soviet measure is not just about totalitarianism; soviet measure is about a state ideology that has seeped inside its citizens and reshaped them into little human statelets from inside out. it’s about living in a state that tells you who you are and will lie earnestly to your face about what matters, what goodness is, what is worth dying for. about legislation so terrifyingly ideologically complete that any action that isn’t about the state is about rebellion, and about how deeply human and pragmatic and non-elevated those rebellions are, just based in being a person rather than an ideology. about a book of law that requires such devotion that its upkeep becomes terrifying and religious. about the death of innocents in that system. about the people who will tell you those deaths are worthwhile because they uphold something higher, something everyone’s been conditioned to revere.
the duke isn’t stalin, at least not while alive—the duke is both cult of personality and bureaucratic incompetence. i don’t want to get too deep into aesthetic translations and “what was [x] must now become [y]” bc that gets so easily heavyhanded, i don’t wanna do one of those fucking ~vienna~ productions that dangles nazi flags from the ceiling; the play is already about believing you’re in a panopticon and about being your own iteration of the big scary book of law—but dress isabella in grey and navy orlon, she’s a komsomol; her devotion to god in the play is already the same as her devotion to the state (one of those things gave her her sexual ideology and hint: it wasn’t actually god). lucio as a stilyaga. angelo is angelo. (i.e. terrified that humanity is faithlessness to the state and thus consciously dehumanizes himself because, well, it’s easier to be state-synecdoche than to be human, innit?) brothels that look just a little like writer cafés if only because language is transgression just as much as sex. everyone is cold, all the time. everyone parrots the words of the state back at it, like one of those impossible gogol dialogues where everyone seems like they ought to be winning and is losing all the time. repetition and repetition, seeming and seeming. this will last out a night in russia, when nights were longest there.
not much needs changing.
(f’refs as to how this works: check out patrick stewart’s stalinist macbeth. like that. amazing.)
you masturbate? ejaculater! sorry i dont deal with sinners
I’ll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound,
Or hollowly put on.
I’ll gladly learn.
Love you the man that wrong’d you?
Yes, as I love the woman that wrong’d him.
So then it seems your most offenceful act
Was mutually committed?
Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.
I do confess it, and repent it, father.
‘Tis meet so, daughter: but lest you do repent,
As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,
Which sorrow is always towards ourselves, not heaven,
Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it,
But as we stand in fear—
I do repent me, as it is an evil,
And take the shame with joy.
i love this scene so fucking much—”are you sorry for what you did, julietta?” “i’m sorry it was a sin.” “it was totally a sin.” “i’m sorry about that.” i love it like i love when mariana says “fear me not, i’m gonna sleep all the way with angelo” and the duke says “fear YOU not, fear not that it’s a sin!” and she presumably looks at him like, the fuck, friend? i wasn’t?
which is to say: i love(?) the duke’s flat-out incomprehension when faced with women without shame. as in, it’s terrible, but the play is so smart about it, so forthright that it’s a systemic failure, that it’s his failure as worst patriarchy ever. that the wrong isn’t in his subjects, and certainly not in these women. it’s in the vienna he created, in his negligence and hypocrisy. the sin isn’t intrinsic, and that he thinks so is very directly discussed as a fault. (to the point where ”was your sin of a heavier kind” is so fucking bald that even my footnotes, which are written by oxford’s grammarians and don’t like to pick fights are like “the fuck”)
everyone in this play wins a little and loses a lot, except the duke, because he is the patriarchy and the political infrastructure remains intact. (it’s not a happy ending; here is partly why.) but this is the closest he comes to losing. having women look him in the face when he ~pardons~ their ~sins~ and hearing them ask: what sin, exactly, do you mean?
and just. this specific scene forever, because—julietta is not a rhetorical genius like isabella. she’s not even an aesthetically tragic noblewoman like wonderful off-her-head mariana. she’s not set apart in any way, not treated as any kind of “special” woman, or special person period. she’s not an exception. she’s a kid, in love, a girl imprisoned for having sex with the boy she loved (who’s going to die for it), and she cuts the duke off! she fucking cuts him off. she’s a pregnant woman in prison, she could not have less power, and she still looks the patriarchy directly in the face without knowing it and goes “stop talking.”
goodshipophelia ответил(a) на ваш пост: it occurs to me that since the oncoming months are…
this is me asking you abt the semantics of isabella’s sexual desire bc YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT THAT A LOT
(i’m like a vampire, i have to be invited over the threshold. okay that’s not remotely true but it does absolve me of blame when i talk for five years HEY IS IT TIME TO TALK FOR FIVE YEARS ABOUT SILVERTONGUED FLAMING-SWORD FURYWOMEN ANGRILY DISCOVERING THEIR LIBIDO AND SHOUTING AT IT, I THINK IT ISSSSS)
so, okay, here is what this play is about (a lot of things) (sex) (humanity) (law) (law-sex dystopias that don’t think about humanity) (the people that live there): this play is, for angelo and isabella both (who are the characters in most central focus, the characters who get to—well, are forced to—evolve), this play is about them finding out that they’re not gods. that they, these self-designated exceptionals, these dedicated paragons of chastity, these cloistered ivory tower creatures, are mortal. fallible. warm-blooded. their blood does all the fucked-up things that are totally theoretically something they knew other people experienced but swore to god (like literally) that they were beyond; it heats and races and flushes against their respective wills all over the place, like they’re—like they’re people. this play is about them dealing with that. (poorly.)
angelo’s reaction to that is well-documented and obvious and i am truly madly deeply baffled by anyone who misses it; he’s got five soliloquies. five intimate, panicky, hysterical, aroused, baffled, fucked-up, linguistically delicious soliloquies. isabella, though, isabella doesn’t talk to us as much, she’s got one soliloquy and the whole of the language is about her opting out (isabella says ‘i’ like three times total in the whole of her soliloquy; you are not allowed to lie to the audience in soliloquy and isabella picks her fucking words carefully) and letting other people maneuver around her. isabella is a hard sell precisely because the combination of how good and smart a speaker she is is coupled with how socially powerless (specifically as a woman, as a sexual object) she is, and how conscious of that she is. isabella is not going to tell you how she feels.
but she feels. she feels and she loves it and it’s an ascension; she feels and it compromises her power and she hates it.
let’s walk through it. under the cut, isabella’s god complex and libido in collision.
it occurs to me that since the oncoming months are going to be even more of a measure deluge than usual, i ought to restate the guiding principle of my love for this play—the thing that guides me in loving it, in loving its central character, in whole-body fire-and-soul loving certain awful immaculate ships—
my interaction with this play involves taking for granted the idea that a woman can be attracted to a man, on whatever the fuck level, and still be allowed to say no to sex with him, for whatever the fuck reason.
wowie, right. zowie.
In the set of mirrors that reflect the world of Measure, it is possible to see Isabella and Angelo as siblings, as partners, because they do use the same language. We wanted to try and catch the similarity between them. Perhaps in another world they might be lovers.
IM LOSING MY SHIT