davidbrucehaiku: pathway






I blazed this pathway

Will anyone follow it

After I am gone?


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 1-2

— 5.1 —

Posthumus stood in the Roman camp in Britain, looking at a bloody cloth he held in his hand. Pisanio had sent him the bloody cloth as evidence that he had killed Imogen. Of course, Pisanio had not killed Imogen, despite Posthumus’ order to kill her.

Posthumus said, “Yes, bloody cloth, I’ll keep you, for I wished you should be colored red like this. Anyone who is married, if each of you should take this course of revenge that I have taken, then many of you will murder wives much better than yourselves simply because your wives strayed a little from the path of virtue!

“Oh, Pisanio! Every good servant does not obey all commands. There is no obligation to obey any commands except the just ones.

“Gods! If you had taken vengeance on my faults, I never would have lived to commit this wrong. You should have saved the noble Imogen so she could repent, and you should have struck me, a wretch more worth your vengeance. But, unfortunately, you snatch some from the world of the living because they committed little faults; still, that’s showing them love because you don’t allow them to sin any more. You also permit some to reinforce old sins with new sins, each later sin worse, and so eventually make the sinners dread sin, to the sinners’ spiritual benefit.

“But Imogen is your own now. Gods, do your best wills, and make me blest to obey your wills! I have been brought here among the Italian gentry, so I can fight against my lady’s — Imogen’s — Kingdom.

“It is enough, Britain, that I have killed your mistress. Peace! I’ll give no wound to you. Therefore, good Heavens, hear patiently what I intend to do. I’ll take off these Italian clothes and put on the clothing of a British peasant, and dressed like that I’ll fight against the army I came here with. In that way, I’ll die for you, Imogen, for whom my life is every breath a death. Thus, unknown, neither pitied nor hated, I will dedicate myself to face danger. Let me make men know that more valor and courage are in me than my peasant clothing shows.

“Gods, put the strength of the Leonati family in me! To shame the usual practice of the world, I will begin the fashion of showing less on the outside and more on the inside. Internal valor and courage are better than fashionable clothing.”

Leonatiis the plural of Leonatus.

— 5.2 —

The battle began, with the forces of Caius Lucius and Iachimo making up the Roman army, which fought the British. Fighting on the side of the British was Posthumus Leonatus, who was dressed in the clothing of a peasant. At one point in the battle, Posthumus fought and defeated Iachimo, who did not recognize him. Posthumus did not kill Iachimo, but simply disarmed him and left him alive.

Iachimo said to himself, “The heaviness and guilt within my bosom are taking away my manhood. I have told lies about a lady, Imogen, the Princess of Britain, and the air of Britain gets revenge by making me feeble and weak. Otherwise, this churl, this natural-born peasant, this drudge of nature, would never have defeated me — fighting is my profession! Knighthoods and honors, borne as I wear mine, are titles only of scorn. Britain, if your gentry is that much better than this lout as he is better than our Italian lords, the odds are that we Italians are scarcely men and you Britons are gods.”

The battle continued, and the Romans began to win. The British, routed, fled. King Cymbeline was captured, but Belarius (Morgan), Guiderius (Polydore), and Arviragus (Cadwal) arrived and began to fight to free him.

Belarius (Morgan) shouted to the retreating British soldiers, “Stand your ground! Stand your ground! We have the advantage of the ground. The lane is guarded. Nothing can rout us except our villainous fears!”

Guiderius (Polydore) and Arviragus (Cadwal) shouted, “Stand, stand, and fight!”

Posthumus Leonatus showed up and joined Belarius (Morgan), Guiderius (Polydore), and Arviragus (Cadwal). Together, they rescued King Cymbeline and took him to safety.

In another part of the battlefield, Caius Lucius stood with Iachimo and Imogen (Fidele).

Caius Lucius said to Imogen (Fidele), “Get away, boy, from the troops, and save yourself. In the confusion, friends are killing friends, and the disorder is such that it is as if soldiers were fighting while wearing blindfolds.”

Iachimo said, “The British are benefitting from fresh reinforcements.”

Caius Lucius said, “It is a day whose fortunes have turned strangely. We were winning, but now we are losing. It is time either to regroup or to flee.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Critics Anecdotes

Shawn Edwards, a movie reviewer for Fox-TV in Kansas City, loved movies from an early age. When he was in the seventh grade, he and some friends used a room at their school as a movie studio. Mr. Edwards calls the studio “the claymation joint,” and he remembers, “We convinced the science teacher we were working on a science project, built these sets out of papier-mâché and started shooting our epic. It was about a group of cavemen who hunt for a dinosaur for a big celebration and [to] please the volcano before it gets mad.” When Mr. Edwards was attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, Spike Lee filmed School Daze there. Mr. Edwards had broken his ankle during football practice, but he showed up at an audition for small parts and extras. He remembers that the people casting the movie looked at him as if they were thinking, “Baby, there’s not a part in this movie where you can be walking around with a cast.” But Mr. Edwards said, “I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I can’t act. And I’m not that funny. I just want to be in the movie.” He got lucky and appeared in a scene in which “Da Butt” was played. Mr. Edwards says, “I totally hate that song now because that’s all I heard all spring. It took three freaking days to shoot” that scene.

