Thursday, August 18, 2011

Coincidence can be quite amazing sometimes. You hear a piece of music you are totally unfamiliar with and within days you are quite likely to hear it a few more times. I really am enjoying Mister Crawford’s “Cecilia” despite the fact that as a non-believer in things mystical I find his premise of reincarnation far-fetched, Cecilia having once been a vestal virgin, but I can live with it. However, almost immediately after writing the last Blog I picked the book up once more and this is what I read – ‘Thou shall so act as to be worthy of happiness, said her favourite philosopher. She could undoubtedly marry Guido despite her imaginary vows. Would that be acting so as to deserve to be happy? What is happiness? The belief that one is happy; nothing else. As Guido’ wife would she believe that she was happy? Yes, if there was happiness to be found in marriage. But she was happy already without it, and would always be so she was sure. Therefore she would be risking a certainty for a possibility. “Who leaves the old and takes new, knows what he leaves, not what he may find” so says the old Italian proverb. To act so as to be worthy of happiness, meant to act in such a way that the reason for such action might be a law for the happiness of all. That was the Categorical Imperative, and Cecilia believed in it.’

In another passage he comes up with a theory, nothing to do with coincidence, that as an ex-actor, I would find interesting – ‘There are great actors who become so used to a favourite part that they go on acting it in real life, and have sometimes gone mad in the end, it is said, believing themselves really to be the heroes or tyrants they have represented. Only great second-rate actors (I’m not too sure great and second-rate go together but never mind) “learn” their parts and attain a sort of perfection in them by mechanical means (!) The really great first-rate artists make themselves a secondary existence by self-suggestion, and really have two selves. One that thinks and acts like Othello, or Hamlet, or Louis the Eleventh, the other goes through life with the opinions, convictions and principles of Sir Henry Irving, or Tommaso Salvini or of Madame Bernhardt.’ Do I take it from this that these three in his opinion are not really great first-rate artists and where oh where does it leave me? I don’t think I even come into the second category. Maybe with the also-rans.

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