Saturday, July 28, 2018

Signior Oxford and the Rhetoric of Sincerity

Falling Foul of the Rhetoric of Sincerity

 German Shakespeare Studies at the Turn of the Twenty first Century. Ed. Christa Jansohn

Point of Reference or Semantic Space?:
Functions of Venice in Early Modern English Drama
Andreas Mahler

Urban Façade and Foreign View:

The development of an urban culture and the consequent change in social interaction have their origins in Renaissance Italy. In the middle of the sixteenth century Italy presented itself even to contemporaries  as “an incredibly urban society.” On the one hand this refers to the dominant role played by the leading Italian cities, such as Florence, Venice, Milan, and also Naples and Rome in the social structure of Italy and in the economic structure of Europe: on the other hand the term “urbanitas” describes a different aspect to the burgeoning urban culture, that of neighbourly intercourse orienting itself at external forms, so aptly described by Erving Goffman as “impression management.” In this sense it is possible to view Italy, defined by its cities, as a “societa spettacolo, totally oriented towards life in the public eye, “a ‘theatre society” … where it was necessary to play one’s social role with style, fare bella figura, to work hard at creating and maintaining as well as saving ‘face.’ In his studies of The Historical Anthropology of Early Modern Italy Peter Burke manages to show convincingly that Italy was in modern times “a land of facades,” a “part of the wider Mediterranean culture. “Here, if you don’t show off, you are dead.’ “ In this context, referring to Norbert Elias’s term “the threshold of embarrassment, “ he develops the concept of a “sincerity threshold,” which appears suitable for distinguishing southern European “urbanitas” from urban manners molded by central and northern Europe If we accept the opinion of Watzlawick it al., that all communication has a content and a relationship aspect, then southern European “urbanitas” could be described more precisely in terms of the relationship component (politeness), the northern European equivalent more closely in terms of the content component (sincerity). To draw the conclusion, however, that urban culture in Italy was largely governed by insincerity betrays a point of view molded by the North; social intercourse there was regulated according to the art of “honourable dissimulation,” as for example Torquato Accetto’s tract Della dissimulazione onesta (1641) puts it. In the urban culture of Italy appearance and reality were thus not mutually exclusive terms; rather, appearance is a part of reality, deliberately staged by the individual in relation to other members of society; it is a role whose character as a role is never in doubt. It is precisely this differing delimitation between politeness and sincerity, between appearance and reality, that is the cause of the intercultural misunderstanding which characterizes the relationship between England and Italy.

Othello, Shakespeare

 Iago -
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by th' nose
As asses are.

Nabokov - on Shakespeare
...No! At the destined hour, when you felt banished
by God from your existence
, you recalled
those secret manuscripts, fully aware
that your supremacy would rest unblemished
by public rumor’s unashamed brand,
that ever, midst the shifting dust of ages,
faceless you’d stay, like immortality
– then vanished in the distance, smiling.

A Brief History of facade
Facade is thought to have come to English from the Vulgar Latin facia, meaning “face.” Along the way it passed through both Italian, as faccia, and French, as _façade. The earliest meaning of the word in English was in reference to the front portion of a building, it’s “face,” so to speak (and face itself is sometimes used to describe this part of a structure as well). Somewhere along the way _ facade_ took on a figurative sense, referring to a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation. This is similar the figurative use of veneer, which originally had the simple meaning of a thin layer of wood that was used to cover something, and now may also refer to a sort of deceptive behavior that masks one’s actual feelings (as in, “he had a thin veneer of politeness”).

borrowed from French, going back to Middle French fassade, borrowed from Italian facciata, from faccia "face" (going back to Vulgar Latin *facia) + -ata -ade — more at 1face
facade Synonyms
 Droeshout Facade -


The Renaissance: Italy and Abroad
Ed:  John Jeffries Martin

…In his recent historical anthropology of Italy, the ‘land of facades’, Peter Burke proposes what he calls the ‘sincerity threshold’. Higher in the north of Europe than in the south, the sincerity threshold operates on a

Kind of sliding scale…so that a stress on sincerity in a given culture tends to be associated with a lack of emphasis on other qualities, such as courtesy. …Paradoxical as it may seem on the surface, sincerity cultures need a greater measure of self-deception than the rest – since we are all actors – while ‘theatre cultures’, as we may call them, are able to cultivate the self-awareness they value less.

