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Wall Street Blues

Westmoreland: O that we have the dope

But one fool perchance can undo all these boodle

By idle talk, mind you sirs!

Harry: How do you then we go

About or conceal from the Board, tell me.

If we are thick as thieves, we act as one

To do our country loss; and if we run

We abscond with lock stock and barrel, not a dime

Left behind. Not a word, to the Press,we have ‘t all.

By Jove, I am not sweating for gold,

Nor care I whose pension funds doth feed me;

Such outward things are for others to worry.

But if it be a sin to covet wealth,

I am the most offending soul alive….

benny

Original version

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

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Books are made up of words and each word has its own history, but that does not come to surface while we read, for the idea of reading presupposes a space in which an authors intention could be set up. James Joyce’s Ulysses is his account of one day in the life of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. Joyce wanted to give a sense of realism by incorporating real people and places into them… At the same time that Ulysses presents itself as a realistic novel, it also works on a mythic level, by way of a series of parallels with Homer’s Odyssey. Stephen, Bloom, and Molly correspond respectively to Telemachus, Ulysses, and Penelope, and each of the eighteen episodes of the novel corresponds to an adventure from the Odyssey.’(sparknotes-Ulysses/context) The date June 16, 1904 in which the events take place is also very crucial to the author, but it s irrelevant to the reader. Nevertheless it throws light into the author’s emotional energy that suffuses the proceedings of various personages in the book.

There are three elements that we need in order to get the most out of any book:

Realism of the work: In Ulysses Joyce created situations and personages that derive their naturalness within the basic premise of  reliving a personal event: his first date with Nora Barnacle.

Literary Space which is created by words and it has its own coloring, structure according to the literary devices employed the author.

Mirroring process: This is a subjective element whereby sensibilities of the reader can relate to the events emotionally as well as rationally.

Having used Ulysses as an example let me show the same elements in the Scriptures.

Realism of Ulysses as mentioned above is based on Joyce’s first date with his future wife. It is true. Similarly Truth gives verisimilitude to the scriptures, be it the Bible or Koran or any other. Truth of the godhead gives them their validity. Prophet’s visionary experience gives Koran its impact as the Bible.

In the matter of literary space the Bible creates multiple worlds that run into one another. Kingdom of God and divine Will permeates from the first book to the last Apocalyptic book. Secondly kingdom of Heaven is exemplified by Jesus during his earthly ministry. Thirdly is a earthly kingdom when the Prince of Peace of Messiah sets up his earthly kingdom as fulfillment of prophetic writings. The Book of Daniel for example.

The mirroring process is one area where many tend to go wrong. The reader must exercise his understanding and judgment to get the most out of the Scriptures. The time frame of the reader in the last century is different from the present. Timelessness of Truth is to be mirrored in the reader’s ‘time-space frame’. The Scriptures  are meant to guide us into all righteousness and godliness.  If we cannot live according to the moral guideposts shown in by the author what avails the reader? Truth as impacted into the literary space is the work of Holy Spirit that overrules as well as instructs the reader. It also serves a caution. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip: ‘How can I except some man should guide me?(Ac.8:31) There are passages that may defy simple explanations since the author’s language and experience cannot be mirrored directly but from roundabout way. Thus the prophesies of Isaiah cannot be made sense unless one know of the subject he is predicting. No wonder when some fellows stone or hack others for blasphemy they are interpreting the scriptures wrongly.

benny

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Friends, Romans, countrymen,

Lend me your tears;

I will show a trick or two

Use them to ‘ffect.

What I do not feel I can with your tears

Buy me laurel of the dead as my own.

(Aside) I am their head and the mob

No head but emotions as slop.

The noble Brutus has told and you nod for all he said;

So You shall, but leave your hot tears for me.

Grievously shall it be a flood damm’d,

Till I rouse you to lend bitter tears.

Oh Judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts

Taken at the flood of the rabble!

