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Writing in Motion


Kenneth King

Publication Year: 2003

Kenneth King is one of America's most inventive postmodern choreographers. His dancing has always reflected his interest in language and technology, combining movement with film, machines, lighting and words both spoken and written. King is also conversant in philosophy, and some of his most influential dances have been dedicated to and in dialogue with the work of such philosophers as Susanne K. Langer, Edmund Husserl and Friedrich Nietzsche. Since the 1960s, he has performed his dance to texts both spoken and prerecorded--texts intended to stand separately as literary works.

Writing in Motion spans more than thirty years and is collected here for the first time. It includes essays, performance scripts of King's own work, art criticism, philosophy and cultural commentary. Dense with movement, these writings explode and reconfigure the familiar, crack syntax open, and invent startling new words. Dancing, to King, is "writing in space," and writing is a dance of ideas. Whether referencing Aristotle, Langer, Simone de Beauvoir, MTV, Maurice Blanchot or Marshall McLuhan, King's delightfully lavish prose is very much "in motion."

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix

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pp. xi

Since the 1960s I have been creating a range of texts that move between and across categories and disciplines; many were originally prerecorded and used to accompany dances or were spoken and acted. During the last two decades I've turned to the essay, a form that I consider the most formidable...

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pp. xv-xxi

Reading—in some cases, revisiting—these essays by Kenneth King, I feel my brain start to whirl, to become hyper-aware of its own circuitry, to shy away from discursive thinking. It's a familiar sensation. Almost forty years of watching-hearing-reading the works of King, perhaps our only...


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pp. 3-14

One can know self and world, b e i n g and mind, simply by moving the body. Moving the body—dancing—can be synonymous with seeing, thinking, doing—with action*. There's more to dance than companies, careers, foundations and corporations. That's all temporary...

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Digital Body

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pp. 15-20

The human body is poised to undergo unprecedented digital transformations that will create another frontier of corporeal extensions comparable to the technological advances that have changed the entire physical landscape during the last century, as laser meets psychomimesis...

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Through Me Many Voices

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pp. 21-26

Walt Whitman's celebrated, still incantatory words from Leaves of Grass, magical and evocative, timeless and modern, pry open one of the perennial mysteries about the voice—or multiplicities of voices surging through one's throat like a sonic river (reading him aloud), refocusing...

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Word Raid: (Impossible Tonque Twisters for E. E. Cummings)

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pp. 27-32


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From Out of the Field of Vision: (Or Finally: The Internet)

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pp. 33-50

Though I've been working on a computer for over a decade, I only recently purchased a Gateway and gained access to the Internet, an event that occurred coincidentally with plans for an essay to explore how sights...

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The Telaxic Synapsulator: (The Future of Machine)

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pp. 51-72

THE TELAXIC SYNAPSULATORis the first meta-machine. The RAW IDEA (The Idea invents itself): "THE (B)LINKIS ON THE BLINK!" (Get it?) THE...


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Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex: Julie Taymor - Selji Ozawa - Jessye Norman

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pp. 75-88

Since its inception and mass popularization over forty years ago, television has held the promise and potential to bring the performing arts into one's living room. There are special technical and esthetic difficulties for video to bridge and transpose the actualities of performance—transmitting...

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Writing Over History and Time: Maurice Blanchot and Jackie 0.

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pp. 89-96

On occasion, extreme and improbable opposites offer tantalizing, atypical cross-correspondences and asymmetrical correlatives that serve the function of linking and aligning highly unusual events, situations or people. Reading Maurice Blanchot's The Space of Literature occasions some fortuitous...

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Dreams and Collage

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pp. 97-110

Dreaming is forever mysterious and inexplicable. Reading Aristotle's On Dreams (De Somnis) and On Prophesying By Dreams (De Divinatione Per Somnum), I'm reminded of two rather recent though quite dissimilar sources that shed a considerably different light on this subject...

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Sight and Cipher

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pp. 111-116

Ciphers supply the keys for cracking codes, usually the job of cryptanalysts, intelligence agents and spies. A code reveals how signs that configure information are encrypted, interconnected and converted, laying...

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A Pipe of Fancy (Vision's Plenitude): Joseph Cornell, An Appreciation

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pp. 117-132

A jump into the blue—Joseph Cornell's visual alchemy—a seraphic transfiguration and dialogue of eye and mind. Celebration of the Great Paradox: miniature metatheaters that are exemplary art and metaphysical praxis; in fact, Cornell's entire opus flexes philosophical puzzles...


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pp. 135-152

D: What are you doing now? W: Writing an Autobiopathy—what else! D: An AUTOBIOPATHY! What's that? W: Well, everyone writes an autobiography; but this...

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The Body Reflexive

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pp. 153-168

Rereading Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) reoccasions inquiry into the problematics of reflexivity. Hegel's seminal work is the source for a complex dialectical investigation of mind, reinvented in a new key at...

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Metagexis (Joseph's Song)

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pp. 169-184

"Wow can the word 'not' negate?"—"The sign 'not' indicates that you are to take what follows negatively." We should like to say: the sign of negation is our occasion...

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Appeal to the Unknown Prayer to the Great Void (Mappings for a Metatheology)

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pp. 185-192

One comes to dramatization in necessarily summoning the power of the Unconscious, the Great Reservoir, the Ocean; the Mother Sea. -One must see t h r o u g h, penetrate the husk ("projection") of the dramatization process to see the seeds, source of transcendental personification, however...


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pp. 193-198

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About the Author

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pp. 200-223

KENNETH KING is a dancer/choreographer and writer, and former Artistic Director of Kenneth King & Dancers/Company. Since 1964 he has presented a wide variety of dance, dance theatre, dancetext and...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819569646
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819566133

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2003