W is a research collective that studies action in a performance setting. What does it mean to act as others watch? What characterizes the relation we call theater?

To answer these questions, W simultaneously develops three complementary approaches: a practice, which builds tools and techniques for the actor; a critical method, which suggests reception guidelines for the spectator; and a theory, which works towards defining notions useful to the first two approaches.

In particular, W produces games, a score writing software, a lexicon of operational notions, workshops and practical sessions, critical seminars, as well as articles and conferences.

Introduction to W is the transcription of a conference given by Joris Lacoste and Jeanne Revel at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2007. It presents some of the presuppositions of the W approach, illustrated with various examples.

Bloc Tactics is an article that complements the rules of the game of Block. Using examples from actual games, it presents different ways of playing, strategies and tactics.

A Game of Tomb consists of several dialogues written from a round of the Tomb Game played in September 2009.

A Round of The Rule Game is the transcription of a typical round of play of this game.


The Bloc Game was born in the fall of 2003, at the intersection of a text for theater and a collective exercise that often involved multiple people racing to a public speaking engagement. In some cases, the race was easy, but speaking proved more difficult: speaking together—that is, not all at once but one for the whole, without any premeditated order, while remaining open and flexible to the event in question—proved to be an occasionally chaotic endeavor. We had to learn to improvise a type of speech addressed to others that could produce a discourse as it took shape.

The rather mixed group that founded the Bloc Game in Fall 2003 had initially planned to work on a text. Most participants were fed up running races like they run their mouths and running their mouths like they run races. The question put forth by the text, that of the possibility of collective speech, was thus answered in practice rather than in representation: by attempting to improvise this way of speaking together, by seeking to build something with five voices that was unknown beforehand and discovered only once it had been put into words.

This real-time approach is made possible by following a small number of formal rules: the game’s discourse is elaborated as it moves forward, following a sequential logic that progressively distances it from its starting point. Using these simple means, the Bloc is less a tool of collective enunciation than a powerful motor for language and fiction.

The Bloc does not require any particular technique; it only demands a penchant for platitudes, a taste for minimal distances, a strong stomach, and a certain aptitude for letting go. The Bloc is the enemy of good ideas, of solos, of grand gestures, of premeditation, and, more largely, of any attempt to master, fixate on, or appropriate discourse. The Bloc is a stable apparatus that produces unstable discourse. The Bloc is an apparatus that protects you against any fear of the void, need to shine, desire for recognition, or class complicity.

Since 2003, the Bloc Game has undergone different waves of activity interspersed with periods of silence. It has been useful in making decisions, producing texts for performances, negotiating difficult concessions, and writing critical texts; it has been aired publicly, set up in the halls of institutions, tapped into for workshops with students or performers. It has occasionally been presented as a performance (to be watched) or as an open apparatus (to be practiced).

Early on, it became customary to place a stenographer at the end of the table used during performances to note what was being said over the course of each Bloc. We have extracted examples that illustrate the following article from a body of thirty-five texts performed between October 2003 and November 2004 (notably by Stéphanie Béghain, Juliette Bineau, Guillaume Bureau, Giuseppe Chico, Nicolas Couturier, Frédéric Danos, Céline Finidori, Chiara Gallerani, Laurence Hartenstein, Joris Lacoste, Olivier Nourisson, Jeanne Revel). In no way does this text aim to be an exhaustive manual: its only goal is to share a number of tactics tested and identified over the course of the game with new players.


// Blending In

How to begin? The rule n.1 sets the stakes; the spatial layout hints to the code: roughly speaking, the one of the press conference, of a public meeting, of a more or less formal presentation, or of an official P.R. event. It is a well known setting that is generally used to expose little-known facts, to re-establish truths, to defuse polemics, to express claims, to announce candidacies or coups d'état, to present cultural projects or political programs, to launch new products, to inaugurate official institutions or to award prizes and distinctions.

Here we will only consider its operative dimension. It dictates to the players not a content but rather certain modalities of speech: an assumed orality, a fluid and informal circulation and a direct address to the public:
– Hello
– Our voices sound a little stifled today. Ah.
– That’s better. Ah.
– Is that better? We felt like we were talking in a cave. Can you hear me? Ah.
– A cave or a cargo hold, or a plastic bin, or a trunk. You could also say we’re in the trunk behind the cushion.
– Or in a Bill Viola installation.

Bloc held on October 31, 2004 at 4:30 P.M.

