With the lights out

Peter Vosper understands how to become a superhero.

By day, he’s an engineer, but after dark he becomes a symbol for everyone who understands that our creative spark burns brightest once we have chased away the fog of identity.

As I’ve discussed, one way to scatter our sense of boundedness is to whisper (or shout) an obscenity mantra before our work. Taboo violation disrupts the reflexive caution that keeps us drawing inside the lines.

A second way to do this is to induce anonymity.

The effects of anonymity have primarily been examined through its negative effects: rioting and online harassment. However, the seed of what fosters these acts of ugliness and aggression is the same as that which inspires Peter and his dancers in the dark. Whether it is in the anonymity of masquerade, or darkness, or congregation, we free ourselves from the fear of judgment, of punishment. Without fear, we walk to the edge of the world and find that we can keep walking.

At the end of a night of No Lights No Lycra, Vosper says, “a transformation has taken place.” The reality is the opposite: culture, expectations, law, and accountability prune our limbs into products as unnatural as topiary.

In the pulsing, thumping, breathless dark, the dancers transformed into themselves.

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