In response to the question of why authorship matters:

1.) Giving credit where credit is due. Especially when it’s an accomplishment such as the works of Shakespeare, though “the players are all dead,” the one actually responsible should be lauded. If I accidentally and incorrectly give one student a final grade of A and another with a similar name the first student's D+, is the attitude going to be, “Well, it's the education that's most important,” or am I going to have a pissed-off visitor during office hours?

2.) Calling out when we’re being insulted and cheated. If the Shakespeare works were made-up entertainments tossed off for cash (as if the arts are so lucrative), they would not have lasted hundreds of years. (And for popularity, there would be a lot more characters falling on their butts. The masses can’t get enough of that.) They are the products of the emotional and psychological investments of someone who had known the extremes of elation, pain, betrayal, despair, dread, glee — all out of personal experience — and someone absolutely compelled to see, literally acted out, his issues. Nabokov, vs. Freud, asserted that if we are energy systems, the energy is not sexual, channeled into the arts sometimes, but rather aesthetic energy: We are all artists at something. This can be any enterprise or craft or activity that puts us “in the zone.” It is there we know who we are. To know who Shakespeare really was enriches infinitely our understanding of not just the plays but of the creative process itself. To insist that the works popped out of the arbitrary head of an illiterate grain-merchant, or to repeat the snotty “it doesn’t matter” desperation, foists on everyone a dismissal of the validity of anyone’s artistic endeavors and positive contributions to humanity.

Michael Delahoyde
Pullman, Wash.