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Allegories of the postmodern: the work of Wilfred Watson and R. Murray Schafer Haag, Stefan 1995

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ALLEGORIES OF THE POSTMODERN:THE WORK OF WILFRED WATSON AND R. 11JRRAY SCHAFERbySTEFAN HAAGM.A., The University of British Columbia, 1989A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of English)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHEAugust 1995Stefan Haag, 1995In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilmentof the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of BritishColumbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. Ifurther agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposesmay be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives.It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shallnot be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)_______________________________Department of1&.The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateLJLrDE-6 (2/88)11AbstractThe characteristic doubling of postmodernworks of art isbest seen interms of an allegorical gesturethat melancholics undertake in orderto createlife in an entity they considerdead and meaningless. Walter Benjamin hastheorized the allegorical gesture and providesa basis for extending his understanding of modern allegory to the postmodern.The postinodern can be seenas a continuum that at its two extremes veerstowards a deconstructive andareconstructive impulse, respectively. Whilethe former decentres meaning andauthority, the latter reconstructsthe two on the basis of an arbitraryallegorical construct that relies itself onaudience belief which is generatedin participatory rituals. Watsonand Schafer exemplify the interdependenciesof these two postrnodern impulsesand their emblematical qualities.Furthermore, they illustrate how melancholics viewthe world, how they imbue theirworks with a political agenda, and how theytry to indoctrinate theiraudiences. Ultimately, the allegoricalconstruct is as ideological as whatitbrutally replaces. An outward signof the violence that is at the root of theallegorical gesture can be seen in the manyacts of violence in Watson andSchafer. Watson’s project ends in ambiguitybecause he ironically subvertshis own authority so that the audience is leftmocking the allegorical “message.” Schafer, on the other hand, repressesthe challenge that this violenceposes to his allegorical construct. Althoughhe does not realize it, his workremains caught in ideology. Reconstructivepostmodernisrn, as far as itdepends on the author(ity) of allegory, isthus built on a validating act ofthe audience, which is a leap of faith rootedin ideology.Wilfred Watson R. Murray SchaferChapter 2 Visions of Beginning29Decolonizing the North: Obscuringthe Program:Schafer’s Music in the Cold Watson’s “Sermonon Bears”Chapter 3 Foundations:The Postmodern Continuum andthe Allegorical Gesture . 55TableAbstractTable of ContentsList of FiguresAcknowledgementDedicationChapter 1of ContentsPrelude:The Argument11]11111VViVii1and Biographical SketchesStefan HaagContentsAllegories of the Postinodern ivThe Village Fair as a Site forthe Construction ofGender90122142190Chapter 6 Left in a Maze234Labyrinths of Allegories: Allegoriesof Riddling:Schafer’s Labyrintheatre Watson’s RiddlesChapter 7 Coda:Reverberations272Bibliography286Chapter 4Chapter 5The Work of Wilfred Watson:Last JudgementsMeaningful ReversalsPostmodern Multi-ConsciousnessesThe Work of R. Murray Schafer:Postmodern McLuhanesque UtopianismFrom the Stage to a WildernessLake and Back Again:Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle168171Appendix Descriptions of R. MurraySchafer’s Patria Cycle . 322VList of FiguresFig. 1: Richard Rosenblum’sManscape74Fig. 2: Schafer’s “Boustrophedon”(Ariadne 17) .... 239Fig. 3: A fragmenteddelineation of Ariadne’s name(Ariadne 42-43)241Fig. 4 & 5: Labyrinths fromDicamus246 & 247Fig. 6: Overlaying of textsin Dicamus 248Fig. 7 & 8: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus249 & 250Fig. 9: Four icons fromWatson’s riddles260Fig. 10: Cryptographic privatethoughts from Ariadne262Fig. 11: The Princess of theStars on Two Jack Lake281viAcknowledgementMy greatest thanks go to my supervisor,Sherrill Grace, whose comments on my drafts were always prompt,to the point and insightful. Moreover, her genuine interest in my projectand her generosity and kindnesswere the encouragementI needed to persevere.I also would like to thank mydissertation committee, RichardCavell,Peter Löffler, and Peter Quartermain,for numerous discussionsand fortheir helpful comments on previousdrafts. Shirley Neuman and thelibrarians in Special Collectionsat the University of Alberta Library inEdmonton permitted me to do research inthe Wilfred Watson Papersas well as toquote from them. I also owe thanksto Wilfred and Sheila Watson, MurraySchafer, Diane Bessai, Thomas Peacocke, andElizabeth Beauchamp, fortimespent talking to me but also for valuable copiesof books, scores, andtypescripts. I am gratefulto Scott Taylor for many anecdotes about theWatsons and McLuhan as wellas for his hospitality during a research tripto Edmonton.Courteously, R. Murray Schafer and ShirleyNeuman (for NeWest Press)have given me permission to reproduce materialfrom books for which theyhold copyright.Finally, I have been fortunate enoughto have the wholehearted support of my parents and of my wife Hélène.To Hélène I am also grateful forreading drafts and offering suggestionsbut mostly for the ongoing dialogue. In recognition of their contribution,I happily dedicate my dissertation to my parents andto Hélène.xCCD’CDCD..CD’CDCDCD<CDCDr‘1-t CDri (‘2 CD1Chapter 1PreludeThe ArgumentThis dissertation is not about two authors but aboutal—legories of the postmodern or, more precisely, about what Iunderstand to be a continuum of the postmodern that veersatits one extreme toward a deconstructive impulse andat itsother toward a reconstructive impulse. Iuse the authors merely as case studies that shed light upon discontinuous,post-modern attempts to confront contemporary crises ofloss anddesacralizat ion.Bringing together two authors who depict two discontinuousmoments in a discontinuous postmodernity means (toa certainextent at least) accepting discontinuityas an organizing principle for this enquiry. This dissertation, then, does not aimat a tight unity because the result would be a sense of closurethat impugns the discontinuity of the postmodern.Still, formal affinities do exist between the authors.While not strong enough to provide a centre to the dissertation, they are strong enough to justify gathering the authorsin one place to be analyzed with regard to their relationstopostmodernism in general and postmodern allegory in particular.Such formal affinities are their exclusion from Canadian canonsof theatre and poetry, their use of performative media, and,Prelude Allegories ofthe Postinodern 2most importantly, their use of allegoryas their primary methodof composition.Even though at times I seem to compare the authors--animpression, imagined or real, that cannotbe avoided in a studythat of necessity must organize its material ina way thatusually indicates comparison--it is not the primaryobjectiveof this dissertation to do so. As well, thisdissertation isnot a study of influence. The authors in question,to myknowledge, have not influenced each other, and Ido not try totrace any mutual influences on them.This dissertation, furthermore, is neither an analysis ofthe authors’ entire work nor an exhaustive literary scrutiny ofselected works from a variety of angles. Rather it is a studyof selected works under specific criteria that I consider relevant to the postmodern. Hence it is a study in the history ofideas.Finally, when considering Murray Schafer’s internationalreputation as composer, readers may find it strange that I exclude his music. Nevertheless, I do so quite deliberately. Itis my contention that his Patria cycle is primarily a multimedia accomplishment (not primarily a musical accomplishment)that deserves attention from many disciplines because it comments on our cultural condition in the late twentieth century.These comments, I think, are more easily accessible through astudy that is situated somewhere between literature and theatrecriticism than in musical criticism because the latter has toPreludeAllegories of the Postmodern 3find a way of relating its semioticsto culture at large.This (necessary but difficult) harmonizationof semiotic codesseems too much of a detour for a dissertationthat in any caseis neither focussed on Schafer’s workalone, nor on Schafer asone of two authors, but on allegoriesof the postmodern.1The schism between music and culture isa result of thefact that music is a non-conceptual semioticsystem. (AsLeonard Bernstein has shown in his Charles Eliot Nortonlectures with regard to Beethoven’s SixthSymphony, the status of“program” music collapses under close scrutinyso that only“absolute” music remains [ch.21.) On the one hand, this semiotic condition of music servesas an advantage and accounts forthe special philosophical status of musicin the work of manyaestheticians (such as Eduard Hanslick, whoargued againstSchopenhauer and Wagner by maintaining an“absolute” status formusic), but, on the other, it alsocauses a deep-rooted incompatibility with other disciplines of enquiry.4Biographical SketchesWilfred Watson wasborn in England in 1911.He emigrated to Canadaat the age of fifteen.He attained his B.A. inEnglish literature fromthe University ofBritish Columbia in1943. For the remainderof the war, he served inthe Canadian navy.After the war he con—R. Murray Schafer was born in Sarnia,Ontario, in 1933. Even as a child, heshowed considerable talent in both music andthe fine arts. In his monograph devoted toSchafer, Stephen Adams speculates that theloss of sight in his right eye made himchoose a career in music rather than in thefine arts (R. Murray Schafer).However,as Adams also points out and as a cursorylook at his scores shows, not only didSchafer integrate both talents in an innovaI was born in Trier, a city founded as Augusta Treverorumby the Romans in 16 BC to supply the eastern border of theirempire, the Limes, with troops and goods. At various points inelementary and secondary school, we covered this period of thePrelude Allegories of the Postmodern Stinued his education atthe University ofToronto and received anM.A. in 1946 and a 1951. The same year,he became professor inthe Department of English at the Universityof Alberta and taughtuntil 1953 at its Calgary campus. In 1953,he moved to teach at theEdmonton campus, wherehe participated in anintellectual circle thatincluded his wife SheilaWatson, the painterNorman Yates, and thetive way, but he also developed his personalstyle of graphic illustration so much sothat his scores have been exhibited in artgalleries (6). Perhaps I can add to Adams’sspeculations by pointing out that, even inhis childhood and adolescence, Schafertriedto recover loss by opting for meaningfulalternatives which fill the void of loss.After his high-school graduation,Schafer began studying piano and compositionatthe University of Toronto, but after onlyone year he was dismissed because of tensions between him and a number of his professors. From 1956 to 1961, he travelled inEurope and studied music as an autodidact.In his first book, British Composers inInterview, which grew out of a series of interviews prepared for the CBC while he wascity’s history from various angles so that the Limes graduallyemerged as a landmark roughly synomymous with the riverRhinebeyond which there was unknown territory, inhabitedby irrational, frightful barbarians who, needless tosay, were nevercovered in the same lesson unit.Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 6Having been exposed to these sentiments day-in andday-outfor the better part of my life, I sometimes caught myselfbeingastonished that it was so easy to cross the Limes when I wentfrom Trier to, say, Frankfurt. Despite all geographicaleducation and empirical proof to the contrary, the “other”side ofactor-directors GordonPeacock and Thomas Peacocke among others. Inthe early 1960s, he cofounded the Jazz Club“Yardbird Suite” that,on occasion, served as atheatrevenue.*In1972, Watson joined theeditorial group of WhitePelican (a quarterlyreview of the arts).Sheila Watson foundedWhite Pelican in 1971in England, Schafer showed himself very intrigued by the creative process. Inthe interviews, he attempts to draw out idiosyncracies as well as similarities ofthe composers’ methods. But, as he pointsout inhis introduction, the creative processremains ultimately a ‘mystery’ that isunspeakable:It is always interesting to speak to creative artists, Interesting because it can never be entirelyrewarding, for the mystery of the creative mind cannever be fully exposed by speech alone, The precisedefinition of art lies in its being, not in its beingtalked about. Nevertheless, talking about art can bemoving and exciting, especially when one is fortunateenough to be speaking to artists about their ownwork. (British Composers 13)In Schafer’s view, art and the creative minddo not expose themselves fully in speech butonly in being, which is unspeakable.Schafer’s view of the creative act has aromantic air about it, and he has often been*bail for Two Pedestals, Chez-vousComfortable Pew, and Thing in Blackpremiered at the Yardbird Suite in 1964,1965, and 1967, respectively (Bessal,Wilfred Watson 382).Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 7and continued publishingit until1976.*Wilfred Watson retired fromthe University of Alberta in 1977 and movedin 1980 to Nanaimo wherehe lives with his wifeSheila in a house overlooking a small lagoon.Watson’s creativecareer went throughseveral periods during*The first issue was published inWinter 1971 and the last in Spring 1976(5.2), Wilfred Watson edited issues 2.4(Fall 1972) and 4,1 (Winter 1974). Theeditorial group included Sheila Watson,Stephen Scobie, Douglas Barbour, John Orrell, Norman Yates, Wilfred Watson, andDorothy Livesay, who left the group in1972,called a romantic (Adams, R. Murray Schafer31). During his stay in Europe, he alsowrote E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music, astudy inwhich he grapples with romanticism and whatit means tohim.*Schafer’s attitude towards romanticism is highly ambivalent.Noting at first that ‘one might be temptedto agree . . . that the nineteenth centuryreally did represent some pinnacle of musical expression never again to be attained,”he admits only a page later that “today manyromantic sentiments elicit self-conscious-Schafer wrote ETA. lloffmann and Nusic between 1960 and1963 but only published it in 1975. Adams comments: “The bookmay disappoint readers primarily interested in Hoffmann’stexts; Schafer translates only nine of Hoffmann’s musicalpieces, and the bulk of the volume is Schafer’s distillation ofearly romantic attitudes, Still, Schafer’s is the only book-length study in English of Roffmann’s musical romanticism (B.Murray Schafer 32),the Limes had never become quite real to me until I partookina string of events that convinced me not only of the reality ofthe other side but also of the fact that this Other is notsomuch unknown as it is repressed, in reality an integral andnecessary part of the worldview I had been taught in my youth.Prelude Allegories ofthe Postinodern 8*Watson scribbled a note onto atypescript of The Trial of Corporal Adamthat illuminates his search for aCanadian genre: “If an ethnic writer isone with a double allegiance, their runs[the performances of Corporal Adam] wasmy last ethnic production. Sometimeafter I wrote this, I wrote, ‘I shot atrumpet into my brain’, which masked mybreak with the homeland, by using a form,[which,] though not absolutely Canadian,*Schafer later devoted a choral composition to a relatedidea, namely that of the decline of the symbolic valueof themoon, listen to Epitaph for 1oonlight. In it, he mournstheloss of the noon as a symbol that humans dismantled with themoonlanding in 1969. As a text, he uses onomatopoeic words formoonlight invented by seventh-grade students in 1966, Schaferasked them to “create a more suggestive word ina private language to substitute for ‘moonlight’” (The Thinking Ear 184).He comments about Epitaph: “I doubt whether a group of youngpeople today asked to produce synonyms for moonlight could findinspiration so easy as did my young poets in 1966, The moonasa numinous and mythogenic symbol died in 1969. It is now merely a piece of property--and moonligbt will soon rhyme withneon.” And he adds melancholically, “The moon is dead, I sawher die” (221. I am quoting from Schafer’s preface toa facsimile reproduction of the score which appears on 222-27.).One spring, because unusually heavy snowfalls had occurredin the middle mountain ranges of Hunsrück and Eifel, the Rhineoverflowed its banks in Cologne, turning theoldest part oftown, the Altstadt, into a quagmire of polluted watersand mud.which he focussed ondifferent genres. Perhaps it is not wrong tointerpret his career asan ongoing search for agenre that would fulfillall of his creative ambitions. These ambitions are primarily, itseems, to create an artthat is at once Canadianandperformative.*ness and diffidence’ (E.T.A. Hoffmann 3-4).This self-consciousness is the result ofadifferent outlook on the world that he expresses poignantly: “The spectacle ofBeethoven playing C-sharp minor arpeggiosbymoonlight on the Danube is difficult tobring into view now that moonlight has beenreplaced byneon*and all the rivers areWhat added to the singularity of the event wasthe crowd ofPrelude Allegories of thePostinodern 9T.S. Eliot acceptedhis first volume ofpoetry, Friday’s Child,for Faber and Faber. Itwas published in 1955,and Watson received aCanadian Governor General’s Award for it. Hisnext volume of poetry,The Sorrowful Canadians,had to wait untilwas virtually so, the form which culminated in The Sorrowful Canadians (atson Archives, Box 6, ts., U of Alberta,Edmonton, verso of p.1),polluted” (4). Significantly,Schaferchooses to express his ambivalencetowardsromanticism by referring to the loss ofaromantic symbol, namely moonlight, andtheloss of a worldview that does not havetotake into consideration environmentalpollution. Loss, to him, is anobstacle toachieving the romanticstate of mind. Schafer thus is torn between wantingto be romantic and seeing that romanticism today isreally impossible.Early in his career, Schafer was searching for an answer to a question that keptcoming back to him. The question was “Whatis music?” Because he could not produceasatisfactory answer, he wrote letters tomany distinguished composers and scholarscontaining merely this direct question.Theseveral thousand people that gathered oneSunday afternoon onthe Hohenzollern-bridge crossing theRhine near the cathedral.The crowd was there to watch what hadhappened in the overnightbattle between city and river. Itwas a carnivalesque atmosphere that marked that crowd--”carnivalesque”in the sense ofPrelude Allegories of the Postniodern 101972.*The late 1950sand early 1960s were aperiod of reorientationduring which he shiftedhis artistic focus todrama. During histenure of a Canadian Government Overseas Fellowship in Paris, 1955-1956, he learned aboutand took an interest inone response that impressed him,influencedhim, and that he remembers vividlymore thanthirty years later was JohnCages.*Schafer has since included Cage’sdefinition inan educational tract entitled “The NewSoundscape.” Cage wrote:Nusic is sounds, sounds around us whether we’re in orout of concert halls--see Thoreau. (qtd. in TheThinking Ear 94)Cage’s definition signifies to Schaferatrend in twentieth century music to overcomemore exclusive definitions of music.Furthermore, the reference to Thoreau’sWaldenconnects this new concept of musicto environmental sounds. Enthusiastically,1993.Schafer made these comments in conversation to me inconfronting an irrational entity whose power the crowd fearedyet haughtilydefied.*This crowd was knit together intoaI choose the term carniva1esque for two reasons, On the one hand, the atmospherein Cologne, a city known world-wide for its carnival parade, is very conducive to turningcarnivalesque at a moment’s notice. While living in Cologne, I heard a fine anecdote that illustrates the carnivalesque defiance of authority: after Hitler came to power, he staged massive Nazi parades through all major cities. In Cologne, however, rumor has it thatsome* Watson, however, continued to publish poetry in journals, see bibliography. Also, the section Bawl of Wool’(first published in Poems 63-144) withits two sequences ‘poems by Jenny Blake”and “letters for the bach. of wire’ fallsstylistically at the beginning or middleof his dramatic period because they donot exhibit the ritualistic repetitionscharacteristic of the poems written after“I Shot a Trumpet into my Brain.’Prelude Allegories of the Postrnodern 11the theatre of the absurd. The followingyear, he directedJonesco’s The BaldSoprano at the University of Alberta StudioTheatre. Watson pursuedhis interest in thetheatre of the absurdwith his own short absurd play, The Whatnot,for the interfacultydrama festival at theUniversity of AlbertaStudio Theatre in November1959.**Bessai, Prairie Performance 181.The Whatnot is unpublished. The typescript is in the Watson archives, U of Al-Schafer spells out some implications ofCage’s definition:Behold the new orchestra: the sonic universe!And the new musicians: anyone and anything thatsounds! (95)Furnished with an understanding of musicalong Cagian lines, Schafer was prepared andready to direct a leading-edge enquiry intothe sounding environments of the world.In 196, Schafer became director ofthe‘World Soundscape Project” at Simon FraserUniversity in Burnaby, B.C. Here he coulddevote himself to soundscape research aswell as to his creative work which includedthe first parts of the Patriacycle.*Dur* Activities of the World Soundscape Project includeddocumentary recordings of some Vancouver sound marks (includedin The Vancouver Soundscape) and a study of five European village soundscapes. Schafer began work on Patria 1 in 1966 andfinished it in 1974. Patria 2 was finished in 1972,community by a catastropheit yet could not touch it:that occurred in plain view beneaththe crowd was on the Limes, in apeople lining the streets yelled--to the Nazis’ consternation--not “ReilRitler*but*candy,throw us candy’ (“KameHe, dunn os KameHe”) because, if there isa parade in Cologne, surely,it must be a carnival parade, and the custoM is to throw candy to the people.On the other hand, Bakhtin’s theorization of carnival providesa link between my experience and some of the works under scrutiny in my dissertation.Prelude Allegories ofthe Postinodern 12state of liminality, watching the irrationalonslaught, not ofthe barbarians on the Romans, but of nature oncivilization.Hovering in security over that spectacle, the crowdwas in between opposing forces, gaining a dizzying perspectivethat gaveway to a celebration. In that celebration,the liminal posiAs the notebooks inthe Watson Archives atthe University of Alberta show, Watsonstarted work on hisfirst major play, Cockcrow and the Gulls, in1955 and finished it in1960.*It was firstperformed at the StudioTheatre in March 1962.Watson worked closelyberta, Edmonton, Box 6, grey folder, 36pp.* Box 2 of the Watson archives contains all notebooks and folders relatedto Cockcrow and the Gulls. They aredated from this time, he realized how influentialthe surrounding soundscape was on his compositions.During his tenure at SFU, Schafer wroteThe Tuning of theWorld,*a study of sounding environments (urban, rural, and natural)that single-handedly laid the foundationsfor the new interdisciplines of “acousticecology” and “acoustic design” (205 andpassim). Schafer defines acoustic ecology as“the study of sounds in relationship to lifeandsociety(205). He maintains thatacoustic ecology cannot remain confined tothe laboratory but that it must examine onlocation the effects of the acoustic en* Schafer originally published The Tuning of the World in1977, It was reprinted in 1994 under the title The Soundscape:Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World.Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 13vironment on the creatures living in it.Only the last of four parts, “Toward Acoustic Design,” focuses on defining this newdiscipline. Acoustic ecology is the basisfor acoustic design because, Schafer argues,“only a total appreciation of theacousticenvironment can give us the resources forimproving the orchestration of the worldsoundscape” (4). In other words, first wemust determine and know what is wrong withthe current soundscape. Schafer warns:The soundscape of the world is changing, Nodern manis beginning to inhabit a world with an acoustic environment radically different from any he hashitherto known, These new sounds, which differ inquality and intensity from those of the past, havealerted many researchers to the dangers of an indiscriminate and imperialistic spread of more and_______________________larger sounds into every corner of aan’s life. Noise______pollution is now a world problem. It would seem that______________________________________the world soundscape has reached an apex of vulgarity____________________________in our time, and many experts have predicted___________universal deafness as the ultimate consequence unlesstion began crumbling and the crowd eventually crossed overintoirrationality; that is, instead of watching the spectacleof acontest between civilization and nature, the crowdderidedother people’s misfortune that was ultimately their own.with the Studio Theatrewhere Gordon Peacock andThomas Peacocke, both ofwhom were associatedwith the Department ofTheatre, brought many ofhis plays to thestage.*He also collaborated with NormanYates, a painter whotaught in the Departmentof Fine Arts and withwhom he shared an inter-*Gordon Peacock directed thepremiere of Cockcrow and the Gulls in1962, and Thomas Peacocke directed 0 HolyGhost Dip your Finger in the Blood ofCanada and Nrite I Love You in 1967 andGramsci x 3 in 1986)y605).Prelude Allegories ofthe Postniodern 14--I“Liminality” to me, then, signifies being ina positionbetween Self and Other, between reason andirrationality, between what I know and what I fear.Being in this position allows one to spy out the feared Other of irrationalitywithoutest in the theories ofMarshall McLuhan.*In the early 1960s,Watson made contact withMarshall McLuhan throughSheila Watson, who was aPh.D.-student of McLuhan’s. He was a greatbut critical admirer ofMcLuhan. Their collaboration culminated inthe study From Cliché toArchetype in which they*Yates designed the sets andcostumes for many of Watson’s plays:Cockcrow and the Gulls, Lets MurderClytemnestra According to the Principlesof Marshall McLuhan, andUp Against theWall Oedipus, to name the ifiost important(Beauchamp 38-ID).the probleffi can be brought quickly under control.(3)In this way, the ultimate consequence of thedegeneration of the soundscape is a universal loss of hearing. Schafer thinks weshould prevent that loss by striving foraesthetic standards according to which wecan evaluate the soundscape. Thesestandards, however, are not purelyaesthetic; they often veer toward thespiritual or pragmatic.A good example of these tendencies isSchafer’s discussion of silence. Arguingthat in Western societies silence has cometo signify the absence of life and is overwrought with negative connotations, hepleads for a recovery of positive silence’(258). This connotation of silence disPreludeAllegories of the Postiiiodern 15redefined both conceptsin light of McLuhan’smedia theory.In the 1970s, Watsondevoted himself almostexclusively to poetry.He published severalvolumes that featuredidiosyncratic notationmethods. In The Sorrowful Canadians, he triesto achieve a polyphonicnotation method by usingdifferent typefaces andrepetitions. Later, inI Begin With Counting,he introduces his NumberGrid Verse (NGV),aappeared from the West at aboutthe sametime as the Christian mystics (suchasMeister Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, AngeladeFoligno) died. Linking silenceto contemplation and even concentrationillustrates the interpenetration of aesthetic,spiritual and pragmatic standardsin Schafer’s approach toward acoustic design(258).Taking the soundscape of the worldas amusical composition, Schafer remarksthat‘we are simultaneously its audience,itsperformers and its composers” (205). Whilethe metaphor of “orchestrating thesoundscape” may at first appear like an urge todetermine and even control the soundscape,he qualifies this notionas follows:Acoustic design should never becoffie design controlfroa above. It is rather a aatterof the retrievalgoing all the way, that is, withoutactually crossing over intounknown territory. I suspect,however, that the dichotomyofSelf and Other is notas rigorous as I have described it although it is subjectto constant remappings onto other dichoPrelude Allegories of thePostniodern 16method of notation thatcombines numerals andwords in order to facilitate performance.After not writing forthe stage for most ofthe 1970s, he returnedto writing for the stagewith a short play, TheWoman Taken in Adultery,that was performed atthe Edmonton TheatreFringe Festival in 1987.A major play, Gramsci x3, followed in the early1980s and combines theritual repetitions ofthe early l970s with theof a significant aural culture, and that is a taskfor everyone, 26)The retrieval of a significant aural culturehas aesthetic, spiritual and pragmatic functions. It recapitulates in a nutshell thefocus of Schafer’s striving: all his talentscontribute in some way to this goal.In 1975, Schafer relinquished his position at SFU and moved to a farm near IndianRiver, Ontario. The rural soundscapechanged his music. His works have sincebecome more environmental both in the sense ofmaking natural sounds an integral part ofhis compositions and of providing his audiences with the insight that the human beingis a part and not the dominator of nature.He also has become actively involved in performances of his theatrical work that havetomies that draw their legitimacy from the original one. Yetthese mappings seem to project a repressed part of the Selfonto the outside world so that the Self can deal with arepressed part of itself as an Other in an objective way ratherPrelude Allegories ofthe Postrnodern 17NGV of the late 1970sinto a performativespectacle. Thomas Peacocke directed the playfor the Studio Theatrein 1986.In the late 1980s andearly 1990s, Watsondevoted much of his timeto preparing anthologiesof his poetry (Poems,1986), drama (Plays,1989) and short fiction(The Baie Comeau Angel,1993)earned him an international reputation as amusic-theatrical innovator. Furthermore, atthe age of sixty, he is a renowned lecturerand consultant on soundscape and environmental issues.Murray Schafer has won numerous musicalawards, the most distinguished of which wasthe first Glenn Gould prize in 1988. In1993, the first international conference onacoustic ecology took place at the BanffCentre for the Arts in honor of Schafer’ssixtieth birthday. In reference to hisground-breaking book on soundscape studies,the conference had the title The Tuning &fthe World.”than confront its own incongruencies. Furthermore, theliminalposition suspends social or rationally conditioned behavior infavor of a carnivalesque community that reacts less obedientlyto authority.Prelude Allegories of the Postt7iodern18Now I would like to note some of the parallels that existbetween Watson and Schafer and that lead to explorations ofthepostmodern. In three allegorical poems written during his period of reorientation, Watson sketches a vision ofa performative art that is specifically Canadian. Included in this vision, however, is an ironical subversion of extant myths andparadigms of creating art. This subversion is not unlike thedeconstructive impulse that in several critics’ views constitutes postmodernism.2After his tenure at the World Soundscape Project at SFU,Schafer articulated an allegorical vision of North and Northernart. This vision describes a turn towards local values andtowards ritualistic art that frequently has an environmentalagenda. Schafer’s vision, however, includes the decline ofwhat he views as “Canada and Canadian” art because of areliance on so-called universal values. The critique of theseuniversal values is also not unlike the deconstructive impulseof postmodernism.2Critics who note the deconstructive impulse of postmodernism include Linda Hutcheon (“It is difficult to separatethe politicizing impulse of postmodern art from thedeconstructing impulse of what we have labelled ‘poststructuralist’ theory” [“Postmodernism’s Ironic Paradoxes” 111-12]),Craig Owens (“The Allegorical Impulse”), and Suzi Gablik (TheReenchantment of Art).PreludeAllegories of the Postniodern 19With these visions, I argue, the authorsposition themselves at a liminal point between whatthey know and what theyfear. At this liminal point, they encounteranOther that provides access to various unspeakables.3Henceforth I will write “anOther,”not “the Other,” inorder to allow for the possibility ofother Others. Furthermore, I write “anOther” not“an Other,” to indicate the nonspecificity of this concept.Prelude Allegories ofthe Postmodern 20The Work of Wilfred WatsonI have chosen to analyze three ofWatson’s plays from the 1960s that invariably integrate versions of theLast Judgment. The Last Judgment, ofcourse, is the trial that will end alltrials. Watson employs the Last Judgment as an absolute allegory that willend all allegories because it promisesto achieve an ultimate signified,namely divine and absolute justice.If it could be achieved, this justicewould satisfy once and for all thepursuit of truth and responsibilitythat Watson is so concerned aboutthroughout his work. Nonetheless,Watson illustrates time and again theprofound injustice of Last Judgments.As a matter of course, a (divine)redemption takes place that is as unjust as the verdicts were. In thelast scenes of the plays, Watson derides the redemption and encouragesthe audience to participate in theThe Work of R. Murray SchaferAs is evident from MurraySchafer’s biographical sketch,experiences of loss havetouched him in important ways.Everywhere he turns, he experiences loss: the loss of thehuman capacity to integratemeaningful rituals in everydaylife, the loss of naturalsounds, the loss of historically human-produced sounds,the loss of the human capacityto listen properly, and theloss of the positive experience of silence are concretemanifestations of this loss.The multiple loss affects thequality of human relations tothe environment, especiallythe sounding environment.One manner of coping withloss is manifest in Schafer’sIartistic work. I argue thatPrelude Allegoriesof the Postniodern 21derision and take sides with a stancethat declares life to be an endlessstruggle without hope for Last Judgments or redemption. Constitutive ofWatson’s stance, I argue, are hisstrong Catholic beliefs in originalsin and an inescapable, collectiveguilt. The recognition that there isno redemption, that all that remainsis an endless struggle, must be devastating to the Catholic Watson. Hisrecognition is unspeakable, and hecannot re-present it but must presentit to the audience in a participatoryritual.In Gramsci x 3, Watson reinterprets Antonio Gramsci’s life in termsof the Christian Calvary. In reversing the calvary, Watson suggests thatthis ritual is interminable becauseany end is merely another beginning.Thus, Watson again confronts the audience with his unspeakable recognitionthat all that remains is an endlessstruggle.Watson’s recognition leads to amelancholy that underlies an allegorithe contemplation of lossleads him to use allegoricalmodes because they supply himwith the necessary authorityto recover the loss by reinscribing a meaningless worldwith new meaning. Moreover,the allegorical mode facilitates the integration of adidactic slant in his work.Because the destruction ofnatural habitats in the latetwentieth century occurs at astunning rate, loss toucheshis audience in a manner similar to the way it touches him.This is where the didacticslant in many of his works hasits origin: he wants to makehis audience aware of theloss, and he wants them torespond to the experience ofloss, either by following hislead or else their own intuitions.Prelude Allegories of thePostinodern 22cal gesture through which he investshis dead world with new meaning. Heuses theatre in radical ways torecover a performative paradigm thathe perceives as absent. With the term“radical,’ I want to indicate, on theone hand, Watson’s intention to returnto the “roots” of drama, namely secular and religious rituals, and on theother his idiosyncratic extension ofthe theatre of the absurd.Wilfred Watson wants to bringabout radical change from within thetheatre itself. In his view, theatremust be reinvented as a revolutionaryart form. Watson shares the McLuhanesque insight that “revolutionary”means re-inventing the wheel (Plays433); in other words, revolutions takeold forms and give them new meaning.Watson applies this general insight tothe theatre by inscribing theatre witha new meaning that he describes as“radical absurdity.” Radical absurdity, according to Watson, aids him incelebrating a postmodern freedom thatIn order to illustrate howSchafer’s allegorical methodsinfluence his environmentalartistic work, let me herebriefly analyze his composition Music for WildernessLake. In this work, Schaferpositions twelve trombonesaround a wildernesslake.