Instead of beginning my dissertation prospectus, which really should be occupying a larger chunk of my life right now, I’ve discovered all sorts of distractions that can be justified away as “research.” The most recent was Tony Kushner’s play, Homebody/Kabul, which I picked up in hopes that it might be useful when it comes time to write my conclusion — you know, in the spring of 2004. See how it works? By reading a play a year-and-a-half in advance, I avoid feeling guilty for my inexcusable procrastination. The story of my life.
I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions after only one reading of Homebody/Kabul, except to say that, once again, Kushner has proven that he writes dialog with more magic and beauty and poetry than anyone since Shakespeare. Quite a claim, I know, but I’d defend it against all comers. Only Kushner could weave such a confounding and sublime metaphor from a description of computer networking, spoken by the homebody of the title, a woman disillusioned by loss and her lifeless husband:
I understand none of it and indeed it’s quite impossible imagining my husband having to do in any real way with processes so . . . speedy, myriad, nervous, miraculous. But that parti-colored cloud of gas there, in that galaxy there so far away, that cloud there so hot and blistered by clustering stars, exhaling protean scads of infinitely irreducible fiery data in the form of energy pulses and streams of slicing, shearing, unseeable light — does that nebula know it nebulates? Most likely not. So my husband.
87 words from an Act 1, Scene 1 monologue that extends through 21 pages and a full hour of the performance, a monologue that sifts through the 5000 year history of Afghanistan, drawing out the beauty and the barbarity of a nation whose troubles have so recently become enmeshed with our own. Homebody/Kabul began rehearsals at the New York Theatre Workshop in October, 2001. This fact has led so many critics to call the play “eerily prescient” that Kushner’s boyfriend has suggested that he adopt it as a drag persona: Ms. Eara Lee Prescient. It is odd to read the play now, knowing that Kushner’s obsession began years before the rest of us knew what a Taliban was or that such thing as a Northern Alliance even existed. Maybe “cared” is a better word than “knew” for that last sentence.
Hopefully I’ll have a full response to Homebody/Kabul written some time before Thanksgiving. Anything to keep me from that prospectus.