Why Study Literature?

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Aedes
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 07:06 pm
@Subjectivity9,
Subjectivity9;100550 wrote:
Let us remember, (shall we?), that Shakespeare was entertaining the same type of crowd that pretty much tunes into Oprah on the TV today. I don't think that everyone alive today is necessarily an emotional "drama queen" along with her mate and friends.
He had a mixed audience including none other than Queen Elizabeth I who was his biggest fan and patron -- he wasn't exactly going for pulp.

Subjectivity9;100550 wrote:
I am guessing many of his archetypal character descend directly down from the old Greek plays, where they also were trying to please the crowds, (AKA the man on the street).
Shakespeare is usually openly distinguished from the Green dramatists, actually, in part because of how much more nuanced his characters were. In fact some of his more 'opaque' characters like Coriolanus are particularly derided for their similarity to Greek characters. Shakespeare gives us his characters' thoughts by the unprecedented and masterful use of soliloquy, and his dialogues are incomparably taut and witty. Rather few of his characters fit a Greek archetype, certainly in his better plays (and he wrote 38 plays that have survived). Deeply tragic characters like Lear and Othello, treacherous characters like Richard III and Iago, conflicted characters like Hamlet, crafty characters like Oberon, and ridiculous characters like Falstaff are beyond any archetype.

Subjectivity9;100550 wrote:
Not all literature needs to include character development, although it certainly adds a richness if done right, and not (God help us) over done. Some literature can simply tell a darn good story. In other words, the events themselves can take center stage.
But there's something always missing if it lacks character development. It is the one thing that's horribly missing from Dickens. Dickens was one of the greatest of all story tellers, absolutely lurid and fantastic in his imagination and writing, and produced some of the most memorable characters in all literature. But the problem is that the characters don't change in the slightest through his books, they're cardboard cutouts, they repeat themselves, they don't grow. Even the title character of his masterwork David Copperfield doesn't really change, he just passes through as things change around him.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 07:22 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;100574 wrote:
Dickens was one of the greatest of all story tellers, absolutely lurid and fantastic in his imagination and writing, and produced some of the most memorable characters in all literature. But the problem is that the characters don't change in the slightest through his books, they're cardboard cutouts, they repeat themselves, they don't grow. Even the title character of his masterwork David Copperfield doesn't really change, he just passes through as things change around him.


Perhaps this is a point he was trying to make-- people, many times, don't truly grow and change, but they wander through life in stagnation. Maybe this is a less hopeful way of viewing individuals, but more realistic. I sometimes think that stories with characters that all grow and change dramatically throughout the story are more fantastical than realistic...
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 08:17 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;100460 wrote:
Wow, I have the complete opposite opinion about this, for a couple reasons. (In summary, I believe there IS a problem with sci fi, but it's the opposite of what you describe as the problem).

First, having read the entire complete works of shakespeare over the last 3 or 4 months, what's abundantly clear to me is that 400 years ago, during the life of Shakespeare, people's obsessions, loves, hates, inclinations, hesitations, and basic 'human nature' were no different at all than they are right now. Go back farther -- look at the story of Job from the Bible -- this is a character than anyone in today's world, 2500 or 3000 years later, can instantly identify with. So why should this not be the same 500 or 1000 years from now?

Second, I was once reading a review of a sci fi novel in the NY Times Book Review, and the reviewer made an extremely poignant comment about sci fi. The reviewer said that fundamentally the problem with science fiction is that it's about the premise and not about the characters. This is probably even more true for fantasy novels, because the archetypes are better established.

In my opinion the best sci fi novels expound on human nature -- they put complex humans into situations in which their psychology, their motivations, and their personalities propel the action. Ender's Game is a great example of this. On the other hand, a novel like Dune, like Lord of the Rings, is impressive and lurid because of the highly ornate and imaginative setting and exceptional language, but these works suffer because the characters are types. They're stuck in their molds, they hardly change.

Is it plausible or implausible that humans should have changed in the future?

Doesn't matter -- the book is being written for us and our current understanding of humans. As they say, ghost stories aren't written for ghosts...

I think it does the same thing as Aristotle talked about in poetics, that as subjects for drama we seek the rich and the powerful because we find their lives more interesting..We crave the pathos of distance.... Well we expect as much from the future, that it will make humanity powerful in comparison... The fact is that we could already be in the future if we could learn again to manage society with justice so we could have peace...It is the rich and powerful that we find so interesting that are holding us back, in a psychological childhood for humanity... But then, if humanity could progress there would be little need for drama to help correct our behavior and give a moral lesson...

