A Shakespearean Glance at the People and Issues of the Day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007



Not a Shakespearean word, in fact the Japanese term for "long time no see," but since nothing that is human is foreign to Shakespeare, I use it to welcome myself back from a long absence occasioned by the birth of my and my wife's first child, Isaiah Yuuki Abrams.

"For this the foolish over-careful fathers
Have broke their sleep with thoughts,
Their brains with care, their bones with industry."

So says Henry IV. Henry is mistaken in his belief that his son, Prince Hal, thirst or hungers for the crown, when in fact the Prince hungers only for his father's approval, and for the education that he requires for his future reign.

"To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it."

Theseus, the local prince, says this to Hermia, a young lady who defies her father's dictate concerning whom she is to marry in A Midsummer's Night Dream. Frankly, this one's a bit biblical for my taste.

As for me, I learned about the exercise of authority primarily from a series of dance classes my wife and I took before she became pregnant. The leader's role, I found, was to signal the next dance move (be it a spin, turn, or - usually in my case - continuation of whatever we were doing), then decide on what the next move will be in advance, selecting something that one's partner can handle, then communicate its signal clearly and sufficiently in advance, and then execute the move correctly with one's partner. This proved to be a confoundingly difficult, largely thankless and invisible role. But without it there would be no dancing.

Moreover, it is special pleading for Theseus, an aristocratic ruler, to argue for the unassailable nature of fathers, even if it makes intuitive sense for authority to flow, if flow more gently, from the parent to the child. As a counter-example, I met this week in an IHOP parking lot a set of parents who had been to every Best Buy in Charlotte, NC that morning, searching in vain for an available Nintendo game for their grandchild's Christmas. I hope that I would not ever pander to such expectations of my own child - though as to my grandchild, who can say?).

But wax imprints are not a model of humanity that appeals to me.

"I have done nothing but in care of thee."

Prospero says this to his daughter Miranda in The Tempest. And this strikes more at the heart of parenthood. The question of authority is secondary to the answer of love, and the sense of discovered purpose, that lies at the core of fatherhood.

Bardseyeview, in these of my child's early years, will therefore be only tenuously revived, but the Bard's view on the issues of the day will be presented where spare hours allow.

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