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opening words

 

Antonio. The black jades of swart night trot foggy rings                             

     ’Bout heaven’s brow.                                              [ clock strikes twelve ]

                                                        ’Tis now stark dead night.

 

Antonio’s Revenge, 3.1

 

What sounds here like elevated Shakespearean-era language is, in the context of the play, only a memory of such a thing, the way Alfred Schnittke quotes, amid orchestral chaos, a retro theme from the eighteenth century as nostalgia for a vanished order, a lost stability, an idea of a past, amid present disintegration.

 

Disintegration, indeed—the character Antonio is insane.

 

In Nice Wanton we noted the following word—“jades” : inferior horses; also, whores. A reader would be hard-pressed to find any Grecian god’s horses described negatively anywhere in an ancient text. The surface solemnity of Antonio’s words is undercut by the engineered-in nihilist perversity—

 

—similar to, say, the climax of Blow Out (1981) : while at face value society celebrates July 4, behind the scenes a bloody sacrifice plays out before Old Glory.

 

Antonio’s expression recalls the formulaic

 

μος δ ριγένεια φάνη οδοδάκτυλος ώς

 

from Odyssey, 2.1 :

 

Oh Early-Born, o rosy-fingered Dawn, when you came

bearing light

 

“swart night”—The phrase has already appeared at (1.1.19), in the mouth of another character. The repetition is more literary fun and games for storyteller John Marston; and “swart night” emerges from Antonio’s mouth two more times in this same scene (75 and 190), the repetition manifesting Antonio’s mental degeneration.

 

The atmospheric imagery Antonio paints may describe an ambient fog rising around the outskirts of town; also a circular glow around the moon; and, considering the use of the word “brow”, Scroob envisions concentric circles of insanity, Yeats’ widening gyre. Reason has gone dark in the pit of night.

 

“stark dead”—(1) midnight; (2) Antonio’s reason, eclipsed; (3) here inside Saint Mark’s church, Antonio is surrounded by tombs and ghosts; (4) in a few moments Antonio is about to make a victim stark dead.

 

The heaven of reason has degenerated to the insanity of blood.

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Posted (edited)

Storyteller Marston jokes about himself to end Antonio’s Revenge

 

Good reader, get a load of the following meta-theatrical bonanza that closes out Antonio’s Revenge. Imagine, say, an American International Pictures production shot with the beauteous exactitude of present-day Robert Richardson, and you get a sense of Antonio’s Revenge—a technical exhibition applied to a one-dimensional Situation. In the following, please note storyteller Marston’s self-deprecating humour (e.g., “lesser plot”) in the mock-majestic presentation, as if to say, “I know what I’m doing. I meant it to be a Roger Corman production.”

 

Antonio. Sound doleful tunes, a solemn hymn advance,

     To close the last act of my vengeance;   

     And when the subject of your passion’s spent,

     Sing ‘Mellida is dead’. All hearts will relent

     In sad condolement at that heavy sound;

     Never more woe in lesser plot was found!

     And, O, if ever time create a muse

     That to th’ immortal fame of virgin faith

     Dares once engage his pen to write her death,

     Presenting it in some black tragedy,

     May it prove gracious, may his style be deck’d

     With freshest blooms of purest elegance;

     May it have gentle presence, and the scenes suck’d up

     By calm attention of choice audience;   

     And when the closing Epilogue appears,

     Instead of claps, may it obtain but tears.

           

                              [ song ]

 

                              [ the end of Anonio’s Revenge ]

 

Ah, the perverse subversive hilarity of the storyteller appealing for tender tears—after all the cynical bloody lunacy we’ve just experienced? appealing for tender tears—One last chucklesome application of convention, a morbid joke. This time, Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Terms of Endearment.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Posted (edited)

Gammer Gurton’s Needle

 

by Anonymous

 

appears at the origins of English theatrical comedy—

 

includes the first documented use of the word “gaffer”; and a wealth of precedents of present-day storytelling.

 

The play concerns the uproar over a lost needle.

 

*

 

Gammer Gurton’s frisky cat Gib dunks her head into the milk pail. In the ensuing uproar the sewing needle is lost from out of Gammer Gurton’s hand.

              

Gammer. Good Lord, shall never be my luck my needle again to spy?

     Alas, the while! ’tis past my help; where ’tis still it must lie.

 

Gammer Gurton fixates.

 

     Alas! the more I think on it, my sorrow it waxeth double.

     My goodly weaving needle I have lost I wot not where.

 

(2.4. 1–2, 9–10)

 

By Act 5, this gentle mother inhabits a different frame of mind—

 

Gammer. Marry, a vengeance to her heart! That whore has stolen my needle!

 

(5.2.123)

 

*

 

An early example of the butterfly effect in World Literature?

 

The loss of a sewing needle blows up into violence and all manner of kooky diversions, until a Benign Law restores Reason.

 

*

 

The play’s second-half includes a subplot concerning a chickenwhether or not it is actually alive.

 

and . . . ?!

 

               Gammer. My cock is, I thank Christ, safe and well a-fine.

 

(5.2.146)

             

*

 

What are the stakes of a lost needle? Hodge, Gammer Gurton’s son who farms the property, requires a patch stitched onto the seat of his torn breeches; and time is ticking, the suspense is ratcheting up because the lass he’s sweet on (“Simpson’s maid”) is set to appear in the morning; and he cannot very well stand before her looking like a “fool” (2.1.38, 62). 

 

*

 

The moral centre of the play is the character of Gammer Gurton, an older woman of authority. Her calmness while endeavouring to find the needle contributes to the charming vibe. But before Act 2 is over the mendacious Diccon has whipped Gammer Gurton into such a frenzy that, as Diccon observes, she’s ready to answer her neighbour

 

                    With staves or with clubs or else with cobblestones!

 

(2.5.4)                 

 

*

 

Gammer Gurton’s Needle is a property perfect for, say, Preston Sturges, before Howard Hughes destroyed his career.

 

*

 

Bitchfox

 

Gammer Gurton’s Needle features as much foul-mouthed swearing as Goodfellas—

 

e.g.

 

Gog’s bones! / Gog’s soul / Gog’s heart / Gog’s bread / Gog’s wounds / Gog’s sacrament / Gog’s death / Gog’s cross / Gog’s sides / Gog’s malt / by the mass / ah, whore / sh**ten knave [ sh*t***g knave—twice ] / needy b**ch! / bawdy b**ch / goose turd / callet, ramp, rig [ synonyms for whore ] / slut / cut [ vagina ] / by gis / by gigs / bitchfox [ vixen ] / that crafty cullion [ testicle; vile fellow ] / by Gog’s blessed / that dirty sh**ten lout / whoreson priest [ i.e., sanctimonious person ]  

 

as well as a topless mount of scatological humour

 

e.g.

 

Hodge. See! so I am arrayed with dabbling in the dirt!

     She that set me to ditching, I would she had the squirt!

 

(1.2.1–2)

 

squirt = diarrhoea, or as Stephen King lovingly put it more than once, the Hershey squirts.

 

e.g.

 

on Hodge :

 

Dame Chat. And if thou hadst seen him, Diccon, it would have made thee bes**t thee

     For laughter.

 

(4.3.18)

 

e.g.

 

               Hodge. There’s one scab on my a** as broad as thy finger’s end!

 

(5.2.105); “finger” refers to the Latin mentula.

 

The author of Gammer Gurton’s Needle was obviously an author of discernment and accomplishment; yet obsessed with obscenity.

 

*

 

and here we have the the origin of the phrase, “kiss my a**”

 

               Gammer. Thou wert as good kiss my tail!

 

(3.3.24)

 

also

 

Diccon. Quoth she, “I would thou hadst kissed me I wot where!” (She meant, I know, behind.)

 

(2.5.31)

 

*

 

Other examples of literary fun and games :

 

Cock. By my troth, Gammer, me-thought your needle here I saw,

     But when my fingers touched it, I felt it was a straw.

Tib. See, Hodge, what’s this? May it not be within it?

Hodge. Break it, fool, with thy hand, and see and thou canst find it.

Tib. Nay, break it you, Hodge, according to your word.

Hodge. Gog’s sides! fie! it stinks! it is a cat’s turd!

 

(1.5.48–53)

 

Hodge. Thou liar, parasite, didst not say the needle would be gotten?

Diccon. No, Hodge; by the same token you were that time beshi*ten

     For fear of hobgoblins—you know well what I mean.

     As long as it is since, I fear me yet ye be scarce clean.

 

(5.2.250–1)

 

beshi*ten—OED : both verb and adjective.

 

cf.

 

               Mischief. Hence! away from me! or I shall bes**t you all!

 

Mankind (ca. 1470), l. 737

 

&

 

               Diccon. But, Hodge, take good heed now, thou do not bes**t me!

 

[ and gives him a good blow on the buttock ]

 

Hodge. Gog’s heart! thou false villain, dost thou bite me?

