Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: September ::
Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 534.  Tuesday, 7 Sept. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Robert Mullin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Sep 1993 10:56:49 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
(2)     From:   Bill Denning <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Sep 1993 14:15:08 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0531  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Mullin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 07 Sep 1993 10:56:49 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
Subject: Shakespeare's Politics
 
Gabriel Egan:
 
Political correctness is "... a body of agreed codes of speech and behaviour,
working within an agreed set of values ... such agreement did not exist ..."
for Shakespeare's time.  And then further along in the same paragraph ... "What
excites me is how Shakespeare engages with ... the value-system of his day."
 
R. Mullin:
The value system existed, but there was not agreement?  Is that the crucial
distinction?
 
Gabriel Egan:
"Concerning 'the human condition': for many Marxists, there is no singular
human condition, but rather a lot of conditions that arise in a lot of specific
material conditions."
 
R. Mullin: Is it not rather the case that Marxists deny the `universal human
condition' because of its alleged singularity?  And may we not then at least
grant it the characteristic of universal singularity, albeit a veritable chaos
of material circumstances to be apprehended (described, rather) by means only
of some Brownian statistical model?
 
Gabriel Egan: Liberal humanist teaching of Shakespeare has always advanced the
idea that Shakespeare had a piercing insight into a 'human condition' that was
universal.
 
R. Mullin: Universal within the subset of entities yclept `human,' I trust. A
necessary distinction lest a dangerous equivocation seize us. And I had thought
the liberal humanist view was that Shakespeare had merely shone one of the
strongest lights in the effort to locate that human condition.  Did he actually
find it?
 
Gabriel Egan: Cultural materialists ... argue that the 'condition' that
Shakespeare had insight into was the very specific one of his own period ...
 
R. Mullin: Is that specificity temporal?  What years specifically, then?  Or
conceptual.  What specific issues?  Or geographical/conceptual? Which issues
unsullied then by `les etrangeres'?
 
Gabrial Egan: ... liberal-humanism attempts to pass off its own politics and
values as universal ...
 
Tendentious phraseology, this of the cultural materialist ... May it not be
said as clearly ...
 
`liberal-humanism, operating openly as the enquiry-driven, anti- entropic
endeavor that it is, continually attempts to broaden the applicability of its
principles and their consequent insights.'
 
I could not find a way to work in "attempts to pass off."  Honest!
 
                             ******
 
I enter this field with trepidation, unfamiliar as I am with the language and
distinctions of 'cultural materialism.'  If my questions are too parochial for
the general consideration of list- members, perhaps someone will let me know
... politely, off-line, so to speak.
 
Sincerely,
R. Mullin
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Denning <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 07 Sep 1993 14:15:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 4.0531  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0531  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
Gabriel Egan writes:
 
>By political correctness, I understand something like 'a body of agreed codes
>of speech and behaviour, working within a agreed set of values (eg anti-
>racism, anti-sexism)'.
 
I would agree with this definition of 'politically correct', with the caveat
that the 'agreement' is inferred by the person using the term.  The term
'politically correct' has become very popular with the media and liberal
politicians here in the U.S. over the last couple of years.  Probably views in
favor of preserving the environment could also be included along with
anti-racism and anti-sexism.
 
Personally I support many of the viewpoints that are presumed to be politically
correct, but I absolutely abhor the use of the term.  To me it is _very_
presumptive to use such a term, and is reminiscent of political regimes such as
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.  Political correctness
would be right at home in works such as "1984", "Darkness at Noon", or "One Day
in the Life of Ivan Denisovich".
 
While each of us in a free society has every right to agree or disagree with a
particular political viewpoint, and of course to express our own views, how can
any of us possibly categorize our views or those of others as being correct or
incorrect?  The whole thing makes my skin crawl.
 
>Liberal humanist teaching of Shakespeare has always advanced the idea that
>Shakespeare had a piercing insight into a 'human condition' that was universal.
>Cultural materialists (a group I optimistically include myself in) argue that
>the 'condition' that Shakespeare had insight into was the very specific one of
>his own period, with all its seething political conflicts.
 
It is true that Shakespeare's understanding of the human condition may have
been specific to his own time, but the insights that he offers can also be
applied to other times, including ours.  I frequently marvel at the
technological innovations we have created, such as this electronic message, but
often despair at the realization that in spite of our technological progress,
from a social perspective we are not much different that people in previous
ages.  War, famine, dishonesty, etc. continue to plague us.
 
What makes Shakespeare seem universal to me is that although the language,
clothing, living conditions, etc. in his plays are all quite different than our
own, at the core of his works people behave the same today as in his time.  I
frequently see people acting just like various characters in Othello, King
Lear, and Measure For Measure, to name but a few.
 
>Cultural materialists also generally argue that liberal-humanism attempts to
>pass off its own politics and values as universal, and does so for very clear
>political reasons.
 
I agree with this statement, even though I might be considered to be a
liberal-humanist myself.
 
I'm also looking forward to further discussion.
 
Best regards, Bill
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.