Cultural Capital 06: Bacon’s Essays

Not, repeat NOT, Shakespeare in disguise, thanks very much …

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[part of a monthly series aimed at my Sixth Formers, and the texts they are currently studying]

First things first – we need to be clear which Francis 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 … 

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Quote of the Week: 21 May 2018 (#42)

Let battle commence: Shakesparring was the highlight of last week …

 

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?

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PTS 11/068: ‘Team Richard’ T-shirt Time …

The power of beauty vs. the beauty of power …

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Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2014.  Image: ME

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.
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No greater love …

No allergy excuses this time, kids …

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image:  Manuel Harvan

[Andrew Scott is Hamlet:  director, Robert Icke]

Part Two:

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.

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Alas, Mr. Bump, I knew him, Horatio …

‘Does he think he’s effing Mr Tickle?’, I scribbled feverishly in the dark …

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My sixth-formers commented on the extended nipple arousal … because why WOULDN’T they – we were all 16/17 years-old once …

[Andrew Scott is Hamlet:  director, Robert Icke]

Part One: a six-period day (out of a maximum of six); full of allergies, and C5 full of pupils I sometimes I wonder if I am allergic to; then the first half of this, in my classroom, accompanied by some of my lovely sixth-formers.  By the way:  if you didn’t come along, that doesn’t mean you’re unlovely – it means I missed having you along for the ride.

We had fun.  And you can too, if you come on Monday to see the final half …

Nowadays, I look on Shakespeare performances as ‘cover versions‘ of classic songs. Before we discuss this one, I need to talk about two things:

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Quote of the Week: 09 April 2018 (#36)

We all have something we can’t part with when we go abroad, surely?

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Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

Her:  [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’

Me:  [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be.  That’s why you pay more for the Ardens.  And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’

Her:  ‘But we’re going away.  You can access the play online.’  [statement, not a question]

Me:  That’s not the same!

Her:  [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]

You probably know that look …

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Scaling Mount Tsundoku

To buy, or not to buy? A completely rhetorical question when it comes to books …

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“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”   Albert Camus (1)

Consider Sisyphus … (2)

A mythical king condemned to spend eternity atoning for his lifetime sins by pushing a boulder up a mountain in Tartarus, only to have it roll to the bottom overnight: as a result, he was obliged to start afresh each morning.

I like to think he is the patron saint of English teachers.  If you are struggling to work out why, the answer’s at the foot of the post.

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