On the Wit and Wisdom of Emerson

Posted By on August 27, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the “prophet of New England.” Not a Stratfordian.

The Anti-Stratfordian Ralph Waldo Emerson says that the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. But I hope that by the time you finish my blog you are not left with the feeling that so often seems to hang about our topic, like one of Poe’s fogs, troubling the mind with past secrets that never received needed revelation and mutual forgiveness.

I hope you will not be trapped inside the hypocrisy of believing that the topic of our discussion does not matter. It matters a great deal, although not for the reasons commonly supposed.   If you escape my blog with this idea in your mind, I will have succeeded.

It does matter – and every argument I have heard to the contrary so far is just an ideological smokescreen or a psychological function that is really just a fancy way of saying “buzz off. We don’t talk about that here.”

I mean think about it — it doesn’t matter who the most influential writer on the history of the planet was?  Come on.

What planet are these people on, anyway?  Who do they think they’re kidding?

Of course it matters a great deal who Shakespeare was, if only for the seemingly rudimentary but so readily-overlooked fact that we can never really know ourselves as historical subjects if we allow the bard to remain forever confined in purgatory’s basement, a ghostly but indefinable “other” who we wish would go away and stop troubling us, but who also seems to never cease bothering us when we want to be doing other things.

It is not even true to say that “we have the works,” as if we had found a basket of Noah’s clothing bouncing around in a river and that was that. End of story. We’ve “got” the works?  In which of Aristotle’s modes of “have” is that? Or is it in the “to have is to have” (cf that rascal Touchstone) jingle? We’ve got the works a little like Helen Keller learned the word water, and, sooth to say, chilluns, there’s a flood toward comin’.

 

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, and renaissance literature, the latter a field in which he has published extensively

Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Categories

  • Archives

In "From Crackpot to Mainstream"Keir Cutler, PhD, takes down the recent Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (OUP, 2013)

Criticism of Cutler's "Is Shakespeare Dead?": "A magnificently witty performance!" (Winnipeg Sun). "Highly entertaining and engrossing!" (EYE Weekly). "Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony" (Montreal Gazette).