Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2020  Friday, 17 October 2003

[1]     From:   D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 09:10:09 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 08:40:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:45:44 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

[4]     From:   Rolland Banker <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:20:48 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1966 no spirit dares stir

[5]     From:   Bob Linn <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 21:41:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 09:10:09 -0500
Subject: 14.2016 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

I find I am now unable to follow the thread of this discussion. Could I
suggest that the gist or at least the point of it be re-stated?

Or else dropped?

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 08:40:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2016 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir [spirit vs. ghost]

Brian Willis writes, "I have a hard time believing the facts that
everyone in I. ii. accepts King Hamlet as dead, have elected Claudius as
King, and Claudius's own admission of his culpability in III. iii. are
not enough to convince someone that the 'spirit' of the old king is the
same as a ghost. He's dead, and since murdered, as Horatio speaks at
length to justify in the first scene, he's a ghost. What's the big deal
or the point to be made?  I think the original audiences would have
accepted that fact and moved on."

OK: let's start at the top: philosophy of the word *spirit* vs.
philosophy of the word *ghost* to maintain sensibility with the play
Hamlet by Will S.

OK: the opening four scenes of Hamlet the play are clearly a lexical
analysis of the philosophy of the word *spirit* vs. the word *ghost*!
You cannot as a Globe Groundling get past those opening four scenes
without a clean understanding that the spirit on the battlements in
battle dress is *none* other than the "spirit" of the father of Prince
Hamlet.  Indeed, in scene five, as soon as Hamlet puns the spirit with
the words "Alas, poor ghost!" the *spirit* admonishes his son, boldly:

"I am thy father's spirit."

How *B-L-U-N-T* must Will S be?  What part of "spirit" do you all
*N-O-T* understand?

Will S has the *spirit* of Prince Hamlet's father make these opening
scenes a discussion of the lexical meanings of "spirit" vs. "ghost"!

It seems that the play Hamlet by Will S has been dissed for far too long
by some Shakespeareans who wish to treat it as a Disneyesque production
with Caspar the Ghost haunting the stage.

OK: let's get as *serious* as the opening of the play Hamlet by Will S
as viewed by a Globe Groundling!

So--you have recently lost a parent--or God forbid, a child!  And you
come to the play in the Globe with a heavy heart after you have been to
the funeral of your loved one.  Did the Rabbi or the Priest or the
Preacher speak of the *ghost* of your departed relative, rather than the
*spirit*?

Of course not.  God forbid.

OK: tell me it is as serious to call your *dead* relative a *ghost*!?

You would be *horrified* if the Rabbi or the Priest or the Preacher did
that at your relative's funeral.  Mortified, you would think the
supposed cleric to be Daffy Duck!

Trust me on this: we are *not* talking comics here, folks!

Why should SHAKSPEReans be treating Hamlet the play any less seriously,
when Will S by his own words is clearly making the dichotomy between
*spirit* and *ghost* almost a polemical thesis in the opening five
scenes of his drama?

To quote John McEnroe: "You cannot be serious!"

SCENES ONE through FIVE are *S-E-R-I-O-U-S* business about the
philosophy of the *spirit* and are not mere *ghost* matters!

Get *real* with Hamlet the play by Will S!  Treat it with the respect it
deserves.  Prince Hamlet is *L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y* at the funeral of his
dead dad and you all are treating this *drama* as if it is *A Midsummer
Night's Dream*!  Which it ain't. I mean to tell you all that the *whole*
world is reading and *watching* this discussion of the *WATCH* scenes.
There are some heavy hitters on board, and some very heavy hitters who
browse Hardy's message board each day before they step into class, or
write that review, or clarify a new book on the bard.  Inquiring minds
want to know, the whole truth, and *not* fluff.  We are the delight of
Shakespeareans worldwide.  So let's *not* open Hamlet the play with
Caspar the Ghost, OK?

Can you all *imagine* the Elizabethans translators of the English AV or
what we Americans call the KJV opting for the resurrection scene of Will
S's "Saviour" [invoked in SCENE ONE]-- with the "ghost" of Jesus
confronting Doubting Thomas?

OK: go ahead and tell me they are synonyms.  Sure, they are; but they
have *D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T* meanings.

Seasoned professionals on SHAKSPER will not be *conned* by connotation
vs. denotation sleight-of-hand tricks.  None doubt they denote the same
to Globe Groundlings, but there is a substantial difference between the
connotations of *ghost* as opposed to the connotations of *spirit* and
it is precisely the latter word and its connotations which Will S
invoked.

Hey: over here < g >  See me: I *find* the word spirit under the S's and
the word ghost under the G's < g >

OK: the two words are synonymous but not the same!  Get real. It might a
*synonym* be: but Will S chose to make it a *big* issue in SCENES ONE
through FIVE, and you all ought to finally take note, and stop finagling
with Hamlet the play as other than a most *serious* play.

