Wills

Exhibit 1.1.4

Seminar Papers

So I’m writing about King Lear which means I’m writing what somebody else said about King Lear a long time ago, but I haven’t read them so my essay still counts.

What I can contribute to Lear scholarship is an awesome title. I think people should pay me to do this:

King Leer: Cordelia Behind the Mask-uline Gaze

Behind the (Corn)Wall: Regan’s Feminist Plight

Kent and Kant: Perversions of Loyalty and the Refusal to Say “I Ken’t”

Won’t Be Fool-ed Again: Who’s Next after the Fool’s Death

No, No, Know Life! Lear’s Death As Self-Recovery

Cordelia’s Acquiescence to Love and [Sigh]lence

“Tom’s a (C/B)old:” Edgar’s Movement from Passionless to Passionate

I Hold You As an Other: Bastardy and Fraternal Relations

Pluck Out His I’s: Denial of Soliloquy and the Blind Subjectivity

Comment / Posted in Kings, Titles, Wills

Exhibit 24.6

It’s Hard to Understand How Weird This Must Have Been

In my Shakespeare in Production edition of The Merchant of Venice they spend a paragraph talking about Edwin Booth as one of the first notable American Shylocks. Edwin Booth is John Wilkes Booth’s brother, something I knew but didn’t really think much about in the past because he never came up in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Well, I went to the ever reliable Wikipedia to brush up on E. Booth up and came across this gem:

In an interesting coincidence, Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, from serious injury or even death….The exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865, shortly before Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Lincoln.

To recap: the most famous actor of the era saved the life of the president’s son then the actor’s quasi-famous brother killed the president.

It’s impossible to put this in a contemporary context. It’d be like if terrorists took over a plane with the president’s daughters on it only to have Sylvester Stallone save them. Then, months later, an aggrieved Frank Stallone shot the president.*

Who would even cover that story? TMZ? Honestly, I think it would end the internet. We’d all walk outside blinking and muttering to ourselves. Nothing would make sense. From this point forward I think history textbooks should have a chapter on the Lincoln assassination called: “Seriously, this was bizarre.”


*Yes, I’m writing that screenplay. Yes, Frank Stallone is attached.

Comment / Posted in Booths, History, Wills

Exhibit 24.1

Reading List Review

Shakespeare’s Histories and Comedies
The Tempest (Oxford)
Measure for Measure (Bedford)
Merchant of Venice (Cambridge’s Shakespeare in Production)
The Taming of the Shrew (Norton)
Richard II (Cambridge)
1 Henry IV (Arden)

Nearly perfect though I could do without Shrew and maybe even Measure given the fact that we are only doing six plays. One more history wouldn’t kill us though I guess my choice, Henry V, would make the entire thing a little too Bolingbroke heavy. In any case, I think it’s a nice list given the course’s emphasis on critical editions of the plays which, although it might sound shallow, has been great. The comedies especially take advantage of this as, with the possible exception of Shrew, they don’t neatly fit with the conventions of the genre.

Overall verdict: excited.
Comment / Posted in Reviews, School, Wills

Exhibit 20.12

I Don’t Know

Osmosis has me writing poems
or maybe
waiting for lunch is what
makes every thought
sound like it’s being spoken
slowly
meaningfully
into a microphone
but I won’t take your meter
never
William Logan
can I have your fortune cookie
tomorrow

2 Comments / Posted in Poetry, Tomorrow, Wills

Exhibit 15.22

I once had a liberal professor try to convince me that George F. Will is one of the good guys, one of the conservative commentators that, though I might disagree with him, should be taken seriously as a political thinker. Like this professor, finding those on the other side of issues that are as sincere and honest about their political beliefs as I try to be about mine, is important to me. For the professor, George F. Will became his nemesis, sort of a Rommel to his Patton, someone he could test his ideas against, all the time respecting his “enemy” more than many of his allies.

I supposed I believed the professor–or just couldn’t find anyone better in the intellectual wasteland after the Limbaugh-ization of conservative thought during the Bush years–and so started treating Will as the best of the available conservative columnists. Not that I sought him out, mind you, but just about every newspaper I’ve ever subscribed to has run his column and my parents get me a subscription to Newsweek every year, so Will has just always sort of been there. I don’t usually agree, but most of the time I can tolerate him.

