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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
The Genius of Shakespeare with Editor's Comment
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1046  Friday, 3 June 2005

[1]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Friday, June 03, 2005
        Subj:   Working with One Hand and Other Tales of Woe

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 12:51:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 2005 13:04:43 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 13:18:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

[5]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 2005 13:16:07 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

[6]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Jun 2005 14:45:01 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

[7]     From:   Peter Farey <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Jun 2005 10:05:39 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Friday, June 03, 2005
Subject:        Working with One Hand and Other Tales of Woe

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I am going to have a cast on my right arm for at least four more weeks
and on my leg for much longer. I am tired of not having my independence
and of staring at my own walls. I miss driving my new car (Prius hybrid
with all sorts of cool electronics) and am still adjusting to being an
older single parent of a preteen. I am weary of being in pain and still
have not gotten my desktop computer back the way I want it. Gratefully,
I am not depressed or angry - life changing experience, well, change
one's life.

All of this said, typing with only one functioning hand (and not
functioning as well as it might but that is another long story) requires
much effort and considerably more time than when one is able-bodied.

Recently, I have asked as politely as I know how that contributors
attempt to limit the length of their submissions because in part it
takes me a lot of time to format the digests the way I want them to look
before I send them out to the members.

I have also asked that members take contentious, dead-end topics
off-line to provide me a bit of a break from having to spend hours and
hours preparing the daily digests.

Further, I have received an inordinate amount of e-mail about regular
contributors to this and previous related threads and have been
consulting with the SHAKSPER Advisory Board so frequently that I am sure
the members of the Board are tired of hearing from me.

Frankly, David Basch has had more than an ample opportunity to convince
folks of his contention that Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon was
Jewish. And if you have been convinced by David Basch's evidence, please
send him an e-mail thanking him for enlightening you and copy it to me.

For now, I would like to put to rest discussions of authorship, ciphers,
and ethnic identity.

At this time, I need a while to heal and in the near future, when I have
my limbs back in use, to get back to my too long delayed scholarship and
to baking bread.

Everyone is free to exchange e-mails among each other on any of these
topics.

Thank you for your understanding,
Hardy M. Cook
Editor

PS: As usual, private comments are welcome, but please don't expect a
response from me other than my implicit thanks for your interest and
support in this list.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 12:51:11 -0400
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

Perhaps Dr. Richman can enlighten us about whether it is diagnostic of
any Axis I condition for someone to stubbornly insist on seeing things
that are not present while denying the reality of things that are
present, explaining established facts as the products of a conspiracy.
If Dr. Richman can't find it, I would be happy to lend him my copy of
DSM-IV with the pertinent passages highlighted.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 2005 13:04:43 -0400
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

Without endorsing any of Mr. Basch's theories, on the matter of how
Marlowe's name might have wound up being worked into a sonnet by
Shakespeare, if such happened, I clearly remember an informal contest in
high school where we competed to work each other's names, with far less
complexity, into poems to see who could do it best. It had nothing to do
with any assignment for school. We were just daring ourselves.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 2005 13:18:48 -0400
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

 > [1]   |
 > [2]   |
 > [3]  V    t  se
 > [4]     er    d
 >
 >Here the Latin word "Destrvit" begins to be approximated when it is read
 >up from the "d" on line 4 to the letters "es" that are read from right
 >to left on line 3. The remainder of the word picks up from the "t" on
 >line 3 in an arc that runs down and up to the left to add the letters
 >"re-V-T." With the recycling of the word "me" on line 5, this yields the
 >approximation of the second part of the Latin motto as "me
 >des-t-re-V-T."

A paradigm of sanity, no?

In all seriousness, a cypher requires a key, otherwise it cannot be
read.  For example, Julius Caesar's "perfect square" code could be
deciphered consistently from any encrypted text by anyone who knew the
key.  But this has no key.  The "hidden message" here can be discerned
only by deleting characters at random and reading what remains in
whatever fashion leads Basch to see the message he fancies, sometimes
backwards, sometimes up to down, sometimes down to up and sometimes in
an "arc."  Given any text long enough and sufficient patience any
message can be found, and it becomes even easier when one multiplies the
possibilities by using other languages.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 2005 13:16:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

David Basch writes, "The use of configurations ('rebuses'?) that spell
or approximate names or words, which have been shown to be applied to
Shakespeare's name in Sonnet 148...But I think the appearances I have
pointed out in Sonnet 148 pass Farey's test of validity by being
reinforced by their repetitions and context.  For example, the four
letter sequence W-I-L-L that appears at equal letter skips appears twice
in this sonnet along with the 'accidents' of a four letter acrostic that
reads 'I WIL' and the appearance of an approximation of the poet's
surname in a divided configuration with its parts abreast of one
another. What is more, numerous versions of his name 'Will' appear...To
show that Sonnet 148 is not a fluke in harboring such devices, I would
now introduce Sonnet 73. This sonnet is notable in presenting
configurations that yield Christopher Marlowe's full Latin motto...There
is much more in the sonnet that makes evident that it is Shakespeare
that wrote it and not Marlowe...The point of the presentation of devices
in Sonnet 73, never before accounted by Shakespearean scholars, is to
demonstrate once again that such devices were used by Shakespeare and
are not to be explained away as accidents."

