20 Pages


Almost as oft-cited as Prospero’s retiring wand speech, these lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the happy dyads of lovers and madmen, of apprehension and comprehension, and the mixed collusion of the daily, “a name,” married to the undefinable, “airy nothing,” produce a concentrated meditation on the quality of reception between maker and receiver. Apprehension receives in the wake of the production of images: the horses of the imagination following the cart of shaping fantasies. But the common sense of the word apprehension also includes in its meanings a worrying, an uncertainty, an instinct often fearful. Only madmen and lovers, according to this famous couplet, use apprehension as a divining rod, finding water where the mind perceives dry ground. Comprehension, even in the sound of its saying, circles and settles. Its coolness contrasts with the necessary heat in a word like “seethe.”