April 23rd, 2012 • 12:26 AM
Happy Birthday Shakespeare

By Joanne McAndrews

To celebrate the birth of William Shakespeare it is appropriate that we look beyond the general, popularized notions that today's society has of Shakespeare and instead begin to think about Shakespeare's scientific method and his understanding of, and commitment to, the creative powers of the human mind.

First I would like you to consider several challenges that Mr LaRouche has laid out in his recent papers on moving beyond the realm of mere sense-perception, beyond the domain of footprints, to the domain of metaphor. In this context Mr LaRouche points to William Shakespeare as one of the great artists who understood the problem of sense-certainty and demonstrated them in his work. In particular, Mr LaRouche counterposes the way Shakespeare use's the character of Chorus in Henry V with the use of the riddle of “till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane Hill” in Macbeth.

In the paper “The Galaxy, Imperialism and Us: Science – VS. - Oligarchism” Mr LaRouche says:

Henceforth, for the present moment here, I shall usually emphasize the role of metaphor in Classical artistic composition, first, and, after that, later, the role of metaphor in physical science.

For the present moment, I shall limit my argument in this matter, temporarily, to subjects of what can be classed as an ontological quality of irony comparable to Shakespeare’s use, in Shakespeare’s composition of Macbeth, of the notion of an efficient, but false effect of an alleged identity of the drama’s actual “Birnam Forest,” and of a certain resemblance of the simulation of the “moving grove” of author Shakespeare’s artificed simulation of “Birnam Wood,” and of the efficient effect of that cleverly fashioned fantasy, by means of which the fictional Macbeth’s ultimate doom was brought about.

The relevance of the particular case of Shakespeare dramas such as Macbeth, lies precisely in the nature of this distinction of a human fate which hangs between what is wrongly considered to be real, as against what is substantially a real effect of what is merely the effect of a merely imagined cause, or, the use, and the effect of deception to induce belief in the allegedly substantive consequence of what is merely fancy.

So, the real world becomes, for those of us who think clearly of such matters, in the apparent likeness of a stage of such curious dramas as those for which the sight of that which was real, has been mislain. And for what is the substantial outcome of that induced fantasy which has moved what is becoming the fate of the characters of the actors in a mischanced, lost war: a war performed on the crafted reality of the living stage. Compare that with the earlier case of the function performed by the opening, and later interventions by “Chorus” in the intrinsically pathological case which Shakespeare portrays (with historical validity) asHenry V.

Juxtapose such considerations as those to the recent cases of the Republican Party’s current Presidential campaigns, thus far. There is no correspondence between the irrelevant fantasies of those Republican candidates’ public performance “on stage,” and the reality of the situation with which the nation is actually confronted. The roles of the Chorus and the actors on stage from Henry V, when compared with the role of the imagined “Birnam Wood,” have been reversed, and, then, re-reversed!

Such is the essentially tragic quality of the folly entrenched in the popular, deductive notion of “sense-certainty.”

What I have just presented as two illustrations of a crucially important point, is to be compared, for effect, with the crucial point presented in the closing paragraph of Percy Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry. However, none of this is actually to be treated as a mere matter of entertainments. “All the world is” really “a stage,” but that in the same ironical sense as that of Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Nonetheless, despite that which I have said in this matter thus far, we have not yet touched, here, thus far, the essential reality of all of this which I have presented as argument this far. Ask, for example: Shall we devote the passion of our action to what is the real universe, as distinct from mere fantasy, whether fantasy be charming, or not? All actors and poets tell stories, sometimes charming stories; sometimes not, sometimes frauds. Which among these, nonetheless, might be real? On which stage shall we entrust, or enshrine, our true cause?

Dramatic warfare and irony have a certain, crucial kind of likeness. Take war, for an example...

Secondly, I share the remarks of Mr LaRouche, given in response to a question about the above section of his paper. MP3 Audio

...if you don't understand the principle of irony in Classical drama, by the great dramatists, you don't understand anything about science. So you have one thing, just simply the case, is that in one case — okay, Birnam Wood: There is a Birnam Wood, but what's happening is, they're faking him out, by creating an imitation Birnam Wood, by carrying all these branches and so forth, down the hill, and they throw him off-balance, and they use that to outflank him and kill him. And the other thing is, not believing the principles that are true, but believing in a fantasy, being fooled into a fantasy.

And what I use that for, I took essentially, from Henry V, and that particular form, the way the Chorus was used, the voice of Chorus in Henry V, and that does demonstrate it. That's why I used that one, and I took the other aspect of Shakespeare, which is that, and took the Birnam Wood thing, which is another demonstration of exactly how these principles work, in drama, how the mind is oriented or disoriented, in drama. And once you understand that as a scientific method, and can see drama in those terms, then you really understand it.

It's when you try to simulate it, like, you know, how to please an audience. You don't want to please an audience, you really want to transform the audience! You want to change them! They're going in, to think they're seeing a play. You want something to start to come in and grip them! So they're gripped by the performance! They're gripped by a force they don't understand! And they leave the theater, after that effect, and they're tormented by the fact, that something happened to them, something happened to their mind, and their opinion, in the drama onstage! And they don't understand how it worked!

They become fascinated... they feel the effect. Then they go to another drama. They hope it's like the first one. Go through the same experience. Then they begin to come, "What's this principle! How do they do that to me?! They keep doing it to me! This guy Shakespeare, he keeps doing it to me! How does he get by with this crap?"

And that's how the audiences in great drama become cultivated.

Remember, the other aspect to this problem is, we're living in a society where you had successive generations, and I call them, not generations, I call them de-generations. What has happened since the killing of Kennedy, in particular, but it also started earlier with what happened after Roosevelt's death: you had generation after generation; the generation of my generation, by and large degenerated, from what they'd been during the war, they degenerated! Their children, who were born to them, who became the Baby-Boomers, they degenerated still more. Then, we have another generation, which went through a degeneration.

So when you're dealing with this, you can't say, "What's the problem with society?" with the one-term fixit problem with "society." And you can call upon the Shakespeare principle, the principle of Classical drama, and you recognize it's successive generations which determine a direction in the evolution of society. Hmm? And Shakespeare understood this. That's what his dramas involve, including his final dramas, the last ones he did, were all based on that. He was under conditions where the whole society had degenerated! And he's writing these dramas, these closing dramas after that, and he's dealing with that degeneration!

And then, this is taken up again, a century later, in the Classical drama there. And so, that's what happened. So, when you're trying to deal with the problem of society today, when you're trying get at a single-shot explanation, the magic pill, there is no magic as such. What you're having is you have a society, this society has been degenerating morally and intellectually! Every step is a step down, or a slide down a slippery slope. Hmm?

So, in that case, what you have to do, is you have to make a fundamental change in principle — or you can do nothing!”

Finally, I share with you audio recordings of the Shakespeare work that myself and other members of LaRouchePAC have been doing under the guidance of classically trained actor Robert Beltran.

Sonnet 12

Sonnet 90

Sonnet 123

Ophelia - Act 3 Scene 1 Hamlet

* Please follow the Commenting Guidlines.


The Basement Project began in 2006 as a core team of individuals tasked with the study of Kepler's New Astronomy, laying the scientific foundations for an expanded study of the LaRouche-Riemann Science of Physical Economics. Now, that team has expanded both in number, and in areas of research, probing various elements and aspects of the Science of Physical Economy, and delivering in depth reports, videos, and writings for the shaping of economic policy.