The Yes of the No
No - look up the word in the dictionary and be told of its negative connotations, how it functions as an interjection that refuses, denies or seeks to cancel out.
No is an utterance that stands in the way of things or that declines to participate. It is a form of obstacle or dampening down like the stubborn voice of the party pooper or killjoy for whom the glass remains half empty, never half full. Or else it expresses nothing but a deficiency or dearth, a lack or absence, the failure of something to materialise. It is the response dreaded by the unrequited lover, the puncture wound by which a proposal gets let down or loses its verve. It is the final call that brings about an end; the cruel cut that nips things in the bud, the blow by which hopes and dreams and fledgling possibilities are dashed and then wither. Functioning as a measurement, it is the marker of that which is nonexistent, missing or simply not allowed. Taken as an instruction or rule, it is the governing voice of restrictive authority that tells us what not to do, which attempts to silence or stop us still in our tracks. Or maybe it is the calling out of the mother whose child’s hand draws too close to the fire. How quickly a term can turn. As a protective intervention no wishes to keep the other from harm’s way, it is an act of care or of responsibility, a pledge, a promise, a commitment made. No stops one flow of action allowing another to develop. It is an interruption based on being able to see an imagined future, the consequences of each individual act. Whilst the yes of surrender can signal the passive and acquiescent acceptance of the seemingly inevitable, no is a defiant gesture of protest that refuses to give up, give in. it is the rally cry of dissent, the declaration that enough is enough, that a line has been crossed. Things have gone too far. The binary logic of opposites collapses in on itself. Here is the yes of the no, through which no allows, opens up or enables things to move forward, to move on. No stalls, taking time (back) to re-think or re-imagine the trajectory of future action. Look up a word in any dictionary but remember that definitions can be irredeemably imprecise, for meaning is rarely still, nor ever wholly certain.
‘The Yes of the No’, extract from Emma Cocker, The Yes of the No, (Sheffield: Site Gallery, 2016), p. 6. The text (previously titled Non) was originally commissioned by Terry O’Connor as a response to the performance Non (2008–2009), part of a Creative Research Fellowship funded by the AHRC (2009–2014).