The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1171 Tuesday, 22 May 2001
Date: Friday, 18 May 2001 17:51:01 +0100
Subject: 12.1159 Re: Seminars
Comment: RE: SHK 12.1159 Re: Seminars
I'm perfectly aware of the 'authorities' that Sean Lawrence has been
gracious enough to list for me.
I'm not sure I understand his definition of 'business' as irreducibly
capitalist, nor am I particularly persuaded by the positions of all of
the continental philosophers that he trails.
No doubt he will find my casting some doubt on his 'authorities' as an
added insult. But let me ask him to consider this: Girard's position
is that there are certain rituals that come into play in order to
obviate the possibility of violence. If we translate that into the
present debate, then I take that to mean that the protocols of academic
debate are really what stand between us and undifferentiated violence.
Of course, we need constantly to re-examine those protocols...which is
why I question Lawrence's deployment of the term 'ethics' in this
context and its usefulness. I would even go o far as to ask some
questions about the issue of 'civilized' used as an epithet to describe
a particular debate, particularly bearing in mind Walter Benjamin's
observation that there is no document in civilization that is not also
at the same time a document in barbarism. I am quite willing to accept
that much of Levinas is dedicated to trying to get round that, and
(which is one of the reasons why Derrida is interested in him) to get
beyond the concept of difference.
The cocktail of 'vague socialism' (Lawrence's term) and nationalism will
have a much greater resonance on this side of the Atlantic than it does
on the other. As he describes it, it's a good recipe for colonialism as
I read it. I'm also a little disappointed that with all his immersion
in continental philosophy he seems reluctant to distinguish fascism (in
its classical definition rather than as a vague bourgeois term of abuse)
from middle-class guilt, from sentimentality, from socialism, or from
But, nevertheless, I am schooled...I now have 'ethics' to keep me right.
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