Better than Shakespeare (8): Dejection: An Ode, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon,
With the old moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.

(Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence.)


Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Aeolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o’erspread
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live!


A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
In word, or sigh, or tear -
O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle wooed,
All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
Have I been gazing on the western sky,
And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And still I gaze -and with how blank an eye!
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen:
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!


My genial spirits fail;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze forever
On that green light that lingers in the west:
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.


O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live:
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud!
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the Earth -
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!


O pure of heart! thou need’st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne’er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life, and Life’s effluence, cloud at once and shower,
Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower,
A new Earth and new Heaven,
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud -
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud -
We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight,
All melodies the echoes of that voice,
All colours a suffusion from that light.


There was a time when, though my path was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress,
And all misfortunes were but as the stuff
Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness:
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth:
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth;
But oh! each visitation
Suspends what Nature gave me at my birth,
My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,
But to be still and patient, all I can;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural man -
This was my sole resource, my only plan:
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.


Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,
Reality’s dark dream!
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Of agony by torture lengthened out
That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that rav’st without,
Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree,
Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb,
Or lonely house, long held the witches’ home,
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee,
Mad Lutanist! who in this month of showers,
Of dark-brown gardens, and of peeping flowers,
Mak’st Devils’ yule, with worse than wintry song,
The blossoms, buds, and timorous leaves among.
Thou actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
Thou mighty poet, e’en to frenzy bold!
What tell’st thou now about?
‘Tis of the rushing of an host in rout,
With groans, of trampled men, with smarting wounds -
At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the cold!
But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence!
And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
With groans, and tremulous shudderings -all is over -
It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and loud!
A tale of less affright,
And tempered with delight,
As Otway’s self had framed the tender lay -
‘Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way:
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,
And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother hear.


‘Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:
Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep!
Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,
And may this storm be but a mountain-birth,
May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling,
Silent as though they watched the sleeping Earth!
With light heart may she rise,
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes,
Joy lift her spirit, joy attune her voice;
To her may all things live, from pole to pole,
Their life the eddying of her living soul!
O simple spirit, guided from above,
Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice,
Thus mayst thou ever, evermore rejoice.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Totally off subject, but I would like Bob to change the photo of himself he uses on this site, there are more up to date and less severe photos of Ellis (some even of him smiling) than the Night Thoughts book cover image.

    Things are still dire and maybe even less reason for having a smiling Bob Ellis image on this site than that severe image currently being used. But I swear I see the eyes move and hear it whisper “fuck you” every now and then. It’s starting to creep me out.

  2. “I pictured a rainbow
    You held it in your hands
    I had flashes
    But you saw the plan
    I wandered out in the world for years
    While you just stayed in your room
    I saw the crescent
    You saw the whole of the moon
    You were there in the turnstiles
    With the wind at your heels
    You stretched for the stars
    And you know how it feels
    To reach too high
    Too far
    Too soon
    You saw the whole of the moon
    I was grounded
    While you filled the skies
    I was dumbfounded by truth
    You cut through lies
    I saw the rain dirty valley
    You saw Brigadoon
    I saw the crescent
    You saw the whole of the moon
    I spoke about wings
    You just flew
    I wondered I guessed and I tried
    You just knew
    I sighed
    … but you swooned!
    I saw the crescent
    You saw the whole of the moon
    With a torch in your pocket
    And the wind at your heels
    You climbed on the ladder
    And you know how it feels
    To get too high
    Too far too soon
    You saw the whole of the moon
    The whole of the moon!
    Unicorns and cannonballs
    Palaces and piers
    Trumpets towers and tenements
    Wide oceans full of tears
    Flags rags ferryboats
    Scimitars and scarves
    Every precious dream and vision
    Underneath the stars
    You climbed on the ladder
    With the wind in your sails
    You came like comet
    Blazing your trail
    Too high too far too soon
    You saw the whole of the moon”

    - Mike Scott

  3. A Bronte Reader

    Once again Mr Ellis you treat us to a work of great beauty and deep reflection, and there is no denying the wonderful iambic rhythms that serve to carry Coleridge’s meditation on man and nature.

    “Better than Shakespeare”?
    Well, that depends doesn’t it?
    Which Shakespeare did you have in mind?

  4. Mr Ellis, I’d like to ask you a simple question. I would appreciate a civil response without your usual, and now quite tedious, bravado tacked onto the end.

    Why do you set up this false argument that a single poem, in this case Coleridge’s, is “Better than Shakespeare”?
    I’m not sure I follow your intent.
    Are you suggesting that there are a range of other single works that rival and/or surpass Shakespeare’s oeuvre or parts thereof? Because if it’s the former then you have an argument on your hands. If you mean simply the latter then I can’t imagine anyone who appreciates both the art and the nature of subjective responses proposing such an argument.
    But surely such simple arguments, such as the latter, are not your motive?
    I will for the sake of this discussion hold to the belief that you mean the former.
    That being the case let me follow on from A Bronte Reader (a fellow book clubber) and say this: Ode is not better, in my opinion and in no order, than
    King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, Richard II, King John, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Cymbeline, The Comedy of Errors, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing,The Winter’s Tale.

    For me the question is a little more determined; as a body of work, Shakespeare has no peer. For range and depth, Shakespeare has no peer.
    My view is that the Stratford man was a genius in the fullest sense of the word.

    Bronte, you have quite strong views too. Share them. Who knows? We may be able to generate some heat on this cold sunny morning!:smile:

    • It is better than any such rhymed part of Shakespeare of a similar length.

      Five consecutive sonnets, say.

      Or that much of The Rape of Lucrece.

      • A Bronte Reader

        Mr Ellis, so it is a matter of size comparison then?

        Is that what you’re saying?

        • Comparing like with like. Byron wrote better narrative verse than Shakespeare’s, always. Gilbert wrote better comic songs. Dickens wrote better comic characters. Chekhov wrote better bittersweet autumnal, adult plays. Bruno Heller wrote a better Antony And Cleopatra in Rome. No-one has written a better play than Hamlet. But I never said they did.

          You speak as if I had somehow blasphemed.

          I am merely comparing a writer with other writers. You may disagree. Fine. Don’t come thundering down on me like the Archbishop of Canterbury.

          I have done no wrong.

          • A Bronte Reader

            Mr Ellis, asking you a question is not “thundering down”. It’s asking a question. No-one is suggesting you’ve committed a “wrong”.
            I’m simply after a clarification.
            You titled your header “Better than Shakespeare”. What I’m asking is, better than Shakespeare, what? A play, a collection of sonnets, 2 plays, 4 poems and 5 plays?
            What exactly do you mean by “Shakespeare”?

            From your response it’s clear you are simply performing a personal “like for like”.
            Argumentative and I would add, without real purpose.

      • So, let me be clear, and I’m building this from your response to Bronte below, all you are doing is making a comparison of single works?!?

        I have to ask Mr Ellis, what is the value in that?

        You do realize we could be here till doomsday making such comparisons on just about anything that catches our fancy, don’t you?

        Can I have a turn of your parlour game?
        “Pale Fire” is better than “Slaughter House Five”.
        “Lord of the Flies better than “Howard’s End”.
        “The Ambassador’s better than “The Sun Also Rises”.
        Beckett better than Brecht.
        Strindberg better than Pirandello.
        Synge better than O’Casey.

        If nothing else, and it’s quite clear there’s nothing else, then I’m simply happy that you’re offering up full poems for our enjoyment.

        To avoid having people ask the question perhaps you should re-title your article, something like this:
        “Really Lovely Things”.

        Works for me.

        • I have lately co-written, and will soon direct on stage, a play called Shakespeare in Italy already hailed as ‘better than 27 Shakespeares but not 37′.

          We did it partly to show that Shakespeare was/is not a divinity but another writer for the stage.

          The purpose of the ‘Better than Shakespeare’ series is to show that being better than him, which I/we sometimes am/are, is not so unusual.

          Travel to Adelaide and see the play, opening in Holden Street on August 9.

          • Mr Ellis, it is my opinion that Shakespeare was not only “another writer for the stage”, but an unrivaled genius.

            As I mentioned earlier there is no doubt in my mind that any serious examination of individual plays will yield both the unremarkable and even the downright bad.
            As a corpus of work though, he has no rival; neither Milton, Dickens, Byron, Zola, Austen, Faulkner, Tolstoy…none.

            I visit Adelaide infrequently, so the likelihood of seeing it there is remote.
            I shall wait for its east coast premiere.
            When will that be?
            Do you have dates?

            • Really? Really? The sonnets are excellent, but can you name his best twenty-two plays without beginning to embarrass yourself? How well do they compare with Bergman’s best twenty-two films? Or Tolstoy’s best thousand pages? Or Sondheim’s best hundred songs?

              Are you serious?

              Or just intellectually lazy?

              He had eight known collaborators, for Christ’s sake. How do we know it’s even him?

              Most of Julius Caesar is direct, or barely amended, quotes from Tom North’s Plutarch.

              What are you TALKING about?

              • Mr Ellis, first, can put aside that shrill tone please?
                It’s hurting my ears.

                Now, you ask what it is I’m talking about. Well, I am talking about this:

                I feel confident in stacking say, 15 works by Shakespeare, together with a handful of sonnets, alongside any author you care to name.

                We shall look at language, verse, context and legacy, and adjudicate the more important on those criteria.

                That’s what I’m talking about.

                And, yes, I am serious.
                And, no, I don’t believe I am “intellectually lazy”.

                But we shall have opportunity to test that upon receipt of your list.

  5. Bob likes to be controversial and to excite comments such as those from A Bronte Reader and Wood + Stone.

    Those who follow this blog will know that I assert confidently that Edward De Vere was ‘William Shakespeare’ just as Eric Blair was ‘George Orwell’ and Charles Dodgson was ‘Lewis Carroll’.

    If you want to see the face of Shakespeare, look no further than the avatar picture shown for yours truly.

    The evidence is in my opinion overwhelming that the so-called Stratford Man could hardly write his own name, much less 30-odd plays, 154 or so sonnets and several other masterful works.

    • A Bronte Reader

      I’m sorry Doug but you simply don’t know enough about the subject to have any authority.

        • I ask you to withdraw that.

          Doug, whom I have never met, is in my view an expert.

          A scholar.

          • A Bronte Reader

            Oh Mr Ellis!
            That is just too funny!
            A little cruel perhaps. But very funny nonetheless.

