So this is it. The last refuge of the damned: blogging. In 2001, I entered a PhD program ready to take the world by storm with all-new ideas about Shakespeare. Twelve years and one never-to-be-completed dissertation later, I left my program and became the broken heap of a scholar I am today. And Shakespeare is laughing his ass off. I know this because I have a representative of the Bard’s wrathful spirit sitting on my bookshelf: Mighty Tiny Bill. He is a plastic homunculus, a distillation of all of Shakespeare’s spite and secrecy and intellectual superiority without any of the brilliance or human complexity you find in his work. I haven’t decided whether to take Mighty Tiny out of his original packaging yet. My collector’s instincts say no. Plus all the cardboard and transparent, theft-proof wrapping muffles his squeaky taunts and giggles. I’ve told him he can suffocate in there for all I care, but his common sense seems not to have shrunk down with him, either. He doesn’t seem to realize I’m his jailer. All he can do is laugh derisively.
Might Tiny has inspired me to write some commentary on Shakespeare, as well as writing and reading in general. Also, there’s a lot of crap out there on the Internets, a lot of misinformation and blissful ignorance, and if there’s one thing you develop in an English PhD program it’s an even greater intolerance for people using literature to fling bullshit. Before you enter academia you might have an inkling about this phenomenon. By the end of your schooling, you’re hopping up and down like a caffeine-addled Cassandra, screaming “WHEREFORE MEANS WHY, NOT WHERE, YOU MORONS! GET A DICTIONARY!!!!” at your computer screen, which answers you with a string of diet ads and typo-laden human interest articles written and published by Children With Money. This is where our educational system has finally brought us. I’m done with all that, thank God.
If anyone’s wondering, my authority for all my interpretations of Shakespeare is me. Mighty Tiny might sneer, but I figure twelve years of reading Shakespeare, to the point where I can power through one of the plays in a day, to the point where, when I was researching my dissertation, I could say to myself, “What a relief! I only have to read Henry VI Part Two today,” means I’m familiar enough with Elizabethan English that I can figure out the goddamn context of a quotation better than 99% of the Internet denizens who want to know what my sources are. My sources are twelve years of a PhD program. You’re welcome.
You’re also welcome to argue with me if you feel like it. I warn you, though, that Mighty Tiny likes to listen in on these conversations, and he’s not the most tactful of action figures.
Next time: Get ready for Big Bill’s Birthday!