This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rprs20
The Anatomy of Failure: An inventory
Margaret Werry & Róisín O'Gorman Published online: 14 Feb 2012.
To cite this article: Margaret Werry & Róisín O'Gorman (2012): The Anatomy of Failure: An inventory, Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 17:1, 105-110 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2012.651872
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
Permanent and transitory.651872 105 .doi. Failure and nonconformity are intimates.The Anatomy of Failure An inventory MARGARET WERRY & RÓISÍN O’GORMAN Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin . and landﬁlls are bursting obscenely with failure's collateral damage. Success can be a trap of conformity. (The logic of capital exploits and abuses this capacity of failure: economies are driven by planned obsolescence. ■ Failure is productive.2012. In failure we are forced to think critically.) ■ Failure offers a reprieve and a refuge from the cycle of success. Failure comes in many species. ■ Failure is paradoxical. it inaugurates both decay and renewal. because it demands redress. some habitual. ideas. worlds. to make something new. demanding repeat performances. a dissolution and a demarcation. Its sheer variety makes it seductive. some cataclysmic. some incremental. it is an end and a beginning.Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 ■ Not all failure is the same.1080/13528165. a tool to discover new forms.org/10. I Photos © Róisín O’Gorman PERFORMANCE RESEARCH 17·1 : pp. ■ Deliberate failure can be a strategy to prompt creativity.105-110 © 2012 TAYLOR & FRANCIS ISSN 1352-8156 print/1469-9990 online http: //dx. setting expectations. to reimagine. some minor.
a crucial. ■ Failure's threshold is also an opening. it also exposes. The thing we cannot bear any more. It historicizes. often painful state of imagination. But if failure is symptomatic. ■ Failure makes visible the places where aspirations and material realities collide. It is a limit point. that bottom-punched-out-of-my-world emptiness recedes. ■ Failure also points beyond. And exposure is painful. it is also diagnostic. denaturalizes. something new happens. virtuosity. competence.Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin .Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 ■ Failure can be dissent. a subject. After the familiar. ■ Failure is a threshold. other agencies enter in and the unthought occurs. heavy vacancy. betterment. And when our intentions are exceeded. acceptable. accomplishment grinds to a halt. 106 PERFORMANCE RESEARCH 17·1 : ON FAILURE . normal. ■ If failure reveals. ■ Failure is symptomatic of a current order. when a goal. bleak. by marking the limit of what is possible at a particular time and place. (If we look). a future. It rebels against expertise. pointing us to the thing we have to change. appropriate. an outcome. a caesura: a moment in which the linear drive of progress. an institution becomes something other than itself. helps us reﬂexively see the orders in which we are embedded. a stoppage. (Maybe). ■ Failure is a point of transformation. desirable in any given set of conditions. It maps what is thinkable.
■ Failure can be a state of raw human beauty. to convert failure into success (or into learning). open. it follows. ■ If knowledge is power. When we fail we are vulnerable. pain. it is the power of refusal. ■ Failure. the failure of this performance perturbs the whole delicate equation. It bears an affective load of shame. disgrace. To face the fear of failure is to re-enter process. To valorize failure. ■ If failure has a power of its own. unguarded. embarrassment. and if power requires knowledge’s (continual) successful performance. other construals of power. to turn away from it. must go on. guilt. But it is also a performative that rebounds shamefully on the subject of enunciation (where ‘I fail you’ also means ‘I have failed you’). we see the narrowness of power’s conﬁnes. fragile. is a symptom of this exposure. ■ In the context of schooling. admitting failure is a risk for most. Can’t go on.Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin . failure is a performative that invokes the authority of Law (‘I fail you’). ■ Failure marks how value is made and measured. Fight. abjects an other.Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 ■ The drive to disavow failure. And the primitive fear of failure is more destructive than failure itself. ■ Celebrating failure is the prerogative of the privileged. set up to fail. apologize it away. Failure. WERRY & O’GORMAN : THE ANATOMY OF FAILURE 107 . never strategic: a guileful ruse (in de Certeau’s terms) that cannot keep what it wins. the power of exodus from power. ■ Failure imperils a subject’s claim to authority. ■ Failure breeds fear. We are most utterly ourselves. is a necessary but dangerous move. condemned to failure. If we dare to look at the ranks of those doomed to fail. ■ Failure brings ugly feelings in its wake. sorrow and loss. freeze or faint: it gets us stuck in place. ﬂight. as an accusation. Intentional failure is tactical. then. it exposes the ﬂimsiness of power. is free to honour other ways of knowing.
Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 108 PERFORMANCE RESEARCH 17·1 : ON FAILURE .Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin .
Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin .Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 WERRY & O’GORMAN : THE ANATOMY OF FAILURE 109 .
Performance’s much vaunted ephemerality is only the most explicit example. And in our deathdenying culture.■ Failure can be joyous. Failure is impermanence – (de) carnate. fail with commitment. ■ Failure is an ending. ■ Bodies fail. ■ Although we often think of failure as an ending. and makes them up again and again. Anybody who plays. ■ Failure is an argument for acceptance. ■ Failure ruptures temporality as a stabilizing. More often still. foolishness. excitement.Madison] at 07:24 21 June 2013 110 PERFORMANCE RESEARCH 17·1 : ON FAILURE . time to cheat Time. We can regulate the level of failure. daring. ■ Failure is a natural condition of collaboration and relationality. We can fail passionately. but we can never eliminate it. Everything seemingly solid is in continual process: it fails to remain the same as itself. mortality. time to think. it confronts us with fallibility. Everything fails with time. Downloaded by [University of Wisconsin . We register failure bodily. Yet we often fail to change. normalizing force. and we fail to grasp it before the moment of its change. ■ Failure unmakes selves. some level of failure is inevitable. knows this. ■ Failure is funny. we fail to recognize both. Failure is absurd. To embrace failure is to surrender the will to control. revealing identity not as the monolith we often imagine it to be but as the ﬂuid process of reinventing ourselves in the face of circumstances and in the company of others. It punctures the illusion of permanence lent by perception. and the contingency that these imply. Failure is time's promise. Other people fuck us up. In any collective project. there is in fact no end to failure and no end to its means. time out of joint. It gives us another kind of time – time out. ■ Failure is a condition with ontological weight. Failure can be the most exhilarating freedom. ■ Failure can be change by another name. time to reimagine thinking. It need not be a site of pain or sorrow.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.