1994

Re: Negative *Ado* Review

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0123 Wednesday, 20 February 1994.
 
From:           Diana Akers Rhoads <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 94 22:47:48 EST
Subject: 5.0116  Miscellaneous Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0116  Miscellaneous Questions
 
Nate Johnson:  For a good negative review of Branagh's *Much Ado*
see Richard Ryan, "Much Ado About Branagh," *Commentary* (October
1993):  52-55.
 
--Diana Akers Rhoads

Re: Universals and the Human Condition

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0122 Wednesday, 20 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Jefferey Taylor <GR4302@SIUCVMB>
        Date:   Tuesday, 15 February 1994, 10:52:04 CST
        Subj:   Sorry to keep it going, but...
 
(2)     From:   Barbara Simerka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 15:54:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
(3)     From:   Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Feb 94 17:27:07 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
(4)     From:   Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 23:40:35 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
(5)     From:   Pat Buckridge <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 15:26:32 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Ethics and the Human Condition
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jefferey Taylor <GR4302@SIUCVMB>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 February 1994, 10:52:04 CST
Subject:        Sorry to keep it going, but...
 
I'm sorry to keep this argument about Universals going, but I cannot sit still
while Relativism is accused of the being the source of all bigotry and racism.
Quite to the contrary, it is the Idealism of Plato that insists that since we
are all the same I can easily judge whether you are an Alpha Beta Gamma or
Delta and therefore can decide what fate you deserve.  It is Idealism that
insists Rushdie must die.  It is Idealism that has been the enemy of democracy
and open discourse since its beginning.  As soon as one claims that they can
identify Universals they can claim that they have the knowledge to decide who
is good and who is bad, whose ideas reflect the Universal good and whose are
trash.  Yes we can get something we call scientific truth by limiting our
focus--that's why it's science and not the humanitities.  Publically
demonstrable probability is science, by the pragmatist definition (which has
been the foundation for science this century!)  If there are Universals, then
why haven't we been able to agree on Shakespeare these past centuries in the
same way we come to agree on science??  ALSO:  if we are going to discuss and
deliberate then there will be intolerance, ideology, anger, and so on.  These
things are part of our lives and need not lead to terrible crimes. At the risk
of quoting a rational empiricist, Mills did say that truth emerges from the
clash of adverse ideas.  And clash I will with anyone who wants to blame
pragmatism and multiculturalism for the crimes of Idealism.  I've had enough of
this debate too--it stinks of the Eurocentrism that has been and remains the
heavy handed and arrogant defender of Plato's elitism and those who still "pray
in the dark in the Sciences' church" (P. Hammill).
 
Jefferey Taylor
Southern Illinois University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Barbara Simerka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 15:54:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
The ethical considerations Richard Jordan rightly emphasizes, as well as
the notes of harmony from Luc Borot and Sean Lawrence are valid reasons to
argue towards the existence of universals. However, the problem always
remains, if we emphasize the shared experience, if we homogenize experience,
then there is the risk of marginalization, of exclusion.  Perhaps a
continual debate of this subject is beneficial, (despite the fact that some
readers are tired of this and certainly the discussion need not continue
HERE ad infinitum) in order to avoid the extremes that result from
"settling" the issue in favor of either term, universalism or relativism.
 
Barbara Simerka
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Dobson <U63495@UICVM>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 94 17:27:07 CST
Subject: 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
Dear SHAKSPER --
 
Nobody is keener than I am to see this particular debate peter out, and one
reason for its unhelpfulness is the fact, pace various recent contributors,
that it is *ethically* empty -- it is just as possible to commit atrocities in
the name of Universal Human Truth as it is to do so in the name of cultural
particularity.  Aesthetically, however, it seems to be far easier to be
po-faced and self-righteous on behalf of universals; in face of a looming and
censoring totality of disapproval, can I just say that I'd rather be insulted
by Terence Hawkes than praised by some of his adversaries any day of the week?
 
               Michael Dobson
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 23:40:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0117  Re: Universals and the Human Condition
 
To whom it may concern:
 
I would like to share Sean Lawrence's optimism.  It's nice to think of
ourselves sitting at our keyboards like Arthur's knights at a round table of
open-minded camaraderie.  And on many subjects, of course, the optimism
is not misplaced.  On matters of fact, of reference, and of local
interpretation this list serves an invaluable function.  However, I also think
it obvious that the perspective by now associated with Terence Hawkes--
and in some ways any point concerned with almost any branch of
contemporary theory--is not given so tolerant a hearing.  To be sure, as
several netters (a lexicographical colleague of mine tuned me into that
term) have pointed out, Mr. Hawkes is not the most temperate of e-mailers
and seems to revel in the flames he invites.  But even when it is not Mr.
Hawkes who posts a historicist note, the reactions are pretty violent--and,
irony of ironies, the vehemence of the response tends to be attributed to
the historicist, who is then chastised for troubling the limpid stream of our
discourse.  Again as several netters have noticed, the vehemence of the
dialogue gives away the quasi-religious character of the controversy.
What is "at stake" in this argument is the very possibility of TRUTH, and
as Milton says, the wars of truth are always hard fought.  As I see it, the
issue is not a dead cert on either side of the question.  A few days ago,
Jeffrey Taylor referred us to the nominalist/realist controversy.  Surely that
tells us that we will not, and perhaps in principle no one ever will resolve
the issue.  Certainly a medium such as e-mail seems to me incapable of
adding much to the question.  I for one have decided to delete unread any
further postings headed "universal" or "human condition."
 
