Alice in Bed
8 November 2019
Oh, the ecstasy of solitude!
How heroic to be able to suppress one’s vanity to the extent of confessing that the game is too hard.
Alice James, on suicide
The name Alice. What is hidden is a search, hidden is the unknown, the grotesque and the dangerous. A miracle is hidden. Alice is found in unrecognizable forms, appearing as a ghost and as a partner. Despite its unrecognizability, this body can be Alice, the last frontier of Alice. The black sun shines in the cold room in which Alice lives. There is no one around her.
In her diary, Alice James wrote about an elderly couple who decided to jump together into a swollen river after a full lifetime. This is Alice’s determination, her daydream, and there is something magical in this daydream. Alice believes in magic, not in trickery and spells, but in the light that spills through the window into the room, illuminating the shiny particles in the air, the golden leaves that give us the will to live. She believes in the power of sudden happiness, momentarily granting everything a form of sense and order which breaks down in the next moment. Her legacy is a testimony of a constant quest and its liberating power, since the existence of a sense would turn everything in an empty automaton. All that we have, and this is what Alice tells us, is a quest that makes everything meaningful, and this is the greatest degree of optimism which we can sincerely stand by.
A thought occurred to me today — There is nothing, nothing that stops me from doing anything except myself … I’ll take off— God, living is enormous!
Alice James is hiding in intimacy and in relationships with other people. What does it mean to talk to someone? What does it mean to be heard, let alone understood? The black sun that shines and cripples in the forefront of being, closes one in small rooms. Loneliness and solitude. Silence and immobility. What is the boundary of life? The game is pain and all the efforts to make sense fail. Complex and tied, we are slowly drifting towards Alice – we desire her nearness. It is our desire to own her, to be her acquaintances, her brothers, her saviours; we desire to be the ones to carry her pain for her. But she is too quick for us, she is stronger than us, she outwits and evades us. We cannot understand Alice and she writes in her diary: Cuckoo birds imitate cuckoo clocks masterly.
“Concerning the death of Gertrude Stein: she came out of a deep coma to ask her companion Alice Toklas, “Alice, Alice, what is the answer?” Her companion replied, “There is no answer.” Gertrude Stein continued, “Well, then, what is the question?” and fell back dead.”
Dorian Šilec Petek
56th Maribor Theatre Festival