Burke seems to mean that it is more important in the north than in the south to make statements of intention correspond to overt actions. In the southern theatre cultures, norms are more often established in BEHAVIOURAL rather than verbal terms; thus, the issue of intention and sincerity is less likely to arise. The goal of social relations in a theatre culture is similar to that of dramatic acting: to create the appearance of effortless, natural behaviour even though all may be calculated. Such an emphasis on appearances correlates with the belief, which anthropologists find characteristic of Mediterranean societies, that ‘seeing’ is the only reliable source of knowledge.

Eyes of Ignorance:

Jonson, Staple of News

For your own sakes, not his, he bade me say
Would you were come to hear, not see a play.
Though we his actors must provide for those
Who are our guests here in the way of SHOWS,
The maker hath not so. He'd have you WISE
Much rather by your EARS than by your EYES.

Jonson - Cynthia’s Revels Act 1 Sc. IV

 (Signior) Amorphus. Since I trode on this side the Alpes, I was not
so frozen in my Invention. Let me see: to accost him
with some choice remnant of Spanish, or Italian? that
would indifferently express my languages now: mar-
ry then, if he should fall out to be ignorant, it were
both hard and harsh. How else? step into some ra-
gioni del stato,
and so make my induction? that were
above him too; and out of his Element, I fear. Feign
to have seen him in Venice or Padua? or some face neer
his in similitude? 'tis too pointed, and open. No, it
must be a more quaint, and collateral device. As —
stay: to frame some encomiastick Speech upon this our
Metropolis, or the wise Magistrates thereof, in which
politick number, 'tis odds, but his Father fill'd up a
Room? descend into a particular admiration of their
Justice, for the due measuring of Coals, burning of
Cans, and such like? as also Religion, in pulling
down a superstitious Cross, and advancing a Venus, or
Priapus, in place of it? ha? 'twill do well. Or to talk
of some Hospital, whose Walls record his Father a
Benefactor? or of so many Buckets bestow'd on his
Parish-church, in his life time, with his name at length
(for want of Arms) trickt upon them? Any of these?
Or to praise the cleanness of the Street, wherein he
dwelt? or the provident painting of his Posts against he
should have been Prætor? Or (leaving his Parent) come
to some special Ornament about himself, as his Rapier,
or some other of his Accoutrements? I have it: Thanks,
gracious Minerva.

Cynthia’s Revels Act 1 Sc. IV
 Amorphus. What say you to your Helicon?
   Crites. O, the Muses well! that's ever excepted.
   Amo. Sir, your Muses have no such Water, I assure
you; your Necter, or the juyce of your Nepenthe is no-
thing to it; 'tis above your Metheglin, believe it.
   Asotus. Metheglin! what's that, Sir? may I be so audaci-
ous to demand?
   Amo. A kind of Greek Wine I have met with, Sir, in
my Travels; it is the same that Demosthenes usually
drunk, in the composure of all his exquisite and melli-
fluous Orations.
   Cri. That's to be argued (Amorphus) if we may cre-
dit Lucian, who in his Encomio Demosthenis affirms, he
never drunk but Water in any of his compositions.
   Amo. Lucian is absurd, he knew nothing: I will be-
lieve mine own Travels, before all the Lucians of Eu-
He doth feed you with fittons, figments, and
   Cri. Indeed (I think) next a Traveller, he do's pret-
tily well.
   Amo. I assure you it was Wine, I have tasted it, and
from the hand of an Italian Antiquary, who derives it
authentically from the Duke of Ferrara's Bottles.


Jonson, Cynthia’s Revels
P R O L O G U E.

