Installation and Performance Poems
Postreproduction Man by Paul Bruner symbolizes the confrontation by a man, no longer young, with the multiple ghosts of his father—the father sought by the terrified, abandoned child; the surrogate father who seduces and rapes the teenage boy; the father ready to sacrifice his son to a jealous God; and the father who welcomes the returning prodigal in a loving, protective embrace. Using verse and the artist’s own body as its instruments, the eight installation and performance poems create a series of disturbing images that testify to the power of the past—and of those images—to endure as long as life itself.
Paul Bruner derives his poetic use of the term, postreproduction, from the industrial world’s alarming birthrate decline at the end of the 20th century. The decline was initiated with the advent of the birth control pill in the early 1960s. For the first time in human history one sex, the female, could control reproduction. This situation for almost the last forty-years of the century and millennium, challenges at least two million years of evolutionary (biological) understanding about male and female reproductive sexuality.
Sexual reproduction, biologically, is the behavioral essence of human life.
Bruner connects this posthistorical situation of a postreproductive industrial world to a 1995 brain research study. The study demonstrated a functional difference between the brains of men and women. Autopsy studies indicated that male brains are biologically more asymmetrical than female brains.
The asymmetrical brain of late-life (postreproductive) males, given the evidence found in prehistoric phallic artifacts, ancient myths, and religious history, is relevant to the biological necessity of death. In this context of death a fearful symmetry emerges. Much like a death instinct in the imagination, the archetypal male brain imagines another life after death and being reborn into that life, joining one’s spiritual ancestors—father and mother. The instinctual fear is not only the terror of death, but also the asymmetrical homoerotic response now for rebirth after death: the symmetrical sexual unification with the divine-father-creator—with God…before death.
A Personal Narrative
Paul Bruner’s biopoetic concept of postreproductive male sexuality begins in 1970. His recently married father, in just a few words, described his sixty-nine year old body’s sexual performance with his younger wife, a woman ten years older than Paul and nine years younger than Paul’s sister. The father was ordained a Methodist minister just a few years prior. Eleven years later the father’s death-bed request and last words to Paul in 1981, asked for Paul to go into eternity with him. Paul’s installation, live performance, and video performance poems, from 2000 on, focus his behavioral imagination on father-love as a sacred symmetry between thought as word, and deed.
Pen and ink drawing with body hair