Fringe review: Thyestes ~ theatre notes

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fringe review: Thyestes

Their flesh is heaving
Inside me.

Thyestes, Seneca, translated by Caryl Churchill.

An idea - the antagonism of the two concepts Dionysian and Apollonian - is translated into metaphysics; history itself is depicted as the development of this idea; in tragedy this antithesis has become unity; from this standpoint things which heretofore had never been face to face are suddenly confronted, and understand and are illuminated by each other.... "Rationality" at any price as a dangerous force that undermines life.... Christianity is neither Apollonian nor Dionysian; it negates all aesthetic values; it is nihilistic in the most profound sense, while in the Dionysian symbol the ultimate limit of affirmation is attained...

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Ecce Homo on The Birth of Tragedy

Since 2007, The Hayloft Project has established itself as one of Australia’s leading independent companies with a string of elegant, razor-intelligent productions. In particular, they've attracted attention for their reworking of modern classics, such as Wedekind's Spring Awakening, Chekhov’s Platonov and, controversially, a fascinating version of Three Sisters, 3XSisters. For Thyestes, Malthouse's Tower Theatre residency for 2010, director Simon Stone reaches much further into the past, to the plays of Nero's tutor and adviser, philosopher and sometime dramatist, Seneca the Younger.

He's linked forces again with Black Lung stalwarts Mark Leonard Winter and Thomas Henning. Others include Chris Ryan (seen most recently in Malthouse’s Elizabeth and Benedict Andrews’s Measure for Measure at Belvoir St), Hayloft dramaturge Anne-Louise Sarks, one of the brains behind Hayloft's Fringe hit Yuri Wells, and sound designer Stefan Gregory, who was responsible for the astonishing sound in the STC’s The War of the Roses. The result is Hayloft’s best work yet, and one of the highlights of the year. Thyestes is rock'n'roll theatre: confronting, transgressive, uncomfortably hilarious, obscene, horrifying, and desolatingly beautiful.

Yet it's hard to know where to begin talking about this show. Thinking about it is very like contemplating one of those breeding tangles of snakes that David Attenborough's Life featured a couple of weeks ago on the ABC: it's an orgy of forms and ideas, each writhing about the others, which makes the mind slide distractingly from one thought to the next. I think that above all, you're dazzled by the sheer outrageous excess of it, its shockingly wasteful expense of energy. And yet this impression of excess is created by what is surely one of Hayloft's most austere productions.

The austerity begins with the design, which is stark black and white, reflecting the absolute moral world of classical tragedy. The Greeks didn't do shadows: this is a universe of darkness visible, where the hidden is dragged into the unforgiving light. Claude Marcos's traverse set - effectively a black, narrow, enclosed box, with a white interior exposed by Govin Ruben's harsh fluorescent lights - embodies this sense of continuous revelation. When the blinds that serve as curtains are down, as they are between every scene, it's impossible to see the audience on the other side: each new scene reveals the audience as well as the actors. This becomes increasingly disconcerting, because one of the paradoxical effects of this show is to erase distances: between then and now, them and us, the actors and ourselves.

A major reason for this sense of collapse between boundaries is Stefan Gregory's sensually enveloping sound design. Gregory shamelessly exploits the capacity of music to locate us ecstatically in the present: the soundtrack includes Schubert and Handel, Wu Tang Clan and Ice Cube, Roy Orbison and Queen. This connects with another convention - the use of surtitles - to make Thyestes seem like a kind of opera. It looks like theatre, sounds like theatre, but in its strangely abstracted narrative, and especially in its emotional excess, it works more like an operatic history.

And what of the story itself? Simon Stone and his collaborators claim their version of Thyestes is "after Seneca", but it's probably more true to label it "before Seneca". Seneca's actual play - notoriously "modern" in that very little happens aside from the climactic event - is enacted in a mere couple of scenes, right at the end of the show. The rest is an excavation of the bloody history of the House of Tantalus: the first and worst of all unhappy families.

From Tantalus himself, who stole ambrosia from Olympus and who most notably slaughtered and cooked his son Pelops to feed the gods, to Menelaus and Agamemnon, who besieged Troy for 10 years to recover the faithless Helen, this single family constitutes the DNA of what we think of as canonical western literature. The doings of Tantalus's descendents exercised, among countless others, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and, later, Seneca. And through his influence on Jacobean and Elizabethan tragedy, and especially on Shakespeare, Seneca is arguably the biggest classical influence on English drama. What Hayloft presents isn't recognisably Shakespearean. It's not particularly Senecan, come to that. And yet its effect is surprisingly close to both: which I think is a result of a complexity of texture on the one hand, and a primitive, unforgiving harshness on the other.