---------- Post added 10-29-2009 at 10:34 PM ----------

Pangloss;100576 wrote:
Perhaps this is a point he was trying to make-- people, many times, don't truly grow and change, but they wander through life in stagnation. Maybe this is a less hopeful way of viewing individuals, but more realistic. I sometimes think that stories with characters that all grow and change dramatically throughout the story are more fantastical than realistic...

Look at the Illiad, and much of Greek Drama... I like the Orestia, but the whole bunch of them move like puppets on a string...Clytaemnestra, Cassandra, Agamamenon, Electra, Orestes, and even the Chorus cannot ever break free from their formal behavior... Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter... She was not of his clan, and so his wife had to avenge her death... She manipulated him, made him think himself as great as a God, so he went unwashed into the sanctuary... He must die, but to kill him there was sacrilage, and so it was, that Electra was married to a commoner because as the child of a criminal she had no status... Orestes went to retrieve his family honor, which was his standing in the community, in the only way he could, by becoming an outcast himself, rubbing away one spot of guilt only to find another...Those people were locked in to the forms much more than we are... Action called for inevitable reaction... Everywhere people were the victims of fate, and it was because all accepted this explanation for the twists and turns of life...It is that which we should have progressed beyond, but when the whole country engages in unreasonable behavior and then prays for good fortune, or hopes for good luck you can see that we are not growing out of our forms... The failures of our present forms of relationship to guide us to happiness is driving us back into older forms, darker forms, forms that have grown out of ignorance...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 29 Oct, 2009 09:12 pm
@Fido,
Pangloss;100576 wrote:
I sometimes think that stories with characters that all grow and change dramatically throughout the story are more fantastical than realistic...
No one ever said it has to be dramatic. Overdoing it is melodrama. But it's a higher level of plot development if things happen because of decisions characters make, not because of some deus ex machina or an act of god. And characters need to have thought processes, they need to think, consider, evolve, be conflicted, even be irrational or self-contradictory.

Think of some of the best characters that are like this. Hamlet; Alyosha Karamazov; Levin (from Anna Karenina).

Ahab from Moby Dick is a great character. He doesn't change at all, but what makes him great is that he's tortured, he's irrational, and he knows it. He's willing to bring the entire universe down with him.

Fido;100580 wrote:
I think it does the same thing as Aristotle talked about in poetics, that as subjects for drama we seek the rich and the powerful because we find their lives more interesting..We crave the pathos of distance....
Then how can you explain Les Miserables, one of the most popular novels ever written, which is specifically about the most wretched impoverished people and criminals? How do you explain many of Dostoyevsky's characters? How do you explain nearly all of Charles Dickens' works? How do you explain Mark Twain's works? There are no rich and powerful, or at least very little. Huck Finn, Raskolnikov, Jean Valjean, Oliver Twist, these are not rich and powerful heroes.

Fido;100580 wrote:
Well we expect as much from the future, that it will make humanity powerful in comparison... The fact is that we could already be in the future if we could learn again to manage society with justice so we could have peace...It is the rich and powerful that we find so interesting that are holding us back, in a psychological childhood for humanity...
The rich and the powerful are simply a distillation of the rest of us. With science fiction people mainly are writing grand epics, and for this reason many of the characters are powerful plot-moving heroes, the futuristic Paris and Achilles and Priam and Agammemnon... But it needn't be so.

Fido;100580 wrote:
Look at the Illiad, and much of Greek Drama... I like the Orestia, but the whole bunch of them move like puppets on a string...
Yup. Greek drama and epics are truly wonderful, but no character from that era is haunted like MacBeth, is self-destructive like Lear, has the pathos and hurt of Othello, seethes like Hamlet, or broods like Richard III.
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 07:06 am
@Kooker,
Aedes,

Many of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays were obviously mentally ill, and totally self-involved; take Othello and Hamlet for instance. If they were one of your personal friends, you would probably say to them, “Oh, get off it.”

The use of complicated and colorful emotions is not necessarily the same thing as depth of perception.

Or as Shakespeare so rightly put it, “…sound and fury signifying nothing.”


S9

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 09:32 AM ----------

GoshisDead,

Some of the writer’s that are considered to have written ‘classics works,’ in previous eras, could not sell their stuff on the open market today, if it didn’t have the seal of approval from academia. I am not saying that it has no worth, but that it just doesn’t speak to the general public from where they live right now.

