Friday, October 12, 2012

Channeling Shakespeare? Poesy from a groundling!

Presumptuous, as always, I accepted an irresistible invitation from the Shakespeare Society to participate in their annual "Celebrity Sonnet Reading" at San Diego's Olde Globe Theatre -- a fun tribute to the Bard, with no one there to claim that Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare!

Some youth troupes performed dance interpretations of sonnets and choral extrapolations.  Comic writer-actor Mike Nelson (from Mystery Science Theater 3000) regaled us with the visual stunts he'd love to see performed behind him while doing his reading... if only the (nonexistent) special effects budget allowed for sequences directed by Michael Bay..

...and then there was the local sci fi guy.  My sole embellishments were to actually wear all-black and a tie... then to place an old globe atop a stool next to me. And thereupon to recite an introductory sonnet of my own, written as a tribute to the Bard of Stratford.

Slim in brain, heart or inspiration, it honors Shakespeare's poetry by offering stark contrast! The hilariously inadequate efforts of a groundling, a Bottom with the mien of an ass, braying just before a banquet of sublimity.

==  First: A Poor-Pathetic Prelude ==

Oh muse, pervade this arched and noble hall,

Where life, though short, partakes in art so long;

Where sinners, reprobates and octions all,

Gather here to share pretentious song.

Look thou with favor on our eager works,

We who - ecstatic - recite poesy past;

For though we borrow, that don't make us jerks,

These tributes merely show that great stuff lasts!

So, Willy, spin not! Nor disturb thy bones,

Anonymous we aren't! And so, anon...

Planetary detritus and stones,

Carry our message on and on and on.

   So muse, inspire! Help me sing an ode,

   To stars and galaxies... and THIS old globe.

And now, from the ridiculous to the sublime... a sonnet that Woody Allen might have titled "Love and Death... and Soul..." but which comes down through history to us as simply...

Shakespear's Sonnet Number 146:

Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,

These rebel powers that thee array;

Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,

Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?

Why so large cost, having so short a lease,

Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?

Shall worms, inheritors of this excess

Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?

Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,

And let that pine to aggravate thy store;

Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;

Within be fed, without be rich no more:

    So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,

    And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.


Huh... well, that sure put me in my proper place.  Some ambitions are beyond even ego to demand.  STill, from literary Valhalla, perhaps Willy briefly (as brief as my flickering candle) smiled....


RJJ said...

I smile...

rewinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

I find the two poems equivalent, even as the subject of one honors the author of the other.

I think Bill would consider you an equal... as long as admission to his plays were paid in full.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

Just a small question
When your site says

This comment has been removed by the author.

Does that mean the author of the comment?

Or by "The Author" as in yourself?

rewinn said...

Hey @duncan caincrosse ... if you're referring to the 2nd comment above (deleted), I wrote it and then deleted it myself (...and I am not a sockpuppet of Dr. Brin. Honest!)

What happened is that I replied to a comment to the previous post (read in the RSS feed) and the reply ended up on this post; I don't know why, it seems to be something to do with the interaction between blogger and Google reader, or perhaps I was just sloppy. I deleted, then re-posted the comment to the previous post. It would be nice if blogger would let comments delete their comments without the Badge Of Shame ;-)

Nyctotherion said...

Hey! Caught you on the very good bio series "Prophets of Science Fiction", I think it was the Philip Dick episode, but like some of their other guests I expect they'll have you on in multiple eps.

I have high hopes for what you might say in the George Lucas episode.

minumsa: a mimosa with 'ume' (Japanese plum).

Ian said...

I hope this isn't out of place here:

Someone tell me if this is totally stupid:

Isaac Asimov's Foundation series tells the story of the collapse of a Galactic Empire and the emergence of its eventual successor: The Foundation.

The Foundation is started with a group of intellectuals and academics being uprooted from the Galactic capital of Trantor against their will and dumped on the remote, backward, resource-poor planet of Terminus.

There they start by developing a culture that reveres knowledge and has as its primary task the collation of all human knowledge into a single Galactic Encyclopedia.

As the Empire retreats from the periphery, the Foundation finds itself cut off, surrounded by larger hostile states and desperately short of resources. To survive, the Foundation is forced to concentrate even more on their one competitive edge: knowledge. They take the technology inherited from the Empire and improve on it. In particular, precisely because of their poverty they find ways to make technology much more efficient. (The example of this given is that an Imperial forcefield generator weighs tons and requires a nuclear reactor to power it. A Foundation forcefield generator is small enough that it can be worn and is powered by a “micropile” the size of a D battery.)

Using their technological edge, the Foundation start to expand. They do so primarily as merchants, not as soldiers. The surrounding states despise them both as cowardly intellectuals and as greedy and obsessed with money.

Now is it just me or are there significant parallels between the Foundation and the history of the Jews during and after the fall of the Roman empire?

David Brin said...

Many parallels and yours of course is ethnically apropos to Isaac. Also see this added inspiration.

Of course, I make it all make sense in Foundation's triumph!

Ian said...

Oh I was well aware of the classical influence but not the Jewish one.

For that matter, Hari Seldon leads his people to the Chosen Land of Terminus but never gets to set foot there.

Jumper said...

Here are two links I thought people might like on Martian "skylights" and the proposed spelunking robot.
and a link to Astrobotic website, who got a contract to develop such.

I propose we use the following site as a sandbox to determine once and for all how Blogger labels deleted posts. The first removal was by me, the site operator, on my own post.

(Incidentally, Blogger allows me to "permanently" delete a comment, in which case all sign of its prior existence is removed, and a simple "delete comment" which indicates then that a comment was there but was deleted.)

