previous.gif     next.gif    



Catastrophic Theory and the Springs of Art

Irving Wolfe
Etudes Anglaises
Université de Montreal

*[Ed.] Parts of this paper were subsequently published in Kronos: A journal of Interdisciplinary Synthesis, (Kronos Press, Glassboro, N. J.) see 1( 3): 31-45 (Fall 1975) and 1( 4): 37-54 (Winter 1976).

I must begin with several caveats. First, I do not present these findings as a closed and substantiated set of hypotheses. They are suggestions put forth for discussion, not conclusions, but beginnings. Second, they are part deductive, part inductive, as they must be when one is mapping out terra incognita. Third, because I am addressing an audience fairly specialized in the sciences, but less specialized in literature and drama, I feel I can refer to the Velikovsky background briefly, but that I must treat the action of the plays in some detail.

Now to my paper. Quite simply, I have come across what appears to me to be astonishing Velikovskian overtones in Shakespeare's plays, which I wish to present to this assembly and then use to draw some tentative conclusions upon narrative art and the nature of man. I have chosen two representative Shakespearian dramas, one a seemingly light comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the other, Antony and Cleopatra, a worldly tragedy of lust and politics. Neither might at first glance appear to have much to do with catastrophism.

In this first section, I wish to analyse William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as an example of narrative art whose subconscious bedrock is Velikovskian. On the surface, the play is a typical public comedy, seemingly light, fanciful and gay, intended mainly to amuse. A significant portion of traditional criticism has treated it in just this manner. Beneath a surface however, it is highly serious, like all of Shakespeare's comedies, in the sense that what it wants to say, or what it is about, is as meaningful and profound as the great tragedies. Indeed, some critics have argued that the comedies are more serious, in that their scope of reference is wider, more communal. I propose that there is also a deep level of seriousness in the play, a level which contains intermingled elements of terror and comfort whose true source can only be appreciated in terms of the ideas of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky. I am arguing that we respond to the play in different ways, at least one of which is subconscious, and that the full nature of our subconscious response can only be understood if we perceive the catastrophic substructure which underlies the play.

At the outset, I want to stress the primitive, ritualistic aspects of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I feel we must see it, to begin with, as a fertility play, a genre whose roots go very far back into our past. Looked at in this way, the play is accessible to any understanding, from the most primitive to the most modern, because it embodies certain archetypal patterns of action which are universal. If we look at man's art as Jung looked at man's dreams, we discover certain archetypes produced by every society in every place and at every time in recorded human history [1] . We must conclude, as Jung did with dreams, that man as a species shows a tendency to produce such archetypes in his art, and we must then wonder why.

One of these archetypal patterns in narrative art is the genre of the comic fertility play. In it, we begin with an opening situation which appears to be stable, but contains the seeds of dangerous disruption. There is usually a conflict which has reached an impasse. Then, typically, in Shakespeare, a certain person who functions as a catalyst is dropped into the impasse, and his acts set a chemical reaction in motion. As a result, the oppositions are crystallized and the play is propelled into the second phase. This is a period of turbulence and confusion, of rapidly changing alignments, of a search for correct bonding, of apparent but always comic danger. Things appear to be insoluble, indeed disastrous, when suddenly a new factor is introduced which permits everything to be sorted out in the third phase. Here, everything that must happen to achieve a happy ending does, and everything that had to be prevented, for the same reason, is. I would therefore suggest that Shakespeare's plays may be best understood if they are seen as falling naturally into three parts, or, as George Rylands calls them, movements, one arising from the other in a rather Hegelian sequence.

In Shakespeare's comedy, as in all fertility plays, the center of values is always and principally society. Everything occurs for the welfare of the tribe, the group. In primitive terms, the life of the tribe is threatened at the beginning by dangers within it. The tribe, to guarantee its continued fertility, must maintain a harmony with the divine and the natural, which are the major factors affecting physical existence. This means that every member must play his role, and the mating and reproduction, particularly among those at the top, must occur between those clearly chosen to be marriage partners, and under the most auspicious circumstances. All of this, which means the very life and future of the tribe, is threatened by the original situation, where power is in the hands of those no longer able to rule, and the wrong pairs are urged to mate at the wrong time, under the wrong circumstances. Of course, things must be altered before any irreparable damage has been caused to the future of the tribe. in the second part of a universal comedy, therefore, the confusions and turbulence take the form of dangers of identity, dangers of insufficient self-knowledge, dangers of irresponsible sex, and, comically, the danger of death. That is to say, all of the things which must be avoided for the welfare of the tribe threaten to happen, and none of the things which must be achieved - the purgation of youthful excess, of immaturity, of uncontrolled sexual response, of a facile tendency to bravado and recklessness and violence - appear likely. There is always a guiding force, however, which steers things in the right direction, and, at the end, when all has worked out well, the period of turbulence is seen as a time of ordeal, of testing and of purgation, by which those who survive doff their childishness and undergo a process of change of maturation, of individuation, if one may borrow the term, whereby they have been made ready to become responsible adult members of their tribe. One might say that, for the young lovers of a Shakespearian comedy, the action of the play is a sort of ritual initiation to adulthood, set in a context of affirmation of tribal harmony with the forces which control and thus guarantee life and fertility. It is not an individual who triumphs; rather, it is tribal death which has been avoided, and tribal life which has been assured.

To apply this directly to A Midsummer Night's Dream, we must look briefly at the plot. It is a structure of four levels, or perhaps four boxes, each inside the next, from a group of yokels at the bottom to the world of fairy spirits at the op. It is set in ancient Athens, and the pivotal event about which the action occurs is the forthcoming marriage of its leader, Duke Theseus, to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, with whom he had previously been at war. In fertility terms, Theseus' union with Hippolyta will bring political peace and a continuation of his dynasty. it is thus critically important for the future life of Athens hat the marriage of its young leader occurs under the most auspicious circumstances.

The play opens four days before the nuptials. Theseus is impatient to enjoy is bride, but he must wait for the new moon, the right time for new beginnings and fertility, before he can ease his sexual frustration [2] .

O , methinks how slow
This old moon wanes. She lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
1.1. 3-6.

Hippolyta politely but firmly tells him he must wait.

Four days will quickly steep themselves in night,
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
1.1. 7-11.

Her reply is full of unconscious ironies having to do with sexual frustration, with nightly dreams, with Theseus, frustrated, like a bow which is bent and ready to shoot, but not released.

We shortly meet two sets of young lovers, whose combined story occupies most of the action of the play. There are two young men, Lysander and Demetrius, and two young women, Hermia and Helena, in a situation of love thwarted by obstacles. It is necessary that these relationships be clear, and so I will set them out in some detail. With regard to the first pair, Lysander and Hermia, he loves her and she loves him, but her father Egeus will not approve of the marriage, wishing his daughter to marry Demetrius instead. As for the second pair, Demetrius and Helena, she loves him but he does not love her, preferring Hermia instead. Thus, there is an obstacle in the case of each pair. This is presented in the following diagram as


Egeus, angry at having his authority challenged, hales his daughter Hermia and her lover Lysander before Duke Theseus and demands justice. The Duke tells her she must obey her father and marry Demetrius, or become a celibate priestess, or be executed. When they are left alone, the two lovers decide to flee to some nearby woods and make their way thenceforth to Sparta, where they will be free to marry. They reveal their secret to Helena, thinking her an ally, but she, in an attempt to gain favor, tells it to Demetrius, whereupon he vows to pursue the lovers into the forest to thwart their plan.

We thus have four young people fleeing Athens for the forest - Lysander and Hermia wishing to elope, Demetrius the rival wanting to stop them, and Helena wanting to be near Demetrius. At the same time, a group of yokels, preparing a rather inept play in honor of Theseus' forthcoming wedding, also .decide to go to the woods, where they may rehearse secretly and so avoid the throngs of admirers whom, they are certain, would otherwise dog their heels.

So ends the first act. By this point we have met all the different levels of mankind in the play, from the yokels at the bottom to the four noble young people to Theseus and Hippolyta. We then move to the woods to meet the highest level of creation, the world of the fairies ruled by Oberon and his queen Titania; and Oberon's attendant spirit, the mischievous bubbling Puck, fills in the rest of the picture.

As he explains it, an argument has developed between Oberon and Titania concerning one of Titania's attendants whom Oberon wants as part of his train. As a result there is discord in the fairy sphere.

And now they never meet in grove or green, By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen, But they do square, that all their elves for fear Creep into acorn cups and hide them there. 2.1-28-31.

This description is replete with romantic and fertility symbols - the sacred grove, the magic green, clear water as the source of life, starlight as the natural environment of true love - but these areas, which should be blessed by a united fairy world so they can transmit their life-enhancing virtues to Athens, are now the setting for wrangling and arguments. As a result, the fairy world, with which Athens should be in harmony, cannot perform its fertility function because Oberon and Titania are not united. When they meet, he greets her rudely, and she replies

What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence,
I have forsworn his bed and company.

We can thus see that the crisis of the male being separated from the female he wants applies throughout the whole world of Athens, human and spiritual. Theseus wanting Hippolyta and being told he must wait, Lysander wanting Hermia and being told by her father that he cannot marry her, Helena wanting Demetrius who rejects her, and now Oberon and Titania not mating as they should - the reiteration at all levels becomes a metaphor which delineates a situation of total infertility which has seized Athens' world the moment before its leader is to wed. All the males are like bows tightly drawn, but with nowhere to shoot. In fertility terms, if Theseus is to marry under such circumstances, both leader and tribe will be cursed. There is the danger of the total annihilation of the life of the tribe. As a result, the country is under a pall. Its communal life appears desolate, for Theseus is forced to command his master of the revels

Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments,
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth,
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp.

In a country like Elizabethan England, which was given to dazzling and elaborate pageantry on state occasions, Shakespeare writes a play in which, four days before a royal marriage, the monarch must plead for youth to be merry, mirth to be awakened, and melancholy to be thrown out as more suitable to funerals. Things are not well in Athens.

Titania, in a long speech, explains to Oberon the consequences of their discord. When I read a summary of Dr. Velikovsky's ideas in the May 1972 issue of Pensée [3] , I was struck by the astonishing similarity between it and Titania's speech. I wish to compare them now, to convey the eerie feeling I experienced. It almost seemed as if Shakespeare had had the writings of Dr. Velikovsky at his elbow, or at least a copy of Pensée, when composing the play.

Here is Titania's speech

And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hats disturb'd our sport.

That is to say, since the time when the crops begin to grow and thus need sunshine and water, the meetings of Titania and on in appropriate places of fertility such as water fountains, mountain brooks, and the strip of beach which is neither land nor water, where they must dance in magic circles to assure good growing weather, have been disturbed. The result is chaos.

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,
Hath every pelting river made so proud
That they nave overborne their continents.

The winds can bring life, or destruction. Here, where the natural order of which Oberon and Titania are a part has been broken, the result is destructive. The winds have caused great rain clouds to form, which have rained so heavily that there has been widespread flooding. It must be pointed out that in Shakespeare, one of the most horrendous images he can think of to portray chaos is that of water swelling beyond its appointed limits and usurping the domain of the land. As a result, all cultivation - the main basis of primitive life in addition to hunting - has become impossible.

The ox hath therfore strech'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock.

Planting has been made futile, the young grain needed to sustain life has decomposed before reaching full ripeness - another major Shakespearian image of waste, and no cattle are able to be raised, so scavenger birds - instead of men - eat the carcasses of the dead feed animals. The basis of settled civilized agrarian civilization has been demolished.

With this gone, all signs of human order disappear.
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are indistinguishable.

The vestiges of human civilization, as in a long-forgotten archaeological site, are almost obliterated, because people have no time - or inclination - to sport. Neither are they inclined to worship, with further worse results.

The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.

The consequences continue to grow, in a proper Renaissance progression from the particular to the general, until the last image, which is one of universal chaos.

And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hiem's thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The chiding autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world
by their increase, now knows not which is which.

Here we have reached cosmic chaos. Winter follows spring, summer follows winter, and no man knows season or time; and the blame for all this is to be laid squarely at the feet of Titania and Oberon.

And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissention;
We are their parents and original.

Discord in the heavens has caused universal disorder on earth. For those not familiar with Pensée's summary, I offer a few extracts [4] .

In great convulsions, the seas erupted onto continents. Climates changed suddenly, ice settling over lush vegetation, while green meadows and forests were transformed into deserts.

Fleeing from the torrent of meteorites, men abandoned their livestock to the holocaust. Fields of grain which fed great cities perished. Cried Ipuwer, "No fruits, no herbs are found. That has perished which yesterday was seen. The land is left to its weariness like the cutting of flax."

In the new age the sun rose in the east, where formerly it set. The quarters of the world were displaced. Seasons no longer came in their proper times. "The winter is come as summer, the months are reversed, and the hours are disordered," reads an Egyptian papyrus. The Chinese Emperor Yahou sent scholars throughout the land to locate north, east, west, and south and draw up a new calendar.

This is the situation which must be remedied in the play, for it is the cause of the vast disorder and infertility - symbolized by such patterns as the sexually frustrated males at all levels - which threatens the very life of the tribe. if accord is not achieved in the supernatural world, Athens is cursed. Something must happen - some chain of events - to turn all of this about.

At the human level, if the tribe is to continue to function healthily, not only must its leader marry auspiciously, but its best young noble blood must be well-mated too, for these people must be available to aid the ruler in governing the tribe. Hermia must end up marrying Lysander, while Demetrius must be brought to accept marriage with Helena, and both of these marriages must occur within and with the full approval of the society of Athens, if Athens is to reap the maximum benefit which such noble marriages can contribute to its future.

Conversely, among the things which must not happen are sexual relations before marriage, either between the young lovers or between Theseus and Hippolyta. In mythological terms, they must be preserved in ritual cleanliness and purity, to be free to share in the rites of social ordination at the end of the play. To Shakespeare, the institution of marriage is always sacred, as compared with promiscuous sex, because it represents the subjugation of sensual individuality to the interests of the group, or maturity triumphing over youthful selfishness. Equally, no violence must occur between Lysander and Demetrius, rival lovers, or they may be killed, wasted without having ripened to play their part in the continuation of the life of the tribe. The yokels too must be preserved to serve the state. Even the successful elopement to Sparta of Lysander and Hermia, without violence, would be a severe loss to Athens, and so this too must not happen. The lovers must be made free to marry each other in Athens.