But then, perhaps to be fair, some of our greatest novelist and their works today would have been little understood in previous times.

Maybe these works do not time travel well.

S9

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 09:53 AM ----------

Pangloss,

I think that the ability to see your self and our circumstances clearly, (esp. if it isn't good), came under the category of tragedy.

Whereas, an inability to either understand your circumstances, understand your self, or to do anything meaningful about it, was considered to be pathos.

It was pretty much understood in the ancient times of the Greeks, that the common run of man was pathetic. I think that Dickens, like you have said, saw this only too clearly.

To expect the common man to change drastically for the good certainly comes awfully close to expecting “a cow to jump over the moon”,not that it doesn’t happen on rare, and exceptional occasions.

S9

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 10:19 AM ----------

Fido

I believe that the reason that people find the rich and powerful (politicians and movie stars) so interesting, and try to align themselves with them, is because these people in the limelight seem to have bigger lives (in quantity) than we do in our own daily drudgery. Perhaps, that is true if we simply skim along the surface of life, get caught up in the smoke and mirrors displayed in other lives, and do not know how to actually dig deeper into our own lives and thereby find the quality therein.

Certainly, pathos/tragedy is more fun/entertaining from a distance, or why would anyone 'in their right mind' go out and rent a movie about a train wreck?

For most of us, unfortunately, the only way to feel any power or good fortune is through comparison. We look at some poor slob and think, “It could always be worse.” As sad as this is, it does bring some relief from our own lot in life. Literature can fill this need, also.

A hungry man may find a stale piece of bread, delicious.

S9

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 10:28 AM ----------

hue-man,

A professional linguist once told me that it is commonly accepted these days that we are genetically predisposed to language. So maybe thinking and language show up together like what the Buddhist call, “Co-dependent Arising.” This would be similar to heads and tails being on one coin.

S9
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 11:52 am
@Subjectivity9,
Sub:
Stephen King is already being taught in serious university lit classes. In 100 years It is likely that He, Dan brown etc... will be considered classic lit and people like Coelho etc... may have become a tiny footnote.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 12:37 pm
@Subjectivity9,
Subjectivity9;100627 wrote:
Many of the characters in Shakespeare's plays were obviously mentally ill, and totally self-involved; take Othello and Hamlet for instance. If they were one of your personal friends, you would probably say to them, "Oh, get off it."
Hamlet was not mentally ill at all. He intentionally fakes being mentally ill in front of everyone. Ophelia was mentally ill, but definitely not Hamlet. Othello wasn't mentally ill either, he was gullible and manipulated. Lady MacBeth was mentally ill, MacBeth himself went mad, Lear was maybe mad but he was predominantly stodgy and incorrigible. In fact I'm having a hard time thinking of a major tragic character in Shakespeare who was truly mad. Romeo and Juliet were stupid impetuous adolescents. The characters from the histories were Machiavellian and treacherous at their worst, heroic at their best.

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 02:39 PM ----------

GoshisDead;100679 wrote:
Sub:
Stephen King is already being taught in serious university lit classes. In 100 years It is likely that He, Dan brown etc... will be considered classic lit and people like Coelho etc... may have become a tiny footnote.
Stephen King's "On Writing" is one of the greatest works about the craft of fiction writing to come out at least in the last 50 years. It's truly outstanding. It's better than any of his fiction.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 02:23 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:

Aedes;100583 wrote:
No one ever said it has to be dramatic. Overdoing it is melodrama. But it's a higher level of plot development if things happen because of decisions characters make, not because of some deus ex machina or an act of god. And characters need to have thought processes, they need to think, consider, evolve, be conflicted, even be irrational or self-contradictory.

Think of some of the best characters that are like this. Hamlet; Alyosha Karamazov; Levin (from Anna Karenina).

Ahab from Moby Dick is a great character. He doesn't change at all, but what makes him great is that he's tortured, he's irrational, and he knows it. He's willing to bring the entire universe down with him.
From my understanding, the types of anti heroes are thus: Those who do what they do not knowing what they do -who accept the consequences... Those who do what they do knowing what they do, and then try to avoid the consequences, and those who are not really human, but are god like: Achilles, and Promaethius... When Achilles was warned that his death would follow hus revenge, he said: Prepare me for my death... Ahab was no less than these...It make one wonder which leg got chewed off...

