THE NAME OF THE MOON
The theme of Caligula is integrated into several cycles in the constellation of Pandur´s theatrical journeys. This constellation is made out of historical and artistic eras, remarkable and extraordinary mythical and historical figures, who changed the world; different faces of the world we normally consider self-evident; never completely told (therefore extreme and epic) stories, great quests and journeys – in short: enormous theatrical timelines and spaces condensed into minute, hidden details; huge theaters closed into small laced boxes from which they have to be freed.
What do we know of the Roman Emperor Gaius Caligula? Basically only what Svetonius wrote about him. But what and how much do we know of Svetonius? Can we entirely believe his testimony? Svetonius was the state chronicler and the official scribe of the regime, and such men always lie and bend the truth for pay or someone else’s good. Perhaps this is why the story of the monstrous emperor named Caligula (meaning ‘little boot’) is in reality far more complicated than the facts of his ‘madness’ tell us. And what does such a diagnosis, after Lacan and Foucault, after such a span of time, actually mean today?
Caligula’s obsession with the Moon is one of the ‘dark sides of the Moon’, about which Svetonius, in his imperial biography, cannot tell us anything for certain. Is it not too naive, too gullible, to label someone mad, someone who wants to posses the Moon in a world and time when everybody around him from the poorest slave to greatest poet and saint craves for a potion of eternal youth, an invisible powder, or an ointment of invincibility? Cruel, without mercy, ‘pathologically bloodthirsty’. Is this portrayal of the almighty Roman Caesar with an absolute power to rule the world valid today, in our time, for us who have witnessed, not so long ago, entirely anonymous mortals leaving incomparably more victims behind them, justifying their actions in the same manner, by the same abstract and ‘heavenly’ right? Is it not hypocritical to label the ‘Divine Emperor’ a monster because he loved his older sister (and he did it in a pre-Christian society where incest did not present a social taboo) in today’s world where our first neighbors abuse their own and other under aged children? And foremost, is it not too naive to believe every word some Svetonius left us, when we know almost everything of the fiction that creates reality and the official fabrications of truth?
Albert Camus raised these same questions sixty years ago. His Caligula is simply a man, confronted with the absurdity of existence. Confronted with the final and most extreme absurdity because his own existence is in the sphere of extremity – for in his own time as the Emperor of the world he is undoubtedly almighty; hence his impotence to gain the only thing he really wanted is grandiosely absurd. But Camus brings him back on the stage in a time when new pretenders for the title of absolute rulers of the world emerge, in a time that created horrors, cruelties and dictatorial ravings compared to which ‘the crazy’ Roman Emperor was only a naive little boy, lost in the game bigger than his ability to understand it. Returning to this theme today, Pandur is first of all interested in Caligula’s moon theatre. The only unrealized wish of the almighty Caesar – to possess the Moon – and the magnificent performance he creates around it. The performance in which the whole of Rome represents the cast and which only he observes, from the inside, as the main character, as the only interested spectator, director and actor, who hopelessly tries to find his unattainable companion, the Moon, without which the performance remains unfinished and his entire unimaginable endeavor is in vain. Perhaps the meaning of this theatre is exactly this: it must be reborn over and over again, without the slightest possibility that the play and the search for the Moon will lead to the end of the performance and the withdrawal from the repertoire? How unspeakable is Caligula’s loneliness, because he possesses the entire and immense theatre and lacks only the reason and meaning to create it? Is his craving for the Moon more real and more important than all small and great desires for which people around him live and die? And among other things, does he have the right to the one and only wish in his life? ‘How sad and lonely a man must be when he can do whatever he pleases except the thing he really wants?’ And, is his wish really something so bizarre and insane? Is it not true that each and every one of us has a Moon, a Moon we crave for and it and only it is the only thing we cannot have? What is the name of this Moon? That’s the question we as spectators raise with Pandur today.
