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I remember we were looking at the programme for​ Faust/Us​ earlier this year when we were at ​Lear Is

Dead​ and marvelling at the deftness of the translation. 浮世•德 – ​fu shi / de​, that floating world of the
purgatorial in-between, abutting what can be morality, or virtue, or kindness.

There’s so much to mine (mime?) between languages, a gulf between different tongues. The
movement of bodies and text, here, movement between words written, bridged by
instantaneous connection. Now I see you typing, now I see myself typing.

Yes a bridge!
Even as I’m typing I’m wondering how all these interruptions, these instantaneous instances
Quite be captured

A stutter, how the performance I witnessed were rife with slipped tongues, yet you saw one that
is “a—


I think that’s something that struck me, the slipperiness of this language, the speed at which they

a closing bracket, I take on your font. Google cannot differentiate between us.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I can differentiate the twine of these thoughts!!! We come from perhaps
similar lineages.
[And it’s that kind of overlapping, frenzied –

Faustus’ lineage is not unlike ours, of a woman, of a feminine suffocation. Is there a masculine

– debate between Mephistopheles and God, between Faustus and Mephistopheles,

even between Faustus and Grett.

How voices of the lover and beloved overlaps, laps at each other’s desire. Their foreheads resting
against each other’s, their arms on their arms

At the beginning, God claims Mephistopheles as his first spiritual creation, arguably most beloved.
Most beloved, enough to rebel, barter. Banter.
And I wonder if perhaps God is also man’s own creation — I think so, how Faustus conjured
them from her mind, borne of a wish for beyond – man reflecting man, except this time we see a
different mirror image, a woman’s. I think of the piece about the mitochondria, of a maternal strand, of
the first collaboration between two single-cell organisms, thus arrived the eukaryotes. How Lispector
wrote all the world began with “yes”. An acquiesce.

And Faustus says yes

And we say yes

And looking at Mia Chee, the only woman on stage, saying yes, and in her I see myself, my silent
nodding, and I’m angry with her because I’m angry at myself.

when she turned away from Wagner, injured, I see my constant turning away, a constant refusal. The
opposite of “yes” is perhaps not “no”, but suspension. An engulfing that obliterates. Am I angry too?
“Yes”, I am angry at the shame of having turned away, of having been turned away from the vibrance
that men have never been ashamed of demanding.

You talk about suffocation, but I also wonder about what it means to always be an echo. I’ve been
struggling with Irigaray a lot this year, and how she delves into the womb of the earth – and how the
mother carries with her the mortality of every person she will bring onto this earth – and how we have
forgotten our origins and we have become only echoes of a language that always already leaves us
behind. And here we have Faustus, a female academic, becoming dexterous in a language that is
somehow already never hers, trying to make room within her writing and her speaking for her to
become ​something ​– become ​what,​ exactly… We have internalised our own negation, we have become
negation. Could it be our outrage stems from her audacity to speak, to dominate in a language that has
too long obliterated us? Such strong words, obliteration, audacity, domination. These are words of
And it’s here that I chafed a bit at the play, the more I thought about it, because she only finds
her writing in Grett.

And you’ve used ‘obliterate’ a few times now

Maybe I am trying to find a way out of the existing language, and I see no way out except to create
anew from dust. Faustus’ rebellion at the end brings me no resolution — I only just realised this as I
wrote, on a moving bus.

How does she continue?

How does she mourn?
How could she, actually? We have become so adept at what has been thrust upon us. We have lost our
voices but perhaps the vocal cords aren’t ours to begin with. I feel as though I am writing a manifesto.

To be able to turn to God and say “let me finish”

To interrupt God. To demand. Let me have this space. It was mine to begin with. You interrupted my
life with your bets and bargains. God is the interruption, but she continues walking, strolling along the
market streets. Mephistopheles becomes a mere stray dog, I derive a sick pleasure I am almost guilty
of. Why feel pity, or empathy for those who have used us as chips? But empathy and humanity strives
to transcend the transactional. Do unto others what they have not done, could not have done.

I’m sorry, I have been interrupting too, as I have been interrupted. I want to listen, we — I dislike the
word “should” — wish, I wish to be more patient.

I couldn’t stop thinking about –

What haunts your thoughts?

