Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bard and the Bong

I recall as a young high school student being introduced to the wonders of the great William Shakespeare. Stone me if you wish, but I really wasn't much taken with the guy. His stuff was hard to understand in both the sense of it being written in old English and in the sense of having to sift through it for supposed metaphors and the like. I distinctly remember wondering at one point, Was this guy high to think I could hammer out a 5-page research paper on his play by Friday?!?  As a matter of fact, recent research by a group of South African scientists seems to indicate that I may have been on to something.

These scientists appear to have been exceptionally bored sitting about the lab all day and undertook to test a collection of 17-th century pipes to see what was smoked in them. It turns out that a number of pipes that were dug up from the gardens around Shakespeare's home DID contain traces of cannabis. (Get on with ya bad self Billy!)  The researchers stated that while there is no indication that Shakespeare actually smoked any of the pipes, by today's standards it would,probably, have gotten him popped for possession of drug paraphenalia.

Reactions throughout the scientific and literary communities were mixed and ranged from, "So what?" to "Well that explains A Midsummer Night's Dream."  It does conjur up interesting mental images of Billy and the troupe brainstorming their next production amidst a fog of reefer smoke.  It also begs the question of both what exactly was the Shakespearean equivelant of munchies and who got stuck having to go out and procur them after a long day of creating and doobage. Alas, we may never know.

Other, also apparently bored, science geeks are suggesting that the remains of the Immortal Bard be exhumed for forensic testing to confirm the presence of illicit substances.  Such suggestions have also met with mixed opinions.  These opinions range from, "Don't you guys have some REAL work to do?!?" to "You DO realize the guy put a curse on his grave, right?!?"

As I mentioned earlier, old English was never exactly my forte but I think the curse on the grave best translates as, "I'm dead. Go away!"  I would say this is reasonably sound advice. So, while rumors swirl and speculations remain, the best course of action I can see is to honor the last request of the Stoner-on-Avon and just move on to something else you Science Geeks.

1 comment:

  1. Bryon was high and all his chronies, which influenced much of their writing, so it wouldn't be surprising to find Shakespeare was a user. In Victorian times it was common place to use Laudanum, as a type of snuff to help induce sleep - this is an opiate now used when making Heroin! A playwrite I studied at college called Antonin Artaud was put into a mental hospital due to being addicted and subjected to horrific electric shock treatments - he died of anal cancer - due to where the electrodes were placed!! So those that were 'off their face' were also locked up as we moved into the 20th century.

    So weed in the 1500/1600's would not be a leap of faith, or very original. it was actually only made illegal in the last 100 years or so, and used by various religious groups as a platform to get elected if they banned it.

    But wasting time testing for this exactly that - a waste of time.

    I like Shakespeare, but I would rather watch a play than read one.