Its narrative genius is the surtitles, which flash up before each scene, describing the plot of the story, before the curtains rise on the stage, revealing another, altogether more mundane reality. It's a brilliant way of coping with the tale's anachronisms, which are mostly removed from the actual performances, and become instead a framing device. And this convention means that the dozen or so short plays or tableaux that make up the whole need not concern themselves at all with plot. When the curtains rise, we are suddenly pitched into 21st century Melbourne, into the unremarked spaces between larger, tragic events. What we see are overwhelmingly domestic scenes.

The story begins with the murder by Thyestes (Thomas Henning) and Atreus (Mark Leonard Winter) of their half-brother, Chrysippus (Chris Ryan), at the urging of their mother Hippodamia, who is angry that her sons have been passed over to inherit the throne. The first scene is brilliant in how it winds you into its double reality: the three actors perform with an almost documentary realism that at first almost makes you believe you're overhearing three young men passing time, late at night, at a party. Until, that is, Chrysippus turns his back, fiddling with his iPod to get a favourite song, and the two brothers stand up, suddenly full of menace, and pull out the gun, and the machinery of tragedy is activated. Oddly, not so much on stage, as in our minds.

It's clear from the beginning that this version of Thyestes is primarily about the relationship between two brothers. The show has a genuinely Freudian edge, and not just in its unafraid confrontations of sexuality. Its increasing sense of disturbance is in how it echoes those dark jealousies that only exist between siblings, and that can continue lifelong, coloured into adulthood by the uncontrolled passions of infancy. Chrysippus's murder is at first presented as the originatory crime from which emerges the others, but as this bloody family history unrolls before us, it becomes clear that even this is an echo of earlier crimes, that these brothers are trapped in a hell of repetition that is the curse of their family.

This understanding has both a symbolic and a literal value: we understand the story in wholly contemporary terms, in how incest, for instance, can be passed down from generation to generation, the parent visiting on the child his or her own suffering; and we also understand it as myth, as a representation of something larger than it is. This dislocatedness is why it is, at times, very funny indeed. Some of its most powerful moments are when these double recognitions, which weave a complementary dance through the show, suddenly unite into a single breathtaking image.

The most memorable perhaps is when the curtain rises on the suicidal Pelopia (Chris Ryan), singing a Schubert lieder: mother of a child who is the product of incestuous rape, she is the image of unhealable damage, lifted suddenly into an ecstatically operatic moment, pain and beauty united. In such moments - there are others - the performers embody Nietzsche's idea of the tragic: a Dionysian image of absolute negation becomes, through the ecstasy of performance, "the absolute limit of affirmation". It's a quality that Barrie Kosky also achieves, although in very different ways: and the secret is in the balance between restraint and excess.

Winter, Henning and Ryan are astounding, on the one hand achieving a naturalistic authenticity that locates these extreme events in the middle of the mundane present, without on the other losing a sense of heightened reality. We believe in these ancient tales of warring kings, because we also understand, through these performances, that betrayal, violence, sexual excess, greed, despair and madness are, in fact, the most ordinary of human realities. Scratch the history of any family, and you will find such behaviours lurking not far beneath the surface. I'm not the first, for example, to link Thyestes's eating of his children with incest: in Hayloft's rendering of the story, this connection is even clearer, as it becomes a mirror of Thyestes's rape of his daughter Pelopia.

There's much more to tease out, but I've probably said enough. If you can possibly get there, don't miss it. The word is out, and it is wildly good: and the critics are in unusually rhapsodic alignment. The season has been extended an extra week, so there is still a chance to see it. But I suspect you'll have to be quick.

A short version of this review was in Monday's Australian.

Pictures, R-L: top, Mark Leonard Winter and Chris Ryan; bottom, Mark Leonard Winter, Thomas Henning and Chris Ryan. Photos: Jeff Busby

Thyestes, co-written and directed by Simon Stone, after Seneca. Co-written and performed by Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan and Mark Leonard Winter. Set and costumes by Claude Marcos, lighting by Govin Ruben, sound design by Stefan Gregory. The Hayloft Project and Malthouse Theatre, Tower Theatre. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Until October 9.


