the paragon of animals

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[x] Star Wars’d Lovers Volume 2: Anakin as the Prince of Denmark

I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

- William Shakespeare, Hamlet 2.2.259-272.

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“I have of late–but wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth.

And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! ..how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor women neither.

..nor women neither.”

[watch]

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.
— 

Hamlet… or how I have come to feel about dating real people.

Originally posted by yourreactiongifs

ARCHA 1.

“A dark force is brewing just beyond humanities reach. Behind the scenes, Crowley plots something sinister, unbeknownst to the Winchester brothers. Gabriel had been in hiding, he didnt expect to believe that anyone knew he was alive, and yet, here he was, front and centre. Gabriel was now nothing more than trapped and seemingly powerless, and swept up with him was that stupid girl, who had so accidentally been thrown in his world of angelic crazy.”

Word Count: 1500+ per chapter

MASTERLIST / ABOUT

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“What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable. In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.” - William Shakespear




CHAPTER 1: DREAMS

My skin felt keen against the icy ground. Sharp articles slightly protruded into my back, as a biting chill melted over my body.
I lay flat, something median sat against my chest, it too was cold, metallic cold.
I dug my fingers into the ground around me, it crumbled, like earth. Dirt.
A sharp, brisk breeze shook through the air surrounding my icy body.
I could hear trees, branches scraping and tearing against each other, they were close, just out of arm’s reach, so it sounded.
I opened my eyes, bright moonlight piercing through them.
As my sight balanced I continued to lay still. I looked up. I found myself distinguishing branches. The tops of needle like Pine pricked the sky above.
Pine trees painted as silhouettes against a dark blue sky.
I was in a wildwood.
A dark figure loomed over me, the mood light and darkness casting a shadow, masking their face
My hand began to burn.

—–

Cold. All she could remember was the cold, overwhelming, shattering, It made her feel alive. 

Her dream, like a fleeting memory of another world faded away as the sound of  a manic alarm pierced through the quiet sounds of morning. She lay for a moment, keeping her eyes shut and state of mind dreamy, attempting to recollect what she could from the night before.
It was so familiar, the overwhelming feeling of cold that she could recall. It was so vivid, like no other dream she could remember.
Shuffling forward, she felt around her bed sheets, when her hand met it’s metallic cold touch she quickly snatched up her phone. The alarm, that had so annoyingly been blaring through the quiet sounds of morning, was shut off with no lack of haste. It was then that the girl went to open her ‘notes’ on the device, this was where all of her peculiar dreams were kept. She typed down all she could recall, her fingers missing some letters as she wrote with haste.

  • Cold 
  • Laying down
  • Windy
  • Night

Her memory was fleeting, escaping her mind, she typed quickly.

  • Person

Keep reading

Hamlet and Melancholy - essay by Peter Holbrook

No science has yet explored the inferno in which were forged the deformations that later emerge to daylight as cheerfulness, openness, sociability, successful adaptation to the inevitable, an equable, practical frame of mind.

–Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life (1951); trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London, 1974), p. 59.

The possibility of this sickness [of despair] is man’s advantage over the beast.

–Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death (1849), trans. Alastair Hannay (London, 1989), pp. 44-5.

Hamlet is English literature’s great melancholic: like Shakespeare’s fellow dramatist John Webster (as characterized by T.S. Eliot), the Prince of Denmark is ‘much possessed by death’.  The play opens with the appearance of Hamlet’s father’s ghost and concludes with a graveyard scene, followed by Hamlet’s death along with those of many others.  Hamlet’s death-drenched atmosphere drew a rebuke in 1930 from the critic G. Wilson Knight, who in a brilliant (and typically idiosyncratic) essay portrayed Hamlet as more than half in love with easeful Death—as an enemy of life.  For Knight, Claudius’s court at Elsinore was essentially a fun-loving, sensual place, and Hamlet a sort of sex-hating, spectral, neurotic ascetic. It is a perverse interpretation, one that fails to take account of Hamlet’s own sense of fun (see his send-ups of Polonius) or his warm, lively, wholesome relationships with others, from his friend Horatio to the actors who visit Elsinore.  But you can see how such a view of Hamlet might come about: he often seems to speak to us from beyond the grave, which, in the ‘To be, or not to be’ speech, he imagines both in terms of an afterlife and as total dissolution (it’s not clear which vision of death prevails in the play).

But another way in which melancholy enters into the world of Hamlet is in the form of social and political critique.  True, the period linked melancholy to mental disorder—but also to insight, even genius. An ancient work traditionally assigned to Aristotle had asked why those distinguished in philosophy, politics, poetry, or the arts happened to be melancholic; and the Renaissance humanist Marsilio Ficino had likewise associated genius with melancholy. So melancholy might yield knowledge.  In Hamlet Shakespeare seems to find something of value in the melancholic temperament—in particular, he associates it with an attitude of reflectiveness about political and social matters.

What is problematic in the play is the kind of coercive happiness urged by Claudius (the Usurper) and the all-too-human Gertrude. The Queen urges Hamlet to have done with grief for his father:

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust.

Thou know’st ’tis common: all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.

(1.2.68-73)

And Claudius follows suit, telling Hamlet that

                                     … to persever

In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impious stubbornness, ’tis unmanly grief,

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,

An understanding simple and unschool’d;

For what we know must be, and is as common

As any the most vulgar thing to sense—

Why should we in our peevish opposition

Take it to heart?

