Stephen Evans

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Stephen is a playwright and author of The Marriage of True Minds and A Transcendental Journey.

Be Secret and Exult

It is National Poetry Month here in the US, so I thought I would offer one from my favorites:

To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing

By William Butler Yeats

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors' eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Sadly, for me, it's always a challenge to chime with the gloomy Yeats. This, though more optimistic, doesn't answer either: To a F... Read More
Sunday, 08 April 2018 21:18
Stephen Evans
I think this poem is interesting in so many ways. First, he is writing to a friend. Second, he agrees the friend's work has come t... Read More
Sunday, 08 April 2018 21:50
Rosy Cole
Steve, I'm not sure that either of us has fully understood this badly crafted poem, at least from the point of view of its perspec... Read More
Sunday, 15 April 2018 08:48
1174 Hits
4 Comments

The Architecture of Trees

The architecture of trees fascinates me.

How do the branches know how to grow?

Complexity theory?

Fibonacci Sequences?

Artificial intelligence?

A complex algorithm it must be.

In searching for its own light, the branch serves the tree.

What does the branch know of the tree?

The result seems always the same:

Spare beauty against the blue.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Beautiful. We labour under the misconception that all knowledge passes through consciousness.
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 14:55
Ken Hartke
To marvel is to live...even at the engineering of a lowly dandelion. Marvel mar·vel /ˈmärvəl/ verb: 1. be filled with wonder or a... Read More
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 16:15
1013 Hits
2 Comments

The Day the Stories Fail

I’ve been binge-watching Game of Thrones for the who-knows-how-manyieth time. And in the process, mainly while the credits roll or I’m fast forwarding through the parts that I don’t enjoy as much, I have been wondering why I watch this, why it is so enthralling, and why I can watch it for the who-knows-how-manyieth time and still find it enthralling.

In the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge wrote about the willing suspension of disbelief:

“My endeavours” he wrote, “should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.”

But I don’t think that’s it. It’s not a suspension of disbelief. And it is not willing. There is nothing of choice about it. We are enthralled - or we have enthralled ourselves. But it is not magic - it is neurology that captures us.

I believe stories work because of the imperative of belief. Deep down in the animal brain (which, let’s be honest, is almost all of it), there is an inability to understand that stories, whether on the page or on the screen, are not real. In some small part of the brain, we know, but we can’t overcome the other part. Or we forget about it as the story unfolds.

Yet there is a difference between stories and reality, if that exists anymore. There is some understanding that stories, real or not we can’t say, are not happening to us. This gives us the safety to enjoy, to experience the terror and heartbreak and grandeur without the need to run to safety.

One day, far in the future, I imagine, we or our descendants, or the descendants of whatever species are left, will lose this disability, this imperative to believe will disappear. Brains will automatically distinguish between what is real and what is not. Stories, all of them, will fail.

These lucky creatures, unable to see the world other than it is, will not understand the power our stories held over us. And they will wonder in disbelief why we writers spent our lives creating them.

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I think you might enjoy the words of the wonderful late Alan Rickman on the subject of storytelling: http://www.ideachampions.com/... Read More
Monday, 26 February 2018 20:17
Rosy Cole
Game of Thrones? I may have heard of that. Coleridge's observation, I think, is more general than what you describe. In some ways... Read More
Friday, 02 March 2018 23:01
Stephen Evans
I watch the same way I read - skipping the boring bits. ... Read More
Saturday, 03 March 2018 00:20
1260 Hits
7 Comments

A Visitor to your Planet: A One-Minute Play

At Rise:    A man is doing something. An alien enters and watches him.

Alien:       Why are you doing that?

Man:        Needs doing.

Alien:       How do you know?

Man:        It’s my work.

Alien:       What is work?

Man:        What needs doing.

Alien:       I’m asking you.

Man:        I’m telling you.

Alien:       What is my work?

Man:        Asking questions.

Alien:       That is my work!

Man:        You’re good at your job.

                (Long pause)

Alien:       I am a visitor to your planet.

                (Long pause)

Man         Aren’t we all.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Interesting dynamic. Reflects the popular conception of 'democracy'. (Look at it this way, the US is approaching halfway through t... Read More
Sunday, 04 February 2018 11:25
Stephen Evans
I just realized that the last two posts were plays. How true to the spirit of The Green Room!
Monday, 05 February 2018 03:55
Katherine Gregor
Beckett would be envious.
Sunday, 18 February 2018 22:27
1046 Hits
4 Comments

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It caught me by surprise the first time I noticed it. After the trolley man, the house was owned by...
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I wish British mothers did, too. Although I suspect that in Paris, too, this is a relatively rare o...
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So evocative - I wish American mothers would take their children to Moliere.