This question of when is a cipher a cipher in a text is the essence of
cryptanalysis.

As I pointed out in my book, the Friedmans wrote a book *The Shakespeare
Ciphers Explained.*  They quote the alleged cipher noted by M. Grimshaw
in 1919 with "William" found in reverse order in the KJV, linking it to
our William!  Not that the Friedman accepted it, only referred to it in
passing.

I also quote, according to Epstein in *The Friendly Shakespeare,* that
author Martin Gardner in The Washington Post in 1992 supposedly
disclosed that Will "had created acrostic-anagrams, including 'O
Titania,' in *A Midsummer Night's Dream, in Titania's love plaint,
'Out...Thou...I...The...ANd...I'll...And.'"  One thing the Friedmans
state about cipher analysis and solving is that for a solution to be
valid it must be possible to show that it is the only solution.
Also, cryptanalysts who look at the same material will arrive at the
same results, scientifically.  Then too, the cryptic message must leave
no doubts.  And future decipherers must discover the rules for ciphering
inherent in the coded message or document in which a coded messages is
hidden.  They clearly state that one doesn't put something in a secret
hiding place and then put up a sign saying: "Notice, Secret
hiding-place."  On the other hand, nor does one hide something so that
*only* one decipherer can decipher it to the exclusion of all others
looking at the same text.

But their message as professional cryptanalysts is: "The whole point is
that the originator of a so-called 'concealment cipher' starts with a
message and enciphers it.  The cover text which emerges is determined by
the cryptogram.  The decipherer works backwards and should reproduce the
plain text...It needs also to be pointed out that some of the
investigators we have discussed have absolutely no conception of
mathematical probability...."

The Friedmans were distinguished American cryptologists.  During WWII
William Friedman headed the US Army cryptanalytic bureau which broke the
diplomatic cipher machine code of Japan and later German codes.  Their
book won the Folger Shakespeare Library Literature prize in 1955.  So,
there is not a dearth of interest in this subject.  As I noted in my
book on the alleged KJV and Shakespeare possible link, this thesis owes
its roots to the Ben Jonson poem in the First Folio of 1623.   Their
book is a standard in Shakespeare scholarship on the question of alleged
ciphers in Shakespeare's works, and sum up in their conclusion, after
almost 300 pages of details, "But as far as the suppliers of
cryptographic evidence are concerned, we neither respect their methods
nor accept their conclusions."

During my years of study of this question, in Dickinson and Shakespeare,
I was an active member of the American Cryptogram Association.
Cryptanalysis is an arduous process and some members have spent years on
some of the most sophisticated ciphers before decipherment.  Apart from
the KJV cipher question, I like the 'O Titania,' in *A Midsummer Night's
Dream, in Titania's love plaint,
'Out...Thou...I...The...ANd...I'll...And.'"  It does not seem like much
of a stretch.

And it does beg the question, are there more in Shakespeare?  But for
anyone who wishes to delve in this matter, I would suggest a
professional cryptanalyst would defer to the Friedmans or else meet them
on their common ground.  Others need to study an awful awful awful lot
the methodology of cryptology.

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

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Jun 2005 14:45:01 -0500
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

Bruce Richman takes offense at Larry Weiss slamming David Basch, and
suggesting that the latter is mentally ill:

"Once again, I very strongly object to Professor Weiss's ad hominen
assaults upon those with whom he disagrees, and particularly his
employment of psychiatric diagnostic terminology in which he is
professionally untrained. . . .  Weiss's reference to Nashe's visions of
cyphers is within the proper bounds of the present discussion; his
suggestion ("Who me? I didn't say that!") that Mr. Basch is psychotic
(aimed earlier at Ms. Amit), is an offense to Psychiatry and an offense
to literary scholarship . . ."

I find myself on both or no sides here. On the one hand, I agree that
accusing another person of clinical derangement is impolite. On the
other hand, Dr. Richman's letter is followed very quickly by one of
David Basch's excursions into the fantastic. Since the latter seems
unaware of how absurdly forced his evidence is, and how meaningless his
resultant conclusions are, we are left wondering how else to describe him.

His commitment to a very dubious thesis, but even more his frantic
assumption that the way he is proving it has a shred of validity,
perplex us. Efforts of many people to point out the disjunction between
his thesis and logical reasoning have failed. What would a psychiatrist
say about this?

In all curiosity,
don

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Farey <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Jun 2005 10:05:39 +0100
Subject: 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1038 The Genius of Shakespeare

David Basch wrote:

 >Peter Farey gives an informed analysis of the use of hidden
 >messages in literary texts, though his account leaves out
 >some factors.

