Shakespeare, Geography and Education

map of saudi arabia and reference to Shakespeare quote on education. EVANS. I pray you, have your remembrance, child; Accusativo, hing, hang, hog. MISTRESS QUICKLY. Hang hog is Latin for bacon, I warrant youEVANS. I pray you, have your remembrance, child; Accusativo, hing, hang, hog.
Hang hog is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.

(Merry Wives of Windsor, act 4, sc.1)

Even the regime media had a good time in reporting the comments of an unnamed, though well-placed senior State Department High Priest who, when in Saudi Arabia, declared that,

“ISIL has been, I think, a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region. They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria … So what we have here is a galvanizing threat from ISIL that is, I think, leading our Sunni partners in the region to join us along the range of potential capabilities that my colleague mentioned.”

I am writing here not to condemn but to defend the senior State Department official’s non-knowledge of geography. Saudi Arabia has no borders with Syria – nor it is clear what he meant by the first sentence. A ‘threat’ may be real or not, but I never heard of a ‘galvanizing’ threat. Galvani was an 18th century Italian physicist who experimented with frogs and electricity. But even admitting a meaning to the confused, ISIL is nominally fighting for the Sunnis, who until the ISIL’s onslaught, were persecuted by the US-installed Iraqi government. And I will leave it to better philologists than me, to decipher the meaning of the last sentence. Ambiguity is the stuff of new-speak and the quiver of Orwellian sentences. They infest the pompous periods of declaimers, whose purpose is often only to amuse with mendacity and change the color of truth and falsehood.

However, of the mystery senior State Department Official, I defend not so much his creative geography or his nebulous English, but his mode of thought. Mode of thought that, in my view, is a symbol and perfect mirror of the current, prevailing American culture. And before being accused of arrogance, of presumption or of being anti-American, I state that this is not a criticism. I use the term ‘culture’ as a rough index of the prevailing set of ideas in the areas most critical to social living.

One such set concerns what is important to know, who should know it, who proves to be stupid by knowing and intelligent by ignoring it. Perhaps unconsciously, the State Department Official, with his geographical ignorance, gave proof of his intelligence.

Assuming the polls believable, 95% of Americans cannot locate Afghanistan, or Ukraine, on a map. And some readers may remember the US Congressman who, a few years ago, preached the arming of the murderous Suharto, dictator of Indonesia and genocidal killer of the East Timorese. Yet, when pointing to the world map, live on TV, the Congressman could not find Indonesia.

The question to ask, I think, is not why they don’t know, but rather why they should. And here we deal with the idea of collective consciousness. Collective consciousness is akin to public opinion but does not coincide with it.

Public opinion is what the regime media says it is. In this sense, the regime media has conditioned the minds of its followers to expect sound bytes and novelties. So that any possible pause to reason on the information received is clouded by the intervention of other novelties. Imparting notions of geography would be a profitless distraction.

But collective consciousness has a more antique pedigree. The contempt for information deemed irrelevant has its roots in the history of 19th century America and in the so-called conquest of the West. Which was the undisputed triumph of the macho-man, whose glory derived from his ability to destroy the natives and to protect the pioneer wagons (and their passengers), should the natives attempt a defense. The protection also included a defense against the forces of nature or bandits of various origin and assortments. The only need was for guns, guts and physical prowess. All else was worse than useless, because it took away precious time better used to keep up with the shooting, the killing and the conquest.

Notwithstanding all this, “man does not live of bread alone”, even in the wilderness, and the task of carrying west what we could broadly call ‘culture’ was left to the women. Instances and references to this abound in literature and in Hollywood movies. However, if women were the informal but effective depositories and carriers of culture, it followed that ‘culture’ is a “woman thing”. And the worst that can happen to a macho-man is to be associated with anything even vaguely ‘feminine’.