*Because the idea of a conductor is anti-thetical to thepiece’s listening experience,all musicians play from fullscores. Still, the distancebetween musicians poses problems of coordination thatSchafer resolves by having araft in the centre of the lakefrom which two people coorThe CBC coaaissioned usic for WildernessLake and the Canadian troabone enseable Sonarépremiered the piece on a wilderness lake in central Ontario in September 1979, The premiere isdocumented on film (by Fichman-Sweete) and tape(by CBC Radio).PreludeAllegories of the Postinodern 23radically decenters the modern humanbeing who cultivated a unified butone-dimensional consciousnessbycreating a visually oriented culturebased on the book. Because media donot merely extend our senses (as McLuhan contends) but constitute newsenses (as Watson argues), the proliferation of mass media causes aproliferation of senses. Humans living with the postmodern, then, aremoving towards multi-consciousness.Like the new media, this state ofawareness is aurally and not visuallystructured.In Watson’s view, the theatre ofthe absurd is a step towards radicalabsurdity. In “Towards a CanadianTheatre,” he writes: “What theatre ofthe absurd is about, is the birth of anew kind of mind, through the labourpangs of the old simple-minded bookmind” (58).We can glean some characteristicsof the theatre of the absurd fromEsslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd.dinate the music with colouredflagsIn congruence with JohnCage’s non-traditional definition of music, Music for Wilderness Lake recasts our conception of music because Schafer’s insistence on site-specificity ensures that thesounds of the wilderness lakebecome part of his composition. However, in being partof the composition, thesesounds have changed theirsemiotic import because Schafer has re-inscribed them witha new (musical) meaning. Thisre-inscription exemplifies theallegorical gesture that takesoff from Schafer’s perceptionof loss, be it the loss of thehuman capacity to listen pro-* In his ‘Composer’s Notes,’ Schaferprovides an account of how the piece developed(Music for Wilderness Lake n, pag). During thepremiere, Murray Schafer and his wife Jeansemaphored the cues to the musicians,Prel odeAllegories of the Postinodern 24Esslin’s principal representatives ofthe theatre of the absurd are SamuelBeckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugene lonescoand Jean Genet. Their plays from thel950s for the most part tackle a “metaphysical anguish at the absurdity ofthe human condition” (23-24) in such away that their form, as much and evenmore than their content, presents thisanguish. Characteristic of theseplays are elementary situations withwhich the audience readily identifies.Related to this presentation is thefact that the theatre of the absurdoften reduces language to a subordinate role (395-98). Esslin specifically comments on this reduction oflanguage in order to set the theatreof the absurd off from traditional,literary theatre.Watson’s theatre provides a contrast to these characteristics. Wherethe theatre of the absurd presents elementary situations, Watson presentshighly complex and even incomprehensible settings. Furthermore, Watson’sperly to the sounds of a wilderness lake or the loss ofthese sounds themselves. Theintense melancholic contemplation of this loss has renderedthe soundscape of a wildernesslake meaningless or dead toSchafer. In an unspeakableand unheard way then, Schafer’s piece contains the verypossibility of the death of awilderness lake. By means ofhis melancholic mourning, heis recreating this soundscapein an enhanced version, as itwere, with trombones.”In order to grasp the fullimport of Schafer’s allegorical gesture in Music for Wil*The term “soundscape’ is Schafer’s. Redefines it as follows: “I call the acoustic environment the soundscape, by which I mean the total field of sounds wherever we are. It is aword derived from landscape, though, unlike it,not strictly limited to the outdoors’ (A SoundEducation 8). The term has become widely accepted and is used as a key term in musicologicaland ecological discourses to describe acousticenvironments.PreludeAllegories of the Postiodern 25settings are peopled with allegoricaland mythical characters that requireafair amount of prior knowledge tobeunderstood in the contexts Watson laysout for them. Inaccessibility, forWatson, seems to be a virtue that hetries to achieve at all cost.Watson also denounces the reduction of language as a trend he doesnot wish to emulate. In “TowardsaCanadian Theatre,” he characterizeslanguage as a mode of behavior thatslowly metamorphoses into environmental language. In his view, thetheatre must learn to speak that newlanguage and not escape it (55).Watson’s diverse experiments inthe notation of poetry betray his interest in the sounding poem where hetries to initiate a dialogue betweenthe eye and the ear of the recipient.He perceives this dialogue, which heconsiders essential to effectivepoetry, to be largely absent inpoetry. McLuhan’s media theoryprovides an explanation for this abderness Lake, it is necessaryto shift the scrutiny of thecomposition and the author’sunderlying motivations to ascrutiny of the recipients andthe composition’s effects onthem. On the one hand, therecipients become aware of theritual of going to a wilderness lake--a journey that may(depending on the remotenessof the lake) take on qualitiesof a pilgrimage. As well,coming to the shore of a wilderness lake in order tolisten to trombones playing inuncommon surroundings is aritual that turns a group ofindividuals into a communitydevoted to one activity, namely apprehending the soundscapeof a wilderness lake throughSchafer’s music. Most peoplelive in urban environments andseldom have the opportunity tolisten to a natural sound-PreludeAllegories of the Postmodern 26sence. McLuhan argues that since theinvention of the printing press wehave lived in a culture determinedbythe book and the eye. In this way,the rise of a visual cultureput anend to the aural culture of the preGutenberg era. At present, however,electro-acoustic media force us toswitch back to an aural culture,a development that leads to a predominance of orality:Empathic identification with all the oralmodes is not difficult in our century. nthe electronic age which succeeds the typographic and mechanical era of the past fivehundred years, we encounter new shapes andstructures of human interdependence andofexpression which are oral” in form evenwhen the components of the situation maybenon-verbal. (The Gutenberg Galaxy 2-3)In other words, there is a contemporary shift from a predominance ofthe eye back to the ear. Watson wantsto reflect this shift in his poetrythrough a dialogue between the eye andthe ear.In his Number Grid Verse (NGV)notation, Watson in my view aims atsuch a dialogue between eye and ear.Accordingly, he claims that in NGV,ascape, a circumstancely adds to the impactritual.By exposing the recipientsto the impending loss of anendangered soundscape (onewhich Schafer in fact perceives as already lost), hetries to foster an attitude inthe recipients that would makethem become actively involvedin attempts to preserve nature. In other words, Schaferdoes not aim at a temporarytransportation of participantsand recipients, but rather heintends a permanent transformation.*Schafer writes:Several performers assured methat the natural soundscape ofthe lake affected them and wasaffected by their playing;others said that the experienceprovokedpantheisticsensations. All agreed that theevent (unlike many traditionalI use the terms transportation” andtransformation as suggested by Richard Schechner (Between Theatre and Anthropology 4; see alsochapter five).that on-of thePreludeAllegories of tile Postnioderii 27transformation from visual to acousticspace occurs, in which the eyehas tosort words and numerals into groupsfor the ear to recognize.For thistransformation to occur, the readermust perform the NGV. Performancealso enhances the polyphonicpossibilities of multi-voiced NGVwhichstacks several voices, as in “hokkutimes three”:1 momentlymomently 1 followingfollowing 2a 2 readimix3 a3concrete-mixer 3 overreadimix 4 concrete-mixerthe 4 highover 5 the5 andlevel 5 bridgehigh 6 levelbelow 6and 6 belowbridge 7flowing 7 thethe 7 northbelow 8 belownorth 8 saskatchewansaskatchewan 8 river9 below9 river9 flowing (I Begin With Counting n. pag.)NGV illustrates Watson’s working method in that he re-invents an old form,concerts) would never beforgotten--a reaction echoed bya few visitors who accompaniedus to Wilderness Lake for thatfirst performance in September1979. (1usic for WildernessLaken. pag)A ritualistic and subtle(allegorical) instruction thusevokes in the recipients asimilar experience of loss asis at the root of Schafer’scomposition. In Patria, Schafer uses similar methodsas inMusic for Wilderness Lake inhis attempt to instruct theaudience. In the process ofexpanding the cycle from atrilogy to twelve parts, Schafer felt it necessary to introduce Patria with a separateprologue, The Princess of theStars. This prologue provokesconsiderable revaluation andrecontextualization of Patria1: The Characteristics Man.The recontextualization of TheCharacteristics Man functionsprimarily to instruct thePrelude Allegories ofthe Postinodern 28the Japanese haiku. A haiku consistsof 17 syllables; Watson’s number gridsconsist of 17 slots. These slots,however, can be left empty or filledwith words, phrases or entire sentences. Watson also preserves in NGVan overall reliance on precise sensoryimages which is a constitutive featureof the haiku.spectators on how to become acommunity, just as it tellsthe performing ensemble how tobecome a team creating “coopera,” as itwere.*Hencethe ritual as allegory becomes, by dint of its instructive slant, the allegory asritual. Schafer’s rituals,then, are contingent on hisauthority as allegorist.* The tera is Schafer’s (Patria and theTheatre of Confluence 36).29Chapter 2Visions of BeginningBefore immersing myself in theory, I wouldlike to consider briefly the worlds these twoartists have created. Idonot intend to provide full-fledgedanalyses in this chapter.As a matter of course, referencesto my theoretical apparatusare few and take the form of anoccasional foreshadowing. WhatI do intend, however, is to transportmy reader into a state ofbenign apprehension in which an intuitionalreading of the selected texts is possible. I contendthat the more Watson andSchafer tend towards the reconstructiveend of the postmoderncontinuum, the more they exhort such intuitionsfrom theiraudience.Wilfred Watson and II. Murray Schafer haveboth createdworks that seem inaccessible. Watson’spoetry and drama seem,on first sight, very abstract and notat all concerned with arecipient’s understanding of them. Schafer’sPatria, likewise,seems at first overwhelming because of its manysequels and itsuse of many different media. Nonetheless, both authorsalsowrite shorter texts that serve to mediate betweentheir idiosyncratic works and what they view and constructas larger, explanatory contexts. The “Sermon on Bears”section of Watson’sPoems and Schafer’s Music in the Cold sketch visions ofCanadaand its art that serve as programs for their allegoriesof thepostmodern.VisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 30Decolonizing the North:Schafer’s “Music in the Cold”Formally, Music in the Cold consistsof five discrete but unmarked sections.These sections present Schafer’s North(that is, his construction of what hebelieves is “North”), his views on howmodern society exploits this North, andhis projections of how this North willtake revenge on modern society and howhumans can live in harmony with thisNorth.In section I, consisting of 71lines,*he describes an art and lifestyle of the North and situates himselfas “a Northerner.” In section II, hedescribes the colonization of the Northand the foundation of “Canada,” herethought to be an economic constructfurthering the exploitation of the* I am referring to the reprint of Music in the Coldin Schafer’s On Canadian Music 64-74, cited hereafter asMIC. Section 1 is on pp. 64-66.Obscuring the Program:Watson’s “Sermon on Bears”The “Sermon on Bears”-section of Watson’s Poems includes “Laurentian Man,” “AManifesto for Beast Poetry,”and “Sermon on Bears.” Watsonfirst published these poems between 1959 andl96l.*Theyoriginate in the period ofreorientation in which Watsonstarted writing plays.In these poems, Watson relates how he views Canadianartists and audiences. Moreover, he sketches in a programmatic fashion the outlines of anew art that would redefine the* ‘Laurentian Man’ was first published inPrism 1,1 (September 1959); A Manifesto forBeast Poetry in Canadian Literature 3 (Winter1969); and ‘Sermon onBearsin Prism 2,2(Winter 1961). Throughout this chapter, 1refer to their reprint in Poems 45-58.VisionsAllegories of the Postniodern31North. This section has 40 lines(66-68). In section III, Schafer presentsa “Canada” that prospers because of theruthless pursuit of progress. Thissection is the longest and takes up 121lines (68-71). In the followingsection (IV), Schafer describes the repossession of the North by the North.This decline of “Canada” takes up55lines (71-73). In the fifth and lastsection, taking up 45 lines (73-74),Schafer sketches a new beginning forhimself and a handful of people whostay behind after the breakdown ofCanada. Sections I and V function likea frame within which we are invited tobehold the exploitation of the Northand its recovery and revenge. Thisframe is intensely personal, allegorical and utopian.Schafer, thus, provides the listenerwith his beliefs about how and why modern Canadian society violates the Northas he understands it. Moreover, hesketches an alternative life-style thatwould cease violating his North. How-relationship between artist andaudience. I see the “Sermon onBears” poems as a key to Watson’s allegorical method as heemploys it in his plays andriddles. The keynote in thisprogram is a movement frompassive observation to ritualistic, active participation.From this perspective, a melancholic Watson experiences artas dead and creates a new per-formative paradigm that quickens art again. However, Watsonis enough of a skeptic to question the probability of hisprogram. In this way, heironically subverts his programand his status as a melancholicauthor/creator.Watson’s “Laurentian Man”(Poems 47-49) recounts the history of cultural colonialism byrewriting the Judaic-Christiancreation myth. Watson glossesthe title “Laurentian Man” withVisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 32ever, I also see Music in the Coldasan introduction to Schafer’s allegorical method. From this perspective, Ibehold a melancholic author/creator whouses the (self-proclaimed) death of hisworld to shape it according to hisviews and beliefs. But let us startwith a close reading of the text.In Music in the Cold, Schafer constructs the North in contrast to theSouth:Northerngeography is all form.Southern geography is color and texture’ (MIC 65). With regard to lifestyle and energy consumption, he associates the North with conservation,while the South, in his view, is opulent. From these characteristics,Schafer expands his dichotomous notionof the North and South to the pointwhere it produces distinct and, ofcourse, dichotomous kinds of art: inthe North, he detects the “art of restraint” and in the South the “art ofexcess” (65). The former consists in“tiny events,” while the latter consists in “fat events that don’t matter”(65).a Latin phrase “Homo novissimumcanadiensis” (47), which means“the new Canadian man.” Thisfootnote adds the Latin nameofthe species much in the mannerof the scientific discourseofanthropology. The firstlineof the poem, however, alludesto the creation myth beforerepeating the technical term,so that mythical and scientificdiscourses exist ironicallyside by side: “When indefatigable God decided to make a newman, homo canadiensis” (47).This ironic tone is extended by introducing wordsthat question the creation mythand in this way subvert its authority. God is called “indefatigable” and a “pioneer ofcreation.” He has to try threetimes to make the LaurentianShield bring forth life, “of asort,” as the narrator ironically comments. Once God hasVisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 33Schafer’s construction consists of anumber of dichotomies positing Northand South as the two poles of a continuum. The assumption of sucha continuum allows him to integrate the seasons into his view of a timeless contest between North and South:Between [northern glacier and southernjungle], rolling land gasses becoae forifial inwinter and technicolor in suaer as the clawof the arctic stretches south then leaps backto escape the flatulence of the tropics, (65)This passage, then, reveals that Schafer’s North is not ‘North of 60.” Rather, his North is in his mind--it ismerely a lifestyle tenuously dependenton northern characteristics, such ascold, snow and wolves. At any rate, inthe preface to Music in the Cold, Schafer admits that his North is “in south-central Ontario near Algonquin Park”(64). To Schafer, it seems, “North”serves as a particularly apt metaphorfor depicting certain strategies ofpreserving wilderness and developinglifestyles that depend on regionalcharacteristics and do not exploitthem. As well, this metaphor tendscreated the Laurentian man, thenarrator remarks about God:“Heall but gave up the ghost,/Self-crucified in a wantonactof creation” (47). The imageof God Watson creates is quiteunlike that of the originalcreation myth. All of thesecomments make up an ironic sub-text to the retelling of thecreation myth. It is againstthis subtext that we read Watson’s description of Eve’screation and of cultural colonialism in stanzas 5 to 7.Creating an Eve for hisAdam is a quasi sexual act forGod. Brushing aside alldoubts, God creates Eve fromAdam’s backbone “as if engagedin seduction” (48). To makeAdam stand up to his Eve, Goddecides that “although she isall backbone, he must be educated” (48, emphasis in original). The ensuing colonial-VisionsAllegories of the Postrnodern 34towards dichotomizations because onceone is in the north, east and west disappear as positional markers and everyother position is south so that one’sworldview is reduced to “here’ (north)and “not-here” (south).The method underlying Schafer’s construction of the North is reminiscentof the manichean dichotomies thatcolonialism erects in order to dealwith anOther it encounters on alienterritory. Commonly, these dichotomiesacquire moral and even metaphysicalconnotations that expand into allegories. An example is racial differencein colonialdiscourses.*That Schaferin this first section of Musicin theCold uses this method with similar moral and metaphysical connotations reveals that his discourse on the Northis not yet a discourse of the North.In other words, Schafer must overcomecolonialist patterns of conceptualizingSee Abdul R. Janohamed’s “The Economy of ianicheanAllegory: The Function of Racial Difference in education presentsa bastion of male dominance. InGod’s mind, a “good foreign,European, education” consistsentirely of studying maleartists and their works: formusic, Wagner, Brahms, Beethoven; for painting, RubensandRembrandt; for literature,Rabelais and Shakespeare; fordramatic characters, JuliusCaesar and Coriolanus (48).Yet to God’s surprise and disappointment the Canadian Adamis unimpressed with these European achievements:0, this new man’s soul was cutfrom such dead granite,That, though his professors triedall their wit,God had to call them off, lestculture itself perish. (48)The interpretation of this passage seems to turn on how onereads the adjective “dead.”What does it mean that a soulis cut from dead granite’? Thefirst response would be to readVisiolls Allegoriesof the Postmodern 35the world before he can truly capturehis North.Notwithstanding the colonialistpatterns, Schafer reverses the dichotomies: it is not, as usual, the colonizer who is “good,” but the colonized.In this way, Schafer assimilates hisNorth into a morally spotless sphere ofself-discipline and necessary energyconservation, while the South emergesas a wasteful and voluptuous presence:Of necessity, conservation of energy beginsin the North.It begins with lean stoaach and strong bow.Prodigality is centred in the South, andthe waste of energy begins at the aouth. (MIC65)Furthermore, these dichotomies giverise to a consideration of the northernsoundscape and its impact on the content and form of northern art. Schaferembraces this consideration as a meansof instruction to “those accustomed tofat events that don’t matter [because]to them the winter soundscape is ‘silent’ as snow is merely ‘white’” (65).As a matter of course, the text alsoaddresses them directly, positing thatanyone who reads Music in the Cold is‘dead” as indicating “unresponsive.” However, the dead granite is merely unresponsive tothe culture with which it isconfronted, namely the importedEuropean “master” pieces. Watson goes on to show that theCanadian Adam responds to indigenous poetry. Taking Satan’s advice, God exposes Adamto Irving Layton and Louis Dudek. Watson quotes the openingline of Layton’s “The Birth ofTragedy” which touches Adam toecstacy: “And me happiest .When I compose poems” (49).Dudek proclaims triumphantlythat Adam is “the new readerpoetry requests” (49).Layton and Dudek had an almost controlling influence onthe Canadian poetry of thel940s and SOs through theirjournal First Statement(founded in the early 1940s)which in 1945 merged with an-VisionsAllegories of the Postijiodern 36in need of instruction in this matter:“The scene yp miss is the white hunterwith the white bow stalking thewhiteanimal’ (65, emphasis added).In the remainder of this first section, and with the words “I ama Northerner” (66), Schafer asserts himselfand maintains that he is partof hisNorth. He goes on to direct attentionto a particularly northern triad ofmeaning--survival, soundscape, art:With my axe I resist the environment, shapea log house, and cut firewood to warm it.The strident clap of my axe rings againstthe forest by day, and by night my fire playstunes in the stove. (66)It is from this triad, according toSchafer, that northern artists drawtheir strength. There is no waste;everything has a purpose. Even thegesture of applause has a practicalfunction besides expressing aestheticpleasure:I am the unpainted observer in a Group ofSeven painting, squatting behind the painterin the snow. I know the physical delights anddiscomforts of holding my position before theFirst Snow in Algoma or Above Lake Superior,and I know that what makes Harris or Thomsongreat painters is that they could hack it inthe bush.I slap my hands together, partly in appreciation, partly to keep warm. (66)other Montréal journal (Preview> under the title NorthernReview. Watson thusreplacesone set of “master”-poets withan indigenous one; he does notsuggest that Dorothy Livesay orP.K. Page are the new Canadianpoets. Poetry stays in therealms defined by European(masculine> modernism becauseLayton and Dudek were also influenced by European modernism,a circumstance that makes themeven less different from theirEuropean counterparts.To the narrator of “Laurentian Man,” they write poetryoverwrought with emotion andsentimentality which is communicated in too obvious a manner: Layton “sings,” “sighs”and even “semaphores” untilAdam is reduced to “a sentimental concrete windmill,” helplessly exposed to the onslaughtof Layton’s poetry and Dudek’sVisions Allegories ofthe Postinodern 37This triad--survival, soundscape, art—-is not dialectical, for dialectics isanother pattern of “universal” conceptualization that would be imposed onthe North. It is a constellation thatemerges from and re-informs the local.Moreover, none of the three terms dominates any of the others. As soon asthis constellation is transformed intoa dialectic, it is thrown off balance.In other words, if a society in northern territory violates, negates, ele—yates or hides one or more of the triadic components in favor of others,Schafer’s North becomes unbalanced. Asa result, he denounces the violatingsociety as an artificial economic construct whose only raison d’être is theexploitation of the North.In the ensuing section, depictingcolonialism and the emergence of Canadaon northern ground, Schafer describesacerbically but recognizably thehaughty colonial attitude:‘Culture,’ they explained, ‘You have none.Where you have a log house we have palaces.Where you have an axe we have grand pianos.Where you have a bog we have heated swiingpools.lecturing. This kind of indigenous poetry reduces therecipient through sentimentality to passivity, a responsediametrically opposed to thatof the performative poetry Watson calls for in “A Manifestofor Beast-Poetry.”The metaphor that controlsthe remaining poems and extendsthem into allegories is that ofthe beast and the wildness andfreedom associated with it.Beast-poetry is a new poetrythat comes from the “innerbeast’ of the poet, which is tosay from some usually, and toordinary human beings, inaccessible essence of experience.This essence of experienceemerges as a part of the Selfthat is also anOther; it isliminal, something the poetdesires but also fears. Watsondetects this essence in thesingle-minded determination toVisionsAllegories of the Postinodern 38Great art is not kept in a refrigerator.You need to mediterraneanize your existenceYou also need people. Your cities are toosmall--too out of touch. (MIC 67)For the seemingly disinterested projectof breeding culture, then, the colonialist powers send people and “knowhow.” Schafer, however, at once unveils this project as a sham, fortheunderlying motive for their friendliness is that their resources are running out:They had culture and empire.Why were they speaking to me?It seems their resources were running out.They needed resources to carry forwardtheir empires.If I would send them the resources, theywould send me ‘da people.’They did not wait for an answer. (67)Changes to the North include an increased population (“1 became we”[67],which signifies a shift in narrativeperspective) and a reliance on theworld economy. As a result, the newsociety violates one of the triadiccomponents and disrupts the triad’s internal equivalence: the market economy,which replaces survival, dominatessoundscape and art so completely thatit threatens them with extinction. Asfulfill a purpose that goeshand in hand with the reductionto a machine:The ant-eater is a machine foreating ants.The lion is a machine for eatingantelopes.The ant is a machine for eatingdead cats, etcetera etcetera.(53)Beast-poetry focuses energy onpassion; “it is the blood crying” (50). This metaphor withits connotations of primitivepassion and determination reinforces and further extends themetaphor of the beast by creating an ancestral legitimacy.One is reminded at thispoint of T.S. Eliot’s notion ofpoetic tradition and the “historical sense” which aids apoet in situating himself inpast and present alike (“Tradition” 27). Yet Watson rejectsthis kind of tradition instanzas 11 and 12. He alsogives credit to T.S. Eliot fora “wonderful beast’s nose forVisionsAllegories of the Postrnodern 39a matter of course, Canada replaces theNorth, or, more precisely, Schafer’sCanada replaces Schafer’s Northbecausethey are both his constructs.Progress, Schafer implies in Musicin the Cold, is one of the meaning-creating forces in a modern society.He links it to an economy baseduponthe expectation of unlimited growth.As a matter of course, then, theurgeto quantify “achievements is intrinsicto this society and leads to a ‘beliefin quantification as the definingcharacter of the real--a characteristic that Robert Frodeman describedasthe foundation of modern society(“Radical Environmentalism and thePolitical Roots of Postmodernism”308).Schafer takes this belief in progress to its logical extreme. Buthealso points to a necessary side effectof quantification, namely that inaworld where only numbers count,so tospeak, humaneness retreats:Everything was reckoned in billions.‘There is no difference between one and abillion,’ said the statisticians, except thedecimal point.’images.” Ultimately, however,he rejects Eliot because “hisbeast-images are screens forthought” (Poems 54).Men commonly use words forexpression or to give structureto human acts:Whether a man dancesor whether a man makes musicor whether he gestures or paintsapicture or carves sculptures(or simply is)words keep recurring, It isn’tsufficient merely to dance, thiswon’t do for a man.Re must dance a madrigal.He must caper to the words of aballad. (55)Being “the most dumbing of allhuman acts” (55), beast-poetry.however, uses words in a newway, not in order to think,speak or communicate, but tobe, as experiences in themselves:Let us understand this, thatbeast-poetry uses words in atotally new way,it uses words as experiences. Itexcludes speech.Beast-poetry is profoundly uneloquent.Words are used so as to be, not tospeak. (55)VisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 40A few individualists argued: ‘If a man hasa soul, then a billion men have 069 609 000000 1 of a soul each. That was the difference, they said.But the statisticians were counting,products and profits and immigrants.The soul went into hiding. (IIC 70)In Music in the Cold, quantificationsof progress and growth are usedto compare one person with othersand ultimately with the entire world:We began to prosper.We became richer.We became one of the richest nations in theworld.We became the most powerful nation in theworld. (68-69)Yet Schafer’s Canada is only “themostpowerful nation” with respect to thosestandards that colonialism mistakenlybelieves to be universal. Heconsidersall those values that grow out of theplace, or out of the North, tobe outof sync with the modern age and, hence,in need of being replaced. The resultis a hostile takeover, as it were.The soundscape of Canada becomesmore and more mechanical. “Fierce,noisy computers” control everything,and in the higher echelons of theadministration one can hear the‘hissingair conditioners” (70, 71). AlthoughPerhaps Watson is pointing inthis stanza at his reinterpretation of McLuhan’s mediatheory. In his view, mediadonot extend sense (as McLuhanclaimed) but they make sense.In beast-poetry, wordsdo notrepresent or express a reality,but they are a reality on theirown. As a result, beast-poetryprovides access to other modesof consciousness that juxtaposedifferent realities and aresituated in the media themselves. In McLuhan’s view,however, media extend sensefrom an inner consciousness.In his introduction toPoems, Thomas Peacocke notesthat Watson has regarded language as “a unique materialfrom which to create unique effects” (Poems xix, Peacocke isquoting From Cliché to Archetype). Peacocke suggeststhat these “unique effects”VisionsA]legories of the Postinodern 41pro-outcome about largely through per—formance:In the poems in the sorrowfulcanadians, I begin with counting,mass on cowback, and now inriddles, there is for me a performance imperative, (Poemsxviii)Seeking a vehicle to achievethat “performance imperative,”Watson turned first from themythopoeic Friday’s Child totheatre and then in the 1970swith The Sorrowful Canadiansand Number Grid Verse to per-formative poetry. In thel980s, Watson combined theatreand performative poetry in hisplay Gramsci x 3.“A Manifesto for Beast-Poetry” can be seen as Watson’sway of sketching what he istrying to achieve as a Canadianartist. His vision of beast-poetry projects an indigenousand original Canadian art formthat is best realized in performance and that has an apocathese interventions into the soundscaperepresent the final “triumph” of modern“man” over nature, they only betray thenihilistic motive of destroying thenatural soundscape by putting somethingin its place or overlaying the hi-fisounds with the lo-fi rumblings of machinery.*Furthermore, Schafer associatesgress with the attempt of shuttingthe natural soundscape while stilltaking in the visual pleasures of theoutside world: “We lived in glasshouses hundreds of feet in the air”(MIC 69). Recently, Schafer has expanded his thoughts on this moderntrend in living. In an articleentitled “The Glazed Soundscape,” hedescribes how the increased use of*I use “hi-fi’ and lo-fi to describe thesoundscape. In The Tuning of the or1d, Schafer defineshi-fi as an “abbreviation for high fidelity, that is, afavorable signal-to-noise ratio. The most general use ofthe term is in electroacoustics, Applied to soundscapestudies a hi-fi environment is one in which sounds may beheard clearly without crowding or masking,” “Lo-fi” isanabbreviation for low fidelity, that is, an unfavorablesignal-to-noise ratio. Applied to soundscape studiesa lofi environment is one in which signals are overcrowded,resulting in masking or lack of clarity (The Tuning of theld 272).Visions Allegoriesof the Postniodern 42glass in our society causes a divisionbetween “here’ and ‘there” that matchesa division between the senses. ‘Someof the glass in which we have sheathedour lives [must be] shattered” in orderto heal the division that prevents usfrom “inhabit[ing] a world in which allthe senses interact instead of beingranked in opposition” (“The GlazedSoundscape” 5).With regard to the northernsoundscape, the results are devastating. Yet modern society’s impact onthe arts is no less concrete becauseCanadians restructure their arts in imitation of those of the colonialpowers. The results are at first negligible, to say the least:We set up institutions just like theirs: artgalleries, orchestras, arts councils. We published books and made films just like them.We copied them carefully and lifelessly.They did not read our books or look at ourpaintings.We did not read our books or look at ourpaintings.Our culture products went into everybody’swaste basket. (MIC 68)Eventually, however, as Canada becomeseconomically more powerful, modernCanadian art gains international recoglyptic air about it as indicated by the reference to W.B.Yeats’s “The Second Coming”:It is excusable in a Canadian tobelieve that the great beast-poetry slouches towards Toronto tobe born. (5)In “Sermon on Bears,” thebeast metaphor is further extended but specified to the“mystery of bears . . . poetsof our wilderness” (57). Inthis poem, Watson suggests thatthe apocalypse of beast-poetrymay fail to come aboutbecausethere is neither freedom norwildness left in our “machine”(58) of living. The sanctuaries we have set aside for thepoets/bears compromise everything we cherish in them, namely“the beast we never are”(57). In this way poets/bearscould only survive if wechanged radically:let us therefore abandon .those whom we cannot save--withouta revisionof heart we obviously have no mindfor;VisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 43nition too: “Our novelists were translated into forty languages and wereread on Korean buses and in Bulgarianbarber shops” (68). Modernist high artmanifests similar claims to universality as does colonialism. But soonthereafter the lifestyle of Canadiansjeopardizes this achievement:Artists disputed over the importance of individuality.Some still painted originals, but the successful ones did everything in multiplecopies, and the really popular ones printedeverything up in lots of a billion.Artists who continued only to produceoriginals remained poor after poverty had beenabolished,It was a tricky situation.They argued that true art was labour-intensive, demanding hours of work in production and appreciation.It suddenly became clear that labour andart were correlatives. (79)In Schafer’s view, the result is thatpopular postmodern culture replaceshigh modern art. The former has theadditional advantage of fitting intothe market economy; in other words, artas entertainment turns a profit for itscreators, who manage it like a business:Let us borrow the dead word art, . anduse it to transfigure entertainment.The reason for getting into these fields is tobe financially successful. (71)knowing at the bottom of ourhearts, that with progressall poetry ends, (58)However, Watson stops shortofsuggesting how we could ‘revise’ our hearts to save thebears. This is the more damaging since Watson identifies‘progress” as the adversary ofpoetry. Hence the bears/poetsprovide access to anOther ofprogress. This Other is afreedom and wildness not foundin a progress-oriented society,which is why the bears/poetsare in a liminal position. In“Sermon on Bears,” human society is about to eradicatethose occupying that liminalposition and to lose access toanOther. The poem is a bleakwarning; a loss occurs, andWatson does not make any attempt to fill the void that theloss bestows on us all.The three allegories in the“Sermon on Bears” sectionVisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 44Once Canada reaches this point ofcultural development, Schafer mentionsthe credo of the modern world: ‘Youcan’t turn back” (72). This dictumshelters several connections to modernprogress. In his essay “A Post-Historic Primitivism,” Paul Shepardpoignantly describes some of these connections:On the one hand, Schafer gives the dicturn a somewhat more hesitant form thanShepard in saying “You can’t turn back”instead of “You can’t gç back.” On theother hand, he makes it more forcefulthan Shepard by avoiding the “physicalrationalizations” of why we cannot turnback and confronting the readers withthe eventual (and natural) decline ofCanada. In this way, Schafer forcessketch a program that I describe as follows: The Canadianpoet must try to create a per-formative paradigm to which heror his Canadian audience canactively (rather than passivelyand sentimentally) respond. Ifthis paradigm cannot beachieved, Canadians had bettergive up all efforts at creatingindigenous poetry.I think it is fair to saythat Watson intentionally obfuscates his program by meansof an ironic subtext. His intention to be enigmatic willemerge in his plays as well,where he hints at his refusalto take a stance. Watson conveys his position more directlyin an article on his collaboration with Marshall McLuhan.Apparently the two mendeveloped very differentstrategies for approachingtheir project:You can’t go back’ shelters a number ofcorollaries, Most of these are physicalrationalizations--too many people in theworld, too much commitment to technology orits social and economic systems, ethical andmoral ideas that make up civilized sensibilities, and the unwillingness of people to surrender to a less interesting, cruder, or moretoilsome life, from which time and progressdelivered us. This progress is the work oftechnology. When technology’s “side effects”are bad, progress becomes simply “change,”which is, by the same rote, “inevitable.”(42>VisionsAllegories of the ?ostmoo’ern 45his readers to “turn back,” at leastfor a moment.Schafer describes the beginning ofthe end, as it were, in terms of another ‘change” to the soundscape:A loudspeaker dangled from every laffip-postproviding a relaxed background of ‘noozie’through the streets. (MIC 71)To Schafer, this degenerated soundscapesymbolizes the ultimate decadence ofthe leisure society. When the Northassaults Canada with cold, snow, andwolves, this society cannot put up muchresistance. The people can only chooseto leave (which millions do[731)or‘to surrender to a less interesting,cruder, or more toilsome life.” Tonguein cheek, Schafer repeats the dictum ofprogress four times, as though probingit for its truth content, until he addsthe decisive and shattering tag question:You can’t turn back.You can’t turn back.You can’t turn back.You can’t turn back, can you? (72)The struggle for Canada ends significantly with the howling of wolves.Schafer then transforms this howlingMarshall McLuhan’s insistence wason the book, and getting it written, Mine, I confess, was on thedialogue, wherever it night leadus to.(MarshallMcLuhan andMulti-Consciousness” 198)To Watson, it seems, the arguments that McLuhan wanted toforeclose, write down and fixon paper were still in flux,open for discussion, which implies open for revisiontoo.*Of course, being open to ongoing revision is a stance thattakes knowledge and wisdom asconstantly changing and not inneed of definition. The ironictone of Watson’s allegoriesserves to subvert and questionany fixed stance we may want toattribute to him.At the end of the poems,the readers often return to thetitles in order to find thecrumb of illumination that theThe different approaches of McLuhan andWatson led to a number of problems in theircollaboration, see chapter 4.VisionsAllegories of the Postmodern46into numbers--not into thequantifyingnumbers of the “Canadian”age, but intothe absence of quantity:Wolves howled derisively atnight--0000 0000 0000ZeroZeroZero. (73)Out of this absence of quantitygrowsthe absence of (mechanical)noise: “Allis still” (73). In Schafer’s view,this is the perfect stillnessfor thefew people left to contemplate whatwent wrong and how to start anew.Those who stay behind “turn back”inthat they integrate into their liveselements of older, perhaps even “primitive,” societies, such as sittingaround a campfire:Around the campfire sit young men lookingforward to the future and old men looking backat the past.But the middle-aged man looks in bothdirections. That is his advantage. The lastword will be his, (73)Situated between future and past asthough undergoing a rite of passage,the middle-aged man is in a position ofliminality. He alone, Schafer claims,is capable of learning from past mis-poem itself withheld. Perhapsa reconsideration of thetitlein light of the entirepoemwill further unlock its significance. There is indeedsome merit to such reconsiderations because of the manygeneric titles in Watson’s poetry.As we shall see, these titlesmanipulate the reading processin subtle ways.A generic title describeseither form or genericcontentor both of the poem. Watsonhas assigned generic titlestomany of his poems. For example, in Friday’s Child, 13 outof 31 poems bear generictitles. Some of them describethe form of the poem(song,ballad, lines, letter); somedescribe the generic content(admiration, valediction,contempt, curse), while othersdescribe both form andgenericZeroVisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 47takes and of projecting a betterfuture.At this point, Schafer recovers the“I” that he lost to the “we” earlieron. The “middle-aged man,” the “1”andSchafer himself become indistinguishable in the conclusion of Music intheCold because the middle-aged man issurvivor, inventor (of “unknown instruments’), and artist in one person. Themiddle-aged man/”I”/Schafer seekstooccupy a liminal position becauseliminality situates him “outside” thesystem--outside any system. He recognizes what was wrong with the art ofSchafer’s Canada, but at this point heis not speaking about Canada or, forthat matter, any modern society: “Artwithin the constraints of a system ispolitical action in favour of thatsystem, regardless of content” (74).The middle-aged man/”I”/Schafer, finally, reminds us of seemingly timelessvalues. As well, he remembers a concept of time that is rooted in space orin the natural rhythms of a region:content (invocation, canticle,love song).In the “Bawl of Wool”section of Poems, which followschronologically after Friday’sChild, the generic titles areclearly dominant: 99 out of 101poems bear such titles. Allpoems in the subsection “Letters to the Bach. of Wire” appear to bear the generic title“letter” because all 34 poemshave the title “. . .to thebachelor of wire.” The 67poems in the subsection “poemsby Jenny Blake” have the following generic titles: pome(46), lines (11), poem (3),ode, song, epilogue, sonnet anddialogue (each 1).In Sorrowful Canadians &Other Poems/Les Malheureux,39 out of 47 poems bear generictitles. Watson here employsVisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 48The old technology of waste is gone.What then remains?The old virtues: harmony; the universalsoul; hard work.will live supersensitized, the antennaeof a new race,I will create a new mythology.It will take time.It will take time.There will be time. (74)In the last section of Music intheCold, Schafer continues what hebeganin the first, but with the additionalexperience of what can go wrong. Thelast and first sections serve asorientation points that help us to anchorSchafer’s vision; they constitute anunchanging frame within which someaggressive developments occur. Theircalmness contrasts with these developments. Schafer wants us to take ourtime to consider this contrast and findsome comfort in the confidence withwhich he speaks at the end. The monotonous, almost hypnotic, repetitions atthe end of Music in the Cold are hardto escape. They express the confidencethat we need to weather the new iceage” announced at the beginning.To be sure, one can explain thebreakdown of Canada on the level ofhis new?modularI*form ofcomposition in which he differentiates the components ofthe poem by using a numberoftypefaces. Frequently, suchmodules consist of a singleline alternating with othermodules of lines. Thus, themodular composition explainsthe prevalence of the title“lines,’ which occurs 32 times.Other generic titles are: poems(4), song, birthday lines andpostscript (each 1).Of the 77 poems in the NGVvolumes I Begin withCountinRand Mass on Cowback, 55 beargeneric titles. I also include“re,’ which occurs 32 times,because it aids in describingthe form (e.g. ‘re counting”)or the content of a poem (e.g.