the smell of smoke

June 23, 2019

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.

Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

expression of sexuality

June 16, 2019

In Dracula, blood is of utmost importance. The novel opens with Jonathan Harker’s experience in Dracula’s castle, the first proof of the supernatural power and unnatural pull of vampires, and the first few examples of their overwhelming appetite for blood. The act of taking blood and allowing blood to be taken is eroticized in the novel, and the absolute necessity of blood for vampires in order to survive connects the creatures and their blood lust to exaggerated, violent sexual images. Built on many aspects of Gothic horror with these tropes of Dracula’s castle shifted to and set against Victorian-era London later in the novel, Dracula emphasizes the corrupting foreign influence of the Transylvanian vampire and his hunt for blood as he invades the patriarchal society at the center of the story. The lead characters are modern and chaste, as per the era’s societal expectations, directly in opposition to Dracula, an inhuman demon, a creature on a constant hunt for young blood, a predator whose influence tests Victorian conceptions of gender roles and the expression of sexuality. Dracula directly attacks women, so the men seek to protect the women and their innocent forms from the sexual outsider, Dracula, but in turn, the men are tempted greatly by the corrupted females with their inviting, vampiric tendencies. These warped women appear first in the form of Dracula’s brides, three vampiric beings exerting a tempting force on Jonathan Harker, and later Lucy Westenra becomes a threat as well in her vampire form. Mina Harker’s possible transformation into a vampire leads up to the climax in the novel, as the male characters race to prevent her change into a monstrous and hypersexualized form.

Sean Bernhard
The Blood is the Life

God?

January 27, 2019

Lady Claire: How do you know you’re God?

Jack Gurney: Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

Peter Barnes
The Ruling Class

This wood is, of course, nowhere near Athens; the script is a positive maze of false leads. The wood is really located somewhere in the English midlands, possibly near Bletchley, where the great decoding machine was sited. Correction: this wood was located in the English midlands until oak, ash and thorn were chopped down to make room for a motorway a few years ago. However, since the wood existed only as a structure of the imagination, in the first place, it will remain, in the second place, as a green, decorative margin to the eternity the poet promised for himself. The English poet; his is, essentially, an English wood. It is the English wood.

The English wood is nothing like the dark, necromantic forest in which the Northern European imagination begins and ends, where its dead and the witches live, and Baba-yaga stalks about in her house with chicken’s feet looking for children in order to eat them. No. There is a qualitative, not a quantitative, difference between this wood and that forest.

The difference does not exist just because a wood contains fewer trees than a forest and covers less ground. That is just one of the causes of the difference and does not explain the effects of the difference.

For example, an English wood, however marvellous, however metamorphic, cannot, by definition, be trackless, although it might well be formidably labyrinthine. Yet there is always a way out of a maze, and, even if you cannot find it for a while, you know that it is there. A maze is a construct of the human mind, and not unlike it; lost in the wood, this analogy will always console. But to be lost in the forest is to be lost to this world, to be abandoned by the light, to lose yourself utterly with no guarantee you will either find yourself or else be found, to be committed against your will – or, worse, of your own desire – to a perpetual absence; from humanity, an existential catastrophe, for the forest is as infinitely boundless as the human heart.

But the wood is finite, a closure; you purposely mislay your way in the wood, for the sake of the pleasure of roving, the temporary confusion of direction is in the nature of a holiday from which you will come home refreshed, with your pockets full of nuts, your hands full of wildflowers and the cast feather of a bird in your cap. That forest is haunted; this wood is enchanted.[…]

The English wood offers us a glimpse of a green, unfallen world a little closer to Paradise than we are.

Such is the English wood in which we see the familiar fairies, the blundering fiancés, the rude mechanicals. This is the true Shakespearian wood – but it is not the wood of Shakespeare’s time, which did not know itself to be Shakespearian, and therefore felt no need to keep up appearances. No. The wood we have just described is that of nineteenth-century nostalgia, which disinfected the wood, cleansing it of the grave, hideous and elemental beings with which the superstition of an earlier age had filled it. Or, rather, denaturing, castrating these beings until they came to look just as they do in those photographs of fairy folk that so enraptured Conan Doyle. It is Mendelssohn’s wood.

“Enter these enchanted woods…” who could resist such a magical invitation?

However, as it turns out, the Victorians did not leave the woods in quite the state they might have wished to find them.

Angela Carter
Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I did love you

October 27, 2018

In all these years, you never believed I loved you. And I did. I did so much. I did love you. I even loved your hate and your hardness.

Tennessee Williams
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Ophelia2

Ophelia’s virginal and vacant white is contrasted with Hamlet’s scholar’s garb, his ‘suits of solemn black.’ Her flowers suggest the discordant double images of female sexuality as both innocent blossoming and whorish contamination; she is the ‘green girl’ of pastoral, the virginal ‘Rose of May’ and the sexually explicit madwoman who, in giving away her wild flowers and herbs, is symbolically deflowering herself.

Elaine Showalter
Representing Ophelia

good and bad

September 29, 2018

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

Oscar Wilde
Lady Windermere’s Fan

inbetween

August 12, 2018

Antigone:  For I am a strange new kind of inbetween aren’t I, not at home with the dead nor with the living.

Sophocles
Antigone
Trans. Anne Carson

It is a self-evident truth that Romeo and Juliet could have handled their unfortunate situation differently…

what the Universe is for

April 22, 2018

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory mentioned, which states that this has already happened.

Douglas Adams
The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts edited by Geoffrey Perkins