Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Essential Oxford and Elizabeth Incorporated in Shake-speare

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of any man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expounds this Dream.
In a magnanimous gesture (and a desperate hope to have his estate repaired?) Oxford presented Shake-speare to Queen Elizabeth as the shared posterity of their respective minds - their 'marriage of true minds'.

Phoenix and Turtle -

The bird of loudest lay becomes Shakespeare's poetry, rising from the ashes of the love from which it draws inspiration - Mutual Flame, Wilson Knight

Mutual Flame/ Oxford and Elizabeth/Marriage of True Minds
Shake-speare - Marston's wondrous creature incorporating minds of Oxford and his Queen.


Ascending the elements - earth, water, air, fire, quintessence/Ens/Mind

Phoenix and the Turtle

With what a spirit did the Turtle fly
Into the fire, and cheerfully did die.
He looked more pleasant in his countenance
Within the flame, than when he did advance
His pleasant wings upon the natural ground
True perfect love has so his poor heart bound.

Shake-speare as Marston's 'Creature' in Love's Martyr:

[Marston's] "Perfectioni hymnus": begins:

What should I call this creature
That now is grown unto maturity?

[He] ends with a witty adaptation of a Senecan sententia - "the difference between gods and mortals: in ourselves, mind is the best part indeed; but for the gods, there is mind alone, nothing else: - which Marston gives as
no Suburbs, all is mind
As far from spot as possible defining. (From Love's Martyr, Walter Oakshotte)


Exchanging Visions: Reading A Midsummer Night's Dream
David Marshall

...Hazlitt's and Lambs views about the fitness of A Midsummer Night's Dream for stage representation may or may not be persuasive, but they can teach us that one way to see the play is to recognize in this comic moment a *figure for the possibility of the play's impossibility. This would allow us to realize the senses in which the play is about the problems of representation and figuration: not only whether the play can be staged but also what it means to present a vision or an image to someone else's mind, to ask another person to see with one's eyes, to  become a spectator to someone else's vision. Such questions themselves raise questions about the conditions of theater: the power to enchant and transform vision; the possibility of autonomous minds or imaginations sharing dreams and fantasies; the difference between picturing a text in private reading and attending a public, collective spectacle. A Midsummer Night's Dream asks us to take seriously the dilemma of joining poetry and the stage. In adopting this perspective we will find ourselves considering yet another question: the possibility of what Shakespeare elsewhere called "the marriage of true minds."

Theseus - Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments,/Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth,/Turn melancholy forth to funerals,/The pale companion is not for our pomp'"


Marshall, con't.
This struggle over vision and imagination also characterizes the dispute between Oberon and Titania. Oberon's response to Titania's denial of his question, "Am I not thy lord?" is to seek control over her sight, to steal the impression of her fantasy. His strategy and revenge is to "streak her eyes/And make her full of hateful fantasies". With his magic he dictates how she will look and love, enthralling her eyes to Bottom's deformed shape until the moment he decides to "undo/This hateful imperfection of her eyes" and let her "See as thou wast wont to see". The changeling boy is ostensible the object of contention between Oberon and Titania, an occasion for both jealousy and disobedience. But it also represents and impression of Titania's fantasy that has been stolen from Oberon; when he says, " I'll make her render up her page to me" , we can hear a play on words which resonates in the context of the images and figures we have been juxtaposing. Just a Egeus insists on imprinting his own figures upon Hermia, Oberon wants to be the author of Titania's page. Egeus says that Hermia is to "render", Oberon is determined to make Titania render up the blank page of her imagination, surrender the rival image impressed on her fancy. It is with his power to replace the image of her love with the disfigured head of Bottom, to command her sight and fancy, to "leave the figure, or disfigure it" As a god, by the authority of his magic, Oberon enacts literally what Egeus and Theseus can perform only figuratively (or by coercion) when they tell Hermia to "fit your fancies to your father's will".

