Discussion:
Fashioning My Shakespeare
(too old to reply)
Dennis
2021-01-02 02:19:03 UTC
Permalink
Jonson, on Shakespeare

Yet must I not give Nature all: thy art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the FASHION; and, that he
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame,
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn;
For a good poet's made, as well as born;
And such wert thou.

****************************
Jonson/Horace/Horatio:

Jonson's and Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Affliction'
Jonathan Theodore Goossen
(snip)
3.3 "Fashion"ing the match
Much Ado About Nothing is frequently grouped with Shakespeare's central romantic comedies...(snip). Like Epiocene, Much Ado is built around a series of hoaxes that often aim to expose and shame error. it never employs the language of humours comedy, and its characters do genuinely change in response to the hoaxes played upon them, but it nevertheless posits comic error as both deviation from a virtuous mean and self-ignorance. And just a Epiocene expands the range of Jonson's humours comedy by linking individual humours with a meticulously portrayed social milieu, the errors of Much Ado's characters are largely defined in relation to the social conventions of Messina and early modern England more generally.
Shakespeare's term in this play for this elaborate code of behaviour is "FASHION," which functions as both noun and verb and appears prominently throughout the play. Kiernan Ryan suggest that the word

...serves in Much Ado as shorthand for the myriad ways in which human beings are formed and deformed, physically, mentally, and emotionally, by the culture in which they find themselves at a particular moment in history. "Fashion" is the ideal term for this onerous task because in its routine sartorial sense it's the most obvious, graphic proof of how tightly people are defined by their world and time.

Ryan wants to show that the effect of fashion is omnipotent, an insidious discourse from which no one can escape. The play's portrayal of it is more complex that this, however: even as social conventions coerce and efface individual identity, they also symbolize the community's highest visions of love and virtue...

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Kiernan Ryan, Shakespeare's Comedies


Conrad. Yes, it is apparel.
Borachio. I mean the fashion.
Conrad. Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Borachio. Tush, I may as well say the fool's the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is? (III.iii. 116-20, Much Ado)

The pains taken to discriminate the concept of 'fashion' from mere clothing and the emphatic repetition of the term draw attention to it, advising us that more may be at stake in it than meets the idle ear. Then, as we've seen, the Watchman's aside seizes on the phrase 'deformed thief', underscoring and amplifying each term in turn, to make sure we give full weight to the implications of both. The epithet 'deformed' is transmogrified by personification into an imaginary character named 'Deformed', 'a vile thief' whose very identity is stolen, since he 'goes up and down like a gentleman', concealing his criminality beneath the costume and demeanour of the upper class.
The Watchman's aside harbours an encrypted understanding of the power of fashion to disguise and distort the reality of human beings, to turn them into someone they are not by stealing the person they are or the person they might otherwise become. The personification of fashion as an active, independent entity acknowledges the scale and impact of its power, while its appearance in the guise of 'a gentleman' locates the provenance of that power in the ruling class.

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Cynthias Revels, Jonson
Amorphus/Oxford:

He that is with him is Amorphus
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. He walks
most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his
Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-
haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of
Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. He speaks all
Cream skim'd (note - lenis?), and more affected than a dozen of wait-
ing Women. He is his own Promoter in every place.
The Wife of the Ordinary gives him his Diet to main-
tain her Table in discourse, which (indeed) is a meer
Tyranny over the other Guests, for he will usurp all
the talk: *Ten Constables are not so tedious*.

**********************************
Cynthia's Revels, Jonson

TO THE

SPECIAL FOUNTAIN of MANNERS,

The Court.
T
THou art a Bountiful and Brave Spring, and waterest all the Noble Plants of this Island. In thee the whole Kingdom dresseth it self, and is ambitious to use thee as her Glass. Beware then thou render Mens Figures truly, and teach them no less to hate their Deformities, than to love their Forms: For, to Grace, there should come Reverence; and no Man can call that Lovely, which is not also Venerable. It is not Powd'ring, Perfuming, and every day smelling of the Taylor, that converteth to a Beautiful Object: but a Mind shining through any Sute, which needs no False Light, either of Riches or Honours, to help it. Such shalt thou find some here, even in the Reign of C Y N T H I A, (a C R I T E S and an A R E T E.) Now, under thy P H œ B U S, it will be thy Province to make more: Except thou desirest to have thy Source mix with the Spring of Self-love, and so wilt draw upon thee as welcom a Discovery of thy Days, as was then made of her Nights.
Thy Servant, but not Slave,

BEN. JOHNSON.
**********************************
Kiernan Ryan (con't.)

