Credit where credit is due, both the major ideas in this post come from Fareed Zakaria on his CNN Sunday program, GPS. If you follow TV news at all, you know Sunday mornings have such long-running standards as Meet the Press (on NBC since 1947!) and Face the Nation (on CBS since 1954). (Or was it Meet the Nation and Face the Press?)
Zakaria is one of the good ones: very intelligent, highly educated, calm and measured. He’s well worth listening to. (I’ve realized one attraction to TV news is the chance to — at least sometimes — hear educated, intelligent talk. It’s a nice respite from most TV entertainment.)
Two things on Zakaria’s last episode really rang a bell with me.
You couldn’t know this, but my blogging workspace is littered with balls of virtual crumpled paper. The ones writers make when they rip failed writing attempts from their typewriter, smush them up in disgust, and toss them disdainfully over their shoulder. This post — which has been in my mental queue for well over a year — has the strongest resistance to being written that I’ve ever encountered.
I wrote the note you see here somewhere back in 2013. It seemed like exactly the sort of thought chain that would make an interesting post. Many of the items in that chain (consciousness, art, science) are things that fascinate me and are even areas this blog tries to discuss.
So why is a post about it so dang hard to write?
Computer programmers, and others who work with languages, sometimes use the related terms: semantics & syntax. They are concepts with a specific application to language, but language is communication and there are many forms of communication. For example, when music is viewed as a language one can apply the concepts of syntax and semantics.
This article (in my queue for years) was meant to introduce those two concepts, but my vision for this blog has evolved in ways that largely moot those original intentions. Why write about topics no one is casually interested in, and which are already covered in exhaustive detail elsewhere for those with a serious interest?
Besides,… this one… turned out different…
I was exposed to Shakespeare in high school. We read several of his plays in various English classes. I took to it about the same as most high school kids. That is, I found it opaque and dull (like “classical” music). The first glimmer of the magic and wonder of Shakespeare came only when I became involved in staging some of his plays in drama class.
When I was a sophomore, I helped stage—and acted in—our high school drama group’s presentation of Hamlet (one of his greatest works). I’ve written about my high school drama teacher; he was a professional theatre person who’d gone into teaching (while waiting for his big break in Hollywood). Our production of Hamlet received rave reviews from local papers. “Better than most college productions,” they said!
As a direct consequence of that production, Hamlet is my favorite play!