This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “literature”

How To Be A Real Great Poet

A PROPER poet

A PROPER poet

In nerd news: fragments of smoking pipes with traces of cannabis have been found in a location that was once William Shakespeare’s garden. Although it is not at all clear that any of these pipes belonged to the Bard (or indeed if they even date to his lifetime) scholars are excited: after all, here is a chance, however slim, of demonstrating that the boring stuffed shirt that was Bill Shakespeare really did write all that nice poetry. Maybe he was high as a kite. Read more…

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Here Is Your Feel-Bad Quote For This Friday

Hieronymus Bosch, "The Conjurer" (circa 1450-1516)Since the release of the CIA torture report, which revealed (let’s be honest — to no one’s particular surprise) that the US has tortured people as part of the War on Terror, and that torture has proven absolutely ineffective, there has been a lot of (again, not surprising) hand-wringing on the Right. Simultaneously denying that torture is torture and claiming that torture is okay because Ticking-Bomb Hypothetical are par for the course, naturally. What especially amuses me, however, is all the whining to the effect that even if torture is torture, and even if it’s ineffective, and even if the US has tortured people, it’s definitely not okay to talk about it, because talking about how we’ve tortured people is far, far worse than torturing people. Openly confessing that we are not the paragon of virtue and the bastion of freedom we often claim to be means our enemies win! — lament the Righties, like this one. Appearances über alles, people. Read more…

10 Feel-Bad Quotes For Your Friday

William Michael Harnett, "Memento Mori To His Favor" (1879The Internet is full of quote lists. All of them, absolutely all, are feel-good quotes. Turn to Google whenever you need an infusion of self-esteem or self-pity, and you will get thousands of cavity-inducing blurbs about the importance of loving yourself and giving yourself more credit for being you. If you’ve read my blog, you know how I feel about that crap. Not only do I despise feel-goodism, I mostly hate quotes too. Many are apocryphal, and many more are torn out of context and applied to situations that the author did not even remotely have in mind when he wrote the words. However, I do have some favorite passages from great literature. And so, today, I am offering a heady espresso to go with the sugary confection that are inspirational quotes. The passages below are unlikely to inspire self-admiration or enthusiasm, but they are guaranteed to inspire thought. I offer them with brief commentaries. Enjoy. Read more…

The Other Birther Movement

Oh, shut up, birthers. There was only one man who wrote the works of William Shakespeare. His name was William Shakespeare.

One of the most puzzling and maddening non-controversies in literature is the spurious question of the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Since Shakespeare’s life is pretty well-documented for a 16th-century commoner, and since there is not a shred of evidence (not a single inscription, not one letter) suggesting that anyone else wrote any of the works attributed to him, the anti-Stratfordian movement (as the birthers are formally called) revolves entirely around Shakespeare’s background and personality, his supposed personal lack of fitness to wear the laurels as the immense colossus of English-language poetry and theater, the inventor of modern English in all its glory and one of the greatest artists in all of history. Read more…

Friday Ramblings: The Elitist Edition

The cultural phenomenon of grossly overrating the mediocre never ceases to fascinate me. Some of these are easy targets: Spectator sports. Weddings. Traditional family values. But there are some rather meh people, stories and cultural widgets that have truly achieved the status of sacred cows, and I would like to devote this Friday to tearing some of them down. And so, a random selection from my list of horribly overrated, but actually mediocre, people, events, places and phenomena: Read more…

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