“The desperate need for coagulation.”
In the world of alchemy, the precursor of science-based thinking, magic, and logic were intertwined. In the “golden bough” a book by anthropologist James George Frazer, one can see the history of magic, reason, religion, and science.
It all starts with a need to “control” the environment and fate. A crude example of what Frazer talks about is the life of a primitive Shaman, the person who controls (not really) the weather for a tribe, but this shaman’s life is at stake because, for every wrong prediction, the tribe loses faith in his ability to “control” the outcome!
In an “off with his head” fashion, the tribe kills every shaman that didn’t bring rain when rain was needed (and when rain was promised).
The next unfortunate soul takes the place of the beheaded shaman, and now their life is at stake! However, the next one learns from the previous shaman’s mistakes and develops observatory powers. “When that cloud is down low over the mountains, this strange watery feeling and pain come over my old wounds, bones, and skin,” he thinks, “and after this feeling… rain!” Therefore, this shaman “predicts” weather, this shaman in a sense, invents SCIENCE. He is smart, he now synchronizes his dance and invocations with the cloud in the sky! Nevertheless, you know how the weather is; we will never have the conditions perfectly observed or simulated to actually predict weather… so sometimes his dances would fail.
One day after too many failures, the tribe gets ready to behead him when he yells “STOP.” The tribe freezes…” above me, there is someone else,” the shaman tells them, “and this someone told me… IT’S YOUR FAULT THE RAIN DIDN’T COME.” So now, this Shaman has also invented proto-religion!
As these two were born from the same mind, they are mixed, magic and science in one pack. But let me get back to alchemy, the medieval cousin of chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of metals (to gold) and of the self!
To be scientific, you have to take a phenomenon and observe, dilute, distill, and dissect it to understand it!
In Latin, the phrase is to “Solve”… to break down into parts… in our acting science that is precisely what Stanislavski did. He observed master actors like Salvini and Duse in an attempt to discover what the naturalness and ease of these great actors consisted of; he started creating the “system.”
The system is a dissection of the creative state of those actors… all the techniques emanating from that school of thought are also compartmentalizing and dissecting; they use solvents to water down and see the components of good acting!
But remember the other half of the alchemical saying? Coagula? The meaning of this Latin word is coagulation; you know what happens if your blood is too thin, right? You die!
We are in a time of too much solving and too little coagulation; we need to start reconstructing and putting together; we need to bring back magic into the equation! You see all these masters Stanislavsky observed didn’t have a clue about “super objectives” “verbs”, “bits”, “emotional through lines” or “concentration exercises”, etc. They had one thing: “coagulation of the circumstances.” That is all they knew about; their bread and butter were the circumstances. NO breaking down, no solving, no dilution, no dissection.
Raw accumulation of what was; they ate up the story, and then lived it! So are you in the process of “solve”? Or are you in the process of coagulation? Because most actors, directors, and teachers I see stay in the Solve part, forgetting that, in the end, it is all about the blood running through your veins!
Copyright 2023 Kimon Fioretos, All Rights Reserved.