Girard: The Fairy's Tale. Part I - A Prose Poem for Performance



Introduction:

Fairyland is sponsoring an exhibit of three Bill Girard paintings, based on  Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mortal tourists are about to get the guided tour ... and perhaps learn more than they intended. But it's not too late! You can still join them. (Crash the gate!)

                                                           ______________


Robin:


Welcome, friends, to Fairyland! My name is Robin. I’m leading your Fascination with Fairies exhibit tour.

Take no offence if I hover overhead. I think you’ll find it easier to hear. When we were young, Big Folk loomed large. Today, to us, you’re walking walls.  

You use your legs. I’ll stick to wings. Stay close. Don’t stray. Enjoy this placid odyssey.

 Child:

Mommy. Mommy. There’s a butterboy!

Robin:

This Fascination with Fairies … And you, child, are a budding bard.

This exhibit explores four works by Bill Girard, our sweet, departed friend. Of course, you’ll see the paintings. We hope you’ll also glimpse his art.  

‘Butterboy’ is delicious.

But when we’re done you can explore much more. I’ll share links to his museum at tour’s end.

Child:

Can I have one, mom?  Please?

Robin:

Tom Thumb belongs to you?

Dear Mr. Thumb, Butterboys and girls are not for sale.

But, if your mother would let you stay in Fairyland, you could play with us, inside a real fairy tale.

Will you trade him for a rainbow, ma’am? That includes both ends! I’ll even add a pot of gold.

Tourist Mother:

Trade? Sven? My son?

Robin:

He’ll have lots of fun. We’ll teach him tricks. He’ll grow up, not old. Join us! Come along. Eat as many rainbows as you want. Be our guests.

Tourist Mother:

No. My God. Absolutely not.   

Robin:

My dear. I’m a fairy, not a troll. We love to offer gifts… and tests. Since you cannot lose, no surprise, you passed!

You see, my boss, the head of Fairyland, adores all kids. Young and younger, ours and yours.  

He takes a special interest in those without a loving home. He brings some here. Adopts and keeps them near.

He noticed Sven and took a shine. So I inquired on his behalf.

Moonlight blue, moonsight true, your poet is a happy sprout.

Sven, I see your future, day and night. If you are kind, she’ll be polite.

I can also promise, ma’am, that when you go home, your Sven will go home, too.  

Tourist Mother:

Oooh …Thank you.

Robin:

I just can’t promise the boss won’t make a clone.

 A few details before we start. There are privies on the premises. Enter any lavatory here and it will look just like the loo you used last at home. I hope you flushed! If you join a friend, pick one you trust.

No fairy tour would be complete without a chance to sample fairy treats. Admission includes all you can eat.

Help yourselves to rainbows while you’re here. Rainbows are our favorite comfort food. They’re light, intoxicating eats that fill us with good cheer.

Every color is a flavor. Every flavor is superb, until you try the next. What’s next is always best.

When your tour is over, you needn’t rush away. In Fairyland, you’re welcome to extend your stay. Celebrate or rest.

A favorite amenity of many guests is the profound relief that comes of releasing burdensome beliefs. It’s a perk we’re happy to facilitate. But only by request.

Which helps explain the lovely compliments proffered by guests.

Fairy Warning is legally required. By your standards, we are…  uninhibited. Nothing that we really need or want to do is legally prohibited.

To be clear, most fairies don’t do horrid any more. Like wicked, it’s taboo. On the other hand, we don’t discourage pranks. Fairyland would be far too bland without rapid-onset merriment, micro-bursts of mischief, thunderclaps of chaos, and god help us, real news.

For these reasons, Fairyland accepts no liability for interruptions to guest serenity, for any unexpected excitement and or enlightenment, or alternately, for all clearly necessary yet unrequested, unanticipated, or unwanted, completely irreversible yet wholly beneficial, which is to say, singularly salubrious, nearly instantaneous and fully antiseptic, and under no circumstances inappropriate or less than completely private, prophylaxis, that may occur, when by your presence or your absence, you explicitly accept, endorse, and enter in these premises.

