A Willow Grows Askant

A Willow Grows Askant

by Petri Salin

The Queen was annoyed. She paced up and down her chambers, up and down, up and down, and had been doing so for the past half hour. Her footfalls echoed and reverbarated in the gothic valves of the cold mediaeval castle. Where was the wretched girl? She'd been summoned over an hour ago, so where was she?

It was intolerable, quite intolerable.

It's not that things weren't bad enough as they were, the girl made them infinitely worse with her irresponsible, downright childish behaviour. It simply couldn't go on. She had to be made see reason.

A lady-in-waiting rushed in without knocking and curtseyed. ”Not in her chambers, your majesty,” she said.

Another one, older and heavier, followed. ”Not in the courtyard, your majesty,” she said, all red in the face and panting for breath.

”Go, seek once more,” the Queen cried. ”Dare not return without her.”

The ladies-in-waiting dashed off, knowing full well any protest quite futile.

The Queen's foul mood had lasted almost a day now, ever since she found the red ribbon with flowers on it in their bed; proof positive of infidelity. She'd been at the King all night, hammering away, trying to get the truth out of him, not getting a single wink of sleep nor letting him get one neither. The King had denied everything, of course he had, and she'd been tempted to believe him, sorely tempted, because she wanted to believe him. Where she stood now she did not know. She was quite confused. The lack of sleep made her slightly dizzy. She had not eaten anything all day. Just drunk wine. Goblet upon goblet of red sinewy wine. It calmed her down. Or did it?

”Not up on the castle walls, my lady,” announced a third lady-in-waiting.

If only the silly girl kept quiet, the Queen thought to herself. Then everything would be all right. It's not that she did it deliberately, but her very visage was an unspoken accusation. And the songs, the disturbing songs she kept singing at every turn. They certainly didn't help. They were all about death, the death of her father.

The Queen was sorry about that, she sincerely was. If there had been anything, anything at all that she could have done to have the unfortunate deed undone, she would not have hesitated for a second. But there was nothing. Nothing she nor anyone else could do.

Now the important thing was to get over it and get on with life. Cruel? Maybe. Harsh? Possibly. But the alternative? Unthinkable.

The girl's father was dead and that was the end of the matter.

Surely the girl must see that if someone explained it to her properly? Surely she must grasp what consequences her foolish words might have.

And there was no one else to do the explaining but the Queen.

If the girl didn't stop her seditious prattling, if she didn't hold her tongue, there was no knowing what misconceptions her hot-headed brother might fall under nor what ill-conceived ideas he might stumble upon. Then there would be more blood. That was for certain.

”No,” the Queen said aloud. ”No more blood.”

”Your majesty?” the third lady-in-waiting said and looked at her askance.

”Still here? Off with you, hence!” the Queen said and raised her voice.

The lady-in-waiting scuttled off, not quite knowing wither, not much caring. When the Queen was in one of her moods it was best to be elsewhere.

Where was the girl?

Somewhere spreading her fantastic tales of her father? Perhaps accusing the Queen's son for the foul deed? That never would do.

Suddenly it struck the Queen – flowers. The girl had been talking of flowers the previous day, funereal flowers, flowers of mourning, flowers of death. Larded with sweet flowers which bewept to the grave did go, she'd sung, and the song had chilled the Queen to her marrow. Could it be that the girl was outside the castle walls picking wild flowers?

She'd immediately send someone to look. The Queen turned around. There was nobody there. They were all out looking for the girl already. Oh well, it would have to wait. No it couldn't. She would go out looking for the girl herself.

The Queen downed the dregs of her wine. They tasted bitter in her mouth.

Out in the open she soon felt better. The sun was shining and there was a mild and pleasant breeze blowing over the barren landscape. The outdoors smelt of spring and a new beginning. She liked that. A new beginning for all. It was time to put aside the dreary cloak of death and start life anew.

She came across a brook. The glassy stream flowed with a brisk, furious pace. She started following it upstream. There were flowers everywhere. Rosemary for remembrance, pansies for thoughts, fennel and columbine, rue, daisy, roses of May. No violets, though. No violets. Then she saw her. She was standing by the crooked willow that bent halfway over the brook.

”Ophelia,” the Queen said softly.

The girl heard her not.

The willow sprouted hoar leaves, its pendent boughs coronet weeds. Ophelia had assembled herself a garland of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples that cold maids do dead men's fingers call.

”Ophelia,” the Queen said once more.

”Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?” the girl said, looking up.

”Come hither, girl,” the Queen said commandingly.

”Say you, nay, pray you, mark,” the girl said and started singing. ”He is dead and gone, lady, he is dead and gone, at his head a grass-green turf, at his heels a stone, white his shroud as the mountain snow.”

”Quiet,” the Queen said sternly. ”Be quiet!”

”They bore him barefaced on the bier, hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny, and in his grave rain'd many a tear.”

Was she doing it on purpose? Was she being deliberately difficult?

”And will he not come again? And will he not come again? No, no, he is dead, go to thy death-bed, he never will come again, his beard was as white as snow, all flaxen was his poll. He is gone, he is gone, and we cast away moan, God ha' mercy on his soul.”

Ophelia stretched her hand, trying to get at the willow's boughs and leaves to add to her garland. She took a step forward, toward the brook. The stones were wet and slippery.

”Careful, girl!” the Queen cried out. ”The current is cold and swift.”

”To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, all in the morning betime, and I a maid at your window, to be your Valentine. Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes, and dupp'd the chamber-door, let in the maid, that out a maid never departed more.”

”I'm so sorry,” the Queen said. ”So sorry for everything. Hamlet treated you poorly. But it never could have been. Surely you must understand that. Hamlet is to be king and when he weds he must wed someone of noble blood.”

Ophelia reached out, grabbed a branch to steady herself so that she could reach even farther out. Suddenly the sliver of a branch cracked and gave away. Ophelia lost her balance on the soaked rocks and took a tumble falling right into the roaring waters of the hungry brook.

The Queen did not hesitate for an instant. With one swift leap she was down by the current. She grabbed hold of Ophelia's heavy garment that had not yet been sucked under the surface and pulled out the girl as if she were a ragdoll. Ophelia did not seem to understand what just happened.

”Young men will do't, if they come to't,” she chanted. ”By cock, they are to blame, quoth she, before you tumbled me, you promised me to wed, so would I ha' done, by yonder sun, an thou hadst not come to my bed.”

”Oh poor girl,” the Queen said and folded her arms around Ophelia. ”You poor, poor girl.”

They wept together, the Queen whispering in Ophelia's ear that everything would be all right, she would see to it. It took a good long while for Ophelia to come around. The Queen petted her and stroked her hair.

That's when she noticed the red ribbon in Ophelia's hair. There were flowers on it. Flowers she'd seen before.

Suddenly everything made sense. Ophelia's madness. The King's strange behaviour. Everything. She'd been so blind, so trusting. Why had she never noticed the King's tone of voice when he called the girl my pretty Ophelia. He called her pretty so often. He always called her pretty. She should have noticed.

And now the King had taken his pretty Ophelia to his bed. The Queen's bed.

”I hope all will be well,” Ophelia said. ”We must be patient. But I
cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i' the cold ground. And so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.”

The Queen helped the girl up.

”You poor girl,” she said and pushed Ophelia in the brook, to muddy death.

”Good night, sweet lady, good night.”

She watched till there was nothing more to watch.

”Drown'd, drown'd,” she murmured. ”Poor mermaid, pretty Ophelia.”

Then she returned to the castle, the bearer of bad tidings.


A Man of My Kidney

Falstaff was a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth's. She so much enjoyed the chubby rake's wit and scathing humour in Henry IV that she ordered Shakespeare to write a new play with him in it, a play about Sir John in love. Which is precisely what the Bard did. He wrote The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Of course there's absolutely no proof that the Queen ever commissioned the play. No tangible facts whatsoever. It's just a story that everybody keeps repeating. But it's a good story - and a jolly marvellous play. One of my absolute favourites.

Not everybody likes it, though. The very thought of The Merry Wives of Windsor makes Harold Bloom quite livid. According to him (and he's Falstaff's greatest admirer of all time, not barring the Queen), as he write in his exhaustive book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, the Falstaff in Merry Wives is not the same Falstaff as in Henry IV. He may bear the same name, he may sport a physical likeness - but most definitely he isn't the same man. He's only a cheap caricature. "I begin, though, with the firm declaration that the hero-villain of The Merry Wives of Windsor is a nameless impostor masquerading as the great Sir John Falstaff. Rather than yield to such usurpation, I shall call him pseudo-Falstaff throughout this brief discussion." Bloom quotes A.C. Bradley who concurs in his absolute dislike of the play: "[Falstaff] is baffled, duped, treated like dirty linen, beaten, burnt, pricked, mocked, insulted, and, worst of all, repentant and didactic. It is horrible."

"Commerce is commerce", writes Bloom, "but why did Shakespeare inflict this upon a character who represents his own wit at its most triumphant?" Did, Bloom wonders, Walsingham's Secret Service and Marlowe's horrible and shady death somehow influence Shakespeare? Make him turn to trite things and try to blend into the background, as it were? "I have to conclude that Shakespeare himself is warding off personal horror by scapegoating the false Falstaff in this weak play."

The Falstaff in Henry IV, according to Bloom is witty and philosophical, great and immortal, Shakespeare at his very best, while his namesake or pseudo-Falstaff in The Merry Wives is but crude and silly.

Which, of course, is fine with those of us who like crude and silly humour.

Falstaff - the crude and silly fellow of The Merry Wives, to be precise - has always been quite remarkably popular with composers of opera. Small wonder. There's the obvious one - Giuseppe Verdi's last opera Falstaff (1893). Another classic is Otto Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (1846), also by curious chance its composer's last opera. Sir John in Love (1929) by Ralph Vaughan Williams is interesting as the libretto also makes use of other Elizabethan authors and utilises text snippets by Sir Philip Sidney, Thomas Middleton and Beaumont and Fletcher. Gustav Holst's At the Boar's Head (1916) is the odd man out in this company as the opera isn't about the Merry Wives Falstaff but rather the Henry IV Falstaff. Seldom heard, this one, which is a definite pity. Another fairly forgotten one (and possibly the earliest Falstaff opera, at least the earliest one I'm aware of) is Falstaff (1719) by none other than Antonio Salieri. We do tend to neglect Salieri's operatic output dreadfully, but the situation is definitely improving and there's now almost a plethora of recorded performances of his operas on the market.

Then there's the movie.

The 1965 Orson Welles film Chimes at Midnight is an amalgam of several of Shakespeare's plays: Richard II, Henry IV part 1 and part 2, and Henry V. It's by and large based on his old play in two parts from 1938, The Five Kings, but with the added element of a narrator whose lines are taken from the chronicler Raphael Holinshed, upon whose chronicles Shakespeare based pretty much all of his Histories. The play was revived in 1960 and some of the stage cast appear in the film. The Chimes is Welles's third Shakespeare film (the two previous being Macbeth and Othello) and in fact his personal favourite among all his films, a film Welles himself rated far above Citizen Kane, for instance.

Still it's very rarely seen, partly I believe because of copyright problems.

