?

Log in

No account? Create an account
bear by san

March 2017

S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
bear by san

Sit beside the breakfast table and think about your troubles;

Pour yourself a cup of tea and think about the bubbles.

Entertaining to me, menin_aeide offers an article from the City Journal on medical knowledge in Shakespeare that includes the following paragraph, which plays into my personal prejudices nicely:

As Orwell pointed out, it takes effort and determination to see what is in front of one’s face. Among the efforts required is the discarding of the lenses of excessive or bogus theorizing. When it comes to our attempts to understand the phenomena of our own society, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are in the grip of theories that are the equivalent of Hall’s Galenical theory, and whether as a result we do not prescribe the legislative equivalents of human skull, mummy dust, and jaw of pike.

The frank admission of cowardice in the face of the Oxfordians, Marlovians, et al.,(1) charms me. My personal problem with the authorship question is that I walked in without a dog in the fight (Actually, as the title and certain lingering elements of plot structure suggest, there was a time when The Stratford Man was expected to have some, shall we say, anti-Stratfordian elements, as the plot sort of hit me in a lightning bolt while I was enjoying the talespinning and theorizing of an Oxfordian colleague of my husband's at a faculty Christmas party.) The problem is that when I actually sat down to do the research (and let's not talk about how much research there was, and continues to be) I not only found the Oxfordian (and Marlovian, for that matter) arguments unbelievable, but unworkable. (And I couldn't figure out how to get Bacon into the book at all, so he's not even got a cameo.)

There are still people who prefer a good conspiracy theory to Occam's razor, and I think everybody who writes historical fiction or secret histories or historical fantasy has had what I've heard Tim Powers describe to as that horrible, exhilarating, dawning moment when the cold chill creeps up your neck and you think Oh my God, I'm not making this up--because the pieces seem to fit together too well, and the patterns come sliding out in remarkably polished perfection (It is the weirdest, creepiest thing in the world, I gotta tell you, and there have been times when I was so excited by a piece of information that I was literally shaking with adrenaline--Robert Catesby was at Rheims, and he rode in the Essex rebellion, did you know? And on that slender lynchpin hangs my entire freaking plot--but it doesn't actually mean that any of the rest of the fabric of lies I've created is true.)

The human brain is a pattern-finding machine. (The art of fiction rests on this fact.) This is the problem with the various Shakespearean conspiracy arguments: they all sound really good, and desperately romantic, and full of clever connections and those cool spine-shivery I'm not making this up! moments--until you actually sit down and think about the logistics of the thing. And then you come to the realization that not only can three keep a secret if two of them are dead, but that the English Renaissance is not what you would call a time of great personal privacy. And that, at the very least, if you want another candidate for Shakespeare than Shakespeare the actor, you need to get John Fletcher, Phillip Henslowe, Ned Alleyn, Richard Burbage, Edmund Tylney, Ben Jonson, possibly Christopher Marlowe (if you like Edward III for a collaboration, say--apparently there's some newish stylometric evidence that supports that old idea), and probably a few others in on it. Oh, and that Shakespeare guy, too.... oh, and some or all of Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, and Thomas Dekker, if you like Hand D in Sir Thomas More for the playwright, and...

It gets unwieldy pretty fast, as you can see.

It's kind of like saying that Howard Koch actually isn't a scriptwriter, and that he and Julius and Philip Epstein were covering for the authorial intrusions of, oh, Howard Hughes in the script to Casablanca. (Actually, you know, the situations are just about exactly analogous, now that I think about it. English Tudor/Stewart drama was very much a collaborative and disposable art form, not an ivory tower pursuit, and scripts were hammered out in constant revisions much as modern movie scripts are, and as often based on outside source material rather than auctorial invention.)

P.S., the Park Honan biography? Is really quite good.)


(1)My spellchecker likes "Pavlovian" for Marlovian and "Orthogonal" for Oxfordian. I have disabused it.



More SF v. F (I picture an orange Volvo):

shewhomust sez (after some more specific things that seem problematic to me) something I rather like, for all its vagueness: The otherness of the unreal is essential to fantasy, the extraordinariness of the real is essential to SF. Or possibly the ordinariness of the unreal, too.

Comments

Nilsson from THE POINT.
...who grew so old.... he decomposed.... *g*
Yeah, I had a historical piece that worked out quite well because the historical character happened to have actually lived somewhere where a key mineral was mined. Works in more than just historical, too. In one of my more recent works, the patterns of a specific world myth just happened to correlate with the mineral deposits of the world, and the geological timeline fit perfectly with the evolutionary timeline I needed. Freaky.
We know more than we think we know.

