Tag: Kenneth Tynan

The Summer of a Dormouse – Byron quote

When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation) – sleep, eating and swilling – buttoning and unbuttoning – how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse…

Quote found in Kenneth Tynan’s Diaries, 16 November, 1972

Byron has given me the perfect title for an autobiography if I ever write one: The Summer of a Dormouse. It’s from a letter:
When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation) – sleep, eating and swilling – buttoning and unbuttoning – how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse…

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan

(Highly recommended book)

“An actor is a man who pretends to be someone who is usually pretending to be someone else.” – Kenneth Tynan

How much of theatre has to do with imposture! Walter Kerr, in his brilliant book The Silent Clowns, points out that Chaplin’s genius lay in his ability to assume any identity at the drop of a hat – to become, in a split second, according to the demands of the plot, a great lover, a great gymnast, violinist, skater, thief, gourmet, conjurer, etc. etc., while having, at bottom, no true identity of his own. This leads me to reflect how much of world drama concerns people pretending to be what they aren’t. Hamlet feigns madness; the noble King of Thebes is an incestuous patricide; Kent pretends to be a serving-man, Edgar to be a mad beggar, In Too True to Be Good (which I saw last week in Clifford’s excellent production) nobody is what he seems – the humble Private Meek is in fact the military commander, while the commander himself is a frustrated water-colourist; the confidence trickster is a priest; his henchwoman poses first as a nurse and then as a countess. Throughout Shaw, burglars turn out to be philosophers, and villainous exploiters turn out to be heroes; even Saint Joan dresses up as a man. Mistaken identity is not only what the craft of acting is all about; it is what much Of drama is all about. An actor is a man who pretends to be someone who is usually pretending to be someone else.

November 16, 1975

Kenneth Tynan. The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan

Dreams – how do they work? Kenneth Tynan ponders

Whenever we solve the problem of dreams, we shall not be far from solving the root problems of human identity and creativity. Has anyone noticed the really inexplicable thing about our nightly narrative tapes? They have suspense. This occurred to me last night, when I was involved in a Hitchcock-type chase dream—in which, I suddenly realized, I did not know what was going to happen next. I did not know who would be lurking behind the next door; and I wanted desperately to know. What part of one’s mind is it that harbours secrets unknown even to the unconscious?  (For in dreams we are surely privy to the unconscious in full flood.) The theory that in dreams we tap a source of energy outside the individual psyche is powerfully reinforced by the presence of suspense.

Diaries, Kenneth Tynan

more Tynan –
Tynan on the true nature of a car wash

Car wash as ritual cleansing

“I took the Buick to a carwash yesterday. There was a steady flow of cars entering it, and I noticed that almost all of them were perfectly clean. The institution of the carwash in California really has very little to do with the washing of cars. It’s more of a ritual — a ceremony of self-purification. It is not your car but you, its owner, who feels cleaner and better as it emerges gleaming from the assembly line, to be polished by the Chicano staff. For an extra dollar (which I spend) you can send the car through a device that subjects it to a boiling spray of Carnuba wax. This represents the annealing fire through which the soul must pass if it is to be purified. I always climb back into my cleansed car feeling, as I am sure Catholics must feel after Confession, a better man.”

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, edited by John Lahr