Drastic: from Grk. drastikos “effective, active, violent”, from drasteon
‘a thing done’, from drao,’ to make, do, act,’ which is of uncertain etymology.
The sense of ‘extreme, severe’ is recorded by 1808. Not before.
That’s something to love about language: the words just obey the rolling in of the mists, the abrasions of time. You have something you hold, you pull, and you leave most of it in the ground.
When it comes to drastic, things aren’t so panicky as we’d have them be. Go back far enough, and drastic is just ‘something that gets done’.
We had Nights of Grief and Mystery on the road for five of 2023’s months and then some. It started just as spring came on, bore down upon the home front, tore up the pavement of domestic life, wore through suitcase handles and peace of mind. It rolled across three continents. It came to rest on the the first of December, the drastic month for hyperboreans. We saw lots of places for the first time, found welcomes where we didn’t imagine them to be, made allies. We, Hoskins and I, did what it turns out we were born for. Some of you – many of you – noticed.
About half way through the show on Friday night, we made eye contact and he said, just loud enough that I could hear him: “I’m going to miss this”. He already was, of course. It was a drastic moment.
When you are in the presence of choreographed endings of any kind, ones that you make, and you do so in public, with a stage involved and the lights on, the etiquette isn’t clear. You’re in the green room for a while. The hall’s still empty. You’re alone with yourself. There’s a line you have to find. You have to help the people you’re with know they’re present for something that won’t be present for much longer. That could burden and blackmail the proceedings, weld them to melancholy to the point where the last time doesn’t really appear. No good, for anyone. Or you go drastic instead. You make a welcome for what won’t last, what’s unlasting even as you welcome it. You do your part to bring it all home, see to it that what you’re doing there at the end of things is what you mean to be doing. You say things, and play things, for what could be the last time. You don’t leave that out.
The venue was called The Paradise. Once we’d broken down the stage for the last time, packed the vehicle for the last time, idiot-checked the green room for the last time, turned around to wave goodbye to the whole thing, a fine rain falling and the thoroughfare gone quiet and midnight close at hand, that’s when we saw the marquee: “Welcome to Paradise”, it said. “Okay”, we said.
It’s drastic work to say goodbye to something you love. You have to stay in love with it to bid it farewell. Otherwise, you’re just ridding yourself of the latest thing. No good, for anyone.
So: Goodbye Nights of Grief and Mystery. Goodbye all of you allies who rose to the occasion and loved your home place. Nothing of your work is gone. Just done. Drastic. Goodbye to all of those wild stories, to the weepiness in the wires. Goodbye to you Charlie, who soothed the sound every night. Goodbye to mercies and the mysteries that laid claim to us. Goodbye to management Nathalie, who drew grace down upon us.
Goodbye to Gregory, fittest and finest of artists.
T’was a drastic thing.
Founder of Orphan Wisdom