I have already said that *Macbeth* is *not* on the same caliber of play
as *Hamlet* and you all know that *Hamlet* is the more intellectually
challenging of the two: so put your analytical caps on on deal with the
cards Will S dealt!

As a campaign, we are only beginning to penetrate SCENE FIVE!

I will make my last point, clean, clear, crisp and piquant:

If you would diss the opening scenes of Hamlet, and insert a *ghost*
where Will S intends a *spirit* then you ought to look at yourself in
the mirror?  What do you see?  Would you be at all pleased with a Rabbi
or Priest or Preacher who called your departed relative a "ghost"?

If you would be offended, then note that Prince Hamlet was so offended
by Horatio making light of the "spirit" of his dead father.  He put it
bluntly, as the duty-bound filial son:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philsophy.
...
...Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!
...
...The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right."

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:45:44 +0100
Subject: 14.2016 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

Bill Arnold <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 > writes.

>Robin Hamilton writes, "Lots more, obviously, but it is (at least to me)
>interesting that Thomas in 1587 treats the terms 'spirit' and 'ghost' as
>partial synonyms."
>
>Which is fine and dandy, but obviously skirts the issue < g >
>
>None of what Thomas did, or did not do in 1587, has anything to do with
>what Will S did, or did not do, in Hamlet the play a couple decades
>later, agreed?

Oh sure -- but it does show that in 1587, "ghost" and "spirit" were
close synonyms.

(As an aside, the reason why I picked on Thomas for the illustrations,
rather than any of the other dictionaries in the EMEDD, is that the
search-mechanism seems to start with the earliest text and go from
there.  It was still giving me Thomas by the point it hit the 100 bar.
*Not* a sophisticated search mechanism.  There are ways round this, but
it takes time.)

>We can consult all the dictionaries on the planet, nay, in the universe,
>and it still is not as helpful as contextual meaning, agreed?

Yes and no.  Yes, context is the primary determinant of meaning.  But
"dictionaries"?  That begs more than several questions.  Crudely, the 16
dictionaries concorded in the EMEDD from the 1580s to the 1630s are more
Primary Texts than dictionaries.  This was what people wrote then and
there.
The OED they ain't, but on the other hand, anyone who trusts the OED
without
consulting the EMEDD is ...  <g>

>Hamlet!  Forsooks! what play you all been watching?

Your average punter, watching _Hamlet_ in the Globe in 1601, not having
read Saxo Grammaticus, wouldn't *know* with absolute certainty till
III.3 that Claudius had killed his brother.

(Indeed, bar the one post-Mousetrap Claudius soliloquy, even now, we
couldn't be sure.)

Context -- the beginning of the play makes a big thing of the
existential status of the Figure, which isn't resolved till III.3.

A problem with _Hamlet_ is that we hardly ever see it for the first
time.  Even before it starts, we *know* Claudius has killed his
brother.  In 1601, bar the Inns-of-Court annoraks who had well-thumbed
copies of Saxo Grammaticus tucked into their codspieces, they didn't.

There's a parallel problem (or phenomenon) in the Sonnets.  In 1608,
someone reading the text just printed, and reaching Sonnet 18, would
naturally think, "Boy!  At long last, a nice straightforward
heterosexual sonnet."

What they thought when they reached Sonnet 20 beggars belief.

There are no (or relatively few) Virgin Readers (or spectators) of
Shakespeare's plays.

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rolland Banker <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 16:20:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1966 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1966 no spirit dares stir

I was intrigued by Robin Hamilton's mention of the Virgin Reader thing:

"...is the Virgin Reader [Viewer] Theory, which provides interesting
insights when applied to
_Hamlet_ as well as to the Sonnets."

It makes absolute sense and follows too; not only with mere insights.

I am happy to report that after being deflowered by Shakespeare (at 15
in high school, he was the attacker) that the "transports" just
keep--coming!  There is no diminishment. Really! And like Othello I
simply say "Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, But I do love
thee! And when I love thee not, Chaos is come again."

No chaos in sight (who pray tell is more excellent than Shakespeare?) as
I and all of us like Prospero are "transported and rapt in secret
studies."

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Linn <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 16 Oct 2003 21:41:13 -0400
Subject: 14.2016 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2016 no spirit dares stir

As I have read Bill Arnold's posts, I am reminded of a story that I
heard in grad school, but I cannot remember the name of the chief
character, a famous Victorian humorist.

The humorist received a copy of Robert Browning's latest work (which
one, I have forgotten).  As he read the new work, he began to perspire
because the words did not make sense.  Finally, in complete confusion,
the man took to his bed.  Later, his wife came home.  He quickly, rose,
thrust the book into her hands, and told her to read.  After she had
read several pages, the humorist asked, "What does it mean?"  His wife,
equally befuddled, answered, "I have no idea what it means. I cannot
make heads or tails of it."  "Thank God," shouted the man, "I am not
insane."

I'm not sure why this story has returned to my mind (maybe a *spiritual*
matter), but I really would like to know if the story is true and who
the characters were.

Bob Linn

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.