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Very short stories to read at the bus stop.


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Someone Understands

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Spectacle is as spectacle does.

Spoken Word Night gets a bit more of an audience, and a rowdier one, than Performance Art Night. As you could imagine. No one knows what to expect from performance art typically, and that means fear. Afraid people stay away in droves.

My show is a combination, actually. I am dumb. My mouth, my vocal cords aren't up to actual speech. I know sign language, and I compose my own interpretive dances for my orations and my poetry.

I incorporate more than that into my act. I spend hours beforehand getting the mood of the lighting right, and that's quite a trick, considering that I start while it is still daylight. I rub substances into my body hair to waft relevant scents into the audience as I dance. I rustle handfuls of leaves and twigs and other small items. No one has ever figured out that they can ask, but I would allow them to taste me and stroke me as I move and chant in sign. It is not my intent to leave any questing sense unanswered.

I invert myself in the rafters and tell a story of the second level of canopy. Tonight I am smeared with fear and blood. I fling feathers and the stink of predatory birds as I tell the story of the theft of my son by a harpy eagle. I wish I could make the sudden swooping quicker, but there are limits. I am a sloth, after all.

Tonight I am gratified. Tonight there is one in the audience who is rapt. I can see in his eyes, in the twitch of his nostrils, in the quiver of his throat. Perhaps not as a bereft mother, but he understands. I see it in his sad, sad eyes.

He watches as I cry to the eagle to take me instead, or to take me also.

After fifteen or twenty times dancing this story, telling this dance, someone finally understands.

Tomorrow I can dance a different poem.

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Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

25th Oct 2009, 01:55   | tags:

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Viv says:

amazing idea :)

25th Oct 2009, 06:55

Dhamaka NLI says:

the need to communicate...and to feel the message has reached... anyone...
sad

25th Oct 2009, 07:51

It's a terrifying and heartbreaking problem for artists, and one that makes you feel sometimes like you're a complete foreigner to society. I was trying for a feel that would at least click with, if not overtly refer to, John Gardner's Grendel.

I tried to soften the blow a bit with the image strongly hinting that the member of the audience that understands best is the dog. :) It's often our animals that we rely on to understand us best and love us no matter what our problems are. I may have to retouch the image to make the dog more visible. It hardly shows up at all in the smaller version of the image for the mobile site....

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25th Oct 2009, 14:31

Dhamaka NLI says:

does it make me less of an artist that it's not a preoccupation of mine? Or do you think it's just a result of how I came to it all - an assumption (however erroneous) that if an editor thinks it worth commissioning that means at least some of his circulation will read it?

25th Oct 2009, 16:52

I don't think all artists have the same need to be understood, that desire for a connection... Some artists just put something together and throw it out there (or keep it to themselves, even) and never worry about what happens afterward in any way.

And there are artists who do need to know that there are people who are getting the message -- but know that the messages they send aren't so hard to decipher. Or if they are, the artists in question have actually met and talked with a few people who understand and know they're in the audience.... Knowing there's someone out there who gets it is quite often enough.

And getting an endorsement from an editor or a publisher or a curator or a producer or what have you -- some kind of gatekeeper who might find your work worth sharing to the rest of the world -- that counts for quite a bit. :)

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25th Oct 2009, 17:15

Thank you, Becky. :)

A bunch of my stories have animals in them that behave as human beings. I'm not sure why that is. It occurs to me that this is the second one a tree sloth has shown up in....

The more bizarre the stories are, the easier it seems sometimes to get across the important bits, the feelings or the actions. I really wish I understood why that is....

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27th Oct 2009, 01:44

We only store things in our brains in terms of comparison and contrast. We don't think in definitions; we think in simile and metaphor. That's why richness of experience improves out ability to communicate.... This is like that, that is like this. The more of this and that we have to draw on, the richer our vocabulary becomes.

Or words to that effect. :)

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30th Oct 2009, 05:02