Shakespearean Metaphysics (Shakespeare Now!)
The difficulty 18 Shakespearean Metaphysics introduced by these thinkers, who simplified natural philosophy by limiting it to the study of matter in motion, was that they reduced every aspect of nature — all of its qualities, phenomenal diversity and changing appearances — to a collection of mechanical and, so, mathematically describable properties of bodies. Events rather than extended bodies, he argues, ought to be seen as the most fundamental or primordial building block of all that is. Matter, bodies, the properties of things are thus, for Whitehead, not the foundation for the changes we observe in the world, but the product of those changes.
Although the immediate inspiration for this move seems to come from developments in twentieth-century physics, Whitehead is really extending a line of thought that stretches back to Pythagoras, who believed that abstract entities like numbers could relate different parts of the world that seemed indifferently or selfsufficiently real. Twelfth Night affirms this notion that occasion is the fundamental metaphysical building block of experience — certainly of experience in the theatre — and links the encompassing unity of occasion, which is to say, its role in relating part to dramaturgical whole and whole to dramaturgical part, to the immanence of theatrical personhood as it coalesces on stage.
Jonson is committed to the unities of time and place, but he is also committed to the coherence of a space that pre-exists certain bodies and in a sense can entertain them with perfect indifference.
Divine Comedy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
There are certainly times when one wonders if Jonson is not just behind the play, in the tiring room perhaps, 20 Shakespearean Metaphysics manipulating every detail of the performance no matter how spontaneous it may seem. But the particular vertigo one experiences in the presence of Jonsonian staged play is ultimately the effect of a poetic gambit, a cat and mouse game between concealed author and inquisitive audience.
Shakespeare is playing a very different game when he proposes that a single element in the theatrical spectacle — character, event, action, body, music, feeling, scene — can become the vanishing point or principle of generation for all the others. Such theatrical experiments with metaphysical categories are not limited to those involving bodies in space.
We will find, when we turn to King Lear in Chapter 3, that Shakespeare also puts into question the difference between quantity and quality, one of the most basic distinctions we use to classify human knowledge — separating the so-called natural from the human sciences — and a recurring theme in the philosophy of Henri Bergson. In its worst moments, everything in Lear seems to have an edge or a bounding point, which means that there is a point beyond which any given thing can no longer be itself.
Indeed, the play provides some fairly grim answers to the bare metaphysical question of The Drama of Immanence 21 how far a thing can be divided or augmented — love, a person, a kingdom — before it becomes something else, or nothing at all. In a world where every quantitative reduction or copious rhetorical amplification seems to exhaust the thing described, leaving no fertile remainder, the very idea that quantity men, land, praise can somehow reliably express qualities nobility, affection, remorse becomes pathological.
In Chapter 3 we will find that the play never gives an emotionally satisfying solution to this problem of division or exhaustion, where the self-conserving algebra of quantitative change becomes something like a tragic law. But Lear does suggest an alternative linkage between these two realms which does not locate qualitative feelings or experiences in an extended, edge-binding medium.
This anti-Euclidian world, denied to Lear and his daughter in act 5, is one in which the qualitative realm is no longer mapped onto the quantitative, the relation being instead one in which all changes in degree are changes in kind. Quantities of love would thus not augment or decrease in such a world: as a quality, love would no longer have degrees, only varieties. On this reading, love names a collection of different feelings that are constantly in flux and so changing their very nature from moment to moment: such collection could not be reckoned by weighing it on a single scale.
Here each moment would be a new species of time and feeling, a constantly ripening, immanent flux rather than a diminishing record of previous moments and passions. This sensitivity to the metaphysics of quantity is not just apparent in the action and diction of Lear, but in the revisions that Shakespeare appears to have made to the play as it was adapted for the stage.
Folio and quarto are terms that refer to size of an early modern printed book, quarto being the smaller and generally less expensive of the two. Like Shakespeare, Bergson knew that the tendency to think punctually about bodies, their limits and divisibility — aspects fungible through geometric or algebraic calculation — were ill suited for the analysis of feeling and experience, both of which unfold in a temporal flux. If the mechanical philosophy had the effect of spatializing time and so making it and the changes it brings thoroughly homogeneous, Bergson made time a generator of qualities and feelings so diverse that they could never march in place.
