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Old 04-07-2009, 11:10 AM   #41
Samuel Dravis
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
So are you saying that writers don't follow any rules at all? They have to follow certain standards of a language, otherwise no one would take them seriously. You won't find a writer leaving useless content in a story because it dilutes the book/document. It is worthless wording that gets in the way. If you can't send your message, then you don't get your point across.

When you want to state a complex idea or thought, that demands more words than a simple action; but if you simplify it too much, you no longer state your idea. If your idea is not stated, either you have too much noise(interference); you are using too many, too few, or are badly wording your message.
I'm reading a book now, Ulysses by James Joyce. The author throws quite a few grammatical conventions out the window, drops verbs and is VERY wordy:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulysses p. 381
Mr Bloom stooped and turned over a piece of paper on the strand. He brought it near his eyes and peered. Letter? No can't read. Better go. Better. I'm tired to move. Page of an old copybook. All those holes and pebbles. Who could count them? Never know what you find. Bottle with a story of a treasure in it thrown from a wreck. Parcels post. Children always want to throw things into the sea. Trust? Bread cast on the waters. What's this? Bit of stick.
Now, I wonder: could he have written the same book without the "fluff" and with proper grammar, as you suggest he should have? Yes- in a sense. In any case, it might have the same characters' names, but the feel of the book would be completely different. It would also have been, in my opinion, extraordinarily boring.

The reason I decided to read Ulysses is because I loved the style. In fact, I had no idea what the story was supposed to be about when I heard of it; I had only read an essay and found discovered later that it was similar to Joyce's style.

Writing is not limited to conveying ideas, you know, and not everything that is necessary for a piece of literature serves to transmit one.


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Old 04-07-2009, 01:07 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
Let me guess... Shakespeare? If so, he doesn't exactly do that very well. Concise means stating your idea and having it received by the reader/listener. Mark my words that you don't do that by using an excessive amount of useless words. Words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing.
Wrong. Let me give you an example.

"The tree had green leaves that moved in the wind."

It's as simple a message as can be written to convey that the tree has leaves, they are green, and they move in the wind. However, a writer could choose to say this instead:

"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."

Are you really going to sit there and tell me that the former is better than the latter, simply because it uses fewer words?



It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:21 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Adavardes View Post
"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."

Are you really going to sit there and tell me that the former is better than the latter, simply because it uses fewer words?
Very poetic and impressive; likely written by one who achieved a mastery of words.

This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.

The ideas communicated in this and the first sentence are different.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:41 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
Very poetic and impressive; likely written by one who achieved a mastery of words.

This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.

The ideas communicated in this and the first sentence are different.
Thank you for the compliment, and you're right, they are two different messages. One is a simple communication, the other is actual art. This is about whether or not Shakespeare matters, and he'll always matter, because his use of language as art is unprecedented. You said that "words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing", and that "useless content in a story dilutes the book/document". I feel that you couldn't be more wrong, and that the value of speed over beauty in modern society has caused a degradation of language as a whole.



It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.
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Old 04-07-2009, 02:08 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Adavardes View Post
One is a simple communication, the other is actual art.
I cannot agree with that. What makes the second sentence any greater than simple communication, or the first one not worthy of being called art? I myself find greater beauty in the first sentence than in the other, if only because it is less pretentious than the other.


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Originally Posted by Adavardes View Post
You said that "words get in the way and detract from the quality of writing", and that "useless content in a story dilutes the book/document". I feel that you couldn't be more wrong, and that the value of speed over beauty in modern society has caused a degradation of language as a whole.
A people's language reflects their society, at least to some measure. If our English has degraded, it isn't because people got stupid.

The intricately-written English of the 19th Century and before comes from a time when the language was restricted to the British Isles, then spread to the America, followed by the British Colonies. In each of these places, English developed its own dialects that refused to form entirely different languages. To communicate effectively between these dozens of dialects that exist today, and to keep pace with the extremely fast-paced world of today, the English language has had to evolve into a more simplistic, "degraded" variant that favours function over style, speed over "beauty".