The forest is the testing ground where all of these possibilities, whether for the life of Athens or against it, lie waiting. The second, third, and fourth acts, all set in the forest, are thus a period of growing turbulence, where all the impulses generated in Athens are set one against another. Confusion mounts upon confusion, hatred and disorder are unleashed, but, at the end, after all the tumult and passion, events are sorted out, order is restored, and all ends well. Very briefly, that is the action of the play. Let us now look more closely at the mid le section.

When appreciated in performance, the action in the forest seems totally confusing. Things happen with bewildering rapidity, with great humor and imagination, until everything is sorted out, we-know not how. However, when we look at the action in tranquility, a certain pattern emerges. As described by Enid Welsford, it is the pattern of dance [5] . Because it is a sequence of changing partnerships, like a minuet or square dance, it can be efficiently set out as a series of diagrams.

In the opening situation, as the reader will recall, Lysander loves Hermia, who loves him, while Helena loves Demetrius, who loves Hermia. This was represented as

1. Diagram

That is to say, both young men love Hermia, and neither loves Helena. Then, as we remember, Lysander and Hermia run off to the forest, and Demetrius and Helena follow. When Demetrius and Helena reach the forest, he looking for the fleeing pair, she pursuing him heartbrokenly despite his repeated insults, threats, and rejections, Oberon observes them invisibly and, offended by Demetrius' treatment of the girl, vows

ere he do leave this grove,
Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.

He then orders Puck to sprinkle a magic juice on Demetrius' eyes, so that he will fall in love with the next woman he sees, presumably Helena. Puck, not realizing there are two Athenians in the forest, comes upon the sleeping figures of Lysander and Hermia and sprinkles the juice on Lysander's eyes. No sooner is this done but Demetrius and Helena come into the clearing and, after some abusive language, Demetrius abandons Helena. She stumbles over the sleeping Lysander, who, awakening with the juice on his eyes, sees her and naturally falls in love with her and pursues her offstage, abandoning Hermia, who awakes and finds herself the one who is now alone. The second pattern, therefore, is

2. Diagram

Each of the boys now loves the girl who does not love him. The next exchange occurs when Oberon realizes Puck's mistake, as Demetrius pleads his love to the bewildered Hermia, who cannot understand why her beloved Lysander has left her, and fears Demetrius has killed him. Oberon charms Demetrius asleep and puts the juice on his eyes, ordering Puck to bring Helena where Demetrius can awaken and fall in love with her. in a moment, Puck has brought Helena back, with Lysander protesting his love for her, and Demetrius is duly awakened by their arguing, whereupon he sees Helena and bursts out in rhapsodic love poetry for her. Thus the situation now is

3. Diagram

At the beginning, both young men had been in love with Hermia, and no one had loved Helena, where now both are in love with Helena, and neither with Hermia. The play seems to be weighing all the different possibilities. The two men, quite naturally, strut like rams at mating time, hurling threats at each other concerning the possession of the ewe Helena, and the situation is further aggravated by the arrival of Hermia. Helena, with the two men at her feet, cannot believe what has happened, and accuses the others of being in a conspiracy to mock her. Soon the two girls are tearing at each other's hair and the men run off to fight in another part of the woods. Puck is enormously amused by it all, but Oberon is concerned to set it all right. He orders Puck to keep the men apart by magic and tire them out until they fall asleep. He then gives Puck another magic juice, an antidote to remove the first from Lysander's eyes, so he will love Hermia once more.

Puck accomplishes his task swiftly and efficiently. One by one, staggering with exhaustion, each of the four young lovers is led by the disguised Puck back to the clearing, where each simply collapses and goes to sleep on the ground, unaware of the presence of the others. When they are all safely deposited asleep in the same clearing, Puck amends his first error by applying the antidote to Lysander's eyes, and the night of confusion comes to an end.

And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own, In your waking shall
be shown.
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.

Shakespeare gives Puck generic and somewhat mocking terminology to make us recognize that what has just occurred is not a private event pertaining only to these four individual humans, but a universal sequence - Jack shall have Jill - relevant to all of mankind. And so the final pattern in the square-dance sequence, after all the confusing do-si-do's and bow-to-your-partner's, is

4. Diagram

The confusion is over, and now the lovers and yokels - all the humans in the forest -

May all to Athens back again repair,
And think no more of this night's accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream.

Things will at last come to the desired relationship. When the lovers awake, all will indeed be well. Jack shall have Jill.

In spatial terms, there has been a movement from a quadrangle to variations on a triangle, and then back to a quadrangle again. Figure 4, the quadrangle, existed before the play began, and will presumably exist after the play ends, but Figures 1, 2 and 3 are triangles, with the fourth element separated in each case. They represent the main action in the forest, but then, after Oberon's changes have been affected

The fourth act finds the quadrangle in its proper state, each
man attached to the right woman, restoring a situation
which predates the beginning of the play [6] .

The change from a grouping of three to a grouping of four is particularly satisfying because it includes the missing element for the first time in an integrated relationship. In terms of Jungian psychology, it is an archetypal move to fullness or wholeness, a reconciliation, and, in this case, a restoration of a beneficent previous order. This holds true in all ways, for, in practical terms, the result is good for all the parts of the whole.

Thus, the restoration of the proper love relationships also restores the friendships of all four. even Lysander and Demetrius, who were ready to fight to the death, are friends again at the end of the play [7] .

That is to say, the scheme or structure in this play is so set up that the interrelationship of the whole - from the yokels to Oberon and beyond to all creation - depends upon the internal relationships within the constituent .parts, in which one element in each must always dominate over the others, and yet all form part of an interdependent system. in poetic terms, this can be a description of the cosmos.

The remaining obstacle to Athens' happiness is, of course, the discord in the heavens. To summarize this plot level very briefly, Oberon had put the same magic juice on Titania's eyelids while she slept, and Puck, by magic, had given one of the yokels an ass' head and then led him to awaken Titania, so that she fell in love with an ass, a human ass. She proceeded to decorate him with garlands and have her fairies sing to him, and have him led to her bower. Oberon, pitying her at last, released her from the spell by applying the antidote to her as she slept, as Puck had done to Lysander. Now she awakes and greets Oberon with joy, and the fairy world is reunited as Oberon proclaims

Sound, music. Come, my queen, take hands with me.
And rock the ground where on these sleepers be. [Dance]
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will tomorrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity.
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.

We can now see, in very general terms, what has happened in the forest. As the diagrams illustrate, it has been a series of changing relationships, as if different combinations were tested, and rejected, until the correct relationship was at last achieved, whereupon the changes were ended and the final relationship fixed. In different terms, all of the dangerous possibilities outlined above were avoided, and all of the desired events have occurred. Shakespeare had sent into the forest a group of bumbling yokels, four angry, upset, even desperate young lovers, and a quarrelling King and Queen of the Fairies. It was a potentially dangerous mixture, for the individuals themselves but more particularly for the future welfare of Athens, and Shakespeare had stirred his ingredients vigorously, but nothing undesirable had happened - no uncontrolled sex' no physical violence, no permanent rifts between lovers, no misalliances. The Voyage Perilous through the Forest of Passion has terminated triumphantly. All have passed the test and are ready for ordination.

Very few critics have appreciated the latent, subtly-suggested dangers lurking behind the comic resolution in the play. To most, the play is gossamer; to some, it can hardly bear the defilement of close analysis; to only two or three it is sober.

Modern productions, overstressing the nondemonic, have seriously misrepresented the fairies as gauzy, fluttery creatures with no more mystery or authority than butterflies. Something is lost by this. Oberon is not harmless: he is a prince from the furthest steep of India, shadowy and exotic. Titania is a powerful force - "The summer still doth tend upon my state" - and Bottom is virtually her prisoner. The marital disturbances of these beings affect the weather and the natural cycles and result in floods, droughts, and famines. Their benevolent presence in this play serves to emphasize the comic context only if they are recognized as potentially dangerous [8] .

Equally few have appreciated the vastness of the context implied by the surface action of the play.

The most effective and memorable pictures in the play are not the glimpses of single figures and activities described above. They are the larger representations, full landscapes with a remarkable sense of spaciousness and distance . . . Throughout the night in the woods that follows, confined and hectic as it may be, we get glimpses of these magnificent views and distances ... As daylight returns to the play, the panoramas regain full splendor ... The function of these panoramas is not difficult to discern ... Only such comprehensive vantage points would give us this sense of surveying all of nature in order to discover man's unique position in it [9] .

Another critic unwittingly uses catastrophic language to defend the poetic richness of the panoramic descriptions, saying they are

... calculated to make the audience respond with wonder to the effortless reach of the imagination which brings the stars madly shooting from their spheres [10] .

Within the panorama, nature is presented in two ways, as a force of metamorphosis, or change, and as an inscrutable, uncontrollable power. As one critic observes of A Midsummer Night's Dream

... the whole of nature is seen to be in movement. Everything is changing [11] .

The impression created by the changes is that nature is unfathomable.

Those Shakespeare plays that specifically treat of nature more precisely, the nature of nature ... all posit a universe which has neither order nor discernible limits [12] .

with the result that the action

... suggests that our knowledge of the world is less reliable than it seems [13] .

Although man cannot understand or affect the forces of nature which control his societal existence, these forces are always pictured as benevolent in comic drama. To one critic, the pattern is society to wilderness to an improved society, while to another, schematizing the morality play, it is fall from grace to temporary prosperity of evil to divine reconciliation [14] .

In the most universal terms, it has been a trip to the brink of chaos, but no further. The life and stability of Athens, and thus by analogy of human civilization, of existence itself, has been threatened, but all dangers have been overcome. The correct alignments and bondings have occurred, and a night of confusion has given way to a morning of order and fertility. In Velikovskian catastrophic terms, we have seen the brink of catastrophe, but have been brought safely back.

There are other catastrophic, or at least celestial, overtones. For example, the whole play's action occurs during the crucial part of a lunar fertility cycle. It begins when the moon is on the wane, which is a period of danger and error in folklore, and so every impulse seeking to run its course during this period must be held in check, must be delayed until a time of better beginnings. The action then moves through a span of three or four nights of darkness and confusion, finally reaching the moment of the new moon. This is the correct time for beginnings, for impregnation and fertility, and that is precisely when all the discord in the play has been reconciled, with nothing irreparable having been previously set in motion. Thus, like the feminine moon, or the earth emerging from a catastrophe, the whole tribe or society has been cleansed and refreshed, and is in a sense reborn.

Secondly, the particular holidays which form the context of the play are originally pagan and astral. The first is May Day, and, more particularly, Maying, or bringing home the May.

No literacy was required for an audience to understand that the "rite of May" was both an individual and a communal means of celebrating the arrival of spring and reestablishing the human affinity with the natural cycles [15] .

The bringing home of May acted out an experience of the relationship between vitality in people and nature. The poets have merely to describe May Day to develop a metaphor relating man and nature [16] .

The other holiday is Midsummer Eve, the longest day and the shortest night of the year.

Midsummer Eve, associated with the summer solstice, is one of the oldest and most widely celebrated holidays on record. Originally intended as homage to the sun at the height of his powers, it had become by Shakespeare's time a night of general merriment with overtones of magic. Its customary features included the building of bonfires and the carrying of torches [17] .

In addition, J. G. Frazer's The Golden Bough contains a section entitled 'The Solar Theory of Fire Festivals' [18] . In sum, the mythological and folkloric context is suffused with the presence of the classical moon - Phoebe or the triple deity Hecate Diana Proserpina - acting at a time containing the double parameters of spring rebirth and solstice celebration. We need only add that, in Dr. Velikovsky's view, the joy of the summer solstice is a ritual born out of fear of celestial aberration [19] .

Thirdly, there are what appear to be a cluster of catastrophic memories concentrated in Act 3, Scene 2, the largest and most important scene in the play, where, as I have described above, a series of oscillating relationships is presented, growing more and more intense, until all the possible variations have been experienced and the right one is achieved and fixed. I feel that the events in this scene, and the context in which they are set by Shakespeare, exhibit strong catastrophic overtones whose outlines I shall now try to set forth.

As we recall, the original pairings were Lysander-Hermia and Demetrius-Helena. We turn now to the point where, after Puck has placed the love juice on the wrong lover's eyes, Hermia is distressed to find Lysander gone and Demetrius in his place, pleading love, and she cannot understand the desertion of the former nor accept the affection of the latter. We shall now look at the rest of the scene through the optic of catastrophic speculation, which will involve an attempt to discern or reconstruct possible celestial events behind the actions of the characters, which must begin with an attempt to establish precise celestial roles for those characters.

When we come to assign specific celestial names to the major characters in the play, we must proceed with caution for several reasons. First, we cannot determine for certain whether it may be the events of the first set of Velikovskian catastrophes, circa -1475, which lie behind the scene, or the events of the second period, from -776 to -686, or a general collective memory of both cataclysms, and others. if Velikovsky is correct - and he insists that there were catastrophes previous to the two he attempts to reconstruct then all such sources potentially are available to the artist's mind. Second, we do not really know how closely we ought to look for specific parallels, rather than general ones. That is to say, should we try to tie the action to catastrophic events as such, which is revolutionary enough in itself, or should we go even further, and link it to allegedly specific events? Can we expect that an artist, at least 2200 years after the fact, should be able to mirror precise occurrences, no matter how overwhelming those occurrences may have been? Third, before arguing subconscious inherited racial memory as the basis for the features of this play, we must take into account all possible conscious influences upon Shakespeare, particularly the works of Ovid and the writings of classical historians, from whom he might have derived the sort of cataclysmic worldwide images which we found in Titania's speech. On this basis, to make a long story short, I have concluded that the action of this scene may be both a surprisingly accurate recollection of precise celestial events as described by Dr. Velikovsky, and, at the same time, an artistically modified equivalent to those events. I might add that, if the memories of the original cataclysms were deeply burned into the racial memory of mankind, as Dr. Velikovsky argues, this is just what one would expect. I shall deal with the overt parallels now, and postpone a discussion of the covert relations for the conclusion of this paper. I suggest that one set of suitable equivalences may be

Earth - Hermia
Moon - Lysander
Mars - Helena
Venus - Demetrius
Sun - Theseus
Jupiter - Oberon - Zeus.

We note immediately a reversal of the usual genders - the Moon is a male, Mars is a female, and Venus is a male. This is not entirely unknown in Greek mythology, where certain planets are associated with both masculine and feminine heroes, nor, I suggest, should it be unexpected in the sublimating hiding-process of art. As I will try to explain in the conclusion of this paper, the creative mind must not let itself, nor the minds which its art will affect, know consciously what it is doing, and a change in gender is a fine subterfuge.

