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Method Madness

Hamlet is not a very Danish name. Maurits, King or Prince of Denmark, would be more like it.

Anyway with Claudius, Polonius, Ophelia, and Horatio Shakespeare really fucked up his linguistic geography. This is Denmark, old boy! Not Verona!

And a guy named after a tiny village, doesn’t make much sense either.

Might as well have called him Boardwalk. Bo, for short.

Shakespeare borrowed a lot from the Greeks Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and their treatment of the Oresteia, but Hamlet was no Orestes. Just like in a different context the Wizard’s Dorothy is no Alice in Wonderland, any more than Dan Quayle was John F. Kennedy by Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s stern yardstick.

And I know this is blasphemy but as story lines go Hamlet is a terrible play, neither head nor tail, for a normal spectator at least to follow, or else an endlessly convoluted plot with the dark Danish Prince stricken with grief, going mad, suicidal or simply cunningly paranoid. If not clarity, beauty only in its exquisite language. But even something that is said beautifully must make sense to someone like me.

Here’s the thing as Directors go, it’s dramatically very hard to demonstrate someone apparently normal, slowly going potty. It’s easier to show someone normal conniving his revenge, by faking he’s going potty. But what then is totally incongruous is his doubt about what he should do, commit suicide or not, murder or not, how and when, staging one thing, then the other, with whose help etc etc. For if there’s one thing true in this world or any other, highly motivated and morally ‘just’ counter-conspirators by temperament cannot and will never be pussy-footers or procrastinators. And that’s exactly what Hamlet’s made out to be.

And even Laurence Olivier’s steeply abbreviated cinematic version unable to cut all the fat or for that matter pass any muster. A terrible movie that refuses to fascinate and hypnotise, delivered around a dozen classic one-liners everyone knows by now. But no number of grave diggers, hip friends and ghosts, ooh, aah, woe, the fleet, the fleet…ah yes the completely redundant fleet, making this thing work.

A psychological play avant-la-lettre, dealing with moral and mental illness at the same time? Don’t you believe it, this is theatre for theatricality’s sake, sustained by overly reverent Shakespeare worship.

Growing prematurely bald himself, Hamlet could easily have looked up at the sky, sunk on one knee, stroke an even balder skull, and sigh: Toupée or no Toupée, that is the question! And be just as credible.

  1. And what’s this Laurence bit, Larry? It’s Laurent old boy, if you want to go French all the way, and with your Norman Olivier, instead of Oliver. Laurence’s a girl’s name, so be a good sod and from eternity…  change it back to Lawrence, old man. I mean, we did win at Agincourt, didn’t we? And don’t you remember the Hank Cinq you did?  (Henry V)

 

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Gap Redux

Demand for butlers is way up, in the U.S.A.

 

McDonald’s is hiring 50.000 workers.

 

You know what that means, don’t you?

 

The thirties are coming back, morning coats and soup counters in one bad breath.

 

Download Anthony Steyning’s historical thriller in E-Book form: A Kiss by the Clowns

For the Birds (III)

On November 2d 2009 I published this observation:

Confessions of a Feathered Friend

Here I am, sitting on the roof of collected notions, a construction put up over centuries by people wanting so badly to be wanted, that for lack of better, they invented someone doing just that. Then attempt making this invisible presence not only visible but permanent, by building this monstrosity, as if it changes anything. And only because sitting outside, on the grass, playing the same game, cannot be passed on, they think, although this would be so much more… genuine.

I landed on the parapet of what feels more like a gaol than a place of inspiration and joy. Built, believe it or not, to keep out many of their playmates, but at least giving me the chance to rest and reflect after one of my own flights of fancy. They call it House of God, but up here wired it electrically while below and at dark shutting doors to keep out the tired, the hungry and the sick as if these suffer by the clock. And making me wonder how they built these enormous structures with a stiff neck, always looking the other way, yet endlessly at and after themselves.

And what about the prejudice that comes with saving your hide before saving the one of others, by the creatures building these structures? Because even if they have no fur and no hair to speak of, hides they do have, and thick ones, too, though no feathers. Telling us we’re unclean, diseased and defecating all over, when they’re making a mess of things wherever they dwell. Mistrusting and killing each other when they feel like it, in the name of a slow brainwave, they call Lord.

