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Preface: As I've said, oldie writing will be dusted off and plunked blogside (at least at first; new stuff should gradually overtake i...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shakespeare's poem "The Phoenix and the Turtle(dove)"

Where to start this? Maybe with my 2005 Shadowplay review:


As noted there, the portion of the review devoted to this mysterious Shakespeare poem was deliberately left groping, tentative and incomplete, even incorrect in a few spots--due to my stubborn determination to show how a critic works (fumblingly when the job is demanding).

My hope at the time was to spark a debate on the poem (whose deeper meaning, in any case, was but a small part of Lady Asquith's book and her Catholic argument) whereupon I would launch into the battle-fray my troops of evidence held in reserve. Alas, nothing of the sort happened. I merely scared and/or appalled the editor who commissioned the review, and it never saw day. Again, no reaction whatsoever greeted the review's subsequent appearance on Facebook, or its enbalming (twice) here on the blog.

Still, the poem remains an enigma, and my oversize ego demands an airing for my stillborn theory that "The Phoenix and the Turtle" is a slam at both Protestant and Catholic, a theory deserving either validation or refutation. I've had it up to HERE ***chops flattened hand across forehead*** with the damn Shakespeare-world, where scholars lurch around like retarded sleepwalkers determining nothing much at all, except that their bloated brains are filled with far too much post-structuralism and other pompous theory.

The case of Melvyn Levental's excellent "Cressida at the Tailhook Convention" being totally ignored since 1997 (maybe changing now in 2015?) is my favorite abomination to drag before an audience in this regard (and I've done so once or twice on Twitter, with predictable non-results). Levental's article comes very close to solving the problem-play Troilus and Cressida, and yet although the play is frequently an object of study, and there are other scholars who concur at least partly with Levental's argument vindicating Lady Cressida (as being NOT a slut; another gang of scholars, including Lady Asquith, insistently insists she is).

Neither side has addressed Levental's reasoning or its implications. Hello? There must be at least a hundred Shakespeare specialists in the English faculties of the Western world, including at least three who have edited new editions of Troilus and Cressida since Leventhal's piece appeared in the Shakespeare Newsletter--what in hell have they been doing for 15 years besides mumbling semi-intelligibly about Foucault and Derrida??!

(Pause for your blogger to blow off a little steam-pressure)

So the question that has dogged me for seven years is: how, how, HOW does one penetrate the moribund minds of the assembled professors? (and all the ordinary folks who are routinely dosed with Shakespeare, nearly always with the pedantic assistance of these same Fluellens). More than once I've tweeted another heresy of mine--that Prince Hamlet is a vicious schmuck and Shakespeare designed him thus--only to get zero response. Well, maybe everyone is too busy staring stupidly at all the bang-pow in Hollywood's latest action flick (Judge Dredd? Resident Evil?) And maybe the best way to make my simple solutions to Shakespeare HEARD is to raise a comparable media-ruckus, eh? (and yes, I know "simple solutions" has a comic double-meaning; do YOU know why the simple lunkhead Ajax is one of the heroes of Troilus and Cressida?--hey, unless you follow my Twitter feed, you encountered this pro-Ajax heresy here first!)

And, um, since it was a print-media journalist who inadvertently provided the clue that "the sole Arabian tree" in "The Phoenix and the Turtle" is in fact the frankincense tree, let's start with just print-media exposure. The broadcast folks with their cameras and microphones can scramble comically to catch up...

***To be continued, as usual. Still lining up my ducks***