Sir John Falstaff, painted by Eduard von Grützner (1921)
Shakespeare pornographer, A double-bottomed theater : this book of Jean-Pierre Richard (Presses of the street of Ulm 2019), terribly inconvenient, will be able only to disturb the orthodoxes, the humanists, those who seek in the theater the crucible of "the soul of the people" (Hugo) , or who expect a high message, moralization or instruction in every sense of the word. In a nutshell, this book is like a bombshell, and I'm curious about its reception (of which I hear no echo).
My previous post is far from exhausting its resources, I would like to resume this reading with a little hindsight. Richard tells us in fact serious things, touching one of the first geniuses of humanity, not only in the theater; this book is so important indeed, it brings such material (say psychoanalysts) on the operations and tricks ofEros, of the play and the scene, of the language or the speech, of the repressed and its returns, on what one calls with Derrida the deconstruction, with Freud the work of the dream or the word of mind, with Tolstoy or Kundera the absence of ideas of the poet or the novelist, with Bakhtin the carnival, with Aragon the confusion of the sorts, the contraband or the brothel, with Wittgenstein and the pragmaticists of the speech the distinction between saying and showing … (abbreviations these comparisons which are so many openings), a material of such richness I said that we need here a little specify the or THE thing (s).
And start by astonishment: why this type of studies does it happen to us today? Despite some predecessors (quoted by Richard) who risked themselves in the troubled waters of Shakespearian pampering, I do not know that many of the consequences were drawn by the scholarsor the directors, nor that the Stratfordians have placed these recurrent and perfectly singular features at the center of their lessons. And yet! So let's go back, trying to classify.
Richard's reading of Shakespeare seems so violent or disfiguring that a first objection (made by Christine Belcikowski on this blog) is to attribute to the critic the paternity of his findings: he would practice an obsessed interpretation, he would be the "pornographer" . In the same way, Saussure was anxiously wondering before his proliferating anagrams to the point of madness, were they discovery or mere invention on his part? The objection does not hold for whoever has read this book, which brings to light a corpus, a system of equivocal terms and constantly taken from one room to another; very consciously their author arranges them and recombines them tirelessly, as if he reveled in this backdrop, or fire, capable of gnawing the superstructure of his dramas, of diverting the imagination towards the lowlands of meaning and of appall our listening, to compromise it in the hated parts of the bawdy and debauchery.
The Angelus of Millet, reworked by Dali
according to the paranoid-critical method
Where tradition saw a theater, force is to confess, with Richard, that there are two! And one should celebrate such a find: imagine that one discovers of Shakespeare a new piece, absent from the canon of the Folio of 1623, what stirring, what a crowd that would make! But it is not one but thirty or so "lineaments" that the work of the researcher-translator exudes; we had only been able to read, play or stage half of the available text, we were content with half a Shakespeare ignoring more or less its coarse double bottom, by suppressing provocations and verbal gestures worthy of Bottom , Falstaff or Caliban under love or princess games … This book marks the revenge of Bottom, either the hindquarters or the ass on the court, the triumph of Falstaff on the well-thinking, the heroes and their good ways. A grotesque backyard emerges from the shadows or backstage, a cohort of obstinate wankers calls for voice, and a few bits of role; the text yawns and stops, by puffs coming from the cloaca, to confuse the dominant speech and to smear its bearers, its actors in clowns or ribaudes; to make the priests, the princes, the preceptors, the ingenuous or the brave warriors lie by diverting their high words from the side of the mud, by drowning the loves of Antony and Cleopatra or the murder of Julius Caesar in the lazzis and the fun. "Shakespeare" in other words, to follow Richard's demonstration, would have blasphemed his own theater, compromising its majestic transcendence by dipping it half into the mud. By driving him back to the brothel.
Rome, Cloaca maxima
This does not quite destroy that, and the greasy laughter rising from the floor does not cancel scholarly listening and its sophisticated interpretations. But who listens best? Who, from scholar or the carter entered for a floor at the representation, is the best reason? "Shakespeare" divinely equalizes the audience, giving each one according to the means of his listening, the degrees of his culture or the tropisms of his imagination. Totum mundum acts histrionem He equitably pours philosophy and debauchery into his plays, a moral sense and the confusion of the senses or genres, when the big joke overflows and the obscene threatens to carry the scene into his maelstrom.
Richard quotes Tolstoy's deep joke on page 235, "Shakespeare, in fact, had nothing to say." The wise man has no idea, recalls in another context François Jullien; the playwright and the poet do not write to defend theses, they do not flatter themselves of moral intentions. They do not go anywhere, do not choose a party or a direction … But in these conditions, why write?
The answer touching "Shakespeare" can only be: to open the game. To say or show how much words we roll, lead us or dominate us; to expand their empire, the empire of meaning, on the side of the sensation always more or less repressed. Our language (punished, castrated) is built on the mourning done by any child, Infants (who does not speak) a perverse and polymorphous world where words bite, suck, copulate and fuck – as any mouth remembers! If the Shakespeare revealed by Richard offends us, it seems at the same time fair enough, judicious or juicy to place in the mouth of the actors words in all their states, like an archive of what we have inflicted discipline on the language, or of what language inflicts on us in terms of slip, equivocation or the return of the repressed.