Chimes at Midnight is ostensibly about the raging throne wars and the kings and the coming of age of prince Hal, soon to become King Henry V, but really it's all about the fat knight, plump Sir Jack, good old Falstaff. Who, no mere chance this I'm willing to bet, is played by Welles himself. (The alternative title of the movie is, by the way, Falstaff!) King Henry IV is none other than Sir John Gielgud, the man who in his time a couple of decades earlier revolutionised Shakespeare acting on the British stage. (He did surprisingly few Shakespeare roles on film.)

As is the case with Welles's previous Shakespeare films, The Chimes at Midnight is quite uneven. Funding has obviously been a problem, which is nothing new, though the budget in this case seems to have been nowhere near as strained as in Othello. There is a hurried air of nervousness in almost every scene, possibly beacause time is short and must be made use of. (I doubt there were a great number of retakes.) Sometimes this lends dynamic energy to the scene and makes it tick. Sometimes the scene just comes off as shoddy and muddled.

The cast, a singularly motley crew, is another problem. Most members thereof simply aren't Shakespearean actors. We have the old hands Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Margaret Rutheford and Welles himself, others seem not to get much out of their lines, at times hardly understanding anything they say. Marina Vlady and Jeanne Moreau are pleasing to the eye but severely lacking as Shakespearean thespians, at least in such a textually heavy and fundamentally theatrical production such as this. A fair amount of the actors have been dubbed - never a particularly happy solution - and, if my ears play no tricks on me, a lot of them dubbed by Welles. As was his wont.

Gielgud is quite splendid and with his royal presence he calms down every scene he's in, lifting it up and ennobling it. Norman Rodway (Percy) is remarkably good and balances the film nicely. Keith Baxter (Hal) has his moments, though not frightfully many of them.

It's in the battle scenes that the film really comes to life. They're raw, vicious and brutal - and totally convincing. No heroism here, merely savagery and ruthless slaughter. And most of the fighting is simply total chaos. It's all muddy and filthy and horrid. Only the archers seem to have any control of what they're doing, sending cloud upon cloud of their lethal arrows into the thick of the fighting. Falstaff, being the sensible chap that he is, avoids any scrapping whatsoever and only claims the glory after the victory.

Ultimately the movie suffers from being drawn together from too many plays. Too much is cut, too much isn't. It lacks in coherence, the elements never quite come together, a satisfactory balance is never reached.

The end is quite tragic. Prince Hal is crowned and transforms into King Henry V, upon which he immediately disowns Falstaff: "I know thee not, old man." And thus Falstaff dies of a broken heart.

If ever there was a role an actor was born to play then that actor was Orson Welles and that role Falstaff.

In his biography Simon Callow claims that what first drew Welles to the part of Falstaff was that the unreliable yet irresistible alcoholic reminded him of his father Richard Welles. In the beginning Falstaff for Welles was his father. In the end he himself became Falstaff, quite literally, girth and all.

It was always his destiny.


Resa i innerrymden

Att läsa Eugen Semitjov är att resa 30 år bakåt i tiden. Känslan är ganska underbar men samtidigt pinsam som bara fan. Man blir konfunderad men ändå känner man en definitiv sense of wonder.

Semitjov, så känns det nu, var ett av de avgörande stegen mellan Erich von Däniken och Carl Sagan (och så hade man ju naturligtvis de inhemska varianterna Nils Mustelin och Björn Kurtén!), det som styrde kosan mot det rationella och naturvetenskapliga istället för det enbart sensationella men underbart och underhållande oförklarliga.

Semitjov - ja namnet var ju nästan som Asimov. Han skrev fakta men även fiktion han med - helt som Asimov. Ja, Semitjov var vår egen nordiska Asimov, vilket gjorde en massa sf-frälsta finlandssvenska skolgossar lyckliga, han var ju så gott som en av oss. (Vilket då gjorde att Asimov och alla andra gudomliga sf-giganter de blefvo ett steg mänskligare för oss äfven de.)

Därför, när jag stötte på en bok av honom, så kunde jag bara inte låta bli att införskaffa den. När läste jag honom senast? 1982? Säkerligen inte senare än så, om ens så sent. Och boken ifråga, Mellan dröm och verklighet - Rapport från "den inre rymden" från 1979 hade jag aldrig läst. Kommer åtminstone inte ihåg den.

Det fascinerande med Semitjov är just att detta är hans plats, mellan von Däniken och Sagan. Hans skriver underhållande men ytligt vilket möjligtvis beror på det att han är en journalist. Han låter folk tala, vilket är bra, men utmanar sällan deras utsagor. Åtminstonen inte så starkt som han kunde.Vilket då leder till ett något schizofrent men underhållande resultat: de får säga precis vad de vill (ju galnare desto bättre, de facto) och Semitjov bara ler snett. Det är ju det som journalistik av ett visst slag brukar gå ut på: att låta folk göra bort sig. Effektivt blir det ju ändå, om man förstår ta det mesta cum grano salis.

Så att hela boken är ett fall av caveat lector: allt är på läsarens eget ansvar.

Men saftiga grejor har han ju att komma med. Som till exempel när han intervjuar en viss tysk elektronikexpert vid namn Gottfried Wieland. Detta påstår Herr Wieland: "Inom tio år kommer de tyska TV-forskarnas 'stora dröm' att bli verklighet. Instrument registrerar hjärnans elektriska impulser under sömnen - en dator omvandlar impulserna till bilder som spelas in på videoband. När man vaknat ska man kunna köra upp bandet i en videobandspelare och se nattens drömmar i repris i sin egen TV." Jag tror att Robert Silverberg har skrivit en novell just om det här, kanske lite tidigare. "Det blir kanske ett obehagligt uppvaknande för mången äkta hälft, tillägger ingenjör Wieland småleende. Kanske blir det lugnast att spela upp drömbandet för sig själv, i enrum till att börja med."

I drömmar flyger vi ofta. Detta kunde bero på, spekulerar Semitjov, att våra förfäder var forntida astronauter. "En gissning är att en främmande rymdexpedition skulle ha lidit skeppsbrott på jorden för någon miljon år sedan. Att besättningen inte haft någon möjlighet att komma härifrån, utan tvingats försöka fortleva under primitiva former. Deras efterföljande generationer blev halvvildar, de smälte samman med sin omgivning, glömde sitt ursprung. Kanske skulle några dunkla nedärvda minnen ha bevarats i deras undermedvetna . . ." Eller, som han sedan tillägger, kan det måhända bero på att vi när vi ligger och sover inte har tyngden på fötterna.

Från drömmar till telepati. Visste ni att ryssarna utförde telepatiska experiment på ubåtar? Detta gjorde de med hjälp av katter. De separerade kattan från ungarna och tog ungarna ombord en ubåt. Sedan började besättningen på ubåten, vid förutbestämda klockslag, avliva ungarna en efter en, medan vetenskapsmännen i sitt laboratorium observerade om kattan reagerade telepatiskt på att ungarna decimerades. Låter en aning suspekt, måste jag säga. Men resultat verkar de ha fått, påstår åtminstone Semitjov.

Ryssarna verkar ha varit särskilt aktiva inom den parapsykologiska forskningen. Något som kanske förklarar ett och annat.

Ett liknande, men lite humanare, experiment utförde amerikanarna. Men istället för ubåt använde de rymdraket och istället för att avliva små kattungar använde de kort. Edgar Mitchell var en av astronauterna på Apollo 14 och han hyste ett livligt intresse för allt som har att göra med det paranormala. Han arrangerade ett antal experiment. Han var på Månen och beskådade kort, ett antal individer på Tellus försökte skåda vilka kort han tittade på. Enligt Mitchell var experimentet tämligen lyckat. Men det måste påpekas att ibland såg telepaterna kort även när Mitchell inte "sände hjärnvågor" till Jorden. Ganska ofta, faktiskt. Får man tro på Mitchell så utfördes experimenten på grund av det att NASA var intresserad av att ha ett backup-kommunikationssystem ifall alla mekaniska system gick i olag. Personligen skulle jag helst inte åka i en farkost som litar på telepatisk kommunikation, men det kan ju vara en smaksak.

Efter Apollo 14 (1971) grundade Mitchell, som var den sjätte människan som besteg Månens yta, ett eget institut, Institute of Noetic Sciences, där han forskade i allt som föll utanför det som den konventionellare vetenskapen nonchalerade. Institutet verkar faktiskt ännu vara vid liv. Såhär står det på deras hemsida: "IONS is a nonprofit membership organization located in Northern California that conducts and sponsors leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness—including perceptions, beliefs, attention, intention, and intuition. The Institute maintains a commitment to scientific rigor while exploring phenomena that have been largely overlooked by mainstream science." Och för den som undrar vad i all världen noietic betyder svara hemsidan på följande sätt: "The word "noetic" comes from the ancient Greek nous, for which there is no exact equivalent in English. It refers to "inner knowing," a kind of intuitive consciousness—direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason." Och ännu: "What are 'Noetic Sciences'? Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world."

Om Uri Geller skriver Semitjov en hel del. Ja Geller. Jag minns själv när han i mitten av 70-talet besökte Finland och alla tidningar skrev långa trudeluttar om fenomenet Geller och lovsjöng denna stora talang som böjde skedar och startade om klockor. Vilket han även gjorde levande i ett TV-program: han böjde allehanda diverse skedar och fick TV-tittarnas gamla klockor att gå. Och hör och häpna - när Geller sa att nu ska alla därhemma plocka upp en gammal klocka gjorde min mamma just det, plockade upp en urgammal söndrig klocka hemma hos oss och snart började den ticka när hon höll den i sin hand, helt som Geller sa att den skulle göra. Ett mirakel! James Randi är av annan åsikt. Såklart.

Detta skriver Roland Adlerbeth om en bok om Geller av en viss Andrija Puharich: "Uri Gellers uppvisning i TV var förvisso både fascinerande och intressant, men den störtflod av obevisade påståenden som väller fram i denna bok är avsevärt svårare att ta på allvar. Enligt Puharich står han själv och Geller i direktkontakt med ett slags överlägsna rymddatorer som kallas De Nio och ibland är Gud, ibland hans representanter. Tefat och teleportationer hopas i drivor överallt där de drar fram, och diverse antydningar görs om att Geller är en ny Kristus och att han och Puharich bär världens öde i sina händer. Förvisso krävs det mycket tro för att tro på detta. Jag gör det inte."

Det som gör boken intressant ännu idag (även om den ganska långt är föråldrad) är att Semitjov verkligen träffar och intervjuar en stor del av dessa herrar. Han träffar Mitchell, han är åskådare medan Geller utför sina "mirakel", han träffar till och med "PSI-pionjären" Joseph Rhine, mannen som på 30-talet uppfann PSI-korten: dessa kort med "stjärna", "kors", "våg", "ochvadalltharde".

Rhine var ursprungligen botanist men 1922 i Chicago hörde han ett föredrag om parapsykologi och detta var vändpunkten. Han började studera fenomenet och var antagligen en av de allra första som gjorde det på universitetsnivå, med strikta vetenskapliga kriterier. Och föredragshållaren vars tal ledde till denna nya karriär? Ingen mindre än Sir Arthur Conan Doyle som berättade om sina spiritualistiska upplevelser, öden och äventyr.

