Thursday, March 15, 2007
Beware. . . .
SOOTHSAYER: Caesar!CAESAR: Ha! Who calls?
CASCA: Bid every noise be still.--Peace yet again!
CAESAR: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry "Caesar"! Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
SOOTHSAYER: Beware the Ides of March.
CAESAR: What man is that?
BRUTUS: A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March.
CAESAR: Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS: Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR: What say'st thou to me now? Speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER: Beware the Ides of March.
CAESAR: He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.
Bad call, Caesar. Forsooth, the soothsayer spake sooth.
Also, you're running around with a bunch of backstabbers, but it never does any good to try to tell someone that. Nobody believes it until it happens to them.
I hated Shakespeare in high school; the teachers took all the delight out of it and turned it into a "lesson." It wasn't until college that I realized how incredibly cool it was, how awesomely wondrous was the vocabulary and the cadence and the personalities of the characters. My high school teachers didn't talk about how people in Shakespearean times washed their hair only once a year, and that their clothing was in so many sections because, since they so seldom bathed and Ice-Blue Secret hadn't been invented yet, the armpits faded then rotted away, as did the crotches of those skin-tight silk or linen pants the men wore, that kids nowadays believe are stretchy nylon but which are actually really that tight. Check out the Elizabethan clothing in the museum next time you're there; if it survived at all, it's got rotten armpits or crotches. We weren't allowed to discuss the breast-flatteners or the corsets that suffocated babies in the womb. High school teachers did not tell us about dowries and forced marriages and a life-span of about forty. They didn't mention the lice and the rats in the mattresses and the mice tunneling underneath the carpets. They didn't talk about how Juliet would have gone to hell for bigamy if she'd obeyed her father and married Paris after Romeo was banished. Nobody talked about how poor Benvolio was left alone in his generation, after all the other young men his age were dead. Nobody ever wondered why Tybalt was living with his aunt and uncle instead of with his parents. My teachers never talked about why Friar Lawrence freaked out and ran away so nobody would know he was unclean. In college, they did, and it was wonderful. Complicated, colorful, and wonderful. I'd never suspected such fun and poetry and coolness lurked in Shakespeare's pages.
I have always believed that the study of any kind of history or literature is vastly improved and made very interesting indeed, if it also includes the study of the customs and trends and art and music of the times. Proper context makes everything more clear, whether it be a word or a lifestyle. After all, how can we best determine how a culture really is, unless we peek into the windows of the regular people? What are they wearing? What are they doing? How do they speak? How do they conduct weddings, or funerals, or baptisms, or dinner? Not just the educated, and especially not just the government or politicians: I mean, the people. Like us.
Learn about them, and you learn about the culture for real.
Dates? Important, yes, but only in context. Stats? Ditto. Who cares about a list of dates or stats if there are no accompanying lifestyles or genuine people to go along with them?
Well, standardized tests love them, of course, but who gives two hoots in hell about that?
Well, the government does, but is it really important, now, really, is it?
Well, if you want money for your school it is, but would a district really sacrifice genuine education for money?
Of course they would. They would, and they will, and they do. And they'll rationalize it, too.
Get involved in your child's school. PTO. School board. Aide. Volunteer. Be diligent, and vigilant. Fight, if you must.
And if your child is studying Shakespeare, and I really hope he/she is, be sure to ask about the palms of the hands and the rustling in the pillows. If it's being done well, your child will smile and tell you the answer.
Be sure your child knows what "wherefore" means, too. Hint: It has nothing whatsoever to do with "where."
I've met English teachers who really believed that "Wherefore art thou, Romeo" meant "Where are you, Romeo?" This disturbs me greatly. ENGLISH teachers!!!!! Shame, shame, shame.
And now I guess I'll go to bed. After all, it's nearly 5 a.m, and the Ides of March are upon us.
Watch your backs, everyone.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:22 AM | |