1996

Re: Politics

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0794.  Friday, 8 November 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 15:45:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0791  Re: Politics

(2)     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 10:00:45 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0789  Re: Politics

(3)     From:   Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 8 Nov 1996 00:06:57 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0791  Re: Politics


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 15:45:38 -0500
Subject: 7.0791  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0791  Re: Politics

C. David Frankel writes:

> Vico said that facts are made.

William Ingram makes a good distinction between "facts" and "data."  A "datum"
is uninterpreted; a "fact" is what we make of the datum.  For example, an entry
in a register is "datum."  Thus, following this datum, we infer that
Shakespeare was married: this is a "fact."  So, Vico is correct: facts are
made.

But, if we are not extreme philosophical subjectivists, data really exist.
There is a book, and in that book is an entry.  If we can not agree that there
are data, we might just as well withdraw into our selves and dream away the
time as in the Golden World.

And, by the way, no one has yet defined "politics."

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 10:00:45 -0800
Subject: 7.0789  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0789  Re: Politics

> Tom Bishop writes
>
> > I profoundly agree that students should be encouraged to engage in
> > criticism of their own intellectual heritage. But Mr. Egan's account
> > of his class seems to show that what they are being taught to do
> > there is to "Ask Mr. Egan" to explain the history and politics of
> > the readings for this week. Are they researching for themselves "why
> > different models are valued at different times"?
>
> Well, no, they are not "researching", they are at the 'being taught' stage.
> But...

I don't know how Mr. Egan makes that distinction.  Surely students learn by
researching.  I certainly encourage my own to do so.

> > To make...[a]... claim ...[to be]...a historical discipline, it
> > [Marxism] must be able to argue cogently that oppression
> > exists, that it can be identified and explained. Otherwise,
> > it can have no basis for imagining what might consitute an
> > improvement and hence developing a politics in the first place.
> > It must have a vision of human need, of how that need has been
> > and is being violated, and how it could better be answered.
>
> Absolutely not. The most inappropriate terms in this statement are: "vision",
> "human need", and "violated". Even "oppression" is a difficult one. There is a
> class war going on, and the rich have had some spectacular successes lately.
> These terms ("vision", "human need", and "violated") imply a perspective from
> within some neutral, non-combatant, class of thinkers. Many in the academy
> believe themselves to be in such a class, but it is a delusion.

On the contrary:  to posit a neutral position is absolutely necessary to the
sort of moral commitment required of class (or any other kind of) warfare.
People do not wish to die for one position amongst others, all of which are
equally valid, and one of which is chosen on the arbitrary grounds of a
belligerent's socio-economic position.  They will struggle for a "truth" which
is privileged above others.  To assume a position of relativism is to engage in
unilateral ideological disarmament. No wonder the right has staged some
surprising victories lately, when the left assumes an epistemology which
implicitly excludes the moral commitments that make successful ideological
warfare possible.

> What would constitute evidence for the existence of a human society that did
> not practice the composition and exchange of narrative? To say 'my child was
> eaten by a woolly mammoth' is to exchange a narrative, so your claim is that
>"all known human societies practise language". Since we don't confer the status
> of 'social' on non-communicators, this is a tautology, not a fact.

It might be more fair to say that it's a tautological fact.  Proof a priori, if
you will.  At any rate, you seem to be admitting that we may safely exclude
certain purely theoretical posibilities from our discussion (e.g., a society
which does not exchange narratives).  There are, therefore, levels of otherness
where the other would simply disappear, and which can be excluded from a
discussion of the human.  A reasonable definition of the human, then, can still
be arrived at.

If only that
> word "known" wasn't in there, we'd have an unproblematic tautology. But how am
> I suppose to validate what other people might know about things? No, we're
> definitely back into the realms of the contestable here.

Well, you could ask them, for instance.  Besides, if we gloss "known" as
"knowable" (i.e., within the realm of the social as defined) then we're back to
the tautology, as you put it.

Cheers,
Sean.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 8 Nov 1996 00:06:57 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0791  Re: Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0791  Re: Politics

Husserl critiqued the old historicism (the one that is now new) by pointing out
that the assertion that it is impossible to tell a truth about history because
one is a prisoner of one's own historical moment must mean that the assertion
itself can't lay any claim to truth since it must be, like everything else,
simply an arbitrary assertion.  Without facts we have as much chance of knowing
a truth about the past as a dog does of knowing where his master goes when he
drives away each morning.  It seems clear to me that the position that there
are not any facts is mostly a consequence of wanting to do whatever one wishes
to do though, in fact, it seems merely to be a guide for manners and not for
action.  Either, for example, slave children have labored to make this or that
computer part or they have not.

