The Poetry and the Drama
             MOTTO: Know you not that I must be about my mother's business

  • William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy details the logical
    structure of the philosophy in Shakespeare's 1609 Sonnets.

    Volume 1: Part 4; The logic of myth (64 book pages)

    The Institute for the Quaternary Evolution in Shakespearean Thought
    The Quaternary Institute
    Quaternary Institute & Quaternary Imprint



    The first edition of the 4 volume set William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy [2005] is still available.


    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005

           William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy (2005), is a four Volume slipcase set that presents the philosophy embedded by Shakespeare in his Sonnets of 1609.
           The four Volume set has been reissued in hardback and paperback editions (2018 to 2020) that are available individually through online publishing (see Quaternary Imprint).
           In addition, all 1760 pages of the four Volumes are now ready for viewing on the Quaternary Institute Website.

           VOLUME 1: The 560 pages of the first Volume explain Shakespeare's nature-based philosophy in detail, with Appendices and a Glossary that provide further analysis.
           VOLUME 2: The 372 pages of the second Volume provide commentaries on the 154 individual sonnets, and critiques the history of egregious emendations.
           VOLUME 3:The 488 pages of the third Volume selections provide commentaries on Shakespeare's four longer poems and five of the plays from the 1623 Folio.
           VOLUME 4: The 284 pages of the fourth Volume consider proto-quaternary thinkers and artists whose combined insights led to an understanding of Shakespeare's Sonnet philosophy, and then critiques ten thinkers who tried but failed to appreciate the nature-based Sonnet philosophy behind all thirty-six plays in the 1623 Folio.

    The logic of myth

    The principal components in the Sonnet philosophy have been considered in Parts 1 to 3. The derivation of sexual beings from nature in Part 1 led to the logical requirement for increase in Part 2 and then to the dynamic of truth and beauty in Part 3. The three components provide the logical foundation on which all forms of human understanding are based.
            The source for the components, and the relationships between the myriad of details presented in the preceding pages, has been the structure and numbering of the 1609 edition, Q. Because only Shakespeare could have put together such a precise and comprehensive presentation of his philosophy, the image emerges of a poet/playwright who went to extraordinary lengths to articulate the philosophy behind his life’s work.
            But Shakespeare not only articulated his philosophy in terms of Nature, the sovereign mistress, the Mistress and the Master Mistress, and truth and beauty. He also created the role of the Poet to represent his ability to understand and express the natural logic of human existence.
            By deliberately articulating the logical relation of human understanding to nature through the guise of the Poet, Shakespeare instituted a mythic level of expression. Shake-speares Sonnets represent the first coherent and consistent presentation of the logic of myth. (Since then only Marcel Duchamp has approached his achievement.)
            Typically a mythology recounts the origins of the world, the origins of humankind, the formation of female and male and the origins of language. A myth is expressed orally or in writing by a poet of seminal talent who is intuitively or consciously aware a myth is a story not to be taken literally. Myths recognise their speculative status by having their principal entities interact erotically rather than sexually. The erotic logic of myths indicates they are based on the sexual dynamic in nature. If a myth is believed to be true it is false and if it is understood to be false it is true.
            The inclusion of the Poet who understands the logical relation of human beings to nature gives the Sonnets the capacity to represent the logical conditions for any mythic expression. It provides the basis for critiquing mythologies. Previously, understanding expressed in the form of myth was mythological, or conditional on psychological or sociological priorities. Mythologies represented the gods and goddesses of a particular culture and were written more from intuition than from a coherent understanding of the relation of the human potential to nature.
            This Part examines the role of the Poet and the conditions for the mythic level of expression. It previews the idea that Shakespeare’s natural logic enables him to cut through the inconsistencies in beliefs based on traditional mythologies. In his Sonnets he sets out the logical conditions for human life within nature and for the possibility of a mythic level of expression free of traditional contradictions.
            Part 4 then examines the implications of accepting the priority of the female over the male in nature as the logical precondition for a consistent philosophy and for a mythic expression that adheres to the logic of truth and beauty. It compares the role of the female/male dynamic in Shakespeare’s plays and in traditional myths. Next it considers the role of feminine and masculine personae as the basis for mythic characterisation. Again instances are considered from the plays and from traditional myths.
            Central to Parts 1 to 3 of this volume was the distinction between the sexual and the erotic. Part 4 explains why the distinction is the logical basis for mythic expression, and how it affects conceptions of immortality. Then it considers the role of the Poet of the Sonnets as the one capable of giving mythic expression to natural logic. It recognises Shakespeare’s achievement in articulating the logical conditions for any mythic expression and sustaining a mythic level of writing over his lifetime.

    4.1     Shakespeare’s natural logic

    Shakespeare was aware of the difficulties philosophers had in formulating a consistent philosophy. In the Sonnets he not only demonstrates why such philosophers failed. He also provides the philosophy of humankind they were unable to deliver.
            Plato and Aristotle, for instance, produced opposing philosophies. Plato was responsible for an idealist ‘realism’ in which the ideal is real and everyday reality a shadow of the ideal, and Aristotle developed a more natural realism in which the forces and laws of nature were examined for an understanding of the human condition. Of their efforts, Aristotle’s nature philosophy has the greatest affinity with the natural logic of the Sonnets. (Shakespeare mentions Aristotle twice by name.) But both Plato and Aristotle failed to construct a logical system consistent with the basic requirement for human persistence in nature.
            As well as articulating the precise philosophic relationship between nature, human understanding and the function of the ideal as a sensation of the mind in the Sonnets that critiques the limitations of Plato and Aristotle, Shakespeare critiques the inconsistencies and contradictions in Bible-based beliefs. Some rank his 36 plays above the Bible for their profundity, intensity and capacity to capture the quiddity of life. There is a philosophic consistency in the plays that is unmatched by the biblical stories. While the plays operate at a level of the mythic associated with the great cultural myths of all ages, they do not appeal to fantastic mythical beings and places typical of most mythologies.
            Ironically, mythologies associated with systems of thought that misrepresent or contradict the natural dynamic by imagining beings prior to the universe or superior to natural kinds, still refer to those beings in human or similar terms. The use of the masculine pronoun ‘he’ to refer to a supernatural God is one of the more ironical consequences of traditional inconsistency at the mythological level of belief.
            Because Shakespeare articulates the logical conditions for any mythology in the Sonnets and because he forcefully criticises the blind belief in traditional mythologies, his works do not lend themselves to being institutionalised as a founding document for a nation state beholden to a male God, as has happened with the Bible over the last 3000 or so years. The natural logic of his philosophy precludes him writing a play that insists one of its characters is the son of such a God.
            Shakespeare’s characters are resolutely human and if he does introduce fantasy elements into the plays he leaves no doubt they are to be seen as such. Bottom’s ass-head in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jupiter’s descent during a dream in Cymbeline, and the living ‘statue’ of Hermione in The Winter’s Tale are examples of his deliberate use of pseudo-fantasy elements as dramatic devices.
            Shakespeare’s poems and plays break through beyond illogical beliefs in the priority of male Gods, and hence beyond the irony of believing in the eroticism of Judeo/Christian mythologies. Shakespeare’s philosophy requires no psychological buffer between human nature and nature. By basing his expression in natural logic he is able to articulate the logical conditions for myth in the Sonnets and demonstrate his command of the conditions by writing mythic plays and poems of great realism and imaginative power.

    4.2     The preconditions for mythic expression

    In the Sonnets Shakespeare presents the logical conditions that enable him to write plays at a mythic level. He presents a consistent philosophy, derived from the nature/female/male dynamic that ensures consistency in his mythic expression. To be able to write a consistent philosophy, and still be able to create works that operate at the mythic level, Shakespeare would have been completely conscious of the logical conditions for such a possibility. This awareness is apparent in the role of the Poet as the first-person presence throughout the Sonnets and in the numerous self-referential scenes about the art of writing and drama in the plays.
            Significantly, Shakespeare introduces the Poet in sonnet 10 rather than at the beginning of the set (all the other sonnet sequences of his time introduce the speaker in the first sonnet), and incorporates a deliberate acknowledgement of the role of Poet/philosopher in sonnets 15 to 19, the poetry and increase sonnets. Sonnets 15/16 mention the possibility of writing for the first time and the poetry and increase sonnets contextualise the possibility of writing in terms of the priority of the increase argument in sonnets 1 to 14 and the consequent truth and beauty dynamic in sonnets 20 to 154.
            In the Sonnets, which are mythic rather than mythological, the Poet does not work by intuition or inspiration but is fully conscious of the logical preconditions for myth. The logical relation between nature and the possibility of sexual beings, the increase dynamic and the possibility of understanding in terms of truth and beauty are the preconditions for a Poet to be able to write at the mythic level. Logical consistency at the mythic level would not occur without the Poet’s full comprehension of the logical preconditions for mythic expression.
            Because the preconditions express the logical relation between the nature/sexual dynamic and the possibility of understanding, the Poet appreciates that to write at a mythic level the logical influence of the sexual dynamic on understanding must be given expression. There can be no mythic expression if the influence of the sexual dynamic on understanding is not acknowledged. The influence is apparent in the logical distinction between the sexual and the erotic. Understanding the nature of the erotic in relation to the sexual is crucial to appreciating the conditions for the mythic and so appreciating the profoundness of Shakespeare’s achievement.
            The logical trail followed in this volume so far, from the natural universe of possibilities to the consequent derivation of human nature and the dynamic of human understanding, has necessarily considered the sexual logic basic to any expression. But it has not detailed its mythic implications. As the dynamic of human sexuality is central to the logic of the Sonnets (in that it derives from nature and is logically prior to the dynamic of truth and beauty) it follows that the influence of the female/male dynamic on the erotics of understanding should be basic to an understanding of mythic expression. The significance of the sexual/erotic dynamic is made clear in what follows.

    4.3     From the nature/female/male dynamic to the mythic

    The preamble indicated that the female/male dynamic, the feminine/ masculine dynamic, the logic of the sexual/erotic divide lead to an appreciation of the relationship between the Poet and his mythic verse. In the overall structure of the Sonnets Shakespeare deliberately positions the female and the male as the two logical elements that form the foundation, or precondition, for the expression of any mythic possibility. Their relationship is the precondition for any mythic expression. The logical structuring of the Sonnets out the sexual dynamic in nature provides the preconditions for the eroticism of a consistent mythic expression.
            Arising from the relation of the female and the male is the relation between the feminine and the masculine. The feminine and the masculine are secondary sexual characteristics basic to the psychology of the mind. The correct determination of the psychological status of these gender relationships ensures a mythic expression that is logically consistent.
            Combining the relation of the female and the male with that of the feminine and the masculine in terms of the sexual and the erotic establishes a distinction between the logical necessity of sexual persistence and the logical dynamic of truth and beauty. The sexual relates to the possibility of increase, and the erotic characterises the logical function of the mind and any product of the mind as non-sexual.
            The correct logical relationship between increase and truth and beauty in the Sonnets, has consequences for the idea of immortality. An appreciation of the logics of the sexual/erotic distinction leads to an understanding of immortality consistent with the continuation of human life through increase. Artifacts, or any product of the human mind including the idea of an immortal God, are constitutionally erotic.
            Critical to the possibility of mythic expression is the conscious understanding and ability of a person capable of giving it expression. In the Sonnets this is the function of the Poet. The Poet appreciates the logical relation between female and male, is aware of the psychological role of the feminine and the masculine, draws the logical distinction between the sexual and the erotic, understands the nature of immortality and, as the Poet, has the talent to express the relation effectively.
            Because Shakespeare articulates the logical relations between the above elements and demonstrates his understanding in all the poems and plays, it is possible to say the Sonnets express the logical conditions for any mythic expression of which his poems and plays are the only exemplary kind yet written.

    4.4     Standard definitions of the sexual and erotic

    Before the mythic dynamic is examined in detail it is instructive to consider typical definitions of the basic terms. The dictionary definitions of female and male are:

    Female     adj: of, pertaining to, or designating the sex that produces ova. noun: a member of the sex that produces ova.

    Male     adj: of, pertaining to, designating the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilising ova. noun: a human male or animal.

            In accordance with the distinction in the Sonnets that establishes the priority of the increase argument over the truth and beauty dynamic, the terms female and male relate to the sexual requirement for increase. The female is defined in terms of her capacity to produce ova and the male in terms of his capacity to produce spermatozoa. Significantly, the male is defined in terms of the female. These definitions are consistent with the logic of the Sonnets where the female (Mistress) is prior to the male (Master Mistress). The dictionary definitions of feminine and masculine are:

    Feminine    adj: of or belonging to the female sex, womanly, effeminate.

    Masculine     adj: of or pertaining to men or boys, manly, virile, mannish.

            This second pair of terms relates the feminine and the masculine to the secondary sexual characteristics of the female or male. In the Sonnets they are the secondary sexual characteristics of the body and their associated gender characteristics of the mind. The feminine and the masculine are not defined in terms of the requirement for the joining of the ova and spermatozoa. As secondary sexual characteristics of the body they logically influence the psychological constitution of the mind. In the logic of the Sonnets, the male and the female, with their role in the dynamic of biological necessity, are the fundamental aspects of human being. They determine the logical constitution of the mind in terms of truth and beauty.
            The distinction between the physical necessity of female and male and the psychological implications of feminine and masculine characteristics has its consequences in the uses of language. The logic of sexual differentiation into female and male is prior to the psychological classification into sexual types essential to gender distinctions. Gender divisions into categories such as feminine, masculine, or neuter, are based in the secondary sexual characteristics.
            Traditional religious belief has created a contradictory philosophy by prioritising the secondary or psychological characteristics. The classic gender misclassification is the prioritising of the male God in the biblical hierarchy. The male is prioritised for psychological reasons. The gender debate that this occasions has it source in the illogicality of the classification. To challenge the psychological prerogative for such a decision without referring back to the logic of physical necessity results in further illogicality. Shakespeare’s determination that the female is prior to the male establishes the correct logical relationship. The increase argument in Shakespeare’s Sonnets re-establishes the correct priority.
            A further set of terms is required to characterise the relationship at the mythic level between the female/male dynamic, and the feminine/ masculine dynamic. This is the distinction between the sexual and the erotic. The distinction is required to account for the different functions of the body and the mind. The biology of the sexual dynamic is the logical basis for the psychology of the erotic so it becomes the unexpressed given in the operations of the mind.

