Sunday, May 20, 2007

Daphne Gottlieb / Stephen Greenblatt / Garry Wills

Daphne Gottlieb, Final Girl (Soft Skull, 2003): "Final girl” theory, adumbrated by Jane Dark’s mum Carol Clover – the last woman left alive in the slasher film, the one who just barely manages to off the semi-human killing machine. A scary, very contemporary mix of slam-performance-beat rhythms and intonations, Suicide Girl aesthetics, and grindhouse cinema – with a canny sense of historically grounded feminist foreground: Mary Rowlandson’s abduction during the 17th-century King Philip’s war in Massachussets reimagined as the first slasher movie, the first “final girl” narrative. Prostitutes, strippers, sex workers of all stripes, the babysitter desired by the middle-aged bourgeois father, the broken condom; drinking, drugs, sex, etc.
Shax as proto-postmodernist, courtesy of Stephen Greenblatt (Will in the World): “Shakespeare found that he could immeasurably deepen the effect of his plays, that he could provoke in the audience and in himself a peculiarly passionate intensity of response, if he took out a key explanatory element, thereby occulding the rationale, motivation, or ethical principle that accounted for the action that was to unfold. The principle was not the making of a riddle to be solved, but the creation of a strategic opacity. This opacity, Shakespeare found, released an enormous energy that had been at least partially blocked or contained by familiar, reassuring explanations.” Or ST Coleridge, on Iago: “motiveless malignity.”
Garry Wills, on how to make the inert second half of Shax’s “Scottish drama” work in the theater (Witches and Jesuits: Shakespeare’s Macbeth): It's simple, stupid: just don’t cut Hecate and the witches.

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