In the small hours of Thanksgiving morning, an old and cherished companion, with whom we were staying in San Francisco for the holiday, died of a massive stroke.
Pondering this awful event with our very dear friend, his widow—a strange archaic word; we never thought we’d be old enough to be widowed—I am assaulted by the tumbling, fragmentary nature of memory. Singly or together, trying to work out how to negotiate a sudden yawning crater in the ordinary world, we trip over funny little shards of recollection or are engulfed by longer, emotionally charged passages. Brief deceptive instants, when it seems as if that cancelling eruption never happened, are drowned without warning in pure, searing loss.
A painful, curious and fitting preparation for writing a post on Instantly Bound, Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers’s exploration of sudden death. Olivier knows, and embodies in this piece, how life or the memory of life is anything but linear. Scenes, events, interactions with the dead one come back piecemeal, interrupted by inexplicable interpolations, a patchwork with no logical order, no empirical progression.
Memory is stretchy, elastic. But the real trajectory of death is one-directional. The past cannot be rewound, back-pedaled, undone. And yet, ordinary life marches onward, mercilessly—and mercifully? A group, a community of dancers, moving together rhythmically, surrounds and holds close the suffering bereaved, friends endeavoring to bind the wounds.
But Instantly Bound has two motifs, two subjects: the shock of time chopped off too soon and the awfulness of violent gun-death. Excruciatingly aware just now of the fabric of life ripped apart—when the catalyzing agent is natural, a bad draw, genetic happenstance—I wonder how one can possibly manage to deal with death brought about by human agency. No one caused our friend’s demise on purpose. There is nobody to blame; it just happened; it was bad luck. But what if it had occurred through malevolence, death by intended act, random or targeted? The obscenity of gun-inflicted violence puts down an added layer of horror.