Performing Prophecy: More Life on the Shakespearean Scene
Daniel Keegan, University of California Irvine
The Ghost and the Prophet
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 1 The stage has long played host to ghosts. A census of dramatic literature from Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Suzan-Lori Parks enumerates a sizeable community of specters. In the past two or three decades, this community, always a powerful theatrical force, has seen its theoretical importance multiply as theater and performance theory has seized upon the metaphor of the ghost and the haunting as the index of theatricality as such. This spectral metaphor—which, for a time, was rather more than a habit and only just shy of an orthodoxy—lent affective force to the practice of historicism and mobilized an ethical demand to remember the forgotten, the marginalized, and the subordinated. It has also, through its very force, come to determine and to circumscribe the parameters of analysis for Shakespearean theatricality.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 In particular, the ghost’s conceptual gravity suggests that, while a play has an active and complex past, its future is to be understood in terms of its documented and documented reception, both through its reception history and in contemporary scholarship. In what follows, I would like to expand the domain of theatrical futurity and potentiality through a wager on another theatrical citizen: the prophet. While we have had prophets and prophecies in and around the theater at least since the first messenger returned from Delphi, their potential as an analytic metaphor has been felt more keenly in the precincts of political philosophy than in those of performance theory. Drawing on the work of literary critic Paul Kottman and political theorist Bonnie Honig, I argue that the optic of the prophet allows us to reinterpret the theater less as a space of haunting and obligation and more as a space of plurality and potentiality—of what I will call more life on the scene.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 2 The aim of this analysis is to bring into focus the theatrical potentiality of collective life, especially that of the audience. It is not to effect a glib, temporal cancellation of the ghost: to understand the shift as a simple one from “memory” to “prediction” is to underestimate both prophet and ghost. If there is a single shift at work, it is in the population that is served by the analysis. Rather than seeking for the “forgotten but not gone,” this analysis seeks to bring into focus the “present but uncountable” multitude of more life. I hope that the attendant reconfiguration of our assumptive logic of performance, whether or not literal prophets are present, will provide a more pluralist, more politically progressive, and less mourning-centered analysis of theater. This reconfiguration furthermore entails a reinterpretation of the theatrical event: rather than thinking of theater as an ephemeral event–one that evaporates into the ghostly realm–we will think of theater as a speculative wager–an intervention into a dense scene of more life whose success depends both upon its skillfulness and, crucially, upon its attitude toward this more life.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 “Performing prophetically,” then, evokes an ethical attitude toward the multitude and toward the speculative, theatrical wager upon the multitude’s more life. In this essay, I develop an analysis of this prophetic performance through a reading of William Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s Henry VIII or All Is True. This play, whose political progressivism may be in question, develops a properly prophetic mode of performance, both within its Henrician representation and its Jacobean performance. First, the play stages the failure of the royalist rhetoric of perfectly-efficient performativity. The failure of this rhetoric is brought on by the confrontation between royal theater and criticism and the unruly, populist energies of more life on the scene, energies which are activated by more life‘s linguistic corollary, more signification. Out of the exigencies of this confrontation, the play develops a political and theatrical technology of patience. It is this technology that structures a properly prophetic performance: what I will describe, rephrasing Honig, as a strategy of living with and in the paradox of performance.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The move from royal performativity to populist and prophetic performance is, in Shakespeare and Fletcher’s play, accomplished between a pair of prophecies. The first of these, which dooms Buckingham, operates within and is interpreted according to a prophecy-fulfillment dynamic. This dynamic underpins our colloquial understanding of predictive prophecy: a prophetic utterance at once moment will be fulfilled at a later time. This dynamic is closely allied with royal performativity: in fact, royal performativity arises precisely out of an over-investment in the predictive power of performance, prophecy, and command. By the play’s second prophecy–Cranmer’s famous evocation of the reigns of Elizabeth and James–the prophecy-fulfillment dynamic is embedded within, even dispersed into, a more complex prophetic ecology. This prophetic ecology flourishes, as we shall see, as a consequence of the play’s encounter and negotiation with more life on the scene.
Prophecy and More Life on the Scene
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 I introduce the term more life on the scene in order to evoke and analyze the density of the theatrical event and, especially, the cacophonous and ultimately-uncountable presence of the audience: what the Prologue calls “the general throng, and sweat / Of thousand friends” (28-29). The term, furthermore, inherits an emphasis on political futurity in general and a productive resonance with the early modern meanings of “prophecy.”
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 More life on the scene combines Paul Kottman’s analysis of “the scene” and Bonnie Honig’s discussion of “more life” in order to create a figure of density, of confined co-presence. Kottman and Honig are each concerned with political futurity and each think about this futurity in terms that are explicitly (Kottman) or implicitly (Honig) theatrical. While Kottman and Honig arrive at a similar concern through the influence of, most notably, Hannah Arendt, they populate their futures in strikingly different ways. By negotiating between these populations, I develop a model for thinking about the density of the theatrical event, particularly insofar as it, through the function and force of the audience, produces political potentialities.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 any particular horizon of human interaction, inaugurated by the words and deeds of someone or some group, here and now, with the result that a singular relationship or web of relationships is brought into being, sustained, or altered among those on the scene.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 He goes on to insist that “a scene emerges only insofar as it immediately leaves behind the potentiality for a future, testimonial address between those who were on the scene.” Within the spatio-temporal horizon of the scene, “the contingent fragility of human relationships”—the basis of politics—is able to emerge. This fragility emerges in the tension between the human conditions of being-among-others and of being non-substitutable: a tension of “plural uniqueness.” For Kottman, as for Arendt, “politics is the affirmation of [the] human condition of plural uniqueness.” That is, attention to non-substitutability, to “who is speaking”—rather than to an “impersonal semantic order” of, for example, Henrician royal power—is the sine qua non of an authentic politics. Kottman, developing Arendt, shifts focus from the plural uniqueness of agents to the plural and proliferating uniqueness of relationships–of scenes.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 1 If the scene is predicated upon an anticipated address between the scenic participants, it seems incumbent upon us to ask what sort of scene and what sort of futurity is produced by the theatrical audience. This collective’s presence within the scenic horizon has been differently acknowledged and differently regulated in the course of theater history. Nonetheless, in any historical moment, we find in the audience an inevitable scenic participant whose complexity and multiplicity seems to thwart–or at least to trouble–our best attempts to grant it “uniqueness.” The complexity of this uniqueness does not reside only at the level of individual audience members, but penetrates the domain of relationships and specifically the relationship between the audience and the performance. We can imagine anecdotally this complicated uniqueness by thinking about the many different relations that audience members have toward a performance: attention, boredom, wondering when intermission will come, unwrapping candies, texting. It is precisely this complexity that royal performativity works to deny and that I propose to theorize by bringing into the scenic horizon what Bonnie Honig calls “more life.”
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Honig deploys the term “more life” in order to resist the notion that the relationship between politics and human life can be best understood through the relationship between law and the biological, species life of the human body–what Giorgio Agamben calls “bare life,” what she calls “mere life.” Honig’s “more life” operates primarily on two axes: the temporal and the sensual. More life is a principle of always-not-yet-ness and of persistent excess. These axes are evident as she writes,
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 In Classics, the term overliving [more life] applies to those who ought to have died but go on to more life. Survivance, survival, here means something like that overliving: it is a dividend—that surprise extra, the gift that exceeds rightful expectations, the surplus that exceeds causality.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 On its temporal axis, more life implies survival or continued life and is closely allied with the biological continuation of mere life. In this continuance, however, more life articulates demands–articulates itself as demand–and, thus acquires a temporal orientation towards the future through the “propulsive generative power of political action.” This aspect of demand is implicated in, yet exceeded by, more life’s sensual orientation, which arises from its linkage to the supra-necessitated, to gifts, to “dividends,” to pleasure.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 These axes of more life, temporal and sensual, are important to our understanding of theatrical overliving. On the temporal axis, the audience, through its physical commitment to a theatrical performance, keeps the time(s) of the performance in ways that exceed both the representational and performance times of the play. (Consider, for example, the audience member who is trying to devise post-theater plans or even to discern the appropriate moment to escape to the restroom. Their calculus involves the estimated time until intermission or curtain, their own bodily state, and, in the case of drinks plans, a furtive text message to an interlocutor entirely removed from theatrical temporalities.) On the sensual axis, on the other hand, we should include any pleasure (or displeasure) induced by the performance itself as well as other routes of pleasure. (The candy unwrapper may not simply be a small-time auditory insurgent: he or she may at the same time enjoy candy.)
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 The theatrical ecology of more life must also take into account the multiple potential identities and multiplicitous potential relationships into which any scenic participant, including the audience, may enter. In this regard, more life becomes a principle of population, not only in terms of the countable more of a large group, but in terms of the ultimately uncountable density of potential lives and identities within individual audience members, and, by extension, the exponentially denser and more complex set of relations within the theatrical collective. The analysis of theatrical more life puts front and center the difficulty–and, ultimately, the impossibility–of counting and addressing one’s audience.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 This difficulty of addressing one’s audience through a coherent, governing framework is what Honig, following William Connolly, calls the “paradox of politics.” This paradox names the logical and practical impossibility of addressing a group who one constitutes through that very address. Honig attempts to articulate a politics that lives in the paradox rather than resolving it. The wager and the risk of this strategy is that one must operate “as if [one is] already living in the world [one seeks] with [one’s] own action to bring into being” and which may never exist.
