Saturday, March 5, 2011

Parallels on Love and Chaos

Parallels on Love and Chaos
(And just a reminder here that "Shake-Speare" is not referring to the actor from Stratford, but to the author of the Shakespeare works).


For he being dead, with him is beauty slain,
And, beauty dead, black Chaos comes again.
  Venus and Adonis 1019

Vast sin-concealing Chaos, nurse of blame!
  The Rape of Lucrece  767

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
  Romeo And Juliet 1.1.177

But I do love thee, and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
  Othello 3.3.92-3

Now Bacon:

 " They say that this love [Cupid] was the most ancient of the gods and therefore of all things else, except Chaos which they held to be coeval with him. He is without any parent of his own but himself united with chaos begat the gods and all things...
  This Chaos then, which was contemporary with Cupid, signified the rude mass or congregation of matter...There was no efficient cause of it...consequently neither genus nor form...
   The ancients set down the first matter (such as may be the beginning of things) as having form and qualities, not as abstract, potential and unshapen...Chaos is without form."
The above quotes are from Bacon's Principles and Origins.

"Matter is not without a certain inclination and appetite to dissolve the world and fall back into the ancient Chaos; but that the overswaying concord of things (which is represented by Cupid or Love) restrains its will and effect in that direction and reduces it to order."
  The Wisdom of the Ancients

Cockburn Comments:  The Shake-Speare texts seem to have baffled Stratfordian scholars. Here are their attempts at explaining the idea of Chaos. The Variorum editor 
( ) notes on the Othello text:

Chaos: JOHNSON: "When my love is for a moment suspended by suspicion, I have nothing in my mind but discord, tumult, perturbation and confusion". STEVENS: There is another meaning possible: "When I cease to love thee, the world is at an end", i.e, there remains nothing valuable or important. The first explanation [continues the Variorum editor] may be more elegant; the second is perhaps more easy. There is the same thought in Venus and Adonis (Line 1019):
      "For he being dead, with him is beauty slain,
       And, beauty dead, black Chaos comes again..."
FRANZ HORN: Othello refers to the chaos in his life before he knew Desdemona.

Cockburn comments continued: "Chaos" should have given modern scholars no difficulty, since the O.E.D. gives as one meaning of the word "The 'formless void' of primordial matter, the 'great deep' or 'abyss' out of which the cosmos or order of the universe was evolved". It cites several examples, including yet another text from Bacon (The Advancement of Learning): "The order and disposition of that Chaos or Mass was the work of 6 days". As to the relationship between Chaos and Love, that is explained by the  Bacon passages. Othello says that, if he stops loving Desdemonia, Chaos will come again because it is only love which converts Chaos into form. As to the Romeo And Juliet text, I know of no Stratfordian comment on it. But it is obviously a reference to the same ancient myth. The line is included in a list of impossibilities or contradictions. "Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!" is intended as a paradox, a contradiction in terms - chaos cannot have form. The ancient myth about Chaos and Love, and how it could be related to his philosophy, was a major preoccupation with Bacon. And he and Shake-speare even echo each other in language - "misshapen / unshapen". "form / form".

At long last one Stratfordian scholar at least has now cottoned on to the true explanation. The American editor of the New Cambridge Shakespeare cites two references to the mythological relationship between Love and Chaos in two minor Ben Jonson works - Love Freed from Ignorance and Folly,  p. 26-7 and The Masque of Beauty, pp. 282-5 and 326-8. The Baconians have known the explanation for about 100 years. And there are the Bacon/Shake-Speare echoes in language mentioned. Plus, remember that Ben Jonson was a friend and translator of some of Bacon's works into Latin.

Bacon obviously did not borrow from Shake-Speare as the terms are part of the extensive philosophical thought of Bacon. And Shake-Speare (who evidently knew about Love and Chaos as early as Romeo And Juliet) cannot have borrowed from Bacon since both plays were written before either Bacon work was published.

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