A Midsummer Night's Dream

“Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid! Have you conspired, have you with the contrived To bait me with this foul derision? Is all the counsel that we two have shared, The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent, When we have chid the hasty-footed time For parting us,-O, and is all forgot? All school=days' friendship, childhood innocence? We, Hermia, like two artificial gods, Have with our neelds created both one flower, Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion, Both warbling of one song, both in one key; As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds, Had been INCORPORATE. So we grew together, Like to a double cherry, seeming parted, But yet an union in partition; Two lovely berries moulded on one stem; So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart, Two of the first, like coats in heraldry, Due but to one, and crowned with one crest, And will you rent our ancient love asunder, To join with men in scorning your poor friend? It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly: Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it, Though I alone do feel the injury.”

Marshall, con't.

...We can further measure the seriousness of these images, as well as what they say about the conditions in which we find the play's characters, if we recognize in Helena's portrayal of an 'ancient love" and subsequent state of loss a picture of the emblem and story of love which Plato has Aristophanes present in The Symposium. Aristophanes' myth (which was extensively summarized in Ficino's popular commentary on The Symposium, proposes that we live in a fallen state, each of us a half of an original whole person frim which we have been severed. Love, then, both heterosexual and homosexual, " restores us to our ancient state by attempting to weld two beings into one...this is what everybody wants, and everybody would regard it as the precise expression of this desire...that he should melt into his beloved, and that henceforth they should be one instead of two. (...) Here Christian, classical and mythic imagery seem to come together to figure Helena's perception that what had been joined together in her ancient love has been put asunder.


Wall acts as visual metaphor, a 'translation of a metaphor in its literal sense" (to borrow Schlegel's description of Bottom's transmutation).

The magic of the play is that separate minds appear to be transfigured together; dreams (or what seem like dreams) appear to be shared.(...) The marriage of true minds that is the dream of theater presents the double prospect that it might mar us as it mends us, steal as it restores. What does the theater's figuring or disfigureing add up to ? Can theater's "transfiguring" mediate between or synthesize figuring and disfiguring? What do we exchange for our visions?


Marshall VI -
We have seen that A Midsummer Night's Dream dramatizes an economy of exchange, as if, like the Sonnets, its figures marked various registers with the expenses of loss and possession. The terms and imagery of theft are set down in the first scene, which pictures the "traffic in women" (to use Emma Goldman's phrase) upon which men for so long have founded their societies; and throughout the play, characters are figured as merchandise or stolen goods. (Hermia, Lysander, Helena, Demetrius, Egeus, Oberon, and Titania each "steal" or are stolen from or are stolen in the course of the paly.) The figure for these character-commodities is the child who rival Hermia as the most contested "property" in the play: the changeling boy that Titania is accused of having "stolen".  (According to folk tales, fairies stole lovely children and left deformed "changelings" in exchange; this boy is the changeling the fairies took, not left behind.) When Titania insists to Oberon that "the fairyland buys not the child of me" , she is perpetuating rather than rejecting terms that inscribe people in a system of economic relations. Her monologue pictures the boy as "merchandise" which his mother's womb, like a trader's ship, was "rich with". The changeling comes to represent all of the characters in the play who are traced or fought over as property. It also shows us that the other characters are changelings in the sense that the play's plot revolves around their exchanges: their substitutions and their interchangeability. Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, and Helena all exchange one another (are exchanged for one another) in almost every possible switch and combination. Bottom, too, is "changed" and "translated". In becoming a disfigured substitute for Titania's changeling boy, he becomes both a changeling for himself (a  monster left in his own place) and a changeling for the changeling (which Titania has been tricked into exchanging). The changeling boy is mysteriously absent in A Midsummer Night's Dream, but in a sense he is everywhere, the play casts its characters as changelings.
We also could say that the play is performed by changelings because that is what actors are. For Shakespeare's spectators, the term "changeling" would have been a synonym for someone Protean who would not stay the same from one moment to the next. This is precisely the "ontological subversiveness" (as Jonas Barish has called it) that actors were condemned for in Elizabethan England. Actors take other's parts and places: they exchange themselves for others, substitute others for themselves. This is further compounded in A Midsummer Night's Dream because characters often seem to be changed into actors: as parts and partners are exchanged and mixed up, individual characters seem reduced to parts or roles. We watch changelings portray changelings.
   In another sense, changelings are everywhere in the play because they fill its pages and dialogue: they are its figures of speech. The figures that Titania employs to tell the changeling's story enact and figure exchange in various senses. Describing herself on the shore with the woman who is pregnant with the boy, she tropes the ships to see their "sails conceive/ And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind:. Then the metaphor doubles or reverses - it is exchanged-  as Titania tropes the woman to see her "rich" with her own human cargo, just as the woman tropes herself to "imitate" the ships and "sail upon the land/ To fetch me trifles, and return again, / As from a voyage, rich with merchandise. The woman and the hsips stand for each other, exchanging properties in a double sense. If we recognize the act of carrying and trading cargo performed by these literal and figurative ships to be transport (as in metapherein) then we see that these double metaphors both dramatize and figure metaphor as they transfer, transfigure, exchange, and carry across. Born of this mirror of metaphors, destined to be switched, substituted, and exchanged, the changeling is also a trope for tropes. It makes sense, then, that in The Arte of English Poesie, published in 1589l, Puttenham invents a rhetorical category called "Figures of Exchange" and names on of thos figures "the Changeling." Puttenham refers to exactly the sort of constructions the mechanicals make - "a play with wordes, using a wrong construction for a right, and an absurd for a sensible, by manner of exchange: - but we can see that in a sens all tropes act and changelings. The changeling figures figures.

