Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Evanston: Theater of War; in the moment

        I believe that the writings of classical Greece are relevant to modern life.  So does Bryan Doerries who co-founded The Theater of War which performs his translations of plays of Sophocles and Aeschylus before military families, health care givers, conflicted communities, prison guards, followed by free and hopefully cathartic discussion by the audiences.
        I learned of the Theater of War from an article in Smithsonian Magazine.  It is a long article, but if you can find time worthwhile.  Here is a link to a shorter NY TIMES  piece.
        Four of Bryan Doerries translations have  been published in ALL YOU SEE HERE IS GOD.   Sophocles’ WOMEN OF TRACHIS  ends with the chorus declaiming: 

                My friends,
                you have seen
                many strange things:
                countless deaths,
                new kinds of torture,
                immeasurable pain,
                and all that you’ve 
                seen here is  god.

        The main characters in the four plays are a warrior who believes his honor has been compromised and commits suicide; another warrior who is abandoned by his comrades and lives alone for ten years on an island, suffering from an unhealable snake bite; Prometheus, eternally tortured for aiding mankind; and Heracles who suffers an excruciating death from a poisoned robe given to him by his wife who was unaware of its fatal qualities.
        I am not qualified to judge the accuracy of Bryan Doerries’ translations, but they are in contemporary English, very readable, and very powerful.


        I am intentionally not being specific because I  don’t wish to disparage any one individual, but a couple of readers  have sent me links to an audacious voyage currently underway.   What strikes me  is that the solo sailor is blogging almost everyday.   I don’t understand how you can be truly in the moment and be constantly playing to an audience.  You haven’t truly cut ties with the shore, which is one of the great pleasures of an ocean passage.   You are never truly alone, and you certainly have not entered into the monastery of the sea.
        I have been writing for more than half a century.  I am pleased to have an audience, but only when I reach land.  I believe a valid standard by which to judge a voyage is whether the sailor would have made it if no one else ever knew.  
        I do not claim that my way is the right way.  Obviously it is not the only way.  But when I go to sea, I go to sea.
        I pause and then I smile, for I realize that it has been too long since I have been.