As is the case when I watch Full Metal Jacket, I find Pavlo Hummel much more interesting when viewed in this light—as an examination of “the eternal human pageant,” that constant process of interaction, performance, and construction.
Note: These are my initial thoughts on Millennium Approaches, written as a journal assignment in the fall of 1998. I’m tempted to revise it or pull it down altogether, but I’ve decided to keep it up here as an artifact of sorts.
To be quite honest, I don’t get Fornes’s play. But in this case (as opposed to a few other works I’ve read which have left me similarly perplexed), I feel somewhat driven to figure it out. I’ve decided to begin with the first clue Fornes gives us, the title. Following are my general impressions of Fefu and her friends:
In the third act of Etherege’s The Man of Mode, Young Bellair is surprised to learn that Harriet has as little interest in him (her intended husband) as he has in her. “‘Tis not unnatural for you women to be a little angry, you miss a conquest,” Bellair says, “though you would slight the poor man were he in power.” His comment acknowledges a gender-based power struggle that drives much of the action in Restoration comedy.
The other snapshots of religion offered in Nervous Conditions are equally disturbing. Through Tambu we see a child’s image of God. She speaks of being caned on Monday mornings for not attending the previous day’s Sunday School class. She waits in line as she and the other Africans are inspected for missing buttons and dirty socks. She sees her beloved uncle chastise his daughter for the embarrassment she causes him at church. And worst of all, she accepts it.