    Sex     noun: the sum of properties by which organisms are classified according to their reproductive functions. Either of two divisions, designated male and female of this classification. The condition or character of being male or female. The physiological, functional and psychological differences that distinguish the male and the female. The sexual urge or instinct or sexual desire as it manifests itself in behaviour. Sexual intercourse.

    Sexual     adj: pertaining to, affecting, or associated with sex, the sexes, or the sex organs and their functions. Of or pertaining to the desire or urge for physical contact and stimulation with another person that, typically, is satisfied by sexual intercourse. Having a sex or sexual organs.

    Erotic     adj: of, concerning, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire. Dominated by sexual love or desire.

            The sexual has to do with biological processes or procreation, while the erotic has to do with the desire generated in the mind through secondary sexual characteristics. In these definitions sex and sexual relate to the physical aspects of the biological process while the erotic relates to the psychological aspects.
            The italicised parts of the definitions relate to the female/male dynamic. In conformity with the traditional paradigm that illogically prioritises the male, the definitions put the male before the female.
            Shakespeare’s Sonnets recognise that the sexual is prior to the possibility of representing the sexual dynamic in a work of art, with the logical consequence that a work art cannot be sexual. A product of the mind can only be erotic or a function of desire. Accordingly, myth cannot represent the biology of the sexual process. The distinction is critical for the possibility of writing at the mythic level. All myths eroticise the sexual dynamic.

    4.5     The female and male as the premises for argument

    The arguments in the Sonnets are not arbitrary or academic. They are based on the natural logic that prioritises the sexual dynamic of female and male in nature. The nature/sexual dynamic is the basis for the logic of human understanding and hence of human expression.
            In the Sonnets the female as Mistress and the male as Master Mistress are the logical representatives of the sexual possibility. Their derivation from Nature (the sovereign mistress) establishes them as the logical base for argument in Shakespeare’s philosophy. They are structured precisely into the Sonnets because they are the logical basis for the possibility of language and so of the possibility of anything written by Shakespeare (or anyone else). Shakespeare differs from others, though, by adhering consistently to the logical basis of thought. For instance, the never absent sexual innuendo between his characters in the plays is consistent with the erotic logic of language generated by the relation of female and male.
            Shakespeare uses the logical foundation for the female and male out of nature as the ever present reference point from which he builds his complete philosophy. He acknowledges the sexual precondition for language in everything he writes. He interfuses the logic of the sexual dynamic for language with the argumentative and poetic interrelation between characters.
            The process begins in the 14 increase sonnets where he argues for the reunification of the male with the female. All the major themes of the Sonnets are introduced in the first 14 sonnets because the dynamic between the female and male is pivotal in natural logic. Love, judgment, truth and beauty, time, music, and other ideas are mentioned because they have their logical roots in nature and the possibility of increase. They are based in the possibility of increase so they can be consistently expounded in the remaining sonnets. The relationship of truth and beauty in sonnets 20 to 154 has its argumentative basis in the relationship of the female and the male established in the increase sonnets.
            The presence of both female and male in the Sonnets is self evident, and because the only other entities are the Poet and the Alien Poet, the role of the female and male as the principal entities has traditionally been accepted. The logical significance, though, of the role of the female and the male as the basis for argument has not been appreciated. Parts 1 to 3 of this volume have detailed the logical structuring into the Sonnets of the relation of female and male and its consequences for the dynamic of truth and beauty.

    4.6     The Sonnets as the template for the argument of the plays

    Because the philosophy of the Sonnets is the philosophy behind all Shakespeare’s longer poems and plays there should be evidence in the plays and poems for the claim that the female/male relationship is central to their meaning. The template for the argument of the plays is the presentation in the Sonnets of the logical entities, nature, the Poet, the Mistress, and the Master Mistress. The characters in each play are derivatives of the basic argument places in the Sonnets.
            As the initial distinction in the Sonnets is between the female and male it is to be expected that the major argumentative positions in the plays are those between the female and the male characters. Most plays acknowledge this explicitly while others take it as a given and demonstrate its consistency by presenting an argument based in the truth and beauty dynamic. Nature and the Poet, for their part, occur as argumentative positions in various forms in various plays.
            The plays in the 1623 Folio represent 36 ways in which to configure the basic argumentative relations. The philosophy of the Sonnets provides the philosophic underpinning for the plays. The logical relationship expressed in the Sonnets is the given out of which all the plays are written.
            In Love’s Labour’s Lost, for instance, whose plot is most likely Shakespeare’s, four females present to four males an argument consistent with the argument of the Sonnets. The fundamental role of the Sonnets in the expression of the philosophy that motivates the plays has not been appreciated because it has been impossible for commentators to accept that Shakespeare’s nature-based philosophy, eventually given definitive form in the Sonnets, was the source for Love’s Labour’s Lost.
            The Sonnets establish the logical conditions for any expression of truth and beauty so that even the content of sonnets lacking a direct mention of the Master Mistress and the Mistress is determined by the given of the logical templates. This is also evident in some of the plays, especially where the dynamic between female and male characters is not the centre piece of the plot as in some the history plays and a later play like Timon of Athens. But the dynamic of truth and beauty applied in such plays is based on the female/male dynamic developed in the Sonnets.

    4.7     The female and male in the argument of the plays

    Consistent with Shakespeare’s use of female and male characters to embody his philosophy in the Sonnets is the use of their logical relation to carry the argument in his plays. In the plays, as in the Sonnets, the characters are inseparable from the argument.
            The female parts and the male parts in the thirty-six plays from the 1623 Folio constitute the premises of a dialectic or dialogue that in the fourteen Comedies begins with the premises being in contradiction and ends with the premises in resolution or pointing blatantly at a resolution (the ten Histories and twelve Tragedies). The cathartic effect in the tragedies derives from this logical possibility. The deliberate use of the plays as philosophic arenas in which characters embody philosophic positions distinguishes Shakespeare’s plays from other plays.
            The witty exchanges between Orlando and Rosalind in As You Like It, between Cressida and the Greeks in Troylus and Cressida and between Ophelia and Hamlet in Hamlet are three examples of the logical relation between female and male characters and the erotic logic of language. Each of the exchanges is replete with erotic references and innuendo. Shakespeare does this not to be bawdy as some would have it, but because by so doing he evokes the logical basis and the myriad possibilities of language. By adhering to the erotic logic of language he makes the dialogue between his characters true to life.

    Rosalind: Why how now Orlando, where
    have you been all this while? you a lover? and you
    serve me such another trick, never come in my sight

    Orlando: My fair Rosalind, I come within an hour of my
    Rosalind: Break an hour’s promise in love? he that
    will divide a minute into a thousand parts, and break
    but a part of the thousand part of a minute in the affairs
    of love
    , it may be said of him that Cupid hath clapt
    him oth’ shoulder, but I’ll warrant him heart hole.

    Orlando: Pardon me dear Rosalind.
    Rosalind: Nay, and you be so tardy, come no more in my
    , as I had as lief be wooed of a Snail.
    Orlando: Of a Snail?
    Rosalind: I, of a Snail: for though he comes slowly, he
    carries his house on his head
    ; a better jointure I think
    than you make a woman: besides he brings his destiny
    with him.
    Orlando: What’s that?
    Rosalind: Why horns: which such as you are fain to be
    beholding to your wives for: but he comes armed in his
    fortune, and prevents the slander of his wife.

    Orlando: Virtue is no horn maker: and my Rosalind is
                                        (As You Like It 4.1.1953-77)

    Agamemnon: Is this the Lady Cressid?
    Diomedes: Even she.
    Agamemnon: Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet
    Nestor: Our General doth salute you with a kiss.
    Ulysses: Yet is the kindness but particular; t’were better
    she were kissed in general
    Nestor: And very courtly counsel: I’ll begin. So much
    for Nestor.
    Achilles: I’ll take the winter from your lips fair Lady.
    Achilles bids you welcome.
    Menelaus: I had a good argument for kissing once.
    Patroclus: But’s that no argument for kissing now;
    For thus popped Paris in his hardiment,
    And parted thus you and your argument.

    Ulysses: O deadly gall, and theme of all our scorns,
    For which we lose our heads, to gild his horns.

    Patroclus: The first was Menelaus’ kiss, this mine:
    Patroclus kisses you.
    Menelaus: Oh this is trim.
    Patroclus: Paris and I kiss evermore for him.
    Menelaus: I’ll have my kiss sir: Lady by your leave.
    Cressida: In kissing do you render, or receive.
    Patroclus: Both take and give.
    Cressida: I’ll make my match to live.
    The kiss you take is better than you give
    : therefore
    no kiss.
    Menelaus: I’ll give you boot, I’ll give you three for one.
    Cressida: You are an odd man, give even, or give none.
    Menelaus: An odd man Lady, every man is odd.
    Cressida: No, Paris is not; for you know tis true,
    That you are odd, and he is even with you.

    Menelaus: You fillip me a’th’head.
    Cressida: No, I’ll be sworn.
    Ulysses: It were no match, your nail against his horn:
    May I sweet Lady beg a kiss of you?
    Cressida: You may.
    Ulysses: I do desire it.
    Cressida: Why beg then?
    Ulysses: Why then for Venus’ sake, give me a kiss:
    When Helen is a maid again, and his

    Cressida: I am your debtor, claim it when tis due.
    Ulysses: Never’s my day, and then a kiss of you.
    Diomedes: Lady a word, I’ll bring you to your Father.
    Nestor: A woman of quick sense.
    Ulysses: Fie, fie, upon her:
    There’s a language in her eye, her cheek, her lip;
    Nay, her foot speaks, her wanton spirits look out
    At every joint, and motive of her body:
    Oh these encounters so glib of tongue,
    That give a coasting welcome ere it comes;
    And wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts,
    To every ticklish reader: set them down,
    For sluttish spoils of opportunity;
    And daughters of the game.

                                        (Troilus and Cressida 4.5.2567-620)

    Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your Lap?
    Ophelia: No my Lord.
    Hamlet: I mean, my Head upon your Lap?
    Ophelia: I my Lord.
    Hamlet: Do you think I meant Country matters?
    Ophelia: I think nothing, my Lord.
    Hamlet: That’s a fair thought to lie between Maid’s legs.
    Ophelia: What is my Lord?
    Hamlet: Nothing.
    Ophelia: You are merry, my Lord?
    Hamlet: Who I?
    Ophelia: I my Lord.
                                        (Hamlet 3.2.1966-77)

            That sex and argument are logically interdependent is particularly evident in the passage from Troylus and Cressida. The give and take in the exchange of ‘kisses’ between Cressida and the Greeks, and the give and take in the ‘argument’ is brilliantly intermixed. The logical interconnection between the language of the body and the language of the mind is caught in the pun by Nestor on the two meanings of ‘sense’, that of common sense and that of sensuousness. The dissertation by Ulysses confirms their interconnectedness by interrelating the features of the body with the logic of language.

    4.8     The parody in the plays of inconsistent argument

    Shakespeare not only demonstrates the logical relation between the sexual dynamic of female and male and the logic of language. He also examines the consequences when language does not adhere to its natural logic.
            It is well known that Shakespeare frequently stages a play within a play both to parody inferior play writing and to emphasise his dramatic presentation of ideas based in life. A similar technique, at the level of argument, is used in some plays to parody the inadequacies of traditional philosophical dialogues (such as the Socratic) that employ static puppets voicing rhetorical counterpoints. Shakespeare’s argument in the plays, as in the Sonnets, is seamlessly wedded to his dramatics.
            The significance of full-blooded argument is accentuated in some plays by the presentation of mock syllogistic or rhetorical sequences in which the use of argument to demonstrate validity rather than soundness pokes a jest at academic and apologetic philosophy. This is illustrated brilliantly in a by-play in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

    Speed: Twenty to one then, he is shipp’d already,
    And I have played the Sheep in losing him.
    Proteus: Indeed a Sheep doth very often stray,
    And if the Shepherd be a while away.
    Speed: You conclude that my Master is a Shepherd then,
    and I Sheep?
    Proteus: I do.
    Speed: Why then my horns are his horns, whether I
    wake or sleep.
    Proteus: A silly answer, and fitting well a Sheep.
    Speed: This proves me still a Sheep.
    Proteus: True: and thy Master a Shepherd.
    Speed: Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance.
    Proteus: It shall go hard but I’ll prove it by another.
    Speed: The Shepherd seeks the Sheep, and not the
    Sheep the Shepherd; but I seek my Master, and my
    Master seeks not me: therefore I am no Sheep.
    Proteus: The Sheep for fodder follow the Shepherd,
    the Shepherd for food follows not the Sheep: thou
    for wages followest thy Master, thy Master for wages
    follows not thee: therefore thou art a Sheep.
    Speed: Such another proof will make me cry baa.
                                        (The Two Gentlemen of Verona 1.1.76-97)

            This is one example out of many throughout the plays. Its horizontal mock of academic and apologetic procedures also occasions a vertical swipe at the shepherd and sheep symbolism of the Bible. Shakespeare incorporates into his mythic expression the sexual/erotic dynamic, which is excluded from apologetic and academic philosophy because it is frozen into the mythological content of the Bible. Biblically conditioned philosophy conforms to a proscription on questioning the status of its inconsistent sexual/erotic dynamic, so reducing its rhetoricians to sheep to whom Speed cries ‘baa’.
            The presence of mock academic argument within the plays is consistent with the use of comic theatrics as a means of acknowledging the role of sophisticated theatrics within the whole of the play. The characters in each play take the argument places. The mock argument gives notice that Shakespeare presents the whole of the play as an argument.

