Re: to read or not to read...

Dr. Deborah Martinson (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 13:45:04 -0600

To respond to all your work this week-end requires more of than this
flu-ridden academic can even contemplate on Monday morning. I think,
however, that your "reading" of my reading of your reading of Hamlet, and
your reading of my reading of Hamlet illustrates the inadequacy of language
to say all of what we mean, or to make even what we say absolutely clear.
Shakespeare, far from being jargon ridden or even just "beautifully
written," enacts the necessity of using and creating language to spark
re-vision of idea and theory. "Words, words, words" are not merely
empty--surely Shakespeare (nor Hamlet) didn't mean that--they impact
profoundly, are fraught with ambiguity, used in the service of truth and
lies as we know them and sometimes when we don't, act as manipulators,
weapons, poison, witchcraft--Shakespeare, to me, is infinitely more
Derridean than Platonic in the way he uses words, and in the way he thinks
about them. Even when Gertrude tells Polonius, "more matter, less art" she
is looking for a truth that can only be a lie from his inaccurate
understanding--and Polonius' words are not art--just the opposite. He's a
man who says "since brevity be the soul of wit" and yet cannot be brief.
(Sometimes I relate!)
My point: I agree with your theorizing of language in many ways. Feminist
politics demands close scrutiny of language--and subversions.
"Problematize" is a favorite word of mine, though "hegemony" does not
exist--so is a problematized word inacting a problematized meaning.(The
ghosts of this word in politics of all sort continue to haunt). I was once
told by an economist that I couldn't use the word "foreground" in catalogue
copy because there was no such word. Pah! (Another word that doesn't "exist.")
What all this has to say about CCCC presentations I'm not sure--I had a
"lucky" presentation year. Perhaps what I object to are talks that seem to
me, listening carefully, designed to impress, to demand agreement without
giving me cogent reasons for this demand, to have little weight of theory
or praxis behind them--you know, the "vacuuous void" from the good student.
No one has mentioned Knoblauch's "The Rhetoric of Downsizing." First
rate. Provacative.



The Margin: