Where There’s a Will…

June 11th, 2013

 web shakespeare

 I have a project for the summer. No, I’m not going to summit a killer mountain, go to a remote monastery in Bhutan, or do a solo sky dive. I’m doing something much harder, more daunting, more strenuous. I’m reading two pages of Shakespeare a day. Henry V to be exact. And it’s damn hard work for someone whose brain has the attention span of a monkey on cocaine. I wasn’t always like this. I used to read really long books and understand them. Like Ulysses! I also wrote long, cogent, creative papers in college that got great grades on them and snagged the amorous attentions of my professors. But that was before the internet. That was before I started trying to come up with witty twitterisms like the ones that made Kelly Oxford famous, that got her a book deal because of her 140-character “thoughts.” Yes, bitch, I read and anaylyzed Ulysses, and you got a book deal for quipicisms. A real book, with chapters and all. Blogging has reduced me to writing in short bursts of thoughts that I can only sustain for a paragraph at most. I can’t even seem to write a grocery list without giving up and just drawing pictures of bread, candy bars and wine bottles that serves as some kind of pitiful semiotic to-do list for dopes. And you know how you go around all day holding internal conversations with yourself? Well, my little brain can’t even sit still for a dialogue with itself in complete sentences. Now, I’m actually ironically  hashtagging myself:

“I shouldn’t get rid of these perfectly good shoes,” I muse. #solesurvivorguilt, I murmur.

If Shakespeare can’t restore my self-respect, I might have to get a job writing TV crawl captions or those words of quasi-Zen wisdom found on the insides of green tea bottle caps. I want to relearn powerful metaphors, loops of logic, liquid poetry. I want to get lost in the written word instead of losing my train of thought after a paragraph. I want to feel language bloom in my head again and make its way out my fingertips. (#RxShakespeare)




9 Responses to “Where There’s a Will…”

  1. MaryMcDaniel says:

    Wow! A really old English teacher applauds your efforts! But I won’t be reading the history plays this summer. That’s winter stuff.

  2. MaryMcDaniel says:

    Brandy’s required for that!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I can’t express enough how this post spoke to me. As an English Lit major I used to read many great books like you. Is part and parcel for the course. Then the Internet happened. And my brain decided the onset of ADD was a small price to pay for the delicious feeling of instant gratification. I became dumb. I forgot how to read. I used to be a book snob and only read classics and was now reading garbage because it was easy and didn’t require me to think or digest. Then it got to a point that I couldn’t even do that. So I switched my reading to micro stories on blogs. And then I gave up reading altogether and just scanned articles like I was an Evelyn Wood graduate. Then something happened. I woke up one morning asking myself what the hell had happened to me. I was smart dammit. I went to college and studied one of the most difficult disciplines – so when did I decide that that was just a passing fancy and my true calling was playing games mindlessly? I was disgusted with my behavior and decided there and then that I’d act like the mature, intelligent adult I was. I went back to reading. I went back to reading the classics no less. It felt good. I didn’t feel like i was wasting my life. I felt I had a functioning brain. I was HAPPY! But.it.took.work. Like you, I had the attention span of a gnat. And today, I’m still working on it. I am no longer able to read like I did in college but I am reading at a better pace than I did when I started. I applaud you. Good for you. And so happy you chose a classic to your return to life. Because what good is reading if we don’t attempt to read the very best? And as far as Henry V, it stands as one of my favorite plays from S. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! 😉

  4. nikki says:

    I kept running across so many great quotes from the play and realized I hadn’t ever read it all the way through. It’s tough getting back in the groove but I’m determined! Nikki

  5. Rosie says:

    This is such a wonderful idea (and such an inspiration). What made you pick Henry V?

  6. V-Grrrl says:

    About three years ago, I made a resolution to begin reading novels again. I hadn’t given up reading books altogether, but I didn’t read many and nearly everything I read was non-fiction. It took a while but I got back into fiction. I’m a slow reader; I take my time. My daughter and I often read the same books. We both love all of Laura Moriarty’s books and another favorite from this year was Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I still read non-fiction. I read memoirs by Condolezza Rice and Neil Young this year.

    I have a degree in English but never enjoyed reading Shakespeare. I like to the see the plays performed, and I loved when Kenneth Branagh made all those Shakespeare films with his then-wife, Emma Thompson.

  7. nikki says:

    I kept coming across wonderful quotes from it that intrigued me and realized I’d never read it all the way through.

  8. Leigh Sabine says:

    Since reading this, I can’t stop thinking about my list of “must reads”. Oh dear God, could I really follow suit and start this one? I love your idea of 2 pages a day! Loved your thoughts on this…

  9. nikki says:

    THanks, Leigh!

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