1998

Re: Vendler

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0032  Thursday, 8 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Curtis Perry <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 10:07:44 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Vendler & Christopher Warley

[2]     From:   Nicholas R Moschovakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 12:37:06 -0600
        Subj:    Re: SHK 9.0025 Vendler


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Curtis Perry <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 10:07:44 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        Vendler & Christopher Warley

Just a quick reply to Christopher Warley's response, which I'll
reproduce here:

" I like Vicker's reading very much, but it is, after all, a reading of
Petrarch alone.  To suggest, somehow, that poems written over 200 years
later in radically different circumstances function necessarily in the
same way seems unlikely at best.  The invocation of "the Petrarchan
sonnet sequence" as a genre only begs the question of what a "Petrarchan
sonnet sequence" might be, and it tells us very little about
Shakespeare's sequence since it may or may not be "Petrarchan" (I would
say probably not) and may or may not be a "sequence" (I would say yes
with the qualification that "sequence" and "narrative" are not the same
thing).  Perry's use of Vickers and Petrarch functions similarly to
Vendler a la Fargas' use of the "poet," sounds suspiciously modern, and
historical, to me."

In citing Nancy Vickers on Petrarch, I was using a bit of shorthand
perhaps, but not eliding 200 years into one.  My argument is this: since
Sonnet sequences in England - including Shakespeare's - cite, parody,
imitate, and otherwise comment upon Petrarch, it seems fair to say that
whatever is thematically central in Petrarch MAY BE at stake in these
other, later sequences as well.  An argument of the kind Vendler objects
to, about the "silencing" of women in Sidney or even Shakespeare, is
likely to draw upon the Petrarchan tradition to frame the case. And upon
Vickers's work in particular. The arguement is not that Petrarch and
Shakespeare live together in some timeless poet's elysium and so are
identical, but that Petrarch was in various ways an influential model
for writers of love poems - especially sonnet sequences - and that this
influence is part of the feminist account of the sonnet tradition in
England.

I was only objecting to Vendler's dismissiveness in my first post, not
really making any claim about Shakespeare, the sonnets, or the dark
lady.  But I do think that the extent of Petrarch's influence upon
Shakespeare is an interesting question. I don't want "to beg the
question of what a Petrarchan sonnet sequence might be," and in fact I'd
be curious to hear opinions, either on or off the list.

Hope this clarifies,
Curtis

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicholas R Moschovakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 12:37:06 -0600
Subject: 9.0025 Vendler
Comment:         Re: SHK 9.0025 Vendler

If the "poet's mind" is a concept we get from the 19th century, then the
19th century got it from Shakespeare, though of course in mediated
forms.  Historical contingency is all well and good, but let's please
remember who wrote that "the poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,/ Doth
glance..." etc.

Vendler is a brilliant critic who, unlike some early modernists I know,
considers poetry a living art NOW. Her aim is obviously to bring
novelty, not pedantry, to our reading of the sonnets, and she does so in
a way which brings objective clarity to some formal features that have
generally gone unnoticed - for instance, the frequent proliferation of
what she calls "key-words" and related morphemes in embedded  forms (not
usually anagrams) throughout individual sonnets. These are revelations
which I, at least, would rather save from the deck of a sinking ship
than even the most sophisticated book of historicist criticism.

Re: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust web site

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0031  Thursday, 8 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Susan Brock <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 17:44:39 +0000
        Subj:   Shakespeare Birthplace Trust web site

[2]     From:   Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 15:53:59 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0026  Re: New Shakespeare web site


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan Brock <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 17:44:39 +0000
Subject:        Shakespeare Birthplace Trust web site

Apologies to all members of the list who tried to find the Shakespeare
Birthplace Trust web site after the announcement of its appearance on
January 6. In transmitting the file the crucial URL was lost. The site
is at

www.shakespeare.org.uk

Please let me know off-list if you have any problems accessing it or
have any comments and suggestions for improvements.

Susan Brock
Head of Academic Resource Development
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 15:53:59 GMT
Subject: 9.0026  Re: New Shakespeare web site
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0026  Re: New Shakespeare web site

I'm sure Susan Brock will reply as well but the URL for the new
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website is www.shakespeare.org.uk. This is
the first and only official Shakespeare Birthplace Trust site and,
judging from the preview I saw here in Stratford on Twelfth Night, will
be an excellent and exciting resource - without the kinds of errors
other websites have had and to which Richard Nathan drew attention.