I agree with Darth Yuthura's general opinion that the more pertinent, the better (but I do not agree with any of her specific statements, I'm afraid). What is important first and foremost, is to get your message clear, your words across.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
Writing is not limited to conveying ideas, you know, and not everything that is necessary for a piece of literature serves to transmit one.
I don't understand this at all. Every written word transmits some sort of an idea, so long as the word isn't made-up and unexplained. I can't think of any examples where writing doesn't transmit any idea whatsoever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Y
This is not accurate to my argument, however. If this were to describe what the movement of leaves on a tree reminded a viewer of, then the subject would not be that the tree's leaves fluttered with the wind. One is a literal description where the other is how the leaves were perceived by the viewer/reader.
She's right. Both sentences convey vastly different meaning, and these cannot be judged without context. I wouldn't even lay a concrete meaning on either sentence. The first sentence appears to be a literal description, but that may be how our protagonist or reader is intended to look at the tree; coldly and without any sense of beauty. The second sentence is more flowery, and it will be appropriate if our reader is supposed to contemplate the natural beauty of the tree, inappropriate if our reader is reading hardcore military fiction where said tree is spotted by a sniper robot.



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Old 04-07-2009, 03:46 PM   #46
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I don't want to keep backing something that has already been rejected, but I still am not sure that I properly communicated what I meant by 'as few words as possible.'

In order to keep your reader engaged, you cannot afford to needlessly add content where it is not needed. When you have something that you want to add a poetic description, then you do not detract from your writing; you enrich it. If you have double negatives, repetition, or a lack of vocabulary terms; you may force the reader to have to reread sentences that didn't make sense.

Example: "In all honesty, it's not an impossibility." vs. "It's possible."

Which is clearer to understand? This was unfair of me to use, but the first was meant to confuse the listener by adding more words than needed and throwing in more than one logical actuator. The second is straight forward, but has a different interpretation.

Example: "Shakespeare is the greatest writer in history. He's even better than Michael Criton."

You don't have to have 'He's even better than Michael Criton' because the first piece of the sentence already encompassed Criton. This is needless wording to achieve the same outcome.


Example: "Make sure to properly secure the solar filter to the telescope."
Example 2: "Looking at the sun through a telescope will burn your retinas. Make sure to properly secure the solar filter to the telescope."

Example two has more words for the same direction, but the additional words are to instill fear into the consequences of making a mistake. This is an example where you expand the idea or subject in order to enhance your message. The concern is not fitting the solar filter to a telescope... it's not damaging you eyes while looking at the sun.

I will go so far as to say that there are MANY situations where my advice can be challenged. It's meant to reduce the number of words you use in a language without changing the meaning of the subject you're trying to communicate. The same subject with a simpler sentence is usually the best because it is less likely to be misinterpreted.

Shakespeare often required me to go back and reread the same thing multiple times because I missed a logical operator (and, or, not) and it flipped the meaning completely. Wordy descriptions of a tree are not always great to have because we almost all know about what trees look like... a tropical tree might be different, though. The sample I saw actually was quite impressive, but it made a statement that made even a very simple thing very elaborate to think about.

Concise writing should be to essentially make your wording easy to understand... good vocabulary or technical terms are what writers often use to produce fewer, more concise terms than simple, lengthy descriptions... which are what I would expect from inexperienced writers.

One thing that I appreciate from very skilled writers is also the ability to essentially use a variety of words in context. Using the same grouping of words like 'he said' gets back to the repetition issue I've mentioned. I haven't read Shakespeare having this problem very much. I give him credit for that. A diverse vocabulary is essential to any kind of writer... occupational or artistic alike.

