New London, O’Neill, and me

I visited New London this past week and enjoyed the dense fog that had blanketed not just the small maritime city, but the region. What was particularly interesting was contemplating the sad, backwards looking playwright O’Neill. He did write a play, “Ile,” about John and Viola cook, a whaling captain and wife. People think way too much about “Moby Dick” and not enough about the other literary gems like “Ile”–or even Poe’s “Gordon Pym.” Anyway, John and Viola were a most unhappy couple, and too much wintering in the Arctic had a negative effect on their relationship–i.e., she went mad. He was a sadist, too.

During my visit and chat at Ft. Trumbull, I also thought of O’Neill’s recurring foghorn motif in “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” One couldn’t avoid hearing that sad unhappy croak periodically reminding you of some danger out there, awaiting….Fate is in the fog, always there and unapproachable. O’Neill used the same device in “Emperor Jones,” except that it was the drums….the drums….

Then it was time for some Thai soup. Fate didn’t intervene that night.