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Is this a selfie which I see before me

By Alice Northover


A further celebration of Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year ‘selfie’ with a variation of MacBeth’s famous ‘dagger’ monologue. I’ve bolded the new words to make it easier to scan for the changes.

macbethsmartphoneIs this a selfie which I see before me,
The angle toward my hand? Come, let me tweet thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To tweeting as to sight? or art thou but
A selfie of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the Instagrammed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I tumble.
Thou Facebook’d me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,
And on thy filter and tilt shift a duckface,
Which was not so before. There’s no such thing:
It is the social media which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one halfworld
Battery seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The mode’d sleep; smartphone celebrates
Pale Snapchat’s offerings, and wither’d Cam’ra,
Alarum’d by his sentinel, shutter,
Whose click’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin’s ravishing arms, towards his design
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set phone,
Feel not fingers, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very touch prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I adjust, he lives:
Images to the heat of deeds too cold screen gives.

Alice Northover is editor of the OUPblog and Social Media Manager at Oxford University Press.

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is ‘selfie’. The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a word, or expression, that has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date and judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance. Learn more about Word of the Year in our FAQ, on the OUPblog, and on the OxfordWords blog.

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Image credit: Altered Ferdinand Fleck as MacBeth by Johann Christoph Kimpfel via Wikimedia Commons.

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One Response to “Is this a selfie which I see before me”
  1. [...] explores the history of the self portrait – from early daguerrotypes onwards and *Alice Northover has rewritten Shakespeare for the selfie [...]

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