Peter Case

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Notes on Jacques-Pierre


(from Shakespeare Wars, by Ron Rosenbaum)

‘A highly developed, acute servant of other people’s truths.’

‘He’s someone who empties himself out.’

‘A million percent alive… this person, walking through the streets of London must have lived each single moment with an incredible richness of awareness, so many levels, infinite levels of meaning.’

‘ He can overhear and notice two kinds of things: all the life & noise pouring out with great excitement. Yet at the same time, even though he is a very practical man, he can evoke in words faraway worlds, strange tales, astonishing ideas, and develop & link them to an intimation of meaning in society, in regard to the gods, a sense of cosmic reality, these were all pulsing through his mind, all these levels at the same time.’

‘he didn’t have a lot of quiet attentive people in a dark room such as this.’ ‘It was rather, the most mixed audience that ever existed in the  theater: thieves, pickpockets, whores, drunks, half drunks, brawling in fights. As well as,  of course, the bourgeosie, there for entertainment, sophisticates, looking for the things that are sharp, witty, erudite. It is difficult to understand how deeply difficult the task was: at every moment he had to bring all these along, because if you learn anything from theater it’s that if you lose part of an audience, you’re DEAD. The work is to bring them all together into one organism beating with one heart…’

‘the outer life & the inner life: Sometimes within are single line -which on the surface is so clear it registers on the most crude, vulgar level, yet within that line there may be an adjective, some vibrant word that both keeps the clarity on the surface, but at the same time suggests something way beyond it.’

‘a performance should bring… the audience to the highest level of life within them.’

the secret play

‘ there’s a moment there at the end of each line, that pause, a moment to reach into yourself & find the next set of words. It’s in  that pause that, given the idea that you’re trying to express, you choose words to express them.’ ‘a moment of poise.’

‘the beautifully poised moment in Jacques-Pierre in which one finds oneself on the very threshold of comprehension.’

‘transformative: the end of each line is not a dead pause, but a live pause, a kind of… kinetic poised springboard to launch with new energy (linguistically & intellectually) into the line following. A moment of dramatic surprise or suspension at the end of every line.’

‘A complex art that comes into being only of the person…kept all those whirling levels alive within him.’

the tragic burden of bottomlessness

‘Someone who has within him the vision of bottomless infinitude.’

‘the mystery, the tragedy of bottomless consciousness. What it is to walk around with that kind of awareness.’

‘burdened by knowing too much. Bottom having just had his dream of bottomlessness. Mercutio, someone for whom the language itself is a dizzying spiral into which he almost disappears. Falstaff plumbing the bottomless depth of his own lies.’

‘both elevated & burdened by being a million percent alive to the infinitude of creation.’

‘…limitless, and awareness of personal limitation. The unforgiving deadline of mortality.’

‘King of infinite space’ but also ‘bounded in a nutshell.’  — Ron Rosenbaum reporting on a conversation with Peter Brook

‘I always try to turn a song on it’s head. Otherwise, I figure I’m wasting the listener’s time’   -BD

‘The greatest guiding principle: boredom’

‘drama: what one is being shown, & what one is seeing.’

‘The Spirit searcheth everything, yea, even  the bottom of God’s secrets.’

‘A simple, straight, real man, with an extraordinary metaphysical consciousness.’

‘If you take away the supernatural, you might as well burn the entirety of his works.’


metaphysical thought

political thought

a social sense of life

a sense of human comedy

a sense of human tragedy

a joy in human vulgarity

a likeness for human likeness

a joy in human grossness.

‘the void, charged with potential’

the void, emptiness

the sense of vibrancy within the infinite space of the void

‘potential… of a single vibrant word’ to create a world, to release infinite energies’

he liked to create the sense of bottomlessness, the bottom falling out, dropping out.

‘the excellence of every Art is it’s intensity, capable of making all disagreeables evaporate, from their being in close relationship with beauty & truth- Examine King Lear & you will find this exemplified throughout. But in this picture (Benjamen West’s Death On The Pale Horse) we have unpleasantness without any momentous depth of speculation excited, in which to bury it’s repulsiveness.’

intensity: the greeting of the Spirit & it’s object.

