The following is my post from the Alternate History community at G+.
This morning, I was enjoying 9 Things You Can Learn from Hamlet and made a comment referencing the debate about whether or not William Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him.
Like many academic debates, that’s a volatile topic. A variety of people seem absolutely certain that Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone else. That list usually includes people like Bacon, Derby, Marlow, or Oxford.
Others point out that Shakespeare’s plays — as we know them — weren’t formally compiled until after his death. Those versions of the plays include heavy input from the actors who played in them, and they may have “improved” the plays.
Finally, my favorite among the hotly debated theories: William Shakespeare was one of Queen Elizabeth I’s main spies. His plays actually reflect locations he was sent to, and sometimes local stories (contemporary or folklore) from those regions.
Each of these have staunch supporters who — when someone insists on a contrary view — make most flame wars look tame.
I’m not posting to debate the origins of Shakespeare’s plays. Instead, what if each theory’s enthusiasts are adamant because they each slid into this timestream from a reality in which that WAS the origin of Shakespeare’s plays?
The thing is, some of these theories have scant and clearly speculative support in history. Also, it’s possible that some of the most heated arguments come from people who simply like to argue, whether there’s supporting documentation or not.
In the “what if…?” line of thought, what if people who argue points like these, are actually defending a reality they slid from, and they don’t realize the reason for the arguments is… well, the theses they defend are from other realities and timestreams?
In more recent history, we have extreme debates about JFK’s assassination, MLK’s assassination, various 9/11 incidents, and so on. Some of the evidence supporting those theories… it’s you’ve-got-to-be-kidding material.
Again, those actual debates aren’t the topic here.
My question is: What if these people have slid from other realities, don’t realize it, and are simply defending history that — to them — seems obvious and evident, because it’s what they experienced at the time? It’s what they recall from news reports and history books in the timestream they came from.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.