Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rhetoric & poetics prior to hermeneutics & history

Working notes literary criticism, philosophy, and other things I'm up to and working on in princeton and elsewhere Thursday, April 30, 2009 Prior to a hermeneutics and a history
Literature, instead of being taught only as a historical and humanistic subject, should be taught as a rhetoric and a poetics prior to being taught as a hermeneutics and a history. -Paul de Man, "The Return to Philology"

The power of this formulation comes right from the "prior to," and the fact that both "hermeneutics and history" are thereby conceived as something that "rhetoric and poetics" can actually (perhaps) do without. De Man makes us think not only of undoing the humanist function of the aesthetic object, which makes us "move so easily from literature to its apparent," but superficial, de Man would say, "prolongations in the spheres of self-knowledge, religion, and of politics"--in short that makes us fall prey to ideology in de Man's sense of the term.

He begins to show us that rhetoric, say, is not beholden to its hermeneutical basis except as a possible auxiliary function of its own operation. This is not only powerful but radical--and should serve as some check on my dismissals of de Man in my last post. It also comes with increasing dangers--with a vagueness in its radicality. I'll comment more on all this later. Posted by Mike Johnduff What is written about:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Node poetry is drawing its inspiration from synthetic and visual poetry

from Michael Douma to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 22 Apr 2009 21:59 subject New poetry exhibit, of interest for Savitri Era
Dear Tusar,

I've been browsing poetry blogs recently, and thought perhaps you and Savitri Era readers might like a project I've been working on to inspire visitors to start reading and writing new forms. It's called "Poetry through the Ages" (PTTA) --

One of the most exciting aspects of the exhibit is that it highlights a new form, called node poetry. Drawing its inspiration from synthetic and visual poetry, the form is found exclusively online, and enables readers to take the poet's lines and construct the poem as they explore it. Here's a page with sample node poems:

For people who think non-linearly, here's a nodemap of the entire site:

If you get a chance to visit PTTA, please let me know what you think. My colleagues and I are keen for ideas to keep the exhibit engaging, interesting, easy to use -- and solidly accurate. Thanks!
Michael Douma

Prithwin Mukherjee to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 23 Apr 2009 12:50

Prithwindra Mukherjee

from RY Deshpande to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 25 Apr 2009 21:33
Dear Tusar

Many thanks for bringing this to my attention. Fascinating stuff. Unfortunately the Aurobindonian poetry does not get any mention in these compilations. One of the problems is how to project it. Of course there is no question of imposition of any kind, but making oneself open to it is certainly desirable, to say the least.

There is nothing in discourse that is not to be found in the sentence

GooseDrop! from The Daily Goose by Matthew

“I also tried to stop using phrases like of course and adverbs like surprisingly, predictably, understandably, and ironically, which place a value on a sentence before the reader has a chance to read it. Readers, I learned, are not as dumb as the writer thinks; they must be given room to play their role in the act of writing—to discover for themselves what’s surprising or predictable or understandable or ironic. They don’t want that pleasure usurped."

Rhetoric as a second linguistics from The Joyful Knowing by Mike Johnduff

From the point of view of linguistics, there is nothing in discourse that is not to be found in the sentence: "The sentence," writes Martinet, "is the smallest segment that is perfectly and wholly representative of discourse." Hence there can be no question of linguistics setting itself an object superior to the sentence, since beyond the sentence are only more sentences--having described the

Mar 27, 2009 Saying X rather than Y from The Joyful Knowing by Mike Johnduff

This is why I like I.A. Richards: the way he is so attentive to the psychology of communication, or rather how the necessities of communication require certain things from one's psychology. More fundamentally, it is his attentiveness to particular openings in the process of communication for reform, for precision, when that space is currently in complete disarray--precisely because we do not see

Logocentrism from Gaia Community: kelamuni's Blog

In an article on "Logocentrism, " Wikipedia says this: "Logocentrism is often used as a derogatory term, refering to the tendencies of some works to emphasize language or words to the exclusion or detriment of the matters to which they refer."

