Friday, April 11, 2008

Jeffrey Greenberg: Levitation

On some twenty occasions over the years 1981-83, I levitated. Sometimes this was a mere floating, at others, actual flying and swooping about.

I have stopped flying now in favor of less dramatic, more responsible acts. Levitation is amusing only for so long. In and of itself, it leads nowhere. Still, it was fantastic.

How did I levitate? The happy secret is not so much that I caused it, but that I permitted it to happen. You might think this was trivially easy: simply granting oneself permission to do something, but in these matters, where great pressure is exerted to stay in line, it is not so easy. Usually, I was exhausted and for several hours quite useless. This tiredness never diminished, not even over the repeated acts and it lessened the usefulness of the flying.

I didn't prepare to levitate; that is, I didn't wear any special clothing, diet in any way, change my breathing, nor attempt to hop into the air from the lotus position. Instead, I would be sitting in a chair, or pacing in my studio, thinking, gathering my thoughts--in some way gathering together a pool of anger--and, then, as if an explosion had taken place, I would be in flight.

I would tend to assume a kind of "zooming" position, leading with my chin, legs and arms following sometimes stiff, sometimes loose. Landing sometimes was a slow motion stroboscopic process, sometimes a simultaneous vanishing from flight and re-appearance at rest.

I have been silent about these acts till now, but they must be presented. Especially now when the imagination is so weak.

These levitations are difficult to take...I have trouble reconciling them with what is certain and solid. For one thing, I never tried to photograph them, because I feared nothing would show up; that all one would see would be a picture of a person sitting. So I can show no "proof." Even worse, I felt then that it was embarrassing, so I didn't invite anyone to witness these events; besides, I wasn't sure that it would even happen at a pre-designated time and place.

Six years later, I have no longing for those events to repeat themselves. I hope only to be involved in work that is more subtle, more imaginative (what could be more cliché than levitating), more communal.

Then, I thought these acts powerful...after all, who can boast that they have violated physical laws; are these not the acts of a super creature? Now, I see the desperation in that flight. Then I saw my acts as proof that reality could be radically interpreted. Instead, I think that I primarily experienced The Grip, the iron clench of culture; for how persuasive were these acts: are you levitating, or doing anything near those acts of flight? So, in that sense, they were a failure.

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