274 →recall from my own experience as an emerging theater-maker in the late 1990s that the conventional wisdom of the time was that it would probably take four to five years to achieve the level of recognition for Arts Council financial support of any significant kind and considerably longer before anyone beyond your immediate circle of support began to take notice of the work, at which point the inevitable process of consecration for those who were successful would begin. At this point, either market imperatives or academic expectations and requirements of the work would begin to reduce the autonomy of artists, as they sought to play to higher-profile venues (with a wider demographic of audience to satisfy) or service the particular demands of academic curricula with a continuation of “the kind of work” that was now legitimized as valuable and sought after within the consecrating academic community. Most of the influential figures named by O’Connor and Kelly above were drawn to mentor and support the development of each company’s profile due to their particular belief in the artists’ existing work, rather than the identification of an investment for self-gain, although their belief in the future symbolic value of the work must, to some degree, be assumed to be implicit. However, the support for emerging companies throughout the 1990s began to be formalized within development opportunities run by building-based touring houses such as Battersea Arts Centre (London), the Green Room (Manchester), Leeds Metropolitan University Studio (Leeds), and Arnolfini (Bristol), which would increasingly seek to build relationships with emerging artists that went beyond the promotion or programming of the artists’ existing work to occupy a role closer to that of coproducers, with growing levels of input into the work itself as it was being made. Thus, even at this point, the potential risk to the autonomy of vanguard artists, now working more and more collaboratively with the demands of an emerging new work marketplace from the earliest stages of their development, could be predicted. One of the most significant developments to emerge from the increased market interest in engaging with vanguard practitioners at the very beginning of their careers was the “scratch night” format, which grew in popularity with artists, venues, and audiences throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century. The “scratch night” is a multiplatform event where a number of artists are invited to perform a ten- to twenty-minute “fragment” of work still in the development stage. Audiences are generally asked to feed back to the artists via more or less formalized after-show discussions, thus contributing to the future development of the work, and

there is often an element of competition—either implicit or explicit—in that the scratch night can serve Page 275 →as a showcase for potential promoters and programmers to attend in order to select the “best of” the night for future development opportunities. The success of the format is due to its many undeniable advantages to venues, promoters, artists, and audiences. Venues can profile risky new work in a relatively low-risk, low-cost model, given that the work is required to be technically undemanding, the artists are rarely paid, and the audience is guaranteed a range of work in which there is more likely to be something for everyone. It provides a one-stop opportunity for producers and programmers to see a range of new work all in one place and time and to select the most promising artists for subsequent support and development. The artists are offered an early presence in the marketplace and access to those influential within it, which was not generally available until much later in previous generations of vanguard artists’ careers, and the audience is enabled to contribute to the latest vanguard practice in its earliest stages of development, thus gaining investment and interest in the future work. Thus a pyramid emerges that is widest at the bottom, offering a point of entry to the majority of all new artists through participation in a scratch night program, a model that can now be accessed by artists throughout the UK. The pyramid rapidly narrows as some are selected by independent producers or venue programmers for support and development, before this layer is thinned out once again to consist of those who would constitute the vanguard practice that, in Bourdieu’s terms, is approaching consecration, a small number of whom will eventually go on to progress through academic and critical recognition to the fully consecrated stage of the avant-garde trajectory. This pyramid, I would suggest, regardless of the nature of its ideological aims and incentives, is entirely constructed on strategies that have been appropriated directly from the wider market economy. Its benefits demonstrate evident advantages for those whose ambitions and abilities match the opportunities on offer, but, as I will now argue, the losers in such a system—and there must always be losers in a market economy—will almost certainly be those practitioners whose work, historically, would have been closest to the ideological imperatives of the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century.

Ever-Greater “Catch” Most pertinent to the concerns of this chapter is my assertion that each new generation of vanguard practitioners now risks being yoked to the demands of the market itself at the very earliest stage of development. A theater company can present on a scratch night platform before ever having produced a Page 276 →full-length piece of work, thus permitting market interests, in the form of audience and promoter intervention, to be represented within the development of that first piece of work before it even reaches its conclusion. These market interests are likely to have been formed in relation to previous vanguard trends that have since been consecrated either by the academy or by the high-profile platforms supporting the consecrated avant-garde, such as the Barbican BITE (Barbican International Theatre Events) program, the SPILL festival of performance, and the British Council showcase held biannually at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Given that the pyramid ultimately looks upward toward consecration rather than opposing its market structures, the successful vanguard practices are unlikely to offer something so challenging to the reigning-consecrated avant-garde practice that they appear to be unsalable in economic or symbolic terms to the consecrating institutions within academia and the wider theater industry. This might be one reason why, at the same time as we have seen increased market involvement with emerging new work, there has arguably been a corresponding decrease in the levels of innovation each successive generation of vanguard practice has produced, a swing from innovation to excellence that is identified by Richard Schechner in his article “The Conservative Avant-Garde.”35 Emergent companies in the UK in the 1980s, such as Impact Theater and Forced Entertainment, offered a radical break with the alternative British theater movements that had preceded them; both in their explicit and formal challenge to the dramatic and epic theater conventions of playwrights such as David Edgar, Howard Brenton, and Caryl Churchill; and in their rejection of the overt political and social agendas of the majority of ensemble companies who had led the alternative theater movement in the UK throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This would substantiate Bourdieu’s observation that in the avant-garde hierarchy of consecration the initiative of change falls almost by definition on the newcomers.В .В .В . In a universe in which to exist is to differ, i.e. to occupy a distinct, distinctive position, they must assert their difference, get it

known and recognizedВ .В .В . by endeavouring to impose new modes of thought and expression, out of key with the prevailing modes of thought.36

Since the 1980s, however, there have been no discernible innovations that have challenged the new orthodoxies of the now-consecrated avant-garde of that time. Throughout the 1990s, the “new” developments have seemingly maintained a complicit agreement that the “prevailing modes of thought” Page 277 →are to be upheld, a trend defined by Richard Schechner as a particular kind of conservatism.37 That is not to say that there haven’t been innovations, but rather that the previous generation’s innovations have not been significantly challenged, interrogated, or undermined in the thirty years since their conception. In a previously published article, I proposed that much current vanguard practice was merely replicating the motifs that characterized the work of artists such as Forced Entertainment, to the point where such motifs, once rigorous strategies of deconstruction, were becoming transformed into formalistic conventions.38 Jane Milling and Dee Heddon, writing on postmodern performance, likewise note that “there is a danger that a dominant (and dominating), identifiable вЂstyle’ is emerging.”39 Citing similar concerns voiced by Geraldine Harris, Heddon and Milling note that “students’ contemporary devised performance works rarely вЂinterrogate’ the вЂtexts’ of the various performances they copy,” which “results in вЂthe reproduction of images and ideas that have the appearance of clichГ©s, because the imprints of the histories that they carry have not been analyzed and interrogated.’”40 I am proposing that one possible reason for this is the increasingly early involvement of the market in the development of emerging new practice. The market, being fundamentally risk-averse, is led by work already on its way to consecration, so it will be looking for work that offers a novel dimension to that existing and proven “brand,” rather than work seeking to challenge the very predicates of that which has proved it can earn consecrated status and subsequent market success. This threatens to restrict the field of those artists who can “win” under this pyramid system to those making the kinds of practice already validated at a relatively advanced stage of consecration. Anything genuinely challenging to the “prevailing modes of thought,” in other words, anything that might historically have constituted the next generation of avant-garde practice, will be rejected by the market as it represents a threat to the predicates of the existing marketplace and those who currently benefit from it. There is a second and related threat to the notion of avant-garde practice, inherent in the creation of this pyramid from within the space that once existed as a nonmarket sphere, and, here again, the process of commodification can be seen at work. If we look back to Leys’s four conditions for the conversion of nonmarket spheres into “fields of capital accumulation,” the first is that “services must be capable of being commodified—вЂbroken down’ and вЂreconfigured’ as discrete units of output that can be produced and packaged in a more or less standardized way.”41 The leaning of the new work marketplace toward this particular condition can lead to one of the less beneficial consequences of the standard scratch night, which tends to require, often for Page 278 →pragmatic rather than ideological reasons, that all work submitted can operate in a more or less similar stage set up for one single audience in one single context and function successfully as a bitesize extract. In this way, as discussed, multiple products can be packaged and marketed to the consumer in a costeffective way that offers both quantity and variety as a means of spreading the risk of audience dissatisfaction. However, such market-derived principles do not suit all kinds of work. Work that demands a different audience from the arts graduate, artist, and regular theatergoing audience of the scratch night will not thrive well in such contexts. Work that demands performance sites away from the theater, or wishes to oppose the marketing structures of paying or ready-made audiences, will be difficult to accommodate. Work that is challenging in its durational needs, or simply too complex or demanding to be digested in a ten-minute chunk, is unlikely to be selected, or to succeed under conditions that it is not intended to serve. The scratch night plays to the tastes of a channel-hopping, MTV, YouTube-loving culture, which generally prefers bite-sized chunks of variety and is increasingly unwilling to invest or commit for too long in something resisting its demands for instant gratification. Any piece of work requiring a single-minded, lengthy, and focused immersion into one particular and isolated experience in order to work its effect will fare very badly within the scratch night format, if it even makes it to the bill in the first place.

It can clearly be seen that the work risking exclusion from this marketplace contains a significant list of the usual attributes of an avant-garde practice: political interventionism; unorthodox conditions of delivery; nontheatergoing audiences; and genuinely challenging form or content that refuses to meet audience expectations or give easy results. This last is particularly pertinent and would include most historical avant-garde practice, which has quite consistently rejected commercialized or populist modes of practice. The occlusion of avant-garde practice from the marketplace of its time is, of course, almost a defining characteristic of the avant-garde. The difference in this historical context is that for the first time there is an established, recognized, and authorized career progression route for aspiring professional vanguard practice that ultimately promises the reward of consecration. Given the pressure on universities to offer such career routes to their graduates throughout all disciplines, there is a real danger that the relatively autonomous space that once used to nurture avant-garde challenges to the market is under threat from the encroachment of market predicates from both sides. This can be clearly seen in the emergence of undergraduate showcases styled on the scratch night format, which invite promoters and programmers to Page 279 →view the practice of final-year students who might then be offered support from the industry, such as a slot in a venue-led scratch night, before they have even graduated. In this way the universities—and I, myself, am complicit in the production of such events—offer an additional layer to the base of the market-orientated pyramid. Consequently, the space of autonomy, the absence of industry progression, financial support, or recognition, which used to offer a genuinely meritocratic and relatively unobserved space for the most resourceful, determined, and groundbreaking practice to sustain itself long enough to offer genuine innovations for ultimate recognition, has now been filled by the temptation of preparing a first ten-minute product specifically tailored to a particular marketplace for early selection or rejection which will mark you as worthy, or not, of future development. The neoliberal process of commodification, in Leys’s terms, has now appropriated the nonmarket sphere of the avant-garde, carrying potentially lethal threats to the values historically inherent in such work. Vanguard practice now emerging from the universities has a ready-made market that can very quickly name, authorize, and validate it as the next generation of the consecrated avant-garde. As a consequence, not only are university departments and lecturers drawn, for all the reasons outlined in the previous section, to encourage their students to make the kind of work that will meet the particular demand of that market, but that same market can now also supply the academic interest in vanguard practice with the work the market has authorized and validated. Where it was once, as Bourdieu confirms, the universities who led the market within the restricted field of cultural production by ultimately conferring consecration on the avant-garde,42 it is now the marketplace that decides the consecration of certain vanguard practices, which the universities are then conjoined to uphold to maintain that they are indeed teaching the skills and knowledge that the market requires. This circle of commodification thus threatens to exclude from the curriculum of the university any work that does not fit into the vanguard marketplace. There is no urgency to teach it, first, because it offers no career prospects within the marketplace on graduation and, second, because it lies outside the authorized “next new” and so beyond the field of essential study. Consequently, “avant-garde” practice, which is likely to be rejected by the vanguard market for the reasons noted above, gradually becomes occluded from contemporary vanguard discourse. Because this influential marketplace now exists, it has begun to govern the trajectory of soon-to-be consecrated vanguard practice in an unprecedented manner. Page 280 →This, in itself, poses a threat to the diversity of future vanguard practice at the best. At the worst, I would argue, “avant-gardism,” or the artist’s very capacity to lead thought, is endangered, which can be no good thing whether one is looking from the perspective of radical activism or the market itself. For the latter, the products become less and less distinguishable from previous products in the cycle as discussed above. Ultimately, the market will be denied the kinds of significant challenges historically posed by the avant-garde and, in the long term, will be impoverished as a result. From the perspective of those interested in the history of radical activism, the notion of political, oppositional, and avant-garde practice becomes more and more marginalized within the university, at odds with the demands of the ready-made marketplace that contemporary practice courses are now pressured to supply. Yet the death of the avant-garde has been predicted many times before, and perhaps this is only its latest obituary.