'I is someone else.' (A. Rimbaud)
Who is this ‘other’ Caligula, the third Roman emperor, who has always been looked for there where he hasn’t been – except on that fatal day – January 24, in 41 a.d. – when he was murdred, at 29, after only four years of his reign? To which God, to which goddess does Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, called Caligula, bow to when he wants to capture the unattainable and the impossible? The day of the week is Friday, ‘dies veneris’, when like Venus he enters his Lunar theatre, to celebrate Venera Genetrix in honour of the Veneralia, a dove in his hand as a symbol of Venus, the wife of Mars, goddess of beauty and love. Gaius Caesar Caligula who, as the sole protagonist of his Lunar theatre, in the reflection from the other side of the Sun – changes form, regenerates, measures, evokes beauty, brings rain, fertility, everything that is transient, so he could make a full circle in 28 days to discover the unknown, the truth, the archetypal. He treads the milky way that separates the earthly world and the world of the gods, into a sphere where birds and souls travel between worlds; onto a path of those who seek, the path of the mystics who transgress the levels of the universe. As a demiurge he creates his Grand theatre, his world of truth, which he traced over to the smooth surface of the vulcanic lake Nemorenzis – where impossible becomes possible. In order to live alone, a man has to be either an animal, or a god, or a philosopher. But there’s always someone’s heart at stake – as in the Egyptian Book of the Dead – in the passing over to Death, to the West (as the Egyptians believed), in the passing over to some other light, where Caligula as Anubis, the god of funeral ceremonies, embalming the idea of happiness, enters the Theatre. ‘We have art, so we wouldn’t die from the truth.’ His theatre is his religion. It is a clear perspective and a clear thought: ‘In every unfinished form made in cramps, in every move, metaphore or a prayer smitten by the sword, eternity loses a game.’ He proclaims in his theatre’s manifesto: ‘An exciting illusion of the truth, the most beautiful performance in the world, a magnificent setting of the divine force on Earth, a wonderful and incomparable attraction, thunder and lightning, destiny itself in its triumphal march. ...that is the art of drama. ...people make mistakes because they do not believe in the theatre enough.’ That is how Caligula’s life becomes a living theatre, a journey with no boundaries, into the galaxies of the invisible and the unconscious. A poet on his throne to whom the divine clairvoyance of a lonewolf is given. In this ‘Luna park’ Caligula sees the reflection of power, free will, the absurd destiny of the individual to become the almighty ‘golden idol’ in his search for the truth. Experiencing the glory of ‘the actor’ who dies until he is resurrected again, until he is born again. Who brings forth new idols, multiplied images of himself, in order to draw a new map of the whole, an eroticon of a traveller in time, the matrix of the Essence, a file of emotions, colours and odours. To write a new encyclopaedia of values. A textbook of happiness like Ovid in 2 b.c. when he wrote the textbook of seduction entitled ‘Ars amatoria’ – ‘The Art of Love’ and declared at the time of the emperor Augustus: ‘I will live for all times.’ Caligula lives for all times, but during his short reign, only ashes and speculation are left of his truth. Since the 5th century b.c. Rome has remembered 250 rulers, their rising and falling, insanities, visions, decadence, carnevalism, sexual perversion, the emperors were hailed, beloved, but mostly executed, they left hatred behind them... Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, called Caligula – ‘little (soldier’s) boot’, left nothing himself, or he didn’t leave enough in order for us to get a proper picture of him. But in his absurd Empire of power, with his idea of Truth, with his rebellion against lies, against hypocrisy, mediocrity – he took down a two thousand year old myth about the ‘insane’ Caesar. On the new age stage he is the flesh wound of knowledge, of awareness, of perception – an open horizon of the intellectual and the hypersensitive; of action and thought. Of the fall into ‘Nothingness’. In the twilight of the gods, who make way for a man of limitless freedom, of almighty will, a godlike man. The triumph of love and beauty in the dark glow of the Moon, which in the wolf’s layer feed on poisonous milk, transfigured into impotence, evil and crime. Into a tragedy of Thought.
In a dialectics of terror, fed on hatred and fear, the instrument of torture operates infallibly. But everyone has a right to have their stars, their time, their universe, none of whom is harmonious with the stars, the times and the universes of others. Caligula – the same as Camus – does not seek the lost time, but happiness: ‘This is my world and I cannot live hating it.’ From 12 a.d. to 2008, Caligula wonders: ‘Whose heart, whose God, holds the depth of the lake for me?’ In an eternal struggle to reach his visions, in the final night at the lake Nemorenzis, in the arms of Milonia Cesonia, under the dark light of the Moon, he knows that he achieved the Impossible. He travels through worlds in a transfusion of all forms, enriched with a new speed, the speed of Beauty.