In Response to Celine’s MAGNUM OPUS

Photo by Chelsea Robin Lee

4/11/19 (Thursday)

Dear Void,

I am practicing patience and concision today. I trust you understand both: as for the latter, if you are everything you must also be nothing. For the former, because I you are eternal in general, if not young in the particular inter-computer habitat by which I reach you.

You have given me a gift today, or perhaps it is she that has given me You. Celine (née De La Croix) shared her great work, her culmination, with me and a few other souls at Brooklyn Studios for Dance. Beautiful in its design, its coherence, its elegant construction, and as much as I despise the term, I daresay Celine (née De La Croix, also sometimes seems to go by the name Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs) is “one to watch.”

That said, I still do not know what it was meaning to say.

I am waiting.

*

4/12/19 (Friday)

Dear Void,

As I repose in my rolling desk chair, awash in the fluorescent lights of [REDACTED], I consider my role as critic and as writer. Does the fact that no one at my day job knows my secret other (I would call them “realer”) interests set me free? Or, as Celine might have it, does the fact that I am NOT “suffering greatly at work, under the persecution of management, suffocating in the stifling straightjacket [sic] of performed competence” a sign that I am either:

  1. clamping down on my soul’s desire to express itself,

  2. practicing habits of inauthenticity, or perhaps

  3. merely a lemming, worth little more than the “automaton chic” I don each day to better fit in (https://deargoditsmeceline.tumblr.com, 8.20.18)?

I used to feel, as Celine both writes in her blog and says aloud in her show, deeply pained by “the sheer burden of forcing my being to constantly attend to the mindless necessity of participating in the extant world” (https://deargoditsmeceline.tumblr.com/, 8.30.18). At that time, it consumed my spirit, and although it never led to me getting fired, it led me to choose this job and then that, abandoning things I had ardently committed to as soon as they felt wrong, because feeling was all I could bank on, then.

I will not say “I’ve grown up” since then, because truly I see this acceptance of paid monotony as a bit of my idealism seeping out. A necessary bloodletting, at long last, giving up my mulishness in favor of a little ability to tame the storm that was my inner mind each day and each night.

I know my thoughts are truncated here, as always, by the incessant ringing of the phone, but truly

*

Later that same day

MAGNUM OPUS still consumes my thoughts, I admit, and I am still not sure what I was meant to see. On my post-work stroll home through the cemetery this afternoon, I wrote the following notes while sitting by the pond, staring at the heron and the row of little turtles:

  • Celine is all caught up in herself.
  • She cannot get over how beautifully serendipitous it all is.
  • What is ‘it’? She’ll tell you later.
  • She’s your spirit guide, your fairy queen, your sacred vessel.
  • Her heart is on her sleeve so yours needs not be.
  • Her face pouts for the lens so yours needs not to.
  • If you saw her on the street, you might think,
  • whose artistic vision is she ignoring?
  • whose photo shoot is she ruining?

Perhaps you can make sense of this, O Void, but as of now I feel as though in a trance then, as the ripples of the water caused my vision to warp and weft the very ground underneath my feet once I turned to look at it, as the grass seemed to wriggle and wave at me, neither kindly nor unkindly.

Yours, Awed (Audrey)

*

4/13/19 (Saturday)

Dear Void,

Today has tried me. Great fortune through my placement at [REDACTED] has prevented me from sojourning to the main isle of New York City for some time, and I admit I found its energy frightening. As though I, like Celine, had a penchant for delicate fabrics and rose petals, and a tendency to be tossed around by a world that sends her sliding across a floor or slamming into walls, my heart beat too quickly, my thoughts raced too wildly.

Why am I here? What am I trying to do? Why do I ever think I will write anything of consequence? I think of the mere 45 minutes of MAGNUM OPUS, and I am saddened by its prematurity. The blog has been such a constant companion to my train travels, reading one entry on the R, another on the N, and its depth of experience pointed me to a lack of the same level of depth in the brief live event. Was this because I had failed to take in said blog before seeing the so-named ‘great work’? Did my unfamiliarity with her lead me to underestimate its value?

