Jan 222012
 

A.O. Scott’s review of “Shame” in The New York Times alludes to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

I just saw the movie which is interesting, artful.  And it fully captures what Shakespeare described in these two lines:

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme.

But the movie, for all its art, the amazing performance of Michael Fassbender, totally lacks the insight Shakespeare expresses in the next lines.  Shakespeare gets that what we seek is not just “a joy proposed,” not just “behind, a dream.”
It is, in fact, a heaven.

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