“That eye that told you so looked but asquint.”Goneril, from Shakespeare’s King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3
Studying Shakespeare provides a deep well of rich words on which to refresh one’s dehydrated vocabulary. There’s a reason we owe so much of our language to the Bard, and why the best insults come from the master (has anyone read The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt?). For those familiar with King Lear, this quotable quote follows the line “Jesters do oft prove prophets.” It’s a tale of inflated egos run amuck, merciless deception, and the age-old motif of the seeing being blind, and in being blinded, seeing.
In a time when we have access to so much information, it sadly hasn’t curbed our natural propensity to simply see things from our own entrenched perspective. It’s so much easier to make sweeping generalizations (a logical fallacy, by the way) and reduce complex situations to simple either/or choices. Even the Fool in King Lear could see through that ruse. In oversimplifying, we dehumanize, and in dehumanizing we open the door to any extreme, frequently suggesting ends that justify the means (often laced with another logical fallacy like an emotional appeal or circular reasoning). Some of world’s worst atrocities began with simple either/or situations.
I don’t want to go through life “in perpetual squint.” I want to live with eyes wide open. Consider what follows an invitation in the form of a sonnet (more Shakespearean than Petrarchan, of course) to explore “something infinitely more elusive, / more true, undistorted and alive.”
Life Asquint – Vincent H. Anastasi (2015)
We live in perpetual squint.
Askew, our best rhymes but slant.
The dim outlines of eyelids half-closed
vignette our world, self-blurred,
all that we see cast in shadow:
the ogre of ego menacing each tableau.
No wonder each rose reduced
to red and green, each word dissected
to prefix, suffix, root, each image
to magenta, cyan, yellow, and black lacks touch –
something infinitely more elusive,
more true, undistorted and alive.
Forsake this pernicious poison of sight;
open wide eyes and be filled with Light!