Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Save my brain - learn Hamlet

As part of the great Save My Brain Campaign I decided to do some rote learning. But what to learn?

Taking the laziest option, I chose Hamlet's first soliloquy: O that this too, too solid flesh would melt...Laziest? Because that's what my grandmother used to recite to maintain her formidable brainpower.

So I did. It took me a verrrrry long time, a week. (Young actors can get a whole script down in that time.) And now I need to keep repeating it, to nail it into my long-term memory. If I have such a thing, at my age.

The process is pretty interesting. You have to get it absolutely right, complete with all the syllable-fillers such as "Fie on't! Ah, fie!" and "God! Oh God!" and "Heaven and earth!" And it's those bits where I hesitate sometimes, Alas! woe is me!

Interestingly, the speech seems to get shorter and shorter. As I get more confident (sometimes racing through like R2D2), I'm inclined to stop and think (always fatal). I think, "Surely I can't have reached that bit already? I must have missed a line."

Morning and night I say this mournful, desperate speech in my mind. I imagine my mind has already begun working more lightly and quickly. That's absurd, surely. And incongruous, because the speech itself is the ultimate in neurotic despair.

That's why I'm moving away from Hamlet. A friend suggested the psalms. Great idea. But of course, I'll be picky. None of those doom and gloom and apolocalyptic psalms for me.

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