Compare and Contrast (15)
1. Stephen Dunn: The Imagined.
2. Shakespeare: Sonnet 138.
If the imagined woman makes the real woman
seem bare-boned, hardly existent, lacking in
gracefulness and intellect and pulchritude,
and if you come to realize the imagined woman
can only satisfy your imagination, whereas
the real woman with all her limitations
can often make you feel good, how, in spite
of knowing this, does the imagined woman
keep getting into your bedroom, and joining you
at dinner, why is it that you always bring her along
on vacations when the real woman is shopping,
or figuring the best way to the museum?
And if the real woman
has an imagined man, as she must, someone
probably with her at this very moment, in fact
doing and saying everything she’s ever wanted,
would you want to know that he slips in
to her life every day from a secret doorway
she’s made for him, that he’s present even when
you’re eating your omelette at breakfast,
or do you prefer how she goes about the house
as she does, as if there were just the two of you?
Isn’t her silence, finally, loving? And yours
not entirely self-serving? Hasn’t the time come,
once again, not to talk about it?
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress’d.
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
This is the last of three posts of youtube videos I was into this year.
David Suchet with Trevor Nunn, workshopping a Shakespeare sonnet. Some people might not be able to stomach this kind of thing, and understandably. But, what can I say - I like watching it not just because I like Shakespeare, but because it’s always interesting to me to see professionals take time on something they care about doing well, even if it’s just for the camera here.
A gentle, plainspoken man with an impossible name became a youtube sensation and then, it seems, went away as quickly as he’d appeared: Urgelt. He read poems in a slow deliberate voice and gave health advice, based on his considerable experiece, in multi-part treatises. I think I - like everybody else - found myself listening to him because of his measured phrasing, unpretentious first-person guidance, and because he seemed like the lone sincere man on youtube, with nothing to hide and not wanting anything back from it. And he did things like read a poem, by request, for a little girl in the hospital, and seemed to care enormously about doing it.
But don’t take my word for it… Embedding is disabled for Urgelt videos, so you’ll have to follow the links to see them. They all bear the same qualities, so why not On Insomnia to get you started.
William Buckley steers Norman Mailer into a corner like a chess master (above, and in five more parts - follow them if you’re interested). The guy is as arrogant as Mailer and his mannerisms of speech and posture are lavishly affected. But the man is unquestionably erudite and can argue anyone under the table. What’s more, and - you’ll find it in comment sections wherever Buckley is, but it’s true - it’s instructional to compare conservative discourse now to when Buckley was leading it, both in terms of substance and in terms of the tone in which it’s done. (Also compare television then and now). I wish there were more Firing Line videos on youtube.
Last but not least, the amazing Sylvie Guillem. See also: Wet Woman.
priceless anecdotes drawn from my real experiences and souvenir jpegs of lost time
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