Essay

How Gary Taylor Has Become a Prime Enemy of Western Civilization [a short story]

He speaks. And what he says . . . to say what he says or to bite his tongue and thereby end all discourse on the facts of Shakespeare–funny coming from one who imagines that facts are not possible to discern? That is not what he imagines, is it? But he does equate facts, facts and more facts with factory made things; yes, facts are made and being things made, they are fictions, if you follow the course I am running here.

How is it that a man like and unlike other men his age–and he is like them and he is not like them which has nothing to do with how much he dislikes them, too many of them. This age or another age–what age is this that we find ourselves in? And yet to the question, once more my brothers. Close the gap.

Do we find ourselves in an age or with an age, all about us this age and yet that one there, not here as is now: of all the unities of time and space, the oneness of the two; here now, not there then.

Which one is it? This one here, that one there? More questions. Inquiries abound. Any other before is there . . . only now is here, and here is now.and  time is not an ocean, I have said before, again before as everything in regression of time is less.

Every age that has ever been has been in each age, which is an awkward way of saying that everything that has ever been thought has been thought in each age by at least someone somewhere at some time . . . yes, how is it–what?

What was I trying to say?

Graphing is another expedition, how so the matter of this making when all about me I hear in my head echoing the methods of others who could not hold my pen–no, they could not hold a pen to me, to mine, what gives life to thee–when I am old I will take down these books of mine and slowly read what I have written or more pretentiously, what I writ–writing is a writ of habeas corpus in a way, no? I wrote, I wrought, and I have wrought well, long and hard and arduously. Thousands and thousands of pages of essays, stories, vignettes, reports, letters, notebook entries, journals, emails, memos, poems; and then there are the novels and novellas. I read so much contemporary trash, not because my selection process is challenged, but because so much of what is written today is crap.

Yes, every thought that has ever been thought has been thought by someone somewhere in every time throughout all of history and before what we think we call history.

Here we are now discoursing on Shakespeare–and we–why we? We is awfully pretentious, is it not? I have discoursed on him (should I say Him, a hymn for Him, I have–I cannot say now how many times–sung his praises, lifted up my voice, my pen . . . a pen, a pen, a kingdom of praises for this pen). And the discourse for scholars on Shakespearean discourse has reached–what does it reach, what do they reach for, teach us in their stretching, for all that I know they may not even stick out their hand to take down his book and slowly read.

Do we read anymore? To read or not to read. Hamlet is a prophet of our contemporaneity–no, for all of modern history. The religion of the book–what book, all books being one book; the Holy Literary.

Nonetheless, all discourse only one or another way of going astray? Dis-course, of course. Discourse, discourse, my Shakespeare for dis-course. 

I have veered off course herein; every essay is a wandering through a woods? Make a path and others will follow.

He announces, this man not so unlike other men; he pronounces, his name, other names, no names, what names are there, everything to be named or not to be named, that is Adam’s question . . . and until the last syllable,. silly bells ringing our their rhythm, their rhyme, their reason or mine?

He bellows with a bombast reminiscent–he cannot–he does not–say of what it reminds him. To come to mind again; do you kind? I mind what you say even when I do not mind the meaning or the intent. To be mindful, you know means something other than to mind when to mind is to take offense? I do take offense to Gary Taylor, he might say after me, following or imitating . . . me, of course. Let us now discourse on me?

Analogies he needs not indulge, he thinks, does not say to himself exactly, although these words would find agreement with him, almost as if he could say that he would not have minded if he were the one to say them.

He is at the bar in a Bar on Saint Mark’s in the East Village–he has had a bone to pick with Gary Taylor’s closet or latent elitism, something he has said he has suspected for many years now. He goes on to say, “Gary Taylor is a twit. I can’t say that he’s an asshole, but an academic twit” caught dripping, he would say,  “in the residue of a particularly insipid kind of political correctness, a nearly virulent type of iconoclasm that accompanies this, advocating, ironically, a kind or renewed anti-bardolotry that had once been discredited, the kind of the latter anti-bard arguments” that find themselves peculiarly elitist in their effect. What say you, you Post-post Structuralist twits?

“Taylor has become one of the most sophisticated of the neo-anti-bardists–bardolatry not being something I have ever sponsored; not the way it had been used politically by schools, a pedestaling of Shake that kept him distant concurrently with offhandedly praising him, much the way many religionists keep their God–praised and remote, especially from their hearts,” he pauses. Eternal Liberty; I’m with Keats when it comes to reading; Bloom, too, I could say. Yes, as much as Bloom would say he himself was Johnsonian, I could say that I am Bloomian? I am a Bloomian Shakespeareanist?