--bonnie
No, actually, because the +good version of The DaVinci Code is Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy, and it's been around for years. *g*

+for certain values of good.
Yeah: Foucault's Pendulum.
That's a good example, too.
(1)My spellchecker likes "Pavlovian" for Marlovian and "Orthogonal" for Oxfordian. I have disabused it.

Don't let those spellcheckers get uppity. They'll walk all over you, if you do.

The otherness of the unreal is essential to fantasy, the extraordinariness of the real is essential to SF. Or possibly the ordinariness of the unreal, too.

I asked about this, during the summer, about how to tell the difference between "literature" that contains fantastical elements (like magical realism) and "fantasy" as a genre. The closest answer I seemed to get (that is, to something resembling a practical description as opposed to paroxysms of mostly blathering) is that literary fantasy and/or magical realism treats the unreal as ordinary, and its focus is not on action or plot so much as characters and their development. Fantasy, as a genre, tends to prefer a focus on action and plot, and -- as mentioned above -- contains an element of otherness to its unreal.

The pity is that I started out writing magical realism, because I like the unreal to be an everyday event, and not something that's even blinked at -- I want the characters to be the other, not the trappings of the world around them. But I think in revisions with an eye toward pleasing the genre's main audience requirements, I keep upping the plot and action, downplaying character development, and -- as has been pushed at me since the beginning -- trying to highlight the unreal as otherly.

Well, that's been going on since I first started writing. I had a draft chapter up of the first chapter of a novel (since set aside for revisions) and out of eight crits, six said I needed to put more "obviously fantasy" details in there, or else the readers could mistake it for, y'know, just another action story. What's wrong with writing a magical realism-cum-action thriller? I rather liked that idea. Sigh.
Oh, fuck that noise. This is where artistic integrity comes in.

If you're not writing the books you want to write, you might as well get a job as a receptionist. It pays better.
The funny thing is that I'm trying to get a job (in new market, w/in a few months of moving)... as a writer. And while tech writing may be the world's best cure for insomnia, it does pay a helluvalot better than a lot of other *cough* careers I could name.

I'm not sure I could claim myself as a published writer, however, if the only things so far to my credit are Web PerSec Guidelines and EX869 Printer Modules. I have, however, contemplated dropping off a bunch of copies at the local sleep institute as suggested reading for when visiting clients are trying to sleep in the lab.
Oh good lord. Don't we have enough cardboard-character fantasy already? Bring on the weird lit with complex characterizations and the matter-of-fact strangeness. Non illigitamus carborundum, et cetera.
Oh, fuck that noise. This is where artistic integrity comes in.

*ponders*

Thanks, Bear. :-)

*resumes writing -- but after studying . . . :-( *
I thought your writing was a lot better back when it was all characters and interactions and so very very ordinary to see men with furry tails in the DC subways. The story is tighter now, but it's not as interesting or as alive.

--bonnie
Quirk is Queen.

The only "someone else wrote Shakespeare" piece I've found believeable was a story (whose author I forget, alas) a few years ago, which postulated that Shakespeare had died young, and the other person, who had reason to hide [1] had basically taken his place--used his name, acted with his company (who were in on it for some reason), and gone home to Stratford to "his" wife.

She'd suspected something was wrong before he got there, because of the tone of the letters she was getting--they were considerably more loving and generous than her husband had previously sent.

Part of why the story worked, as a story (I don't for a moment think this happened) is that it got around the problem of person A spending years and years passing off all of his/her writing as that of person B. The other problem with all the standard "someone else wrote Shakespeare and didn't want his name on plays because they're low-class" theories is that none of them explain the sonnets, or the longer poems. It was (as you know, Bear) entirely respectable for upper-class Elizabethans to write and publish poetry under their own names.

[1] It might have been Marlowe.
It's a Connie Willis story, "Winter's Tale," which I loff with a mad sort of loff.
That almost reminds me of _Double Star_, in a weird sort of way (and I'm not talking about the theater bits, either :) ).
"When it comes to our attempts to understand the phenomena of our own society, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are in the grip of theories that are the equivalent of Hall’s Galenical theory, and whether as a result we do not prescribe the legislative equivalents of human skull, mummy dust, and jaw of pike."

All of us, I suspect.

Why hasn't anyone written a story in which Roger Bacon wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare?
Personally, I think William Shakespeare is the true secret author of Atlanta Nights. How could a work possibly be so funny otherwise?
(And I couldn't figure out how to get Bacon into the book at all, so he's not even got a cameo.)

...maybe you could invite him to breakfast?....

...sorry, I'm just egging you on...

*ducks and runs*

--bonnie
You're so toast.
You know there's a director in Norway that is saying it is not possible for J.K. Rowling to have written the Harry Potter books, yeah?
http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1169209.ece