I haven’t posted in a while. Take that as a good sign. I still have mental illness. I’m still a writer. Play with that chicken and egg conundrum all you wish. A confluence of events led to this posting.
A few days ago I saw a post on facebook from someone wondering why she had to read depressing things in literature classes. I thought that was stupid but didn’t give it any more thought. Last night I watched a production of “An Iliad.” If you are unaware of this Obie award winning play, check it out and find a performance near you.
The play is a one man (and a musical muse) consideration of “The Iliad.” The Poet, in modern day, looks back at that vicious war and the songs he tried to sing. Beyond a perfect recognition that “The Iliad” was not a celebration of victories but an acknowledgment of agony and death and struggle, this play offers up a prism for all of us to peer through. In a five minute listing of every substantial war man has fought since Troy to the present, the viewer is beaten on the head with the fact that we have learned nothing.
And still, there stands The Poet. It is his job to tell the story. A watchful muse forces him on, and he continues to weave a tale, despite the pain it brings him. That pain is substantial.
There’s the rub. Many articles and essays have been written about the angst and self destructive nature of artists. Yes, we’re back to the chicken and egg. Before you conclude, consider The Poet. He watched friends and idols die. He watched it again and again over time. While the audience heard the story once, and may have been moved, and then went home. The Poet has to tell that story, and all that follow, over and over again.
When you see, hear, or read about a tragedy, it affects you one time. You get about your daily life, even if the event may cling to you for a while. Picture The Poet….it is his job to relive the tragedy over and over. He doesn’t want to. It is a compulsion, or a muse, or an obligation to make sure the story is heard so the tragedy might not be repeated….but it always is.
It is the writers who cry because they have to relive and relay the tragedies. Humanity doesn’t need to be reminded of joy. We duplicate that daily. We need to hear our darker stories. Someday, we might learn, and The Poet might look up from his dark work and feel relief.