Discipline // Esther Neff

Meme by Esther neff

Meme by Esther neff

In 2013 Culture Push supported—via an Honorary Fellowship—a conference called Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theatre, organized by Yelena Gluzman and me. This conference positioned performance as theorization processes and performed theory as “sites for sight.” My own work (performance, text, organization) continues to practice (un)disciplined modes of embodied thinking as deliberate, affective, (en)semblative gut-brain-mind-doing. By “we” in this text, I mean my self and my plural entanglements with that and those for and with whom “care” may (have) be(en) performed… 

Thank you and in solidarity,



We would never ooze like C3H6OS in your presence, sore, or smear on you the faces of cut onions. Every morning we sweat or weep a small amount of poison, 5-20 minutes.

The most we are willing to give ourselves is permission to express opinion and even this, we are often sure, is not our place; sometimes we write but, due to disease, for at least 1 hour we must sit on the toilet and usually this takes up the time allotted.

Our grandfather hacked open his body cast with an axe to save his legs from gangrene. We grew up in a culture skeptical of physical pain and enraged by emotions. He believes that we (and other so-called women) cry in order to manipulate others.

When, passing a cheap bar of chocolate, the discussion turns to “self care,” we do understand that we should pursue it to save our-selves because no one else will. We do understand that they keep us barely alive, just enough to consume soothing products, drugs, and technologies, and to produce licenses. We do understand capitalism as an eugenics schema, all of its final solutions stemming from metabolic panics regarding access to “resources.” Regarding those autopoetics like meaningfulness and joy, some affective insurgencies, are “worthless” to them as goods, thus potentiate liberation. We are here now, where people talk all over one another and little social discipline is in place for preempting default disrespects.

We appreciate the ideas about pleasure orientations, and the ethical perspective that One Self is also a person to which one should do no harm. Yet, we have never really tried to quit smoking.

We want to be the taster who ingests small portions of cyanide daily, until they can assassinate the king, the snake handler who tattoos themselves with the venom towards immunity, the “maiden” who feeds themselves arsenic until they can poison any rapist with a kiss.

Discipline falls one step above self-punishment and three steps behind self-righteousness (how many steps are there, en total, to this program? May we absent the regimen entirely, and freely embrace you, overwhelmed by a love so terrible the tornado sirens are triggered?)

Discipline is de-feminized language for self-care.

Discipline is emasculated language for self-control.

Discipline is not just what we do for our selves, it is also

what we do for you. Otherwise, we would surely hurt you.

At the end of the day, we have a bed to ourselves, an almost intolerable luxury. We perform this score: focus on the crown of the head until a vortex forms, pull the tip down to fill the skull, feel the force pulling at the third eye, gathering in the gorge, vibrating in the chest, splintering lightning throughout the abdominal brain, melting in the lower belly, opening up the anus and cunt, prickling with fresh rain all down the thighs, calves, falling down into the earth through the soles of the feet.