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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Presentism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1202  Saturday, 28 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Nov 1998 10:32:20 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1197 Re: Presentism

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sat, 28 Nov 1998 00:08:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1197 Re: Presentism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Nov 1998 10:32:20 -0800
Subject: 9.1197 Re: Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1197 Re: Presentism

Terry writes:

> In that process, the present is not an obstacle to be avoided, or
> a prison to be 'escaped from' as David Lindley puts it. Quite the
> reverse: it's a factor to be actively sought out, grasped and perhaps,
> as a result, understood. A Shakespeare criticism which takes that on
> board will not yearn to speak with the dead.  It will aim, in the end,
> to talk to the living.

The self-fascination implied by this fixation on presence and the
present (which ultimately comes down to the self) rather reminds me of
another ceremony, in which every adolescent flatters himself with
originality.

Seriously, though, I can't imagine what concept could be easier to
accept than that the past is ultimately to be understood in terms of the
present.  This effectively destroys the otherness of the past, its
ethical claims upon us.  It leaves us in transparently self-centered
comfort:  nothing from the past (or the alterior, to use an elision of
which the early Levinas is fond) can threaten us, because nothing from
the past can even reach us.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sat, 28 Nov 1998 00:08:20 -0500
Subject: 9.1197 Re: Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1197 Re: Presentism

T. Hawkes writes:

>the present is not an obstacle to be avoided, or
>a prison to be 'escaped from' as David Lindley puts it. Quite the
>reverse: it's a factor to be actively sought out, grasped and perhaps,
>as a result, understood. A Shakespeare criticism which takes that on
>board will not yearn to speak with the dead.  It will aim, in the end,
>to talk to the living.

I'm not sure I can work my way through all these metaphors, trying to
escape obstacles, while grasping and yearning and taking things on board
(my yacht?), but is T. Hawkes asking us to forget about history and
historical concerns? And I'm wondering about this speaking with the
dead; does that include Marx as well as Shakespeare? And where are we
supposed to draw the historical line? Do we forgive the murderer of
Allende because, hey, that unpleasantness happened years ago?

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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