could not be met; so it was canceled,ndespite the efforts of the de Menilnfamily, “one of his principal patrons.”nAs far as can be gathered, the Japanesenand French segments have yet tonbe performed in anything other thannworkshop productions, while somenportions have shown up in the last twonyears at Robert Brustein’s AmericannRepertory Theater in Cambridge, atnLincoln Center, and at the BrooklynnAcademy of Music, mostly to negativenreactions. In the meantime, Wilsonnhas been busy. Only this year he hasnpremiered his idiosyncratic version ofnSalome in Milan and an even newernwork. Death Destruction & Detroit 11,nin West Berlin, which has become hisnregular outpost.nIn the summer of 1986, under thenauspices of New. York University, henpresented an unusually modest butnparticularly evocative and successfulnversion of Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine,nsome months after his morenmassive, if critically panned, ThenGolden Windows.nWilson’s Hamletmachine was virtuallyna 30-minute play repeated fiventimes. Each hme, the enhre set isnrotated 90 degrees to the right. Thenactors repeat their methodical (andnmechanical) motions accordingly, sonthat the “Woman in swivel chair” whonhad her back to us in Act I has hernright side towards us in Act II.nIn keeping with this scheme, thenfirst and the fifth acts are offered fromnidentical perspective. But during thenfirst, not a word is spoken. In fact, thenostensibly simple tactic of repetitionnbecomes vastly more complicated thannit appears, since Wilson releases Muller’snscript sporadically throughout,nand different lines are spoken in differentnacts.nIt’s hard to write about Robert Wilsonnwithout sounding like a pressnagent. His career is like his works—nubiquitous, enormous, and defiant.nHyperbole and superlatives are notnonly appropriate but unavoidable. Butnthere is also much about Wilson’snperformance that suggests obfuscation.nAs if to confirm that the avant-gardenhas entered the mainstream, a revivalnof a segment of one of Wilson’s firstnworks, Deafman Glance (1970), appearednat Lincoln Center mid-summernas the premiere event. Although Wilsonnhas had a number of his piecesnperformed at Lincoln Center in thenpast, this revival was part of a largernprogram with the express purpose ofnbringing a fiercely “downtown” worknto a wider, “uptown” audience. Evennso, it remained far too tedious andnunrewarding for a number of attendeesnwho stormed up the aisles and out ofnthe theater before either of its twonperformances was over. (Frank Richnfound it “desultory” and “intellectuallynbanal.”)nEarlier in the Lincoln Center program,nWilson himself explained thatnhis Deafman Glance was based on thenwork of Dr. Daniel Stern, a psychologistnat Columbia University. “He hadnmade over three hundred films ofnmothers and their babies in naturalnsituations where the baby was cryingnand the mother would pick up andncomfort the child. When these filmsnwere shown at normal speed, that wasnwhat we saw. But when they werenshown frame by frame . . . what onensees in eight out of ten cases is that theninitial reaction of the mother in thenfirst three frames … is to lunge atnthe child and that the infant is recoilingnin terror. . . . When the mother isnshown the film she is horrified andnresponds, ‘But I love my child! I wantnto comfort the child.'”nOverture to the Fourth Act of DeafmannGlance occurs in silence for itsn90-minute duration while it depicts anparental figure who first nurtures andnthen murders two children in sequence,nwith the activities performednin slow motion. It requires roughly 10nminutes for the black-clad parent tonpour a glass of milk, another 10 minutesnto carry the milk to a child seatednmotionless in a chair only five feetnaway, another 10 minutes to return tonthe child and mortally stab him in thenneck or chest (the child’s back is facingnthe audience). This entire ordeal ornsequence of events is repeated for ansecond child who is sleeping in a bednon the other corner of the platform;nand all is performed with a nodceablenlack of expression or emotion.nIf this unit from Wilson’s DeafmannGlance functions neatly both as a historicalnartifact and as a succinct introductionnto his work, it also reminds usnthat Wilson is more suggestive andnevocative than he is declarative ornprecise. Part of the controversy surroundingnWilson is that his detractorsnnnabhor what his advocates applaud:nhis refusal to be clear beyond beingnabstract.nIn his critical autobiography. Musicnby Philip Glass (New York: Harper &nRow), Glass writes about his genesis ofnEinstein on the Beach with Wilson.n”In a sense, we didn’t need to tell annEinstein story because everyone whoneventually saw our Einstein broughtntheir own story with them. In the fournmonths that we toured Einstein innEurope we had many occasions tonmeet with our audiences, and peoplenoccasionally would ask us what itn’meant.’ But far more often people toldnus what it meant to them, sometimesneven giving us plot elucidation andncomplete scenario. The point aboutnEinstein was clearly not what itn’meant’ but that it was meaningful asngenerally experienced by the peoplenwho saw it. … I am sure that thenabsence of direct connotative ‘meaning’nmade it all the easier for thenspectator to personalize the experiencenby supplying his own special ‘meaning’nout of his own experience, while thenwork itself remained resolutely abstract.n”nDavid Kaufman writes from NewnYork.nFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715nILLINOIS RESIDENTSn1-800-892-0753nNOVEMBER 1987 155n