Bergson and Whitehead, we should notice, are both interested in how the intellectual scaffolding used to frame and raise the natural sciences in the seventeenth century brought with it certain The Drama of Immanence 23 assumptions about how the most basic building blocks of being — categories such as matter, body, motion, property, quality, event — are related to one another in a significant, comprehensive way.
I have been suggesting that Shakespeare ought to be included in this conversation because he too, using the resources of the theatre, was able to explore precisely the relations among these metaphysical building blocks and to configure or re-configure them in suggestive ways. The plays are not proofs, nor are they arguments. We should go further, however, and say that much metaphysical writing tends to take place in an imaginary sort of theatre; that because metaphysics concerns the relationship of parts and wholes, it requires a sensorium in which such relationships can be dramatized.
We have been thinking about Shakespeare as someone who uses language, action and events to posit such relations, to naturalize them or — and here we begin to use one of the most important words in metaphysics — make them seem somehow necessary. The theatre is uniquely positioned, as a spatial, embodied medium that unfolds its action over time, to support such metaphysical gambits. Not all playwrights or companies use it for this purpose, but Shakespeare certainly did, as we will see in the detailed readings in the chapters that follow. When we say that a philosopher is committed to a metaphysics of immanence, we mean that he or she is unwilling to make the engine of being something that is either 24 Shakespearean Metaphysics completely outside of the world or completely encapsulated within some point of it.
The notion that divine interventions in human affairs are the actions of a removed manipulator whose essence is distinct from that of the world he or she acts on: this is the kind of global transcendence that an immanent metaphysics refuses. Such an interventionary scheme raises objections from philosophers for the same reasons that a deus ex machina is condemned by literary critics. There is something arbitrary about the idea that an immanent metaphysics distrusts. But there is also a local sort of transcendence that philosophers such as Whitehead, Bergson and — as we will see in a moment, Spinoza — have argued is equally unsatisfactory: the situation in which a physical cause or mind acts unilaterally on its immediate surroundings while remaining entirely indifferent to the complex of elements that make up the larger environment.
This second, local form of transcendence can be thought of as a pinch in the metaphysical fabric of being, a region in which certain causal or mental acts have somehow been exempted — localized and partitioned away — from the complimentary activity of all those minds, perceptions and causes that make up the buzzing whole of the world.
But there is another way around this problem, one that unties the punctual knot of space and time and, in doing so, dissolves their constraining power on causes, being and action. Instead of making parts of the totality independent of the whole — isolating them as mental or physical substances with the power to determine their immediate surroundings — one can argue that the distinction between the whole and its parts is itself illusory. What if the world is really just one entity in which every region is vitally alive with the power and force of every other region?
What if individuals are not so much beings independent of one another as interwoven aspects of some larger being — modes or The Drama of Immanence 25 moments of a single substance that is more real than any of its isolated qualities? Under what conditions might we be able to think about and encounter such a substance in all of its interconnecting richness?
In philosophy, we find it in the monistic metaphysics of Spinoza. Substance, we should remember, is an Aristotelian term for anything that stands on its own — anything that possesses its own metaphysical integrity and so supports the changing phenomenal features that can be said to belong to it. In the seventeenth century, both Aristotelians and Cartesians advocated metaphysical schemes in which substances were thought of as plural: for orthodox Aristotelians, there was the Great Chain of Being that ordered an array of different kinds of substance plants, worms, humans, angels into a hierarchy of increasing metaphysical perfection.
For Cartesian dualists, who opposed this varietal model, the number of kinds of substance in the world could be reduced to two: substances that thought God, angels, 26 Shakespearean Metaphysics human souls and those that were extended bodies. Although there was disagreement within and across these groups as to how substance might be understood or cognized, both the original Aristotelian substance model and the Cartesian dualist one posited multiple substances of however many varieties moving about the world in relative independence.
Different aspects of our phenomenal experience of the world could thus be understood by locating the causes of any observed change in one substance or another, substance now being understood as a container or staging point for action and natural effects. In saying that there is one substance rather than many, Spinoza complicates the relationship between the local sources of action whether they are conscious beings or simply moving objects and the points where that action is made manifest to sense.
A relationship does exist between metaphysical actor and outcome, as we will see, but that relationship can be grasped only in the context of the total environment of thoughts and bodies, thought and body being the two attributes under which the human mind can comprehend this single substance. One would expect that such a unifying move would have a homogenizing effect on our experience of the world, collapsing body into body, ship into storm, until all that remains is a humming blob. But when Spinozan unity is understood as metaphysical rather than phenomenal — when we see that things are one in substance rather than phenomenal appearance or physical location — something very different happens.
