Shakespeare Was A Knob-Jockey Who Ate Too Much Cheese

And I feel a certain amount of empathy for him, I really do.

We need to have a chat about these old littérateurs, the fucking gentry of fiction through the ages. And I don’t know if this is the time or the way to have the chat, but some things need to be said. For example, they’re all fucking boring. It’s important to note, however, that there’s a reason for this.

Number one if they’re the fogies who actually wrote stuff, the ‘greats’, we’re looking at them now out-of-context. When they were cutting edge, they were fine, but now they’ve been replaced. Some of them several times over. Greatness never extends beyond context, beyond the shit happening around it that makes it great, that makes it something other than just another event in a very long stream of events.

Shakespeare for example. We pretend he’s cool because you’re forced to learn about him in school, and then possibly act out his plays and study him for years after that. I say YOU are, I mean thousands of people are. And that’s enough to create a bit of a mystique, the idea that he means something beyond the ages. Nope. He doesn’t.

The work of these great names is kept up by their fans, not by their absolute quality. People who have either been forced to learn about and admire them, or people who study history, who found them and who thereby establish a new connection with an old author, knowing some of their context. Example: I looked up Catallus (a shitty Roman love poet) because a beautiful man in a waistcoat quoted me some lines. Now I have a book of Catallus poems, with Latin to English translations. I don’t think Catallus is a great poet, but I bother to engage with him and recognise some of what he WAS. I do this because I had a current connection with someone who studies classics – they have the connection because they love the Latin language (fuck knows why) and like old romantic poetry, presumably of all kinds. I can understand that much. And I have to admit that weird grammatical constructions like a chiasmus are pretty cool. Latin uses them. Chiasmuses. Chiasmi. Chia seeds. Anyway…

Back to Shakespeare, because some people out there will refuse to accept that he’s a dead idiot. I recently watched and enjoyed a new production of Twelfth Night. I’ve mentioned it on here somewhere, possibly in a poem. It was good. Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet is pretty decent. The Grigori Kozintsev Hamlet is fun times. But these aren’t Shakespeare. They’re modern adaptations of Shakespeare, all in their own ways trying to make old Shakespeare accessible. And I don’t want to say that’s a bad idea, but I will say “WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING THIS WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH NEW THEATRE THAT DOESN’T HAVE THE RESOURCES OR SUPPORT OR ATTENTION IT DESERVES?”

I’m not just writing this because I think people should pay more attention to my poetry than, say, Keats’ or Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s or Emily Dickinson’s. Shakespeare too, bastard did the sonnets. No I don’t think I necessarily deserve more attention, but, particularly in schools, other contemporary poets definitely DO deserve more attention. It should be on the English curriculum to regularly check out online poetry mags and browse new content. Or something. It should be 16+ syllabus to read Charles Bukowski. Life Skills and English in one…they could never pull that lesson plan off under normal circumstances. And if you start changing things in schools, the baseline for the rest of society changes. We pick up way too many bad habits in schools people. I’ve spent the last decade trying to unlearn or adapt the filthy stupid shit that got stuck in my head at school. And I went to nice schools – lucky bitch, right?

So on this site, on an ongoing basis, I want to try and devote the occasional bit of time to debunking myths about these literary ‘greats’. Yeah they WERE great. And they are great IN CONTEXT. But that doesn’t make anyone a generic, perpetual ‘great’. That’s fucking Jesus-complex, King-appointed-by-God NONSENSE.

Sorry for the ranting, I have a lot of pent-up anger at the moment. Also a hyperactive combo of beer, chocolate, coffee, sugar, sugar, sugar on the go. One of the sugars was rum.

P.S. At the start of this piece I wrote “littérateurs” because I thought it sounded good. Then I looked it up to double check I wasn’t making a fool of myself, and I realised I could talk about a whole other class of literary idiot: the critic. Now, I’ve tagged this piece “critique”, so that should tell you something. That should actually tell you enough for now. The critics are a strange breed, and despite my best efforts to lay into them by laughing at Aristotle and William Hazlitt (two corpses I really respect) I don’t think, right now, I can do what needs to be done to them. Not even in summary. So you’ll have to tune in some other time.

What’s a nice, high note to end on?

Watching Movies and Remembering Dad and

Writing now is like going from a breakup straight into a new fuck – just dismissing all the shredded ends of what has been and starting something new, just to set your biological love clock back to zero. I’ve just been watching Last of the Mohicans, which I used to watch maybe every six months on average with my Dad, who’s now two piles of ashes in the dirt…but also memories. It snuck up on me. Generally I have an excellent memory for stuff that happens in films…so I should’ve seen this one coming. [Spoilers ahead].

Shit I’ve been at this for about 20mins and the fucking radiator started leaking and I had to stop and go and fix it and now my heart is stone cold again. Feelings paused. I hate this. I miss feeling awful when sad things happen. Sadness from love loss, and like right-on, romanticised sadness is my jam. I’m almost addicted to it, or I would be, if I could get more. It’s so much nicer than imagining death. Lightweight, entertaining sadness – love it. Sorry, I’m sounding like a dick. I’ll stop. Anyway, this is me writing this paragraph in later. The “breakup fuck” worked and now I’m just back in writing mode, not feeling mode. Fucking hate my own stratagems sometimes. Is it better to wallow in the sadness for a while? I don’t know.

