So, I don’t have the jetpack or the flying car that as a child in the ’70s I imagined I would have in the far-flung future of the Twenty First Century. Nor am I a colonist living on Mars, or even Moonbase Alpha, and 1999 has come and gone.
Nevertheless, living in the future is cool. I’m hardly the first person to make this observation, and I’m sure everyone who has witnessed dramatic changes in their lifetime have made similar observations. Imagine a woman who grew up in the 1870s seeing automobiles become commonplace by the time she reached middle age.
You could go back even earlier; imagine the soldier thousands of years ago marveling at the iron weapons that had replaced bronze. I’m sure the caveman who grew up freezing his butt off in a cave as a kid thought having a fire to warm his bones in his old age was pretty damn amazing.
The other day I was writing a post for this other Jeff Chappell Website, drawing a parallel between a small but ultimately tragic flaw I inadvertently introduced into some PHP code and the tragic flaws of Shakespearean characters. Why? Because I can; it’s just sorta my thing – Shakespeare, parody, etc.
Anyhow, I found myself trying to recall a quote from Hamlet. In the not-so-distant past I would have had to go to the library and peruse a copy of the Bard’s tragedy; I used to have my own copy but it got lost in a post-collegiate move from one geographic location to another with a box of other books. I probably would have ended up rereading most if not all of the entirety of Hamlet to find said quote – all told it would probably have taken several hours of an afternoon or evening to find said quote. If I were lucky I might have found it in a book of quotations of course, saving myself an hour or two.
But, fortunately for me, I live in the freakin’ future. Three minutes spent Googling and I had the Hamlet quote in question, which you can read if you follow the link above. Then I perused the Wikipedia entry for Hamlet, looking for related artwork, and learned out all about the history of the play’s production over the centuries, learning things that I hadn’t learned in various high school and college English classes. In fact I think if you printed it out line for line, the Wikipedia entry on Hamlet is probably longer than the play itself.
I wonder what the Bard would think of having all this information at his fingertips? Probably that living in the future was pretty damn cool.
On the other hand this begs the question of what Shakespeare would be today, if all other factors in his life were – relatively, heh – equal. Would he still be a playwright? Would he self-produce his plays, record them and put them upon Youtube? Would the mediums and technology available today fundamentally change the plays and sonnets he produced?
One wonders …