Agamben, “Notes on Gesture:
“In the cinema, a society that has lost its gestures seeks to reappropriate what it has lost while simultaneously recording that loss. An era that has lost its gestures is, for that very reason, obsessed with them; for people who are bereft of all that is natural to them, every gesture becomes a fate. And the more the ease of these gestures was lost under the influence of invisible powers, the more life became indecipherable… The dance of Isadora and Diaghilev, the novels of Proust, the great Jugendestil poets from Pascoli to Rilke and ultimately — in the most exemplary way — silent cinema, trace the magic circle in which humanity sought, for the last time, to evoke what was slipping through its fingers for ever.”
Jean-Luc Nancy, The Gravity of Thought:
“What intrigued me was the theme of weight. Why does this theme persist, in these two texts, but also elsewhere? Why does it function for me as an ‘obsessive metaphor’? In fact, I have to admit it, there is something in it that obsesses me—I might just as well say: something that weighs on me.
“This means at once: something that weighs me down, that pushes me toward the earth, that bends me, tires me, and something that troubles me, that concerns me. To think, or to want to think, is heavy. As one says in French, it is lourd de conséquences. One speaks as well of a ‘weighty silence’…
“This is intolerable, unbearable (one bends, collapses under the weight of what is to be thought, that is, of what just is), and yet this has no heaviness, it is lightness itself (one can think whatever one wishes). This is grave, the existence of the world is grave, but this gravity has the lightness of that which exists without any other justification than existing. As is also said in French: ça tombe sous les sens. Thought is such a meaning.”
“The weight of thought means that the world is grave enough by itself, Without any other consideration. Which also means: joyous enough. This equation is the very weight of weightiness: its impalpable lightness. This is what cannot be forgotten.”
Not possible, I’m realizing now. Not possible to write this long essay on dance and revolution, on choreography and resistance and being-with-other, being-for-other. Not possible this way, it’s stuck. It’s cramping. I’ve got a charley-horse where I write. In the leg of my head. In the leg of my heart. To essay, to write the essay, essayer, ben j’essaie quoi, fous-moi la paix, to assay, to attempt, to try, you’re trying me, it’s testing me, someone let me hold a number 2 pencil cos they testin’, exagium, a weight, I’m weighing it, I’m weighing on it, it weighs on me, ce qu’il exige de moi, ce que j’exige de lui. What I’m asking of it. What it’s asking of me. The same choreography, every time. A body to carry, every time. Sometimes it’s even my own.
In the documentary, before he begins speaking during his performance with Monnier’s troupe, Jean-Luc Nancy makes a mistake with the choreography. The choreography of pauses and silences before one may start, again, with words. He comes in too early, and he doesn’t arrive quite at the right place, either. “You could have taken longer, Jean-Luc.” “I got it wrong anyway, I had to be over there.” “It happens.” But that’s part of it, too. The part you always get wrong. The step or stone you’re always tripping over. The move you fuck up. Trauma is your faux pas. Your faut pas.
“to project, propel,” c.1300, from O.E. þrawan “to twist, turn writhe” (pt. þreow, pp. þrawen), from P.Gmc. *thræ- (cf. O.S. thraian, M.Du. dræyen, Du. draaien, O.H.G. draen, Ger. drehen “to turn, twist;” not found in Scandinavian or Gothic), from PIE *tere- “to rub, turn, rub by turning, bore” (cf. Skt. turah “wounded, hurt,” Gk. teirein “to rub, rub away,” L. terere “to rub, thresh, grind, wear away,” O.C.S. tiro “to rub,” Lith. trinu “to rub,” O.Ir. tarathar “borer,” Welsh taraw “to strike.”
What Derrida calls “a cut or incision that the poem bears in its body like a memory, sometimes several memories in one, the mark of a provenance, of a place and of a time.” The dance is a scratch. A cut in the world. And a body that knows how to cut and be cut——a vulnerable body——is a writing body. “On mine, in any case,” says Monnier. When I dance, I have a habit of putting a hand over my heart. When I write, too.