2004

Films

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1190  Friday, 4 June 2004

From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 04 Jun 2004 08:29:30 +0000
Subject:        Film of Opaqueness

Re.1165.

For the avoidance of confusion, I didn't say what might be construed as
mine!

Ah me! Sad hours!

Best,
G

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Representing Incest in Genealogy

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1189  Friday, 4 June 2004

From:           Frank Whigham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 03 Jun 2004 09:38:35 -0500
Subject: 15.1186 Representing Incest in Genealogy
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1186 Representing Incest in Genealogy

For what it's worth (and since this conversation is becoming more
general), I surveyed some of the anthropological literature on incest
theory in the beginning of an essay on The Duchess of Malfi (PMLA 1985;
rpt. with some revisions in Seizures of the Will, Cambridge 1996). The
bibliography might be useful to anyone wanting to read more. (I don't
answer the original question that started this thread.) Cf. also Richard
McCabe's Incest, Drama, and Nature's Law 1500-1700 (CUP 1993).

Frank Whigham

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The Murder of Gonzago

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1187  Thursday, 3 June 2004

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 02 Jun 2004 09:43:06 -0400
        Subj:   The Murder of Gonzago

[2]     From:   David Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 12:02:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1176 The Murder of Gonzago

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 13:20:03 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1176 The Murder of Gonzago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 02 Jun 2004 09:43:06 -0400
Subject:        The Murder of Gonzago

This discussion of fate vs. free will is fascinating, but I wonder if it
can be put into a Shakespearean context? For example, B.F. Skinner's
favorite Shakespeare play was _Othello_ because he thought it a perfect
example of "operant conditioning." Skinner was convinced that the play
demonstrated how Iago controlled Othello by means of positive and
negative reinforcement. Iago "shapes" Othello's behavior just as Skinner
could "shape" the behavior of a rat in a box, or so Skinner himself
thought. Skinner also used the play to illustrate that what we think
doesn't matter - only what we do. As a by-product of having been
"shaped" by Iago, Othello comes to think and believe whatever Iago wants
him to think and believe. Or so Skinner argued.

In _Hamlet_, I think the central issues near the end of the play involve
fate or, as Hamlet and Horatio call it, "providence."

Is providence helping Hamlet out as he moves toward revenge? If so, how
can we know that? Is the climatic final scene an example of error and
chance? Or is it guided by Divine Providence? If so, how?

One word about identical twins. They can be very different from each
other. Early in my career, I taught two sets of identical twins. The
first was two young women who took my composition class. Their abilities
were quite distinct, with one receiving an A, while the other struggled
to make a C. A few years later, I taught male twins, and they were very
different two. One was outgoing and quite verbal, the other rather shy.
Their final grades were different too. My friends in biology, who know a
lot more about this issue than I, say that the current thinking about
nature vs. nurture is that they are both extremely important: 50/50 -
that's their considered opinion.

Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 12:02:15 -0500
Subject: 15.1176 The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1176 The Murder of Gonzago

 >David Cohen has made some interesting observations about fate versus
 >free will with reference to augury.  I realized that in my response to
 >him, my terminology is probably somewhat confusing . . . .

 >2)  David's ideas about Free Will vs. Fate

Perhaps I should wait till my post of today is digested, but okay . . .

 >3) . . . I submit that David's viewpoint and mine may be closer than
he imagines,
 >once we get past the rhetoric and examine the mechanics of fate a little
 >more closely.

I have my doubts, so here's my view, boiled down:  The question of free
will can be cast into two basic questions about our character,
motivation, and conscious intentions: what we do and what we are.  The
first question is about what we do:

[1]  To what extent do our actions stem from our own will as opposed to
current exigencies and other people's wills ?

It's what most people have in mind when they speak of their free will:
more formally the application of conscious rational powers to formulate
"intelligent" actions free of influences external to our conscious
selves, including unpredictable chance events.  If free will in this
sense is an illusion, than our belief that we can do whatever we want to
do is a delusion

The first question is about what we do; the second is about what we are:

[2]  To what extent is our will free from the controlling influences of
our unique biology and childhood conditioning"?

