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Thread: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 8th September 2020 at 23:05.

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    As a contributor to this thread which has been bumped twice over – which is how this post dated 9th September came to be thanked on 28th July – I have been at a loss as to what to add. Here is a tidbit from Anthony Burgess’s 1984 novel Enderby’s Dark Lady which brought itself to my attention this week.
    This fictional account describes how in 1610 the forty-six year old Shakespeare (4+6=10 he notes) came to revise Psalm 46 in the King James Version of the Bible, which came out the following year. He changes just two words: the 46th from the beginning, ‘tremble’ becomes ‘shake’; the 46th from the end, ‘sword’ is changed to ‘speare’. I have just downloaded an Internet version, which makes this story ring true in every particular. It may of course just be Burgess’s imagination in overdrive, but the evidence is there on the page.

    Quote Psalm 46
    King James Version

    46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

    3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

    4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

    5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

    6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

    7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

    8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

    9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

    10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

    11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    I read this book decades ago and had clean forgotten how it ends. The last chapter brings us right on the topic of this thread. A drama historian on an Earth in our future decides to travel back to ‘B303 England’ because ‘I have to know whether William Shakespeare really wrote those plays’. He goes pretending to be a young playwright from Norwich bearing, the complete works of Shakespeare hand copied in the Elizabethan style on… acidfree paper.


    Shakespeare turns out to be a bit of a ‘monster’, he fancies this pretty young man and when he doesn’t get his way with him he throws him out. But first they get to talk of his plays: ‘Heliogabalus. A Word to Fright a Whoremaster. The Sad reign of Harold First and Last. The Devil in Dulwich. Oh, many and many more.’ You get the picture. He has already seen one of these ghosts, who came from High Germany. ‘Go to’, he says; ‘Are there not other worlds, like unto our own, that sorcery can make men leave to visit this?’ Some of the complete works end up on the fire, but many are saved. He comes across The Merchant of Venice. ‘Shakespeare had toyed with the idea of a play like this himself. And here it was, ready done for him, though it required copying into his own hand that questions about its provenance be not asked.’ So he is a special kind of forger.

    What happens is a reversal. In light of this future supplies his own work is too full of magic. Let me quote the final paragraphs.
    Quote … Those plays Schleyer had brought had been good plays, but not, perhaps, quite so good as these.
    Shakespeare furtively, though he was alone, crossed himself. When poets had talked o the Muse had they perhaps meant visitants like this, no screaming feebly in the street, and the German Schleyer and that one who swore, under torture, that he was from Virginia in America, and that in America they had universities as good as Oxford or Leyden or Wittenberg, nay better? Well, whoever they were, they were heartily welcome as long as they brought plays. That Richard II of Schleyer’s was, perhaps, in need of the amendments he was now engaged upon, but the earlier work untouched, from Henry VI on, had been popular. He read the top sheet of this new batch, stroking his auburn beard finely silvered, a fine grey eye reading. He sighed and, before crumpling a sheet of his own work on the table, he reread it. Not good, it limped, there was too much magic in it. Ingenio the Duke of Parma said:
    Consider gentleman as in the sea
    All earthly life finds like and parallel
    So in far distant skies our lives be aped
    Each hath a twin each action hath a twin
    And twins have twins galore and infinite
    And een these stars be twinn’d
    Too fantastic, it would not do. He threw it into the rubbish box which Tomkin would later empty. Humming a new song of the streets entitled ‘Leave well alone’, he took a clean sheet and began to copy in a fair hand:
    The Merchant of Venice, A Comedy
    Then on he went; not blotting a line.
    The joke of course is that this inferior ‘real Shakespeare’ is something concocted in 1984 by the author of A Clockwork Orange and a biography of Shakespeare, Anthony Burgess himself… This was a few years before the real-life story of Dolores Cannon working through a colleague with Nostradamus. See here and here.


    The issue here is that no one seems to be doing any creative writing. I have my own experience on the question of the ‘Muse’, which is more on the lines of ‘10% inspiration, 90% perspiration’. Writing is hard work, but with plenty of practice you gain a little speed and dig a little deeper. So basically, inspiration is a return on investment (perspiration). Of course, there is an inborn propensity for this kind of work, but this merely focusses on the personal aspect, whereas the issue here focusses on the collective aspect, whereby every writer is a reader, operating both in time and outside of time. The Borges story ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote’ comes to mind.


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    Default Re: In Search of Shakespeare | Michael Wood BBC documentary series

    Quote Posted by Cidersomerset (here)

    Admin note: December 29th 2020 - the original links here broke due to the removal of the original source account so I've now replaced them via the History TV youtube page. Perhaps these will remain up for some time to come. So, below the 4 part documentary series - I cannot locate the bonus part 5 at this time (Tintin Quarantino)


    In Search of Shakespeare - A Time of Revolution (Documentary)



    ==================================================


    BBC Michael Wood In Search Of Shakespeare 2 of 4 The Lost Years 2005



    ===================================================

    BBC Michael Wood In Search Of Shakespeare 3 of 4 The Duty Of Poets 2005



    ===================================================

    In Search of Shakespeare 4of4....Not the best of copies I cannot find a better one...



    ===================================================

    ===================================================

    Shakespeare's Mother The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman BBC Documentary 2015



    ====================================================
    ing for information only - see Admin note in red
    “If a man does not keep pace with [fall into line with] his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” - Thoreau

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Haven't seen Count St. Germain mentioned as a candidate in this thread......no Theosophists around?

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Quote Posted by pueblo (here)
    Haven't seen Count St. Germain mentioned as a candidate in this thread......no Theosophists around?
    Ah, but Francis Bacon has already been mentioned and obviously they're the same person...


    Researcher Alan Green thinks there's a hidden message in Shakespeare's tomb:

    https://tobeornottobe.org/

    There's some fun stuff there as well as the threat of 'Merch' by which I believe we can expect tat bearing a logo rather than Shylock...

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Quote Posted by pueblo (here)
    Haven't seen Count St. Germain mentioned as a candidate in this thread......no Theosophists around?
    Actually St Germaine is mentioned on the very first page of this thread by the seemingly slumbering member Camilo. All very interesting though, and I will start paying more attention. After watching some of the Michael Wood series 'In Search of Shakespeare' (only episode 3 appears to work in the links) I think there was a lot more to Shakespeare than a mere Warwickshire yokel with a catchy moniker. I will however reserve judgement until I've learned more.
    Last edited by Mare; 7th January 2021 at 11:37.

