Wednesday, March 18, 2009

England, Sartre, and Shakespeare (Huh?)

Last night, being in a wasting time frame of mind, I decided to take a bunch of stupid online quizzes (courtesy of Facebook this time). Here's what I find out about myself:

Where I should live: England.

Which Philosopher I am: Jean-Paul Sartre

Which writer I am: Shakespeare

Which Shakespeare quote I am: "The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together."

Just like reading a horoscope that captures some part of my life well, with each one, I found myself thinking, "cool," until I started thinking about each one a little more. Let's expound on these probably completely randomly generated answers that most likely have no bearing on who or what I am at all.

All right, it makes perfect sense for Shakespeare to live best in England, but a French philosopher? I think not. Those practical Brits would tire of someone who sat around philosophizing too long and hard when he could be, you know, making tea or planting a garden, making himself useful in some way. Although they do tend to have a sort of existential under layer, their attitudes toward the French would probably make me too uncomfortable. I found it hard enough to be an American living amongst certain sorts of Englishmen (funny, but they really were all men. My female English friends and acquaintances have always been wonderful, and have never trashed America in front of me. As a matter of fact, I had one school friend who used to stick up for me when our biology teacher -- male, of course -- would go on one of his rampages against America) where, as my sister has always pointed out, "They've only been hating us for a little over 200 years. Think how long they've been hating the French." Then there's that whole problem of Sartre's atheism. I've been through my period of atheism and can't see myself going back to that.

I'd better shed the Sartre cloak then and put on Shakespeare if I'm going to live in England. But let's take a look at my writing style. It's not exactly what anyone would describe as "poetic." I couldn't write a sonnet if my life depended on it. I do like to think that maybe I could match wits with old Will, but if I'm Shakespeare, Harold Bloom would probably come knocking at my door at some point, and I just don't think I could possibly suffer the man. At least when I'm reading him, I can throw him across the room if I want.

As a matter of fact, I'd really rather not live in England. I absolutely love the country, but there isn't enough snow there for my tastes (although there probably was in Shakespeare's day). Of course, if I'm going to live in a snowless place, I'd definitely choose England over just about anywhere else I've been or lived. But you know, if I could live in Manhattan or Maine, where I'd still get the snow, and visit England for a month or so every year, that's what I'd really choose to do.

The quote seems to be the quiz result that makes the most sense, especially since it's taken from All's Well that Ends Well. I would have been really worried if the quote had come from King Lear. It certainly seems very fitting for this particular period in my life. I've got this piece of black yarn right now taking center stage, but it will probably knit with some beautiful greens and blues in the not-too-distant future. The whole piece will be pleasing, and all will end well.

So, let's keep the quote, but could I be Sarah Orne Jewett or Dorothy Parker or Louise Dickinson Rich, in my Manhattan apartment or house in the Maine woods, instead of Shakespeare and Sartre?


Anne Camille said...

These quizzes are fun to do but they really are silly with the responses. Several of my FB friends who attend my church have take a 'what type of Anglican are you?' quiz. We all laughed (in 160 characters or less) at our responses because I don't think any of us thought they were accurate.

A few years ago I took one of those 'what city' quizzes, playing with the answers so that I could get the city result I wanted & then posted them as my away notice, giving my itenary -- London, Paris, Rome. It wasn't very difficult to fool the quiz to get the answers I needed.

Susan said...

Shakespeare and Sarte in England! I loved your reasons for why you couldn't be any of them, after doing the quiz! I could add literary, thoughtful, bittersweet, definitely a writer, philosophically quizzical....yes, the only part I can't see is you living in England because you rhapsodize about Maine so much!!! you like snow, and England doesn't. Very fun, Emily! I'll have to go on Facebook and see what I can find....

Anonymous said...

Well I think you made something far, far more interesting out of those quiz answers than I would ever have thought possible, Emily! And you can be who you want, sweetie. I've always thought those Jacobean ruffs would be awfully tickly to wear.

knitseashore said...

Once you start your own publishing company, I think you should buy a house in Maine, England, and Manhattan each. :)

Anonymous said...

Why, yes, dear Emily, you can be whoever you want to be, because it will always be interesting. But you will have to promise to tell us all about it, and if you don't, well, you might turn back into Sartre (at midnight, which is when people turn into pumpkins and mice and French philosophers and Harold Bloom) and I know you don't want that. xo, the Quiz Fairy

Emily Barton said...

Cam, yes, I'm sure they're easily rigged. One of the funniest things about the living in England one was that it asked what I like to wear, and of the four (or five. I can't remember how many there were) choices of things I'd probably never wear, I chose "baggy sweat suit." Then the answer told me that England was the place for me, because I "like to wear funky clothes." I don't know, are baggy sweat shirts somehow funky and not dumpy everywhere but Lancaster County? LOL

Susan, glad you stopped. My head is now about twice its size. And are you on Facebook? If so, email me and tell me how to find you.

Litlove, oh yes, I didn't think of those tickly Jacobean ruffs. Yet another reason to be Dorothy Parker and get to wear those cool 1920s New York styles.

QF, oh I will definitely tell you all about it (most especially before the stroke of midnight of the day it happens). Actually, wouldn't that be fun? A novel in which someone wakes up as his/her favorite dead author. Has that been done already?

Rebecca H. said...

Those quizzes are fun, but I can too easily tell which direction they are headed in, so if I want to be, say, Virginia Woolf, I can figure out without too much trouble what options I should choose. Still -- it's fun to think about how you are and are not like Shakespeare and how I am or am not like Tolstoy, which was my answer. I think I tend to be serious and thoughtful as I hear Tolstoy was, but I'm sure I could write such long books!

Anonymous said...

You know Shakespeare would totally find Harold Bloom tedious. In fact I think he modeled Falstaff after him. I would love to see you give him the Prince Hal/King Henry treatment :)

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, when I saw you were Tolstoy, I immediately thought, "Oh, no, no, no." You are much too tight a writer to be Tolstoy. Still, you're right. They're fun.

Stef, yes, Shakespeare would have had a great time weaving Bloom into some play as a tedious and pompous know-it-all, wouldn't he? (And I bet Bloom never would have suspected it was he.)