Oct 29, 2013

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Sir Derek Jacobi on PBS Program Shakespeare Uncovered: “I Believe Edward de Vere Wrote The Works of Shakespeare, Not The Man From Stratford”

In case you missed the hour-long PBS program on Richard II — part of the six-episode series “Shakespeare Uncovered” — it’s well worth watching.  Click on the link below to watch.
Most of the episode, hosted by Sir Derek Jacobi, offers viewers an insightful discussion about Shakespeare’s play Richard II and the life of the actual historical figure.
But then around the midway point, just before the 30-minute mark,  Sir Derek takes something of a detour into the Shakespeare Authorship mystery and declares he’s an Oxfordian!  He even pays an on-camera visit to Castle Hedingham.
Derek is well aware that he’s stepping into a minefield.  “Castle Hedingham near London,” Jacobi explains, “is the ancestral home of the de Vere family.  In the course of his reign, Richard proved a very contentious King. He set many cats among many pigeons.  And my presence here at Castle Hedingham may, like Richard, set the fur flying.”
Sir Derek then goes on to state, clearly and boldly:  “I believe Edward de Vere and not William Shakespeare [of Stratford] wrote Richard II and, in fact, all the plays attributed to the man from Stratford.”
Here’s the link.  This makes for very interesting viewing.

Last Will and Testament — New Shakespeare Authorship Documentary Previews at Shakespeare’s Globe in London November 27, 2011

Shakespearean Authorship Trust Conference 2011
The Shakespearean Authorship Trust, in collaboration with Brunel University, hosts an advance screening of a major new authorship documentary, Last Will. & Testament at Shakespeare’s Globe on Sunday 27 November.
At a time when the Shakespeare world is being rocked by the imminent appearance of Roland Emmerich’s feature film, Anonymous, as well as the publication of several books based on new research, including Richard Roe’s The Shakespeare Guide to Italy and Katherine Chiljan’s Shakespeare Suppressed, there comes the first major documentary on the authorship question for 22 years. The timing could not be better, and we are very fortunate to have the film’s director Lisa Wilson with us to introduce the work and answer questions on it. (Lisa was also a consultant onAnonymous, and is a trustee of the SAT.) She will be joined by no fewer than seven luminaries who took part in the documentary: Diana Price, author of Shakespeare’s Unorthodox BiographyProfessor Roger Stritmatter of Coppin State University in Baltimore, actors Sir Derek Jacobi* and Vanessa Redgrave*, the Chairman of the SAT, Mark RylanceDr. William Leahy, Head of the School of Arts at Brunel University, and Charles Beauclerk, author of Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom.
Last Will. & Testament is a 90-minute film that explores the evolution of the authorship question since Shakespeare’s time, with particular reference to William Shakspere of Stratford and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, though other candidates are discussed. Among those defending the orthodox position are Stanley Wells and Jonathan Bate, both of whom were invited to speak at the conference. The documentary is beautifully shot and has exclusive access to footage of Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, which is due for general release on 28 October 2011. The film will be shown in three parts in order to give conference attendees proper time to digest and discuss the material as the day unfolds. It promises to be a fascinating and provocative experience, with plenty of opportunity for the audience to engage with guest speakers.
*subject to availability
Date: Sunday 27 November 2011
Time: 11:00 – 18:15 (Tea and coffee available from 10:30)
Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside,               London, SE1 9DT
Tickets: £35 (including tea and coffee)
Booking: Shakespeare’s Globe Box Office: Tel: 020 7401 9919
Booking opens: 17 October 2011
Click here for the programme schedule in pdf format.

