Ter­ror of the witches’ prophecy

Deccan Chronicle - - EDIT - Jawed Naqvi

In a phe­nom­e­nally wired world like ours we should ideally be more en­light­ened and con­nected. The re­al­ity is the op­po­site, border­ing on the oc­cult. There seems to be more fo­cus on the witches’ prophecy to divine the truth, in a man­ner of speak­ing, than on Macbeth’s lurk­ing am­bi­tions.

As re­vealed with damn­ing proof by Messrs Ju­lian Assange and Ed­ward Snow­den, peo­ple are be­ing steadily shep­herded to­wards the opaque, to be­come more bereft of ra­tio­nal rea­son­ing than was their lot ear­lier.

Con­sider the read­ily ad­vo­cated logic of more per­va­sive se­cu­rity — as op­posed to an hon­est ap­praisal of the malaise, say, in the af­ter­math of the Manch­ester slaugh­ter. Take any other dev­as­tat­ing mo­ment in any other part of the world — the at­tack on Chris­tians in a bus in Egypt, on the heels of the Manch­ester car­nage. It is not dif­fi­cult for our frayed minds to grasp the link be­tween the two tragedies. Stretch the logic fur­ther though, and one feels a stub­born lack of com­pre­hen­sion, an in­abil­ity to see the con­nec­tion be­tween the drown­ing of three-year old Alan Kurdi in the Mediter­ranean Sea on a bad day and the death of SaffieRose Rous­sos, the an­gelic eight-year-old who died in a Manch­ester mu­sic hall with 21 other mostly young beau­ti­ful peo­ple.

Jeremy Cor­byn saw the link but Theresa May shouted him down. It’s use­ful to re­call what he said just three days af­ter the at­tack on one of Bri­tain’s most cos­mopoli­tan cities: “Many ex­perts in­clud­ing pro­fes­sion­als in our in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity ser­vices have pointed out the con­nec­tions be­tween wars that we have been in­volved in, or sup­ported or fought in other coun­tries such as Libya, and ter­ror­ism here at home.” That’s ex­actly what Bernie San­ders and Noam Chom­sky have been say­ing too. Cor­byn added, to be sure, that his “as­sess­ment in no way re­duces the guilt of those that at­tack our chil­dren. Those ter­ror­ists will for­ever be re­viled and im­pla­ca­bly held to ac­count for their ac­tions”.

Tra­di­tion­ally, jum­bling fair with foul is as­so­ci­ated with witchcraft. There are no witches, of course, only hu­mans play­ing their roles while blam­ing it on the su­per­nat­u­ral. Pro­fes­sor Bradley likened the witches’ prophecy in Macbeth to “equiv­o­ca­tion of the fiend”, which is a rea­son­ably fa­mil­iar hu­man trait, is it not? It’s com­monly called dou­ble-speak.

Three ap­pari­tions on the heath brought happy tid­ings to Macbeth, which are said to have con­tained the seeds of the hero’s doom, never mind his own lurk­ing am­bi­tions. Shake­speare’s use of the oc­cult (or Bi­mal Roy’s for that mat­ter) did not pre­clude ra­tio­nal think­ing.

It is dif­fi­cult to see the Manch­ester tragedy with­out ref­er­ence to Tony Blair and David Cameron who both took turns in stir­ring the witches’ brew. An al­ter­na­tive way to un­der­stand the pain and suf­fer­ing set off by mind­less killers could re­quire us to ac­cept the witches’ mumbo jumbo: “Dou­ble, dou­ble toil and trou­ble;/Fire burn and cal­dron bub­ble./Cool it with a ba­boon’s blood, /Then the charm is firm and good.”

Tak­ing the witches’ war dance in Macbeth se­ri­ously, as some of us can be lulled into do­ing, would re­quire us to be look­ing for a ba­boon, a fall guy, but where? In Iran? China? Or per­haps in Moscow?

By ar­range­ment with Dawn

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