Okay, so there are several parts to the play at this point: the prehistoric story, the modern story, and the documentary-style commentary going on over top of it. The prehistoric story seemed for the longest time to be the most solid bit we have worked out, but it’s also been bothering me and I’m not totally sure why. I think it has to do with the kind of forced business of our main character envisioning some abstract possible world, and then believing that it’s out there, so leaving the cave, et cetera et cetera… wasn’t really landing emotionally. Philosophically, maybe, but that’s not really enough.
So here’s a kind of ridiculous idea, or maybe not so ridiculous, can’t tell at the moment. I referred in an earlier post to the prehistoric story as being a kind of cave-Genesis story, and just now finally thought about what that could actually mean — an attempt to tell the ur-story that is the primal source for Genesis… almost in the way that Quest for Fire, God love it, tells a kind of ur-hero’s journey thing. Somewhere or other the marvellous Sir Frazer says (I can’t find the dang quote) something to this effect — the story changes, whereas the ritual remains the same; the ritual is vital, but whether the characters have Roman names or Christian ones or names that are long forgotten, the fundamental features must remain the same because they tell the deep truth, whether we understand it or not… that was a wild paraphrasing of something I might have imagined him to say, but, it being said, what if the prehistoric plot was like this:
The cave-puppeteers enter, and blow on the fire so that the cave begins to light up. They reveal a crude puppet of a caveman. They breathe into his nostrils to make him come to life. He is all overjoyed to be alive, and maybe names things around him with moans and grunts. But then enter a cavewoman: she’s wonderful, and they’re in love.
But then: enter the King Caveman, the alpha male, still mostly ape. He’s dragging in a lump of old meat he’s found out in the wastes; everybody feasts, he beats his chest victoriously, and takes our cavewoman as his woman.
Our caveman is distraught.
The cavewoman has a vision in the night, a wild and powerful event, with slithering spirits and animated shadows and who-knows-what-else — the first time in history that someone imagines something — the first vision of a better possibility — she imagines being with our hero caveman, a world where the might of the cave King wouldn’t impede their love.
She tries to describe it to our caveman, but he’s a bit too dim to get it. She paints a picture on the wall of them together. He sort of gets it: he paints himself as King. They make-a-the-love.
But enter cave King! They’re ashamed, and try to cover their offending genitals with leaves… or something? The King beats his chest and thrashes them both soundly, but they manage to escape, maybe by setting things on fire, the furs in the cave, so that they escape but the cave itself is full of fire and smoke and so the King has died in there probably.
Off they run into the wastes. They are soon starving, and eating dust. They travel and travel across vast landscapes. The caveman gets angry at the cavewoman, because he feels like they never should have messed with the King. They fight, even. And the cavewoman is more and more pregnant.
In the night, they see the ghost of the King appear to haunt them. But it turns out it’s a crazed hallucination: it’s actually some huge predator, who attacks! And the caveman throws himself in front of the predator, to save the cavewoman; he is mortally wounded, but manages to distract the beast long enough for the cavewoman to kill it.
Now she’s all alone, and everything seems lost and miserable.
But then she has her baby!
Or something. Not sure how to end it exactly.
Is this a terrible idea?