Thursday, April 23, 2015
Do you realize how often you quote Shakespeare? Here are some of the expressions you might use in your everyday speech.
The world is your oyster, being in a position to take advantage of life’s opportunities
Catch a cold, meaning,to get sick
It’s all Greek to me,meaning something is indistinguishable or incomprehensible
Love is blind,inability to see shortcomings in a lover
Wild goose chase,meaning a hopeless and never-ending pursuit
A heart of gold,meaning a very kind or honorable person
Break the ice,meaning to start conversation
Laughing stock,meaning, a person subjected to ridicule
Wear your heart on your sleeve,meaning to express you emotions openly
Method to his madness, meaning someone’s strange behavior has a purpose
Green-eyed monster, when speaking of jealousy
In a pickle, when you are in a difficult or uncomfortable situation
It is a sad sate of affairs that just 4 of the top 52 top-ranked universities require English majors to take a course on Shakespeare. I am proud to say UC Berkeley is one of the four.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
A recent NYT article, Starving for Wisdom beautifully highlights what we have known since Homer— of the importance of a close marriage between the sciences and humanism— “science depends upon the humanities to shape judgments about ethics, limits and values.”
The study of humanities, and here I focus on literature, enrich a person’s soul. As the poet, William Carlos Williams said
It is difficult to get the news from poems
yet men die miserable every day for lack
of what is found there.
If the enrichment of our soul is not enough reason to read literature, let us be aware that much of our happiness depends upon our interactions with those around us, and evidence increasingly tells us that literature nurtures a richer emotional intelligence. Literature builds bridges of understanding of others and helps readers better know themselves.
An important read that furthers our thinking about the importance of the humanities is Fareed Zakaria’s book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. He brings to life what E. O. Wilson said,
We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
A poem is a magical arrangement of words
that delivers feelings. It is not a test.
Poetry and music speak directly to your heart.
When listening to a piece of music,
the melody and the lyrics wash over you,
You find yourself in a particular mood.
You would not think to analyze how that happened
So why burden a poem with such a thought?
The only question to ask of a poem
is not "What did the poem mean?" but
rather, "What mood does the poem deposit
into your heart?"
To You By Karla Kuskin
I think I could walk
Through the simmering sand
If I held your hand.
I think I could swim
The skin shivering sea
If you would accompany me.
And run on ragged, windy heights,
Climb ragged rocks
And walk on air.
I think I could do anything al all
If you were there.
No need to ask the meaning of this poem—
Your heart knows how to respond.
I believe more people will enjoy
poetry when they get out from under
the burden to explain it.