Show no emotion, hold everything back
Say ’I think we need a bit of support’ when you are under fatal attack
Go about your business as the world falls apart
Hiding the fear deep in your heart
Delight in the odd, the strange and the weird
Live beside the newcomer, even if they are feared
Chicken Tikka Marsala is our national dish,
An island nation that rarely eats fish,
Throw flowers under a princesses hearse
Life may be difficult but it could always be worse
Marry the outsider, swallow them whole
Quiet, loving and different is the English soul
Copyright © 2015 Kim Whysall-Hammond
First blogged in 2015 and it seems a bit appropriate this week. I admit that both people in the photo not actually English….but its a great photo!
Do form good habits
— Which is which? It’s up to you —
Don’t form bad habits
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— 5.4 —
In an open area near the British camp stood Posthumus Leonatus and two jailors. Posthumus felt guilty because he believed that he had caused Imogen to die.
The first jailer bound Posthumus’ hands and feet and said, “Now you are like an animal whose leg has been bound so that it can graze in a pasture but not wander off and be stolen. Since you are wearing fetters in this field, go ahead and graze if you find pasture.”
The second jailer said, “Yes, if you find edible pasture and are hungry enough to eat it.”
The jailers left, and Posthumus, now alone, said to himself, “Bondage, you are very welcome to me because, I think, you are a way for me to reach liberty. I am better off than a man who is sick with the gout since he will continue for a long time to groan in pain than be quickly cured by the sure physician, Death, who is the key that will open these fetters. My conscience, you are fettered by guilt. You are fettered more securely than my legs and wrists are. You good gods, give me penitence so that I can release the fetter that binds my mind, and then, after I am penitent, I can die and be free of guilt forever.
“Is it enough that I am sorry for causing Imogen to die? By feeling sorry, children appease their Earthly fathers; the gods are more full of mercy than are Earthly fathers.
“Must I repent? I cannot repent better than in fetters, which I desire and so they are not forced on me.
“If the main part of making amends for my sin is to give up my freedom, I can give up no more than my all — my life.
“Gods, I know that you are more merciful than are vile men, who from their broken debtors take a third of what they have, and then a sixth, and then a tenth, letting them ‘thrive’ again on their remaining means so that the creditor can take more at a later date.
“In order for me to pay for Imogen’s dear life, take mine, and although my life is not as dear as her life, yet it is a life. You created and coined it. When money passes from one man to another, they do not weigh every coin to make sure that it has the correct weight. Even though some coins may be light of weight, the men treat the coins as being worth the figure stamped on them. I am stamped in your image, and so, great powers, if you will take me although I am light of weight through having sinned, then take this life of mine, and let it pay my debt in full.
“Oh, Imogen! I’ll speak to you in silence.”
He lay on the ground and slept.
Solemn music could be heard, and Posthumus’ dead relatives and other beings began to appear. First some musicians appeared. Then Posthumus’ father, Sicilius Leonatus, appeared; he was an old man who was dressed like a warrior. Sicilius held the hand of a mature woman who was his wife and Posthumus’ mother. Next appeared Posthumus’ two brothers; the mortal wounds that they had received in battle could be seen. All of these ghosts surrounded Posthumus as he slept.
Sicilius Leonatus said, “Bestow your spite no more, Jupiter, you thunder-master, on mortal flies such as Posthumus. Instead, bestow your spite on the gods. Quarrel with Mars, the god of war, and chide Juno, your wife, who hates your adulteries and criticizes them and gets revenge on them. Has my poor boy Posthumus, whose face I never saw in the world of the living, done anything but good? I died while he was still in the womb waiting for the time he would obey nature’s law and be born. Men say that you act as the father to orphans, and therefore you are Posthumus’ non-biological father. You should have acted like his father and shielded him from the grief of this tormenting Earthy life.”
Posthumus’ mother said, “The goddess of childbirth, Lucina, did not give me her aid. Instead, she took my life when I was supposed to give birth. From my body Posthumus was ripped. He came crying into the midst of his enemies; he was a thing of pity!”
Sicilius, Posthumus’ father, said, “Great nature, like his ancestry, molded Posthumus so well that he deserved the praise of the world — he was the heir of great Sicilius.”
