Archive for November, 2011

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The Tree Has Unfixed His Earth-bound Root; I am MacBeth

{Thunder. THIRD APPARITION,
a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand.}

MACBETH

What is this
That rises like the issue of a king,
And wears upon his baby-brow the round
And top of sovereignty?

ALL

Listen, but speak not to’t.

Third Apparition

Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.

MACBETH

That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements! good!
Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing: tell me, if your art
Can tell so much, shall Banquo’s issue ever
Reign in this kingdom?

ALL

Seek to know no more.

* * *

I was dreaming that the earth was too big to fail. And in any case, the power I’ve consolidated will protect me from the storms and draughts that have begun to plague the planet. These things are just a manifestation of chance. Whether they’ve increased in severity and frequency is a matter of conjecture. Something we might discuss in our spare time. Simply undecidable, unprovable. And it’s that uncertainty that will protect me like a the highest wall of any castle.

Then the dream shifted, and a messenger arrived with a report:

A huge “migration” of trees has begun across much of the West due to global warming, insect attack, diseases and fire, and many tree species are projected to decline or die out in regions where they have been present for centuries, while others move in and replace them, a new study says.

But surely this migration isn’t visible to the naked eye. These trees aren’t on the move. They remain rooted to the earth, this idea of trees marching toward the castle is shear fantasy.

The messenger replied:

“Ecosystems are always changing at the landscape level, but normally the rate of change is too slow for humans to notice,” said Steven Running, the University of Montana Regents Professor and a co-author of the study. “Now the rate of change is fast enough we can see it.”

* * *

{Enter a Messenger}

MACBETH

Thou comest to use thy tongue; thy story quickly.

Messenger

Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do it.

MACBETH

Well, say, sir.

Messenger

As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I look’d toward Birnam, and anon, methought,
The wood began to move.

MACBETH

Liar and slave!

Messenger

Let me endure your wrath, if’t be not so:
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.

MACBETH

If thou speak’st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,
Till famine cling thee: if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in resolution, and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth: ‘Fear not, till Birnam wood
Do come to Dunsinane:’ and now a wood
Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out!
If this which he avouches does appear,
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here.
I gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish the estate o’ the world were now undone.
Ring the alarum-bell! Blow, wind! come, wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.

{Exeunt}

* * *

I awake from this dream and know that I am not Macbeth. I am no character in a play; I’m a real person of flesh and blood. And yet, I seem to wear his clothes and speak his lines. How is it that I feel implicated in his crimes? And the impossible is now visible, the trees have unfixed their earthbound roots and move toward the castle. What is my next move?

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