Somethin' Wicked This Way Comes

* New Post on Ether Capacious: Shades of Gray

I ain't never read Ray Bradbury's novel, Something Wicked This way Comes. Reckon I oughta remedy that.  Think thar' wuz a movie too?

However, I has read The Bard's Macbeth from whence cometh the eerie warnin' Bradbury used fer the title of his novel. 

Imagine mah surprise, recently, to find two younger folks (40s), a neighbor an' a book club member, who ain't never knowed whar' that sayin' come from--an' they's edoocated folks. Surprising. Or is it? 

Is Shakespeare still taught? Is Liberal Arts DOA these days?  What do it mean to be edoocated these days?  Be it all about technology? Can we understand the human experience solely from  techno-wizardry? Or, are the insights of Shakespeare no longer valid?   Are there any human struggles, desires, vices, virtues that are constant over the eons--do y'all think the New Age be so new that the lessons of our forebears have no relevance to the morphed man of today?

I'se jes' rockin' on the porch, sippin iced tea wif' mint, an' ponderin' this  a bit.  Mebbe it's  not the Crack of Doom, jes' Much Ado 'Bout 'Nuthin'.

I doan know...It be real hard to have a conversation wif' folks who ain't familiar wif' the cultural markers.  We use such phrases as a shorthand --ya' know, "Chevrolet, baseball an' apple pie" to communicate a  Norman Rockwell image of America.  

Trouble is, some folks doan have no clue what that phrase alludes to at all!   The cultural markers is movin', I reckon. I 'member when some ole fella had to explain to me the meanin' of "cut a rug."   Sure, that has to happen.  But, Shakespeare?   Imagine not knowin' the meanin' of "pound of flesh" or "green eyed monster" an' not seein' a Primrose Path, or git a prickle on the Ides of March?  How communicate the Dogs of War?  Woe is me. Somethin' very important is afoot: Cultural robbery.

All that Glitters is not modern or technological. No Shakespeare? Something Wicked This Way Comes.



Caroline said...

Auntie, 9th Grade curriculum here requires Romeo and Juliet (not my fav.) and 10th Grade does Julius Caesar. Senior English lit does MacBeth, I think. One of my most vivid memories of HS English class (we are talking 1966)was my teacher Ms. Erickson doing the Witches' scene over a cauldron full of dry ice when we walked in to a darkened classroom. Our intro to Shakespeare, it scared the c**p out of us. We were pretty sure she was a witch before that day and she confirmed it. It was a masterful performance!
I got to know her after she retired and I was in college, she turned out to be a witty, delightful lady with a wicked sense of humor.

darkfoam said...

Shakespeare is Greek to me ;).
I don't necessarily think he's the be-all and the end-all (just kidding). I've actually only read lengthy xcerpts on my own. I've seen a few plays though. You know, I was partially edooocated in the German school system. I've read more Göthe, the Nibelungenlied and stuff like that.

It's always amazed me though how many commonly used phrases are attributable to Shakespeare.
I've used a couple here.

I have read Something Wicked This Way Comes many years ago. Good book, although I remember being creeped out by it. It took me a few years later though to make the Shakespeare connection.

BlazngScarlet said...

Shakespeare is still taught.
My oldest will be a senior in HS this year and he's already been through Romeo & Juiet,
Caeser, Hamlet and Macbeth.
He actually enjoys them.

I have not read Something Wicked This Way Comes ... yet!

moi said...

A liberal arts-based charter high school just opened in my hood. So I feel good about the future.

Personally, I love Shakespeare. His oeuvre and the Bible, and you got just about every story ever told!

R.Powers said...

DISPATCH from the public school trenches: Yes! Most definitely still taught and pretty popular with the students.
And yes! You should read Ray's wonderful tale. Not sci fi, just a wonderful mystical tale.

Do you subscribe to an email thingie called "A phrase a week" ?
Once a week you get the history of a common expression.

This week I learned the roots of the term, "enthralled".

Karl said...

Good afternoon Aunty Belle,

I don't know about public schools. Home schoolers still read Shakespeare. Has change taken place? I think so. About the time "no problem" replaced "your welcome". A change I find most irritating.

fishy said...

All of the public school
Bachelaureate programs require learning from the Bard.

Here in the Carolinas, Clemson University hosts an annual Shakespeare festival with competitions amongst high school groups as part of the festivities. It is well played and well attended so yes, there is hope.

fishy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
czar said...

Aunty, your comments bring to mind an interesting exposition I once read on the book of Revelation.

Imagine two thousand years from now reading a tale about a big bear dressed in red engaged in a fight to the death against a tall, skinny guy with a long beard dressed in red, white, and blue. Should this scenario be considered at face value?

A friend of mine is two plays away from seeing every Shakespeare play written. He's down to Timon of Athens and King John. Says he's ready to pay for staging them at his local high school if he has to.

One problem these days is that, like most things in the public domain, the Bard can be torn to shreds and no one says Boo. The czarina and I were in Staunton, VA, home of the American Shakespeare Center, home to the Blackfriars Playhouse. It's actually rather nifty -- and if their touring group is ever within 50 miles of you, go see them. They are excellent.