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 The paradox of politics–or, for us, the paradox of performance–names the fragility of the performative address that brings an individual or a group within the scenic horizon. This fragility, then, is a constitutive element of theatrical futurity: it identifies the ongoing, speculative negotiation that asks whether one’s scenic interlocutor is even, in fact, on the scene.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Honig understands the vicissitudes of this negotiation as oscillations between the people–a governed group brought into law either by education or force–and the multitude–the people’s “unruly ungovernable double” (3). We can see, already, how the oscillation between audience and multitude operates along similar lines. It should also be clear that the paradox of performance is symmetrical with regard to performers and spectators: the more lives of performers are equally implicated in the dynamics of the scene. The question, then, is how are we to respond to the theatrical density of more life on the scene?
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Honig finds in the paradox of politics not only an inevitability but also a resource: “the people who are part of sovereignty’s contellation are not a unity but are rather undecidably both people and multitude and this is not just a danger for democratic politics but also a resource.” Whether or not the paradox is a resource for the theater is, in one way, a matter of taste, in its most regulative sense. (This is, after all, why we insist you unwrap your candies before the lights go down.) That more life on the scene is a necessary, inevitable, and, indeed, constitutive part of the theater is, in my view, impossible to deny, though it is eminently possible to ignore or even to combat this fact. I will turn, in a moment, to an examination of the ways in which Shakespeare and Fletcher’s Henry VIII attempts to ignore and combat the paradoxes of politics and performance through an investment in royal performativity. Henry VIII and Henry VIII are, through encounters with more life forced to recalibrate their political and theatrical rhetorics. These recalibrations, which develop through the semantic vibrations of more signification, produce a political and theatrical technology of patience, which is deployed first as an elite prerogative, but which is then available in a more populist context as a speculative wager on a new political rhetoric.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Before proceeding to this reading, I want to make clear the connection between more life on the scene and early modern understandings of prophecy through a case study of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 14. This text represents Paul’s longest statement on the subject of prophecy and will help us illustrate some important principles of more life on the scene: the movement of more signification, the potential oscillation from spectator to actor, and the role of temporality in more life.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Prophecy has always invoked some idea of community, particularly a community of faith. Under the influence of 1 Corinthians 14, the word, during the Reformation, took on another sense: “The interpretation and expounding of the Bible” (OED 5b; first non-biblical citation in 1535) and came to mean “A meeting or debate held for the systematic exposition of scripture” (5a; 1577). In addition to this influence, the Pauline text stages a strong alliance between prophecy and more life on the scene.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 The powerful theatrical and political potentiality of prophecy is clear from a cursory reading of the chapter. To summarize, Paul’s concern in 1 Corinthians 14 is the capacity of intelligible speech to fashion community among believers. The chapter adjudicates a controversy over the relative value of “prophecy” with respect to the more spectacular (and, one surmises, more popular) “tongues.” Paul argues in favor of prophecy precisely on the grounds of its efficacy as address: “For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them . . . . But those who prophesy speak to people for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” The problem with tongues, by contrast, is radical opacity: “If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me” (11) and, as such, Paul insists that any tongues-speaking be accompanied by interpretation. While tongues introduce foreignness into the meetings, prophecy is able to introduce foreigners into the church, thus facilitating Paul’s project of “build[ing] up the church” (12)—of edification:
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare.So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (23-25)
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 1 The “unbeliever or inquirer”–or candy-unwrapper–moves from being an observer to being implicated in the prophetic scene to being, in fact, a prophet herself. She is a prophet insofar as she speaks to the people for their “strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” It is, after all, a concern over which spiritual gifts provide the most important index of God’s presence that is at stake in this Chapter. Paul’s inquirer answers the question twice, first by being “convicted” by prophets and then by prophesying God’s presence in response.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 2 The inquirer’s movement traces an arc from spectator to actor, which is one of the important principles of more life on the scene. It is, ultimately, the insistent, unkillable participation of spectators–both within and without the representation–in Henry VIII that demands the ethic of patience. The second important principle we can observe here is the principle of more signification. “Everyone[‘s] prophecying” is able to implicate the sins of the unbeliever within its circuits of meaning, quite apart, it would seem, from any intention on the part of the congregants. Their prophetic language inherently, automatically, intentionlessly travels through multiple circuits of audition. An improvisatory negotiation with more signification will propel the play’s genealogy of political technologies.
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 The final principle to observe in this passage is precisely the one we cannot observe at all: the principle of temporality. Paul’s description of prophecy entirely eliminates the element of prediction, insisting, instead, on the ambient potentiality of prophecy.  Paul’s prophetic temporality resonates strongly with the temporality of the paradox of politics. Honig is careful to insist that the paradox is not a problem that can be solved by origins or in the future, but is “a problem of everyday political practice” (3); furthermore, “Belief in a linear time sequence [a prerequisite for predictive prophecy] is invariably attended by belief that that sequence is either regressive (a Fall narrative) or progressive” (15). The Pauline analysis pushes us toward a non-linear–or, better, more-than-just linear–analysis of prophecy, performance, and patience. In the context of Henry VIII, it is, furthermore, the moment of time’s greatest confusion that gives us the fullest analysis of the paradox of performance.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 1 In 1 Corinthians 14, we gain an intimation of the potentialities of prophetic addresses as they move toward more life within the confined–but permeable–context of a scene. While we may be more ambivalent that Paul and the Corinthians about constituting a scene based on a prophecy of the divine, this scene stages the dramaturgy of popular prophecy. The political / prophetic utterance addresses itself toward the more life that makes up an audience / multitude and, furthermore, intimates in this address each individual’s capacity to enter, implicitly or explicitly, into new relationships and social configurations. (And let us not forget their capacity to enter into relationships with each other or with themselves.) The political / prophetic address thus calls attention to a density, both of humanity and within the human as they are able to enter into new relationships. The flexible, fluid temporalities of performance, prophecy, and politics are not yet in evidence at the beginning of Henry VIII where the police forces of the Prologue, Henry, and Wolsey function to produce a fantasy of a perfectly-efficient prophetic performativity.
Royal Theatricality and Buckingham’s Fall
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 At the beginning of Henry VIII, the prophetic ecology of more life on the scene is a fugitive, disruptive presence within a fantasy of royal performativity. This fantasy, first articulated by the Prologue, is, as we shall see, untenable in the dense scene of the theater.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 The Prologue, in its first line, invokes the rhetoric of linear time and declares the foundation of a new performance era (one which is, in large part, dedicated to exorcising the unruly ghosts of Samuel Rowley’s If You See Me, You Know Me.) “I come no more to make you laugh,” the Prologue begins, canceling comic obligations in favor of “things now” (1). In this new beginning, the Prologue attempts an anticipatory census of audience response and, in this enumeration, fashions for itself an audience of strictly-regulated potentialities. “Those that can pity” (5), “[s]uch as give / Their money out of hope they may believe” (7-8), and “[t]hose that come to see / Only a show or two” (9-10) will feel themselves satisfied and “their shilling” “richly” recompensed after “two short hours” (12-13).
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 These spectators are, in the Prologue’s account, far from the unruly, ungovernable multitude of more life. In return for their attendance on the scene, it is promised that they will “find” theatrical “truth” (9, 18). This truth–which is “our chosen truth” (18; emphasis added)–organizes the theatrical multitude as a theatrical people. This organizational move, which anticipates Wolsey’s political dramaturgy, subtends a fantasy of perfect affective efficiency: “Be sad,” the Prologue insists, “as we would make ye” (25). It also, again like Wolsey, produces an excess, unregulated population in need of management. Those who seek alternative truths (who may, for example, have preferred Rowley’s comic romp) are cast out of truth into deception:
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 The Prologue partitions and hierarchizes the mob of spectators. In doing so, it proposes a royalist interpretation of the play’s original title, All Is True, taking it to mean, more or less, that “All that we will show you here is true; disbelief will not be tolerated.” This interpretation turns the title from a constative utterance into a performative one which rigorously delimits the population of “All.” This maneuver precisely anticipates the political policing pursued by Woolsey and Henry in the play’s opening episode. Buckingham, whose expectations are (allegedly) misled by the prophecy of a “deceived” monk (1.2.179), is partitioned from more than a theatrical “All”: he is executed and divorced from the “All” of life. The royalist logic of truth–which is also its logic of theatrical criticism and of prophecy–admits no competitors. It fancies itself an absolute guarantor of its political and theatrical functioning. By the time of Cranmer’s prophecy, the royalist logic will have been forced to acknowledge and come to grips with the alternative, supplementary logic of more life, which cannot be fixed in a policeable “All.” Under this pressure, the title will have taken on a more pluralist sense: “All that appears is, in some way, true.”
