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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: June ::
The Big Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0555  Monday, 12 June 2006

[1] 	From: 	Frank Whigham <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 09:42:39 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question

[2] 	From: 	Conrad Geller <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 10:52:01 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question

[3] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 08 Jun 2006 16:27:41 +0000
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Frank Whigham <
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Date: 		Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 09:42:39 -0500
Subject: 17.0548 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question

 >We have been through many of these before (as, for example, if A
 >spits on B and calls him nasty names, is B therefore justified in
 >trying to have A judicially murdered?). As long as we make clear to
 >ourselves individually and collectively what our moral context is,
 >we can argue about it quite happily. What screws it up is usually
 >confusing a conflict of moral contexts for a conflict of judgments
 >within a given context.
 >
 >In the example cited, within my moral context, no amount of
 >spitting and name-calling justifies murder, but others have
 >different contexts and thus disagree.

Since this example alludes to me, it might be worthwhile to say, given 
the current subject of argument, that I think it's a moralist (perhaps 
moralistic) reaction to read MV as asking us to decide whether the 
spitting "justifies" the murder. When he mentions this example Don 
always seems (happy) to think that I think it does. What at least a 
partly non-moralist reading of the play (mine) does is to say that a 
culture that habitually and comfortably uses and spits on its favorite 
minorities will get murdered for it now and then. A lifetime of spit 
(seldom a trivial fluid when it lands on someone else) makes for 
passion. (So where does the lifetime of spit *come* from, I would ask.) 
To say, "Good heavens! Spitting doesn't justify murder" seems to me to 
constitute incuriosity about where hate-based murder comes from, in 
favor of saying it's bad. That's probably true, but I don't find it very 
interesting, probably just as Don doesn't find it very satisfying not to 
vote on it.

He and I both would probably say, as a way of framing the core of what 
we're interested in, "The question is . . . ." This is a way of saying 
what we think our interpretive responsibility (or the text) demands. Don 
seems to me to want to decide (or feels compelled or asked to decide) 
what's right -- indeed, who's right. I want to try (feel summoned to 
try) to understand where hatreds come from, how they work, what their 
payoffs are. These are different enterprises, standing in different 
places, and likely to talk past one another. Each might be described as 
a moral activity. Also otherwise.

~Frank Whigham

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Conrad Geller <
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Date: 		Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 10:52:01 -0400
Subject: 17.0548 The Big Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question

I have always seen readers, and by extension critics, as belonging to 
two widely different species: those who love literature, stories, poems, 
as the objects of enjoyment they are, and those for whom a story or play 
is a way of learning history, or discovering biography, or thinking 
about the nature of God and man. Alas, it's hard for one of the former 
to make a living in academia.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Thursday, 08 Jun 2006 16:27:41 +0000
Subject: 17.0548 The Big Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0548 The Big Question

Don Bloom explains:

 >within my moral context, no amount of spitting
 >and name-calling justifies murder, but others have different
 >contexts and thus disagree.

Leaving aside for the moment the semantic obfuscation of the phrase 
"judicial murder", who on this List has justified murder in this 
instance? Just another straw man for Bloom to burn?

Cheers,
Joe Egert

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