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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Oxymora
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0836  Tuesday, 18 April 2000.

[1]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 2000 11:20:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0821 Re: Oxymora

[2]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 2000 23:17:15 +0000
        Subj:   Oxymora

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 2000 11:46:42 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0821 Re: Oxymora

[4]     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 2000 23:24:11 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0821 Re: Oxymora



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 2000 11:20:33 -0500
Subject: 11.0821 Re: Oxymora
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0821 Re: Oxymora

>Since Fortinbras' father
>has been killed in (fair) fight in the course of a war, there is nothing
>to +revenge+.  Political or military retaliation or response is another
>matter.
>
>Robin Hamilton

For what it's worth, the obscure relevance of revenge to death in battle
is a conspicuous and problematic element in The Spanish Tragedy.  Within
the frame of the play, Bel-imperia appears to invent the fight between
Andrea and Balthazar and his soldiers (which is repeatedly and variously
described) as unfair and calling for revenge in her extremely complex
speech in 1.4 (60-68), where the act of casting the death as
revenge-worthy enables her to manage her own transition from isolated
and abandoned mourner to surviving erotic agent.

Of course, the supernatural Frame, where the plan of Revenge is
authorized by Proserpina, may be said to do the necessary work, but
those on the human stage besides Bel-imperia mostly do not recognize the
case as such.

The structural parallel with Gertrude's o'er-hasty reinvestment is
interesting too, but my point regarding a sense of Fortinbras's revenge
in Hamlet is that it may need in part to be seen as a function of
positionality as much as general principles as to what "counts" as
necessitating and authorizing revenge. Given the larger debates about
whether such authorization exists at all ("vindicta mihi" etc.), and the
confusing significance of where it seems to come from (purgating ghosts,
the cellarage, Hades, etc.), a sense of active obscurity about why
Fortinbras might think himself a revenger seems to fit right in.

Frank Whigham

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 2000 23:17:15 +0000
Subject:        Oxymora

First, I want to thank Sean Lawrence for taking the time and the effort
to respond critically (in the scholarly sense of the word) to my theory
of 4.4.  He intuits correctly that there is a journal article in the
works, and he may also be right that it needs to go back to the drawing
board.  Re: Doug Chapman-Sean, I under-stand your feeling that the
profession is being picked on-it is!  But I don't think that was Doug's
intention in his first post. I think he was indicating that many of us
do not live up to the ideals of our profession. He is right! (Sorry,
Mike Jensen-for whom I have great respect-but we just differ on this
one.)

Robin Hamilton suggests that Fortinbras could not, by definition, be
seeking revenge. Ah, Robin, that would be so if revenge were a logical
emotion. But it's not!  Now, really, do you actually maintain that if a
father is killed in a fight (maybe fair, maybe not!), the son would be
incapable of feeling the need to revenge his father's death?  Really?

Judith Craig is bothered by the fact that Fortinbras seems one
dimensional.  Yes, but we only hear about him via report until he
actually appears on the scene.  He seems one-dimensional, just as Hamlet
seems mad. (Another parallel!)  But there is that within which passeth
show!

I end by noting that when Fortinbras actually appears, he shows honor,
empathy, insight, and political acumen in a few short lines.  Why, it's
almost like Hamlet is speaking! And each man, in the end, seems to know
each other better than seems possible from the bare facts of the
situation.  Finally, we all know that Fortinbras means "strong in arms."
But his name also echoes Fortunate, and, for the purposes of my
argument, Fortune.  And fortune, of course, can be equated with
Providence.

I thank you all for your comments/suggestions. I will mull them over
carefully. And, Sean, thanks most of all for your responses.  As my son
would say, "You're one smart dude!"

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 2000 11:46:42 -0700
Subject: 11.0821 Re: Oxymora
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0821 Re: Oxymora

Clifford Stetner asks:

> But at times, Derrida seems to imply (though never demonstrate), that
> this is the consequence of living in a particular historical moment,
> while elsewhere, it seems to be a reflection of "differance" inherent in
> all logocentric uses of language.  Don't these views contradict each
> other?

Derrida isn't really my area of study, but I would like to make a
suggestion:  A generalizing writing might be fundamental, but its
inflection might nevertheless be imbedded in historical formations.
Logocentrism, and its attempt to make the written word subservient to
the spoken, has a central place in the history of the west, but
differance itself would be important even outside the west, and even in
cultures that do not have a written language.

There is therefore room both for an historicizing move, and also for a
return to the roots of language and being.

Cheers,
Se

 

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