Saturday, January 21, 2012

In and Out of Suits

Why, who cries out on pride
That can therein tax any private party?
Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,
Till that the wearer's very means do ebb?
What woman in the city do I name
When I say that the city-woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders?
Who can come in and say that I mean her,
When such a one as she such is her neighbour?
Or what is he of basest function
That says his bravery is not on my cost,
Thinking that I mean him, but therein suits
His folly to the mettle of my speech?
There then! how then? what then? Let me see wherein
My tongue hath wrong'd him, if it do him right,
Then he hath wrong'd himself, if he be free,
Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.

As much as I do prefer direct communication in life, I'm a big sucker for stories where layers of illusion and deception potently convey a finer truth. Perhaps because I feel communication is inevitable. Channels are always open, all you can really do is modulate the flow. I'd never read As You Like It, but after watching a 1978 BBC production last night, I think it may be one of my favourite of Shakespeare's plays. It contains the famous "All the world is a stage" speech, and I was delighted by how well the rest of the story illustrated it.

The story involves false identities, a woman, Rosalind, in hiding pretending to be a man. The man who loves her, Orlando, found that he could not speak when she first spoke with affection to him, so overcome was he by her presence. So in the guise of a man, she asks him to woo her as if she were Rosalind. In this manner she also manages her own unmanageably huge feelings. Some of the dialogue resulting is some of the most insightful stuff about relationships and attraction I think Shakespeare ever wrote.

The idea of everyone being a player on the world's stage is illustrated through exaggeration. The business of lovers communicating while one of them is disguised allows Shakespeare to more plainly write the same kinds of shufflings and testings of identities that go into communication as intense as the communication of two people in love.

Rosalind, the most central character in the play, was played by Helen Mirren in the production I watched, and she was by far the best actor in the production, many of the minor characters, particularly the actor playing Orlando, came off as being right out of a high school drama department. But the costumes were wonderful and from the period in which Shakespeare wrote the play, so it wasn't, thank the gods, naked Nazis in a shopping mall or something. Watching it was an extraordinarily happy experience.

Twitter Sonnet #346

Discontinued eggplant sauces turned red.
Tiny white painted shelves drip with ink blood.
Pipe cleaner gnomes too early go to bed.
Festive snowflakes are lethal on the HUD.
Pens and pencils rampage on the war map.
Stapled celluloid nets tangle.
Cartoon honey blitzes the sinus tap.
Awkward spoons can scoop an obtuse angle.
Skeletal cup holders pervert your coke.
Steamy copper arms quickly mine love coal.
Sweaty pig iron afternoons provoke
The backwards tongs of the daisy smith soul.
Snail horns multiply past telepathy.
Back borne destiny transmutes chastity.

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