Journal 1/5/13: A Body Is, and other misunderstandings
Today I wrote A Body Is, my contribution to PUSSYFEST REDUX, the happy return of CAPS LOCK THEATRE’s night of monologues performed by women about the body. This time round, Indie Theatre dynamo Mariah MacCarthy had the fun idea that the playwrights would meet the actors and then fashion the monologue based on that conversation. My meeting with actor Elizabeth Seldin prompted a play about…well, you should just see it and find out, right?
“The living chick in the shell has known no other world. Through the wall comes a whiteness, but he does not know it is light. Yet he taps at the white wall, not knowing why. Lightning strikes his heart; the shell breaks open.”
-Mary Renault, The Persian Boy, as quoted in “The American Boy” by Daniel Mendelsohn
I thought this quote, brought to me by the current issue of The New Yorker, was quite lovely. The story which contains it is a moving testament to the power of our words to touch lives in ways we could never have expected…and the power of those lives to touch us back. Read it.
“Picasso’s arguments against abstraction still carry weight. He reasoned that there can be no such thing as non-figuration. ‘All things appear to us in the form of figures,’ he said. ‘A person, an object, a circle are all figures; they act upon us more or less intensely.’ (One early term for abstraction, ‘non-objective,’ is especially fallacious in this light—as if any function of the human brain, let alone a work of art, could evade subjectivity.) Picasso also said that, without reference to things we experience as real, art sacrifices its one indispensable quality: drama.“ (Emphasis:mine).
–Peter Schjrldahl in “Shapes of Things”
“You said that the universe did not know that men were living in it.”
-Thornton Wilder, The Ides of March
Both of the above quotes are from the selfsame Yorker, and together they catch a beautiful misunderstanding between our minds and the universe. We cannot help but see pattern and meaning, story and agency, in every flock of birds and deal of cards, and yet the universe has no idea we’re paying such devoted attention to it. Art is one result of this misunderstanding.