Mike Phraudmann, CSUB Pangloss, cont.
Shakespeare's plays are not "true" as say historical writing is true or physical science is true (based on facts) ; it's debatable they should be taught in public schools or collges. Let's assume the plays should be taught in, say, elective courses.
The bad English professor, like F-mann, teaches them as representations of political, or worse, moral philosophy or "psychology." For the hack-pedant a play such as Macbeth functions not merely as rhetoric lesson, it's an ideological message--something like "excessive ambition leads to downfall." Obviously that "warrant" (in Toulminian sense; the warrant another word for a premise) is not at all true in all cases, or even more likely than not. (and yet the Machiavellian hick Phraudmann was at least as ambitious and conniving as the usual mafioso)
It's rhetoric and metaphor, perhaps powerful, yet also somewhat deceitful: Julius Caesar contains many historical inaccuracies for one: the assassination did not take place on the Ides of March. There are pre-Gallilean superstitions a plenty as well.
The somewhat obvious Orwellian point is that lit. often functions as a type of "doublespeak" for both left and right professor-ideologues, and that doublespeak element exists in Shakespeare as well: he's a spokesman for the Crown, as is F-mann, I believe, (though Shakespeare's is made of gold, and F-mann's is from Burger King). The authentic English professor attempts to avoid that sort of manipulation, common to both the right and leftist sorts of clowns of C-SUB English.
...the Lit. Biz depends on a type of ersatz Platonism: the works of the Lit. canon (like the catholic canon) are assumed to be timeless, transcedent, the great thoughts of great people. The F-manns are those types of professors who rely on Lit. as dogma: in the typical CSU or UC lit. indoctrination course, the student is not struggling to learn derivatives or integrals or UNIX or predicate logic which he then may use to solve problems of various sorts; he or she is being taught how to act, how to be a decent courtier-in-training, how to mind his or her manners.
THat sort of etiquette training may have been suitable in like 1750, or to theatrical narcissists; to students who care to succeed in the modern technocracy, Shakespeare if not Brit. Lit. as a whole is rather superfluous (indeed those gaseous tomes of the Victorians are in some sense worse).
Besides, life is far darker, brutal and animalistic than Shakespeare, even at his bleakest (like Macbeth) ever realized (Darwin and Malthus a better guide to reality than Shakespeare or Plato for that matter). But the Pangloss-like F-mann (or other C-SUB Panglosses and incompetents like Solomon the clown, Pawglovski, Vic. Laxative, Kartier, Klytmer, Andy Scoop, etc.) will do whatever he can to sort of create this Masterpiece Theatre sort of vibe which magically transports students away from the police state of Kern to the supposed pastoral bliss of Elizabethan England....
Yet some acquaintance with the facts of Tudorian history demonstrates it was only bliss for a few royals who could do whatever they wanted to--and that's another reason the Lit. Biz. remains au courant--it's sort of a de-sadean-lite phantasy camp for the bourgeois; and there are lots of sort of nauseating Brit. soft-porn aspects (Tempest, 12th Night, if you can stomach it). And tho' we may not care for puritans or fundies of whatever type (including muslims) one can perceive why many of the non-royals and "commoners" did not approve of the Tory theatre companies.
Even if one grants that there are profound and important messages contained in or expressed by literary works, those messages are hardly unequivocal. Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment seems as much a vindication of Raskalnikov as a condemnation; and many works of fiction display that equivocal and ironic nature. C & P is quite a moving and symphonic work of literature, but there is not some transcendent Platonic "essence"--ethical or aesthetic, really--which it points to which all would agree to: indeed, some might appove of Ras.'s actions.
Literature and literary "truths" are not verifiable, tho' hack professors (ie. the C-SUB cavalcade of Lit. clowns) often seem to think they are. Moby Dick did not happen, except perhaps in Melville's mind (and a rather troubled mind it was). The metaphor has no necessary meaning or implication; the figures are not real. Any meanings are constructed, inferred, concocted. We might find Moby Dick entertaining, and even conclude some "truisms" from it--say the absence of a loving, omnipotent Deity, for one--but it's neither a deductively necessary type of argument, nor really inductively "cogent," and
as "art qua art," in some sense quite less powerful than say Beethoven or Debussy.
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