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Ethereal Explorations
Sir Francis Dashwood's Journal | 4-20-02 | Sir Francis Dashwood

Posted on 04/20/2002 7:28:09 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood

Esoteric Myth in Tragedy

Essential to tragedy in drama are mythical elements giving the reader or viewer an esoteric reference to the mechanics of a story. This dramatic device is effective, because regardless of the cultural background of the audience, the observer can reference the action of the characters, the plot and dialogue to personal experiences common in themes of religion and/or mythology. Mysteries surrounding human existence are a key to drawing interest from a contemplative mind and have been used to influence social interaction as well as to entertain.

Often, tragedy and other forms of drama use death, marriage, child birth, ghosts, dreams, sorcery and religion because they are common experiences in the mysteries of human life. Birth, sex, and death are things that are universal to every human life - - they are inescapable.

Many elements found in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman show these various themes. It can be compared to other tragedies in literature and theater. There is dispute among critics as to whether this is really tragedy or not. It is also disputed, Siskel and Ebert style, ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ on the artistic value of it.

Death of a Salesman has some political elements to it. Is it Miller’s intention to give a Marxist view of American society - - the "victim" mentality of life not being fair, establishing a political necessity to artificially create social institutions that limit the individual freedom to choose your own destiny? Or was Miller’s intention just the opposite? Is Willy Loman a victim of an unfair world or the result of his own failings? Is Uncle Ben the evil capitalist, a devil, an angel or what Willy always wanted to be but lacked the courage to strive for? Many artists, playwrights and authors use their works to promote their political or religious ideology. Is Miller any different?

[It can be shown that most art, music and literature (sacred or secular) have an intent to influence rather than just to entertain. Considering the personal views of the artist and conditions of the period of history they live in are factors in what they produce. Does life imitate art or is art just a reflection of human experience?]

The elements of myth are always esoteric. The secular drama is a myth in and of itself, it is fiction. Myth is metaphorical, the use of such fiction is for escape from reality. Fiction conjures up phantasms, ghosts of the mind that are representative of an ideal or distasteful reality the author wants the audience to ponder and possibly come to a desired conclusion about.

Willy Loman’s fantasy world of delusion is the character’s attempt to escape from reality. Willy Loman is a phantasm for the observer as are the other characters in the play.

Consider the words of Thomas Hobbes’ in Leviathan:

Part IV. Of the Kingdom of Darkness

Chap. xlv. Of Demonology and other Relics of the Religion of the Gentiles

[16] And whereas a man can fancy shapes he never saw, making up a figure out of the parts of divers creatures, as the poets make their centaurs, chimeras and other monsters never seen, so can he also give matter to those shapes, and make them in wood, clay or metal. And these are also called images, not for the resemblance of any corporeal thing, but for the resemblance of some phantastical inhabitants of the brain of the maker. But in these idols, as they are originally in the brain, and as they are painted, carved moulded or molten in matter, there is a similitude of one to the other, for which the material body made by art may be said to be the image of the fantastical idol made by nature. (Hobbes, p 444)

In Hobbes’ sense of fiction, myth is always esoteric regardless of aesthetic intent. Aurther Miller’s writing of this play seemed to be very careful in avoiding any overt reference to the esoteric. However, these elements do materialize much the same way as in Othello. In the other tragedies written by Shakespeare, there is witchcraft, sorcery and ghosts. In Othello these are conspicuously absent. The magic is in Iago being an archetype of an esoteric devil or Satan. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes supports in part, some of the previous claims I made (following this essay and on my FR homepage) concerning the conflict of pagan Egyptian cosmogony and the Judaic related to Othello:

Part III. Of a Christian Commonwealth.

Chap. xxxviii. Of Eternal Life, Hell, Salvation, and Redemption.

[12] And first, for the tormentors, we have their nature and properties exactly and properly delivered by the names of the Enemy (or Satan), the Accuser (or Diabolus), the Destroyer (or Abaddon). Which significant names (Satan, Devil, Abaddon) set not forth to us any individual person, as proper names do, but only an office or quality, and are therefore appellatives, which ought not to have been left untranslated (as they are in the Latin and modern Bibles), because thereby they seem to be the proper names of demons, and men are the more easily seduced to believe the doctrine of devils, which at that time was the religion of the Gentiles, and contrary to that of Moses, and of Christ.

[13] And because by the Enemy, the Accuser, and Destroyer, is meant the enemy of them that shall be in the kingdom of God, therefore if the kingdom of God after the resurrection be upon the earth (as in the former Chapter I have shewn by Scripture it seems to be), the Enemy and his kingdom must be on earth also. For so also was it in the time before the Jews had deposed God. For God's kingdom was in Palestine, and the nations round about were the kingdoms of the Enemy; and consequently, by Satan is meant any earthly enemy of the Church. (Hobbes p 308)

Aurthur Miller’s writing is not immune from this use of such imagery although he goes to great lengths to deny it in Tragedy and the Common Man:

Now, if it is true that tragedy is the consequence of a man’s total compulsion to evaluate himself justly, his destruction in the attempt posits a wrong or an evil in his environment. And this is precisely the morality of tragedy and it’s lesson. The discovery of the moral law, which is what the enlightenment of tragedy consists of, is not the discovery of some abstract or metaphysical quantity.

