Scoring Tips

This is the size of the turd I'm laying on NBC this fall.

  • Conservatives looking for a distraction from AIG: 1 point
  • Liberals seeking to prove they’re capable of criticizing the President: 1 point
  • Outrage from people who used “retard” in conversation only hours earlier: 1 point
  • Bowlers: 1 point

  • Commentators clucking over the effect on Obama’s popularity, even though everyone’s paying attention to the tournament instead: 1 point
  • People pissed they were forced to watch Leno at all: 1 point
  • No, I mean really pissed. The man is an insult to comedy, I don’t care how many people find trips to the 99-cent store amusing, not that Letterman hasn’t been coasting for fifteen years, and for that matter it was all downhill for Carson after Reagan was elected, and I’m just waiting for Stewart and Colbert to slip so I can bitch about them too, don’t even get me started about Jimmy Fallon: 1 point
  • Besides, the Battlegeek finale’s tonight. We have our priorities: 1 point
  • Reporters who don’t bother to seek comment from the Special Olympics: 1 point
  • Heartfelt responses either way from Special Olympics parents with no political axe to grind: 100 points
Obama Likens His Bowling Game to Special Olympics [WaPo]

My top score at bowling was 145 and I cheated (it was on a date.)

Average score is either 80 or 90.

If I apply wingnut lojik then I can be Preznit of the US America (minus the whole born in a foreigns nations thing.)

I can’t believe I missed four seasons of the most awesomest show on teevee: Battlestar. Some of my work friends love the series, so I’m going to spend today home, sick on my couch, catching up on the whole series stating with S1E1. See you on the flip side.

Boo! I can’t watch it instantly! Boo!

@ManchuCandidate: Let me consult my television French:Le no[n].

Man, some all of the comments on that WaPo post are super idiotic. Don’t they realize they’d enjoy the Moonie Times and get a nifty wedding with their annual subscription?

That’s why I stay away, but I shouldn’t be surprised considering the kind of loons that write letters to the editor (at least in the papers I used to read.) For some reason the nutters hang around the MSM comments section like flies on a corpse. Better there than here.

BTW, congrats (so far) to being the only male, straight or gay, who knows the basketball.


My dad gave me the first season for Christmas. I was blown away and have been buying later seasons since. I’m up to the early episodes of Season III now. Having 40 minutes to myself to watch another episode of Battlestar is seriously one of the things I most look forward to these days.

Is Battlegeek Battlestar? Oh. Is Lorne Greene still in it? Good for him.

Why on earth would the President of the United States of America be appearing on some chat show? I don’t understand. And now he made a thoughtless joke – the kind of thing we all say every day at the water cooler; perhaps not RML but everyone else – which, because of said chat show, will be blared non-stop till the 2012 election and beyond. I think we can all agree that such a slip is way worse than invading foreign countries and causing the death of (perhaps) hundreds of thousands of people; certainly displacing millions; destroying the economy; handing over the government to a pack of thugs and bandits; and spending $300M on a shrine to one’s own incompetence. An act of such chutzpah that the AIG bonuses pale in comparison.

I’m disgusted with it all. Can’t watch/or read anything about what is/isn’t going on. Does the whole country want Obama to fail? Saw a movie entitled Taking Chance the other day. Very interesting idea about the body of a dead marine being taken back to his home town and the effect it has on various people who facilitate the trip. They come face to face, as it were, with the results of the war. And it’s very well done with a fine performance by Kevin Bacon, who is almost always good and has a real ability to invest rôles in even the sorriest dreck with the illusion of an inner life: ie, that something human is going on. So I’m watching this thing and being all touched till it got to be too obviously a piece of propaganda and then remembered all the accounts I’d read of the incredible suffering we have caused in Iraq and I got really ashamed. I thought again of the Iraqi mother who, having already lost husband, brothers and a son, went to a makeshift morgue to hunt through piles of body parts to try to piece together as much as she could of another dead son’s body so that it could be buried.

An important scene in Taking Chance was staged at the local Verterans of Foreign Wars lodge: I had never realized before that there is no other kind of veteran since Americans haven’t fought a war here in America since the Civil War. Unless you count the racial insurgencies of the 60s. Britain thought her empire impregnable till her economy was destroyed by two world wars and she no longer had the will or the wherewithal to police half the globe. And it all vanished overnight.

We have been so insulated from reality, so advertised at and told we’re special, that now we are confronted with the account for years of folly, waste and fraud we seem unable as a nation to comprehend what has happened and where we are. A president who might be able to do good work, and has already begun to unravel as much of the institutionalized ignorance and graft as he can, is being pilloried for all he hasn’t yet been able to address. There is no sense of reality anywhere.

The CNN commentary on this is hilarious. And by “hilarious,” I mean snoozifyingly predictable.

I actually watched this in real time, and I thought: “for Christ’s sake, this is now going to be a thing. They’ll be putting this in heavy rotation until Monday, at least.” Seriously: this threw a bone to everybody who hated Black Eagle — Rush, Coulter, PUMA dead-enders, etc. So it was a poor moment — wrong thought, carelessly causing needless distraction, etc. In short: FAIL.

(Incidentally, Talent On Loan From Dog probably might want to check the tape of his Michael J. Fox impersonation before coming after Hopey here. Friendly suggestion.)

And… the Sarah Palin connection is made, naturally enough, by The Corner:

While the One Who We Have Been Waiting For mocks Special Olympics athletes, Sarah Palin is talking about her son and joining the wonderful organization.

That was posted at 0757 (ET) this morning. So this was pretty much the first thing that this particular poster thought of after hearing this. And the video linked to the post was produced by Sarah Inc. well before this happened (and helpfully available to Sarah fans for just such an emergency).

It wasn’t so much that this was the wrong thing to say because it was — well — wrong. He gave an opening to people who hate him. Careless turnovers will kill you, man. Protect the rock!

Personally I am offended that he would poke fun at fucking retards. Those retarded fucks. Nobody should make fun of people that are fucking retards.

Fucking retards. God I hate those fucking retards. Wait, what happened?

I need advice from the Battlestar geeks. Despite being a Science Fiction fan forever (books, tv, movies, all of it), for reasons I cant’ explain and don’t understand (but probably having to do with Lorne Greene), I, like Jnov, managed to completely miss the battlegeek phenomena until this year.

Scrambling, I have jeopardized my marriage by re-prioritizing netflicks and we have received nothing but Battlegeek DVD’s for months now. I am through the mini-series and the first year episodes (in my world Adama was just shot).

I see that the last four episodes of season four are available On Demand from Comcast. The question – Is that enough foundation to watch the finale? Or must I skip the dynamic of the group denouement and watch the drama in order? Decisions, decisions.

