2003

Re: Deconstruction

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1483  Tuesday, 22 July 2003

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 17:25:28 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 23:15:45 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 17:25:28 -0600
Subject: 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction

The recent "Deconstruction" posts (assuming this thread is allowed a
little more life) have talked about language and Shakespeare's plays
(made up, partly but not wholly?, of language) and how language in
general and the plays in particular work.  Shakespeare's phrase "a
mirror held up to nature" has been invoked and interrogated.

Here's my contribution on more or less the same theme.

Somewhere Heidegger calls language the "house of being"; he probably
means by this something similar to what he means when he says language
opens a space in which Being reveals itself or comes into the light.

According to Levinas, language necessarily involves the other (i.e., the
other person).  Language, whatever else it does, is offered to another.
This is true even granting that language might serve in some sense as a
"mirror held up to nature." Though language refers to ("thematizes")
"the world" and the various things and activities that make up a world
(read "nature"), and though it uses or depends on or even seems to
consist of a system of signs (one way of describing the "mirror"),
language is most fundamentally conversation, an offering and receiving
involving oneself and others.  If it were not this, not only would
"signs" not "mean" anything, it would be hard to imagine what we would
mean by the word "signs."  (In other words, it would be hard to make a
sensible account of language as consisting of a set of entities --
"signs"--relating to and interacting with each other in an impersonal
void.)

(By the way, I think all of this works for Shakespeare's plays too.)

Levinas calls the offering to another in conversation "saying"; the
content of language that can be reduced to concepts is "the said."  Even
in the simplest language "saying" produces an element of ambiguity: "In
the play activating the cultural keyboard of language [so that the
conceptual content does in some measure depend on the culturally
inflected system of signs constituting a particular language], sincerity
or witness [other ways of saying "saying"] signifies by the very
ambiguity of every said, where, in the midst of the information
communicated to another there signifies also the sign that is given to
him of this giving of signs" (_Otherwise Than Being_ 152).  For example,
in this very message (the one I have concocted and you are reading), I
am saying both "This is how language works" and "I am saying this to
you--I am offering this as an appeal for your consideration and
understanding."

Language (as well as playmaking and playwatching) is an activity taking
place in the very world it refers to, so it can hardly be separate from
the world (it is as if the mirror were part of the very nature it is
reflecting; Shakespeare has another phrase for this phenomenon: "the art
itself is nature").  And perhaps any particular use of language obscures
some things and illuminates others--so it is not only a mirror actively
involved in the world it reflects but a mirror that selectively focuses,
expands, contracts, illuminates, and obscures.  In fact, rather than
directly showing us the world, it seems that language mainly reminds us
of and interprets things (and experiences, relationships, etc.) in the
world, while also taking place in the world.

Though there are problems with overly simple accounts suggesting that
words refer transparently to things, yet it seems to me nonsensical to
say there is no "world" or "reality" that language refers to or attempts
to illuminate.  It also seems obvious to me that, though language
affects our understanding and even experience of virtually everything,
there is much that we experience that language fails to convey --and we
sense, sometimes painfully, the vastness of these failures.  One
nineteenth-century writer, feeling keenly the discrepancy between what
he had experienced and even understood, on the one hand, and his ability
to convey it through language, on the other, said: "Oh Lord, deliver us
in due time from the little, narrow prison, almost as it were total
darkness of paper, pen, and ink; and a crooked, broken, scattered, and
imperfect language" (Joseph Smith, _History of the Church_ 1:299).

Shakespeare seems to have thought a lot about language (and about
plays), and from the evidence I'd say he knew they could be looked at
from various angles and with various attitudes.  Two quite different
attitudes, for instance, are suggested by "Words, words, words," on the
one hand, and "Love and tongue-tied simplicity in least speak most, to
my capacity," on the other.  What I have been trying to say about the
limitations and uses of language and language's involvement in the very
world it tries to interpret is maybe anticipated by the statue at the
end of _The Winter's Tale_: this work of (supposed) art that turns out
to be an active participant in nature, and not only that, but a dynamic
personal agent who responds and provokes response, who offers and
receives.  Could this scene be (in part) an image of what a play does?

Bruce Young

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 23:15:45 -0700
Subject: 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1473 Re: Deconstruction

Clifford Stetner writes,

My problem with Derrida's position against Husserl is that it seems to
limit phenomenology to the individual consciousness. This creates a
false dichotomy of terms that excludes any aspect of "collective
experience."

