Penguin Books guest author: All the World's a Grave, 9/9
My second post as the Penguin Books guest guthor. "Would Palin Censor All the World's A Grave?" It looks even better on the Penguin website: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/blogs/would-palin-censor-all-worlds-grave-john-reed
"All The World's A Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare." It is, as advertised, a new play by W.S. All of the text is plucked from the known works.
The question leveled at me: in Heaven's name, why?
After much wearing thought, the short answer ...
That's sort of like asking me why I exist, and as to that: I'm not sure.
Many months ago, when I could still entertain the question—before the answer become so multi-faceted and lugubrious and overwhelming—I penned an essay, an answer. Penguin/Plume mercifully whittled down the 30 pages to 13 (which can be found at the end of the book).
The reasons ...
Culture: an American atavism. Education: the uninspired U.S. classroom. Personal: me, the street-urchin "mutt." Literary: buy new books. Technological: the ways we have changed, the ways literature is growing. Political: our wanton war.
The answer after that: I'm a writer. You know what the mountain climber will say.
Sarah Palin. Would she sneer? Would she be curious about ATWAG? Well, Shakespeare is the purvue of priviledge—perhaps she'd see the project in a favorable light. The best of the Republican party extols independence and discovery—and is generous in attributing those virtues. But, I have recieved many, many emails forwarding me the articles about Sarah Palin's inclination to censorship—and I have no doubt my second book (given the unlikely circumstance that a Vice-President or someone of that stature ever noticed it) would have made the black list. A satire of George Orwell's Animal Farm, Snowball's Chance brought capitalism to the farm, and got me accused of "blaming the victims of terrorism," by people who hadn't read the book. (Always annoying to be reviewed by people who haven't read the book: so I'm naming Cathy Young, who did exactly that, and wrote about it in the Boston Globe, and Christopher Hitchens, who did the same on the BBC.)
Censorship and Creationism, despite Governor Palin's charms, strike me as an unfortunate pairing.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. —Matthew, 23: 27
That said, I am also dismayed by Mr. David Shankbone's attempt to pit Michele Obama against Sarah Palin in our war of "Love Letters to ... " Facebook groups. Shankbone, right now, has a quickly gaining headcount of twenty-five, while I have stalled at twenty-eight. I question the very premise: that we can compare somebody's wife with the Vice-Presidential candidate. Sarah Palin is Governor Alaska—an ice queen, maybe, but we should appreciate her achievements.
And so what if she censored my books? As if it would matter. I recently blurted out, in front of maybe thirty people, that "bestseller" was two words. (Is it?) What we're looking at here is beyond any petty economic or moral concern (all debatable anyway); we could have an uncontested national first. The first woman Vice-President of the United States of America. And then: the first woman President of the United States of America. And then, maybe: the first Queen of the United States of America. And then, most momentous of all: the first known down-syndrome King in the history of the world.
So, not so much Lady Macbeth; you have to go with Cleopatra. John McCain as a too-old Antony (but there's a precedent for that, think Patrick Stewart as Macbeth).
Another precedent: Laura Roslin on the new Battlestar Galactica. When her character, the Secretary of Education, was sworn in as President—as the next in line of a U.S. Government almost entirely dessimated—I was nearly in tears. It brings tears to my eyes even now. And Roslin looks quite a bit like Palin. Coincidence? Well, maybe it did help us along towards Palin, butter the corn a bit. But it's more the other way around: the whole campaign is straight out of central casting. The war hero, the svelte black man, the steady old mountain-man (or, bore), and Palin, the gun-toting beauty queen.
No, no "naked," "nude," "topless," pictures of Laura Roslin on the internet, either, that I can find. (Sabine Ehrenfeld, the other look-alike—you may have some luck there.)
MILF, GILF, V-PILF, all amusing, and a little dismaying, but lust and larks aside, Palin and the Laura Roslin character evoke something similar. Palin is the good daughter—the one that went hunting with Daddy—and in that, we can trust her to pick up the torch, to wave the sword if need be, and yet to always be part girl, part pigtails, part Laura Engells. (Melissa Gilbert is still young, everyone; Ronald Reagan also started as President of the Screen Actors Guild.) Imagine, in the last moments of Lear, Cordelia waking up in her father's arms, and saying, "Yes, Papa, I forgive you." It is as if we have been forgiven: Palin, who identifies herself as a feminist, is the good feminist, and she represents a painless reconciliation. A quick and umbumpy transition into equalish rights.
They say there are no second acts in politics: but for John McCain, Palin is a second act; and for a woman in the 2008 election, Palin is a second act. And if the McCain/Palin ticket takes the Whitehouse, that's about where one senses we'll be: somewhere at the outset of Act II. And while I know myself to be far too silly and peripheral to stump for a candidate, to punish anyone with my endorsement, I will allow myself a dramaturgical notation:
These five act sort of things tend to end in tragedy.
Or, is it a comedy?