@Hose Manikin:
It’s best to watch a series like BSG in order.

I haven’t followed BSG, but I can only use an example of a friend of mine (was a big DS9 fan, FSM only knows why) who wanted to get a feeling for its rival Babylon5 and he bitched endlessly about how the episodes he saw didn’t make sense. To wit, I loaned him all my DVD sets. Took him three months to get thru it. Loved it, but shit on the lousy FX. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Am I the only one who burned out on season one of BSG because of all the, you know, WAR PORN? I mean, does it ever evolve beyond, “Oh hey, the Cylons fucking hate us and are gunning for us for no better reason than KILL ALL HUMANS?” And no, subtly nuanced KILL ALL HUMANS in the form of, “OMG which one of us is a Cylon, KILL ALL CYLONS!” doesn’t work either.

I shut the thing off mid-DVD just after they all jumped to some far-off solar system, post-KILL ALL HUMANS. Did I stop it just when it was about to get good? Do we ever get a better reason the Cylons are after all humans? Does it stop being war porn?

I hope the Chicago boys beat the living fuck out of him this morning. He is handing ammunition to the psychotic fascists. All we’re going to hear about for the next 6-12 months is Obama’s hatred for the disabled. Palin will be on TV 30 times a day holding Tripp and weeping, “He would kill you, little baby. That black man, he just hate you. Momma love you. Momma avenge you. . .” Limbaugh can now say that he never made fun of retarded kids, just adult cripples who were asking for it. Fascists will be appearing at Special Olympics events with blow horns forever asking parents, “Do you know that your president hates your child? Would strangle it with his bare hands if you had your back turned for a minute and he could get hands on him or her? Think about it and arm yourselves for the retaking of America from his satanic majesty Obama!”

Apparently the amount of money one makes is how one judges “leadership” ability. The threshold is $250K/yr +.

This is, er, rich. My CEO made $10+ Mil last year and I wouldn’t follow him to a buffet if I was starving.

@ManchuCandidate: I liked this analogy he made about why they have to retain the geniuses at AIG and other companies:

It’s just like when the Allies were victorious over Nazi Germany in World War II, when we occupied the country, we left a lot of Nazis in place because they were the ones who made the trains run on time and the bureaucracy function properly, etc. And it was distasteful, but you needed them.

It does make sense, considering they think of themselves as a master race of sorts.

You know what would have been cheaper?

Draft those twits at AIG into the Army (the 152nd Financial Division) and then STOP/LOSS them.

@SanFranLefty: And wasnt that the very reason given for the ‘de-Baathification’ of you-know-where by you-know-who?

@SanFranLefty: Kind of makes you wish that Paul Bremer had paid a little more attention in European History class, don’t it? Debaathification could have been much more effective, but no one ever bothered to hammer out the details.


Actually, I think what we are seeing is a fragmentation of reality, a compartmentalization of different facets if the internalization of the constant stream of data we have been subjected to since the emergence of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle. The internal world, born in the works of Descartes and popularized by Kant, Freud, and Jung, has been undergoing this kind of sub-division since the start of the last century, as novels, movies, and theatre began to highlight the idea of the internal world as something to be privileged over objective reality. If you had asked a peasant during the Middle Ages if Christianity was true for her, she would have stared at you blankly, because there was no internal world in her philosophy, only an objective world into which she fit her perceptions. The same for an early 19th-Century gentleman- there was no focus on his world, or what was true for him, because there was only an external world, and that external world was expressed in art and discourse only through the filter of his privileged perceptions. But as entertainment began to make that internal world important- for example, in Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw, in which the internal world of a upper-middle-class country manor becomes a metaphor for the entire economic class, or in Citizen Kane, in which an entire life takes place in in the snow-globe of a passing internal moment- it began to usurp the place of the objective, external world, until we now can look at facts square in the eye and say, without embarrassment, “Maybe so, but it still isn’t true for me.”

The internet, and the 24-hour news cycle have created an information stream of ubiquitous proportion. This is disastrous for intellects that have been taught to internalize and configure all information so that it is relevant to our privileged perception. To survive, we create little compartments- like Stinque, quite frankly, or Twitter, which allows us to externalize bite-sized pieces of data so that the buildup of our intellectual steam is released into the ether- so that we can digest the information and configure the information at our own pace. This may be a necessary filter, but it also creates echo chambers, where slight offense rapidly becomes outrage, or where a blatent lie metamorphoses into truth in the flash of a moment.

And so we come to our President, and his “gaffe”. I must admit that I am someone that delights in the word “retard”- I use it six times before breakfast, if possible. I sit around trying to combine it with other words so as to make delightful neologisms to use online. I would be horrified if people in my offline life knew this, however, but the compartment in which it is acceptable – here- allows me to revel in it. But the very fact that we are discussing the word “retard” is a great example of the amplifying quality of this echo chamber…the black eagle didn’t use that word, and his statement- “it was like the Special Olympics or something”- was of a terribly banal nature hardly worthy of comment. Yet here we are in this huge hall of mirrors, looking at self after self after self, and the appearance of reality takes precedence over almost everything, and so our newly-minted president feels the need to be sure that the compartments into which he has put his internal self- his political self, his family self, his “hip” self- have on them no blemish that the mirrors can exploit.

It is hardly free-speech, and, if you really think about it, it is nightmarish.

I will shut up now.


Dude, what is wrong with war porn? I have been playing Gears of War 2 on the X-Box 360; it is war porn and it is awesome. Saving Private Ryan is war porn; so is Mother Courage if you think about it.

War porn rules.

Which reminds me, I have to get my Pot Prescription renewed this week.


Generally, if upper management is leading you to a buffet it is because they ran out of Roast Beef and are switching to Long Pig.

This too heavy (tho accurate), so I can only comment on this. I’ve loved war porn since I was a little kid playing “Rat Patrol” on my dirt bike. Forget “Saving Pvt…”, I can watch “Band of Brothers” over and over and over and never get tired of it.

@Hose Manikin: Be patient with the DVDs, and skip the show tonight. You need to suffer through all the twists first.

@IanJ: Do we ever get a better reason the Cylons are after all humans?


Does it stop being war porn?


Dude, they’re wayyyyy ahead of you. Everything you’re bitching about now is the foundation for how they’ll warp your mind later. You have to establish Black and White before you can start messing around with the Grays.

@ManchuCandidate: @nojo:
Yeah. I’ll wait and watch it in order. BTW, I was a fan of both DS9 and B5. No comparison between the two of course. Now I just to need to figure out what Mrs. Manikin changed the Netflix password to.