David Mence said...

I saw this last night and it left a huge imprint on me.

I still don’t know what to say by way of ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. These terms seem inadequate to the intentions of the production. A lot of people afterwards were grappling with similar feelings. My companion’s first comment out of the theatre was ‘But what does it mean?’ She didn’t mean this as a criticism: we both agreed that the performance had already deconstructed itself and so was sealed off from criticism of that kind.

But I had a couple more thoughts this morning. First, was it tragic? The consensus on tragedy seems to be that it shows us something necessary (i.e. not contingent). We use terms like inexorable, unavoidable, fate etc. But how can this work in a universe devoid of such forces? The world seemed utterly secular to me. I guess in this sense the character of Atreus is key because most of the cause-and-effect in the piece is brought into play by him. But everything he does comes across as ‘random’. He seems more a sociopath than anything else. If this is the case – and you mention Freud – then perhaps it is more a play about psychology (i.e. the internalisation of tragic forces) than the revenge of the gods as such?

Second, the domesticity of the piece, the quirky, often hilarious, but ultimately banal conversations made me think of Quentin Tarantino. Showing scenes between the action is very much in the mould of Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. And the set design accentuates this, cutting in and out of scenes, showing us glimpses of things, making a montage at the end. These filmic qualities are I think what lends the piece its seeming ‘naturalism’ or authenticity. But surely this style is no more natural than any other historical style when we get down to it?

Anyhow, it’s one of the most amazing productions I’ve seen in years. The fact that it raises more questions than it answers proves its forcefulness as far as I am concerned.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi David - I know what you mean about mere "like" or "dislike". I do think the most exhilarating theatre places itself beyond such trivial judgements. (It's parallel to Giacometti's statement about success or failure being secondary considerations).

Here's Aristotle defining tragedy:

Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions. By 'language embellished,' I mean language into which rhythm, 'harmony' and song enter. By 'the several kinds in separate parts,' I mean, that some parts are rendered through the medium of verse alone, others again with the aid of song.

Now as tragic imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily follows in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a part of Tragedy. Next, Song and Diction, for these are the media of imitation. By 'Diction' I mean the mere metrical arrangement of the words: as for 'Song,' it is a term whose sense every one understands.

Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these - thought and character - are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all success or failure depends. Hence, the Plot is the imitation of the action - for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever a statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality- namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song...

Bizarrely enough - I think that tragedy has evolved quite a bit since Aristotle's day - I think Thyestes basically fulfils Aristotle's definition.

David Mence said...

No doubt tragedy has evolved.

I also think that this production proves the fact that the thesis that art is worth more than the truth is the dominant principle of our time.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi David - I don't understand what you mean here. (Art is worth more than the truth? Which truth?) Could you tease that out?

David Mence said...

What I mean by this is that aesthetics now has more value than metaphysics.

You mention Nietzsche at the start of your review. Which I think is spot on. Nietzsche gives us postmodern artist-warriors in place of the Platonic philosopher-soldiers of the Enlightenment. I’m thinking of his account of ‘How the “Real” World at last Became a Myth’ which ends with incipit Zarathustra. Your comment ‘what truth’ comes from the same perspective.

And just on tragedy: I don’t have a bone to pick with Aristotle’s definition, but I do think there is a certain element of ‘necessity’ which in this production is replaced with ‘contingency’. In this sense I think it tells us less about the inevitable consequences of human transgression (i.e. the revenge of gods) than it does the destructiveness of an humanity which has become unanchored.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi David - Certainly, Nietzsche says the only value that he recognises is aesthetics. I suppose what puzzles me is the idea that aesthetics and truths are necessarily mutually exclusive; and I also wonder how else one might think about art, than through aesthetics. Also, I don't think that my asking "what truth?" necessarily comes from a Nietzschian place. Something more humble, maybe, like that childish illumination - maybe the beginning of the end of egocentricism - that one is looking out of one's skull, and that everyone else represents the same pinpoint of consciousness, looking out of his or her own flesh. Surely you don't think that there is a single unyielding Truth, against which all other truths are measured? Or are you more religious than I thought? The Truth, certainly to me, implies having a God at the top, preferably one God, with all metaphysics dangling from it.