Applying these equivalences, we can see how the action can mirror celestial events, and we begin by noting individual cosmic images. Hermia observes that Lysander is as true to her as the sun unto the day, 50-51. He is then described as having been driven forcibly away while Hermia was sleeping, 51-52. This may mean at night, or in the darkness of thick clouds which so obscure the Sun that day is like night, as if the Sun has abandoned the Earth at a time - day - when it should be true to Earth. This is followed by a puzzling solar image, 47-50, of the Earth being bored and the Moon plunging through to the other side and rivaling the Sun at noon, when it should be at the opposite pole. She then calls Demetrius a murderer of the Sun, 56, and describes him as appearing dead, or pale, and grim, or deadly, 57. That is to say, the rival in the sky who has driven off or killed the Sun is pale, because obscured by dark clouds, and grim because it causes destruction, which may poetically suggest the action of Velikovsky's Comet Venus. Yet Demetrius replies that he too has been wounded, 59, pierced by Hermia's cruelty, and then tells her that she herself looks as bright as Venus in the sky, 60-61.

Using these associations suggested by the words of the play, we can then derive more Velikovskian parallels. Hermia begs for Lysander back, and Demetrius calls himself a hunter who has killed Lysander and will let his dogs eat him. Hermia cries

Has thou slain him, then? Henceforth be never number'd among men.

or considered a member of a stable society, whether of men in a tribe, or, by extension, of planets in a solar system. She accuses Demetrius the Comet of cowardice, saying he could never dare approach Lysander when Lysander was awake, 69-70, meaning, in primitive terms, during the brightness of day, when the shining Sun is lord of the skies and thus drives off all enemies. in primitive terms, if the sky were to become dark during the day, it would be as if the Sun's power as lord of the heavens had decreased, and only then could an enemy - a pale but deadly comet - rival or displace the Sun [20] . And in the very next image Demetrius the Comet, the rival Sun, is described as a Serpent, 72-73. It would appear that, with Shakespeare's imagination actively engaged, a series of primordial and apparently catastrophic memories emerges in one flood of connected imagery.

Then Hermia, the Earth, parts from the Comet, refusing to accept it as a substitute, 80, and the Comet does not follow. Helena, meanwhile, is described as sick, weak and pale, but then Oberon anoints Demetrius with the magic juice, saying of Helena

When his love he doth espy,
Let her shine as gloriously
As the Venus of the sky.

If Oberon is Zeus-Jupiter, then perhaps the application of the love juice represents an electrical planetary interchange which begins a new phase in the celestial events. Ralph Juergens, one of the editors of Pensée, has argued that the changes and movements which the Velikovsky scenarios require do not refute conventional theories of celestial dynamics, but could have been accomplished by the action of celestial forces, particularly the clash of magnetospheres and electrostatic attraction and repulsion [21] . Velikovsky refers to such events in Worlds in Collision, where he discusses the transformation of Phaethon into the Morning Star.

This transformation is related by Hyginus in his Astronomy, where he tells how Phaethon, that caused the conflagration of the world, was struck, by a thunderbolt of Jupiter and was placed by the sun among the stars (planets). [22]

Helena duly appears in the clearing, shining indeed like Venus, and Demetrius awakens and sees her, and in an instant shifts his attention to her, or becomes attracted to her. Thus, she now exerts a strong attraction for both Lysander and Demetrius, an attraction powerful enough to draw Lysander from his accustomed orbit around Hermia, 185. Helena is now described as being unusually bright, 187-188, brighter than any other object in the darkened sky. When both men appear attracted to her, Helena complains that she and Hermia had once been very close, 202-214, almost twins, and now Hermia has joined with the men to tear their former closeness apart, 215. What appears to be suggested here - and I proffer this with the greatest trepidation -is that Mars may once have been a sort of sister planet to Earth, perhaps before it was thrown out of the circle, as Dr. Velikovsky has said tantalizingly but enigmatically [23] .

In any case, Lysander and Demetrius both follow after the sister planet, calling her a celestial goddess, 226-227, and neglecting Hermia-Earth. Helena-Mars asks to be released from her attachment to Demetrius-Venus, 314-316, and then the two girls clash, and now it is Helena who is accused of having stolen Lysander from Hermia, at night, and Hermia is described as being small and hot when angry, 323-325.

In the last stage of this turbulence, Puck and Oberon take control, as curative night forces who do not fear the light, 388. In a period of intense darkness, fog and noise, they keep Lysander and Demetrius apart, and do the same for the girls, until they can settle all the young lovers - or Earth, Moon, Mars and Venus - into a stable relationship, effecting these changes through the love juice and its antidote, or differently-charged Jovian thunderbolts. They sort things out for the good of Athens, and so the night, which is said to have been difficult, draws to a happy end. The pattern has been a seemingly orderly but actually dangerous situation at day's end, changing to confusion and threat Chaos in the night, but moving finally to salvation and then to seemingly total Chaos by light. The pattern is substantially Velikovskian, and is also quintessential to most creative art, myth, folklore, and religion. In Jungian terms, Oberon and Puck, as different aspects of the restorative agency, may be Hare and Trickster, indicating that the restorative process is beneficent in the total view, although troublesome at certain points.

To summarize, we are presented in this scene with a gamut of changes based on attraction and repulsion, set in a context of celestial images. In a period of nocturnal brilliance and oscillating movement, where individual entities suddenly become as blazing as the brightest planet, the Sun disappears, apparently killed and replaced by a pale and deadly comet-like rival, also called a serpent, who does not deserve to be numbered among the planets. This causes temporary misalliances - the Comet pursues Earth, but then is repelled, after which another planet becomes bright and attracts both Comet and Sun. Then there is a change to darkness, fog, vast noise and the disappearance of guiding light, and in this context the forces of order arrive at last, realign the attractions, and the difficult dark period is over. In the play, because it is not a dream, the variations have been carefully, geometrically structured because they must fulfill a conscious dramatic function, but, if one also looks at them as possible products of a suppressed primordial memory, then the pattern of shifting electrical electrically-charged and luminously-varying combinations may reflect celestial catastrophic events of the past being safely realized in the sublimation of art.

It is only after this final and apparently desirable order has been established that the night, or extended cloudy darkness, comes to an end when the Sun-Theseus appears. The Sun-Theseus had left the play as soon as Demetrius-Venus had become attracted to Hermia-Earth, when night and conflict as possible total destruction had descended upon the forest. The second, third and fourth acts, in which all the varying alignments are worked out, take place in darkness. Then, when order has been restored in heaven and on earth, the Sun-Theseus reappears to mark a new day, a return of day, a new order.

This constitutes the main action of the middle and largest portion of the play, and the two other stories developing in the night forest - the argument between Oberon and Titania, and the adventures of Bottom - are simultaneously brought to a conclusion at this point as well. To leap ahead for a moment, the third and final section of the play culminates in the solemnization of this new order, and this is performed by Oberon-Zeus-Jupiter, who no longer shoots thunderbolts at warring planets, but gives his blessing to earthly stability and concord. The mind of man, stirred to uneasiness by the recalling in sublimated artistic form of terrible catastrophic memories, is calmed by this final picture, which the controlling artist provides, of cosmic stability approved by Jupiter, the very source of such stability - or disorder.

Before this point is reached, however, the bulk of the third section consists of the yokels' playlet and a general tying up of loose ends. it appears to contribute very little to the development of the action and has been considered by some critics to be a weak appendage, a simple attempt by Shakespeare to end on a purely comic note, to "leave 'em laughing." I contend that it is very much more, for in it Shakespeare proceeds to make clear the larger meanings in his play by throwing questions at us which we ourselves must weigh and find answers for, so that we are provoked, through our own efforts, to perceive and to grasp what Shakespeare is getting at.

There are very few authorial comments earlier in the play, few direct references to overall meaning, but, here in the third part, after the main action has been in effect virtually completed, Shakespeare begins to pile hint upon hint, signal upon signal, leading us to reflect upon what has happened and to grasp its meaning. This process begins as soon as the night has ended and the fairies have departed, when Theseus, Hippolyta and the court go hunting in the forest and come across the four lovers asleep in the clearing. Theseus awakens them and asks the young men

I know you two are rival enemies;
How comes this gentle concord in the world,
That hatred is so far from jealousy,
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?

The question is also directed at us, of course. The lovers, totally confused by the past night's events, can offer no satisfactory answer, but their ineffectual gropings after the truth prod our awareness. Demetrius says of his conversion

But, my good ford, I wot not by what power -
But by some power it is - my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the rememberance of some idle gaud
Which in my childhood I did dote upon;
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
is only Helena.

This is what had to happen if Demetrius and Helena were to survive happily and contribute to the welfare of the state, and we have seen how it has occurred.

The process continues after the royal party leaves the stage and only Bottom remains, sound asleep. In a moment he awakens, minus his ass'head, ready to continue the rehearsal which Puck had interrupted the night before, but he sees that it is morning and that he is alone, and then he too, like the lovers immediately before him, begins to wonder about what had happened.

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a
dream, past the wit of man to say what dream
it was. Man is but an ass, if he go about to
expound this dream.

But we have not slept. We have seen what happened. For us it is no dream, and therefore we are being prodded, as we were in the immediately preceding episode with the lovers, to reject Bottom's attitude, to think about the dream ourselves, or else we too are but an ass. We must expound it, but Somewhat more successfully than Bottom.

The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man
hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his
tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what
my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a
ballet of this dream. It shall be called "Bottom's
Dream", because it hath no bottom; and I will sing
it in the latter end of a play, before the Duke.

If we are to perceive what Shakespeare is really getting at here, we must respond to the Biblical allusion to Corinthians in this passage, as a good part of Shakespeare's audience could have been counted on to do. Shakespeare is setting out to defend a play when plays were attacked as mere fancy, mere entertainment, and so he appeals to a higher level of truth.

And my speech and my preaching was not with
enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration
of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of
men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are
perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor
of the princes of this world, that come to naught:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

We are then told how we may perceive this wisdom.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

1 Corinthians, 2, 4-15.

This hidden wisdom is available to spiritual man, to he who is attuned to deep things. Natural man, like Bottom, can never know such truth, for his dreams have no bottom, and so to him they are foolishness. With consummate elegance, Shakespeare leaves it to us to choose what we will be as we watch the last act - natural man or spiritual man.

What follows - the play presented by the yokels to celebrate Theseus' wedding - has been considered by most critics a bit of lightweight burlesque spoofing the inadequacies of inferior actors and theatrical traditions. It is this, undeniably, but it is much more, and there are several major clues to its real significance.

First of all, we must notice the similarity between what happens in Bottom's playlet and what happens in the play itself. Many critics have pointed out that the Pyramus-Thisbe story bears some similarities to the story of Romeo and Juliet. Whether this be true or not, however, is hardly as important as the relation between Plyramus-Thisbe and the story of the four lovers in the same play, which very few critics have noticed. Pyramus and Thisbe are in love, like Lysander and Hermia, and, like them, parental obstacles prevent their marriage. Like them, Pyramus and Thisbe flee into a forest and a sequence of confusions is set in motion; but, unlike the lovers, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe does not end happily. Pyramus, seeing Thisbe's shawl which the lion had torn, assumes she is dead and kills himself in grief, whereupon Thisbe returns, sees the dead Pyramus and kills herself. Thus, the ending is precisely opposite to the story of the lovers, and the reason for it is precisely the absence of Oberon and Puck. No supervisory force with extrahuman power intervenes. The final meaning of the whole play will be derived in part from the juxtaposition of these two stories.

Second, we must situate this playlet in its proper context. It occurs after the wedding, but before the first physical consummation of the marriage bond. Theseus asks

Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bedtime?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?

In other words, the yokels' playlet which fills the gap here between Theseus' frustration and the approved time of sexual release, is like the sequence in the forest which filled the gap between Theseus' original frustration, as illustrated in his first lines in the play, and the time of his wedding. There is thus a structural parallel established between the whole forest episode and the playlet.

That is not the only similarity. Indeed, the connections between the two are many, and strong. if we are to appreciate the full importance of the playlet, we must see it in the following relationship - we must approach Shakespeare's play as Theseus' court approaches the yokels' playlet. That is

Audience : play
Court : playlet.

In such a framework, a third set of clues can be perceived - the peripheral comments upon the play made by the amused members of the court. For instance, when Theseus is told

A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
There is not one word apt, not one player fitted

he replies

I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss
When simpleness and duty tender it.

If we imagine that Shakespeare's play, like the playlet, is being presented before a noble audience, perhaps even at a noble wedding [24] , we can see that this speech is a clue and an apology, a plea for understanding and tolerance, and that is how we must react. A few moments earlier, in his speech on poets, lovers and madmen, Theseus had been as natural as Bottom, denying the validity of poetic insight, but in a trice he becomes Shakespeare's spiritual spokesman, telling us how we may perceive the truth embedded in the playlet. The point is made again moments later when Hippolyta, feeling sorry for the inability of the yokels and their unavoidable scorn before the whole court, says to Theseus

I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged,
And duty in his service perishing.

to which Theseus replies

Our sport shall be to take what they mistake;
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.

That is to say, the fun for Theseus will not lie in the ridiculousness of the playlet, but in taking what they mistake, in perceiving the sensible meaning behind the ludicrous form, for noble respect - royal understanding - judges the intention of the effort, even if the execution or merit of it is clumsy - and so must we, we are being told, even if we find Mr. Shakespeare's play clumsy. Even utter dumbness must be eloquence to the perceptive audience, as Theseus found when faced with a welcomer so tongue-tied with fright he could hardly speak a word.

Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome,
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most to my capacity.

The playlet itself, which occupies most of the fifth act, is excruciatingly funny, but Shakespeare's hints tell us there is some method behind this apparent madness.

His speech was like a tangled chain;
nothing impaired, but all disordered.

It is up to Theseus' court - and, by extension, to us - to perceive the chain beneath the tangle. As the action continues, even the sympathetic Hippolyta is driven to exclaim

This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard

to which Theseus replies, in a clear authorial signal

The best in this kind are but
shadows; and in the worst are no worse,
if imagination amend them.

That is to say, all plays are not real, all acting is feigning, a mirror or shadow of real life, and thus the worst production can be as usefully instructive as the best one, if the spectator fleshes out the production's weaknesses with his own imaginative understanding.