Master Bailey. What, Hodge, doth he hurt thee ere ever he begin?

Hodge. He thrust me into the buttock with a bodkin or a pin!

 

(5.2.290–2)

 

*

 

Strange Brew

 

Gammer Gurton’s Needle. The scatological humour of National Lampoon meets the heartwarming, life-affirming radiance of Hallmark Christmas specials.

 

*

 

Enter the Sinister

 

The medieval morality plays are recalled in the character of Diccon, a wanderer, a roving man of mischief. He (seemingly) has the power to summon the devil; and capitalises on the needle chaos to engineer dissension between neighbours, simply because.

 

e.g.

 

Diccon summons the devil before a terrified Hodge :

 

Diccon. This needle again to win,

     There’s nothing for it

     But conjure up a sprite.

Hodge. What, the great devil, Diccon, I say?

Diccon. Yea, in good faith, that is the way,

     Fetched with some pretty charm.

 

Hodge is terrified at the thought—

 

               Hodge. Canst not tarry a little thought

     Till I make a courtesy of water?

 

i.e., Will you wait a second while I pee my pants?

 

Diccon. Stand still to it! Why shouldest thou fear him?

               Hodge. Gog’s sides, Diccon, me-think I hear him!

                    By the mass, I am able no longer to hold it!

                    Too bad—I must befoul the hall!

 

Meta-theatre. By hall Hodge means the theatre auditorium.

 

Good reader, attentive reader, remember Hodge’s hope for Hershey squirts to beset his mom? Well now here we are, with Hodge facing the Devil, and—

 

               Diccon. Stand to it, Hodge! Stir not, you whoreson!

                    What devil, be thine arse-strings bursten?

 

(2.1.107–8); What devil—i.e., So what of it?

 

But Diccon kindly delays in bringing the Devil forth, and stops Hodge from befouling the esteemed hall of esteemed Spectators (at Christ’s College, Cambridge?).

 

*

 

Act 3—Cut to violent girl-fight

 

Later, Diccon’s crafty speech beguiles Gammer Gurton into accusing her neighbour, Dame Chat, with an incorrect suspicion :

 

               Gammer. Dame Chat, you should play fair and let me have what is mine!

     I will not these twenty years take one fart that is thine;

     Therefore give me mine own, and let me live beside thee.

 

Then the two women fight as if in a 1970s classic.  

 

While they fight comes Meta-theatre :

 

                              [ Hodge enters with a staff ]

 

               Hodge. [ to audience ] Stand out one’s way, that I kill none in the dark!

 

(3.3.1–3, 36)

 

*

 

The word devil appears 34 times in Gammer Gurton’s Needle.

 

*

 

Meta-theatre

 

               Hodge. Where ha’ you been fidging abroad since you your needle lost?

Gammer Gurton. Within the house and at the door, sitting by this same post,

                    Where I was looking a long hour before these folks came here.

                    But wellaway, all was in vain, my needle is never the near!

 

(1.4.33–6)

 

before these folks came here—she means the audience.

 

*

 

Equivalence

 

Hodge. Has she not gone, truly now, and lost her nee’le?

Diccon. Her eel, Hodge?

Hodge. No, no, her nee’le, her nee’le, her nee’le, man!

     A little thing with an hole in the end, as bright as any silver,

     Small, long, sharp at the point, and straight as any pillar.

Diccon. I know not what a devil thou meanest, thou bring’st me more in doubt.

Hodge. A nee’le, a nee’le, a nee’le! My Gammer’s nee’le is gone!

Diccon. Her nee’le, Hodge? Now I smell thee!

 

(2.1.40–8)

 

               Vincent Vega. what I need is a big, fat magic marker. You got it?

Jody. What?

Vincent Vega. A magic marker. A felt pen! A ******* black magic marker!

 

*

 

Remember storyteller Marston’s engineered-in self-deprecating humour?

 

Diccon. [ aside ] Here is matter worthy studying,

     Of Gammer Gurton's needle losing,

     And a foul piece of work!

     A man I think might make a play

     And need no word to this they say,

     Being but half a clerk.

 

(2.2.7–12)

 

A character is referring to the frame as if caught in a found-footage film!? And to the author as reporter?

 

*

 

Early slapstick—the “Let’s Put Our Hand Up the Cat’s A**” scene

 

3.4. Now Gib the household cat “aileth”—and Tib the maid theorises the cat’s eaten something indigestible.

 

               Gammer Gurton. Alas, I fear it be some crooked pin!

 

So Hodge suggests that someone “hold up her tail and take her”.

 

Hodge. I’ll see what devil is in her guts! I will take the pains to rake her!

 

(3.4.16)

 

OED—rake = (Farriery) To remove excrement from (a constipated horse) by scraping with the hand

 

Thankfully, last-minute intervention from Gammer Gurton averts the probe.

 

*

 

Gaffer

 

Apparently the first documented use of the word “gaffer” appears in Gammer Gurton’s Needle.

 

               Hodge. Good morrow, Gaffer Vicar!

 

(4.2.1)

 

OED—gaffer : A term of respect.

 

*

 

Gammer Gurton’s Needle is also, at one point, a musical.

 

Scrooby means a breaking out into song in the midst of dialogue, in the manner of, say, The Wizard of Oz.

 

Imagine Hodge as The Scarecrow as he belts out a song for twenty-three lines :

 

My Gammer Gurton here, see now,

  sat her down at this door, see now;

And, as she began to stir her, see now,

  her needle fell in the floor, see now;

And while her staff she took, see now,

  at Gib her cat to fling, see now,

Her needle was lost in the floor, see now—

  Is not this a wondrous thing, see now?

 

&co. (4.2)

 

*

 

psycho

 

Gammer Gurton describes Diccon, whether sarcastically or accurately, as “Diccon the Bedlam” (3.2.9).

 

OED—(in earliest use): a person who has or is considered to have a mental illness [ i.e., discharged from the Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem, a psychiatric hospital in London used from the 16th cent. for the confinement and treatment of people with serious mental illness ] .

 

Diccon as homeless and mad.

 

*


The infinite scenario

 

A stranger wanders into town and orchestrates chaos among the people.

 

*

 

Just between us

 

4.3 begins with Diccon addressing the audience directly. He asks them to keep a secret :

 

               Diccon. Now, sirs, do you no more, but keep my counsel just . . .

 

*

 

wtf?

 

In 4.3, devious Diccan suggests to the town’s Vicar, Doctor Rat, a plan to trap who may be needle-stealers. Diccan persuades the Vicar to crawl into the hole behind a house (a kitchen smoke conduit). Once inside the dark and dank interior, Doctor Rat realises his error—

 

cf.

 

               Beaumont. I’m home, I’m high.

 

*

 

Act 5 turns the play into a detective story.

 

Enter Master Bailey, a detective character, emblem of institutional Justice. Inquiries are made. As he speculates, the meta-theatrical appears :

 

               She will tell her own tale in metre or in prose

 

(5.2.35)

 

Hearing of all the craziness, the emblem of Reason reflects :

 

               Master Bailey. I durst aventure well the price of my best cap,

     That when the end is known, all will turn to a jape.

 

i.e., all’s but a silly misunderstanding.

 

               Master Bailey. I believe the end will prove this brawl did first arise

     Upon no other ground but only Diccon’s lies.

 

(5.2.142–3; 154–5; 164–5)

 

How very reasonable. And at the wrap up, the emblem of Reason explains it all as in most every detective tale (5.2.196–201).

 

*

 

But before the end, Diccon, insanity itself, returns with a chilling genialness, a smiling problem child :

 

Diccon. God bless you, and you may be bless’d, so many all at once!

 

(5.2.210)

 

Chilling—because the audience, too, is addressed by this proto-proto-Chigurh. We face the demon, and it smiles on us beatifically. Will we, too, be dazzled—as have Gammer Gurton and the others throughout the play? Or have we learned now to be more careful, careful even with the outwardly pious?

 

He admits that watching the chaos would have excited him (he can’t speak for the audience).

 

Diccon. I am sorry for nothing else but that I see not the sport

     Which was between them when they met, as they themselves report.

 

(5.2.222)

 

*

 

Face the Demon

 

               Master Bailey. Confess the truth as I shall ask and cease a while to fable;

     And for thy fault I promise thee thy handling shall be reasonable.

 

(5.2.218–9)

 

*

 

Equivalence

 

Master Bailey. Hast thou not made a lie or two, to set these two by the ears?

Diccon. What if I have? Five hundred such have I seen within these seven years.

 

(5.2.220–1)

 

     Pete waved his hand. “Couple of days.” He could as well have said, “A couple of weeks ago.” I had noticed that winter people [here] kept constant intervals for time. Something could have happened two weeks ago, or two nights ago, but if it was your habit to say,  “Five days ago,” then that was how you would remember it. So I pushed him no further.

