Saturday, June 27, 2020

"I am not what I am."--Iago, to Roderigo. Othello, Act I, sc. 1

There is a reason for this. Truthfulness is a basic condition for trust between people. In the Genesis account, God caused the builders of the Tower of Babel to speak in different tongues so they could not understand one another and could not collaborate in even the simplest tasks. If people cannot believe one another, communication breaks down, trust becomes impossible, and society corrodes.

This is a perfect summation of Shakespeare's "Othello."  Iago lies to everyone, and no one should trust him (he says so himself).  But they do, because why shouldn't they?  Iago hides his lies so carefully and even when he's plain about them (to Roderigo), he is still trusted.  And he ruins the lives of Roderigo, Desdemona, Othello, Emilia, and Bianco.  He almost threatens the Duke's authority in Cyprus, to boot.  Shakespeare's play is clearly about the importance of duty and more, the importance of trust and trustworthiness to human society itself.

Never thought I'd see a live-action version of that tragedy played out on the national stage.

Once Iago was exposed he was done for.  Bill Barr is better off, and still no better a character than Iago.  (And is Trump really the source of corruption in the White House?  Or is he simply what allows it?  Iago didn't corrupt Roderigo so much as reel him into his schemes.)

1 comment:

  1. Charles Fried is not someone I would trust any farther than I could throw Barr's weight. He has been as two-faced as John Bolton on these issues and he's a published commentator on the scope of the unitary executive fascism of the Federalist Society types going back to the Reagan years. He wrote about the fact that if the Reagan crowd was big on it the Bush crime family were enormous on it. His claim that people breathed a sigh of relief when Barr was confirmed is all the proof anyone would need that he's as much of a skeet as Barr is, Barr's propensity to aid and abet presidential criminality goes back to the 1980s at least.