March 19, 1915 – May 20, 2018
— William Shakespeare | HAMLET Act 4, Scene 5
— William Shakespeare | HAMLET Act 4, Scene 5
FORTIS SE VINCIT: “He conquers who conquers himself”
For Ortega y Gasset, philosophy has a critical duty to lay siege to beliefs in order to promote new ideas and to explain reality. To accomplish such tasks, the philosopher must—as Husserl proposed—leave behind prejudices and previously existing beliefs, and investigate the essential reality of the universe. Ortega y Gasset proposes that philosophy must overcome the limitations of both idealism (in which reality centers around the ego) and ancient-medieval realism (in which reality is outside the subject) to focus on the only truthful reality: “my life”—the life of each individual. He suggests that there is no ‘me’ without things, and things are nothing without me: “I” (human being) cannot be detached from “my circumstance” (world). This led Ortega y Gasset to pronounce his famous maxim “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” (“I am I and my circumstance”) (Meditaciones del Quijote, 1914) which he always put at the core of his philosophy.
For Ortega y Gasset, as for Husserl, the Cartesian ‘cogito ergo sum‘ is insufficient to explain reality. Therefore, the Spanish philosopher proposes a system wherein the basic or “radical” reality is “my life” (the first yo), which consists of “I” (the second yo) and “my circumstance” (mi circunstancia). This circunstancia is oppressive; therefore, there is a continual dialectical interaction between the person and his or her circumstances and, as a result, life is a drama that exists between necessity and freedom.
In this sense Ortega y Gasset wrote that life is at the same time fate and freedom, and that freedom “is being free inside of a given fate. Fate gives us an inexorable repertory of determinate possibilities, that is, it gives us different destinies. We accept fate and within it we choose one destiny.” In this tied down fate we must therefore be active, decide and create a “project of life”—thus not be like those who live a conventional life of customs and given structures who prefer an unconcerned and imperturbable life because they are afraid of the duty of choosing a project.
With a philosophical system that centered around life, Ortega y Gasset also stepped out of Descartes‘ cogito ergo sum and asserted “I live therefore I think”. This stood at the root of his Kantian-inspired perspectivism, which he developed by adding a non-relativistic character in which absolute truth does exist and would be obtained by the sum of all perspectives of all lives, since for each human being life takes a concrete form and life itself is a true radical reality from which any philosophical system must derive. In this sense, Ortega coined the terms “razón vital” (“vital reason” or “reason with life as its foundation”) to refer to a new type of reason that constantly defends the life from which it has surged and “raciovitalismo”, a theory that based knowledge in the radical reality of life, one of whose essential components is reason itself. This system of thought, which he introduces in History as System, escaped from Nietzsche’s vitalism in which life responded to impulses; for Ortega, reason is crucial to create and develop the above-mentioned project of life.
For Ortega y Gasset, vital reason is also “historical reason”, for individuals and societies are not detached from their past. In order to understand a reality we must understand, as Dilthey pointed out, its history. In Ortega’s words, humans have “no nature, but history” and reason should not focus on what is (static) but what becomes (dynamic).
— excerpted from “Jose Ortega y Gasset”, WIKIPEDIA
… the Castilian philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, perhaps the greatest literary stylist of all time. His philosophy (“I am myself, plus my circumstance”), of which I am an ardent follower, is, I believe, superior to that of any other philosopher in history. It is easy to understand and practice, perhaps the only philosophy of which that can be said.
… Ortega practiced that sublime and humble habit of never taking himself seriously, which proves that he not only preached but practiced his own philosophy.
When in the year 2000 the philosophers in history are reviewed and evaluated, Ortega y Gasset should be accorded the rank that up to the present, unfortunately, has been accorded him only in Europe.
