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2014 Concordia Conference-Days 1 and 2

by Richard Joyrich

Day (Night) One (Thursday, April 10, 2014):

This is your intrepid reporter on the spot at Concordia College in Portland, Oregon for the 18th Annual Richard Paul & Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Center Spring Conference. Actually, that's a bit of a misnomer, since for the past few years the conference was called the Shakespeare Authorship Conference and before that it was called the Edward de Vere Studies Conference. Anyway, I guess it's the 18th year that there was SOME kind of conference at Concordia University here in Portland.

As you probably all know, Professor Daniel Wright, who started the conference, is no longer at Concordia, but Dean David Kluth and Earl Showerman were able to put together a program to keep the Conference going. 

There were quite a few changes that I noticed. There is a new style of nametag, there is a new poster and logo (with the loss of the previous Oxford portrait that we used to see) and there is now a very good syllabus with abstracts and biographies for all the presenters.

The conference started at 6 PM (although many people were there by 5:30, myself included) with a one hour welcoming reception with refreshments. Actually this was just all of us standing around in the hallway in front of where the conference presentations were to be held, but it was nice to see old friends and some new faces.

Then, at 7 PM, we went into the lecture auditorium. Earl introduced Dean Kluth, who told us some of his background (he has only been at this branch of Concordia for about a year, previously having been at Concordia University in Austin). Dean Kluth said that Concordia Portland was still very committed to the Authorship Question even after the departure of Daniel Wright (no details given about this), but that they don't know exactly what form this commitment will take in the future. There will be more discussion of this on Sunday at the end of the conference.

Earl read a written greeting from Dan Wright (who wasn't present) urging everyone to keep going in this endeavor.

We then watched the 2012 Joss Whedon film of Much Ado About Nothing, which many Oberoners, including Linda Theil, Rey Perez, Tom and Joy Townsend, Rosie Hunter, Sharon and George Hunter, Pam Varilone, and myself saw when it first came out. Most of the people at the showing tonight seemed to like it.

After the movie was over we had a nice audience discussion about it, led by Earl Showerman and Roger Stritmatter. It was pointed out how this play is very similar in language and style and references to Love's Labor's Lost and both Earl and Roger believe that this is the play that Francis Meres referred to in his 1598 list of Shakespeare plays as Love's Labor's Won.

Both plays have strong euphuistic language and parallels to Greek plays, particularly Euripides' Alcestis, and the character of Hercules in the main plot of Hero and Claudio (Hero apparently dying and then being reborn).

There are also parallels in the Dogberry subplot to a character in one of Anthony Munday's plays. Both Munday and Lyly (who wrote the works which introduced Euphues) were secretaries to Oxford and dedicated their works to him.

That was it for the first day (night) of the conference. It was a good beginning, but the "meat" of the conference will come tomorrow and over the next few days.

Day 2 (Friday, April 11, 2014):

Unfortunately, we were informed that the first speaker scheduled for the morning was ill and cold not come to Portland. This is Peter Sturrock, who I was particularly eager to meet. He recently wrote the book AKA Shakespeare: A Scientific Approach to the Authorship Question. This book, which I started, but didn't finish, was very well reviewed by Linda Theil in the Oberon blog on May 4, 2013.

Peter Sturrock was scheduled to talk about A Probabilistic Analysis of the Dedication to the Sonnets.

Instead, we were treated (at 9 AM) to a preview performance by Keir Cutler of a new one-man play he is working on (and which he will debut in a few weeks). It is called Shakespeare Crackpot. In it he tells of how he became what he calls (in a tongue in cheek manner)  a "crackpot" (i.e. an Authorship Doubter). At times serious and at other times funny, the play touches mainly on Keir wondering why in all his formal education (up to and including a PhD in Theater from Wayne State University in Detroit) he was never told anything about the Authorship Question. Keir mentions how, in school, he was rewarded with good grades on his papers when he "parroted" back what he had been told by his teachers and got worse grades when he tried to do original research and practice critical thinking. This, says Keir, is the way it is at universities and the like, especially when it comes to the Shakespeare Authorship Question. This is a topic that is "walled off and forbidden", in contradiction to the supposed mission of universities to encourage critical thinking and the exploration of new ideas. After he finished doing the play we had a quick audience discussion on the topics brought up Keir and some other suggestions of what he could add to the play.

