Monday, 10 March 2008

Can a Reading be Disproven? The conversation began with Rohan Maitzen's questioning the status of "findings" in the humanities, and I'll bring it back there shortly. Right now, JPool's response to Rich's hypothetical—"think about what you'd have to do to show no connection between Elizabethan architecture and the structure of Shakespeare's plays"—demands your attention: From the Journal of Literary Primatology: Abstract: Under labratory conditions three groups of infinite numbers of monkeys (hereafter, INM) were given a corresponding infinite number of word processors (Hamilton, et al., 2003, having shown definitively that no overall difference in results obtained from the use of word processors rather than typewriters) and allowed sufficient time (ST) to reproduce all of Shakespeare's plays. Group A were raised in a physical environment consisting of nothing but Elizabethan architecture. Group B were raised under normal monkey conditions, but then given intensive exposure to and instruction in the field of Elizabethan architecture. Group C, the control group, were allowed no exposure to Elizabethan or neo-Elizabethan architecture. The three INM groups were monitored in real time, and their literary output, including fragments and drafts, were compared to all of Shakespeare's plays. At the end of ST, no disceranble difference was present in the literary output of each INM grouping. The three grops did produce variations on the plays' known plots and characters. For example, Group A produced a variation on "Othello" in which Desdemona, not actually dead, but only winded and contused, arose at the end of the play, only to kill herself again. Group C, produced a number of versions of "The Merchant of Venice" in which Shylock is indeed awarded a pound of flesh, thoroughly drained of blood, and Antonio walks with a limp for the remainder of the play. In each case, however, the INM grouping also eventually produced the more tradtional versions of the plays and the variations that they produced were not found to correlate meanigfully with their exposure to Elizabethan architecture. Based on INM Simian Modeling Theory, then, no correlation has been found between Elizabethan architecture and Shakespeare's plays.

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