Halfway through April. But this isn’t the present tense I expected.
I don’t believe it was not without intention that Shakespeare wrote “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow […], rather than today, and today, and today. In the same short speech he writes of yesterday – but never of today. Never the present. And wasn’t that MacBeth’s problem? He desired a future, he feared a future, and he never settled into the moment. It was for him – is for me – always about tomorrow. Where “what-is” is defined: as concise as a definition, as solid an object. There is no bleeding at the edges, no messy liminality. And unlike the past, there are no unintended repercussions.
The future is a clean concept.
MacBeth’s reign as king signifies/will signify nothing because he never actually inhabits the real world. The wicked sisters lead him away from it. His thoughts are on tomorrow, which will then slip from his sight as he focuses on the next tomorrow. At a petty pace.
Until it is suddenly mid-April. And there is still no present significance. Everything is still in the to-do column of the list.
The garden is still untended. The books, not yet written. The past is an emotional soundscape. And we know – from history – that it will always be interpreted by fluid, random signifiers.
Maybe the real mistake is just craving significance.
Knowing that tomorrow will be the past is probably part of the reason I struggle with procrastination. It’s not my future present that I am pushing ahead of me with every breath, it is the weight of the future past.
So much unnecessary effort. So much sound and fury.
No – I don’t really think Shakespeare (or Fletcher) intended all that can be extrapolated in a close reading of any of the plays.
All poetry is part Rorschach, part prophecy, isn’t it?
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“Maybe the real mistake is just craving significance.” This. Exactly this. And you’re right about poetry.