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Embryonic Echo of the Triple Tone


John Corbin, The Elizabethan Hamlet : A Study of the Sources, and of Shakspere’s Environment, to show that the Mad Scenes had a Comic Aspect now Ignored (London : Elkin Mathews, 1895).


“We must conclude that even in Shakspere’s first version, the comic element, now quite archaic, must have been distinctly evident to the Elizabethans.” (83)




Corbin experiences a “trace of comedy” in the murder scene of Polonius; at Ophelia’s grave; in Ophelia’s “amusingly coarse songs”; in the interplay between Ophelia and Hamlet in 3.1.




“To recapitulate, I have shown that the plot of Shakspere’s Hamlet is that of a crude tragedy of blood; and that in the lost play upon which Shakspere worked, Hamlet’s madness was made comic even in the most serious scenes.” (71)




“Instances of the comic aspect of insanity on the Elizabethan stage are not far to seek. In Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy . . .” (55)


“Although the tragic scenes of The Changeling make one of the most effective dramas outside the covers of Shakspere, its mad [and comic] underplot was so popular that it usurped the title of the play.” (57–8)


“That no subject was too high for this [type of gruesome] archaic comedy is apparent in the Chester Miracle play of Noah’s Flood, which was written in the latter half of the fourteenth century.” (51)




James G. Nelson, Elkin Mathews : Publisher to Yeats, Joyce, Pound (Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 3; 135.


“A list of some of his most significant publications reads like a roll call of books crucial to the rise of modern literature. . . . T.S. Eliot referred to Mathews’ ‘acumen’ in estimating the worth of a manuscript . . .”




I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.


T. S. Eliot, “Prufock”



                                         Think ’t the best voyage

That e’er you made; like the irregular crab,

Which, though ’t goes backward, thinks that it goes right,

Because it goes its own way.


Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1.1.309–312)






Moonrise Kingdom (2012)







Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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John Webster and The Departed (2006)


Remember Jack : “If you’ll indulge me?”—and removes the wedding ring from a severed hand. (40:36)




[In semi-darkness]



I come to seal my peace with you. Here’s a hand

      [Gives her a dead man’s hand.]

To which you have vow’d much love; the ring upon ’t

You gave.



                    I affectionately kiss it.



Pray, do, and bury the print of it in your heart.

I will leave this ring with you for a love-token;

And the hand as sure as the ring . . .



                 You are very cold:

I fear you are not well after your travel.—

      [Lights come up.]

 Ha! lights!

                   —O, horrible!


Duchess of Malfi (4.1.43–53)






Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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John Marston and The Departed (2006)


Jack. ArnoId, you’re one in a miIIion.

Ray. Ten. Ten miIIion.





The protagonist, Malevole, speaking to Celso, his close friend and right-hand man :



My honored Lord.



Peace, speak low; peace! O Celso, constant Lord,

Thou to whose faith I only rest discovered,

Thou one of full ten millions of men

That lovest virtue only for itself . . .


John Marston, The Malcontent (1.4.1–5)


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Echo and Narcissus


Tiresias was famous through the district of Helicon,

for no one who sought out his responses could find them untrue.

The first who trialled and confirmed his voice and truth was sea-blue

Liriope. Once, she was wound up in the entangling

bends of the river Cephisus and confined in its rushing

waters. Then from out of her swelling womb came a beautiful

baby, and the Naiad-nymph loved him, and called him Narcissus.


When she asked if he would live a long time and see an old age,

the prophesying seer responded : “If he never knows himself.”


Other than this apparent gibberish Tiresias voiced nothing.

But, as things happened, the case would be proven true—by his acts,

his unusual desire, and his peculiar death.


In his sixteenth year Narcissus still projected boyish charm.

Many young men desired him, and many young women, too.

But so unresistingly discerning and fine was his sense

that no young man touched his heart, nor, either, any young woman.


Once, he was herding timid deer into his nets when a nymph

of marvellous voice saw him—resounding Echo, unable

to break the silence until she first acquired someone’s speech.



to be continued


Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.339–58.

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In earlier times Echo had a body as well as voice,

yet she spoke no different from today—her mouth had power

to return only the last words she heard. It was Queen Hera

who contrived this, for many times she would have caught her husband

dawdling with nymphs in the mountain ranges, if only Echo

hadn’t cunningly detained her with long conversation

while the nymphs all fled. As soon as Hera discovered this

trickery, she spoke. “So,” she said, “Your long tongue is sly, is it?

No longer! Short and slight your speech shall be!” And so it happened.

Now Echo had power to return only the last words she heard.


And so she saw Narcissus rambling the isolated woods.

She was aroused at the sight, and secretly followed his tracks . . .

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And so she saw Narcissus rambling the isolated woods.