When the playlet draws to an end, leaving the noble audience weak with laughter, Theseus does not permit an epilogue, for

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve
Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.

The whole court leaves, with the three newly-married couples heading for their wedding-night beds. The play had begun in universal sexual frustration, but it ends in universal sexual fertility, properly controlled within the social bonds of marriage so as to furnish the most lasting happiness both for the individuals and for the tribe. Nothing remains but the blessing of the fairies, and the marriage of the leader of the tribe, complemented by the marriages of those who must help him rule, will have occurred under all the necessary auspicious conditions. Puck heralds the entrance of Oberon, Titania and their combined train, and the blessing is performed in a magic ritual of words, music and dance. The saga of Pyramus and Thisbe, however funny, was tragic. The tale of the lovers and their King is salvation and rebirth. So the play itself ends, with everyone gone but Puck, who delivers Shakespeare's epilogue. Our response to it must color our response to the whole play. it has a rather humble tone, a very apologetic manner, and the act of making amends for any offence the play may have caused is referred to three times outright, but I suggest that the true feeling communicated by this speech is not apology, but authorial suggestion.

Here are the important lines.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended:
That you have but slumb'red here,
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend.

If we take these words at their surface value, Puck is saying that anyone who may have been offended by the play need only consider it a weak and idle dream, and dismiss it as such. What he implies, if we have responded to the previous authorial hints, is precisely the opposite. That is to say, if one has not understood the play, then, like the humans in the forest, they can dismiss the play's events

And think no more of this night's accidents But as the fierce vexation of a dream.

If, however, one has been intrigued rather than offended, then one's reaction must be totally different. The play, the shadows, are then seen not as idle dreams, but as mirroring that which is truly real, like Plato's cave, and the wise spectator has, not slumb'red and seen visions, but has been awakened and seen symbols of universal truth, themes which are not weak, idle and unyielding of important ideas, but full of significance. And so the final choice is left by Shakespeare to us - we can react like Bottom, like human asses, failing to perceive the order behind the disorder, the chain behind the tangle, or we can be like Theseus, picking meaning out of jumble, taking what the action mis-took, seeing the grand pattern at work behind the play's seemingly chaotic events, a pattern which, when understood, communicates the author's vision of the meaning of life.

I have stressed the didactic nature of the third section because I wish to make clear what I believe is the vision of life embodied in the total action. It is a vision in which, to those caught up in the course of the events, there seems to be little cause for or purpose in what is happening. To those outside the events, like Theseus and his court watching the yokels' playlet, or we, the audience, watching Theseus in Shakespeare's play, there is a meaning, a purpose. The next step in this progression, obviously, is that God, watching us and our lives, sees the meaning of what happens to us, even if we sometimes do not. It is thus Shakespeare's intention in this play to explain the ways of God to man. Shakespeare is saying that the world, life itself, may appear to be veering to catastrophic destruction from time to time, but that a supernatural force - in this case represented by the omniscient and omnipotent Oberon - will intervene when necessary and sort things out for the welfare of the state, which always comes first, and sometimes for the good of the individual, who always comes second, or last. This is Shakespeare's comic vision, as it is the vision of most great and enduring comedy. Such a play moves from an opening situation fraught with danger, to a middle section of turbulence, fear, disorder and confusion, to a final stasis of order, happiness and fertility. There is the feeling of a new birth to a new and vastly better world, where all the dangers existent at the beginning have been eliminated, where all the changes necessary for a happy future have occurred, where, barring new difficulties, those who survive the ordeal of the middle section and manifest the desirable qualities are ordained into the new order of things at the end. Total societal chaos, which seemed a clear possibility at one point, has been averted, perhaps forever, through a process of reintegration into a harmonious relationship with the supernatural forces which determine the life and future of all tribes.

In the last section of this paper, I shall develop more fully the consequences of this general action in relation to Dr. Velikovsky's theories on cultural amnesia and to my own hypotheses on the nature of creative art. For the moment, let it rest at this - what happens in A Midsummer Night's Dream, transposed without much difficulty into geophysical and astrophysical terms, bears a satisfying resemblance in form and meaning to the cosmological dramas reconstructed by Dr. Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision.

I turn now to Antony and Cleopatra, a play saturated with catastrophic images and themes. First, Antony is consistently associated with Hercules and identified with Mars, as Cleopatra is with Venus and Isis. Their love, therefore, and the perturbation which it causes, is portrayed as an attraction between heavenly bodies which threatens the earth. Antony glows like plated Mars, 1.1.4, he is Herculean, 1.3.84, his faults shine like stars in the sky, 1.4.12, he is The demi-Atlas of this earth, 1.5.23, and when he utters sound, he can speak as loud as Mars, 2.2.6. Cleopatra, even when she suspects his fidelity, never questions his greatness.

Though he be painted one way like a gorgon,
The other way's a Mars [25] .

He is a giant, a colossus who

with my sword
Quartered the world and o'er green Neptune's back
With ships made cities

and when he loses his military prowess, it is believed that Hercules' power has left him, 4.3.15-16.

Cleopatra is both Isis and Venus. The love between her and Antony is described as an attraction between Venus and Mars, 1.5.18, she is given to actually dressing as Isis, 3.6.16-19, and, at her death, where she again costumes herself for the role she will assume, she is addressed specifically as Venus, 5.2.308, the suggestion that carries through her death and colors the final memory we have of her. Thus, both of the lovers are presented in cosmic and significantly Velikovskian roles.

Second, the power contest between Antony and Octavius is likewise given worldwide terms. it is not a local political struggle between petty rivals for a petty piece of land, but a battle for the whole of the civilized world, for the territory of man. Antony is the greatest soldier in the world, 1.3.38, a grand sea, 3.2.10, and in his face the worship of the whole world lies, 4.14.86. Octavius is The universal landlord, 3.13.72, and the whole world listens to his all-obeying breath, 3.13.77. Together they are

The senators alone of this great world,
Chief factors for the gods.

Thus, because Octavius is given a cosmic or at least worldwide dimension, the mythical magnitude of the love affair is matched by that of the political conflict.

The consequences for Earth acquire the same sign if significance, ' and indeed a greater one. In Old Testament terms, Egypt is the locale of the Exodus, and overtones of this event are recalled for us in Cleopatra's exclamation

Melt Egypt into Nile, and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents!

This is reinforced at the Battle of Actium, where Scarus, Antony's lieutenant, compares Antony's defeat to

the tokened pestilence, Where death is sure.

The image carries through in Shakespeare's creating mind, for Scarus then

Yon ribaudred nag of Egypt
Whom leprosy o'ertake !

In three lines of dialogue, there is a conjunction in Shakespeare's mind of pestilence, death, Egypt and leprosy. Yet, while the defeat of Antony may have overtones of a divine Old Testament holocaust, its consequence, the victory of Octavius, is cast in a New Testament mould. To quote from one critic:

Octavius - Caesar as he is always called in Antony and Cleopatra - was to become Augustus, perhaps the greatest of Roman emperors, creator of the Pax Romana that closed the long period of unrest, revolution, and war, with the time of peace in which Christ was to be born. Thus, in the war with Antony, when Antony's allies have deserted and sympathy for him is at its strongest, Caesar redresses the balance by a brief but significant reminder of his future role in history:

The Time of universal peace is near. Prove this a prosp'rous Clay, the three'nooked world Shall bear the olive freely [26] .

Thus, the political story acquires a vast religious dimension - it clears the way, prepares the ground, for a new life, for Christ. The turbulence in this tragedy leads to a welcome, beneficent stasis, a new situation much better and safer than the old one, and it is the same process which we discovered in the comedy.

We have thus established that the lovers, who cause so much damage to the Roman empire, are portrayed as Mars and Venus in dangerous conjunction; that Octavius, Antony's antagonist, is also given cosmic stature; that the defeat of Antony is Biblical in character, and that the whole process of the play is a movement from danger to conflict to order. if we now take the step of transposing the action into possible astronomical or catastrophic terms, as we had ventured earlier with the comedy, we can see that Antony and Cleopatra are presented as heavenly bodies, specifically Mars and Venus, who have abandoned their roles, or left their accustomed orbits, to pose a vast danger to the Roman Empire, or Earth. They are then opposed and defeated by Octavius, who may be the Sun. When they are dead, their names and memories can be safely elevated to myth, just as Dr. Velikovsky tells us that the actual planets Mars and Venus, once so prominent in the skies and so threatening, are now safely distant, in fixed orbits, presenting no living danger to the Earth, and so they too can be safely venerated.

If one has read Velikovsky, the general action in Antony and Cleopatra is clearly catastrophic, and it is on this basis that I wish to analyze the corresponding celestial and catastrophic imagery which Shakespeare has used to characterize the lovers at every important stage of their story's development.

Once they are in love, Antony's proximity or distance directly affects Cleopatra's brilliance, 1.1.9-10. Their attraction takes them beyond all established bounds to find out new heaven, new earth, 1.1.17. When Antony renounces Rome for Egypt his words are made to unknowingly prefigure the worldwide destruction this will cause.

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall !

To him, Kingdoms are clay, 1.1.35, or ground covered by floods, and of Cleopatra's passions, it is said sarcastically but with unknowing truth

We cannot
call her winds and waters sighs and tears; they are
greater storms and tempests than almanacs can

When trouble brews at this level

whose quality, going on,
The sides o' th'world may danger
1.2. 194.

it is immediately associated with a serpent, 1.2.195-196, a quintessential primitive symbol of celestial disturbance, as Dr. Velikovsky has pointed out [27] .

When Antony protests his love to Cleopatra, he does in swearing shake the throned gods, 1.3.28, and his propensity to violence is governed by her influence, 1.3.70-71. Cleopatra is the serpent of old Nile, 1.5.25, and when she is aroused, she is unwittingly made to predict her fall, like Antony, in catastrophic terms.

O, I would thou didst,
So half my Egypt were submerged and made
A cistern for scaled snakes!

The image is as reminiscent of the Exodus as of Velikovsky, as indeed it should be if Dr. Velikovsky is correct, for he dates the Exodus to the time of the first catastrophe described in Worlds in Collision.

Later, when Octavia fears a battle between Octavius and Antony, what she says bears an eerie resemblance to catastrophic upheavals and floods.

Wars 'twixt you twain would be
As if the world should cleave, and that slain men
Should solder up the rift.

We think of the evidence Dr. Velikovsky presents in Earth in Upheaval of rock fissures choked with massed broken fragments of bones [28] .

She herself, if considered a heavenly body consistent with the major personages, is drawn from Octavius to Antony, and then back to Octavius again, as if she represented the Moon, and her final return to the orbit of Earth is surprisingly tranquil, with no accompanying army, no troop of horses, no noise or debris, as may have been the case earlier.

Nay, the dust
Should have ascended to the roof of heaven,
Raised by your populous troops.

Later, when the two triumvirs do at last meet in battle and Antony abandons his fleet, Scarus cries out

The greater cantle of the world is lost
With very ignorance

where cantle means a segment of the sphere, the globe, and Antony ascribes his errancy, his flight from orbit, to Cleopatra's astrophysical influence, because she knew

Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
Command me.

Having lost humiliatingly to Octavius, he feels bereft of divine guidance, as if

my good stars that were my former guides
Have empty left their orbs and shot their fires
Into th' abysm of hell

and Cleopatra's apparent treason appears to obscure the Moon and foretell Mars' destruction.

Alack, our Terrene moon
Is now eclipsed, and it portends alone
The fall of Antony.

When she protests her innocence, her words ironically predict the destruction of Egypt accomplished by hail from a comet's cold heart, 3.13.159, which will also be poisoned, and will destroy all generations of life, leaving the dead unburied, prey for scavenging insects, 3.13-159-167. For a brief moment, Antony's fortunes seem to improve, and Cleopatra becomes his Sun -O thou day o' th' world, 4.8.13. His soldiers are like scourges of heaven, fighting

As if a god in hate of mankind had
Destroyed in such a shape

and they glow like holy Phoebus' car, 4.8.29, like the chariot of the sun god. When Antony pictures himself and his love reuniting, he imagines such vast noise

That heaven and earth may strike their sounds together,
Applauding our approach.

There is a striking parallel in Worlds in Collision, where Dr. Velikovsky describes the approach of comet Venus as accompanied by loud worldwide noise [29] .

The false hope does not last long, for in the next battle Antony's forces are soundly defeated, and it appears that Cleopatra has truly betrayed him this time. Antony is driven into uncontrollable anger, and compares himself to the frenzied Hercules, who, near death through a poisoned garment, hurls the bearer of it on the horns o' th' moon, 4.12.45. We remember how Dr. Velikovsky showed that many myths of divine and sometimes horned animals scourging the earth are symbols of the catastrophic tempests [30] , and so it is with the failing Antony, who Cleopatra says is

more mad
Than Telamon for his shield; the boar of Thessaly
Was never so embossed.

We perceive that Antony's magnitude is diminishing, and it is accompanied by great noise and rending.

The soul and body rive not more in parting
Than greatness going off.

Antony's last description of himself is of inundating dissolution. He compares his self, his identity, to a cloud which continually changes shape and so becomes nothing, a process which

makes it indisctinct
As water is in water.

In this last part of the play, concerned as it is with the deaths of Mars and Venus, the catastrophic images cluster most noticeably. When Anton is told of Cleopatra's alleged death, he describes himself as no longer incandescent, nor errant, and so

the torch is out,
Lie down, and stray no farther.

He then tries to kill himself, and, as he lies wounded, his soldiers too seem to recognize that an era is over, that their former astral guides are gone, and a new time, a new calendar, will begin after Antony's darkness, as two of them observe

The star is fall'n.
And time is at his period.

Dr. Velikovsky, of course, has argued that following each of the major planetary interactions there was indeed a new time new lengths of day, month and year [31] .

With the approach of Antony's destruction, the relevant imagery becomes violently catastrophic. When Cleopatra, from her monument, sees Antony's body being brought onstage, she cries out

O sun,
Burn the great sphere thou mov'st in; darkling stand
The varying shore o' th' world.

When Antony speaks his last and expires, she erupts in imagery which might almost have been drawn from Dr. Velikovsky's theories.

The crown o' th' earth cloth melt. My lord !
O, withered is the garland of the war,
The soldier's pole [which may be the pole-star] is fall'n:
young boys and girls
Are level now with men. The odds [that which was
distinctive and projecting] is gone;
And there is nothing left remarkable [there is nothing
topographically distinctive, as if all is smooth and
flat, like after Noah's Flood]
Beneath the visiting moon.