Quote:
Then how can you explain Les Miserables, one of the most popular novels ever written, which is specifically about the most wretched impoverished people and criminals? How do you explain many of Dostoyevsky's characters? How do you explain nearly all of Charles Dickens' works? How do you explain Mark Twain's works? There are no rich and powerful, or at least very little. Huck Finn, Raskolnikov, Jean Valjean, Oliver Twist, these are not rich and powerful heroes.
I do not hope to explain exceptions... As the people have grown more powerful drama has become more democratic... Look at the art of the French during the revolution... One went easily from classical scenes of the Romans to dead letters in a bath tub... On the whole, the poor are a subject of comedy, and the rich are a subject of tragedy... Look at the formal art of Shakespeare...There were no low borns except the occasianal dwarf...If the artist in more democratic times believes all wisdom resides with the people is it so strange when the occasional one believes all evil resides there ???...

Quote:

The rich and the powerful are simply a distillation of the rest of us. With science fiction people mainly are writing grand epics, and for this reason many of the characters are powerful plot-moving heroes, the futuristic Paris and Achilles and Priam and Agammemnon... But it needn't be so.

Yup. Greek drama and epics are truly wonderful, but no character from that era is haunted like MacBeth, is self-destructive like Lear, has the pathos and hurt of Othello, seethes like Hamlet, or broods like Richard III
.
Not true... The rich are rich because they wish to set themselves apart...The reason we focus on them is that we all think we are noble, honorable people removed by fate from real choice in our lives...But choice often brings down the great...
The future is seen as offering all power and choice to all... In that sense, the distance between winner and also ran narrows...

---------- Post added 10-30-2009 at 04:38 PM ----------

Aedes;100683 wrote:
Hamlet was not mentally ill at all. He intentionally fakes being mentally ill in front of everyone. Ophelia was mentally ill, but definitely not Hamlet. Othello wasn't mentally ill either, he was gullible and manipulated. Lady MacBeth was mentally ill, MacBeth himself went mad, Lear was maybe mad but he was predominantly stodgy and incorrigible. In fact I'm having a hard time thinking of a major tragic character in Shakespeare who was truly mad. Romeo and Juliet were stupid impetuous adolescents. The characters from the histories were Machiavellian and treacherous at their worst, heroic at their best.


Othelo shows to what extent men depend upon women for their honor, and gives a hint of how that story often played out... Romeo and Juliet show a transitional stage of Western civilization, when law was taking over, and the defense of honor was forbidden...It seems as though Nietzsch makes some comment about the first contracts between people, but though his words cannot be brought to mind, let me suggest that he was wrong, and the first of contracts was the peace treaties of marriage... Abraham gives a hint what was on the line when he said place your hand under my thigh... He was swearing an oath on his testicles, and whether the junk gets its name from the oath, or the oath gets its name from the junk is immaterial...As the Merchant of Venice shows, people swore in this fashion into nearly modern time, and when money mad Shylock demanded his pound of flesh, no one of that time doubted which pound was refered to...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 07:20 pm
@Fido,
Fido;100699 wrote:
Not true... The rich are rich because they wish to set themselves apart...
So you're redefining "rich" to suit your argument, then. We're interested in the "rich" and "powerful", where "rich" can apply to Fantine who has to sell her hair and teeth and then dies of tuberculosis, and powerful can apply to Oliver Twist who is imprisoned in an orphanage for asking for food. So long as "rich and powerful" are meaningful terms, your argument just doesn't stand. If any main character in any story is by definition rich and powerful, then you've deprived the terms of any meaning whatsoever.

The reason we focus on them is that we all think we are noble, honorable people removed by fate from real choice in our lives...But choice often brings down the great...

Fido;100699 wrote:
Othello shows to what extent men depend upon women for their honor
Hmm, I must have missed that theme all four times I've read the play. Seemed to me that Othello and Desdemona were madly in love, but Iago convinced Othello that Desdemona was unfaithful. The character of Othello, just as the character of Timon of Athens, of Lear, and of Coriolanus, show us rashness.

Fido;100699 wrote:
Romeo and Juliet show a transitional stage of Western civilization, when law was taking over, and the defense of honor was forbidden...
Romeo and Juliet, quite plainly, is a play about the self-destructiveness of melodramatic, impetuous adolescents. Even the elder Capulets and Montagues are willing to bridge the feud between families for the sake of the youngsters. Juliet is 13 years old in the play, it's mentioned several times, her nurse keeps trying to make the romance work, Romeo's father chides him for how fleeting love is to someone his age, then Romeo has to go lash out and kill Tybalt and screw everything up, then the two of them hatch some completely unrealistic plan to elope and they die in the process. It's not about honor, it's about teenage angst.

