This is a lovely quote from Lev Shestov’s All Things Are Possible about not only embracing, but celebrating the whole of life, even those aspects which terrify us. (Also a nice takedown of that moralizing simpleton Tolstoy 🙂
“True, certain optimists think that nature does not punish us, but educates us. So Tolstoy sees it. ‘Death and sufferings, like animated scarecrows, boo at man and drive him into the one way of life open to him: for life is subject to its own law of reason.’ Not a bad method of upbringing. Exactly like using wolves and bears. Unfortunate humanity, bolting from one booing monster, is not always in time to dodge into the one correct way, and dashes straight into the maw of another beast of prey. Then what? And this often happens. Without disparagement of the optimists, we may say that sooner or later it happens to every person. After which no more running. You won’t tear yourself out of the claws of madness or disease. Only one thing is left: in spite of traditions, theodicy, wiseacres, and most of all in spite of oneself, to go on praising mother nature and her great goodness. Let future generations reject us, let history stigmatize our names, as the names of traitors to the human cause- still we will compose hymns to deformity, destruction, madness, chaos, darkness. And after that- let the grass grow.”
“The myth thus speaks of the unknown, both in the cosmos and in ourselves. It stands on the edge of that darkness, both within and without, that we shall never escape… despite all our progress, and our vaunted accumulation of knowledge, we are still children in the dark who have to make up stories so that we will not be so alone, that the darkness itself may become more familiar and more friendly, and the poor shreds and patches of our life be pieced back together.”
from TIME OF NEED by William Barrett
My original fairy tale “Little Hans” can now be read on Ireland’s fantastic Short Kid Stories!!!
Illustration By Eliza Pratt
I wrote this story for my Dad. When I was teaching English in Prague I realized I was only about 150 miles from where he grew up in the former East Germany. Like many of the older generation I was teaching, as a child he had experienced the Nazi buildup, WWII, and then the oppressive Soviet occupation. I thought a lot then about how difficult it must have been growing up at a time like this, and “Little Hans” was the result of all these feelings. The detail about cutting a small piece of sheet metal from the center of a big piece (instead of a corner) and so incurring a father’s wrath, is a story he told me from his own childhood. I hope you all enjoy this little fairy tale.
This is from Nietzsche’s The Gay Science. I relate very much to this feeling of striving after a vision one can never reach.
“[A poet’s] work never expresses altogether what they would really like to express, what they would like to have seen: they appear to have had the foretaste of a vision and never the vision itself:- but an extraordinary longing for this vision has remained in their souls; and from this they derive their equally extraordinary eloquence of longing and craving.”
I’m very exited to announce that my play “Born Lucky” will be part of the Crafton Hills College New Works Festival, taking place 5/9/20 via Zoom.
Play synopsis: HARPER, a pioneering black mathematician, has just returned from Mombasa. She sits down for an interview with her friend CASEY, a well-known science writer. CASEY thinks they are going to talk straight mathematics, but instead HARPER gives CASEY the chance to help her sweep away two millennia of white, patriarchal thought and usher in an uncertain future.
The central question for me is how to create theater that reaches the level of myth, that contains something truly universal, that provides a much needed sustenance particular to our time and our culture.
Perhaps Artaud provides a hint: “The characters will come in their turn with their passions, but they will be taken as the emanation of certain forces and in the light of the… historical fatality in which they have played their role.”
Just as I am beginning to move toward creating a piece of theater that is both more visceral, and more darkly metaphysical, I read this by Artaud:
“…the theater must… be considered as the Double… of another archetypal and dangerous reality, a reality of which the Principals, like dolphins, once they have shown their heads, hurry to dive back into the obscurity of the deep.
For this reality is not human but inhuman, and people with their customs count for very little in it”
It seems we must reach beyond the human if we are to find a deeper reality. Our sense of things is infinitely distorted by language, and by the false authority of concepts. What lies beneath?
I have long felt that so many of our deepest problems, from anxiety to depression to everything in between, come from a schism between how we think and how life actually is. I also believe that this is something that art, poetry, theater can, and should, try to help heal.
This is from the preface of Antonin Artaud’s The Theater And Its Double:
“If confusion is the sign of the times, I see at the root of this confusion a rupture between things and words, between things and the ideas and signs that are their representation.”
“… a cultured ‘civilized’ person is regarded as a person instructed in systems, a person who thinks in forms, signs, representations- a monster whose faculty of deriving thoughts from actions… is developed to an absurdity.”
“If our life lacks brimstone, i.e. constant magic, it is because we choose to observe our acts and lose ourselves in considerations of their imagined forms instead of being impelled by their force.”
I’m very excited to announce that my play GÖDEL will be presented as a staged reading at Theatre For The New City on March 12th, 7PM, part of their Scratch Night series.
GÖDEL tells the story of a motley crew of mathematicians and physicists who risk madness to know the mind of god.
GÖDEL will be directed by Tony Tambasco, and feature Toby Miller, Kitty Mortland, Robert Resnikoff*, Marc LeVasseur*, Paul Battiato* and Atticus Cain*.
*these actors are appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association
This presentation of GÖDEL is an Equity approved Showcase production.
I’ve been reading David Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order. He provides one of the most beautiful descriptions of reality I’ve ever heard, a wonderful antidote to our usual fragmented way of viewing ourselves and the world.
Everything in life “…is to be understood not as something independently and permanently existent, but rather as a product that has been formed in the whole flowing movement, and that will ultimately dissolve back into this movement. How it forms and maintains itself, then, depends on its place and function in the whole.”