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Old 04-07-2009, 11:48 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Sabretooth View Post
I don't understand this at all. Every written word transmits some sort of an idea, so long as the word isn't made-up and unexplained. I can't think of any examples where writing doesn't transmit any idea whatsoever.
Just that some things necessary to a work of literature may not be the meaning of the words, but rather how the words are written. For example, Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter in his verse and his word choice reflects that ("Useless" words? I doubt it!). Following structured syllable patterns like this lends rhythmic qualities to the text, and may give other benefits as well; for example, a sudden change in meter can lend urgency, make the reader slow down while reading, or call attention to an important passage. Yes, Shakespeare could have written things differently, but if he did, it wouldn't have been an art form like the writings of his contemporaries. I wouldn't call these different structuring formats and effects ideas, but I would say they are an essential part of Shakespeare's texts.

Additionally, the format of the words can have an effect, such as if it were
f
a
l
l
i
n
g

down. See what I mean?

Part of the reason you're exposed to a lot of moldy old literature in school, I imagine, is because it shows you: words don't have to be merely information-transmittal devices. You can both play with language yourself and enjoy the spectacle of the masters doing so as well. Like I said about Joyce's Ulysses-- I love the feel of the book, the way it's written. The contents were never my main interest.


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Old 04-08-2009, 07:07 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by mur'phon
But why do we need to know the progression of our mother tounge? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy things like tracing words to get as close to the source as possible, it's just that I don't see the point for every child to learn about that....I'm a bit curious of how learning an obsolete way of spelling improves the spelling of current english.
When you sound some of the words out, it helps us understand why we spell things the way we do today. There were a few words from Beowulf and other very early English writers that look very strange until you sound them out--then I could see the pattern develop that turned it into the modern equivalent. I was able to apply those pattern to similar words, and it helped with spelling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mur'phon
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
The reason why Shakespeare stays relevant is because his plays and poetry describe the human condition so well--love, betrayal, jealousy, honor, grief, courage, and so on. Those kinds of themes are timeless.
But shouldn't it be up to each person to decide wether or not they find it relevant? If it is as you say, plenty of people will read him anyway, the only difference is that people don't have to read him.
I think issues of life and death are rather relevant for all of us at some point, don't you? Shakespeare conveys a lot of insight on humanity in some very interesting plays and poetry. He's done it better than many other writers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura
Shakespeare often required me to go back and reread the same thing multiple times because I missed a logical operator (and, or, not) and it flipped the meaning completely. Wordy descriptions of a tree are not always great to have because we almost all know about what trees look like... a tropical tree might be different, though. The sample I saw actually was quite impressive, but it made a statement that made even a very simple thing very elaborate to think about.
It would have made more sense if we still spoke that way today. Once you've read several of his works, it flows more readily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura
Concise writing should be to essentially make your wording easy to understand... good vocabulary or technical terms are what writers often use to produce fewer, more concise terms than simple, lengthy descriptions... which are what I would expect from inexperienced writers.
This is what I expect from an inexperienced writer in creative writing. It's what I expect from an experienced non-fiction writer. The two are very different. In creative writing (which is what Shakespeare was doing), your goal is to allow the reader to experience the people and events in a play, story, or poem. One of the ways you do that is to be as descriptive as possible of the scene, the people, the events. That's what makes the story pop to life.

Concise is not equivalent to 'efficient'. I can make this statement more concise:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adavardes
"The tree had green leaves that moved in the wind."
"The green tree leaves moved in the wind."
Neither are very artistic. In fact, both statements are rather boring to read.

Likewise, verbosity and flowery language does not make something poetic. One can use the language poetically and creatively, yet still be efficient.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adavardes
"The tree held upon its branches a thousand emerald butterflies, each fluttering their delicate wings in rhythm with the unpredictable flow of the wind, proving order to chaos."
For instance:
"Thousands of emerald leaves perched on the tips of the tree branches, fluttering a delicate rhythm in the swirling wind."