Following the incorporation of vanguard practice by the marketplace, it surely remains imperative for academics working within that field to resist the government’s imperatives to serve that market only, and to also ensure they help students who may wish to carve out a new, autonomous space that does not necessarily “fit” with the neoliberal imperatives of career progression and whose work can ultimately challenge neoliberal market imperatives and support the development of and insistence on alternative values of the arts and humanities. The radical act of appropriation for those of us working in this field might be to look to envisage or present the antiscratch night, which invents ways to platform the work that seeks to challenge the predicates of the political and artistic status quo within the restricted field of cultural production, rather than offering the existing marketplace an even earlier opportunity for selection on its own terms. At the same time, more, not less, effort should be devoted to seeking out and studying avant-garde practice occluded from the vanguard practice marketplace: the interventionist, direct action practice of organizations such as Art Uncut; the community and participatory innovations in very localized, and so generally less visible, contexts; the challenging and difficult work that persists for as long as it is able in the shadows, unable to get a foot on a market-driven ladder that is not the right shape for its demands. It would be wise for scholars working in contemporary practice in the twenty-first century to adopt for our own time the revisionist drive to reclaim historical work that has been occluded from the canon, so that we can best challenge, and not collude with, the neoliberal consensus that threatens the very notion of future avant-garde practice. Page 281 →

Notes 1.While the neoliberal context described in this chapter affects the entire UK, this chapter deals with a specifically English context, given that devolution has enabled Scottish universities to reject the imposition of fees at Scottish universities for Scottish students; the Northern Ireland Executive to maintain the existing level of fees (around £3,000) for Northern Irish students at Northern Irish universities, and the Welsh parliament to subsidize fees above around £3,000 for Welsh students wherever they choose to study in the UK. 2.Colin Leys, Market-Driven Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and the Public Interest (London: Verso, 2001), 2. 3.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 4. 4.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 87. 5.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 84. 6.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 84. 7.Eric Shaw, Losing Labour’s Soul? New Labour and the Blair Government, 1997–2007 (New York: Routledge, 2007), 36 (original emphasis). 8.Shaw, Losing Labour’s Soul? 36. 9.Russell Keat, “Market Boundaries and Human Goods,” in Philosophy and Public Affairs, ed. John Haldane (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 26–27, cited in Shaw, Losing Labour’s Soul? 39. 10.David Marquand, The Progressive Dilemma: From Lloyd George to Blair, 2nd ed. (London: Phoenix, 2000), 254, cited in Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 213. 11.Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, trans. Randal Johnson (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), 115. 12.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 79. 13.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 115. 14.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 75. 15.Paul Mann, The Theory-Death of the Avant-Garde (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 103. 16.Mann, Theory-Death, 82. 17.Mike Sell, Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism: Approaching the Living Theatre, Happenings/Fluxus, and the Black Arts Movement (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), 194. 18.Sell, Avant-Garde Performance, 190.

19.Renato Poggioli, The Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Gerald Fitzgerald (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), 82. 20.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 136. 21.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 123. 22.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 124. 23.John Browne, Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education (2010), 28, /assets/biscore/corporate/docs/s/10–1208-securing-sustainable-higher-education-browne-report.pdf. 24.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 4. 25.Vince Cable and David Willets, Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System (2011), 53 (my emphasis), 26.Cable and Willets, Higher Education, 6. Page 282 → 27.Cable and Willets, Higher Education, 29. 28.Cable and Willets, Higher Education, 28–29. 29.Tera Allas, Supporting Analysis for the Higher Education White Paper (2011), 1, 30.Derek Gillard, Education in England: A Brief History (2011), /history. 31.Terry Eagleton, “The Death of Universities,” Guardian, December 17, 2010. 32.Eagleton, “The Death of Universities.” 33.Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach, and Christian Handke, introduction to Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective, ed. Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach, and Christian Handke (2006), 7, 34.Cited from the author’s conversations with O’Connor and Kelly, 2011. 35.Richard Schechner, “The Conservative Avant-Garde,” New Literary History 41.4 (2010): 899. 36.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 58. 37.Schechner, “The Conservative Avant-Garde,” 895–896. 38.Liz Tomlin, “Beyond Cynicism: The Sceptical Imperative and (Future) Contemporary Performance, ” Contemporary Theatre Review 18.3 (2008): 356–369. 39.Dee Heddon and Jane Milling, Devising Performance: A Critical History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 215. 40.Geraldine Harris, Staging Femininities: Performance and Performativity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 19, cited in Heddon and Milling, Devising Performance, 127. 41.Leys, Market-Driven Politics, 84. 42.Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, 24.

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Avant-Garde Theory and Right-Wing Ideology Mike Sell In Genio e cultura,1 one of Italian futurist Umberto Boccioni’s ultrashort theatrical sintesi, we find an apt dramatization of this essay’s topic: the relationship between theory, the avant-garde, and politics.2 Lights up on a “very elegant woman” dressing for an evening out; a young artist, also “elegant”; and “an ambiguous being neither dirty nor clean, neither old nor young,” a critic. The artist leaps to his feet, “Glory! Ah! Glory! (Tightening his fists.) I am strong! I am young! I can face anything!” But his confidence abruptly flags, and he desperately implores the critic, “You! You, sir, who are a man, listenВ .В .В . Help me!” The critic demurs, “I am not a man, I am a critic. I am a man of culture,” explaining that his work depends on distance, objectivity—and theory. The artist collapses “as if struck by lightning” and writhes on the floor, gasping for air. “We must cut this knot that is choking his throat!” the woman cries, interrupted in her preparations. “Just a minute,” the critic mumbles, rummaging through his books, “HegelВ .В .В . KantВ .В .В . HartmannВ .В .В . Spinoza.” Paper knife in hand, he moves to help, trips, and stabs the young man in the neck. Recoiling, he “takes a beard a meter long, and applies it to his chin. He puts on his glasses, takes paper and pencil, then looks among his books without finding anything.” As the curtain falls and the youth bleeds out, the critic intones, “Toward 1915, a marvelous artist blossomedВ .В .В . Like all the great ones, he was 1.68 meters tall, and his widthВ .В .В .” At first blush, Genio e cultura is little more than a retread of the old romantic conceit about the critic’s inability to understand the advanced artist and his work. No doubt, Boccioni festoons his sintesi with the conventional trappings: a long gray beard, dusty philosophical tomes, and so on. But, despite his beard, the critic is fluent in the theory of the avant-garde, invoking Hegel, Kant, Hartmann, and Spinoza with alacrity. So, how does he fail? It is Page 284 →clumsiness that causes the stabbing, and the harm is worsened not by ignorance, but by his inability to take practical action. Boccioni spotlights themes that will shape my brief and incomplete exploration of the historical, institutional, and methodological imbrication of avant-garde theory and right-wing ideology. First, he presumes an intimate relationship between the avant-garde and academic scholarship and theory. The artist and the critic share a discourse, a room, books, and a commitment to art that promotes change. That sharing is distinctly embodied: women are desired, throats constrict, flesh is cut, clothing is bloodied. Second, Boccioni links the purposes of theory—to articulate, to historicize, to assess—to matters of life, death, desire, and power. Academic theory matters to the avant-garde artist; it affects its actions, its self-consciousness, and its legacies. And, finally, there is the question and the politics of desire, represented by the ambiguous, curiously inconsequential presence of the glamorous woman. Whatever we might say about the play’s acuity regarding the relationship of theory and the avant-garde, it is sexist—reminding us that, even when we are at our most critical, certain questions inevitably go unasked. My main purpose in these pages is to situate avant-garde theory, better said avant-garde theories, in their “Boccionian” scene, emphasizing the intimacy, historical conjunctures, and obscured ideologies that link avant-garde theory to right-wing ideology. To that end, I will discuss the “return to order” movement in France during and after World War I, criminological responses to the avant-garde in the nineteenth century, and recent work on the avant-garde practiced under the banner of the so-called “New Modernist Studies.” Each of these theoretical moments provides an opportunity to treat avant-garde theory not as a historically transcendent, objective, quasi-scientific discourse, but rather as a set of ideologically invested, historically contingent, institutionally embedded acts. I have chosen these three moments because they exemplify the way that avantgarde theory’s relationship to ideology tends to be obscured precisely when the theory in question is proclaimed as a liberatory, innovative practice, untethered from older modes of analysis. Ironically, at the moment when theorists envision themselves as methodologically avant-garde, they can be the most politically regressive.

If we don’t understand the work of theory as essentially historical and ideological, regardless of its political affiliations and purposes, then we risk turning theory into, at worst, an apology, at best a consolation for authoritarianism, injustice, and economic inequality. While I won’t call for theorists to “man up” as Boccioni’s elegant woman does, I enthusiastically affirm the Page 285 →futurist’s call for a more embodied, performative vision of the work of theory and for a greater level of attentiveness to the shared spaces and intertwined desires of theory, the avant-garde, and power.

Theories by the Right, for the Right The Union SacrГ©e and the Rise of Radical Chic In 1914, the German army invaded France, pushing to within twenty-five miles of Paris. Though they ultimately forced the Germans to retreat, the French were left confused, terrified, and convinced “that the reason for their victory at the MarneВ .В .В . was [their] resolve not to see a repeat of 1870,”3 when the German army laid siege to Paris, the French government caved, and the subalterns of Paris founded the Paris Commune. Edith Wharton marveled at the uncanny scene: Paris scorned all show of war and fed the patriotism of her children on the mere sight of her beauty.В .В .В . It seemed as though it had been unanimously, instinctively decided that the Paris of 1914 should in no way resemble the Paris of 1870, and as though this resolution had passed into the blood of millions born since that fatal date, ignorant of its bitter lesson.4 This unity was “neither instinctive nor congenital, butВ .В .В . the result of a political coalition formed at the moment of mobilization.”5 In his August 4 speech to the National Assembly, President Raymond PoincarГ© called for a national union sacrГ©e, or sacred union, to repel the barbarians. This union sacrГ©e was far more than a military strategy, as its religious connotations suggest. G. Lacour-Gayet declared Poincaré’s speech to be the conclusion of the decades-old battle among “socialists, radicals, progressivists, conservatives, republicans, monarchists, Freemasons, clericalists, blockists, nationalists.”6 “Unity” came at grievous cost to the Left, which was forced to forgive and forget the assassination of pacifist internationalist Jean JaurГЁs earlier that summer. Though “the act of a fanatic, [the assassination] had a specific political objective—the French Left had long called for reconciliation with the Germans, and JaurГЁs in particular not only blamed capitalism for the war crisis but assured the French working class that the German working class would never take up arms against their brethren.”7 It was an Page 286 →agreement “not to shoot the pianist.”8 In point of fact, the union sacrГ©e was not so much a suspension of ideology in the service of national survival as it was an opportunistic attack on the Left by a coalition of right-wing forces. The attack on the Left was, not surprisingly, an attack on the avant-garde. A few months after the invasion, Charles Maurras, ideological pilot for the ultra-right-wing paper Action FranГ§aise, sicced critic LГ©on Daudet on the poets and painters, accusing them of being both agents and victims of German Kulturkampf. In “Out from under the German Yoke,” Daudet asserted that the German offensive against France began with the Franco-Prussian War, but didn’t stop with the truce. The military offensive had merely transmogrified into an insidious and far more dangerous cultural offensive. Decades of “Kantism,” he declared, had caused a “sickening of the French Soul.”9 The “devotion to Wagner is costly,” Daudet continued, “because he denationalizes the French in the matter of a Kant or a Hegel or a Schopenhauer.”10 As Silver notes, in order “to associate all forms of avant-garde art with the anti-French aims of the enemy,”11 writers like Daudet didn’t just delegitimize the transnational networks of the avant-garde, but nationalized the history of the avant-garde. As part of a broader “return to order” movement, non-French artists were bullied and harassed. Writing from Paris, Juan Gris complained to famed German-Jewish art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who had seen the writing on the wall and flown to Switzerland at the start of the war, You who are absent cannot imagine how every foreigner here is suspect, no matter what his nationality.В .В .В . Take it from me, .В .В .В that it is not enough to have a clear conscience: one

also has to give the appearanceВ .В .В . they say appalling things in the canteens of Montmartre and Montparnasse and make terrible accusations against myself and against anyone who had dealings with you.12

Even native, non-Jewish Frenchman Jean Cocteau, rejected for military service, had his tailor create a wardrobe of “unofficial uniforms” to leaven the abuse and secure his cachet among the patriotic haute bourgeoisie who remained in Paris. Even if they managed to avoid the insults of their neighbors, artists still had to answer two difficult questions: How can art best serve the war effort? What aspects of the prewar avant-garde could be incorporated into that service?13 These questions implied others: Page 287 →How could the various forms of pre-war art that had been deliberately provocative, often ironic, and usually iconoclastic become serious, measured, and simplified? How could an art be nationalist if was produced by a heterogeneous group of cosmopolitans? How could art that had been born and flourished in the supposedly frivolous years before 1915 declare itself to be part of France’s post-mobilization reawakening?14 In sum, how could the artist challenge convention and propel modernity, but do so in a fashion that was true to the unique character and historical destiny of France? Given the desire to avoid memories of the Commune, it’s not surprising that the theory seized upon by critics predated the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. In the catalog introduction for the 1916 Paris Triennale, which opened during the German offensive at Verdun, ClГ©ment Janin urged the avant-garde to accept “pressure from officialdomВ .В .В . [and] establish, paralleling our offensive force, a moral force.”15 In other words, Janin implored the vanguard to abandon the path it had followed since the Commune and join with scientists, technicians, and venture capitalists to celebrate France and its imperial project. This might sound familiar: It is the theory of the avant-garde forwarded by Henri de Saint-Simon and his disciples in the 1820s, who understood the avant-garde artist to be part of a dynamic triumvirate with science and industry. But the ideological reconfiguration of the avant-garde required a reconfiguration of historiographical paradigms, as well. To wit, poet Paul DermГ©e argued that French art was best served by returning to classical motifs and illusionism in the arts, but only if they were mixed with select elements and approaches from the prewar avantgardes. And he argues this in rather curious terms: “The life of literature continues, and a very sure instinct guides it in its evolution.В .В .В . After a period of exuberance and force must follow a period of organization, of arrangement, of science—that is to say, a classical age.”16 On close inspection, it appears that DermГ©e is arguing for a biological theory of art history that, when read against the intense xenophobia of his moment, smacks of racism. Indeed, conjoined with Janin’s neo-Saint-Simonianism, with the idea that the arts should work in collaboration with capital and in the spirit of national-racial evolution, the theory of the avant-garde forwarded at the Triennale hearkens back to a little-remembered dimension of Saint-Simon’s theory: its racism. Donald Drew Egbert has demonstrated that Saint-Simon’s theory was based on the idea that societies had “the same critical ages, the same changes Page 288 →of taste, as in the history of the individual human being, with history therefore developing through periods of adolescence, maturity, and decay like the life-cycle of a living organism.”17 This way of thinking about society, culture, and politics transposed into historiographical terms the racist theories of Marie FranГ§ois Xavier Bichat. Martin Staum explains: “Bichat had written of the body as composed of some twenty-one different tissues (each with its own specific functionality and kind of life) and of intelligence as being separate from organic life.”18 Extending these ideas, racist social scientists such as Saint-Simon “drew comparisons between the well-functioning biological individual and the well-constructed society.”19 For writers like Janin and DermГ©e, Saint-Simon’s techno-racist theory of the avant-garde served multiple ends in a period of ideological volatility and right-wing harassment. It literally naturalized a shift in the political spectrum, relegating non-French influences to an early and immature stage of French art.