Whalen on Greenblatt’s review of Bate in Dec. 17 New York Review of Books

Review of a review: For Harvard’s Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespeare biographies must be boldly imaginary.
Richard F. Whalen
Since Shakespeare biographies must necessarily be mostly imaginary, they should be written without anxiety, inhibitions or fear, argues Harvard’s Stephen Greenblatt, a leading Shakespeare scholar and author of his own imaginary biography of the Stratford man as Shakespeare.
In a long review of Jonathan Bate’s Soul of the Age (2008), Greenblatt contends that Bate’s biography, although also mostly imaginary, falls short of his standard of uninhibited, anxiety-free, fearless confidence. “Do it with local color,” Greenblatt commands. “Work in all you know. Make them [your readers] accomplices.”
“Given the paucity of evidence,” Greenblatt says, “that enterprise demands speculation, imaginative daring and narrative cunning.” In effect, if there are not enough biographical facts, dare to trick the reader by cleverly making them up. If Greenblatt prevails, future Shakespeare biographies will have to be shelved in the section for fiction.
Greenblatt’s stinging and provocative critique of Bate’s biography for being insufficiently imaginary appears in the December 17, 2009 issue of The New York Review of Books (56:20) as “Shakespeare in No-Man’s-Land.” Greenblatt’s own imaginary biography, Will in the World (1997), follows his prescriptions for a Shakespeare biography. It opens boldly and unapologetically with the words in capital letters, “LET US IMAGINE”.
In Greenblatt’s opinion, Bate’s imaginary Shakespeare biography is too timid: “The spectacle of anxiety in Bate’s book goes well beyond the ordinary signals of caution.”
Greenblatt notes correctly that the usual qualifiers such as “could have” and “may well have” are the “stock-in-trade of Shakespeare biographies.” He adds that biographers are subject to “professional policing” by scholars intent on catching mistakes and “shaming those guilty of carelessness, rashness, or ignorance.” This threat, Greenblatt says, “can produce a painful aura of fear and inhibition, especially among those whose very gifts make them most sensitive to criticism.” That is to say, Jonathan Bate.
In this belated review of Bate’s 2008 book, Greenblatt complains about Bate’s “skittishness” and his “uneasiness about his own project.” He says Bate’s “nervous” shifting of tenses from dramatic present to historical past “suggests a writer uncomfortable with what he is doing.” Bate tries to use “action prose” of sentence fragments “but his heart is clearly not in them.”
“Where does this leave the beleaguered biographer?” asks Greenblatt. He answers: “In a no-man’s-land of swirling hypotheticals and self-canceling speculations; stillborn claims that expire at the moment they draw their first breath.”
Greenblatt gives what he calls a brief sampling from Bate’s book:
It is not outrageous to imagine…
Could it have been at the same age…?
Could he be the voice not only of Guy but also of William…?
Could he have been Shakespeare’s apprentice in the acting company?
It seems more than fortuitous that…
It is unlikely to be a coincidence that…
Guesswork of course, but I have a hunch that…
I have an instinctive sense that…
It is hard not to notice…
We cannot rule out the possibility that…
Could it then be that…?
One of the two could easily have been…
He may well have been there…
The players may well have been…
This could have been the occasion…
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that…
…requires us to countenance the possibility that…
It is not very clear, however, how Bate’s alleged anxiety, inhibition and fear as demonstrated above differs that much from Greenblatt’s own style of imagining and hedging. Here is a brief sampling of the way Greenblatt wrote his Will in the World(2004), with emphasis added:
In the summer of 1585, William of Stratford “may have been working in the glover”s shop, perhaps, or making a bit of money as a teacher’s or a lawyer’s assistant. In his spare time he must have continued to write poetry, practice the lute, hone his skills as a fencer – that is, work on his ability to impersonate the lifestyle of a gentleman. His northern sojourn,assuming he had one, was behind him. If in Lancashire he had begun a career as a professional player, he must, for the moment at least, have put it aside. And if he had a brush with the dark world of Catholic conspiracy, sainthood, and martyrdom–the world that took Campion to the scaffold – he must still more decisively have turned away from it with a shudder.
As it happens, Greenblatt and Bate, both leading establishment Shakespeare scholars, are head-to-head competitors in academic publishing. Greenblatt is a chaired professor of humanities at Harvard University. Bate is a professor at the University of Warwick. Each is general editor of a complete, annotated works of Shakespeare: Greenblatt’s from Norton in 1997 and Bate’s more recently from Random House, in 2007. Shortly after its publication, the queen awarded Bate the honorary title of Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
In his own Shakespeare biography, Greenblatt laid claim to frankly imaginary biography that for all its speculations is uninhibited and anxiety-free. “It is important,” he wrote in the preface to that book, “to use our own imagination” since “nothing provides a clear link” between Shakespeare”s works and the life of William of Stratford. (See my review of his book in the winter 2005 issue of Shakespeare Matters.)
Greenblatt repeats that theme in his review of Bate’s book:
. . . despite feverish attempts to comb the archives and find further documentary records of Shakespeare’s life, very little has turned up in the last century. . . . The paucity of new discoveries has not inhibited the constant writing of new biographies. (I am guilty of one of them.) The lure is almost irresistible, and with good reason.
The irresistible lure of course is the enduring cultural importance and the aesthetic power and intensity of the Shakespeare plays and poems. Everyone wants to know more about the poet-dramatist.
Greenblatt says:
Never mind that he left so few traces of himself. Never mind that that none of his personal letters or notes or drafts survive; that no books with his marginal annotations have turned up; that no police spy was ordered to ferret out his secrets; that no contemporary person thought to jot down his table talk or solicit his views on life or art. Never mind that Shakespeare–son of a middle-class provincial glover–flew below the radar of ordinary Elizabethan and Jacobean social curiosity. The longing to encounter him and know him endures.
“Given the paucity of the evidence,” Greenblatt asserts that writing a Shakespeare biography “demands (emphasis added) speculation, imaginative daring and narrative cunning, but these are all qualities that arouse the scholar’s suspicion and anxiety. Bate’s attempts to enter the life-world of his subject are underwhelming.”
As a committed Stratfordian (so far), Greenblatt never questions whether “the paucity of evidence” might suggest that Will Shakspere of Stratford was not the great poet-dramatist and that someone else must have been. He never raises the issue of William Shakespeare’s identity, an issue of which he is fully aware. In this 3,300-word review of Bate’s book, he argues from his position of authority at Harvard that biographies of the Stratford man as the great poet-dramatist can only be imaginary. Oxfordians can certainly agree with that.
The Greenblatt review may be purchased for $3 or by subscription at:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=23499

