dead essex

Trying to remember… going back to An Evening with Dead Essex, by Adrienne Kennedy, the best American playwright. It’s a remarkable piece, managing to complicate in an inspiring way the death of a mass killer. Post atrocity, there is so much energy expended in getting the story straight, in balancing the narrative and bringing it to stasis. This is obsessive in the news, but in our habits of myth-making as well. Dead is dead and wrong is wrong, but it’s impossible to get to where you need to get by means of story alone. You can’t make a tree with a saw, once you’ve started singing, you won’t have the whole song left to sing. We can’t firmly and finally articulate anything, but much less can we by story in particular (a saw, a song) get at the whole of death or guilt; we can insist that there were these deaths, that they were worthy of grief or outrage, that there must be a response – but the most effective address is to say where they are on the map… There is grief, on this side of our plans and possibilities; we can live there for a while, maybe move there forever. Knowledge of it is in our citizenship there, how we function inside it (buy bread, vote) – it’s definition is the sum of our actions when in it.


This is all coming up around a draft of a new Holy Innocents play I’m trying to write – it’s kicking me down the road; I’m beginning it and beginning it….

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