Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0758  Thursday, 13 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Jean Peterson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:05:51 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0748  Re: Porn

[2]     From:   Todd Lidh <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:58:54 -0400
        Subj:   Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.

[3]     From:   Peter Holland <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:10:13 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0753  Re: Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.

[4]     From:   Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 10:50:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Romeo and Juliet

[5]     From:   Chris Kendall <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:25:57 -0600
        Subj:   R & J


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:05:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0748  Re: Porn
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0748  Re: Porn

Paul Rhodes writes:

 >I decided to use the
>name in my addy after I was in a production of Marat/Sade, one of the
>great dramas of this century and hardly pornography.

Like Prof. Rhodes' claims on the nature of Romantic love in the same
posting, this is a subjective analysis, hardly a concrete and objective
truth.  There is a moment in the film of Marat/Sade (and if my memory is
correct, the stage directions of the published playtext indicate that
this business comes from the original production) that I find utterly
pornographic: the rapes of the wife and daughter of the (I believe)
governor of the asylum by the inmates in the asylum riot. What offends
me most about the rapes is the complete erasure of the subjectivity and
experience of the women themselves: they exist merely as symbols of the
conflict between the opposed groups of men: (asylum governor:
oppression, bourgeoise complacency, status, power, vs. the human "wild
side" represented by the inmates, and of course, by Sade and his play).
So there is a disturbing implication-and the way the film represents the
women's terror as almost comic reinforces this-that the audience is
meant to sympathize, perhaps even cheer, as the oppressed and
downtrodden inmates take out their fury and frustration-not on the
governor himself-but on the bodies of "his" women-women who, let us
recall, have as little genuine power, freedom, or self-determination as
the inmates themselves.  Ugh.  But then, that's the kind of pornography
I find offensive: that which is rife with misogyny (or misandrony) and
violence, and which (mis)-uses sex as a weapon of torture, humiliation,
or revenge.  As long as everyone is enjoying him-herself, I really don't
care who's shown zooming who.

Which is why I applaud Prof. Cook's decision not to censor Richard Burt;
one man's "great drama" is another man's (or woman's) porn.  Besides,
even the most squeamish among us can hardly be contaminated by viewing a
list of titles, and if you are really bothered by the discussion, you
can just skip the posting.

Jean Peterson
Bucknell University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Lidh <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 08:58:54 -0400
Subject:        Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.

Paul Rhodes wrote:

"Lust cannot be a tragic flaw in the Aristotelian Sense because lust is
not an admirable quality.  An Aristotelian Tragic Flaw is also the
Hero's most noble trait."

I questioned this interpretation of Aristotle when I read it, but to be
sure, I went to a translation (found on the Internet) which said pretty
much what I thought:

"There remains, then, the character between these two extremes- that of
a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is
brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty."

To me, this indicates that a tragic flaw by Aristotle's understanding
was not the hero's most noble trait, but just what it says: a flaw.
Heroes to Aristotle (this is from Part XII where he discusses the
essential characteristics of a tragic plot) are not perfect men who
suffer as a result of their perfection, but middle-of-the-road folks
(with good and bad qualities) who suffer because of a frailty.

I would argue that Mr. Weiss may have some merit in believing that lust
served as Romeo and Juliet's tragic flaw -- and Aristotle wouldn't
disagree.

Todd M Lidh
UNC-Chapel Hill

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Holland <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:10:13 GMT
Subject: 9.0753  Re: Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0753  Re: Adult Spin-offs; Lust in Rom.

Paul S. Rhodes writes about whether or not lust is an 'Aristotelian
Tragic Flaw'. Can I just remind him that, of course, Aristotle never
says anything whatsoever about a tragic flaw? 'Hamartia', the Greek word
which, many centuries later, people started to understand as meaning
'tragic flaw', means an error caused by ignorance. It cannot mean a
character-defect. Oedipus' hamartia is because he doesn't know the
blood-relationship he has to the woman he is sleeping with and to the
man he killed at the crossroads.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 10:50:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Romeo and Juliet

The recent posts of Marilyn Bonomi and Paul Rhodes suggest that *Romeo
and Juliet* might be a play worth discussing on this list. Frank Kermode
once observed that it is a big mistake to think of *RJ* as "a simple
play,* and I think he's right. Three observations:

1.      *RJ* may not be an Aristotelian tragedy, and, hence, Romeo and Juliet
may not really have tragic flaws. Shakespeare may have been working from
a native tradition, the Mystery plays, in which characters struggle with
the fact that they live in a fallen, imperfect world in which outside
influences can be decisive.  This seems to make sense in that the
feuding parents and the bad example they set for their children can be
seen as the "cause" of the tragedy. Parents and society are to blame in
this play, not the kids.  Trying to find "flaws" within Romeo and Juliet
may be a case of blaming the victims, though this is not to say that
they are without flaws, just that these flaws are not the main point.
The parallel case is, interestingly, *Hamlet,* whose title character has
been accused of all kinds of 'tragic" flaws. The alternate approach is
to see Denmark as an unweeded garden"-that's the problem, not Hamlet!

2. As Denis de Rougemont reminds us, romantic love always contains an
element of lust/longing, and the question to be asked is, What is the
object of that longing? It may be that the hidden object of such longing
is death itself, as de Rougemont argues.  In *RJ* obstacles to love are
thrust on the lovers, and obstacles increase longing and, so the
argument goes, increase the desire for the ultimate obstacle, death. If
so, again, the lovers are not to balme: they want union, but their union
is frustrated by elements of society. In *TN,* obstacles to love are
self imposed (e.g., Orsino), and so psycho-pathology ("madness"), is an
issue, but not so in *RJ.*

3. "Blaming the victims" is the response of many parents who object to
*RJ* being taught in high school. Parents often want to see the play as
"fatally flawed" because "it glorifies suicide," and such parents often
believe that everything would have been OK if Romeo and Juliet had just
obeyed their parents. Of course, we can see why parents might want to
believe that, since the play makes us uncomfortable by stressing that
romantic love is possible between two people who in many ways are still
children. Also, and more to the point, the play suggests that parents
can be responsible for their children's suicide, something that most
parents do not want to admit. Most disturbing of all, the play *may*
suggest that romantic love can be so strong between such young people
that any attempt to thwart it will lead to even more trouble- a point of
view wholly at odds with our present culture in which teenagers are told
to defer gratification for years and years while their hormones rage
unabated.  Parents want to believe that their children can and should do
that. Shakespeare suggests (based on personal experience?) that they
cannot.

Some random thoughts of an idle brain,

--Ed Taft

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Kendall <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Aug 1998 13:25:57 -0600
Subject:        R & J

Larry Weiss writes:

"While it is a perversion of the play to portray R & J as perpetually
concupiscent, that may be a better reading than showing them as mooning
over each other because of their need for companionship."

Do you really mean to equate spiritual love with a need for
companionship?  In my view they are at opposite ends of the spectrum
that passes through Lust and Romance. R & J's overarching need is to
complete each other, a form of love so spiritually charged that it would
invite interference from benighted minds even in a world where their
families were not at war.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.