Jul 232017
 
 July 23, 2017  Posted by at 1:16 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  


Ford Madox Brown King Lear and Cordelia c1851

 

Mea culpa. Yesterday I wrote Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?, and not long after publishing it, I figured I missed the target I was going for. Not 100%, and it’s not all bad, as people’s reactions have confirmed, but…

The thing is, Trump’s nomination of Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director was not the main point of my piece. Tempting, because everybody knows the Queen song, but not the main one, and it certainly shouldn’t have been the title of the piece.

So, sorry for that, and let me try to correct. The much stronger point, in my ever so humble view, that I hit on yesterday is the connection between Donald Trump and William Shakespeare. In fact, I think that from now on we should all see Trump in that light. Simply because it fits so … fittingly.

Not because I would call Trump mad, that is far too easy a view. But because his story, both as it unfolds today and in its history, has so many classic Shakespearean elements. And when we look at our world through the glasses of the ‘Old Bard’, we will see it in a different light. As in: Trump could be a man in the process of going mad. Or he could not.

Not that it’s just about Trump. Richard Nixon looks, if anything, way more Shakespeare material than Da Donald. Though, admittedly, we can oversee Nixon’s entire history, while Trump’s is ongoing (he has promise), and Shakespeare is all about development, about what happens to people as they go through what happens to them.

Macbeth and King Lear describe the trappings -and much more- of power. How power corrupts, and not only absolute power. How sociopathic character traits make people seek power, and how it -often- destroys them. But also how outside forces influence them, in -just as often- highly destructive ways.

That’s not to say that Shakespeare, if he were alive today, would have written a play about Trump. I don’t know that, we don’t. I do think he would have found it hard to stay away from Nixon, but that’s just a guess, even if Tricky Dick seems to have all the required boxes ticked off.

The Bard of Avon might have opted for Hillary Clinton’s story instead of Trump’s. Hers has most if not all of his ingredients, power, corruption, murder, treason, trust -and the lack thereof-, madness -inborn, inbred and developing-, gossip, innuendo, conspiracies, scheming, backstabbing, the lot. That’s not trying to single out Hillary, it’s just saying that all these power-seeking tragedies have the same elements.

Shakespeare situated Macbeth in Scotland, Hamlet in Denmark and King Lear in Britain, while the latter play was highly influenced by Sophocles’ Oedipus (Rex), which is set in Greece. Location is for once not essential -sorry, real estate guys-, power corrupts everywhere, and in more or less the same ways and sequences.

Apart from the entire list of people in his camp, some of which get thrown out from time to time, the Trump narrative also relies to a great extent on all the outside people trying to bring him down. It’s hard to see how Shakespeare could not have loved that. Fair is foul and foul is fair, but now with the three witches in Macbeth’s opening part -the media, the commentators?!- having chosen sides from the beginning.

Hillary as Lady Macbeth? Again, tempting, but we’re not Shakespeare -or Sophocles-. Putting too much emphasis on any of the specific traits of characters from 400+ or 2000+ year-old plays doesn’t look like the way to go. For one thing, Shakespeare wouldn’t have wanted to repeat himself. It’s the overarching themes and characteristics that count. What the hunger for power did to people then, and what it does to them now.

If only we had someone to write today’s stories, today. But those writers, the ones that can gaze inside their own narratives, don’t come around very often. And when they do, they write about long-ago narratives and conspiracies. Good thing we can learn from them regardless because many things about our species never change. In a few words: what the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare and many others taught us is that Power equals Tragedy. And that’s eternal.

Moreover, since our media is failing us in unprecedented fashion, Shakespeare looks like our best bet if we want to understand what is happening in Washington. Or Brussels, Berlin, Beijing. Think entertainment value. What else are you going to do? The Bard’s original audiences reportedly threw eggs and tomatoes at the stage.

 

 

Jul 222017
 
 July 22, 2017  Posted by at 1:18 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  


Hieronymus Bosch Adoration of the Magic c1472

 

So sorry to see Sean Spicer go, even if I never watch TV, so I only got snippets of his acting performances -and Melissa McCarthy’s. One of the very few SNL and other ‘comedy’ shows skids that was actually funny, in the same way that very few of the New York Times and Washington Post ‘articles’ on Trump have been actually news.

As I wrote to a friend earlier today, sure Spicer’s gone, but there’ll be other entertaining characters to replace him. Say what you will about the Trump administration, but never a dull moment. Having Mike Pence become president would kill all the fun.

Sad!

Scaramucci is a great start to phase 2. Or is that 22? The guy’s a Wall Street pawn who badmouthed Da Donald not long ago. Moreover, says a Daily Beast headline, “Anthony Scaramucci Loved Hillary, Gave to Obama, and Deleted Anti-Trump Tweets”.

Wonderful!

Now I know the White House should not really be a theater, but hey, it already is, so we might as well make the best of it. And the name Scaramucci alone carries so much promise. Not only because of the Queen line from Bohemian Rhapsody, but also because of, as Wikipedia puts it:

Scaramouch. 1660s, name of a cowardly braggart (supposed by some to represent a Spanish don) in traditional Italian comedy, from Italian Scaramuccia, literally “skirmish,” from schermire “to fence,” from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German skirmen “defend”); see skirmish (n.).

and

Scaramuccia (literally “little skirmisher”), also known as Scaramouche or Scaramouch, is a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell’arte. The role combined characteristics of the zanni (servant) and the Capitano (masked henchman).

A cowardly braggart! There is so much promise there. And theater, tragedy, drama, entertainment. Look, that’s what Shakespeare made of politics, and many others did too, so maybe we should just get used to it. It’s not all that new, kings and queens and power hungry sociopaths have been the subjects of plays and worse for ages. When you see anything Trump, think Shakespeare. Give it the proper historical context.

Think Macbeth. Think King Lear. Think Trump.

Think:

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright’ning me
(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo. Galileo figaro magnifico
I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity..