Weaving A Spell


Hugo Weaving In Macbeth

Hugo Weaving In Macbeth© Sydney Theatre Company

Writing 101 today asks:

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

The most interesting person I’ve met so far this year. Well if we have a loose definition of ‘met’ then earlier this year I went to my first Sydney Theatre Company Pier Group Lunch.

These are organised by the STC Pier Group as a fundraiser. You get a nice lunch (at the Bar at the End of the Wharf), a glass of wine and a chance to talk to some of the creative people involved in one of the STC productions. I think they have four a year. This one was the ‘Macbeth’ lunch and I had a chance to listen to Andrew Upton, director Kip Williams, Melita Jurisic (who played Lady Macbeth) and Hugo Weaving (Macbeth himself).

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Room 101


Today’s Daily Prompt is an interesting one. They title the post “1984” then ask the question “You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.”

So we harken back to 1948 and the writing of Orwell’s great novel with the ultimate torture chamber, Room 101.

O’Brien, the anti-hero of the novel, puts it well, “You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.” He defines it so well that the quote is on the Wikipedia page for ‘Room 101’.

So we are consigned to a room by a state so totalitarian, so omniscient that it even knows our darkest fears, our nightmares.

My dark fears don’t so much lurk as swim close to the surface. If you were to ask me what would be the worst thing that could happen to me I’d probably talk about losing my sight so I could no longer read or losing the ability to type so I could no longer write.

Down another level are the darker ones. Loneliness, insanity, loss of my mental faculties.

Fear of things though, what could be in Room 101 that would scare me? Scare me so totally that it would become torture?

Well the last twelve months have taught me well –

I have supp'd full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
Cannot once start me.

Macbeth. There’s a man who has seen horrors enough by Act V, Scene 5 of Shakespeare’s play.

As have I, looking depression hard in the face. There were moments when I feared for my mind, doubted my sanity. One particularly bad bout had me up and out of bed for six days without any peaceful sleep and finally I could no longer discern my tired awake from fitful doze with dream and reality so confused that I swear I started hallucinating.

My Doctor’s attempts over many years to find medication to control my depression fed straight into one of my other dark fears. On even quite low doses and soon after starting each of the drugs so enamoured by psychiatrists I could feel my brain start to struggle, get fuzzy and confused. I could feel my cognitive ability and intellect, so vital to me, draining away. I couldn’t do it, my anxiety climbed as the side-effects took hold.

In Orwell’s novel his hero, Winston, seems to have similar dark fears. He fears loss of identity, loss of self, loss of self-consciousness. I know that black.

These, however, are incredibly hard to put in a room with you. In 1984 the Thought Police when they lock Winston in his Room 101 have to descend to the plebeian, the pedestrian, they use a simple, common fear of rats.

So too with me. You can’t lock me up with my darkest fears so you may as well use rats or cockroaches.

Opening Is The Hardest Thing


J.R.R. Tolkein

J.R.R. Tolkein

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Barnado: “Who’s there?”

First Witch: When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “Take the first sentence from your favourite book and make it the first sentence of your post.”

Well I’m sorry. Just one “favourite book”? Not possible, that’s like asking a mother to choose her favourite child, not only is it an almost impossible question it would constantly change and be unfair to the unchosen children.

I picked five opening sentences from three of my favourite novels and two of my favourite plays. You probably recognise most of them, in case you don’t they are from, in order from top to bottom, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (TLotR), ‘Emma’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’. All of these five pieces of literature have been my “favourite” for a time. TLotR was the first great love of my adult reading life back in my early teens, before that only juvenile literature had been loved though I had read much meant for older readers. The two Austen novels became my favourites later when I was a mature age student studying English Literature and the two Shakespeare plays somewhere in between, probably after I saw a great production.

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