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This Is What Anti-Stratfordians Actually Believe
May 26, 2014 9:36 AM   Subscribe


 
I appreciate the (probable) reference to South Park's Scientology takedown in the ninth-season episode Trapped in the Closet.
posted by The Confessor at 9:50 AM on May 26


Best bit in the episode: Kyle examining the "text" of Independence Day and concluding Roland Emmerich is a homophobic Jewish-American Republican, formerly in the Air Force, with a stripper wife, two children, an adorable dog and a Mac computer. (Roland Emmerich is pretty much none of that.)
posted by dannyboybell at 10:18 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Anonymous and Richard III down, kind of disappointed that he hasn't done Throne of Blood. Aw.

Now Romeo + Juliet.
posted by sukeban at 11:09 AM on May 26


I am constantly amazed at how regularly/often Kyle is able to put out funny, intelligent, high quality videos that make me A. want to watch the films he's talking about and B. watch more movies in general.

This is coming from a person who watches a good amount of movies to begin with.

The man is an internet treasure.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:17 AM on May 26


I subscribe to the Baconist theory, in which the plays falsely attributed to Shakespeare were actually written by Doctor Mirabilis himself--Roger Bacon-- in the 13th century.

I consider my crackpot theory to be no less credible than the other crackpot theories, with the bonus that my focus of crackpot attention was able to summon fireballs.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 11:19 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


If it's not obvious, the last link in the OP discusses a porn flick. Kyle handles the topic discreetly enough -- censoring the screen when necessary -- and uses it to as leverage for a pretty good monologue about problems of making porno out of any Shakespeare. But for those for whom it could be an issue, it'll be an issue.
posted by ardgedee at 11:20 AM on May 26


That was fun! A well done and enjoyable takedown of Anonymous. And I really like his conclusion, too: It doesn't matter who wrote Shakespeare's plays, because someone did. They exist, and because they speak so eloquently to the human condition they find resonance in every era, with every audience. We can all become Shakespeare in a way, as we find our own meaning in the author's works.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:55 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


I am inclined to think that Shakespeare's plays were not written by Shakespeare, but by someone else of the same name.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:23 PM on May 26 [10 favorites]


The nobility argument doesn't make much sense given how many Renaissance artists appear to have been middle-class professionals, including Tallis, Rembrandt van Rijn (the son of a miller), the early Bach family, and the Holbeins.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:27 PM on May 26


Thanks for pointing these out! I don't usually watch videos like this, but the Anonymous one has got me hooked--not least because of the phrase that will now become my shorthand for anti-Stratfordianism:

"BUT HOW CAN FALCON IF NOT POSH?"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:39 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Bill Bryson's "Shakespeare" focuses primarily on what biographical details have been identified through evidence (there's like 40 small pieces of info). It also includes a great take down of the various alternate author theories. Highly recommended.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:40 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


> The nobility argument doesn't make much sense given how many Renaissance artists appear to have been middle-class professionals, including Tallis, Rembrandt van Rijn (the son of a miller), the early Bach family, and the Holbeins.

I think the presumption that Shakespeare (and mumblety other major artists, although Shakespeare is a magnet for kooks in the same way that JFK is) must have been noble is a distinctly modern-ish one -- and in fact it seems to have only kicked off for real some time in the 19th century, coincidentally the time of the Industrial Revolution. And I think it started partly as a defense against creeping egalitarianism (as the video hammers on the not-particularly-rationalist assumption that only those of great stature could write about people of great stature). But ironically anti-Stratfordianism is also mostly a consequence of it. You need a commonly-recognizable mobile middle class to accuse Shakespeare of not being a member of it.

In any rigidly hierarchical society, the creative classes are pretty low in the food chain, and exist as a specialist variety of craftsman in service to people in power and, where applicable (in music and theater) by conventional commerce. The really successful artists might have had influence in their communities and, say, social connections to their Court, but then again so did the people who made the clothes and baked the pastries; the royalty had to eat and be clothed, too. The notion of the artist as existing outside the hierarchy, and whose work exists as a public asset, is a romantic one and really only comprehensible in eras with a strong middle class and where social mobility is real and achievable.

There are certainly examples of people of noble heritage making a profession in the arts, but they also tend to be the nth born children of large families whose older sibs already have claim however finely the estate can be divided; or of children of people with lost titles (through war, or mismanagement, or whatnot), or the inevitable bastard children. Without those as an excuse, turning to anything as a profession rather than a gentleman's hobby would be a slip in status. In contrast, for the son of a fishmonger to be apprenticed off to the butcher wasn't a big deal, and the bright son of a glovemaker might have had his pick of attractive careers to choose from: Clockmaking, land surveying, scholarship, clothesmaking, pastries, printing, bookbinding, painting, theater... There's no meritocracy allowing smart kids to rise to the top, but they can at least hope to marry well and get into a nicer line of work than their parents had.

The premise that Sir Lord Duke Wossface hired some random asshole to front for his own incredibly prolific outpouring of literature so that he could continue doing his thing doesn't invalidate the above, but it makes it a lot more questionable. It builds on a fragile edifice of historicism to reinforce a prejudice in lieu of the much simpler assumption (that the author of Shakespeare's works was the son of a tradesman) which not only fit the facts as known but also conform to what we know about Elizabethan England and all the other people who were there at the time.
posted by ardgedee at 2:54 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Granted the Emmerich's concept of the Tudor Rose and Hamlet sounds just plain batshit on its own. But Shakespeare stole a lot of his ideas from other contemporary works, and there's at least two prior sources for Hamlet, possibly a third if you buy the ur-Hamlet theory, more if you look back at earlier sources. (And why Hamlet and not Titus, Othello, or Richard?)

