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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
The Murder of Gonzago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1247  Friday, 11 June 2004

[1]     From:   Pamela Richards <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 05:24:53 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1228 The Murder of Gonzago

[2]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 09:40:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 07:49:03 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

[4]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 12:13:11 -0400
        Subj:   The Murder of Gonzago

[5]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 14:02:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

[6]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 14:16:59 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

[7]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 13:35:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

[8]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 14:29:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pamela Richards <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 05:24:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1228 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1228 The Murder of Gonzago

David Cohen writes:

">D.  Augury in itself prevents or causes events."

 >"Any vocalized prediction will affect others, of
 >course, especially the vulnerable.  I hope you don't
 >really mean by "event" big events, for example,
 >predicting that the market will go up tomorrow will
 >make it happen.  That would be a form of magical
 >thinking, e.g., if I prick this doll, that person will
 >fee pain.  An example of augury or preventing or
 >causing "an event" would be useful."

It is not my intention to defend this position; in fact, as an augurer,
it makes no sense to me at all in terms of ordinary, non-magical
prediction.  It is my position rather that it is almost always fate that
determines the conclusion of an event, and that is why its outcome can
be predicted.  I listed "augury in itself prevents or causes events" as
a commonly-held current-day belief, which does not represent beliefs
typical of the Renaissance period.

First, to place Renaissance experiences of augury in a cultural context,
the uses of astrology in everyday life were numerous.  Astrologers
planned battle strategies, as we have mentioned; your physician would
have been an astrologer who examined a sample of your urine, along with
a chart of the time he was presented with it, to diagnose your illness
and form a treatment strategy.  The timing of events like the coronation
of Queen Elizabeth would have been determined by an
astrologer--Elizabeth relied on Dr. John Dee.  Sailors and farmers alike
looked to the published predictions of astrologers to determine future
weather conditions.  Those who demanded of astrologers predictions on
the outcomes of everyday matters included mavens, merchants, and
matchmakers.  Students of University were committed to exhaustive
studies of astrology.  Astrologers were employed as spies; Dr. John Dee
also served Queen Elizabeth in this capacity.

Since you asked for examples of augury, events, and outcomes, I can
offer a few from my experience.  They do not demonstrate that "spoken
prediction causes events".  In fact, they suggest a different conclusion
entirely.  This material is not intended to convert you to "my" belief
system, but simply to demonstrate that Renaissance beliefs about augury
operate in ways that we cannot extrapolate from current-day beliefs.

That said, here are a few examples of everyday "augury" and outcomes:

1) A woman called to ask if her boyfriend would be offered the contract
for services he had wanted.  A chart was drawn for the time the question
was asked; her boyfriend was not aware that she had asked the question.
  The chart showed him getting a contract in the immediate future, in
the direction of the North Northwest.  Within minutes of the prediction,
she called back to say that he had just at that moment recieved the call
and accepted the job in the North Northwest.  He did not know of the
prediction; neither was the outcome in his hands.  But the outcome (he
got the job offer) was still predictable.

2) A woman asked if she would be able to buy the house she was now
renting.  The chart showed that the house would become available to her
in eighteen months.  She insisted adamantly that the matter needed to be
resolved well before then.  She refused to believe it would take so
long.  Due to matters in the hands of her landlord and her bank, the
opportunity only came about after the predicted time had elapsed.  In
this instance, the prediction was contrary to the personal beliefs of
the person involved, and although the prediction was articulated
verbally, there were still factors at play that were outside her
control.  Yet the outcome (she would not have an opportunity to buy the
house for eighteen months) was predictable.


3) A woman asked whether the car her son had just bought would be of
service to him.  Her name and his were both on the title; the chart
showed no serious problems with the car, except that the woman (not her
son) was going to lose ownership of it shortly.


Within a few weeks, the woman felt she might have to file bankruptcy.
She had forgotten the particulars of the prediction and was afraid that
her son was at risk of losing the car to pay off her debts.  She rushed
to have her name removed from the title.  When she consulted with me
shortly afterward, we looked at the prediction again for clarification.
  Her memory of the prediction was incorrect.  Yet in fact, she (not her
son) had lost ownership of the car, as predicted.

So although she was conscious of the prediction, her memory played a
trick on her.  She had consciously attempted to avert fate, but fate
still won the day.  The outcome (she lost ownership of the car) was
predictable.

I see examples like these constantly.  I only mention them to
demonstrate what I mean by terms like "outcome" and "event", and to show
that we cannot demonstrate that in augury, a "vocalized prediction
affects others" to the point of producing the outcome of the event.

Regards,
Pamela Richards

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 09:40:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

I don't know if this thread has arrived yet, but just in case, I'll ask:
Is there a prize for starting the longest-running thread on Shaksper?

Jack Heller

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 07:49:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

Edmund Taft writes, "In _Hamlet_, despite a whole lot of thinking on
Hamlet's part, an overview of the play suggests that the Ghost, acting
as father, simply overpowers Hamlet (just as Polonius does to Ophelia
and uncle Norway to Fortinbras). In the end, the older generation uses
the younger for its own interests. Hamlet starts as a thinker and a
Protestant; he seems to end as a man of action and a Catholic. He begins
the play as a scholar and ends acting and thinking like a soldier. In
the final moments of the play, he is a walking dead man: that is, he
seems to have become the very image of his father at the start of the
play. In the end, Shakespeare's point may not be that we lack free will
but that the goals and ends of our actions are not predictable (by us)."

OK: on behalf of a lot of us readers of SHAKSPER who might not respond
to the above, let me say that your interpretation above is precisely
that: *YOUR* interpretation, and I can follow your logic, although I
cannot say more strongly that I am one-hundred and eighty degrees
opposed to it.  Sorry, some of us do *NOT* see the play *Hamlet* this
way at all.

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

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 12:13:11 -0400
Subject:        The Murder of Gonzago

Of the weapon exchange in 5.2, Jack Hettinger writes, "James Jackson in
a 1990 article indicates such an exchange signified skill more than
chance." I appreciate the reference Jack provided and will look up the
article. But a provisional observation (subject to correction after
reading Jackson's essay) is that the double maneuver he discusses may
involve both great skill and very long odds - in other words, both human
action and chance or fate.

Ed Taft

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 2004 14:02:41 -0500
Subject: 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1238 The Murder of Gonzago

Sean Lawrence <
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 >David Cohen writes,
 >
 >Here's the amazing thing: Your brain has generated a spike of activity
 >0.3 second before you consciously decided to push the button.  It takes
 >about a third of a second for your brain to get the conscious you
 >going-your brain decides first-and it takes another fifth of a second
 >for the conscious you to complete the act-you decide second.
 >
 >
 >I'm not sure that this follows:  just because there's a sp

 

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