The first brother said, “When Posthumus became a mature man, where was the man in Britain who was his equal or who could be as promising a man in the eyes of Imogen, who best can appraise Posthumus’ worth?”
Posthumus’ mother said, “Once he married Imogen, why, Jupiter, did you mock him by allowing him to be thrown from the estate of the Leonati family and exiled from his dearest one, sweet Imogen?”
Sicilius, Posthumus’ father, said, “Why, Jupiter, did you allow Iachimo, that slight thing of Italy, to taint Posthumus’ nobler heart and brain with needless jealousy, and to become the sucker and scorn of Iachimo’s villainy?”
The second brother said, “We — Posthumus’ parents and his two brothers, who fought and died bravely for our country — came from stiller seats in the happy fields of Elysium, where the blest spirits of the dead reside. We want to maintain with honor our loyalty and the right that King Tenantius, King Cymbeline’s father, gave us. Tenantius gave our family the name Leonatus; for our family honor to be upheld, Posthumus must be treated with the respect he deserves.”
The first brother said, “We performed daring deeds in battle for King Tenantius, and Posthumus has performed daring deeds in battle for King Cymbeline. Why, then, Jupiter, you King of gods, have you postponed giving Posthumus the honors he deserves, and instead are giving him sorrows?”
Sicilius, Posthumus’ father, said, “Jupiter, open the clear crystal window of your Heavenly palace, and look out. No longer exercise upon a valiant family your harsh and potent injuries. No longer use your power to treat Posthumus so harshly.”
Posthumus’ mother said, “Since, Jupiter, our son is good, take away his miseries.”
Sicilius, Posthumus’ father, said, “Peep through your marble mansion and help, or we poor ghosts will cry to the shining assembly of the rest of the gods against your deity.”
The word “marble” referred to a kind of pattern of light and color seen in the sky — imagine the Sun shining through parts of a cloudy sky so that it is “aglow with lacing streaks,” in the words of Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furniss, editor of Othelloand other plays by Shakespeare.
Posthumus’ two brothers cried, “Help, Jupiter; or we will appeal to other gods, and flee from your justice.”
Jupiter heard the Leonati family’s prayers. Thunder sounded and lightning struck, and Jupiter, sitting on an eagle, flew down to Earth as he threw an additional thunderbolt. The ghosts of the Leonati family fell to their knees before him.
Jupiter said to them, “You petty spirits of the low region, the abode of the dead, offend me no more with your complaints. Be silent! How dare you ghosts accuse me, the thunderer, whose thunderbolt, as you know, is planted in the sky and batters all rebelling coasts?
“You poor shadows of Elysium, leave this place, and rest upon your never-withering banks of flowers. Don’t distress yourselves with mortal events. They are no concerns of yours; you know that they are my concerns.
“Those whom I love best I thwart; the more delayed I make my gift, the more it delights when it arrives. Be patient; our godhead will uplift your low-laid son. His comforts will thrive, and his trials are almost over.
“Our majestic star — Jupiter, the planet of justice — reigned at Posthumus’ birth, and in our temple he was married.
“Rise, you ghosts, and fade back to Elysium.
“Posthumus shall be the lord and husband of Lady Imogen, and his afflictions will make him much happier than if he had never endured them.”
Jupiter gave Sicilius a tablet and said, “Lay this tablet upon his breast.”
The outside of the tablet was richly decorated; inside the tablet words were written.
Jupiter continued, “On this tablet I have written Posthumus’ full future. Once you have laid this tablet on his chest, all of you spirits leave. Complain no more, lest you make me angry.
“Climb, eagle, to my crystalline palace.”
Jupiter flew away on the eagle.
Sicilius Leonatus said, “Jupiter came in thunder; his celestial breath was sulfurous to smell. The holy eagle swooped as if to clutch us with its talons. Where Jupiter ascends is sweeter than our blest fields in Elysium. Jupiter’s royal bird, the eagle, trims the feathers of its immortal wings and uses its claws to scratch its beak — this shows that Jupiter is pleased.”
All the spirits of the Leonati family prayed, “Thanks, Jupiter!”
Sicilius Leonati said, “The marble pavement of Heaven closes, Jupiter has entered his radiant home. Let’s leave! And, in order to be blest, let us carefully perform Jupiter’s great command.”
He placed the tablet on Posthumus’ chest, and then the spirits vanished.