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 The threat of unregulated, untruthful appearance–of more life on the scene–is, thus, the crisis (for Henry and Wolsey) of the play’s first movement. We have observed the Prologue’s unwillingness to tolerate alternate truths. This official insistence on the singularity of sovereign truth is reiterated and heightened in the spectacle of the play’s first scene: the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The Field completes an alliance—a sovereign singularity—between the French and English Kings as they “grew together” (1.1.10) into a “compounded” (12) unity that would outweigh “four thrones” (11). The mise en scène proceeds according to a utopian self-organization that provides a radically efficient visibility: “To the disposing of it nought rebell’d, / Order gave each thing view” (43-44). Norfolk’s ecstatic account of the Field seems precisely to obey the Prologue’s (fantasized) perfect performative.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 The crisis, however, is immediate. The first problem is that the Field is not the play’s first scene; rather, the first scene is Norfolk’s account, his alternative narrative, his performance criticism. This account is, furthermore, given at the request of the Duke of Buckingham, who, ominously and prophetically enough, fractured the “order” of the Field when “[a]n untimely ague” (4) prevented him from seeing the spectacle. He is, here, the figure of more life on the scene. He is the late, “untimely” spectator who shuffles to his seat after the moment of sovereign origin–of the play, of the alliance, of the candy-unwrapping rules–and who needs to be filled in on the events so far. His ague–feigned or not–marks him as Honig’s “overliver”: the unexpected and unaccounted for presence, the gift. He is, in Wolsey’s view, an unwelcome gift.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 Buckingham’s excessive, critical presence–his separation from the unity of the Field–leads directly to the revealation that the Field was, as they say, different at the origin. When Buckingham asks after the director of the “masque” (25) of alliance, he learns that the director–his enemy Wolsey–embodies a principle contrary to the theme of unity: as Norfolks says, he “promises no element [Foakes: part, share] / In such a business” (48-49). The seamless spectacle of alliance is recognized as pure (or, rather, impure) theater, distended into relations of production and criticism. The spectacle fails–as all spectacles do–to determine its critical reception. This failure anticipates its inability to guarantee its performative function: “The peace,” Norfolk says, “between the French and us not values / The cost that did conclude it” (88-89). Buckingham’s absence and his return as more life reveals the Field as a theatrical event, one which involves production (including budget), reception, and criticism.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 While the ungovernable theatrical potentials of more life are evident in the play’s first scene, they are not recognized by the dominant political apparatus: the performance policing of Henry and Wolsey. Buckingham’s overliving threatens the coherence of Wolsey’s theatrical vision and the Cardinal wastes no time employing the apparatus of theater to defend the fantasy of royal efficacy. He convenes a scene of performance criticism whose object is Buckingham’s reception of the “vain prophecy of Nicholas Henton” (1.2.147). Much as Wolsey’s staging of the Field is mediated for Buckingham (and the theater audience) by Norfolk’s account, so is Henton’s prophecy and Buckingham’s response to it mediated by the Duke’s accusor: his former surveyor. As we shall see in this discussion, the fantasy of royal performativity is predicated upon the exclusion of more life.
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 2 The goal of the surveyor’s account is, of course, to produce Buckingham as a threat and rival to the King. That he succeeds in doing so is in no way a result of his own rhetorical skill. In fact, his rhetoric seems to be infected by the forces of performance and of more life: his accusation is bloated by a twenty-line catalogue of the stage business, speech tags, and speech patterns of the auditors of the prophecy. The prophecy itself, the meat of the accusation, is only hewn out of the surveyor’s discourse at the last moment and is a tiny, rather banal text of prophetic prediction: “the duke / Shall govern England.” (170-1). In this tiny text, however, the Duke (allegedly) usurps the performative and prophetic prerogatives of the monarch: the power, as the Prologue puts it, to “make.”
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 4 Indeed, the content of the text is almost irrelevant. The text’s truth hardly goes uncontested: Katherine critiques the allegiances and incentives of the (fired) surveyor’s performance (171-176); even the surveyor calls into question the “truth” of the prophet’s message: “I told my lord the duke, by th’devil’s illusions / The monk might be deceived” (179; emphasis added). Buckingham is figured as the King’s rival as much because he can be the subject of a perfectly effective prophecy as because he may, factually, become the King of England. In order to understand him thus, however, we must precisely forget the twenty lines of bumbling stage business that went into producing the prophecy.
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 The threat of Buckingham’s efficacy is reiterated later in the scene. Consider the surveyor’s climactic performance: an imitation of Buckingham’s reception of the prophecy, theatrically bloated once again, this time with gestures and voices:
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 After “the duke his father,” with the “knife”,
He [Buckingham] stretch’d him, and with one hand on his dagger,
Another spread on’s breast, mounting his eyes
He did discharge a horrible oath, whose tenor
Was, were he evil us’d, he would outdo
His father by as much as a performance
Does an irresolute purpose.
King. There’s his period,
To sheath his knife in us! (203-210)
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 The interpretation Henry culls from this bombast is, absurdly, the Duke’s perfectly efficient conversion from rhetoric to act—from “period” to assassination. Once again, the optic of royal performativity hews away the overlife of performance in order to figure its enemy as a literal and symbolic threat.
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 These two exclusions of Buckingham’s more life may be attributed to characters within the representation: Wolsey’s stage management may insist that the surveyor get to the point, and Henry’s naïve (or cynical) spectatorship ignores the Marlovian bombast. I want to suggest, however, that the exclusionary operations of royal performativity are ambient within the representation. Consider the scene-chewing bombast that the surveyor attributes to Buckingham–in his depiction, if not his language. It seems to create a new Duke unrelated to the canny though passionate peer from the play’s first scene. Indeed, the dramaturgy of Buckingham seems precisely designed to fragment his character into shards of disarticulated life. His (reported) Marlovian treason co-exists, but, crucially, does not speak to, with his (reported) heroic legal argumentation (2.1.1-35), his (staged) considered objections to Wolsey (1.1), and his (staged) scaffold oration (2.1.55-136). These incommensurate modalities of Buckingham move in different registers of discourse, different modes of production, different rhetorical occasions, different styles of performance: they are never brought into conjunction in a configuration of more life. Buckingham’s legal facility never speaks to, for example, Katherine’s doubts about the surveyor. He is, instead, staged in a sequence of disarticulated modes, each precisely functional within its theatrical and political context. Buckingham is fragmented by the play and by the King just as the audience is fragmented by the Prologue. The theatrical rhetoric, once again, recapitulates the political rhetoric and Buckingham is, like the audience, unable to resist the performative demand. Be sad, as we would make ye be. Be dead, as we would make ye be.
Prophecy and Surrogation
¶ 44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 1 I am not trying to make a martyr of Buckingham, a villain of Wolsey, or a fool of Henry. I am demonstrating the ways in which the play’s royalist performance rhetoric demands the singularity of truth and of life–from the audience to a Duke–to the point where this rage for singularity enforces the disintegration–he would and will say “divorce”–of Buckingham into parts.
¶ 45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 This rage for singularity, furthermore, defines a particular economy of prophecy: one in which a particular individual (say, Buckingham) has a special relationship to a particular, singular future state (say, governing England). Because Henry’s imagined rhetoric of prophecy and performance is so invested in a singular relationship to future “found truths,” his only possible response to Buckingham’s alternative (and, for Henry, potentially radically effective) truth is to have the Duke put to death.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Henry’s understanding of prophecy is, furthermore, our colloquial interpretation of prophecy and, with a crucial modification, Shakespeare’s. That is, prophecy is a winnowing rhetoric which “look[s] into the seeds of time, / And say[s] which grains will grow, and which will not.” On this interpretation, it is clear how prophecy provides–or can be seen to provide–an oppositional resource to sovereign power, insofar as it identifies the defeated and dispossessed (or, perhaps, simply the ambitious) as its subject, promises them future glory, and solicits them to act upon this promise.
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 On the evidence of Buckingham’s fall, this solicitation is clearly a ruse. Indeed, the typical Shakespearean instance of prophetic fulfillment is the prophetic misfire. We recall, for example, the misfired prophecies of Shakespeare’s 2 Henry 6, 1 Henry 4, and, most famously, Macbeth. In each of these cases, the moment of a prophecy’s consummation unfolds as a bathetically failed audition for consummation. Henry IV’s predicted death in “Jerusalem” is revealed as a death in a room called “Jerusalem.” The legibility of prophecy is, in these instances, turned into a theatrical joke in which branches convert to forests and castles can be brought onstage with tavern signs.
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 These failed prophecies, then, turn on a dissolution of prophetic performative into theatrical performance. To these failed prophecies, we can add the doomed fantasies of perfect performatives offered by the Prologue, Wolsey, and Henry. The Prologue’s injunction to “[b]e sad, as we would make ye”–like Henry’s anxiety about Buckingham’s perfect, murderous conversion from rhetoric to act–imagines the capacity to make an audience–or oneself–into an image of one’s thought. This fantasy, as we have seen in the Field of the Cloth of Gold, dissolves on contact with the productive and critical relations of the theater.
¶ 49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 2 In theater and performance scholarship, the obvious court of appeal in this situation is Joseph Roach’s concept of “surrogation.” This extraordinarily influential term, which for a time, seemed to live all alone in the book and volume of Performance Studies, interprets performance as “the doomed search for originals by continuously auditioning stand-ins.” Performance, like Shakespearean prophecy, is nothing more than the iteration of disappointment. In Macbeth, for example, the prophetic fulfillments are auditioning for the role of fulfillments. This principle is most obvious in the climactic battle (oh, that wood; oh, that womb), but we can see it operating much earlier as Macbeth auditions “thus” for the role of “now.” Imagine this line given as a piece of direction to a struggling actor: “To be thus is nothing, / But to be safely thus” (3.1.47-49).
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 1 We have seen surrogation at work in Buckingham’s criticism on the Field’s audition for perfect efficacy. The Prologue, King, and Prelate dream of a perfect, unbroken, and impossible chain of auditions. The perfect performative of the royal imagination must come to grips with the theatrical condition that only imperfect addresses may be directed toward the multitudinous life–and signification–on the scene.