Tha Puttenham uses "changeling" to mean something ill-formed which appears in the place of something fair (note Amorphus for Oxford?) reminds us that in A Midsummer Night's Dream the changeling is not the disfigured child. Appropriately, the play ends with a blessing by Oberon, who has authored many of the play's exchanges and deformations in pursuit of his page, to insure for the newly married couples that

the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand.
Never mole, hairlip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be. (V, i, 398-403)

Prefacing Puck's appeal for our blessing and his promise of amends, Oberon's reprise of the figure of the changeling might remind us of the questions facing us at the end of the play. We might wonder again if we who have rendered up the pages of our imaginations in exchange for the play leave the theater free (or freed) from blots or disfigurement. This is what worried us as we let the play imprint its figures on us, risking change and amending. Have we been stolen and left as changelings?

Patrick Cheney, Sublime

Amorphus is a figure of transport, and is composition, made up of ‘forms’ that are ‘deformed’, takes us into what we have previously described as Kantian territory. Amorphus is that sublime figure of form that has none (curiously akin to Marlowe’s Helen of Troy), accommodated to the Jonsonian public sphere...


Patrick Cheney
English Authorship and the Early Modern Sublime

     ...Sources of the sublime identified by Longinus appear in Hotspur’s speeches : ‘great thoughts’; inspired emotion’; heightened figuration; ‘noble diction’; and elevated word-arrangement’ (Longinus, On Sublimity 8.1: 149). Naturally, the actor of Shakespeare’s lines would perform the noble diction and elevated word-arrangement with inspired emotion, taking the character’s – the author’s – own cue: ‘Oh, the blood more stirs.’ Hotspur’s ‘elevated…figures of speech’, too, represent great thoughts, for, in his defence of ‘honor’, he imagines himself TRANSPORTED: his imagination travels across the horizontal coordinates of ‘east unto the west’, ‘north to south’, and up the vertical coordinate of the moon and down to the ocean-bottom – the ocean being, for Longinus, one of the principal images of the sublime. [full fathom five] Such transport is the premier trajectory that the sublime tracks. In his 1589 Art of English Poetry, George Puttenham calls ‘Metaphora’ the ‘figure of transport’, because the word ‘metaphor’ means to carry across, ‘a kind of wresting of a single word from his own right signification, to another not of natural. But yet of some affinity or convenience with it’ (Vickers). Sublime transport is the ultimate figuration, and Hotspur speaks it.
‘Imagination’ is the word Shakespeare uses in line 198, when the father says of the son, ‘Imagination of some great exploit/Drives him beyond the bounds of patience’. Unlike Guiderius in Cymbeline, the idea of a ‘great exploit’ does not lead Hotspur into action but, like Arviragus – yet dangerously – into ‘imagination’, which Northumberland contrasts with the rational principle of ‘patience’. ‘Beyond the bounds’ is as succinct a definition of the sublime as we might wish to find.