 

Mailer, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, ch6

 

*

 

Henry James Positive-Negative Statement

 

               Dame Chat. Fie on the villain, fie, fie, that makes us thus agree!

 

(5.2.205)

*

 

Diccon’s punishment?

 

To be gracious to those around him, considerate and kind; charitable as an angel.

 

(5.2.268–85)

 

So what happens?

*

 

               Diccon. But, Hodge, take good heed now, thou do not bes*it me!

 

[ And gives him a good blow on the buttock ]

 

Hodge. Gog’s heart! thou false villain, dost thou bite me?

Master Bailey. What, Hodge, doth he hurt thee ere ever he begin?

Hodge. He thrust me into the buttock with a bodkin or a pin!

 

[ he discovers the needle ]

 

     I say, Gammer! Gammer!

              

Awww. Surprise! Sudden tone-shift in audience reception—revaluation of Diccan’s character.

 

               Gammer Gurton. What, not my needle, Hodge?

               Hodge. Your needle, Gammer! your needle!

Gammer Gurton. For all the loves on earth, Hodge, let me see it!

Hodge. Go near the light, Gammer. This—well, in faith, good luck!—

     I was almost undone, ’'twas so far in my buttock!

Gammer Gurton. ’Tis mine own dear needle, Hodge, clearly I wot [ see ] !

Hodge. Am I not a good son, G|ammer, am I not?

Gammer Gurton. Christ’s blessing light on thee! Hast made me for ever!

 

Ah . . . The good feeling spreads!

 

               Dame Chat. By my troth, Gossip Gurton, I am even as glad

     As though I mine own self as good a turn had!

Master Bailey. And I, by my conscience, to see it so come forth,

     Rejoice so much at it, as three needles be worth!

Doctor Rat. I am no whit sorry to see you so rejoice.

 

(5.2.291–4, 298–9; 312–6)

 

*

 

Gramercy (Thanks!)—the twist in the tail

 

Gammer Gurton. Gramercy, Diccon, twenty times! O how glad I am!

     If that I could do so much—your masterdom to come hither,

     Master Rat, Goodwife Chat, and Diccon together—

     I have but one halfpenny, as far as I know it,

     And I will not rest this night, till I bestow it.

     If ever ye love me, let us go in and drink.

 

*

 

               A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine

 

*

 

And to the audience, as a last word, an appeal for applause—

 

Diccon. Since at our last ending thus merry we be,

     For Gammer Gurton's needle sake, let us have a plaudite.

e4d6eabda591c140271119282526f590.jpg

 

Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Presented to the adoring world by Scrooby

 

A production envelope of 2001: Space Odyssey, sent by Stanley Kubrick, dated 5 June 1967. This early typeface was ultimately rejected.

 

9780163b4baa9c5fea2c1e1503364556.png

 

6c3d676381fc5eec2d1d9e88dc3d4689.jpg

 

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In a UK library.

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Posted (edited)

Aubrey’s Romance

 

The women have several Magical Secrets handed down to them by Tradition, for this purpose, as, on St. Agnes Night, 21 Day of January, Take a row of Pins, and pull out every one, one after another, saying a Pater Noster, or Our Father, sticking a Pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall Marry. Ben Jonson in one of his Masques, makes some mention of this.

 

               And on sweet Saint Agnes Night

               Please you with the promis’d sight,

               Some of Husbands, some of Lovers.

 

Aubrey, J., Miscellanies (London, 1696), 104.

 

*

 

Humanness in the hand

 

Scrooby just lowered a book to his lap—The Eve of Saint Agnes by John Keats, printed by A. C. Curtis at the Astrolat Press, 1903. Printed (letterpress) on handmade paper with untrimmed edges, this book is light; it seems to float in the hand. The physicality of the book accords with the delicacy of the poem. (The handmade paper, yes, feels frosty; vibrant, not featureless under the fingertips.) The handmade book is heavy with humanness. Generations are held in the hand, and exist that close.

 

Holding the book is a holding of the hand of the past.

 

*    

 

What’s poetry?

 

In The Eve of Saint Agnes consonants and vowels appear, at face value, in the same way as they appear in this sentence.

 

But in the poem the continuum of letters is not exclusively a linear phenomenon.

 

If, say, the (p) sound reappears in this particular sentence of Scrooby’s, this happens because that’s the way it happens in language—sounds repeat themselves willy-nilly. So what, right?

 

But in The Eve of Saint Agnes Keats uses consonants and vowels as leitmotifs. If a consonantal sound reappears in a stanza, it’s often on purpose. In poetry—as far back as Virgil—the letters of a poem are fractal.

 

—Fast Eddie advising the English language : Be yourself, but on purpose.

 

That’s poetry.

 

*   

 

Poetry = Cinema

 

In The Eve of Saint Agnes, the overall outlay of consonants and vowels is equivalent to the lensing of a film.

 

The specific distribution of consonants and vowels (in, say, a stanza) is equivalent to a scene’s lighting.

 

*   

 

How to Read Poetry : an introduction by Scrooby

 

Examples of letter distribution in Stanza 1.

 

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, (b)itter chill it was!

       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

       The hare limp’d trem(b)ling through the frozen grass,

       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:

       Num(b) were the (B)eadsman’s fingers, while he told

       His rosary, and while his frosted (b)reath,

       Like pious incense from a censer old,

       Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,

Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

 

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!

       The (o)wl, f(o)r all his feathers, was a-c(o)ld;

       The hare limp’d trembling thr(o)ugh the fr(o)zen grass,

       And silent was the fl(o)ck in w(o)(o)lly f(o)ld:

       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he t(o)ld

       His r(o)sary, and while his fr(o)sted breath,

       Like pi(o)us incense fr(o)m a censer (o)ld,

       Seem’d taking flight f(o)r heaven, with(o)ut a death,

Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

 

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!

       The owl, (f)or all his (f)eathers, was a-cold;

       The hare limp’d trembling through the (f)rozen grass,

       And silent was the (f)lock in woolly (f)old:

       Numb were the Beadsman’s (f)ingers, while he told

       His rosary, and while his (f)rosted breath,

       Like pious incense (f)rom a censer old,

       Seem’d taking (f)light (f)or heaven, without a death,

Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

 

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chi(l)(l)it was!

       The ow(l), for a(l)(l) his feathers, was a-co(l)d;

       The hare (l)imp’d tremb(l)ing through the frozen grass,

       And si(l)ent was the f(l)ock in woo(l)(l)y fo(l)d:

       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, whi(l)e he to(l)d

       His rosary, and whi(l)e his frosted breath,

       (L)ike pious incense from a censer o(l)d,

       Seem’d taking f(l)ight for heaven, without a death,

Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, whi(l)e his prayer he saith.

 

St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bi(t)(t)er chill i(t) was!

       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

       The hare limp’d (t)rembling through the frozen grass,

       And silen(t) was the flock in woolly fold:

       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he (t)old

       His rosary, and while his fros(t)ed breath,

       Like pious incense from a censer old,

       Seem’d (t)aking fligh(t) for heaven, without a death,

Pas(t) the swee(t) Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

 

 St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, (b)i(t)(t)er chi(l)(l)it was!

       The (o)w(l), for a(l)(l) his (f)eathers, was a-c(o)(l)d;

       The hare (l)imp’d (t)rem(b)(l)ing thr(o)ugh the (f)r(o)zen grass,

       And si(l)en(t) was the (f)(l)(o)ck in w(o)(o)(l)(l)y (f)(o)(l)d:

       Num(b)were the (B)eadsman’s (f)ingers, whi(l)e he (t)(o)(l)d

       His r(o)sary, and whi(l)e his (f)r(o)s(t)ed (b)reath,

       Like pi(o)us incense from a censer (o)(l)d,

       Seem’d (t)aking (f)(l)igh(t) for heaven, without a death,

Pas(t) the swee(t) Virgin’s picture, whi(l)e his prayer he saith.

 

Please note how line 4 is a sonic summation and climax to 1–3; the compression effect of the many primary sounds evokes the density of the shut-in animals. Note also how the word flight is enhanced through its aggregation of primary (t), (l), and (f) sounds set up in 1–2.

 

*    

 

St. Agnes’ E(v)e—Ah, bitter chill it was!

       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;

       The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,

       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:

       Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told

       His rosary, and while his frosted breath,

       Like pious incense from a censer old,

       Seem’d taking flight for hea(v)en, without a death,

Past the sweet (V)irgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

 

*     *     *

 

PASSIO SANCTARUM VIRGINUM •

FIDEI • SPEI • ET KARITATIS

 

quas earundem veneranda genitrice Sapientia • preasente •

et maternis admonitionibus ad tolerandas passione hor-

tante • Diocletianus imperator diversis suppliciis interfe-

cit • quarum etiam corpora martirio consummata sancta

mater Sapientia collegit • et aromatibus condita • quinto

ab urbe Roma miliario • honorifice sepelivit • Ipsa quo-

que quadragesima die • iuxta earum sepulchra • finita

oratione sacra spiritum premisit caelo.

