Seeking Faust by Dale Pendell
Seeking Faust is a wild, ribald, and irreverent ride through the realms of conjuring and alchemy, by the poet Dale Pendell, author of the acclaimed Pharmako trilogy on psychoactive plants. Seeking Faust is a comedy of 13 scenes in prose, following a verse prologue; the dramatic form is apposite, invoking its origins in the archaic rites of Dionysus, the god of vegetal life, intoxication and revolution.
With Seeking Faust, Pendell revisits the legend of Dr Faustus, giving his own slant to the story made famous by Marlowe and Goethe. Our protagonist is Wagner, Faust’s former student and apprentice, who has chosen the royal path of alchemy over his master’s necromantic conjurations. His goal, to seek his master whom rumour would have is ‘far from dead.’ By art Wagner makes his antagonist, the Serpent, appear. As Mephistopheles is Faust’s shamanic ally, so is the Serpent – a sexy hermaphrodite born from the homunculus – to Pendell’s Wagner. Born of the homunculus, the hermaphroditic Serpent leads our hero on a visionary journey through various illusory scenarios, including the evocation of Augustine, a psychedelic trip, an encounter with Freud, and eventually ending in jail, defended by Daniel Webster.
Pendell, known for his own adventures on the poison path (‘so completely articulated’ in Goethe’s Faust), here uses humour as a pharmakon to counter our postmodern malaise