Comedy and Tragedy
text by Eleanor Clare, 2014, published in NEVERODDOREVEN, Deuxpiece and Buro fur Problem, Basel
I was frantic, feeling a little sick and dizzy, but determined to carry on.
What had to be done, had to be done. It was a desperate attempt.
It was a hollow action.
It was just doing for the sake of doing.
It was doing to find some momentary release from the feeling of total inertia, of being stuck.
Now I must talk of hollow laughter.
Some say it is the laughter of a psychopath: cold, hard, unfeeling.
I say it is simply laughter at the end of the tether.
They say, if you don't laugh you'll cry.
I have been laughing this way.
I cry until I laugh, and laugh until I cry.
There is not much in between, but for an empty and desolate expanse stretching out ahead.
When I am laughing, I do not know if the laughter itself feels unreal, or if I myself am unreal.
It seems like I have been caught by something I cannot quite grasp.
I am in its grip: the grip of humour.
Watching myself on a screen, I make myself laugh, for I am hysterical.
Here I am comedy.
I laugh a senseless, reasonless laughter that has no meaning, other than to shake and move in a way that is ridiculous.
It is laughter in the extreme, because it cannot end until it reaches the opposite pole: tragedy.
"Emotions exist beyond time, as the pulse of pure physical connection to the world and its music.
Like music, they are a form of movement _ the origin of the word emotion lies in the Latin, emovere, to move out, remove, agitiate."
Through the grainy unsteady image and the sound, distorted by low quality compression, it
seems like something is trying to break through. The first few seconds sound like noise
pulled through a synthesizer, screaming and kicking as it emerges, fighting for life in its new
digital form. Something about it is alarming, frightening, tortured and angry. It is half-formed,
raw and unrefined. Streaks of red and white light flash across the screen.
It is an arena for action. Something about this situation that is chaotic; yet there is an
element of control. The driver makes tight circles around a central axis. At first this is
demarcated by a traffic cone, but as things proceed, the silhouette of a young man moves into the
centre. The car stops and revs up, creating billows of smoke in the air, obliterating vision for
a few moments. As the car skids and screeches, I feel a sense of alarm. This is coming close to
disaster for the lone, central figure, potential victim of the anonymous driver, a sacrifice for
the entertainment of onlookers. I can sense also the collusion. One figure willingly places his
trust in the other. There is a tension between these two.
A smoky, fiery object is spinning recklessly. One might say things had spun out of control.
Not quite though; for to completely lose control would mean total destruction. It would mean the
end. It all went up in flames. This is a sudden, intense and short lived burst of energy. More
like a supernova than the sun, and more akin to a meteor careering around a planet, than a planet
orbiting the sun. It was more than this, though. This scene was not simply about objects in space;
it was human. It was a game or a task, perhaps even a ritual.
Although I can identify it as a human activity, shot through with the implications of one's
relationship to another, from my vantage point it also seemed anonymous. In the dark, these
figures could be anyone, totally unrecognisable by the light of day. In this moment they had a
relationship to one another. Certainly for the two central protagonists, it was one of great
significance and trust. At any other time, on any other level, it was unclear. In this sense, the
action had become symbolic. The figures could be understood as archetypes. Ones which, for reasons
I cannot yet identify, I associate with the masculine.
In the threat of a loss of control, images had already flooded my mind. I remember as the
helicopters circled in the air above my house one evening in August. I had no idea why it was
happening, but this circling was incessant, the noise repeatedly coming close and fading away,
swelling and receding, but never quite out of my consciousness. It always gives me a slight sense
of unease, the idea of something being under surveillance, coupled with the notion that something
might be wrong. Why this surveillance from such a great height? It is a safe distance for the one
who watches. Then I remembered the destruction that had taken place, just minutes away from my home.
The aerial images of buildings and cars set alight, and rioters surging through the streets, anonymous
from this point of view. London's Burning.