// Taking the Floor

As stipulated by Rule 5, the Bloc never has an object or predefined theme. It is concerned with talking about something it knows nothing about, something discovered as it is being said: often, the Bloc only understands what it is talking about the moment it comes to an end. Rule 5 stipulates that players must “start from the present situation.” How can a situation be used to induce content? The goal here is not to impress with a particularly memorable opening statement; even less so to pull a ready-made subject out of one’s hat. Rather, it is to try and find something in a situation that is clear to everyone. It is to aim for the most basic level of information, for slightly dull redundancy, for the simple awareness of the here and now.

The game’s starting point can thus be given by the spatial or institutional context in which it is being played:
– Hello
– We’re here in a basement of the National Dance Center.
– This is the second time we’re working in a dance space.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003, at 4:15 P.M.

It may also come from an event that has taken place in the world and been diffused largely enough to ensure that it is known by all:
– Hello
– This afternoon on the news, we learned that a new form of protest had appeared on Friday night: covering over advertisements in public space.

Or from an event brought to the audience’s attention:
– An article in the October 20th edition of Le Lien Public reads: “The State and taxpayers subsidize temporary entertainment industry workers whose ranks have, surprisingly, doubled in recent years. This heavenly manna may quickly dry up.”
Bloc held on October 22, 2003, at 12:23 P.M.

Or from a combination of these elements:
– Hello
– We’re sitting here wondering what constitutes a Bloc, and, at the same time, in Liberation, Laurent Fabius is wondering what “constitutes a people.”

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 5:30 P.M.

// Gathering Steam

After the first statement is made, a second follows in some form or another. Indeed, Rule 6 notes that the Bloc takes shape through a series of statements. A certain number of objects thus gradually come to light: a piece of speech (a word), a theme, a linguistic register, a syntactic construction. The game entails grabbing hold of one of these objects and pushing it forward, that is, of taking a proposition in a certain direction. This is what gives players a little elbow room; they are not to invent anything ex nihilo, but to continue, prolong, list, extend, unfold, and unpack what is already there. Any element of discourse can be continued; the Bloc makes no distinction between semantic objects and grammatical, rhetorical, or phonetic ones. Its only discipline lies in locating the object that promises the most future developments for its discourse. The overall theme of what is said will, in this way, take shape as the game moves forward. In the first phase of play, the Bloc frequently skirts around several objects before determining the one that will be most fruitful:
– […] or in an installation by Bill Viola.
– Some contemporary art installations make an effort to scramble internal communications. Maybe even to sabotage or disrupt them?
– In the tape that Osama Bin Laden made public yesterday, his voice was much clearer than ours are today.
– Now it feels even more like we’re in a Gary Hill installation.
– Or like we’re communicating with NASA.
– In his message that appeared on Al-Jazeera, Bin Laden wasn’t in a cave. It was an authentified three-minute video by Pierre Huygue.
– Next to it was the B.P. logo.
– After the broadcast, we realized that the picture had been purposefully saturated by a Final Cut Pro filter, a fanatic filter.
– We’d like to ask about filters.

Bloc held on November 31, 2004 at 4:30 P.M.

// Sticking Together

Rule 6 stipulates that the Bloc say “we” rather than “I.” This “we” isn't intended to imply some imaginary group mentality. Its purpose is to posit the enunciating subject as one and indivisible. It attests to the idea that what is said is bigger than each individual player. Indeed, the Bloc’s entire approach follows this basic rule: nothing can be expressed in one’s own name. On the contrary, one must speak in the name of all. Each individual is responsible for the discourse of the group. Each reply must thus take into account those that preceded it, as if the game’s discourse were the product of one and the same speaker. This immediately excludes expressions of disagreement, direct opposition, personal opinion, or internal debates. It is therefore the Bloc’s job to cultivate objects that appear not as a result of any player’s will, but by the pure internal logic of its discourse. Each player must welcome these objects as if they were self-evident facts. Their emergence might even evoke a certain occasional enthusiasm, to the point of producing all kinds of one-upmanship:
– It can happen in a very stationary way, without any particular need for forward movement.
– It can happen in reverse.
– We can leave Seine Saint-Denis in reverse. It could happen.
– We haven’t yet chosen the escape vehicle, but we think we’ll leave in reverse, by whatever means possible.
– We can only leave Seine Saint-Denis in reverse.
– It’s never occurred to us to leave Seine Saint-Denis in drive.
– A good slogan for the upcoming elections would read: “Seine Saint-Denis in reverse!”
– This is a fairly clear program. We outfit the buses in Seine Saint-Denis with reverse-traction motors. We’ll inverse all the motors and it’ll create jobs.