The great diversity of particular things and events in the world is actually preserved rather than diluted: such diversity comes to be seen as vitally dependent, in fact, on a metaphysical foundation that can guarantee that diversity in all of its forms.
The key point to remember here is that the relation of parts to whole is immanent, which means that neither is disposable in the analysis of what is really real. What leads Spinoza to adopt this position? How, Spinoza begins to wonder, can a mind ever interact with some region of extended substance when the two share absolutely no common feature?
Can mind physically move matter, even though it lacks a body of its own? Can a portion of the phenomenal, embodied world ever find a means refined enough to tickle a bodiless substance like mind? Humans are, and this is a crucial feature of the scheme, part of this single substance, which means that we are one of many aspects of an integrated, self-altering whole.
But as soon as we accept the monistic view of being, questions of action and existence — the kinds of questions that so trouble Hamlet in his private moments — must be rethought from the ground up. Why not just say that the being changes? We have already 28 Shakespearean Metaphysics begun to glimpse how characters and events in Twelfth Night and King Lear become participants in events or structures that cannot be apportioned to particular points of time and space, and so how these plays use a mixture of action and words to redefine the basic building blocks of reality in the theatrically represented world.
The dramaturgy of these plays suggests an artist deeply aware of the ways in which the substance of theatrical reality itself — its physical translations of being, events, and actions — is available for questioning and even reconfiguration, which is how theatre becomes a medium for metaphysical experimentation. As with Lear, The Tempest offers a critique of the punctualist conception of action by contrasting it with an alternative, in this case, The Drama of Immanence 29 ambient mode of action and interrelation among things.
Prospero is a living embodiment of what we might call the locally transcendent actor, a magus whose apparent indifference to the forces around him allows him to shape and change his environment in a focused, punctual way. Now on the beak, Now in the waste, the deck, in every cabin I flamed amazement. The actor playing Ariel, of course, is a living breathing person, an epicene youth who can perhaps be hoisted aloft on stage.
But when the actions of this putatively ubiquitous selfdivider are attended by a similarly fluid theatrical music, the dramaturgical combination becomes a revelation of sorts. The substance of this place — be it an island, a theatre or some basic quantum of imaginary space — ought to be thought on the model of music, and it is in the subtle orchestration of music and bodies that Shakespeare finds the model for a single theatrical substance with many modes.
The action of The Tempest, then, becomes a progressive exposition of the ambient quality of theatrical reality, its presence to itself in some 30 Shakespearean Metaphysics tactile but nevertheless diffuse way. Prospero is, in a sense, the one who must be educated in the ways of this superordinate substance, even though he seems to be the master of its local manipulations. That exposition occurs through the staging of action, ranging in mood from the farcical interactions of Stephano and Trinculo with Caliban to the ethereal ministrations of Ariel as he draws Ferdinand to Miranda by means of a song.
Indeed, after enough comparisons of this sort, we find that certain kinds of music-action combinations represent distinctive emotional dispositions, not just of the characters or the audience, but of the theatrical world itself. As the metaphysical analysis of bodies and music opens onto questions of mood and emotion, we discover something surprising in The Tempest. The play is not a neo-Platonic allegory about the power of music to enable action on a cosmic scale.
It is, quite the contrary, an extended tutorial — by means of action and music — in the ethical and emotional consequences of our immanent immersion in the world, one that suggests that punctual action on such a world is often both tyrannical and illusory. Shakespeare thus tries to do with The Tempest something that Spinoza tries to do with The Ethics, albeit with different means: to illustrate the virtues of immersion in a body and all of its diverse powers and to show how openness to affection — which is an openness to the interconnected climate system of moods and emotions that one substance implies — is a satisfying way of engaging with the world.
In a sense, the process envisioned here is something akin to bobbing in a turbulent sea: it implies a kind of salutary coping that is practised involuntarily, but which nevertheless involves an invigorating immersion in the medium in which one lives and moves. We might recall, in this connection, the image of Sebastian that appears The Drama of Immanence 31 at the beginning of Twelfth Night, when the Captain describes his last glimpses of Sebastian in the wreck to his sister: Cap.
