This is the rhythm of the night,
this is the rhythm of my life.
I am watching you dance, sway your body to this music. It's dark and the strobing makes sure that I see you only in flashes, at a rate of 0.5 seconds per frame. What I see is perhaps the most seductive version of you; you glowing in your sweat, you have a half smile, your eyes are half opened because of all that ketamine we’ve taken, but I have to tell this you–you’ve never looked more beautiful. Your head bobs to the beats, your chest thumps, sweat glistens through your neck and your hips move to the rhythm of the music. I could watch you dance with this strobing and sweat all night long, but at this point the music takes over my body, my eyes shut and I start moving.
This is a dance hit.
Dark spaces make for lighter beings; I am going to register every stimuli that I get, as it is my record that this night occurred. We get out at 6 am and the light is just starting to change. I imagine twilight to be the zone of Iblis, where he would move in all his glory. Twilight is also the time that I would pray for the night to never leave. My body is still recuperating from all those movements it has made and I am still moving–though I am not at the club, I am in the street. I am still moving a week after that night, and it just doesn’t seem to end. These moments take hold of me, and I now realise that my body is a variable–it would modulate to any frequencies and start moving. My body is an indeterminate vector that constantly modulates.
At this point, I want my body to modulate and reconfigure itself to twilight. Imagine the sky is strobing, the residual ambient noise is modulated to sound as if we are in a club and the DJ who is playing the mix is tuning into my frequency; what I see are versions of pink, purple, peach, and orange mixed with blue. This sounds like what caressing would feel like. This is what it is like on K.
"A schizoid body that does not have any difference between a metaphorical enunciation and tends to take the metaphor as a description. This body then occupies a territory of an entirely unknown rhythm that operates in and of itself.”[A] Molecular modulations forming chain reactions that result in constant variables; a potentiality is unleashed and all bodies are vectorial.
We started out within a closed system and we knew that entropy would keep increasing. Heat transacts for equilibrium. Thermal exchanges resolve themselves to form zero-sum games.
Entropic systems are not chaotic.
The Sun would die out, or transform into its red phase in about 4.5 to 5 million years. The red phase is a dying phase in the life of a star, where it expands to enormous volume. Compression and decompression at celestial scales. A compression and decompression of a body, that closes onto itself.
The case of a Solar Catastrophe would present itself as a limit. Catastrophe, in its Greek etymology, Kata-strophe, a mis-turning or over-turning, delineates that limit. To imagine this would be to imagine the ultimate death-drive and in turn to imagine the edge of thought itself. Edges, like thoughts, rest on membranes and are volatile. They exist in their own primacy, not-yet embodied—as nebular and amorphic.
The horizon that is given by this proposition is of an equilibrium, but also of death—towards the end of thermal exchanges, and towards our own phantasmagoria; our necrophilia. This is a movement that is a propulsion for negentropy and this desire for negentropy, is necrophilic.
My night caresses, always caresses. The hesitation is constant.
I am in an Uber getting from point A to point B, and this distance is equivalent to the distance between exaltation and exhaustion. Exalted minds; exhausted bodies, exalted bodies; exhausted minds: ecstatic conditions. The interchange between them is similar to the interchange in a subway station. Destinations pre-marked; departure points fore-known; the journey—pensive.
I am moving in space and carving it out, moving to feel my spine stretch; a cobra, a cat, a fish. I feel it in 33 vertebrae. My shoulders moving right, right up, right down, try and make a circle with them, try different platonic forms, do this with the left shoulder, move them both in sync, or not in sync. Form rhythms. Raise my arms, elbows in line with shoulders, hands stretched. I am counting, watching my body move with my mind. Move my leg, bend down upright, make curves with my hip.
Move my body.
Move my body.
Move my body.
Move my soul.
Imagine this: Your body is in an ice cube of 6 by 6 by 6 feet that moves and carves itself in space, leaving traces of your movements within the cube. What I would see, would resemble a multiple exposed three-dimensional photograph of the movements that you made for your body to exist at this point in time. My body takes different shapes and is alien. It is a skin that thinks and a brain that dances.
Time, space, gravity—nothing moves, there is no edge. My body is responding to these sounds that are thrown at it. My consciousness has morphed into a gravitational pull that has no focal point. I am oscillating. The dizziness is not just a sensation, but also a direction which I shall follow. These are force-fields of potentialities. A potentiality that relies on verbs and pronouns:
These are movements which become actions and substitutions, that are markers to the subject. The subject here is dancing, but also the body that one is dancing to, dancing alongside, and also the body that is a spectre. The body that occupies the space of a metaphor and a question. The body that exteriorise potentialities that it receives along the wavelengths of the music, in turn exteriorising itself. The resulting frame is what Massumi calls an intersubjective frame, where one is defined by intersubjectivity. Within this frame, the temporal axis turns into a spatial axis, hence it never becomes at-one-time, but is always-already.[B] One is always-already dancing, and never at-one-time danced. These are also repetitive movements, that are singular; as each repetition is a modulation of a pre-figured, unknown event corresponding to an unstable sonic environment. This is a sonic body. The sonic body relying on its own variations and modulations that it could perform, recognising its own incorporeality–here incorporeality is read as potentiality. A relational body to acoustic environments whose mark is left within a series of improvisations and modulations. “The sonic body begins at material vibration, but it is always potentially the start of something more: an incitement to thought, movement, collective transformation. It is a transducer through which the bio-physical conditions of sonic experience are converted into various sonic-cultural trajectories.” [C]
Move my body.