His final column on the Bush administration is something else though. Some choice moments:

*“Furthermore, some, and perhaps many, Americans probably are alive today because persons conspiring to commit mass murder were thwarted by the president’s ferocious focus after 9/11.”*

Fair enough. Probably not true, but I’m fine with having this be the up-beat tenor of the closing days of the administration. Still, this is hardly the redemption Will thinks it is considering Bush was president before 9/11 and this cuts both ways. He certainly doesn’t deserve all of the blame but nor does he reserve all of the credit for the lack of attacks since then.

*“The administration’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina were real but secondary to, and less shocking than, the manifold derelictions of duties by the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans.”*

Really? I mean, I know no one did great here, but, um, really? You don’t think FEMA’s failure–which, I should remind everyone, IS A FEDERAL AGENCY THAT EXISTS SOLELY TO HANDLE SUCH EVENTS–messed up at least as much as the city of New Orleans? It’s embarrassing to pretend that any major metropolitan area, let alone even a small town, should be expected to handle a mass evacuation and then be able to house all of its citizens who return to find their homes destroyed.

*“On the other hand, among Bush’s excellent legacies, gifts that might keep on giving for decades, are two justices—John Roberts and Sam Alito.”*

Now this is just being a jerk, George F. Will. Funny though.

*This one is the really killer: “Within the lifetimes of most Americans now living, today’s media-manufactured alarm about man-made global warming might be an embarrassing memory. The nation will then be better off because Bush—during whose administration the embarrassing planet warmed not at all—refused to be stampeded toward costly “solutions” to a supposed crisis that might be chimerical, and that, if real, could be adapted for considerably less cost than will be sunk in efforts at prevention.”*

Look, I understand that as a conservative he’s honor bound not to believe in global warming–fine–but this has to be one of the dumbest things committed to paper recently. That’s not even considering the clunky language (“embarrassing planet?” “crisis that…could be adapted?”). Mostly it’s stupid because Will’s argument here is that George W. Bush was right to spend no money in developing new energy technologies because, you know, that worked out so well for American automakers. Besides, even outside of global warming, there a dozens of good reasons for the American government to seek to advance technology that doesn’t leave us dependent upon a finite resource controlled by the very people Will thinks want to kill us.

There are real arguments to be made here, but Will refuses to make them. There are good reasons why the Kyoto treaty is stupid so long as it doesn’t include any restrictions for China and India–which is not to say I wouldn’t vote to ratify it myself–but at this point there’s very little about contemporary environmental policy that’s so objectionable you can write it off even if you don’t believe in global warming.

There’s a bit of a strawman argument here. Will seems to think that George W. Bush was fighting off hoards of tie-dye wearing hippies who wanted energy rationing and building freezes when the reality is that he was fighting off market-driven solutions in favor of adopting a ‘drill, baby, drill’ mentality. Why would George Will possibly be against a free market cap-and-trade system? American workers, politicians, and, most of all, businesses are now looking toward energy technology as the industry that is going to decide the fate of the country through the next century, yet were supposed to be happy that our president spent his years trying to destroy the arctic in order to fuel our SUVs? The problem here is not that George Will (and, so he thinks, George Bush) doesn’t believe in global warming, it’s that Will is praising the president for doing something we know for a fact was a disaster both environmentally and, more important to men like Will, economically.

And the worst part is that the former president was stampeded toward solutions. He was the key figure in creating an alternative to the Kyoto Treaty that included some of the “developing” nations left out of the older treaty. Now, we can debate whether or not the new partnership is effective or if its goals should be mandatory instead of voluntary, but it’s certainly an acknowledgment by Bush that there is such a thing as climate change. I mean, it’s in the title of the organization he started for Christ’s sake.

In fairness to Will, I should mention that the rest of the column is not nearly so flattering to Bush though mostly its another elegy to what “real” conservative believe and how it was conservative politicians who failed rather than conservative ideology. Enough has been said about our former president and there’s certainly no reason to relive his years in office here, but I just found Will’s tortured tribute important for anyone thinking we’re going to get a new day in politics. As the handwringing has already started up at Fox News–good god, he didn’t use a Bible during his second oath!–it’s only a matter of time before we’re reminded how much some have at stake in keeping these imaginary divisions in place.

Comment / Posted in Environment, Politics, Wills