Courage and hope become the teachers; music draws the singer across the waves. Nowhere is this more true than in Twelfth Night, a play that unfolds like an exotic perennial as it moves towards its final climactic scene, the reunion of the separated twins Viola and Sebastian. Even audiences who have seen the play before tend to get caught up in the swelling crest of action that seems finally to break in the final scene.
How is it that Shakespeare has managed to pivot so many emotions — longing, grief, reconciliation, relief, joy — on a misunderstanding, on the accidental reunion of twins separated by shipwreck?
Late Elizabethan Culture and Literary Representation
Renaissance audiences were also familiar with ideas popularized by Machiavelli and others who praised the virtues of the fox, arguing that effective action often requires an exquisite sense of timing, of judging exactly when to reveal something, when to take a risk or when to remain silent. These associations call attention to the complexity and contingency of the falling-together-of-circumstances in the conclusion, circumstances that carry with them a certain emotional colouring because of their conditional nature.
The action seems to carry itself along with a kind of immanent, self-determining force, as if a troupe of marionettes has cut its own strings and now stands, blinking, at the threshold of life. Viola, who with her brother is trading lines of what seems like a single speech — it is really the recitation of their shared history — is the most eloquent in describing how circumstances have in effect donated to the characters a second chance at happiness. She declares to Sebastian: Viol.
All the occurrence of my fortune since Hath been between this lady and this lord. In another sense, however, that reunion is virtual, sitting somewhere on a horizon that the play is positing but cannot yet reach. These are rich and complicated lines, some of the most dramatically powerful that Shakespeare wrote. They acquire this complexity because the thoughts that are spoken here are as much a part of the event as the physical meeting of twins, the fact of the crowd on stage, and the physical geometry of their placement. All the theatrical elements cohere, jump together, like charmed or attracted particles.
Shakespearean Metaphysics (Shakespeare Now!) Michael Witmore: Continuum
In the Renaissance ideology of self-assertiveness, such a cultivation of chance was usually the prerogative of forward-looking males: only the bold man, the aristocratic lore went, could discipline the goddesses of Fortune or Occasion and bring them to heel. The situation in Twelfth Night is somewhat different, since it is often women who have the power to discern auspicious moments for action. As we will see, this is both a matter of discipline and trust, but it implies knowledge of the fact that certain kinds of events — creative, singular events that could not be foreseen by any one person — are positively indebted to the twin powers of fortune and occasion to bring them about.
The more unique and unprecedented the outcome, the more complicated and unforeseeable its causes have to be. Viola and Sebastian do not arrive on the scene and find one another standing there, like billiard balls that have finally managed to collide. As the words of the play suggest, these two are actually one, and what the scene promises is separation, distinction and ultimately, individuation. When the process that is initiated here reaches its full conclusion — off stage, perhaps, or in some final dance?
She will only be named at the end, and even then, in an oddly anticipatory fashion. One does not have to work hard, in fact, to re-describe the theatrical transactions of Twelfth Night in Whiteheadean terms. The theatre speaks the language of events and process, which for Whitehead are the basic building blocks of reality.
He is trying to put the ocean in the bottle instead of the ship. Second, he is looking for a vocabulary that will help him think through and explain the radical immanence of each piece of reality to all others and to the whole that they represent.
As someone who has thought a great deal about the logic of mathematical sets, Whitehead is particularly attracted to concepts that allow him to think about membership, participation, inclusion and relation between different elements in his intellectual scheme. If we were to imagine twisting and folding that grid in such a way that a potentially limitless number of words and intersecting circles were generated from moment to moment, we would be thinking about reality in a typically Whiteheadean way.
Yet it is just this additional abstract force that makes it useful for thinking about the dramaturgical and emotional effect that Shakespeare is trying to achieve at the end of Twelfth Night. So too, the climax of a drama or its conclusion, inasmuch as both can be referred to with their own words, are also events. These events can have qualities, as Aristotle once pointed out, being terrible, happy, devastating, necessary, awful, avoidable or trivial.
But what do we mean when we say that the play is designed to bring a certain kind of event about, and that this kind of event is an expression of the temporal process in which it unfolds? How, moreover, can we talk about events in the world of the theatre without asking what it is about the theatre that makes events — changes of fortune that come about by action, inertia, accident or circumstance — so important?