In other words: thought and langauge --- bad; "reality" and "experience" --- good. What beautiful, hilarious irony. A classic example of how the meaning of an idea is changed when it is coopted by popular thought, particularly when the original idea is potentially critical of the received conception.

In post-modern thought, "logocentrism" denotes exactly the opposite of the above. By "logocentrism" is meant the tendency to ground the meaning of words in a transcendental referent, in the "pure presence" of a self-same "thing" to the exclusion of its dependence upon the linguistic context in which the term is situated and to which it is related.

*Note that any account of meaning, or metaphysical account with an implied theory of meaning, that makes the prescriptive claim, "don't confuse the finger for the moon," will be "logocentric" insofar as it will imply a representationalist theory of perception, a referential or extensionalist theory of meaning, and a correspondence theory of truth.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hemchandra's Bharat Sangeet (1870) and the politics of poetry

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1990; vol. 25: pp. 85 - 109.
...Bareilly) Rs35.00. _ A Study of Sri Aurobindo's 'Savitri' and other Select English (17) 2 pp1-7. _ Srt Aurobindo The Poet and Thinker Nirmalya Ghatak...Bareilly) Rs35.00. _ A Study of Sri Aurobindo's 'Savitri' and other Select Poems... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1974; vol. 9: pp. 95 - 110.
...Journals); contains, pp. 130-42, 'A Select Bibliography of Sri Aurobindo's Works', M. Das. The Banasthali Patrika, 17 I8 (see Journals); contains, pp. 156-62, 'Sri Aurobindo's Poetics: A Bibliography' , K. Gupta , et al... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1972; vol. 7: pp. 95 - 113.
...Sri Aurobindo's letters on the poem, 816 pp. Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Vols XXVIII and XXIX...letters on the poem, 8I6 pp. Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Vols XXVIII and XXIX... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Anand, Mulk Raj. Coolie, with Introduction by S. Cowasjee, 320 pp. Bodley
Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1973; vol. 8: pp. 102 - 119.
...year was also the centenary of Sri Aurobindo's birth; in I03 addition to the...of his literary achievement. The Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, completed publication of their lavish Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library in thirty... Check item Full Text (PDF) Table of Contents MatchMaker

C.N. Srinath The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1971; vol. 6: pp. 73 - 84.
...Srinivasa. A Big Change, 187 pp. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi, Rs.8.00; 'talks...Indo-English Poetry: A Study of Sri Aurobindo and Four Others, P.C. Kotoky, 203...Srinivasa. A Big Change, I87 pp. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi, Rs.8.00; 'talks... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1975; vol. 10: pp. 107 - 120.
...Speeches, 180 pp. Rs7.50. All pbld. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Narayan...The Literary Criticism of Sri Aurobindo with Special Reference to Poetry...mdash; The Literary Criticism of Sri Aurobindo with Special Reference to Poetry... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1992; vol. 27: pp. 47 - 71.
...Aurobindo Nirodbaran 160pp Sri Aurobindo Ashram ( Pondicherry) Rs60.00...Harindranath Chattopadhyaya's Poetry' Sri Aurobindo Mother India (XLIV) 7 pp416-19...Harindranath Chattopadhyaya's Poetry' Sri Aurobindo Mother India (XLIV) 7 pp416-19...
Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Do Not Promote Religion Under the Guise of Spirituality
Ian I. Mitroff Organization, May 2003; vol. 10: pp. 375 - 382.
...California, Los Angeles, USA Aurobindo, Sri (1993) The Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo's...regard to organized religion; see Aurobindo (1993). Do Not Promote Religion...Ordinarily Sacred (1992). References Aurobindo, Sri (1993) The Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo's... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1989; vol. 24: pp. 73 - 93.
...and Sparks Poems and Plays 81 pp Sri Aurobindo Action ( Calcutta) Rs20.00...and Sparks Poems and Plays 81 pp Sri Aurobindo Action (Calcutta) Rs20.00. Kaushal...Mother India ed K. D. Sethna. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry 605002... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1983; vol. 18: pp. 92 - 109. Blitz, an Indian weekly. Aurobindo, Sri The Hour of God 128 pa Rs8.00...00 pa Rs30.00; all published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Chaudhuri...Page' in Blitz, an Indian weekly. Aurobindo, Sri The Hour of God 128 pa Rs8.00... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1995; vol. 30: pp. 35 - 70.
...Sethna ( Amal Kiran) xxxii+784pp Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Pondicherry) Rs550.00...Sethna (Amal Kiran) xxxii+784pp Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Pondicherry) Rs550.00...Mother India ed K. D. Sethna, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002. Annual... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

