Friday, May 01, 2009

Julius Caesar--Part 2

I have already made reference to the hapless Lepidus in an earlier post, but I have to make mention of Antony's brutal breakdown of him (IV. i. around l.30):

"So is my horse, Octavius, and for that
I do appoint him store of provender:
It is a creature that I teach to fight,
To wind, to stop, to run directly on,
His corporal motion govern'd by my spirit.
And in some taste, is Lepidus but so;
He must be taught, and train'd, and bid go forth;
A barren-spirited fellow; one that feeds
On abjects, orts* and imitations,
Which, out of use and staled by other men,
Begin his fashion: do not talk of him
But as a property..."


Make no mistake. This is what the great men in your life, if you are not one of them, think and say about you when you are not there, if they even bother to think or say anything about you at all.

IV. iii. around l.130, race of poets referred to as "jigging fools". Jigging referring, I assume, to the dances which have been categorized under that root, I thought it a funny image.

IV. iii. around l.210 (my edition only gives line numbers at the top of the page column--this section is in the middle of ll. 190-230) BRUTUS:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries."

An old favorite.

Among the many literary areas in which Shakespeare excels, he does "final doomed battle" scenes probably better than anyone else.

This sign says "Fiume Rubicone" in the full view. I have to say, I never think of its still being there.

I found it of interest that Octavius speaks last in both this play and Antony and Cleopatra. It is my theory, expressed briefly in one of the earlier posts, that Shakespeare did not especially like him, as being one of those men whose especial talent was to bring dramatic and disorderly action, which of course is the lifeblood of the soul to a man like Shakespeare, to a rapid halt.

V. v. 41-42. BRUTUS: " bones would rest,
That have but labour'd to attain this hour."

At the time I apparently thought this was expressed especially brilliantly. The tenor of the speech must have been in great synchronicity with whatever mood I was in at that moment.

In case you have a lot of time to kill, here is a bad copy of Marlon Brando giving the funeral oration.

Regarding the famous Noblest Roman, "This was a man" speech at the end, I wrote, Why inspiring? Way we think of man (men?)? I should really stop using the pluralis majestatis even in thought where any attitude in this line is being considered. Whomever I imagine this "we" is supposed to be, I am sure I am either do not constitute one of them, and therefore use the pronoun improperly, or refer to a group whose opinion in these types of matters is of no interest to me whatsoever. Still, the idea of a play especially as a sort of communal possession whose ultimate importance in the life of a group depends to some extent on a fairly consensual opinion regarding its qualities, and in the quote I refer to that same idea of a communal possession extends even to the idea of individual men, as well as families. The extent to which such excitement as does surround the continued study of Shakespeare and other classical authors lies in this is I think highly understated. The idea of the great man, or perhaps I should say more simply the realized man, the developed man, combined with the ability to understand in what such a person's greatness consists relatively intimately, without jealousy or becoming consumed by feelings of inferiority, is a necessary step to becoming a fully acculturated and mature, respectable member of any society.

At least that is the attitude and worldview I have bought into, and will hardly be able to exchange for another that I will be able to wear any better at this late date. If what a large portion of the community of hard thinkers--the science and mathematical people--insist so vehemently is true, and to my knowledge are not cognitively vulnerable to any persuasion otherwise, that the truths discovered in the sciences have moved so far beyond all the cumulative wisdom and knowledge of the various literatures, histories, philosophies, arts, etc, that form a great part even of what used to be known as high cultures, such that schools and colleges should not even teach these subjects as unworthy the attentions of serious intellects--well, in time it should become clear enough to all the people of highest intelligence, and that group's wannabes, and Shakespeare and the arts and all of that will have their places--as perhaps they already do--like religion has its place, no longer at the forefront of history and human progression, but as pleasant hobbies for people who have ceased to progress historically.

The great problem of science, of course, is its extreme level of cognitive exclusivity, and its general lack of gripping communal rituals to make those outside its priesthood sense wholly their personal connection to and uplift by it. If it is a greater and more profound as well as a more difficult to understand truth than any found in philosophy or literature or languages, which are quite difficult enough, that is all good and well, but if most people can never hope to understand the intricacies of it, such that art cannot interpret it, poetry and music cannot imprint its most vital tenets on the common psyche, architecture cannot express its aspirations in an inspiring manner...but people do do all of these things, with innovation and technology. The communal life speeds on as efficiently as ever. People like me just don't want to admit we are beat on all sides. There are still troupes of authentic actors and musicians and writers everywhere, and there always will be. I cannot pass for one of them, live their more slightly interesting and dissolute lives, and so I imagine they must cease to exist, or surely I'd be there myself. I see physicists mocking professors of literature and my feelings are hurt, though a professor of literature would mock me and my pitiful essays twice as ruthlessly. I want to defend and explain the importance of humanistic study, mainly because it has been important to me, and has been the cause of some improvement of understanding in me, but intelligent society has moved far beyond the point where a person developed only to the extent I am is considered anywhere close to acceptable. I am not in a position to be an advocate for anything, unless it be to people in a very low condition indeed; all of which, as one can imagine, is very frustrating.

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