Bloc held on October 31, 2004 at 5:55 P.M.

// Dropping

The rapid and composite aspect of discourse means that, often, a player can’t place a statement they have carefully pieced together. A certain degree of self-control proves necessary in these cases, enjoining players to let go of prepared lines once they become unusable. This basic form of discipline, which João Fiadeiro calls dropping, often turns out to be harder than expected, so inclined are players to become excited about their own ideas. This kind of stubborn persistence is triply inconvenient, as it breaks with Rule 9, shows a lack of attention to fellow players and, most of all, puts cracks in the Bloc’s precarious hull. Individual showmanship is profitable only to the ego of individual players.

// Stalling

Moving the Bloc forward often requires a certain moderation. If the Bloc drifts off-course too quickly, its discourse risks falling into a series of non-sequiturs and eventual nonsense, rather than building anything. It is thus important to find secure points from which to stabilize, slow down, and air out its discourse—to regroup, to buy time, to evaluate all possible directions before choosing the one that is most solid, promising, or engaging.
Among the best stalling tactics is the list:
- We are being broadcast live on www.culture.gouv.fr.
– It's the best site around.
– Government-approved.
– Bringing together today’s best minds.
– The people from the Young National Theater.
– They publish government communiqués.
– Theatrical treasures.
– They champion counter-culture.

Bloc held on October 22, 2003 at 12:23 P.M.

Or its variant, the classification by type:
*– There are several types of filters. We’ve already mentioned fanatic filters and saturation filters.

Or the enumeration of hypotheses:
– We should find a car, or rent bikes or Vespas.
– We could also find rafts, or make them ourselves, and float down the Tiber in them.
– We could also travel by air.
– We won’t rule out the possibility of moving around like Spiderman.
– We produce straight lines and curves at will.

Bloc held on December 29, 2003 at 12:50 P.M.

// Tangents

Once the Bloc sets out in a certain direction, it is everyone’s responsibility to maintain and support its momentum. Though Rule 8 prohibits individual stances and confrontations, it does not prevent the game’s discourse from veering off in a new direction on its own: indeed, it is always possible (and desirable) to cause the Bloc to deviate, provided Rule 6 is respected—in other words, by always taking into consideration the entirety of what has been said beforehand. The more discourse has moved forward, the more sudden changes in course will be difficult to negotiate. What the Bloc gains in depth, it loses in tractability: what begins as slender as a canoe on a river ends like a transatlantic ocean liner whose holds are filled with tempered steel or English tourists. Its orientation is never immutable, however. Though the Bloc’s inertia increases over time, it should not make sudden changes in course, compass breakdowns, logical revolutions, or opposing viewpoints impossible:
– Nit-picking, on the other hand, is a shared practice.
– It’s a scientific, professional practice that demands a great deal of precision.
– Which brings us to the question of the nits.
– There are lice who have them and lice who don’t.
– A little like caterpillars.
– A little like beetles.
– Whose auriferous character can be compared to that of calves.
– Or staphylococcaceae.
– Staphylococcaceae move in groups.
– Staphylococcaceae are golden like the dancers in Emmanuelle Huymh’s shows.
– The dancers in Emmanuelle Huymh’s shows are all living National Treasures.

Bloc held on December 28, 2003 at 11:46 A.M.

// Going with the Flow

The Bloc’s statements flow into one another. The Bloc’s most emblematic device is what rhetoric calls a concatenation: it is a figure of speech that does not impose any order on discourse from above but regulates its flow by maintaining an element from each preceding term in each new one. This common thread that passes from mouth to mouth can be related to form or meaning. It guarantees the linear continuity of the game’s discourse. In a sense, the Bloc navigates with the naked eye: it wagers that the rigorous logic of the string of statements it produces will create an overarching order; however, this order is never decided upon ahead of time and can never be apprehended in its entirety; it is the evolving product of a micro-construction. All kinds of strategies for passing from one statement to another are possible. They have a dual aim: to distance themselves from the point of departure, but to do so gradually enough that the discourse they build gains in consistency and fictionality.
– All of these characters make up a community of road workers close to little stones.
– And it’s this community that we would like to describe today.
– A scrupulous community.
– That said, in Hansel’s case, it’s traffic rerouting. He'll pick the stones up later.
– In Molloy’s case, it’s a question of saliva eroding the stone.
– The ostrich pushes it to its breaking point. We don’t know what becomes of the stone.
– It's a community of transformation.
– When they arrive in Demosthenes’ mouth, they’re already polished, and never coarse.