Re: Scenes in Parliament

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0029  Thursday, 8 January 1998.

[1]     From:   John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 11:34:39 -0500
        Subj:   Parliament

[2]     From:   Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 11:25:52 -0500 (EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

[3]     From:   Michael Ullyot <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 15:20:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

[4]     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 21:19:55 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

[5]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 12:06:09 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 11:34:39 -0500
Subject:        Parliament

In response to Ira Abrams' inquiry about scenes in parliament, the
opening scene of *3 Henry VI* is set in parliament, as implied in the
dialogue.  For Shakespeare, this would have been Westminster Hall, as
Bevington's note indicates.

John Cox

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 11:25:52 -0500 (EST
Subject: 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

Check out Act 4 of _Cataline_ by Ben Jonson:  it's set in the Senate.
Part of Act 3 of _Sejanus_, also by Jonson, is set in the Senate too.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Ullyot <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 15:20:30 -0500
Subject: 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

The most famous scene-of Richard's deposition-in Shakespeare's _Richard
II_  is set in the House of Commons, and undoubtedly a number of other
histories (esp. the Henry VI cycle) have this setting as well. The stage
directions can be nebulous but good editors (particularly those of the
New Penguin series) will note a scene's historical setting, if not
Shakespeare's intended one.

Michael Ullyot

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 21:19:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

Doesn't Henry VI, Part 3 begin in Parliament?  Or is that Westminster?
The York boys are hanging out and scratching themselves, wherever it is.

Has anyone ever avoided getting a laugh on Henry's line about getting
the hell out of there when he hears Margaret's on her way in?  We just
rolled with it, because it is pretty funny, actually.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
Newnan, GA

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 12:06:09 -0800
Subject: 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0024  Query: Scenes in Parliament

What about the trial of Katherine at Blackfriar's in Shakespeare's
_Henry VIII_?

Cheers,
Sean

Re: Postmodernism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0030  Thursday, 8 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 13:02:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   Robert Dennis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 15:14:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Ira Abrams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 22:45:21 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

[4]     From:   Tiffany Rasovic <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 08 Jan 1998 10:25:11 +0000
Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism: Mr. Jensen

[5]     From:   Jacqueline Strax <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:   Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 12:40:4    8 -0
Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

[6]     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 13:10:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 13:02:15 -0500
Subject: 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

Why would anyone want anyone else banned from this often informative and
occasionally inflamed list? We are all grownups and can look our for
ourselves -as amply demonstrated by the current dust-up.

Mary Jane Miller
Director of Dramatic Literature, Drama in Education  and Theatre Studies
Brock University,

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Dennis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 15:14:56 -0500
Subject: 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

On Mon., 05 Jan 1998, Laura Fargas <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> wrote:
     >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.

Doesn't this pronouncement itself violate the principles of
post-modernism under whose banner Ms. Fargas has charged forth?  To
suggest that Shakespeare was trying to write something equivalent to a
weekly Seinfeld episode, concerned _only_ with getting the show on the
boards appears to be a modern interpretation of an era about which Ms.
Fargas by self-admission knows little.  With regard to putting his show
on the boards, I would agree that Shakespeare probably faced numerous
hassles doing that; but is it not possible that he was doing _more_ than
that?  One might say he was "doing just that", but not "doing
_just_that".

Claiming that Shakespeare intended nothing more than the play's action
itself to be communicated to the viewer is perilously close to the
opinion, "[..any writer..] was only doing what _I_ am capable of
understanding".  There is an appropriate milieu for this type of assault
on literature and literary theory from the standpoint that, whatever one
does not understand is, _ipso_ _facto_, not available to you in the
work, regardless of whether the writer intended for it to be there.  But
such a claim is quite different from a claim that the author actually
never had any intentionality at all.  The claim of no intentionality is
as weak as the opposite claim of specifically detailed intentionality.
Neither critic has priority for reading the mind of the dead author.

My experience in reading and in watching plays and movies, has taught me
that if literary material lends itself to a larger-scope interpretation,
it pretty much was the intent of the author to put it there.  In fact,
most, if not all, writers appear to be putting more than just the words
on paper; some writers are much better at sugar-coating the pill than
others.  Yes, there are interpreters whose extremes of
self-accommodation and self-appropriation should clearly put us off
their evaluations and pronouncements.  But because one person might
abuse critical license, does it therefore mean that we must put aside
all intellectual exercises with respect to literature?

