A blog companion to LindaHutchins.com

Consciousness emerging

It's two days after the end of Mike Daisey's 24-hour monologue. I've been asking myself what this performance accomplished that wasn't possible or didn't happen in last year's shorter performance. The performance last year was so emotional, so powerful, it would seem there could be nothing to be gained.

And in many ways, nothing was gained. Certainly there is no way that emotional intensity could be sustained for 24 hours. And it seems unlikely it could be achieved at any point in the 24 hours. He wouldn't want to reach that peak intensity at the beginning, or it would be all downhill from then on. By the time it would be time for a climax, he would be so worn out it might not be possible. And, in fact, it didn't happen. All the Hours in the Day was not the heart-wrenching, drop-me-to-my-knees experience I remember from Notes Toward All the Hours in the Day.

So what did he accomplish? What happened over the course of 24 hours that didn't happen or couldn't happen in a shorter version? Why do it? Why do it again, should the opportunity arise? The most compelling answer I've come up with has to do with the physical experience of it. My physical experience of it. I tried so hard to stay awake and present, to be there for him, to hold up my side of the bargain throughout the 24 hours. I wanted so much to be the audience he needed so that he could create this thing that he needed to create. And yet ... at certain points I simply could not keep my eyes open, or my head upright. I nodded. I slumped. I faded in and out. Always to the rich, sonorous drone of his voice.

At the time, my whole experience centered on my desperate attempt to stay awake. But from this two-day remove, my memory of those moments is filled with pleasure. The exquisite pleasure of succumbing to a sleep that simply will not wait. So often it's the opposite. We lay there trying to fall asleep and failing. So be lulled to sleep so easily and luxuriously feels in retrospect like the gem at the heart of it all. That's the moment I try to recapture in my mind as I recall the experience.

The power of that moment of fading from consciousness to the sound of another's voice must come from childhood, from the very early experience of falling asleep to bedtime stories, or even further back, to the womb and the reverberant sound of the mother's voice and the voices of those around her. To a time completely free of responsibility, completely given over to the physical sensation of consciousness emerging from the void, to the background music of the human voice.

That is the experience Mike Daisey miraculously recreated in All the Hours in the Day. I tried so hard not to have that experience. I tried so hard to stay awake. Thank god I didn't succeed.

— Linda Hutchins, September 21, 2011 / Reflect / next

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