ricardienne: (Default)
Fredric Jameson Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991: Duke University Press):
It is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to think the present historically in an ages that has forgotten to think historically in the first place"


Peter W. Rose. "Historicizing Sophocles's Ajax in History, tragedy, theory: dialogues on Athenian drama, ed. Barbara Goff (1995: UTexas Press):
...we too in our culture need to come to grips with our deep emotional investments in our own John Waynes, Charles Bronsons, Chuck Norrises, and Clint Eastwoods -- with figures whose essential brutality, moral obtuseness, and gender-based emotional blockage we are constantly invited to forgive for the little behavioral crumbs evincing their stunted potential for human feeling.
ricardienne: (Default)
Daniel Mendelsohn just wrote an essay on Mad Men for the New York Review of Books.

I confess I haven't seen the show, though I'm reasonably aware of what it is and how and why it's such a big deal. Anyway, Mendelsohn isn't impressed:the worst offense of a story set in the past: simultaneously contemptuous and pandering )

Anyway, the point is that Dale Peck was not impressed at all by Mendelsohn's critique of this, or of anything. But, obviously, it's not even Daniel Mendelsohn as much as Mendelsohn's icky out-there classics background:

Daniel Mendelsohn—a Princeton-educated classicist who should never be allowed to write about anything more recent than, say, Suetonius. Frankly, I’m not sure he should be allowed to write about the classics either, but I don’t know enough Latin and Greek to say if he’s as wrong about them as he is about modern stuff....all the standards of symmetry and taste that classicists are taught to hold dear, and that Mendelsohn assiduously, with a sharp eye but a tin ear, applies to everything he reviews. If it was good enough for Aristotle, it must be good enough for us, right?


As far as I can tell, Peck really just objects to Daniel Mendelsohn making pronouncements about anything -- so if he is going to criticize Mad Men for not providing any meaningful story or meaningful experience to the viewer, Peck is damn well going to defend the show, even if just as mindless entertainment!

Weirdly, though, Peck's issue is that Mendelsohn is criticizing Mad Men for presenting too straight a story, for not being self-reflective and post-modern enough. I mean, says Peck, it's so hard not to be racist and sexist: sometimes we just want to "bask in the pleasures" of the gloriously decadent past: taking others' needs into consideration...is exhausting )

I really do think it takes a white man to claim that we all fantasize about being in a "fixed and secure" place in a hierarchical society, "even if it lands [us] on the bottom." I realize that as a classicist, I'm not qualified to comment on anything later than Suetonius (thank heavens Tacitus just slips in by a few years!) but it's also a bizarre way to look at modern America: "here we are, repressing all of our natural urges and treating each other like persons with dignity all for our own collective good; heavens isn't it nice to relax into some nice warm fuzzy fantasy where the gender and economic roles are fixed and the women wear girdles and no one worries if you have a few drinks too many, grope your secretary and then drive home." I mean, yes, we do put ourselves under social pressures to behave in certain ways and to avoid certain socially unacceptable behaviors. I have a hard time believing that we police ourselves more than people policed themselves in the 1960's or in any era, really. Different pressures, maybe but not fewer.

Hamlet!!!

Apr. 28th, 2010 11:48 pm
ricardienne: (heiro)
With all due respect to [livejournal.com profile] awomanthatsblue I liked it a lot. I'm certainly not qualified to go on about it, but out of the people I've seen playing Hamlet, David Tennant is definitely the most attractive -- what I mean to say, of course, is that I thought I was going to be meh about the switches to security-tape footage, but I ended up not minding at all. What clicked it for me was Hamlet recording the Players' performance: watching a recording a play mirroring a play...

(two thoughts about the players: 1) how awesome was including the Murder of Gonzago AND the Priam/Hecuba speech, which isn't exactly unthematic at all. 2) The staging of Murder of Gonzago = possibly in part the RSC's dig at the Globe?)

This is not news to anyone, but there is so much in Hamlet about performing (like, the entire play) for others/against an ideal/against others and viewing, and acting for a viewer/according to a directing persons' instructions. And so I liked the mirrors/cameras/Hamlet navel-gazing and recording himself. I think having Hamlet taping his own soliloquies got toward some of the extra meta-theatrical baggage that is a result of Hamlet being such a canonical play.

