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Richard iii -Scorpio Ascendant- and Bones of Contention

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:01 pm    Post subject: Richard iii -Scorpio Ascendant- and Bones of Contention Reply with quote

It is easy to deny Richard iii's guilt. His earliest detractors have confused the issue with superstitious nonsense. They said he was an example of what happened when a child was born 'with Scorpio Ascendant.' Astrology is a form of magical thinking. But even if it was valid it could not apply here. Richard was born under Libra!

It would be consistent with Richard's MO if he had poisoned his wife Ann Nevill, and he had a motive. But the only evidence presented was that she died during a total solar eclipse. Shakespeare recounted the current belief that eclipses occurred when exalted persons died in untoward circumstances.

Then there was the belief that his crooked character was handily symbolised by a crooked body. We shouldn't laugh at our ancestors here. Only a few years ago, a friend was regaling me with her paranoid belief that a mutual friend was imperceptibly breaking into her house to move things around. She exclaimed ''I don't trust him! He's got green eyes and crooked teeth and he's a Scorpio!''

Richard's portraits had demonstrably been altered to emphasise uneven shoulders. It was easy to blame Thomas More for the hunchback story. When Katherine of Aragon arrived in England to marry Arthur Tudor, More had had an intolerant outburst about servants in her cavalcade. They were 'barefoot hunchbacked Ethiopians like refugees from Hell.' More wasn't really much like Robert Bolt's saintly prisoner of conscience.

More and Rows couldn't even agree on which of Richard's shoulders was higher. Later Tudor children were told that Richard was born with teeth and spent two years in his mother's womb. The latter is impossible and is not even consistent with Shakepeare's line that he was sent before his time 'into this breathing world scarce half made up.'

The force of disablist prejudice is so strong that it can even be used to smear those who are not disabled, and it really looked as if this had happened here. After all Lytton Strachey said that Thomas Arnold had one leg shorter than the other which was quite untrue to make him a figure of fun.

In his awful book which has been called the 'second assassination of John Lennon', Albert Goldman stated that Lennon was dyslexic and 'so unco-ordinated as to be virtually spastic.' This is a biographer's wording, not mine, and I apologise if anyone is offended by it.

it may be that a deformed back is particularly associated with evil in popular culture. Even attempts to dispel the prejudice can be counter productive. The novel, 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' focused on Quasimodo's humanity and nobility. But a black and white film of the same name made him such a terrifying monster that it was banned in Britain.If you develop a growth on your back, you will have to get used to strangers coming up and asking you if you are a bellringer. They will all think they are being original.

In 'The Mill on the Floss', Tom Tulliver is offended when his sensitive schoolmate Philip Wakeham doesn't appreciate tactless allusions to his deformed back. Tom is a narcissist who 'thinks himself unable to do anything except what is right.' So he showers Philip in disablist insults and storms off. He is furious with Philip but thinks that's all you can expect from a hunchback.

Denise Robertson supports disability rights but had a bit of fun on the Millennium 'This Morning.' In fifteenth century costume, she advised viewers to leave their children with 'a registered child minder and not a psychopathic hunchback.'

It was less fun when a woman collapsed dying in the street. She had a deformed back and had been bullied for most of her life. A former soldier rushed up. Not quite a good Samaritan, he urinated on her as his friends filmed him on their phones. When prosecuted, he said he didn't know why he did it. There was no rational reason, only a cultural one.

The bones in the car park show that Richard did have scoliosis. He had acquired it after puberty. Scoliosis sufferers looked at his twisted spine and winced in sympathy.But Philippa Langely was anxious to say that scoliosis was not a disability. It was a condition. JFK had had scoliosis which showed how respectable it was. It's like saying 'It's not an estate. It's a development.'

Some people said those who derided another Plantagenet as 'Crouchback' were guilty of character assassination. Character assassination? Hello? So is it a crime to have a crooked back?

If there is any connection between scoliosis and Richard's crimes, it is that he was embittered by pride and prejudice. It would have been a self fulfilling prophecy as it were. And that's an argument for treating people with respect.

But perhaps, that's just what he would have been like anyway. At school, I was bullied about my magnificent but imperfect physique. Immediately afterwards I went to university and was indirectly bullied by a manipulative student who had had polio. Other people with disabilities have been kind ad helpful. Disability is consistent with any kind of personality. Let's not 'be wedded forever to 'fear yoked eternally to brutishness.'

Last edited by marianneh on Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:57 pm    Post subject: Bigots not liars Reply with quote

It is no wonder people saw Shakepeare's Richard iii as a travesty. The Bard didn't specify the age of the actors who should play Richard but they are often older men. Laurence Olivier made Richard look well on into middle age. But Richard was not yet 33 at his death.

Shakespeare makes Richard out to be a psychopath, an exception to the idea that no man is an island. He makes him say something like 'I have no brother;I am like no brother.'

The detective in his hospital bed in Josephine Tey's 'Daughter of Time' has a problem with the idea that Richard could have been a pantomime villain. He said no one really behaved like that.

But I contend that they do, and you can see evidence of it all over the place in -say- Fred West, Robert Mugabe and even Jimmy Savile. The bones in the car park show that Richard did have a twisted spine as his peers said. If they were crazy enough to hold that against him, they were bigots - bigots but not liars. And if they were not lying about that, it makes it less likely that they were lying about other things.

The Welsh poet Dafydd LLwyd comments unpleasantly about Richard's dragging leg which would have been caused by scoliosis. Llwyd also calls Richard a Jew which he was obviously not, but it was a throw away insult for Llwyd. Welshmen can be bigots. We will have to learn to live with that. But we can't reasonably fault Llwyd for going on to talk darkly about the innocent boys Richard had ruthlessly slain.

It was not Richard's back that was the danger sign but his charm. If a person has such overwhelming charm that their personality seems to fill the whole room, they are probably a psychopath, a sociopath or a narcissist.

And that's where the detective had a point about life not being like a pantomime. And it's why conspiracy theorists are wrong to talk about Satanists causing the child abuse epidemic we hear so much about. We are beginning to be aware that child abusers are usually attractive and appealing people, often priests, teachers, doctors and charity workers.

Evil doesn't advertise itself in an obvious way with horns or even a hump. In that sense, life is not like a pantomime.Burglars don't carry sacks clearly marked 'swag'. Advertising your evil will get you nowhere.
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