Der Zuschauer

A Journal of Essays and Reportage on Drama, History, and Literature

Archive for May 2008

More from Strategic Guam, 2

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We have been absorbed of late with natural disasters, human catastrophe, of tyranny and Olympic games. There is agony, brutality, and kow-tow suck-up all across Asia, the sub-continent, et al. Maoist Rebels participate freely in open elections?
We have had strong atmospheric disturbances over our own quonset huts: cyclonic womb-winds, agitation over a rumored break-away faction moving to the Falkland Islands in order to write more freely about “the body pierced, displayed, and polyestorized.” Go, we say, and live among sheep. We will stay here with the Gooney birds, Albatrosses, and runways of Strategic Guam.
Our own work on the body has consisted mainly of nightly wiener-roasting campfires, with public readings from Smollett’s translation of Gil Blas, Le Sage’s Diable boiteux, Diderot’s Postscript to the Voyage of Bougainville, and of course, Vols. 1, 2, 3, of the essential and immortal Dictionary of Sexual Language…, after which human intercourse often turns into sexual congress and we all go off to our cots soused, will-swived, and happy.
Even with these cataclysmic events, these typhoonoes, even with these small-beer consolations, the great planes continue to take off from the Guam airfields toward the Magellanic Clouds of Hope. The Konigsberg ghosts, both Kant and Hoffmann, continue in the roiling skies. The viscious warfare between the flying monkeys harassing Dorthy, and the noble, winged, porcine warriors of Antartica, ranges as far north as Guam. We watch carefully the world. We swim in shark-infested seas. Where better to get commentary on contemporary arts, ideas, and jauntily living in history?
Here on Guam we must import whiskey and gin, but we are able to brew our own beer and ale.

The Editors, Der Zuschauer

PS. The name of the Quonset Hut comes from Quonset Point in Rhode Island, where these doughty buildings were first made.

Written by herrdramaturg

May 23, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Further Pudenda Studies

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Rhine Maiden as Roaring Girl

A Roaring Girl: Further Reactions to the Oxford Middleton

In a second substantive and somewhat stinging revview of The Collected Works of Thomas Middleton, and Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture, in the TLS, Jonathan Bate discusses what he calls the 3rd editorial claim of the massive ejaculation from Oxford’s Clarendon Press. He quotes editor Gary Taylor as suggesting “[Middleton] sexed language, and languaged sex, more comphrensively than any other writer in English.” Bates goes on to write, “Middleton must be acknowledged as our great bard of incest, pimping, transvestism, stalking, sexual blackmail, castration, priestly sexual abuse, marital rape, impotence, masochism, necrophilia, paedophilia, fornication, masturbation and ‘lesbianation’.” He wonders how “exactly the latter is distinct from mere lesbianism.” Bates notes Taylor writing, “He invokes backdoor sex, male and female, more often than any of his contemporaries,” with a straight face.

It was with crimson ears and watering eyes that we noticed Bate’s mention of “Gordon Williams’ magnificant three-volume compendium of filth, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature. We have not yet received our copy of these tomes here on Guam Island but it does sound like a great read while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Bate’s review, “Dampit and Moll,” can be found on page 3 of the TLS, 4.25.08. See our link to the TLS to the right under Associates. For our link to the Oxford Middleton website see our earlier posting, 4.26.08.

Editors, Der Zuschauer. Some postings will be attributed, most not. All editorial material is copyright by the authors and/or Guam Battalions, Intellectual and Various, 2008.

Written by herrdramaturg

May 18, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Inanities, Recommendations

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Aaron Hill Upon the Prompter

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“Custom has made it necessary for a writer who aims at the entertainment or instruction of his readers (I mean in this humble half-sheet way) to assume a character either illustrious or obscure, either heroic or ludicrous; or, to express the common intention better, such a character as is most able to excite curiosity, raise mirth, and procure attention. So that a modern author, like an ancient pilgrim, as soon as he sets out, must take some sobriquet or mock name, if he hopes to come quietly to the end of his journey.

Convinced of this, before I sat down to form lessons for the public, I spent some time in search of a title to appear under, but so many have travelled before me in this road, that I found it almost impossible to fix upon one which I might properly call my own. I believe it must occur to the memory of every reader that even the subjects which furnish these kinds of essays are not more exhausted than the titles which adorn them.

