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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Ideology (Various)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0160.  Friday, 31 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 14:26:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   The Banality of Shakespeare

(2)     From:   Thomas Bishop <
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        Date:   Friday, 31 Jan 1997 14:03:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0152  Re: Category Genes


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Thursday, 30 Jan 1997 14:26:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        The Banality of Shakespeare

In SHK 8.0096 (21 Jan 97) Gabriel Egan responded to Louis Swilley:

"Perhaps not surprisingly, I disagree with everything you said about
transcendental truths, absolutes, `constant selves' and the like.  (But let's
not start another relativism thread, eh?)"

While I don't necessarily want to revive the relativism debate, and at the risk
of being both banal and simplistic, I offer the following response.

It strikes me that the overwhelming questions--is Shakespeare the most
transcendent writer who ever lived, or is he at the very least transcendent at
all, or is someone else, or can anyone be--are really only questions of taste
and sensibility.

Do we feel, when confronted with the literature and art of the past, alienated
from it, separate, distinct?  Do we feel a radical discontinuity between "it"
and "us"?  Presumably, some scholars, critics, teachers, and actors, perhaps
traumatized by having Tory ministers recite Shakespeare at them, will always
answer those questions, "yes."  And some others will always say, "no."  Members
of the second group might imagine what it would be like to live in
Shakespeare's England, or Plato's Athens, will walk among the extant buildings,
or the ruins of buildings, or the reconstructions of either place indulging
their imagination, and will read the works of either writer feeling themselves
their contemporary.  In the case of Shakespeare's plays, such readers will
participate in the imagination that made them, and will probably feel that the
human dramas and flights of language that the plays contain speak vitally and
immediately to them, and will sometimes marvel that these things are 400 years
old, and will lead their lives comfortably believing that Shakespeare's works,
and the past, are alive.

To the first group, Shakespeare is time-bound; to the second he can only be
timeless.  I hope there will always be readers capable of recognizing the merit
in both experiences of the text and of the past.

Paul Hawkins

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Bishop <
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Date:           Friday, 31 Jan 1997 14:03:11 -0500
Subject: 8.0152  Re: Category Genes
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0152  Re: Category Genes

Dan Lowenstein writes of the plasticity of categories and the need to maintain
different ideas of categories for different purposes that:

>The locus classicus for this type
>of stuff is George Lakoff's superb book, "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things."

It's worth noting that the last chapter of Book 2 of Aristotle's Metaphysics
made the same point somewhat earlier.

Tom
 

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