Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
This is the magic of Marvel Comics.Bear with me.A number of writers, many with little actual writing ability, have written the adventures of, say, Thor, over the past 50 years. The characters’ voices, motivations, and histories are remarkably inconsistent as a result.
The pleasure of reading Marvel comics over many years is the imaginative work the reader must do to reconcile those inconsistencies–to fill in the blanks between issues, between panels, between runs of writers. As a reader, I write like half the story, and end up much closer to the characters–more emotionally invested as a result.
This is the pleasure of the principle of perfect intention. Start from the assumption that every word, every comma is vital. Then you must do imaginative work to reconcile inconsistencies and give them reasons to exist “in-continuity”. In Marvel letters pages, this was called the “No-Prize”–a fan would write in with an in-story solution to what is blatantly a coloring error or an editing gaffe (Harry Osborn’s shirt changed color in two panels of the same scene because he’s actually a shape-shifting alien!). Directing (or acting in) Titus Andronicus is a series of No-Prizes.
This is also the thinking behind “ambiguity” or “emotional storytelling” or “dream logic.” Make the audience participate in telling the story. This is an extremely important – nay, vital – part of the power of theater.
Well, this is absolutely fantastic and certainly correct.
I'll still raise two caveats, however. First, an interesting difference with the Marvel comics example is that everyone understands that the "smoothing" creative act belongs to the audience. Makers' "errors" etc. are accepted, willfully, as true, and then worked through by the audience. Amazing.
Secondly, I don't think it's true exactly in the theater that we extend the same kind of license to every author that we extend to Shakespeare, and I think that's really what I was trying to treat. Excepting a text as complete is, I now am certain, a great creative act of reception. Privileging one dead genius is still hero worship.
Ooh lastly, the difference in theater is that this receptive act does not necessarily extend to the audience. In a comic book if a frame has a coloring error or something like that the audience takes it as it may. In theater if a script has a plothole or a complication, ostensibly the production team will smooth this out - before it ever gets to an audience.
All the same, a great response, and a wonderful example of audience activity. Thanks, Jack.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"The Triumph of Bullshit" by T. S. Eliot
Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass
Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotions that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.
Ladies who think me unduly vociferous
Amiable cabotin making a noise
That people may cry out "this stuff is too stiff for us" -
Ingenuous child with a box of new toys
Toy lions carnivorous, cannons fumiferous
Engines vaporous - all this will pass;
Quite innocent - "he only wants to make shiver us."
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.
And when thyself with silver foot shalt pass
Among the Theories scattered on the grass
Take up my good intentions with the rest
And then for Christ's sake stick them up your ass.
He is no one I really know,
The sun-charred, gaunt young man
By the highway's edge in Kansas
Thirty-odd years ago.
On a tourist-cabin verandah
Two middle-aged women sat;
One, in a white dress, fat,
With a rattling glass in her hand,
Called "Son, don't you feel the heat?
Get up here into the shade."
Like a good boy, I obeyed,
And was given a crate for a seat
And an Orange Crush and gin.
"This state," she said, "is hell."
Her thin friend crackled, "Well, dear,
You've gotta fight sin with sin."
"No harm in a drink; my stars!"
Said the fat one, jerking her head.
"And I'll take no lip from Ed,
Him with his damn cigars."
Laughter. A combine whined
On past, and dry grass bent
In the backwash; liquor went
Like an ice-pick in my mind.
Beneath her skirt I spied
Two sea sea-cows on a floe.
"Go talk to Mary Jo, son,
She's reading a book inside."
As I gangled in at the door
A pink girl, curled in a chair,
Looked up with an ingenue stare.
Screenland lay on the floor.
Amazed by her starlet's pout
And the way her eyebrows arched,
I felt both drowned and parched.
Desire leapt up like a trout.
"Hello," she said, and her gum
Gave a calculating crack.
At once from the lightless back
Of the room came the grumble
Of someone heaving from bed,
A Zippo's click and flare,
Then, more and more apparent,
The shuffling form of ED,
Who neither looked nor spoke
But moved in profile by,
Blinking one gelid eye
In his elected smoke.
This is something I've never told,
And some of it I forget.
But the heat! I can feel it yet,
And that conniving cold.
The point I'd like to make about the second poem is a small point, but really precisely to the heart of it. Wilbur's poem has a remarkably simple structure and a delicate, deliberate rhyme scheme. Yet, at no point is Wilbur constrained by it: the additional syllables of Kansas, and Verandah in even the first and second stanzas establish that the author's permission to exclude himself from his own rules. This permission is central to art.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
A remarkable thing about this script is the way in which information is eked out over the course of the evening. It is very clear that an entire universe exists and that all its questions have answers, and the way Mr. Stoppard controls himself as he offers this information piecemeal is essentially the “plot” of the play.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
I think you answered this quite well a couple of years ago when you defined art as an occasion or object wherein the excellence exceeds its utility. Therefore the entertainment vs. art is not a border but a continuum. For example Goodfellas and Scarface are good strong entertainment and The Godfather is probably art. Thomas Kinkaid landscapes are perfectly good decoration. Monet haystacks — art.