Original Version:  Julius Caesar:  Act III sc.ii

Friends, Romans, countrymen,

Lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

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Shakespeare’s life is equated with the Elizabethan Age. Such is his genius. One might wonder how can a young lad with modicum of education, -typical grammar school syllabus with its devotion to Ovid, Bible and Prayer Book , unlike his contemporary Marlow who went to the University, surpass all others to be the representative man of the Age. It is such a serious question that defies a rational answer and many scholars have hazarded a theory to aver Bacon as the real author. As with every theory it has its supporters but literature is not respecter of class or scholarship. It has to smell life in its naturalness, even coarseness has its part. Scholarship can make a horse run to win the Derby but cannot make it fly like Pegasus. Here is the difference between Shakespeare and his rivals. His line trots and when flies it takes our breath away.

So what was the secret of William Shakespeare? I shall come to it by and by. Beginning as a player he became the most celebrated playwright of the Age. It was a time when poets were considered a cut above the players similar to the subtle social distinctions that marked a composer than a flautist in the Baroque Age. He made wise career moves in taking shares of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company at its inception in 1594 and his star rose as with the fortunes of the Company. Its popularity was such its players were elevated to be regarded as the King’s Men on James I accession in 1603. He ended up as part owner of the Blackfriar’s theatre. In short his sound business acumen made him as the Stratford lad who made good in the City of London.

Intelligence he had aplenty as his life in bare essentials would prove. His imagination was of such ethereal quality that he could put words in the mouth of Mercutio and we feel we know Queen Mab as though from direct experience. Never has any one excelled in poetic fancies as shown in the plays like Othello or Antony and Cleopatra. One can imagine it coming out like a single sweep of imagination, theme and coloring adding to the line- richness and vibrancy as the Renaissance palette of a Tintorotto or a Vernese. In the latter play especially ‘his language reaches heights and depths never reached before or excelled since.’

Not poppy, nor mandragora,

Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,

Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep..” (Ot.AcIII sc.3: 330)

Negative capability as defined by John Keats explains the ability of Shakespeare, whose academic credentials were merely rudimentary, to have excelled himself in writing plays that bear his name. The Bard of Avon despite his negative capability made up by exercising his imagination. Such is imagination and it belongs to the inner world.

ii

How rational mind may lay bare our world in terms of use and purpose is like putting together a newspaper which once read is outdated. Mere facts help one negotiate his world adequately. Shakespeare’s King Lear or Hamlet and Macbeth hold freshness that is beyond fads and facts. Works such as these are drawn by imagination,- or in a manner of speaking, lay bare the truth that animates human soul. Imagination ranging through inner world can give human experience various shades of meaning and reveal them to others. The Bard surpassed himself and his lines consequently acquired beauty and truth to delight great many.

benny

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Shakespeare’s 450th birthday was celebrated quite recently and if I felt I owe at least a mention of  him it is because of his incandescent genius. Every nation creates a benchmark that rarely can be surpassed nor one dare dispute its place. Legend of King Arthur is rightfully conceded as belonging in such a category. Legends are precisely set so high if any one even so much as try to meet it half in achievement would be creditable. Shakespeare lives in such rarefied atmosphere and shall continue to do so.
William Shakespeare

Shakespear’s influence on the English language has stood the test of time thus far, with little sign of relenting.Echelons of British culture aside, even those who “don’t do Shakespeare” speak his words in their daily lives. Most of us will have quoted the playwright thousands of times without knowing it.Ever been “in a pickle” or had “too much of a good thing”? Perhaps friends have “eaten (you) out of house and home” or had you “in stitches” over a joke.
There are many more phrases and words we owe the Bard who belongs to mankind except the language in which he clothed his genius. Genius cannot have a country anymore than a sword may be found in a scabbard.
“For goodness sake” –
Henry VIII