If gracious silence, sweet attention,
 Quick sight, and quicker apprehension,
(The lights of Judgments throne) shine any where;
Our doubtful Author hopes this is their Sphere.
And therefore opens he himself to those;
To other weaker Beams his labours close:
As loth to prostitute their Virgin strain,
To ev'ry vulgar and adult'rate Brain,
In this alone, his
Muse her sweetness hath,
She shuns the print of any beaten Path;
And proves new ways to come to learned Ears:
Pied ignorance she neither loves nor, fears.
Nor hunts she after popular Applause,
Or fomy praise, that drops from common Jaws:
The Garland that she wears, their bands must twine,
Who can both censure, understand, define
What merit is: Then cast those piercing Rays,
Round as a Crown, instead of honour'd Bays,
About his
Poesie; which (he knows) affords
Words, above action: matter, above words.

Cynthia’s Revels
Act 1 Sc. III
 Amorphus. I am a Rhinoceros, if I had thought a Creature
of her symmetry, could have dar'd so improportionable,
and abrupt a digression. Liberal, and divine Fount,
suffer my prophane hand to take of thy Bounties. By
the Purity of my taste, here is most ambrosiack Water;
I will sup of it again. By thy favour, sweet fount.
See, the Water (a more running, subtile, and humo-
rous Nymph than she) permits me to touch, and handle
her. What should I infer? If my Behaviours had been
of a cheap or customary garb; my Accent or Phrase
vulgar; my Garments trite; my Countenance illite-
rate, or unpractis'd in the incounter of a beautiful and
brave attir'd Piece; then I might (with some change
of colour) have suspected my Faculties: but know-
ing my self an essence so sublimated, and refin'd by
travel; of so studied, and well exercis'd a Gesture; so
alone in Fashion; able to render the face of any States-
man living; and so speak the meer extraction of Lan-
guage; one that hath now made the sixth return upon
ventuer; and was your first that ever inricht his Coun-
trey with the true Laws of the duello; whose OPTIQUES
have drunk the SPIRIT OF BEAUTY, in some Eight score
and eighteen Princes Courts, where I have resided, and
been there fortunate in the amours of Three hundred
forty and five Ladies (all Nobly, if not Princely de-
scended) whose names I have in Catalogue; to con-
clude, in all so happy, as even Admiration her self doth
seem to fasten her kisses upon me: Certes, I do neither
see, nor feel, nor taste, nor favour the least steam, or
fume of a reason, that should invite this foolish fastidi-
ous Nymph, so peevishly to abandon me. Well, let the
Memory of her fleet into Air; my thoughts and I am
for this other Element, Water.

Shakespeare – Sonnet 121

’Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
Not by our feeling but by others' seeing.
For why should others’ false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad that I think good?
No, I am that I am; and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown,
    Unless this general evil they maintain:
    All men are bad and in their badness reign.

And so sepúlchred in such POMP dost LIE, - Milton on Shakespeare


Far pompo, “showing off,” as an expression of an urban lifestyle and the rejection of all “POMPE” as INSINCERE aptly describes the difference between Italian and English culture, which is a topic in every English view of Italy. Such a view always remains essentially that of an outsider: it inherently contains a form of perception that always remains caught up in the perceiver’s mental schemata which set the framework for interpreting what it perceives. What an Englishman traveling to Italy sees is in the last analysis only a negative image of what he is familiar with: it corresponds to “the perception of an alien culture in terms of an upside-down version of one’s own”: “Catholic Italy is presented as a land of superstition, tyranny and idleness, in other words an inversion of the enlightenment, freedom and industry of Protestant Britain.” – Andreas Mahler


jig-given times/Jonson/Arsey-Versey

He is loth to make Na-
ture afraid in his Plays, like those that beget Tales, Tem-
pests, and such like Drolleries, *to mix his HEAD with
mens HEELS* ; let the CONCUPISCENCE of
Jigs and Dances,
reign as strong as it will amongst you: yet if the Pup-
pets will please any body, they shall be entreated to
come in.
Jonson, _The Alchemist_


If thou beest more, thou art an understander, and then I trust
thee. If thou art one that takest up, and but a pretender,
beware of what hands thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert
never more fair in the way to be cozened, than in THIS AGE, in
poetry, especially in plays: wherein, *now the CONCUPISCENCE of
DANCES and of antics so reigneth, as to run away from nature,
and be afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles the


Milton - On Shakespeare

...Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,   
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepúlchred in such POMP dost LIE,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

Jonson - (Malvolio)

T H E F O R E S T .