            :lol: :lol: :lol:

            • hudsongodfrey

              Please present you CV or just stop.

              Stop anyway, even qualified speakers need not be condescending.

              • A Bronte Reader

                To Hudson Godfrey,
                Would a CV satisfy you?
                Would it convince you of the veracity or “rightness” of what you call my “condescension”?

                So be it - do you care to see what stands before you, what the source of that “condescension” is?

                On this matter I present this Statement of Claims:
                - between myself, Stone+Wood, and Mrs Dalloway (a fellow book clubber), there is a combined Shakespeare readership that amounts to 56 years; 17 of those formally, and 6 specifically in Shakespearean Studies. Included in that is the attendance and participation, at UQ in, I think, 2006, of the Shakespeare Congress, seminar attendances here and internationally, delivered by Prof. P Yachnin and Prof. J. Bate, and on a more local level, one of our number had his doctoral studies supervised by one of the leading Shakespearean scholars in Australian, Prof D. Frost.

                In your corner you have a bantamweight who has plagiarized every word of his Oxford “opinions” from the Oxford apologists site ( I know that because I’ve read every word) and from the several books concerning Shakespearean authorship that have come out in the last few years ( I know that because I’ve also read them - I can provide a reading list if you care).

                And Mr Godfrey, by his own admission he has only looked at this question since about March!

                By his own admission!

                So, who do you believe more qualified to comment?

                I do not begrudge him his opinion, he is, as we all are, entitled to think what he wishes. What he cannot do though is claim authority in an area until he puts in the hard yards, the hard years, as one might say.
                A few months and few cut & pastes’ just doesn’t an “expert” make.
                Perhaps in your world Mr Godfrey but not in mine, or anyone else’s I know. Try flipping through a glossy mag on hotrods and then offer to tell your mechanic on how to fix a broken carburetor. Describe to me the look on his face. It will be identical to mine at the moment. :lol:

                So you see Mr Godfrey, whilst you may see “condescension” as a crime, I view “fraud” as a greater one.

                I dare not tell you what I would call Mr Ellis’ judgement!

                • hudsongodfrey

                  You were asked to stop.

                  Perhaps a 56 year obsession with one author would leave one starved of comparison with others against whom he might adequately be compared.

                  You were asked to stop.

                  You’re too cocksure by halves and just looking for an argument at Doug’s or my expense. An attempt to assert your own self aggrandising sense of superiority in a way that in my experience of people who seek that kind of acknowledgement usually speaks to deep seated self doubting.

                  You were asked to stop.

                  Condescension was an attempt at finding a kind way to correct your tone towards others.

                  You are asked again to stop.

                  • A Bronte Reader

                    Mr Godfrey,
                    If you ask the question, expect an answer. Even one that you don’t wish to hear.

                    It’s quite funny that you chastise my years, and the years of my friends, as being “too cock-sure” yet leave Mr Quixote’s “certainty” and “overwhelming evidence”, garnered over several months, untouched.

                    That, Mr Godfrey, speaks to your own bias in this matter.
                    It speaks to a dishonesty that I certainly couldn’t countenance.

                    What your “you were asked” iteration says about your interpretative powers is another question entirely.
                    You say I was “asked”?
                    Where was the question mark, Mr Godfrey?

                    • hudsongodfrey

                      I didn’t ask a question. I made a request of you to stop.

                      There’s a difference.

                      I didn’t interrogate Doug’s position because he has not been unkind in his remarks.

                      You have. Please stop.

                    • A Bronte Reader

                      “Unkindness” is a matter of perspective.

                      “Fraud” is another.
                      I ask him to stop.

                      “Evasion” is another.
                      I ask you to stop.

                      See the endgame of the refusal to engage the question and focus on ad hominem?
                      Can you see?

                      My focus is solely on the QUESTION and not on any piffling distractions that any posters such as yourself care to throw up.

                      And that question?
                      Do you remember it?

                      Let me refresh: those with a casual knowledge should defer to those with more learning and experience.

                      You do it for the mechanic, the electrician, your baker and chemist.
                      I ask that you do it here as well.

                      As if your interpretation of what’s kind and what’s not trumps the fact that Mr Quixote is Mr Cut & Paste!!

                      What is your expertise or passion Mr Godfrey?
                      Tell it me, give me a few months and I too shall proclaim my expertise and, and Mr Godfrey, challenge you on its veracity and/or efficacy!!

                      Then perhaps we can speak of “unkind remarks”.

  6. To HG and Bob Ellis : thank you both for your kind words. The ‘United States of Tara’ critter is wrong as usual. It claims experience and scholarship, all totally unverifiable and a product of its fertile imagination. And it always seeks to belittle anyone who dares challenge its legitimacy.

    As for me, I’ve studied Shakespeare for forty years or so, from about twelve years old. The authorship question was a non-issue for me until Ellis provoked a deeper contemplation, from about December of last year.

    The trouble with the Stratford Man is that there just isn’t much to study; the facts can be stated in about two pages, whilst the speculation fills tomes of literature.

    I think anyone coming fresh to the authorship question as I did late last year - that is, without the weight of generations of expert opinion to uphold and maintain - cannot help but come to the conclusion that the “Shakespeare as Stratford Man” story is the greatest literary myth perpetrated on unsuspecting students and laymen over the last several centuries. Bar none.

    • Mr Quixote,
      After reading your posts/arguments on this matter over the past few months it is quite clear to us, and anybody with a modicum of scholarly interest in this particular subject, that you have exhibited no original thought, expressed no insights, above and beyond those of the authors you have read. Yours has been a journey of interest and research that, whilst quite admirable, is still light years away from being, as Bronte said in his very first address to you, an authority.

      A Bronte Reader is quite correct to declare you a casual student with a propensity for cut & paste ideas.

      I put this to you, have you read -
      “Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare” by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps

      “William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems” by E K Chambers

      Just a simple “yes” or “no” will do.

      This isn’t about challenging anyone’s “legitimacy” - a terribly transparent misdirection Mr Quixote - this is about the question of Shakespeare’s identity.

      If you care to “verify” our combined learning then by all means ask a question and we shall do our very best to address it for you.

      We also have many questions: perhaps you and your 40 years could field them for us?

      P.S. You are barking up the wrong tree with your “Tara” fallacy.
      I know that because “JG Cole” is a student of mine.
      So apologies to Bronte are in order, I should imagine.

      • A Bronte Reader

        You were correct S+W.

        I fear you are wasting your time here.
        He isn’t even aware, or made mention I should say, of the Jonson question.


    • hudsongodfrey

      Ignore these elitist drones Doug, the church had a thousand years of authoritative experience under its belt when Galileo came along. Apparently he still managed to be right.

      A lesson for us all that being right isn’t guaranteed by one’s credentials but by substance of one’s ideas.

      • A Bronte Reader

        Hmmm, I wonder how long Galileo was a scientist BEFORE he exploded the Christian cosmologies?

        I’m going out a crazy limb here Mr Godfrey, a wild stab in the dark, but I’m going to say a tad longer than 3 or 4 months!

        You are quite right though; it’s all about the “substance of one’s ideas”.

        Mr quixote has none.
        Other than the ones borrowed and UNreferenced from the authors he’s read.

        I find your intellectual cringe simply contemptible!

        • hudsongodfrey

          Galileo is widely credited, through the combination of experimentation and mathematics, with making the kind of radical departure from the academia of his time that came to define the modern scientific method as we know it today. Whatever he was as a mathematician before that he could not possibly have been recognised as a scientist in a discipline he was yet to pioneer.

          What I dislike mostly about your attacks on Doug is your failure in these pages to expound a single original or otherwise academic idea of your own in opposition to his theories.

          By all means cut and paste something to prove your claims.

          And take heed that in my experience people who speak from any real position of authority usually do let the facts speak for them and see no need to have others bow to their superior intellect or haughty tone…Aka you’re starting to wear out my patience so either piss or get off the pot!

          • A Bronte Reader

            You pompous old windbag!

            Look at the (my) original claim - Quixote does not have the “authority” to make such a claim as he does.
            It is a guesstimate based on 3 months worth of reading!

            You refute that do you?

            That may well be the limit of your capacity for knowledge or learning, but it sure as batshit is not mine!

            I am thoroughly legitimated in any discourse you care to name in stating my claim that the “overwhelming evidence” that Quixote see’s is the product of a PROVISIONAL examination.
            Hells Bells!
            The man has only read 4 books on the subject!
            Give me a break and spare me your apologetics!

            What I’m finding more interesting however is your resort to ad hominem based on nothing more than a resentful attitude at my questions/responses.
            Aka…you are wearing out my patience and my capacity for laughter, so either piss off, say something sensible, or just piss off!

            I find your intellectual cringe simply contemptible!
            It is the product of a turgid and evasive mind.

            • A Bronte Reader

              Just quietly - you forgot to cite Sharratt. You pinched some of his wording.


              A turgid mind.

            • hudsongodfrey

              Time to get off the pot then. I’ll leave it to others to find the facts you illuminated in that particular little sample of your diatribe!

              What the hell make you think I ought to accept your “authority” for all I know your as full of sound and fury signifying nothing when it comes to Shakespeare as you are when it comes to addressing my reasonable requests for any other variety of substantive argument.

  7. Don’t waste your time and effort HG. The same person answers itself and agrees with itself as it often does.
    Haughty disdain will soon enough be replaced by its usual invective.

  8. Mr Godfrey, allow me the privilege and luxury of a longish note in response to your series of posts (to my colleague Bronte).

    Let me begin by declaring my hand upfront; though I may have worded differently, the sentiments of Bronte are identical to mine.

    Let me add now my thoughts on the two subjects under discussion.
    First, the ‘authority’ of Mr Quixote.
    As I mentioned earlier Mr Quixote’s “authority” rests on the credible, though hardly authoritative, foundations of “several months worth” of readings. These readings have consisted, from my understanding, of a thorough and uncritical espousal of the Oxford apologist sites, and an explicit rehash of several, and one in particular, of the publications that have concerned themselves with the Shakespeare authorship issue.

    Several of our reading group who follow this blog initially raised this issue at the time of Mr Ellis’ first article and we have followed the articles and comments quite closely since.
    Over the course of those readings and arguments in became immediately apparent that Mr Quixote had declared himself as the leading Oxford apologist. He dutifully presented a range of problematic issues concerning Shakespeare life and writing history; he raised interesting areas of debate and discussion and sought to familiarise us all with the issues that plagued the Shakespeare community.
    And for all of that he should be applauded. I view any interrogation of established facts as a welcome sign of critical thinking.

