Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: July ::
Re: Life and Art, Character, and Similarities
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0592.  Tuesday, 5 July 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 4 Jul 1994 16:31:14 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Character
 
(2)     From:   John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 04 Jul 94 11:10:00 BST
        Subj:   SHK 5.0586 Re: Jachimo; Character; Query
 
(3)     From:   Christine Gilmore <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 3 Jul 1994 20:35:21 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: Simpson as Othello (Aaargh!)
 
(4)     From:   Robert George <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Jul 1994 09:38:09 EST
        Subj:   the misbegotten thread
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 4 Jul 1994 16:31:14 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Character
 
"Life ain't art" has a good commonsensical ring to it, but would Lonnie Durham
be equally confident is asserting that "art ain't life"?  Because if it ain't,
then what is it?
 
Pat Buckridge
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 04 Jul 94 11:10:00 BST
Subject: Re: Jachimo; Character; Query
Comment:        SHK 5.0586 Re: Jachimo; Character; Query
 
I think that Pat Buckridge is allowing his irritation to obscure his vision. I
can't imagine what "predictable British neo-Brechtian orthodoxy" is being
referred to here.
 
If "people"- and I include in that category a large number of professional
Shakespeareans- DO know, implicitly or otherwise "that characters are
constructed out of conventional signs" then why do they persist in using a
vocabulary that flies directly in the face of that knowledge.  The effect of
Buckridge's argument seems to me to be an unbridled relativism which frankly
would not pass muster in the face of a rigorous postmodern interrogation.
Letting a hundred flowers bloom is fine, if you own the nursery, but I think in
these complicated times you'll need a little more than the first chapter of
Raymond Williams's Modern Tragedy to ward off the evil spirits.
 
Maybe if Pat Buckridge spent a little less time trying to put those who provoke
his irritation into pigeon-holes, and concentrting a little more on what they
say, then that irritation might have some real focus.
 
Maybe I could suggest that in addition to Modern Tragedy, a glance at Problems
in Materialism and Culture might be of some use. It won't make the irritation
go away...but...
 
Yours irritatingly,
John Drakakis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Gilmore <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 3 Jul 1994 20:35:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re: Simpson as Othello (Aaargh!)
 
Re: Tim Bowden comments of Sunday, 2 Jul 1994:
 
Ok, I'm new to the list, but how does this type of discussion further our
knowledge of Shakespeare and human tragedy save that we understand that one can
be an Iago by thrilling at another's fall?  Further, this last comment of
Bowden's I'm going to understand as a slip of the tongue.  Can we get away from
this subject for a while, inundated as we are by the media with every
particular of a woman's (and man's) horrid death?  Thx.
        cg
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert George <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 05 Jul 1994 09:38:09 EST
Subject:        the misbegotten thread
 
While I might not have been so blunt, I thank Tim Bowden for his statement
regarding O.J./Othello.  The feeling among conferees seemed to be to let the
thread die.  However, as Mr. Bowden points out, if you really want to examine
it, you don't have to dig too far--and its more than just the racial element.
That said, I am somewhat taken aback by how much conferees wish to avoid this
element.
 
Let's get the obvious caveats aside:  1)Spousal abuse is not to be tolerated on
any level.  Neither is spousal murder.  If Simpson is guilty, he should be
punished to the fullest extent. 2)Comparisons between "real life" and
literature always fail, if only because literature is nice and complete. Life,
*current events*, moves along at its own unpredictable fashion. Stepping
outside ongoing developments to make objective statements is a
near-impossibility.  The Simpson/Moor comparisons will ultimately collapse as
we learn more about the football player than we ever wanted. There will be
little trace of anything even close to nobility left by the time the trial and
the media examination is complete.
 
Those caveats aside, it seems that to dismiss all comparisons between the
fictional character and the football player (or even the *image* that the
public has been "sold" over the years) is not particularly wise.
 
One person says that, race aside, the similarities between O.J. and Othello
fall apart pretty rapidly, not the least because O.J. is "not an outsider."
Perhaps not in the sense of a Moor in Venice, however, the media was quick to
point out how O.J. grew up poor, "in the projects."  The cameras move to
dramatize as much as possible to display the difference between where O.J. came
from and where he ended up (pre-murder):  from project to multi-million dollar
mansion.  Does this movement qualify him as an "outsider?"  I leave it for
consideration.
 
Finally, even if an initial comparison because of the race/ethnicity element is
made, what of it?  There seems to be an attitude that we are to be excoriated
for merely making the observation.  Perhaps those who are drawn to make this
particular comparison and contrast are being respectful to the man whose work
inspires this forum.  Either there is a reason why Othello is a Moor and
Desdemona is a "white goddess"--or there is not. Race is a difficult thing to
discuss, but so are questions of class and gender and we don't completely shy
away from them (or at least as I've so far ascertained).  True, this can
sometimes lead to certain unsavory associations, just as the Jewish element in
*The Merchant of Venice* does in other discussions, but we should at least be
aware that there is something that we are avoiding discussing.
 
If this misbegotten thread is to die, so be it.  But it seems to me that those
who close their eyes to the full dimensions of race in a particular comparison
do as much a disservice to the art of honest conversation as those who are so
blind that race is all that they see in any situation.
 
As ever,
Robert A. George
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.