Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time is a Salt, according to Shakespeare

"Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, have yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time in you."
- Falstaff, to the slightly younger Chief Justice
from The Second part of King Henry the IV
Act I, scene 2, l. 93-95

Falstaff is the quintessential voice of humanism, wit, and the common man in the Shakespeare canon. He is a constant voice for individual life over patriarchal nationalistic honor and, and he refuses to reminisce with his friends about joy in bygone days; his joy is eternal and almost zen-like. He lives in the moment, man. But time - and a brutally excessive drinking habit - have given Falstaff the gout and painful boils, among other innumerable diseases. It's also found him in his 70s, joyful but acutely aware of his naturally-imposed limits. Falstaff evades the recognition of time because he understands that, in the end, it exhibits only saltness and deterioration, contributing nothing essential to his life.

"Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us."
-Prince Hal, on his inaction.
from The Second Part of King Henry IV
Act II, scene 2, l. 133-134

Foolishly spent time is time spent being mocked by our ancestral collective wisdom. So the question is, what is time spent foolishly? How can we possibly know? It seems like more often than not, I get advice that sounds like "All you can really do is wait." It's the trite old expression "time heals all wounds," but when all I do is wait and expect answers, I feel foolish. I feel like I'm playing the fool with time. I guess it's possible that the spirits of the wise are jaded, that they forget what it's like to be human, to feel, to have your understanding constricted to patient grains of sand at the midpoint of an hourglass. They mock us in their wisdom because they are proud, because they've already paid their dues and waited and expected answers and felt foolish and maybe they got them and maybe they didn't, but either way they're not waiting for anything anymore.

They've stopped wondering if they'll always feel this way/so empty, so estranged.

But you and I haven't stopped wondering, Ray. Understand, I don't compare my life to yours. You've been to hell and back so many times/you must admit I kind of bore you. And I'm appreciative of that. I hope I'm never so acquainted with that journey as you are. If I'd been born just a few miles north and a few years earlier, we would've gone to the same high school, but you ditched class and got in fights and it took you so long to ever pull yourself together. You would have had no sympathy for me, overprivileged, overconfident, idealistic, and I know that. Even so, your music means something significant to me, so thank you. Thank you for your inspired confusion of physicality, early morning beauty, sexuality, emotional hardship, and thunderstorms. In the end, there's a lot of things neither of us understand/why so many people lie.

I had a great conversation with Kimberlee about Ray Lamontagne's album "Trouble." It's inspiringly hopeful and desperately sad, often at the same time. The whole thing just feels so incredibly human.

I think the word is "timeless," and that's of interest to me now more than ever.

1 comment:

  1. you've got a good mind, luke. lovely connection between bill s., ray, and nick drake in the past few days. funny that what separates them (time) is what binds them in your entries.

    ray's "be here now" has successfully gotten me through another winter, and in some cases, another day.

    also, i think you should hear/watch this:http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=184068