Bloc held on November 30, 2003, 4:21 P.M.

// A New Angle

A key tactic for keeping the Bloc Game flowing is change of emphasis. This involves selecting a heretofore secondary object in the preceding statement and making it a central part of what follows:
– We've talked about terrorists in terms of black holes. A black hole is a star that has burned up all of its gas.
– We’ve talked of residues or waste, but it turns out that light enters black holes in the form of residue, ejected particles reflected by their non-entry into the black hole.
– Pulsars are stars that pulse rapidly and go p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p, like a rapid heartbeat perceived by radio telescopes before exploding. They become nebulae, clouds of gas.
– There is also French television’s “Star Academy,” which is the taxed and privatized form of “we.”
– What is a star? It’s a cold-blooded animal whose distinguishing characteristic is its professional character.
– There is a hierarchy here: professional, paraprofessional, stars-in-training (lukewarm but cold enough to garner hopes of becoming Government-Approved).
– An animal like an iguana is extremely professional and isn’t easily disturbed.

Bloc held on October 22, 2003 at 12:23 P.M.

In the same way, emphasis can be shifted from a semantic object to a formal object (like shifting from a list of careers to a list of adverbs, for example):
– We are columnists.
– Publicists.
– Directors.
– School superintendents.
– Creative directors.
– Administrators.
– Polemists.
– Prop masters.
– Properly.
– Eventually.

Bloc held on November 14, 2004, at 6:05 P.M.

The discourse’s enunciative perspective can also be shifted:
– Maybe we are nymphs, frowning nymphs.
– The issue for us, the frowning nymphs, is to harness the tides, the low tides especially.

Bloc held on November 16, 2003 at 5:06 P.M.

Another common approach is to play with a word’s polysemy:
– The use of recycled paper might make us think that this lab lacks the funds necessary to bring its missions to term.
– It’s raining cats and dogs right now.
– We know that the reigning theory of the universe is string theory, which sees the universe as built on a principle of oscillation.

Bloc held on October 17, 2004, at 3:59 P.M.

– All the points are articulated in this way on the map.
– A network shaped like a spider web emerges. All the points in the network cross right here.
– We’re near the zoo. We might find spiders, dangerous spiders, that might occupy the web in an optimal way.
– But, just as the center of the web moves with the spider, the lines all cross at other points.
– The Villa Médicis is situated very close to the nodal center. We have several short-, mid– and long-term objectives there.
– We’re almost certain that the Roman spider spins a very different web than spiders from other cities.
– When a spider is at the center of its web, it can feel vibrations produced anywhere in the web with the utmost precision.
– The problem with both Roman and French spiders is that they remain confined to the idea of center, of centralized networks. We would like to see if we could multiply the centers by multiplying the spiders, and end up with urban maps that are less... or more...
– The city of Rome was established on a network of twelve roads and seven hills. These twelve roads converge near the center of the city. We suggest multiplying the centers and multiplying the twelve roads.
– What would that do?
– It’s pretty.

Bloc held on December, 29, 2003 at 12:50 P.M.

Or review its possible connotations:
– Which brings us to the question of the golden calf.
– The golden calf follows the heavenly manna whose quantities are inestimable.
– It could be a restaurant name.
– It could also be a type of acupuncture.
– Or a musical genre. We’d dance the Golden Calf all summer.
– Whoever danced the Golden Calf best would gain entry to a heavenly manna whose quantities are inestimable.

Bloc held on October 22, 2003, at 12:23 P.M.

Or vary the context in which it is used:
– Local officials often use handshakes to win over potential voters.
– Inversely, local judges don’t shake hands but would like the two parties to shake hands.
– “Comrade, shake a leg; candidate, shake hands.”
– But if the local judge shakes down everyone in town, it’s not the same shake.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 5:30 P.M.

// Formal Play

Moving between statements can also proceed from a multitude of formal devices, which we will only give a few examples of here (in no particular order):

– Rhythm means there’s always movement, even in immobility.
– This Italian audience’s outlandish expression rested on the rhythm imposed by John Cage.
– The rhythm produced by John Cage isn’t the same as the one produced by a battalion of soldiers marching over a crumbling bridge.

Bloc held on December 20, 2003, at 4:30 P.M.