A Meeting with the Anima
Eve Williamson Management Learning, Oct 1985; vol. 16: pp. 269 - 277.
...Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffe) SRI AUROBINDO, The Future Evolution of Man...George Allen and Unwin. SATPREM, Sri Aurobindo or the adventures of consciousness, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Address for Reprints Eve... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1996; vol. 31: pp. 45 - 85.
...pp81-97. Aurobindo, Sri 'Sri Aurobindo's Future Poetry: A Critique' S. Murali Littcrit 41 pp81-94. - ' Sri Aurobindo's Sonnets: A Spiritual Autobiography...Murali Littcrit 41 pp81-94. — 'Sri Aurobindo's Sonnets: A Spiritual Autobiography... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Shyamala A. Narayan The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Jan 1998; vol. 33: pp. 43 - 74.
...Mantra of Vision: An Overview of Sri Aurobindo's Aesthetics S. Murali ix+253pp...Exploration and Yogic Transformation in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri' S. Murali Indian Literature...Exploration and Yogic Transformation in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri' S. Murali Indian Literature... Check item Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Meditation Practice and Research
Roger Walsh Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Jan 1983; vol. 23: pp. 18 - 50.
...unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious [Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, 1973, p. 15]. Alexander...Hammadi Library. New York: Harper Row, 1977. Satprem. Sri Aurobindo or the adventure of consciousness. New York: Harper Row... Check item Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

The Aryan Theory of Race
Joan Leopold Indian Economic & Social History Review, Jan 1970; vol. 7: pp. 271 - 297.
...Nationalism. First Series (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1955), pp. 100-102. Dayanand...Bary, ed., Sources, II, 104. 20. Aurobindo Ghose, "Hindu Drama," Kalidasa. Second Series (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1964), p. 7. 21. Lilian... Check item Full Text (PDF) Table of Contents MatchMaker

Karma: Electable, Immutable and Inexorable
Pradip Bhattacharya Journal of Human Values, Oct 2001; vol. 7: pp. 117 - 130.
...library, he discovered a copy of Sri Aurobindo's Bengali introduction to the Gita...Shyam Kumari, How They Came to Sri Aurobindo & The Mother (Vol. 3) (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1993). 23. Hercules saw... Check item Abstract Full Text (PDF) Table of Contents MatchMaker

Some Thoughts on Indian Ethics for a Globalizing World
Victor A. van Bijlert Journal of Human Values, Oct 2000; vol. 6: pp. 145 - 153.
...Spirituality: Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo Modem Indian spirituality was greatly...into what it believes.&dquo;99 Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) is another major...realizer at the same time, after 1910 Sri Aurobindo exclusively turned to deep meditation... Check item Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Hemchandra's Bharat Sangeet (1870) and the politics of poetry: A pre-history of Hindu nationalism in Bengal?
Rosinka Chaudhuri Indian Economic & Social History Review, Jun 2005; vol. 42: pp. 213 - 247.
...first pub-lished in the Karmayogin, also exists. 4 Aurobindo, Bhawani Mandir, pp. 61, 69. I am indebted to Prof...out this connection to me. 5 ibid., pp. 61, 65. 6 Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo on Himself and On the Mother, pp. 8586. 216/ROSINKA... Check item Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Motivation and Human Growth: A Developmental Perspective
M.S. Srinivasan Journal of Human Values, Apr 2008; vol. 14: pp. 63 - 71.
...Srinivasan is Research Associate, Sri Aurobindo Society, Research Section, Beach...instinctive rec- ognition of what Sri Aurobindo perceived with a more conscious...will be the leader of humanity' (Sri Aurobindo 1972a, 1972b). In the scheme of... Check item Abstract Full Text (PDF) References Table of Contents MatchMaker

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Textual strategies as rhetorical technique of seduction

7 Responses to “Developmental Systems Theory, Plasticity, Neurology, and Culture”
Bryan Says: April 16, 2009 at 3:23 am

What I find slightly repugnant is your shift into language like “The Kantian says…” (as you use even in this post), or “The correlationist says…” As if all these positions are so self-evident and clear. I don’t think this is the case, and I think that this kind of rhetorical gesture suggests something deeply troubling about your recent “conversion” (maybe in the religious sense?) to object-oriented philosophy.

