Richard Foreman: The Gods Are Pounding My Head!

Not a lot to say on this piece of surrealist theater, since I’m not versed so much in the influences that inform Foreman’s work, nor in the skills needed to analyze the very open-ended symbolism of the play. But here is Foreman’s note on the play, which, besides providing invaluable pointers on what he’s getting at, stands on its own:

This very—to my mindॾlegiac play does delineate my own philosophical dilemma. I come from a tradition of Western culture in which the ideal (my ideal) was the complex, dense and “cathedral-like” structure of the highly educated and articulate personalityॺ man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West.

And such multi-faceted evolved personalities did not hesitate— especially during the final period of “Romanticism-Modernism”—to cut down , like lumberjacks, large forests of previous achievement in order to heroically stake new claim to the ancient inherited land— this was the ploy of the avant-garde.

But today, I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”. A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritanceॺs we all become “pancake people”—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.

Will this produce a new kind of enlightenment or “super-consciousness”? Sometimes I am seduced by those proclaiming soॺnd sometimes I shrink back in horror at a world that seems to have lost the thick and multi-textured density of deeply evolved personality.

But, at the end, hope still springs eternal…

There are echoes here of “The Hedgehog and the Fox”, as memorably referenced by Sam Jones, so perhaps the dichotomy between a wide-ranging fenceposter and a burrowing hedgehog is not that new. Perhaps it’s been there since Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, about which someone (I can’t remember who) said that it was the last time that someone could lay claim to all the written knowledge in the world. But the problem has certainly gotten worse lately, something you become acutely conscious of while writing a weblog like this one.

Also see this set of Richard Foreman interviews.

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