Fido;100699 wrote:
when money mad Shylock demanded his pound of flesh, no one of that time doubted which pound was refered to...
Are you sure? As Shylock says:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

Shylock compares flesh to flesh to illustrate the injustice he has felt. The flesh he demands is literal, but it's in exchange for metaphorical flesh he's already yielded (and ultimately yields in his daughter and in his religion).
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 09:56 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:

Aedes;100728 wrote:
So you're redefining "rich" to suit your argument, then. We're interested in the "rich" and "powerful", where "rich" can apply to Fantine who has to sell her hair and teeth and then dies of tuberculosis, and powerful can apply to Oliver Twist who is imprisoned in an orphanage for asking for food. So long as "rich and powerful" are meaningful terms, your argument just doesn't stand. If any main character in any story is by definition rich and powerful, then you've deprived the terms of any meaning whatsoever.

The reason we focus on them is that we all think we are noble, honorable people removed by fate from real choice in our lives...But choice often brings down the great...

Hmm, I must have missed that theme all four times I've read the play. Seemed to me that Othello and Desdemona were madly in love, but Iago convinced Othello that Desdemona was unfaithful. The character of Othello, just as the character of Timon of Athens, of Lear, and of Coriolanus, show us rashness.

Certainly, rashness, but also the extent to which honor was the economy of the past...People want to be rich because wealth is the equivalent of honor, but where money is dear honor is cheap... But not in the past... Even today in many parts of the world no man considered to be without honor would be abroad...Perhaps ten years back a man killed all his daughters and a step daughter because the step daughter left her husband who put her to work in a cement plant... As his wife looked on clutching he son, the father grabbed his daughters one by one and cut their throats... His step daughter had threatened his honor which may have been his sole wealth, an essential element of his making any income... Where people are poor, they more than any others must be able to trust their neighbors, and neighbors must be honorable to be trusted...Yet; no man has to dishonor another to have honor... With money it is the opposite, that one man's gain is another's loss... We want security, but to have it at all we must take securiity from others, and people used to living that way, without security can be dangerous, living by their wits, violent...So they are not like us... They do not know the meaning of enough... Greed is a disease for individual and society alike...Listen... I do not need to defend the position...It has been a long time since I read it in Aristotle, and I am certain he was speaking of tragedy... We like to see people fall from high places until we realize that is us, how we see ourselves, no worse really, but one step removed..
Quote:

Romeo and Juliet, quite plainly, is a play about the self-destructiveness of melodramatic, impetuous adolescents. Even the elder Capulets and Montagues are willing to bridge the feud between families for the sake of the youngsters. Juliet is 13 years old in the play, it's mentioned several times, her nurse keeps trying to make the romance work, Romeo's father chides him for how fleeting love is to someone his age, then Romeo has to go lash out and kill Tybalt and screw everything up, then the two of them hatch some completely unrealistic plan to elope and they die in the process. It's not about honor, it's about teenage angst.

You should try to look a scenery as well as scene...Feud societies were quite common, and the peace was very often made with a wedding...As one of my old, and few college proffesors said: The difference between tragedy and comedy is a funeral and a wedding...Seen from the pespective of society, society is united by te exclusion of te criminal...Seen from the perspective of the individual, nothing could be worse...Athens used to take the bodies of its crimminals, and literally throw them out of the country, over the nearest border...Look at what was happening historically in Romeo and Juliet... The state was making a preogative of justice... Before the church took over society in the twelth century, when Jesus did not show up for the millenium, it also reintroduce the code of Justinian, and that required Greek philosophy to make understandable... At that point in time we have the beginning of the social contract, where weapons were surrendered, and no man could defend his honor with violence...People gave peace for the promise of justice...Obviously, defenses of honor still occured for a long time, with sword play... Cardinal Richelieu had one notorious dueler executed for fighting another successful duel right under his nose after he had forbidden the act...What could he do under the circumstances??? Well In Romeo and Juliet we see two families unablle to make peace in the traditional way, with a marriage, and the state representative is unable to compel peace from either side, and within the milieu the love story is played out...
Are you sure? As Shylock says:
Quote:


Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

Shylock compares flesh to flesh to illustrate the injustice he has felt. The flesh he demands is literal, but it's in exchange for metaphorical flesh he's already yielded (and ultimately yields in his daughter and in his religion).[/
[/QUOTE]QUOTE]
Pretty sure, Shylock made antonio swear in front of a notary, and it is unlikely that he would take less than a pledge such as he would himself give... And he referes to it as a pound of flesh as pleases him, and does it not please all??? And taken from a man??? And nearest the merchants heart, and what is nearer or dearer...Remember; Shylock had no love of Antonio, who spat at him and cursed him... What pound would you not surrender to keep your junk intact??? And what would you with a rusty knife most love to cut off of your enemies???

