Monday, April 27, 2020


In early modern England, print houses called themselves "chapels," and they had some interesting norms around what they called "solaces," as described in  Joseph Moxon's 1683 Mechanick exercises, or, The doctrine of handy-works : applied to the art of printing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Poets v. Crystals (WiP)

Bun was making a list of things to tell his younger self. He would get his chance this afternoon.

He wrote: "Haircuts and shaving."

He wrote: "'Jump' older."

He thought about it, and added: "(in 'jumps')."

Bun checked the time weather on his phone. It looked like he would only get one chance.

And added: "Sleeps, food, sick."

Bun scratched his moustache. These words did not yet capture his real point, which was how shaving his face or cutting his hair always made him appear more youthful in the mirror, but youthful by a different and unpredictable increment with every shave and haircut. It was through this invisible steady progress forward and variable 'jumping' back that change revealed itself. He thought this would be useful for his younger self to know, not exactly for itself, but for some vaguer truth toward which it gestured.

Or try a different metaphor. Life considered as a whole, Bun now knew, was like those sicknesses which compose so many of its most vibrant and vital episodes. As you wrestle in your sweats, you do not continually feel yourself worsening and strengthening. Despite all its nowness, the unbearable immanence of illness, still you must always wait for something, for the next big update, as with any news cycle, you must scroll aimless in yourself till your body holds its press conference, till your body comes out to face the cameras at some significant juncture, after a meal, a sip, a dream, a care-giver's visit, the moment you step outdoors, bed time, and change of the temperature.

This advice, which even grown-up Bun struggled to express to himself, would probably not be much fun for young Bun. Yet why not? Why not teach oneself things one doesn't even know oneself? To teach yourself something you already know feels like a waste. The boy had more time to decide what to do with this shimmering and fragmentary understanding. More time to be free of it.

What was 'advice' anyway? A form of something else? Education. Instruction. Seduction. Warning. Care. Or could advice be a thing-in-itself? And if a thing-in-itself, then is advice to be found only in some places, or is it available everywhere, like space and time? Do all things give ample guidance, if only you can bear to read it? A severed head. A game of Chess. Do they emanate advice? Should Bun perhaps say nothing, only smile gently and give himself a slow, solemn nod?

Bun had a go at the nod.

Bun crossed out "Haircuts and shavings."

Why did advice come in pieces? Pieces of what? Was something being torn apart?

Bun wrote down, "Men so beautiful but beauty up-side-down" and crossed it out immediately, as if the long line of the strike-through were just the final letter of the final word.

He checked the time weather on his phone.

Later that day -- but also forty years earlier on the beach at Tsutsumigaura -- Bun was feeling a little crestfallen at how the encounter had unfolded. Sensing time's ticklish arms gathering him up to carry him to where he belonged, Bun suddenly remembered the list!

Hastily uncrumpling the blurred scratchings and strike-throughs, Bun bellowed across the luminous gusting grey-green sands to his skinny naked seven-year-old self, as he scampered and plunged in the white-capped blue-black billows: "Haircuts and hairballs! Jumps older to jumps! Sleeps and foods and sicks! I'm old you!"

And snapped right back to now.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The bits with the crown

In The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth (anonymous):

HENRY 5: Ah Harry, thrice unhappie, that hath neglect so
long from visiting of thy sicke father, I will goe. Nay but why
doo I not go to the Chamber of my sick father, to comfort the
melancholy soule of his bodie: his soule said I, here is his ...
bodie indeed, but his soule is whereas it needs no bodie.
Now thrice accursed Harry, that hath offended thy father so much,
and could not I craue pardon for all. Oh my dying father,
curst be the day wherin I was borne, and accursed be the
houre wherin I was begotten, but what shal I do? if weeping
teares which come too late, may suffice the negligence neglected
too soone, I wil weepe day and night until the
fountaine be drie with weeping. [Exit.]
[Enter Lord of Exeter and Oxford.]

EXETER: Come easily my Lord, for waking of the King.

HENRY 4: Now my Lords.

OXFORD: How doth your Grace feele your selfe?

HENRY 4: Somewhat better after my sleepe,
But good my Lords take off my Crowne,
Remoue my chaire a litle backe, and set me right.

