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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Midwinter Night’s Nightmare: Titania MUST win this Mexican Standoff to get us to a happy ending

For reasons literary rather than political, I was just reading the brief, angry exchange in Act 2 Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream between Titania and Oberon, who are of course the Fairy Queen and King. So it was a big surprise when, while reading Titania’s long, eloquent speech about the chaos in the world caused by the rift between them she blames on Oberon, I was struck by an unlikely yet, upon reflection, chilling coincidence with our current political world.

Of course I mean by this the (literally) Mexican standoff that began nearly a month ago between Trump, the (would-be) King of the United States, and Nancy Pelosi, the valiant Queen. She has, since reassuming power as Speaker of the House, repeatedly given us fresh hope, by showing an iron spine in politely but firmly refusing to bow to his insane, malevolent demands.

But how will this compelling political drama -- our seemingly never-ending national nightmare which began just over two years ago,  got really bad a month ago, and just refuses to leave the stage, or to let us leave our seats --- reach its resolution? Will it be tragedy with bodies littering the stage, or a comic ending in which evil is banished and harmony prevails? How can we write the final act of this play to get us to the latter?

I’ve written in the past --- “Did Greenblatt overlook the most unkindest cut of all? Steve Bannon’s Shakespearean Caesarean ghostwritten misbegetting of Donald Trump”
about how I see Bannon, the failed literary modernizer of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, successfully wrote the real-life lines that Donald Trump read, which enabled him to usurp control of the “Rome” of today.  Today I am back with another Shakespearean riff on Trump.

And so now I will present to you the text of Titania’s eloquent, impassioned speech. As I proceed, I’ll point out the many eerie parallels between Shakespeare’s dreamworld and the all-too-real nightmarish tragedy unfolding before our eyes -- parallels which are so striking that it might almost make one wonder whether Shakespeare out-Nostradamused Nostradamus, by having his plays double as predictions of the far distant future. Or is it really just that history repeats itself?

The scene is set by Puck, who of course is Oberon’s “fixer” (and aren’t we all counting the days until Michael “Puck” Cohen takes the microphone in the House and spins a web of incriminating truth around his former master, telling all about the many times he has sprinkled green-backed “fairy dust” in order to accomplish his master’s every wish and command?:

Titania won’t sleep with Oberon anymore, out of jealousy for his many affairs (hmm… where have we seen that headline recently?), and Oberon counters with allegations of her own dalliances, That’s when Titania steps up and, like Nancy Pelosi in her recent televised addresses, really socks it to the Oberon of that ersatz greenworld, Mar-a-Lago:

These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,  [Here begins an Elizabethan description of Global Warming!]
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land   [Hurricanes]
Have every pelting river made so proud  [Massive flooding]
That they have overborne their continents: [Earthquakes]
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,  [Famine]
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
The human mortals want their winter here; [Drought]
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound: [Epidemics]
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts [Climate change!]
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes  [All of the above caused by human beings]
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.

What happened next in Shakespeare’s dark comedy? Oberon, in the throes of a massive masculine narcissistic injury, first took spiteful revenge on Titania, by having Puck sprinkle a love potion on Titania, causing her to fall in love with a jack-ass. Is that not what Putin did to the American people, using the love potion of fake news and disinformation which caused 1/3 of the American people to fall madly in love with that monstrous jack-ass, Donald Trump? But in the end, somehow, magically, harmony is restored to Shakespeare’s dreamworld.

But in our real world, far removed from Shakespeare’s, we are going to need our new Titania (the role that Hillary Clinton would have played had she not been denied election by fraud), Nancy Pelosi, to stand her ground (and thereby our ground) against tyranny. She has no option but to use all her political skills to coordinate the continuing massive resistance that will bring the tyrant to his knees –harnessing the power of all the good people in our country. And perhaps then begin to restore the natural world to harmony before the curtain falls forever on our human stewardship of planet Earth, so that a later 21st century Titania will tell a different tale about the State of the Earth.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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