Queen Mary Day 2: “What is your study?”

I’ll talk a word with this same learned Theban.
What is your study?
How to prevent the fiend, and to kill vermin.

George Tooker, Sleepers

0. They didn’t do an HIV test. It requires consent. I gave it because at this point, being positive would be just one more thing and trivial by comparison, and it’s unlikely I am positive, since I’m heterosexual and hardly ever get laid.

1. Guy comes it and says “blood take” in Chinglish meaning he needed to take my blood. I said “butt ache? You bet! My butt aches!”. This problem started with a pain in the ass.

2. Acceptance. On Sep 11 I realized as I saw the towers going down, and Peter Jennings (who I thought I resembled, who got cancer because he went back to smoking on the day) saying “folks, if you’ve just joined us, this is not a good day”, that “this changes everything” which freed me to do all I needed to do, which was to merely meet a business buddy for lunch and make sure my friend at the tobacconist reserved the next morning’s copy of the New York Times so I wouldn’t have to read the Chicago Tribune account.

Likewise, when no deposit was made to my account on 31 August 2010 and I called my boss to learn that I’d been fired without notice for no reason (probably, the owner didn’t want to conform to Hong Kong law concerning long-service employees), I said to myself, wow, this is DefCon3 and I can’t waste any time: I must jump on this suckah.

And now the truth is my disease is incurable and probably fatal, as is life. But I can control its manifestations and extend my life. First thing this morning I worked out climbing stairs for forty minutes, and the morning back pain departed as soon as I started the climb. It activates the femur muscles and brings them glad tidings. I then went out to the overlook where nobody smokes anymore on a hazy warm morning to look with deep appreciation on the sea, the sky, and the forested hills.

It’s like being a kid, or Mark and the Tramp in That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis, for the medical staff lets me mosey around the hospital for the most part, operating theaters, ICUs and wards excluded. There’s a DeliFrance on the ground floor where I have today allowed myself one cup of coffee. I need to stop all caffeine, for as long ago as 1985 on a 29 mile run, I drank water which had far more of an elixir effect.

3. Wikipedia insists on being lowest common denominator, almost proudly affirming the mediocre. In the King Lear article, it says that the Fool disappears without explanation, which is to reinforce the outdated view that patronizes Shakespeare, treating him as a glorified hack, who didn’t know his business and wrote bricolage…which can then be butchered by cries of players in order to pander to modern attention spans.

But in III/4 the Fool doesn’t “disappear without explanation”. He is replaced by Edgar as Tom o’Bedlam. In fact, Lear has a sequence of four sidekicks: the Fool, then Tom o’ Bedlam, then Gloucester, and finally Cordelia. Their sequence seems designed for the Fool’s prating pales before the Modernism of Edgar/Tom’s Dada, but Lear finds that the Duke of Gloucester needs him and clumsily tries to aid and admonish the blinded Duke, Lear, and is also Cordelia’s co-equal having unlearned Mastership and learned solidarity. Lear fights her hangmen offstage and gives good account of himself, for he kills them, cuts Cordelia down, and drags her onstage.

Now the fact that these four characters don’t (generally) appear on stage at the same time could indicate a pragmatic casting decision, but they do simultaneously appear: Cordelia appears with the Fool in the first Act, the Fool in III/4 seems to almost resent being upstaged by Edgar/Tom, and so on.

A close analysis of the plays could very well show character pairs (pairs of characters) who are not on stage together and thus could be possibly assigned to the same actor.

But the “ban on thinking” which wikipedia so unconsciously reproduced and which my homey Adorno noted at the Radio Research project bans BOTH talk of a whole, a play as integral as a symphony by Beethoven, and any real scientific analysis: the intelligent girl who suggests, as a class project, that she create a data base of “characters being on stage together” is slapped down with what I was told in software: “oh, it’s been done, my dear”…even though, strikingly, the things I said could be done in software were not being done at the time, and kids with intelligent teachers are always doing cutting edge things that inferior teachers prevent students from doing.

The (common, common indeed) idea that Shakespeare was some sort of company man who changed the play to accommodate a drunken cry of players to me denies the emergence in the West of being an Artist that was seen in Michelangelo’s resistance to the Pope, and Cervantes’ one great book.

Wikipedia, with its post 2006 ban on thinking as such, takes the lazy way out, the way of the teacher who’s read himself only Macbeth and Julius Caesar back in high skewl and is as bored by, and as reluctant to engage, Shakespeare, as his students, which assures that everyone will be bored.

Shakespeare clearly intended King Lear to be a whole and not a pile of papers to be jiggered into a specific day’s entertainment, while being smart enough, owing to his family responsibilities, to hide this fact. We continually learn more and more about deep structures, here the sequence Fool, Edgar-Tom, Gloucester, Cordelia through Freudian and feminist thought of the sort that thugs have contempt for, of course.

This is shown by Gary Wells’ discovery that two versions of Lear exist and in the second version, a minor, subaltern character, Albany, unloads on his wife Goneril: the core idea of the play is here, according to Harold C Goddard:

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile:
Filths savour but themselves. What have you done?
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform’d?
A father, and a gracious aged man,
Whose reverence even the head-lugg’d bear would lick,
Most barbarous, most degenerate! have you madded.
Could my good brother suffer you to do it?
A man, a prince, by him so benefited!
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences,
It will come,
Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
Like monsters of the deep.

The first three lines “WISDOM FILTHS TIGERS” start with a beat and many of the succeeding lines end in an off-beat in the manner of subaltern Shakespeare’s subalterns, but by starting major ideas with a beat, Shakespeare accomplishes the same effect as in Ariel’s “angelic annunciation” in The Tempest: “You are men of sin”.

Shakespeare is well known for his bad girls, whom the more superficial type of feminist calls upon us to admire in the same vein we’re supposed to pay to see Cameron Diaz, well past her sell-by date, strut her slightly sagging butt in Bad Teacher: “Tigers, not daughters” echoes an early popular line hurled by dying York at Margaret in Henry VI 3: “O tiger’s heart, wrapped in a woman’s hide”.

But, as a wise man said, Shakespeare is always one step ahead. He may have known, per Germaine Greer, that being a bad girl is good insofar as it’s worse to be a doormat, and object without choice, but it’s only a stage. In Lear, Goneril and Regan are pikers in the Bad Girl department compared to Cordelia!

RTFP (read the effing play): Goneril rips out Gloucester’s eyeballs. Big deal. Offstage, Cordelia commits high treason by invading England and offstage, she’s hanged for it, even as technically, and according to the late, and inimitable, Christopher Hitchens, Diana Spencer committed treason when she cheated on Charles and, according to the Hitch, should have been hanged.

Change Record

8 May 2013 Added this Change Record
8 May 2013 Minor corrections to grammar


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