The "morality of tragedy" is a curious term. ‘Morals’ or ‘morality’ is nothing more than a replacement for the ‘avoidance of sin.’ An atheist telling someone they are immoral is no different than a preacher or rabbi telling them they are a sinner. The denial of a "metaphysical quantity" in the above by Miller is contradicted by himself later in the same essay:

The Greeks could probe the very heavenly origin of their ways and return to confirm the rightness of laws. And Job could face God in anger, demanding his right, and end in submission. But for a moment everything is in suspension, nothing is accepted, and in this stretching and tearing apart of the cosmos, in the very action of so doing, the character gains "size," the tragic stature which is spuriously attached to the royal or high born in our minds. The commonest of men may take on that stature to the extent of his willingness to throw all he has into the contest, the battle to secure his rightful place in the world. (Miller)

* The Sun and Bacchus are Apollo and Dionysus, two gods, or two aspects of religious experience of the ancient Greeks, and their juxtaposition is of some importance - - a statement of belief in the duality of human nature, symbolized by Apollo as the light of reason and Dionysus as the underground power of emotion. (See Sexual Personae by professor Camille Paglia for a detailed and authoritative description.)

The mention of the Biblical figure Job and the book of Job is an interesting thing to contemplate in reference to the role of the Enemy (or Satan), the Accuser (or Diabolus), the Destroyer (or Abaddon) in the book of Job. (See the earlier reference of Hobbes’ Leviathan, IV, xlv, 16.)

The fact that Miller is Jewish also refutes this claim: "The discovery of the moral law, which is what the enlightenment of tragedy consists of, is not the discovery of some abstract or metaphysical quantity." Judaism is a metaphysical quantity and does color the philosophical element portrayed by the author. (The concept of "morals" are a deliberately deceptive substitute for the "avoidance of sin.")

Another criticism of Miller’s expressed view in Tragedy and the Common Man can be found in Tragedy & Philosophy by Walter Kaufman, who translated Neitzche and formerly a professor of philosophy at Princeton:

Some writers stress that there must be moral conflict*; others, the importance of belief that failure is compatible with greatness, that greatness and the universe remain mysterious, and that failure must be final and inevitable*. It would be foolish to deny that some such views have been supported with great eloquence. Indeed, it is almost a commonplace that George Büchner’s Woyzeck and Aurthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman are not tragic because the heroes are "pathetic" or, as is sometimes said, anti-heroes. Nevertheless, our exploration of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy suggests that these very attractive views ought to be given up.

The claim that some suffering is merely pitiful and not truly tragic can be neither proved or disproved. But it can be shown to rest on an assumption that is false. This assumption is that both Greek and Shakespearean tragedy concentrated on the tragic and disdained the merely pathetic, and that the loss of this crucial distinction is a modern phenomenon. In fact, we have found that neither the Greeks or Shakespeare did make this distinction. (Kaufman, p 311-312)

*E.g. Sidney Hook in "Pragmatism and the Tragic Sense of Life" (1960), Max Scheler, 1915, and Hegel.

*E.g. Walter Kaufmann, above all in The Faith of a Heretic (1961), ch. 11.

Taking into account both Kaufman and Hobbes’ observations in comparison to Miller’s Tragedy and the Common Man, one can see how pathos is an element in drama centered on an esoterically based ideal. Kaufman’s book goes to great length in discussing Aristotle’s observations and his prowess as the greatest of metaphysicians. The entire first half of the book is necessary to have even a rudimentary understanding. Hobbes’ voluminous Leviathan is an undertaking all in itself. Hobbes takes great pains to examine elements of esoteric belief based upon the Judaic mythoi.

Miller attempts to conceal his personal interpretations of the Judaic philosophy behind a curtain of a seemingly secular drama. This was not necessary for the Greeks. They were pagans. With many gods of differing temperaments to choose from, the Greeks had no propagandist need for the underlying or overt esoteric conflicts between the pagan and Judaic to promote a particular outlook. In Tragedy and the Common Man, this is more apparent to the person with an awareness of how propaganda is applied in the arts than it is to the contemporary observer. Armed with certain knowledge, a person learns to see in a different spectrum.

Perhaps this is why Miller was called before the Senate Committee on Un-American Activities. Being a Marxist is not a crime, but it is the enemy of individual freedom and an esoteric philosophy or religion. A well-placed Marxist will not generally make an open, identifying proclamation, they are of an occult nature (McCarthy was right in a certain sense).

Whether Miller was a Marxist or not, is a whole different matter. It is the subject of some speculation(s). It would explain some of the terminology, especially his choice of a title for Tragedy and the Common Man. Marxism has it’s own dogma as religions do.

The ‘genealogy of morals’ and the ‘birth of tragedy’ (borrowing from Nietzsche’s titles) is also alluded to by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences:

An ancient tradition passed out of Egypt into Greece, that some god, who was an enemy to the repose of mankind, was the inventor of the sciences. What must the Egyptians, among whom the sciences first arose, have thought of them? And they beheld, near at hand, the sources from which they sprang. In fact, whether we turn to the annals of the world, or eke out with philosophical investigations the uncertain chronicles of history, we shall not find for human knowledge an origin answering to the idea we are pleased to entertain of it at present. Astronomy was born of superstition, eloquence of ambition, hatred, falsehood, and flattery; geometry of avarice; physics of an idle curiosity; all, even moral philosophy, of human pride. Thus the arts and sciences owe their birth to our vices; we should be less doubtful of their advantages, if they had sprung from our virtues. (Rousseau, p 15)

