The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0790 Thursday, 13 April 2000.
Date: Wednesday, 12 Apr 2000 23:46:37 -0400
Subject: 11.0734 Re: Some Thoughts
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0734 Re: Some Thoughts
Norman Myers offers:
<snip> the first step toward knowledge is to show ignorance, I'll
>show mine <snip>
>I suspect that by "presuppositions" Gomes implies more than just a
>knowledge of the signs of language on the page. I suspect he means
>something like what we theatre folks call "concept."
Why this isn't ignorant at all. I suspect you're right. But I also
suspect that he has made an implication that he would not be able to
defend, which is that it is in any way possible to approach any text
completely devoid of presuppositions about "concept." My example of
linguistic signs was what we thinking folks call a reductio ad
absurdum. That is, if the smallest units of meaning depend on a web of
presuppositions so complex, we can barely begin to unravel it, how much
more so do large scale "concepts." The fact that we make the
presuppositions of shared language unconsciously and automatically
should alert us to the possibility of larger structures of such
unconscious acts of interpretation on which any meaning or understanding
may inescapably depend.
Example (one of
>countless): John Barton/Peter Hall/Royal Shakespeare late 60s
>production of "The Wars of the Roses." The whole "concept," (influenced
>like so much in those days by Kott's "Shakespeare our Contemporary") is
>predicated on the "presupposition" that Shakespeare intended the Henry
>VI plays as a "trilogy" which would culminate in "Richard III."
And my response was meant to imply that the only alternative is to
replace this set of presups with some other set.
<snip>This leaves no room for even
>considering the possibility that the Henry VI plays were never intended
>as a trilogy and that the second and third parts may have been conceived
>only in response to the popular success of the first.
<snip>Critical explication and theatrical production alike are
>reductive acts which, of necessity, serve to close off other possible
>avenues of exploration or to preclude any consideration of alternative
Here is where I intended to differ. That it is "of necessity" is the
type of presupposition that we thinking people object to. What you are
doing here, in fact, might be construed as a form of literary
explication that does not close off other possible avenues of
exploration, except for this "ultimate" part, when you close of the
possibility of any real exploration at all.
It is the doctrinal critic, not the supposedly "aesthetic:" the
feminist, for instance, who says openly, I'm only showing you a feminist
side of this text, who refuses to close down other avenues. Here is
where, I think, you can not easily substitute Shakespeare for
Scripture. I have yet to read a feminist explication of Scripture (as
literature perhaps, but not as scripture).