Saturday, December 1, 2018
Friday, August 24, 2018
The Antigone Syndrome
How all is lost in a whim of fate.
A princess of the great house of Laius, that rules Thebes, has everything her world provides. Her parents, Oedipus and Jocasta, rule wisely and well. She is betrothed to Haemon, son of Creon, brother of Jocasta, the foremost lord in the land, after the king and princes, Eteocles and Polyneices.
Antigone has wealth, luxury, position and love, until plague strikes Thebes. Oedipus sends for Tiresias, the blind prophet, who reluctantly reveals the plague is punishment for Oedipus' patricide and incest. Jocasta hangs herself in shame. Oedipus blinds himself and renounces the throne.
Eteocles and Polyneices, one of whom will be king, do not seem to be overly distressed at the revelation that their father is their brother and their mother is their sister. They are powerful lords, to be feared if provoked by public comment. They agree to alternate rulership and Eteocles rules first.
Antigone and her fragile sister, Ismene, must live with the shame and humiliation of being offspring of incestuous parents. When they venture out of the palace, they feel the oppression of judgment by the people of the city, who do not dare confront them openly. The shame is unbearable, yet they must persevere, determined by their class and position. But Thebes is a small kingdom and everyone knows their dreadful story and awaits further disaster, which they believe will inevitably strike this cursed House.
At the end of Eteocles agreed term of rulership, he refuses to vacate the throne. He banishes Polyneices, who returns with an army and besieges Thebes. The long suffering Thebans had endured the Sphinx killing anyone who entered or left the city, who couldn't answer the riddle: what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three legs in the evening? Oedipus' answer, man, vanquished the Sphinx and freed the city. Then Thebes was ravaged by plague. Now war was devouring their children and loved ones in the struggle between two brothers for rulership.
Antigone and Ismene were surely blamed for the woes inflicting the people, for it was the curse on their House that brought these horrors to Thebes.
When Eteocles and Polyneices fought in single combat and killed each other, Creon, brother of Jocasta, became king. He proclaimed honorable burial rites for Eteocles, who defended his city, but exposure to the wild beasts for Polyneices, who attacked his city.
Antigone went to Creon, surely a demeaning action for a former great princess to beg of her uncle, and asked permission to give burial rites to her brother, according to law and custom. Creon refused. She insisted it was her duty to give her brother burial rights, desperate to overcome her shame by performing the honorable ritual.
Creon issued a proclamation: 'Anyone giving burial rites to Polyneices would be killed'. Antigone left defiantly, asserting it was her duty to the gods to give her brother burial rites. Creon's son, Haemon, knowing how stubborn they both were, tried to intervene to save his betrothed, but Creon wouldn't listen.
Antigone, driven to near madness by shame, gave Polyneices burial rites, perhaps seeking redemption in the hallowed ritual. Creon found out and had her buried alive. Haemon killed himself and Ismene went mad, thus tragically ending the rule of the House of Laius.
Antigone, a woman of intelligence, beauty. breeding, had everything, then lost everything to cruel fate, which destroyed her for the sins of her father’s father. She was an innocent victim, who might have become a great queen, but became a tragic figure, a creature to be pitied, possibly admired by a few, for her death with honor. Yet it is reasonable to assume that Antigone could not live with the burden fate had placed on her and chose to die, rather then live with shame.
The actress must create a complex role, but perform it simply, so the audience feels her anguish and pities her for her loss and suffering. Yet this is not a dramatic reenactment, nor the scholarly retelling of a myth. This is a passionate, soaring character, tormented by the horrible discovery of her parents relationship and her brothers’ death. She is noble, dignified, arrogant, righteous, tortured and prefers death to a life of shame. The actress must make the audience feel her character’s suffering, in order to sustain the intensity of the play.
Posted by record at 9:37 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Acts of God
Let the Egyptians boil in the foam of their roiling
Red Soup, choke on goat bones, meet the wrath
— though, think about it: They were just grunts,
doing the Man’s business. Sometimes, the Hebrews
were the mercenaries. This time, the Egyptians
were Chaldeans and Persians and, for all I know,
Moses walks into McDonald’s with Aaron and stutters
his order for a large f-f-f-fries. Aaron rolls his eyes.