    4.9     The relation of female and male in biblical thought

    The logic of the Sonnets corrects the illogical consequences of applying mythological relationships from Genesis to an understanding of the world. In so doing the Sonnets demonstrate how to generate a mythic level of expression without falling into inconsistencies.
            In Genesis, the biblical mythology opens with an account of the creation of the world by a male God and the derivation of the male and the female (non-sexually or erotically) from the substance of the world. God, the male creator of the world, forms Adam from clay as a male in his own likeness, and then forms Eve, the female, from the rib of Adam. The consequence of believing the illogical mythological dynamic in Genesis 1 and 2 to be a true account of human origins is both a contradictory account of the logic of language in Genesis 3 (where the primal parents become like God in their knowledge of good and evil) and the denigration of the natural process of increase in everyday life by casting it out as evil.
            The mythic requirement that the process of birth be erotic is met in Genesis, but the logical requirement that the female be prior to the male is contradicted. The evidence that biblical mythology was rewritten 3000 or so years ago to usurp natural female priority by installing a ‘jealous’ male God, has its counterpart in the psychological need of the Hebrews to establish an exclusive social and political identity in Palestine. (See the essay on Riane Eisler in Volume 4.)
            Shakespeare provides a consistent mythic understanding that removes the illogicality of believing that Genesis 1 to 3 is literally true or false. By reinstating the nature/female/male relationship as the logical unit for his philosophy, Shakespeare appreciates that the female and the male are differentiated elements within nature. He acknowledges the priority of the female by characterising nature as the sovereign mistress and he then presents the increase argument as a logical consequence of the derivation of the male from the female. Together they provide the logical preconditions for the dynamic of truth and beauty or language and sensations as the logical requirement for the expression of the mythic. For Shakespeare, natural logic with the correct multiplicity is inherent in life and so is prior to the possibility of writing.
            Biblical mythology asserts that a male God created the world in a number of days and makes many other claims about human origins and fate. Similarly, some modern scientists speculate about the origin of the universe or about the constituents of a primordial soup for the origin of organic life. Shakespeare by contrast does not speculate on the origin of nature or of the empirical processes that give rise to organic life. Instead he accepts nature as the logically prior condition and the logic of the division into female and male as a prerequisite for human beings. Natural logic recognises the priority of the female over the male for the dynamic of human understanding. By applying his natural logic rigorously Shakespeare presents a consistent philosophy with a level of expression that is mythic. With the same logical rigour, Darwin established a consistent body of empirical evidence from verifiable domestic variation to develop his case for evolution.
            The philosophy of the Sonnets is logically exact as well as being morally and aesthetically exacting. It enables a precision and coherence in understanding and expression that makes traditional forms of philosophical argument seem inadequate. And the effective use of the female and the male as philosophic premises in the plays and poems is a consequence of the profound relationship between female and male at the mythic level in the precise structuring of the Sonnets.

    4.10     The feminine and the masculine

    The philosophy of the Sonnets demonstrates the relationship between the natural logic of the nature/female/male dynamic that conditions the logical operation of the mind, and the consequent relationship between the secondary sexual characteristics, the feminine and the masculine, as they affect the psychological functioning of the mind. Shakespeare’s appreciation in the Sonnets of the distinction between the logical and the psychological is critical for the consistent mythic expression of the plays.
            The feminine and masculine characteristics derive potency for their function in the mind from their logical relation to the sexual process. This is because the relationship between nature and the female/male dynamic logically influences truth and beauty. There can be no truth and beauty in the human mind if there is no sexual possibility or increase out of the female/male dynamic in the state of nature. In the natural logic of the Sonnets, the dynamic of truth and beauty is predetermined by the requirement that the male return to the female for the purpose of increase.
            The anatomical resemblance between the female and the male is a direct consequence of the derivation of the male from the female. Logically the female and male are distinguished by the development of distinctive sexual and secondary sexual characteristics. Because the female engenders the male, the female has incipient physical characteristics typical of the male and, as the male derives from the female, the male exhibits residual physical features characteristic of the female.
            The degree to which these characteristics are evident in any female or male varies considerably from individual to individual. Accordingly, any female and male can be, to some degree, more masculine or feminine. As the female is the source of all that constitutes the male, androgynous or hermaphroditic beings (who combine both the female and male sex organs, as well as feminine and masculine traits), while atypical, are consistent with the possibilities arising from the differentiation of the male from the female.
            Every male and female has both feminine and masculine dispositions of mind derived from the feminine and the masculine attributes of the body. Every person, whether female or male, has a feminine and a masculine persona due to the influence of the secondary sexual characteristics. The secondary sexual characteristics influence the functioning of the mind.
            While the exact configuration of feminine and masculine characteristics is secondary to the logical requirement to increase, the logical dynamic of the mind is determined by both sexual and secondary sexual characteristics. Every human is born of the increase process so, whether they are able or unable to increase, the relation of feminine and masculine characteristics influences the psychological dynamic of truth and beauty.
            Secondary sexual characteristics are considered in the Sonnets because of the consequences of their influence on the operations of the mind. The consistency of Shakespeare’s philosophy ensures the logical relation between the external components of human sexuality and their psychological off shoots, the feminine and the masculine, is sustained.
            The tendency in traditional mythology to consider feminine and masculine personae (gods and goddesses) as prior to the logical status of the female and the male is critiqued in the Sonnets (particularly in the sequence to the youth) and the consequences of such illogical presumptions is spelt out. The mythic expression in the writing of Shakespeare is not based on anthropomorphised mythological figures derived from the feminine and masculine aspects of the mind, but on the consistent relation between the external world of nature and human beings and their logical contribution to the constitution of the mind.

    4.11     The role of the Master Mistress

    The presence of both feminine and masculine dispositions in the mind of any female or male ensures that both are inherently capable of understanding and potentially capable of expressing the philosophic logic of the Sonnets in poetic form. The potential is acknowledged in the organisation of the Sonnets to represent the Poet physicality and mentality as the logical combination of the female/feminine (Mistress) and the male/masculine (Master Mistress). The consequence is that the Poet’s understanding, and the understanding of any human being, male or female, is characterised by feminine and masculine personae.
            There are a number of ways in the Sonnets and in the plays in which the relationship is explored. One is in the names (sovereign mistress, Mistress, and Master Mistress) given by Shakespeare to nature, the female, and the male in the Sonnets. They function as precise expressions of the sexual dynamic and characterise its influence on the psychological consequences of the gender relationships.
            The derivation of the Mistress from the sovereign mistress is direct and uncomplicated. The ‘Mistress’ is identified as the entity derived from ‘sovereign mistress’. As a human being differentiated from the sovereign mistress, Mistress is capitalised as a proper name.
            The derivation of the Master Mistress from the Mistress indicates not just the relation of a part within the whole but also a distinct shift in potentiality. The name Master Mistress introduces a new element into the female dynamic. The bifurcation of the Mistress to form the Master Mistress creates an entity identified by name as being derived from the Mistress but also having a conditional autonomy as Master. Because the human female depends on male to reproduce sexually (she does not have the capacity, as do some species, to reproduce by parthenogenesis), the name Master Mistress conveys both the male’s derivation from the Mistress and his capacity to determine, or Master, whether the species persists of not.
            The Master Mistress represents a logical cul de sac in the line of development from the sovereign mistress to the Mistress and beyond. Either the male returns to the Mistress or the species dies out. The only recourse for persistence in posterity, for the male, is in recombination with the female. Sonnet 126 is explicit in stating that if the youth fails to increase he returns directly to Nature, the sovereign mistress.
            The male is characterised by traits from his derivation from the female. The name Master Mistress reveals his origins in the female and also the requirement that he return to the female. Logically, there is no such thing as an independent male. The claim of autonomy sometimes made by the male is a psychological one.
            While the logical conditions for the continuation of humankind require the reunification of the female and the male, the physiological conditions for the potential of any individual is determined by their particular balance of sexual characteristics. The range of possibilities from effeminate males, to mannish females, to the rare hermaphrodite, is part of the complexity that is human nature. These physiological conditions have their counterparts in the full range of psychological sensibilities that are predisposed toward either the feminine or the masculine.
            The status of the youth as Master Mistress is a logical prerequisite for the development of the mythic level of relationship between the female and male. Shakespeare’s clear understanding of the relationship is crucial for his mythic achievement.

    4.12     The feminine male and the masculine female

    By calling the male the Master Mistress, and by describing the feminine characteristics of the youth, Shakespeare both identifies the origin of the male in the female and introduces the complex of secondary sexual dispositions that influence human understanding. This process begins in sonnet 20 because it, along with its logically connected companion sonnet 21, are the first sonnets specifically devoted to the dynamic of truth and beauty or the dynamic of understanding.

    A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted,
    Hast thou the Master Mistress of my passion,
    A woman’s gentle heart
    but not acquainted
    With shifting change as is false women’s fashion,
    An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling:
    Gilding the object where-upon it gazeth,
    A man in hue all Hews in his controlling,
    Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
    And for a woman wert thou first created,
    Till nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
    And by addition me of thee defeated,
    By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
        But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,
        Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

                                        (Sonnet 20)

            Sonnet 20 identifies that the youth’s feminine features are derived direct from nature and even his inner feelings are attributed to the ‘woman’s heart’ in his natural constitution. His feminine features are natural because as a male he has no need to respond to the shifting change of artificial fashion. In lines 9 to 14, which state that ‘for a woman wert thou first created’, Shakespeare recognises the priority of the female over the male in their derivation from nature. The youth or male was a female until he was differentiated from the female by the addition of his penis or prick (20.13). The youth’s relationship to the female then determines the Poet’s relation to the youth. The male side of the youth is reserved for the female or ‘women’s pleasure’, but both his masculine and feminine dimensions are available for an emotional/intellectual relationship between himself and the Poet.
            The presence of both female and male sexual characteristics in the external appearance of the youth and feminine and masculine personae in the internal dynamic of the youth’s mind gives the Sonnets their unique sense of hetero and homo philia. The challenge the Poet presents to the youth, or any overly idealistic person, is to appreciate the psychological implications of the feminine/masculine dynamic. The adolescent youth in the Sonnets is someone who does not yet appreciate the logical connection between the physiological and the psychological. In sonnet 20, the Poet presents the logical conditions for a consistent understanding of the feminine/masculine dynamic and points to the cause of the persistent misinterpretation of its significance in mythologies.
            By characterising the Mistress as an uncommon beauty with masculine and feminine traits, he locates in the female the potential for the conditional autonomy of the male. The unfeminine or masculine propensity in the female is explored in sonnet 130.

    My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the Sun,
    Coral is far more red, than her lips red,
    If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun:
    If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head:
    I have seen Roses damasked, red and white,
    But no such Roses see I in her cheeks,
    And in some perfumes is there more delight,
    Than in the breath that from my Mistress reeks.
    I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
    That Music hath a far more pleasing sound:
    I grant I never saw a goddess go,
    My Mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

        And yet by heaven I think my love as rare,
        As any she belied with false compare.
                                        (Sonnet 130)

            In the Master Mistress sequence the Poet addresses the youth’s reluctance to appreciate the significance of increase. The youth’s feminine nature is given as a reason for his logical connection to the Mistress. The youth, though, is distracted by the attentions of those who praise his fine features for flattery’s sake (sonnets 78 to 86).
            The opposite is the case with the Mistress. Despite her unfeminine characteristics the Poet is still drawn to her because she is the logical nexus of his being. If the youth is confused by idealist norms and social prerogatives, in the Mistress sequence the Poet is not distracted by the notion of conventional beauty. If increase is the logical path to human survival then the female fulfills the logical condition simply by being a female. Like the youth’s feminine characteristics, her masculine characteristics are secondary considerations. The ideal love of a beautiful youth or a beautiful woman carries no guarantee of sexual persistence.
            The pairing of both the logical dynamic of sexual persistence and the psychological dispositions within the same name, Master Mistress, allows Shakespeare to present a consistent understanding at the mythic level of expression. Implicit in his appreciation is a critique of mythologies based on the priority of the male. By presenting the logical relation between the two sexes, Shakespeare demonstrates the origin of the illogicalities and psychological appeal of mythological beliefs that prioritise the male. They prioritise the masculine in human psychology as a tenet of belief and so are in contradiction.

    4.13     The illogical relation of feminine and masculine

    An underlying theme and motivation in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, poems, and plays is the critique of the excesses of idealism. There is no direct attack on Judaic, Christian or Islamic dogmas as genuinely held beliefs but, because of his acute philosophic disposition, while a few of his characters and their circumstances are evidently and respectfully Christian, it is evident that Shakespeare was of an independent mind in such matters. There are consequently many instances in which he addresses the illogical consequences of certain Judeo/Christian dogmas and doctrines. Sonnet 129 and the whole of King Lear are two of many undoubted instances.
            The extract below from Love’s Labour’s Lost is Berowne’s response to a King whose Christian-like idealism blinds him to a reverence for life. The whole play is an argument for the correct logical alignment of the feminine and the masculine as they derive from the female and the male. (See the commentary on Love’s Labour’s Lost in Volume 3.) In Act I Berowne counters the King’s sarcasm toward the natural processes of life with a scathing attack on Christ’s ‘abortive birth’.