 

THE SUFFERING OF THE HOLY VIRGIN •

FAITH • HOPE • AND CHARITY

 

Their one venerable mother • in her presence •

as she implored them to bear their suffering

               • Emperor Hadrian killed them all with diverse tortures •

               Then, their bodies consummated in holy martyrdom,

               Sapientia their mother gathered them • and preserved them with spices

               • and gave them solemn burial outside Rome, at the third milestone •

               She herself, after the fortieth day • of their burial • by their graves •

               her holy prayers completed, sent her soul to Heaven.  

 

Sapientia, a play by Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, ca. 900s

 

*     *     *

 

Mr Clarke Conwell, The Elston Press, Pelham Road, New Rochelle, New York / Sir Galahad, A Christmas Mystery / December, MDCCCCII.

 

From the prospectus : 180 copies; with large initial letters by H. M. O’Kane (Helen Marguerite O’Kane, Clarke’s wife); the full size of each page is ten by thirteen and one-half inches.

 

The price is ten dollars, or two guineas.

 

This is colour and texture and precision you have to see to believe. A photograph of its artistry may as well be previsualization.

 

*

 

Handling the book is equivalent to handling a lover; and Art Never Dies.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Audio advance

 

Example :

 

               6.

 

...

And couch supine their beauties, lily (w)hite;

Nor look behind, nor side(w)ays, but require

            Of Heaven with up(w)ard eyes for all that they desire.

 

7.

 

Full of this (w)him was thoughtful Madeline . . .

 

*

 

Genius Move.

 

Stanza 10 includes a duel between (w) and [m]

 

He ventures in: let no buzz’d (w)hisper tell:

All eyes be [m]uffled, or a hundred s(w)ords

(W)ill stor[m] his heart, Love’s fev’rous citadel:

For hi[m], those cha[m]bers held barbarian hordes,

Hyena foe[m]en, and hot-blooded lords,

(W)hose very dogs (w)ould execrations ho(w)l

Against his lineage: not one breast affords

Hi[m] any [m]ercy, in that [m]ansion foul,

            Save one old belda[m]e, (w)eak in body and in soul.

 

Which wins out? The (w)eak (i.e. bad news) or the fir[m] (i.e. good news)?

 

11.

                            

Ah, happy chance! the aged creature ca[m]e . . .

 

And now Keats resolves the tension by fusing the two sounds within one association—

 

Ah, happy chance! the aged creature ca[m]e,

Shuffling along with ivory-headed (w)and . . .

 

 

*     *     *

 

meanwhile

 

  SAPIENTIA • Abiscum morientis filie caput amplec-

tendo • impressique labris crebrius deosculando • con-

gratulator tibi Christe • qui tantillule victoriam prestitisti

puellule •

 

  SAPIENTIA • I embrace the severed head of my child •

as she dies I kiss her lips again and again

• I thank you, Christ • for giving victory

to such a small and kindly girl •

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Posted (edited)

In the same spirit of the opening of Kane, Sapientia as well as other medieval plays (e.g., Nice Wanton) as well as early Shakespearean-era plays (e.g., Gammer Gurton’s Needle), and, also, Shakespeare himself (e.g., Romeo and Juliet), reveal the end of the story at the start, as if the plot is not the consequential part. The Spectator encounters Sapientia, and experiences herself and her children standing triumphantly in answer to evil, and this is the point, and that’s why the entire second half of the play may be slotted under torture porn. (This is the play for Gaspar Noe.) The Spectator experiences, as the overall and fundament of the narrative, ways of being.

 

After experiencing the horror and defiance at the centre of Sapientia, the Spectator departs, their own personal code either reinforced and sharpened by the Artwork, or realigned and put in a new, more virtuous direction.

 

The world audience is ahead of Hollywood at the moment.

 

The world audience wants to see characters reacting to hard realities in a real-world setting.

 

Why is that strategy so hard to follow in Hollywood?

 

An abrupt intensification of Inhumanness in our time.

 

               Hemingway. How did I go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.

 

In the 1980s there were films that teenagers crawling cable discovered but never watched, such as Agnes of God (1985) and Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981). Their vibe of adult seriousness has vanished from Hollywood.

 

The Oppenheimer (2023) phenomenon is a Grecian monument in the wasteland.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Adding the “d” into the Latin rerum (thing; situation; history; state (i.e. republic)) = REDRUM.

 

D = Danny.

 

and so . . . ?

 

 

 

 

 

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Sapientia, by Hrotsvitha / screenplay by Scrooby / 1 – 4 June 2024

 

1.

 

[  Antiochus. Hadrian.  ]

 

Antiochus.

Emperor Hadrian, allow me a word.

Your servant wishes you all good prosperity and success;

to rule our state with happiness, without disturbance, and to thrive.

So when I see anything capable of confusing our state,

and of causing injury to your tranquillity of mind,

I very quickly with all my heart aspire to undo the threat.

 

Hadrian.

You’re not wrong. Our wealth profits you, too;

and we never tire of increasing your honours.

 

Antiochus.

I glory in your strength, and protect it.

So if I see hostility against your rule,

I will not hide what I know;

I must bring you the tale at once.

 

Hadrian.

Good. Otherwise you’d be guilty of treason

against your majesty.

 

Antiochus.

I am loyal to a fault, sir.

 

Hadrian.

I know it. Come, if you know of strange things around us,

speak them.

 

Antiochus.

A strange woman has just entered our city

with three young children.

 

Hadrian.

What is the sex of these children?

 

Antiochus.

All are girls.

 

Hadrian.

Surely it’s not possible such insignificance threatens us?

 

Antiochus.

They do. Very much so.

 

Hadrian.

How?

 

Antiochus.

They will destroy the peace.

 

Hadrian.

How will they do that?

 

Antiochus.

What has greater power to separate our people,

than personal differences, of a spiritual nature?

 

Hadrian.

You’re not wrong. Cities all around us attest to what you say.

Our Empire is filthy with the corpses of routed Christianae.

 

Antiochus.

This woman I speak of urges the people

to give up our culture, and yield to Christianae.

 

Hadrian.

Is she heard?

 

Antiochus.

Very much so. She makes wives scorn their men;

to think little of us; to slight us. Now they reject

all men as unworthy, and disdain even to eat with us.

And they’ve stopped sleeping with us.

 

Hadrian.

That is not good.

 

Antiochus.

You must protect yourself.

 

Hadrian.

That follows. Bring this advocate before me.

I will question her, and consider the matter.

 

Antiochus.

You wish me to bring her here?

 

Hadrian.

I have said it.

 

2.

 

[  Antiochus. Sapientia.  ]

 

Antiochus.

Stranger, what is your name?

 

Sapientia.

Sapientia.

 

Antiochus.

The Emperor Hadrian commands you to present yourself for survey at the palace.

 

Sapientia.

I do not fear you. I shall bring my gentle daughters with me; and stand face to face with your terrible Emperor without trembling.

 

Antiochus.

All you rotten people are quick to resist.

 

Sapientia.

I submit to the ruler Universitatis,

the Word, who does not allow an enemy to win.

 

Antiochus.

Be quiet now. We go to the palace.

 

Sapientia.

Show the right way and we will gladly follow.

 

3.

 

[  Antiochus. Sapientia. Hadrian.  ]

 

Antiochus.

This you see is the Emperor himself on his throne. Think before you speak.

 

Sapientia.

The Word defends us; and shall give us invincible wisdom.

 

Hadrian.

Is Antiochus here?

 

Antiochus.

Present, my Lord.

 

Hadrian.

Is she the woman I summoned?

 

Antiochus.

That is so, my Lord.

 

Hadrian.

I am astonished at what I see.

The beauty of them all is most excellent.

I very much admire this noble appearance.

 

Antiochus.

My Lord, I have no regard for their looks;

I want to see them kneel to our gods.

 

Hadrian.

It will be pleasant to attempt a dialogue first.

If I speak agreeably, perhaps they will concede.

 

Antiochus.

That is easiest. Women are weak to flattery.

 

Hadrian.

Distinguished lady, I have summoned you here to ask for your friendship.

I judge by your fineness of appearance that we may enjoy a friendly alliance.

 

Sapientia.

I am content without your friendship;

nor passionate in entering into any alliance with you.

 

Hadrian.

Stop that madness. But no, I feel no anger.

You, and your children, provoke a fatherly affection in me.

 

Sapientia.

Girls, do not be seduced by the hissing of serpents!

Hate it in your way as I despise it in mine.

 

Faith.

We hate him! In our souls we loathe him

as a vile and worthless animal.

 

Hadrian.

What are you murmuring?

 

Sapientia.

We are comforting each other.

 

Hadrian.

