Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A dream about my teachers (Looking for the teachings of a brain that knows how to tell stories)

I was very tired, I was supposed to write a text about my work with Butoh; I felt devastated: even though I am a man who has come to maturity and has dedicated himself to the performing arts for many years, I am still like a child when it comes to Butoh... a beginner who, thanks to his background, learns things fast, moves forward without restraint and has managed to find the teachers needed to start a real career in it, but in the end I'm still a beginner. After several exhausting drafts, I succumbed to a nap, the kind that saves one from suicide - even if just metaphorically - or simply from depression.

In the delirium of falling asleep I began to feel as when I was a child, afraid of dying and never getting to grow up, asking to hear voices that would tell me what to do, voices of inner teachers who could teach how to continue with my work and believe in it.  The dream did not disappoint:
I dreamed I was at my parents’ house (a house that is not my house anymore) and that a party was being prepared with the exact layout of furniture as we used to do:  moving it near the walls to have more space and welcome a large group of people. The main guest for this event was famous Butohka Ko Murobushi - who’s never been my teacher -, who was appreciated by all the guests, especially the Europeans, a group of wealthy married couples that were art lovers.  After quite a long time at the party and in a kind of almost erotic seduction consisting of glances between an older man and a young man, I came to find myself sitting next to him, and we started talking.  In his slow, methodic Japanese accent - he spoke in English - he exposed part of his work, that of his teacher Hijikata, and also exposed some personal views.  Nevertheless I sensed he was not telling the whole truth, that something was not quite clear, that he was not talking about his real relationship with him.  I wanted to hear his fears, his desires, his true exchanges with the teacher. He drank constantly (the Japanese I know like to drink a lot), and at some point his talk began to change, and became somewhat distant; then I asked him a direct question about his fears when he found himself all alone once his teacher was not there any more (Hijikata died relatively young, before he turned 60, in the eighties).   Murobushi then began to expose himself in a strange way: his skin flushed like all Asians when inebriated, his speech became ever more difficult to understand, he was slapping the table with his hands, gently but firmly; he was in a trance.  I told him I did not understand what he was saying anymore, and he began to cry; he said that what he was doing - babbling - was what he heard from his teacher, that his teacher was incomprehensible to him, that he was alone, that he had to go on alone trying to discover those words that he had never understood when they were said by Hijikata.  He got up and tried to talk more, but his pain didn’t let him.  The foreign married couple (now there was only one) hugged him, and soon more people came and he was embraced by dozens of guests, being comforted because he was admired.  Me, trying to apologize, explained all I was doing was have a conversation with him.

I really did not know what to do, I did not know what to make of a man I considered a great master of Butoh and who I thought was going to clarify the way I needed by telling me about his own experience.

Disappointed and leaving him while he was being comforted by those foreigners and guests I went to where my family was seated as they used to in the reunions at my maternal grandmother’s place, with all the chairs with the backs to the wall and the old relatives looking into the open space in the middle of the room where the guests stood and the children played: they were there, my mother, my older sister and my teacher Antonio González Caballero, who had the appearance of my grandmother when she was over 90 years old.  He - who was her too - was smiling because of what I had experienced with Murobushi and he tried to explain to me what had happened, and he did it in the same way that my teacher used to do in other situations, but there was a problem, he felt uncomfortable in his seat and he couldn’t explain himself clearly either.  Then I tried carrying him to another more comfortable armchair - his body felt exactly as if it were my mother's body at 80 years old -.  When I sat him into the other seat, his head hit a shelf on the wall, gently, but that was enough for him to pass out because of the blow.  Everyone came to see the unconscious grandmother, and I knew that because of my action my teacher was sleeping - or dying -, I realized he would no longer be able to talk to me. His face was that of my old mother asleep, his sitting was like my maternal grandmother at 90 years old, his presence was that of my theatre teacher.

I had caused such chaos at the party demanding teachings from those who suffered because of them or who were too old or dead to say anything of value to me!

Should I think about a moral to the dream as if it were a story?

Maybe, in the end the brain is the best storyteller we have and it’s inside of us.

Gustavo Thomas © 2013

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