Friday, February 16, 2007


Sitting in darkness in Manhattan's Kraine Theater – surrounded by music – and in the glow of the stage – music from instruments and voices and the pure music of words – and movement with words as performed – even into dance – and all of it framed in a complex system of visual richness – it took the sound and lighting man many hours to set up the bare stage – and it was now so in order that you never thought it was part of a carefully worked-out scheme – the combination of spontaneity and rehearsal – words and music – song and lightŠ.

Here on this January night of an Authentic Writing SONG AND STORY performance I thought of the deep contempt I had had forty years back when I lived in Anafiotika – which seemed to me the sort of perfect bohemian setting – laughter and retsina and tightly abandoned taverna dancing – as far removed as you could be from things like the family I came from and the silly order of gray Eisenhower America – there in one of these very small white-washed houses perched on the side of the Acropolis – you could look up from the roof and see the Parthenon – a few dollars a month, no heat or indoor plumbing but a view out and over, it seemed, not just Athens but all of Attica, all of the world – not much electricity but unamplified bazuki music by taverna tables set on the steps in the winding lanes, between the white-washed sides of these houses – lanes where what might be pebbles beneath your feet were as likely to be fragments of ancient pottery or Byzantine mosaic....

Here with a lovely girl, Vannie – who painted all day and never wrote – while I, who slept much of the day, never painted but wrote hour after hour all through almost all of the nights....

And we both had such contempt for Dawn from London who could not decide whether she wanted to be a painter or a writer and did neither – or Harold from Hot Springs, Arkansas who had in progress a series of paintings of floating handkerchiefs and wrote poetry that he was proud no one could untangle – or pretty Mary from Dublin who modeled and wanted to act – or Daniel from Chicago who was about ready to give up this life so as to pursue a doctorate in English, or Jason from Queensland, who bragged of his days off the coast of Somalia as, he said, the last of the white dhow skippers – and was now, he said, outlining a poem – to be his first – an epic poem – and thinking too, it seemed, of taking up etching – or Harold Winterbotham from Dorset who knew what he was doing, he said, because every winter he went home and spent three months with his mother in an English village where he realized himself because he always wrote and produced and starred in the village church¹s annual play whereas in Anafiotika he was also an abstract painter – or dim-witted Klaus from Frankfurt who went to Nasser's Egypt and heard things about Jews that made him think his S.S. father might have been right, and now he painted fuzzily – and played a lute.

Such contempt I had, and maybe Vannie did too, for anyone who did not have a serious course and did not follow through – for anyone who could not be one thing or another – could not keep it separate.

A view that I held until my life depended on light and shade and form and line and color – and at another time on sound and movement and song – my life and my writing too.

All whirling around in my mind in this time in the dark in the Kraine Theater where I was suddenly thinking of a time in the deceptively clear light of Greece when I feared mere dilettantism if I could not be simply and solely one thing or another.


Andra said...

Good for people to know.

Oneperson said...

Thought I'd take up reading this blog from the big inning. ;-)

Love the this last paragraph, especially the phrase, "deceptively clear light"...

I'll probably ponder that one a bit.