...notwithstanding their personification, the terms 'fashion' and 'Deformed' remain abstractions, which preserves the recognition that their operation is impersonal and endemic, and cannot be attributed to the conscious agency of individuals. fashion is the systemic process by which the appearance and demeanour of individuals are unconsciously 'deformed' - twisted out of their native shape - to fit the current cultural mould, and in the process if becomes 'Deformed ' itself, the ubiquitous, animate epitome of self-estrangement. Although its effects are material and tangible, fashion itself is immaterial and intangible, a phantom force invisibly intent on stealing people's souls by reducing them to spectral simulacra.
Borachio is particularly incensed by the way fashion makes a monkey out of men:
Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is, how giddily a turns about all the hot bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty, sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers in the reechy painting, sometimes like god Bel's priests in the old church window, sometimes like the shaven Hercules in the smirched, worm eaten tapestry, where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
Conrad. All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man. But art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion, too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?

In a play in which male ride performs such a pivotal role, almost producing a tragic catastrophe through the deformation of Hero, and placing a seemingly insuperable barrier between Benedick and Beatrice, it's no accident that Borachio's examples constitute a miniature morphology of masculine deformation. In the course of his tirade, masculinity mutates from the martial image of Pharaoh's soldiers, drowned in the Red Sea while pursuing the Israelites, into the idolatrous high priest of Baal overthrown by daniel for worshipping graven images, and lastly into the supreme image of emasculation, 'the shaven Hercules', which fuses the shorn Samson of the Book of Judges with Hercules humiliated in the house of Omphale by being forced to dress in women's clothes and spin at her command. all three avatars of masculinity portray the pernicious impact of the 'deformed thief' on men, while indicting art for its visual complicity in the process of deformation. The painting of Pharaoh's soldiers, however, is 'reechy' or begrimed with smoke, 'god Bel's priests' are depicted in an 'old church window, and 'the shaven Hercules' belongs in a smirched, worm-eaten tapestry', which makes it plain that these types and travesties of manhood are as passe as the sporting of a 'massy ' codpiece had become by the time of Much Ado.
Borachio's compressed conspectus brings into focus the fact that masculinity is neither innate nor natural, but a mutable cultural construction with its own history. By doing so, it exposes the disparity between what men happen to be like in the present and what they happened to be like in the past, and thus implies the prospect of their being different again in the future. it invites us to adopt its attitude of detachment from modes of manhood that deserve to be discarded as the postures of a bygone era, however tenacious in reality they may be. To accept that invitation is to glimpse a space in which alternative styles of masculinity might be faShioned. In the interim, however, it's men's helpless subjection fo the giddy whims of fashioning that's most apparent, as Conrad's reply reminds us: 'I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man.'

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Jonson, Discoveries

DE VERE argutis. - I do hear them say often some men are not witty, because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose! I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the place. But now nothing is good that is natural; RIGHT and NATURAL LANGUAGE seems to have least of the WIT in it; that which is WRITHED and tortured is counted the more exquisite. Cloth of bodkin or tissue must be embroidered; as if no face were fair that were not POWDERED or PAINTED! no beauty to be had but in wresting and WRITHING our own tongue! Nothing is fashionable till it be DEFORMED; and this is to write like a gentleman. All must be affected and preposterous as our gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would think our men lay in, like LADIES, it is so CURIOUS.

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Cinaedus

Amy Richlin --

Effeminate actio repels him (Quintilain) Inst. 4.2.390: 'They bend their voices and incline their necks and flail their arms against their sides and act sext (lasciviunt) in their whole style of subject matter, words and composition; finally, what is like a monstrosity (monstro), the actio pleases, while the case is not intelligible.'
In an extended passage (2.5.10-12), he [Quintilian] complains that 'corrupt and vice-filled ways of speaking' (corruptas et vitiosas orationes) find popular favour out of the moral degradation of their audience; they are full of what is 'improper, obscure, swollen, vulgar, dirty, sext, effeminate' (impropria, obscura, tumida, huilis, sordida, lasciva, effeminate). And they are praised precisely because they are 'perverse' (prava). Instead of speech that is 'straight' (rectus) and 'natural' (secundum naturam), people like waht is 'bent' (deflexa). He concludes with a lengthy analogy between the taste for such speech and admiration for bodies that are 'twisted' (distortis) and 'monstrous' (prodigiosis) - even those that have been 'depilated and smoothed', adorned with curled hair and cosmetic, rather than deriving their beauty from 'uncorrupted nature' (incorrupta natura). 'The result is that is seems that beauty of the body comes from bad morals.'
The bad body, in Quintilian's book, is that elsewhere associated with the cinaedus [catamite]; bad speech is effeminata, good speech is 'straight' and natural, tallying with the common assertion that the actions of the cinaedus are 'against nature'. The effeminate body stands both by metonymy and synecdoche for the kind of speech that Quintilian rejects; bad speech is both like such bodies and produced by such bodies.
**********************************

Gabriel Harvey gives us the Earl of Oxford's style:

Speculum Tuscanismi:

Since Galatea came in, and Tuscanism gan usurp,
Vanity above all: villainy next her, stateliness Empress
No man but minion, stout, lout, plain, swain, quoth a Lording:
No words but valorous, no works but womanish only.
For life Magnificoes, not a beck but glorious in show,
In deed most frivolous, not a look but Tuscanish always.
His cringing side neck, eyes glancing, fisnamy smirking,
With forefinger kiss, and brave embrace to the footward.
Large bellied Cod-pieced doublet, uncod-pieced half hose,
Straight to the dock like a shirt, and close to the britch like a diveling.
A little Apish flat couched fast to the pate like an oyster,
French camarick ruffs, deep with a whiteness starched to the purpose.
Every one A per se A, his terms and braveries in print,
Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points,
In Courtly guiles a passing singular odd man...

