I've been doing my Diaghilev act on a project recently, and feeling the difficulty of working in three different countries.
It's so hard to feel the quality of what's happening in a person by email. I keep nearly phoning the key person. But really, it won't do. What I need is to see her walk across a room, or pick up her papers at the start of a meeting, or glance at me over breakfast. And that I can't have.
She wrote that she can feel me being anxious. Well, I'm not anxious, mostly. I just can't express myself, without a human body to talk to.
So my fear isn't so much a grasping urgency to get the thing out, as an insecurity, in case we are disrupting the natural flow by which it would come to completion.
And there is a companion fear, in case she feels that any of this wonderful effort is being taken for granted.
Am I hurrying the team? - pushing to get this thing out (yesterday)? Premature and half-formed?
Now I have to check again. Well, OK, there is an anxious: a desire to bring this sonata to a performance, and see how it feels and how the people take it. I've been sitting next to a piano for so long, that I'm sensitive to the way a thing goes past its time, loses its life, if one doesn't find a natural human swing towards the point of delivery, the moment when it flows from private to public.
There is a right moment to be born.
I often say to a person about Gurdjieff's solmization idea: that in any human venture most people stick, either between mi and fa, or between ti and do. In other words, the people with the mi-fa problem get going on a thing with energy and delight, and then somehow run out of steam just as it's coming to life. Whereas the ti-do people lose energy in the last phase, just as a thing is coming to completion. We are just at the ti-do point, where so many people sink back; but the natural performer finds a surge of forward energy, leaning into completion.
It is perfectly possible to retrieve a project, which has become temporally over-extended, but it is a fine and delicate art. It involves a certain amount of seeing into minds, which is technically subtle, and ethically sensitive. And I'm not used to exercising my (quite limited) powers of divination and augury without a living body to read.
Also, there is such a lot to be done, and there's a way in which the performance one is waiting upon prevents the mind from fully swinging towards the next thing.
So what it amounts to is that I really want the prime mover in this project to be enjoying the living process, and the swing towards the moment of going public.
I want to feel sure you are making this thing your own.
Then everything will be fine.
11th February 2002
Top of this page
Poems and Essays index