Hamlet

My cousin Christine has a theatre blog; she is an aficionado of London theatre…

Belle-theatre

The Almeida Theatre, London

The play’s the thing and never more so than in Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play.

Here murder, death and deceit; love, loss, what is real and what is imagined; the very meaning of life and life’s consequences are confronted in Hamlet’s struggle against his fate. His is a fight to the death and death is part of the Dane’s journey. Hamlet’s is a disappointing world: ‘weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’.

In Act I we confront a dispossessed, poisoned king, poisoned politics and a prince devoured by grief. Hamlet is haunted and prompted by his father’s ghost to avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder’ at the hand of his uncle, Claudius, newly installed as his mother’s lover and husband. Robbed of his sovereignty and his wits, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Elsinore is a veritable castle of doubt and double dealing.

Robert Icke…

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…on things that make me happy

As the Hockney exhibit enters its final weeks…

A Classicist Writes...

It would not be inaccurate to pronounce; nor would be it anything less than inordinately conspicuous to those who have perused this website, to detect that Emerson makes me…gleeful.

His pages delineate – nay; ARE! – my mind, thoughts, beliefs and actions; and when the cross-pollination of intellective thread wends its way through his contemplation and genius and my own and imports a fresh peripheral into the mix, it’s wonderful!

I saw the David Hockney exhibit last week: the additional element; for his work renders me equally jubilant.

“All men are in some degree impressed by the face of the world; some men even to delight. The love of beauty is Taste. Others have the same love in such excess, that, not content with admiring, they seek to embody it in new forms. The creation of beauty is Art.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, 1836

Notwithstanding this breathtaking and…

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…on cats what ain’t cats

…and debatably; art what ain’t art; I renounce that to the eye of the beholder.  I encountered a medieval painting of a “cat,” which carried with it limitless hilarity; he/she/it resembled not – even in the smallest degree – Theo…or any other cat I have yet glimpsed for that matter.  A Google search yielded finds likewise peculiar.  One friend hypothesised that artists hadn’t grasped how to…grasp implements such as paintbrushes or palate knives; another – similarly to me – that it is an unattainable endeavour to persuade a cat to remain immobile; however, I have ultimately contemplated the unavoidable inference that these people just didn’t like cats!

I deviate from my, by now predictable, self-indulgent observations; many of which have been about art, to bring the reader yet new – and I use the term loosely – (medieval cat) art.

cat1

Untainted conjecture: this guy strayed from
his path to the forest moon of Endor.

cat2

Scientists err and lament, “we shall NEVER combine
catnip and steroids AGAIN.”

cat3

This guy is in attendance at a fancy dress party where
each and every cat is…Salvador Dali.

cat4

Language has deserted me…I mean really deserted me…I mean…
what…what the…what the fluff??!?

cat5

At times like this, one apprehends the horror
that one has imbibed too much catnip.

cat7

When cats pump iron.

cat6

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the
conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that
he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion…”
To wit: jeezaloo man; just be content with being a dog!

cat8

This masterpiece was daubed by the very same woman in Spain
whose restorative tour de force, Ecce Homo graces the Sanctuary
of Mercy Church  (h/t for this description: JAC).

Here is a link to the news story of that atrocity: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19349921 

…on “useful” art? Surely not!

“The art of sculpture is long ago perished to any real effect. It was originally a useful art, a mode of writing, a savage’s record of gratitude or devotion, and among a people possessed of a wonderful perception of form this childish carving was refined to the utmost splendour of effect.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Art, 1841

Earlier in this illuminating essay, Emerson began to delineate the divergence between the fine and useful arts by unwrapping distinctions of each; and the first time I read Art, I – an Artist – palpitated with voracious anticipation as I awaited the divulgence of that which is deemed a useful art; as I have long delighted in and beheld art – in its myriad types – as something to be savoured, purely for enjoyment’s sake; and that to lose and immerse oneself in the visual, musical, theatrical or written arts is the very antithesis of useful, which is defined by the OED as: 

“USEFUL: adjective: able to be used for a practical purpose or in several ways: aspirins are useful for headaches.

A useful art?  Indeed!  Those things which are useful are not – cannot be! – art; art is grander and more magnanimous than this!  Then lo!  That wondrous epiphany, which struck me like the proverbial tonne of bricks; the proverbial bolt out of the blue!

Purely a side comment here: as a Classicist, I can asservate that one need only circumnavigate the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (commonly abbreviated to CIL, which is an expansive compend of public and personal Latin inscriptions, and illuminates characteristics of ancient Roman life) to behold an entire civilisation’s worth of useful art.

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Inscription first published in 1939 by G. Calza

The usefulness of the above inscription is that it serves the intent of informing the viewer that the interred was freeborn; though, from a family of freed slaves and that her property was to be conferred upon her family and freedmen and women (none of whom were to profit from it); and that if none of these were extant, to the colony of Ostia.

For me, this extraordinary epiphany I underwent was a flawless merging of two things I love: art and ancient Rome, begotten by the brilliant elucidation of my favourite Bard, and the repercussion of each thing upon the other, and the one who brought this about for me, is something that will remain with me for some time to come, and change, for all time, the manner in which I receive art and ancient Rome; through the eyes of one whom I admire.  