But racism was not enough to insure the avant-garde as the proper agency for French greatness, particularly given its historical connections to the Left. If the avant-garde was to survive, thrive, and lead, then the art market had to change. And if the art market was to change, what was needed was an unprecedented rapprochement—a union sacrГ©e all its own—of the avant-garde and the haute bourgeoisie. Enter Jean Cocteau. It is difficult to overestimate Cocteau’s role in the development of a market for avantgarde commodities and, ultimately, in the canonization of the avant-garde. That role was, first and foremost, to confuse the terms and geography of the prewar avant-garde. “There were two fronts,” Cocteau writes: The war front, and then in ParisВ .В .В . what might be called the Montparnasse frontВ .В .В . which is where I met all the men who helped me emerge from the famous Right in which I had been living.В .В .В . I was on the way to what seemed to me the intense life—toward Picasso, toward Modigliani, toward Satie.В .В .В . All those men who had given proof of their Leftism, and I had to do the same. I wasВ .В .В . suspect on the Right, which I was leaving, and suspect on the on the Left, where I was arriving.20 Cocteau recognized that the war was producing a new class of art consumer, a consumer who craved shock and innovation as long as it was tempered with a certain “Frenchness.” As he put it, “Between taste and vulgarity, both unpleasant, there remains an Г©lan and a sense of proportion: The tact of understanding just how far you can go too far.”21 This is, as Silver points out, “the very definition of chic.”22 Page 289 →And “chic” is precisely how one would describe the legendary 1917 production of Parade. On the face of it, Parade was a radical event, fully deserving its place in the history of avant-garde provocation. It was an international collaboration in a period of intense xenophobia: Cocteau provided the scenario; Picasso the sets, costumes, and curtain; Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes the dancers and choreographer LГ©onide Massine; and Erik Satie the music. It was fully engaged with its social and political moment, organized to benefit wounded soldiers (with sections reserved for them in the auditorium) and sponsored by the elite of Paris: the comtesses de Chabrillon, ChevignГ©, and Beaumont. It was a provocation of the first order, mixing together the newest approaches to dance, costuming, stage design, and music, capped off with the de rigueur cries of offended audience members. And it was beautiful and brilliant. But on closer inspection, Parade proves to be radical in an unexpected way. The insults hurled by offended spectators—mГ©tГЁques, boches, trahison, art munichois, and embusquГ©s—were targeted not at taste or decorum, but at the production’s lack of patriotism.23 Further, it’s not precisely clear who was doing the shouting. Conventional wisdom would suspect offended bourgeoisie, but it was the bourgeoisie who funded the event. Given the xenophobic, antivanguard vitriol circulating among right-wing newspapers, it would make more sense to blame racist nationalists spoiling for a fight. Whoever they were, they piped down when Guillaume Apollinaire, resplendent in his military uniform, medals, and the bandage that covered the severe head wound he had received at the front, stood and spoke. Except perhaps for Picasso, no one exemplified the frivolity and insidious cosmopolitanism of the prewar avant-gardes more than the Italian-born half-Pole formerly known as Wilhelm Albert WЕ‚odzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki. And no one better exemplified the avant-garde’s commitment to French nationalism. The program note he wrote elevates this personal commitment to the level of theory. Apollinaire writes that Parade is “just the first of many manifestations of the New Spirit [l’esprit nouveau] now abroad. We may expect it to bring about profound changes in our arts and manners through universal joyfulness.”24 As Silver notes, the idea of l’esprit nouveau would have been understood by the audience not as a signifier of radical historical rupture, not as a declaration of international solidarity, but as designating a “classicizing, controlling sensibilityВ .В .В . linked quite specifically to France.”25 In fact, “The phrase appeared in the historian Charles SarolГ©a’s book The Reawakening of FranceВ .В .В . more than a year before it showed up in the notes to Parade.”26 The entire production communicated this sensibility, though historians Page 290 →(and the boors in the audience) have generally failed to acknowledge the facts of the matter. They’ve focused on form—and only on some parts of the production’s form—rather than on the ideological scene in which the production occurred.

Spotlighting Picasso’s cubist costumes, historians have largely ignored his overture curtain, a blatantly illusionistic representation of Harlequins, a Pegasus mare and colt, and a charming winged angel climbing a ladder to retrieve a mischievous monkey playing in the flies. Not only did the image renounce the antimimetic imperatives of cubism, but its palette (patriotic reds, whites, and blues) and composition (referencing genre paintings by Vianelli and Watteau) imply that the cosmopolitan sensibility and analytic approach of cubism were distinctively, even quaintly French, rather than pan-European or African.27 And they’ve ignored the dancers. Massine’s choreography was no less an expression of l’esprit nouveau. As Patricia Gaborik and Andrea Harris have argued,28 its exuberant mixing of classical motifs with modernist gestures aligned neatly with the “new classicism” promulgated by Italian futurists like Enrico Prampolini, longtime collaborator with the Ballets Russes. And they’ve ignored the 1921 production, despite the fact that it occurred just a few years later and was the hit of the season. No doubt about it, Parade was a radical event, but not in the way we’ve conventionally understood it. It ratified the right-wing takeover of the French polity, nationalized the avant-garde, delegitimized ideological disagreement, and inaugurated a new market for avant-garde provocation.29 The failure to recognize the right-wing politics of Parade and the economic and class interests it served is due primarily to a failure to historicize: to recognize the heterogeneity of the Parisian population, the emergence of new class formations at the time, the opportunities available to and exploited by political parties and entrepreneurs, and the multiple ways that an art event can be “radical.” That failure is compounded by a failure to recognize the explicit and implicit kinds of theorizing that informed the work of Cocteau, Picasso, Satie, Massine, and Apollinaire. As James Harding has commented, scholars and critics have tended to treat the avantgarde as a collection of “unproblematized, descriptive narrative histories that display no sense of obligation to engage in a critical dialogue with the scholarly debates that have radically challenged not only our conceptions of theatre history, but our understanding of the avant-garde.”30 This problem is not solved, he continues, simply by incorporating critical theory into our work; we must also engage the theories that shaped the avant-garde and its reception over the course of its entire history. Theory is part of the history of the avant-garde, and theory and the work of avant-garde historiography are as inextricable as the knife and its cut.

Page 291 →Bohemianism and Criminological Theories of the Avant-Garde As usefully illustrative as the retour a l’ordre moment is in respect to the historical role of avant-garde theory and the failure of scholars to ascertain that role, it constrains the ideological analysis of theory within an arthistorical framework, limiting our understanding of both the avant-garde’s ideological functions and the broader relationship of avant-garde theory to the ideological dynamics of the societies in which it is articulated. Indeed, treating the avant-garde solely as an art-historical category is itself an ideological gesture that tends to affirm, reify, and obscure right-wing conceptions of aesthetics and politics, as Walter Benjamin, JГјrgen Habermas, and Andrew Hewitt have argued.31 In contrast, we might investigate moments when avant-garde theory was developed in response to broader cultural, political, and socioeconomic tendencies, shaping the institutional environment and discursive structures of the avant-garde. One exemplary moment of this sort came in response to the multicultural enclaves that emerged in European capitals in the early nineteenth century. Conventionally, historians trace bohemianism to 1820s Paris, where a coalescence of demographic, economic, and political forces produced an unprecedented urban multiculture. I’ve argued elsewhere that such enclaves were vital crucibles for the avant-garde’s transformation from the techno-racist Saint-Simonian conception of avant-garde art to a politics of culture.32 Further, I’ve argued that the “cultural turn” of the avant-garde was enabled by forms of dissident ethnic impersonation and identification in response to the presence of beleaguered immigrant communities such as the Roma. Here, I would add that our understanding of that cultural turn is incomplete without reference to urban insurrection and the response of authorities to it. In 1795, Noel “Gracchus” Babeuf led a small comitГ© insurrecteur of professional conspirators in an attempted coup d’état to restore the radically democratic principles of the French Constitution of 1793. Though the insurrection failed, the Conspiracy of Equals became a model for revolutionaries convinced that parliamentary-based reform was a losing bet.

While it makes sense to highlight the organizational nature of urban insurrection, its “curious hybrid of secret society and political party,”33 we should also consider what it revealed about social and cultural power in postfeudal society and the political potential of what Gerald Raunig calls “transversal activism.”34 While Babeuf and his coconspirators never questioned the idea that a revolution must be led by a disciplined central committee, they recognized that the Revolution was ultimately a social revolution, a new way of living, expressing, and gathering. The Conspiracy of Equals developed innovativePage 292 → methods of communication to exploit this emergent sociality: mass petitions, political journals, and propagandistic pub songs, to name a few. And it agitated and organized the new social configurations of the post-Revolution moment—saber-rattling military volunteers in from the provinces, sex workers, political clubs and reading circles, professional propagandists, bakers, and the like. In sum, the Conspiracy’s most enduring contribution was its politicization of the urban multiculture. This is why the word “bohemian” was understood by French authorities to describe not just dГ©classГ© rabble-rousers and radical artists, but also the Roma and other immigrant ethnic groups, drug addicts, the chronically ill, dГ©classГ© youth, peripatetic entertainers—saltimbanques, bear wrestlers, jugglers, and so on—and other “theatrical” types such as the legend weaver, con artist, pub dancer, and pickpocket.35 In the 1864 words of Paul Boudet, French minister of the interior, the bohemiГЁn was “vagabond,” “dangerous foreigner,” and, as street performer, “the natural auxiliaries of the Socialist establishment.”36 Boudet’s comments are a symptom of an emerging disciplinary formation that wasn’t systematized until the publication of Cesare Lombroso’s criminological writings of the 1870s. Lombroso argued that crime and criminality are neither the consequence of social and economic factors nor an essential aspect of human nature, but an inherited defect, most commonly found among “inferior” races like the Roma, who displayed specifiable, identifiable physiological defects that could be causally linked to criminality. Lombroso and his disciples established anthropological criminology and developed methods still in use today. While tracking the unruly, the dissident, and the desperate by the shape of their skulls or faces may be out of fashion, harassing those who wear certain kinds of clothing, flash particular gestures, or engage in specific leisure pursuits is standard practice. The disciplinary consolidation of criminology around theories of race alerts us to the tactics and strategies developed by subalterns to hybridize art, everyday life, and political dissidence. And it alerts us to how authorities ascertain and discipline those tactics and strategies in a way that essentializes the avant-garde, robbing cultural dissidence of its historical, geopolitical, and social dimensions. Which leads us to the first publication to comprehensively survey and theorize the European artistic avant-gardes, the first to proffer a cultural-studies based theory of the avant-garde, a book written by a man who despised vanguard art and considered himself a disciple of Lombroso. Max Nordau’s Degeneration is dedicated to the Italian criminologist “in open and joyful recognition of the fact that without [his] labors it could never have been written.”37 Extending Lombroso’s assertion that social dissidence is a form of biological degeneration, Nordau writes: Page 293 →Degenerates are not always criminals, prostitutes, anarchists, and pronounced lunatics; they are often authors and artists. These, however, manifest the same mental characteristics, and for the most part the same somatic features, as the members of theВ .В .В . anthropological family who satisfy their unhealthy impulses with the knife of the assassin or the bomb of the dynamiter, instead of with pen and pencil.38 Nordau’s book remains an invaluable cache of fin de siГЁcle research, if you can cut through its right-wing impasto. One finds in it discussion of Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolists, Tolstoy aficionados, the Richard Wagner cult, the Parnassians and diabolists, decadents and aesthetes, Ibsen devotees and wannabes, avid readers of Friedrich Nietzsche, and Zola and the acidic naturalists who followed in his wake, to name just a few. Pored over by anxious bourgeois parents, ambitious bureaucrats, and police inspectors alike, Degeneration cemented the connections among dissident cultural producers, radical expression, and racialized minorities and provided “scientific” justification for the harassment of cultural activists and the medicalization of political dissidents. But the significance of this book extends beyond fin de siГЁcle criminology. A careful inspection of

