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 …
Claiming ‘Shakespeare was this or that’, or worse, ‘Shakespeare did not write the plays’, does NOT entitle you to a mic-drop. It just shows your intellectual bankruptcy …
I’ve written elsewhere about the Rally of Revenge – about my unease that once you abandon all faith in ‘due process‘ or ‘justice‘ (either earthly or divine); once you understand that inequality is endemic, you have nothing left to lose – if you are already losing – so keep raising the stakes until someone has to leave the game. If it’s uncomfortable, perhaps it’s also sometimes necessary, to affect change of a fundamentally broken system. You might not see the benefits yourself. Hey, if you have to leave the game, then so be it: losing can become preferable to playing along, eventually.
There are always other games, other paths, whilst we are still alive – experience has taught me that, even if Shakespeare hasn’t.
And that’s where I find myself, professionally, this weekend. Approaching change, but ready for it, and maybe, in some ways, relieved that an unhappy stasis has broken. There are always other games.
There is a third way – for revenge – I’ve not written about before. The poet George Herbert(1593-1633) suggested that:
Living well is the best revenge.
And I’ll embrace and adapt that, in a ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ sense.
Living well equals happiness. LAUGHTER is the best revenge.
Today, I intend to laugh at someone. Long, and hard.
It often takes something (we consider) sub-human to remind us of our humanity …
‘… you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.’
Not that you needed me to complete the speech, I dare say … I’m also guessing you want to watch it again (I had to), so here it is.
The weekend brings an exciting reward for my ‘holiday’ week’s hard marking. On consecutive nights I’ll be watching Bladerunner: The Final Cut, and then Bladerunner 2049. And I’ve got my tattered copy of Philip K Dick‘s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep‘ (1968) out – the first non-Shakespeare/EMP book I have read in weeks, or perhaps even months …
Yet there is, because there always is, an opportunity for me to connect to Shakespeare.
Christ, this is IT […] THIS is why I do it. All of it.
W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up (Penguin: London, 1992)
Today’s post is all about one simple fact: the world-wide-web existed centuries before the Internet. Before electricity, in fact. And I want you to plug into it.
I find it apposite, and slightly ironic that writing about Shakespeare, and without any deliberate choice on my part – I promise you – I’m listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack as I type this. My other literary love is Science Fiction, and again, the point I’m making relates to that intoxicating cocktail of the 16th and 26th centuries, with a dash of the present thrown in.
Working in a school, of courseI met several people who seemed genuinely frightened by the eerie sky that only half-illumined our collective journey to work on Monday – some, only some, of them were pupils …
Conditions really were awe-inspiring up here in the frozen North of England.
(subtitled, far too obviously for the UK football fans amongst us, ‘who ate all the pies?’)
I warned you! I WARNED YOU! Did I warn you?
Yes, I did. And so did Francis Bacon. And Jonathan Bate. And Fredson Bowers. We all said that revenge was likely to spiral out of control, because once you lose your faith in the law, and in divine justice too, all bets are off. And because every stroke in the ‘rally of revenge‘ is that much harder, has that much more spin on it than the last. Let’s mix our metaphors again: in this particular poker game, someone, eventually, is going to see your stake and raise you with everything they’ve got, not caring any more whether they win or lose. The chips, and what they represent, are suddenly and utterly unimportant …
Alison Weir, The Princes In The Tower (London: The Folio Society, 1992)
A slight rearrangement of this section. Instead of one huge sticky post, it’s easier to post as and when I come across something worth sharing. You can see the previous mega-post by clicking here.
This week’s quotation is attributed to Elizabeth Wydville, widow of Edward IV. She was, at this stage, in sanctuary with her youngest son, and determined to preserve their lives – and hers – by keeping the two boys separated.