A bad review can give birth to a good joke. David Woods and Jon Haynes make up the anarchic theatrical group known as Ridiculusmus, although it used to have more members. In 1993, critic John O’Mahony was very impressed with Mr. Woods, and he wrote about him, “He transforms every bit-part into a central character, while showing up the paucity of talent in the rest of the group.” For years after the review appeared, whenever Mr. O’Mahony saw the group, Mr. Woods would be genial—but nervous—and the other members of the group would glower at Mr. O’Mahony and hiss at him. By the way, that the group now consists of just two people has nothing to do with Mr. O’Mahony’s review. The two remaining members do work well together. Mr. Woods says, “I think we complement each other.” Mr. Haynes adds, “Some like his exuberance. Others prefer my intensity. And a lot don’t like either of us.” At the very beginning of their careers, they had a comedy venue called the Tomato Club. They invited bad comedians to perform, and they gave audience members overripe tomatoes to throw at the bad comedians. With good reason, Mr. Haynes is concerned about critical notices, “Critical success would upset our equilibrium. Who can we bribe at the [British newspaper] Guardian to give us a one-star review?”

After William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote a memoir titled Overdrive, University of Chicago student David Brooks satirized him for the college newspaper. Because Mr. Buckley was widely important and knew everybody and had an ego, Mr. Brooks wrote that Mr. Buckley had written three volumes of memoirs before he had begun to talk: 1) The World Before Buckley “traced the history of the world prior to his conception,” 2) The Seeds of Utopia “outlined his effect on world events during the nine months of his gestation,” and 3) The Glorious Dawn “described the profound ramifications of his birth on the social order.” And so the satire continued, including Mr. Buckley becoming popular at school because he could turn water into wine. Soon afterward, Mr. Buckley gave a lecture at the University of Chicago, and at the end of the lecture he said, “David Brooks, if you’re in the audience, I’d like to offer you a job.” This was, of course, Mr. Brooks’ big break, and he ended up working at Mr. Buckley’s conservative magazine The National Review, where he learned much about writing from Mr. Buckley, who would often cover Mr. Brooks’ short editorials with red ink, and who would occasionally write on an egregiously bad piece of writing, “Come on, David!”

Marjane Satrapi, the author of the graphic memoir Persepolis, which became an Oscar-nominated animated film, has sold over a million copies of that book, but even she had to deal with rejection. Early in her career, before creating Persepolis, she showed a graphic manuscript to a French publishing company’s art director who rejected it because “you don’t have any style—it goes in all different directions.” Ms. Satrapi says, “I came home depressed and cried for a whole week.” But a couple of years after the successful Persepolis was published and had won awards, she was invited to show this same art director a manuscript, so she showed him the same manuscript that he had earlier rejected. This time he said, “What courage! You have tried all these different styles!” Ms. Satrapi explains what happened: “I said that’s not what you told me three years ago. And he said, ‘Did I see you three years ago?’ And I said, ‘You don’t have a very good memory, but I do.’ We ended up working together. I’m not a revenger kind of person.”

As you would expect, critic Roger Ebert is a rich source of anecdotes in his writings about movies. For example, his review of What Ever Ever Happened to Baby Jane?contains two excellent anecdotes: 1) In Bette Davis’ next-to-last film, The Whales of August, Ms. Davis co-starred with silent-film (and beyond) star Lillian Gish. At one point, the film’s director, Lindsay Anderson, said, “Miss Gish, you have just given me a perfect close-up.” Ms. Davis overheard, and she said, “She should. The bitch invented ’em.” 2) Victor Buono never married, and people occasionally wondered about his sexuality. Mr. Buono, a man of wit and intelligence and excess poundage, said, “I’ve heard about actors being asked ‘Why have you never married?’ They answer with the immortal excuse ‘I just haven’t found the right girl.’ No one’s asked me yet. If they do, that’s the answer I’ll give. After all, it was good enough for Monty Clift or Sal Mineo.” (Both Mr. Clift and Mr. Mineo were gay actors.)

Winston Churchill once criticized New York by saying, “Newspapers too thick; lavatory paper too thin.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Edgar Lee Masters: Nicholas Bindle (Spoon River Anthology)

Were you not ashamed, fellow citizens,
When my estate was probated and everyone knew
How small a fortune I left?—
You who hounded me in life,
To give, give, give to the churches, to the poor,
To the village!—me who had already given much.
And think you not I did not know
That the pipe-organ, which I gave to the church,
Played its christening songs when Deacon Rhodes,
Who broke and all but ruined me,
Worshipped for the first time after his acquittal?


Lao-Tzu #52: Keep your mouth closed and embrace a simple life, and you will live care-free until the end of your days.



The world had a beginning

which we call the Great Mother.

Once we have found the Mother,

we begin to know what Her children should be.


When we know we are the Mother’s child,

we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.

She will protect us from all danger

even if we lose our life.


Keep your mouth closed

and embrace a simple life,

and you will live care-free until the end of your days.

If you try to talk your way into a better life

there will be no end to your trouble.


To understand the small is called clarity.

Knowing how to yield is called strength.

To use your inner light for understanding

regardless of the danger

is called depending on the Constant.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Aesop: Avaricious and Envious

Two neighbours came before Jupiter and prayed him to grant their hearts’ desire. Now the one was full of avarice, and the other eaten up with envy. So to punish them both, Jupiter granted that each might have whatever he wished for himself, but only on condition that his neighbour had twice as much. The Avaricious man prayed to have a room full of gold. No sooner said than done; but all his joy was turned to grief when he found that his neighbour had two rooms full of the precious metal. Then came the turn of the Envious man, who could not bear to think that his neighbour had any joy at all. So he prayed that he might have one of his own eyes put out, by which means his companion would become totally blind.


Vices are their own punishment.


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