The Observer


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Published: April 24, 2012
Excerpt from Performing & Telling Your Life

(SAM enters, holding a book,“Brideshead Revisited”)


I have a culture! I have a culture! Hey! I never knew that I belonged to a group! For so long I’ve been so confused, milling about on a shore with all these naked shivering people talking amongst themselves in groups, all talking about different things, and all I could do was point…to the ocean behind us, vaguely, like it was the memory of last nights dream. But I just found the other my label. My flesh and blood, my mythology. It’s been so lonely being a living breathing old dead white man! I’ve never known how to describe myself, I always thought I was alone. But I just found a label! I was born to an Anglican–I’ve never really enjoyed a handshake in my whole life!- But then we lost accents and became Catholic. But I never liked potlucks and I’m not Italian or Irish. So…? Like I love cheeses and fancy dress, but ey, what can I say…I like me some sacraments, too. Everybody is something. So what was I? Simply my father’s son? My mother’s child? Everyone else had a title, and so did I apparently, and I’ve just now found it in this book!

(He points to the book and reads.)

“Beware of the Anglo-Catholics–they’re all sodomites with unpleasant accents…” That’s me! An Anglo-Catholic! “Anglo-Catholic…” Yeah!

(A recording of ELIOT’s voice can be heard reading from the “Four Quartets” again.)


Burnt Norton.

(Over this a video fades in of crashing waves. The majestic blue of an ocean accompanies Eliot on his discussion of time. Flashes of nature and life, stock footage, occasionally flicker in; the construction of bridges, parades, instances of culture.)


Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present all time is unredeemable. What might have been is an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility only in a world of speculation. What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present. Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage which we did not take toward the door we never opened into the rose-garden. My words echo thus, in your mind. But to what purpose disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves, I do not know. Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? Quick, said the bird, find them, find them, Round the corner. Through the first gate,

(SAM enters and picks up guitar, prepares to play. Joins into the discussion with ELIOT.)

ELIOT (cont’d)

into our first world, shall we follow the deception of the thrush? Into our first world. There they were, dignified, invisible, moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, in the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, and the bird called, in response to the unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, and the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses had the look of flowers that are looked at. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, along the empty alley, into the box circle, to look down into the drained pool. Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, and the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, and the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, the surface glittered out of heart of light, and they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty. Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: humankind cannot bear very much reality. Time past and time future, what might have been and what has been, point to one end, which is always present.

(SAM is improvising. The tone is muffled, slightly out of tune, and atmospheric. Is unsure how to convey it all, but we make do. He sees it now, from above, “Enuma Elish!” He makes do, and with ELIOT, imitates the ocean as best as he can.)



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