Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done, is done.
She should have died hereafter; there would have been a time for such a word.
to beguile the Time
if it were done
when 'tis done,
then 'twere well it were
mock the Time
Poure the sweet Milke of Concord into Hell
the Time you may so hoodwink
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we'll not fail.
I feele now the future
in the instant
Name: The Tower - Macbeth
Dramatis Personae: Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, King of Scotland. Lady Macbeth, Queen.
Astrology: Mars, Uranus
Hebrew Letter: AYIN
Text & Context: The 16th Hebrew letter ayin means "eye", and so by extension"to see". The letter is shaped like a Y, like the optic nerve that leads to the brain. The bifurcated aspect of the letter suggests inherent choice, the option of balance between good and evil within. As light enters the soma or self through the eyes, so the self or ego unfolds and refashions that which it sees. As Christ said, speaking of the mouth, "Not that which goeth into...but that which cometh out... defileth a man." The eyes are the windows of the soul, the soul is the reflection of God in man; No man comes to God the father but through the I. "If thine eye be impure, thy whole self shall be full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness."
The Tower is a card and Macbeth a play about this very darkness. From the start, the play is like a dream. The words of the weird sisters, "Fair is foul and foul is fair" describe a world of extremes, imbalance, conflation - up is down, good is bad, right left. Macbeth is shown things which he knows cannot be, and still a black ink wells up and drowns him from the inside out. Proper limits, which keep the universe functioning, are castrated; Nature along with it. The fates do not compel Macbeth and the world as they would, rather Macbeth makes the world as he would have it. Where fair is foul, one had best hold one's own counsel.
Instead, by killing King Duncan in his sleep, Macbeth kills his own release. He seals his own fate, locking up the sickness within, letting in no light. Holed up inside, no more rest will Macbeth get until the sleep of death. The power and prestige Macbeth and his Lady sought and achieved through falsehood and defilement are, in the end, of no worth. Rather, they are the brick and mortar of the prison Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are buried deeper within day by day. When Phaeton, Helios' upstart son, drove his father's chariot so off-course it threatened to jeopardize the equilibrium of the cosmos, the allfather Zeus - father of Mars - sent a lightning bolt to correct the usurping son's course. A fissure, as a crack in a bowl the moment it breaks; a frisson, where - as in a dream or the epiphany of a koan - the bowl becomes whole upon breaking.
Venus is Mars' leveler and consort, the irresistible female force equivalent to his immoveable masculine object, seen in The Empress and The Moon cards. Here, in the phallic Tower, the male aspect has so taken hold that even Macbeth's lady has been unsexed; her influence every bit as wicked as any man's. Much has been made of Macbeth's ambitions and his virile abilities. Frankly, these are suppositions, as the Macbeth of the play displays very little of either capacity. The mantle of power he has stolen sits on him "like a giant's robe upon a dwarfish thief." Macbeth admits, "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other." We may ask: what other? The only ambition Macbeth actually evinces in for peace, a sick man calling for sleep after fever, a purge, physic for pain, a "sweet oblivious antidote", and, above all, peace of mind - a cure for which he will not find, except in that remedy which kills the host.
The economy of Macbeth is breathtaking. In Hamlet, agency is stifled by a protracted consciousness; in Macbeth, thought is trammeled by action. Unlike Hamlet or Othello, Macbeth has none of their nobility of nature. From the moment the play opens, he shrivels and recedes until the play's end, riding the nightmare of Hamlet's bounded nutshell of infinite space. As the utter darkness from the shadow of Dunsinane spreads, so the pace of a world running headlong into "much admired disorder" symbolizes the unchecked inner forces reaching their flash-point in The Tower.
Subtext: MacDuff, having seen the slain king, cries to Lennox: "destroy your sight with a new Gorgon." On the shield of Pallas Athena is the head of a Gorgon, the sight of which turns men to stone. Lady Macbeth, trying to rouse Macbeth to better see himself immediately after killing Duncan, says "the sleeping and the dead are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil." Macbeth cries: "Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls." The Hebrew ayin, shaped like a Y, became the pictograph for an eye under the Canaanites, and later, under the Phoenicians, an O. An O is The Tower, as seen from Olympus.
In one of his most striking images, Shakespeare paints this picture:
What hands are here? ha! they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Incarnadine refers to the colour of flesh; connected to incarnate, it means "to make flesh-coloured" or "to make flesh".
Beneath the tale lifted from Scottish history, what may be being allegorized here is the usurpation of Edward de Vere by the upstart William Shaksper. In publishing plays which were anonymous as his own, singled out for harsh stricture by Ben Jonson in this Poetape, it may be claimed the crow Shaksper usurped Oxford's crown. Oxford, forced to remain anonymous, would have no recourse legally, and little recourse otherwise, save a veiled attack in print.
Oxford had been Endimion, the Euphues King, asleep in his cell at Silexedra. What dreams may come were the work he created and fostered under the aegis of Fisher's Folly, his real life Silexedra [Latin for "stone hall", with sil Old Norse for "herring"]. Like Endimion, de Vere's identity was made to sleep by the moon queen, Diana. Macbeth kills the sleeping Duncan, like Shaksper de Vere, who is himself unable to dream. de Vere was a friend of the Lennox family; the role of Lennox in Macbeth is invented by the author. The Lennox's were patrons of Ben Jonson, himself of Scottish descent. Under James I, Jonson became in effect the first Poet Laureate. At the end of Hamlet may be seen acquiescence to the son of the nation's monarch to the north, his parent killed by Denmark's monarch, as the author's reluctant consent to James IV of Scotland, whose mother Mary was killed while a guest in England by Elizabeth. Macbeth is often cited as an open courting of James' favor, a ludicrous claim for a number of reasons, including the inordinate amount of bloodshed in a play supposedly meant to flatter the Stuart lineage and the involvement of said in witchcraft, a topic James took very seriously.
In the incarnadine line cited above, then, we see the hidden writer's hand made flesh, making the green one red - French for green is vert, pronounced vere, and in red can be read "read". Reporting Duncan's murder, MacDuff cries "Confusion now hath made his masterpiece! Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope the Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence the life o' the building!" Similarly, a light is shone on the reference to the healing hand of Edward the Confessor. The poor and sickly look to the false king Macbeth/Shaksper to minister to them, instead the true King Edward imparts this to Malcolm: "Macbeth is ripe for shaking." Perhaps in Malcolm can be seen Ben Jonson, having served alongside Francis de Vere, caught up in the War of the Theaters, and integral architect of Shakespeare's towering achievement, The First Folio.
Intertext: Crowns 7 Banquo
The Tower XVI Macbeth