The spatiality of the night is a Temporary Autonomous Zone[D]: a zone where bodies are vectors, a zone where time functions on what movements are made by this vector, along with other vectors. There is no one body. This is time which is suspended in memory and in recollection–bold, highlighted. This is time where all kink is care, and all care is sexual. Time that functions in how I raise my hands, bend down, move my hips. Communality is an axis on which sound is thrown, the sound through which we move, and the sound through which we make space for each other. Communality is the axis on which I say: I see your body move, I recognise it, I respond to it, I react to it, and we move together.
Sweat glistening through your skin, shimmers on your body.
There are beings made of fire. A fire that is smokeless, dark and cold.
In accepted traditions of the Hadith, Azazil is made of fire, not of the light of angles, even though he sits beneath the throne of Glory. When God creates Adam, God commands the angels to bow down to him - as only human is microcosmic. Azazil refuses. He claims his superiority to the physic over the material. For this, God curses him and Azazil becomes Iblis. Iblis, as we know him, is the Peacock Angel, Black Light and the Tresses of a Lover.
There are three Sufi Saints that read this and regard Iblis as a true monotheist. The first and best known was Husayn Ibn Mansur Al-Hallaj. In his book the Tawasin, written in Baghdad in 922, he told this story:
"[ Sayedina Musa (Moses) ] met Iblis on the slope of Sinai and said to him: “Oh Iblis, what prevented you from prostrating?” He said: “That which prevented me was my declaration of a Unique Beloved, and if I had prostrated I would have become like you because you were only called upon once to “look at the mountain” and you looked. As for me, I was called upon a thousand times to prostrate myself to Adam and I did not prostrate myself because I stood by the Intention of my Declaration” .
Sayedina Musa said: “You abandoned a Command?”
Iblis said: “It was a test. Not a command.”
Sayedina Musa said: “Do you remember Him now?”
Iblis said: “Oh Musa, the pure mind does not have need of memory — by it, I am remembered and He is remembered. His remembrance is my remembrance, and my remembrance is His remembrance. How, when remembering ourselves, can we two be other than one? My service is now purer, my time more pleasant, my remembrance more glorious, and now I serve Him for Himself.” [E]
Bodies move as language, filled with suspense.
Binding feet, hands, arms, and legs.
Bodies blackened, burnt by intent.
Igniting futures, instinct in your head. [F]
While writing this essay, I was constantly thinking of adding images to it. Images that trigger for me what this movement is, what it does, and how it feels when a body makes such movements. I kept moving towards images that showed states of transition. At this point you could say all images are transitory. But here my question became how does one put forth a sense of embodiment, a visuality that is highly visceral and sensual, without falling into tropes of the kind of images we already see associated with dance culture. I was looking for a sensuality that is quotidian and does not rest in the body.
“Time nips me with reptilian fangs.
I have relapsed: love of you now
is my only possession, like a dervish’s rug.
Desire has become my alchemic quintessence.
I was a monk in my devotions
but now I snore through morning prayers
& hock my holy books. My brain
dysfunctions, I reason in snatches.
My eye must have sinned…
was that not sin? To see the Sun
at Midnight shining from the boy's bed,
and to say “Light of my eyes,
this creditable insanity is for you
& you are the only therapy: bite me,
Lick me with your mouth...” [G]
The beginning of this is inconsequential, as most beginnings are. What really is of consequence is that we ended up at a techno gig, where the sweat of our bodies was measured by the distance between us, for each of us wanted to be disenchanted by the other, and we were sweating profusely. Dancing is a language and a game; a game that was played through the night.
Heat. Cut to a microscopic image of a gut. The sense of my consciousness is being fucked with and what I am seeing now is tubes, coloured red. A red that glows with every expansion and contraction that is being made between us. I try and hold you, engulf you, but I have no sense of my body, nor yours. I have no sense of the force I am exerting in my grip to hold you, to contain pressure between us. I am moving so that I can be with you, upon you, on you, in you.
We are in an eternal oroborial system that dancing is generating. Our bodies are now vectors because of these incessant continuous variables. It feels like inertia that would never reach any equilibrium.
This is more than inertia
This is more than longing.
This is more than memory.
This is a dance hit.
A - Berardi, F. (2019). Futurability: The age of impotence and the horizon of possibility. London: Verso.
B - Massumi, Brian. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.
C - Jasen, Paul C. Low End Theory: Bass, Bodies and the Materiality of Sonic Experience. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.
D - Bey, Hakim. The Temporary Autonomous Zone. Denver, Co.: Pirated by H M V Þ Þ M, 1991.
E - Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1993.
F - Bodies, Kode9 & The Spaceape, Memories of the Future, Hyperdub, 2009
G - Abū Nuwās al-Ḥasan ibn Hāniʼ al-Ḥakamī , and Hakim Bey. O Tribe That Loves Boys: the Poetry of Abu Nuwas. Amsterdam: Entimos Press, 1993.
__________________________________ Acknowledgements, in no particular order
Audio in listening order: Electronic Rhythm Number 4, Black Mill Tapes Vol. 2, 2011.
Tronik Youth, Death Rattle (Jonathan Kususma Remix), Death Rattle EP, 2016
Jamblu, Mass heat, Bone Ringing EP, 2019
Mr. T.C., This is a Dance Hit, Soundtrack For Strangers, 2015
~ end ~
This text was performed as lecture performance as part of the Instituting Otherwise Project Space in New Delhi, 2019.