Shakespeare’s Brain [Flash Fiction]

We are all Hamlet’s kin. Hamlet my brother is my father, I have said. The world is incestuous to start. Certainly we are lately less than kind to the father of Hamlet, not the Ghost King, if I can borrow from Cervantes for Shakespeare; the child of his brain. Cervantes alluded to Quioxte and Panza as the children of his brain. What about Shakespeare’s brain, his mind, his imagination–what Hamlet reveals to us who read the play, or those of us who see the drama performed, is mind. Perhaps this mind that Hamlet reveals was not as distinct from soul then as we might want to believe today–the French, however, use one word for both soul and mind. I’ve noted in other essays and/or poems that soul and mind are a duality for the French; they are a dichotomy for us. For Hamlet and thus for Shakespeare, perhaps, and maybe for most Elizabethans, soul and mind were also a duality as they seem to be for anyone who thinks in the French language. All of us are marching to the drum-beat of one secular dogma after another and another, each against the existence of soul. These dogmas we enforce intellectually and emotionally, through our most dominant surrogate parent, the media.

We step in time to the above drum beats; we reject the soul in favor of a mind that anatomists, biologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists can no more locate than theologians could the soul, or can today. Neither one’s non-locatbleness astonishes me or causes me to lose faith in either one, and both the theologian and the psychologist must have faith for one of the targets of their inquiries. But then I quibble you might say. In Shakespeare’s time it was less likely that any notion of mind would be separate from soul, but I am not here to discuss the dichotomy of the two, or their duality. French has one word for both mind and soul; the French maintain duality where we insist on dichotomy.


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