She was aroused at the sight, and secretly followed his tracks,

and her flame of love grew hotter as she followed, as torches

lively blaze when one nearby catches another. How many times

she yearned to show herself, to plead her love achingly, to ask

for his heart. But nature forbade this, nor allowed her to begin.

She had to wait for him to speak so she might provide her words.


It happened that the young man got separated from his friends.

And he spoke. “Is anyone,” he said, “here?” And Echo said, “Here!”

He stood amazed, and looked all round him, saying, “Come!” And Echo

called to him who called, “Come!” He turned to see no one behind him,

and said, “Let us meet!”, and in just so many words, and no more,

she answered. Then he called out, “Come to me now!” So she said it,

and with these friendly words she came out of the trees and hugged him.


He slipped out of her arms round his neck. “Take your hands off!” he said.

“Better death than have you touch me!” All she could say was, “Touch me.”


But it was not to be. So she vanished into the deep woods,

and hid her disappointed face in the leaves; and ever since

lived alone in lonely caves. But her love grew stronger in grief.

Tormented with sorrow, her body miserably withered,

her skin wrinkled, and all her spirit seemed to melt into the air.

Only her voice and bones remained; then, they say, only her voice,

after her bones dried to stone. Now she lies unseen in the woods,

and no longer walks the mountain ranges. And although we hear

her all over, it is only as a voice that she still lives.


Thus had Narcissus slighted the nymph, and many another

come from mountain or wave; and thus had he slighted many youths.

It was any one of those who had lifted their hands to the sky

and prayed, “Then let him love himself, and not have the one he loves!”


And goddess Nemesis heard the just prayer.


to be continued


Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.370–406.

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A Clockwork Ovid


“As an unmuddied lake.” (25:22) / (2:12:01)


Fons erat inlimis, (3.405)


[ the water / the well ]  [ was ]  [ “without mud (i. e. pure, clear)” (L&S)]


In the tale of Narcissus.






Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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“Not Waving but Drowning”


“Another feature of The Revenger’s Tragedy that affects response to it is its element of comedy, even farce. . . . At the same time, The Revenger’s Tragedy impresses audiences in the theatre, like its readers, as a serious drama.”


by English academic Reginald A. Foakes in his finely-edited edition of the play.


Foakes, describing the narrative as dual in nature, applies the phrases “black comedy” and “tragic farce”—


and quotes another twentieth-century English academic to back him up :


In The Revenger’s Tragedy, “The opposed possibilities of laughter and horror are both fully realized.” (Nicholas Brooke)


We’re meant to hear the word “horror” as synonymous with “serious”.


No thanks.


It would have been easier for these two to understand The Revenger’s Tragedy if they had recognised the concept of the Triple Tone.




They’re in esteemed company.


In his farcical essay on Cyril Tourneur—a prosier version of a Facebook post—T.S. Eliot noted “the world of nightmare, some horror beyond words” in The Revenger’s Tragedy, but he dismissed considering the play’s humour (“the low comedy, more low than comic”)—and thereby missed the opportunity of discovering the Triple Tone.


Eliot didn’t understand The Revenger’s Tragedy as a fusion of a simultaneity of tones.


Rather, Anglican Eliot—by this time an English citizen—wrote of “the transitions” between the “tragic and the comic” (“transitions”, btw, he described as “offensive tastelessness”).


T.S. Eliot, now “a handful of dust”, had zero clue of the structural miracle of the Triple Tone.




The Triple Tone is a twenty-first-century discovery (thanks, second of all, to Phantom Thread).


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“Come on. Let’s get into character.”

—Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp



Duke, royal lecher! Go, gray-hair’d adultery;

And thou his son, as impious steep’d as he;

And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;

And thou his duchess that will do with devil—

Four excellent characters!



And so The Revenger’s Tragedy begins with metatheatre, as does, say, Οἰδίπους Τύραννος. As it happens, the degree of engineered-in audience-narrative fusion (i.e., “we’re all in it together!”) is of a remarkable magnitude in the play.




As late as 1974 an academic is writing :


“One element of the play no critic has emphasized . . . [is that] The Revenger’s Tragedy is self-consciously and insistently theatrical.”


Leslie Sanders, “The Revenger’s Tragedy: A Play on the Revenge Play”, Renaissance and Reformation, 10, 1 (1974) 25–36.






*     *     *


It has been theorised by Scroob that the classic literary mindset in Jolly England is plodding and linear—as typified by Anglican Eliot and his poppycock of “transitions” (between serious and comic) in The Revenger’s Tragedy.


As anyone who watches movies knows, moods linger and mesh throughout the duration of the experience. Watching a movie is more akin to scenting fragrances than eyeballing an architectural drawing.




