Off to the Races
It's amazing how infantile I can be at times. I was reflecting on my last entry and realizing my hypocrisy. Let me just say this: one, I acknowledge that Spencer is not implying that good art can't say something; he's merely pointing out that one must be wary of art that can only be interpreted in one way because it smacks of propaganda (and I would agree that Rhinoceros could be perceived this way). And two: critics take a lot of flack in the art world but they serve a necessary function in advancing the quality of art and holding artists accountable to certain standards. Criticism is not an easy job and, as in every job, there will always be those who are better at it and those who aren't as efficacious. As they have grace for us, so we should have grace for them and not be too quick to dismiss their thoughtful observations-even if they do rub us the wrong way from time to time.
On to other things: we have plunged headlong once again into the insanity of the Thirteen-Week World of post-secondary education. Why, pray tell, do we torture ourselves thus? I think of the first Matrix movie: Agent Smith says that the utopian matrixes they built failed because humans kept rejecting the program; instead, the machines discovered that we needed a broken world because we define our reality by pain and suffering. Perhaps the university world exemplifies this ideaJ. But seriously, think about it: is our character forged in the breezes of happiness and contentment or in the fires of trials and hardships?
On to still other things. The show is cast and I am delighted with my cast and crew (if you're reading this, Rhinos, hello!). We had our first read-through yesterday and I think it went very well. Stimulating discussion ensued around bourgeois conformity, humility, authentic living, tolerance and moral standards. I found it quite enlightening and I think we were all challenged and excited to grapple with this wonderful play. We touched on the idea that Ionesco was not trying say that facism is bad (a statement with which most people seem to agree) but rather that subscription to any conformist ideology is problematic. Julian Wulbern, in his book Brecht and Ionesco: Commitment in Context says it best:
"what Ionesco is saying . . . is not simply that totalitarianism is evil because it engenders blind, thoughtless, and inhuman behavior, but rather that what he conceives of as the bourgeois mode of thinking is evil because it is blind, thoughtless, and inhuman and because it engenders totalitarianism. The villains of the piece are thus not the rhinoceroses, but the logicians, the storekeepers, the Botards, the Dudards, the Jeans, the Daisys, and even the Berengers, for it is they who virtually call rhinoceritis into being by their callous complacency and by their fear of being different." (130)
I think Wulbern is on to something here. More on this later.