I have a complicated relationship with Dad’s memory. He died when I was what, 21? 22? I try not to remember dates and times too much. For most of my life, or what I can remember of it, he seemed solely responsible for me becoming remotely smart or interesting. And he gave me my name, which is a pretty special one. And no, it’s not Rosa (which is more special to me) and no I’m not telling you what it is. You can work it out pretty quick if you really want to. I loved him and was utterly dependent on him, but he had a big thing about empowering me and making me independent. He was such a good guy, trying to make the world better, that I didn’t notice how far patriarchy stretches and how fucked up the role of the father is for many years. I chalk that up as an achievement for him – it takes some serious love and care to hide the obvious truth. Or fear and misery I guess, they hide truth too, but that wasn’t his style at all. For a pagan, he was oddly Christian…though Christians have a lot to do with pain and misery. He did have a secret BDSM fetish…

Anyway, watching Last of the Mohicans plugged me straight back into him, into the good times, and the times when I was a kid desperate to hear his wisdom and bask in his glory. Sitting below the wood timbers in our old house, around a fire, maybe a grey sky and rain outside, warm inside. Dark in a pleasant way. It hurts to think about it. Those were GOOD times, and now the poor fuck is dead and gone. Watching the film, I mean he’s a bit like Chingachgook and regardless he got me watching the film in the first place. I remember the first time seeing scenes from it, too young to watch it properly. Some of our favourite soundtrack music was from it, some of our stupid sayings were from it. The classic “I will find you, no matter what occurs” and the weirder “Que font les Hurons?” which isn’t necessarily an accurate quote but we loved it. He loved randomly quoting films. A habit real life me has picked up from him.

The movie also pulls my heartstrings because it’s a harrowing tale of war. I’ve been struggling more with war movies as an adult. Big change from how I was as a child. They’re now the thing most likely to make me cry. I try not to cry – something stupid about showing weakness (again, raised by a serious male, you get habits). But when you’re on your own (because watching a film) and when you see the pointless waste of life writ large, and you get a connection with some of the lives being wasted, not all of them completely fictional…fuck. Anyone who doesn’t cry at that just isn’t empathising. Like children – they don’t normally empathise with people in wars.

Last of the Mohicans…near the end [2nd spoiler warning], Uncas dies because he runs directly at the main antagonist of the film, treating him like one of the other redshirts. You know, extras. Not redskins. It’s also redshirts because all the British soldiers in the movie die except for a few at the beginning, and the British wear red. Anyway. Uncas treats the main antagonist, Magua, like some nobody. I noticed it more on this watch actually. Always used to get pissed off at how he (Uncas) didn’t put up much of a fight after being an ace for the whole film. It’s because he’s blinded by anger, and because he doesn’t know that he’s about to go after the main antagonist. Magua only means something to Hawkeye – Daniel Day Lewis’ character. Probably, to Uncas, he’s just another expendable extra ready to be hacked in the head. Instead, Uncas gets redshirted himself by what looks like several stabs in the gut and torso.

I’m making light of it (sort of) because it’s the heartrending moment that gives the film it’s title. Uncas is one of the only two Mohicans left. Now, his Dad, who’s had to see his own son get cut up and fall off a cliff for some lovey-dovey bullshit, is the Last of the Mohicans. This is compounded when a seemingly disposable and seriously PTSD’d Alice – Uncas’ lover – commits suicide. The scene is fucking hopeless (as in drawing all hope out of you like a black hole) and the film ends with Chingachgook alone and Hawkeye with a fancy new bride. It’s stressful for me to see that. It’s not a happy ending, as such. It’s just an ending.

Apparently it’s based on a pretty good novel and some of you American kids might have read it in school. The novel’s plot is pretty different to the film though.

Why did I start writing this? Oh yeah. I wanted to say something about being a liar. I miss Dad, but not like you might expect. I’m sad that I don’t get to make any new memories with him, but I also believe he’d want me to stop whining and get on with life, and I’ve taken that to heart. You’d think that’s just some bullshit I’m saying here, but it isn’t. Everyone at the funeral was surprised too.

I get to miss him sometimes though, and the emotional grind of feeling that and watching the movie, and feeling that, pressed me into this uncomfortable box of anxiety where I thought that everything I’m writing on here is shit. And not only that, but too revealing. Revealing parts of me that aren’t, well, that aren’t the most…I was worried I was lying, basically. Failing. Being wrong. But then I remembered the name of this blog. The name of my presence. Designed to help me cope with anxiety: “Lying Rosa”. You can’t be pissed off at me for seeming inconsistent and dishonest. It’s in the fucking name of the place.

Seriously though I pride myself on consistency and I hope – over a long enough timeline – that comes across. Also, once you look back on anxiety, once you’re over it, it seems so egotistical, no? Whether I’m good or not isn’t very important in the grand scheme of things. I guess it is to me though. Ah, I’ve caught myself there: you have to care about yourself a bit just to function. Damn.

Okay, so past me wants to say “I’m a LIAR”. And “I’m a shit person, not even a writer, don’t read this awful waste of time stuff, thanks.” Past me was having a tough day. I hadn’t sat down to write at all, apart from mocking some Metaphysical poets. And that’s not enough to keep you feeling good. Shit man, writer’s gotta write. And do stuff worth writing about. Don’t forget.

Ugh, I don’t like that as an ending. Let’s end it here instead.