The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1682 Tuesday, 23 July 2002
Date: Monday, 22 Jul 2002 15:10:17 EDT
Subject: Fact-event vs Pure-event
I recently attended a reception for a colleague at the University of
Oregon (UO) to celebrate her marriage. That was a fact-event. As we
entered the Alumni diningroom, we were handed a program. There was no
deviation from the script. The only unknown was the parking space I
If someone stood on the banks of the Willamette River, which also curls
past the UO, at that same moment with a fishing rod hoping to catch a
salmon, I would describe that scene as a pure-event. Compared to the
completely predictable doings at the reception, the fisherman had no
idea of the outcome of his venture.
Most of the events in our lives are fact-events. But the pivotal events
historians must interpret are pure-events. Even new technologies are
proven in pure-events.
Oddly enough, the dynamics of pure-events often transcend contingency.
I sometimes think, despite Shakespeare's intentions in Macbeth, that the
cauldron in which the witches threw those disagreeable ingredients had a
process of its own, which could have boiled up a fate for Macbeth that
could have been at variance with how the play ended. Which explains why
Macbeth was misled.
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