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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: July ::
Re: Art and Life, Character, Similarities
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0590.  Sunday, 3 July 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Lonnie J Durham <
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        Date:   Saturday, 02 Jul 1994 10:03:08 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Art and Life
 
(2)     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Sunday, 03 Jul 1994 01:33:12 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0586  Re: Character
 
(3)     From:   Tim Bowden <
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        Date:   Saturday, 2 Jul 1994 14:31:40 PDT
        Subj:   [Similarities]
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie J Durham <
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Date:           Saturday, 02 Jul 1994 10:03:08 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Art and Life
 
I'm afraid I'm the person to whom Pat Buckridge refers in his last posting who
holds the antiquated opinion that life ain't art.  I am, of course, fully ready
to admit that at one removal or another we all become "text," but let me
suggest a few possible differences between one kind of text and another:
 
        First, we know once and for all EVERYTHING there is to know about, say,
Othello.  Tomorrow when you go to read his tragedy again, you will not find
that some old letters from his mother-in-law to her daughter have been
uncovered.  Any literary representation of personhood is a finite patterned
abstraction or schematization.
 
        Second, when a biographer or historian or journalist undertakes to
"heroize" a historical figure, the conventions of selection, limitation and
arrangement are clearly LITERARY.  There is no such thing as a hero in real
life.  Ms. Peterson's point was (without prejudging the Simpson case, per se)
that everyday violence against women is extremely unlikely ever to involve the
dimension of tragic dignity (which, incidentally, is NOT a matter of social
class; that's a red herring here) that we find in *Othello*, and that celebrity
alone, no matter how hyped by the media, does not equal tragic dignity.
 
        And finally, although we all may be reduced to mere text, there's an
enormous difference in the quality of the rendition.  To be limned by Truman
Capote or Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams is one thing; but by Oprah,
Giraldo and Sports Illustrated?
 
Yours as ever, Lonnie Durham
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Sunday, 03 Jul 1994 01:33:12 -0300
Subject: 5.0586  Re: Character
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0586  Re: Character
 
Here, here to Pat Buckbridge!  The question of characters not existing is,
indeed, a very old question.
 
As a high school student, I lived in a town which had both white and red
Russians, still unable to speak to one another.  One in a while, during the
"character" controversy, I felt a little like I was sitting on the sidelines
again, while old men fought ideological struggles long out of date.  Much as I
respect the scholarship of Godshalk, Hawkes, Drakakis, et. al., the whole
matter leaves me feeling like I'm studying critical history through original
documents.
 
Respectfully, but young,
        Sean Lawrence.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tim Bowden <
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Date:           Saturday, 2 Jul 1994 14:31:40 PDT
Subject:        [Similarities]
 
For it is written:
 
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0579.  Tuesday, 28 June 1994.
 
 
        For a while now I have been reading all of this "stuff"
        concerning supposed similarities between the O.J. Simpson case
        and Othello, and I find it just a bit much. The only similarity
        that I can see which could have spurred such a comparison is
        that Simpson is a Black male who married a fair blond haired
        beauty.
 
Well.  How about an arrogant warrior taking a trophy wife and then being led by
that overweaning pride to destroy her when she detracts from his masculine
credit according to the sovereign rules of the barracks?  If there were one of
those blue-blazered boys of the studio chiding O J because his woman is not his
own, then the comparison would be perfect.
 
        Numerous White men (with more circumstances in common with
        Othello than skin colour) murder their wives each year, and I
        have yet to hear anyone remark on how similar their situations
        might have been to Othello.
 
We haven't met, have we?  I have remarked on Othello as my least favorite
character in the canon for just the reasons that appear here; as a well-spoken
cretin who kills a woman to salve his pride.
 
        And may I remind you that in your "Great" country, one is
        "supposedly" innocent until proven quilty.
 
Common misconception.  Othello Jerk Simpson is innocent before the law at this
point, but nobody not a jurist is required to pretend to suspend all mental
faculties and common sense in the interim.  I happen to think he's a murdering
scum just like over 1,400 others of his ilk, if not his skin color, in this
great country ever year.
 

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