BOTH: And please your grace, the crown is taken away.

HENRY 4: The Crowne taken away,
Good my Lord of Oxford, go see who hath done this deed:
No doubt tis some vilde traitor that hath done it,
To depriue my sonne, they that would do it now,
Would seeke to scrape and scrawle for it after my death.

[Enter Lord of Oxford with the Prince.]

OXFORD: Here and please your Grace ...
Is my Lord the yong Prince with the Crowne.

HENRY 4: Why how now my sonne?
I had thought the last time I had you in schooling,
I had giuen you a lesson for all,
And do you now begin againe?
Why tel me my sonne,
Doest thou thinke the time so long,
that thou wouldest haue it before the
Breath be out of my mouth?

HENRY 5: Most soueraign Lord, and welbeloued father, ...
I came into your Chamber to comfort the melancholy
Soule of your bodie, and finding you at that time
Past all recouerie, and dead to my thinking,
God is my witnesse, and what should I doo,
But with weeping tears lament the death of you my father,
And after that, seeing the Crowne, I tooke it:
And tel me my father, who might better take it then I,
After your death? but seeing you liue,
I most humbly render it into your Maiesties hands,
And the happiest man aliue, that my father liue: ...
And liue my Lord and Father, for euer.

HENRY 4: Stand vp my sonne,
Thine answere hath sounded wel in mine eares,
For I must need confesse that I was in a very sound sleep,
And altogither unmindful of thy comming:
But come neare my sonne,
And let me put thee in possession whilst I liue,
That none depriue thee of it after my death.

HENRY 5: Well may I take it at your maiesties hands,
But it shal neuer touch my head, so long as my father liues. ...

[He taketh the Crowne.]

HENRY 4: God giue thee ioy my sonne,
God blesse thee and make thee his seruant,
And send thee a prosperous raigne,
For God knowes my sonne, how hardly I came by it,
And how hardly I haue maintained it.

In King Henry IV Part 2 (by Shakespeare):

WARWICK. Will't please your Grace to go along with us?

  PRINCE. No; I will sit and watch here by the King.
                                       Exeunt all but the PRINCE
    Why doth the crown lie there upon his pillow,
    Being so troublesome a bedfellow?
    O polish'd perturbation! golden care!
    That keep'st the ports of slumber open wide
    To many a watchful night! Sleep with it now!
    Yet not so sound and half so deeply sweet
    As he whose brow with homely biggen bound
    Snores out the watch of night. O majesty!
    When thou dost pinch thy bearer, thou dost sit
    Like a rich armour worn in heat of day
    That scald'st with safety. By his gates of breath
    There lies a downy feather which stirs not.
    Did he suspire, that light and weightless down
    Perforce must move. My gracious lord! my father!
    This sleep is sound indeed; this is a sleep
    That from this golden rigol hath divorc'd
    So many English kings. Thy due from me
    Is tears and heavy sorrows of the blood
    Which nature, love, and filial tenderness,
    Shall, O dear father, pay thee plenteously.
    My due from thee is this imperial crown,
    Which, as immediate from thy place and blood,
    Derives itself to me. [Putting on the crown] Lo where it
sits --
    Which God shall guard; and put the world's whole strength
    Into one giant arm, it shall not force
    This lineal honour from me. This from thee
    Will I to mine leave as 'tis left to me. Exit

  KING. Warwick! Gloucester! Clarence!

  CLARENCE. Doth the King call?

  WARWICK. What would your Majesty? How fares your Grace?

  KING. Why did you leave me here alone, my lords?

  CLARENCE. We left the Prince my brother here, my liege,
    Who undertook to sit and watch by you.

  KING. The Prince of Wales! Where is he? Let me see him.
    He is not here.

  WARWICK. This door is open; he is gone this way.

  PRINCE HUMPHREY. He came not through the chamber where we

  KING. Where is the crown? Who took it from my pillow?

  WARWICK. When we withdrew, my liege, we left it here.

