"Take a dancing flight"
Exactly 30 tears after NASA launched the Apollo space programme, Disconaut
AAA has unveiled its own Dionysus Programme.
When Apollo 1 caught fire on the launch paid in 1967 it marked the start
of the US government's biggest ever space effort. but why Apollo? If pagan
deities was the name of the game there were plenty of others to choose from.
To answer this we have to turn to Fred Nietzsche, the 19th century German
philosopher and dance enthusiast.
In the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche identified two antagonistic cultural
tendencies with the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo was associated
with restraint, control, order and rationality. The rituals of Dionysus
on the other hand involved music, passion, wine, intoxication and the dissolving
of boundaries. As part of the military industrial complex, seeking to extend
the control of the imperial order through the conquest of space, NASA's
programme could only be the Apollonian. The Dionysus Programme has been
launched in direct opposition to Apollo and its successors, to put into
practice Disconaut AAA's mission to explore the potential for dance cultures
for the exploration of space.
The starting point for the Dionysus Programme is Nietzsche's description
of "the glowing life of the Dionysian revellers": "In song
and in dance man [sic] expresses himself as a member of a higher community;
he has forgotten how to walk and speak; he is about to take a dancing flight
into the air... He feels himself a god, he himself now walks about enchanted,
in ecstasy... He is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art".
Phew, all this without MDMA.
Disconaut AAA are attempting to apply this insight into the links between
dance, ecstasy and flight as we leave the twentieth century. For some years
experiments have been carried out in a global network of underground laboratories
of pleasure. We can now report some of our preliminary findings:
­p; The Dionysus Programme has accumulated extensive evidence of near
flight experiences on the dancefloor. Participants typically report sensations
of 'rushing', of accelerating velocity, of the body tracing a line of flight
and of leaving behind 'the real world' and establishing a direct connection
with the wider universe. There are clear parallels here with the effects
on the body and the euphoric feelings of escaping gravity associated with
'lift off' by more traditional means.
­p; In the Dionysus Programme we have tried to break the tyranny of liquid-fuel
rocket-propulsion and to identify alternative fuel resources and means of
transport. In the process we have experimented with a range of easily ingested
chemicals, some of them derived from plants, others artificially manufactured.
These substances have contributed some invaluable insights and certainly
have a role, particularly in maintaining the stamina needed for long flights.
However we have to report that several of our experimental human probes
which were successfully blasted beyond the atmosphere with chemical propulsion
quickly crashed down to earth and vanished without trace, while others are
now drifting aimlessly in space circumscribing ever decreasing circles around
­p; The Dionysus Programme has conducted a whole range of tests with
extremely high tempo electronic sounds. Our hypothesis was that a continual
acceleration in beats per minute would enable us to reach earth's escape
velocity and take off. Unfortunately after prolonged uninterrupted exposure
to these tests the ship began to break up and several participants showed
signs of exhaustion and in some cases nausea. Future experiments will attempt
to reduce the risk of side effects by introducing greater variety and rhythmic
­p; Ill-fitting space suits have been an ongoing problem in the Dionysus
Programme. A major difficulty has been the rigid masculine character armour
which even some potential astronauts seem unable to discard. Dance cultures
provide a space where it is possible to escape the confines of a fixed identity
and explore a range of subjectivities and possibilities. Sadly a lot of
men in particular seem afraid to appear as anything other than cool, serious
and controlled. Clearly this is incompatible with the flexibility required
in space. Disconaut AAA are developing fun fur and sequin space suits to
help overcome this.
The present efforts of the Dionysus Programme are geared towards the Dreamtime
project, through which AAA groups around the world are imagining what life
will be like in autonomous communities in space. Dance settings provide
a unique opportunity for collective dreaming, not the passive dreams of
sleep, but the visions of the lived body in perfect motion.
Here we are not only able to think about life in space, but to feel what
it will be like to live in an autonomous community. Nietzsche described
this sensation: "Under the charm of the Dionysian not only is the union
between man and man [and woman] reaffirmed, but Nature which has become
estranged, hostile or subjugated, celebrates once more her reconciliation
with her prodigal son, man... Now the slave is free; now all the stubborn,
hostile barriers, which necessity, caprice or 'shameless fashion' have erected
between man and man are broken down... Each one feels himself not only united,
reconciled, blended with his neighbour, but all is one with him."
By creating autonomous zones in our own parties on earth we can create conditions
that prefigure autonomous communities in outer space. To do this we have
to neutralise the negative effects of various black holes which suck energy
out of dance cultures, such as commercial promoters and the police. This
will be the focus of the next stage of the Dionysus Programme.
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