Nordau’s methods reveals a striking resemblance to the cultural-studies approaches to the avant-garde developed over the last two decades, particularly those informed by performance studies. George L. Mosse explains that Nordau only partly accepted the dominant criminological argument that degeneracy was caused either by racial inheritance or by environmental toxins.39 Unlike Lombroso, Nordau was no racist; he took culture seriously, arguing that the invidious environmental effects of the modern city were exacerbated by self-proclaimed “avant-garde” art and literature, slacker youth culture, and radical chic. Degeneration, as Mosse summarizes it, is “caused byВ .В .В . a mixture of clinical, social, and moral factorsВ .В .В . a certain lifestyle rather thanВ .В .В . a bodily disease—a lifestyle which, by the 1890s, had become all too visible.”40 Thus, for Nordau, degeneration and its amelioration are best assayed through what might be called “cultural epidemiology.” Rejecting aestheticism, Nordau argued instead that the artwork should be understood as a lens through which sociological, geographical, and political contexts might be assayed and the generative conditions of art brought into sharper focus. And though he doesn’t use terms like “transnationalist” or “intercultural,” he believed that any effort to comprehend the avant-garde’s threat to authority can succeed only if we are aware of emergent conditions of cultural production enabled by industrial colonialism and the global networks it produces and on which it depends. Finally, Nordau argued that the Page 294 →avant-garde’s most profound threat to social order concerned the body on display. He was a keen-eyed observer of public performance, attending openings and insinuating himself into fashionable salons and dГ©classГ© watering holes alike. His book is replete with fashion, gesture, interior design, and other ways that cultural dissidents of his time “[strove] visibly by some singularity in outline, set, cut, or color to startle attention violently and imperiously to detain it.”41 The resemblance to contemporary avant-garde studies is remarkable. Though we may have rejected Nordau’s politics, we are all criminologists of the avant-garde. Of course, methodological similarities do not necessarily parallel—or determine—political beliefs. However, in the case of Nordau and avant-garde studies, those methods do have ideological implications. As I’ve argued in detail elsewhere, by failing to reflect on the imbrication of criticism with the subjectivity of the critic, the institutions in which criticism occurs, and the contingent relationship of aesthetics and sociopolitics, avantgarde theory essentializes aesthetics and thereby duplicates the racist methods of Nordau.42 But beyond the question of method, there is the larger question of how theories of the avant-garde that address the relationship between cultural dissidence and political movements have been used by the Right. In Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance, Jon McKenzie raises questions about the methodological, institutional, and ideological links between performance studies and disciplines such as organizational theory, computer engineering, marketing and product development, and missile design.43 He argues that when we read aesthetic and cultural theories of performance against a broader historical and disciplinary background, we arrive at not only a more nuanced theory of performance, but also a sense of how performance theory has itself performed—how it has provided disciplinary frameworks for a range of ideological causes and powerknowledge matrices. Similar questions should be raised about avant-garde theory. Indeed, if there’s a lesson to be taken from “cultural epidemiological” theories of the avant-garde like Nordau’s, it is not that theories of the avantgarde are somehow essentially vulnerable to co-optation and incorporation (though they certainly are), but that scholars have generally failed to acknowledge that that is indeed the case. Theories of the avant-garde, regardless of the ideological intentions of their creators, have always been part of a larger discursive environment that extends far beyond the classrooms, journals, and conferences of academic humanities and social sciences. Unfortunately, scholars tend to reify the theories of the avant-garde into a theory (singular) of the (not an) avantgarde, forgetting the messy realities of ideological combat and the historical and institutional contingencies of theory. Page 295 →

Contemporary Theory: The Hazards of Political Formalism

This kind of forgetting is no more apparent than in contemporary avant-garde studies. The field has witnessed a remarkable resurgence over the last two decades, particularly in drama, theater, and performance studies. In addition to dozens of journal essays and conference plenaries, one counts almost twenty book-length studies, counting only those with the term “avant-garde” in their title. If we include books that treat the broader concept of minority-based radical cultural production, the number trebles, at least. This is a pleasing, but not altogether surprising development, as it reflects a more general interest in forms of political alliance and cultural production that are not linked to class and nation and an equally broad desire to revise the history of the avantgarde to give more attention to artists, movements, communities, and creative forms that have been misunderstood and ignored by older histories and theories. Scholars in performance studies have recently attempted to historicize and critique the field’s institutional, disciplinary, and political entanglements—I think here of McKenzie’s Perform or Else, Shannon Jackson’s Professing Performance, and James Harding and Cindy Rosenthal’s The Rise of Performance Studies.44 In this same spirit, I would call for avant-garde studies to focus more attention to how it does what it does, where it does what it does, and for whom it does it. As I demonstrated in my discussion of the French union sacrГ©e and the rise of cultural epidemiology, such reflection can help us fill in gaps in the historical record, recognize broader dynamics of knowledge and power surrounding aesthetic radicalism, and comprehend theory’s role in avant-garde history. In the absence of such reflection, contemporary avant-garde studies is at risk of becoming a shadow of neoliberal ideology, reducing politics to an epiphenomenon of aesthetic form, obscuring the disciplinary structures and historiographical assumptions that enable that expression, and rendering the institutions of cultural production beyond criticism. This is evident in a recent trend in a discipline with substantial historical and institutional overlap with avantgarde studies—Modernist Studies. What Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz call the New Modernist Studies (NMS) was inaugurated with the founding of the Modernist Studies Association in 1999. The MSA website tells the story as one of recovery and recuperation: In the late 1990s, Modernist Studies had to contend with the building and sometimes scathing reappraisals of what was still called “High Modernism.” As the profession absorbed the lessons of post-structuralistPage 296 → theory, Modernist writers and especially poets came increasingly to stand for various cultural and moral failures. At that time, “Modernism,” especially as represented in the popular press, seemed little more than the straw man for all that the promoters of “Postmodernism” disliked.45 Further, the gap between subject matter and method was becoming increasingly problematic: “At the same time, while the tenor of Modernist scholarship had changed dramatically, its structures had changed hardly at allВ .В .В . and there was little opportunity to respond to the impulses of what we might loosely call cultural studies.”46 In response, the association “worked both to expand the Modernist canon and to investigate the criteria invoked whenever things are called вЂModernist’”; further, it “continued to break down reified categories and disciplinary silos in the academy.”47 The specifics of this expansionist, historicist, interdisciplinary critique are detailed in Mao and Walkowitz’s 2008 PMLA essay, “The New Modernist Studies.” They write, “Were one seeking a simple word to sum up transformations in modernist literary scholarship over the past decade or two, one could do worse than light on expansion.”48 Like avant-garde studies, modernist studies has broadened in “temporal, spatial, and vertical directions.”49 First, “Rigid temporal delimitations” are being interrogated.50 Second, the “politics, historical validity, and aesthetic value of exclusive focus on the literatures of Europe and North America” have been called into question, spurring interest in other areas of the world and “hitherto littlerecognized enclaves in the privileged areas.”51 And third, the lines between “high art and popular forms of culture have been reconsideredВ .В .В . canons have been critiqued and reconfiguredВ .В .В . works by members of marginalized social groups have been encountered with fresh eyes and earsВ .В .В . andВ .В .В . scholarly inquiry has increasingly extended to matters of production, dissemination, and reception.”52 These are welcome developments—and in tune with recent work on the avant-garde.

However, it is precisely when we get to the question of politics—those “embarrassing cultural and moral failures” of right-wing modernists—that the NMS paradigm, at least as presented by some of its most wellknown advocates, proves ideologically rightward. In “The New Modernist Studies: What’s Left of Political Formalism?” Max Brzezinski investigates the conjunction between interest in “the way institutional and empirical contexts have shaped modernist works” and “how and why the work of the NMS has emerged out of our contemporary economic, political, and institutional academic situation.”53 Concerned with the “theoretical distortion and political Page 297 →flattening” that he sees happening in the NMS (again, as represented in Mao and Walkowitz’s essay), he argues that we must “historicize the form and content of the NMS.”54 To do this, he focuses on Martin Puchner’s Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes,55 a text germane to my own concerns not only because it is about the avantgarde, but is also “the most politically explicit, ambitious book to come out of the loosely affiliated clique of critics writing under the banner of the NMS.”56 And though he has criticized the idea that his book is as central to the NMS as Brzezinski claims, Puchner’s own website deems it “the founding document” of the tendency.57 Brzezinski spotlights the NMS’s effort to position modernist literature as an “active, affirmative agent in the real world” by characterizing it as “an intellectual speech act.”58 This idea is the foundation of Puchner’s theory of the avant-garde. Puchner argues that avant-gardes articulate their revolutionary vision through a performative presentation of social demands—emblematically, as manifestos—and it is by way of the circulation of these demands as material objects and motile formal devices that the politics of the avant-garde are enabled. It is for this reason that Puchner emphasizes the form of the manifesto, working against the longstanding tendency to consider the politics of manifestos as a matter of content. This is not an apolitical formalism, however, as Puchner openly declares his allegiance to the Left, both in the priority he gives to The Communist Manifesto, but also in his repeated injunction of Marx’s maxim, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Nevertheless, Poetry of the Revolution and, more generally, the NMS as represented in Mao and Walkowitz’s survey are deeply conservative theories of cultural dissidence. Let me be clear about my intentions. I am not criticizing anyone’s personal beliefs, of which I have no knowledge. I take at face value his book’s explicit and repeated support for political progressivism and international coalition. And though Puchner does not deny the accusation that he is a neoliberal,59 I concur that personal beliefs are not the same thing as books. Further, any effort to link literary theories “to the economic and political base of the corporate university” must be done with care; “a few key words of Marxist economic analysis” won’t do.60 Finally, I strongly affirm Puchner’s desire to focus on the specifically aesthetic dimensions of avant-garde works and the specific strengths of literary study, though obviously our purposes differ. What I am interested in is the politics of his theory, a politics we can situate in the medium he prioritizes (the printed, “literary” text), his methodology (genre study informed by close reading and literary history), his key terms (performativity and theatricality), and how he describes and situates himself as a theorist within a specific sociopolitical scene. If, as Puchner Page 298 →states, we are seeking “not an economic analysis of literature but a literary analysis of economics,” a description of “the poetry of capitalism,”61 then we must treat his work with due respect to its stated agenda and disciplinary scope. And it is precisely in these terms that his work proves to be ideologically tendentious, “a bad and amateurish use of the tools of other disciplines,” as he puts it.62 Let’s start with the key terms. Puchner writes, “Central to the methodology pursued here is the terminological pair of performativity and theatricality. Political manifestos are texts singularly invested in doing things with words, in changing the world. They are ideal instances of performative speech in the sense used by J. L. Austin.”63 However, because “performative intervention” is essentially “powerless,” those who write manifestos “frequently overcompensateВ .В .В . with theatrical exaggerations, and their confidence is often feigned rather than grounded in real authority.”64 His tempered approach to the manifesto’s political effects reminds us not to take manifestoes at their word but understand them as texts that act in the world in specific, limited ways. However, the humility of the claim is quickly outstripped by the theory, a theory not just of avant-garde manifestos, but of the avant-garde itself. Indeed, Puchner promulgates not just a theory of avant-

garde politics in general (in other words, a theory of the avant-garde rather than of an avant-garde), but of history itself. While he claims to be doing work solely within the domain of literary study, his “poetics” proves to be far more ambitious. The problem begins with how Puchner bounds off the “literary” from the historical and the economic, which requires a strict division between performativity and performance and between theatricality and theater. This makes a certain amount of sense: performativity and theatricality are theoretical concepts, representational strategies; performance and theater designate events that occur beyond the text. However, one cannot sustain a strict division between these domains. Bracketing “the particular complaints and demands” of revolutionary movements in the name of a theory of avant-garde performativity fundamentally distorts Austin’s theory of performative utterances. As Jacques Derrida argues in “Signature Event Context” (a text absent from Poetry of the Revolution): “Austin’s analyses permanently demand a value of context, and even of an exhaustively determinable context, whether de jure or teleologically,” because Austin’s concept of theatricality as a form of “infelicity” “always returns to an element of what Austin calls the total context.”65 Judith Butler argues a similar line in Gender Trouble, affirming the idea that a “typology of actions [will] not suffice for the project of understanding the politics of performativity.”66 While we can describe in theory the subversive power of parody and parodic laughter, both depend “on a contextPage 299 → and reception in which subversive confusions can be fostered.”67 Thus, if we are truly interested in political performativity, then a theory of performativity must give way—or at least give substantial consideration—to a history of performance. But my purposes here are not to critique the theory as such, but rather to consider that theory within its “exhaustively determinable context.” As I’ve argued here and elsewhere, it is vital that theorists of the avant-garde thematize the historical, institutional, and disciplinary contingencies of theory itself, situating, in Boccionian fashion, the labor of theory in scenes, actions, and relationships that reveal, rather than obscure, the dynamics of power and desire in which it performs. In the case of Puchner’s theory of the avant-garde, the issue concerns (1) how the theoretical problematic of form is described and reified in order to enable critical analysis and (2) how disciplinary boundaries are justified and enacted in the moment of critical analysis. These two moments are fundamental to any aesthetic theory—defining the art object and the method appropriate to understanding it—but are particularly important to our understanding of the avant-garde, given the proximity of the avant-garde object to politics, economics, and history. But recalling Puchner’s criticism of Brzezinski, how can we describe the contingency and embeddedness of his theory without falling prey to simplistic, analytically vacuous invocations of the base-superstructure relationship or, more vulgarly, to negative characterizations of political positions with which one does not agree? What would be the equivalent of Genio e Cultura for Puchner’s effort to describe the poetics of revolution and, in so doing, secure a specifically literary domain of avant-garde theory? Fortunately, he provides exactly what we need in the essay he contributed to the recent special issue of New Literary History on the question, “What is an avant-garde?” Puchner’s stated goal with “It’s Not Over (’Til It’s Over)” is to establish a new historiographical paradigm for the avant-garde, one adequate to the innovative forms of vanguard activity and concurrent theoretical problems that have emerged over the last several decades.68 In his introduction, Puchner marvels at the fact that avant-gardes continue to form and fight despite the fact that scholars have long declared the avant-garde dead.69 He concludes, reiterating a position common among scholars of the avant-garde, “The problem is not with the current avant-gardes; the problem is with the historiography that had declared them to be impossible.” Thus, what is needed is a “different type of historyВ .В .В . a history not based on progress and points of no return, but one open to the possibility of repeated avant-gardes, in short, a history of repetition.”70 In contrast to the antitheatrical prejudice of Poetry of the Revolution, “It’s Page 300 →Not Over (’Til It’s Over)” situates the work of theory in specific, richly described places and performances and treats the author himself as a character in those scenes. The reader meets him at the Manifesto Marathon held at

