davidbrucehaiku: NO ENLIGHTENMENT (After Matsuo Bashō)





(After Matsuo Bashō)


Lightning bolt flashes

Enlightenment? Not ready

Welcome dark returns


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 3, Scene 1

— 3.1 —

In a hall of King Cymbeline’s palace, Cymbeline, the Queen, Cloten, and some lords were meeting with Caius Lucius, who was one of Caesar Augustus’ generals and ambassadors. Many of Caius Lucius’ attendants and Cymbeline’s attendants were also present. Cymbeline and Caius Lucius liked each other, but it was possible that they would soon be on opposite sides in a war between Britain and Rome.

King Cymbeline said, “Now tell us, what does Augustus Caesar want with us?”

Caius Lucius replied, “When Julius Caesar, the memory of whom still lives in men’s minds and who will forever be spoken about, was in this Britain and conquered it, King Cassibelan, your great-uncle — who was famous because of Caesar’s praises, and whose feats entirely deserved both the praise and the fame — granted Rome a tribute both from him and from his successors, three thousand pounds annually, which by you lately has not been paid.”

The Queen said, “And, to stop the astonishment that this action causes, let me say that the tribute shall be paid no longer.”

Cloten said, “There will be many Caesars before there is another Caesar like Julius. Britain is a world by itself; and we will pay nothing for wearing our own noses.”

He was mocking the Roman nose, which often had a prominent bridge.

The Queen said to Caius Lucius, “In Julius Caesar’s day, the Romans had the opportunity to make the Britons pay tribute. Now the Britons have the opportunity to stop paying tribute.”

She said to her husband, the King, “Sir, my liege, remember the Kings your ancestors, together with the natural threatening appearance of your isle, which stands like the park of Neptune, god of the sea, enclosed as if within ribs and fenced in with unscalable rocks and roaring waters, and with quicksands that will not bear your enemies’ boats, but will suck them down all the way to the topmast. A kind of conquest Julius Caesar made here, but he did not here make his brag of ‘I came’ and ‘I saw’ and ‘I conquered.’ Instead, with shame — it was the first time that shame ever touched him — he was carried from off our coast, twice beaten; and his ships — poor inexperienced toys! — upon our terrible seas moved upon their waves like eggshells and cracked as easily as eggshells against our rocks. This brought much joy to the famed Cassibelan, who was once at the point — oh, Lady Fortune, you harlot! — of mastering Julius Caesar’s sword. To celebrate, Cassibelan made Lud’s town bright with rejoicing fires, and Britons strutted with courage.”

Lud’s town would in a later age be known as London.

Cloten said, “Come, we will pay no more tribute. Our Kingdom is stronger than it was at that time; and, as I said, there are no more such Caesars as Julius Caesar. Other Caesars may have crooked noses, but none own such straight, strong arms as did Julius.”

“Stepson, let your mother finish speaking,” Cymbeline said to Cloten.

Cloten continued, “We have yet many among us who can grip a sword as hard as Cassibelan. I do not say I am one of them, but I have a hand. Why tribute? Why should we pay tribute? If Caesar Augustus can hide the Sun from us with a blanket, or put the Moon in his pocket, we will pay him tribute in return for light; otherwise, sir, we will pay no more tribute, if you please.”

King Cymbeline said, “You must know, Caius Lucius, that until the injurious and insulting Romans extorted this tribute from us, we were free. Caesar’s ambition, which swelled so much that it almost stretched the sides of the world, against all reason here put the yoke upon us; to shake off that yoke is fitting for a warlike people, whom we reckon ourselves to be.”

Cloten and the other lords present said, “We do.”

Cymbeline said to Caius Lucius, “Say, then, to Caesar Augustus, that our ancestor was that Mulmutius who established our laws, whose use the sword of Caesar has too much mangled, and whose restoration and free exercise shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed, although Rome thereby be made angry. Mulmutius made our laws, and he was the first man of Britain who put his brows within a golden crown and called himself King.”

