Armado’s Top Ten Mistakes


Note:  While one endeavors to be charitable – and I feel I have presented arguments as neutrally as possible elsewhere on this website – some of Armado’s arguments are so bad, and so obviously borne of his intense desire to be right (rather than out of any sort of quest for objective truth), that they are hard to describe without making normative judgments about the argument and perhaps Armado himself.  This document may therefore seem more judgmental than some of the others and for that reason is only available to those who have chosen to look at the threads in the first place.


1.  Armado’s unshakeable belief that the “innovation” in Hamlet 2.2 was merely the emergence of the child actors.  While this view is held by some, most scholars are troubled by the fact that the second quarto (Q2) – believed by most to be the most authoritative text of Hamlet – contains a reference to an “innovation” but not to children.  See discussion in Paper at pp. 65-66 and accompanying notes.


2.  Armado’s attempt to deal with the problem noted in (1) above by insisting that the first quarto (Q1) and the Folio (F) (both of which contain references to children) are the only reliable versions of the play.  Few scholars would consider Q1 reliable, and most scholars believe that Q2 is more reliable even than F.  If one caught Armado in a lucid moment when he didn’t need Q1 to be authoritative, I’m sure he’d agree that it isn’t; the 1-2 sequence shows how the result that Armado wants drives him to push ungrateful facts to the side in favor of imaginary – and incorrect – facts that support his view.


3.  Armado’s insistence that the Hamlet argument is based on the same “worthless methods” as the Measure for Measure argument.  Obviously, part of the problem here is that Armado doesn’t understand the “methodology” of the Measure for Measure argument, much less how to evaluate it.  But putting that aside (it’s answered fully in my posts in the thread), the idea that the Hamlet argument fails because of its “methodology” is ludicrous.  As explained elsewhere (Birdseye View -- Hamlet), the Hamlet argument merely proposes consistent meanings for a handful of lines that seem more satisfactory than the various alternatives that have been proposed (where the meaning of the line is in general dispute) or the “accepted explanation” (where it isn’t).  As far as I can tell, this is the “methodology” employed by everyone – including the editors of the plays – who has ever written a footnote or a comment on a line of Shakespeare’s text. 


4.  Armado’s repeated assertion that governments engaging in debasements announced to the public that they were doing so.  This is simply not the case, as should be obvious in view of the fact that an announced debasement would defeat the very purpose of the debasement.  See Paper at p. 96 n.140.


5.  Armado’s contention that the paper’s argument requires the reader to believe that every Renaissance reference to a “picture” is actually a reference to a coin (see Armado’s first Sept. 8 post), and that every reference to a Saint is a reference to a contemporary martyr (see Armado’s Sept. 6 post).  He says this so forcefully, and spends so much time on it (e.g., tediously demonstrating the uncontroversial fact that some contemporary references to “pictures” are references to pictures, not coins),  that it is difficult to tell whether this is just another deliberate distortion of the argument, or evidence of an inability to understand it.  These are two examples of a device employed frequently by Armado, i.e.: “if you say X, you must believe Y,” where X is usually a misstatement of what you said, and Y does not necessarily even follow from X, much less than from what you said.  He argued this way in his earlier dispute with Kent about modern criticism (reproduced in “Armado’s Bile”), and in these threads on the “Juliet = angel” question, and in finding an inconsistency between (1) my statement that there was no particular reason for Shakespeare to import the contemporary notion of a miniature portrait into medieval Denmark and (2) my contention that he did in fact import elements from ancient Rome to medieval Denmark.


In any event, it’s evidence that his results-orientation causes him to lose sight of logic as well as truth. 


6.  Circular Arguments


a.         Armado’s distortion and misunderstanding of the difference between a circular argument and circumstantial evidence.  One freely acknowledged “failing” of the Measure for Measure prong of my paper (which is in fact one reason that the Measure for Measure argument comes after the Hamlet argument) is that I cannot independently establish that Shakespeare knew of Juan de Mariana’s views on debasement. Indeed, as acknowledged in the paper and throughout these posts, the first clearly verified publication we have of his views is dated 1605, whereas Measure for Measure was first performed in December 1604, and presumably written some time before that.  My argument at the time of the Shaksper debate was the circumstantial one that many indicia in the play point to Juan de Mariana, and that if the circumstantial case holds, it follows that Shakespeare knew Mariana’s views.  Armado never addressed the circumstantial case, insisting instead that it was perfectly “circular.” 