In other words, in the past several months, your way of describing your positions and communicating with other bloggers strikes me as deeply Christian: you have the true faith, we’re all left out of heaven, banished into the limbo of correlationism. It’s a little bit arrogant. I only decided to post because I thought it was worth pointing out–it’s a kind of rhetorical disposition that is, in my opinion, deeply unsuited for an analyst.

larvalsubjects Says: April 16, 2009 at 3:51 am Bryan,
Thanks for the comment!

Of course you are correct in identifying certain rhetorical and textual strategies at work in my discussions. These are designed to produce certain disidentifications and open alternative possibilities of thought. Moreover I’m eulogizing these alternative approaches as a rhetorical technique of seduction.

As I described myself in a recent post, I am a fundamentalist evangelical atheist materialist, so your charge of being Christian is largely correct. I apologize for not quoting you in full, though I did link to your original quote. I’m perplexed by your remark about cultural studies. Certainly Zizek falls into the domain of cultural studies.

All of this aside, vis a vis your criticisms of the manner in which I’m simplifying the Kantian and the correlationist, would you level a similar critique against Lacan’s discussions of ego-psychology, Piaget, or Chomsky?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dr. Govindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay: A note

Dr. Govindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay > A note on Dr. Govindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay
from Prithwin Mukherjee prithwin.mukherjee@gmail.comto “Tusar N. Mohapatra” tusarnmohapatra@gmail.comdate 13 April 2009 16:11 subject Re: hello!

Bhâi Tusar, I hope you are better now. I liked the article on Gobindogopal and sent a copy to his grandson Sharanya. His e-mail id is He sends me a note which may be important:

“lekhati pathanor janya dhanyabad. tabe ekhane ekti tathyapramad lakshya korlam. gobindadu deoghare janmanni, janmechhilen krishnanagare. amar didimar baba chakurijagat theke abasar grahan kore tanr kanishtha kanya arthat amar didimar bibahakriya samapan kore samsarik dayitwamukta abasthay deoghare sthayibhabe basabas arambha karen tanr stri o kanishtha putra gobinke sange niye 1925 sal nagad. gobindagopaler janma deoghargamaner 7 ba 8 bachhor purber ghatana, janmer din amar didimar jyeshtha agrajar bibaha chhilo, pachhe jatashaucher karane patrapaksha biye na diye chole jan, sei karane patrir anujabhratar janma neoar katha gopan kara hoyechhilo, emon ekti kahini amar didimader kachhe bahubar shunechhi. abashya ei tathya mulyahin.”

Kind regards. Prithwindra Mukherjee
5:56 PM, April 13, 2009

Dante is the paradigmatic poet just as Gadda is the novelist who draws Calvino’s warmest affection and attention

Latter-day critic is critiqued Write View by M.L. Raina
Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino and translated from Italian by Martin McLaughlin. Pantheon Books, New York. Pages x+278. $ 26.
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom. Riverhead Books, New York. Pages xx+745. $ 35.

CRITICISM is the oddest and most parasitic of activities. Dr Johnson denounced it in his periodical The Idler and worried about those less gifted than himself setting up shop and trading in the critical equivalent of prejudice, pettiness and malice. "He whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant may yet support his vanity by the name of critic." A statement eminently applicable to much academic criticism today.
Johnson’s archetypal critic, Dick Minim, apprenticed to a brewer, "proses on about Shakespeare’s faults". The Dick Minims of the academe, also apprenticed to a heady concoction of theory and prejudice, similarly prose on about the canon and its "vice-like grip on the reader". In his 1779 play, "The Critic", Sheridan’s hero Mr Puff uses his puffery to peddle whichever side of the critical debate he happens to be on. Today’s descendants of the irrelevant Minim and the unregenerate Puff would lose "the very spring of thought and action", to quote Hazlitt in "On the Pleasures of Hating", if they did not hate the universally accepted classics of literature. Indeed, Bloom sees today’s academic critics thriving on "plain resentment".

