Waking up ~ theatre notes

Friday, January 04, 2008

Waking up

By golly, it's next year. Ms TN has been hiding in her burrow like the shy marsupial she really is, and it was even nicer than she expected. But, alas, all good things come to an end, and even now I hear the world calling faintly in the distance. For instance, the nice people over at the Toronto blog Theatre is Territory asked me all about me (my true area of expertise) and today published the results. I sound suspiciously like a wanker, but you'll all be used to that. The problem with saying things and then seeing them written down is that I find myself disagreeing with myself almost at once. Oh, it's noisy in this head, I can tell you.

In the Rest of the World - the quite considerable part that surprisingly isn't me - people have been yakking about theatre all through Christmas and New Year. I guess in some parts of the globe it isn't 37 degrees (98F for you undecimalised northerners) and some people's brains aren't looking like Dali's clocks. I'm planning to take it relatively easy through January and February, though we all know what happens to plans; but for starters I thought I'd kick the blog awake with a quote from one of my favourite madmen, Friedrich Nietzsche, from his wonderful book The Gay Science.

If we had not welcomed the arts and invented this kind of cult of the untrue, then the realization of general untruth and mendaciousness that now comes to us through science—the realization that delusion and error are conditions of human knowledge and sensation—would be utterly unbearable. Honesty would lead to nausea and suicide. But now there is a counterforce against our honesty that helps us to avoid such consequences: art as the good will to appearance. ....As an artistic phenomenon existence is still bearable for us, and art furnishes us with eyes and hands and above all the good conscience to be able to turn ourselves into such a phenomenon. ....we must discover the hero no less than the fool in our passion for knowledge, we must occasionally find pleasure in our folly, or we cannot continue to find pleasure in our wisdom!

Precisely because we are at bottom grave and serious human beings—really more weights than human beings—nothing does us as much good as a fool's cap: we need it in relation to ourselves—we need all exuberant, floating, dancing, mocking, childish, and blissful art lest we lose the freedom above things that our ideal demands of us. It would mean a relapse for us, with our irritable honesty, to get involved entirely in morality and, for the sake of the over-severe demands we make on ourselves in these matters, to become virtuous monsters and scarecrows. We should be able also to stand above morality—and not only to stand with the anxious stiffness of a man who is afraid of slipping and falling at any moment, but also to float above it and play! How then could we possibly dispense with art, and with the fool?— And as long as you are in any way ashamed before yourselves, you do not yet belong with us!

Foolish, exuberant, passionate, floating, dancing, mocking, childish, blissful and shameless... Sounds like aspirations, no? Onward into 2008!


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Alison! You were missed. And thanks for giving me something to aim for.

Ian Mackenzie said...

Thanks for doing the interview Alison. You've given us a lot to think about.


Alison Croggon said...

Thanks, George! My pleasure indeed, Ian - thanks for asking me!