* It is easy to seethe allegory in the fable of Prometheus: and it does not appear that the Greeks, who chained him to the Caucasus, had a better opinion of him than the Egyptians had of their god Thetus. The Satyr, says an ancient fable, the first time he saw a fire, was going to kiss and embrace it; but Prometheus cried out to him to forbear, or his beard would rue it. It burns, says he, everything that touches it. (Rousseau, p 15)

The philosophies of Rousseau and Hobbes are not generally considered analogous. Rousseau is actually very hostile to Hobbes, calling him ‘pernicious’ in A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences:

…Paganism, though given over to all the extravagances of human reason, has left nothing to compare with the shameful monuments which have been prepared by the art of printing, during the reign of the gospel. The impious writings of Leucippus and Diagoras perished with their authors. The world, in their days, was ignorant of the art of immortalizing the errors and extravagances of the human mind. But thanks to the art of printing* and the use we make of it, the pernicious reflections of Hobbes and Spinoza will last forever. Go, famous writings, of which the ignorance and rusticity of our forefathers would have been incapable. Go to our descendants, along with those still more pernicious works which reek of the corrupted manners the present age! Let them together convey to posterity a faithful history of the progress and advantages of our arts and sciences. If they are read, they will not leave a doubt about the question we are now discussing, and unless mankind should then be still more foolish than we, they will lift up their hands to Heaven and exclaim in bitterness of heart: ‘Almighty God! Thou who holdest in Thy hand the minds of men, deliver us from the fatal arts and sciences of our forefathers; give us back the ignorance, innocence, and poverty, which alone can make us happy and are precious in Thy sight.’ (Rousseau, p 26-27)

* If we consider the frightful disorder which printing has already caused in Europe, and judge of the future by the progress of its evils from day to day, it is easy to foresee that sovereigns will hereafter take as much pains to banish this dreadful art from their dominions, as they ever took to encourage it. The Sultan Achmet, yielding to the opportunities of certain pretenders to taste, consented to have a press erected at Constantinople; but it was hardly set to work before they were obliged to destroy it, and throw the plant into a well.

It is related that the Caliph Omar, being asked what should be done with the Library at Alexandria, answered in these words: ‘If the books in the library contain anything contrary to the Alcoran, they are evil and ought to be burnt; if they contain only what the Alcoran teaches, they are superflous.’ This reasoning has been cited by our men of letters as the height of absurdity; but if Gregory the Great had been in place of Omar and the Gospel in the place of the Alcoran, the library would still have been burnt, and it would have been perhaps the finest action of his life. (Rousseau, p 26-27)

Hobbes, and later John Locke, are philosophers who established philosophical ideals that are the basis for Modern Western Civilization. Rousseau, it is argued, establishes a philosophical basis for Marxism - - something Miller appears to emulate with Death of a Salesman. The rhetoric of Marxists in politics often use the idea of a social contract and the term itself to promote the quasi-religious ideals they worship. Marxists, in a sense, worship the ideals of a dead Karl Marx like some Christians worship the image of a dead Jesus.

The political Left often holds to the view of Rousseau, cited above. They eschew the advancement of science and of the arts. It is no wonder that in their pursuit to dominate academia, that the decline of education in the West has been a victim of the political Left.

What may clue someone into this theme is an analysis presented by Raymond Williams in Modern Tragedy:

The mainstream tragedy has gone elsewhere: into the self-enclosed guilty and isolated world of the breakdown of liberalism. We shall need to trace this through its complicated particular phases. But, with Ibsen in mind, it is worth looking briefly at the plays of Aurthur Miller, who represents, essentially, a late revival of liberal tragedy, on the edge (but only on the edge) of its transformation into socialism. (Williams p 103)

Professor Williams gives some insightful commentary throughout the book in regard to the philosophy and religion of Marxism and how it relates to the mechanics of certain pieces in modern drama.

David Lenson in Achille’s Choice, goes through a tedious analysis of tragedy, references many philosophical works and offers discussion on mythology and ritualized action as it is related to drama. Of particular interest is the qualification of tragedy in regard to Death of a Salesman:

The debate about Aurthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman centered on questions of action and social elevation of the protagonist, but the true shortcoming of the play as a tragedy – although not necessarily as a drama – lay in it’s lack of transpersonal reference. Although we might generalize from Willy Loman to all those who suffer from similar social illusions, there was no emotional necessity to do so arising from the construction of the play itself. The distance between the aspirations of the hero and the domestic alternatives to it was slight. The weakness of individualization did not serve to reinforce emotional generalization, but instead made a compromise which is quite alien to tragedy. It is as if Achilles found a middle-ground. Another way of putting it would be to say that the play lacks extremes of any kind. (Lenson, p 134-135)

A common theme throughout much of the criticisms in drama are based upon ethereal and esoteric ideals, any of which can be easily construed to take on religious connotations, either because of overt reference by the authors to spirituality, or attempts to disassociate their personal bias from any concealed religious/cultural influence.

The stage is not unlike the altar. Drama is most often scripted and performed much the same way as any religious ritual. Although absent from drama are some devices of esoteric rites, many of the same imageries, psychology, and intent of the writers are indeed present. The use of visual images, lighting, characters, music and dialogue all play their parts in creating the myth. After all, esoteric rites are psychodrama…


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: esotericmyth; marxism; tragedy
‘By the Prickings of My Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes’

Iago as an archetypical devil and his role in Othello mirrors the ancient psychodrama of the pagan Egyptian gods. Iago’s line here in this soliloquy also suggests a parallel to the function of Set in the esoteric and pagan Egyptian cosmology.

