Editorial, July 2019
All the rest is silence
On the other side of the wall;
And the silence ripeness,
And the ripeness all.
W. H. Auden
In this, the second issue of Pericles at Play, we tread the ground fractured by the first. Within the space of these electric pages, temporality is collapsed, and the stretch of time between antiquity and the present brought together, coalesced within the mesmeric and singular form of the poetic, and evocations of the ancient in instances of absence and ellipse within prose. We continue our commitment to the maxim that antiquity is integral to an investigation of what it is to be modern.
David Capps opens with Temple of Zeus, a probing of the shadow-spaces of leftover antiquity, mixing primeval myth with bare facticity. It is a poem sphinx-like and feline in its inscrutability.
Katie Hartsock, in The Rash, beckons the searing energy of classical antiquity and Dante, touching its flame to the assaulted body, the hearth, and the messy, necessary networks of nurture.
In Aion, Richard G. Ll. Kendall writes an intriguing and beguiling tale of a lone Soviet demiurge, channelling private grief into an epic project of history, art, and the twists and turns of ideology. Set against the backdrop of post-war global politics, this story, part-ekphrasis, part-journalistic account, investigates an embodiment and aesthetics of history and historicism.
In Philoctetes, James Ackhurst brings the wounded hero — the subject of plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides — into the jaded present, forming the space for a moment of soft heroism, contrasted to the brutalism of the ancient polis.
David Capp’s second poem, Arrival at Omonoia, situates the traveller at the heart of contemporary Athens, merging that hot, sexy city with a sensual temporality. The poem pulls images together with the power of a sea-swell.
Katie Hartsock’s second poem, Musculature, complicates living with a medical condition with the classics. The poetic voice tries on the kaleidoscopic languages of museology, Whitman, sculpture, Camus, and the biblical, shedding and applying skins in a search for a meaning which can transcend the banality of the institutionalised and medicalised terms foisted upon us.
Tom Willis’ story, Athens, Still remains, continues from where We Other Greeks (see Issue 1) left off: kinships splintering, desire spluttering, and meaning figured as a collapse into an insurgency of doubles and violence.
In this issue, we have included three poems from the "tradition", which we hope will prompt comparison and contrast, opening up thought about the relations between past and contemporary classical receptions, the politics and histories and play at work on them. These three pieces are:
Emily Dickinson’s mercurial Fragment 1584.
Phillis Wheatley’s To Maecenas, about whom Emily Greenwood writes, has a ‘poetics of manumission… [which] strikes a tone of perfect equivocation where it is not clear who is the superior and who the inferior.’
An extract from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, titled here as Nature and Homer.
The desire for antiquity lives on, ‘immortal in bodies not immortal.’