A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
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Top Down

In light of recent  interesting discussions over on the ShakesVere FaceBook group, it might be useful to explain what I’m trying to do here at The Festival Robe.  One of the discussions centered on ‘proof’ and differentiating between proving that Vere wrote Shakespeare and discovering some or other relationship(s) in the works.

I view the Shakespeare question as approachable from two sides. One approach is from the bottom up. This approach builds facts on facts, linked together to form a  ‘proof’ by crossing a weight-of-the-evidence threshold. Although the evidence for Vere writing Shakespeare is circumstantial, that evidence is, like all circumstantial evidence, cumulative. The more pieces of evidence, the stronger the proof. Using this approach, the question of; Did Vere write Shakespeare? is proven to me.  But the answer is not a certain 100%.  It is 99.999 and a heck of a lot more nines%, (see Sturrock’s AKA Shakespeare).

The other approach to the problem is from the top down. Here, the components of who, how,  and why are arranged to a best-Occam’s-fit over spans of evidentiary lacunae. To approach the problem from the top down doesn’t prove anything.  But it is a way of solving Shakespeare, and some solutions are going to be better than others.

I think many Oxfordians got to where they are on the issue by looking at the facts from a bottoms up approach and being convinced at that weight of evidence. At the same time they viewed Stratfordian’s own solution to the who, how, why questions (the stupid guy, using his genius, just because) and found those explanations wanting.

Those who are new to the Shakespeare question who approach it from the bottom up are easier converts to the Oxford side than those who approach it asking who, how, why.  As I stated earlier in the “Are We Asking the Wrong Question” post,  Oxfordian answers to who, how, why, though substantively correct, come up short as solutions, mainly by misidentifying first causes.  Thus, developing better solutions to who, how, and why are rhetorically important goals even though they fall outside of proof.

A second discussion on ShakesVere initiated by Tom Regnier had a question posed to him.

“Funny though that the most famous of all the playwrights is the one who is said to have used a pseudonym. Although this writer says it was common – why doesn’t this seem to affect any of the other playwrights whose work survives – all the well known ones like Jonson, Massinger, Middleton, Fletcher, Webster, Ford, Dekker etc. Why doesn’t anyone think they were pseudonyms – it just seems odd to me.”

The question is an excellent example of someone asking why from a top down approach and not being satisfied with the Oxfordian answer.  My interest is to provide more persuasive solutions to those who, how, why questions.

1 comment

1 Wiliam Ray { 12.06.13 at 4:54 pm }

The comprehensive and the specific occupations of the subject with increasing knowledge work together pretty thoroughly. You would be unable to explain the complete blank literarily speaking of the presently accepted figure without a good knowledge of his temperament, concentrations, and actions. Yet it is clear, from the top-down perspective you adopt, just on the face of it, that this is not the biography of a literary figure.

For another example, it is clear to any sane eye that the Droeshout etching is not a person, but an exaggeration of a person. Only by discerning the various devices and perceptual tricks amusing to the Elizabethans at the dawn of mass print can one break this overall impression–though an accurate one–into its specific constituents.

Why are there two attenuated spear-points on our left as we look at the etching? Only by realizing that two is ‘deux’ in French, a favored language of the educated then, which has extreme similarity to the vocalization of ‘de’. Only by realizing that four is ‘vier’ in German, a familiar language to English travelers on the Continent, do we comprehend that the four spears on the other side must be vocalized as that ‘vier’ to discover its sound is almost identical to ‘Vere’.

So, from where I stand, the general and the particular are equally valid. They are also interactive perspectives. Neither can succeed without the resources and characteristics of the other.

I agree that the comprehensive who, what, why, when, and where is a perceptual frame invaluable to the increase of knowledge.

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