I am a Part of all that I have Met

Posted By on October 20, 2018

October 18, 2018 Oxfraud Post by “Ben Montanto.”

The line is from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses ,” and it has long been a favorite of mine, for I think it expresses a truth that is both great and profound. For those awake to life, we take the tragedy (witness our current American politics) along with the rare opportunities for human authenticity and our part in the divine comedy. Whether we react against something, by, for example, unfriending some facebook  associate whose political views we find offensive (which I have both done and been done to), or we embrace a lover or friend or discover a new world view or enjoy tea by the fire, we are paying attention to our own responses in the world, questioning the limited value of dividing our experience up by narrow “tribal” affiliation and thinking that  it is good to live primarily by responding against something or someone or that when we do we have cleansed ourselves of whatever caused the rupture.

One place  it is almost impossible to  do this, of course, is in Shakespeare studies, where one-eyed false consciousness is king of the roost, and students are given a hero who never lived a day he didn’t forget, according to leading authorities at places like Harvard, Yale, or Columbia (to name only the most prestigiously wrong).

O well, the authorities will say, he remembered his son when he wrote his play, transposing just one letter from “Hamnet” to Hamlet while forgetting his source for the play, the “Amleth” of  Saxo Grammaticus.  But  in nearly every other way, the  Stratfordian professor must confess, he was about as alienated from life as a biographical subject can be. If he ever saw the cities and minds of men (and women), he left no trace of it in his biography. As Charles Beauclerk has said, the Stratfordian myth is liking going back to Vienna in the mid 18th century and not being able to find anyone who knew or had heard of Mozart.

That, of course, is why the Folger library in 2014 tried to hold a conference on “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography,” a conference that perpetuated a history of error through the public relations trick of  misplacing the word “problem” on the wrong side of the “and,” to peddle the fiction that their own disciplinary problems were the result of the some monstrous overarching problem of biography per se. This is the big lie trick.  When you can’t deal with the facts, argue  the law. When you’re afraid you can’t argue the law, call the Oxfrauds.

They have a very creative public relations team.

These musings are in part inspired by a recent visit to the Oxfraud discussion group on Facebook. Such visits are rare for me. On Oxfraud, I find little worth  sustained attention and much of a dismal swamp of abysmal ignorance that seems to never get beyond frequently and loudly reassuring itself that it represents something credible or authentic and that its very name “Oxfraud,” refers to somebody else, and not to the people who chose that name for themselves.

The Oxfrauds did bestir themselves to a flurry of emails to me at  my Coppin State account some months ago  to try to intimidate me from the joint plan agreed to by myself and the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s board of Trustees to produce an annual volume on the Shakespeare Authorship Question that I was asked to edit. The first volume, on Edward de Vere’s poetry, is in proof stages will be in print before the end of November.  The second, slated for publication August, 2019, will be on teaching the authorship question.

The Oxfrauds objected to these titles because on their face they contradict their mutually beneficial assumptions.  The Frauds (as they are affectionately called among the circles I frequent) believe that 1) the authorship question doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be taught, and 2) even if the authorship question did exist, there would be no more reason to think that the 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the plays than that Elvis Presley did.

This, they believe. Very loudly. Very aggressively. Very creatively.   It never occurred to them that their name contradicts their own argument or that the fact that they don’t believe the authorship question can be taught might explain their own abysmal ignorance.

But if you want to know why the Frauds believe this second point about Elvis, you’ll have to subpoena the emails between Mike Leadbetter and Oxford University’s Professor Jonathan Bate, who not only holds a prestigious post at Oxford University (talk about cosmic irony!) but is also  closely affiliated with the Stratford-Upon-Avon Birthplace Trust, as well (not coincidentally) as the chief proponent of the Oxfrauds in cyber space.

For those unfamiliar with the Birthplace Trust, it is the public relations arm of a business operation with probably at least 500 million US dollars in cash flow a year. The Trust also has a long history of conning the public out of its money with Victorian buildings redesigned to appear authentically Elizabethan or giving them names simply because those names can be used to fleece the public.  Bate is a big booster of Leadbetter’s dismal “Oxfraud”  operation, and on more than one occasion has gone out of his way to advertise this gang of intellectual hoodlums to the wider public as a credible source of information about Shakespeare.

Now, I know there are some Oxfordians who think we should not waste our time fighting with the Oxfrauds or responding to University Professors who cannot distinguish Elvis Presley from Shakespeare, and I want to make it clear that I agree with this. The capital F Frauds  are not worth fighting with, and Jonathan Bate is barely worth trying to answer, because most likely if you do try to answer him, he will fail to approve your comment on his blog site.   You may even discover that Jonathan Bate is too incompetent to consider that  on the internet anyone can take a screenshot of a comment before submission, and therefore thinks he can not only get away with, but actually enhance the credibility of his own position, by  playing the censorship card. Sorry, Professor Bate, that may work in your own classroom, but not on the internet.

These things cannot be fought in a symmetrical manner. When someone with the agenda of covering up his own ignorance refuses to let you speak on his blog, there’s no point in continuing to submit comments to the blog. They won’t be posted no matter what you do.  You must go elsewhere and find a larger audience.

But if the Oxfrauds are not worth fighting, they certainly are worth fighting against, because what they represent is not just dull, shallow, abstemious deference to dubious authority about Shakespeare, but  something even more deeply and fundamentally wrong with our world – namely our fragmented perceptions of reality.

St. Paul says that his followers “see through a glass darkly,” and like most of what is great in the Pauline books, this can be said of everyone, not just Paul’s early Christian parishioners. Perhaps seeing “through a glass” darkly is on some level part of the human condition and unchangeable. In that case the relevant political distinction is between those who know they see through a glass darkly and those who, like the current President of these United States, have twenty-twenty vision on everything 24 hours a day.

Go and take a closer look at Mr. Montanto’s  illustration if you haven’t already done so.  Its a screenshot from a recent post on the Oxfraud facebook page, and it’s definitely worth a much more than a thousand words from one  of Professor Bates’ emails  to Mike Leadbetter or any of the many amusing clips of Professor Bates’s recent testimonies on the authorship question.

Being a curious man, and having never heard of this fellow who wants so badly to imagine that he is banging my head into an anvil with a sledgehammer that he can’t control himself from trying to actualize and advertise his fantasy on Facebook, I wondered what trauma in his life may have led to such extremist views on scholarly topics about which he has not demonstrated the slightest actual  knowledge? Here is what I found when I examined Mr. Montanto’s facebook page.

Ben Montanto’s face to the world.

I mean really. The Frauds can’t do any better than this?  This is what Professor Bate recommends we pay our attention to?








Here is what Tennyson says:

                                           My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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