Iago:

"Divinity of Hell!

When devils will the blackest of sins put on,

They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,

As I do now." (II, III, 340)

Egyptian Book of the Dead: "Behold, I am Set, the creator of confusion, who creates both the tempest and the storm throughout the length and breadth of the heavens." (Naville, p. 39)

Iago serves this role as Set, the Destroyer, who kills his brother Osiris out of jealousy for his popularity. Plotting and weaving a tangled web of deceit, Iago creates confusion, a storm of intrigue that ensnares his victim, Othello. Much like the bejeweled chest of precious wood that Set used to trap Osiris at a feast under the guise of playing a game, Iago also delights in luring victims into a sparkling illusion that imprisons them so that he can manipulate others into serving his desires of destroying them. The entrapment of Othello in a prison of his own delusions of purity and nobility, the manipulation of Cassio under the cherished promise of regaining Othello’s favor, and the treasure of Desdemona used to tempt the ever stupid Rodrigo, all fit this model of esoteric cosmogony.

The idea of Iago as an archetype is not new. In Magic in the Web, Action and Language in Othello, Robert B. Heilman writes:

"…we move into the symbolic dimension and use the word archetype to describe that compression of possibilities which is so inclusive that all other characters of the same order seem but partial representations of the original idea. Iago is this kind of character; he is infinitely more than the skillful manipulator of a stratagem…" (Heilman, p. 12)

Not far from this, we can also see the intent to cast Iago as the Satan of the Judaic, Christian, and Muslim mythoi. A clue to this is where Iago says; "I am not what I am." (I, I, 65) as opposed to the biblical phrase "I am that I am," representing the Judaic God (Exodus 3:14). More imagery and figurative language used in Iago’s dialogues with other characters, symbolic interactions with them, is also another way to see Shakespeare’s intentions concerning the character.

Set, Satan, and Shaitan are the same. "Satan" is a Hebrew word for the pagan Egyptian Set. Satan, Shaitan, Set or Seth ("Set-hn" as spoken in the ancient Hebrew) is a pagan entity, the "adversary" of Judaic theology. (A "pagan" is anyone not Judaic, Christian or Muslim.)

Fraternal agreements prohibit the source reference on this etymology, it is the focus of rancorous theological debates, and is at odds with the "accepted" theology on the subject; of which my fraternity stands in opposition to. However, I will gratuitously include it as an item for debate, speculation and/or discussion, something our adversaries are unwilling to do in the interests of their deception(s). We are also unwilling to reveal certain things, in the interest of our own purposes - - figuratively preserving a ‘Library of Alexandria’ from our enemies… (See preceding essay for Rousseau’s reference to Library of Alexandria.)

The Greeks called Set "Typhon," who was the war god assigned to Upper Egypt. This also represents another contravention to the "accepted" etymologies of words like "typhoon" in English, which is erroneously listed as the Cantonese "tai fung" in many dictionaries. English has more commonalties with Greek and Latin.

Egyptian Book of the Dead: "Behold, I am Set, the creator of confusion, who creates both the tempest and the storm throughout the length and breadth of the heavens." (Naville)

Interestingly, "Setebos" was the Patagonian god or devil, alluded to by Shakespeare through Caliban in the Tempest:

Caliban:

"His art is of such power

It would control my dam’s god, Setebos,

And make a vassal of him."

-The Tempest (I, II)

This is a curious reference by Shakespeare that is indicative for a pattern of etymology outside of established acceptance.

Iago:

"The Moor is of a free and open nature,

That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,

And will as tenderly be led by th’nose

As asses are." (I, III, 392)

There is a recurring theme that alludes to the hostility between the pagan Egyptians and the Judaic in Othello. The father of Othello was an Egyptian. The term "asses" in this soliloquy is a literary allusion to this often-bloody conflict between these forces.

The Egyptian priest Manetho associated the Jews with the Hyksos and Moses with the Egyptian priest Osarsiph. It was at this time that the belief the Jews worshipped an ass – an animal holy to the Egyptian god Set was established. Both the Jews and the pagan Egyptians used the labels (i.e., Satan, Set, Seth, or "Set-hn" as spoken in the ancient Hebrew) to defame each other. How fitting that amidst this epic struggle and bloody conflict, the entity known as Satan was born into the World. Such conflict continued through the Maccabean period (with Antiochus Epiphanes), and continues into modern times on several fronts.

[Othello’s instruction to Desdemona about the handkerchief is also telling. Ponder the actions of Iago in the play and Othello’s words to Desdemona: " ‘Tis true: there’s magic in the web of it." (III, IV, 65)]

What does all this have to do with Shakespeare and Othello? Consider the period of time in which William Shakespeare lived, his oft criticized and "unconventional" use of spelling, punctuation and terminology in a time where there was an effort to standardize the English language.

King James I acceded to the throne. He published the detailed treatise Daemonology, because of his concern about witchcraft in Britain (this did have an effect on the presentation of Macbeth and other plays).

There is the matter of the King James Bible to consider. There was pressure from the Church and open condemnation concerning secular drama. (English theatres were actually shut down for 18 years prior to 1663 when a puritan government came to power.) Latin was used in the churches, composed the language found in bibles, hymnals and was frequently used by the nobility in matters of state affairs. Often history has been colored by the occlusion of religious concerns; translations were subject to interpretation not always in the interest of accuracy.

