But today, the transgression is Googling in the theater. Googling, long ago, could have been a slang term for masturbating. (Are you googling again?!) But those days are past. Googling is research, and research in the theater is a subversive activity.
From Professor Meltsner's essay about the play "Arguendo," discussed in the previous post:
[The play] is replete with jargon and enough insider's free expression law that even many lawyers in the audience were grabbing smart phones to do some instant Googling.Do they Google during the performance or wait until intermission? It happens that I was using my iPhone during intermissions at a play last night. We saw "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" at the American Players Theatre, and since we hadn't taken the opportunity the theatre offers this summer to freshen up our knowledge of "Hamlet," there were passages of "Hamlet" I wanted to read to go along with "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," which is a play that has 2 minor characters from "Hamlet" dealing with their situation in that larger story that they witness only in fragments.
While others went off to pee or to sip a glass of wine, I stayed put and read. (To be honest, I wasn't doing research on the internet. Reception was bad where we were in the woods, and I have a Shakespeare app on my iPhone.)
More from Meltsner's essay:
What did I expect from a play based not so much on the story of an important law case but on the particularized verbal event that is a Court argument in such a case? Plainly the Company wasn't interested in turning out teaching materials for those like me who train advocates but, then, Collins was advised by all-star legal journalist Emily Bazelon and law professor and Broadway producer Nicholas Rosenkranz...There's a name: Rosenkranz. Pure coincidence that I should trip over that this morning. No meaning.
I'm Googling and searching in the text of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," looking for "meaning." Literally. I'm searching on the word "meaning" to get some snappy way to bring this post in for a landing.
Aha! Guildenstern is talking about "the meaning of order" and how if we "happened to discover, or even suspect, that our spontaneity was part of their order, we'd know we be lost." He refers to the Chinese philosopher who "dreamed he was a butterfly, and from that moment he was never quite sure that he was not a butterfly dreaming it was a Chinese philosopher." There's a pause and then Rosencrantz jumps up and shouts "Fire!"
Well, that's convenient for bringing this post in for a landing — a joke about a Supreme Court text about shouting fire in a crowded theater. Here, let me Google that for you.
Guildenstern says "Where?" and Rosencrantz says: "It's all right — I'm demonstrating the misuse of free speech. To prove it exists." He looks at us, the audience, and obviously we are sitting there, unreacting, the suspension of disbelief having secured our disbelief in the possibility of a fire. Rosencrantz says: "Not a move. They should burn to death in their shoes."