Monday, September 04, 2006

all roads lead there

so i was reading resisting representation, and writing down various word combinations elaine scarry had put together that i liked in the margins, when i realized that it was just going to continue that process of stupefication (case in point: how do you spell stupefecation? my brain is resembling a molding nerf football left out in a puddle of rain [more than usual, even!]) begun next to immediately after graduation if i read without responding--hence here goes.

someone pointed out (and said moldy nerf-brain can't pinpoint a locus of who, where, or precisely what, but only a nerfy, spore-laden impression of what i heard as having been said) that various shakespeare plays are full of various body parts--one body part per play or something--in other words, that the play develops a slight obsession with, say, knees, and sticks knees into the metaphorical, simile-ical, or literal processes of its expression as often as possible (i'm re-explaining this idea because even in my own self it was never that clear, plus i may have developed an entirely...ahem, unique [read inattentive and crazy] spin on the thing). it's as though shakespeare puts on knee-vision, and sees, and writes, the matter of his play through it. in romeo and juliet the body part was, i believe, hands--r&j was written through hand-vision. the examples i can remember off the top of my head of this hand overload are the courtship scenes (the hand-with-palmers and stuff meeting scene, and the "glove upon that hand" of romeo's under the balcony). there's probably a million much more interesting things to say about this hand-omnipresence than the one that i'm about to--but i think it's going to tie in with another (improperly understood) concept of scarry's, so bear with me.

which is that the overload of the word "hand," rather than serving to enflesh (or embody) the language by bringing weight, heaviness, meat to the concept on the page, instead serves to distance its meaning from its physicality. the word "hand" is not the motive but the tool of so many metaphors, is applied and used in so many situations, stands in for so many desires that its linkage to the meat of "hand" becomes no more than that of a reflection (which i guess is sophomorically obvious--this is the shit shakespeare was famous for, no? "mirror up to nature" and all that crap?) to the face it bounces back. shakespeare's verbalized "hand," however, becomes a complete body in has so many aspects that it gains depth, opacity, or equivalent things...

i get the feeling that the above is a load of derivative bullshit, but i'm finishing this bastard no matter how hard my gut cries out in mewly panic (couden: rambo of blogging).

scarry (and keep in mind i've barely begun the article) says that hardy works at embodying his characters in terms of the manner in which they physically interact with and imprint themselves upon the world. i think this corresponds with the linguistics-theorist-who-wasn't-saussure's idea of the icon, which as i understand it goes thus: you can call the bullet hole in the wall an icon because it's a clear indicator of a certain bullet--it communicates and symbolizes on a physical plane. and for some reason, reading the scarry account of how hardy manipulates narrative into including icons everywhere it goes--as she seems to be saying, how he can't let the interaction between human and world be ephemeral and how he therefore puts said interactions in terms of not just entwined imagery but flesh-contact--brings to mind the hands in romeo and juliet.

i think it's the manner in which these two understandings are similar rather than the manner in which they're separate that makes this connection spark enough in my mind to be worth writing over... shakespeare puts hands to work. he extends them into a sort of linguic objecthood (man, i like making up my own words). this objecthood is made up of all the manners in which shakespeare works hands--literal, metaphorical, and, like, meta-metaphorical--all the angles from which he comes at them, until the idea of hand you have is completely disengaged from the flesh-hand, but at the same time almost as solid as a flesh-hand can be to a lacanian symbolic understanding... the icon, as i understand it (same ol' caveat, new direction), in being physical, gets into a messy territory, one in which the thing signified by the bullet hole could be not a bullet but the physicality of a gun, a moment in time, a sound, a smell--the physicality of a feeling. the fact that the bullet hole in the wall signifies all of these things makes it into an object much in the same vein as shakespeare's word-hand: floating above itself. hardy (if my understanding of scarry's reading is at all valid) and shakespeare are thereby walking down the same road in different shoes. hardy is taking the indeterminacy implicit in physical objects and interfacing it with the unapproachability of characters, how they look, how they appear, what they appear as. shakespeare is taking the overdeterminacy of the concept implicit to a word and splitting it up, atomizing it, relocating it in a new medium, without at all taking away any of its fleshly opacity--in both cases, in some way, they are dealing with the red and black, the interior of the body and of other things.

unless i'm wrong. because maybe that's just what i'm dealing with. and if i'm rome...

No comments: