NAP (After Kikaku)
I’m under attack!
It’s just a dream, or is it?
A mosquito bite
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— 1.4 —
On the platform where the guards performed their duty, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus stood.
“The air bites sharply,” Hamlet said. “It is very cold.”
“It is a nipping and sharp air,” Horatio agreed.
“What time is it now?” Hamlet asked.
“I think that it is not yet midnight,” Horatio replied.
“No, the bell struck twelve,” Marcellus said.
“Really?” Horatio said. “I did not hear it. It is drawing near the time that the ghost is accustomed to walk.”
Trumpets sounded, and cannons fired.
“What does this noise mean, my lord?” Horatio asked Hamlet.
“King Claudius stays awake tonight in order to carouse. He drinks many toasts, and he dances swaggering dances. As he drains his draughts of Rhine wine, the kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out the triumph of his pledge. The kettledrum and trumpet are signals to fire the cannon.”
“Is this a Danish custom?” Horatio asked.
“Yes, indeed it is,” Hamlet said, “but in my opinion, although I am a native of Denmark and to the manner born, it is a custom that would be more honorable in being breached than in being observed. This heavy-headed reveling with its drunken practitioners makes other nations both in the East and in the West criticize and censure us. They call us drunkards, and they stain our names and titles by calling us swine. These drunken revels take away from our achievements, even those that are worthiest of the greatest praise. They cause us to lose the best and most valuable part of our national character.
“It often happens in particular men that they have some vicious defect of nature. This defect may, for example, be present from their birth because of their heredity — wherein they are not guilty, since no one can choose his origin. They are born with an unbalanced personality that often breaks down the fences and forts of reason. Or they may develop a personality flaw or a bad habit that excessively influences and perverts what would be their decent behavior.
“As I say, these certain men are contaminated by one flaw of the personality, whether it comes from nature or from nurture or from the workings of fate. Although in everything else they are completely virtuous and completely pure in grace — as complete as it is possible for a living man to be — yet the general opinion of everybody focuses on that one fault. A very small amount of evil can throw a shadow over all his many good qualities and hurt his reputation.”
Horatio said suddenly, “Look, my lord! Here comes the ghost!”
The ghost approached the men.
“May angels and ministers of grace defend us!” Hamlet said.
He said to the ghost, “You may be a spirit of health, an angel — or a damned goblin, a demon. You may bring with you airs from Heaven or blasts from Hell. Your intentions may be wicked or they may be charitable. But you have come here in such a shape as invites questioning, and so I shall speak to you. Because of the shape you have assumed, I will call you names that I hope will inspire you to speak to me. I will call you Hamlet, King, father, royal Dane. Oh, answer me! Let me not burst in ignorance; instead, tell me why your canonized bones — your bones that have been properly buried in a Christian graveyard and coffined in your death — have burst their funeral shroud. Tell me why the sepulcher, in which we saw you quietly buried, has opened its ponderous and marble jaws, and vomited you into the world of the living again. What is the meaning of this? Why are you, dead corpse, who is dressed again in a full suit of steel armor, revisiting the fitful gleams of flickering moonlight and making the night hideous? Why do you make we fools of nature so horridly tremble as we think about things that lie beyond the reaches of our souls? Why are you walking in the night? Why? What do you want us to do?”
The ghost motioned to Hamlet to follow him.
Horatio said, “It is beckoning you to follow and go away with it as if it had something important to tell you and you alone.”
“Look,” Marcellus said. “With a courteous motion, it waves at you to go to a more private place away from here. But do not go with it.”
“No, by no means,” Horatio said.
They were afraid for Hamlet. An evil spirit could tempt him to commit suicide.
“It will not speak to me here,” Hamlet said, “and so I will follow it.”
“Do not, my lord,” Horatio said.
“Why, what should I be afraid of?” Hamlet asked. “I do not value my life as much as I do a pin. As for my soul, what can the ghost do to that — my soul is as immortal as the ghost is. It is again motioning to me to go with it. I will follow it.”
“What if it tempts you toward the sea, my lord,” Horatio asked, “or to the dreadful summit of the cliff that juts out over the sea? Suppose that it then assumes some other horrible form that might deprive you of your reason and make you insane? Think about this. Such a scene — you looking down many fathoms to the sea and hearing it roar — puts thoughts of desperation into every brain that sees and hears it.”
“The ghost is still waving at me to follow it,” Hamlet said.
He said to the ghost, “Lead on. I will follow you.”
“You shall not go, my lord,” Marcellus said.
Marcellus and Horatio physically restrained Hamlet, who told them, “Take away your hands.”
“Listen to us,” Horatio said. “You shall not follow the ghost.”
“My fate cries out,” Hamlet replied, “My destiny is calling to me. Every petty artery in my body is now as hardy as the Nemean lion’s sinews. The Nemean lion was invulnerable, and so Hercules was unable to pierce its skin. He had to kill the lion by strangling it. The ghost still motions for me to come with it. Get your hands off me, gentlemen, or by Heaven, I’ll make a ghost of whoever hinders me! I say, stay away from me!”
Marcellus and Horatio let go of Hamlet, who said to the ghost, “Go on; I’ll follow you.”
Hamlet and the ghost departed.
Horatio said, “Hamlet grows desperate and reckless with imagination and delusions.”
“Let’s follow him,” Marcellus said. “We ought not to obey his orders to stay away from him. Obeying those orders would not be right.”
“Yes, let’s follow him,” Horatio said. “What will be the result of this?”
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” Marcellus said.
“Heaven will take care of it,” Horatio replied.
“Let’s follow him,” Marcellus said.
They went in the direction that Hamlet and the ghost had taken.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
I BELONGED to the church,
And to the party of prohibition;
And the villagers thought I died of eating watermelon.
In truth I had cirrhosis of the liver,
For every noon for thirty years,
I slipped behind the prescription partition
In Trainor’s drug store
And poured a generous drink
From the bottle marked “Spiritus frumenti.”
Spiritus frumenti: the life of grain, aka whiskey.
If I am the only one standing in line am I standing in line?
If I am the only one standing in line am I standing in line?
There is nothing better than moderation
for teaching people or serving Heaven.
Those who use moderation
are already on the path to the Tao.
Those who follow the Tao early
will have an abundance of virtue.
When there is an abundance of virtue,
there is nothing that can not be done.
Where there is limitless ability,
then the kingdom is within your grasp.
When you know the Mother of the kingdom,
then you will be long enduring.
This is spoken of as the deep root and the firm trunk,
the Way to a long life and great spiritual vision.
Tao Te Ching
A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996
A Waggoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. ‘O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress,’ quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said:
‘Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.’
The gods help them that help themselves.
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