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TOPIC: A Flagellation and Shakespeare

A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2200

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Some things are obvious (like I don't know how to control the size of the following).

[attachment=0:2tjlg6np]<!-- ia0 -->flagellation.jpg<!-- ia0 -->[/attachment:2tjlg6np]

Take this painting, for one - it is by Piero della Francesca, an Italian artist of the 15th Century. It is quite famous - was painted around 1459 and can be found in Urbino (one of the truly memorably named towns).

It shows a flagellation - a whipping ...

... and is quite disturbing and thought provoking when you look at it in detail - just what are those three men in the foreground? Who is the man sitting down with the silly hat on? Why is the guy with his back to us wearing a turban? What sort of whipping is this with such a bloodless and calm man on the end of it?

Therein lies the problem - the artist is asking the questions - is provoking thought and condensing ambiguity in the picture. This is in modern dress - why? There is a very rigid formal look to the picture - why? He has done things intended not to answer but to question.

This is a big problem for the critics - it is the job of a critic to disambiguate .. to make clear what is murky, to clean off the detritus and tell us the answers. Art critics delight in telling us what each and every symbol means, what each and every brush stroke was meant for; they expose and reveal the mystery.

Except there is a big problem with that - if the artist is truly great, and wanted there to be ambiguity and mystery, the work won't reveal what is not there - there is no answer, there is only a question.

The critic's supposition is that s/he is more intelligent, more refined, more knowledgeable than the artist. Arrogance at least - and not the sort based on a strong foundation.

So too with Shakespeare and his texts - countless generations of critics have revealed the 'true' meaning, only to be superseded by a better truth and a better 'critic'.

Reams of paper and reams of editions, with reams of answers to questions Shakespeare doesn't answer - and many to questions Shakespeare doesn't ask.

And the arrogance of the critics knows no bounds - they nod in the direction of Shakespeare's greatness, but then knock it by attempting to reveal what was hidden - for their capacity to reveal is greater than his to hide.

(Thanks to the unknown artist who pointed out the intelligence needed to have painted The Flagellation on a tv programme I saw last night.)
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2205

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akfarrar: The critic's supposition is that s/he is more intelligent, more refined, more knowledgeable than the artist. Arrogance at least - and not the sort based on a strong foundation.
All of us tend toward arrogance when we become proponents of a new-found "Truth"-especially when we can claim it as our own; possibly because the work it has taken to arrive at that truth, coupled with the elation concurrent with finding something that makes sense results in what appears to be an overbearing zealotry. Witness your sweeping statement above, which, although true in many cases, displays many characteristics of The Critic you would eschew; a totality and finality that blankets subject, object, category--all.
It's TRUE--but not true in the strictest, most absolute sense you chose to state it.

akfarrar: Therein lies the problem - the artist is asking the questions - is provoking thought and condensing ambiguity in the picture.
ART not only imitates, it also CRITIQUES NATURE, in an attempt to answer Ultimate Questions. Would you suppose then, that the Artist hasn't "studied on" anything, looking for an Answer?--or that there aren't "answers" that make more sense, or are embraced by the artist more readily than others?--nonsense.

akfarrar:So too with Shakespeare and his texts - countless generations of critics have revealed the 'true' meaning, only to be superseded by a better truth and a better 'critic'.
Perhaps "different" would be a "better" choice of words?--as different as Shakespeare himself so obviously was. We all have "truths"; are mine the same as yours? While it's true that in his ambiguity Shakespeare leaves the Question unanswered, he also raises the red flag of inquiry in a very big way. Someone who asks so many questions is really answering through the very form he uses to ask those questions-- the answer is: "The 'Truth' is that there are many 'truths' ". Shakespeare knew this. To lambaste so severely, those (even though SOME might fit the description) who search for those answers, with such a large brush as is yours, discourages investigation of any sort. Ambiguity demands inquiry (at least to anyone with all the synapses firing in proper succession). You seem to have forgotten the virtues of Ambiguity; though you champion them.
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2206

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Not convinced you've actually understood the point of the post!

An ambiguous statement by the way.

:roll:
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2207

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akfarrar: Not convinced you've actually understood the point of the post!


Very possible.
I simply addressed the most glaring UN-ambiguous pronouncements.
If they weren't intended to make any 'points', perhaps the author is the one better-equipped to explain why they don't.
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2208

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Willshill wrote:
akfarrar: Not convinced you've actually understood the point of the post!