  KING. The Prince hath ta'en it hence. Go, seek him out.
    Is he so hasty that he doth suppose
    My sleep my death?
    Find him, my lord of Warwick; chide him hither.
                                                    Exit WARWICK
    This part of his conjoins with my disease
    And helps to end me. See, sons, what things you are!
    How quickly nature falls into revolt
    When gold becomes her object!
    For this the foolish over-careful fathers
    Have broke their sleep with thoughts,
    Their brains with care, their bones with industry;
    For this they have engrossed and pil'd up
    The cank'red heaps of strange-achieved gold;
    For this they have been thoughtful to invest
    Their sons with arts and martial exercises;
    When, like the bee, tolling from every flower
    The virtuous sweets,
    Our thighs with wax, our mouths with honey pack'd,
    We bring it to the hive, and, like the bees,
    Are murd'red for our pains. This bitter taste
    Yields his engrossments to the ending father.
Re-enter WARWICK
    Now where is he that will not stay so long
    Till his friend sickness hath determin'd me?

  WARWICK. My lord, I found the Prince in the next room,
    Washing with kindly tears his gentle cheeks,
    With such a deep demeanour in great sorrow,
    That tyranny, which never quaff'd but blood,
    Would, by beholding him, have wash'd his knife
    With gentle eye-drops. He is coming hither.

  KING. But wherefore did he take away the crown?
    Lo where he comes. Come hither to me, Harry.
    Depart the chamber, leave us here alone.
                          Exeunt all but the KING and the PRINCE

  PRINCE. I never thought to hear you speak again.

  KING. Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought.
    I stay too long by thee, I weary thee.
    Dost thou so hunger for mine empty chair
    That thou wilt needs invest thee with my honours
    Before thy hour be ripe? O foolish youth!
    Thou seek'st the greatness that will overwhelm thee.
    Stay but a little, for my cloud of dignity
    Is held from falling with so weak a wind
    That it will quickly drop; my day is dim.
    Thou hast stol'n that which, after some few hours,
    Were thine without offense; and at my death
    Thou hast seal'd up my expectation.
    Thy life did manifest thou lov'dst me not,
    And thou wilt have me die assur'd of it.
    Thou hid'st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts,
    Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart,
    To stab at half an hour of my life.
    What, canst thou not forbear me half an hour?
    Then get thee gone, and dig my grave thyself;
    And bid the merry bells ring to thine ear
    That thou art crowned, not that I am dead.
    Let all the tears that should bedew my hearse
    Be drops of balm to sanctify thy head;
    Only compound me with forgotten dust;
    Give that which gave thee life unto the worms.
    Pluck down my officers, break my decrees;
    For now a time is come to mock at form --
    Harry the Fifth is crown'd. Up, vanity:
    Down, royal state. All you sage counsellors, hence.
    And to the English court assemble now,
    From every region, apes of idleness.
    Now, neighbour confines, purge you of your scum.
    Have you a ruffian that will swear, drink, dance,
    Revel the night, rob, murder, and commit
    The oldest sins the newest kind of ways?
    Be happy, he will trouble you no more.
    England shall double gild his treble guilt;
    England shall give him office, honour, might;
    For the fifth Harry from curb'd license plucks
    The muzzle of restraint, and the wild dog
    Shall flesh his tooth on every innocent.
    O my poor kingdom, sick with civil blows!
    When that my care could not withhold thy riots,
    What wilt thou do when riot is thy care?
    O, thou wilt be a wilderness again.
    Peopled with wolves, thy old inhabitants!