Friends, I must come clean. I’ve no idea exactly what it means. But I love to share it anyway.

Now, What about where you all live? Is it safe to share what’s on your mind? Are strangers simply friends you haven’t met? Are your neighbors mostly kind? Are you accepted for who you are?

Tourists:

(Indistinct murmurs. Throat clearing.)

Robin:

I’m sorry. What’s that?

How many here live in fear of a Voldemort down the street?  Stop. Stop now. Look at me.
This is not a spell I need repeat.

You are released. Be at peace. All I see is what you know. There are many whose lives are flush with gratitude and many more adrift in woe.

I also see that far too many don’t feel safe. Too many are not welcome where they live. Rage lurks there in search of prey. Some can’t go. Some can’t stay.

Did you know, were you aware,  that what
many think are falling stars, are really angels ripped from flight?  You hadn’t heard?

When plumes of mortal prejudice rise especially high and thick, not even angels are immune.  Exposed to mere nanograms of taint, they fail, fall and burn.

The same searing flame that unseals our night, cauterizes mirth and song. Only Atlas shrugs and stumbles on.

Tourist:

I’m sorry. What’s this have to do with art? Or Girard?

Robin:

Of course, you’re wondering, ‘Why this harangue?  What’s this fairy on about?’

I tell you this because the world of Bill Girard, though vastly different, was still very much the same. No wonder he found us fascinating. Nor is it mere coincidence that you are here, as Fairyland honors him. Girard is now an honorary citizen!

Tourist:

Isn’t he gone? Deceased?

Robin:

Deceased? Yes. Forgotten or invisible? Absolutely not.

You’ve come to learn about his masterpieces. Shall we start?

The first painting on the tour is Girard’s Titania.



TitaniaArtist: Bill Girard. Royal Oak, MI. 1940-2011.

This Titania is William Shakespeare’s child. She sprang vividly to life in his classic stage comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream about 1596.

We do love Shakespeare, by the way. He, too, is greatly honored here.

Girard’s Titania portrait commands the eye. She rises like a mountain before a twilight sky.  She is a queen in Shakespeare’s play. Here, her calm and dignity are on display. She’s beautiful but also slightly sad, I think.

Girard wasn’t the first to paint this queen. Not at all. Fuseli’s Titania and Bottom—1790—is top notch. In that painting, too, Her Loveliness is the focus of the artist’s art. For Fuseli, her grace is centered on her sex. He makes a bullseye of her crotch. Hidden by a bit of cloth.




Henry Fuseli, Titania and Bottom, 1790, Tate (N01228), digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Fuseli’s vast, immodest masterpiece lives in London, England, at the Tate. Girard’s requires much less space and seems just as happy in a townhouse in Detroit.

However, I will shortly share an earlier Titania by Girard, one far less chaste. I have no doubt it would have been to mad Fuseli’s taste. Though it’s small, it is exquisite. Some find it the highlight of their visit.

Still, for others, reproductive organs are joys that should not been seen. If even the prettiest will spoil your day, then once we leave this more modest queen, please step away. Get a snack. Rejoin us, later, on the other side.

Fairies generally find attractive bodies quite aesthetic. We like dangles. We love fun. You like ornaments on Christmas trees. Decorate your own home anyway you please. Here, this is as we like it.   You have a question, sir?

Tourist:

Why prompted Girard to paint Titania?”

Robin:

That’s a question! Boldly put and exactly right.

First, I want to make it clear. This was not simple work to make.

Initially, it was a portrait of his wife, of Bonnie. It emerged, we believe, either shortly before, or during their dismembering divorce. But why?

Did he hope to discover what had gone amiss? Was it a way to say goodbye?

“Was it a raft he hoped would bear him, bear them both, across their flaws?

A symbol? A signal? A silent ululation?

Or all of these, and more? Or none of them at all?  Was it a last caress?

Bonnie fled the state. She flew away. With their children. With his best friend. To the western edge of their roiling nation. 1968.

This wasn’t news. It wasn’t even new. It was wretched, but ancient from the start.