What a glorious equilateral triangle!

image

Useful art: funerary stele of Aurelius Hermia and his wife, Aurelia

..on the life-cycle of marriage

…well, my marriage, which has, if truth be told, been an unalterable begetter of happiness, and which I wish to fete.

Dedicated to Gethyn:

One swiftly converging upon the two-decade occasion of one’s association with one’s bridegroom (that would be marriage!) inevitably gives introspection to said interconnection, its longevity, its maturation and its extant position.

(I must interrupt here to rejoice in the favourable occasion to use extant, which I have only ever exercised to reference Classical literature!)

To assist me in my discourse, I call upon the excellent erudition of my favourite bard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his exquisite essay, Love (1841).

I have oft exalted in the fact that he and I think comparably: cross-pollinate, as I have previously characterised the congruence, and that I admire him not because I fancy the way he contemplates; rather, because we conceive the same.  As my marriage verges upon its twenty-year mark, this cross-pollination is ever more apparent.

“He who paints it at the first period will lose some of its later, he who paints it at the last, some of its earlier traits. Only it is to be hoped that, by patience and the Muses’ aid, we may attain to that inward view of the law, which shall describe a truth ever young and beautiful, so central that it shall commend itself to the eye, at whatever angle beholden.”

It may be maintained that those who are young encounter passion in love, almost to the exclusion of all other manifestations of the emotion, with no perception of responses further along time’s arrow; similarly, that those of more advanced years, though passion exists, seek “higher” love: virtue and worth; however, it is conceivable that the young are possessed of the enlightenment of a more cultivated individual despite greenness; and this was precisely me: a young woman who, not given to frivolous associations, sought intellect, decency and aspiration above all in consociation.

“…and when the day was not long enough, but the night, too, must be consumed in keen recollections; when the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on; when the moonlight was a pleasing fever, and the stars were letters, and the flowers ciphers, and the air was coined into song; when all business seemed an impertinence, and all the men and women running to and fro in the streets, mere pictures.”

Who has not experienced this?!??  I certainly have and I hold it on worthy authority that Geth has as well.  There isn’t much to say here, as the reader will recognise his or her past; and perchance, still his or her current self!

Despite the age of the lover, love holds the capacity to impress every breadth of one’s existence –”every scene in the play” – by intensifying the circles of each – those nearest to one initially: relatives, home, friends; subsequently, those farthest: society, geography – outward in a merry demonstration of this emotion on the life of the lover.

“The same remark holds of painting.  And of poetry, the success is not attained when it lulls and satisfies, but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavours after the unattainable.”

This turn of phrase resonated acutely with me; Emerson deciphered beauty – and as such, love – as that which catches a spontaneous and deep emotion; the experiencer knows not whence; that it can be neither categorised nor defined and one should not attempt definition or categorisation; for to do so, said beauty is stripped of its astonishment; it is through the primary intellect – that would be intuition – that this wonder is actually realised, and it must be espoused, not inspected.

And in doing so, achieve thus…

“…but if, accepting the hint of these visions and suggestions which beauty makes to his mind, the soul passes through the body, and falls to admire strokes of character, and the lovers contemplate one another in their discourses and their actions, then they pass to the true palace of beauty, more and more inflame their love of it, and by this love extinguishing the base affection, as the sun puts out the fire by shining on the hearth, they become pure and hallowed.”

And, THIS is love!

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Sea otters mate for life, and hold hands whilst sleeping so as not to drift apart.

…on some more lovely guest poesy

My friend, Doreen Giglio, is intensely talented.  My hero (guess who!) deciphered beauty as that which catches a spontaneous and deep emotion; the experiencer knows not whence; that it can be neither categorised nor defined and one should not attempt definition or categorisation; for to do so, strips said beauty; furthermore, the same is said of art.

“And of poetry, the success is not attained when it lulls and satisfies, but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavours after the unattainable.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Love, 1841

My friend both astonishes and fires!

Once again, I leave the reader in the skillful hands and gifted pen of Doreen…

“April Showers bring May flowers,” was my mother’s way of comforting an irritating complaint heard from her three children that just wanted nothing more than to play outside. When I would hear Mom utter these very beautiful words in a sing-song fashion, I would immediately think to myself that ‘Flowers are nice but really Mom?? What do I care about flowers and the month of May?’  If I couldn’t have sunny skies to play outside with my neighborhood chums, then life would sure be a drag. Boy, did I despise the rain way back when. Now as an adult, the sound of these little droplets of moisture that fall from the heavens are so peaceful; comforting.  The rain satisfies an insatiable thirst along with cleansing the soul.  It is Mother Nature’s sweet fragrant perfume that blankets the Earth which is soothing to every living creature.”

Raindrops
By, Doreen Giglio

Rushing through the trees a warm wind blows
All is waiting on bated breath
Instantly heaven starts to weep
Nature accepts the gift of tears
Drenched, satisfying a firm thirst
Rose petals strewn with trifling pearls
Open leaves welcoming relief
Peace after a nourishing rain
Serenity washes over me…

Raind