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Tag: King Lear

The madness and eclipse of King Lear

Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Tonight, the moon will noticeably, progressively get darker as the sun, the Earth and the moon converge in an instance of perfect cosmic alignment to create a lunar eclipse. This only total lunar eclipse of 2019 will be visible in North America, South America, Western Europe and North-western Africa.

There were many superstitions in the Elizabethan period, one being that an eclipse was an omen of evil. Shakespeare may have witnessed the partial lunar eclipse of 27 September 1605 and the total solar eclipse of 12 October that year, and both may have influenced his King Lear, which was first staged on St. Stephen’s day 1606. “Nothing will come of nothing,” goes Lear’s warning. The raging monarch has endured so many indignities — doomed by his vanity, deceived by sycophants, abandoned to madness… The Bard’s tragedy is a bleak depiction of family and state breakdown.

“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend
no good to us: though the wisdom of nature can
reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself
scourged by the sequent effects: love cools,
friendship falls off, brothers divide: in
cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in
palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son
and father. This villain of mine comes under the
prediction; there’s son against father: the king
falls from bias of nature; there’s father against
child. We have seen the best of our time:
machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all
ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our
graves. Find out this villain, Edmund; it shall
lose thee nothing; do it carefully.”

William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I, Scene 2

King Lear


Dealing with dementia. Is there an app for that?

Tuesday, 29 April, 2014 0 Comments

Stats: As of last year, 44.4 million people worldwide were diagnosed as suffering from dementia. This number will increase to 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in the developing world. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours. Already 62 percent of those with dementia live in developing countries.

What is it like to suffer from dementia? It must be hellish. In aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK,Facebook users are today being invited to experience what it is like to live with the disease. The FaceDementia app “takes over” your page, and temporarily erases important memories, imitating how dementia affects the brain. Users can watch their photos and status updates disappear before their eyes. Terrifying.

In a related development, the creators of the Re-MindMe app are aiming to help dementia sufferers, their family members and care givers. The idea is to use mobile devices to preserve a person’s long-term memories and thereby keep them mentally active and interacting with people. The developers are seeking backers using the crowdcube funding platform and they’ve raised £30,240 of the £150,000 target for 15 percent of the equity so far.

If you want to learn more about the tragedy of dementia, go to a performance of King Lear. Shakespeare understood the descent into darkness: “Who is it that can tell me who I am?”