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  • Shakespeare, an Honest Perspective by Neo Mingus with Tilda Setter


    I have no regard whatsoever for William Shakespeare (if that's indeed his name) or for his work.

    In fact, if you are considering reading anything by him (if he was indeed a 'he'), I'd like to re-assert the sage advice of high school students everywhere: Don't bother! Read the cliff notes; they're shorter and easier to understand. Or better yet, choose something different altogether, preferably something with more wit and less 'art'.

    Oh, I know what you are thinking: "But Neo, isn't the Avon-selling Ol' Bard a master of the English language?" My arse, he is! Stringing together a bunch of words does not a sentance make!

    Let's take a random line from one of 'his' plays. In it, the protagaonist (whose name sounds oddly like a children's eggdish at a Denny's) utters this bit of utter nonsense:

    To be or not to be, that is the question.


    A math question or an existential dilemma - either way a trite cliché. And it certainly doesn't demonstrate a great command of the Queen's tongue to say such silly saws!

    And speaking of saws, why are professors always so pleasedly mad over the 'hack by any other name'? Don't ask... Lend them an ear and you'll end up like VanGogh.

    It was not his itchy underwear that caused George Bernard Shaw to exclaim, for example:

    I have striven hard to open English eyes to the emptiness of Shakespeare’s philosophy, to the superficiality and second-handedness of his morality, to his weakness and incoherence as a thinker, to his snobbery, his vulgar prejudices, his ignorance, his disqualifications of all sorts for the philosophic eminence claimed for him.”


    Nor was Tolstoy being up-tight when he threw his copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare at his friend, shouting:

    Several times I read the dramas and the comedies and historical plays, and I invariably underwent the same feelings: repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment. Being desirous once more to test myself, I have, as an old man of seventy-five, again read the whole of Shakespeare, and I have felt, with even greater force, the same feelings,—this time, however, not of bewilderment, but of firm, indubitable conviction that the unquestionable glory of a great genius which Shakespeare enjoys, and which compels writers of our time to imitate him and readers and spectators to discover in him non-existent merits,—thereby distorting their aesthetic and ethical understanding,—is a great evil, as is every untruth.


    And finally, the good-natured Voltaire said of Shakespeare that even the even-minded and certainly-not-snobby or crass French lower-class would find Shakespeare's plays vulgar as if the results of a 'drunken savage'.

    Incomprehensible is the singsong of his verse; entirely empty and unrhymed, it is tin-eared, a band of brash brass playing a car-horn symphony. It is the folly of a fool who takes himself to be a king and playing to fools who are thus doublely fooled.

    In the end, his words are merely more and more hot air, they are clouds that when lifted show not illumination, not the spirit relumed, but wind-strewn dust bunnies and fetid gloom.

    They only smart thing Shakespeare (maybe - and that's an enormous gigantic maybe) wrote was: When I was a child, I thought as a child and I saw as a child somebody said. Besides it not being a good idea to give children sharp tools, there is something to this: High school students know what we all know - if you want to ask Romeo where he is, you can just text him: R whr r u? But not if you're Shakespeare. But all those thee's and thou's and thine's and thusly's and wherefore's just make for boring writing and even more boringer plays.


    Afterword

    If I have saved one person from reading Shakespeare (the so-called writer of the Complete Works of Shakespeare), I feel like I have done a service. I want to thank Tilda for help with this piece - she gave me lot's of feedback, encouragement, and many of the words and sentences for this essay.

    This is my second essay on Shakespeare. You can read my first one here,which you might find easier to understand or as an introduction to the subject: http://cowbird.com/author/neomingus/stories/#!/27882

    These are just my opinions and even though they are mostly 100% right, it is okay to disagree. Just remember: BE REAL.

    Peace
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