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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0560  Monday, 29 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Mar 1999 16:12:51 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

[2]     From:   Tom Reedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Mar 1999 14:21:40 -0600
        Subj:   Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

[3]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Mar 1999 18:43:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

[4]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Mar 1999 21:02:36 +0000
        Subj:   Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

[5]     From:   Ali Ahmad Al-Ghamdi <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Mar 1999 00:40:44 +0300
        Subj:   THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Mar 1999 16:12:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

Some of you who have contributed to this thread might be interested in
my article "The Motion of Our Human Blood Almost Suspened: The desirable
consciousness of the actor" in PERFORMING ARTS INTERNATIONAL due out in
a week.

Listen...Lee Strasberg was wrong about feeling, and misunderstood
Stanislavski was right, and Norman Mailer did not 'impale [his] guts on
the typewriter' as he said he did. Writers are like actors in this: they
'produce the required emotions at the advertised hour---the chief secret
of our art' [Stanislavski].

"Where an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its
place."
--Goethe

Harry Hill
Montreal.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Reedy <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Mar 1999 14:21:40 -0600
Subject:        Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

Stephanie Hughes said:
<snip>
>>I just finished a novel and a couple of editors have
>>remarked that they can tell from the writing that I lived in Tennessee
>>for a number of years and that I'm an avid sportsman.  I've flown over
>>Tennessee 4 or 5 times and I've never hunted in my life.
>
>Good for you.  You did your research well, and no doubt it adds a great
>deal of interest. But the thing that makes your novel live or not live
>has to do with character development and plot, which have to do with
>experience.

And it's been established that the emotional experiences of most people
(love, hate, fear, anger, sadness, loss, etc.) differ mainly in degree,
not kind.  In other words, just as it is not necessary for the reader to
have experienced the loss of a child to empathize with story about
losing a child, it is also not necessary for the writer or director or
actor to have experienced that loss in order to portray it
realistically.  The writer draws upon and amplifies his past experience
of grief in order to imaginatively construct the feelings of losing a
child and create the artistic cues so that his audience can reconstruct
the experience by relating it to their past experience of grief.  The
emotional underpinning of art is open to all; the imagination to produce
it is not.

>At the heart of your book are experiences, and whether these
>depict your personal experiences directly or not, at their core they
>must be derived from them in some way.
<snip>
>
>Stephanie Hughes

Apparently not only am I not a great artist, but I'm not a great critic,
either, because the last sentence makes no sense to me in the context of
your argument.  It seems to me you're saying that it makes no difference
whose experience the work of art is based upon, as long as it's based on
someone's experience.  This directly contradicts your contention that
all "true" or "great" works of art are based upon the artist's personal
experience.  Of course, I've had a hard time following most of your
arguments, as they do seem to shift and blur a bit.

Tom Reedy

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Mar 1999 18:43:08 -0500
Subject:        Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

Stephanie Hughes writes:

"The issue is that none of what we know has anything to say about his
life as a writer."

I don't get the question. Is the problem that we don't know where he
ordered his quill pens? We haven't any invoices for foolscap? What is
the life of a writer? Something other than the life of a man? Yes.
How??  I know it's an issue I would never personally raise because I
watch Will work every time I pick up one of his scripts and it's a
renewable joy.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Mar 1999 21:02:36 +0000
Subject:        Re: THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

Just as I bowed out of this discussion came the deluge. There's no way I
can respond thoughtfully to everything here, so I'll try to briefly
address those issues common to more than one poster.

By addressing issues that touch on the authorship question we have slid
into the kind of "he said-she said" dialogue that gets us nowhere but
mad. If this is my fault all I can say is that I regard these issues as
important throughout literature or any artistic endeavor, and if they
inevitably lead to the authorship question, all the more reason it
should be given serious consideration. Perhaps the editorial in the
April Harper's will mean that Oxfordian scholars will find it easier to
get published.

Books are the only way to deal with the complex issues involved. I can
state my view in a post, and others can state theirs, but in order to
get to something more substantial, a more substantial forum is required,
and that means a book.  There has been a great deal written by orthodox
scholars on the subject of the vast amount of learning shown by the
works of Shakespeare. To have this brought together under one cover
would be useful for everyone. Hopefully we will see that happen at some
point in the not too distant future.

Again (and again and again), never have I said, never have I thought,
that the leatherworker's son from Stratford could not, because of his
lowly birth and lack of educational opportunities, have achieved immense
growth and intellectual development. There are plenty of instances that
show that this is perfectly possible, even if our common sense and
experience of life did not tell us so.
The point is that had he, in fact, BEEN this kind of achiever, we would
have a record of it, which we do not. We have enough on Jonson to see
the rough outlines of his development, and we have enough on Christopher
Marlowe to see the same. We know that Samuel Daniel achieved much of his
development through his relationship with the Pembrokes and their
exemplary library at Wilton. We can even trace the contacts that enabled
someone as minor as John Florio to achieve the status of an important
writer (in his time). There is nothing of the sort on Shakespeare. Just
a handful of isolated facts that dangle unconnected to a living,
breathing presence of the sort that the non-official contemporary
records reflect on the lives and personalities of Kyd, Peele, Jonson,
Daniel, Chapman and so forth.

Where are the loaded offhand comments about Shakespeare from the letters
of John Chamberlain, comments of the sort that he was wont to make about
other writers such as Jonson and Bacon? Where is the non-official record
of Shakespeare's involvement at Court that we see in contemporary
documents about the other playwrights whose works were consistently
presented at Court, such as Jonson and Inigo Jones?  If Michael Drayton
was Shakespeare's friend, why did he forget to mention him in his piece
on Stratford in his book on Warwickshire?  Certainly we are free to use
conjecture to fill in the missing spaces, but we are just as free to
decide that this vacuum represents, not material that's been lost, but
material that was never there in the first place.

>I have followed this debate with much interest, and would like to offer
>an experience which to me both discredits and nullifies the argument
>that an author must have experienced that which he writes of.
>For the past three years I have been working with a Chinese woman who
>has written two novels in English about life in Mao's China.  She came
>of age during this time.

This is a fascinating adventure that Nancy Charleton relates (and which
I clipped to save space), yet I fail to see that it makes her point.  Is
the novel NOT about the woman's own experiences, or experiences that
touch closely on her own? In any case, as I have stated a number of
time, my point is about emotional experience, not externals such as
place, whether China, Tennessee or Illyria.

The argument that one writes always out of one's own experience can't be
proven. It seems obvious to me, but just as obviously it does not seem
obvious to others. My father was color blind and swore that my mother's
bathing suit was brown when it was, in fact, green, and no amount of
argument would convince him that it was he who was seeing wrong. Am I
the one who's color blind here? Perhaps. I'm tired of the argument,
although I very much appreciate the many interesting personal anecdotes
that it has inspired, and the many thoughtful responses from people for
whom I feel a deep respect.

Stephanie Hughes

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ali Ahmad Al-Ghamdi <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Mar 1999 00:40:44 +0300
Subject:        THINKING, Feeling and Meaning, and Writing

Matthew Gretzinger  wrote:

"I agree that you can't separate a human from her emotions, but it does
not necessarily follow that emotion is the primary impetus of art.
Emotion is often the subject of art, and some art is wrought to be the
cause of emotion in others.  My thought is that artists need a certain
coolness - the aforementioned distance - in order to practice the
technique or craft that makes the form that engenders the feeling."

I would like to refer him to William Wordsworth's definition of poetry:
"A spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It is emotion recollected
in tranquility."

Cheers,
Ali
 

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