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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: November ::
Presentism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0767  Tuesday, 13 November 2007

[1] 	From:	Jan Earl Hammerquist <
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	Date:	Friday, 9 Nov 2007 12:50:26 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism

[2] 	From:	R. A. Cantrell <
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	Date:	Friday, 9 Nov 2007 17:42:54 -0600
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism

[3] 	From:	Joseph Egert <
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	Date:	Monday, 12 Nov 2007 14:10:14 -0800 (PST)
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Jan Earl Hammerquist <
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Date:		Friday, 9 Nov 2007 12:50:26 -0500
Subject: 18.0757 Presentism
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism

Yes, I believe none of my responses were purely rhetorical, that is, 
they contained some argumentative content (as in a 'dead body of 
knowledge'), whereas the two latest anti-Presentists, though they are 
welcome to their opinions, sound as generalizing and vague as some 
politicians I know. I suppose it is easy to disregard Presentism as 
something itself lacking content, and thus to make arguments against it 
that are equally empty.

So I will attempt a concrete question, and maybe that could generate 
concrete responses: Does Presentism help us to understand Shakespeare's 
dramatic spirit, as if he is with us today, or does it obscure the 
historical specificity of an unrepeatable genius?

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:		Friday, 9 Nov 2007 17:42:54 -0600
Subject: 18.0757 Presentism
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism

 >Why it should then be likened to 'formalism' by R.A. Cantrell is also
 >puzzling, they both end in ism. that does not seem obscure to me.

As with most "isms," the conversation becomes self referential, losing 
sight of the intended object of discussion.

 >since (even if it were true) as we all know from Roland
 >Barthes a little formalism takes you away from history but a lot of it
 >brings you back to history.

I am not a part of that we. Nossir, no sale. If, for instance, one does 
not depart history on the wings of formalism, one has little need to 
return whence one has not departed.

 >Perhaps those who possess them could put their dictionaries of
 >sloganising aside, and maybe we could have an intelligent debate that
 >would actually get us somewhere.

Precisely.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Joseph Egert <
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Date:		Monday, 12 Nov 2007 14:10:14 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 18.0757 Presentism
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0757 Presentism

John Drakakis writes: "We seem to be regressing (again)!"

I'm afraid, John, the regression you speak of began long before this 
humble amateur entered the lists.

John continues:

 >"I don't know where you are getting your information from Joe but how
 >'Presentism' as a way of engaging both with the past and the present
 >represents a 'knife aimed at the heart of scholarship as a cognitive
 >enterprise' can be sustained as an intellectual position defeats any
 >rational mind."

John, what is the necessary object of scholarship? Is it not to seek, by 
reasoning together, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 
truth, despite our limitations? And does not presentism (as presently 
appropriated) undermine this quest by focusing almost exclusively on 
such limitations and by emphasizing time and again the utter futility of 
this quest? Such defeatism can only lead budding scholars away from 
seeking, sifting and weighing evidence, and toward rhetorical 
deployments and ungrounded theoretical lucubrations strangling in their 
circularity and indefinition. Now that Marxian teleology has been 
deconstructed, too many mentors are leading their wards toward an abject 
surrender to Nietschean irrationalism. Were someone to ask you, John, 
how you recognize a "rational mind", or for that matter, "progress" and 
"reaction", would he be met with that loud silence we have heard before?

Jan Hammerquist claims, "once we admit the impossibility of fully 
integrating the past, we are free to let it signify it whatever ways it 
may." Do you agree, John, that "we are free to do with [Shakespeare] as 
we please" and that we have no need of the "flesh-and-blood man"? John, 
did you acknowledge your upcoming edition of MOV as being authored "by 
William Shakespeare"? Yet, "we are lucky we can understand him at all." 
  What, John, is the basis of such understanding, if not largely those 
quaint antiquarian pursuits you and your fellow "theorists" hasten to 
demean at every opportunity?

Humble amateur that I am, I have no problem with first-rank scholars 
like Hawkes and Grady (trained by historicists?) spending their academic 
lives unmasking those nasty appropriators to clear the path for their 
own agendas. No doubt, in their own eyes, the're doing the Lord's work, 
though I wonder sometimes why they're so anxious to concede the Kantian 
Noumenon, i.e, the reality of the past. Nor would I in any way seek to 
undermine imaginative speculation and exegesis. But (SLOGAN ALERT): keep 
the horse before the cart.

Regards from the bridge,
Joe Egert


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