On the Way of the Harlequin

Posted in Articles

I can’t sleep again — something about mirrors and the shock of the Harlequin as he vanishes into one, suddenly invisible, and, as the Angel of Death, prepares to go back out into the real world. That’s when I wake up. It’s time for me to get back to my own real world of Commedia, where me and the Harlequin live, a world on Stage, established before me by troubadours and bards and the singers who remembered by heart the Iliad and the Odyssey and Gilgamesh and Job — a place by the fire, where we listen in terror about the fragility of the known world. Man is a creature...

Read More

Snout

Posted in Articles

I tend to find “one person shows” somewhat deadly. The deadliness is not rooted in the banality or the narcissism that have characterized many (but not all) such spectacles. What I have always objected to most is how inert and unexplored the theatricality often is. For me, as for many people who work in theater, the stage is… Read More at the Time Quotidian

Read More

Wallace Shawn and Our Planetary Fever

Posted in Articles

“Ignoring their embedded-ness, complex systems relate to the environment with greed and aggression.” If world religions are based on any one experience, it’s the kind of night Wallace Shawn documents in his play The Fever. We’ve all had them. The harsh inner judge shows up with his clipboard and his tilted scales demanding full access to the heart. In flashes of self-recognition we glimpse the demonic patterns that have covertly governed the course of our lives. Cherished self-images collapse in on themselves as the mind swirls around in a soup composed of everything it feels...

Read More

Immiseration Can Wait

Posted in Articles

For whatever they may be, the gods manifest themselves above all as mental events. Literature and the Gods – Roberto Calasso As I fell back off the ladder I thought about unintended consequences and about the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine. The light bulb was still in my hand – one of those beefy exterior bulbs – and as I fell it swung around behind my back so that when I landed the stem of the bulb dug hard into the soft tissue above my left hip. Lying rigid on the hardwood floor I made odd bleating sounds until the firemen arrived some twenty minutes later and smiled, looking...

Read More

Vieux Carré

Posted in Articles

Art, like life itself, is an activity rich in paradox. The style of an artist, their aesthetic signature, limits as well as shapes their expressive energies. Great artists embrace and also rebel against their own style with equal ardor, and it’s this tension that creates the evolution, the trajectory of their work. Some artists tuck all that struggle behind the drapes; some let it become the direct subject matter of the work itself. Either way, this tension is exactly where we, in our self-created lives, connect to the artistic project in an urgent way. The struggles of the artist with form...

Read More

Dark Matter and the Dirac Array

Posted in Articles

I remember being enthralled in astronomy class the first time I heard about “dark matter.” This is the unknown mass out there providing the gravitational stability needed for luminous structures like spiral galaxies. Although thought to be many times larger than the visible matter in the universe, the jury is still out on what dark matter is composed of. Neutrinos must have mass, some people say, referring to the ghostly particles that burst from the guts of stars each time a particle of hydrogen gets cooked into a particle of helium. Others say the lit galactic arrays are surrounded by...

Read More

Owning the Means of Connection

Posted in Articles

If you’re like me, you’re partial to narratives of hope. You want things to work out, for yourself certainly…but also for the people you care about and the traditions you identify with and think are healthy. From childhood on you’ve felt burdened by a sense that something is wrong, a little bit wrong maybe, or maybe a lot wrong, depending on your temperament. We can talk about that sense of wrong-ness as free-floating anxiety, dukkha, original sin – my point is only that, like me, you probably tend to assemble daily experience into story lines – narratives – that make a...

Read More

The Koons Moment

Posted in Articles

I’ve always hoped to dismiss any claims the artist Jeffrey Koons might make on aesthetic legitimacy, but a recent trip to UC Irvine to see Robert Cohen’s production, Abraham and Isaac in Jerusalem, has illuminated why, in all likelihood, this ambition will continue to elude me. For those who take theater seriously, UC Irvine occupies a special place. Since the 1970s, the program, which Cohen helped found, has been a haven for those who share a more European view of how theatrical expression connects to the ongoing project of “civilization.” Theater, from this perspective, is a...

Read More

Ecce Heston

Posted in Articles

In Santa Fe dramatic thunderstorms are common late on summer days. Afterwards the massive banks of purple clouds will often part, allowing shafts of intense sunlight to angle down, creating sometimes vivid rainbows. At a house near downtown last summer I saw a rainbow like this, clear as a Technicolor dream. I was with a group of young scientists and I watched as their wonder shifted into analytical mode – here is an example of water molecules interacting with rays of refracted light – and then back again toward a more embodied appreciation. The sequence reminded me of the Buddhist saying...

Read More

Citizens Koch

Posted in Articles

It’s hard to know what to say about Charles Koch after reading Jane Mayer’s astonishing expose in the August 30th issue of The New Yorker. American politics have been running hot for decades; finally we can name the source of the fever. Together with his brother David, Charles Koch owns Koch Industries, the second largest private company in the US; only Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are thought to be wealthier. In a remarkably narcissistic and anti-democratic act, the Koch boys long ago anointed themselves the heroic duo who would “rip government out by the roots.” In the grip of this...

Read More