I woke up this morning with a picture of a stormtrooper singing John Donne to the music of the theme tune of bob the builder (I suspect I may see and hear things in my sleep).
I also came to the conclusion that I really should get round to reading the philosopher Paul Feyerabend. I can draw the conclusion from this, that the sense we take from poetry or anything else is strongly situational, dependant on context and its sense of time seems somewhat retro.
Learning to speak a poem one law applies I think, speak it, rhyme it and let the sense come of its own accord.
The only calculations I seem to be constantly making with the verse relate to the production of sound. As I have done it countless times, day in day out over years. I can make predictions here, to a degree and have the confidence to understand that I can adjust and adapt them to coping with the way sound will move about in a different space and in the place it’s performed.
It’s a technical craft, everything comes from it and the performance depends on the vast range of small calculations you make here to produce and project sound.
Constraints are anatomy, acoustics of the space and the form and shape of the poem. Craft is learning to move through the only requirement a speaking subject, with the patience and time to experiment and learn.
It’s not something that requires formal training. That just speeds up the processes by a few years. What constrains also dictates the road you have to move along, performers may describe, performance in any number of ways, style may vary considerably. Method acting for example is a stylistic difference, the method and technique for vocal production remains the same unless the actor could indeed physically transform individual anatomical structure into that of a tree or frog.
As far as I am aware neither John Donne nor his society of the period were not particularly tree or frog like and conformed more or less to the standard regular anatomical form of our species. I can I think suggest that the challenges faced and methods used in performing the poem, are little changed, the technique required unaltered by distance in time.
With regard to Donne’s poem and making sense of it. I would observe from experiment that I can hold ideas about it that make no -sense outside of the context of my small slow moving tiny mind and even from this limited and narrow perspective many sense perceptions and relationships are safe to label as utterly non-sensical(note to self: I’m I trying to arrive at a definition of what an English Literature Department is or is that just wishful thinking?). Some of the relationships I make, I do not even appear to be fully conscious of.
Yet despite dwelling within these constraints I can certainly speak it and make perfect sense. With practice, trial and error and in the correct context it may even become a thing of art.
And so to Gaul. Quite what I may learn from this about Roman interaction with late Iron age society in northern Europe appears at the moment non-existent. It allows me to take one aspect utterly out of context and just play.
Anyway with my plan for world domination scrawled in a single line written in crayon on a crumpled piece of paper all I have to do now is create an empire of thought and place myself in the center of it while absent from Rome and the heart of things.
How do I do that? Even now we do not have to reach far to arrive at an image of Caesar. It’s a highly successful enduring image or from a modern perspective on rhetoric a highly calculated and deceitful image.
Caesar is at his core that most vile of modern objects a politician. For all his various roles and guises, which extend across a spectrum and notably include the contemporary attributes of master of rhetoric and capable general (Two primary skills considered essential for high office in Rome). Serious political animal.
He is a crafty crafter and to have any hope of extracting any contemporary ethnographic data from his writing or understanding it in context alongside firmer evidence from archeology, it cannot be understood simply as a written text.
Ultimately it has to be understood as a contemporary academic debate with various differing inflections and emphasis. But that technical boring craft note aside, attempt to play it in the round and look at the whole.
Despite the differences the craft remains the same.