Hah! Suck it, Mrs. Little. And all other English teachers who droned on about how profound Shakespeare was. You know how you can tell that Shakespeare was high as a kite? A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Don’t tell me that play isn’t at least as fucked up as the Smurfs. Mustardseed. Hurrumph. It’s today’s equivalent of naming a fairy “Allspice”.
Fine, won’t take my word for it? Take the word of for real actual scientists.
South African researchers examined fragments of 24 “tobacco” pipes that date from the early 17th century. A number the pipes are thought to have come from the grounds of Shakespeare’s house, and the rest from the general Stratford-upon-Avon area. Guess what they found. Oh yeah. Trace amounts of cannabis. Heh.
The lead investigator, Professor Thackeray, must have had a similarly influential argument in high school about the fact that Shakespeare’s plays were nuts, given that he’s been pursuing this story for years, arguing back in 1999 that
“In Sonnet 76 Shakespeare writes about ‘invention in a noted weed’. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use ‘weed’ (Cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (‘invention’).”
And, yet, it wasn’t until Thackeray used the South African Police narcotics laboratory to undertake a non-destructive chemical analysis that the prof was taken seriously. Subjecting the pipes to gas chromatography mass spectrometry, Thackeray and his colleagues, Professor Nicholas van der Merwe of the University of Cape Town and Inspector Tommy van der Merwe, the trio has proven by the preponderance of the evidence that Shakespeare wasn’t a profoundly boring commentator on the human condition. Instead, like every single writer we now describe as a “classic”, he was the Stephen King of his generation – in the sense that the people loved him. Pro-tip for English teachers: start with rockstar playwright who smoked up before putting pen to parchment and then allow students to draw their own conclusions.
Featured image courtesy of Zumaworld