Saturday, January 27, 2024

.Hamlet, Human Existence, & AI - finale


This is the final column on Hamlet and how he stuck his foot in the door of my deep life purpose contemplation. The final AI essay from ChatGPT, in my opinion, is the best, and the right place to conclude this series. Or until Hamlet tries to visit again.


ChatGPT: Write a 300 word article on how Hamlet demonstrates "to be, or not to be."


Shakespeare's iconic play, "Hamlet," opens with one of the most famous soliloquies in literature, where the eponymous protagonist grapples with the timeless question: "To be, or not to be." In this introspective and philosophical monologue, Hamlet contemplates the nature of existence, the pains of life, and the uncertainties of death.

The soliloquy serves as a window into Hamlet's tortured psyche. As the prince ponders the pros and cons of life and death, he delves into the core of human experience. The opening line, "To be, or not to be, that is the question," encapsulates the fundamental quandary that has intrigued thinkers for centuries – the fundamental choice between enduring the hardships of life or succumbing to the unknown of death.

Hamlet's exploration of the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" reflects the inevitability of suffering in the human condition. The metaphorical "sea of troubles" he mentions conjures an image of life's turbulent and unpredictable nature. The soliloquy resonates with existential themes, echoing the broader philosophical inquiries of Shakespeare's era into the purpose and meaning of life.

The contemplation of suicide in Hamlet's soliloquy goes beyond a mere consideration of physical death. It becomes a metaphor for the internal struggles and conflicts that torment the prince. His fear of the "undiscovered country" – the afterlife – reflects a profound uncertainty about what awaits beyond the threshold of mortality.

Despite the weighty subject matter, Hamlet's soliloquy is not a straightforward expression of nihilism. The struggle to endure the "whips and scorns of time" suggests a resilience, a hesitation to embrace non-existence. The fear of the unknown, the potential for something worse in death, gives pause to Hamlet's contemplation.

In "Hamlet," the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy encapsulates the universal struggle with the complexities of existence. Hamlet's introspection becomes a mirror reflecting the existential dilemmas that have intrigued and haunted humanity throughout the ages. The enduring power of these words lies in their ability to resonate with audiences, prompting reflection on the profound question that defines the human experience: to be, or not to be.

Chat GPT: Write a 300 word article on how Hamlet demonstrates, "Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be."


While the sentiment of "Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be" might seem incongruent with the intense and contemplative nature of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," there are moments in the play where this fatalistic philosophy subtly weaves its way into the narrative.

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, is burdened by a sense of foreboding and a deep contemplation of fate. The ghostly apparition of his father, urging him to avenge his murder, sets in motion a chain of events that thrust Hamlet into a complex web of moral ambiguity and political intrigue. Despite his desire for justice, Hamlet's actions are often paralyzed by doubt and the weight of his predicament.

In the famous "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, Hamlet grapples with the notion of existence and the uncertainties of life and death. While not an outright embrace of fatalism, this contemplation reflects a recognition of life's inherent unpredictability. Hamlet acknowledges the slings and arrows of fortune, painting a picture of a world where external forces shape destinies beyond individual control.

The recurring theme of revenge, central to the plot, introduces an element of predestination. Hamlet is thrust into a predetermined path, compelled to fulfill a filial duty. However, his internal struggles and the complexities of the human condition introduce an air of unpredictability, challenging the fatalistic undertones.

The phrase "Que Sera Sera" implies a surrender to destiny, an acceptance of whatever the future may hold. In Hamlet's case, this resignation becomes evident in moments of introspection and inaction. The unpredictable turns of the plot, including the tragic conclusion, reflect the play's acknowledgment of the capricious nature of fate.

While Hamlet is not a character who explicitly embraces a "Que Sera Sera" philosophy, the play, in its exploration of existential angst, revenge, and the machinations of power, subtly touches upon the idea that, in the grand tapestry of life, certain events may be beyond mortal control. The interplay between free will and fate in "Hamlet" invites audiences to contemplate the inevitability of certain outcomes, echoing the sentiment that whatever will be, will be.


from me: I find a little bit of comfort in the "fatalistic philosophy" as cheerfully proposed by the song "Que Sera, Sera." Not sure if that kicks me out of the OverThinkers Club. Thanks for playing along as I was finding out more about Artificial Intelligence.



