Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow
Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet
Now, it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table,
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone
Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows;
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?
Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences; open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late
An act of storytelling and vulnerability, it aims to connect, re-contextualize, and articulate learned experience through the medium of performance.
Trauma disconnects us from our bodies and from each other, marooning us in a secret place where we lack words for our traumatic experiences, words that would allow us a way back to connecting with ourselves and others. The obliteration of language through bodily trauma leaves us in the realm of nonverbal language, a world of embodied knowledge where our beliefs and behaviors remain beyond verbal articulation.
The dramatic behaviors we exhibit in response to trauma consist of gestures “we cannot verbalize, we tend to enact with others, to evoke in others….” Trauma carves itself onto the body, weaving paths into our flesh and mapping itself onto our actions. Trauma is learned and can be, to some extent, unlearned.
As women, we have often been ground down and discounted by our culture, turning on ourselves and each other out of love and fear. Our maternal lineages have replicated violent cycles of care and neglect through intimate connections, shaping each other out of scars. Mother to daughter, sister to sister, lover to lover, we have been destroyed and devoured.
The failed mimesis of karaoke
“Popular songs tell our stories, and, by selection, we have a hand in the writing: the presentation of the self as karaoke life.”
So many of the words in my head aren’t my own, they haven’t had to be. The culture I live in is one of verbal consumption, so, consuming words are showcased everywhere. Words to live in, words to live through, words to shape thought and life. Claiming them, saying them, singing them, can then serve as storytelling, offering a resolution of trauma through reenactment, a reconnection to the verbal through the action of vocalizing.
Using karaoke as a device, with its language of popular culture and inversion of the consumer-producer relationship, I will tell and retell my stories. I will inhabit songs, my and other people’s words, simultaneously claiming and disrupting them with my body, which is the wrong body for these words, with my own voice, which is the wrong voice.
“The practice of karaoke in the United States becomes an appropriation for storytelling, and, in that storytelling, karaoke itself acquires a story, a meaning; it becomes a space from which to communicate…or a space in which to fantasize…”
 David J. Wallin, Attachment in Psychotherapy, 1 edition (New York: The Guilford Press, 2007).
 Stephen Royce Giddens, “Singing Otherwise: Karaoke, Representation, and Practice,” Studies in Popular Culture 28, no. 3 (2006): 93–109.
I’d rather be naked because then you’re distracted from my lying mouth
INSTRUCTIONS (Please both read carefully before continuing)
This is a study of interpersonal closeness, and your task, which we think will be quite enjoyable, is simply to get close to your partner. We believe that the best way for you to get close to your partner is for you to share with them and for them to share with you. Of course, when we advise you about getting close to your partner, we are giving advice regarding your behavior in this demonstration only, we are not advising you about your behavior outside of this demonstration.
In order to help you get close we’ve arranged for the two of you to engage in a kind of sharing game. You’re sharing time will be for about one hour, after which time we ask you to fill out a questionnaire concerning your experience of getting close to your partner.
You have been given three sets of slips. Each slip has a question or a task written on it. As soon as you both finish reading these instructions, you should begin with the Set I slips. One of you should read aloud the first slip and then BOTH do what it asks, starting with the person
who read the slip aloud. When you are both done, go on to the second slip-one of you reading it aloud and both doing what it asks. And so forth.
As you go through the slips, one at a time, please don’t skip any slips–do each in order. If it asks you a question, share your answer with your partner. Then let him or her share their answer to the same question with you. If it is a task, do it first, then let your partner do it. Alternate who reads aloud (and thus goes first) with each new slip. You will be informed when to move on to the next set of slips. It is not important to finish all the slips in each set within the time allotted. Take plenty of time with each slip, doing what it asks thoroughly and thoughtfully.
You may begin! Turn to Set I, slip 1.
Task Slips for Closeness-Generating Procedure
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take 4 minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of 5 items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make 3 true “we” statements each. For instance ‘We are both in this room feeling … “
- Complete this sentence: ‘1 wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Aron, Arthur, Edward Melinat, Elaine N. Aron, Robert Darrin Vallone, and Renee J. Bator. “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 23, no. 4 (April 1, 1997): 363–77. doi:10.1177/0146167297234003.
I can (n)ever be too careful
Outside of the enclosed space, only some of the sound is audible. The dits and dahs of the morse code pierce through the exterior hide, but the spoken sections are muffled and indistinct from without. The enclosure is only big enough for one person and surrounds you with the smell of the leather. Entering, through the partially open panel, you have to touch the skin to move it out of your way. From within, the spoken sections are clear, though the encoded sections are still encoded.
“You can never be too careful”
Yes, you can. I can and I am.
How can I speak of connection when I know only of disconnection?
If I allow myself to become something new with you, what will be left of me when you leave?
What if I love you more than you love me, again?
When do lessons learned become an obstacle too great to overcome?