The disorder primary opposes according to Freud to the order secondary as the disarticulated to the articulated, the illogical to the logic (of the logos), the drive to the thoughtful or the educated, etc. The primary disarticulations which, in pun or homophonie, are heard in gentle genital, or in Honorable "On her able", able to mount it, or in true, truly, truth a dance around the hole (through French), in right the rectum or the asshole, in little (suffix latin -culus) the same hole (this listening therefore borrows from Latin, a language, with French, familiar to young lawyers of Inns of court many in the garden), or in reason so many untimely erections (by equivocating on English to rise) …, it would be necessary to quote everything and that would take pages, these games thus redouble and enrich a slang sex otherwise very present and exploited without measure. Placed in the "authorized" mouths of Juliet, Brother Laurent (a mackerel that one, to hear his subtext!) Or his nurse, these incongruities trigger laughter, which is born less, as Bergson argued, of the "mechanics plated on the living" than the abyssal unevenness introduced between the utterance and the enunciation: between the impropriety (to say the least) of the uttered sounds and the intention or the role of who utters them.
"Shakespeare" therefore conceived of his theater as a fragmentation bomb; this madman of words dissected them, followed them, exploited in their (inter-linguistic) etymologies, their copulations or their secret contaminations to send them boomerang to their speakers, trapped in an obstinate and everywhere proliferating potasson sexuality, to take back to Aragon an unforgettable page of White or forgetfulness on the root of clovers … And this bacchanal of unleashed words that (Breton) make love brings to the carnival figures or postures erected on the stage: none is quite right (morally, physically), the characters lie down or dance on the edge of chaos, cloaca, brothel. Since Voltaire, we have often opposed the Shakespearean disorder to the cultivation of a Racine with language pruned like a French park; the rudeness of the first, his "manure of words" and his rude exchanges between princes and buffoons (between Hal, the future Henry V, and Falstaff the false stuff, false stuff) … we were, before reading Jean-Pierre Richard, very far from the account!
Orson Welles as Falstaff
"Shakespeare" corrupter of words? Obsessed with sex? Fourrier in counterfeit money and "verbal putness"? Or ironic deconstructor, linguist (lexicographer) and psychoanalyst, impartial explorer of low or double bottom (s)? This last word, reminds us François Jullien, as it is written with or without esse designates the back, or the resource (the fund of a library, a museum) … "The double bottom" appoints in Paris , market place Sainte-Catherine in the Marais, a magic establishment that I recommend, or occur the Duvivier father and daughter who also hold the shop formerly Mayette, 5 rue des Carmes … I love, in Paris, this the geography of conjuring, as I await at the back of the theater a return of magicians. If that of "Shakespeare" fills us, would it be by this magic of words that proliferate beyond any lexicon, that they reinvent constantly?Eros gives a tremendous energy to speech, or in general to representation.
The Double-bottom theater in Paris
But more precisely: we can not show everything in the theater. Is not the most attractive of shows that of bodies in fornication (as shown on our digital screens the undeniable success of pornography)? The say and the show so they share the scene, repressing in words an erotic that would not be figurable in the theater. But who presses and besieges it, the way the repressed sex is tormenting our minds, and seeks by any means to return. Anachronistic return (zeitlos Freud), untimely or energumen (to quote Valéry). Richard shows well this autonomy of the demon Eros who runs from stage to stage, indifferent to its explicit contents, when the highest or dramatic events (the death of Caesar, or the declaration of lovers) are parasitized or infected by the most raw pornography. As if the public, this fat perverse-polymorphous baby, was impatient on the edge of a ramp or failing to see he wanted to hear a little debauchery that offers the brothel beside, and claimed his due.
Even if one has not read this book, and one ignores almost everything of the incredible subtext exhumed by Richard, an erotic scent "pepper" or "spice", to quote it, number of seemingly chaste scenes: this theater sets a climate, undeniably erotic, captured by Ostermeier in his recent staging of The Night of Kings to the Frenchman, capable of enlisting our listening in his scabrous charm.
Cloaca maxima, Rome
Would Florio, with the predestined name, be at the origin of these words put in bunches, radiating by means of suggestive or naughty expansions, dripping with seeds, seeds or innumerable metaphors-metonymies of growth and reproduction? What about his epithet "Resolute", the resolute one, often used in this theater and that Richard, who never quotes the name of Florio, translates as "the couillu"? But what about the name "Shakespeare" that sounds like a pseudonym (spelled Shake-speare on a few first editions of his plays, with a dash that made a lot of ink flow), or to the letter the wank, the wanker of the lives? While his name, Will, connotes desire and sexual power … If the flower, the traditional emblem of the female sex, meets the spear, what fruitful copulation!
And that of suggestive deconstructions … "Shakespeare" indeed shakes the priests, the princes, the heroes, as much as those who run behind Lily, the ethereal creator of the euphuism, or cultivate Petrarch and the learned meanders of the courtly love or pastoral, ferociously mocked. This theater ceaselessly avenges us from puritans, pedagogues, and givers of lessons (Holofernes of Lost love where we saw a caricature of Florio, who gave his title to this piece) … He decapitates the ideas and the transcendences, he equalizes or returns back-to-back the religious beliefs and the free thought, the madness and the know, the up and down, the noble and the ignoble, the war and the peace – which charge directs Troilus and Cressida against the archetype of wars, that of Troy! This theater mine, as the sapper or the old mole evoked by Hamlet at the end of Act 1 (and taken over by Marx crediting Hegel), "Well dug old mole"! But Richard notes in passing that at the same time, a certain Cervantes did not do anything else with his couple Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (a species of Bottom or Falstaff), and I know what this rapprochement could entail. associations and developments on the side of Tassinari.
Another Branle-lance, by Picasso
Carnival "Shakespeare"? Clever to show us, if we listen bias speech, surprising anamorphoses, such as those studied by Baltrusaitis (quoted by Richard) …
I hear from our detractors, all this is only a dream! Yes I confess I dream, driven by "Shakespeare" or Florio I am an unrepentant dreamer …