To be, or not to be?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/Alfons_Mucha_-_1899_-_Hamlet.jpgI want to escape the word “good”.

I searched for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Hamlet, 2.ii.

and came across this. Most people are neither bad apples nor good eggs, but soft fruit that can easily turn from ripe to rotten. Mmm.

and this: he’s not indulging in ethical relativism as much as wishing for blissful ignorance. He’s also implicitly damning the naïveté of the king’s new yes-men.

Reading Hamlet may be worth my time. I have nothing new to say about it: Claudius has to kill Hamlet, and once Hamlet knows the truth, Claudius has to bring such plans forward. Hamlet can trust no-one. From being crown-prince, the future King, that is quite a come-down. Or, Claudius has turned Hamlet’s nice, ordered world, where if he follows the traditions he gets to be King, into a bear-pit.

I am stuck in the last stanza of Bagpipe Music

It’s no go, my honey-love, it’s no go, my poppet
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever
But if you break the bloody glass, you won’t hold up the weather.

What do I mean by “good”, anyway? It is what this feels like from inside. I imagine that I have that nice, ordered world, where I merely need to follow the rules and everything will be OK. That feels safer. But, there are no rules, and there is no safety. I run repeatedly into that false belief about the world, which supports my false beliefs about myself- that being the Rational Man in a Suit is the way to get ahead, and that I can be that Rational person.

Hamlet’s saying is true on two levels. I work on being positive, seeing things as a blessing or at least as a surmountable obstacle, seeking all the good I may see in a situation, rather than being negative, seeing only snares and thorns. And- the spin doctor may lie, presenting a bad mistake as the Only Way Forward.

I want to see the world as it is, and myself as I am, and to do what is in my interests. And I keep coming up against the false beliefs. I want to see that I am worthy of love and worthy of being looked after, so that I may look after myself. One of my most felicitous image-searches: Sarah played Hamlet in 1899.

Iago

File:Caravaggio - Taking of Christ - Dublin.jpg  Why a picture of Jesus? Because he did what he thought was right, and was always entirely himself- and he got killed for it. I really do not want to draw attention to myself, because it will be hostile.

OK. That makes no sense at all. It is not my experience. At the office where I volunteer, a man gave me a box of chocolates because what I did with him came good. That is grateful, rather than hostile. However it is a reason why I wear a mask.

This maskedness produces a deep self-loathing- I am a coward and disgusting hypocrite.

Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

-“Iago”, Othello, Act i scene i.

Here I am in a quandary. How to be, what to do, now? I do not like this way of being. I do not think it sane or healthy. How may I ameliorate it?

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Here’s what to do:

I asked, How do we take the step? What about- by fearing not taking it more than taking it?

Singingbones replied,

yes, or you could say, by taking yourself firmly in hand and finding the courage inside to do the thing you are fearing. Once I was about to do something which I wanted very much, and also feared very much. I couldn’t sleep that night, and called a wise friend to ask for advice. She told me to imagine the worst thing that could happen if I went ahead and did the thing. And once I could see through my fear all the way to the end, I saw how it was a huge illusion that I was fearing. That was good advice which I have used many times since.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? There is a far greater threat from not taking a risk than facing it. As she says, “Life is challenging and constantly demanding courage, forgiveness and patience”. What she says is simple, and with my learning style I still benefit from her giving a concrete example. And “see through the fear all the way to the end” is beautiful.

So that is what to do. Take risks. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

However, a variation. I am going to respect the depth of the problem, and the courage I have shown so far in facing it. I am going to celebrate the risks I have actually taken, and those which I take- for I habitually discount any virtue in myself, and I need to acknowledge the virtue. The steps I am taking are the steps I am taking. I have the time to take them in.

And now for something completely different

Macbeth was unfairly traduced by Shakespeare. He was a very civilised and enlightened monarch for his time and place (eleventh century Scotland) rather than a cowardly, murderous tyrant. He reigned for seventeen years.

A great deal of the credit for his enlightened and progressive rule should go to his sister Polly. Polly was an early feminist, strongly in favour of the rights of women, educated in Latin, English and French, and influential in the Celtic church.

As you will have heard if you have read the play, before Macbeth was King, he was Thane of Fife. It is just about the only fact Shakespeare got right. Thane is simply an early Scottish title, roughly equivalent to Duke today. When Macbeth became King, his old position of Thane became vacant, and one of his first decisions was who would fill it best. Of course, his choice was his sister Polly. So he went to her, and he said to her,

“Polly, you’re a Thane”.

Polyurethane! Ha! Geddit? Geddit? ROFLMFAOSHTIWSMS!!!

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There was an ant, a rather nasty ant, highly intelligent and completely amoral. He had an eye to the main chance, this ant, and in 1933 he saw which way the wind was blowing and joined the Nazi party. He joined the SS. He was so proud of his black uniform and his six shiny jackboots!

But then came 1945, and it was no longer so advantageous to be in the SS. He had to pretend to have been a simple farmer, and never an SS man at all.

He was an Ex-Uber-Ant.

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There was a complete Ring cycle at the Sydney Opera House. The roles of the Volsungs, Siegmunde and Sieglinde, were played by the Heldensoprano Mathilde Bauermeister, and Luciano Pavarotti. As the Sydney Herald reported, under the heading, Volsung Mathilde.

The Keltured and Idiocated Clare Flourish, ladies and gentlemen. A better class of pun.