@IanJ: @Nabisco: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: If you are going to tell an Epic Tale, you are pretty much limited to man v nature, man v god, man v man, or all of the above. I think the Epic Tale rules were set with the Odyssey and Beowulf.

It appears to me that BSG went for ‘all of the above’. I’m not saying BSG is Homer, just saying I’m finding it a pretty good tale. OTOH – I never actually got through Homer.

@ManchuCandidate: You’ve connected the right dots.

Battlegeek, DS9 and Babylon are all political allegories. It’s a matter of taste whether you like your political allegories couched in science fiction, and it’s a matter of judgment how well a given series pulls it off, but they’re all trying to do interesting things within the genre, just like Bradbury in his finer moments. They’re not Space Westerns.

@Hose Manikin:

Who was it that said that all stories were versions of the same story? Wossname, he was a cultural anthropologist or something….

@Hose Manikin: Add to your list Man v. Himself, and you have a grand slam. Battlegeek loves to destroy its characters from within.

Won’t somebody think of the sphincters?

I can just see the fucktards and the conservatards and the dittotards jumping all over Obama, calling him a libtard for saying retard. Also. Especially because he didn’t say retard.

Benedick, speaking of Kevin Bacon and sci fi, I just lurved Tremors, it was like one of those cool little pulp sci-fi short stories, and he is always good.

They’re not Space Westerns.

Like old school BSG?

Funny is that I’ve been told that old school BSG was considered Battlestar Republican (unlike this sexy hippie humanist version) because it showed the principles that US America Repubs recognize and respect. Like neglecting logistics and treating War like it was a cartoon where the bad guys always miss and good guys never die.

Now, if someone can tell me what the fuck is going on in LOST, besides they’re making up shit as they go along then I’d be happy.

Oh, Tennessee. I thought that I could count on you. There was time for a layup. What were you thinking?

@nojo: Should I be slogging through the first season of House, or should I switch to this Bonanza Galactica thingy?

@blogenfreude: As someone who jumped in near the end of the second season of House and hasn’t really missed a beat, I can advise that you might as well direct your attention elsewhere.

@blogenfreude: From what I understand, you see one episode of House, you’ve seen them all.

For Battlegeek, watch the miniseries/pilot, and make your judgment. When they nuke the sweet little girl in her garden, you know they’re fucking serious.

Depends on your tastes. I avoid most medical dramas like the plague, mostly because they are repetitive and a little because I keep hearing my mom telling me that I shoulda been a doctuh.

@nojo: From what I understand, you see one episode of House, you’ve seen them all.

That about nails it.

Happy Sixth Anniversary of the War in Iraq, y’all!

@ManchuCandidate: If you wanna blame someone for Star Wars, Joseph Campbell’s yer man.

I’ll blame Lucas for Jar Jar and pouty sucky baby Anakin and liberal use of wooden dialogue, though.


And that horrible kid that played Adult Anikin, wtf? Talk about wooden. They should have just cast Keanu Reeves if they wanted someone totally affectless.

@ManchuCandidate: I’ve got 16 for 20, and I was just clicking. So far, the margin of knowledge required for hoops predictions appears to be very slim.

@nojo: Hey now! Tennessee, at least, was a one-possession game. I know, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but still.

@nojo: True in the first round, although there have been fewer big upsets this year. Like – none. But next round your possible points will fall like a rock.

Our only shot at Morehead is coming. Why no wan fratboy humor?

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

Tommmy, that was a beautiful analysis of the solipsistic personality disorder that—along with intense epidemics of Teh Stupid and Teh Crazy—have gripped the Ahmurkin’ public.

@ManchuCandidate: Well you are going to have to blame him for the first one sucking, too, for the whole fucking franchise being basically sphincter-puckering, even though I loved it. When you are young, the world seems bright and new, and any old schlock seems wonderful.

@Hose Manikin: Why no wan fratboy humor? AKA “más felacio U. HS buddy is a prof there, but I still chose against them. Temple should be my undoing in today’s round, really the only stretch I’ve made.


Lost describes how you’ll feel about the plot.

@Hose Manikin: Our only shot at Morehead is coming. Why no wan fratboy humor?

Because it took me a full minute to grasp the opportunity. Agnes got in the way.

True, but Star Wars was good, if not great, schlock.

The later ones ehhhhhh… turned into a SFX laden snore fest. The last one was okay, if predictable.

Of course, if I were smart, I would have done what my parents did when they took me to see Star Wars the 1st time. Fall asleep.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Ah fuck, people have always had their “true for me,” thats just another word for “subjective truth,” its just that people are more splintered in their beliefs, we are not a homogenous culture like medeival europe where any deviation from a strict norm was cause for burning or torture. When we all shared the same “true for me” then the “true for me” more resembled objective “reality,” which is really just the “true for us” as opposed to the “true for me.” Back in the day, the set of “true for us” overlapped more with each individual “true for me.”

You intellectual-tards keep coming up with ways to state this in more abstruse ways, you fucking sphincters.

@Original Andrew:

Thanks. Sorry I took so long to get to the point.

I think it is the hall of mirrors that is causing teh stupid and teh crazy, maybe.

Or, as my boyfriend says , bust this: if it is true that habit and thought actually change the physical structure of the brain (and I have read articles that confirm that very thing), think of how this ouroboros consciousness is causing us to evolve. It isn’t an accident that the autistic population is growing by leaps and bounds…in my opinion, it may be the next ( and possibly the last) evolutionary step for humankind….

@Hose Manikin & @IanJ:

First of all, I’d like to formally apologize for any spoilers I’ve let slip.

Second: You need to watch the episodes in order because the show’s mythology is gradually revealed each season. We’re only now learning the Cylons true motivations in the final episodes, for example. Watching the series finale now would be like picking up a book and reading the end; it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

Third: I’ve never thought of BSG as war porn because they don’t glorify it at all. War is hell, your favorite characters on the show that you have sweet feelings about get killed, people make horrible choices you won’t agree with, and so forth. It is not glamorized at all. Occasionally, people do heroic things—sometimes by accident and sometimes by design—that give the characters hope.

Most importantly, the show examines human nature and current events in ways that aren’t happening anywhere else. How religious extremism, moral relativism and militarism can pervert society, for example. Without giving anything away, the way the show addressed the Iraq occupation was especially novel and gut-churning—I wanted to throw up and/or pass-out after those “Battlestar Iraqtica” episodes. Let’s just say the BSG folks know how to create dramatic tension. I strongly recommend not watching too many episodes at a time though, ‘cause they can be a bit bleak. That said, it’s an excellent show—a classic contemporary parable wrapped in a Sci-Fi package that’s well worth your time and emotional investment.*

*I write this prior to the finale, in which there’s a few things they sure as hell better explain.

