The Elizabethan/Shakespearean era, spearheaded by the dreaded spymaster Francis Walsingham, was a vipers’ nest of cryptic communications and misdirection. According to the Folger Shakespeare Library, it has been proven unfounded that, say, Sir Francis Bacon (or anyone) left secret codes in Shakespeare’s plays. However, ironically, Bacon is credited for providing the first English summary of the science of ciphers in his famous work The Advancement of Learning. If Bacon was a genius at ciphers, then of course it would have taken four hundred years and a mystically attuned mindset to crack them! When you begin to see these codes disgorge their secrets before your eyes, you’ll understand the levels of hubris that feed the academic mind and block the advancement of truth — if I cannot see or understand it, it cannot possibly exist.
Now it’s your turn to see for yourself and decide.
If Shakespeare had been as brazen as Tolstoy, we’d never have heard of him or his works. When he started writing, the subject matter beneath his subtext had been ruthlessly extirpated for fifteen hundred years. Now, the sleeping beauty within has had to wait another four hundred years for her prince.
It verges on the crass to use ‘code’ to define how Shakespeare protects universal, mystical secrets from extirpation. It’s an inadequate description for the way he simultaneously hides and flaunts his dangerous heresies, blasphemies and sacrileges, how he flips the finger to the authorities and tyrants who remain oblivious to his sedition. It demeans the fecund genius of how he transforms the very Word of God Himself into thirty-two iterations of the forbidden truth of the Grail, like an ancient palimpsest where the original truth is overwritten by an innocuous fabrication. But ‘code’ it is, in some ways, although the word doesn’t do justice to his plethora of cryptic devices. Whatever we want to call it, the myriad wordplays, double entendres, puns, anagrams and homonyms that I am about to reveal suggest the very hand of the divine at play.
These vignettes, pastiches, tableaux, parodies — whatever you want to call them — are so subtle and so prolific they are virtually impossible to count. But, like grains of sand on a beach, they make the subtext, and thus the oomph of the play, what it is. My way of discerning them is to ask inwardly for what or who a scene or character represents, listen to whatever the answer is and, however unlikely it seems, keep asking, listening to and following the inner directives. In so doing, I have discovered seven ‘tools’ in Shakespeare’s toolkit — seven ways in which he hides true meaning ready for us to discover.
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