    However, the issue, as far as I’m concerned, and this would be our concern as a group as well, became greater than that.
    If you looked closely at the arguments between Mr Quixote and his fellow bloggers you will note that Mr Quixote did not respond or answer directly to issues raised by his either his investigations or revelations. He leaves, or rather evades, responses; he misdirects to answers as he chooses, he cites some marginal platitude, or he flatly denies the question.
    Whatever the question put to him, from a range of sources, he conspicuously avoided the specific, and that Mr Godfrey, that, is the tell tale sign of one who does not know the work.
    And so the reason for this evasion or misdirection is very simple; he cannot respond accordingly because he does not know .
    He does not know because he has spent his study time unprofitably in the simple and explicit regurgitation of material.
    Now let me be very clear here, the fact of his ignorance is not an issue.
    The fact that he presumes to know is.
    The fact that he dismisses legitimate questions is.
    The fact that closes debate with those that seek to challenge him is.
    The fact that his refusal to acknowledge the situation, a refusal which, let it be said, lies at the core of the very argument you and Bronte are embroiled in right now, is.

    This question is a profoundly complex one that involves both a literary and historical deft touch that is beyond anyone of 4 months study. If you have any interest in this at all Mr Godfrey you would be aware that a handful of the worlds leading Shakespearean scholars remain puzzled by the question and it’s implications.
    Therefore it is quite understandable that Mr Quixote’s gushing enthusiasm for the Oxford counter myth is met with such skepticism by many; myself, Bronte and most of our group included.

    I note here that it was in fact Bronte who first put the case for a Stratford Shakespeare to our group.
    And so I shall lead into the second subject I wish to discuss with that.

    There are 5 in our group with a special interest in this question. We are all Shakespeare readers of varying intensity and with our own set of views on the whole authorship question.
    You can imagine the arguments!

    Bronte however came to the table with something simple and new.
    Years of reading, not just on this issue and it’s attendant experts - Shapiro, Greenblatt, Bate, Nuttal, Schoenbaum, Latham, Vickers, Cox, Chambers, and perhaps another 15 or so names - but on related areas of linguistics, psychology, literary criticism, and history, enabled him to arrive at the simplest of answers.
    And it goes something like this:
    Bronte’s 4 and a half hour presentation (to us)distilled into 3 sentences of what I would call supreme and convincing logic.

    If we wish to know a man let us seek to know those that knew him.
    Ben Jonson was such a man.
    If Ben Jonson says that the Stratford man was Shakespeare, then that man was Shakespeare.

    The character of Jonson; his flawed brilliance, his ferocious temper, tells us that……..
    if you wish to know more Mr Godfrey ask A Bronte Reader. It is, after all, his idea.
    The choice is yours.

    And my thoughts in light of Bronte’s and Quixote’s?
    I side with Bronte, but also go a step further; whether Shakespeare was the Stratfordian or Oxfordian he was, without the slightest shred of doubt in my mind, a genius.
    That the Oxfordian argument insists on it being a recreation of his life, or that an artist ‘mines his own life’ is a red herring as far as I’m concerned; a deeply Romantic vision of the artist,this man was so far ahead of his time it would have mattered little if he were a cobbler or a courtier.

    He was simply a genius beyond any comparison. And The eternal bequest of his plays and his language a testament to that genius.

    If you can look past your friendship with Mr Quixote for a moment you will see the veracity of my claims. If you cannot and insist, as you have done to Bronte, that we come to this question without “substantive authority” then you simply are not listening.

    I hope that this post has gone some way toward expressing our concerns with the manner of Mr Quixote’s “authority” and why Bronte was correct to dismiss Mr Ellis’ opinion of him as “expert”.

    If you have any questions please do not hesitate in putting pen to paper.
    I shall do my very best to address them.


    • A Bronte Reader

      Thanks for that W+S.

      We’ll see where it takes us.

      If it moves us a millimetre I’ll be happy.

      I doubt that it will though.

      Another wager?

    • hudsongodfrey


      Let’s begin at the beginning, with the idea of authority based upon reading. It is I believe common to all scholars of the subject at this distance of some 400 years. There’s a finite amount of evidence and a voluminous amount of Shakespeare’s collected works. I am an expert on neither, but I will offer an explanation of what I think occurs in such arguments.

      To argue from the style of writing across a number of plays, sonnets and other writings requires a comprehensive reading of not only the work itself but of other writings of the time by way of comparison. Since the works of Shakespeare have survived whereas separately attributed works by the other authorship contenders are rarer, some kind of claim to real authority might be made by anyone who had personally made that comparison. But it is equally possible that some who have read the works over these 400 intervening years and compiled their findings also bear reliable witness to aspects of the authorship controversy. So that what might take a lifetime to personally distil can persuasively be argued in a matter of a few minutes or a few hours. And indeed those conclusions may be accurate. This being in the nature of academia seems these days unsurprisingly available to you or to me and even to Doug and ABR.

      Where I come in is simply as a commenter on a discussion that spilled over into my conversation with Doug and other posters here. So my comments were directed instead at the superior tone and rather abrasive approach being taken towards Doug who I otherwise recognise to be somebody sincere in his views even though we frequently disagree.

      All I said really was please stop being rude.

      Among strangers on a blog site the level of petulant indignation directed towards me as a result was the intellectual equivalent of a child’s tantrum. I might as well have set myself up as a legend in my own lunchtime and demanded to be referred to forthwith only as Dr Sir Hudson of the Seventh Seal, or some other equally preposterous title that quite to the contrary of affording me respect might earn an immediate penalty in ill-concealed laughter.

      Nor do I think it necessary to assiduously cross reference each and every quote. Blogging at its best is an exchange of ideas often collected eclectically and juxtaposed haphazardly in ways that would be simply unmanageable were they presented in the formal style of a thesis.

      I think Doug’s ideas are interesting though by no means definitively compelling. Whereas the Jonson argument that you’ve put is also a persuasive one. But suppose for a moment that Jonson was mistaken or simply concealing what he knew of the authorship for reasons unknown to us. To do so would seem to speak either to some conspiracy or misunderstanding that would itself be presumptuous to merely assume. So I don’t. But I do think we ought to be able to put it aside for long enough to at least answer some other pressing questions. Questions about how Shakespeare could have known quite as many geographical locales, historical and matters of contemporary scientific knowledge, and indeed the extraordinary range and prolificacy of his work probably do mean that at the very least he had help from perhaps a number of others who took no credit for their part.

      There seems to be a mystery there that I for one do find intriguing despite protestations to the contrary. To people who seem to feel their academic dignity is impugned by the very suggestion I simply say that if you can’t explain how the man of Avon was so well informed then clearly the arguments you’re making are incomplete.

      In the context of our discussion I like to think of a grand Shakespearian collaborative effort, contrastingly harmonious by comparison with what passes for intellectual discourse here. In the context of the authorship debate however my mind is not set upon merely saying that even if the Jonson argument seems more compelling it would be unnecessary to consider any other possibility, any other unanswered question.

      • You raise a number of interesting points.

        After all, these plays are theatrical texts, and theatre by it’s nature is a collaborative process - the notion of the ‘lone generative genius’ fits very uneasily with that. Other hands have been identified in Shakespeares work and his has been suspected in the plays of others.

        As to the Oxford thing - a (very) small minority of scholars have been trying to make the case for that for eighty years. No one has succeeded yet and I doubt that anyone will. But I’m not dogmatic on the question.

        Your remarks about tone and civility I entirely endorse.

        • A Bronte Reader

          it’s an an excellent question and I write quickly now to offer a clarification of sorts.
          When those such as myself declare Shakespeare to be a “genius” I do so with this understanding: early and late in his career he had several writing collaborator’s. There is no authority that I know of that disputes this recorded fact. That Shakespeare was a theatrical maestro; juggling writing, collaborations, actors, his theatre, et al is also under no serious disputation.

          The “genius” status that I and others such as W+S claim for the man is predicated solely on the work.
          There is an extraordinary depth, an unparallelled play with language and psychology, an unmatched variety of characters, questions, imaginations, worlds, realities and appearances that I feel have never been matched as a body of work.

          If this discussion ever opens into a broad examination of the plays themselves (and wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing!) then I believe the evidence will speak for itself.

          Do I believe Vere to have written Shakespeare?
          The evidence for his authorship is at best, at the very best, remote beyond credulity, at worst, romantic speculation.
          I believe Vere’s candidacy rests on details outside the specific writing/subject or detail of the plays.
          I repeat, outside.

          But more of that later if we are afforded the opportunity.

      • I have said before in regards to the references to foreign places in the plays that I have read of Shakespeare, that one is never transported there. Do you feel as if you are in Denmark, or Venice or even Scotland when reading the plays?

        I imagine that a great deal of talking, chatter, gossip, story telling, tales were swapped in a Port town such as London. One would have come across any number of people who lived their lives traveling, traders, both naval and merchant seamen, pilgrims, soldiers, gypsies, country folk moving to the big smoke, foreign entourages, traveling circuses, theatre groups.

        Travellers are usually convivial people when waiting for a ship,plane, train or bus and I can imagine as I have done in the past myself, garner a fair bit of information about a city, or the nature of a country’s populace, the current state of the political climate, the best place to eat, or where the most attractive women are to be found, simply through a passing chat.

        • hudsongodfrey


          This may be where my expertise fails me. I’m transported to a different time by the language, the subtle sense of place on the page and across time is not then any more or less evident than I expected it to be. I think perhaps that as plays for the stage a certain reliance upon sets and costumes might have been expected. It is hard to draw definitive conclusions, but interesting to think about.

          The studies that I know of tend to refer to specific pieces of knowledge about times and places rather than the sense of them in the plays. So while I agree that we may suppose that convivial travellers might fill a few gaps so might well travelled collaborators and that is also interesting to think about.

          • Too true Hudson,I should have included well travelled collaborators (sounds like an early form of bicycle).

      • Mr Godfrey, thank you for your reply. I will address what I feel to be the relevant points.

