This morning I went for my first run since that one last week during the course of which I fell and hurt my ankle and I'm not providing a link to that older post because let's face it: I've proved I can read stats and my stats invariably show me that my linking to an older does not lead to your clicking through to that post and reading it; so ... Way to defeat the whole purpose of hyperlinks and perhaps the whole idea of Teh Interwebs, People Who "Read" My Blog! Thanks to you, Teh Terrorists have won.
Lately, since the fall1, I've just been riding Morrissey so as not to aggravate the ankle. I rode him — HARD!1! — for like 23.2 miles in four rides. But I figured today was the day to test the ankle out with a short run.
So I headed out the door on to the still-partially-icy sidewalks for a short run that turned out to be 4.04 miles in 37:40; which is 6.4 mph and a 9:18 pace. Not great or even, strictly speaking, good, but I'll take it because it was the first run in a week on an ankle still a little sore; and it was icy out so there were a few turns where I slowed down to something approaching a sub-walking pace.
I finished Timon of Athens last week and I guess it had to happen that I would eventually run across a Shakespeare play that would be disappointing. It's not so much that Timon is bad — though it is by no means good — it's just that, being a (supposed) late-era Shakespeare play, I expected much better. I didn't expect great because I knew enough about the play's checkered history to know it is considered one of Shakespeare's "problem plays"— themselves a pretty heterogeneous group because there are different reasons each is considered a "problem". In the case of Timon, one of the "problems" is ... what the fuck is this thing, exactly? Because in the 1623 First Folio, it was listed among the tragedies, and while it could technically qualify as a tragedy, it's a pretty crappy one. But it certainly isn't a comedy, a romance or a history. In being difficult to classify if you limit your options to Comedy, Tragedy, History, Romance, Timon is kinda like Troilus; only you can say about Troilus, "Okay, this is Shakespeare's one and only satire." No such Option E exists for Timon.
Timon's transformation from paragon of generosity to wilderness-dwelling misanthrope is sudden and, to my mind at least, lacks what Eliot, in his characterization of Hamlet as an "artistic failure", called an objective correlative. There's nothing in the play that allows the reader (or viewer) to feel, and thereby validate, Timon's emotional reactions. My feeling was, Dude, bit of an over-reaction there, dontcha think?
The introduction to the Riverside Shakespeare edition of Timon was written by Frank Kermode, who evidently just died this past August. In grad school, I took a Shakespeare seminar with Kermode and pretty much disliked it, largely because I got the feeling that he was trying to drive at something but I just could not for the life of me grasp what it was. I started getting a bit panicky as the semester ended because I knew I would have to write a paper of at least 20 pages, but I had no idea what angle he could possibly be looking for, even though I was equally certain it was something specific. I finally ended up writing a paper on Hamlet that had like zero to do with what Kermode discussed in the seminar and, in his comments on it, he essentially said, "This is well-written enough, a close reading of the play, but I don't see what it has to do with what we discussed all semester." To which my reaction was, Yeah and whose fault is that, Commode? because I was a real dick of a 24-year-old back then and I would make fun of people's names like that though now I'm far too mature for puerile things like that.
Anyroad, Kermode, in his introduction, offers a number of possible explanations for Timon's crappiness, and even floats the theory that it wasn't supposed to be included in the First Folio at all but was a replacement for another play that the compilers of the First Folio were having difficulties with and so they replaced that latter one with this, essentially, unfinished early draft of a play. Kinda interesting.
Also, in Act V, i 18, Kermode, in his role as editor of the play, provides the following footnotal gloss: "visitation: visit. Shakespeare knew the word visit only as a verb."
I didn't know that. So now, 25 year later, I can finally say that I learned something from Sir John Frank Kermode, may he Rest in Peace.
1 N.B.: Not Teh Fall, i.e., the one in Eden where, With Adam's Fall/ We Sinnéd All. I'm talking about the more significant fall, the one that gave me my hand and ankle boo-boos.