[[[external interruption]]]

The logistical heft of typing while alighting from a bus

Or fighting an ant infestation.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the hubris of the Faustian bargain – the initial one, the original one (then
again, I think about this question of origins, and reclamations) – I can give up ​everything ​to have ​this one
thing​. But then to see this transaction inflected with gender felt like I’d been hollowed out a bit. (Is
everything​ for her to bargain? Wagner paid with his life, Grett with his other soul) I paused because I
wondered if I’d been essentialising what I felt was the masculinist hubris of the exchange. (Was it really
hubris? Or a label we cast in reflection of envy?) And to be honest I was annoyed at this Faustus because
I thought, you have everything you need. What is this ennui you have? YES, what is this envy? What is
this desire for more? And then I doubled back on myself and thought, perhaps that’s (perhaps we want
what she wants, but for reasons withheld from our conscious minds chose not to enact) a particularly
female desire to want what we had never had. I don’t know, I’m tying myself in knots here, just as I was
in my seat, my insides knotting up as Faustus soldiers through the terms of the bargain, the years of the

I find myself wondering what she lost, if “it was worth it”, then I catch myself. What do I mean by worth
it? Is rebellion “worth it”?

The night I watched the show, and Faustus goes to Grett in prison, a delirious, delusional Grett, who
cannot recognise her – and so much of the ancient Greek tragedy hinges on misrecognition; and Judith
Butler has picked up on this misrecognition, of all the books we have for children that go “are you my
mother?”, that this misrecognition of friendship and kinship reveals the very instability of that
relationship – and the students in the audience laughed, nervously, at the absurdity of the
misrecognition. And later Nelson Chia, the artistic director of Nine Years Theatre, said that no other
audience had seen the humour in this conversation and he was troubled as to why. But there’s a bleak,
awful humour to failing to see that which is, or should be, familiar. And I wonder if it’s the same awful
humour I recognise in seeing a Faustus on stage who happens to be a female academic, that in fact I am
laughing at my self
There is no … I lose words here. No shame? Nothing curious? About laughing at ourselves. A
recognition shortcircuits, and laughter begins. I read while researching on laughter that it’s our brains’
inability to process completely, cognitively, that creates the spontaneous reaction that is laughter. It is
our brains literally tripping over its own neural networks. Why is self-recognition hard to believe? I
remember Carl Jung once wrote that people will do anything to not have to confront one’s soul. I
digress, but I feel a tenuous, tangential, crucial association.

No there definitely is an association – with (mis)recognition is also a sense of the ​uncanny,​ that
what is familiar has returned unexpectedly, and a sense of danger associated with this return, this
doubling. We were laughing to resist or negotiate with the uncanny. Faustus returns to Grett, he balks
at her return.

When you say misrecognition, I think of how Faustus first mistook Mephistopheles as an earth spirit.
We are always seeking for the familiar, aren’t we? And when they appear, we negate them for want of
prolonging the tension of desire. An arrival signifies an end of wanting, a terrifying prospect. What
​ e ever wanted?
comes after we gain ​everything w


And then... at the end, Mark the fruit-seller returns, again. Faustus loops back on her decisions. She
drinks the same fruit juice, now alone, now contained within a metal can. Is she in a metal can? She
contains, she reflects, refracts, bears our ire. Why are we angry at her, and not the others? I don’t find
myself faulting Mephistopheles or God or Grett — a gasp. I have accepted that they are flawed and will
remain so. I had expected Faustus to be “better”. Have I internalised the fallacy that “boys will be
boys”? I don’t trust that men will become better. I have reduced God and Mephistopheles into the
conventional, stifling, masculine.

I do think that’s why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this performance, because of the
way the gender-swapped Faustus digs at a lot of these binaries or dichotomies we lean on. This is also,
admittedly, a cishet (yes) perspective on womanhood and female desire. There is no “universal
sisterhood” (yes yes yes), but there are fragments of the familiar, or an echo of an experience that is
familiar to us. Cixous wrote that we must write woman into existence, instead of trying to dig ourselves
out of negation. We are not negated, we are not the opposing force to masculinity — we are. Are, am.
That is all, nothing less, nothing more than being.

Does Faust come to this, at the end? She IS?

She is almost, almost, but not yet. We, she, is not yet there. A phrase floats to mind: “we are
not-yet-there” but the warmth of potentiality peeks at the horizon. José Esteban Muñoz. (!) But the
peek for now is sufficient, sufficient for us to never be satisfied.
I would never be satisfied with a peek

I want to see the whole story

Me neither. May we never be satisfied and be pulled forever taut at the verge of rapture—

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:37]

idk whats the word

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:37]

im thinking of audre lorde’s uses of the erotic

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:37]

of how she demands we keep close to the irrational uncontainable

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:38]

maybe taut is the word, if none comes to mind

Corrie Tan, [27.03.19 20:38]

brimming, close to overflowing

Corrie Tan, [27.03.19 20:38]

you know the skin of water

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:38]


Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:38]


Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:38]

water tension

Corrie Tan, [27.03.19 20:38]


Corrie Tan, [27.03.19 20:38]

i put this exchange in

Xiao Ting Teo, [27.03.19 20:38]

verge of collapsing

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