        First, Shakespeare himself. As I mentioned on several previous occasions the “true identity” of the man is of secondary interest to me. The body of work is always more important. That that body of work may have been determined by the character or life of the man is for the psychologists, the historicists, the sociologists, the linguists, the mythologisers, to determine. I source these works only at a second order level.
        I do not say that they are unimportant – quite the contrary – what I am saying is that my intellectual interest is directed at more formalist concerns.

        Second, regarding the “superior tone” you perceived. I’m afraid you shall have to take that up with Bronte. I will say though that we all fall victim to interpretative whims Mr Godfrey, and I for one, personally felt quite offended by Mr Quixote’s conduct over the past few months. It is hardly surprising that Bronte feels miffed at the, how shall I put it, at the lax attitudes toward scholarly issues. If I were younger I imagine myself on the front barricades as well!

        Third, This is where we differ I’m afraid. I do feel, and I would certainly be speaking for others in my group, that accuracy in the presentation of facts or material is absolutely critical. Without them we descend into a world of sheer nonsense. Look for a moment if you have the time at the level of conversation on say, Bolt’s political blog. Do you really wish to see that here? Do you feel it becoming of our host and ourselves as contributor’s to toss around shoddy, ill-formed and ill-informed notions, embarrassing rants or worthless comment?
        I am not arguing for a academic thesis, I see that as entirely inappropriate for this forum; what I am arguing for is a level of rigour respectful of both subject and contributor . If, for example, you choose to toss about a few ideas with Mr Quixote about movies or politics, by all means, conduct your conversation how you see fit. If however you present a claim on a topic of substance that is subsequently questioned by others who also feel it to be a topic of substance then I believe it to be your responsibility, both moral and intellectual, to address it in the most learned and forthright manner available to you. Anything short of that is simply juvenile bickering and grandstanding. It is, quite frankly, a waste of breath and a waste of people’s time.

        Fourth, The views of Doug, or should I say, the views of the authors he has borrowed from, are certainly worthwhile and it is a credit to him that his interest has introduced the Shakespearean authorship to a wider audience. I read not one word over the past few months from any of his detractors, some of which I know, that challenged him on this point. None Mr Godfrey. Let us be clear on that.
        In the world that I inhabit it is customary, both personally and professionally, not to claim “authority” ,as has been claimed on numerous occasions by Mr Quixote, on matters of what we might term “recent interest”. What he should have done, ideally, was to declare the true authors and their opinions, cite and reference accordingly, and then propose his thoughts as an adjunct. I can guarantee that such an approach would have been seen as a mark of respect for the Shakespearean scholars he was quoting, this blog and its contributor’s, and it would also have removed Mr Quixote from our, especially Bronte’s, cross hairs.
        Mr Quixote however did no such thing. What he did do was compound that initial deceit by actually attempting to engage in direct argument! It was only at this time that the full extent of his ignorance became apparent, and it was a this time also, realising the mess he was in, that he neutered all questions from a variety of respondents.

        And that, as they say, was that.

        Fifth, and in conclusion, you know my position on this “Identity” question so I have nothing further to add unless you have a direct question.
        What I will emphasise though is this: no question is ever answered or can ever be answered to the point of “absolutism” (yes, I have read your argument with Bronte), and each position or thought changes with the advent of the tiniest new detail.
        Today I feel, despite the myriad questions that have bothered me for years on this issue, that the Stratford Man was Shakespeare.
        And tomorrow?
        Who knows?

        I was not raised Mr Godfrey, nor was I schooled, to dismiss the possibility, the reality, of “other possibilities, [and] any other unanswered questions”.

  9. hudsongodfrey


    Thanks for your reply seems like you’re at issue with Doug’s conduct inasmuch as I’m at issue with his interlocutor’s.

    As for subjecting myself to Mr Bolt. Please you don’t need to be so cruel I’ll take your point to spare myself the heartburn.

    And since you asked if you’ve thoughts on how Shakespeare could have possibly been so well informed or whether you think that he may have collaborated with others then I’d be glad to hear them. I don’t think that any of our ponderings take anything away from the splendour of his works just that they’re intriguing questions to think about.

    • Hudson, I admire your calmness and I got the giggles when noticing that you address Wood +Stone simply as Wood…
      I was going address my possible future posts to him as Stone, as he most likely will respond by casting more stones my way…

      • I was trying to use first names to be friendly as is our preference. I’m getting a fair bit of Mr Godfrey which seems awfully stiff and formal considering that I’m using a porn name.

    • Mr Godfrey, in light of our positive exchange I was composing a suitable response to your questions and in the process going back over previous posts to tease out some questions.

      My eyes stopped hard on your post above that referred to Bronte and myself, for it could have been no other, as “elitist drones”.

      To be honest, I was floored.

      You chose to refer to me as such before we had even addressed each other!?
      And then you proceed to construct an argument as to the “rudeness” or “abrasiveness” of others!?


      Bronte’s long held assessment of your character as duplicitous is proved correct.

      You should be ashamed of yourself for such an explicit display of contemptible deceit and hypocrisy.

      Our conversation, needless to say, are over.

      My only salve is the fact that others here can also witness your dishonour.

      You were right.
      A case of Coonawarra Red to you.

      • hudsongodfrey


        Some definitions then…

        Elitism: The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favoured treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

        Drone: a bee without a sting.

        If the cap fits wear it! But if it doesn’t then just don’t.

        So you were preparing to respond to some questions when, WHAMO, you were struck amidships with a perceived slight to your ego!?

        What if you’d actually proven the sting was there?

        Why not try actually communicating something of worth to we the great unwashed? I was interested. I said so.

        But no. Look at your own tone, as haughty and self important as ABR’s ever was. I should not be surprised if you were the same person. Drinking alone or in the company of your alter ego is all the same…

        I was trying to be kind to Doug. ABR came at him seemingly from nowhere and was unaccountably rude.

        I was also very accommodating of you as a matter of sharing a passing interest in Shakespeare’s life and writings.

        But this is not a matter of unconditional respect, nor have you reciprocated.
        And it is a pity.

        So be it.

        Give us a few words on how good Coleridge’s poem really is or trouble us no further. As another poster points out this obsession with interpersonal slights insults the poet’s work.

        • A Bronte Reader

          Piss off with your disgusting rationalisation Godfrey, you woeful hypocrite!

          You don’t even have the courage or strength to stand by your own insulting language!

          You disgust me!

          And to think that W+S only came on at my behest to see if she could carry on a conversation!!

          • hudsongodfrey

            You too owe as a few words on Coleridge for your sins. Which are many on this page alone.

            • A Bronte Reader


              I do possess many - however hypocrisy, cowardice and dishonour are not among them.
              They rightfully belong to you.

              Disgusting rationalisation!

          • I’m probably going to regret stepping in here, but oh well…

            I really don’t understand why you have to treat hudsongodfrey with such rudeness, whatever the size of the bone you have to pick with him. The dimensions of which, by the way, seem oddly elastic.

            What’s puzzling is that you often make good points, but then you spoil everything with these explosions of hysterical rage and abuse.

            I’m not getting at you, in case you think you have one more persecutor.

            I genuinely don’t understand.

            • A Bronte Reader

              Have no regrets Polybius,

              I treat Godfrey with “rudeness” because I find his hypocrisy a greater “rudeness”.
              That he seeks to rationalise that “rudeness” now behind dictionary definitions, as if the words “elitist drone” have no negative connotation, is even worse; it is the recourse of a coward, just discovered and seeking sanctuary behind semantics and feigned injury.

              I find it sickening.

              That’s why.

      • A Bronte Reader

        Of course I was bloody well right!

        I’ll take two cases though - one for Godfrey’s hypocrisy, and two to toast the death of Quixote’s final brain cell (look at his response below).

        W+S, are you now satisfied?


        • Yes Bronte, yes I am.
          As I read the comet trail of posts this morning I am reminded of your experiment and your warning.
          The first has proved quite successful, the second a rude reminder of that which we feared.

          I urge you now, as others did at the outset, do not “look long into [this] abyss”.

          It is over.

  10. Well that is quite an exchange.

    I thought that I had dealt with the Ben Jonson issue at some stage; I certainly intended to do so.

    Jonson was either misled or deliberately misleading in his apparent assertion (there is some ambiguity) that the fellow who died in 1616 was Shakespeare.

    Jonson was a military underling of Francis Vere, the cousin of Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

    Jonson was a bricklayer by trade, not usually likely to associate with the great nobility, such as the earl of Oxford.

    It may well be that he was in some fashion sworn to conceal the true identity of the Bard. It is as good a speculation as any, and De Vere had reconciled himself to anonymity - see sonnet 81.

    Jonson either knew and continued the concealment of De Vere’s identity, or he was perhaps misled.

    And running through all these issues is the glaring one: the Earl of Southampton was alive and well and a great nobleman with great influence at James I Court until his sudden death in 1624. (After the First Folio, 1623)

    The Earl of Southampton was the love object of most of the first 126 sonnets, “my lovely boy” as Shakespeare calls him in Sonnet 126.

    And he wanted the Sonnets suppressed - evidence of a mis-spent youth, no doubt.

    In reading the Sonnets, dear reader, two things are apparent : that the author was much older than the love object, and that the attraction was same sex if not definitely homosexual.

    The Stratford Man would have been about 30 at the time the sonnets were written, whilst De Vere - besides addressing the Earl as a social equal - was about 44.

    And the Stratford Man was stolidly heterosexual so far as the biographical experts can see.

    Tell me I am wrong.

    • Jonson is your “Patsy” Doug:)

    • A Bronte Reader

      I thought I would answer your post in this fashion:

      “Jonson was misled”?
      By whom?
      Ummm, any references to go with that “guess”?

      “Jonson was deliberately misleading”?
      Under whose instructions?
      Any documentation, any evidence, to support that “guess”?

      “his apparent assertion (there is some ambiguity)”

      Reference the evidence or source please.
      From whom?
      What source?
      Between what competing claims?
      Any supporting material?

      At all?

      If you cannot be bothered to cite or cannot reference adequately, give me the author, book title, anything…I will look for it!

      Your post has all the rigour and credibility of a Twiggy Forrest addressing a greens rally and spruiking the the value of a Chuquicamata in the middle of the Daintree!

      Everything you have written is pure speculation. Old speculation at that.
      Nothing more.

      You mention court.
      I welcome it!
      Bring with you your briefs of unsubstantiated claims, assertions, ambiguities, apparently’s and perhaps’s, and we shall see who gets tossed out on their ignorant arses first.

      You preposterous muttonhead!

