a one-act play by Jeff Gabel ; based on "Salwáre oder die Magdalena von Bozen" by Carl Zuckmayer, and "Full House" by Stephen J. Gould
-The gang at Salwáre Castle (Thomas Stolperer, Firmin Salwàr dej Striës, Dr. Iwan Schramek, Little Lemming, Peter Insam)
-Stephen J. Gould
Thomas Stolperer: What is the place of the creative man in our age, where the binding elements are in the process of dissolution with no sign of newer and more effective ones on the horizon. What can we do as children of a generation of masters that took self-created isolation to the ultimate level, and burned all their bridges so we have no where to go?
Firmin: Dr. Schramek is right, we’re really living in a time where there ain’t hardly any geniuses, at least in the arts and intellectual crap. As for the reason why, it don’t even matter, lucky for us.
Dr. Schramek: It’s cause of something that happens naturally in the flow of generations, its part of the periodic rhythm of cultures. You can tell that we’re in one of those 30 year periods where there simply can’t be any masters or masterpieces.
Little Lemming: Well, according to the theory of generations, these intervals where there can’t be any masters, they always produce interregnum masters.
Everyone laughs. At first Little Lemming is embarrassed, then he laughs too.
Peter Insam: Cheers to the interregnum masters!
Thomas Stolperer: Cheers to the interregnum masters! You’ve given our souls hope again!
They decide to make a community of interregnum masters, whose main goal is to promise to keep being lazy half-ass artists so they won’t accidentally ruin the 30 interval between creative periods.
Jeff Gabel: Hey, you guys were talking about this back in the 1930’s. That’s only about 70 yrs ago. Shit, how often do these periods without masters come up? Also, it’s been a lot more than 30 years anyway since there have been a lot of geniuses in the arts. Maybe that geniusless period that you guys were in when you were sitting there in Salwáre, maybe it’s still continuing now. Maybe you got your figures wrong, and it’s 300 years instead of 30! Holy fuck.
Stephen J Gould: Hold on, everyone. It’s not that you’re necessarily totally wrong, but you’re mistaken in treating specific time-lengths as the fundamental problem.
Jeff Gabel: Wow! Hey everybody, it’s Stephen J. Gould!
Stephen J Gould: Hi guys. You see, in “Full House”, I made an analogy between baseball and evolution, showing that natural limits, which I call ‘walls’, are often part of the cause of what sometimes appear to be a trend-change. In the case of baseball, the natural limit is that of human physiology. For example, no human is ever going to hit a ball ten miles without the aid of a machine, etc. But the game and its players get better, so that those great-ones that are standing close to the ‘wall’ today have lower batting averages, etc, than those standing equally close to the natural ‘wall’ 80 or so yrs ago, but it doesn’t mean they’re worse batters. The batters have already neared their ‘limit’ as a group, so to speak, while the game has made adjustments, and improved. This limit for the batters is a ‘right wall’, which limits ability at the high end. (Here Stephen J. Gould pauses as Peter Insam hands him an Eppaner wine). In my discussion on evolutionary complexity, on the other hand, it’s a ‘left wall’ that comes into play. If you look at the overwhelming mode of live, as well as the beginning of life, you see that things like bacteria, the simplest of life forms, are the rulers of the earth. But there can’t possibly be zero, or negative complexity, that wouldn’t make sense, so there is a natural ‘wall’ of minimal complexity. This ‘left wall’ leaves complexity with only one direction in which to grow, so it is only natural that in millions of years, some complexity-movements would grow far out to the ‘right’, or in the plus-complexity direction. I use this to help explain that there is no reason to see the appearance of ‘off the chart’ complexity in biology as a contradiction to evolution, or to see complexity as a goal or pinnacle in the evolutionary process.
Jeff Gabel and the Gang at Salwáre: Man, that’s amazing.