Caius Lucius replied, “I am sorry, Cymbeline, that I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar — who has more Kings acting as his servants than you yourself have domestic servants — your enemy. Receive this sentence from me, then. In Caesar’s name I pronounce war and destruction against you. Expect Roman fury that cannot be resisted. Having thus delivered this sentence from Caesar Augustus, I now personally thank you for what you have done for me.”

“You are welcome, Caius,” Cymbeline said. “Your Caesar knighted me. I spent much of my youth serving under him. From him I gathered honor. Since he seeks to take that honor from me, I will resist him, of necessity, to the utmost. I am perfectly aware that the Pannonians in Hungary and the Dalmatians on the Adriatic Sea are now up in arms and fighting for their liberties; this is a precedent that would show the Britons to be cold and apathetic if they did not follow it. Caesar Augustus shall not find us cold and apathetic.”

Caius Lucius said, “Let the outcome of the war do the speaking.”

“His majesty bids you welcome,” Cloten said. “Stay with us and enjoy yourself a day or two, or longer. If you seek us afterwards on other terms, you shall find us within the salt water that girdles our island. If you beat us out of our island, it is yours; if you fall in the venture, our crows shall fare the better because of feasting on you; and that’s all that needs to be said.”

“So be it, sir,” Caius Lucius replied.

King Cymbeline said, “I know your master’s message, and through you he will know mine. Our official business is over. All that remains to be done now is for me to say to you, personally, ‘Welcome!’”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Books Anecdotes

When Stephenie Meyer was searching for a location in which to set Twilight, a novel about a teenaged girl named Bella Swan who falls in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen who has been 17 years old for over a century, she researched the rainiest spot in the United States and discovered the Olympic Peninsula, and a little place called Forks, in the state of Washington. This became the setting for her novel, the first in a very popular series of novels, and a place that many tourists go to. The residents of Forks mainly enjoy the attention. When Forks Chamber of Commerce Director Marcia Bingham asked a couple of educators, David and Kim McIrvin, to allow their home to be designated as the Swans’ home, they agreed. (Bella’s home has two stories, and the McIrvins’ home is the only house with two stories on their block.) A sign that says, “Home of the Swans,” is out front. Carlisle Cullen is the fictional vampire who brought the family of vampires together. He is a doctor, and if you go to the Forks hospital, a parking spot has a sign that says, “Dr. Cullen: Reserved Parking Only.”

David Jenkins has twice been used as a character in a book, including a character who is balding, portly, and American in The Paradise Trail by his friend Duncan Campbell, although Mr. Jenkins had a full head of flowing locks, a flat stomach, and a Welsh heritage—a heritage he still has. Therefore, Mr. Jenkins asks, “But however grand a role you play in however important a book, does it encapsulate the real person?” For example, Hubert Duggan is a real person who appears (under names other than his own) in two important novels: A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. In A Dance to the Music of Time, he is “dashing but doomed.” And Mr. Waugh helped Mr. Duggan return to the Catholic faith when Mr. Duggan was on his deathbed, a scene that appears in Brideshead Revisited. It seems that Mr. Duggan must be inspiring, as he inspired two novelists to write about him. So what was he like in real life? The late 6th Marquess of Bath, who knew Mr. Duggan well, says, “He was the most boring man I met in my entire life.”

Brian Garfield is the author of Death Wish, a novel about a man who becomes a vigilante after hoodlums rape his daughter and murder his wife. It became a very popular film starring Charles Bronson, who also starred in four sequels. Mr. Garfield got the idea for the novel after discovering that someone had used a knife to slash the canvas top of his convertible. The night was cold, he had a two- or three-hour drive home, and as he drove, he was thinking, “I’ll kill the son of a b*tch.” Mr. Garfield says, “Of course by the time I got home and thawed out, I realized the vandal must have had a strong sharp knife (convertible-top canvas is a very tough fabric to cut) and in reality I didn’t want to be anywhere near him. But then came the thought: What if a person had that kind of experience and got mad and never came out of it?” Writing the novel came easy to him—it took two weeks. Mr. Garfield jokes, “Several alleged friends asked, ‘What took so long?’”

