Where does this shift come from? What makes him shift tactics? He’s all fire and brimstone – and then suddenly he’s like – “I’m gonna ask you for a blessing.” And then afterward he finally acknowledges the shittiness of having murdered Polonius. Does this shift happen in the middle of the line? Is it something Gertrude does? How does he get suddenly a little bit contrite?
Where is the turn?
And what is the trigger?
Hilarious. Hamlet pulls the same shit with his mom that he did with his girlfriend – the “Goodbye! I’m leaving!” move…and then not leaving and then saying goodbye again. Is this what Hamlet does with women? Leave over and over again? It would seem that it is so. But – given that there are only two women in this play. The sample size is pretty small.
I am captivated by the Habit’s powers. It is extraordinary how easily we form habits and what it takes to change them. I loved The Power of Habit and Switch and Made to Stick and all the books that explore our patterning and how to shift our ways. It connects right up to my work in the Feldenkrais Method as well – how we form habits of the body and how we learn to shift them.
There are incredibly potent tools we can use to make a shift – one of them is to USE the impulse to create a habit to replace the pattern we want to change. We want some habits. If we didn’t have habits, we’d spend every minute of our lives trying to decide how to walk or talk or make a sandwich. Putting that decision making in the background is one of the wonderful things our nervous system does for us. It frees us up to tackle new problems by chunking our current patterns into generalized, forgettable, automatic responses. If we can use that tendency, we’re more liable to make a change. We can tie a new thing to an old thing, for example. To remember to perform one new regular task, tack it on to one you already do. So – if you regularly put your shoes on when you leave the house, you can add something to that ritual that you want to make sure you do every day.
Emotion is another incredibly important tool. One that the Heath brothers discussed as harnessing an elephant for your own purposes. If you let the elephant run loose, you will have to follow it wherever it goes. But if you let the elephant lead you or gently guide the elephant, you have a very powerful motivation beneath you.
All things so potent. So rich.
Habits aren’t the devil (in most cases) but it does feel good to master them or throw them out when they cease to serve you.
This is one of the ways that addiction gets talked about – that if you just resist once, then it will start to get easier to resist as time goes by. From what I understand though – from Radiolab and Nurse Jackie and the WTF podcast and others talking about addiction in pop culture – it doesn’t work this way at all. If you refrain from something you’re addicted to – it might not get easier for a long long time.
Not that Gertrude is addicted to sex with Claudius (or is she?) …but whether this is advice for addiction or refraining from sex…it’s not really useful. Better to go with one day at a time. Skip it tonight. Then skip it tomorrow. Even if it doesn’t get easier.
Custom hides under the bed at night, or sometimes in the closet. He comes out at night to find some sense to eat – and (bonus!) to scare small children. He’s a fairly predictable monster. A little bit boring, truth be told. But a monster, all the same. He’s got the devil horns, which is pretty standard, but occasionally terrifying in the right light. He’s got a suit that covers up the bulk of his monster body. He’s a sharp dresser, Custom. He can help you get used to anything. Even his own devilish face.
This is a thing that villains do in the plays all the time. Richard the Third puts on a show of piety. Iago pretends concern and care. Angelo puts on a face of purity. Hamlet, in talking like this to his mother, is sounding a wee bit villainous. He’s not at his best in this scene is Hamlet. At least for a modern reader, watcher, engager.
But he does say Assume a virtue… which any note will tell you means Pretend, Fake – but with a modern reading, it could be a little less villainous sounding – a kind of assumed virtue, presumed virtuous until proven otherwise. Or putting on virtue, like a coat, like another identity. Like a uniform. Like – put on the nun’s habit even if you don’t feel like a nun.
Still though…villain talk.
The thing that we don’t really talk about here is that Gertrude and Claudius apparently do not share a bed. They may be honeying and making love – but it’s not in a bed they share. It requires a kind of deliberateness, it would seem. It says – “Hi honey, I’m coming over to visit you in your bed tonight. You wanna come over to mine later?”
I mean…I imagine it might be good for sleep. A king’s sleep being important for the governing of the country. But what if he sleeps better with his wife by his side? I guess then, he has to ask her to come to his bed all the time.
There’s a bit of probing to do on the bed issue. For Shakespeare as well. So much of the craziness around what people imagine is his relationship with his wife stems from him leaving her the second best bed. Scholarship I’ve read indicates that this may actually be a loving gesture – assuring her a place in the house forever – or assuming the 2nd best bed is actually the marriage bed. But it makes me wonder – did Shakespeare and his wife share a bed or visit one another’s beds? Were the sleeping arrangements of the king public? We assume Queen Elizabeth slept alone (and what about King James?) And were the sleeping arrangements of the royalty of other states public?
I know that French Royalty had rather public sexuality. What about the Dane’s? Other royal courts? And how do the sleeping arrangements shift as you travel down the great chain of being? Does one have separate beds the more privileged one is? Certainly the poorer people couldn’t afford more than one bed, if they could afford one at all.
I could spend days in the historical rabbit holes of little things like this.
My neighbors had a dog called Good Night.
He wasn’t Good Night in this sense, though.
He was Good Night with the sense of Good Grief.
In this sense the stress is usually on the Night part.
With Good Night, the dog, sometimes it was on the “Good” – sometimes on both. If you said it like Good Grief, you get pretty equally weighted long sounds on each syllable.
Good Night was a sweet country dog.
Black coat, I think it was. Sweet but mischievous disposition.
He ranged the dirt roads and fields of Wheeler’s Cove – fierce and playful companion for the two boys of the family.
I was mostly afraid of dogs at that point in my life but I somehow have some affection for Good Night in my memory. He must have had a lot going for him to be remembered so.
My Granddad’s dogs do not fare so well in my memory – nor do any of my own.
Well that would be nice and neat, wouldn’t it? If the dark things in our hearts just hung out in half of it – two clear ventricles of bad stuff. And then, yeah, you could have a heart excision and find yourself all clean and clear of all the things that troubled you before.
But the heart doesn’t work that way – it is more a train station than a depository. The bad stuff cycles through, as well as the good – along with the blood. It pumps stuff in and pumps it back out. And yet somehow we think of it as having personalities and qualities. The hardness of the heart or the cruelty or the weakness or the soft, etc. I wonder what the actual hearts of the actual people whose hearts have been discussed this way actually look like. Is there some power in the metaphor that is actually there? There’s usually some little seedlet that relates to the truth.
My new favorite websites are Shakespeare’s Words and Etymology On-line. “Pursy” did not appear in Etymology On-line, though Google provided some etymology, just on its own.
I started with Shakespeare’s Words and it said pursy is fat, pulled up – and other things in this territory. This word only appears twice in all of the cannon – Here and in Timon of Athens. That made me suspicious – is this a too self-referential definition of a word? I mean if it basically means “fat,” then Shakespeare is being redundant here “-in the fatness of these fat times?” I don’t know. I want pursy to relate to PURSES – to convey some sense of fat money purses hanging from everyone – everyone controlled by their purses. The fatness of those kinds of times would be interesting to me. There’s something about the meaning of the sentence, too, that conveys a sense of corruption that pursy, the way I want it to be, would fit right into likewise for Timon of Athens, actually.
It also has a modern feeling. In these pursy times – when high end purses are a major market element. Or maybe all times are pursy.
I mean this word is not often used. It has a level of obscurity that would allow it some re-interpretation. There are plenty of words for fat…I want a word like what I think pursy should mean.