Nerve Harness

Nerve Harness. By Nicolas Osborn, 2009.

The concept behind the title “Nerve Harness” comes from the ‘movement’ of thought or ‘culture’ which could be presented in a highly simplified way by this filiation: Taoism-Antonin Artaud-Gilles Deleuze.

In Taoism, and in Chinese medicine and belief, the nervous system is understood as man’s intelligence; the body-mind that, at the beginning of last century, in France, Artaud struggled so much to promote. In this tradition, Cartesian dualism becomes highly redundant and obsolete, as does the whole concept of ‘dualism’ in Deleuzian philosophy. The body, which includes the mind, is one, and the nervous system is it’s intelligence.

In “Le Pese-Nerfs”, “The Nerve Meter”, Artaud writes, “…no works, no language, no words, no mind, nothing. Nothing but a fine Nerve Meter. A kind of incomprehensible stopping place in the mind, right in the middle of everything”. “Le Pese-Nerfs” has also been translated as ‘Nerve Scale’ and ‘Brain Storm’.

A ‘nerve harness’ could be understood as something which is constraining the nerve, or nervous system, holding it in check, strapping the nerve, like a straight-jacket harnesses a ‘lunatic’ in a mental institution. The nervous system’s expression is then corrupted by a ‘nerve harness’; an addiction, an alcoholism, a hyper-consumerism, a neurosis, and specifically, in Artaud’s case and this case, a language; a legitimate neuro-expression suppressed. An energy is harnessed, restrained, within. The understanding that an emotion is an energy, and that therefore a thought is, at its core, a neurological event, suggests that a suppressed emotion will live for years within the molecular structure of an organ, increasingly delayed and suffocated by the ‘nerve harness’, which becomes the corrupted means to survive the denial, whilst inhabiting a present body heavily weighted, ‘harnessed’ by the past.

Carl Jung: “Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering”.

As the character pours alcohol/water on the floor he pays his respect to the S/states, the S/state, the organ, the dead. Inherently, the man outside of the organ-isation of society, can perish, as a lion, reacting against, or he can become: a “body without organs”, child, a ‘cynic’, a ‘fool’, a nomad, a healthy ‘mad’man.

In many ways my monologue is a salute to Artaud’s radio play “To have done with the judgement of god” in which, speaking of ‘man’, he writes:

“When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom”.

The concept of becoming a “body without organs”, later adopted by Deleuze is very important to my practice. Through the media of moving image, text, spoken word, acting, sound and music I always hope to perform; improvise. By this I mean that with a method or preparation along with these media I always hope to set up a dynamic for an event or ‘encounter’ to arise. To allow the event, the performance to take place. To become a “body without organs”.

Artist statement, 2009.

With Ekua McMorris.

Close up and handheld shots of character, James Parkin.

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