Camille Paglia, professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, artfully depicts the dynamics at work in her book Sexual Personae, Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson:

"Spenser, Shakespeare, and Freud are the three greatest sexual psychologists in literature, continuing a tradition begun by Euripides and Ovid. Freud has no rivals among his successors because they think he wrote science, when in fact he wrote art. Spenser, the Apollonian pictorailist, and Shakespeare the Dionysian alchemist, compete for artistic control of the English Renaissance. Shakespeare unlooses his metamorphic flood of words and personae to escape Spenser’s rigorous binding…" (Paglia, p. 228)

Unless the whole of the professor’s book is taken in as a scholarly commentary on pagan beauty and it’s relation to sex, culture, politics and art or literature, there is some confusion for most readers concerning the analogies being made here…

"Spenser’s radiant Apollonian armouring becomes Milton’s louring metallic daemonism, militant and misogynistic. Satan’s legions gleam with hard Spenserian light. Milton sinks when he sings of the foggy formlessness of good. His God is poetically impotent. But his noisy, thrashing Spenserian serpents and monsters; his lush Spenserian embowered Paradise; his evil, envious Spenserian voyeurism: these are immortal. Milton tries to defeat Spenser by wordiness, Judaic word-fetishism, tangling the Apollonian eye in the labyrinth of etymology. Shakespeare succeeded here by joining words to pagan sexual personae…" (Paglia, p. 228-229)

This "Judaic word-fetishism" from the above, is most illustrative. Like the complexities of the Elizabethan court protocols (relaxed under King James I), the use of language, definitions, etymologies, and the recording of history has also suffered a suppression by those with an interest to keep some things hidden. This is why I will assert that despite authoritative and scholarly denials, William Shakespeare had privy to occult knowledge not commonly available to others in his time, as well as a powerful English King’s ear and patronage.

Iago as the Setian, or Satan does not separate him from being human, but does indicate Iago as both devil and human (Antichrist), the embodiment of ‘original evil.’ (Heilman, p. 41)

Iago represents an inherent, autonomous evil, not a developing one as in the character of Macbeth. Desdemona unknowingly contributes to Othello’s willingness to eat the poison pome, tricked by the perspicacious serpent that is Iago. The Garden of Eden represented by Desdemona’s purity is plowed asunder with the sins of sanctimonious delusions, Othello murders her and takes upon himself the power to render his God’s divine judgement. Satan conquers the human spirit with Othello’s seppuku.

Iago:

"Divinity of Hell!

When devils will the blackest of sins put on,

They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,

As I do now." (II, III, 340)

"The Iago evil is redefined for us: his method is planned confusion, The metamorphosis of opposites, the use of "shows" that keep things from being seen in their "true colors." (Heilman, p. 65)

This idea of ‘planned confusion’ from Heilman shows the analogy I made earlier with the Egyptian Book of the Dead and these same lines of the soliloquy. The bejeweled chest of Set’s game to trap Osiris, the weaving of a web, an illusion, the storm of intrigue and the tempest prior to Othello’s arrival in Cyprus. The purity of Desdemona is also a subject Iago continues to assail…

Iago: "So will I turn her virtue to pitch," (II, III, 350)

These images of color are a tool used to portray the darkness, iniquity or evil all throughout Othello as are other references employed to contrast against the divinity and virtue of the Judaic mythoi. Just as the ideas of the heavens being blackened by the gathering storm, the bright daytime sky is always darkened by foul weather. Much of the play projects the imagery as occurring during the night. There is a metaphorical divergence at work as a dramatic device illuminating a contemplative audience to the spiritual battle between the sacred and the profane, of Providence’s divine light and the primordial darkness of Chaos.

"When dominated by the Spectre, the self becomes a hermaphroditic Selfhood, whom Blake calls Satan or Death… Incestuous self-insemination: the grappling duo is a new Khepera, the masturbatory Egyptian cosmos-maker. Actors and audience are a sexual octopus of many legs and eyes.

The contest between male Spectre and female Emanation is archaic ritual combat. I find homosexual overtones in the betrayal of the self into a queasy spectral world ruled by dark, deceiving male figures. Note the elegance with which Blake’s Spectre theory fits Shakespeare’s Othello. A conspiratorial Spectre, Iago, is homoerotically obsessed with splitting Othello, through jealous fears, from his Emanation, Desdemona. (Jealousy and fear are the Spectres’ regular weapons.) Othello, cleaving to his Spectre instead of casting him off, destroys himself. He ends by not killing his Spectre but his Emanation." (Paglia, p. 287-289)

Iago also represents homoeroticism in Othello from the beginning. Not just in his obsessive hatred for Othello but in a seeming contempt for heterosexual relations as evidenced by his reference of Cassio being "A fellow almost damned in a fair wife." (I, I, 21) There is the opening act, the masturbatory fever pitch and sexual imagery of Iago’s speech.

It should also be noted in reference to the pagan Egyptian mythos, Set had a battle with Horus, son of Osiris, where he was emasculated. Set managed to tear out one of the god’s eyes.

Iago seems to have this sexual impotence about him, an inborn hostility for women and disgust for heterosexuality as a result. Iago also feels rendered impotent that he was passed over for position by Othello in favor of Cassio, as well as by his own rage. This rage could also be construed as a sadomasochistic component to Iago’s character.