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Chapman, Bussy D'Ambois - Bringing Deformed Forth on Stage

Clermont.
AND YET he (Earle of Oxford) cast it onely in the way,105
To stay and serve the world. Nor did it fit
His owne true estimate how much it waigh'd;
FOR HEE DESPIS'D IT, and esteem'd it freer
To keepe his owne way straight, and swore that hee
Had rather make away his whole estate110
In things that crost the vulgar then he would
Be frozen up stiffe (like a Sir John Smith,
His countrey-man) in common Nobles FASHIONS;
Affecting, as't the end of noblesse were,
Those servile observations.

**********************************
...But let them rest, that thus will rust: and for your selues, worthy Gentlemen, keepe your Armes bright; and thereby your names, your vertues, your soules: you shall be honoured in good mens hearts, whilst wanton and effeminate Gulls shall weaue and weare their owne disgraces. Thomas Adams 1617
**********************************
A Wanton Trade of Living: Rhetoric, Effeminacy and the Early Modern Courtier
Jennifer Richards


...Elizabethan indifference to the effeminizing effects of the kind of courtiership described in Il cortegiano seems all the more inexplicable given contemporary fears of the manipulable, will-less and ungendered self. Such fears of effeminization were levelled at theatrical cross-dressing, at the translation of bawdy Italian romances, and at the foibles of Italian (and French) manners and fashions, but not, apparently, at the steady flow of “englished” Italian courtesy books, including Il cortegiano, which inculcate such tastes. It is not that Il cortegiano presents an unambiguous portrait of virtuous courtiership. In fact, Hoby’s translation captures for English readers the surreptitious practice and optimistic ends of an Italian courtier who aims to “allure” (adescare) his prince to him, and to “distille” (infondere) into his mind “goodness” and “contintencie” and “temperance”. In its fourth and final book its principal speaker, Ottaviano, promises to defend the courtier from the charge that his “precise faciouns” and “meerie talk” described in books I-III will make him “womanish” (effeminare), and susceptible “to a most wanton trade of livinge”. Yet, he appears naively (or disingenuously) to believe that a virtuous end justifies covert “womanish” means. On his view, the courtier aims to “enflame” (edditare) his prince to goodness and to “leade him throughe the roughe way of virtue…deckynge yt about with boowes to shadowe yt and strawinge it over with sightlye flowers, to ease (temperare) the greefe of the peinfull journey in hym that is but of a weake force.” With the help of “musike,” “armes,” “horses,” “rymes and meeter,” and “otherwhyle with communication of love,” the courtier keeps his prince “occupyed in honest pleasure,” using “these flickering provocations” (illecebra) to bring him to “some virtuous condicion,” “beguilinge him with a holsome craft, as the warie phistiens do, …whan they minister to yonge and tender children”(…)
*********************************
Jonson, Cynthia's Revels -
O vanity,
How are thy painted beauties doted on,
By light, and empty Idiots how pursu'd
With open and extended Appetite!
How they do sweat, and run themselves from breath,
Rais'd on their Toes, to catch thy AIRY FORMS,
Still turning GIDDY, till they reel like Drunkards,
That buy the merry madness of one hour,
With the long irksomness of following time!
O how despis'd and base a thing is a Man,
If he not strive t'erect his groveling Thoughts
Above the strain of Flesh! But how more cheap,
When, even his best and understanding Part,
(The crown and strength of all his Faculties)
Floats like a dead drownd Body, on the Stream
Of vulgar humour, mixt with common'st dregs? (note- Ophelia?)
I suffer for their Guilt now, and my Soul
(Like one that looks on ill-affected Eyes)
Is hurt with mere intention on their Follies.
Why will I view them then? my sense might ask me:
Or is't a rarity, or some new object,
That strains my strict observance to this Point?
O would it were, therein I could afford
My Spirit should draw a little neer to theirs,
To gaze on novelties: so Vice were one.
Tut, she is stale, rank, foul, and were it not
That those (that woo her) greet her with lockt Eyes,
(In spight of all the impostures, paintings, drugs,
Which her Bawd custom dawbs her Cheeks withal)
She would betray her loath'd and leprous Face,
And fright th' enamour'd dotards from themselves:
But such is the perverseness of our nature,
That if we once but fancy levity,
(How antick and ridiculous so ere
It sute with us) yet will our muffled thought
Choose rather not to see it, than avoid it:
And if we can but banish our own sense,
We act our mimick tricks with that free license,
That lust, that pleasure, that security,
As if we practis'd in a Paste-board Case,
And no one saw the motion, but the motion.
Well, check thy passion, lest it grow too lowd:
"While fools are pittied, they wax fat and proud

