On Reading / The English Teacher / The Social Network

“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look…”

Julius Caesar (as Shakespeare rendered him) wanted men about him who were ‘fat’ and ‘sleek-headed’ — those who slept at night. Cassius worries Caesar because “he thinks too much: Such men are dangerous.” Hmmmm…

but that’s not all:

Cassius “reads much;

He is a great observer and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock’d himself and scorn’d his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart’s ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.” (Julius Caesar 1:2)

Let’s see. Cassius, who distrusts Caesar’s ambition — (ironic given his own!) is ‘dangerous’ because he ‘thinks too much.’ Dangerous because he beholds something ‘greater than’ himself. Dangerous, because entertainment doesn’t occupy the center of his daily life. Dangerous, because he is rather single-minded. Dangerous, because he is discerning. Dangerous, because he READS. (oh, I love that one)

Of course I am skewing the character assessment to make a point. But the point needs be made. What am I reading? What am I thinking about? How many of my daily concerns are merely about my own existence and my own entertainment? How often do I acknowledge that ‘something greater’ than my own self exists? How ‘dangerous’ am I? I ask myself, and therefore conclude a bit of ‘dangerous’ ought to be my goal. To obtain it, I can:

Read. Be sharp. Think about significant matters of eternal import. Ask big questions and seek answers. (A request for wisdom might be a good place to start.) Be like iron — and sharpen those who enter my sphere of influence. Consider myself less, and others more. Remember that ‘fat and happy’ entertainment seekers succumb easily to tyrants.

We can learn a lot from Cassius, the fellow with a ‘lean and hungry look.’



One thought on ““Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look…”

  1. IMHO–the greatest passage of any Shakespeare play–it is so damn true!! The powers that be have NEVER liked someone who doesn’t eagerly gobble up propoganda and mindless “entertainment” at face value–it UNNERVES them and such men must be supressed AT ALL COSTS!!

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