May 26, 2005

Tag Her

OK, OK, I'm it and I'm playing the game.

The “occupations”:

If I could be a scientist…If I could be a farmer…If I could be a musician… If I could be a doctor… If I could be a painter… If I could be a gardener… If I could be a missionary… If I could be a chef… If I could be an architect… If I could be a linguist… If I could be a psychologist… If I could be a librarian… If I could be a lawyer… If I could be an inn-keeper… If I could be an athlete… If I could be a professor… If I could be a writer… If I could be a llama-rider…If I could be a mail carrier… If I could be a bonnie pirate… If I could be an astronaut… If I could be a world famous blogger… If I could be a justice on any one court in the world… If I could be a circus ringmaster… If I could be a professional knitter… If I could be an interior designer… If I could be a lunch-lady…

If I were a musician:
I would play the violin, guitar, cello, and horn perfectly. Travel would be lite since being a member of the Boston Pops keeps me pretty busy in Bean Town. Sometimes I would go into town near the plaza between the Aquarium and the Science Museum and play for fun, but I would accept any charitable contributions, of course. I would hang out with other musicians and we would have dinner every Thursday night at each-others houses after playing a little chamber music together (sometimes original compositions, sometimes all the way through the Bach cello suites).

If I were a linguist:
Home would be a hard location to pinpoint. I'd be most comfortable in any of the countries that house the 31 or so dialects with which I communicate. I spend most of my time, however, at the University of Berlin lecturing on global communications and adapting to varying social protocols cross-culturaly. I would never cook. I would visit every single bistro and bodega east of the Hudson and order in the native tongue of the clerk. Sometime's I'd travel with a diplomat or something, but only when classes are out of session.

If I were a missionary:
I wouldn't look like one. I would work for an international publishing firm out of Ismir, Turkey. I would translate and proof-read Turkish print media aimed at English-speaking internationals. This job would allow me to help support a group of Turkish and foreign believers. We would get together for Bible studies frequently and share our struggles, joys, discoveries, and growth over olives, bread, cucumbers, and cheese. We would try to help each other walk in the light. We would constantly be removing beams and moats. We would sow and reap. We would grow in grace. And baptize in the Agean.

If I were an inn-keeper:
It, the inn, would have quite a history. The mansion, Originally owned by a Virgianian slave-trader almost two centuries ago, ironically would become the firmest stake in the underground rail-road. As such, it's many rooms would have secret chambers and passages woven into the skeleton of the structure. I would invite every guest to find the one or two secrets hidden in their room. By now you realize that this is more of a B&B than a simple inn. The greens would always be open to the local public for croquet, bocce, or the occasional celtic band (funded by the state because it's an historic land-mark). I would serve brunch and late dinners either on the terraces, formal dining hall, or in the rooms.

If I were a llama rider:
"Ants hate chalk." He spoke the words only to hear them outside his head. But it was the tiny creature crawling along the rigth knee of his trousers that instigated it. He returned to his place in the dream which sifted away through the sound of his own breathing sometimes in sync with the llama's and sometimes syncopating and then out of sync. He held his breath and listened to the solo performance of the beast. Slow, sometimes yawning or stuttering. It was sporatic and soothing at the same time. It was jazz.

There isn't much one can do in the waning heat of the afternoon in southern Mexico. All the world stops for the sun, who passes slowly as if aware of his audience. A part of the people - perhaps the part that worshiped the sun before Cortez eclipsed it with himself - senses that slowness and acquiesses to it. The foreigners never see it. They only try to keep moving, try to keep producing in the punishing heat. The natives know better.

The man with the llama gathered his thought neatly as the sun resumed his normal pace. The pair retraced their steps back through the tomato fields to the nucleus of the farm.

"Ants hate chalk." The words came with more purpose, but they didn't stop her from neatly gathering the adornments and effects of the home into bundles for the jeep. She had been working at it all afternoon. "Have you ever seen an ant try to figure chalk out? What you do is, when you see an ant, draw a chalk circle around it and it can't get out. They must hate the smell of it... or maybe it hides the paths they make on the ground... they get so lost."

"We don't have any chalk," the words came without purpose, but they didn't stop her from her packing, "you and the ants can rule this place and cover it all over with smelly paths. I don't care. This is yours. All of this. I'm not connected to this any longer." She dropped the words on him in neat little bundles, one at a time for effect. Then she looked at him. She coddled his face with her eyes until she could trap his. She had to see that she was connecting somehow. That's all she really wanted. She didn't want to leave. She didn't want to throw words around. She wanted to communicate. If she couldn't share at least one thought with him then she could justify leaving, hoping that it would strike him hard enough to solicit a response, knowing she wouldn't be shocked when none came.

"I'm not talking about ants." He seized her with his eyes, she didn't expect it. She looked at her luggage and then back at him.

"Then WHAT!? Do you want to tell me that your saddle blanket needs to be changed? Does the llama need water? For the love of earth, what do you want!?" Will you ever tell me?

