I see you. I dream you. I’ve dreamed you before, alone. I smell you, forrest of rain at dawn.
I could not imagine, imagination was not yet dead . . .
Where do I hear that . . . did I before?
What I intend has nothing exactly to do with what I see, have seen, do see in ways when my eyes are closed. The most important seeing happens when eyes are closed, no? To close one’s eyes and look inside; to see behind the mask we wear would be one thing; to see behind the masks we wear inside is another.
What vision do I have in my dreams? I am walking in a dream, so many people I see day in morning in and morning out are sleep walking . . . What kind of seeing happens in my dreams? What we occlude from our sight when awake comes before us in our dreams . . . parades to be watched . . .
I’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I went once to the Saint Paddy’s Day Parade here in New York, was by Saint Patrick’s, we went inside the Cathedral; we walked the perimeter after the Stations of the Cross, pausing at the niche’s for the chapels to the saints, I was wearing my medallion of Saint Therese de Lisieux, a shower of roses, I remembered, I made my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation into the One True Holy Roman Apostolic Church in her church in East Flatbush . . .
What it is about Shakespeare that so many detractors will never understand because they cannot understand because they have never engaged in reading the way necessary to understand him–we do not have faith in reading, no we do not, and this is not hyperbole.
We no longer know how to read the way reading had been engaged even when I was first an undergraduate and had to make great and sometimes painful strides to get in step–I did not have a set of lesser literates telling me it was okay to remain semi-literate, or show me a way to manage our systemically bread under-achievement by packaging it as a powerful story of how an individual struggled against the agents of power (here read literacy) to become the successful and whole-again person all others who cannot read well enough can honor.
We have not been taught how to in a very long time. I am still trying to figure out how any of our Public School pedagogy misses getting tagged for being racist, sexist, classist, and lastly, although not in the least, Machiavellian. But then I have just answered my question–it would not be successful as a ploy worthy of Machiavelli if we knew it–and if the elite were not as successful in establishing a bureaucratically managed (and bureaucrat friendly) pedagogy, complete with systematic under-education, we might be able to see it–read between the lines as well as superficially skimming the pages of State Sponsored texts, whether written, recorded, filmed or photographed, disseminated through print, broadcast or social media.
Hamlet is my brother–what could it mean to anyone who has not read the text, or at least as we prefer, having read someone who has read someone who has read the text, perhaps in excerpts in a class conducted by someone who has actually read the text, and if an adjunct, perhaps only once and right before the class he will teach because he had a brainstorm to do so because he read an article in a New York Times book review where the character of Hamlet was mentioned by the author of the review in a pithy way that the adjunct and his half drunk friends in Park Slope Brooklyn found interesting.
But, having read Hamlet seven times myself, a few re-reads for classes I have taught as an adjunct–although I do not drink with friends in Park Slope–I can safely say, as I do after Harold Bloom, that Hamlet is the father of modern consciousness. I am and I am not like this character without parallel from among the characters that his progenitor created. So what then do I have to say about the question?Hamlet’s principal question is to be or to become; whether to kill himself or not is not the entirety of Hamlet’s question. It cannot simply be a question of suicide, not–that is simplistic.
Whether or not life is worth living or going on with is an important question, a serious philosophical question, as we get from Camus at the opening of his The Myth of Sisyphus; however, there is something else intrinsic in Hamlet’s to be or not. There are the mutually exclusive yet reciprocal matters of being and becoming that Hamlet addresses as well: When I am, I am not becoming; while I become, I am not being. Wherefore art thou Romeo? What’s in a name? How do Montague and Capulet read? How do we read? I have read Montaigne too as Shake must have on his scene.
To be or to become, how, when, where–are they choices to be made? Are we ever presented with this choice? What are the consequences of pursuing one for oneself when the other should be at hand? These too are questions serious ad philosophical.
Reading is not only looking at; it is not merely seeing the words themselves in print on a page. Skimming words set in lines and rows . . . to read or not to read; another seeing to be seen. All criticism is seeing although this seeing is not in itself understanding before hand but a kind of seeing eye dog of the mind whereby understanding comes as a kind of arrival in spite of an special blindness. I do not know the author’s in intention. Do they have them, these intentions? To see or not to see as I have said about many a binary pair of infinitives; to write or not to write; to read or not; to become or not, this latter one contained implicitly in Hamlet’s To be or not to be; all not being includes becoming.
What do I see with these eyes? What other eyes do I have to see? I look but do I see? What I see with these eyes I have within amounts to what? What is it that I see inside–what eyes are these that I have there–the eyes of wisdom? EachI I am inside–the many Selves self–has a pair of eyes there to see in the way we may or may not see outside, in the world. I see freedom. I see love. I see humanity. I see the humane. I see a rock in the grass by the tree that casts shade in the daylight, mid afternoon sun above the canopy of leaves.To see or not to see; to understand or not, the latter itself to stand under, another version of walking a mile in another man’s shoes.
Who are we when we look at the world? What are when we look but do not see what we should? The hills do not look like white elephants to the man in the story, do they? They do to the girl, the young woman on her way to Madrid for an abortion. I look out the window at the view as the train moves by what is fixed, only appearing to move past me at the speed of the train. There is the evidence of things not seen, as Christians like to say after Paul. What is not seen can be evident? Of course there is more in the heaven and earth of being than can be dreamed by anyone’s metaphysics, anyone’s ideas on knowledge, what it is, when it is, where it is, how . . .
I see you, I dream you, I’ve dreamed you before, alone, I smell you, forrest of rain at dawn. I hold nothing more or less of you with the empty space next to me in bed.
I get up. I glance at the mirror on the wall reflecting the windows across the room, street light locomotive through the curtains; they flip up once, twice more abruptly, then fall still curtains . . .