“re ducks”).* The term is Watson’s (Scobie 287).VisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 49content as the eventual and naturalbreakdown of an artificial constructthat simply does not work. However,Ithink another reading of Schafer’s vision complements the one thus far givenin that it tells us something aboutMurray Schafer the artist and hismethods of composing his works.When Music in the Cold was republished in 1984 in On Canadian Music,Schafer included a prefatory paragraphgiving some background informationonthe text. He writes:In 1974 1 moved with my wife to an abandonedfarm in south-central Ontario near AlgonquinPark. . . The natural and social environment of my life changed completely, . . Weshared the fields and forest around the housewith birds and wild animals, often not seeingpeople for days. The soundscape was ideal.The rhythms of this life were beginning to affect my musical thinking even though the influence was not yet precisely evident in theworks I was writing. Music in the Cold waswritten as a kind of manifesto in advance ofthe work I knew would follow. (MIC 64)Schafer’s depiction of Music in theCold as “a kind of manifesto” raisesseveral questions. On the one hand, itadequately pinpoints the enunciatoryqualities of the text. To the extentthat the text announces a “new mytholoThe most recent of Watson’spublished poems are the NGVriddles, which makeup the lastsection of Poems. Of the 40poems in this section 37 beargeneric titles: riddle (32),sonnet (6), haiku and re (each1)The reading process forWatson’s poetry is often circular in that it starts andends with a consideration ofthe titles. In most instances,readers expect titles to provide some indication of apoem’s form or generic content,either concretely, abstractlyor metaphorically. They turnfirst to the titles and returnto them once the poem is finished in order to probe whetherthe titles may add anotherdimension that went hithertounnoticed.Generic titles provide acontext for the readers’ exVisionsAllegories of the Postmoo’ern 50gy,” it is indeed a statement manifesting Schafer’s position on artand lifein what he believes to be North.Butenunciatory qualites are not aloneconstitutive of manifestoes. Forthisreason, one could say that Schaferwasmisguided when he called Music intheCold a manifesto.However, I contend that Schaferquestions this strong link in his text.In “Re-Introducing Canadian ‘Art oftheTheatre’: Herrman Voaden’s Manifesto,”Sherrill Grace describes the manifestoas a vehicle of “explication and asempowering act of validation” foravant-garde movements (62, n.l).ForSchafer, the manifesto gains new importance as a vehicle not of an avant-garde but of another entity. Thisentity is not in any way linked toacertain modern concept of progress asan avant-garde unavoidably is. To thecontrary, Schafer utterly discreditsprogress in the modern sense. Asaresult, it seems unfit to serve as aconcept to govern a culture, and Schapectations. It may be verybroad, as in “pome,” whichsuggests an orthographic variationof the word poem as wellas afruit of the apple family andis a reference to James Joyce’sPornes Pennyeach. ‘Tome” inthis way merely reminds thereaders that what they areabout to read is one artisticstep further away from a factual account of the subjectmatter and, metaphoricallyspeaking, has a kernel (ofmeaning> hidden inside. “Re”also evokes a broad context.As with “pome,” “re” points outthat the poem is a construct ofwords, under no circumstancesto be mistaken for an immediatedescription of the subjectmatter--Watson merely wrote it‘with regard to” some subjectmatter.Yet the context may also bemore specific, as in “riddle,’VisionsAllegories of the Postniodern 51fer insists upon a revaluationof thecentral position of progress in ourcurrent view of the world. At the sametime, he asks us to validate anattitude that would bring us “back”to nature.The work that ultimately didfollowSchafer’s move to south-central Ontarioincluded several parts of the Patriacycle which share a specific type ofallegory. Beginning with the prologueto the Patria cycle, The Princess ofthe Stars, Schafer embarks on an allegorical project that attempts to instruct the audience in a number ofrituals. What causes this willto instruct or, more pertinently, whatcauses this will to assert authority?Schafer’s desperate state of mindleads him to assert the authority ofallegory. The vision and intense contemplation of a fundamental loss generate this state of mind that is a formof melancholy. An example of loss isin The Princess of the Stars the lossof ritual in our daily lives. Music inwhich situates the recipientinthe position of the ignorantbut eager-to-learn riddlee andthe poet in the position of theknowing and eager-to-teachriddler.Two of the threepoemssketching Watson’s allegoricalprogram bear generic titles,namely “manifesto” and “sermon.” In “Re-introducingCanadian ‘Art of the Theatre’:Herman Voaden’s 1930 Manifesto,” Sherrill Grace characterizes the manifestoas toposand practice. Watson’s “Manifesto for Beast-Poetry” presents and explains his stanceon creating poetry in Canadaand is an assertion of hisposition because it sets his(coming) poetry off againstother poetry written in Canadaat this time. But it is itselfnot an example of “beast-poetry” or of the envisionedVisionsAllegories of the Postmoo’ern 52the Cold focuses on similarly fundamental losses, such as on the lossof thenatural soundscape, on the loss ofthehuman capacity to appreciate thenatural soundscape while we can, andon theloss of regional standards infavor ofuniversal ones.In Music in the Cold, Schafer givesa number of clues as to how his melancholy transforms his attitude and howBecausehe intends to redeem the loss.modern Canada in his view hasthe natural soundscape of whatsiders North, it must declinethe allegorist can start withrasa, as it were, and inscribemeaning in a new mythology.”stants of this mythology willmyth and ritual.spoiledhe con-so thata tabulahisThe con-be place,performative paradigm. Gracealso describes a strong link ofthe manifesto with an avant-garde (62, n.l). This link isproblematic in “Manifesto forBeast-Poetry” because an avant-garde defines itself throughthe new. Beast-poetry, on theother hand, is far too dependent on “passionate mindlessness” (Poems 50) and an overallregression to the beast the human animal once was. Still,Watson uses the generic titleto set a context for thereaders’ expectations. Hepartly confirms and partly rejects this context in his poem.“Sermon,” as well, sets upsuch a context. It suggestsmore of an atmosphere thanacontent: the readers expect tolisten to someone who can provide moral guidance. This atmosphere attains its full impact only after readers haveBy means of his newmythology, Schafer will enlighten andinstruct his audience on how to developbetter ways of living in harmony withnature.At this point, we gain an insightinto Schafer’s relationship with theauthority of allegory. Schafer dependsVisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 53on convincing his audience of hisauthority, which will guarantee the validity of his new mythology. He exhortshis audience to take a leap of faith.We must accept Schafer as “creator”ofa new mythology that will speak for allCanadians or Northerners. In acceptinghis authority, we all become hisbeings, constructs of his ideal world.Which is why it is not unwarranted torefer to the middle-aged man/”I”/Schafer as a trinity speaking “truth” tous. Without this leap of faith, Schafer’s art will remain ineffective andunable to build on the underlyingframework that broadens it from anaesthetic sphere into a socio-politicalsphere. It is only in the latter effort that Schafer can achieve what hecalls for with his allegorical project.Insofar, then, as it is a “kind ofmanifesto,’ Music in the Cold enunciates a program of socio-political action that, nevertheless, remains confined to a pre-paradigmatic stage whichusually defines itself in opposition toread the last words of thepoem, reconsidered the title,and realized that they arearepresentative of the “ultimatemonster” (58). That realization gives voice to Watson’sexhortation of his readers tochange their ways.It is significant that Watson gives in to two opposingimpulses: on the one hand, hedisplays the impulse to give upon the bears/poets and to prayfor their re-entry into heaven,and, on the other, he acknowledges the impulse to call forchange so that the bears/poetsmay survive. Also significantis that Watson almost stealthilyhints at the second impulse.This stealth reminds me of oneof Suzi Gablik’s assertions:Deconstructiveartistsloftenwork by stealth, assuming the posture of a sort of tricksterfigure, who is not going to get usout of the mess we are in but willengage in the only legitimatecultural practice possible for ourVisionsAllegories of the Postmodern 54the status quo (in Musicin the Coldthrough the use of manichean dichotomies) . But I also suspectthat in themore recent Patria works, Schaferbreaks through to a new paradigmofthinking which is in harmony withthenatural soundscape and in which humansrepossess a place in nature that is nota privileged place at all but merelyone that allows us to take partin whatSchafer has so fittingly described,inanother context, as the “supremeactivity called life” (The Tuningof theWorld 112).time--which is the chance,labyrinthine, manipulative play ofsigns without meaning. (TheReenchantment of Art: Reflectionson the Two Postmodernisms’ 179)It seems to me that Watson’sstealth works both ways; thatis, in the poem, it embraces adeconstructive, nihilist viewin which no change is possible,but in the space between poemand title the trickster complements the deconstructive viewand reconstructs a resistanceto the outcome projected in thepoem.The prevalence of generictitles in Watson’s poetry,then, reveals a will to controlboth readers and the readingprocess. This will to power isan integral part of Watson’swork and has its roots in hisallegorical method.35Chapter 3Foundations:The Postmodern Continuum andthe Allegorical Gesture“tier c’as Unverkoifte niclit erliofft, wiro’ das Erliofftenie erreiclien.“1(Ernst Block)“Allegories of the Postmodern”--the firstpart of my titlebrings the two terms into a relation ofderivation or reference. Hence allegories of the postmodern arenot necessarilypostmodern allegories; they can alsobe allegories about thepostmodern. I want to use the intersection ofthese conceptsas a starting point for my discussion of the postmoderncontinuum and its deconstructive and reconstructiveimpulses.On the one hand, the relation of derivation addressesallegories of the postmodern as aesthetic phenomena.In my view,the impossibility of an a-political aesthetics,however, isespecially conspicuous with regard to allegory.As I understand it, the allegorical gestureprovides allegorists withconsiderable authority because it enables themto fill whatthey consider a meaningless entity with their ownmeaning. Themeaningless entity is defenseless in regard tothe allegorists’1Except where otherwise noted, all translationsare myown, and the original passages appearin footnotes: “Whosoeverdoes not hope for the unexpected, will never attainwhat s/hehopes for.”FoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern56re-inscription that either ties the entity incomplicity to thestatus quo or engages it in redemptiveprojects of filling thevoid of a perceived loss. Bothtypes of re-inscription inflatethe allegorists’ authority beyond theentity in question andreach out to the recipient whomallegorists try to overwhelmwith their newly gainedauthority. The redemptive projectsaimat accomplishing aspects ofa process that a number of theorists have described as the “reenchantment”of the world. SuziGablik views the reenchantment of artas the constitutiveprocess of an alternative, “reconstructive”postmodernism.Once I have theorized the postmoderncontinuum, I can situateWatson and Schafer with regard todeconstructive and reconstructive postmodernism.On the other hand, the relation of referenceidentifiesthe postmodern as a broader cultural phenomenonabout which allegories of the postmodern make an allegoricalcommentary.This allegorical commentary dependson the author(ity) of allegory that may decentre the work(as deconstructive allegoriestend to do) or provide a centre to the work(as reconstructiveallegories tend to do). However, theauthority itself is contingent on being accepted by the recipient ina leap of faith.Deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernistsaffirm thisleap of faith in different ways; while the formersolipsistically claim to manifest a crisis of meaning,the latter claimto fill the void resulting from a loss of meaning.But before approaching the postmodern, I wantto outlinemy understanding of allegory. I build on WalterBenjamin’sFoundationsAllegories of the Postmodern 57theorizations of modern2 allegorybecause I contend that theprinciples he ascribes to modern allegory(loss, melancholy,reinscription, and authority) holdfor postmodern allegoryaswell.In Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, WalterBenjaminviews the allegorical gestureas based upon the emotive stateof melancholy. He describes howLutherism denied good deedsany special powers to salvage thesoul from damnation. Peoplewere thus solely dependent on their beliefin God’s grace. According to Benjamin, this rigorous moralityhad far-reachingconsequences:By denying “good deeds” the spiritualforce to workmiracles, Lutherism implemented in thepeople astrict obedience to duty but inthe great men it ledto melancholy.3The root cause of this melancholy isa loss of a belief, herethe belief in the salvation powers ofgood deeds. But the losswas not confined to theologicalmatters. Because of an underlying dark belief in fate that has itsroots in Germaniclore, that loss gradually broadened intoan existential loss ofthe belief in good deeds altogether. Asa result, human ac2“Modern” here refers not to modernism,but to modernity;that is, to the socio-cultural conditionsthat came into beingwith the Renaissance.3“Indem [das Luthertum] die besonderegeistliche Wunderwirkung [den “guten Werken”] absprach . .. hat es im Volkezwar den strengen Pflichtgehorsam angesiedelt, insemen Gro3enaber den Trübsinn” (119).FollildatiojisAllegories of the Postmodern 58tions were robbed of value andan empty, meaningless worldcameabout.The “great men” of that age felt theexistential impasseof a meaningless worldacutely. They mourned the devaluationof life:Because those [the great men]who dug deeper sawthemselves thrown into a beingfilled with ruinous,half-hearted, false actions,Life itself protestedagainst that.4Benjamin encapsulates an essentialistnotion of life in hisdescription of the allegorical gesture.It is this essentialism that makes Benjamin’s theorizationof allegory compatiblewith Gablik’s notion of reconstructivepostmodernism (see mydiscussion of Gablik below).In a gesture of protest, the “great men’s”melancholyfills a meaningless world with new meaning,so that theirmelancholy emerges as a conditionfor a certain type ofcreativity, namely an active rewritingof the world:Mourning is the mental outlookin which emotion enlivens the emptied world likea masque in order togain a riddle-like satisfaction fromgazing at it.The emotion Benjamin mentions in thispassage needs furtherreflection for it is the foundation ofthe allegorical gestureas Benjamin describes it and as I useit to describe postmodern“Denn die tiefer Schürfendensahen sich in das Daseinals in em Trümrnerfeld halber, unechterHandlungen hineingestelit. Dagegen schlug das Lebenselbst aus” (120).5“Trauer ist die Gesinnung, in derdas Gefühl die entleerte Welt maskenhaft neubelebt,urn em rätselhaftes Genügenan ihrem Anblick zu haben” (120).FoundationsAllegories of the Postiiiodern 59allegory. In a complex proposition,Benjamin suggests thatthis emotion occurs independentof the empirical subject andinstead attaches itself to themateriality of an object. Themourning intensifies the underlyingintention of this emotion:Every emotion is bound to an aprioriobject and itspresentation is its phenomenology. The theoryofmourning . . . can thus be developedonly in the inscription of the melancholist’s world. Forthe emotions, as vagueas they may appear to self-apprehension, respond in mechanical attitudesto anobjective structure of the world.. . . A mechanicalattitude that has its determinedlocation in thehierarchy of intentions and is calledemotion onlybecause this location is not the highest.Being comparable only to love among the emotions(and notlightheartedly either), the surprising persistenceofthe intention determines this location.For [mourning is] capable of a particular intensificationandcontinuous, profound thought of its intention.Profound contemplation is appropriate primarilyfor thesad person.6As a result of the intensification ofintention, the reinscription of the world appears all the moreforceful and potentiallycoercive to the recipient. These characteristicsof reinscrip—6“Jedes Gefühl ist gebunden an einen apriorischenGegenstand und dessen Darstellung ist seine Phanomenologie.DieTheorie der Trauer . . . ist demnachnur in der Beschreibungjener Welt, die unterm Blick des Melancholischensich auftut,zu entrollen. Denn die Gefühle, wie vage immer sieder Selbstwahrnehmung scheinen mogen, erwidernals motorisches Gebareneinem gegenstandlichen Aufbau der Welt. . .. Eine motorischeAttitude, die in der Hierarchie derIntentionen ihren wohlbestimmten Ort hat und Gefühl nur darumheif3t, weil es nicht derhöchste ist. Bestimmt wird er durch die erstaunlicheBeharrlichkeit der Intention, die unter denGefühlen aul3er diesemvielleicht--und das nicht spielweis--nurder Liebe eignet.Denn [Trauer ist] zur besonderen Steigerung,kontinuierlichenVertiefung ihrer Intention befähigt. Tiefsinn eignetvor allemdem Traurigen” (120).FoundatiollsAllegories of the Postniodern 60tion are contingent upon the peculiaralliance between allegoryand authority.Inscribing a dead world with newand deliberate meanings,Benjamin says, is the principal allegoricalgesture. I arguethat inscribing the world can be seenas an encoding of language in order to show that the allegoricalgesture primarilyresponds to a crisis of meaning.The metaphor of encoding is particularlyappropriate toclarify the allegorical gesture: encodingsignifies the conversion of a message from plain text into code.What allegoristsexperience as a dead world (namely,the meaninglessness of it)can be mapped onto the plain text thatis to be converted intocode. The allegorists’ inscription constitutesthe code inwhich they store the dead world. New meaning(of the inscription) and the stored plain text (of the deadworld) make up thecipher. The gaze of the melancholic authorsforces objects inthe newly inscribed world to exhibit, in a doublegesture, boththeir demise and resurrectionas signifying entities. That iswhy the manner of encoding information in allegoryis contingent upon the melancholic gaze. The allegoristscontrol thenew meaning. This meaning is anOther of theobject, and, as aconsequence, the allegorical gesture providesallegorists withprivileged access to a normally hidden knowledge.Hence theyI use meaning in a way that foreshadowsseveral connotations that Gablik assignsto the term. Meaning, to her, has aquasi-biological function in human life: withoutit, we cannotexist (see my discussion of meaningbelow).FoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 61revere the allegoricalobject, not only as an emblem of thishidden knowledge, but alsoas a store of authority.Allegory, then, can be seenas a mode of encoding languagewith another (or anOther) meaning.8It may defer meaningeither to another level of contemplationor even endlessly if theauthors choose (for whateverreasons) not to providea key atall. I understand thepostmodern primarily as a crisis ofmeaning. The deferral of meaningin allegory exhibits thiscrisis and explains the prevalenceof allegory in the post-modern.At this point, I want tobroaden my discussion of allegoryby comparing briefly Linda Hutcheon’sand Suzi Gablik’stheories of the postmodern. Hutcheon’swork is an importantstarting point for any discussion ofthe postmodern in theCanadian context, but Gablik offersa broader understandingthat I find particularly useful,especially when her theory ofthe postmodern continuum is read inconjunction with Benjamin’stheory of allegory. Benjamin and Gablikalso build theirtheories on essentialist notions withwhich Hutcheon’s positionis incompatible.At the beginning of her book on TheReenchantment of Art,Suzi Gablik admits freely that hersis not so much an“academic, scholarly work” as it isa “sustained meditation[with] a visionary bias” (1). She thensketches the coor—8This is also Angus Fletcher’s initialobservation (3).FoundationsAllegories 01’ the Postniodern 62dinates of a postmodernism that shecalls “reconstructive” andviews as diametrically opposed to“deconstructive” post-modernism. However, “diametricallyopposed” to her does notmean that the two postmodernismsare not in subtle ways contingent on each other. On the contrary,Gablik writes, ourculture reveals itself best inthe interplay of its opposingtendencies (9), which is why shestrives to construct the twopostmodernisms, not as antagonisticmovements, but as complementary components of alarger project in which many disciplines remap the modern paradigm.The term “deconstructive” postmodernismwarrantsclarification. In her use ofthe term, Gablik does not referdirectly to Jacques Derridabecause in her view, it is JeanBaudrillard who “has beenmost influential in orchestrating theart world’s whole deconstructive scenario”(31). Nonetheless,the type of poststructuralist philosophy sheholds responsiblefor the deconstructive impulsein postmodernism also revealsDerrida’s influence, especially whenshe discusses the crisisof meaning, which to her is triggeredby the deconstruction ofmeaning.In The Politics of Postmodernism, Hutcheonoutlines herunderstanding of postmodernism andits politics, but a decisivedifference between Hutcheonand Gablik is that where Gablik be-FoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 63holds “meaning,” Hutcheon sees“representation.”9 Postmodernmeaning, for Hutcheon, is always alreadyand endlessly deferredso that we can only access it throughrepresentation:What postmodern theory and practicetogether suggestis that everything always was‘cultural’ . . . thatis, always mediated by representations.(34)By deflecting the issue of meaninginto one of representation,Hutcheon says, postmodernism challengesour mimetic assumptionsabout representation. For her, the keyquestion is this:We may see, hear, feel, smell, and touchit [thereal’], but do we know it in the sensethat we givemeaning to it? (33)But her question assumes that meaningis dependent on a chainof representation that moves from the“real”1° via sensory experience and knowledge to meaning. Suzi Gablik,however, suggests another approach to meaning.“Meaning” is a key idea in the aestheticsGablik proposes.At the end of The Reenchantment of Art, Gablikexpresses herHutcheon’s approach towards meaning and representationalso explains why she only mentions Murray Schafer’s TheCharacteristics Man without alluding to the Patriacycle. Lookingat The Characteristics Man in its larger contextwithin Patriawould precisely lead to those aspects of meaningthat go beyondrepresentation, namely the participatoryrituals. Excludingthose aspects seems to be a blindspot in Hutcheon’sview of thepostmodern. For a discussion of The CharacteristicsMan andits context see ch. 5.10As Hutcheon’s quotation marks signify,the “real” itself is a doubtful category that is notfit to serve as a foundation. Nonetheless, it points to realism whichseems to bethe yardstick against which she measures everything: “Whatpostmodernism does is to denaturalizeboth realism’s transparency and modernism’s reflexive response[to realism’s transparency], while retaining (in its typically complicitouslycritical way) the historically attestedpower of both” (34).Follildations Allegoriesof tile Postniodern 64hope that her book is a firststep towards an aesthetics oreven theory of a hitherto onlymarginal movement, that of the“reenchantment” of art. She writes:My sense is that the artists in thisbook who havemoved beyond protest and oppositionalmind to embracereconciliation and positivesocial alternatives donot represent merely the response ofisolated individuals to the dead-endedness of our presentsituation. They are nota movement in a vacuum. They areprototypes who embody the nexthistorical and evolutionary stage of consciousness, in whichthe capacityto be compassionate will be central notonly to ourideals of success, but also tothe recovery of both ameaningful society and a meaningful art.(182)In this passage, Gablik summarizes keyissues of the newaesthetics she envisions. One of theseis “meaningfulness.”Gablik initiates her discussion of meaning in modernand post-modern paradigms by quoting Albert Camus, whomaintains that“the question of life’s meaning is the most urgentquestion ofall.”11 Gablik takes Camus’s dictum as evidencethat there is‘‘ Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 29. Gablikrepeatedlyrelies on Albert Camus to explain keyterms. Another exampleof this reliance on Camus is the monologicalencapsulation ofartist and observer that reconstructive postmodernismmustovercome in order to become more “dialogical”and establish a“relational dyad” of artist and audience. Herreference toCamus is as follows: “‘Art cannot bea monologue,’ Albert Camuswrote in Resistance, Rebellion and Death. ‘Contraryto thecurrent presumption, if there is any man who hasno right tosolitude it is the artist’” (Qtd. in The Reenchantmentof Art158). Gablik views Camus as a signpost of themodern aporiawith regard to existential questions. Ido not think that thewords “dialogical” and “monological” should be seenasreferences to Bakhtin because of the ethical overtones ofGablik’s argument. She clearly seeksto integrate Camus intoan ethical argument on the impact of these existentialquestions on the human condition and how we can respondto them under current circumstances. Her treatment of Camusis similarto Watson’s; see ch. 4.FoundatiojisAllegories of the Postmodern 65a “will-to-meaning” that she understandsto be a “fundamentaldrive of human life,” so much so, thata framework of meaningis an “essential biological need”for the human organism (29).According to Gablik, however,poststructuralist philosophyenacts a radical break with this driveand undermines the “verylegitimacy of meaning itself” (29).Hence, she perceives acrisis of meaning on two levels.The first level concerns the way that signsor images maybe deconstructed to destabilize thesymbolic order. In thisway, deconstructive postmodernistsquestion the union of signifier and signified, a union whichis necessary to convey aspecific meaning. She argues thatlife presents itself, in our currentsociety, as anendless accumulation of meaninglessspectacles,originating in the loss of any unifyingnarrative ofthe world. (31)As a result, postmodern works of arttend to exhibit a crisisof narrative meaning and social function. Inthe paintings ofDavid Salle for instance, Gablik says,“anything goes with anything, like a game without rules; images slidepast one another, dissociated and decontextualized, failingto link up into acoherent sequence” (30). She distinguishesthis deconstructiveworking method from that of the Surrealists,who also createddisjunctive and decontextualized imagesbut in order to sparknew and unexpected meanings. Salle’s paintings,however, perform without “expressive or manipulative intent”(30). Sheconcludes that “Salle’s images exist without anyreferent”(30).FoundationsAllegories of the Postmodern 66Deconstructive postmodernism, however,subverts meaning onyet another level that, to Gablik,represents an even greaterrisk to meaning. Shedefines this risk as follows:There is also the greaterloss of a mythic, transpersonal ground of meaning inthe way that our particular culture transmits itself.It is the spirit, or“binding power” holdingeverything together, thepattern connecting and givingsignificance to the whole,that is lacking inthe underlying picture we have ofour world. (30)Gablik describes this levelfurther with regard to differentways of looking at worksof art. On the one hand, the audienceremains passive in front ofa spectacle. This passivity, shesays,is the very opposite of wakingup, looking at eventscritically, seeing reality and feelingresponsible--that is to say, respondingto what is going on.Responsibility implies that one iscarrying out intentions, shaping the environment,influencingothers. (33)In a world determined by televisionand computer screens wherevastly different events appear ona single plane of electronicflow, we are confronted withmore and more information and lessand less meaning so that “the ‘will’to meaning often deliberately courts meaninglessnessand even finds satisfaction in it”(33-34). Gablik extends the metaphorof “courting” in terms ofa “dance” and “staying in free fall [ina] sense of dizziness”(30).12According to Gablik, then, deconstructivepostmodernism exalts in declaring its ownmeaninglessness.12She entitles her third chapter“Dancing with Baudrillard: Postmodernism and the Deconstructionof Meaning” (29-40).The expression of the “sense of dizziness”is an allusion toBaudrillard.FoundationsA]]egories of the Postniodern 67The concepts of meaning” andsuch adjectives as “meaningful” or “meaningless,” then, appearto be charged in Gablik’sprose with specific connotations.When she discusses the crisis of meaning in the modern world,she spells out this connotation. She says:[Theodor] Adorno’s meditationson the social implications of Auschwitzled him to the belief that anyidea of harmonizing withthe world, of striving forapositive or meaningful relationto it, is cheap optimism, like the happy endingin movies, obtained byrepressing the reality of radicalevil anddespair. . . . The shock administeredto modernsociety by the presence of theconcentration campsmade the notion of a benevolent, ormeaningful,universe seem naive and unrealisticforever. (31)Yet this modern view of the worldis out of focus, accordingtoGablik, because it epitomizes theCartesian philosophies that“carried us away from a sense ofwholeness by focussing only onindividual experience” (7). The modernfocus is misguided because it does not allow for a holisticvision of the world thatin Gablik’s view alone can restorethe benevolence of meaning.This benevolence of meaning is the irreduciblestarting pointof her reflections on the postmodern.As a result, Gablik persistently describes the crisis ofmeaning as a loss of meaning.“Meaning,” to her, is an inherently benevolentterm so that anycritique of meaning as such, and notmerely of a particularkind of meaning, represents a nihilist,or life-denying, gesture that can only end up in complicitywith the forces causingFoundationsAllegories of the Postniodern68modern alienation.13 At thispoint, it becomes clear thatherbook itself should be seen asa part of what she defines asreconstructive postmodernism. In myview, it is an instanceofa new intuitive theorizing that adheresnot primarily to theprinciples of logical rigourbut projects in a visionarymodeof thinking what is possiblein a world that has not givenuphope. But where does thishope come from?Gablik contends that hope is thekey issue when it comesto distinguishing the two postmodernisins.While reconstructivepostmodernists “continueto aspire to transforming our dysfunctional culture,” deconstructivepostmodernists “believe suchahope is naive or deluded” (18-19).But Gablik does not meetthe deconstructive objections to hopedirectly; rather, shepoints to the benefits of hope--providingthat hope is stillpossible.Gablik points out that there aresome artists, such asMary Beth Edelson, to whomhope is a matter of belief. Whenasked whether she felt optimisticabout our society moving inthe direction of ecologicaland cooperative stability, Edelsonreplied:It doesn’t make a differencein my behavior whetherthere is a chance that this will succeedor not. Iwill still behave as if thesegoals were a possibility, regardless of what my doubtsare. . .The opposite of not hoping is whatwe have-‘On the other hand, in ThePolitics of Postmodernism,Linda Hutcheon claims that itis one of the strengths of postmodernism to undertake precisely sucha “complicitous critique”(passim)FoundationsAllegories of the Postmodern 69extraordinarily paralyzing, cynicalalienation. Ifwe sit back and say, “Weare not going to do anythingbecause it’s useless,”obviously nothing is goingtohappen. What makes things happenis believing thatthey can happen. What some peoplecall fooling ourselves may be our onlyhope. (Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 25)Reconstructive postmodernism envisionsa social renewal that isdependent on a human effortwhich is itself motivatedby optimism.Optimism, Gablik reminds us, is theleap of faith thatWilliam James saw as rooted in lifeitself. Although Gablikdoes not provide a specific reference,I think James’s The Willto Believe corroborates her statement. Arguingagainst what hecalls “scientific absolutism,” Jamesproposes an alternativethat is able to address moral questionswhose solutions cannotwait for sensible proof. He contendsthat “the question ofhaving moral beliefsat all or not having them is decidedbyour will” (22-23). One of hisexamples is that of a man climbing in the Alps and maneuvering himselfinto a position fromwhich the only escape is bya terrible leap. If the manbelieves he can make the leap, that belief willcreate subjectiveemotions without which the successfulleap would be impossible.If, on the other hand, the man mistrustshis abilities, he willhesitate so long as to lose his confidenceand miss his leap.James concludes from this example that,the part of wisdom clearly is to believe whatonedesires; for the belief is one ofthe indispensablepreliminary conditions of the realizationof its object. There are then cases wherefaith creates itsown verification. Believe, and youshall be right,for you shall save yourself;doubt, and you shallFoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 70again be right, for you shallperish. The only difference is that to believe is greatlyto your advantage. (97)Gablik interprets the currentcrisis of meaning as havingthe same structure as James’s moralquestions. In this way,she maintains that reconstructive beliefis right and deconstructive doubt is right; the differenceis that to believe is“greatly to [our] advantage” for itopens a space where reformof aesthetic and socio-political realitiesis possible.Hutcheon, however, does notsee the current crisis ofmeaning as an ethical issue. As a result,her notion of post-modernism as instances of “complicitouscritique” cannot openaspace where reform would be possible.To her credit, she admits as much:While the postmodern has no effectivetheory ofagency that enables a move into politicalaction, itdoes work to turn its inevitableideological grounding into a site of de-naturalizingcritique. (ThePolitics of Postmodernism 3)This de-naturalizing critique makes hertheory of postmodernismcynical and hopeless because it removesthe ground on which tobuild any ethics of action. In thefollowing passage, Hutcheondescribes the de-naturalizing critiqueof postmodernism:The postmodern’s initial concern isto de—naturalizesome of the dominant features of ourway of life; topoint out that those entities that weunthinkinglyexperience as ‘natural’ (they mighteven include capitalism, patriarchy, liberal humanism)are in fact‘cultural,’ made by us, not givento us. (2)Hutcheon, of course, chooses herexamples carefully. Criticshave attacked capitalism, patriarchyand liberal humanism inrecent times so that the thought ofa de-naturalizing critiqueFoundationsAllegories of the Postiodern 71of these entities is notas far-fetched as she may wantus tobelieve (“they might eveninclude”). Furthermore, whyare only“some of the dominant featuresof our way of life” de-naturalized? Hutcheon does notsay which ones nor does she describethe criteria for selection.And what happens if thepostmodernalso de-naturalizes not only“dominant” featuresbut stillmarginal ones, such as environmentalprotection, equality forwomen and minorities? Sucha de-naturalizing critique wouldindeed throw out the baby withthe bathwater because it wouldremove the grounds on whichsuch movements as environmentalism,feminism and multi-culturalismcan take action against currentinjustices.To come back to Gablik, I stillsee a flaw in her theoryof reconstructive postmodernism. Shepoints out that there areneither prescriptions on howto achieve hope nor logicallycoherent explications ofwhere hope comes from. ThebestGablik can do is to pointto the belief that originates inaleap of faith. She does not theorizethe leap itself.Gablik’s theoretical blindspot inmy view is as serious asthat of Hutcheon, who does not admitan ethical dimension toher argument. The consequences, ofcourse, are almost diametrically opposed because Gablikends up holding a positionthat facilitates political action onethical grounds, whileHutcheon denies such action canbe taken in or with the post-modern.Often, and especially in reconstructivepostmodern allegories, I contend that thisleap of faith is contingent onaFoundationsA]]egories of the Postinodern 72desire to replace a lost object.Allegorists count on thisdesire in their audiencesto bring about a trust in theauthor(ity) of allegory. Without thistrust, these allegoricalworks remain meaningless (inGablik’s sense of the term).To Gablik, the benefitsof hope materialize most clearlywith regard to a particularrole-model of the artist that shefinds convincing. In this way, shequotes Jungian psychoanalyst Marie-Louise von Franz, whosays: “A civilization whichhas no creative people is doomed. . . . The person who isreally in touch with the future is thecreative personality”(qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 24).Gablik concludes fromthis that “those artists who arein touch with the necessarypsychological tasks of a cultureprepare the way for theculturally supported solutionto a conflict to emerge, or forthe healing of a psychological defect”(24). To Gablik, ofcourse, the modern paradigmpresents such a defect. Morespecifically, the modern defect is thatof the Cartesianseparation of the observer from the observed.It is this separation that reconstructive postmodernismattempts to overcomeby instating “a more participatory aestheticsof interconnectedness” (“The Reenchantment ofArt” 180).Gablik views the Cartesian woridviewas positing arigorous distinction betweensubject and object. Modernaesthetics sanctifies this distinctionin that it adheres tothe monologic encapsulation of authorand audience in separate,non-interactive spheres. The autonomyof modernist art furtherFoundations Allegoriesof the Postmodern 73reinforces this encapsulation because thework of art is thereto be passively observed (which is why it isbound to the issueof representation). It cannot, however, interactwith theworld it represents; it is aloof,without impact. Says Gablik:Our culture’s most cherished idearemains the aggressive insistence on freedom for itsown sake, freedomwithout praxis--the kind of freedomthat makes picking up the garbage valid as art onlyif you want to“romance” the trash (that is, use itfor an aestheticeffect), but not if you step beyondthe value vacuumto try to clean up the river.’4 (The Reenchantmentof Art 135)As soon as a project tries to havean impact within the environmental ethics Gablik describes,modern aesthetics discredits it as “work” and refusesto call it “art.”The notion of art as compassionate action dependsonshamanic consciousness that does not permitus to experiencethe world as apart from ourselves. RichardRosenbium’s Manscape sculpture, according to Gablik, upsetsthe dualism of theCartesian woridview: “The boundary betweenself and world hasbeen allowed to dissolve, and the figureof a man becomes awalking landscape” (“The Reenchantmentof Art” 185; see alsofig. 