Becoming a Doctor...

Sat, 15/01/2011 - 06:44 -- Heward Wilkinson

The Muses have only conferred two Doctorates, declared George Steiner at one time, Drs Johnson and Leavis...

I certainly cannot hope that a belated Doctorate conferred (subject to minor conditions) around The Muse as Therapist
http://www.karnacbooks.com/Product.asp?PID=25803
will fall into that category - yet it prompts strange reflections on how ingrained in me, in Sisyphean fashion, had become the assumption that no one could understand or receive my communication....

- - It was so ingrained in me at such a deep level that I COULD NOT get my conception across, within the culture of the Doctorate, that it is something of a shock and a stunner that I DID. This bedrock feeling of inability to communicate the core of it, was/is what leads me to attach such enormous importance to King Lear, and to Edgar and Cordelia, which became the core of the Shakespeare chapter, and then to see it as a parable of the authorship problem - which then has gone across into the Brief Chronicles version of the paper.
http://www.briefchronicles.com/ojs/index.php/bc/article/view/49/110

NOW I see how much that chapter was a parable of my predicament and life script - in the Doctorate in particular, and of what that in turn seemed to symbolise, broadly speaking, modern philistinism and positivsm, but, going deeper, a rooted conviction that no one will ever understand me.

In that light, the death of Cordelia, which is so enigmatic and dreadful to nearly all of us, takes on the additional meaning of THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION. Lear's HOWL....

So I was almost shocked when I realised that the members of the panel, in one case very forcefully now, they were emphatically convinced, they had 'got it', and it was just now a matter of the loose ends. It rather undermined my persecution complex! - though I still CAN find things to attach it to!!

Only one thing worse than not getting what we want, and that is GETTING what we want, Oscar Wilde once said....

Comments

I wonder if Lear's creator had a single reader among all his friends, foes and fellow scribblers, whom he felt had the insight to truly hear and know him. One great reader, while he lived. Elizabeth? Ben Jonson? The Dark Lady of the Sonnets?

The Sonnets are unbearably sad for me, but I'm not sure why. So is Lear, of course, but we don't usually juxtapose these two works. Now you've got me very curious...

Marie I think that is a superb question - who had he as one great reader? Hegel is reputed to have said: I only had one student who understood me - and he did not understand me! Wordsworth found Coleridge, one of whose great characteristics is to be the great reader par excellence!

I think the author of the First Folio panegyric, To the Memory of my Beloved Master William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us
http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/jonson/benshake.htm
had at any rate BECOME a great reader of his work - but the young(ish) Ben Jonson? Tom Nashe (assuming Nashe is not a pseudonym for Oxford)? Chapman? the young John Donne? (perhaps the most nearly equipped to be that reader - but during the 1590s?) Gascoigne? Churchyard? Southampton?
We have SO LITTLE idea of what life was like then....
But a great question....

As to the relation between Lear and the Sonnets, they are both testimonies of shame, and sexual shame, par excellence - 'the expense of spirit in a waste of shame' - shame deeply introspected and explored, Lear the play about shame par excellence, the Sonnets the supreme poetry of shame (Donne's Twickenham Garden is near this territory
http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/twickenham.php )

That is where I would start and where I started in the book and the Brief Chronicles paper
http://www.briefchronicles.com/ojs/index.php/bc/article/view/49

Submitted by mariemerkel on

Congratulations, Dr. to be Heward! I don't know why my "Like" face has such a frown; here's a smile :)

I think you should probably trust your first and longest suspicion, that no one will ever truly understand you. This way, you'll keep on writing, trying to clarify all that Lear, Cordelia, and Shakespeare say to you, and we'll keep on trying to figure out where you've come from and where you're going.

As for "the impossibility of communication", bah! Even if we all see "Shakespeare" from our own vantage, through our own lenses, I'll bet he'd be pleased to find that a fair number of readers have truly "gotten" what was on his mind and in his heart. Not everyone can plumb the depths of that howl...