Archive for odysseus

Ulysses

Posted in Conceptual Art, Global Travel, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by javedbabar

“We have a dramatic issue here,” said Sophie. “How do we chronicle the passage of Leopold Bloom during an ordinary day in Dublin, and establish the parallels with Odysseus’s journey across the Mediterranean to Greece?”

She had seen a production of Ulysses in the New City, where Bloom wore a baby goldfish costume and swam alongside Odysseus’ ship. At first she had giggled continuously, but then become grumpy. It was great to be creative but not ridiculous.

When she had later questioned the director, he said, “Did you know that Joyce first encountered Odysseus in a children’s book called The Adventures of Ulysses?” Sophie knew that Ulysses was the Roman name for Odysseus, in the same way that they called Poseidon, Neptune, and Aphrodite, Venus. “He later wrote an essay at school called My Favourite Hero. That is why I wanted to portray him as a youngster.”

“And why a goldfish?”

“The publication of Ulysses attracted great controversy and scrutiny. Joyce was tried for obscenity, and there were protracted textual wars. It was as if his characters were contained in a goldfish bowl, being watched constantly. That was also the manner in which Joyce dissected the city of Dublin. You see the…” His eyes jerked towards Molly, emerging sans make up from backstage. “Oh darling! You were so fabulous! Mwah! Mwah!”

Sophie agreed that Molly had been fabulous, in the way that only a naked rainbow dolphin could be.

The production team at QARY, the old quarry now used to stage multimedia shows, said nothing at first. Maybe they were unfamiliar with the text. But after a while Danny said, “Couldn’t we do the whole thing as a stream-of-consciousness piece? I know it is heavily structured, but maybe we can find some anchor points to demarcate flow.”

Sophie stared at Danny. He was usually the troublemaker in the team, the jester and trickster, but here he was producing constructive ideas. She said, “It sounds like you know the work well.”

He blushed and said, “Well, not really. I studied it at high school. It was a choice of that or Dante’s Divine Comedy. Joyce seemed the easier option.”

The production team suggested other ideas.

“Dress Bloom as Odysseuss. As he walks through Dublin he is transformed into a Centurion, Britannia, a Knight of the Round Table, and a Celtic warrior.”

“Set the whole thing on a ship with the characters as crew members.”

“Make it a huge feast with each chapter as a different course.”

The best suggestion was to use each of the three chambers for different parallel characters – Bloom-Odysseus, Molly-Penelope, and Stephen-Telemachus.

When the production opened, Sophie saw that this structure worked well. The audience wandered between the chambers continuously, integrating the three persons of this holy family, the archetypal father, mother and son.

In other shows the audience had mainly stayed put, lined up along walls and gathered in corners. This had annoyed The Authority as they couldn’t keep an eye on them there. The more people that moved between rooms, the better CCTV could track them.

Odysseus was watched by the gods of Olympus. The citizens of Lucerne had The Authority’s Security Officers.

Survival of the Fishest

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by javedbabar

Mr Cooper loved the light glittering on the ceiling. It looked like a sea in the sky. He’d managed to convince the project manager to put reflective paint on the ceiling by telling him it would save on heating and lighting costs.

This was his favourite part of the job, teaching kids to swim. “Right! We’ll begin with the principles of buoyancy,” he said. “Who knows what happens when humans enter water?”

No hands went up, so he picked on a small boy at the front. “You – what happens?”

“We sink,” he said quietly, and looked scared.

“Wrong! We float. The human body has high water content, so its density is close to water. Due to its cavities – I mean your lungs, not your teeth – the average density becomes even lower and we float. So your natural state is floating, not sinking. Got it?”

The small boy pulled in his lips and nodded. A tall boy at the back was not paying attention, and made his friend laugh. Mr Cooper said, “You – what’s funny?”

“Nothing Sir.”

“Well, why is your friend laughing? Are you both such imbeciles that you laugh at nothing?”

“No Sir. We were wondering why it is important to swim when you can use a boat? I mean, you can enjoy the water and not even get wet.”

Mr Cooper was a master of the long game. He said, “You’re right there, we could use a boat.” The boy nodded happily. “In fact why bother going on the water at all when you can play the Titanic video game? That way you can have a really exciting adventure, safe in your home.” The boy continued to nod.

Oh dear, thought Mr Cooper, it’s even worse than I imagined. The noble tradition of movement through water using one’s limbs, without aid or apparatus, is in dire straits indeed. He thought of the epic stories of mankind. Would Gilgamesh have swum to the bottom of a deep pool and found the Plant of Immortality? Would Beowulf have dived into the boiling lake to slay the monster Grendel? Would Odysseus have survived his twenty year voyage sailing home? Heroes have always been swimmers. It shows their mastery of nature.

There are Stone Age paintings of swimmers, five thousand years old. If the power grid went down, today’s useless kids would be thrown right back there. No Hotmail, no Google, no iPhone, no PlayStation, no television, or microwave. Back to basics for everybody. Hunting, gathering, and swimming!

Mr Cooper rubbed his hands. It was time to have some fun.

He picked on a brown boy. “You – where are your parents from? Guatemala? Okay, that’s close enough. Imagine if they needed to get across the Rio Grande to get from Mexico to America. Do you think they’d make it?”

The boy was confused, and said, “I don’t know, Sir.”

“Well, let’s see if you would.” Mr Cooper pushed him in.

He pointed at a stocky boy. “You – are any of your family in the army? Good. What about the navy? No? Well you can be the first.” He pushed him in.

The children drew away but their backs were against the pool; they had nowhere to go. He pointed to a boy with glasses. “You – you look like a good student. Do you like biology? Good, try marine biology.” He pushed him in.

“Now the rest of you can jump in too, before I use one of you to illustrate what good exercise swimming is for amputees and paralytics. Fortunately you have use of your limbs.”

Some of the children were scared of water, but they were more scared of him, so climbed and jumped into the pool. The ones that couldn’t swim clung to the side.

“Great, you’re all in the water. Now we can begin.” He threw floats into the pool. As the children at the edge reached for them, he said. “Don’t be complacent though. You could easily die from drowning. You could panic in the water, become exhausted, catch hypothermia, or become dehydrated. Something could hit you in fast-flowing water and cause blunt trauma. In open water you could suffer bacterial infection, or in places like this, suffer from chlorine inhalation. Jellyfish can sting you, crabs can puncture your skin, even small sharks can bite and cause blood loss, sea snakes are venomous, and eels will shock you.”

The children were scared and some momentarily forgot to swim, and sank. “Right – all of you must stay in this pool for an hour. Get to like it. If you try to crawl out I’ll throw you back in.”

He was being hard on them, he knew. But we have evolved from water. It is our natural home. Only when we rebuild our relationship with water will we respect the earth’s life force, become Water Brothers and Sisters.

As a Water Master tasked with carrying our racial memory – that of fish crawling from oceans, becoming mammals, then apes, and humans – Mr Cooper took his duty seriously. He looked at the light glittering on the ceiling, as if there was a sea in the sky. This is what it must have looked like, he thought, to our earliest ancestors. The bravest and strongest ones. The ones who knew that the purpose of life was survival of the fishest.