I should think that this is not only Derrida's reading of Husserl. As
you've described it, it seems influenced by Sartre and Heidegger, both
of whom thought that "collective experience" was an evasion of the
historicity of Dasein, or the authenticity of the cogito. Heidegger
would probably call it the "everyday" or something like that, while
Sartre would think of references to collective consciousness as bad
faith, I should think.

The movement beyond the solipsism of phenomenology (or at least, of a
certain reading of early phenomenology) isn't, I think, towards
collectivity, but towards responsibility, recognition of the Other. Your
description of the audiences of Greek tragedy and football matches
strikes me as rather frightening:

The audiences of Greek tragedy, I read somewhere, fell to weeping and
wailing spontaneously and simultaneously, and we have all witnessed
people, whether in a riot or a football game, being "caught up in the
excitement of the moment."

Like the rebels in Sir Thomas More attacking foreigners, I suppose.

Yours, trying to keep his head,
Sean.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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Re: Request for Opinions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1482  Tuesday, 22 July 2003

[1]     From:   Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:58:25 +0000
        Subj:   A little duel box

[2]     From:   Phyllis Gorfain <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:37:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions

[3]     From:   Virginia Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:47:09 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:58:25 +0000
Subject:        A little duel box

R A Cantrell (14.1472) says,

>[...]The atmosphere at the Globe is one of rapt attention. The
>audience, in the main, already knows the play, and in large part are students
>of the play, hanging on every word. The audience is making interpretive
>judgments. The naivete of a group of people coming together to
>be entertained by a largely novel experience is one thing the new
>Globe cannot reproduce (should that be desired.)[...]

Were such things here, as we do speak about? He must have drunken on the
insane beer they sell in the Globe that takes the wallet prisoner.

A substantial number of those attending the Globe often know little
about the play they are watching, care even less, and spend their time
ticking one more box on their tourist itinerary sheet while blocking the
view of others with their enormous backpacks. Nothing wrong with that.
Doubtless some pursue Shakespeare's brand of drama as a consequence of
their visit. But it rather gives the lie to the claim that the Globe
does not provide for group of folk having a largely novel (perhaps one
should say theatrical) experience.

A visit among and a talk with those who choose to plug in their Walkman
and hide it under their sweater hood in the hope that teacher will not
spot them but then give the game away by setting about playing football
with empty drink cans in the pit may correct his views. I find this
zestful audience participation far more galvanizing than the cemetery
scilens broken by the sweetie-wrapper rustling interruptions of
Shakespeare in a dimly lit auditorium.

These observations are based on the empirical evidence of attending the
place on a regular basis since it opened and also on engaging in
conversations with fellow members of the audiences; so no indignant
off-list e-mails please.

Best,
Graham Hall

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Phyllis Gorfain <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:37:52 -0400
Subject: 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions

>>...I was wondering if the people on this
>> list could give me their impressions of the general atmosphere...

In Fall 2002, I taught an Oberlin-in-London semester, and, as part of my
course, Theatre in London, my 20 students and I attended two plays at
the New Globe.  We saw Twelfth Night and The Golden Ass in Sept. and
Oct. Many of the students, however, had already stood in line for rush
seats for earlier shows and later returned on their own for repeat
visits.  Some of them saw all three shows more than once! All of them
loved the experience -- they found standing amidst a very celebratory
and "rapt" (as one write just said) audience exhilarating.

In the Fall, many of the audiences were young -- often many American
college students, usually arriving with fine preparation for the show,
and extending the actors keen attention to the language and staging as
well as responding intensely to the strong interactive playing style
prevalent at the Globe.

Most of our students preferred taking a groundling position to sitting
on the benches in the least expensive part of the gallery, with poor
sightlines around pillars, which were the best seats we could afford.
From each other, they learned, instead, to arrive an hour ahead and
stake out sites at the edge of the stage.  Afterward they exchanged
stories about catching glimpses of backstage moments or noting specific
nuances of specific acting choices by members of the repertory company,
whom they felt they knew from seeing them in more than one show.

The inventiveness of the direction of the productions, the skill of the
performers, the quality of language in the scripts, and the experience
of participating in an audience-community, in which everyone is able to
see and enjoy each other -- accounted for my students' commitment to the
theatre and its work.  They found the intellectual interpretations both
subtle and lucid, the ideas challenging and rewarding, the sense of
community inclusive and sensitive.

