Preparing a script for a production of Antigone I am struck by a couple of lines celebrating the certainty of the tragic story. It is a form in which hope is relinquished, that ‘bastard hope’ that is in melodrama, romance, even kitchen sink realism. Instead, the argument goes, once hope is relinquished, tranquillity is possible.
As I ponder that concept, the local council knocks back our request for a minimal subsidy for the local museum which celebrates working class history, and I realise the foolishness of the hope embodied in our application for a subsidy, a hope that the business-owning councillors will feel any resonance with the working class heritage of the Coast, that the Marxist agenda, expressed as hope, is a nonsense. That instead, its failure or its success must be seen as certainties. Take your pick. And if failure is chosen, then the certainty of capitalism is accepted, with its criminality and greed. Or if success is chosen then the hopelessness of understanding or resonance from the other side must be accepted as certainties.
There must be a similar certainty with the climate crisis. We will either change our ways or not. Take your pick. If not, party on. If we will change, there is no forgiveness or excuse, and the action will need to be as resolute and as certain as the action of a tragedy. And then we can experience tranquillity.
And can there be humour in the tragic model? Yes, provided sometimes by the chorus, who are watchfully getting on with subsistence as the important people suffer their tragic destinies. But there is a difference now. We are all important and at the same time, all members of the chorus.