The need for a wow is paramount. There is no situation where a wow can not shake the habitual, move you in to the very heart of the mundane, and re-fascinate your existence.
From day to day, we move about in a world that we know very little about. I do not know how electricity works, how leaves grows on a tree or how a touch screen knows my finger. Most of the time, I think no more of it. It is one of the known unknowns, the mundane things I cannot explain but that I can use or simply co-exist with. But then, every now and then, they re-emerge in my consciousness as an act of wonder.
As I am writing this, I am traveling to San Francisco on the Pacific Starlight. The train runs smoothly through amazing landscapes, with windows to the sky and two tour volunteer tour guides of ancient origin telling stories about fighting roosters, sleeping missile silos, oil fields, oils spills, rocket launches and cows. When they finish I get a sticker with a stamp from the NHT (National Heritage Trail) which I place on my wireless phone to cover the logo. The train passes over bridges and seaside, across fields and mountains, it even passes by Elon Musk’s Space X program, in the middle of the Vandenburg Air Force Base. But an hour ago, it stopped in the small town of xxx and did not start again. The train had lost electricity. Thus no toilets, no light, no air condition, no movement, no nothing. We all got out of the train and kind of just looked at it, sitting completely still (like one of those shiny silver airstreamers owned by James Cameron that the tour guide had just showed us). Wow, I thought. Wow, I can’t believe how used I am to electricity. To trains to run smooth. To the “dark” of the night being kind of bright. Constantly lit by electricity.
I use to say that there is a lack of public fascination with electricity. Well I believe that. But not only with electricity. We have lost the ability to be fascinated by science, by nature, by behaviors and situations that are completely awe-some. I mean, they deserve some awe.
My fascination for these mundane wonders has less to do with the urge to figure them out. At least I want to believe that I do not need to “uncover” or “discover” any of it. To let them re-emerge in my consciousness as an act of wonder is a means of keeping them in the unknown, and accepting these unknowns as constituting factors of existence.
I do not want to shed light on the unknown. I rather love the darkness, in a Gothic sense. As a love for the mystical, occult and spiritual which draws from the power of our flaws, shortcomings and ill behaviors. The darkness can harbor a critique of the happiness regime, of the contemporary self help society, driven by self-improvement rather than societal improvement. And it is dark, not illuminating any truths or news, but remaining somewhat hidden for the eye. Lurking in murky waters.
I also love electricity, in a wow sense. As a love for the invisible powers we can’t explain, and its existence in the intersection between the scientifically proven and the spiritual force, as an inexplicable power existing in the midst of our mundane life. And for bringing light in darkness, in the most artificial way.
I guess you can only really see electricity in the dark.
In any case, some geniuses in the front of the platform changed the engine of the train, rebooted the whole system, blew life into its electric synapses and off we went. I sent a wireless message to my partner, saying: “We’re rolling”, plugged my computer into 120 Volts of train supply, and started to write down these thoughts. As I was writing, the sun set over the mountains, and left me with the glow of 20 touchscreens and about 20 billion stars.
The US Premiere of Thunderstruck by Stina Nyberg is April 25-26 at CounterPulse. Get tickets at counterpulse.org/thunderstruck.
Stina Nyberg is a choreographer and dancer from Sweden who for many years have been trying to blur the divides between science, art and belief. She has, amongst other things, choreographed the Shaking the Habitual tour with The Knife, created works for the Cullberg ballet as well as a string of independent works in Europe. She is currently spending time in New York to continue her investigations through dance.