Calvino and Bloom provide the much-needed reminder that the cannon is not dead and that classics such as Shakespeare and the ones Calvino so lovingly writes about are perennial sources of insight and instruction, as are the great epics of our own culture with their intricate tapestry of narrative layering calling for rare attentiveness and open-mindedness.
A novelist of uncommon perception, Italo Calvino is also a discerning critic. Just as his novels are models of economy and concentration both in conception and execution, so also his criticism of literature is marked by a relaxed sense of pleasure derived in short and tasteful doses. His critical comments are meditations on what he thinks are the books that have survived through the centuries and become classics. In critical collections such as "The Uses of Literature" and "Six Memos for the Next Millennium", he displays and intellectual playfulness that is far removed from the grim formality of academic criticism.
As he says in "Uses of Literature", "Literature is like an ear that can hear things beyond the understanding of politics, an eye that can see beyond the colour-spectrum of politics". In the present collection, possibly the last posthumous one, he just evesdrops on his writers and looks under their verbal surface to both hear the voice of the solitary individualism of the writers and to discover through close looking the unique quality of their work. There is no attempt to coerce meanings or to distort them through debunking partisanship. All that he aims at and masterfully succeeds in conveying is the peculiar salience of the works in question. Their power to draw us outside ourselves in order to see patterns of vision and craftsmanship that constitute their claim to greatness.

The title essay (as well as some others in the present volume were published before in "Uses") lays down criteria that define a classic. Though he lists several, the more important are durability, re-readability, innovativeness and unmatched stylistic daring. As Calvino puts it, "a classic is one which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse about it, but which always shakes the particles off".
On this basis, you make the book your own, discovering new things every time you re-read, reading into and beyond it, as Bloom does with Shakespeare’s plays. The element of surprise that accompanies successive re-readings makes you aware of the different tonalities that generate different trains of thought and perception.
In other words, every time you read a classic, you read a new book no matter how often you have already read it. In spite of the droopy academic hatchet-men chafing under their collars, age hardly withers or custom stales the kaleidoscopic variety of a classic.
Calvino is a voluptuary of literature, but a chaste one. Not for him the eroticised play of Barthes’ jouissance. He savours his authors with a caressing concern for their inviolate individuality. In Ovid he sees many "constants" rather than simply the compulsions of male and female desire. In Homer’s "Odyssey" he discovers several stories and not just the main one of Ulysses’s departure from or return to his wife Penelope. In Ariosto’s poem, he spots the "emblem for the society of present or future readers". In Pliny he traces the difference between the poet and the philosopher and regards "Natural History" as both an etymological marvel and a poetic work whose scientific content draws upon the poet’s sense of "beauty and harmony".
In the Italian novelist Gadda, Calvino feels the outbursts of phobias and misanthrophy behind the hard carapace of courtesy and good manners. My own recent reading of this novelist does not, however, support the above reactions, and I am sorry not to see Elsa Morante, a powerful voice in modern Italian writing, in Calvino’s pantheon of Italian classics.

