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Thank you for coming along, good afternoon.

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Welcome to the second day of walk+talk.

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A project that was originally initiated to find a way to make spectators and audience listen to what some dance artists have to say about their desires, their concerns, their beliefs and the way they conceive of their own body and how they put that body, or those bodies into motion.

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The attempt to somehow expose a certain sense of physicality as such…

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… be it questions of choreography, dance, movement, motion.

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Who are they? Are they dancers that want to bring dance into society?

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Are they choreographers that want to compose, relate, create constellations?

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What does their body mean to them?

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What does movement mean?

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Do they know what they’re doing? Do they know what they say?

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Can they speak their mind?

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It’s neither a project for theory or against theory.

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It’s also not giving the words, putting them back into the mouth of practitioners.

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It’s maybe just the attempt to expose a sense of subjectivity and how these people live with their art form.

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In my case, when I was younger…

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… the preoccupation was language, or maybe movement-language as such.

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I could say, contradictory to what was à la mode then, late 1990s, where you were not supposed to have a language. But I somehow had to deal with what my body did, that gestural language.

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A language, in contrast to verbal language, of no functional use.

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A language that then was fully stuck to my body and maybe didn’t reach the world around me too much.

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And a year ago, I did a piece - probably my last piece - where I was saying: What’s the point of having a language if you are the only one who can speak it?

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But thank God, I’m not alone, and especially this movement has great resemblance - and maybe I’m old enough to say it - to my friend and colleague, the American choreographer Meg Stuart.

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Who is maybe the only person on this planet, next to An Kaler, that my body sometimes merges with.

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But nowadays I don’t deal so much with language anymore and it almost feels, the vocabulary is present.

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That my world has become autonomous, which on good days is a good thing, and on bad days it is obviously a bad thing.

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Because nowadays I try to deal with the presence and the idea of presence, of being here, being with you guys and being with you…

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…without letting the excitements of performance overwhelm me.

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So the person I’m now is not so different to the person that walks in the street, any longer. But it didn’t always used to be like that.

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But maybe when you get older you have to, at some point, accept that there is a desire to be seen and to be heard.

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And the shapes you are left with, the language you are left with.

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It might be just completely residual, no function, post-event, trying to make sense of what has happened to you in your life.

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They are my shapes. And I do expose them. And then your shapes become your shapes.

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The I becomes a you in society and my words, my own words, become your words.

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And you realize that your words start to weigh heavily.

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That might have been a little bit confusing.

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What I’m trying to say is that the exposure renders my words your words. And you find yourself speaking. You find yourself speaking in front of people that you do want to listen somehow. But are you ready to be there for them?

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A couple of years ago, I found myself somewhere in this kind of position, in front of people…

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… my eyes closed, trying to deal with the audience, the audience’s focus, gaze, look upon me.

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As if to say: look at me. You can look at me, you can trace my body, you can penetrate me.

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I’m fully there. Just a little bit too close to you, because I do want to be in front of the landscape. I don’t wanna be part of that landscape of events and actions yet.

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And I’m really here. I don’t wanna be some kind of ephemeral rest anymore.

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And even a few more years back, that upright body would steer its way through life.

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Or through stage life.

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And it was less my eyes looking, taking me to places, but actually that upper body, those air-filled lungs, that sternum…

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… navigating, steering…

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… till I would put myself parallel to the audience. Projection meeting projection.

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A little movement of the neck, and I would look at the audience.

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The vertical image of theatre.

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I look at you, but I don’t see you. Even then, I already knew, that I don’t see you. I don’t know who you are and I don’t even care who you are, because I don’t want to pretend I understand. I don’t want to pretend I know who you are.

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But all I know is that your gaze upon me somehow, at least back then, always was that heavy gaze of the world around me, or maybe even God that weighs heavily on my shoulders.

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The gaze upon me that even if you’re not there somehow is that gaze upon me that renders me object.

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Le cercle fermé est toujours ouvert.

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The closed circle is always open.

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Just as a little insert.

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So, I could say that I can split my years in those years of horizontal writing on the floor, almost that kind of late 1990s victim object-body,

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and then, after that, I was solely interested in the uprightness of the world, of built architecture around me…

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… trying to be that male super-subject, steering through the world, drawing lines, going from place to place…

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… the world around me just falling by the sides, not caring about it.

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Somehow, not really having an understanding of relational theories of space,

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but already believing in them somehow: Creating places. I would arrive somewhere and I would do try to create this fabulous thing…

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And then I would carry on and try to be somewhere else and almost say something completely different.

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And see how meaning could be created once people see the constellations of places and things I drop in the space.

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But it was also the moment where the sense of leaning took over.

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Never wanting to be part of the perpendicularity of built architecture and uprightness.

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But a civil body, yes being subject, but somehow with an inclination and according its own coordinates.

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Maybe nowadays I would call that somehow weighing, hanging body.

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But then you wouldn’t be in affinity, parallel affinity to architecture. There’d be one and one.

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There would be you and me.

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Till one day, when I found myself in this turning motion.

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And the twisting spine, that action of drill and almost disappearance - drilling your own hole into the ground - but at the same time that venture of turning, the invention and hyper-appearance by steering yourself up into it…

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… changed my understanding of space completely. And it felt like that twisting spine rendering me aware of an inside, or an apparent inside of my physical body - spine squashing those organs - the gestures just being a consequence of an internal question.

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And that idea of the kinesphere, the good, old-fashioned kinesphere, was somehow gone.

