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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ego and the Interpersonality

I think Brook is very influenced by his work on the Bhagavad Gita, which he
sees as essentially the same story (Arjuna as Hamlet and Krishna as
Horatio). There too the issue is "Taint not your mind". Or, to put it in
somewhat less spiritual and more materialist terms:

"These events show the young man, already somewhat stout, making the most
ineffective use of the new approach to Reason which he has picked up at the
university of Wittenberg. In the feudal business to which he returns it
simply hampers him. Faced with irrational practices, his reason is utterly
unpractical." (Brecht on Theatre, p. 202)

Aye, there's the rub. By creating an imaginary environment called Reason
and then adapting to that instead of to Nature red in tooth and claw, human
beings have opted out of the laws of evolution, but at the same time failed
to really put anything workable in their place: as Halliday likes to say,
the first attempts by humans to create designed solutions which will
replace evolved ones (land reform, Esperanto, public education, heavier
than air flight) are always failures, because humans do not take the
natural environment and its evolved solutions seriously enough. Icarus is
not simply, as Auden writes, an unimportant failure tumbling from the sky;
Icarus's tragedy is that he simply does not include enough information from

My father, as a graduate student, took part in the hydrogen bomb tests on
the Bikini Atoll. These tests had the effect of wiping the natural
environment of a group of Marshall Islanders from the face of the earth.
But within a few years I was born with a birth defect which would, in
another age, have resulted in almost immediate infant death (one reason why
I decided not to have children despite a lifelong interest in child
development). From the fate of the Bikini Islanders (ditto the blind,
blundering way that humans have walked backwards into global warming) we
can easily see that our conquest of nature has, for the most part, failed
to substitute acts of human reason for the violence of natural law in much
the same way as Hamlet fails.

Brook points out that Hamlet is really Shakespeare's plagiarism of a rival
blockbuster, probably by Thomas Kyd, playing near concurrently just
downriver from the Globe. He's reconstructing the play more or less from
memory, and being Shakespeare, his imagination reaches a good bit beyond
his powers of recall. This results in the notorious contradictions of fact
in the play (Horatio is and is not a foreigner; the play within a play is
both two and four months after the wedding, etc) but also in a very
striking heterogeneity in the writing (the tedious and cruel jokes at
Polonius's expense, the filthy banter of Hamlet with Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern,alongside the breathtaking poetry of Horatio describing dawn
over the ramparts of Elsinore).

So Brook is trying to entirely eliminate the earlier play, by Kyd, from
Hamlet and produce only the work of Shakespeare, the poet, This isn't
entirely a matter of taste: Kyd was a sensationalist, and Shakespeare's
violent reaction against Kyd's gratuitous violence is what produces this
dialogic, anti-melodramatic drama.

David Kellogg

On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 5:12 AM, HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com> wrote:

> David,
> Nice! I was totally struck by the hugs between father and son in the Brook
> version. A bit later Hamlet might have been thinking of those hugs when he
> said: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,than are dreamt
> of in your philosophy.” And, the Brook version is so much warmer. Hamlet a
> person of color, in color. Agency and culture. Something worth dying for.
> Love. These two clips were great!
> Henry
> > On Apr 17, 2015, at 3:49 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > In "Psychology of Art" Vygotsky apprehends the so-called "Hamlet" enigma:
> > why doesn't Hamlet just go and do it? Why all the dilly-dallying, the
> > shilly-shallying, the hesitation and tergiversation? Vygotsky concludes
> > that the "Hamlet enigma" is really a curtain painted over the whole
> > painting. That is, the play is, itself, a study of how volition is and is
> > not created.
> >
> > It is, as Vygotsky later says, the key question in the whole of
> > psychology--the question of how we make decisions and then these
> > self-given decisions and not the God-given environment become the nature
> to
> > which the human animal must adapt.
> >
> > Consdier this 1964 Soviet version of Act 1 Scene 5--in Russian!--by
> Gregory
> > Kozintsev:
> >
> >
> >
> > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vp5Rz0LqUSM
> >
> >
> >
> > The film score was written by Shostakovich. But there is no music in this
> > clip--just the music of speech.
> >
> >
> >
> > Compare this version--by Peter Brook.
> >
> >
> >
> > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT5rLk40fnM
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Kozintsev cuts precisely the line that Brook considers the most important
> > line in all of Shakespeare. The Ghost says:
> >
> >
> > "Taint not thy mind!" (10:52 on the Brook clip)
> >
> >
> > Meaning, you must somehow carry out this murder, without destroying your
> > own soul--you must avenge me, but not vengefully--you must kill out of
> love
> > for your mother and for your motherland.
> >
> >
> > I think that BOTH Kozintsev and Brook consider this line a complete
> > contradiction. This line is why Hamlet hesitates and why he cannot seem
> to
> > perform the murder for four long hours, and when he does kill the king it
> > has almost nothing to do with vengeance (it is only when he has seen the
> > king murder his own mother and when he knows that he too is dying
> anyway).
> >
> >
> > Kozintsev cuts the line and makes the play into self-directed
> > narrative, the source of Bruner's "ego". But Brook keeps the line, and
> as a
> > result the play becomes more Shakespearean, more dialogic, and much
> closer
> > to the source of the ego, the interpersonality.
> >
> > David Kellogg