We in the present day have a leg up on Eliot. Studying cinema can accelerate our education of literature. The simultaneous multidimensional multiresonances of filmic narratives (starting at the level of the individual shot) may educate us in what the Elizabethans already well understood. The audience of Οἰδίπους was more sophisticated than today’s audiences, and so was the audience of The Revenger’s Tragedy.




Theory : Down through the years, Inhumans have lost the knowledge of what authentic communication is. Crazy thought—because we’ll all speaking—but apparently true. Technology has accelerated the deterioration of the Inhuman mind. So no surprise that most no one knows what a first-rate story is, how to create one, or how to absorb one. Good news, however. Though we’re most of us slow learners, still and all we’re able to learn.




Is the only possible authentic conversation (outside of technical writing) the audience-artwork fusion?




There was a well of clear water of sparkling silver surface.

No herdsmen came here, nor she-goats to feed, nor any cattle,

nor bird, nor any wild beast; nor did even one tree branch

ripple the clear silvery surface. Surrounding the well

was green grass enrichened by the nearby water in the air;

this was a place in the woods to come to cool off from the sun.

So the young man came, weary and overheated from the hunt,

and sank his body down along the green grass beside the well.

And as he seeks to allay his thirst, another thirst appears.

While he drinks, he looks on fascinated at a vision

of himself. He loves that which he thinks substance, but is shadow.

He looks astonished at what the water holds; he cannot move.

Looking on, he remains as fixed as a figure of Parian

marble. Lying on the grass he admires his shining eyes,

two stars; at his hair, which flows as from Bacchus or Apollo;

at his youthful cheeks; and his ivory neck; and decorous mouth;

and his face, its red blush blending with its snowy-white brilliance.

All that is wonderful in himself he loves; and witlessly

wants himself. And so, he who approves, is himself approved;

both desire and burn with love. He seeks to kiss the shifty

water, and plunges his arms in to touch the shoulders, unaware

of what he loves; but what his beguiléd eyes see, he loves.

Why, foolish boy, this vain reaching for a phantom? What you seek

is shadow. Look away, and your love departs. What you see

is a trace of yourself echoing in your eyes. It comes

with you, it stays with you, it goes with you—if only you’ll go!


to be continued






Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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τριπλαῖς ἁμαξιτοῖς


Remarkable—The Revenger’s Tragedy is the Triple Tone. The narrative sustains a simultaneity of vibes (serious / comic / perverse) from start to finish.




“Early critics of the play scarce noticed any humour” (Foakes, 13)—a ludicrous failure of vision summed up and typified by Eliot.


Why this failure? The Triple Tone is engineered-in with “upfront seriousness”.


Old Story : The six English audiences Scroob saw EWS with didn’t emit a single laugh. But the seventh audience was an International Students Night, and Scroob was shocked at the clamour of laughter throughout. By that time (October 1999) Scroob had already noticed : “The tone of the film is an astonishingly adroit amalgamation of the dead-serious and the comic interfused one with another.”




The title is jokey. The two words Revenger’s Tragedy is the enjambment of two genres—like Rom-Com.




Theory : The Revenger’s Tragedy is at least as complexly wrought as any play of the era of Shakespeare.




Οἰδίπους Τύραννος

The Revenger’s Tragedy

Phantom Thread

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I had the same experience with a screening of "2001", the audience found the deadpan dialogue very funny ("Without your space helmet, Dave... I think you'll find it... very difficult.") And I don't think they were wrong to laugh.

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Phantom Thread as Revenge Story


A possible author of the wacky Revenger’s Tragedy is Cyril Tourneur.


PTA hides inspirations in names. Alma = Place de L’Alma, the spot right by where Dior (and other fashion houses) are located in Paris. // Alma Elson = Karen Elson, one of Lee Alexander McQueen’s signature models. // Woodcock = Hamlet.




Woodcock says, “I rescued it from Antwerp during the war.” He doesn’t mean people, such as, for example, Alma’s mother, but “Flemish bobbin lace”.




Alma loathes Barbara Rose and her visa-selling Million Dollar Stud.


[The FBI file on Barbara Hutton was code-named “Red Rose”, 176. // WWII visa-selling and husband Porfirio Rubirosa, 259. // The marriage press conference, 266–67; and photo. // Passing out at the wedding reception, 267. // See C. David Heymann, Poor Little Rich Girl : The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton (New York: Random House [Bertelsmann] , 1983).]




Is Alma (among other motivations) exacting revenge against the whole world with her mushroom shenanigans?

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O blessèd, blessèd night! I am afeard,

Being in night, all this is but a dream,

Too flattering sweet to be substantial.



Oh, I’m above my tongue!


Michael Caine

I’m walking on air!