Applied to today’s conditions, knowledge of geography, let alone of history is ‘feminine’. In a male (and in a woman with political ambitions) it is a clear sign of weakness. And a weakness, wherever it  may be evident, is an indicator of possible other weaknesses, which eventually may signal a reluctance to crush an adversary, or to torture, to assassinate, or to incinerate him with drones. The perpetrator of these crimes should watch with indifference on a computer screen the faces that he clouds with terror and sorrow. And coolly behold every moment the effect of his own barbarities.

In the instance of Ukraine, for example, ignorance of the history of Ukraine has proven an absolute asset for the Administration, rather than a liability. It was crucial to ignore that Russia itself was born in Ukraine – Ukraine being the center, for a long time, of the Medieval state of Kievan Rus, founded in the 9th century.  “Kievan” as in “Kiev” and “Rus” as in “ Russia”.  Or that the Ukrainian and Russian languages are very similar and share the Cyrillic characters. Or that people understand each other by speaking their respective languages and share much of the Orthodox culture. Or that Ukraine became officially part of Russia in the 18th century.

Therefore, as you can agree, the unnamed senior State Department official in Saudi Arabia proved intelligent in his ignorance. Besides, the non-sensical English of his topic declaration is brilliant. Lacking meaning, it can be indifferently affirmed and denied or deciphered anyway one likes. All of this leads me to believe with reasonable certainty that the senior official holds at least an MBA (Master in Business Administration).

The attitude towards useless knowledge, developed with the conquest of the West, has transformed itself with the times while maintaining its original spirit. Any kind of knowledge is useful only if it yields a profit – otherwise it is a waste of time. The feeling exists at large, as demonstrated by the polls on geographic knowledge, and also in business.

For example, I would advise anyone who applies for a job in a corporation not to disclose his knowledge of a foreign language. Why claim a useless knowledge in the American Century when everyone speaks English? It is but a narcissistic weakness to hide the lack of more manly qualifications, thus disqualifying the candidate for that perpetual contest for wealth, which keeps the world in commotion and neo-liberal.

Useless knowledge corrupts the macho-man, who should better use his time to screw a competitor, inside and outside the establishment, or, to the limit, in a foreign country. Remember the eleventh commandment of Victoria Nuland, “Fuck the Europeans”.
(See blog

The fact that the noteworthy uttering came from a woman is not accidental. Paradoxically, the macho-man mentality has migrated to women, in business and politics. Remember H. Clinton, already anointed as the next president by the Anglo-Zionists. After Gadhafi was murdered, thanks to the US attack on Libya to effect a “regime change”, she said, “We came, we saw, he died, ha,ha,ha”. What better display of masculine temper than laughing at death, doom and destruction.

I can hear some readers’ objection. How about the famous temples of learning, the prestigious ivy-league universities?

Here we come to another signature of local culture – the iron mental curtain dividing the academic world from the “others”. Universities are business enterprises under the direction of sundry Captains of Erudition. Their product is marketable knowledge, units of erudition. Universities are competitors for the traffic in merchantable instruction, just as rival establishments in the retail trade compete for custom. Especially in non-strictly-scientific disciplines, a college degree certifies an honorable discharge and has become a requisite of gentility.

But given the spirit of the enterprise, its success is measured in profit by the corporation and in customer satisfaction – that is, how much profit the customer can make, when using the units of erudition acquired during his campus residence.

In these conditions, the idea that the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men, is possibly more desirable than the acquisition and expenditures of riches by the astuter men in the community, smacks of heresy.

The pursuit of pecuniary gains affects how men (and women) behave, and what knowledge (or lack of), they deem appropriate. The lack of knowledge (and of understandable English), as displayed by the senior State Department Official, rather than ridiculed, should be held as evidence of profound, fruitful and effective education.

In the play. The Welsh Master Evans (whose accent is reproduced by the misspellings) teaches Latin to William Page, son of Mr. and Mrs. Page. But the Welsh pronunciation prompts Mistress Quickly to deliver a sarcastic remark and to give her own interpretation to Evan’s Latin lesson.

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