ON POSTOPERATIC CERTAINTY

Jelena Novak

1.    If you do know that tonight you are in the opera, we’ll grant you all the rest.
2.    From its seeming to me – or to everyone – to be so, it doesn’t follow that it is so. What we can ask is whether it can make sense to doubt it.
3.    If e.g. someone says “I don’t know if I am in the opera”, he might be told “Look closer”- This possibility of satisfying oneself is part of the language-game. Is one of its essential features.
4.    “I know I have a body”. In order to see how unclear the sense of this proposition is, consider its negation. At most it might be taken to mean “I know I have the organs of a human”.
5.    Whether a proposition can turn out false after all depends on what I make count as determinants for that proposition.
6.    The statement “I know I am in the opera” may than be continued: “It’s the opera I look at”, or “It’s the opera I hear”. Than a reasonable man will not doubt that I know. That this is an illusion has to be shown in a different way.
7.    The fact that director has been given an opportunity to stage the opera is more important than the opera itself.
8.    “It is possible to check the proposition based on experience” (we say). But how? By which means?
9.    I dream I am in the opera and I was killed on stage by the weapons which look like virtual weapons of the video games. It erases square-shaped parts of my hands. There is no pain. I woke up with frustration and unbearable sense of impossibility to repair my own organism… If the dream is an experience, it is checkable. My body disappeared in the opera, but I still knew that I was there.
10.    If I simultaneously claim “I know this is a botanic garden”, or “This is unfinished building of botanic faculty”, and “This is an opera”, it is a question how I believe that opera could be played out of the opera house.
11.    If I say “Now we are in the opera”, how would you believe me?
12.    When we start to believe in something, it is not single proposition we believe in, but the whole system of propositions. Doubt comes after faith.
13.    If someone says: “I have a body”, we can ask “Who speaks by that mouth?”
14.    If someone says: “My body is in the opera”, we will assume that one is saying that according to the experience, or based on the power to linguistically define his/her position and suggest it to the others.
15.    When I write opera, what do I presume?
16.    When we accept the term opera we are not defining the difference, gap, between some single works and range of the modernist opera project.
17.    If there is no difference in the language, that it doesn’t exist.
18.    If I say “I never heard/saw postopera”, where from did I get that knowledge? I didn’t calculate that, nobody told me; it is suggested by my memory. – So, I couldn’t make a mistake? Is that a truth I know? – All the other judgments will be crashed if I separate from that judgment.
19.    If I would claim that Operrra is postopera, that wouldn’t be only an assumption.
20.    That wouldn’t be an assumption, and I could say that with absolute certainty, as that is something un-doubtable. And does that mean we are speaking of unconditional truth? Is it possible that something I certainly recognize as postopera show as something completely different? Isn’t it able to astonish me?
21.    The statement “I know…” is meaningful only connected to the rest of the knowledge archive.
22.    Hans Thies Lehman knew that postdramatic theatre works are those in which primate of dramatic texts over the other texts disappeared. Experience taught him that?
23.    I am often obsesses with some words. For example, “know” or “analogy”.
24.    With what certainty I claim that notions signed as postdramatic theatre and postopera are analogous?
25.    How do I establish analogy?
26.    On the basis of the next facts: opera texts are not ordered according to hierarchy constructed on domination of some of them; unpossibility of establishing unity of the opera texts that build rhizome-like structure; reliability on institutions of mass art and mass media; existence of postopera, opera after opera, opera after the end of historical opera project and its symbolic death; includings of theory that consider and make legitimate opera works after the finished opera history; ‘consciousness’ of the opera in the age of technical/electronic/digital reproduction that counts both with multiplication of opera recordings and questioning of the possibilities of technical reproducibility and their conceptualization and performance within the piece.
27.    Difference in the language is based on the experience and power. I am certainly confident only in power over my own body and voice. They belong just to me.
28.    The power produces experience. Social aspect was always very important to the opera. By the opera, social power was shown. Opera was often a mirror, the sight of inscription of the body of the society, the sight of class struggles.
29.    I know that the body and the voice in the opera produce differences.
30.    The difference between postdramatic theatre and postopera is empirical: unlike the works of postdramatic theatre, postopera primarily questions, problematizes and redefines specific institution of opera, not the theatre.
31.    What is the proof of me knowing something? The proof certainly is not the statement that I know.
32.    What I can rely on?
33.    Every language-game is based on recognition of the words and things. With the same inexorability we learn that it is a chair, and that 2×2=4.
34.    It is not possible to recognize history. It is possible to produce it.
35.    Constitution of operatic post-history corresponds with the context of “… strengthening of European and North American integrations, global market, and transnational media industries” in which “theatre is not contemporary trend, but anachronism” (Johannes Birringer). Traditional opera today is possible to be seen as a relict of distant times. It is eclectic and analogue, and as such, it is a foreigner in digital, information, technological, semiotic, media society.
36.    Operrrra is postopera in posthistory.
37.    If something would happen (if, for example, someone would tell me something), something that would be appropriate to wake mine doubts, it would certainly appear something that would make the causes of the doubt also suspicious, so that I could decide to keep my old faith.
38.    And what if something really incredible would happen? If, for example, I would see that posthistory of the opera, without the obvious reason, becomes the pile of polished Italian stones…? Was I right, when, previously, I said “I know that is the posthistory?”
39.    Language-game: bringing the bricks, revealing Little Murmaid, composing Classifieds improvizing on themes of popular songs, annunciation of the number of disposable stones. Sometimes one estimates the number, sometimes one establishes it by counting. Than the question is posed: “Do you believe that there is that much stones?”, and the answer is given: “I know that, I just counted it.”. But, “I know” could be omitted. If, however, there are more ways of certain establishing, like counting, weight measuring or sizing the pile, than “I know” could replace description how is to be known.
40.    I knew that according to criteria of class and taste, opera was stranger in my world; just I was in opera’s. Corporeality of operatic, coloratura voices disturbed me, triviality of opera libretto plots was repulsive, and static staging was boring and anachronous.
41.    Has that proposition excluded the certain type of mistake?
42.    If someone believes that he/she is in botanic garden, I believe that he/she could be wrong.
43.    I am sitting in the garden with philosopher; he repeats “I know that’s the tree” showing tree standing near us. Third person appears, hears that, and I say: “This man is not insane. We are just making philosophic conversation”.
44.    Why we are here tonight? Because there is no opera house in this town? Because we like plants?
45.    “I know that’s the opera”.

(Contents, methodology and way of constructing of this text are paraphrase and re/decomposition of the parts of text by Ludwig Wittgenstein, Über Gewwissheit, in: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Werkausgabe Band 8, Suhrkamp Verlag Frankfurt am Main 1984. We used Serbian and English translation: Ludvig Vitgenštajn, O izvesnosti, Beograd, Fidelis, 1996, preveo Božidar Zec, Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty, New York, Harper & Row, 1972).

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