Greetings friends, before continuing our investigations into Old Nick – fresh in from The Sunday Times, a review of Bardskull:
“This is a book that gives permission. In a world that, increasingly, looks to set boundaries about what is acceptable to think and feel, Shaw’s work comes as relief, like cold clear water from a rushing spring… rich and transgressive… this [is a] compelling account of a singular landscape, a singular vision.”
Bardskull by Martin Shaw review: the dark magic of the moor
(On The Devil, Cont’d)
I’ve been reading Peter Shaffer’s play Equus from back in the Seventies, and many of these issues from my last post swirl around in its pages. The play hinges on a bad thing, a terrible thing, an evil thing. A teenage boy, Alan Strang, is found to have blinded six horses with a spike, all in one night. The job of a psychiatrist, Martin Dysart, is to decipher the psyche of the young boy, and ‘fix’ him.
But Dysert gets upended in a way he could never have anticipated. In the very normalizing of the boy, he starts to suspect he may be fighting evil with evil. He dreams of being a priest back in Homeric Greece, sacrificing a herd of children to some dreadful, hungry deity called The Normal:
The Normal is the good smile in a child’s eyes – alright. It is also the dead stare in a million adults…it is also the Ordinary made beautiful; it is also the Average made lethal…my compassion is honest…but also, beyond question – I have cut from them parts of individuality repugnant to this God, in both his aspects. Parts sacred to rarer and more wonderful Gods.
Gradually the story of that night in the stable assembles itself: an encounter with his father in the audience of a blue movie, an attempted deflowering by a young woman, and the strange Horse God he calls Equus filling his mind at the crucial moment: