The echoes of Hamlet in the present continue as I watch the news. It mediates between our experience of the real, and our thoughts about the real. How are we to act in the face of tragedy? Acting quickly can be as disastrous as acting slowly.
I think apathy is pernicious.
At least Hamlet thinks about acting. And he is the consummate actor unable to perform beyond his own stage. He cannot perform an action in his existence.
George Herbert Mead, a scientific sociological philosopher has noted that to act with intention and purpose is to have an understanding of the “self”. Hamlet does not know himself. He speaks using the infinitive form of verbs, “to be, or not to be”, but acts in the play of his own imagination in a world of deception an lies. He does not place himself, “I”, into the most famous of soliloquies. So do our actions matter?
In “Waking Life” a group of young men walk about spouting philosophies of action: “Live as if something depended upon one’s actions.”
This vignette attempts to show the problematic struggle between the extremes of philosophy and existence. Action without philosophically based intention is as pointless as philosophical intention without action. But, Mead said that
“Our specious present as such is very short. We do, however, experience passing events; part of the process of the passage of events is directly there in our experience, including some of the past and some of the future. “
The gravediggers accept all tenants into the graves they dig, while by contrast the Priest hesitates in offering the rights of passage under religious doctrine, and the living fatherless sons. Laertes and Hamlet, jump into it. In his work, Poem Unlimited, Harold Bloom claims that the “Gravedigger is the reality principle, mortality, while Hamlet is death’s scholar.” (Bloom 76)
One scene remains in the great play, “and the rest is silence”.