Beyond Yoric

Imagine in your walking that you come upon a local cemetery, one you know well because it’s where your family has been buried through the ages. Imagine also that it’s getting to be a crowded place and that the sexton (gravedigger) has need to prepare a new grave.  You’ve been away. So, you chat to catch-up on the news. The sexton’s efforts bring forth the skull of someone known to you and your family.  The sexton is able to provide narrative about that skull and the soul which inhabited it – tales of good, mainly the good and memorable that connects to you.  It’s the skull of someone known to you as a child and your memories tumble forth in your mind’s chatter.  Your curiosity interrupts you.  You know this region well. Your conversation shifts to the newly needed plot and for whom it is being prepared. Someone’s died. Someone you have known. That’s pretty much how young Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play comes upon Ophelia’s death, the death of a young lady from court that Hamlet should perhaps have wedded. There’s regret.  Hamlet finds that she’s brought about her own end – likely from the confusion and obscurity relating to his intentions towards her. Her death is part of something bigger that’s happening, the unraveling and exposure of the truth.

Globally, the play is about addressing abusive power and control and is as much about organizational wrongdoing as it is about personal or individual wrongdoing.  The plot seeks to confirm wrongdoing and to set things right from the top down and doing so requires elaborate and subtle means of addressing wrongs. People get hurt along the way, most notably those who surround the throne; by the end of the play Ophelia’s father, Polonnius, dies as does her brother, Laertes.

Death and change have been a part of Life in the past few weeks. In some ways it seems we are left reeling or perhaps numb in moving on from what’s been at play.  In other ways the lesson to take away is that change does occur and it’s needed if Life and Lives are to improve. Hamlet, the sexton, Yoric (Hamlet Senior’s jester), Ophelia and the funeral come to mind with these photos of grave markers. It astounds me to consider what any of these Lives (as represented by these grave markers) has been comprised of, even only those lives memorialized by rock within these photos. Each Life has seen the bad and good in our history.  Each have been at play within history.  And, each has found a way to make a go of living Life.  I am struck by how often the cross is representative of the Life that has been lived.

Listening to – Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds perform Gravedigger, then its Anna Begins by the Counting Crows and You Might Die Trying by the Dave Matthews Band;  Coldplay’s What If and Jack Johnson’s Rodeo Clowns also have featured in this evening’s listening.

Quote to Inspire – “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

8 thoughts on “Beyond Yoric

  1. A short piece of writing brought to mind by your pictures and words, From the Falkland Islands, war graves.

    A small white cross
    In a place not home,
    is all that they have
    For a life of their own.

    Who comes to see
    what the remains of a life?
    Who feels the pain
    that waits within?

    It is not glory
    that lives in this place.
    Just loss and sorrow
    under a small white cross.

    Jim

    1. Jim …

      There’s wrestling, here, with what war is, why one chooses a warring role and the equalization of souls brought forth in death. There’s also the business of who understands the cost(s) … perhaps beyond family, fellow soldiers and veterans. It must be something to defend an outpost such as the Falkland Islands when the people there choose to be British over Argentine. Other people’s choice(s) direct a soldier’s path and there’s distance between their choice and the soldier’s actions in war. The white cross perhaps highlights the sacrifice that not too many would make for others … there’s something of courage and honour, there. In the Edmonton cemetery where the military graves are clustered, at center is a huge white cross fifty feet tall; on its side in metal work is a huge sword – their similar ‘t’ structure is paired.

      The short piece of writing … the Falklands and you share history?

      Take good care of your good self …

      1. The graveyard was for Argentine conscripts, mostly unknown when they were buried. About 120 wooden crosses looking across Goose Green. I was there a while after the war, looking after one of the radars. Stuff still goes on, planes flying etc. I was lucky to be able to see a lot of the Islands, not just the remnants of war. But the loneliness of the small graveyard still stays with me. The families unable to visit, it is the islanders who maintain the graves.

        It is the 30th Anniversary of the war and we are still in conflict all over the world. I see the troops arriving back in the news and remember my time in the military. You take the money and go where they send you.

        Jim

  2. I often ponder the though of why one life, even if it lasts, say, 80 years, becomes so minuscule in the big picture of time, yet that one life, at the time that it existed, was so substantial, to so many people.

    Pondering is interesting, although ultimately, it all comes under the heading of “there are no answers to the questions”, so we simply continue to ponder…

    1. If you get into the Hebraic perspective, there are celebrations of the part each Life plays in moving the all of history forward. The ritual memorializes the lives of history … perhaps as a means to deal with the pondering you highlight. Curious, eh?

    1. Russell – Am I right in thinking San Diego has a history stretching back between two and three centuries? Cemeteries also landmark the narrative of people and a municipality … and they are places of remembrance. Let me know about what you find or perhaps post some shots. 🙂

      1. The funny thing is that the city was founded in 1542 but nothing here dates back farther than around 1860 or so unless you go to the Indian lands, and the Indians won’t let us do anything on their lands because of all their spiritual beliefs. When it comes to history, this is a really frustrating place to live.

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