Here's a more troublesome question, indeed, for the possibility that we
have no free will-that the belief that we are free to be whatever we
want to be is a delusion-invokes the specter of genetic and other
biological determinism (tyranny from within), as well as the specter of
early environmental, including parental, determinism (tyranny from without).

 >I think we might have to clear up point number one first, since most of
 >us are probably starting with these presuppositions . . .

Forgive me, but I do not subscribe to the augury business, except in the
sense that we can all make predictions, some of us better than others,
based on knowledge of persons and things.

GLENDOWER
     I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR
     Why, so can I, or so can any man;
     But will they come when you do call for them?

 >B.  If you, using augury, contradict my belief in my ability to bring
 >about an event by making a contrary prediction, you are preventing the
 >exercise of my free will.

I would say that this example merely demonstrates the kinds of external
influences that support the view that that there is no free will,
however real it may seem.

 >C.  Fate (or at least belief in it, combined with a contradictory
 >prediction) prevents free will.

I still don't know what you mean my fate.  If by fate, you mean how
things fall out-whatever ill be will be-then it is a trivial concept
except perhaps in some deep philosophical sense, e.g., why is there
anything rather than nothing.  If by fate, you mean something more
personal, e.g., Providence, then all you are doing is introducing yet
another constraining external influence (social, divine, astrological,
etc), which supports the view that there is no free will.

 >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

 >E.  I am no longer accountable for the outcome of predicted events.

You are if you made them happen!

 >I will leave it up to David to define what he means by these terms, and
 >how he sees them fitting together.

See above.  If you need more, please ask.

 >To contrast this with an augerer's thoughts about free will vs. fate:
 >A.  "Free will" is a person's exercise of their ability to make a
 >choice.  It frequently is modulated by a person changing their mind
 >about a course of action, or deciding to try a different approach.

As I have said before, there is nothing in the making of choices that
necessarily says anything definitive about free will. Again, the example
of identical twins reared apart making the same choices is instructive.
  One ignores these kinds of findings at one's intellectual peril

 >C.  The outcome of the choice may be other than what the chooser intended.

This is, of course, as true as it is self-evident. (Incidentally, not
all self-evident things are true, e.g., the power of normal parenting to
shape a child's personality development.)

 >D.  The choice itself and its outcome can normally be predicted with a
 > high degree of accuracy, allowing for human error.

Not so, according to empirical evidence, especially when the base rate
of the choice or outcome is low.  By base rate, I mean the frequency of
events.  So for example, the "choice" of suicide (low base rate) is
virtually unpredictable, even with a valid suicide test.  Even with a
99% accurate test, such prediction of suicide in any individual,
whatever his test score, is virtually unpredictable-all the predictions
based on the test will prove false positives.   On the other hand, the
"choice" of pushing a child to attend college is highly predictable
given the high base rate of such choices.  Of course, in the case of
high base-rate events, the prediction is trivial

 >E.  It does not matter if the person for whom you make a prediction
 >about knows the prediction or not; the outcome will be the same.

Some might say that it doesn't matter if you make a prediction or not,
that is, if the person doesn't know about it, the outcome will be the
same, i.e., the prediction has no effect

 >H.  Fate is what makes it possible for us to make predictions.  Without
 >it, predictions would never be valid.  Nearly all events are fated.

I don't know what this means because I don't know what you mean by fate.
  Question:  If nearly all events are fated (whatever that means), what
events are not fated.  Again, without concrete examples, what you are
talking about is hard to divine.

Note: the items I did not respond to I either believe are
straight-forward, true, or ambiguous.

David Cohen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 13:20:03 -0400
Subject: The Murder of Gonzago
Comment:        SHK 15.1176 The Murder of Gonzago

It's encouraging to learn that Pamela Richards is able to see into the
future. Over here, the gift is less widely distributed and seems denied
to all but politicians.  Tony Blair's abilities in this area are, for
example, legendary.