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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    Writing/playwrighting as a subversive activity. This BBC programme, which makes a decent case for Shakespeare being exactly as described on the tin, does what Shakespeare did with his history plays based on Holinshed and others. Based on what little hard evidence is available, it presents a historical account of the bard’s life as a commentary on the current situation. It does so probably not (entirely) deliberately: when it was made, I doubt whether the parallel with Brexit – then Rome, now Brussels— would have been noticeable. Or the parallel with America today. What we are talking about is a retreat towards archetypal human behaviour patterns that move into a timeless realm where prophecy emerges from history. Shakespeare himself describes on a small scale what he is doing on a much larger scale, in the process making sense of Anthony Burgess’s suggestion of time-travelling visitors, which may just be an interesting metaphor for artistic ‘inspiration’: no visitors needed if you can go there yourself.
    Quote WARWICK. There is a history in all men’s lives
    Figuring the natures of the times deceased;
    The which observed, a man may prophesy,
    With a near aim, of the main chance of things
    As yet not come to life, who in their seeds
    And weak beginnings lie intreasurèd.
    Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
    And by the necessary form of this
    King Richard might create a perfect guess
    That great Northumberland, then false to him,
    Would of that seed grow to a greater falseness,
    Which should not find a ground to root upon
    Unless on you [his successor Henry IV]
    I propose to take a serialized look at Shakespeare’s world view in relation, first to the history he presents (1), secondly to his own day (2), thirdly to Britain today (3), and finally to the USA today (4).

    (1) The histories are a mixture of something akin to tragedy affecting the elite (mostly power struggles among the nobility) and comedy (mostly verbal and other slapstick among ordinary people, typically unsavoury types such as the population of taverns and bawdy-houses (drunkards and thieves). The link between the two worlds takes both inanimate and animate form: wealth and one of the best-loved characters in English literature.
    (1.a.) First, money. Rising to the top is achieved by taxation of one’s subjects, at every level of society. Maintaining power involves suppressing rebellions caused by overtaxation. In those days, disloyalty to the king was treasonous (whereas nowadays it is disrespect of the constitution and the law). Treason was like a one-way valve on the cash flow system. Rather than give way and reverse the flow, it would be ‘off with their heads’ and confiscation of the rebel’s property. Henry IV’s death-bed recommendation to his son is then, instead of asset-stripping his own English lords, to go and pillage the French. Unfortunately, he was speaking as someone who had had a reign of quelling domestic rebellion, and although he himself, after his predecessor Richard II had exiled him and confiscated his property, had deposed the king precisely upon his return from a long period away in Ireland.

    Henry V was historically a good pious man, as well as a brave warrior, and his reaction is to seek the French crown only insomuch as it is due to him, otherwise not. He consults the Archbishop of Canterbury to make sure what is the Christian thing to do. Unfortunately, a project in the pipeline inherited from Henry IV was planning to strip the Church of about half of its assets, and so naturally the Archbishop of Canterbury recommends a diversionary war. While making contemporary political and economic sense, this hawkish approach is hardly Christian, and Shakespeare emphasizes how even back then the Church has become totally beholden to the financial system. Unfortunately, a major expedition to France would leave him exposed to incursions from Scotland, so he leaves three-quarters of his troops at home.

    (1.b.) England’s best-loved character is Sir John Falstaff, an impoverished knight who hangs out with the dregs of society, whores, thieves, tavern-owners… and also with the young Prince Hal. He is a fat slob soaked in sherry and claret, what we might call a populist in modern terminology. Falstaff is suddenly disowned by Hal when he becomes King Henry V, and soon dies of despair and grief. This is not a flip-flop on Henry’s part, more like reaching the time to take action following a field survey in which he discovers that the above-described ‘soak the rich’ policy extends all the way down to create grassroots poverty and crime. He has been acting like a modern anthropologist studying shamanism: you have to drink the ayahuasca. Henry disowns Falstaff, but not the ordinary people. We see him in France fraternizing with his troops while also taking along, as well as his Englishmen, an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman for ‘comic’ effect – the formula for a modern joke in action and a somewhat united kingdom a century before the United Kingdom really came into being.

    (1.c.) Piety here involves holding everything and everyone together. Henry V takes a tiny force to campaign in France, and after capturing Harfleur, he needs to evacuate through Calais. Hence the Battle of Agincourt was not intended as a famous victory, it was more of a defensive battle like Dunkirk in 1940, as desperate as the Spartans at Thermopylae; except that it saw a somewhat miraculous outcome helped along by some useful generalship. It involved an element of class warfare, since thousands of French nobility on horseback had to stoop to fend off the English peasant archers. They were not supposed to get killed at all: they came for the joust, and at worst they would be captured and pay a ransom: the real spoils of war. Unfortunately, after heavy overnight rain, the horses turned the place into a mudbath, and the bowmen on either flank created a bottleneck where the wounded horses deposited their riders in a huge pile to suffocate.

    Another modern comparison comes to mind: a 20th century English soccer match, where once or twice an overcrowded stand could spill onto a heavy muddy pitch, with great loss of life. Only here the people getting crushed were those normally sitting in the VIP box. The massacre was worsened when the French, having too many troops, failed to stop fighting, with the result that those taken prisoner became a liability, as they would surely attack from the rear while the English carried on fighting. So to their chagrin, instead of collecting ransoms the poor peasant soldiers had to cut huge numbers of throats. No booty and no money, par for the course. The main positive and unexpected result of the battle was that the men themselves survived to tell the tale. How they did this was through courage. No play-acting at war. That is why the coward Falstaff is dropped from the team: at Shakespeare’s Battle of Shrewsbury, he pretends to be dead, then gets up and ‘kills’ Hotspur, who is already dead. Not good enough.
    […]


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    […]
    (2) What came next for the Plantagenets was unfortunate. Henry V, who as the son of the last king (and an early Prince of Wales) was beginning a period of dynastic stability, died young, leaving his young son Henry VI at the tender age of nine months to be caught up in decades of domestic strife known as the War of the Roses, culminating in the reign of Richard III. Most of these kings reigned and died very young. Meanwhile, Henry V’s French widow Catherine had a second son by Owen Tudor. A Tudor in name, a Plantagenet in first name, this posthumous French stepson later became Henry VII. We see here an interesting practical sidestepping of the disputed Salic law whereby a woman might not inherit, since Catherine is the stepping-stone between the defunct Plantagenet dynasty and the subsequent Tudor dynasty, gradually built up, up to and including Elizabeth I in Shakespeare’s day. Unfortunately (the key word in this whole story!), any stabilizing effect was counterbalanced by wild swings within the family, principally with the short reign of Catholic Mary between the Protestants Edward VI and Elizabeth I. You might call it regime change in a one-party system. Yesterday’s loyalty to the crown turned into today’s treason owing to a policy U-turn. For example, the scientist/magus John Dee only just saved his skin before becoming Elizabeth’s unwitting spy. Elizabeth was already queen when Shakespeare was born, but we are talking about major reformation of a millennial religion with a police state to persecute traditional Catholics. We who in outpourings on the Internet bemoan our loss of free speech have actually never had it so good. This is, on one level, what all the play-acting was about: it was designed to get round the censorship to reach a mainstream audience.