Of course, it’s not circular.  As a simple example, consider anything that we know or think to be allegorical, such as Joyce’s “Ulysses.”  Suppose we could not establish that Joyce had access to the Odyssey, and that he had died without disclosing whether or not there was any relationship between the works.  At that point, the only thing we would have would be the text.  The conclusion that Joyce knew of the Odyssey would not be “circular,” rather, it would be a conclusion based on the circumstantial evidence of the similarities we see between Ulysses and the Odyssey, combined with such extrinsic evidence as we can gather about Joyce’s interests.  Similarly, the conclusion that Shakespeare knew of Mariana’s views will depend on the strength of the circumstantial case that Shakespeare named MFM’s Mariana for Juan de Mariana, and the extrinsic evidence we can gather about how likely he would have been to do so.


b.         Armado’s distortion of my argument in order to make it fit his mold of a circular argument, as in the following from his Sept. 7 post:  “The reason that Krause suspects that there is a reference to a particular person is because it would fit with his theory of the meaning of the play, but at the same time the only evidence that Krause has for his theory as to the meaning of the play is that it contains these references to particular people.  There is nothing holding up Krause's claims except other claims made by Krause, which themselves are held up by nothing, but the first set of claims.” 


As the paper points out, other scholars have already suggested that Isabella, the Duke, and Lucio represent Elizabeth, James, and Shakespeare respectively, for reasons completely independent of the debasement theory (so it is simply wrong to suggest that my “claims” that these are intentional representations are only held up by my other claims).  For that matter, nearly all editors and many commentators agree that there is substantial coinage and economic imagery in the play (starting with the name “Angelo” and the puns on that name).  The debasement theory merely provides a more specific context for the preexisting economic imagery as well as a unified framework for understanding why Shakespeare chose the representations that others have noticed.


6.  Armado’s repeated statements to the effect that the Measure for Measure debasment theory relies on “time-travel,” or that I am simply making things up in contradiction to known facts.  These extreme statements evidence Armado’s willful inability to acknowledge the possibility that Shakespeare could have known Mariana’s views. 


7.  Armado’s insistence that because the theory is “unfalsifiable” it must be bad, because in science, a theory that is unfalsifiable is bad.  Of course, if unfalsifiability were an absolute requirement of any attempt at literary interpretation, a lot of English professors would be out of work.


8.  Armado’s failure to recognize that his counterarguments commit the precise fallacies that he mistakenly accuses me of committing.  For example, his insistence that my reasoning is circular (or fatally unfalsifiable) becomes amusing when read in the context of his own arguments, including his apparent belief that he had “discovered” a connection between the name “Mariana” and bed tricks because of his discovery of a play named “Fair Em,” in which a “Mariana” is involved in a caper that almost involves a bed trick, albeit in the Isabella role.  Sadly, not only did Armado believe that he had stumbled onto something important, but one of the more gullible members of the list (Parolles) stated the “apparent association of Mariana with bed tricks” as a given in an unrelated thread.


9.  Armado’s enormous expenditure of time and energy in constructing a pointless “counter-allegory” (Sept. 10, first post) by showing that he could map various elements of Measure for Measure to the Catholic-Protestant schism.  Of course, he was merely doing what others (including Ellison, cited in note 105, and Clare Asquith in the recent book Shadowplay) have done before and since – mapped a Shakespearean work onto the vast ocean of information (names, dates, and personalities) that makes up the Catholic-Protestant schism.  It is much easier (as Clare Asquith inadvertently shows) to find parallels between Shakespeare’s work and the huge dataset comprising the schism than the relatively confined universe of debasement.  As I explained to Armado (as usual, receiving no response), the only way to make a persuasive counterallegory would be to show how easy it is to construct a similar and equally persuasive *debasement* allegory from another play.   And even then, it’s quite possible that something like a debasement allegory would have been intentional (as several scholars have argued concerning Troilus and Cressida – a fact that supports, rather than undermines, my theory).


Bonus mistake:  Armado’s sanctimonious insistence that he only became abusive towards me after being “personally attacked” by Kent, who had risen to my defense.  For the record, Armado’s first contribution to the thread labeled my article as a “fantasy concoction” based on a methodology comparable to the “ridiculous and corrupt” methods of the anti-Stratfordians, and accused Kent and me of “suffering from extreme gullibility.”  Kent responded by referring to Armado’s “sour, constricted principles” – an accurate description if ever there was one for his results-oriented reasoning – and compared him facetiously with the well-respected skeptical scholar Richard Levin, none of which rose to the level of a personal attack.  Armado, from then on until stopped by the moderator, repeatedly used the words “garbage,” “idiot[-],” “dishonest-” to describe me and the paper.  He later said he took offense at Kent’s subsequent use of the word “spew” to describe the way that he was spreading his venom (i.e. “garbage,” “idiot-” “dishonest-”) around (a contention that is refuted by chronology of the posts), and that he was reacting in part Kent’s insulting manner in a thread that closed five months before.


The original thread that sparked the Armado-Kent animosity featured a sharp dispute about the merits of modern criticism, with Armado seeming to argue, in a mode that echoes his arguments in the present threads, that if Kent “believes” one piece of modern criticism, he is intellectually obligated to believe it all.


An additional reward for getting this far is that you are now entitled to look at the “Armado’s Bile” page (by clicking here), which distills (to the best of my ability), all of the insults from Armado’s many posts, and also provides an annotated copy of the earlier Armado-Kent dispute.