If I could have any life I wanted, what would it be? A trite question, but potentially instructive. It forces me to view my fallen state as temporal. Everything in my life is unsettled, but it won’t always be that way. I simply lack the imagination, at present, to envision a life not entangled with—severed from—my former relationship. Once I accept that my worst fear has already been realized—the death of love—I’ll be able to countenance some kind of future for myself. “But whate’er I be, nor I, nor any man that but man is, with nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased with being nothing.” Shakespeare and the death of kings, the rise of the proletariat, the emancipation of women and the death of patriarchal structures, novelistic explications of crime and the innate violence of capital…all these things that have previously occupied my thoughts and inspired my imagination, and all I can think of now is the sound her slippers make when she drags her feet across the carpet, the smell of her hair, the way she said my name when I surprised her with something…and it feels as though all I’ve ever done in this life, done well and truly, was refill her water glass and hold her hand and tell her that she was beautiful.
I’m struggling with severe depression, resulting from recent changes in my personal life. I hope to resume this project in the near future, but I can’t say when that will be. Sincere thanks to everyone who follows this blog. It seems appropriate—and mordantly funny—that our current stopping-point is the doomed love of Troilus and his Cressida. “This is the monstrosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite and the execution confined, that the desire is boundless and the act a slave to limit.”
— Jonathan Gil Harris, Shakespeare and Literary Theory
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself.
—Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act I, Scene III
— Carol Cook, Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre
— Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act III, Scene II
— Terry Eagleton, Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic
Sext: This shall I undertake; and ‘tis a burden which I am proud to bear.
fallaciamiserabilis said: The first half or so of this is a really interesting glimpse into the perception of “progress” as a concept in the 1500s as opposed to today. Like, how ‘turning back the clock’ is equally seen as unthinkable and destructive, as it is today, yet forces such as religion and…
I agree that the strength of Carolyn Merchant’s The Death of Nature is in its first half; the way she traces evolving and competing narratives of “nature” and “progress” throughout the early modern period.
— Peter Stallybrass, Marxist Shakespeares
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