Indeed it does. In fact I restricted my review to those hidden messages
containing *names*, there being plenty of other methods I might have
mentioned otherwise (e.g. Jonson's "logogriphs, and curious
palindromes...Or eteostichs").

 >The use of configurations ("rebuses"?)

A rebus was a specific type of puzzle, in which the syllables making up
a name, word, or phrase were represented by figures, pictures,
arrangement of letters, etc. suggesting the way they sound. I understand
that in Camden's "Remains", for example, a man is mentioned who had a
rose, a hill, a loaf and a well painted on his gown, to represent 'Rose
Hill I love well'.  Later versions (like Aubrey's grandmother's)
introduced a punning representation of the syllable rather than a visual
one. There is a good (1582) example in French, which is simply 'G a'
meaning 'j'ai grand appetit' ('G' grand, 'a' petit).

 >that spell or approximate names or words, which have been
 >shown to be applied to Shaksepeare's name in Sonnet 148,
 >was not my own idea. Credit for making me aware of such
 >devices must go to the late Professor Leslie Hotson of Yale
 >who argued for the appearance of these in the Sonnets on
 >behalf of William Hatcliffe who he believed was the friend
 >of the Sonnets. Hotson had noted through the spelling of
 >Hatcliffe's cousins' names that Hatcliffe was actually
 >pronounced without the "c" as Hatliffe. With that
 >pronunciation, Hotson was able to show 43 instances of the
 >embedment of this name in the Sonnets through contiguous
 >forms such as "tHAT LIVE" and through divided forms such as
 >"HATh ... LIFE" and "tHAT ... LEAVEs," with parts sometimes
 >spread over two lines.

What Hotson did was to take successive 'chunks' of text from either
Thorpe's message or the Sonnets themselves, which together made various
weird spellings of the name. As "hat" appears in the Sonnets 461 times
(3 per Sonnet on average), the occurrence of a "lif", "liv" or
"liev/lief" (98 showings) shortly after some of them seem not all that
unlikely?

As far as I remember, moreover, there was never any use of the vertical
or diagonal "Equal Letter Spacing" that David Basch has adopted. Nor am
I aware of any 'concealed message' using such a method which was
recognized as such *at the time* in the way that the various examples I
have cited were.

 >Hotson also produced an Elizabethan document of a speech of
 >the time that incorporated almost a dozen or more well known
 >names in the manner of its wordplay that Peter Farey mentions
 >for Raleigh ("raw-lie"). This indicated a well trod device
 >for displaying names that could only be recognized by insider
 >friends.

I don't remember this, and I'm unlikely to be able to re-read *Mr W.H.*
for a while. So are there any more details handy?

 >Peter Farey is undoubtedly correct in cautioning that spurious
 >appearances of what look like words or names in such modes
 >will be confused for the real thing. But I think the appear-
 >ances I have pointed out in Sonnet 148 pass Farey's test of
 >validity by being reinforced by their repetitions and context.
 >For example, the four letter sequence W-I-L-L that appears
 >at equal letter skips appears twice in this sonnet along with
 >the "accidents" of a four letter acrostic that reads "I WIL"

The average Shakespeare Sonnet consists of 483 letters, of which 12 are
'W's, 32 'I's and 20 'L's. Given that there are 154 Sonnets in all,
there are undoubtedly some where the placing of the letters can be
re-arranged to produce 'W-I-L-L', or something like it, possibly even
more than once.

 >and the appearance of an approximation of the poet's
 >surname in a divided configuration with its parts abreast
 >of one another. What is more, numerous versions of his name
 >"Will" appear. So when the appearance of "sha-c spy" in the
 >same sonnet is presented, a version that is like two of the
 >poet's autographs as "shakspe," this is not something
 >isolated and meaningless but something that has a context
 >that ought to help give it credibility.

Not really. Both of the occasions when he appears to have spelt his name
like this were on the Blackfriars documents.  In each case, however,
there was a clear mark over the 'e', indicating that this was an
abbreviation. He no more *spelt* his name in this way than I spell my
first name 'P.'.

 >I would argue that these instances pass Peter Farey's tests
 >for significance since these are not unclear representations
 >and they do provide information to the reader, telling that
 >the poet has made use of such devices in the Sonnets.
 >I would ask how many of such related elements is it
 >possible to find clustered in a mere 14 line sonnet before
 >one recognizes that these as the outcome of deliberate
 >contrivance?

I don't know and, frankly, don't really care. Unless one has found a
message which (a) spells the name in a way they had actually used at the
time, (b) does actually say something about that person, and (c) says it
in away which is both intelligible and reasonably grammatical, there is
no point at all in getting into the question of probability.

Suffice to say that David Basch's deciphering of Sonnet 73 (whether or
not actually related to Marlowe in any way) is no more successful at
meeting these criteria than that of Sonnet 148.

Furthermore, this poem is undoubtedly one of the finest in the whole
collection, and I cannot believe that Shakespeare would have chosen his
words with any other purpose than the expression of his deepest feelings
in the most effective way possible.

Peter Farey

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