Shakespeare…useless??

A slightly cheesy post, a self-righteous half rant–with some points made.

“What’s the point of studying Shakespeare if you’re never going to use it in life?” said my little brother, a man of math, science, logic and reason.
“Well, what’s the point of studying calculus if you’re never going to use it in life?” said I, a total literary nerd and hopeless romantic.
“Math is the mother of science, and science, as we all know, constitutes the mechanics and functions of everything you see. Shakespeare is annoying.”

I have something to say to that, although I didn’t get a chance to at the time of our debate because I am a slow thinker. My thoughts need to brew and simmer, and they often find their way to me through texts (me being a texty person and all).

Shakespeare could be annoying. Even a literature lover has his or her preferences. You don’t have to agree with me that Shakespeare is one of the most prominent and inspirational figure of all-time, and his plays aren’t just flowers and rhymes. There is depth and purpose, there is politics, there is gender, family issues, reationships, humour, social and historical criticisms–you can spend a lifetime studying Shakespeare and you’ll still be unable to cover the magnitude of his literary brilliance.

But as I have said, it’s all subjective. Before I continue glorifying one of my favourite playwrights, I will say this: Shakespeare is NOT useless. Perhaps his seemingly perpetual existence in a fixed and standardized curriculum isn’t the best representation of what he stands for, and his works obviously his works don’t necessarily appeal to every student studying English. However, he is important because of what he represents.

Shakespeare represents art, creativity, and self-expression. You can dismiss Shakespeare, but you can’t dismiss what he stands for. You simply cannot say art is useless, or it’s unimportant, or it’s unproductive, trivial, insubstantial. The world NEEDS art. Everybody NEEDS art because art is self-expression, and to try to separate art from science, the creative from reason or logic, or whatever dichotomies produced simply for the sake of dichotomization– it doesn’t make sense to me. You can express yourself with poetry or words just as well as you can express yourself with numbers and equations. Science is art. Art is science. And to try to argue that art is unnecessary, you are saying that it’s unncessary to speak your voice, to be true to who you are, and to live life to its fullest potential and expression. A life without creative expression is not a life at all, whether it be dancing, writing, acting, laughing, goofing around, eating, tasting, trying out new things, riding a bike, working out, solving calculus functions, balancing chemical equations…

What is this bias, then? Why is science usually considered more important–more practical? You can blame the industrial revolution. It was an era that needed scientific knowledge more than artisitic expression. That’s the short version, and it’s of course more complicated than that, but here you go.

It’s like some people say love is just a chain reaction of chemicals in your body, and all those romantic or poetic feelings, the “dramatized, idealized” version of love is unreal and exaggerated. That I agree, love is often exaggerrated and overrated. But I insist that the chemical reactions of love are feelings of love observed on the level of the particles. I insist that there is one reality, and there are millions of perspectives. And the reason why people have to fight over it to prove themselves right, I reckon, is because they love to prove others wrong.

Anyway. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while; I’ve been putting it off because I am a master procrastinator.

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