Some further definitions are necessary. You are in the theatre. Because theatre is a temporal medium — because, unlike a painting, it moves — it is constantly building meaning into 40 Shakespearean Metaphysics the open possibility of change. Acknowledging that possibility as a fact of the performing situation is a key aspect of the theatrical experience, both for the actor and the audience.
And if time is real, then events or changes of affairs are always there to be witnessed or waited for, audiences scanning the action of a given plot for a point where some sort of outcome or result has become inevitable. If the letter from Friar Lawrence had only arrived on time, the audience of Romeo and Juliet thinks, then the final deaths of the two lovers might have been avoided.
Twelfth Night is no tragedy, of course. Its paths converge in a garden rather than on a funeral pyre. Where and how the careers of various characters and thus their stories meet goes a long way towards defining how a play like Twelfth Night satisfies comic expectations. There is a geometry to this kind of comedy, just as there is a geometry to tragedy.
But that geometry is not static, like a twodimensional figure on a chalkboard. In a non-trivial way, this is the story about how what happens makes you what you are. Such a metaphysical coherence is, for Shakespeare, the organic and emotional unity of the theatrical occasion — a singularity that actors and audiences participate in but that they cannot literally possess as they would a ring or a purse.
The process unfolds through the usual dramatic means: characters arrive on stage and obstacles are encountered; designs are hatched and enabling misunderstandings are introduced without being fully cleared up; characters arrive by chance or design at moments that either advance the schemes that are being hatched on stage or launch them in a new direction.
One can imagine the stage in this play as a movable window in the hedge of a Renaissance knot garden, one of those maze-like structures that is constantly re-partitioning space into containers that conjoin other spaces or dwindle into dead ends. As they make their way through that maze, Viola and Sebastian are engaged in a constant process of hiding and unveiling, giving out pieces of themselves in environments where their real identity cannot be entirely grasped.
Consider, for example, the crucial moment in the fifth act when Olivia, who has just been espoused to the man she thinks is Cesario but is actually Sebastian , arrives on stage in the wrong room of the garden, taking Viola for her newly minted husband. Ay me detested, how am I beguiled! Who does beguile you? Who does do you wrong? Hast thou forgot thyself? Is it so long? The question is unanswerable at this point, not because Viola is unwilling to play along, but because circumstances have not yet conspired to make clear exactly what Viola is at this moment.
Servant or noblewoman? Man or woman? The moment harks back to an earlier one in which Viola, newly arrived on the shores of Illyria, is discussing possible courses of action with the sea captain who has dragged her from the waves. This allegiance is signalled in two ways, first through the mention of terms explicitly associated with chance and contingency, but secondly through the syntactical and grammatical choices she makes in describing her hopes for the future.
That future is dominated by process — the flux of events which can be accommodated but not commanded — and so the changes on the horizon are expressed in the passive voice. When told about the The Final Satisfaction of Twelfth Night 43 misfortunes of Countess Olivia, herself deprived of both a father and a brother in the course of a year, Viola declares: Viol.
O that I served that lady, And might not be delivered to the world Till I had made mine own occasion mellow, What my estate is.
Here, just as in the speech quoted from the concluding reunion scene in the previous section, Viola is declaring that something is not going to happen until the occasion is just so. We ought to appreciate the paradox involved in imagining that Viola is simultaneously going to make something happen, and that that something is really an activity which she has no direct control over the ripening of occasion.
Shakespeare is interested in putting this character on unstable ground and then seeing what happens when she attempts to cope with this unstable 44 Shakespearean Metaphysics environment. This is the final oath of allegiance to chance, time and contingency — perhaps the purest oath sworn in the play that is not about love — but it is also the clue that Shakespeare gives us to the nature of the process that is unfolding on stage. This is exactly one of those unripe moments whose existence she has forecast in her opening speech, an occasion that bids or invites silence from the adept sworn to uphold its mysteries.
She could, after all, spill the beans about her identity now, when the matter has come to question. But the declaration also calls attention to the spatial arrangement of bodies both literally standing on stage and, figuratively or virtually, in other rooms in the Twelfth Night garden. Olivia has cut through the hedge in the wrong place and taken the wrong man for her husband, the very man to whom minutes ago she entrusted the task of revealing that they are essentially new persons with new allegiances: husband and wife.
