Revolutions are launched by clever people with strong views and excess energy.
Julian Fellowes and Sonja Warfield, The Gilded Age, “Never the New”, s01e01
Revolutions are launched by clever people with strong views and excess energy.
Julian Fellowes and Sonja Warfield, The Gilded Age, “Never the New”, s01e01
This short book from 1968 is one I should have read as an undergraduate in the 1980s. It is the first book by famed director Peter Brook, collecting a series of four lectures on the state of theater and its possibilities. The pieces do progress and build upon one another, moving from the critical viewpoint, through theory and history, to more practical concerns and perspectives.
The first part is “The Deadly Theatre,” and in it Brook discusses all the ways in which theatrical works fail. “All through the world theatre audiences are dwindling” (10). There is a doom loop in which conventionality in writing, acting, and production, along with criticism and economic pressures, lead to lowered audience expectations, which in turn foster lackluster performances. The deadly theater is not integral to society, it is a superfluous appendage which can be profitably ignored.
In “The Holy Theatre” Brook addresses the ambition of the theater to make les Invisibles visible. He introduces the “illuminated genius” Antonin Artaud as the touchstone of this ambition, and recounts some of Brooks’ own experiments in a “theatre of cruelty.” For further demonstrations of the “holy” trajectory, he outlines the work of Merce Cunningham, Samuel Beckett, and Jerzy Grotowski.
Brook’s paragon of “The Rough Theatre” is Bertolt Brecht. The rough in some senses opposes the holy: rather than being drawn out of themselves by the holy, participants are thrown back into themselves by the rough. It is a theater of examination and exposure, rather than exaltation and ecstasy. But Brooks insists that these two are complements that can and should inform each other, as they do–he claims–in the work of Shakespeare.
“The Immediate Theatre” brings the focus to the actual work of theatrical production, eventually settling on a (provisional) formula in the Francophone terms of repetition (rehearsal), representation (performance), and assistance (spectatorship). That these are all to some degree false cognates Brook does not explicitly make a matter of concern. He concludes with questions about whether theater can have enduring transformative effects for either its producers or its consumers.
Throughout this book, the prose is beautiful and eminently quotable. “It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep children good” (46). “As I continue to work, each experience will make these conclusions inconclusive again” (100). “Today, it is hard to see how a vital theatre and a necessary one can be other than out of tune with society–not seeking to celebrate the accepted values, but to challenge them” (134).
More than half a century after its composition The Empty Space is certainly valuable to students of 20th-century theater history, but also, I think, to anyone still concerned to generate and appreciate living performances in stage environments.
age-old ingredients of gothic drama and high tragedy: sex, violence, pride, fanaticism, and conspiracy.
The Portal of Initiation: A Rosicrucian Mystery Drama & The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, by Rudolf Steiner and Johann W von Goethe, respectively, the 1981 second revised edition from Spiritual Literature Library (Garber Communications), is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“The Portal of Initiation: A Rosicrucian Mystery Drama, can best be described in Rudolf Steiner’s own words:
‘When one has worked one’s way through to an understanding perception of the world, the living need is felt to form ideas no longer, but to create artistically, that is, plastically, or in color, or musically, or poetically. In my Mystery Dramas I myself tried to give what cannot be expressed in ideas about the nature of the human being. … This leads us to enjoy, to seek out, to contemplate what one cannot possibly experience in thoughts, but in living figures, as they appear in the dramatic pictures; then we let the figures of the drama really work upon us. … Art must be added to what is abstractly known if true knowledge of the world is to be attained. Further, when such perception is attained and presses toward creative form, this experience penetrates so deeply into the human soul that this union of art with science produces a religious experience.’
‘Today, humanity may not yet be inclined to absorb into external culture what can spring from the spiritual life. however, at least in artistic pictures we can show how life may develop, and what in the form of thoughts and feelings flows into our souls and permeates them. The result can be the kindling of the presentiment that out of its present, humanity must go toward a future in which it will be able to experience the streaming down of spiritual life into man on earth. For humanity is approaching an age when man will perceive himself as the intermediary between the spiritual world and the physical world. These performances were given in order that this presentiment might be awakened.’
