—From EF—

Seventh Generation. If you Google this, you get the following (assume each is preceded by the phrase Seventh Generation):

—diapers, laundry detergent, wipes, dish soap, coupons, dishwasher detergent, pads, hand soap refill, tampons—

I have been for some time involved in researching family history, which is pretty difficult for a private adoption bastard. DNA has been an eye-opener, but pursuing this is like trying to learn double-entry accounting from a standing start. “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The rule of thumb for the 7th generation (gggg-parents) is about 300 years, and the tree would have 64 people at that level. That would take me back to the late 1600’s, when I truly doubt people were thinking about dish soap and tampons. Going forward to 2240, who the hell knows?

In 1640, 300 years before my birth, many things happened, among which were: the Catalan Revolt broke out in Catalonia; the servant John Punch escaped from a Virginia planter, and after capture became the first official English slave; the first known European coffeehouse opened in Venice. My, how things have changed.

We are now quivering on the brink of a great many profound choices, and few of us appear to have any sense that we are in the loop of choice-making. My use of a compact fluorescent bulb is hardly going to tip the scales; I cannot reverse the choice of the last election; and Monsanto appears to be able to glyphosate our food at will, whether I buy their damn products or not.

But I can do whatever is within my reach to assist the fire recovery efforts. I can look into the face of a performer at the Arcata puppet slam, see depths of silent pain, and take the risk of offering to a total stranger the possibility of being seen and heard. I can imagine using our beloved Two Old Ladies to embody short, demented YouTube sketches to puncture some of our more bloated politicos’ bloviations.

And I am trembling on the brink of bringing “Survival” before an audience for the first time in Ft. Bragg next Saturday. Elizabeth and Lou and Bozo have something to say and hope to be heard. Seven generations down the line, nobody will say, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” But they might feel the echoes.

—From CB—

Listening to a long, long audiobook on the history of the Middle Ages, extending from the 4th Century to the 12th, worldwide. Purely political: who killed whom, when. Condensing ten centuries of intrigue and slaughter into twenty hours has an oddly contemporary ring to it: our news media regularly presents us, ten minutes every morning, with the condensed plasma of atrocity and disaster from every molehill on the planet.

The history is initial research for MASKS, a novel we’ve just begun outlining. It’s about a family of traveling actors, locating them probably in early 8th Century Europe, when there’s virtually no trace of theatre history but ample threats to survival: wars, theological strife, plague, economic dislocations, and rumors of omnipotent space invaders, i.e. Moslems. Not the best time to take the show on the deeply rutted road.

So last night, I began writing some text—utterly unready for a serious start but just experimenting with the “voice” of it. Having written so many years for the stage, first-person narrative comes most readily to me: the character’s rhythm and attitude informs his perception. The downsides are that, first, he necessarily has a limited view, and secondly, that even if he’s quite vivid we may not want to spend three hundred pages listening to him.

Oddly, what emerged in this first session was a strange amalgam: an adult narrating events that happened when he was six: a perspective so limited that he falls into a near-surreal mode of telling, a seesaw between the child voice and the adult. No idea if this style can sustain the needs of the story, but interesting in its tunnel-vision effect: not unlike most of our experience most of the time.


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