“Take a breath, little brother, no rush. Sigh a moment
of peace. God knows, you seared your hands wrestling
the bush, and your face, the ripples of your scars are
hard to look at.”
Miriam, the youngest, wanted to take that raw face
in her hands and fold it to her breasts as if to suckle
the sad, stunned boy inside.
God claims full measure.
during five dances by the Chicago Repertory Ballet
Mother sins. Women save.
elegant clumsy thighs,
thick steel, smooth strength.
Mother thunder. Women meadow.
Mother stone. Women touch.
shoulder, shoulder, shoulder,
Mother shut. Women shout.
long leg, long arm,
Mother dark. Women shine.
and thanks be to God.
Mother fear. Women hope.
Stone and flesh
Eternal, I stand dark before
boulder on boulder on
boulder on boulder, floor
to cave ceiling, voiceless
idol, her face the top, with
toddler brother’s hand in
mine —- our dread, our
yearning, our electricity too
frail to puncture her stone
skin and guts and mind and
heart, her vengeful glare
lighted by all the lights of the
Cosmos, blinding, one stealing
around to the next cave and
the same idol, and my brother
staying behind to bash his
skull all the days of his life
against the stern inert flesh.
Words and phrases from William Styron’s book about depression, highlighted in yellow by my brother several years before his suicide — a found poem*
wasn’t cheered by the festive occasion dank joylessness habitual pretense failure of alleviation laid low gloom crowding in excruciating near-paralysis maintain rosy view need day over shadows encroaching anxiety and dread demanding struggle obliterated any enjoyable response
close to actual pain drowning suffocation positive and active anguish immobilized trance of supreme discomfort helpless stupor full-time exhaustion almost measurably worse brownout ferocious inwardness immense distraction
guilt and self-condemnation absence of hope leaden and poisonous mood pattern of distress intensity and relief incomplete letup immediate upheaval nearly helpless a bullet through his brain
melancholia howling tempest in the brain less zestful waiting to swoop down indifferent suffocating gloom aching solitude violent thoughts near paralysis sapped drained without savor absence of dreams death a daily presence think ceaselessly of oblivion
stretched on such a torture rack dependence a world soon obliterated full of anguish suffering crucifixion
an end to myself either course was torture inner convulsion despair beyond despair an irreversible decision oncoming disaster extinction inadequate apologies go out in silence numbly unresponsive some last gleam of sanity
only duty try to get well
the abyss mysterious in its coming still shaky
struck again grip of depression at its ghastliest unrealistic hopelessness genetic roots
a dark wood horror of depression only remedy behold the stars
*Words and phrases highlighted in a paperback edition of Styron’s Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Vintage). Each stanza is from a different chapter in the book.
Patrick T. Reardon
Posted by record at 7:40 AM
Monday, May 28, 2018
Kids in Florida
The Trials of Nuremberg
never slowed down the anguish
that man tried to pass on within a stepping stone
of dissociated guilt…
And if Buddha is your “thing”
Well then bow down to the chanting
harmony of want…
Do we ever climb into the space that
saves seventeen kids? Theorize what
agony is within our own little mind…
Prancing with false bravado…a
Twitter rant or faceboob comment about
how actors can play the role of deviant
Then the sickening larva will
lick their glistening lips…looking
over the bodies of souls in camps or
step around the blood of a freshman band member…
Crying “the horror, the horror…” That was good
enough for Marlon Brando…but it could never
extinguish the rationalization of another, another
we are born to wonder…
My God is better
in the end…the same place
will be dark…
Smelling of sweat.
Deep –we will think
for years, but settle
mode of whatever
sin may be in vogue
Jesus in the Garden
Others have pleaded
on a smaller stage,
Maybe not with big
But tasted the poison too…
And they wanted to get out just
as much as you did…
When their sentence was announced
and the blood refused
to stop flowing…
All of you died…
Some with fanfare…
Others in fields in
the middle of nowhere…
Jesus…your morality is commendable
An unselfish spirt …
Who to some, was killed
for our sins…I just
know of others
who took the quiet
way out…No prayers
or books were written
pained faces, staring
into a faceless mirror…
Day after day after
Posted by record at 7:16 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Posted by record at 7:29 PM