Approaching No-Form
The Shifting Contexts of Void Space
© 2016-18 Antero Alli

My ongoing experience and relation with No-Form process has undergone many stages over four decades of Paratheatre. If there's been a consistent thread throughout these stages it's how No-Form has never been what I thought it was. Recently, I discovered how to articulate these stages of development in my own words. They're posted here in case others might find them useful.


First stage: Resistance (1977; five weeks).
I was initiated into this work after seven years of studying, teaching, and performing a style of Mime Theatre that combined modern dance and method acting that demanded a high level of control over body, gesture, and movement. In this orientation, No-Form was totally inaccessible. I resisted letting go of my highly developed and coveted sense of self-control, a prized technical prowess that also maintained my sense of self, my income, and my status as a performer of physical talent. After five weeks of attempting No-Form, it finally hit me suddenly, like a lightning bolt, and threw me down to the floor laughing my ass off. A locked door swung open to a bell ringing in an empty sky.

Second stage: Religious (1977-78; three months).
Being struck by No-Form acted as a kind of a religious conversion experience. No-Form became for me "the answer to everything", my be-all-end-all truth about Life. I naturally wanted to share the news with the world! I am Nothing and so are you! For several months, I attempted to convert others to the No-Form experience: I am Nothing and so are you! That did not go over well. Like any other religious fanatic, I only ended up alienating myself. Out of sheer futility, I finally stopped trying to convert others and began my search for another way to cope with my conversion experience.

Third stage: Nothing Special (1979-present day).
During my search, I read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki who referred to the No-Form process as Nothing Special (see page 46 in the book). This idea held great appeal for me and helped cool the white hot fire of my religious fervor. No-Form practice in Paratheatre became more workman-like. I focused more on the function of No-Form, what it did -- as a trance-induction device and as a tool for trance-dispersion or, breaking trance -- than No-Form as God. Make trance, break trance. No-Form became more practical, less "religious".

Fourth stage: Escape (1990-93; three years).
During this stage, No-Form became for me a kind of escape, a refuge and sanctuary, from the anxiety and stresses of daily life. Here, No-Form provided a deep sense of safety missing from my life, a meta-place where I could disappear and avoid the static of the out-there world and the toxic default culture at large. However, this escapist tendency proved short-lived. It soon became obvious that I could not function in the world the way I wanted to if I was busy hiding in the void. Dwelling in the un-manifest potential state frustrated my needs to manifest certain ambitions and realize my dreams. I was not done with the world and the world was not done with me.

Fifth stage: Acceptance (1998-present day).
No-Form as "friend". By simple acceptance of No-Form, I developed an ongoing friendship with the fertile Void. A gentle rapport helped me stay receptive, a critical condition for staying creative and close to the Muses, those sources of inspiration guiding my works in paratheatre and filmmaking. This deepened capacity for receptivity became a strong value that remains in me to this day, a value that sustains all my creative work, my interpersonal relations, and the realization of my dreams.

Sixth stage: Identity (2008-present day).
No-form as true nature. After three decades of No-Form practice in Paratheatre I became increasingly aware of, not only a deepening acceptance of and relationship with the fertile Void but, an experience of myself as an expression of the Void - not as any concept or idea but as identity. Void as true nature. Now - when entering No-Form in Paratheatre work, I have only to remember who I am and instantly, a deep receptivity opens up. This stage holds such infinite capacity that I cannot see any further stages of No-Form experience beyond integrating all previous five stages. I'm not counting this as any final arrival; No-Form has never been what I thought it was or should be.


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