Girard, untethered, huddled in the flotsam of his distress. Drifted to a room, offered by a loyal friend, in an urban house. The portrait lodged there, too, a souvenir of unbearable duress. Or, perhaps, a snapshot of what once seemed happiness.

So you get the picture, that painting of Bonnie was described as ‘wild.’ Red hair dropped well below her heart and fled the picture plane. She stood in front. The garden behind was filled with dusk. The dress she wore was blue.  

Soon enough that Bonnie left him, too, carried off by yet another friend who fell hard for a lovely face encountered in a haunted room.

That is how Marc found her. That is why he bought and brought her home. That is how the artist let her leave.

The purchase was agreed with one condition. When the wretched artist was finally right, Bonnie must return to face her maker. What was left unsaid must come to light.

Girard did not forget. Eventually, he retrieved that wild, blue Bonnie from her ardent owner. Detained her for a year.

Yet again, Bonnie had left a lover. When she did come back, joy wilted into disbelief. Marc’s Bonnie had been a willful woman-child. Now Girard had purged the portrait’s ‘wild.’

The image that emerged was sadder. Less certain. More self-assured.

The portrait had become a vision. And the vision was a surprise.  

Bonnie as Titania is a pale flame, centered in a gauzy, twilight mist. The mist secretes a buzzing crowd. Most are joyful. But what she feels is hard to guess.

Can you read those pink incisive lips? What about her lovely, enigmatic eyes? What do they say? What do they hide?

Yet, this bonny fairy looks a goddess with coral and camellias braided in her hair.

This is how, we think, Girard worked his way to lasting peace. Happily, Bonnie’s lover only needed weeks to overcome his grief. He says Titania is the better work by far.

Tourist:

Where, where did he live? Girard. This artist.

Robin:

Girard lived in the suburbs of Detroit. The nexus of the here and gone. Its steel pistons propelled the nation. Detroit proclaimed itself the “Motor City.”

Sadly, procreation isn’t pretty even when it doesn’t disappoint.

From vast, industrial orgies of mortals and machines--prodigious collections of limbs and tines, joined in raucous, winding lines, sustained with massive quantities of earth tartar, emerged the hybrid buggies you now call “cars.”

The cars were gas-propelled, chromed carapaces on rubber wheels with cushioned seats. Music boxes extra for spare change. No wings except on ornaments. These mobile monuments to lust, endowed with speed, inclined to rust, thrilled millions on the streets.

Detroit recruited Calibans in search of work and fresh, free air, then encased them in thick, wide concrete streets. Compassion was not allowed to interfere. Post-war housing palisades wrapped prison walls around the objects of Caucasian fear. Dammed inside that double-cross, ghettoed generations howled, prowled and were effaced.

The Motor City had a second claim to current fame. From a ghetto ledge just far enough above bleak despair to respond to opportunity, Motown Music sold the fresh and funky.

For a time, there was hope and magic in Motown’s air. It was swell but didn’t last. Eventually Motown moved away. But none of that led Girard to Titania as far as we can tell.

Tourist:

So Girard just made this painting for the hell of it? Why would anyone make paintings almost no one wants.

Robin:

We know that Titania was not commissioned. No one begged him for a painting of his wife. The painting's agency and urgency belonged to Bill Girard. His story. Her beauty. His life.

Some speculate that Girard meant to demonstrate the majesty of his brush. That he felt himself an old master, recalled, rekindled and reassigned.

It’s true, he was a constant student of his craft. And acknowledged for his skill by those who cared. But, frankly, they were few.

 Ariel:

Robin! Robin, good fellow. I heard that you were tapped to lead this tour.

Robin:

Ariel, you lovely sprite.  What good luck brings you to us?

Ariel:

I met your Bill or Will Girard in his mother’s womb. Though he’s moved on, he thrills me still. His potential was such a gorgeous, complex whole, I nudged him toward my favorite role.

Robin knows how this is done. I simply shaded his precocity with griefs worthy of his gifts.

So, if it’s OK, I’d like to help you share our friend with his temporal kin.

Robin:

Oh, do. Please do. Do share. Don’t hesitate.

