The virus

from the wikipedia page for virus

There are names I could write here of people you’re probably heard of who are professional trolls.  They say things which are designed to offend and provoke and irritate and outrage.  Then those things (and the person’s name) are spread by people outraged and irritated and provoked and offended.

The Twitter-era disease of spreading bad stuff in order to roast/be outraged by it.  It’s like a virus that spreads every time you complain you are sick.

This is not really a profound or insightful observation.  But every day I see smart people who I like filling my Twitter timeline or my Internet with sickness and poison in their effort to combat sickness and poison.

Hey, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.  (Feels like even discussing this could form part of the problem).  The President himself is one of these characters, which makes this problem almost too baffling to contemplate.

There are many lesser demons however where I don’t understand why I’m constantly being exposed to their bad takes, even if it’s in the context of making fun of them or “destroying” them.

It seems like an Internet specific problem.  I don’t feel like people used to seek out unusually dumb editorials just to light them up.  Maybe they did.  Harder, though.  The free instant worldwide publishing era was bound to have diseases as well as benefits.

Cable news is a whole other category of this, one big sewer of this disease, far as I can tell.

An unhealthy sitch!  I don’t know what the solution is, except some self-discipline to ignore and keep moving.


The hardest part is just getting it out

I consider myself a Sierra Ornelas fan but I would’ve missed this interview with her in Creative Independent had I not caught it over at Bookbinderlocal455

source

Similar advice is given at the beginning of this book:

which I found really helpful.  The jist being: make it as easy as possible, even automatic, to start creative work.

The starting is the hard part.

 


Henry IV, Part One (and Richard II)

Time to read Henry IV: Part One.  Let’s just dive right in. 

Dammit!  Fine.

Didn’t get a ton out of Richard II, to be honest with you.  Professor McHugh tells me I’ll appreciate it if I read:

It’s all about how weird and hard it is for frail, weak Richard to be king.  He’s got his actual human body, which sucks, trying to rise up to be the Body Politic, the kingly body.  Or something.

I appear to have marked this for some reason.  

Anyway.

The play is mainly about a king waffling and reversing himself and causing problems.  Much of the play is people introducing themselves at a long tournament scene.

We do meet Henry Bolingbroke, who has a son whose thing is prostitutes and being a wastrel:

HENRY BOLINGBROKE

Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?
‘Tis full three months since I did see him last;
If any plague hang over us, ’tis he.
I would to God, my lords, he might be found:
Inquire at London, ‘mongst the taverns there,
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent,
With unrestrained loose companions,
Even such, they say, as stand in narrow lanes,
And beat our watch, and rob our passengers;
Which he, young wanton and effeminate boy,
Takes on the point of honour to support
So dissolute a crew.

HENRY PERCY

My lord, some two days since I saw the prince,
And told him of those triumphs held at Oxford.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE

And what said the gallant?

HENRY PERCY

His answer was, he would unto the stews,
And from the common’st creature pluck a glove,
And wear it as a favour; and with that
He would unhorse the lustiest challenger.

That’s really gonna be the problem for the next couple plays: Henry Bolingbrook trying to get help from his son who would rather be unto the stews.

Without his unthrifty son, Bolingbroke still manages to depose Richard.

I got deposed

This makes him King Henry IV, but it’s kind of an unsteady position.

Henry IV feels bad when Richard ends up murdered, so he promises to go on a crusade to Jerusalem:

I’ll make a voyage to the Holy Land

To wash this blood off from my guilty hand.

March sadly after; grace my mournings here,

In weeping after this untimely bier.

And with that we:

FINIS

OK.  We’re ready for:

Now, listen.  Is reading Shakespeare even a worthwhile thing to do?

The plays were written to be heard, not read.

Right.

When Ben Jonson published his first folio, he was considered uppity for imagining that his plays were worthy of consideration. They were sketches for a whorehouse. You have to imagine Shakespeare’s plays being written between strippers carrying on.

so says Mark Rylance in this New Yorker profile.

Somewhere I can’t find now — the playbill for Jerusalem? — I read an interview with Rylance where he said something like.

