2003

Bottom, Weaving Metaphors, Language and Reality

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2354  Friday, 12 December 2003

From:           John Webb <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 12 Dec 2003 11:08:14 -0000
Subject:        Re: Bottom, Weaving Metaphors, Language and Reality

For the origin of the word "bottom", The Oxford Dictionary of English
Etymology gives the Sanskrit word "budhna", meaning "foundation" and
"base".

The same Sanskirt root "budh" actually means "to awaken" and
"knowledge". The knowledge referred to by this word is not primarily
factual knowledge, but the "reawakening of consciousness" and
"enlightenment".

Interpreting the play in terms of Platonic symbolism, this is actually
the meaning of Bottom's (Shakespeare's) own divine mystical revelation,
symbolised in the relationship between Bottom and Titania, and for which
human marriage is also a symbol.

The name Buddha means the same thing.

The name Bottom, at some deep level in the matrix of language, contains
the whole essence of the play.

We might also ask whether this linguistic connection is simply something
static, or whether the name has any dynamic role as part of some living
process.

Dana Wilson posted a reply on this thread, and also a follow-up topic
"Nouminal Composition Structures in Shaksper", about how single Greek
nouns could contain the essence of character and plot:
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2003/2341.html

May I offer a few more ideas to consider, about the creative power of
language, and the nature of Shakespeare's Art....

Caliban tells us how Prospero taught him language. When Prospero speaks
of his "art", and presumably this is Shakespeare's Art, how closely is
this Art connected with language and names in themselves? And is this
Art confined to the theatre, or is it connected, in any way, with
reality?

From my own limited knowledge, the idea that words and names have some
fundamental relation to reality, and to human character, goes back to a
common body of ideas shared by the Ancient Egyptians, the Hebrews, and
the Greeks, possibly with some slight cultural variations.

The Ancient Egyptian onomasticon (encyclopedia) consisted of simply the
names of things, without any descriptions, in the belief that the name
itself contains the full knowledge of an object or an idea.

The Ancient Egyptian pantheon included a deity whose function was
connected with names and the power of speech, now known by the Greek
name, Thoth. In "The Gods of the Egyptians", by Wallis Budge, Vol 1,
p403, Budge states: "The commonest name given to Thoth is h*b... From
one aspect he was speech itself... In every legend in which Thoth takes
a prominent part we see it is he who speaks the word that results in the
wishes of Ra being carried into effect."

In "From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt", by Wallis Budge, p155, Budge
states: "the theology of Thoth is well described by the opening words of
St John's Gospel: In the beginning was the Word."

The "commonest" name for Thoth, h*b, is similar to Hob, an old English
name for Puck, Oberon's messenger, though there can't be any real
connection (?).

There is a lengthy treatment of ideas about the creative power of
language in "Old Testament Theology", by Gerhard von Rad, Vol 2,
pp80-98. He states: "In modern European languages the almost exclusive
function of the word is to convey meaning. It is a phonetic entity used
as a vehicle for intellectual self-expression. This noetic function of
the word is far from covering the meaning that language had for ancient
peoples... According to ancient ideas, a name was not just "noise and
smoke": instead there was a close and essential relationship between it
and its subject... In many highly developed cultures language was not
restricted simply to the description of objects... language could
produce something; language itself became creative; and this is a
possibility which language has never lost, even to this day. Countless
examples to be found in comparative religion rest on a conception of
language which we can call dynamistic, since here a word is thought to
possess a power which extends beyond the realm of the mind, and may be
effective in the material world... in her most ordinary statements, in
magic, and in the deepest insights of theology alike, Israel took as her
starting point the conviction that word possessed creative power... the
Greeks too believed that their language was mightier than they."

Some SHAKSPERians may not be impressed by the works of J R R Tolkien,
but he too subscribed to the idea of the creative power of language.
The following quotes are from "The Road to Middle Earth", by T A
Shippey, pp80-87:

"Tolkien used [language] in an extremely peculiar, idiosyncratic and
daring way... Tolkien had a private theory... This was Tolkien's major
linguistic heresy... It was like him to think that there might be a
"true language", one "isomorphic with reality"...  The thing we would
like to know about Tom Bombadil is what he is, but this is never asked
or answered directly. Frodo raises the courage to ask... "Don't you know
my name yet? That is the only answer". He [Tom Bombadil] seems to be a
lusus naurae, a one-member category.... [his language] tends to be
onomastic, mere lists of names. But though the hobbits may not know the
language they understand it; and when Tom names something (as he does
with the hobbits ponies) the name sticks - the animals respond to
nothing else the rest of their lives. There is an ancient myth in this
feature, that of the "true language"... It is this which seems to give
Tom his power.  Like Adam, "whatsoever he called every living creature,
that was the name thereof".