I must point out that such maimings as we have attempted in A Merchant of Venice were not uncommon as punishments, or to pay off an unpaid debt...Nietzsche makes much of this, but it was very recent in Europe...Before that time, it was the reverse, that feuding people demanded blood money for injuries as small as a lost finger... It was the injury that formerly caused the debt...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 30 Oct, 2009 10:03 pm
@Fido,
Fido;100744 wrote:
Certainly, rashness, but also the extent to which honor was the economy of the past...
I see Shakespeare using honor as a ticket to self-destruction, i.e. there is always a lot of irony in his use of honor. Similar to chastity/virginity in his female characters, though that seems a bit more earnest.

Fido;100744 wrote:
I do not need to defend the position...It has been a long time since I read it in Aristotle, and I am certain he was speaking of tragedy...
I can't critique Shakespeare using Aristotle's aesthetics any more than I can critique Newton using Aristotle's physics. Aristotle liked formulas and categories and balance, and he derived this from what he knew. Only one or two of Shakespeare's plays obeyed classical structure.

Fido;100744 wrote:
Pretty sure, Shylock made antonio swear in front of a notary, and it is unlikely that he would take less than a pledge such as he would himself give... And he referes to it as a pound of flesh as pleases him, and does it not please all??? And taken from a man??? And nearest the merchants heart, and what is nearer or dearer...Remember; Shylock had no love of Antonio, who spat at him and cursed him... What pound would you not surrender to keep your junk intact??? And what would you with a rusty knife most love to cut off of your enemies???
Yes, that's true, and he takes Antonio before a judge as well.

But that doesn't change a bit of what I said. Shylock is one of Shakespeare's most complex characters -- at first glance vile, but his 'hath not a Jew eyes' speech completely changes our perception of him. He is not some comic character, he's not Falstaff -- he's suffered for his difference, he makes us know he's suffered, and he uses anatomical language to highlight his persecution. That pound of flesh he demands, while literal, is counterbalanced against all the metaphorical flesh that's been cut away from him.
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 06:08 am
@Kooker,
Shylock was a scumbag, but he was correct that he was playing by the same rules he demanded others play by... What he said about not giving a sum, what was it, for a whole jungle of monkeys is a fair judgement on the lot of them in the story, and may reflect his attitude toward gentiles... We must seem like intelligent animals to them at times...
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 07:23 am
@Kooker,
Aedes,

Where do you draw the line between the totally over done, and mentally ill? You must admit, I believe, that Hamlet was one haunted fellow, beyond what you would expect of an average guy.

Now is Othello, just your average guy and yet so extremely jealous that he loses control and starts killing? Hey, who wouldn’t?

I worked in crisis intervention for a while, and believe it or not most of those people were pretty normal for the most part outside of the fact that they had one or two cracks in their behavior; like one guy shooting his wife in the head. Nicest guy you would ever want to meet, otherwise. I don’t know if his wife would have agreed with me.

Maybe that is why they sometimes call such actions, cracking up?

I think with Romeo and Juliet it was more of an example about the craziness of social customs [or is it traditions (or both)?] that try in their so called infinite wisdom, to interfer with the way that nature has planned things should/ought to go. The belief that a strong impulse like love, or an archetyple direction, can be simply rerouted out of practicality is probably wishful thinking at best.

Even if we did not consider the happiness of these two young lovers, we might want to ask, "Are we correct in our interference into the personal lives of others?"

Happiness is an individual pursuit and probably shouldn’t be taken on as a group activity, that is unless it thereby contributes to the happiness of the individual. That type of interference just complicates things, NO, probably even prohibits the possibility of finding happiness at/all.

Since the pursuit of happiness is a very strong drive, indeed... a culture that tries to stand in the way of it coming about is probably doomed to failure.

Is that sane?

S9
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 11:15 am
@Kooker,
There is no line per se, but the fact that Hamlet is pretending to be insane is one of the major parts of the plot, and if I recall correctly he even says so outright. He stages that play to spy on Claudius reaction and feigns insanity the entire time to avoid suspicion.

