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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: "What's in a name?"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1710  Sunday, 8 July 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 06 Jul 2001 08:38:48 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 6 Jul 2001 10:32:47 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Friday, 6 Jul 2001 21:40:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1683 Re: "What's in a name?"

[4]     From:   Rainbow Saari <
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        Date:   Saturday, 7 Jul 2001 16:24:18 +1200
        Subj:   Re. What's in a name

[5]     From:   Ira Zinman <
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        Date:   Sat, 7 Jul 2001 16:43:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 06 Jul 2001 08:38:48 -0700
Subject: 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"

Sean, you are hilarious, but I'm not writing to you.

Robin, you also had a couple of very funny lines, and as usual your
points were cogently argued.  One bit of hesitancy was not warranted.

>Evidence (in case, as I rather assumed I had, I didn't make this clear
>earlier) is the primary source material.  In the context of this
>discussion, predominantly written texts dating from the sixteenth
>century, either in their entirety or excerpted in dictionaries.

But you have.  I have.  Others have.  The fault, dear Robin, is not in
ourselves, but in Mr. Taylor, who fails to accept this point.  You have
done well.  Very well.

>The penumbra of the debate isn't (at least for me) over the nature of
>evidence, but as to how to treat this evidence -- the inferences we >make
>from and around this, the interpretative strategies we bring to >bear. This
>certainly involves "certain crucial questions", which I >hope that I
>haven't closed down.  However, general presuppositions are a different (and
>not necessarily more important) issue.

Exactly, and you have not closed them down.  You have gone out of your
way to include them in the mix, whilst insisting that a textual
precedent in English is the only compelling evidence.  A precedent is
required for every word besides *Peter* by every scholar I know about.
Why should *Peter* be the exception?  You have been very even handed,
especially in light of Taylor's insulting and point-missing Thursday
post.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Friday, 6 Jul 2001 10:32:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"

Abigail Quart notes that a rose

> as a flower, [...] has been sacred to many
> goddesses, including Aphrodite and the current Queen
> of Heaven, Mary. It was also used to describe
> Elizabeth I of England. The pattern of its inner
> petals resembles a woman's intimate parts which is
> probably how "rose" became a synonym for those, too.

Abigail is right to remind us of the many resonances carried by the
"rose".  Just a couple of comments/questions...

Is "rose" really a synonym for female genitalia?  I missed that one
somehow (I'm not being sarcastic!  I'm legitimately wondering!).  I
always thought it was more the idea of a "flower" in a more general
sense.  Also, I'm a little puzzled in that Shakespeare seems to identify
young men just as often, or more often, with roses, than he does women.

Flowers and vaginas crop up together (so to speak) in many cultures, but
the flowers can be radically different.  In some of the Pacific cultures
in which I have lived, the preferred flower metaphor for the vagina is
an orchid, also because they are thought to resemble each other.  But
orchids are not at all like roses (dare I say again that we see things
-- even bodies -- as our cultures teach us to see them?).

And on a last floral note: not only do daffodils have too many syllables
(Hi, Stevie!).  But, for specifically English contexts ("Candle in the
Wind," for instance) they would not suit as they are the flower of Wales
(yes, I know Diana was Princess of Wales but that hardly makes her
Welsh).  And much beloved and iconically reproduced here in Wales they
are, too!

Cheers,
Karen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Friday, 6 Jul 2001 21:40:13 -0400
Subject: 12.1683 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1683 Re: "What's in a name?"

> "Deconstruct." That's from the philosophy that insists that if something
> can be shown to have more than one meaning it's impossible to know the
> meaning and therefore it has no meaning?

I doubt that any deconstructionist ever said anything was meaningless.
As Takashi Kozuka points out, it is one thing to call attention to the
arbitrariness of the signifier/signified relation, and another to decide
what to do with it.  The problem that deconstruction addresses is the
illusion on which the use of language depends that the sign is fixed.
What I find interesting about it is that the illusion seems to wear thin
at particular moments of cultural history.

> Which was invented by a guy
> trying really hard to prove that Nazi propaganda he wrote during World
> War II really wasn't?

It was invented by poets; philosophers only try to explain it.

Clifford

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rainbow Saari <
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Date:           Saturday, 7 Jul 2001 16:24:18 +1200
Subject:        Re. What's in a name

To respond to Stevie Gamble's post of 3/ 7

You are quite right in saying I neglected to note your use of the word
'apparent' before 'conviction' when I asked

>  Where did I state my 'conviction' that books on English folk customs are
>  sources of 'unimpeachable  evidence'?

I did so because, while this supposed 'conviction' of mine was
'apparent' to you, it was not so to me. There was no slight to you
intended in my omission of the word 'apparent' .

I did say

>  One of the customs associated with Lammastide, my book on English folk
>  customs tells me was that for the duration of the the Lammas Fair
>  couples could conduct a 'trial marriage' and if at the end of the period
>  either party was unhappy with the other, they could part with no ill
>  feeling or obligation. The book doesn't tell me if this practice existed
>  in Elizabethan times. It would be interesting to know.

