This essay draws upon the author’s performance script Fall and Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project as a provocation for considering the ways performance texts provide a threshold for somatic inquiry, and for recognizing the limits of scholarly analysis that does not take up performance-as-inquiry. Set at the Empire State Building, this essay embodies the connections and missed possibilities between strangers and intimates in the context of urban modern life. Fall’s protagonist is positioned within a landscape of capitalist exchange, but defies this matrix to offer instead a gift at the threshold of life/death, virtual/real, and love/loss. Through somatic inquiry and witnessing as threshold experiences, the protagonist (as Benjamin’s flaneur) moves through urban space and time, proving that both scholarship and performance remain irrevocably embodied, and as such invariably tethered to the visceral, the stranger, risk, and death.
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