Enabling; or, Ethnic Correctness [Fiction]


What is it that fiction should do? Should it do anything other than what it does, incidentally? Is there ever anything incidental about literature, the literary,or even the popular, or pulp, or any part of culture, any conduit, medium, any resulting exchange, reception, framing whatever have we to analyze, all analysis an anal-ization?

Are you of the mind that fiction is everywhere, anywhere any words are spoken about anyting, any opinion given–all of it, this we might call philosophy or philosophizing, fiction, a thing made; yes, that anything is fiction if it is a thing made—what then is thing?

The person I am as in my personality or my character—made. We create ourselves and in as much as we do do this we recreate ourselves—I recreate myself as I go along in my petty paces from day to day, no?

A poor player I am on this and every other stage, am I not an actor performing myself; what is this I am that I am here and now; which one was I yesterday and yesterday and yesterday until I come to the first tolling of the first syllable of my recorded time—what do I recall, recollect, remember—they are not all of them the same, you know, you must; it has to be clear to you as it is clear to me?

Recollecting and remembering about as identical as wide and broad are completely synonymous—they are not either of tem the same as the other in every context of use. Most of memory is fiction, no?

The words in lines on the page or the screen, what then is the difference; each screen a virtual page. We still skim the screen as we do the page as waiters sometimes do the table with that tool some of them have in some restaurants. Fools that we are. Mine a tale told by this idiot I am. That is how I know you too are an idiot because I know that I am, sometimes in some places; every somewhere a somewhen. These words have struct a chord in me; I have worked in theater before, stage manager, assistant director, set designer, playwright, actor. All.

I continue these in my life; all my life a stage and on this stage I am this or that character, roles I create out of the personalities I have built, constructed, made—fictions, all of them, all the days of my life. Who the author of this dialogue is is unimportant; who the writer is is also equally unimportant now. You will get what you need to get, know what you need to know; there are these needs in reading. The necessary limits have ben set.

Here then is the piece as it had been handed to me by someone not the author, someone who came across this page of text abandoned, whether intentionally or not, on a bench on a platform in the subway in Boston; South Station, the Alewife bound side to Harvard Square.

A Dialogue in Short

Concerning the Place of Physically Challenged Actors in Theater

and Creating Roles for them Out of Characters Written as Written

Whether for Physically Challenged Actors or Not

Scene: Here or there; now or then; anywhere or any-when; however, not everywhere, which is as close to nowhere as any-every could be. He and She talk of enablement in theater and the possibilities that are missed or not addressed, that is, avoided, by too many contemporary critics suffering one or another kind of contempocentrism. This is neither supportive of nor beholding to “now is the best of times” or its rhetorical flip side,  “now is the worst of times.”


Able-bodied actors playing Oedipus . . . of course this was a planned exclusion of other than normative bodies on the Ancient Greek stage or any subsequent stage . . . no? Yes? How so, if? What are we saying? I hate all this unconsciously on purpose shit some mouths, all mouths connected to the asshole in an unbroken link . . . impossible to talk shit, but again, how do they know this unconscious intentionality . . . so impossibly adolescent, adolescence being something we did not used to graduate from until our thirties but now not until our forties . . . too much certainty on the uncertain, the indiscernible, like atheists who insist that God does not exist, insisting certainty in matters that are no less transcendental in their conception than saying God exists, God is.


No one is saying that it was planned or designed—and they are not exactly the same, you do know this. But it does become part of the rhetoric of exclusion—why do we imagine that what is not said but done, repeated as part of a social given, does not speak volumes to a society and not just audiences?


Why aren’t we saying that actors are supposed to be able to act. I have no problems with Asian actors playing Hamlet so long as Hamlet does not become Asian. The whole point of an Asian actor playing Hamlet is rooted in his acting the part as written, not changing the character to create a convenient role for the Asian actor. One of Denzel Washington’s greatest parts, performances, was as Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, which is neither a Spanish character nor an African American one, but an Elizabethan character, and played as written briliantly. What I really want to see then, if I am understanding you, and I am not opposed to seeing it, is a disabled actor play a part for whom the disability has nothing to do with the character; why can’t we have a wheel chair bound Hamlet, only with no deference to the wheel chair—I mean, we are all children again as soon as we walk into a theater—yes, the sky can fall on our heads. The wheel chair can’t be made invisible, but it can be virtually, that is rhetorically, invisible, no? Of course I am not opposed to casting Mexican actors to play Mexicans, but I am also in favor of casting Vietnamese actors to play Vietnamese and Japanese actors to play Japanese characters as well as Chinese to play Chinese—why do we not get in a tiff over Chinese actresses playing Japanese characters in American movies; I am in favor of ethnic correctness most especially in film, which is entirely other than what I am talking about for theater, which is night and day different than film, cinema. I just hope we do not create dogmas of authenticity that are as fake as what we oppose. We have been doing that for African-Americans in cinema for the last thirty years or so, maybe less.

 Make what you want out of He having the last word. I have no objections to physically challenged playing Oedipus, particularly if the challenge is Oedipus’s challenge? Is that true? Do I not have objections? What if wheelchair bound? Could we have a wheelchair bound Hamlet without considerably altering the play? I’m sure wheelchair bound audience members could teach us something on how to read a wheelchair bound Hamlet? Perhaps Oedipus is picked because why should we have “traditionally” normative bodies playing Oedipus? I just get deeper and deeper in this. Let me out of it. As long as the differences are handled and the distinctions addressed and where the play is altered and how are also addressed or articulated or explicated . . .


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