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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2128  Wednesday, 5 November 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 07:17:22 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2119 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 07:38:04 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir

[3]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 15:56:18 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir

[4]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 16:13:49 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 07:17:22 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2119 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2119 no spirit dares stir

Edmund Taft quotes Jay Feldman, "On the other hand, if you wish to use
this instance as evidence that the visiting spirit was indeed a devil
assuming a pleasing shape to damn Hamlet, you'll get no argument from
me."

Then Edmund Taft, writes, "Actually, I lean that way, Jay, but of course
my major point is that neither you nor I nor Bill nor Don can *know* in
any final sense what the ghost is and whether Hamlet should follow its
'dread command.'  Don thinks a traditional reading of the ghost is
correct, and Bill thinks a Christ-centered reading is correct."

Well: Ed, I happen to find your remarks above a fine epitome, and seems
to me to project the truth so far.  I would also add or put the word
*spirit* next to the word ghost these days, for obvious reasons, because
in the first Act of Hamlet the play most of the characters did *just*
that.

Also, I remind all that Will S knew that his "Saviour" had been visited
by a *spirit* in the form of the Devil, who offered him *Power* and
*Domintion* over the whole world if the "Saviour" would exchange his
*spirit* or *ghost* or *will* or *soul* for what the Devil offered.  We
all know that Will S's "Saviour" said, "Get thee behind me, Satan" [in
the KJV, Luke, C 4, V 8].

In stark contrast, we have the visitation of Will S's "Saviour" at the
end of the New Testament *risen* from the sepulchre and thus the *good*
of the latter far outweights the *bad* of the former.  However, inasmuch
as the *good* is tied to the *truth* I would ask you to read further
into my remarks.

Edmund Taft then writes, "No one knows or can know, given the way
Shakespeare has set things up -- or so I'd argue.  I'd just add that one
of the major points of the play is that common sense doesn't work when
we most need it to. How many times have you and I been told as kids that
before we act, we need to know what the truth is, and what the
consequences of our actions will be?"

Well, again: well, as I have read the play, many times, we find (1) that
the ghost/spirit of Hamlet's dead father is the *truth* witness; correct
me if I am wrong, but if the ghost/spirit had not spoken the *truth* we
might have a *no show* play!  What would be the point of a play about a
Prince Hamlet, annoyed, and pouting, over the death of his father and
his mother marrying his uncle, now the king?  Not the best of all
possible worlds for our Candide-like hero in that case, who would have
merely *tended his garden* and let things lie as he found them.  No, in
fact, the *truth* is out there by the *good* spirit who is attempting to
*right* the wrong done him and the State of Denmark, as the rightful
king was usurped in his power!  Is that *not* the reason the
ghost/spirit appears in armor, angry and frowning like Prince Hamlet's
father?

And (2) we do have corroboration of the *truth* of the ghost/spirit who
told of a secret murder by an evil king Claudius who perpetuates this
*reign of terror* like the madman that he is, poisoning a sword to kill
Prince Hamlet, inveigling a host of others in his plot and causing
*ultimately* their deaths, beginning with Polonius, Ophelia, and his own
Queen Gertrude with a poisoned cup: my, how this self-righteous
Hypocrite *loves* to end the lives of others with poison!

Does anyone among the Globe Groundlings, least of all Hamlet himself as
a character on the stage, doubt the *truth* of the secret murder, as the
play Hamlet exits the *Mousetrap* and enters the next series of
*poisonous* acts?  Who *doubts* the *truth* by then?  No one.  So of
course the ghost/sprit was the *embodiment* of *truth*!

It appears that *some* readers confuse an Old Testament *vengeance* with
a New Testament *righting* of a wrong!

Edmund Taft then writes, "A central emphasis of the play is that in
non-trivial cases, we can hardly ever do so. We can't know the whole
truth, and we can't foresee all of the consequences of our actions.  In
effect, _Hamlet_ demonstrates the risky and uncertain nature of all
serious "'acts.'

