Sunday, February 05, 2006

Creators and creations

Do we remember Hamlet because of Shakespeare or Shakespeare because of Hamlet? Without the characters he created, Shakespeare would be one more impresario in the long and glorious history of English theater. Therefore, who is the greater being: Hamlet or Shakespeare? Hamlet continues to this day to give Shakespeare life and relevance. And for his part, Shakespeare has given us Hamlet and others who reveal not only their maker's amazing thoughts, but who reveal to us the universe within ourselves. Has Shakespeare made him or conjured him? What was Shakespeare's relationship with this character? Was he changed by the encounter?

This is not to single out Shakespeare. Other notable artists have done likewise. Plato gave us the very troubling Socrates. The anonymous authors and editors of the great story traditions that are quilted together in the Jewish Scriptures give us a very extraordinary G*d. At the very least, isn't it fair to raise as an ambiguity, purely on naturalistic terms, who makes whom? How were these storytellers and their faithful listening community, who would hold dear the stories, changed by the character of G*d?

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