Virtuality of Dance

In reference to my previous post of the dancefloor of virtuality (which apparently is third in google for “Deleuze” and “virtuality” lol) is this quote from Alain Badiou’s “Dance as a Metaphor for Thought” in his Handbook of Inaesthetics:

It obviously follows from this observation that the essence of dance is virtual, rather than actual movement: Virtual movement as the secret slowness of actual movement. Or more precisely: Dance, in its most extreme and virtuosic quickness, exhibits this hidden slowness that makes it so that what takes place is indiscernible from its own restraint. At the summit of its art, dance would therefore demonstrate the strange equivalence not only between quickness and slowness, but also between gesture and nongesture. It would indicate that, even though movement has taken place, this taking place is indistinguishable from a virtual nonplace. Dance is composed of gestures that, haunted by their own restraint remain in some sense undecided. (61)

It blows me away sometimes when I think along the same lines as some other dude but in the end the lines end up in different places. ‘Undecided’ of course carries a certain valence in Badiou’s philosophy. And I could never agree with his idealistic conception of dance — at the minimum, where is the music or rhythm (even if it is only imagined)? Doesn’t this go to the heart of Badiou’s problematic?

I’ll add more to this when I get home (I just found the book at work, lol).

UPDATE: OK, so I was too hasty.

The chapter on Dance and the next chapter on Theatre need to be read together if one is to imagine actually existing examples of dance.

I can appreciate the philosophical move (or intraphilosophical move, as Badiou might say) of producing what are essentially conceptualisation of Dance and of Theatre for the sake of exploring ‘thought’.

The danger is Badiou’s clunky nonhumanism. His nonhumanism is nonhumun because he discusses the (nonhuman) truths of (nonhuman) events. However it is clunky because the evental truths are produced through the material practices of a subject of truth who appears to be necessarily human and therefore projects a human frame of reference onto the backformed truth and event. Are there no truths on nonhuman frames of reference? Do humans not think by using technologies that diminish and sometimes develop the human potential? In other words, although I can understand the philosophical point of a pure dance that is pure movement, which evacuates itself as a nonplace enabling the possibility of thought, the cosmos is full, thought is always produced in assemblages (or Theatre).

The much more complex point is the correspondence between the virtual and the actual; which is to first ask the question, does the actual impinge upon or effect in any way the virtual? According to Hallward (in his book on Deleuze, Out of this World) and to a lesser extent I think Badiou, the answer is clearly, no, the actual does not effect the virtual. I am not so sure as there seems to be a link through a problematic of contingency and the notion of an aleatory point.

2 replies on “Virtuality of Dance”

  1. dp, i will put together some texts for you, if you like? (like I promised!)

    But first up, to give you a taste, is probably the best introduction to the notion of ‘movement’ as virtuality (as Badiou discusses it in terms of dance). Brian Massumi’s introduction to his essential book, Parables of the Virtual:

    Most of my dissertation is organised around producing a conception of ‘subculture’ (although I don’t use the term ‘subculture’) that accounts for the virtuality of the cultural formation, etc. This is one of the big problems with the spectacular version of subcultural theory, although it comes much closer than the older and boring sociological versions. I use the notion of a ‘scene’ to talk about an incorporeal movement, that is similar in some ways to the way Badiou is talking about dance here, but on a very different scale. I prefer to use Foucault’s phrase ‘incorporeal materialism’ than Deleuze’s Bergson inspired notion of virtuality. The tricky thing is to investigate the relation between the incorporeal movement of the scene (ie the scene itself is literally a kind of dance) across the events of the scene and the material conditions of its existence. In other words, the tricky thing is the correspondene between the virtual and the actual, which is why that short passage from The Fold in my previous post on the virtuality of the notes and the possibility of their realisation is so bloody important!!

    It is about time someone got their Deleuze/Foucault freak on with ‘subculture’… I am writing all this now and have almost finished the chapter. it is some crazy shit. lol

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