Bill Moyers and Smirking Chimp: An Oasis in a Food Desert

An Oasis in a Food Desert
Bill Moyers's picture
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by Bill Moyers | October 26, 2013 - 9:25am
— from BillMoyers.com
On this week's Moyers & Company, historian and author Peter Dreier tells us that the current political crisis is fraught with possibility for progressives in America -- and shares the reasons he continues to be optimistic, including dynamic grass roots initiatives around the country.
"All over America right now there are people fighting back on a grassroots level. The people in Richmond, Calif., are suffering and they're not being patient. They are fighting back against Wall Street. They are taking their own lives into their own hands. And that's happening all over the country."
He highlights SeaTac, Wash., where the city council is about to vote on a $15 minimum wage for the people who live in that town; the Dream Defenderstaking over the governor's office in Florida; the Moral Mondays initiative in North Carolina; the New Era Windows factory in Chicago; the coalition of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the Teamsters Union, the Sierra Club and national and local community groups that forced the Port of Los Angeles to clean up its act, to create a clean trucks program, to clean up the environment; the studentsfighting the fossil fuel industry by demanding that their colleges divest from the major fossil fuel companies that are causing global warming.
"There are these victories happening, there are these hopeful signs. And if the media gave more attention to them, Americans would realize change is possible. So it's only because people don't know about them because they're not in the mainstream media that people think that things are hopeless. But they're not hopeless. People on the ground are making change and they're building a movement that's going to have lasting impact. And we need to spread that message."
In this report, producer Karla Murthy visits America's first nonprofit grocery store, the Fare & Square, which is bringing fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy to Chester, Pa., a community that has struggled to find healthy food options since the city's last supermarket closed in 2001.

Chester, home to 35,000 people, has been designated a food desert, a low-income area lacking easy access to healthy food, by the US government. For the residents of Chester the Fare & Square grocery store -- seven years in the making -- is a welcome relief: "It's a beautiful supermarket," said employee Geraldine Carter.
The store is the brainchild of Bill Clark, the executive director of Philabundance, a nonprofit hunger relief organization. Chester has a 36 percent poverty rate and unemployment is 13 percent. Clark said at one time Chester had five grocery stores, but they all closed when the city fell on hard times after manufacturing virtually disappeared.
About half of the city's residents don't own a car making it difficult and costly to travel to a supermarket. As Clark put it: "To bring a gallon of milk is a hardship if you have to use two buses to get home."
So far 60 percent of Chester's families have signed up for free membership to the Fare & Square, which allows shoppers with annual incomes equal to or less than twice the federal poverty level to receive a seven percent store credit every time they shop. About 60 percent of shoppers are using benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to pay for their food.
The 16,000-square-foot store receives funding from the government, foundations and corporations, as well as individuals. The goal is to one day be financially self-sustaining, but it's still early days, so a time frame has yet to be set.
Now the question is: Can the Fare & Square be a model for other food deserts in America, home to 13.5 million Americans looking for fresh food?
Producer and Editor Karla Murthy
Camera/Associate Producer Alexandra Nikolchev
Moyers & Company airs weekly on public television. Explore more atBillMoyers.com.

ABOUT AUTHORBill Moyers is managing editor of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.
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good cheap food

In San Diego we are lucky because we have very many older, smaller grocery/produce stores with inexpensive fruit and vegetables--very inexpensive and very delicious. We have a nice selection of fruits including mangos and strawberries, and plenty of vegetables, too. These small stores can be seen everywhere from North Park, South Park and all the way to Bario Logan. Most of San Diego is actually quite mixed in income levels, if that would be a difference between us and the rest of the country as far as food availability. We have the Food Bowl in South Park which also has a fresh meat counter that serves the best tamales and tacos on the weekends.
chloelouise's picture
Submitted by chloelouise on October 28, 2013 - 10:46am.