@Prommie: The first one didn’t suck the dozen times I saw it then, and it still doesn’t suck now. It was fun, a romp. The second one, while not as fun, introduced some useful artifacts into our popular culture.

The third one sucked. The latter three were DOA.

What Lucas forgot while Campbell was fellating him is that Star Wars was high camp, a loving, witty homage to old movie serials. What followed is as if Chuck Jones suddenly took Duck Dodgers seriously.


I’d love to see a medieval text that directly referenced an internal reality that was equal to or superseded the objective reality, if you can find one. Hell, even one written during the Renaissance.

Intelectutards is lovely, by the way…

@Prommie: You intellectual-tards keep coming up with ways to state this in more abstruse ways, you fucking sphincters.

Hey, dude, you’re the one who called me a descriptivist. And this Wittgensteinian doesn’t even know what the fuck that means.

@Original Andrew: I write this prior to the finale, in which there’s a few things they sure as hell better explain.

You mean what they didn’t explain in the Fuck-Let’s-Shove-All-the-Backstory-Here episode? They crammed an entire season into 44 minutes.

There are times when I second-guess not having taken any philosophy classes in college. This is not one of them.


Yeah, I though XXX was never gonna shuddup, but they had to get all that out somehow.

Specifically, I’m referring to SXXXXXXK and WTF is up with that?

P.S. Timewarp

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Move that back a couple thousand years, and you have Julian Jaynes’ argument: You can see the evolution of internality in Greek epics.

I had to take Louisville in the bracket, but I’m putting it in for a sidebet on Morehead plus 21 points. Just got a feeling on this one – Tubby’s revenge. UK fires Tubby. UK misses the dance. Tubby takes a losing team to the dance, knocks off Lousiville advances to the sweet 16 over Ohio St. There are no Cinderella stories yet this year … could be Tubby.

@nojo: Its just a widening gyre. I was no philosophy major, I was a lit major.

Last night, ah yesternight
betwixt her lips and mine
thy breath was shed, Cynara
yay, and I was desolate and sick, of an old passion

Yeah, man, anything that I thought might convince a chick to do that little move they do, where they lift their butt up so you could slide the panties down, I memorized it. Dowson, my old trusted friend.

Vis a vis morehead, the only humor I could think of was racist.

@Original Andrew: You’re on record with Timewarp, and certainly the presence of Black Hole sets that up, plus the overarching theme about breaking the cycle of everything happening again.

But on the whole, they’re pretty diligent about not cheating, and I don’t see how they can work that without getting all Star Trek on our ass.

I’ll give them this much: I have no fucking clue how they’re going to tie it all up. So say we all.

@Prommie: My MFA friends called that Chicks Through Literature. And they were very good at it.

@Prommie: I liked Kevin Bacon’s nipples in “Flatliners.”

@Original Andrew: NOOO ramen, Shin Ramyun, always and only Shin Ramyun.

@Hose Manikin: I’ve placed many a bet on morehead, and no matter how many times I’ve lost, the times I’ve won have made up for them.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell describes how the archetypical (or is it prototypical) hero always goes through a cycle of separation, initiation, and return. Can you tell I had a lit prof who was obsessed with this idea and relentlessly pounded it into our young brains?

ok, firstly, don’t be dissing my dr, house! it’s one of the few intelligent shows on tv! he’s funny, and a drug addict and outrageously insolent which gets my attention.
the patients are hilarious, as are his team. i love him.

hey, i just discovered babylon, and i’m liking it! they’re all copies of the original trek which tried to make sense of of the senseless…the world and people we must tolerate. which brings me to retarded. like tommycat, i use it frequently to describe pretty much everything, no relation to anything special olympics.

so much to respond to here! just getting my feet wet after my absence, bear with me. missed you all, you’re my porthole to sanity.

@flippin eck: They’re always foundlings who wind up killing their father and fucking their mother, or sister, too.

Its all part of the deranged power of myth. That chick from Indiana who baited her hootchie with treats so the dog would lick it, she was just acting out a primal myth, of course.

If ‘you’re my porthole to sanity’ is not our next Tweet, then the terrorists have won.

And if West Virginia doesn’t man up and pull this shit out, I afear that I may slip below the line.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Well, Hamlet and Lear, to name just two from among many, if they count as Renaissance; Homer inventing the subconscious in the Illiad and personifying it as gods; Quixote, madness is relative (see also Hamlet). I don’t think they were any different from us although social structures were. It’s always been difficult for the untaught mind to comprehend the reality of other people. Of course the widespread ignorance of most of europe was kind of a downer. Much like the widespread ignorance in the South today. And don’t forget China; India; the Middle East.

Marco Polo: did he go to the East or did he dream it all? A large body of opinion has him making it all up.

Artists have always been ahead of the curve and are often at their most personal when they seem to be least. Bach. Mozart.

You mention Heartbreak House Shaw’s epic poem of failure modeled on Chekov in which he predicts the smash to come. He wrote it before WW1 though it couldn’t be produced till, if I remember right, 1929 in NYC. The play is still radiantly alive and who can remember who was prime minister?

Oh. And Joseph Campbell can kiss my ass.

@Benedick: Homer inventing the subconscious in the Illiad and personifying it as gods

That spares me the trouble of looking up the reference. I knew it was an Iliad/Odyssey thing, but I’m better versed in limericks.

@Prommie: The Huh was because I couldn’t think of a racist joke regarding Morehead. Guess I’m kinda dumb that way.
“Cravin Morehead”, on the other hand, is as reflexively ingrained as “Ben Doon, and Phil McCavitty”

BSG geeks: Thanks for the discussion. When I called it “war porn,” I was referring to the fact that the show, as far as I had seen at that point, consisted entirely of, well, war. Humans shooting up Cylons. Cylons shooting up humans. Tense humans talking about war. Sexy humans being the enemy. Bleakness and blight and desolation. Random killing.

Apparently, I’m wired different from everyone else. That kind of shit doesn’t turn me on, and it doesn’t inspire me to want to keep watching.

For instance, I watched a youtube video linked off an aviation forum, which was footage of some next-gen fighter jet doing improbable things with aerodynamics, and it made me kind of ill: the whole point was that this thing was designed to put substantial size holes in humans and/or human habitations. Gross. But all these aviation forum guys, when I mentioned this, acted like I’d just punched their mother before shitting on her face. To them, it was a glorious display of ‘Murrica’s military prowess. Oooh-rah!

Don’t we get enough killing and death in the real world? Do we really need to re-enact it in our fantasy lives? Apparently I’m just a dirty peacenik hippie. Taunt me as you will.

sorry it’s taking me so long to thank you for your kind offer to send me “flight of the conchords.” i found it on cable! we have a comedy channel that airs shows from 5 different networks. thank you, you sweet thing, you!