We then heard from Sam Saunders on The Philosophy of Conditional Probability in the Shakespeare Authorship Question Unfolded. This talk, which was clearly supposed to be a companion piece to Peter Sturrock’s planned presentation, was interesting in itself. Sam discussed the idea of conditional probability (the odds that something would occur given that something else has occurred) and when it can be legitimately used and when it should not be used. Sam is of the opinion that the authorship question may not really be a very good use. For example, trying to calculate the odds that Edward de Vere wrote the works of Shakespeare, given that he traveled to Italy, would involve quite a lot of research and expense and may not be possible. Sam explained Bayes Theorem and what it is used for. I suspect that he would have argued against the way Peter Sturrock uses this theorem in his recent book, but since we had not heard from Peter Sturrock Sam left this part out of his talk.

We then heard from Michael Morse, who only had time to present about 2/3 of his intended talk on A Critique of Oxfordian Cryptographic Analysis: Falsifiability, the Non-Excusivity Problem and the Seductive Allure of Fictive Ontologies. This may qualify for the longest title of a talk ever given at Concordia, but was very enjoyable. Michael proposed to show how many recent attempts by Oxfordians to "solve" the hidden meaning of the Sonnet Dedication were flawed in some way. In order to be a "real" solution to a cipher the "plaintext" must 1) make sense and not be of "tortuous" linguistic nature, and 2) unique in the sense that other similar "solutions" are not possible. 

He began with Robert Prechter's solution of what Robert called the Dedication Puzzle (presented in 2005 in two parts in Shakespeare Matters Vol 4, Number 3 and Number 4. As Michael showed, Robert managed to find all kinds of names of people associated with the Sonnets, including the author Edward de Vere, by beginning somewhere in the Dedication and finding the needed letters in order without any backtracking during one cycle of going through the Dedication. This is all well and good, says Michael, but then Robert "threw out" such names as Roger Manners as "artifacts" because they are not likely connected to the Sonnets. Here, Michael says, is where Robert goes wrong by not being "non-exclusive" and by constructing a "fictive ontology" (i.e. only consider names which Robert considers to be connected to the Sonnets). To make his point, Michael presented an amazing collection of names connected with the writing of Winnie the Pooh using Robert Prechter's method on the Sonnet Dedication. Michael found over thirty such names or phrases, including "Winnie the Pooh, "Allan A Milne" (the author), "London England", "Ashdown Forest" (the model Milne used for the forest in the book), "Owl Roo Tigger Eyore" (in order!), "Piglet Gopher Robin" (in order), "Head in honey pot", "Ernest H Shephard" (Milne's friend), "Ralph W Wright" (the illustrator), etc etc. He even found "Edevere was A A Milne"! Michael then turned to the 9/11 attacks and found "George W Bush" Twin Towers", United Airlines", "Bin Laden's Plot", "Tora Bora", "The Pentagon", "Pennsylvania", "War on Terror", etc. (It's too bad, says Michael, that no one consulted the Sonnets Dedication before September 2001. Maybe this could all have been prevented!)

Michael then briefly turned to the solutions to the Sonnet Dedication presented by Helen Gordon in her recent book. Her method is similar to Robert Prechter's but she also allows the possibility of "doubling back" to get needed letters for names to be found. This method can lead to chaos, as Michael showed, since virtually any name containing letters which appear in the Sonnet Dedication can be found. He was thus able to find the names of about a third of the conference attendees. (He couldn't find mine because there is no "C" in the Sonnet Dedication).

Michael then turned to the solution apparently shown in Peter Sturrock's new book (which we were unable to hear about from its author) and attacked this method as well as being of the "cherry picking" variety. Peter Sturrock apparently shows in great detail how he calculates the very low odds of these certain names and phrases showing up, but Michael counters that there is an equally (or sometimes lower chance) of other sequences of letters appearing and so what does calculation the probability really mean? It does not mean (and this was also touched on my Sam Saunders in his talk) that a human specifically planned that such names or phrases could be found.

MIchael promised to finish his presentation (talking about other sonnet "solutions" by Albert Burghstahler, David Roper, and John Rollet) and then presenting what he (Michael) concludes is the "correct meaning" of the Sonnet Dedication (a little tease there) using some or all of the time he was given for what was supposed to be a second presentation tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

We then broke for lunch. I was amazed to find that the Concordia cafeteria has been completely remodeled and modernized since last year. I could hardly recognize it. Now, instead of standing in line for a few selected dishes, one can order from a wide variety of items using a special computer screen (kind of like a glorified ATM) and then paying for it with cash or credit card and then waiting until the order has been filled and is ready to be picked up. Very high tech.