Which brings me to classical tragedy. I balk at what you seem to be implying here, that its "necessity" is all about a kind of parable, in which the gods hold humans to moral account for their trangressions. The classical gods, both Greek and Roman, didn't necessarily punish a person because he/she transgressed some moral code: sometimes it was just out of spite or irrational dislike. Think of all the arguments between the Gods in the Iliad and the Odyssey, or, say, Cassandra, who merely had the misfortune to attract a god's lust. And in my reading, many among the Greeks and the Romans had a pretty sophisticated relationship to their gods, for me symbolised by the ingenious water engine invented by Hero of Alexandria that, if a fire was lit on the altar, automatically opened the doors of the temple, to impress the wondering masses with the presence of the god. And it was the Roman writer Lucan who said that the universe was a machine with something wrong with it, a "modern" view if ever there was. Seneca was no credulous primitive: and for all their pleas to the gods and his skies darkening with horror at crime (similar, one might add, to some images in Macbeth), his Thyestes and Atreus strike me as existentially abandoned as anything by Beckett.

Alison Croggon said...

(Ie, I guess I'm saying that the contingency you speak of is already there in Seneca).

Born Dancin' said...

Wow - Nietzsche was the first thing I thought of walking out of this show, too (though it was Beyond Good and Evil, not Ecce Homo). For me the show was most impressive in the way value judgements simply didn't apply - it exceeded good/evil (and even good/bad as a flawed way of judging art).

Alison Croggon said...

Don't you think all really exciting art does precisely that? - ie, exceed our predetermined values?

David Mence said...

Heh heh yes I like Lucan’s picture of a machine gone wrong. But it’s not quite modern…not yet. It still lacks the Copernican turn in philosophy: i.e. the sense that man is not at the centre of the universe and so must discover a rational ‘exit’ to his own immaturity. It’s tempting to see it as nihilism, or postmodernism, but in doing so we risk losing exactly what’s so shocking about it. If we simply discover ‘ourselves’ in antiquity we don’t discover anything at all right? Which brings me back to my point above: if Seneca speaks with the same voice as Beckett then we are looking at a contingent universe and not a necessary one.

And, yes, truth and aesthetics have always been at war. The antagonism between philosophy and poetry (or rhetoric) goes back past Plato. They can coexist, but one must ultimately trump the other. In saying this I’m not being at all religious. It’s a legacy of Christianity that we can’t conceive of objectivity without recourse to religion. Classical philosophy is entirely predicated on the possibility that one can replace ‘mere opinion’ with ‘knowledge of the whole’. Athens demanded that Socrates drink hemlock (to which he obliged) because they thought his teachings were impious. In this sense, there is also an antagonism between philosophy and religion. Again, I’m thinking of Nietzsche’s comment in Twilight of the Idols that ‘Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it a fundamental idea, the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces.’

Alison Croggon said...

Did I say anywhere that Seneca spoke with the "same voice" as Beckett? Or that he was "post modern"? That's why I put "modern" in inverted commas. Still, the idea of contingency isn't copyrighted by the modern world. Seneca had ample means to contemplate the contingency of the universe and may be the ultimate realist... He might be, I sometimes think, one of the few actually useful philosophers. Claiming that ancient writers are beyond our understanding - or worse, primitive versions of us - is just as misleading, I would think, as saying they are the same as us. Of course we see us in the ancients - if not, we couldn't begin to understand them. And of course they are not us, either.

I'd say that truth and aesthetic are in tension, not at war: in the sense that Picasso means, say, when he says that "art is the lie that reveals the truth". It's entirely possible however to think of philosophy and art at deadly war. Philosophy is not the same as truth, whatever the philosophers might claim: and there are ways in which philosophy manifests a profound hatred, or perhaps it's envy, of art. In my view, in removing sensuous perception out of the equation of knowledge, philosophy did all of us, and especially art, great disservice: this removal of the reality of the body might be useful in pure abstraction, such as mathematicss - although even there, people speak of qualities like simplicity and elegance - but it's a disaster in art. As if it were at all possible to conceive of art as an "objective" phenomenon! This is where Nietzsche comes in, btw, with his radical (and, yes, dangerous) insistence on aesthetic.

Even so, why must "one ultimately trump the other" in truth and aesthetic? Aren't they more in that "intimate struggle" that Heidegger describes as being at the centre of the work of art, the struggle between the "open" and the "closed", the material and the divine, and which constitutes the whole thing? That's more where I'm coming from, anyway.

