To whom it may concern,
I am concerned.
How anyone can leave An Enemy of the People in love is beyond me. Alas, I fear I have assumed this cruel fate. And this weekend of all weekends… well, it appears some higher power mocks me.
Of late I have had fleeting thoughts about negative space. I am no artist, and do not possess a definitive knowledge of this phenomenon, but I believe this shouldn’t deter me from having an opinion, and thus conception, either way. If Piers Morgan can judge talent, then by rights you must afford me this perversion.
You see, I have been thinking of various “things” in terms of their negative space. For example, a black hole – presumably the negative space that sets the black hole itself out as matter, or focus, in the foreground is ironically the positive space that is sucked into the negative void that is the anti-space of a black hole. A curious paradox, though perhaps somewhat linguistic, maybe even churlish.
- The social mass – or “strong majority” – carved out by the negative space of the “outside” that, when thought of in terms of a defining characteristic that sets a majority aside, itself becomes a majority: the negative majority.
- The individual, so named because of individuating categories or criteria: a name, a certain shape of nose; likes and dislikes; political leanings; gender, sexuality – the enunciation of all that individuates merely making a homogeneity of heterogeneity. The negative space again triumphs, where definition, or foregrounding, destroys that which it presupposes.
What is Ideal in all this mess? What is Utopian?
Perhaps it is the ability to see the whole (no pun intended).
As I battled with thinking of positive as anything but negative, and negative as consistently proving positive, I had the image of a person trying to watch two television screens simultaneously. Unflinching. Entirely devoted to both, and neither, all at the same time. It is much like appraising with your head what your heart has already made its mind upon – and rebutting the “rational” of your head in favour of that orchestra of butterflies that makes your heart aflutter.
The Ideal. Utopian. Perfection. An impossible fiction.
Perfection must contain the imperfect, or it cannot be said to be perfect. And in containing the imperfect it is clearly imperfect in itself.
The perfect theatre, complete with a-positions, a-politics, total harmony in which we may all bask and think nothing of anything but the passing of time; an impossibility and, quite frankly, a bore.
The perfect story: so perfect that it exhaust all possible narrative avenues, narrative subjects and narrative interpretation, and thus needn’t be told, and therefore doesn’t exist. It is no longer a story.
Now this is different. The perfect love, that contains the imperfect (if I may be so bold – what, really? – and assert the imperfection is held by the sheer perplexity of Cupid’s fever) and thus cannot be perfect, but who cares? because love is better than perfect – Love’s ability to perplex us to the point of being utterly unable to conceive of it, instead just knowing that it is there, this ability is perhaps the very form of Love itself. It champions perfect and sends it on its merry impossible way.
Love so perfect that it needn’t be told, but is anyway, because we bloody well want to tell it, and in being told it does not cease to be love like the perfect story that self-nihilates; or the perfect theatre that misses the point – or indeed doesn’t have one at all.
Why is this?
Positive and negative. The two screens. What it is, and what sets it out to be that which it is. Perfection, and imperfection: but there isn’t Love and Imlove….nonlove…antilove…
No. It is the pure negative space. Never settling, defining, resting, or in opposition – and yet it is always there, in the wings, an omnipresent referent. Free Thinking, that is never thought, but always thinking and in that sense free – nomadic.
Why should any of this matter and, more importantly, why should it matter to you in particular?
I said I left An Enemy of the People in love. And I did. Because it has convinced me that we’re all IN love, we just might not be aware of it. I am not proclaiming that a great mysterious subtext of said Ibsen classic is a self-rendering definition of love, by any means.
Merely that, on leaving, and while reflecting, I had this somewhat unkempt revelation – I made a discovery, if you will – and thought I would share it with you. This revelation I found in the negative space around Ibsen’s text, so vociferously brought to life by your good selves: outside of the perfect, outside of the positive space impressed by your show, I think I found Tomas’ very own positive space…
…Love is Free Thinking. It is nomadic. It is the minority that stands alone yet assumes complete control to the detriment of its being understood. It is a pariah, and martyr, despised and revered all at the same time. It is positive and negative at once – and as such….the pure negative space that fleetingly sets out the positive, only to withdraw back into itself to avoid compromise.
I’m losing myself again.
Of course, I have covered my tracks by addressing this letter to Whom it may concern, and so if this doesn’t concern you in the slightest, I have not presumed too much.
To finish, then, let me say that it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and you were all superb. Consider this the most absurd fan mail you have ever received or, indeed, the most plasto-philosophical Valentines letter you have ever come across.
In truth, though, I have no agenda.
I hope “no agenda” makes a refreshing change.
Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day.