Bread on Waters

I saw a man with a bag of seed. He looked at the sky to discern the weather, and decided tomorrow would be a better day to plant. The next day, he invented instruments to test the humidity and to predict the wind, and decided that tomorrow would be a better day to plant. And tomorrow and tomorrow . . . . Continue Reading »

Historicist Reduction of Freud

As Jones presents it, the logic of repression of sexual desires is as follows: 1) The desires are most likely to be repressed are those that are socially disapproved, disapproved by the “herd.” 2) We unconsciously push back those disapproved desire. The imagery is hydraulic: Repressing . . . . Continue Reading »

What Psychology Taught Us

Ernest Jones notes an essential contribution of modern psychology: “We are beginning to see man not as the smooth, self-acting agent he pretends to be, but as he really is, a creature only dimly conscious of the various influences that mould his thought and action, and blindly resisting with . . . . Continue Reading »

Plus choses changent

Long before Greenblatt and the New Historicists, Shakespeare had been interpreted as a commentator on the religious or political circumstances of Elizabethan England. Among the interpretations of Hamlet summarized by Ernest Jones in his essay on Oedipus and Hamlet (first published in 1910!) are the . . . . Continue Reading »

Jesus’ Thoughts

Donald Macleod offers some intriguing insights in his IVP book on the Person of Christ: In many respects, Jesus’ human knowledge was like our own, as He learned about His Father through revelation: “his own capacity for such knowledge would differ significantly from that of ordinary . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Act 1

Still more. ACT 1, SCENE 1 Several things about the first scene are worth examining. First, the play begins on a cold and bitter night on the ramparts of Elsinore. The darkness provides a fitting setting for the revelation that the world is out of joint, that something is rotten in the state of . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Texts

More notes toward a lecture. Shakespeare’s Hamlet exists in three significantly different forms. The earliest published text, the First Quarto or the “Bad Quarto,” appeared in 1603. Though recognizably Shakespeare’s play, it is different in many significant ways, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Hamlet: Sources

Some notes toward a lecture on Hamlet. When Shakespeare put the story of Hamlet on stage in the early seventeenth century, the story was already an old one. Saxo Grammaticus, a 12th-century monk, told the story of Amleth, Prince of Jutland in his Historiae Danicae. According to Saxo’s version . . . . Continue Reading »

Girardian Dickens

Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities rings the changes on the Girardian dynamic of mimetic violence. Blood evokes and demands more blood, until an oppressive and disordered ancien regime collapses into chaos. And the only path out of the game of violence and counter-violence is through Sidney . . . . Continue Reading »

“Natural” architecture

In an overview of the architectural work of Santiago Calatrava, Sara Williams Goldhagen (TNR January 23) cautions against the chimera of architecture grounded in “nature”: “Maybe the first architects needed to pay obeisance to nature’s designs, but that primal moment is long . . . . Continue Reading »