****************************

Chapman. Bringing Deformed Forth on Stage
Clermont:
I over-tooke, comming from Italie,
In Germanie a great and famous Earle85
Of England, the most goodly fashion'd man
I ever saw; from head to foote in forme
Rare and most absolute; hee had a face
Like one of the most ancient honour'd Romanes
From whence his noblest familie was deriv'd;90
He was beside of spirit passing great,
Valiant, and learn'd, and liberall as the sunne,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of publike weales;
And t'was the Earle of Oxford: and being offer'd95

At that time, by Duke Cassimere, the view
Of his right royall armie then in field,
Refus'd it, and no foote was mov'd to stirre
Out of his owne free fore-determin'd course.
I, wondring at it, askt for it his reason,100
It being an offer so much for his honour.
Hee, all acknowledging, said t'was not fit
To take those honours that one cannot quit. (Revenge Bussy D'Ambois, III, iv, lines 84-104)

*********************************
Soul of the Age:


Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius

...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe
Those that we have, and those that we want too:
Th'art all so good, that reading makes thee worse,
And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.
Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate
That servile base dependance upon fate:
Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,
Which chance, and TH'AGES FASHION DID MAKE HIT;
*Excluding those from life in after-time*,
Who into Po'try first brought luck and rime:
Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name
What was but noise; and getting Briefes for fame
Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence
Made COMMENDATION a BENEVOLENCE:
THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win
That best applause of being crown'd within..

**********************************

Ren. Twas answer'd like the man you have describ'd.

Clermont. AND YET he cast it onely in the way,105
To stay and serve the world. Nor did it fit
His owne true estimate how much it waigh'd;
FOR HEE DESPIS'D IT, and esteem'd it freer
To keepe his owne way straight, and swore that hee
Had rather make away his whole estate110
In things that crost the vulgar then he would
Be frozen up stiffe (like a Sir John Smith,
His countrey-man) in common Nobles fashions;
Affecting, as't the end of noblesse were,
Those servile observations.


Ren. It was strange. 115


Clermont. O tis a vexing sight to see a man,
OUT OF HIS WAY, stalke PROUD as HEE WERE IN;
OUT OF HIS WAY, to be officious,
Observant, wary, serious, and grave,
Fearefull, and passionate, insulting, raging,
Labour with iron flailes to thresh downe feathers
Flitting in ayre.
Ren. What one considers this,
Of all that are thus out? or once endevours,
Erring, to enter on mans RIGHT-HAND PATH?
Cler. These are too grave for brave wits; give them toyes;
Labour bestow'd on these is harsh and thriftlesse. (snip)

**********************************

The Absolute Courtier in Castiglione:

In Saccone's reading [of Castiglione's Courtier], Cesare's move places the emphasis of the remainder of the discussion on the 'Aristotelian middle ground between two exceptional conditions,' the 'absolute perfection' of those who are 'perfectly endowed by nature' and the imperfection of 'the absolutely ungifted.' But I think it does something more complex and intereting. It relegates the ascriptive ideal of natural perfection to the background as a reality possessed by a lucky few, and leaves it standing as a real ideal to be imitated by the less fortunate majority, which may include not only klutzy patricians but also clever arrivistes. To reiterate that grazia is a grace beyond the reach of art just before the account of sprezzatura is to make deficiency in grazia the enabling condition of ideal courtiership. The ideal courtier is not the absolute courtier. The latter is a rara avis, though a real one; his grazia is fully embodied, 'organic,' and inalienable, the transcendent state of self-possession to which others may aspire but can never attain. The ideal courtier is being imagined by the interlocutors as a simulacrum necessitated by the failure of the ascriptive ideal, which is also a physiognomic and logocentric ideal. The portray a typified abstraction (a schema, an Idea) that may be copied and copiously replicated in rule-governed acts of reincorporation through which the actors transform faces and bodies into signs of the perfect mental and psychic grace denied them by nature. Sprezzatura is envisaged as the false lookalike that threatens to displace grazia.

absolute courtier - the original
ideal courtier - the image

The Absence of Grace - Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books
Harry Berger, Jr. (p.17)

**************************************
Fountain/water/humour

Mario DiGangi, Male deformities’: NARCISSUS and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels in Ovid and the Renaissance Body

...Narcissus himself [...] never even appears during the course of the play. however, the corrupting Fountain of Self-love, the emblematic source of narcissism introduced at the very beginning of the play, seems to be a permanent fixture at Cynthia's court, for no mention is made of its ultimate destruction or purification. for Jonson's audience, the survival of the symbolically cominant fountain of Self-love might well have presaged that narcissistic manners would continue to deform the individual bodies of courtiers as well as the collective body of the court. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can regard the Fountain's endurance as a sign of the ideological conflict over elite male comportment that would continue to be waged, in early modern England, *as the legacy of Narcissus*.

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Sonnet CXXIV
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our FASHION calls:
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.

