12 April 2013: King Lear: Workout: Elizabeth Warren: Happy Joe Biden: Etc.

Congee, completed King Lear and got started on Macbeth. I don’t like Macbeth, I must admit: it’s too high schooley, the text is corrupt beyond the Hecate passages which we know were written by Shakespeare’s colleague Thomas Middleton who may have written the first “treatment” of Measure for Measure.

However, Middleton must have had, in Shakespeare’s opinion, “a good fist” for playwriting since he was a major co-author when Shakespeare in his later career was too lazy, perhaps too ill (some modern scholars say that Shakespeare may have had a rare cancer of the tear ducts; this would make sense for the guy must have cried many bitter tears over Hathaway and Hamnet).

I very much like the way, in the 1608 version, Albany, “the milk livered man” according to Goneril, takes charge at the end. Feminists think that the don’t need sub-“Alpha” males (where the males who are “alpha” are such through their own proclamation) and share, in the case of feminists identified with the corporation, the alpha view of the other ranks: non-Alpha males are considered in our culture to be unworthy geeks.

But Albany, unlike Henry VI who merely tries, does a good job in Act V apart from failing to rescue Lear and Cordelia. Here’s Albany overruling Goneril and Edmund before Edmund and Edgar’s trial by combat is resumed:

ALBANY: The let-alone lies not in your good will.
EDMUND: Nor in thine, lord.
ALBANY: Half-blooded fellow, yes.
REGAN: [To EDMUND] Let the drum strike, and prove my title thine.
ALBANY: Stay yet; hear reason. Edmund, I arrest thee
On capital treason; and, in thine attaint,
This gilded serpent Pointing to Goneril
For your claim, fair sister,
I bar it in the interest of my wife:
‘Tis she is sub-contracted to this lord,
And I, her husband, contradict your bans.
If you will marry, make your loves to me,
My lady is bespoke.
GONERIL: An interlude!

“Goneril” probably should in performance say “an interlude” with a screech of half-mad laughter for “an interlude” probably means “a short but mirthful comic show”: but her daemonic female authority depends completely on that of Edmund who’s about to give up and give away the game, affirming his evil and Edgar’s right.

At this point Albany is risking his life by claiming that because his wife is unfaithfully in league with Edmund, this causes her titular rights to pass to him. It’s a bold move which Albany quietly makes. It restores the moral order which was disturbed by Edmund’s crime of assaulting his father Gloucester (incitement of Cornwall to attack his own father).

S clearly felt that the ideal ruler would be humble and if possible non-violent. Prospero in the Tempest is often cited as a tyrant; his critics refuse to credit him for preferring “closeness and study” to ruling but I find him close to an ideal model of kingship, even fatherhood, for stocking his boat, when fleeing his brother, with books.

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 11.10.39 AM
Lincoln Reads to Tad

Fathers who read make IMHO good fathers. Lincoln is photographed tenderly sharing books with his youngest son. Fathers who read often delight in buying and sharing books, especially their favorites from their own childhood.

In light of this it disturbs me that Prospero is dismissed so readily as less interesting than Miranda or Caliban by feminist-influenced critics. You have only to watch a gender-bender version of the play (such as Helen Mirren’s marvelous performance in which she plays “Prospera” which scans exactly the same as “Prospero”, thus does no violence to the text) to find Prospera an interesting character.


20 minutes rackety row: four laps walking. Lower legs like sticks.

Elizabeth Warren and Happy Joe Biden

Senator Warren rips into the savaging of Social Security as I struggle but merely with the mechanics of transmittal given the incompetence of HSBC employees.

Hmm. My benefits: higher than Warren’s brother. Altho I don’t deserve more than him I take what I can get. The key was working at salaried jobs with high pay in software throughout all of the 1970s & 1980s and most of the 1990s. The take-away is don’t be an “entrepreneur” unless you have the cash flow to pay in to social security from checks that clear the bank.

But that’s precisely the sort of checks and the sort of customer that writes them that’s disappearing to be replaced by internships, long term unemployment, and adventures such as working in China.

Looks like I might avoid cat food and I’m getting excellent medical care through dumb luck and a Hong Kong ID. But as individuals struggling for our own survival, we need to work salaried high paid jobs having cultivated the skills to do so. Interestingly, these jobs almost uniquely are high-skill jobs in high technology demanding that we know things like “objects”, “semaphores”, and “compilers” cold.

I cultivated this type of knowledge and retain much of it. But it is also interesting that the very knowledge of geek subjects destroys personalities, making them apolitical and uninteresting.

Nonetheless, traditional jobs for the middle class demand this type of skill/knowledge.

People now employed need to avoid the sort of sabbaticals and skylarking so characteristic of Baby Boomers and myself: Gap years, internships and working in China all tear holes in your Social Security, and if even Democratic Presidents attack it, you need to protect your Social Security. Of course, a blazing revolution may yet occur if these sorts of stratagems do not preserve SS.

But we need to start talking about electing Presidents based on a new criterion.

We need to elect Presidents with low or negative net worth. Just because Aristotle said that the ideal ruler would be a leading citizen, which implies high net worth, doesn’t make it true, and whether the virtuous man (fit to rule) is necessarily rich is an open question. On the one hand the elite of the ancient world felt that only rich people were interesting or willing to benefit from a liberal education. On the other hand Christ and Spartacus questioned the superior wisdom of the rich. The question is undecidable.

We can start with Happy Joe. The Vice President appears to have low or negative net worth. Then we need to investigate Warren and make sure she’s not rich. It’s encouraging that her brother is on Social Security.

Being rich gives you certain insights and takes away others. Ditto for being poor. For one thing, a woman who’s poor right now, or who grew up in poverty and isn’t filthy rich now, just comfortable, would be a better fiscal manager than a male Republican.

Mohammed Yunus, the founder of the Grameen bank in Bangladesh and the inventor of “micro lending”, lending poor women (not men) small amounts so they can start their own business, has found that in managing their own funds women manifest a great deal of discipline. This may translate to managing public funds.

Male Republicans have since Reagan talked a good game about being good at budgeting but this is belied by the monster deficits created by Reagan and then Dubya. If we gave Warren (or Hilary) a chance they might be able to balance the budget without Obama’s unprecedented, sinkhole-like cave-in on Social Security.

Change Record

9 May 2013 Added this Change Record
9 May 2013 Corrected spelling of “Demoratic”


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