– “Neither here not there” – Othello

– “Mum’s the word” – Henry VI, Part II

– “Eaten out of house and home” – Henry IV, Part II

– “Rant” – Hamlet

– “Knock knock! Who’s there?” – Macbeth

– “All’s well that ends well” – All’s Well That Ends Well

– “With bated breath” – The Merchant of Venice

– “A wild goose chase” – Romeo and Juliet

– “Assassination” – Macbeth

– “Too much of a good thing” – As You Like It

– “A heart of gold” – Henry V

– “Such stuff as dreams are made on” – The Tempest

– “Fashionable” – Troilus and Cressida

“What the dickens” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

– “Puking” – As You Like It

– “Lie low” – Much Ado About Nothing

“Dead as a doornail” – Henry VI, Part II

“Not slept one wink” –

Cymbeline

– “Foregone conclusion” – Othello

– “The world’s mine oyster” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

– “Obscene” – Love’s Labour’s Lost

– “Bedazzled” – The Taming of the Shrew

– “In stitches” – Twelfth Night

– “Addiction” – Othello

“Naked truth” – Love’s Labour’s Lost

– “Faint-hearted” – Henry VI, Part I

“Send him packing” – Henry IV

– “Vanish into thin air” – Othello

– “Swagger” – Henry V

– “Own flesh and blood” – Hamlet

– “Truth will out” – The Merchant of Venice

– “Zany” – Love’s Labour’s Lost

“Give the devil his due” – Henry IV, Part I

“There’s method in my madness” – Hamlet

– “Salad days” – Antony and Cleopatra

– “Wear your heart on your sleeve” – Othello

– “Spotless reputation” – Richard II

– “Full circle” – King Lear

– “There’s the rub” – Hamlet

– “All of a sudden” – The Taming of the Shrew

  • “Come what, come may” – Macbeth
  • (ack: independent.uk/Jess Denham on 23rd April,2014)

To be continued

benny

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7.
One day the boy, Pheidonides said he was alone in the wide world. ‘No one cared if I lived or died,’ he said. Aesop let him speak. The boy explained that since he considered himself not responsible for his little brothers he came to the conclusion there existed no reason why should others care if he existed or not. Aesop explained how the world was connected by means of an example.
“When eagles fly the wild hares sunning on the rocks run as fast as their legs can carry. If hares run what will a tortoise do? He thinks hares are running to spite him. So he also sprints not realizing he is clumsy. He is bound to slip and fall over. “Sad uh?” Aesop asked: ”with his heavy shell he merely scratches the air; helpless he is.” The boy said, ”If I were there I would set him right.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I think of Creon whenever I see a tortoise.” Aesop didn’t press the obvious. For he knew the boy already had sensed the connection.

8.
When Aesop told Xeno the cynic about his discourse to the neighbor kid Xeno said, ”What, are you partial to the tortoise? The poor eagle has his mate and a brood of chicks to feed. Think of their state if every one had the same notions as you?”
“Xeno,” Aesop said, ”you are right. Eagles with red talons and beak also have their place in the scheme of things.”
“I did not think you would agree so quickly!”
“ You are right but you miss the whole picture.” Aesop said, ”It is the duty of every living being to preserve the right to life in others. Speaking of the right no more compassion can be shown than when one is helpless. Compassion is the means to provide equal chance for the birds of prey and tortoises. Equal chance, Xeno”
Xeno agreed.