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Sonnet CXXIII
No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change:
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but DRESSINGS of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow and this shall ever be;
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.
marc hanson
2021-01-15 17:13:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dennis
Jonson, on Shakespeare
Yet must I not give Nature all: thy art,
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part.
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the FASHION; and, that he
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame,
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn;
For a good poet's made, as well as born;
And such wert thou.
****************************
Jonson's and Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Affliction'
Jonathan Theodore Goossen
(snip)
3.3 "Fashion"ing the match
Much Ado About Nothing is frequently grouped with Shakespeare's central romantic comedies...(snip). Like Epiocene, Much Ado is built around a series of hoaxes that often aim to expose and shame error. it never employs the language of humours comedy, and its characters do genuinely change in response to the hoaxes played upon them, but it nevertheless posits comic error as both deviation from a virtuous mean and self-ignorance. And just a Epiocene expands the range of Jonson's humours comedy by linking individual humours with a meticulously portrayed social milieu, the errors of Much Ado's characters are largely defined in relation to the social conventions of Messina and early modern England more generally.
Shakespeare's term in this play for this elaborate code of behaviour is "FASHION," which functions as both noun and verb and appears prominently throughout the play. Kiernan Ryan suggest that the word
...serves in Much Ado as shorthand for the myriad ways in which human beings are formed and deformed, physically, mentally, and emotionally, by the culture in which they find themselves at a particular moment in history. "Fashion" is the ideal term for this onerous task because in its routine sartorial sense it's the most obvious, graphic proof of how tightly people are defined by their world and time.
Ryan wants to show that the effect of fashion is omnipotent, an insidious discourse from which no one can escape. The play's portrayal of it is more complex that this, however: even as social conventions coerce and efface individual identity, they also symbolize the community's highest visions of love and virtue...
***********************************
Kiernan Ryan, Shakespeare's Comedies
Conrad. Yes, it is apparel.
Borachio. I mean the fashion.
Conrad. Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Borachio. Tush, I may as well say the fool's the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is? (III.iii. 116-20, Much Ado)
The pains taken to discriminate the concept of 'fashion' from mere clothing and the emphatic repetition of the term draw attention to it, advising us that more may be at stake in it than meets the idle ear. Then, as we've seen, the Watchman's aside seizes on the phrase 'deformed thief', underscoring and amplifying each term in turn, to make sure we give full weight to the implications of both. The epithet 'deformed' is transmogrified by personification into an imaginary character named 'Deformed', 'a vile thief' whose very identity is stolen, since he 'goes up and down like a gentleman', concealing his criminality beneath the costume and demeanour of the upper class.
The Watchman's aside harbours an encrypted understanding of the power of fashion to disguise and distort the reality of human beings, to turn them into someone they are not by stealing the person they are or the person they might otherwise become. The personification of fashion as an active, independent entity acknowledges the scale and impact of its power, while its appearance in the guise of 'a gentleman' locates the provenance of that power in the ruling class.
**********************************
Cynthias Revels, Jonson
He that is with him is Amorphus
a Traveller, one so made out of the mixture and shreds
of forms, that himself is truly deform'd. He walks
most commonly with a Clove or Pick-tooth in his
Mouth, he is the very mint of Complement, all his Be-
haviours are printed, his Face is another Volume of
Essayes; and his Beard an Aristrachus. He speaks all
Cream skim'd (note - lenis?), and more affected than a dozen of wait-
ing Women. He is his own Promoter in every place.
The Wife of the Ordinary gives him his Diet to main-
tain her Table in discourse, which (indeed) is a meer
Tyranny over the other Guests, for he will usurp all
the talk: *Ten Constables are not so tedious*.
**********************************
Cynthia's Revels, Jonson
TO THE
SPECIAL FOUNTAIN of MANNERS,
The Court.
T
THou art a Bountiful and Brave Spring, and waterest all the Noble Plants of this Island. In thee the whole Kingdom dresseth it self, and is ambitious to use thee as her Glass. Beware then thou render Mens Figures truly, and teach them no less to hate their Deformities, than to love their Forms: For, to Grace, there should come Reverence; and no Man can call that Lovely, which is not also Venerable. It is not Powd'ring, Perfuming, and every day smelling of the Taylor, that converteth to a Beautiful Object: but a Mind shining through any Sute, which needs no False Light, either of Riches or Honours, to help it. Such shalt thou find some here, even in the Reign of C Y N T H I A, (a C R I T E S and an A R E T E.) Now, under thy P H œ B U S, it will be thy Province to make more: Except thou desirest to have thy Source mix with the Spring of Self-love, and so wilt draw upon thee as welcom a Discovery of thy Days, as was then made of her Nights.
Thy Servant, but not Slave,
BEN. JOHNSON.
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Kiernan Ryan (con't.)
