A Continuity of Country: Enlivenment in a Live Evocation of Place
Keywords:country, live oral-spatial literature, performative conference papers, poetry, ecopoetics, ecophilosophy, Wet Tropics, Andreas Weber, Enlivenment, biopoetics, poetic objectivity, empirical subjectivity
AbstractThe term ‘Country’ can be used to connote a specific environment enmeshing the individual in subjective relationships with place, including other inhabitants. This exegetical essay complements 'Wet: an appetite for the tropics' ('Wet'), a work of live oral-spatial literature that creates a continuity of presence from the author-performer in direct connection with Country to its evocation with audiences in a range of performance contexts, including academic conferences. 'Wet' interprets the experience of living in the Wet Tropics area of Queensland, Australia, through performed poetry, a narrative monologue and embedded photographs. Three intertwined branches of this practice-as-research – the creative work, the creative practice and the performative, practice-led methodology – are explored in alignment with Andreas Weber’s concept of 'Enlivenment'. As a creative project concerned with subjectivities of being in relationship, place and environment, 'Wet' resonates with Weber’s reconfiguring of an incomplete worldview built on the Enlightenment practices of rational thinking and empirical observation. He extends these practices into a ‘bio-poetic’ understanding of life-as-meaning and a ‘poetic objectivity’ which is founded in the ‘empirical subjectivity’ at the core of life. 'Wet' employs such poetic objectivity to map the protagonist’s shifting existential meanings as her empirical subjectivity – her embodied meaning – deepens in relationship to place perceived as landscape, as environment and finally as a ‘panscape’ in which she is aware of, as Weber puts it, the ‘ecological exchange’ that ‘brings with it reciprocal flows of matter, energy and existential relatedness’(20). As a unique, ephemeral event which plays out in the co-presence of author and audience, each performance of 'Wet' shares these features in addition to the key traits of living organisms that Weber identifies. As performative research, the live presentation of 'Wet' concurs with Weber’s vision for the enlivening ‘significant liberation’ that comes from the constructive conflation of theory and practice (41).
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