¶ 51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 1 While we can understand the collapse of royal performativity in terms of surrogation, the analytic model of more life on the scene helps us understand the new, improvisatory emergence of the political technology of patience. The crucial shift respects the observer’s relationship to the temporality of his or her scene. To put it schematically, surrogation regards the scene as a collation and collocation of memorial performances. More life on the scene, by contrast, examines the ways in which a set of scenic collocations produce potentialities for future address, even against the most fervent intentions of the scenic participants themselves. In Henry VIII, it is precisely these dynamics that induce the development of the ethic of patience.
More Signification and the Ethic of Patience
¶ 52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 Henry’s royalist rhetoric and the Prologue’s fantasy of efficient performativity both rely on the denial and exclusion of more life. This exclusion is not tenable within the theatrical ecology of more life. The Prologue, having insisted that the audience “be sad, as we would make ye,” continues its fantasy of performative efficacy in its smug, concluding rejoinder to the rabble:
¶ 54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 The Field of the Cloth of Gold is troubled by Buckingham’s appearance on the scene as more life. In the Prologue, by contrast, the crisis of efficacy emerges from the language of the prophecy itself. As we know from history, the performative comparison proposed here–the wedding–will be the play’s and Henry’s most troublesome and troubled. We will soon see a man who is able to weep–“to tremble / [in t]he region of [his] breast” (2.4.181-2)–upon–in the sense of on the subject of (OED 22)–his wedding day. The unmanageably multiple—and apparently unacknowledged—significances of “wedding” thwart the Prologue’s fantasy at the very moment it is proposed.
¶ 55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 This movement of more signification is crucial to the emergence on more life onto the scene of political and theatrical recognition. In Buckingham’s scaffold speech, we see such a dynamic functioning within and against the political economy of Henrician performativity.
¶ 56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 Buckingham’s more signification emerges, like the Prologue’s, from a historical doubleness of signification. On his way to the block, Buckingham asks his audience to
¶ 57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Go with me like good angels to my end,
And as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice
And lift my soul to heaven. (2.1.74-9)
¶ 58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Just as the Prologue undermines it own meaning by activating the historical associations between Henry and marriage, Buckingham is unfortunate that his Jacobean audience will find, in his dying prayer, an amusing anticipation of the theme of “divorce.” This anticipation precisely disrupts the rigorous operation of the royal performative. The Henrician performative finds itself comically doubled by its own political future. Buckingham, on the other hand, finds his request for the performative power of prayer preempted by an unwitting joke.
¶ 59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 1 Buckingham’s more signification, like the Prologue’s, activates the audience’s more life, though only in a limited, double sense: they are addressed both as Henrician onlookers and Jacobean spectators. It invokes the audience’s knowledge of the future (with respect to the action) significance of marriage and divorce in England’s economy of royal meaning; it may also provoke a vibration between schism-inducing divorce and Romish prayers for the dead. Whatever the meanings it produces, the crucial point is that more signification moves through and activates the circuits of more life.
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 In Buckingham’s speech and in the Prologue, more signification also functions in a promissory capacity: it anticipates a future (or alternative) scene of interlocution. At these moments of royal performativity, the uncontrolled, double signification of “wedding” and “divorce” promises something outside of the strict rigor of Henrician theatricality. At the limit, it does not matter what is promised, since the rhetoric precisely denies the truth-value of its deceived outside. It only matter that the terms produce whispered alternatives.
¶ 61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 The consummation of “divorce” does not wait long: later in the same scene, the new notion of divorce produces a new relationship between performance and truth. In a conversation between two Gentlemen, the whispered, theatrical circulation of more signification is replayed as the political circulation of slander:
¶ 63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 1. Gent. Yes, but it held not;
For when the king once heard it, out of anger
He sent command to the lord mayor straight
To stop the rumour, and allay those tongues
That durst disperse it.
¶ 65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 The strong relationship between “divorce” and “steel” is swiftly disarticulated. While rumors of divorce almost reap violence, this rigorous response cannot be pursued after the unauthorized truth of divorce is found. The identity between separation (from royal truth) and violence–which fragmented Buckingham’s character, culminating in his bodily decapitation–cannot be maintained by “command.” The shift from “divorce” as a technology of power to an object of policy is accomplished through the Second Gentleman’s shifting “it”s:
¶ 67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 While “it” begins as the slander of divorce, it ends as the project of divorce. In making this turn, as we shall see, Henry will commit himself to the maintenance (on a small scale) of more life and takes up the technology of more signification. In both these maneuvers, Henry finds a danger to and a resource for his politics.
The Ethic of Patience
¶ 68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 It is no coincidence that the Gentleman’s “it” is biologically figured both as “growing” and “fresh.” The more signification of the pronoun mimes Henry’s thorny political problems. The slander cannot be killed because it flourishes like a weed and the divorce cannot be accomplished by the divorce of steel because his wife, in this instance at least, is unkillable. Coupled to its biological modifiers, the pronoun also invokes the “fresh” Anne Henry desires and the “growing” royal pregnancy to which he aspires. To accomplish these goals through the old political technology would require Henry to pass beyond Solomon to the Eisteinian realm of pronoun fission.
¶ 69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 The injection of more life into Henrician politics is, thus, determined by political and grammatical exigency: Katherine is not as disposable as Buckingham; the it cannot be split. Henry’s crisis is emblematized in the ambiguous reference of “it.” Katherine’s crisis, similarly, is played out on the level of language as she is auditioned for a number of roles: no longer cast in her proper role as the “true and humble wife” (2.4.21; emphasis added), she is addressed by a sequence of half-effective, half-true terms–she is, as she says, “part of a housewife” (3.1.24)–as though the play along with Henry is searching for the right word with which to fix her new role. While Buckingham’s life was forcibly fragmented by the roles he was called upon to play, Katherine calls attention to the inadequacy of these terms through her presence.
¶ 70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 Katherine outlives–overlives?–her role as the true and humble wife. It is thus appropriate, as one who endures her status as more life, that she provides the terminology through which more life enters the Henrician political grammar of address. (If they could not find the word for her, she at least bequeaths them with a word.)
¶ 71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 It is Katherine who introduces the ethic of patience. Patience, evidently, runs precisely counter to the swiftness of royal performatives. Indeed, this technology is crucial in the aftermath of royal performativity as the disarticulation between address and reception is made manifest. (Making someone sad, that is, no longer makes them sad.) Two important points in this recognition are Katherine’s performance at the trial (2.4.11-131), which is, despite her excellent notices, of no effect whatsoever, and Wolsey’s realization, during the arc of his fall, that his fall was ordained from the moment the King met Anne (3.2.407-12). In each case, the truth of an performance fails to guarantee its reception. It is, thus, no surprise that the conjunction of Katherine and Wolsey fosters the ethic of patience. In the now-uncertain gap between performance and reception, a gap evident to them above others, an attitude of patience is required.
¶ 72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 The disarticulation between performance and review requires patience, but also creates the conditions in which more life can flourish. Of course, patience and more life are closely linked conceptually: the ongoing negotiations of the paradox of politics demand patience. In Henry VIII, it is the presentation of more life that incites the invention of patience. Upon learning of Wolsey’s death, Katherine says that she will “speak him, / And yet with charity” (4.2.32-33). Katherine’s charity, the mode of approach she once demanded from Buckingham’s trial, is harsh, and seems to gather head as she speaks, concluding that “I’ th’presence / He would say untruths, and be ever double / Both in his words and meaning” (37-39). Griffiths, her attendant, seems to take this last critique of Wolsey’s more signification as an ethical cue to be double by doubling back over the Cardinal’s eulogy and “speak[ing] his good” (47). This counter-eulogy memorializes an apolitical Wolsey and one who, arguably, does not appear in the play: a scholar, a philanthropist, and a founder of colleges. If doubleness is, for Katherine, Wolsey’s sin, for Griffiths it is strategy for memorializing the fullness of his life.
¶ 73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 This double eulogy is a profoundly new moment in the play. Where Buckingham’s more life was forcibly disintegrated and Katherine’s slipped through half-term after term, Wolsey’s eulogies (which precisely bring onstage a Wolsey who has been off-stage) are produced in the same performance register as stable rhetorical monuments. This double eulogy–for which patience is surely required on all parts–induces in Katherine an attitude of peace: she concludes, “peace be with him [Wolsey]” (75). We might suspect that Katherine’s “peace” with Wolsey precisely stages her desire to be better remembered after her death (indeed, to be granted a stable terminology for remembrance). After all, she “wish[es] no other herald” (69) than Griffiths. The heavenly “peace” that is with Wolsey is, furthermore, contrasted with Katherine’s experience of its earthly counterpart: “patience.”
¶ 75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 If “patience” is, as I have anticipated, a crucial term in the political technology of more life on the scene, it is not something that Katherine enjoys. Her “patience” seems like little more than a euphemism for suffering and, after her vision (83SD), we get a sense of Katherine’s impatience with patience and her desire for peace: “Spirits of peace, where are ye? are ye all gone? / And leave me here in wretchedness behind ye?” (83-84). Furthermore, Katherine’s prayer (“Patience, be near me still”) functions both as a wish and a command. This command is surely delivered with a certain impatience, especially when we consider the harsh treatment that, shortly hereafter, she will visit upon the Messenger who, in his own impatience to deliver his message, forgets his manners (99-105). Katherine’s “patience” mediates her relationship with death and the divine in an anticipatory temporal mode.
