Numbers always mean something. This is the 20th edition of this newsletter, which, to be honest, is 19 more than I had thought I could write. And on Monday, I'll be writing the 50th Odd Spot of Writing. What this means, to me, is that I can say these two consistent acts of writing are here to stay. I write every day.
These milestones, and the teaching of Macbeth, are what has been occupying my mind this week. Let me explain how I am going to connect the murderous Macbeth to the power of positive thinking.
Upon hearing the witches' prophecy that he'll get the titles of another, Macbeth questions them
"Why do you dress me
In borrowed robes?
He will learn shortly that King Duncan has given that title on him as a reward for Macbeth's bravery and in punishment of treachery to the old thane.
The challenge for Macbeth, or so Shakespeare is teaching us, is to not think you don't deserve better. For me, I resisted the idea of calling myself a writer because I had notions of a writer needed to be actively writing. And who was I to write?
Fuck that. I am dressing myself in the robes of a writer. I write therefore I am.
Macbeth faces a dilemma. The first prophecy came true without him needing to do anything, but what of the second? Of him being king?
King Duncan, post battle, graces the Macbeths by having a sleepover. This provides the perfect opportunity to take what the witches have foretold.
— that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor.
Macbeth is afraid of trying. It is safer to not try, because then you can't fail. He ends this self-talk with "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent." Enter Lady Macbeth. Literally, she enters at this point to urge him into action. He asks what if we fail? To which she simply replies, "We fail."
it's better to regret
Something you have done than
To regret something that you haven't done
"Sweet Loaf" - Butthole Surfers
Where else are you going to get Shakespeare quoted with the Butthole Surfers?
Strike out the light
King Macbeth attempts to outwit the third prophecy - that Banquo's sons will be kings. It is when his henchmen murder Banquo that one of them says, "Who did strike out the light?"
The original vision didn't state when Macbeth's reign would end. And instead of enjoying the perks, he spends his time shoring up his power. He has Macduff's family brutally murdered.
These acts cause Lady Macbeth enormous mental anguish. She's witnessed sleep walking, trying to wash the blood from her hands.
Macbeth has struck out the light by becoming obsessed with the metrics of success. It pushes his wife to commit suicide and will become the end of him in quick succession.
Shakespeare's lesson is, I believe, to always keep the original reason why you attempt something. Don't get caught up in the idea of success for success' sake. Remain positive and true to your original vision of why.
Till next week,