1).14The latter is a reference to an art projectof Dominique Mazeaud, who in 1987 began “The Great Cleansingof the RioGrande River” (see The Reenchantmentof Art 119-21). This project includes Mazeaud--sometimes in the companyof friends,sometimes alone--removing garbage from the RioGrande River ina ritual, occasional exhibitions of the “treasures”found thatway, and a journal that she calls “riveries.” Gablikcitesthis project as an example of “artas compassionate action.”FoundationsAllegories of the Postodern 74Fig. 1:RichardRosenbiUm.Manscape.1984-85.Photocourtesyof AddisonGa1leof AmericanArt.Andover.Massachusetts.)(“The Reenchantment” 187)FoundationsAllegories of the Postniodern 75Another instance of shamanic consciousness,this time in amodern, urban setting, is the performanceart by MierleLaderman Ukeles, artist-in--residenceat the New York CityDepartment of Sanitation. In TouchSanitation, a performancethat lasted eleven months,Ukeles shook hands with everyoneinthe Sanitation Department.Gablik claims that through this“compassionate gesture of the handwhich embodies a non-threatening openness to others,a space of enchantment isopened up, if only for a moment”(190).In another performance, Followingin Your Footsteps,Ukeles followed the workers and pantomimedtheir movements, “asa way of showing her appreciation forwhat they do, and actingas a stand-in for all the people whodo not do this work”(190). Ukeles’s two performancesallowed her to become a partof the community of sanitation workers.The parameters of herart are neither autonomy nor monologicencapsulation, butempathy and healing. Gablik comments:The image of the shaman strikesat the roots ofmodern estrangement: merging her consciousnesswiththe workers, she converses with them, learnsfromthem. There is no critical distance, no theoreticalviolence, no antagonistic imperative;but as something more than art, her work becomesan exercise inmodel-building, in the constructionof an alternativeto the professional role model. When one developsthe woridview of a shaman, one becomesa healer inall one’s activities. (191)It seems that reconstructive postmodernism,especially when itemploys rituals, obliterates the distinctionbetween theaesthetic and the social realms ofsociety. This distinction,however, only came into beingwith the advent of the CartesianFoundationsAJiegories of the Postmodern 76woridview and its division of societyinto realms of differenttasks. Obliterating this distinctionis another attack on theCartesian worldview.Gablik’s examples emphasizea consistent bi-partite traitof the reenchantment of art or ofreconstructive postmodernism:on the one hand, enchanted artchallenges the rigidity of themodern paradigm and its alienating principles,while on theother, it offers an alternative to deconstructivepostmodernism, which she sees as an extensionof modern nihilism. Socialand environmental ethics charged withresponsibility provideGablik with the basis for her conceptof reconstructive post-modernism.The aesthetics Gablik is proposingentails a movement fromobservation to participation. Observation,of course, isentangled in the issue of representation;however, Gablik neverconfronts the issue of representationdirectly. In her view,nature or the “non—cultural real”(as Hutcheon calls it [34])can be experienced in our intuitiveresponses15 to participatory rituals that partake of the newaesthetics she envisionsin opposition to the one built on Cartesiandualism.I see a relation between Gablik’sunwillingness to confront the issue of representationand her unwillingness to15These responses allude to the clusterof connotationsGablik assigns to the term “responsibility,”namely “waking up,looking at events critically, seeingreality and feelingresponsible--that is to say, respondingto what is going on.Responsibility implies that one is carryingout intentions,shaping the environment, influencingothers” (33).FoundationsAllegories of the Fostinodern 77theorize the leap of faith that is so importantto her conceptof reconstructive postmodernism.Gablik hesitates to engage inthe theoretical discussion of issueswhen she has to argue withthe claims of deconstruction. Apossible explanation for thishesitation is that such an argumentwith deconstruction wouldimpede the intuitive flow of herargument, which deals withmuch more important issues,for instance, creating a fertileground for reconstructive postmodernart in the name of environmentalism. The ethical imperativeof trying to press onwith this project leads herto neglect doing the meticulousgroundwork usually neededto make such an ambitious projectcredible. Ultimately, I think, Gablik’sblindspots are flawsin her concept of reconstructive postmodernism.Hence I amgoing to address the issue of representationin reconstructivepostmodernism in an effort to makeGablik’s theoretical basemore accountable to critical questioning.Craig Owens has described how art history,for instance,has constructed representation eitheras symbolic action (Vorstellung) or else as theatrical presentation(Darstellung). Inthe former, the image substitutes foran absent object, whilein the latter it creates the illusionof a presence of an object. Owens comments:Art historians have always locatedrepresentation interms of the poles of absence and presencewhich, asDerrida has shown, constitute the fundamentalconceptual opposition upon which Western metaphysicsisbased. (“Representation, Appropriation& Power” 13)What is needed, Owens suggests, is nota new theory of representation but a critique of it. Gablik,I think, would agreeC H-CH’H-H CC)HH’H-CDHaCDCDHH’‘-H-CDCl)CD Cl)tqCDCH’5C)HCDH- CC::HH’H-Cl)C)H’CDH- CDH’)Cl)CH-H-H- ZCC)CDCeHZH-)Cl)CDH’Cl) H-CCCl)H’ C)Cl))H-HCDH-Cl) H))CDH)Cl)HH-L)H’CH H’ CH-HH-H’ICC CD Cl)H- C CD H CD CD H CD CD CD C) 1) H CD H C HH H CD Cl) H- Cl)H- CD H H C H C Cl) H H H Cl) H’ C H H H-C H CD H- H’ Cl) H-CD H C CD H CD C) H- H’H H H- CD CD C) CD -sDCHCD‘))1))Cl)C)H’)H-))CD-sCDH’CH-H’VH-H-CDCDCDH<H-H-CDH’Cl)H-CH’CCDCCDH-CDCl)Cl)CDH’H’<<H-Cl)CDCl)5C)<CDZH-Cl)H-HCDD.CD“sH-C-3C)ZCD-sCl))H-CD&)H-H’H’H.H-<H-C’H-Cl)Cl)H-C.HH-CH->H-1CH-C)H’H-CDHCCDH’H-ZCDH-C)CDCD)ZCDH-H-H-Cl))CCC)CH-CDH-CDC)Cl)C)Cl))H-CD)“)sC’CCDHH-C“H’))CDH’H-H-H-H’H-H-1H-r+Cl)CCCl))H’C)HCDC)1H-HCDCl))H-Z)CDCDVH-C.)<Cl)1H-H-CDH-Cl)-sCDC))‘sCDCD-H’H-)CDC)‘sH-)H-C)CDH-H-CH-ZCDH-IH-CCH’)‘sCC)CC.CC)H’H-H-CCDH•))CDH-CDH)CDH-C))CDI-H-Cl)CqH-CH-C)ZCDCDVH’)C<C’H-)H-CD.H-Cl)H-H-H-S—’H-H’)CCl))H-H-H-H’VCH-H’CDCH-H-‘sC’CDCDC)CDH->CH-CC)CCDCDH.H-CD’sXCH’H-VCDCl)))CH-H’H-Cl)<Cl))H-Cl)CH’ICDCDH-H-Cl)))Cl)Cl)H-H’C1)-CD-5)Cl))CDCH-Cl)i)<Cl)CH-H-H’1H-)H.H•CD)-+H-)CDH-H-CD<CDCDC’C)H)H’l)C-CD“sH’H’))H-H-C’H’Cl)H--H-Cl)CH•CD)Vr+C.H’CCH-Cl)C)CDC<C)CCD0H-)5H-CH-‘sH-H-’><H-CDCH’))H’CCCD‘5Ve<C)-)CQCH-H—CDH’CCl)<CDVCC)Cl)CD‘CDZH’C0CH-CDCD‘sCDCCDCl)‘Cl))CCDCD5CDHCl)CDCD)H-HH-H-5H-CDH-H-)CDH’CDCDC)-VC)Cl)C’-s0CCVHC’CDH-H’)H-H’C‘5H-H-CCD0C)CDCCCVH-e<H-H-CDH-CDH-C.H-CDV-sCDH’CCH-Cl)H’l)CC)-sC*CH-IH-)Cl)H--5CDCl)Cl)-5CCDCDCDH---.ZCCDCD)Cl)H-<Cl))CD=H-VH-HCDC)H-Ci)CDCDH’H--5)‘1‘ZO0VH’-sCl)H-CD)CDH-—s)l)0.C(DC,)H-e<H’))CD)Cl)HCl)H’CDCDC’CH-H’)CDCH-H-H-CC’CDC‘0H-C)CDVCDi)Cl)H-CDH-CCCDCDH-H-CDH-H-H-CCl)H-CD)CDH-‘H-C‘CD)))VCl)))CDH-C)H’H--CCH-H-H-)H’’sH-H-H-H-CH’CDCDH’C.H-Cl).))H’<C<C-sCDCCCH-VCDH-Cl)H-CDIC’)CCDH’H-CCDi)H’)-CCDICl)H-FouiidationsAllegories of the Postmodern 79ness). The author(ity) of allegory,for these reasons, warrants closer scrutiny.The allegorist’s will isa will to create, thus a willtopower. This will can be situatedat the intersection ofa past(and now lost) significance anda new, deliberately assignedmeaning for the object. Theallegorist’s melancholicdisposition provides access to tracesof this lost significanceaswell as to the reinscriptionof meaning. Melancholy,thus,functions as the origin ofthe allegorist’s will to power. Itis here, in the will to power,that we can trace differencesand similarities between premodernallegory, modern symbolism,and postmodern allegory.Allegory and symbolism are the primary modes of representation in theseeras, although Gablikcontends that postmodern allegory,in its reconstructive dimension, goes beyond representation.A profound difference between premodernand postmodern allegory is that in the MiddleAges, authors, or more accuratelyauctores,’6would situate their worksin a tradition that established the founding rulesand principles for the disciplinesof learning. In other words, the auctorescould refer to asystem of certitude that was outsidetheir work and to whose16“The word ‘author’ derives fromthe medieval term auctor, which denoted a writerwhose words commanded respect andbelief. . . . Over the centuries thecontinued authority of[the auctores] derived frommedieval scribes’ ability to interpret, explain, and in most cases resolvehistorical problems byrestating these problems interms sanctioned by auctores”(Pease 106).FoundationsAllegories of the Postmodern 80authority their work wouldcontribute by subsuminga personalevent into the realm of theauthority:The continued authority tomake events meaningful incustomary or traditional waysprovided all the evidence necessary to sustainthe auctores’ power. .The relationship betweenthese authoritative booksand the everyday world wasprimarily an allegoricalone. (Pease 106)Postmodern allegorists cannotassume similar systems ofcertitude outside of theirwork because, as Max Oelschlaegerpoints out,historically considered,certainty has been foundinGod (religion), in phenomenologicalexperience(phenomenology), in empiricalobservation (naturaland social sciences), andin the beliefs of commonsense. But today, becauseof the irreducibly textualcharacter of our beliefs,all arenas of certainty arein question. In other words, recognitionthat language plays a central role in allknowledge andthought, indeed, in cultureand therefore life, hasalso called into question claimsto absolutecertitude. (The Idea of Wilderness325)The result of this “textualcharacter of our beliefs” isarelativism that violates thekey concepts of the premodernandmodern paradigms, namely religiousand objective truth respectively. To reinforce orto overcome this relativism meanstocelebrate or to go beyond the postmoderncrisis of meaning.Deconstructive postmodernismgives in to that relativismandmaintains that any notion of beliefthat goes beyond a purelytextual character is illusory.Reconstructive postmodernism,on the other hand, resists that relativismnot by recovering alost concept of truth or certitudebut by creating a newcertainty. This certainty reliesas much on the subjective“truth” of the allegorist, consistingof a mixture of experiFoundationsAllegories of the Postaiodern81ences, research, and beliefs, as on theauthority of allegoryto inscribe that truth on the dead object.Reconstructive postmodern andpremodern allegories aresimilar in that they are both basedon the organizing principleof correspondence. With the discoveryof the “New” world, theauctores could no longer subsume alleveryday events under theauthority of the traditional booksbecause the accounts of theNew World had to reactto a difference from and no longerto acorrespondence with the authoritativebooks that were based onEurocentric experiences that couldnot account for those oftheAmericas. As a result, the auctorexperienced the loss of hiscultural authority and authors “declaredtheir right to be represented on their own terms rather thanin the words of theancient books” (107-08). The point isthat the authors of theRenaissance and with them the explorers,colonizers, merchants,et al. needed a more direct methodof representation than theindirect encodings of allegory inorder to recognize what wasnew and different about the New World.They found it in symbolism, whose advantage over allegorywas its immediacy (as theRomantics later argued) that manifesteditself in a “naturalbond” of signifier and signified(as Saussure maintained’7).17Saussure substituted the sign for thesymbol because“one characteristic of the symbol isthat it is never whollyarbitrary; it is not empty, for thereis the rudiment of a natural bond between the signifier and thesignified” (Course inGeneral Linguistics 68). Arbitrariness,to Saussure, was thebenchmark of the sign: “The term [“arbitrary”]should not implythat the choice of the signifier isleft entirely to thespeaker . .. ; I mean that it is unmotivated, i.e. arbitraryin that it actually has no naturalconnection with the signified” (69).FoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 82By acknowledging freely its politicalunderpinnings inecology, reconstructive postmodernallegory relies on correspondence with environmental andsocial practices that weused to follow and that were less hazardousto nature and ourselves rather than difference to morerecent practices thathave brought us to the brink of extinctionon more than onelevel of being. The willto power in reconstructive postmodernallegory overcomes the modern paradigmof thinking in differences by establishinga correspondence of dead object withanew, deliberately assigned meaning.That this new meaning appropriates, even violates, the deadobject is an indication ofthe potential coercivenessof the allegorical gesture.What is at issue when we talkabout the author/ity of allegory is not only the coercion ofthe object into signifyingand thus revealing anOther, but alsothe potential coercion ofthe recipient into reading the textin a certain way.By providing access to a lost entity,reconstructive post-modern allegory reveals a nothingnessand leads to the implementation of a didactic effort thatis as much the author’sasit is the text’s. In medieval allegory,the revelation was inthe books of the auctores and theirtradition. In postmodernallegories, the revelation is in the“intratextuality” betweenindividual sequels of trilogies orcycles.’8 This in18I think the term “intratextuality” iswarranted by theinternal relations in multi-sequelworks where the individualinstalments are autonomous but gainin meaning if the recipientknows the larger context ofthe cycle.FoundationsAllegories of the Postniodern 83tratextuality invites the recipientto pursue textual relationsbetween the sequels either inthe form of leitmotivesor in theform of shared structures, themes,images, or signs.’9 Theseworks tend to branch out into systemsof texts that include notonly the allegorist’s artisticworks but also his scientificand personal writings.These allegorical systems, however,differ in deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernismwith regard to the structure of authority. In deconstructiveallegory, the code of authority is centrifugal; thatis, it does not provide theobjectwith a meaningful centreso that the recipient is leftwithoutthe means to engage ina meaningful reading. As argued above,we end up with a play of signifierswithout signifieds. Inreconstructive allegory, on the otherhand, the code of authority is centripetal in thatit focuses the recipient’s energyonthe author who acts as a mediator betweentext and reader. Bymeans of didacticism, the allegoristseeks to make the recipient supply an ultimatesignified in a leap of faith, whichtothe allegorist is the successful outcomeof the allegoricalritual and an expression ofthe underlying ideology ofallegory, which strives to reinstatethe author in a position ofpower. In their respectiveroles as shaman and initiate,reconstructive allegorist and recipientthen share an ideology19Examples of such multi-sequel worksare Glenn Gould’s“Solitude Trilogy” and RobertWilson’s Civil WarS.FoundationsAllegories of the Postmodern 84that may encourage actionsthat are in line with theallegorist’s underlying programand go beyond the frameworkofthe work of art, such as changes inconvictions held andevenchanges in life-styles.In “The Will to Allegoryin Postmodernism,” Paul Smithcriticizes the reinstatementof authority in postmodernallegory. In his view, Benjamin’sdialectical view ofsymbolismand allegory does not do justiceto the epistemological commitment that both modes ofsignification make to somenotion offixed truth and value,a natural truth for symbolism and aconventional one for allegory (106). Whatis important in allegory throughout theages, Smith contends, is the authorityofthe truth and not the truthitself:[The strategies of allegorythat Benjamin describes]construct no intersubjectivefaith in the value ofthe real, but rather they proposea reliable (thougharbitrary) typological authority.Such an authority--all that is ever reallyessential to allegory--isthe fixed stay of allegory’sdiscourse: a fixity ofits underlying referenceis vital for its accuratefunctioning. (107)Smith is correct in maintainingthat allegory does not construct intersubjective faith;nonetheless, it is possiblethatthe recipient accepts the author/ityof allegory in a leap offaith.Smith goes on to describea development in the history ofallegory. After the declineof the “shared referential,metasemantic system” of medievalallegory, modernist allegoryimposes upon the readersome specific directive toconstruct orinvent such a system in theact of reading itself. Thegoal ofFoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 85modernist allegory toforeground the reader can be seen,according to Smith, as one of thegoals in modernism, namelytoeliminate the traditionalauthor/recipient hierarchies.Smith’s examples for such modernistgoals are “Mallarmé’selocutionary disappearance ofthe author, or Flaubert’sperfectwork on the subject of nothingat all” (118). Recognizing thatmodernism could never have achievedthese goals, the era ofpostmodernism declaresthese modernist goals illusoryandargues that they may “bestbe conceived as a simple reactiontothose modernist aims” (118).As I have explained above, theallegorist’s melancholicgaze appropriates objects by inscribingthem with a new meaning. This gesture, the principalallegorical gesture, marksadesire for authority, offeringits new meaning “as always ‘moretrue’ than that which it replaces”(115). Because postmodernallegory, however, cannot claimaccess to a shared referentialsystem, the allegorist “arrogatesto himself a power that immediately exposes neither itsown tenets, nor the actual‘truth’ of its bans” (115):The allegorist’s work is placed,then, in order tointerpellate the reader, who knowsthat some power isat work but with a veil before it,and that the discovery of its tenets demandshis compliance. Thisonerous role given to the reader inpostmodernism iscrucial because it is necessaryto the allegorist’spower that it be furnishedwith an audience willingto realize the devastation of the oldregime--withoutnecessarily understandingthe nature of the new replacement. Thus, truth and the exerciseof powerretain their mystique in contemporaryallegory, andthe traditional author/readerhierarchy undergoes apeculiarly new reinforcement. (115)FoufidationsAllegories of the Postniodern86What Smith describes as “compliance,”I call a leap of faith.Both appelations hintat the coercive potential ofpostmodernallegory once its author/ityhas been accepted.The allegorical textbears in it a memory of themeaningit pretends to devastate.To Smith, this isa serious fraudbecause the allegorical textsuggests that its new meaningisthe only possible one. Smithconcludes:The methodology of postmodernallegory thus consistsultimately in a purblind andvain gesture of will,inscribing itself ina dialectic with previous modesbut still operating on thesame level of ideologicalcontrol. (115)Yet the memory inherentto allegory can also be seenin anotherlight.American poet James Applewhiteintervenes in the debate onpostmodern allegory with hisarticle “Postmodernist Allegoryand the Denial of Nature.”He proposes a classificationof thepostmodern similar to Suzi Gablik’s.On the one hand, heargues that the postmodern deniesnature and replaces therealwith representationsof the real. Accordingto Applewhite,critics who describe the postmodernin this way are JeanBaudrillard and CraigOwens.2° On the other hand,Applewhiteis happy to report a currenttrend in all domains ofart andculture that subverts the denialof nature in postmodern allegory. Although Applewhitedoes not name that trend, hedescribes it as follows (I quoteat length to provide a senseof20It is safe to include Hutcheonin this list because shealso denies nature and replacesit with representations.FoundationsAllegories of the Postinodern 87the pathos with which Applewhitespeaks at the end of his article)In spite of all that hasbeen said by theorists ofpostmodernism and postmodernist art,a depth ofmemory and involvement remainsavailable, for artistswho insist on breaking throughthe surface imagerywhich has been electronicallydeposited, likeaglossy film, over contemporaryexperience. . . . Itis possible still for artists--painters,sculptors,composers, poets, novelists,dancers--to endorse lifeby refusing the compressionof the time sense andthus of history which isimplicit in our commercialized culture. Postmodernisttheory may call intoquestion the relation betweensign and referent, butthat very problematizing ofrelation may provoke anemotive reaction, an authenticanger and refusal ofcomplicity. Artists, citizens,even politicians,have the power to insiston the still-great dimensionof human memory and its longassociation with theearth. They may continueto ground their art andtheir lives in the mediumbehind the culture whichseems our nature. We know that thefirst nature isstill there, because we breathe.It is possible tobreathe back an art whichrelates to this origin,celebrates the glory of our originalassociation withit, and directs what maybecome an effectual angeratthe forces which paper our horizonswith money imagery; value illicitly dissociatedfrom a referent innature. (16-17)I see a link between thepathos echoing through suchphrases as“the still-great dimensionof human memory and its long association with the earth” and Gablik’s“empowered new vision” andits dependency on ritual,mythic thinking, and mysticism.Gablik’s new vision and Applewhite’smemory are accessible mostreadily to the melancholic throughthe allegorical gesture.With that gesture artists andcritics can inscribe theirnewvisions on a reality theyperceive as dead and meaningless.The move from a modern aestheticsof observation andmonologic encapsulation toa postmodern “ethics of participaFoundationsAllegories of the Postniodern88tion”21is the primary featureof the postmodern remappingofthe modern paradigm Gablikenvisions:Whereas the struggleof modernism was to delineateself from other, in theemerging realm of quantuminseparability, the worldbecomes a place of interaction and connection, and thingsderive their beingbymutual dependence. Wheneverything is perceivedasdynamically interconnected,art needs to collaboratewith the environment anda new sense of relationshipcauses the old polaritybetween art and audiencetodisappear. . . . Interactionis the key that movesart beyond the aestheticmode: letting the audienceintersect with, and even formpart of, the process,recognizing that when observerand observed merge,the vision of static autonomyis undermined. (150-51)The postmodern struggleto undermine the modern visionofstatic autonomy is alsoa struggle to transformmodern authority. Gablik notes thatthis authority often relies on“a kindof compulsive masculinity”(127) and cites as an exampleClement Greenberg’s constructionof art history in an interviewinwhich he refers exclusivelyto male artists.22 Againstthismasculinity, Gablik holdsas a new principle the femininethat“breaks through theillusion of separatenessand dualism”(128).Suzi Gablik is my primarysource when it comes totheorizing the postmodern continuum.She believes that “artists willgravitate toward different activities,attitudes and roles than21This is Gablik’s term,see The Reenchantment of Art126.22She comments wryly: “At leastfor Greenberg, art history seems to consist entirelyof male walruses” (127).Foundations Allegoriesof the Postmodern 89those that operated under the aesthetics ofmodernism.” Shecontinues:It is important to understandthat any remapping ofthe modern paradigm has botha deconstructive and areconstructive dimension; they needto be seen not asopposites, with sharp boundaries drawnbetween them,but as components in a larger process,operatingsimultaneously like the complementarityprinciple.(27)Discussing the postmodern continuumthus necessitates bringingtogether materials ofa discontinuous nature. In a personaladdendum, Gablik writes:I personally see the contradictionsbetween the twopostmodernisms as very productive,since it allows usto investigate both the darker andthe lighter pathsto the future without accepting theinevitability ofeither. (27)It is in this spirit of investigationthat I wish to bring together Watson and Schafer. Inmy view, both artists’ workscontain elements from the whole postmoderncontinuum so that-by taking Watson and Schafer as casestudies--I can discuss thepostmodern in both its darkerand lighter aspects.Cl) c CD CD Cl)C CD CD CD CD Cl) Cl) Cr1CiDCL>r+CCl)+hH—CDCCDCCDZCDCDCDNC•Cl)Z)CDCD)CD)CDCDH•)©CDCl))CCDH.H•r+-)>—CDCl)))CCCDCl))CD)C)CDDCDDO.ctr+>CDC)CDCl)c-i’))CDe)Cl)CDrl’Cfl)c-i’C)CCCDCl)c-iCCCD“c-i’H-c-I-1CDCDCCl)CCDr+-)CDOCc-i’H-C)CCDH•H•Cl)CDC)Cl)CC-H-HCDICDCDCCDC/)H-rCCDr-i-0H-H•Cl)Cl)CDCDC)CCDCDH•CC)Cc-i-CiDOCDc-i’CDc-i’CCCCH)CDC/)I—a<CDi--ACCI--C))CDCl)c-i-CC)CDH-H-C))Cl)CD<C))CDr+C))c-i-C))CI-CDC))r+Cr+H-r+C))c-i-CDHHHCl)CC/)CDCDD.C))Cl)c-i’CC))H•-r+CCDCl)CDCc-I-c-I-DOCDCl)c-i‘tJCl)rCDCc)C-HZCDC))<rCl)CDrCl)C))H-Cc-i-CH-CCDI--aH•Cl)1C:c-i-D.CDC))CDc-i-H-C))c-i-H•CDc-i-CD-4DO<HCDCCl)H•—H-Cl)CC)DOCDCDCDCDH-r>3C)CCDCDC)c)C))CDH-Cl)Cl)XCl)r+HCD.ZCCl)Cl)C))CDH-CDCDCDCl)ZICl)CECC))rC))C))CDCDH-CDH-CD--Cl)i—aC))C)CDCDH-C-C3CDCI--CCDc-i-DOr+CDHCDHC))CDCDC))i—C))CCDDOH-<-C))H-ZZ”—CDc-I-Cc-i-DOCDCD<C-)ZCDCl)l—Cl)iijrCCH-CDCDH-c-iH-CDCl)Hc-i-c-i-Cl)Cl)C))C))Cl)H-c-i-CDCDc-i-Hr+CDr+Ir+)H-I--ICDCDCC)C))C))H-—-ZCc-i-CCDCDCr—Cl)HC)H-CC))1-CDDOHCCDC))SCl)HH-H-C-ZH-CDH-H1\DCl)H•CDtjC))CCl)H.CDC))l—c-i’H-DOCl)Cl)C)Cl)CCCDH•C))C)C))rCDCDCCl)DOc-i-c-i’H-H-D0-tCl)CH-CC)H-D.C))CDC/DC0CDc-i’(ThI--H-c-i’CDC))CCc-iCDC))—HCC)Cl)HHCDCl)0H-CDC))H-CDc-i-xjCl)C))C))CH-c-i’H-CDCDCD0i--aCl)<CCl)H-CCl)Cl)NH-Cl)CDCDIC)C))ZCDC/)CDZICI--CH-CDCDC0 C)) H- CD C)) Cl) H c-i HCD C)) c-i- Cl) C CD C/) CD H CD Cl) C))C))C)l)C))c-i-CI—iCD<iH-LCD“Cc-i-CH-r1-CDCDCC))C))“-‘CDC—<C))H-c-i-CC Cl)cTC))CZCDCD-C))C))CCD-H- Cl)•C))Cc-i-CDc-i-C))DH-CDCDCDDr-i-c-iH-”Cl-CDCDC))Cl)C/)CDCl)c-iCl)CC))CDC))-C)CDCD.1c-i-CDCDCCD Cl)c-iC))“Cl)HCDCCDc-ic-i-I--”rCDCC)) c-i-CDBHCDi--aCDH-BCDHCC))H CD C CC)) c-i CDH- -q)1j“1CCD C)) c-i’ C/) CThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 91type of the documentary dramaof the 1960s, Watson’s playsarenot documentary in nature.Documents of historicalevents arethe basis for documentary drama.It searches for truthto suchan extent that the search seemsmore important than a truthbound to or prescribed by authority.2The focus of documentarydrama on the search rather than onthe truth is profoundlyanti-allegorical becausethe be-all and end-all ofallegory isthe truth that the allegoristinscribes on a dead object.In “Documentary Drama: Form and Content,”Clas Zilliacustoo maintains that one wayof sketching a history of thedocumentary genre is in oppositionto allegory. The gradualreduction of societal restrictionsin Europe (and especiallyinthe Federal Republic of Germanyafter the morally rigidandconservative l9SOs), he argues, ledto an upsurge indocumentary drama. As a consequence,the documentary dramacould aggressively present counterfactsto the ones distributedIn the plays of the late 1970s and earlyl980s, too, Watson employs trial-like settings. The WomanTaken in Adultery,which draws on the medieval mysteryplay of the same title,counterpoints the medieval view of aNew Testament incident andWatson’s view of an Edmonton shopping mall.Some Edmonton lawyers ask Jesus how to punish the adulteress.Once she isreleased according to Jesus’ advice,she and a group of womenfind the lawyers guilty of tryingto discredit Jesus by havingher punished. The women then decideto stone the lawyers.In Gramsci x 3, Tiu Gramsci provides a long reportof anunfair trial against him (Plays 461-66), andMussolini takes onthe role of the unjust judge who sentencesGramsci to theprolonged suffering of a calvary.2In “Prozel3 oder Schauproze,”Otto Best makes similarobservations, see esp. 70.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 92by the powers that be without havingto fear the censorshipthat plays like Jean Paul Sartre’sLes mouches (1943) forestalled through allegory.However, the dividing line betweendocumentary and allegorical methods is not as straightforwardas Zilliacus suggests. In his “Prozef3 oder Schauprozef3,”Otto Best argues thatthe documentary playwright hasto walk a fine line betweenbeing what he calls a “maieuticauthor” (an author who furtherscritical rationalism as a means tofind truth) and being anagitator because the documents areobjective but their organization for the stage remains subjective.“The tribunal,” Bestconcludes, “develops into a show-trial;the observer is not enlightened but manipulated and reduced.”3 InBest’s view, then,the dramatist Socratically assists in deliveringthe reactionsof the audience. Of course, the didacticism ofmaieuticauthors does not go as far as that of allegoristswho also assist in delivering the reactions of the audiencebut in addition want to impose their moral standards on the audience.Maieutic authors, it seems, are content to evoke moral outrageat the events represented by the documents and their organization.In “The Expressionist Legacy in the Canadian Theatre:George Ryga and Robert Gunk,” Sherrill Grace argues that“manyof the sixties’ plays use the courtroom as theirprimary set“Gericht wird zum SchauprozeJ3, der Zuschauer nichtaufgeklart, er wird agitiert, reduziert” (71).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 93ting . . . in part becausethe tribunal constituteda perfectmetaphor (as Kafka also knew)for a century on trial” (49).Let me add to this thata metaphor extended to cover an entirework is an allegory.4 Furthermore,a trial makes a near perfect vehicle for allegory becauseof the clearly defined rolesof judge, prosecutor, counselfor the defense, plaintiffandaccused. The rigidity of the rolesin a trial enables the allegorist to move easily from mimesisto allegory because therecipient tends to apprehendthe role rather than the characterembodying the role. The trial’sdiametrically opposed positions of plaintiff and accusedalso allow the author to advanceone set of moral standards,while simultaneously discreditinganother. A further advantageto the allegorist are the clearlydefined relations of authority betweenthe trial participants.An allegorist may wish to exploitthese relations for his purposes as well as include the recipientin any of these roles orco-opt the recipient into taking sides (“The ExpressionistLegacy” 49).One is reminded here of Angus Fletcher’s Allegory:TheTheory of a Symbolic Mode in which he pointsout that “allegorymakes an appeal to an almost scientific curiosityabout the order of things” (68). A trial’s discursivestructures, such assubmitting a plea, gathering evidence,questioning witnesses‘I am thinking here of Quintilian’s definitionof allegory and of Roman Jacobson’s two linguisticaxes where theone veering towards metaphor becomes increasinglyallegorical.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postajodern 94and exercising crossexaminations, surely comes veryclose tosuch a “curiosity” about aset of circumstances. Hence Iunderstand Watson’s trials notas manifestations of documentarydrama but as allegories.In the plays I analyze, Watson linksthe trials with thetheme of the Last Judgement.The trials are invariably set ina world removed in some way fromeveryday reality: either theytake place in a nether world or in heaven.5Furthermore, inall trials, more seems to be at stakethan the events on stageat first indicate; indeed, humankind itself ison trial. Theoutcomes of the trials seem absoluteand associated with(eternal) damnation: either the accused aresentenced tocrucify God or are forfeitto an allegorical death. Thesecharacteristics of the Last Judgement furtherdichotomize thestereotypical roles of the trial’s participants.At the sametime, however, they encourage the audience to take sideswiththe accused because all are human. The integration ofthe trial with the theme of the Last Judgement, therefore,tightensthe allegorist’s authority and control over the audience.In order to understand the full allegorical importof thetrials in the plays, we need to take a closer look ata numberof characters who have allegorical significance. In aprefatory “Note re script” to his second play,The Trial ofIn Watson’s Let’s Murder Clytemnestra, a trial takesplace in an absurd mental clinic-cum-prison, see below.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 95Corporal Adam, Watson includesan enigmatic commenton hisfirst major play,6 Cockcrowand the Gulls: “The name ‘Cockcrow’had made, at a singlestroke of the pen, a realistictreatmentof an action dealing witha series of homicides allegedly located in Nanaimo, impossible” (Plays109). This remark refersto the allegorical implications ofthe name “Cockcrow” whichneed further explanation.Cockcrow has the first experienceof “life after death,”or represents the cockcrowof this nether world, after OReilly,Alice and Higgins discusslife after death. Cockcrow joinsthediscussion and promisesto get “DEAD drunk” and to report backto the living what death is like:No one has ever come backfrom death to tell usunimpeachably what death is[. .Very well. I shall this eveningbe dead.Since you have requested it,6A short play, The Whatnot, was producedat the Inter-faculty Drama Festival at the University ofAlberta StudioTheatre in November 1957 but remainsunpublished. The Whatnotis of interest because it contains mostof the features thatwould mark Watson’s plays of the 1960s, suchas extremeviolence (on and off-stage), unrealistic settings,absurd humorand ecstatic, bizarre endings.The play opens on a rather realistically portrayedretiredcouple living in Edmonton. Soon, however, theplay leavesrealistic conventions when the couplehas an argument aboutwhether to stay in Edmonton. The husband suggeststo his wifethat he saw her into little boards in orderto build a whatnot.Having never liked life in Edmonton,the wife happily agreesbecause, as a whatnot, life would be bearable for heranywhere.The remainder of the play features variousvisitors who all admire the couple’s solution to theirproblem. A rich Americanbuys the whatnot. When it is removed fromthe house, it leavesa hole which the characters try to cover up.The last sceneshows them dancing ecstatically while singing“we don’t care;we don’t care” (Box 6, ts., Watson-archives,Special Collections, U of Alberta, Edmonton,36).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 96I shall look aboutme, when I AM dead,And see . . . what, exactly, deathis.And thisI will come back and tellyou.7Cockcrow, however, can only keep the first of hispromises; hereturns after his death to givea few hints to his friends,such as, “I am here by miracle,to tell you all” and “I am atthe beginning” and “It was like theday of wrath” (57,58,60).But when pressed to expound on thesehints, he is at a loss forwords to describe life after death. Thus, likea cock announcing daybreak, Cockcrow merely announcesthe beginning of thenether world. Watson reduces Cockcrowto this one function:his character remains undeveloped, and he only participatesasone among others in other actions, suchas the nailing of thescarecrow or the incantations at the endof the play where hisonly non-choric utterance, “I am here by miracle”(104),repeats his earlier report (57), thereby again remindingtheaudience of his function as announcer of the nether world.Hisinability to tell those who are still alive about his new worldis indicative of his new status: he has become a part of thenether world and his communicative abilities seem restrictedonce he leaves his world.The name “Cockcrow,” then, is a metonomy. According toFletcher, synecdoche and metonomy contain the full range ofallegorical part-whole relationships. The former labels static7Plays 36. Because Watson and Schafer use ellipsis regularly, I mark my own ellipsis in quotations from their literaryworks henceforth by square brackets.