The proximity to death is not necessarily negative, it can be that which gives us the feeling of being most alive. Death touches us not simply as “a fact of life”, but also as a fantasmatic object of desire. Many people, consciously or unconsciously, search for limit-experiences for the intensity and thrill of being on the threshold of something that gives them the feeling of being close to death.
While holding forms an integral part of many physical interactions, and while it can, by itself, generate intense emotions and sensations, it is rarely investigated on its own merit. Often we do not actually feel safely held, even though that is what we long for. We can only truly let go when we know that someone will be there to hold us. Once we understand what it is that makes being held a less than satisfying experience, we can be clearer about what it is that we wish to feel in an embrace and where to place our attention.
As a society, we are not very skilled at talking about suicide. In some ways this is can be explained, because suicide summons two of our greatest fears – the fear of death and the fear of madness.
We will open a space for dialogue and reflection on suicidal urges and acts that steps out beyond the dominant explanatory frameworks: the bio-medical, which assuredly connects suicide to ‘mental health issues’; and religious, linking it to sin and moral weakness.
While death is often understood as referring to the end of life, it is important to remember that death can refer to the ending of anything, such as a friendship, a love affair, a social role, a period of one’s life, adolescence, youth or middle age. Death may mean simply a transition, albeit one that seems irreversible. This workshop will convoke and conjure the deaths of our lives and those of others, so that we may dance for them as our witnesses.
The premise of this workshop is that personal and planetary deaths may be intertwined. In other words, grief and anxiety about different deaths – our own, that of others, and, beyond that, traditions, other species, loved places, habitats and ecosystems – may be mutually reinforcing, and contributing to a collective paralysis. How might we begin, then, to process this grief and anxiety?