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Showing posts from January 29, 2006

On Slippery Slopes and Straw Men

Over on "Superfluities" (see blogroll), George Hunka responds to my post below entitled "On the Connection Between Sentiment and Idea" with his own, entitled "Taking a Breather." In it, he makes two points. I'd like to start with the second:

"Second, when you put together the theater ideas that "theatre is not harmless" and "the values we express, and the techniques we use to represent those values, affect people," you're at the top of a very slippery slope indeed. Nobody is suggesting censorship (and let me repeat that so there's no misreading: nobody is suggesting censorship), but those same thoughts in that combination have been used to rationalize that censorship, and so I'm deeply wary of them from whatever quarter they emerge. The Puritans thought the same thing when they saw the sensual, rich, violent, sexual theater of the Jacobean dramatists, and when they came to power in England in 1640, their first mov…

On the Connection Between Sentiment and Idea

In response to George Hunka's question, which has been echoed rather frequently in the blogosphere: "[J]ust why [does] Scott thinks artists should say anything at all?," I will offer a few quotations from critic Lionel Trilling:

"Goethe says somewhere that there is no such thing as a liberal idea, that there are only liberal sentiments. This is true. Yet it is also true that certain sentiments consort only with certain ideas and not with others. What is more, sentiments become ideas by a natural and imperceptible process. 'Our continued influxes of feeling,' said Wordsworth, 'are modified and directed by our thoughts, which are indeed the representatives of our past feelings.' And Charles Peguy said, "Tout commence en mystique et finit en politique' -- everything begins in sentiment and assumption and finds its issue in political action and institutions. The converse is also true: just as sentiments become ideas, ideas eventually establish th…

More on In-Yer-Face Theatre

Several people have taken issue with my attack on the seeming lack of theatre history evidenced on the "In Yer Face Theatre" website section defining the style. And George is right: I have not read Sierz's book, nor do I find it listed as being in my library, nor in the library of the other two universities that serve as our interlibrary loan system. Nor has the book been reviewed in Theatre Journal, the leading academic journal in America. Apparently George assumes that I, "as a teacher of theater and drama at a major state university" should be aware of every book written on theatre. I would assure him that at my small (3000 student) public liberal arts college, where my teaching load is far higher than my colleagues' at the major research universities in the state, and where I also serve as the administrator of a general education program, time for reading every British tome that happens to be reviewed in New Theatre Quarterly is not possible.

Perhaps…

And the Point Is...???

I recently visited a site that George has on his blogroll: In-Yer-Face Theatre. After clicking on "What Is In-Yer-Face Theatre," I found this explanation:

In-yer-face theatre is the kind of theatre which grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck and shakes it until it gets the message. The phrase 'in-your-face' is defined by the New Oxford English Dictionary (1998) as something 'blatantly aggressive or provocative, impossible to ignore or avoid'. The Collins English Dictionary (1998) adds the adjective 'confrontational'.

'In-your-face' originated in American sports journalism during the mid-1970s as an exclamation of derision or contempt, and gradually seeped into more mainstream slang during the late 1980s and 1990s, meaning 'aggressive, provocative, brash'. It implies being forced to see something close up, having your personal space invaded. It suggests the crossing of normal boundaries. In short, it describes perfectly the kind o…

Practice Makes...

I'm back! On Monday, I moved into my new office in the brand new building on campus. It is a wonderful space, and the first time in my academic career (now 15 years old) that I have had a window. Actually, two! This morning, I pulled my armchair up to the window, and with the morning sun streaming over my shoulder I read Corneille's The Cid while Mozart's 40th Symphony playing on the CD player. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. All I needed was a pipe, and the whole Oxfordian image would have been complete...

But -- and this was a HUGE but -- there was no internet service in the building until this morning. At first, I was OK. But soon, I found my hands were shaking, and I kept clicking on the Internet Explorer icon willing it to connect. I KNEW that there were discussion going on here and across the theatre blogosphere, and I was missing them!!! Well, this morning just as I headed to class, the service was restored. I nearly wept.

Anyway, I am still unpacking while…