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Or rather scooped inside of me.

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Or rather disappeared. And me scanning the horizon made me feel like the whole world became my kinesphere.

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Thus not ending at the tips of my fingers.

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Thus not ending where my eyes meet the wall, but maybe where my imagination meets its wall.

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Someone said: It’s funny how words seem to favour ideas.

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And someone else said: All I have to offer, is myself.

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All I have to offer, is myself.

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And someone else said, he said: My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.

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And someone else said, she said: It was dark.

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And I… And I was over.

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And she continued, and actually it’s just a little pop song: My hands…

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they were strong.

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But my knees were far too weak to stand

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to stand in your arms

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without falling to your feet.

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The gesture, or my gesture, has been part of my choreographic life from probably very early on.

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We used to say the gesture is not a sign, even not a very loud mute sign.

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But the gesture is maybe utterance par excellence.

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Meaning the gesture has nothing to say, but making visible the sense of utterance.

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Or someone else said: The gesture is an event that falls between the body and language.

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And I would say: Initially, the gestures, they were small hands, they were arms, below and above shoulder level…

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but maybe most importantly, that back of my hand, knocking on that kinespheric boundary.

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Because maybe the gesture will always take place within, but actually means the beyond.

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The questions, the concerns.

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The thoughts.

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The view.

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The view of the mountains.

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Trees, leaves, grass, you.

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They will be, they will be all things, we name when passing by.

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And then I pick her up.

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Those hands, these singed fingers that suddenly do have a function, there is some action.

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I pick her up and I put her on my shoulder.

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And I carry her across the room, like a child.

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And I think about how many years I’ve been waiting for this person to finally hand herself over to me, give me all her weight, let me carry her across the room.

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I don’t think I’ve ever embodied more pathos than in that moment.

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But I try to do it factually. She is a body, too. She is an object of this world I have to deal with.

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But it’s a big responsibility.

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And one day, those fingers, those burned hands, those functionless - it’s probably not a word, but anyway - hanging, on top of those limbs.

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They did actually reach out and the findertips did actually get the taste of that kinespheric boundary. And the extended arm appeared.

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And I could say: This is my favourite movement.

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This is my contribution.

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The moment where you sense where you stop and the world begins.

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And you will never get there.

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I walk to the front, I place myself next to David [Subal], and I put that straight arm between us. My left hand, my left fingertips are touching his right shoulder.

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I slide in front of him, as if I were to protect him and then the back of my left hand traces his upper body, his right shoulder, down his right arm. And that hand rests in his right hand.

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And then I take it away. I grab his upper arm, I turn him around and throw him into the wall. I drag him along, I put that left extended arm behind him, as if I…

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…were completely overwhelmed by my own action. That hand that has become a weapon, I turn it around as I were to ask for forgiveness…

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Back then, the bodies didn’t use to touch in my work.

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But all I wanted was people to touch, to somehow meet. But all I could do then was somehow put that arm between the two of us.

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I knew how to somehow roll on top of each other. And I’m not judging that anymore.

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And I knew somehow how to play Romeo and Juliet, but I was not interested in dance theatre of my British heritage.

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And I was neither interested in having touch and the being together as a given substance of my language.

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So all I could do was somehow to highlight that intersubjective gap between us, keeping him at arm’s length.

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But rather sadly, but most importantly, I did not manage to go beyond that. I had to grab him, I had to go into action and throw him into the wall, and objectify him completely.

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Because in actual fact, all I wanted was a subject to subject relationship.

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But those extended arms have somehow not left my vocabulary ever since.

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Nowadays, I don’t see them so much anymore as that extended arm that is just a weapon.

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They are more leftovers, remnants. Remnants of experience.

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Residues of people I have touched.

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Almost like, again, visible coordinates of experience.

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Or, as a visual art friend of mine once said: It’s almost like a portrayed body has arrived in the landscape.

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But they are straight arms I keep have to show, I keep have to hold up high.

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As if to say: You don’t really think that’s just a straight line. You don’t really think that’s just a straight arm.

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You don’t really think, that’s just a circle. You don’t think I came here just to show you a circle.

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We play these modernist games, being in love with form again, getting into the flower dance.

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And nowadays I don’t want to be super-subject so much anymore. I sense myself more as one part of many parts.

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Maybe I’m even slightly systemic about things.

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It’s not that I think my grandfather is standing right behind me, it’s more the sense of my body goes beyond it’s visible physical boundaries and…

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At least Philipp, a child, is unfortunately and fortunately, always around. And someone needs to take care of him.

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And I see myself more, maybe as some kind of subjective object: part of the landscape and part of the world, trying to make sense of the world.

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Or rather, the way I started to think recently: Maybe we can give all subjects their subjecthood back, return the power to them, let those subjects inform us.

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But I am that line.

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And I am that old man. And I am that child.

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I am that old man standing on top of a hill looking down at the fields.

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He is very old. He has been through the floods and he has been through the storms. He knows about building something and losing something.

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He’s a survivor. A survivor of what happened all along, and what never came along.

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He’s the old man standing in the street, the old man raising his hand, the old man sitting on a park bench, watching children play.

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The old man that doesn’t speak to his sons. The old man that has never learned how to speak to his sons.

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With or without the regrets, with or without the concerns, the believes, the yearnings, the desire.

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But desire? Desire doesn’t mean anything to him anymore. He’s too old for that.

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But the closed circle is always an open one.

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So thank you for listening.