She faints, and is revived, and conjures herself

It were for me
To throw my sceptre at the injurious gods,
To tell them that this world did equal theirs
Till they had stol'n our jewel

which may suggest that, with Mars no longer incandescent, nor nearby, it no longer lights up Earth's space, so Earth no longer possesses its own star. She then continues the reference to Antony as a burned-out star.

Come, away.
The case of that huge spirit now is cold.

In life it was hot, bright, and life-giving, but in death it is dark, cold and contains no spirit. Velikovsky informs us that Mars, which is now simply a tranquil distant point of light in the night sky, was once a fiery, menacing, destructive entity much closer to Earth.

When Octavius first learns of Antony's death, he is surprised by its lack of catastrophic noise.

The breaking of so great a thing should make
A greater crack [explosion]. The round world
Should have shook lions into civil streets
And citizens, to their dens.

He then explains that the solar system could not entertain two rival suns, and so a conflict between them was inevitable, 5.137-40, and one of them would have to decline, or set.

Cleopatra remembers Antony as a figure of cosmic climension and stability, whose

face was as the heav'ns, and therein stuck
A sun and moon, which kept their course* and lighted
This little O, th' earth.
[* Italics the authors]

This celestial phenomenon was a colossal being who threatened the Earth.

His legs bestrid the ocean: his reared arm
Crested the world; his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder.

Dr. Velikovsky tells us that, at certain times during the catastrophes of the eighth and seventh centuries B. C., Mars appeared to be a giant warrior with his sword spanning the sky, and that, when in this aroused state, his approach caused such extreme havoc and thunder that the whole globe tottered, or shook [32] .

With Antony gone, with Mars defeated, Octavius the Sun is the only ruler of the skies, or, as Cleopatra calls him, Sole sir o' th' world, 5.2.120. There remains, then, the death of Cleopatra. It occurs distinctly apart from Antony's. Like Antony's, it is described as a loss of brilliance and an explosion accompanied by loud noise and the breaking of surfaces. just before her death, she refers to herself as almost extinct, although ready to flare up if provoked again.

Prithee go hence,
Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits
Through th' ashes of my chance.

As she prepares for her suicide, her handmaiden again emphasizes the loss of brilliance.

Finish, good lady, the bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.

Once she has been poisoned, another handmaiden prays that her soul and body may rive, or break apart with a rending explosion, 5.2.310, and, when she dies, when her eyes close and so symbolically she can emit no more rays, exert no more power, she no longer poses a real threat to the Sun.

Downy windows, close;
And golden Phoebus never be beheld
Of eyes again so royal !

Indeed, Phoebus the Sun, or Octavius and the Roman Empire, must never again be beheld or challenged as an equal by eyes so royal, almost as powerful as the Sun, and that is the point Shakespeare wishes to make. That is why he includes, at the very instant of Cleopatra's passing, a reference to the Sun, to the paramount position of Octavius, who must be the one who acquires sole power at the end. When she is dead, the Sun has triumphed and the Earth is stable, more stable than it was at the beginning.

I might add, in closing this section, that Halley's (then unnamed) comet was visible in Europe's skies about 1607, just before the generally accepted period of the play's composition, and Kepler's Supernova burst into prominence in 1604. The Supernova may not have been a matter of common talk, since the concept of change in the distant heavens was still a matter of fierce scientific and theological debate, but the comet may well have been a more popular sensation. This, however, is merely a tidbit, because catastrophic overtones appear in Shakespearian plays written before the celestial events I have mentioned, as we saw earlier, and also because I have not established to my own satisfaction any distinct point of view regarding the role of actual events in triggering catastrophic associations in an artist's mind.

Such is the basic story of the play. its meaning, however, has been the subject of much controversy, with opinion basically divided between those who side with the lovers, and hold the world well lost, and those who support duty and responsibility, seeing Octavius as the necessary winner. Most recent criticism has tended to strike a note between these extremes, arguing that Shakespeare balances love versus duty so carefully that neither is solely to be preferred, but both are given attractiveness and importance.

To deal with this issue more fully - and it is the major topic in current criticism of the play - I will turn in a moment to two quite recent studies of the play. I adduce them for one reason in particular. it may be argued that celestial imagery in Shakespeare's play is in order because he is dramatizing material only recently available to his culture, material whose origin is Roman, and thus he might naturally use the Roman elements of the story, which include the celestial. One might even wish to explain the catastrophic as opposed to merely celestial associations surrounding Antony and Cleopatra in this way, as natural offshoots of their Roman identification with Mars and Venus, although this is much less plausible. The same, however, cannot be done for twentieth-century critics. If they show evidence of Velikovskian catastrophic overtones or parallels in their criticism, in a frequency and depth which seems to go beyond chance, one cannot attribute it merely to cultural fashion or historical inheritance. Instead, one may be led to wonder whether these similar features, produced some 400 years apart in relation to the same historical material, may have similar origins which lie beyond the conscious act of writing a play or commenting on it.

The first analysis I will deal with is by Robin Lee of the University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg [33] . He is not by any means a conscious Velikovskyite, yet his analysis of the play produces results which are surprisingly Velikovskian. First, he acknowledges the mythic, even divine status which is given to the lovers [34] . Speaking generally, he claims that all great tragedies contain archetypal patterns of general human experience, with a stress on general [35] . In this play, he feels, the acts of the lovers take on, in our imaginations as well as in their own, the dimensions of an archetypal human experience [36] . In this way, the whole play acquires a mythic quality through the ritual nature of several of the situations [37] . He suggests no cause for these archetypes and rituals; indeed he seems to be suspicious of his own reactions for he hastens to assure us

I am not here proposing some form of dramatic collective
unconsciousness; but he has nevertheless recognized and
responded to the ritual suggestions, and mythic shapes
which will be felt by the audience [38] .

The questions we must put to ourselves, of course, are - Why are certain patterns felt to be archetypal? Why do we perceive certain actions, however vaguely, as ritual? Why do certain narratives, in prose or poetic or dramatic form, impress us with these features? The answer to all of these, I suggest, lies in the Velikovskian catastrophes.

Lee sees Antony as a sacrifice, a scapegoat, and he notes that Antony, as Mars, is given a poetic greatness which is contradicted by his smallness of action [39] . I suggest that a conflation of these two roles - scapegoat and Mars - is a significant clue to Antony's value, and that it derives directly from catastrophic memories. It is logical that, if another entity destroys itself to save us, we can have our cake and eat it by giving this entity mythic status but making it deserve its destruction. In this way, we can enjoy the result of its action without feeling guilt over its ruin. If we make the entity repudiate us and our values, we then repudiate it and our morality is satisfied. This, I feel, is what happened to Antony, who suffers the fate of all scapegoats. To find a source for this pattern, we need only think of Dr. Velikovsky's Mars, the once-bright and honored planet which appeared to betray Earth by being drawn away by the comet, and was defeated and expelled by the god of light as a result, to take a lesser position than before. If we make Mars guilty, our consciences can tolerate the fact of its sacrificial destruction, and thus the Velikovskian catastrophe may be the primal pattern behind the scapegoat figure which appears so universally in human cultures. Velikovsky's Mars is certainly one of the patterns underlying most tragic heroes. What Velikovsky says about Mars is What tragedy shows happening to the tragic hero.

Specifically, Lee notes a vast decline in Antony. He says that Shakespeare describes him as Mars, but Mars weak, old and unstable - ready to become frenzied and erratic in behaviour [40] . In Velikovskian terms, the play pictures the last stages of the catastrophic events, and the actual features of the action, as Lee discerns them, are highly catastrophic. Lee describes the action as a series of vacillations or swings increasing in speed as they decrease in duration, until all movement stops and a final resting point is reached, so that he says

... the final point in time is the result of the swiftly alternating movement between different points in space [41] .

In other words, the action impresses him as a process of (celestial) equilibrium.

The sequence of events in time reaches its stasis in these
scenes, as does the sequence of events in space [42] .

This quotation applies as readily to the catastrophic Mars and Venus as it does to Shakespeare's Antony.

Second, the image groupings which Lee discerns in the play also complement a celestial, and indeed catastrophic, interpretation.

The Roman life is associated with images of straightness
and stability, the Egyptian with images of fluidity
(o'erflows'), mingling ('stirr'd') and relaxation ('soft hours').
These patterns are projected through the play [43] .

He tells us that the play moves in an atmosphere of ambivalence which becomes the medium through which the play is perceived [44] , and that this ambivalence is the product of opposed images.

Egypt - and Cleopatra - are constantly associated with water [45] .

The second basic pattern of images associates Rome with the earth or land ... This pattern begins as early as Antony's first speech, in which Roman 'earth' and 'clay' are opposed to the emotional quality of his Egyptian love. Through this association we feel the stability and solidity of the Roman world [46] .

As the tone of this passage suggests, Roman moral attitudes are basically stoical. They endure rather than suffer [47] .

Between these opposing images of water and earth, Shakespeare creates a series of images of the process of change. The most important of these are images of earth melting into water, and finally water mingling with water ... This pattern of images reinforces the sense of dissolution by perpetual movement between conflicting opposites that is so important a part of the structure [48] .

Antony, wavering between solid Rome and fluid, changing Egypt, cannot keep his integrity whole, and so he melts.

Antony compares his sense of his own existence - even of his physical existence - to the tenuous stability of clouds drifting into clouds, and finally water mingling with water . . . in the phrase 'the rack dislimns', (Arden editor: 'the drifting clouds efface') similarities of sound suggest that he is undergoing almost a physical disintegration as a result of torture - being torn limb from limb on the rack [49] .

We can thus see how the astronomic equivalences apply. Rome is Earth,. land, that which must survive, and therefore Octavius is the Sun, Cleopatra the Comet, and Antony is Mars. In the configuration of important entities, Antony is not a mere average man, but part of a triumvirate which rules the Roman Empire, or the civilized world. In cosmic terms, Mars is not a harmless star in distant space, but an errant planet threatening Earth and the Solar System. In the social scale of values, Antony vacillates between love and duty. in the solar structure, Mars vacillates between a dangerous affair with Venus and a required role affecting the stability of the solar system. If Antony abandons his duty to pursue Cleopatra, the Roman Empire is menaced; if Mars leaves its orbit to pursue Venus, Earth is menaced. As we have already seen, the imagery in both cases is the same - land melts into water, the structure of existence breaks, nature is disrupted. For Mars, the result was extinction and expulsion. To Lee, Antony dissolves and is destroyed

...... because of an inability to hold a steady purpose or a steady view of himself [50] .

Lee sees Antony's need to break out of Cleopatra's sphere of influence [51] . for Antony seems to recognize that this alone will save him. Like Mars, he becomes dangerous when drawn to her orbit, for then he loses his identity. He used to define himself in terms of soldiership, the army, and Rome. He then centered his world on Cleopatra and so lost his former role. Mars too, Velikovsky tells us, left its orbit and so lost its previous role.

With Cleopatra, the process is radically different, for

the images surrounding Cleopatra's death are conversely of steadiness and constancy [52] .

Antony was steady, Lee says, and was ruined because he became inconstant. Cleopatra was inconstant, and was suppressed by becoming steady. Again, this applies equally to Velikovsky's Venus and Mars.

Cleopatra's stature increases as she dies, as if Venus emitted a final burst of brilliance before expiring. Her purpose is

To do that thing that ends all other deeds,
Which shackles accidents and bolts up change

and the image is one of a passage from change to rest. When the poisonous serpent arrives, she says

My resolution's placed, and I have nothing
Of woman in me: now from head to foot
I am marble-constant.

As she is being dressed in her final garments, she anticipates becoming a celestial body like Antony.

Husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title !
I am fire, and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.

That is, she renounces her earthly aspects, earth and water, to become like a star - fire and air. She who had ravaged the earth, the Roman Empire, will go off into space and menace Earth no more.

As Lee sees it, death halts chance and change for Cleopatra. She passes to

.... the 'better life' that is impervious to the fluctuations of fortune and change ...

and so her sacrifice is an act that finally fixes our sympathy with her [53] . We can afford to admire her now because in death she has at last become constant, and also less, for the process, in stabilizing her, has also diminished her. Thus, in her very last moments, she is forced to subside and to settle into a safe orbit by the influence of Antony, whose

... power quite literally extends beyond the grave, and reaches out to modify her attitudes after his death [54] .

When we last see her, she is brilliant but distant, and so we do not become emotionally involved as we watch her ritualistic death on the stage, her literal transformation into Venus, the Star of the East.

In conclusion, Lee says the attraction between Antony and Cleopatra produces

...... a universe in convulsion: the dramatic conflict between the characters is extended by symbolic action and by imagery, to suggest the involvement of the whole of the natural order [55] .

This corresponds with what several other critics, equally unaware of Dr. Velikovsky, see in the play. To them, Antony and Cleopatra, each previously great in his or her own sphere assert a new order because they come together. This order is a challenge to what is and what must be, and so they are destroyed, which means catastrophic memories may underlie the pattern of Luciferian revolt. Furthermore, to these critics the overthrow of the lovers has consequences far beyond themselves.

Antony's political defeat and his and Cleopatra's individual tragedy are both set within the context of a larger process, simpler and more universal [56]

which we can recognize as a process of change, of a new order, in both the natural and political worlds. This is what we also discovered in the comedy, and so we may suspect that the form of most great narrative art is dictated by suppressed catastrophic experiences. Imagine that man, considering the catastrophes, had to see good in what happened, or his existence would become unbearably anxious. He might then construe the catastrophes as cleansing scourges provoked by the revolt of certain heavenly bodies who had been duly chastised, and thus, in such a story, the solar system is left stronger than it was before, albeit bereft of several of its more spectacular entities. Imagine then that this rationalization, which has imposed a beneficent ethical meaning upon a horrendous physical event, is transferred to creative art. The result might well be a play like Antony and Cleopatra, in which William Shakespeare's depiction of Mars and Venus bears so great a resemblance to Immanuel Velikovsky's.

I turn next to another recent study of the play, by Clifford Davidson of Western Michigan University [57] . He stresses the inconographical, mythical and religious models which he feels underlie Shakespeare's play, claiming it is in large part

... based on archetypal patterns which appear to have their basis in literature, thought, and tradition of his own time [58] .