(Hannah and Her Sisters, 43:24)




4.2, enchantment now ominous


While Juliet plots with the (PT-mushroom-like) potion :



                                   My heart is wondrous light

Since this same wayward girl is so reclaimed.


5.1, enchantment catastrophic



My bosom’s lord sits lightly in his throne,

And all this day an unaccustomed spirit

Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.


l’enchantement est brisé


*      *      *


Phantom echoes



The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting phantasimes, these new tuners of accent: “By Jesu, a very

good blade! A very tall man! A very good whore!” Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire, that

we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies, these fashion-mongers, these “pardon-me” ’s,

who stand so much on the new form that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench? O their bones,

their bones!



Everything is a game! “Yes, mister! No, madam! Yes.” “I don’t eat this. I don’t drink that. I don’t . . .”





Piteous predicament! Even so lies she,

Blubb’ring and weeping, weeping and blubb’ring.


Woodcock. Well, don’t start blubbering, Alma.

Alma. I’m not blubbering.





Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here’s drink. I drink to thee.


She self-administers the fairy-tale (PT-mushroom-like) sleeping potion.



                                                       And, lips, O, you

The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss

A dateless bargain to engrossing death.


Then Romeo self-administers a (PT-mushroom-like) “dram of poison”.



                                 I will kiss thy lips.

Haply some poison yet doth hang on them,

To make me die with a restorative.


Then it’s Juliet’s turn—




Woodcock. Kiss me, my girl, before I’m sick.


*      *      *


Btw, in Duchess of Malfi 5.2, the character Julia dies after pressing her lips to a book soaked in poison. (As Romeo says—sour misfortune’s book”.)


*      *      *


What’s in a name?


Reynolds Woodcock.


Reynard the Fox!


“The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush.” (Ulysses, 2)—is an artist’s toil.


Ving. I’m gonna get medieval . . .

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Opening The Revenger’s Tragedy.


Duke, royal lecher! Go, gray-hair’d adultery;

And thou his son, as impious steep’d as he;

And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;

And thou his duchess that will do with devil:

Four excellent characters!


Kind Reader, note, for example, the deployment of prevailing letter-sounds A / B / C / D / E / F / G


and the magic is in the order of information.


Note, first, the “g”


Duke, royal lecher! (G)o, (g)ray-hair’d adultery;


then the “a”


Duke, royal lecher! Go, gr(a)y-h(a)ir’d (a)dultery;


then the “e”


And thou his son, as impious st(ee)p’d as h(e);


then the “b”


And thou his (b)astard, true-(b)egot in evil;


then the “d”


And thou his (d)uchess that will (d)o with (d)evil :


now the “f”


(F)our excellent characters!


and, finally, the deployment of the “c”


Four e(xc)llent (c)hara(c)ters!


What a sonic force is (c)haracters! It hits like an audible lightning strike.


Contributing is the echo of (r)oyal and t(r)ue and Fou(r) and adul(ter)y and charac(ter)s and Du(k)e;

also the progression of e(v)il and de(v)il to firm (F)our.


the lines employ the “kindred sounds (p), (v), and (f), which a critic has called the finest trinity of consonantal harmonies our tongue contains.” Hollingworth & Weekes, John Keats (1936), xxiv.


The magic music of these lines is engineered to hit the most powerful note of the expression the “c” of (c)haractersas a hyperstrong, resolute climacteric.






Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Rhyme : gentle to dark


The Spanish Tragedy opens, Seneca-like, with the appearance of a ghost. The play begins :


When this eternal substance of my soul

Did live imprisoned in my wanton flesh,

Each in their function serving other’s need,

I was a courtier in the Spanish court.

My name was Don Andrea; my descent,

Though not ignoble, yet inferior far

To gracious fortunes of my tender youth;

For there, in prime and pride of all my years,

By duteous service and deserving love,

In secret I possessed a worthy dame,

Which hight sweet Bel-imperia by name.


A sudden rhyme. How sweetly this open-mouthed, declamatory, long-“a” rhyme expresses the profound depth of his lost love!




The Revenger’s Tragedy


First Judge

This be the sentence—



Oh, keep ’t upon your tongue; let it not slip:

Death too soon steals out of a lawyer’s lip.

Be not so cruel-wise.




The sudden rhyme here, while the Duchess strives to protect her youngest son, projects a vibe of quaint naivete. The second line, however worldly-wise in content, has a dainty, fairy-tale lilt to the syntax (i.e., the ordering of information).


(However—this sweet naive delicacy is a consummate dissimulation; for when the mask drops, the Duchess exposes herself as heartless, treacherous, evil.)




Later in The Spanish Tragedy (2.4), the love scene’s dialogue is composed of rhyme, which expresses sweetly the delicacy of two lovers with soaring hearts.


