Soft you, a word or two before you go.
I have done the state some service, and they know't.
No more of that. I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
Of one not easily jealious, but, being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drops tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their med'cinable gum. Set you down this.
And say besides that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
I took by th' throat the circumcised dog
And smote him- -

thus.

 
 

That I did love the Moor to live with him
My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world. My heart's subdued
Even to the very quality of my lord.
I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
And to his honor and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him.

Virtue? A fig! 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or
thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our
wills are gardeners. So that if we will plant nettles
or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme,
supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it
with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or
manured with industry, why the power and corrigible
authority of this lies in our wills.

Demand me nothing. What you know, you know.
From this time forth I never will speak word.

 

Crib Notes

Name: The Devil - Othello.

Dramatis Personae: Othello, Moor of Venice; Desdemona; Iago.

Astrology: Capricorn, Saturn, Mars

Hebrew Letter: SAMEKH

 

 Text & Context: The Hebrew letter Samekh means "to lean on", "to support", "to uphold". It is connected to semikah, or the laying on of hands upon the head of a sacrificial victim in a blood ritual, often a bull as with Aaron's sacrifice in Exodus 29:10, or the proverbial scapegoat. Physically, the letter is a closed circle, creating an "O". This can be seen as representing God's creation, one in which the devil plays his part, or as a solitary cell, self-imprisoned in the Absolute.

  Even when Shakespeare does something without reason, he does it with reason. Othello, as a Moor, is the racial and cultural "other", as is Shylock, in the very same military and financial pivot, Venice. Othello has assimilated to this foreign world, as a military man, and his acceptance has been reciprocated as a military man, but his personal place here in time of peace remains shadowy. In the speech before his self-sacrifice, quoted above, Othello claims not to have been a jealous man. When Emelia asks of Othello, "Is he not jealous?" Desdemona replies "Who, he? I think the sun where he was born drew all such humors from him." How, then, does Othello come to kill his wife and yet maintain he "loved not wisely but too well"?

  The answer is Iago, and Iago does not answer. The Tragedy of Othello is the triumph of hatred over love. Iago's hatred exists outside the play, in the real world if you will, the world of the audience. In this world, "honest Iago" is the great dissembler; his white is the Blackamoor's shadow. In Romeo and Juliet, the lovers' speech entwined in poetic unison. Here, Iago and Othello are locked in a dialogue of inverted ego, of fused I's. Othello's own "otherness", fomented by Iago, self-assimilates into Desdemona's demonization - it ferments in this phallic domain, as Lacan would have it, into the absolute female other. Tenuous as the connection was from the outset, Desdemona simply ceases to exist. In this sense, she has a sister in Ophelia. It has been said that if Othello were Hamlet and Hamlet were Othello, each of the plays' issues would be dispatched forthwith. Hamlet, however, is an insider, with time to think, whereas time for Othello is foreshortened, in what the Three Sisters might call "double time". Othello's use then of the word "wrought" is not only the past tense of wreak and its tainted ramifications, but the old past tense of "work" - like a dog, like a lump of earth, Othello has been worked. For those with ears to hear: of one not easily jelly-ous, but being rot...

 

  It is the voice of the ego itself which goes astray; a priori reason that proves deadly in the end. Discreet packets of knowledge, rent from the world and assumed of intent, enshroud like Thisbe's bloodied veil or so many handkerchiefs.  Iago has no need to answer, no one to heed. His one-dimensional stereotype swirls bacterial in the air from Italy to England, even now, now, very now... where an old black ram is tupping your white you.

The DEVIL XV OTHELLO