Othello was utterly gullible, he keeps saying "honest Iago", and eats up every ruse he offers.

And again, having just reread Romeo and Juliet, of many relevant themes the most plainly developed is adolescent impetuosity.
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 06:01 pm
@Kooker,
Aedes,

We have Hamlet talking to his dead father, and totally obsessing, not to mention the blood bath that takes place. If this same stuff were on the nightly news in our times, people would shake their heads and really wonder about this Hamlet guy. I think they might at least bring him in for observation before simply declaring a homocidal criminal.

Othello was utterly gullible it is true. He was gullible to the point of foolishness. To be that gullible, the groundwork has to be laid out in your mind beforehand and just waiting for a trigger to set it off. He was a danger to himself and others, the very definition of insane.

Youth is always impetuous, so Romeo and Juliet were as well. (Sameold/sameold) What made this a problem with a terrible outcome, were the adults in this story. Their feuding had gotten way out of hand. Perhaps this is why in the end, it was they who were held responsible. It was said outright, that the death of these young lovers was a punishment on both their houses.

S9
 
Fido
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 07:32 am
@Subjectivity9,
Subjectivity9;100924 wrote:
Aedes,

We have Hamlet talking to his dead father, and totally obsessing, not to mention the blood bath that takes place. If this same stuff were on the nightly news in our times, people would shake their heads and really wonder about this Hamlet guy. I think they might at least bring him in for observation before simply declaring a homocidal criminal.

Othello was utterly gullible it is true. He was gullible to the point of foolishness. To be that gullible, the groundwork has to be laid out in your mind beforehand and just waiting for a trigger to set it off. He was a danger to himself and others, the very definition of insane.

Youth is always impetuous, so Romeo and Juliet were as well. (Sameold/sameold) What made this a problem with a terrible outcome, were the adults in this story. Their feuding had gotten way out of hand. Perhaps this is why in the end, it was they who were held responsible. It was said outright, that the death of these young lovers was a punishment on both their houses.

S9

It was not just Hamlet father, but his honor...You could not let the blood of your own family be killed without earning dishonor... What does anyone think the who Orestian cycle was about???If your daughter is killed by your husband you kill your husband...If your mother kills your father you kill your mother....No one can escape the need for honor...The Illiad was a war of honor... Honor runs through Beowulf, and through the Nibelungenlied, and the Cu'chelain saga... Hell, Kremchild threw her own son into the mouth of vengeance... Surely the ancients were right in saying who the God would destroy they first make mad...and nothing made them so mad, so irrational, so plodding and pitiless as their desire for and defense of honor... We live in a different form of economy... You do not thrust a sword through a man's heart if you hate him, but go about ruining him and everyone he knows... Othelo had it right: Who steal my purse steals trash, and yet, in a money economy wealth, is honor...

You have to understand, when everyone is mad in the same fashion no one can be considered mad... Shakespeare in another age said we cannot accept spectral evidence, but think of how many people died in England on evidence gathered by torture, or who were condemned by the star chamber without a chance to defend themselves... People used to suffer death by pain and strength just to keep their property in their family... The whole raft of English law and tradition was built upon methods practiced to keep the weak from becoming the slaves of the strong...That was one reason trial by combat was ended... Some old lord would not stand a chance against so rash punk in a lawsuit... It was a different world, and unless you understand their milieu, you do not understand the men...
 
Subjectivity9
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 08:51 am
@Kooker,
Fido,

Different milieu, or honor, whatever you choose to call it; it is just the EGO thinly disguised. Anyone that has lost control of his ego is in for trouble, one way or the other.

It isn’t just the sharks that fall into blood lust. They say that that this ‘feeling of ultimate power,’ or the power to take another man’s life, is addicting to some (weak minded?) individuals.

Man is a social animal. I believe that is one of the things that keeps our feet on the ground, or rather keeps us from flying off into a self made madness of one sort or another. It is our ability to consider the other guy, and in this way gain some perspective.

When we become too self-obsessed, (AKA obsessed with our own thoughts and feelings and thereby disregard the thoughts and feelings of others), these tenuous threads, that keep us sane, begin to ravel and even break altogether.

I think that the whole idea of civilization was based upon cooperation, and in this fashion was meant to keep us from, all too easily, slipping into our more base and/or animal nature.

All of our present day wars, like the wars of old, are simply an extension of this foolishness, or a matrix of excuses, which we have built around our own individual and our group Egos that have gone off course.

