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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: September ::
Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 535.  Wednesday, 8 Sept. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Bernice Kliman <KLIMANB@SNYFARVA.bitnet>
        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Sep 1993 06:05 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0534  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
(2)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Sep 93 12:51:05 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0534 Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice Kliman <KLIMANB@SNYFARVA.bitnet>
Date:           Wednesday, 8 Sep 1993 06:05 EDT
Subject: 4.0534  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0534  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
Richard Levin, in an article in Centennial Review recently, points out what
I believe is true: that Poliitical Correction is a negative code word by right
wingers.  It is used to bash those who favor political awareness.  Right-
wingers, and those who have bought their arguments, use the red herrings of
censorship, Facism, and the like, to undercut those who argue against
racism, for feminism, &c.  I would like to see LHs take back the expression
PC, get the sneer out of it, and use it to mean our own individual efforts
to hone our social consciousness.
 
On another matter: when did the idea of flaming enter our discourse? I mean the
use of the term?
 
On another matter: Surprise, surprise that John Drakakis doesn't find anything
in Terry Hawkes's message to take exception to.
 
        Cheers, Bernice
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 08 Sep 93 12:51:05 +0100
Subject: 4.0534 Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0534 Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
> The value system existed, but there was not agreement?  Is that the crucial
> distinction?
 
Essentially, yes. I should have said "the value-systems of his day", and
emphasized that it is the conflict between value-systems, and contradictions
within value-systems, which Shakespeare is engaging. Perhaps it would be
better to be using terms such as dominant, residual, and emerging ideologies
(see Raymond Williams *Marxism and Literature* for definitions).
 
> 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?
 
Marxist denial of the 'universal human condition' is a denial that the
condition exists indepedent of material circumstances and is somehow applicable
at all times in all places as a constant core of human-ness. The old liberal
humanist maneuvre was to deny that the conflicts in Shakespeare plays were
located historically, geographically, and politically; the new one seems to
be to admit the plenitude of 'human conditions' but deny that they are in
anyway amenable to analysis because they are "a veritable chaos" (if I may
borrow your apt phrase without accusing you of holding this view). I see
the latter maneuvre in much post-modernism with its "scepticism towards
meta-theories" (this phrase was recently offered in response to call for
the shortest definition of postmodernism, in The Guardian newspaper, London)
 
> 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'?
 
Specifically, issues such as the nature of political power, sexuality,
colonialism, race, etc., in pre-revolutionary England. I say "etc." because I
know of cultural materialist works that illuminate the presence of these themes
in Shakespeare's plays, but the list is not intended to deny other themes.
Could you clarify the last question concerning 'les etrangeres' (= ?the
strangers)
 
> 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 sneak myself toward the suspicion that Mr Mullin has cast me as the mouse
in his ever-popular cat drama :-) (Apologies to Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie
for the plagiarism).
 
Re: Bill Denning's Objections to Term Political Correctness
 
It seems to me that "the media and liberal politicians" employ the term
deliberately to evoke totalitarian systems such as those you mention and so
make your skin crawl. The intention is to tar anti-racism, anti-sexism, and
concern for ecological issues with the same brush (of though-control). I have
heard people who support the viewpoints which are 'pc' use the term to denote
the gap between their professed views and some gut-reaction that they've had,
as in "I know it's not politically correct to say so, but some
gays/blacks/women are so cute/male/unfriendly." Generally, I think using the
term thus is to fall into the trap laid by racist homophobic sexist ungreen
media/politicians; let's leave the term to the enemy and argue about the
issues.
 
Re: Shakespeare's Universialism
 
Without denying the historical specifity, I too see much continuity between the
world of the plays and our (or rather my) own. Hence the relevance to our
times...the conflicts are still with us. Universality implies that the
conflicts are inescapable, and I reject that.
 
  *********************************
  * Gabriel Egan 
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  *
  *********************************
 

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