I see by your bearing you are born of noble blood.

It would please me to hear of your family, and homeland.

 

Sapientia.

It would be a discourtesy to contradict you.

It is true, our family is glorious.

 

Hadrian.

I believe you.

 

Sapientia.

My ancestry is distinguished throughout the lands.

I come from Greece. The name my parents gave me

was Wisdom.

 

Hadrian.

The cultivation of your parents shines in your face,

and your voice sings through your lips.

 

Sapientia.

Your flattery is to no purpose.

We will not bend to your persuasion.

 

Hadrian.

Why have you come here?

What do you want of us?

 

Sapientia.

I seek Truth. And to wed my children to Truth.

 

Hadrian.

Draw them near, please, one by one, so I may see them.

 

Sapientia.

She I have named Faith.

She is Hope.

She is Charity.

 

Hadrian.

What are their ages?

 

Sapientia.

Emperor, if you ask me the ages of my children,

Charity is eight, Hope is ten, and Faith is twelve.

 

Hadrian.

All of you will yield.

 

Sapientia.

To what?

 

Hadrian.

To me. To our culture, and to our gods.

 

Sapientia.

We will not do that.

 

Hadrian.

If you continue with this we shall weaken your resistance with torture.

 

Sapientia.

You can attack our body with punishment,

but you will never win our soul.

 

Antiochus.

My Lord, the day goes, and night presses on us;

we cannot continue this quarrel now.

You must prepare for dinner.

 

Hadrian.

Keep these women near the palace, under guard.

Drag them back here and let them show themselves,

in three days.

 

Antiochus.

Guard these prisoners closely, men.

Give them no opportunity to escape.

 

                                                                                          4.

 

[  Sapientia. Faith. Hope. Charity.  ]

 

Sapientia.

O my sweet ones! O my sweet little girls!

Don’t be scared.

Don’t fear pain.

 

Faith.

Our bodies shake, but our brains jump for joy

at the prize we will win.

 

Sapientia.

You will destroy all weakness inside you,

if you adopt the courage of adults.

 

Hope.

Will you help us, mother?

 

Sapientia.

I pray for you always.

Now I ask you to be strong in the faith I gave you

with all your toys and rattles.

 

Charity.

What you taught us when we were little

we have not forgotten.

 

Sapientia.

Good.

I gave you my milk for your delicate bodies,

so that you might marry no man of earth,

but earn the hand of the eternal king.

 

Faith.

To marry our husband we are ready to die.

 

Sapientia.

How sweet you three make me feel! Sweet as honey.

 

Hope.

When we stand before the Emperor

you will see the courage of our love.

 

Sapientia.

This is what I want!

—to wear with you the victorious crown of your virginity.

Your martyrdom shall thank me.

 

Hope.

Let us walk hand in hand

up to the face of the tyrant,

to shame him.

 

Sapientia.

In time. Now we wait for the summons to come.

 

Faith.

I await it eagerly.

 

5.

 

                                             [  Hadrian. Antiochus. Sapientia. Hope. Faith. Charity.  ]

                             

Hadrian.

Antiochus, bring the Greek women before us.

 

Antiochus.

Sapientia, come inside, and bring your children;

come stand before the Emperor.

 

Sapientia.

Walk with me, girls, with your heads held high,

so you may be seen hand in hand, and happy.

 

Hope.

We come. Through love and death we come to Him.

 

Hadrian.

The three days I gave you are over.

If you found the time useful,

submit.

 

Sapientia.

We are all the stronger because of it.

 

Antiochus.

Why speak further with this stubborn woman?

She tires us with her arrogance.

 

Hadrian.

Shall I dismiss them without punishment?

 

Antiochus.

Certainly not.

 

Hadrian.

What then?

 

Antiochus.

Observe the girls.

If they resist you, kill them.

That will teach the mother

a lesson sharper than torture,

that she can take away with her.

 

Hadrian.

I will do that.

 

Antiochus.

In this way in the end we shall win.

 

Hadrian.

Faith, look there at the ancient statue of the great Diana.

If you pour a gift of wine for her, you will enjoy her kindness.

 

Faith.

What a stupid thing to say.

Does he think I don’t hate him?

 

Hadrian.

Why this murmuring and laughing?

What’s funny?

 

Faith.

You. You’re an idiot. I’m laughing at you.

 

Hadrian.

Me?

 

Faith.

You.

 

Antiochus.

The Emperor?

 

Faith.

Him.

 

Antiochus.

Wicked creature!

 

Faith.

It’s not stupid to worship a rock?

 

Antiochus.

She’s mad.

 

Faith.

And Antiochus is an idiot.

 

Antiochus.

The child is insane. To call the foremost man on earth

and heaven a fool!

 

Faith.

I said it, and I’ll say it again, and I’ll say it as long as I live.

 

Antiochus.

Which won’t be long.

 

Faith.

The best gift you can give me is death.

 

Hadrian.

Twelve centurions. Take your whips and lash her till you’ve torn off her arms and legs. Take it in turns.

 

Antiochus.

It’s no great concern.

 

Hadrian.

Centurions, come forward! Avenge these insults.

 

Antiochus.

Justly so.

 

Hadrian.

Antiochus, ask the girl whether she will yield to me now.

 

Antiochus.

Faith, will you continue to mock our majesty,

and insult us with abuse?

 

Faith.

Why stop now?

 

Antiochus.

To prevent the whips.

 

Faith.

Giving me a beating won’t keep me quiet,

because I will feel no pain.

 

Antiochus.

Poor, poor idiot.

 

Hadrian.

The whips have split her body open,

yet she smiles.

 

Faith.

Man, if you think this beating is weakening me,

you’re wrong. But look! My torturers are soaked in sweat,

they’re exhausted. It is your men who are weak!

 

Hadrian.

Antiochus, have them take her breasts and cut the nipples off.

The shame of her modesty will disgrace her.

 

Antiochus.

Do it.

 

Hadrian.

Maybe this will work.

 

Faith.

You have wounded my virgin breast,

but I am not hurt. Instead of blood

a stream of milk pours out. Do you see it?

 

Hadrian.

Get a roasting grill. Spread hot coals under it.

The heat will kill her.

 

Antiochus

The girl disobeyed you without fear—

for that she deserves a far more miserable death.

 

Faith.

All the pains you hope for me metamorphose into the peace of a dream.

The heat of this grill is as comfy to me as a ship on a calm sea.

 

Hadrian.

Prepare a cauldron of melted tar and boiling wax

and throw her in, as into her grave,

and make an end of her.

 

Faith.

I will jump into it happily.

 

Hadrian.

That follows.

 

Faith.

What of all your threats now, Emperor? Look! I swim in this boiling thing as in a toy, and the heat consoles me like the morning dew.

 

Hadrian.

Antiochus, what do we do?

 

Antiochus.

She’s a pain with no fixing.

 

Hadrian.

Cut her head off.

 

Antiochus.

There’s no other way.

 

Faith.

Right here, right now, I delight in life!

 

Sapienta.

O Word, you have soundly beaten a devil,

you are invincible!

Give strength now to my daughter Faith!

 

Faith.

Goodbye, mother. Kiss me. Don’t be sad.

I’m earning the gift of eternity.

 

Sapientia.

Child, I’m not sad.

My heart is not broken.

See?—I kiss you with a happy face.

You see my tears,

but these are happy tears.

I pray that when your killer comes,

you will stand strong in your Virginity.

 

Faith.

Kiss me, sisters. Remember to keep your courage, and follow me.

 

Hope.

Pray that we deserve to follow you.

 

Faith.

Then obey what our holy mother has taught us;

because we despise this world

we deserve endless happiness.

 

Charity.

We obey mother.

 

Faith.

Come to me, Executioner. Follow your orders. Kill me.

 

Sapientia.

I embrace the severed head of my child;

as she dies I kiss her lips again and again.

Thank you, Word, for giving victory

to such a small and kindly girl.

 

Hadrian.

Hope, look at me.

Listen to me as you would a father.

 

Hope.

What are you saying?

 

Hadrian.

You don’t deserve to share your sister’s pain.

 

Hope.

I want to share her pain.

 

Hadrian.

This is what I want you to do :

burn incense to Great Diana.

If you do that,

I will adopt you as one of my own,

and I will honour you as I honour all my children,

and love you.

 

Hope.

I don’t want you as my father.

If you think I’m doing that you’re an idiot.

 

Hadrian.

Choose your words more carefully—

 

Hope.

Or you’ll get angry? So what?

 

Antiochus.

All the gods of Rome!

My Lord, I admire your patience

to let this worthless creature

insult you as it does.

But I’m furious watching her being listened to.

 

Hadrian.

Up to now I was lenient on the girl,

but she has earned my vengeance,

and I will have her punished all the way

into the underworld, where she can

speak her peace to all the souls of the dead.

 

Antiochus.

Very well.

 

Hadrian.