Black garment leather. Black leather garments. Skins. Hides. Cover. A protective armor. Being surrounded by the weight of it. The smell.
The inadequately covered, enrobed by other skins, thicker, dyed skins, cured to last.
Morse code: speaking to the present/future from the past, in a language of the past.
Encoding reduces the bandwidth required to send messages, to spell out words and also obfuscates, places farther out of reach.
Historical pain dictates today’s fear.
One half of a conversation, the other half redacted and replaced with code. The words spoken are almost indecipherable from outside, only becoming easier to hear once standing within.
I am afraid of leaving this place. Afraid that I’m something else, no longer myself, without being a part of this pressing crush of bodies, the crushing press of voices.
What is silence without this noise?
I am always new in this city of strangers, until I’m not.
I float, their eyes and their unawareness all a shadow skin.
I pass through the sludge & slush of this place, armored by the gaze, the echo of voices not speaking to or of me, trapped in their own conversations.
There is so little space left, what remains gives me shape.
A negative, a positive.
I know there is always something to react to, to reflect.
Mimicry, pattern disruption, camouflage.
Remember to never be lost, never seem lost, especially when you are.
The displaced, the transplanted always stand out.
If I make my skin out of my surroundings, what becomes of me if I leave them?
Do I take it with me, becoming more conspicuous in a new environment, a fish on land, or do I leave it behind me, passing on, flayed and laid bare?
Hermit crabs are a favorite animal of mine.
Every year I went to Hull, to the summer beach with my grandmother, I found one in the waves.
I’ve always been very good at spotting them in their odd appropriated shells.
No, I don’t name them, but I do talk to them, as if I, in my human way, can reassure them I mean no harm.
Anyway, this is a video of how I’m thinking the projection element might work.
The animated elements are no longer bees, but have become more like cells. I’m still not sure about the bees.
Etymology: < modern French carapace, < Spanish carapacho upper shell of a tortoise: of doubtful origin; taken by Barcia as a by-form of *carapazon , by metathesis for caparazon caparison, body-armour of a horse, augmentative of capara , -o , in medieval Latin a hood, a covering of the head and shoulders, < Latin capa , cape n.2
The upper body-shell of tortoises, and of crustaceans. Extended to the hard case investing the body in some other animals, as certain Infusoria.
“carapace, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web. 25 September 2014.
Wishing for a more perfect membrane, a carapace.
Sadly, barely distinguished, separated, and unprotected.
It’s too hot in here, always too hot, and all other sensation loses focus.
Walking through the floor, sinking up into the sky, hearing the thunder pass through me as if I were as unsubstantial as I feel.
Dreaming I’m entirely bodiless.
Substance lost, as my vapor form becomes rain, pooling now, the water gives me form and shape, briefly, before I evaporate, dissipate.
There is simply so much water, so much waste.
This exchange takes so much and leaves so little behind.
Interaction 002 2014
Participants were brought into a closed room with chairs around three of the four walls. Each chair had a silk blindfold. I instructed them to put on their blindfolds. I was dressed much like a sort of fantasy librarian, grey pencil skirt, black camisole, cute but sensibly heeled black shoes, and semi-rimless glasses. Once the participants were blindfolded, I read them a poem off of an ebook reader. At the conclusion of the poem, I told them to remove their blindfolds and put them back on the chairs. Then I opened the door for them and asked them to leave.
What I read to them:
The Love Song of St. Sebastian
I would come in a shirt of hair
I would come with a lamp in the night
And sit at the foot of your stair;
I would flog myself until I bled,
And after hour on hour of prayer
And torture and delight
Until my blood should ring the lamp
And glisten in the light;
I should arise your neophyte
And then put out the light
To follow where you lead,
To follow where your feet are white
In the darkness toward your bed
And where your gown is white
And against your gown your braided hair.
Then you would take me in
Because I was hideous in your sight
You would take me in without shame
Because I should be dead
And when the morning came
Between your breasts should lie my head.
I would come with a towel in my hand
And bend your head beneath my knees;
Your ears curl back in a certain way
Like no one’s else in all the world.
When all the world shall melt in the sun,
Melt or freeze,
I shall remember how your ears were curled.
I should for a moment linger
And follow the curve with my finger
And your head beneath my knees—
I think that at last you would understand.
There would be nothing more to say.
You would love me because I should have strangled you
And because of my infamy;
And I should love you the more because I had mangled you
And because you were no longer beautiful
To anyone but me.
T. S. Eliot
A group of around 16 participants were brought into a closed room. I had them sit in chairs already set up around the perimeter and pair off with whomever they happened to sit next to. They were instructed to try to and find each others pulse at either the throat or the wrist (it was left to them to choose). At each chair there were hearing protection ear muffs which I asked them to be ready to put on as well. I instructed them that I would turn the lights off and turn them back on when the time was finished. I did not tell them how long it would be for. After three minutes, I gradually turned on the lights. I asked them to leave the ear muffs back on their chairs.