Candida Moss: Bill O'Reilly F's Up Killing Jesus

Five things Bill O’Reilly flubs in 'Killing Jesus'
October 4th, 2013
07:09 PM ET

Five things Bill O’Reilly flubs in 'Killing Jesus'

Opinion by Candida Moss, Special to CNN
(CNN)--Bill O’Reilly’s "Killing Jesus: A History" is the best-selling book in the world right now. But it’s far from flawless.
The Holy Spirit may have inspired "Killing Jesus," but he didn’t fact-check it.
Here are five ways it shows: 
1. Not everything Roman historians tell you is true
Of the first 80 or so pages of "Killing Jesus," only 15 are about Jesus himself. The rest is history, biography, and politics of the ancient Mediterranean. Much of this is gleaned from Roman and Jewish historians like the imperial biographer Suetonius and the Jewish general Josephus.
These are authors that O’Reilly trusts implicitly. Maybe it’s because Suetonius reads like the National Enquirer, maybe it’s because the Romans loved eagles, but whatever the reason, O’Reilly gives them too much credit.
The Romans were fantastic record-keepers but had different standards for their history writing. O’Reilly refers to the acta diurna – a sort of proto-newspaper recording political events, marriages, and divorces that was read aloud in public – as evidence for accuracy in Roman record-keeping.
But he is wrong to see these as transparent statements of fact.
They were propagandistic: the Roman orator Cicero complains that he is misrepresented in the daily reports, and the Roman governor Pliny retells a story he had heard in which a dog jumped in the river after his deceased owner. It’s a little more Buzzfeed than Wall Street Journal.
2. Paul was not a Christian
According to O’Reilly, Paul was “a former Pharisee who became a convert to Christianity.” Paul was not a Christian; he was a Jew who moved from one branch of Judaism to another.
He never uses the word Christian. It seems that the early members of the Jesus movement referred to themselves as followers of “the Way.”
The word Christian wasn’t used until the end of the first century C.E. The first generation of Jesus' followers lived and died as Jews.
3. The Pharisees were not self-righteous bloviators.
The same old caricature of Pharisees as “arrogant,” “haughty,” and legalistic pervades the book. There is biblical support for this view from the Gospels, but O’Reilly and Dugard claim to be writing history and separating ”myth” from “fiction.”
For the past 30 years, scholarship on the Pharisees has shown that the Pharisees were not hyper-legalistic hypocrites. To make things worse, the authors seem to think that John the Baptist told the Pharisees either to burn or be condemned to hell (a rather peculiar reading of Luke 3:17).
The irony here is that our modern stereotypes of the Pharisees are grounded in Protestant critiques of Catholicism. Protestant Reformers saw Catholics as just like the biblical Pharisees, championing faith through works, and lumped the two groups together as legalizers and hypocrites. O’Reilly and Dugard, being Catholic, are actually stereotyping themselves.
4. Jesus was/wasn’t political
Any follower of Internet memes knows that Jesus can be made to say anything. O’Reilly has vacillated between saying (on his television show "The O’Reilly Factor") that Jesus was not political and arguing in his book that Jesus died to interrupt the revenue stream from the Temple and Rome and that "Jews everywhere long for the coming of a messiah ... [because] Rome will be defeated and their lives will be free of taxation and want."
Even though there’s no evidence for a direct financial link between the Temple and Rome, there’s no doubt that Jesus advocated for the poor. But O’Reilly needs to make up his mind. Is Jesus the man of the people seeking to liberate the oppressed from a heavy tax burden, or is he a peaceful man of God just trying to make a difference?
5. History isn’t just a word, it’s a discipline
O’Reilly acknowledges (correctly) that it’s difficult to look past the agendas of his sources and separate the myth from the history.
Historians prefer early sources and events that are documented in multiple (preferably independent) sources. O’Reilly puts all of this aside and cherry-picks episodes from whichever Gospel version he seems to prefer.
He will sometimes omit stories if they seem historically implausible, but he doesn’t do this consistently. He omits Jesus' words, from the Gospel of Luke, as he is being crucified: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  In his CBS interview he explained that it was impossible for people to speak audibly while they were crucified. Fair enough; but then why does he include Jesus’s final words from the Gospel of John: “It is finished”? Is there something about the word “forgiveness” that sticks in the throat?
Apart from the methodological problems, the entire book is written in the style of a novel, not a history book. We hear the thoughts of Herod as he orders the execution of the male children of Bethlehem, for instance. It’s entertaining, but it’s historical fan fiction, not history.
Editor’s Note: Candida Moss is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Myth of Persecution.
 - CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith Now • Jesus • Opinion • T

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