On the 132nd bearing ceremony of Eugene O’Neill, the Shakespeare of American Theater, the catechism is: did he anytime die?
It was in the seventh brand that I aboriginal abstruse about the Big Bang; the space-time aberancy that captivated the cosmos in its womb, again BOOM! Afore it was nothing, afterwards it would be nothing; average there is something. The after-effects and particles of Starlight biking hundreds of bags of years, millions of miles, until they applique into the eyeballs and drown. “We are, all of us, stardust, built-in of the aforementioned abyss over thirteen billion years back,” I wonder, “But area is the memory?”
Who was it that lived in your anatomy fifteen years ago? Was it you, the aforementioned you that you now alarm “I”? Who would it be in addition fifteen years? Are we but palimpsests of our memories? Eugene O’Neill corrective our lives as diminutive specks in the colossus of amplitude alveolate in the all-knowing drumroll of time active to our own demise. He is adamant in advertisement the skull clad in bark and slug, wringing out the balance baptize from his ancestors blood-soaked in nostalgia.
“The accomplished is the present, isn’t it? It is the future, too. We all try to lie out of that but activity won’t let us.” The malady of Mary, the assuming of O’Neill’s mother, Ella, in his autobiographical masterpiece Long Day’s Journey into Night, is a malady of the knots – a actual caricature of the accomplished spilling into the present and the future. Rheumatism blueprints Mary’s brainy state. Living average absolute absent-mindedness and affected anamnesis, Mary’s acceptance in herself has been bedridden by the acquainted accommodation not to become a nun or a concert pianist but to ally James Tyrone who adores her but about consistently misunderstands Mary, and is, in turn, about consistently misunderstood.
Throughout the play, Mary is pushed to paranoia by her ancestors members’ connected reminders of her Morphine addiction. They watch her watching them watch her. What is it about the boring that sucks us in? Aback someone, an-other, looks at us, their lenses reflect the angel of ourselves. And aback we accommodated their gaze, watching ourselves in the eyes of an-other activates the Narcissus aftereffect – the admiration to asphyxiate in the eyes absorption the angel of our own. The agnate for “ghost” in assertive Indo-Aryan languages is “Bhoot,” cogent that which has already been viewed. Dragging her bells clothes beyond anamnesis lanes, Mary time-travels and freezes herself in the accomplished as a abbey girl, unmarried, addictive and apparitional by the apparition of herself.
In fact, every ancestors affiliate in Journey has fabricated block ghosts their forte. James Tyrone is magnetized by his asleep mother who wore the crucifix of abjection like a album about her neck. Fear is contagious; it makes nomads of the minds and steers us acclaim appear self-destruction. James buys added and added acreage to stop the mudslide beneath his feet. Unburdened by pride or shame, he wants to accelerate his own son, Edmund, to the cheapest bedlam on baleful accident from tuberculosis.
James had abstruse “the amount of a dollar” at home, accepting been kicked out assorted times for falling aback on the rent: his mother, two sisters, and himself at the age of ten – a assignment adamantine learned, never to unlearn. He, too, lives in following of his apparition – what he ability accept been – a Shakespearean amateur bathed in glory, consistently “alive in his abundant poetry.” The alarm of afterlife in defalcation had nailed the casket of his dreams. “We are such actuality as dreams are fabricated on,” James quotes from The Tempest, “And our little activity is angled with a sleep.”
“We are such actuality as admixture is fabricated of,” Edmund counters with archetypal morbidness and cynicism, rubbed off on by Jamie, his ancient brother and role model. Jamie is a walking contradiction. He looks like his ancestor but doesn’t; about handsome but isn’t; kissed by the dusk, yet dusky. He had measles at the age of seven, advance it to his baby brother, Eugene, who had after succumbed to it. Since then, Mary had bedevilled Jamie to activity confined by bitterness, skepticism, animalism and drunkenness. Fratricide! Trailing the apparition of his brother, Jamie nosedives into the mist.
Edmund, the youngest, fancies actuality buried by the fog; his name actuality the alone affected adjustment. The actuality that the author, Eugene, trades his name with his ancient brother who died in adolescence betrays the axis of blackout and absence. In life, Edmund dies to accord Eugene life; in the play, Eugene dies and Edmund is conceived to alter the adolescent deceased. Taking the bearing of Edmund as the accident that absorbed Mary to the aggravate to boot, we apprehend why Edmund calls himself “a apparition aural a ghost.”
In essence, O’Neill’s bulk explores caliginosity of afterlife in activity itself. Hades was his mentor, Poseidon his priest. The sea is the alone abode he capital to be, for the sea is aggregate the apple is not. Aggregate dissolves in the sea; dissolves, again dissipates, assuredly disappears. The sea is the adulterated grave of memories. “We charge suffer, ache into truth,” Aeschylus said. For O’Neill’s activity of absolute absent-mindedness untying the knots of accomplished sufferings, amphitheater was the absolute medium.
Theater is the bend that impales, holds a mirror afore the admirers and confined all exit. The assemblage – bedimmed, ashen – are axial to meaning-making, for the agent of both “theory” and “theater” is theoria – “to watch.” The admirers watch the characters watching the admirers – basic centrifugal patterns of concentric circles anytime absorption until they assemble at the nuclear amount and implode, drowning not aloof the eyes but the minds from the arcade into the stage, breaking time and space, breaking barriers.
Writing himself enabled O’Neill to acknowledgment that age-old existential catechism for the theater: “Who am I?” The answer, “No-body,” adorning the border to transcend the actual with the natural. He stammers and limps beyond the date of life. But already he starts advance the borders of the “I,” he belongs “without accomplished or future, aural accord and accord and a agrarian joy, aural article greater than my own life, or the activity of Man, to Activity itself,” Edmund finds the abstract in the artlessness of “green seaweed anchored to a rock, acceptable in the tide,”. From a creature, he becomes the creator.
Gazing at the “dim starred sky” lacing into his eyes, Edmund is artificial into an epiphany – his “I” diminishes in the eyes of the cosmos – the abstruse he sees and becomes cannot be expressed, alone experienced; actuality riverrun, the epiphany sails at the interstices of actuality and nothingness. It is what assertive Tantric discourses appellation “awareness” and “becoming,” accident the existential all-overs arising from the identification with and axis of the “I.” Edmund charge consistently be “a little in adulation with death” because he was never born, and therefore, can never die. The “I” from fifteen years ago is not the “I” of today or the “I” twenty years from now; skating the glaciers of Evolution entails no teleology or accomplished product. Activity is about arresting the apple absolute in all its development and memories spanning thirteen billion years; to be kissed by the dark and dissolve, spinning the auto of adversity till the brume melts amidst the falls, aberrant accuracy and the account of immortality.
S M Mahfuzur Rahman is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Humanities at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB).
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