In Shakespeare’s day you wouldn’t say have you seen Hamlet, you’d say have you heard Hamlet.  In that sense it was something more like a concert.

(Not an exact quote but close-ish).  More from Rylance, in The Telegraph:

He believes that Shakespeare “did not write literature”, claiming it is as bizarre to read his work on paper as it would be to study the Rolling Stones as poets.

“To take a song like Honky Tonk Woman and study it for its literature is fair enough, but if you’re going to then revere it as literature I think you’re doing a disservice to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who would like it to be revered as a great rock and roll song,” he says.

Cool take.

Is reading Shakespeare as foolish as like, reading Nas raps written down?

So stay civilized, time flies. Though incarcerated your mind dies, I hate it when your moms cries. It kinda makes me want to murder, for real a/I even got a mask and gloves to bust slugs but one love

Both are bursts of verbal exuberance from a chaotic, semi-criminal urban world of blended culture and language.

illustrating a Smithsonian article, “William Shakespeare, Gangster?

How much was Shakespeare’s Southwark like Crown Heights?

There are some powerful phrases in Henry IV, Part One.  I like when Sir Walter Blunt arrives, and the King says he is

Stained with the variation of each soil

Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours.

The story of this play is that Henry (The King) is having a hard time with rebellious Henry Percy, aka Hotspur.   Not helping him is his son, Prince Hal, who just likes to party and drink with his pal Falstaff.

An 1829 watercolor by Johann Heinrich Ramberg of Act II, Scene iv: Falstaff enacts the part of the king.

Hotspur the rebel is a better, more viral example than his own son, and Henry knows it!  Driving him nuts.

Spoiler alert: by the end of the play Prince Hal gets his act together somewhat.

He and Hotspur face off at the battle of Shrewsbury.

Hal kills Hotspur.

Hotspur.  O Harry, thou hast robbed me of my youth!

I better brook the loss of brittle life

Than those proud title thou hast won of me.

They wound my thoughts worse than thy sword my flesh.

But thought, the slaves of life, and life, time’s fool,

And time, that takes survey of all the world,

Must have a stop.  O, I could prophesy,

But that the earthy and cold hand of death

Lies on my tongue.  No, Percy, thou art dust,

And food for —

[Dies]

The big star of Henry IV, Part One, the guy who gets a lot of stage time for his clowning, is Falstaff.

Falstaff.  Why, there it is!  Come, sing me a bawdy song, make me merry.  I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need to be, virtuous enough: swore little, diced not above seven times a week, went to a bawdy house not above once in a quarter of an hour, paid money that I borrowed three or four times, lived well, and in good compass, and now I live out of all order, out of all compass.

Are you laughing your ass off yet?

Look, we’ll have more to say about Falstaff

Orson Welles as Falstaff

who will soon be played, right here in Los Angeles in a limited run next month, at the Japanese Garden of the West Los Angeles VA Healthcenter, by Tom Hanks.

(I believe tickets are free to veterans).

We intend to file a dispatch.

Just when one is about to give up on the whole project of reading the Henriad, you get to Henry IV, Part II.

which starts off with a friggin bang:

for which of you will stop

The vent of hearing when loud Rumor speaks?

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Will Kempe

Let’s pick up there next time!  Thanks for joining Henry IV study buddies!


Great Blasket Island

 

Not easy to get there:

Lucky weather on this particular day.

What we might call in the USA a ghost town.  The last inhabitants were evacuated in 1953:

In 1907 Norwegian linguist Carl Marstander went there to learn Irish from this local:

Tomás Ó Chriomhthain, who later wrote a book about his life there.

source

Some other islanders wrote, or dictated, their own tales of their hard and primitive lives on this island:

As a girl Peig Sayers was supposed to go join a friend in America, but the friend had an accident and couldn’t send the money.  She gave birth to eleven children.  Five died.