Here, hold my horn-rimmed glasses and my cigar and my Manhattan and I’ll show you in the Wall Street Journal why we stand accused of infesting society. Though look, look at me, I didn’t hurt anyone, releasing my droppings all over the place, spreading viruses or waking up the world with loud cooing all the time. That’s them and almost a business it seems.

Truth, by definition, cannot be prejudice, they say by way of self-defence and unable to take the slightest criticism, insisting that if hundreds of thousands of a certain kind do something, they’re all guilty and subversive to boot, especially if and when not of the same prayer. But even if I’m peaceful, clean, entertaining, providing and sharing, they’ll still insist they’re right about me. And that’s when I say, as long as there’s one who’s different, one with pin-striped plumage, they should never say ‘They’re all like that!’, don‘t you agree? Afterwards hectoring it’s all in the proportions, that true, nothing is absolute except their faith, and claiming all the same to be overwhelmed by us, when actually they’re the ones doing all the overwhelming. Implying we’re the invading kind, taking over their society, and certainly, we have our own vision, at least I do and so do mine and so what? Though we must learn to keep a low profile, not flap our wings too much, because down there they’re in control, not up here, thank who or whatever for that.

No, more I look at them, less I want to be like them despite some of that fleeting success of theirs. Sure, sometimes I wished I could cross my legs and sit like them, and least when reading my newspaper, but as for the rest they’ve lost it. Like if I built myself a granite coop with smart, stained windows and a huge, bolted door, coercing dozens of mine to sit inside and sing dressed up, no longer able to hear the music produced by water and wind, by songbird brothers, and sisters, and others of course.

It’s good to be out looking in, it’s good to be up looking down, it’s good to be few and free and strong, when they’re many and weak. I know I’m sitting on their structures, but I can leave and they can’t, the price they pay for visible permanence. I can float, sail, rise, dive, crossing oceans on my own, eating, drinking, resting, feeling happy and living just as long, with those I love, flying along. And I’ve never killed or hurt anyone. So of those two worlds, which is the better one? And this Lord of theirs, does He know what company He keeps, what He has also wrought?

But now forgive me. I’m off to see an ornithologist… about that pigeon stool I use, to express myself.

Wikileaks Piss Off

Willie leaks are more exciting!

There’s something cheap about them, and I don’t care for mediocre thinkers and crooks, but I care even less for crypto-evangelists.

To pick on an imperfect but reasonably open society, exposing semi-confidential musings by diplomats and politicians that mostly didn’t make it to the level of State Policy, is snitching producing acute embarrassment but little else.

Looking at all the dangerous, cruel shit-disturbers in the world promulgating intense suffering in the name of phoney dogma, I would be really impressed with Mr Assange if he located and inspired whistle-blowers inside North Korea, Iran, Burma, Venezuela, Cuba, China, Rusia places like that. Decoding and publishing those private communiqués, exposing the betrayal of their own citizens and by implication the world community.

Absence & Fonder

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder, is what they say. 

I intend to have some of that poison while travelling.

Sorry, but for a few fast days I’m a shooting star.

Back around Nov 22.

A.S.

 

Play Bach

To make Youtube truly hip and attract an even younger audience, it features a video recording under the title:

Glenn Gould performs the Whoopi Variations

 

No GPS

I was driving around Khartoum one day, and… Wait a minute, someone said, what the hell were you doing, driving around Khartoum? Oh, I replied, we participated in the Paris-Dakar car race, and my wife was doing the navigating…

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On Absurdity (1)

Today there was a terrible air crash in Spain. Some 150 people, including 20 children instantly carbonized. I maintain in all my writing that in a cosmic sense there cannot be life without death but that life with death as reward is still far from absurd, not even when the end of one often is. With this I mean when a life is utterly wasted or the profound pain in the premature taken away of one. What ìs incongruous also is the banality in asking your wife if she would like one or two lumps of sugar in her tea, when a couple of hundred miles away and at that precise moment all those innocents are destroyed in a matter of seconds. That is intimidating. Making one afraid of opening one’s mouth, of having tea, crying out for those precious lives. And angry over the magnificence of life getting besmirched by the execrable, cruel manner of circumstance, accountable to no one it seems. (Aug20/08)

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