London’s Serpentine Gallery, October 18–19, 2008; at a combination academic lecture and performance held in November 2008, at 537 Broadway, New York City; and wandering around Spiegelgasse 1, Zurich, former site of the Cabaret Voltaire. But what is particularly striking about how he describes these sites is that he spends as much time talking about market value—engaging in the kind of “bad and amateurish” interdisciplinary work he derides in his response to Brzezinski—as he does the historiographical problems of contemporary vanguardism. He opens his discussion of 537 Broadway and “the constructive relation between the history of the avant-garde and its future” by noting that George Maciunas bought the site when “space was very cheap” and he could sometimes count on the financial support of the National Endowment for the Arts.71 This leads to a description of the building’s provenance; we learn it was passed by Maciunas to performance artist Jean Dupuy, who then rented it to art consultant Emily Harvey, who, with her husband Christian Xatrec, turned it into the Grommet Gallery, eventually purchasing the space and renaming it the Emily Harvey Gallery. Oddly, Puchner does not mention that it subsequently became a private nonprofit foundation, its status secured by federal and state law. A similarly selective—“bad and amateurish”—history is evident in his description of London’s Serpentine Gallery. While he mentions that it “is located near Speaker’s Corner”—thus, invoking Marx, who often spoke there, and the Sunday Trading Bill riots of 1855—and that it was held in a pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, he mentions neither the gallery’s patronage by the royal family nor the British Arts Council’s role in its formation and maintenance. This curiously selective history of the real-estate and art markets continues through the rest of the essay. Thrilled by the collaboration of academics and artists at the Manhattan event, Puchner nevertheless rues that “Soho is not what is used to be, what with skyrocketing real estate prices and gentrification.”72 Of course, “Fluxus can be said to have contributed to the gentrification of Soho, and the changing use of the space does reflect a certain commercialization.”73 Fortunately, while Maciunas—like the Harvey foundation itself— had the capital to start fluxhouses and sometimes received government funding to support his activities, .В .В .В [t]he space and its owners have variously tried both to preserve and to continue the Fluxus history, without being stifled by this double imperative. The gallery is Page 301 →devoted to preserving the Fluxus legacy, but it also leaves programming in several hands without exerting control. My own presence, as a historian of manifestos, is perhaps the best proof of this incorporation of history into art making.74 Spiegelgasse 1 similarly reflects “a certain commercialization” and another kind of negotiation of the “double imperative” of relying on state support without dampening commercial—and scholarly—entrepreneurship. “Here, no one had invited me,” Puchner writes. “I went there, let us say, as an avant-garde tourist.”75 Again, Puchner approaches theoretical and historiographical questions by way of an appraisal of the real-estate and cultural heritage markets, informing us that the site was saved by a “group of artists, intent on both preserving this historical avant-garde space and using it for their own productions.”76 Those actions attracted Swatch, “the large Swiss watch manufacturer, which offered funds, provided that the city of Zurich supported the project as well. This happened, and the building was turned once again into a bar and performance space.”77 We see in these moments the theorist seizing upon a contingency of economy—and a moment of attempted interdisciplinary insight—and trying to transform it into a kind of emblem of avant-garde history. He writes: “The new Cabaret Voltaire manages the balancing act between history and present with considerable sophistication.” On one hand, it is a “veritable excavation project” managed by historian Adrian Notz; on the other, it is a performance space curated by Philipp Meier, “although without exerting much control in order to preserve the free-wheeling spirit of Dada,” which includes hosting “private events for a fee.”78 It is at this point in the essay that the motives behind this real-estate history are revealed and, ironically, those motives are patently economic. Puchner writes: “Avant-garde purists have frowned upon the combination of art and commerce at work in the new Cabaret Voltaire, protesting as much against the involvement of the city government as against corporate sponsoring.”79 But he rejects this argument and, in so doing, cements the

connection between his theory of the avant-garde and right-wing ideology. He asks, “Wasn’t this precisely what Dada was against? Not really. From the beginning, Dada maintained a playful attitude towards commerce. After all, the whole reason why the group had been invited to provide entertainment at Spielgasse 1 was to increase sales.”80 Not really. It was the owner of the space, not the dissidents who gathered there, who was concerned about sales. I don’t know of a single Zurich dadaist who wasn’t aware of and disgusted by the capitalist machinations that led to Page 302 →and profited from the war. Further, one would ask for clarification of how, say, the Berlin Dada tendency’s alliance with the far-left communist Spartacist League can be considered a “playful attitude towards commerce.” But the point here is not about historical accuracy, but the sudden prominence of economic theory—despite Puchner’s disdain for “bad and amateurish” interdisciplinary work—as the organizing principle of the historical narrative he is constructing. But that has been the idea all along. Those remarkable meetings of scholars, writers, activists, journalists, and publicists reveal an essential truth about the avant-garde. In light of those impressive collaborations of marketers, art makers, and critics, the history of the avant-garde is revealed as the history of the market. Puchner writes: “The purism associated with the original Cabaret Voltaire is a product of progressive history, of stories of decline, of a nostalgia for a time when true avant-gardes [i.e., anticapitalist avant-gardes] were still possible.”81 The collaboration of cool capital and the avant-garde marks the purification of an enduring entrepreneurial spirit betrayed by left-wing scholars and marginalized in the scholarly record, a spirit whose true avatars are Swatch and forward-looking finance ministers, who faithfully carry on the original Dada spirit by, respectively, marketing a line of watches embedded with small bits of authentic Dada documents and placing an image of Sophie Taeuber on the fifty-franc note. Thus, it makes perfect sense that this avant-garde travelogue would end with a few lines of “bad and amateurish” financial advice, lines that serve both as the last word on the historiographical problems associated with contemporary avant-gardes and the segue into the essay’s appendix, a self-styled avant-garde manifesto titled “Five Theses on the History of the Manifesto.” Puchner writes: “As the Dadaists recommended back in the teens, a piece of advice that has never been as sound as it is today: вЂInvest your money in Dada.’”82 The joke is in deplorable taste. There’s not much humor to be found in the tale of a self-proclaimed “avant-garde tourist” collecting honoraria while jetting from New York to London to Zurich and back to Cambridge, browsing watch catalogs and contemplating fifty-franc notes in the midst of a global financial crisis that has plunged hundreds of thousands into poverty and worsened the already desperate conditions of millions more. But taste isn’t the issue; rather, it is the Boccionian scene in which Puchner sets himself and the theory of the avant-garde he describes. So, we turn back to Poetry of the Revolution and the desire to define the avant-garde text and the avant-garde itself in purely formal terms. It is no accident, as Brzezinski argues, that Puchner’s theory “leaves undefined the politicalPage 303 → and the aesthetic, two theoretical terms it explicitly discusses,” while “the economic is cut out almost completely,” especially as concerns “theorizing the mediating role of the economic between the political and the aesthetic.”83 Situated in their scene, the desire for formal specificity and disciplinary competence is necessarily a political and economic gesture. By bracketing theory from context and event, forwarding a selective history of the relationship between radical creativity and entrepreneurialism, conflating a theory of an avant-garde with a theory of the avant-garde, and affirming theoretical agency without thematizing the personal, national, and international economic structures that support that agency, Puchner’s theory of the avant-garde exposes its most fundamental ideological affiliations. The avant-garde he theorizes is nothing less than the invisible hand of classic political economy. In Puchner’s reading, the avant-garde is, and always has been even when it proclaims otherwise, the secret agent of free-market capitalism, the vanguard of neoliberalism.

Conclusion: Toward Critical Vanguard Studies

In this essay, I’ve attempted to place several avant-garde theories in their respective social, discursive, and historical scenes and, by doing so, unveil a set of questions surrounding avant-garde theory and its relationship to the Right. Though, due to limits of space, I have not set my own critique in such a scene,84 I hope I have made clear that, if we wish to develop an authentically self-conscious theory of the avant-garde and the politics of form—what I would call “Critical Vanguard Studies”—then we must theorize and historicize the ways in which those politics manifest or, alternately, are allowed to remain unrecognized and unnamed. Just as importantly, we must attend rigorously and thoroughly to the settings in which our theories are produced and work to construct a way of writing about the avant-garde that allows that scene to remain in view. A theory of the avantgarde that fails to thematize its institutional and economic entanglements, that does not interrogate the political conditions that enable it to produce the illusion of ideological neutrality and scientific objectivity, that does not account for its availability to and covert support of forms of power that it claims to criticize, and that does not clarify its disciplinary biases is, in fact, not a theory of the avant-garde at all. It is little more than propaganda, a hypocritical, politically sanitized, and patronizing affirmation of the power of artistic expression. Ultimately, such a “theory” is little more than an apology for our contemporary hegemons. The avant-garde imagined by such a Page 304 →theory, to recall Boccioni one last time, is a corpse carved to fit the span of our desires, evidence of the crimes in which we’re implicated.

Notes 1.Umberto Boccioni, Genio e Cultura,, accessed July 19, 2012. 2.Portions of this essay appear in different form and context in The Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War (New York: Seagull Books, 2011). My thanks to Seagull Books for permission to repurpose that material. 3.Kenneth E. Silver, Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914–1925 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 25. 4.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 25. 5.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 25. 6.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 25. 7.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 26. 8.David Thomson, Democracy in France since 1870 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 1512. 9.Quoted in Silver, Esprit de Corps, 22–23. 10.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 23. 11.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 23. 12.Quoted in Silver, Esprit de Corps, 5–6. 13.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 31. 14.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 58. 15.Quoted in Silver, Esprit de Corps, 31–32. 16.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 89. 17.Donald Drew Egbert, Social Radicalism and the Arts: Western Europe (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), 120. 18.Quoted in Michael A. Osborne, review of Martin S. Staum, Labeling People: French Scholars on Society, Race, and Empire, 1815–1848 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003), in HFrance Review 4.59 (May 2004): 214–216. January 20, 2007, /osborne.htm. 19.Osborne, H-France Review, 214–216. 20.Quoted in Silver, Esprit de Corps, 108. 21.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 46. 22.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 46. 23.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 116. 24.Quoted in Ruth Brandon, Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917–1945 (New York: Grove Press, 2000), 9–10. 25.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 123. 26.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 123. 27.Silver, Esprit de Corps, 120.

