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Trump in Arizona, Rosalind in Arden

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — think of the universe as a handkerchief — folding it into one by its opposite corners ]
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Consider these two phrasings — the first, from a WaPo report of Donald Trump‘s speech in Arizona, in which Jenna Johnson or her editor thought he “ranted and rambled” —

— the second from fair Rosalind, in Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 3 scene 5.

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I donm’t think in the long haul that Trump is very Shakespeare the playwright, though as a character he may be Shakespearean. But I’m very taken with the genius of Shakespeare’s Rosalind, “insult, exult, and all at once..” and Trump’s “never left, right? All of us..”

Audrey Stanley, who directed a superlative Greek-tragedy-influenced As You Like It at Ashland while I was an adjunct anthro professor there, instructed her actors to make of each word its own universe, before running them together with the natural rhythms of speech, focusing in on “insult, exult” — both of which are two syllable words of which the second syllable is “sult” — yet having diametrically opposed meanings, and thus “universes”.

The actor who can move his or her breath and rib-cage from the fullness of “insult” to the fullness of “exult” — spitting defiance to joyous exaltation, at opposite extremes of the verbal spectrum — has performed a “coniunction oppositorum” as Jung would say, a folding of the universe as I would put it, from two (opposites) into one — “and all at once”.

It’s a brilliant and potentially transformative utterance, given to the brilliant and potentially transformative character, Rosalind.

Is Trump “brilliant and potentially transformative” — eh?

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Under Audrey’s inspiration, I have long admired that brief line of Rosalind’s, and have only found one line — in Dylan Thomas — to match it:

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray

— that’s from his scandalously fine villanelle, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night:

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Oy. Only one comparable usage. Until Trump.

Well, I’ll leave you there. I don’t think Trump, as I’ve said, is Shakespeare, quite — but in Arizona he stumbled into a speech pattern that attracts my notice.

Shakespeare Trumped, perhaps? I don’t know, but it comes close..

Until next time..

Sunday surprise, my ashes when the time comes

Monday, August 14th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — the poem as guided tour ]
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So, my son Emlyn asked me where I would like my ashes scattered when I’m gone, offering to do me that service, and the ensuing discussion made it clear I had an opportunity not only to send him to some places I’ve loved where he’d be likely to find adventure, but also to provide him with reading (or listening) along the way — again, close to my mind and heart and potentially revelatory for his.

^^

I was tossing this around in my mind a day or two ago, and this poem announced itself:

Paradise or Pasadena, since you asked

I should like my ashes scattered in the upper atmosphere,
in Bach to be precise,
in deep feeling, in the St Anne Prelude and Fugue,
in “not of this world” in other words,
believing that if met by JSB
at the General Resurrection, I was most choicely planted.

Bach, seriously, is the mountain range I have assiduously
climbed since early youth,
and the St Anne not the most obvious,
but among the most glorious works therein,
though I am also vastly taken by Contrapunctus IX
and the Dorian Toccata was my first love.

More practically, fold me between pages of Yeats or Rilke,
and leave me on a bench in the Huntington Gardens.

That’s by no means my final response to Emlyn’s question, I look forward to many more hours of pondering and reminiscing. But it’s a thought..

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Here, for your delight and enrichment, are the musical offerings the poem mentions:

The St Anne Prelude and Fugue, played here by Peter Hurford:

Contrapunctus IX from The Art of Fugue, played by Glenn Gould on piano, his usual instrument:

and, in a rare instance for Gould, on organ:

— and the Dorian Toccata and Fugue, my first Bach love, which I bought, treasured, and binge-listened to back in the late 50s (?) on a 45 rpm disc:

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Noteworthy, the second of two images of Ton Koopman accompanying that last recording — which shows the fierce nature of Koopman when he was young — fading in right at the end of the Toccata:

Ton Koopman

I would love to have known him back when..

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And place — the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, which include a garden of flowers named in Shakespeare’s works, a Japanese garde, rose garden, and — my absolute favorite –the Desert Garden, containing 5,000 varieties of cactus and other xerophytes across 10 acres..

I suspect that losing oneself in those 10 acres is the closest thing to visiting an alien planet to be found on this one…

Once you’re in the garden and have escaped the lure of the cacti, the cool of the Huntington Library is nearby — with some stunning William Blake illuminations perhaps, and both a First Folio Shakespeare and the remarkable “bad” First Quarto of Hamlet which preceded it.

How has the mighty soliloquy been truncated:

To Die, to sleepe, is that all?

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Cacti, roses, Folio, scholars, tea rooms — heaven, in its earthly approximation…

Gingrich appraises Mueller

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — fwiw my first name, charles, translates to churl ]
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I am far from the only one to have noticed this juxtaposition:

I read the first of these as a simple statement of the concensus as to Mueller‘s character, what is generally known of the man after years of pubic service. I think of it, in other words, as a statement of received opinion, which Newt Gingrich is presenting for the record. I imagine I could find similar endorsements of Mueller from the Democratic side of the aisle.

The second tweet strikes me as of a diFfferent sort altogether. This one I believe I could find echoed in other statements from aides to Trump — it’s a talking point.

I know politicians lie. I imagine I could find instances of Joe Biden, or Hillary Clinton, making similarly opposed statekents. I take Bill Clinton‘s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” to be the Lie Direct in Jacques’ terms. But this —

I don’t believe Gingrich has changed opinions, I believe he has simply changed hats. I think, in short, that he still takes Mueller for a man with an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity — but in his second tweet, he’s parroting a party line, not his actual opinion.

Dylan: But what’s the sense of changing horses in midstream?

Maybe Jacques would classify this as a Reply Churlish. Gingrich, you’re a Churl.

Sunday surprise — Pascal, Shakespeare, you and me

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — wondering whether Pascal was imitating or poorly recalling Shakespeare, plagiarizing or merely GMTA? ]
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Try these three on for size!


Hamlet


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead


Star Trek

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Pascal in the original French:

Quelle chimère est-ce donc que l’homme? quelle nouveauté, quel monstre, quel chaos, quel sujet de contradictions, quel prodige? Juge de toutes choses, imbécile ver de terre, dépositaire du vrai, cloaque d’incertitude et d’erreur, gloire et rebut de l’univers. Qui démêlera cet embrouillement? La nature confond les pyrrhoniens, et la raison confond les dogmatiques.

Have a chimerical day!

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Sunday surprise: Sir Ian McKellen plays Sir Thomas More

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in ]
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It is, as you’ll discover, the only Shakespearean speech we possess in Shakespeare‘s own hand, and a mighty on at that. I’ll present the video first, and then the text so you can follow along should you so choose.

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Sir Thomas More: Act 2, Scene 4

MORE:

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.
[ .. ] O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
[ .. ] You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the elements
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.


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