@IanJ: Dirty hippie! Dirty hippie! I taunt you mercilessly.

(i am also one too)

@IanJ: Don’t we get enough killing and death in the real world? Do we really need to re-enact it in our fantasy lives?

Stay away from Shakespeare and opera.

But I’ll take issue with “fantasy lives”, which appears to be the heart of the problem here. Battlegeek has pretensions to contemporary relevance, not escapism. Whether those pretensions are merited is a matter of judgment, but they’re not just blowing shit up for the sake of blowing shit up.

Although, granted, I have no problem with blowing shit up. When’s the next Transformers?

@nojo: I blame Descartes for a lot of things.

@Dodgerblue: True, but it’s always good to have a clear statement from the opposition. If Ludwig was showing the fly the way out of the flybottle, René was the flybottle.

watched a show the other night about time travel. there are serious scientists convinced this is possible and has been proven in lab experiments. apparently lasers are trained on ions which travel back a second. so it has been proven possible! we may see this in our life time! there is no paradox fucking up the present by going back…seems the key is parallel universes. fun! looking forward to not marrying a few husbands.

@baked: I’m not touching String Theory.

I like BSG, much to the derision of my wife (She Who Watches “Eastenders”).
But they sure do have some splainin to do. There are enough loose threads on BSG to knit a cardigan.

@nojo: Post o’the Day: “If Ludwig was showing the fly the way out of the flybottle, René was the flybottle.”

BTW, can you make the Santa Monica Stinqueria on April 1?

@nojo: @Benedick:

Shakespeare is considered a late Renaissance author, although has often been referred occasionally to as “the first “modern” author”, generally in reference to the works you cite.

Hamlet and Lear- they do show glimmers of the internal self, but madness was a universal signifier for being disconnected from the chain of being, and in both plays there is much more emphasis on an examination of existing social mores and the aforementioned “chain” than on the internal self. Additionally, this “internal self” is always encapsulated and defined by another character- in Hamlet’s case, Horatio, in Lear’s, the fool.

Modern production of Hamlet tends to emphasize a Freudian/internal aspect, but this is due to our filtration of the subject matter and not, in my opinion, due to any intent on the part of the author. In any case, it is hard to set up Shakespeare as exemplary of the period. He was not considered a great playwright at the time- Marlowe was thought to be the premier poet of England until the early Victorian Era, and part of his appeal is that he is able to transcend shifting cultural obsessions. Using Shakespeare as an exemplar of the period is like saying Michael Phelps is a good representative of the average swimmer of today.

I would actually need to read Don Quixhote before commenting on it, except to say that I believe it is largely considered an work of satire, which (again, in my opinion) is an art form almost completely concerned with an outside reality.

As for Homer, that’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? There is no evidence that he thought of the Gods as anything other than, well, just that. I’ve read Homer, but not much criticism of it, so if you have examples from the text I’d be interested in reading them.

You have to forgive my enthusiasm for this kind of thing…I actually wrote my master’s thesis on “Hamlet, Homosexuality, and Modernity” and I get excited when I get to show off…

Is it true that limericks are the scoundrel’s last refuge?

There now is an ex-prez in Texas
Though gone, still does he vex us
He’s got stooges galore
At The Corner and more
and they won’t ever rest till they wrecks us

If I recall correctly, Indiana “Basketball” Jones found that inscribed on an urn of Grecian Formula.

isn’t it clear humans have not evolved since recorded history? sci-fi is but a reflection of this. remember, we’re a gene away from chimps.
which brings me back full circle to my ex and future ex husbands.

nature makes mistakes, and corrects them. you know about the species of elk, now extinct because the antlers they grew to bash other elks grew so large as a survival mechanism, they couldn’t hold up their damn heads. i relate this to humans, whose brains developed before the reptilian brain stem had a chance to atrophy. we’re doomed as a species, just like those elks for the same reason. and now i shall bid you all goodnight and take my cheerful unevolved self to bed.

@Dodgerblue: Love to, but weeknights pose a logistical problem. The 405 would chew me up and spit me out if I attempted late-afternoon travel from here.

@baked: we have a comedy channel that airs shows from 5 different networks. Yeah, but how many of them are Sheki Green and Zero Mostel laugh-offs?

I keed, I keed. I’m totally with ya on House, baked. That show has everything you’d want.

@baked: @nojo:

I’m not touching String Theory. – noj

Talk to me. This moniker didn’t come out of a zero point energy uncertain Hesenberg field Casimir effect ya know.

Net.. net. Time travel is bullshit, but the parallel universes are real. But do be careful with them. I’ve been here for a while, and cannot figure out how to get home.

OK, I’m going to let it all out here. I have been a scifi fan for over 45 years. I love scifi. I also love BSG, but, with all its plusses, there is only one reason I love the show: Starbuck. That is all.

Sexual selection is what produces the most bizarre traits, not competition from predators or prey, competition to get chicks, this has brought us the Peacock’s tail, the large horns, and the Porsche and Rolex. You always have to remember the special instance of natural selection that is sexual selection, the competition within the species for mates.

I beg your pardon for the length of this. Plus it’s sort of a private conversation but I never remember who anyone is in the place that shall be nameless. Everyone else pay no attention:

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: OK, well patience now, and remember that I have no education and so my point of view will be very different from yours. At least as far as Shakes is concerned.

Shakes would not have been able to articulate the idea of the subconscious mind but he was perfectly well aware that we do things that are to all intents and purposes inexplicable. The Scottish play is all about this; Lear’s daughters, etc. And in Hamlet, of course, Claudius says “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below/Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” So he’s aware of more going on than meets the eye. When you act the plays, and you’re not the poor stupe playing Demetrius, you’re very aware of intention and self-awareness on the part of the characters. You can’t have wit, it seems to me, without it – and he wrote some of the wittiest characters ever created for the stage; Benedick and Beatrice, for example. I think his people have far more than a mere glimmer. As to the madness, yes he uses it in a literary manner. But then he trumps it by allowing his characters to understand the world when they are mad in a way that they never have when sane. In Lear he doubles this by letting his new understanding drive Lear truly mad. I think it’s interesting that only the noble characters are allowed this madness; when Malvolio is thought to be insane he is treated with a savagery we find unpleasant today. (It’s very tough to bring off that scene in 12th Night in which he is imprisoned and tortured without completely losing the audience)

I don’t really understand what you mean by the characters not being aware. Perhaps this has to do with the difference in our point of view. As I see it Hamlet’s obstacle is his very awareness and his mistrust of his own motives. It’s only when events propel him beyond thought that he can act decisively. At which point, of course, everybody dies. What you refer to as encapsulation seems to me to be the old playwrighting trick of adding roundness to a character by allowing the other characters to talk about him or her. It gives an illusion of solidity. In Hamlet’s case it’s important because we only see him in the play after the catastrophe of his father’s death and mother’s remarriage. We don’t see him as the vibrant young man he was. We only have Horatio’s word for it.