– There are those we waited for last time.
– Those we’re done waiting for.
– Those we no longer want to wait for.
– Those we can’t imagine.
– Those we imagine all too well.
– Those who give us a good surprise.
– Those we’ve forgotten.
– We speak for all of them today.
– We address ourselves to them.
– We speak directly to them.

– With such speed, one can’t distinguish the cowboy from his horse.
– With such light, one can’t distinguish front from back.
– With such dust, one can’t distinguish the bench from the bleachers.

Bloc held on November 28, 2004 at 5:10 P.M.

– The Paris Transit Authority’s collection center stinks!
– It doesn’t stink enough.
– It doesn’t stink for everyone.
– Subjectively speaking, it stinks.
– We’d have to find an objective stink.
– We’d like to share the stink.

Bloc held on November, 9, 2003, 6:16 P.M.

– We’ve also defenestrated our representatives
AUDIENCE: Do you think employees were demoted today?
– Does demotion ask the same question of motion as defenestration asks of a window?

Bloc held on November 16, 2003 at 6:47 P.M.

– We only do what we can.
– And what we can do, we can’t do alone.

Bloc held on October 23, 2003 at 7 P.M.

– There are core members and rank-and-file members […]
– Rank-and-file suits us best.
– Is a Bloc made of core members or rank-and-file members?
– We could substitute the term albacore for the term core.
– We’d have to consult a dictionary of ichthyology. The albacore members?
– The danger is that by paronomasia we’d quickly become bores.
– If an albacore gets bored, we’re all in trouble.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 4:15 P.M.

– We planned a hot air balloon stunt.
– And a pigeon hunt.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 6:15 P.M.

– Cuckoo.
– Cuckoo cooking.
– Cuckoo cooling.
– What time does the Cuckoo Clock cuckoo?

Bloc held on November 14, 2004 at 4:30 P.M.

– He who does not work, does not eat.
– Chi non lavora non fa l’amore.
– It’s interesting to draw a parallel between the concepts of love and work.
– Is there work in love and love in work?

Bloc held on October 21, 2003, at 6 P.M.

– We know that the most interesting and original works often come from avoidance.
– From non-forms.
– From ideas.
– From cogitations.
– From effervescences.
– From disruptions.
– From agitations.
– From gusts.
– From tempests.
– From cyclones.
– From cataclysms.
– From black holes.

Bloc held on January 11, 2004 at 5:20 P.M.

// Organizing Discourse

In conjunction with the meticulous work that goes into building discourse statement by statement, the Bloc can tap into larger-scale forms of support.

Talking points: The Bloc can announce all sorts of plans, chapters, agendas, or programs. Since nothing is planned ahead of time, the list of points to tackle is to be gradually improvised; the usefulness of such a list is not negligible, as it presents the twofold advantage of giving the game’s discourse rhythm and allowing for readjustments that won’t jeopardize the Bloc itself (see: Jumping Around). Changing course is thus justified by moving onto the next order of business. This way, no one will be offended if another player, who may feel that the game’s discourse is inexorably losing power and complexity, suddenly says “let's move onto the next point” (see: Foiling).

– I think that this logically brings us to the third point: recourse to the animal.
– That brings us to our fourth point.
– Let’s move directly onto our fifth point: integration in schools...

Bloc held on October 20, 2003 at 3:08 P.M.

Still, orders of business must be current (once a problem arises, it is too late to invent something off the top of one’s head) and the various talking points they contain must maintain some kind of thematic or formal coherence.

●Recurrence: sometimes, independently of the list of talking points, one of the Bloc’s objects resurfaces when the opportunity arises. This type of recurrence should never be forced (see: Dropping). Welcoming it when it arises, however, is often a way of tapping back into fictionality.

●Declaration: this feeble parent of the bullet list consists of openly committing the Bloc to a certain type of discourse—presentation, song, poem, quote, or demonstration—which orients and determines the statements that will follow. Declaration allows the Bloc to regroup and subsequently rebound with even greater force. But, because this figure of speech dictates a single direction, one should be aware that it can trap the game’s discourse and not lose sight of the importance of getting out of it (see: Staying Mobile) :
– Technical Specifications: how does one build social ties?
– By destroying a government building.
– We’re very interested in high-income neighborhoods.
– We could offer workshops in local churches and unemployment offices on the theme: meeting artists.
– For example at the city hall of Neuilly.
– Acts of terror likely to dissuade investors from participating in Corsican development projects.

Bloc held on October 22, 2003 at 12:23 P.M.

