Book Review: Roger Bensky's Masque foudroyé


In Ionesco we come to understand mise en scène as mise en chaos, the creation of a destructive abyss, a nothingness that is the absurd of Ionesco's theatre, which is identified as the maelstrom brought about by two conflicting elemental forces, as meaning, or absence of meaning, is created through language out of a bottomless void and which nevertheless must pass through chaos, an excess of meaning, and through the destruction of meaning which limits interpretation through the creator's guidance. In Ionesco this destruction is complete, and the very nothingness from which chaos sprang is contained within, and reborn through, the chaos' self-destruction. That at least is our interpretation of Bensky's poetic account of these conflicting elemental forces. He observes this "conflictual synthesis" in terms of two processes of production: structuration/destructuration; emergence/submergence; progression/retrogression. This analysis is sufficiently abstract that one is obliged to turn to the book itself, which develops and explores the ambiguities of the model, rather than attempting to it sum up in terms which tend to eliminate them. Bensky, however, is entirely clear about the very ambiguities of his model, which reflect exactly those of the theatre of the absurd, or, as Ionesco himself preferred to call it, the theatre of derision. If we may paraphrase him in translation: "Here, we discover the nodal structure of the abyss in which the evolution (differentiation) and involution (de-differentiation or "paedomorphism") of the Dionysian ontogenetic scenario coincide. We shall later see that the apparent discontinuity of these structures - their divergence and diffractedness - constitute the dramaturgical Urgrund '(the "tektonikos") of the so-called "absurd" theatre'."

The next section of the book, entitled "Jean-Chrisophe Bailly : le corps même plus à venir," introduces into the author's paradigm a pragmatic element articulated on the relationship between the body, mask and language of the actor, a dimension he exposes very pertinently through the theatre of Bailly:

Porte béant sur le rien, pivotant sous "le souffle d'un dieu"; masque tendu entre le fil de l'Amour et celui, contraire, d'un "dehors revenu et délivré de tout présupposé"; corps qui demeurerait invisible" entre la main nue du réel et la main gantée de l'irréel ; la parole de Jean-Christophe Bailly - qu'elle s'affuble du nom féminin d'Ariane ou du nom masculin de Thésée - semble obéir, en effet, à une "puissance envoûtée" se tenant "dans le pli du langage".

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AS/SA Nº3, Article 5 : Page 3 / 6

© 1997, AS/SA

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