Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

On Aloofness

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Recipe for a robust play: if the reader or audience member can only try to infer the personal politics of the playwright by analysing how all the characters finished the play (that is, who ends up happy, who won, etc), then the play is robust.  This is not to say that it is possible to infer political views from an analysis of the end, for it often isn’t.  (And how much better many plays are for it.)  Rather, it is indicative of a profusion of viewpoints before the end, and a function of such a profusion is the elimination of a detectable personal preference.  (To make it less abstract: who knows what Shakespeare thought?)

I want for playwrights to be aloof, to be the best and the worst and the average of us.

If humanity ever achieves a proper utopia, writing will be one of the first artforms to disappear, methinks.  What perfect society could have the capacity to understand, to enjoy, to empathise with the essential conflicts of drama, for instance?  All that would be left is poetry, and its value would only be in the sound of its words.

I wonder if Shakespeare (and by referring to Shakespeare, I, as most everyone else does, project myself onto him) cared how his plays ended.  I wonder whether he, and his profusion of viewpoints, merely engineered the finales in the way he felt would be most pleasing to his audience.  Of course, there’s the satisfaction of a plot well-turned, like in The Comedy of Errors, and one can’t imagine that he would have had it any other way.  But as for his other works…  (Note the shift towards romances as he progresses and, perhaps, cares less for popularity.)  If this is true of a playwright, then his endings reflect one of two things: the taming of nature (such as succeeding in writing a complex plot – or, that is, the triumph of humanity and its artificiality over a chaotic nature), or the views of the audience (and any variation thereof).  At no point can you say that a writer means what he writes.  That is, a writer is not his work, I suppose.

Well, that was a bit of an obvious conclusion.

(Or, a third option, which is mere carelessness on the part of the writer.)

What suddenly strikes me as rather interesting, after saying of all that, is, if a writer engineers his ending purely for his audience’s benefit, then, when times and audiences have changed, is there not a sort of permission that could be given to change the endings of the classics, and yet keep the integrity of the piece?  (They did that to Shakespeare back in the 18th/19th century, didn’t they?  But perhaps for less artistically pure reasons.)  But this does not concern me much, and so I shall leave that facet there.

One cannot wallow in a piece of art when an agenda is being promoted, and, being that I currently think the epitome of culture is in allowing me to wallow, I lean away from writers who are not aloof.

And now the phrase “a good play (or story) is a parable that isn’t constructive”, or rather, “a good play is an unconstructive parable”, has entered my mind, but I don’t know whether I agree with it or not.  It seems to have the same attitude that aloofness does, though.


Written by epistemysics

May 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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