Tuesday, 11 July 2017

On loving Shakespeare.......and politics



 I have loved Sgakeslpeare since I was 14. It was that year that I was introduced to Macbeth by my English literature teacher. I have gone on from that point for 45 years reading, King Lear, ,Hamlet and many others. Coriolanus says so much about the politics of the populists of the right...that I would advise both Trump and Farage to have a long hard read of the play.. I doubt that they have. Othello talks of our insecurity, of the fear of the other and if the collapse of the mind . The lovers the fools, the pompous are all here.Shakespeare has been gone over 400 years yet his observations, his knowledge of the human condition and his influence and effect in our language is immense . I suspect that he was agnostic and sceptical of many things. The puritans are mocked, the corrupt politicians exposed and the l lonliness of the powerful shown. There is the propaganda ofthe Tudor state, the naked ambition of the powerful and the hope for true live The following quote says that we should recognise that evil is not supernatural and that the demons are amongst us....

Shakespeare`s Macbeth has haunted me all my life. I first studied it in 1973 for my English Literature “O” level. It cropped up again when I was studying Literature and Philosophy some 7 years ago. Its a long time between being 15 and being 58. Yet the play speaks to me in so many layered and significant ways Those 43 years between have shown me the fragility, the weakness, the disturbance, the shadow, the fear and the dispair that can exist within us all. I have seen all those features of the Play wherever I have been. I have seen the characters from Macbeth in the places I have worked , in the political campaigns and political parties that I have been involved with and with individuals and outlooks I have come across.. I have felt the despair myself at times. At 15 these words struck me and at times the barb has been deeper



To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

The ambition, the ruthlessness, the bullying I have seen it all. Lady Macbeth is in all of us. Her ambition hides the emptiness she feels and we cope with those times by creating the Lady Macbeth Character. We deny it but it is there

Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, thou  shalt be
What thou art promis'd. Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. “

We rationalise , we hide from ourselves, we say what is done is done and yet we know otherwise.......

My lord, why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done, is done.”

Ambition, allows us to drive ourselves on, as witchfinders and then we fight with monsters in the abyss. The problem is that the monsters fight back and the abyss looks into is. The realisation that we are all broken, all imperfect frightens us. If we turn into Crusaders fearing and hunting the devil within then we hide from our inner fears.

Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”


You can see this in the monstrous ego of Trump. You can see it in Farage and I wonder if in five years time we will see the destruction of Farage, Gove and Johnson , their reputation destroyed by the unveiling of the Brexit process as powerfully as Iraq destroyed Tony Blair. The jury is out let us see the unforeseen black swans landing in the years to come.

As for myself I cant get the words of T. S Eliot s third verse of the Journey of the Magi out of my mind ..perhaps its merely that its early January but I dont know......

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods”
Let me conclude with another two quotes.

Oh, it is easy for the one who stands outside the prison-wall of pain to exhort and teach the one who suffers”

Aeschylus, from Prometheus Bound

But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Macbeth tells us of the human condition, it describes the worst we can become and it is important, frightening and illuminating in what it tells of of others and of ourselves. Particularly it tells of the political world and the menagerie of individuals we meet there. There are monsters out there......Shakespeare knew this

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