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Worldview Watch

periodic commentary and analysis on news items from a worldview perspective

 previous issue                                               issue #36  posted 1 /10 / 2014                                           archive of all  issues

 Kennedy, Shakespeare, Conspiracism, Elitism, and Missing the Real Story

in the news:  Both Time and The Economist have recently featured articles about anniversaries to be celebrated this year. Time's January 13 "2014:The Year Ahead"  issue's essay "Keeping the '60s on Life Support" by P.J. O'Rourke laments all the recalling "that awful decade" that noting 50th anniversaries entails. It includes complaints about his November 22 2013 experience "listening to NPR and nothing but the assassination was being discussed" and "the deathless, Keith Richards staying power of the 60s". On a cheerier note, The Economist, in a report by Emma Hogan in its The World in 2014 publication,  reports on plans to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare. 

commentary and analysis (by Stephen P. Cook, project Worldview, Last November it was hard to avoid discussion of the conspiracy theory surrounding the Kennedy assassination.  Over the last five decades seems I've gradually better accepted the official (Warren Commission) version of what happened on November 22, 1963.  But only in the last few years have media reports helped me appreciate what I think is the real story here: Given his outrageous womanizing (see "Jackie and the Girls" by Caitlan Flanagan in The Atlantic June 2012) and degenerative Addison's disease  --and the deception / lies that covered them up--the Kennedy glamour and great man mystique was unsustainable and due to crash anyway! I'd say the focus on the possible conspiracy behind Kennedy's assassination greatly delayed the telling of this story.  

Why has this conspiracy theory hung on so tenaciously for the last 50 years? Of course there is a whole mentality behind why people buy into Conspiracism (theme #36B). Beyond that, I'd say that part of the answer here connects with a perverted aspect of Elitism (theme #20A).  Namely, in celebrating the truly elite-- in wanting to magnify their lives so they stand even higher above ordinary people--seems that some require their deaths to be unusual also. Many  claim Elvis Presley's death was faked and he is still alive. As for JFK, many can't accept that such a high and mighty figure--perhaps the ultimate "royalty" America has produced--was killed by a single, unknown, lone crazy gunman. Seems they need an elaborate conspiracy also involving the powerful and elite--the CIA, FBI, the Vice President, the Mafia, Castro, etc.!  

One can also use William Shakespeare--perhaps the greatest writer/poet of them all, a man who often wrote about the killing of kings--to argue for making this connection between these two worldview themes. Here the conspiracy involves, not his death, but his very identity--summarized in Wikipedia's article: The Shakespeare Authorship Question. Seems many people, beginning in the late 19th century, can't accept that a man born into modest circumstances (in 1564), who apparently attained no formal education beyond grammar school, went on to produce some of the world's greatest literature!  Could it be that such an elitist search for an author more to their liking--either born into the aristocracy (the Earl of Oxford or the Earl of Derby) or a known man of genius (Sir Francis Bacon or playwright Christopher Marlowe)--has again helped us miss the real story? Could it be that fascination with a possible conspiracy involving who wrote all those great plays and sonnets has kept us from fully celebrating a great story--one exceedingly relevant today? I for one, on this April 23, 2014, will be celebrating how a smart, talented person  lacking in formal education can rise to the highest heights of recognized accomplishment with lots of hard work, if only given a chance! (Thanks to Shakespeare scholar Christine Trainer for her contribution!) 

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