Very possible.
I simply addressed the most glaring UN-ambiguous pronouncements.
If they weren't intended to make any 'points', perhaps the author is the one better-equipped to explain why they don't.

There we go - a classic 'critic' technique - not understanding, applying a meaning and getting it wrong, so demanding a meaning where there is an ambiguity.

There certainly IS an ambiguity in the whole post - start with the title, look at my first line, move on through the picture - which I've posted for a very good reason - in fact, stop treating it as if it is what it is not ...

I'm posting on ambiguity and there is an ambiguity to what I've posted.
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2209

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akfarrar:- in fact, stop treating it as if it is what it is not ...


The only one here treating anything as if it is what it is not, is the Issuant of ABSOLUTE, DEFINITIVE, CRITICAL STATEMENTS, CRITICIZING AND CONDEMNING, in no uncertain or "ambiguous" terminology...
and I once again quote:
akfarrar: The critic's supposition is that s/he is more intelligent, more refined, more knowledgeable than the artist. Arrogance at least - and not the sort based on a strong foundation.

and:
akfarrar:So too with Shakespeare and his texts - countless generations of critics have revealed the 'true' meaning, only to be superseded by a better truth and a better 'critic'.

Said CRITIC seems to be conveniently oblivious to his own arrogance when it comes to telling us exactly what and how we should think--he will, in fact, critique, define, condemn, and summarily dismiss, without the slightest notion that he might be held responsible for his not so subtle 'commentary' (to put it mildly) on a subject.--he simply chooses "not to discuss it" because the reader "just doesn't get it".akfarrar: Not convinced you've actually understood the point of the post!--BUNK

Sorry--I refuse to bask in the glow (or be blinded by the smoke) of your overarching theming, while you DEFINE FOR ME, AT WILL, WHAT YOU WILL, with an expected impunity that is, to say the least, baffling--and a seeming self-blinding bulwark against having to defend your own VERY LARGE and UNEQUIVOCAL and CONCLUSIVELY AUTHORITATIVE statements-- about...Ambiguity (LOL)...and how 'Critics' couldn't possibly understand or appreciate its worth--MORE BUNK.

--As though none of them were qualified to discuss, analyze, or contemplate the answers woven in and out of that ambiguity in Shakespeare?--just where then--and what--do we have left...your Blog?

Once again, as in the 2 Gents thread, I was willing to sit the fence, attempting to open a dialogue on what you claimed --but you won't discuss-- only accuse and dismiss. Poor excuses for one so smart as you.

This is THE page for discussion on Ambiguity and Literary and Artistic Criticism, is it not?--I thought so.
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 3 months ago #2212

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Shan't actually bother reading all of that:

The Title - A Flagellation and Shakespeare.

Carefully chosen to give a warning as to the nature of what is to follow.

Does the word flagellation refer only to the painting or is there something more to it than that?

Am I referring to the subject of the painting or to the critical response to the painting - which in turn has included questioning the nature of the flagellation in the painting - and its ambiguous nature.

The critics of this painting have been 'flagellated' by at least one artist for their certainties and reduction to 'meaning' of what has no definitive meaning (is that Christ or is it 'a modern' imagining it is Christ - is it Everyman?).

Is my post not only about the flagellation painting but also a flagellation of critics?

But there is a problem there - most christians in fact would regard the flagellation of Christ as undeserved - a mockery of honesty and good works.

Am I suggesting then that what is to follow is in fact unjustified and a mockery of the good honest work of the critics?

If I've included that degree of 'ambiguity' in my title (and every one of them was intended and thought about before posting the original on my blog), you better beware of any certainty you see in what follows.

To the first line:
Some things are obvious (like I don't know how to control the size of the following).

which, after the title, suggests not in fact an obviousness - but an irony: (in the bracket was a piece of serendipity - not only can I not reduce the physical size of the picture - but I can't reduce the ... well, work it out for yourself. My original does not include the line, but it was included here with a double meaning - but is it true?).

The painting itself - why have I included it rather than just referenced it? What do you see?

etc etc ....

I don't propose to go through every point - but will warn anyone reading it to work a bit harder than finding surface only meanings.

And I'd think about the idea of 'voice' too - whose is it written in, is it consistent?

:twisted:
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A Flagellation and Shakespeare 8 years 2 months ago #2215

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Shan't actually bother reading all of that:


Shan't actually bother commenting on the extent of the protracted back peddling I actually just did read.


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