(hit play button above to watch my short film “whipping”)
Two Characters Caught in an Absurd Interregnum in Act I
Manity, a man aged 33
Hermès Terminus (H.T.), a god appearing aged 55
Two British Naval yeoman from the War of 1812
Three young sailors, ranging from preteen to age 14
A Debauched Authorial Voice
SCENE: A walled compound. Fifteen foot tall wall composed of large white bricks upstage, the width of the proscenium. Behind it we see a mountainous scene, composed of three massifs the width of the proscenium. The wall obscures the horizon line. There are a few block houses in the distance upstage right. A hillock where two men stand…
Manity: Are u a god?
Hermès Terminus: Good stuff, isn’t it?
Manity: What is this we’re smoking? Hey, what gives? I don’t smoke.
Hermès Terminus: Yes, but you’ve willed this from your imagination — or rather, your imagination thrust this out from the inchoate blackness of your subconscious — and there you go, you’re smoking a black russian.
Manity: Wha’?… Should I call you Hermès or Terminus?
Hermès Terminus: Just call me H.T.
Manity: Are you my psychopomp?
Hermès Terminus: Seriously, you believe in gods?
Hermès Terminus: Who does anymore? It’s no longer a viable vocation. No more wonder. No more respect, or veneration. We’re a forgotten lot.
Manity: Why are we here in this walled area?
Hermès Terminus: It’s my place. Welcome. It’s also the parameters you’re dealing with now. You know you have the utmost freedom here. You don’t actually have to have us inhabit this walled compound. The walls could be metaphoric. It doesn’t have to be this way. You wrote this little tableaux.
Manity: But the opium. I’ve never smoked opium before.
Hermès Terminus: And you still haven’t. It’s the choice you made, or rather what piqued you’re interest, because it was said just so when someone threw out a writing prompt in that other world you inhabit. Only you really know why we’re here, and then it might be deeply imbedded in your subconscious, so you may not be fully aware of it.
Manity: Yes, but why at this moment. That wall. That horizon line. This hillock. And what is that bizarre looking tree?
Hermès Terminus: Ah, yes, the honey locust… a wonderful specimen… but listen we’re here now because it’s merely the device to get into this story. It sprung half-baked — or fully formed — from the font in your story place. It’s also a good place to start without having to talk about the weather. There ain’t no hook in starting a story talking about the relative humidity.
Manity: Two things. I had every intention of talking to you about the barometric pressure; and I don’t like your typical linear narrative. I was thinking about doing an anti-story… but it looks like we’ve already ended up in a play.
Hermès Terminus: Why not do an anti-play? An absurd tragi-comedy in 3.14159 Acts.
Manity: What about 452 lines?
Hermès Terminus: Only one act? Where did that number of lines come from?
Manity: Something of my own paranoiac-critical method… did you know that the barometric pressure is …
Hermès Terminus: Aw, no. No. No. No! It’s still early, you can salvage the opening with a hook. A hook! There are time tested ways to do this. Canonical ways. The pedagogical-industrial ways. The workshopped ways of doing this. And the apotheosis of paths: market research and the test audience questionnaire.
Manity: Ack! Ack! Ack!
Hermès Terminus: Are you doing a cover of the Minutemen?
Manity: No. Never speak of audience research again or I’ll turn into a ferret.
Hermès Terminus: You mean a polecat?
In this manner the formal devolution announces itself…
A Voice: Ontologically speaking a ferret knows nothing of its being. Its existence is not a quandary to it, it has no conception of existence. Therefore I mercilessly throw him off the hate truck and all the locust tree thorns make a beeline for it. Out to puncture it’s consciousness to make it aware of epistemology, ontology, and phenomenology. But the ferret has its own plan, it’ll go along with the British impressment of sailors for no other reason than it likes a good Anglophile angle on everything it does. And believe me: it does know. It also knows Husserl, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre, and as the ferret prepares his thesis defense it floats with the certainty of a life well squandered and a squab well ripped to shreds for dinner. Just don’t call him a marmot or a polecat. That’ll get you a mouthful.
A Debauched Authorial Voice: And in this manner it all digressed, dear reader. Somewhere the ghost of Laurence Sterne wanders the long dark halls of absurd serialization, and Tristram Shandy sits at the base of a wall wondering why the world is bereft of meaning… I don’t know… do you?
Fade to Black. Distant explosions heard long after curtain falls.
“I did not want to write, but I had to resign myself to it in the end.”
— Samuel Beckett