The 8th Myth and Theatre Festival
July 5- 9, 2000

The Gossip Column
On Gossip

Stories, ideas, suggestions for the Festival

EDITORIAL

Hassidic Pillows

What keeps the world in orbit...  

Doxa and Donkeys' Ears

Professional Love and Hate

The Impossible Silence / W.S. Churchill

Why 20 Postcards?

Ireland for Beginners

THE BETRAYAL OF GOSSIP BY INDUSTRIALISED SOCIETY

Check also "A Panic Chronicle" - Pantheatre's 20th Anniversary and Summer of 2000 (a brief article by Enrique Pardo with some gossip on Pan, panic and Pantheatre)

 

On Gossip
The Editorial

If myth is "glorified gossip", then why not have both the glory and the gossip?
Glory is the manifestation of myth on stage: images deploying ideas and emotions that reach mythical dimensions.
Gossip is the salt and pepper of image-making, humanity’s small talk: it grounds and flavours both tragedy and comedy.

Invited guests include Nor Hall (whose 1999 New Orleans lecture Gossips and the God of the Keyhole Aura inspired the theme On Gossip).

Top

Hassidic Pillows
A Story reported by Rachel
Pollack

Apparently, gossip is the ultimate evil for Hassidic Jews, practically akin to murder: the pronunciation of the two words is almost the same.

An honourable man one day lost his composure and told some very nasty gossip about his neighbour. Shortly thereafter something dreadfull happened to this neighbour, and our man felt very guilty.
He went to the rabbi, told him what had happened and asked how he could atone. The rabbi was not very sympathetic, but said nevertheless that he had come accross a procedure in the scriptures. It involved two stages:
- "First, you must climb a mountain and take your pillow with you, on a stormy and windy day. When you reach the summit, you must slash your pillow open and let the feathers be blown by the winds".
This, our man undertook diligently, huffing and puffing his way up the tallest mountain in the nighbourhood on a stormy and windy day, slashing open his pillow once he had reached the summit, and dispersing the feathers.
He descended and went straight to the rabbi, to tell him how he had immediatly felt relief, and thank him for having indicated to him this ritual.
The rabbi listened skeptically, and, as the man was about to go home with his new-found sense of balance, stopped him and reminded him that there was a second part to the ritual. Our man had forgotten this, especially because he was feeling such renewal and relief.
- "The second part of the ritual says that you must go back up the mountain and collect all the feathers of your pillow."
- "But, rabbi - uttered our man, dumbfounded - the feathers have been scattered to the four corners by the winds!"
"Precisely." replied the rabbi.

Doxa
and
Donkeys' Ears

From Stephen Karcher, author of Ta Chuan (the historical gossip on the I Ching - he is also the co-author of the now renowned Eranos Translation). He met with Enrique Pardo in Wales recently, and both stirred up stories about "donkeys' ears" (very important in Enrique's work - where one is adviced to "look with one's ears"). There is the great mythological gossip about King Midas, who "has donkey's ears!"
"Hey, not only does gossip have big ears, it may be what Plato called doxa - the talk of the marketplace, politics, and - funny enough - craftspeople and sea pilots. Is gossip "metic"?"
Top

Professional
Love and Hate

Enrique Pardo met with Sonu Shamdasani in London. Sonu was, to say the least, skeptical about the idea of Gossip. And yet, some of us, who consider Sonu to be the greatest historian of psychology today, (certainly on C.G.Jung), have called him "a professional of gossip". We might have a cross-examination tribunal at the Festival, in which Sonu argues "Why I hate gossip", and Enrique "Why I love gossip"! Check the gossip on Sonu Shamdasani's "Cult Fictions" (Enrique has recommended it as probably the best introduction to Jung's work, because it comes in through the back door and picks up what is said in the kitchen, not unlike a certain Homer it would seem...)

Jose Saramago
"Balthazar and Blimunda"

proposed by Liza Mayer

....Why was Blimunda's mother sent into exile, Because Father, they denounced her to the Holy Office of the Inquisition, Blimunda is neither Jewish nor converted, and this trouble with the Holy Office of the Inquisition and her sentence to imprisonment and exile came about because of certain visions and revelations, Blimunda's mother claimed to have had, and voices she had heard, There isn't a woman alive who hasn't had visions and revelations, or who doesn't hear voices, we women hear mysterious voices all day long, and one doesn't have to be a sorceress to hear them, My mother was no more a sorceress than I am, Do you have visions too, Only those visions that all women experience, Mother...

....when Balthazar enters the house he hears whispers and murmurings coming from the kitchen, he recognises his mother's voice, then that of Blimunda, as they converse in turn, they scarecely know each other yet have so many things to confide, it is the prolonged and interminable conversation of women, men think such converstions frivolous without perceiving that they keep the world in oribit, if women did not converse with one another, men would long ago have lost all sense of home and of the world at large ....

....Besides the conversations of women, it is dreams that keep the world in orbit...  

