The Narcissus complex

or the principle of lukewarm water applied to shows

Not to Stage.

I often talk about what I would like to see on the Altair stage.
I made a general batch of what I didn’t like – without specifying it – but it needs to be specified anyway.

I would say it’s the Narcissus complex, which has literally infected contemporary productions.
Basically, it comes down to considering that one’s self, one’s life, one’s thoughts, one’s feelings, one’s past, one’s hopes is more than enough to be given to others. In the form of autobiographies, diaries, deep thoughts, and unfortunately also in the form of shows.

– Obviously on this point the observation is based on my country.

When it is free – why not? Those who come are interested or not – and will give you their lives to ponder in exchange.
But when you have to pay for the book, the place, the song changes.

I know where this fashion comes from, in my country. It comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote his life in a masterly way – and who unblocked something in the collective unconscious: you don’t have to be a great man of this world to tell your life story.
Let’s forget in passing that Rousseau was a great philosopher of the State and of the laws – that, well – zut madame.

Some people after him have also written masterful autobiographies – I would love to see an adaptation of Romain Gary’s The Promise at Dawn or Albert Cohen’s The Book of My Mother on a stage. Something good with Céline’s Journey to the end of the Night.
But I don’t see that. I don’t & I didn’t.
I see people who are focused on themselves.
Only them.
I almost named names – useless. I’ve seen a few shows based on: ❤ me ❤ .
Me and my life.
Which means that as soon as that famous “me” is dead, no one is going to do his plays anymore.
I saw: Narcissus admiring himself in the mirror.
Narcissus who thinks he is so beautiful – so attractive – so unique – so witty – fine – funny – intelligent – cultured – different – wise – deep – relevant – brilliant – misunderstood – so lonely – so torn by the others – by their stupidity – by their meanness – by their jealousy – by their low instincts.

Narcissus girl or Narcissus boy or Narcissus “in itself” – same fight: it is always the same thing: I,oooh, I love myself.

John William Waterhouse – Narcissus & Echo – part

Some Narcissus have a little talent – it passes.
At the end of the show, the spectator remembers almost nothing.
He was not shocked. He was not touched. He was not enthusiastic. He was not moved. He watched Narcisse do his little scene.
He literally drank lukewarm water. It didn’t do any good or harm. It doesn’t give deep displeasure or fabulous enthusiasm.
It provides what it gives: a void.

What is the difference with the others?
Why do some succeed and all the others just serve their insipid soup with lukewarm water?

When Romain Gary speaks, it is not about him. It’s about his mother. This absolutely unbelievable woman, who adored her son, whom her son adored and who was for him both a blessing and a calvary.
When Albert Cohen speaks, it is not about him. It is about his mother. This woman who had an absolute love for her son. Who forgave everything. And he, after her death, is ashamed of what he gave to her. And he knows that she has forgiven him.
These are their mothers, their subjects – not them.

When Celine speaks, he distances himself – his subject is the whole world with him in it – neither better nor worse. His subject is the world of those who claim to know, to be upright, to be honest, to be brave – and who in reality know nothing, are not upright, are neither honest nor brave. Only one light appears in this life: Molly, the American prostitute. She is such a tiny light, so despised by people, that almost no one sees it – she has to be pointed out: look for who is the character who means no harm to anyone? It is not difficult, there is only one character. Celine does not write to his glory. He writes about the difficulty of being a man in a world of men full of contradictory words and deeds.

When Rousseau speaks, he wants to show that a man is not a pure thing – to prove it, he is obliged to use himself as an example. He did not want to tell his life story to admire himself – he wanted us to stop judging others and forget to judge ourselves.

There are many examples like these: they did not give in to the sirens of Narcissus.

But this contemporary calamity of all the others who feel obliged to tell about their sexuality, their parents, their families, their colleagues, all the nasty friends and all that – but why?
I know – it sells iPhones – selfies are in fashion – I’m beautiful, right?

The problem is that each spectator being asked to be a Narcissus – that’s what it takes to be modern – paying to see another Narcissus is a bit lame.

Therefore – and by repeated experiences as a spectator – here is the major criterion for not putting “that” on a stage. No Narcissus, no lukewarm water.
Altair is designed to have shows on its stage that care about the audience.
This results in shows where the artists care about the rest of the world. This is probably more difficult to achieve. But it is more interesting.

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Featured Image : Narcissus – by Caravaggio

Caravaggio

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