[NetBehaviour] The Doubter's Mysteries - The Nativity of Jesus

Edward Picot julian.lesaux at gmail.com
Thu May 9 21:13:14 CEST 2019


Thanks again for your continued interest in this project, which has been 
very encouraging to me. This particular episode, I admit, is more 
silly/frivolous/humorous in tone than most of the others. Treatments of 
the Nativity do tend to be more upbeat and celebratory than treatments 
of other parts of the Bible, and of course Christmas is a more cheerful 
festival than Easter, for the obvious reason that it's about someone 
being born rather than someone being crucified, so if you're going to 
get some laughs in then it's a good opportunity. Funny Nativities have 
been done lots of times before, too; for example by Monty Python; but 
they're also a staple of primary school performances at Christmas time. 
So in some ways I'm being rather traditionalist in my approach to this 
part of the story; but apart from doing some jokes, I also wanted to 
make the point that whatever the occasion may be, however serious or 
significant or profound or whatever, human nature will still be human 
nature, and that's what governs our responses. Some people will miss the 
point entirely, some will properly get it, some will get it but it won't 
make a lasting impression on them, and some (like the Innkeeper) will 
simply work out as fast as lightning how to exploit whatever it is for 
financial gain. Which leads us to the wider question of whether human 
society is actually capable of taking on board important messages at 
all, or whether people are always too taken up with their own concerns 
to pay such messages more than fleeting attention. How much of this is 
down to human nature, and how much of it is down to the way society is 
structured, is open to debate. But if you look at our world and the way 
things are going... well, the best you can say is that things have to 
get pretty bad before people are prepared to pay attention and start 
changing their ways.

So, DIWO or DIM? You have to relate to the world in which you find 
yourself. You have to try to be moral and responsible. But I'm very DIM 
myself, by instinct. My creative practice in particular is all about 
doing my own thing. I'm like a sea snail ploughing along the ocean 
floor. Yet on the other hand I do find myself in collaborations with 
other people from time to time, or working on ideas that have been given 
to me by other people, and I find those experiences immensely valuable 
because they take me to places I never would have gone by myself. 
NetBehaviour has been a very enriching environment for me in that 
respect. In my working life, I work in a doctor's surgery in the NHS, 
which is a very collaborative environment (especially in my particular 
surgery), but also very bureaucratic, and we're constantly being dumped 
on by the powers that be, so it can be extremely frustrating at times - 
but also you're helping people, you're providing a genuine service to 
the community, which is profoundly rewarding. But all the same it can 
drive you mad; and when it drives me mad, which is quite often, my 
refuge is to come home and go back to whatever creative project I happen 
to have on hand - go back to being DIM.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that you have to have both, I suppose.


On 08/05/2019 02:18, Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour wrote:
> Hi Edward, just read the last mystery play. Things having to do with 
> the birth of Jesus make me uncomfortable in a different way than the 
> OT makes me uncomfortable. The OT comes out of mideast kingdoms, wars, 
> tribal legends, founding legends, flood legends; it's amazing a book 
> could have been assembled at all. The NT stresses an entirely 
> different, more 'Greek'??? world that collapses back into the usual 
> power struggles; your innkeeper is all about that. I'm not sure how a 
> census would have really been conducted by the way - what's meant by 
> returning. In the mideast there were complex messenger systems 
> everywhere, and messengers could have completed a census without 
> disruption. It's hard to read through these texts back into the 
> reality they seem to represent. Same with kings, angels, innkeepers, 
> and the like. The shepherd slang made me also a little uncomfortable, 
> creating a social division which I couldn't understand in a way 
> because, perhaps not being English?, I couldn't source out the accent. 
> I loved the play though and would really like to see the whole series 
> produced, on radio? Television? Pantomime with commentary? Shadow 
> puppets? It could go on for hours.
> All this also reminds me of something I've been thinking about 
> recently, lack of community, not DIWO, but DIM, Do it Myself, when 
> others aren't around, aren't available. The pun DIM is deliberate; the 
> danger is never seeing beyond oneself, a combination of depression, 
> isolation, and solipsism, a condition of so many in the world today. 
> We jump towards coops, but if the example I've had with housing, they 
> can also be debilitating, political, stratified, financially 
> enclaving, etc. - I've seen this in practice, Davis describes the same 
> with HOA (home owners' associations) in California, etc. DIWO can be 
> amazing, and DIM to me seems a lower stratum, a lower class of being 
> as well. But it's common and - for example, prisoners, elderly people 
> without families, refugees, etc. can end up with PTSD or other 
> illnesses as a result. So it might be valuable to stress some sort of 
> positive evaluation of DIM as well. Your play brings that into focus - 
> Jesus was for wealth distribution, Sermon on the Mount, etc., but the 
> results were Church hierarchies, pogroms, antisemitisms of all sorts, 
> etc. - dissemination below, rigidity and exclusionary tactics/worlds 
> above. (What I'm writing seems moronic, but ah well, it's late, we're 
> here as usual by ourselves, take what might be useful from this, if 
> anything.) Oddly, the innkeeper seems an uneasy combination of 
> grouping and isolation, below Herod, Herod below Jesus, Jesus above or 
> within (I've never been clear on this) or beneath Judaism, etc. etc.
> Just some fuzzy thoughts, thanks!, Alan (writing late, we've been 
> jammed recently)
> On Sun, May 5, 2019 at 2:50 PM Edward Picot <julian.lesaux at gmail.com 
> <mailto:julian.lesaux at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     Nativity image
>     'The Doubter's Mysteries' are an attempt to write a short cycle of
>     Mystery Plays - ie. plays based on Bible stories, like the
>     Medieval Mystery Plays of York, Chester and Wakefield - from the
>     point of view of a sceptical modern audience; an audience which
>     either doesn't believe in God, or can't work out what he's playing
>     at.
>     There are fourteen of these plays, and the ninth is now online:
>     'The Nativity of Jesus'.
>     http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries/09nativity.html (or for the full
>     series so far, visit http://edwardpicot.com/mysteries)
>     - Edward Picot
>     http://edwardpicot.com - personal website
> -- 
> /=====================================================/
> /directory http://www.alansondheim.org tel 718-813-3285
> //email sondheim ut panix.com <http://panix.com>, sondheim ut 
> gmail.com <http://gmail.com>/
> /=====================================================/
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