Peig’s book was (I’m told, by the excellent tour guide) forced on generations of Irish schoolchildren.  In 1941 this genre of rural Irish poverty literature was parodied by Flann O’Brien / Brian O’Nolan / Myles na gCopaleen:

An Béal Bocht is set in Corca Dhorcha, (Corkadoragha, Corkadorkey), a remote region of Ireland where it never stops raining and everyone lives in desperate poverty (and always will) while talking in “the learned smooth Gaelic”.

Blasket life does seem rough.

This was my second visit, and both times I’ve been blown away by the Blasket Center / Ionad Blaiscoid Mhór.

The architecture and design and use of landscape on this building is just very cool:

Here’s it from afar:

Couldn’t find online who the architect was, so I emailed them, and they wrote back and told me:

The architect of the centre was Ciaran O’Connor, who is the State architect nowadays.

State architect.  Cool.

Really impressed with the Irish OPW. They take care of their treasures, Ireland.

Let’s wish him well!


Stars of the National Gallery of Ireland

source

“Pwease Adam?  One bite?  You’ll like it I promise!”

The Temptation of Adam, by James Barry.

Look grandfather, I am but a nymph!

Lady Caroline Crichton and her grandpa?

 

Gareth Reid, Graham Norton (from Gareth Reid’s website)

In 1992, Norton’s stand-up comedy drag act as a tea-towel clad Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe made the press when Scottish Television’s religious affairs department mistakenly thought he represented the real Mother Teresa.

This one by Paul Henry, A Connemara Village, is under some serious copyright I guess.

Robert Ballagh’s portrait of Neil Brown “communicates the resolute character for which he was known.”  I’ll say!  Copyright plus reproductions don’t do it justice.  Worth seeing if you’re in Dublin.

Also good:

John Kindness, Gay Byrne

The Liffey Swim by Jack Yeats (W. B’s brother) won Ireland’s first Olympic medal, a silver in 1924 in the category Painting.  (Jean Jacoby took gold).

 

 


Irish Abortion

The Irish are having a referendum on whether to repeal the 8th amendment to their constitution, which bans abortion.

Struck by the bluntness of the campaigning. 

Feel the experience of growing up around Catholic anti-abortion people helps explain things that seem incomprehensible to some liberal pals, like how people could vote for Roy Moore (or Donald Trump).

People hate abortion protesters. ‘They’re so shrill and awful.’ But they think babies are being murdered. What are they supposed to be (saying)? ‘Well, hmmm … that’s not cool.

(Don’t ask who said that.)

Is anyone convincing anyone on this one?

Not easy to find “new” arguments on the abortion issue but Irish novelist Sally Rooney made a point I hadn’t heard stated so cleanly before:

Yes. Pregnancy, entered into willingly, is an act of generosity, a commitment to share the resources of life with another incipient being. Such generosity is in no other circumstances required by law. No matter how much you need a kidney donation, the law will not force another person to give you one. Consent, in the form of a donor card, is required even to remove organs from a dead body. If the foetus is a person, it is a person with a vastly expanded set of legal rights, rights available to no other class of citizen: the foetus may make free, non-consensual use of another living person’s uterus and blood supply, and cause permanent, unwanted changes to another person’s body. In the relationship between foetus and woman, the woman is granted fewer rights than a corpse. But it’s possible that the ban on abortion has less to do with the rights of the unborn child than with the threat to social order represented by women in control of their reproductive lives.

(Don’t like how they spell fetus as foetus.  One of many upsetting aspects.)

Anyway, let’s see who wins!  The vote goes down Friday.


Fairy Fort

My assistant shows us the height of the walls.

This part of the fort was too well defended to explore.

Note the width of the walls.  This suggests fairies of significant size.  Not inconceivable that these fairies stood as high as five or even six apples.

The inhabitants of the fort wallow in safety.

Many forts like this can be found in Ireland, sometimes billed as “Iron Age forts.” When was the Iron Age?

The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record. This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire c. 550 BC (considered historical by virtue of the record by Herodotus) is usually taken as a cut-off date, in Central and Western Europe the Roman conquests of the 1st century BC. The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning Viking Age.

The distant and mysterious past, in other words. 

Insight into the “crazed Wisconsin” period of Irish history.