Gary Freedman: Exactly!
I was terminated in October 1991 from my job as a parelegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where I had worked since 1988, after I lodged a harassment complaint against my direct supervisor and others. The firm alleged it had learned via a consult with a psychiatrist that my harassment complaint was really the product of a psychiatric disorder ("ideas of reference") which caused me to attach a negative meaning to trivial events. I had complained to the employer, for example, that a coworker's use of the word "July" was really a homophone for the phrase "Jew Lie," a veiled anti-Semitic allusion playing on the stereotype that Jews are liars.
Yes, I attach a negative meaning to trivial events, but then, so did Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare wrote a play -- a play about nothing -- that raised nothing to a frenzy of multiple meanings and a riot of sexual double entendre.
An important motif of Shakespeare's play Much ado about Nothing is the play on the words nothing and noting, which in Shakespeare’s day were homophones. Taken literally, the title implies that a great fuss ("much ado") is made of something which is insignificant ("nothing"), such as the unfounded claims of Hero’s infidelity. The title could also be understood as Much Ado About Noting. Much of the action is in interest in and critique of others, written messages, spying and eavesdropping. This is mentioned several times, particularly concerning "seeming", "fashion" and outward impressions. Nothing is a double entendre, "an O-thing" (or "'n othing" or "no thing") was Elizabethan slang for "vagina", evidently derived from the pun of a woman having "nothing" between her legs. 'Noting' can refer to singing, especially sight-reading.
Examples of noting as noticing occur in the following instances: (1.1.131–132)
and (4.1.154–157).Claudio: Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signor Leonato?
Benedick: I noted her not, but I looked on her.
At (3.3.102–104), Borachio indicates that a man’s clothing doesn’t indicate his character:Friar: Hear me a little,
For I have only been silent so long
And given way unto this course of fortune
By noting of the lady.
A triple play on words in which noting signifies noticing, musical notes and nothing occurs at (2.3.47–52):Borachio: Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak is nothing to a man.
Don Pedro’s last line can be understood to mean, "Pay attention to your music and nothing else!" The complex layers of meaning include a pun on "crotchets," which can mean both "quarter notes" (in music) and whimsical notions.Don Pedro: Nay pray thee, come;
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.
Balthasar: Note this before my notes:
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.
Don Pedro: Why, these are very crotchets that he speaks –
Note notes, forsooth, and nothing!
The following are puns on notes as messages: (2.1.174–176),
in which Benedick plays on the word post as a pole and as mail delivery in a joke reminiscent of Shakespeare’s earlier advice "Don’t shoot the messenger"; and (2.3.138–142)Claudio: I pray you leave me.
Benedick: Ho, now you strike like the blind man – ‘twas the boy that stole your meat, and you’ll beat the post.
in which Leonato makes a sexual innuendo concerning sheet as a sheet of paper (on which Beatrice’s love note to Benedick is to have been written) and a bedsheet.Claudio: Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
Leonato: O, when she had writ it and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet?