Friday, September 30, 2011

A Fallacy inspired Soapbox Rant

The other day I was walking around campus and I saw a very misinformed boy with a shirt that said "Shakespeare Hates Your Emo Poems." While, I'm not emo myself nor an advocate for emo kids, this shirt made me feel somewhat irate (Maybe because I posted an emo poem earlier). I like to write poetry, and I believe the occasional emo poem is healthy.

Now, in honor of the fact that I just finished reading Hamlet again (a very emo character (WHO DIES!! Maybe he does hate emo things, no, just kidding) This post is dedicated to emo poetry and I'm sure my room mate is going to judge me.

First will be one of Hamlet's Soliloquies "To be or not to be", which is all about the contemplation of suicide, how much more emo can you get.

Then will be a poem of my own, once again inspired by Hamlet, about how his despair consumed him completely until everything around him, including himself, was destroyed by it. Very sad.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Cypress Tree

There is a cypress tree
that grows inside of me

Parasitically eating
my hearts final beating
the living of my being

As all of my fears
made manifest in tears
all my soul's pain
is it's life giving rain

The agonized bleating
of my hearts bleeding beating
is it's sun softly beaming
on its leaves slowly feeding

My decomposing soul
it's dark soft rich soul
and I scream bloody murder 
as it's roots push on deeper

This tree that needs felling
to me it is telling
Like a dark Van Gogh painting
of yet another failing
and what there is waiting
when my heart stops it's beating

As I breath my last breath 
and give in now to death
this dark tree
takes the last of me
as I cease to be
nothing more that the
symbol you see
in a dark cypress tree.

Shakespeare loves my Emo poems (but I promise I'm a happy person)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shakespeare and Jackson Pollock

Today I just wanted to post one of my favorite paintings, which, ironically enough, is connected to Shakespeare (although you would never guess by looking at it.


Oddly enough this goes along with the play The Tempest, which I am looking forward to seeing in the next few weeks., and here I connect two of my loves, Art, and Shakespeare.

This painting is from a song by Ariel (no, not the red-headed mermaid girl, but a sprite (and not the drink either, a fairy)) as he convinces another character that his father is drowned and lost at sea. If the feeling of drowning was visual, this painting would be it.

Full fathom five thy Father lies,
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a Sea-change
Into something rich & strange
Sea-Nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Hark now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shakespeare looks down on you.

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.
King Lear Scene VI

Fools and foolish deeds seem to be very common in Shakespeare. Nobody really seems to be that intelligent. Many of Will's plays tell a story of a noble or royal family, someone of the upper crust of society, and how silly they are. The Hamlet family is the most dysfunctional family I've ever seen. From fratricide to incest, murder, deceit. They are in serious need of a therapist. This is not just one example. In A Winters Tale there are two royal families who do all sorts of stupid things, who are full of irrational thinking and silly impulses. Was Shakespeare making commentary about his contemporary royalty? Was he showing the world just how stupid and foolish the upper class was?

I thought this might be the case until I saw how Shakespeare depicted normal people. The lower classes. They aren't too bright either. At times they seem even more foolish or vice-ridden than the upper classes. Shakespeare even takes their speech out of poetry and makes it common prose. 

O, I am fortune's fool!

It seems to me that Shakespeare just thinks everyone is an idiot, and his plays were his way of telling everyone to shape up. He may have exaggerated the idiocy of people in his works to help get his point across, but it seems that his works were his commentary on society.

True, a story wouldn't be fun if everyone did the right thing, and everyone was a rational calm individual. In As You Like It its says "I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad: and to travel for it too!" Perhaps Shakespaere thinks it is better to learn from the mistakes and silly antics of the fake characters in the play (and be amused at the same time), than for society to make these mistakes themselves and regret it.  

Shakespeare looks at society as a stage of fools, and he uses his own stage to try and educate people to a higher way.
I look down on you all...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Women in Shakespeare...and a tangent

The other day in class we were talking about the variety of women in Shakespeare. How, despite the time period he lived in, many of his female characters (who were still played by men) are strong characters, with great value. Sure we have characters like Ophelia and Desdemona who are spineless "doormats" (and who both end up dying...coincidence?) but we have stronger characters like Paulina who isn't afraid to say anything, really anything, to a crazy king. We have characters like Hermione who have a quiet and admirable dignity. I really think she is amazing for the way she handles everything, accused of adultery and plotting to murder, her newborn baby being banished. It's not until she finally sees that her husband won't listen and her little boy dies that she can’t take it anymore. In Julius Caesar I like Brutus' wife, Portia, and what he says of her,"O ye gods, render me worthy of this noble wife!". Shakespeare shows the value of valuing ones wife (if only Brutus had been equally honorable and honest with his wife.)

Basically, it seems in Shakespeare plays that although, mostly for the point of a story, bad things happen to all characters, it seems to turn out better for the stronger figures. Let's take Beatrice and Hero from Much Ado About Nothing. Hero seems to me to be another "doormat" while Beatrice is sassy and strong. Beatrice only has to go through a lot of teasing to have her "happily ever after". Hero on the other hand is accused of infidelity (this seems to be a common theme…Desdemona, Hermione?) and has to be verbally, and emotionally abused (Ophelia parallel?) and then fake her death (another common theme, Juliet...anyone?) to get Leonato to feel sorry enough, and then she gets her happily ever after.

Not only do things seem to work out better for the stronger characters, but they are also a lot more fun to read about. I would rather be friends with people like Beatrice or Paulina, than empty people like Hero and Ophelia.