    King: Berowne is like an envious sneaping Frost
    That bites the first born infants of the Spring.
    Berowne: Well, say I am; why should proud Summer boast,
    Before the Birds have any cause to sing?
    Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
    At Christmas I no more desire a Rose
    Than wish a Snow in May’s new-fangled shows;

    But like of each thing that in season grows.
    So you to study now it is too late,
    That were to climb o’er the house to unlock the gate.
                                        (Love’s Labour’s Lost 1.1.109-18)

            The relationship between the sexual dynamic of female and male and the secondary sexual dynamic of feminine and masculine, given logical formulation in the Sonnets, is turned into a dramatic device in the plays. Because the sexual and the associated gender relationships are at the heart of philosophy, an approach that demonstrates the inconsistent and consistent possibilities has immense dramatic potential.
            For example, Shakespeare’s use of cross-dressing in the plays exploits the potential mythic energy inherent in the sexual dynamic and its secondary psychological characteristics. The confusion of the feminine and the masculine in such plays is symptomatic of the confusion when secondary sexual characteristics are given priority over the sexual. The illogicality is exacerbated in those religions that prioritise the male over the female as a tenet of belief. The parody in the plays of the inversion of sexual priority is resolved, at the end of the play, with the betrothal or marriage of the previously cross-dressed person. According to Shakespeare’s nature-based philosophy that acknowledges the priority of the female (the sovereign mistress) the male God of religion is a female who has been irredeemably cross-dressed.
            The precise combination of female and male elements in the Sonnets distinguishes Shakespeare’s set from the other sonnet sets of his day. All other sets address only the female, rarely a male. They were written in the spirit of romance and not to articulate a consistent philosophy of life. Only Shakespeare wrote a set of sonnets to articulate the philosophy behind all his plays and longer poems.
            None of the other sonnet sequences seriously challenge the inconsistencies in the prevailing Christian/Platonic paradigm. None, and particularly not the sequences of Dante and Petrarch, addresses the philosophical contradictions of prioritising the male (God) over the female. Dante’s seemingly blasphemous elevation of his sweetheart to the right hand of God, though, could be seen to be an unconscious response to the imbalance imposed by male-dominated dogma.
            Shakespeare characterises the male as Master Mistress or the male derived from the Mistress who is pre-conditioned toward the female, or toward the feminine within himself. He addresses the first sequence of 126 sonnets to the Master Mistress as male to represent the logical requirement that the male return to the female for the persistence of humankind. The name Master Mistress echoes the layout of the two sequences in the set. As the Mistress sequence is logically the source of the male it is only necessary that she be in a position for the Poet to direct the attention of the Master Mistress toward her. If the order were reversed with the female made subject to the male then, as evident in belief systems with this expectation, inconsistency and contradiction would abound.

    4.14     The Poet as person and persona

    Throughout the Sonnets, Shakespeare combines the sexual dynamic of the Mistress and the Master Mistress, and the feminine and masculine personae, within the personality of the Poet. The unity of the Poet is generated from the relation of the Mistress and the Master Mistress who provide the logical dynamic for his existence and the constitutive personae of his psyche. The Poet’s consistent understanding uses their affinity without confusing their different functions in the body and the mind.
            A clear understanding of the relation of the physiological and the psychological dynamics is basic to a consistent mythic expression. The Sonnets as a whole cannot be understood without an appreciation of the complete contiguity between the outside and inside worlds of the Poet. Natural logic establishes the connection between the nature/female/male dynamic and the nature/feminine/masculine dynamic. At various times throughout the Sonnets the focus shifts from one aspect of the relationship to the other.
            In the increase sonnets, the focus is on the external dynamic. Once the feminine/masculine dimension and the truth and beauty dynamic is introduced in sonnets 20/21, the Poet looks in a ‘glass’ in sonnet 22 to mirror perfectly the relation of the outside and the inside. The Master Mistress hovers between being a separate individual and the representative of the Poet when young.
            The person/personae potentiality persists throughout the remaining sonnets to the youth and those to the Mistress. Sonnets 41 and 42 in the youth sequence and sonnets 133, 134 and 143, 144 in the Mistress sonnets specifically highlight the relationship of the feminine/masculine personae. When the Dedication is examined in Part 5 for its encrypted formulations it will be seen that the contiguity of the external sexual necessity and the related internal erotic personae is given typographic form (see 5.2).
            Other sonnets are addressed more particularly to persons whose names are encrypted as possible representatives of individuals known to Shakespeare. This is especially the case with the two Will sonnets (135,136) and sonnet 145 with its punning reference to Anne Hathaway.

    4.15     The sexual and the erotic

    So far in this presentation of the logical conditions for the mythic possibility, attention has focused on the preconditions for mythic expression. The influence of the sexual differentiation of male from female and the effect of secondary sexual dispositions of feminine and masculine on the logical presentation of ideas in the Sonnets and the plays have been considered.
            Just as the logic of increase is a precondition for the truth and beauty dynamic, it is also a precondition for the possibility of a consistent expression of the mythic. By the unique addition of an increase argument to his sonnet set, Shakespeare explicitly recognises the significance of the sexual. By aligning his understanding with the processes of natural logic he explores the consequences of the sexual dynamic on the operations of the mind. Only then is it possible to give consistent expression to the mythic level of understanding.
            If increase is prior to truth and beauty, then the dynamic of truth and beauty has characteristics that distinguish it from increase. The distinction is best captured, for the mythic level of expression, in the difference between the sexual and the erotic. In the philosophic system of the Sonnets a logical distinction is drawn between the sexual and the erotic.
            Consistent with the definitions given above, the distinction identifies the sexual as a function of the body and the erotic as a function of the mind. The sexual relates to the biological, or the relation of male and female in procreation or the production of offspring. The erotic is any desire as a state of mind adjunct to sexual necessity. The distinction is apparent in the use of the words sexual and erotic in literature or the arts. The term sexual literature refers to literature that deals with sexual or biologically based issues, while the term erotic literature deals with love and desire derived primarily from psychological factors. Sexual literature is self-evidently about sex whereas erotic literature is self-consciously erotic.
            Because the logical operations of the mind are derived from the sexual, the sexual is logically prior to the erotic. Any writing at the mythic level logically acknowledges the logical status of the erotic. Typical mythologies are centered on an expression that is fundamentally erotic. The Christian mythology, for instance, is founded on the erotics of the Old Testament where God creates Adam and Eve by non-sexual means, and in the New Testament, where God begets Christ from Mary by non-sexual means. The eroticism at the centre of the mythology expresses the logical preconditions or givens for any social or cultural activity within a society.
            Mythological systems change when a challenge to a previous paradigm is successful at the mythic level. Shakespeare presents the logical challenge at the mythic level to the Christian/Platonic paradigm by correcting its inconsistent elements. The Sonnets offer the possibility of a consistent understanding without the contradictory consequences of the psychological priorities that characterise the old paradigm.
            The Sonnets are organised to demonstrate the logical conditions for mythic consistency. Nature is the given within which the increase sonnets (1 to 14) consider only the logic of the sexual or biological. The poetry and increase sonnets (15 to 19), as transitional sonnets between the sexual and the erotic, point back to the sexual but have an erotic undertone as a precursor to the truth and beauty dynamic. The truth and beauty sonnets (20 to 154) freely use erotic language and images in keeping with their erotic status. Some of them are renowned for their use of erotic imagery, symbolism, and allusion. Sonnets 135/136 and 153/154, particularly, are overtly erotic to emphasise the logical status of eroticism in any complete system of understanding.

    4.16     The sexual dynamic

    The argument of the increase sonnets throughout is literal and evidential. This is in keeping with their purpose to present the given or the sexual basis of human being. Shakespeare appreciates that, in itself, the physical fact of sexual reproduction, as distinct from a product of the human mind, is inherently non-poetic. However, he understands that the sexual has a logical connection to the dynamic of truth and beauty or its expression as erotic and so is constrained to include it in his argument if he wishes to present a complete and consistent philosophy.
            A list of increase sonnet endings demonstrates their didactic tone.

    Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
    And only herald to the gaudy spring,
    Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
    And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:

        Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
        To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
                                        (Sonnet 1.9-14)

    How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
    If thou couldst answer this fair child of mine
    Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse
    Proving his beauty by succession thine.
        This were to be new made when thou art old,
        And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
                                        (Sonnet 2.11-14)

        But if thou live rememb’red not to be,
        Die single and thine Image dies with thee.
                                        (Sonnet 3.13-14)

    Then how when nature calls thee to be gone,
    What acceptable Audit can’st thou leave?
        Thy unused beauty must be tombed with thee,
        Which used lives th’executor to be.

                                        (Sonnet 4.11-14)

    Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
    Leaving thee living in posterity?
        Be not self willed for thou art much too fair,
        To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.

                                        (Sonnet 6.11-14)

        So thou, thy self out-going in thy noon:
        Unlooked on diest unless thou get a son.
                                        (Sonnet 7.13-14)

        Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
        Sings this to thee thou single wilt prove none.
                                        (Sonnet 8.13-14)

    Look what an unthrift in the world doth spend
    Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it
    But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
    And kept unused the user so destroys it:
        No love towards others in that bosom sits
        That on himself such murd’rous shame commits.

                                        (Sonnet 9.9-14)

        Make thee an other self for love of me,
        That beauty still may live in thine or thee.

                                        (Sonnet 10.13-14)

    Let those whom nature hath not made for store,
    Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish,
    Look whom she best endowed, she gave the more;
    Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish,
        She carved thee for her seal, and meant thereby,
        Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.

                                        (Sonnet 11.9-14)

        And nothing ’gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
        Save breed to brave him, when he takes thee hence.
                                        (Sonnet 12.13-14)

        O none but unthrifts, dear my love you know,
        You had a Father, let your Son say so.
                                        (Sonnet 13.13-14)

    If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert:
        Or else of thee this I prognosticate,
        Thy end is Truth’s and Beauty’s doom and date.
                                        (Sonnet 14.12-14)

    4.17     The transition from the sexual to the erotic

    The argument of the poetry and increase sonnets is similarly deliberate. In the 5 transitional sonnets (between the increase argument and the arguments for a consistent understanding of truth and beauty), the Poet allows himself one erotic metaphor. Appropriately, it deals with the writing process. In sonnet 16, he puns on the correspondence between the pen and the penis.

    So should the lines of life that life repair
    Which this (Time’s pencil or my pupil pen)
    Neither in inward worth nor outward fair
    Can make you live your self in eyes of men,
        To give away your self, keeps your self still,
        And you must live drawn by your own sweet skill.
                                        (Sonnet 16.9-14)

            In the sestet of sonnet 16, the youth is encouraged to accept that the hereditary line derived from ‘Time’s pencil’, or his penis, is logically prior to the hoarding of his virtues in ‘barren rhyme’ (line 4). This is because the ‘pupil pen’ (the writing tool derives its potentiality from the penis) draws an image that captures only a dutifully recorded static moment in the life of the youth.
            After the punning statement of the logical difference between the sexual and the erotic in sonnet 16, the next three sonnets consider their interrelationship. In sonnet 17 the effect of increase is twofold compared with the value given to ‘rhyme’.

        But were some child of yours alive that time,
        You should live twice in it, and in my rhyme.
                                        (Sonnet 17.13-14)

            The comma in line 17.14 is moved in most modern editions to appear after ‘twice’, completely altering the sense of the sonnet. Sonnet 18 expresses the interdependence of the sexual and the erotic. This is especially evident in the combined statement of their relative mutuality in line 12. The lines of life and the lines of poetry are represented as inseparable aspects of human logic.

    When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
                                        (Sonnet 18.12)

    The pen appears again in sonnet 19, the final of the 5.
    O carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
    Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen,
    Him in thy course untainted do allow,
    For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
        Yet do thy worst old Time despite thy wrong,
        My love shall in my verse live ever young.
                                        (Sonnet 19.9-14)

            In the sestet of sonnet 19, the relative values of the pen and the penis are harmonised. Once the youth understands the content of the Poet’s argument he can be rejoiced in verse. The limited immortality available through verse can then be enjoyed for what it is, an image of the youth when young. The Poet never forgets the possibility of being depicted in verse is based on the precondition from sonnet 14 that increase is prior to truth and beauty.
            Shakespeare challenges the traditional presumption that immortality through poetry has ascendancy over the persistence of life. Different from every other poet, he confronts the idealistic or romantic dispositions who have found it impossible to incorporate the increase argument into their understanding of his work. The increase sonnets, and poetry and increase sonnets, have been denigrated, omitted, or misinterpreted. This is particularly the case for sonnet 18, where the exact expression of the relation between lines of descent and lines of poetry in line 12 is overlooked in the desire for an idealised promise of poetic immortality. The prejudice has meant the distinction between the sexual and the erotic in the sonnets has been glossed over.

    4.18     The erotic dynamic

    The absence of deliberate erotic suggestiveness in the first 19 sonnets (allowing for the appropriate pun on pen in the increase and poetry sonnets) is in keeping with the physical basis of the love evident in those sonnets. Consistent with the argument of the increase sonnets, sonnet 9 states that no love is possible if such love ‘toward others’ is not acknowledged as the basis of all love.
            Eros, or the entity associated with the arousal of erotic desire, has its basis in the increase sonnets. The first sonnet introduces the Rose of which Eros is the anagrammatic form. Eros does not appear in the increase sonnets because eroticism is not a logical part of the physical process of increase. But Eros is embryonic in those sonnets, ready to emerge in the truth and beauty sonnets fully formed as erotic thought or desire.
            Although the erotic pervades the whole of the truth and beauty dynamic, the allusion to Eros as the God of Love is consistent with the non-deification of the logical entities in the Sonnets. The sovereign mistress, the Mistress, the Master Mistress, and the Poet are not deified entities. Even the two instances of the use of the word God in the youth sonnets do not refer simply or directly to the Christian deity. The first in sonnet 58 is in the form of an oath ‘that God forbid’, and the second in sonnet 110 describes the youth as a ‘God in love’.
            Instead, in keeping with the philosophic tone of the whole set, in the final two sonnets 153/154, Shakespeare expands a classical epigram to signal the logical presence of Eros. They introduce ‘Cupid, the little Love-God’ using the Roman name for the Greek Eros. The erotic intensity of the two sonnets confirms the pervasive philosophic eroticism evident from sonnets 20 to 152. And the erotic intensity of A Lover’s Complaint leaves no doubt that all thought is conditioned by the erotic possibility. (The diagrammatic organisation of the set corresponds to the sexual/erotic logic. See 5.7).
            The freedom with which the Poet introduces erotic suggestion throughout the remainder of the Master Mistress sequence and the Mistress sequence is a consequence of the philosophic characterisation of the truth and beauty dynamic as erotic in relation to the sexual dynamic of the increase argument. Not only does sonnet 20 begin the process of presenting the dynamic of truth and beauty proper, it is also the first sonnet with decidedly erotic overtones.