Posthumus Leonatus woke up and said, “Sleep, you have been a grandfather and have begotten a father to me, and you have created for me a mother and two brothers. But, this is a bitter joke — they went away from here as soon as they were born, and so I am awake.
“Poor wretches who depend on the favor of great ones for their life dream as I have just done, and they wake up and find nothing. But, alas, I am wrong. Many people do not dream in order to find blessings, and they do not deserve to find blessings, and yet they receive blessings. I am in that situation. I want to die, and yet I have this golden event — this golden dream — and I do not know why.”
He felt the tablet on his chest and said, “What fairies haunt this ground? A tablet? It’s a rare and exceptional one! Don’t be, as is common in our fashion-obsessed world, a garment that is nobler than what it covers. Let the words written within your pages be as noble as what covers them, unlike our courtiers.”
He read the words of the tablet out loud:
“When a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many years, shall afterward revive, be joined to the old stock and freshly grow, then Posthumus shall end his miseries, and Britain shall be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.”
Posthumus did not understand the meaning of the words, but a soothsayer would later explain them.
He said to himself, “This is still a dream that I am having, or else it is such nonsense as madmen speak and don’t understand.
“Here are more possibilities: Either it is both of these or it is nothing; that is, either it is the speaking of a madman in a dream, or it is nothing.”
Madmen and “madmen” can speak falsely or truthfully, although what they say sounds like nonsense. The same is true of prophets and “prophets.”
He continued, “But the words on the tablet are a kind of speaking: The words on the tablet are the words of a prophecy, whether false or true. Therefore, either it is senseless speaking, or it is a speaking such as reason cannot untie — such speaking may be full of sense although I am not able to understand it.
“Whatever the words on this tablet mean, the action of my life is like them — difficult to understand, or perhaps senseless — and I’ll keep the tablet, if only because of the words’ resemblance to my life.”
The first jailer returned and said to Posthumus, “Come, sir, are you ready for death?”
“I am more than ready,” Posthumus replied. “If I were a piece of meat, I would be over-roasted; that is, I would have been ready for the dining table long ago.”
The first jailer replied, “Roasted meat is hung up so that its aging improves the flavor, sir. If you are ready to be hung, you are well cooked.”
“So, if I prove to be a good repast to the spectators, then the dish pays the shot,” Posthumus said.
The dish is food, and the shot is a reckoning — the bill. For some spectators, a hanging is a good repast — good entertainment. And before and after the entertainment, chances are excellent that spectators would go to a tavern and buy a drink, thereby giving the innkeeper a very profitable day. Posthumus’ hanging would draw in a big audience and help the innkeeper pay his bills.
The first jailor said, “That is a heavy reckoning for you, sir. But your comfort is that you shall be called to no more payments; you will fear no more tavern bills, which are often the sadness of parting, although the bills also procure mirth. You come in faint for lack of food, and then you depart reeling with too much drink. You are sorry that you have paid too much, and you are sorry that you are paid too much — drinking too much alcohol pays you back with a hangover. Your wallet and your brain are both empty. Your brain is all the heavier in the morning for being too light the previous night. Your wallet is too light because the drawing of beers resulted in drawing out of your wallet the money that had made it heavy. Death pays all bills, so by dying you won’t have to worry about these contradictions.
“Oh, the charity of a penny rope that is used in a hanging! It gives a reckoning of thousands of bills in a trice — a single pull on the gallows and in an instant. You will have no true debit or credit but death. You will be released for all liability for what is past, what is present, and what is to come. Your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counting pieces, so the exoneration of all your debts and the deliverance from all your troubles follow.”
“I am merrier to die than you are to live,” Posthumus said.
“Indeed, sir, he who sleeps does not feel the toothache, but I think a man who was going to sleep your permanent sleep would change places with the hangman who intended to help him to bed — the grave — because you see, sir, you don’t know which way you shall go when you die.”
“Yes, indeed, I do, fellow.”
“Your Death has eyes in his head then,” the first jailer said. “I have not seen the personification of Death so pictured — usually, he is depicted as a skeleton, including an empty skull. You must either be instructed by some who take upon them to know about Death, or you take upon yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or you risk the Final Judgment at your own peril, and I think you’ll never return to tell anyone in the living world how you shall speed in your journey’s end.”
