Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cliffs Notes

I decided the other day that it was time to read Macbeth again. So I went to the bookstore to browse the various printings. It took me all of 10 seconds to remember that I am hopelessly unable to decode 17th century English. When I asked one of the employees if they had any sort of annotated version, the following conversation ensued: Her: Is this for a class, or just for you? Me: Just for me. Her: So what exactly are you looking for? Me: Well, I need something that tells me what the heck "kerns and gallowglasses" are, for instance. And maybe some historical context, because I don't want to read a seperate history book. Her: Oh, you need the CliffsComplete Macbeth. Me: Cliffs Notes?!?! But that's cheating! I can't use Cliffs Notes! Her: Well, you said it is just for you... how is it cheating? Me: [Look of stunned disbelief. Why the hell hadn't I thought of that?] So I bought the Cliffs Notes version. And I'm glad I did. Cliffs Notes are awesome! Why do I always try to do things the hard way? Don't get me wrong, I understand the value of hard work... but I also understand the negative value of wasted/unfocused effort. The Cliffs Notes version of Macbeth keeps me focused on the important stuff like the plot, the characters, and the historical context. It doesn't let me get bogged down trying to figure out that kerns and gallowglasses are lightly armed soldiers from Ireland.