Jose Saramago: "Balthazar and Blimunda"
Top

W.S. Churchill

proposed by Liza Mayer

"....With the Reformation the notion that it might be a duty to disobey the established order on the grounds of private conviction became for the first time since the conversion to Christianity of the Roman Empire, the belief of great numbers. But so closely were the Church and State involved that disobedience to the one was a challenge to the other. The idea that a man could pick and choose for himself what doctrines he should adhere to was almost as alien to the mind of the age as the idea that he should select what laws he should obey and what magistrates he should respect. The most that could be allowed was that he should outwardly conform and think what he liked in silence. But in the great turmoil of Europe silence was impossible. Men talked: secretly to one another, openly in their writings, which were now printed in a thousand copies, kindling excitement and curiosity wherever they were carried..."
"A History of the English Speaking Peoples, The New World" Vol 2, by W.S. Churchill
Top

20 Postcards

Stephen Karcher

(To Enrique) "You say everyone should bring 20 postcards to "imp-prove your gossip." There is a tradition/technique of the "postcard oracle" I learned from the friend of an african witch-person. Could be a very interesting thing to speculate with - circulating and "randomly empowering" the images."

Ireland for Beginners

Pub etiquette

The crucial thing here is the "round" system, in which each participant takes turns to "shout" an order. To the outsider, this may appear casual; you will not necessarily be told it's your and other participants may appear only to o happy to substitute for you. But make no mistake, your failure to "put your hand in your pocket" will be noticed. People will mention it the moment you leave the room. The reputation will follow you to the grave, whereafter it will attach to your offspring and possibly theirs as well. In some cases, it may become permanently enshrined in a family nickname.

Woolly jumpers

Ireland produces vast quantities of woollen knitwear and, under a US/Irish trade agreement, American visitors may not return to the States without a minimum of two sweaters, of which one at least must be predominantly green. Airline staff may check that you have the required documentation before you are allowed to disembark. Note: under no circumstances will you see an Irish person wearing a woollen jumper. These jumpers are worn solely by Americans to identify them to muggers,thieves and knackers.

Irish people and the weather

It is often said that the Irish are a Mediterranean people who only come into their own when the sun shines on consecutive days (which it last did around the time of St Patrick). For this reason, Irish people dress for conditions in Palermo rather than Dublin; and it is not unusual in March to see young people sipping cool beer outside city pubs and cafes, enjoying the air and the soft caress of hailstones on their skin. The Irish attitude to weather is the ultimate triumph of optimism over experience: Every time it rains, we look up at the sky and are shocked and betrayed. Then we go out and buy a new umbrella.

Ireland has two time-zones

1) Greenwich Mean Time and (2) "local" time. Local time can be anything between ten minutes and three days behind GMT, depending on the position of the earth and the whereabouts of the man with the keys to the hall. The Irish concept of time has been influenced by the thinking of 20th century physicists, who hold that it can only be measured by reference to another body and can even be affected by factors like acceleration. For instance, a policeman entering a licensed premises in rural Ireland late at night is a good example of another body from whom it can be reliably inferred that it is fact closing time. When this happens, acceleration is the advised option. shockingly, the relativity argument is still not accepted as a valid defence in the Irish courts.

Traditional music

Many visitors to Ireland make the mistake of thinking of traditional music as mere entertainment. In some parts of Ireland this may even be an accurate impression. However, in certain fundamentalist strongholds such as Clare, traditional music is founded in a strict belief system which has been handed on from generation to generation. This is overseen by bearded holy men, sometimes called "Mullahs", who ensure that the music is played in accordance with laws laid down in the 5th century. Under this system, "bodhran players" are required to cover their faces in public. Other transgressions, such as attempting to play guitar in a traditional session, are punishable by the loss of one or both hands. A blind eye may be turned to the misbehaviour of foreigners, but it's best not to push it.

Irish Dancing

There are two main kinds of Irish dancing: (1) Riverdance, which is now simultaneously running in every m ajor city in the world except Ulan Bator and which some economists believe is responsible for the Irish economic boom; and (2) real Irish dancing, in which men do not wear frilly blouses and you still may not express yourself, except in a written note to the adjudicators.

The wearing of the green

Strangely enough, Irish people tend to wear everything except green, which is associated with too many national tragedies, including 1798, the Famine and the current Irish rugby team. It's possible that green just doesn't suit the Irish skin colour, which is generally pale blue (see Weather).

Gaelic games

St Patrick's Day brings the climax of the club championships in Gaelic games, which combine elements of the American sports of gridiron and baseball but are played with an intensity more associated with Mafia turf wars. The two main games are "football" and "hurling", the chief difference being that in football, the fights are unarmed. There is also "camogie," which is like hurling, except that in fights the hair may be pulled as well.

Schools rugby

St Patrick's Day also brings the finals in schools rugby, a game based around the skills of wrestling, kicking, gouging, ear-biting, and assaults on other vulnerable body parts. The game is much prized in Ireland's better schools, where it's seen as an ideal grounding for careers in business and the law. It is well-known that St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Less publicised is that he also banished kangaroos, polar bears and Vietnamese pot- bellied pigs, all of which were regarded as nuisances by the early Irish Christians.