After lunch we were treated to a wonderful presentation by Bonner Cutting on Evermore in Subjection:Wardship in Early Modern England and its Impact on Edward de Vere. Bonner outlined how the process of wardship worked in England and how it was rife with under the table dealing, possibility of financial ruin for an unfortunate ward and corruption. Edward de Vere was subjected to financial difficulty, humiliation, and the loss of his patrimony. At this point Bonner lapsed into conjecture that Edward de Vere wanted to tell his story and that he could do so only be use of writing plays under a pseudonym, lambasting the Cecils and other members of the court in the process and that then the powers that be (i.e the Cecils) had to "scrub" this history (in the same way as we now use a "scrubber" to permanently delete a file from a computer by overwriting it) with a fictional story of a front man that appealed to "democratic principles", with "Horatio Alger" elements. But then this nice fiction evolved into the focal point for the national identity of the English people! At that point, someone had to step in to shore up the iconography ("fix" the Stratford monument", cook up the First Folio, and then install a memorial in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey (1741). It is interesting, thinks Bonner, that the man responsible for getting the Westminster Abbey Memorial installed was a direct descendent of Robert Cecil.

The next presentation, by Rima Greenhill, "This Old House": English Merchants in Moscow, was about the history of the English "discovery" of Russia (Muscovy) and the formation of the Muscovy Company to establish trade between Russia and England. England enjoyed a special relationship with Russia thanks to Ivan IV (the Terrible) and were granted almost a trade monopoly. The merchants were given the "second best" house in Moscow (after the Kremlin palace) to stay and conduct business. This house, which has now been rebuilt, was described by Rima. It was uniquely situated near the political and financial center of Moscow and the merchants there became privy to all kinds of political information and intrigues. It is Rima's thesis (outlined in several previous papers in the Oxfordian and other publications, and soon to be in a new book) that this unique trade relationship between Russia and England was mirrored in several characters and incidents in the play Love's Labor's Lost

The next presentation was by William Ray on Secrets of the Droeshout Shakespeare Portrait. In this presentation, William again displayed his incredible attention to detail as he described numerous hidden clues embedded in the Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare in the First Folio, commissioned by "someone" for Martin Droeshout to incorporate into the work. All of these "devices" as William calls them were intended to point to Edward de Vere as the true author. It is impossible to do justice to all the things William found, so I will limit myself to just a few. Perhaps the most important was that the portrait is constructed on a pattern of geometric angles and line lengths that form the five-pointed star that is on the de Vere coat of arms, along with four background circles, conveying the idea of 4-O.  This "4-O" is a pun on the surname Vere, since "four" is "vier" in German and the "O" stands for Oxford. You can also note that the right side of the collar (as seen by the viewer of the picture) has four spear points, while the left side has two points. "Two" in French is "deux" and "four" in German is "vier". Put together, this is "deux-vier" or "de Vere". There are numerous hidden pairs of "I" and "O" (perhaps the easiest one to see is the right side vertical line on the front of the collar (the "I") which leads to the "O" of an extra button just below it). There are many other examples, but much harder to see. Besides meaning "I" in Italian, the word "IO" can be pronounced as "EE-OH", or "EO", that is Edward Oxenford. There are several 40 degree angles shown in the picture. "40" in Dutch is "Vierde", and obvious reversal of "de Vere". There are at least three "V"s pointing to the left ear of the portrait, evoking "V-ear" ("Vere"). There is a hidden boar at the temple next to the figure's left eye, with the snout pointed down the face (this is easier to see if you turn the portrait on its side). There is an upside down ox seen in the upper lip and a worm ("ver" in Italian" in the lower lip. If William is correct in this, it is quite amazing what the originators of the "Folio fraud" were able to achieve.

The final presentation of the day was by Gerit Quealey on Who Ultimately Won the Tennis Court Quarrel? or as Gerit alternatively titled it, The Poet Wars aka The William Shakespeare Pseudonym Publishing Timeline. This was an expanded version of a presentation Gerit made at the Toronto Conference last October. She dealt with the rivalry between Edward de Vere and Sir Philip Sidney between about 1568 and 1586 (when Sidney died) including the famous Tennis Court Quarrel in 1579. There was a rivalry between them in their approaches to poetry and their respective political factions. During this time they each took "pot shots" at each other by creating characters in their poetry or plays (Sidney only wrote one play, the Lady of May). Some examples from Oxford (in the Shakespeare plays) include Sir Andre Aguecheek, Slender, Poins, Boyet, and the Dauphin in Henry V (who, like Sidney, is fascinated with horses). The Chorus in Henry V seems to be a direct attack on Sidney's Apology for Poetry (written 1581-2, but not published until after Sidney's death in 1595). Many other writers of the time are within either Oxford's faction or Sidney's faction, causing what was known as the War of the Poets. Then, after Sidney's death, his works could then be published and he was lauded as a great poet. Oxford responded (according to Gerit) by beginning to publish his own works under a pseudonym (he couldn't use his own name) that the Sidney faction would recognize (since it came from things Oxford was "called" in secret during the Poet's War, "Willy" from Spencer, and "shaking a spear" from Gabriel Harvey's latin encomium sometimes translated as "thy will shakes spears". Thus, Venus Adonis appeared in 1593, dedicated to Southampton by "William Shakespeare". And then the game was on again, resulting in more poems and plays appearing by "Shakespeare". The final act happened after de Vere died in 1604, with the publication of the First Folio (for political reasons having to do with the Spanish Marriage Crisis) and the final "burying of de Vere's name and the installation of William Shaksper of Stratford as the putative author (whether or not he was ever an active participant in such a plan). This is Gerit's reconstruction of how the pseudonym arose and what then transpired to come up with a suitable "author" for the plays.

