Political Symbol

Once I was having lunch with a friend. I can’t remember which symphony by which composer that I said I really liked when I was back in college, but I do remember what this friend said in reply, not her exact words, but the fact that when one says one like a symphony by a composer, one is supposed to say who’s the conductor and which symphony orchestra he directed. Well, she went to an elite college and I didn’t. I guess this is the difference. However I am not sophisticated enough to know about the musicians hard at work and I don’t even like music that much. So I am content with my unfashionable ignorance of just like the music itself. By the way, the friend was really doing this to be kind since I told her to correct my pronunciation and grammar as much as she likes and it wouldn’t offend me. I am not trying to shed my immigrant self to become as much as one possibly can an American born Asian. My Asian self and my experiences are very important to me and my writing. If I shed them, what will become of me? However I also don’t want to be one of those stubborn immigrants who’s only purpose is to “beat work” and to earn money without much of an interest to learn what this society is about. I love the phrase “beat work” although it translates into English badly. “Beat work” means the kind of work that’s so boring and repetitive that if you don’t beat yourself (a kind of mental flagellation to be more accurate), you won’t be able to handle.

I really like “Twelfth Night” even if I dislike Shakespeare and his weird English–the verb, the conjugation, the tense, the sequence are all messed up. The reason I like it is because it can be an immigrant story of two siblings losing contact with each other, then reuniting through chance encounters and accidents. So to follow my friend’s advice, I need to state which director’s Twelfth Night I like. However I am too lazy to look it up, but I do remember that the one I am talking about is a movie with Sir Humphrey from “Yes Minister” playing Malvolio and Helena playing Olivia. I forgot her last name. Isn’t it strange that I dislike Shakespeare, but I start to like watching Shakespeare movies and lectures on Shakespeare–the movies have visual cues and plots to help one understand, and the lectures are in understandable English, thankfully.

Now this lecture on YouTube by Professor Cantor of U. of Virginia actually says Malvolio is a political symbol for puritan, who in the Elizabethan era wants to ban all pleasure. Well, I thought he’s a symbol for comedy–like Sir Humphrey. I can’t remember Malvolio making political statements. Probably when he scolded Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria, he touched on politics. I wonder if the puritans started an era of probition during Shakespeare’s time. Probably not. If they achieved that, probably Shakespeare would not even exist since theatre is one thing on their black list of forbidden pleasure.

Since the movie is only half the play and a lot of texts are omitted, I have to go back to Kindle to read the whole thing, with the aid of BBC YouTube audio. Is there really a political debate between the fool and Malvolio on the politics of pleasure? I guess the fool will jest while Malvolio is haughty. Will this make the debate more interesting or less effective?

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