Finally, you make my point by indicating that even the Ghost cannot
tell...revenge is 'a wild kind of justice,' and that 'revenge recoils
against the revenger,' and that 'vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.'  As
you know, these are all Renaissance commonplaces. So, even though both
the audience and the Ghost cannot know in detail what will happen, they
can still know in a general sense that this is not a task any loving
father would put on the shoulders of his son. It's too risky. Whoever
would do so is thinking only about himself."

Well: Will S has nearly two thousand references to the Christian Bible
in his works: plays and sonnets.  Richmond Noble nearly a century ago in
his *Shakespeare's Biblical Knowledge* in 1935 and Naseeb Shaheen in his
*Biblical References in Shakespeare's Plays* in 1999 and revised in
2002, document the actual references, as well as literary allusions and
paraphases, et al.  What I have noticed, in my studies of this subject,
is that Will S borrows heavily from *not only* the Old Testament but
*equally* from the New Testament.

The *acts* of human beings and the *fate* of their *spirit* as a
consequence, is taken up by Will S's "Saviour" in the New Testament.
Lest we forget, his "Saviour" was famous for telling his followers that
he did not come to destroy the laws of Moses but to *add* to them.  And
what he added was the eleventh commandment, the tenet of *Christianity*:
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  Now, this was the newly
created commandment of Will S's "Saviour."  And this commandment is the
*backbone* of the New Testament and replaced the *eye-for-an-eye*
doctrine of the Old Testament.  Will S understood his "Saviour" said:
"*Even* the Spirit of truth...*which is* the Holy Ghost, whom the Father
will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all
things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" [in the
KJV, John, C 14, V's 16-26].

Well: I would posit that the opening ACT ONE of Hamlet the play in toto
is referenced to the above quote, and the consequences of the play
partake in the mind of Prince Hamlet that he is most *mindful* of his
*acts* henceforth from his primary meeting with the ghost/spirit wearing
the *MANTLE OF TRUTH* which is *sent* in the name of the "Saviour" and
*His* Father and the holy *Ghost*!

Thus: Prince Hamlet assuredly ponders *who* the ghost/spirit is, and
accept the gauntlet thrown down, and spends the rest of his earthly life
seeking the *truth* up to and beyond the moment he is *poisoned*--as was
his father and his mother!  Not a pretty scene, I admit, nor is it
simple in its dramaturgy to understand; but it does, in my mind, invoke
Will S's most often reference literary masterpiece, his Christian Bible,
in its myriad translations of the times.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 07:38:04 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2120 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir

Takashi Kozuka writes, "Bill has suggested in this and/or other threads
that we should read his book (Jesus: The Gospel According to Will) for
further studies. One may be able to purchase it on abebooks.com as Bill
said, but unfortunately, his book is not easily accessible in the
UK...Therefore, I should be most grateful if Bill could briefly
summarise his argument in his book when he refers to it (his book) in
his future posts...I would be most interested in ...the different
*connotations* of the terms 'soul', 'spirit', 'ghost' etc. as used in
early modern England, not in 20th/21st-century America -- or rather, how
people in early modern England *may / seem to* have understood/used
these terms...."

OK: that is *precisely* what I have been doing in my posts, so far. One
post noted the *change* between the terms in a recent translation.  And
I have pointed out that *in the Shakespearean Age* that was a primary
concern.  It had been since the early texts in Greek, and is still a
concern today.  I suggest you go to your library and ask for the
*Christology* section, and/or the master-book on the subject of
*Christology* and note what I say to be the *truth*.  In fact, I
referenced several Will S sonnets explicated carefully in my book on the
concept of *Will* and yet no one has even shown the slightest interest
to *read* those particular Will S *Will* sonnets and respond in a
scholarly fashion.

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink: is an old
adage I beg to submit at this point to SHAKSPEReans!

A number of members of SHAKSPER have my book, have read it, either by
emailing me or writing me directly: they *know* who they are: click on
the website under my name.  As said, you can communicate directly with
me, or you can order the book with the ISBN number from any bookstore in
the world, or buy it directly from booksellers on abebooks.com, and the
book is listed on bn.com. Its EAN code is: ISBN 1-892582-01-5.

