March 10, 2010

A fellow of infinite jest

(Goat Rope is almost done with a long jag on Hamlet. If you like this kind of thing, click on earlier posts. If not, scroll on down to the links and comments section below.)

If you ask just about anyone what image comes to mind when he or she thinks about Hamlet, chances are it is the prince holding Yorick's skull so there's no way I can pass by the graveyard scene in act 5 without including it.

Hamlet and the gravedigger have been bantering back and forth when the former picks up a skull and asks who it belonged to.

First Clown: A whoreson mad fellow's it was: whose do you think it was?

HAMLET: Nay, I know not.

First Clown: A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a' poured a
flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull,
sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.


First Clown: E'en that.

You know what comes next. He takes the skull and launches into the second most famous speech in English literature:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.

The thing is, that back that bore him a thousand times was probably the major--and possibly the only--source of affection in his childhood. Hamlet Senior seemed to be pretty busy smiting the sledded Poles and engaging in combat with Norway to get too involved and his mother was probably preoccupied with her own affairs (no pun intended).

A NEW KIND OF BUSINESS? Here's an interesting item from NPR about how lawyers are working to create some kind of legal status for corporations that are more interested in positive social outcomes that the bottom line.

FREE LUNCH OR FREE MARKET. In this piece, Dean Baker takes on the misconception that conservatives rely on the market while progressives rely on government intervention. In fact, both groups use government to pursue their ends. The real question is, who benefits?

PAY EQUITY. Here's a new look at the gender gap in wages.

MORE THAN LINES. This National Geographic article looks at the Nasca culture in ancient Peru.


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