Towards a theatre of pure eventuality: an ontogenetic reading of Sarah Kane’s Crave
Knijff I Massip, Alba
The main purpose of this dissertation has been to affirm the non-representative power of Kane’s latter work, as opposed to the movement ex negativo by which Crave’s formal features had been conceptualised as representative of crisis. We have shown how the rigorous architecture of representative thought conceives of the theatrical event within a hierarchical system based on sedentary distributions: an a priori ‘reality’ and a ‘meaning’ (the playtext) which need to be realised on-stage through entities re-presentative of time, action and characters; and consequently, how the immanent becoming of performance becomes subjectified to an ‘abstract movement’ of mere re-presentation (Chapter 1). For this, we have proposed an alternative approach, premised upon ‘difference’ and ‘pure immanence’ as ontological precursors of a theatre of pure eventuality – immanent in itself (Chapter 2 and 3). Moreover, we have seen how Crave disrupts the doxa of the representative ‘Image’ by presenting a ‘world without identity’ instead of a mimetic cosmos; fluxes of creation and destruction (intensities), rather than characters; the pure temporality of the eternal return as opposed to a cardinal time, inscribing ‘theatre’ in itself onto an immanent movement of becoming (Chapter 4). Summing up, by bringing representation and subjectivity to their undoing, Crave raises crucial ontological questions on how collective bodies are arranged and de-arranged through vitalistic encounters. As we have seen, to hold an immanent conception of drama as a theatrical event contributes to an affirmative understanding of the latter’s affective potentiality. More specifically, Crave’s formal undoing of the reified categories of ‘character’ and theatrical diegesis increases the power of the theatrical medium to bring aesthetic experiences onto an impersonal dimension; and, in so doing, it underpins the cruciality of artistic expressions in the creativeness of new modes of existence – that is, in grounding ever-new possible encounters amongst ‘forces’. As Rebellato contends, by overwhelming realistic structures, Crave’s intensely aesthetic experience becomes “perhaps the last remaining ground of collective universal sensations” (2007: 161). The pure affectuality that Crave sets in motion could be, therefore, conceived as pointing to an immanent transcendentality: its pre-judicative experiential condition, unmediatable through representative thought, allows intensities to circulate expropriating subjects from their ‘selves’, carrying the life of the theatrical event to its nonpersonal power, and thus, finally, ensuring the latter’s perdurability and ‘liveliness’ in a purely virtual, or transcendental field of immanence – “The obscure zone of an intoxication which will never be calmed” (DR 280). When Kane states: “Crave is very specific. It has very fixed and specific meanings in my mind . . . I’ve no intention of telling anyone what it means. So I can’t possibly expect to ever see the same production twice” (qtd in Roberts 98), her emphasis on production – the multiple actualisations of the play – suggests that ‘knowing what Crave means’ is no longer the purpose; the aim has shifted from speculative interpretation – based upon a represented identity – to ‘the strange reason’ of experimentation – or an experienced difference. In this sense, the meaning of Crave, as Kane suggests, must be said of its multiple becomings; representative mediation is subsumed by theatre’s nomadology – the ‘wild’ and ‘powerful’ immanent principle which always makes its expression simultaneously differenciated and indifferenciated, or, in other words, which turns the theatrical event into ‘A Life’ of singular becomings ‘yet to come and already happened’ (Deleuze 2001: 29). There is a sentence by the end of the preface to Difference and Repetition that binds the theoretical-philosophical discussion of the first chapter of this dissertation with the theatrical world of Sarah Kane – specifically, our fixation with Crave – and that is: “repetition is pathos, and the philosophy of repetition is pathology” (DR 290). The concept of pathos traverses Deleuze’s philosophy as a Whole, from its genesis to its ultimate object: it is the precursor of the real movement of thought, the ‘power’ (puissance) which affirms the differential movement of Being, and, most importantly, the fundamental category of the philosophy of the future (DR 12). Pathos refers neither to a subjective feeling of passive suffering, nor to an emotion that can be contained within the limits of an individuated ‘self’ or subject (see Terada 2014). Most importantly, pathos does not belong to representation. Deleuze explicitly defines it as a zone of indiscernibility between two multiplicities whose excessive force disrupts any representative or transcendental mediation: “this is not subjectivism, since to pose the problem in terms of force, and not in other terms, already surpasses all subjectivity (ECC 135). Pathos is, therefore, pure affectuality: the puissance of the ‘will’ and the ‘dark precursor’ (le sombre précurseur) of the eternal return; pathology, consequently, would postulate the science of affectuality. The replacement of ‘philosophy of repetition’ for pathology would come to condense the cornerstones of Deleuze’s differential ontology (1968), and yet make one step further into our actual consternation: it establishes the ultimate ontogenetic correlation between art and the science of concepts. It is only from a passionate understanding of ‘philosophy’ that we can apply Deleuze’s statement “repetition . . . implies an always excessive Idea of poetry” (DR 291) to the work of Sarah Kane. The importance of the work of art in Deleuze’s philosophy, as Jose-Luis Pardo points out, is vital. Philosophy cannot reach its full realisation without the undifferenciated domain of the work of art, for the latter’s resistance to the stiffness the actual, is precisely what affirms the vitality of thought. In these lines, our contention that Sarah Kane’s Crave foregrounds the forces of pathos, the philosophy of repetition, into the theatrical domain, is a non-restrictive reading directed at expanding, in turn, a philosophical conception of theatre and a theatrical conception of philosophy.