In a recent mathematics book the writer, Shaughan Lavine, after
re-telling a commonly reported an erroneous account/interpretation in
the recent history of mathematics states:

        "There are three main philosophical purposes for telling
     the story just sketched.  The first is to counteract the
     baneful influence of the standard account, which seems to
     have convinced many philosophers of mathematics that our
     intuitions are seriously defective and not to be relied on
     and that the axioms of mathematics are therefore to a large
     extent arbitrary, historically determined, conventional, and
     so forth.  The details vary, but the pejoratives multiply."

While Lavine intended his sentiments only for his description of the
development of Cantor's theory of the infinite and subsequent
developments in set theory, it struck me as I read his words, that we
might easily and sensibly re-read the paragraph substituting terms
appropriate to recent theory of literature and literary criticism:

   Some post-modernists have attempted to convince us that the
institutions
   of literary achievement are "seriously defective and not to be relied
   on" and that the axioms of literary quality and literary analysis are
   "to a large extent arbitrary, historically determined, conventional
..."

I stand with the crowd (?) who think the extremists among
post-modernists are wrong: that literary institutions retain a great
deal of validity, and that the axioms of literary quality are neither
arbitrary nor necessarily historically determined.

Sincerely, and with great respect for professional critics and
theorists,
Bob Dennis
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ira Abrams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 1998 22:45:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

> Let us continue to band together to teach Mr. Hawkes civility.  If he will not
>learn it, I hope he will be banned from this list.

As one of the people who responded unfavorably to  T. Hawkes' last
message, I would like to be counted out of the lynch-mob now forming on
the right.  If I thought my only alternative to suffering the slings and
arrows of outrageous deconstruction had been to <<band together>> with
wounded political animals, I would have shuffled off my academic coil
long ago.

Ira Abrams

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tiffany Rasovic <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 08 Jan 1998 10:25:11 +0000
Subject: 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism: Mr. Jensen
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism: Mr. Jensen

Dear Mr. Jensen,

Your assertion that Prof. Hawkes' reply to the Jenny Jones' spin-off was
an 'attack' is itself an overstatement.  I saved and re-read the
messages in question and I find them to be quite civil.  Your message
reads much more like a 'flaming' attack than what Hawkes' wrote.

In actuality, Hawkes was defending a position which-God prohibit it!--he
feels strongly about. He did not merely huff and puff about it, rather
he gave coherent and compelling reasons for his position.  I think that
the academic community, even in undergraduate courses is being paralyzed
and dehumanized by people caring so much about civility.  Let's get
passionate about something-after all, this is drama we're talking
about.  I like to think that Mr. W. S. was not a cold fish, and I
envision him getting drunk while running new verses with his actors and
getting out-of-hand and carried away by the emotions-which, I suspect we
have all done at one time or another.

A teacher of Italian who lives in my building bemoans the apathy of his
students-I bemoan the dry-intellectualism of my colleagues at Boston
College's English department-and they are Masters students who will
teach! But with what fervor!? (Perhaps I should run away and join a
theater troupe.) The only time I can get a real discussion going is with
my husband, but he's not an American, he is a Yugoslav and they allow a
much broader range of emotions socially and professionally than we do
over here.  This can be a real headache, yet it can also be great fun.

I'm not bashing 'pc' nor am I advocating the Spice Girls be canonized
fact, I hide behind Socrates-"I know that I know nothing."

Let's get passionate (but not 'flaming' or too personal)-However, let's
get passionate about the matter we are here to discuss.  Someone wrote
that we are getting off the topic, Shakespeare, and I fully agree.  Take
your comments to a postmodern discussion list, or make them private.

Cheers,
Tiffany Rasovic

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacqueline Strax <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 12:40:48 -0500
Subject: 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

> > 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.

I wish I could (still)  write like this because maybe then I would have
finished my dissertation and been hired by a Canadian university and
made a lot of money and had a pension plan.  Instead I got a precarious
life and read more deconstructionists than anyone needs (only a few of
them are truly sublime) and along the way thought some more about what
makes Shakespeare's plays so wonderful that even a fourteen-year-old
girl in a messed up family in post-war Britain could, simply by reading
them in a classroom next to a factory, start claiming at least one key
to the freedom of her own mind, heart, and soul.

Reader, that girl was me, c. 1955/6. Now would the Spice Girls have done
it for me? Well, sure, I liked Little Richard, The Diamonds, Gene
Vincent and the Blue Caps, and Ray Charles singing See that Girl With
the Red Dress On. Not (at that time) Doris Day. Some of that era's
"trashy entertainment" was one of my gate's to the sublime right then
and there. And this is part of what Shakespeare, Blake and the Gang
affirmed (why not say, told me?): you always have eyes to see with.
Keep them open. Your body can tell as well as your mind; your mind can
tell as well as your body.