Steiner spoke repeatedly about the importance of Goethe’s Fairy Tale, not only in relation to the spiritual striving of our time in a general sense, but in his first Mystery Drama, The Portal of Initiation, he drew upon many of the basic themes of the Fairy Tale. Steiner also indicated that the way the pictures in Goethe’s Fairy Tale ‘unfold themselves’ shows that they possess the power ‘to transform the human soul’ which opens itself to them. He also once characterized the Goethe Fairy Tale as the ‘archetypal seed’ which offers the possibility of a new order of social life amongst humanity as a whole, and described it as the foundation upon which he based his teaching concerning the modern Science of Spirit, Anthroposophy.
Although they are surrounded by the remarkable conveniences modern technology has placed at our command and the degree of ‘freedom’ this has made possible, many people today would agree with Goethe’s observation, made long ago: “Whatever sets the human spirit free without giving us mastery over ourselves is harmful.’—ANd with this awareness goes the recognition that despite the marvels of technology, designed to set men free to an ever-increasing degree, there nevertheless prevails a widespread feeling, a longing to return ‘home’, to experience the unique guidance of the star of one’s individual destiny. … Goethe’s Fairy Tale offers, in form of artistic images, the first steps on the path which at length will enable a man to come to know himself as a being of body, soul and spirit, with all this implies. Thus the Fairy Tale of Goethe may become ‘everything’ or ‘nothing’ for the reader—and it is left entirely to his own individual freedom to let it ‘speak’ its significance to him.” — back cover
Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece by Jesper Svenbro, tranlated by Janet Lloyd, part of the Myth and Poetics series edited by Gregory Nagy, the 1993 paperback from Cornell University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“One of the most haunting early examples of Greek alphabetical writing appears on the life-sized Archaic funery statue of a young girl. The inscription speaks for Phrasikleia, who ‘shall always be called maiden,’ for she has received this name from the gods instead of marriage.
First published in French in 1988, this extraordinary book traces the meaning and function of reading from its very beginnings in Greek oral culture through the development of silent reading. Focusing on metaphors of reading and writing, Jesper Svenbro offers a series of rich analyses of sepulchral and votive inscriptions and myths as well as works of epic and lyrical poetry, legal exegesis, drama, and philosophy. Svenbro draws upon the theoretical insights of Foucault as he discusses such texts as the Iliad, the poetry of Sappho, and the ABC Show by Callias. With reference to the shift to silent reading, Svenbro illuminates a pervasive metaphor in Greek culture—the pederastic paradigm, in which the reader submits to the domination of the writer. In the central section of Plato’s Phaedrus, however, Svenbro discerns an alternative model: reader and writer mutually engaged in the search for truth.
Phrasikleia opens up fascinating new perspectives on the culture of ancient Greece and the genesis of reading. A wide range of classicists, literary theorists, anthropologists, and ancient historians will welcome its availability in Janet Lloyd’s lucid and fluent translation.” — back cover
This sequel to River God has the same protagonist, the eunuch-sage Taita, but is set a generation-and-a-half after its predecessor in ancient Egypt. It has all of the drama of the first book, often in double helpings. As the title suggests, however, Taita’s magic in this book is actual supernatural sorcery, instead of just cutting-edge bronze-age technology as it had been before. Now an elderly and famous figure, Taita continues in his role of mentor to Egyptian royalty and foiler of usurpations.
Author Smith writes with excellent pacing and provides vivid characters, but sometimes his prose falls a little flat. After he mentioned “the divine presence of the god,” (281) I was ready to encounter “the wet presence of water.” There’s plenty of violence, including some bracing gore, and lots of sex (for a novel that’s not really about the sex, as such).
Overall, I liked this second volume a little better than the first. The two could be read in either sequence without significant confusion or spoilers, although the first does set up the context of the Hyksos domination of lower Egypt that the second takes for granted. Since I had liked River God without being smitten with it, an extra impetus was required to get me into Warlock, in fact. That goad was provided by my recent enthusiasm for the tabletop game Kemet, and I was well-pleased to find that Warlock matched the spirit of that game quite neatly. [via]
The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.