    (2.a.) On another level, play-acting is presented as something people do in real life. The hunchback Richard III is shown as deliberately playing the villain. While this may be fiction, Henry V’s transformation from playboy to responsible king is largely backed up by history. In Henry V, as in Hamlet, you have a play within the play when Falstaff and Prince Hal rehearse the latter’s coming interview with his father Henry IV, first with Falstaff as the king, then reversing the roles. Either way, this fiction suggests a more fatherly relationship than the real thing. Likewise, it is not entirely clear which of Prince Hal or the maturer King Henry V is closer to the genuine article, as they are both acting out something they are not. The real man is a synthesis of the two ages, boy-man then man-boy. What is being hinted at is a subversive king, aloof yet close to the people, seeking to bring about real change peacefully, which is really the only way to avoid quickly reverting to the same old same old.

    So where does the Elizabethan poet-playwright fit in this picture? As described in the videos, Shakespeare was a celebrity entertainer, combining the roles of Broadway, Hollywood, sport and TV soap. So far so good. What he was also doing was acting as a primetime mainstream news channel. But since anything more subversive than Pravda would have been shut down immediately, he wrote history plays for example, which are a combination of the History channel and comedy central, while also dealing indirectly with current affairs. These ‘Queen’s men’, as the troupe was called, had to be careful how much they could get away with. Clearly, reviving the tale of deposition in Richard II the night before Essex’s attempted coup against Elizabeth I was almost fatal since they were called in for questioning and got off with a slap on the wrist (although their client was executed). While the idea was to build up the analogy between then and now, the only safe way would be to educate spectators into working things out for themselves: for ‘the fair reverence of your highness curbs me/ From giving reins and spurs to my free speech’. Art is neither manipulative nor dogmatic, but it can be subversive by using cunning to make a political point, by which I simply mean have some slight impact on the real world. Hence Shakespeare was not only a one-man mainstream media of his day, he was the alternative media too, at a time when our presentday freedom of speech was the stuff of dreams. The message is somewhat paradoxical. After all the young kings with even younger sons, the iron lady Elizabeth was a childless old maid at the end of a very long reign. A whole period of history was coming to an end and the idea would have been to prepare something better to take its place.

    So what were Protestants protesting about? Apart from a good deal of corruption and control in the Church of Rome, one of these videos pinpoints the major Catholic issue, namely the divine feminine as personified by the Virgin Mary. (Notice how in the BBC videos, one document is identified as pro-Catholic by its mention of her.) See these posts.
    https://projectavalon.net/forum4/sho...l=1#post709863
    https://projectavalon.net/forum4/sho...l=1#post974575
    So we see Shakespeare operating on several levels at once. The videos say Othello is more about racism than about jealousy. I agree, with the added observation that racism is about a person, typically a male, killing the divine feminine, including within himself. The play is still also about jealousy, only not so much Othello’s towards his wife, but Iago’s jealousy of their integration of the divine feminine, thereby enacting the process of change from Catholicism to puritanism. Hence racism and jealousy are fundamentally religious issues.
    […]


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    […]
    (2.b.) Although we are looking chiefly at the history plays here, we see a full spectrum of responses to the divine feminine, which serve as a kind of thermometer for everything else that is going on. Note in Henry V the genuine love interest in the closing scenes where the king woos Catherine, daughter of the French king. Tragedy gives way to comedy as the two manage to overcome the language barrier, and also in an earlier scene where Catherine rehearses some English words that sound like bad language in French (‘de foot et de cown’). For Henry V, France is not so much a place for robbing Johnny foreigner as for finding a loving significant other, a wife and mother for his heirs. Compare and contrast King Edward III, ‘the bluntest wooer in Christendom’, and the celibate, sterile Elizabeth whose famous line never made it into Shakespeare: ‘I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too.’ On the other hand, as we shall see, the young Henry VIII shows veneration for the aspects of the ‘triple goddess’, the chaste wife and later crone (Catherine of Aragon) and the harlot (Anne Boleyn), although divorcing the two which need to be united.

    Years later on the home front, as the temperature rises in the wild scenes of internecine feuding in Henry VI Part 3, the feminine element also literally goes crazy. As Queen Margaret watches her husband Henry VI wandering around reading a pious book or disinheriting their son, then sees the boy murdered before her eyes, she gets involved in the actual killing of the then usurper after taunting him over the child he has seen murdered. As the play moves on, you have three old tragic queens, three crones, in scenes reminiscent of the witches in the tragedy Macbeth. The inference being, these things are supposed to happen in the haunted wilderness of Scotland, not south of the border in civilized England, where it would seem however that witchcraft has risen to affect the crown itself.

    (2.c.) That said, the history plays are predominantly a man’s world. 3Henry VI is by no means the end of the story, for since it has a climactic sequel, Richard III, it qualifies among the history plays as Shakespeare’s ‘second best bed’. So far, we have been watching a bunch of opportunists in action. One pretender says he would sell out to be king for a year, but he employs no villainy to achieve that ambition. What changes in the last play is that Richard of Gloucester is prepared to go the extra mile to make things happen, by eliminating anyone getting in his way: like Iago, but not averse to getting blood on his own hands. Shakespeare is said by some to have gone over the top in demonizing this hunchback, most notably with the unverified killing of the boy princes in the Tower. He does so the better perhaps to flatter Elizabeth I, because the man who puts an end to it all turns out to be her grandfather, Henry VII. But if the overall idea is to denounce this she-devil on the English throne, that cannot be the whole story. The character of Richard makes huge dramatic sense, bringing the whole saga to a tremendous climax and some kind of closure. Just to what extent it conforms to reality on the ground both then and now is another question, but an interesting one. For where Shakespeare is at odds with accepted history may be due to his own retroactive perspective; in other words, while staging old reigns to shed light on the current one, the reverse process is also happening whereby his current wisdom also sheds light on history, which is precisely why accepted history is always subject to change. Even though he never attended university, the extensive research Shakespeare must have done in order to compose this cycle of plays qualifies him to some degree as a historian with his own specific skill set. In other words, I am describing a self-appointed researcher in the mould of presentday alternative media researchers, often decried because of the inevitably inferior quality that some of their number will inevitably produce. They are on a steep learning curve.