    And by addition me of thee defeated,
    By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
        But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,

        Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
                                        (Sonnet 20.11-14)

            Eroticism then appears throughout the sequence according to the requirements of the Poet’s argument.

    So am I as the rich whose blessed key,
    Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,
    The which he will not every hour survey,
    For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure.
    Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare,
    Since seldom coming in the long year set,
    Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
    Or captain Jewels in the carconet.
    So is the time that keeps you as my chest,
    Or as the ward-robe which the robe doth hide,
    To make some special instant special blest,
    By new unfolding his imprisoned pride.
        Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope,
        Being had to triumph, being lacked to hope.
                                        (Sonnet 52)

    Why should he live, now nature bankrout is,
    Beggared of blood to blush through lively veins,
    For she hath no exchequer now but his,
    And proud of many, lives upon his gains?

                                        (Sonnet 67.9-12)

    Thus is his cheek the map of days out-worn,
    When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,

                                        (Sonnet 68.1-2)

    But since your worth (wide as the Ocean is)
    The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
    My saucy bark (inferior far to his)
    On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
    Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
    Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride,
    Or (being wracked) I am a worthless boat,
    He of tall building, and of goodly pride.

        Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
        The worst was this, my love was my decay.
                                        (Sonnet 80.5-14)

    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come,

    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But it bears out even to the edge of doom:
        If this be error and upon me proved,
        I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
                                        (Sonnet 116.7-14)

    How oft when thou my music music play’st,
    Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
    With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st,
    The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
    Do I envy those Jacks that nimble leap,
    To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
    Whilst my poor lips which should that harvest reap,
    At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand.
    To be so tickled they would change their state,

    And situation with those dancing chips,
    O’er whom their fingers walk with gentle gait,
    Making dead wood more blest than living lips,
        Since saucy Jacks so happy are in this,
        Give them their fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

                                        (Sonnet 128)

    Who ever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
    And Will to boot, and Will in over-plus,
    More than enough am I that vex thee still,
    To thy sweet will making addition thus.
    Wilt thou whose will is large and spatious,
    Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine,

    Shall will in others seem right gracious,
    And in my will no fair acceptance shine:
    The sea all water, yet receives rain still,
    And in abundance addeth to his store,
    So thou being rich in Will add to thy Will,
    One will of mine to make thy large Will more.
        Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill,
        Think all but one, and me in that one Will.
                                        (Sonnet 135)

    If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
    Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
    And will thy soul knows is admitted there,

    Thus far for love, my love-suit sweet fulfill.
    Will, will fulfill the treasure of thy love,
    I fill it full with wills, and my will one,
    In things of great receipt with ease we prove,

    Among a number one is reckoned none.
    Then in the number let me pass untold,
    Though in thy stores account I one must be,
    For nothing hold me, so it please thee hold,
    That nothing me, a some-thing sweet to thee.

        Make but my name thy love, and love that still,
        And then thou lov’st me for my name is Will.
                                        (Sonnet 136)

            The Will in sonnets 135/136 refers erotically to the penis. There is reason to think that these sonnets were among the last written and reflect the Poet’s determination to emphasise the erotic logic of his understanding.

    If eyes corrupt by over-partial looks,
    Be anchored in the bay where all men ride,

                                        (Sonnet 137.5-6)

    My soul doth tell my body that he may,
    Triumph in love, flesh stays no further reason.
    But rising at thy name doth point out thee,
    As his triumphant prize, proud of this pride,

    He is contented thy poor drudge to be
    To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
        No want of conscience hold it that I call,
        Her love, for whose dear love I rise and fall.
                                        (Sonnet 151.7-14)

    Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep,
    A maid of Diane’s this advantage found,
    And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
    In a cold valley-fountain of that ground:

    Which borrowed from this holy fire of love,
    A dateless lively heat still to endure,
    And grew a seething bath which men yet prove,
    Against strange maladies a sovereign cure:

    But at my Mistress’ eye love’s brand new fired,
    The boy for trial needs would touch my breast,
    I sick withal the help of bath desired,
    And thither hied a sad distempered guest.
        But found no cure, the bath for my help lies,
        Where Cupid got new fire; my Mistress’ eye.

                                        (Sonnet 153)

    The little Love-God lying once asleep,
    Laid by his side his heart inflaming brand,
    Whilst many Nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep,
    Came tripping by, but in her maiden hand,
    The fairest votary took up that fire,

    Which many Legions of true hearts had warmed,
    And so the General of hot desire,
    Was sleeping by a Virgin hand disarmed.
    This brand she quenched in a cool Well by,
    Which from love’s fire took heat perpetual,
    Growing a bath and healthful remedy,
    For men diseased, but I my Mistress’ thrall,
        Came there for cure and this by that I prove,
        Love’s fire heats water, water cools not love.

                                        (Sonnet 154)

            The last two sonnets unequivocally emphasise the erotic logic of the truth and beauty sonnets. In sonnet 153 the Poet finds no cure for his malady in the ‘bath’. He understands implicitly that a cure can only be found in his ‘Mistress’ eye’ of lines 9 and 14. The ‘eye’ is nothing other than the Mistress’ genitals.
            Sonnet 153 and 154 (as well as 135 and 136) have been misunderstood and denigrated by commentators who have not appreciated the sexual/ erotic dynamic that is logically allied with the possibility of human understanding. Their misunderstanding is symptomatic of the inconsistent philosophical enterprise typified by Judeo/Christian apologetics and scepticism.

    4.19     Immortality: nature, the sexual, or the erotic

    The logical relationship between nature, increase, and truth and beauty links the three types of immortality explored in the Sonnets. Nature provides the most generalised form of immortality at death. Persistence through increase provides the most specific or significant form of immortality. Truth and beauty provides a more specialised or limited form of immortality as when a person is commemorated in art or imagines a period after death in the presence of a personalised God or other being.
            Shakespeare argues that increase is the basic form of immortality for human beings. Increase is the principal form of immortality in Shakespeare’s philosophy because without it human beings would not persist. It is the only form with the appropriate logical multiplicity to be the basis for a coherent understanding of other forms of immortality.
            Traditional mythologies do not acknowledge the female/male sexual dynamic as the logical basis for immortality. Biblical beliefs illogically prioritise the erotic dynamic over the sexual as the basis for immortal life. Ironically, about the only way the sexual enters the Bible is through genealogies of descent in the more historical passages. The logical role of the female/male/child relationship in the philosophic dynamic of the Sonnets serves as a basis for clarifying the confusions that exist about the nature of immortality in such mythical accounts.
            Typically, Bible-based interpretation of the Sonnets does not acknowledge the logic of immortality through increase. It reduces the possibilities of immortality to the most general form by making nature into God. Such commentary has presumed the Sonnets continue the religious or literary conceits about the nature of immortality evident in earlier sonneteers and in some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Claims that Shakespeare was offering the ‘friend’ everlasting immortality by inscribing him into his ‘immortal’ verse ignore the logic of the whole set. By basing his consistent mythic understanding in the dynamic of increase in nature, Shakespeare redresses the absence.
            Sonnet 126 provides the definitive statement about the general form of immortality associated with Nature. The persistent theme of the youth sequence, that increase is the logical form of immortality for the continuation of the humankind has its corollary in the alternative fate for the youth.

    O Thou my lovely Boy who in thy power,
    Dost hold time’s fickle glass, his sickle, hour:
    Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st,
    Thy lover’s withering, as thy sweet self grow’st.
    If Nature (sovereign mistress over wrack)
    As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
    She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill,
    May time disgrace, and wretched minute kill.
    Yet fear her O thou minion of her pleasure,
    She may detain, but not still keep her treasure!
    Her Audit (though delayed) answered must be,
    And her Quietus is to render thee.

        (                                                    )
        (                                                    )
                                        (Sonnet 126)

            The youth either increases or is reclaimed by nature without having increased. The Sonnets argue for the primacy of immortality based on the sexual dynamic against the forms of human immortality guaranteed at death by mythological beliefs that are based on psychological or erotic desires. The non-sexual, or erotic, status of mythology is unable to provide the basis for a consistent account of the logic of immortality. So if a mythology depicts a heaven without increase, as is the case with some versions of Judeo/ Christian mythology, the immortality offered is allied to the re-absorption into nature without increase.
            Perpetuation through increase, as argued in the first 14 sonnets, and present as a given in the rest of the set, offers substantial life-sustaining persistence compared with the momentary and significantly more vulnerable inscription in poetry or any form of art. It is a consequence of the erotic or the desire mechanism of the mind that any form of immortality offered by the imagination is secondary and relatively transitory.

    4.20     Immortality in the poetry and increase sonnets

    Sonnets 15 and 16 are the first of 5 sonnets that provide an interlude between the increase sonnets and the truth and beauty sequence proper. The 5 sonnets deal with the relation between the persistence of humankind through sexual processes and the status of poetry. The first four lines of sonnet 16 are uncompromising about immortality, or the logical relation of life and art.

    But wherefore do not you a mightier way
    Make war upon this bloody tyrant time?
    And fortify yourself in your decay
    With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?

    Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
    And many maiden gardens yet unset,
    With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
    Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
    So should the lines of life that life repair
    Which this (Times pencil or my pupil pen)
    Neither in inward worth nor outward fair
    Can make you live your self in eies of men,
        To give away your self, keeps your self still,
        And you must live drawn by your own sweet skill.
                                        (Sonnet 16)

            Rhyme, even the Poet’s accomplished rhyme, is barren compared with the potentiality of increase. If there is a relationship between increase and poetry it is one in which ‘time’s pencil’ , or the penis, is master to the ‘pupil pen’. The youth ‘must live’ or survive into the future through increase, ‘drawn by his own sweet skill’ or the use of his penis.
            Sonnet 17 continues the theme.

    Who will believe my verse in time to come
    If it were filled with your most high deserts?
    Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
    Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts:

    If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
    And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
    The age to come would say this Poet lies,
    Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.
    So should my papers (yellowed with their age)
    Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
    And your true rights be termed a Poet’s rage,
    And stretched meter of an Antique song.
        But were some child of yours alive that time,
        You should live twice in it, and in my rhyme.

                                        (Sonnet 17)

            In sonnet 17 the Poet allows that his rhyme could provide the youth with a singular form of immortality in which he ‘lives’ once, but such immortality is very limited compared with the twice he is able to ‘live’ in ‘some child of yours’. The child will be both his replica through increase, and will be a joy to the youth when it fulfils its own potential. The comma in line 14 in Q (moved in most editions), is crucial to the meaning of sonnet 17. Sonnet 18 aligns the two possibilities of immortality so that the last few lines can be read as referring to increase or poetry.

    When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
        So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

                                        (Sonnet 18.12-14)

            The possibility of the double reading is conditional on the correct value being placed on the two options. The poetry can only have ‘life’ so long as ‘men’ still exist to ‘see’ and ‘breathe’.
            Sonnet 19 completes the transition from increase to poetry by stating the logical condition for poetic immortality.

    O carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
    Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen.
    Him in thy course untainted do allow,
    For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
        Yet do thy worst old Time despite thy wrong,
        My love shall in my verse ever live young.

                                        (Sonnet 19.9-14)

            If time does take the youth through natural causes, (‘make the earth devour her own sweet brood’), the Poet reserves the right to record an image of the youth as he was when young to allow the youth the consolation of a limited immortality in verse. The conditions for immortality through truth and beauty are different from those for increase. With this proviso the Poet proceeds to investigate the dynamic of truth and beauty under the preconditions established in the increase argument and the poetry and increase sonnets.
            In the sonnets after sonnet 19 the priority of immortality through increase over poetry is pervasive. Where the theme of a sonnet is the reproduction of the youth through the Poet’s verse or other arts, it is not the poetry as a book or written line that guarantees a degree of immortality but rather the ‘content’ of the verse. It is what the whole of the set of 154 sonnets says, what the words convey, that matters rather than a poetic or painted image of the youth. As sonnet 19 avows, it is the expression of the Poet’s ‘love’, the unselfish love defined in sonnet 9, that never dies in his verse.

    4.21     Immortality in other sonnets to the youth

    The inadequacy of poetry or art to capture more than just a semblance of life is commented upon throughout the Sonnets.

    So it is not with me as with that Muse,
    Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse.
                                        (Sonnet 21.1-2)

        Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art
        They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
                                        (Sonnet 24.13-14)

        And him as for a map doth Nature store,
        To show false Art what beauty was of yore.
                                        (Sonnet 68.13-14)

        You still shall live (such virtue hath my Pen)
        Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
                                        (Sonnet 81.13-14)

        But when your countenance filled up his line,
        Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

                                        (Sonnet 86.13-14)

        And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
        Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.

                                        (Sonnet 103.13-14)

            The content of the Sonnets endures because it is carried forward from generation to generation. If there are no human beings then the commemorative power of poetry has no point. As long as human beings exist then the content will outlive tombs and monuments.

    Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
    My love looks fresh, and death to me subscribes,
    Since spight of him I’ll live in this poor rhyme,
    While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes.
        And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
        When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.

                                        (Sonnet 107.9-14)

            Sonnet 55 gives the definitive argument on the relation of content to artifact.

    Not marble, nor the guilded monument,
    Of Princes shall out-live this powerful rhyme,
    But you shall shine more bright in these contents

    Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
    When wasteful war shall Statues overturn,
    And broils root out the work of masonry,
    Nor Mars his sword, nor wars quick fire shall burn:
    The living record of your memory.
    Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity
    Shall you pace forth, your praise shall still find room,
    Even in the eyes of all posterity
    That wear this world out to the ending doom.
        So till the judgment that your self arise,
        You live in this, and dwell in lover’s eyes.
                                        (Sonnet 55)

            ‘Doom’ and ‘judgment’ here refer not to a Christian Judgment Day, as so many commentators presume, but to the doom and judgment mentioned in sonnet 14. The youth is asked to consider the logic of his existence and the logical consequence that, if all were like him and made an illogical judgment, humankind would be doomed.
            While sonnet 55 gives the definitive statement of the realisation, sonnet 54 is equally decisive in its rejection of the idea of immortality through verse as a significant form of persistence.

    Oh how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
    By that sweet ornament which truth doth give,
    The Rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
    For that sweet odour, which doth in it live:
    The Canker blooms have full as deep a dye,
    As the perfumed tincture of the Roses,

    Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
    When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:
    But for their virtue only is their show,
    They live unwooed, and unrespected fade,
    Die to themselves. Sweet Roses do not so,
    Of their sweet deaths, are sweetest odours made:
        And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
        When that shall vade, by verse distils your truth.

                                        (Sonnet 54)

            Here Shakespeare uses the image of the Rose three times to make his point about the dynamic of truth and beauty. In lines 1 to 4 beauty alone is not beauty enough. Only beauty in the correct relation to truth is truly ‘beauteous’. The Rose ‘looks fair’ or beautiful, but it is the combination of visual beauty and a sweet scent that makes it ‘fairer’. A Rose with a scent is an image of beauty and truth combined.
            The Canker bloom or hedge rose (54.5-12), which looks as beautiful, lacks the quality or ‘odour’ that the Poet identifies with truth. Without truth these roses ‘die to themselves’. Sweet Roses by contrast continue to give off scent when they die. Beauty is a transitory phenomenon that fades. If truth is not part of the equation, then beauty is in vain.
            So, in the couplet, when the beauty of the youth fades, the dynamic of truth that is evident in the Poet’s verse will ‘distil’ the ‘truth’ of the youth’s situation. Was he a canker or a sweet bloom? Because the Poet’s verse combines truth and beauty in the appropriate way then his verse sets a standard for the truth dynamic. Some editors change the ‘by’ of the last line to ‘my’ thinking the youth is being immortalised in the Poet’s verse. Rather the youth is being evaluated ‘by’ the standard of the Poet’s verse. The whole set of 154 sonnets establishes that standard.
            The beauty of the Poet’s writing is in vain if what he says is not consistent with the truth that complements beauty. The immediate beauty of the Sonnets is on the page but the ‘odour’ is the content of the sonnet that exists even after the page has faded away. Any sonnet is dispensable because the content is in the air all around. The content in the Sonnets has its foundation in the increase argument, and the full exploration of truth and beauty in the remaining sonnets.
            Sonnet 74 reiterates the logical condition that it is what poetry ‘contains’ that matters.

        The worth of that, is that which it contains,
        And that is this, and this with thee remains.
                                        (Sonnet 74.13-14)

            Sonnet 20, the first of the truth and beauty sonnets and the first sonnet with fully intended erotic innuendoes, states explicitly that the Poet’s verse can do no more than capture an image of the youth as he was at the moment of depiction. Verse offers no more immortality than a record of a frozen moment. That type of immortality is a shadow of the immortality implicit in the logic of the increase dynamic. Even on a simple comparison of numbers the possibility for posterity for those who persist through increase far outweighs the few chosen by chance to be immortalised for a period in cultural artifacts.
            The increase argument does not require that all should increase. The genetic fact is that near relations carry forward the genetic makeup of any individual who does not increase. Shakespeare’s own line of descent was carried forward out of his sister’s family and not his own. And while Shakespeare might have expected considerable immortality for his poetry and plays, he insists on the susceptibility of cultural renown to the ravages of time. His attitude suggests a temperament that values life over art.
            The Sonnets’ consistent attitude to the issue of immortality enables them to express the logical conditions for the various forms of immortality without contradiction. They also provide the underpinning for a consistent mythic expression in the plays, where the limited sense of immortality available through the idea of a male God or through the monuments of man is a significant theme. The expression of the Sonnet philosophy in the plays has confounded those who mistake the life-connected sense of reality that pervades the plays for a scepticism toward life. The commentators feel compelled to alter or denigrate the plays when they are unable to find an expression of their prejudicial beliefs about immortality.

    4.22     The mythic Poet in nature

    Shakespeare deploys the philosophic persons or structural characters in the Sonnets very precisely. Nature (the sovereign mistress), the Mistress, and the Master Mistress, have philosophic functions that are keyed to the necessities and contingencies of life. Out of the logical relationship there arises the possibility of a Poet who is sufficiently talented to give the understanding mythic expression.
            The Poet is represented in the Sonnets as a part of nature, and is subject to the processes of nature. Nature is the all-inclusive dynamic within which the logical template for human understanding exhibits its correct multiplicity. Human nature is part of nature at large, and in this sense the increase/ truth and beauty dynamic is logically an aspect of nature. Nature, as stated in the definitive sonnet 126, is the ultimate auditor or arbiter.
            The relation of human nature to Nature (the sovereign mistress) is given expression in the logically connected sonnets 67 and 68. Although the youth is the subject of these two sonnets, the Mistress and the Poet are implicated because the Mistress is the source of the youth or male, and the Poet’s understanding requires a unity of the youth and the Mistress.
            In sonnet 67, the word ‘nature’ is not capitalised in Q. The sonnet refers to the human dimension of nature that is ‘beggared of blood to blush through lively veins’. Human nature is ‘bankrupt’ because it has squandered its capital, or its natural potential to increase, on the ‘sin’ and ‘impiety’ of ‘painting’ what is ‘false’ as true. The natural vitality of the youth represents the possibility of a return to ‘the days long since’ when natural processes were valued. This capacity is inherent in the youth, but is one which he is in danger of squandering for ‘false’ ideals.

    Ah wherefore with infection should he live,
    And with his presence grace impiety,
    That sin by him advantage should achieve,
    And lace itself with his society?
    Why should false painting imitate his cheek,
    And steal dead seeing of his living hue?
    Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
    Roses of shadow, since his Rose is true?
    Why should he live, now nature bankrout is,
    Beggared of blood to blush through lively veins,
    For she hath no exchequer now but his,
    And proud of many, lives upon his gains?

        O him she stores, to show what wealth she had,
        In days long since, before these last so bad.
                                        (Sonnet 67)

            In sonnet 68, ‘Nature’ has a capital N. The ‘store’, or capacity for increase (see sonnet 14), is compared to a map (the youth’s ‘cheek’) that shows the way to the future under Nature’s largesse. The nature of the youth’s potential selfishness has reduced his face to a map of intransigence. The images of the ‘false’ life derived from ‘selpulchers’ and decorated with tresses made of ‘dead fleece’ to give them a semblance of life is a critique of the literal interpretation of the Christian resurrection with its Lamb of God imagery.

    Thus is his cheek the map of days out-worn,
    When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,
    Before these bastard signs of fair were born,
    Or durst inhabit on a living brow:
    Before the golden tresses of the dead,
    The right of sepulchers, were shorn away,
    To live a second life on second head,
    Ere beauty’s dead fleece made another gay:
    In him those holy antique hours are seen
    Without all ornament,
    it self and true,
    Making no summer of an other’s green,
    Robbing no old to dress his beauty new,
        And him as for a map doth Nature store,
        To show false Art what beauty was of yore.

                                        (Sonnet 68)

            The two sonnets are logically exact in the positioning of the youthful persona of the Poet both with regards to his human nature and to Nature at large. Shakespeare’s determination that the Christian (or a like mythology) is ‘false art’, and that natural beauty through the process of increase is the basis of a consistent mythic expression, is a constant theme in the Sonnets.
            The Poet is an inescapable element in the sonnet logic. He is the one who expresses the dynamic of increase/truth and beauty in all its exactness, consistency and coherence. He does so in verse that weaves together an unbroken dynamic of truth and beauty that reflexively acknowledges the logical part he plays in the process.

    4.23     The mythic Poet and the sexual/erotic dynamic

    The Poet provides the critical link between the living evidence of the logical combination of the female/feminine and male/masculine aspects of being, and the scribe or the author who is aware he is presenting the understanding in a form that will, in part, determine its logic and also enable its reception. This appreciation, the appreciation of the Poet’s relation to the sexual and the erotic out of the female/male dynamic, is basic to mythic expression.
            The sexual/erotic dynamic, as it stands, represents the logical relation between the body and the mind with the correct multiplicity. The Sonnets recognise in sonnet 10, and take account of in sonnets 15 to 19, that they are necessarily written by a Poet. So the fact of sonnet writing needs to be incorporated into the dynamic to complete the delivery of its ‘content’.
            The dynamic evident in the relationship of body and mind places the sexual in its logical relation to the erotic. The erotic is necessarily, self-consciously, aware of its limitation in relation to the body. The Poet then, as the writer of poetry, as the creator of an artifact that is inherently erotic, needs to reflect not only on the process of writing (or any such form of expression) but also reflect on the inherent eroticism in the activity of writing as non-sexual.
            The Poet of the Sonnets takes account of this in his appreciation of the nature of immortality through poetry in relation to the immortality inherent in the increase dynamic. The Poet, when writing the Sonnets, is conscious that it is the consistent ‘content’ of his verse in terms of the sexual/erotic dynamic and not its physical manifestation as a book that enables him to avoid considering the book as a product of desire, as an entity sufficient in itself. Because the whole argument of the complete set of 154 sonnets is consistent in its appreciation of the sexual/erotic, increase/truth and beauty dynamic, it is inherently logical as a depiction of human life. The book, the set of Sonnets, delineates or articulates the philosophic given. It cannot be created as an artifact with which to replace it.
            It is evident from the Sonnets and from comments by characters in the plays, and even by Shakespeare’s somewhat casual attitude to the preservation of a definitive version of his play scripts, that he put a greater value on life than on art. It has been difficult for Sonnet commentators to forgo the conceit typical of Platonism that the Sonnets subscribe to the notion of the primacy of poetic or imaginative immortality. Because Shakespeare’s philosophy is based on a sound premise, he has the liberty to question the priority of the medium with which he has chosen to communicate his thoughts. That this is not understood is fundamental to the misconceptions of so many commentators.
            The Poet, then, as the creator of an artifact, does not confuse the logic of immortality through increase with the erotics or desire for an egotistical return on the artifact. He maintains the correct priority by placing the body before the mind. Further, by correctly incorporating the logical relationship of the female/feminine and male/masculine components of his status as a sexual/erotic being, the Poet is able to invest the artifact with a content that is logically exact and profoundly philosophic.
            Shakespeare refers to the first person identity of the Sonnets by the name Poet to establish the philosophic role of poet/philosopher. The Poet is the voice who presents Shakespeare’s philosophy in the form of a structured set of sonnets. The word Poet is first mentioned in sonnet 17. It occurs twice, first relating the Poet to the sense of beauty and then to the dynamic of truth. When the Poet articulates the logical relationship between increase and truth and beauty in sonnets 15 to 19, he does so in the full knowledge of his appreciation of the female/male dynamic and the sexual/erotic dynamic. In so doing he identifies the logical conditions for mythic expression. The 5 sonnets formulate the conceptual qualities required of a Poet if he is to write poetry and drama at the mythic level.

    4.24     The mythic Poet and the Alien Poet sonnets

    The Sonnets take account of the relation between a Poet who can operate at the mythic level with philosophic consistency and those who are unable to do so. Sonnet 32, for instance, insists the Poet will be remembered for the quality of ‘love’ that has its foundation in the increase sonnets rather than the quality of the verse, in terms of style and rhyme. Shakespeare considers the issue significant enough to dedicate the group of 9 Alien Poet sonnets to its exploration (78 to 86). The numerological significance of dedicating 9 sonnets to this purpose has already been considered. The Master Mistress, who is logically associated with the number 9, will remain no more than a lesser Poet if he does not heed the advice of the Poet. If other poets do not appreciate the logical conditions Shakespeare presents in sonnets 78 to 86 then they will be unable to operate at the mythic level.
            The first line of sonnet 78 evokes the one extra Muse, or the one more than the 9 Muses of old (sonnet 38), that distinguishes Shakespeare’s mythic verse from that of lesser Poets. If the youth could see the connection he would, as suggested in the last line of sonnet 77, ‘much enrich his book’.

    So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,
    And found such fair assistance in my verse,
    As every Alien pen hath got my use,
    And under thee their poesy disperse.
    Thine eyes,
    that taught the dumb on high to sing,
    And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
    Have added feathers to the learned’s wing,
    And given grace a double Majesty.
    Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
    Whose influence is thine, and born of thee,

    In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,
    And Arts with thy sweet graces graced be.
        But thou art all my art, and dost advance
        As high as learning, my rude ignorance.