— excerpted from “The Ship in the Bottle”, THE SHIP IN THE BOTTLE AND OTHER ESSAYS, 1967, Felix Marti-Ibanez
Jenn Colella performs “Everybody Says Don’t” from ANYONE CAN WHISTLE
— William Shakespeare | HAMLET Act 4, Scene 5
Wesla Whitfield with the Kronos Quartet – Harry Warren Medley
Wesla Whitfield – Give Me A Kiss To Build a Dream On
Wesla Whitfield – Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
Wesla Whitfield – My Foolish Heart
Wesla Whitfield – Love Is Here To Stay
Wesla Whitfield – This Can’t Be Love
Wesla Whitfield – Some Other Time
The Counting of the Omer for 2018 is sunset of March 31 through sunset of May 18. Refer to COUNTING TO FIFTY post of 4-11-17 below.
Were it not for the fact that the Good News was widely reported that Jesus was resurrected after being crucified in his thirty-third year, Jesus would be a footnote in history and there would be no Christianity. The matter of the Resurrection was first established by numerous eyewitness testimonies. And Jesus did not appear only to various individuals; he also appeared to groups of individuals.
Christianity developed by transforming Jesus’ seemingly radical message about God into a doctrine about Jesus himself. For it is significant to recognize that the testimonies are about a Jesus who was resurrected — he was physically alive again after being physically dead. Although Jesus could appear and disappear, Jesus was not merely a ghost appearing here and there. Ghosts have always been, and still are, rather commonplace. It is very specifically established that Jesus was resurrected — the resurrected Jesus could be touched and he could eat. Only a Resurrection could manifest the sheer awe necessary to inspire the Jesus movement into becoming Christianity.
Shown above is Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas” (1601-1602), also known as “Saint Thomas Putting his Finger on Christ’s Wound”. Inspired by Chapter 20 of The Gospel According to John, Caravaggio captures the moment when the doubting disciple Thomas is casting aside all his doubts that this man really is a resurrected Jesus. This encounter is related in John 20:24-29:
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Because of the Resurrection, it can be said that Jesus completed in less than three years a ministry that was to affect the whole of civilization, and from its humble beginnings was to spread to every corner of the earth. While Christianity hinges on the awe inspired by that Resurrection, the axis of Christianity is GOD IS LOVE.
Jesus offered a model, a platform, indeed an action plan of behavior for living and the manifestation of God — love — on earth. Whether or not that manifestation will become “status quo”, we cannot tell. But if it does not, it will not be Jesus or Christianity that failed.
Meantime, Christians will keep on faithfully practicing. The operative word here is “faithfully”. For where awe ends, faith begins.
HE LIVES | “This sort of realistic painting, showing a triumphant Christ, is disparaged by the art cognoscenti, but it is very popular, and in fact Simon Dewey is one of the most visible religious artists of the late 20th century. The message is strong and direct: Christ is risen, he is the Saviour. The stone is rolled away, and darkness and death are behind him.” — from http://jesus-story.net/painting_resurrection.htm
In Christianity, the “Easter lily” is a symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus. The lily remains highly regarded in the Church, particularly because Jesus references the flower, saying “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27).
“Ballad of the Goodly Fere” is an Ezra Pound poem first published in 1909. The narrator is Simon the Zealot speaking after the Resurrection about his memories of Jesus (the “goodly fere”— Old English for “companion”— of the title).
According to Wikipedia, Pound wrote the poem as a direct response to what he considered inappropriately effeminate portrayals of Jesus, comparing Jesus—a “man o’ men”—to “capon priest(s)”; he subsequently told T.P.’s Weekly that he had “been made very angry by a certain sort of cheap irreverence”.
It is curious and apparently unknown why Pound chose Simon the Zealot to witness about the Resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps it is because Simon is the most obscure of the disciples? Scripture tells us pretty much nothing about him. In the Gospels, he is mentioned in three places where his name is listed with the 12 disciples. Like most of the other disciples, Simon deserted Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. In Acts 1:13 we are advised that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Jesus the Christ had ascended to heaven. One Church tradition holds that Simon spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia.
So we don’t know where Simon came from and what became of him. Thanks to Ezra Pound, perhaps we have as good a perspective as we’ll ever have of what Simon was about through his very telling and compelling testimony attesting that HE IS RISEN.
Simon Zelotes speaking after the Crucifixion; Fere = Mate, Companion
Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.