Let's consider the belatedness of:

>> 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.

Where would I be now if I'd had to wait for my future, temporary
academic self to give me the gift of theorizing everything I was already
registering and sorting out about what was rotten and what I valued in
the state of my self, my family, Britain? What I really enjoyed, who I
really loved, how I could hate and love the same person, etc. Where
would I be if, before valuing them, I'd waited for the future to explain
why I believed ("on my life") that Jayne Mansfield, Ray Charles, Dave
Brubeck, Louis Armstrong & Co, Picasso, Karl Marx, and Shakespeare when
he put Hamlet out there crying "A rat! a rat!" as he lunged with his
rapier - all were letting valuable stuff into the world?

Stuff, data, information, put into play ( I might say now) in such a way
that uncontaminated feelings and rank phoniness, truth and lies, honesty
and trickery danced before my eyes.

I might *say* something like this now (in the slack style of an OBD);
and being able to reflect on and analyze past experience may save one's
sanity. But I experienced it then and there. Which is why it seems to me
now that this specific postmodernist account I'm reacting to of how
Dross Turns to Gold through the alchemy that is "the manifest project of
postmodernism" really is bad science.

It is bad science, and it looks like freezedried Levis-ism. It posits a
necessary Higher (future) Criticism without which ApparentTrash has no
value. But nothing will persuade me against this: an infant registers
the difference between sublime and disgusting. That's how it gets to
stay alive, by rooting for mother's milk and glomming on when it finds
it. And a child can tell when something *suppresses* something else (and
has inklings of all  that that implies).

Human beings (till we're all clones) come with varying degrees of
sensitivity, robustness, eagerness and patience, etc. But they really do
have a set (is it five or seven?)  of facial expressions (happiness,
disgust etc). These really are *for* something - registering Telling
Food from Poison, etc. And this usually works.

Art is made by human beings (and maybe a few other animals). Human
beings cannot help asking "is this any good?" (for me and mine, for
other people, for future generations, for animals and plants, for the
planet, for the universe.... ). Deconstructionist criticism is good when
practiced as an art, even as a medicine. But so far, to the extent it
aspires to science, or meta-science, it often seems to turn out (like a
good bit of Freud and most of Marxist-Leninism) to be practiced in a
vacuum constructed to keep science out for the sake of one or other
pseudo-scientific Authority.

This is too far from Spice Girls and Shakespeare. Sorry. But I would
argue, only a science that likes art can explain how human beings make
the kinds of judgments postmodernism extols when it makes them on all
our behalves.

As for banning Terence Hawkes, I'd leave this list if any such nonsense
occurs. Ban Falstaff, ban Falstaff, ban T Hawkes? Get real.

Jacqueline Strax

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 8 Jan 1998 13:10:51 -0500
Subject: 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0028  Re: Postmodernism

In one idiomatic use of the term, "hawk[e]s" is usually followed by
"spit[e]s." This cheers me.

But I want to defend Mr. T. H. against Mike Jensen's proposal that he be
banned from the group-the incivility of his Red rags ("Tory!  Tory!")
has spun off some of the liveliest threads in the history of the site
(including this one), in ways that more courteous but more diffuse
provocations might not.  We'd be poorer without him.

Dave Evett

Re: Postmodernism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0028  Wednesday, 7 January 1998.

[1]     From:   Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 01:01:24 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 01:54:41 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0021  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesdayy, 07 Jan 1998 01:05:51 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 9.0013  Re: Postmodern


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 01:01:24 +0800
Subject: 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0017  Re: Postmodernism

> A hierarchy of art which places Shakespeare over Dworkin and Bach over
> the Spice Girls is ripe for deconstruction.

However, this not something about which we should all be praising God.
More often than not it is just another excuse to exercise Resentment.

> An age-old bugbear of
> cultural elitism is the seeming preference of the masses for dross,

Yes,  "dross"; in other words, the Spice Girls.

> Rhodes's hierarchy is ambivalently structured.  His `objectively better'
> art is doubly burdened with having to surpass comparable works (other
> music, other poetry, other drama) and unalike works such as feminist
> theory.

