19 March 2023

On Jane Anger, Shakespeare, apostasy, and blasphemy

Bardolatry has been a cornerstone of Quintessence of Dust since I conceived it. I love the plays, sure, but there's always been something else going on.

"Jane Anger"
Shakespeare is one of those extraordinary phenomena that tempts us to seek extraordinary explanations. Like Harold Bloom, I think of the mystery as essentially unsolvable Shakespeare is impossible. Complex conspiracy theories about Shakespeare's identity are to me mere acknowledgements that the mystery can't be solved. For me, to attribute Shakespeare to (say) Francis Bacon is to simply rename the mystery. I don't need an answer to "Who was Shakespeare?" It doesn't actually matter to me, because my Bardolatry was never based on facts about the Bard's life.

For a few decades of my life, I was also a Christian. I was comfortable with mystery about the metaphysical nature of the god I was confessing, stuff like that. Most of my fellow travelers were worried about how to "reconcile" their religious story (about sin and "the fall" and the bible all that) with plain facts about the natural world. I wasn't. One key example: I didn't need an answer to "Who was Adam?" It didn't matter to me, because my willingness to believe in the Christian god had nothing to do with facts about his "life" or about Adam's life. What I did care about was my mistaken belief that this god is worthy of my admiration and worthy of my attention. When I realized he is an insecure loudmouth bully with no capacity for moral responsibility, I ended the toxic relationship almost ten years ago. I won't explore deconversion here; suffice it to say that I concluded that the Christian god is a deviously complex and largely harmful human creation. In religious parlance, this is called apostasy.