chapter  7
5 Pages

The most concealed object: Herbert Blau


We gaze, in separation, at what we cannot touch, though we fear to be touched by that at which we gaze. There is in that the double sense of physical touch and the emotionally touching, of being touched and touched, moreover, by being out of sight or – as with Philoctetes in his cave or Richard II in Pomfret Castle or in the Funeral Studio of The Balcony – what is not being at all. It is in the Funeral Studio where that Genetic emissary from the heart of absence, the Envoy, stirs up the hallucinatory confusion with his seductive questions, the (fiction of) revolution bursting around him. The play appeared just as the theater, in the sixties, was about to go into an activist phase, as if to throw off (with a similar fiction?) the insidious end of the scopic drive: “Won’t you answer?” says the Envoy, incapacitating a politics. “Would it perturb you to see things as they are? To gaze at the world tranquilly and accept responsibility for your gaze, whatever it might see?”1 Whatever it might see is not at all, of course, what we might wish, which is why we’re not tranquil, and why the Gospel warns that we have eyes that we might not see.