Alison Croggon said...

Btw, I should clarify that I'm not against the concept of objective knowledge per se, and especially not in the evidence-based question of the sciences. Just that I don't at all see how it applies to the aesthetic experience. So far as objectivity goes: one can objectively judge skill, craft, etc (does this table fall down?). But, as Celan said, craft, like hygeiene, is the least one should expect of art.

David Mence said...

Touche, m'dear!

Chris Boyd said...

Nietzsche? You thought of Nietzsche? I thought of Scott Tenorman, fed his own parents at a chilli cook-off by Eric Cartman in revenge for Scott selling pubes to Cartman... among other reasons! In the 2010 season of South Park [Spoiler Alert, skip to the end of the par now!] it is revealed that Scott’s dad is also Cartman’s biological father... so Eric fed his own father to his half brother... now that’s Seneca and Ammonia!

I think I agree with David Mence. More or less. This Thyestes is -- wittingly or unwittingly -- about pathology rather than archetypes. Setting Thyestes in the present -- secularising the myth -- is the Tragedy, as brilliant as the production is. There’s no basis whatsoever for the feuding. So... your bastard half brother has inherited everything? Challenge the fucking will!

And, frankly, without gods and soothsayers, the whole idea that raping your daughter so that your son/grandson will kill the brother who wronged you so cruelly -- in about 20 years time -- is Beyond Mental rather than beyond good and evil. It also draws into sharp focus the boy’s incomprehensible decision that his uncle/great-uncle’s crime (the slaughter of the boys and their subsequent reincarnation as spaghetti and meatballs) is an order of magnitude worse than the rape of his mother by his (and her) father. An old testament god would snuff out the lot of them.

I think there is insufficient unity of purpose in this production. Brilliant as the stage craft and acting is, the detail, this is unmistakably the work of a committee. And that makes this (IMRHO) the weakest Hayloft production to date... aside from Soldier’s Tale... which wasn’t really a full-blown Hayloft show in any case.

That said, it’s still the best thing on right now!

Born Dancin' said...

I liked the "insufficient unity of purpose" and loved the lack of gods too - the ambiguity of motivation made the piece far more challenging. Questions as to why anyone was doing anything are left so unresolved here that it makes for brain-aching theatre.

My only reservations were toward the re-ordering of the events: if the piece is about the spaces in between and around the drama, why shuffle things so that it builds to a fevered climax? Why not keep the climax in the middle and then keep on going... and going... and going... That would seem more true to the apparent banality of the earlier scenes. Not a huge gripe, though.

Chris Boyd said...

Interesting point about the ordering of the scenes. I wondered if it was just another attempt to mess with our expectations. "Oh, it's almost over. I don't know how I feel about that."

And, hey, I loved the disunity of purpose of 3XSisters. But here it felt more like compromise somehow -- assuaging the competing interests or somethin'.

Alison Croggon said...

Gosh, lack of "unity of purpose" wasn't a bother for me at all. I liked that the narratives spiraled out snakily in all these different direction, only to be brought back to focus by those surtitles.

And a connection towards South Park seems entirely appropriate.

Chloe Martin said...

I saw Thyestes this afternoon. When it finished I was devastated. I still don’t know what to make of it. No one has mentioned here what I found to be one of the most interesting choices of the play – the decision to have the female roles played by a male. The victims of several of the moments of brutality in the play are women – and they are played here by men. Would it have been a different play if there had been a female playing the female roles? I think people would be up in arms. Why aren’t they with a man playing these roles?

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Chloe - I agree, the gender is a fascinating aspect. Of course it would have have been different if a woman had played the various roles: it meant that Ialways was conscious that I was watching an actor play a role, just as I was when I saw Pamela Rabe play Richard III. At the same time, I totally believed that Chris Ryan was a woman in those moments: he wasn't being camp, he wasn't caricaturing the feminine. I don't think it would have been any more confronting if a woman had actually played those roles. It's the acts of violence that are confronting.

I don't quite understand your point about people being more "up in arms" if a woman played the roles. Are you suggesting the show is misogynist? It's definitely a full-on and complex picture of misogyny, of men treating women as possessions or booty. But to represent misogyny is quite different from being misogynist.

cameron woodhead said...

For a different view, my enormously long critical response to Thyestes is up on my blog.

I'm still learning wordpress, so it'll look crap for a bit.

Alison Croggon said...

