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Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0202  Wednesday, 24 April 2013

 

[1] From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 24, 2013 3:05:36 PM EDT

     Subject:     Whistling from the Margins: And Other Adventures in Being Right AND Wrong 

 

[2] From:        Gerald E. Downs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 23, 2013 6:53:52 PM EDT

     Subject:     Grain Dealer 

 

[3] From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 23, 2013 8:02:43 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: **JUNK** Shakespeare as grain hoarder 

 

[4] From:        Marianne Kimura < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 23, 2013 8:29:21 PM EDT

     Subject:     “Horrible” 

 

[5] From:        Peter Groves < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 23, 2013 11:51:08 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shakespeare Businessman 

 

[6] From:        Clark J. Holloway < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         April 24, 2013 2:47:12 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 24, 2013 3:05:36 PM EDT

Subject:     Whistling from the Margins: And Other Adventures in Being Right AND Wrong

 

Whistling from the margins: and other adventures in being right AND wrong

 

The schoolyard is erupting again with some of those wild punches that make those of us really interested in playing stickball figure we might want to go hide for a while, sit down with a good book, watch some dumb television. In the last few months I’ve been somewhat cheered (and getting in much more playing time) because of a short review article in one of my favorite literary journals, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (January 2013).  Michael Shermer, the publisher of SCEPTIC magazine, has a page-long piece called, “Logic-Tight Compartments: How our modular brains lead us to deny and distort evidence.” Hmmmmm.  Seems to be a lot of that being noticed on every side of several of our recent exchanges.  

 

Shermer cites the work of an evolutionary psychologist (I may start calling myself an evolutionary textual scholar), Robert Kurzban in his WHY EVERYONE (ELSE) IS A HYPOCRITE (Princeton 2010) where Kurzban argues that in each of our own heads we hold independent but interacting modules of belief, happily contradicting one another despite our illusory sense of being under control of a single consistent persona.  

 

Shermer cites a 2010 article, “When in Doubt, Shout!” in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, by David Gal and Derek Rucker who found that strenuous advocates for particular positions were more likely to have had their believes challenged in the past by some pretty convincing arguments. (“The louder you shout, the wronger you are?” wherever that is from.)

 

But the most interesting citation came from the journal PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.  What follows is a quote from Shermer’s piece:

 

“In the 2012 paper ‘Misinformation and its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful De-Biasing” Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues suggest these strategies: ‘Consider what gaps in people’s mental events models are created by debunking and fill them using an alternative explanation. . . . To avoid making people more familiar with misinformation . . . emphasize the facts you want to communicate rather than the myth. Provide an explicit warning before mentioning a myth, to ensure that people are cognitively on guard and less likely to be influenced by the misinformation. Consider whether your content may be threatening to the worldview and values of your audience.  If so, you risk a worldview backfire effect.” (Darn!  So THAT’S why Fredson Bowers and Richard Proudfoot got so knicker-snitted when I showed ‘em all that evidence of authorial revision in Shakespeare: WORLDVIEW BACKFIRE EFFECT.  Kind of like a Global Flatulence Explosion and subsequent denials.)      

 

Shermer concludes, “Debunking by itself is not enough. We must replace bad bunk with sound science.”

 

How does that irregular verbal conjugation go? . . . “I am firm. You are stubborn.  He / she / it is pig-headed”? 

 

So maybe Shakespeare was a smarmy capitalist pig, and maybe all my TIAA-CREF retirement fund investments pass anybody’s moral muster, but Shakespeare’s virtue was that along with Chaucer and Genesis and Jane Austen he taught us to look at such things, to feel at one moment what it is like to be swayed and also be dismayed by Menenius, AND to feel from inside the gnawing, yearning hollowness of Coriolanus’s suicidal machismo. (In my part of the Bronx, we fought the Irish and sometimes the Litvacks, not the Volsces.)

 

I was just coaching a chorus performing a ferocious piece called The Holocaust Cantata. One narrator has to “perform” Hitler’s justification for his genocidal actions just before his armies go into Poland. I sketched out for the performer some of the experiences of starvation and demoralization that had been seen in Germany after the First War. So his ghastly need to eradicate any sources of possible repetition of such humiliation drives him into the nightmare.   

 

Well, gang. Let’s realize that we ain’t in that place now. We’re just a little het up about evidence. Keep on dancin’, keep on lookin’ for love, keep on shoutin’.

 

Ever, 

Steve Headpiggiewitz

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Gerald E. Downs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 23, 2013 6:53:52 PM EDT

Subject:     Grain Dealer

 

Far be it from me (an agnostic on agnosticism and blameless) to join a tabu discussion but perhaps it shouldn’t be taboo. If grain hoarding is not a qualified banned argument, those tracing their heretical opinions to other roots have little reason to care whether Shakespeare hoarded grain; nothing could be more irrelevant, even if it is consistent with their views. The topic is then reserved for the orthodox. And what we have in that respect is near unanimous agreement: we know who Shakespeare was; nothing in his personal history can cast doubt on what we know. But hoarding can’t be a “pro” argument, either.

 

Even so, it is nice to learn from Larry that Shakespeare was doing the citizenry a favor by withholding his Lucky Charms. Ben Jonson may have missed that point entirely. Presentism, anyone? And if M. Egan is playing both ends against the middle, well, wouldn’t Shakespeare?

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 23, 2013 8:02:43 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: **JUNK** Shakespeare as grain hoarder

 

>It’s a cartoon, Larry. It’s meant to be a joke. Like, if a thousand 

>monkeys typed randomly forever, would they eventually produce

>Shakespeare?