Ett av de mera fascinerande fallen i boken är siaren och fjärrskådaren Kjell Folkesson. Honom träffade Semitjov redan som barn hemma hos sig, vilket då måste ha bidragit till detta livslånga intresse för övernaturliga fenomen.

När jag nu gräftade kring Semitjov märkte jag att herreje både hans far och bror var också författare och skrev såväl filmmanus som böcker. Båda hette förresten Vladimir Semitjov. Fadern medverkade bland annat i John W. Brunius film Johan Ulfenstjerna (1923) som handlade om fallet Eugen Schauman vs. "Bobban" Bobrikoff och utspelade sig naturligtvis i Helsingfors. (Brunius bäst kända film, åtminstone här i Finland, är ju Fänrik Ståls sägner I & II, 1926.) I huvudbibliotekets källare råkade de ha ett exemplar av Vladimir Semitjovs science fiction-roman 43.000.000 mil i världsrymden (1930) på finska (Avaruuslaiva, 1938), så den var man ju tvungen att läsa. Och det var ju ganska intressant, särskilt när man ihågkommer att författaren är en rysk emigrant. Och jag antar att det är fadern som skrev romanen, sonen är lite ung för det (men inte hopplöst så, han föddes 1912). En pojkbok, en underhållande och rolig pojkbok för den som gillar rymdfart och rymdvarelser och främmande planeter och allt detdär, men ändå undrar man lite om allt är riktigt på sund botten. Att roffa åt sig guld från andra himlakroppar år i mitt tycke inte den allra bästa premissen för en rymdresa. Inte ens i en oskyldig pojkbok.

Det är ett bra tag sedan jag läste Eugen Semitjovs egna romaner. Eller kanske bara en. Minns åtminstone inte flera. Man undrar hur de har hållit mot tiden? Kanske man borde gräva fram en och ta en titt.


Chaos Is Come Again

Lon Chaney was the Man of a Thousand Faces. In his movies he invariably played the heavily made up monster and rarely could one even recognise him beneath his incredibly thick theatrical mask. He always did his own makeup, and even came up with a number of new and astonishing techniques and appliances. He was the master of disguise, quite unchallenged. Yet, however much he applied makeup he was always . . . well . . . in lack of a better word . . . human. In The Phantom of the Opera (1925) his face was made up in so grotesque and hideous a fashion that it quite broke one's heart to look at him. This wasn't the face of evil, this was what we all look like inside. Only he couldn't hide it.

The Wallace Worsley film The Penalty (1920) is quite an extraordinary movie for Chaney. In it Chaney plays a crime lord called Blizzard who controls the entire underworld of San Francisco. He wears no makeup whatsoever, which is quite interesting. The other interesting thing is that Blizzard has no legs.

As a child Blizzard was violently ill and the doctor treating him had to cut off his legs in order to save his life. This diagnosis, however, was false. Abysmally false. There was nothing wrong with Blizzard's legs at all and the child Blizzard heard this right after the operation. He was never the same again.

The utterly amazing thing is that in the movie Chaney is totally convincing as a cripple. He just has his legs bent backwards and fastened to his back, and his knees inserted in two wooden buckets. The result is stunning: both repulsive and frightening at the same time. Truly eerie.

The smaller in stature he is, the more concentrated the hatred and malice and wickedness in him. It's almost as if the doctor, when he amputated Blizzard's legs, also amputated his soul. Not a shred of goodness remains. Not the shadow of a shred.

Oh what a nasty character Blizzard is. How ill he treats women. With what ease he ends human life. It's nothing to him. Less than nothing. He's been treated wrongly so everyone else has to pay for it. Everyone with two good legs is at fault and to blame for his misery. They must pay, it's their penalty. He will be avenged, by hook or by crook.

In the movie the embittered Blizzard has a plan. He has imported thousands of unemployed ruffians to the city. They're just waiting on his word to step out. His plan is to start a number of riots in the outskirts of the city, drawing the police and the National Guard away from downtown - thus leaving the soft underbelly of the city entirely vulnerable and prey to his wicked schemes.

It's quite clear from the scenes where gloatingly he describes what havoc and chaos he will cause that he isn't interested in the material goods he'll gain. Oh no, not at all. His interest is in the chaos and misery he will create. He's bent on revenge. He's been treated shabbily, his legs have been taken from him and somebody will have to pay.

In fact everybody.

The dream scenes in which Blizzard's troops ransack the city are quite the finest and scariest I've ever seen in silent films - easily matching whatever deep disturbing horrors German expressionism manages to dish out. The joy the very thought of these images bring Blizzard! It's tangible. And in his reveries Blizzard is leading his men from the front - intact!

That's one of the reasons he wants money. He will buy himself new legs.

And, by one of these wonderful melodramatic coincidences, the very doctor who deprived Blizzard of his legs is now a renowned surgeon - who's of course been experimenting with that very thing! The replacement of limbs! So obviously Blizzard kidnaps his daughter and forces him to perform the operation and give him back his legs.

During the operation the doctor notices something extremely uncanny. Blizzard has a tumour in his brain, something that ought to have been noticed years ago. He removes it and Blizzard reverts to being a normal law-abiding citizen. All the bitterness is gone and he finds love and happiness.

This new bliss, however, will prove short-lived. Blizzard's old criminal associates are not at all happy with his new convictions as it interferes with their schemes of which the restored Blizzard wants no part. So they assassinate Blizzard.

It couldn't end any other way.

A truly powerful and shocking movie. A truly amazing performance. And it proves that Chaney really doesn't need any masks to be frightening. This man is a true wonder. He can do it with both hands behind his back. Or legs, like here.

The title of this piece is a quote from Othello. It is, in a way, singularly appropriate since there's a really dark and disturbing undercurrent of sexual jealousy and sexual aggression and even sexual hatred in the film - incredibly strong stuff.

By Jove, The Penalty really gives me the willies.



by Petri Salin

The first bombs wipe Norcea's HQ off the face of Titan
Destroy them, the CEO's yells echo - destroy every last one of them/ and we do not question his orders, we question nothing
When our killer robots land the survivors arise from their underground/ bunkers like the undead and begin their resistance but we beat them on that/ terrible day, with terrible casualties, and when everything is well nigh over/ I take a hit and my plane is lost in a void and that is when I see them/ the three hag mongrels, holograms, appearing out of the vacuum
I hear them salute me and utter my name

All hail McB3, hail to the Lunar Marketing Director
All hail McB3, hail to Operational Head of Martian Ventures
All hail McB3, that shalt be the Company's CEO hereafter

What are you and how know you who I am? say I and
they laugh and say that they know what I am and
they laugh and say that they know what I shall be and
they laugh and laugh and laugh
so I fire my last missiles at them
but one cannot kill holograms

When they are gone I find my squadron and we return to HQ
where the CEO gives a short speech lauding the Company spirit and/ thanking us for our selfless sacrifices to obtain a crucial competetive edge/ in this strained business atmosphere wherein the unethical acts of competitors/ force a company with higher ethical standards to combat evil and/ set the entire trade a positive example with its noble corporate principles
Our market share within the Solar system, says the CEO, is now a record breaking/ forty-seven percent and beyond its parameters even greater
We shall not rest, says the CEO, until we have absolute market leadership/ for that is our prerogative and our duty and our mission in life
Those fallen in the line of labour are taken leave of with proper circumstance/ and the vacancies left after them filled equally properly

McB3, says the CEO, excellent marketing, quite excellent indeed
The Operational Head of Martian Ventures, says the CEO, was
caught red-handed doing a spot of industrial espionage for Norcea
wherefore he now fertilizes Titan's crisply burnt ground
Thou, McB3, art now Operational Head of Martian Ventures

Which slightly surprises me and gets my thought circuits going
If the holograms are right about my becoming Head of Martian Ventures/ why, then, not about the other matter as well?
the matter of which I dare not speak aloud?
If the holos, the weird sisters, can look into the seeds of time
and say which grain will grow and which will not
know they which path the future does choose, which it does discard/ there is nothing anyone can do about it/ nor can any man flee his destiny
If they are but dream or nightmare
if everything is but coincidence
better were it for me to wipe from my mind the hollow echoes of their words

Of course you will be the new CEO, says my wife
think not otherwise
dare not believe otherwise
you shall become the Company's CEO
I guarantee it
says she
and I loose myself in her embrace and she
looses herself in mine which is the same
as her embrace
and no one can stop the continuum of space and time
nor revoke the future
for at this very moment the future has chosen itself for eternity

If it were done when it is done
then it were well it were done quickly
When it is done
it will be done quickly

When the CEO arrives to inspect the Martian HQ
he stays at our home, as our guest
and in the name of hospitality my wife hands me a dagger
and in the name of hospitality I wield it
for so I must
for it is so written
I have no option

The CEO is dead, I proclaim, and the Company without a lawful ruler
The Assistant CEO, I proclaim, has betrayed the Company and fled the planet/ his minions' hands soiled with our CEO's blood
And we deal them swift Company justice before anyone
has time to question my authority
The CEO is dead! Long live the CEO!

I do what I have to, with heavy heart, with cold hands
no longer closing my eyes for I do not wish to see my deeds anew
nor do I have to close them to see my ghosts stand afore me

During my inauguration I give a speech to clarify the Company's future code
As the new CEO of SolarMcDonald's I would, my dear staff, say
a few words: We are entering a new age, a good age
An age of heretofore unforeseen expansion and fruitfulness
No more shall the Company policy be governed by sporadic bestiality/ but, dear friends, by logic and reason and fairmindedness
The Company tree shall be cleansed and sanitized and pruned
All branches with insufficient profit margin shall be taken care of
terminated with extreme prejudice
Every obstacle standing in the way of an ever increasing profit margin/ shall be removed and obliterated and ground to dust
Our new market will be the fabrication of a hamburger based on oil for robots/ and a hamburger for inhabitants of other stars - were such creatures ever found
Our new corporate strategy is to exploit the resources of our competitors/ in the form of utilizing their staff as raw material for our nourishing/ and superlatively delicious and very reasonably priced product
It is my duty to see to it that the Company's expansion never ceases but goes on
The Universe knows no boundaries
Neither time nor eternity know limits
Therefore the Company must know none
We shall not rest until the Company and the Universe are one

The wars go on and we form new alliances
destroy former allies, present allies
devour them before they devour us
grow so big that none can threaten us
not even BurgerKingHut, now shrivelled miserably into a white dwarf/ grow so mighty we have no external enemy
We are a black hole that gobbles up everything
until nothing is left

In honour of our victory I give my lackeys a great banquet
invite them to the new HQ I have erected on Mars where
I can rely on the loyalty of my underlings
unlike on other planets and moons and satellites
My wife oversees the arrangements for the banquet but
suddenly the sight of bloody hamburger meat makes her sick
it will pass, it always does pass
I let set a plate for those of my guests whom I trust and just the blade for the/ renegades, those who have masticated their last hamburger
Only a minority of the guests leave on their own two feet while the rest, the/ happy ones, now get to serve the Company's revenues with their bodies/ get to serve the Company to the last
Their sacrifice is not in vain
Their unselfishness guarantees the Company eternal life

Life, say I unto my wife, is now as good as it gets
Better than this, say I, it cannot get
This I know, says my wife, nothing will ever get better
Then we toast and accept the adulation of our grateful subjects

And each night I am awakened by my wife's cries
and each night she walks in her sleep
in her white nightgown
attempting to wash her hands
never getting them clean, the blood never coming off
her creamy white hands
the constant rubbing has torn them to a bloody pulp
her medication can no longer bless her with artificial rest

She mourns the offspring we never had
She mourns our last attempt at cloning, the last of many
but not every seed takes, not every embryo flourishes
not all blood is meant to flow forward through the rivers of time
McB4 may we never hold in our arms
nor his clone, nor his clone's clone
The brightest stars burn but a brief while
leaving behind them a chaos of heavenly coldness
the brightest star burns but a brief while

How brief?
Once the question is voiced the words keep haunting me
How brief?