“I tell you, fellow, there are none who lack eyes to direct them the way I am going, but such people close their eyes and will not use them.”
Posthumus was ready to die. He had repented his sin, and he was ready to atone for his sin by dying. Other men and women, if they wanted, could repent their sins and atone for them and so be ready to die.
The first jailer said, “What an infinite act of mockery is this, that a man should have the best use of his eyes to see the way of blindness! I am sure hanging’s a good way of closing one’s eyes.”
A messenger arrived and said to the first jailer, “Knock off his manacles; bring your prisoner to the King.”
“You bring good news,” Posthumus said. “I am called to be made free.”
By “be made free,” Posthumus meant “be hanged.”
“I’ll be hanged then,” the first jailer said.
“You shall be then freer than a jailer,” Posthumus said. “There are no fetters for the dead.”
Posthumus and the messenger exited.
Alone, the first jailer said to himself, “Unless a man would marry a gallows and beget young gibbets, I never saw a man so eager to climb onto a gallows. Yet, on my conscience, there are worse knaves than this Roman who desire to live. This man is a Roman, and Romans are stoic and are supposed to not care about death, but there are some Romans, too, who die against their wills. So should I, if I were a Roman. I wish that we were all of one mind, and that one mind good. If that should happen, then there would be a desolation of jailers and gallows! I would lose my job, so what I am saying is against my present profit, but my wish has a preferment in it — I prefer a better world with better people and a better job for me.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
At Westside High School in Houston, Texas, educator Sharon Roberts uses hip-hop dance to keep students in school. This can be difficult. She says, “Working with the boys is like trying to put puppies in a box. You get four in, then one jumps out.” Ms. Roberts’ Inertia Dance Company wins — a lot — both in dance competitions and in life. In 2004, the Inertia Dance Company won the prestigious M.A. Dance Company’s National High School Dance Championships — and no student flunked out and all of the seniors graduated. Kirk Beecher, who was 18 years old in 2004, says, “The only reason I passed classes is because of dance. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be happy — and I’d be on the street.” According to Ms. Roberts, “People see the dancing, but to me this is all life lessons. It’s about being successful when you leave.” Andres Flores, 23, who was in the first group of boys whom Roberts invited into her studio, gives this testimonial: “I grew up in Houston’s Third Ward, in the bad side of the neighborhood. People were always breaking into your house. My friends were in gangs. At Lamar High School, one of my friends was going to her dance studio, so I started going there. I started liking it. So every single day I started going to the after-school practices. Sharon’s no-pass, no-play policy motivated me to always pass. I was almost kicked out for smoking in the parking lot. But Sharon went and stood up for me and really helped me out. I’d always hung around with a bad crowd. Dancing got me away from that. Because of dance, my grades improved. Now I am actually the advanced hip-hop teacher at Lamar. That’s one of my biggest accomplishments. Dancing got me a long way in life. A long, long way.”
British dancer Sally Marie had to dance naked in Dear Body, a satire by Luca Silvestrini of people obsessed with working out to make their body beautiful. Intellectually, she had no problem with this. She said, “I’d been arguing for ages that we needed a greater variety of bodies and ages in dance. It felt like an important statement to be on stage showing my tits.” In practice, she was terrified. She explained, “When you’re in a sauna, it feels completely natural. But on stage, you’re really exposed.” Also, in practice, she was many pounds lighter when she stripped off on stage. Why? She said, “I’d been too frightened to eat.” Ms. Marie does have good advice for anyone who will be dancing naked: “Try to avoid being naked in a photocall. Otherwise you will find pictures of yourself all over the national press and the internet. And they never go away. At run-throughs, keep your T-shirt on. It’s amazing how many extra ‘techs’ show up when they think there may be some tits on show.” When London-based choreographer Arthur Pita had to dance naked in his choreography of Camp after a cast member was injured, he immediately started doing squats and press-ups for a very good reason: vanity. He explained, “I really didn’t want anything to be wobbling for the audience.”
Balletomanes sometimes think that the life of ballet dancers and choreographers is glamorous, but it often isn’t. Early in ballerina Maria Tallchief’s career, she and other lowly paid ballet dancers often played “Ghosting,” aka “That Old Army Game.” One dancer would rent a room, then two other dancers would sneak in and stay there, too. One dancer would sleep on the bed, another on the box springs, and a third on the floor. Because of wartime conditions, however, rooms were not always available, and Ms. Tallchief once saw famed choreographer Agnes de Mille sleeping on a table in a hotel hallway.
