“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages…”
“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
Today is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Oddly, the same date – April 23rd, 1616 – applies to the death of Cervantes, arguably the second-greatest figure in Western literary history.
So the two greatest geniuses in Western literature died on the same day?!* How bizarre is that?
Some VT readers might smell a conspiracy.
Those of the Islamophobic persuasion might imagine that the dreaded Saracen terrorists killed off Western civilization by way of two “simultaneous attacks in different places,” sort of like al-Qaeda supposedly did with the two African embassies; the Pentagon and WTC on 9/11; the Charlie Hebdo offices and kosher deli; the Brussels Airport and metro station … you know the drill.
Twin attacks. Twin towers. Twinning and ritual sacrifice. For details, listen to Tom Breidenbach discuss 9/11 as a ritual sacrifice.
So…the twin literary towers of the West fell on the same date, 400 years ago. Controlled implosion or coincidence?
And while we’re pondering that, let’s consider some of the ways that Shakespeare and Cervantes pre-figured the Last World War, otherwise known as the phony “war on terror.”
Both of our Twin Towers of Western Literature are notable for inaugurating the notion that language far outstrips reality, creating the world rather than merely describing it. In so doing they undermined authoritative accounts of reality of the type M.M. Bakhtin described as monologic, in favor of ever-unfinished dialogue giving rise to irreducible polyphony.
Shakespeare staged worlds within worlds out of sheer linguistic excess. For him, we’re told, all the world was a stage, and the play was the only thing.
Cervantes, after being captured and enslaved by the Saracens and later ransomed, saw that authoritative romanticized accounts of heroic crusading battles, and the official Christian discourses behind them, were absurd. For him, the crusading hero is always a Don Quixote, a legend in his own mind, drunk on language and headed for a fall … or at least a pratfall.
Taken together, Shakespeare and Cervantes, these twin monuments, this Joachim and Boaz of Western Lit, opened up cultural possibilities that the West has spent 400 years exhausting. Ours has been the age of unbelief; literature (and artistic expression in general) along with science have become substitute religions. And what art and science have in common is that they are both ever-unfinished products of human creativity.
At their best, they radiate beauty by revealing Truth. At their worst, they revel in the Lie in service to the insatiable human ego.
Today we inhabit an ego-driven culture of lies. And our unholiest temple of our biggest lie is:
That’s right: We worship lies. We no longer believe in anything, least of all Truth.
We have lost faith in nihilism.
We are at the end of the road.
If our acts are seven ages, we’re at the tail end of the seventh age … a cultural condition corresponding to terminal senility.
Last night’s radio guest Ibrahim Soudy listed some books whose titles describe our predicament:
Crazy Like Us: the Globalization of the American Psyche; The Closing of the American Mind; Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a virtue in the Land of the Free; Dumbing Us Down; The Dumbest Generation (on millenials); Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat Loud Lazy and Stupid; The Age of American Unreason.
But it isn’t just America. It’s Western culture that’s in decline; the USA is just the toxic bleeding edge of a nihilistic sword that’s beheading the whole world.
And they want us to believe that ISIS is the problem.
The problem isn’t ISIS. The problem, as Ken O’Keefe explains in ANOTHER French False Flag, is that “ISIS is US.”
And the solution, believe it or not, is Islam. Not phony ISIS Islam, not dumbed-down fundamentalist Islam, not Sunni or Shia or even Sufi Islam, but just plain “islam” meaning surrender to God.
And that, by the way, is The Secret of Shakespeare – the title of a brilliant book by British Muslim convert Martin Lings, one of the all-time greatest explicators of Islam and Sufism in English. Shakespeare’s plays, properly understood, are actually about God. (No wonder Sufis call the Bard “ash-Shaykh al-Kabir,” The Great Shaykh.”)
According to Lings, we have been misreading Shakespeare for 400 years, thinking his only concern was with the human, all-too-human. That’s the “humanistic” reading. Lings begs to differ, situating Shakespeare squarely in the realm of sacred art, which:
“…is art which conforms to canons laid down not by individuals but by the spiritual authority of the civilization in question…a medieval portrait is above all a portrait of the Spirit shining from behind a human veil.” (p. 12)
A sacred story, like a sacred work of visual art, is a set of symbols that reveal Reality (or Spirit).
Today, our leading storytellers, like Philip “Specialist in the Construction and Maintenance of Public Myths” Zelikow, author of the bestselling pulp fiction novel the 9/11 Commission Report, do not believe in the Real, much less the Spirit. They think, as Karl Rove put it, that “we’re an Empire now, and we create our own reality.” They think they can just make stuff up – the more outlandish the better, or so it sometimes seems.
See my article: All the World’s a Stage – for False Flag Terror
But the Real has a way of reasserting itself.
So on this solemn occasion, the 400th anniversary of the demise of the two all-time greatest modern literary artists, it behooves us to remember the Qur’anic injunction:
They plot, and Allah plots. And Allah is the best of plotters.
*Actually Spain and England were using different calendars, so the two literary greats died on different days, but their official death-dates are both listed as 4/23/1616.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.
He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS, and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.
Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.