Friday, January 26, 2024

Hamlet Meets AI


As an active member of the Overthinkers Club (using this as a as a bon mot - if there is a real Overthinkers Club - contact me!) I find Hamlet and his issues still stomping around in my head. I began wondering how to get an succinct explanation of his troubles - especially how they relate to two famous quotes on human existence.

 Maybe someone could do the research for me. "Someone"such as ChatGPT. So here is what I got in response asking how Hamlet is demonstrative of the expression, "I act, therefore, I am," and, "I think, therefore, I am."

2 essays by chat GPT 

Hamlet: The Existential Drama of "I Act, Therefore I Am"

Gilbert Ryle's concept of "I act, therefore, I am" takes center stage in Shakespeare's timeless tragedy, "Hamlet." As the brooding Prince of Denmark grapples with moral dilemmas, existential angst, and the burdens of the crown, his actions become a poignant reflection of his identity and existence.

Hamlet's internal conflicts manifest in his actions, or lack thereof, throughout the play. The famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy, often examined for its existential ponderings, also encapsulates Hamlet's internal struggle with indecision and inaction. Ryle's assertion that actions define one's being finds resonance in Hamlet's hesitations and calculated moves, highlighting the intricacies of his character.

The prince's contemplative nature often leads to prolonged moments of inaction, such as his delay in avenging his father's murder. Hamlet's reluctance to act impulsively underscores Ryle's philosophy that actions are not mere consequences but integral components of one's selfhood. Each pause, every calculated decision, speaks volumes about Hamlet's internal turmoil and the depth of his introspection.

The play's unfolding drama at Elsinore Castle serves as a canvas where Hamlet's actions, or the lack thereof, become brushstrokes depicting the complexities of human existence. His feigned madness, strategic encounters, and internal debates all contribute to the mosaic of a character whose essence is intricately interwoven with his deeds.

In the climactic duel in the final act, Hamlet's decisive actions bring the tragedy to its inevitable conclusion. The duel becomes the crucible in which Hamlet's authenticity is tested, his actions determining the course of his fate. Ryle's assertion that action is the bedrock of identity finds its ultimate expression as Hamlet, in a final burst of agency, takes control of his destiny.

In "Hamlet," Gilbert Ryle's philosophy is embodied in the prince's actions, which become the very fabric of his being. The play invites audiences to contemplate the profound connection between action and identity, leaving them with the enduring truth that, in the realm of Hamlet, "I act, therefore, I am."

 and, the other side of the Chat GPT coin:

Hamlet: The Existential Drama of ""I Think, Therefore, I Am."

Shakespeare's masterpiece, "Hamlet," serves as a profound exploration of existential philosophy, echoing the famous dictum, "Cogito, ergo sum" or "I think, therefore, I am," articulated by René Descartes. The play unfolds as a tapestry of introspection, with Hamlet, the brooding Prince of Denmark, becoming the embodiment of philosophical inquiry.

From the outset, Hamlet is thrust into a world of uncertainty and betrayal with the sudden death of his father, King Hamlet. It is in the wake of this tragedy that the prince's introspective journey begins. The ghostly apparition of his father sets the stage for Hamlet's philosophical turmoil, compelling him to question the very nature of reality and existence.

As Hamlet grapples with the weight of his father's murder and the subsequent marriage of his mother to his uncle, his soliloquies become windows into a mind wrestling with profound existential questions. The famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy encapsulates Hamlet's contemplation on the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. In this moment, the prince's thoughts become a manifestation of his existence, a testament to the Cartesian notion that thinking is the undeniable proof of being.

Throughout the play, Hamlet's intellect becomes both his weapon and his burden. His constant questioning of the motives of those around him and the authenticity of his experiences paints a picture of a mind caught in the intricate web of doubt and introspection. The complexities of courtly life at Elsinore Castle serve as a backdrop to Hamlet's philosophical journey, mirroring the chaos and moral ambiguity of the human condition.

