Why Shakespeare is for All Time

“[T]he promise of a pill for every ill remains, as it always will, unfulfilled. Anyone who had read his Shakespeare would not have been surprised by this disappointment. When Macbeth asks a physician:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

“The physician replies laconically: ‘Therein the patient / Must minister to himself.’

“Every day, several patients ask me Macbeth’s question with regard to themselves-in less elevated language, to be sure-and they expect a positive answer: but four centuries before neurochemistry was even thought of, and before any of the touted advances in neurosciences that allegedly gave us a new and better understanding of ourselves, Shakespeare knew something that we are increasingly loath to acknowledge. There is no technical fix for the problems of humanity.” Theodore DalrympleWhy Shakespeare is for All TimeCity Journal)