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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: June ::
WT Crux
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0309  Friday, 12 June 2009

[1] From:   Andrew Moran <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009 09:50:18 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0300 WT Crux

[2] From:   David Bishop <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009 21:51:09 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0300 WT Crux


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Andrew Moran <
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Date:       Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009 09:50:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0300 WT Crux
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0300 WT Crux

Other meanings of "intention" and "affection" make, I think, this 
passage clearer. "Intention," in the discipline of logic, may mean "the 
application of the mind to an object" (OED 11). That sense of the word 
would work with "affection" as the "state of the mind generally" (OED 
5), as Leontes seems to be reflecting on the mind's capacity to create 
images, a meditation that goes astray as emotional turbulence overtakes 
him. The mind's conception "stabs the centre," brings pain to his soul, 
because the mind has made an image that is painful, Hermione as 
adulterous. The image has no basis in the real, but the mind, he 
acknowledges, "communicat'st with dreams" and so "fellow" false images. 
So far, he's not saying anything irrational about the difficulty of the 
mind in encountering the real, though he's too quick to assume that the 
mind is "coactive" not with a mediated real but with what's "unreal." 
Paulina will say that the problem is with Leontes "faith" (1.2.430) and 
maybe we can see that in addition to lacking faith in Hermione he lacks 
faith in human reason (which may tie in with another type of faith -- 
he's decidedly Calvinistic in his assumption of depravity, which 
includes a strong emphasis on the corruption of the intellect). The 
error begins with what you rightly call the "Mad-Tea-Party" logic: 
because the mind may encounter nothing and be wrong, his mind, having 
encountered something, the suspicion of Hermione's guilt, must be right. 
The syllogism is just such a nothing that Leontes fears.

Andrew Moran

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David Bishop <
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Date:       Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009 21:51:09 -0400
Subject: 20.0300 WT Crux
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0300 WT Crux

I like to think Leontes' "intention" is not the intensity of the 
affection -- which is tremor cordis, a physical expression of jealous 
suspicion -- but the meaning, or the clearly imagined picture of 
adultery, which explains and, as Leontes wants to say, therefore, 
justifies the jealous rage. This imaginary revelation both stabs the 
heart and hits the center, of fear and truth, like an arrow hitting a 
bull's-eye. His imagination is nothing, in the sense that he has not 
quite seen the primal scene. But as Descartes said of a perfect God, one 
of his qualities must be existence.

The communication with dreams, I think, comes from Leontes' insecurity, 
which leads him to fear that Hermione will leave him. He had trouble 
getting her to accept his proposal. His speech is simple, crude, even 
vulgar -- "clap thyself my love" -- compared to the elegant exchanges of 
Hermione and Polixenes. He also admires Camillo's head-piece 
extraordinary, in contrast to the "lower messes" who are purblind, like 
gross louts. Despite his active imagination, he comes off as a 
provincial, almost low-class, king who feels inferior to his wife, 
daughter of the emperor of Russia. Why then is the Sicilian reception of 
the visitors so awesome? Because the mistress of this feast is Hermione. 
The awed Bohemian is Archidamus, a sly reference to Hermione, the 
arch-dame? We might well think that Leontes is right. How could Hermione 
not prefer Polixenes to him? But this is not that kind of play.


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