Electra shows me something I'd lost touch with, or never yet reached; what is it, I've not got words to say - except that it is the plain joy and sadness, the unchoosing presence or presentation, of the uncreated ... I hardly know why I chose that word...
I've not read any ancient Greek play before with such interest, and acute attention to something there that is I'd say totally absent from any modern play I can think of. What is it? The answer is do it, not to define, and lose the energy.
What does this refer to?
I read more of the play, of Sophocles' neutrality as he gives words to both sides of a tragic conflict between rulers,
Agamemnon, a king who has ritually sacrificed his daughter to obtain favourable weather in a sea crossing to the Trojan war
his queen, Clytaemnestra, who with a lover, Aegisthus, kills Agamemnon for this sacrificial murder and then marries the lover
another daughter, Electra, who resists, and her sister, Chrysothemis, who obeys, their mother
and a son, Orestes, who is sent away by Electra to be taught vengeance and then returns to enact it.
The translator comments:
Sophoclean drama is the drama of living persons choosing their own paths to happiness or disillusion, to success, failure or extinction.
...in my note is something - indescribable but recognised - something to be done, and thought about in the doing - not as a theory but as the integration of thought and action, good and evil, life and death. Are these things absent from the modern play, the modern life - is all disjointed, split, divided, so that the tragic, too, is not attainable?
But what of the tragedy, as I perceive it, of mechanisation - and of our inability, once mechanised, to be fully human any more? In Greek tragedy they have a choice - but when it comes to mechanisation we don't. Is that it?
What would Sophocles write were he living now - and would he be allowed to publish it?
Something must follow.
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