Yes, that was me driving down Sunset Boulevard while listening to a podcast on grammar. I was keepin’ it real.
Although I’m usually blaring an audio book, I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts, which I know puts me behind the curve, but who’s keeping track of such things?
In any case, I tuned into a few episodes of Marc Maron’s WTF. I listened to the much-hyped interview with President Obama (very cool to hear the leader of the free world in a relaxed setting) and also tuned into the Robert Rodriguez interview (that guy is a one-man Latino empire).
But for me, the most intense moment of my WTF crash course was Maron’s interview with Sir Ian McKellen.
I’m a big fan, of course. In fact, if I had to have my life narrated, I would choose his voice to do the honors.
McKellen ended his interview by performing a Shakespearan monologue. And he didn’t go with an old favorite like Richard III’s opening speech or King Lear’s crazy talk.
No, he picked an obscure passage from Thomas More (not really a Shakespeare play) that was all about… wait for it… immigration.
I have to believe that someone has socially conscious as McKellen did not pick this speech by accident.
As others have pointed out, McKellen “managed to make a strong moral point, important to the current social and political situation… merely by doing what he is most famous for, reciting Shakespeare beautifully.”
Here is the beginning of McKellen’s monologue:
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl.
It goes on, asking the listener what he would do if he had to leave his country:
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor?
And it ends in breathtakingly powerful fashion:
Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the elements
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the stranger’s case;
And this is your mountanish inhumanity.