    (2.d.) While there may be doubt over some of the intricacies of who did what, how, when and why, what seems uncontroversial is the appalling body count as things spiral out of control: everyone allegedly murdered or executed was indeed murdered or executed. This whole story brings to mind CS Lewis’s wartime Space Trilogy, which culminates in a satanic organization self-destructing in a similar fashion; the culminating feature being a bodiless head kept alive as a form of artificial intelligence in a room where a sash window is designed to operate as a guillotine. Eventually and inevitably, the machine goes into self-replicating mode, and the characters start chopping each other’s heads off to feed it. See this post/thread.

    What makes Shakespeare’s satanic Richard III totally plausible is when it is seen as a political remake of the Battle of Agincourt, which definitely took place as described. There, you had a huge throng of French nobles come to joust, but with no room to wield their lances, and come to hunt down some peasant soldiers. Jousting is the sport derived from hunting: originally the very real business of putting meat on plates. But when you are wealthy enough to confiscate a serf’s pig, the hungry motive gradually turns into a search for entertainment and amusement – killing humans being some people’s idea of fun. But note also how, alongside war, the executions also fit into this picture, especially in the days of the barbaric hanging drawing and quartering with its cannibilistic overtones of a butcher preparing a carcass of meat. This battle then took place between a bunch of amateurs playing a game, transformed into an epic disaster by the ‘happy few’ professional warriors fighting for their lives as a ‘band of brothers’. With a modicum of organization and serious intent, numbers become meaningless: instead of ‘the more the merrier’ you have effective guerilla warfare, now better known as terrorism. (Interestingly, both the terror attacks in New York (2001) and London (2005) are said by some to have occurred while war games were going on…)

    Now do the same in a political context. The later history plays show a bunch of amateurs being outflanked by one professional single-handedly engaging in organized crime to achieve his naked personal ambition. In this sense, Richard III is the ultimate conspiracy theory, but leading to one interesting insight. While it may appear more plausible as a ‘lone nut’ scenario, the emphasis is nonetheless on nobility badly diseased from top to bottom. In a healthy society, the lone nut will be dealt with on an individual basis, but in such a context of mass psychosis, he gets to play out his fantasies. We are talking about a pandemic, with a psychic virus that can be anything from harmless to absolutely lethal.
    […]



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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    […]
    (2.e.) Shakespeare’s response to this barbaric killing spree is truly revolutionary because it prones peaceful revolution instead of opposing violence with more violence. War in France brings out the worst in his peasantry, who start arguing amongst themselves and challenging each other to duels. A disguised Henry V himself gets into an argument, which he smoothes over when the real fighting is finished. Unfortunately however, the bigger picture tells a different story. His pious son Henry VI basically opts out but cannot survive. Ultimately, the real message seems to be a pessimistic ‘the worst is yet to come’, for any sense of closure is rather marred by this other play outside the history cycle per se: the ‘romance’ of Henry VIII. While this description places Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth in the same category as Prospero and Miranda in The Tempest, the subtext might be seen more as that of Lear and Cordelia in the tragedy of King Lear

    What could get worse? Well, to date, all these murderers had been busy sending their rivals to their Maker: ‘absolved with an axe’. The Church remained strong and stable through its hawkish stance when Henry IV was planning to cut its assets by half. When Henry VIII comes along, his marital affairs are a pretext for a ‘romantic’ cover story, but the main news not recounted is that he is going to confiscate 100% with the dissolution of the monasteries. This opens the door to religious persecutions whereby people were sent not to their Maker, but condemned to Hell fire. Loyalty to the monarch replaced loyalty to God. Furthermore, what makes things so much worse is the way this spreads from the feuding nobility to the entire population, no longer able to go to church (rather like in 2020 in fact). Everyone would have to grapple with the insoluble dilemma of loyalty to Church or State, or to accept the merging of the one with the other, the material ousting the spiritual. This was truly hell, suggesting that after this hell on earth the spiritual hereafter would be just more of the same, and henceforth true religion was so much hopium of the people. Clearly it would be hard to overstate one’s case in demonizing the perpetrators, who, to make matters still worse, were women. For by Shakespeare’s time, Macbeth’s witches had, as we saw earlier, reached the very top, promoted from queen consorts to reigning monarchs as Mary then Elizabeth took the crown. The divine feminine had nowhere to go.

    And yet the balanced moral of the tale is that organization is potentially life-saving (Agincourt) as well as potentially death-dealing (the royal court, and later the persecutions). English history is, to some extent at least, a story of channelling government organization towards achieving a society healthier in every way. Success always accompanies failure, and the Elizabethan age was no exception, also bringing a great deal of good to the world, not least Shakespeare himself. We must remember how hard those times were for the majority: infant mortality, early deaths etc. Nowadays, royals produce ‘an heir and a spare’ (the current queen did so twice over!), and they all live to be nearly a hundred. Back then, kings were crowned at ten years or nine months old, and often died in their thirties. Hereditary succession was a good idea to take the ambition out of the primitive electoral process, but Henry VIII had a very real problem producing a male heir even that old after several miscarriages, stillbirths and what have you. He might have been content with Mary had he not been listening to Cardinal Wolsey.

    Other early deaths were also common. We have the story of Shakespeare’s colleague and fellow subversive Christopher Marlowe, who fell in with three ruffians, and we only get the survivors’ innocent version of events. Marlowe was lying aggressively on a bed and effectively committed suicide by attacking his killer from behind. In our days of endless crimes committed to silence people (no need to investigate serial climbing accidents among microbiologists for instance, or the closing of a twitter account for that matter), a case could easily be made for this death being no more mysterious than it sounds. Then Shakespeare himself died at just 52. According to the video, it may have been from alcoholic poisoning – not because he had a drink problem as Beethoven did, but just because of the very liquid (boozy) diet of the times. The idea does not… hold much water, but never mind: Shakespeare was past it anyway. Then of course the Globe Theatre was destroyed by an accidental fire on the opening night of Henry VIII, billed with the title All is True. Perhaps one or two of the queen’s spies were in the audience; I for one would not rule out foul play (pun intended). The cover story of calling this play (co-written with one John Fletcher) a ‘romance’ is completely demolished by this whistle-blowing title: if the queen’s spies were not there, then they were unbelievably incompetent.