Ariel:

Girard grew as artists do: abuse at home to make him tough. The despoiled target of vindictive love. Just time enough to close the fault beneath proud flesh. Repeated doses to keep it fresh.

Girard grew as artists do: Inquisitive, industrious and bright. Disquieted by crimes without redress. A mouth that burned to speak. A tongue that could not confess.

Girard grew as great artists must. A warrior for reasons he couldn’t possibly explain. Owner of the only voice that he could trust. A hero of the lonely war to say what can’t be said. His strategy was art.

Every image was a weapon. Every weapon lemon tart.

Girard borrowed freely, reaching far and further, from every culture, every time and every place.
  
Imagine, if you can: A thousand splendid tales stand in line for an audition. Bloody glorious dramatizations of your sad, masochistic preoccupations.

There a noose of noire. Here a boiling bowl of Neptune’s tea. Then one, pure fun, a wing-strippingly hilarious death at sea.

Look at them. Legends, lore, gore and woe. All in line, heel to toe. Unperfumed. Undraped. Unashamed. Lusty, bold and sly as sin.

Utterly delighted to meet you. Pleased to betray and cheat you. Situationally, to breed with you. Happy just to eat you. Or if not, to rip your limbs apart and make them something new.

Look at them! They’re alligators. Dressed in skins like yours. Waiting patiently in that long, long line to perform for Girard’s imagination.

Ariel:

The prettiest, the wittiest, most subtle, most profound—get the nod to take the stage. Aflame, aflutter, a little shudder—a chance to re-engage!

To strut, to pose, display some chest, wag some butt - but all of it in mime. Another chance at immortality—expressed in color, mass and line.

Robin

With every piece, Girard realigned the visual trajectory of fresh.

His pace was neither swift nor rash. His memory for images was almost photographic. Though his clothes were shabby, and his beard unruly, his character was kind and sympathetic. Not unsurprisingly, he was often short of cash.

Ariel:

Some seeds wait centuries for the conditions they need to swell.

Is it any wonder Girard built his masterworks to last?

He contrived immaculate conceptions. He made them to survive. Seeds of insight expressed as art. Seeds as populated as Noah’s ark. Seeds as cunningly depicted responses to the darkest, longest nights.

Robin:

Seeds of mastered passions. Seeds as negentropic quarks. Seeds of origami intuition.

Seeds as silent stories, able to sustain abeyance. Seeds of glory prepared for burial in bland. Seeds of summons, seeds of paradox—invisible to minds that navigate in flocks.

And, god willing, if somehow, if somewhere, in some temperate place, rediscovered, and welcomed, seeds whose substance might still thrive.

Ariel:
  
He made himself a tool for art. He was an utter fool for art. He became a school for art. He sinned for art and, like Prometheus, he paid in blood and bile for art. He lived and died and lived for art. There was no Girard apart from art.  

He faced critics as if stoic, though his work exudes much humor and great joy.

Robin:

In the bountiful years that Girard spilled art, his finest work looked worse and worse. Like Cassandra, whose prophecy could not be heard, Girard’s intent could not be seen.

In his heyday, the culturally preferred approach to paint was poured or splashed. Sometimes slashed. Rough. Harsh. Rude. Offensive.

Next in line, proponents of austere design. Affect-free. Photo-realistic. Pristine. Unframed shapes with suggestive names. Leftovers on cold museum floors. Pity the janitor who put them in the trash.

In that time, in that place, when ‘color wars’ meant rage in Black and White; when ‘cold war' stood for peace; when ‘baaad’ was fine and good wholly insufficient; to the art-wise, Girard’s images, conduits for insights drawn from castoff cultures recollected in the present tense, were perceived as ugly or regressive.

Tourist:

So, Girard painted a few fairies. What’s the deal?

Robin:

Some fairies don’t live in fairy tales. Cherries are not born in cherry pies. Stories’ fiction is that they are lies, when, in fact, they are the fruit of daily life.  

Tourist:

I think what I mean… What I’m trying to say... Why do you care? Why should we?

 Ariel:

You asked about the ‘deal.’ What about what wasn’t dealt? Can you see what can’t be seen and know what isn’t known? It takes art to uncover what nothing has to say.  

Robin:

Peace, Ariel. Do you propose to catch a thing that clearly isn’t, confine and put it on display? I don’t doubt your skill. But, well....

Ariel

Robin, my strategy is simple. Just pay close attention to what we know is known. Now help me out. How many plays did Shakespeare author, according to the scholars? How large a corpus did he leave?

Robin:

Shakespeare wrote near 40 plays. Thirty-seven, if I’m not mistaken.

Ariel:

Do we know how many are spiced with spirits, ghosts and fairies, witches, warlocks and their kin?

Robin:

Ariel, all his characters are ghosts today. The list’s too long. There are too many! Caliban. Banquo. Caesar. More than I have read or seen, I’m sure. King Richard’s murdered now all ghosts. Asmath. Sycorax. You and I. Hecate and her bedlams in Macbeth. Bless me, Ariel. The list’s too long.

Ariel:

Fine. Stop. Instead, tell us how many of Shakespeare’s other plays Girard explored in pen, pencil or in paint, setting aside A Midsummer’s Night Dream?

Robin:

Let’s see. There’s… you say aside from A Midsummer’s Night Dream?

Ariel:

Exactly.

Robin:

The full sum, aside from A Midsummer’s Night Dream?

Ariel:

Please.

Robin:

Subtracting A Midsummer’s Night Dream, I count... Well, none. Not a single one.

Ariel:

Really? You were careful? Reviewed his catalog in your mind? Nothing else was there to find? You’re sure. No doubts?

Robin:

Nothing. I count nothing. There’s nothing left to count.

Ariel:

Robin, bless your heart. Your nothing is NOT nothing. You found an absence that seems profound. ‘Nothing,’ is everything. It’s marvelous. It’s the very sort of kind I hoped you’d find.  

Robin:

You mean… You suggest, that absence is a presence in disguise?

Ariel:

Are you surprised?

Tourist:

I’m sorry to interrupt. But really I’m not interested in metaphysics. I’m not interested in math. Just tell me why I, why anyone should care about these airy-fairy paintings you extoll?”

Ariel:

Fair enough.  I will try to demonstrate what nothing can reveal. That’s, at least, my goal.

Girard, the man, could be a fool. Did I mention, he dropped out of school?

Girard, the artist?  First, he claimed the old masters’ tools. Harvested their hard-won rules. Playfully rewrote their recipes. Gleaned and ground their discarded grain. Added vision to the dough. Worked it, rolled it. Watched it grow.

Used bruised fruit found on the street. Used nuts from his backyard. Used the tart. Used the sweet. Detroit itself provided salt.

Shaped pies. Shaped tarts. Made cake. Made bread. Baked them with his hands. Discarded what he burned, or what lacked taste. Shared only what turned out right. Each one a gift. Each gift a hearty meal for hungry eyes.

He culled. Shuffled spells. Flattened and contracted picture space. Re-authored anatomy. Did exactly what he wasn’t supposed to do. Prepared delights few cared to see.  

Yes. True. Artists are often ill-behaved and ill-received. But what Girard did was disturbing. Devious. OCD.

Ransacked telling tales from every culture, his own included. Ripped off stories, dismembered ancient scripts. No “Excuse me’s.” No “May I’s.” Pure laissez faire. “Out of my way,” and “Devil may care.” What audacity!

Robin:

It went unnoticed.

Ariel:

It was barbaric. Girard took prisoners. Snatched established names from their accustomed places and enslaved them here in ours. Well, his. And yours.

He chose his victims with exquisite care. Dozens. Maybe hundreds. Hardly any wondered who they were. Where they went. Few noticed a purpose or suspected his intent.

Robin:

He was wily, that Girard. Avoided swords. Bypassed the bold and brazen. Skirted golden names. Sidestepped Hercules. Ignored Thor, Napoleon and Zeus. Only depicted battles in his youth.  

Ariel:

Instead, he apprehended lovers, especially the young, the tragic and the fallen. Snagged them unawares or long seduced by fate. Seized those who arrived too early and others who arrived too late.