When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.
Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
“Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?” says he.
Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine
When we last made company,
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere
But a man o’ men was he.
I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.
They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book I think
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.
If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere
They are fools to the last degree.
“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Though I go to the gallows tree.”
“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead,” says he,
“Ye shall see one thing to master all:
‘Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”
A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.
I have seen him upon the tree.
He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free,
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue
But never a cry cried he.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee,
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the grey o’ the sea,
Like the sea that brooks no voyaging
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke’ suddently.
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea,
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.
I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb
Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.
THE RESURRECTION | Robert Clark Forest Lawn Memorial Park
70′ wide x 51′ high Glendale, California
HERE IS WHAT EXUBERANT LOVE IS LIKE AS A SONG:
HERE IS WHAT INSPIRATION IS LIKE AS A SONG:
“NO GOODBYES” — HERE IS WHAT A RAINBOW IS LIKE AS A SONG:
— William Shakespeare | HAMLET Act 4, Scene 5
Actors from the Commedia dell’Arte | Jan Miel
Oxford dictionaries define “typology” as “a classification according to general type, especially in archeology, psychology, or the social sciences”, and “the study and interpretation of types and symbols, originally especially in the Bible.” One general “type” is that of the human being. Each human being has four levels of being or consciousness — Intuition, Intellect, Emotion, Instinct. These are the four primary psychological archetypes, corresponding to the four archetypal elements of Fire, Air, Water, Earth respectively.
Properly following through with the other variables and accurate formulations, a typological schematic emerges. I had long ago arrived at the vantage point that foursquare typologies (and foursquare systems at large as far as that goes) yielded the apt path — elegant, non-reductionistic, wholistic, and dynamically useful.
Below is a small portion of the 33 Gateway Lane Orientation Matrix, which includes in turquoise color the corresponding MBTI schematic. The Theatre of the Enterprising Spirit schematic is in red color.
RED YELLOW BLUE GREEN
INSPIRATION CONCEPTION FORMULATION ACTUATION
DOROTHY SCARECROW TIN MAN LION
FIRE AIR WATER EARTH
WANDS SWORDS CUPS PENTACLES
IMPROVISATION LEGITIMATE VAUDEVILLE BURLESQUE
INTUITION INTELLECT EMOTION INSTINCT
REALM REALM REALM REALM
NT (“Intuition”) ST (“Thinking”) NF (“Feeling”) SF (“Sensing”)
Page of Wands Page of Swords Page of Cups Page of Pentacles
Intuition of Improv Intuition of Legit Intuition of Vaudeville Intuition of Burlesque
INTP ISTP INFP ISFP
Knight of Wands Knight of Swords Knight of Cups Knight of Pentacles
Intellect of Improv Intellect of Legit Intellect of Vaudeville Intellect of Burlesque
ENTP ESTP ENFP ESFP
Queen of Wands Queen of Swords Queen of Cups Queen of Pentacles
Emotion of Improv Emotion of Legit Emotion of Vaudeville Emotion of Burlesque
INTJ ISTJ INFJ ISFJ
King of Wands King of Swords King of Cups King of Pentacles
Instinct of Improv Instinct of Legit Instinct of Vaudeville Instinct of Burlesque
ENTJ ESTJ ENFJ ESFJ
And so went the conversations with Gregg in talking about correspondences, typology, and related concepts vis-a-vis the theatre of the enterprising spirit. We had touched on such matters piecemeal and in a fragmented superficial fashion through the years. Discussions were now much easier since the vantage point was “big picture” oriented rather than dinging reductively around the trees in the forest.
It helped that Gregg was no longer engaged in resisting typology due to the typical egotistic impulses of rejecting anything that supposedly seemed to suggest he wasn’t totally unique and one-of-a-kind. “HOW”, the human ego says, “could I be placed into a category with others as being so similar and identifiable. No ‘system’ can identify me!”
The point is that typology establishes a non-reductionistic blueprint. A BLUEPRINT. Like DNA. The more we understand and explore our unique blueprint, the more we can understand ourselves and can move forward in healthy empowering integration.
It also takes the spirited vantage point to recognize that we are, as Maya Angelou and other enterprising spirits have opined, more alike than different. But it is equally important to recognize that individuals are different in many ways due to factors such as circumstances and experience, and their resulting diverse ways as such merit respect and consideration. We are quick to egotistically fear and judge others who are not lock-stepping to our own unique pilgrimage of the spirit.
So after many conversations and debates and enough fascinating recollections by Gregg to fill a book or two, we finally settled on our respective four picks for the positions in Improv. Gregg maintains his finalized selections are Carol Burnett, George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, and Lenny Bruce. My finalized selections are Wanda Sykes, Chris Rock, Phyllis Diller, and Joan Rivers.
The initial concept of simply choosing one “master practitioner” or archetypal example for each of the four types of theatre — Improv, Legit, Vaudeville, Burlesque — had fallen by the wayside along the way as we delved into the foursquare nature of typology. We still needed, in effect, to identify for Improvisation our equivalents of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
GREGG AND HERMIONE GINGOLD, 1977 — Gregg’s friendship with the one-and-only Hermione Gingold actually dated back to the 1940s when they met at a big party out on the East Coast because the host paired them off for a ballroom rumba dance competition — which they won, much to their everlasting delight! Hermione Gingold was successfully at home on stage, big screen, radio, and television for many, many decades and certainly an adept in the wild, wild west territory of Improvisation.
“Oh for crying out loud!” I proclaimed.
“What’s the matter?” asked Gregg.
“I just realized that I must give my Master of Improv designation to Uta Hagen!”
“That’s an interesting choice, but I can’t imagine,” he responded. “She was one of our greatest actresses. I can easily see her as your choice for the Master of Legitimate theatre you were talking about — she might be my pick for that too. But Improvisation?”
“Yep!” I proclaimed with great finality. “I seem to remember your telling me that you saw her on stage on Broadway?”
“Oh, yes. Several times through the years. She took over for Jessica Tandy in A Streetcar Named Desire, and she was quite wonderful in that. I also saw her in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf — she originated the role of Martha, you know.”
“Yes, I know. Did you think she was extraordinary in that?”
“No question,” he noted, thinking back. “I saw her in The Country Girl of course. There were others, the names will come to me. Yes, an extraordinary actress. Very special. But Improvisation? I don’t see it.”
He was clearly dubious.
“I’m sure I told you about my Uta Hagen experience at the time.”
“Mrs. Klein,” was his response. “That’s the name of one of the plays I saw that I couldn’t recall — Mrs. Klein. Yes, I do have a vague memory of you telling me something about Uta Hagen. I want to hear about this.”
My favorite experience of Improv was attending a solo stage performance by that legendary stage actress and acting teacher Uta Hagen. Billed as “An Evening With Uta Hagen”, the theatrical fundraising event for a Los Angeles acting school was actually a master acting class in disguise. Life-changing experiences like that teach you what Reality is NOT. So many people spend a lifetime ostensibly chasing Reality, but actually it’s well advised and much more efficient to discern what Reality is NOT. Similarly, many people spend an inordinate amount of time and energy chasing down affirmations and validations for what they already know or think they know or want to believe is true. Such seems like a vicious chasing of one’s tail in an effort to fill the black hole of Ego — which emerges as an exercise in futility because the Ego is insatiable. The real journey is in learning what is it that one does NOT know. THAT constitutes the high adventure of the enterprising spirit learning to live by living to learn.
I must say there had been moments when I temporarily tossed that banner of My Enduring Favorite in Improv to Uta Hagen — full stop, all hands down — due actually to one single opportune improvisational moment I heard about. It took place many decades ago during one particular theatrical performance on the Legitimate stage.
Note well that Uta Hagen was undisputedly in all four of its dimensions a master of the Legitimate stage. Certainly in her role as an acting coach or conducting a master class, she cultivated her mastery of the Improv stage and that would have naturally influenced her greatly on the Legit stage. But she considered Legit theatre her “home base” — her beloved stage of action — and she loved that stage with great intensity and devotion for a long, illustrious career.
