Way back, I think it was 1969, there was a rumor circulatting about that Paul McCartney of the super fab group The Beatles was dead. As fervent fans of the Beatles, along with being young and stupid, my friends and I took this news seriously.
We decided to gather all the evidence provided by our close inspection of album covers (You have to realize that the Internet was not available), and extra-close, discriminate interpretation of all the Beatles songs and solve this thing once and for all. It was an arduous task to be sure.
We all gathered together (there were 5 of us) in a house available at the time, and settled down for a full evening---and late night/early morning, if necessary--- of intense concentration and deductive reasoning which would ultimately lead to a truthful conclusion on this most important matter. We then would share this hard-won item of interest to the world---for a price, of course. We fortified ourselves with bottles of booze of various strengths, and other eye-opening "stuff". We deemed these necessary---nay, essential--- accouterments for our sojourn through Beatlemania in our quest for truth.
It WAS an noble endeavour indeed.
We started with ABBEY ROAD. The infamous cover shot of Paul in bare feet and out of step with the other Beatles. We played the entire album many times, all the time imbibing whatever was near and taking scratchy notes. We brained-stormed afterwards, coming out with actually surprising insights into the "true" meaning of certain lyrics and sounds. It was all very clever. There were times when we were quite sure we had it! but it would later fall apart for overlooked, obvious facts. The more we drank and other things, the deeper we dug into this now widening chasm of innuendos and sly hidden clues. It became exhilarating yet very tiring.
By 2AM half of us were asleep, the other half diligently soldiering on. We had actually gotten nowhere. The most enthused of us(a hyper-active person) came to the dubious conclusion that Paul's father didn't exist! That one took a while to process. It occurred to us after some time that if Paul's father didn't exist, than Paul didn't exist. WOW! That one would take us on an even deeper, scarier path. But I had had it and threw in the towel, as they say, and eased my way home. I had had enough of this nonsense.
We were to meet again in round 2 in five days, but it so happened that Paul addressed this vicious rumor publicly saying in effect that he's fine, living and breathing in Scotland right now. I received a call from our hyper-active friend who laughed at the announcement saying that it was not Paul who gave it, and that everything about this public announcement was false. He went into all the things he saw and slyly perceived telling him that Paul is really dead despite the article. I began to wonder just how close this is to madness.
The Paul's Dead thing was all a hoax. We know that now.
I told this story(all true) to underline the fact that conspiracy theories are usually baseless, and in a sense, inane. They take on a life of their own, and become bigger than the actual subject itself. Our brain has the aptitude and ability to read between the lines and see hidden connections. It's one of our innate and wonderful abilities. But when the subject is bogus, these so-called connections are all wrong, misleading, and at times silly, other times dangerous.
There's a whole slew of Conspiracy Theories on the Net, and people, especially young people, are wasting not only their time but their youth chasing these ridiculous scenarios. Sometimes things are what they are.
The Shakespeare Conspiracy claims that Shakespeare did not write all those plays. The people who follow this will say that since Shakespeare was just an actor and director and farmer with a public school education, it was impossible for him to write all those exquisite poems, plays, and to have such insight into human nature. They insist that they were written by a nobleman who went to Oxford and was present in Queen Elizabeth 1 court.
James Shapiro( my favourite Shakespeare scholar) in his book CONTESTED WILL takes this on, and does so in grand fashion, I would say. I can't see how anyone who believes this nonsense would feel the same after reading this book. But people believe what they want to believe and discard the rest, I suppose. I don't really want to go into all the details of this conspiracy for risk of boring everyone, but it can be said that there is enough overwhelming evidence to support Shakespeare as the true author of these wonderful plays. It should end there.
As a teacher for most of my life, I can comment on the education aspect of this conspiracy. It's a known fact that it is never the really bright student who sits up front and answers all the questions that goes on the greatness. It's the gangly boy(or girl) down the back of the room, looking out the window, slightly bored, and a mind that's far away in the courts of Henry V.
Shakespeare DID write the plays, the rest is nonsense.
Next: Summer mystery 1. This is a good one. I'm just trying to connect a book to it in order to stay within the perimeters of this blog. I promise this entry will be very soon. Really, I promise.