We honor our soldiers who follow orders without question, and throw our conscientious objectors in jail. Go figure! This all goes back to our belief that there is a solution to be had with the sword, "might is right," and (lets face it) our stepping into violence/vengeance because it feels so dog-gone good and freeing.

(Impulse, like children, longs to be free.)

So many swords: so where (I ask you) is this solution we are all talking about, and mindlessly believing in?

This simply proves to me, in vivid Technocolor/blood RED, that humanity is still in its infancy.

S9
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 12:18 pm
@Kooker,
Hamlet was not 'talking to his dead father' as you say, he was talking to his father's ghost and this ghost was visible to all of the guards as well (in fact they alerted Hamlet to it).
So how is it insane if eveyone else could see it too?

Ophelia went insane, Hamlet may have been mad with rage, but he was not crazy (and again he deliberately fakes being insane).

The Macbeths, both in their own way, were insane.
 
Fido
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 08:05 pm
@Subjectivity9,
Subjectivity9;100996 wrote:
Fido,

Different milieu, or honor, whatever you choose to call it; it is just the EGO thinly disguised. Anyone that has lost control of his ego is in for trouble, one way or the other.

It isn't just the sharks that fall into blood lust. They say that that this 'feeling of ultimate power,' or the power to take another man's life, is addicting to some (weak minded?) individuals.

Man is a social animal. I believe that is one of the things that keeps our feet on the ground, or rather keeps us from flying off into a self made madness of one sort or another. It is our ability to consider the other guy, and in this way gain some perspective.

When we become too self-obsessed, (AKA obsessed with our own thoughts and feelings and thereby disregard the thoughts and feelings of others), these tenuous threads, that keep us sane, begin to ravel and even break altogether.

I think that the whole idea of civilization was based upon cooperation, and in this fashion was meant to keep us from, all too easily, slipping into our more base and/or animal nature.

All of our present day wars, like the wars of old, are simply an extension of this foolishness, or a matrix of excuses, which we have built around our own individual and our group Egos that have gone off course.

We honor our soldiers who follow orders without question, and throw our conscientious objectors in jail. Go figure! This all goes back to our belief that there is a solution to be had with the sword, "might is right," and (lets face it) our stepping into violence/vengeance because it feels so dog-gone good and freeing.

(Impulse, like children, longs to be free.)

So many swords: so where (I ask you) is this solution we are all talking about, and mindlessly believing in?

This simply proves to me, in vivid Technocolor/blood RED, that humanity is still in its infancy.

S9

Non sense... Sure, people needed their egos, more then than now...We do not live in democratic and egalitarian societies... We think we are individuals, but we have nothing to defend...Where they were technically equal, they felt the need to stand out, and stand proud in defense of honor which is the quality that unites all brave people....Do you think it was all a game??? A man's property stood for him just as he stood for his honor...You steal his goods, or hurt his kids you steal his honor, and to do less that fight for them or kill for them was an invitation to anyone bigger and stronger to come and reap what he sowed...Consider; that there were no cops on every corner, no courts of law, no jails, or prisons...People did not have the technology to produce excess, and the over burden of state was as much an advantage as detriment... It was a universal economy, and you can still see it at work...Politicians trade on their honor, and they guard against anyone messing with their economy...They surround themselves with ritual, and oaths and edifices but it is empty form to them... Would they divorce their wives over questions of honor as Casesar did??? Would they kill a wife as Othelo??? You cannot compare the loss of honor with the loss of ones life savings... Where money is dear, honor is cheap... Where honor is dear money is meaningless it is so rare...

Try to consider that when primitives strike out it is on a certain evidence...They attack those who injure them... Those people had their justice... They stayed strong in defense of their honor, and were respectful...today, we can barely manage respect...If we should beat some one as doctor Johnson for being impertenant, we would be put into jail... We cannot defend our honor, and because we cannot have our honor we have no defense, and no justice... The violence of feuds that killed so many to buy peace in the end is traded for a peace that does not deliver justice until injustice goes international with wars... We have traded a handful of deaths that kept society healthy and free for millions of deaths including innocents, women and children that in the end brings justice no nearer and war no further distant than the last war...Sure they were mad; but we are stupid...
 
hue-man
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 10:06 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;12393 wrote:
Nietzsche was brilliant. But instead of keeping some people too dumb to understand him, we should educate everyone so that everyone can read him, understand him, and make the reasonable decision to reject his philosophy.


I know that this is a bit off topic, but what about Nietzsche's philosophy do you think should be rejected?
 
 

 
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