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 15:56:18 -0000
Subject: 14.2120 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir

>Bill has suggested in this and/or other threads that we should read his
>book (Jesus: The Gospel According to Will) for further studies. One may
>be able to purchase it on abebooks.com as Bill said, but unfortunately,
>his book is not easily accessible in the UK.

The book is not on the in-print databases of either the US or the UK,
and currently is not available on Abebooks or any of the second-hand
book search engines examined by www.bookfinder.com (which searches
Abebooks and a long list of other second-hand book databases).  Of
course this is no direct reflection on the book, since it may mean that
everybody who has a copy wants to hold onto it, or that Arnold's
postings on SHAKSPER have led to SHAKSPEReans snapping up all available
copies of the book.  It does, however, add weight to Takashi Kozuka's
request to have the book's main arguments detailed here, since nobody in
the world can currently access the book unless they have immediate
access to a library that already owns it.

In the "Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge" thread, Arnold seems to
complain that responses to his argument have been selective.  I should
perhaps make it clear that I had not read the majority of Arnold's
postings before SHK 14.1939 where an Arnold post subtitled [spirit vs.
ghost] caught my eye.  I have been dealing in my responses to Arnold
with this one issue, the question of whether Hamlet's Father is a ghost
(or at least whether Shakespeare and his creations Hamlet and Horatio
referred to him as one, and whether Renaissance audiences would have
regarded him as one - assuming that Hamlet's father is his father and
not a devil in disguise).  On this one issue I have not been at all
selective, and have answered point by point virtually every word that
Arnold has since posted on this subject.

I have not seen enough of Arnold's broader argument to know whether it
is as baseless and inaccurate as his "spirit vs. ghost" claims, but
Arnold's postings on the latter issue suggest that he may know little or
nothing about Christian doctrine or spiritual beliefs in the Renaissance
period and has made precious little effort to learn more, which does not
bode well for any other weighty claims that he makes on these matters.
Like Takashi Kozuka, I would be interested to hear more about Arnold's
book - to see whether these doubts are justified - as long as he always
shows us evidence to support his theories drawn from the writings of the
Renaissance period.  Takashi Kozuka's request that we be told about "the
different *connotations* of the terms 'soul', 'spirit', 'ghost' etc. as
used in early modern England, not in 20th/21st-century America" seems
useful here.  I doubt anybody wants to read yet more about what Bill
Arnold would have thought if he was living in the Renaissance if this
has no connection at all to what people living at the time actually
thought (which can only be discovered through analysis of their
writings).

As for Arnold's concern that people have been shooting the messenger.
As long as the messenger promises not to repeatedly deal out personal
insults to support his message (suggesting that anybody who disagrees
with him is not suitably serious, that their arguments are "fluff", and
that they should be ashamed to present their arguments in front of the
learned SHAKSPER audience - just some of the most recent examples) then
I think I can assure him that people will deal with the message and not
the messenger.  If Arnold uses personal attacks to counter his
opponents, then he can rather obviously expect them in return.
Similarly if his argument is constantly self-referential (based on
magisterial diktats based on nothing other than the personal authority
of Bill Arnold) then he can expect his personal identity to become an
issue.  If he stops insulting others and bases his arguments on evidence
(quoting Renaissance sources) rather than personal decrees then he may
well find that others are more measured in their responses.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Nov 2003 16:13:49 -0000
Subject: 14.2120 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2120 no spirit dares stir

>The book is not on the in-print databases of either the US or the UK, and
>currently is not available on Abebooks or any of the second-hand book
>search engines examined by www.bookfinder.com (which searches Abebooks
>and a long list of other second-hand book databases).

A refined search (for just "Arnold" and "Jesus") brings up a single
result.  Alibris is selling a signed copy for $19.90 plus postage.  This
means that one person can purchase the book, but otherwise the points in
my previous posting hold true.  Most people in the world cannot access
this book even if they want to (now with one exception), unless they
have access to a library containing a copy.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

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