(I think that the main staging choice I didn't like was the duct-taped to a chair interrogation scene in the basement. Similarly I'm not sure it was really necessary to drug Hamlet before sending him off to England. Also, I may have an anti- gritty and realistic compulsion).

Anyway: David Tennant as Hamlet. I thought the wild-eyed and wound-up thing worked pretty well: the first scene with Claudius and Gertrude and Hamlet was really really amazing, and while not every other scene was that good, on the balance I really liked it. Um what else? Hamlet really wants R. and G. not to be fakes and is genuinely upset when they are? Oh Mr. Tennant, you broke my heart with that.

Gertrude I also thought was fantastic. My experience isn't broad in this, but I definitely had not seen a Gertrude knows exactly what she's doing when she drinks the poison version before. Also, the big Hamlet-Gertrude followed by Gertrude-Claudius scene was devastating.

Patrick Stewart! The thing is: Patrick Steward now looks like Captain Picard crossed with my beloved third grade teacher crossed with certain members of my dad's family, and this combination does not tend to make me think of evil. No actually, I really liked his Claudius: someone who can easily hide his wickedness, because, come on, who is going to suspect Patrick Steward of villainy? And he smiled and was affabl(y evil), and it wasn't obviously fake, even if you knew that it was. And it makes Claudius that much scarier.

(Clearly an excess of italics in that paragraph: don't judge.)

I don't think I've ever read or seen Hamlet when Ophelia's character arc completely made sense to me, so I tend just not to worry about it.

Random Hamlet thought: "Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I" is a really weird soliloquy in light of the fact that Hamlet is probably a more immediately recognizable figure than Hecuba.
ricardienne: (library)
[livejournal.com profile] existentialgoat and I went to see Troilus and Cressida last night. Things looked rather ominous when the director's note announced that he had picked the play after looking around for a good vehicle to talk about war and the human cost of war, and that he had found this play to be good for cutting and rearranging in order to make his point. It turned out to be less anvilicious than it promised, however. Or rather, the anviliciousness was sufficiently confused that it didn't get in the way. Coming from someone who has not actually read the play thoroughly all the way through -- there were some rather large omissions (apart from line and speech cutting): most notably, Diomedes was merged with Ajax: it was played as "Cressida is forced by a brutish Ajax to accept him as her lover." This is a more congenial interpretation, I think, than the traditional(?) "Cressida is just a flighty woman who falls for whatever pretty man happens to be available," and it sort of mostly worked. Thersites was made into a female slave, which stretched some of the lines, obviously, but, again, worked about half the time.

Um what else? It was modern dress, naturally. There were some really nicely-done scenes of Hector, Aeneas, Troilus, etc. engaging in band of brothers-esque cameraderie, helping each other off with armour, passing around cards and beers, etc. Probably the worst scene was the version of the Agamemnon (played by a woman), Nestor, and Ulysses in council: it consisted of them sitting on stage watching the previously-filmed version of them giving their speeches. Also, they cut out the complaint about how Achilles and Patroclus sit around doing impressions of the more senior officers, which is my favorite part of that scene.

I imagine that making Pandarus Troilus' Gay Best Friend must be a fairly common way to go, but that gives the ending some awkward implications if it's played completely casually as "oh shoot, I have a fatal sexually-transmitted disease." Just an FYI.

Unrelated to that: I am a total Aeneas fangirl in this play, and I don't know why. But I really like him (I remember this from reading the play, too).
ricardienne: (Default)
This picture makes me giggle. A lot. Maybe it's the enchanted-garden background, or the white peacock. Or the fact that "Plato" looks an awful lot like Jesus. Or maybe all of that + lots of naked young men?

Today I...

Oct. 19th, 2008 12:01 am
ricardienne: (Default)
1. Locked myself out of my room
2. Got completely behind on homework/practicing
3. Saw a really bizarre adaptation of Midsummer Night' Dream (at least, the parts of it without the fairies or mechanicals). It was very avant-garde and post-modern and other-hyphenated-things: video projection, and audience interaction (we were all handed chicken costumes (read: big pieces of bright yellow fake-fur and mask) upon entering and herded into the orchestra pit, where all the action happened as we milled around and got shoved out of the way by the actors), but it was actually pretty good: the delivery/acting was much better than the straighter (and more complete) version they did last year. And, the video-montage-ing included footage of Foucault with the actor voicing-over for Theseus. Theseus!Foucault! Hilarious!

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