In the end, as the tragedy unfolds and Hamlet meets his demise, his intellectual odyssey stands as a testament to the enduring power of thought. The prince's existential crisis, his doubts, and his philosophical musings become the threads that weave together a narrative that echoes Descartes' timeless declaration. In "Hamlet," the tumultuous realm of Denmark becomes a stage for the exploration of the self, where thinking becomes the indisputable proof of existence.

Thoughts on the next Hamlet essay questions: How does Hamlet relate to:

"To be, or not to be."

Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be, will be.)

Stay tuned.



Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Contemplation #4 - Thinking About Acting With Hamlet

On occasion (ok, fairly often) I stumble across something I’ve never heard of before, only to find out that lots of people have been discussing it for years.  I did know that many, many people have written libraries full of the analysis of Hamlet. My recent small discoveries about him pale in the Shakespearean study world, but still mean quite a bit to me. I wrote about Hamlet as part of my contemplations about whether I should focus on what is still “to be” for me, or on what “I am” today. One would think that is enough to occupy life contemplations, at least for a bit. But my brain had other plans.


Why and how, I can’t say, but when the quote from Rene Descartes, “I think, therefore, I am” came across my path, I was pulled out of one rabbit hole and dumped in another. My very first attempt at researching this quote, and what others had to say about it, revealed something surprising. Hamlet stuck his foot in the door. 


First, it was a dissertation summary at Texas A&M titled “I act therefore I am: identity and performance in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.” I quickly found out it wasn’t a quote from Hamlet, but was describing Hamlet’s character. The summary ends with “The biblical God asserts, ‘I am that I am,’ philosopher Ren ̌Descartes, ‘I think therefore I am,’ and the character of Hamlet ‘I act therefore I am,’ suggesting that the developing inner self, must find outward expression to be actualized.” (Note: I REALLY wanted to insert commas in the quotes but resisted.)


It took me a while to sort through all the wrong opinions about the expression “I act, therefore, I am,” and finally found  it expressed by Philosopher Gilbert Ryle as a disagreement with Descartes. Ryle states that it is behavior that creates “self,” not thought. Right now, I am not so sure who is right as I try to dig my way out of this rabbit hole- both thinking and acting. I dig, therefore, I think.

 (I wanted to end this saying that Hamlet is the real Ghost in the Machine, but I thought better about that action.)

I'm Not Crying ... Yes I am.


I don't know how I missed this the first time around... Check out how you can participate in JoyFest

Friday, January 19, 2024

“Fear Strikes Out” Jimmy Piersall and Me


Every so often, especially when anxiety is getting the best of me, I think of Jimmy Piersall, a gifted, but trouble baseball player who spent some time playing with my beloved Mets. It was his book, written the year I was born, that made the greatest impact on me. Eventually, what was then referred to as “crazy behavior,” we now understand as bipolar disorder.

I read the book at a young age, finding some comfort in knowing that others grew up in dysfunctional families. His mother, on occasion, needed to be hospitalized due to her mental health issues – she may even have been catatonic at times. I felt a kinship to Piersall’s childhood. My mother was never hospitalized, but it was alcoholism that kept her aloof and silent. I read his book over and over.

Many years later, I worked for someone who was scheduled to meet with Piersall at his post-baseball job. My boss couldn’t believe how excited I was, and I convinced him to take my well-worn book along with a note, asking for his signature and thanking him for writing about a then-taboo subject.

I still think that running backward around the bases to celebrate his 100th home run a was celebratory tribute to his fans as well as his tenacity to sticking with baseball, despite his mental health challenges. The Mets, however, didn’t see it that way and he was released two days later.

Yesterday, I had an anxiety attack, and I wrote about how I was feeling in raw terms. I realize that came as a surprise on a blog called “Living on the Smile Side of Life.” However, for all of us, there are days when smiles are hard to come by, resilience is depleted, and our brains slide toward the dark side. Those are the times when dark poetry inhabits my keyboard – and with every keystroke, I help myself transfer the thoughts to the page. Although Jimmy Piersall struggled for most of his life, I am grateful to him, and others, who were able to transfer their trauma to the page. What habit, practice, hobby, or action helps you strike out fear? I’m considering, once winter is over, finding an empty baseball diamond and jogging around the bases, backwards.