¶ 76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 While it is not yet appropriated as a political modality, “patience” emerges here in a moment of more signification. Patience is, at once, the earthly corollary to heavenly peace and the name of Katherine’s maid. Just as Buckingham’s “divorce” and the Prologue’s “wedding” vibrated between Henrician and Jacobean contexts, Katherine’s “patience” vibrates between the heavenly and earthly spheres.
¶ 77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 As I have suggested, such vibrations–from “wedding” to “Elizabeth” (5.4.9)–indicate terms with specific scenic destinies and potentialities. They seem to become their own scenic interlocutors, leaving behind a promissory trace of a future reuse and rearticulation. “Patience,” however, seems ill-suited for a political term. Insofar as it initiates a promissory futurity, this futurity is precisely a relationship to death (“I have not long to trouble thee.”). Patience, as Katherine articulates it, is precisely anti-political. It does not fashion a scene of interlocution. It is, thus, no coincidence that Katherine’s only moment of happiness during her patient endurance is her wordless experience of the vision.
¶ 78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 Patience’s anti-political aspect explains exactly Henry’s reason for appropriating it in order to fashion an elite political consensus. We might suspect that the King picks up on Katherine’s technology of patience in order to grant himself a measure of the scenic vibration between the earthly and the divine that is present in Katherine invocation of the term. Indeed, the scene in which the King’s patience is tested precisely stages his capacity to contain and negotiate sectarian differences.
¶ 79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Henry introduces patience into his political rhetoric when he advises Cranmer to “take / Your patience to you” (104-5) in dealing with the Archbishop’s Catholic enemies. In Cranmer’s first use of the term, it has clearly lost Katherine’s sense of longing for consummation, and is marked, instead, by the withdrawal of demand. Cranmer, waiting outside the door of the council, indicates that he will “attend with patience” (5.2.18). This withdrawal of demand is the only possible attitude toward the double-trial structure (more plot?) of the council scene. Cranmer is apparently on trial, but, from Henry’s point of view, Gardiner and his Catholic accomplices are in the dock. With these multiple, nested plots in play, patience must attend their consummation and unraveling; truth must be the daughter of time.
¶ 80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 If patience is intended to mediate this denouement, it is not intended to be the gap of time before the death of one of the participants. This intention to preserve more life is under threat as patience is stretched to its breaking point: Cranmer, shifting into less-than-patient rhetoric, tells Gardiner,
¶ 82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 In the Buckingham episode, such combative rhetoric would anticipate a zero-sum political outcome, with either execution or exile in the offing. Cromwell agrees, observing to Gardiner that “’tis a cruelty / To load a falling man” (110-11). In this sequence, however, the King contains the forces of frustration and of gravity. Rather than effecting an exclusion, he insists on a general reconciliation: “Once more my lord of Winchester [Gardiner], I charge you / Embrace and love this man [Cranmer]” (204-5). While the “true heart” (205) with which Gardiner claims to embrace Cranmer may seem, to an audience accustomed to Wolseyan political technology, only true enough, this level of truth is, apparently, sufficient to reconstitute Henry’s ministers as a “common voice” (209), as an All.
¶ 83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 In this scene, the technology of patience is fully constituted as an elite political prerogative, a strategy for protecting the more life of the nobility. This preservation is necessary because all of these lives are, in fact, becoming Henry. The “more lives” of Cranmer and Gardiner are, on Henry’s account, captured by the “more life” which is Henry himself, the “one above ‘em yet” (5.2.26)–an observation which is both political and theatrical, as Henry has watched the council from “a window above” (18SD). Henry’s metaphors for the reconciliation further position himself as the sublation of the competing political energies, as the all which organizes their (formerly?) competing truths:
¶ 85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 At this moment of royal apotheosis, it is helpful to reflect on our trajectory. The anti-political magnetism of patience has taken us a long way from pluralism and, for that matter, from the theater. This is precisely the point. Henry usurps Katherine’s rhetoric of patience because its vibration between earth and heaven accords seamlessly with a hierarchical political structure–just substitute “Henry” for “heaven.” We, thus, have an evacuated pluralism in which Henry always already contains the potentialities of the peers. If we check in with the trajectory of the title, “All” is no longer rigorously, performatively policed. “All” is, quite simply, Henry.
¶ 86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0 If pluralism is contained by Henry, he also tropes the audience as himself, attaining, through his station as “one above ’em yet” a prelude to his position “in heaven . . . To see what this child [Elizabeth] does” (5.4.67-8). Indeed, with Henry troping both actors and audience, we find ourselves in a royal fantasy in which everyone is replaced by the King himself. The density of more life on the scene is replaced by Henry on the scene, talking to himself.
¶ 87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 We may wish to argue, at this point, that the move from Buckingham’s prophecy to Cranmer’s is simply an improvement in the technology of royal fantasy. For a tenuous and fallible fantasy of a police state, we have substituted a fantasy in which everyone is the King and no policing is required. This is precisely the fantasy articulated in Cranmer’s prophecy, in which Henry imagines his self-sufficient propagation through history. The non-linear temporality of the paradox of performance is collated into the strict, linear time of the Tudor dynasty. This collation does not, in fact, take place. Or, insofar as it does, it does not succeed. On the contrary, Cranmer’s prophetic fantasy is superceded, through a confrontation with more life on the scene, by a paradoxical, properly prophetic performance.
Prophecy and the Paradox of Performance
¶ 88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 Of course, we need not seek far for guidance in a reading that complicates Cranmer’s prophecy. Thirty years of new historicism have, if they have done nothing else, mapped the archipelagos of subversion that crater the canon. Ivo Kamps and Anston Bosman have mapped the ironies of power in Henry VIII, especially with respect to Cranmer’s prophetic vision. Ian Munro, in a move away from subversion, notes the ways in which the play’s crowds evoke a London whose population “stands outside the old technologies of symbolic power.” These readers direct our attention to two pulsating sources of the play’s “more life”: Cranmer’s prophecy, which evokes sensual and temporal more-ness, and the crowd, which evokes the more-ness of multitude. While these sources of more life will propel my analysis of the paradox of performance, I would like to begin by pursuing Cranmer’s royalist fantasy to its limit.
¶ 89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 Political peace, an earthly image of the heavenly peace Katherine so desires, has, by the end of Act Five, been (apparently) fashioned through an elite logic of patience. Cranmer interrupts earthly peace with divine narrative:
¶ 91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 He asks earthly patience for his divinely-inspired speech. Then, in an echo of the Prologue, he insists on patience with respect to the truth value of his utterance: truth in history, as in the Prologue’s theater, must be found. Cranmer’s prophecy will require, for its Henrician auditors, a great deal more patience than the Prologue required of its Jacobean spectators: rather than two hours, they are expected to wait eighty years.
¶ 92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 This temporal largesse may appear, to any reader who is not an unreconstructed royalist, a piece of empty rhetoric. What patience is required for a prophecy that is, quite literally, the articulation of the King’s fantasy within his fantasy? The difference between the patience accorded Cranmer’s prophecy, in contrast to Buckingham’s, is perhaps only a consequence of prophecy’s proximity to power, or, better, its total containment within power. We might note, furthermore, that patience is irrelevant to the Jacobean audience, since the world Cranmer stages is the world in which they live. At the limit, then, the royal fantasy of the prophecy superimposes the representational scene, the King’s body, and the Jacobean theater in a vision of perfect historical continuity and plenitude. Interlocution is no longer necessary because our scenic future is already here.
¶ 95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 This simile is an absolutist image. It, simultaneously, invokes royal spectacle and anticipates Henry’s post-mortem panopticism. (Henry: “[W]hen I am in heaven I shall desire / To see what this child does” (5.4.67-8).) It echoes, furthermore, Wolsey’s description of Henry as “That sun I pray may never set” (3.2.415). The image of the sun standing still is from Joshua 10.12-14, when Joshua asks the Lord to make the sun stand still over Gideon. These connections intensify the power invoked in Cranmer’s image. The biblical passage was a critical peg for Calvin’s arguments for the thoroughgoing nature of God’s omniscience: that “omnipotence [. . .] is [not] only a general principle of confused motion [. . .] but one that is directed toward individual and particular motions,” an omniscience which James and Henry both imitate and seek to inherit. Furthermore, Joshua 10.14 indicates that “[t]here has never been a day like it before or since,” a claim which, of all things, Britain’s royal line denies, at least in a metaphorical register. The Tudor-Stuart dynasties partake, in Cranmer’s analysis, in a whole history of incomparable but identical days.
¶ 96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 Stasis recurs in Cranmer’s pastoral imagery, where he returns to the Prologue’s sociological strategy of ordering, one which offers patience and more life to the people in exchange for political quiescence. This analysis cancels the political potential of the audience precisely by, as the Prologue attempted, counting them too well. Counting too well intercepts the always-excessive, always-not-yet “more life.” Cranmer constructs this census in terms of a radical rural emplacement:
¶ 97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 her own shall bless her;
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn
And hang their heads with sorrow: good grows with her;
In her days every man shall eat in safety
Under his own vine what he plants, and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbors. (5.4.30-35)
¶ 98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 This Field of the Corn of Gold, in which “Order(s) give every thing its place,” emphasizes the sensual aspects of Elizabethan “more life” while militating a radical self-similarity in group membership, political potential, and even physical movement. Even military adventurism is figured in terms of a seasonal cycle as the famous lines on “eating in safety” consume the military-agricultural metaphor that precedes it: the pastoral harvest substitutes for the more evident uncertainties of military adventurism.
