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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Hamlet's Ghost
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1263  Monday, 14 June 2004

[1]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 12:55:22 +0000
        Subj:   2 Harry 6 (TLN 820-22)

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 06:48:50 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 06:53:49 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 14:58:01 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghos

[5]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 08:58:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

[6]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 10:11:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

[7]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 10:12:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1247 The Murder of Gonzago

[8]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 19:23:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

[9]     From:   John Reed <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Jun 2004 12:55:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 12:55:22 +0000
Subject:        2 Harry 6 (TLN 820-22)

15.1247 [...]I am learning a lot being on this list, trying to stay
afloat, but I know my place,[...]

  15.1242 [...]If it is such?  How could it not be?[...]

There are a number of places where you will discover little essays
floating about on this very topic where you may learn a lot.

Thank you for explaining the rhyme.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 06:48:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

Sam Small writes, "Machiavelli's main thrust is that, for a ruler, any
action is permissible in order to maintain an orderly state so that the
population can go about its business without fear of chaos.  For him,
good government is the protection of the people and its defence.  On the
other hand bad governments allow themselves to be invaded or at least
preside over chaos and crime.  The shocking thing about Machiavelli is
that his argument is compelling...For someone who takes the teachings of
Jesus seriously - or who at least takes his moral cues from that area -
and also finds himself in a position of political power, there is a
serious and terrifying dilemma. I believe that this dilemma is at the
heart of Hamlet the play."

OK: you have finally arrived at the crux of the matter with the heart of
the matter of the play *Hamlet*.  Let me comment upon your three-part
presentation.  Generally speaking, your statements above about
Machiavelli seem cogent, correct, and I agree with your conclusions.

However, when you interject the "teaching of Jesus" into the discussion,
I must take issue.  Perhaps, you mean the teachings of the Christian
churches?

OK: in my opinion, the reason many misapply Machiavelli, Jesus and
Christianity to the play *Hamlet* is precisely because the latter two
are *NOT* equal.  Let me state this unequivocably: the *teachings of
Jesus" are not shared by the Christian churches.

OK: in my book, still available on abebooks.com, *JESUS: The Gospel
According To Will* [as in, Will S., and the *Will* of God, and the Holy
*Will* aka *Holy Spirit*] I have carefully selected passages from the
New Testament often glossed over by commentators who would put an
improper spin on the "teaching of Jesus."  In particular, note the story
by Jesus of the cursed fruit tree [Matthew, C 21, Vs. 17-19] and all it
implied and the references to it in the "teaching of Jesus."  In this
sense, in which Jesus cursed the tree which did not bear fruit and told
his disciples that it was a lesson directly from God[ Mark, C 11, Vs.
20-24], Jesus is closer to Machiavelli than to the Christian churches
and does not share your gloss on Jesus and how you wish to apply it to
the play *Hamlet*.

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 06:53:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

David Cohen writes, "Woody Allen once attempted to resolve all this
confusion by asserting his belief that, 'When you die, you soul goes to
a garage in Buffalo.' I never appreciated what that meant till now."

OK: cute, but no cigar.

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

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 14:58:01 +0100
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

Claude Caspar might be joking when writing:

 >One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin- whoever
 >said that warms my heart when I see killer whales play with,
 >but not eat, a baby seal... Being natural comes naturally to me.

If so, I wish I understood the joke.

Ulysses says "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin-- / That all
with one consent praise new-born gauds" (Troilus and Cressida,
3.3.169-70). In the fine Macmillan edition of 1899, C. H. Herford
glossed this as "All men are related in the possession of one inborn
trait, viz. the readiness to be caught by the illusion of novelty".

According to Jean Jules Jusserand in an address delivered to the
American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia in 1913, Horace Howard
Furness used a modified version of the aphorism, "One touch of
Shakespeare makes the whole world kin", to signal camaraderie between
men of letters. Could such a giant really have misunderstood Ulysses?

Incidentally, and at the risk of crossing-threading this list worse than
the head-bolts on Woody Guthrie's famous jalopy, I can report back that
no-one who contacted me off-list knew of an established genealogical way
of representing incest in a family tree. (Thanks, though, to SKL for
trying to invent one.)

Gabriel Egan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 08:58:15 -0500
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

Peter Bridgman <
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 >

 > . . . Whether Shakespeare was a Church Papist
 >(as Gary Taylor claims) or a recusant (Peter Milward et al), one hopes
 >his religion (along with his homosexuality) . . . .

Where does this come from, or are you just being facetious?

David Cohen

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 10:11:54 -0500
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

Sam Small <
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 >

 >Hamlet's roots are in mediaeval Christianity - Catholicism, if you like.
 > Hamlet senior is very much part of that world.  Claudius and Gertrude
 >are new politicians - part of the new political renaissance, the new
 >politic real.  Claudius, in killing Hamlet Senior, is restoring order to
 >Denmark . . . .

I  don't get it.  Where is your evidence that Claudius, in killing
Hamlet Senior, is restoring order to Denmark.  Where in the play is
evidence that under Hamlet senior, Denmark was in disorder? Quotes please.

