Saturday, April 2, 2011

EVERYTHING OLD IS OLD AGAIN

We've been playing a little game on Facebook which involves 'grabbing the nearest book to you, opening to pg. 56 and typing the fifth sentence. You then put the instructions, followed by your sentence in your 'Status" box. We then read each other's status info & play a rollicking round of "Who-wrote-that?'. The other day, a friend posted a panicked msg, to wit, I grabbed the nearest book (a computer manual) and page 56 was BLANK! NOW what? there are a multitude of good and sufficient reasons why a computer manual should not be classified as a "book" for our 'fun & games" purposes but I shared her dilemma with you ONLY because it mirrors the situation I find myself in with today's post. I was thinking - after my last foray into quill work, that I rather miss keeping a Dream Journal, particularly the value of incorporating what is called the "day's residue". This would be your daily life experience - whether dealt with or not consciously - and regardless of seeming relevance/importance. I think people would find their dream stories and characters far less strange if they'd take the time to see the pun, tie-in, remote source of the 'exotic' and chaotic material of which our dreams are composed. Our waking lives are not just worthy of note but of recognition, repetition, dramatization even. You might even 'get' a joke you missed or see the importance of a relationship/situation. Soooo, I was all set - notebook at the ready - to begin last night. Unfortunately, I fell asleep sitting up and my co-antiquity quietly turned off the light, closed my book & drifted off. An hour later, my eyes slammed open in response to the intense low back pain I was having in response to NOT having taken nite-nite meds and sleeping flat. What to do? Well I corrected omission #1 and then stared into the plaster at reams of blank pages. Finally, I wondered what would I have dreamed about if I'd begun this project last week? Day's residue: overshot turn-off street returning from B-Day brunch & passed the Old Cavalier Hotel - where Scott & Zelda danced? You remember, the "Burning Trolley" chapter of our lives? OBVIOUSLY, I'd have been dreaming of the Roaring Twenties! (And 'dancing' - like Isadora Duncan. Actually she was not at her best in the twenties. She'd entered into an ill-fated marriage to a Russian poet, many years her junior, and was touring the country in her endless efforts to start a school for her Art - Dance. Fantasy and reality were given equal time in her program of life; the primitive and the instinctual neatly woven into her aesthetics. Her Art - she ALWAYS capitalized that word) was spontaneous beauty. In her 1928 biography, in her faulting yet honest brand of prose, she shared her life experiences with such intensity that YOU felt HER drama. She said over and over again to her students "Art must come from the soul.". And she knew only a few would understand. Which ones? ) Of course the Roaring Twenties was not ONLY about dancing. And certainly my biography has and will always be about the young, the old, the dramatic, the joy, the tragedies, the "Gates of Hell" and of Heaven. In this regard, the "Twenties" roar, cry, run, sit motionless, approach and bid farewell - as metaphors go - and come. (Isadora's two children drowned in a car accident when their car rolled off a bridge. She never recovered. She died in a tragic car accident as well by the sea - in 1929. Hers was a great love, a great Art. But the Jazz Age headlined children in general. Just as the world mourned the death of Isadora's children, it mourned for the Lindberg baby as well. The trial of "little Gloria" Vanderbilt was followed closely. We were entertained by Shirley Temple and Betty Boop and Little Orphan Annie. The "Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh" were widely read. Mickey Mouse was born in 1929. Did they all represent the creative, moving toward new possibilities? Or were they collectively the SHADOW of the Child - that had to be left behind? I would say they rather 'grew up'. We meet the female spirit again in Clare Booth Luce's play, "The Women" in 1933 but I don't think she was speaking ONLY of 1933 women. In fact, in 1975 The Actors' Theatre of Norfolk mounted her production and I was assigned the role of the wronged and oh-so-right Mary Haines. A tough assignment as it was hard to believe ANY woman could be as naive and devoted as dear Mary. Ms. Luce trots out thirty-five brands of femininity - hat-check gals, debutantes, chorus girls, authors, countesses, mothers and daughters and, of course, poor, jilted Mary. It is a marvelous satirical tableau, dedicated to the female spirit. The ladies lunched and played bridge and had affairs and went in and out of analysis - wearing Jungle Red nail polish. The show was