Page 164 REFLECTIONS AND REPORTS They say this town is full of cozenage, As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye, Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, Soul-killing witches that deform the body, Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks, And many such-like liberties of sin. âWilliam Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors Cedric J. Robinson Over four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare evoked the specter of public spellbinders: ânimble jugglers,â âdark-working sorcerers,â and âsoul-killing witchesâ who âdeceived the eye,â âchanged minds,â and âdeformed the body.â In this, the first of his comedies, Shakespeare summoned the ghost of a corrupted city, a deformed body politic owed to âdisguised cheatersâ and âprating mountebanks.â He was, of course, obliquely referring to Elizabethan London, a town immersed in disputatious politics, which swept over and implicated Shakespeare and others constituting Englandâs cultural intelligentsia. And Londonâs theater, a principal site of public opinion forming, contentious elite patronage, and artifice, translated the stateâs interests into beguiling entertainment. In all these matters, it is tempting to transfer Shakespeareâs insights to the circumstances of present-day American politics and the dominant media and journalistic cultures that function to conceal that disturbing reality from the American public. Historically in America, national crises have
Radical History Review – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2003
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