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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Shakespeare's Characters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2184  Wednesday, 29 November 2000

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 08:58:15 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft, <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 15:59:50 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

[3]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 19:41:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2155 Re: Fops, text-audience relationship

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 21:28:01 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

[5]     From:   Brian Vickers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 2000 15:23:50 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 11.2155 Shakespeare's characters (formerly Fops)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 08:58:15 -0600
Subject: 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

 Lucia A. Setari writes:

>I would like to put it in the following way: A dead person becomes like
>a fictional character, because he becomes part of a story which takes
>place in the survivors' minds and to some (sometimes large) extent is
>shaped by them. What a dead person did in his life not only is no longer
>changeable (nor explainable) by him, but also undergoes a sort of
>cutting in the survivors' memory, which is very like a film-cutting and
>a re-construction of a story (very like, for instance, the
>reconstruction of Hamlet's story by Shakespeare).  The dead become
>fictional characters themselves, in a way.

Auden put it this way:

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections
 .    .    .
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living. ("In Memory of W. B. Yeats")

I confess that I will miss "Re: Fops" if only because it was a reminder
that it began as a rather concrete discussion of Shakespeare's attitude
toward foppishness, with regard to specific characters (Osric, Hamlet,
Hotspur, etc.) and in general to courtiers and their manners. The drift
into ologies and Others and cognition (which begins to sound to my
Poohish brain like something about to go wrong on my car) has left me
somewhat cold. Ms. Setari's observation may not have the haunting
quality of Auden's but it has the same clarity and specificity.

What is honor? A word. What is in that word honor? what is that honor?
Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday.

Don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft, <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 15:59:50 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

Bill Godshalk points out that Shakespeare's "foul papers" are at several
removes from any text we have today.  True enough. Scribes, print house
editors, compositors, and later editors all potentially stand in the
way.  But isn't it also true, Bill, that if Gary Taylor and Michael
Warren are right, Shakespeare may have taken far more of an interest in
seeing the First Folio through press than we used to think?  The changes
between Q and F _King Lear_ suggest authorial revision and the strong
possibility that Shakespeare was much interested in getting the First
Folio right, no?

On the other hand, we might ask if this "retired" Shakespeare was the
same man who originally wrote these plays. [This is NOT the authorship
question!]

Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 19:41:54 -0500
Subject: 11.2155 Re: Fops, text-audience relationship
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2155 Re: Fops, text-audience relationship

I wish I could ignore Sean Lawrence's last post, and leave him to his
deadlines, but it just won't do.  That hypothetical starving child to
whom he and I both agree we must respond, and do so in a way that is not
"wrong" or "callous" certainly  possesses a "thereness" which I don't
want to deny.  But we recognize the "thereness" as a human being, not a
puppet or a tree which each has a "thereness" of its own, and that
recognition makes all the difference in respect of our responses, and
our judgments on the responses of others.  And that means we each carry
within us an image or at least a sense of what it is to be a human being
(or any other subject of response, or impulse to  right action).

But that inner image lies within us all, in the world of noumena and not
outside in the world of phenomena.  And so too does the sense of a
shared quality we may call "humanness,"  that prompts us in the first
place to form an opinion whether someone else is "right" or "wrong",
"sensitive" or "callous."  Such obligations as we may feel in different
siuations follow from and depend upon an already established sense of
connections that make "thereness" recognizable for whatever it is.

Since the effective source of everything that smacks of legal, moral, or
any other species of obligation or claim flows from that inner realm I
refer to as "noumenal,"  it is essential from my point of view to
develop a real sense for the difference between what is noumenal and
what is phenomenal, and for the different ways they come into our
consciousness and work upon us.   Without that sense, we are not free
agents but only the servants of past judgments made by others.
Admittedly, only a small portion of us operates in that rarefied
self-awareness required for such free action, at any given time.   But
the discussion of moral obligations, and the effect of dramatized
examples on what we may do in the future, certainly applies only to the
special moments when we can use our higher capacities, when we are free
from the familiar effects of habit, fatigue, passion, social and family
commitments, illness, drugs, or other impediments.  And it follows that,
contrary to what Sean says,  any discussion of those special moments
absolutely requires us to put the questions of epistemology and ontology
into the foreground and prior to any assumption that we know what
"ought" to be done in any situation.

Tony B

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 2000 21:28:01 -0800
Subject: 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2170 Re: Shakespeare's Characters (Was Fops)

Bill Godshalk writes:

> Cognitive research suggests that persons do choose what will enter their
> conscious worlds.  The choice itself may not be conscious, but our
> brains do not give all sensory data the same status.  The world we
> perceive is a world that is selected by the brain and limited by our
> capacity to perceive.

Ordinary experience suggests that we sometimes try not to see something,
and find ourselves unable.

> If we humans do not create "obligations," where do they come from?

Elsewhere.  I'm not sure how I could answer your question, other than to
say that I do not accept that we entirely create our worlds.  To accept
that would be to elevate people into gods.

Cheers,
Se

 

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