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postoderii 97relations of classification(the sail is a qualitativesubclassof ship; it is a part thereof),while the latter labelsdynamicinteractions between partand whole (the sword causesviolentdeath) (87). These two tropes allowus to distinguish thewhole from the part and,in this way, call to mindthe largerorganization with which the partsmay bear an integral relation. The allegorical implicationsof the name “Cockcrow” areto be seen in the bridgingof the gap between image(of thenether world) and agent (thecharacter Cockcrow) and leadtherecipient towards an allegoricalreading of the play.Let us now turn to the allegoricalsignificance of anotherset of characters in Cockcrow. At theoutset, a characternamed Pride addresses the audienceand introduces theprotagonist of the play, Cyril Higgins,and himself:Regard the pot of geraniums.MayI, before the playDeviates any further into allegory,Introduce to you the ownerof the pot of geraniums?He is one Cyril Higgins.He is looking for his father.So I gather. A queer kid.As for me--you all know me, my Christianname isPride.I was most religiously begotten.My mother was a Christian gentlewoman.She baptized me, Pride.Here endeth my aside. (Plays 17)Pride here superimposes the specific performancesof Cyril andhimself onto the allegorical dimension oftheir roles. Pridealso points to his individual performance wheneverintroducingan abstract category: “May I, before the play deviatesany further into allegory,” and “As for me--youall know me, myThe Work of Wilfred WatsofiAllegories of the Postmodern 98Christian name is . . . Pride” (emphasisadded). Thus hestresses the ontological metamorphosisof the abstract qualityof pride into his individual humancharacter. This metamorphosis signals personification.In The Fiction of Truth: Structuresof Meaning in Narrative, Carolynn van Dyke remindsus that personification is oneof the markers of allegorical drama.She uses beginnings andendings of allegorical plays to formulatea taxonomy of allegorical drama. She contends that allegoriststend to framemoralities in some version of a superimpositionof universaltruth on the human performance or viceversa (110). Accordingto van Dyke, a concrete example of thissuperimposition is thebeginning of Everyman, where a messenger addressesthe spectators in a prologue to inform them about thecontent of theplay:For ye shall here how our heven KingeCalleth Everyman to a generall rekeninge.Give audience, and here what he doth saye. (2.19-21)In the ensuing dialogue between God and Death, the allegoristauthoritatively categorizes Everyman as a representation ofevery man. The individual character of Everyman, however, isunaware of this categorization until Death stops him with thewords, “Everyman, stande still!” At this point, according tovan Dyke, “the condition of every man is about to come hometoEveryman” (108), which is a shock of recognition for bothEveryman and the audience. Van Dyke argues that the “dramatic”in the moralities does not arise from a conflict of characters,The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 99as it usually does in drama,nor from a confrontationof abstractions, as it does innarrative allegory, butthe dramatic moment is theone at which an abstractcategory becomes a humancharacter. That kind ofdrama, based on ontologicalmetamorphosis, is peculiar to allegory. (108)In Cockcrow, the Five Sins (Pride,Wrath, Sloth, Envy, and[Nunsclipj Lechery) seemto be personifications of Cyril’smotivations for murdering hisfather and a number of “innocent”bystanders as well as forcommitting suicide.8 Anotherindicator of this relationshipbetween the Sins and Cyril isthelatter’s stammering becauseit can be seen as a conceptualmarker of the Sins’ creation. Cyril’sstammer in this way occurs only at the beginning ofthe play; to be more precise, itonly occurs up to the pointwhere the Sins take on more self-sufficient roles and losesome of their status as Cyril’smotivations. For these reasons,Cyril’s stammer signifiesalinguistic diminishment that simultaneouslyserves as an originfor the Sins.In his study The Poetics of Personification,James Paxsondescribes a similar psychic or linguistic diminishmentamonghuman personae in medieval personificationnarratives. Thisdiminishment is manifest in a particular psychic,physical andspiritual condition that overcomes thenarrator at the outset8Watson omits two of the traditionalSeven Deadly Sins,Covetousness and Gluttony, perhapsbecause they are not asrelevant to Cyril’s characterand his motivations as the othervices; indeed, there is nothing inCockcrow to suggest thatCyril desires wealth or food.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postaiodern 100of the text. Paxson calls this conditiondorveille. He goeson:The psychic [or linguistic]reduction concomitantupon dorveille . . . gives riseto the narratorialapprehension, or more accurately, thenarratorial invention or generation of personifiedabstractions,objects, or places. Personification charactersenjoya metaphorical “emergence” from themind of thediminished actant or narrator.(95)In explaining this emergence of personifications,Paxson incorporates Fletcher’s psychoanalyticalapproach into a broaderphenomenological one. If a personificationgrows out of a generating consciousness that ends up asa psychic vestige or afragment, then the invention of personifications entailsacritique of the myth of “holism” attributableto the human consciousness. This critique, according to Paxson,is at theheart of all phenomenology (97). Angus Fletcher, in fact,provides a psychoanalytic reading of personifications aspsychic “daemons” or as the literary images of the obsessive-compulsive or the manic-depressive consciousness in its manicphases.9 Paxson reinterprets Fletcher’s complementary characterological ratios into a phenomenological formula which contrasts the diminished character with the personifications:Fletcher’s . . . characterological descriptions,therefore, are really phenomenological equationswherein personifications, as fragments or facets ofan ostensibly “whole” human consciousness, functionas synecdochal emblematic images of this superSee Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, ch. 1 “TheDaemonic Agent” and ch. 6 “Psychoanalytic Analogues: Obsessionand Compulsion.”The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 101ordinate consciousness whichis itself incomplete.(98)Paxson’s remarks help toclarify the functionof the FiveSins in Cockcrow. I understandCyril’s stammer as thelinguistic diminishment thatPaxson describes as dorveille.Stammering, which adds vowelsand consonants to words,and babbling, which removes them fromwords, represent thetwo polesof linguistic disfigurationwhose spectrum mirrorsconsciouslyinvented figuration anddisfiguration.10 Paxson concludes:As the product of thediminished human consciousness,[unconsciously disfigured language]becomes the conceptual marker or signal flagfor the parallel creation of animationalfigures--the walkingand breathing prosopopeias of allegoricalnarrative. (116)A similar process occursin Cockcrow, where Cyril’s stammeristhe conceptual marker for thecreation of the FiveSins.Yet the Five Sins do not only functionas allegorical personifications; they also developinto more self-motivatedcharacters who urge Cyril to avengehis mother by killing themurderer, namely his father Higgins.Watson here uses thevices in a role that resemblesthat of the classical Erinyes,or Furies, who are agents of divineretribution, seeking bothjustice and vengeance for wrongs doneto kinsfolk. The Erinyesappear in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides,where they pursue Orestes10This mirroring may be accountable forthe fact that inthe medieval ages stammering was consideredan expression ofdivine inspiration anda vatic activity. This also explainsthe expression “prophetic stammering.”The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 102after he has killed his mother. Inone of their choralspeeches to Orestes, they announcetheir purpose as follows:This the purpose that theall-involvingdestiny spun, to be ours andto be shakennever: when mortals assumeoutrageof own hand in violence,these we dog, till one goesunder earth. Nor does deathset them altogether free. (lines334-40)The last sentence shows thatthe Erinyes are active inboththis world and the next, a characteristicWatson transfers tothe vices in Cockcrow.Once the scene shifts to the nether worldin act four,Cyril’s vices are more active than the Erinyes.At the beginning of The Eumenides, the Erinyesare asleep right next toOrestes, who is awake, and have tobe awakened to pursue theirvengeance. Chiding them for allowingOrestes to escape theirvengeance, Clytemnestra rouses the Erinyesfrom sleep andreproaches them further: “Oh, whimper,then, but your man hasgot away and gone/far” (lines 118-19). In Cockcrow, Watsonironically reverses this situation (Orestes awake, Erinyesasleep): Cyril is asleep and the Sins are awake. Pride and Wrathrebuke Cyril in the same way that Clytemnestra rebukedtheErinyes: “Wake up. Wake up. Wakeup./Pursue. Pursue. Pursue” (Plays 71).That Cyril kills not only Higgins but also OReilly,Alice,Greta, and Iris suggests that the vices’ function goes beyondthat of the Erinyes. The vices develop into cynical creatureswho urge Cyril to pursue and kill indiscriminately anyonewhoThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 103criticizes his revenge. This latterrole aids the vices incounselling Cyril to take hisown life in orderto bring theothers to ultimate justice:WRATH. They’ve got awayfrom youCYRIL. How?PRIDE. You’ve got themon the lamErgo, chase after themCYRIL. How?PRIDE. sweetlyYou have a key in your handto open a door in yourbrowWRATH, PRIDE. Then youcan ploughThem rightUp to the very judgement seat.(69)The “key” is, of course, thepistol and the act suggestedissuicide. The “judgementseat” is a reference to the Revelationof St. John, where thedead will be judged from a whiteseataccording to their works (20.11-15).The accused in the trial are Cyril,Higgins, Cockcrow,Greta, Iris, Alice and OReilly,now chained together asprisoners. The charges areas follows: homicide (Thomas Higgins), patricide, wanton homicide andsuicide (Cyril Higgins),prostitution and disorderlyliving (Alice, Greta, Iris, Cockcrow), and procuring and living offthe proceeds of prostitution (OReilly) (Plays 81-82). Convinced thathe drove theothers to the judgement seat, however, Cyrilprotests his ownarraignment by pointing out that hisfather made a murderer ofhim. He contends that he is not toblame. But Pride disregards Cyril’s objections because“there is no addition to theevidence here” (77) and proceeds withsentencing the prisoners.In light of the Sins’ origination fromCyril’s consciousnessThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 104and their subsequent alignment withCyril, it is highly ironicthat Pride sentences him first:“I will punish the youngmanfirst/to Cyril Look this way./I sentence you to behanged” (77). That the Sins thus turnagainst him can be seenas a further development in the statusof the personifications.Generated from the dorveille of Cyril’sconsciousness and, assuch, manifestations of partsof his consciousness, they beginto separate themselves from their origin inorder to constituteself-sufficient characters. Significantly,once the Sins takeon the roles of the Erinyes, the conceptualmarker of theirorigination, Cyril’s stammer, disappears.The development frompersonifications to characters beginswhen the Sins turn intoErinyes and reaches its climax whenthe Sins blind Cyril.Once the Sins detect hesitation on thepart of theprisoners to punish God according to their sentence,theypunish and torture Cyril by blinding him:WRATH. Let’s put out his eyesCYRIL. It will be just like King Johnmimics Higgins“And wilt thou with thine hands put out both mineeyes?”“And I will”“Wilt thou?”“And I will”COCKCROW. Let’s get it doneHIGGINS. Won’t you stand firm behind me, matesWOMEN. Why don’t they do what is wantedHIGGINS. We’ll call their bluffWOMEN. speaking quickly . . . as Wrath andEnvy present Cyrilto PrideMaybe they’ll call oursPRIDE. puts out Cyril’s eyesThere.And therethrows eyeballs on groundThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 105LECHERY, picks up eyeballsand holds them on theflat of herhand0 boy, he’s making eyes at meCYRIL. miserablyWhoopee.Now for the first time I cansee. (Plays 90)This blinding scene deploys manyliterary allusions. One istoShakespeare’s King John. The originalpassage occurs in actfour, scene one of the play in whichHubert has orders to blindyoung Arthur. Their long dialogueconsists of Arthur’s pleading and Hubert’s growing unease withhis task. Finally overcome with mercy for Arthur, Hubert refusesto blind Arthur andsets him free. I quote the lines Watsonalludes to:ARTHUR. Must you with hot ironsburn out both mineeyes?HUBERT. Young boy, I must.ARTHUR. And will you?HUBERT. And I will. (Jn.4.1.39-42)Watson’s repetitions of “Wilt thou” and“And I will” emphasizeironically the repetitive nature of Arthur’spleading.Cyril’s blinding also parallels Gloucester’sblinding inShakespeare’s King Lear. Cyril’s remark,“Whoopee. Now forthe first time I can see,” is doubly ironicbecause it expresses the fate of Gloucester, who must firstbe blind to“see” the intrigues and evil surrounding him,and because itexpresses the misery of this breakthrough. Yet Watson’sblinding scene is also reminiscent of Jean Paul Sartre’s Lesmouches, where the Erinyes are intent on punishing Orestesforthe murder of his mother by blinding him. Zeus, however,doesnot allow this punishment.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Fostniodern 106Cyril’s blinding has anotherprecursor in Prudentius’Psychomachia where the precise demolitionof eyes, teeth, andtongue reverses the movement ofpersonification. AccordingtoPaul de Man, this movement ofpersonification isthe fiction of an apostropheto an absent, deceased,or voiceless entity, whichposits the possibility ofthe latter’s reply and confersupon it the power ofspeech. Voice assumes mouth, eye,and finally face,a chain that is manifest in theetymology of thetrope’s name, prosoponpoem, to confer a mask or aface (prosopon). (qtd. inPaxson 69)Destroying the face that personificationconfers signifies inthe Psychomachia the Vices’ defeatand the Virtues’ victory.In Cockcrow, the Sins’ punishment ofCyril can be seen to commence reversing the movement of personification.Perhaps, thisreversal is one of the primary goals ofthe Sins because itwould establish their end as personifications ofCyril’smotivations and their beginningas autonomous characters. Bydestroying Cyril, the Sins coulddeclare victory too.Because of Higgins’s intervention on Cyril’sbehalf, Cyrilremains the only one to be sentenced, whichseems to indicateanother shift in the Sins’ role. While the Sinsappeared atfirst as Cyril’s personified vices and then asErinyes, instigating Cyril’s revenge, during the trial theyappear asCyril’s judges, holding him accountable for thosedeeds thatthey themselves advised.The development of the Sins atteststo a chain of controlthat begins and ends with the authorityof the allegorist.Watson inscribes his melancholy in Cyril’s dorveillethat inThe Work of (*ilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 107turn generates the Sins. Thedevelopment of the vices takesits course from being personificationsof Cyril’s motivationsto self-motivated characters whoturn against Cyril andsentence and torture him. Atthe end of the play, the vicesprovide the play with its finalallegorical and ironicaltwist,namely with the mockery of redemption.But before turning to the end of Cockcrow,let us have alook at the trial in TheTrial of Corporal Adam. In thisplay,act one leads to the trial thattakes up the entire secondactof the play. Corporal Adam standsaccused of misappropriatingdeath. Watson personifies the latteras Deth, who bringscharges against Adam beforeGod. But God insists on showingmercy:GOD. If this my creature, Adam,Has faults (and he has) still I have mercyDETH. Yes, deity. But you will findhe has moreblemishThan you have mercy for.[. . .1Well: let me ask what fault he mustengraveUpon his soul, to forfeit it?Killing a brother? Rapinga sister?Robbing? Cheating? Brawling? Rioting?Stealing from helpless widowkind?Waging wars unjust, and murdering littlechildrenBefore their infant gums have prickedtheir teeth?Would these be faults enough?[. . .]GOD. I am merciful. Has he otherfaults?I can forgive him these. (Plays 116)In light of such all-encompassing mercy, Dethseems to feel increasingly powerless; nonetheless,God concedes that Adam“shall answer for his faults,” notby being forfeit outright toDeth, but in a trial: “You shall not hang himwithout trial”(117).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postøodern 108In The Trial of Corporal Adam, alllegal roles seem unambiguous: Adam chooses Deth tobe his judge. Deth then callson Holy Church to be the prosecutor.When it comes to findinga counsel for the defense, Deth canonly think of one, namelyMefistofilis, whom Adam acceptsas a “paramour of legal wit”(130) against the warnings ofhis wife. However, a closer lookreveals that Watson introducesconsiderable ambiguityby aligning separate legal roles withthe same characters. Thus, thejudge of this trial, Deth, is also the plaintiff.Furthermore,the counsel for the defense is in secret leaguewith the judge(or plaintiff) and the prosecutorturns out to be more of acounsel for the defense. As a resultof these role duplications, Watson creates dramatic ironyby making the audienceaware of the secret pact between Deth andMefistofilis even before the trial begins. In this way,the audience realizes thatthe trial is fundamentally flawed and unjust.In Cockcrow, Alice assumes that the judgeof their trialmust be God (as it is prophesied in the Revelation ofSt.John). Pointing at the presiding judge, shesays:overcome by the awfulness of it, word by wordCockcrow . . . is . . . that . . . man . .. thereGod? (Plays 77)The “awfulness” of this realization lies in the factthat theSins are the judges with Pride presiding. That Prideis thechair of this bench seems to be based entirelyon his physicalstrength: he is the one to win the quarrelwith the other Sinsabout who gets to sit at the centre of the bench and henceThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 109declares himself to be chosen thechair “unanimously” (76).Watson retains the characteristicof the medieval moralities,according to which Pride is the“chief of the sins.”1’InCockcrow, the vices are “membersof a local jazz orchestraofsome reputation, THE FIVE SINS”(17) of which Pride isthemaestro.’2 Of the vices, heis on stage most often.Watson prescribes only thelegal roles of judges and accused. The roles of plaintiff and counselfor the defensechange with the situations. For instance,after Pridesentences Cyril to be hanged, Higginsclumsily defends his son:We ain’t not one of us donewhat we ought to havedone.And we’ve all done what we oughtn’tto have done,Eh, mate? I don’t accuse no one,But if I had a stone of accusationIn my hand, to hurl it, mate,It’s environment I’d hurlit at.Environment’s to blame.(78)11Mackenzie 34. In the medievalclassification of Sins,Pride (superbia) is seen as the originof all other sins (radixvitiorum), see, for instance, St. Viktor passim.12The Sins’ association with jazz addsan element of lasciviousness to their appearances: theyare familiar with thered-light district because they arejazz musicians and areemployed there. Thus, in the firstscene where they assemblein a “street of brothels,” they makefun of Cyril’s embarrassment (17). Only on one occasion dothe vices play their instruments directly, namely when they try to rouseCyril fromhis sleep (71). But they sing (105)and dance (85). Watsonoften extends the performative aspectof his plays to includemusic but leaves the extent of themusical aspect to the discretion of the director. Examplesare Cockcrow, Make Love NotWasps (in which he uses musical bridges),and The Rock Hook(which is a dramatization of SheilaWatson’s The Double Hookfor theatre ensemble and a rock band).Murray Schafer, on theother hand, stays in control of theextent of music in histheatrical works.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 110But soon after Higgins attempts Cyril’sdefense, Cyril accusesHiggins and thus slips into the roleof plaintiff:HIGGINS. It’s environmentthat is to blame.CYRIL. points finger atHigginsIt’s that swine there that’sto blame.[. . .1He emptied a teapot on my mother.(79)These role swappings andthe notable confusion they createinthe courtroom and, in extension, amongthe audience nonethelesssupport the dichotomy of judges andaccused, a dichotomy whichitself is never in question. Thisdichotomy determines the underlying power structure of the trial.It is only in the conclusion of the play that Watson’s ironysubverts the dichotomyof judges and accused in favor ofa third entity, redemption.Pride is responsible for the verdictof the trial in Cockcrow. The fact that he pronouncesjudgement in overridingWrath’s objections certifies both hisposition as chair of thebench and the hierarchical dichotomyof judge and accused.Taking up Higgins’s defense that the“environment is to blame,”Pride pursues this line of argument further.Stating firstthat “Environment is the world” and then thatGod made theworld, Pride says that “if the world’sto blame for what theprisoners severally have done,/Then God’s to blame” (78).Wrath objects to this argument, but Prideis adamant in pursuing it:What the accused have done . .Is—Compared to the organized crimes ofcivilization,The Seven Years War; the Thirty YearsWar;The Hundred Years War; the NapoleonicWar;The Crimean War; and the First World War;The Spanish Civil War; and the Second WorldWar,The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 111With its mass extermination ofthe Jews at Belsen andelsewhere;The mass bombing of Berlinand the bombing ofHiroshima and Nagasaki;The turning of live steamon rioting prisoners;The lynching of negroes; and the sterilizationofvagrants in California;The PACIFICATION of Hungary--fora few examples-is .A drop of water to the ocean.We must keep a sense of proportion.(82)As a result, Pride sentencesthe prisoners to crucify eitherGod or else a scarecrow that may serveas an image of God. Healso turns this crucifixion intoa ritual, complete withrepetitions and choric incantations:Say it out loud!All of you, repeat these words afterme:“In crucifying this scarecrow . . .“they repeat the words, only Higginssilent“We have put God to death.”repeatedIn nailing this scarecrow throughthe hands, we havenailed God through the handsrepeatedIn nailing this scarecrow throughthe feet, we havenailed God through the feetrepeated[. . .]In putting this scarecrow to death, we haveput Godto deathall, except Higgins, repeat (92-93)Once they drive more nails into the scarecrow,“to make sure”as Pride demands, the scarecrow begins bleeding.Cyril onlyparticipated in the crucifixion through hisverbal (andspiritual’3)support. In spite ofthe ill omen of theCyril aids Cockcrow, who nails handsand feet of thescarecrow to the cross, by providing spiritualguidance: “Iwill be your eyes./I have eyes in every drop of my blood/Tosee that it is God--/Let us forgive ourselves,/But first wemust punish God” (92).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 112scarecrow’s bleeding, Cyrilsays, “They have crucifiedGod./Now let us forgive ourselves.”But forgiveness is beyondOReilly, who remarks whileleaving, “I can never forgivemyself” (93). Hence thestate of the characters seemsto beone of (eternal) damnation,a judgement corroborated by thecheerless Alice, who says:I will pick myself up andtake myself awayAnd deposit myself somewhereAnd having abandoned myselfthere,There will be no need to forgivemyself [.. .1I’ll be rid of myself. (94)Alice expresses well the desolationshe feels when consideringher situation. Watson knowsthat something more is needed thana mere appeal, like Cyril’s, to forgive.In the last act, Alice appearsto have gone mad; she practices “outward forms of graciousness[so that] heaven will flowinto [her]” (95). The logger, now dressedas a shepherd,sympathizes with her (he bowsto her whenever she bows to him),and gives her a pearl with whichto cross herself. He alsoaids her with the crossing and thensays, “now take it, and setfree the others” (97). She immediatelycomplies and asks Gretaand Iris:Where is Master Cyril and Mr Higgins?And Cockcrow? And Father OReilly?[. .And Mrs Higgins? And Queenie?And Mother Loving, and all the peoples oftheworld. . . . (97)The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 113By asking first for Cyril whose motivationsthe vices at firstpersonified, Alice hints at a strugglebetween personifiedvirtues and vices to win the favorof “man.”4Until the final scene, Watson favorsthe vices over thevirtues. The vices control throughCyril’s actions the othercharacters. The enigmatic logger who turnsshepherd in thelast act represents the virtues’ side.As a logger he refusesto participate or even witness thecrucifixion, and as ashepherd he provides the pearl thatwill redeem them all. Thathe appears as a shepherd recalls theChristian metaphor ofChrist as shepherd of humankind, a metaphorhere supported bythe pearl, a sacred object, which leads toa direct confrontation with the vices in the finalscene where the belief generated by the pearl creates an invisible protective wallagainstwhich the Sins rage in vain (103-04). Thepearl could be seenas the kingdom of heaven, thus drawing on the medievalEnglishpoem Pearl which itself draws on the gospelof Matthew.’5‘This struggle aligns the play with the traditionthatbegan with Prudentius’ Psychomachia and reachedits climax inthe miracle plays and moralities of the middleages. While inthe Psychomachia the virtues took on the vices in one-on-onecombats, in the later miracle plays and moralitiesthe treatment of the vices became gradually less formulaicand more complex until they developed in Shakespeare’sage into characterswho were no longer one-dimensional and no longerfocused on onevice only--an example would be the eponymous hero ofRichardIII.15In Pearl, the narrator grieves the loss of apearl.But this pearl stands for his daughter who diedas an infant.She comes to him in a dream to convince him that hisgrief isextravagant and out of place. Insteadof grieving for hisdaughter, he should try to attain that pearlfor himself whichthe jeweller in the gospel of Matthew soughtand found (see“The parable of the pearl” in Matt.8.45-46). The daughterThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 114In Cockcrow, the pearl isa threat to the Sins becauseitcancels the damnation withwhich they sentencedthe prisoners.The pearl generates the beliefthat holds the vices in check(104) and sparks the ritualsand incantations whichaccompanythe handing on of the pearland establish a newand positivecommunity. The choric lamentof “Cor meum . . . contristaretur changesto the choric incantationof the Agnus Dei(103), signifying, as it doesin the Catholic mass, the redemption of human guilt through Christ’ssuffering. The mannerinwhich the pearl makes its roundfurther supports this sigsays:‘Jesus called his disciples mild,And said his realm no soulcould win,Unless he arrive there justas a child,Or else nevermore will he entertherein.Innocent, honest, and undefiled,Without stain or spot of pollutingsin,When such there knock, far from earth’swild,Keepers shall quickly thegate unpin.Therein is bliss in constantspin,That the jeweller sought through gemsto bless,Selling all his wool, and linen thin,To purchase a pearl of spotlessness.‘This spotless, matchless pearl boughtdear,For which the jeweller gave all on hand,Is like the realm of heaven clear,So said the Father of sea and land;For it is flawless, pure, without peer,Endlessly round, so fair and grand,And common to all who right revere.Amid my breast it now does stand;My Lord, the Lamb, whose blood death banned,Placed it there, his peace to impress.Forsake this world with madness spanned,And purchase your pearl of spotlessness.(Vantuono, 13,st. 1-2)The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 115nification: Alice holds itup, then puts it in the mouthof thekneeling OReilly as thoughit were the wafer of theEucharist.Alice’s language in itsbreathless fragments reflectsherecstacy:breathlessly[. . . II bring you . . . this pearlholds it upStand still in my words. Look.I had it from. When in themorningWhite as. This pearlmild as babies’ milk.I give it you. BecauseStand still in my words.Put it in your mouthLet your tongue. I lay itthere.In the suck of. Who givesthis pearl keeps it.All the money. Money in the world.All money cannot buy this pearl.Stand still in my words. (103)Soon after he receives thepearl and while still kneeling,OReilly replies: “Lord, I amnot worthy, but speak the word only” (104), a phrase taken verbatimfrom the Catholic liturgy.Furthermore, when he puts thepearl in Cockcrow’s mouth,OReilly’s language becomes fragmented likeAlice’s:Take this. This pearl. In your mouth.On your tongue. It is sweeter than.Who gives the pearl keeps it. (104)Cockcrow gives the pearl toCyril, who instantaneously regainshis eyesight. Because of redemption,the vices have lost thebattle for Cyril.The key issue in both Cockcrow andCorporal Adam is theredemption of the eponymous charactersand the groups ofcharacters associated withthem. In both plays, a deusexmachina prompts redemption after thecharacters have beencharged, tried, found guilty,and sentenced. Althoughthe tn-The Work of Wi]fred WatsonAllegories of the Postifioderfi 116als exhibit some parallelsto an absolute and bindingLastJudgement, Watson also makesclear to what extent thesetrialsand their verdicts are unjustand flawed. At firstsight,then, these acts of redemptionappear to correct theoutcome ofthe trials; yet, redemptionis also flawed becauseit too isunjustified.The shepherd gives Alicethe pearl and releases herandthe others from the guilt ofhaving crucified an imageof Godand at the same time releasesthem from the power ofthe vices.There is no underlyingrationale for the shepherd’sactions,except the implication of anall-encompassing love forhumankind, which can be seen tooriginate in the shepherd’sChrist-like status. But Cockcrowand the others have not doneanything to deserve that love.Likewise, the eponymous characterin Corporal Adam doesnot deserve the all-encompassingmercy of God-the-father. Watson points out that we should seethis mercy as a comment onthe “flower-power” movement of the 1960s.The play thus ends“with a repentant Everyman forgivenby the flower-children’sgod, a smooth-faced father, theologicallyyounger than his son”(109).The two kinds of redemptionWatson has chosen for hisplays lead, in Cockcrow, tothe Eucharist and, in CorporalAdam, to complete reconciliationbetween Everyman and God.However, the plays do not endon these harmonious notes. 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Cl) CCD ciThe Icork of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 118Thy-yi na-ame, etc.Then Mefistofilis too addressesthe audience:then in ordinary voice toaudienceAm I the only one praying?Amen . . . amen.(160)But the strongest doubt inredemptive mercy occurs inthe“Epilogue 1988,” where Mefistofilistells Deth that “This trialof Corporal Adamas a war criminal/Will go on and on untilawall/Has been found for hispublic execution” (161).Thusthe zeal of Adam’s enemiesis as resilient as God’smercy isencompassing and the playappears in retrospect merelyas oneinstallment of Corporal Adam’songoing suffering.In both plays, Watson approachesthe pursuit of truth andresponsibility through treatmentsof the Last Judgement. Thesetreatments take on qualitiesof an ultimate or final allegorythat will put an endto all allegories because the LastJudgement promises to provide accessto an ultimate signified, inthis case divine and absolutejustice. For Watson, divinejustice is an ethical signified that wouldsettle once and for allthe issues of truth and responsibility.However, he cannotattain that signified because his allegoriescan only constructan intermediary moral sphere betweenthe objective world (whichall characters leave) and the transcendentalsignified ofdivine justice. This intermediary spherehelps to situate thesubject by means of arbitrary truthsand illusionisticcertainties because it is an arbitrarilyconstructed spherebased solely on the authority of allegory.As an arbitraryThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 119construct that is the siteof that authority, this sphere isideological through and through.According to Paul Smith, postmodernallegory tries to subvert and replace the ideologyof symbolism. Smith’s argumentis based on Benjamin’sUrsprung des deutschen Trauerspielswhich describes the romanticdichotomy of allegory andsymbolism in dialectical terms. Oncethe allegorist recognizesthat his construct belongsto the same dialectics as the oneitreplaced and is ideologicaltoo, allegory has failed:Because of its moral base,allegory is doomed to anendless circularity in whichits destruction of onemorality and truth is followedby the realizationthat its own morality and truthbelong in the samearena.’6 (P. Smith 119).Watson, it seems, is fully awareof an “endless circularity”inhis plays; he has heard thedevil’s laugh, which is whyheoverturns last judgements byredemption and ridicules thatredemption in the last scenesof his plays. What remainsisthe endless struggle of life itselfwhich is also the life of16Paraphrasing Benjamin, Smithsays that at that pointthe allegorist hears the “devil’slaugh.” The passage in Benjamin is not as straightforward, sincehe links allegoresis tomateriality: “Just as the earthlysadness belongs to allegoresis, the hellish merriness belongsto a desire that thetriumph of matter prevents fromoccurring. . . . The astuteversatility of the human expresses itselfand holds against theallegorist the mocking laughterof hell. This versatilitytransforms its materialityin the most far-fetched maze intoahuman-like self-consciousness.”[“Wie also die irdischeTraurigkeit zur Allegorese gehort,so die höllische Lustigkeitzu ihrer im Triumph der Materie vereiteltenSehnsucht. . .Die kluge Versatilität des Menschenspricht sich selber aus undsetzt, indem sie im verworfenstenKalkül ihr Materialisches imSelbstbewul3tsein menschenähnlich macht,dem Allegoriker dasHohngelächter der Hölle entgegen” (203).]The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 120the recipient because Watsonencourages the audience to join inthe mockery of ultimate answers tothe questions posedby life.For Watson, the ideas ofa last judgement and of completeredemption appear to representtwo highly suspect and problematic “solutions” to the issueof original sin. The lastwords of Cockcrow and the“Epilogue 1988” of CorporalAdamdemonstrate that Watson believesabove all in the reality ofacollective guilt and a continuous trial.In this context it issignificant that Mefistofilis callshimself more “real” thanGod (145-46). Indeed, to Watson, Mefistofilisis more real because neither does he believein redemption (because he knowshe will continue the prosecution ofAdam), nor does he believein the possibility of achievingAdam’s “public execution” (because he knows God will intervene in Adam’sbehalf), althoughhe claims that possibilityto convince Deth to continue thestruggle. The allegorical essencein these plays, then, is thebelief in original sin or a collective guiltthat we cannot escape. All that remains is a continuous struggle.Watson triesto convey this belief to the audienceby reducing dramatic distance between stage and audience atthe end of both plays because this reduction--provided it really occursin the production at hand--makes the audience side withcharacters who reject Last Judgements and redemption. In thisway, then, Watsonachieves his didactic purpose: the audiencejoins him in hisbelief in a radical Catholicism whosecredo is neither the LastJudgement nor redemption,but the continuing condition oforiginal sin.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 121With these two plays fromthe 1960s, we are at thethreshold of Watson’s postmodernism.His allegorical vision isstill very close to that of thetheatre of the absurd. Watsonlater coined the term “radicalabsurdity” for his theatre,andI will show in the last section ofthis chapter how he situateshis new theatre in extensionof as well as in oppositionto thetheatre of the absurd. Thetraits of his radical absurdity,already visible in the early 1960sas a spirituality marked bya profound belief in original sin anda near obsessive re—jection of last judgements and finalredemptions, will be bentin the late l960s towards secularrituals through which hetries to convert the audienceto his view of multi-consciousness as a possiblekey-experience in the postmodernera.But before moving on to Watson’s secularrituals of thelate l960s, let us look aheadto his ritualistic treatment ofthe calvary in the early 1980s. Thisdetour will clarify Watson’s allegorical method by analyzinghis attitude towards history. Watson views the McLuhanesque“global village” as fundamentally ahistorical. That is whyhe implements atemporalrituals into his treatment ofthe calvary. There are also somegender specific rituals which deservespecial attention becausethey reveal Watson’s profound ambiguitytowards women. Thisambiguity will again be at issue inthe last section of thischapter.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 122Meaningful ReversalsIn Gramsci x 3, Watson transformsa biography into anatemporal (and ahistorical)ritual. I understand this transformation as allegorical becauseWatson starts with thebiographicat information (for the mostpart gleaned fromGiuseppe Fiori’s Antonio Gramsci: Lifeof a Revolutionary) butgoes on to distort this information until hegives us a versionof Gramsci’s life that is entirelya construct of Watson’s imagination. In other words, he re-inscribes thebiography ofGramsci with a new content. This re-inscriptionoccurs in theallegorical gesture in which he replaces the temporalityofhistory with a ritualistic, McLuhanesquepattern recognition.Furthermore, he uses the reversals of the calvaryand ofchronology to support his allegorical constructand to arriveat a truly (which for Watson means ahistorical) postmodernglobal village.Why does Watson choose Antonio Gramsci to undertakehisdeconstruction of biography? He providesa clue in theepigraph to Gramsci x 3, a quotation from JamesJoll’s Gramscithat addresses a paradox in Gramsci: “The greatest Marxistwriter of the twentieth century, paradoxically,is also one ofthe greatest examples of the independence of thehuman spiritThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 123from its materialist limitations.”’7What J011 describes asaparadox is the seeming contradictionbetween Gramsci’sphilosophy and his life. Theformer is based on materialism,while the latter shows how Gramscitranscended the materialistconditions of his imprisonmentin order to survive and producewritings of a high intellectualcalibre. Watson exploitsGramsci’s transcendence ofhis materialist limitationsby turning him intoa Christ-like figure suffering throughanatemporal and thus endlesscalvary. Antonio Gramsci isanideal vehicle to deconstructa biography because of the tensions between his life and hisphilosophy.In the first edition of Gramsci x3, Watson included an“Acknowledgement,” but hesubsequently expanded it toa “notere script” for his 1989 drama-collection.As in the notes tothe 1960s plays, Watson uses the “notere script” to hint atand explicate an allegorical meaningof the play that mayotherwise be too obscure. Furthermore,Watson contends that to“translate the life of a revolutionaryinto an allegory abouttheatre as a revolutionary art” requireda fair amount ofpoetic license when dealing with hissource material. Watsondirects attention to two words (“revolutionary”and “allegory”)he uses to describe the translationprocess. He points to theMcLuhanesque understanding of “revolutionary,”maintaining that‘‘Qtd. in Plays 431. I quote Gramscix 3 from Plays.Gramsci x 3 consists of the threeplays: “The Young Officerfrom Cagliari,” “Finding Tatiana,” and“The Doing-to-Death ofAntonio Gramsci .“The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 124revolutions “always [signify] re-inventingthe wheel.”Gramsci, in Watson’s view, attemptedto re-invent self-sacrifice, an insight which promptedWatson to use the calvaryas a theatrical ritual and extend themetaphor of the calvary(which Fiori uses once [219]) intoa full-fledged allegory describing Gramsci’s imprisonment.This allegory then involves,by virtue of its ritual, the recipientin Gramsci’s “victimization to the machinocracywhich rules us all,” thereby turning Gramsci into an Everyman withwhom we can and shouldidentify.The poetic license Watson reservesfor himself is evidentin a number of details. Examplesare Tiu Gramsci’s detailedreport of his trial (Plays 461-66),which is only mentioned inFiori’s biography (15); Tatiana’s letterto the Gramscis (498-500), which may be fictional because it isnot mentioned in anyof the sources I consulted, and the guard “Marcoof Paulilatinoin Sardinia,” who engages in conversation withGramsci in “TheDoing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci” (594) and ismost likely inspired by a brief comment in Fiori’s biography abouta guardfrom Paulilatino observing a visit by Gramsci’s brother (252).But there are four changes Watson undertakesthat gobeyond mere detail, and it is those we shall lookat first toexamine their dramatic importance with regard tothe process oftranslation from history to allegory.These four changes are:(1) Edmea’s and Teresina’s age and relationship toAntonio Gramsci;The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postraodern 125(2) The officer of Cagliari;(3) Gramsci’s speech to the deputiesand its circumstances; and(4) The relationship between Tatianaand Mussolini.The first major change concerns Edmea andTeresina. Whilein “The Officer from Cagliari” theyare both granddaughterstoTiu Gramsci, in reality onlyEdmea was a granddaughter to Tiu(Fiori 290) and Teresina wasone of the three daughters of Tiu(19). Teresina was, accordingto Fiori, closest to AntonioGramsci, a claim he suppots withletters in which Antonioreminisces about their playingtogether as children. Furthermore, in “The Officer,” Teresina isseventeen years of age,while in Fiori’s biography weread that Edmea was seventeenyears at the time of Antonio’s death(290), while Teresina’sage is not given. Fiori mentions, however,that she married apostal official in 1924 (19) and thatat the time of writingthe biography, she was in her seventies, whichwould make herabout 40 at the time of Gramsci’s death. Theofficer fromCagliari at one point alleges that AntonioGramsci has a sisternamed Teresina upon which Teresina replies,“she is my aunt”(Plays 477).These ambiguities can be seen as Watson’s wayof assimilating the biographical materialprovided by Fiori to hisown allegorical purposes. Watson thus establisheshis authority by letting his imagination flyand altering the historicalinformation his play is based upon.