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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Times Article
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2160  Thursday, 13 September 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 14:42:45 -0400
        Subj:   Times Article

[2]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 17:51:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2147 Re: Times Article

[3]     From:   Janie Cheaney <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 22:06:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2147 Re: Times Article


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 14:42:45 -0400
Subject:        Times Article

Dear Louis:

Are new Ph.D.'s really "of the wicked"? Time was, you know, when every
Ph.D.  knew the classics backwards and forwards, when phonology was
king, and when everyone could read Plato in the original!

Oh, what a great falling off is there now!

Is it really true that apprehending beauty depends on having absorbed
all of the past beforehand? Is that possible? Desirable?

Actually, I think my junior colleagues are pretty sharp, even if they
didn't have to diagram every episode of Spenser's FQ, as I had to.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 17:51:04 -0500
Subject: 12.2147 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2147 Re: Times Article

Dr. Burt, "amused" by my "opposition between Shakespeare...and
Shakespeare porn," notes that Shakespeare is often given to
obscenities.  I suggest that it is one thing to have the characters talk
"in character," it is quite another to show the actors copulating on
film (and for several minutes!)  - and with the obligatory cum-shot to
prove the event, as is the case in every porn film - where the
surrounding story is merely the  setting for the sex rather than the
reverse.  The "bardcore" films Dr. Burt cites, Branagh's Hamlet,
Fishburne's Othello, Downey's scene in Richard III, certainly do not go
so far; there is never the impression given that the sex scene - the
essence of modesty by comparison with those of a porn film - is other
than the exposition of the story, rather than the other way around. Nor
is their going so far as they do to be taken as carte blanche for the
porn film's biology-lab/stud farm excesses of insertions and
ejaculations, about which Ms. Charlton has so wisely asked, "where is
the character development, the plot necessities, the wit, the wordplay,
the poetry? The love?"

The presentation of such clinically accurate matters, in porn films
addressed with the camera's close concentration, and with insistent,
prolonged attention, to the crotches of the "actors" distracts from any
possible comment on the story of the characters they presume to portray,
for it not only interminably "stops the clock" on the larger action of
the story but inevitably draws our attention to the actors and away from
the characters. Even Peckinpah's bladders-of-blood school of film does
not go so far as to actually kill the actors - I understand we have
"snuff" films for those of such sick interests.  Does Dr. Burt,
thrilling to the consistency of his position here in this matter of
pornography, also endorse such "snuff" practices in the presentation of
stories about murders?

I regret that I will not be able to see one of the Doctor's Shakespeare
porn films, but I would like to read a paper on that subject by one of
his students whose work he has praised to us.  If he would be so good as
to publish such a paper on a site to which he could here refer us all, I
for one would like to see such scholarship and take advantage of the
opportunity it might give to reconsider any questioning criticism of his
course.

      L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janie Cheaney <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Sep 2001 22:06:51 -0500
Subject: 12.2147 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2147 Re: Times Article

Just one thought relating to this subject:

It's always been my understanding that pornography is prurient by
definition--designed to push one button, over and over.  Some porn is
classier than others (in that case it's called Erotica) but the button
is the same.

Contrary to Dr. Burt's assertion, it comes as no surprise to many
"puritans" or "conservatives" that Shakespeare was very interested in
sex--maybe even more than the average Englishman of those bawdy times.
But he was interested in other things, too--politics, power, virtue,
honor, evil, vice, justice--humanity.  The pairing of Titania and Bottom
gave him an opportunity to contrast earth and ether, the mundane and the
magical--not just speculate on how a fairy does it with a donkey.  The
latter, however, was probably the chief interest of the producers of A
Midsummer Night's Cream.  I study Shakespeare for the same reasons I
don't study slasher movies or porn: they are reductionist; he's just the
opposite.

JBC

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