The butterfly is implied with the perching and fluttering and the wing-like structure of many leaves. Rhythm automatically is a form of order, so 'proving order to chaos' becomes superfluous. Swirling winds are typically unpredictable flows of wind, so changing that phrase cut 2 words. I cut out just shy of 30% of the words without losing the meaning or the emotional tone. A poet probably could make it even more compact but just as poetic.

The entire feeling can also be changed by altering just a few words, and it'll become something entirely different:
"Thousands of dark green leaves gripped the ends of the tree branches, beating a martial cadence against the howling storm winds."


From MST3K's spoof of "Hercules Unchained"--heard as Roman medic soldiers carry off an unconscious Greek Hercules on a 1950's Army green canvas stretcher: "Hi, we're IX-I-I. Did somebody dial IX-I-I?"

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Old 04-08-2009, 07:43 PM   #49
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The butterfly is implied with the perching and fluttering and the wing-like structure of many leaves. Rhythm automatically is a form of order, so 'proving order to chaos' becomes superfluous. Swirling winds are typically unpredictable flows of wind, so changing that phrase cut 2 words. I cut out just shy of 30% of the words without losing the meaning or the emotional tone. A poet probably could make it even more compact but just as poetic.
I don't believe that condensing an ideal into smaller units really enhances or clarifies the message within. In fact, I find that using as many adjectives as possible often enhances the message, especially with something extremely creative. To take a page from Jack Kerouac:
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The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh...
Now, if you take out, let's say seven adjectives, for starters, would the message stay the same as the original? Using a multitude of varying terms not only gets the message across, but also creates a stylized pattern, a form of art, if you will.
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:58 PM   #50
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Why don't we speak that way today? There had to be a reason for that.

As suggested by an earlier post, there are multiple dialects that come from the same language in different regions of the world. In most cases, there is a greater benefit to a greater simplicity in language than making it more complex. English has so many rules in grammar and spelling that it is often considered the most difficult language to learn from scratch.

It may not be as 'artistic' as Shakespeare, but I often find the greatest thought-provoking works to be those where the elements of literature are clearly defined. With a vivid description and interesting characters... those you can associate with... the reader would be able to determine what's important and what's not. If something wasn't important enough to be remembered, then logically it shouldn't be a prominent feature of a fiction.

If you are trying to convey a thought to the reader, then there should be no difficulty in allowing the reader to understand the elements of the story. If it's difficult to put yourself in the mind of a certain character, then it would be difficult to understand why s/he would take a certain action. In my fiction 'Shrouded in Darkness,' through a first person perspective; I usually go about stating the elements of the story around Yuthura Ban and ultimately piecing those elements with her thoughts/beliefs. That allows for the reader to know why she acted, or why she thought someone else acted as they did.

I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters, so I can't understand why Romeo would fall in love under such unbelievable circumstances. In the course of a play, the little details are sorely lacking; but you then can't make a play less than a day long to associate and care for the characters.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:16 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters
I don't think that's his fault.

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Old 04-08-2009, 11:19 PM   #52
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Quote:
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I don't believe that condensing an ideal into smaller units really enhances or clarifies the message within. In fact, I find that using as many adjectives as possible often enhances the message, especially with something extremely creative. To take a page from Jack Kerouac:Now, if you take out, let's say seven adjectives, for starters, would the message stay the same as the original? Using a multitude of varying terms not only gets the message across, but also creates a stylized pattern, a form of art, if you will.
I was pointing out where he could achieve the same imagery more efficiently--all the images of the emerald leaves, trees, butterflies, chaos and order, and wind can get bombastic when it's overdone. Re-read Kerouac's sentence again--what are you seeing? Are you stopping in the middle of the sentence to read the words, or are you experiencing the moment that Kerouac's created for you? Does it use 'writerly' language or normal language? The only word in Kerouac's sentence that you might pause at is 'desirous' since we don't use that word very often in American English. His sentence construction helps with the flow with the staccato mad-mad-mad-mad--he has the right words, he also has put them in the right places.