On the eve of the performance, I noticed Celine notice the notebook in my hands, and then notice her reluctance to meet my eyes as she dashed about, strutted, bestowed flowers upon other audience members. Am I merely not worthy of Seeing, as she does, the magnitude of the Work she does? I do not know. Perhaps she could smell the workaday drudgery on me. She seems to possess this type of intuition.

Perhaps my rawness is simply because, contra-Celine, “the spider-thin threads that chain me inexorably to recorded time are” tightening instead of loosening (https://deargoditsmeceline.tumblr.com, 8.16.18). There is less opportunity for the Me to escape, and so the pressure builds in a great bubble until of course it must burst. This hypothesis seems confirmed in the squabbles I had with my partner yesterday, and the general malaise I feel that only listening to sad music while making sad faces can remedy.

I play Phoebe Bridger’s melody about playing music at a funeral, but alas, it was so much prettier when set to the sight of the graves and mausoleums I walked by.

Yours, Awed

*

4/14/19 (Sunday)

Dear Void,

Already I sense my imminent departure from Your presence. It is not my nature to acknowledge you, for it threatens to swallow me up. In Celine’s first video appearance (“O! To the Void!”, https://vimeo.com/285346277), she dances with the boundary between light and dark, between our reality and You, Dear Void. I am confused by how she is able to dance all the way into You, and then back out again so she can turn off her recording device. Is this all a joke to her?

I think of the end of MAGNUM OPUS. After her suitably elaborate bows, she came out to ask for verbal feedback. I felt particularly angry about this. Were we meant to treat her earnestly, given her complete unwillingness to drop her obvious persona? Even if a part of Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs truly does feel she is Celine, Celine is surely not all Jacobs is, and it was Jacobs, if anyone, who I wanted to speak to once the performance was done. If you ask for feedback while still wearing your mask, you may at any time remove said mask and laugh at your responders for taking you seriously. They don’t know what you want. They don’t know who you are.

I kept waiting for the grand epiphany to be delivered, Dear Void, but it never came.

Yours, (Somewhat less) Awed.

*

Later that day

I keep thinking about Celine’s PRELUDE to the piece I experienced on Thursday (from Joe’s Pub Dance Now, https://vimeo.com/301043898). Much of the material in it was then used in MAGNUM OPUS, but the feeling was so different.

Her vulnerability more palpable, her tug of war between the desire, nay, the need for corporate visibility in this noisy, uncaring world (on the one hand) and the compulsion to express oneself as an artist, to fulfill one’s own vision, not Jü Brandy’s or Blandly Agency’s or the random catering company’s.  Thinking back I can see this in MAGNUM OPUS, but instead of expanded upon it felt like it had simply been polished. This is a sign of competent artistry, to be sure, but also one of sealing off, of not showing the multiple layers of self that one hides behind the persona, or the persona’s persona.

*

4/15/19 (Monday)

Dear Me,

The Void has left. I can feel it. Today I spent my day at work adhering labeling stickers to manila filing folders. It was not the monotony of the task that bothered me—indeed, the respite from answering the phone that it brought allowed for a certain level of meditation—but rather my instant need for validation that I was doing a good job. I wanted [REDACTED] to notice my work: how quickly I stuck, how neatly I stacked. This was never meant to mean so much.

My remaining thought of Celine is that I hope, despite my issues with MAGNUM OPUS, that she continues on. I had the thought that if she ever becomes famous—and I hope, despite the following, that she does—the profundity of her work and message will be somewhat lost. The self-seriousness with which she takes herself, the unabashed diva behavior, the strutting, the sliding, the slamming and swooning, it all humorously abuts the idea of the Void, the relative lack of attention she gets for her antics. The delusion of capital-r Romance and of maintaining a Pure Artist’s soul in the throes of this cruel world, should she gain wide visibility, would no longer be delusion. I felt the privilege of inhabiting space with her as she just begins her career.

Yours,
Audrey

Oh, Celine is created by Kate Ladenheim and Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs and produced by the People Movers.

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