Shakespeare the Stoner

June 26, 2011

Standing on the corner
Suitcase in my hand
Jack is in his corset and jane is in her vest
And me I’m in a rock and roll band
Riding in a stutz bearcat jim
Those were different times
And the poets studied rules of verse
And all the ladies rolled there eyes
Sweet jane
Sweet jane
Sweet jane
— Mott The Hoople, ‘Sweet Jane‘ (Words and music by Lou Reed)

Creativity is just one delicious side effect of doing a bowl.
Somehow smoke opens new imaginative horizons where the creative factor weighs heavy in the air, alighting like a room full of bong smoke — oh the flow without interruption.
Marijuana lets loose those dogs of words: Last speculative point: marijuana also enhances brain activity (at least as measured indirectly by cerebral blood flow) in the right hemisphere. The drug, in other words, doesn’t just suppress our focus or obliterate our ability to pay attention. Instead, it seems to change the very nature of what we pay attention to, flattening out our hierarchy of associations.

(Illustration found here).

It’s in that high state where the flattening out come in real handy and the creative juices kick in.
Ironic, or maybe it’s just a jagged little pill for innovative thought, but Alanis Morissette agrees:

“As an artist, there’s a sweet jump-starting quality to [marijuana] for me.
I’ve often felt telepathic and receptive to inexplicable messages my whole life.
I can stave those off when I’m not high.
When I’m high — well, they come in and there’s less of a veil, so to speak.
So if ever I need some clarity … or a quantum leap in terms of writing something, it’s a quick way for me to get to it.”

Cop a buzz and you’re head over feet.

And now it appears one of the best-known and most-creative peoples in all of history, Bill Shakespeare, might have been a stoner, and a clue is Sonnet 76:

Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?
O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

Shakespeare might have been more inventive than first realized, and research peoples want to find out for good.
In 2001, scientists at the The South African Police Services Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria analyzed the stems and bowls of 24 clay pipes — including a number found in the garden of Shakespeare’s home in England — and found traces of tobacco, suggestive evidence of cannabis, and mysteriously, two of the pipes showed signs of what looks like cocaine.
National Geographic explained: The analysis was made after a South African scientist had a hunch that reference to the “noted weed” in one of Shakespeares sonnets may have been the bard’s way of extolling the effects of cannabis. “There were very low concentrations of cannabis, but the signature was there,” said Inspector Tommy van der Merwe, of the Forensic Science Laboratory.

And with the Bard: Of the pipes that were found in the garden of Shakespeare’s home at New Place, several tested positive for cannabis. “We can’t prove that Shakespeare smoked these pipes, but we do now at least know what his contemporaries were smoking,” Thackeray says.

Now they want to dig up Bill’s bones.
From Fox News (h/t Raw Story):

Paleontologists are looking to examine the remains of William Shakespeare, hoping to unlock the mysteries of the life and death of the world’s most famous playwright — and to prove that the poet once puffed.
The bard is buried under a local church in Stratford-upon-Avon. And a team of scientists, led by Francis Thackeray — an anthropologist and director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa — have submitted a formal application to the Church of England for permission to probe the site where he sleeps, perchance where he dreams.

“We have incredible techniques,” Thackeray told FoxNews.com, referring to the “nondestructive analysis” the team has planned. “We don’t intend to move the remains at all.” Instead the team will perform the forensic analysis using state-of-the-art technology to scan the bones and create a groundbreaking reconstruction.

Thackeray claimed the devices were used to smoke cannabis, a plant actively cultivated in Britain at the time. The allegation has provoked disbelief and anger among some fans of the bard.
Prof. Stanley Wells, honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, told the Daily Mail, “I would be happy if they did open it up because it could put an end to a lot of fruitless speculation.”
“If we find grooves between the canine and the incisor, that will tell us if he was chewing on a pipe as well as smoking,” Thackeray told FoxNews.com, citing similar evidence found in Virginia.

However, there’s the curse Bill put on his grave:

Others may have issues with digging up the body, which goes directly against the late playwright’s dying wishes.
Shakespeare, famously fearful of the happenings of his own remains after his death, had a curse engraved on his tomb: “Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,/ To digg the dust encloased heare;/ Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,/ And curst be he that moves my bones.”
Philip Schwyzer, a senior lecturer at Exeter University, told Reuters that “Shakespeare had an unusual obsession with burial and a fear of exhumation.
The stern inscription on the slab has been at least partially responsible for the fact that there have been no successful projects to open the grave.”

Dude, it’s just bones — chill a second, then re-fill the pipe.

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