Heck, if I’m going to wish a fictional character to reality to be their friend I’m going to step outside the realm of Shakespeare and into Disney’s Tangled. Sure Rapunzel starts off as a “doormat” never leaving home for 18 years just cause her “mom” said no, but at the end she is a stronger frying pan wielding beauty, who would be lots of fun to hang out with cause she’s always ready to let her hair down (ha…ha…).

Sorry Will, modern computer animated Disney beats you here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shakespeare and Me

Shakespeare first entered my life, with real power, in the seventh grade. Our poor, patient, and worthy of pity English teacher, Ms. Rose, introduced us to "Midsummer Night's Dream". It really touched me. The rhythm of the words, the clever play with language, the story. I liked it a lot but I was a too cool for Shakespeare, just like every other young teenage boy my age. It ended there.

Not to be averted, Shakespeare tried once again to come into my life in the ninth and tenth grades through the plays of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Ceasar". I loved them once again. Unfortunately, I was still to cool for it. I could only have a closet love for this iambic pentameter prose. It wasn't until eleventh grade that Shakespeare was able to really become a comfortable part of my life.

In the eleventh grade I developed a transitory twitterpation, a crush, on a girl in my ward. She loved Shakespeare, and I thought she was wonderful, so Shakespeare must be wonderful too. I promptly went out and bought a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare and began to read religiously. Yes...I started reading Shakespeare to meet girls... Nothing developed out of this crush i had, except for a deep deep love and relationship for all things Shakespeare. I devoured his plays and tried to understand them as best I could. I developed an admiration for his way of saying things and revered dear Will as almost a minor prophet, penning scripture.
Since then I have loved Shakespeare. I love reading the plays, I love seeing them performed in the theater, I love the movie renditions, (Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet...anyone? yes?) My favorite play is "Hamlet" the original emo. I think it's fantastic.

Shakespeare and Mason...are friends.

Simon, Garfunkel, and Shakespeare

This morning I was musing on the play A Winters Tale, and in my head started to play the song "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. At first I thought the sadness of the song would connect it to Leontes. After thinking I realized that it connects much better to his wife, Hermione. With no disrespect to S and G and their great music, Here is "I am a Rock", Winters Tale style.

(Words in red are changed by me)

A winter's day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I'm behind walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. 
Because of laughter and loving I'm disdained.
I am a rock,
I am an island. 
Hermione: I am a Rock

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor, 
Locked within my room, a child's left my womb.
Leontes can't you see
I've touched no one and no one has touched me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Assumptions are always awful...sometimes

When I was in middle school, i had quite an....interesting teacher who one day taught us why we do not make assumptions. It had to do with dividing the word "assume" into three parts. In an effort to rise above crude, rude, and base attempts at humor, or to not talk about Shakespearean and Biblical donkeys, I won't tell you what he said, but I will talk about why assumptions are bad.

Wouldn't the world of Shakespeare, and our world for that matter, just be a better, happier place without assumptions. Maybe if we just were honest one with another. Lets take Hamlet for example. Instead of assuming your Uncle is evil, and hence playing crazy to find out, wouldn't it be infinitely more easy just to confront your Uncle about his murderous and incestuous habits, perhaps in an intervention of sorts. Lets look at Othello, assuming Desdemona is unfaithful, and grasping hold of that thought so tightly that even a kiss of pure innoccence almost persuading "Justice to break her sword" won't convince him otherwise and he ends up killing an innocent woman (Darn you Iago, you twisted sick man...). Romeo assumes Juliet really is dead and so dramatically takes poison and kills himself. A Winters Tale, Leontes assumes his wife too is unfaithful. Of course, he doesn't confront anyone, no, that would be too logical. Instead the best thing to do is to try and kill your childhood friend and set in motion events that will haunt you for 16 years. Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio assumes the worst in Beatrice causing many people much heartache and distress.

Good gracious people! Can't we just be open and honest with each other, hold off a little on the emotion and talk civilized before you stab your wife, or yourself? Sure, honesty sometime hurts to hear, but so does weeks of the cold shoulder and then getting stabbed to death, or turning into a statue for 16 years. I would rather have someone be honest than polite, in fact, it's impolite to lie or tell half-truths. Shakespeare teaches us well, that the world would be a better place if the inhabitants would work on their communication skills.

If we must jump to conclusions and assume motives in others, the better route to take would be to give someone the benefit of the doubt and assume that they mean well. Something much easier said than done.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hamlet, The Original Emo

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. This is my favorite of Shakespeare plays. My favorite thing about the play is it's namesake, Hamlet himself. Oh dramatic, depressed, distraught, doubting Hamlet. Such a complex character. One moment willing to slay his friends lest they hinder him from speaking with the ghost of his dead father, the next too cowardly to confront his murdurous uncle about his crime.

Hamlet is one of those people who doesn't even know themself. He seems almost a dual personality, the deep and depressed thinker, and the coach, "speeching" himself into frenzies of emotion. I love his character, he is the original emo. I'm not emo myself, but I love that Hamlet is. Dressed in black, somber faced, depressed, poetically dark. In thinking of Hamelt and his person I was inspired to....write a poem.

My Dear Dark Things

My dear dark things
Who love to rip
At my heartstrings
And make me shout
Blood-curling screams
As you torment
Me in my dreams,

Please, won't you just
Stop hurting me.
Quell your dark lust,
And hear my plea.

I wear your sable on my skin
I cannot feel dark as sin
Someday I want this ache to end
Without pain as my only friend
And so this message I must send

My Darkest Things
I keep within
I cannot keep you
Close as kin
One day this battle
I will win
And cast you out
As light doth sin

But 'til that day
I will succumb
I feel my mind
Is going numb

As I give in
To blackest dreams
And ponder on
My Dear Dark Things

-Mason Bennett