I take the Company jet and return to Titan
Where are you, shout I
Come forward! shout I
Show yourselves! shout I
I circle Titan and try to find the enchanted cursed place
where last I encountered them, but cannot
I cannot find them for they do not exist
I turn my vessel to return and there they are
in my monitors, smiling their toothless smile
Tell me what I wish to know, say I
And they step out of the monitors
And they tell me

Beware McD9, whispers the first holo
Be bloody, bold, and resolute, whispers the second holo
laugh to scorn the power of man for none of woman born shall harm you
Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care, whispers the third holo
McB3 shall never vanquished be until Pluto collides with Mars
and they grab each other by the hand and form a circle and start
dancing faster and faster until one can no longer tell them apart
then they are gone, my darkened monitors exhaling a foul black smoke

I laugh, I am invincible
no human can touch me
I shall never vanquished be until Pluto collides with Mars
(how could Pluto collide with Mars? impossible!)
McD9 cannot defy me and I may as well let him live
or not

Company vessels find me in space and escort me home
My lord, says my head of intelligence, McD9 has fled and
along with the others, gone forth and joined the forces of BurgerKingHut
Destroy his offices, say I, and all his employees
and his family
and his children
destroy them all
and they do it
I cannot revoke my orders nor bring back anyone I have slain
not even imagine it

Nor do we still become absolute market leaders
not even when we slaughter all our opposition
Do we have to, shout I at my underlings, slaughter all our customers as well?
Why do they not love me? I shout and see a steward stand before me/ he bends over and whispers in my ear and I smite him with my sword/ but one cannot kill a robot

I hasten to my wife's chambers and behold it with my own eyes
a sight not for this world
nor for the next nor for the next
She is dead, bereft of life, has abandoned me in this wasteland
Why did you leave me my love? I whisper in her ear
she answers not even though I carry her in my arms and rock her so very gently
She should have died hereafter
with this I must live
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
now I am alone and know not where to turn
and know the blame is mine and mine alone
I press her against my heart
maybe she will awaken
press I hard enough

It takes a long time before they dare tell me
Norcea's survivors have teamed up with BurgerKingHut's survivors/ and the Company traitors have, along with McD9 and the assistant CEO, joined them/ now their fleet of war is on its way here
Let them come, say I, they cannot touch me
I hardly recall what fear tastes like and what horror tastes like and/ what humanity tastes like
No one can touch me, shout I and bare my sword
To the final battle, say I and look around me and see how
most of my men have deserted the Company and deserted me and
joined Norcea/BurgerKingHut's gigantic fleet
Go all, I do not need you, I do not need any of you
McB3 shall remain unvanquished until Pluto collides with Mars
The traitor fleet approaches the planet and their foremost fighter gets hit/ starts to wobble, the pilot loosing his control of the craft completely/ the craft getting hurled on Martian ground, setting the world on fire
I behold the name of the fighter and it is Pluto XIII

I leap into my fighter and charge the enemy
the front lines oscillate and the enemy keeps coming on all sectors/ the fight is terrible, in a frenzy I blow away fighter after fighter but/their numbers never diminish
Where are you McD9! Show yourself, coward! Come out and fight me!/ and McD9's vessel floats in front of me and we go at it like crazed bulls/ hammer one another like two/ blood-thirsty boars
I strike and he receives my blow, he strikes and I receive his blow
there is no one else in this war, only I and he, and none else is needed
Suddenly McD9 veers away, I lock my cannons on his tail and fire
but it's a trick - he swirls and then he's behind me and I can't
shake him nor can I escape before his rockets tear off my wings
I spiral downward and can't straighten my fighter, can't
escape, no way out, I fire my last missiles and somehow they hit his/ side and an immense explosion tears the vessel apart/ he falls from the sky like a rock, as do I

McD9! I shout and dig my way out of my fighter's smoking carcass, where are you?
Fight like a man if you are one!
Let me rip the flesh from your bones and irrigate the ground with your blood!
McD9 stands before me, sword hoisted, face devoid of expression
I strike him and his armour holds, I switch up to full power
he strikes back and I ward him off, smiting heaven and earth for
I fight them as well, I fight the Universe
McD9 strikes, I strike, he strikes, I strike
we dance the terminal dance

I never wanted you against me, say I, lay down your sword
walk away, I have waded in blood deep enough already and want not you on my soul/as I have on my soul your wife and your children and hundreds more/ lay down your sword and save yourself and live
McD9 lets his sword answer my words and on we dance

I am battered and bloody and don't even notice it
McD9's concentration sways for a second, only a second
My sword cuts through his body armour, cuts to his heart
pierces it and the force of my blow fells him on his knees, then
on his back - none of woman born shall harm McB3
The blood pumping from his chest is no blood
it is black and thick and almost like - oil

My sword's power is nearly down to zero
yet there is still enough for one last strike
McD9 gets up, I bury my sword in his back
he turns, he smiles, he raises his sword
None of woman born shall harm McB3, says he
his armour is split and his chest is open and -
His entire torso is full of tubes and wires and computer circuits
One cannot kill a robot
I can't escape nor do I wish to

He lifts his sword and smiles

I do not feel a thing

(Published in Portti Special English Issue 2003)


Stackars Yorick

Petri Salin:
Stackars Yorick

Shanghai 11-04-2119
- Minnesbilderna är klara och hopplöst fragmentariska. Fastän de syns tydligt på skärmen är det fullständigt omöjligt att säga vilka fragment hör ihop och vilken helhet de bildar.

Ifall de, de facto, bildar en helhet.

* * * * *

. . . bäbägbäbägbäbäggägärree . . . giften . . . i bägäa . . . gifififgi . . . ibägagagäbagäb . . . i bäägararaeeen . . .

* * * * *

Folk, ansikten, rörelse. Färger, röster. Smärta, glädje, sorg. Kärlek. Allt i en dränkande svallvåg, allt i ett skrämmande ofokuserat kaos.


Minnena flyr.

Minnena vill inte återuppstå, men ändå vill de det.

Experimentets resultat är, för att säga det milt, högst oväntat. Klart är dock att det rör sig om ett enormt framsteg, ett verkligt genombrott. Ett så här ypperligt resultat hade vi aldrig kunnat hoppas på, aldrig vågat hoppas på. Av de tiotusentals skallar vi grävt upp överallt i världen, i Asien, i Afrika, i Australien, i Europa, på Månen – urgamla skallar, färska skallar, skallfragment – var vi tvungna att så gott som genast kassera den största delen. Av de skallar vi lät genomgå den fullständiga behandlingen visade sig endast några hundra vara ens potentiellt optimala. Av de hjärnor vi genom utförlig DNA-analys och psykogenetisk interpolering och regeneration lyckades återskapa var största delen så gott som totalt livlösa – hjärnor bara till synes, inte funktionellt.

Av alla hjärnor har blott en enda visat sig vara kapabel att kunna producera genuin tankeverksamhet. Och inte endast det, den exceptionella hjärnan kan inte endast tänka utan även minnas.

Vilket är omöjligt.

* * * * *

. . . nej! . . . intr dri . . . inte dric . . . inte inte driiiiii . . . nejinteintenejintedrdrdrdrdrdrdr . . .

* * * * *

Skallen är en av dem som grävdes upp i Helsingör. Enligt uträkningarna är den sjuhundra år gammal, kanske betydligt äldre. Först trodde vi att det rör sig om en skalle som tillhört ett barn men efter noggrannare undersökningar är det uppenbart att skallen hört till en dvärg av det manliga könet. Det är ett under att dvärgen överhuvudtaget överlevt födseln, så förvrängt är hans kranium. Tänderna visar att dvärgen nått över tjugo års ålder. Om hans liv varit ett normalt liv, ja det är en helt annan fråga.

* * * * *

. . . min . . . son . . . min . . . sssssssssss . . . ssss . . . sonnnnnnsssso . . . sossso . . . sossssoonnsssosssnn . . .

* * * * *

Efter utförlig preparation kopplar vi in dvärgens hjärna i datormatrisen och börjar köra hans till en början ytterst haltande hjärnverksamhet genom reningsprogram, gång på gång. De kontaminerade bitarna elimineras, de bristfälliga sekvenserna kompletteras, det som knappt går att upptäcka förstärks. Programmet spårar upp relevanta mönster, förvandlar dem till algoritmer och sedan tillbaka till neural information. För varje körning renas och förädlas minnesbilderna. Processen är ytterst långsam. Hjärncellerna stretar emot neuron för neuron. Förgäves.

* * * * *

. . . älskskr dgggiiggg GGGGGGGGGG . . . G . . .

* * * * *

Kan det verkligen röra sig om autentiska minnen? Den nya hjärnan är en jungfruligt tom tavla, tabula rasa, kanske rör det sig endast om abstrakt hjärnbrus? Kanske den nyfödda hjärnan producerar, av någon ännu okänd orsak, en viss rudimentär tankeverksamhet i form av irrationell synaptisk neuronblixtring som därefter av datorns algoritmsonder tolkas fel och tvingas sedan in i artificiella och färdigt definierade mönster. Detta förvränger hjärnbruset ytterligare och bortom all rimlighet. Men ändå är hjärnans verksamhet ständigt samma vilket betyder att den inte kan vara aleatorisk. Det vore omöjligt. Gång på gång upprepar sig hjärnan. Ingen tvekan om saken – verksamheten är tankeverksamhet. För att den jungfruliga hjärnan är jungfrulig kan den därför omöjligtvis spontant generera nya tankar. Detta i sin tur betyder att det så kallade brus som hjärnan producerar måste vara gamla tankar.

Och det kan inte röra sig om egentliga tankar i begreppets reella mening för att bilderna dvärgens hjärna åstadkommer om och om igen, i lite varierande form, är alltid samma bilder. Alltid samma situationer. Alltid samma personer. Alltid samma känslor.

Därför måste det vara minnen. Hur osannolikt detta än är.

Till och med om det är – som det måste vara – omöjligt.

* * * * *

. . . kunkunnknukgnekunugunenkukugunugunenkungkungmungkunenekugugunknennnn . . .

* * * * *

Efter kontinuerliga körningar och mångfacetterade rensningar i flera olika faser börjar minnesbilderna till slut forma sig på ett någorlunda identifierbart sätt. Till slut kombineras de med ett program som klär en del av de diffusare och mera abstrakta elementen i ord. Dvärgen får en röst och samtidigt en personlighet, han får en skärande gäll röst som får alla att le. Och samtidigt rysa.

