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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Fops
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2146  Wednesday, 22 November 2000.

[1]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Nov 2000 11:25:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2121 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Nov 2000 13:56:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2137 Re: Fops

[3]     From:   Brian Vickers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Nov 2000 14:23:38 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 11.2028 Re: Fops

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wed, 22 Nov 2000 09:54:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2121 Re: Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Nov 2000 11:25:37 -0500
Subject: 11.2121 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2121 Re: Fops

It is hard for me to imagine what Sean Lawrence means by the word
"claim" if he uses it to embrace external stimuli that "someone can
make" without volition, and subconsciously.  The imperative, Sean
senses, always comes from without, perhaps from God.  But the world
itself, nor the God we find in it, does not make claims at all.  If this
sequence of thoughts is not itself oxymoronic, it certainly vitiates the
core meaning of "claim" as a demand of some sort.

I agree with Lawrence that there are obligations that arise without a
living, external, "claimant" to make them.  But they do not arise from
"claims" at all.  It is our individual selves who feel a sense of
motivation to act..  It may flow from an external source, i.e., from
norms of behavior acknowledged in a community, which may thereupon be
"claimed" by one of its members on behalf of himself personally, or of a
third person or cause, or the community itself.  Alternatively, it may
flow from moral insight attained by the individual him/herself; in some
cases, and one thinks of various leaders from Joan of Arc, to Gandhi, to
Buddha, the insight is so compellingly valid that it attracts followers
and has a more or less enduring affect on the behavior of many people
who could not possibly have reached the same insight on their own.

But the pivotal fact here is the difference I mentioned earlier in this
thread, between the inner and outer, noumenal and phenomenal worlds of
reality that meet and can unite within the human being.  For the Great
Individual (the I Ching calls him the "superior man") with a capacity
for moral insight, the sense of obligation or sense for right action is
the result of "intuition," "inspiration," or the like.  For most
followers, it then becomes an external norm, but for those special
disciples with the capacity to rise to the master's level of insight,
the norm can become a personal, internal moral compass.  And they
respond, not to any "claim" at all, but only to their dead-on moral
sense for right action.  It is the follower in each of us who looks to
an Other for motivation, and the personal genius in each of us that
locates it within our enlightened selves.  Every  "claim" limits one's
freedom to develop intuition and inspiration, and in consequence it
replaces morality with obedience.

Only the lowest and least conscious level of motivation can be described
in terms of claims and obligations.  However, that is not to say we do
not all depend on such motivations every day, and in most situations; we
are far from what we can be.  But there are other, higher kinds of
motivation which can only be obscured by reducing them to those terms.
The process of growing up is in a real sense also a process of weaning
ourselves from a world composed - for our best interests and even
survival - entirely of claims and obligations and gradually entering a
world of more and more free moral choice.  It is a subtle transition we
frequently see in the contrast between Shakespeare's protagonists and
the supporting characters who share his or her problem in some lesser
degree, and which we recognize with almost subliminal insights about
ourselves and the world.  Once these relationships and insights enter
our noumenal world and reshape our understanding or motivate our present
or future action they have indeed stepped from the pages of the script
and become part of our real world

Neither a beautiful landscape nor a starving child make "claims" on me
to engage in ecological or humanitarian activity, yet people all over
the world do both, with passion and energy.  It is one's inner sense of
one's own relation to nature, or to another human being that motivates
action.  But if I do not have a sense of the noumenal world within, if I
do not recognize it as a form of reality in my life, I will feel the
need to create an Other in order to explain what is really my very own.
I may, of course, for the purpose of discussion treat myself as if
divided into parts (somewhat as Plato uses the device of a republic in
order to explain how the philosopher-king potential within a human
relates to those lesser human qualities and capacities that the king
must recognize, direct, and manage), and locate the source of my
motivation in something I call conscience; but I cannot separate myself
from it in the long run without lapsing into schizophrenic illness.
Perhaps the conscience seems to reflect a higher levels of awareness
than my everyday activities entail, but it is still my own.  But none of
these truly moral issues involve "claims" upon us of any sort, beyond
our impulse to be true to ourselves.  So long as I continue to look for
an Other to follow, I train myself for extended infancy, and a life of
servitude.  The fiction that there can be a non-volitional,
subconscious, and external claim to which we are somehow bound in
obedience shifts attention from our noumenal world to an entirely
imaginary (and therefore also noumenal) Other of our own creation that
masquerades as a phenomenon.  It is an exercise which only creates a
barrier to the kind of self-awareness that makes morality possible.