Phyllis Gorfain
Oberlin College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 15:47:09 EDT
Subject: 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1472 Re: Request for Opinions

I was enthralled when I first went to Bankside and saw Henry V...the
intimacy of it all.. the call to arms...the response of the French
people in the audience..it was all so alive..but as time went on....I
began to change a bit.....I have seen several productions there now and
there isn't that intimacy for me anymore..that confrontation.I think
that may be partly due to a director's approach but also to the change
of audience psyche. I have to ponder as to why that is so....maybe  we
are less innocent.... maybe realize that we are more effected by the
circumstances  depicted on the stage. Now I wonder...why ?why do we need
to experience the plays in their original venue?.. We are no longer the
same people and the plays do hold for us in OUR venues and with our
production values and approaches.

Virginia Byrne
Massachusetts  USA

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

"The Shakespeare Stealer"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1480  Monday, 21 July 2003

From:           Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 20 Jul 2003 21:52:09 -0700
Subject:        "The Shakespeare Stealer"

This is Elizabeth Kastor's review of the Washington Post's KidsClub
Summer Book Selection, a story of a 14-year old who must join
Shakespeare's company and steal "Hamlet" by copying it in cypher. The
review gives away none of the plot, and in fact devotes most of its
space explaining that Shakespeare said things like "Forsooth!" but also
contributed many everyday phrases to the language. But I do rather like
her succinct description of Hamlet: "a prince who struggled to respond
to the crimes around him."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20882-2003Jul20.html

Nancy Charlton

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Bloom on Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1481  Tuesday, 22 July 2003

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 10:29:07 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 16:37:25 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 13:15:38 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[4]     From:   Christopher Moore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 2003 11:03:04 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 10:29:07 -0500
Subject: 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Thanks for the heads up on Brantlinger. You might enjoy a kindred work,
FASHIONABLE NONSENSE, by Alan Sokal.

Professor Sokal's webpage is a great point of embarkation.

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal.html

>Rather one Harold Bloom than a thousand Derridae. No Theory has ever
>helped me understand Shakespeare. I'm currently finishing up Who Killed
>Shakespeare? by Patrick Brantlinger: subtitled What's happened to
>English since the Radical Sixties. I still have Baudrillard's cynical
>reasoning and the end of history to look forward to.
>
>Thanks for the link Al,
>William Sutton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 16:37:25 +0100
Subject: Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

"Rather one Harold Bloom than a thousand Derridae. No Theory has ever
helped me understand Shakespeare."

What, so Bloom doesn't peddle theories, then? Or even Theories?

What was that Keynesian quote, again?

I've found that a sound knowledge of English grammar - even a "love" of
it - has been helpful in my understanding of Shakespeare.

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 13:15:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

William Sutton announces that

'No Theory has ever helped me understand Shakespeare'

Come, come. The capacity for involvement in any way of life -and so
language- derives from and depends upon abstract, systematised
'theoretical' knowledge --usually maintained outside awareness-- of how
its procedures work.  If you've ever read a page of Shakespeare, or
attended any performance of any of his plays without absolute
incomprehension, then you've done so as result of a theory. To be human
is to be a theorist.

T. Hawkes

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christopher Moore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 2003 11:03:04 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1477 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Wonderful, William.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

A Call for Papers

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1479  Monday, 21 July 2003

From:           Patrick Colm Hogan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 20 Jul 2003 21:04:08 EDT
Subject:        A Call for Papers

College Literature seeks submissions for a special issue on Cognitive
Shakespeare: Criticism and Theory in the Age of Neuroscience to be guest
edited by Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit. Cognitive science has
developed with remarkable rapidity in the past decade, extending into
the analysis of the fine arts, film, and literature. In literature,
Shakespeare studies have been a particular locus of cognitive
developments. This special issue will address the current status of and
future prospects for the cognitive study of literature generally, and of
Shakespeare in particular. Submissions may consider specific plays or
poems by Shakespeare, broader themes in Shakespeare's works, or larger
theoretical issues illustrated by reference to Shakespeare's texts or
Shakespearean criticism. Submissions might take up such issues as
cognitive modeling in interpretation, emotive appraisal in characters
and audiences, creative cognition theory applied to Shakespeare, the
dramatic amygdala, Shakespeare's cognitive metaphors, perception in the
theater (or cinema), verse in working memory, the historical
particularization of narrative universals, the cognitive schemas of
Shakespearean criticism, reception aesthetics and the brain,
synthesizing neuroscience and historicism, the possibility of cognitive
psychoanalysis, or other topics.

Submit three copies and disk (preferably in Microsoft Word), along with
SASE, to College Literature, 210 E. Rosedale Ave., West Chester
University, West Chester, PA, 19383. Submission deadline is 1 March
2004.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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