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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
no spirit dares stir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2054  Wednesday, 22 October 2003

[1]     From:   Dana Wilson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 06:39:03 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2028 no spirit dares stir

[2]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 10:00:02 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

[3]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 16:43:04 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2039 no spirit dares stir

[4]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 02:19:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2039 no spirit dares stir


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Wilson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 06:39:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2028 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2028 no spirit dares stir

Larry et al,

Larry wrote:

>how do you define the spirit of a dead man as
>different from his ghost?

Only an idiot would answer that question. ;)

D-

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 10:00:02 -0400
Subject: 14.2020 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2020 no spirit dares stir

Bill Arnold <
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 > writes,
                .        .        .        .
>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.
        .    .        ..        ..    .
>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."

Sorry, Bill.  "boldly admonishes" is not part of the text you are
claiming to revere.  That reading is an actor's choice which the
playwright has left open ended.  Another actor may read the line in the
spirit of confirmation.  A third could do it as though he had not even
heard Hamlet speak. Etc. Etc.  While working so hard to show how your
imaginary audience hears, you must also take into consideration how
those imaginary actors might speak.  In doing so, you must remember that
they do not all speak or hear as you do.

Now about your attitude toward the word Ghost.

>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!

And please trust me on this.  The word "ghost" is not historically a
comic book idea.  It is a very serious idea with a long history of
awe-inspiring use.  You seem to equate it with a Disneyworld mentality.
I won't presume here to go back through its entire history.  Check your
own OED for that.  But within the U.S.A., for the first three-quarters
of the twentieth-century, most mainstream Protestant Christian Churches,
while reciting the Apostle's Creed, affirmed their belief in "the Holy
Ghost."  I quote from a 1932 printing of the Concordia Hymnal, published
by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis:  "I believe in the Holy
Ghost; The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; The
Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life
everlasting."  This was the 25th printing of this edition.  Only in the
1970s was this amended to read "the Holy Spirit," perhaps because, like
you, a couple of generations of Americans had been Disneywashed and
could no longer take ghosts seriously.  But please, if you are goint to
tout yourself as a four-hundred-year-old audience member, don't assume
the Disney influence as part of your personna.  It isn't authentic.

Ed Pixley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 16:43:04 +0100
Subject: 14.2039 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2039 no spirit dares stir

>Brian Willis writes, "I seem to misunderstand the argument here.  And
>seemingly, Bill Arnold misunderstands mine and proceeds to talk down to
>his responders as if we are children."
>
>OK: you all *are* who you perceive yourselves to be.
>
>But I can guarantee you all one thing: you will never again *doubt* that
>*spirit* is a big issue in the opening scenes of Hamlet the play by Will
>S, and never again treat it as a trivial Caspar the Ghost ghost story.

I've read Bill Arnold's posting several times, but I fail to find any
response in it to the many postings that have shown (quoting Renaissance
sources) that just about every assumption Bill Arnold makes about
Renaissance English, about Renaissance theology, about Shakespeare's
"Hamlet", and about the Bible is wrong, wrong, and wrong again.
Arnold's response to this is apparently just to screw his fists up and
shout "I don't care what you say!  I'm right!  I'm right!  I'm right!".
Since his new posting contains no significant new argument of any kind,
and simply goes around setting up straw men (rather obviously nobody
thinks that Shakespeare should have had Gertrude see the murder, nor
does anybody - except Bill Arnold - believe that using the term "ghost"
reduces Shakespeare's play to Caspar or Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I
hope this is the last we will hear from him on the subject.