  PRINCE. O, pardon me, my liege! But for my tears,
    The moist impediments unto my speech,
    I had forestall'd this dear and deep rebuke
    Ere you with grief had spoke and I had heard
    The course of it so far. There is your crown,
    And he that wears the crown immortally
    Long guard it yours! [Kneeling] If I affect it more
    Than as your honour and as your renown,
    Let me no more from this obedience rise,
    Which my most inward true and duteous spirit
    Teacheth this prostrate and exterior bending!
    God witness with me, when I here came in
    And found no course of breath within your Majesty,
    How cold it struck my heart! If I do feign,
    O, let me in my present wildness die,
    And never live to show th' incredulous world
    The noble change that I have purposed!
    Coming to look on you, thinking you dead—
    And dead almost, my liege, to think you were—
    I spake unto this crown as having sense,
    And thus upbraided it: 'The care on thee depending
    Hath fed upon the body of my father;
    Therefore thou best of gold art worst of gold.
    Other, less fine in carat, is more precious,
    Preserving life in med'cine potable;
    But thou, most fine, most honour'd, most renown'd,
    Hast eat thy bearer up.' Thus, my most royal liege,
    Accusing it, I put it on my head,
    To try with it—as with an enemy
    That had before my face murd'red my father—
    The quarrel of a true inheritor.
    But if it did infect my blood with joy,
    Or swell my thoughts to any strain of pride;
    If any rebel or vain spirit of mine
    Did with the least affection of a welcome
    Give entertainment to the might of it,
    Let God for ever keep it from my head,
    And make me as the poorest vassal is,
    That doth with awe and terror kneel to it!

  KING. O my son,
    God put it in thy mind to take it hence,
    That thou mightst win the more thy father's love,
    Pleading so wisely in excuse of it!
    Come hither, Harry; sit thou by my bed,
    And hear, I think, the very latest counsel
    That ever I shall breathe. God knows, my son,
    By what by-paths and indirect crook'd ways
    I met this crown; and I myself know well
    How troublesome it sat upon my head:
    To thee it shall descend with better quiet,
    Better opinion, better confirmation;
    For all the soil of the achievement goes
    With me into the earth. It seem'd in me
    But as an honour snatch'd with boist'rous hand;
    And I had many living to upbraid
    My gain of it by their assistances;
    Which daily grew to quarrel and to bloodshed,
    Wounding supposed peace. All these bold fears
    Thou seest with peril I have answered;
    For all my reign hath been but as a scene
    Acting that argument. And now my death
    Changes the mood; for what in me was purchas'd
    Falls upon thee in a more fairer sort;
    So thou the garland wear'st successively.
    Yet, though thou stand'st more sure than I could do,
    Thou art not firm enough, since griefs are green;
    And all my friends, which thou must make thy friends,
    Have but their stings and teeth newly ta'en out;
    By whose fell working I was first advanc'd,
    And by whose power I well might lodge a fear
    To be again displac'd; which to avoid,
    I cut them off; and had a purpose now
    To lead out many to the Holy Land,
    Lest rest and lying still might make them look
    Too near unto my state. Therefore, my Harry,
    Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
    With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,
    May waste the memory of the former days.
    More would I, but my lungs are wasted so
    That strength of speech is utterly denied me.
    How I came by the crown, O God, forgive;
    And grant it may with thee in true peace live!

  PRINCE. My gracious liege,
    You won it, wore it, kept it, gave it me;
    Then plain and right must my possession be;
    Which I with more than with a common pain
    'Gainst all the world will rightfully maintain.

There's actually a three-way comparison available here, if we also include Hal's speech over the sleeping King, compared with how he recounts the incident later. Without necessarily doubting the sincerity of Hal's general gist (he loves his dad, he doesn't want him to die, he's going to mend his ways etc. etc.), we can clearly tell that his recollection embellishes, conceals, and transforms. Hal is not performing his socks off in hope of a moment of cognitive and affective sharing. He's doing something he learned from the best, from Sir John Falstaff: he's coming up with a cover story. The length of the King's lament -- and the kinds of excuses it implicitly pre-empts -- gives the actor playing Hal plenty of tense silence in which to be furiously devising.

(In a similar vein, Falstaff's companions seem to delight in nudging Falstaff into tight corners: Let's see him talk his way out of THIS one. The otherwise ponderous objections his companions tend to raise to Falstaff's excuses confirm this is what's going on: they like to play it straight, and push Falstaff to extremes of brazen and nimble wit).

In view of the theme of debt and indebtedness that runs so prominently throughout Part One and is still doing interesting things in Part Two, it is interesting that what Hal elides is who owes what to whom:

[...] My gracious lord! my father!
    This sleep is sound indeed; this is a sleep
    That from this golden rigol hath divorc'd
    So many English kings. Thy due from me
    Is tears and heavy sorrows of the blood
    Which nature, love, and filial tenderness,
    Shall, O dear father, pay thee plenteously.