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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: May ::
Alms for Oblivion
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0339  Tuesday, 15 May 2007

[1] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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 	Date: 	Thursday, 03 May 2007 18:55:11 -0400
 	Subj: 	Alms for Oblivion

[2] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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 	Date: 	Sunday, 6 May 2007 13:53:08 -0700 (PDT)
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0321 Alms for Oblivion


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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Date: 		Thursday, 03 May 2007 18:55:11 -0400
Subject: 	Alms for Oblivion

Terence Hawkes writes:

<I repeat.  Charles Weinstein says that, in Coriolanus, William Houston 
"unforgivably alters his penultimate line to "...like an eagle in a 
dove's-cote. I/Fluttered all your Volscians in Corioles."'  Could he be 
more specific?>

I did not previously understand the question, since I took "he" to be a 
reference to Houston, and the entire remark to be a waggish comment on the 
vagueness imparted to the line by Houston's interpolation of "all."  (Of 
course, "dove's-cote" for "dove-cote" is also inaccurate).  I now assume 
that "he" refers to me, in which case I still don't understand the 
question, or at least the reason why it was posed.  Professor Hawkes must 
know the line as well as I do; in which case he also knows that Houston 
flubbed it.  I winced when I heard it, and I doubt that I winced alone.

--Charles Weinstein

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Sunday, 6 May 2007 13:53:08 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0321 Alms for Oblivion
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0321 Alms for Oblivion

Robert Projansky writes:

>>Joseph Egert writes:
>>
>>Robert Projansky writes:
>>
>> "There is no artist more abused by novelty than WS."
>>
>>In the year 2007, or 56 AD (Anno Derridi), a man about fifty,
>>intimately familiar with Shakespeare's works, both paged and
>>staged, buys a ticket to the Stratford Doran production of
>>"CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare." There he witnesses, as
>>described by Charles Weinstein, "an intermittent androphilia/
>>gynophobia", an "unforgivably" changed penultimate line, and the
>>title character's self-impalement on Aufidius' sword and Pieta
>>cradling in his enemy's arms. Furious, the patron tracks down the
>>theater owner and complains, "This play, as performed, is not by
>>William Shakespeare, as advertised. This is outright cozenage! I
>>demand my money back!" The owner refuses, at which point the patron
>>warns, "I Will not rest until I am reimbursed."
>>
>>Who should decide who gets the money? What is the optimal legal
>>mechanism?
>>
>> Perplexed,
>> Joe Egert
>
>"Dear Perplexed,
>
>"... I would rather see the most
>pedestrian (but intelligible) production imaginable than to see a
>production that does violence to the play."

The question I pose to Bob and fellow members is what legal mechanism 
he/they would find optimal for rendering final verdict on reimbursement of 
Bob or the patron in question, when either finds the "production does 
violence to the play." Who should decide the case where both parties are 
unyielding? a lone judge? a jury? an executive committee of scholars? an 
authorized Copyright official? a majority vote of SHAKSPER's membership?

Bob's example of "violence?":

"Duncan as a godfather mafioso and Mac and all the
other thanes his mob. That's what I mean by abused by novelty."

I believe Shakespeare aims precisely at Duncan as capo di capos, but 
subtly camouflages this subtext within the censorship constraints of the 
period. His murder unveils the suicidal contradictions inherent in 
feudalism's war ethos. Who is judged for teaching Macbeth bloody 
instruction? Who "o'ercharges" the cannon Macbeth with double cracks of an 
imperial charge, the recoil of which will slay Saint Duncan? Who creates 
his own hangman, a new avenging Cawdor, by summary execution of the rebel 
Cawdor? Who is the unconscious equivocator in league with the Sisters 
Weird? Who is the farmer who sows the poisoned weed Macbeth, then reaps 
the fatal harvest? Who is the serpent under the innocent flower, that has 
hatched Macbeth? Whose blood-smeared spongy officers bear the guilt of 
their great quell, of the revolt the newest state? Who has fed his 
harnessed horses full of horrors until they grow wild, turn on each other, 
and unseat their royal rider? Who is summoned ("a heavy summons") to 
Heaven, or to Hell? It is not milk that flows in gracious Duncan's veins. 
Who could have imagined "the old man had so much blood in him?" Who indeed 
is the "painted devil" of this play?

Now back to the case at hand.

I neglected to mention the fifty year old patron was strangely dressed in 
early 17thC British attire. Upon being asked about his costume, he 
announces: "I am William Shakespeare in the flesh, poet and playwright, 
son of John and Mary Shakespeare of Stratford. I am come from the past to 
resolve the authorship issue once and for all. Though I am forbidden to 
reveal my mode of conveyance or the horrors awaiting those who deny me 
justice, I will relate in detail my oeuvre's composition and any 
collaboration, revision, or adaptation. All errors will be corrected, all 
cruces unraveled You may interrogate and test me at length until you are 
satisfied I am who I say.

A panel of hastily assembled world class scholars and scientists thereupon 
subjected the revenant to rigorous examination. Yet his plausible detailed 
explanations did not fully convince. He then motioned to the panel and 
growing crowd, "Follow me." He led them to the grounds at New Place, drew 
a circle in the dirt, then pointed with his cane: "Here is where I buried 
my instruments fathoms deep. Dig and ye shall find." Hours and hours of 
digging at last unearthed a leaden casket. Inside were a broken pen and 
inkwell of Renaissance vintage--the souvenirs he had saved upon 
retirement.

The revenant next led them to the deepest well in Stratford and pointed 
down: "Dive deep. Here is where I drowned my book." Salvage experts dove 
down to the bottom and emerged later with a tightly sealed waterproof 
golden casket. Inside were the holy promptbooks of the canon along with 
the author's foul and fair holographs (unburnt)--in short, the mother 
lode. Exhaustive meticulous inspection and testing of the artifacts, 
texts, and revenant himself now led to one inescapable conclusion. The 
panel was unanimous: the revenant was indeed William Shakespeare 
incarnate.

As the word spread, the world gasped in wonder and anticipation.

Still, three groups did not join in celebration. First were the 
anti-Strats, sunk in deep depression, their raisson d'etre shattered. 
Rumors spread of suicide attempts and murder plots. Security was tightened 
to protect the revenant.

Next were the political ideologues, who refused to authenticate the 
revenant's identity before learning his positions on issues of the 
present--namely class, race, gender, environment, and colonial status. 
Only if acceptable, would they grant him legitimacy.

Last, of course, were the floating postmodernists, who remained calm and 
indifferent throughout the proceedings. To them, the incarnate traveller 
represented merely one more subject position of the unstable text "William 
Shakespeare."  After all, like Pilate before them, they had long ago 
washed their hands of the Truth.

Shakespeare himself, however, remained adamant: "I still demand my money 
back! If the theater owner insists on retaining the title "CORIOLANUS", 
then I further demand that my name be stricken from the marquis, stricken 
from every ad, stricken from every promotion. At long last, who will give 
me justice?"

Who indeed?
Joe Egert

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