My life has been filled with obsessions, and for reasons too complex to go into here, about twenty-five years ago, one of them was Scottish history. With no knowledge ever completely wasted, it’s contributed to where and who I am today, struggling with this play, and especially to find any kind of empathy with its male characters.
Put simply, if I had a daughter, none of these men would be son-in-law material …
The consequences of people feeling there is no legal, peaceful alternative might be grim … Shakespeare shows us that in Titus and elsewhere.
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. (PRINCE HAL: 1 Henry IV. I.ii)
I’d love to ascribe these lines to our leaders, but I reserve them for myself today …
“Don’t expect gratitude from anyone who makes it thanks to you”
Subtitled: The Curse of the ‘Without-Whoms’
Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe (The Prince) original publication 1532
This is close to the top of my list of for the Cultural Capital series – a short, highly influential read, freely available: something which, frankly, you ought to have read by the time you hit university – whether or not you are an English Lit student.It’s the kind of thing that certain people, in certain circles, will expect you to have a working knowledge of in the big bad world.
Anyway, to this week’s quotation.Consider the following:
If there’s another Shakespeare play in which dreams loom as large, I’ve yet to read it …
PTS Shakespeare read-through – Richard III, Act I sc iv.
Back in early 1997, I discovered that my eldest son was on his way. The pregnancy was unplanned, and to say the least a shock to a frankly very immature young man who was focussed on nothing but wine, women and song – not necessarily in that order. To be fair to him, books sometimes made an appearance, too. He was, I like to think, a completely different person to the one who’s writing this evening – I look back on him with some shame (on sleepness nights), listing the apologies I owe people.
Anyway, that night, I dreamed that I was eating scissors – large pairs, practically garden shears – but as I chewed them, they transformed into soft, grey liquorice (which I happen to enjoy, luckily).
Disturbed, I went to my mum, who has the folk wisdom of the ancients in some things, and absolutely no common-sense when it comes to others (oh, the stories I could tell). She does, though, have an almost medieval belief in dreams. I told her my dream, but not my news. And she told me that although I was expecting, dreading hard times ahead, I’d find that what I feared would actually be far, far better than expected.
She was right …
So I’m interested, with a lower case ‘i’, in dreams, with a lower case ‘d’. I have many very lucid dreams, and lots of nested dreams, a bit like the film Inception, where through effort I can transfer from one dream to another. They fascinate me, even as they unsettle me.
And if there’s another Shakespeare play in which dreams loom as large, I’ve yet to read it …
I think I might finally have achieved critical mass. One of my students (thanks, Struckers) pointed out today that I’ve got a Shakespeare quotation for every occasion. That pleased me quite a bit, in the way that only an unabashed nerd can take pleasure from their weird obsession being recognised by others (even if they are being gently mocked) …