Richard Lutz peers through the leaves of his past week.
That guy on the left is, for those born on the outer rings of Saturn, William Shakespeare. He’s an author who must be one of the envies of the literary world: after 400 years people still read him, watch him, quote him. I would think Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Baldwin, Lessing and Co would only wish as much.
But that’s not enough for students at the posh, Ivy League, University of Pennsylvania. They grabbed a portrait of the author off the walls of the school’s English department, saying he didn’t represent “a diverse range of writers”. In effect, they censored him.
As a mere, and rather minor, theatre critic who covers the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, I can tell you I have watched troupes from Johannesburg, India, Japan and, yea, even the United States take a flutter on his centuries old works. You never seen an African production of Juliue Caesar? My god, it ripped ripples through 1,000 spines
And speaking of spines and spinelessness, the professors at the U of P (as it is known) didn’t even put the picture back up, but began negotiating with the students about how to replace it. Did I use the word spineless? I think I did.
Shakespeare would have had a ball with this one…probably a ribald comedy about the folly of youth and the brainlessness of narrow mindedness. As the boy wrote in that most suburban of comedies The Merry Wives of Windsor: “This is as mad as a mad dog.”
And talking of mad dogs, hey, Vlad ‘The Bad’ Putin. Did his minions rig the American election to hand it to a jerk? Did his sports czars inject dope into their athlete’s bloodstreams to rig the Olympics? Is his army bombing the guts out of Aleppo? And is he really a pal of Trump…really? Call me confused.
And with that, and with nary a tingle of a reindeer’s sleighbell, now to Christmas cards.
I sit at a weary table. I go through the contact book. Should Mike H deserve a card after not responding for eleven years? Should Maggie F finally be dropped from the list after impenetrable silence? Is Auntie Gerry dead? Should Steve McM be ignored after that stupid comment about…well, you get the idea.
Then I think. How many folks dropped me from their list? I can do a cross check over the past 19 years, indicating who has sent me a card that hasn’t been replied by me. I can do a spreadsheet. I can…actually, I can do a lot of things like not send any cards out and not be taken in by the card suppliers’ con-job that it is.
But the cards sit there on the table. Pictures of snowballs, sleepy dogs in front of a fire, fir trees, kids on sledges. I succumb. Out go the cards to Auntie Gerry, Steve, Maggie and Mike with all the rest. I stay inside the ring for another year.
I take a break from the card writing to my listless back yard, now called The Garden of Sisyphus. Are there more leaves this year? Does it end?
It’s the third time that I have raked the damn things up, many of them soggy with December damp and decorated with the remains of rotten apples that windfell this past week and are now so crappy that the squirrel ignore them. A garden expert, self-professed by the way, who knows how to go on and on about gardens incessantly, tells me trees can’t increase leaf production. It is all in my imagination; an imagination, I have to say, that’s in a semi-permanent autumnal state as are…
“Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang….”
That, by the way all you U of P dumbos, is from Shakespeare.