She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word,
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
In the Copyright and Rhetoric class we've entered a unit where we have been using Shakespearean texts to connect to our inner emotions, to find and tap into a truth inside us so that we can learn how to communicate it.
There are several benefits to this exercise vis a vis our legal education. One, that we will be able to argue more effectively when we can hitch our own internal energies to our cause. This can only be done when there is a certain sincerity, a certain truth to our advocacy. It's not about agreeing with the specifics of the argument per se but that there is a belief in the cause. Being able to speak to it from an authentic place not only will help us craft the arguments better, but it will help them be received better. Our audience, the people we need to pursuade, will be most open to our position if we can communicate the depth of our own belief in it.
The other reason my professor wanted to do this is because law school is so much about the opposite process: detatching ourselves from what we are doing, the arguments we try to put forth. Stripping down, she called it. There is a strong impetus to be dry and clinical. It's not that to be lawyers we should be emotionally mushy, demonstrative people, but that the underlying benefit of the efficient professionalism is washed out by the suppression of ourselves. We will be much more effective communicators and advocates when all of ourselves can be in attendance in the practice.
To practice all this we each had to memorize a verse from Shakespeare. We then have been reading it before the rest of the class. An instructor from Shakespeare and company (actually two of them - one who already has helped teach and another who once was his disciple) queries us and prods us to tap into our core, to get in touch with a true emotion and be able to communicate it truthfully through the words of the text.
It ends up being a powerful experience, because it works.
I chose the above text from Macbeth. I chose it partly because in the 6th grade the class performed it, and through all the rehearsals and repetition the rhythm of many of the lines has stuck with me over the years. So I chose it partly because of its familiarity, its resonance. I contemplated using other verses from it but settled on this one because I wanted to explore the futility Macbeth lamented about life and the passage of time.
Before I performed it the instructor asked me all sorts of questions about how I felt about things. It was an open, safe forum, so I talked about all my fears and frustrations with the law school experience. He asked me what was the emotion I felt. I couldn't narrow it down to one single one. Instead I described it as a single thread, made up with two separate pieces intertwined: indignant fury, about the dysfunction of the institution and how pure merit seems to not be sought after or valued, and fear, fear that all the energy I sink into it may be for naught, and all the potential I have may simply end up spent and squandered, without the world becoming any better of a place for it. It would be such a waste, I said. And I hate waste, more than anything. Its tragedy is sometimes too much to bear.