– Rudolf Laban tried to find a method for notating movement. According to him, all movements can be expressed with eight action verbs through which one can note and partition movement.
– We don't know these verbs, but we could try to find them.
– Fall back on.
– Seep into.
– Turn away from, which is a phrasal verb whose root verb is “to turn.”
– In the same way, “fall back on” is a phrasal verb derived from “to fall.”
– You have to turn away to turn.
– To multiply. Assemble, which comes from the same root as sembler, to seem. Assemble, resemble—it’s all part of the same family.
– To be an ensemble. To seem like (resemble) an ensemble.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 4:15 P.M.

This figure of speech can also be implicit. Below, the shift from simple presentation to storytelling happens implicitly:
– Safety is a priority for the French county of the Val d’Oise.
– However, we felt less safe in the Val d’Oise than elsewhere.
– We could push the boundaries to include Picardie. We could even push them as far as the Belgian border.
– We’d set up our home base at the outskirts of the county, walking in large numbers, at variable speeds, sometimes hopping, sometimes skipping, but always persistent, insistent.
– We could do jumps. At some point, we’d even have to swim. To hold our breath, and swim underwater to the other side, where we’d help others cross.

Bloc held on October 31 2004 at 5:55 P.M.

●The Petal: this is a fairly long digression that ends up absorbing and returning to the original thread of the game’s discourse. Several petals following one another are referred to as a daisy (which is sometimes articulated by a list of bullet points).

●The Braid: this consists of maintaining, in parallel, two or more threads of discourse that weave back and forth more or less closely. It is resolved either by abandoning the least substantive of the two and pursuing only one, or by a process of synthesis that brings both together in a single, composite object.

Below is an example of a synthesized braid within a petal, itself organized by a bullet list:
*– The second part will deal with the grammar of Building and Public Works (BPW).
– It’s full of useful addresses.
– It contains an entire lexical field.
– Well, uh, a certain, uh, practical application of a lexical field.
– Despite Roland Barthes’ participation, this BPW grammar project never got the publicity it deserved.
– What’s being attempted in this volume is an analysis of syntax and ideological resistance.

// Getting Creative

The purpose of all of these micro– or macro-rhetorical tactics is to move the game’s discourse forward. The art of the Bloc is to drift further and further away from an initial situation. This distance is the movement of fiction: the Bloc becomes more fanciful each time its enunciative code varies—that is, each time it is not completely in line with what is dictated by the present situation. From this perspective, the best strategy is a slight, even imperceptible, drift that takes shape through slow and continuous differentiation:
– What we call a link could also be called a composition.
– We try to compose ourselves, to recompose ourselves with more and more outside bodies, impressions, languages.
– We create links.
– But it’s less about binding than it is about connection and untying.
– In Rome, we finished several landscapes, we played with airports and Anglo-Norman texts.
– We composed landscapes with wax, handmade linens, sounding balloons.
– A whole arte povera of collective action.
– And we composed a landscape at the intersection of unemployed workers leaving the train and a monument of disturbance.
– And we tested our ability to disturb and our ability to resist.
– We had fun, we laughed a lot, we loved each other.
– We say “compose” a symphony, a poem, a painting, we should be able to say “compose” an action or monument.
– We occupied a place we’d never been to.
– We took joy in what we were, like a hot air balloon takes joy in what it is.
– The wolf enjoys being a wolf.
– The storm enjoys being a storm.
– Our actions don’t know how to stop.
– We have reached a level of collective power that has no common measure with the sum of our personal powers.

Bloc held on January 11, 2004, at 5:20 P.M.

// Jumping Around

On the other hand, a sudden burst of fiction runs a big chance of appearing completely out of place. This is what we call a cut. A cut happens when, disregarding Rules 6 and 10, a player puts forward a statement that bears no relationship of any kind with anything that was said previously. The cut often occurs for lack of dropping (see: Dropping). It jeopardizes the Bloc and may provoke its upheaval or even its all-out unraveling.

– We are not sure that the Coordination 37 organization has many professionals as members.
– Prostitutes are professionals of discontinuity.
– We thought we could coordinate occasional workers and workers without job security and prostitutes.
– But that’s a little redundant.
– This poses the question of cement.

Bloc held on October 20, 2003 at 3:08 P.M.

– Law enforcement is a public service.
– We could therefore cover over them.
– We could also envelop them.
– We could make them disappear.
– But we’d be badly dressed.

Bloc held on November 9, 2003 at 6:16 P.M.