Example :


Bel-imperia. Set forth thy foot to try the push of mine.

Horatio. But first my looks shall combat against thee.

Bel-imperia. Then ward thyself. I dart this kiss as thee.

Horatio. Thus I retort the dart thou threw’st at me.

[They kiss]


*      *     *


Suddenly, the love scene of Spanish Tragedy turns horrible with a hanging. The final rhyme is perversely dark and darkly punning :



Although his life were still ambitious, proud,

Yet is he at the highest now he is dead.




This rhyme vibe-twist looks forward to . . .




Throughout 1.1, Romeo rhymes often in his dialogue—conveying his enchanted lovesick condition.


Example :


Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit

With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit,

And, in strong proof of chastity well armed,

From love’s weak childish bow she lives uncharmed.

She will not stay the siege of loving terms,

Nor bide the encounter of assailing eyes,

Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.

O, she is rich in beauty, only poor

That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.


Romeo’s final line portends the double-death scene of 5.3, in which the only rhymes the protagonists pronounce are dark ones.


Examples :



Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,

Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth




What’s here? A cup closed in my true love’s hand?

Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.





Seneca’s Romeo and Juliet


The kind reader may find it interesting that Seneca’s influence on Elizabethan theatre was so profound (not only thematically but, crucially, structurally), that a long-ago scholar even identified the Roman visionary’s mark on, of all things, Romeo and Juliet.


Examples :


Messengers remind us of those of Seneca. Compare, for instance, Romeo and Juliet, 5.1, and Hippolytus, 1000–1. (43)


Juliet is inspired with strength to take the sleeping-potion by a like vision to that which appeared to Medea in her moment of weakness. (44)


Another idea frequently put forward by Seneca and by Shakespeare is that of the presentiment of evil (See Romeo and Juliet, 1.4). (77)


              Cunliffe, Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy (1893)






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Jack. Well, I’m looking for a change.


Jack. You can rest assured that’s not going to happen with me.


In these two instances the audience is “in on the joke”.




Similarly, early in The Revenger’s Tragedy, Vindice muses to himself (and to the audience) :


                                                                                       Hum! Who e’er knew

Murder unpaid? Faith, give Revenge her due,

She has kept touch hitherto. Be merry, merry . . .


“kept touch hitherto”—the twenty years of revenge tragedies that predated The Revenger’s Tragedy.


Translated : “Murder is always requited in theatre plays! The Revenge genre has had its day for twenty years now! Let’s have one more full-on wacky Revenge bonanza!”

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The oil painting (of ancient ruins) visible on the wall in the Barbara Rose press conference (52:18) in PT appears prominently in Woody Allen’s Coup de Chance (4:25).


One link between the two films is Véronique Melery, set decoration in PT, and production design in Coup.

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Coup de Chance (2023)


From beginning to end, the narrative muses on luck.


“I can’t believe I ran into you.”

“It’s quite a coincidence.”



“It remained no less terrifying to realise the immense role played in all things by chance—and the importance of being lucky.”



Genius move? Even the most banal cliché of all relating to luck takes on colossal significance in the narrative


               “Good luck with your novel.”





The Dangerous Muse


The artist figure’s original dream-love appears to him years later, and it precipitates catastrophe.


His destiny was “wrong from the start”.


In a world ruled by luck, he never had a chance.




Sophoclean ill-starred destiny : her, too


He. For me, you’ll always be Fanny Moreau. With a black leather bag and Anna Karenina under the arm. (17:34)




“Blood will have blood.”


The Macbeth Situation of one crime requiring who-many-knows how many more crimes to cover it up.




per scelera semper sceleribus tutum est iter. (Seneca, Agamemnon, 115)


“Things bad begun make themselves strong by ill.” (Macbeth)

“Black deed only through black deed safely flies.” (Marston, The Malcontent)

“Small mischiefs are by greater made secure.” (Webster, The White Devil)




The Husband : Childlike Nazism


Husband. An antique Märklin circuit that works perfectly.

Wife. You'll never grow up.

Husband. I'll always be a boy.



[On 2 Dec 1993, Christie’s auctioned “A rare pre-war Märklin ‘Der Wagen des Führer’, Hitler’s Mercedes-Benz Touring Car, circa 1936 (F-G)”. Then another in 1996.]


Proclamation of the Herrenvolk : “Physical fitness is the highest priority!” (30:16)


Proclamation of Der große Diktator : “I despise people who rely on luck. Luck doesn’t exist.” (44:52)


The Husband, however outwardly “likable” (as noted by Owen Gleiberman in his careful review in Variety), is, hidden inside himself, without empathy. He is a high-degree Inhuman.


Husband. I’m sorry but I don’t like the guy. Very pushy. (20:32)

Husband. It’s a total fraud. (35:04)


The husband may as well be speaking of himself.



