He was Man of Infinite Varieties In the Craft of Words with Masques: A High Priest of Poetry of Delphi, A Prefect of the Ancient Knowledge, A Thespian of Comedy and Tragedy, A Hercules whose Might was Pen, An Odysseus in Search of Truth, A Pretorian of Classical Precepts With the elevated Heart of Passion And the exalted satisfaction of Reason Whose Brilliance of Star Outlasts The Celebrity of Instant Comets.
I have always been drawn into a writer whose noble ambition and unswerving individuality are distinct from those of the officialized popularity of famed celebrities simply because of the sheer provocativeness of the author translated into the textual world of reality, which is a reflection of his conceptions by the barrier he establishes proudly and profoundly against those of others. In fact, it is this unapologetic individuality that enables the author to become what he is capable of in protean varieties; an alchemist of words, a high priest of the temple of Apollo, a mortal equivalent of Hercules, a neo-classist of a new renaissance, an independent scholar of the great leaning, and a humanist committed to the Classical principles to contribute to the new capital of the Arts. The hero of the splendid epithets is no less the poet and playwright than Ben Jonson himself, and it is in this superbly told biography Ben Jonson: A Life that his modern disciple Ian Donaldson resurrects the person of Jonson in flesh and spirit vividly.
Ian Donaldson’s Ben Jonson begins with the burial ground of Jonson and then comes alive as Donaldson presents the protagonist Jonson through a phantasmagorical display of the epochal chapters of Jonson’s life as though to be screened for posterity in Immortal Theater of Art. Donaldson’s capacity of screenwriter and director of Ben Jonson’s dramatic life is deprived of blind idolization of Jonson as a suffering lone wolf-typed writer whose brightness was unfairly adumbrated by that of his contemporary peer William Shakespeare, nor is it intent upon accounting the greatness of Jonson over Shakespeare by elucidating the dichotomic feud between the two equally but differently brilliant literary stars in the constellation of Arts. Also, the book rejects the conventional mode of biography in the frame of “cradle to grave” by guiding the reader through specific epochal moments that profoundly influenced Jonson both personally and professionally during one of the most politically and religiously turbulent periods in the history of Great Britain.
Rich in details of the political and social backgrounds of Jonson’s plays and poems in addition to his personal elements that make him stand out among the contemporary literary figures, Donaldson follows the Thucydidean way of examining the history of Jonson in attempt to transcend the subjectivity of the time and popular opinions on the subject and to balance scholarly objective equilibrium to test the validity of truth about the subject matter to the extent possible by holding his express personal opinion thereon. The result is myriad imaginations and images of Jonson as the reader likes to create, whether it be that of dauntlessly confident Achilles, wisely ambitious Agamemnon, divinely valorous Odysseus, or compassionately passionate Hercules.
Upon reading this book, I saw the images of Rodrigo Mendoza played by Robert De Niro from the excellent film “The Mission” and Ben Jonson as himself springing from my mind’s garden as both of their faces a piece like a great Ancient Greek statue. Both of them are passionately devoted to their causes, unfailingly humane, and admirably courageous in fulfilling their destiny to achieve their noble ambitions for the good of humanity – one for the building of terrestrial heaven governed by deeds according to the Gospel in the case of Fr. Mendoza and the other in the person of Jonson for the reconstruction of British Renaissance based upon classical principles as a stratagem of moral and artistic reform. And behind this fascinating literary witchcraft lays Donaldson’s superb biography of Ben Jonson that successfully resurrects the noble and heroic spirit of his literary Hero whose work is enshrined in the Temple of Divine Arts as a scintillating star of the Humanities. And I am sure that Jonson is so happy with Donaldson’s account of his life that he introduces his biographer to the Immortals (including his chum Shakespeare) and that they are having a divine feast with heavenly wine in a constellation of literary stars evermore.
Normally, I don’t post a crude litany of woes or untamed outcry of malaise because that’s not what I want my blog to be filled with. However, today is an exception to the rule because for the last couple of days the receptions to which my published posts have been particularly detrimental to my disposition and averse to my sensitivity. Well, I don’t think it really matters to any of you out there who happens to stumble into my hermit blog, but then I don’t really care what you think about it because it’s my sovereign blog, which is my only safe niche, an elbow room amidst this crazy existential daily life constantly threatening my sanity, bullying my sensitivity, knowing that I am distinct for that “Positive Thinking in Thick Skin” facade.
First of all, I don’t understand how people can follow a blog without liking any of my posts. Are they fishing in for their potential followers? I have noticed so many of them out there without liking any of my posts and following my blog, which I find it very insulting and odd. I am not here to foster an online relationship with anyone out there but to practice my writing skills as well as to use it as my creative, intellectual outlets yearning to surface from within because I can’t just will out what I feel and think without letting it out. Besides, I don’t want my existence to disappear into oblivion, which is a great injustice to my sovereign freedom of expression. That said, I don’t want to build up popularity by getting mindless followers either haughtily not bothering to like my writing or stopping to like it for whatever reasons. That breaks my heart to the extent to which it can’t be sawed up or replaced by a steel heart. It’s imbecility to have followers who are unappreciative of what I write.
Secondly, to pour hot lead into my already wide-open gap of the wounded heart and soul, I saw the stats that although people read my last post about 6 movies from the 60s celebration of National Classic Movie Day yesterday and today, only four people voted for likes! Such disastrous comeuppance made me so disappointed and disheartened that I could not but think that writing could also be a Modus Operandi of detecting all about yourself from the way you looked to where you were from. This betrayed my primal idea about being capable of metamorphosis and travel to become all that I want to be, to do, and to go under the protection of faceless stealth. Faceless because your face could be a hindrance to expressing your self in a true glass of the mind. In order to ascertain the cause of such an outrageously heartbreaking result of the last post, I have read my post over and over again, but there appears to be no sophomorically pesky solecism whatsoever. Further to the attempts, I visited the blogs of others about the same subject, but none of them is hard to regard it as a magnum opus! Do they think my post is inaptly conceived and professionally benighted or just plain average? And they even had comments from their members of the coterie eulogizing how great their picks were! Seeing all of this in my very eyes, I could not help agreeing with Edgar Allan Poe criticizing a clique formed among the New York Literati that excluded any writer outside the league of their own. I don’t think any of them appreciates my writing, and it makes me feel like such a fool that from now onwards, I vow that I will NOT volunteer to do any contributory writing unless I am asked to.
Thus I have reorganized a list of followers because I think it necessary for me to do so for the love of my broken heart and wounded soul. I see writings of others, which are not tours de force but filled with a rhapsody of why their inane posts are great. Jealousy? What hokum! It’s such amusement to see even writings can become a tool for attracting strangers as a social get-together platform. Here I am, a hobbyist amateur writer working 9 to 6 to pay bills and rents but whose literary ambition is as great as Ben Jonson and Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte Bronte had been rejected to have her work published many times and was of the same disposition as I am. (Yes, I am closer to her in temperament and sensitivity than any of you out there who likes to think you are or wants to think you are when you are not!). She and I are in agreement in thinking that any appreciation from a considerate and intelligent reader for our writings is highly appropriate and proper as decorum to the author. You know what I mean?