Rosicrucian Writings Online
THOUGHT OF THE MONTH
THE VALUE OF DRAMATICS
By THE IMPERATOR
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest September 1935]
OUT of the many things for which the month of September is renowned in history, there is one event associated with it that is of interest to mystics and students of ancient philosophy and the customs of civilization. I refer to drama. In the western world today our clear and proper appreciation of the value of drama is colored by our familiar contact with its modifications and perversions in the form of modern plays and cinema productions. We have lost sight of the origin and truly classic importance of drama and the essential part it has played and always will play in the lives of civilized human beings.
Both dancing and drama had their origin in the mystery schools of the Orient and in the temples of worship of
But out of the art of pantomime also came eventually the artistic features of drama. Drama would have remained a purely mechanical and lifeless recitation of ideas or historical events always reporting that which had already occurred or might occur, but never portraying the lifelikeness of the ideas, if it had not been that the art of pantomime had developed this special feature of instruction and illumination.
In nearly all of the most ancient of Oriental rituals we find the High Priest and the other ritualistic officers in temples, synagogues, cathedrals, or school assemblies attempting to dramatize certain prayers and ideas with pantomime. Even in the adorations to the mythological gods in the various Egyptian, Indian, and Persian religions, the High Priest or Priest emphasized some of his ideas with pantomime by placing himself in certain postures and changing these as certain ideas were being expressed. Interpretative dancing today has simply elaborated upon the rhythmic motion and introduced more definite postures of pantomime, but unless pantomime explains and interprets the ideas of the dance, the mere artistic, graceful, or mechanical movement of the body, hands, arms, and feet will not add interest, grace, nor consistency to the dance no matter how beautiful it may be in its rhythmic motion.
The same is true of dramatics. It is a notable fact that the tendencies to dramatize are often developed very strongly in children, for they find it easier to express their ideas and emotions through pantomime and dramatic action than through words. Even before they can speak properly, little children will give dramatic emphasis to their incoherent sounds or words. Later, as young children, the limited vocabulary makes it almost necessary for them to use pantomime or elements of dramatics in attempting to convey an expression of their emotions.
The art of drama has come down through the ages as one of the fine arts because in its purest form and in its ideal and ethical application it has become a school of instruction bringing to our senses of sight and hearing and to our consciousness a better understanding of the incidents of the past and of the reactions to human emotions. The cinema art and the modern applications of dramatic principles have modified the pure form of the drama and even perverted it, but drama in its highest form will never be eliminated from the list of necessities of life any more than will music, painting, or sculpture.
It is interesting to note that the month of September is important in the dramatic history of North America because on the 5th day of September in the year 1752 the first drama, the first play, ever produced in
The month of September has many anniversaries in it and brings to mind a number of important events in the development of civilization. The first day of the month is associated with the transition of Louis XIV in the year 1715. The sixth of the month is the anniversary of the transition of William McKinley who was shot only a few hours earlier by an anarchist while the beloved president was genially associating with those who loved him at a great national fair. We learned many lessons here in the western world through that unfortunate incident, the principal one being that the freedom of the press can easily become a form of licentious expression going beyond all bounds of reason and good taste. We refer, of course, to that division of the press that is commonly called "yellow" or radical. We all remember how certain newspapers for many days prior to the assassination of the President carried large cartoons which were later printed life-size and posted upon billboards in many eastern cities demanding that something be done to McKinley because of his reluctance to do many things that radical types of minds demanded, while others were in sympathy with his reluctance. Some of these cartoons and pictures urged or promoted the idea that the President should be assassinated or punished in some cruel way for his peaceful attitude, and we recall that the resulting catastrophe was almost a precise carrying out of the destructive ideas promoted in these radical newspapers.
Among the events of the past that have their anniversary in this month and which brings to our mind the peculiar stages of evolutionary thinking and development of civilization is the Leopold and Loeb conviction and imprisonment on the 10th of September, 1934. This case gave to all of us an illustration of what can happen when the human mind becomes perverted and tends to operate in the wrong direction. Here were two young men students at a university and sons of wealthy parents who had been allowed to develop their lives without responsibility, without any appreciation of the value of money, the value of human life, and the spiritual things of life. They developed ideas of perversion and sought for the monstrous and bizarre in life's experience. They finally reached the point where they wanted to see what experience the human consciousness would have as a result of destroying the life of another or of torturing an innocent victim, and they proceeded to work out their strange view-points, their strange desires, regardless of the injustice to another. Their case brought to light the weakness of our moral and ethical educational system in the western world and the danger that surrounds a life of affluence, opulence, laziness, and irresponsibility. These young men had more money to spend than ten ordinary young men and yet they produced nothing but disaster, contributed nothing to civilization but regret and wrecked their own lives and set backward the development of American standards of youthful education.
September is also the anniversary of the birth of the
Interesting to a large portion of the public of
September introduces to us the Zodiacal sign of Libra, beginning about September 22 according to your position on the earth's surface, and it is the beginning of the fall season and the ending of our summer months. Throughout most of the civilized countries, it marks the beginning of new activities, a cycle for study, profound thought and development, investigation, and progress. Let us make the most of the months between now and the holidays to improve in wisdom and character.
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