What is funny about this carefully choreographed confusion of identity is also what makes it revealing about the metaphysics of process: the Viola who is canny enough to point out that Olivia is literally talking to and about someone else in this scene is simultaneously as far as Olivia is concerned a man who is refusing to act at the right time, to seize occasion by the forelock and take on greatness at a run. The play does not fall apart at this moment, but rather increases its tempo, hurtling towards the real moment of The Final Satisfaction of Twelfth Night 45 ripeness when the identically dressed twins stand face to face in front of their prospective lovers and antagonists.
The multiple circles that have been drawn around Viola have now linked this place and moment to others in the play where the shifting convergence of place and moment — the reality of occasion — was explicitly set out and affirmed, and it is that linkage that audiences think about when they find the scene humorous. We are being given a tutorial in the immanence of theatrical substances to themselves and others, their exquisite dependence upon sets of spatial relations and future-entailing promises.
In Twelfth Night, this process is essentially comic: the very mistakes that are heaped onto the situation in this scene will only increase the value of the next, because those mistakes are a necessary part of what follows. Quite often in his work, Whitehead will offer what sounds like a pithy aphorism in the middle of a highly technical argument, a phrase that interrupts the reader and sets open a door to insights that may be missing from the formal system that is being elaborated. This is one of the reasons why it is often better to read Whitehead himself, despite the daunting technical terms, instead of commentators who lack his cross-cutting wit.
Whitehead is taking two seventeenthcentury philosophers, Spinoza and Leibniz, as his inspiration for this kind of gesture, but he is trying to add something of his own to this radically synthetic early modern way of thinking about wholes and parts. Whitehead was perhaps the only seventeenth-century philosopher who managed to be born in the twentieth. Occasion can be creative, as it certainly is in Twelfth Night, but it must work in some kind of patterned way towards intelligible, particular ends if there is to be laughter and perhaps personhood.
We might think of this process as the metaphysical analogue to the dynamic process whereby past and anticipated moments of a performance are synthesized by the theatrical spectator. The extensive continuum is a realm of relationality so abstract that it supports references that cannot be described in any of our known geometries, much less our ordinary conception of three-dimensional space undergoing differentiation through time.
Whitehead settles on the extended continuum because it harnesses the relational power of classes, what are essentially levels of logical generalization and inclusion, and puts that power in the service of metaphysical explanation. For example, when trying to demonstrate that change and novelty are immanent to any process of development — when trying, that is, to show how the quality and aim characterizing a given concrescing entity are generated from within and throughout its process of generation — Whitehead uses levels of inclusion and the contrasts in their contents as an engine for self-derived difference and novelty.
He uses a kind of abbreviated algebra to explain this process, asking us to consider a situation in which occasion A is in the process of prehending several other actual occasions, B, C and D. We must remember here that feeling, for Whitehead, does not 48 Shakespearean Metaphysics necessarily refer psychologically to conscious perception, but rather to a mode of relation. Similarly, occasion A has access to the feelings C has of D, and to its own feeling of D alone. Something like a scalable metaphysics results, for it follows that any given entity or occasion — whether that entity is an abstract idea, a rock, the perception of the colour red, a feeling of hunger — is to be understood with respect to the other actual occasions or societies that make up its environment or background.
The extensive continuum is the realm in which actual entities assume all possible forms of relation, whether they are relations of inclusion, integration, relation, spatial and temporal differentiation and so on. According to Whitehead, the extensive continuum is: one relational complex in which all potential objectifications find their niche. An extensive continuum is a complex of entities united by the various allied relationships of whole to part, and of overlapping so as to possess common parts, and of contact, and of 50 Shakespearean Metaphysics other relationships derived from these primary relationships.
PR, 66 The continuum is one, a metaphysical plenum that can support atomistic events or occasions precisely because it exhausts the modes of relation we think of as part to whole, inclusion, exclusion and overlap. That continuum is more real than geometry, space and time, in comparison with which all three of the latter are derivative abstractions. Increasing the level of abstraction does what it always does in Whitehead: it offers new ways of accounting for the solidarity of elements that can now be understood as both ontologically distinct by virtue of the relations they uniquely configure and actually own and intrinsically relatable by virtue of their joint inclusion within a larger level.
One does not have to be convinced of the truth of this metaphysical scheme to grasp the basic impulse here, as well as the consequences for the kinds of metaphysical entities one is willing to entertain. This is a real theatrical goal and accomplishment, not just a metaphysical point that Shakespeare is scoring in the outer reaches of set theory.