Bodyguards. Beat this rebel to death. Any way you want to.

 

Antiochus.

It is just, my Lord. She mocked your kindness;

so now she deservedly gets your anger.

 

Hope.

This is the kindness I hope for!

 

Antiochus.

Sapientia, what are you whispering there by your dead child?

 

Sapientia.

I pray to the Word to give strength to Hope.

 

Hope.

Mother! Your prayers are heard! Look!

My torturers are all out of breath from hitting me,

but I feel no pain!

 

Hadrian.

If that didn’t hurt you we’ll find something that does.

 

Hope.

Bring it. Bring it all, whatever cruelty you can think up.

But hear this. The crueler you are to me now,

all the greater will your humiliation be

when you’ve lost.

 

Hadrian.

Raise her high in the air and peel off her skin.

Then cut her bowels out

and strip the body

and break every bare bone.

 

Antiochus.

The Emperor’s revenge is just.

 

Hope.

Antiochus, you’re a prattling fool.

 

Antiochus.

Shut your mouth. You’re coming to an end.

 

Hope.

But not as you wish.

Your master will be humiliated.

 

Hadrian.

What is this sweetness in the air?

What is that astonishing scent I smell?

 

Hope.

It is the fragrance of my body

as they tear at me. Admit it—

you have no power to hurt me.

 

Hadrian.

Antiochus, what now?

 

Antiochus.

We invent a new torture.

 

Hadrian.

Put a cauldron full of oil, fat, wax, and tar, over a fire.

Tie her up, drop her in, and cover it over.

 

Antiochus.

Yes. Let her look through fire for a way out.

 

Hope.

The Word changes the nature of fire into the gentleness of wind.

 

Hadrian.

Antiochus, did you hear that?

 

Antiochus.

Ah! My Lord!

 

Hadrian.

What just happened?

 

Antiochus.

The cauldron exploded! All the men around it are dead, killed by the fire.

But that girl, she’s a sorceress;—She stands unharmed in the middle of it all.

 

Hadrian.

My reason fails.

 

Antiochus.

Yes.

 

Hadrian.

Cut her head off.

 

Antiochus.

There is no other way to kill her.

 

Hope.

Charity! My one sister now.

Don’t fear his threats.

Pain is not scary; go to it.

Be like your sisters, who go before you,

and will wait for you in Heaven.

 

Charity.

I despise this life of living on earth.

I won’t be away from you for long.

 

Hope.

Don’t be afraid.

Reach out for the gift,

and we’ll be together again.

 

Charity.

Let it be! Let it be!

 

Hope.

Well done.

Mother, celebrate!

If you love me,

you will not grieve.

When you see my pain,

remember the happiness

of watching me die for love.

 

Sapientia.

I am happy.

But I will celebrate only after I have finished my work,

and your little sister has met you in Heaven.

When everything is done,

I will follow.

 

Hope.

A Trinity awaits you.

 

Sapientia.

Be strong now, darling. He comes to kill you.

 

Hope.

I welcome the sword.

Holy Word, take my soul,

when I free it from the prison of my body,

because I name you as Omnipotentem.

 

Sapientia.

Charity, my littlest one, my little darling,

now last of my children,

you won’t disappoint me?

I expect you to win this fight.

I want you to hate the thought of life now.

Reach out for the same prize

that gives your sisters a golden shine

from the crowns on their heads.

 

Charity.

Help me, mother. Pray that I deserve to share their happiness.

 

Sapientia.

Follow yourself to the end,

and you will come to your prize.

You will enjoy an endless holiday.

 

Hadrian.

Charity, your sisters have wearied my patience.

They made things worse for themselves with their convictions.

I will no longer listen to long speeches,

nor waste any more time in reasonings and explanations.

Listen. I promise to give you all sorts of good things.

But if you fight me, it will be bad.

 

Charity.

Good. I love all good things,

and hate all bad ones.

 

Hadrian.

That answer pleases me. I will go easy with you.

Things will go very gently indeed if you do one thing for me,

one little thing, which will win you my love and friendship.

 

Charity.

What?

 

Hadrian.

Say the words “Great Diana”. That’s all I ask.

 

Charity.

No.

 

Hadrian.

Why won’t you say it?

 

Charity.

Because I will not tell a lie.

Don’t you know I’m the same as my sisters?

We shared the same father and mother,

who taught us the same.

You should expect that I think as they think,

and want what they want,

and believe what they believe.

At no time will I be different from them.

 

Hadrian.

Oh my goodness. The little girl perplexes me.

 

Charity.

I may be little but my mind is bigger than yours.

 

Hadrian.

Get her out of my sight, Antiochus, quickly.

Hang her up on the sharpest rack and whip her.

 

Antiochus.

I don’t think the whip is going to work.

 

Hadrian.

So the whip doesn’t work!

Set an oven on fire,

command it done immediately.

Let it burn for three days;

then toss this priestess into it

and let her go up in flames!

 

Charity.

What a man, who needs fire to beat an eight-year-old girl!

 

Hadrian.

Go, Antiochus; ensure my commands are followed to the word.

 

Charity.

He goes to satisfy your cruelty,

but you will not hurt me.

Your whips will not cut me.

Your fire will not burn my hair, or my clothes.

 

Hadrian.

We’ll see.

 

Charity.

We’ll see.

 

6.

 

                                             [  Hadrian. Antiochus.   ]

      

Hadrian.

What is it?

Why do you come to me looking so troubled?

 

Antiochus.

Ask me my troubles and you’ll have them too.

 

Hadrian.

Speak!

 

Antiochus.

That wild child you gave me to torture,

she was whipped, and her soft skin

was ripped to pieces before my eyes,

but the girl refused to fall.

So I had her tossed into the furnace.

But then I ordered the flames to be strengthened . . .

 

Hadrian.

And?

 

Antiochus.

The fire escaped the furnace, and set the walls aflame, incinerating a legion of soldiers.

 

Hadrian.

Five thousand men? And the girl?

 

Antiochus.

Charity?

 

Hadrian.

(silent)

 

Antiochus.

Emperor, I saw her dancing in the flames and smoke, and she was singing praises to her god.

 

Hadrian.

(silent)

 

Antiochus.

Shall we kill her with the sword?

 

Hadrian.

Do it.

 

7.

 

                                             [  Antiochus. Charity. Sapientia.  ]

 

Antiochus.

Uncover your neck. Take the executioner’s sword.

 

Charity.

Gladly.

 

Sapientia.

Good child! Now we can be thankful. Finally,

little one, you are going away; and there shall be no more cares.

I am certain of your victory.

 

Charity.

Kiss me, mother. Pray for my soul to rise.

 

Sapientia.

May the Word who breathed into me your beautiful soul,

now recover that soul in all its beauty.

 

Charity.

The sky, it calls to me, see its glorious golden crown!

 

Sapientia.

Goodbye, child.

 

8.

 

[  Sapientia. Ladies.  ]

 

Sapientia.

Come, ladies, help me bury my children.

 

Ladies.

To honour them before burial,

we shall rub their bodies with oils, herbs and spices.

 

Sapientia.

You are kind.

 

Ladies.

We want to help. We, too, are devoted.

 

Sapientia.

Yes.

 

Ladies.

Have you chosen their place of burial?

 

Sapientia.

Three miles from the city. Is that too far for you?

 

Ladies.

No. We shall follow the bodies to the grave.

 

9.

 

[  Sapientia. Ladies.  ]

 

Sapientia.

Here.

 

Ladies.

A fine spot to bury their bodies,

and protect their sacred remains.

 

Sapientia.

Earth, I give you back the bodies of my children.

Cover them over in flowers until the last day,

when they shall rise again. For now, let them rest in peace.

 

Ladies.

Amen.

 

Sapientia.

(silent)

 

Ladies.

Do you want us to stay with you?

 

Sapientia.

No.

 

Ladies.

Why not?

 

Sapientia.

Thank you for your kindness,

and for everything you’ve done,

but you must think of yourselves now.

You’ve sat with me for three days and three nights.

You have tired yourselves out, and will get sick.

Go in peace. Return to your homes

safely, and be happy.

 

Ladies.

You come with us?

 

Sapientia.

No.

 

Ladies.

What will you do?

 

Sapientia.

Stay here,

and hope good luck will give me what I want most.

 

Ladies.

And what is that?

 

Sapientia.

When my prayer is done, this one last thing—to die.

 

Ladies.

Shall we stay with you to the end, and give your body burial?

 

Sapientia.

If it pleases you.

 

 [  end  ]

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“The Whites.”

c2a2b5df055df410349b6cd89ad000a4.jpg

The Last Command (1928). A tale framed by a mirror, with a mirror at the heart of the running time joining the two lovers.

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8c65ff60a405b47c57068e36968ac13a.jpg

“We had faces.”