 >This would have got Machiavelli's approval.  Therefore the
 >ghost is part of medialivalism - those that are part of it see it - the
 >new politicians do not.

Medievalism was a highly ordered system, though an economically stagnant
one.

 >Therefore there are two distinct realities in Hamlet with vastly
 >opposing values and perceptions.  Hamlet junior had one foot in each
 >world viewing everything through Shakespeare's world weary eyes.  No one
 >can have sympathy for both worlds and remain loyal to one.

Why not?  I have sympathies for the world of the 40s (the Best
Generation and all that) yet also sympathy and loyalty to the current
world of the naughts, despite its cultural rot.

David Cohen

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 10:12:05 -0500
Subject: 15.1247 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1247 The Murder of Gonzago

Pamela Richards <
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 >

 >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.

Sounds like if one pays close attention to details, one can make what
looks like accurate predictions.  I predict that you will respond to
this post.  Nothing surprising in that.  What I would like to know is
this: (1) Can you make equally accurate predictions without consulting
the charts (whatever that means)? and (2) How many of your predictions,
with or without the charts,  have proved incorrect?  Can you give a few
examples of your false positives or false negatives?  I ask because it
is obvious that if you make 100 predictions, 90 percent of which turn
out false, then talking about the 10 will be misleading.

David Cohen

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 19:23:43 +0100
Subject: 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1246 Hamlet's Ghost

Sam Small writes:

 >Hamlet's roots are in mediaeval Christianity - Catholicism, if you like.
 >Hamlet senior is very much part of that world.  Claudius and Gertrude
 >are new politicians - part of the new political renaissance, the new
 >politic real....  Therefore the
 >ghost is part of medialivalism - those that are part of it see it - the
 >new politicians do not.

That's the best explanation I've read for why Gertrude cannot see the
Ghost.  My assumption was that WS had simply made a mistake (albeit an
odd mistake since he had many years to revise and expand his play).

Peter Bridgman

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Reed <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Jun 2004 12:55:09 -0700
Subject:        Re: Hamlet's Ghost

Patrick Dolan posted some interesting remarks that I've been stewing on
for awhile, some of them touching on the idea of the Willing Suspension
of Disbelief.  That was Coleridge?  Not having been an English major, I
never knew (I had the feeling it wasn't Shakespeare however, and that
the correlation between Willing and William was just a coincidence).  I
agree with most of the post (which hardly ever happens, me being my
idiosyncratic self).  However, I've never been very comfortable with the
concept of suspension of disbelief; if it surfaces in consciousness in
relation to a story, then something is "wrong."  It indicates the
communication between the author and the audience is not as tight as it
could be.

Most of this communication probably is taking place on the level of
shared unstated (and often unconscious) assumptions.  If the audience is
removed -- either by time, or culture, or both - then the fit most
likely becomes looser, and more energy of suspension would seem to be
required...in order to, appreciate, or understand, or be moved; I'm not
sure what I mean -- to be fully resonant with the story.  J. R. R.
Tolkien, who was Catholic, took up the subject of disbelief suspension
in his essay "On Fairy Stories."  He wrote:

"Children are capable, of course, of literary belief, when the
story-maker's art is good enough to produce it.  That state of mind has
been called "willing suspension of disbelief."  But this does not seem
to me a good description of what happens.  What really happens is that
the story-maker proves a successful "sub-creator."  He makes a Secondary
World which your mind can enter.  Inside it, what he relates is "true":
it accords with the laws of that world.  You therefore believe it, while
you are, as it were, inside.  The moment disbelief arises, the spell is
broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed.  You are then out in the
Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from
outside.  If you are obliged, by kindliness or circumstance, to stay,
then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and
looking would become intolerable.  But this suspension of disbelief is a
substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending
to games or make-believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to
find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed."

End quote.

When we encounter "more important" stories it might be safe to say they
are dealing with something deep, and in order to do that the resulting
story may not seem realistic in certain ways (to an audience of English
majors I imagine this must sound fabulously straightforward).  However,
once we get into the depths, the mismatch of unstated assumptions (if
any) will tend to become much more significant.  The depths involve
fundamental questions about reality, so inevitably "world view," a
euphemism for religion if there ever was one, becomes central.

Someone above mentioned a book claiming Shakespeare to have been
Catholic; I just finished reading one that tried to show he was a
puritan.  But (again) it seems to me he was Christian at a level deeper
than what might be involved in Catholic/Protestant distinctions - even
if he did write during a time when such distinctions were highly
important and which were reflected in his plays.

Now, however, the prevalence of non-Christian thought is much greater
than in his time and place.  And it is my idiosyncratic belief that the
further one gets into the fundamental nature of different world
views/religions, the MORE distinct they become, not less.  It must have
been something to have been in that original audience.  They knew their
figures of speech, they shared mass quantities of unstated assumptions
about fundamental reality with their author, and they, most likely, had
no need of any willing suspension of disbelief, even when confronted
with the spectre of a ghost on stage.

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