                                        (Sonnet 78)

            The sonnet criticises the poetry of the ‘Alien pens’, and simultaneously demonstrates the logical conditions for mythic poetry. It introduces a Muse to add to the 9 Muses who are associated with the philosophically inconsistent mythological poetry of the past. The Poet’s awareness of the conditions that make the Alien’s poetry philosophically inadequate enables his own expression to be consistently mythic. The Poet demonstrates that he knows the conditions for the mythic possibility by structuring the sonnet to reflect the relation between the sexual and the erotic.
            The erotic pun on ‘pen’, the allusion to the sexual eye in ‘thine eyes’, the recognition of the significance of increase in ‘and born of thee’, the comparison of learning to an erotic ‘high’, and the reference to the Poet’s supposedly lowly source of inspiration in increase in ‘my rude ignorance’, all contribute to the mythic effect. A Poet of mythic understanding appreciates the logical implication of the relation between the female and the male. This is the basic distinction between the Poet’s Muse and the 9 Muses of the Alien Poets.
            The Poet’s Muse appears again in sonnet 79. His Muse is ‘sick’ because his poetry seems inferior to the polished verse of the Alien Poets.

    Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
    My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,
    But now my gracious numbers are decayed,
    And my sick Muse doth give an other place.

    I grant (sweet love) thy lovely argument
    Deserves the travail of a worthier pen,
    Yet what of thee thy Poet doth invent,
    He robs thee of, and pays it thee again,
    He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word,
    From thy behaviour, beauty doth he give
    And found it in thy cheek: he can afford
    No praise to thee, but what in thee doth live.

        Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
        Since what he owes thee, thou thy self dost pay.
                                        (Sonnet 79)

            While the Poet grants the youth the right to be flattered by a ‘worthier pen’ he argues that praise of the youth’s appearance is no substitute for an acknowledgement of his role in the processes of life. The erotic allusions in ‘pen’ and ‘cheek’ and the recognition that the qualities apparent in the youth are associated with the continuation of life (‘and found it in thy cheek...but what in thee doth live’) introduce the awareness on the part of the Poet of the logical relation of the sexual and the erotic required for mythic verse.
            The next two sonnets, 80 and 81, are a logically connected pair. Together they consider the logical conditions for mythic expression. The first line makes it clear the Poet is consciously addressing the issue of writing.

    O how I faint when I of you do write,
    Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
    And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
    To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.
    But since your worth (wide as the Ocean is)
    The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
    My saucy bark (inferior far to his)
    On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
    Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
    Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride,
    Or (being wracked) I am a worthless boat,
    He of tall building, and of goodly pride.

        Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
        The worst was this, my love was my decay.
                                        (Sonnet 80)

    Or I shall live your Epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I (once gone) to all the world must die,
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie,
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,
    And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,
    When all the breathers of this world are dead,
        You still shall live (such virtue hath my Pen)
        Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

                                        (Sonnet 81)

            The first quatrain and the couplet address the relation between ‘praise’ of appearance and love based in a regard for life. The second and third quatrains give full expression to the erotic in a series of images that acknowledge the type of desire expressed in the verse of the Alien. As the Poet’s love is based on more than desire, in that it recognises the sexual as the source of desire, he accepts the possibility that the Alien Poet will overly impress the youth. The second sonnet addresses the issue of immortality. The youth will have a monument in the Poet’s verse but only if ‘eyes not yet created’ shall be alive to breathe the words. The increase argument is again prior to the desire for a consistent mythic expression.
            Sonnet 82 states that the youth is not ‘married’ to the Poet’s Muse. Marriage in this context is the meeting of true minds, as expressed in sonnet 116. The youth can use his 9 parts to combine with the 1 of the Mistress to achieve the status of the Poet’s Muse. The Poet’s Muse thereby anchors the 9 Muses of the youth in nature and the increase argument.

    I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
    And therefore mayst without attaint o’er-look
    The dedicated words which writers use
    Of their fair subject, blessing every book.
    Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hew,
    Finding thy worth a limit past my praise,
    And therefore art enforced to seek anew,
    Some fresher stamp of the time bettering days.
    And do so love, yet when they have devised,
    What strained touches Rhetoric can lend,
    Thou truly fair, wert truly sympathised,
    In true plain words, by thy true telling friend.
        And their gross painting might be better used,
        Where cheeks need blood, in thee it is abused.

                                        (Sonnet 82)

            Again writing is the central issue of the sonnet. The Poet suggests that if the youth sides with inferior Poets then his ‘worth’ will be the subject of no more than ‘strained touches of Rhetoric’. The eroticism is heightened in the couplet where the Alien Poets are accused of lacking blood in their ‘cheeks’ whereas the youth, with his potential for increase, needs none.
            The respective qualities of the Poet and Alien Poet’s writing are the subject of sonnet 83.

    I never saw that you did painting need,
    And therefore to your fair no painting set,
    I found (or thought I found) you did exceed,
    The barren tender of a Poet’s debt:
    And therefore have I slept in your report,
    That you your self being extant well might show,
    How far a modern quill doth come too short,
    Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow,
    This silence for my sin you did impute,
    What shall be most my glory being dumb.
    For I impair not beauty being mute,
    When others would give life, and bring a tomb.
        There lives more life in one of your fair eyes,

        Than both your Poets can in praise devise.
                                        (Sonnet 83)

            The logical relation between writing and the erotic is particularly evident where the Poet suggests the ‘modern quill’ or penis of inferior Poets ‘doth come too short’. And at the end of the third quatrain the Poet reiterates the logical relation between immortality (the ‘tomb’) and the ‘life’ of which there is more ‘in one of your fair eyes’ (read penis) than either he or the Alien Poets ‘can devise’. The constant focus on the logical issues for a consistent mythic expression is the significant feature of these sonnets.
            Sonnet 84 mirrors the organisation of the whole sequence to the Master Mistress. The first quatrain paraphrases the increase argument of sonnets 1 to 14. The youth will remain ‘alone’ with himself if he doesn’t use the capacity of his ‘store’ to ‘example where his equal grew’. (Most editors change the meaning of line 2 by removing the comma after ‘alone’. With the comma, ‘that you alone, are you’ reads: ‘if you stay single, you will remain alone’. Without the comma, ‘that you alone are you’, reads: ‘there is nobody else like you’. The change from criticism to flattery is a classic instance of the bias against the inherent meaning of the original.)

    Who is it that says most, which can say more,
    Than this rich praise, that you alone, are you,
    In whose confine immured is the store,
    Which should example where your equal grew,

    Lean penury within that Pen doth dwell,
    That to his subject lends not some small glory,
    But he that writes of you, if he can tell,
    That you are you, so dignifies his story.
    Let him but copy what in you is writ,
    Not making worse what nature made so clear,

    And such a counter-part shall fame his wit,
    Making his style admired everywhere.
        You to your beauteous blessings add a curse,
        Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse.
                                        (Sonnet 84)

            Quatrains two and three then consider the consequences, for the lesser poet, of not appreciating the significance of the increase argument. The Poet accuses the ‘Pen’ of the lesser poet of ‘lean penury’, or unproductive barrenness. The Alien Poet’s facility to ‘copy’ the youth, ‘not making worse what nature made so clear’, can have the unhappy consequence of making the youth fond of ‘praise’, so making his ‘praises worse’. The erotic pun on the ‘Pen’ that ‘lends not some small glory’ ensures the presence of the sexual/ erotic dynamic so critical to mythic expression.
            Sonnet 85 revisits the relation between the Poet’s ‘tongue-tied’ Muse and the 9 Muses of the Alien Poets. While the lesser Poets praise the youth with ‘precious phrase’ the Poet would rather say nothing. The quality of his love, based in the logic of increase, cannot be adequately expressed in verse.

    My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
    While comments of your praise richly compiled,
    Reserve their Character with golden quill,
    And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.
    I think good thoughts, whilst other write good words,

    And like unlettered clerk still cry Amen,
    To every Hymn that able spirit affords,
    In polished form of well refined pen.
    Hearing you praised, I say ’tis so, ’tis true,
    And to the most of praise add something more,
    But that is in my thought, whose love to you
    (Though words come hind-most) holds his rank before.
        Then others, for the breath of words respect,
        Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

                                        (Sonnet 85)

            Again the relation between appearance and love is central to the ability of the Poet to write mythic verse. The lesser Poets merely recite the praises as if they were singing hymns by heart without meaning. In a variation on the erotics of the pen, the ‘golden quill’ of the Alien Poets is an elaborate but afunctional penis. If, as the couplet concludes, the Poet was to put the ‘love’ in his thoughts into words, it would then be apparent that the lesser Poets ‘respect the breath of words’ and not their substance. The Poet’s unspoken thoughts speak ‘in effect’ about the unspeakable, the youth’s living potential.
            Sonnet 86 is the final of the Alien Poet group. In it the Poet not only combines eroticism, the relation of appearance and love, and the issue of immortality, he dismisses two traditional sources of inspiration as irrelevant to his mythic insight. The first quatrain considers pride the principal attraction of the inferior Poets ‘great verse’ with the youth as their ‘prize’. But it concludes that the billowing fullness of their proud verse makes a ‘tomb’ of the ‘womb wherein they grew’ or increased.

    Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
    Bound for the prize of (all-too-precious) you,
    That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
    Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
    Was it his spirit by spirits taught to write,

    Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
    No, neither he, nor his compeers by night
    Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
    He nor that affable familiar ghost
    Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
    As victors of my silence cannot boast,
    I was not sick of any fear from thence.
        But when your countenance filled up his line,
        Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

                                        (Sonnet 86)

            Then, in turn, the Poet dismisses inspiration from any form of immortal being, good or bad, and from the Muse or ‘affable familiar ghost’. These entities have no part in the development of the Poet’s ‘ripe thoughts’. The couplet reveals that the Poet was ‘enfeebled’ when he saw the way in which the youth’s ‘countenance filled up (the Alien Poet’s) line’. He realised there was a quality in the youth neither he nor the Alien Poet could express. They both ‘lacked’ the power to depict in verse the continuation of life. The life force in the youth, or the potential for increase, was absent from the depictions.
            Shake-speares Sonnets presents the realisation that life is prior to poetry. The increase argument, missing from every other book of poetry, acknowledges that the Poet’s verse ‘lacks the matter’ to create a new life. The erotic is not equivalent to the sexual. All a Poet can do is write in the knowledge that, at best, he can ‘fill up his line’ with the youth’s ‘countenance’. The appreciation of the limitations of poetry distinguishes the profound imagination in Shakespeare’s verse from that of inferior Poets.
            Much of the confusion that surrounds the interpretation of the Alien Poet sonnets is generated by the expectation that Shakespeare gained inspiration from a youth with whom he had a homoerotic relationship, and with a well-bred woman or Mistress based away from Stratford in London. When viewed from the vantage of the Sonnet philosophy such speculation is unnecessary, as the youth as Master Mistress represents masculine adolescence and is at least partially a reflection of Shakespeare’s own youthful persona. Similarly the Mistress, who confirmed for Shakespeare the significance of the increase dynamic, need be no other than Anne Hathaway, the only woman punningly alluded to in the set (sonnet 145).

    4.25     The mythic numerology

    As with every other aspect of the Sonnets, the numerological relationships support the philosophic role of the Poet. The numbers associated with the Poet and nature precisely represent their logical relationship. The Poet, as 145, is a unity, but a less complex unity than nature’s 154. The possibility of the Poet appreciating the relation between nature and the female/male dynamic, and realising its consequences for mythic expression, is evident in the numbers they share, the 1, 4, and 5. The logical impossibility of the Poet comprehending the whole of nature is evident in their respective configurations, 145, and 154.
            In the arrangement of the Sonnets, there is further recognition of the inability of the Poet to comprehend nature other than in part. If 145 sonnets are assigned to the Poet, and the location, form, and content of sonnet 145 associate the Poet with the number 145, then he is connected from sonnet 1, at the beginning of the sequence to the youth, through to sonnet 145. Likewise, it can be argued that the location of sonnet 10, the sonnet that introduces the Poet as ‘I’, connects him from sonnet 10 to the other end of the Sonnets at sonnet 154. The second option associates him with the end of the Mistress sequence.
            The Poet appreciates that it is possible to be connected both ways to nature at the same time. The two possibilities are consistent with the choice the Master Mistress has to make between returning to nature directly, or returning through the Mistress in the process of increase. As a being who has realised the logical priority of the sexual, the Poet’s understanding is connected to both the beginning of the Master Mistress sequence and the end of the Mistress sequence. Unlike nature, the source of the sexual possibility, the Poet can be only male or female. The logical division of female and male allows the Poet to operate both the feminine and masculine components of his being but in a way that is always in tension in keeping with the logical duality of sexuality. The tension between the feminine and the masculine possibilities for the Poet also recognises that either female or male could be a mythic Poet.
            The capacity of the Poet to be aware of the basic constituents of nature without comprehending the complexity of nature is inherent in the relation of female and male. The Poet as a unity (9+1 = 10 = 1+0 = 1) combines the numbering of the Master Mistress (126 = 9) and Mistress (28 = 2+8 = 10 = 1+0 = 1), because together they contribute to his ability to connect logically with the complete human dynamic. As female and male derive from nature and as the Poet acknowledges the logic of the dynamic, then he has as direct access to the state of nature as is possible for any human being.

    4.26     The Poet’s complete logic

    At the end of Part 3 on truth and beauty the Nature template was presented. It represented diagrammatically the logical relation between nature, the sexual and the erotic (Diag 41).

    Nature Template

    DIAG 41: Nature template

            In the terminology of the Sonnets (Diag 42),

    Nature Template Sonnets

    DIAG 42: Nature template (Sonnets)

            The mythic Poet is the person who comprehends the logical relations between the elements of the template both as the condition of the external world and as representative of personae with the correct multiplicity between the world and the mind of the Poet. The Nature template represents both the Poet’s world and his understanding of the world. The possibility of deriving the template implies the existence of a Poet who comprehends its logic and can give it expression in the arguments and poetry of his Sonnets.
            Shakespeare found the means to represent the relationship between the Poet and his world. By giving the Poet the number 145 he indicated his logical relation to nature and to the Mistress and the Master Mistress. The diagrammatic representations of the relationship given earlier (see 3.8) present the logical status of the Poet within nature. And the relationship was so basic to Shakespeare’s mythic level of expression that he altered the traditional form of Dedication to represent in encrypted form the state of logical multiplicity that exists between the Poet’s mind and the world about (see 5.2).

