If your mind dislike anything, Obey it.

Words to live by. And I think I am getting better and better at both the recognizing of dislike and at obeying the impulse. In the past, the vast majority of my mistakes were of the “should have trusted my instincts” variety.

I trust them now. There are some occasions wherein I can’t tell if the dislike is the sort to be heeded and obeyed or the kind that needs to be grappled with in order to accomplish something I really want.

Usually, the context is something my higher self has set in motion – a show, for example or a project. And then mid-way through, parts of me start getting upset and wanting to quit and to never have to feel this way again – but those pangs are mostly fear. The dislike caused by fear is the sort that is better to be disobeyed. Obey the big picture Nos and disobey the ones triggered by fear.

But it is such a kind of Gain-giving, as would perhaps trouble a woman.

And here’s a great example for why you might want to actually listen to women. Like – if this intuition you’re having, Hamlet, would trouble a woman – you might want to, um, trust it. A woman’s trouble might have kept you alive, you knucklehead. Misogyny kills men, too. Even in fiction. If men in these plays didn’t dismiss their own instincts, their own emotional truths, their own sense of the room, as woman stuff – if they didn’t dismiss their tears as woman-ish and such, they might survive all these tragedies.

Patriarchy makes the tragedy almost every single time.

It is but foolery.

I was loosely a part of a company called “Foolery” years ago. It was a good name for a company of clowns.

It occurs to me now that aside from it being a crowd of clowns, a group of fools doing silly stuff – it might have been a reference to this line.

The founder, after all, had recently played Hamlet and said this line hundreds of times.

Nay, good my lord –

The placement of good in this sentence is tricky. One might expect to see “my good lord” instead – but no – it’s – Nay, good my lord.

And I THINK the “good” in this sentence is doing the same thing no matter where you put it but thinking about putting it before “my” has the effect of emphasizing the “good.” It maybe makes the plea even stronger.

I know a lot of actors who are not diligent about text and word order. They’re happy to just get across the idea. Which you could do if you slipped up and said “my good lord” but I think you miss the opportunity to really feel what the line is doing in that case. It’s small but interesting.

But it is no matter.

Mostly, I don’t go for the Melancholy Dane business. Hamlet doesn’t seem to suffer from depression or malaise or melancholy. Sure, he can get a little bit macabre and he does seem to be going through an existential crisis but I don’t think he’s particularly depressive. I don’t think of depression at all in the play.

Except for a line like this.

The depressive, to whom I am closest, says things like this all the time. After a big emotional blow, they will say “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.”

Partly it’s that they don’t want to talk about it but it’s also a way to brush away the pain.

Much is made of Hamlet having a sense of foreboding that foreshadows his death and that’s all right here in this scene. He’s got a bad feeling; he waves it off. Horatio suggests he honor it; he waves it off with some of the most poignant lines in the play.

It’s so rare that someone says “it doesn’t matter” when it doesn’t actually matter. It almost always matters a great deal.

But thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here About my heart:

What a day for this line to appear!

I am all twisted up with a sense of foreboding, two varieties of sudden stress – heat and a heart that is fluttering like a curtain in a hurricane.

I’m not about to face a sword fight that will lead to my death but my system is acting like it is.

All I’m doing is going into a day of rehearsal. That is all. But all these years of roller coastering emotionally whenever I do this have lead to this day featuring the same all ill feeling about my heart that I get every time I do this.

Why do I do it?

I ask myself this question every time as well.

It’s not that I forget that this happens. I know.

It’s just that I convince myself that it’s worth it. I’m not sure it is.

But whatever inspiration makes this happen feels stronger than all of it when it begins. Inspiration beats all the other things. At least so far.

*

And again, what a day for this line to appear as I got to post it into the website, two years later. It’s inauguration day as of midnight and the hope is only just barely making its way through the fear and anxiety that something, anything, will go wrong. But it must be alright. It has to be alright. Is that hope? I think so. My fingers are crossed double hard.

I shall win at the Odds.

These are the kind of odds I could win at, too – the kind where I don’t exactly win, just don’t entirely lose. Those are the kind of odds wherein I get a few choice hits in and we call that success.

If feels like that’s what aging as an artist means – figuring out what our odds are that allow us to redefine success. Once you know what the winnable odds are – then you can play THAT game.

Since he went into France, I Have been in continual practice.

The Genius note expressed some skepticism about the veracity of this claim. Certainly, we haven’t SEEN Hamlet continually at fencing practice. But that doesn’t mean he’s not getting some practice in.

I mean, he’s preparing to revenge his father’s death by killing Claudius. What other kinds of preparation for murder might there be?

And when he does get the opportunity, he hits Claudius with just one blow – so he’s got some muscle memory in this department.

If I had plans to kill someone, even if I didn’t plan to murder them with a rapier and dagger, I might find rapier and dagger practice useful – just to get me going.

I do not think so.

I feel like it’s easy to think Hamlet is being uncharacteristically optimistic here. He thinks he’s going to win this?

But – he’s not saying he’s going to win the sword fight. He’s going to win at the odds – that is, the wager that Claudius has is that he’s not going to lose entirely – that he’ll get a few hits in. Which he does. Sort of.

It is a funny wager though – I bet you’re only going to lose a LITTLE bit.

You will lose this wager, my lord.

Maybe it’s lines like this that make people feel that Horatio is close to Hamlet, After all. Who but your closest friend would tell you this kind of truth? But – if we look a little closer, we see that Horatio is speaking to Hamlet in a very formal manner. He’s calling him “you” not “thou” and calling him “my lord” – not “my friend.” Granted, Hamlet is a prince and there aren’t many who could or should risk getting informal with him. Horatio switches to the thou form once he’s dead.

Of course, he also attempts to poison himself once it becomes clear that Hamlet’s on his way out the door – so that suggests a strong bond, for sure.

Though, it may be self preservation – to be the only one left living in a total bloodbath does rather make one look a bit…guilty.

I’m not saying that’s why Horatio brings up his antique Roman tendencies but it may be out of something apart from friendship – and he could have switched to something a bit less formal here if he’d wanted to, even if he kept using you. He could have called Hamlet something more affectionate than “my lord.” Though, perhaps the formality allows truth to be spoken.