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

My ongoing experience and relation with the No-Form process has undergone many significant stages over four decades of Paratheatre and living with the ongoing results of applyiong its methods. Beyond these stages, one constant remains. No-Form has never been what I thought it was. Recently, I discovered a language to articulate these stages of development in my own No-Form process. I post them here in the event others may find it 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 based on asserting 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, my status. After five weeks of attempting No-Form, I finally broke through and broke down. The No-Form experience hit me suddenly, like a lightning bolt, and threw me to the floor laughing my ass off.

Second stage: Religious (1977-78; three months).
Being struck by No-Form like that tunred into a kind of a religious conversion experience. No-Form became for me "the answer to everything", my be-all-end-all truth about God. I 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. That did not go over well. Like any other religious fanatic, I alienated 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 jets of my religious fervor. My 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 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 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 (1996-present day).
No-Form as friend. By simple acceptance of the existence of No-Form, I developed an ongoing friendship with the fertile Void. This gentle rapport helped me stay receptive, a critical condition for staying creative and close to my sources of inspiration fueling my works in theatre and filmmaking. This earned capacity for receptivity became a strong value that remains in me to this day, a value that enables 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 many years 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 blossoms. This sixth stage holds such infinite capacity that I have not found any further stages of the No-Form experience beyond integrating elements from all previous five stages. I'm notcounting this as any final absolute stage; No-Form can never be what I think.
I'm counting it as central to my being.


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