Sunday, March 16, 2008

wherein I avoid writing my conference paper

A Mathematical Formula, by which the Awesomeness of a piece of Renaissance Literature may be Calculated:

1) Count up the total number of times the following elements appear: cross-dressing, pirates, unusual ways to poison people, bed-tricks, invisibility, sexually ambiguous kings, space travel, unexpected appearances from Roman gods, ghosts, zombies, cannibalism, Robin Hood.

2) Multiply the resulting number by 1 + the number of severed body parts appearing in the work. Severed heads count double if they talk.

3) Add five points if there is a hippogryph. Hippogryphs are inherently awesome. Other fantastic beasts may be worth a point or two, but not if they are named Error.

4) Add two points for every character who sings a totally inappropriate song; e.g., if four men going to the gallows decide to treat the audience to a rousing rendition of "Three Merry Men Be We," you would then add eight points.

Hamlet, for example, has pirates, two appearances of a ghost, and three really weird ways to poison people; it would score 6 + 2 x (however many of Ophelia's songs you deem totally inappropriate). Orlando Furioso would score off the charts, as it rightly should.

Maybe I should just go to this conference, say "Cross-dressing! Pirates! Double bed-trick!" and then sit down.


Sisyphus said...

Awesome!!! I always liked the Jacobean tragedies best.

Poisoned by lipstick on a skull! Or a fencing mask! Don't forget invisible lycanthropy!

But my favorite favorite play has an alchemy cabinet with chemical tests for virgins and wenches with child.

Ooh, and madmen ... don't the madmen get extra points? ... maybe madmen in madhouses? ...

Anonymous said...

Hee! I love this method, especially because it vaults Cymbeline way the hell ahead of Hamlet in the Shakespeare canon.

And, for what it's worth, that's a paper I'd appreciate. Go for it!

St. Eph said...

If you lead off your paper with this, you will automatically be awarded +18 points, making your the most clearly awesome paper on the panel.

Sis, aren't the madmen usually the prime offenders in the Inappropriate Songs category?

I would also add in scenes in which bodies get piled upon other bodies, or in which dead bodies are hauled around as travelling companions. Though this might be a corollary to the Severed Heads (what about fingers? hearts? skulls?).

Fretful Porpentine said...

Sisyphus: I think the virginity-testing potion vaults that play into a special category of awesomeness all its own. That, and the name "De Flores" :)

Neophyte: I like what it does for Titus Andronicus too.

St. Eph: All worthy additions, thanks :)

Sisyphus said...

Ewww! Pies of Disgustingness should definitely get an extra line in the formula! (Neophyte may have an even grosser one at her place.)

I don't think the madmen sing in my favorite play (hey, it's been a while) but I do remember that one of them would shout "Cat whore, cat whore, my permasant!"

Who needs to actually know what this means to understand its awesomeness??? Not I!