Aeschylus and O'Neill: A Phenomenological View


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The Deuteragonist Offers a Dialectic

The theatre is the state the place the point Where we can get hold of man's anatomy and through it heal and dominate life...1

The theatre's double are those events in a communal life that make up man's domain, his individual story. For Artaud, the purging of the dark forces of that story was an obsession, a priestly function of the theatre artist, the duty and the right of the spectator. Man's story in tribal-communal life is a kind of theatre (that sometime art form), no more than a swift turn of the same coin to capture and explode flagrant violence, plague, and the psychic disasters that man needs to bring against himself. And by defusing these, we prevent the double, the theatre of life in society, from making its degrading use of them. If Artaud yearns for the kind of unity that comes from the gaping mouth in the posture of a scream, spanning language, gesture, and the violation of space, Aeschylus demands a dissolution in the mode of healing after the "plague" and the rift. Essentially, the one theatre is no different from the other: Artaud mistrusts cognitive language, while Aeschylus transcends language's cognitive use; Artaud surrenders to a visual language with anguishing sound, as Aeschylus forges an edifice to found through language a complex landscape ranging from the psychic to the physical, from the mystical to the immediate.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.