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13d1ec9b4e11dc74eaf11d9f0768d397.jpg

Dear digital photography

77130ecd1c4e9622584efcc4847009ca.jpg

No CGI required

06940a35b10197e65c68cfcb7cc68496.jpg

9a1e00e154d40ef92b1d0f05654f2604.jpg

18c7c2d45e7d9925ba586142a0e9c467.jpg

Artist at war

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ed806a557f8034a59ac08a90c0254468.jpg

And the artist aims his weapon . . .

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32664492cc22142075e297ce3be04e55.jpg

3dc6297cf4c4ce6f12225b7443d9714d.jpg

 

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Scrooby does it one more time

 

The hard clarity of digital photography queers the pitch of storytelling, whose mysticism commerces with the Unconscious.

 

Digital cinematography is equivalent to sex between robots : soulless mechanical movement.

 

A steady diet of one-dimensional storytelling fortifies Inhumanness.

 

*

 

Q : If we the audiences know that what we’re watching on the cinema screen is metaphor, why, then, do audiences demand realistic CGI?

 

or

 

If narrative artificiality breaks audience identification and shatters suspension of disbelief, what, then, do we make of the success of ancient theatre, and Shakespearean-era plays?

 

A steady diet of realism fortifies Inhumanness.

 

*

 

willing suspension of disbelief.

 

*

 

John Marston’s short poem Pigmalion is a species of pornography; it is a literary aphrodisiac.

 

The story derives, sometimes as close translation, from Ovid. (Scrooby’s translation from μεταμορφώσεις is available at 25 May 2023 on this thread.)

 

The Marston poem, as with Ovid, is pornography (so to speak) that doesn’t require the Explicit for effect.

 

Marston goes analogue.

 

36.

What would he do when that her softest skin

Saluted his with a delightful kiss?

When all things fit for love’s sweet pleasuring

Invited him to reap a Lover’s bliss?

What he would do, the self-same action

Was not neglected by Pigmalion.

 

37.

For when he found that life had took his seat

Within the breast of his kind beauteous love,

When that he found that warmth, and wished heat

Which might a Saint and coldest spirit move,

Then arms, eyes, hands, tongue, lips, & wanton thigh,

Were willing agents in Love’s luxury.

 

38.

Who knows not what ensues? O pardon me

Ye gaping ears that swallow up my lines,

Expect no more. Peace, idle Poesy,

Be not obscene, though wanton, in thy rhymes.

 

*

 

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF PIGMALION'S IMAGE, another gem of letterpress printing from a private press (The Golden Cockerel Press, 325 copies, 1926). Craftsmanship in your hand reminds you of the Human.

 

Analogue is Eroticism.

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Wondrous consonants

 

A line of poetry, among everything else it may be, is an intentionally-engineered journey of what Scroob calls here “primary consonants”.

 

Faithful reader, devotee of the fine and patient and determined art of slowly coming to understand—Faithful reader, having the rare and practical knowledge that understanding is not “flash of genius” but ongoing effort—please consider the following commentary on poetry—

 

In The Malcontent by John Marston, the character Mendoza is extolling the charms of women :

 

How full of ravishing attraction is your pretty, petulant, languishing, lasciviously-composed countenance! These amorous smiles, those soul-warming sparkling glances, ardent as those flames that singed the world by heedless Phaeton! In body how delicate, in soul how witty, in discourse how pregnant, in life how wary, in favours how judicious, in day how sociable, and in night how—O pleasure unutterable!

 

(1.5.41–5)

 

*

 

In line 1, note the ongoing interplay :

 

How full of (r)avishing att(r)action is you(r) (p)(r)etty, (p)etulant, languishing, lasciviously-(c)om(p)osed (c)ountenance!

 

The propulsive (r) is supplanted by the (p), which is then superseded by the (c).

 

How fu(l)(l) of ravishing attraction is your pretty, petu(l)ant, (l)anguishing, (l)ascivious(l)y-composed countenance!

 

Note how the (l) acts as a foundation of the line, along with the (t) :

 

How full of ravishing a(t)(t)rac(t)ion is your pre(t)(t)y, pe(t)ulan(t), languishing, lasciviously-composed coun(t)enance!

 

We might describe (r) and (p) as events within the framework of the (l) and the (t).

 

How full of ravishing attraction i(s) your pretty, petulant, languishing, la(s)civiou(s)ly-compo(s)ed countenan(ce)!

 

There is then the “stretching-out” or reaching-out resolution of the (s) sound.

 

*

 

These amorous smiles, those soul-warming sparkling glances, ardent as those flames that singed the world by heedless Phaeton!

 

In line 2, the (s) and the (m) sounds are foundations—

 

The(s)e amorou(s) (s)mile(s), tho(s)e (s)oul-warming (s)parkling glance(s), ardent as tho(s)e flame(s) that (s)inged the world by heedle(s)(s) Phaeton!

 

These a(m)orous s(m)iles, those soul-war(m)ing sparkling glances, ardent as those fla(m)es that singed the world by heedless Phaeton!

 

Note how both are missing in the final word, the name Phaeton, a mythical child of the sun who escaped gravity—(for a time at least). Scrooby is venturing the point that the absence of (s) and (m) in the word “Phaeton” adds a sort of escape velocity, an airiness, to these final two syllables of the line.

 

Also,

 

We recently explored an (m)/(w) interplay in one stanza of The Eve of St. Agnes of Keats. In the following line of Marston’s, note a similar interplay of (m) and (w); and how the escape velocity and airiness are aided by the lack of (m) in favour of a final (w) :

 

These a(m)orous s(m)iles, those soul-(w)ar(m)ing sparkling glances, ardent as those fla(m)es that singed the (w)orld by heedless Phaeton!

 

Let’s quickly move on—

 

*

 

Line 3 is a dramatic example of what Scroob noted some time ago in the final lines of the Oppenheimer script : A line of dialogue ordering its primary consonants, which are taken from opposite ends of the alphabet, in a specifically engineered manner, in order to generate effects.

 

Behold, friends, the whimsy of the following technical exhibition!

 

In (b)ody how (d)elicate, in (s)oul how (w)itty, in (d)iscourse how (p)regnant, in (l)ife how (w)ary, in (f)avours how (j)udicious, in (d)ay how (s)ociable, and in (n)ight how. . . . O (p)leasure (u)nutterable!

 

In every comparison, the second word begins with a later consonant; and Marston plays out his string with show-off aplomb leading to a mic-drop triple move from (n) to (p) to (u)—

 

Genius Movement.

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Why Scrooby?

 

Storytellers become finer Artists during the process of studying Art.

 

Study Art righteously and you internalise the teachings

 

like muscle memory

 

subsequently your own artistic output is enrichened

 

e.g.

 

the consonants flow in proper order just like that

 

in the twinkling of an eye.

 

What first?

 

Break the cycle of involuntary linearity.

 

The effort of Art is the joy of Freedom.

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Posted (edited)

Climax

 

Awareness of primary consonants while reading first-rate poetry pays ongoing dividends in a variety of ways.

 

*

 

1.8 of Marston’s The Malcontent is an agitated moment, and the syntax of villainous Mendoza’s lines abruptly changes, as storyteller Marston engineers agitation into the linguistic structure.

 

Two examples in one extract :


Heart! I hate all women for’t: (sw)eet (sh)eets, (w)ax (l)ights, (a)ntic (b)edposts, (c)ambric (s)mocks, (v)illainous (c)urtains, (a)rras (p)ictures, (o)iled (h)inges, and all the tongue-tied lascivious witnesses of (g)reat (c)reatures’ (w)antonness,—what salvation can you expect?

 

The vertigo that Mendoza’s words are generating in his heated interlocutor—Mendoza is mendaciously persuading the Duke that the Duchess is cheating with a man other than Mendoza—is first and foremost encoded as vertiginous structure in the poetry.

 

 *

 

1.

 

(sw)eet (sh)eets, (w)ax (l)ights,

                                     the lettering goes backward

(a)ntic (b)edposts,

 then forward

(c)ambric (s)mocks,

 then forward

(v)illainous (c)urtains,

                                    then backward

(a)rras (p)ictures,

 then forward

(o)iled (h)inges

                                    then backward

 

Note the sheer distance between most of the initial letters of the phrases.

 

*

 

Note also how the intimate wham-bam moment of

 

(a)ntic (b)edposts

 

is evoked via intimately contiguous letters of the alphabet!

 

*

 

2.

 

At the climax—

 

and all the tongue-tied lascivious witnesses of (g)reat (c)reatures’ (w)antonness,

 

the three initial consonants of the apex of the expression are a rollercoaster ride that brings the ear first backward then forward—a great leap forward—through the alphabet.

 

*

 

Storyteller Marston uses complex linguistic engineering to generate, and amplify, the vibes of thematic Situations.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Scrooby’s Reynard the Fox

 

in Spenserian stanzas.

