The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1081 Monday, 28 June 1999.
From: Gabriel Egan <
Date: Saturday, 26 Jun 1999 19:31:46 +0100
Subject: Re: Buggering and Biggering
Concerning accurate quotation, Harry Hill says that I
> hate the word "correct", of course . . . I use it in
> the sense of "accurately recreating the original without
> editorial interpretation".
No-one is advocating sloppiness, but your sense of the value of fidelity
is questionable. You accept, I'm sure, that the texts you are using are
already editorially interpreted, so it's not the fruit of the
uber-phallus you're committing to memory. Wouldn't you agree that a
certain looseness with the words-but a fidelity to the ideas-might be a
more Shakespearian principle?
> I take it you are willing to agree that other cultures
> and social strata than your own are permitted, within
> their talents and possibilities, to differentiate
> between and [sic!] and low artistic achievements, however "well"
> or "badly".
I'm sorry to appear dense on this, but really this highly mutable term
'culture' is throwing me off. If 'culture' is the good stuff, and it is
the ethnically-shared collection of good and bad stuff, aren't we just
playing humpty-dumpty with the word?
>Sean: your response didn't clear this one up either. Do you
>see no problem here? (If none, I will desist.)
I asked if Harry's advocating of us all being "buggered and biggered"
meant that Shakespeare's merit was penis-like. Harry answered:
> Of course not, you silly boy. Any creative reproductive
> tool will suffice, of whatever size or gender.
A person can't be buggered by a vagina, uterus, or ovaries. Your word
'tool' is illuminating; this phallo-centrism isn't simply a failure to
balance the genders and your use of a female pronoun ("rightly calls
herself cultured") doesn't make it all okay. Here's what's problematic
about what you're saying...
In Plato's academy the students weren't allowed to sit down: they were
required to walk around and talk. The idea was that speech was primary,
it articulated the soul, and writing a pale imitation of speech lacking
in the important attribute of presence. Moreover writing is revisable
and hence suspect. (Doesn't this phono-centric tradition feature in the
claim that Shakespeare almost never blotted his manuscripts?) This Greek
educational tradition was unashamedly misogynistic and promoted forced
buggery of boys as an learning experience. Doesn't your use of the word
'biggered' have this connotation of educative anal enlargment? English
single-sex schools have a terrible inheritance of this nasty tradition,
and almost weekly over here another teacher is found guilty of sexually
abusing the children. What you write about Shakespeare "buggering and
biggering" us when we commit his words to memory fits right into this
horrid phono- and phallo-centric tradition.
PS Apologies to anyone who has taken Derrida-101.