Erika and I met tonight to discuss Lady Smatter, Cecilia and how their journeys connected to the overall center meaning of the play: the what is the what of the play.
As we worked, I began to realize that the first scene between Lady Smatter and Cecilia aside from setting up a lovely sea-saw of status play, also felt a bit like a religious zealot looking desperately for a convert. And the more she, Lady Smatter, is "shunned" or questioned by Cecilia the harder she tries to defend the specialness of her purpose.
I discussed this with Erika and it became clear that this religious feeling of Lady Smatter's toward her authors and criticism was used again and again. When Beaufort says he has no interest in her authors -- she cries out that he has blasphemed! Her passion for literature and "knowledge" is so strong that is seems her only life purpose. Her authors are her Gods and her Esprit Party is her church.
Erika felt that her character Cecilia, and Beufort's devotion to the ideal vision of Love was also a bit overworked and zealous - and without any ground in reality.
Both Lady Smatter's devotion and Cecilia/Beaufort's seem to be full of passion without any real matter or ground to stand on.
(It reminded me of the image/gesture I came up with in our last Sunday meeting....that all of these characters are dancing as fast as they can on a cloud because if they slow down or really stop to look at themselves or each other -- they will fall right through the cloud -- so they have to keep their little dangling legs and floppy feet on the move)
We started then to play with some potential themes around this idea:
Religious devotion to false idols makes idiots of us all.
Religious devotion to false idols leads us to worship false wisdom.
Passion for passion and Passion for knowledge that are not grounded in wisdom lead us to ruin.
We then noticed the last line in the final scene of Act II between Lady Smatter/Cecilia as Smatter exits...
Lady Smatter: Tis vain to reason with a person in passion
If Censor is reason and all the rest of the people are lost in various modes of passion -- this line really speaks to the whole.
Finally, I am reminded of something Casey brought up a couple weeks ago -- that the role of the "Censer" in mass is to purify the earth -- he is the one that comes through with the incense.
Censor blows Reason into the dancing faces/groundless feet of Passion so that maybe Wisdom can prevail.