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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Seeking Enlightenment
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0205  Tuesday, 1 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Patrick Dolan <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 08:49:40 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

[2]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 08:57:26 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

[3]     From:   Peter T. Hadorn <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 09:02:15 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

[4]     From:   Norman J. Myers <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 11:24:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0165 Shakespeare and Pop Culture (Seeking
Enlightenment

[5]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 12:03:03 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patrick Dolan <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 08:49:40 -0600
Subject: 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

This thread is fascinating and more than a bit amusing.

In his day, Shakespeare's plays would have been considered inappropriate
objects of university study would they not? After all, plays, including
Shakespeare's, were clearly too popular, too vulgar and-on some
accounts-too indecent (boys in women's clothes, don't you know) for
university study.

Didn't/doesn't common sense dictate that the university should teach the
Greek and Latin, theology, philosophy (including natural), medicine and
some law? None of this popular, pandering, low-class stuff like history
and vernacular literature. Jeez, doesn't anyone have any standards any
more?

Yes, there'd be a smiley face here, if I could abide them,

Pat

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 08:57:26 -0600
Subject: 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

Sean Lawrence writes:

<I kind of wonder, more broadly, whether self-exploitation <is better
than
<any other kind.  Is selling yourself into slavery better than <being
<sold?  Is it less a violation of rights?  Shouldn't self-<respect
follow
<from respect for others?

I am having trouble with this argument:  it seems that self-exploitation
would be worse than any other kind because it is intentional and
knowingly done.  It would also seem that self-respect should pre-date
respect for others-not the other way around.  If one does not respect
himself, how can he respect others?

Judy Craig

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter T. Hadorn <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 09:02:15 -0600
Subject: 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

I find it interesting that so many of postings to this thread seem to
think that every time Burt (or someone else) makes note of a
Shakespearean reference in pornography it is to be seen as an invitation
to go view that pornography.  Or that we might use that source as a door
through which we might encourage students to further their acquaintance
with the bard.  I find such attitudes to be particularly myopic.
Rather, I find them interesting for what they reveal about our culture's
attitudes about the bard.

I found two earlier postings interesting (neither of which I have kept,
so I am writing from memory).  One compared the number of Shakespeare
references in popular culture to those of Austen.  And I found that
comparison interesting.  Why ARE there so many adoptions of Shakespeare
and of no one else?  Why is he used by us in these ways?

Second, and here my memory is particularly faulty.  Someone suggested
that if the subject were slavery rather than pornography, then we would
be much more reticent about making these postings (the poster implying
that all of these references merely appeal to our prurient interests).
I disagree.  If at a slave auction we kept hearing such statements as
"How much am I bid for this Othello here," I would find that
interesting-again as an example of how culture has adopted Shakespeare
to its own uses.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman J. Myers <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 11:24:12 -0500
Subject: 11.0165 Shakespeare and Pop Culture (Seeking
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0165 Shakespeare and Pop Culture (Seeking
Enlightenment)

A wonderful take on the dangers of too-much relating of popular culture
to Shakespeare to make the plays relevent is found in, of all things, a
delightful Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, "The Last Action Hero."  The
whole movie is almost Pirandelloan in its illusion/reality take.
Needless to say, it was a box office bomb.

Briefly, the real hero is a young boy who's enamored of a series of
movies in which Arnold plays his patented super cop.  He has a friend,
an old projectionist, who lets him get a sneak preview of the latest
flick in the series.  In the "Shakespeare" segment, after seeing the
movie early in the morning, the kid comes into his classroom where the
teacher, played by Joan Plowright, is trying to get her class excited
about "Hamlet."  She says something like, "murder, sex, swordplay,
ghosts and in the end everybody's dead.

Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' couldn't be more exciting."  She points out that
though Hamlet may seem incapable of taking action, "he is, in fact, one
of the first action heroes."  She then is going to show a cutting from
the film version starring Laurence Olivier. ("Perhaps some of you
remember him from the Polaroid commercial.  Or as Zeus in 'Clash of the
Titans'.") It's the scene where Claudius is praying and Hamlet's behind
him.  The class giggles.  The kid, however, leans forward in mounting
excitement as the music swells and Hamlet pulls out his dagger.  Of
course, the music stops and Hamlet pauses.  The kid is confused and says
to the screen, "Don't talk! Just do it!" Then we cut to a black and
white view of a bare-chested Arnold dressed in vaguely Elizabethan garb
as he lights his cigar.  "Hey, Claudius," says Arnold in his unique
accent snapping the lighter shut, "you killed my father. Big mistake."
He picks Claudius (who looks exactly like the actor in Olivier's film)
up by his doublet and flings him out a window.  Next Arnold is seated in
the cliche pose holding Yorick's skull while the voice over narrator
says, "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark, and Hamlet's takin'
out the trash." Arnold flings the skull into the head of an attacking
guard.  Next we see Arnold using his sword to run through a bunch of
other attackers.  Next Arnold rips open a curtain to reveal, probably,
Polonius, who tells him "Stay thy hand, fair prince."  Arnold replies,
"Who says I'm fair," and blows him away with a Uzi, which  he uses to
blast still more attackers. (The flames from the lighter, the Uzi, and
explosions are in color while the rest of the "preview" is in black and
white.)  Next Arnold's riding up the palace steps on a horse, leaving
the customary devistation in his wake,  while the narrator says, "No
one's going to tell this sweet prince goodnight."  Finally, Arnold is
about to light another cigar saying "To be or not to be."  He snaps his
lighter shut, saying, "Not to be," and we get a long shot of the
Elsinore of Olivier's film blowing up, which shot dissolves into a close
up on the boy's TV screen of Wylie Coyote after another unsuccessful,
backfiring attempt to blow up the Roadrunner.

Of course, the teacher's mistake is overdoing the relevance bit.  The
boy's "mistake" lies in not realizing that the "talk" is the "action."
But how could he make such a realization when nothing in his world has
prepared him for such a concept?

Norman J. Myers, Professor Emeritus
Theatre Department
Bowling Green State University

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 12:03:03 -0800
Subject: Re: Seeking Enlightenment
Comment:        SHK 11.0189 Re: Seeking Enlightenment

Some of you don't want to get it.  You keep saying that references to
Shakespeare in popular culture do not help us understand the plays, as
if this were some great insight, despite pervious acknowledgments that
is true, and good reasons given why these references are worth noting
anyway.  It happened again in Monday's posts.

I trust you will be further annoyed by my mentioning the new book by
John Updike, Gertrude and Claudius, $23.00, from Knopf.  It is a
prequel.

My real reason is to inform those who care.  If any one was annoyed, you
should just move on to the next post and let those who want to map these
things do so.

Mike Jensen
 

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