Saturday, April 14, 2012

Alec Clune's book "The British Theatre" begins, "In the beginning was not the words, but the grunt and the gesture.:

And before that, I think, the humming silence, alive with knowing.

Sometimes performance, done with heart and skill, goes back there, before the beginning, and there is a living pause that says everything.

Performers have to be gutsy and generous to give that pause its true length, because it definitely isn't about individual star people, but about the star stuff we're all made of telling us how to go on.

The phrase "the humming silence" I got from the book "The Mists of Avalon," a retelling of the Arthur legend by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Bradley wrote many books, under the science fiction label, with a lot about psychic communication. "The Mists of Avalon" which I think is by far her best book, doesn't have much, in quantity, about psychic activity, because it isn't inherent in the original material, but what it has is really strong.

Morgaine, a bad person and force for bad, in the original, is the main character and a whole other kind person in "The Mists of Avalon."

The book is largely about old nature religion, women powerful religion, versus uptight Christianity. There has been for centuries non-uptight Christianity, live and let believe, in England, but now a different, fierce Christianity has come to be the only one.

Morgaine is supposed to be a leader in saving the old religion, and she fails, partly because of her individual flaws and bad moves, and partly because the flow of history is flowing the other way. What it is possible for people to know is changing.

Arthur is king is was consecrate both ways, Christian and nature, or he never would have been accepted.

But now he's having Christian communion performed in a way that is, from Morgaine's point of knowing, a betrayal of his nature consecration and of the better reality.

She intuitively knows she needs to be at the ceremony, and she goes as a pathetic looking old woman in the crowd.

Because of her skilled, deep, magic prescence, communion is different and deeper. Not because she decides but because the deep uses her.