Oedipus Rex/& now by Mussmann
March 29th, 2020
Oedipus and now-.
I was thinking about Oedipus Rex —the play from the
mind of Sophocles—and how he writes about the sick
state of Thebes. The play opens:
Oedipus enters and says that he wants to hear from
the people himself—not though messengers—
what is their grief?—the Priest says in short:
“Thebes is tossed on a murdering sea
And can not lift her head from the death surge.
…The god of plague and pyre
raids like detestable lightning through the city,
and all the house of Kadmos is laid waste,
all emptied, and all darkened: Death alone
battens upon the misery of Thebes.”…
…Find us our safety, find us a remedy,…
…keep the state from going down in storm!..
No man questions your power to rule the land:
but rule over men, not over a dead city!!
Ships are only hulls, citadels are nothing,
When no life moves in the empty passageways.”
(translations by FITTS & FITZGERALD)
This is the opening of Oedipus Rex—a play that
I have thought about for many years—since reading
this play and seeing productions —now more
then ever I am being haunted by the text.
Oedipus Rex has been tagged by Mr. Freud —
the Oedipus Complex has been the defining of a
great play which is more than about Oedipus having
made love to his mother—(unknowingly) It is a play
similar to Ibsen’s GHOSTS —a play is about
a mother and a son—the son has contracted
a disease (unknowingly) that he has inherited
from his father—Oswald has come home to die
and the terrible reality of what he has inherited
is visited upon him and the truth of the past has
to be faced by the mother and the son.
Both plays focus on the end as plays and narratives
always do—BUT I would like to focus on the start
of these plays—the start of each play is about the
past—and the past is prologue
in both Oedipus Rex & Ghosts—the past of
actions of the state and the father.
Both —Oedipus and Oswald
are victims of things of the father’s actions—we are now
witness to a pandemic — we are victims of—
the illness of the state is the result of greed and
an all consuming life where we have plundered
the planet by over producing and living in an
unconscious manner—and now we are sleeping
unknowingly with our mother and now after blinding
ourselves after the realization– we can hope to see—
it is maybe one more
chance for us to correct the damage done
and let the planet have a chance to sustain
us once again—or do we live in isolation and fear
forever? Oswald’s last words of the play are:
“mother give me the sun”.