The Evil Eye Festival is taking place at Falcarrach, Co Dunegal, Ireland on August 23rd – 25th, 2013 [HT baloroftheevileye]. This festival celebrates how the parish “got its name at the hands of Balor of the Evil Eye and how his wicked deeds eventually led to his own demise” by telling the “mythological story of Balor of the Evil Eye told through drama, dance and music.”
“In days of yore, far back in the night of time, a giant warrior lived among us. This giant, whom they called Balor, was feared by all because of his evil eye which could strike you dead with one glance of his foul and distorted vision.
The Evil Eye Festival aims to tell the story of how our parish – Chloich Cheannfhaola – got its name at the hands of Balor of the Evil Eye and how his wicked deeds eventually led to his own demise!
If you have a love for Celtic Mythology and archaeology then we invite you to join us for our Evil Eye festival. The festival aims to tell the story of how our parish – Cloch Chionnfhaolaigh – got its name at the hands of Balor. Watch the story unfold through live dance battles, giant puppetry processions,music and outdoor drama reenactions. Visit the archaeological sites of this small kingdom of Sli Lugdach whose people worshipped the pagan god Lugh. Witness the slaying of Balor by the pagan god and celebrate the victory with wine and music!
We invite International scholars of Irish studies and archaeology and all our friends abroad to this unique festival!” [via]
My observation is this: stalkers, trolls and antagonists refuse to mind their own business and stop interfering with other people. Of course, they will say it is their Will to do what they do, but what they are really is a slave to their deep-seated emotional and psychological need for validation; and are not pursuing any kind of True Will, life purpose, of their own at all, but attempting to salve the sucking wounds they suffer from deep seated damaged desires at the expense of others, instead of seeking therapy or properly self-medicating themselves out of the way.
They are, in fact, some kind of Black Brothers, one and all. These creatures captured by their own egos are all unable to reconcile their deep psychological wounds and damaged personalities with the right of others to simply say “No!” to anything more to do with them. And, even this denied right to say “No!” is predicated on the illusion that the other has ever said “Yes” to begin with, and ends up being a kind of broken opt-out mechanism from abuse. What it comes down to is this fact: there are some people who hate themselves so much, and, because they are unable to reconcile that feeling, they will externalize their hate on anyone or someone specific that is a convenient target. After all, it is injustice that they can’t have their infantile demands fulfilled forthwith by someone else! There are sometimes even legendary levels of ultimately meaningless constructed illusion and phantasm completely divorced from reality necessary to justify their actions.
Disingenuous self-justifications may be proffered such as that they are “helping” people but at the core they are focused on what other people are up to and emphatically not doing their own work, or that they are being righteous and seeking justice, but at the core they are focused on getting others to do something that serves not the other but the person doing the interfering.
Maybe a dumb example, but (the primary advantage of this anecdote is that he’s dead now and is thus quite unlikely to throw a tantrum or have a hissy fit): my father used to do things like say he wanted to take me to a shop to buy me a gift. We would then go to some store, usually some place he suggested; and there he would say I should look around for something I liked. However, while I was looking he would do everything in his power to steer me to some specific items he had already selected, under the guise of attempting to “help” me find something I liked. In the end, if I was not amenable to being herded toward selecting as my choice some pre-selected gift he would get frustrated and create some kind of row in order to get out of buying me anything at all other than his gift, or anything at all if I still not a willing to succumb to the inexorable indirect demand to do what he wanted, which he could have simply purchased without my involvement in the process to begin with; thus proving that there was ulterior motive to the drama. In the end, I simply refused to participate in the sham any longer as it was a waste of my time and personally insulting to be expected to act as a puppet in the pantomime.
This kind of “helping” is a deeply suspect kabuki, entirely a constructed plot that the “helper” is attempting to manipulate others into acting out for them, usually in order to get some validation for themselves. In any case, the script appears to be written out of a desire to control others. In other words, these would-be centres of attention and sycophantic demanders of praise are of the vicious and venomous creeping conviction that they are the lead actors in someone else’s story when, in fact, they are not likely to even be more than a voiceless, faceless and uncredited extra, at most.