Is this "lusus naurae" connected with Plato's belief that the name-giver
and king was the "rarest of all artisans"? Was Shakespeare himself a
member of that exclusive club?

Incidentally, Tolkien's "hobbit", is that Hob name again.

The film Forbidden Planet is loosely based on The Tempest, and has been
previously been discussed in this Conference. e.g.:
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2000/2141.html
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2002/0530.html
In this film, note that Morbius is described as the "expedition
philologist". The film brings out an idea that thoughts in Morbius' own
subconscious are materialising themselves in the real world. You might
draw a simple parallel with the playwright's art. The theatre enables a
playwright to have his own thoughts made real, in the performance of the
play. But how deep does that analogy run? When Shakespeare tells us "all
the world's a stage", what is he saying?

To what extent is Shakespeare's Art related to language and names in
themselves? Or does his art consist largely in the arrangement of the
drama (telling a story)? Or is it a combination of the two? And are we
just talking about the theatre, or the world itself?

John Webb

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Ben Jonson Journal

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2353  Friday, 12 December 2003

From:           Rolland Banker <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 12 Dec 2003 02:10:48 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2324 Ben Jonson Journal
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2324 Ben Jonson Journal

Thanks Ed, that does help too, and your work on the play sounds sort of
fascinating, perhaps the time to polish it up and publish is near.
Especially if they ever finish the planned movie, Foucault's Pendulum
from the Eco book. There will be a renewed interest in alchemy no doubt
and, perhaps in Ben's great play.

As for Erasmus, after I finished the Alchemy Scam, I realized it was not
on par nor informative towards Ben's work at all. It reminded me more of
Tartuffe as it was about religious hypocrisy on the whole.

Thanks!

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Another Quiz Question

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2351  Friday, 12 December 2003

From:           Bruce W.Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Dec 2003 10:23:56 -0600
Subject: 14.2341 Another Quiz Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2341 Another Quiz Question

My guesses for John Savage's dream puzzle (SHK. 14.2341):

Beautiful Hill: Beaumont (Merchant of Venice)
Mountain of Happiness: Mountjoy (Henry V)
Feast: Feste (12th Night)
Large City in Central Florida: Orlando (As You Like It)
Boat Dock: Marina (Pericles)
Fleet of Ships: Armado (Love's Labours)
Angel: Angelo (Measure for Measure) or Beatrice (Much Ado)
Armstrong: Fortinbras (Hamlet)
Drunkard: Falstaff (H IV, etc.)
Chap Who Could Change Shape: Proteus (Two Gents)
Little Bear: Orsino (12th Night)
Garland of Roses: Rosalind (R&J and As You Like It), or Ophelia (Hamlet)
Little Blonde: Bianca (Taming of the Shrew)
Lost: Perdida (Winter's Tale)
France: Dauphin (H V) or Paris (Troilus & Cressida)
Nicholas Derriere: Bottom (MSND)
Ill Will: Iago (Othello)
Words: Holfernes (LLL)
Wasn't Very Deep: Shallow (H IV)

Bruce Richman
Department of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
University of Missouri: Columbia

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Shakespeare for Kids?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2352  Friday, 12 December 2003

From:           Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Dec 2003 12:54:00 -0500
Subject: 14.2331 Shakespeare for Kids?
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2331 Shakespeare for Kids?

I've got a tentative version of our kids catalogue finally up on our
website in a PDF download (you will need the free Adobe Acrobat reader
to open the file).   It can be accessed from the main page of our
website at www.bardcentral.com (click on your geographic region on the
first page, then look for the download links on the right).

Tanya Gough
The Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue
www.bardcentral.com

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Quarto Cover Images

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2350  Friday, 12 December 2003

From:           John Ciccarelli <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 11 Dec 2003 10:31:07 -0500
Subject:        Quarto Cover Images

Hi,

I'm putting together a Shakespeare resources section on my website and I
was looking to obtain some image scans of the quarto cover pages.  I've
come across a couple of excellent archive sites like Perseus Tufts and
the Furness Shakespeare Library that have some good images, but not
extensive collections.  Does anyone know of sites I can check out that
either stock individual or collections of quarto images?  You can
respond to me offline.

Thanks in advance,
John Ciccarelli

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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