So why periodically toss that banner at Uta Hagen for temporary custody? It’s a legendary theatre story that still makes me hoot with laughter every time I think about it. The anecdote originated with actor Anthony Quinn who related the episode with great relish, wit, and gusto for several decades.
The sublime improvisational moment happened when Quinn was a young, hot movie actor new to stage acting. In fact, he hadn’t really done anything in theatre. In the decades of relating the anecdote he always freely stated he didn’t know what the hell he was doing on stage at that time. Back in the day of his stage actor beginnings, Uta Hagen was already an established, respected Legitimate stage actress.
Taking over in 1947 for stellar players Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy of the original Broadway cast of Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Quinn scored the coveted role of Stanley with Uta Hagen starring in the role of Blanche.
Anthony Quinn as Stanley and Uta Hagen as Blanche
on Broadway in Tennessee Williams’ classic play “A Streetcar Named Desire”
A scene ends where Stanley is about to rape Blanche on the bed. End of scene, stage lights off. Hardcore heavy-duty drama stuff.
In one particular performance, the bright and harsh stage lighting did NOT shut off. This left Stanley exposed to the audience properly positioned as being about to rape Blanche. Quinn was frozen in position on the bed with Blanche. He waited — he prayed! — for the lights to PLEASE, GOD go off. He froze mentally as well, unable to wonder what the hell to do, paralyzed with stage fright in this absurd and unexpected situation.
But apparently not awkward for Uta Hagen.
Raising her head up toward Quinn, she impatiently yet with crisp diction whispered her directive: “Rape me, you idiot!”
I still roar with laughter when thinking about the young, inexperienced Anthony Quinn in that situation. He related that he only became more confused and was caught between wanting to break out in laughter and wondering how the hell he would go about acting in response to her order.
Mercifully the lights eventually went off, putting him out of his misery. But Ms. Hagen was severely critical with Quinn for quite some time for not improvising through the situation.
I determined before going to “An Evening With Uta Hagen” that if I had the opportunity, I was going to ask Ms. Hagen to corroborate Quinn’s story. I did have the privilege to meet and have a bit of private time with her after the “show”. But we spoke of important issues about playwriting; she shared a couple secrets about that, and frankly I utterly forgot to ask about the anecdote.
But I experienced Uta Hagen in action on stage during one of her excursions on the Improv stage – instantaneously becoming a 16-year-old girl one minute, brilliantly answering audience questions, and acting the part of a legendary “prima donna” actress the next minute. She ranged from tirades about acting and actors to demonstrating how to effectively use props, to sharing life experiences and anecdotes.
The theatre was filled to overflowing with an audience of the public along with actors. Note well that through the course of the “show”, some of us in the audience knew Uta Hagen was actually laser-beamed on the audience response to her and calibrating her “act” accordingly. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a master of Improvisation in performance.
Despite my intention of specifically watching how Uta Hagen worked, such was her overwhelming power of enchantment that when she became the 16-year-old girl, right along with the rest of the audience I saw and heard a 16-year-old girl. Or when she vigorously declared that Marlon Brando — still alive at the time and fodder for the gossip rags — should get the hell out of acting because you shouldn’t be in a profession that you belittle and degrade. Right there along with the rest of the audience I was declaring in my head “Damn right! He should get the hell out of acting!”
Well. After experiencing Uta Hagen’s “show” and directly interacting with her? I surely had the answer to my forgotten query. If I didn’t, then I must be vying for a role as Village Idiot.
“So that’s that,” I stated to Gregg, concluding my excursion into recollection. “Uta Hagen is my pick for Master of Improvisation and I’m delighted!”
“I don’t blame you!” grinned Gregg, now comprehending my choice.
I was about to be way dubious about his choice for Master of Improv, but our unique experiences and perspectives were all part of the fun. And what the hell — there are no “wrong” choices in this little adventure.
Have you made your picks for Improv?
Actors from the Commedia dell’Arte on a Wagon in a Town Square | Jan Miel