These traditional models, as Davidson elicits them, trace back to the time of Christ and indeed earlier, and thus Davidson's linking of them to Shakespeare's play may indicate a form of continuity of idea between the actual times of the catastrophes and Shakespeare's day.

In general, Davidson's essay, like Lee's, seems almost to have been written about Velikovsky's theories, so often and so consistently do his observations apply. I hazard the guess that this is primarily so because the background which Davidson delineates - myth, icon, religious parallel - is only one step removed in literality from the events which gave rise to it. Thus, when I apply his discoveries to my approach, I feel I am simply carrying his materials back to their true source.

Cleopatra, says Davidson, is given traditional sets of qualities which relate her, among others, to The Whore of Babylon, a brilliant Queen, the temptress Circe, a provocative gypsy, and the goddess Venus. To this list we must add Velikovsky's Venus, for she is also given the qualities of a fiercely disruptive celestial body. For instance, Davidson describes her as

. . . active and hot - so hot that the seeming Cupids on her barge with their fans only make her "delicate cheeks" glow with their sensual warmth [59] .

She is portrayed as a disturber of natural order.

She stands for excess, since she will not pause at the limits set by nature [60] .

Her object is to disrupt a pre-existing scheme.

Thus she usurps the phallic role, Shakespeare suggests: of course, such usurpation is an attempt to achieve a reversal of the natural order, which was, after all, the object of the serpent in Eden [61] .

Because she is associated with serpents, notes Davidson, Cleopatra's Egypt is hideously fertile, full of snakes, and poisonous.

She lives in a world which is reminiscent of Spenser's Bower of Bliss and which is fully as poisonous, especially to male visitors from Rome [62] .

The poison affects Antony, who

... admits to Caesar that he had "neglected" his duty when poisoned hours had bound me up/ From mine own knowledge (II. ii. 90-91). This poison is obviously to be identified with the great Satanic enemy of life who in the guise of the serpent conveyed death into the fertile Garden of Eden and hence into the whole world of human beings [63] .

Here we have the serpent, a poisonous Cleopatra and the destruction of Eden in one passage. If we recall what Velikovsky says about the relation between mythological serpents and the tail of Comet Venus, and about the poisonous consequences of Earth's contact with that very tail, and about its effects on the planet Mars, which might poetically be said to have neglected its duty in being forced to follow a new or errant course, the parallels are suggestive, as if the appearance of what seemed to be a giant serpent in the sky marked the apparent end of celestial stability. This also accords well with Cleopatra's role as Eve to Antony's as Adam, which Davidson also establishes.

She is also Circe, as described in Chapman's translation of Homer, holding out a cup of sensual pleasure which transforms men into beasts - or stable planets into unstable bodies - and we are told her poison is associated with sweetness.

Not surprisingly, Chapman's translation describes Circe disguising her "harme full venoms" with honey as well as with other nourishing food and drink [64] .

We might think of the connection Velikovsky makes between the poisonous atmosphere of Comet Venus' tail and the sweet honey-like manna produced by its hydrocarbons.

From Circe, it is but a short step to Venus, both in her earthly form, where she was considered a planetary prostitute [65] , and in her heavenly form, which taught men to prefer eternal reality to immediate pleasure. She is also equated with Isis, just as Velikovsky has done, but the most prevalent image she projected for the Renaissance, Davidson tells us, was as a universal troublemaker, for

... though not true in every sense, the claim may be provisionally made that Venus ought to be seen in terms of discord ... Cleopatra likewise is in one sense also-viewed by Shakespeare as a major source of discord within the ancient Roman world [66] .

If we apply the celestial equivalents which I have tried to establish earlier in my analysis of this play, we can see that the Renaissance picture of Cleopatra is much like Velikovsky's picture of Venus.

Next, we look at Cleopatra's effect upon Antony. It was generally considered, Davidson tells us, that Antony's attraction to Cleopatra debilitated him. The image Shakespeare uses is martial, but it could also be considered Velikovskian.

Thus Antony's sword is "made weak" by [his] affection [67] .

The cause of this weakening, in medieval terms, is the sin of Idleness, or Sloth, and it is curious that Davidson refers to an illustration of Idleness by Cesare Ripa, in which an old woman, weak and poor, holds a fish. He quotes Ripa:

Fish, it was believed, when touched by a net or by hands become so stupefied that they cannot escape. Idleness affects the idle in the same way; they cannot do anything [68] .

It is interesting that idleness, which traps Antony, is pictured as a fish immobilized in a net, which recalls Antony caught in Cleopatra's strong Egyptian fetters, 1.2.113, and also the net of Hephaestus trapping and immobilizing Ares and Aphrodite as they make love illicitly. This last is a major point in Alfred de Grazia's The Torrid Love Affair of Moon and Mars, where he draws a direct relationship between the celestial events of -780 to -687, as described by Velikovsky, and the Song of Demodocus from Book Eight of Homer's Odyssey, where the Ares-Aphrodite-Hephaestus love triangle is narrated [69] .

Antony was of course identified with Mars, Davidson points out, and thus, when he rebels, it is described in geometrical terms as a rebellion against order - he does not keep his square, he does not act by the rule. instead, he is drawn erratically to the East, to Cleopatra, and the result is pictured as a startling disorder in the sky, with celestial objects appearing where and when they should not.

By his lack of control, he will gain mirth and another chance "To reel the streets at noon" [70] .

At another point, Davidson brings the love story even closer to the events described by Velikovsky, when he tells us that Shakespeare was familiar with the Ares-Aphrodite rod - Hephaestus triangle which de Grazia has seen as a mythological retelling of the Velikovsky scenario [71] . In this case it is the Roman version, involving Venus, Mars and the jealous Vulcan, as narrated in the fourth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, where Mars' excessive attraction to Venus, or Antony's to Cleopatra, is given explicitly catastrophic dimensions by Davidson through reference to Shakespeare's own words, already quoted in another instance some pages earlier.

The greatness of this love can only be measured in terms of the degree to which Antony will neglect his duty. He will "Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch/ Of the rang'd empire fall" (I. i. 33-34) [72] . Venus and Mars become hot when they join, but they are cooled by Vulcan.

Such an interpretation of the myth would seem to have been an important element in Shakespeare's depiction of Antony and Cleopatra [73] .

Cleopatra is thus pictured as the Fatal Woman who destroys the male, and the image which Davidson uses bears an eerie resemblance to Velikovsky's own words.

Through her instrumentality, he loses his manhood and gives himself over to blind and irrational Fortune, who then flings him from her wheel [74] .

When the warrior-like Mars came into conjunction with the seductive Venus, the result in Renaissance myth was that he was emasculated, he lost his warlikeness, but we must also think of Velikovsky, describing the celestial event, and saying enigmatically that Mars was thrown out of the ring [75] . This must lead us to wonder whether the role of Comet Venus as described by Velikovsky underlies the religious and mythological figure pictured variously as Eve, Circe, the Whore of Babylon, an evil temptress, a celestial prostitute and Cleopatra.

In political terms, which parallel the celestial events Dr. Velikovsky described, Antony-Mars should be master because of his status in the Roman Empire, for Cleopatra-Venus is a captive ruler, but he is subdued by Cleopatra, and

... as a result of his submission, he loses his potency. Hence there appears to be justified male bitterness when Candidus exclaims that his "leader's led/ And we are women's men" (III. vii. 69-70) [76] .

Cleopatra is described as

... the debilitating queen - the fatal woman - who in the end will sap all his warlike heat and power ...

- What could be more like Velikovsky's picture of Mars and Venus? - ...

and thus will lead him to utter defeat at the end of a mismanaged war [77] .

Davidson at this point refers to a painting by Botticelli.

Mars, like Antony, has put aside his plated armor; nude and debilitated, he sleeps as if nothing could ever wake him [78] .

We think of the planet Mars now, shorn of most of its atmosphere, terrain and hydrosphere, of its brilliance, nude and bare as in the photographs, and weak, meaning with little effect upon Earth or the stability of the Solar System. Dr. Velikovsky has called it a flying graveyard [79] . There is no question, says Davidson

. . . that Venus was the active agent: in other words, what Venus did with Mars was to render him her slave. As Ficino asserts in his astrological discussion of these divinities, "Mars never masters Venus." [80]

Yet, despite Venus-Cleopatra's role as a disrupter of order, despite her deleterious effect on Mars-Antony, Davidson emphasizes that the Renaissance saw a very positive conclusion to their affair, for

... the Renaissance generally remembered that the love of Venus and Mars was a discordia concors which led originally to the birth of a daughter, Harmony. The value of Venus' dominance over Mars will thus be found in the mitigation of the god of war's ferocity, for only through such dominance can conflict and war be reduced to harmonious peace ... in the end, the love of the martial Antony and wanton Cleopatra will lead historically to the end of the conflict between the triumvirs and to the harmony of "universal peace" into which will be born the Prince of Peace [81] .

That is to say, the Venus-Mars turbulence, which appears so potentially troublesome, actually precedes the coming of a new order. This is certainly the case in Shakespeare's play, for Davidson refers to Octavius Caesar's prediction of future peace as Antony and Cleopatra are close to their destruction.

"The time of universal peace" . . . is perhaps the most significant single line in the play. This will be the "universal Peace through Sea and Land" which, according to Milton's "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity," prepared the scene for "the Prince of Light" to begin "His reign of peace upon the earth." [82]

It is at this point that Davidson's analysis of the classical and medieval background to Shakespeare's plays merges virtually directly with my Velikovskian interpretation of it. He calls our attention to the apocalyptic nature of the imagery with which this positive result of the Mars-Venus disturbance is dressed, and, in so doing, he gives it precisely the universal relevance which Velikovsky sees.

The old order is coming to a close, and the effect will be to reorient* men who believe in a Christian message to the "new heaven" and "new earth" which will be ushered in after the Second Coming. . . When the guards discover the fatally wounded Antony, one of them exclaims: "The star is fallen," while the other one adds, "And time is at his period" (IV. xiv. 106-107). In the Apocalypse, we read: "and there felle a great starre from heaven" (viii, 10); and "time shulde bee no more" (x. 6) [83] .

[* italics the writer's]

If we transpose these last three quotes into literal solar-system terms, they apply to the situation in the heavens from -779 to -686 as described by Velikovsky, especially if one were trying to put a hopeful positive interpretation upon these terrifying events. If Rome is Earth, then the Mars-Venus turbulence is indeed a discordia concors, creating conflict in the skies, but then leading to the destruction of that conflict through Venus' mitigation of

Mars' ferocity. It is a catastrophe in the ancient Greek sense - a turning down before a new and better age begins. What it leads to, in religious terms, is a time of universal Peace [celestial stability] through Sea and Land - no cataclysmic floods, earthquakes, upheavals of land mass which prepares the way for the Prince of Light. We might wonder whether the pattern of darkness to light, the idea that it is always darkest before it becomes light, has its origin in the Velikovskian catastrophic events. Lastly, this transition is described as a reorientation, caused by a great star falling from heaven and stopping time, after which there is a new heaven - a different configuration of stars relative to Earth's new axis - and a new earth, new lands thrust up and others submerged, new poles and equator, new cardinal points relative to the rising and setting of the sun, new seasons, new topography. In sum, disaster leads to survival. All is changed, but it is for the better.

It is to the artistic ramifications of this hopeful attitude that I now address myself, for they provide us with a clear insight into what might have happened between the occurrence of the events and their emergence into art. It is an object lesson in how human nature can make the unpleasant palatable and even helpful. Towards the end of his essay, Davidson observes

To be sure, Cleopatra, like Venus and her protégé Helen, contributed to the fall of a city and/ or empire because of a passionate attachment, but nevertheless may not be seen only as a symbol of a passion which ought at all costs to be resisted. For, had not Antony yielded to his passion, his life would hardly have appeared as appealing or as suitable for being mirrored in art [84] .

This is a form of having one's cake and eating it, which Shakespeare, as a great artist representing mankind, achieves on our behalf. By depicting the planets as humans, he makes them weak, even despicable; this is our revenge for what they did to us; but the humans, no matter how much we revile them, are based upon planets, great and terrifying stars which once moved erratically in the skies, and we fear they may do so again, and so we must also placate them, which we do by giving them - planet and surrogate - a final greatness quite different from their earlier pettiness. This is what happens to the disruptive lovers, for, when they are dead, Octavius Caesar praises them, and

Caesar's attitude reflects quite clearly the sympathy and wonder with which the audience is encouraged to look upon the tragic events at the end* of the lives of Antony and Cleopatra [85] .

[* Italics the writer's]

Cleopatra is transformed, apotheosized, but the key element in her transformation is that she is rendered safe.

She longs no longer for any earthly man, but strongly desires immortality. She shall never again taste the earthly wine from Egypt's grapes, nor may she participate again in any earthly revels ... Her baser elements are purged away so that her love may pull her up to where her desire rests upon the spirit of Mark Antony in bliss [86] .

In celestial terms, Venus is being forever separated from any connection with Earth. She will not be like mankind, which tastes wine and participates in revels, and is mortal. She will be immortal, but distant. She will be revered and honored because mankind can now afford to do it, because Cleopatra is no longer a wandering comet, which might be dangerous, but a planet in a fixed orbit.

This is a triumph of the mind and imagination of man, for

. . . the immortality which Cleopatra, under the guise of the goddess Venus, achieves, is after all the immortality which art, not religion, has to offer [87] .

Art, and myth, the concealing and transforming processes of the human mind, make the best of what had at first been a rather terrifying situation.

The common Venus, who stood behind the Cleopatra whose mind always had been focused on the delight associated with generation, in the end by contraries melts into the heavenly Venus who sets forth to take her last immortal journey [88] .

Who, we should read instead, by setting forth on this last journey, which implies that she will not return, is rewarded with immortality.

Like Tasso who attempts to convert his witch Armida after Rinaldo is rescued from her power, Shakespeare insists upon transforming the destructive passion which Cleopatra represents into its seeming opposite [89] .

The same occurs with Antony. He

... at last is lifted up to a new and greater heroism by his martyrdom and by the miracle of love. At the death of "Herculean Antony," Cleopatra laments that the gods have "stol'n our jewel" (IV. v. 78); but he is set as a star in the heavens toward which Cleopatra may now steer her course [90] .

That is to say, he too has been rendered distant, and safe, and so now mankind can afford to grant him the awe due a primitive god.

Because of his acts, he ironically* will become the immortal object of wonder and the subject of art [91] .

