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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: February ::
A Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0127  Friday, 9 February 2007

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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 	Date: 	Thursday, 08 Feb 2007 13:31:02 -0500
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0114 A Question

[2] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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 	Date: 	Thursday, 08 Feb 2007 21:22:56 +0000
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0103 & 18.0114 A Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Thursday, 08 Feb 2007 13:31:02 -0500
Subject: 18.0114 A Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0114 A Question


>In the midst of his latest post, John Drakakis mentions "the
>sophisticated transformations of late capitalism."  Ever since
>encountering the phrase in Frederic Jameson's work, I've
>wondered about it.  How, at this (or that) point in time, can
>one know that we're in the phase of "late capitalism."  Might
>we not be in the middle?  It struck me then, as it still does, as
>a kind of nostalgia for a time that has not yet come, when
>capitalism has vanished (or itself been transformed) from the
>workings of the world.

I am trying to wrap my mind around the concept of "nostalgia for a time 
that has not come"; I suppose it is something akin to imagination.

I would assume that someone referring to "late capitalism" means "recent" 
or "modern" capitalism, not capitalism on its last legs and gasping for 
breath.  The latter doesn't come close to describing the vital economic 
system in place throughout the world, which shows every sign of vibrant 
good health:  Witness the renaissance in China since the supposedly 
Marxist state embraced a vigorously capitalist model.

Capitalism, like any system that does not carry the seeds of its own 
destruction, adjusts to changes in technology, culture, political 
attitudes, etc., so that while twenty-first century capitalism is 
recognizably the same system as nineteenth century capitalism, there are 
variations that entitle us to refer to it as "late" capitalism.  The 
socialist states are also showing signs of adjusting; they are becoming 
capitalist.  The Soviet Union did not adjust quickly enough.  I predict 
that post-Castro Cuba will quickly accommodate itself to reality; if it 
doesn't its future is bleak indeed.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Thursday, 08 Feb 2007 21:22:56 +0000
Subject: 18.0103 & 18.0114 A Question
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0103 & 18.0114 A Question

John Drakakis writes:

  >I am very sorry that Joseph Egert thought that I was attacking him,
  >and from the barricades no less!

Could it be that our Master of Analysis John Drakakis did not recognize 
the jesting tone in which my remarks were couched? Has his long engagement 
with Theory rendered him humorless as well as unresponsive? Let not your 
roar be muffled, John. We've come to expect the passionate full-throated 
polemicist from postings past, and nothing less will suffice.

JD goes on:

  >The trouble with
  >all of these labels is that they get in the way of serious enquiry.

But John, was it not you who labeled this humble correspondent 
"reactionary", not progressive? We have yet to hear how you, John 
Drakakis, distinguish the two (presently).

JD again:

  >I'm afraid that to define what 'modernity', 'Enlightenment' and
  >'Renaissance' are would try the patience of us all,...

Once more, we have yet to hear how JD categorically defines the 
"Enlightenment" in relation to its neighbors in time. Please try, John. 
Maybe it's time to pin down some of those floating signifiers, before 
instructive communication becomes impossible. Thank you, in any case, for 
the references.

JD continues on the "self-critical tradition" within Marxism:

  >Simply to assume that this will lead inevitably to a
  >slippery relativism is to forsake the rigour of intellectual enquiry
  >for fashion.

I believe that a radical presentism, that sweeps all before it, will 
inexorably lead to the relativist nihilism that John says he wishes to 
avoid. JD has yet to tell us how he agrees or disagrees with Wright's, "it 
should come as a relief not to aim at an impossible objectivity." Or this, 
from our distinguished List jester: abandoning the quest for permanent 
historical truth "constituted the great American contribution to 
philosophy..." No need for despair here?

Let us rather listen to Larry Weiss in his illuminating analogy of legal 
praxis:

  >must [we] throw up our
  >hands and concede that the past is unknowable in a Heisenbergian
  >way?  I submit not....  We might not be able to achieve a perfect
  >understanding of the events, but that doesn't mean it is useless to
  >try.

Hear! Hear! OTHELLO, of course, explores these issues of knowledge and 
judgment with their attendant frailties in remarkable depth. I'd go 
further and argue that Weiss' program should remain, above all, the 
central task of scholarship.  One nit to pick, however. When I insist, 
Brother Weiss, that History Itself is a Fact, I'm arguing it is completely 
and concretely True, and not merely an ideal Platonic abstraction. Larry 
Weiss' language seems to confuse the interpretations or translations (what 
"men may construe[] after their fashion") with the Real Facts or True 
Texts ("the things themselves").

Presentism's distinguished founder has now weighed in, quoting from Marcus 
Aurelius:

"Facts stand wholly outside our gates; they are what they are, and no 
more; they know nothing about themselves, and they pass no judgment upon 
themselves. What is, then, that pronounces the judgment? Our own guide and 
ruler, Reason."

Many thanks to Terence Hawkes for making my case. I could not have said it 
any better. The Facts and Texts speak perfectly for themselves, only we 
hear them imperfectly in translation. My position approaches that of 
Levinas, as refracted through Sean Lawrence: that the Other exists prior 
to the self and that the past exists absolutely whether we experience and 
recreate it or not. I cannot accept, however, that "[t]o integrate the 
past into our categories kills it" and that "[i]t ceases to be Other." 
Instead, our translations, valuations, and re-presentations, while 
necessarily incomplete and distorted, nonetheless in their real impact and 
influence become part of the evolving Other itself.  Without in any way 
sacrificing agency, this dynamic evolving unity goes even beyond what JD 
calls the "dialogue" gap. It is the Other re-fashioning itself.

Regards from the living past,
Joe Egert

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