"It's not ants. It's me. You've never told me, but you've let me know - like this. When you've got the ant in the chalk he'll run around frantic for a while, but eventually he busts out. I've not been good to you like I promised. I've been drawing chalk circles around you for real long. I don't remember the last time I told you about how the animals are doing or how excited I get when all the flowers turn to fruit over-night. I've trapped you by locking you out. I'm sorry. I can't do anything now that won't look like words thrown together for you to try to keep you from going. I realize I can't say anything to make you stay. I've been wrong about love. I thought it would come easy. Sometimes it does, like when you smile and laugh and flirt. But love is work, like growing tomatoes. There are good years and there are horrible years when we eat cactus soup for months. But I'm still a tomatoe farmer. I know that I love you. Even right now. I've let you know, but I've never told you. That's what I'm talking about; I want to talk again. With you."

If I were a llama rider I'd be melodramatic.

I tag everybody.

Posted by timf at 01:48 PM | Comments (3)

May 17, 2005

On the Hunt

Well, I've done a little more research into the realm of ancient drama. I've found a great deal more about the development of drama in several cultures, but nothing clear yet on Hebrew theater.

'Job' is becoming more and more dear to me as I study it. I'm blown away by the intricacy of its structure; its timing; its rythm. Tearing the book apart, however, hasn't shown me anything about how the performer(s) would have seen it; interpreted it. The only thing clear from simply analyzing it is that it is truly great literature. It focuses clearly on a string of thought. It gives us a character whith whom we can easily sympathize. It teaches. Truth.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, so I've found, shared my obsession for establishing the credibility of viewing 'Job' as a play. His ideas were condemned at the Church Council of 553 at Constantinople. Since then I'm pretty sure that any shred of information about Hebrew performance arts has been shredded.

But I'm still going to try to piece it all together.

In the mean time I've learned that most western drama came to us through the Greeks and then was restructured through the pageantry of the church. Western theater was birthed out of an interest in dialogue. Literature was read or delivered memorized for an audience. The next step was to incorporate a number of speakers until the Greeks came up with a format similar to the 'readers' theater' style of today. Later the skena, or painted back-drop, appeared to enhance the illusion of reality. Then the church stepped in by allowing more free stage movement and interaction between characters.

On the other hand, eastern drama developed more out of dance than dialogue. The first productions were stories of the gods and their histories (already understood by most of their audience) set to motion. Even today several traditional Hindu dance movements are based on the most archaic of human activities. Spreading the palm so that the back of the hand circles downward while the upper torso is bent relates sowing in seed spring; the idea then is spring, growth, fecundity. Later influences from Chinese and Indonesian cultures incorporated more people with a more complex vocabulary of dance moves. Eventually there were readers to clarify the story as the players danced it out. Today much easter drama, especially in modern movies such as 'Hero' or 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' tell a story with few words; there are entire scenes that have almost no dialogue, only action.

I imagine that Hebrew drama falls somewhere in between. I can only guess at what ancient Hebrew players would have done. They had brought much tradition from Egypt, which had developed a pageant-based drama style. The Hebrews were also heavily exposed the the developement of the Greek culture through trade with the Phonecians. So much so that most scholars would say that Job was based on what travelling wise men from Israel would have seen when visiting Greece.

So, basically, I have no idea what to do. I don't have enough research to build an accurate representation of what the Hebrew would have done with 'Job.' I may just have to do something radically modern.

Posted by timf at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

I Love My Job

As in the book of...


In Bible Poetry class this semester we've covered various aspects of ancient Hebrew poetry.

I think the reason I enjoy this class so much is mostly because of the classes I've been taking concurently. I've taken Shakespeare and learned a whole lot about drama and how it has evolved since the early Greek plays. I've also taken British Literature. In Brit Lit one day earlier this semester Dr. Kraus blithly dropped a challenge of a paper topic: Compare Pope's "Rape of the Lock" to Homer's "Illiad." I'd already read the "Illiad" a year ago, so I thought the challenge might be something I'd be somewhat equiped to conquer. So I reread the "Illiad" and refreshed matters in my mind touching the natures of oral tradition and poetic dramaturgy in the ancient world.

In the last few classes of Bible Poetry we've discussed the book of Job. The lectures covered the history of the book, how it came to be written in the Bible, its poetic style, its historical significance, and its plot structure. I've yet to verify this, but so much of the way the book of Job is written and especially the arrangement of individual sililoquies within the book seem (at least to me) to mirror the nature of ancient dramatic works. Basically, Job is like the script of a play about a man who in trying to discern the source of his trouble instead learns the nature of true wisdom.

I asked my instructor about this in class. He said that we don't know enough about Hebrew drama or even if there were such a thing about Hebrew drama. That's why I need to verify my guess before I can dogmatically say that it is a play script (which is partially why I'm posting this because I'm hoping that you might be able to share some insight).

Job opens with a prosaic prologue. The prologue constructs a context for the dialogue of the play proper. The play proper (without getting into the chiasmatic arrangement of the sililoquies) is a series of sililoquies in poetic form often separated by the transitional "And then came ____ and said." The book concludes with an epilogue in prosaic form that beautifully frames and parallels the prologue. There are also a whole bunch of foreshadowing statements and epic digressions that seem to link the work in genre to literature that we know to be ancient drama.

I don't really care much whether I'm mistaken or rediscovering what smart people have already written about. In any event I think it would be really fun to get people to read for Prologue/Epilogue, God, Satan, Job, Mrs. Job, Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar. It would be really cool to perform it in a big open space where we might beat drums with big sticks or something ancient-feeling like that (maybe pick up some viking knee wreaths).

Posted by timf at 11:55 PM | Comments (2)