Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture











SCREAM May 2003

The Naked Goddess and Other Spirits

The blaspheming woman screams at her oppressor; the angel of death who reaps it's decaying harvest into some eternal pit of constantly waiting disaster. She lifts her bony hands to defy the callous demon of her childhood fears only to be smitten unmercifully into pieces of manageable compost.

Her problem is that she knows the world is comprised of filthy, cynical pigs who are only interested while their snouts slobber in the troughs laid down at the expense of the non-thinking sincere. She always knew this. Yet somehow, she persevered with the illusion that her life could be an example of truth that wasn't the product of her masters' agenda.

Did I ever know this defiant woman who dared to taunt inevitable, though premature, demise? Or did I simply dream her existence? Like some mature anima which served her purpose only then to be cast aside by the god of my own vanity? I wonder if she was possibly even that same water nymph who haunted my dreams for decades? Or even my mother, so desperate and full of fear; consumed by the over-riding sense of loss and dislocation?

Was it out of fear that for years she extolled the necessity of this vengeful master? Yet my art is formed by her contradictions. Her nature was to be subservient, compliant and nurturing while also expressing a willingness to defy the universe of her formation. The rage that dwells in her body bursts from every hardened cell. And still I love her. That water nymph who beckoned me dive into the depths with her and risk drowning or exposure is that same woman who aged with me. Now defeated yet waiting to be raised from the ashes.

The paradox is that once smitten, she now awakens as Spirit. And spirit cannot be defeated. She reigns supreme; manifest in beauty; in the eye of a beholding mortality; in the dream beyond illusions of romantic being and noble artist. She visits and I enter her skin and breathe the ether from her lungs and penetrate her dark caverns of sexual imagination; shuddering with her orgasm; penetrated by the steel of her gaze and the sting of her insight.

The angel of death smugly imagines it has the power to control this blaspheming woman of some dark art from the high lands of Jungian shadow country. But she can't be controlled. Her slaughter only makes her more powerful. Death is the most powerful of all actions. She is already haunting the territory. I think the princes of the low lands know their time is ending. Their reign is not supreme. Their angels will soon be decrepit. The party is coming to an end as the lines on their faces become deeper.

The metaphorical world where ancient gods become inherited by mundane people coming to grips with their own desires, disappointments and mortality hasn't evaporated. The themes inspired by such realization are the themes of life, existence and purpose. They lead us to absurdity or profound recognition or perhaps a sense of both.

As we become shadows of our dreams, the world becomes an imagined entity as much fiction as fact. This fiction comprises our relations with others; our commitment to ideologies, religions, memories, cherished moments that fade and become objects of perpetual sadness.

The fiction of one's life is aptly described in Howard Fast's virtually forgotten book, The Naked God. Best known for his novel, Sparticus (made into a film with Kirk Douglas), Fast's Naked God is described in the jacket of the first edition as: "the outcry of a soul in agony, torn by compassion, moved by anger, raging with fury; the vision of eyes that see for the first time when the bandages have been removed after a difficult operation -- not yet accustomed to light, halting, hesitating, not too certain about colors and shades, but seeing at last."

I wish the blaspheming woman, like the nymph of her youth, was invulnerable and possessing a nurturing womb for my own insecurities. The truth is, she is no goddess. Rather she is power without stability. She distracts and is as much confused by her erratic nature as I am. And with her knowledge of the naked god, she is still unable to add definition or certainty to anything. Her rage echoes my own and then exacerbates my howling.

Yet without her, I am lost and simply wandering. I think I know her or at least recognize her. And I'm sure she knows me. Once I mistook her for a goddess. I could have been disappointed at my finding that she wasn't; that she was not omnipotent or all-knowing! At first I was saddened by her death. Now I celebrate the appearance of her spirit and her occasional companionship.

Joe Woodward (May 2003)


See The Naked Goddess play page (click here) for information about the production in October 2006.






photos by joe woodward 2003



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