chapter  1
10 Pages

Perpetuum Mobile: Shakespeare's Perpetual Renaissance

Like the Hamlet-machine, the whole of Shakespeare is a perpetuum mobile. The Hamlet-machine, and with it all of Shakespeare, hides a philosophy of history with a built-in spirit induced from Shakespeare's theater. Like all machines, the perpetuum mobile called Shakespeare runs by itself only inasmuch as it continually affirms itself. As a consequence, post-Romantic Shakespeare interpretation is imprinted with a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. No longer "our contemporary," Shakespeare has turned into the ghost of ancestors from a pre-history, which the myth of the modern has kept in store for us. This pre-history, which modernity wards off with the ghost of Shakespeare's stage, continues with undiminished violence. Shakespeare's continued Renaissance thrives upon a "strategic opacity," superbly thematized in Hamlet but implicitly at work all along.