Whipping a gig

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.091  Tuesday, 6 March 2012

 

From:        Louis W. Thompson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 5, 2012 10:58:34 PM EST

Subject:     Re: the word “gig.”

 

Abigail Quart asks an interesting question: what does it mean?

 

The only logical progression I can find involves a sense of lightness, something not that serious, something less than heavy.

 

“Gig” may be a contraction of “whirligig.”

 

The word was adopted by jazz musicians decades ago to indicate an engagement to play that is not permanent. If the engagement was the same night every week, the musician would describe it as a “regular gig.” It wouldn’t be used to describe employment with a symphony orchestra. 

 

One of the earlier definitions of the word is a “light carriage pulled by one horse.”  A “gig” is also a top which, of course, balances delicately as it spins. 

 

I doubt there is much logic in the evolution of the word. Jazz musicians adopted language meant to be incomprehensible to outsiders. Shakespeare may have bent the word for his own use. 

 

Best,

Louis W. Thompson

Shall I Die Again?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.090  Tuesday, 6 March 2012

 

From:        Bill Lloyd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 5, 2012 8:16:26 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Shall I Die Again?

 

It’s been a while since I read “Shall I Die” or the arguments about it, but I remember that it always struck me as seeming more like a song lyric than a ‘poem’ proper—something along the lines of ‘On a day, alack the day’ from Love’s Labour’s Lost.  Is Gerald Downs making this implicit suggestion by larding his post with popular music snatches?

 

Bill Lloyd

 

Laertes, the Superior Fencer?

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.089  Tuesday, 6 March 2012

 

From:        Andrew Wilson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 6, 2012 12:56:21 AM EST

Subject:     Laertes, the Superior Fencer?

 

Has anyone here seen a production or read an interpretation of Hamlet that depicts Laertes as the clearly superior swordsman in the final scene, with the reason for Hamlet’s success in the first three bouts being that Laertes, knowing his sword is unbated and envenomed, can’t quite bring himself to stab Hamlet? 

 

Andrew Wilson

 

Cruppers

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.088  Monday, 4 March 2012

 

From:        John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 3, 2012 6:42:37 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Cruppers

 

I suspect that Harry Berger, who first raised the question about a “crupper full,” knows more than he’s letting on—namely, what a crupper is. It’s not the bag that catches the horse’s dung; it’s a leather belt that loops under the horse’s tale to prevent the saddle or collar (depending on what the horse is bearing) from slipping forward, as the OED makes clear, and as anyone who knows horse harness knows perfectly well. (Ask an Amish farmer.) Harry’s point, I think, was that you can’t fill such a belt with anything.

 

Best,

John Cox

 

Whipping a gig

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.087  Monday, 4 March 2012

 

From:        Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 4, 2012 4:36:53 PM EST

Subject:     Whipping a gig

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? I’m pasting from Open Source Shakespeare. I have a personal obsession with the word “gig” which has had a marvelous journey but I never—no idea why—did a Shakespeare search on it. And to come up with a completely unfamiliar (to me) expression!

 

Now I did look it up. Child’s toy. A top. That’s clear. Spinning a top. Okay. But the first comment is to whip HYPOCRISY. How does the association jump from that to toy?  And then to link it to a cuckold’s HORN??? LLL is my least favorite WS play so I don’t know it remotely well. Is there someone around with a better sense of the mental navigation here?

 

1

Love’s Labour’s Lost
[IV, 3]

Biron

1481

Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.

[Advancing]

Ah, good my liege, I pray thee, pardon me! 

Good heart, what grace hast thou, thus to reprove

These worms for loving, that art most in love?

Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears

There is no certain princess that appears;

You’ll not be perjured, ‘tis a hateful thing;

Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!

But are you not ashamed? nay, are you not,

All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?

You found his mote; the king your mote did see;

But I a beam do find in each of three.

O, what a scene of foolery have I seen,

Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow and of teen!

O me, with what strict patience have I sat,

To see a king transformed to a gnat!

To see great Hercules whipping a gig,

And profound Solomon to tune a jig,

And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys, 

And critic Timon laugh at idle toys! 

Where lies thy grief, O, tell me, good Dumain?

And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain? 

And where my liege’s? all about the breast:
A caudle, ho!

 

2

Love’s Labour’s Lost
 [V, 1]

Holofernes

1796

Thou disputest like an infant: go, whip thy gig.

 

3

Love’s Labour’s Lost
 [V, 1]

Moth

1797

Lend me your horn to make one, and I will whip about

your infamy circum circa,—a gig of a cuckold’s horn.

 

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