Melville’s Sublime uneventfulness. Toward a phenomenology of the Sublime –
Ruud Welten

The sublime is something strange, beyond our imagination, uncanny even. The term is of great importance to Herman Melville. Moby Dick, the whale, is sublime because of its terrifying existence. This chapter investigates the consequences of a phenomenology of the sublime as a prime condition for consciousness itself. Sublimity is not a property of objects, but of subjective experience alone. Philosophic language and poetic language presume that subjectivity is overwhelmed by the experience of the sublime. As one tries to describe, it radically exceeds its parameters. The chapter is an attempt to specify the particular phenomenological characteristics of this transgression. The conclusion of the chapter includes some phenomenological suggestions to understand the sublime as not only an aesthetic category, but as the experience of the unveiling of the meaning of life.


Billy Budd/Beauty - noble foundling/changeling/Love's Martyr

'Yes, Billy Budd was a foundling, a presumable by-blow, and, evidently, no ignoble one. Noble descent was as evident in him as in a blood horse.' (Melville, _Billy Budd_)

Patrick Cheney

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare helps us see that the ‘poet’ is sublime because he – perhaps pre-eminently he – can solve the Kantian problem, the problem that the Western sublime aesthetic poses: how can the mind confront the formless, the boundless, and the ineffable, and not be defeated? Only the poet can use his ‘imagination’ to ‘body …forth/The form of things unknown’. By taking forms we cannot ‘know’ and ‘giving them shape’, the poet performs a miracle; he crosses the boundary from the divine to the human, and makes the human divine. The image of the poet – the actor on the stage – incarnates the deity, for the simple reason that to pen and stage it, the author has to do more than ‘glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;: he must cross the bourn from which few travellers return, and sing it at her death.

 Tom O'Bedlam

With a host of FURIOUS FANCIES
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghostes and shadowes
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end.
Methinks it is no journey.

Patrick Cheney, Sublime

Amorphus is a figure of transport, and is composition, made up of ‘forms’ that are ‘deformed’, takes us into what we have previously described as Kantian territory. Amorphus is that sublime figure of form that has none (curiously akin to Marlowe’s Helen of Troy), accommodated to the Jonsonian public sphere...


Jonson’s Cynthia’s Revels has been discussed as belonging to the group of plays that make up the Poetomachia, or Poets' War, but what has not been noticed (as far as I can tell) is that a line spoken by the Italianated ‘Signior’ Amorphus, the ringleader of the 'vicious' courtiers, not only identifies him with the literary earl Edward de Vere but also serves to contextualize Jonson's criticisms of the 'airy’ (note - elements) and sublime  forms of a  fashionable 'knot of spiders' that inhabit Cynthia's Court.

In the play, Amorphus, described by Jonson as 'the Deformed',  views the passing form of Crites/Criticus, and wonders aloud at Cynthia's apparent preference for the severe Jonson figure:
...And there's her minion, Crites: why his advice more than
Amorphus? Have I not invention afore him? Learning to better

These lines may have been somewhat infamous in contemporary literary circles as they had previously been selected by Puttenham in his Art of English Poesy as an example of the rhetorical vice soraismus, known in English as the mingle-mangle. That this line was spoken by the traveller and 'master of courtship' Ulysses-Politropus-Amorphus as self-description is unsurprising, since Jonson had already characterized Amorphus as the very figure of soraismus:

He that is with him is Amorphus
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. (CR, Act ii, Sc. III)

In the world of the play, Amorphus' inability to perceive the viciousness inherent in his own self-description is a function of his own self-love, which blinds him to the rules of 'virtuous' or worthy composition; virtue in the world of the play being (irritatingly) coextensive with Jonsonian values and neoclassical practice.

