Monday, 23 April 2012

It's William Shakespeare's Birthday

As you know, I believe William Shakespeare to be the true author of the plays that bear his name. April 23rd is the day widely celebrated as his birthday and is also the anniversary of his death. Our most celebrated writer, born and died on our patron saint's day, he could hardly have written a better plot.

People have described him as an Elizabethan psychiatrist because of his incredible insights into the human condition. However I suspect that he wasn't a lone genius uncovering the subtleties of human emotion. I see him as one man in a troupe of actors, frequenting the pubs of London and performing for the grand houses of England. I am sure he would have seen and heard all sorts of stories unfolding in front of him or being retold over a jar of ale. He was just fortunate to be able to access these stories with actors who helped to reinterpret them for him to write down. As we see from the numerous versions of Hamlet we still have today, many of his plays were redrafted and honed, and since we don't have anything in his own hand, perhaps they were never really perfected or completed in his mind.

We should just be grateful to have what has survived, and grateful that Hemmings and Condell decided to publish his work posthumously. As almost anyone who has an appreciation for Shakespeare has said before, every reading and performance brings out something new. You can't get tired of Shakespeare.

Happy Birthday, Will.

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Wednesday, 18 April 2012


When I was a kid I felt quite technologically advanced as my parents both worked in the computer industry when it was still fairly new. Now though I feel a bit left behind. My telephone has many times more processing power than the room sized computers my dad used to install, complete with air cooling, cranes and tapes. It has functions that I am sure those early computer pioneers could never have dreamed of.
I understand that kids today take computers and technology for granted and learn to use everything as easily as they learned to walk. I feel somewhat baffled. I appreciate that something like a personal assistant on the phone is an incredibly complex piece of software but I can't really workout what I would use it for, or what it can do that I can't.
I also think there is an extent to which heavy reliance on technology reduces the scope of a person. If I ask this personal assistant to do everything what is there for me to do? Like taking photographs. I used to have a lovely 35mm SLR camera that I would carefully clean and adjust all the settings to make sure I captured beautiful pictures. Now I drag my phone out of my pocket and take a quick pic that I can then fiddle with using automatic filters all included in the phone.
I have also read that Google are launching glasses with a HUD (heads up display) integrated into them, so you can find maps, take photos, even buy things online just by tipping your head.
There is a film called eXistenz in which players of a game are physically connected into it, reality becomes very confused with the in game world. I wonder if that is our future.