Being of a trusting nature, even (admittedly) to the point of
gullibility at times, I was unaware that I should mistrust the
information provided by this book. You said

>>  'Unfortunately books on English folk customs are not noted, in general,
>>  for their accuracy...

but I, unaware of this, and curious to know more about this 'custom'
searched for further information on the Web, finding that the Christian
Lammas-tide/ Lammas Fair celebrations are probably derived  from the
pagan Aug 1st celebration of Lughnasad, in which 'Tailltean marriages',
or trial marriages of a year and a day's duration, were commonly agreed
on on Aug 1st; the practice was also known as 'handfasting'. If , a year
and a day later, either party was unhappy with the alliance the
'marriage ' was dissolved, with no ill feeling, and any resulting
children being the responsibility of the father to bring up. If both
parties were happy then the marriage received the blessing of a Priest.
This practice was, apparently, a common form of marriage in Ireland and
Scotland until the 1500s. I found several sites that mentioned the
English version of this practice, as being a 'trial marriage' of a
shorter duration, that of the Lammas Fair's length, but the practice was
apparently discontinued during the Reformation.

Now as we all know, it is wise to treat information found on the Web
with suspicion, but until I have an opportunity to access a University
Library for some scholarly commentary on all this, I note that Brian
Day, the writer of my book ' A Chronicle of English Folk Customs',
(Hamlyn, 1998), seems to have plenty of company in believing such a
custom once existed.

In my Post on 30/6 I said

I think the issue you raise, Stevie, of the dangers of childbirth is a
good one and I acknowledge that I did not think of this when looking at
this scene. However, when I said I thought that Capulet's remark

>  "And too soon marred are those so early made" [might] hark back to the
>  difficulties of his own marriage to a sexually unwilling bride?"

I was not proposing he was "brooding over his sex-life", rather that
both he and his wife might have experienced difficulties if she had been
a sexually unwilling bride. Since I did not fully explain this at the
time I can hardly blame you for not taking my meaning. However, since
Juliet's mother offers her daughter the remark "By my count, I was your
mother much upon these years that you are now a maid" in order to
encourage her to accept Paris, not to dissuade her from the idea, I
wonder how sound an argument this can be.

To which you replied "What argument?"  I can see that I could have made
what I was trying to say here clearer. Juliet's mother's remark about
having been a mother herself at an early age, offered to persuade Juliet
to the marriage, seems to contradict the, not unreasonable, proposal
that fear of the risks of childbirth at an early age might lie behind
Capulet's ( and presumably his wife's) objection to such an early
marriage.

When Lady Capulet states "By my count, I was your mother..." etc. I
don't perceive the pun on count/cunt to be one the 'character' is
consciously making; I see it as operating at the level of dramatic irony
if  and/or when it is picked up on by an audience member.

The book by Olwen Hufton you recommend, Stevie, sounds good. I'll try to
track it down.

( Despite my - apparent to you, not to me- inability to learn.)

While I am gratified that you can say about me

" I'm pretty convinced that if someone was sawing your head off with a
very blunt razor I would regard that as bad, even if you do occasionally
say silly things..."

and I have no doubt that I would choose to return the favor, it seems to
me that you fail to recognise that in deciding to 'regard' the above
action 'as bad' you have, in your thinking on this matter, made a
choice. You have chosen to believe that action would be  'bad'. You
could choose to see it as 'good', however unlikely that might seem, but
the option to decide what you believe about it is yours.

There are those who choose to believe, despite the existence of all
sorts of 'evidence', that the Earth is flat. I don't agree with them but
I acknowledge their right to hold their belief. Many choose to believe
that Christ died on the cross for our sins. Many believe that the
present Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of the last Dalai Lama. Leontes
in the Winter's Tale, and Othello both 'choose to believe' in their
wives (non- existent) infidelity. Their option.

My view " that what we believe is always a matter of choice" does not,
to my way of thinking, mean that learning cannot take place, that "
there can be no debate, no discussion, no evaluation, no consideration,
no interchange of ideas, no SHAKSPER, no nothing..."  as you put it. We
make our choices based on what we think is acceptable evidence, pro or
con, and as this thread had shown what is acceptable as 'evidence' may
vary widely from person to person.

I don't agree with your statement that  "There's nothing either good or
bad but thinking makes it so " is the "ultimate cop-out" and I fail to
see the relevance of the supposed 'fact' as stated by you "that some
deeply unpleasant people have used and abused that quotation...".( Am I
to understand that if I 'use' that quotation I'll be associated with
these 'deeply unpleasant people'? If so, thank you for your concern.)

I think it unfortunate that you seem to feel a need to sneer at me (how
else do I interpret your " You might like to bear in mind...that finding
a quote from Hamlet doesn't impress."?) and if you truly consider it a
waste of your time 'to bother to comment on' apparent absurdities in my
post, that is regrettable. I know myself to be capable of changing my
thinking about things, my beliefs, when I become aware of what I
consider to be good reason to alter them.

All the best,
Rainbow

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ira Zinman <
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Date:           Sat, 7 Jul 2001 16:43:21 EDT
Subject: 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1701 Re: "What's in a name?"

Isn't the correct citation  "a rose by any other word (not name) would
smell as sweet"?

Even the Bard who chose words deliberately did not say a rose by any
other name.

Perhaps we can agree that words and contexts and depth of understanding
of the reader will yield different meanings.. It seems all of this
arguing is not altogether meant to help one another with understanding,
but some seem to just want to be right.

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