      But decided on this instead:

      Shapiro - “Contested Will” - Amazon $15

      Read a fucking book you preposterous muttonhead!

      All of your questions are addressed - and several others you are blissfully ignorant of.
      Happy reading.
      Yes Douggie, reading.
      Try it.
      A change. I know, from cut & paste, but it will do you the world of good.

      Trust me.
      I’ve only your best interests at heart!

      • What an educated idiot you truly are.

        If you were on fire I’d piss the other way, and then celebrate an improvement to the gene pool.
        :lol: :lol: :lol:

        • A Bronte Reader

          Tough questions huh Douggie?
          Too tough, too big, to be swept under that ballooning rug of your pre-school jokes.

          But you thought you’d give it a go, see if anyone notices.

          It’s ok, no-one’s looking.

          Except me.

          Oh, and save your piss, you never know when you might get thirsty.
          That wasteland that sits atop your shoulders is dry country indeed!

  11. As regards the authorship site, I will confess that I was unaware of its very existence up until Roe’s book! The first time I referred to it I cited it and at no time did I deliberately plagiarise it, one reason being that I do not agree with much of it. I have at times used it as a shorthand method of shortening my posts, for I have never intended to write at great length; time constraints weigh upon me even more heavily these days.

    If I have not responded well to cross-examination, I never have. I will make my points as and how I think fit, and answer to no-one.

    If you want to cross-examine me I’ll see you in court. :grin:

  12. 9000 words of bloody waffle.
    Very little of it in regards to the poetry.

    • Which deserved rather better I’ll agree.

      • I read the poem for the first time, on the night of my 27th birthday, at times through clenched teeth, tears streaming throughout.

        To read this poem, and attempt to maintain one’s composure would not be doing it justice I imagine. It must be delivered as a madman on the heath, clutching at the grass and staring into the abyss of the deep ocean.

    • A Bronte Reader

      That’s because the “poetry” itself is not under discussion.
      Authorship claims are.

      If you would like to talk about the poetry, by all means!

      Where do we start?

      • I confidently assert that Samuel Taylor Coleridge did not pen any of the works attributed to Mr Shakespeare.

        The article is about the comparative merits of either piece. Shakespeare wrote better plays and Coleridge better poetry. The evidence is there to see, Bob does not have to speak for it.

        Apparently at a couple of centuries distance the world had room for two geniuses.

  13. I’ve been a bit reluctant to chip in :) but I agree with a lot of what A Bronte Reader wrote this morning @ 10:12 am.

    In this world, people like de Vere don’t churn out plays by the bucket load.

    It took someone working in the industry every day. Someone with drive. Someone doing it for a living. Someone surrounded by his peers every day, all contributing to getting the thing up on stage and firing every night. Who regularly acted in front of that audience, and knew their colloquialisms inside out.

    Not someone who just threw a bit of money in the theatre’s direction now and then, and whose entire collection of verse would’ve fallen as flat as a biscuit.

    Genius is about working continuously at something and getting in the zone. Not frippin’ about on a tennis court, and finding new ways to squander your inheritance for a living.

    • Middle class snobbery, spare me. If genius is anything, it is instinct. Instinct honed over a thousand years. You either got it or you don’t.

      • Agree, genius is something you are, not something you become by working hard.

      • Sure, Reader1. No real problem with that.

        I guess it was what I meant by “getting in the zone”…

        Someone might work sixteen hours every day of their life and not even come close.

        Or - many child prodigies who show great promise quickly burn out or become lazy.

        Einstein had a few bright ideas that turned out to be world changing - but nobody was going to do all the theoretical proof work for him were they? Cue weeks and months of burning the midnight oil, and walking around in a semi-sleepless fit focused on nothing but those ideas.

        Same goes in different ways for Mozart and Shakespeare and Simone.

        de Vere? Not for a second.

    • A Bronte Reader

      Join in Nick - lend your thoughts to this tussle!

    • hudsongodfrey

      Interesting thoughts Nick but I’d interpreted the claims of several of the alternate authors from the point of view that being independently wealthy they’d the luxury of time on their hands, along with education and the opportunity to travel.

      Nor do I think the strongest claims locate a single alternative author, but in all probability several uncredited collaborators. It seems likelier that de Vere penned a swathe of the sonnets, possibly to a young man, than it does that his was the hand that wrote Macbeth.

      I think of him as one might of Leadbelly to The Blues. Older uncredited works are often loosely attributed to Leadbelly or said to be in the style we associate with his oeuvre. But Huddie Leabetter existed and remarkable as he was penned fewer of those songs than people imagined.

      The glory is that when the History is blurred the names of Homer, Shakespeare and others are synonymous with arts of their time. Others may be forgotten, though increasingly less often in this digital age, but the important thing is that their oeuvre, the idiom of their times, the genre they worked in remains to be enjoyed.

      • “being independently wealthy they’d the luxury of time on their hands”

        Quite, hg. Far too much time on their hands. Time to travel. Time for sports. Time for leisure. Time for ceremonies and parties, and ‘business’, and the court, and fretting about who to marry, and getting married, and long honeymoons, and how to pay ones debts, and never actually paying them, and how to butter up your nephew because maybe he’ll help you pay them, and which dodgy speculative expedition to find gold to invest in next, and just about everything else in a royal life of the time that doesn’t actually involve *writing plays*.

        Even if he were interested enough to try his hand, he would have been lucky to complete 2 or 3 in his lifetime.

        de Vere wasn’t just independently wealthy. He was the Earl of Oxford. His benefactor was the Queen herself, and he spent his whole life rumoured to be her son. You may as well be expecting Prince William or Harry - both marvellous poets I hear (*snigger*), with such a fine grasp of history (*smirk*) - and so well-travelled! - to turn around at 40 and suddenly become the next Shakespeare.

        A one man writing-directing-producing-staging-and-acting-in-the-round-comedy-drama-script-factory. With many collaborators. And patrons. Patrons who may well have demanded sonnets written for them to read to their love interests as part of their patronage…

        de Vere’s own poems are woeful. And people say he was in his 20s when he wrote those? Hmm.

        And his diplomas at Oxford and Cambridge were both honorary. His formal education ended when he was 13. That would have been a shame for his uncle who must have had high expectations for his young nephew, and certainly tried to encourage him every way he could, but there you have it…

        There’s only one fraud in this story. The guy who everybody went out of their way to flatter (especially everyone in his pay), but who never produced anything of literary worth in his entire life…

        • hudsongodfrey


          I agree he seems a hard figure to like by all reports, but I don’t think you’ve answered my questions in the spirit that they were rendered.

          I think you’ve glossed over the question of how de Vere spent his time by making quite a bit of stuff up for yourself, whereas we know that he did in fact spend time in the theatre a patron at least.

          My contention is not that he was the sole author of Shakespeare’s output, or that it matters that we like him or not. I don’t have any opinion about whether the man William Shakespeare of Avon was a good fellow well met or not. I only have a collection of suspicions that the work was too diverse and prolific to be the issue of a single man of relatively humble background and means. Genius is one thing but prescience of knowledge about things he could hardly have known stretches our credulity.

          And with that in mind I suggest a different context for the work. That of a collaborative series of projects whose authorship is often miscredited but seldom diminished by it.

          • What have I made up, hg? I’m writing polemically - and in direct response to the arguments DQ has raised. It’s not my intention to paint de Vere as particularly unlikeable…perhaps not what DQ’s cracked him up to be, and perhaps I’m having a bit of fun trying to paint as contrasting a figure as I can…but that’s about it. He seems a fairly unremarkable historical figure to me.

            I acknowledged he was a patron of the theatre. But so what? A million patrons of the theatre have never written a play. A million publishers of books have never written a book. A million record company executives can’t play guitar or sing a note…

            I refuted DQ’s claim that de Vere was on of “one of the most educated men in Europe”. His formal education ended at age 13.

            Source : Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 2003

            Where is the evidence he wrote all these flawed but brilliant plays “only for court”? There is none. All we have is poems from his 20s, and once again, they’re dreadful. To recite to your love on the lawn and hope he/she doesn’t have an ear for poetry. How many clunky dead boring ungifted 20 something writers transform into Shakespeares at the age of 40? The answer is none. Occam said it, Reader1 and Helvi both said it, and now I’m saying it.

            Re. other collaborators in general, stylometric analysis has proven time and time again that *all* of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays were written by one and the same person. Excepting, of course, the works he collaborated on which were credited as such, and those sections of certain works scholar had already realised long ago weren’t his. State of the art computer analysis has added no new doubts or mysteries, only more confirmation of what was already known. The odds are something like 13 million to 1 that a single person didn’t write 97% of Shakespeare.

            Source: somewhere buried in the hundreds of pages of the US Supreme Court Trial documents.

  14. Please excuse some of those hastily written, ill-thought out metaphors…’bucket load’…what on earth was that? Hopefully you get my drift…I’m referring to quantity of his work, not its quality.

  15. “I only have a collection of suspicions that the work was too diverse and prolific to be the issue of a single man of relatively humble background and means.”

    What then, are we to make of the work of Lope de Vega, who lived in the same period?

    He wrote around 3,000 sonnets, 3 novels, 4 novellas 9 Epic poems and around 1,800 plays along with several hundred shorter dramatic pieces.

    Only about 500 of the plays survive, but many of these (about 70-90) are accounted masterpieces and are still performed widely, particularly in Europe.

    I don’t think there’s been any controversies over Lope’s identity, but I suppose it’s just possible that he was the Earl of Oxford…. :shock:

    • hudsongodfrey

      Of course you’re right Polybius, we could just be concentrating on “The Bard” because we hold him in such high esteem. Perhaps the comparison with Cervantes would be a better choice.

      But you’re deflecting my questions with interesting though distracting points I think.

      The real question remains and I suspect will do for a while, whether we really believe that man credited with the work had access to the kind of knowledge and experience needed to compose it, or whether he or someone else had a hand in the authorship that is uncredited to this day.

      On that front I doubt that the case for de Vere as made by some people is watertight by a long way. One of the problems with such theories being that people try to draft in all kinds of dubious titbits of information that might peripherally seem to lend support to a claim in ways that distil themselves into the kind of conspiracy theory like constructions that would set off anyone’s bullshit detectors, including my own.

