sábado, novembro 05, 2016

Small Latin and Smaller Greek: “AKA Shakespeare - A Scientific Approach to the Authorship Question” by Peter Sturrock


Published 2013.

In my day job, once in a while, especially when I’m getting my feet wet with a new client, I get emails from clients saying stuff like this: “I’m really excited to have you as my new Service Manager”. This is not much different when I get an automatic response from an internet service that goes like: “Hmm, that’s not the right password. Please try again or request a new one” (or something similar). I always assumed “Hmm” was intended to make me think that the automated response was typed, in real time, by a real Turing being – a being who is my pal and writes to me in a conversational style, even using conversational interjections like “Hmm.” Ultimately this is an insult to my “intelligence”. Although I only get slightly miffed when I get responses like those above coming from a machine (or from a new client...), I get real mad when I’m reading a book, wherein the writing is histrionic, narcissistic, and bloated. And I’m not even talking about the supposed “science” therein. I don’t know where this guy, Peter Sturrock, stands when it comes to the authorship question, but after reading this drivel, I think he takes sides with the likes of Derek Jakobi and Mark Rylance. I don’t intend to dwell much on this, like I did the last time, but I’ve got to say something about the math involved. Back in the day, I studied Statistics and Probability, and we’ll knew it always came down to how well our assumptions had to be properly graded, meaning that our levels of confidence had to match our odds of exactitude. Am I supposed to believe Beatrice (one of the four characters in the book) could really make ten trillion statements (10^ (-13) and have only one of them be wrong? Even if she uses "Bayesian" methods? This book is just so full of bullshit, it’s staggering! It promotes, among other things, (equidistant) letter sequences, so popular in the 19th century with those famous Shakespearean occultists like Ignatius L. Donnelly and Orville Ward Owen; the latter even claimed to have discovered Bacon's autobiography embedded in Shakespeare's plays… The Bayes model (the naïve kind) hypothesizes that a body of items (book, newspaper, paper, etc.) is generated by selecting a category for an item then generating the words of that item independently based on a category-specific distribution. The bullshit in question is in taking for granted the words are independent, a hypothesis that’s clearly violated by natural language texts. Moreover, Sturrock’s approach was doomed to fail, because it’s nigh on impossible to compare two real "substantial" personalities (Shakespeare and Edward de Vere) with a fictive unsubstantial "someone" else. I’d have liked to know the result, if Sturrock had replaced "someone else" by Marlowe, for example, using all the knowledge available today, and not by using mumbo-jumbo. The book is a huge fallacy from beginning to end. I’d be able to forgive the clunky and puerile prose, but the bad science not in a million years.

A few years ago I read a thing called “The Cambridge Book of Lesser Poets”. I still have that book on my shelves. I opened it again and I found this gem:

“When Phoebus from the bed / Of Thetis doth arise, / The morning blushing red / In fair carnation wise, / He shows it in her face, / As queen of every grace.”

from “The Shepherd’s Commendation to His Nymph” by Edward de Vere.

Such clunkingly down-to-earth versifying surely would've hit the waste-paper basket of the author of Hamlet, Macbeth, etc., not to mention all those unfailingly fresh, inventive, powerful, yea sublime sonnets.

3 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Is Derek Jakobi the actor Derek Jacobi?
I have no idea of his views on ol' William. Any place that succintly summarizes his views?

Manuel Antão disse...

The one and the same...Incredible, isn't it??

http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1661619,00.html

http://www.npr.org/2016/04/25/475551898/2-shakespearean-actors-revive-debate-over-the-bard-s-identity

Book Stooge disse...

Thanks for the links...