He bagged betrayers and the betrayed. Plucked some most famous for their flaws. Dragged off inadvertent martyrs to arbitrary gods’ arbitrary laws.

He grabbed deceivers and the decent. Cherry-picked the evil and the playful. Nabbed sinners. Decamped with pickled saints.

Girard even abducted Orpheus. That Orpheus whose music was so sublime, he persuaded Death to reprieve his perfect wife. The Orpheus who made a deal to lead her back to her perfect life.  Orpheus, who broke his bargain before she cleared the gate. The Orpheus who lost his love--again--and forever, to a severed, shadow state. That Orpheus. Orpheus, still young, who never kissed another woman.

Robin:

Girard marauded. Plundered. Seemingly without regret.  

Yet, from Shakespeare, from the greatest English tale teller of them all, Girard salvaged just a single story. Focused on a single story element: a protracted, conjugal argument.

Returned three times to the same enactors, extracted from the shortest summer’s night on stage: Act 2, Scene 2 and Act 3, Scene 1.  

It’s astonishing. Girard snubbed every other Shakespeare play. Dissed the rest of Shakespeare’s charismatic cast.  His haunting, enigmatic teachers. The duplicitous. The rogues, the wronged. Fiends. Usurpers. Bold women. Bullied men.  Even me, Ariel.

Tourist:

How come?

Ariel:

This is how we know, how Girard makes absolutely clear, his three-fold choice of this single Dream was not accidental.

This is Girard as criminal and thief. A painter of purloined stories. Pimp of the prosaic past. Purveyor of petrified art.

Still, reason’s season in the psyche is often vanishingly short. Which is why I also offer another explanation to you members of this impromptu court.   

Some truths are clearest to those who peer within instead of out.

What if... What if Girard did not enslave Shakespeare’s fairy queen. What if he did not invade her forest or interpret Shakespeare’s Dream?

What if it happened otherwise. What if Girard himself was captured - let’s say, enraptured - by this very theme? What if it compelled Girard’s participation in its life? What if it chose Girard to be its voice?

I refer to memes. Perhaps you guessed.

We believe they cultivate mortal minds. You mortals are their puppets, pets, their happy habitats. Big folk merely think they have a choice.

Consider first how memes survive. They are themselves, we believe, sentient symbiotes, conscious denizens of the unconscious mind. Memes inhabit human hosts and do best in those that thrive. They are the visions that your folk describe as blessed.

This proposition is equally consistent with what we know. From this perspective, it seems Girard was pushed to paint what he had to learn until he truly knew.

 Robin:

You’re saying these paintings have meaning not because they are Shakespeare’s stories, or Girard’s, but because he painted at the behest of memes?

Ariel:

Black and white are elements of graphic art, whose pleasure is a dividend of their purity and measure. Painters’ work, my friends, distills joy from chromatic complications conceived as shades of gray. Girard’s paintings might have been lessons assigned by memes, but their wonder is the product of a master’s sure and subtle means.

Robin, do you recall that before Herr Gutenberg was bankrupted by his printing press, humans required scribes to write their texts. Of which the finest featured illustrations.

Robin:

Illuminated manuscripts.

Ariel:

That’s it! Friends, today, in many homes, real books don’t have a place to stay. Libraries give them away. Paper books are seemingly superfluous.

But, as it happens, this is prefigured by your past. Over eons, hosts of ragtag writings wandered and were lost. In clay, papyrus and in vellum, their ciphered savor was squandered on dank, crenellated minds. Dogs, wars and livestock aroused more interest than those hapless scripts, some brimming with historic weight and others with unimagined eloquence.

Robin:

It took so long. So damned long. And what you lost! Entire civilizations have been forgotten. Their knowledge and their wisdom gone.

Only recently did sentience finally, finally! see that illiteracy is the antithesis of light, the opposite of song, the scourge of possibility, a razor pressed hard against the throat of hope.

The solution was illumination.

Hand-coded revelations, divinely dressed in vestments of precious metals and florid illustrations, stoked Big Folks’ enduring literary lust.