Of course he wrote within the stage conventions of his time but I don’t think that rules out an awareness of the subconscious. That’s what talent does. Tolstoy had no idea of the subconscious yet in the death of Anna he creates an extraordinary stream-of-consciousness. If Shakes was not creating subtext his plays would not be actable. Certainly they would not have held the stage all these years. And the chief reason they have held the stage is that actors want to act them. Remember these are plays. What is on the page is only part of it. The playwright, if he or she is any good, must leave room for the actor. They only come completely alive during performance.

Marlowe was a university man so he had the elite on his side. But his plays now are seldom acted because they don’t have the same appeal. Plus, Shakes lived so much longer than Kit M, and wrote so much more. No one had the range and scope of Shakes. And I think his contemporaries were aware of that. Shakes was surrounded by fine writers as they pretty much invented English. No one works in a vacuum and I’m sure that the competition between the companies spurred them all on. He wasn’t alone. Other writers were creating characters who could think and act and change. Like them, Shakes wrote for a specific company of actors working in a particular theatre. After the theatres re-opened everything was different. But his plays held the stage. Or some of them did. R&J, The Dream (Pepys complained bitterly about having to go and watch it). Othello. Not always in his version but his work is so compendious it can survive all kinds of treatment. I don’t think he was a Victorian invention at all. Actors have always loved him and regarded his great ones as the yardstick by which they are measured; Richard 3, 2, Hamlet, Mercutio, Portia, Lady M, etc. And that simply can’t happen unless the characters have a subconscious life. Not perhaps in the Freudian sense, but it’s there. The moment in Hamlet when he has the opportunity to kill Claudius, for example, and chooses not to is one of extraordinary complexity. What Hamlet says he’s doing is only a clue to what’s going on. The fact that it is open to interpretation – even though that interpretation might bewilder the author – is a testament to his talent. Artists have always done that. That’s what they do. They make us understand what it is to be human.

And I think that was true throughout our history though it is expressed in different ways in different times. The satire of Quixote has been entirely beached by time but the human story lives on. It’s not a particularly easy book but what lasts is its vision of a man living in his own world trying to impose that world on the real world that surounds him. I daresay that wasn’t the author’s intention but we must allow the writer to have a subconscious too.

I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all about Illiad. The war in heaven is acted out by mortals because the gods are not permitted to kill each other. So the warriors find themselves caught up in a struggle that has no logical reason for being – they all know that Helen’s abduction is a poor reason to die – but they are powerless to stop. so when Ajax meets Whoever, Athena and Poseidon are there by their side. And its the antagonism between the gods that the mortals act out and die for. I find it a very compelling poetic dramatization of an interior world. Was it his intention (if it was a him writing)? Of course not. His talent enriched the old story.

And pardon me, but I thought we homos didn’t exist till 1876. (Is that the date the word was coined? It coincides with the opening of the Goodspeed Opera House. I’m not saying that queerdom began there but it’s a hell of a coincidence, don’t you think?) You think there are any homos in Shakes? I don’t. But then, you were writing in an academic setting. So it’s different.

I’m haunted memories of English Lit.

It will take me a while to work my way through your essay. When you speak of drama, my head reels and makes me realize I have lot to learn if I want to get my head around ritting fikshun.

@Benedick: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: OK, I for one am fascinated by this discussion, and wish I were more qualified to participate. It’s like seeing a “Letters to the Editor” argument in the MLA journal happen in compressed time.
Tommcatt, I’m a little unsure of how you’re defining internal vs.external world, and awareness of self, but I do have a question. Thomas Kyd, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, uses the device of feigned madness in his play, written around 1580, The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Againe. Doesn’t feigning madness, in order to manipulate others, require some degree of self awareness or compartmentalization? Apologies if I have completely misunderstood your argument; my work on a master’s in lit derailed when I realized I really just wanted to read the books. More than one prof has called me superficial.
@Benedick: I find the actor’s point of view extremely interesting; it’s something that was missing from — and would have greatly added to — my classes in Shakespearean and Greek drama. I wish high schools, in particular, would bring in actors to talk to their classes about the plays they are studying. As it is, kids are lucky if they get to see a film of the play, much less get to see it performed live.

@Mistress Cynica: I know nothing about the Greeks. Never acted them and don’t feel much connection. The Elizabethans are, of course, the foundation on which English theatre is built with Shakes looming large. Though we don’t have an unbroken line to him as the French do with Moliere, I feel pretty sure that some spendthrift lout was making the same gesture on “chink to see through with mine eye,” while playing Thisbe as was done in the most recent incarnation of the Dream at the RSC. Which I, for one, find comforting. In my younger, hunky days I was never much good at being noble. It makes me self-conscious and my ears go red which makes me giggle. I was once spectacularly bad as Lorenzo in Merchant. I would get helpless with laughter when I was supposed to fall asleep and make poor Jessica bounce up and down on my chest.

It’s not easy to read a play because so much cannot be put on paper. Nor should it be. It takes a certain amount of practice. Shaw tried to get around this with his very detailed, novelistic stage directions. But even so it’s difficult to explain why Eliza’s “Not bloody likely,” is quite as funny as it is. With older plays – and Shakes, of course, didn’t write stage directions or divide the plays into scenes and acts – it gets more difficult. I’ve done a lot of schools’ matinees in my time, it’s a pity that all children can’t get to see the plays performed. It changes entirely one’s perception of them.

You cats are awesome.

/retreats to Metallica channel on Sirius, light house cleaning and yard work before tackling memo later

@Benedick: I enjoy the Greeks because there are such great roles for women (of course, all acted by men at the time, but still). Medea, Antigone, Electra. My one attempt at “writing” a “play” was an exercise I did for a Greek drama class — a comedy with the various Greek tragic heroines in a modern group therapy session. Medea wasn’t listening to anyone’s victim whining. She was always my favorite.

@Mistress Cynica: I just don’t know how you act em. Of course, Shakes’s women were played by boys. I made my debut as Cordelia in a yellow blond wig with a very long plait over my left shoulder.

@redmanlaw: Stinque ditto

/slinks away for a deserved nap after opening day of little league, a burger lunch with the kids apres sport, and a visit to the local animal shelter for a little “what if…?” in advance of ms. nabisco’s birthday.