..............What if alone,
Without companions ? 'tis safe to have none.
In single paths dangers with ease are watch'd ;
Contagion in the press is soonest catch'd.
This makes, that wisely you decline your life 50
Far from the maze of custom, error, strife,
And keep an even, and unalter'd gait ;
Not looking by, or back, like those that wait
Times and occasions, to START FORTH, and SEEM.
Which though the turning world may disesteem,
Because that studies spectacles and shows,
And after varied, as fresh objects, goes,
Giddy with change, and therefore cannot see
Right, the right way ; yet must your comfort be
Your conscience, and not wonder if none asks 60
For truth's complexion, where they all wear masks.
Let who will follow fashions and attires,
Maintain their liegers forth for foreign wires,
Melt down their husbands land, to pour away
On the close groom and page, on new-year's day,
And almost all days after, while they live ;
They find it both so witty, and safe to give.
Let them on powders, oils, and paintings spend,
Till that no usurer, nor his bawds dare lend
Them or their officers ; and no man know, 70
Whether it be a face they wear or no.
Let them waste body and state ; and after all,
When their own parasites laugh at their fall,
May they have nothing left, whereof they can
Boast, but how oft they have gone wrong to man,
And call it their brave sin : for such there be
That do sin only for the infamy ;
And never think, how vice doth every hour
Eat on her clients, and some one devour.
You, madam, young have learn'd to shun these shelves, 80
Whereon the most of mankind wreck themselves,
And keeping a just course, have early put
Into your harbor, and all passage shut
'Gainst storms or pirates, that might charge your peace ;


Look how the father's face
Lives in his issue, even so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well turned and true FILED lines;
In each of which he *SEEMS* to shake a lance,
As brandisht at the EYES of IGNORANCE.
Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to SHOW

Eyes of Ignorance:

Jonson, Staple of News

For your own sakes, not his, he bade me say
Would you were come to hear, not see a play.
Though we his actors must provide for those
Who are our guests here in the way of SHOWS,
The maker hath not so. He'd have you WISE
Much rather by your EARS than by your EYES.

Ben Jonson and Cervantes, Tilting against Chivalric Romances
Yumiko Yamada

"Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe". The monument motif alludes to Horace's ode beginning "exegi monumentum aere perennius" [I have finished a monument more lasting than bronze] (3,30.1), expressing the immortality of his own poetry. But readers then may have thought of another meaning of "Moniment".

"Monument" still retained its etymological sense of "portent", deriving from the Latin monere, to remind [especially of universal disorder] (OED). It was used almost synonymously with "monster"; Shakespeare offers a good example in The Taming of the Shrew (1593-94):

[Petruchio] Gentles, methinks you frown,
And wherefore gaze this goodly company,
As if they saw some wondrous monument,
Some comet or unusual prodigy? (3.2.93-96)

Petruchio, appearing in bizarre clothes on his wedding day, thus brags to the attendants who stand astounded. The portentousness of the word is clear, for it is used with "some comet or unusual prodigy", while his servant Grumio was called a "monster in apparel" some 30 lines earlier.

Moreover, the "wondrous" that "modifies "monument" in line 95 here means "ominous". From this we can safely infer that "the wonder of our Stage" four lines above "Moniment" implies "portent" (OED) The few readers who perceived "the portent" behind "the wonder of our Stage", when they encountered "Moniment", a monster portentous of a sickness in nature or of a vicious age. Precisely the same thing can be said of Lope de Vega, who was called "el monstruo de naturaleza" by Cervantes. (p.63)


 Sonnet 89 - Shakespeare

Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
And I will comment upon that offense.
Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt,
Against thy reasons making no defense.
Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,
To set a form upon desired change,
As I’ll myself disgrace, knowing thy will;



O lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me that you should love
After my death, dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceasèd I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart.
O lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.