[* Italics the writer's]

Both of them are in fact repelled, exiled to new orbits, and the vision is cosmic.

Shakespeare at both ends of his drama is echoing the Apocalypse, xxi. 1-2: "And I sawe a new heaven, and a new earth ... And I John sawe the holie citie newe Jerusalem come downe from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride trimmed for her husband." Thus Cleopatra, who has been imaged forth in the play even as the great Whore of the Apocalypse, in the final portion of the play is portrayed as analogous to the "bride" of the great bridegroom, Christ, who indeed when he returns for the second time will usher in a new heaven, a new earth, and an eternity of love which is not diminished by illusion [92] .

We must remember first that, at the beginning of the play, Antony and Cleopatra had wanted to create their own private new heaven and new earth, 1.1.17, which would have benefited them alone, whereas now a new heaven and new earth have indeed been created for all of mankind - new stars, new planets, new directions - out of their diminution, and second, that Velikovsky has identified certain angels with comets, for now, when they no longer threaten earth, the lovers are made angelic.

The imperial spirit of Antony, generous and great, is placed at least in imagination among the angels. Mark Antony indeed will be remembered thus, for he has been miraculously converted into angelic substance as a result of the gnosis of Shakespeare's art [93] .

If we look at the process in celestial terms, trying to decipher what the human motives are behind this artistic transformation, we can see a transition from menace to safety. Antony and Cleopatra have been made to exchange dangerous mortality for safe immortality, a gangster's notoriety for a statesman's or benefactor's fame. This is the only kind of greatness they can be permitted, an abstract, disembodied magnitude, for greatness on earth proved too dangerous. It is true that they were tremendously influential on earth, both as human personages in a worldwide political battle and as Planetary personages in a cosmic battle, but they were also destructive, and so by proxy the planets for which Antony and Cleopatra stand are being punished through their human representatives, who are vilified and defeated, and then, like all scapegoats, trimmed like monarchs before their death and expulsion and subsequent glorification. It is a form of revenge upon the planetary powers, and a satisfying one too, for, by exhibiting desire but making morality triumph, it lets us experience vicariously and for a controlled time the secret desire to be as free-flying and destructive as the planets, but then, because we know that such behaviour is harmful, and therefore wrong, it lets a pair of scapegoats suffer for our brief wildness. The best of this experience applies to us, and the worst to Antony and Cleopatra, who carry our earthly evil away in their destruction and then have a distant celestial greatness conferred upon them for it.

I said at the outset that my paper is intended to be a beginning, not a body of rigidly-proved propositions, and so, in this last section, I wish to step back from the plays themselves and look at some of the larger implications of what I have just said.

First, let us explore the relation between individual and collective human nature. Not all psychologists accept the idea of a subconscious or unconscious, but, for the sake of this paper, I will assume that it exists. if we go further and accept Jung's concept of a collective unconscious, which he defines as a racially-inherited set of paradigms, of master plans for dream, myth and narrative, then it seems to me, pace Jung, that this must necessarily imply collective memories, transmission of collective knowledge, and thus a collective mind, which I take to be the sum or repository of man's noteworthy collective experiences. In the knowledge-assimilation process, it is the long-term storage sector.

Now, taking this assumption as a starting point, we then consider the possible effects of the Velikovskian cataclysms. If such horrible events have occurred - and indeed there appear to have been more than two instances - can we not imagine them causing collective traumas on each occasion, one reinforcing the other, burning their imprint onto the collective memory? Looking at mankind as a collectively traumatized being, we may then wonder what collective defense mechanisms man might erect so that the horrible memory of the catastrophes, the conscious realization of which would make our living unbearable, is suppressed. How would we bury the memories, and then, what collective neuroses or delusions would we produce in their stead to let us cope with existence?

Dr. Velikovsky has argued that, unconsciously, the result is a collective amnesia, which is the theme of this symposium, and he has also urged that, as a byproduct of this collective amnesia, most of our religion, myth and folklore are an unconscious attempt by man to sublimate repressed unbearable fact into conscious bearable illusion. The common purpose of these illusions, he says, which are produced universally, is to describe, and thus render friendly and controllable, that which would otherwise remain unknown and therefore apparently uncontrollable. Through them, an explanation is offered for everything' from the sparrow's fall to the largest disturbance. In this way, our fears are assuaged, for we feel we are placed in a benevolent relationship with forces which would otherwise appear too powerful for human influence. I then ask, can we not apply the same dictum to narrative art?

What I suggest is that, if we do possess unconscious collective memories of enormous natural catastrophes, then the collective function of the narrative artist may be to calm our fears by creating narratives in which the catastrophes may be let loose in disguise, examined in all their horror and then overcome. That is to say, just as, in a neurotic traumatized individual, some part of his mind creates the delusions which permit him to cope with his existence, so the artist, as a part of a collectively traumatized society, creates collective delusions for that society [94] .

Thus, it may be that the enduring artistic narrative endures, remains permanently relevant, because it provides a medium for expression and thus release of collective apprehension. It is a collective defense mechanism against enduring collective fears, and a comparison may be made with children's fairy tales. It seems to me that a chief function of these stories is to diminish a child's apprehensions about huge, uncontrollable forces, represented in the stories by a giant, bear, or wolf. The fairy tales actually speak of these huge figures, and make them playable, even defeatable. Without wanting to oversimplify great works of art, I suggest that they are in a sense adult fairy tales, and that they perform the same function at a more sophisticated level. They imply a rational and sometimes beneficent order in the huge and otherwise irrational universe. That may be why the enduring narratives of almost every human society are so similar in structure and intent - each collectively neurotic society, suffering from the same catastrophic trauma, must produce its own artistic delusions, tailored and adapted to individual circumstances, but of common, universal origin.

There is, however, a very significant difference between a traumatized individual and a traumatized society. When an individual appears to be psychotic, or neurotic, the aim of society is to cure him, to rid him of his excesses, so that he may become like other men. With a collective neurosis, however, there is no such aim, because the patient, society, is also the judge of acceptable behaviour, and a neurotic who thinks he can only survive behind his delusional defenses is hardly going to set out to cure himself. Instead, where the neurotic condition is communal throughout society, the creators of illusion for society are not eliminated, but honored and encouraged. That which is feared by a group in a neurotic individual is admired by the neurotic group in itself, and thus, the more an artist, as a member of a neurotic group, calms its fear with his fables, the more it applauds him.

I therefore wish to propose a new interpretation of what happens when man reacts to art. I suggest that it occurs at two levels, the second being caused by the first. The first level of response, of course, is conscious. It is intellectual and emotional, being the product of the artist's technical expertise in his metier, and the ideas, themes, feelings and suggestions which the work stimulates within us as a result of that expertise. The quality of both these factors determines how deeply we respond to the total work in a personal, conscious way, which I prefer to call aesthetic involvement. Virtually all literary criticism must restrict itself to this, as it has done since Aristotle.

It is only with the advent of psychological and anthropological criticism that we have considered looking beneath the surface, beneath the conscious, to try to discover whether there are subterranean reasons why man creates art, and why his fellow men are moved by it. I suggest, of course, that there are indeed such subterranean reasons, that we are moved by deep, unconscious factors, as I have just outlined, and therefore I feel that these produce a reaction to art rather different from the aesthetic involvement which I have described above. To distinguish what happens at a subterranean level, I shall call it racial involvement. Where aesthetic involvement is personal and conscious, racial involvement is collective and unconscious. The first is as old as one's age, the second is as old as the mind of man. I feel that, if a work is to affect us profoundly, then aesthetic involvement must occur first, or we are simply turned. off by a work's ineptitude; but, once we are gripped and involved and reacting aesthetically in a positive way to a great narrative, that is when a deeper level of response, racial involvement, is able to be awakened and called into play.

The element of the narrative which calls forth aesthetic involvement is its literary and dramatic excellence, as described above; that which calls forth racial involvement is the structure of the narrative, by which I mean the extent to which the catastrophic pattern and details are embedded or embodied in it. The closer this structure comes to the catastrophic events, the more powerfully will the work affect us at a subterranean level, because the real events have been fixed in our unconscious memories as part of our racial inheritance, and thus we will respond deeply, albeit unconsciously, to a narrative which contains them to a high degree. As a result, I feel that only when racial involvement occurs will a narrative endure as a human statement meaningful to other men in different times. It talks to the future because it tells of the past.

To be more precise, it is not simply the catastrophic parallels in a narrative which grip us, but, even more, the way in which the narrative is resolved. When it recalls the terrifying events of the past, but then moves to a unifying, harmonizing, stable conclusion, we accept and approve and applaud, for in such a narrative we have seen the racial fears exposed but then controlled, which means that we have not simply been reminded, but comforted. The fear has been brought forth only so that it can then be put away again in tranquility. It must be understood, however, that the artist who does this for us never has the slightest conscious inkling that this is what he is doing. if he did, he might never create at all. When he reproduces catastrophic patterns, in a process which no one yet understands, it all occurs at a level which, for want of a better term, I call unconscious, or pre-conscious, or transcendental, or instinctive.

Somehow, without his being aware of it, the great artist's creative faculty can tune into the wavelength of our racial memories to find there the grand schematic designs of his art. This is what makes him an enduring artist, for, when the design is there, we respond to it subconsciously because it is also racially in us. Only the artist can produce the pattern, but all men can respond to it.

Yet, there is a curious rider to this point. We are comforted by a great narrative, but we must never let ourselves consciously recognize that this has happened. We must act as if there were no anxiety, which needed comforting, and, therefore, as if such comforting could not have occurred. This is the ultimate in both having our cake and eating it - to use a great narrative to comfort our suppressed collective fears, and yet pretend there are no fears to be comforted. it is a game that we play with ourselves, so that we can endure the memories of the past. It is our way of feeling that we have the past - and thus the future - under control, and thus, when a certain work of art permits us to play this game as we want it played, we respond very positively. Yet neither side, creator nor receiver, knows that the game is being played; neither side consciously knows that such a game exists; but that is what is going on when a work of art remains meaningful to many generations of mankind - we are responding unconsciously to the catastrophic patterns and comforting resolution in it. It is a transaction between creator and receiver carried out entirely at an unconscious level.

In presenting this; theory of literary creativity and response, I am not breaking ground, for, in one sense, I am following a path first set entirely new ground out by the advocates of archetypal criticism. This approach centers first of all about the ideas of Carl G. Jung, and in particular his concepts of the collective unconscious or racial memory and the archetype in dream, myth and literature. To Jung, all three forms of expression are rooted in the same ground, the universal human psyche, and so

The great artist ... is the man who possesses "the primordial vision," a special sensitivity to archetypal patterns and a gift for speaking in primordial images, which enable him to transmit experiences of the "inner world" to the "outer world" through his art form [95] .

In trying to explain both literary inspiration and literary function, Jung decides that

..... the artist is "man" in a higher sense - "collective man" - and that "the work of the poet comes to meet the spiritual needs of the society in which he lives." [96]

A second major source has been the work of a group called the Cambridge Hellenists, who, early in this century, applied anthropological insights into myth and ritual to literature.

Their inspiration was Sir James G. Frazer's The Golden Bough, and it is from these two roots - social psychology and cultural anthropology - that archetypal and mythic criticism have grown, in such landmark works as Maud Bodkin's Archetypal Patterns in Poetry, Northrup Frye's Anatomy of Criticism and Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God. All of these people are concerned to discover the identity of the universal attraction in literature. For it is with the relationship of literary art to "some very deep chord" in human nature that mythological criticism deals. The mythic critic is concerned to seek out those mysterious artifacts built into certain literary "forms" which elicit, with almost uncanny force, dramatic and universal human reactions. He wishes to discover how it is that certain works of literature, usually those that have become, or promise to become, "classics," image a kind of reality to which readers give perennial response - while other works, seemingly as well constructed, and even some forms of reality, leave us cold [97] .

They, and all serious students of the topic, unanimously assert that myth is truth, powerful and meaningful, and that it is somehow magically alive in literature.

Concerning the origin of these archetypes, however, different schools of thought exist. For most traditional anthropologists, the images derive from natural phenomena, in particular the recurring seasonal and solar events, and are passed from generation to generation in ritual and myth. They are poetic, imaginative explanations of the world, inherited through cultural instruction and designed to promote fertility and thus life. For the Jungians, and, more recently, for anthropologists such as Claude Levi-Strauss, the archetypes are inherent in, or a product of the structure of, the human mind. Myth is therefore described as a sort of collective dream, built of universal, nonrational human components. As Jung says,

... these psychic instincts "are older than historical man ... have been ingrained since earliest times, and, eternally living, outlasting all generations, still make up the groundwork of the human psyche." [98]

Levi-Strauss seems to be arguing along the same line when he claims

We are not, therefore claiming to show how men think the myths, but rather how the myths think themselves out in men and without men's knowledge [99] .

It is here that I must part company with both schools, with the Frazerians because they derive myth and literature predominantly from vegetation cycles, and with the Jungians and Levi-Straussians because they are merely content to note that a tendency to produce archetypal images or patterns exists in the human mind, or psyche, and that such images or patterns exert a perennial and universal power over human imaginative response. They never seek to discover why our minds or our psyches, are set up in this manner. I feel, of course, that Dr. Velikovsky has shown us the answer, or at least one answer. if he's correct, then the archetypes are neither coded vegetation symbols nor natural manifestations of the constitution of the psyche or the brain, bur repressed memories of catastrophic events, which manifest themselves in disguise as the master elements in narrative art. for their continued power to affect us may emerge - they talk to us about our grandest conceptions, and comfort us about our deepest fears, fears we could not otherwise look at. Shakespeare is the most universal of narrative artists; his fables appeal to more men, in more different societies, from the most primitive to the most advanced, than any other body of created art. I have felt Or some years that this is partly because Shakespeare ' s works touch a number of universal chords, to which all men respond at a primitive, subconscious, almost instinctual level, but I have never been able to formulate with any satisfactory precision what those chords might be. Dr. Velikovsky may have supplied lied us with the answer.

Now, if this be true, the implications go much further. In an address to the symposium on his work herd at Lewis and Clark University in 1972, Dr. Velikovsky referred to his early detractors - whose names are justifiably dirtied by history - as 'guardians of the skies. ' I'm not sure what he meant, but the phrase has intrigued me. Guardians of what? Or rather, from what? From the truth, I suggest, and this is the next point I wish to make. I am proposing that such people, recognized authorities in their field at the time, astronomers in the main, were not as interested in seeking for truth as in preventing certain truths from becoming known, and that the way they sought to achieve this was by present' partial truth which omitted so much that the resulting distortion did not approach the whole truth, but was virtually an untruth. In pretending to reveal, their intention was to conceal, and, most important, I suggest that all of this happened at a subconscious level. They did not consciously know why they behaved in this way.