    (2.f.) So, things were getting really bad for all the Queen’s men. Meanwhile, the nation’s affairs were worsening even compared with Richard III’s day, because, as I indicated earlier, the whole population was becoming directly involved and vulnerable to violent death. Henry VIII is also much more subtly subversive than its title suggests, since it is really saying, ‘This much is true… and just the tip of the iceberg’. It is only half a play: at the end we are waiting for Henry VIII Part 2, not to mention the sequels that never came, Edward VI, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 – so many suspension points … --- … that come over as some kind of cryptic SOS, although what we actually get is the prophesy of a long and glorious reign given with 20/20 hindsight. The glorious ending in praise of Elizabeth actually comes as something of a let-down, since Henry VIII already had an heiress and basically all he has done is produce a ‘sparess’, albeit a powerful and much-needed one. A world-shaking Reformation, and it’s back to square one. And despite everything, when the birth of a girl is announced, Henry puts on a brave face (no stage directions) and just tells someone to give an old lady a small amount of money for bringing the news. The only hint of any disappointment is the disgust shown by the woman at the pittance he gives her.
    Quote King Henry: Is the Queen delivered?
    Say, ‘Ay, and of a boy.’
    Old lady: Ay, ay, my liege,
    And of a lovely boy. The God of heaven
    Both now and ever bless her! ’Tis a girl
    Promises boys hereafter.
    Something strange is going on here: the king ought to have been absolutely livid. But if the overriding concern was to avoid offending an Elizabethan audience or their queen, then why stage the scene at all? And why be insultingly undertipping (insulting to Elizabeth)? It’s stage money after all. It makes no sense. A simpler alternative reading would be to say that the king is acting out his true feelings (‘All is true’): he is perfectly content to have this ‘fair young maid’. But but but… that can’t be right. Can it? Let’s see how it just might be.

    With its two seemingly unconnected sections, on the fall of Cardinal Wolsey and the birth of Elizabeth, Henry VIII raises a few interesting problems. We read in the history books that the king worked hard to help get Wolsey elected pope at two conclaves. (If they had succeeded, then the Reformation in England might never have happened.) Or that Wolsey dragged his heels getting papal permission for Henry’s divorce and remarriage. Or that if the king hadn’t been so intent on building a reputation in Europe, he wouldn’t have needed such vast sums to finance his military campaigns (which Wolsey funded notably by making an early start on the dissolution of the monasteries). However Shakespeare/Fletcher give a perspective on this effective and yet totally dysfunctional duumvirate that may not be new to historians but is new to me for one, not having read the play before.

    At the start of the play, Henry makes clear that he is very happy with his wonderful Spanish queen who has given him a daughter, and he seems content to carry on as before. All of a sudden the need for a male heir seems less important. As I understand it, Wolsey is not against the divorce but against the marriage with Anne Boleyn, mainly because she is a lowly handmaid, not a foreign queen. One feels that if this were the court of France and it was all about lusting after a desirable wench, she would be the king’s mistress, with no constitutional crisis to worry about. So what is going on? We find out when Wolsey’s enemies leak to the king some of his papers and snail mail to the Vatican. In this regard, the play itself would have functioned rather like Wikileaks today, but for safety’s sake the audience would have to join some dots themselves. Notice in passing how the general public nowadays is generally quite conversant with what leaks into the public domain, but much less so with regard to what leaks among political enemies behind the scenes – or for that matter what leaks among political friends and makes them enemies. I may be mistaken, but this seems to be a fairly new feature of the current crisis, at least to the degree it is occurring now.

    We learn that Cardinal Wolsey’s vast personal wealth and economic policies (taxation, confiscation, and also extortion) are geared primarily towards buying his election as pope, which amounts at once to criminal (treasonous) embezzlement of state resources and the spiritual sin of simony on a massive scale.
    Quote This paper has undone me. ’Tis th’account
    Of all that world of wealth I have drawn together
    For mine own ends – indeed, to gain the popedom,
    And fee my friends in Rome. O negligence,
    Fit for a fool to fall by! What cross devil
    Made me put this main secret in the packet
    I sent the King?
    We shall look at contemporary parallels to this situation later on. For now, we note a foreign power, the Vatican, effectively siphoning off capital from England directly through the king’s first minister, treason of the highest order of course on the latter’s part, but also a casus belli between two states. However this was a foreign power of a special kind which had rightfully exerted spiritual influence over king and country, but whose influence was now exposed as being utterly corrupt. The Pope was no Catholic; but the king was. This changes the entire picture. Instead of seeing the popular Henry VIII as (a future serial adulterer and) someone wanting a male heir at all costs, his application to the Pope now appears all along to have been a plot contrived to set up and expose Wolsey in order to escape the clutches of this vampire state. The marital separation was never about Catherine or her babies; she was merely the instrument for the divorce with the temporal power of the Church. Cardinal Wolsey never became pope because he was foiled by the king in what amounted to one more treasonous power grab. The divorce was also about removing this temporal power while upholding and enhancing the spiritual power of Christianity. Hence the Protestantism of the time had nothing to do with puritanism, but was ‘High Church’, i.e. Anglo-Catholic as opposed to Roman Catholic. So at the end of the play, this is the religion into which Henry baptizes his daughter Elizabeth: so far so good. All’s well that ends well. Except that Queen Elizabeth was no Catholic.

    (2.g.) Except that this was only another beginning: rinse and repeat the previous cycle. The problem is that to save the state, Henry has sacrificed a happy marriage with Catherine of Aragon. In other words, the position of queen of England is no longer a lifetime position but something more resembling an administrative period of office or contract of employment subject to termination at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly therefore, the queenship will likely then be subjected to the very same sort of diplomatic and financial shenanigans as those surrounding the papacy, which was the big issue in the first place. In this light, to solve that problem, Henry VIII has opened the floodgates leading to his subsequent marital woes. Reports of treasonous adultery, and treasonous infertility followed by executions and divorces are an exact female parallel to the male goings-on in the above-described transition period from Henry VI to Richard III to Henry VII. One suspects that stories about Henry VIII being a compulsive womanizer are just stories – fake news. Would, for example, a compulsive womanizer spend his ‘salad days’, his best youthful years (nearly two decades), with the same woman? In other words, this promiscuous behaviour was out of character, until something triggered a change. And yet if anyone knows just one thing about Henry VIII, it is that he had six wives. Enough said.

