Sunday, September 12, 2010

O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?

Daniel Maclise, The Disenchantment of Bottom (1832)
The painting is large, a bit more than 3 feet by 4 feet, filled and busy with detail. Bottom sits in front of a hollow tree and he seems to awaken from a nightmare rather than a dream. Two hag-like figures, not as we imagine Shakespeare's Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Cobweb and Moth, are on either side of his head, an image that reminds us of the ears of an ass that have just been removed when the enchantment ended . One of these ugly little creatures pulls open his eyelid and the other blasts a trumpet in his ear. On his knee sits a small figure reading over his script for Pyramus and Thisbe, and overhead the reconciled Oberon and Titania float in a sensuous kiss. 

Haunted in every moment by the unforgettable desire to get the water back to the god.

In the face of this imperative, every word, image, sound... created artifact, seems a lie...

A key discovered in the dream with a message attached:

"Use this key upon yourself when you are ready to awaken."

When you do, the illusion of the dream gains more reality.

The flesh grows fat and quivers with sick laughter on the bone.


Dayadhvam: I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms his prison
Only at nightfall, aethereal rumors
Revive for a moment a broken Coriolanus

Refusing to accept the part of the "dull actor" regardless, in spite of, disgrace.

I have not forgotten my part in the play,
Standing here in the curtains,
The pregnant moment
Shivers with the possibilities of abortion,
Wondering where such fears arise,
Worrying over my cue...

When you hear the key turn in the lock,
That is your cue.
When you see the flesh slide off the bone,
That is your cue.

Tucker believes a Globe actor would have received not a script with the whole play but a scroll containing only his individual part, just as Bottom and Snout and the rest did, and that before a performance the actor would have "conned" his part on his own with the help of the clues Shakespeare provided in the script. Going into a performance, an actor would know only his part, and the three-word "cue" that preceded each speaking part. Tucker has deduced that the actors would meet immediately before a performance to prepare the practicalities of entrances, exits, fights, and dances, but would have experienced the complete play for the first time only during the first full performance before the Globe audience.

Emphasis Mine:

...but would have experienced the complete play for the first time only during the first full performance before the Globe audience.

RE: Bottom and Snout:


Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,
Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse that yet would never tire,
I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.


'Ninus' tomb,' man: why, you must not speak that
yet; that you answer to Pyramus: you speak all your
part at once, cues and all Pyramus enter: your cue
is past; it is, 'never tire.'


O,--As true as truest horse, that yet would
never tire.

Re-enter PUCK, and BOTTOM with an ass's head


If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine.


O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted. Pray,
masters! fly, masters! Help!



I'll follow you, I'll lead you about a round,
Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier:
Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire;
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.



Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them to
make me afeard.

Re-enter SNOUT


O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?


What do you see? you see an asshead of your own, do