Return to the Void

Return to the void is the seventh in our Cross-pollination series, where writers respond creatively to performance. Jack Foster studies sociology and likes communism. Prior to PAWA Jack had never seen performance art before. Here he responses to “Opened and Examined” by Virtual Ritualist Collective.


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Again,

A choice.

Grinding terror;

Pathological ecstasy.

But soon confused,

The superhighway stretches out.

A sheer cliff, a drugged haze.

All this

Will soon end.

Grinding terror;

Pathological ecstasy.

The first piece to be performed in PAWA 2017 was billed as a trip into the void. But it seems the void in late capitalism is precisely its inverse—absolute excess, excremental imagery; layer piled on top of layer; confusion, disorientation, broken pieces, broken images, broken people. A journey into the void is a journey into excess, a journey into fear. But I’ve always felt a strange pull toward the aesthetic of late capitalism and its fractured psycho-sphere. The aesthetic of the contemporary metropolis—who isn’t fascinated in some sickly way by Los Angeles? Neon lighting, reflective skyscrapers—the dystopian city. They are alluring places: grotesque and mechanical, but with a perverse appeal; in them I desire something I know I shouldn’t.

In one way, the aesthetics of late capitalism make visible everything that’s wrong with the world; in another, they carry with them the promise of so many illicit desires, things that will distract and anesthetize. It is undeniable that capitalism has many treats to hand out. I think we traverse the edge of wanting a life delivered from the alienation and monotony of contemporary capitalism and wanting to sink deeper into the pleasures it has to offer, knowing all the while that these very pursuits carry within them the seeds of our own destruction, a destruction that is spiritual if not physical. The immiseration of life under capitalism leads us to pursue the very things that will destroy us spiritually and politically, that will keep us trapped forever in this world: impotent subjects unmoored from each other. We vibrate outward and away, only to return; locked in a pattern of circular shifts, we return to the void.

Writer: Jack Foster 

Editor: Sara Cowdell 

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