March 21st, 2006

bear by san

on tolerance

Something one of all y'all (and I won't say who, or what about, because it was a locked entry) said this morning made me think. It made me think about how easy it would have been for me to be somebody who judged a lot more than I do.

It seems to me that so much intolerance radiates from one of two places: either the desperate fear that somebody, somewhere, is having fun that we are scared to have; or the desperate need to shore up our shaky self-importance.

Toni Morrison once said, "If you can only be tall because somebody else is on their knees, you have a serious problem."

And it seems to me that I am profoundly lucky to have such a diversity of people in my life: Christians, Pagans, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Unitarians, Erisians, Buddhists, Hindus. Persons who are gay, straight, bi, transgendered, asexual, poly, monogamous, or intersexed. Persons who consider reality tunnels highly negotiable concepts. Americans, South Africans, Canadians, denizens of Europe, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Japan, India. Persons of various skin tones and ethnicities. Reasonable conservatives and reasonable liberals and reasonable socialists. The odd Libertarian, nihilist, or Trotskyite. Persons who do not identify with a political philosophy. Military persons. Civilian persons. Persons who do not even identify particularly with the human species.

Moral persons, most of you. And it's not moral relativism; you are moral persons. You have an internally consistent and logical structure upon which hangs your own concept of your honor and the rules by which you live your lives. I'm pleased to know you.

There was a point in the very recent past when I was bit freaked out by the whole idea of fanfic/slash. Getting to know st_crispins and green_key and ndannais and kelliem and commodorified and przed really opened my eyes to what was going on there, and why it was fun, and the artistic intent behind it all. I used to be scared of Christians, but I met people like porphyrin and arcaedia and jmeadows (and a whole bunch more of you: I'm not going to run down the whole list), people who were willing to love me even though there are things about my beliefs that lie in contravention of theirs. Christians who believed in witnessing through their actions rather than their words. Those are two casual examples of ways in which my eyes have been opened, but I've learned so much from all of you, and from mrissa and katallen and froggie_spawn and makeshiftdaisy and was06066, from kendwoods and netcurmudgeon and ashacat and shesingsnow, and all of you--everybody who comments here, and everybody I know in real life.

Thanks, guys. For making me more human. And more humane, also.

bear by san

(no subject)

Helen Thomas just called President Bush a liar, to his face.

I bet she wouldn't marry me.

Hotspur: And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.
If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
And I’ll be sworn I have power to shame him hence.
O! while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!

--William Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry IV, III, i

bear by san

more lit-crit spork

You know, Riggs is doing fine when he sticks to the facts. The actual biography here is great. But I think his attempts at interpretations fail because he fails, as well, to realize that Jonson, Marston, and Dekker were funny. And that they won their battles with one another by making people laugh at the other guy, not just spitting vitriol. (Well, okay, Jonson apparently did take Marston out behind the woodshed that one time. But that's Ben for you. Marston, who seems to have been a generally good-natured guy when Ben wasn't getting the hell up his nose, eventually forgave the thrashing. I'm inclined to like Marston anyway; he said nice things about Kit.)

Anyway, there's this whole passage here about Ben Jonson (in The Poetaster, which is also the one where his Dekker parody is forced to vomit up all the seven-dollar words at the end, and then put on a strict diet of Ovid until the illness resolves) comparing himself to Homer (whatever, Ben, shut up and write some more vomit jokes) and Dekker caricaturing Homer in Satiromastix as a jobbing hack scrabbling to make ends meet, after which (we may guess: the publication dates and the period habit of circulating things in manuscript for years mean that one can't be too sure) Jonson commented with the following bill of sale in verse:

To Fine Grand.

What is't, fine Grand, makes thee my Friendship fly,
   Or take an Epigram so fearfully:
As't were a Challenge, or a Borrower's Letter?
   The World must know your greatness is my Debter.
In-primis, Grand, you owe me for a Jest;
   I lent you, on meer acquaintance, at a Feast.
Item, a Tale or two, some Fortnight after;
   That yet maintains you, and your House in Laughter.
Item, the Babylonian Song you Sing;
   Item, a fair Greek Posy for a Ring:
With which a Learned Madam you bely.
   Item, a Charm surrounding fearfully,
Your partie-per-pale Picture, one half drawn
   In solemn Cyphers, the other cob-web Lawn.
Item, a gulling Imprese for you, at Tilt.
   Item, your Mistress Anagram, i'your Hilt.
Item, your own, sew'd in your Mistress Smock.
   Item, an Epitaph on my Lord's Cock,
In most vile Verses, and cost me more pain,
   Than had I made 'em good, to fit your vain.
Forty Things more, dear Grand, which you know true,
   For which, or pay me quickly, or I'll pay you.

Upon which Riggs comments: "Jonson's epigram (1) "To Fine Grand" suggests that Dekker's caricature contained some measure of truth."

...dude. It's funny. It's also a b it of an indictment both of the patronage system (and how Benlike to pick it apart even while making use of it), and lords who take advantage of poor poets (apparently, prompt payment for writers has never been a priority of the system...)

Boy, if Mr. Riggs is ego-googling, am I in for one nasty letter....

(1) Ben's poems to his dead children are incredibly touching

bear by san

because the past is not another country

On My First Daughter
Ben Jonson

Here lies, to each her parents' ruth,
Mary, the daughter of their youth;
Yet all heaven's gifts being heaven's due,
It makes the father less to rue.
At six months' end, she parted hence
With safety of her innocence;
Whose soul heaven's queen, whose name she bears,
In comfort of her mother's tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train:
Where, while that severed doth remain,
This grave partakes the fleshly birth;
Which cover lightly, gentle earth!

On My First Son
Ben Jonson

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy ;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I loose all father now ! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
And if no other misery, yet age !
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.
For whose sake henceforth all his vows be such
As what he loves may never like too much.

I think it's nice to think that these people from another time were very different from us and we've learned something since then, because then we don't have to think that we would ever say something like "Kill them all; God will know his own," or "We had to destroy the village in order to save it," or what you will.

Really, this one couplet:

Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, Here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry.

just knocks me over every time.

Sorry about that, Ben.

Alright, I promise to stop spamming your reading lists with the bengeekery now. *g*

bear by san

Comfort for the writer with delusions of inadequacy

All right, you would have gotten clear with no further poetry tonight, except mekkavandexter asked me to make a request for her and I already had this post mostly written.

She would like to know if anybody who is reading this journal has a WisCon membership for sale. You could leave a comment here if you had one for her.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled rengeekery. For the writers out there: Shakespeare and Jonson on professional jealousy, respectively:


Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of all too precious you,
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
He, nor that affable familiar ghost
Which nightly gulls him with intelligence
As victors of my silence cannot boast;
I was not sick of any fear from thence:
But when your countenance fill'd up his line,
Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine.

To John Donne

DONNE, the delight of Phoebus, and each Muse,
   Who, to thy one, all other braines refuse;
Whose every work, of thy most early wit,
   Came forth example, and remaines so, yet;
Longer a knowing, than most wits do live;
   And which no affection praise enough can give!
To it, thy language, letters, arts, best life,
   Which might with halfe mankinde maintaine a strife;
All which I meant to praise, and, yet, I would;
   But leave, because I cannot as I should!

Don't you feel better now?

I know I do.

Ben Jonson's unofficial motto: "If you can't keep it in your pants, keep it in the peerage."