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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: February ::
Re: The Human Condition
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0084. Thursday, 3 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Wednesday, 02 Feb 1994 18:01:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0082  Re: The Human Condition
 
(2)     From:   Geoffrey T Wilson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Feb 94 23:46:16 EST
        Subj:   Re: The Human Condition
 
(3)     From:   Jeff Zinn <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Feb 94 22:19 EST
        Subj:   [The Human Condition]
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Wednesday, 02 Feb 1994 18:01:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0082  Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0082  Re: The Human Condition
 
Dear Terence Hawkes,
 
I wrote about the experience of hunger. Yes, hunger must be experienced by an
animal in the body. I am talking about an experience that we label hunger.
Hunger can not be free floating because it is a human experience and must be
experienced by a human. You are quite right. If you agree that certain
physiological events may be experienced by any human, we don't have a quarrel.
 
I said nothing about the "meaning" of hunger, nor the literary expression of
hunger. I think Norm Holland is correct when he emphasizes the physical,
sensory basis on all experience. We can understand each other because we all
have bodies.
 
Animals experience hunger - they may and can experience hunger - outside of any
cultural context. An animal that has been almost utterly isolated from its
genetic kind will (I submit; I know this an article of faith.) experience
hunger as a physical event.
 
So I believe there are experiences that all humans share. That's all. No big
whoop.
 
I believe you will be able to see this.
 
Yours,
Bill Godshalk
 
P.S. David Schalkwyc is, of course, the voice of reason. He's right. We have
this same fight every other month. (David, I owe you an e-mail, but I got side
tracked reading Thomas Pavel's FICTIONAL WORLDS, which covers a lot of the turf
we were treading.)
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geoffrey T Wilson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Feb 94 23:46:16 EST
Subject:        Re: The Human Condition
 
As I understand the arguments of Joan Copjec and other Lacanian theorists, a
*universal* subject must be posited in order to implement democracy: a
population has to be reducible to a field of identical, homogeneous elements
irrespective of individual cultural determinations before we can begin to think
of equality, human rights, and enfranchisement.  This necessary
universalization is in danger of being obscured in the cultural relativism of
Hawkes and Drakakis.
 
The universal subject, however, cannot be based on empirical characteristics or
some notion of "lived experience" like that articulated by Godshalk.  It must
be held in a state of nonpredication, existing exactly of nothing, a void.  For
once any culturally specific characteristics are assigned, people are excluded.
 
By the way, the subject as void (or "subject of the unconscious") is precisely
that which Lacan finds to be a function of the signifier.  All people have
always been "submitted to the signifier," so we can argue with historical rigor
for a universal subject.  It just can't be given characteristics.
 
Geoffrey Wilson
Dept. of English
SUNY at Buffalo

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Zinn <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 2 Feb 94 22:19 EST
Subject:        [The Human Condition]
 
In Response to Schalkwyk, Godshalk, Jordan, Lawrence, etc. Ernest Becker in
"Escape From Evil" draws on the works of anthropologist A.M. Hocart to make his
very persuasive case that all cultures, yes *all*, respond to the fact of death
with various strategies that deny death by establishing some form of
immortality narrative.  These strategies may take as many different forms as
there are cultures - or people on the planet - but they function *universally*
to endow the individual, and by extension the entire culture she/he populates,
with a sense of purpose and worth. I think that at the center of all characters
in plays can be found an immortality narrative that is being formed or changed
or defended.
 
Jeff Zinn

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