28.Patricia Gaborik and Andrea Harris, “From Italy and Russia to France and the U.S.: вЂFascist’ Futurism and Balanchine’s вЂAmerican’ Ballet,” in Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical, ed. Mike Sell (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2011), 23–40. 29.For further discussion of Parade, including the curtain, see Deborah Menaker Page 305 →Rothschild, Picasso’s Parade: From Street to Stage (London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1991). See also Kimberly Jannarone’s “Exquisite Theater,” in The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game, ed. Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Davis Schneiderman, and Tom Denlinger (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009), 221–242. 30.James Harding, review of American Avant-Garde Theatre: A History, by Arnold Aronson, Theatre Journal 55.1 (March 2003): 192. 31.See Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1968); JГјrgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991); and Andrew Hewitt, Fascist Modernism: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Avant-Garde (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1996). 32.See Sell, The Avant-Garde, and “Bohemianism, the вЂCultural Turn’ of the Avant-Garde, and Forgetting the Roma,” TDR 51.2 (T194) (Summer 2007): 41–59. 33.David Thomson, The Babeuf Plot: The Making of a Republican Legend (London: Kegan Paul, 1947), 23. 34.Gerald Raunig, Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century (Los Angeles: Semiotext[e], 2007). 35.See Sell, The Avant-Garde. 36.Quoted in Marilyn R. Brown, Gypsies and Other Bohemians: The Myth of the Artist in NineteenthCentury France (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1985), 24. 37.Max Nordau, Degeneration (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968), vii. 38.Nordau, Degeneration, vii. 39.George L. Mosse, introduction to Nordau, Degeneration, xxi. 40.Mosse, “Max Nordau, Liberalism, and the New Jew,” Journal of Contemporary History 27.4 (October 1992): 566. 41.Nordau, Degeneration, 9–10. 42.See Sell, The Avant-Garde. 43.Jon McKenzie, Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance (New York: Routledge, 2001), 25. 44.Shannon Jackson, Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); James Harding and Cindy Rosenthal, eds., The Rise of Performance Studies: Rethinking Richard Schechner’s Broad Spectrum (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2011). 45.Modernist Studies Association, “About the Modernist Studies Association,” Accessed July 22, 2012. 46.Modernist Studies Association, “About the Modernist Studies Association.” 47.Modernist Studies Association, “About the Modernist Studies Association.” 48.Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” PMLA 123.3 (2008): 737. 49.Mao and Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” 737. 50.Mao and Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” 737. 51.Mao and Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” 737. 52.Mao and Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” 738. 53.Max Brzezinski, “The New Modernist Studies: What’s Left of Political Formalism?” Minnesota Review 76 (2011): 109. 54.Brzezinski, “The New Modernist Studies.” Page 306 → 55.Martin Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). 56.Brzezinski, “The New Modernist Studies,” 112. 57.Martin Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies: A Response,” Minnesota Review 79 (2012): 91–96; Puchner, “Research: Modernism,”

/modernism.html, accessed July 22, 2012. 58.Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies,” 110. 59.Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies,” 91. 60.Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies,” 93. 61.Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies,” 96. 62.Puchner, “The New Modernist Studies,” 96. 63.Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution, 5. 64.Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution, 5. 65.Jacques Derrida, “Signature Event Context,” in Limited, Inc. (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1977), 99. 66.Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Gender Identity (New York: Routledge, 1999), 134. 67.Butler, Gender Trouble. 68.Martin Puchner, “It’s Not Over (’Til It’s Over),” New Literary History 41.4 (Autumn 2010): 915–928. 69.For discussion of the “Eulogist School” and the historiographical dilemmas presented by contemporary avant-gardes, see Sell, Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005). For discussion of recent non-European vanguards whose strategies resist conventional avant-garde theory, see James Harding and John Rouse, eds., Not the Other AvantGarde: The Transnational Foundations of Avant-Garde Performance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005). 70.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 916–917. 71.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 922–923. 72.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 923. 73.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 923. 74.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 923–924. 75.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 924. 76.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 924. 77.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 924. 78.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 925. 79.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 925. 80.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 925. 81.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 925. 82.Puchner, “It’s Not Over,” 926. 83.Brzezinski, “The New Modernist Studies,” 118. 84.I have attempted this kind of self-reflexive approach in other publications. See Sell, The Avant-Garde, and Avant-Garde Performance.

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Contributors Monica Achen holds a DFA and MFA in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama, where she wrote a dissertation on primitivism and politics in German expressionist drama. She has published in Theater and has served as a Teaching Fellow at the Yale School of Drama and Yale College. Monica has worked as a dramaturg at the Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theater. Erik Butler is the author of Metamorphoses of the Vampire in Literature and Film: Cultural Transformations in Europe, 1732–1933 (Camden House, 2010); The Bellum Grammaticale and the Rise of European Literature (Ashgate, 2010); and The Rise of the Vampire (Reaktion, 2013). He has translated a collection of stories by Soviet Jewish author Der Nister, Regrowth: Seven Tales of Jewish Life Before, During, and After Nazi Occupation (Northwestern, 2011). His translation of Giambattista Marino’s The Massacre of the Innocents appeared with Wakefield Press in 2014. His articles have appeared in New German Critique, the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, Pacific Coast Philology, German Quarterly, and Glossator. Butler holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University. He has recently given talks at Columbia University, Stanford University, the University of California, and the Goethe Institut. Alan Filewod is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. His books include Collective Encounters: Documentary Theatre in English Canada (1987); Performing “Canada”: The Nation Enacted in the Imagined Theatre (2002); Committing Theatre: Theatre Radicalism and Political Intervention in Canada (2011); and, with David Watt, Workers’ Playtime: Theatre and the Labour Movement since 1970 (2001). He is a past president of the Page 308 →Association for Canadian Theatre Research and the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures, and he is a former editor of Canadian Theatre Review. Patricia Gaborik is an independent scholar based in Rome, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in modern Italian studies at the American Academy in 2005–2006. She is the editor and translator of Watching the Moon and Other Plays by Massimo Bontempelli (Italica, 2013). She has written several essays on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italian theater, which have appeared in the Atlante della letteratura italiana (Einaudi, 2012), The History of Futurism: The Precursors, Protagonists, Legacies (Lexington, 2012); Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical (Palgrave, 2011); Il futurismo nelle avanguardie (Ponte Sisto, 2010); National Theatres in a Changing Europe (Palgrave, 2008); and such journals as Modern Drama and Metamorphoses. A past visiting scholar at Stanford and guest lecturer at Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin, William Patterson University, Cambridge University, NYU Abu-Dhabi, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Berkeley, Gaborik holds PhDs in theater history, criticism, and research methodologies from the University of Wisconsin and the “Sapienza” University of Rome. She has taught at the Universities of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Rome. She is now completing a monograph on theater in Mussolini’s Italy. James Harding has recently joined the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland.В He is the author of The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s) (Michigan, 2013), Cutting Performances: Collage Events, Feminist Artists and the American Avant-Garde (Michigan, 2010), and Adorno and a Writing of the Ruins (SUNY, 1997). His other books include The Rise of Performance Studies: Rethinking Richard Schechner’s Broad Spectrum (Palgrave, 2011), which he coedited with Cindy Rosenthal. He is currently finishing a new book on surveillance and performance that has the working titleВ Performance, Transparency, and the Cultures of Surveillance. Kimberly Jannarone is Professor of Theater Arts and Digital Arts and New Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Jannarone is the author of Artaud and His Doubles (University of Michigan Press, 2010), winner of the Honorable Mention for the Joe Callaway Prize. She has published essays and reviews on experimental performance in Theater Survey, Theater Journal, French Forum, Modernism/Modernity, TDR, Akshar Wangmay, and Theatre Page 309 →Arts (Shanghai). She received the 2006 Gerald Kahan Scholar’s

Prize and honorable mention for the 2009 Oscar Brockett Essay Prize, both awarded by the American Society for Theatre Research. Directing includes works by Beckett, Churchill, Fornes, Shakespeare, Stein, and an interdisciplinary Peer Gynt (2013). She holds an MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama. She has given invited lectures at SITE Santa Fe, Theater for a New Audience (NYC), Reed College, UC Berkeley, and the Yale School of Drama. She is a Beinecke Fellow at the Yale Repertory Theater and a Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Drama in 2015–2016. She was recently a Camargo Fellow in Cassis, France, working on her next book, Mass Performance and the Invention of Traditions. Odai Johnson is Professor in theater history and head of the PhD program at the University of Washington, Seattle. He took his MFA from the University of Utah and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. His articles have appeared in Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, New England Theatre Journal, Modern Language Quarterly, and the Virginia Magazine of History as well as contributions to numerous anthologies. His books include Rehearsing the Revolution (University of Delaware Press, 1999), The Colonial American Stage: A Documentary Calendar (Associated University Presses, 2001), and Absence and Memory on the Colonial American Stage (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005). He is currently finishing a work on classical theater, titled Ruins. Professor Johnson is the director of the UW’s Center for Performance Studies and a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow. Ann Pellegrini is Associate Professor of Performance Studies and Religious Studies at New York University. Prior to joining the faculty at NYU, she held teaching appointments at UC Irvine, Barnard College, and Harvard University. She is the author of Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (Routledge, 1997); coauthor, with Janet R. Jakobsen, of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance (NYU Press, 2003; Beacon Press, 2004); coeditor, with Daniel Boyarin and Daniel Itzkovitz, of Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (Columbia University Press, 2003); and coeditor, with Jakobsen, of Secularisms (Duke University Press, 2008). She coedits the book series Sexual Cultures for New York University Press. In 2007, she was the Freud-Fulbright Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung in Vienna. She received her PhD in Cultural Studies from Harvard University in 1994. She holds degrees in classics from Harvard-Radcliffe College and Oxford University as well as an MA in the study of religion from Harvard University. Page 310 →Katherine Profeta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama, Theatre, and Dance of Queens College, CUNY. She is also a founding member and choreographer/movement consultant for Elevator Repair Service theater company, lending her hand to most of its productions since 1991. She is a dramaturg for dance and theater, most notably working with choreographer/visual artist Ralph Lemon since 1996; other collaborators have included Julie Taymor, Annie Dorsen, David Thomson, and Alexandra Beller. Profeta holds an MFA and DFA from the Yale School of Drama. Her writing has been published in Performing Arts Journal, Theater Magazine, Movement Research Performance Journal, Theatre Dance and Performance Training, and TCG’s Production Notebooks. She has taught in the theater departments of Barnard and Yale Colleges and at the Yale School of Drama. Kara Reilly is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter. She is a theater historian, theorist, and dramaturg. Her book, Automata and Mimesis on the Stage of Theatre History (Palgrave, 2011), focuses on automata or self-moving mechanical puppets and their influence on theater history and intellectual history from the Renaissance to the end of World War I. Her edited collection, Theatre, Performance and Analogue (Palgrave, 2013) examines a wide range of spectacular predigital technologies from sparring mechanical elephants to Proust’s theater phone, from cyborg ballerinas to Pepper’s ghost, from hair-raising electrical experiments to automaton monks. Richard Schechner is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies at New York University; editor of TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies; and editor of the series Enactments, from Seagull Books. He is the author of numerous books, including Between Theater and Anthropology (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), Performance Theory (Routledge, 2003), and Performance Studies: An Introduction (Routledge, 2006). His books have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, French, Polish, Serbo-Croatian,

German, Slovakian, Italian, Hungarian, Dutch, Persian, Romanian, and Bulgarian. Schechner’s artistic work includes founding director, The Performance Group; founding director, East Coast Artists; producing director, Free Southern Theater. His most recent stage works are Swimming to Spalding (2009) and Imagining O (2011). Schechner has directed and conducted performance workshops in the United States, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Australia, and Europe. He is waiting for an invitation from Antarctica. Page 311 →Mike Sell is Professor of English, Director of the BA in English Studies, and member of the Graduate Program in Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Avant-Garde: Race, Religion, War (Seagull Books / University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Avant-Garde Performance and the Limits of Criticism (University of Michigan Press, 2005), and editor of Avant-Garde Performance and Material Exchange: Vectors of the Radical (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and Ed Bullins: Twelve Plays and Selected Writings (University of Michigan Press, 2006). His essays have appeared in TDR, Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Modernism/Modernity, African American Review, and other journals. Kim Solga is Associate Professor in the Theatre Studies program at Western University, Canada. She is the author of Violence Against Women in Early Modern Performance: Invisible Acts (2009) and coeditor of Performance and the City (2009) and Performance and the Global City (2013), both from Palgrave. Her 2012 play anthology New Canadian Realisms: Eight Plays, coedited with Roberta Barker, won the 2013 Patrick O’Neill Award from the Canadian Association for Theatre Research, and the companion volume of essays, New Canadian Realisms: New Essays in Canadian Theatre 2, received an honorable mention for the same prize in 2014. Kim’s articles have appeared in Theatre Journal, TDR, Modern Drama, Contemporary Theatre Review, and numerous edited collections. Her otherВ editorial work includes special issues of Canadian Theatre Review (2011, on performance and pedagogy); Shakespeare Bulletin (2013, on early modern theater and naturalism); and the forthcoming A Cultural History of Theatre: The Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2016). Her Theatre & Feminism is forthcoming from Palgrave (2015). Kim is an award-winning teacher, and blogs about teaching and performance at Liz Tomlin is Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham. Her most recent monograph is Acts and Apparitions: Discourses on the Real in Performance Practice and Theory, 1990–2010 (Manchester University Press, 2013), and she is currently editing the third volume of British Theatre Companies (forthcoming, Methuen, 2015). She was Associate Director of Point Blank Theatre from 1999 to 2009 and has edited Point Blank (Intellect, 2007), a selection of the theater’s performance texts and of critical essays on the company’s work. Previous professional productions she has written and directed have included Roses & Morphine (2005), Operation Wonderland (2004), and Nothing to Declare (2002). Her essays on contemporary performance and Page 312 →critical theory have appeared in Modern Drama, TDR, Performance Research, Contemporary Theatre Review, and Theatre of Catastrophe (Oberon, 2006). Graham White is Professor of Drama at the University of Roehampton. He has an MA and DPhil from the University of Sussex. He is an acclaimed dramatic writer with a specialty in radio plays. His research has been published in TDR, TRI, Works and Days, Theatre Survey, and many edited anthologies.

