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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Leo Strauss
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1156  Wednesday, 11 June 2003

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 08:12:54 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

[2]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 11:48:49 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 11:14:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

[4]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 20:23:42 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

[5]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 14:54:04 -0500
        Subj:   Leo Strauss - no Eganite, he.

[6]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 07:41:17 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 08:12:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1151 Leo Strauss
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

Haddon Judson wrote,

>I ... have come to the conclusion that more members
>try to read into and
>reinterpret Shakespeare rather than accept
>Shakespeare for Shakespeare's
>true nature.

Would you care to define Shakespeare's "true nature" for us? Enquiring
minds want to know.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson-Kranz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 11:48:49 -0400
Subject: 14.1151 Leo Strauss
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

>Below is a quote from the Saturday June 8, 2003 edition of
>the New York Times written by Jenny Strauss Clay concerning her father
>Leo Strauss. Title of article "The Real Leo Strauss"

Of course, you meant June 7... Strauss is a can of worms, and I mean
that as a complement.  His philosophy has inspired several Shakespeare
tomes very worth reading by those well-read.  I have quoted from one
here which treats WS from a political perspective, with proper caveats.
The innocent should beware that he has a cult following that reads him
mystically.  I am a member of a Strauss list of amazing intellect & am
often startled by the esoteric meanings his most intelligent & fervent
readers incantate, often convincingly- I am a mystic myself, for the
record.  Every time one gets hold of his thought the ante is upped by a
"deeper" meaning that reveals the last layer as a ploy to trap the
unworthy.  This shouldn't discourage one from imbibing- I have read all
his works with great benefit.  One does gain an insight into multiple
readings of the most subtle thought that wisps its way into the
ineffable.  But also bloody earnest.

Take for example, his famous interpretation of Maimonides. (Strauss is
very Jewish, and the most amusing arguments amongst his adherents parse
his religiosity.  Apparently, in his most personal letters to his peers,
he was an atheist, but advocated religion for the unwashed, and never
admitted his real beliefs in public- the irony is intentional: he
believed many things, but just not in God.  Of course, we don't fault
him for that! Yet, his works are best read/experienced mystically.  It
is important to think through this to understand what he means by what
he says.)  See the great & wise Egyptologist Jan Assman's treatment of
the [mythical] Sabians & Moses through Maimonides' eyes compared with
Strauss.  This touchstone gives one the vantage to survey what this is
really about, and why the recent article in the NYTimes that evoked his
daughter's response is important now more than ever.

George Steiner, reviewing "On Tyranny," a recent edition of Kojeve
[that's another story] & Strauss' personal discussion through their
letters of a Xenophon dialogue, called it one of the most important
books of our times.  It is, and cogent to Shakespeare's treatment of
history.  No one understood Power as much as Shakespeare felt it.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 11:14:10 -0500
Subject: 14.1151 Leo Strauss
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

Haddon Judson quotes Jenny Strauss Clay:

>""My father saw reading not as a passive exercise but as taking part in
>an active dialogue with the great minds of the past. One had to read
>with great care, great respect, and try, as he always said, to
>"understand the author as he understood himself." Today this task,
>admittedly difficult and demanding, is dismissed in fashionable academia
>as impossible. Rather, we are told, each reader inevitably constructs
>his own text over which the author has no control, and the writer's
>intentions are irrelevant.""

Nah, that's old stuff now. Deconstruction died when Derrida filed suit
over copy-right violations and thereby fixed forever the author's
control over his words and his reader's minds.

The question is (if you're the sort who doesn't really like to surrender
him or herself to the text), what's the wave of the future and where do
you purchase a surfboard to ride it?

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 20:23:42 +0100
Subject: 14.1151 Leo Strauss
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

"I have been observing the interaction between the members of this group
and have come to the conclusion that more members try to read into and
reinterpret Shakespeare rather than accept Shakespeare for Shakespeare's
true nature", writes Haddon Judson.

Precisely what is he talking about?

Shakespeare the playwright and pushy bourgeois property-owner who was
born in 1558 and died in 1616?

Or some ambiguous and contested (q.v. "Titus, King John and Peele"!)
kind of metonymy?

If the former: it doesn't make any odds, as I don't expect to meet
Shakespeare any time soon.

If the latter: the problem only BEGINS when we realise how difficult it
is to pin down the "true nature" of a metonymy....

cf. recent posts by hawkest

m

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jun 2003 14:54:04 -0500
Subject:        Leo Strauss - no Eganite, he.

Haddon Judson wrote,

>Below is a quote from the Saturday June 8, 2003 edition of
>the New York Times written by Jenny Strauss Clay concerning her father
>Leo Strauss. Title of article "The Real Leo Strauss"
>
>""My father saw reading not as a passive exercise but as taking part in
>an active dialogue with the great minds of the past. One had to read
>with great care, great respect, and try, as he always said, to
>"understand the author as he understood himself." Today this task,
>admittedly difficult and demanding, is dismissed in fashionable academia
>as impossible. Rather, we are told, each reader inevitably constructs
>his own text over which the author has no control, and the writer's
>intentions are irrelevant.""

N. B., Gabriel Egan.

L. Swilley

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 2003 07:41:17 -0400
Subject: Leo Strauss
Comment:        SHK 14.1151 Leo Strauss

Haddon Judson is surely right to draw our attention to Leo Strauss's
daughter's praise of her father. Its advocacy of careful reading as part
of  'an active dialogue with the great minds of the past' catches
perfectly the note of  smug self-congratulation that has lately become a
distinctive feature one kind of willful ignorance.  The same piece's
high-minded denunciation of 'fashionable academia' --a wilderness of
obscurity where '. . . each reader inevitably constructs his own text
over which the author has no control, and the writer's intentions are
irrelevant'-- isn't just crassly ill-informed. Its location in the New
York Times offers further confirmation of the extent to which the
principle that 'writers make things up' holds sway there.

T. Hawkes

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