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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0650  Thurssday, 3 April 2003

[1]     From:   Ted Dykstra <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 10:24:09 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0637 Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 16:01:54 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.0637 Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ted Dykstra <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 10:24:09 EST
Subject: 14.0637 Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0637 Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind

Sam Small:

<< Oh, Ted Dykstra, thou student of the art of sarcasm!  How can you
equate scales with stories? >>

Perhaps because I am educated in the field of music.

<<Scales are boring but necessary - good stories are thrilling and
necessary.>>

Hmm. Hard not to be sarcastic but I'll try. The scale, in terms of
musical history, was as important and exciting a discovery to music as
gravity was to physics (I know, you credit the apple and not Newton).
Bach was so excited by the scale that he wrote one of the masterworks of
his era, The Well Tempered Clavier, which was a celebration of the
scales and their relationship to one another.

If one were to follow your line of thinking, then the only event in all
history of any significance was the Big Bang, since everything came from
it.  What great artists do, it seems to me, is take what is already
there and expand upon it. The very first story told was no doubt the
result of witnessing an event or phenomenon of nature. Perhaps a man
fought a tiger heroically, and won. That event was painted retold until
it became a legend, and then imaginative people started to shape that
legend to say something relevant to their age. This is a little more
difficult than you seem to think, and a lot more praiseworthy.

This expansion of the Big Bang of Stories, (whatever the first one may
be) like the universe, will not cease.

I am curious to know what you think the "original" stories are: how
many, and where you think they come from. Having slogged through the Ur
Hamlet a few times, I found it to be neither thrilling nor necessary (in
fact, I find scales infinitely more interesting). I'm sure glad
Shakespeare decided to throw it out and start over. So are, I daresay, a
billion or so other people.

Ted

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Apr 2003 16:01:54 +0100
Subject: Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind
Comment:        SHK 14.0637 Re: Critical Encounters of the Negative Kind

"How can you equate scales with stories?" asks Sam Small, before
demonstrating for us precisely how: "Story, or plot, provides the
conflict for which we yearn for resolution."

Blink, and you'd imagine that second sentence had been written by a
music theorist writing about Tristan und Isolde.

The trouble with Sam's position is exemplified by his failure to
acknowledge the difference between "story" and "plot". "Story" is the
things that happen; "plot" is the way the "story" is told - the order in
which the things that happen are put, etc.

I think what Ted Dykstra was saying was that the reason we all like
Shakespeare so much is not just for the tales he tells, but the way he
tells 'em.

martin

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