I trundled off to a free dramatic reading at the National Library of Scotland, in celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Origin of Species. Peter Arnott, the library's writer in residence, has poured through the archives and designed a piece aimed at bringing to life the correspondence between Darwin and some of his contemporaries, including his publisher, John Murray.
Arnott acted as narrator, providing context and provoking ideas about academic life in 1859, including the shared hammock-swing ideals of religion and science, as each persisted in trying to make the other more comfortable. On either side of Arnott, two actors read the parts of the authors of the letters.
And oh, how they read them. There is so much magic from a word that is pronounced with passion. The word of the evening: irrefragable. Look it up if you want to. Or not. But just say it. Say it out loud. Let your teeth press down on your lower lip before you let fly the dissenting ffffrraa. Other marvelous words today: immutable and quadruped (by the way, if you love words, do your bit and save them! I have adopted boscaresque).
I also felt so inspired by how Arnott has tackled the project of digging through piles of archive material, drowning in scientific texts and long, almost illegible letters. I applaud the person who can turn something that is both difficult to understand and sometimes downright dry, into a lively, engaging story. This is just want I want to do for the castle and the Tattoo. I find it so, so difficult to transform military music history into short, punchy stories that will evoke people and make them want to hear more. Part of my desire to do this comes from feeling of obligation that is born out of heartache, whenever I see the state of our archives, and the yellowing newspaper clippings from sixty years of the show's history. All those stories, just in pieces. I want to put them back together again, make them live. LIVE, damn you! LIVE!
I'm sorry - was that too dramatic?
JP and I have decided to forgo our previous plans for a romantic dinner in on Tuesday night, and go instead to the library to see and hear historian Owen Dudley Edwards as he becomes, for an evening, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sharing readings and reflections on his career as a traveller and writer. We both get so excited about words and passionate writing that for us, a trip to the library is actually one of the best exercises in romance (say this with me...undulate. Wink).
Re: the photo of a pig and a rooster. I have long since desired to build a story around this photo, as I love the look of sly happiness on the pig's face, as well as how the angle of the shot draws the eye toward the pert cockerel. But as it is Darwin's Day, I thought I would throw it in as a gesture towards all the silly and wondrous ways in which life just keeps on going. Cock-a-doodle-oink, my dears. Cock-a-doodle-oink.