Stephen J. Gould: Well, here is where it gets confusing. I have to admit that when my line of reason runs up against the arts, I’m a little stumped. One can’t possible think that the arts today match the genius level of the golden age of composers, for example. But although I’m not an artist, I totally understand the futility in continuing to produce variations on the greatest master works of the past. But on the other hand, I can’t say that art has gotten better, like baseball has. But I’d hate to think that the creative geniuses these days are out there working in delis or whatever, and not at all involved in the arts, while all you art fuckers are just a bunch of half-asses.
Jeff Gabel: So, are you saying this whole “being an artist” deal ain’t worth it, unless you’re like most of us today, where we’re either satisfied at not being geniuses, or in the equally common case, where we ain’t even got a clue that we’re NOT a genius? Or in the rarest case, where a guy really IS a genius, and is happy making master works that are ultimately masterly variations on what’s already been done?
Stephen J. Gould: That deosn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, and this is where I might better explain your cultural creative time-interval thing. Since art appreciation, like art creation, is ultimately a biochemical process, then it might be that you’re running up against a right wall among the art VIEWERS, rather than among creators. In other words, like with baseball, the game has gotten better, but it’s the game of VIEWING that’s gotten better in the arts overall.
Jeff Gabel: But why is it so convoluted? Why isn’t the game of creativity itself getting better along with the game of the viewing of creativity?
Stephen J. Gould: Not sure. Viewing and creating are part of the same game, but they happen in separate people, so they are separate processes. Maybe your ‘right wall’ in art is like it was for was for batters, maybe it was hit so long ago, and hit so suddenly, and all of your bridges were so irrevocably burned that you have nowhere to go until a new world is formed, something you couldn’t possibly imagine yet. In baseball it’s more simple, cause it’s a game. Someone could change the rules to restrict pitchers and the defense, and batting averages could go up again. With the arts, you’ll just have to wait for a full revolution. It’s easy to imagine that taking a hundred years or more.
Jeff Gabel: Well shit, I’d rather quit then. Either I’m a genius and didn’t know it, or more likely, I’m a half-ass taking advantage of a long spell where no one knows who’s good and who isn’t.
Thomas Stolperer: Come on, look at me. Remember, I was gonna quit so many times. If you’re one of them “rocher de bronzes” like me, you have to keep at it, you don’t have a choice. How many fuckin times do you have to read “Salwáre” to figure that out?
Peter Insam: Yea, like I told Thomas, no one should try giving something up that they aren’t prepared to give up over and over every day. You’re not even experienced enough to know what you’re doing yet. Damn, I’m glad I didn’t live up in your greedy generation, some of them young bastards get rich and famous so fast that no one ever really knows if they’re good or not. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate in that cheap ass environment you live in.
Thomas Stolperer: Yea, and besides, when I was thinking about quitting, I was planning on settling into a rural mountain life and marrying Mena, the waitress from the Albergo di Latemar, and restoring local treasures from the South Tyrol region, like Peter did. Even though Peter was right to tell me that ‘I’m barely learning to walk, stop talking such nonsense,” at least I still could’ve lived that life if I had to. But you, well you couldn’t deal with no waitress wife. And you couldn’t even figure out how to use a fuckin hammer and nail. You can’t do nothing with your hands. You’re not even a very good librarian at your day career, and at this point in your life, you’d hardly get much out of a career change. And when it comes to acting like a semi-rich retired person like the rest of the young middle class in your generation, where the lack of purpose and sacrifice makes misuse of the enjoyment of nature, culture, and other treausres of leisure, meant to be enjoyed as by-product of real life, and turns these activities into an exploitation of life and time without a right, a cause, or a clue, ya when you’re in this environment then you’re excited for about 15 minutes before you turn into a misanthrope that gets on everyone’s nerves.
Jeff Gabel: Wow, so I can’t quit even if I want to. Good thing I’ve been a “rocher de bronze” on and off, otherwise I would’ve quit a long time ago, and I’d probably be miserable for it now. Thanks everyone.
Little Lemming: And now all you have to do is work just hard enough to become an interregnum master someday.
Jeff Gabel and the Gang at Salwáre: Cheers interregnum masters!
Stephen J. Gould: Cheers interregnum masters!