Though Calvino ranges through a wide swathe of writers from Dickens, Tolstoy, Stendhal, James, Conrad and many others, it is to the Italian writers that he pays his deserved fealty. Dante is the paradigmatic poet just as Gadda is the novelist who draws Calvino’s warmest affection and attention. Ovid and other classical writers in his language attract his best critical sympathies in a way that recalls Leavis’s inwardness with the English tradition, but without the latter’s vitroil and censoriousness.
"Why read the Classics" is a leisurely ramble through the enduring works of literature. It disturbs us mildly in that it makes us rethink our settled reactions to them. But it compensates us with its unusual finds and trawls of wisdom, like the plants and other fauna Calvino discovers for the first time in Pliny.
Shakespeare does not figure in Calvino’s book under review but he has written feelingly about him in "Six Memos" where he describes the Bard’s penchant for "weightless gravity" as also his "particular and existential inflection that makes it possible for his characters to distance themselves from their drama". Harold Bloom’s involvement is as a defender of the Bard against the depredations of post-modernists, new historicists, cultural critics, feminists and other flaming bands of iconoclasts.
Claiming in an earlier book "The Western Canon", that literary criticism is an "elitist phenomenon" as against cultural criticism — a "dismal social science" — he proceeds in the present book not only to rescue Shakespeare from ideological criticism of all hues, but, more to the purpose, to establish the Bard’s centrality in humanising us by inventing us as whole beings. Bloom is a messianic critic seeing in Shakespeare the essence of western culture. Avoiding Calvino’s gentlemanly engagements with literature, the proselytiser in him would nonetheless support the Italian’s concern for the classical heritage in which the Bard figures conspicuously.
Bloom disarms his interlocutors by daring them to answer the question: why must Shakespeare be the cognate one, who else is there? "Shakespear’s eminence was located in a variety of persons. No one, before or since Shakespeare, made so many separate selves," he claims. This is not the boast of a xenophobe holding out for his country’s most prominent literary icon. Nor does it connote an exaggerated sense of national prestige which the Bard embodies both in himelf and in the fact that he has become the most profitable cultural export. This is a claim put forth as a result of decades of teaching the plays and thinking about them inside and outside the classroom. Not surprisingly, though Bloom is a hard-driving quintessential academic, this book is a lucid exposition of the plays presented without the least concession to academic prudery.
Though universalism is not a fashionable word in the current critical lexicon, particularly with the post-modernists, it is on that basis alone that Bloom offers Shakespeare a pride of place in world literature. The very ubiquity of Shakespeare’s presence, "here, there, everywhere" testifies to his acceptance by the world and, I think in that sense, his universalism is more a phenomenon than a value. Not simply through performances on stage and film but, more interestingly, through parody and burlesque we have internalised him and made him coterminous with our sentient being. Bloom calls this absorption by us "invention of the human", which I understand as a capacity on the part of Shakespeare to project in his characters what is distinctive in humanity without any external trappings.

For Bloom the Bard embodies paradoxes which account for the protean quality of his character-creation. Speaking of Hamlet, he says, "Over-familiar yet always unknown, the enigma of Hamlet is the greater enigma of Shakespeare himself, a vision that is everything and nothing, a person who was (according to Borges) everyone and no one, an art so infinite that it contains us..." by suggesting the paradoxical nature of the Shakespearean plays, Bloom forestalls the possibility of reading them through the tinted glasses of ideology or any other predetermined programme. Ironically, it was Marx who felt the paradoxes in both Greek drama and Shakespeare and remained a blinker-free admirer of the playwright.
In Shakespeare, as in Jane Austen, the real world is resolutely intransigent and incapable of achieving completeness that it seemed to point to. There is in both a tough-minded realism which allows both to navigate through this world with a clearsighted acceptance of the problematic and the defective. Bloom sees this quality in Shakespeare as a response to the multiplicity of character and circumstance and credits Shakespeare with the superior faculty of embedding this multiplicity in the many dimensions of character — as he implies in his references to Lear and Hamlet.
"Hamlet ceases to represent himself and becomes something other than a single self...a universal figure and not a picnic of selves." Similarly, Lear, Macbeth, Timon (to a lesser degree) and Falstaff (that total embodiment of the sins and sincerities of which human beings are capable) become more than themselves.
Shakespeare, as Bloom concedes and as Calvino would say of all classics, achieves "secular transcendence" — a mode of being themselves and yet representative of a larger humanity. The two critics help us proceed in the direction of that keen insight. Though both books are in the nature of personal responses to great writers, they yet possess a copious comprehension which enables them to take in the judgments of other critics, so that the personal does not become merely personalised.
To modify one of the French Lords in "All is Well that Ends Well", the two between them confirm our belief in "the web of life" being a "mixed yarn" which the classic artists not only weave but also unweave for us with all its irreducible intricacy.