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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: January ::
Re: Postmodernism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0021  Tuesday, 6 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Laura Fargas <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Jan 1998 16:11:26 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0017   Postmodernism

[2]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Jan 1998 17:42:56 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Fargas <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Jan 1998 16:11:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0017   Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0017   Postmodernism

> Paul Rhodes wrote
>
> I believe that Bach is objectively better than, say, Journey or
> Alice Cooper or the Spice Girls.  I believe that Shakespeare's
> writing is objectively better than say the writing of, say,
>  Andrea Dworkin.
>
> Because the post-modernist denies the very possibilities of
> transcendent verities, he is attempting to rob humanity of
> hope.  For quite simply the one who denies transcendence
> condemns, whether he knows it or not, humanity to the prison of
> time with no hope of liberation.

Since I picked on T. Hawkes, it seems only fair for me to say that this
equally humor-free remark by P. Rhodes is in itself an elegant and
sufficient demonstration of the need for post-modernist thinking.
Perhaps also for historicism, new, old, and parboiled.

The most cursory knowledge of the era-which is exactly all I can claim
-- teaches that in his plays Shakespeare was not trying to write
transcendent material.  He was trying to get a show on the boards.
Moreover, his plays _were_ the Spice Girls of their day: terrifically
successful popular entertainments that also attracted the glancing
interest of royalty at its leisure.  After all, the Spice Girls were
recently photographed with Princes Charles and William, no doubt to the
greater glory of them all.  The Globe, Rose, and Swan stood in a
precinct with the brothels and the bearbaiting ring, not uptown with the
palaces; they were railed at alike as corrupters of apprentices. There
was a great deal of standing room at penny-a-head, but only one or two
lords' rooms at twelve pence, at the old Globe.

Any respectable deconstructionist of the late Tudor era would have been
attempting to argue that as a text, Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's
Dream' was at least as literally valuable as something by Seneca or
Plautus, let alone a Platonian dialogue.  And any respectable literary
scholar of the time would have laughed 'til his garters unbuckled and
his stockings downgyv'd at the mere concept. (I would love to say, "or
until her points unlaced," but the advent of respected female literary
scholars still awaited the definitive deconstruction of the concept that
the female mind was biologically incapable of serious ratiocination.)

What's more, I'm pretty sure Ben Jonson would have been laughing right
along with my hypothetical scholar, and I suspect Shakespeare might have
done, too.  After all, it was his long poems, not his plays, that
Shakespeare (at least initially) regarded most seriously, and that he
took care to see into print.

One era's trashy entertainment becomes another era's gate to the
sublime.  Why? At least in part because the people of the second era
have been given, or have developed, "eyes to see with."  Whence cometh
that gift or development?  From the precise kind of interrogation of
value judgments, both explicit and so implicit as to be nearly
invisible, that is the manifest project of post-modernism.

On the other hand, if we are to speak of post-modernism robbing an
identifiable segment of humanity of all hope... what drives me to
despair, or at least nuts, about deconstruction is that poems and plays
become 'texts,' and the author disappears.  It's enough to make a poet
want to cry 'alas, alack, and fie!' and simply wait for someone else to
write one's books.

Alackingly yours,
Laura Fargas

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Jan 1998 17:42:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism

Once again I step in over my head into waters muddied by far finer
minds.

The "eternal verities" argument goes around in circles, but this just
struck me.  I'm mulling over on a [post-modern, even] performance piece
for our community theatre's Reading series later this month, and the
theme I've been mulling over suddenly jumped out as me as what seems to
be an undeniable eternal verity: Every fair from fair sometime declines.

I don't think it matters whether we are staunchly paternalistic,
feminist, postmodern, deconstructionist, whatever.  Those moments we
treasure, based on whatever values system we've elaborated or inherited,
cannot stay.  And there is an inescapable human sadness to that fact.

Comments by the deconstructionist [as long as you don't get bogged down
in jargon, which tends to the circular] would be more than welcome.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
Newnan, GA
 

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