Fragmentens ordning är, på grund av en avsaknad av all lineär kontinuitet, måste det än en gång påpekas, fullständigt godtycklig.

* * * * *

. . . tolv år . . . hon . . . flicka liten flicka ung flicka . . . ser henne för första gången ute i slottsparken under den stora eken . . . eken som jag brukar klättra i . . . hämtats till hovet . . . sommarklänning . . . vit ren . . . flätor i håret . . . rud heter hon . . . trud . . . hon skrattar inte åt mig som alla andra brukar göra när de ser mig . . . skrattar inte . . . hånar inte . . . ler bara . . . mitt hjärta . . . när hon ler . . . med hela sin varelse . . solen bleknar . . . hon ler . . . och jag . . . hjärtat . . . jag . . . gråter . . . av glädje . . . vi . . .

(Brott –)

. . . vänner? . . . enda vännen . . . lekkamrater . . . springer runt slottet . . . när jag berättar en vits skrattar hon och varje gång hon skrattar känner jag hur mitt grepp om hennes själ blir hårdare och fastare . . . far . . . hårdare . . . far . . . fastare . . . tycker inte om det . . . hennes far . . . som vore jag en hund . . . hennes husdjur . . . sparkas . . . piskas . . . men priset . . . få vara nära henne . . . förstår inte . . . kan inte förstå . . . hur kunde . . .

(Brott –)

. . . framför kungen . . . som min far före mig och hans far före honom . . . konungens broder . . . värre även än konungen . . . förnedrar mig framför hovet och hela hovet ylar och hånar som . . . utom . . . Ger . . . utom Ge . . . utom . . .slår det mig att en dag kommer hon att . . . en dag måste hon . . . hon med konungen kungen med henne hon med konungen kungen med henne med henne med henne . . . hon med honom . . . med . . . jag går fram till kungen . . . Eders Majestät vet Vi vad skillnaden är mellan en hovman och en apa och efter en stunds tystnad säger han vad då? och därpå säger jag jasså Eders Majestät vet inte heller det och kungen börjar skratta häftigt och hela hovet tvingas göra likaså . . . fruktar mig . . . min giftiga tunga som blixtsnabbt kan slå ihjäl . . . vem som helst . . . giften . . .

(Brott –)

. . . jag tror det . . . jag vågar inte tro det men jag tror det . . . jag som aldrig haft . . . jag som aldrig . . . någon . . . haft . . . inte någon . . . ser på henne . . . ser på mig . . . inte längre barn . . . inte längre flicka . . .barn . . . när vi . . . tillsammans . . . att hon . . . att hon med en sådan som jag . . . förvrängd . . . missbildad . . . med en dvärg . . . hon med mig . . . men det gör hon . . . med mig . . . den föraktade . . . och hon en . . . och jag en . . . och aldrig hade jag kunnat drömma om en . . . om något så . . . hela sommaren . . . femton år . . . är . . . varje kväll när det blir mörkt . . . smyger . . . klättrar upp . . . muren . . . vakterna . . . osynlig . . . och sedan . . . i natten . . . vi . . . varje natt . . . Gertr . . . min Ge . . .

(Brott –)

. . . bror . . . kungens bror . . . hatar . . . jag hatar också . . . hans blick när han beskådar Ger . . . akta dig var försiktig säger han men . . . jag tror . . . blott svartsjuk . . . häller . . . vinet . . . rhenvinet . . . på honom på honom på . . . honom . . . clownen . . . narren . . . avundsjuk . . . hans hår . . . som badat han i vin . . . som rött blod . . . skrattar . . .

(Brott –)

. . . jag sjunger . . . av glädje . . . att vara vid liv . . .
att få leva . . .

(Brott –)

. . . konungens bror . . . lyfter sin bägare sin kalk dricker ur den tittar på mig tittar på henne . . . på henne . . . hans blick behagar mig ej . . . något skurkaktigt i blicken . . . alltid snokar nosar . . .

(Brott –)

. . . slut . . . mitt liv . . . slut . . . vill inte längre . . . livet . . . slut . . . hon gråter och hennes tårar fräter gapande hål i mitt hjärta . . . giftermålet . . . med odjuret . . . besten . . . vi visste . . . att dagen kommer . . . en dag . . . i framtiden . . . hennes öde . . . att det händer . . . olyckan . . . när som sexton . . . sexton år . . . som hennes far kommit överens med besten när hon var liten . . . men nu . . . för tidigt . . . alltför tidigt . . . stor fest . . . högtid . . . hovet . . . gäster . . . mat . . . uppträda för gästerna . . . dansa . . . roa dem . . . roa besten . . . kvickheter och löjligheter . . . roa dem medan jag internt förblöder . . . roa medan jag dör . . . jag gör det . . . dricker vin dricker mycket mycket mycket vin . . . förlöjligar kungen och förnedrar och skändar henne den nygifta jungfruliga bruden som nu är drottning hans drottning min drottning i verkligheten som hon alltid varit min drottning privat i under nattens täcke. . . inte jungfrulig inte längre jungfru inte inte jungfru . . . och alla skrattar . . . åt dvärgen . . . den löjliga dvärgen . . . narren . . . dvärgen den föraktade . . . som denna afton förlorar sin kärlek . . . sitt liv . . . allting . . . jag kastar upp vinet framför tronen . . .värre än att aldrig ha haft något ha känt något ha varit något . . . än att aldrig ha . . . levat . . .

(Brott –)

. . . SVARTA TANKAR! . . .

(Brott –)

. . . SVARTA SVARTA . . . TANKAR! . . .

(Brott –)

. . . barnet . . . Gertruds son . . . nyfödd . . .
vacker . . . ljus som hon . . . perfekt . . . besten tar honom i sin famn . . . måste titta på när besten . . . henne . . . drottning nu . . . hjälplös . . . pojken . . . så liten . . . så liten . . . rider på min rygg på min puckel . . . jag är . . .

(Brott –)

. . . hon kommer. . . min drottning . . . jag dansar för henne . . . druckit vin . . . glad . . . sorgsen . . . hon kommer till mig . . . drottningen . . . natt . . . slottets kalla murar glöder is . . . medan . . . ute och krigar . . . bortaborta . . . vi . . . igen . . . härligt . . . som tidigare . . . som om inget . . . skrattar . . . livsfarligt . . . avbryta sluta avbryta . . . nej . . . aldrig!. . . lever igen . . . igen . . . vi . . . på nytt . . . ända tills . . . kommer . . . kommer tillbaka . . . Stupar! . . . hon säger hon säger min älskade säger . . . hon säger det . . . varför kan han inte . . . varför kan inte kungen . . . hon säger det . . . som vi båda tänker . . . stupa . . . stupa stupa stupa stupa stupa stupa . . . varför . . .varför inte . . . varför kunde inte kungen! . . . varför? . . .

(Brott –)

. . . kan inte . . . vara . . . utan . . . hopplöst . . . vet inte vad jag ska . . . vet ej . . . jag måste . . . göra . . . inte fortsätta på det här sättet . . . inte . . . kan inte . . . vill inte . . . måste . . . ha henne . . . min egen . . . min . . . egen . . .

(Brott –)

. . . lösningen . . . så lätt . . .

(Brott –)

. . . i hans juvelprydda bägare . . . i kungens blodröda vin . . . ingen ser . . . lätt . . . ett par små osynliga befriande droppar . . . pärlor . . . och sedan . . . väntar . . . på det ofrånkomliga . . . oundvikliga . . . ödet . . . befrielsen . . . sedan är vi fria . . . jag roar kungen . . . en sista gång . . . gör mig lustigare elakare värre elakare värre än någonsin . . . än någonsin . . . får honom att skratta så hårt att han faller från tronen . . . så hårt att han knappt kan andas . . . han lyfter bägaren . . . jag . . . han lyfter bägaren till sina läppar . . . jag . . . nu . . . NU! . . . nej! . . . drottningen kommer . . . plötsligt . . . oväntat . . . drottningen . . . hon kommer . . . kungen . . . han lägger ifrån sig bägaren . . . nej! . . . lägger undan bägaren . . . nej! . . . ställer den på bordet . . . drottningen . . . nej! . . . sätter sig bredvid honom . . . hon har pojken i sin famn . . . tjänaren häller upp vin hon tar bägaren . . . drottningen drottningen . . . pojken . . . drottningen . . . pojken . . . drottningen . . . pojken börjar plötsligt gråta spjärnar emot slår omkring med sina armar . . . träffar hennes bägare . . . slår omkull den . . . drottningens bägare drottningens bägare . . . bägaren . . . kungen . . . hon min drottning . . . kungen . . . hon min drottning nej . . . kungen . . . hon . . . hon . . . kungen . . . nej . . . jag ser på . . . när . . . . kungen . . . kungen . . . nej . . . ger henne sin egen bägare . . . ger henne . . . sin bägare . . . och hon . . . hon tar den . . . hans bägare . . . nej . . . kungens bägare . . . nej . . . hans juvelprydda bägare . . . hans . . . kungen ger henne sin bägare hon tar emot den . . . och . . . nej . . . sedan inget val . . . inget val . . . istället för att dricka . . . själv . . . istället . . . lyfter hon bägaren till pojkens läppar . . . nej nej nej . . . pojkens läppar som jag kysst tusen gånger . . . pojkens . . . läppar . . . för att lugna ned honom . . . stilla honom med en droppe . . . vin . . . och jag . . . nej! . . . inget val . . . jag . . . Eders Majestät säger jag Eders Majestät tillåter säkerligen att jag som hovets primus inter pares hovets främste representant så gott som en kunglig person själv först med en så gott som nästan kunglig skål hedrar och hyllar Eder Fru Drottningen jämte Eder Herr Son Prinsen den blivande konungen . . . Blivande Konungen . . . blivande . . . konungen . . . och jag tar bägaren ifrån pojken innan han hinner smaka en droppe . . . vin . . . och för att rädda pojken . . . för att rädda Gertruds son . . . för att rädda pojken . . . rädda Hamlet . . . mina läppar kysser den kalla bägaren . . . och fylld av kärlek . . . tårar av glädje . . . tömmer jag bägaren . . . tömmer jag giftbägaren . . . i den fasta vetskapen . . . att . . . Hamlet . . . min älskade Hamlet min son Hamlet min egen son Hamlet min älskade Hamlet min son min son ska få leva . . . ska få bli kung ska olikt sin far få ett långt . . . få ett långt . . . få . . . ett . . . långt och lyckligt . . . liv . . . liv . . . liv . . .

* * * * *

Efter det, ingenting.


