My partner used to make fun of me for being such a Charles Dickens fan. He thought Dickens was all picturesque urchins and holiday sentimentality. Then I convinced him to read Bleak House and he discovered how much there was to love. He sent me hilarious up to the minute reactions to the book via text. His exclamations about Lady Deadlock were some of the best texts I’ve ever received.
We’ve had a kind of Dickens book club ever since. We don’t read them at the same time- but between us, we are both reading a Dickens novel and each of us reading one that the other has read before. I am reading Oliver Twist. He is reading Our Mutual Friend. And we are enjoying one another’s mutual journey through our respective books. We don’t talk much about politics or current events. We don’t talk about other people. We talk about Fagin and Riderhood, Mr. Bumble and Mr. Venus.
Now my partner rails at a culture that led him to believe that Dickens was a twee author reserved for carolers and ceramic villages.
This is actually a bit of good advice for Rosencrantz, if only he could heed it. I suspect that Hamlet has a lot of insight into how Claudius operates. He’s known him his whole life and he has likely seen this very pattern in action before. He knows what happens to people who suck up to Claudius.
And Rosencrantz has bet on the wrong horse here. He’s chosen to ally with Claudius. This makes me wonder what would have happened if Rosencrantz had chosen Hamlet. What if he’d actually owned up to the situation and said, “Look Hamlet, your mom and uncle brought us here. But we’re your friends and maybe we can help. I’ll tell the king whatever you think will keep him off your back. And if there’s spying you need done on them, I will do it for you. You have reason to be suspicious of us, of course. But I want you to know that I’m on your side and want to help you do whatever it is you need to do.” I mean – what would have happened? Tragedy averted?
I mean. Of course, it wouldn’t be a good play if that had happened but it feels like an interesting alterna-verse for these characters.
Hamlet seems to know an awful lot about apes. Why? Are apes native to Denmark? I should think not. Nor to England either.
Maybe there’s a Danish Royal Zoo? Or a touring wild animal show? I am very curious about where this knowledge of apes comes from.
Or is it not knowledge? Just imagined ape behavior? This is such a specific image. It just feels like something Hamlet (or Shakespeare) witnessed.
The END being the operative in this sentence.
I mean. The best service is very likely one’s death.
Is there any better service one could provide than one’s death?
Best Service in the End has a military ring.
The military pitches itself as serving and that the ultimate sacrifice would be the best service of all. See also my post on the West Point cadets.
Ah. Yes. The soaking up of reflected glory. Sponge is rather a perfect metaphor for this. This is something we often see in assistants who enjoy the reflective power of their positions. You see it in all those Insider Hollywood stories. (Episodes, The Player, Entourage, The Comeback) There’s always that assistant who disappears into their boss – one who does his dirty work for him, who approves as s/he think he would approve or dismiss where s/he thinks he would dismiss. They can even look alike as the assistant, the sponge starts to soak up so much that his/her natural look is obscured by what it has absorbed.
It would be fun if Rosencrantz were played by Spongebob Squarepants. And maybe Patrick could be Guildenstern. I’m not familiar enough with the Spongebob universe to work out who the others might be. I mean – because SpongeBob is the hero – he probably should play Hamlet instead – but in THIS scene… it might be really fun to have Rosencrantz be an actual sponge.
Or maybe it needs to be object theatre – and Rosencrantz is played by a sponge or a loofa or a shower puff – something close to a sponge but not a sponge – and Guildenstern is played by steel wool or a bar of soap or a soapdish. Hamlet is maybe a spatula? I don’t know. I’d have to audition some objects. Something different from Rosencrantz and Gulidenstern. But of the same universe.
I used to take pride in this sort of thing. I could listen to someone’s secrets for hours and never reveal my own. Not to them, not to anyone.
But at a certain point, I realized that keeping my own secrets secret was hurting me more than protecting me. If I chose well, I could reveal myself to a friend and feel a profound relief, sure, on one hand, at having burst the bubble of silence – but also a real connection with someone, a mutual sense of knowing and sharing. It was a risk to share but that risk offered reward I hadn’t even been able to imagine. I risk more often than I horde now. I have learned how to reveal in safe places.
It feels laughable now but I was once fully convinced by the magical thinking of things like The Secret. I believed FULLY in the “leap and the net will appear” philosophy. But then I leapt and leapt and leapt and no net appeared and I ended up pretty bruised and broken up. There is value, sure, in optimism. It feels better, for one, than bruised pessimism. But…the whole hog, full force, throwing one’s self off of cliffs? It’s not a good idea. Be careful.
And in the super cheesy pop culture version of Hamlet, this is where the music swells and we hear Kansas singing, “Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.”
And Hamlet turns up the volume on it every time Rosencrantz tries to talk so Rosencrantz has to shout over epic acoustic guitar.
It’s amazing how quickly we acclimate to technology and create new forms. I tried to post a gif in a blog post last night – and failed – but I was struck by how quickly gifs found their way into the culture. When JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, the moving photographs in that world were pure fantasy. Now…we see moving photographs all the time. In gif form. They may not be in picture frames yet but I bet that’s coming.
Anyway, I was thinking about all this because I had several gif ideas in response to this line. Instead of thinking words – I thought…Gif.
A gif of the beginning of The Monkees Theme song with “Here we come” written across the bottom.
A series of gifs of troops rising over a hill in just about every war movie (with a hill) ever made.
A gif of King Arthur galloping over a hill clomping his coconuts together in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.
A series of gifs of kids flooding into schools or out of schools – anything with hordes of kids moving from one place to another.
In the future, there will be gif artists. There probably already are.
And due to the way gifs tend to capture moments of pop culture, it’s possible that already people are writing their film or TV scenes with the future gifs in mind.
It is the era of the Gif now.