9.
It was evident Xeno had given much thought to the last discussion he had with Aesop. “But you did not get equal chance. Neither did I.” Xeno explained in so many words about his past. He was the second son who merely replaced the one who died before. He said, ”I knew I was not loved for what I am.” Controlling himself he added, “By the time my younger brothers came my parents were cured of their folly and they got their share, alright.” Suddenly Xeno fell silent.
“Yes, my friend,” Aesop explained, ”there is so much ignorance and cruelty. Those who ought to have loved and cherished us merely failed in their duty. We came into this world naked and dispossessed already. It is the law of deprivation at work. We had no choice in the matter. Did we?” Xeno shook his head.
“It is random and an accident. Why make it worse by feeling sorry?  The law of deprivation entitles us to another law.”
Xeno shot up his eyebrows.
“Yes. Law of Compensation.” Aesop said, ”Whatever good comes your way you have earned it. How I came into the household of Iadmon was not how I went out.”
“You are still cash strapped,” Xeno asked, ”Aren’t you?”  “Yes,” Aesop said, ”Making riches was not how I wished to be compensated.” Aesop realized life compensated him only in directions he sought to remedy his wants.
He told him a story to illustrate it.  An Argive went in search of gold after hearing of a gold rush in the neighborhood. He came to the right spot all right. But he was too late. So many had before him panned gold from the rocks and so quickly too, and had exhausted the deposit. So he went on in dismay not knowing where. He stumbled upon a field strewn with bodies of men and horses. A bloody carnage the battlefield had witnessed and he was the only living person there. The Persian army lay dead in their rich apparel and armor before him. He picked as much gold plated helmets and body armor, not to mention swords with handles studded with precious jewels. He brought home a fortune! There was gold much more than he would have ever picked from panning. Was he wrong if he treated his find as compensation for his trouble?
10.
The city of Athens was electrified by the news. The Battle of Salamis was fought and the City drew some kind of shock that converted each citizen. A new confidence was evident everywhere. Aesop had put himself for the war effort and Basileus relieved him for the purpose. Because of his lameness he could not do active service as a foot soldier. When Xeno asked him if he was disappointed he said, ”Oh no! I do not care for the glory of a war but it is necessity to put myself to the cause of Athens.” With a smile he said, ”The commander who saw me awaiting marching orders said, you will not do, son. Your bad foot shall not hold up other soldiers.”
“Law of compensation at work I see!” The cynic said. Aesop continued, ”I spend part of my day copying orders in a clear hand. My commander says he is satisfied with my work. My beautiful hand must serve instead.”  (Selectd from The Life of Aesop-Ch.8, pages 147-151)

benny

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If the works of any man could make his biographer write in exasperation as thus: “All the while I was writing the biography I had to fight off a revulsion that kept rising within me,” we know it has to be that of Fyodor Dosteovsky. Leo Tolstoy was in full agreement with Nicholas Strakhov, who was the biographer. Such classics as The Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and Brothers Karamazov have passed into our treasury of literature as supreme examples of this Russian genius.
Tolstoy, a great author himself, ridiculed Dostoevsky’s exaggeration, his implausibility, inchoate style, his grammatical errors, and his mania for peopling his imaginary universe with epileptics, alcoholics and paranoiacs. Tolstoy never did experience such ups and downs and sordidness as he did. Dosteovsky was sick in himself, who thought of himself noble and happy and yet lacked courage to see any further than himself. To quote his biographer again,” He was vicious, envious, depraved and spent his life in a state of emotional upheaval and exasperation that would have made him appear ridiculous had he not been so malicious and so intelligent.”
Where Mozart rose above the immediate circumstances over his disappointments and misery the Russian writer sank under, into lower depths. How much more sickening one can get than his boasting about his encounters with little girls and not having any repugnance over them? Once Turgeniev, the author of Fathers and Sons bristled at his confession and asked rather angrily why he was telling him that. “ I just wanted to show how I despise you,”was his answer. He rearranged his life, however scabrous or demeaning it might have been, into works something that still have universal appeal.
Our life is real, transient reality to be precise, while such works as that of Dostoevsky or Kafka fall within the realm of supra-reality that we can accept as self-evident. Can we explain why life must overload a sensitive child with the violent death of his father however brute he may have been, and all other attendant distresses as in the case of Dostoevsky? For that matter can one reasonably explain why a bright child of three suddenly fall victim to cancer? Or a child, an apple of the eye of its parents, before their eyes fall a victim of hit and run case? Try to explain it in a way its parents can understand then perhaps we may be able to stand in judgment of his life as he lived apart from his works.
benny

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