Category Archives: despair

Doctrine that points the way to revenge

Imagine yourself, writes Dalrymple, a youth in Les Tarterêts or Les Musiciens,

  • intellectually alert but not well educated
  • believing yourself to be despised because of your origins by the larger society that you were born into
  • permanently condemned to unemployment by the system that contemptuously feeds and clothes you
  • surrounded by a contemptible nihilistic culture of despair, violence, and crime

Is it not possible, he says, that you would seek a doctrine that would

  • explain your predicament
  • justify your wrath
  • point the way towards your revenge
  • guarantee your salvation

Might you not

seek a ‘worthwhile’ direction for the energy, hatred, and violence seething within you, a direction that would enable you to do evil in the name of ultimate good?

Les Tarterêts

Les Tarterêts

I have no way, and therefore want no eyes

From The Tragedie of King Lear, actus quartus, scena prima

From The Tragedie of King Lear, actus quartus, scena prima

Dalrymple writes that in these nine simple words

of great rhythmic beauty, Shakespeare not only describes utter despair but makes us feel it ourselves, or at least helps us know what it might be like to feel it. And, at the same time Shakespeare tells us that to have no way, literally or metaphorically, is the greatest of human misfortunes.

Shakespeare, says Dalrymple,

seems not only to have described but experienced his myriad characters from the inside, as it were; and because of his incomparable literary gifts, he helps us to do so as well.

On the Cliff: Gloucester and Edgar, Boardman Robinson, 1938

On the Cliff: Gloucester and Edgar, Boardman Robinson, 1938