Following a performance of Scotch Symphony, in which Maria Tallchief was tossed in the air and then caught by André Eglevsky, two great ballerinas—Alicia Markova and Alexandra “Choura” Danilova—visited her and complimented her backstage. However, Ms. Danilova had a piece of advice: “But, you know, dear, when you’re thrown in the air, back must be arched, head must be up high. Must be unconcerned.” Ms. Tallchief explained, “Well, yes, Choura, I know. I’m trying to be serene, but I’m scared to death André’s not going to catch me. Four of those boys are tossing me, and he’s got to catch me all by himself.”
One must suffer to have the experience to create a credible work of art about suffering. When Gus Solomons, Jr., was a young man, he choreographed his first dance and he put a lot of pain in it. The piece used percussive music, and Mr. Solomons pounded his bare-chested body, exhausting himself in the first three minutes of the dance. When he showed the dance to Murray Louis, Mr. Louis asked, “Gus, what was all that suffering about? What do you know about suffering?”
Creative people suffer ups and downs in their work, but sometimes a creation that at first is rejected is later recognized as a classic—and, of course, sometimes a creator will rework and improve an earlier creation. Someone said to choreographer George Balanchine, “Your last two or three ballets have not been very successful. What do you have to say about that?” Mr. Balanchine replied, “Give me some time, and maybe they’ll be masterpieces.”
Classical dancer Erik Bruhn used to hire a cleaner to come and do his housekeeping, but things did not always work out as planned. For one thing, he would pile his dirty dishes in the sink, but after a while, and before the cleaner came to wash the dishes, he would wash them himself. Why? Mr. Bruhn explains, “Because I can’t stand to see dirty dishes.”
When Anton Dolin first choreographed his “Doll Ballet,” lots of people came to him, requesting something special, such as a solo for a friend. He listened to them — as he says, “like a fool” — with the result that the ballet was very bad, and he had to re-choreograph it, with no special bits, but instead with all the dancers used en masse.
All women were very popular out west during pioneer days. When the first dance was held in Nevada City, California, 300 men showed up — and 12 women.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
I WOULD have been as great as George Eliot
But for an untoward fate.
For look at the photograph of me made by Penniwit,
Chin resting on hand, and deep-set eyes—
Gray, too, and far-searching.
But there was the old, old problem:
Should it be celibacy, matrimony or unchastity?
Then John Slack, the rich druggist, wooed me,
Luring me with the promise of leisure for my novel,
And I married him, giving birth to eight children,
And had no time to write.
It was all over with me, anyway,
When I ran the needle in my hand
While washing the baby’s things,
And died from lock-jaw, an ironical death.
Hear me, ambitious souls,
Sex is the curse of life.
That which is well built
will never be torn down.
That which is well latched
can not slip away.
Those who do things well
will be honored from generation to generation.
If this idea is cultivated in the individual,
then his virtue will become genuine.
If this idea is cultivated in your family,
then virtue in your family will be great.
If this idea is cultivated in your community,
then virtue will go a long way.
If this idea is cultivated in your country,
then virtue will be in many places.
If this idea is cultivated in the world,
then virtue will be with everyone.
Then observe the person for what the person does,
and observe the family for what it does,
and observe the community for what it does,
and observe the country for what it does,
and observe the world for what it does.
How do I know this saying is true?
I observe these things and see.
Tao Te Ching
A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996
A Man had lost his way in a wood one bitter winter’s night. As he was roaming about, a Satyr came up to him, and finding that he had lost his way, promised to give him a lodging for the night, and guide him out of the forest in the morning. As he went along to the Satyr’s cell, the Man raised both his hands to his mouth and kept on blowing at them.
‘What do you do that for?’ said the Satyr.
‘My hands are numb with the cold,’ said the Man, ‘and my breath warms them.’
After this they arrived at the Satyr’s home, and soon the Satyr put a smoking dish of porridge before him. But when the Man raised his spoon to his mouth he began blowing upon it.
‘And what do you do that for?’ said the Satyr.
‘The porridge is too hot, and my breath will cool it.’
‘Out you go,’ said the Satyr. ‘I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.’