Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A poem for Goffman

Goffman,on animals,was moved to say:
The frame explains when it's time to play.
That is, there's signals both before and aft
Which make it fine to dance and laugh.
What happens in this marked out time
Is neither serious nor a moral crime.

In zoos, he'd watch the otters sport,
Sometimes they played, sometimes they fought.
But they seemed to know when it was in fun
Less an all-in pagger than a quick dry run.
Quite why they did this, he never said.
But when it was play, none ended dead.

So thinking on the word play's pun
Is drama really just in fun?
A way to exorcise those thoughts
That otherwise end up in courts?
Think about the Greek theatre:
Does it make bad acts better?

By presenting people's inner fear,
From confusion making clear
How bad behaviour causes pain:
And make the watcher think again
About their need to kill a chum
Or put their penis up their mum.

Back to the frame, the context of art:
From daily life it's set apart
By the place it's watched, the time it needs
To plant a conscience's blooming seeds.
Like the otters when they have a fight
Plays train the mind for mental flight

From antics that might hurt the polis
(Not just the bastards in high office).
The use of kings, or the stuff of dreams
Suggests the plays' eternal themes.
A safer space to confront the scary?
It does make theatre necessary.

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