Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Two GREAT Reads

Today starts with Dr. Shoja and then Hudson (age 13) arrives to stay overnight whilst his mom visits her mother. I won’t get down to work on the marble dress until Thursday. I’m still reeling from the discovery that Seagram’s actually distributes their font for free.
The marble dress skirt will resemble the Seagram’s bag that every kid used for their marbles when I was in elementary school and it has their logo prominently displayed on it. I figured I would have to create the logo by hand until I happened to discover the font. Praise Jesus. (I’m kidding.)
Besides being thrilled with the font, I am thrilled to be trying something new with this dress besides gluing marbles forever. I’m going to flock the dress to create a new texture for my dress collection. My dress should look lovely and soft and rich in texture when it is done.
I’ve already started thinking about what to do for number ten. — and that’s disappointing; I’ve just been through a week of stressful thinking about what to do for number nine.
I am a man of many heroes. Nothing pleases me more than a biography of a brilliant thinker and it’s even better when the genius who’s captured my mind and imagination happens to be gay. That was the case when I binge read everything by Oliver Sacks and read the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Oscar Wilde.
On Sunday, I read a truly remarkable long-form essay about Alexander von Humboldt. He was called, during his lifetime, “the world’s greatest living man.” It is a review and encapsulation of the book, The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science, by Andrea Wulf. It’s published in the Sydney Review of Books. You can read it here. It’s long but it’s delicious.
It’s absolutely beyond me how this man is not widely known today when so many people whom he inspired and with whom he collaborated are famous.
In college, I took every course on Shakespeare offered. I visited Stratford Upon Avon, wrote a competition to see a First Folio edition of his plays and even acted in two of his plays. However, since graduating, I have not kept up with Shakespearean scholarship so I was astounded to read these sentences in the February 19th, 2017, New Yorker:
The New Oxford Shakespeare, for which Taylor serves as lead general editor, is the first edition of the plays to credit Christopher Marlowe as a co-author of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI,” Parts 1, 2, and 3. It lists co-authors for fourteen other plays as well, ushering a host of playwrights—Thomas Nashe, George Peele, Thomas Heywood, Ben Jonson, George Wilkins, Thomas Middleton, and John Fletcher, along with Marlowe—into the big tent of the complete works.
It’s no longer controversial to give other authors a share in Shakespeare’s plays—not because he was a front for an aristocrat, as conspiracy theorists since the Victorian era have proposed, but because scholars have come to recognize that writing a play in the sixteenth century was a bit like writing a screenplay today, with many hands revising a company’s product. The New Oxford Shakespeare claims that its algorithms can tease out the work of individual hands—a possibility, although there are reasons to challenge its computational methods.
I was astounded to read how computer-based analysis of linguistic patterns of the writings of all these authors mentioned facilitated the New Oxford Shakespeare’s deductions. And to read why:
But there is a deeper argument made by the edition that is both less definitive and more interesting. It’s not just that Shakespeare collaborated with other playwrights, and it’s not just that Shakespeare was one of a number of great Renaissance writers whose fame he outstripped in the ensuing centuries. It’s that the canonization of Shakespeare has made his way of telling stories—especially his monarch-centered view of history—seem like the norm to us, when there are other ways of telling stories, and other ways of staging history, that other playwrights did better.
This article, too, is long but it’s a fascinating read. You can read it here.

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