April 9, 2016 · 6:40 am
Venus and Mars
A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all “hues” in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
In this romantic “fair youth” sonnet, Shakespeare explores the physical beauty he sees in the youth. He sees the young male as possessing both male and female characteristics, the best of both genders; hence the reference to the youth being “the master-mistress” of Shakespeare’s passion.
The first ten lines are pretty clear, where the poet describes the physical aspects of the facial features, and particularly on how the youth’s face has many feminine qualities. But the last four lines are of particular interest.
The ending focuses on the youth’s genitalia, particularly the fact that he has a penis. When I studied Shakespeare in college, the professor gave a lecture about Shakespeare’s use of the word “nothing.” Basically, nothing meant “no thing,” or the lack of a penis; in other words, nothing means vagina (think “Much Ado About Nothing”). So in this sonnet, Shakespeare is expressing his belief that the youth is really a woman trapped within a man’s body, that “one thing” was added to the youth’s “nothing.” He goes as far as to make a pun about how Nature “pricked thee out for women’s pleasure.” If you think about it, this is a pretty radical poem.
As I read about legislation being passed in the US that discriminates against transgender individuals, I cannot help but wonder why we have not evolved more as a society. These were clearly issues that have been dealt with for a long time now, and Shakespeare certainly seems to have been comfortable with this. Maybe our lawmakers should take some time and read more Shakespeare.
Well, enough politics for one day. Thanks for stopping by and having an open mind. Cheers!
Filed under Literature
Tagged as analysis, art, beauty, criticism, discrimination, English, fair youth, feminine, gender, homosexuality, human, imagery, legislation, literature, masculine, master, metaphor, mistress, Much Ado About Nothing, nothing, passion, poems, poetry, poets, pun, reading, renaissance, review, romantic, Shakespeare, society, sonnet, symbol, symbolism, transgender, United States
February 14, 2016 · 9:26 am
Almost immediately after the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican senators vowed to block any appointment by President Obama to fill the seat, stating that the “American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” (source: Huffington Post). To this, my brother who holds a Master’s Degree in History asserted that Republicans “quote the Constitution verbatim when it comes to ‘The right to bear arms’ but they ignore it when it comes to the President’s obligation to appoint Supreme Court justices.” I decided to read the part of the Constitution concerning appointment of Supreme Court Justices, since I had not read it since college.
[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
(Source: Cornell University Law Dept.)
The Constitution is very clear here. Nowhere does it state that the American people should select Supreme Court Justices; it is solely the President’s responsibility, and it is the responsibility of the Senate to provide “advice and consent.” Rather than obstructing the nomination, the Senate should expedite and assist in the process. This is what the Constitution demands.
I find it troubling that the US Constitution is being used in the same manner the Bible is often used—to be cited when it justifies what a group or individual believes in, but ignored when it contradicts those beliefs or opinions. The Constitution is the defining document that dictates how our government should operate and how our laws should be interpreted. If we begin to disregard sections for the sake of partisan politics, then we start down a very dangerous and slippery slope.
Filed under Non-fiction
Tagged as America, analysis, appointment, bible, constitution, Cornell, debate, democracy, Democrat, government, interpretation, law, legislation, Obama, politics, president, reading, Republican, Scalia, senate, social issues, society, Supreme Court, United States
December 7, 2015 · 5:03 pm
I generally try to avoid controversy on my blog, but it’s often not possible. Today, I decided to read the actual text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which is the subject of much debate in the wake of too many mass shootings in this country.
The actual text reads as follows:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It is important to note that the text is constructed as a single sentence. The implication, then, as I understand it from a grammatical perspective, is that all the clauses that comprise the sentence are inherently connected to each other.
“A well regulated Militia” is for me the key to this amendment and is most often glossed over. The purpose of individuals being guaranteed the right to “keep and bear Arms” is solely for the purpose of maintaining a state militia, not for personal use. Also, the text clearly states that the bearing of arms should be “well regulated.” Unfortunately, I do not see anything that even vaguely resembles “well regulated” restrictions applied to the ownership of firearms. It seems to me that common sense legislation requiring proper licensing, training, and registration should be the very least in meeting the constitutional requirement of being “well regulated.”
I’m sure that many people will disagree with my interpretation, and that’s fine. In a democracy, vigorous debate is not only encouraged but required. But debate also implies compromise. It’s my hope that both sides can come together and agree on some common-sense changes to current policy that is in line with the Second Amendment but also serves to protect the citizens of this country, because isn’t that the ultimate goal of the US Constitution, to protect the citizens?
Filed under Non-fiction
Tagged as America, analysis, bear arms, constitution, debate, firearms, grammar, guns, legislation, mass shooting, militia, politics, reading, rights, second amendment, social issues, society, states
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