The Stargate of Art : the husband’s Bergman moment


I always loved trains. As a little boy, I was bullied by my parents and friends. To escape, I climbed on some random train, and I was gone. And look now. On board the train to nowhere, I enter a tunnel . . . dark, sinister, intimidating. I see the true face of existence. I see light at the end of the tunnel, an opening. And when I come out, I am changed. I am no longer that fragile, frightened boy. I am someone else.


This speech may be heard as “the transformative power of art”. Or, say, “die Verlockung der Konformität”.


“As a little boy, I was bullied”—Now, day by day, it is he who is doing the bullying, and he doesn’t see it. How Inhuman of him.


Later, a suggestive connection :


Friend. Imagine those two in bed, mocking the humiliated husband. . . .

      [Awkward pause]

Husband. Have you seen my train obsession yet?





In scene after scene of social occasions, the singular subject matter is gossip and idle blather.


               Mother. Doesn’t he have any great friends?

               Daughter. No, very shallow, their only quality is being wealthy. (21:10)


Genius move? Finally, though, a moment of idle blather leads to epiphany.




The lover reminds her of, as she says, “The happiest time of my life, with a promising future.” (9:46) Yet as it turns out, her choices may not have been so promising way back when.


So the illicit affair brings her back not only to her happy times, but also, in her mind, to her questionable choices, choices that led her to “rock bottom.” (16:17)


Thus, the return of a “Prince Charming” is not exclusively a fairy-tale Situation for her.




Paradise Lost


What is a marriage when the participants play out a series of deceptions with each other every time they speak?


Is the husband a relative to the husband from Fassbinder’s Martha (1974)?




Husband. But why were you hiding that [lottery ticket]? Are you afraid that I’d think you’re stupid? Sweetheart, I never think that of you. (35:07)


Meaning, Yes, he does—or the concept wouldn’t have entered his mind so quickly.




Famous last words


               He. Don’t get me started on it. (3:29)

               He. I am lucky. (27:34)

               She. Honestly, it would surprise me if something had happened to him. (1:01:30)

Husband. That’s because I create my own luck. (1:07:21)




Coup de Chance


A timely phone call may save someone’s life (1:29:10)—just as in EWS. (52:30)






A glimpse of the exterior of Shakespeare and Co. at 24:40.




Storaro Dolly Zoom


Expert dolly zoom (not meant to be noticed) with complex camera move from 48:11–48:19.




PT : Connections


Coup de Chance begins at 15 Av. Montaigne.—Cut to scene with PT’s oil painting.

The flagship Dior is located at 30 Av. Montaigne.




“Mieux valait ne pas s'y attarder.”


This lovely last line incorporates a self-reflexivity that distinguishes the end-scenes of so many plays of the Shakespearean era. e.g., Scroob’s recent reads : The Spanish Tragedy 4.4.146–152 / The Malcontent 5.6.165 / The Revenger’s Tragedy 5.3.126 / The Changeling 5.3.114–7 / The Duchess of Malfi 5.5.84–6.




Oh, if only someone in Hollywood would write a Woody Allen script for Emily Blunt right now! It is her time. . . .


Bonne chance avec ça.






Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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In what shape would the Devil come unto you?



Always in the shape of a dog of two colours, sometimes of black and sometimes of white.


The Wonderful discovery of Elizabeth Sawyer, a Witch, late of Edmonton, her conviction and condemnation and death. Written by Henry Goodcole, Minister of the Word of God, and her continual visitor in the Gaol of Newgate. Published by Authority. London, 1621.




On which is based the DEVIL DOG character, having a great many lines of dialogue to speak, and a violin to play, and great bewitcheries to perform, in The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley &co.


Dog. Dogs love where they are beloved. Cherish me, and I’ll do anything for thee. . . . Bow, wow, wow, wow!

(3.2.132–3 / 4.1.270)


Young Banks. Neither is this the Black Dog of Newgate.

Old Banks. No, goodman son-fool, but the dog of hell-gate!



*     *     *


The discovery of a London Monster called, the Blacke Dogg of Newgate : profitable for all Readers to take heed by (c.1600; many reprintings)


“Black Dog of Newgate : legendary spectral dog who haunted the prison at execution time.”

E. D. Pendry’s note in Thomas Dekker (1967), 201.




“The Black Dog of Newgate should again be let loose and afar off follow the bawling Bellman, to watch into what places he went and what deeds of darkness every night he did.”

Thomas Dekker, English Villainies Discovered by Lantern and Candlelight (ch12)




Self-fulfilling prophecy


Elizabeth Sawyer

                                                     Some call me witch,

And, being ignorant of myself, they go

About to teach me how to be one, urging

That my bad tongue, by their bad usage made so,

Forspeaks their cattle, doth bewitch their corn,

Themselves, their servants and their babes at nurse.