Illuminated manuscripts proved irresistibly magnetic. Texts of every type, including those cast from lead, gaily dressed, ignited a passion as magical as Cinderella’s second self. This is the unstudied story of alphabets’ delayed ascendance.

Ariel:

“Titania’s an illumination, too. But not directly on the printed page.

Look closely. Titania illumines what that culture preferred its captives never learn. Today, to us, it now seems clear. A buried birthright is a toxic blight.

Girard labored a year to recover the queer concern that lay unseen beneath centuries of celebrated silt. The midden he excavated was his own.

Robin:

Titania a tells a tale that Shakespeare also told. But it’s not the story most recall.

Shakespeare’s farce compounds lovers, quarrels, a fairy queen and an actor who becomes an ass. It’s a lovely, bawdy, theatrical machine.

The play is set beneath a summer solstice moon.

Four children and their elders’ prattle: love proclaimed, and love disdained. Gathered, they stand before their legendary demi-Duke, the law on legs, as he proclaims: A young woman and her chosen squire, though each burns for the other, may not wed, if the lady’s father disapproves.

In noble Athens, on Shakespeare’s stage, nubile daughters had all the legal rights of domestic cattle.

Tourist:

Wouldn’t ‘chattel’ be more apt?

Ariel:

Different animal. Domestic cattle are amiable and expensive from the start. Chattel is just a word for slaves, for heaven’s sake. Slaves generally seem cheap. But their true price is intolerably steep. Two generations, at least, of fear and another two or three of tears are typically the cost of that mistake.

Robin:

Ariel, please. Now, friends, returning to the play. The lovers scatter. Hence, whither, thither and helter-skelter.  Beneath a fairy moon in a forest maze at the end of summer’s longest day, quarrels and confusion immediately ensue.

For us, at least, the immortal fairies’ folly is the story’s saving grace. Drugged and beguiled, the infatuated fairy queen, Titania, compels her latest lover to yield an embrace. Unnaturally, neither notice that Puck, mischief in chief, just for fun, had replaced the mortal’s head with an ass’s face.

If you know the story--sorry, I meant the play--you know that the fairy lady’s mortal lover, a weaver by the name of Bottom, is now immortal, too. Much like lovely Ms. Kardashian, whose own ass has earned great renown, Bottom strides the stage, somewhere, nearly every day.

Anyway, before and after these untender assignations, Shakespeare inserts the demi-Duke’s impending marriage to the Amazon’s defeated warrior queen.

Ariel:
If this somewhat describes the play that you recall, your memory is fine. Only, like nearly everyone, you’ve overlooked the cog that drives this theatrical machine.

The dire energy that churned this play for centuries and yet remained unseen—until Girard— the passion that Shakespeare would not disguise, that’s the crux: the unseen scene!

“The same device churned Girard’s life, inside and out. But I anticipate myself and apologize.

Back to Shakespeare and his magic vassal. Here, in Act 2 Scene 1, is what Puck must say:

The king doth keep his revels here tonight.
Take heed the queen come not within his sight.
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
Because that she, as her attendant hath
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king.
She never had so sweet a changeling.
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy.

Robin:

Helloooo? Remember that? Did it even make a dent? There you have it. Exactly what we meant.

That’s our cog. Obvious, but never seen.

Tourist:

 What’s it mean?

 Ariel:

 Do you truly need an explanation? In this day and age? Fine.
(Lord, what fools these mortals be!)

The fairy queen is matched to a fairy king, whose name is Oberon.  He fletches the thunder in the plot.  And why? Because Titania, his wife, is adamant. She refuses him her favorite pet.

Her pet’s a page, a pretty mortal filched from time, a princely boy. But Oberon insists, insists!, on his right to own that joy.

Titania resists and scants the royal bed.

Puck says Oberon wants to make the page a ‘knight.’ Oberon tells the queen he wants to make the boy his ‘henchman.’

Henchman? Right.



                                                          End of Part I


Find a website dedicated to Girard at: https://girardsvasari.com.

Copyright Glenn Scott Michaels 2019 All Rights Retained

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