Performance Art

I’m in the middle of the Sea of Fertility Tetralogy so I thought I’d celebrate with a post.  Naturally the title itself has a certain historical irony.  When Yukio Mishima tried to wake his country from its slumber it rolled over gave his bloody corpse a pat on the back went back to sleep and forgot to reacquaint itself with its wife.  Japan right now is very much the opposite of the Sea of Fertility.  It is the island of afertility.  It hasn’t even gone through the motions enough to demonstrate real infertility.  I suspect this is the result of a spiritual death of an eccentric nation occupied by a strange insidious foreign religion.  Fortunately, for them they have failed to understand some of the most suicidal aspects of high democratic theory…maybe something was lost in translation?  Is green a central concept of high progressive theology, or maybe the ability to pronounce r’s?

I love performance art, it’s beautiful really.  People living/acting in a symbolic manner according to their beliefs.  Of course, when a progressive tries to do this it just looks awkward.  How does one physically manifest tactical nihilism?  Art like any other form of communication needs structure, nature, order: chaotic or otherwise.  The need for the term performance art is probably descended from needing to explain what the schizophrenic Anlgo woman was doing on the street.  No one needed to explain it before, their actions spoke for themselves.    That’s the problem with pluralism, it makes meaning, interpretation you know hard and stuff.

Does this really need an explanation?  Without context, we might not know who the actor and victim are but at the very least we know the kid thought the man with the microphone deserved to die.  Now that’s performance art.  Of course, the audience didn’t seem to enjoy the performance.  After all, they nearly crushed the poor boy, but such is the life of a starving artist.  He later provided a private performance in his jail cell.  It was very intimate or so I’m told.

Mishima himself decided that he should go out with a bang.  For his piece de resistance, Mishima practically reenacted a scene from the Sea of Fertility Trilogy.  This piece of performance art was never named but I’ll call it the conservative’s plea.

On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai, under pretext, visited the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp, the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.[14]Inside, they barricaded the office and tied the commandant to his chair. With a prepared manifesto and a banner listing their demands, Mishima stepped onto the balcony to address the soldiers gathered below. His speech was intended to inspire a coup d’état to restore the power of the emperor. He succeeded only in irritating the soldiers, and was mocked and jeered. He finished his planned speech after a few minutes, returned to the commandant’s office and committed seppuku. The assisting kaishakunin duty at the end of this ritual (to decapitate Mishima) had been assigned to Tatenokai member Masakatsu Morita, who was unable to properly perform the task. After several failed attempts at severing Mishima’s head, he allowed another Tatenokai member, Hiroyasu Koga, to behead Mishima. Morita then knelt and stabbed himself in the abdomen and Koga again performed the kaishakunin duty.

Another traditional element of the suicide ritual was the composition of so-called death poems before their entry into the headquarters.[16] Mishima planned his suicide meticulously for at least a year and no one outside the group of hand-picked Tatenokai members had any indication of what he was planning. His biographer, translator John Nathan, suggests that the coup attempt was only a pretext for the ritual suicide of which Mishima had long dreamed.[17] Mishima made sure his affairs were in order and left money for the legal defense of the three surviving Tatenokai members. -La Wik

What a performance.  Living out your principles, a living embodiment of a dead spirit.  Naturally the token security forces of an occupied nation are not samurai.  Mishima was performing for the wrong audience.  Unfortunately, this was a one-time performance, there was no chance for an encore.  Mishima himself knew how this word turn-out.  How do I know?  Well it happened the same way in his book.  Brave men conducted a beautiful performance, changed nothing and conducted ritual suicide: performance art.  I have a different philosophy about performance art.  This is not to say mine is the only way, just my preferred method.  However, I am not Japanese and they are welcome to their time-honored methods.

In an age of an arms race for the most attention-grabbing act, it’s long past time to consider the principles of performance art. Let’s keep in mind that our audience are those that share our cultural and tribal exosemantics.  Sure there are reasons for, and methods by which one would communicate with outsiders. Art can be one of them, but in order to communicate there must be an exchange of meaning (this could be unilateral).  This may seem like a strange point, but pluralism and its retarded glue sniffing crayon eating cousin tactical nihilism aren’t particularly good at the whole meaning thing.  There are certain elements of the human condition that cross cultures, yet funnily enough they seem to fall into two camps.  Brahmin signaling and traditional signaling.  I’m not a perennialist but there are certain forms which have strongly reoccurred across human cultures.  Believe it or not, even before there was television or even radio people across the world could appreciate each other’s art and not just because they talked like fags.  Of course not all performance art even of the traditional kind can cross cultural barriers and not all cultures seem to be able to communicate (hence, I’m not a perennialist).

The ability to carry symbolic meaning through action is at the heart of performance art.  It is one of the key functions of exosemantic signaling.  Part of the day to day maintenance of any cultural commons is not just the productive actions people take but their symbolic ones.  Performance art, among its many functions, serves as a way to remind each other that we are in a cultural environment.  Repetitive and predictable symbolic gestures reinforce the greater cultural context in which people exist.  In a small town in Denmark, they don’t literally go around saying “Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane.”  Yet their actions implicitly signal Dane.  These signals reinforce people expectations to act in a danish way.  In-group conformity isn’t just important when the going gets tough but passive signals which reinforce the environment.

When you grow up in an environment we become used to the performances around us.  Some people say 80% of communication is non-verbal.  Some people say 75% of statistics are made up.  Regardless, the amount of unknown knowns within the cultural framework is staggering (non-verbal communication being a prime example of unknown knowns).  The invisible world of performance art paints the boundaries that bind the initiated.  To the uninitiated they are merely a fog which punishes the senses.  The feeling of shock at the foreign, the alien, is the same painting which soothes the senses of the native.

If there is anything at the soul of atomization it is the loss of those daily and moment to moment performances of our extended family.  The familiar encapsulated in archetypal motion and the sights and sounds of place.  When I walk into such a place it is as if I came home again. It was fate, the call of power, the lust after its just rewards that brought us here.  I would trade every shred of the simulation of power for a healthy society.  But there is no bargain, no one to trade with.  No one wants to give it up, any of it: real, fake it doesn’t matter for their fated future must come to pass at any cost.

I look back on Mishima and his silent song, a performance for the ages.  A call to his brothers, his family, his empire to rise from the ashes again.  To have heart, to know their wives, to be with their family, for the emperor to know power once again.  He revoked change, and so produced a beautiful moment.  If there is anything that I can ask of you, it is to make something beautiful.  If culture dies, start anew like a lone choir member starting a harmony.  This is not a call to a culture war.  There is no one to awaken.  It is the long-suffering dedication to an art long lost but that must go on.  The symphony of our homes must live on, there will be time for power, but for now there is little time enough for beauty.








Performance Art

3 thoughts on “Performance Art

  1. One does have to appreciate Mishima’s effort. It may have proved fruitless, but like you say, his end was, in the Japanese context, an artistic statement which will maybe one day be recognized by that country, though there is little sign of such recognition yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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