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“Gee, Nita, what do you want to do tonight?”
“The same thing we do every night, Baraco — try to take over the world!”

Nita Little thinks contemporary dance, as it creates non-linear pluralistic forms of thinking and feeling and being, can end Capitalism. She wants to take over the world, it would seem. (Of course, her argument is way more complex than this SINGLE LINE can encompass, do i even have to say this?)

Still, in some lights, this is not so difficult to believe at all. (Of course, i do think so because i am a total fanboy, do i even have to say that?)

Words are deceptive, here more than usual, and “Take over the world” sounds more like a conquest, an authoritarian kind of control. In that sense, contemporary dance will not undo the empire, not only because we dancers are bad fighters (and maybe we are good), but because taking over the world in that sense is the same thing as reproducing the kind of linear thinking that leads you into the tit-for-tat insensibility-banality of consumerism and Spectacle Society.

There are other, subtler but emptier, ways to read this expression. A watered-down version of it is “Change the World”, which of course we are bound to do, even if for the worse, just because we are all in this together. The air i breathe will end up in your lungs later. Changing the world says there are other ways to live, and that we can, slowly, substitute our wicked ways for environmental-friendly and neighbourhood-conscious societal arrangements. That good votes will give power to good politicians. Incremental change that, really, bores me to death.

We can also reinterpret taking over the world as assuming power over something called «world», but now instead of thinking of this thing as government and weapons and money, all of what super-villains are supposed to want, i can believe that world is actually existence, things as they are, encompassing not only the geometric disposition of matter, but also the sensuous alive experience. The world is not only where we are, but what we live. And it’s impossible to reduce experience to a linear match of forces, the baboon struggle to be on top can’t contain all of experience. That means the world is always open to reinterpretation. And twisting this interpretation into our dreams is, then, to take over the world.

It can be something as simple as: “No, having a big car does not mean you are happy”. That single reinterpretation could literally turn world politics upside down.

It turns out to be true, too. Not having bought a car when i had the chance is the reason i have been able to travel way more than all my friends who, at similar circumstances, did buy it. Having a car was the reason my mother was unable to thread unusual paths. Ezio Manzini said (years ago) that he does not have a car in Milan because it would slow him down (as in finding parking & fighting traffic &c). But still, world economy revolves around the car. The number one source of pollutants is passenger cars. And cars are seen as the ultimate sigil of prestige (let’s face it!).

Reinterpretation can sometimes be a total cheat, it can turn the tables simply by declaring that, no matter what happens to us, that we are happy the way we are and that this is victory. We can take over the world simply by naming it ours. Symbolic warfare! There is a lot more to that than a childish word-game.

Because, you see, my reinterpretation of the car is also false. Car is Power. In many different ways. I can outsmart the culture of the car and the cult of the machine, but for sure i can’t do it “just saying no”, i can’t reinterpret anything if i simply close my eyes, wishful thinking simply does not work. Taking over the world is not about combating power, not about combating banality, not about combating anything. Taking over is about creating new forms of being. About dreaming out loud.

We need to be extremely clever and extremely skilful to pull that one off. The good news is that we have the tools and we have the will. The only thing missing is this one dream to be dreamt.

Many, many times throughout history something like that has been tried. Let’s, you know, just imagine a distant island where everything is good and nothing bad. And then all we have to do is to incrementally get closer to it. Not only there is a tradition of literature on this theme, there is a counter-tradition too. And it failed every single time. There is a reason for this. A dream cannot be a judgement. The part of your brain that judges is the one turned off when you’re REMing. A dream needs to be a flow and not a standard, a process of becoming and not a destination. That is why we can still spoil it all even tough we have the perfect opportunity to get nirvana for everybody, to find enlightenment in mass scales. Because close to the dream it’s hard to avoid reinterpretation in the other direction, turning freedom into banality. If you approach the dream, if you make it solid, you turn it into commodity, and then it is just another item on the market.

The secret to reinterpretation is: Search for freedom, instead of truth, profit, or security.

The solution is simple. Just live as if you had already taken over the world. Don’t pretend, but live. And i don’t mean solve all your problems, i mean treat the whole solving-problems thing as a path to freedom. To true deep freedom. Dance your way around life.

{As a side-note, it strikes me as funny that a part of this revolves around what is true and what is not, and thus around our old butt-monkey Realism. Epistemology can easily become removed from experience, and in many ways epistemic quality is useless. But the difference between a meaningful unprovable idea and a useless precise demonstration is the same barrier that exists between reinterpretation and word-game (in the senses above). That is why even the book-lover in me is part of the show.}


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