Quote of the Week: 19 February 2018 (#29)

“Is black so base a hue?” Aaron, Titus Andronicus, Act IV scene ii …

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– back cover of Scott’s book –

AF Scott, Witch, Spirit, Devil, (White Lion Publishing:  London, 1974)

Whilst Black History Month isn’t celebrated in the UK until October, this is a bit of an international blog: about half of you are visitors from the US, and another quarter or so from elsewhere outside the UK – thank you, by the way!

So now, whilst I’m reading Scott’s book, feels like the time to look at this …

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Macbeth: Villain, or Victim?

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

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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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The ‘Punatomic’ Particle

By 5:15 we were all questioning whether we actually existed …

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Like Dante, as the Inferno unfolds, I found myself at a crossroads on St Andrew’s Day, and the way forward was unclear.  I had a little time to kill: I could walk round the block, or dive into a pub.  Within minutes, I was soaking up the warmth in The Bluebell, a decent pub I’ve not been to in several years.

The place was almost deserted.  For the rest of the world, it was that limbo between going home for tea (those who had already been drinking), and going to the pub for a couple after work.  For various reasons, I fell between both those stools.  So it was me, a pint of Titanic‘s Plum Porter, Aidan behind the bar, and Jamie – who had a bus to catch. 

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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 …

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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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Cultural Capital 01: Dante’s Inferno

Flatterers … are destined to mud-wrestle each other in a lake of diarrhoea … representing the crap they spoke whilst alive, I suppose!

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The ultimate HAMLET tee-shirt?

Subtitled:  Big Mouth Strikes Again (The Smiths – my students will know why, today of all days)

This article was written for a forthcoming in-house newsletter/magazine.  First, hopefully, in a series of articles (Cultural Capital) about influential, dare I say essential works that our students need to get under their belts.  I set myself a STRICT word-count of 750, including quotations but excluding titles and references, tried to avoid being too professorial, and I’ve prioritised other texts related to what I’ll be teaching as part of the OCR A Level Engish Literature course.  If I’m spared 😉

Inferno is a valuable source of AO1 and AO3, people.  This won’t replace you reading the original, but it might at least persuade you to give it a go.

Next up?  James I‘s DaemonologieMachiavelli‘s The Prince or The Book of Genesis:  open to suggestions …

[…] Midway on our path in life,

I came around and found myself searching

Through a wood, the right way blurred and lost.

I know the feeling.  More importantly, so begins Dante’s Inferno, the sexiest-titled poem no-one’s read.  Perhaps only at a certain age do you start asking Really Big Questions:  ‘What am I doing with my life?  What’s the point?  What’s left?’  Tennyson’s like a dog with a bone on this.  Ponytail Shakespeare readers – you’re fed up of hearing this sort of thing from me.

The most important question, though, is surely ‘what’s next?

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PTS 06/035: The Rally of Revenge

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Titus decides to deploy his ultimate weapon …

Titus Andronicus, Act III

Bear with me on this: I’m an English teacher, and I talk – no think – in similes and metaphors.  “It’s what I do!”, as David Mitchell might say in BBC‘s Upstart Crow.

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O strange men! That can such sweet use make of what they hate …

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(Helena:  All’s Well That Ends Well, Act IV)

What the hell is going on?

This started as commentary on the furore surrounding the staging of Julius Caesar featuring a Trump-alike, but based in England, I can’t help reflecting the fact that things have been overtaken here by the insane events near Finsbury Park Mosque in London

At what stage does it become acceptable for people to use the kind of methods they vilify – demonise, actually – in others to advance their own agendas? No, really – when is this OK?

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