This they enforce upon me, and in part

Make me to credit it.


(Witch of Edmonton, 2.1.8–14)





                                                            Ha, ha, ha, ha!

Let not the world witches or devils condemn;

They follow us, and then we follow them.


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The good Antonio in the Duchess of Malfi is not far from the character Oppenheimer of Hour 3.



Make patience a noble fortitude.







Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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The “post-rhyme syllable”


The following is a spectacular example of what Scroob calls the “post-rhyme syllable”. Sonically speaking, the PRS appears as if after the end. Here, the technique is intensified—a whole word follows the end-rhyme. In this example the PRS appears as the last word of the speech, which ends the scene.



Despair, or tortures of a thousand hells,

All’s one to me: I have set up my rest.

Now, now work serious thoughts on baneful plots.

Be all a man, my soul; let not the curse

Of old prescription rend from thee the gall

Of courage, which enrols a glorious death.

If I must totter like a well-grown oak,

Some under-shrubs shall in my weighty fall

Be crushed to splits; with me they all shall perish.


(Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, 5.3.71–9)


[ I have set up my rest ] = I’ve pushed all my chips into the pot.

[ old prescription ] = custom

[ enrols ] = inscribes into History




Despair, or tortures of a thousand hells,

All’s one to me: I have set up my rest.

Now, now work serious thoughts on baneful plots.

Be all a man, my soul; let not the curse

Of old prescription rend from thee the gall

Of courage, which enrols a glorious death.

If I must totter like a well-grown oak,

Some under-shrubs shall in my weighty fall

Be crushed to splits; with me they all shall perish.




What subsequently happens? Giovanni enters a banquet “with a human heart upon his dagger”.







Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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[ I.ii ]


Senate Aide.                How long did he testify?

Strauss. Honestly, I forget. The whole hearing

     took a month.

Senate Aide.       An ordeal.

Strauss.                                    I’ve only read

     the transcripts, but . . . who’d want to justify

     their whole life?

Senate Aide.

                                      You weren’t there?

Strauss.                                                           As Chairman,

     I wasn’t allowed to be. Are they really

     going to ask about it? It was years ago.

Senate Aide. Four years ago.

Strauss.                                          Five.

Senate Aide.                                         Oppenheimer still

     divides America— the committee

     will want to know where you stood. Ready?

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Scrooby’s helpful hint


Cinema audiences attend to the actors to the exclusion of much else in the (populous) frame.


Similarly, in the following example, each line “upfronts” one concept.




The Duke attempts to seduce Bianca into bed.



                                                                           Why should you seek, sir,

To take away that [which] you can never give?



But I give better in exchange: wealth, honor.

She that is fortunate in a Duke’s favor

Lights on a Tree that bears all women’s wishes;

If your own Mother saw you pluck fruit there,

She would commend your wit and praise the time

Of your Nativity. Take hold of glory.

Do not I know y’have cast away your life

Upon necessities, means merely doubtful

To keep you in indifferent health and fashion

A thing I heard too lately, and soon pitied

And can you be so much your Beauty’s enemy

To kiss away a month or two in wedlock,

And weep whole years in wants for ever after?

Come play the wife, wench, and provide for ever;

Let storms come when they list, they find thee sheltered:

Should any doubt arise, let nothing trouble thee;

Put trust in our love for the managing

Of all to thy heart’s peace. We’ll walk together,

And show a thankful joy for both our fortunes.


Middleton, Women Beware Women, 2.2.369–87.




Readers encountering a Shakespearean-era play see so many words.


A film frame may have many objects in it, but most of these are ignored by the audience following actor(s).


Follow the yellow brick road of the one prevailing concept from line to line.


(Each one concept may be accentuated to a theatre audience via actor cues.)




Knowing the “one concept”  Scrooby theory makes it theoretically easier for a reader to navigate through Shakespearean-era plays.

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The Oppenheimer (2023) phenomenon


A magic circle moment : CU of character Oppenheimer gazing into the lens, and into the eyes of the audience—(1:13–1:23).


Ten seconds of synchronous character/audience contemplation.


(1:13–1:23) is a duration in which the Spectator revisits Oppenheimer in the mind—just as another experience of it has begun before one’s senses.  


It is a mystic moment somewhat reminiscent of “life flashing before one’s eyes”.




The film begins with The Thinker—both character, and audience.




Nice to think


At (1:13–1:23) the film Oppenheimer intentionally activates the audience as Thinkers.


*      *      *


On the other hand



φεῦ φεῦ, φρονεῖν ὡς δεινὸν ἔνθα μὴ τέλη

λύῃ φρονοῦντι (315–6)


Ah, well. Knowledge is terrible when it

brings no benefit.




