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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Bloom on Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1536  Wednesday, 30 July 2003

[1]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 13:28:06 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[2]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 07:32:27 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 08:47:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[4]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 15:39:43 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[5]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 12:42:28 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 13:28:06 +0100
Subject: 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Dear All

The previous exchanges on this thread put me in mind (while they remain
civil) of the conversation between the atavistic priest and communist
ex-mayor in Graham Greene's rewriting of Don Quixote - while the
discussion often deteriorates into the reassertion of received belief,
the wine is nevertheless drunk and the cheese eaten and the sun does its
business of setting.

Though I am of course with the Quixotes of this world, the conversation
in between siestas can be pleasant and is surely only made possible by
the decorous 'humanistic' impulse of the participants.

All the best,
Marcus
(Bristol UK)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 07:32:27 -0500
Subject: 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

>In fact my purpose is to find out which theories Shakespeare gave
>credence too. What I theorise is not the point here, though obviously
>this continued discussion proves that it is. Paradox?!

Two books that will help you resolve that seeming paradox are:
APPROPRIATING SHAKESPEARE, by the laudable Brian Vickers (of this list)
and FASHONABLE NONSENSE, by Alan Sokal.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 08:47:23 -0500
Subject: 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Edmund Taft writes,

>Yes, and Hugh is being rather kind here.  In fact, Tillyard basically
>ripped off Lovejoy while giving him minimal credit. Then Tillyard
>oversimplified and distorted Lovejoy for clearly ideological purposes.

I'm not sure exactly what Ed means here. If Tillyard so radically
changed Lovejoy then he could hardly have ripped him off. I'm not saying
EMWT didn't do it, but I'm not quite clear on what it was he did.

and then later

>To use
>Sutton's rule would mean that future generations would have to interpret
>Updike and Pyncheon by using the likes of  Billy Graham and Norman
>Vincent Peale as exemplars of "the commonplaces of the age."

While I wouldn't say that I held the latter two in high esteem as major
thinkers of the 20th Century, there is no doubt that (a) they represent
most clearly very important aspects of recent American culture, and (b)
had immense influence on it, probably more than any other thinkers.
Granted, their influence was primarily in politics rather than
literature, but I would say that they had great  importance to Updike
and Pyncheon as representatives of what they were writing against.

I would say that no future scholar of 20th Century American literature
could possibly write worthwhile interpretations without a profound
knowledge of the work of those two men no matter what he thought of
them. (We Americans don't really need to because our atmosphere is so
suffused with their thought. Alas.)

Cheers,
the other bloom
(who, by any other name, would smell just the same.)

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 15:39:43 -0400
Subject: 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

I'd like to join William Sutton's thanks to all who have continued the
discussion of theory, historicism, and presentism and to add a few more
comments, without being able to reply to all the relevant remarks. I
agree up to a point with Sean Lawrence's borrowing from Levinas that
holds that communication with the Other is a kind of ethical imperative
and that dialogue with the past is a version of this. But, if I
understand the issue, I'm putting a bit different spin on "dialogue"
than he is. Our dialogue with the past always involves a kind of
translation or paraphrase of its idioms into our own. But our own mental
frameworks are not closed systems; they can accommodate, up to a point,
contradiction, challenges to assumptions, alterity generally. Such
encounters, and such required changes to our own received ideas, indeed
constitute the principal value of such dialogues with the past.

I had a work experience which perhaps helps explain the general
skepticism that I think is warranted, however, in evaluating how
successful contemporary critics can be in conceptualizing the alterity
of the past. I spent a year early in my career working up the sections
on "! and 2 Henry IV" and "Timon of Athens" for a then-to-now critical
anthology of Shakespeare's works (Gale Publishers "Shakespearean
Criticism," v. 1). This amounted to about a year's worth of reading
others' literary criticism 40 hours a week. This work convinced me of
the overwhelming force on our interpretations of the past of what I
later termed critical and aesthetic paradigms; critics see in
Shakespeare what their social environments teach them to see. As I
became a teacher, I realized how the material work of holding forth
singular interpretations to students and writing them up for publication
induces the very opposite perception. It seems we are grasping a truth
singularly and independently, but this is almost never the case in my
experience. The occupational disease of academia is almost necessarily
the kind of interpretive hubris we in fact see everywhere at work. And I
don't exempt myself from this malady.

In short, we are always dialoguing with the past, but in doing so we
never leave the present for an instant.

Best,
Hugh Grady

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jul 2003 12:42:28 -0700
Subject: 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1532 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Martin Steward responds to Bruce Young's quotation of C. S. Lewis:

>What Lewis is lamenting is precisely the Enlightenment project that
>thinkers such as Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and the like were
>trying to overturn, and it is these thinkers who provide the
>philosophical bedrock for later deconstruction.
>
>It cannot be emphasized
>enough that neither phenomenology nor deconstruction have anything to
>do with "scepticism", which is entirely subjective. We should rather be
>thinking about how these methodologies follow on from a radical critique
>of subject/object binarism or dualism.

I disagree.  Cavell's skepticism often seems to complicate his own
subject position, sometimes in ways that make his works rather difficult
to read (I believe that it's in _Must We Mean_ that he writes a large
section in dialogue, rendering it difficult for people like me to quote
any ideas as his own).  Montaigne's skepticism seems to be primarily a
skepticism regarding his own powers and leads (logically, IMHO) to
fideism.  For that matter, in the opening pages of _Otherwise than
Being_, Levin

>This is how we get to the
>(Althusserian?) point recognised by Hugh Grady, writing on Greenblatt:
>"In short", as he observes, there can be "no historicism without a
>latent presentism". Greenblatt would be the first to agree.

Not really.  The fascination with our position in social history, as
opposed to the existential historicity of inner-time consciousness,
seems to derive from anthropology, not phenomenology or many other sorts
of philosophy.

Cheers,
Sean.

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