Monday, 27 October 2008


Oh, Prometheus means foresight, does it? But the essence of foresight is seeing what is not directly in front of (L&S define pro: before, in front of) your eyes ... in seeing the hidden recesses of futurity. Prometheus was, shall we say, rather unskilled at that: would he really have stolen that fire if he'd known the pain it would bring him? Or, put it another way: perhaps there's a kind of truth in the way posterity has given us episode one of Aeschylus's Prometheus Trilogy ('Bound') but taken away from our sight episodes two and three ('Unbound', 'Firegiver') ... as if the drama itself says 'I show you what is directly in front of your eyes; but I shall hide the future from you. That is the nature of my representation of "foresight".' In other words, what we take to be 'foresight' in ourselves is almost always the opposite: the things directly before, in front of (pro) our sight obscures what is to come. Anne Carson's 'Twelve-Minute Prometheus (after Aiskhylos)' seems to me to be saying something similar. This is how it ends:

Dolls, this is the end.
Tsunamis of fire engulf the stage, that's it for us.
Most of the audience already off to the bus.
Of course this is a trilogy, but as
plays II and III
are lost, looks like the rest of your
evening is free. [Exeunt omnes in flames]

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