// Ignoring

When a cut takes place, the most common response consists of simply ignoring the offending statement. Though this does disobey Rule 6, the statement itself disobeyed Rule 10. In this way, the two transgressions can, to some extent, cancel each other out.

Indeed, there is nothing to be gained by sending the Bloc down a path that is, at best, a misunderstanding and, at worst, one individual’s private whim. Such a miscalculation could send the game’s entire patiently-erected edifice crumbling. It is best to simply continue as though the regrettable statement had never been made:
– […] But that’s a little redundant.
– This poses the question of cement.
– According to Gramsci, redundancy is a political strategy.

Bloc held on October 20, 2003 at 3:08 P.M.

Obviously, if the player persists, this strategy won’t be possible a second time.

// Escalating

When faced with a cut, one possible (though somewhat crude) response consists of doubling the distance produced by the original statement—that is, acting in kind, cut to cut. This has the advantage of making an individual aberration pass off as a wave of collective madness (which is just as uninspired, but makes for slightly more amusing play). This all-or-nothing behavior nevertheless risks sending the Bloc reeling into one-upmanship, which almost inevitably ends with an explosion in mid-air:

– This Summer we invaded Paris-Plage by soiling the sand.
– Enough parentheses!
– Long live quotation marks.
– Enough quotes, more troublemaking!
– Enough brackets, dash!
– Why aren’t we allowed rabbits!?

Bloc held on April 12, 2004

// Catching Up

The most interesting and fruitful antidote to a cut involves catching the aberration—that is, accepting the poorly-timed reply as though it weren’t one—and integrating it (as per Rule 6) back into the game’s discourse. This adds up to inventing an a posteriori justification for it by playing on the Bloc’s logical flexibility. It is a move that could be called a quarrel: a sudden about-face which, thanks to its level-headed drivers, charts a proud path around the mountain:
– Concrete’s softness was one of the reasons why early twentieth century architects resisted it, because of the softness of the material. It took a Belgian architect to try it. It was later used during World War II for Blockhouses. Public authorities resorted to concrete for reconstruction.
– Which brings us to the question of the golden calf.
– Gold is also a relatively soft material.
– Like glass, which softens very slowly. For example, in Versailles, the bottom of the window panes is wider. The glass ended up dripping.

Bloc held on October 21, 2003 at 5 P.M.

// Attack/Defend

Any flight of fancy is a gamble that can put the Bloc into an unstable situation. In such cases, it becomes necessary to return to more solid ground. Indeed, there is an entire Bloc defense whose purpose is to emphasize these digressions, to crop, center, rebalance, or catch them back up. The “stair strategy,” for example, involves gradually getting more imaginative by alternating occasional attacks that move the Bloc into new territory with defensive saves that reestablish the logical continuity of the game’s discourse, before giving play back to the attacking side.

// Keep Moving

Often, the Bloc gets stuck in representation: it starts describing something, expressing itself in a code that is too recognizable (scientific lecture, a National Front for the Liberation of Corsica press conference, an evening news broadcast). This produces a kind of self-awareness that can be paralyzing. This awareness of representing something also tends to promote exaggeration, overacting, or even a headlong dive into parody. It is a temptation that should be resisted at all costs. On the contrary, the Bloc should always remain open to codes, without accepting any single one of them, so that what it represents remains in constant mutation:
– You might say that the difference between a scientific research lab and an artistic research lab is that a science lab works on the invisible, while an art lab works on the visible. Might the artistic lab be considered the naïve form of the science lab?
– We note the absence of lab benches.
– White smocks.
– Mice.
– Test tubes.
– Bunsen burners.
– Particle accelerators.
– That said, there are still pandas in the trees however,…

Bloc held on October 17, 2004 at 3:30 P.M.

This operation can get messy (see: Ignoring):
– We imagined a plot.
– It’s the story of a fly that shrinks but no one realizes it, because the fly’s invisible.
– Which brings us back to our fourth point…

Bloc held on October 20, 2003 at 3:08 P.M.