The original author, or translator of the line 'And of an ingenious INVENTION, INFANTED WITH PLEASANT TRAVAILE.' was John Southern in his 1584 Pandora; and it was taken from a prefatory poem that had been dedicated to the 'honour' of Edward de Vere.  In 1589 Puttenham had singled out Southern, describing him as a 'minion', selecting this line and others as examples of the 'intollerable' vice of affectation (and plagiarism).

Puttenham, Arte of English Poesy:

...Another of your intollerable vices is that which the Greekes call SORAISMUS, and; we may call the [mingle mangle] as when we make our speach or writinges of sundry languages vsing some Italian word, or French, or Spanish, or Dutch, or Scottish, not for the nonce or for any purpose (which were in part excusable) but ignorantly and affectedly as one that said vsing this French word Roy, to make ryme with another verse, thus.

O mightie Lord or ioue, dame Venus onely ioy,
Whose Princely power exceedes ech other heauenly roy.

The verse is good but the terme peeuishly affected Another of reasonable good facilitie in translation finding certaine of the hymnes of Pyndarus and of Anacreons odes, and other Lirickes among the Greekes very well translated by Rounsard the French Poet, andapplied to the honour of a great Prince in France, comes our minion and translates the same out of French into English, and applieth them to the honour of a GREAT NOBLE MAN in ENGLAND (wherein I commend his reuerent minde and duetie) but doth so impudently robbe the French Poet both of his prayse and also of his French termes, that I cannot so much pitie him as be angry with him for his iniurious dealing (our sayd maker not being ashamed to vse these French wordes freddon, egar, superbous, filanding, celest, calabrois, thebanois and a number of others, for English wordes, which haue no maner of conformitie with our language either by custome or deriuation which may make them tollerable. And in the end (which is worst of all) makes his vaunt that neuer English finger but his hath toucht Pindars string which was neuerthelesse word by word as Rounsard had said before by like braggery. These be his verses.

Whereas the French word is enfante as much to say borne as a child, in another verse he saith.
Southern had employed the line to praise the noble substance and ingenious invention of his patron Edward de Vere, and presumably Amorphus' adoption of the phrase as self-description in the play implies that he is unable to to distinguish true praise from flattery:

From the Ode to Oxford in John Southern’s Pandora, The Music of the Beauty of his Mistress Diana.(1584)

No, no, the high singer is he
Alone that in the end must be
Made proud with a garland like this,
And not every riming novice
That writes with small wit and much pain,
And the (God’s know) idiot in vain,
For it’s not the way to Parnasse,
Nor it will neither come to pass
If it be not in some wise fiction
And of an ingenious INVENTION,
For it alone must win the laurel,
And only the poet well born
Must be he that goes to Parnassus,
And not these companies of asses
That have brought verse almost to scorn.

Curiously, the phrase appears in a recognizable but slightly abbreviated form in the 1601 Quarto (while Oxford was alive) - but does appear in full in the 1616 and 1640 editions of Jonson's 'Works'.
This line not only serves to identify the affected courtier Amorphus (The Deformed) with Edward de Vere (a traveller known for his predilection for foreign styles), but I will suggest that its deployment in Jonson's 'most Ovidian' play echoes Jonson's objections to a monstrous 'Shakespearean' style, linking/exchanging the figures of Amorphus/Vere and William Shakespeare through a rhetorical figure of linguistic extravagance and disorder.


Sonnet CXXIV - Shake-speare

If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls:
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
   To this I witness call the fools of time,
   Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.