Last scene of all,
That ends this strange, eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
(As You Like It, act 2, sc. 7)
Comments. Whether by chance or by the workings of the Internet spiders, the six blogs related to the contention that all the world is a stage have proven popular. It is now time to deal with the seventh stage.
Which brings me first to observe a certain similarity between this advanced beginning of the XXI century and the end of the XIXth. That time was pervaded by scientific messianism rising to the level of a cult. Yet the faith in the miracles of science was matched by a deep pessimism, as Zola readers may agree. His works are an immense conduit of pessimistic sludge.
Today we have the onslaught of marvelous gadgets born out of science, accompanied by deep pessimism (at least in the 99%). Unspoken to the collective mind and untold by the manufacturers of consent is that humans increase their presence on the earth by an ominous 3 units per second.
At the same time, the pundits impose upon the doubtful the tenet that life is the absolute Good. In the background (at least in the US), are those curious three words added to the Declaration of Independence to complete the sentence, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Incidentally, unknown to many is that the “pursuit of happiness” was a last minute substitution for “property”. Not that property was ever in question even under George III, but in the 1770s the 1% had preserved a modicum of the sense of shame.
Still, it is easy to assume that happiness is not much different from its pursuit. With the consequence that life is or must be fantastic and death unspoken.
Yet, to live without the obsessive superstition that life must be good, physically and metaphysically, enables the growth of compassion, tolerance and a respect for sorrow. The Manicheans, held as heretics by the official church, considered life as the absolute evil. The idea may not instill happiness but at least it does not stupidly add to the global disasters created by pursuing it.
To locate the previous related blogs, the “ages of men, all the world is a stage” etc.,
** The introduction to these famous Shakespeare lines is in the blog of Feb 29, 2012.
** Stage 1 – the infant, in the blog of Apr 9, 2012
** Stage 2 – the whining schoolboy, in the blog of Jun 2, 2012
** Stage 3 – the lover, in the blog of Jun 8, 2012
** Stage 4 – the soldier, in the blog of Jun 12, 2012
** Stage 5 – the judge, in the blog of Jun 18, 2012
** Stage 6 – advanced middle age, in the blog of Aug 26, 2012.
Tips for Use. Not of great use for others but an occasional helpful reminder for our own good selves.
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In the Play. Jacques philosophizes in the forest of Arden.
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