To grasp why they may have done this, we must compare these guardians of the skies to a psychotic or neurotic who has constructed successful delusional strategies against reality because he has no desire to face reality truthfully. He must therefore reject tune out, even attack, whatever conflicts with his delusions. In classical psychiatry, I am told, one of the most delicate steps in the process of cure is the way in which the doctor communicates to his patient the actual causes of his disturbed behaviour. If this is not done successfully, the patient will react with hostility and reject the truth outright. If we accept that collective man has produced various delusional defenses against the fear engendered by the collective trauma, as I have argued earlier, then he obviously has little wish to have the trauma revealed. He will fight tenaciously to retain his world of delusion, to conceal reality from himself. He will hate those who try to show him otherwise, and he will fool himself into ignoring the truth whenever he happens to come close to it.

But man is a rational animal, even though part of him may be collectively disturbed, and so he must be very clever about fooling himself or he will see through the attempt. Furthermore, he will hate anyone violently who tries to show him what he is really doing. Now, it seems to me that the attacks upon Dr. Velikovsky have been basically irrational. An irrational act as I define it is one which appears to have no intelligent, reasoned motive, but seems to be performed upon deep inner emotional compulsion, against reason, and the attacks on Dr. Velikovsky seem to me to have been insanely compulsive. It is apparent that the normally intelligent and self-disciplined, even liberal people who suddenly became possessed by the fierce, total, unrelenting hatred which Dr. Velikovsky's ideas can provoke in certain cases were violating the most fundamental principles of order of their own professions. They were behaving like blindly hostile neurotics and never seemed to know it. In case after case the reaction was the same, as if all were suffering from a common madness, betraying their own selves.

The cause of this phenomenon, I suggest, is that these people were not acting as scientists, or academics, but as people, man, frightened and neurotic man unwilling to face the truth, trying desperately to keep it concealed from himself. I would thus label the hostility to Dr. Velikovsky not so much an irrational reaction as an unconscious reaction - against the truth which their own theories had kept safely hidden, but which Dr. Velikovsky's theories threatened to reveal.

I must emphasize again that these deeds, and the reasons for them, all originate subconsciously. Velikovsky's fanatical detractors did not and do not consciously know what they were doing, nor why, any more than a neurotic can recognize the basis of his hatred for the doctor who seeks to show him the truth about himself, but each type is nevertheless driven subconsciously to attack the truth in order to retain the lie which gives him comfort.

And so they attacked him, to try to kill his ideas before they spread, before enough susceptible people would be infected by his plague. Their common madness on this point, so unlike what these people otherwise were, suggests a common cause - that Dr. Velikovsky was about to let a terrible skeleton out of the closet, and they were rushing desperately to try to shut the door. It is as if there were an unwritten, unspoken and indeed unconscious taboo against dealing with the possibility of catastrophism, and thus celestial instability, and Dr. Velikovsky, who had broken it, must be destroyed.

That is why they are 'guardians of the skies. ' The astronomy and geology and biology which they had constructed was apparently true, but, being uniformitarian, it was only a partial truth, revealing enough to keep man happy, but concealing what man should not know.

The implications go further, for, if we consider man in this light - striving to erect what appear to be perfectly rational intellectual disciplines, but which are actually carefully-disguised half-truths designed to suppress the whole truth from himself - then all areas of human endeavour become suspect. Is science the supreme disinterested search for truth, or a principal weapon in the fight against truth? In the play Macbeth, the two victorious Scottish generals Macbeth and Banquo are accosted by the Witches and given tempting predictions, some of which instantly come true. Macbeth appears to be succumbing, and so Banquo warns him

But 'tis strange; And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's In deepest consequence.

Perhaps it is the same, for example, with Newton and Darwin, whose descriptions of the cosmos and life respectively appear to explain all, but may in fact only explain enough to keep us from suspecting there is anything more, winning us with trifles while betraying us indeed where the consequences are deepest. The pictures these men paint have a very pacifying effect. They tell us that the universe runs like a clock, and that life on earth has been developing in an equally bucolic way. There are occasional lapses from form, like comets or tempests, but these, we are told, are minor aberrations, hardly noticeable in the long run against the slow, steady clockwork of the cosmos. Are these men purveyors of truth, or 'guardians' of celestial and biological mechanics? Are scientists unconsciously structuring their discoveries, not to give us the truth about our world, but to foster the illusion that we control it? Is science a collective delusion too?

It may be that certain types of literary criticism function in the same way, for most criticism has been kept within safe bounds - character, plot, style, tone, theme, image, language - none of which will lead to the taboo question of catastrophism. It is perhaps not a coincidence that New or Formalist Criticism which is a desire to study a literary work in a vacuum, so to speak, has emerged in the last few decades coincident with our questioning of uniformitarian science. Formalist criticism looks at a work without reference to who wrote it, or when, or where, or what else he wrote, or what type it fits its into, or what else was being written at the time, or what traditions seem to have influenced the author, and so on. It may be that the closer we get to recognizing the truth about catastrophism, the more arduously has Formalist criticism tried to steer us onto purely aesthetic paths. I do not say it is wrong, any more than Newton or Darwin are wrong, but I do suggest that what Formalism excludes is more important than what it includes, and so the final picture which it offers is untrue. The Formalist critic may be the 'guardian of the fable. '

What I propose instead, in the realm of literary criticism, is a Velikovskian aesthetic, a full, multi-disciplined, completely honest approach to narrative art, and to drama in particular, the most public narrative art. Each instance must not continue to be judged exclusively as a private individual artifact, but, like war and government and myth, as a product of collective man in response to our collective nature and experiences; not simply in terms of what we consciously discover about what the author has consciously created, but in terms of unconscious collective motives which may drive artists to create and the unconscious collective ways in which we may respond to them.

This is becoming more acceptable in the social sciences, where we admit the possibility of unconscious motivation in various fields of human behaviour, but we are not as willing to allow unconscious motivation, much less unconscious collective motivation, in narrative art. The result is a very limited approach to literature and drama. To analyze a novel, for example, strictly in terms of its purely literary characteristics, may be to miss the forest for the trees. It is like an opera teacher analyzing the purely vocal quality of a person's scream for help. The novel is of course a privately fabricated work of art, but it may be other things as well - a product of a certain group or time or culture or race, a reaction to certain common events or conditions, a product of man bearing a relation to other different human products - and therefore it must be analyzed not simply by a literary approach, but by a nonliterary or superliterary approach as well, one which is based upon historical and scientific and cultural insights in addition to purely literary concerns. Like war and the generals, narrative art is too important to be left strictly to the professors of English.

When I say this, I do not mean to downgrade art, nor to imply that all examples, of good, bad or indifferent quality, are ultimately the same because they perform the same function. The work of art is one of the chief glories of mankind, one of the greatest products of the human spirit, but to say that, no matter how true, is to look at art in conscious aesthetic terms alone, to see it only with reference to deliberate artistic creativity and those standards relevant to that domain. What I have been discussing makes no attempt to undermine that type of approach, for narrative art can be many things at once, but rather tries to suggest that there may be other approaches, equally relevant ones, which see a work of art in different contexts. If art is judged as art, then questions of evaluation and interpretation are in order, for these are indeed some of the main functions of criticism. However, when art is considered anthropologically, as a human activity among other equally significant human activities, questions of relative artistic merit among different individual works are no longer relevant. Instead, one is concerned with the activity's function, its social purpose, to see what it can tell us about human nature, about what constitutes man. This sort of approach is neither better nor worse than the others, it is merely different, and equally legitimate. It does not seek to detract from one's enjoyment of, or admiration for, a great work of art, nor does it attempt to diminish the stature of created art. It rather hopes to enrich one's experience of the work itself by using the work as a key to gain insight into the nature of man. If we are indeed rational creatures, we must do no less.

Notes (Shakespeare and Veliovsky)

1. See, for instance, Man and his Symbols, ed. with introduction by Jung, Carl G., (Dell Publishing Co., 1964) pages 56-71.

2. All quotations and line numbers from A Midsummer Night's Dream refer to the Signet Classic Shakespeare edition, ed. Clemen, Wolfgang, (New American Library, New York, 1963).

3. "Collisions and Upheavals", Pensée 2( 2): 8-10 (May 1972). Publ. Student Academic Freedom Forum, Portland, Oregon.

4. Ibid.

5. Welsford, Enid, The Court Masque (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1927).

6. Young, David P., Something of Great Constancy: The Art of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1966) Page 95.

7. Ibid

8. Young, op cit., Page 29.

9. Ibid, Pages 76-81.

10. Barber, C. L., Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1959) Page 148.

11. Sewell, Elizabeth, The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1960) Pages 139-140).

12. Young, op cit., Page 153.

13. Ibid, Page 91.

14. Ibid, Page 90.

15. Ibid, Page 18

16. Barber, op cit, Pages 18-19.

17. Young, op cit, Page 20.

18. Frazer, J. G., The Golden Bough, Abridged edition (London, 1954) Pages 643 ff.

19. See, for example, Velikovsky, Immanuel, Worlds in Collision (Doubleday, 1950) Pages 305-311; (Pocket Books, 1977) Pages 309-315; (Abacus, 1972) Pages 292-299. All subsequent page references to Worlds in Collision will refer to these three editions.

20. In an interview recorded shortly before his death, the American folk singer Woody Guthrie related how, during a particularly severe dust storm in Texas at the time of the Depression, it once became so dark that daylight was virtually obliterated and the frightened farmers who had gathered in a flimsy shack feared that the world was about to end. He may have been speaking somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but truth may be conveyed in jest, and the folk connection between anomalous darkness and the fear of worldwide cataclysm seems to be universal.

21. See, for example, Juergens, Ralph, "Reconciling Celestial Mechanics and Velikovskian Catastrophism," Pensée, 2( 3) (Fall 1972) Pages 6-12

22. Worlds in Collision, Pages 259; 264; 251.

23. Worlds in Collision, Pages 160; 169; 161.

24. Young, op cit, Page 56.

25. All quotations and line numbers from Antony and Cleopatra refer to the Signet Classic edition, ed. Everett, Barbara, (New American Library, New York, 1964).

26. Antony and Cleopatra, ed. Everett, Barbara, lntroduction xxv.

27. Worlds in Collision, Pages 176; 184-185; 176.

28. Velikovsky, Immanuel, Earth in Upheaval (Doubleday, 1955) Pages 50-55; (Laurel Edition, 1968) Pages 56-61; (Abacus, 1973) Pages 46-51; (Pocket Books, 1977) Pages 46-61.

29. See, for example, Worlds in Collision, Pages 96-100 and 274-278; 110-114 and 274-278; 104-107 and 263-267.

30. Worlds in Collision, Pages 166 and 180-182; 175-176 and 188-191; 167 and 180-181.

31. Worlds in Collision, Pages 120-125; 132-137; 125-129.

32. Worlds in Collision, Pages 256-258; 261-264; 248-250.

33. Lee, Robin, Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra. Studies in English Literature (Edward Arnold, London, 1971).

34. Ibid, Page 10.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid, Page 13.

37. Ibid, Page 11.

38. Ibid

39. Ibid

40. Ibid, Page 29.

41. Ibid, Page 20.

42. Ibid, Page 21.

43. Ibid, Pages 30-31.

44. Ibid, Pages 31-32.

45. Ibid, Page 33.

46. Ibid, Page 34.

47. Ibid

48. Ibid, Page 35.

49. Ibid, Page 36.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid, Page 41.

52. Ibid, Page 36.

53. Ibid, Page 51.

54. Ibid, Page 52

55. Ibid, Page 56.

56. Antony and Cleopatra, Introduction xxxv.

57. Davidson, Clifford, 'Antony and Cleopatra': Circe, Venus and the Whore of Babylon. Unpublished manuscript, Chapter V1.

58. Davidson, op cit, Page 150.

59. Ibid, Pages 152-153.

60. Ibid, Page 155.

61. Ibid, Page 154.

62. Davidson, op cit, Pages 154-155.

63. Ibid, Page 155.

64. Ibid. Page 158

65. Ibid, Page 165.

66. Ibid

67. Ibid, Page 152.

68. Ibid.

69. De Grazia, Alfred, Unpublished manuscript. As well, these ideas are treated in Professor de Grazia's paper in this volume. "The Palaetiology of Fear and Memory."

70. Davidson, op cit, Page 151.

71. See de Grazia, Palaetiology of Fear and Memory, especially pages 42 and 43.

72. Davidson, op cit, Page 167.

73. Ibid

74. Ibid, Page 154.

75. Worlds in Collision, Pages 259; 264; 251.

76. Davidson, op cit, Page 154.

77. Ibid, Page 167.

78. Ibid, Page 168.

79. Public address at the Symposium Velikovsky and the Recent History of the Solar System, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, June 16-19, 1974.

80. Davidson, op cit, Page 168.

81. Ibid, Page 170.

82. Ibid, Page 156.

83. Ibid, Pages 156-157.

84. Ibid, Page 170.

85. Ibid, Page 171.

86. Ibid.

87. Ibid, Page 172

88. Ibid.

89. Ibid, Page 173.

90. Ibid. Page 172.

91. Ibid, Page 151.

92. Ibid, Page 174.

93. Ibid, Page 175.

94. For support of this concept from a different quarter, see Parry, Thomas Alan, "The New Science of Immanuel Velikovsky," Kronos 1( 1): 3-20 (Spring 1975). Parry explains the process of collective amnesia from a neuropsychological point of view. Recent discoveries concerning the nature and functions of the right hemisphere of the brain, he writes. support Dr. Velikovsky's holistic, intuitive, psychiatric approach to myth and religion. Parry's conjectures upon collective memory and forgetting also relate to de Grazia, op cit, and to the contention of this book that art is a sublimated retelling of terrible history.

95. Guerin, Wilfred L. et. al., A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature (Harper and Row, New York, 1966) Page 136.

96. Ibid.

97. Ibid., Page 116.

98. Ibid, Page 135.

99. Leach, Edmund, Levi-Strauss. Fontana Modern Masters (Fontana/ Collins, London, 1971) Page 51.


previous.gif     next.gif