12 March 2009

Back off you Shakespearists!

Yesterday’s post on Shakespeare attracted several comments chastising me. Gee, I had no idea Bill The Bard had so many fanatics still idolizing him. I’ve decided to respond to the commenters in a separate post. Here they are.


"Where do you think everyone's getting their ideas from if not from Shakespeare?"

Maybe that’s part of the problem. Shouldn’t we looking for new sources of inspiration after all these years? The guy died almost 400 years ago, you know.

"Me thinks the language difficulties are putting you off, and that's a shame."

Not true. I love to read the oldest papers in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions (open-access archives until the end of March, BTW). And thoſe are less than 100 years after the inſipid bard became foſſiliz’d.

"So rather than go to the source and find out for yourself, you're willing to believe what others tell you? Why?"

Nobody is telling me anything about Shakespeare but you people! These are my genuine ideas.


"You would probably enjoy Shakespeare's plays and/or sonnets, assuming that you could learn to understand the archaic 16th century English in which they are written."

See my response to Deniz’s 2nd comment.

"I think it's a shame when scientists pour scorn on the Arts."

I don’t scorn the Arts and Shakespeare’s works are not the only works of art there are to enjoy. Come on now. I have written favorably about Dadaism and American Indian art. I love Graffiti art! Who gets to decide what counts as art, anyway? Don’t get me started on that now!


"You realize just how derivative a lot of post-Beatles pop, post-Velvets 'alternative music' and post-Tolkien high fantasy is."

See my response to Deniz’s 1st comment.

"Plus there are a lot of great words coined by Shakespeare that are still used today. The words that aren't used much today are often even more interesting!"

There are also great words that we have forgotten in the Philosophical Transactions.

To read or not to read, that is not the question when it comes to Shakespeare.


gillesarbour said...

The Bard, or not the Bard?

Is that today's question?

You cannot fight a 444 years old man who is still in the news today: http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/599409


Deniz Bevan said...

"Nobody is telling me anything about Shakespeare but you people! These are my genuine ideas."

Ah, but was referring to this line in your original post "his arguably overrated stuff" - i.e. argued by who?


Argued by me!

Arguably: As may be argued or shown by argument.

Deniz Bevan said...

But how can you argue without reference to the source? that's like saying you don't like a country you haven't even visited...

Simla said...

you haven't rebuffed the most important argument, which is that you cannot make an informed and final decision without actually having read Shakespeare! you proclaim to be a scientist, well don't scientists test things and run experiments to understand and arrive at truths?!!? so how can you decide you don't like Shakespeare without actually having read his works?

Kirk said...

I think I'll step back into the fray. For me the decision not to read Shakespeare, comes from lack of interest in his works,lack of time and I enjoy going counter to what others want of me. Shakespeare is not in my area of interest,when I read for pleasure I read what I like. Having been pounded with all things Shakespeare, I have do interest.


I agree with you, Kirk.

I have also not read anything Hitler wrote. And I also have a feeling I would find his ideas uninteresting or unagreeable. Nevertheless, I am also sure there are plenty of supporters of him out there who would urge me to "go to the source and find out for yourself". How do I decide between Hamlet & Mein Kampf?

If I knew I had 1000 years to live, I'd probably read both Shakespeare & Hitler & many others. But the time I can set aside for reading is limited, so I have to be selective. Therefore, no Shakespeare, no Hitler.

Deniz Bevan said...

That's okay, I can agree with that. still, never say never :-) I only picked him up again in the past few years, for instance, because I found he'd written two plays that took place at the same time as my own novel...

Frank Anderson said...

So don't read it. Go see a play, which is a lot more fun (I recommend the Shakespeare Santa Cruz festival -- watch the works of the Bard at night, under the redwoods!). Or do neither. It is, of course, up to you. But for me, it's interesting to realize how much of what I thought was new and innovative is really just rehashed Shakespeare (or Tolkien, or Beatles, or Velvets...).

Shouldn’t we looking for new sources of inspiration after all these years? The guy died almost 400 years ago, you know.

Yes, but how do you even know if something's new if you are unfamiliar with the old? You certainly understand that, given your interest in the old scientific literature...? How many species have been described multiple times just because people were unfamiliar with (or, to be more charitable, unable to obtain) the work of earlier researchers?

Anonymous said...

Personally I was disappointed to hear actual boasting based on prejudice and ignorance coming from an intelligent and reasoned person like you Aydin.

You are a good guy, but hearing that kind of comment from a scientist and an atheist (as I am too), hearing that kind of illogical absolute certainty, well, it reminded me too much of the unintelligent nonsense that is usually spouted by the religulous types you abhor.

Reason above all!

Best wishes to you,

Susan J. Hewitt