With eerie timing our election campaign, this monster of assassinations (mostly of character) by (figurative) stabbings, and of the crazed and ruthless ambitions of those with malfunctioning moral compasses coincides with the anniversary of the first performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Yes, Shakespeare's monstrous story of grisly assassinations and wild-eyed plottings, of the ruthlessly pursued ambitions of those with malfunctioning moral compasses was first performed at London's Globe Theatre 411 years ago last Wednesday, on April 20, 1611.
No matter when one reads or sees a performance of the Scottish play it always seems to be addressing the most bitter and twisted things going on in public life in our own times. I have a copy of the play here beside me and I bet that if I close my eyes and open it at random and plonk my finger down on the page I'll hit a quote eerily pertinent to Australian party politics. Bear with me. Here I go.
Now, what have we got? Aha! Told you so! My finger has alighted on Act II, Scene III and on the alarmed and wary Donalbain's warning that "There's daggers in men's smiles. The near in blood, The nearer bloody." Donalbain is saying, shuddering, that he and his brother Malcolm are not safe where they are, in Macbeth's castle, because the men who falsely smile at them are concealing daggers, wanting their blood.
It's hard to imagine a clearer prophetic reference to the way in which in August 2018 ruthlessly ambitious Scott Morrison and his co-plotters carried out the political assassination of their Liberal leader and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, bloodily installing Scott Morrison on the throne. As Liberals the plotters and their victim were all family, "near in blood".
In his poignant memoir A Bigger Picture, the stab-scarred Turnbull looks back at ruefully at how at the time "Scott was playing a double game: [smilingly] professing public loyalty to me while at the same time allowing his supporters to undermine me."
William Shakespeare! Perfect in his depictions of vile villainy one day, uncannily prophetic the next.
The political journalists sent out on election trails are post-pubescently young and this must explain their excited reportings of the "gaffes" of Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese.
Post-pubescent young things have fairly empty but also nimble and uncluttered minds and always remember who, what and where they are. They are too junior to have senior moments.
But no one over 35 (let alone anyone like your columnist over 70) thinks it the slightest bit newsworthy that Scott Morrison (53) sometimes absent-mindedly imagines he is in parliament and so addresses a campaign trail journalist as "Mr Speaker" or that Anthony Albanese (59) fumbles over the unemployment rate or that Scott Morrison misgibbers that the JobSeeker rate is $46 a week when it is $46 a day. Once one is 35ish and beyond the mind, increasingly worn, rusting, pocked and cobwebbed (but infinitely experienced, characterful and quaint now, like an attic crammed with antiques and novelties) every day makes quirky little blunders and fumbles. The youth-dominated media's ideas that these little blunders and fumbles by politicians are momentously important in the great general election scheme of things is childishly silly.
All men of a certain age once in a while leave the house wearing their trousers the wrong way round. Surely ScoMo and Albo would do this too but for interventions of minders whose job it is to monitor these things. All mature men forgetfully mislay their spectacles, car keys, mobile phones and arthritis medications. These sorts of mini-lapses are all close psychoneural cousins of ScoMo's and Albo's inconsequential mislayings of unemployment and JobSeeker statistics.
And although I have never addressed my wife as "Mr Speaker" I have sometimes passingly mistaken her for someone or something else (I was always mistaking her for something else, perhaps an albatross, a street lamp, a hat or a vase of gerberas before I had my cataracts removed). I have several times called her "Emily" (not her name) when I am having one of my days immersed in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I have even called her "Germaine" when her own strong feminism reminds me of a particular powerful Aussie feminist trailblazer I admire (but whose surname I have forgotten for now as, as humanly as ScoMo 53 and Albo 59, I have a senior moment).
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
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