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Index activism, 2, 20, 24, 91, 200, 229–30, 253, 280, 290, 293, 302 Adorno, Theodor and Max Horkheimer, 205 aestheticism, 25, 30, 200, 293 aesthetics: autonomy, x, 207; banality, 51; and politics ix, 2–4, 8, 46, 152, 215, 291, 294, 303; fascist/Nazi, 4–5, 10, 20, 118, 120, 130, 132, 157–59, 205; modernist, 41, 62, 130, 134; sex and death/Eros and Thanatos, 95, 109–10, 112; violence, xi, 7, 11, 21, 23, 27, 33, 38, 52, 61, 67–68, 69, 72, 78, 79, 88, 96, 107, 108, 114, 116, 125–26, 131, 133, 135, 141, 142, 161, 167, 185, 195, 203, 210, 221–23, 260, 295, 296, 297, 299 Al-Qaeda, 8, 25–26, 3, 35 anarchism, 6, 31, 66, 293 anarchy, 6, 25 antidemocratic, 44, 72, 80 anti-Semitic, xi, 10, 66 antitheatrical, 175, 186, 299 Apollinaire, Guillaume, 222, 289, 290 Archambault (Maj. Gilbert Norman), 235–37, 240 architecture, 5, 9, 10, 32, 38, 40, 45, 130, 136, 141, 145, 148, 168, 233 Aristotle, 34, 35, 188 Artaud, Antonin, 14, 19, 22, 25, 35, 62, 63, 71, 187, 188, 229 audience, participation/relationship to performance/performer, 63, 69–70, 145–46, 152–55, 161, 170, 174, 175, 177–78, 179, 182–84, 186–87, 193, 214, 224, 226, 249–50, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 274–75, 276, 278; ix, 2, 6, 20, 21–22, 35, 40, 42, 43, 47, 50, 61, 64, 71, 75, 80, 87, 98, 113, 115–16, 126, 127–28, 137, 148, 149, 159, 160, 164, 165, 167, 169, 171, 185, 188, 189, 198, 209, 210, 221, 251, 268, 289–90 Austin, J.L., 298 Auschwitz, 209 authoritarianism, 60, 78, 86, 87, 88, 146, 151, 157, 167, 284 Babeuf, Noel “Gracchus,” 291 Bakunin, Mikhail, 66 Ballets Russes, 40, 289, 290 Barthes, Roland, 95, 107

Bataille, Georges, 116 Baudelaire, Charles, 100 Beckett, Samuel, x, 117 Beijing, 10, 127, 145–67 Benjamin, Walter, 19, 20, 205, 291 Benn, Gottfried, 203 Bergman, Ingmar, 107 Berkeley, Busby, 4 Berlin, 3, 48, 53, 55, 132, 134, 139, 142, 157, 213, 238, 302 Berlin, Isaiah, x Bichat, Marie FranГ§ois Xavier, 288 Bin Laden, Osama, 26 Blackshirts, 38–39, 45, 51, 59, 142 Page 314 →Blavatsky, Helena, 39 Boal, Augusto, 14 Boccioni, Umberto, 283–84, 299, 302, 304 bohemianism, 291–92 Bolshevik, 67 Bontempelli, Massimo, 40, 41, 45, 50, 51, 52, 55, 56 Bourdieu, Pierre, 266–69, 273, 275, 276, 279 bourgeoisie, 40, 45, 61, 65, 66, 200, 201, 210, 228, 286, 288, 289, 293 Bragaglia, Anton Giulio, 39, 40, 41, 48–51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 59 Brasillach, Robert, 5 Bread and Puppet Theater, 14 Brecht, Bertolt, 2, 60, 186, 188, 224–26, 227–28, 230, 231, 238, 239, 246, 254, 259 Breton, AndrГ©, 24, 62, 63 Brevik, Anders, 89–90 British National Party (BNP), 89 Broch, Hermann, 205

Bronnen, Arnolt, 20, 60–72 Brook, Peter, 25 Buddhist, 99, 147 British Union of Fascists (BUF), 76, 80, 84, 87–88, 91 Burden, Chris, 25 Burke, Edmund, 29, 35, 61 Butler, Judith, 102–3, 298 butoh, 112–16 Cabaret Voltaire, 300–302 Camus, Albert, 94 capitalism, 11, 30, 151, 156, 167, 214, 264, 267–68, 272, 285, 287, 298, 301, 303 catharsis, 35, 113, 178 Catholicism, 186, 195, 213 celebrity, 79, 87 Céline, Louis-Ferdinand, x–xi censorship, 38, 57, 74, 148, 149, 161 Chan, Evans, 151 Changeling, 12, 223, 246–51, 257–58, 260–61 charisma, 70, 71, 75, 77, 78, 79, 81, 126, 139, 176 Cheek by Jowl, 223, 246–52, 257–61 China, 10, 26, 110, 145–67 choreography, 5, 10, 116, 126, 127, 133, 141, 142, 146, 147, 157, 161, 162, 163, 165, 167, 168, 207, 256, 289, 290 Chladek, Rosalia, 131, 133 Christian, Christianity, 10, 95, 126, 136, 174–88, 192–93, 195, 200, 214, 239, 253 Christo and Jeanne-Claude, 31 Churchill, Caryl, 276 Churchill, Winston, 230, 231, 232 cinematography, 5, 148, 149, 197, 203–4, 207, 215 classic, 12, 49, 50, 62, 96, 104, 105, 117, 126, 130–42, 228, 287, 289, 290, 303

Clausewitz, Carl von, 68 Cocteau, Jean, 100, 204, 286, 288–89, 290 code, 65, 95, 118, 150, 153, 225–29, 231, 233–39, 242–43 colonialism, 15, 130, 131, 137, 140, 155, 201, 208, 293 comedy, 82, 86, 214 commercialization, 6, 21, 26, 41, 42, 45, 176, 213, 265, 266–67, 268, 278, 300–302 commodification, 11, 21, 165, 210, 264–72, 277, 279, 288 Communist, 6, 10, 60, 62, 68, 149, 153, 157, 201, 297, 302 Confucius, 146, 153–54 consecration, 222, 268–69, 273–79 conservatism, ix, x, 1, 7, 11, 12, 13, 85, 100, 125, 127–28, 137, 173, 174, 183, 193, 194, 197, 199–203, 207–8, 233, 247, 248, 251, 252, 253, 254, 256, 257, 259, 261, 264, 265, 270, 276–77, 285, 297 consumerism, 96, 165–66, 167, 173, 199, 210, 269, 278, 288 cosmopolitanism, 287, 289, 290 contingency, 150, 200, 210, 222, 284, 294, 299, 301 Cotopouli, Marika, 134 Coubertin, Pierre de, 152, 164 Coulette, Henri, 241–42 counterintelligence, 229, 230, 231, 236, 242 coup d’état, x, 9, 94–98, 101, 110–11, 291 Craig, Gordon, 131, 132 Page 315 →crowd, 5, 25, 38, 42–44, 63, 64, 70, 71, 87, 99, 107, 145, 164, 184, 185, 212 cultural production, 266–68, 279–80 culture: high and low, 48, 228, 296; literary, 229; political, 68, 291; popular/youth, 25–6, 34, 50, 174–76, 198, 278, 293; Western, 6, 7, 10, 21, 29, 32, 45, 48, 51, 53, 58, 65, 95, 97, 109, 116, 127, 131, 133, 135–36, 138, 139, 149, 153–54, 155, 158, 181, 184, 193, 200, 207, 208, 209, 222, 248, 283, 288 Culture Industry, 12 Dada, dadaist, 6, 24, 25, 208–9, 213, 301–2 Dalcroze, Г‰mile-Jacques, 132 D’Annunzio, Gabriele, 81 Daudet, LГ©on, 286

Debord, Guy, 11, 12, 35 democracy, 45, 61, 66, 78, 88, 90, 98, 155, 265, 291 democratization, 160 Dericourt, Henri, 223, 234, 236, 239–43, 244 dictatorship, 44, 45, 47, 53, 56, 68, 77, 78, 92, 110, 197 disinformation, 230–31 Disney, Walt, 4, 175, 204 Duchamp, Marcel, 27, 228, 267 Duncan, Isadora, 129, 131–33, 135, 141, 143 Dunsany, Lord, 38, 44 Duve, Thierry de, 31–32 Eagleton, Terry, 69, 272 eavesdropping, 227, 238–39 economy, 11, 12, 21, 29, 32, 60, 67, 86, 96, 108, 110, 114, 151, 153, 156–57, 165, 197, 222, 264, 265–68, 270–72, 273, 275–76, 284, 290, 291, 292, 296, 297–98, 299, 301–3 education, 38, 58, 153, 204, 222, 265–66, 268, 269–72 empire, 66, 129–31, 136–37, 150 Empson, William, 242 Englandspiel, 223, 233, 235 English Defence League, 76, 89 Enlightenment, 2, 139, 200 entertainment, 25, 26–27, 48, 101, 178, 198, 209, 214, 255, 292, 301 espionage, 11, 222, 225–26, 228–29, 231, 233, 239, 241 ethnicity, 86, 89, 90, 160, 198, 291, 292 evangelism, 10, 173–74, 176–77, 180, 181, 187, 189, 191, 192, 193 experimentation, 38, 40, 45, 49, 50, 55, 62, 126, 132, 187, 221–23, 239, 246, 264, 266, 268 expressionism, 9, 19, 20, 43, 60–62, 72 farce, 27, 215 fascism, ix–x, 1, 2, 3–5, 8–10, 13, 20, 37–39, 43–53, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 68, 75–78, 80, 82, 83, 84, 88, 90, 91, 108, 109, 110, 127, 129–32, 135, 136–41, 157, 197, 205, 208, 209, 212, 215, 225, 231

feminism, 102, 246–48, 250–54, 257–58, 260, 262 festival, 25, 37, 43, 114, 132–34, 148, 157, 159, 175, 186, 246, 249, 250, 273, 276 filmmaking, 3–5, 10, 22, 26, 33, 49, 72, 83, 84, 96, 98, 110–12, 117, 127, 145, 148–51, 154–55, 158, 161, 163, 175, 178, 180, 187, 192, 197, 203–7, 209, 212, 215, 266, 268 finance, 26, 40, 41, 45, 47, 57, 110, 162, 173, 252, 268, 271, 272, 274, 279, 300, 302 Fluxus, 268, 300–301 Fo, Dario, 29, 31 Forced Entertainment, 273, 276, 277 freedom, 8, 9, 10, 66, 69, 75, 98, 127 Freud, Sigmund, 63, 246, 249–50, 255 Foucault, Michel, 3 France, 24, 60, 201, 222, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 249, 252, 284, 285, 286, 287, 289 Fuller, Jean Overtone, 232, 233–34, 235, 236–37, 239–42 futurism, ix, 6, 21, 24, 25, 31, 38, 40–41, 49–50, 205, 227, 228, 283, 285, 290 Gaborik, Patricia, 8, 9, 20, 57, 59, 290 genealogy, 133, 139 gender, 99, 102–3, 105, 158, 159, 164, 182, 215, 223, 298 Genet, Jean, 108, 116, 215 Page 316 →George, Stefan, 203 Germany, 9, 60, 66, 75, 77, 126, 127, 131, 139, 140, 141, 157, 197, 199, 201, 205, 207, 209, 225, 232, 235, 240 Gernsback, Hugo, 21 Gesamtkunstwerk, 5 Giskes, Herman, 233, 234–36 globalization, 155 Goebbels, Joseph, 1, 19, 21–22, 61, 71–72, 126, 132, 139–40, 142 Gorky, Maxim, 67 Graham, Martha, 131, 132, 133, 135 Greece, Greek, 5, 129, 131–35, 137, 139, 141, 142 Griffith, D.W., 30, 212 Gris, Juan, 286

Ground Zero, 27, 33–34, 35 gymnastics, 159, 167 Habermas, Jürgen, 204, 291 happening, 35, 268 Harding, James, 6, 11, 14, 15, 221, 222–23, 290, 295 Hasenclever, Walter, 20, 60–72 Heartfield, John, 213 hegemony, 6, 10, 12, 13, 102, 193, 303 Heidegger, Martin, 203 Hellman, Lillian, 51 Hemingway, Ernest, 33 Hero (film), 150–51, 154, 158, 161, 163–64 Heydrich, Reinhard, 232–33 hierarchy, x, 39, 79, 85, 127, 179, 181, 268, 276 hijacking, 26, 28, 32 Hitler, Adolf, 4, 5, 14, 49, 71–72, 75, 80, 82, 84, 87, 92, 108, 141, 157, 158, 167, 197, 200, 201, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 215, 217, 224 Holland/Netherlands, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237 Hollander, John, 226 Hollywood, 26, 151, 187, 189, 231 Holocaust, 24 homosexuality, 113, 174, 179, 180–85, 215 humanities, 222, 266, 271–72, 280, 294 iconography, 80, 150, 210 identity, 9, 10, 79, 85, 94, 95–96, 100, 102–3, 104, 116, 117–18, 131, 152–53, 157, 182, 193 ideology, 110, 127, 135, 137, 141, 149, 150, 158–59, 179, 188, 197, 202, 213, 221, 222, 225, 248, 253, 254, 264, 271, 275, 278, 283–84, 286, 287–88, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 298, 301, 303 Ikki, Kita, 110 imperialism, 6, 21, 97 impersonation, 27, 102, 103; female, 222; ethnic, 291

individualism, 7, 45, 78, 160, 162 innovation, ix, 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 42, 58, 78, 125, 126, 128, 139, 145, 146, 148, 152, 155, 158, 174, 222, 223, 228, 268, 269, 270, 271, 273, 276, 277, 279, 280, 284, 288, 299 internationalism, 201, 285 Islam, 89, 90, 186, 214 Italy, 8–9, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 50, 51, 52, 53, 130, 131, 135, 136, 137, 138, 141, 201, 205 Jannarone, Kimberly, 21, 158 Japan, 9, 94, 95–99, 101, 107, 108, 110, 114, 116, 118 Jaspers, Karl, 199 JaurГЁs, Jean, 285 Judaism, x–xi, 1, 51, 86, 87, 201, 286 Jihad, jihadist, x, 21, 26, 28, 31, 32, 35 JГјnger, Ernst, 67, 68, 70, 203 Kabuki, 94, 100, 103–4 Kahn, David, 233 Kaiser, Georg, 62 Kant, Immanuel, 29, 35, 61, 283, 286 Kaprow, Allan, 32 Khan, Noor Inyat, 234 Kieffer, Hans Josef, 235, 242–43 Kipling, Rudyard, 227, 238–39 Korea: North, 159–60, 166–67; South, 153 Kracauer, Siegfried, 165 Krupp, Gustav, 108–9 Kubrick, Stanley, 4 Ku Klux Klan, 181, 212 Page 317 →Laban, Rudolf, 10, 126, 131, 132, 133, 139–40, 159 Laibach (band), 210, 212–15 landscape, 31, 78, 86, 139, 174, 189, 207, 208, 222, 249 LautrГ©amont, 116

