Falstaff: ‘I will not lend thee a penny.’
Pistol: ‘Why then the world‘s mine oyster, which I with sword will open.’
[Merry Wives of Windsor, 2.2.1-3]
It is there from the moment you wake and feel the sheets around you to the minute you turn off the light for sleep at night, every day, month, year. Whether manifested through yourself or the product of another, ‘The World is my Oyster‘ is the mantra, the obsession, the desolation – and the reality.
Shakespeare did not give us the ‘World‘ as our ‘Oyster‘; he gave us ‘Pistol’, an extravagant fool and cowardly bully who makes a threat when Falstaff refuses to lend him money. Flying into a child-like rage, he asserts that he will take what he wants by force if it is not given, and make it his. In Elizabethan times the Oyster was seen as signifying female parts, and the purity of the Pearl. Add ‘sword’ to the mix and a picture emerges of Ignorance raping Nature.
In one dimension, that of ‘corporate personhood’, as the needs and rights of inanimate man-made systems and an ever more greedy technosphere dictate the future (and definition) of Sense and Beauty, people are forced to water down their humanity until its meaning is lost. Under this new world order, the World is no longer our Oyster.
But then it never was, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for ever wanting it to be. Even oysters are endangered now. As soon as we realise the world is not ours to prise open and possess, but our home to cherish and share, we can begin making amends.
Congratulations to Bolivia for passing the ‘Law of Mother Earth’.
Take Physic, Pomp!