I lay long under this difficulty, and indeed it was so heavy that I had for some time almost laid my purpose, till at length my love for theatrical entertainments, which frequently led me to the playhouses, gave me an opportunity of extricating myself. In one of my walks behind the scenes, while I had this matter full in my head, I observed an humble but useful officer standing in a corner and attentively perusing a book which lay before him. He never forsook his post but, like a general in the field, had many aides de camp about him, whom he dispatched with his orders, and I could perceive that though he seeemed not to command, yet all his instructions were punctually complied with, and that in the modest character of an adviser he had the whole management and direction of that little commonwealth. I enquired into his name and office and was informed that he was The Prompter.”  Further Prompter here.

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May 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

Spirits Were Cheap

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“After 1715 the price of corn was low, spirits were cheap, and there was a great outburst of gin-drinking. Spirit-shops opened everywhere; the Westminster justices reported that every tenth house sold liquor. In St. Giles in 1750 it was said that every fourth house was a gin-shop. The death-rate rose rapidly, but the government was slow to act, for distilling was said to be a needful buttress to the agricultural interest. The Gin Act of 1736 imposed heavy restrictions, but was so unpopular that it could not be enforced, and gin-drinking not merely continued, but increased. It was not until the Act of 1751, which was moderate and enforceable, that drinking was really curbed. Consumption then fell steadily during the following decades, and the death-rate declined accordingly. Mrs. George comments: “It would hardly be possible to exagerate the cumulatively disastrous effects of the orgy of spirit drinking betwween 1720 and 1751.”
From R.W. Harris: A Short History of 18th Century England, 1689-1793.

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May 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm

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Diderot’s Paradoxe: Refutation as Marginalia

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…if a certain beetle, of whom we have all heard, could extract filth even from pearls, if we have examples that fire destroyed and water deluged, shall therefore pearls, fire and water be condemned?
Schiller, Preface to Die Rauber

Refutation of a paradox is an attempt apt to drive one barking mad. Especially if it is not clear whether the “paradoxe” is actually intended to be a paradox, as opposed to simply having it both ways, and whether it is in fact a paradox at all. There has been much rumination on Diderot’s Paradoxe sur le comedien. Eric Bentley mentions Copeau, Dullin, Fouvet, Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Edwige Feuillere, and Claude Dauphin, none of whom offer an endorsement of Diderot’s position. Bentley writes: “What is it, in Diderot’s ‘untenable’ argument, that has perennial interest and vitality? In an argument that any drama student can refute what is it that appeals to a great actor [Coquelin] and a great dramatist [Brecht]?”

The question of paradox is often ignored or dispensed with quickly. The refutations ignore the ambiguity implicit in a dialogue. The position of Diderot is explained and then assaulted, demolished, dismissed or seemingly still left standing, for as Bentley points out “critics still wish to refute the [Paradoxe] even though they assure us that is was definitely refuted long ago.” Full article here.

Written by herrdramaturg

May 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

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The Speedy Extinction of Evil and Misery

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In our collective ignorance we are often caught up by our esteemed colleague, Miss Anthropy, the tallest Girl-Friday in the world. She has recently discovered for us the obscure and quite brilliant polemicist, James Thomson (1834-1882), author of the poem, “The City of Dreadful Night.” Our recent narcotic failure, blithe ignorance of Thomson’s genius for invective and vituperation, was remedied by the Amazon intellectual’s purchase of The Speedy Extinction of Evil and Misery, a selected prose, from that eminent bookseller, McIntyre&Moore, now located in Porter Square in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, Mass. Thomson is clearly in that long line of British polemicists that begins well before Swift, includes Paine, Cobbett, Burke, De Quincey, Hazlitt, and comes right down to Christopher Hitchens.

We stand corrected. You, Dear Reader, stand well-advised.

Editors, Der Zuschauer. Some postings will be attributed, most not. All editorial material is copyright by the authors and/or Guam Battalions, Intellectual and Various, 2008.

Written by herrdramaturg

May 8, 2008 at 10:15 am

Ovid’s Medea

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ACT, ART, BAM, and WD (American Conservatory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Walt Disney Corporation), have announced a commission to Bali-based performance-artist, director-designer, Topeng Danawa, to translate-adapt, create-develop, the first stage production in modern times, of Publius Ovidius Naso’s notorious Medea, his only known drama, written in Latin and no longer extant in any language. How this creation is to be accomplished we can only wonder. The Disney Corporation promises a production palatable to both children and parents in this 9/11 War-On-Terrorism era. The editors will keep you posted.

Editors, Der Zuschauer. Some postings will be attributed, most not. All editorial material is copyright by the authors and/or Guam Battalions, Intellectual and Various, 2008.

Written by herrdramaturg

May 6, 2008 at 9:56 am

Posted in Inanities

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