Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Face of Shakespeare

Morgan Meis saw it, and was unsettled:
We've been told that Shakespeare was actually Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon. We've been told that he was Edward de Vere, or some other English nobleman in disguise. The details of these various theories don't matter so much. The point is the disbelief, the sense that Shakespeare can't just be Shakespeare.
I, for one, find myself both angry at Shakespeare and frightened by Shakespeare. The anger is perhaps easier to explain. He took too much. He took too much literature for himself and that's not fair. He broke some sort of unwritten rule about how much literature goes to each man. I couldn't tell you exactly how much that is, but I can say that Shakespeare took too much, and that it angers me sometimes.
The fear comes from a hazier place. I suppose I simply fear a person who was able to view the human beast so truly. Is there something infernal about the wisdom of Shakespeare, something uncanny that has the taint of the dark arts upon it? Strangely, I am much less afraid of the genius of the scientists, partly because their abstract insights into the nature of reality often go hand-in-hand with an intense befuddlement in the face of human-sized things. That seems a fair trade. To glimpse truths about the nature of the material world, it is required that you renounce any great understanding of the creatures who live within it. But to have the huge insights of Shakespeare, to look so deeply into the human soul, to know its every nook and hidden corner, seems, somehow, to contravene the limits that are given to all men.
More. And here is Meis' grandiloquent twitter feed.

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