// Foiling

It generally becomes necessary to use various tactics for reviving or freeing up the discourse when the Bloc Game shows signs of dawdling, rambling, or of becoming too self-involved. It may also get caught up in the pursuit of sincerity or high-mindedness, or (worse) try to persuade itself or the audience of the validity of an idea which it then takes it upon itself to defend. Not knowing the object of its discourse in advance, the Bloc Game is, in effect, structurally incapable of defending any thesis at all. On the off chance that this does happen, it is imperative that the confining statements be foiled so that the discourse can once again be free to explore the potentialities it hides within itself:
– This year we won’t put mint in the boiling water.
– This year we’ll boil sniper bullets.
– We’ll take advantage of their passivity.
– Of their absence.
– We must find a ritual that brings us together.
– We must fashion new moulds.
– That aren’t shaped like ogives.
– Then we could melt down the moulds.
– To make mopeds for example.
– Or Swiss Cuckoo clock cocoons.
– In this way, we could equip all of Mouqata’s windows with Swiss Cuckoo clocks.

Bloc held On November 14, 2004 at 4:30 P.M.

– We’re not far afield.
– Does anyone have any questions?
– Let’s move onto the next point.
– We can ask the question, for example, of the field, the infield, the outfield.
– The question of the field as field of action, as field of application, as field to cultivate, as lexical field.
– The question of the field is also the question of limits, of inside and outside, of the passage, of the possibility of parallel routes.
– It’s the question of how to define these limits.
– Where are the limits in this dance theater?
– Do they stop before or after the Addeco?
– Do they reach the heart of the city?
– It’s also the question of how to dissociate the limit from the definition.
– For example, we thought of an action that would transform the dance theater into an Addeco agency.
– In the end, we decided it was better the other way around.

Bloc held on October 23, 2003 at 7 P.M.

// Rejecting

An extreme version of this tactic can occur when the Bloc starts making comments that are intolerable for one of the game’s players. This player can then (as per Rule 13) leave the Bloc. But, as a last resort, they can also stay at the table and try to annihilate the offending statement, and with it, all of its future incarnations. Of course, this is only acceptable if Rule 7 is respected at the same time, making the exercise subtle enough to justify its being called a contre exquis:
– Can we outline different strategies for the day of the 30th?
– We thought of organizing a big left-wing protest that would go from the Paris Opera to the Paris Opera. It would go around the opera.
– We thought about writing “Don’t be alone anymore, go vote” on the banner.
– We decided to abolish irony, so we abandoned the idea.

Bloc held on October 20, 2003 at 3:08 P.M.

// Concluding

Rule 14 stipulates that, after a certain amount of time, the Bloc must remember to conclude (and thank the audience). It goes without saying, however, that the internal logic of the discourse is, above all, what dictates its duration. Very short Bloc Games are always possible, like the following time-saving version:
– Hello.
– We can begin now.
– Let’s go.
– We’re off.
– Meeting adjourned.
– Thank you.

Bloc held on November 21, 2004 at 5:55 P.M.

In general, the goal is for the players to do their best to match time constraints with some sense of closure in the discourse, so as to bring about a suitable conclusion at the desired time:
– This evening there are two Blocs: you and us.
– That’s because we take advantage of words and you neglect them.
– Reality has caught up with all of us around this table. Speech about lived experience, precarious speech, has caught up with us. Words that weren’t Blocs, words that crumbled caught up with us. We weren’t in control of this crumbling.
– It’s also a question of reality: that was the text and this is how it ended up happening.
– Tonight’s configuration happened, too.
– It’s a joyous event.
– Thank you.

End of the Bloc held on October 23, 2003 at 7 P.M.

// Inviting

An elegant way of ending the game consists of inviting the audience to participate in some kind of follow-up: a future Bloc Game, another type of meeting, a collective action, a dialogue, a drink at a bar, an informal discussion, a promise or a miracle:
– We’d like to invite you.
– We’ve planned to celebrate a birthday tomorrow.
– You can come with sparkling apple juice to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Paris Classifieds at the Housing Authority.
– We can continue the discussion over drinks.
– Thank you.

End of the Bloc held on October 20, 2003

– We’d like to suggest a meeting in front of the baboons at the zoo. We’ll leave from there to take part in an action.
– Thank you.

End of the Bloc held on December 29, 2003

// End on a High Note

The best end to a Bloc Game is undoubtedly one that knows how to seize the moment of the conclusion to make one or two statements that suggest a new beginning. These could potentially give way to a new development, but the coda’s only value is not having a next step, is closing the discourse in a way that is as promising as it is definitive:
(Audience) – Are you a mob?
– We move, we are in movement, we are emotional, sometimes mute, sometimes motivated.
– We’ve been mutineers, but that wasn’t enough.
– We’ve been fighters, but that wasn’t enough.
– We worked part-time, but it was already too much.
– We are becoming.
– Fate smiles upon us.
– Thank you.

End of the Bloc held on December 28, 2003