    4.27     The logical conditions for any mythic expression

    When writing his plays Shakespeare was no doubt aware of the marked difference between the philosophy that sustained his inspiration and the psychological systems used with contradictory effect by his contemporaries and predecessors. The consistency and variety of his output through the early 1590s until 1613 is based on the unwavering application of the basic principles of the philosophy. The penetrating exploration of the various modes of drama and the inclusion of plays within plays and argumentative sequences within the overall argument of a play was a consequence of a philosophic understanding not constrained by a compensatory dependence on form or style.
            While the dramatic depth of Shakespeare’s plays was recognised in his lifetime, he determined, at some time between 1590 and 1609, to give a definitive expression to his philosophy in the Sonnets. Other poets before him had presented their beliefs or ideas in the form of poetry but, because of the inconsistencies in their thinking, they did so psychologically. Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Spenser’s Fairy Queen, Phillip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella, for instance, were largely allegorical, and usually written in defence of the author’s beliefs. And, typically the characters and places were given names derived from literature or life.
            Shakespeare’s first attempt to present his philosophy systematically was in the two long poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece. The poems contain references to the issues of increase and use the relation between the sexual and the erotic eventually articulated definitively in the precise philosophy of the Sonnets (see 2.19).
            The distinctiveness of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, when compared with the sequences of sonnets written during the period when such writing was fashionable (the 1580s and 90s), suggests he had a different intention for his set from the beginning. Once he decided to present his philosophy in the form of sonnets in the mid-1590s, his earlier experiments with long poems and even with plays such as Love’s Labour’s Lost were superseded. The sonnet sequences produced at the end of the sixteenth century would have provided him with the basic form within which to develop an effective philosophic statement. While other sonneteers reworked their romantic sequences even until 1620, well after the sonnet fad had run its course, by 1609 Shakespeare had produced an unprecedented achievement.
            Shakespeare’s appreciation of the opportunity presented by the sonnet form, the abstraction of the philosophy from his poems and plays, and the differentiation of his philosophic position from any other, was followed by a further realisation. His philosophic position was prior to, or more basic than, any articulated before. It was more consistent and coherent than the apologetic metaphysics that passed for philosophy in the work of his predecessors.
            The inadequacy of the allegorical form and the unnecessary identification with characters and places from a particular period in time (the Italy of Ovid and Tarquin) would have led Shakespeare to create philosophic entities such as nature, the Mistress, the Master Mistress and the Poet. Other than for a few oblique references, he avoided proper names and classical associations in the definitive text of Q. Nature (the sovereign mistress), the Mistress, the Master Mistress, and the Poet, are the only designations needed to articulate a consistent philosophy at the mythic level. The generic names indicate Shakespeare was aware his mythic philosophy transcended the need for mythological naming evident in the religious beliefs of Greek, Hebrew, and Christian thinkers.
            Despite the absence of mythological characters, the Sonnets are acknowledged for their evocation of the quiddity of life explored in mythologies and for their expression of the dynamic of love in a way unparalleled in literature. The development of a set of Sonnets to express a consistent philosophy at a mythic level from the real life experiences of the author in a way that maintains the unequalled sense of personal experience without limiting the profundity of the insights distinguishes Shakespeare’s philosophy from any other. The allusions to himself (as ‘Will’) to Anne Hathaway (as ‘hate away’ and ‘and’) and to other persons such as Greene (112), Jaggard (sonnet 99), etc., show a person in command of his personal life and with a mind at one with the mythic logic of his art.
            Traditional Sonnet literature has made only faltering progress beyond autobiographical or mythological interpretations. The autobiographical remnants in the text are magnified by some (John Dover Wilson, A. L. Rowse) to become the complete content of the Sonnets, or the mythological or theological hints have been focused on in an attempt to account for the sense of ‘mythical’ depth (Ted Hughes). Whereas the second possibility recognises the depth of Shakespeare’s understanding but misinterprets its significance, the first possibility does not bear commenting upon.
            In Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being Ted Hughes lifts a device out of the early poems, based on the mythological roles of Venus and Adonis and the Boar, to characterise the sublimated mythic logic of the later plays. When Hughes considers the Sonnets he attempts to isolate the female and the male in terms of these mythological characters. The male becomes Adonis and the female the mother goddess or Venus. The inadequacy of this level of interpretation is evident in his dismissal of the increase sonnets as ‘persuasions of hired labour’, and his determination that sonnets 116 and 129 are the key to understanding the whole set. He ignores the role of the Poet and the priority of nature.
            Hughes’ mythological analysis falls short of recognising the philosophic basis of the mythic in the Sonnets. He dresses the Sonnet characters in classical garb and dresses the characters in the plays in like manner. His accomplishment is in his recognition that there is a mythological level of operation in the plays of Shakespeare. His error, which ironically he is quite open about in the introduction to his book, is to leave aside a consideration of the ‘realism’ in Shakespeare’s work in favour of a singular focus on the mythological. His conclusion, not surprisingly, only expresses one side of the dramatic dynamic that characterises Shakespeare’s work, and even that limited conclusion is distorted.
            The Sonnets, rather than expressing any one mythological sensibility or cultural disposition, such as Neo-Platonist or Christian or Hindi, articulate the logical conditions for the expression of any mythic possibility. The Sonnets simultaneously state the logical conditions and give them mythic expression. The self-reflexivity required for any artistic expression is lifted to a self-reflexivity toward the highest form of human expression, the mythic. The Sonnets are unique in the literatures of the world for the precise and comprehensive expression of this possibility at a mythic level.
            Shakespeare’s ability to express the mythic possibility in consummate poetry also makes his Sonnets and hence his plays and poems unique. The Sonnets articulate the logical relation between the body and the mind, or between increase and truth and beauty by resolutely incorporating the increase argument in the poetics of the set. The plays, as with the sonnets after sonnet 19, take the increase argument as a given that drives their dramatic content.
            The form of the Sonnets allows for the contemplation of a highly structured philosophy, and the form of the plays provides for a less systematic presentation of the same material for the stage. The characters in the Sonnets are not theatrical, just as the characters in the plays are not unnamed, unplaced, and undressed, unvoiced, philosophic personages or personae. The Shakespearean literature has been more concerned with naming and dressing the Sonnet characters and less concerned with appreciating the philosophic connections between the inherent arguments in the Sonnets and the way they have been expressed in the mythic logic of the plays and poems.
            Shakespeare was able to write plays of patent mythic substance with a sense of reality that belies their mythic basis. There are no plays, or even passages in the plays, that imply an unquestioned belief in the mythological or magical, or that support Hughes’ suggestion Shakespeare drew upon a belief in an occult Neoplatonist theophany.
            In all Shakespeare’s works only Venus and Adonis and The Phoenix and the Turtle of the poems, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Troylus and Cressida of the plays, are based on mythological subject matter. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comic parody of the literalness of traditional beliefs, while Troilus and Cressida contextualises mythological priorities within the natural dynamic. Similarly The Phoenix and the Turtle is a parody of an idealistic Platonic allegory. Written in 1601, its ideas demonstrate Shakespeare had developed the basic components of his philosophy at an early stage. Venus and Adonis, likewise, adapts a mythical Ovidian tale to express Shakespeare’s basic insight about the logical significance of the priority of the female, increase and the role of the erotic.
            The Sonnets articulate the connection of the mythic to the world that enables an expression of the mythic basis of all mythological possibilities. Hughes’ decision to separate the mythical and ‘realism’, then, must have the consequence of producing an analysis at odds with the dynamic of life. His disappointment at the way in which The Tempest ends, and his inability to understand the Sonnets, follows from his narrowed focus on the mythological predecessors of Shakespeare’s works.
            The inclination to distort the logic of the mythic possibility is inured in the cultures of the last few millennia. This Part has suggested how the mythic and the erotic are related. Traditional mythologies do not incorporate an increase argument or a self-reflexive Poet in their mythological systems. They all have, though, a highly eroticised expression. The characterisation of the birth of Christ as a divine intercession, the notion of a virgin birth, and the death of Christ on the cross issueless and promising liberation from the birth/death cycle, is intensely erotic. Separated from the logic of the increase argument, though, such mythical beliefs generate moral inconsistencies and periodically disastrous social consequences. In Shakespeare’s Sonnets, poems, and plays, mythic understanding and moral responsibility are inextricably interwoven within a consistent philosophy.
            T. S. Eliot, for one, preferred the opportunistic ethics of Dante’s Divine Comedy. To him it seemed there were no philosophy and no morals in Shakespeare’s work, or at best a ‘rag bag’ philosophy. Shakespeare’s logically consistent nature/sexual dynamic and his coherent ethics and aesthetics (truth and beauty) were not apparent to Eliot because of the prejudices inherent in his beliefs.
            The preconditions for a mythic possibility articulated in the Sonnets enable a complete expression of the relation between the erotics of myth and the sexual dynamic. The natural logic of the Sonnets establishes the correct multiplicity between the body and the mind, and enables a consistent mythic expression. The Sonnets establish the correct logical relation between the sexual and the erotic to create the possibility of a mythic level of expression. Shakespeare demonstrates in his play and poems the extraordinary benefits of adhering to natural logic.

    4.28     Models of inconsistency

    When Shakespeare worked on his Sonnets and plays he was aware of the logical conditions for writing poetry and drama with enduring content. His insight, due to the consistency of his philosophy, enabled him to see where other writers were inconsistent. In the plays this is demonstrated by the plays within plays and arguments within arguments that mock the pretensions of those who do not have the skill and learning to do justice to their expectations.
            The 9 Alien Poet sonnets (78 to 86) fulfill a similar function. They point to deficiencies in the work of lesser poets. As an acquaintance of these poets, the Master Mistress is susceptible to the same inconsistencies. While the Master Mistress’ natural qualities inspire the Poet, his reluctance to appreciate the source of the Poet’s consistent art makes him vulnerable to the praise of inferior Poets.
            The relationship between the consistent philosophy presented in this exposition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the systems of thought his work critiqued for their inconsistency can be demonstrated by illustrating the way in which they distort the Nature template. When the priorities of the template are not observed contradiction is the inevitable consequence.
            When Wittgenstein claimed ethics and aesthetics were the same he confounded truth and beauty. When Spinoza equates God and nature and attempts to derive a consistent ethics he confounds the state of nature with the sensation of the ideal in the mind. Aquinas attempted to redress the contradictions in his beliefs by taking greater account of the natural world. He, though, like Kant, was not willing to concede the priority of the female over the male God.
            Philosophers, in their attempts to make their faith consistent with the processes of nature, have not addressed the logic of the sexual/erotic dynamic. In its denial of the body, belief in the Christian mythology reverses the Nature template (Diag 43).

    God template

    DIAG 43: God template

            Shakespeare corrects the error of believing in such mythologies by restoring the priority of the sexual and the erotic (Diag 44).

    Nature Template

    DIAG 44: Nature template

            The contradictions apparent in Reformation England during Shakespeare’s lifetime would have confirmed his philosophic realisation that the Christianity of his day completely inverted the natural order for the sake of expediency, that is, for purely psychological or socio/political reasons. As a mythology, the inverted logic is brilliant but as a view of the world it is so contrary to natural logic that no explanation or justification is adequate. The inability of the apologetic tradition to appreciate the philosophy of Shakespeare as presented in the Sonnets is a direct result of an unquestioned adherence to a mythology inappropriately substituted for natural logic.
            The essays in Volume 4 consider some of the consequences for thinkers who are not able to free themselves from the reversal of the Nature template.

    4.29     Conclusion

    The mythic level of expression receives its most exacting formulation in Shake-speares Sonnets. By accounting for the principal components in human experience through nature at large, human nature, and the nature of the mind, Shakespeare is consistently able to write poems and plays at a mythic depth.
            To be able to write drama at a mythic level over a period of years and not fall into inconsistency or require imaginary beings such as gods and goddesses Shakespeare adheres rigorously to natural logic. He accepts the priority of nature, he accepts the logical status of nature as female, he accepts the priority of the female over the male, he accepts the requirement to increase as the logical condition for human persistence, he accepts the priority of increase over truth and beauty. Consequently, he accepts the distinction between the sexual and the erotic, which leads to the realisation that all human expression, all poetry, all drama is logically erotic or not capable of producing offspring.
            The logical preconditions correct the distortions and contradictions that have accumulated in orthodox thinking over the last few millennia. The vivid eroticism of traditional mythologies combined with presumptuous claims about the nature of the world have created beliefs at odds with natural logic. Shakespeare provides the logical corrective for traditional apologetic thought. When Galileo turned the telescope to the heavens, he corrected millennia of misinformation about the state of earth in space. When Darwin voyaged around the world and wrote of his discoveries, he corrected millennia of misinformation about the state of life on the planet. Shakespeare, 300 years before Darwin and contemporary with Galileo, had already corrected the illogical misinformation about the state of the human mind in its body.
            This book reveals for the first time Shakespeare’s achievement in all its logic and poetry 400 years after he wrote it down in his Sonnets. It may take another 400 years before orthodoxy completely forswears its rejection of the natural world and accepts the natural logic of humankind. In the meantime, Shakespeare’s pen has produced the greatest plays ever written and the finest love poetry, which provide a resource from which humankind can continue to develop its potential.

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    Contents and Introduction   +   Nature and the sexual dynamic   +   The increase argument
    Truth and beauty   +   The logic of myth   +   The cryptic numerology   +   Appendices   +   Glossary

    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005