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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: January ::
Re: Postmodernism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0050  Wednesday, 14 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Lee Gibson <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 1998 15:38:40 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0044 Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   Mark Perew <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jan 1998 15:00:37 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0044  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Jan 1998 01:34:55 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 9.0044  Re: Postmodernism -Reply


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lee Gibson <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 1998 15:38:40 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 9.0044 Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0044 Re: Postmodernism

With most of what Laura Fargas says, I have no fundamental quarrel.
However, when she states that "sugar-coating the pill is not what
working writers I know say about the deep content of their work," she
ignores the fact that "sugar-coating the pill" is precisely the advice
Horace gives poets in the _Ars Poetica_, advice that was followed, to a
greater or lesser degree, by most "working writers" until very recently
(I don't have a copy handy or I'd post the relevant passage).

Lee Gibson
Department of English
Southern Methodist University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Perew <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jan 1998 15:00:37 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.0044  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0044  Re: Postmodernism

I guess I'm not clear on the relevance of this discussion thread.  It
seems to contain a lot of verbiage that doesn't really help me
understand or appreciate Shakespeare.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Jan 1998 01:34:55 +0000
Subject: Re: Postmodernism -Reply
Comment:        SHK 9.0044  Re: Postmodernism -Reply

>Dear Mike Jensen: Does this mean you won't be supporting my
>application for the post of Cultural Materialist to the Queen?

>T. Hawkes

Mr. Hawkes and others,

I not only support it, I hope you get a life peerage out of it.  I would
not support a post where you get to be rude to Her Highness.

Where do I begin?  Let's start with my recent silence.  My computer has
had major surgery over the past several days, the result of all that
hate mail no doubt, so my name has been taken a bit in vain without
response.  Perhaps it is better to suffer the slings and arrows of
outraged SHAKSPEAReans in silence, but I would like to answer some
messages I have received off list as well as on.

This is only for those of you who must lift the lid when they see a tea
pot with the sign, CAUTION, TEMPEST INSIDE.

First, thank you to the dozen or more of you who have contacted me off
list expressing support.  It is very kind.  I mention this on list
because I just don't have the time to get back to most of you
individually.

Odd that EVERYONE who wrote off list does not support Mr. Hawkes and
EVERYONE who wrote on list does!

A couple of misunderstandings.

1) I do not hate Mr. Hawkes.  Save an excellent contribution on Macbeth
several months ago,  I don't much respect his contributions to this
list.  That does not mean I want the job of President of the Hate
Terence Hawkes Society.  I did say one fairly negative thing to one
person off list, and wish I could take that back.  If you want to
exchange hate Hawkes messages with someone, please find another
partner.  I do concede the woman who suggested a support group for those
who receive his hit-and-run messages had a very funny idea.

2) I really don't have anything against postmodernism, and don't want to
get into bashing it either.  It bores me.  I can't generate any
interest, and I do have a couple of reservations.

In fact, I tried reading two of Mr. Hawkes well received books. I hate
to Rag on them, but they bored me too.  The reviewers found much to
praise. I am not made the same way.  I try not to judge them and want to
absorb their lessons, but I can't.  This leaves me doubtful of
postmodernism's usefulness.

I SUSPECT it is a dead end.  If you embrace it, where can you go next?
What is the next step in its critical evolution?  I don't see it.
Well, if I could see that, I would be a leader, not an outsider.

I am also suspicious of the motives of postmodernists.  I do not accuse
Mr. Hawkes or any other individual of this.  I don't know them, so I am
in no position to judge.  As a movement it seems to appeal to the vanity
of the scholar.

I read C. S. Lewis' _An Experiment in Criticism_ at an early age.  It
left quite an impression.  I want a text, or painting, or any artifact,
to be a bridge between an excellent mind and myself.  I want to
understand the world as the artist did so I may grow.  Not that I must
buy their world view, but I do want to understand it.  They are saying
something worth learning.  I am not postmodern because I believe some
minds are more excellent than others.

If I understand postmodernism and deconstructionism, and I may not,
those critics are well insulated from this experience.  They get to be
as smart as the artist, maybe smarter.  They become judges of the artist
and the artifact.  They do not sit at the feet of someone with an
excellent mind and learn.  They put them in their place.

Also, as one off list correspondent wrote, what is Mr. Hawkes doing
calling anything sinister?  Isn't that against the grain is his
approach?  It seems to me that it is.  I suspect postmodernists can not
live consistently with their assumptions.  That does not bother many
people.  It does bother me.  If it is real, it should be consistent when
it rubs up against the real world.

Ain't I old fashioned?

If I do misunderstand you, please correct me, but postmodernism just
doesn't curl my toes.  That does not mean I want to bash it.  I'd rather
devote that time to learning something new.

So much for what I don't feel.  Here is what I do:

There were three or four messages on list putting words in my mouth,
then condemning me for those words.  I did not recommend Mr. Hawkes be
banned from the list.  I recommended probation.  He has a long pattern
of snide little messages to those with whom he disagrees.  When he does
this, he seldom puts in enough substance for anyone to really respond.
See his message to me above.  Though it lacked the bitterness of several
of his other messages, it does not provoke or engage an issue.  It tries
to hit-and-run, though I didn't let him get very far.

A common practice of chat rooms and lists like these is to ban someone
who flames others.  I recommended Mr. Hawkes become polite.  I hope that
he will.  If he can not, THEN consider banning him.  It is the only way
to protect list members from someone who is incorrigible.   Everyone who
contacted me off list agreed, BTW, though I do not believe that a
majority is always right.  (And technically, this sampling is not a
majority anyway.)

I would have respected Mr. Hawkes initial response if he had
deconstructed the New York Times satire, or at least pointed out any
cheap shots.  A deconstruction would have been a treat.

To those of you who treated me as a lad of straw, then hacked at me, I
say with Benedick, _Serve God, love me, and mend._

Best to all, even Mr. Hawkes,
Mike Jensen

[Editor's Note: SHAKSPER is not a chat room.  It is a moderated
discussion list.  As editor, I am the only person who makes decisions
about the status of members, although I may, at times, consult with my
Advisory Board, of which Mr. Hawkes is a member.  Any complaints about
the conduct of individual members should be sent to me as personal mail.
I thoughtfully reflect on all such messages, but public discussion of
individuals is not appropriate.  Running a list such as SHAKSPER
involves many difficult judgment calls.  SHAKSPER is an international
list; what is impoliteness to one person may be a form of discourse to
another. In any case, from now on, the discussion of postmodernism
should continue in as lively a manner as it has proceeded, but any
complaints about members should be sent to me a personal e-mail.
-Hardy]
 

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