Efficient does not mean 'short'. It means using the right word in the right place at the right time and no more than that. I don't think Kerouac could have made that sentence any more efficient and still have it mean the same--every single word is necessary to create the experience. There were words in Adavardes' and likely my creative attempts that weren't necessary or needed to be moved around or tweaked to give us more specific imagery and sensations for the reader to experience for ourselves, rather than 'telling us what the experience is'. However, that's why Kerouac's published and I'm not (but maybe one day....)

@Darth_Yuthura--the themes in Romeo and Juliet are repeated to this day. How happy are families when a person of one race marries a person of another, black/white, Hispanic/black, Hispanic/white, etc.? What happens when a conservative marries into a family of Communists, a Christian marries a Wiccan, a Muslim marries a Jew? Can you imagine what might happen if a Palestinian girl told her family she was in love with an Israeli boy that she had met at the local college or market? The two families might not go to open war these days (Palestinians and Israelis notwithstanding), but they might well have the same kind of seething hatred for the other family that you see in Romeo and Juliet, the kind that can poison the very children that they love and want the best for.

The little details that you feel are sorely lacking are often part of the set or costuming, or seen in the gestures and facial expressions that the actors would make, or even in their movements on stage and their interactions with different props. I would recommend watching Shakespeare instead of just reading his works--I think it'll make a lot more sense for you then. Plays are meant to be watched rather than read, ideally. I've read 'Much Ado About Nothing', which is funny, but it's even better on stage or on screen, not to mention any movie with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Beckinsale, and Michael Keaton (who nearly stole the show with his crazy take on Dogberry) is fantastic.


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Old 04-09-2009, 12:44 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
I often can't associate with Shakespeare's characters, so I can't understand why Romeo would fall in love under such unbelievable circumstances. In the course of a play, the little details are sorely lacking; but you then can't make a play less than a day long to associate and care for the characters.
If you can't understand why Romeo could fall for Juliette, then you have never been truly in love.

Perhaps a more modern interpretation would be to your liking. Try West Side Story. SAME story. Then there's the love story from Lord of the Rings. but that's not all. It flows through with many other modern stories. The geeky kid and the head cheerleader. the Jock and the brainy girl. It is a story told time and again. Two lovers who's lives are seperated by forces other than their own making. Heck a case could even be made for Anakin and Padme. She's a politician, He's a Jedi sworn to cast off all attachments.

Oh and Jae, you're late on the Israeli/Palestinian story. I present to you the Oscar Winning West Bank Story

Parallels with life are all around you. I fell in love with a girl from a wealthy family. Her family absolutely hated anything to do with the military. While our story didn't end in mutual death(at least I hope not, since I still seem to be here), the basic premise of the story is the same.


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Old 04-12-2009, 05:13 AM   #54
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Using this image of Kenneth Branagh looking rather scared as inspiration, does Shakespeare matter to you? Do you think it should be taught in schools? Is he just pointlessly outdated, kept alive by a bunch of luvvies in large shirts?



Famous because he's famous? You don't even have to say "Shakespeare's works" anymore, simply "Shakespeare" will do...
Well, now. This thread sure livened my day up. I hadn't been to kavar's for a bit.

I thought my entire high school education was as useless as turds in a crock pot. I'm glad to see I was wrong about that. In fact, now that I have read over many posts and taken certain considerations of similar analogies (I.E. points of cultural centrality as I learn japanese I.E. the symbolic meaning of the Samurai, etc.), I can honestly say, now, that my high school education was, in fact, a very rich one.

Shakespeare IMO cannot, and never will be able to be, *fully* appreciated in just a single subject of class (I.E. English). My experiences with it was in my particular high school's 'acting concepts 1-2' or simply 'basic drama'. I took the class because state curriculum required that I take either a year of fine arts or a foreign language. They didn't have Japanese or Chinese language available, so I took drama being that my father is a performer by trade.

