Thursday, January 03, 2008

the tru and the false

I know most folks read new and recent shit. And stuff they were told that are classics from their family and teachers. Instead of sulking over the holidays, I read a few books, don’t know why but I’ve been into plays lately. Just finished reading a book of plays by this French Jones named Racine. He posed to be one of the best French Play writes they say. But Jones can’t put a finger on Moliere and reading him made me go back and read Tartuffe – some of the funniest shit a nigger will ever read.

Folks don’t write like they have a command of language and intelect anymore. Especialy folks my complexion. Just like music today we want to write what sales or what folks will buy. And just as in the music game, there are few real indepenent and spirited voices in Arican American literature. And yo folk her aint no E Lynn Jerome Dickey Tyree type. I mean if I didn’t sale books I’d still write: plays, essays, verse, short stories what have you.

Voltaire, true is my all time favorite and I am honored to say so. But few folks presently have or evince the intellectual squib or derision, to even approach the skill of a Voltaire or a Moliere – albeit I try.

Tartuffe had me rolling main, just like the first time I read it in the 9th grade. At that time, I was mad I had to read a motherfucker whose name sounded like a pocketbook made with fish eggs.

In the story, I mean the play; the author is able, without the employment of dialogue or soliloquy, to show the heart of hypocrisy. The main character, Tartuffe is a hypocrite who deceives this cat named Orgon into giving all his shit to him. Now his woman, a real woman, Elmire, after she couldn’t show her man Tartuffe was a regular mark, flirted with Jones so that she could find out what Tartuffe was really about.

Thus all of the play is about Orgon and the people around him and why would he cherish a person who only desired to take advantage of him. To make a long story short, Orgon finally realizes Tartuffe's character and directs he moves out of his home. Being the fuck boy he is, Tartuffe tries to take all of Jones shit and at the same time disgrace and tarnish his name and reputation.

All of this reminded me that there is nothing new. That’s probably why of the entire play written by Moliere the following quote sticks out the most: “Your simulators don't disarm my wits. Like courage, piety has its hypocrites. Just as we see, where honor beckons most, the truly brave are not the ones who boast; the truly pious people, even so, are not the ones who make the biggest show. What? Do you really see no difference between devoutness and devout pretense? Do you want to give them both the selfsame place, honor the mask just as you do the face, equate artifice with sincerity, and take similitude for verity? Isn't there any difference for you between phantoms and men, false coins and true?” (Act 1, Scene 5, Line 324-338).

Tartuffe was the ultimate Christian in word but his actions showed that he was a hypocrite. He was the first to take and never give and blame others before himself. And believe me you there are Tartuffe’s, all around us. Folks that say others need Jesus in their lives but lie neglect their kids and don’t provide for themselves. Folks that point and blame others but never taking responsibility for their actions. Folks that say they love others in words, but cut, stab, shoot and destroy the property of others. Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe I’m like Cleante when he said in the play “I don't possess the wisdom of the ages, and I am not a learned sage; of sages; my only knowledge and my only art is this: to tell the true and false apart.” (Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 351-354).

PS: shouts out to West Va pouncing Ok and D. Williams and 20 assist


dmarks said...


Blu Jewel said...

I'm an avid reader and has been exposed to some of the authors you mentioned. You're quite right that writers today do not write with flair and finess; instead with sellable content of mostly crap. No diss to those who've succeeded in their craft, but true content and a knack for fully utilizing the formal and/or true spoken word has mostly been captured by those of the early and former centuary.

Thanks for this post because it made me feel like less of a geek for my expanded reading repetoire. *smile*

Xcentric Pryncess said...

English major here <--- I loved Tartuffe and many of the authors mentioned. Even so, I think that writers use to have a certain quality to their craft because of their environments and the politics of the moment. I, as an aspriring writer, only wish that I could write like some of these historical writers. I think that technology and the media has limited much of our imaginiations making it that much harder to write with the eloquence and skill of writers past.

mp1 v.8.0 said...

Yo, West V killed them boys last night. It looked like a video game. I can't believe they were scoring that easily.

Voltaire...I've only read a few of his works (during a Euro. History and Poli Sci course) Dude was definitely an interesting read. I'm going to get back at him. I was definitely intrugued. Right now, I'm on my Harlem Renaissance era lit and history.

You a fool for that Tartuffe and ninth grade statement though. lol

BZ said...

I think I'm in love. LOL A man who can wittingly discuss Tartuffe AND shout out football at the same time. *sigh*

Tartuffe has to be one of my favs as well. If you like plays, you should read Waiting for Godot by Beckett. You will laugh your a$$ off. Or, Sartre's one-act, No Exit in which the famed phrase was coined, "Hell is other people."

