Nov 112016

by Kim Pederson…….

Admittedly, it’s kind of a wonky catchphrase. We have Shakespeare to thank for it, as we do many other cliches that were not cliches when he wrote them but rather snarky little gems of intellect and wit (or more laconically, SLGIWisms, pronounced “sill-geh-wiz-ems”). What am I talking about? See if this rings any bells.

Let it work;
For tis sport to have the enginer [military engineer]
Hoist with his own petar[d]; and ‘t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them to the moon

To the moon, R&G!*

To the moon, R&G!*

If no bells are ringing, these are Hamlet’s words (yes, from the play) after he discovers that his “friends” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been ordered by Hamlet’s stepfather Claudius to take a letter to the King of England asking him, the king, to kill him, the Hamster. Hamlet alters the letter so that R&G are the ones executed.

Hamlet could have said something simple like “these guys are toast” but that would have meant author Bill passing up a SLGIWism opportunity, which he was wont not to do (verily). A petard is “a small bomb for blowing up gates and walls.” Being hoist by your own petard refers to occasions when a careless engineer gets blown up (hoisted into the air) by his own bomb.

Here on the day after the event many people, including me, thought could never happen, the phrase seems particularly relevant and a warning is in order: Donald, Congress, America, Americans? Mind your own petards.

*A lithograph of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the flute scene from Hamlet by Eugène Delacroix. Public Domain.

Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.

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Kim Pederson
Kim Pederson has been a freelance writer and editor since 1996. Prior to that, he was Senior Editor with Charles River Associates, an international economics consulting firm. Kim earned a B.A. in English (Honors) from the University of Montana and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop. His plays have won awards and been produced in Seattle and other locations; his screenplays have won awards and been optioned, and he has done work-for-hire scripts for film production companies. Kim lives in Key West with his wife Kalo and two Maine coon cats, VeuDeu and Pazuzu.
 November 11, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #192, Kim Pederson  Add comments