And it is interesting that Shakespeare again and again shows the tragic
consequences of denying fact.

It is also interesting that at least one early modern take on "politics"
insists that everything is, precisely, not political.  I'm not so sure that
Shakespeare doesn't take the Augustinian view that history and politics are
profane delusions when not considered under the aspect of the divine: one damn
thing after the other as someone else said -- and meaningless except when?
Henry V followed by Henry VI as we all know and I can't tell whether what is
ultimately implied is providential history or simply history as butcher's
block.  And then there is the fact that S's histories only encounter fact
occasionally and are fictions that have been guide to actions (The Duke of
Marlborough declared that all the English history he knew he got from
Shakespeare etc. etc.) But then there is the fact that at least one early
modern take on fiction was that it represented wht is, in fact, real and what
was "real" were those abstractions that, for us, seem most unreal. This is an
assertion that everything is, in fact, spiritual and an instance of ideology --
but only from the stance one assumes when one has decided that everything is
political and that, therefore, any contrary assertion is an ideological
assumption that we are, somehow, uniquely qualified to demystify.  It seems an
assertion difficult to make when one denies facts while, at the same time,
pointing to facts (those slave children) that demand a moral response.

It seems likely that Shakespeare might not have considered many horrible
conditions as conditions that could be improved by political means.  He could,
for example, have been constantly preoccupied with the consequences of poverty
without ever considering a political solution to poverty-- which could be
viewed as a consequence of the fall (by the sweat of your brow and all that).
If you assume that there is such a thing as progress and improvement (as we are
conditioned to assume) it is difficult to understand that someone could not
recognize the possibilty of progress in the saeculum (the one damn thing after
the other realm) and still have anything to "say" about poverty. Shakespeare
does -- and just because what he has to say has very little to do with politics
he can't be understood by those who assume that "everything is political."

Q: Shakespeare Conference at CSU

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0793.  Thursday, 7 November 1996.

From:           JoAnna Koskinen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 09:09:28 -0800
Subject:        Q: Shakespeare Conference at CSU

Is there someone out there planning to attend the Shakespeare Conference at CSU
Los Angeles this month? If you are, would you please e-mail me? As it turns
out, I won't be able to attend and I would like to have some one to stand in
for tsguild. This would only require the taking down of notes and the
collecting of information, essays if available, etc.

There is no compensation for doing this, but you will be acknowledged in our
journal next month. If interested, please contact:
        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you.

Re: Politics

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0791.  Thursday, 7 November 1996.

(1)     From:   C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Nov 1996 16:41:14 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0789  Re: Politics

(2)     From:   Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 7 Nov 1996 14:26:37 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Politics and the Autonomy of the Aesthetic


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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

Re: "Jazz Age" MUCH ADO

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0792.  Thursday, 7 November 1996.

From:           Jeff Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 07 Nov 1996 13:29:02 GMT
Subject: 7.0785  Re: "Jazz Age" MUCH ADO
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0785  Re: "Jazz Age" MUCH ADO

>Perhaps the "jazz age" MUCH ADO that Jeff Nyhoff asks about was the Joseph Papp
>production out of New York.  I remember that it was broadcast over PBS on April
>8, 1974, the same night that Hank Aaron hit home run 715; I was switching
>channels, trying to watch both.  I saw the film once after that, and it was a
>fine production.  Even if Papp's is not the MUCH ADO that Jeff is thinking
>about, I'd be grateful to learn where I might get a copy.

Is that the one with Sam Waterston as Benedick?  If so, I don't remember it as
being "Jazz Age."  I do remember it, however, as an absolutely fantastic
production.  A few years ago I contacted the Papp people about showing it in
class.  They said it only existed in one copy (film) that was in very bad shape
(they wouldn't guarantee it was in showable condition) and cost a lot of money
to rent.  When I asked why they didn't distribute it on videotape, they said
they were worried about copyright infringement.  So, they're letting it
self-destruct.  Makes sense, doesn't it?

Jeff Myers

Shakespeare as Character

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0790.  Thursday, 7 November 1996.

From:           Bernice W. Kliman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 1 Nov 1996 22:57:28 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare as Character

The new film, "Looking for Richard" also features a cameo role for Shakespeare,
at beginning and at end, when he looks rather doubtful about what he has just
witnessed. I think that's a nice touch, a becoming modesty.

He also appears in the *Comedy of Errors* as performed (and videotaped) by the
Flying Karamazov Bothers at Lincoln Center a couple of years ago.  In this
version, Shakespeare is the prompter.

On another topic, Richard Knowles has an extensive discussion of language and
prose vs. verse in *AYL* in his New Variorum edition, published about 20 years
ago by MLA.

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