Looking back, I see now that perhaps a very large factor into how I am capable of understanding, and leveling with, others, was this class. It helped me to be more palpable in my english papers later on with the ethos and pathos, though I preferred logos. It gave me ability and focus also to see into one-another's persona when I converse with him or her.
(Heheh. Palpable...palpatine? Fwo-ho-ho! I DO wonder!)

My drama class: we had to do quite a few Shakespeare related things if I do recall. Had to read all the plays, and the history of them and bits and chunks of shakespeare as a whole--probably not near as intensively, nor comprehensively, as some of you have had to do in english courses.

How would I describe it? Sort of like rolling up english, history, anthropology, psychology, speech, old fashioned visual effects, advertising, and perhaps some bits of science in there too, all in one. I don't know how else to describe the complexity of the "case study" assignment. (except huge and intimidating until you actually got into it). My impression: very few beatings on an intellectual level have I ever received. Of them, this has to be one of the most memorable, at least.
Another that rivals that in my educational experience is the book of:
Frederick Douglass: an American slave, a narrative written by himself. I swear, I never got such an ass-kicking in the reading department (and supposedly I'm a natural in reading and comprehension dept.)!

We also had to group up and reenact a play chosen. (My group chose Hamlet--only the bloodiest most violent one ) I loved the part where I played the character talking about laced muttons, and getting all disgruntled and crawling around mimicking a lamb like I'd gone mad. I got quite a few laughs. At the very least you had to be able to act out multiple parts with a fair level of fluidity and believability, and cooperation with your team had to be enough for decent/average timing.

However, the all encompassing interactivity of it was something I'll never forget as long as I live. It is a standard in fact to which I apply and hold many things--often without even realizing it!!!

Ironic how you never think you have use for such things until you reexamine your life AFTER having experienced it.

As well, AP English classes in my high school specializing in british literature seemed to also have concurrently integrated itself with our class's material. So we were quite on the spot to make our stuff good for observation because another class depended upon it, somewhat. I'm not sure to what extent this actually goes, but a great deal of things is possible. Whether it is dual cooperative efforts, after school projects, correlative studies, or fun competitive exhibitions...is anyone's guess.

It was a major grade requirement for the first semester of that class in high school, whatever year you took it. The more advanced classes, you can bet, requiring even more Shakespeare.

Certainly, it set a precedent for other small memorable things in my life.
1) I became a famous guy in my high school's "Air Band" history, definitely in the school history books: nobody before had attempted and succeeded as I had in doing the badboy rock'n'roll routine and getting a HUGE popular response from the crowd. My acts were: Junior year: Kevin DuBrow with Quiet Riot, song "Cum on feel the noize!"; Senior year: Ozzy Osbourne in his band gone solo, song "Crazy Train".
2) Also, in various sword play I do, I seem to be relied upon quite a bit by whomever I am with to make a duel choreography "work" or "happen".
3) At nerd conventions with Star Wars themes and for a community college's anthropology meets or classes on Star Wars I occasionally would make appearances for 'lightsaber duels'.
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Old 04-12-2009, 03:01 PM   #55
mur'phon
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When you sound some of the words out, it helps us understand why we spell things the way we do today. There were a few words from Beowulf and other very early English writers that look very strange until you sound them out--then I could see the pattern develop that turned it into the modern equivalent. I was able to apply those pattern to similar words, and it helped with spelling.
If that is how Shakespare is taught in schools ( I have no experience with the american school system, and what I have of the British commes from my stay in South Africa), I have no problem with it. My experience however is that it doesen't happen, at least not in the Norwegian/South African system.

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I think issues of life and death are rather relevant for all of us at some point, don't you?
Yes, but I prefer to deal with those through research, if Shakespare is usefull to some in that situation, give them pointers.

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Shakespeare conveys a lot of insight on humanity in some very interesting plays and poetry.He's done it better than many other writers.
Agreed, though this effect is a bit reduced by his own succes, there are so much "plagiarized" from his work that most students have got much of the insight long before they are taught Shakespare.
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