Stalkers, trolls and antagonists are not following their True Will, but are grasping desperately onto the tails of other people going about their own work and Work. This is fundamentally the opposite of finding and expressing one’s own True Will but is unilaterally and co-dependently demanding to be allowed into orbit around someone from whom they think they can suckle attention and feedback, positive or negative. These people are psychic vampires in need of being staked, and diseased social boils in need of being lanced.
Unfortunately, the heroic and hopeful Van Helsing and Dr Kildare in their attempt to be free from such interfering influences appear to be the aggressive party when they attempt to implement a cure to this parasitic perfidy. Those stalkers, trolls and antagonists fly into hysterics at the affront when confronted, and flop into pseudo-victimized apoplexy; violently dramatizing their plight at the hands of their target who dares try to defend themselves from distracting bites and defenestrate the annoying insects. And, unpleasantly, when one manages to eject the trash, the stench of its passing lingers far too long.
[Originally posted over on John Griogair Bell’s Blog at A preliminary initial Thelemic analysis of Stalkers, Trolls and Antagonists]
Hermetic Library Anthology is the newest section of the site, a new special initiative of the Hermetic Library to help promote newer works in the Western Esoteric Tradition to the audience of the Hermetic Library and beyond. This is not only the long promised permanent home for lists of tracks and artists who participated on Magick, Music and Ritual 1, the inaugural release; but this will also be the home for future releases from the Hermetic Library Anthology project!
Major subsections include an About the Anthology Project page which describes the project, an index of Anthology Albums, and an index of participant Anthology Profiles. Feel free to gander around at those profiles and check out the links provided to sites where you can follow the artists from the first anthology!
Currently, there’s Magick, Music and Ritual 1 which has already been released, and is available for immediate digital download and as a really beautiful physical CD. Not too long ago, I was able to reduce the shipping & handling on those physical CDs, so you can save a little bit when picking those up for yourselves and everyone you know!
Of course, I’m currently working on the playlist for the second issue, Magick, Music and Ritual 2, and hope to have that ready for digital release in early February. But, you may also want to consider two other issues in the works. Although I won’t formally announce a call for submissions for a planned Spring 2012 release of Magick, Music and Ritual 3, you might start to think about that. Also, I have an open and rolling call for submissions to a new kind of Anthology Album, Written Spoken Rhythm Poem 1, which is planned for recordings of drama, poetry and spoken word related to the Western Esoteric Tradition.
Please join the Hermetic Library in promoting these works and the participants who have contributed to the benefit anthology project. But, moreover, let people know about the opportunity to participate in the upcoming issues and start working on your own submissions!
If you haven’t already checked out “Hermetic Library Anthology Album call for winter 2012 submissions” you really should gander at this call for submissions to the next anthology album of tracks by artists inspired by or who incorporate ritual and magick in their work. These anthology albums help promote artists to the audience of the Hermetic Library and beyond. These albums raise awareness about the connection between ritual, magick and music. Check out the previous release, help spread the word about the anthology albums and this new opportunity to participate to those you think may be interested, but first and foremost consider contributing to this next anthology!
Also, I’ve had in mind, and I’ve been reminded by posting more of Aleister Crowley’s poetry to the blog this week, that there is so much material, both poetic and dramatic out there, not just by Aleister Crowley, of course, and certainly people have their own work to offer as well, that perhaps people, individually or as a group, would be interested in doing dramatic and poetic readings either for the anthology or for another anthology. Perhaps, if there are submissions enough, an entire anthology album specific to drama, poetry and spoken word?
Do you have a work that you’d like to record as a solo or group reading of some piece, by yourself or by another author? Perhaps you’d like to share a reading of something from Aleister Crowley‘s Collected Works, or any of a number of other books, or perhaps one of the works of another author or playwright who is part of or inspired by the Western Esoteric Tradition. Especially for Aleister Crowley, there is so much in the corpus that no one hears performed, both poetry and plays, that there’s a wealth of material! Or, why not go back even further in time to the Papyri Graecae Magicae, The Sacred Texts, or something else entirely?
So, with that in mind, I am adding, to the call for winter 2012, a specific call for recordings of drama, poetry and spoken word related to the Western Esoteric Tradition. If enough people are interested, this could turn into a dedicated anthology album!