Welcome to the blogosphere, Cameron.

Alison Croggon said...

Damn Cameron - moderated comments? I understand why, but it certainly impedes the flow of conversation...

cameron woodhead said...

It's not deliberate. I just can't work out how to change it.

I think it's set so that the first comment you make has to be approved by me. Once approved, subsequent posts will be automatically approved (assuming they make it past the spam filter).

Alison Croggon said...

Wordpress is rather more sophisticated on its comment processes (and other aspects too) than blogspot, so I can't help on the technics. There are others here who use wordpress - any hints?

Cameron Woodhead said...

Read psychosis as the telos of this piece, and you miss the most worrying, beautiful and pervasive element - the singularity of hermeneutic violence. It's strange to me that most responses here leave out the legacy of 20th century philosophy's engagement with violence, and how it informs this production.

At least we all agree it's extraordinary theatre.

Alison Croggon said...

I'd suggest that, as with those snakes, it's hard to know where to start looking with this production. Not discussing 20th century philoosphy is no odder than not discussing the implications of gender and its investigation of masculinity. I'm not sure that psychosis has been seen as the "telos" of this piece, although it's impossible to deny that it's certainly part of it. Mainly people have been discussing formal qualities of the tragic.

Re: philosophy and violence: maybe tease that one out? I'm not sure what you're getting at here, although if you mean questions about the state and violence, I think you're onto something. Not forgetting that 20th century philosophy has been preoccupied with violence because the 20th century was so extremely violent. But what do you mean by "20th century philoosophy"? Heidegger? (Yes, perhaps, though hard to see his influence on this production). Camus? (surely not?) Cioran? Sartre? (maybe). Bataille? Sure! Benjamin on the foundational violence of the state? Pertinent, for sure, and opens out into a discussion of tragedy as an enactment of that foundational violence (esp Aeschylus's Oresteia). Virilio? That would be interesting... Agamben? Again, maybe...his stuff on law and the state in particular might be illuminating... None of the above?

Cameron woodhead said...

Traced one line in my review. But please, no Heidegger.

See Thomas Bernhard on Heidegger: (from an 1986 Interview with TB)

Q. You sometimes give the impression of biting the hand that feeds, for example when you describe Heidegger as a "weak-minded pre-Alpine thinker" and...

A. He didn't feed me. Why should he have fed me? But he's an impossible character, he has neither rhythm nor anything else. He lived off a few writers, he cannibalised them, to the last, what would he have been without them?

Q. I was thinking of the word "Lichtung" (clearing).

A. That word existed before Heidegger, 300 and 500 years before. He was nothing, a philistine, gross, nothing new. He's a perfect example of someone who unscrupulously eats all the fruit other people have jarred and who gorges himself, thank God, which makes him sick and he bursts. Gets stomach ache.

On second thought, maybe Heidegger does have some relevance.

Alison Croggon said...

Heidegger is problematic, to be sure, but more for his attraction to Fascism (and what that implies in his thinking) than for his second-hand thought, I would think. We all feed off culture - Bernhardt would know that as well as anyone. Odd that he accuses Heidegger of not feeding him, and at the same time of being greedy - very infantile, no? Like a child complaining of his brother taking all the intellectual food. Yes, maybe it all leads back to Thyestes...

It's impossible not to feel ambivalent towards Heidegger even if you find him interesting. Which I do. Worth reading Agamben's The Open: Man and Animal for another and interesting teasing out of Heidegger's thought, especially in relation to Rilke. (Predictably, perhaps, I think Rilke more interesting - which is maybe what Bernhardt is getting at there). But now this has nothing to do with Thyestes at all.

Chris Boyd said...

Funny really. I'd written a rant about Aristotle and Aristarchus (the ancient Greeks vs Ionian philosophers) but didn't hit the post button cos it was so far off track!

epistemysics said...

If Mr. Woodhead wishes to change how Wordpress handles comments, I would suggest that he go to the "Blog Stats" page, on which, at the bottom left, is a box called "Settings". In the "Settings" box is a link to "Discussion". If he clicks on "Discussion" it will take him to a page which has the options regarding comments. (More specifically, the ones concerning the moderation are under the subheading "Before a comment appears".)

As for Thyestes - no comment!

Cameron Woodhead said...

Thanks Adam. Comments now open to all and sundry. The all makes me anxious, but I've always been partial to sundry.