Now is the fall of my discontent, made gloomy winter by contemporary cultural studyists making or mocking bad social science instead of literary criticism, which was never in itself always good reading . . . (you are following me, are you not. I am beginning to think that I am only talking to Literature majors, or those who have done Graduate work in literature).

“Mr. Taylor’s devotion to Marlowe’s having authored parts of the Henry VI plays smacks as much from the old argument that Shake could not have written his plays, given his schooling, but must have been written or largely rewritten by someone of a university education, someone like Marlowe or Middleton, even, this later Elizabethan being one of Taylor’s chief sponsorships.” I too have been Marlovian–I, myself, had advocated for Marlowe as an undergraduate while everyone else was talking Shakespeare. Ah! To be different; to be unique; to be in the minority opinion. Just as great as Shake. Will in the world did learn a lot from Marlowe.

He pauses. That is, the man pauses as I too pause–and who am I to this other you read here, hear here, is here filling out places in the text–every text has texture, you know. I have said this many times before now in my life: Don’t be fooled by the flatness of the page or the overt linearity of the words in lines. 

Do you hear what I hear? I know seeing is believing, but what about hearing? Is it too believing?

He said, or is it he says?

“When I was an undergrad, any professor who taught Shake in the university always said that Shake did not invent the forms or the stylistics within which he worked; it was always insisted that it was Marlowe who was the Tudor theater revolutionary. I don’t even object to Marlowe being credited with co-authorship in the very early written or wrought Henry the VI plays, having gone through my own Marlovian period as an undergrad, announcing at times that I preferred Marlowe to Shakespeare–never Middleton, though. However, Middleton did have a sound and crediting reputation from Elizabethan scholars and the professor’s of Shake at my college. Especially in grad school, you would have come faceto face with the reputation of Marlowe and Middleton–maybe Taylor laments that Middleton does not have the rep that Shake has among the public, or more specifically, the troglodytes Taylor teaches in Florida, not to say that everyone from State University’s are trogs, but the way we have systematically undereducated in America, there are far too many undergraduates who have been left unprepared or under-prepared for universoity learning, most exactly by how elitist schools prior to college have become, basing all pedagogy on a pedagogy of failure where cream will rise to the top. Now that’s elitist. and how I just do not trust anything Taylor puts his hands on or has his fingers in–reading him is like taking a proctological exam. “

He does not pause. He is not kind. But you do not need me to say that. I say that because I do know that there are enough readers who cannot help but confuse character and narrator and then narrator with author; author with man is another debasement.

“Advances in electronic technology have not added to our ability to read; textual scholarship and the ability to read and analyze and compare texts I do not imagine has gotten much better or far superior, in fact of my own sense, I imagine it probably has gotten worse. The alphabet is the technology that has helped literacy and is the only technology a reader needs to employ in reading–and I do not imagine that the ever increasing degradation of standard reading from what we once understood to be hierarchically arranged higher literacy and what we now should call general and pervasive alphabetics even on university campuses has become anything less than appalling.

“Yes, PhDs like Taylor must champion Oxford educated men in a grotesquely politically correct attempt to debase the old favorite of the old ivory tower. Of course Taylor will insist that Middleton must have revised a couple of Shake’s plays; no one can say that this Lord or that Lord wrote what so many have examined and have found enough consistencies to say that they have been authored by a single author. I do not imagine that anyone as hyper politicized as anyone from one or another grotesque branches of cultural study political correctness like Taylor could have less of a political axe to grind with tradition than those from the Ivory Tower allegedly had axes to grind for a conservative tradition.” He pauses. He hesitates, mumbling unintelligibly, as if he were going to speak, but no. He stops. He pauses however long you think he should pause before beginning again without appearing to have spoken in one stream. Disjunction continuity should be apparent, even if there is no disjunction in rhetoric.

“In the spirit of having another pint of ale, Death to Taylor, Long Live Shakespeare.”

I too loved Marlowe as an undergraduate English major.

I too made argument for the greater-ness of Marlowe, at times.

(More greatliness?)

I wish I knew. I wish I could wish I knew, wishing as well that I could know what I have known and what I have not known–now that’s too much: for anyone to wish that he knew what he did not know, that he knew what he has not known, what he had not known at a time before another when he knew not what he knew . . . I have forgiven myself, for I certainly knew not what I was doing too many times.

[A SHORT STORY]

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