Please leave two posts, I will delete the first one and you delete the other. We will see if the notification is different in each case.

Jumper said...

oops, the link

David Brin said...

Breaking: Billy Graham Endorses Romney Then Scrubs Site Calling Mormonism A ‘Cult’

Jumper said...


A morph of two different portrait photos.

Jumper said...

"Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author. 11:25 AM, October 13, 2012"

"Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator."

This is the difference.

David Brin said...

scary morph!

Tho to be honest, Graham is not my #1 pet hate. He has some likeable aspects and didmake a public apology -- very detailed and remorseful -- for his opposition to the civil rights movement.

Still, that opposition happened. As did the GOP's association with "cars don't cause smog and only commies say so!"

And with "tobacco don't cause cancer and only commies say so!"

and with with "CFCs don't cause ozone holes and only commies say so!"

and with with "Carbon fuels don't cause climate change and only commies say so!"

As well as "higher CAFE mileage standards will bankrupt Detroit!" Followed (without any irony) by "Let Detroit go bankrupt!" (Under the dems, we got higher mileage standards AND Detroit is booming.

Oh, and supply side.

Need you wonder why they find facts and science - by now reflexively - to be the enemy?

Ian Gould said...

It's not exclusive to the Republican Party but I think at the heart of much of the current irrationality amongst Republicans is epistomology.

Specifically, there's a strain within American evangelical Christianity which holds that "knowledge" derived from the study of the bible is innately superior to "knowledge" from human sources.

If the Bible says the Earth is 6,000 years old and geology says it's approximately 4 billion years old, geology must be wrong.

Any evidence which appears to contradict this must be wrong.

Once you accept that principle - it's a relatively short step to deciding that views expressed by the virtuous and godly must be correct and those of the unvirtuous and ungodly must be wrong.

This in turn leads to a closed echo chamber in which people simply repeat and exaggerate the opinions of others with whom they're in overall agreement without criticism. And regular readers know what criticism is the only cure for.

As I said, this phenomena isn't unique to the Republican Party (look at leftists on the topic of GM foods) but the religious basis for many Republican views makes them mroe prone to this.

David Brin said...

Indeed, the effect certainly does show up among leftists! With the distinction that LIBERALS are a (mostly) distinct species.

Acacia H. said...

I'm reposting this from the previous thread in case Tacitus had failed to see this prior to Dr. Brin going poetic on us. He had requested a perspective on who won the Vice Presidential debate of someone nonpartisan and Independent in nature. As such, I chose my best friend's fiancée who does her best to try and keep my friend and I from going at loggerheads politically.

It's an interesting perspective as well, as it is unaffected by political perspectives as such (though she did state her belief that Romney skunked Obama in the first debate)... and may even give us a glimpse into the mind of that most important of voter: the Undecided:

My thoughts were that Biden won, to a degree. At the beginning of the debate, it looked like Ryan was going to take it: he was articulate and succinct. He said what he wanted to with poise and confidence, even with Biden silently laughing at him. However, later in the debate it looked like he was receiving pressure from both the moderator and Biden and he started to repeat certain lines that sounded a lot like slogans. Also, when the moderator brought up an interview with a decorated soldier and how this soldier was dismayed at all the mud-slinging during this campaign, Ryan did not change his tone and continued his accusatory statements toward his opponents. Biden got the hint and did not mention his opponents at all, that I can remember anyway. In general, Biden acted confident and maybe a bit laid back. He pushed when he needed, but otherwise he looked relaxed and secure. At least, most of the time; he was a bit tense going into the debate and relaxed as it went on. He also, as I intimated earlier, was able to sense where the debate was going and was able to move with it. He did not direct it, like Romney did in the last debate, he more followed the flow. I would need to do some fact-checking to see how accurate what they each said was, and I have suspicions on that account, but overall I feel they delivered their lines with confidence. The reason I say Biden won was mostly because of the flexibility he showed and how inflexible Ryan seemed later in the debate as Biden moved from accusatory to correcting to presenting an idea and Ryan started just repeating prepared lines and dialog. The closing argument for each really brought that home. Ryan sounded like he was giving a prepared speech and Biden was talking to us. I have been left feeling a bit conflicted about my vote.

David Brin said...

Thanks Robert...

and no...


Joel said...

Before the Jonestown Massacre, the cult underwent a steady reduction of conflicting or alternative ideas until what was left was a group in the middle of a jungle ready to drink poisonous koolaid.

Most Americans wouldn't dream of joining a cult. Of those who would, most wouldn't follow a cult into a jungle. But of those who would, only one, when the group decided revolutionary suicide was inevitable, wondered aloud whether killing themselves was the only way.

The two parties are falling into two distinct forms of group-think where dissenters are excluded, challenges to the party line are ostracized, and each becomes more radical in retaliation for the other side becoming more radical.

Except the right seems to be running faster to the extremes than the left.

I started to think this had some connection with Darwin's observation that domesticated plants had more variation than their wild counter-parts, but ideas are not genes. It's a cloudy analogy.

David Brin said...

Very erudite Joel. But I don't see it. American liberals are the last pragmatists left in American life. Oh, some are indignation junkies and the LEFTISTS who are allies of the liberals are crazy and sometimes confused with them.

But Obama stepped up to the table and offered the Republicans THEIR OWN plan for health care and said "let's negotiate about that."

Jeez, what could anybody want? But suddenly, their own plan was evil socialism. No, these are not milder/hotter versions of the same syndrome. This is sane vs insane.

MIND YOU I yearn for a second pragmatist party! If Johnson wins enough votes, he might steer the LP that way


now onward! to the next post.