               Give me a chance, Louis thought, and I’ll understand myself right into the nearest mental asylum.


Stephen King, Pet Sematary, ch25

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Genius Structure : Stephen King’s Pet Sematary


The structure of Pet Sematary is a slow burn. Twelve chapters—a full sixty pages in Scrooby’s paperback—pass by until bloody horror first appears.


However—Stephen King engineers his narrative so that a brooding sense of unease exists even from the very first page.


How does the author engineer this “brooding sense of unease”?


King inserts a bit of negativity—subtle negativity, if not gratuitous negativity—into each chapter.




Each chapter of Pet Sematary incorporates more than one example of this subtle engineering. Herein are only a very few examples.




Chapter 1 begins on a late summer’s day up in Maine : the Protagonists arrive at their new house. Dad, mom, and two young kids. The house is a beautiful one in a bucolic location—but by paragraph 2 King has already begun a pattern of unease :


“by the time they neared the place where Louis believed the house to be . . . they were all tired and tense and on edge.”

. . .

“That’s it,” Louis said [of the house]. He felt apprehensive—no, he felt scared. In fact he felt terrified. He had mortgaged twelve years of his life for this; it wouldn’t be paid off until Eileen was seventeen.


And before chapter 1 is over King inserts an especially gratuitous remark, in order to intensify the mystic unease :


“Daddy?” Eileen said from the back seat.

“What, love?”

“Is this home?”

“It’s going to be, honey.”

Hooray!” she shouted, almost taking his ear off. And Louis, who could sometimes become very irritated with Eileen, decided . . .




In Chapter 2, the happy-family vibe is punctured with two remarks of adult-on-child violence.


Five-year-old Eileen bumps her knee on a rock, and her physician father is tasked to tend to the wound with mercurochrome.


No! Not the stingy stuff! No-no-no-no-no-”

You want to stop that or your ass will sting.”

“She’s tired, Lou,” Rachel said quietly.

“Yeah, I know the feeling. Hold her leg out.”

. . .

“There,” [Louis said.] “And it didn’t hurt a bit.”

It does! It does hurt! It hurrrr—

His hand itched to slap her . . .


At no other time in the novel does the father have violent urges of this kind towards his daughter.


This one-time uncharacteristic character moment is a facet of the engineered-in sense of oncoming doom.




Chapter 3 ends with homespun malice.


Little Eileen has just suffered through the sting of mercurochrome. Now her baby brother has been stung by a bee, and as the adults are about to administer baking soda to the wound—


Eileen asks, “with a certain hopefulness”—


“Does baking soda sting?”


And chapter 3 ends.


At no other time in the novel does the daughter have violent urges of this kind towards her brother.




The kind reader will find innumerous cinematic examples of this technique of “brooding sense of unease”.


*     *     *




Stephen King is a master of mixing the humorous with the terrifying. He comments on the Situation as he begins chapter 36 :


It’s probably wrong to believe there can be any limit to the horror which the human mind can experience. On the contrary, it seems that some exponential effect begins to obtain as deeper and deeper darkness falls—as little as we may like to admit it, human experience tends, in a good many ways, to support the idea that when the nightmare grows black enough, horror spawns horror, that one coincidental evil begets other, often more deliberate, evils, until finally blackness seems to cover everything. And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity. That such events have their own Rube Goldberg absurdity goes almost without saying. At some point, it all starts to become rather funny. That may be the point at which sanity begins to either save itself or to buckle and break down; that point when one’s sense of humor begins to resurface.


This commentary helps to explain both the exuberance of Shakespearean-era revenge plays, and the invincible concept of the Triple Tone.




Before two examples of “funny-horror” from Pet Sematary, first an example from Misery (3.11–14) :


While Annie Wilkes gorily destroys a hapless Colorado State trooper with a lawnmower, King cannot help but keep referring to the lawnmower by its cute trade name, the “Lawnboy”.




Blood squirted from the Lawnboy’s grass-exhaust in an amazing jet.




By chapter 27 of Pet Sematary, the family cat is now a terrifying monsterlike creature. Thus the following contrast is highly dramatic in context :


Once Louis got into the garage, he was blind. . . . He felt his way along slowly . . . anticipating . . . a toy that he would stumble over, frightening himself with its crash, perhaps falling over himself. Ellie’s little Schwinn with its red training wheels. Gage’s Crawly-Gator.

                              Where was the cat? Had he left him in?


From a baby’s charmingly-named Crawly-Gator to the terrifying monster threatening from beyond the grave.




In Pet Sematary, the mix of horror and absurdity is at maximum pitch in King’s phrase : “Oz the Gweat and Tewwible”.



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