Saturday, October 18, 2014

Informed People Can Disagree

I could claim to not have expected to get push back from that short Index of Prohibited Ideas which I published the other day but such a clearly disingenuous statement would impeach my credibility.   I knew it would cause the kind of swivet it did and in which venues those could be expected to appear.

Who I would call "my arch enemy" if he were competent enough or witty enough to generate the adjective and his BBF have apparently been snarking over me pointing out that bringing up "The Shakespeare Question" was forbidden even among the alleged and self-designated "Free Thinkers".  Among those results I expected.  Though I could point out that in my post I just said bringing up the question even without giving an opinion on it would get many knees to respond in a predictable way I can point out that doubting the old Bard of Avon legends was done by some rather eminent persons.  Here's a list from one website of Bard skeptics

In the annals of world literature, William Shakespeare is an icon of towering greatness. But who was he? The following are among the many outstanding writers, thinkers, actors, directors and statesmen of the past who have expressed doubt that Mr. “Shakspere” wrote the works of William Shakespeare:

Mark Twain, Henry James, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Orson Welles, Leslie Howard. Tyrone Guthrie
Charlie Chaplin. Sir John Gielgud, William James, Sigmund Freud
Clifton Fadiman, John Galsworthy, Mortimer J. Adler, Paul H. Nitze
Lord Palmerston, William Y. Elliott, Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, jr. 

Which, while a mixed bunch includes some people whose opinion on the topic is hardly negligible.   I'd go with the list of authors among those, along with such experts in drama as Leslie Howard, Tyrone Guthrie and Charlie Chaplin as being people who would have the most credible view of the question.   And those are just people in the past who questioned the orthodox view of it, there are hundreds more informed people who differ with it and have publicly stated so, many at least as if not more qualified than those who push the orthodox POV on the issue.

Mark Twain's short essay on the topic had a decisive influence on my thinking on the question.    Though it was the incredible paucity of evidence supporting W.S.'s authorship, starting with the two actors claiming ownership of the work through what would appear to be a rather dodgy amendment to a document that may well have been forged,  the failure to document education, book ownership or handwritten documents by the guy and, I'll add, how he failed to assure the education of his own daughters and his treatment of his wife - as opposed to the unusually woman positive nature of many of his female characters led me to the position I take on the issue.  I didn't even care about the issue until I read about it - though it's not exactly a major issue for me and I wouldn't, necessarily lose respect for someone who could come up with real reasons against my position, based on actual evidence instead of the huge body of myth and conjecture that,  uh,  "supports" the buyers of The Bard.

Reasonable people can differ on many questions, this being one of them and there are people who differ with me on this insignificant issue who I respect.  But whether or not the position a person has is based on more than the adoption of a conventional POV out of ignorance is certainly an important consideration.  I would suspect most people who hold any position on this issue, as in most others, take it as the common position of some some academic tribe, or social group or class clique.  Which strikes me as being no way to run a life of the mind, certainly not among people who represent themselves as having superior intelligence and a devotion to evidenced reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment