Sound and Fury

Sound and Fury in BosniaScott Bennett | 1994 | Oil and collage on board | Private Collection

A photograph of a child appeared on the front page of the newspaper.

The accompanying story, explained that retarded* children in special hospitals had been abandoned during the war and were dying from dehydration and starvation. I was moved by sorrow and anger about life itself.

The title is from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, from Act 5, Scene 5

The words “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” were on my mind.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

*Retarded is used in its denotative sense here, that is to say, its original meaning and not in the informal and now “idiotically” stupid connotative sense that would seek to make it an offensive word by viewing it as a pejorative. There is a long history in literature of the evil of  trashing perfectly good words through ignorance of their denotation. The misuse of the word ‘occupy’ (That became the equivalent of ‘fuck!’) is one such example:

“A captain! God’s light, these villains will make the word as odious as the word ‘occupy;’ which was an excellent good word before it was ill sorted: therefore captains had need look to ‘t.” – Doll Tearsheet, William ShakespeareHenry IV, part 2

The promise of life is mostly empty but the pain is always full.

Scott Wilmot Bennett

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