Thursday, November 28, 2013

Marlowe's Faust

Christopher Marlowe's version of the Faustus legend has the Good Angel telling Faust to put away his books and his learning, pull himself together, get with the program, and find refuge from the storms of his arrogant imagination by reading scripture. The Bad Angel tells Faust to take no notice of the Good Angel's wheedling, to go forward, become lord and commander of the elements, take what he wants. The two angels describe a neat black and white within a story that certainly predates the Elizabethans, and  agriculture and is very much all around us today.

When Marlowe was 29, he was stabbed to death by a speculator called Ingram Frizer.  A drunken brawl following political disagreement, some have suggested.  Self defense on the part of Frizer, others have argued.  Still others think it might have been a Catholic/Protestant thing.  But no doubt, as centuries pass, the Sin of Simon the Magus continues to define Faust's and our own alternatives.  And in a holiday season it still might be worth  trying to define "magus" in terms of the word "pathfinder,"  rather than "witch," or "devil" or the Hellenist "Zoroaster."  And I'm only able to surrender to such a thought, because I can smell the "Bacobursage" we're having for supper tonight.  It's kind of like a "Turducken"  without beaks, and both The Artist and I reckon it'll make a neat sandwich on Black Friday.

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