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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hamlet Under Almond Bough

"To be or not to be --that is the question:..." (Hamlet, act 3, scene 1). It seems insoluble, or so it has seemed to me since childhood. I began reading Shakespeare in 1963 and understood it was an important question. I turned 14 that year and was very fit --owing to the physical standards promoted in schools by the Kennedy administration. We were not strangers to tragedy, nor was Shakespeare. There comes a time at which one may become too fit. That is when we begin to think far beyond ourselves. A mere 55 years later, Norma showed me 3 of her photos, which resolved the question. Here is the 1st:




We are still invited to ask: To be or not to be? But are no closer to a solution. Therefore, under the almond blossoms we are tempted to repeat --perhaps with minds more opened...


...to be?

It is at this point of enquiry we must examine the question itself. Is it phrased in such a way that it can be answered? Not easily. This is where semantics must be invoked. We must remove the object of the preposition in favor of an object of nature. "To be" must emerge into nature from its long tenure behind the Bard's brow. Given these grammatical modifications and simple addition, the answer is obvious:


                                      Two Bees.




22 comments:

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    1. Most kind, Bruce, especially in a comment ahead of a rather embarrassing cyber-moment for me. I switched browsers and was checking the act and scene of my opening quote --unaware that the site had attached a steaming load of machine language to my visit. Returned to blog 2hours after posting and to my horror found a page full of repetitious links that had no business there. My flying fingers have corrected the problem but I wonder, is anyone else having trouble with Firefox or Bing?

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  2. Might they be(e) named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

    Clever photography and patience.

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    1. Your generous comment will reach the photographer in the morning, Tom. Thanks. And truly, despite Stoppard's delightfully absurdist title, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are alive and well and still tending the almond tree.

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  3. Norma is an amazing photographer. Two be(es) are always better than not two be(es). Sadly we don't see many around here any more. Our pollinators are disappearing.

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    1. Thanks Delores. About 1/2 our crops --most noticeably, almonds-- are pollinated by bees. Many states have been limiting the use of certain pesticides and herbicides and reporting some success restoring bee population, but it's going to take a very long time.

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  4. Now I would have thought that the question was really asking, "Can I be bothered?" Your answer was so much better.

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    1. Tom, I suspect the truth is somewhere hidden among all the philosophers --probably French, perhaps Descartes, or Voltaire-- something like "To be is to be bothered" ("Être et être derange?"). I used this method to survive several classes in school.

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  5. The photos are wonderful as Normaphotos always are. I think it is more of a question of what will I be than whether I will be. It is a good time now for people to be what they will.

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    1. Normaphoto compliment delivered to Norma -thanks! I like your "what I will be" idea because we are always in the process of becoming.

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  6. No problems with Firefox here - I hope you have not had a repeat of the problem.

    Your "two bees" logic is impeccable, as all your logic is. And the photos are wonderful, as all Norma's photos are.

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    1. Glad to hear of no browtages there. Here, I ended up having to uninstall Firefox and reinstall it with the added precaution of extending my Frontier-Secure protection to ok every address visited. Bing did what it did with my 1st posting of this piece because of my unfamiliarity with it. Everything's clean and safe now! Thanks for your good encouragement --but honestly most of my logic is...uh...peccable.

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  7. I think Shakespeare would have loved this. And I always admire your unique and refreshing perspective.

    The photos are amazing. I don't think I've ever seen almond blossoms before. Or bees enjoying them.

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    1. Dear Jon. Thanks from Norma and me. Almond blossoms are something I've always marveled at and encountered in places I've lived. Chico, '70,'71, was an almond metropolis --still is, I imagine. Bees everywhere. Before that, in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains --almonds and bees. Glad to have them here too, and so are the squirrels by and by.

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  8. When my parents lived on a Catalonian mountain they had an almond tree, and too many bees to name, though we did appreciate every one of their efforts at harvest time. One must always remember the significance of Beeing.

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    1. A region known for almonds and Cava must have a lot of bees. I suspect Daughter was correct 30 years ago when she pointed at bees and named them each "Bead". She was 3 or 4 years old and would NOT be corrected, so we never tried. I now call them all Bead. However, beeing an amateur naturist...--I mean naturalist (which one do I have to be naked for?)-- I theorize they call each other Bee-1, Bee-2 etc. like vitamins, and so on into the billions. Good thing too.

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  9. Haha...brilliant!!
    You deserve a degree in literature...for finally coming up with the answer to one of the world's most enigmatic questions! *smiles*
    Oh this is WONDERFUL...as are Norma's beautiful photos...
    thank you so much! :))

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    1. Thanks, Ygraine. I nearly did get a degree in literature but withdrew from an adversarial course in Restoration Drama. I told the prof. that its plots never exceeded juvenile social interaction, and that comedy was rescued by Oscar Wilde. In the U.S., some teachers felt they could inflict any nonsense because students would be drafted (lose 2-S deferment) if they flunked us. I value your conference of that degree more than I would any from the schools I attended. Thank YOU!

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  10. I agree with Jenny. And I have a question. Enquiry vs Inquiry. Do you have a reason for using one over the other? I've wondered if one is more correct or if it is a tomato-to ma to situation. I tend to use enquiry for outgoing and inquiry for incoming but I can find no evidence to support my instinct except that I might be a reincarnated English soul.

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    1. You're quite right, "enquiry" is a UK spelling serving the same semantic function as "inquiry" in the US. In fact, the Revolutionary War was declared specifically over this issue. Then Fred and Ginger sang Geo. Gershwin's excellent song about tomato-tomahto which, I recall closed with "let's call the whole thing off!", and resulted in the end of the American Revolutionary War. So we can spell it however it feels ok at the time.

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    2. Norma's photographs are stunning! (I tried my best to be the next Diane Arbus and failed big time). Regarding Sir Shakespeare: The class I took on this tragedy claimed that his immortal words meant to act or not to act.

      ACTION. I'll never forget it. Because I have always been very slow to act or react. I choose to remain still and calm, but it's not so easy in a world that thrives on ambition and 60 hours work per week.

      Dear Geo, you know what I mean. A most thought provoking post! Your great prose is equal to your great poetry :-)

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    3. You honor and encourage us, Dylan. Thanks. I agree, the quote functions as contemplation of action, but also gets more grimly fundamental as it rues the Biblical prohibition "'gainst self-slaughter".

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