For the eye sees not itself but by reflections , by some other things. Julius Caesar Act 1 sc. 2
It amazes me, again, how the many different strands of my life at the moment right now manage to intertwine themselves.
Last Thursday we had British history day. Our 16 and 17 year old students speak in groups of 4 on one subject, 3 minutes each. We had the Norman conquest, The Tudors, Henry the eighth, Queen Victoria pass by in 12 minute slots. Somehow the night before that I had been watching a very old BBC documentary on Henry the eighth. Before that we were talking about Richard the second in class. It is a bit like when you are pregnant and you suddenly see push prams everywhere. I now seem to be pregnant with parts of England, the language more specifically and finally it is a Shakespeare that I will have to deliver in the form of an essay.
During my MA course on affect we were discussing the speech Bush made when standing on the rubble that was left of the towers on 9/11. To me this has always seemed a rather badly improvised excuse of a speech. Apparently there is more to it than meets the eye. The way I perceived it, or more accurately did not receive it, may have a lot to do with the fact that I am not an American. Looking at and listening to this with a Dutch expectational horizon had led me to expect something far more elevated. I am not asking for much, if everything is flat already it is quite easy to rise to some height. Bush apparently seems to have the right American pitch going: from compassion – ‘we will pray for you who mourn’- to foreign politics -‘the rest of the world hears you’- to revenge -‘and the people who did this will hear from us very soon’- within a few sentences. Ending with: “the nation sends its love” If the nation sends its love who are the people standing there on ground zero? He then thanks everyone for their hard work not dissimilar from the way you would after a fundraiser or so. I do not really get this but the crowd there did and they cheered if they were at a football stadium. He said what the American people apparently needed to hear and who am I to blame him for that.
A day later I am studying Brutus’ and Anthony’s speeches in Julius Caesar.
Ah: “if you have tears prepare to shed them now.”
Somehow I relate far more to Shakespeare than to Bush. I like the bards way of words better. The drama of it, by the bucketload.
I eat these words, I chew on them, I savor them and, I come back to them and after having already chewed on them once before they still have kept taste and I hunger for more.
Sorry George, you go get’em but this is just a level you cannot reach.
I know, I know, it is not a fair comparison and Bush letting slip the dogs of war and crying havoc would be ludicrous and ridiculous but how I love it when Anthony does.
Even though the comparison between a ‘real’ event and a literary text is unequal there are similarities and in actual fact Bush did unleash the machinations of war. He did not cry but certainly created havoc in several parts of the world. And as for ambitions if Brutus was or was not ambitious Bush certainly was. If Brutus was ambiguous in his ambitions to do the wrong thing for the greater good. Bush was not ambiguous in his ambitious for the benefit of one nation, one oil driven economy, one president. They both plead the moral high-ground. The moral high-gound of ground zero and the most unkindest cut of all.
“Oh what a fall was there, my countymen!
Then I and you and all of us fell down, Whilst bloody treason swept over us.”