In addition, the description to Othello by Iago about Cassio’s nocturnal speech conjures up a homoerotic imagery. It is also interesting to contemplate the prohibition of women being on the stage, where men in drag portray female characters.

Iago also sets out to mutilate Othello’s spirit, much the same as Set dismembering Osiris. Iago as Set, declaring war, plucks away at Cassio, Othello’s ‘favorite son,’ who’s vision is partially taken away by drink. Cassio does rise to take Othello’s place as governor of Cyprus. Horus accedes to the throne of the heavens. Wounded, the Setian is bound and tortured in the Abyss…

I use Othello to paint a picture showing there is a recurring theme that alludes to the hostility between the pagan Egyptians and the Judaic. Often it is claimed by the Neo-Pagans that Satan is only found in Christianity. How can this be if Satan is undeniably a Hebrew word adapted from the name of the Pagan Egyptian god Set? The Jewish synod of rabbinical authority will deny that Satan even exists. How do they reconcile that with the fact that it is a Hebrew word?

The point is that in avoiding their true pagan roots, the Neo-Pagans are participating inadvertently in a Judaic word-fetishism. This should give some of the Judaic/Christian community cause for reflection and cooperation.

I have offered up a riddle for you to ponder, especially for the Christians who are constantly criticized and bashed for their beliefs in this insipid modernity of prime time television…

Works Cited

Heilman, Robert B., Magic in the Web: Action and Language in Othello, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1956.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan: with selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668. Ed. Edwin Curley. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994.

Kaufmann, Walter. Tragedy and Philosophy. New York: Doubleday, 1968.

Lenson, David. Achille’s Choice, Examples of Modern Tragedy. Princeton and London: Princeton University Press, 1975.

Miller, Aurthur. Tragedy and the Common Man, 1949. A Collection of Plays, Perspectives. n.p., n.d., 1379-1381.

Naville, Edouard, trans. Egyptian Book of the Dead of the XVIII to XX Dynasties, Berlin, 1886.

Paglia, Camille, Sexual Personae: art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Rpr. First Vintage Books Edition, September 1991, New York.

Rousseau, Jean-Jaques. The Social Contract and Discourses. Trans. G.D.H. Cole, Rev. J.H. Brumfitt and John C. Hall. London: Guernsey Press, 1973.

Williams, Raymond. Modern Tragedy, Essays on the idea of tragedy in life and in the drama, and on modern tragic writing from Ibsen to Tennesse Williams. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966.

SEE ALSO:

Velikovsky, Immanuel. Oedipus and Akhnaten; Mythh and History. New York: Doubleday, 1960


1 posted on 04/20/2002 7:28:09 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: conserve-it;PsyOp; fzob;JZoback; lockeliberty;rbmillerjr;Marine Inspector; infowars; 2Trievers...
PING!
2 posted on 04/20/2002 8:20:56 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
"The point is that in avoiding their true pagan roots, the Neo-Pagans are participating inadvertently in a Judaic word-fetishism. This should give some of the Judaic/Christian community cause for reflection and cooperation."

"Rousseau, it is argued, establishes a philosophical basis for Marxism - - something Miller appears to emulate with Death of a Salesman. The rhetoric of Marxists in politics often use the idea of a social contract and the term itself to promote the quasi-religious ideals they worship. Marxists, in a sense, worship the ideals of a dead Karl Marx like some Christians worship the image of a dead Jesus."

One recurring theme in modern leftist writing is despair. In the film "Save the Tiger", the well known Marxist actor, Jack Gilford, plays the despairing accountant with moral scruples, whereas Jack Lemmon is the evil, greedy oppressor, who "must live in Beverly Hills instead of Santa Monica". The only hero of the film is the teenage hippie hitchhiker who is an unapologetic doper who beds down with anyone that suits her fancy. Ah despair! What a productive way to trudge through life!
3 posted on 04/20/2002 9:08:34 AM PDT by conserve-it
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
Impressive essay.

Put me on your bump list for any other essays you might post.

4 posted on 04/20/2002 9:21:37 AM PDT by lockeliberty
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
Saved to disk! As soon as I cull my data-base I will put together a collection on Hobbes Leviathan. A good Book.
5 posted on 04/20/2002 11:46:30 AM PDT by PsyOp
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To: conserve-it
One recurring theme in modern leftist writing is despair. In the film "Save the Tiger", the well known Marxist actor, Jack Gilford, plays the despairing accountant with moral scruples, whereas Jack Lemmon is the evil, greedy oppressor, who "must live in Beverly Hills instead of Santa Monica". The only hero of the film is the teenage hippie hitchhiker who is an unapologetic doper who beds down with anyone that suits her fancy. Ah despair! What a productive way to trudge through life!

I haven't seen that one. I view very few films. I tend to read more. Hollywood pumps out a lot of "maird." (I don't know if the French spelling is correct.)

However, when films come out based on Shakespeare - - I'm there. Roman Polanki's adaptation of Macbeth, produced by Hugh Hefner, is a masterpiece.

Another film that represents the despair theme you speak of is American Beauty, which is analagous to Death of a Salesman in a sense (I'm not convinced it didn't come from there to begin with).

I could list about one hundred films I really like both modern and classic - - takes too much time...

6 posted on 04/20/2002 1:06:06 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: lockeliberty
Done...

I have a few bookmarked, don't know if they are still there...