¶ 99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 2 Cranmer’s prophecy scripts political stability through spatio-temporal stasis guaranteed by the perfect, perfectly substitutable relationship between Henry and his successors. (Elizabeth is “as like [Henry] / As cherry is to cherry” (5.1.167-8).) The violence of royal performativity is replaced by the pastoral torpor of royal inheritance. The violence of Henry’s response to Buckingham’s rival prophecy is converted, at the end, into a prophecy that, through its rhetoric, seeks to saturate the scene with scenes and call a halt to time itself. How are we to dissolve this monumental fantasy into a paradox of performance? To return, at the end, to If our analysis thus far is any guide, we will want to examine the play’s final movement for more life–or more signification–on the scene, particularly, in this instance, with respect to their implication in time.
¶ 100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 If we attempt to understand Cranmer’s speech in terms of its historical more signification, we immediately encounter a striking fact: the speech, in a thoroughly sourced play, is “not owed to the chronicles” (5.4n). Cranmer’s speech, while it certainly addresses the historical awareness of certain audience members, is also provocatively part of that class of prophecy that Francis Bacon describes as “infinite in number [and] impostures . . . by idle and crafty brains merely contrived and feigned after the event past.”
¶ 101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 The prophecy, then, is situated both rhetorically and textually as a teleological appendix. In this regard, then, it is particularly interesting to note the dynastic elisions at work in the speech. I would go so far as to suggest that Cranmer’s prophecy is, in one significant sense, allied to Buckingham’s prophecy in that both prophecies chart an unofficial route of royal bequeathal. Henry, after all, wanted a boy. When Henry is informed that the queen has delivered:
¶ 104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 Henry’s power, which can marshal the more life of his ministers to peace, finds its limit at this threshold of life and sex difference—he commands, for a moment, the Old Lady’s words, not life as such. Cranmer’s speech, in rather more detail, is on the same theme as the (under-tipped and underappreciated) Lady’s: what “[t]his royal infant . . . now promises” (17-18). In this dense, psychosexual thicket of anticipations, Cranmer’s promises works quickly to foreclose the promised boys: Elizabeth’s brother, Edward VI, died too young to make it into the prophecy. Edward is not the only promised and promising prince who dies young: James I’s son, Henry, Prince of Wales “died suggenly and unexpectedly, in November 1612, producing overwhelming public grief.”
¶ 105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 To read thus, as provocative as it may be, is to commit ourselves to an analysis of mourning, when the most powerful confrontation with Cranmer’s prophecy is made by the play’s great figure of more life: the christening crowd. This unruly, ungovernable multitude is brought onto the scene and addressed as the theater audience. It is in this crowd that we find the circuits of more signification in which Cranmer’s imagery circulates or from which it takes its cue.
¶ 106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 Let us consider Cranmer’s astrological claims. The claim to a radical, Bible-surpassing stasis-within-inheritance inverts another tradition concerning the relationship between regime change and celestial bodies. This tradition believes that, among other celestial bodies, comets, “importing change of times and states,” “blaze forth the death of princes.” No prince dies within All is True—their ghostly presences are, as we have seen, tacitly elided—but the rhetoric of comets, nevertheless, emerges in the Porter’s Man’s description of the unruly christening crowd:
¶ 107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 [T]here is a fellow somewhat near the door, he should be a brazier by his face, for o’ my conscience twenty of the dog-days now reign in’s nose; [. . .] [T]hat fire-drake did I hit three times on the head, and three times with his nose discharg’d against me; he stands there like a mortar-piece to blow us. There was a haberdasher’s wife of small wit near him, that rail’d upon me till her pink porringer fell off her head, for kindling such a combustion in the state. I miss’d the meteor once, and hit that woman. (5.3.38-49; emphases added)
¶ 108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 This crowd has arrogated and staged, through the Porter’s Man’s theatrical criticism, a rival rhetoric of political cosmography, one which precisely invokes a “combustion in the state.” This is, in fact, hardly a rival rhetoric. It is a prior rhetoric, in the narrative of the play, against which Cranmer must measure himself and from which he must take his cue; at the same time, the crowd, even without Cranmer, is clearly usurping a cosmography pointing to the change of states. The paradoxical presence of more life, hailed through a powerful yet inadequate cosmic rhetoric, invokes the principles we observed in Paul: the vibration from spectator to actor, the circuitry of more signification, and the flexible temporality of the paradox of performance.
¶ 109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 The crowd itself is, in its insistent presence, the primary engine of the paradox of performance. Cranmer’s image of a Field of the Corn of Gold is already a fiction in the play’s Henrician London and stands in ironic relation to the urban multitude that populated the Jacobean theater. As Munro notes, this crowd is an image of more life, both literally and in its enthusiasms:
¶ 110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 The problem with the crowds in the coronation and christening scenes is not that they are subversive but that they are too much: they offer more joy, more loyalty than is needed or desired.
¶ 111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 If this crowd is, as Munro argues, not subversive, it is also something more than “outside the old technologies of symbolic power.” It is borrowing, for its own, inchoate purposes, the rhetoric of royal power, and, through its narrative priority, forcing the royal rhetoric to circulate within their milieu of signification. Through their preemptive usurpation of Cranmer’s imagery, they infect his prophecy with the vibration of more signification. Cranmer’s speech, thus, inverts the temporal pattern of more signification that Buckingham and the Prologue introduce. Rather than producing a doubleness that opens into multiple meanings, Cranmer’s speech aims to foreclose upon the unruly energies of the more life. While Cranmer attempted to coordinate all elements of the performance space in an image of spatio-temporal stasis–a coordination fixed by the sublating body of Henry and his heirs–the more life of the audience insists on a multitemporal negotiation between the multiple components of the performance.
¶ 112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 2 The crowd’s usurpation of monarchal prerogatives is excluded from Henry and Cranmer’s field of vision. Indeed, we might say that Henry’s (anti-)politics of patience precisely provides the occasion for the multitude to produce its own political imageries. And yet, if this is so, why have we gone to such great lengths to trace the emergence of an ethic of patience? Because, we should ask, to what extent is the crowd’s excessive political potentiality of the crowd treated with patience? The Porter and his Man, while they employ the rhetoric of violence and execution, employ it in a parodic mode. The Porter’s refrain of “be hanged” (5, 16) recalls the imperative of execution from Act One, but resignifies it, through repetition, as something other than an absolute imperative for death. Indeed, as the Porter notes, “An army cannot rule ’em” (75). The crowd, through the sheer excessiveness of its meer life, reprises Katherine’s patience-demanding unkillability.
¶ 113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 This scene–even as it proceeds with patience–is also a reward for patience, fulfilling, in the negative, the prophecy of the Prologue. The poor, “deceiv’d” rabble of the Prologue do, in fact, get their merry play, their noise of targets, and, if the costumers sorted things right, either the Porter or his Man in a “long motley coat guarded with yellow” (Prologue.16). Shakespeare and Fletcher have found a way to incorporate the more life of Samuel Rowley.
¶ 114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 Is the play’s conclusion simply an arc of ever-increasing incorporations? The principle of more signification has implicated the crowd in rhetorical negotiations of futurity, as they appropriate the astrological imagery of sovereignty and refuse to pipe peacefully in their cornfields. The principle of more life denies the possibility of “venturing at” the crowd as an archaism and impracticable. We have already observed that the crowd goes unacknowledged by Cranmer and Henry (though they appropriate freely from its store of imagery), but are they able to exclude the crowd from their field of vision? Such an exclusion would be the last stand in a royalist denial of more life.
¶ 115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 This spatial exclusion is, precisely, the occupation of the Porter and his Man. The crowd begins the scene in the tiring house, behind a set of doors. It is through these doors that the Porter and his Man retreat, shouting and cursing, as the scene begins. But even the tiring house doors—and the budgetary impossibility of staging an infinite crowd—cannot keep the christening crowd outside. Attempting to calm his master, the Porter’s Man says,
¶ 116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 Pray sir, be patient; ‘tis as much impossible
(Unless we sweep ‘em from the door with cannons)
To scatter ‘em, as to make ‘em sleep
On may-day morning, which will never be:
We may as well push against Paul’s as stir ‘em.
Porter. How got they in, and be hang’d? (10-15)
¶ 117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 1 In this piece of dialogue, Shakespeare and Fletcher have devised a rhetorically revolving stage. The scene begins with the Porter trading barbs with the crowd outside. As he begins to collect himself (and as he ignores his assistant), he notices, sometime before line 15, that there is, in fact, an enormous crowd in the space they have just entered: instead of putting a wall between themselves and the crowd, the stage has rotated 180 degrees and they are faced with the same crowd as before. The audience not only echoes the christening crowd, they are, in theatrical fact, the christening crowd, the audience for the prophecy (in two time zones, Henrician and Jacobean), and the witnesses to the fraught maneuvers of patience.
¶ 118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 The crowd restages and usurps Henry’s maneuver of complete politico-theatrical containment: they were outside the tiring house, now they are in the theater; they consumed the scene before the prophecy, and they will be there for the Epilogue. There is, for Henry and Cranmer, ultimately no escape from this audience of the present-and-future. The question, then, is what is this crowd’s destiny? At what point is its more life reconfigured in its promissory scene? There is, I suspect, the possibility that Shakespeare and Fletcher’s revolving stage is, as has often been suspected of spectacle, a politically anesthetizing move. After all, the ungovernable multitude outside the tiring house is converted into the (relatively) manageable audience inside the Globe, or, at least, that is the wager. But, then again, perhaps we ought to read from within the paradox of performance: why should the audience inside the Globe succeed the multitude? After all, they were there first. We might equally read the revolving stage as the lamination of the multitude–with their magician’s cloak of stars and comets–onto the quiescent audience. The answer is undecidable.
