Shakespeare and Modern Culture
By MARJORIE GARBER
THE "text of modern life" these days is embedded in a network of text messaging, Internet connections, video clips, and file sharing. Shakespeare in our culture is already disseminated, scattered, appropriated, part of the cultural language, high and low. An advertisement for rugged outdoors types advertised a sale: "Now Is the Winter of Our Discount Tents." This turned out also to be the name of a rock compilation by the label Twisted Nerve. At the same time, in London, the White Cube Gallery presented an exhibition of work by British artist Neal Tait, titled "Now Is the Discount of Our Winter Tents." Manifestly, none of these tweaked or inverted phrases would offer much in the way of wit or appeal if the cultural consumer did not recognize, or half recognize, the phrase on which each is based: the opening soliloquy of Richard III, in which the envious and aspiring Gloucester observes, in a classic of double- meaning enjambment, that "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York" (1.1.1-2). So we might say that Shakespeare is already not only modern but postmodern: a simulacrum, a replicant, a montage, a bricolage. A collection of found objects, repurposed as art.