7 posted on 04/20/2002 1:10:38 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: PsyOp;conserve-it;PsyOp; fzob;JZoback; lockeliberty;rbmillerjr;Marine Inspector; infowars...
Saved to disk! As soon as I cull my data-base I will put together a collection on Hobbes Leviathan. A good Book.

There is also a site you should see. I dont know if this link will work, but you could drop Luminarium in your search engine and find a lot of compelling interests.

Another one is http://www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/. Surf around there and let me know what you think. I don't quite know what is happening there, seems intelligent, but what's the agenda?

8 posted on 04/20/2002 1:22:50 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: conserve-it
By the way, if you look at the Rousseau qoutes and my comments about them, can you see why the Leftists hate Jews, oppose American military action in the war on terrorism and support the terrorists?
10 posted on 04/20/2002 1:48:55 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: conserve-it;PsyOp; fzob;JZoback; lockeliberty;rbmillerjr;Marine Inspector; infowars; 2Trievers...
If you look at the Rousseau qoutes and my comments about them, can anyone see why the Leftists hate Jews, oppose American military action in the war on terrorism and support the terrorists?
11 posted on 04/20/2002 2:00:46 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
Thanks for the Luminarian link, I've bookmarked for later browsing. As for the other thee doesn't seem to be a clear agenda. The links are a rather eclectic ensemble. Depending on which one you choose you might label him either conservative or socialist. There does seem to be a bit of a socialist and anti-capitalist bent in his selections, in spite of his disclaimer. I'm curious as to why you directed me there as it does not seem to related to the thread except for some of the links on socialism.
12 posted on 04/20/2002 2:08:19 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
can anyone see why the Leftists hate Jews, oppose American military action in the war on terrorism and support the terrorists?

"The general will alone is capable of directing the forces of the state according to the end of its institution - which is the Common Good." - Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. 1762.

That one is the most infamous, abused and liberaly interpreted of Rousseau's statements. It is generally used by the left to condemn anything they do not believe to be for the "common good" and can be liberally applied to any of the instances you cite.

13 posted on 04/20/2002 2:18:35 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
>It can be shown that most art, music and literature (sacred or secular) have an intent to influence rather than just to entertain. Considering the personal views of the artist and conditions of the period of history they live in are factors in what they produce.

Mark W.

14 posted on 04/20/2002 2:21:59 PM PDT by MarkWar
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
"However, when films come out based on Shakespeare - - I'm there. Roman Polanki's adaptation of Macbeth, produced by Hugh Hefner, is a masterpiece"

Polanski was a favorite at the Hefner mansion, and Hef fronted all the money for the production. Thus the "executive producer" credits for Playboy. If ever there was a statistical aberration, it was Hefner's financing of this excellent film.

I could only name about 10 films made since 83 which I believe are worth watching. I could name several hundred between 1930-1960. I am speaking of American films only. Many British productions have been excellent.
15 posted on 04/20/2002 4:25:10 PM PDT by conserve-it
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To: PsyOp
I'm curious as to why you directed me there as it does not seem to related to the thread except for some of the links on socialism.

I found it at Luminarium. An intelligent woman for sure. Wanted your opinion / impressions of it. Her notebooks are interesting...

16 posted on 04/20/2002 6:28:23 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: PsyOp
"The general will alone is capable of directing the forces of the state according to the end of its institution - which is the Common Good." - Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. 1762.

That one is the most infamous, abused and liberaly interpreted of Rousseau's statements. It is generally used by the left to condemn anything they do not believe to be for the "common good" and can be liberally applied to any of the instances you cite.

The Left has it's own dogma like a religious sect. When I hear conservatives use the rhetoric, I cringe...

17 posted on 04/20/2002 6:33:44 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: conserve-it
I found the recent productions of Henry VI, Othello and Hamlet to be quite good. I'm waiting for someone to do the Tempest.

Can we "ping" Hollywood to this discussion?

19 posted on 04/20/2002 6:45:19 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
When I hear conservatives use the rhetoric, I cringe...

I'm with you on that. Just like there are Liberals who don't know why they are liberal, there are Conservatives who don't know why they are conservative. Knowing the philosphical underpinnings of issues helps to clarify them. I, for one, describe myself as a conservative with libertarian tendencies. I would dump about two/thirds of the federal code into the nearest harbor (and to hell with the environmentalists).

Some of what passes for conservatism these days would have the Founders taking up arms again. Perhaps these posts will provide some ammunition to fight that battle.

20 posted on 04/20/2002 7:00:48 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: PsyOp
When I hear conservatives use the rhetoric, I cringe...

I'm with you on that. Just like there are Liberals who don't know why they are liberal, there are Conservatives who don't know why they are conservative. Knowing the philosphical underpinnings of issues helps to clarify them. I, for one, describe myself as a conservative with libertarian tendencies. I would dump about two/thirds of the federal code into the nearest harbor (and to hell with the environmentalists).

Some of what passes for conservatism these days would have the Founders taking up arms again. Perhaps these posts will provide some ammunition to fight that battle.

Thinking on a deeper level requires effort some people are plainly too lazy to attempt. This is why you will find those more amenable to such thought here at Free Republic instead of on prime time television (the modern version of Plato's Cave Allegory) or other discussion forums.

This can sometimes be a challenge even here, because of the influences comic book pop culture. Make no mistake though, the Leftists who run the established institutions know exactly what they are doing. It is our task to lead the others out of that Cave...