¶ 119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 Perhaps, since we are near the moment when communal potentiality must give way to reception and criticism, the best that we can say is that the audience has had its moment–or been teased with a moment–at the symbolic controls of monarchy and the cosmos itself. Whether or not they choose to retake these symbolic controls–to fashion this performance into a scene–they have been inducted into the critical and political force of their own material multiplicity. The logic of their presence, of their more life on the scene, insists that the final arbiter of the play’s truth claims will be, as the Epilogue says, “All that are here.”
¶ 120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 The political potentialities of more life on the scene are, ultimately, unconsummated within the representation: because Henry and Cranmer do not offer a scene of interlocution (since the prophecy is, in fact, Henry speaking to a multitude of himself), there is, ultimately, no political consummation, insofar as such a thing exists. The Epilogue, on the other hand, provides a recapitulative scene for the play’s theatrical analysis. The play not only, as we have seen, analyzes politics through the rubric of theater, it also examines its own theatricality. In this double analysis–dramatic and meta-dramatic—Henry VIII emphasizes the status of both politics and performances as wagers rather that sciences or, for that matter, hauntings or séances. To emphasize this element of the wager, I would point to the first two lines of this play’s epilogue. They begin:
¶ 122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 This line casts performance as a wager, a wager on an audience (and the hint of a lopsided election is not irrelevant). The line, furthermore, casts performance as a failed wager, a wager appropriate, perhaps, to the Age of Buckingham, when a man bet on an alternate history and, in the bargain, lost everything. But, brilliantly bestriding the linebreak, the Epilogue pauses for a breath and continues:
¶ 124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 The play’s failed wager—its lost life—is converted into a canny estimate of demography. The attempted inclusion of all comers—even the deceived—into the space of the play’s truth—the criteria of the Prologue—has not been accomplished. The count of the audience and their desires is never perfect and never complete.
¶ 125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 The Epilogue has provides the play with a final interpretation of its original title: All That Are Here. This new title is the outcome of the play’s analysis of plurality, both in performance and in politics. The play, in its appeal to “all that are here,” shifts the criterion of performance truth from the access to elite performative to a certain plural performance of truth. We have seen how “All is true,” in its first interpretation, functions as a performative requiring the policing of participation in the “All” of politics and theater–to the point of fragmenting Buckingham. “All that are here,” even if this “All” is “never pleased,” proposes a more plural understanding of participation in the theatrical event. In fact, it is precisely because this All is never pleased–because it always escapes into an ungovernable multitude–that this All is more plural. If they were “All” pleased, we would have to seek out the exclusionary, truth-policing operation that was being performed.
¶ 126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 The Epilogue, for its part, tries to perform such an operation by appealing to the radically performative force of matrimony: the wife’s ability to enforce certain behaviors of her husband, “for ’tis ill hap / If they [husbands] holds when their ladies bid ’em clap” (13-14). Perhaps, in this moment, we are witnessing the triumph of an institutionalized stage, whose coup de theatre is precisely to solicit a unified response from the crowd the Henrician crown could not control. To think so, however, is precisely to cancel the more life of the multitudinous audience at precisely the moment they are about to emerge into their own, extra-theatrical multiplicity. Let us recall three things: first, not all of the audience members are married; second, the problem of marriage (and its efficacy) is central to the play; third, if the Porter’s description of the sexuality of the christening crowd is anything like accurate, the circuits of fidelity and impregnation running through the more life of the audience are anything but the straightforward relations upon which the Epilogue relies. The audience management strategy of the epilogue reactivates, even as it seeks to cancel, the fragility and political potential of more life on the scene.
¶ 127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 2 Of course, things usually go off without a hitch. Audience’s rarely riot. Theater’s rarely burst into flames. Perhaps it is mere coincidence–or, better, historical felicity–that the play in which I seek political potentiality actually did burn its theater to the ground. If this reading persuades, however, now may be an appropriate time to indulge in the more signification of fire and to script, if only ephemerally, a new Shakespearean conspiracy theory.
¶ 128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0  In theater and performance studies, major studies of ghosts and hauntings include Marvin Carlson, The Haunted Stage: The Theater as Memory Machine (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001), Joseph Roach. Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), Alice Rayner. Ghosts: Death’s Double and the Phenomena of Theater (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006). The Shakespeare studies equivalents include Stephen Greenblatt’s séances and, more recently, Jonathan Gil Harris’s identification of history’s fragrant presence in Macbeth (“The Smell of Macbeth,” Shakespeare Quarterly 58.4 (2007): 465-486). I share with W. B. Worthen’s attempts to disarticulate ideologies of text-haunted performance (i.e., “Texts, Tools, and Technologies of Performance: A Quip Modest, in Response to R. A. Foakes,” Shakespeare 2.2 (2006): 208-219) an interest in understanding performance, in its historical and contemporary instances, as something other than historicist scholarship.
¶ 129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 1  Jonathan Gil Harris’s Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2009) is an interesting example of this logic. Harris proposes to disrupt the “moment-state”–the sovereign historical time–of historicist criticism (3). Criticism, in his view, must recognize the multiple temporalities of objects–their “polychronicity” and “multitemporality” (3); that is, their “collation” of different moments and their different modes of temporal operation / experience, respectively. Even as he turns early modern objects into multitemporal assemblages, the potentialities of these theatrical objects do not appear. His main gesture towards futurity within these assemblages follows the reception model I identify above and speculates on what present-day politics can learn from a multitemporal criticism (see “Introduction: Pamlimpsested Time,” 1-26; esp. 23-6).
¶ 130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0  Progressive and queer performance studies has begun to pay attention to the future, particularly through the figure of “utopia.” See Jill Dolan’s Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater (Ann Arbor: The U of Michigan P, 2005) and José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: NYU P, 2009). Muñoz , for his part, is directly responding to the anti-relational argument of Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004). He argues that queer temporalities should be understood as politically productive alternatives to “straight time,” rather than time’s absence. My argument differs from Dolan’s and Muñoz’s in that it seeks to locate political potentialities in a historical period and in texts without and prior to progressive political projects.
¶ 131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0  The “forgotten but not gone”–that is, ghosts that leave embodied rather than discursive traces and obligations–are the object of Joseph Roach’s analysis in Cities of the Dead (3).
¶ 138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0  Kottman does not ignore the audience, but neither does he make it a central term in his analysis. It is on this groung that I would complicate, for example, Kottman’s reading of Hamlet. He understands the play as Horatio’s scene–“the time frame during which Horatio can potentially perform . . . an [eyewitness] address” (139). It is also, simultaneously, the audience’s scene. Shakespeare, at times, seems to go out of his way to disassociate these two scenes, specifically by referring to conversations between Hamlet and Horatio to which the audience is not privy (see, especially, 3.2 and 5.2). Whether or not crucial information is dispensed in these conversations, what is at stake for the audience is the experience of being off the scene. It is the play of this on/off dynamic that animates the asymmetry between Hamlet’s “silence” and Horatio’s speech “to the yet unknowing world,” an asymmetry which sources the experience of mourning in the play’s final passage.
¶ 142 Leave a comment on paragraph 142 0  Honig makes an identical point about politics and, as often, in beguilingly theatrical and, for that matter, prophetic terms. It is impossible, she notes, in Rousseau, to distinguish between the true lawgiver and the charlatan, between the true prophet and the false: “Just as the will of all [of the multitude] can masquerade as the general will [of the people], so too can the charlatan impersonate a true lawgiver” (22). In fact, there is never a final decision, only ongoing negotiation: “There is no getting a way from the need in a democracy for the people to decide–on which is the truly general will, whose perspective ought to count, who is a true prophet, what are the right conditions for their lives, which enduring institutions deserve to endure and which should be dismantled, which would-be leader to follow, whose judgments to take seriously, and so on” (23; emphasis added).
¶ 144 Leave a comment on paragraph 144 0  It perhaps goes without saying that, in Honig’s analysis, all political technologies are new, speculative, and provisional and must, furthermore, be recognized as such.
¶ 145 Leave a comment on paragraph 145 0  The notion of the “remnant,” a surviving fragment of a people, as the subject of prophecy is first developed in the messianic vision of Isaiah 11: 11-16. “And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand g again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the isles of the sea.” (11). The “remnant,” as a subject of anticipatory address, has strong affiliations with the “scene.”
¶ 146 Leave a comment on paragraph 146 0  The Writings of St. Paul: A Norton Critical Edition (2nd ed.), ed. Wayne A Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2007), 39-41.
¶ 148 Leave a comment on paragraph 148 0  The problem of foreignness is exactly what “tongues,” on Pentacost, were supposed to solve: “When they heard [tongues being spoken], a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?”” (Acts 2.6-8). I haven’t yet determined how this story is functioning in Paul’s polemic against tongues. While Acts is the later text, it is easy to imagine that the Corinthians are pathetically (in Paul’s view) trying to reenact the events of Pentacost. The longer I spend with Paul’s text, the more I sense an exquisite crankiness. I almost wonder whether the use of “prophecy” here isn’t a tactical rhetorical move designed to provide an acceptable alternative to the grating glossolalia.