      But this is an argument in two halves is it not. One’s all about the content of the work and the veracity of certain statements we could make about it. Thankfully we’re discussing that here. The other part of the debate seems to be couched in terms of entrenched positions and epithets at twenty paces. Sadly there languishes a rather good poem at the top of the page whose author might well be rolling in his grave at the disrespect for good literature we show when the matter at hand is all about someone’s ego and “authority” on the matter.

      It’s almost enough to make me tire of the conversation, but my Coleridge was good wasn’t he :)

      • “But you’re deflecting my questions with interesting though distracting points I think.”

        Quite possibly - I’m prone to that sort of thing, I’m afraid. :twisted:

        “The real question remains and I suspect will do for a while, whether we really believe that man credited with the work had access to the kind of knowledge and experience needed to compose it, or whether he or someone else had a hand in the authorship that is uncredited to this day.”

        I think it’s a question that can’t be answered, but attempting to answer it dredges up all sorts of interesting things.

        And you’re quite right about the Coleridge poem. It’s wonderful and has been unfairly overlooked in all the bum-baring and dung-hurling.

        I doubt he’s rolling in his grave though. I’m sure he located a laudanum connection in the infernal regions long ago.

        I look forward to more talk of witers and writing - b’gob, heres me bus!

        • :oops: …of course that should be WRITERS and writing.

          Although who knows - talking about witers could dredge up some pretty interesting things too…

        • hudsongodfrey

          Thanks for the line about the “laudanum connection”, I know it’s in poor taste under the circumstances but I had me a little chuckle anyhoo. :lol:

          I’ve a question for Doug you could get in on if you’re interested.

          And I hope that I haven’t fed the trolls too much in the past couple of days. I mean to be reasonable insofar as I can. Matters for housekeeping are best left to Bob, but I’m not for banning what I can as easily choose to ignore.

  16. The thing is, De Vere was probably one of the best educated men in Europe by 1576, and well travelled.

    He had it all; but by 1590 he had squandered most of his immense fortune, had been lamed in a duel and was no longer welcome at Court.

    What then does one do with one’s time? Lots and lots of time to rework your youthful plays performed only at Court; plenty of time to write epic poetry; plenty of leisure time to write new masterpieces.

    And still enough money, influence and political power to remain anonymous, as he wanted.

    • hudsongodfrey

      Doug what do you think about the idea that it was probably more collaboration than conspiracy?

      I know Polybius seems to feel that de Vere was unlikeable in several ways. And there I can see his point but then the idea that genii can be flawed in other aspects of their character is well enough established that we might overlook that. Yet I suspect that since the fellow de Vere had money and was connected to the theatre by patronage he might well have acted more as a collaborator on Shakespeare’s works than as the sole contributor.

      Does the story depend on how we tell it? Perhaps it does. When de Vere died broke we rate him as a wastrel, but have you ever read Wilde’s Happy Prince? Like Coleridge whose decline into drugs was well documented the theme of salvation of a flawed individual through the genius of their work is a common and tempting one.

      Mind you I’m not saying it’s true in de Vere’s case or wholly true in many others but I think the counterpoint to the notion that being flawed is too much of a negative to overcome it makes an interesting thought.

      • Not a conspiracy at all, but De Vere’s wish to remain anonymous. Each of the main ‘actors’ had their own agenda. Southampton wanted no reminders of his youthful indiscretions. The younger playwrights who had access to the partly completed plays, the ones which appear to have collaboration, wanted to put great works onto the stage, great works which were left incomplete by the death of Edward De Vere in 1604.

        This is perhaps speculation, but I think it is the best fit for what we know to be the facts.

        Certainly it is possible that Shakespeare collaborated; if he was the Stratford Man and still alive until 1616, that is an inescapable conclusion.

        But I think it is a wrong conclusion. The Bard collaborated with no-one - no-one - in any of the plays known to be complete before 1604.

        Did he decide in 1605 that “Yes, to hell with it, let these young fellows write in what they will, write bits and pieces, as much as they want, and I won’t be bothered offering any corrections or revisions from now on”?!?!

        Fie on that for a joke.

        No, The Bard died in 1604 and lesser lights added in bits and pieces to allow the plays to be staged.

      • I don’t feel he was unlikeable, Hudson.

        It’s just that the case for Oxford is based on a certain amount of speculation, and in the absence of some new piece of evidence it cannot be proven.

        I must say - I do like the Coleridge quote from allthumbs below.

        • Polybius,

          Let’s not quibble regarding whether unlikeable is really the right word. (My spell checker isn’t entirely sure that it is a word) I was merely looking for a word to convey a certain level of disdain you seemed to have for De Vere which I tended to share.

          The boy from humble beginnings made good being as attractive a competing narrative in Shakespeare of Avon’s case as any I’ve offered. And I was just trying to come at the question from the perspective of whether liking a particular story makes it somehow more emotionally palatable. Because maybe that has bearing on what we find credible in these matters.

          I strongly agree about the amount of speculation involved, so much so that I’m not just wilfully suggesting this business of an emotional connection lightly but thinking in terms of the need to construct versions of events that fit together in a more or less narrative form. There’s a certain amount of trying it on to see how it fits with what we know. And this requires a certain kind of imaginative thinking often linked to emotional intelligence which I think academia sometimes falls short of acknowledging.

          So you see I am as much interested in how we think this through as in what answers we arrive at. And frankly I don’t proclaim expertise and would be perfectly happy to be wrong. If only others would understand that in an interesting discussion being wrong is not to be admonished, but rather its often the gateway to becoming enlightened in one’s views.

          And yes I do very much admire Allthumbs idea of having found Coleridge’s own words on this very matter. Its a kicker and makes me feel that this conversation for a while at least may be nearly over and well left on that note.

          I’d add only that Coleridge’s opening words about the reverential regard in which Shakespeare was held even then are echoed today in the fact that one is sometimes made to feel obliged to choose one’s words genially lest they offend :wink:

          • “…I was just trying to come at the question from the perspective of whether liking a particular story makes it somehow more emotionally palatable. Because maybe that has bearing on what we find credible in these matters.”

            I couldn’t agree with you more. We humans are story making-animals. “The need to construct versions of events that fit together in a more or less narrative form” is bound into our DNA, I believe.

            Which makes consideration of why people get so exercised about something like the story of Shakespeare so interesting. Even more interesting is the story of how Shakespeare got to be Shakespeare after he died. Which is intimately bound up with the writing but includes plenty of politics and much else besides.

            On reflection, you may well be correct to say that I find de Vere “unlikeable”. Going by DQ’s avatar portrait, he would appear to have had a mouth like a cat’s arsehole.

            Which often indicates some sort of fairly serious character flaw.

          • Yes HG that word “reverence” is a doozy, and as Polybius rightly points out, that reverence came long after he was dead. But to Coleridge’s defence he does limit it to that of an Englishman having a “proud and affectionate” reverence, not a knee scraping tongue licking reverence. I love that line where STC says we are prompted to criticize Shakespeare for being an eagle because he isn’t a swan.

  17. To Polybius : don’t worry about the so-called reading circle; “they” are all the same individual talking to itself and others, either as a “United States of Tara” critter or perhaps it genuinely thinks that there is someone out there who agrees with it. Or ought to be, so it invents them.

    I think it is 90% certain to be female, but who knows(?) so I call it an ‘it’.

    Bob Ellis has banned it literally dozens of times in different pseudonyms. The gallery is too ugly to bother listing any more.

  18. Yes Coleridge’s poem is excellent; for it is the human experience which demands a person makes poetry. And if an individual has suffered then is depth added to the poetry.

    Just as the juvenile De Vere wrote ordinary poetry; just as the juvenile Beethoven wrote journeyman’s music; just as the young Van Gogh painted indifferently.

    They had to suffer to achieve their greatness.

    Coleridge achieved this poem as a relatively young man, around 30. It says much for his talent, before the opium got to him.

    C’est la vie.

  19. “Assuredly that criticism of Shakespeare will alone be genial which is reverential. The Englishman, who without reverence, a proud and affectionate reverence, can utter the name of William Shakespeare, stands disqualified for the office of critic. He wants one at least of the very senses, the language of which he is to employ, and will discourse at best, but as a blind man, while the whole harmonious creation of light and shade with all its subtle interchange of deepening and dissolving colours rises in silence to the silent fiat of the uprising Apollo. However inferior in ability I may be to some who have followed me, I own I am proud that I was the first in time who publicly demonstrated to the full extent of the position, that the supposed irregularity and extravagances of Shakespeare were the mere dreams of a pedantry that arraigned the eagle because it had not the dimensions of the swan. In all the successive courses of lectures delivered by me, since my first attempt at the Royal Institution, it has been, and it still remains, my object, to prove that in all points from the most important to the most minute, the judgment of Shakespeare is commensurate with his genius,- nay, that his genius reveals itself in his judgment, as in its most exalted form. And the more gladly do I recur to this subject from the clear conviction, that to judge aright, and with distinct consciousness of the grounds of our judgment, concerning the works of Shakespeare, implies the power and the means of judging rightly of all other works of intellect, those of abstract science alone excepted.”

    Coleridge on Shakespeare.

    • Well Played Allthumbs :cool:

    • Yes, thank you.

    • A Bronte Reader

      To allthumbs – “mere dreams of a pedantry” indeed!

      Bravo on your rapier thrust, bravo on your fine sensibilities!
      However I must confess allthumbs that I often feel it a shame that you subordinate your obvious Intelligence to that lesser maiden – Manners.
      You can offer more :smile: .
      We have all seen it.

      I leave for the States on Monday morn – and I hope to diverge from my allotted path and steal 2 days at the Kimball. I go not for what’s within its walls but to marvel at Kahn’s supreme vision. I shall send a postcard. If you should see Canguro and Spleenblatt please pass on my hello and goodbye.

      To Polybius – further to my post above on De Vere’s outside . If you look closely you will see that the claims made for De Vere all originate “outside” the work itself and in the “life” of the man. This is a profoundly dangerous, and to my mind, erroneous excursion for this simple reason: it is predicated on the term should ; an aux. verb used to basically express a state or condition. For the De Vere apologists it stands in as the keystone argument of expectation ; as in “The author of the works should be well educated”, the author of the works should be a nobleman/courtier”,“the author of the works should be widely travelled” etc.
      This absolute reliance on an “expectation” is a fallacious argument and has no bearing whatsoever on any material evidence. Or if it does, no Oxford apologist thus far has tendered it.

      To Nick - well said, well argued, excellent questions.

