Tim Etchells' 60-minute monologue Sight is the Sense that Dying People Tend to Lose First was performed last night by Jim Fletcher at the just-opened Fox Cabaret on Main Street as part of this year's PuSh Assembly line-up of sidebar industry talks, workshops, and performance events. The work is an apparent random assemblage of declarative statements, some of them proven and contiguous truths ("The earth takes a year to circle the sun," "A year has 365 days"), many more of them merely accepted and seemingly unrelated ones ("You can't stop people from dancing," "Women are attracted to men with a sense of humour").
A series of topic sentences without the discursive elaboration or interpretive support we expect in conversation or essay writing, the piece thus accrues its power iteratively and citationally. Cottoning on to the form of the piece very quickly, we are primed to wait for and then seize upon each successive utterance--the banal and the profound, the trivial and the homilitic in equal measure--registering their significance not in terms of their content, but rather their recognizability. And thus, perhaps, do we register our world, defining it in terms of what we already know (or think we know, or have been told we should know) rather than what we might yet discover.
In this respect, I was very struck by how the piece plays with a kind of philosophy of scale. In our ever accelerating information age, where we are bombarded with mega-bytes of data every day (and the corresponding algorithms, usually supplied by Apple or Amazon, to explain how we should use that data), we turn to the minutiae of daily existence to navigate the pathways of our lives. And out of this, as Etchells here suggests, we construct our own Causobon-like Key to All Mythologies.
A powerful work and a great way to launch this new venue.