Ooooh, well done. In one small post you’ve actually curbed my enthusiasm for Makorra again.
I like how fandom kills ships I have a hope of liking.
And people wonder why I stick with tertiary characters.
It is completely possible for him to energybend. People, not the Avatars, used to energybend but the knowledge died out. The only requirement is that he has a true heart and true mind which could mean anything. It doesn’t have to mean that the man must be pure or innocent like Aang.
Every. fucking. semester. It’s gotten worse since that stupid Anonymous movie came out. Students who have had me before start giggling nervously as soon as the question is asked, as I stand up there fuming and preparing to launch into my rant.
I… wanna hear your rant.
Okay. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.
(I am going to preface this by saying that I have never met anyone who does Shakespeare for a living that actually takes any of this stuff seriously, and the only reason we have to even learn about the conspiracy theories is so we can yell at people who bring them up in class. This stuff is not a real controversy, any more than whether the pyramids were built by aliens like that orange guy on the History Channel says is a real controversy.)
Shakespeare conspiracy theories develop as the result of one or more of the following missteps:
1) Sheer classism.
These are your Baconians and Oxfordians, as well as a whole slew of old rich white guys who are descended from some other old rich white guys and want to prove that their ancestor was the true author. These are your “no glovemaker’s son could have written the greatest literature in the English language” types, who have apparently missed that whole radical rise of the new middle class thing going on in the sixteenth century (lol Thomas More whut?). These are your “no one who wasn’t a courtier could ever write a believable facsimile of court life” guys, even though plenty of people had written about court life and Shakespeare knew aristocrats and had access to their libraries. This kind of blatant snobbery has been the backbone of Shakespeare authorship conspiracy theories from the beginning and continues to be an undercurrent, and I have no patience for it.
2) A misunderstanding of Renaissance education.
This is usually closely tied to the classism stuff. No one without a university education could have written Shakespeare’s plays, they say, because they don’t realize that the Renaissance was a period of major educational reform led by guys like Mulcaster and Ascham. Let me tell you a little something about the grammar school education that Shakespeare would have gotten from the ages of seven to fourteen. You were there from six in the morning until five in the evening, Monday through Saturday—about double the hours that students get today. You would read Ovid, Horace, Virgil, Cicero, Seneca, all those guys, in the original Latin. You would translate it into English. And then back into Latin. Again and again, until the original and your translation of your translation matched perfectly. And if you didn’t do it right they would hit you with sticks. It’s like literary boot camp. He probably learned more in those seven years than I did getting my doctorate.
3) Misunderstanding of the sheer volume of literary production during the Renaissance.
These are the guys who think that one person just couldn’t have written as much as Shakespeare did and that it had to have been several dudes. (This is apparently what Derek Jacobi believes. Why you wanna break my heart, Derek Jacobi? I have loved you since you were the voice of Nicodemus in The Secret of NIMH.) Now, we’re talking about thirty-eight plays (give or take a couple apocrypha), 154 sonnets and a handful of long poems. Which isn’t small potatoes, true, but here’s the thing: dudes during the Renaissance wrote a lot. That’s kind of what made it the Renaissance—people were producing insane amounts of quality work. The Faerie Queene is so fucking long that every time I read it I say a little prayer of thanks that Spenser died before he could finish it, and he managed to do that shit while committing genocide. That’s multitasking like whoa. Milton wrote Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and some of the longest, most tedious essays you will ever read (seriously, halfway through you will find yourself throwing the book at the wall and screaming “I will agree with whatever you are arguing as long as I don’t have to read one more of your motherfucking Biblical precedents”), and that motherfucker couldn’t even see. Don’t even get me started on Lope de Vega with his three thousand sonnets and eighteen hundred—EIGHTEEN HUNDRED—plays. I do not know how they did it—they hadn’t even discovered coffee yet—but they did it. If you’re gonna discount Shakespeare on the basis of volume of literary output, you’re gonna have to throw out most of early modern literature with him.
4) Batshit crazy conspiracy theory batshit craziness.
These are your guys who never think there’s enough evidence to prove Shakespeare was the author and take this as proof that he wasn’t. (Look—this was four hundred years ago. People didn’t record stuff as much as we do now, and a lot of what was recorded has been lost. We actually know a lot more about Shakespeare than we do about a lot of other figures during the period.) A lot of them seem to be personally affronted by the fact that Shakespeare, by all accounts, was a pretty boring guy—they have a deep-seated need to believe that interesting literature must have been written by someone more interesting. (Their counterpart among Shakespeareans are the “Shakespeare was a Sooper Sekrit Catholic” guys.) These are your Marlovians in particular, despite the fact that Marlowe spent the majority of Shakespeare’s career being dead from being stabbed in the face. Also your Queen Elizabeth authorship people. The crazier among them think there’s been some kind of huge cover-up to keep the truth hidden. Why don’t you academics want us to know the truth, they scream, as if the military-academic industrial complex has a secret warehouse somewhere full of copies of HAMLET, BY KIT MARLOWE, WITH A FOREWORD BY QUEEN ELIZABETH. We would address their concerns, they say, if we weren’t covering up the truth, whereas in fact we don’t address their concerns because their concerns are stupid and we have papers to grade and shit to do.
Herein concludes the rant.