 

        Prologue

 

1

 

The following history is good counsel;

    many points are given to the reader,

    by which points one may soak up the subtle

    knowledge daily employed by your master,

    but also by merchant and commoner.

    This poem shall profit all good people

    insofar as thereafter readers shall more

    understand subtle deceits and evil,

not to promote, but as protection from drivel.

 

                              2

 

Those who want understanding of this matter

     have herein entered a literary arcanum.

     In this poem mark well what you encounter,

     for its art is subtle, as you shall come

     to know, when you read this many a time,

     for a once-over cannot comprise this well,

     but enjoying this often shall give them

     a comprehensive knowledge of the whole;

and for those who come, it shall be well profitable.

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Canto 1

How the Lion, King of all the Beasts, sent out his commandments that all Beasts should come to his feast and court.

 

1

 

In the time when the forests are lusty

     with leaves and flourishing trees, and the ground

     smells sweet with herbs, and is colourfully

     flowery, and all fowls and birds sound

     melodious in their harmony, the crowned    

     King of all the Beasts, the noble lion,

     would hold an open court at state, and send

     a commandment that all Beasts should attend,

so that he might come to know the news of the land.

 

2

 

So, then, all Beasts great and small came to court,

     except Reynard the Fox. Because he knew

     himself guilty of many a fault and disport

     against too many Beasts, he dared not show

     himself. When the Lion, amid the strew

     of leaves, had gathered the peers of the realm,

     there were none of them all in the shadow

     of the wood but deplored all the mayhem

perpetrated by Reynard the Fox—indeed, him.

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Canto 2

The first complaint made by Isengrim the Wolf on Reynard.

 

1

 

The Wolf, by name Isengrim, came forward

     on clawed paws, with his lineage and friends;

     and, standing before the King, said, “My lord

     the Lion, high and mighty power, my griefs

     compel me to chronicle the misdeeds

     done by Reynard the Fox on me and my wife.

     He slips into my house, against the wishes

     of my bride (she swears this truth on her life!),

slinking past my sleeping children like a spectre.

 

2

 

Like a ghost, I say, he comes upon my wife;

     and so a day was set, that the Fox should

     swear on the Book of holy saints to excuse

     himself of any guilt. Yet when the day arrived,

     and the Book was brought to him, then Reynard

     thought otherwise, and he made himself scarce,

     and did not swear his innocence aloud,

     but went his way again into his hole.

All this, dear King, is well known by everyone here.

 

3

 

And Reynard the Fox (that villainous creature!)

     has caused me grief in many another way

     as well—too many ways to tell. He does not live

     who could speak all that I now refuse to say.

     But all that abominable villainy

     he’s brought to my wife, that I shall never

     ignore, nor forget, nor allow to stay

     unavenged. I for one shall not hide from her

shame—unless he makes me amends in some manner.”

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Canto 3

The complaint of Courtoys the Hound.

 

1

 

After these words were said, a little Hound

     named Courtoys came forward, and he complained

     to the King, how in the hard frost and cold

     of winter all his store had been reduced

     to no more meat than a pudding for food;

     which pudding, complainéd Courtoys the hound,

     was stolen away from him by Reynard.

     Then did Tibert the Cat in angry mood

leap fiercely into the council of Beasts, and said :

 

2

 

“O Master my King, I hear these complaints

     of Reynard the Fox and his many misdeeds;

     and here he has enough to do (God knows!)

     to clear himself. But of this pudding, says

     Courtoys—well, that happened many years since,

     and the pudding he complains of was mine,

     for I had won it one night as my prize

     in a mill, while the miller slept in deep snore.

If the dog had a paw in the pudding, it came by me.”

 

3

 

Then Panther spoke. “Tibert, so it’s your belief

     that Reynard the Fox shouldn’t be complained on?

     He’s a murderer, a rover, and a thief!

     He ignores our great King, and loves no one

     enough that he wouldn’t welcome their scorn

     to win so much as a leg of a fat hen.

     Let me tell you what I saw him do when

     I was stalking yesterday in the glen.

Ask Cuwart the Hare, who honours our King’s domain!

 

4

 

Tricky Reynard promised he’d help the Hare

     with his verses, to make him a good chaplain.

     So he had him sit between his legs there,

     and sang “Credo! Credo!” with devotion.

     As I was close nearby I heard the din,

     so I looked on, and saw Reynard playing

     his old play. He had the Hare in his paws run

     round his neck, and I saw him squeezing

the life out of Cuwart, who was fast a-squirming.

 

 5

 

And if I hadn’t come he would have stolen

     his life from him, as you can see on the Hare

     the fresh wound yet. Dear King, if this villain

     goes unpunished, who has broken the peace,

     he shall do no right after this sentence

     and judgement of our fellowship; and tongues

     will wag that your successors are to blame

     for the land’s trouble.” Then the Wolf said, “Yes!

The Right should be followed, so we can live in peace.”

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Canto 4

How Grimbart the Badger, the Fox’s sister’s son, spoke for Reynard, and answered before the King.

 

1

 

Then Grimbart the Badger, Reynard’s nephew,

     spoke out in angry mood. “Sir Isengrim,

     that is evilly said! Who here does not know

     the maxim, an enemy’s mouth seldom

     speaks well. Why must you spread these lies, and blame

     my Uncle Reynard? If I hear you truly,

     you would have the one who’s brought the most harm

     to the other hang by the neck from a tree,

as a thief. But if my uncle were here as you are,

 

2

 

and as cosy with the King as you are,

     then you’d be asking him for forgiveness,

     for you have nipped and bitten my noble

     uncle too many times with your sharp fangs

     than I can tell; yet I can tell some points

     that I know very well. Have you forgotten,

     Wolf, how you cheated my uncle on the plaice

     he flung from the cart, when you did happen

after from behind, and ate the good plaice alone,

 

3

 

and left him nothing but the bones to eat,

     all that you didn’t want for yourself? And what

     of that fat slice of bacon which you thought

     so tasty that you ate up the whole lot

     yourself; and when my uncle asked his part,

     you answered him with scorn, ‘Reynard, youngster,

     gladly I’ll give you your part.’ But he got

     nothing. Now who here would say that was fair?

Though he’d won the bacon with great danger,

 

4

 

for the man came and tossed him in a sack

     from which my uncle the Fox barely escaped,

     his belly got nothing for that attack,

     but the Wolf ate it all; and Reynard’s suffered

     many such insults from Isengrim. My Lord,

     do you think this is good? Yet there is more!

     The Wolf complains that the Fox has trespassed

     by cause of his wife. Sure, he’s lain with her,

but that was seven years ago, if not earlier,

 

5

 

and before the Wolf married her. But if,

     maybe, she still welcomes Reynard with love,

     there should be no complaining by the Wolf,

     if he were wise, for he does himself no service

     in slandering his wife, who speaks no grievance.

     But Cuwart the Hare has a complaint, though,

     which I call a vain and empty issue.

     If a student is to learn his lessons thorough,

why shouldn’t the responsible teacher be tough?

 

6

 

Now Courtoys complains about his pudding,

     that it was stolen in the dead of winter.

     I think he should have avoided speaking,

     since it was Courtoys who stole the supper

     in the first place; so who would blame the trickster

     if he pinched it, since it was stolen goods

     anyway? (All this is reason for sure.)

     The Fox, like everyone who follow the laws

and know right from wrong, and number among the nobles,

 

7

 

well knows never to receive a stolen good.       

     In fact he meant to hang the Hound at once

     when he saw the evidence of the deed,         

     but respect for our King and his justice          

     system compelled my uncle’s great mercy;

     yet for all this he receives little thanks.          

     So what’s he done to be charged so viciously?

     My uncle is a true and gentle Fox,     

who suffers no falsehood, but follows churchly laws.

                                                                                         

8

 

I say my Uncle Reynard is a saint

     who would never think to hurt anyone.

     He eats a meal only once a day, if that.

     He lives as a hermit; and does penance

     all the time, chastising himself with pious

     hairshirt against his fur. Just yesterday

     I heard from those who’d visited the Fox

     to find he’d left his Castle Malperdy.

Now he builds a monastic cell where he shall pray.

 

9

 

There he dwells, and hunts no more, and no more

     desires winning, but he lives by alms,

     and takes nothing but what his friends may give

     as charity. He does penance for his sins

     (did I mention that?), and sorely weakens

     himself with praying, all night every night.

     He’s turned pale and lean in his prayers,

     and desires humbly to be at rest,

so that he might sit reverently at God’s feet.”

 

10

 

And as Grimbart the Badger stood before

     the King and praised the Fox and his piety,

     and praised his Heavenly conversion to peace,

     so then they saw the Rooster heading their way

     down the hill, who brought to their colloquy

     a coffin in which lay a very dead hen

     of beautiful hackles of whom saintly

     Reynard had bitten the head off right clean.

The Rooster had brought this to the King to be seen.

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