¶ 149 Leave a comment on paragraph 149 0  It will be evident to what extent my analysis of Henry VIII resonates with and is influenced by Robert Weimann’s analysis of Renaissance performance in terms of locus and platea, which Erika T. Lin rearticulates in terms of a relationship between “representation” and “performance” (“Performance Practice and Theatrical Privilege: Rethinking Weimann’s Concepts of Locus and Platea,” New Theater Quarterly 22.3 (August 2006): 283-298). While I use both Weimann’s and Lin’s terms to gain analytic traction, my analysis, ultimately, inverts theirs. While Weimann and Lin regard locus and platea as strategies employed by characters, actors, and playwrights, I regard them less as strategies than as symptoms: necessary outgrowths of the theatrical condition of more life and more signification on the scene. As such, insofar as they are strategies, they are not hypostatized theatrical realms (Now I’m in locus! Now I’m in platea!), but the most systematized and identifiable nodes in a constant, improvisatory negotiation of the paradox of performance.
¶ 150 Leave a comment on paragraph 150 0  Prediction has never been coextensive with prophecy: not in the Old Testament, not in Paul, not in the reign of James I, not even today. It is, however, an element of prophecy that, though its spectacular successes, seems to draw the most attention (even from Shakespeare). Francis Bacon, in “Of Prophecies,” attributes this attention to “the nature of man, which coveteth divination [and] thinks it no peril to foretell that which indeed they do but collect” (Francis Bacon: The Oxford Authors. Brian Vickers, ed. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1996: 414).
¶ 151 Leave a comment on paragraph 151 0  Honig’s discussion here resonates strongly with Jacques Derrida’s discussion of the time “out of joint” in Specters of Marx. I prefer Honig’s discussion of temporality because it seems to evoke the material facticity of the theater. For a critique of Derrida on precisely these lines, see Richard Halpern’s “Impure History of Ghosts,” (Marxist Shakespeares, Jean E. Howard and Scott Cutler Shershow, eds. London and New York: Routledge, 2001: 31-52).
¶ 152 Leave a comment on paragraph 152 0  This caveat is important because, as Kottman’s analysis of the scene reminds us, some sense of pragmatic, promissory, linear futurity is, on some level, necessary for politics. At the limit, however, this promissory futurity can be evanescent, failed, improvised, or simply invented. Why should we not, in Joseph Roach’s terms, perform the invented “but not gone.” In a similar vein, it is worthwhile to remember that the political potentiality of the Henry VIII audience emerges because they are collectively on the scene, a situation which is, at the limit, also their condition as cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in to the scene.
¶ 153 Leave a comment on paragraph 153 0  Not, crucially, because performativity is somehow “hollow” in the theater, but, rather, because the trajectories of audition through the density of the audience refuse to consent to the singular meanings intended by Prologue, Prince, or Prelate.
¶ 154 Leave a comment on paragraph 154 0  The Prologue’s census here evokes Jacques Rancière’s analysis of sociology. Rancière posits sociology as a practice dedicated to fixing each individual in their place–also the aim, in his view, of all post-Platonic political philosophy. For his most detailed critique of sociology, see The Philosopher and His Poor (trans. Andrew Parker (ed.), Corinne Oster, and John Drury, Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2004 ), especially the chapter on Bourdieu and “The Sociologist King” (163-202).
¶ 155 Leave a comment on paragraph 155 0  Foakes glosses “deceiv’d” as “disappointed,” but the modern meaning was also available and, in the context of a discussion of truth, apposite. The term also, as we shall see, acquires this resonance in the course of the play (see, especially, 1.2.179).
¶ 156 Leave a comment on paragraph 156 0  This bombast, furthermore, represents a performance style with no obvious constituency in the Prologue. Its performed and unfashionable outlandishness was, perhaps, intended as “truth” to no one and, thus, intended precisely to highlight the naiveté of Henry’s critical apparatus.)
¶ 158 Leave a comment on paragraph 158 0  In Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France: 1975-1976 (New York: Picador, 2003), Michel Foucault identifies the “prophetic rupture” of a new mode of historiography. This new historiography is “articulated around the great biblical form of prophecy and promise” and “is a direct challenge to the history of sovereignty and kings” (71).
¶ 159 Leave a comment on paragraph 159 0  This is, converted into theatrical terms, is the key argument of the most thorough theorization of Shakespearean prophecy to date: Avraham Oz’s The Yoke of Love: Prophetic Riddles in The Merchant of Venice (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995). For Oz, the “subjects of tragedy are presented with some verbal formulation, or image, of “the future in the instant,” a puzzle, paradox, or task representing the riddle of history, to which they are challenged to commit themselves by an act of deliberate choice” (45). The prophetic riddle measures and enforces the theatrical distances of the subject and determines the time of the play as the working out (with greater or lesser success) of its problem. It is curious that the main examples, discussed above, of prophetic riddles that are both prophetic and riddles stage hackneyed jokes at the theater’s expense.
¶ 160 Leave a comment on paragraph 160 0  Buckingham’s situation is, in fact, more complex because of his different modalities and because his prophecy is not ironically fulfilled but, rather, forestalled by a competing performative: the King’s. Even so, if we recall the surveyor’s bloated rhetoric, the point holds that the relationship between prophecy and performance is figured as problematically, and even catastrophically, asymmetrical.
¶ 161 Leave a comment on paragraph 161 0  In Arendtian terms, the problem here is the irreducibility of action (the revelation of oneself into a world of relationships) to work (the fashioning of an object based on a mental image). Prophecy aspires to the efficacy of the later while remaining subject to the unpredictability of the former. A systematic development of the relationship between action and work in the theater is beyond the scope of this essay (for a critique of Arendt’s categories, see Halpern “Eclipse of Action: Hamlet and the Political Economy of Playing” Shakespeare Quarterly 59.4 (Winter 2008): 450-482.) The rhetoric of this relationship among performers is interesting. An musical theater actor once told me that he had “done a scene wrong” because he had gotten five laughs when he meant to get three, thus disrupting the timing of his song.
¶ 163 Leave a comment on paragraph 163 0  The difference between surrogation and more life is not, I would suggest, primarily at a conceptual level. Stripped of its rhetorical and methodological framework, Roach’s surrogation could be employed in many of the same way as I am emplying more life on the scene. The magnetism of Roach’s rhetoric (“doomed,” “failed”) and the Hamletic flavor of his methodology (lonely walks in crowds and through archives) figure surrogation as an act of solitary mourning. This act is, of course, precisely Roach’s political and ethical project: he wants to recover, remember, and mourn the “forgotten but not gone,” especially the forgotten but not gone of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This act of mourning has, at times, in its reception, determined theater history as a project of obsequious condolement. I am not saying we should not remember or that we should not mourn. I am only saying that there are other acts.
¶ 165 Leave a comment on paragraph 165 0  Henry himself describes her in terms that refuse to align exclusion with falsehood, deception, and death:That man I’th’world who shall report he hasA better wife, let him in nought be trustedFor speaking false in that. (2.4.132-4)
¶ 168 Leave a comment on paragraph 168 0  Truth, as they say, is the daughter of time. As Gordon McMullan explains, “[t]he veritas filia temporis iconography [a favorite of Elizabeth] has acquired a new lease of life at the time of the first production of Henry VIII” (“Introduction to Henry VIII,” King Henry VIII, London: Thomson Learning, 2000, 68).
¶ 169 Leave a comment on paragraph 169 0  The gap of patience is danger and a resource. Wolsey points to the danger when he says, “There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to, / That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, / More pangs and fears than wars of women have” (3.2.368-70).
¶ 170 Leave a comment on paragraph 170 0  A second, less persuasive criticism of this reading might note that the problems with which Henry has to deal have declined in importance: from treasonous assassination, to divorce, to squabbles among ministers. There is some truth to this argument, though one wonders at the fate of Gardiner in the Age of Buckingham. I would suggest, rather, that tectonic shifts in the political vocabulary of the three episodes produces, as much as it reflects, the shift from treason to political turf war.
¶ 172 Leave a comment on paragraph 172 0  Ivo Kamps, “Historiography and Legitimation in Henry VIII,” College English 58.2 (Feb. 1996): 192-215; Anston Bosman, “Truth and Sense in All Is True,” Shakespeare Quarterly 50.4 (Winter 1999): 459-476.
¶ 175 Leave a comment on paragraph 175 0  A problem formulated in political terms by Jacques Rancière. He argues, in Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy (trans. Julie Rose, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), that the “miscount” is the fundamental challenge of politics, and that the appearance, on the stage of politics, of the “part without a part”–a phrase that cannot help but evoke a theatrical audience–is the moment of democracy (1-21).
¶ 180 Leave a comment on paragraph 180 0  Foakes glosses: “[T]he days, usually reckoned as forty in number, preceding the rise of Sirius the Dog-star . . . and regarded as the hottest and most unwholesome in the year” (40n)
¶ 181 Leave a comment on paragraph 181 0  Foakes: “Malone cites Bulokar’s Expositor (1616), “Fire-drake. A fire sometimes seen flying in the night like a dragon”; it is equivalent to “meteor”” (42-3n).
¶ 183 Leave a comment on paragraph 183 0  “Bless me, what a fry of fornication is at door! On my Christian conscience this one christening will beget a thousand, here will be father, godfather, and all together.” (5.3.35-37).