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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: February ::
Re: Postmodernism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0095  Sunday, 1 February 1998.

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Jan 1998 16:32:24 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Jan 1998 22:55:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Robert Appelbaum <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Jan 1998 17:47:17 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Jan 1998 16:32:24 -0500
Subject: 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism

>My understanding of what Terry meant was that Shakespeare is a powerful
>signifier in contemporary culture, and Shakespeare has been used, is
>used, and will no doubt be used in the future to signify a whole range
>of things. . . .

I gather you (and Terence) are alluding to the halo effect, and I think,
in the US, John Elway is a more powerful signifier in contemporary
culture than Shakespeare.  Count the endorsements, and I'll bet that
John beats William even worse than he beat the Packers.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 30 Jan 1998 22:55:57 -0500
Subject: 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism

I've been pondering Stevie Simkin's posting, and especially: ". . .what
Terry [Hawkes]meant was that Shakespeare . . .has been used, is used,
and will no doubt be used in the future to signify a whole range of
things. .  . ."  What troubles me is Simkin's (and I think Hawkes's)
assumption that users of Shakespeare's words can make those words
"signify" something definite, for example, "that Shakespeare approved of
a hierarchical society - therefore a hierarchical society is a good
thing (because we all know that Shakespeare was a universal genius, and
what he says must be eternally true) - therefore every right-thinking
person should vote to re-elect a Conservative government."

If we say there is no "meaning by Shakespeare," i.e., Shakespeare was
not, is not able to force his audiences to interpret his plays in any
given way, how can users of Shakespeare's words, like Conservative
politicians who quoted Ulysses' speech, force their audience to
interpret these words in any given way?  If there is no meaning by
Shakespeare, then surely there is no meaning by Conservative
politicians!!!

And can directors of Shakespeare's scripts fix a production with a
certain meaning? Apparently <italic>The Merchant of Venice </italic>at
the RSC is a good example of the inability to control meaning: "its
stated intention to 'take the swastika out of the play' (quoting the
director from memory) left us with a profoundly anti-Semitic play
uninflected with any kind of interogative perspective."  So the director
failed to force at least one auditor to accept the stated
interpretation.

If we say there's no "meaning by Shakespeare," then there's no meaning
by anyone else,  and all the political meaning that Hawkes finds in
productions of Shakespeare's scripts, well, all those meanings just
aren't "there."

And, as you will have all realized already, there's no meaning in this
posting either. Meaning of meaning?  All is meaningless.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Appelbaum <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Jan 1998 17:47:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0090  Re: Postmodernism

If Yeats hated "abstractions" because they were "outside of life" I
wonder what was this thing "life" he thought he was referring to.
Clearly what Yeats really means is that he dislikes abstractions of a
certain kind.

Robert Appelbaum
 

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