...notwithstanding their personification, the terms 'fashion' and 'Deformed' remain abstractions, which preserves the recognition that their operation is impersonal and endemic, and cannot be attributed to the conscious agency of individuals. fashion is the systemic process by which the appearance and demeanour of individuals are unconsciously 'deformed' - twisted out of their native shape - to fit the current cultural mould, and in the process if becomes 'Deformed ' itself, the ubiquitous, animate epitome of self-estrangement. Although its effects are material and tangible, fashion itself is immaterial and intangible, a phantom force invisibly intent on stealing people's souls by reducing them to spectral simulacra.
Seest thou not, I say, what a deformed thief this fashion is, how giddily a turns about all the hot bloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty, sometimes fashioning them like Pharaoh's soldiers in the reechy painting, sometimes like god Bel's priests in the old church window, sometimes like the shaven Hercules in the smirched, worm eaten tapestry, where his codpiece seems as massy as his club?
Conrad. All this I see, and I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man. But art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion, too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?
In a play in which male ride performs such a pivotal role, almost producing a tragic catastrophe through the deformation of Hero, and placing a seemingly insuperable barrier between Benedick and Beatrice, it's no accident that Borachio's examples constitute a miniature morphology of masculine deformation. In the course of his tirade, masculinity mutates from the martial image of Pharaoh's soldiers, drowned in the Red Sea while pursuing the Israelites, into the idolatrous high priest of Baal overthrown by daniel for worshipping graven images, and lastly into the supreme image of emasculation, 'the shaven Hercules', which fuses the shorn Samson of the Book of Judges with Hercules humiliated in the house of Omphale by being forced to dress in women's clothes and spin at her command. all three avatars of masculinity portray the pernicious impact of the 'deformed thief' on men, while indicting art for its visual complicity in the process of deformation. The painting of Pharaoh's soldiers, however, is 'reechy' or begrimed with smoke, 'god Bel's priests' are depicted in an 'old church window, and 'the shaven Hercules' belongs in a smirched, worm-eaten tapestry', which makes it plain that these types and travesties of manhood are as passe as the sporting of a 'massy ' codpiece had become by the time of Much Ado.
Borachio's compressed conspectus brings into focus the fact that masculinity is neither innate nor natural, but a mutable cultural construction with its own history. By doing so, it exposes the disparity between what men happen to be like in the present and what they happened to be like in the past, and thus implies the prospect of their being different again in the future. it invites us to adopt its attitude of detachment from modes of manhood that deserve to be discarded as the postures of a bygone era, however tenacious in reality they may be. To accept that invitation is to glimpse a space in which alternative styles of masculinity might be faShioned. In the interim, however, it's men's helpless subjection fo the giddy whims of fashioning that's most apparent, as Conrad's reply reminds us: 'I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man.'
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Jonson, Discoveries
DE VERE argutis. - I do hear them say often some men are not witty, because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose! I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the place. But now nothing is good that is natural; RIGHT and NATURAL LANGUAGE seems to have least of the WIT in it; that which is WRITHED and tortured is counted the more exquisite. Cloth of bodkin or tissue must be embroidered; as if no face were fair that were not POWDERED or PAINTED! no beauty to be had but in wresting and WRITHING our own tongue! Nothing is fashionable till it be DEFORMED; and this is to write like a gentleman. All must be affected and preposterous as our gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would think our men lay in, like LADIES, it is so CURIOUS.
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Cinaedus
Amy Richlin --
Effeminate actio repels him (Quintilain) Inst. 4.2.390: 'They bend their voices and incline their necks and flail their arms against their sides and act sext (lasciviunt) in their whole style of subject matter, words and composition; finally, what is like a monstrosity (monstro), the actio pleases, while the case is not intelligible.'
In an extended passage (2.5.10-12), he [Quintilian] complains that 'corrupt and vice-filled ways of speaking' (corruptas et vitiosas orationes) find popular favour out of the moral degradation of their audience; they are full of what is 'improper, obscure, swollen, vulgar, dirty, sext, effeminate' (impropria, obscura, tumida, huilis, sordida, lasciva, effeminate). And they are praised precisely because they are 'perverse' (prava). Instead of speech that is 'straight' (rectus) and 'natural' (secundum naturam), people like waht is 'bent' (deflexa). He concludes with a lengthy analogy between the taste for such speech and admiration for bodies that are 'twisted' (distortis) and 'monstrous' (prodigiosis) - even those that have been 'depilated and smoothed', adorned with curled hair and cosmetic, rather than deriving their beauty from 'uncorrupted nature' (incorrupta natura). 'The result is that is seems that beauty of the body comes from bad morals.'
The bad body, in Quintilian's book, is that elsewhere associated with the cinaedus [catamite]; bad speech is effeminata, good speech is 'straight' and natural, tallying with the common assertion that the actions of the cinaedus are 'against nature'. The effeminate body stands both by metonymy and synecdoche for the kind of speech that Quintilian rejects; bad speech is both like such bodies and produced by such bodies.