We broke for dinner and then some of us came back again to see Keir Cutler again perform his wonderful one-man play Is Shakespeare Dead. It was received very well and we had a nice discussion about it afterwards. It turns out that I was able to supply a line to Keir that he says he will now use in future performances of the play. In the play he mentions getting the large bust of Shakespeare he uses as a prop from "" I told him that I always thought he had said "" in prior performances. He said that I was wrong to think that, but that from now on he WOULD say he got his prop from "". That was my little contribution to art for today.

Well, I think I have gone on long enough. Day 3 proves to be another long and enlightening day. I will write about it in my next posting.

UPDATE March 3, 2015
Robert Prechter shared the following information regarding the Michael Morse presentation reported in Joyrich's post: "In the latest edition of the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter (Vol.51, No.1, Winter 2015, pp.19-22), Robert Prechter replies to Michael Morse’s speech critiquing his article on the Sonnets dedication, as reported on Oberon’s blog on April 12 and 14, 2014. Members of SOF can access it here:


William Ray said…
To Oberon Readers:

I appreciate the report about the Concordia conference of April 10-13, 2014, but I wish to add here a few significant corrections regarding my presentation, "Secrets of the Droeshout Shakespeare Portrait".

For those readers interested in the subject, the written text and appendices from which that talk derived are at my website:

The corrected version of the Concordia conference report about my talk recognized that the most important statement was that the Vere mullet, the heraldic five-pointed star with 40-degree angles for points, is the essential structure behind the misshapen Droeshout portrait. The face and torso had to fit onto the mullet's 3", 4", and 5" dimensions.

"Vierde" in Dutch is not forty, as stated in the report, but "fourth",
a foreign-language anagram of de Vere. The fourth buttons at top and
bottom of the tunic were center-points for identity devices and the ordinal placement signaled the name.

"Device" is not my idiosyncratic usage as suggested there, but an Elizabethan term, meaning an evocative allusion, a 'way of seeing', which follows the Latin prefix de, from, and the root, videre, to see.

As the corrected report indicates, the boar sketch is not in the figure's hair and difficult to
see, as stated in the original report. The "boar" is snout-down at the left temple and quite visible, looking in the very direction the ear--really a nose--is looking, into the crease––which is really a V as part of 'V-ear' device.

I recognize that when new information arises, it may not be easy to assess its broader importance on the spot. Of course no summary can encapsulate the impact of an entire essay.

However, the concluding statement, "If William is correct..." seems to assume there is some wiggle-room for doubt about the veracity of the information presented.

When forty-two surface messages, (vier-deux), all directly involving the name and title of Edward de Vere; four background circles (4-O's) occur as a numerical monograph to the same effect; and a heraldic mullet precisely drawn to duplicate the Vere arms is the basic structure of the image––we have unequivocal and unified fact, about which there is no reasonable doubt.

Fifty devices, all to the effect of identifying Vere as the author, should be sufficient confirmation of the talk's correctness. There is no better proof of correctness than repeated cumulative empirical evidence.

Whether accepted as fact, that is a separate issue.

From now on, no one can look at the "Shakespeare" figure without seeing a nose where the ear should be, an ox skull where the upper lip is, a boar instead of a wen on the temple, a huge 'O' instead of a strange bump on the head, a lower lip as a Vere (Fr.: ver) worm, and a triangular-shaped hank of hair on the figure's head as a weasel's pelt.

Some imaginative manufacturer in the sweat shirt industry may sink the Stratfordian paradigm in the end.

Thank you for the report, your considerations, and the website.

William Ray
Willits California

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