Tony B

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Nov 2000 13:56:35 -0500
Subject: 11.2137 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2137 Re: Fops

Terence Hawkes writes:

"The lines (1.6.14-18) are
certainly not 'empty'. In fact they contain a number of carefully
placed and deftly structured hints, clearly pointing them in the
direction of the riddling, 'doubling' style of the Witches. In crucially
linking Lady Macbeth with those 'imperfect speakers', they not only
intensify her commitment to evil, they lend it a specific colour,
confirm 'imperfect speaking' as one of its central manifestations, and
make that a major concern of the action."

He might have added that Macbeth picks up the doubling language when he
notes that Duncan is "here in double trust" (1.7.12), a double trust
that will be doubly violated, i.e., by both host and hostess, and,
further, that the action of the play has a way of doubling itself, or,
if you will, doubling back upon itself.

Yours,
Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Vickers <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Nov 2000 14:23:38 +0100
Subject: Re: Fops
Comment:        SHK 11.2028 Re: Fops

Terence Hawkes challenged me to point out one linguistic marker showing
that Shakespeare rendered Lady Macbeth's insincerity directly in the
language, so I offered him three. How does he respond? In his usual
bluff, down-to-earth way he dismisses my reply as 'a dreary parade of
the usual suspects', and invokes the jargon of poststructuralism to
demonize D. L. Chambers (1903) for suggesting a link between Lady
Macbeth's use of feminine endings and a courtly style as 'essentialist
nonsense' - a reflex reaction showing, once again, that exponents of
Current Literary Theory are blind to both older and newer approaches to
literature outside their narrow remit.

Hawkes must know that the terms 'masculine ending / feminine ending'
appeared in 16th century metrical theory (from the French?) to describe
the regular blank verse line / one with an extra syllable. No doubt the
metaphor now seems unpolitically correct to some, but for most people
working in prosodic studies the term is accepted, and useful. More
important, a writer's tendency to use feminine endings to a greater or
lesser degree has been a valuable marker in studies of Elizabethan
drama, both as contributory evidence in establishing a writer's
chronology, and in authorship studies to define and distinguish the work
of Shakespeare from that of Fletcher or Middleton, for instance. Recent
scholars who have used it for these purposes include Cyrus Hoy,
MacDonald P. Jackson, and David Lake - 'all the usual suspects'?
Feminine endings form part of the quantitative approach to metrics used
by Marina Tarlinskaja in *Shakespeare's Verse. Iambic Pentameter and the
Poet's Idiosyncrasies* (1987) - although she does sometimes call them
'non-masculine endings'.

But the deficiency of these quantitative studies is that they
(necessarily) ignore individual instances, in which Shakespeare uses all
available linguistic resources - vocabulary, grammar, syntax, rhetoric,
versification - to show characters trying to gain their own ends,
co-operatively, or at the expense of others, and so on. Shakespeare
critics have so far made few attempts to study how these resources are
used in the basic speech situation of drama, and this is where recent
developments in linguistic theory are so valuable, such as Paul Grice's
collected papers, *Studies in the Way of Words* (1989), Dan Sperber and
Deirdre Wilson, *Relevance. Communication and Cognition* (1986), and
Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, *Politeness.  Some universals in
language usage* (1987), together with the large literature on pragmatics
since 1957 - 'all the usual suspects'? These works approach language in
terms of actual speech-situations, showing how, in real life, speakers
draw on the complex implicit conventions governing linguistic
communication, attempting to control the listener's uptake or
inference.  Shakespearian drama, of course, offers far more complex
sequences of manipulated communication than linguistic theory has yet
dealt with, so it is a real challenge to scholars working in this field
to apply these new approaches while still producing something
comprehensible to non-linguists.  One can certainly describe the
utterances of Lady Macbeth in the terms that Werner Br

 

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