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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: December ::
Presentism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0841  Sunday, 16 December 2007

[1] 	From:	R. A. Cantrell <
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	Date:	Thursday, 13 Dec 2007 18:39:55 -0600
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

[2] 	From:	John Drakakis <
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	Date:	Friday, 14 Dec 2007 09:49:30 -0000
	Subj:	RE: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

[3] 	From:	Alan Horn <
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	Date:	Friday, 14 Dec 2007 05:02:18 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

[4] 	From:	Terence Hawkes <
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	Date:	Friday, 14 Dec 2007 10:25:19 -0000
	Subj:	Presentism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:		Thursday, 13 Dec 2007 18:39:55 -0600
Subject: 18.0834 Presentism
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

 >The discussion has become absurd. --

No, the discussion has not become absurd; it has been absurd from the 
beginning. Which is my point. Montaigne is useful, but he is not so 
useful as Popkin, followed by Sextus. Avoid Hume altogether unless you 
are very young and intend to utterly waste your life.

You might also begin in Hegel, pass through Dilthey, and end in the 
sewage of Heideger, but you still will not know how many children had 
Lady Macbeth, ever.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		John Drakakis <
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Date:		Friday, 14 Dec 2007 09:49:30 -0000
Subject: 18.0834 Presentism
Comment:	RE: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

I think Joe,

And with Hugh Grady's strictures in mind, you might like to have a read 
of the section on 'Repetition' in Gilles Deleuze's book 'Difference and 
Repetition'. I think that when you do, you will see that the 
relationship between past and present isn't quite as straightforward as 
you seem to think. Add to that Bill Godshalk's suggestion that Montaigne 
should figure on the reading list too, and we are back in business again.

On the matter of Terence Hawkes alleged 'scepticism', it seems pretty 
healthy to me, and it is one of the most persuasive ways of moving the 
debate about Shakespeare onwards while at the same time not forgetting 
the self-consciously mediating role of scholars and critics (and editors 
too, Joe!.) Denying the absolute objectivity of 'truth' does not lead us 
into R.A. Cantrell's very odd kind of intellectual paralysis (the 
characteristic response of a politically reactionary stance, if ever I 
saw one). It should lead us to ask questions about the politics of 
'literature' (I use the scare quotes because the epithet 'literary' is a 
fabrication when applied to Shakespeare's plays) and all that that 
implies. Let me emphasise for what I hope will be the last time, that 
the study of 'presentist' Shakespeare does NOT mean an abandonment of 
the past: it does mean - and here Deleuze is very helpful- that we have 
to think seriously about how the past is constructed as a series of 
'presents'... And that's just the beginning. Historians, particularly 
continental European historians, have been aware of this for some time, 
and it is about time that those working within the discipline of English 
Studies took it a little more seriously than they do.

I'll step down off my soapbox now.

A merry festive season to all,
John Drakakis

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Alan Horn <
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Date:		Friday, 14 Dec 2007 05:02:18 -0500
Subject: 18.0834 Presentism
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0834 Presentism

Hugh Grady writes of R. A. Cantrell's previous post:

 >"[A]ll of this is contentless blustering that does nothing toward
 >advancing the discussion beyond whatever relief the writer gets from
 >blowing off the hot air."

This is unfair. The remarks cited, though provocatively phrased, 
certainly do aim to "advance the discussion"-unlike Hugh Grady's, which 
are merely dismissive.

He adds: "And might I suggest that one paragraph on epistemology is not 
likely to be very illuminating in the first place?"

R. A. Cantrell's point, as I took it, was not to take issue with a 
particular formulation but to question the insertion of epistemology, by 
Hugh Grady and others, into discussion of a program for practical 
scholarship. The suggestion is that the purpose of doing so can only be 
obscurantist.

As I understand it, R. A. Cantrell was trying to reinforce a point made 
recently by others and back in June by me in a late contribution to the 
Roundtable, which Hugh Grady did not bother to reply to either:

"No doubt [no 'construction of the past'] will ever be definitive, and 
it is helpful to keep this warning in mind. But just because such 
understanding is never absolute-just because [as Hugh Grady had put it] 
it 'never completely succeed[s]'-does not mean it is not useful 
nevertheless."

Alan Horn

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Terence Hawkes <
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Date:		Friday, 14 Dec 2007 10:25:19 -0000
Subject:	Presentism

Even Joe Egert must finally be aware that his claim to seek 'the truth, 
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, despite our limitations' is 
wholly absurd. I repeat: our 'limitations' are exactly those which 
deprive us of the truth. His hastily amended version, 'venturing to 
learn what is plausible and increasingly probable in our 
representations', crudely gives the game away. To replace 'truth' with 
whatever 'is plausible' or 'increasingly probable' is a shattering 
admission, and places him in Presentism's capable hands.

T. Hawkes

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