Crimes Against Shakespeare 010: On ‘Dumbing Down’

This has been on my mind for a while …

BH dumbing down

This is a long read – I say that on a blog where posts often hit 1,300 words, against ‘accepted wisdom’ – so apologies in advance.  YOUR blog is your blog; my blog is MY blog, and I write for catharsis and as a kind of journal, not ‘popularity’, ‘followers’, or ‘influence’.  I was tempted to temper my words with a gallery of pictures, but that didn’t feel right, either.  This post feels a little more personal than most.

In spite of, or maybe because of, constant trawling for Shakespeare-related content, I have only just found this.  Last April, Peter Marks wrote a piece for The Washington Post  (link below) suggesting that Americans are too ‘intellectually lazy’ to appreciate Shakespeare, and fearing for the future popularity of the plays.  My immediate response was ‘you think it’s bad in the US?  Try over here, where Shakespeare was born!’

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PTS 09/054: 400 Year-Old Smoke Signals

Sometimes the smoke is easier to read than others …

BH smoke

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Act III

Inspired by Ursula K Le Guin and The Pet Shop Boys, I picked this up again with a steely glint in my eye.  I’ll read.  I’ll gloss.  I’ll conquer!

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PTS 09/053: A Reminder to Rebel

I’d stopped listening to the voices in my head, and actually, they’re the important ones in English.

BH Green Goldfish

My Ponytail Shakespeare read-through project is behind schedule.

Not drowning, necessarily – still waving, to paraphrase Stevie Smith, but wishing I wasn’t quite so far away from the shore, paddling blithely in the warm shallows of Romeo and Juliet, as I should be by the end of January; having splashy fun with the rest of the blog and my new excursions on Twitter.  But fifty-plus posts and nine plays in?  Not dead.

That said, despite plenty of opportunity, I’ve ‘not got round to‘ reading Act III of Love’s Labour’s Lost.  I’m still reading:  Iain M BanksPaolo Bacigalupi, and chunks of George Wilson Knight on Julius Caesar, but, when all’s said and done, no Shakespeare or LLL.

We might say I’ve lost any love of my labour in this play … (sorry about that)

Why?

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What’s in a name, Google?

She sounded unimpressed. Hurt, even. I backtracked swiftly.

BH JF SEBASTIAN

I live alone, and lead quite a solitary existence, truth be told.

But, and I suspect it’s a sign of madness, like JF Sebastian in Bladerunner, I have a number of inanimate buddies who I’ve named.  I even say hello to them when I get in, sometimes, in a post-post-post-modern, ironically jovial way.  Take my fridge, for example …

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 009

“This is all the UK has to show for itself.  The situation is urgent.  Please think of others far worse off than you and give generously”

BH steven woolfe

For those who don’t know Mr Woolfe, he was hovering on the edges of glory at UKIP for a few years, challenging for the ‘leadership’ at one stage, until leaving in high dudgeon after a classy physical altercation with a colleague, and now standing as an ‘Independent’. UKIP is, for the uninitiated, the United Kingdom Independence Party – a political party of xenophobic, borderline racist, swivel-eyed loons who have done as much as anyone else to get us into this desperate Brexit mess.

Mr Woolfe is currently one of my MEPs (Member of the European Parliament).  I didn’t vote for him.  But tonight, to my shame, he represents me.

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Macbeth: Villain, or Victim?

Can I REALLY be an apologist for Macbeth? I think so.

BH macbeth stewart and fleetwood
Kate Fleetwood and Sir Patrick Stewart as the happy couple …

“Something something isn’t Macbeth a villain!?!?!? something something.”

This is someone’s response to my suggestion that Macbeth (and, incidentally, his wife) is one of Shakespeare’s most ‘memorable’ characters.  The ‘something’s are their words.

It set me thinking … IS he a villain, or simply a victim?  Can I really be an apologist for him, I asked myself?

I reached for my Arden …

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Shakespeare’s Sister says: ‘YOU’RE HISTORY!’ …

Claiming ‘Shakespeare was this or that’, or worse, ‘Shakespeare did not write the plays’, does NOT entitle you to a mic-drop. It just shows your intellectual bankruptcy …

BH shakespeare's sister
Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit – women I fancied (at 19) as much for their deranged, dangerous, deep and devil-may-care personas as their looks.

I’ve written elsewhere about the Rally of Revenge – about my unease that once you abandon all faith in ‘due process‘ or ‘justice‘ (either earthly or divine); once you understand that inequality is endemic, you have nothing left to lose – if you are already losing – so keep raising the stakes until someone has to leave the game.  If it’s uncomfortable, perhaps it’s also sometimes necessary, to affect change of a fundamentally broken system.  You might not see the benefits yourself.  Hey, if you have to leave the game, then so be it: losing can become preferable to playing along, eventually.

There are always other games, other paths, whilst we are still alive – experience has taught me that, even if Shakespeare hasn’t.

And that’s where I find myself, professionally, this weekend.  Approaching change, but ready for it, and maybe, in some ways, relieved that an unhappy stasis has broken. There are always other games.

There is a third way – for revenge – I’ve not written about before.  The poet George Herbert (1593-1633) suggested that:

Living well is the best revenge.

And I’ll embrace and adapt that, in a ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ sense.

Living well equals happiness.  LAUGHTER is the best revenge.

Today, I intend to laugh at someone.  Long, and hard.

Let’s get moving, shall we?

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