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 126His method is that of the melancholic allegorist:he takesTeresina, for instance, and assignsher a new meaning inhisplay. The scenes between Teresinaand Edmea may gain some tension by virtue of their adolescence.This is the case in scenetwo, where Teresina and Edmea talkabout Teresina’s firstmenstruation (437-38), having babies(440-41), or Teresina’sambition to emulate her uncle AntonioGramsci (438-39).Another major addition in “TheOfficer” is the eponymouscharacter. While Cagliari stands infront of Mussolini’sportrait consulting his notebook,the chorus, which consists ofwomen from the neighbouring villages,announces Cagliari’s arrival:CH/ABBASANTA. It’s 1 theYOUNG 2 officerfrom 3 Cagliari .CH/SEDILO. It’s 4 theyoung 5 POLICEofficer 6 fromCagliari . . . 7CH/OTTANO. christ,it’s 8 thatyoung 9cocksucker 1 fromCagliari . . . 2CH/SEDILO. theyoung 3 policeofficer 4 fromCagliari . . . 5CH/DUALCHI. youngcocksucker . . . 6CH/NEONELI. policeofficer . . . 7etc. cocksucker(467)In this choric flurry of voices, the appelation “cocksucker”seems to compete with, if not replace, theterm “police officer,” and it conveys the women’s perceptionof an underlyingThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 127homoeroticism in fascism. Thishomoeroticism is amplydocumented with regard to fascism’sFührerkult.’8Cagliari’s intention isto harass the Gramscis. HeordersTeresina to undress becausehe claims that she is reallyAntonio Gramsci. Teresinaat first tries to comply,but thenshe turns to the chorus of women,blurting out “I’m menstruating” (486). Without any hesitation,the women seize Cagliariand accuse him: “You came herewith the intention of sexuallymolesting the Gramsci girl”(487). Dismissing suggestions forfunnelling coal-oil in Cagliari’smouth, they intend to use itfor sexual tortures:Let’s dose him with it first .No, pour it on his balls .Rub it into his genitals .Rub it up his asshole[. .Jerk him off with it. (489)The women go on to torture theyoung fascist in retaliation forhis ill-intent towards the menstruatingTeresina. The torturesappear as Watson’s sexual fantasy ofa women’s solidarity thatavenges an attempted sexual crimeagainst a woman with anothersexual crime.’9 Cagliari attemptsto dominate Teresina but isin turn dominated by the women.18See, for instance, the homophobic moraloutrage WilliamShirer manifests whenever he discusses“notorious” homosexualsamong the Nazi leadership (307). BecauseShirer’s is an earlystudy of fascist Germany (1950) inhibitedby the anti-gay biasof its times, I take his discussionsas unacknowledgeddemonstrations of homoeroticism infascism and especially itsleadership cult.‘The tortures in Gramsci x 3 parallelthe ones at theend of The Woman Taken in Adultery,where a similar women’ssolidarity comes about andleads to the stoning of the malelawyers for their attempt to punishthe adulteress.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 128A possible reading of this sceneis that Watson uses thegraphic, sexual tortures to expressthe Old Testament notion ofjustice, namely revenge.20 This notionof justice ties in withWatson’s rejection of final redemptionbecause the “eye for aneye” justice does not allow forany forgiveness or rehabilitation. As such, the women’s actionsportray an empowerment ofwomen. They stand up againstinjustices done to one of theirown, and they fight back. The gendercoding of the tortures,however, suggests a reading that focusseson the complexprocesses of Watson’s identificationwith the torturers and/orthe tortured.To begin with, it seems that Watsonidentifies withCagliari because, like Cagliari,he is awaiting the wrath ofwomen who stand up in solidarity forthose women he has abusedin the many instances of chauvinism or evenmisogyny in hisplays;2’Watson and Cagliari, therefore,are brothers in crimeand in punishment. Through his identification withCagliari,Watson is punishing himself, which, psychologicallyspeaking,is a form of masochism. At this point, however,Watson en-20Incidentally, this could alsobe argued for the stoningof the lawyers in The Woman Taken in Adultery, wherethe lawyers’ “hurling” of accusations against the adulteressisavenged by the women’s hurling of rocks againstthem.21See for instance the brutal transformationof the wifein The Whatnot into a piece of furniture thatis sold by herhusband and the aging and rebirthing ritualsin Let’s MurderClytemnestra According to the Principles ofMarshall McLuhan(see also below).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 129counters a moral impasse: howcan he identify with a model-fascist and still continueto present Gramsci asan unjustlysuffering victim of the fasciststate? As a result of thismoral impasse, Watsonrepresses his desire to identifywithCagliari and channels thisenergy into supportingthe women’ssolidarity and their tortures;in other words, he deflectshismasochism into sadismso that these two aspects of hisattitudemerge into a form of sadomasochism.In the course of torture,the experienced, older womeninitiate the young Teresina into theirranks. Sèdilo, for instance, shouts to the hesitant seventeenyear old: “Teresina,come and see what a Fascistprick looks like” (489). Thisconcern for initiation strengthensthe women’s solidarity, whichis expressed in the increasingviolence of their intentionstowards their victim:Let’s set fire to his joystick! [.. .]Let’s burn off his genitals. .Let’s drag him outside andset fire to him publicly.(491-92)When the women drag Cagliari eventuallyfrom the house,they carry him hanging, tied by hisfeet and hands, from apole. Watson thus adds another turnto his fantasy of women’ssolidarity in that he portrays Cagliarias the prey of a barbarous hunting tribe. Identifyingthe ritual of barbarous,sexual torture with women indicatesa denigration of women because it classifies them as belongingto a less developedevolutionary stage of humanity thanthat of his male characThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postajodern 130ters.22 This denigration underminesthe empowerment of women.If fascism can be seen as theepitome of brutality, institutionalizing, as Watsonmaintains very compellingly in“TheDoing-to-Death,” government-condonedtortures, then the women’sportrayal as a torturing tribeemerges as a descentto thestatus of that of fascism--atbest a dubious empowerment.It is also significant that there areno other gender-specific rituals in Watson’s plays,a fact that emphasizes hisritualistic defamation of women andappears to be another sideof his male chauvinism.The references to anal stimulation (throughmassage or induced diarrhea) denote a possible anal-retentivecharacter disposition in Cagliari. Indeed, he is veryconcerned and evenobsessed with keeping order. That he meticulouslydocuments inhis notebook what he perceives as disorder alsoreveals hisurge for order: in his notebook, heredefines any disorder intoissues that fascist law can (and will) control(see, for instance, Tiu’s outcry (“Murderers and assassins!”)that Cagliaripromptly writes down [470]). Cagliarican be seen as a modelfascist or as the stereotypical fascist whodoes not emerge asa character in his own right but rather as a type representinga political era.2322Even Cagliari, the model fascist and exponentof asystem based on brutality and suppression, is never shownonstage engaging in brutalities. He merely verbalizes his intentions of doing harm to Teresina.23In some of his plays from the 1960s, Watsonpeoples hisplays with “caricatures,” indicating that theyare not fullydeveloped characters, but rather one-dimensionalfarcicalThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 131In “Finding Tatiana,” Watson takesconsiderable poetic license when he creates Gramsci’s speechto the Chamber ofDeputies and an ensuing meeting of Gramsciand Mussolini.Gramsci’s first and last speechto the Chamber of Deputies wason a Fascist law ostensiblyaimed against Freemasonry but alsodisciplining the activitiesof associations and clubs in general. Gramsci, accordingto Fiori, was “no resounding orator”and the Fascists had to keep quietfor once in order to understand acoustically what he was saying,a circumstance thatdid not keep them from interrupting(193-96). Watson changesthe topic of Gramsci’s speech intoa response to the Matteottiaffair, which happened sometime before Gramsci’s speech. TheMatteotti affair caused the temporaryexit of all communistdeputies from the Chamber to protestMussolini’s involvement inMatteotti’s murder (170-74). Watsoncounterpoints Gramsci’sspeech with Julka’s and Tatiana’s dialogue onGramsci’s destinyand how it draws others into serving it. Thetheme of thedialogue is highlighted in the hostilityof Gramsci’s directaccusations of Mussolini because theywill also endanger hiswife and child.The last point comes clearly acrossin scene 13, adialogue between Mussolini and Gramsciin which Mussolini congratulates Gramsci for a “very good”speech but also inquiresabout Gramsci’s wife and baby. Furthermore, Mussolinisaystypes.The Work of Wi]fred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 132that all through Gramsci’s speech,he found himself worryingabout Gramsci’s health which appearsto be a veiled threat.Watson uses an anecdote in Fiorias a starting point for theencounter between Mussolini andGramsci. However, in Fiori’saccount no dialogue betweenthe two men existed:It has often been said--thoughthere seem to be nodirect witnesses of theincident--that Mussolini sawGramsci immediately afterwards,having a coffee inthe parliamentary bar, and wentup to him with outstretched hand to congratulatehim on his speech.Gramsci continued sippinghis coffee indifferently,ignoring the hand heldout to him. (196)Based on hearsay, Fiori’s account canbe seen to romanticizeGramsci by stressing his stern anti-fascism.However, Watson’sversion of having the fascistand the communist amiablychatwith each other can be seento level political oppositions.This levelling can be seen asa conservative strategy and wouldsupport my contention that Watson is sympatheticto fascism, asindicated above in his repressed identificationwith Cagliari.Watson sacrifices accurate observance ofhis sources forgreater dramatic coherence, since introducingthe historicaltopic and background of Gramsci’s speech wouldno doubt disperse the dramatic tension that Watson graduallyincreasesafter Matteotti’s murder in scene 5.In “The Doing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci,” Tatianaengages in an extended dialogue with Mussolini and becomes hismistress, not only to save Gramsci but also tosave herself“from the sickness unto death, the Kierkegardiandesperation,of [Gramsci’sJ senseless sacrifice” (Plays 586).I could notThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postisodern 133find anything in Watson’s sourcesto substantiate such a rela—tionship between Tatiana and Mussolini;however, Gramsci’ssister Teresina sent a personalletter to Mussolini askinghimto permit a medical examinationand a stay in a prison hospital. The fascists granted bothwishes but only under the harshest conditions (Fiori 233).In Gramsci, James JolldescribesTatiana’s activities:[Tatiana] remained in Italy andassumed theresponsibility for giving[Gramscil such help as shecould by writing, by visitinghim and--often againsthis wishes--by trying everylegal, political and personal means to gain his releaseor at least to obtainproper medical care for him.(73)When positing an amourbetween Tatiana and Mussolini, Watsonisletting his imagination flyto explore a possible underlyingreason, namely the Kierkegardian desperation,for the effortsof sister and sister-in-law to achievea more “humane” imprisonment for Gramsci, even if thatmeant compromising hispolitical stance and their personalintegrity. Gramsci’s letters substantiate Watson’s analysisto a certain degree. Hewrote to Tatiana:On the whole you like to picture meas a man insisting on his right to suffer, to bea martyr, unwillingto be defrauded of one single secondor nuance of hispunishment. You see me as another Gandhi desirousofbearing universal witness to the tormentsof the Indian people, or as another Jeremiahor Elijah (orwhatever the Hebrew prophet was called)deliberatelyeating unclean things in public todraw the wrath ofthe gods down upon him. (qtd. in Fiori220)Fiori himself, however, goes on to refuteGramsci’s view ofTat iana:In reality, Gramsci was extremelyconscious of thepractical result and meaning of allforms of action,The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postajodern 134and had always felt repugnance forinconclusive gestures. The rhetoric of self-sacrificewas asentimental trap he was unlikelyto fall into. (220)Fiori supports his assumptionby pointing to Gramsci’s attitudeof never enduring any unnecessarysuffering if he could avoidit by appealing to laws and regulations.However, he alsogrants that Gramsci never appealedfor anything beyond the lawfrom the Fascist state for fear of receivingpersonal clemency.Watson quotes the othercorroborating letter of Gramsci as anepigraph to “The Doing-to-Death.” It isin his letter to hisbrother Carlo that Gramsci talksabout Tatiana’s efforts on hisbehalf and distances himself from herefforts if they made theFascist regime look as though theygranted him a “personal concession” for which he would haveto write “an official request,giving as reason that [he] had changed[his] views, now recognized this, that and the other, andso on” (qtd. in Fiori 221).In “The Doing-to-Death,” the Fascist prison doctorsaskGramsci to sign as “a mere formality” a form stating hisagreement to work on a critique of the Fascist myth accordingto thewishes of Mussolini, who wants to keep Gramsci alive untilsuchtime that this critique is finished (Plays 573). Gramscirefuses to sign this form but the doctors tell himthat “youare one of us[. . . IIRREGARDLESS of whether you sign it ornot” (572).It seems as though the characters peopling Gramscix 3have lost their historical significance in exchangefor a newsignificance in Watson’s imaginative construct. Aloosening ofThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postaiodern 135referentiality marks the translationprocess from biography toallegory. Here we see themelancholic gazing at the historicalevents as related in a biography andexperiencing a lossof anawareness for ritual patterns.The allegorical gestureoriginates in his ensuing mourningand fills historical events,characters etc. with a new, deliberatesignificance.Watson’s Gramsci x 3 culminates in “TheDoing-to--Death,”which is a depiction of Gramsci’simprisonment in terms ofthestations of the cross. Theidea for such a treatment mayhaveoccurred to Watson when he saw howFiori introduces Gramsci’simprisonment. Fiori writes:“The long calvary of AntonioGramsci was beginning” (219). However,Watson used the stations of the cross as an organizingmetaphor before writingtheGramsci plays. The last poem inI Begin with Counting is inthis way a blueprint for “TheDoing-to—Death.” “ReturningtoSquare One” is a number grid verse fortwo voices. Thesevoices take turns, one voice announcing themovement from station to station, while theother announces the event each station signifies. Only at the laststation does Watson breakthis pattern, and both voices announcethe events of the station.On the one hand, Watson uses thecalvary to presentGramsci’s imprisonment in orderto present Gramsci as the victim, as the lamb, as Jesus Christ.Because of our identification with Gramsci, assistedby the fact that Christ wascrucified on behalf ofus in order to begin a new covenantbe-l’he Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postajodern 136tween God and “man,” wecan all claim to be victims. Inhis“note re script,” Watson fostersthis identification byspeaking of the “victimizationto the machinocracy which rulesusall” (Plays 433). As well,identification and participationare key features of his1960s plays where he encouragestheaudience to break down dramaticdistance.On the other hand, Gramsci couldbe accused of sharing inthe guilt of his plight, and,if we identify with him, wecanall be accused in this way.We all bear the guilt, forthat iswhat Christ’s suffering symbolizesin the first place. According to the Christian belief,Christ took on himself the guiltof “mankind” and died on thecross for that guilt.Significantly, Watson reversesthe stations when heusesthe metaphor of the calvary: startingat the fourteenth station, he moves back to the first,adding “it is here we mustbegin” (Poems 289, Plays 601). This reversalis ironic. ForWatson, the end is the beginning. Andthe beginning is not only the first station of the calvary,but it is also “squareone,” or the forum in the global villageof his McLuhanesqueworld in which human interaction is possibleand where thedirection of events is still undetermined.Yet the events are also interminable becauseany end ismerely another beginning. It seemsthat Watson inscribes asimilar allegorical meaningto the calvary as he did to therituals he integrated into his plays fromthe early 1960s. InWatson’s world, the end of the calvaryis the beginning of yetThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 137another or even the repetitionsof the same Calvary. Watsoninthis way not only endlessly defersbut altogether frustratesthe hope that Catholics place in thecalvary as preparation forthe redemption of the Second Comingof Christ. What remainsisa struggle that may even have the addeddesolation of repeatingSisyphus-like the same Calvary timeand again.24Let us take a look at the spiritualcontent of the calvary. According to the CatholicEncyclopedia, “the object ofthe Stations is . . . to make in spirit. . . a pilgrimage tothe chief scenes of Christ’ssuffering and death”(569). Theauthor of the Encyclopedia entry reachesthis conclusion:It may be safely assertedthat there is no devotionmore richly endowed withindulgences than the Way ofthe Cross, and none which enablesus more literallyto obey Christ’s injunction to takeup our cross andfollow Him. (571)Using the term “literally” here seemscurious because thisliteralness gives way instantaneouslyto the allegorical, namely to an identification with andacceptance of the plight of“mankind” that Christ offset with hissuffering through thecalvary.24As a matter of fact, Watson’s reversalof the stationsof the cross is historically accurate.Before the end of the15thcentury, the general practicewas to retrace Christ’ssteps in Jerusalem, but in the oppositedirection to Christ’s.Thus, the pilgrims would commencetheir walk at Mount Calvaryand then proceed back to Pilate’shouse. It was only by thebeginning of the 16th century thatthe church regarded the“more reasonable” way of traversingthe route as more correctand prescribed it in the 17th centuryin that order (CatholicEncyclopedia, v.15, 569).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 138The reversal of the calvary directsattention to the question of who is responsible for Gramsci’s/Christ’sdeath becausethe play/calvary now ends with Mussolini/Pilatedeclaring hisinnocence:GRAMSCI. [The medical officers’]achievement has oneflaw.They have totally de-humanizedme, except for thisone adversary truth: I knowI have been dehumanized. .MUSSOLINI. And I believe him.Tatiana, take comfort. This crumbof illuminationis for you, not me.I wash my hands of the blood of thismistaken man.(Plays 602)Gramsci’s self-knowledge undermineshis “total de-humanization”so that Mussolini construes it ascomfort to the one whom heperceives as responsible for Gramsci’sstate.Watson uses Antonio Gramsci’snotion of pjiziopi1atismo.To Gramsci, ponziopilatismo signifiedan action designed toavoid responsibility. Watson takesGramsci’s metaphorical concept and “literalizes” it by applying itto Mussolini’s/Pilate’s actions. As a result, Watsonpresents Mussolini/Pilate as the unjust judge whose trial ofGramsci/Christis a parody of justice. Mussolini’s gesture ofblaming Tatianafor Gramsci’s death is a further injustice.Watson also links Mussolini’s gestureto the ElectraOrestes theme introduced in “Finding Tatiana.”Gramsci comesto Rome with Julka’s instruction to find Tatiana. When Gramsciand Tatiana meet, they address each other as Orestesand Electra, a greeting they reiterate in consecutiveencounters.Julka repeatedly criticizes Tatiana/Electrafor provokingThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postinodern 139Gramsci’s fateful actions byencouraging him to pursue hiscourse rather than to changehis mind. Julka first introducesthe motive of Gramsci’s audaciouspursuit of his course whenshe suggests that Eugenie marryGramsci because she would“makehim/set limits to his determinationto martyr/himself tothe lost cause of Italian/communism” (515). Because Eugeniecannot accommodate Julka’s request,Julka makes a similar pleato Tatiana: “You must persuadehim Tatiana that he can’thelpmatters by simply throwing himselfas a sacrifice at fate”(544). When Tatiana too doesnot act as requested, Julkaaccuses her: “You have made things muchmore difficult. .You have made him totally selfishby concentrating his attention upon himself.” Tatianaresponds, “What he does is doneaccording to his destiny” (547). Herchoice of words revealsthat Tatiana has accepted thatGramsci follows his courseevenif it spells out doom for himand those close to him. Julka(like Mussolini) construes this acceptanceand active supportof “destiny” as guilt in Gramsci’sdeath.Because of her central role in “FindingTatiana” and “TheDoing-to-Death” and her subordinationto Gramsci’s fate,Tatiana can be seen to representthe “universal” female inaway similar to Electra in Let’s MurderClytemnestra. The continuity in the name “Electra”with which Tatiana identifiesisa further case in point. Mussoliniand the long discussionshehas with Tatiana serveas a screen that focuses her feelingsofguilt. Tatiana/Electra in turnseeks alleviation of her guiltThe Work üf Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 140from Mussolini, who ultimatelyblames her all the more.Because of her inclinationto take moral responsibilityin aworld in which such responsibilityis an anachronism, sheemerges ultimately asan outcast who does not belongand whomthe world punishes with theblame for Gramsci’s fate.Gramsci x 3 moves fromdisplaying a day in historyto thepresentation of an ahistorical,endless ritual that chronologically takes place beforethe day shown in partone of the trilogy. This internal inconsistency serves,in my view, toemphasize the trait in Gramsci’scalvary that Watson broughttothe foreground by reversingit, namely that the end is merelyanother beginning. In otherwords, Watson puts the day afterGramsci’s death at the beginning ofthe trilogy although(chrono-)logically it should be at theend.In his ordering of the Gramsci plays, Watsoncan be seento comment on the logic that we commonly applyto biographiesand that depends on temporality.The temporality which underlies this logic appears to have an impacton our understanding of repetitive, ritualistic patterns inthe plays. What,Watson seems to ask, if temporalitystands in the way of “pattern recognition” which, according to his interpretationofMcLuhanesque education, is the poetryof environmental language? Environmental language consists ofeverything the environment communicates to us, for instance,Watson mentions the“environmental language of plush theatreseats [that keep] insisting ‘be comfortable, be passive, don’t respond,take iteasy’” (“Education” 212, 208).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postiaodern 141It is possible to infer the goal ofWatson’s Gramsci x 3.Watson wants to teach his audiencethat environmental languagecan and should replace historyso that the process of patternrecognition can replace historiographyand biography. Thisdidactic message bringsus back to square one, which weshouldthink of as a spatial, nota temporal move.To recapitulate, it is fair tosay that Watson combinesthe loosening of referentialitywith pattern recognition.Inthis way, he applies a McLuhanesquenotion of educationto theplay. The new meaning he ascribesin an act of mourning empha—sizes ritual and its atemporalcontinuity. At the same time,however, it conceals anOther,in this case, a historiographythat Watson experiences asdead because it does not graspevents in terms of atemporalpatterns. Grasping eventsasatemporal patterns emergesas the prerogative ofa McLuhanesquestance that, in Watson’s view,is best described as postmodern.Let us move on then toa discussion of Watson’s understandingof McLuhan as well as to theissue of the postmodern. In theensuing section, I will also speculateabout the underlyingmotivation of Watson’s male chauvinism.As it turns out, thismotivation is at the root of his beliefand explains why Watsonrejects last judgements and final redemptionin favour of theeternal struggle of a radically absurdworld.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 142Postmodern Mul ti-ConsciousnessesWilfred Watson has beeninfluenced throughout hiscareerby Marshall McLuhan’s theories. Thisinfluence culminated during the 1960s when Watson and McLuhanco-authored From Clichéto Archetype. Notwithstanding his admirationfor McLuhan, Watson was not an uncritical discipleof McLuhan’s theories. Inspired by their collaboration, Watsondeveloped a view ofmulti-consciousness rooted in McLuhan’sideas which at the sametime went beyond McLuhan in significantways. One can onlyspeculate as to why not more of Watson’s ideasfound their wayinto From Cliché to Archetype, but there issome evidence tosuggest that McLuhan failed to accept Watsonas an equal partner in the final stages of the production ofthe book. In Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, Philip Marchanddescribes their collaboration and concludes that the problemsstarted once they sat down to dictate a draftto McLuhan’s secretary:McLuhan did most of the dictating and ignored almostentirely every idea that had developed in thedialogues with Watson, reverting to his originalthoughts on the subject. . . . As the yearwent on,McLuhan seemed less and less tolerant of Watson’sparticipation. . . . The “dialogue” had graduallybecome two monologues. (219)In “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” Watson’sdescription of the process of writing corroborates Marchand’s conclusions:The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 143When we started to write in real earnest .. . thedialogue came to a standstill.Marshall McLuhan commenced to dictate, and, as forme, my role becameadvisory--to find a word or torecall some point we’dmade in preliminary discussions.(198)Fortunately, Watson has also publisheda number of articles onMcLuhanesque topics. For my argument,I rely on these articles, rather than on From Clichéto Archetype.According to Watson’s account ofMcLuhan’s theory and oftheir collaboration, the principal disagreementbetween the twomen was that McLuhan insisted that the mediaare extensions ofthe human senses while, in Watson’sview, the media are multiplications of the senses. Watson suggests thatMcLuhan was sorigid in defending his view because itrelied on utopian thinking:By thinking of perception asextending sense, Marshall McLuhan could suppose that humanbeings are integrated one with the other through the imagination,which he says in The Gutenberg Galaxy, “isthat ratioamong the perceptions and faculties which existswhenthey are not embedded or outered in material technologies. When so outered, each sense and facultybecomes a closed system. Prior to such outeringthere is entire interplay among experiences.”(“Education” 216)McLuhan’s utopia is the belief in an unmediated and integratedperception prior to the extension of the senses in mediaandtechnologies. Thus the media extensions (or the “outering”ofsenses in them) constitute to the Catholic McLuhan a fall fromgrace. Watson continues:Ultimately, for McLuhan, the extensions of man areevil, as we can note in the immediate sequelto thetext I have just quoted: “When the perverse ingenuityof man,” McLuhan goes on to say, “has outered somepart of his being in material technology, his entireThe Work of Wilfred WatsollAllegories of the Postinodern 144sense ratio is altered. He is thencompelled to behold this fragment of himself‘closing itself as insteel’.” (216)For Watson, on the other hand, interfaceor “the radical juxtaposition of opposites” fosters perception(216). The technique of interface underlies “metaphor, paradox,montage, wit,possibly even sex, yin and yang, happenings”(216) and is thuscreating sense (or new constellations) ratherthan extendingit. In Watson’s view, then, perceptiongoes from fragmentation(the juxtaposition of opposites) tointegration (the emergenceof new constellations).Both McLuhan and Watson hold onto the Catholicbelief thatthe inescapable affliction with an originalsin marks the humancondition. Yet they still provide thisbelief, and hence theirtheories, with different emphases. To McLuhan,the outering ofthe senses in media and technologies constitutes anoriginalsin that destroyed the utopian plenitude of an integratedperception. This utopian plenitude is the key to McLuhan’s wayofthinking. It can be seen either as a “fall from grace,” whichis how Watson construed McLuhan’s stance, or elseas an unattainable future condition. Both interpretations introduceatemporal element into McLuhan’s media theory that is irreconcilable with an atemporal global village where only the presentcounts. To Watson, on the other hand, the continuous struggletriggered by original sin is atemporal (as in a “true”McLuhanesque global village), so that thinkingabout originalsin itself and what preceded it does not make sense. The keyThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 145to Watson’s thinking is the continuousstruggle that we cannotescape, neither in a Last Judgementnor in redemption. The only thing left to do is to face the struggle and bear thecollective guilt.As early as the l960s, Watson viewed themedia as a“systemry of awareness” (“MarshallMcLuhan and Multi-Consciousness” 202). As a result,he came to see every mediumas a “psychophysical means” to observethe world and as a partof human awareness or consciousness.The multiplicity ofsenses, media and technologies making up consciousnessleads towhat Watson calls “multi-consciousness.” Becausethe media andtechnologies make sense, no two human beingscan have the samemix of multi-consciousnesses. Watson thus unmasks themetaphorof the extension of sense as a strategic one. In theconclusion to “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,”Watson considers McLuhan’s attitude a failure:Marshall McLuhan’s reluctance to see the technologiesand media as multiplications of the human senses rather than as extensions of them prevents him fromreaching a satisfactory account of multiconsciousness. (211)Watson sought throughout the 1960s to integrate thinkingabout and beyond McLuhan’s theories with the writing of plays.He expressed this intention in “On Radical Absurdity,” where heexplains the connection between multi-consciousness, which iscaused by the multitude of media currently available, and hisgeneral attitude towards writing plays:Twentieth-century man has many modes of consciousnessand with these goes a freedom not enjoyed by anyThe Ilork of Wilfred WatsollAllegories of the Postmodern 146previous civilization. It is thisfreedom, so terrible a freedom that we don’t like lookingat it, afreedom we’ve hardly recognizedto date, a freedomradically unlike any that mankindhas yet known, thatI find myself wanting to celebratein absurdist playsand in satirical verse. (36,my emphasis)This celebratory mood, in my view, canbe seen as the essenceof Watson’s allegories in that itinforms his manner of approaching his material:This new freedom I have beencelebrating is really avery wonderful development--itdictates the very unrealistic settings I find myself using,and these,involving the use of multi-environments, determinethe kind of dramatic texture I have been abletoachieve [in my plays]. (36-37)The multi-consciousness--on which the freedomhe describesso eloquently is built--is itself contingent onthe explosionof media and technologies in the twentieth century.He beginshis scrutiny with an ontological question, namely, “whereinthe range of [our animal and our human] extensionsdo we locateour being?” (36) Watson answers indirectly by pointing to theissue of freedom. He argues that a direct answerto the question can only result in a curtailment of freedom, for if wereduce our being to one mode of awareness, we may complain oflimitation. Situating our being in a single medium(be itanimal or human extension) would also mean positing a unifiedconsciousness, which, in Watson’s view, the twentieth-centuryhuman no longer has at her or his disposal.However, as Watson points out in a later essay on “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” the Western intellectual tradition has posited a homogeneous consciousness as anThe Work of Wi]fred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 147absolute presupposition so that evena Marshall McLuhan couldfall prey to it:Significantly enough, MarshallMcLuhan referred totechnologies and media as extensionsof man or of thehuman senses, notas extensions of men or of people’ssenses. I cannot recalla single critic who objectedto this lumping together ofawareness, as if Everymanwere a single person ofboth sexes and all ages.(209)Watson then directs attentionto the fact that with the increase in media and technologiesthe possibilities of differences in awareness betweentwo men was on the rise too. Theresult is radical eccentricity:Twentieth-century man has becomea radical eccentric,with his irrationalisms, angsts,hang-ups, generationand age-peer gaps, educationgaps, protest meetings,guerilla activities, broken marriages,familyschizophrenias. (210)At the same time, the declineof the book-cliché--a declinewhich “was sufficient to produce effectsof fragmentation,alienation, disorientation, anddisorganization” (208)--furthered this eccentricity. A single theoreticaldiscourse,be it “Marxism or Freudianism or Jungianism or surrealismorany single ism,” could no longer convincingly explaintheseruptures in contemporary life (199). AccordinglyWatson says:All that could be clearly recognized wasa multiplicity of movements and the word thatbest describedthis first post-modern decade was multiconsciousness. (199)Watson’s new postmodern eccentricity forcesupon us a newconcept of absurdity, for “no two men are likelyto have thesame mix of the multi-consciousnesses available” (“On RadicalAbsurdity” 41). Because multi-consciousnesscomes aboutThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 148through multi-awareness bymeans of multi—media, Watson cantheatrically represent multi-consciousnessby means of multipleenvironments or milieus. This treatmentin turn facilitates acertain stance towards absurd theatre:The collaging together of two ormore milieus makespossible a treatment of an absurdisttheatre notaltogether unlike but by no means identicalwith thatmodern theatre movement dominatedby Camus’s sentiment of the absurd, where men and theirquestioningsare answered by the blank meaningless[ness]of theworld. (41)While to Camus the absurd implies“a total absence of hope,” “acontinual rejection,” and “a conscious dissatisfaction”( “On Radical Absurdity” 43), Watsoncontends that the newradical absurdity induces in us hope,acceptance and complacency because of the impact of the new human senses andthefreedom to which they lead:Consequently though the new absurdityought to beenough to sober us, in fact eccentric man causes inus a sense of elation--we are for the moon, come whatmay. (44)Watson in this way opposes his radical absurdity to Camus’sphilosophy of the absurd. In the course of his dramaticoutputof the 1960s, Watson tries to represent radical absurdityin apronounced turn to farce.25 Although the theatre of theabsurdhas always had a strong link to farce, Watson makes that link25This turn is manifest from 1964 onward. Watson subtitles Another Bloody Page from Plutarch “A Tragic Farce.”0Holy Ghost DIP YOUR FINGER IN THE BLOOD OF CANADA And WriteILove You bears the generic desciption “Flower Power Farce in4Acts,” although the play consists only of two acts.Furthermore, there are many other unpublished plays bearingthe generic description “farce” in their subtitle.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 149even stronger by exaggeratingthe oppositional character ofradical absurdity and the philosophy ofthe absurd.According to Leslie Smith, absurdand ridiculous situations define farce. Its startingpoint may be a certainnormality, but routinely its authorspush it further and further towards absurdity, anarchy andeven nightmare scenarios(11). Norman Shapiro also detects parallelsbetween farce andthe theatre of the absurd. He writes in hisintroduction tofour farces by Georges Feydeau thatboth dramatists of farceand of the absurd describe “the aimlessnessand unpredictability of man’s fate in a haphazard(or at least inexplicable)universe, in which things--mainly base--willhappen to him forno obvious or compelling reason” (xi). BothSmith’s andShapiro’s criteria for farce can be examined in the contextofWatson’s plays. Furthermore, these criteriaclarify Watson’skey terms--hope, acceptance, complacency. In Cockcrow,Watsonpushes normality towards absurdity and anarchy until thecharacters reach a nightmarish condition in which theyaresentenced to crucify God. For Watson, this state of anarchyalso leads to hope in a redemption through the pearl.The lastscene, however, makes this redemption ambiguous because Watsoninvites the spectators to participate in mocking redemption.Thus, there is no “absolute absence of hope,” as in Camus’sabsurdity, because the hope that the characters attain isnot asunambiguous as Watson describes in his article.Critics have linked the anarchy in farce to its formalproximity to the festival (see Redmond). Plautus, the creatorThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postnmdern iSOof the genre, took materials fromGreek comedy and recomposedthem to fit the special performancedemands of his day in orderto please his Roman audience (53).These special performancedemands were intricately linkedto the venue, which was not anenclosed theatre but the ludior games where the spectatorspassed freely from one festival eventto another. The spectators of Plautus’s farces thus strollin and out of acting andspectators’ spaces. Since classicaltimes, farce can be seento undermine the distinction betweenacting space and spectators’ space, a distinction that theatreevents usuallyrespect and enforce.At the culmination of Watson’s plays, he ofteninvites thespectators to break down thatdistinction by means of participation in the performance. In other words,Watson invites thespectators to accept moving into anotherspace, similar to thespectators of a festival who have to accept movingfrom spaceto space, being mere spectators to the present performanceandcalled upon to be active participants in the nextone.26In 0 Holy Ghost DIP YOUR FINGER IN THE BLOOD OF CANADA andWrite, I Love You, Watson uses different spacestoo, butwithout involving the audience. In this play, all actorsportray multiple characters:26With respect to audience participation, Murray Schafergoes much further than Watson. Schafer, in fact, takes thistrend to its ultimate conclusion: in the epilogue to Patria,hede facto excludes the public from the performance. There areno spectators but only participants who are carefully selected(see ch.s 5 and 7).