Five years later, when he was twenty-eight, Nijinsky stopped dancing and
choreographing. He began his last recital, which he declared to be about the
horrors of the First World War, by telling his audience, “I will show you how
we live, how we suffer, how we artists create.” He then sat on a chair onstage
for half an hour without moving. When he was encouraged by the spectators
to begin his dance, he retorted angrily: “How dare you disturb me! I am
not a machine. I will dance when I feel like it.” At that time, he had already
been diagnosed with schizophrenia, from which he suffered for the remaining
thirty years of his life. He was treated by the existential psychologist Ludwig
Binswanger, to whom he once reported that his body was not his, that someone
else moved his body. Whenever anyone tried to approach him during
his last years, in which he was essentially an invalid, he still managed to say,
very clearly and coherently, “Ne me touchez pas” (Do not touch me), the same
words used by the resurrected Christ when approached by Mary Magdalene.
“I am the untouchable,” perhaps Nijinsky was trying to say, “because
my dancing body, which was sacrificed so that others could live, is no longer
merely a physical body, just as the glorious body of the dancer onstage is no
longer a bare life but a life that cannot be separated from its form.”

David Kishik, The power of life : Agamben and the coming politics

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