This weekend ma and I went to see Pradera & Collaborators perform at Inkub8 (as in, to care for like a ma is supposed to care for a new-born baby) as part of the Subtropics Experimental Music and Sound Arts Festival. We went because we like to see people, music and sound collaborate to create a unified force field of hope. We also went because we are subtropical by nature and attracted to everything by gravity at the subatomic level. This performance leveled us just like love and lust level us all. Plus, our shoes and shirt matched the stage. We felt spatially relevant, again.
When the dancers, Carlota Pradera and Ilana Reynolds, took the stage, which was staged as if the audience wasn’t meant to see the stage like memories can be staged but never seen, ma cried because she instinctively recognized the danger in yarn. In “Looking Back”, the first performance of the evening, ma and I took off our sneakers because we are orange like Snooki and our feet hurt from eating too many hot dogs with mustard sauce.
Ma related to this piece at the generally human level because she’s always looking back at me looking back at her. But we had to look left to see what was going on. We also had to look underneath the stage props to see what was going on because the stage was blocked by stage props. We had to bend our bodies like the dancers bent their bodies to see what was going on beneath the surface. Ma got annoyed but through the bending of our bodies we understood that we all must bend to the past, genuflect in reverence to the memories that shape and misshape our haunted lives. We were traumatized.
When looking back at “Looking Back”, I remember the time I wrote about ma when she turned into a human rocking chair and contemplated the molecular structure of fire. I remember that the structure of ma’s rocking mirrored Pradera’s rocking on the floor. Her feet pitched at the exact degree ma’s were pitched. I pinched ma and she instantly pinpointed the exact memory in her head that related to my pinch.
“Looking Back” contained fire in ice and vice versa. There was also the danger of letting the threads strangle us. There was also the centrifugal force of the body of memory (and the memory of our body) that pulls us down and inward. In Newtonian mechanics, (not the mechanics of our sneakers but of science) centrifugal force refers to one of two distinct concepts: an inertial force (also called a “fictitious” force) observed in a non-inertial reference frame, and a reaction force corresponding to a centripetal force. Obviously, ma and I observed centripetal force on stage as the bodies, drawn in and impelled outward, formed a new center of gravity.
We circle ourselves as other selves.
We lose control of the control we never possessed or will ever possess. And, yet, there is the possibility of solace and comfort in a hand on a shoulder or a bare foot.
In “Looking Back”, we let go by letting the memories go even though memories are never gone or were ever there in the first place. Memories melt like ice melts into the body of the earth where it remains until we dig it up again.
Ma looked at me just like Carlota looked at Ilana as she climbed on top of her on the floor. They were surrounded by ice cubes. Ma lean into me and whispered into my ear that this is all bullshit. This is all bullshit, she said, again, a little louder. The man behind us told us to shut up. As we left the performance for intermission, I walked ahead of ma. Looking back, like I always do, I saw the bullshit melt in ma’s eyes.