Archive for iphone

What Error Drives Our Eyes and Ears Amiss?

Posted in The Comedy of Errors with tags , , , , , , , on 2014/02/05 by mattermind

The Comedy of Errors, Act II

Technology fools us into believing that time and space no longer matter, that we have somehow overcome such barriers to know each other better than we ever have before.  Every weekend during football season, I was subjected to a nonstop battery of “tech porn” advertisements seducing me into accepting that life would be more enjoyable if only I would purchase a nonstop array of glittering, new electronic devices.  The implicit promise underlying said technology is that one day our lives will finally achieve perfect bliss when we upload our souls into the cloud. Um, no thanks, Mr. Man in Gray.


Illustration from Michael Ende’s “Momo”

These ads remind me of how home appliances were once touted as “time-saving” devices that would allow us to enrich our lives with more intimate, “quality” interactions with the ones we love.  We all know how that turned out.  It seems like, more and more, we have to unplug ourselves from the grid and toss away those clever gadgets in order to recover our collective sanity.

No matter how many iPods, iPhones or iPads you might own (personally, I’m an Android guy), you have probably discovered that there’s no real way to avoid the epistemological problem hardwired into the human experience.  (If you don’t know what epistemology is, you probably weren’t around to read Othello with this blog.  Go look it up.  I’ll wait.)

I mentioned then my surprise discovering Shakespeare’s implicit awareness of this philosophical conundrum in Colin McGinn’s fabulous book titled “Shakespeare’s Philosophy.”  I’ll badly summarize it here by saying that epistemology is the philosophical enquiry into how humans know what we know – and indeed, whether we can know anything with any certainty whatsoever.

Back when I was in college at UCLA working on a German degree, I was required to read (or attempt to read – it’s extremely difficult) a groundbreaking work by the renowned scholar Jurgen Habermas called “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere,” a discourse on how our ideas defining (and separating) exterior, public space from private, interior space evolved.  You’ve probably never thought of public space as a learned concept, but I think about it all the time now whenever I see somebody chatting on their cell phone on a bus or in the grocery checkout line or during a concert or while conducting a transaction with a bank teller.


What McGinn has done for me is to awaken a sensibility regarding personal and private space within Shakespeare, to understand that not only his tragedies but his comedies are informed by epistemological concerns.  In short, that there always seems to be a discrepancy in shared information, leading to confusion or worse.  In the tragedies, truth can be manipulated to ruthless ends.  In the comedies, ironic levels of misunderstanding evoke laughter.  But in both cases, ignorance of what’s actually happening lies embedded at the core.

I would love to carve out a span of time to go back and re-read Habermas with an eye on Shakespeare.  The issues at stake in the Comedy of Errors hardly require such heavy lifting, but over the long haul this year I am fascinated by whether Shakespeare was unique in his preoccupation with epistemology or whether it was inherent in the age.  Perhaps society as a whole was only coming to grips with the implications of interior and exterior forms of knowledge, grappling with how discrepancies might be exploited or manipulated.  Machiavelli was a Renaissance thinker who advocated such awareness and usage by a ruler who wished to stay in power.  But deception itself is as old as human self-awareness.

In my next post, I will harken back to Act II in order to write about Shakespeare’s women.


An App by Any Other Name

Posted in Apps with tags , , on 2014/01/15 by mattermind

UPDATE: I will try and post my own reviews of Shakespeare apps. As of 17 January 2014, the majority of good ones indeed appear to be exclusive to Apple (curses!). Many, including the one noted below, download free but charge individually per play for in-app purchases. The best I have found so far is Shakespeare Pro, which, for a one-time, minimal fee, includes the full texts plus extensive background and a complete glossary. More later.

I don’t experience iPhone envy much since upgrading to a Samsung Galaxy, but after reading a review of an incredible Shakespeare app available (for now) exclusively through iTunes, I’m suffering from a bit of Iago’s poison.

If you DO have an iPhone, congrats. Now go read all the details over at my new friend’s amazing Shakespeare BLOG.

I’m so amazed and impressed by the people drawn to Shakespeare. As the year unfolds, I’d love to post guest essays, reviews, comments, questions, opinions and more. If you’d like to contribute and/or link to your own work, please let me know!

I hope we’ll continually evolve this thing. It feels like a movement is rising to reclaim the Bard and his work from the legions of academics and cultural snobs who assume that he belongs solely to them.

Later I’ll be blogging on Shakespeare’s background and identity gleaned from recent biographies.

I used to subscribe to the idea that Shakespeare couldn’t possibly be Shakespeare. But now I’m leaning hard the other way. More on that as the year progresses.

I am SO thrilled to keep meeting new Shakespeare lovers. You bring enormous enthusiasm and make this blog even more rewarding than it already is.


Posted in Bardware with tags , on 2010/02/22 by mattermind

There’s an iphone app for everything these days… so why not Shakespeare?

Personally, if I were into the whole Apple thing, I’d go for the IMock Thee app for $1.99 which provides new and innovative ways to curse and yet sound cultural.

More info on the jump.


No Fear Shakespeare is $4.99 and you can get modern translations of Shakespeare in this app. The language of Shakespeare is put side by side with modern-English translations. Included is the first scene of eighteen of Shakespeare’s best known plays, full text of all 154 sonnets, easy to understand plots summaries, historical facts, and character descriptions. There is a search tool so you can find words quickly and even a choice Shakespearean insult from each play. The $4.99 pays for one play or buy all eighteen for a special price or purchase as you play.