    All you Brits who think life on a desert island would be improved by having the Bible and Shakespeare, in these times of lockdown and Brexit, you ARE on a desert island right now. Time to brush up your Shakespeare.
    […]


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    […]
    (3) Britain today. As I suggested above, the timeless quality of Shakespeare’s approach to human endeavours makes earlier history prophetic of his own age, but also by extension of any other, our own included. Certainly the part of the story saying that ‘the worst is yet to come’ is of obvious current relevance. The idea is that world leaders playing out human archetypes are basically Shakespearean characters. However, it is not a simple one-to-one affair: it is also a matter of what people were doing. Even the historians don’t seem to know of any policy initiatives that Richard III might have taken. For The History Today Companion to British History, the very idea seems to be of secondary importance, concluding with ‘his total failure to live up to a king’s most basic responsibilities: to ensure the survival of himself, his dynasty and his followers’. We’ll look at Boris Johnson and Donald Trump in relation to Falstaff (respectively 3.a. and 4.a.), in relation to Richard III (3.b. and 4.b.), and in relation to Henry VIII (3.c. and 4.c.).

    ‘What you are’ is basically just your toolbox. If you were a 15-16th century English monarch, you had one set of tools. 21st century political leaders have a different set. The idea is to swap one set for the other and focus on ‘who they are’, which defines how they use these tools. We have a spectrum of English kings, white, black and grey. Henry V was by all accounts a man of principle doing his best for the common good. Richard III in Shakespeare’s account was totally unprincipled, doing nothing for anyone except himself. Henry VIII in my understanding lies in a grey area, by which I mean several things. It can notably mean either unreliably principled or unobviously principled. In my reading of Shakespeare, despite all the tabloid fodder, he turns out to be working for the common good at great personal cost. Grey can also mean either well-meaning but somewhat ineffective or ill-meaning but somewhat effective. In this sense, the well-meaning Henry V may not have been too effective, if only because he died far too young. Meanwhile, the black portrait of Richard III does not necessarily preclude some good having been done by Richard III; we just have little evidence for any. Finally, Henry VIII’s ineffectiveness may be put down largely to the sheer scale of the problem he was facing.

    The bottom line when all these factors are taken into account is that history is a societal juggernaut that no individuals can stop: in the words of James Joyce’s character, ‘history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake’. We all need to come together, which has to mean not simply dismissing as evil and seeking to eliminate those who try to go it alone. They do this because it is easier for the cowardly individual to have an exaggerated effect on the community by doing things that are bad for it; see this post. Unfortunately, since the ‘monos’ in ‘monarchy’ means going it alone, kingship itself is part of the problem. So kings could do bad things not because of who they were but because of what they were, and then regicides and other rivals would come along and solve nothing. This is the problem that democracy was designed to remedy; unfortunately it spawned populism, which is a pale imitation, a vaccine designed to offset that effect.

    In the light of the above three paragraphs, Johnson and Trump would seem to offer two very different shades of grey. Since many see them both as complete populist clowns – often Europeans cannot speak of Johnson without mentioning Trump in the same breath – and since those who take Trump seriously often also take Johnson seriously, it seems a good idea to attempt to prise the two apart.

    (3.a.) Taking Johnson first, how does ‘Boris’ compare with King Henry V/Falstaff? (‘I'm voting for Boris because he is a laugh’ (Wikipedia)). Very unfavourably, it must be said. While Henry’s bottom-up handling of the grassroots in a manner compatible with the regal mantle probably brings him about as close as one can get to a democratic 15th century king, Johnson fails in both regards. His closeness to ordinary people is insincere and superficial (populism); he is only interested in garnering their votes; he is clearly a paid-up member of the elite and a not even a renegade in the governing Tory party that has imposed a decade of austerity. But this elite is totally degenerate: they used to say ‘noblesse oblige’ (nobility brings obligations towards others): not any more. Beneath the veneer of jokey affability, this is what makes him a real buffoon with a mental age of about four, not to be taken seriously by anyone, except as a useful puppet by his handler Cummings and his owners.

    We have experience in France of what happens when a real bona fide clown runs for office. This was in 1980 when the stand-up comic Coluche, a corpulent fellow in his trademark dungarees, ran for president to denounce the sorry/comical state of French politics. He did so well in the opinion polls that he got scared at having proved his point and backed out. Some say he got a visit from whomever. In 1986, he was killed by a truck in a motorcycle. Some say he was murdered on behalf of whomever. Such theories really don’t add anything to the discussion. My point is that things got too serious; when the going gets tough the tough get going, and the comedians go home. Falstaff was deselected; out of his depth, Coluche walked away (or was deselected). Unfortunately Johnson stayed the course – not unaided: aided in fact by someone (Cummings) who claimed to have gone on a long-distance drive to test his eyesight when already flouting the covid restrictions he himself had introduced. This excuse for an excuse was actually quite an admission: the man in the driving seat was out of control.

    Johnson dreamt of being ‘world king’. He is hardly that, but nonetheless this Falstaff has won the top job when the original was sacked for cowardice. Cowardice is often mentioned as a major Johnson failing in his handling (or non-handling) of the pandemic: always too little too late. It also characterizes his less-is-more handling of the Brexit fiasco. Like Falstaff’s prowess in battle, his success is vicarious: the benefits mostly his predecessor’s work, the climbdowns all his own.

    However, Johnson’s whole ‘leaver’ stance is contrary to everything Henry V stood for with regard to Europe, being entirely opportunistic, since he wavered until the last minute, even preparing a remainer statement as a possible alternative. Fellow Tory Chris Patten stated that (…) Johnson was ‘one of the greatest exponents of fake [Eurosceptic] journalism’ (Wikipedia). As we saw in one of my earlier posts, the king saw greater ties with France as positive and beneficial, all the way to a ‘European union’ (marriage) whereby an English king with a French wife might produce a European heir. After three European wars in the space of eighty years, the Common Market started as a postwar attempt at avoiding future wars, and has been hugely successful in that regard despite so much potential for continued discord. This has been achieved as not only economic and political, but cultural and social rapprochement as well has woven a tighter fabric across the continent. These are the ties that are part of many people’s lives and that Johnson’s Brexit is going to weaken or destroy.

    I also mentioned the countries of the United Kingdom. In the day of Henry V, an expedition south to France would lead to marauding Scots moving south into England. Not a good idea, and he tried to avoid it, even though it was a mere reflection of his own activity, a play within a play, and in that sense was actually in some way desirable. Today we are seeing the reverse movement: as England recoils from Europe, Scotland recoils from England (as do Ireland and Wales). The UK was a microcosm of Europe: the success of the one mirrors the success of the other; scrapping the one will probably end up with a disunited kingdom.