Praying for nature's first green,
Al Cacicedo (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Albright College
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Feb 1994 15:26:32 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Ethics and the Human Condition
 
Two points in this unending but fascinating discussion:
 
1. Richard Jordan writes that 'the ethical consequences of denying
universal humanity are horrendous'.  It could as easily be maintained that
the consequences of insisting upon it are at least equally horrendous. Two
consequences follow inexorably from the attempt to ground non-injurious
behaviour towards others in 'shared experiences and values'.  The first is
that it provides no grounds for not engaging in injurious behaviour
towards those others (e.g.non-human species) with whom (presumably) there
can be no such common experiences and values.  I am not as comfortable as
he is with the farmer and the fox example, but I can't really see why,
using his ethical framework, he would object to the killing of whales,
dolphins or African elephants (though I'm sure he does).
 
The second consequence is that non-injurious behaviour towards other human
beings is thereby made hostage to the NON-discovery of scientifically
undeniable biological differences between groups.  Whether one is prepared
to say that such discoveries have already been made or not - and I have no
opinion on this question - it is plainly an everpresent, even imminent,
possibility that such evidence of significant differences WILL be found.
What will Richard Jordan do then?  Adopt the usual old humanist strategy
of declaring that science - the troublesome areas of it anyway - is
irrelevant to human values?  The only logical alternative would be to say
that no ethical imperatives exist between the groups thus differentiated.
 
The way out of this univiting dilemma, I suggest, is to base ethically
sensitive interaction between individuals and species on something other
than actually shared characteristics.  Like respect for difference and a
recognition of shared *interests*.  Maybe Gene Roddenberry had it right all
those decades ago with the Prime Imperative!
 
2. I suppose it's a matter of taste, but I thought Terence Hawkes's reply
to his tormentors was very funny, and Luc Borot's reaction a bit pious. I
know humour can be an instrument of aggression and all that, but it would
be a great pity if people came to feel they couldn't engage in a bit of
light-hearted banter over the electronic airwaves without calling down
such heavy artillery on themselves.  (Sorry about the metaphor).
 
And what does any of this have to do with teaching Shakespeare?  Perhaps
quite a lot.  I neither read nor teach Shakespeare for the 'human values'
to be found there, but because it's great writing.  I happen to think that
an ability to appreciate (nay, love) great writing - to have a sense of
what's great about it - is a genuinely valuable item of cultural capital
which I can (sometimes) pass on to (some) students.  And the apprehension
of greatness seems to me to involve not just the recognition of shared
experiences or values in the writing (you can get that in the editorial of
your preferred newspaper) OR in the newness and strangeness of the
language AND the ethics AND the politics -  but in a fusion (or maybe a
dialectic) of both.  Nothing very profound there, but at least it's a
rationale that doesn't actively encourage students to pretend to
'spontaneities' they don't really feel, but can learn.
 
Patrick Buckridge
Griffith University, Brisbane.

Re: Psychotic *Macbeth*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0120 Wednesday, 20 February 1994.
 
From:           Ron Macdonald <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 10:46:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0118: Psycho Mac
Comment:        RE SHK 5.0118: Psycho Mac
 
Let me offer strong agreement with Lonnie Durham's protest against the
dysfunctional tragic protagonist.  The audience is, indeed, "let off the hook
by being invited to atrribute the terrors of existence to a few `abnormal'
types."  An older version, making reductive use of a distorted Aristotelianism,
identifies the hero's "flaw"-- always a moral failing-- to explain his
regrettable but, after all, wholly avoidable demise. Oedipus, you see, was
culpably angry, or proud, or guilty of one or more of the other Seven Deadly
Sins, and, by way of punishment, the gods drove him to unspeakable deeds.  And
quite right they were, too.  Luckily, forewarned is forearmed, so we can rest
easy.  And so a genuinely appalling text, one which affords an authentic
glimpse of the abyss, is neatly contained by being rendered as a sort of Attic
Poor Richard.
 
Or Poor Tom, for that matter: "Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of
plackets, thy pen from lenders' books, and defy the foul fiend" (_King Lear_,
III.iv.96-98).  Edgar as Tom 'o Bedlam suggests a regimen of clean living as a
straightforward fix for human suffering, while all around him rage catastrophic
events that resist any fix whatever. Shakespeare arranges to internalize
traditional good counsel not that we may follow it, but that we may see how
utterly impotent it is in the face of the experience the play serves up.  A
similar strategy is evident (less successfully, perhaps) in _Romeo and Juliet_,
where Friar Lawrence, who has a fresh solution every time fate provides another
twist, may be a way of internalizing in order to dismiss the attitude that
finds in tragedy missed opportunities and botched stratagems that better
handled would have avoided the deplorable mess tragic protagonist tend to make
of things.
 