held over, so many playgoers wanted to come and see themselves. You see women never change. Only hem lines do.) And last night there I sat - NO polish, NO dream, in full focus but, lately NOT about children. Rather about original things. Old things. German things So, were I to have been dreaming of THAT residue. . . . (Well, we COULD go back to the Twenties. I recall having to do a 'required' paper once on German architecture. I wrote about Bauhaus - a school of Art form AND a building. Now there is NO question but that the visual arts are my VERY short suit - except for a Chanel given to me in the sixties by a lady for whom I babysat. BUT. I have some VERY first-hand, up-close-and-personal experience with a production set designed by Liubov Popova in 1922. How does this relate to the Roaring Twenties, you might ask, legitimately? Well Bauhaus believed that the inner structure - the soul - of a building, must be reflected on the outside. Now follow closely. The set to which I referred was for the play "The Magnificent Cuckold", first performed in Russia. It was a free interpretation of a windmill, which included slides, platforms, ladders and several discs and wheels in addition to the windmill itself, upstage. It was called constructivism in the art world. In 1974, the Actors' Theater mounted THIS production at the Chrysler Museum and Walter Chrysler borrowed the original set from its home in the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York. And you ask 'How does it relate?' Bite your tongue. Everyone was thrilled and the set was a complete success. I was a member of the cast and can tell you when this thing arrived (and did it have "IT"!) we were stunned. It was like a Rube Goldberg MONSTERPIECE. I hated the 'art'. It sprawled the width of the stage, almost spilling over the apron. All of its parts moved and buzzed and creaked and seemed to hiss viciously, "Caution! Menacing genius crossing.". I mean, it was one thing to be upstaged by this inanimate beast, but worse, we risked our lives every time we walked out there. (I PAID Aaron Norris - in town to open one of his brother's Studios - to teach me how to fall without breaking a hip) One made entrances on ladders and exited down a slide. A cross was invariably interrupted by one or the other rude, triangular swinging doors. And the hummmm. Every part moved electrically, you see, and each character had its partner "moving part". Popova's plan was to have the set react/relate to the drama. So when the actor was "on", his wheel or flap or whatever began doing its thing. Such a treat - acting your little heart out over this mechanical din while the audience sat mesmerized by the technical hi jinx going on behind you. I am not a violent person but WILL confess to kicking a 'work of art' several times during that run. Indeed, were it to appear via my subconscious in the wee hours, NIGHTMARE would be the heading in the "Dream Journal". As to what would it MEAN? Well, let's just say it was the most 'felt' experience of the art of the "Twenties" I have ever had. And it was a 'feeling' I still had six months after the show closed.) Rather like the physical bruises I'm still nursing since a visiting Christmas relative returned home. Psychologically, analysis might compare the entire experience, like portions of the "Twenties" Dreams, to my feelings about our involvement in the Mid-East. Yet, geographically, the emotional 'hot spots' of the Christmas visit hang more around what was at one time 'Slovania'. He was invited because it was known he needed help. He's also a very proud, independent sort. Soooo, we concocted a story about how I NEEDED HELP as I was post-op back surgery. And what with the Holiday bustle and Noel visits keeping everyone distracted, all went as partially planned. He was evaluated for needed eye surgery and a date was selected/confirmed. Almost blind from birth, he now had cataracts which just about obliterated his sight. Just about. During the pre-op waiting period guest did nothing constructive but had a funny little breakage/mess-making thing going. Hostess went to P.T. 3 times a week and K.P. 7 days a week. However, God is Good, surgery went well and we dined out departure eve. We asked questions that went to whether guest had needed assistance at home; guest asked what ever happened to Grandmother's vases - the German antique ones with the painted tulips on them. We were happily assured that guest would be fine at home. Guest was sad to hear vases must have broken. I reckon three times a week I exercised at P. T. while guest exercised at home - mine - snooping. Imagine if he could SEE? Those vases have beautiful irises painted on them. And the study and evaluation of antiquities is passionately absorbing. Later, L. . . .
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