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Since Galatea came in, and Tuscanism gan usurp,
Vanity above all: villainy next her, stateliness Empress
No words but valorous, no works but womanish only.
For life Magnificoes, not a beck but glorious in show,
In deed most frivolous, not a look but Tuscanish always.
His cringing side neck, eyes glancing, fisnamy smirking,
With forefinger kiss, and brave embrace to the footward.
Large bellied Cod-pieced doublet, uncod-pieced half hose,
Straight to the dock like a shirt, and close to the britch like a diveling.
A little Apish flat couched fast to the pate like an oyster,
French camarick ruffs, deep with a whiteness starched to the purpose.
Every one A per se A, his terms and braveries in print,
Delicate in speech, quaint in array: conceited in all points,
In Courtly guiles a passing singular odd man...
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Chapman, Bussy D'Ambois - Bringing Deformed Forth on Stage
Clermont.
AND YET he (Earle of Oxford) cast it onely in the way,105
To stay and serve the world. Nor did it fit
His owne true estimate how much it waigh'd;
FOR HEE DESPIS'D IT, and esteem'd it freer
To keepe his owne way straight, and swore that hee
Had rather make away his whole estate110
In things that crost the vulgar then he would
Be frozen up stiffe (like a Sir John Smith,
His countrey-man) in common Nobles FASHIONS;
Affecting, as't the end of noblesse were,
Those servile observations.
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...But let them rest, that thus will rust: and for your selues, worthy Gentlemen, keepe your Armes bright; and thereby your names, your vertues, your soules: you shall be honoured in good mens hearts, whilst wanton and effeminate Gulls shall weaue and weare their owne disgraces. Thomas Adams 1617
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A Wanton Trade of Living: Rhetoric, Effeminacy and the Early Modern Courtier
Jennifer Richards
...Elizabethan indifference to the effeminizing effects of the kind of courtiership described in Il cortegiano seems all the more inexplicable given contemporary fears of the manipulable, will-less and ungendered self. Such fears of effeminization were levelled at theatrical cross-dressing, at the translation of bawdy Italian romances, and at the foibles of Italian (and French) manners and fashions, but not, apparently, at the steady flow of “englished” Italian courtesy books, including Il cortegiano, which inculcate such tastes. It is not that Il cortegiano presents an unambiguous portrait of virtuous courtiership. In fact, Hoby’s translation captures for English readers the surreptitious practice and optimistic ends of an Italian courtier who aims to “allure” (adescare) his prince to him, and to “distille” (infondere) into his mind “goodness” and “contintencie” and “temperance”. In its fourth and final book its principal speaker, Ottaviano, promises to defend the courtier from the charge that his “precise faciouns” and “meerie talk” described in books I-III will make him “womanish” (effeminare), and susceptible “to a most wanton trade of livinge”. Yet, he appears naively (or disingenuously) to believe that a virtuous end justifies covert “womanish” means. On his view, the courtier aims to “enflame” (edditare) his prince to goodness and to “leade him throughe the roughe way of virtue…deckynge yt about with boowes to shadowe yt and strawinge it over with sightlye flowers, to ease (temperare) the greefe of the peinfull journey in hym that is but of a weake force.” With the help of “musike,” “armes,” “horses,” “rymes and meeter,” and “otherwhyle with communication of love,” the courtier keeps his prince “occupyed in honest pleasure,” using “these flickering provocations” (illecebra) to bring him to “some virtuous condicion,” “beguilinge him with a holsome craft, as the warie phistiens do, …whan they minister to yonge and tender children”(…)
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Jonson, Cynthia's Revels -
O vanity,
How are thy painted beauties doted on,
By light, and empty Idiots how pursu'd
With open and extended Appetite!
How they do sweat, and run themselves from breath,
Rais'd on their Toes, to catch thy AIRY FORMS,
Still turning GIDDY, till they reel like Drunkards,
That buy the merry madness of one hour,
With the long irksomness of following time!
O how despis'd and base a thing is a Man,
If he not strive t'erect his groveling Thoughts
Above the strain of Flesh! But how more cheap,
When, even his best and understanding Part,
(The crown and strength of all his Faculties)
Floats like a dead drownd Body, on the Stream
Of vulgar humour, mixt with common'st dregs? (note- Ophelia?)
I suffer for their Guilt now, and my Soul
(Like one that looks on ill-affected Eyes)
Is hurt with mere intention on their Follies.
Or is't a rarity, or some new object,
That strains my strict observance to this Point?
O would it were, therein I could afford
My Spirit should draw a little neer to theirs,
To gaze on novelties: so Vice were one.
Tut, she is stale, rank, foul, and were it not
That those (that woo her) greet her with lockt Eyes,
(In spight of all the impostures, paintings, drugs,
Which her Bawd custom dawbs her Cheeks withal)
She would betray her loath'd and leprous Face,
But such is the perverseness of our nature,
That if we once but fancy levity,
(How antick and ridiculous so ere
It sute with us) yet will our muffled thought
And if we can but banish our own sense,
We act our mimick tricks with that free license,
That lust, that pleasure, that security,
As if we practis'd in a Paste-board Case,
And no one saw the motion, but the motion.
"While fools are pittied, they wax fat and proud
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Chapman. Bringing Deformed Forth on Stage
I over-tooke, comming from Italie,
In Germanie a great and famous Earle85
Of England, the most goodly fashion'd man
I ever saw; from head to foote in forme
Rare and most absolute; hee had a face