 

Yes, a troop of monkeys typing randomly forever are as likely to produce the works of Shakespeare as de Vere et al. were. I get it. And I know it is a cartoon, but one with a sting like Thomas Nast’s famous depiction of Boss Tweed as a vulture or Herbert Block’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon of Stalin at the gates of hell. 

 

>The Oxfordians are not my “patrons.” I just edit their annual journal,

 

For free?

 

>My editorial policy for The Oxfordian is “open door,” which means 

>that we welcome anything that meets our editorial criteria and 

>interests. We are proudly a peer-reviewed journal pursuing the 

>highest academic standards.

 

Is it peer-reviewed the same way your publisher, Edwin Mellon Press, is peer-reviewed—i.e., the author designates the reviewer?

 

>The Oxfordian has been described as the leading academic journal 

>of its type in the world.

 

Who described it so? This line reminds me of an email you sent me early in the Woodstock process, in which you said that your thesis “is slowly gaining acceptance” and you referred to an article in the Oxfordian containing what you modestly described as a “devastating rebuttal” of Mac Jackson’s contrary view.  What you left out was that you wrote that article.

 

>Our view is that the 17th earl of Oxford is the likeliest author of 

>Shakespeare’s plays

 

Emphasis supplied.  'Nuff said?

 

>Weiss ... does not understand cognitive dissonance. 

 

Yes, I do. It is “a feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.  In a state of dissonance, people may feel disequilibrium, frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.” So wrote Dr. Leon Festinger in his 1957 seminal article identifying the condition. Egan evidently feels no shame or other unease in advocating (not just holding) two diametrically opposed viewpoints.

 

>Finally, I am stunned, and I hope others are too, by Weiss’s 

>comment that it’s difficult to find anything in Shakespeare that 

>is particularly “humanitarian.” What are these, please?  

>Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,

>That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

>How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

>Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you

>From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta’en

>Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.

>Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

>That thou mayst shake the superflux to them

>And show the heavens more just.

 

What is that you ask. That is a speech of King Lear. Here is a speech of Gonzalo:

    

    I' th' commonwealth I would, by contraries,

    Execute all things; for no kind of traffic

    Would I admit; no name of magistrate;

    Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,

    Or use of service, none; contract, succession,

    Bourne, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;

    No use of metal, corn or wine, or oil;

    No occupation, all men idle, all;

    And women too,  but innocent and pure;

    No sovereignty --

 

Does that make Shakespeare a humanitarian? A utopian communist?  Should we take into consideration that Lear and Gonzalo were both senile? I for one think it more likely that Shakespeare agreed with Ulysses, who, unlike Lear and Gonzalo, was in full command of his mental faculties:

 

    ... O, when degree is shak'd,

    Which is the ladder of all high designs,

    The enterprise is sick.  How could communities,

    Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,

    Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,

    The primogenity and due of birth,

    Prerogatives of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,

    But by degree stand in authentic place?

    Take but degree away, untune that string, 

    And hark what discord follows.  Each thing meets

    In mere oppugnancy: ....

 

Who can say which of these speeches, or any others in the play, represents Shakespeare’s own sentiments? Make that assertion and I challenge you to support it with evidence from something he said or did in his own life.  

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Marianne Kimura < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 23, 2013 8:29:21 PM EDT

Subject:     “Horrible”

 

Dear SHAKSPER, editor:

 

How can Larry Weiss be so sure my idea is a delusion?

 

After all, it address disparate elements in “Romeo and Juliet” and unifies them. Does he have a better way to explain the odd features of the play? Was Shakespeare not capable of intricate and devious allegory? Was London not polluted by coal smoke?

 

Nevertheless, I say to Mr. Weiss:

 

You do look, my son, in a moved sort, 

As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, sir. (“The Tempest”) 

 

In my defense, I can only offer up the fact that my academic papers on the topic (two at the moment) were accepted through the peer-review process at an academic journal at a major university in Japan. 

 

I do think that culturally, the sun as a living mythological presence here in Japan may have helped me too.

 

I do think that vicious words such as “delusion” and “horrible” (when they are simply used as attacks and are not substantiated by explanations and logical reasons) are (I quote Hamlet):

 

“O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!”

 

Mr. Weiss is recommended to buy my novel Juliet is the Sun! In fact, if he will contact me, I will even send him a free copy!

 

Cheers,

Marianne Kimura

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Peter Groves < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 23, 2013 11:51:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shakespeare Businessman

 

According to Michael Egan, “The Oxfordian has been described as the leading academic journal of its type in the world” (“O, by whom?” as Malcolm says), which is rather like describing William McGonagall as the leading poet of his type in English literature. But the claim may have substance, given that most types of academic journal show an unfair bias towards claims that are based on evidence rather than on fantasy, special pleading and prevarication.

 

Peter Groves

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Clark J. Holloway < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         April 24, 2013 2:47:12 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

<quote>...Shakespeare ever visited Italy. We know he did because of the local detail his Italian plays contain, much more than might be acquired from some drunken sailor in a tavern. There is for example the sycamore grove just west of Verona, fleetingly al­luded to in Ro­meo and Juliet, Act 1, when Benvolio tells Lady Montague that he has just seen Romeo “un­derneath the grove of sycamore / That westward rooteth from [Verona’s] side.” It’s still there. </quote>

 

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that someone would actually go to Verona to verify the accuracy of a Shakespearean pun? The lovesick Romeo is reported to be brooding about in a sick-amour grove, so someone had to jump on a plane to determine whether there is, in fact, a sycamore grove just west of Verona? Given the abundance of sycamore trees in Italy, I’ll wager they’d find similar groves to the east, south, and north of Verona as well.

 

Clark Holloway

 
 

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