Home > Random Musings > I Am Not Icarus: Musings on Geekdom, Shakespeare, and Halloween

I Am Not Icarus: Musings on Geekdom, Shakespeare, and Halloween

I have always been somewhat stubborn. The quickest way to get me to do something is to tell me that I can’t do it. The minute someone implies I’m inferior or unable, I want to prove whoever it is wrong. Not just a little wrong. Very wrong. (Within reason, of course. I’m not going to attempt to fly. I am not Icarus.)

When I was around ten years old, my older brother bet me that I couldn’t read and understand Shakespeare, specifically Romeo and Juliet. I was a voracious reader and a precocious person. Of course, wanting to prove the jerk my sibling wrong, I accepted The Challenge. (Not, for those wondering, in a Barney Stinston, “Challenge accepted” way. At the time, I was more likely to quote Saturday morning cartoons or The Cookie Monster.) I’m sure if my life had a soundtrack, “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” might blared out from invisible speakers. (This was BEFORE the miracle of iPods. I had a WALKMAN.) To make a long story short, I read and comprehended the play, possibly out of sheer stubbornness, will, and a vocabulary too large for almost any lawyer. (Thanks, Mom!)

Thus began my love affair with Shakespeare, the written word, and my Geekdom. (No, not the kind that eats glass and live chickens, thank you very much. That’s gross.) That might’ve been the moment when I became rather obsessed with language. (Technically, Shakespeare’s written in a different form of English. That explains why so many people have difficulty understanding it. I did not find that out until graduate school. High school teachers really should tell their students that. It might ease Shakespeare-anxiety.)

Shakespeare was a master of many things – insults, for one. (You beef! You acorn!) Some of the best ones are given by the drunkards, like Falstaff and any so-called buffoon character. I regularly try to squeeze in a “zounds!” and a “varlet!” into conversation. I am ever-so-grateful when people don’t look at me like I’ve suddenly sprouted the ears of an ass.

 The Bard had a talent, though, for the spooky. Take a look at Macbeth. The three witches are pretty scary. “When shall we three meet again…” is possibly the spookiest, most awesome opening to a play ever. Hamlet has a ghost (and lots of madness). And my favorite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has a somewhat enchanted forest, mischief, and one really crazy fairy named Puck. (“If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended,” is one of my favorite speeches ever.)

Of course, if you want to gross anyone out, hand them Titus Andronicus, and let them read it. Afterward, you will appreciate your own tongue – and probably stay away from all forms of meat pie (also a consequences of Sweeny Todd, but I digress.).

In honor of Halloween, the day where the veil between this world and the next is thinnest, I suggest you dig out your Shakespeare. I know I will.

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Categories: Random Musings
  1. Andrea
    November 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Ugh, I wish so badly that I liked Shakespeare! He is the coffee of my literary experience. The only thing I’ve ever read and enjoyed of his was Much Ado About Nothing. Someday (yes, the mythical Someday), I may have to give Shakespeare another go. Maybe I just didn’t appreciate his beauty back in the day.

    • Ali
      November 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      But you are coming around to coffee! So, there’s hope for you yet. (Mmm, Pumpkin Spice.) I think it helps to read it and then watch the play or movie. It is difficult to read a play, because it’s meant to be performed. Unless it’s A Street Car Named Desirewhere the stage directions are super-specific, it can be hell to try and follow.

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