2000

Re: Fops

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1956  Friday, 20 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:14:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1950 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Oct 2000 01:13:37 -0400
        Subj:   Re: fops ???

[3]     From:   Philip Tomposki <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 20 Oct 2000 09:04:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:14:41 -0500
Subject: 11.1950 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1950 Re: Fops

In response to Mr. Pixley's uncertainty: I have been persuading myself
for more decades than I care to admit that I am alive and real. To
paraphrase someone: "I grade term papers, therefore I am -- even if I
maybe wish I weren't." And I thank him for his support.

Mike Jensen's remark about not seeing mental pictures of persons and
events while reading suggests that there may be a serious difference of
psychological type here, perhaps as serious as that which separate math
from non-math people. I recall annoying one of my graduate-school
professors by asking a question about early readers' perceptions of
Beowulf (the man). When I read that Grendel could tear apart and eat up
on the spot several Viking warriors my mind conjured up an ogre of say
20-30 feet in height (rather like my mental picture of the Cyclops, but
with two eyes and a more hulking walk). When Grendel then has an arm
ripped out by Beowulf in a wrestling match, but Beowulf is not described
as being unusually large but merely immensely strong, I am at a loss.
Did contemporary listeners to this tale not notice this apparent
discrepancy?

Apparently not. But it continues to bother me just slightly every time I
teach the poem (in translation, I should add).

Finally, to drag (pun not originally intended) the discussion back to
fops -- as Marcus Dahl has done -- we still seem to be talking about
several different things at once, which the quote from Richard III
highlights.  Richard's older brother was a notorious womanizer, but
never accused (so far as I know) of being a fop, a homosexual, or a
coward. My sense of the passage he quotes ('Grim-visag'd Warre, hath
smooth'd his wrinkled Front: / And now, in stead of mounting Barbed
Steeds, / To fright the Soules of fearful Adversaries, / He capers
nimbly in a Ladies Chamber, / To the lascivious pleasing of a Lute) is
not an accusation of emasculation but a complaint based on the deformed
younger brother's jealousy of his handsome sibling.

We are dealing with at least two senses of fop: 1) dandy, male
fashion-plate or clothes-horse, with refined manners; 2) an excessively
over-dressed man with noticeably feminine mannerisms. We also have two
or more senses of effeminate: 1) cowardly (I take that to be Romeo's
meaning); 2) much the same as foppish (sense 2); 3) homosexual; 4)
womanizing.

This last sense troubles me because it seems to imply that the more a
man is interested in having sex with women the more homosexual he
becomes, at which point sense collapses. My guess is that -- accepting
the authority of those who have informed us about Elizabethan ideas on
the subject -- Romeo's sense of the word belongs to a part of the
anti-feminist tradition, still found in certain quarters, wherein any
contact with women, excepting only a violent sexual one, reduces one's
manhood and courage, herein seen mainly as a kind of wild ferocity. I
suspect that theory is also the basis of Gloucester's griping, done in
his deliciously sneering fashion: Edward is now much less of a man than
before because he is spending his time bedding court ladies rather than
butchering Lancastrians. But that doesn't make Edward queer, for obvious
reasons.

(And where does this leave the contrast of King Hamlet and his brother
Claudius that the prince makes so much of? But I've said enough
already.)

Cheers,
don bloom

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Oct 2000 01:13:37 -0400
Subject:        Re: fops ???

This deconstruction of what was a perfectly interesting discussion of
varying perceptions of dandies into a metaphysical debate about
semantics and the reality of words, or their ultimate futility,
depresses me unutterably.  This debate reminds me of nothing so much as
Fifth Century Greek colloquia questioning the ultimate reality of the
world in light of the Democritan view that the universe was noting but
atoms and empty space.  Twentieth Century scientific confirmation of
this speculation has not altered substantially the way we perceive the
universe or react to it.  We still seek pleasure and avoid pain, strive
to achieve wealth and power, make sexual bonds, beget children and fear
death.  Knowing that the pleasure of sexual arousal is due to a rush of
seratonin or that the calm feeling which follows is secondary to a flow
of released norepinephrine does nothing to mitigate the population
explosion or provide a new reading for Sonnet 129. Can't we drop this
unproductive nonsense and agree that words do have meanings; otherwise
don't bother responding to this post as you don't understand it and I
won't have the vaguest notion of what you are trying to say.

To be sure, the exact colour, nuance and emotional effect the words have
upon you vary from what they do to me, but that is not the result of the
words, but, rather, the consequence of the images evoked by the words,
which are likely to be quite similar.  When Shakespeare exhorts us to
let our imaginary powers work, to "think that when we speak of horses
you see them prancing their proud feet i' the receiving earth," the
audience will think of horses, not rabbits, and they will be prancing,
not singing madrigals.  The colour of the horse will depend on the
hearer, as will the effect it elicits... fear of the brutes,
anticipation of an exciting chase, the valor of brave men, etc.  But the
fundamental image which Shakespeare asks us to receive is clear enough
and likely to be shared by all the audience who are not on a day outing
from Bethlehem Hospital.