‘the Axis of Jacques-Pierre’s universe is the silence of Cordelia.’

two different personalities: the ‘mythic’ and the ‘realist.’

‘Now Ariel, I am that I am, your late and lonely master, who knows what magic is; -the power to enchant that comes from disillusion.’   -The Sea & The Mirror

‘the refusal to be yourself becomes a serious despair, the love nothing, the fear all.’

‘…you might sometimes be with someone who’s got no song to sing, and I believe you can help someone out…’

‘…the great & prolific creators who produce a world.’

‘ Just the right phrase  can go a long way.’  -Chris Rock

invention: the finding of suitable topics. ‘a finding, a reaching into oneself to find what comes next.’

a consideration of essence as opposed to accidental modifications.

Most of the notes above are from Shakespeare Wars by Ron Rosenbaum, also The Sea & The Mirror by WH Auden, Peter Brook,  Chris Rock, and Bob Dylan.



  1. PC!

    Glad to see you back on your own blog!

    Who said that bit about boredom being the guiding principle? I don’t follow that. I’m never bored even in the boardroom (“the chairman of this boredom is a compliment collector” — EC). Isn’t boredom the stilled imagination? Tho, of course, my never being bored may be why others find me boring … the millenials I work with claim I’m a windbag!

    Could you say something about the quote regarding Shakespeare’s forum? … his audience … the inattentive … ranging from beggars to kings. You’ve sung in the street and at the Hollywood Bowl. How does context inform your work? These folks clubs we haunt are filled with mostly reflections of ourselves (right?) … when you play to yourself, where’s the challenge to bring everyone together as a single organism beating with one heart?

    By the way, I loved the Keroauc piece on WS. He, naturally, praises the bard for his, according to JK, unedited flow. But I’m not sure about that: Shakespeare’s texts are contested in and of themselves. What counts as the “real” version? The folios or otherwise? JK’s idea of a single mind with its spontaneous (to be sure, highly informed) flow may be seen as naive. I found the Joyce references in the piece to be quite useful. JK is correct that Joyce didn’t have the dramatical skill of WS. Tho, that could be the point of foregrounding thought i.e. pushing narrative to the back burner where it fucking belongs! There is no beginning and end. The beginning is the end and vice versa.

    In any case, it’s good to be talking over here.

    Best, David Ackles, fraudulent as ever

    1. boredom: hey DA I forget who said that…but it rings true as an principle for editing/directing your writing. I’m rarely bored EXCEPT when viewing my own work in progress! Then, I feel sometimes like I’m missing the gist of what I need to say. Yes other people do find a windbag boring, the first rule of entertainment and art is NEVER BORE THEM. But of course thats complicated because of the audience. Some get bored with anything except nudity and explosions. Which brings us to

      audience: I find this quote useful especially when playing for other peoples crowds, frequently opening shows for people who don’t know me from #@$, but all of this is complicated by the times we live in. Because in Willies time at least they were AT his gig, WILLING to be entertained! So many, many options now.

      I’ve always made songs I felt I could sing anywhere, used to say “I could walk in any bar in the country and sing these, and people may not agree with what I’m saying, but they’d listen and get it” and that applies even to surreal or stranger type material, for example Turning Blue, from Torn again. If the language is fresh, the storyline hits from a new angle, etc…the audience pricks up their ears.

      Yes busking really helped develop a sense of having to get across quickly, of getting their attention.

      And even when the audience is very similar in certain ways, its still a big thing to bring the whole room up together. And you get tuned in as a performer to HOW MUCH is really being conveyed. What are you trying to deliver?

      Kerouac: yes its probably naive, and maybe he’s speaking more of his own writing, but there is some evidence that WS wrote very quickly. The point I took away, beyond the spontaneous thing, which I’m not as interested in, is the thing about Shakespeare’s SOUND. The mouthings of sound being the basis for the meaning. Thats far out, very relevant to song writing.

      The way it sounds is so important. Without that meaning is too limited to get across in a powerful way.

      Good to hear from you DA, here we are again!

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