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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Politics
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0791.  Thursday, 7 November 1996.

(1)     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Nov 1996 16:41:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0789  Re: Politics

(2)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Nov 1996 14:26:37 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Politics and the Autonomy of the Aesthetic


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Nov 1996 16:41:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0789  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0789  Re: Politics

> Tom Bishop writes
> > But Mr. Egan seems to me to be making a further claim, which I am
> > inclined to dispute. He seems to be claiming that "facts" can only
> > ever exist in relation to some framework of knowledge that
> > constitutes them, and not otherwise, that is that they have -no-
> > independent existence.

To which Mr. Egan replied,

> Yep. That's where I stand.

I think there's a need to clarify what each person means by fact and what sorts
of frameworks (if any) are necessary to understand them.  Vico said that facts
are made.  I think that even when we talk about an apple falling from a tree we
have a framework within which to make sense of that experience -- the idea of
falling, notion of directions, causality, and other things.  Most important, I
think, is that even if we could agree that a single fact does not need a
framework in order to be accepted as a fact, as soon as you try to connect two
facts you are, in fact, employing a theory, and that theory will then shape
your understanding of further facts which might, in turn, modify the theory,
and so on.

C. David Frankel

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Nov 1996 14:26:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Politics and the Autonomy of the Aesthetic

I would like to respond to the assumption that "everything is
politics/sex/ideology" in many posts on this thread.

I do not believe that "all is ideology" for a simple reason.  If all is
ideology, then that statement itself is a product of ideology and so cannot be
true in any ordinary sense of the word "true", and if it's not true then there
is no necessary reason for consenting to it.

I believe that our ideology *influences* significantly most of our responses as
biological organisms to the diverse stimuli of life on this planet and in the
societies in which we find ourselves.  I use the word "influence" rather than
"constructs" or "enables" because I do not think that our responses are
reducible to our ideology. Our physical environment also influences us, as does
our genetic inheritance.  Ideology may not be less important than these other
influences, but it is absurd to grant it some automatic priority.

And significantly, while ideology may influence our ontological,
epistemological, ethical and other thinking, and while of course our ideology
influences our political and  everyday thinking and acting in myriads of ways,
I do not believe that our ideology influences our aesthetic response.
Aesthetic response is sublimely indifferent to ideology, it is indifferent to
system, and it is even indifferent to thought or at least to thought content.
Aesthetic response reckons only with the power of a work to make us feel
something--anything--the thought, the thought-content of a work, and even the
precise feeling it engenders, are irrelevant to its aesthetic power *as power*.

A poem (or play, or a production of a play) can be brilliant and be
disgustingly, completely, horribly racist (or sexist, or misogynist, or
ethno-centric, or homophobic, or vulgar, or blind to the major political events
of its time); and a work of art can have the most embraceable, inclusive and
correct politics and still be not much good of a poem.

"What matters only is the political position one takes in response to the
work," Gabriel Egan wrote a few weeks ago.  I think instead that Harold Bloom,
as usual, gets it right:  "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my
opinion, to read at all."

Paul Hawkins
 

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