Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some Notes on Domestic Violence

Whether they come to us from the hoary past of before the common era, at the early years of the common era, the literature we call The Classics has in common a steady record of human behavior being business as usual. Whatever the culture or time, the range of human behavior allows us with little shifting in our seats to identify with the plight of some remarkable figure, be that figure Beowulf, the bandit from the Rashomon stories, or that man on many turns, Odysseus, making his way home from the Trojan War.

Even though it may seem dumb in relationship to, say World War I or II, we can relate to the fact of the Trojan War having been fought over Helen. In fact, the current war in Iraq has in its way helped us to see in better context some of the ancient battles, better context referring to the political spin put on these causus belli. Even zanier and more madcap than the American venture in Vietnam, the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq and the propagandizing elements of its continuation stand as evidence that those most directly responsible for it may have read the works of some neocon pundits but they have not read The Classics.

Thus is is possible to see a particular American couple, unaware of the works of Shakespeare, trying to one-up each other to see who gets the starring role in Macbeth. Hillary appears to be ahead on points, having devised more imaginative ways to refer to the Clinton equivalent of King Malcolm, but don't count Bill out, not yet. Even when it finally falls to his lot after June 3 to praise King Malcolm, he will find a way to do the damning with such resourceful faint praise that the faithful will immediately begin waving Hillary '12 signs. This will seem too far in the future for Hillary, who knows her way around an impeachment and will want to give that plan a try, hopeful of wading in during the confusion and trying on the crown. Truth to tell, they are both rather cavalier when it comes to math, neither one being able to count beyond mine.

No, I do not think reading The Classics will make us any the less likely to indulge such shenanigans, but doing so will gives us the calmness of perspective, and what we need right now is a good dose of perspective.


J.H. said...

Sir, I think this is very insightful. I don't know why, but your posting reminded me of Hamlet, specifically the part where Hamlet speaks to Laertes before the duel. They could have both prevented the tragedy, if both Hamlet and Laertes understood each other, and reflected once again about the concept of "honor" that Laertes could not possibly let go. Mr. Lowenkpf, I think The Classics does indeed imbue us with new and important perspectives that could penetrate deeply within the profundity of our current affairs.

lowenkopf said...

Michael, I'd quite forgotten that nice dramatic moment between Hamlet and Laertes and so your mention of it brought back an important dramatic moment and a new perspective. Thanks to you for the insight. SL