You are here

Abstracts: Volume 92, Number 4 (2013)

Michael C. Clody, “Orpheus, Unseen: Lucrece’s Cancellation Fantasy”

Addressed to a providential futurity and leading to the overthrow of a tyrant, Shakespeare’s Dedication and narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece enact a fantasy in which the “publication” of Lucrece’s tale incites political change both in the world of the text and that of the reader, thus justifying the preservation of her story. Against this preservationist urge, however, the poem also conveys a “cancellation fantasy” that contests the medium of preservation. While Lucrece’s grief defies assimilation into narrative view—and consequently eludes the coordinates of politicized readings—her actions and eventual suicide seek to cancel the immortality of the political regime that brought about her demise. By resisting the impulse for preservation and immortality that traditionally typifies the end of the laureate’s craft, Lucrece’s “cancellation fantasy” enacts a new model of authorship that eschews self-presentation and instead arises in a profound complicity with anonymity.

Christopher Leise, “The Eye-ball and the Butterfly: Beauty and the Individual Soul in Emerson and Hawthorne”

This essay considers the notion of private selfhood as articulated in Emerson’s and Hawthorne’s writings about beauty. Though Nature’s infamous “transparent Eye-ball” is frequently cited as evidence of Emerson’s secular intellectual bent, the 1836 treatise borrows heavily from Jonathan Edwards’s aesthetics. Seen in this light, the early Emerson displays far more reliance on his Congregationalist Christian influences than is typically supposed, promoting a vision of the soul that resembles more than refigures colonial New England’s predominant configuration of homogenous interiority. Hawthorne’s writing about the beautiful, on the other hand, offers art as a vehicle for transcending humankind’s inherent isolation. While art rarely attains the status of true beauty, it does so when bringing particulars of the artist’s innermost self into meaningful contact with his community. Thus Hawthorne’s selfhood resonates with modern discourses of individualism more so than does Emerson’s.

Diego Pellecchia, “Ezra Pound and the Politics of Noh Film”

This article argues that early audio-visual recordings of Noh performances played a crucial role in informing Ezra Pound’s reception of Noh and triggered in him the urge to disseminate Noh through film as a means of educating Western audiences. During the years that preceded the Second World War, Pound was interested in Noh both as aesthetical object and as a tool to prevent a conflict between the USA and Japan. Pound wanted to disseminate in the West what he considered to be the product of a refined civilization extolling values the West had lost. Influenced by the vision of early films of Noh performance, in the late 1930s, Pound made repeated attempts to find a diplomatic mediation between Japan and the USA, negotiating peace through Noh audio-visual recordings. This paper seeks to demonstrate that the film medium played a crucial role both in Pound’s politicized reception of Noh, and in his attempt to disseminate it outside Japan.

Gerald Bruns, “On the Words of the Wake (And What to Do With Them)”

This essay explores various attempts to cope with the materiality of Joyce’s language in Finnegans Wake, starting with my own efforts of a half-century ago and taking up various models proposed since then by Umberto Eco’s semiotics, Jean-Michel Rabaté’s renegade structuralism, John Bishop’s Joyce’s Book of the Night (a novel approach to the Wake as dream), Jacques Lacan’s concept of the Wake as Lalangue (unrepressed language), Julia Kristeva’s “condensed interpretation” in which the analyst does not try to “normalize” a deviant text but rather consumes it “erotically” in all of its corporeality, perhaps the way John Bishop incorporates so many words from the Wake into his own sentences. In this context Jean-Jacques Lecercle concept of writing as délire (the darkening of transparency) comes into play, as does Mikhail Bakhtin’s heteroglossia (a carnival mixing of languages in which nothing is forbidden). Further examples of what Kristeva suggests can be found in Derrida’s Glas (which he described as “a sort of Wake), John Cage’s “Muoyce: Writing Through Finnegans Wake,” and the Brazilian poet Haroldo de Campos’s Joycean Galaxias (which is made of words like horáriodiáiosemanáriomesárioanuário. Following these various lines of thinking my own preference is for a kind of “erotic philology” suggestive of Walter Benjamin’s idea that “a criticism consisting entirely of quotations should be developed.” Hence the superabundance of quotations throughout my text, with apologies to the protocols of the seminar room and conference paper.