I would argue that the canonical status of those mentioned in Rhodes'
hierarchy as "greater" is already assured. There is no burden: those on
his list do not have to "compete" with feminist theory,  nor with any
artistic piece that follow.  Rather,  I imagine,  it would be the other
way around, and hence the success of Rhodes' examples: the Spice Girls
can never compete with Bach for an eminent position in the western
musical tradition. It's a sad day if,  ideology aside,  anyone believes
that they could.

Art is not a game played on a level field, despite what some may think
(though the "game" analogy would surely appeal to some peoples' critical
tastes). There are fixtures on the landscape, Shakespeare in literature
being one, Bach in music another.  The Spice Girls and Dworkin have not
yet proved themselves artistically to warrant inclusion into any sort of
canon.

>Might I further Rhodes's line of argument?  What need have we
>of particle physics and quantum theory when we know that [etc.]
> Albert Einstein?  I wouldn't give him house-room.

As far as I can see,  this is not a logical or even a reasonable
extension of Rhodes' argument: he was not insinuating that we should do
away with the Spice Girls just because he feels that Bach is better.
Rather,  no doubt,  his preference was based on taste: it was not some
deliberate ideological exercise in canon-building.

I am with Norm Holland and his Messiah, and Rhodes and his Baby
Spice-free Bach.

Simon Malloch.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jan 1998 01:54:41 +0800
Subject: 9.0021  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0021  Re: Postmodernism

> 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.

It is one thing to say that Shakespeare was the Spice Girls of his day,
another to actually compare them on an artistic level (which is what
Rhodes was objecting to).  I think that you blur the lines here.  The
Spice Girls cannot sneak into eminence because they share the same sort
of popular appeal as Shakespeare attracted in his own day,  nor is this
common-ground a justification for a comparison.  Artistic merit does
play a role.

When, in say 400 years time,  people are listening to the latest
remastering of a Spice Girls CD on the Deutsche Gramphon "Originals"
label,  meanwhile thumbing enthusiastically through their virtual copy
of The Riverside Dworkin, and I say "thumbing" because by that stage
reading will be considered defunct in the same way that the term "text"
today is preferred to such scandalous words like "novel" or "play", then
perhaps there will be a case for comparison.

But, I feel warmed by the thought that there will never be such a time,
that the Spice Girls will disappear, as did bear-baiting. Indeed, the
former is a sort of "baiting" too, evidently.  Art with aesthetic merit
survives; dross doesn't.

As for the royalty-Spice Girls connection, this is probably less a case
of "leisure," and more a case of pressure for the Windsors to be more
accessible.  No doubt Shakespeare attracted royalty through *merit*
(what else??), whereas as the Spice Girls have the *popularity* with the
younger generation which the Windsors want.

> 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.

This vastly overrates the supposed achievements of post-modernism.  I
fail to see one good example of an artist - across the spectrum of art
forms -  who has been resurrected (and that is virtually what it takes)
and who now sits amidst the very popular and gifted likes of
Shakespeare,  Michaelangelo, and Beethoven.

More probably,  transmission comes less from ideology,  but from
artworks (and art forms, if you like) influencing subsequent pieces.  It
is this process of influence that turns what passed as common
entertainment into great pieces of art; some pieces - the real trash -
clearly did not and do not last, and it seems that it now takes a
theoretical,  rather than an artistic,  lifeline to bring them to the
fore.

I tend to see post-modernism in a far more negative light than the above
description,  which makes the cause sound like a mission from God.  The
belittling of tradition in order to elevate marginalised artists does
not appeal to me,  nor does the current atmosphere that dictates that
one is an Enemy for not placing the Spice Girls/Dworkin and
Bach/Shakespeare on equal footing.

> 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.

I fully and gladly agree. And I am glad that you included this; esp.
considering earlier comments about Shakespeare's decisions about what
material of his would or would not be transcendental.

With good humour,
Simon Malloch.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesdayy, 07 Jan 1998 01:05:51 +0000
Subject: Re: Postmodern -Reply
Comment:        SHK 9.0013  Re: Postmodern -Reply

I am heartened at the current hue and cry about Terence Hawks nasty
little attack.  He has frequently gotten away with flaming members of
this list with his little hit and run messages.  Since he does not use
the words usually associated with flaming, no one has taken much
notice-until now.

I don't care how many books he has published, or his stature in the
Shakespeare community.  It is high time his tricks were exposed.  Let us
continue to band together to teach Mr. Hawkes civility.  If he will not
learn it, I hope he will be banned from this list.

Most sincerely,
Mike Jensen

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.