Moliere also did a version of Don Juan, entitled Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre. It's the last part of his hipocrisy trilogy and is based off the legend of Don Juan (the subject of many playwrites, begining with Tirso De Molina's El Burlador de Sevilla in the 1600's. A far cry from what people understand to be the legend--more like Jack the Ripper, rather than the womanizer/gigolo people now understand him to be.

Anyway, I know this is mad long. But, as a lit lover and anthro hobbyist, and one who is so sick and tired of people's growing inability to articulate anything intelligently nowadays, I had to share. :-)

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with being well read. Tartuffes all around us? I the character is as you have described (i am not afraid to say I have not seen nor read the play) then such is a scarey thought.....on the extra tip, Wouldn't suprise me if Tyre or Dickey would have read either Racine of Moliere. E Lynn maybe, he is heads above the previous in skill set in my view

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Dmarks - yes, my fault too many brain cells still to kill

Blu - u a geek, never, folk here the nerd.

Xcentric - I agree and I would add that people dont read, they copy and committ writing sin number one in my eye - write for others, see i have to please and write for me first. I write how I talk and what i live and feel. A lot of writers scared to do such ( i call the fuckboy class of literature

MP1 - them cats in the HR was my elementary and jr. high scghool reading, in additio to marvel comics, strar trek novels and wrestling magazines (Cane is a great start-Jean Toomer). And two of my three top poetry inspirations came then too Countee Culen and Mr Harvard himself-Sterling Brown. Pableo Neurda is the third.

BZ - im flattered. u need to read some of my books one day. The bok of plays is coming out before summer. And Im familiar wit the triology, an the history of the actor playright. As well as his jesuit up bringing in Pompass-ass race at the time. Also Sartre. I wrote about him a while back. Breing and Nothingness is my fav philosophical tractate by him and The Wall-fiction. my fav play by him is DIRTY HANDS but have read NO EXIT and THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE also. now u sexy for that.

Anon - I will agree of the three ELH is exceptionally craftfu above and beyond the other two

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

MP1 - oh, and QUICKSAND & PASSING by Nela Larsen classic

GC said...

erm, I saw Tartuffe performed once. That's all I can say about French playwrights.

happy new year

Ms Sula said...

Oh my God! I love Moliere, but my favorite of his will always be Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman per Wikipedia)... Great stuff they had back then!

And you brought me back with Voltaire... Zadig is one of my all time favorite book!

Man, what passes as literature today... **smh**

(and thanks for coming thru the spot!)

"D" said...

Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be.

What do you see? If you see with your eyes only, you have not yet seen it!

One Love,

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

GC - no biggy

Sula - Zadig was the man he messed up the nobleman on that horse

D - i never followed absolutes, nor platonic logic, plese go more in to detail, im used to that

Christina said...

I've been pondering on what to have my kids read next for the up and coming home school semester. Thanks for the ideas! I will be reading along with them, since it seems I have missed a few you mentioned on your blog.
Thanks honey!

"D" said...

At your request.... lol

Seeing with your two eyes in your head is this....

You view an object, you make a mental image of the object (registration). You either like or dislike the object based upon the registration you make. This is the function of the eyes.

When using the eyes only, what do they tell you of the object you are observing? Surely they tell you nothing other than the specifics about the form of the object, right? Only when you have observed in an un attached way, can you use your mind to asses the movement of the object down to its very function. When your observation has been carefully deliberated, you can now see the object in its totality with clarity!

So I am sayin that if you have seen it with your eyes only you have not seen it.

On the first portion I was reffering to your blog in the play when you spoke of the man they let into their home and he was a snake. If they had done the above and observed the object without the intent to supress or change it but rather obseve it exactly as it is, they would have seen it.....

These are the symbols great writers use to teach us. It is a lesson of what happens when you form a judgment of someone on just their form alone and not them in totality.

A little better? lol Don't act like you needed me to dumb it down for you cause you are a smart Kat!

One Love,

DEEZEE said...

I can always count on coming to your blog for for a good read. Thanks for the support. Love ya!

MrsGrapevine said...

My friend and I were just having that debate. I am Enlish Lit Major with Creative Fiction Writing emphasis, I know don't tell anybody.

Anyway, I have been invited to join book clubs only to discover, non-academic urban fiction, which I don't consider art. I am a bit of snob when it comes to my books. I need metaphors, themes, theories, and literary concepts. I'm not big on plays, although I do have a few that I feel are ingenious, such as Huis Clos by Sartre, The End Game by Samuel Beckett, and Salome by Oscar Wild.

But, I really like fiction and I am drawn to the dark side of writing. My list includes Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Albert Camus, Flannery O'Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, and of course Toni Morrison.

so to hear someone say they don't like the literature of today, is breath of fresh air. I enjoy the classics

MrsGrapevine said...

You're my literary twin, we both picked Huis Clos (No Exit) by Sartre, and we both recommended a play by Beckett. I can tell you have good taste girl.

Tenacious said...

Thanks for stopping by my humble abode...and good look on the books...I'm always looking for new things to read and learn :)

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

christina - sound like u have great kids and thank u

D - exceptional. thats why i asked u 2 eloborate i see lucidly now i take it i am a great writer

mrsgrapevine - i write horror too thus the poe inluence another av just as the PLAGUE, i mean Camus - him and frantz Fanon and Satre were folk read me if u aint afeared

Tenacious - do that get all 6, and let yo folk know what u think of his writings

Deezee - u better cum back

Ali's Zay said...

I've read all of the books you mention and I read them in French. Some cool shit for sure! The classics have greatly influenced my own writing style, though I prefer to write in English. I'm curious, who is your favorite French poet? Mine is Baudelaire.

To answer your question, my book, Lovers Anonymous, is available at all major book stores.


For a diferent flavor, check out my personal blog at

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Ali - see the quote at the top of my blog "everything in this world exudes crime" Baudelaire

We have similar taste and u better than me dont speak nor read french. But can handle Igbo, wolof, German and a lil arabic (reading only)

"D" said...

Have I ever said anything else?

Indeed you are!
One Love,

Nicole said...

Man, my list of authors to read is long enough w/out you addin' to it...(jk, I appreciate it). When it comes to plays, I'm an August Wilson, Tennessee Williams junkie but I'm expanding my repertoire this year. School's teach a limited view of the classics and most fail to instill a love of them (and that's not a stab at educators bc they try). And yes, there are many books being produced, but not much literature. When an author touches me, one of the first things I want to know is who influenced them bc it can tell a lot.

aquababie said...

adding tartuffe to my list. i've never read him :)

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

D - im blusshing

Nicole - well mine was Voltaire, Neurda, Huges, Camus,& Maya mainly, among others so i hope it influnces u to consume some of my literature

aqua - u will love it

Deirdre said...

I love to read so I might chk these out. very interesting

lisa said...

When you say "new and recent shit" compared to Voltaire, my favs could be considered new and recent. . . I much prefer Octavia Butler, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin -classic- now,"The Amen Corner" is a play!!! (you been there :)

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Deirdre - i hope so, and i hope that includes me as well

Lisa - Octavia is not new-her first stories and books were in the early 70's (almost 40 yrs ago), i mean not to mention she was awarded a MacAuthor foundtion genious grant/award, new to me means 1990s plus

3BAAS said...

Is this the same Torrance Stephans from Memphis that went to The House back in the day???

You left a message over at, where two Morehouse brothers are trying to hold it down.

If you're the same cat, we need to catch up. If not, I'm loving the blog anyway and will add to our blogroll.


Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

3baas - the one and only folk

socalmuchacha said...

I'm afraid I have really only read "the classics" when required to for a course, but will definitely check into Tartuffe. Writing from back in the day seemed to have more of a lyrical quality to it; you felt as though you were floating along and involved in something akin to a beautiful song with a certain rhythm...not sure if that makes sense. ;)

Most recent author I was turned onto by a friend was Michael Chabon. One of my FAVORITE movies is "Wonder Boys" and I just knew I'd love Michael's books once I found out he'd written "Wonder Boys"--and I did! Read "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" first, then moved on to some of his other works. By no means in the category of writing you discussed in this blog entry, but I'm all about turning others onto great authors of all sorts. :) (And yes, I'm playing catch-up on your blog postings! :))

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

S0cal - yep, it makes sense, good sense

Emmanuelle said...

Glad you are enjoying french lit! it's the best really especially if you read it in french. Moliere and Racine and Voltaire have a lot of different plays , most of the titles boring but the line fascinating. You should look them up

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Emmanuelle - should have know with a name of the infamous frence sirene...Voltair is my influence read all of him, but I only read and speak Igbo, Wolof and German

Aunt Jackie said...

I saw an all black cast of Tartuffe when I was a talent agent years ago in San Francisco, it was by far one of the productions I've ever seen. The concept of beautiful black people bringing this story to life left a stain on my brain!

Camus on the other had is my love. He makes me want to run away to North Africa and never ever return.

I read The Stranger every summer...just because it reminds me of my youth!

Great Post!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

aunt jackie - Camus and sarte influenced one of my idols Frantz fanon. u know i used to live in africa: 16 mths post doc in Nigeria, 2 six mth stiunts in senegal, 3 months in ethiopia and last 5 summers in s. africa (which aint africa to me) unless kwa zulu natal. do drive by more often maam