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postniodern 11M/l. & old Richard Sunflower& young Richard Sunflower, referredto as the Red-charred& RCMP officer& war-worker & army officer& hangman & priest atburial service & judge,etc. (253)From scene to scene, Watsonhas the actors slip into differentfictive spaces definedby the characters they portray.In someinstances these different fictivespaces coincide with different performing spaces:CHORUS/FF. She doesn’t know,she doesn’t know .KATERINA. projectingI don’t even know whata sunflower is[. . .1rifle fire . . . Chorus/Ff includingKaterina dropdown on their faces (255)Here, F/3 steps forward fromthe chorus and settles intoone ofher roles, namely Katerina,and then returns to being amemberof the chorus. This dramatic methodmakes it more difficult toconcentrate on the whole becauseWatson subverts the usualorientation points and dramatic continuitythat stable characters provide. As a result, the playinduces the spectators toconcentrate on the individualscenes regardless of their connection to the whole. This dramaticmethod is reminiscent ofPlautus’s farces where the festival settingalso facilitatedattending to the parts rather thanthe whole (Redmond 57).In Watson’s radical absurdity the motiveof acceptance isrelated to complacency and the acceptance ofdifferent spacesinvites complacency about farcicalanarchy. Yet the complacency Watson induces is ambiguousbecause at times he also encourages active participation, which is opposedto complacency.In this way, it seems that Watson’s radicalabsurdity, with itsThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 152many connections to the farce,merely intensifies theties between the theatre of the absurd andthe farce. Besides, Watsonoften prescribes a destruction of plotthat has always been oneof the tenets of farce.27Let’s Murder Clytemnestra Accordingto the Principles ofMarshall McLuhan appears tobe a theatrical response to Watson’s preoccupation with the theoriesof McLuhan during thelate l960s. Written in a tongue-in-cheek andhighly satiricalmanner, it is a dramatic meditation on theircollaboration aswell as on some of their differences.As in the earlier plays,a trial takes a key position in the play. Moreover,this trialis reminiscent of the Last Judgement because it not onlydecides the fate of the accused but it decides the fateof anentire age.The setting of the play is the School of Fine Arts inBanff. Yet Watson does not establish any easy orientationpoints. Peopled with mythical characters, medical doctors,witchdoctors, orderlies, nurses, and student protesters,thisschool of fine arts seems to be a medical or mental institutionor even a prison. The characters and their multiple roles introduce different milieus in such a way that it is difficult,if not impossible, to keep them apart.27To wit, Plautus wrote his farces to attack the genre ofGreek comedy.The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 153In the “Prolog,” Electra repeatsher confession “I havemurdered Clytemnestra” twenty-six timesas though probing itfor its truth content (Plays345-46). Like a pedal tone inapiece of music, Electra’s incantationprovides rhythm, harmonical ground and mood for more elaboratethematic material, inthis case Dr Psi’s extended self—introduction.The mood suggested is one of self-blame and guilt.Electra only interruptsher incantation when Dr Psi provideshis name. Before givinghis name, he talks abouthimself in a self-deprecatory manner(“I am nobody, I am not even somebody.. . . I am not even influential” [345]). The unrelatednessof Electra’s repetitionsand Psi’s discourse may be seen as indicativeof the absurdworld the setting and the charactersrepresent. This absurdworld has the potentialto turn quickly into a nightmarishprison in which Doctors dissuade orderlies fromtorture andphysical punishment not because it isinhuman, but because onecan get results in another way. Thus,at the end of the“Prolog,” when Dr Psi insists on learning Electra’slast nameand she cannot give it, he calls for an orderlyto find out hername just to change his mind:DR PSI. Don’t bother with her. Don’t wastethe backof your hand on her. Dr Kykoku will find outhername. --We can ask her brother what her nameis.ORDERLY. to ElectraDon’t bother screaming. We’ll findout from yourbrother what we want to know about you. (347)The Orderly repeats and extends Dr Psi’swords; he threatensElectra with a violation of her privacy.The ork of Wilfred WatsofiAllegories of the Postodern154At the beginning of the “Prolog,”Dr Psi says that “Thisis not a court of justice” and“I am not a judge” (345). Furthermore, Dr Kykoku and Dr Psi statein scene one that “the lawhas been abolished” (350). Yet throughoutthe first threescenes Orderly Smythe keeps barking“Order, haw-der!” as thoughhe were the usher of a court. Furthermore,the orderliesprepare for a trial by setting up a table(349), which becomesa metaphorical dividing line between plaintiffand defendant.Samuela, Dr Psi’s secretary, points out that “thistable divides the age of Marshall McLuhan fromthe age of the newcharisma” and that “THIS side of the table .. . is trying theother side of the table” (352 & 350). She goeson to explainthe two positions as follows:On our side of the table, the media, etc. are man’snew senses. . . . On the other side of the table,the media are extensions of man. (352)This description identifies the trial of scene four as based onthe positions taken by Watson and McLuhan during their collaboration.Doctors and orderlies repeatedly refer to the ancientGreeks as prisoners who are to be tried or patients who aretobe dissected (there is some confusion as to whether a trial oran autopsy is about to begin [350]). Dr Psi further explainsthat if the prisoners are found guilty, the consequences forthe age of the new charisma are far reaching:If . . . they are adjudged guilty, I shall have norecourse but to insist on a reformation of the wholenew age of charisma at a point where it has only justbegun. On this side of the table we can’t admitC’H.CCCD C/)Cl)-tH’C)CD-sH’C/) H’CDH• CD CDCl)CDH’ H’CDH’HCC H’C9CD C H’ CD H’ Cl) C’ CD CDC’Cl)H’CDBCDH•C’H’H-HCDH’))CDH’CH’CD)CDCDCD‘<H.H’Cl)<)C.BC/)CDCH’Cl)H’CDH’H’Cl)CH•H-CDCDH’Cl)H’Cr+ci-)H’CDCCDH’C><CDCCBH’BBCDH’CDC/CDC’<)CDCCDCDCl)H’CDi)CDCD)Cl)H’CDci-CDi--aCDCl)CH’C/)‘H’CDH’Cl)Cl)C.H’‘H’CH’H’Cl)CCD<CDCl)CDC)H’CDCDH’)CCl)H’Cl)Cl)H’CH’CD‘55H’CDCe<ci-H’H’CD‘HCD)i-CD>BCD))H’H’CDCCDCCBC>r+)H’CD1H’CDH.<CDCDH•CD‘PCl)H’CH’)CDCl)Cl)CDCDCDCDCDH’CD-s•)sC1Cl)CDCl)CD)Cl)C.C’H’CD•Cl)H’‘CDH’H’CDCDH’-ci-CDO.H.H.H.Cl)H’CDCl))C’Cl)CCl))CC)CCl)sCCCDH’CDC’Cl)BCDH’H.CDBe)CDH’O.H’<)H’—CDCD)CD5Cl)“—C’Cl)CDH’Cl)Cl)CD‘CCl)’Cl)H’Cl)CDCl)C’CDB-C-CDCH’Cl)CCDCDC’CDC-CDCl)‘C’Cl)C)(JO.Cl)C)(JO.CDC’CDCH’=ci-CDCDCl)<(JO.H’CDH’Cl)H’H’H’H’C’(JO,C’H’CDH’CDHC/)CD)C’CH’H’‘i)H’Cl)CDCH-H’Cl)BCl)C’Cl)CDiBcC’C’H’H’H’.H’H’)H’CC)CP)H’CDH’))CDCc‘C’CCl)Cl)H-Cl)CH’C’C1CDH’Cl)Cl)CCD5H’CDH’CH’CDCl)Cl)CDCCDH’ci-“-CDci-H’H’C’)H’C’CD‘CCl))C’)CDCBC’CDci-D)r’i-OO.<CDCl)H’H’CD‘-Cl)‘C‘)C’<C’ci-C’BH’H’H’CDCl)H’CDH’CDH’C<))CDCDC’CDH’H’CD<H’C‘CC’H’C’‘5CDH’H’BCl)‘1CDBCl)H’Cl)H’ci-CC’CCDH’CDH’CDC’CCCl)CDCDC’Cl)C’H’‘CCD)<Cl)H’CDH’CD‘5CDCDBCl)CDCl)CDCDCD)5<Cl).CDCH‘CC’H’C(JO.‘si)—CH’•H’CCC3CD)Cl)tljC’ci-CCDCDC’-5Cl)ci-ç+H’CDHC’H’r+1H’Cl)CCDC,1<(JO.))H’CCl))CDCl)CDCl)C’CCC’H’H’H’H’‘ICCD-s‘sCC’CDCl)<CCl)CDCCDC’CCl)..))CDCH’(JO.CH’‘CC.‘sC’CCCDCl)CCDCDCH’H•(’‘1ci-CDC’ci-Cl)Cl))1C/)H’1H-Cl)H’H.CCl)CDH’C’CDI>H’-CDCDC’IH’Cl)C’H’H’BH’H’H’Cl))BCCD“CDCl)H’<C(JO.CDCl)CH-ci-H’CH’<CD1H’H’H-H’-1CCDP)C’C’CDci-CDC’CC’ct’H’CDC=i)CDCC’CDH’i)CDH’CCBC’<CD)C’CDHC-5CCDCDBH’Cl))CCH’CDH’ci-CCCDC’C..H’‘)CDC/)H’e<(JO.CDCl)C..H’CDH’C’Cl)CDH’C,!)JO.H’C-Cl)C’Cl)CDCCl))H’<CDCDH’H’Cl)<Cl)H’CDH’<CCH’C(JO.C’C‘CB-sH’(JO.C-sCC’CDC’CDC..H’(JO.CCDC)C’D)H’CDCCH’5)C)C.)Cl)H’Cl)CDCCDCD5H’)c-i-H’ci-CD(JO.H’H-CDH’H’CH-Cl)C/)H’CD)i)H’H.H’C’H’CCl))>CDH’CDCDCDCD‘CCC’CD)CDCD5H’H’CDX=C’Cl)Cl)CH’CH’CH’CCl)CDCDH’H’)Cl)CDC’CD)1H’Cl)CDCl)CC’H’Cl)CCDCDCl)ci’CH’H’)C’CH’-5CD3CDIC’C’H’ICH’CC..C..CC..CDCDC..Cl)H’)ICDC..-sCDCl)c)1 cJ1The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 156McLuhan’s principles to do that. Thetitle thus emerges as aninvitation to use McLuhan’s theoryto think beyond McLuhan.28By employing characters from Greekmythology, Watson seemsto suggest an analogy between thatmythology and the post-modern. Greek mythology embodiesan unacknowledged Other ofGreek rationality, the foundationof Western rationality.29The analogy suggests that the postmodernis an unacknowledgedOther of the modern. The positionalinfighting among the Greekcharacters (Clytemnestra vs. Orestes)parallels and representspositional infighting withinthe postmodern (McLuhan vs. Watson)From the beginning of the play, Electrafeels responsiblefor moral impasses brought aboutby her environment. Dr Psiand Dr Kykoku reenforce these feelings of guilt beforealleviating them in rituals of aging and rebirthing.Electracould be seen in this way as the universal (and stereotypical)female, taking moral responsibility for her environmentandseeking relief from male characters. Watson, it seems, reenforces this chauvinist attitude of the male characterstowards28The variation on the first running header, “Less molderKlukluxklanestra” (346), signals primarily an association ofClytemnestra with the Klu Klux Klan. In thisway, Watson further discredits the position of Clytemnestra/McLuhan.29Horkheimer and Adorno wrote, for instance, that inGreek mythology we encounter the dark side of enlightenedthought which they defined not as limited to a historical period commonly called “enlightenment” but as a certain rigour ofthought that the human mind applies to its methods of inquiry(see 12-16).The Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postifiodern 1S7Electra by accepting the dichotomyof power and moral responsibility and aligning it with themale and female charactersinhis play. This alignmentimplicates Watson in the issuesofpower and gender. To Watson,it seems, Electra, or the femalehe construes, is portrayedas an anachronism that does not fitinto the postmodern multi-consciousworld. As a result, theadvocates of the new age tryto alter her in medical experiments.Dr Psi seems to take the role ofthe judge since he chairsthe trial, explains initial procedures,and rules who is tospeak. The accused are Orestes and Electra,while Psamathe andOrestes’ nurse are witnesses for thedefense. The counsel forthe defense has to be determined first.Electra suggestsOrestes as counsel but Dr Psi tellsher that a prisoner cannotrepresent another prisoner. Psamathesuggests that they ask“the Company of young Psychocanadians[. . .1to send us abunch of student actors . . . to sort of representus” (378).Psi, however, blocks this suggestion by explainingthat “everyone in the age of the new charisma is a student.If you are astudent, you can’t represent a student” (379). Thisparadoxleads to an impasse in which no one can represent theaccused.Psi uses this impasse for his attemptto dismiss the case, butKykoku volunteers to represent the prisoners. Psi explainstoKykoku the consequences of not dismissing this case:KYKOKU. If Orestes is found guilty ofmurderPSI. we shall have to re-educate--re-programhimKYKOKU. and in order to re-educate himPSI, we shall have to re-educate the entireglobalThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postodern 158communityKYKOKU. and that will meanthe end of the age of thenew charismaPSI. before it has barelygot under wayKYKOKU. and almost before theage of McLuhan is overPSI. and at a time when wehaven’t had time--tothink of what comes afterthe age of the newcharisma! (379)Because of the stychomythia, itseems that both speakers arefully aware of the consequences ofKykoku’s actions, namely areturn to temporality. Theage of the new charisma, however,is atemporal: characters from Greekmythology participate inl96Oish peace dances in thespirit of a true McLuhanesqueglobal village.Dr Psi’s reason for wanting to disallow Kykokuthe defenseof the prisoners is his intention todismiss the charges in order to save the “age of the new charisma.”In this way, itseems that more than the individual crimes ofthe prisoners areon trial, but an entire age is on trial. These circumstancesturn the trial into another version of the Last Judgement.Inthe Last Judgement, the judge is God; in theplay, Watson exploits the medical cliché of the “Gods in white” to havea godlike judge, namely Dr Psi. In light of these parallelsof thistrial with the Last Judgement, the outcome of the trialpromises to be final, whichever way the verdictgoes. However,this trial does not produce a verdict; instead, Dr Psidismisses the charges. Yet the outcome of the trial still resemblesaverdict: Dr Psi also orders Kykoku to perform an aging ritualon the prisoners. In other words, they remainin the power ofthe age of the new charisma.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegoriesof the Postmodern 159According to Watson, media andtechnologies constitute newsenses and not merely extensions of senses sothat he canrepresent these new senses in peculiarpullulations of heads(Dr Psi, Electra), backbones (Dr Kykoku),legs (Samuela),tongues (Psamathe), and vaginas (Electra).On several occasions, repetitions of language accompany thesepullulations.In scene one, the revelation that Dr Psi hastwo heads is accompanied by a prolonged doubling of utterances:(Dr Psi steps to one side with Orderly Smith)ORD. SMITH. Sir, when’s this autopsyabout to begin?Sir, when’s this autopsy about to begin?DR PSI. Why, what’s the hurry, Mr Smith?Why, what’s the hurry, Mr Smith?ELECTRA. (with a shriek of surprise)Dr Psi has two heads!Dr Psi has two heads!ORD. SMITH. (to Dr Psi)They are getting very restless.They are getting very restless.(356)The doubling continues with few inconsistencies untilSamuelaquadruples one of her utterances:Why doesn’t the orderly get them to sign something?(does a short gallop)Why doesn’t the orderly get them to sign something?(another short gallop)Why doesn’t the orderly get them to sign something?(short gallop)Why doesn’t the orderly get them to sign something?(357)Samuela’s fourfold repetition is another verbal representationof a pullulation of extremeties. It is once more Electra whodiscovers this pullulation saying that “Dr Psi hastwo heads,Dr Kykoku has two backbones, and Dr Psi’s secretary who I thinkis called Samuela has FOUR legs” (357).Cl)>IICD•CD CDCD CDCl)> CD•CD CDCDCD CD Cl)CD Cl)CDCCl)CD CDC) CCCDrfrr1)•Cl)CDCl))Cl)CZ CDCDr1CD1F-•Cl)CZ)C.rtrCDCC) CCl)CDr+r+Cl)r1H•CDrtCC.TjCl)CDr1C)CD)ri Cl) CDCDH•—C)riCDCl):: >C)IrCl) CDCl)Ij CD C) > Cl) CD C) CD Cl) CD C) Cl)H Cl) Cl) C) C) CD CD C) CD Cl) C) x CD CD C) C Cl)Cl) CDCD Cl)CCD C)CD )CD CD C CD tlj CD C) CC CC C) CD Cl) Cl) CD CD CD CD CD Cl) CDC) C CD Cl) C) CD Cl) C) CD C) CD Cl) C Cr+C) 1. C):Cl)F-:CDS Cl)>Cl)rCD CCl)CD<Cl)SCD C) CD Cl)CD1) CDCl) . 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Every one of hernineteen heads hasa different age.[. . .1But she has the entiregamut of female intelligenceto draw on--from the moist thinkingof nubile girlmind to the gravelly platitudesof an aged sybil hungup in a cage to die! (394)In this way, PIAI results ina reduction of Electra into a number of clichés stereotyping womenat different stages in theirlives and in different roles. Kykokuemphasizes this reductionand hints at its sexist nature whenhe says, “Every shade offemale cogitation[. . .1from flirt to ancient bitch!” (394).Watson considers the outcome of thetrial as flawed because of its injustice to Electra: PIAI preventsher fromliving her life. As a result andas in the plays from the early l960s, Watson overturns this damnation--notin a deus exmachina redemption but in a ritual of rebirththat allows Electra to start her life over again. This ritualis reminiscentof PIAI: Kykoku places Electra in a circle andhe, the sisters,orderlies and prisoners dance around her chantingincantationsto the sole accompaniment of drums. Eighteen ofElectra’sheads will be turned into vaginas which the chorus’repetitiveincantations foreshadow: “Plant hereyes in a lion’s pole/forit to plant in a lioness’s hole” (409). Thisfirst chant andits sexual explicitness and the implicit act ofcopulation setthe tone for the remaining chants, whichare not as explicitThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 162but still build on the male-femaleopposition and an act ofcopulation. For instance,the “Brahma bull’s pizzle”and the“brood-cow’s twizzle” canbe seen as comic neologisms for maleand female genitalia. Kykoku and theothers repeat this patterned chant nine times,perhaps because an eighteen-foldrepetition would betoo long drawn out. The result ofthisritual is “the new youngElectra” (415).The reencoding ritual also atteststo Watson’s malechauvinism because of an implicitequation of woman with sexualorgan. In Western cultures,this equation is often a way ofdenigrating women. Watsonuses this denigration in a particularly flagrant form becauseDr Kykoku transforms Electra’s multiple heads into multiple vaginasin a ritual reminiscent ofarebirth. This rebirth suggests thatElectra’s head should betransformed into a vagina so thatshe would be coded ‘properly’and perhaps not blame herself compulsivelyfor a murder she hasnot committed.The singing and dancing at the end of theplay seem tocelebrate an outbreak of peace:Agamemnon has declared peace on Israeli.Agamemnon has declared peace on Israeli.Israeli has declared peace on SaudiEgypt.Israeli has declared peace on Saudi Egypt.(423)Orestes interrupts this chant witha long monologue in which heasks Moses, King David, Isaiah, Ezekiel andJesus what heshould do for peace. All of them, except Ezekiel, whosaysthere is nothing he can do for peace, advisehim to take offThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAl]egories of the Postmodern 163all his clothes for peace.Orestes then addresses the audiencewith a sixtyish appeal todo something for peace:Won’t you take off all yourclothes for peace?Won’t you take off some ofyour clothes for peace?Won’t you take off any ofyour clothes for peace?Won’t you do anything forpeace? (423)The singing and dancing and Orestes’monologue with the implicit appeal to the audienceto do something for peace seemlike an interruption of theplay’s plot. However, the late1960s provide a context for the playthat explains the interruption. The late 1960s sawa rapidly escalating Vietnam warand a popular people’s movement againstit as well as an escalating cold war on a world scale.One may think of the Wood-stock Music and Art Fair, held Aug.1-17, 1969 on a farm nearWoodstock, N.Y. and better knownas the Woodstock Festival, asan expression of that era: OO,OOO,mostly young, peoplelistened to their favorite music,which expressed directly andindirectly their opposition to theVietnam war and the coldwar.The “peace”-interruptions, then, emergeas something akinto a more or less spontaneous “happening.”One could imaginethe audience joining in the chanting, dancing,perhaps eventaking off their clothes “for peace.” Anyof these actionswould collapse the defining elementof the Western prosceniumstage, namely the strict separation of performing spaceandspectator space. However, as Yi-FuTuan has pointed out in hisarticle on “Space and Context,” this separationis in sometheatrical genres not as strict asin others. Popular theatreThe Work of Wi]fred WatsonAllegories of the Postaiodern 164at times approaches the space ofa village festival where performers and spectators sharea space where everyone joins inthe performance. In comedies,too, the laughter of theaudience shows their active participationand breaches thestrict separation of performingspace and spectator space,while in tragedies we tendto retain our distanceby assumingthe role of observer becausethe situations represented aretooextreme and painful forus to want to become “involved” (Tuan242)This “happening”--ifit occurs with audience participationin varying degrees--can be seenas the culmination of the farcical elements in Let’s Murder. Theaudience’s acceptance ofmoving into different spaces and theircomplacency towards thedestruction of plot, which is already partiallymanifest in thedrawn-out PIAI and reencoding rituals,are the key elements inWatson’s “radical” absurdity becausethey expand the theatre ofthe absurd towards a representation ofpostmodern multi-consciousness. Watson still increasesthe anarchy of the play,to wit Dr Psi’s statements that “the law has been abolished”(351,377), by means of the ritualistic audience participations.He exposes the audience to multiple spacesand experiences thatrepresent multiple levels of awareness orconsciousness. Inother words, Watson’s radical absurdity triesto decentre thehomogeneous experience of going tosee a play by turning thatexperience into a heterogeneous one consistingof observationof and participation in multiple worlds ormilieus.Ike Work of Wilfred Watson Allegoriesof the Postniodern 165Yet the happening can also be seen in analogyto the playsfrom the early 1960s as an invitationto the audience to participate in the continuing struggle, since neither thetrial northe rebirth solved any of Electra’sproblems. The happeningserves in this way as a preparation of theaudience to acceptthe everyday reality of life ina world determined by multi-consciousness. As in Shakespeariancomedy, the marker for thereturn to a “normal” life uninterruptedby the comic confusionsjust witnessed on stage is the marriage thatDr Kykoku an—nounces at the end of the play. Electra decidesto marry DrPsi, who thinks marriage is the onlyalternative to PIAI andthe only “compensation” for havingsuffered the reencodingritual (419). If we take this marriage as apositive event,then Watson’s allegorical message to the audience appearstobe: sing, dance, take off your clothes forpeace, or getmarried, but the struggle of life willgo on infinitely, nomatter what you do . . . However, especially withregard toWatson’s construction of gender as well as hismale chauvinism,we should not be deceived by a traditional happy endingand a1960s Make-Love-Not--War atmosphere. Below the surface, Watson’s message is conservative, if not reactionary. Whenconsidering the happy ending, one should immediately ask,happyfor whom? Here, then, we can come back to Watson’sbelief inoriginal sin over last judgements and finalredemption. In thecontext of this belief, his male chauvinism canbe seen as anaffirmation of the Catholic belief in Eve’s(or woman’s) guiltThe 1ork of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 166in the fall of “man.” Timeand again, Watson employsmethodsof characterization that transformfemale characters intostereotypes of “female” behavior,whether we look at the“docile” acceptance of moral responsibilityin Electra or atthe characters participating in thewomen’s solidarity inGramsci x 3 and The Woman Takenin Adultery. On closerexamination, these stereotypes arevehicles for inscribing an allegorical message becausethey broaden the characters’significance beyond what theypresent on stage. Against thisbackdrop, Watson’s allegorical messageis that, ultimately,woman is to blame for the conditionof the continuous struggleof life.Thus far, I have shown how Watson’s playsfrom the 1960sintegrate trial scenes with the themeof the Last Judgement andhow this integration serves to communicateto the audience andeducate it that there is no end in sight tothe struggle. NowI want to take these insights into Watson’splays and relatethem to the process of allegorical encodingas it is triggeredby the melancholy of the author.As I argued in chapter three, a deeply feltloss is theroot cause of melancholy. For Watson, theredemption of theoriginal sin is lost. Last judgements and finalredemptionsare supposed to put an end to the sufferingcaused by anoriginal sin, but they fail to do so. Watsonexperiences thisfailure as catastrophic. And hereis the unspeakable for WatThe Work of Wilfred WatsonAllegories of the Postmodern 167son: the collective guilt that followsthe original sin is irredeemable. The knowledge of thisirredeemability is anOtherof Watson’s allegories. Toquote Wittgenstein’s truism here,“Of that which you cannot speak, youmust remain silent,” is todescribe Watson’s dilemma as it represents itselfto me: forhim, not being able to communicateanOther or to remain silentequals death. Death, however,is profoundly unacceptable andhe expresses as much in his descriptionof the “atypical absurdist impasse” (“On Radical Absurdity”37). This impasse, namely“the fact that when you are deadyou cannot die,” only posesitself to someone who does notaccept death as an end of life.Indeed Watson’s characters go on livingin atemporal ritualsafter they are fatally shot, summonedto stand trial in heaven,or have reportedly died shortly afterbeing released fromprison. Because his recognition isunspeakable, however, it isbracketed and the allegorist in his melancholicbroodingfocuses on that which provides continuity.For Watson, thiscontinuity evolves from the never-ending struggle.This struggle is ahistorical because it manifests itselfin timelessrituals.168Chapter 5The Work of R. Murray SchaferPostmodern McLuhanesque UtopianismAfter looking at Watson’srelationship to McLuhan, it isinteresting to consider Murray Schafer’sstance towardsMcLuhan’s theories, which influencedhim very much. He wrotean article on McLuhan full of praisefor the man and hisachievements. Primarily, he usesMcLuhan’s concept of“acoustic space” to introduce a newnotion of genre into thehistory of music.’Schafer states that music-historicalperiods thus far havebeen described according to minute stylisticcriteria. However, moving from one acoustic space intoanother one is farmore momentous and significant adevelopment so that he arrivesat different generic, music-historical periodsand the move,for instance, from the church into the concerthail has a moreprofound effect on composers and theirmusic than a periodchange from, say, classical to romantic music withitsstylistic changes.‘ Although I am not particularly concernedwith influenceson Watson and Schafer, I acknowledge that McLuhan’streatmentespecially of the visual/aural orientation ofcultures exerteda massive influence on both Watson and Schafer. Iassume thisinfluence throughout.The tiork of R. turray SchaferAllegories of the Postajodern 169Even from this terse account of Schafer’sMcLuhanesquereconceptualization of music historywe can see that Schafer’sposition is closer to McLuhan thanit is to Watson because ofits concern with history and temporality.Watson rejects suchnotions in favor of an atemporalglobal village. But Schafer’sproximity to McLuhan becomes evenclearer once we look at hisnotion of ritual in the contextof synaesthesia and its impacton sensorial experience. Schaferstates repeatedly that inPatria he strives to elicitsynaesthetic experiences from hisaudiences. In his monograph on Patria,he points to theCatholic liturgy as a model of thetype of synaesthesia hetries to achieve in Patria:Life itself is the original multi-mediaexperience.Single art forms amputate all ofthe senses exceptone. If we look for examples ofritualized multi-channel experiences we willfind them in unusualplaces. Thus, the Roman Catholic massis (or was)such an experience. All the sensesare summoned up:vision--the architecture of the church,the colour ofthe vitraux; hearing--the music of thechoir and instruments, the ringing of bells; taste--thetransubstantiation of the bread and wine; smell--theincense; touch--devotion on the knee (whichat timeseven took the form of elaborate peregrinationsaboutthe church), prayer beads in the hand,etc. Whatstrikes us here is that at no time are thesensesbombarded aimlessly; everything is neatly integrated.In the Catholic mass there is no sensoryoverload.It could serve as a model for study.(Patria and theTheatre of Confluence 32).Schafer’s description posits a similar, utopiannotion of perception as the one Watson criticizedin McLuhan. Schafer’sutopianism is even more pronounced than McLuhan’sbecause hemaintains that we can achieve againthat state of unified experience in a carefully orchestrated, synaestheticritual. AsThe Work of R. Iurray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 170well, the teleological natureof his Patria cycle (manifest inthe underlying quest-theme and in theultimately successfulquest) introduces forcefully a senseof temporality intoPatria’s atemporal ritualistic sub-sections.•r+r+tjCD—10CDr1 Cl),.C)Cl)i)(ID C)CDC)O)H•CC)-‘)Cl))CD-‘CD-O)C)tCl)ZCD))Cl)-sCDH.O)r••O0. r•+‘HCD0.•)0F—51)-CD.-sCri5-s)rCD)—CD)-—OCl)CD—<r<<Cl)C)CDCl))0Cl) CDCDHCDCD0.-ZoC).c÷-sCD(CCl)CD0.:C).CD0CDCl)H. •tlCD-sC)CD0-5 C00.0.CD-s-sCDC)CCDF-•)Cr*Cl)—-.Cl)(IDCDC))Z0.<H.l)CDCDCl)-Cl)CDC)0CD--sCD0.•F-•CDCl)CC)-_5-50)rtCD-Cl))Cl)CD.H. - —CDCDH’Z0-0.CDH•)CDCCDCD0.-s><0-sOCD 0.H’ H’CD Cl)H’ N CD0 C) CD0CDCD)H )5. C)0. ‘I5’ -t 5. CDH.0.Cl) H’0(C_5(C-H’Cl)00.OCDDq-5-5 )CDODCDr1CD -5CDH. C)C)<C)H’CDH CD 0CD-t0. CD)Cl)H-C)-5-55.H.)C. CD Cl)CJ-H-C’)CO Cl) H-CD*H--5‘.CDC.-Cl)-.)(I)-s<H(ID C)CD-5CD:l)r-)-4)C-CDrJ)-QO)C’)-.Cl)•CDC CCD(IDCDoCDoCl)Z0Cl)C))C)rCCD-.CD-CD 0.C) CH.-eH- CDC’)H-H CD )5’H-Cl)s5.H. -5C)Cl) H-C) H::CD0 _5H;_00. 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CD Cl) C H-The Work of R, 1Iurray Sch3ferAllegories of the Postinodern 172career, namely his many differenttalents and how they benefitthe Patria cycle:3His experience aseducator comes from having taught notonly at the university and collegelevel but also in highschools and elementary schools.4 Asscholar, Schafer has published several monographs in differentfields as well as editing several authors’ writings on music.Furthermore, he haswritten numerous articles on diverse subjects. He wasco-founder of the World Soundscape Project at Simon FraserUniversityin Burnaby for which he was also the director from 1965-75.Attimes, Schafer contributes to the public discussionof subjectswith articles published in magazines and newspapers.Many ofhis articles on Canadian nationalism and on opera in Canada(not Canadian opera) throughout the l960s bear the mark of thepolitical commentator and the satirist.5 As journalist, he haswritten in lucid and non-polemical prose on subjects of generalmusical and ecological interest.6 He expresses his ecologicalcommitment as naturalist in a scholarly manner. Aslecturer,he makes his research and commitment known to others. Yet theSee Ulla Coigrass’s “Artistic Farming: The Many Talentsof Murray Schafer.”‘Watch the documentary film “Bing, Bang, Boom” in whichSchafer explores new ways of teaching music to seventh graders.To wit, see “The Limits of Nationalism in CanadianMusic,” “Opera and Reform,” “What is this Article About?” and“The Future for Music in Canada.”6Read “The Glazed Soundscape” and “Music And the IronCurtain.”The h’ork of II. iforray SchaferAllegories of the Postaioo’ern 173most important of thevarious roles of Murray Schaferis thatof the artist, a complex rolethat can be furtherdivided intocomposer, writer, playwright,graphic artist, theatreproducerand director.Patria draws on every singleone of Schafer’s multipletalents. Most obviously,Patria poses a directchallenge toMurray Schafer, the artist.Because of the genericmultidisciplinarity of opera in generaland of Patria in particular,Schafer’s work requires the artist inall his specific manifestations: composer, writer, playwright,graphic artist,theatre producer and director. The educator,scholar and lecturer are necessary because thecycle instructs everyone involved in an ecological commitment thatcalls for research andintegration into his artistic vision.Finally, the politicalcommentator, satirist, journalist andnaturalist aid in thedefense, promotion and dissemination ofideas related to thecycle.7The multidisciplinarity of Patria and Schafer’smultipletalents seem to complement each other in a near perfect way.In my view, Schafer has tailored this mega—projectto fit histalents in order to keep control of as manyaspects of thecycle as possible. In other words, multiple talents and multiSee the controversial handling of the theme of immigration in The Characteristics Man and his acerbicessay on theCanadian Opera Company’s (COC) production of The Characteristics Man. In the latter, Schafer not onlyattacks the COCbut also sketches a viable alternative method of production,see below.U)H•CCDrU))H•r(Jr4H•CDCDCD.C)‘.)U)rHHCH•CDrr .U)CDCDC)H•C) CDCD‘C)U)-C)CDU)rCDU))H•1U)--eCDCU)r+C)C<r1CrrtC)CDCDH•HCDCDr+HU)-rCCD))D1CDC)CU)C)ri•CD))-U)i)H)C)CDr1U)r0)H•C)CDC.TIU)F-a’ i)P)H’)S-U)CDCDr’D)H.U)r’t’C)C)CDU)C-><SCD-eV))VU)CD-sCDDCVCDrlCDS)DCD-er+)rU)H’U)r+CDZCDCDrC) CVC)rCD-e.ICC)CDCDHVC)CV)CU)rHH’CDSCCCDCCDCDCr+S)H’CDU)ZCDC)CD<D))<VU)H’C)‘1CDU)C)SC5H.C)r+CDCDr’frtCD)CD)CCH’-H’HtH’CHVr<CDH•CrCD)CriC)U)CCC)U)U)CDH’rt’H’CDCH’CD)rH.C)i)H’CD-,CC)U)H’CCD.r’CU)(YOH’CU)r+CD•r-’H’)U)CC)C)rDCDU)D.C)U)CDVH’H’ri-1U)rCDiCC)CCD)CCl)HCr+rlCCCH’5H.C)r+C)CDCCCl)CDr’-r1-U))CDe<CCDCDCC1CCH’CU)rlCCCDU)CDH’1U)CD5CCDCCCDVCS•CH’H’H’CCCDCDCCl)CDU)U)CDCCCl)rH’C)H.H’r’C)CrCC)CU)CDCDU)CDrC)r-)r+))U)CC)HCDCr-t-H•)CDr1U)C)CDCDCDCCU)U)U)V)H’CHCCD.t’+Cl)H’HU)CDCDC‘U)Cr+H’D)SCHCrU)HDCC)CrCDCl)VH’)<CD+r-H’CH’U)C)r+rCl)•V)CCCl)rtCU)<rCH’CH’Cl))C)U)CP)P)CDH’CDH’SCCDH’C)C)-U)CI)D)U)Cl))cHCCCCr1CrCr-r-t-CC---SHH’CSC1D.-CU)DH’D)CCU)VC)CCDCDCDCDH’CrCCCDCr+r>)Vrf-H’rtCC/)HCZVH’)CU))H.)rCDCH’-lCD‘CCDICD-C-)VCH’CDSCC-r+CDrHCDCC)CDCDH’C5H’•rH’C)rtU)H’CU)H’)CCDCDCC)r’irI5C‘H’CCH’CCVCDH’C)CrCH’CH’U)r+VCr+C)H’VrI-CDCDCDC5H’CD)CCU)CDOCDCDCDCU)CCCrtCDH.H’c’+CClCCDF—ac-hOCU)CCCCCDc-hH’c-hc-hCDCH’U)C’4CH’H’C)CCC-H.)5fr’-+<C)c-hr+U)CDc-i’CDH’c-hCDHH’CDCCVCDU)ClVi)Cc-hCU)H’rrD.SCl)c-h•U)CCCCc-U)C‘CDCDCCDD)Dc-hH’C)CDD)CZVICDC”c-1CDH’C’SCU)-H’D)CDCDU)Cc-h<Hc-hCDCDVCl)U)1U))-CDH.NC”C”U)CD5CCDCDc-hCCDCCDCl)c-hCDC)C)c-hCDC4C)H’U)<C’CCU)CC)<C)c-hH’CDU)c-i-U):I)C’)CDC)Cc-hC1C)H’VC’HS‘1C”C)C”U)CDCDH’CHVCCDH’CCDC”I)VCDU)C)c-hCCD)U)))H-CD‘)C”c-hCc-i-U)CD)))U))C)Cr+CDCDc-i-CH’r+Ic-hH’VCCDC)c-hCi)I)C”CU)V)CDH’HCDc-i-c-hHr+H’‘c-i-H’c-f’.CDCc-f’HC”CDc-I-C”)U)C”CCDc-H’IC1))CH’e<CDCD1ICDCIU).U)IThe Itork of B. (urray SchaferAJiegories of the Postmodern 175siderable revaluation and recontextualizationof Patria 1: TheCharacteristics Man.Although these two worksare only seven years apart, whatseparates them is an “evolution ofthinking” in Schafer’s attitudes towards art, theatre and ecology (Patriaand the Theatreof Confluence 11). In an essay entitled“The Theatre of Confluence,” Schafer describes his changed attitudesby introducing the outlandish theatricalparadigm of The Princess. Hequeries Western cultural history andthe values he sees emerging from it. He points out that “the rampant destructionofnature did not get underway until the establishmentof humanistic philosophies, of which in the West, Christianityhasbeen the most influential” (Patria and the Theatre ofConfluence 91). Hence it comes as no surprise whenhe states: “Iam concerned with environmental topics about whichChristianityand humanism can teach me nothing” (91). He discerns amorefertile ground in pantheistic and totemic philosophies, such asthose practiced by the North American Indians because they promote a notion of the sacred which aids in conserving nature:It is in [ancient and strange] sources that we willfind this ability to sense the divine in all things,this reverence for life and death, this acceptance ofeverything in the ordering and disordering of thecosmos, this ability to go with nature rather thanagainst her. We do not know exactly how the ancientpeoples or those living far from contemporary urbancenters accomplished this. We have the anthropologists’ records and we have certain artifacts andceremonies used in their attempts to achieve thesevital ontological insights. There are some hintsthen, and if the artist can understand them they canbe put to good use again. (92)The Work of R. 11urray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 176In this way, Schafer intendsto be an “engaged” artist. Yetnot in the traditional senseof restoring certain socialimbalances, but in the sense of restoringcertain ecological imbalances.In The Princess, Schafer tries to restorethese imbalancesby means of a hierophany, a sacredritual demanding certainattitudes from performers and spectators.These attitudes are toa large extent responsible for fosteringthe ontological insights Schafer seeks to bring about.Although it is not persea sacred ritual that determines the performers’and spectators’attitudes in The Characteristics Man,I maintain that the conventions both of producing and visiting anopera constitute asecular ritual that is just as influentialon our attitudes asa sacred one.To do justice to Schafer’s work, we should dispensewiththe habitual assumption that the term “ritual” is onlyapplicable to non-Western cultures. This habit of thought aroseowingto those anthropologists whose work dealt primarily with traditional societies in non-Western cultures and who coinedthephrase “ritual theatre” or “ritual drama” as a convenient labelfor distinguishing the “otherness” of the investigated performance traditions. As Ndukaku Amankulor points out in “The Condition of the Ritual in Theatre,” the term ritual servestoerect a dichotomy that implicitly hierarchizes non-Western andWestern artifacts:The idea is to isolate those performance zones wheretheatre occurs as ritual as opposed to Westernsocieties where it is practiced as art. (229)The h’ork of li, Jfurray SchaferAllegories of the Postifiodern 177According to Amankulor,some theatre critics reprimandtheircolleagues for an alleged misuseof a broadened conceptofritual that does not givein to that dichotomy:Though experimental andavant-garde theatre groupsmay pretend to practice theatreas ritual, criticsmust be reminded of thedangers of taking suchpretensions seriously. (229)A prominent advocate of a broaderconcept of the ritual isRichard Schechner. His theatrepractice as well as histheoretical writings unveil the widelyaccepted anthropologicaldefinition of the ritualas too narrow. As a result, hedefines ritual asa broader concept that circumscribes the essence of theatre itselfas an artistic process. This inclusiveconcept of the ritual consistsof both the neglected Westernaspects of ritual and the narrow anthropologicaldefinition.As a result, the latter can no longer governthe concept’sfield and we can rethink the ritual context of western theatre.The Princess of the Stars leaves the conventionalstageand ventures outdoors, namely onto a wildernesslake. Furthermore, the work is to be performed at dawn on anautumn morning.Both spatial and temporal setting thus go against deeply entrenched habits of the audience. Schafer comments tongueincheek:It will be an effort to get up in the dark, drivethirty miles or more to arrive on a damp and chillyembankment, sit and wait for the ceremony to begin.(Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 119)What Schafer here alludes to takes place before the actual performance on the lake, namely the pilgrimageto the site of theThe Work of R, i1furray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodere 178ceremony. This experience, he remindsus, forms an integralpart of his work:Like all true ceremonies . .. you must feelit. . . . You must go there,go to the site, for itwill not come to you. You mustgo there like a pilgrim on a deliberate journeyin search of a uniqueexperience which cannot be obtainedby money or allthe conveniences of modern civilization.