Download Agitated States: Performance in the American Theater of by Anthony James Kubiak PDF

By Anthony James Kubiak

From the earliest Puritan monitors of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged institution massacres, the historical past of the USA has been characterised via a twin impulse: to solid public occasion and personality as excessive drama, and to brush aside theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This ebook rethinks American heritage as theater, and theater because the ethos and substance of yank lifestyles, mockingly repudiated at each flip through the tradition it produces. starting with the writings of John Winthrop and others, throughout the Federalist and ''romantic'' phases of yankee cultural existence, and into the fashionable and modern sessions, Anthony Kubiak reveals an the USA no longer often stumbled on via conventional or materialist ways to heritage. He deploys the psychoanalytic idea of Jacques Lacan, the cultural conception of SlavojZizek, and the functionality conception of Herbert Blau in an exceptional reappraisal of dominant American identification, tradition, and background. Anthony Kubiak is affiliate Professor of English, college of South Florida. he's additionally writer of phases of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre background .

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These Puritans were a focused and deliberate people, to be sure, but full of vigor and life, appreciative of what life offered them in the plea- sures with which they surrounded themselves. Then, seemingly swimming against this revisionism, there was Michael Wigglesworth,'7 a dyspeptic, nosy moralizer obsessed with guilt, "a poor, sinful worm" undeserving even of God's wrath. What- ever recuperation the Puritans might have undergone is undone the minute Wigglesworth's diaries are opened. Even his name seems a car- icature of Puritanical ridiculousness that is quickly confirmed as one reads him, and reads about him.

To sug- gest that they "really" didn't want to be good and were just acting merely underscores my point-at one level at least the Puritan experi- ence seems to suggest that one cannot change the lineaments of will or desire to conform to ideology (indeed, at some level this is one of the central issues in the history of Western drama). The failure, finally, to construct that life through an unrealized theatrical ontology links Artaud and Puritanism. In very different ways, both suffer the derangement of theater activated but unrealized.

The push toward thought-critical thought-that somehow moves through the coarser structures of the concealing mind and duplicitous consciousness and toward something both terrifying and sublime in Artaud's work, suggests his strong desire to identify that which is divine in consciousness and thought itself. Note that the issue is to identify, not identify with. Artaud's desire is to be the divine, not merely to lay himself subservient to it. 4 For while Calvinism rejected this kind of Manichaeanism, the rejection was often not convincing.

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