Satori na h-Alba a dhà

we displaced all our rivals

and adorned our weapons systems with their names

we learned that the earth remembered

a thousand million sunrises

in complex hydrocarbon chains

and that with ingenuity

we could grow our own plants

of concrete steel and silicon

to fabricate our own memories

of noontimes near to hand.

It’s not as though you can just

uninvent an invention’s manufacture

but as we no longer die of smallpox

we must no longer die of war.

 

– Edinburgh 7 Aug 2013

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“we displaced all our rivals” composed with a Pilot Precise V5 XFine pen in an Ecosystem notebook serial # HM27010RB in Edinburgh, 7 Aug 2013.

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The Fringe is not an anarchy but can seem like one when contrasted with an event of similar magnitude such as the Games of an Olympiad, or the Paris Salon. Indeed, the Fringe is similar to the Salon de Refusés, the group showing of art rejected by Emperor Napoleon III’s Salon that spawned the Impressionist movement and changed French painting. The Fringe, with its refusal to adopt a central committee responsible for choosing what was in the festival and what was out, outgrew the Edinburgh International Festival to become the largest English-language performance festival in the world. People and perspectives from around the world seek the attention of those who come to watch as well as others who come to perform; everyone at the Fringe, it seems, spends some time as a flanêur of the type that Baudelaire embodied and Walter Benjamin attempted to capture in the Arcades Project.

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The flanêur stands apart, and through his or her gaze regards the life passing by on the street as theatre. Both Marcel Duchamp and John Cage had the operating belief that the spectator completes or realizes the artwork, that by lifting a moment out of the unnoticed everyday and giving it the right attention, it becomes theatre. Empires going back to the Romans did this by forcing the conquered to perform their rituals as entertainment for audiences. At the Fringe, all are there by choice, and everyone ends up participating in some way; there is no emperor to command.

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[Note: "na h-Alba" is Scottish Gaelic for "Scottish." "a dhà" is Scottish Gaelic for "two." "Satori" is a Japanese term for a form of enlightenment associated with Zen Buddhism]

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