Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Bard

News came out last week that Shakespeare might have had syphilis. My reaction to that "news" is the same as when Dan Shaughnessy wrote two weeks ago that Minky held the ball.

"Who the hell cares?"

This Shakespeare thing is a little more harmless than Dan Shaughnessy, but nevertheless, it's still stupid.

Let me break this idiocy down into compartmentalized, little bits of dumb.

Considering those symptoms along with William Shakespeare's eternal fascination with venereal disease, one doctor thinks he knows why the world's greatest writer slowed down in his later years: He was suffering from mercury poisoning due to treatment for syphilis.

1) His eternal fascination with venereal disease is expressed in Shakespeare's work because people back then, like today, got off on laughing at crabs, syphilis and gonorrhea. And Shakespeare knew how to work an audience. Better than Seinfeld. Much better.

2) Saying that mercury poisoning slowed Shakespeare down in his later years is like saying that tantric sex makes Sting write bad music; while the events may coincide, causality is not necessarily present. Not to knock Gordon, but his Police work was better than his solo stuff.

Dr. John J. Ross thinks the side effects of the treatment probably made it difficult for him to physically write.

And "if he had a venereal disease, some of the attitudes toward women become understandable," said Ross, an infectious diseases specialist at Tufts University who writes about his theory in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

1) John Milton's blindness made it pretty damn hard for him to write, but it didn't stop him from churning out the greatest epic ever written in the English language. Considering a little mercury for his syphilis probably affected him less than whatever the 16th century equivalent of absinthe did, it probably did him more help than hurt.

2) If Shakespeare's views on women changed because one of them gave him the crotch rot, I think we would have seen a significant change in his writing in terms of women. Suffice to say that condescending (to put it lightly) views on women were not exactly out of the mainstream for the time. Shakespeare wasn't the worst on women in the time, syphilis or no.

From then on the article goes on to detail pithy points in Shakespeare's writing that apparently conveys his newfound V.D.

One last thing though . . . in my opinion, if Shakespeare got syphilis, it wasn't from a woman.


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