    (3.b.) So much for elements of substance. What about form? As the man who wanted to be king of the world and does not really know what to do with the power he now has, Boris Johnson’s resemblance to Richard III is fairly obvious. Unfortunately, in some respects he is considerably worse. Naked personal ambition can be a good thing if it leads to making an effective contribution. However, given that former PM David Cameron (and also Rees-Mogg) are also old Etonians and members of the infamous Bullingdon Club, it would seem that some kind of game is going on among them to toy with the system in multiple power grabs just for the hell of it. This represents a personal integrity vacuum and a power vacuum to be filled by whoever comes along; hence the extremely dangerous times currently being experienced in the UK and Europe.

    Try telling the subjects of Richard III, who reigned for just a couple of years, that the worst was yet to come. Ten years of Tory misrule and counting…. I said that Richard was a professional kingmaker amid a bunch of amateurs. Let me rephrase that: he made it a full-time job, but it was a botched DIY job that involved taking every shortcut and breaking all the rules; so it was a job not made to last. To use a contemporary analogy, it was like going up to the Capitol without an official mandate to pass through the front door, but smashing a window instead, sitting at the Speaker’s desk for a moment, yet totally unable to even begin running the show by actually doing the Speaker’s job. Alternatively, it was like getting into Parliament on false pretences, e.g. through ballot fraud, and going through the motions as prime minister. This may have happened in the UK in December 2019, as I explained in this post.

    (3.c.) Johnson’s obvious connection with Henry VIII is their epic marital history. Johnson’s was of course his own private business, until it became a public issue in various ways as detailed in his Wikipedia entry. A public figure’s children need to be protected, but to refuse to state simply how many he has is hugely counterproductive for someone expecting to be trusted. I have suggested that Henry VIII’s marital woes were not directly of his own making but rather a side effect of his statecraft. Nowadays such a career is all too common, all in the name of greater freedom of course; a lifetime partnership is the exception and no longer even particularly desirable. So Johnson’s CV is entirely of his own making. He has held high office, but he’s no statesman.

    The other connection is the idea of Brexit seen in the light of the Reformation. Henry VIII got out of Europe to escape the heavy financial tribute being paid to Rome and the sinful religious influence exerted thereby. Similarly, Brexit was all about recovering £350 million a week paid to the EU, and ‘getting back control’ or sovereignty. Those 350 million sovereigns supposedly earmarked for the NHS go into vaccines and other ‘Moonshots’. The difference between the EU and the Roman Catholic Church back then is that the EU is a partnership freely entered into (like a modern marriage union), whereas Christianity was a no-alternative-but-hell arrangement (like a then marriage). Hence the private personal aspect mirrors the public political aspect. Henry broke with Rome both as king and as husband. Johnson is unreliable on both fronts. I don’t know too much about any breaking of marital vows, but I do recall one incident with his present partner when the police were called out at night for a breach of the peace. This was breaking the law, or since he wasn’t prosecuted, very nearly so (his neighbours certainly thought so). And as we know, he illegally prorogued Parliament, and he passed a bill reneging on his own Brexit agreement signed just eight months earlier, breaking international law ‘in a limited way’. On the other hand, unlike the treasonous Wolsey, Brexit remainers were entirely law-abiding citizens rubber-stamping the status quo, and representing half of the country’s population.
    [...]


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    (4) USA today. By way of preamble, let me state that in the case of Donald Trump, grey is a pretty extreme version of black on the mainstream outside and white on the alternative inside. This would make him the reverse of a ‘whited sepulchre’, which is how Jesus described the hypocritical Pharisees. In the one case, you would have a profile similar to Johnson’s in the previous post: no need to go over that ground again. Let’s see how the other case pans out; for this, its factuality or otherwise is irrelevant; on the contrary, there might be something here to help the agnostic form an opinion one way or the other. I have noted elsewhere how the reputation as a clown would be a useful and perhaps essential disguise for someone who is basically a secret agent. And while the childish Boris Johnson takes some shoe-horning to fit the Shakespearean script – for he is about as noble and kinglike as he is like Churchill (a fanciful conceit of his) – Donald Trump seems a much better fit.

    (4.a.) This double aspect actually matches the portrayal of Henry V rather well, with the Falstaffian association of the youthful Prince Hal becoming part of the makeup of a very serious grown-up. The French nobility were bluffed by the mainstream account when the Dauphin gifted the new king with that well-known ‘treasure’: ‘tennis balls, my liege’. The modern equivalent would be golf balls. If Trump is seen as divisive, it is perhaps mainly because he appears to be deeply divided – possibly with good reason. He may have been best friends with JFK Jr, but he also seems to have been friendly with Epstein. If he was playing the role of Prince Hal here, then he might have first-hand knowledge of some of the goings-on. Maybe he could confirm some of the things that are keeping Prince Andrew away from the FBI. Many accounts of Trump’s planned clean-up of American and world politics – e.g. all the talk of mass arrests – sound like a re-enactment of the Battle of Agincourt preceded by the death sentence on some homegrown traitors who have just recommended the utmost severity for some minor offence:
    Quote If little faults proceeding on distemper
    Shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye
    When capital crimes, chewed, swallowed, and digested,
    Appear before us?
    (4.b.) The contrast with Henry V lies in the fact that compared with the king, who died at 35, the entrepreneur Trump is vastly more experienced in a somewhat similar line of business (compare with Johnson the flippant an unethical journalist). Being in the building industry, he knows his job as project owner, as distinct from architect, as distinct from all the different building trades, and how all these professionals come together to create a quality end product. This is a far cry from the DIY method of Richard III, whose policy seems to be ‘if your only tool is a bulldozer, then everything becomes a demolition job’. Trump’s weakness was his entitlement to the throne: not establishment/bloodline. His strength was perhaps his fitting the job description. There is no need for our present purpose to look at his record, which is as black and white as everything else. The single fact of his election against all the odds, and with no allegations of vote fraud, may be enough to make the point. The yardstick of this success is probably Ross Perot, who received just 18.9% of the popular vote in 1992 as a third party candidate. Trump ought strictly to have been a third party candidate too, but his first great victory was winning the Republican party nomination. So the bottom line of the comparison with Richard III is that in 2016 Trump won fair and square, and in so doing put himself in a position to do some governing. Again, what he actually did is not at issue here. And in 2020? It sounds like he defeated Richard of Gloucester, who was nonetheless crowned as Richard III… and who survived for two years until Henry VII came along.