In 2007, Fantagraphics published an 878-page book titled Laura Warholic: or The Sexual Intellectual, which is the first novel written by Alexander Theroux in 20 years. Of course, Fantagraphics usually publishes comic books and graphic novels, not envelope-pushing novels, but Mr. Theroux had published two monographs with Fantagraphics: “The Enigma of Al Capp” and “The Strange Case of Edward Gorey.” Because Fantagraphics was the only publisher willing to publish such a long novel without excessive editorial meddling, Mr. Theroux was happy to have Fantagraphics as the novel’s publisher. However, he does acknowledge that his pay for writing the novel is not much. According to Mr. Theroux, “For this novel I earned less than a Burger King tweenie in a paper hat. But nowhere should you compromise. You have to find plenitude in your work and redemption in your dreams.”

In 2008, Paul Constant, book critic for the Seattle newspaper The Stranger, attended BookExpo America (BEA), the annual book-industry convention. One thing he noticed was what he called “unscrupulous booksellers” who grabbed as many free advance reader’s copies as possible so that they could later sell them online—illegally. Of course, the publishers are aware that unscrupulous booksellers do this, and so they have a rule against bringing rolling luggage carts to the convention because the carts can be filled with many, many free advance reader’s copies. However, Mr. Constant writes that “some demented booksellers find ways around that: One woman wheels into the hall in a wheelchair and then stands up and wheels the empty chair around to stack books in the seat like a wheelbarrow.”

Mem Fox, the Australian young people’s author of Possum Magic, grew up in Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) in Africa, along with her sisters, who were born after her. One sister, Jan, was always tired, and their mother worried that she was suffering from an African disease named bilharzias, a main symptom of which was drowsiness. (Her mother even got Jan a doctor.) However, the real reason that Jan was always tired was that she stayed up late at night reading books under her bed covers. (When Jan was 13 years old, her family visited their native Australia. Jan read War and Peace during the long plane trip from Africa to Australia—something that enraged Mem, who knew that Jan was clever but thought that she was being a showoff about it. )

As a kid, Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight understood the value of reading. In his hometown of Orrville, Ohio, the library posted a list of the 10 kids in town who had read the most books that week. Each week, young Bobby’s name was on that list — along with the names of nine girls.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Edgar Lee Masters: Flossie Cabanis (Spoon River Anthology)

FROM Bindle’s opera house in the village
To Broadway is a great step.
But I tried to take it, my ambition fired
When sixteen years of age,
Seeing “East Lynne,” played here in the village
By Ralph Barrett, the coming
Romantic actor, who enthralled my soul.
True, I trailed back home, a broken failure,
When Ralph disappeared in New York,
Leaving me alone in the city—
But life broke him also.
In all this place of silence
There are no kindred spirits.
How I wish Duse could stand amid the pathos
Of these quiet fields
And read these words.


Note: “Eleonora Duse was an Italian actress, often known simply as Duse. She is regarded as one of the greatest actresses of all time, noted for her total assumption of the roles she portrayed.” — Wikipedia


Lao-Tzu #43: Few in the world can … understand the value of non-action.



That which offers no resistance,

overcomes the hardest substances.

That which offers no resistance

can enter where there is no space.


Few in the world can comprehend

the teaching without words,

or understand the value of non-action.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996



Aesop: The Man and His Two Wives

In the old days, when men were allowed to have many wives, a middle-aged Man had one wife that was old and one that was young; each loved him very much, and desired to see him like herself. Now the Man’s hair was turning grey, which the young Wife did not like, as it made him look too old for her husband. So every night she used to comb his hair and pick out the white ones. But the elder Wife saw her husband growing grey with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken for his mother. So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pick out as many of the black ones as she could. The consequence was the Man soon found himself entirely bald.

Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.


Joe Bob Briggs: “Satire is a Machine Gun on a Swivel”

Briggs Satire


Joe Bob Briggs: The Gloom and Doom Generation(Taki’s Magazine)

When I was a young man, and the editor, or the producer, or the executive, would tell me that he was about to censor me, the reason was always, “Your material offends the older people.” Now that I’m one of the older people, when the editor, or the producer, or the executive, tells me he’s about to censor me, the reason is always, “Your material offends the younger people.”