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Parma Manifesto

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 in News | 0 comments
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Parma Manifesto (1968)

(written for the appearance of M.E.V. in a happening organized by Jean-Jacques Lebel at the Festival Internazionale del Teatro Universitario, Parma in March, 1968)

In times of emergency men find it possible to perform operations necessary to survival without bureaucracy, police, money, and the other obstacles which normally obstruct the way to efficient behavior.  In such moments the organism, acted upon by forces beyond its control, is able to act, to respond to reality in an efficient manner.  It is forced to move, to create space for itself, in order to survive.  When confronted with the possibility of destruction, it discovers the alternative of creation.

Seldom are men able to reap the fruits offered by such moments of crisis.  The memory of the higher state fades as suddenly as the danger which brought it forth appeared.  The greater part of the mind, called into action in moments of threat to physical survival, is content to relapse into a state of slumbering semi-awareness in the interim periods of tranquility.  It re-acts the roles which it invented in moments of creativity, applying them to a new reality which the creative act caused to come forth.  It drifts into dark, uncharted areas of the past, until tempestuous forces blow it back into the blinding light of now.

The organism is perpetually involved in a drunken balancing act, upon the high wire of the present, and over the abyss of the past, into which it rarely dares to glance.  In this precarious enterprise, it extends itself uncontrollably, until some more or less painful contact with the force of gravity forces it to move creatively.  The accuracy of this movement, the measure of its creativity, is determined by the awareness-level of the organism, the degree of its sensitivity to danger and salvation.

Normally human beings are open to the joyous pain of creation only in moments of immediate threat to individual survival.  Civilization produces forms of behavior conditioned by such limited sensitivity to the larger organic process, and excludes others which tend to expand such sensitivity.  In fact, the economy of minimum survival-efficiency on the level of the inidividual organism, which civilization by its competitive games systematically cultivates, is not sufficient to ensure survival.  It results in the cancerous growth of the total life process.

In the last sixty years, 100,000,000 human beings have been murdered by other human beings.  This number exceeds the sum of all who have been known to live and die in the course of human history up to that time.  In order to survive at all, I must do more than merely survive.  I must create.

To create means to be here and now: to be responsible to reality on the high highwire of the present.

To be responsible means to be able to communicate the presence of danger to others.

An artist is a person who lays claim to a heightened state of perception.  His perceptions are acts of communication dictated by a sense of responsibility to the life process.  He creates the sense of emergency in a state of tranquility, where there is no threat to individual survival, and where the spirit is free to e-merge, to extend its dimensions, to create space.

It is necessary now to create a new form of communication, through which human sensitivities can be awakened to the presence of danger on the highest level, and to the necessity for creation in order to avoid it efficiently.  This form is not telephones, television, newspapers; nor is it theater, music, painting…

As Baudelaire said, true civilization is not gas, electricity, or machines, but rather the diminution of the traces of original sin.

The most direct and efficient form of communication is dialog.  Dialog in its highest form is creation out of nothing: the only true creation.

An art form which aims for highest efficiency in times of highest urgency must be based on dialog.  It must reject the possibility of the impartial observer, present but not involved in the communication process, as contradictory to the idea of communication itself.

Such an art form must be concerned with creation out of nothing.  Its decisions cannot be governed by structures and formulas retained from moments of past inspiration, which it is content to re-arrange and re-interpret.  They must be born from marrying the moment, the creative moment in which the organism approaches reality so immediately that it is blessed with the perception of the highest possible future, which is its natural course toward joy.  Such an art form must be improvised, free to move in the present without burdening itself with the dead weight of the past.

Improvisation is the art of creating out of nothing: a lost art form.  It is necessary to rediscover this form and re-invent its rules, now.  It is necessary to embark upon a disciplined search for a new harmony.  Harmony is a process in which speaker and listener agree to communicate.  The responsibility for undertaking this voyage of discovery is everyone’s who may come into contact with these words.

(Frederic Rzewski)

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