Larry Weiss

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 20 Oct 2000 09:04:01 EDT
Subject:        Re Fops

In the John Cage "composition" titled 4'33" a pianist sits quietly for
four minutes and thirty-three seconds.  The theory behind the piece is
that the listener can mentally construct music from the surrounding
random sounds.  This piece has been around now for almost fifty years
and shows no sign of entering the standard repertoire.  Indeed, Cage's
influence began to wan long before his death in 1992.

Musical notations, like words on a page, are ink marks on paper until a
performer gives them life.  But they are hardly neutral.  4'33" is
unlikely to be found on the program with Chopin Ballades, Beethoven
Sonatas or Debussy Preludes because Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy were
far superior at organizing sounds into emotionally charged music that we
mere mortals.  Composers know that certain sounds joined together,
articulated in a certain way, at a certain volume and with a certain
rhythm will produced a desired effect.  Similarly, the writer knows that
words joined in a certain order can evoke ideas and emotions in the
reader.  It has been said that a great actor can enthrall an audience by
reading the New York City telephone directory.  But don't we get much
more out of watching Olivier's Hamlet.

True, the listener/reader is by no means a neutral receptacle of the
artist's product.  Fans of Rap or Hard Rock may well find Chopin,
Beethoven and Debussy boring, just as Classical fans often hear Rap or
Hard Rock as cacophony.  Those unfamiliar with the vocabulary and syntax
of Renaissance English will find Shakespeare confusing and tiresome.
Even when the readers or listeners are receptive to the art, the
concepts, perceptions and emotions will likely vary among them.  But the
Finale to the 9th Symphony of Beethoven is unlikely to produce sadness
in a normal person, nor is the Finale to the Tchaikovsky's 6th likely to
produce joy.  The composer is capable of manipulating the emotions of
the listener, and the writer can similarly control, to some degree, the
thoughts and emotions of the reader.

Bill Godshalk's graduate class may differ on Iago's sexuallity, but that
is not an issue overtly dealt with in the text.  I trust none of his
students feels that Iago is a noble character, or kind, good-natured or
fair-minded.  The ink stains Shakespeare marked on paper directs the
reader/audience to a certain perception of the character.  The near
universal appeal of Shakespeare, across cultures, class, generations,
etc., demonstrate how powerful those ink stains can be.

Philip Tomposki

Re: Holinshed Anecdote

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1955  Friday, 20 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:17:25 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Holinshed Anecdote

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:08:50 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

[3]     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:42:54 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:17:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Holinshed Anecdote

Just a few, quick observations about some recent comments on this
thread:

1. Holinshed's practice, as F. J. Levy pointed out long ago, was to
include all accounts and then let the reader decide which, if any, were
true.  Shakespeare may be following the same policy in 1H4.

2. Mortimer is a man in love who dotes on Glendower's daughter. It is
POSSIBLE to see such doting as a sign of "effeminacy," but surely it is
also possible to note his happiness and joy and to conclude that he has
made a damn good bargain, and, for him, "the world is well lost."

3. Why must the Welsh song strike terror into the hearts of the English
audience?  Just because most of them would not understand it?  Doesn't
that enhance its mystery and beauty?  The play literally stops, almost
like an intermission, while the song is sung.  Surely the song is a kind
of entertainment and meant to please!

4.  In fact, I think there is more purchase in interpreting the song as
a counterpoint to the world of shrewd, political calculation that
otherwise dominates the play.  As such, the lady's song points out what
is MISSING from the world of politics: beauty, joy, and the mystery of
words delivered not out of calculation, but from the heart.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 14:08:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

Sean Lawrence writes,

'If possessing a voice indicates, metonymically, meaning things, then
Lady Mortimer has no voice to the audience, and makes only an aesthetic
appeal.'

The scene takes place (we assume) in Wales. Glendower and Lady Mortimer
are Welsh. They speak to each other on their native soil and in their
native language. If anyone is 'voiceless', or denied the capacity for
'meaning things' in this context, it is the hapless, unmanned Mortimer.
As a result, Lady Mortimer's appeal immediately becomes less aesthetic
than political.  When she utters, the callow presumption that English is
the sole language of Britain is incisively probed and exposed, and her
words shed thereafter their own intensely ironic light on the whole
steamrollering  colonialist English project. Their meaning lies in our
incomprehension of them. Our ignorance is that to which they refer.
Henry's brash dismissal of the French language at the end of Henry V
echoes the same design. These plays are to a large extent precisely
about the ways in which one culture overwhelms others. Obduracy in such
matters ill befits one who boasts Eskimo ancestry.