Metsämiehen tarina

Petri Salin:

Metsämiehen tarina

Taverna on pimeä ja oudon tyhjä, mutta isännän sherris sitäkin väkevämpää ja riittoisampaa; toisin kuin hänen kärsivällisyytensä, puhumattakaan hänen luotostaan: hyvä tuntematon, arvoisa matkamies, veljeni hengessä ja lihassa, sanon ääntäni korottaen ja osoitan sulavat sanani nurkkapöydän hämärässä istuvalle tummalle synkälle hahmolle, jonka vyöltä roikkuu kilisevä rahamassi; katsotte minua ja näette silmää miellyttävän muhkean olemukseni, kirkkaan rehellisen katseeni ja älystä ja hengen jaloudesta kiistatta kielivän korkean otsani, mutta ette kenties ole täysin tietoinen siitä, että teillä on tässä ja nyt ainutkertainen etuoikeus istua samassa tavernassa sangen maankuulun miehen kanssa; totisesti, hyvä herra, totisesti näin on, siinä suhteessa teitä on tänä päivänä todellakin onnistanut: jos tarjoatte minulle mukillisen – ei kanarianviiniä vaan hyväntahtoisen isäntämme oivallista sherristä, juuri sherristä, sitä parempaa laatua – niin tahdon teille kertoa kerrassaan uskomattoman tarinan, joll’ ei ole vertoa ei tässä maassa eikä muuallakaan tämän pilvisen taivaan alla; tarinan, joka tapahtui täällä Windsorin lähimetsissä ja jonka fantastiset käänteet saavat teidät haukkomaan henkeänne hämmästyksestä ja silkasta epäuskosta, mutta tarinan – minä vakuutan teille pyhästi kunniani ja omantuntoni kautta – jonka jokainen sana on mitä totisinta totta, sillä kaikki tämä tapahtui prinssien suosikille ja ruhtinaiden henkiystävälle, maallisen oppineisuuden heleälle henkilöitymälle, sotilaiden sotilaalle, naisten lempeälle mutta armottomalle kaatajalle, luotettavuuden ja nuhteettomuuden ja kaikenlaisen hyvämaineisuuden täydelliselle perikuvalle, kunnon ritari sir John Falstaffille; tapahtui siis, lyhyesti sanoen, koruttomasti kerrottuna, suoraan asian ytimeen mennäkseni, ollakseni täydellisen rehellinen, minulle itselleni: kiitos, suurkiitos, ystävä hyvä, luoja teitä siunatkoon ja katseensa teidän puoleenne kääntäköön, sanon ja upotan kasvoni eteeni tuotuun kolpakkoon; takaan teille, että tulette tarinani muodossa saamaan rahoillenne täyden vastineen ja paljon enemmän kuin rohkenitte edes toivoakaan: kuten aikaisemmin mainitsin, tahtomatta sillä kuitenkaan millään muotoa kehuskella tahi muutenkaan rahvaanomaisella tavalla rehvastella, kauniimpi sukupuoli ei ole koskaan eikä mitenkään eikä millään tavalla voinut vastustaa minua; se on aina janonnut lemmenpalveluksiani sellaisella kiihkolla ja raa’alla rakkauden raivolla, että se minua itseänikin joskus yön hiljaisina tunteina melkein peloittaa; mutta lähiseudun makean rusoposkiset ja mehevän pyöreäpoviset rouvasihmiset uskovat ja luottavat sokeasti omaan lemmen ritariinsa, kunnon sir Johniinsa, enkä minä heitä voi pettää vaikka välillä joutuisinkin tanakoine aseineni uurastamaan päivin öin heidän onnensa ja täydellisen tyytyväisyytensä eteen – ei, sitä en tahdo, sitä en voi; ei, en voi heidän hurskaita toiveitaan siten julmasti kylmästi karkeasti pettää: siis maailma mun olkoon osterini, jonk’ avaan miekallani: terveydeksenne, hyvä herra, olkoot kaikki taivaan jumalat teille suopeita, tienne suora ja tasainen ja matkanne menestystä täynnä – tarinani, siis, alkaa varsinaisesti siitä kerrassaan merkillisestä ja epätodennäköisen tuntuisesta tilanteesta, kun keskiyön lyödessä seison Windsorin synkeässä aarnimetsässä, metsän hurjimman puun alla, valtavat hirvensarvet aatelisen ylhäissyntyiseen kerrassaan jalosukuiseen päähäni köysin ja nahkahihnoin sidottuina; sarvet kuin metsän kuninkaan kruunu tahi myyttisten alkuaikojen jättiläismäinen kelohonka; aivan niin, kelpo ystäväiseni, seison odottamassa samanaikaisesti kahta lähiseudun innokasta naarasta eli emää eli rouvaa saapuvaksi kiihkeisiin lemmenleikkeihin; kahta hekuman raskaasti riivaavaa rouvaa, joiden siveyden lainahunnun olen säälittä repinyt: muista Jupiter, että tulit häräksi Europan tähden – lempi pani sarvet päähäsi; oi kaikkivaltias lempi, joka jossakin määrin tekee luontokappaleesta ihmisen, jossakin määrin ihmisestä luontokappaleen; oi kaikkivoipa lempi: ken se tuossa tulee, naaraaniko? – ottakaa osanne minusta, niin kuin lahjapeurasta, reisi kumpikin, itse pidän kyljet, lavat saa puistonvartija ja sarveni testamenttaan miehillenne! – hyvä hiljainen seuralaiseni, matkamiehenä ja muukalaisena ette varmaankaan tunne paikallisen metsämme paikallisia taruja, myyttejä, legendoja eli muita satuja ja levottoman mielen keksintöjä; sallikaa minun siis selittää hieman tarinani taustaa ja tehdä sitä sekä yleisesti että yksityisesti ymmärrettäväksi: mahtava puu, jonka alla odotan pääsyä rajuihin lemmenleikkeihin – suunnattomat sarveni tiukasti tukevasti tanassa – tunnetaan paikallisten keskuudessa Hernen puuna; Herne taasen oli vuosisatoja sitten elänyt kuninkaan metsämies ja metsänvartija, joka yksinkertaisen ja taikauskoon taipuvaisen kansan uskomuksen mukaan joutui jonkin ammoisina aikoina eläneen metsästyksen jumalan riivaamaksi – muuan kelttien jo ammoin unohtuneen Cernunnoksen, saanen lisätä, sillä jumaluusoppikaan ei teidän nöyrimmälle palvelijallenne sir John Falstaffille ole millään muotoa vierasta, ei suinkaan – ja jolle, näin kylällä yhäti kerrotaan, kasvoi päähän hirven sarvet ja joka sittemmin ja siitä samaisesta syystä epätoivoissaan hirtti itsensä samaiseen puuhun; ”kesk’öisin kiertää, suuret sarvet päässä, erästä tammipuuta talvet pitkät; puun kuivaa, karjan noituu, lehmäin maidon vereksi muuttaa hän ja kamalasti kalistaa kahleita”, kuten täälläpäin tavataan yhä sanoa; juuri hänen puunsa alla siis minä, kunnon ritari sir John Falstaff, seison – hieman hävyttömästi, mutta hyvillä mielin – metsämies Herneksi pukeutuneena ja odotan kiihkosta väriseviä pullukoitani saapuviksi: oma mustasaparoinen naaraaniko? – soittakoon ukkonen, nouskoon myrskynä kiihokkeita; tässä on minun turvapaikkani! – ajatus, voin kertoa teille näin herrasmiesten kesken ja perin luottamuksellisesti; ajatus sarvien kiinnittämisestä päähäni ei ole suinkaan omani, vaan se on peräisin riemukkaan riettailta rouviltani, ja mitäpä ei kaltaiseni leikkisä härkä tekisi taatakseen kaatamilleen naaraille mahdollisimman paljon iloa ja lemmekkään lihan kiihkoa; ja huvittaapa se minua kovastikin sarvipäisenä uroona tehdä aisankannattajia runsaiden rouvieni aviomiehistä – ha! – ha ja ha ja ha! – kippis, skåål, terveydeksenne, hyvä herraseni, ja pitkää ikää; niinpä seison tämän kirjaimellisestikin kirotun puun alla ja odotan ja odotan ja ilta tummenee ja vaihtuu pimeäksi lempeän samettiseksi yöksi ja vihdoin kuulen kaivattuja ääniä ja lähestyviä askelia ja ai, ai, ai, ai! – tulkaa tyköni pikku metsähiireni, pikku emakkoni; suo minulle, Jupiter, vilpoinen kiima-aika; metsän kuningas mylvii kiihkosta niin, että puista lähtevät lehdet, lihasta luut; antakaa sarvipäisen pukkinne, petomaisen pässinne teidät astua nyt ja nyt ja taas heti uudelleen! – äänet lähestyvät lähestymistään – mutta missä saaliini; missä pienet herkkupalani; missä missä? – metsän morsioideni, suloisten pikku helmikanojeni sijasta näen karkeita kylän miehiä vertani janoavat miekat koholla, sisäelimiäni saalistavat seipäät pystyssä, komeat kepit tanassa kuin suurilla suunnattomilla jättiläisrakastajilla konsanaan; nyt kuumaveriset jumalat mua auttakoot: minut nähdessään he käyvät hyökkäykseen – mutta niin käy arvon sarvihullu ritarinnekin! – tunnistan oitis etuimmaiset epatot ja kurjat konnat; aviomiehiä, kelvottomia katalia aviomiehiä, jotka kateellisina siitä, että heidän impyensä ja naidut naisensa heti jalkoihini lankeavat, ovat houkutellet minut metsään ja asettaneet minulle, lemmen lempeälle ritarille ansan; ja he yrittävät ajaa minut kiinni ja johdattaa karitsana teuraalle; mutta viekkaasti pusken sarveni ensimmäisen aviomiehen löysän hyllyvän vatsan perukoille ja kaadan hänet maahan; samoin toisen, samoin kolmannen; kuin kuivat ruohonkorret he lakoavat edessäni; kuin kaiken edestään polttava tuuli käyn heidän ylitsensä vailla armon häivää: tunnen kuinka vereni pauhaa kiehuu; raivostuneita aviomiehiä on leegio; missä pusken yhden maahan, siitä kaksi nousee ylös, missä pusken kaksi, siitä nousee neljä; en voi heitä kaikkia kukistaa – mestarillisena strategina ja sotilaana näen ja osaan oitis hahmottaa, ettei minulle ei ole muuta vaihtoehtoa kuin pako; pako, joka tässä tilanteessa ei ole pelkurimainen, ei raukkamainen vaihtoehto, vaan taktisesti älykäs ja yllättävä välttämättömyys; niinpä pakenen; ja savuavin soihduin ja vertahyytävästi haukkuvin ajokoirin he lähtevät perääni, solvauksiaan solkenaan syytäen – houkat! – yrittäkää saada minut kiinni, te narrit, te ruojat, te punaisten perseiden partasuiset paviaanit! – ha – yrittäkää! – kuin jalopeura laukkaan puiden ja puskien välistä, väistän kiven siellä kannon täällä sortuman tuolla; ei ole koiraa kasvatettu, joka minut ajaisi kiinni, ei metsästäjää synnytetty, joka minut kaataisi, ei elollista luotu, joka minut saalikseen saisi; takaa-ajajieni äänet heikkenevät kadotakseen taivaan sfäärien olemattomuuksiin ja minä laukkaan eteenpäin halki metsän sankkenevan viheriän hameen, laukkaan eteenpäin alati eteenpäin aina puuston syvimpään siimekseen ja vielä syvemmälle; aina sieluni syvimpään yöhön saakka; raastan vaatteet yltäni ja ulvon taivaankannen pimeyttä pirstovaa kuuta ja sinne tänne korkealle yläpuolelleni siroteltuja tähtiä, joita eivät voi kavioni