      To the Muttonhead -
      * No contemporary doubted the authorship or identity of Stratford Shakespeare.
      * No major and immediate critic – Hazlitt, Lamb, Coleridge, Lessing, Dryden, Malone - doubted the authorship or identity of Stratford Shakespeare
      *No major contemporary authority – Chambers, Adams,Rowse, Bradley, Kermode, Bloom, Greenblatt, Shapiro, Wilson, Bate - doubted the authorship or identity of Stratford Shakespeare
      *Of the 1400 or so leading Shakespearean scholars belonging to the Shakespeare Society/Congress/Foundation, not one supports the Oxford claim. Not one.

      * Jonson, ah Jonson, whose fiery and fatal temper would have thrust a dagger in the eye of the Stratford man had he suspected him to be an imposter, thought Shakespeare to be Shakespeare.

      Good enough for me.

      • G’day ABR, the Kimball seems to have a very fine collection, if they boast a Velazquez, Goya, Murillo, Rembrandt etc, but I assume you are going to see the Mondrians.

        I read Coleridge on Hamlet many years ago and what a fine insightful reading of that play it was, a very modern sensibility. I’m going to see if I can get hold of all of the lectures he gave.

        It was just a cut and paste afterall, but Coleridge is a deep reader and a deep thinker and a full blooded poet.

        Without wanting to seem falsely modest, my intelligence is adolescent, moody, inchoate and ridiculously internally inchoherent. There is much to read on this site apart from Ellis that has provided wider references for me to explore, articulated by very intelligent people.

        R1 is enigmatic and pithy we are working on “Buber the Musical”.

        • A Bronte Reader

          Hi allthumbs, yes, I shall see a Lorrain, 2 Gericault’s, 2 Cezanne’s, a Turner, and, of course, a Mondrian!

          But this time it is the architecture I am looking at.
          A friend gave me “Deconstructing the Kimbell: An Essay on Meaning and Architecture” by Michael Benedikt.
          Absolutely fascinating, and as it is with these things I find myself needing to stand on the lawn and see for myself, and think through Benedikt’s thesis.

          Good luck with the Coleridge hunt. It should not be too difficult to find them. Are there any in particular you are looking for?

          Your modesty is, charming.

          And yes, Reader1 is an intelligent woman; sharp, widely read, and quite often wonderfully oblique. Unfortunately she finds herself, on the Assange/Dreyfus thread, staring at the Dead Eye; where contradiction and hypocrisy, fallacy and malevolence, seek to cauterise her every word.
          It is a shame beyond description that it should be the case.

          But here we are.

          And by her situation I am reminded of the Mariner:
          (forgive in advance the errors and paraphrasing),

          I have done an hellish thing,
          And it would work them a woe,
          I had killed the bird
          That made the breeze to blow.
          wretch said they
          the bird to slay,
          That made the wind to blow!
          Nor dim or red like an angel’s head,
          The glorious sun uprise,
          Then all cried, I had killed the bird!
          that brought the fog and mist.
          Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
          That bring the fog and mist

          Reader1 - go harder. Harder. Willful ignorance and conscious deceit deserve nothing less than the best you have.

          Oh, allthumbs, about that musical of yours - will there be any high kicks?
          I love high kicks!!
          You know, it’s strange, you say “Ich-Du” I say “high kicks”!

          • High kicks; we have one scene where Nietzsche in a catatonic state in his wheel chair to the side of the stage, briefly kicks up his heels, and one is left to ponder if it was his will or a nervous affliction that prompted the movement of his legs. There is much debate to a tune in 3/4 time by the chorus in acapella.

            • Never Enough Ellis

              These past few threads have been far more entertaining than any musical, but I will proudly reserve my seat for the Allthumbs Reader 1 collaboration. Provided there is no ongoing debate over authorship, of course.

  20. Emotional intelligence you say.

    Let us go then you and I into developmental psychology. I find it remarkable when life continues to provide examples of people thinking the same things as I simultaneously. Ask an atheist where are memories stored, and is the brain a hard disk etc. Ah I digress. What is this minty freshness on my breath?

    They say, 99% of children are born as geniuses in divergent thinking. We educate it out of them via our education system; which is modeled on industrialisation, factory lines, by date of manufacture and so on and so forth. I will attest to the weakness of our current education system. The research I’ve done tonight only confirms my suspicions.

    What we are discussing, I think, concerns not just the creative process involved in engineering, physics, poetry or play writing but also, I would argue, an essential element of any wholesome socialist vision of the future. (Or whatever).
    {Value of education = collective potential economic utility of said workforce.}
    Without creativity there is no productivity.

    (Education should be a long beautiful dance, it isn’t).

    Can one perform labour, without emotion? Can the socialist writer? Can the teacher? The accountant? The picker/packer?

    In education today, emotional intelligence is discussed in terms of behavioural issues, equating a high social intelligence with resilience. It isn’t discussed in terms of “How do we foster the genius in this kid?”, its “How do we get this kid to be socialised successfully?”.

    Godfrey knows how it is discussed in the military or in marketing, or even children’s television. According to someone I know, “it all started with the teletubbies”, hah.

    What I can be sure of, is no single human is born a genius independent of their social context. Furthermore “Emotional intelligence” is a relatively new term, and evades a solid intellectual form. I can cut and paste some definitions if people would like.

    Perhaps, I could argue that “emotional intelligence” trends away from lines of socioeconomic inequalities, in fact I doubt being working class has very little to do with genius or emotional intelligence at all.

    (and if you will excuse my initial ramblings)

    You can boil it down all the way to what came first, the chicken or the egg, language or thought? Do we form thought in the womb? As an egg? As a fish? A frog? A dragon? With Gills & feathers, do we think? Is music played in the room of a pregnant mother stimuli to an unborn child? At what point?
    When does language begin?
    What flows through the brain of a mute infant?

    There seems to be there, a disconnect, a gap as it were, at least in my perception of things; somewhere between THE conception and a child’s first word. Certainly, as a culture we are not addressing the issue of education, or the question of emotional intelligence in any urgent way what so ever.

    “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
    Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
    In the sepulchre there by the sea,
    In her tomb by the sounding sea.”

    Tom Waits on Letterman with The Last Dying Breath of Henry Ford, that he purchased for too much on ebay.

    • There is no such thing as thought, Soil. Only language.

      • Could you expand on that, Reader1? I’m inclined to think that thought is fundamental and inherent, and needs to be translated into words.
        The inarticulate have an opinion…no? Or am I misunderstanding you?

        • A Bronte Reader

          F.I Kendall, excuse my intrusion, but if Reader doesn’t see your question, I’d like to give it a whirl :smile:

          Out of courtesy I shall wait.

          • I also will wait, ABR, and be most interested in two responses.

            • “When I analyze the process that is expressed in
              the sentence, ‘I think,’ I find a whole series of daring assertions, the
              argumentative proof of which would be difficult, perhaps impossible: for instance, that it is _I_ who think, that there must necessarily be something that thinks, that thinking is an activity and operation on the part of a being who is thought of as a cause, that there is an ‘ego,’ and finally, that it is already determined what is to be designated by thinking - that I KNOW what thinking is. For if I had not already decided
              within myself what it is, by what standard could I determine whether that which is just happening is not perhaps ‘willing’ or ‘feeling’? In
              short, the assertion ‘I think,’ assumes that I COMPARE my state at the present moment with other states of myself which I know, in order to determine what it is; on account of this retrospective connection with
              further ‘knowledge,’ it has, at any rate, no immediate certainty for
              me.” - F.N.

              • Reader1: Don’t you have any of those childhood memories of having the full mental comprehension of a situation with adults, but lacking, and knowing your own lacking, of the words by which to express it?

                A difficulty, even as an adult, in translating thought to words…or even better words…is surely a common occurrence?

                • If you had lived your life in a pitch black room, hearing nothing and experiencing nothing, you wouldn’t dream because you wouldn’t have anything to dream of. Most of what passes for thought is just moral prejudice and obedience to and defence of established patterns and interpretations. There is no objective distinction between the activity of thinking and the subject either doing the thinking or being thought upon, or even the activity of non-thinking. Language is not absolute, it is not the thing in itself, which is where the adult world probably goes wrong in it’s crusty civil bureaucratism. There are no straight lines in nature. Definitions are only vague reference points and ideas are wholly dependent on the language and culture that produces them.

                  And my dog understood the implications of power dynamics and imbalances better than Karl Marx. He knew from the other side of the oval if he instantly disliked a dog. Or a person. And he hated black staffordshire terriers because I looked after one for a while and he was somewhat possessive. Though he wasn’t threatened at all by my bird, whom I loved. He knew, you see. He knew who was who.

                  Same with the albatross. How does it know where to go? It’s born on a ledge, its parents desert him immediately, he gathers strength for a bit and then flies off around the world all on its own. What’s going through the albatross’ head?

                  • In the black room scenario, wouldn’t you be just pure consciousness? How does that look without any inputs/outputs, would it be different to being dead?

                    • There were those princes in Europe who were locked up in dungeons their entire lives. At least, I believe there was at least one of them. I believe he was killed as a teenager so there was no opportunity to question him on his experiences, Helen Keller style. I think also there have actually been children who have grown up with wolves and even elephants. In India, mainly, I believe this occurs. One was rescued and reincorporated into human society, thereby losing touch with his wolf roots.

                    • Never Enough Ellis

                      What of the profoundly deaf?

                    • It all gets addressed in “Buber - The Musical”. You’ll just have to buy a ticket along with everyone else. Although if I get my way, it’s going to be called “Everything’s Coming Up Buber”. We’re in hot dispute about that. There is a whole section devoted to whether Stevie Wonder’s mental processes contstitute thought that will answer all your questions. There’s even a musical number sung by the Helen Keller character, called “My Heart’s in Peril, Cheryl”. Some of our early test audiences have fainted from the meaningful implications. Others stormed out of the matinee. But they all returned in time for the climax, where the lead character Judy Prisk, a blousy broad gets rejected by her burly lover, Patrick Dignam, and winds up in an invalid home in Tennessee.

                    • Patrick Dignam

                      Hold fast Reader of One!

                      Step away from the keyboard!

                      I am neither “burly” nor do I “reject” anyone “blousy” or otherwise!

                      Are you finally coming around?

                      Seriously, superb job by you and l’Inconnu on the other thread.
                      You both performed a speedy and exemplary demolition of Godfrey’s hypocrisy and cant.