Signposting

In most countries, road signs are used to help motorists get from one place to another. In Ireland, it's not so simple. Sign-posting here is heavily influenced by Einstein's theories (either that or the other way round) of space/time, and works on the basis that there is no fixed reference point in the universe , or not west of Mullingar anyway. Instead, location and distance may be different for every observer and, frequently, for neighbouring road-signs.

The good news is Language

Ireland is officially bilingual, a fact which is reflected in the road-signs. This allows you to get lost in both Irish and English.

Clothes

Visitors to Ireland in mid-March often ask: What clothes should I bring? The answer is: All of them!

Religion

Ireland remains a deeply religious country, with the two main denominations being "us" and "them". In the unlikely event you are asked which group you belong to, the correct answer is: "I'm an atheist, thank God". Then change the subject.

Top

Industrial Gossip

Peter Fyfe

THE BETRAYAL OF GOSSIP BY INDUSTRIALISED SOCIETY

The soul (psyche, heart, whatever, you know what I mean) requires a health diet of good, fresh gossip to grow strong. But where can we find such gossip these days?

In his 1982 book "Gender", Ivan Illich discusses, among other things, the difference between economic sex and grammatical gender. The latter is a purely arbitrary distinction. Within a subsistence culture, tasks were (are still) divided by gender, but neither gender's tasks are deemed more valuable than the other. In an industrialised society, one sex traditionally earns money, which is valuable, and one sex does the housework, which is not. Most importantly (for my argument), the majority of the work done in the house is what Illich calls "shadow work", which is even less valued than the housework. Illich describes shadow work as the work one does to turn a commodity into something useful. To me, there is something very important in this idea of shadow work. Doing shadow work comes at a great psychological cost, which we pay as wecompensate for the distance between an industrial commodity and something essential and necessary for existence. It is no surprise how disensouling modern industrialised existence is. A commodity produces only energy, not sustenance.

Gossip was once a subsistence activity. It happened at the well, or on the road and was the only way for information to pass through a subsistence society. It was an opportunity to create and enhance connections and relationships within a close-knit community. Thinking on the racter of Johhnypateenmike in Martin McDonagh's "The Cripple of Inishman" who makes his living by bartering gossip for goods and services (had to get a reference to an Irish play didn't I!), can I deduce that subsistence gossip is both valued and valuable?

Alas, Gossip has been industrialised, mechanised, and reticulated. It has been completely commodified. What has happened to news is not unlike what happened to food. News is now gathered and processed by information factories, before being packed (complete with artificial colours, preservatives, and flavour enhancers) and distributed into the homes of information consumers. The hapless consumer must perform shadow work to turn this commodity back into something useful. Not content to merely industrialise the news, society now synthesises gossip in the form of movies, sitcoms, dramas, and other entertainment commodities. Like a breeder nuclear reactor, the synthetic gossip industry feeds on its own bi-products to creates a derivative product, "celebrity gossip". The waste from this industry is deadly and lasts a very long time. Can anyone perform enough shadow work to turn this synthetic gossip commodity into something useful without becoming psychologically radioactive?

Aside: Draw your own conclusions from the observation that televisions and computers, the prime channels for the reticulation of industrialised gossip are now the centre of the home, not the hearth (Poor Hestia). Perhaps most insidious is the industrialisation of out most intimate gossip in the talk-factories of the therapy industry. The commodity sold to consumers by psychotherapy requires an inordinate amount of shadow work to turn it into something useful and, rather perversely, it simultaneously disables the consumer's ability to perform the requisite shadow work. This is comparable to giving a starving man tinned food in exchange for his tin opener. Industry, in producing a commodity, simultaneously creates the need for shadow work to make it useful, with its associated psychological cost.

Subsistence activities don't need shadow work: their intent is existence an their products are fundamental to our being. Quixotically, the shadow of subsistence activity (and it must have one) is also a subsistence activity, so that both sides carry unique value, just like grammatical gender.
Peter Fyfe, June 2000, Sydney, Australia.

Top

Artistic Director : Enrique Pardo

Honorary President : James Hillman

Festival Advisors : Liza Mayer, Nor Hall, Ciannait Clancy, Charles Boer, Jay Livernois

Produced by
Pantheatre, Paris (Dir. Enrique Pardo and Linda Wise)
Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford (Dir. Caroline Senior)
Minc Theatre, Ireland (Dir. Ciannait Clancy)

in collaboration of
Red Kettle Theatre, Waterford (Dir. Ben Hennessy)
Charmenko
, London (Dir. Nick Hobbs)

Spring Journal and Publications, USA
www.springpub.com


Check the New Orleans 1999 Myth and Theatre Festival
Hermes - Quick, Cool and Crooked

Festival Report

Editorial

Titles of Lectures

Forum and Questionnaire

Lecturers & Teachers  

Schedule & Typical Day 


Biographies

Lectures / Master Classes