Moral agency for beginners
....like me! I've been wrestling with the answer to Norv and Harry, and the usually dormant wise-cracking side of me keeps rearing its head. Embarassment and a sense of awkwardness, combined with feeling drawn to the headiness of the task. I wanted to give you lofty quotes from Camus and Sartre and Hannah Arendt, and maybe throw in some Kant and Tolstoi for good measure, but then it started to rain like crazy here in Denton, and the dsl was out for several hours. No biggie, that. I was more frustrated with the interminable voice menu that verizon provides than the temporary loss of service, and once I finally got through to a human being she was very helpful, switching me to another human being(in less than 10 seconds!), and the second human being was also helpful, and I was up and running. Both ladies sounded like they came from the middle-atlantic states.
Now I'm beat. I'll chew on this more later. In the meantime, I note that I was first introduced to Polonius's famous dictum to his son not by Shakespeare, but Gilligan.. In the episode of Gilligan's Island where Harold Hecuba visits the island and they put a show on for him. Alan Hale,Jr, as the Skipper, pretending to be Polonius, singing to Dawn Wells, as Mary Anne, pretending to be his son, §!???
Skipper Polonius: Heed my words, Laertes, and you'll be safe.
Mary Ann Laertes:(aside) Unless I listen, I won’t get my spending money. So I’ll listen, I’ll listen.
Skipper: (Sings) Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
Do not forget:
Stay out of debt;
Think twice, and take this good advice from me,
Guard that old solvency. There’s just
one other thing you ought to do:
To thine own self be true.
And let's be honest: there are millions of us out there, people of my generation who watched the repeats in the seventies, and an earlier generation who watched the original run, who first heard of Hamlet from Sherwood Schwartz. I also learned about morality from the Tintin books my mother bought me. Ultimately I'm not making fun. I just wonder sometimes if we grow up and dress the early lessons with an intellectual patina, because we know we should.
Will pic courtesy Brooklyn College, and
Gilligan cast photo courtesy Russell Johnson.