I am taking a break from expounding my LIFE PHILOSOPHY to talk about some other things, as a kind of intellectual palate-cleanser. Today’s subject on which I will now go on at length, pulled randomly from the heaps of garbage that I read every day, is this article by Colin McEnroe over at Salon.
For whatever reason, I find I’m always more exercised by running into junk like this at sites I read regularly, as opposed to sites like the New Yorker, where I only once in a while check-in. It seems to me that not only is the thing itself wrong, but that it’s also a kind of betrayal that they published it in the first place — not necessarily because I don’t agree with it (though, I’ll be honest here — as we all should strive for honesty in every one of our doings — that’s probably a big part of it), but because it seems like the kind of thing an editor should have looked at and said, “Nope, too dumb. Send it back.”
(Well, I know, it’s Salon, obviously that wasn’t going to happen, come on.)
Anyway, the piece is for the most part some fussy hand-wringing about Kids Today, and I think that all articles about Kids Today should be answered not necessarily due to their merits, but just for the sake of having the counter-argument exist, in the hopes that this generation will, at long last, be the generation that beats back the idea of Kids Today, if not forever, at least for now, a momentary peace in a world constantly under threat.
It’s mostly fussiness, but it takes at its heart Ira Glass’s apparent disinterest in Shakespeare: “I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks?” And then seeks to take him to task on the grounds that Shakespeare self-evidently does NOT suck, and Ira Glass is somehow representative of a generation of increasingly-stupid children who don’t seem to realize that.
Before I get into it, let me just be clear: I like Shakespeare, as a reader, as an actor, and as a speaker of English. I’m also GOOD at Shakespeare; ask anyone, I’ve got a knack for this kind of stuff. If I was willing to live a little more in poverty, I could probably work consistently just doing Shakespeare. Shakespeare often speaks to me in a way that I find deeply intuitive and affecting. I have, in other words, a vested interest in seeing Shakespeare maintain his position as the most important playwright in the English language, and in seeing all of us remain idolators to his genius.