December 3, 2008
scribe: Andy Watkins
Loose Hair and Social Disorder
Note previous representations of women in Greek literature: loosening of an elaborate hairdo entails disequilibrium.
Drinking cup, ~6th century BC. Pair of eyes on either side with face of Dionysus between.
Remember that Dionysus's patronage of wine has ritual implications; ritual mixing of wine and water (and drinking of that wine) was also his domain; while he's often considered to be a little out of control, he has the distinctions between "good" (ritually correct?) visions and "bad" ones.
Dionysus as the patron of theatre, through his eyes.
Note that the face isn't in profile. It's not a third-person narrative, like most vases; the full-on depiction of Dionysus forces the interaction into first-person.
Another vase, combining a preparation for theatre (on the surface: a pair of actors) with myth of Orpheus, who was torn apart by women in a Bacchic frenzy. Note the jawline of the actor on the right: this is the artist indication that the actor is wearing a mask. The second actor's mask is facing you, again. A mask doesn't hide your face: it projects your character.
We see a woman on a vase, entranced by Dinoysus's gaze. When their eyes meet, her hair becomes undone. Similarly the Sappho/ Dionysus gaze.
Tennessee Williams reenactment: Psychiatrist trying to prompt a patient to remember the dismemberment of Sebastian. "a sort of image he had of himself... as a sacrifice... to a--" "God?? "yes"
"I don't even remember." "Try to remember." Note how she begins a sort of vision and opens the curtain, covering her face in light. (Another sort of first-person vision.) "And then they came." "Who came?"
Catastrophe in myth is reflected by ritualized transitions in ritual that are successful. The chorus of women in the play, consequently, are perfectly normal—only the mythic women were frenzied and catastrophic.
ag™n as 1) coming together; 2) contest; 3) trial.
Pentheus wants to come to an understanding of Dionysus and the hold he has over women—though he suspects that he is, in fact, just a priest or magician—so he tries to get initiated into the mysteries by dressing up as a woman. Problem: he doesn't actually recognize Dionysus. Try to guess if this is going to be ritually correct. No? Really? Shucks.
"He came unto his own, but his own received him not."
"Follow me. I am your saving guide."
So for Pentheus alone do the rituals fail: he experiences a sort of "bad trip," in that he's out of the ritual context and so mimicking the ritual, going through its motions, the ritual goes terribly wrong. Dionysus dresses him up in drag—it should not be grotesque drag, ˆ la Blanche Dubois, according to GN, but NB believes that there ought to be a combination of tragedy and comedy at hand. (But this conflict is interesting, considering that the chorus is men in drag as women.)
Pentheus has a sort of kleos in reaffirming the equilibrium and ritual role of the god Dionysus.
Anthemic rock song (notice the hair!). Father climbs a tree (Pentheus!).
bakkhos refers to the god in the myth context or the devotee in the ritual context. Also consider the words entheos and enthousiasmos. Also, in Dionysus's case, there's a peculiar intersubjectivity between Dionysus and the sacrificial victim: he's dismembered and eaten raw by the Titans; in normalized form we have this as Dionysiac communion.
To understand the mysteries, you have to be close to the god. Socrates claims in Plato's Phaedo that "few are the bakkhoi" (males who are possessed by Dionysus) but many are the devotes, essentially.
kharis, reciprocity, relates to our word Eucharist—having good kharis. Dionysus as both sacrificer and victim (due to intersubjectivity above). Role of communion as providing community.
Women of Thebes act with equilibrium until they encounter Pentheus, who is the "carrier of disequilibrium." The idea of aetiology again—a myth that explains and justifies rituals—comes up in that we have the three meanings of ag™n: the herdsmen come together, they compete, and then in song and dance they reenact the agony of Dionysus - and Pentheus - in their song and dance.
Pentheus and penthos—and pathos, too.
Athenian charter mythology: Pentheus was the first tragedy, and Thespis was the first tragedian. Hence: Thespian.
"Original myth of Romulus." Remember, Romulus is the body politic. He is dismembered, and each senator takes a piece of him home. Hence the assembly of the senate reconstitutes a king as the body politic.