Reading and Writing
A certain Elizabethan gent, one Shakespeare W, may, or may not – the controversy keeps resurfacing – be the chap responsible for a plethora of plays, the complete oeuvre of which I have fidgeted through over the past year.
For my tiny mind, the consequence of all this eyebrow-elevating entertainment is to ask not who wrote the plays but why?
The length of some of them alone makes one raise the hat to the astonishing bladder control of Elizabethan audiences. As for some of the so-called 'comedy' speeches, they could be used as an advanced hearing test in which only the acutely aural could hope to gain a pass.
A Shakespeare play, like many other literary pinnacles, is probably one of those events it is better to be in than to endure from a crowded auditorium.
There is an oft-quoted mathematical remark that, 'an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of word-processors would write the complete works of Shakespeare.'
(Pause here for one of two possible reactions: 1. Wow, fantastic! Really? 2. So what?)
The intention of the observation is to produce the first response – absolute awe. But logically, it is not much really; it simply scratches at the surface, like the monkeys delving into their fur during breaks in failing to come up with anything remotely resembling Jeffrey Archer (well, so far, they do maintain some standards).
If they can produce Shakespeare's output, then they must also be able to churn out others, say the complete novels of PG Wodehouse. Coming up with Joyce's Ulysses would surely be a considerably more remarkable feat of word mangling than 'my kingdom for a horse'.
The point is that the tribe of simians would actually produce every book ever written – and what's more, those not yet written. Publishing, after a mere infinite wait, will become a simple trawl through the gibberish and copying and pasting the usable.
There may be ground for some suspicion that the process is already underway, if the mass of recent popular fodder in the e-book department is anything to go by.
It has been observed by one pundit (know-all), regretting the rise in the sales of e-books, that the main reason why souls buy tablets and Kindles is that they can surreptitiously read books, the lurid covers of which advertise the even more lurid contents, that would raise a mass of eyebrows propped up in view on the 8.15 from Luton.
According to this 'expert' (know-all), everybody, under the anonymity of their hand-held tablet, is reading poorly edited (if edited at all) rubbish – never anything even remotely called literature.
But let's just take a look at a handy Kindle lying on the desk…
Ah – the Complete Works of Tolstoy; the Kalevala; Tacitus' Histories, and works by Dickens, Dumas, Cornwell, Sansom, Chevalier, Philippa Gregory et al. Wow, some pretty racy stuff there. No wonder I slope off to the en suite, clutching my tablet tight in a damp hand!
What will those little monkeys come up with next?