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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Why Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1430  Friday, 8 June 2001

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:33:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:33:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:33:39 +0100
Subject: 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare

Sam Small wrote

> I am a vulgar, ill read miscreant given to much dreaming
> about his future.  However, part of Mr Egan's campaign
> against my argument seems to be the changing of my sex.
> The last time I looked I was male.

Really, with a foxy name like 'Sam'? I suggest you write it entirely in
uppercase letters, just to make sure people realize. You might also try
to sound like Hemingway, you know, stuff about alcohol and sex.

> I would never trust a writer unless he was a drunken
> womanizer and believed in nothing except having a
> good time.

Perfect!

> Let me get this straight.  Dostoyevsky was a committed
> Christian.  In his novel, "The Brothers Karamazov", he
> demonstrates the invalidity of Christianity.

No, in his novel, Ivan demonstrates...

Ivan, I assure you, is a fictional character (a soldier), and should not
be confused with Dostoyevsky (a writer). Is anybody else having trouble
with this simple distinction? No? Stay behind for extra tuition, Small.
"Reading the Novel" and "Feminism 101". Incidentally, we also offer
"Introduction to Perspective". In lesson one we hold marbles and look
out the window chanting "these objects are small, but those are simply
far away".

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:36:22 +0100
Subject: 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1406 Re: Why Shakespeare

Sean Lawrence wrote

> I'm not sure that Stalinism or Nazism asked for an infinite
> wait; the goal was to be achieved in a few short years, after
> all.  One final push, and Utopia will be reached.

'One final push' might be the exhortation from above, as with the war in
Orwell's 1984, but the grandeur of the goal could be invoked to overcome
responses of 'you said that last time!' I'm not suggesting that
Stalinism or Nazism openly asked for an infinite wait.

> Moreover, I'm not sure how much these sorts of bits of reasoning
> worked on actual potential resisters.  A lot of war-crimes literature,
> as I understand it, would indicate that willing executioners were
> working for rather short-term ends, like career advancement.

And yet short-term ends are usually insufficient on their own. When a
norm of behaviour and belief (which shorthand one might extend to make
worthy of the label 'ideology') changes suddenly, or seems to have
disappeared altogether, a political doctrine which is essentially
religious (the workers' paradise being no more achievable than the city
of god) can transform ordinary persons into "willing executioners".

> Racial purity, say, can be achieved, in this world, while
> heaven, more or less by definition, cannot.

Racial purity was precisely the example I was going to invoke to support
the opposite claim of unachievability. It exists only in the imaginary,
does it not?

> As I said, this seems to be based on an immediate
> goal. Collectivization was in fact achieved, and in
> only a few years.

Indeed, and then 'socialism plus electricity' was to provide the
workers' paradise. No doubt many model workers imagined the workers'
paradise just beyond the completion of the next dam.

> The case of Ireland seems more complicated, though from
> what little I know about it, it seems to have been based on
> a sort of malign neglect, rather than on the determination
> that would grow out of long-term planning (unless, of course,
> the long-term planning was subconscious).

'Neglect' meaning 'leaving something alone'? That's hardly the basis of
colonial policy in Ireland. There is long-term planning in the Orange
Order's advocacy of apartheid and its rules forbidding intermarriage
with the indigenous population. (Alas, the genetic consequences of the
concomitant inbreeding are all too clearly visible in their political
representatives. You'd think they'd at least try to divert our attention
by buying their rimless glasses from different suppliers.)

> By the way, I'm not entirely convinced that the punishments
> of witches (or whatever) were particularly more severe than
> those for secular crimes.  No doubt we can come up with
> examples on both sides, but a recent history of the inquisition
> which I'm reading makes the argument that the punishments
> were not much different from those handed down by secular
> courts.

Witch-hunting was the example I was most ready to concede. There is
dishonourable tradition of likening witch persecution to the Holocaust
and one doesn't want to give comfort to bad historicism. I'll happily
retract that part.

Gabriel Egan

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