There may be at least some justice (there is certainly no sense) in the
surprisingly wide-spread and durable notion that the tragedy of the young
lovers can be blamed on the Friar.  My favorite instance comes from Nancy
Mitford's character Uncle Matthew in _The Pursuit of Love_.  This is the man,
remember, who claims to have read only one book in his life, _White Fang_, and
found it so terribly good that any other would be more or less bound to let him
down.  He is taken at one point to a provincial production of _Romeo and
Juliet_ by his wife and daughter, and Fanny, a niece and the novel's narrator
reports:
                It was not a success.  He cried copiously, and went
                into a furious rage because it ended badly.  "All the
                fault of that damned padre," he kept saying on the
                way home, still wiping his eyes.  "That fella, what's
                'is name, Romeo, might have known a blasted papist
                would mess up the whole thing.  Silly old fool of
                a nurse too, I bet she was an R.C., dismal old bitch."
 
As an antidote, an observation of Stephen Booth's: "Theories of the nature of
tragedy are more important to us than theories of the nature of other things
because theories of tragedy keep us from facing tragedy itself."
 
                                    --Ron Macdonald
                                      <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Qs: Kingship; The Duke in MM

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0121 Wednesday, 20 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Chantal Payette <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 11:06:11 EST
        Subj:   question on kingship
 
(2)     From:   Michael Sharpston <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 06 Feb 1994 13:25:00 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   The Duke in "Measure for Measure"; Bobby Ray Inman
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chantal Payette <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Feb 1994 11:06:11 EST
Subject:        question on kingship
 
Hi,
        This is my first posting to this list, so I am a bit nervous.
I would really appreciate it if someone, anyone, could give me a few
hints or ideas concerning kingship and authority in any of or all of
 
        - Macbeth
        - Edward II
        - Richard III
        - King Lear
 
What I am doing is research on the aspects of Kingship within one of
these plays and it's comparison to historical reality.  I haven't
exactly created a proper thesis yet (if anyone has any ideas?;)) but I
am working on it.  I think perhaps after acquiring some concrete information
through research, the thesis would become clearer.
 
Thanks very much,
 
Chantal Payette
ITS
Robarts Library
University of Toronto
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Sharpston <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 06 Feb 1994 13:25:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        The Duke in "Measure for Measure"; Bobby Ray Inman
 
Courtesy of Blair Kelly III, I have just been at a reading of Measure for
Measure.  I was struck by the Duke's sentiments in the following passage:
 
                No might nor greatness in mortality
                Can censure 'scape:  back-wounding calumny
                The whitest virtue strikes.  What king so strong
                Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?
                                                Act III Sc ii ll. 200-203
 
and also this other passage, where to my perception there is no connection to
the immediate context:
 
                O place and greatness! millions of false eyes
                Are stuck upon thee:  volumes of report
                Run with these false and most contrarious quests
                Upon thy doings:  thousand escapes of wit
                Make thee the father of their idle dream,
                And rack thee in their fancies!
                                                Act IV Sc i ll. 61-66
 
Clearly, Lucio has got to the Duke with his comments.
 
I could not help hearing echoes of Bobby Ray Inman.  I must admit that I had
not realized previously that The Washington Post was very likely one of
Shakespeare's key sources, almost up there with Holinshed.
 
Does anyone know of a good and convincing character analysis of the Duke?  My
thanks in advance.
 
          Michael Sharpston
          This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
          (The views expressed here, especially in regard to Shakespeare's
          sources, are strictly my own, and do not reflect those of my
          employer).

1992 World Shakespeare Bibliography

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0119.  Tuesday, 15 February 1994.
 
From:           James Harner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 14 Feb 1994 9:45:15 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        1992 World Shakespeare Bibliography
 
The +World Shakespeare Bibliography+ for 1992 is now at the printer. Thanks to
hard-working group of international contributors, a superb office staff, and
two new 486/66 computers, we have trimmed some four months off the annual
production schedule.  Work on the 1993 volume is well along. As usual, I
want to encourage all SHAKSPER subscribers to send along copies of--or at least
a citation for--their essays (scholarly and popular), reviews of books or
productions, electronic media, books, and other.  SHAKSPEReans will also be
interested to learn planning is well along for an augmented CD-ROM cumulation
of the annual volumes. (Eventually, the project will encompass 1900-present.) I
hope to have a trial disk (covering at least 1990-92--and perhaps a few earlier
years) ready by the end of 1994 (and at a price that individual users can
easily afford). Right now, I am planning to have a hypertext-linked product
that will run in the Windows environment. I would certainly welcome suggestions
from SHAKSPER subscribers about features they would like to see incorporated
into the CD-ROM package.
 
                Jim Harner (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
                Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography

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