But the night we were there, the theatre had been taken over by a director doing his MFA project. ASC has an MFA arrangement with, I believe, Mary Baldwin College.

So, they're doing Hamlet, sorta. Hamlet comes out and says, "To be or not to be . . . oh, never mind."

End of soliloquy.

Buzz Kill said...

I know a lot of the famous quotes and had to read several Shakespeare stories in high school, but I was never a fan. I just couldn't be bothered with the translation thing. It was always too much work for me to understand what he was saying. It's also why I don't like Southpark.

Something Wicked This Way Comes was actually a pretty good movie. It starred Jason Robards and had an interesting 50s style on a 19th century story. And I understood everything they said.

Doom said...

I'm always a bit troubled by the old and new standards for the term "educated". The old standards were rather... rigid. Indoctrinational, if you look at the authors chosen. Most were either essentially or literally communists or socialists by intent or end. The new version of educated is all over the place.

I am (almost) educated of the old school, if self-taught. I read the "right books and playwrights", became aware of the "correct" schools of thought, then read history and had to, pretty much, abandon all I had just learned. History teaches that the classical education is... bereft of merit. Oh, I know... But it's true.

I loved Shakespeare's stuff for many years. But in finality, I surrendered that his use of drama to shortcut to the fine points of human folly and goodness was... too much. The only early education, pretty much self taught as well, that I still accept, is that from the bible. Though, I think most people see some version of socialism there, it doesn't exist. It is about a kingdom, with a King. And... rather... draconian, non-negotiable, eternal, punishments for mistakes (meaning there is a right and wrong way to do pretty much everything).

Something like that. I was having trouble posting comments so I wrote a piece on my blog from this post some time back. But no worries, I've covered it here. I think.

czar said...

@Doom: I think my head just exploded, so you'll excuse me.

You're troubled by indoctrination, but have fallen back on a very rigid interpretation of the Bible. (And you use "bible," lowercased; from your description, I'm almost wondering if you're referring to the Qur'an.)

You're troubled by Shakespeare for using a particular genre to make his point, but you embrace the Bible, which does exactly that, from Genesis to Revelation.

My congratulations to you if you can hold these tensions together. I'd have a difficult time with it.

Yeah, I'm an agnostic and a socialist. It takes all kinds, huh? Aunty's porch is wide and welcoming.

Doom said...


That's too funny. As for indoctrination... See, here is the problem. One, the old version of "educated", was based on follies men have disproven, over and over, using history as the meter. The bible, however, is merely a notion of reality. It's like science versus reality. Sciences attempts to replicate reality but misses because there is too much it doesn't know. Yet reality works every time... just because that's the way it is.

As for Bible versus bible? The bible isn't an entity. While it is the word of God, and perhaps living, it is not in itself holy as an object, only a placeholder for the holy, unlike Christ, or Jesus, who is holy unto Himself.

There really isn't anything to... hold together. It just is. It's like trying to concentrate to hold clouds in the sky. There... simply is no need. If too the clouds may not stay in the sky, should it rain or the wind come. But that is beyond us.

Oh, enjoy though. We... definitely have... different notions.

czar said...

@Doom: Thanks for your gracious response to my rather ungracious comment. I work in publishing, and I've worked on quite a few books lately on the science and religion topic, and most are coming in about exactly where you are in your third paragraph. Things. Just. Are. And most of us will never, never know.

Although I suspect you're probably closer to knowing that I am.

Have a good one, yourself.

Aunty Belle said...

Yea! A good discussion.

youse gladdened mah heart some hearin'that our young'uns is gettin' exposed. An yore story about the cauldron made me giggle.

heh...eggsactly what ya say--so many commly used phrases--this is mah major point: Those common phrases have/ had true meanin' in the world of real human experiences--the phrases is so pithy, they sum up heavy lessons in a few syllables. This amounts to history, psych, economics,philosophy, theology--all rolled into a few words. When young folk doan git none of this, they lose a connection thas' crucial --their own inheritance. Uh, Goethe? Now thas' heavy.


good fer yore boy--it is enjoyable in the hands of good teachers. An I'll be readin' along wifg' ya--we can git us a book review goin'--Bradbury's Somethin' Wicked fer late Sept??


Aunty Belle said...

phrase a week? nooooo, but will remedy that post haste. Happy that CK is teachin' the classics--an' that it is popular. BTW, hope Isaac misses y'all. Batten down yore hatches.

oooh, yep--thas' it precisely. It reminds me of that line in No Country For Old Men (you HAVE read it??) Sheriff Ed Bell:

"But I think once you quit hearing "sir" and "ma'am," the rest is soon to foller."

Fishy, mah prescription fer a recovery of the culture would be fer them boys to learn ( larn?) 'em some Romeo, an' fer girls to start wearin' gloves and hats.