Piersall's 100th Home Run




Thursday, January 18, 2024

Feeling Extreme Anxiety Repeating



All it took was a mention on the radio of a play featuring a 100-year-old woman. My gut clenched, my breath quickened, and in flooded the thoughts of death. Of course I am writing about this now because the feeling just keeps coming back, and it has brought friends.


Feeling 1 – You are going to die.

Feeling 2-  You ARE going to die.

Feeling 3- You’re a failure.

Feeling 4 – you are old, you are a failure, you are going to die.

Feeling 5 – silence. Just creepy physical waves of fear.

I’ll be recycling these five for a while. Talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, January 12, 2024

A Message to My Friends and Supporters - especially the members of Innovation Women

 Contemplations continues. Today I start the decisions about what to step back from, and what to keep moving forward. Time to blaze a path through 2024, with eyes wide open, and heart comforted. It isn't easy, but resolving to work with "who I am" instead of "who I might be," is a heavy, serious, undertaking. And I'd like to see where it takes me, you know, before I have anything to do with undertakers.

Good morning to my dear Innovation Women friends! I am sending you this message to let you know how much I appreciate everything that all of you do, and your generosity in sharing tips, tricks, and tell-alls! 


In 2024 I will be stepping back from speaking engagements - the "tale of the tape" reveals a lot of effort for a small reward. As Annie Meehan advised me, "You can't go full time until you can replace the income." And that just isn't happening.

I will continue my laughter work with occasional presentations at my full time job, and I will be spending more time writing - the one thing that has been with me all my life and helps me fulfill my mission and purpose. I will also continue teaching well-being-related classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rutgers University. (The Spring catalog is out, and I have two classes scheduled - all virtual!)

I also have some personal reasons, including being available to family who are experiencing medical issues. Being Mom will always come first. Again, thanks for all you do, and I'll catch you down the road.

one more thing: With writing being focus of all things in my life, I would be remiss if I didn't take time to shamelessly promote my work.

Buy My Books

Read My Articles on BizCatalyst

Read My Articles on Medium

Read My Articles on 30Seconds


Friday, January 5, 2024

Contemplation #3 - Thanks, Socrates


Well, thanks for that bit of encouragement, Socrates.


The Twelfth Day of Christmas occurs tomorrow, the unofficial signal that the holiday season has come to an end, the decorations should be put away, and the twinkly lights turned off. There are smatterings of decorations and lights for various celebration coming up, but basically, January starts the “let’s get serious” time of year. Since I have already designated 2024 as the ramp up to my 70th birthday, complete with resolutions to stop thinking about “who I could be” and start focusing on “who I am,” I’m starting off the countdown with a stream-of-consciousness assessment of “where I am.”

1.     Career/job/hobby

a.     I am a still full-time employee who is also working 2 other gigs on the side.

b.     Is the necessity of the money from one source preventing success with the other gigs?

c.     Since those other gigs live in the “who I could be” world, do I give them up?

d.     Conclusion: Who I am in this realm

                                               i.     I am staying employed to support myself.

                                             ii.     I am doing other activities because they fulfill my purpose.

                                            iii.     I am not giving up, but I am reassessing cost/benefit realities.

2.     My roles/emotions/responsibilities

a.     I am feeling the love of a mother, a grandmother, a life partner, a friend, a woman, a citizen.

b.     I am feeling the pain of ostracism, exclusion, disrespect, and grief.

c.     I am responsible for my own happiness, satisfaction, and contentment, as well as managing disappointment, failure, sadness, and anger.

d.     Conclusion: Who I am in this realm

                                               i.     I am accepting my multifaceted roles.

                                             ii.     I am also accepting the roles that have been thrust on me.

                                            iii.     I am living in the present, taking care of my resilience in both good times and bad.


What does this tell me about myself? Each one of these conclusions are tiny, young, plants just bursting through the soil, feeling sunlight for the first time, and attached to long, deep, multi-branching roots.


This is only the start. Who knows what I will end up doing with this, maybe some insight into my life as lived, maybe a philosophical diatribe, maybe a pie-throwing contest.


Even the greats aren’t sure.


Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.




The examined life is no picnic.

Robert Fulghum