Like one of the most ancient honour'd Romanes
From whence his noblest familie was deriv'd;90
He was beside of spirit passing great,
Valiant, and learn'd, and liberall as the sunne,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of publike weales;
And t'was the Earle of Oxford: and being offer'd95
At that time, by Duke Cassimere, the view
Of his right royall armie then in field,
Refus'd it, and no foote was mov'd to stirre
Out of his owne free fore-determin'd course.
I, wondring at it, askt for it his reason,100
It being an offer so much for his honour.
Hee, all acknowledging, said t'was not fit
To take those honours that one cannot quit. (Revenge Bussy D'Ambois, III, iv, lines 84-104)
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Cartwright, William, Jonsonus Virbius
...Blest life of Authors, unto whom we owe
Th'art all so good, that reading makes thee worse,
And to have writ so well's thine onely curse.
Secure then of thy merit, thou didst hate
Successe thou ne'r thoughtst vertue, nor that fit,
Which chance, and TH'AGES FASHION DID MAKE HIT;
*Excluding those from life in after-time*,
Who thought the peoples breath good ayre: sty'ld name
What was but noise; and getting Briefes for fame
Gathered the many's suffrages, and thence
THY thoughts were their owne Lawrell, and did win
That best applause of being crown'd within..
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Ren. Twas answer'd like the man you have describ'd.
Clermont. AND YET he cast it onely in the way,105
To stay and serve the world. Nor did it fit
His owne true estimate how much it waigh'd;
FOR HEE DESPIS'D IT, and esteem'd it freer
To keepe his owne way straight, and swore that hee
Had rather make away his whole estate110
In things that crost the vulgar then he would
Be frozen up stiffe (like a Sir John Smith,
His countrey-man) in common Nobles fashions;
Affecting, as't the end of noblesse were,
Those servile observations.
Ren. It was strange. 115
Clermont. O tis a vexing sight to see a man,
OUT OF HIS WAY, stalke PROUD as HEE WERE IN;
OUT OF HIS WAY, to be officious,
Observant, wary, serious, and grave,
Fearefull, and passionate, insulting, raging,
Labour with iron flailes to thresh downe feathers
Flitting in ayre.
Ren. What one considers this,
Of all that are thus out? or once endevours,
Erring, to enter on mans RIGHT-HAND PATH?
Cler. These are too grave for brave wits; give them toyes;
Labour bestow'd on these is harsh and thriftlesse. (snip)
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In Saccone's reading [of Castiglione's Courtier], Cesare's move places the emphasis of the remainder of the discussion on the 'Aristotelian middle ground between two exceptional conditions,' the 'absolute perfection' of those who are 'perfectly endowed by nature' and the imperfection of 'the absolutely ungifted.' But I think it does something more complex and intereting. It relegates the ascriptive ideal of natural perfection to the background as a reality possessed by a lucky few, and leaves it standing as a real ideal to be imitated by the less fortunate majority, which may include not only klutzy patricians but also clever arrivistes. To reiterate that grazia is a grace beyond the reach of art just before the account of sprezzatura is to make deficiency in grazia the enabling condition of ideal courtiership. The ideal courtier is not the absolute courtier. The latter is a rara avis, though a real one; his grazia is fully embodied, 'organic,' and inalienable, the transcendent state of self-possession to which others may aspire but can never attain. The ideal courtier is being imagined by the interlocutors as a simulacrum necessitated by the failure of the ascriptive ideal, which is also a physiognomic and logocentric ideal. The portray a typified abstraction (a schema, an Idea) that may be copied and copiously replicated in rule-governed acts of reincorporation through which the actors transform faces and bodies into signs of the perfect mental and psychic grace denied them by nature. Sprezzatura is envisaged as the false lookalike that threatens to displace grazia.
absolute courtier - the original
ideal courtier - the image
The Absence of Grace - Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books
Harry Berger, Jr. (p.17)
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Fountain/water/humour
Mario DiGangi, Male deformities’: NARCISSUS and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels in Ovid and the Renaissance Body
...Narcissus himself [...] never even appears during the course of the play. however, the corrupting Fountain of Self-love, the emblematic source of narcissism introduced at the very beginning of the play, seems to be a permanent fixture at Cynthia's court, for no mention is made of its ultimate destruction or purification. for Jonson's audience, the survival of the symbolically cominant fountain of Self-love might well have presaged that narcissistic manners would continue to deform the individual bodies of courtiers as well as the collective body of the court. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can regard the Fountain's endurance as a sign of the ideological conflict over elite male comportment that would continue to be waged, in early modern England, *as the legacy of Narcissus*.
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Sonnet CXXIV
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
It fears not policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-number'd hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.
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Sonnet CXXIII
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but DRESSINGS of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old;
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wondering at the present nor the past,
For thy records and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow and this shall ever be;
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee..
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