Yep, why not? Folks can see the symbolism that scenario indicates--a death duel a'tween totalitarianism an' a flawed but workable republic whar' folks is free to the greater degree, dependin' on how seriously they take the correspondin' responsibilities.

but then, I'se a child that wuz raised to know that a girl child in a red cape an' hood wif' a basket of goodies who goes trippin' off the path into the woods can jolly well expect a wolf to show up. We could unpack that one fer a week, an' light up the skies wif' feminist ire!

hey Buddy, youse on front page of the WSJ market section, yesterday--did'ja see that? I'se gonna take yore suggestion--do netflix have that movie? I will read the book, of course (see note to Blazng above)

hey hey! whar' ya been? self taught is often a good method--jes' arm yoreself wif' the essential classics an comapre to what ya know of real life--thar's worse methods, Harvard, fer instance. On Seein' socialism in the bibnle? heh--not really, by mah lights. Thsar's a heap of tribe takin' care of tribe...voluntary care fer them in yore domain. A form of noblese oblige. I reckon when Prov 22:28-29 tells us not to move boundary stones it means thar's a private property, dona mess wif' it. An' v.29, a skilled man will stand before kings, not before obscure men, it tells us that developing a skill is a virtue that pays earthly as well as heavenly dividends.

wide porches do make fer interestin' exchanges. If youse of a mind, perhaps ya can favor us'uns wif' yore rationale fer adoptin' socialism--why it be preferable to other systems. Thar's a glass of spiked iced tea in the bargain.

yore explanation of the bible/ Bible (caps or not) is spot on!

LOL, the problem wif'
Things. Just. Are.
is that it brings man to a point of humility--somethin' the gives the modern fella a case of dyspepsia. So, instead, ya' see all manner of twists an pretzels to explain the failure of their explainin'. Science is great, but it ain't the answer to the Big Questions.

czar said...

@Aunty: Note that I didn't say "science vs. religion." "Science and religion" is an entity unto itself -- recognizing the strengths of both, and understanding that -- rather than keeping the topics separate -- the middle ground is drawing closer and closer.

I must say, though, that as an indexer, the term drives me crazy.

On my predilection for socialism as opposed to free-market capitalism as the underlying theme in a republic/democracy, if I may put the two in juxtaposition, I don't have the proper words to throw down in front of this crowd, nor the emotional strength right now to deal with the response I'd receive.

Which is another way of saying, I know that you and Moi and a few others could kick my @ss in any debate on any given topic. I'm smart enough to know my ample limitations. If that makes me a coward, I've probably been called worse. Today.

grins said...

Imaging how much culture was lost in wars. Ex. the communist take over in China.
I am an ape when it comes to culture but today's kids have no idea to many of my references.

moi said...

@Czar: you don't have to explain. I know that you used to be a, what, classical liberal? So there is still hope :o)

@Aunty: You read Faulkner?

Fleurdeleo said...

Hi, Aunty!

MacBeth is my favorite play. And Karl, "no problem" replacing "you're welcome" bugs me too.

Aunty Belle said...

Science and Religion, a bucket unto itself? hmmmn...fer fun, take a look at Fides et ratio.

On socialism/ capitalism, youse got plenty enough words to throw down. Moi an' Aunty may bare fangs onc't in awhile, but we doan bite--jes nibble.

But I doan believe youse akshully an apologist fer socialism as it be understood these days. Reckon youse jes' fed up wif excesses of capitalism. As Moi (below) notes, classical liberalism ain't the gooney libos of today. Boy--this could be a good Ether Capacious topic. Fer the record, Aunty ain't an Ayn Rand fan. To my view, she makes the same mistake of gross utilitarianism that the Marxists make in creating the machine like worker-state. Only she makes it to the right 'stead of the left. Both make work/ money the highest good of man's efforts in this life--to Aunty, thas' hawgwash.

hey hey--thas' mah main point! The kids have NO CLUE what ya mean iffin' ya' warn them all that glitters is not gold. Less an' less is kids able to grasp analogies or see thangs anagogically.

sure--fer penance :)

I need to revisit Him--prefer Walker Percy when it comes to Mississippians.

hey sweet chile, so pleased ter see ya' out an' about.

Luv Macbeth! An' Karl zings thangs right to the heart--a killshot.

Doom said...

Don't be so surprised about science and religion in the same bucket. All you need for this are the roots. At least in the West, it was the Catholic Church through the university system that ushered in this modern era. Think of science as a recalcitrant child. Not the other way around as some might have you believe. I am not even sure the Church is surprised by what has happened. It almost feels like this was expected... a part of the plan... to begin with. With the way that God's work is often or can be a mystery, I am not sure the Church always knows... what it is doing, or why, or such. It just does what... it is lead to do.

Science is merely an extension of religion, which explains a lot of things; from the separation (as if the "child" hit it's teens); to the similarities; some calling many of the believers of science scientologists (little "s") because they believe despite not having a real clue; many of the so called elite of the science field being cast as bishops (often of the inane to insane, but... compare/contrast with bishop Spong); similarities in structures; use of Latin; the list goes way on. Ugh. Anyway...

BlazngScarlet said...

Late September?
That will give me plenty of time to get over the whirlwind of going back to school & work .... and give me a much needed 'break'!