Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reading, Writing, Rehearsing: A Wednesday Update

I've been so busy with the run of Yoga Bitch at Re-bar, I haven't had time to live up to my blog's promise. So, here's the scoop:

What I'm Reading:
Several things. I finished a great book, Lauren Slater's Lying, a few weeks ago and haven't quite gotten lost in a book yet. So I've been working my way through Italo Calvino's essay collection, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, bit by bit. It's not easy reading. But I love this: 

(Calvino has been describing an image from the Decameron by Boccaccio in which Guido Cavalcanti, while standing in the courtyard of a church, escapes from a band of boys by leaping over a tomb like "a man very light in body.")

Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose that one: the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times-- noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring-- belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars. 

I find this paragraph oddly moving. I don't want to crush it with analysis, but I will say that it reminds me, somewhat obliquely, of a production of Medea I saw at BAM several years ago, starring the great Fiona Shaw in the title role. Her performance was a revelation in this heavy, heavy play-- which I'd only ever seen performed with all the gravity of an overcooked pound cake. (I'm thinking of some of those awful made-for-TV British productions they made us watch in high school, with the actors rolling their Rs and eyes, insisting with every thunderous line that this was tragic! That we were watching a tragedy! and inadvertently making us laugh at infanticide, patricide, incest. Oedipus is hilarious!

Fiona Shaw's performance was buoyant. It was quick and sharp and light where traditionally it would be heavy. The play was all the more tragic for her lack of insistence that it would be. 

I've started reading Julio Cortazar's novel, Hopscotch, a book my husband has been trying to get me to read since our first date. I want to steal the structure of this story. (Cortazar gives the reader two options for reading his book: one way is to read straight through to Chapter 56 and then stop. The other option is to read it according to a plan Cortazar has devised, hopscotching from chapter 1 to 53 to 87 and so forth.)

Wandering along the Quai des Celestins I step on some dry leaves and when I pick one up and look at it closely I see that it is full of old-gold dust, and underneath some earth profound as musty perfume sticks to my hand. For all those reasons I bring the dry leaves back to my flat and paste them on a lampshade. Ossip comes, he stays two hours and doesn't even look at the lamp. Another day Etienne comes by, and with his beret still in his hand, Dis-donc, c'est epatant, ca! and he picks up the lamp, studies the leaves, becomes enthusiastic. Durer, the veins, and so forth.

Now, there's some lovely writing in here. And it's pretentious, kinda. (Well, is it pretense? Or is my calling it pretentious some sort of American anti-intellectual populist strain I've picked up on that makes me ashamed of education or knowledge of the liberal arts? Is that response some sort of terrible Inner Sarah Palin? Do I need an exorcism?) ANYWAY. What I find curious is that Cortazar's unabashed pretentiousness-- if that's what this is-- makes me nostalgic. (I suffer from a crippling, chronic, nostalgia, often brought on by movies, music, and novels. I'm nostalgic for times I've never lived in, like Wharton's New York and Schiele's Vienna; I'm nostalgic for every time in my life except for the years K-12; shit, I'm nostalgic for freakin' yesterday.)

Cortazar has written about a collection of bohemian South Americans living in Paris, and it reminds me very much of the year I spent hopscotching around Europe with a cheating South American boyfriend. He and I debated the merits of Gunter Grass, Nikos Kazantzakis, and Eduardo Galeano; we read all of Milan Kundera's books in the Prague Spring . . . of '97; we smoked hash and listened to Built to Spill after breaking up for the thousandth time in Budapest. I'm only a few chapters into Cortazar's book, but it makes me wistful for a time when I pronounced every country's name with the appropriate accent (a practice I mock when I hear it now, as if applying a crude corrective to my former self) a time when we were broke, and we hadn't showered in weeks, and we collected pine cones in a Parisian suburb to take home because when they burned, they made the fire more beautiful.

Ah, sigh. Fucking nostalgia.

Okay, so that's it for reading. I hope to either commit fully to one of these books in the next day or two, or give up on all of them and start in on the stack of books my friend Annie lent me a month ago. 

What I'm Writing:

A project I'm not at liberty to speak of yet. Also, this post.

What I'm Rehearsing:
Yoga Bitch closed at Re-bar on Saturday, after a really wonderful month-long run. I adore the good folks at Re-bar, from producer Ian to doorman Free, to the bevy of marvelous bartenders. We were blessed with warm audiences and some great press. I couldn't be happier.

Now I'm beginning to think about an outline for my new show, Your Own Personal Alcatraz. More on that to come. 

I'll leave you with this helpful bit of advice from one of the kajillions of lifestyle magazines available at every Whole Foods in the nation:

From Real Simple's article on How to Give Yourself a Pedicure:
(time noted below is in minutes)

0:00 to 3:00 Soak: soften skin by soaking feet in warm water.
3:00 to 6:00 Exfoliate: pat your feet dry, then slough off dead skin cells with a dry foot file.
6:00 to 10:00 Trim and File: Trim nails across using a straight-edge clipper. Use three cuts on each nail, as clipping the whole nail at once can cut too close to the skin.
10:00 to 11:00 Moisturize. 
11:00 to 12:00 Stop Drooling.
12:00 to 14:00 Wake up, and seriously, stop drooling.
14:00 to 14:30 Realize you can't read.
14:30 to 15:30 Go back to gouging your toenails until you bleed. Also note that you're wearing a diaper. 

There's only one name for this kind of reporting: fascism with a friendly face! Yet another example of the liberal media elite trying to run your life for you. Clip your damn toenails any damn way you want, my friends! This is Amurika! Shoot a moose from a helicopter! Yee-hah!

1 comment:

JM said...

In Gopnik's defense, you must check out the story he told at the Moth called "LOL." It's available as a free podcast through iTunes (just search for 'The Moth') and it is *hilarious*.