"Lossless energy is exchanged on an actual field."
This is one way of describing the activity of improvising in an improvising ensemble. And the making of an ensemble. It is a kind of work in a particular setting and involving particular actants.
The ensemble is NOT some metaphysical entity waiting to be actualized. Maybe one agent in the ensemble — the director/teacher — is hiding their idea of a final result behind their back and only pretending to let the ensemble discover a way of working together. But the true creative facilitator is allowing the actants to ally themselves in ways they never have before. Actants are testing the resistances and building alliances as they work. This work is no more and no less than what all work, including the work of philosophers, accomplishes. Harman:
Thinkers do not deduce, critique, or build reality out of first principles or foundations. Instead, they simply work, negotiating with actants in the same way as butchers, engineers, technicians, carpenters, and clowns. (30)
The supervisor or director or teacher is no closer to the potential or latent unity of the "whole" than any improviser.
Every actant can serve any of these roles (matter or form, whole or part) in different situations. (30)
Spolin focuses on the here-and-now activity of people in an actual field. She is not trying to serve some story that is waiting to be acted out. She does not want any one performer to impose some pre-existing schema onto the alliance-building activities of all the other performers. The creation of an unprecedented network of mutually-engaged creators is the aim. Pre-existing schema or cliched gestures and attitudes are resistances to be overcome.
I'm seeing a convergence between Spolin's actual and that of Latour/Harman.
Caveat on "Actual"
- The "actual" (A1) in Critical Realism one of a three-level ontology. The "actual" consists of the changes brought about by the activation of causal powers and liabilities of objects (which are "real"). The "empirical" is the subjective experiencing of those changes.
- The "actual" (A2) in Harman is quite different. There are no layers. Everything that that is or happens is produced by the networking of objects. Objects are assembled or joined together as pieces of wood are in carpentry.
I am committed to a basic realism and to the reality of change. I am also committed to pushing myself and creative people to explore what lies outside of commonsensical or received notions of what humans are. To take seriously the question that Butoh dancers ask themselves: what is it like to view the world from the perspective of a corpse. Butoh dancers actually (A1) change themselves and get themselves to do things most people cannot when they respond to this question. The question prompts them to suspend as far as possible interior reflection or self-consciousness and take their place among things (A2).
- What critical realists mean when they go on about the ‘real’, the ‘actual’ and the ’empirical’…
- Continental Realism and Materialism: A Guide
- The Speculative Turn
- Phenomenological Metaphysics as a Speculative Realism
- Phenomenology and Speculative Realism
- The End of What: Phenomenology Versus Speculative Realism
- Excess and Withdrawal: Critical Phenomenology and Speculative Realism
- Speculative Materialism and Real Time