If Bill Arnold really thinks that he is right, rather than merely
boasting without justification, then he should be able to answer point
by point the arguments that have been made against him.  In order to
prove himself right, Arnold will have to stop watching Disney films and
Fox TV-shows (from which he draws his definition of "ghosts"), and
actually start reading Renaissance plays, literature, sermons, and the
Bible itself.  If he does so, then he will find that they chant "ghost
... ghost ... ghost ... ghost" at him over and over again, in perfectly
serious and indeed tragic contexts.  He will find, perhaps to his
surprise, that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Caspar the Ghost were
unknown to Renaissance audiences, and that the ghost of Hamlet's father
was only one of a long line of serious and significant ghostly
relatives, all commonly referred to as ghosts, in Renaissance drama.  He
will find that there is no justification for his claim that "ghost" is a
"comic" term unsuitable for use in serious drama.  In short Bill Arnold
will discover that not every historical figure and major Shakespearean
scholar is actually a mirror-image of Bill Arnold.

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

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 02:19:55 -0400
Subject: 14.2039 no spirit dares stir
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2039 no spirit dares stir

>Brian Willis writes, "I seem to misunderstand the argument here.  And
>seemingly, Bill Arnold misunderstands mine and proceeds to talk down to
>his responders as if we are children."
>
>OK: you all *are* who you perceive yourselves to be.
>
>But I can guarantee you all one thing: you will never again *doubt* that
>*spirit* is a big issue in the opening scenes of Hamlet the play by Will
>S, and never again treat it as a trivial Caspar the Ghost ghost story.
>
>So let us stay with the crux of "no spirit dare stir."  And please note
>I have *NOW* left off the [spirit vs. ghost] tag in the subject heading.
>
>In the opening five scenes of Hamlet the play by Will S, we note: the
>question of a spirit from heaven vs. a spirit from hell is posited.  And
>the spirit from hell [or below] is really a Dantean spirit.  Sure, this
>spirit is Virgilian in disguise, and accompanies Hamlet the character
>not into the portals of purgatory or paradiso, but stays on the
>battlements dressed in armor, angry, ready for revenge of a *murder* and
>now we accept that fact.  And me: the Devil's Advocate?  Si, amigoes.
>But, and this is a big but, and my way of offering a balanced
>presentation: but the ghost of Hamlet's father says, "I am thy father's
>spirit."
>
>The ghost of Hamlet's father does not say, "I am thy father's ghost."
>No way.
>
>And what, pray tell, is the point: the point is that some still call
>Hamlet mad, unjustified in taking out and finding out the murderer: "The
>time is out of joint: O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it
>right."
>
>Well, OK: they rhyme, don't they: "spite, right."
>
>WHY: why does Will S make a big issue in his opening scene salvos about
>spirits good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, murder vs. what?  Would any dare
>suggest that "no spirit dares stir"?  Stir for what?
>Right and Spite, Spite and Right?
>
>Well the spirit did stir, and he stirred for a reason: and that was to
>point out that murder had been committed in secret.  I guess some would
>be happier if Gertrude had met Hamlet on the battlements and whispered,
>"I *SAW* Claudius poison thy father." Sheesh.  Tres moderne, out of
>evening Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff.  Will S was above that with his
>otherwordly E.T.!  Will S was more down-to-earth in his spirituality!
>
>And despite all those who I read months ago who thought the ghost a
>mistake, well, they ought to take heart that the ghost was *not* a
>mistake, as the *SPIRIT* was right on with spite!  Spite to set it
>right!  Remember: right?
>
>In order to set things right, we have laws, and law enforcers call
>police men and police women.  Who were the police which Hamlet the
>character was to go to?  Name them?  What was his redress, once he
>discovered a true murderer in Elizabethan times?
>
>Note: the ghost/spirit of Hamlet's father said leave Gertrude to
>heaven.  He did not say hell.  It is the Hamlet-Claudius story we are
>about here, and brother-on-brother crime which violated the laws of
>society.  Beware, the spirit walks at midnight!
>
>Author: Hamlet the Sly Fox: "Fair and balanced, you decide."
>
>Bill Arnold

'Hamlet' is in verse, i.e. iambic pentameter, a form that permeates not
only WS's plays but the plays of his contemporaries.

Check the use of spirit/ghost in I-1, I-2, I-4 and you will find the
usage conforms to the decasyllabic arrangement in complete lines.

In fragments where either could be used the apparition calls itself a
spirit while Hamlet calls it a ghost.

John Ramsay

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