T. Hawkes

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Hamlet's Ghost

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1188  Thursday, 3 June 2004

[1]     From:   Bruce W. Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 08:38:19 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

[2]     From:   David Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 10:46:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

[3]     From:   Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 18:36:44 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

[4]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 02 Jun 2004 13:46:00 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce W. Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 08:38:19 -0500
Subject: 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

Pamela Richards writes that in 3.4 Old Hamlet's Ghost "appears in white
--- in a nightgown (according to the F. stage direction)". I believe
that the Folio stage direction here is limited to "Enter Ghost", with no
description of what he was wearing. The only reference in the scene to
the ghost's garb is young Hamlet's "my father, in his habit as he
lived," which of course does not specify what type of clothing that
might be, and could even mean  the accustomed armor in which he appeared
on the battlement. The stage direction, "Enter the ghost in his night
gown" appears in the first quarto edition of 1603, a text apparently
reconstructed from a contemporary bit-part actor's seriously flawed
memory. Some editors have found it thematically useful to incorporate
the first quarto's stage direction into later editions, but the quarto
is its only contemporaneous appearance, and the direction was not
maintained when the First Folio was published in 1623.

Bruce W. Richman
Dept. of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
University of Missouri

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 10:46:15 -0500
Subject: 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

 >This seems to come from a Catholic source, because at this time of
 >history, Protestants were being taught that Purgatory did not exist . . .

Is it the case that at the time Shakespeare was writing, the Church of
England had dispensed with Purgatory"?

David Cohen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 18:36:44 +0100
Subject: 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

Claude Caspar writes:

 >One thing seems true, at least un-refuted, that the ghost (whether real
 >or imagined! or just ghostly) is the ONLY Catholic in the play...

I disagree.

Hamlet Sr says that because he died "unhousled, dis-appointed, unaneled"
(without the sacrament of the Eucharist, without death-bed confession
and absolution, and without the ritual anointing of extreme unction), he
has ended up in Purgatory rather than Heaven.  Although two of the three
sacraments mentioned by the Ghost had officially been dropped by the
Anglican church, young Hamlet nowhere dismisses his father's account as
Papist superstition.  When he has the opportunity to kill Claudius at
his prayers, he stops himself - because it would be unfair if the
villain went straight to Heaven while his father continued to do time in
Purgatory.

It is often assumed that Hamlet (who alone in the play utters the
Catholic oath "By'r lady") must be a Protestant because he studied at
Wittenberg.  It is unlikely however that WS knew anything about Martin
Luther other than the fact he was German.  Besides, a theatrical
audience at that time would be more likely to associate Wittenberg with
Faustus than Luther.

And it isn't just the two Hamlets who talk like Catholics.  As discussed
last week, Ophelia sings of her "true-love" as a Catholic pilgrim with
"cockle hat and staff".  This pilgrim would have found himself in a
prison cell in Shakespeare's London.

Again, at Ophelia's burial a furious Leartes asks the priest "What
ceremony else?".  The "churlish" priest answers:

"PRIEST   No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead
To sing sage requiem and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls."

On the face of it, the (rather Puritan) priest is merely saying that
Ophelia's death was "doubtful", hence the "maimed rites".  To Catholics
in the audience though, Leartes' question could now be asked of ALL
burials in England, as the prayers for the dead (a waste of breath now
that Purgatory no longer existed) had been dropped from the prayerbook.
  Hamlet was written in 1600-1601.  If WS made it up to Stratford four
years earlier for his son Hamnet's funeral, he may well have muttered
the same question to his wife and neighbours, 'What ceremony else?'.

To ask that question openly would have clapped WS in prison.  Like the
character of Hamlet, WS may have felt urged to say something, but was
unable to say what is in his heart.  "But break, my heart, for I must
hold my tongue".

Hamlet poses the crucial dilemma that all English Catholics would have
felt painfully in 1600:

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them."

In the writing of Hamlet, I think WS answered that question for himself,
and in doing so, made a crucial discovery that influenced all his later
writings.