tallata, joihin eivät sarveni yllä puskea; ulvon sisuksistani kaiken, mikä siellä piileksii ja lymyää; ja ulvottuani itseni tyhjäksi kuoreksi havahdun raastavaan riipivään repivään nälän tunteeseen, jota lääkitsen syömällä turpani ulottuvilla kasvavia huumaavan tuoksuvia lehtiä ja versoja; kieriskelen ruohossa ja loikkaan lapojani myöten puron viileyteen; uudet joka puolelta sieraimiin tunkevat hajut villitsevät minut; vesi, kylmää, kahlaan ylävirtaan, nousen ylös kuivattamaan turkkiani tuulessa auringossa; hankaan kylkiäni puita vasten kuori kutittaa pusken kaadan puita; en tiedä montako tuntia päivää viikkoa juoksen juoksen; nukkumatta lepäämättä syömättä juoksen; minä sarvipäinen uroshirvi minä juoksee juoksee juoksee; ja äkkiä, pysähtyy; kääntää päätä, äkkiä – haistaa: naaras – sukukypsä, valmiina, peurakaurishirvi, jossain lähistöllä, jossain todella lähellä; tuolla? – kääntää turpaa nuuhkii – tuolla? – kääntää turpaa nuuhkii – tuolla? – kääntää turpaa nuuhkii nuuhkii – tuolla? – tuolla; sinne; kääntyy; sinne; juoksee; sinne; laukkaa; sinne; kutsu leviää suoraan sieraimiin vetää sisään hengittää keuhkot täyteen naaraan kiimaa hengittää joka kerralla enemmän naaraan kiimaa laukkaa näkee naaraan valmiin valmiin; näkee naaraan toisen isosarvisen uroon alla syöksyy uroon kimppuun puskee urosta kaataa uroksen uros nousee puolustautuu hyökkää käy päälle puskee sarvet sarvia vasten – pam! – maa järisee – pam! – painaa yrittää kaataa alistaa – pam! – tarttuu sarvi sarveen luiskahtaa raapaisee lihaa avaa kyljen työntyy veren haju – pam! pam! – uudestaan suoraan päin – pam! – jänne kiristyy lihas jännittyy kavio ottaa vauhtia sarvi halkeaa jyrähtäen – pam! – pam! – Pam! sanon ja isken tyhjän mukini koko voimallani pöytään, niin että jysähdys on kaataa sen; isäntä hätkähtää, vaan muukalainen hän ei reagoi mitenkään – ei hätkähdä, ei edes tarjoudu täyttämään sisällön puutteesta surullisen orvoksi jäänyttä mukiani, oih! janoisen raukan tyhjyyttään kärsivää mukia, voih! – jatkan: kaksintaistelu kestää koko päivän ja koko yön ja koko seuraavan päivän, eikä kumpikaan mahtavista sarvipäisistä metsän ritareista tahdo toiselle luovuttaa metsän kuninkaan kruunua, valtikkaa eikä valtakunnan omenaa; voittajalle kuuluu naaras ja koko metsän kaikki naaraat; häviäjälle ei muuta kuin nöyrä alisteinen vasallin asema tai parhaimmassa tapauksessa armollisempi kuolema – taistelu jatkuu ritareiden uupumuksesta ja nääntyneisyydestä huolimatta; voimat heikkenevät, mutta tahto ei milloinkaan, ei hetkeksikään; taistelu jatkuu vaikka tietoisuus sumenee – ja, jalo herraseni, jos minulta tohditte kysyä kumpi kuolontaiston voitti, tahdon teille suoraan ja rehellisesti ja kiertelemättä vastata, että en tiedä; tiedän vain, että tietoisuuteni hitaasti hiipiessä takaisin kiusattuun runneltuun olemukseeni kylän punanenäinen puunhakkaaja ja puunhakkaajan kitukasvuinen apuri nostavat minut täriseville rattaille haisevien halkojen ja mätänevien puunraatojen sekaan; havahdun ja yritän pyristellä vastaan, mutta heikon tilani takia voimani ovat poissa ja metsän ritari ponneton ja avuton kuin pieni vastasyntynyt lapsi, ja niin puunhakkaaja vetää minut – kruunuprinssin rakkaan opettajan ja hänen rakkaimman ystävänsä – kotiinsa matalaan vaatimattomaan majaansa jossakin metsän laitamilla; tiedottomuus sulkee minut jälleen pehmeään viettelevään syliinsä; kun herään löydän mahtavan sarvipäisen olomuotoni puunhakkaajan vajasta röyhkeästi ja tiukasti sidottuna; riuhtomisesta ja riehumisesta huolimatta irtipääsy tahi pako ei ole mahdollista; nöyryytettynä täytyy minun vain todeta kiistattomat tosiasiat: olen satimessa; suuri sir John Falstaff, kuninkaan ylväs suosikkiritari, on vangittu ja tyrmään teljetty – ja traagisesti, melkein ironisesti kyllä teljetty metsän alhaisimmasta alhaisimman olennon eli surkean puunhakkaajan toimesta; voi onnetonta kohtaloani! – voi tukalaa tilannettani! – mylvin tuskaani maailman kuultavaksi, jotta maailma voi surra ja itkeä kanssani – ja yllättäen vajan ovi avataan ja puunhakkaajan nuori verevä vaimo astuu sisälle, sylissään kopallinen herkullisia nauriita minun syödä ja viileää vettä minun juoda; syötyäni ja saatuani hieman voimiani takaisin ihanainen puunhakkaajanrouva pesee veriset haavani ja sitoo ne; sen jälkeen hän pehmeillä käsillään silittää sarviani, kuiskaa suloisia lohdun sanoja korvaani ja löysää köysiäni; ei paljon, mutta tarpeeksi, niin että minun on helppo riistäytyä vapaaksi; yksi päättäväinen riuhtaisu ja jalosyntyistä ritarianne eivät enää minkään valtakunnan köydet pidättele; puunhakkaajan omenilta ja hunajalta tuoksuva rouva hätääntyy ja huudahtaa apua; hän ei koskaan ehdi ovelle saakka; etusorkillani työnnän hänet kumoon halkopinon päälle, sarvilla nostan hänen karkeaa hamettaan; pusken hänen päälleen ja työnnyn perille ja hän kirkuu; ensin kauhusta, sitten ilosta; nyt se Cupido on tunnokas lapsi; hän antaa vahingonkorvausta; satakoon nyt taivaasta perunoita, soittakoon ukkonen vihreän hameen nuottia; nouskoon myrskynä kiihokkeita; tässä on minun turvapaikkani! – ja samalla hetkellä, kun tuo edellinen ajatus kulkee lävitseni, tunnen kuinka lapaani vihloo ilkeimmän mukaan; katsahdan ylös kiihkeistä lemmenleikeistäni ja näen kuinka puunhakkaajan apupoika hakkaa minua mahtavalla puunhalolla; väkevä pään heilautus ja sarveni lennättävät apurin vajan kattoon; kuulen ulkoa huutoa; ymmärrän, että minun on pakko päästä ulos vajasta, etten jää ansaan; työnnän pääni sarvineen ulos oviaukosta; ennen kuin täyteläinen ruhoni ehti seurata perässä, oviaukon vieressä lymyilevän puunhakkaajan suunnaton kirves heilahtaa – kuulen kuivan terävän napsahduksen; puunhakkaajaa nostaa kirveen uuteen iskuun, mutta ennen kuin hän ehtii upottaa vasta teroitetun metallinsa selkääni, olen jo laukannut turvaan metsän suojiin; vasta laukattuani itseni uuvuksiin huomaan, että puunhakkaajan tappavaksi tarkoitettu sivallus on erottanut kalliit sarveni päästäni: olen täysin nutipää! – ja näyttääkseni hiljaiselle muukalaiselle, mistä kohtaa puunhakkaajan työkalu on haukannut päänahkaani, riisun lakkini ja kallistan alastonta sarvetonta päätäni hänen tykönsä; mutta samassa huomaan, etten enää olekaan tavernassa vaan takaisin metsässä, Hernen puun edessä; salama iskee ja sen valossa näen, että puun latvasta roikkuu hirtetty sarvipäinen mies: Herne; salama iskee uudestaan ja näen, että puu on jälleen tyhjä; puun alla joku istuu jalat ristissä; hurtat haukkuvat, verikoirat ulvovat; lähden juoksemaan; ne seuraavat perässäni, ajavat minua takaa – yökoira ajaa kaikenlaista riistaa; kuulen huutoja, kavioiden kopsetta; vaikka kuinka juoksen, en pääse minnekään; koko ajan olen puun lähettyvillä minne tahansa yritänkin suunnata; myrsky yltyy; salamat iskevät ympärilleni; koirat ajavat minut lähemmäksi puuta, lähemmäksi miestä, joka istuu puun alla; mutta ei hän mikään mies ole, tämä pelottava sarvipäinen hahmo, jolla on kädessään sarvipäinen käärme: hän on muinoinen metsänjumala, metsästyksen ja saalistuksen julma jumala, Cernunnos, nyt ja ikuisesti; koirat ajavat minua kuin saaliseläintä kunnes en enää jaksa juosta; kohtaloni hyväksyen heittäydyn maahan hyllyvänä muumiavuorena; ja kun avaan silmäni olen taas jälleen hämärän tavernan suojissa; läähätän, pyyhin lakilla hikeä otsaltani ja tunnustelen toisella kädellä paljasta päälakeani – hyvä herraseni, olette kuullut uskomattoman tarinani, jonka joka sana on taivaan totta; niin vannoo hetken Windsorin hirvenä juossut täydellisen ritarin perikuva sir John Falstaff, sanon kunhan henkeni jälleen alkaa hieman kulkea, samalla kun nyt tunnistan edessäni istuvan muukalaisen aikaisemmin näkemäkseni metsän sarvipääksi muinaisjumalaksi; vanhaksi ikuiseksi jumalaksi, jonka nimen mystisesti äsken muistin, mutta joka nyt lienee jo aikaa sitten unohtunut: peljästyn näkemääni niin, että luulen viimeisen hetkeni koittaneen; metsänjumala suvaitsi aikansa leikitellä kanssani metsässä ja nyt hän aikoo päättää huvituksensa ja päästää minut päiviltä; mutta metsänjumala ei tee elettäkään siihen suuntaan ja ymmärrän, että ei hän täällä tavernassa ajaisi minua koirillaan hengiltä ja sen päätteeksi minut vielä puuhunsa hirttäisi sekä lopuksi sisälmyksiäni puunsa oksien koristeeksi sirottelisi, vaan tekisi sen tietenkin ja luonnollisesti omassa rakkaassa metsässään, oman puunsa äärellä; joten päätän röyhkeästi tarttua härkää sarvista ja sanon hänelle miellyttävintä hymyäni hymyillen, sillä mitäpä minulla tässä enää olisi menetettävää: hyvä ystäväinen, parahin poisunohdettu metsänjumala, tuskinpa tohditte tai edes voitte olla kanssani eri mieltä siitä kiistattomasta tosiseikasta, että sellainen ainutlaatuinen, liioittelematon ja vieläpä kaupan päälle harvinaisen eläväisesti kerrottu tarina, jolla juuri äsken teitä viihdytin ja ilahdutin, on totta kai toisenkin mukillisen arvoinen – ehkäpä, ellen aivan tavattomasti erehdy, jopa kolmannenkin? – seuralaiseni ei sano mitään, hymyilee vain arvoituksellista hymyään; suljen silmäni ja tartun molemmin käsin mukiini, joka huomaamattani on täyttynyt; en tiedä, mitä minulle aiotte tehdä, sanon kun sherris jälleen saa vereni kiertämään ja tasaa lepattavan henkeni, mutta mitä minulle teettekään, niin yksi pieni toive minulla on: ennen kuin teette sen, voitteko palauttaa kruununi ja muuttaa minut taas takaisin metsän sarvipäiseksi kuninkaaksi, edes hetken ajaksi.