Why is it thrilling to hear Viola and Sebastian narrate, at arms length, the details of their parentage, their shared history, with only gradual introduction of their separation in the 52 Shakespearean Metaphysics storm and their slow reconciliation by mishap and cross-adventure? Because it is so clear that their belonging together at this moment — and so, their mutual differentiation — is a completely immanent form of interrelation.
Whitehead has helped us to understand what this term might mean, since Whiteheadean immanence requires occasion to supply its own native logic, an origin of character that both inherits and adds to the past without reaching out to some transcendent agent to direct things from the outside. Indeed, what Shakespeare would have been thinking about as he plotted out the events of Twelfth Night was probably the mishaps of his earlier comedies — The Comedy of Errors, for instance — which are short on transcendence and instead puffed along in a series of micro-climates that seem to change from scene to scene.
Everyone watching the final scene finds him or herself in the last and largest room of the garden, the one in which meaning, identity and feeling are a product of relations and relationality rather than the local sources of agency embodied in this or that actor on stage. There is something deeply pleasurable about finding oneself present to the actors in the same way that the actors are present to each other, in occupying the same container and thus being the same The Final Satisfaction of Twelfth Night 53 kind of thing — the contents of an event — that is unfolding around you.
It is this form of novel togetherness that is the metaphysical ideal and emotional destination of Twelfth Night, and it is the one that the play works deliberately to unfold in plot, language and action. But the play is also illustrating the binding or integrating power of immanent inclusion in smaller ways as well, for example in its depiction of the process whereby novelty emerges as a form of comic error. The fooling of Malvolio and humorous exchanges that take place around Andrew Aguecheek are all illustrative here.
In the hilarious garden scene 2. Shakespeare has already given the audience a clue about the selfunfolding nature of the mayhem that is going to occur in this scene when it is hatched two scenes earlier 2. I will plant you two — and let the fool make a third — where he shall find the letter. Observe his construction of it. For this night, to bed, and dream on the event.
The third was the viewer. Like the painting that her comment recalls, like the garden that encloses the various groups of actors, and like the theatre that will ultimately enclose and comprehend the audience and actors, the plot that Maria is launching is really a container for a kind of self-actualizing creativity that can incorporate anything in its path.
Reading the abbreviation for the addressee of the letter, M. In fact, however, Malvolio does not understand occasion and process at all, his protestations about fortune notwithstanding. All the translations in this paper are my own. Victor Hugo explicitly describes the works of geniuses as sublime p. The role of the poet is to complete what began with the French revolution: the liberation of minds must follow the liberation of bodies.
See p. See Peter Jones, ed. See Table Talk. Ltd, This passage shows that Fuzier understands conventions as borrowings from sources, which in turn explain the fact that for him, using conventions was hardly distinguishable from plagiarism. This can be partly but as I hope to show not exclusively attributed to difficulty of the Sonnets and the sobering amount of criticism written on them in English-speaking countries. Though entertaining and informative, this book must be read with caution: it is not devoid of methodological flaws, and contains occasional, and rather serious, mistakes I do not think Sartre would have appreciated to be compared to Hippolyte Taine, for instance!
If slightly more 17 th -century plays seem to have been studied I have counted 36, as opposed to 29 16 th -century dramatic works , this difference does not appear significant, as the date of composition of many plays is not absolutely certain. Those were only studied by students who chose to specialize in literature.
Panels and Seminars. Plan A few historical landmarks: the Romantic and post-Romantic reception of Shakespeare. French criticism of the Sonnets and the rise of Shakespearean studies in thes ands. Periodization and rupture: aspects of the production of the canon in France. How Shakespeare over took the agreg. Newly correc They are abo This passage shows that Fuzier understands conventions as borrowings from sources, wh Typing the Most of the Those were only studied by students who chose to spec Haut de page.
Qui sommes-nous? Suivez-nous Flux RSS. O that this too too solid flesh would melt Spoken by Hamlet, Act 1 Scene2. To be, or not to be Spoken by Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1. Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven Spoken by Claudius, Act 3 Scene 3. How all occasions do inform against me Spoken by Hamlet, Act 4 Scene 4. Read the full Modern English Hamlet. I enjoyed this simple interpretation. I took a Shakespeare class, though I was chemistry major, I kept feeling that the scholars over analyzed Shakespeare and many other authors.
There is nothing bigger or great than the philosophy presented by Shakespeare through Hamlet.