It wasn’t till I got to University that I came across Malcolm’s ‘king becoming graces’ in Macbeth. I thought them startling – an almost impudent challenge to James I about what the country expected from their new monarch, in a play which, I’m increasingly convinced, is all about what it means to be a ‘man’:
Not, repeat NOT, Shakespeare in disguise, thanks very much …
First things first – we need to be clear whichFrancis Bacon we are talking about!
Perhaps reluctantly, we need to steer clear of the 20th Century Irish Existentialist artist whose ‘screaming popes’*, amongst other works, are so disturbingly brilliant.That Francis is part of our ‘cultural capital’ too, but less useful for your studies.
Instead, let’s turn to the man perhaps best known as the ‘father of the scientific method’.In other, crazier, circles, it’s also muttered that he was, in fact, the ‘real’ William Shakespeare.Try to avoid those people – they also tend to wear tin foil hats, believe that the world is flat, and that climate change is a myth …
It’s been a long, hard, day. No, really! In amongst the pre-school meeting; the marking; the trying to keep your errant Year 11s just on this side of hysteria, given they have their second English Lit exam on Friday; the data (two classes’ worth, by lunchtime, thanks very much); the lunchtime storytelling club for younger pupils; the broken photocopiers; and the almost insignificant matter of actually teaching, you need an oasis of calm.
Let battle commence: Shakesparring was the highlight of last week …
In the ‘Marxist’ corner – Mr G
In the ‘Feminist’ corner – Miss C
Friday found myself and a colleague sacrificing a precious free period (one of only four per week) for the opportunity to Shake-spar … and what fun it was.
Let me set the scene – one of our colleagues in the department was unwell. She also teaches A Level Lit to Year 12, and would have done so in period 2, when I’m free. Two of the students in that class are in my form, so I casually said to them in the morning that if there were ‘any problems‘ relating to that lesson, they ought to come and see me.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find about a dozen girls at my door at about 09:55?
An emerging theme in my reading – and teaching – is the notion of being careful what you wish for.For too many, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ is ephemeral, evaporating once a goal is achieved.To others, it is an insatiable addiction. What links both is the outcome: unhappiness and deep satisfaction – the former cannot easily retain their newly won goal; the latter need another, greater fix of achievement. Continue reading “PTS 11/068: ‘Team Richard’ T-shirt Time …”
Forgive the delay in arriving at Part II: here’s an explanatory (and favourite) quotation from Stephen King by way of apology:
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
And don’t forget the health warning: you don’t read Shakespeare, he reads YOU.
Having fun exploring the role of literature in preserving an unfair system …
Last week finished with me in full theatrical mode, pacing the classroom like a restless, caged predator, declaiming at full volume (and probably decreasingly coherently), on the likely politics of Marlowe and Tennyson. That’ll teach my Y13s to ask for some ideas on Marxist Literary Criticism (AO5, folks), during Period 6 on a Friday …
(in which Richard shows what a crap poker player he would have made)
An important lesson for students: it is OK to disagree with a critical view – in fact OK to disagree with ME and my ideas. As long as you can argue your opposition to a stance or point of view. I’m about to take issue with Germaine Greer …
Mistrust might be too strong a word, but there was always a youthful rebellious streak in me (Catholic-educated in what was at the time a pretty Catholic town), pushing against what I increasingly viewed as the bastard child of The Party in Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four and a medieval Ponzi scheme. The Catholic hierarchy increasingly personified notions of hypocritical middle-men, ‘eternal life’ assurance brokers, gatekeepers against the hereafter who would feed on the poor, vulnerable and frightened, whilst actually allowing anyone through, if the price was right.
Finally, I officially ‘fell out’ with God in a completely predictable spat – over bureacracy, not the Bible; red tape, not redemption; compliance, not communion …
What was the first word I thought of when I heard the word, ‘Shakespeare’?
Apologies. I’m neglecting my PonyTail Shakespeare read-through, but suddenly writing more frequently, and hopefully more pithily (but I somehow doubt that), at the moment. Let’s see how long it lasts …
I’ve already recommended Duane’s blog – the longest-running Shakespeare blog I know of – to you. Tonight – and I had something work-related to do – I stopped by whilst having dinner, and promptly got distracted. Which is what the best blogs do, right?
The internet being a brilliant example of intertextuality, Duane’s most recent post is itself a response to something he read on Reddit. And here I am, responding in turn.
The premise is ‘What do you think of when you hear the word Shakespeare?‘