    (4.c.) This segues neatly into Henry VIII and his personal sacrifice (as I see it in Shakespeare) in combating via something less than open warfare a foreign power that is also exerting a subversive influence at home. Back in the eighties, the main plank in Trump’s platform on which he built his political career was the then annual $200 billion the US was giving away in foreign aid to countries such as Japan or Saudi Arabia. Saving that money has always been part of his Make America Great Again policy. Now China would appear to be looming large. Here in Europe, I doubt if even now the perceived threat from China has registered much if at all among non-English speakers not attuned to alternative media ideas. For them the ‘China virus’ is just racism, whereas the formula seems intended to explain not just what is killing America (origin) but also who and how (CCP bioweapon). Henry VIII and his children fought a losing battle, and many of their subjects doubtless had no inkling of the real war that was being fought. This is the point where one would hope any resemblance with Trump would stop.

    However, what can be said is that the parallel with the Tudor dynasty works up to a point. And that point is where Shakespeare’s message is ‘the worst is yet to come’. When things are getting worse, the impression is that they cannot get any worse, and yet they often do. Shakespeare notes this with hindsight and projects into the future, which from the standpoint of the history plays is his present. But when we project this further into Shakespeare’s future, i.e. our present, what happens? We expect still worse. But that is not necessarily what we will get. In October, November and December the days get shorter and shorter, and solely on this basis, we should expect January to be still worse. Not so. (This is the mistake of climate scientists in my humble opinion.) When we get past the solstice, we discover that the best is still to come. In other words, both optimism and pessimism can both be wrong when out of season. What we need is a calendar of the longer cycles of the local universe in order to know where we stand right now.

    Another approach would be to determine what if anything might be worse than our present plight. Some Elizabethans thought that if they were condemned to hell fire for their faith, life was no longer worth living. The most steadfast became martyrs, the least steadfast became Protestants, and a few diehards became subversives. Shakespeare’s message of subversion is that English Catholicism is the true faith, and therefore that Elizabeth has got on the wrong side of the argument in combatting it. Killing the body was never going to be a solution to an ‘error’ of the soul.

    What is worse than hell fire which might be faced by us descendants of the survivors weakened by that purge can only be one thing: various attempts to eliminate the soul altogether. This certainly corresponds to much of the woowoo stuff that is being written in our century. If so, then it is probably true this time that for humans things cannot get any worse than right now, having genuinely nothing more valuable to lose. Things can only cease or improve, and for anyone else for whom such times are good, they can only cease or become not so good.

    Yesterday, as I was finalizing my last post and about to press the submit button, Bill Ryan posted this.
    What this analysis – 40,000 troops in Washington DC, the first family leaving the White House and advising all supporters to keep well away – basically does is move America onto a hot war footing with China, and D-Day is… tomorrow! We are back with what in December I called ‘the culmination of the atomic age’

    What makes the current situation so hard to comprehend is its magnitude: it is so huge that we can only see it in terms of something smaller, such as election fraud, a bad loser. The furthest our imaginations can push out the envelope in saying ‘the worst is right now’ would have to be World War III. The reassuring thing then becomes that we have already been here: Donald Trump is JFK confronting another, bigger Cuban missile crisis. Not only that: he is also all at once Henry VIII winning Henry V’s war, Henry VI praying to stop Richard III, Henry VII intervening to stop Richard III – getting the best out of everybody. As we know, this crisis has been building up for centuries.

    What I just said – it is so huge that we can only see it in terms of something smaller – also applies to people: they are so huge that we can only see them in terms of someone smaller. The president is inevitably greater than the little incumbent with all his foibles, barely worthy of the office. However, it would be a mistake to see that person as some kind of saviour, since what makes them effective is through working as just another cog in the human machine. We are all so much bigger than we look. Such belittling is the starting point of Henry V, with those insulting tennis balls: ‘tell the pleasant Prince this mock of his hath turned his balls to gunstones’.

    The hugeness of Trump’s task is inversely proportionate: to turn nuclear warheads into golf balls. World War III has to be won with no missiles being launched. Those French nobles at Agincourt had no room to wield their lances; more of the same is required here. The odds are hugely against this happening – just as they were then. In his famous D-day minus one ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian’ speech (no, Macbeth: life is not ‘a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing’), Henry V ends with courageous words for those asleep (blissfully unaware) at home:
    Quote And gentlemen in England now abed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
    Some years ago, a French minister, Alain Peyrefitte, wrote a book I have not read, titled Quand la Chine s’éveillera, le monde tremblera: When China awakens, the world will tremble. Taking a leaf out of Shakespeare’s book in copy-editing the translation of Psalm 46,
    let me rephrase that translation: When China takes up the Spear, the world Will Shake.

    A good place for me to end this little foray into Shakespeare. See you later.


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    Default Re: Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare. (Mark Twain: "Is Shakespeare Dead?")

    In the Guardian today, Edward Docx eloquently describes what happens in the UK when the Clown assumes the Crown – the point I was clumsily making in my post #52 above .

    While the whole piece is worth reading, let me just quote the references to Shakespeare on topic in this thread:
    Quote This is Eastcheap Britain and Falstaff is in charge. It is in the two Henry IV plays that Shakespeare most clearly illuminates the gulf between his great, theatre-filling clown, Falstaff, and the young Prince Hal who will go on to become the archetype of the king – Henry V. At the mock-court of Falstaff’s tavern, we are invited to laugh and drink more ale, pinch barmaid’s bottoms, dance with dead cats and put bedpans on our heads while Falstaff entertains us with stories of his bravery and heroism that we all know are flagrant lies. Says Prince Hal to the portly purveyor of falsehoods: “These lies are like their father that begets them, gross as a mountain, open, palpable.” Meanwhile, the realm falls apart.

    Since we have no Hal and have crowned the clown instead, the play we are now watching in the UK asks an ever more pressing question: can Falstaff become Henry V and lead his country with true seriousness and purpose? Or is the vaccine-cloaked transformation now being enacted merely superficial – a shifting of the scenery?
    Quote In dramatic terms, just as death reveals the life of the kingly archetype as noble and purposeful, so the clown is revealed as foolish and meaningless. When Hamlet takes hold of Yorick’s skull (another popular clown) in the graveyard, he asks: “Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning?”

    And there’s another moment in Hamlet that’s germane here – the scene where Shakespeare has the prince instruct the visiting actors. Where Hamlet explicitly warns them about clowns. Warns them not to allow the clowns to distract the audience and make them laugh while important issues are being settled. Warns them that there are certain clowns who seek to do this merely to remain in the limelight – with no regard for either the meaning of the play, nor the understanding of the audience.

    “Let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them,” Hamlet says. “For there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too; though, in the meantime, some necessary question of the play be then to be considered: that’s villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.”

    Masks change, not archetypes. The fool still holds the stage. And pitiful ambition is precisely what we are watching.


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