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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: January ::
Re: Postmodernism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0077  Monday, 26 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 00:12:57 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0072  Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 14:49:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 17:17:50 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

[4]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 Jan 1998 00:19:01 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

[5]     From:   Robert Appelbaum <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 20:22:07 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

[6]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Sunday, 25 Jan 1998 16:34:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 00:12:57 -0800
Subject: 9.0072  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0072  Re: Postmodernism

I'm sure Bill and Robin are more than capable of dealing with the more
than usually hawkish message today, but I just wish to point out the (I
thought) self-evident fact that no one is denying that the terms in
which we perceive the world affect our judgements thereof.  The
objection is to the possibility that everything is completely textual,
leaving no surplus whatsoever, i.e., an actual holocaust, actual (date I
say it?) "human" suffering behind the movies, memorials, historical
texts, and advertisements.

I have no idea how Terry can possibly talk about a "'representation' of
these appalling events-inseparable from their occurrence" while
maintaining any sort of notion of the arbitrariness of signification.
If the event and its representation (i.e., the signified and the
signifier) are "inseperable" than we're back to an implicit idealism,
which is roughly where the rest of us are accused of being all along.

Moreover, how can one speak of an "occurrence" at all if "there is
nothing outside the text"?  Surely the latter statement abolishes the
occurrent altogether in a play of representations.  Anyone who claims to
have access to an occurrent is shouted down these days as an empiricist,
by people who would, were they really consistent, proclaim that there
are no gas chambers, only appearances of gas chambers, or perhaps, that
the appearance is the gas chamber.

To deny that there is a world outside the text is not to liberate us
towards a consideration of representations.  We could consider
representations without raising them into a totalizing ontology;
philosophers have questioned each others' terms since at least
Socrates.  What such a denial of the world outside text does, is to also
deny the ability of anythng to make a claim upon us, like an ethical
claim, for instance, a claim greater than what can simply be relativized
as another representation, equivalent to, and in play with, other
representations.  Within such a textual play, a play absolutely
relative, and completely ungrounded in referentiality, "holocaust,"
"final solution," "Falklands War", or "hoax" are all equal.  Only within
the light of an absolutely a priori claim upon us, existing before the
cynicism of considering terms only as terms, can we choose ahead of time
which terms to deconstruct, whether we will use the tools at our
disposal for the evil purpose of holocaust denial or the virtuous
purpose of anti-imperialism.  Only given the a priori claim of ethics
upon us is Terry's implicitly ethical framework grounded, and rescued
from the nihilistic relativism which would deny human suffering.  And
such claims which arrive from radically alterior to the agent, are
denied, implicitly or explicitly, by all statements to the effect that
everything is representation, text, or politics.

Yours,
Sean Lawrence.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 14:49:03 -0500
Subject: 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

Bill Godshalk, criticizing Terry Hawkes use of metaphor, uses the same
kind of metaphor:

>Seriously, this kind of metaphor obscures rather than reveals. It's a
>rhetorical tactic, not an attempt at genuine analysis.

Obviously, no metaphors actively obscure anything. Metaphors are simply
metaphors; they are not tactics. What Godshalk should have said was:
Terry Hawkes uses this kind of metaphor to obscure what's really going
on, and he uses this kind of metaphor as a rhetoric tactic in order to
avoid genuine analysis.

Shame on you,
Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 17:17:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

I'm jumping into the fray mid-stream, without any training in the
critical methods discussed here, so apologies up front if this is coming
from left field, as we baseball fans would say...

Words do have great significance, and teh framers of words have great
power over those whom the words define.  There are adequate examples in
Elizabethan English I'm sure, but the one that comes to my mind most
vividly is Russian, because of a recent study I've made:

If you pick up a video of Tarkovsky's masterpiece _Andrei Rublev_, one
of the early chapters deals with the 'jester', the 'skomorokh'.  The
word itself isn't even Russian, it's a neologism created by Church
authorities in the 13th century, to describe a native phenomenon they
disliked and wanted to stamp out.

The 'skomorokh' was a pagan functionary, whose music and song were an
integral part of every major festival on the old pagan calendar.  When
urbanization called, some of them came to the cities to make some money
in a secular way with their talents, but their origins were pagan and
everybody knew it.

Since the Church/State controlled the written word, and hence had teh
power to define classes of people as they saw fit, they used the word
'skomorokh' to imply they were fakes and clowns, all the while knowing
their pagan origins.  Church councils attest to the fact that they
continued to be an essential part of rural Russian life well into the
17th century.  Only when Tsar Aleksei banned them, and burned all
musical instruments by decree in 1648, did their craft finally die out.

They were the only truly Russian theatrical form, and were snuffed out
in favor of the French-style stuff (Aleksei, not Peter the Great, was
teh first to westernize the Russian court).  The fact that the Church
couldn't compete with them, and watched their flock empty the churches
to participate in the rusalka, rusalia, kalodki, etc., had a lot to do
with their persecution and banishment as well.

So, Dr. Godshalk, there _is_ something in a word, they can signify a
great deal, they're not to be taken for granted by any means.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 Jan 1998 00:19:01 -0000
Subject: 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

My apologies to Peter Holland,

After the ill-informed onslaughts of "Norm" and the resolutely
ineducable Wild Bill Godshalk, not to mention Robin Read-em-and-weep
Wells, on a postmodernism of their own fabrication,  I thought I'd
better go and wash my signifiers thoroughly.  I did and now I can't do a
thing with them.  Wherefore art thou Tromio?  A rose by any other word
would swell as smeat.

Bet Swishes,
Porfessor J Drak

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Appelbaum <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jan 1998 20:22:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

My esteemed colleague Bill Godshalk has never seen the inside of a
name.  But I wonder how he would deal with the following exchange, as
copied from the Bevington edition:

_Enter Katharina_

PETRUCHIO:

Good morrow, Kate, for that's your name, I hear.

KATHARINA:

Well you have heard, but something hard of hearing.
They call me Katharine that do talk of me.

PETRUCHIO:

You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my superdainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me . . .

Call me Irresponsible, but it seems to me that the metaphor about things
being _inside_ a name has a certain, shall we say, critical pertinence.
It seems to me that the difference between Kate, Katharina, and
Katharine is something like the difference between The Gulf War, the
Bombing of Iraq, and the Jihad where Sadam stood up to the American
invaders at the cost of only a few hundred thousand soldiers.  And I'm
not sure whether what is "inside" any of these names, AS IT WERE, is
ever really the same "thing."

Irresponsible Appelbaum

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 Jan 1998 16:34:35 -0500
Subject: 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0074  Re: Postmodernism

Terence Hawkes' point about Rwanda/Gulf War/Falklands vs. Holocaust
(surely not too refined for Father William Godshalk) seems this: that
the metonymies we agree to use for complex events can suggest something
about our attitudes toward those events.  A term with lots of more or
less consistent connotations like Holocaust already begins to express
feelings about the events to which it refers (contrast with Final
Solution); whereas a more or less neutral geographic indicator like
Rwanda or Bosnia implies a corresponding emotional neutrality.  The
issue comes clear in the tacit choice between Gulf War and War Against
Iraq or Iraqi War.  It is understandable enough that the British press
mostly chose  to refer to the Falklands War rather than the Malvinas War
(Hawkes can say better than I whether the leftish media tried to
establish some other name); it can be argued that we express a tacit
inclination to the British side of that conflict when we agree to use
their term.

Can SHAKSPERians remind me what contemporaries called the expedition
against the Irish?  Or the full Spanish title for the Armada?

Nomenclaturally,
Dave Evett
 

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