21 posted on 04/20/2002 8:21:32 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: PsyOp
"I, for one, describe myself as a conservative with libertarian tendencies. I would dump about two/thirds of the federal code into the nearest harbor (and to hell with the environmentalists). Some of what passes for conservatism these days would have the Founders taking up arms again. Perhaps these posts will provide some ammunition to fight that battle."

We should REQUIRE all members of the House of Reprehensibles and Senate to read and memorize these excellent threads......lest we do indeed take up arms again:)
22 posted on 04/20/2002 8:59:02 PM PDT by conserve-it
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To: conserve-it
We should REQUIRE all members of the House of Reprehensibles and Senate to read and memorize these excellent threads......lest we do indeed take up arms again:)

Funny you should mention that. Remember when Newt Gingrich told that freshman group of congressmen that they needed to brush up on certain classics? That is when I went and created these author specific quote compilations. I figured they would probably be a little busy and might like my cliff notes versions.

I put together a sample and sent it to Newts office. As I was still hoping to get these published at that time (still a work in progress) I told him that I would be willing to supply all his freshman with copies if they wanted to pay a small fee. Never heard a word from his office. Not even a "thanks, but no thanks" form letter. So Free Republic will be the gratis beneficiary.

If it were up to me, a person would have to pass something akin to a SAT test on political philosophy before they could even put their name on a ballot. Hell, I'd be satisfied with a test on the Constitution and Bill of Rights!

23 posted on 04/20/2002 9:16:10 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: PsyOp
" Hell, I'd be satisfied with a test on the Constitution and Bill of Rights!"

Stateman Aptitude Test SAT....Wonder if any could score over 200?
24 posted on 04/20/2002 10:22:50 PM PDT by conserve-it
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To: conserve-it
Statesman Aptitude Test - SAT

ROTFLOL!!! We have a winner!

25 posted on 04/20/2002 10:26:45 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: straight on red; JohnHuang2
None of the above establishes a Biblical mandate for American tax payers to support current middle east policy.

Tell me, where am I making that claim?

I am not.

However, I will say this: The international Left supports the enemies of the United States and Israel. Terrorism is a threat to the sovereignty and security of this nation and Congress has approved military action (they should have made a declaration of war, I would agree on this). With that said, there is a Constitutional mandate for action (military, economic and otherwise) for the U.S. government to act...

What Biblical or Constitutional mandate supports your position? I have yet to see one.

26 posted on 04/21/2002 6:17:57 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: straight on red
The only thing that threatens American national security is the potential for international backlash against the decades of imperialist aggression.

This red-flagged the whole thing. It is the standard Leftist 'hate America first' line from places like Beerkeley.

You still have not given me a Constitutional citation concerning U.S. support for Israel. Most of the enemies of Israel are enemies of the United States. We are at war. Although I would have liked a formal Congressional declaration of it; LET'S ROLL !

29 posted on 04/21/2002 5:45:36 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: straight on red
BTW, I did not say you were making that claim. I just said what you posted does not support such a mandate.

It was not my intent to do so. It is the philisophical basis of the Left I am attacking...

30 posted on 04/21/2002 6:01:54 PM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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To: Sir Francis Dashwood
The Europeans hate the Jews, the leftist Jews hate the Jews, the liberals hate the Jews! If you ask me that is paranoia? May be you should consider the radical right-wing policy of Sharon as the reason for the worldwide opposition. The French election over the weekend of a right wing candidate caused a dramatic alarm all over? You should also be alarmed at Sharon the ultra right Prime Minster!
31 posted on 04/22/2002 6:18:53 AM PDT by philosofy123
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To: philosofy123
The Europeans hate the Jews, the leftist Jews hate the Jews, the liberals hate the Jews! If you ask me that is paranoia? May be you should consider the radical right-wing policy of Sharon as the reason for the worldwide opposition.

How about considering the a$$holes who strap bombs to little kids, bomb pzza palors or fly airplanes full of civilians into buildings???

-

The French election over the weekend of a right wing candidate caused a dramatic alarm all over? You should also be alarmed at Sharon the ultra right Prime Minster!

Why? Who's side are you on anyway?

32 posted on 04/22/2002 7:52:21 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: straight on red
You sound to me like a Leftist conspiracy theorist. The big, evil corporations, blah, blah, blah.

I'm tired of those who undermine the conservative movement by these wild unsubstantiated allegations. Leftist subterfuge.

It is those like you that have cost us election after election by promoting the general public thought we are all a bunch of UFO conpiracy cult members.

You need to grow up and realize that although things are not what they seem to be, sometimes it is what is not said that has the most impact.

34 posted on 04/22/2002 8:59:51 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

Comment #36 Removed by Moderator

To: Sir Francis Dashwood
> "...although things are not what they seem to be (1),
sometimes it is what is not said (2) that has the most impact.

Are you responding to what _straight on red_ did say, or what he did not say?

In light of your own guidelines, how exactly should I interpret your post? Since it's not what it seems to be (1), and what you don't say is more important than what you say (2), are you actually saying you endorse conspiracy theories and welcome such people into the republican party?

Mark W.

37 posted on 04/22/2002 10:04:59 AM PDT by MarkWar
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To: MarkWar
In light of your own guidelines, how exactly should I interpret your post?

Why don't you read the initial post of this thread and tell me?

38 posted on 04/22/2002 10:52:12 AM PDT by Sir Francis Dashwood
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