(Julkaistu Finnzinen numerossa 2/2007)



The Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, I don't mind telling you, seems like rather a good candidate. He was a courtier, a soldier and a favourite of the Queen - in fact one of the highest ranking noblemen in the Realm. He spoke several languages and was educated beyond belief. He loved books and spent fortunes on them. He had tight literary connections: Edmund Spenser, Anthony Munday, John Lyly and Arthur Golding dedicated works to him. Lyly, one of the first English playwrights, worked as his secretary and Golding, who translated Ovid's Metamorphoses, was his uncle. He travelled in the right places in Italy and Europe, had three daughters just like Lear, was captured by pirates just like Hamlet. His father-in-law was exactly like Polonius and his wife like Ofelia.

He was an accomplished poet and much involved with theatre. Maybe he even wrote plays.

But was he Shakespeare?

The theory was first proposed by the English school teacher J.T. Looney in his 1920 book Shakespeare Identified. Even before that there had been candidates galore: Marlowe, Bacon, Queen Elizabeth - or maybe all of then in cahoots?

There seems to be, among some parties, a great urge to explain away Shakespeare's authorship. I do wonder why? Because he wasn't of noble birth? But he was as his mother was an Arden. The Ardens were one of only three noble families that could trace their lineage, with documents, to before the Norman conquest. (It's also worth noting that Shakespere's father John was the mayor of Stratford, so William wasn't exactly your typical country yokel.) Because he was ill educated or even uneducated? But the grammar school in Stratford was excellent and taught both Greek and Latin. Because he probaby never travelled abroad, nor fought in a war, nor studied law, nor practised falconry, nor sailed the seven seas? Writing isn't really a question of what the author has done but what he can imagine and then put on paper.

Now de Vere is in many ways an excellent candidate if one wants someone other than Shakespeare to have authored Shakespeare's works. There really is a plethora of facts or factoids that makes one wonder. Could it be? Could it?

But, whatever the circumstantial evidence, two solid arguments against his being Shakespeare remain: 1) de Vere died in 1604, far too early considering such plays as Henry VIII and The Tempest, and 2) no written document links de Vere to the plays. Nothing.

The first argument is iffier, simply because very rarely do we know when the plays were written. Hardly ever, in fact. In some cases we know when they were performed, though not necessarily first performed. All dates for when Shakespeare's plays were written are pretty much estimates, educated guesses or pure conjecture. Henry VIII was performed in 1613. This is well known. In one performance a spark from a canon used in the play ignited the thatch roof of of the theatre and The Globe burned down. At the time, according to one source, the play was new and had been performed only a few times.

Not the strongest evidence. It wasn't uncommon for Elizabethan and Jacobean play-goers to think of a play as new if it was being performed after a longish hiatus. And nobody knows when Henry VIII was written, even if it premiered in 1613. Could have been written years before. There seems to be evidence of two authors, Shakespeare and another - maybe Fletcher, maybe Massinger. Maybe the other fellow simply patched it up years after it had been written or even abandoned by Shakespeare? Macbeth was tampered with after Shakespeare's death. It needn't have been the only case of suchlike villainy.

What about The Tempest? A great deal seems to hang on what sources were used when writing the play. Scholars seem to disagree violently. Some scholars even claim it was never written by Shakespeare at all. These scholars, however, seem a bit biased of course. If it was written after 1604, they claim, then someone else wrote it. Couldn't have been Shakespeare. Why not? Because at that time de Vere was quite dead and not writing anything. Hardly a persuading argument.

No, it's all extremely hazy and blurry, this dating of the plays.

The more serious argument is the lack of any textual evidence linking de Vere and the works of Shakespeare. Without any documents it's all conjecture. However persuasive it may be.

This, in fact, is where a great deal of the charm of the Oxfordian theory lies. It's all a cover-up, it's all a massive conspiracy. And we do love our conspiracy, don't we. What makes the conspiracy theory even more delectable, not to say downright irresistible, is the fact that de Vere's father-in-law was none other than Lord Burghley.

Burghley, William Cecil, was Elizabeth's prime minister and just about the only man in England who could pull off such a cover-up operation successfully. There was no archive to which Burghley didn't have access, no document he couldn't tamper with or make disappear. No doors were closed to him. Disobey him and your life was worth not a farthing. Burghley was the man Walsingham obeyed. Burghley was England's most influential man. If it was his wish that every trace that de Vere was Shakespeare would vanish, then they would vanish. Plain and simple.

The Oxfordians have another theory, an even more outrageous one. de Vere was in fact Elizabeth's son. Or she had an affair with the Queen who bore him a son. No evidence, of course, but it's a good story.

This is apparently what the Emmerich de Vere movie is going to be about. A conspiracy to conceal information lethally dangerous to the crown. This is what the Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Shapiro (author of 1599 and Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare) writes about the Emmerich project called Anonymous in the Los Angeles Times: "When Emmerich says his movie will be about incest and bastards, he means that the story line follows a popular spinoff of Looney's undocumented theory, in which the Earl of Oxford was not only the secret son of the not-so-virginal Queen Elizabeth, but also, when he came of age, her lover. There's more fantasy: the Earl of Southampton was their illegitimate child and likely heir to the throne of England, until he was imprisoned for his role in the Essex Rebellion. And the explanation as to why Shakespeare would have gotten credit for plays and poems the Earl of Oxford wrote? The "real facts" had to be hushed up because a Tudor prince could never be seen to stoop to the lowly business of playwriting. "

Now that's what I call a reason to hush it all up.

But back to the facts. We know hardly anything about Shakespeare's past. We know next to nothing about Shakespeare's life. We don't know much at all when the plays were written or first performed.

That's not a good story.

A conspiracy is a good story. That's why most people will always prefer the cover-ups and the conspiracies to the next to perfect vacuum that is Will's story. As long as we know next to nothing about him or his story, as long as Shakespeare is an anonymous nonentity without a life, people will look for and find a substitute - someone who does have a good story, with the added bonus of a ripping conspiracy.

Because we all do love a good story. Especially one that could be true, well almost anyway.


Goring Dash

Joe Gores's newish prequel to The Maltese Falcon, Spade & Archer, makes me wonder. It's not that I automatically resent the idea of a prequel.

Or, well, maybe I do a bit.

Part, a great part in fact, of what makes a work of art work is the underlying tension beneath the surface and between the characters, and the things that never are explained or clarified. Just what is the relationship between Spade and Archer? What's Effie's story? How did Spade become Spade? What sort of an affair did Iva Archer and Spade have? We don't know. There are hints. This is implied, that may be deduced, the other almost revealed. But nothing definite.

The more clarifications and explanations we have the less interesting it becomes.

Do I really need to know what Spade's father did for a living or where Spade served during the Great War and exactly how he started his own agency? Is it important for me to know everything about Spade and Effie's first encounter? Does it somehow enhance The Maltese Falcon that I be made aware of how Spade and Iva Archer conduct their extra-marital affair behind Archer's back? Do I need it spelled out that Archer's a bit of a card, do I in fact need Archer exposed as an unequivocal rogue?


I'm not denying that I quite enjoyed Spade & Archer and found it a good read, but there was far too much unnecessary exposition and back story that was right on the nose for it to be a really good book. It seemed like Gores's brief was to cover everything up till that magic moment when Miss Wonderly makes her unforgettable appearance and cover it he jolly well did with a vengeance!

That's what made it an embarrasingly semi-autonomous unit and therefore a bit redundant. We were told things that we neither need nor want to know. (Or, actually, we do want to know them, desperately even, that's the whole point, but once we do know them they become unimportant.)

It's a bit like someone writing a prequel to Hamlet (been done, I know I know) and painstakingly connecting every dot and filling every single blank space: showing what the relationship between old Hamlet and Gertrude is like, what the relationship between Hamlet and his father is like, what the relationship between Gertrude and Claudius is like, what the relationship between Hamlet and Claudius is like, how Hamlet's courtship of Ofelia commences and blooms. Everything. Leaving no stone unturned and no worms lurking in the dark damp crevices. Everything is out in the open. And suddenly it's all plain and unambiguous, trite and banal.

The ambiguities are what make it interesting and worthwhile. The ambiguities are what bring it alive.

Without the ambiguities, the unexplained tensions, the unclarified relationships, The Maltese Falcon would be a forgotten book. And justly so. Just like nobody would give a toss about why the fat Dane just doesn't revenge his father and get it over with.

Maybe I'm being rather too hard on Spade & Archer. It's just that I can't help but measure it against Gores's excellent 1975 novel Hammett, which by a curious chance I stumbled upon and read just a couple of weeks before reading Spade & Archer.

It's 1928. Hammett lives in San Francisco and is writing The Dain Curse. Public opinon is turning against the corruption and immorality that permeates the whole town. Brothel keeper Molly Farr is in the eye of the storm and disappears. Were she to talk it would be embarrasing for a lot of influential gentlemen. Hammett's old Pinkerton Buddy Vic Atkinson gets a delicate assignment: to investigate wrong-doings in the San Francisco police department. Vic gets killed early on in the game - no surprises there - and it's up to Hammett to crack the case and hunt down the culprit.

Who turns out to be not quite what Hammett expected. Quite chilly, really. But stays true to the gruesome world of Hammett where no punches are pulled. Ever.

Right after I finished Hammett I had another look at the Wenders/Coppola movie based on the book. What I still can't stand about it is its artificiality, its sterility, its almost hermetic quality. It doesn't breathe. And this is because most of it seems to be filmed in some ghastly studio instead of on location. Shooting scenes on the windy streets of San Francisco would have made it come alive. Now several scenes are almost unwatchable. I don't know if Coppola was going for a claustrophobic noirish feel, maybe he was. But if so he got it terribly wrong. In fact I'm not at all convinced it's particularly wise to try to see Hammett's work (and by proxy Hammett, both the book and movie) in terms of noir. There is a definite kinship, this cannot be denied, but Hammett's stuff transcends noir. The shoe just don't fit.

What Spade & Archer did do for me, and for this reason alone I cannot condemn nor censure the book, was to create the urge to re-read The Maltese Falcon and maybe the entire works of Hammett. And obviously to have another go at the Huston film. I still haven't seen the first two versions, Roy Del Ruth's Satan Met a Lady (1931) and William Dieterle's The Maltese Falcon (1936) in which Sam Spade for some strange reason becomes the rather less well named Ted Shane. Miss Wonderly has the not so enchanting moniker Valerie Purvis but is played by the glorious Bette Davis. Whose birthday, by the way, it seems to be today if Imdb may be trusted.

These two films seem annoyingly, damnably, elusive.