In the play within a play Hamlet the prince finds a way of saying
indirectly what he cannot say openly in the dangerous Denmark court.  I
think with Hamlet the play WS made the same discovery himself.  While
many of his co-religionists were in prison - or worse - WS realised that
he was in an enviable position.  He was not only invited to court, he
was in a position to subtly influence his royal patrons with his art.  I
believe this is what he did for the rest of his career.

Peter Bridgman

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 02 Jun 2004 13:46:00 -0400
Subject: 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1177 Hamlet's Ghost

 >As I'm not sure whether this is a serious question, a tongue-in-cheek
 >rejoinder, or a criticism of some remark of mine, I'm at something of a
 >loss how to respond.

It is a serious question. I wonder if we have any firm idea regarding
how many Renaissance English per hundred believed in ghosts. I think
it's intuitive to believe that most of them did, but many times the
counter intuitive answer is correct. Has anyone done the leg work, or
are we guessing? Of course, as Don suggests, it would be difficult to
get an accurate assessment -- but some bright young (or even old)
scholar may figure out a method.

Bill Godshalk

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Representing Incest in Genealogy

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1186  Thursday, 3 June 2004

[1]     From:   Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 14:14:16 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 15:06:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 23:17:52 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 14:14:16 +0100
Subject: 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy

Larry Weiss writes:

 >Isn't there an Old Testament tale about two sisters who seduce their
 >father into a three-way?  As I recall, it was considered admirable for
 >some reason.

That was Lot and his daughters:

"After leaving Zoar, Lot settled in the hill country with his two
daughters, for he dared not stay at Zoar.  He lived in a cave, he and
his two daughters.

The elder said to the younger, 'Our father is an old man, and there is
no one here to marry us in the normal way of the world.  Come on, let us
ply our father with wine and sleep with him.  In this way we can
preserve the race by our father.'  That night they made their father
drunk, and the elder slept with her father though he was unaware of her
coming to bed or of her leaving.  The next day the elder said to the
younger, 'Last night, I was the one who slept with our father.  Let us
make him drunk again tonight, and you go and sleep with him.  In this
way we can preserve the race by our father.' They made their father
drunk that night too, and the younger went and slept with him, though he
was unaware of her coming to bed or of her leaving.  Both Lot's
daughters thus became pregnant by their father."

The babies (male of course) go on to become the ancestors of the
Moabites and Ammonites.  While there is no criticism of Lot or his
daughters (the girls' motive clearly is to perpetuate the race) it's
interesting how it's the girls who plan the incest and the old man is
entirely blameless.  The Middle East doesn't seem to have changed much.

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 15:06:29 +0100
Subject: 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy

 >As a reminder of the relevance of this topic to WS, it has been my
 >feeling that many people have either not understood or not taken
 >seriously enough the incest question with regard to Henry VIII-Katherine
 >and Claudius-Gertrude. If you allow Hamlet the same disgust to the
 >romance of his mother with her brother-in-law as one with her brother,
 >his early attitude seems quite logical and very much to be expected.

Apart from the marriage to a brother's widow, I don't think the
Henry-Katherine and Claudius-Gertrude situations are particularly
comparable.

Katherine's marriage to Henry's older brother Arthur was (at least
officially) not consummated when the consumptive Arthur died.  At his
death Katherine was a pretty 16 year old widow.  When Henry came to the
throne he showed no disgust at all in marrying his brother's widow.  A
papal dispensation was needed but this was a formality only.  There was
no condemnation from bishops (or proto-Puritans) of Henry and
Katherine's marriage, and the court and country were relieved when the
dispensation was given.  The disgust, and the claims of incest, only
came later, after the poor woman failed to give birth to a son.

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Jun 2004 23:17:52 +0100
Subject: Representing Incest in Genealogy
Comment:        SHK 15.1174 Representing Incest in Genealogy

"Yes, the rulers of Egypt seem to have practiced institutional incest
because they were gods and could only mate with other gods. But that
hardly constitutes a major exception. I have only limited knowledge of
this, but my impression is that incest was as tabooed in ancient Egypt
as everywhere else . . . for everyone except the god-kings."

Makes sense - otherwise we'd expect that the culture that produced
Wagner's Ring to be tolerant of incest, too.

m

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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