People, people…! You are all (mostly) lawyers and such as. Think your most totally fabulous case evah! This is no different. We are all apprentices. It’s a skillset. You learn it and pass it on. No big deal.

In my case it’s how to avoid a downstage turn. And how to breathe to get to the end of the line. In your case it’s all about how to make the world a better place. I congratulate you.

@redmanlaw: @Nabisco: Right?

@Benedick: I, sir, am most definitely not a lawyer. And I call duel on he who charges me so.

*stamps foot*

@Nabisco: I meant lawyer NOT in the pejorative sense. But in the.. nice… sense. You know, like in the… um…

@Benedick: In the Atticus Finch sense, you mean to say.

Don’t Aesops fables contain descriptions of internal though processes, internal monologues? They some of them are about tricks, to trick someone, don’t you have to understand that there is a difference between reality and what the victim of the trick perceives as reality?

Whats happening now is a kind of deliberate pyschosis, people choose to reject reality and embrace fantasy.

@Benedick: I have to say, and this is probably anathema, but the problem with kids, and by that I mean college students and everyone whose vocabulary is on the 5th grade level, simply don’t understand the language. If they did, they would thrill at how witty it is, the great puns, the soaring beauty of the serious rhetoric.

I am in favor if translating shakespeare. Putting it in the modern vernacular equivalent. Just as a learning aid. Then maybe the interest will be there to get them involved enough to learn the vocabulary.

@Promnight: Charles and Mary Lamb (19th century sibling writers and nutcases–long story) are way ahead of you. Their “Tales from Shakespeare” was my first introduction to the plays. Basically, they retell the story in prose that is easy to understand so you know the plot line before you see the play. That way you don’t have to try to figure out what is going on when you first see the play, and can concentrate more on the language. It’s also easier to get things when you see it instead of reading it, because of what the actors communicate in non-verbal ways. Same thing (for me, anyway) with opera. If I know the story, I can enjoy the production even though it’s in another language.

@Benedick: I wholeheartedly agree with your comments here regarding Wm Shakesp.
Much of the discussion that is to the contrary seems to rest on the assertions of Julian Jaynes. I did finally read all of his seminal work (over 30 years after beginning the task). It is a very sloppy and uneven piece, although it makes some very interesting points. Those points don’t seem to hold past the Greeks, to my mind. We’ll leave the “Dark Ages” out of this, because practically everyone from the Bosporus to Ireland was apparently a fucking idiot between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance.
I think that the question of whether there is self-awareness in Homer can be argued both ways, and, interestingly to me, both are valid. I can accept that the actions of the principals show a complete lack of self-knowledge, but I am convinced that “Homer” understood this, and thus was self-aware. Jaynes does not seem to make this distinction in the edition I have of The Origin, etc, and it is a big hole in his argument, which thus pushes self-awareness back well before there even was an English language.
I might be wrong here, and welcome correction.

@Mistress Cynica: The Santa Fe Opera has subtitles on the chairback in front of you, so you can follow the story. It’s way cool.

Worked my ass off in the yard, cleaned the house and the yard, did the wash, shopped for groceries, picked up my grill at the office and now it’s time to work on my memo. I could really use a martini. Fucking Lent.

@Promnight: I am in favor if translating shakespeare
What’s to translate? I never could understand how anyone would have problems with the language of his plays.

@redmanlaw: I had to get out the blowbag and screw it to the hose, then work my way from house to street blowing the clog out of the sewage drain pipe. Shitty fun.

@Promnight: Darling, no. Style is content. You can’t lessen the language of Shakes without making him trash. I defy any any teen to watch R&J be acted and not be reduced to pulp. He is the most accessible, most human writer:

Dost thou think because thou
art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?

@Ewalda: Reminds me of this med malpractice cases I read involving a stuffed colon blowing up in surgery. We had a cracked pipe that roots would grow into if we didn’t throw supertoxic root deth in every three months or so. Finally got it relined. It was either that or get my own motorized 100′ snake. Joys of home ownership. That and the gangstas in the rent house around the corner.

@Promnight: I’ve never read Shakespeare without footnotes to explain all the things I’m not smart/learned enough to comprehend, and can’t imagine enjoying a watered-down version very much. The language is paramount.

@redmanlaw: I had my whole sewer line replaced from house to street 6 years ago. $$$. It took 3 years for roots to once again invade the line. What’s worse is that the city would not allow me to go past my prop line, and there is a large tree that has roots which periodically block my line right where it joins the main sewer beneath the street. Every year or so I have to call the city to come out and send the blades down to chop away the obstruction. They do it for free, but it is an annoyance.

I just reread this whole thread. Good lord. Classic Stinque.

@mellbell: @redmanlaw: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

And break my heart.

And sewer lines. He can contain it all.

@Benedick: Thanks. I like that. It’s a good send off to the night shift.

@mellbell: Used to get me into trouble in HS. The teacher would ask “Can you translate what Shakesp is saying here?” And I would reply that s/he was asking a stupid question, the words needed no further explanation.

Damn. Now I think I’ll read The Tempest and go to sleep.
Hmmm. Harrison or Kittredge? Shakesp geeks will know that is essentially a Mason/Dixon line question: Harrison in the North, Kittredge in the South.
Each has its charms, but I was raised on G B Harrison.

@Ewalda: Footnote on Jaynes: I use him as a point of inspiration, rather than clutching him chapter & verse. It was enough when I read him that he dislodged me from a few fundamental Cartesian presumptions; after that, I was on my own.

Not that I would have known what “Cartesian” meant in those pre-philosophy days. The question driving me at that moment was this: If God doesn’t exist, how and why did we invent him? Evil Cabal didn’t satisfy me as an answer, nor did Metaphysical Explanation for Natural Phenomena.

Jaynes provided a speculative answer, which you could take or leave, but his attempt to couch it in the evolution of consciousness struck me as the right approach, or at least the kind of right approach. I found it comparable in spirit to Punctuated Equilibrium: Gould, instead of looking for missing links, decided to base his theory on the facts at hand. And Jaynes was asking, what if we took all those accounts of voices and visions at their word?

Jaynes remains necessarily speculative — there’s nothing to disprove. But I still like his core insight, which for me leads directly to The World as I found it.

God, this thread is fascinating and so incredibly out of my realm of expertise. I must agree with mellbell that I had an incredibly difficult time reading Shakespeare. But reading comprehension has never really been my thing to say the least. I was always much better at rote memorization, and that is how I got through school. I had read the poem ‘The Raven’ before and never really ‘got it’ until they acted it out on one of The Simpsons Treehouse of Terror episodes and it made some much sense that I I went back and read it over and over until I was finding new things. And just for fun I memorized the first 14 stanzas. I am weird.