Terence Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 2000 11:42:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1948 Re: Holinshed Anecdote

To John Drakakis:

I do not like sarcasm. Is it possible to doubt me without it?

You are missing the clues that indicate that Shylock is a dying man. Not
a few Jews played with time and the inquisition in this way. Shylock
leaves the courtroom hastily, saying that he is "sick". But how can he
be "content"? It is not only on account of the favorable ruling, for his
true desire, but surely because he knew that he would be dead before the
advent of the baptismal font. Going back: his imagery with Tubal are the
dreams of himself as a corpse. (So also the Aeson story of Jessica -
implying that the father is to renewed by the miracle of a new birth.
This ties in with the "monkey" traded for Leah's matriarchal ring which
causes him great emotion. With Tubal's help he has Antonio incarcerated,
Why? Because he dare not have the court proceedings delayed, it may be
too late for his day in court where he hopes that by losing his
ridiculous bond, he may hopefully secure an inheritance for his kin.
(Ordinarily a Jew's out of ghetto property would be confiscated by the
state bureaucracy.) This results in the Pantalone uniform for Antonio
resembling the devil appearance of Shylock, from another theatrical
tradition. "Who is the merchant and who the Jew".

Why indeed would a member of a persecuted minority expose himself in
such a dangerous fashion, without comfort even of his servant if it was
not time for confiscation and his need urgent?

As I have mentioned before, Shylock's name among all the other
connotations is most clearly 'Shai', a present and 'lach', to you (fem.
sing). Yessica's name mentions Iska, a bond, often associated with a
dowry.

Florence Amit

Intern ref to R and J

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1953  Thursday, 19 October 2000.

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 18 Oct 2000 14:00:53 -0400
Subject:        Intern ref to R and J

In the film The Intern (dir. Michael Lange, 2000) , starring Dominique
Swaim (Lolita in the Adrian Lyne 1997 remake of Lolita), there is a
Romeo and Juliet fashion photo shoot.  It takes place on a balcony, of
course.

SHAKSPER: Who Are We?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1954  Friday, 20 October 2000.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, October 20, 2000
Subject:        SHAKSPER: Who Are We?

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

In the early days of SHAKSPER, there were not many Internet Service
Providers. Most of us had e-mail accounts through the academic
institutions with which we were associated. In most cases, members of
SHAKSPER from the States had .edu extensions to their e-mail addresses,
while members from institutions in France, for example, had .fr
extensions. This made it fairly easy to determine the international
scope of the membership.

With the proliferation the Internet, the situation is not as simple.

This morning, I was wondering who we are.

Below is the description I use in handouts and in our announcement
notice.

SHAKSPER is the international electronic conference for Shakespearean
researchers, instructors, students, and those who share their academic
interests and concerns.  It currently includes approximately 1500
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Please review it and if you have suggestions, let me know. I am
especially interested to know if I have overlooked any countries in
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Thanks,
Hardy

FYI: Renaissance Castration

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1952  Thursday, 19 October 2000.

From:           Hardy Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 18 Oct 2000 12:49:22 -0400
Subject:        FYI: Renaissance Castration

From: "Gary L. Taylor" <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

My apologies if you have already received a similar message from another
source, but I thought you might be interested in the new Castration
Contest website: http://www.routledge-ny.com/castration.html

See the site for full details, but it's related to my new book
Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood. Both the subtitle
and the title came from Routledge--my title for the book was originally
"What does castration mean?", and--as you might expect, given my own
background--it is centered in the English Renaissance. The two literary
figures with the largest number of index entries are Shakespeare and
Middleton. The description of the book in the blurb at the website (or
in the publisher's catalogues, etc.) does not call attention to this
fact, because Routledge believes that more people will buy the book if
they think it comprehensively treats the whole history of mutilated male
genitals. It's true that, in order to talk about early modern maleness,
I have to dissect what's ahistorical about Freud's castration myth, and
then have to connect Renaissance attitudes to their origins in early
Christian debates, and have to relate those early Christian debates to
wider issues in the ancient Mediterranean world. So, the book does range
from Abelard to zooarchaeology, and does radically resituate castration
as an early form of human bioengineering. But Renaissance England is its
home. And although Routledge wants to reassure people that the book is
witty (and I hope it is), Castration is not a joke book; it's more fully
documented than anything I've ever done--which I felt was necessary,
because the historical record and the biological facts about this
subject are so widely misunderstood.

Please pass the website address on to anyone who might be interested
(for whatever reasons: my policy is, don't ask, don't tell).

Since I get asked this all the time, you might also want to know that we
are now generating page-proofs of the long-awaited one- volume edition
of The Collected Works of Thomas Middleton; expect a publication
announcement from Oxford University Press sometime next year.

Gary Taylor
Director, Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies
University of Alabama

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