(1.2.92-101)

 

In both speeches Hamlet is taken to task for separating himself from the ordinary course of grief—which, it is accepted, must eventually have a conclusion: one should have done with mourning because it is non-functional, non-adaptive; it unfits one for life.  Notice too that non-normative grieving of Hamlet’s kind marks one out as un-‘common’.  Melancholy singularizes Hamlet, separates him from others.  But it also marks him off from what turns out to be a profoundly seamy and corrupt world, indeed a murderous tyranny.  Hamlet refuses the kind of compulsory contentment Gertrude’s and Claudius’s words recommend—the notion that one must fit in, play one’s part, not make waves.  

Precisely, then, because it puts us outside society, melancholy is potentially a source of critical insight. It is significant that Claudius reproaches Hamlet for resisting what the King presents as the natural order of things.  Hamlet’s behavior is ‘obstinate’, a piece of ‘stubbornness’ and ‘peevish opposition’ that shows ‘a mind impatient’.  Obstinacy, stubbornness, non-compliance: not qualities dear to tyrants and slave-drivers, who prefer to rule over happy idiots rather than unhappy thinkers.  

Hamlet is deeply critical of tyranny. And melancholy—which is, and not to put too fine a point on it, noticing how atrocious things are—is a precondition for real criticism.  Glass-half-full types are unlikely to mount a revolution, or stand up to a dictator.  Witness one of Hamlet’s most famous speeches, his confession of melancholy to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, apparently old friends of Hamlet’s but now working as Claudius’s spies. ‘I have of late’, observes Hamlet to these bootlickers,

…but

wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all

custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily

with my disposition that this goodly frame, the

earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most

excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave

o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted

with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to

me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!

how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how

express and admirable! in action how like an angel!

in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the

world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,

what is this quintessence of dust? (2.2.297-310)

Hamlet here speaks to an old theme in tragedy, that of dissolution and futility. Man may well be ‘the beauty of the world’, ‘the paragon’, or ideal type, ‘of animals’, but it is all for naught, because, like the ‘Golden lads and girls’ of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, he will eventually ‘come to dust’ (4.2.262, 263). But Hamlet’s pessimism has a social, as well as a metaphysical, cause—has as much to do with tyranny as with mortality. He is led to this despairing vision of life only fifty or so lines after declaring to these spies that ‘Denmark’s a prison’ (2.2.244). What Hamlet responds to is life in a political and social prison; and what presses in upon him is the enormous gap that exists between what man could be and what, under such conditions, he actually is.  Man is ‘infinite’ in potential or ‘faculties’—he really could be almost anything, could have the power and rational self-direction and dignity of an ‘angel’ or a ‘god’—if only he was permitted to develop these powers.  But instead he is worth no more than ‘dust’, is nothing more than a slave and prisoner. Shakespeare seems to have been preoccupied in Hamlet with this theme of a human potential (most obviously, Hamlet’s) thwarted by tyranny.      Later in the play Hamlet muses on the true ends of a properly human life:  ‘What is a man’, he asks,

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed?  A beast, no more.

Sure he that made us with such large discourse,

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and godlike reason

To fust in us unused.  (4.4.33-9)

Hamlet asserts that the principal ‘good’ and profit or purpose of human life is the free exercise of rational and discursive powers (consciousness being the faculty that, at least here, marks us off from the animals).  Our Maker, he claims, did not give us consciousness—this ‘godlike reason’ and ‘large discourse’ (or power of speech)—for it to grow mouldy in us through lack of use. But of course it is precisely under a tyranny that such ‘capabilities’ as reason and speech fall into decay—because the last thing a tyrant wants, of course, is a populace speaking and reasoning freely.  Tyrants want their subjects distracted by sleeping, feeding, sex, entertainments.  They prefer ruling passive and unthinking ‘beasts’ rather than reflective and inquiring human beings.   Claudius’s problem is that the Prince of Denmark is not such a ‘beast’: he’d rather think and be unhappy than not think and be happy. Perhaps in that sense Hamlet is a model for us today.

BIO

Peter Holbrook is Professor of Shakespeare and English Renaissance Literature at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Chair of the International Shakespeare Association, which is holding its tenth World Congress in Stratford-upon-Avon and London in the Summer of 2016.  His most recent book is English Renaissance Tragedy: Ideas of Freedom (London: Bloomsbury/Arden Shakespeare, 2015), from which some material has been borrowed for this essay.

All Shakespeare quotations are taken from The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works, ed. Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson and David Scott Kastan; Consultant Editor Harold Jenkins (London: Methuen, 2001).

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
—  William Shakespeare
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
—  Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 3, Page 13
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“I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth. And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! How like an angel in apprehension. How like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor women neither. Nor women neither.” - Withnail (Hamlet Soliloquy)

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
—  William Shakespeare
Hamlet Act II Scene 2 (NTL Hamlet trailer)
Benedict Cumberbatch
Hamlet Act II Scene 2 (NTL Hamlet trailer)

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” ~ Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2 [Audio Excerpt from Hamlet NTL Trailer]

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“This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

- Hamlet, act 2 , scene 2

costume by me, photos by the wonderful @fortuitoussstarfish

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth. And indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours! What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! How like an angel in apprehension. How like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me, no, nor women neither. Nor women neither.”.

President John Sheridan: [reads from what ‘looks like the opening of G'Kar’s Declaration of Principles’] The universe speaks in many languages but only one voice. The langage is not Narn or human or Centauri or Gaim or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope. 

G'Kar: It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us. And the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: “We are one.” No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star: we are one. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear: we are one. Here gathered together in common cause we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule: that we must be kind to one another. 

President John Sheridan: [continues reading] Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost, diminishes us. We are the voice of the universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one. 

G'Kar: We are one. 

Babylon 5, 5X3