                      Well done.
                      Despite our differences, I offer my sincere congratulations. :grin:

                    • hudsongodfrey

                      Hypocrisy my arse! Name one example?

                      Because your being a Troll is such an honest and transparent way to behave!

                  • I have heard from a close source in London, very big in the West End, they are about to open with “The Sound of Wittgenstein”, in September,the backers are getting very nervous!

                    Enigmatic, pithy and she makes me laugh.

                    Everything’s coming up Buber, excellent.

      • hudsongodfrey

        To the extent that thought reduces to brain function then clearly not all brain function has to do with language. This would be an unsatisfying way to argue that language is separate from thought because we simply don’t think of all brain function as being thoughtful.

        For a long time Chomsky in his excellent work on language and the mind referred to certain concepts as intrinsic or extrinsic saying that beyond that he didn’t think they were studiable because we lacked the tools. Well MRI studies have come along and provided some of the tools that show impulses originating in different parts of the brain and going on to be assembled in what is loosely thought of as the language part of the brain before emerging as words or writing. That may account for some people’s definition of how thoughts arise, but I still doubt that it will satisfy everyone.

        I think an interesting insight may be had in terms of people who have different language structures. Writing from left to right or right to left appears to influence how we form patterns to conceptualise things like ascendency. Ask English writers and Chinese writers to arrange events in order from first to last and the concept of time is never in question even if the order is completely reversed. But go to remote islands without a written culture and where time has less meaning and they defer to another concept like size or distance to create meaningful patterns.

        What I think this is saying to us in Chomsky’s terminology is that the concept of order is more intrinsic and the language we use to express it is more extrinsic. I don’t think it could be said of them that it might be the other way around.

        There’s also the argument that it seems arrogant to claim that time didn’t exist before we were here to bear witness to it. Although proponents of quantum mechanics make a good case for saying that time doesn’t exist anyway.

        It may after all have been just a throw away line, but my instinct based on what understanding I’m able to bring to the subject tells me that thought and language are indeed quite separate.

        • Is it you or the universe I should be thanking for this glorious collection of words? Or Bob Ellis for running/not closing down his blog?

          I am in your debt and life is beautiful.

          Thanks for the link to “Waylon Jennings”. I was listening to the doors of all things, and could suggest to you a few similar comparisons.

          I have a “Goddaughter”, a niece who shares the same birthday as myself and Gough Whitlam, my sister shared the Edgar Allen Poe poem via social media.

          I was up the night before and penned a poem of my own, (if you will indulge me)

          From the cliff tops,
          She kissed me,
          Held me by the throat for just long enough,
          To leave a scar, the mark of heavy boots,
          The weight of men on chests,
          Bearing down.

          Gracious ink, her wrists,
          Stained in blue and foam white
          Covered by tumbling sleeves in the black of night,
          The skittish moon,
          The cold, southern swarl, (q)
          The depth,
          Humbling, dramatic.

          - Then I read for the first time the Coleridge poem.

          I really do apologize, my brain is a swarl (q) all of its own, awash with hours of discussion that I emerged into upon waking; fueled by your magnificent contribution.

          I thoughtlessly omitted a term I came across- “learned helplessness” in regards to education. That got my goat.

          I could say something about creativity, about being bipolar, the role of delusion or, how to put it? To have a great idea that is not yet taken form and to dodge the naturally negative dialectic voice in your own head that says “Rubbish man, get back to your forklift”; The same as an athlete running up a hill.

          Only the prize here is more than a medal. I think a key word here is “inclusive”. As in, I dream of a inclusive social theory. Perhaps I am in a state of delusion, perhaps these are just the mere rantings of a deranged graffitist; but what beautiful dreams are forming in this head of mine.

          I am rambling and I will think much, seek out Chomsky and Think Glorious Thought!!!!


    • Thanks William, wonderful post.
      I think you’re very right about what I see as the devolution of education into training. Surely a concern for developing emotional intelligence would be more manifest if more people were concerned about promoting original thought or fewer about controlling educational outcomes such that they produce predictably stolid citizens in their own likenesses.

      On emotional Intelligence I’d say that I find it interesting because contrary to the idea that it is all about the ability to perceive and integrate emotional thought there is a deeper reference based in neurological studies. These show we decide things using the emotional parts of our brain prior to being aware of the need to rationalise them.

      It was Polybius who turned me onto the idea with his almost florid description of de Vere as this wanton aristocratic gadfly of a person who could not but have lacked the serious application required to render works of genius. That may well be right. But whereas on the one hand I saw colour and movement on the other I saw stolid heavily rationalised resistance from others. Yet those others became quite emotional when challenged about it, even I think without all the interpersonal crap thrown in.

      If I were similarly to make the kind of argument that challenges firmly held beliefs it might be to say the some people on the left seem too ready to assign meaning to social class that I as a firm believer in egalitarianism think ought to be rejected. So I’d paraphrase your words here to say that the impulse that finds its genesis in the emotional brain is an egalitarian one that is nevertheless dependent for its context upon the environment in which it finds rational expression.

      As you say, you could boil it down instead to more or less metaphysical questions. I think they’re terribly interesting but ultimately I distrust our ability to answer them well enough to say anything really useful. Much as I can’t refute Reader1′s assertion that there is “only language” it doesn’t help me understand anything.

      If we want to understand then I think we have to make some basic assumptions; that the universe exists, that we can know something about it and that models with predictive capability have greater utility.

      That’s why I’m interested in emotional intelligence. Developing theories of brain function helps us to understand how we think, and it all seems to point to the idea that we’re progressing towards opening up different kinds of language in less restrictive contexts.

      Enough of that…

      Did you know that the Poe Poem was also turned into a song by Waylon Jennings. Which just goes to show that you never can tell where an idea may lead. Google Annabel Lee and Waylon Jennings if you’re interested but it isn’t that it is the greatest song so much as the surprising juxtaposition of sensibilities Poe’s and Jenning’s.

      The link to the Waits interview has been killed off by YT so I found another that would seem to be the same thing.

      • Poor De Vere! I never said I liked him; my feelings for him are quite irrelevant.

        One might as well say “I dislike the Sun”.

        • Doug, its a paradox I agree that our feelings for de Vere the man may be quite irrelevant yet at the same time our feelings about the rightness or otherwise of whether the theories we have fit are anything but irrelevant.

          In other words we may say that it just had to be a certain kind of person whose qualities fit with our expectations then upon finding such a candidate we may say that it feels right.

          If on the other hand we set criteria that are about the consensus of others then we may feel vindicated on the one hand or insulted on the other by those who disagree with us.

          And if we say we feel nothing then I think we’d be lying because otherwise why are people doing the on-line equivalent of screaming their tits off at one another.

          • It is a little like Sherlock Holmes famous declaration :

            Once we eliminate the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.

            It seems to me impossible that the Man from Stratford wrote the Sonnets. Yet the Sonnets are undoubtedly written by Shakespeare.

            Draw your own conclusions.

            • Even the venerable Mr Holmes must sometimes have struggled for lack of evidence and had to rely on his best instincts.

              If he didn’t then it may just be that Doyle never wrote him that way :wink:

    • William, it seems to me that just about every human who ever lived has thought along somewhat similar lines : seeking to make order out of the chaos that surrounds us, seeking to impose some sense and classification on the world.

      The process is one of abstraction, necessarily : early in life every small creature is abstracted into “ant” or “fly” every largish furry beast is a “dog” every sensation the child feels is either pleasure or pain.

      Obviously the abstractions become more sophisticated as the child grows up, but you get the drift.

      Recent anthropological research suggests that every human being alive today is descended from a few hundred individuals who survived catastrophic climate change in Africa and then spread out across the planet in better times. Hardly surprising then that cultures apparently diverse and unrelated still seem to come to the same general conclusions on thing like religion, mores, and origin myths.

      I don’t know if what I am saying here is original; my talent is for synthesis perhaps rather than original creation. But I try to think on these things, as Ellis might say.

      • Doug: I really don’t want to disagree with you, but your comments here about child development are really quite extraordinary - outrageous, actually…and, to my mind, quite wrong.

        • Sorry FI, my point is rather that human beings all tend to think along the same lines, no matter which disparate culture they may happen to have grown up in.

          I’m sure my details are quite wrong, and I’ll willingly defer to the experts.

          Human beings all try to impose order on chaos; as a result a face is seen on the Moon, a vision of the Virgin Mary is seen in a fold of cloth, etc.

          And this applies across the centuries and across the continents. A mystic in Outer Mongolia in 2000 BCE will probably see something similar to someone tripping on mescalin in Mexico in 2012.

          • Who are the experts on everything and everyone ever? They sound awesome. Do they make a lot of money off of it? How do you get to be one? Do you have to be good at computers?

          • There are similarities Doug, but there are also documented cultural differences.

            In China they’ll pick your pockets and in Japan they’ll return a lost wallet with the money still in it and be insulted at the mention of compensation. I’m no social anthropologist but something has to explain this, and I’m reliably told the smart money is on culture over genetics.

  21. HudsonGodfrey: I wonder whether you have considered recent research like

    about the moral life of babies, and the ethics that they demonstrate, that seem to be inherent.
    Not the kind of stuff Noam knows anything about - much as I respect him.

    • I wanted to say something first about a post you made above, but I didn’t want to interject. It was about “those childhood memories of having the full mental comprehension of a situation with adults, but lacking, and knowing your own lacking, of the words by which to express it.”

      I do indeed and it meshes nicely with that marvellous link you posted I think.

      I’ve heard of similar studies with slightly older children but never with babies.

      What we know about how we learn and the ability to empathise is that they’re really closely linked in terms of brain function.

      If the capacity for learning and empathy are as closely linked as Ramachandran suggests then there may also be an explanation for the baby’s behaviour. Maybe the part that is innate is the brain structures that we have for doing these things. Or in other words they’re actually using this to learn as they go along.

      The moral dimension of this is also huge as the article hints at. If empathy infers reciprocity (and I think it does) then the Golden Rule, “do unto others…” is manifestly written on the fabric of the human brain.

      As for what it says about the difference between thought and language, well at this stage perhaps no more than I mentioned earlier, but Ramachandran in his Reith lectures several years ago was one of the first to alert me to the possibility that it might be studiable.

  22. Type into youtube:

    Rap News 14: Higgs Boson (with Prof. Scott Ridley)

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