|Extract from an essay to be published (Editions MUSEE L'ORGANE)|
obscurum per obscurius
We scatter ashes, as if it is only once death has been declared that we can envisage the body multiplied and its absorption by the world.
The only double we generally accept is that we see reflected in a mirror. Yet, imagine that a flash suddenly brings it to life and the thought is unnerving. One wrapping defines one individual -step past this symbolic frontier and you can envisage the floodgates opening to a terrifying expansion of the boundaries of thought and all the realms of possibility
The Internet is precisely such a space apart, where, having finally become virtual, the body can, without risk, divide, dilute itself and imagine itself ubiquitous. Nothing then remains but the substance, the originator, the individual who produced the first impulse.
E.T. plunged into a virtual world as if into an experience which echoed his own from 1983 -an experience of legal non existence which forced him to endlessly redefine himself on the edges of reality.
The legal guardianship of mentally incapacitated adults, laid down as a postulate of life, effectively equates to erasure from the social record, to a removal from the world which electrifies the essence of the individual, in other words, the body and soul.
Leaving judges to take on the responsibility of enshrining his existence
in law, that of an individual under legal control and his other self,
its mirror image, his deepest inner part, who, of course, they could never
control, E.T. marked out, on this dual track on which he traveled incessantly
back and forth, the boundaries of a space where, under the weight of coercion,
he found freedom.
He lived with dark ways residing in his flesh, he threw his whole physical being into his secret quest, experiencing dangers at the surface of his emotions and bringing the infinitely sacred to the surface of the legal.
Freedom to lead his life with full knowledge of how things really are -crossing a minefield or an obstacle course, he embarked, with enormous self-discipline, on a path where the law was weakened by being too present.
This was a journey of initiation which put the body to the test, in as much as the battle and resistance became constant, each action in the end leading inevitably (like a disability) to its continuation into the legal sphere. It was in this undefined area that E.T. was to enact his experience.
So films, like referees, play the role of witnesses, and at the limit of the impression made by the body in reality, their single viewpoint is duplicated as it is bounced back to them. From the fissure emerges the point of non-return for the "I".
"I", which beyond its psychiatric manifestation, experiences the irreducibility of the "being".
E.T. accompanies his journey with symbolic images -on one hand the great book of the law, on the other the Great Book which is the Bible. Between them, with neither god nor master, but always seeking meaning and direction, walk his flesh, his thoughts and his relationship with society. Each time, he is tested, the end molded by suffering, in self-abnegation.
Leaving the outer body, dissolving, becomes just another way of rediscovering
his essence. It is in the multiplicity of images, their accumulation over
the time that actions last, that he deconstructs and reconstructs himself.
In 1980 E.T. became an adult -the age they call carefree, when people usually rush to take their place in the social order. It is difficult though, in this day and age, to take side roads in all innocence. The end of this century looks after itself, it dreams of finishing with and marks the death of the avant-garde.
Finding reasons to hope then becomes an impossible battle.
On the contrary, he put himself under its constant gaze. The freedom he gave himself was still only that of the freedom to weigh up the tiny part where it could continue to function within himself.
As Cain under a staring eye constantly on watch from the shadows of the tomb, he thus moved forward, reflecting an image whose strength was to lie in transgression and thus in humanity.
It was while under supervision that he questioned the system, constantly doing things that clashed directly with the machinery of the legal system; so that he can now relate this absurd story in which each setback underlined the flimsiness of the original case.
This picture of life under legal guardianship can only belong to tragedy. Indeed, to think of yourself as experimental terrain implies a huge degree of honesty, so it is to be expected that this initiatory chapter will be written with savagery.
If we were verging here on the limits of the law and propriety, perhaps all that would be left would be an appalling vacuum. Yet E.T. survives his eradication from the social arena with the energy and awareness of a man who has a cross to bear.
He believes that only suffering is capable of sublimating his actions, so it rushes hither and thither, from the foot of his bed to the entrance of his domain.
It is suffering which breathes a form of the sacred into his journey, which puts a price on his Redemption. The dispersion which finds its meaning in the emptiness of the law is that of the body divided. The dimension of this course is necessarily Christian. Suffering, sin, morality, all the ingredients of a high mass are scattered along a road which refers endlessly to the Stations of the Cross between damnation and eternal bliss.
Every day E.T. put himself in a position where he was not only accountable for his actions but also proved that life can be lived outside codified norms and within the spiritual domain.
Under the omnipresent eye of the judicial system, he wandered and fragmented himself as a strategy for survival. Geographically he escaped, not his physical self but his morally responsible double as laws define it, legal worlds within legal worlds.
From this moment on, fundamentally like an Internet structure; in a network in which the notion of "I" now defined itself only in the mirror of the process.
Yet, from one country to another the law is changing and is being modelled on patterns established as the result of history, culture and politics. Travelling the world selecting such diverse definitions could only result in his defining himself on the most essential criteria.
Moreover, as he stresses, the Internet continues for him to be a metaphor of the divine, an agora of ethers.
The more rigid the framework he imposed on himself, the stricter the rules, the more he could hope to escape. What in truth would escape from this non-life, was his soul.
He has yet to take his body to the limits of that which perceives it. Ultimately, however, the process will be the same as with his legal body, verging on complete dissolution in order to become nothing more than a rite of passage. He could have confined himself to playing solitary private games and to intimate talk, yet he preferred more radical exposure of himself and contributed to networks which by their clandestine nature have a "terra incognita" flavor.
Talking to others, changing body and sex, he at once placed himself as
someone privy to the ways of the initiated.
Here too, he makes his search systematic and turns to each religious, ethnic and social group, he enters and penetrates everywhere, from one side of the river to the other, he passed from light to darkness. The spiritual and social fabric he inspects is as ordered in what is revealed as what is seen paraded in the full light of day.
He puts a fundamental problem to each of us: how can a person deemed incapable of running their own affairs take part in the communion of mind and spirit?
Of course, if pure mind and body there be, it would be his, permeated in every direction by the great void of the law -a black hole in which the amalgamation of all Good and Evil is said to be engulfed whose secreted suffering is said to result in its reality. "I think therefore I am", "I suffer therefore I exist" he says succinctly.
Chaos, it is well known, was the beginning of everything, and at the limits of disorder, E.T. is convinced he should focus on the stigmata of the mind and spirit. Thus the crucifixion is a symbolic icon that suits him. The embodiment of forgiveness sacrificed, offered through pain, resonates along a road only justified in the extinction of self.
E.T. continues to work on the idea of the solid and the void, he fills in, piles up, and increases the number of images. Fragmented, he can do no more than leave a place for that indefinable thing -the soul.
With the Internet, he has, in short, found an appropriate way of functioning which echoes his life. Here geography is blown away, the legal system is at a loss, being everywhere is the norm and the network offers a new structure for the social arena.
This is said to be a new
which will at last make it possible to believe that the world can still,
if not change, at least dream.
In 1999, as the century ended, he was able to leave his guardianship and non-status behind him and return to the social contract at the very moment it was disintegrating.
The Internet redefines the individual and the role of the author in a mass of constantly shifting information. E.T. is an expert on author's rights, and for good reason. In a virtual world, it is still the "I" who can fight best.
ad augusta per angusta
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