Friday, September 12, 2008


Inasmuch as I regaled cyberspace with my take on The Odyssey, and, inasmuch as not a whole lot is going in Hemospace, I thought that I might reflect upon my next project, Virgil's Aeneid. I have the Harvard Classics series because of Richard Baker, one of our close friends in Simi Valley when we lived there. When he and his wife moved to Idaho, he decided to unload a few books on someone who would take care of them. I had always wanted the Harvard Classics, so I took them in. Nearly twenty years have passed since I put them on my shelves and I am finally getting to them. I have now read six in the series, and more if the text of the rest may be counted as having been read in other editions. The Aeneid is the verse translation made by John Dryden. The first seventy-five pages of the volume, however, is Dryden's explanation of the genre and his take on it, addressed to the "Most Honorable John, Lord Marquis of Normanby, Earl of Mulgrave, etc. and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter". I am thirteen pages into this diatribe and fear that I will not make it to the poem itself.

The most salient point that Dryden makes in those pages that I have read, is that epic poetry differs from tragedy, in that one is longer than the other. Wherever Normanby and Mulgrave are, it is clear that John was wearing his garter around his neck if he wasn't aware of that distinction before the poet penned those words to him. Be that as it may, I have since tried to imagine whether I am producing an "epic blog", a massive, ponderous ironic monster wending its way to nowhere, or simply recounting a "tragic blog", a little story playing out on "" with its several acts and scenes. Of course, "tragic blog" implies that at the end of the play things go badly for the hero. What I want here is a "comedic blog", one that is in favor of the writer's successful recovery from his affliction.

Those of you who have actually read all of the previous entries will remember that after all of the preliminary fuss, "Doc Holliday" determined that I should have a pint of blood drawn, wait three weeks or so, and then have blood samples taken to see how the phlebotomy technique was affecting my condition. You will recall the debaucheries of the "tri-tip" and the "$6.00 burger" incidents that followed immediately on the heels of that first "blood-letting". Notwithstanding falling off the wagon twice in one week, my ferritin count still dropped by 140 points. Now, at this point we need to decide whether this was the conduct of an epic hero (a warrior shouting down the gods of Olympus, spurring their opposition) or whether this was just an isolated minor scene of Act I, meant solely for comic relief, so that the tragedy of the pancreas running away with the liver at the end of the play would have more substance. Who knows? Nobody; not even John Dryden.

On Monday I returned, by assignment and appointment, to the Fusion Center (you may use any of the following prefixes: "In-", "De-", or "Con-", in order to provide the appropriate tension for this part of the play; all of them work). Trillium was with me, of course, so that I would not have to drive home by myself in a state of euphoria from having had another hole the size of the Holland Tunnel bored into one of my veins. The nurse was not the same as had operated on me a month ago. Apparently, the original girl had not quite recovered from her little encounter with me. Monday's nurse, however, was a little more game. She bought into all of my jokes, laughing with good humor at my witticisms. This, of course, was all dramatic technique, designed to lull me into a state of unconcern, just before inserting a needle into my vein that went from my elbow to my shoulder blade. This technique is known as "deep blood retrieval". As the humors were going our of me, the humor was going out of me. "Would you like something to drink?" she cooed. "Yeth. Waff hab eu goth?" She rattle off a number of drinks and soda. "Barfs. I'll haf da Barfs". Just as I was starting to pass out, she brought me the entire can of Barqs Root Beer together with an ice-filled cup. "Wa?" I garbled, "Sno gookies?" She brought a package of Lorna Doones back a few minutes later. All I could think of at that point was a story by my daughter, Dara, about two lands situated next to each other; the one where it rained milk and the other where Lorna Doones fell like manna from heaven. Living on the border seemed to be the only reasonable thing to do, until the sour milk and the soggy Doones backed up the sewer system. I think that that point, the hero stands up on the milk-rain side, opens up his mouth, and drowns in moo-juice (No, that's Ray Bradbury and an episode from "The Illustrated Man"). This, naturally, represents another dramatic technique known as the "framed story" or the "play within a play".

Speaking of a "play within a play" (this writing technique is known as an oblique sequitur, a way of bringing in another event without producing a separate blog), Trillium and I went to a "musical comedy" last night written by Marvin Payne (yes, the Marvin Payne) and Steven Kapp Perry (ye..., no, there is only one of those, he has to be the the). It was called "Wedlocked". It was "musical" because it had music and it was a "comedy" because it had a happy ending. The actors could sing (nothing off-key) and the singers could act (nothing off-character). The first hour of the play was an exercise in angst, taking the audience where it did not want to go. Trillium had hoped for a light-hearted comedy like the one we had seen with Marvin and his friend in downtown Provo, "Eripmav", I think it was; something like "vampire" spelled backwards. The first hour of last night's performance was more like "The Dark Knight" or "X-Men"; I felt like Magneto was in the room and all of my serum iron was being forcibly converted into ball-bearings and extracted through my pores. The denouement, however, was quite satisfying; two square roots of 3 becoming an integer (thanks Chris for the delightful metaphor). I suppose that this was the effect caused by sustained dramatic tension, followed by catharsis.

Well, epic or drama, that is the question. Is this thing going to go on interminably, the hero suffering and rejoicing in book after book of Pindaric lines; or will there just be five Acts of dubious unity, the audience vainly hoping to somehow get their time and money back? Once you have invested more than three hours in this place, however, you might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Its going to take a while to get home.


Anonymous said...

heheh! I hate opening commentary...Preface my's like a whole friggen book. It's like "If I wanted to listen to YOU I would buy your book, but you weren't good enough to PRODUCE a book, so you are making all of us suffer before we can get to the good stuff..."Grr...

Trillium said...

Yes. Musical "comedy" it was NOT! And, I had hoped that Marvin Payne himself would be acting in it. No such luck. The actor, D.L. Walker whose name is actually Dave, reminded me of OUR Dave! His character was always trying to turn everything into a joke.

Jen said...

Check it out.