@homofascist: I still can’t read Shakespeare, and this pretense that an ancient dialect passes for “English” won’t wash. Four centuries is a long time for language to evolve.

But I will grant this: sit me as a teenager in the audience for a National Theatre production of Measure for Measure, and I’ll do fine. What can be impenetrable on the page for modern eyes can make perfect (or at least sufficient) sense to modern ears. Shakespeare wrote for performance, not lit majors.

@homofascist: Fun and completely irrelevant trivia: UVa has turned Poe’s former dorm room into a shrine of sorts, furnished as it would have been at the time they kicked him out, complete with a stuffed raven perched in the window. Southern Gothic at its finest.

@nojo: That’s exactly right. I think he barely wrote the plays down himself. I suspect a lot of the comic parts were improvised by the actors. I suspect a lot of the prose was likewise improvised. Some of it was then tricked out as poetry and some left as is. But I do believe he taught it directly to the actors whenever possible. I don’t know if that’s a widely held view or if I just made it up.

I think my favorite line he ever wrote (allowing for whatever ‘input’ from whoever first played the part) is in Love’s Labours after the dreaded ‘play-within-a-play’ – which is actualy pretty funny in this case – the shyest of the amateur actors who had been cast as Alexander the Great is too intimidated by the gentry to be able to speak and has to taken off the stage. While excusing him to the nobles, and to ingratiate himself with them, Costard says of him:

He’s a marvelous neighbor, faith, and a very good bowler. But, for Sir Alisander, well you see how ’tis. A little o’er parted.

There is so much wonderful writing in that simple-seeming line that I have considered having it tattooed on my forehead.

@Benedick: See, I got more out of that 1978 trip than JC Superstar. If it’s good enough for the groundlings, it’s good enough for me.

@Prommie: @Benedick: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

First, as an aside, I’d like to go on the record as strongly supporting the fragmentation/compartmentalization of different facets of identity as coping mechanism to deal with a complex and hostile environment. It is a positive good, highly recommended, and something to be encouraged. Moving on…

I find this Lit/Psych discussion fascinating, my curiosity stimulated, and am learning much. Unfortunately my ignorance of this topic knows no bounds, I am intimidated by the intellects in present company, and that dampens my enthusiasm to jump into the deep end of this pool.

However, Tommcatt’s challenge offers an easier entry point to get my toes wet and wade in:

” I’d love to see a medieval text that directly referenced an internal reality that was equal to or superseded the objective reality, if you can find one. “

Moving back from Shakes a few centuries… and papering over my ignorance with a googolian derived“bite-sized piece of data” – Do not Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale” and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” both meet this criteria? The Pardoner living in his internal reality justifying his own greed and drunkenness with the conceit that his skills as a preacher prevents these sins in others. A reality at variance – yet presented as possibly equivalent – to the external reality understood by the readers, narrator, and other characters in the tale.

Similarly the Wife of Bath whose tale and prologue is understood by some scholars to be her internal reality – a subconscious fantasy of a desire for a more matriarchal society, control over a husband, youth and sexual fulfillment competes and perhaps surpasses the external reality in which she is an elderly five time widower in a male authoritarian society.

What say you?

@Hose Manikin: I would have though so. I know very little earlier than Shakes in the English tradition. Of course part of this is to do with the fact that they didn’t have out fetish for ‘originality’. Shakes didn’t invent his plots, he got them ready made. It was what he made of them that counted. I was never so thrilled than when I read The Metamorphoses and found patches that Shakes had stolen. Medea shows up in Titania, for example. So I think that would stand in the way of an internal reality. I don’t think that was important. Though his last plays enter a dream world that I find very seductive: he writes the world as he wished it was and people the way they should be. And though it costs everyone dear, good does triumph in the end and the dead come back to life. Virtue is rewarded and wickedness punished. But this had much to do with the fact that the theatre had moved inside and so, I imagine, lighting effects were possible for the first time. He was ever the practical man of the theatre and used what was to hand. That’s a fact that tends to be forgotten when the plays are discussed.

The effect of translating to modern idiom is to recreate accurately the EMOTIONAL, as opposed to the intellectual, response. We lit majors and intellectuals can understand Shakespeare, but still, his language is not our language and in varying degrees of expertise, we are internally translating him when we read, or see, his works. This makes it a very intellectual experience, even if doing so is effortless, and its not effortless for me.

Is it really possible that your act of appreciating a shakespeare joke, or reference, is the same as that of one of his contemporaries? His references were there world, they evoked instanataneous emotional response, no thought required, where for us, we must remember the political situation then, and remember the social norms, and the politicss, and then maybe if we know all those things, we will somehow muddle through and see the glorious wit. But, really, you know that their experience is not our experience. To get that, you have to be able to visualize the appropriate modern equivalent of that joke, make about 100 accurate analogies, and then translate it into that scenario.

I mean, you need both, but only a modern translation can touch the emotional response.

I mean, was West Side Story a bad thing?

@Promnight: I really don’t think that’s true. I think anybody can watch Much Ado, for instance, and get the jokes. Some of his references are now too obscure to be understood but that’s by no means true of all. I’ve been in a production of Merry Wives that ‘translated’ the play and believe me, it was not fun. A modern audience may not understand just why Yorick’s skull has been exhumed but they will understand Hamlet’s dilemma. And when the plays are well done they still retain their power to move an audience either to tears or laughter. And is there anything wrong with having to think while at the theatre? I remember performing The Tempest for a school matinee (I was playing Trinculo) and when we got under the ‘gaberdine’ they thought it was just about the funniest thing they’d ever seen. I imagine that their response was pretty close to the audience in Shakes’s day. What they called the groundlings.

West Side is alright. But it ain’t R&J.

@Promnight: But if you change the language you lose most of the jokes. Look at any literature you’ve read in translation. Puns (one of Shakes’ faves) are difficult if not impossible to translate. Have you ever read a work in the language in which it was written and also in English translation? You lose so much, even if the literal meaning is clear. I’ve read Virgil in both Latin and English, and let me tell you, it ain’t the same at all. I’ve read Proust and Dante in translation only, and half the footnotes alert you to a clever joke or figure of speech that couldn’t be translated. Even a really good translation is put a pale shadow of the original. Think about the poetry of Shakes’ language. By changing it you lose the meter–which you may only be aware of at a subconscious level–you lose the music of it all. And the very idea that we should dumb down the material rather than lift the audience to its level is just offensive to me as an intellectual snob.

@Mistress Cynica:
Pushkin. I wish I knew Russian, so I could understand what the fuss is all about.

@redmanlaw: The Vienna State Opera house has these nifty little red LED displays on seat backs and the balcony sills that scroll up the lyrics – with translation in language of your choice.

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