But I think the review goes off the rails in suggesting that Anonymous is wish fulfillment for Emmerich, and it's not clear that accusation to be taken as parody equivalent to the homophobic Jewish-American Republican, formerly in the Air Force, with a stripper wife, two children, an adorable dog and a Mac computer.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:22 PM on May 26


I think the presumption that Shakespeare (and mumblety other major artists, although Shakespeare is a magnet for kooks in the same way that JFK is) must have been noble is a distinctly modern-ish one -- and in fact it seems to have only kicked off for real some time in the 19th century, coincidentally the time of the Industrial Revolution...
It may be an attempt to remake the author into a Romantic figure, with de Vere as a Byronic type possessed by his passions, forced to go to great lengths to hide the artistic impulses that he cannot suppress. Quite a contrast from the reality of Shakespeare as a working artist, writing for money and continually making adjustments to his plays after receiving feedback from his actors and the audience. Shakespeare evolved his plays over time (although probably not the sonnets), and that doesn't sit well with those who prefer to think of creativity as coming from an inspirational bolt of lightning.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:38 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


I remain unconvinced of his claim that Vonnegut wasn't abducted by aliens.
posted by ckape at 4:23 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The really successful artists might have had influence in their communities and, say, social connections to their Court, but then again so did the people who made the clothes and baked the pastries; the royalty had to eat and be clothed, too. The notion of the artist as existing outside the hierarchy, and whose work exists as a public asset, is a romantic one and really only comprehensible in eras with a strong middle class and where social mobility is real and achievable.

Up to a point. I know little of Tudor and Stewart pastry chefs, but I'd be surprised if even the best of them would have survived being a very obvious Catholic - who continued to produce Catholic work, sometimes working with the Holy Roman Emperor's staff - as Byrd did and was. He did get into trouble, but considering how much more trouble the people he hung out with got into (Gunpowder Plotters - you don't get more enemy-of-the-state terrorist than that), his survival into his 80s was truly remarkable, writing prolifically (Anglican and Catholic and secular music) across two monarchs (three, if you count Mary) and a whole heap of political intrigue in which he and his music were most certainly involved.

It's hard in any context to deny that his creative talents were widely appreciated and must have contributed to him having an exalted position that has genuine analogies with the licence we grant the best of our musicians. Other old Catholic families survived too, of course, but Byrd was not of noble birth (his brothers were merchants) so he really did have elements of 'middle class' - read gentlemen's - social mobility rather than lineage to protect him. He showed talent from his youth, as well as a tendency to tangle with authority, and the one simply must have outweighed the other across his career.

(On the "was Shakespeare a Catholic?" theme, I have nothing to say, and I will say it.)
posted by Devonian at 6:28 PM on May 26


For further reading, a brilliant friend of mine has tackled the issue. He says, in a series of articles, that Shakespeare is Shakespeare.
posted by bryon at 8:17 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


I did just wince a bit when he mentioned the English Civil War as if it were a good thing.

We are talking about the new boss who banned theatre for eighteen years. Not a lot of Shakespeare going on, that is to say.

That's to say nothing of the damage the party of Cromwell did during its tenure - churches vandalized, paintings destroyed, sculpture smashed, stained glass shattered, books and manuscripts burned, medieval plate melted down. No cakes and ale for you!

Thank God Shakespeare was born (and died) early enough to dodge that bullet.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:52 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


That was nicely done.
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on May 27


Well, John Milton seemed to think the Civil Wars were a good thing.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:55 PM on May 27


And Ezra Pound thought fascism was a good thing.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:54 PM on May 27


See, look, the thing is the JFK business is legitimately a mess, even if the usual story is true. On the other hand I'm always reminded of this blog post by Jonathan Mayhew whenever I hear anything about this business:

Imagine an aristocrat, an enormously gifted polymath of the early 17th century. He produces two bodies of literary work: the first, under his own name, is stunningly and ineptly amateurish. The second, much more varied and extensive, exhibits great genius. The aristocrat, however, dissociates himself from this work, writing it under a pseudonym, the name of a barely literate actor and shareholder in a theatrical company. While hugely ambitious, the aristocrat is entirely egoless, allowing himself to be known as an utter mediocrity while giving credit to his work to another man. The worst part, from the point of view of someone with more ego, is not that he can never be recognized for his second body of work, but that he is stuck with inferior works in his own name. Upon the death of the actor, the leading literary lights of the day compose elegies about his (the actor's) genius. The aristocrat is already in his grave.

I can imagine this as a short story by Henry James or Jorge Luis Borges. It is a thematically rich story and I am giving it to you to write, if you want, for no charge. I certainly won't write it myself.

It's true that I'm poking fun at Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. The weak point in this theory, I believe, is the one I've identified here: the Kafkaeque or Borgesian unreality of the story.

posted by zbsachs at 9:32 PM on May 27


The namedrop of JFK was not meant to be read as anything other than an example of somebody else whose role in history is obsessed over by fairly nutty historical revisionists. I agree that they don't have anything relevant in common aside from this and English being their primary language.
posted by ardgedee at 10:33 AM on May 28


English Civil Wars =! 20thC Fascist movements.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:03 AM on May 31




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