Lauwers, Lt. H.M.G., 236–37, 240 Lawrence, T.E., 75–76, 78–82, 83, 85, 87, 91, 92, 201 League of Empire Loyalists, 89 Le Bon, Gustave, 44 Lenin, Vladimir, 67, 201 Les Frères Corbusier, 187, 189–92 Leys, Colin, 265, 269–70, 277, 279 liberalism, x, xi, 6, 7, 66, 68, 201, 264, 265, 270 libertarianism, 6 Lindbergh, Charles, 77–78, 88 Living Theatre, 10, 14, 24 Lombroso, Cesare, 292–93 London, 47, 53, 72, 75, 87, 89, 90, 107, 132, 175, 233, 234, 235–36, 238, 242, 243, 246, 249, 260, 261, 274, 300, 302 Lorca, Federico Garcia, 50 Maistre, Joseph de, x Mamet, David, x manifesto, 24–25, 31, 98, 227, 297–98, 300–301, 302 Mann, Paul, 267–68 Mann, Thomas, ix Mao Zedong, 153, 154, 156, 159 marketing, 177, 278, 294, 302 Marks, Leo, 236, 243 Marinetti, F. T., 24, 40, 41, 50, 61, 62, 63, 64, 71, 205, 227, 228 Marx, Karl, 215, 297, 300 Marxism, Marxist, 179, 197, 213, 214, 297 mass media, 20, 21, 176, 268 mass performance, 10, 71, 145, 165, 166 Massine, Léonide, 289, 290 Masterman, J.C., 237

Matteotti, Giacomo, 39 Mauriac, François, 100 Maurras, Charles, 286 McKenzie, Jon, 94, 295 McKinnon, Catherine, 286 McPherson, Aimee Semple, 176 melodrama, melodramatic, 27, 69, 94 memorial, 33, 111, 180 metaphysics, 42, 203, 238, 240 militarism, 68, 79, 95, 108, 110, 116, 139, 140, 161, 201, 208, 228, 230, 252 misogynist, ix, 248 Mitford, Diana and Unity, 80, 92 mobilization, 21, 70, 125, 131, 157, 161, 165, 202, 254, modernism, 15, 20, 21, 22, 41, 45, 51, 62, 71, 85, 118, 129–35, 137, 139–41, 222, 284, 290, 295–97 Mohler, Armin, 127, 197–203, 207–8 Mosley, Oswald, 76, 80, 84, 87, 91, 92 Mosse, George, 293 Mussolini, Benito, 9, 22, 37–54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 67, 80, 129–31, 135–40 mysticism, 34, 40, 85, 87, 227, 238, 240, 241 mythology, 10, 26, 34, 65, 67, 78, 79, 85–86, 91, 94, 95–96, 108, 116, 127, 132–33, 139, 141, 155, 206, 227 National Front, 89, 90 nationalism, 10, 21, 34, 66, 67, 68, 75, 89–90, 96, 99, 127, 137, 139, 152, 159, 169, 215, 285, 287 National Socialism / Nazi, 1, 5, 139, 140, 158, 159, 197, 203, 204, 206, 207, 210, 213, 215, 239 Neoliberal, 222, 253, 264–65, 270, 272–73, 279, 280 neo-Nazi, 10, 84, 90, 127 New Labour, 264, 265, 269, 272 New Left, 156–57 New Right, 156 New York, 28, 29, 34, 39, 53, 72, 126, 132, 134–35, 165, 174, 187, 189, 300, 302

Nicholas, Elizabeth, 233 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 200, 293 nihilistic, nihilism, 96, 118 Nobel Prize, Nobel laureate, 20, 29, 49, 154 Noh, 94, 104 Nordau, Max, 292–94 nostalgia, 82, 86, 91, 116, 160, 214, 302 Page 318 →Nuremberg: rally, 3, 5, 76, 80–81, 87, 203, 206; Trials, 83 Odets, Clifford, 186 Olympia (film), 3, 4, 158 Olympics, 3, 10, 127, 139, 142, 145–47, 150–52, 154, 157–59, 162, 164, 167 Olympic Youth, 139–40, 142, 157–58 O’Neill, Eugene, 50 Opus Dei, 210, 213 Orientalist, 149 pageantry, 71, 141, 145, 147, 148, 152–53, 155, 157, 158, 159, 207 Palmer, Eva, 131, 133 Parade, 222, 289–90 paramilitary, 68–69, 94, 215, 228 parapolitical, 78 Paris: Commune, 21, 40, 48, 53, 165, 234, 235, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289 parliament, 45, 61, 69, 71, 234, 291 parody, 41, 86, 187, 256, 298 patriotism, 27, 34, 90, 96, 109–11 Pavolini, Corrado, 49, 50 Pentecostal, 173, 176, 188 performance art, 6, 23, 25, 33, 64, 193, 300 Picasso, Pablo, 33, 170, 288–90 Pirandello, Luigi, xiii, 6, 8–9, 20–21, 37–54, 55–56, 57, 58, 59

Piscator, Erwin, 1, 21, 22, 72 Poggioli, Renato, 268 Poincaré, Raymond, 285, Prampolini, Enrico, 40, 50, 290 primitivism, 6, 15 progressive, 1–2, 6, 7, 11, 125, 127, 176, 193, 208, 199, 200, 223, 231, 247–48, 251, 260, 261, 302 propaganda, 1, 33, 39, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 139, 149, 158, 204, 225, 292, 303 protest, 6, 30, 90–91, 154, 180, 198, 208–9, 301 Protestant, 173, 176, 194 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph, 66 Puchner, Martin, 297–303 Queen (band), 212–13, 214 Radiguet, Raymond, 100 radio/wireless, 21–2, 50, 71, 78, 175, 222, 224–43 reactionary, x, 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 20, 51, 86, 94–96, 109, 112, 118, 222 religion, 10, 21, 30, 43–44, 90, 125, 126, 127, 152, 169, 173–74, 176, 179, 181, 187–89, 191–93, 213, 239, 240, 285 Renaissance, 30 revolution: conservative: 127, 128, 197, 199–203, 207–8; Cultural, 148, 156, 168; fascist, 39, 45; France: 107–8, 127, 291–92; Industrial, 6, 19, 21, 22, 24, 40, 41, 48, 50, 53–54, 62, 64, 66, 67, 72, 78, 110, 125, 162, 170, 187, 206, 230, 297, 298, 299 Riefenstahl, Leni, 3–5, 30, 158, 167, 197, 203–6 Reinhardt, Max, 1, 72, 131–32, 133, 141 ritual, ritualistic, 25, 27, 32, 71, 77, 94, 95, 100, 114, 115, 133, 148, 152, 164, 165, 174, 227, 238 romanità , 30, 135–37 romanticism, 3, 8, 19, 32, 64, 83, 84, 88, 96, 99, 105–6, 108, 116, 118, 249, 251, 253, 261, 283 Rome, 37, 39, 40, 45, 49, 129–30, 134, 135–38, 141–42 Roth, Philip, 77–78, 88 Russia, Russian, 67, 201 sabotage, 229, 232, sacrifice, 32, 78, 108, 114–15, 117, 127, 150–51, 187, 205, 210, 222, 236, 242,

Sade, 100, 107–8, 116 sadomasochism, 9, 108 Saerchinger, CГ©sar, 225–31, 242 Saint Sebastian, 104–6, 111 Saint-Simon, Henri de, 287–88, 291 samurai, 9, 94, 95–96, 97, 98, 99–100, 101, 104, 107, 109, 116–17 Satan, 100, 173–74, 179, 182, 183, 185, 187 Satie, Erik, 288, 289, 290 Schechner, Richard, 6–7, 8, 13, 19, 21, 22, 276–77 Schiller, Friedrich, 62 Schmitt, Carl, 67–68, 70 Page 319 →science fiction, 21 Sell, Mike, ix, 2, 12, 14, 15, 109, 221–22, 230, 240, 268 Shakespeare, William, 33 ShЕЌwa Restoration, 94–95, 110 situationism, 11–12, 24, 25 Social Democrat, 65, 69 Sontag, Susan, 3–5, 157, 158, 161, 197, 204–5 Sorel, Georges, 67, 201 sovereignty, 65, 70, 210 Soviet Union, 22, 24, 159, 201, 208, 209 Special Operations Executive (SOE), 223, 232–43 spectator, ix, 2, 20, 28, 32, 35, 43, 44, 126, 158, 159, 161, 185, 187, 193, 206, 223, 247, 248, 249, 251, 253, 256, 257, 258, 261, 289 Speer, Albert, 5, 14, 72 Sperimentale dello Stato, 48–50 Stalin, Joseph, 201 Stalingrad, 19, 61 Stanislavsky, Konstantin, 246 Stein, Gertrude, ix

stereotype, 86, 127, 139, 193, 223, 247 Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 8, 19, 23, 28–29, 31–32 Stockholm syndrome, 256 Strindberg, August, ix sublime, 19, 20, 22, 29–30, 33–35, 60–63, 66–69, 71–72, 108, 158, 162 subversion, 10–13, 91, 127, 148, 223, 228, 229, 232, 266, 298–99 suicide, 8, 9, 27, 60, 92, 94–97, 99–102, 109, 111–12, 117–18, 165, 174, 182, 185, 209 surrealism, 6, 25, 62, 209, swastika, 142, 206, 209, 213 Synge, J.M., 84 Tatenokai/Shield Society, 94–95, 97–99 Tea Party, 7 Teatro d’Arte/Teatro degli Undici, 37–41, 45–49, 53 Teatro delle Arti, 38, 49, 50, 53 Teatro Sperimentale degli Indipendenti, 40 technology, 11, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 30, 42, 79, 145, 147, 162, 164, 167, 182, 222, 224–31, 238–39, 242 television, 26–27, 34–35, 50, 89, 145, 151, 152, 161, 170, 199, 266, 268 terrorism, 8, 19, 24–27, 32, 34, 35, 65, 69, 208, 249, 251, 255 theology, 70, 174, 175, 176, 178, 179, 185, 186, 189, 193 Thingspiel, 127, 139, 158 Tokyo, 95–96, 110, 115 Tolstoy, Leo, 33, 293 totalitarianism, ix, x, 1–3, 7, 9–10, 13, 45, 70, 91, 126, 141, 205, 208–9, 213–14 totem, 81, 215 tourist, 34, 159, 301–2 tragedy, 35, 43, 44, 111, 133, 215 transgression, 31, 33, 62, 102, 153, 199 transvestism, 103 Triumph of the Will (film), 3–5, 30, 197, 203–4, 206, 207

Trotsky, Leon, 24, 201 Turner Diaries, 84 union sacrГ©e, 285–86, 288, 295 United States, 96, 126, 141, 151, 165, 173, 175, 176, 177, 181, 187, 193, 198, 208, 209, 253 utopia, 24, 95, 116, 117, 206 Versailles Treaty, 126 victimology, 247, 250, 255, 260, 261 Vienna Aktionists, 31 Wagner, Richard, 9, 34, 40, 43, 80, 286, 293 War: Cold, 25, 208; Franco-Prussian, 286–87; Iraq, 27; on terror, 27; Punic, 138; “total,” 19, 61; World War/Great War I, 66, 67, 75, 79, 81, 84, 87, 126, 127, 138, 202, 207, 208, 222, 225, 284; World War II, 11, 20, 24, 28, 31, 33, 49, 52, 54, 60, 62–65, 67–69, 70, 71–72, 78, 80, 83, 84, 95, 96, 99–97, 100, 103, 106, 108, 130, 170, 198, 201, 205, 208, 214, 215, 225, 228, 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 235, 236, 240, 241, 243, 285, 288, 302 Warhol, Andy, 27, 204 Page 320 →Warsaw, 72 Weather Underground, 24 Weiss, Peter, 107 Westboro Baptist Church, 180 Wharton, Edith, 285 White, Graham, 8, 9, 20, 127 Whitefield, George, 175–76, 186 Wigman, Mary, 10, 126, 131, 132, 133, 135, 139, 141 Wilder, Thornton, 50 Williams, Raymond, 179, 194 Williamson, Henry, 21, 75–91 Yeats, W.B., 131, 132, 141 Yimou, Zhang, 10, 127, 145, 148, 156, 158, 159, 166 Yugoslavia, 210, 213–14, 232 Zizek, Slavoj, 19