Raging by the Book


In ancient Greek comedy, parabasis named 'a part sung by the chorus, addressed to the audience in the poet's name, and unconnected with the action of the drama.' Calling themselves 'the bodies of rage and longing,' six artists and filmmakers based in the United States - Dimitri Kotsaras, Mr. Flo, Melissa Longenecker, Jennifer Nelson, Michael Wilson, and Natalie Zimmerman - have devised an ongoing, collaborative project to promote parabasis transnationally. With foci in Los Angeles and Athens, The Book of Rage and Longing stages an interrogative return to the putative birthplace of Western democracy. Viewers submit textual or visual rants, connected or unconnected with the daily unfolding dramas of wars worldwide. Unedited, these texts and images are projected on a rooftop facing the Acropolis. An 'interpretive/administrative committee' modifies these contributions, reshaping them into the titular book, segments of which a group of Greek singers then performs. Read in the aftermath of this year's presidential election, these instances of parabasis have begun to seem rather more tragic than comic, as when one self-styled poet opines, 'From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,/ We must take back our land again,/ America.' - Ramsey McGlazer