the writer, the performer, the program, the madwoman

text by Hazel Smith
sound processing by Roger Dean

a computer interactive audio version of “the writer, the performer, the program, the madwoman” --

the writer, the performer, the program, the madwoman

I am a writer, I am a performer, I am a computer program, I am a madwoman. Texts come back to me, texts I have not spoken. Do you think you know me? I keep reaching for my voice, but it has been plucked and purged. On my own I have little charm. I'm cold, and hope you will press the buttons and warm me a little. I'm afraid, but it's devotion that urges me do this. Tear me up! Dissolve me! But don't create apartheids now you are in a position of power.

I hurl bricks through windows never knowing where the glass will land. I throw out commands knowing you will disobey. I write, longing to be interrupted.

As I talk you are destroying me! Drink me! Spit me out!

But I have my power: the divine gift of inattention. A trembling, rocking independence. I am talking to you, though you may not have noticed, in the oblique language of resistance.

My words become sounds which pour their answers back. My thoughts are washed up like whales on beaches.

But remember: Britannia never ruled the waves.

You can make the ugly irresistible. You can dye hair purple, bob a drooping nose. You can paint white until it builds to black. You can print me in the ink of my desires. But how can I welcome it, when I'm afraid of alarming what I feel?

A madwoman isn't someone anyone wants to know. No one knows what a madwoman wants or will do next. But the sane need the mad to measure themselves up against. The sane need the mad to feel there is a route for escape.

I am a madwoman, I am a madman, I am a madcap, I am a madhatter, I am a maelstrom, I am a moped, I am a minefield, I am a mantra, I am an anthill, I am an agent, I am an army, I am Australian.

I've stopped wearing wigs these days, instead I change heads. I long for someone to know me, but I despise familiarity. One day I'm near-male, the next near-female: it depends how I translate. Once I forgot everything. I was in hell and it was bliss. Then I had to relearn how to live, as if the world had only just been breastfed. I knew what it would be like to be wombed, but also to be extinct.

Can you see? The technology gods gaze down at me waving their virtual wands. My steps are unsteady but I revel in non-balance. Words are my walking sticks. Frailty, that's what I thrive on and dread.

Syntax, narrative, they tug at my skirts and say — don't leave us behind. But I can be ruthless too. And I like to wear different robes on different days: those that flaunt nakedness; those that dissemble and hide.

I'm not a character, I'm a voicescape. I'm pitched everywhere. Watch out London, Paris, Bangok, Calcutta! One moment I'm up and the next moment I'm down. I've told you before, I'm a writer. I don't want to perform. But theatre holds me in its wayward embrace.

It's when I say ‘laugh' and ‘bath' that I give it away. Tangled roots, recalcitrant branches. But you can change even my birthplace, even my birthright.

I don't like audiences, or maybe I have liked them too much .

There is always the conception of the work, a face with dim features you reach awkwardly towards. Beginnings which keep on receding backwards.

Machines making madness, madness masking machines.

There is no writing that is not a case of mistaken identity.


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