(119)In pilgrimage and performance, thus,nothing transpires withoutsemiotic import. Getting up in themiddle of the night, driving to the lake, walking fromthe road to the lake--all theseactions take on a mystic if not sacredsignificance. Schaferdecidedly strives for such reverberationsas the followingremark shows:All rituals are rooted in antiquity ormust appear tobe. If they have not been repeated uninterruptedlythroughout the ages, archaic dress, conductandspeech can assist in creating this impression. Whenwe performed The Princess of the Stars on Two-JackLake [near Banff in 1985], gaunt black-robedushersconducted the audience from the road to theirplacesat the edge of the lake. In a more complex handlingof ritual, more elaborate preparation ceremonies, including the consecration of the site may be desirable, but here ‘holy nature’ and the strange timingof the event seemed sufficient.8As the expression “holy nature” emphasizes, the outdoorsettingof The Princess is more than merely an outlandish backdropto aperformance that could be experienced in spite of or even with-8Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 115. Schafer indeed pursued such a “complex handling” of ritual in Patria 6:Ra, where he limits the audience to 75 and treats themas agroup of initiates to the cult of the Egyptian sungod. Ra hasan elaborate olfactory dimension and in one of the numerouspreparation exercises, the Hierophant’s helpers (whom Schafercalls Hierodules) teach the initiates to distinguishthe perfumes of the various gods (see editing unit 10).The Work of B. Yorray SchaferAllegories of the Postodern 179out the outdoors. Outdoors and timingare important aspects ofthis ritual. For instance, the climaxof the work, which isthe entrance of the canoe carryingthe sundisk, must coincideprecisely with the rising of thesun.Yet what happens if the sundoes not rise and remains hidden behind clouds? Here we have touchedon another dimensionof the environment’s role. As Schafer explains,it goes so faras to overshadow the human involvement in thiswork:The living environment enters and shapesthe successor failure of The Princess of the Starsas much as ormore than any human effort; and knowledgeof thismust touch the performers, filling them with a kindof humility before the grander forcesthey encounterin the work’s setting. (110)Schafer does not ask the spectators to participatedirectlyin the performance, yet within the fiction of the work,theybecome more than mere spectators. Once the presenter hasrowedhis canoe across the lake, he greets the spectators and provides them with background to the ritual they are about towitness. Then with a few magic words, he turns the spectators into a part of the environment:I saw you come from the forest,And I saw that you came in peace,You are welcome to our lake. .The figures you see here are not human,Therefore, in order that you might witnessWithout disturbing these actions,I shall turn you into trees.The presenter accomplishes this action through incantation ofafew magical words and carries on:Watch now and listen carefullyFaithful trees,But of the things you witness hereThe liork of B. Xurray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 180Remain silent,For they are ancientAnd sacred. (The Princess of theStars 21-2)The presenter’s claim to turnthe audience into trees can beseen to cause that state of perplexityin the audience thatCraig Owens identifies as initiatingmany allegories. Owens’sexample is Dante’s Divine Comedywhere the narrator is over-tired and loses his way (see “The AllegoricalImpulse” 219,esp. n.43). Only by becoming a part ofthe environment may humans witness the ritual of The Princess.Keeping the crucialrole of the environment in mind, onecan say that the participation of the audience in the spectacle is dependentmore ontheir attitude towards the ritual thanon participatory action:if they believe they are trees andas such blend in with theenvironment, then they are participating;if they do not believe, they remain detached human observers.The “suspensionof disbelief” (Wordsworth) or the leap of faith,however,should not be construed as giving rise to a clear-cutdichotomy. In theatre and ritual, the suspension of disbeliefis acomplex process and we may approach it as a continuum withoutfixed boundaries.Perhaps we can draw a meaningful analogy with the mentalstate of a Yaqui-deer dancer. Schechner points out that a complete transformation of the dancer into a deer is impossible.Still, during the dance, the dancer is neithera man nor a deerbut “somewhere in between” (Schechner, Between Theatre andAnthropology 4). Schechner describes this state as oneofliminality:The Work of R, Yurray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 181At the moments when the dancer is“not himself” and“not not himself,” his own identity,and that of thedeer, is locatable only inthe liminal areas of“characterization,” “representation,”“imitation,”“transportation,” and “transformation.”(4)The success of Schafer’s projectin Patria depends on transporting the audience to a state ofliminality. The presenter’smagic incantation changes the audienceinto being “not themselves” (through a willingnessto undertake a leap of faith)and “not not themselves” (through the impossibilityof a transformation into trees)One could also say that the presenter’s magical wordsenable the individual spectators to constitutea group or congregation. According to Richard Schechner, theatre and ritualare poles of a continuum of performance. Hand in handwith themovement from theatre to ritual goes an inverse movement fromanumber of individuals to a community:The move from theatre to ritual happens when theaudience is transformed from a collection of separateindividuals into a group or congregation ofparticipants.9For these reasons, turning individual spectators into a groupof trees underscores the move from theatre to ritual.Although Schafer frequently evokes Wagner’s Ring in comparison to both structure and synaesthetic potential of his9Performance Theory 142. Schechner, however, uses histerms inconsistently. Clearly, what he calls here a transformation into a group is not a permanent change and shouldbeconsidered according to his own usage in Between Theatre andAnthropology a (temporary) transportation, for oncea ritual iscomplete the group will disperse into separate individuals.The Work of B. Yorray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 182Patria cycle, he is quite aware thata Schaferian “Bayreuth” isalmost impossible to achieve becauseof the changing requirements in setting of his work. Hepoints out that the individual installments are self-sufficient,but, at the same time, hesays that individual parts “[gain] inrichness by the over-layering of themes from the other[parts]” (Patria and theTheatre of Confluence 209). In orderto make the best use ofthis “overlayering of themes,” Schafermakes sure that one canaccess parts of Patria without actuallyseeing them performed.He writes:I have always believed that [the Patriapieces] canbe digested in formats other thanphysical performance, which is why the scores containso many diagrams, drawings and footnotes in additionto the music. The cross-references and relationshipsbetweenindividual pieces exist at many levelsand one canproceed to whatever depth desired tofind them. (11)On the one hand, Schafer seems to suggest thatthe individualinstallments of Patria contributeby means of their interrelations to their status as “closed” texts in UmbertoEco’s terminology. Eco describes texts that aimat generating a preciseresponse from a group of empirical readers as“closed” andtexts that provide few specific response indicationsas “open”(The Role of the Reader 7-8). On the other hand,Schafer implicitly directs attention to what the audiencebrings to aperformance in the way of expectations and assumptionsthatthey acquired from various sources, suchas program notes,reviews, critical writings such as Schafer’s monographonPatria, and the scores themselves. Theatre semioticsis justThe Work of R. ‘lorray SchaferA]]egories of the Fostniodern 183beginning to explore the issue ofthe “advance” knowledge ofthe audience. Marvin Carison’sessay “Theatre Audiences andthe Reading of Performance”suggests how research into thatarea might be pursued. In hisconclusion, he states:The comparatively small amountof reception researchcarried out in the theatre todate has been developedalmost entirely through interviewsand questionnairesseeking to establish what an audiencethought or feltabout a performance after its completion.Almost noorganized work has been done onthe other end of thisprocess: what an audience bringsto the theatre inthe way of expectations, assumptions,and strategieswhich will creatively interactwith the stimuli ofthe theatre eventto produce whatever effect the performance has on this audienceand what effect theyhave upon it. (24)In light of the absence of theoreticaland empirical researchin that field, I can only speculateas to the particular “advance” knowledge an audience might bring to a performanceofThe Characteristics Man. Keeping in mind, however, that thiswork is performed in a conventional operahouse, we can assumethat the various paraphernalia accompanying anopera productionwould also be present here. Among these paraphernalia arethenow customary pre-performance talks as well as detailed programnotes that almost always put the work in question into abroader context. With respect to The Characteristics Man, thisbroader context would surely include some descriptive referenceto the cycle’s prologue and its peculiar setting. Thus even ifthe spectator has not actually seen The Princess, s/he wouldgather enough information from the various sources availabletoset into motion a process of recontextualization.The i’ork of I?. urray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 184To begin with, The CharacteristicsMan is renamed Wolfman.As Schafer explains, “Wolf isthe original form of theprotagonist of the Patria cycleand the form to which heultimately returns” (Patria andthe Theatre of Confluence 47).Yet the recontextualizationsgo beyond thematic aspects. Theyalso have the purpose of changingthe attitudes of spectatorstoward the rituals they inevitablyundergo with each performance.Whether it is triggered by an actual witnessingof a performance or by other means of accessingThe Princess, a contemplation of the outdoor setting andthe pilgrimage makes thespectators of Wolfman more aware of the surroundingsof thisperformance as well. The spectator,then, would become awareof his or her preparations for the performance andhow the dayof the performance changes because of it. The spectatorwouldheed the cultural conventions thatregulate a visit to theopera. Schafer acerbically juxtaposesthe audience rituals ofthe modern opera to those of The Princess:Instead of a somnolent evening in uphostery, digesting dinner or contemplating the oneto follow, thiswork takes place before breakfast. No intermissionto crash out to the bar and guzzle or slumpbackafter a smoke. No pearls or slit skirts. (Patriaand the Theatre of Confluence 119)All of these conventions make up the neglectedWestern aspectsof ritual.By designating The Princess as the prologueto Patria,Schafer turns Wolfman into an exploration of thoseconventionsthat constitute the Western secular ritual ofpaying a visit toThe liork of B. Jlurray SchaferAllegories of the Postifiodern 185the opera. Furthermore, the settingof Wolfman takes on ironicovertones because nowit appears to be a “return” to the(conventional) theatre. The Princessthus also functions asa“tuning into nature” for the entirecycle. We already knowthat in the epilogue, tentatively entitled“And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon,” the cycle will returnto a (or perhaps even“the”) wilderness lake. Therefore,the pieces in betweenprologue and epilogue are explorationsinto bizarre territory.They are the stations in a metaphorical calvaryWolf has to undergo before he can return to thelake where his travels began.At the end of Wolf’s calvary as at the endof Christ’s Calvary,there is the hope for redemption. That redemptionis notbrought about through Wolf’s efforts,but through the effortsof the animals of the forest who take pity onWolf. As weshall see further below, Wilfred Watson reverses thecalvary inGramsci x 3 so that the end emerges as another beginning, cutting off all hope for a final redemption.Yet in Wolfman not only the attitudes ofthe audiencechange with the recontextualization; those of the performerschange too. A professional company such as the Canadian OperaCompany (COC) should have no major problems in performingWolfman, considering Schafer’s meticulous score and its many illustrations, which suggest what certain scenes maylook like onstage. That was also the impression under which Murray Schaferagreed to a performance of Wolfman by the COC withoutbeinghimself directly involved in the production. He writes:The Work of R. i[urray Schafer Allegoriesof the Postajodern 186The score of Patria 1 is very explicitand if thedirections were followed it should bepossible for asmooth machine like the COC to approachit with something like efficiency. (Patria andthe Theatre ofConfluence 68)The COC in all its efficiency, however,compartmentalized theproduction by adhering toa hierarchical structure in which alltasks are exactly distributed andthe participants may nottransgress the limits of individual responsibility.Schaferdescribes that compartmentalizationas follows:I was invited to two production meetings. I hadnofurther meetings with the director andwas not askedto attend staging rehearsals. No one wasinterestedin anyone else’s part in the production. No onewasinterested in the whole. There were no meetingsatwhich the artistic team shared ideas orsought tounify their concept of the work. Everyone wenthisown way, appeared when required and disappearedwhennot required. No one wanted to learn from anyoneelse. The director attended no musical rehearsals.The musical director was out of the country for thefirst week of staging rehearsals. Thedesignersworked in a vacuum. (69)In my view, the COC’s failure to produce WolfmantoSchafer’s liking is indicative not of outrageous standardsofperfection the composer applies to productions of hiswork butof modern habits of producing theatre that Schaferdoes not accept. It shows that Schafer--even at the beginning of the Patria cycle--wrote these works to be produced in a new manner,amanner best described in terms of a broader concept of ritualthat emphasizes the collaborative aspects of a production.In this way, Schafer clearly thinks that the currentlyaccepted model of producing music theatre is no longer efficient.As a result, he tries changing it by transforming opera intoThe ilork of B. 1Iurray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 187what he calls ‘coopera”(Patria and the Theatreof Confluence36); that is, a productionof one of his works should involveall participants (performersand non-performers alike)constructively in the process. Ideally,they should all care forthe result of the productionand develop insights into howtheir individual partin the production contributesto the end-result. Such an understandingof the participants’ roles hintsat an underlying belief ina communal effort and a spirit ofteam work that Schafer wouldlike to realize in a production ofhis works. We should not simply definethis end-result as whatoccurs on stage. Rather, it entailsall semiotic events partaking in the performance. Schechner, for instance,describesthe whole performance sequenceas consisting of seven phases:training, workshops, rehearsals, warm-ups,performance, cool-down, and aftermath (Between Theatre and Anthropology16-21).The communal effort and the team work, I think, circumscribe a notion of ritual that can be bothsecular, as in Wolf-man, and sacred, as in The Princess. The various rituals inthe Patria cycle thus appear as subtle explorations intoan inclusive concept of ritual. The experiences that performersandspectators gain have the implicit task of instructingthem inthe art of recognizing their lives as a number of rituals.Ifthis instruction is successful, they will leave the performancewith rejuvenated eyes, as it were, and regard their environmentin a new way. To use Schechner’s terminology, the audiencewill leave the performance permanently transformed.In Schech—The t’ork of B, Xurray SchaferAllegories of the Postijiodern 188ner’s view, however, a strict separationof transportation per—formances (customarily called “theatre”)and transformationperformances (customarily called “ritual”)cannot be upheld.Using the example of a Papua New Guineainitiation ritual,Schechner points out that, while theboys as a result of thisritual are permanently transformedinto men, the experiencedperformers who are trainers, guides,and co-performers are onlytemporarily transported. Likewise,the performances in Patriainclude a cross-section of transformationand transportation.The educational character of Schafer’s Patriacycle alsoaccounts for, or perhaps even explains, theallegorical modeSchafer uses. Allegory has alwaysbeen used as a method of instruction. Seen in this way, The PrincessrecontextualizesWolfman with respect to another important feature,namely theallegorical. In his article “The Structureof AllegoricalDesire,” Joel Fineman writes:The dream-vision is, of course, a characteristicframing and opening device of allegory, a wayofsituating allegory in the mise en abyme openedup bythe variety of cognate accusatives that dreamadream, or see a sight, or tell a tale. (47)How else could one better situate the setting of ThePrincesswith regard to the ensuing Wolfman than by viewing itas suchan opening dream-vision, a first glimpse at an uncommonsight,or else the beginning of a tale which leadsus in its sequelsto other similarly extraordinary places? The state of perplexity that I described above contributes to this effect.Seen asa self-sufficient theatre event, The Characteristics Man seemsThe Work of li. turray SchaferAllegories of the Postifiodern 189to be a “straightforward” allegory about themodern theme ofalienation. The Princess sets into motiona recontextualization that makes us see the broader,“cosmic” implications ofwhat is now Wolfman, a part of Patria.These implications (the ritualisticaspects of Wolfman)and the participants’ realization ofthem determine the degreeto which we can call Murray Schafer a reconstructivepostmodernist. Indeed, his notion of “co-opera” seemsto implementSuzi Gablik’s “participatory aesthetics” by involving all participants in the artistic event and alsoby going beyond aesthetics in re-structuring interpersonal relationships. Inthisway, Schafer’s aesthetics, like Gablik’s, is not an aestheticsin the traditional sense because it includes ethical guidelines.We should also keep in mind Angus Fletcher’s seminal studyAllegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode in which he contendsthatallegory is structured according to ritualisticnecessity, as opposed to probality, and for thatreason its basic forms differ from mimetic plots inbeing less diverse and more simple in contour. (150)This proximity of ritual and allegory comes to the forefront ofattention in Murray Schafer’s Patria cycle so that the ritualas allegory also becomes the allegory as ritual. And thisritual, to be sure, is not the narrow one defined by anthropology: it is an inclusive one which circumscribes the essence oftheatre by paying attention to the condition of performance inour western culture as well as in non-western cultures.J)BU)U)C)U)>H.UD)U)C)U)BCCDC)1)<CDHCH’CD-C)H.WCDHHU)DOrtCDH’HCDU)CDCDrU)C)r1CD-1)U)C“H.r+U)rt’U)H-.)CDCB-tCr<CDZCDCDH’CDH.Cl)-H’C.e<HCDCDU)DODOH’H’BDOCCDH’U)CDCH’)CH.rH’CDC)H.‘U)DOH’CDH’1H’H’U)C)H-00.H’H.H’)1.U)CDU)H’CD-CDQCDH’U)CDCB<H’CCDDOCDCD:CDH.CD-C)QH•)H’C))HH’)H’CCD)H’U)H’CDCD<CDU)CBH’U)-sCCl)H’B<)U)U)CCDCH’U)CDCDC)C)CD1U)H’CH.BH’)U)CDCl))5H’C)CD))H’H’H’H•H’CDBU)i)H’H’‘H’B1<CCDCDU)DOH’U)CH’CH’CL)U)1H’H’CDH’H’CDCD)U)H’H’H’CH’U))CDH’5H•H’D))CDOH’C)H’CH’H’DOH’CD‘51CDD)jH’H’H’H’C)CDCH’H’U)H’CsH’CDH’CDBBH’C)CU)C))H’HC)DOH’DOCD))CH’CDH’H.UU)H’H’U)H.CU)U)1C)C)CDU)H’D)CDiCDH’CDH’H’H’CU)CL)CD5H’DOH’DOU)H’Cl)H’C)CH’U)H’1))H’DCCDH’CCH’H’DOH’‘-t-CC)‘sCCDCDH’CDH’U)U)CD))H’H’H’CC)H’U)<H’H’H’H’CDCH’5CDHH’-5CDH’H’DOH’H’C)H’CDBCH’DOCU)CDBCCDH’CH’H’CDCDC))CDOU)H’H’i)H’DOCH’DZ)CDCH.U)iH’CCDH’CH’CLBH’U)Cr”U)H’CDDOCDCD-sCD‘H’CDC)H’CD‘55CCCrrU)))H’U)H.H’ICH’H’D))H’DOH’CU)C-5CDH’U)C)DOH’CCCLCl)H’H’CU)CCDCH’H’CH’CDCCl)CDH’)U)CDU)CC’H’),H’CC)U)CCDDOH’C’C)LIDH’CDH’r-i’DOC)DOU)CDH’CDCDBC’CCD)C)C’)U)1C)‘CDCH’Cl)‘11U)CC’CDU)H’H’r-tH’-sC•CH’H’C’B‘rq’H’)H.)H’C)C’C’DOH’)CCH’C<DOU)C)H’CD5CDCU)CC’CDç)CH’C)<H’L))H’H’<CDC’C)CDH’H.U)U)5H’H’HCCl)CH’CD)H’H’)CDOCC’<CC)H’CCDCC’CH’5CH’C’H’U)))H’H’CU)CH’H’U)H’<U)C)CDBC’CDU)H’Cl)CCDCLU)CDC)U)CCD)CDCDH’5D))CDçH’CH’C’CDH’DOH’U)H’CD)C)U)H’CDC)CCDLIDCLC)CDC’H’H’CDU)CDH’CCCCDDO.C)CDCDH’C’H’CCDCDBC)C)C’•H’C)CDH’H.U)C’CDCD)H’BCDU)CDC)C’CC’C’C’U)H’H’CDCU)H’H’H’C)CDCDCDCDDO)5.‘H’CCCDC)CDC)C’DOH’CH’H’C’H’CC’Cl)))U)CDCCl))CDH’C’H’Cl)CH’1H’U)1)H’CDCl)DOCH’CCDCDIICC,,HHHH-CC”C)CCCD)”H-H’)C)“H-e<H.CC)C)CDC)H-CD.CDCl)H-H-“CD)H-CH-C?)Cl)HCrCCl))CDH.)CDCDCDH-H-“H-Cl)H’—H-HH-C?)“H-H’H’H’HBCl)1HH’H’BH•H’H-CH-HH’H’BH’C)CDCDCCCC-CDCCl)CDDC)))i)Bl)CD)”Cl)H’CDH-H’C)Z)C)H-H’CDH-CDH-CeC>“H-H’“C”H’Cl)H’HCDH-Cl)‘CDC/)H’H-CD<H-H’H-H’CD“CCDH-CDC)Cl)HH’H-Z)1)H’)CDBY’<+H’H’H-)CD“CCH-H’C)H’Cl)CDCDBC)CDH’CDH’H’CD‘i)CDC)H’)BCl)(Jc“C/)CDH-H-r+CIC)Cl)C))CDCD‘CDCl)c-tCDC)B)Cl)C)“H-H’H-Cl)C)H’H-H-CCl)H-C(‘)H’H’CDH’H-H’CD1H-H-)H-CD“HC)CH-)CCl)H-H’Cl)H’H’H’BCDO.CD““H’1Cl))“H.t”CDH-)“H-Cl)H’BH.C)CDCDC)C/)H-CD)H-H’CD.H-H)CH-HCH’)C)H-)CH’“C)C)CCl)Cr+H-H’1H-H-C))H’‘1CH-C)CDH-Z”H-H’))C)H’H-H’<)H-H’B)Cl)1CDCCDCDHCDCDCH’H-Cl)tH’CDH-H’H-H.‘H-)CDC)H-C)H’H-C)H’r+CDBC)CDCDH’Cl))CCD(‘)CDC)H-)H’CDH-CCDC“))))Cl)C)H-H-BC’,Cl))H-CDCD)H’H..H’Cl)CDB>H’‘“1CDCl)CDCl)H’CDCl)Cl)H’H’)I)H-Cl)CDCl)C.CDCl)H’C.C)CDH-H’H-H’Cl))H-H-Cl)CBH•C)HCDCDH’e)H-r-?’CC1H-CDHCl)<H-CDCD<iH’H-<)H-1H’C‘H-‘1H’HH-CD“Cl)Cl)‘))‘—CH’H’C)Cl)H-BCDBH-)H’CDHH’’BH’“CH-H-CDH’“H-C)Cl)C)CDCH-CC))BH’CDCDC)Cl)CDH’H-H-HCH’<CDCD)H’C)Cl)H-H-H’CDBBCH’Cl)“CH’CD-CD>H’CD))CDCp-’.H’)H’CCDH-C)-CHH’)H-Cl)Cl)C)Cl)H’)BC)CH’r-i<H-“)H’CDH’H’H’Cl))C)CCDH’H’H’C1“Cl)CDC)Cl)H-CCDH-CH-CD’<CD’S”H-)H•H.CD“H’H-•H-H-C))C))1“CH-C)C)BCD)CCH-H’H’C-C!)CDHCDC)CDH’CCDCl)H-p)H-1CDBH’Cl)H-C”H’)H-H’H-C)CDH’H-H•H’CDH’H’CD‘H’Cl)•)Cl))CC(JO.H-Cl)(JO.Cl)i)(JO.C)“H’Cl)H’H’(JO.C)C/)H-C)H’H-)H•Cl)H-H-CDH’CDH’CDH-H-C)CD<’H’OH-)CDH’CDCl)H’“Cl)<1)C)H-CDCl)H’•H’CH’H-C)Cl)H’CDBCDH’C))i)’(JO.Cl)CD’H-H-)H-C)CDCl)CDCH-H-H’)H’H-Cl)““H’H-CDC)H’Cl)CD-)CH’)-C!)CD)C))BCD)CDH’BH-H’H-CJ)CD1(JO.“))CDCl)C)iH’C”Cl)C)C)H-CH-Cl)H-CDCl)H’H’(JO.CD‘Cl)—H’C)”H-CH’CD)(JO.CDZ“CDC)H’))CH-H-)CD(JO.H’CH’Cl)H-)CDCCD)H-CDH-H’BH-CDH’CH-H’HH’H’1:CDHCi)H-CCDCl)C.H-BCl)ID”H’‘C)H’H-‘CCDH-H’H-H’CDCDH-H’)“CDCl)H’IH-)H-)H-H’Cl)(JO.H-c))H’C)CD‘C)B“H-CH-C‘H-CDCl)H’CDCH-CDH’H’CD-HI(JO.H’(JO.C)CDCD)H’H’Cl)H’H-H’‘H’BCDH-H’H’IC)CH-BCD)BCDH-H-H’Cl)C))H’C)Cl))H’•H-)ZC(5”CI””><)H-CDCDH’“Cl)I.The Work of I?. urray SchaferAllegories of the Postlnoderil 192After having participated inthe first production of TheGreatest Show in 1987, Schafer wrotean article to which he appended selected remarks by ItalianFuturist Filippo TommasoMarinetti (1876-1944) on the “VarietyTheatre.” I think it isSchafer’s intention to highlight a numberof parallels betweenMarinetti’s theatre and the onepresented in The Greatest Showby pointing to what they react against:I append some remarks . .. by T.F. Marinetti .with the hope that future performersof The GreatestShow might find them appropriate, foralthoughMarinetti’s world and ours are widelyseparated, someof the ghosts he wished to expelremain the same.(Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 132)Marinetti aims his remarks primarilyat the (traditional)passivity of audiences. Furthermore, he seeksto destroy inhis theatrethe Solemn, the Sacred, the Serious, andthe Sublimein Art with a capital A. It cooperates withFuturistic destruction of immortal masterworks,plagiarizing them, parodying them, makingthem lookcommonplace by stripping them of their solemnapparatus as if they were mere attractions.(qtd. inPatria and the Theatre of Confluence 133)This quotation seems to describe the aichemical process ofbreaking down Patria 1 and 2 into prima materia that Patria3undertakes. Schafer links this breaking down to questions ofgenre.In a part of the introduction that Schafer also incorporates as “EDITING UNIT 13: PARABASIS” into The GreatestShow, he attempts to situate his work genericallyand stylistiThe Work of li, Nurray SchaferA]]egories of the Postinodern 193cally.’’ Yet he is capable onlyof suggesting a broad andfuzzy outline of the work’sstatus: based upon “the modelofthe village fair . . . weproduce a confection of 100atrocities; amusing, ironical,linked only in the head of thewandering visitor” (Introduction:2-3).In a later article, Schaferis more specific:The Greatest Show aimsto seduce its public byplundering ruthlessly fromthe past, by conjoiningbelly dancers with tragedians,slapstick with expressionism, vaudeville withopera, voodooism withpulpit and lectern demagogy. In factthis stylisticimpurity is the source of itsattractiveness to amodern audience. (Patria and the Theatreof Confluence 126)Schafer here links farcical genresand their performers to representatives of “high art” anda socio/political phenomenon.Belly dancing or the “cooch” was from 1893 onan integral partof burlesque shows touring North America;’2slapstick, justlike farce and burlesque, denotes broad comedybased onboisterous humor; vaudeville was a late 19th century variationof the North American burlesque that appealedto middle-class‘‘ Patria 3: The Greatest Show, Category I, editing unit3: The University Theatre, 27-29 (All future references appearin the text in abbreviated form: 13: 27-29). Patria3 is divided into 11 categories. These categories have headings thatdescribe their setting. Schafer subdivides the categories further into “editing units” or rehearsal units, whichhe usesthroughout Patria. He describes them as follows: “Eacheditingunit has its own mood or situation, though some flow intooneanother and others are distinctly separate--like the scenes ofa conventional drama” (Patria 2 iii).12See Robert Allen’s detailed account of the “cooch’s”introduction to North America on the occasion of the 1893Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (225-28). See also myanalysis below of editing unit C15: “Little Araby.”)c.JCCDCDr1CDCCl))CCDI—aCDr1—CDCl)CDCC.CDCDCl).rCl)1r CCDCDriCD-CDi)fr-t))Zr1HCCl)CDCC)•1C)Cc-i-CD.ic)CDCc-if-a.•.CD<O)CDc-i- Cl)c-iCCD)c-i-c-ii-•Ct)i--aCtCtCl)CDZI-.Cl)Cl)CtCD CD))c-i-<)CD)c)CtCCl)0c-I-Cl)c-iHc-IC:c) Cl) c-I-CDCD><CD Cl)i)H•c-i-CCDOH- c-I-SCDC=S CF- Cl)CñCl)CDrt->)C Cl)I-—CDH-CDc-I-HCtC)1Cl):c) Ctc-i- CCtc-I-CD)CDDCl) CD1< CCtCDC)Cl)CCCDCH•CD.CDCl)c’CDSCtCD)CD)CD-c-I-I--Cl)<C- CDCl)CDC5Cl)SCCDCDCDCD CDCCc)0Cl)(I)H•)Cl)Cl)Cl)CD)H-CtC)CDWCDCDCDCtCCD1CDCDc-I-Cl)51CtC<CDCDc-i-Cl)c-I-CD0CtH-CDc-I-Ct-CD)CDCD)HPCDCCDH•-))CDCDO.CDCtCCl)i-—C/D&CDCl)CtCDCt0CDCDCDCDCDCDCDCl)CD)CDCtCCCtH-CDCl))CDCt1c-I0CtCDC1CD&H•H-CDCDCl)c-I-CDCCDc-I-ZH-)CDc-I-Ctc-I-CDH-H-CCD-Cl)‘-CD)C0CCDC))i-Cl)H.c-I-CtCDc-I-Cl)Cl)CDH-c-I-CDHc-I-c-I-Ct)Cl)Cl)I-Cl)CtCtC1Ctc-I-CCD)CtCDCCDCtCtCl)CCCt<CDCDCtCDCl))Cl)c-I-c-i-H-Cl)CtH-H-Ct)CtH-CD)Cl)CDC)c—I-CCt)CDCCDc-tICl)H-CtCDCtr+H-H)CDCDCDHCDCl)<CCl)H-Z)r+CCH-CDc)H-c-I-Cl)CDOCCtCD1e<H-CD--r-ICDc-crCl)Cl)5,Hc)C)Cl)CCDc-I-CtH-H-Cc))0CDSH-H-CCD)H-CtI-Cl)<CDH.CDc-I-CD1CDCDH-))CDCD)CtH-H.c-I-CtH-Cl)CtCtc-I-Ctc-I-Cl)CtCH-CDH•Ct))H-CD-SCc)CDHCtCtCl)OH--Cl)H-))0Cl)ZCDCtCCtCtiCDCDCDCCDCCH•CH•c-I->CD<)CCt)c-I--iCD)Ct1Hc<Cl))CtCt—CDCt0Cl)HCl)CDi--aCl)r+CtCSH-CDc)t-CDCDCl)-SCC-CDCDH-CDH-Cl)CD)CDC)JcCl)c)Hc-I-c-CDCtSCDC0H-H-CDCtCD)CtCDH.ZCtH-C)CtCDCc-I-c-I-CtC-CcCtCtCDCtC-CDC-))CCCDC-CDCCl)CDCDCtH-CDCl)Ctc-I-5H-c)CD))CtCDCl))CCD1CD)c-I-0.c-I-CtCDCDC-Cl)CDCtCl)CDç))Cl):c)CtC5CfCtGOCDCDCCDC-CDCD0:c)CD)Ct1CtCDCDCtCl)H-CCl)-c-I-i)Cl)CD<H-F-c-i-CtCl)F—-c-i-C-H•C5CDCDCl)Cl)Ctc-IH-)Cl)SH-CtCDCl)CtCDH-Cl)H-CDCCtCl)Cl)CDZ)C-H-Cti)CCl))HH-e.CDH-C-Ct)c-I-H-H-CDCDCDCl)0-)C-CtH-c<H-H-D)NC)CDCCDH-H-DOH-c-I-5H-CCDC-CDCD)CDCtCl)CCtH-Cl)CtCDCH-5HCDCHSCtC-H-H-CDCDH-Cl)Cl)c-hI5C-i)H-CDH-Cc-i-Cl)CCtCDCCDH-CDCDC-CDCl)ClH-Ct)c-I-CDCl)HC-CtCDC/Dc)CCl)C-CDCCDH-HciCDc-i-Ct0c)Cl)eCDH-CI)CtSCI))O.Cl)CCDc-I-ciC<CCDi--aCl)ciCDH-HICd)IThe Work of R. Murray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 195Schafer’s comments on the genericstatus of The GreatestShow emphasize the multi-disciplinarynature of the spectacleas well as a common denominator of itsediting units, namelythe farce. The farce draws thevarious media together by dintof its extra-literary nature. Inher compendium on the farce,Jessica Mimer Davis writes:From the correct reception of custardpies to theprecise machinery of a complex displayof fireworksit is the physical skills of theactor, and thecorresponding visual imagination of thedramatist,which are at a premium. Verbaland literary artificeis simply overwhelmed by physical action infarce.(17)In other words, the visual imaginationof the dramatist givesrise to an extra-literary level of meaning infarce, namely thephysical action. A similar relation of visual imaginationtoextra-literary meaning can be observed in allegory.AngusFletcher argues that this “doubleness of intention”(that is,on the one hand, the literal level of meaning and, on theother, a second level which is properly extra-literary anddepends on allegorical interpretation) is a mark of genuine allegory and generates “a penchant for the purely visual” (239):A visualizing, isolating tendency is bound to appearwherever system is desired, since the perfect form ofimagery for such purposes will be something like ageometric shape. . . . If reality is imaged indiagrammatic form, it necessarily presents objects inisolation from their normal surroundings, preciselywhat we found in the case of emblematic painting andpoetry. (98, 100)The Greatest Show relies on farce and also uses emblems.In his “Staging Notes” to The Greatest Show, Schaferemphasizes the visualization of the fairground: “In construct-The Work of R. ftlurray SchaferAllegories of the Postaloderil 196ing the sets, he admonishes, “itis important to make use ofdifferent levels” (Introduction:3). In his article on TheGreatest Show, he specifies that,ideally this activity [participatingin a fair]should extend verticallyas well as horizontally,which is why I added a tight-rope walkerand Mr.Daedalus on stilts. I wanted spectatorsto gawk upwards at times and at othersto search the ground forshadow-clues or unsuspected tricks and traps.(Patria and the Theatre of Confluence126)Schafer’s visual imagination exhibits an isolatingtendency byordering the fairground into verticaland horizontal levelsthat the audience can scrutinize separately. Theelicited gestures of “gawk[ingj upwards” and“search[ing] the ground” aidthe spectators in arriving at an allegorical readingof TheGreatest Show because they lead toa re-ordering and possibledeciphering of enigmatic clues.’3In The Greatest Show, it appears thatthe dialogicalmulti-disciplinarity or “stylistic impurity” is linkedtoSchafer’s visual imagination as well as to the allegoricalmeaning. Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of carnivaldescribes wellthis multi-disciplinarity. According to Bakhtin, thecarnivalof the Renaissance filled the “low” genres, such as fabliau,farce, Cri de Paris, etc., with new life by exposing themto‘There is also a purely formal and theoretical affinitybetween allegory and farce: both concepts can be interpretedeither as a genre or a mode. This uncertainty liesat the veryroot of these concepts and accounts, I think, for a distinctunease in dealing with either of them on a critical footing,since uncertainty occasions a theoretical slippage that isdifficult to contain in the criticalact.The Work of I?. furray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern197the people’s languages rather thanthe “official” Latin (466).Furthermore, a vital expressionof the “carnivalisticworldview” is profanation and parodyof sacred texts (14-15).Carnival, Bakhtin contends,opposes established genres by exposing them to the laughterthat is a key experience ofcarnival. This “culture of humour”combats the fear of thesacred and the hierarchicallysuperior; it leads to a state ofliminality that reduces the distanceand creates a certain familiarity between humans:All were considered equal duringcarnival. Here, inthe town square, a special form of freeand familiarcontact reigned among people who wereusually dividedby the barriers of caste, property, profession,andage. . . . People were, so to speak, rebornfor new,purely human relations. These trulyhuman relationswere not only a fruit of imaginationor abstractthought; they were experienced. Theutopian idealand the realistic merged in this carnival experience,unique of its kind. (10)The Greatest Show, then, by virtue of its carnivalisticnature situates the spectators in liminality.Also, the term“spectators” is only partially adequate, for atany given moment of The Greatest Show, Schafer may call on them to participate and perform. This ambiguity, Bakhtin says, isa definingfeature of carnival:Carnival does not know footlights, in the sensethatit does not acknowledge any distinction betweenactors and spectators. Footlights would destroy acarnival, as the absence of footlights would destroya theatrical performance. Carnival is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it, and everyone participates because its very idea embraces allthe people. (7)The Work of’ R. Nurray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 198Before, however, tryingto decipher the allegory of TheGreatest Show, I want to scrutinizethe process of reading allegorically.The Greek roots of the term “a11egoryindicate that allegory speaks otherwise orspeaks (of) anOther in public.’4Accordingly, an allegorical readingmust gain access to thatOtherness and often does soto the detriment of a close scrutiny of the multi-layerednessof the allegorical Other. Inother words, at times it is temptingto define anOther narrowlyin order to succeed at the allegoricalreading and arrive at acoherent secondary meaning of the work.In Schafer’s Patria cycle and especiallyin the aichemicalunit, the allegorical Other appearsat first as the unconsciousthat emerges in terms of alchemyand especially e.G. Jung’s integration of the alchemical trope intohis psychological systemof archetypes and a collective unconscious.It is easy toevoke powerful devices to implementa reading along theselines, but ultimately such a reading remainsunsatisfactory forit does not address the essence of allegory.While such readings may reveal much about theinternal intricacies of the Patria cycle with regardto its Jungian underpinnings, they contribute little if anythingto a scrutinyof the epistomological status of allegory within thepost‘Fletcher 2. “Allegory” is a compound word ofGreek“alios” (other, otherwise) and “agorein” (tospeak in public orin the market).The Work of li. Murray SchaferAllegories of the Postifioderll 199modern. I maintain, however,that it is precisely the conjunction of allegory and the postmodernthat must be explored withSchafer.Likewise, it was primarily theessence of (baroque) allegory that interested Walter Benjamin.Winfried Menninghauspoints out that Benjamindisplayed an avowed disinterest insingle analyses of allegories:Benjamin “does not want . . . to know”about thesingular meanings of allegorical peculiaritiesofbaroque poetry nor “whether theyare more truthful,psychologically more profound, moreexcusable, have abetter form than in others.” Heis, however, concerned with the doubtlessly extremelyepisternologicalquestion: “What are they [the allegories]themselves?What speaks from them? Why didthey come about?”5One way of addressing these epistemological questionsmaybe by taking a closer look at the allegory meaning. However,Ido not want to look at the Jungian collective unconsciousSchafer repeatedly hints at and in which he stores allkinds ofarchetypes waiting to be revived in a postmodern neo-mythicalspectacle. I want to displace this Jungian Other and replaceit with a multi-dimensional allegorical Other (which I call anOther) that demonstrates more about the postmodern than it doesabout a rigidly construed unconscious.‘“Benjamin will . . . ‘nicht wissen’, welche singulärenBedeutungen die allegorischen Verschrobenheiten barockenDichtens jeweils haben bzw. ‘ob sie beim einen aufrichtiger,psychologisch vertiefter, entschuldbarer, formvollendeter alsbeim anderen sind’. Es geht ihm vielmehr urn die zweifellos miteinem extremen Erkenntnisanspruch verknüpfte Frage: ‘Was sindsie [die Allegorien] selbst? Was spricht aus ihnen? Warummuten sie sich einstellen?’” (Menninghaus [with quotationsfrom Benjamin] 81)The Work of li. Nurray SchaferAllegories of the Postmoo’ern 200I would like to draw attention to thatOtherness in TheGreatest Show. As his titleindicates, Schafer is obsessedwith the superlative andhence his treatment of anOtheralsoshows extreme tendencies.’6Yet we should keep in mind that itis in the extreme thatallegories reveal anOther mostclearlybecause in the extreme occur thestarkest oppositions.In the first editing unit of TheGreatest Show, SamGaluppi, the circus barker, opensthe show by praising itssynaesthetic qualities (“PATRIA 3:THE GREATEST SHOW/A FEASTFOR THE EARS,/THE EYES, THE NOSE/AND THESTOMACH?!)as wellas the entertainment value (“BUT HAVENO FEAR/FOR I, SAMGALUPPI,/AM YOUR GUARANTEE/THAT THE SHOW WILL RUN/AS GOODCLEAN FUN” [A:3]). Beforethat can happen, however, the showneeds hero and heroine who “HOLD THETHREAD/TO GUIDE USTHROUGH THE LABYRINTH” (A:4), whichis a hint at the AriadneTheseus myth, yet in such form thatit is “we” the spectators,who are to be led through the labyrinthof The Greatest Showand that of the Patria cycle hithertocomposed. The barkerthen picks two ‘volunteers’ from the audience whoidentifythemselves as “Ariadne” and “Wolfie.”At once, Galuppi16As Stephen Adams point out, Schafer’sinitial title wasThe Greatest Show on Earth but he hadto shorten it because oflegal threats from Ringling Brothers,who have the phrase undercopyright (199). Reminders of Schafer’s intentioncan still befound in the program for The Greatest Show whichis a “lurid-looking tabloid” called The PatrioticNews Chronicle (see Introduction: 12-27). All references,and there are many, to TheGreatest Show appear in bold letters and give theinitialtitle: The Greatest Show on Earth.The liork of R. Yurreiy SchaferAllegories of the Postnioderii 201proclaims that their individualmediocrity may add up to something more substantial: “WHAT ASPECTACULAR PAIR OF ORDINARYMORTALS!” (A:4) However,the modus operandi here isclearlytheir ordinariness, which is whyGaluppi feels compelledtoadd: “BUT DO NOT DESPAIR/FOR WE CAN TURN THIS PAIR/INTOBRIGHT GLITTERING STARS/AT LEAST FOR TONIGHT”(A:4).As it turns out, Ariadne and Wolfmanvolunteer for acts ofmagic to be performed by the show’stwo magicians. The blackmagician leads Ariadne toa long box, above which are suspended threeguillotines, one at the head, one atthe feet and one inthe middle. . . . The first bladedrops cutting offthe girl’s protruding feet. The second bladeappearsto cut her in half, while the thirdcuts off herhead, which falls into a basket. (A:5)The white magician in turn leads Wolfmaninto an animal cage. A cloth is draped overthe cageand it is slowly raised into the air. . . .When thecage has reached its position, the White Magicianfires a pistol and the curtain falls. Thecage isempty. (A:5)A C major flourish from the orchestra indicates the apparentcompletion of these acts as well as an end of the dangerto thevolunteers. Here, however, something goes wrong andGaluppibreathlessly comments: “VANISHED!/CUT TO PIECES!/AND THEYWERE GOING TO BE THE HEROES OF OUR SHOW” (A: 5-6). In theaftermath of these events, other artists steal Ariadne’ssevered head and feet and integrate them into theiracts. ButAriadne’s other body parts will also appear throughouttheshow.The .4ork of B. :1urray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 202The dissemination of Ariadne’scorporeal presence throughthe sliced-off fragments ofher body is a key issue in TheGreatest Show, just as the many tracesof Wolfman’s absenceare. Both issues engagethe spectators in an immediate mannerin the fate of these characters.More than that, Schafer encourages the spectators to considerAriadne and Wolfman as morethan mere individualcharacters because they are “heroine”and“hero” of the show. However,the spectators’ personal attitudes either subvert or confirm Ariadne’s andWolfinan’s heroismwhen it turns out that these “heroes”are rejects of a societythey themselves do not understand.’7Time and again in the course of theevening’s “entertainment” the spectators will come across editingunits that focusattention on the issue of violence against women.Let me givean example:In “The Princess of Parallelograms,” SchaferpresentsAriadne’s sliced body:Among the distinguished portraits of heroesandheroines is a wall sculpture or bas-relief ofthefragments of a woman. It is as if herbody has beenput through a meat slicer and the slices havethenbeen arranged side by side, slightly out of phasewith one another. The relationship with the vivisection of Ariadne in Editing Unit Al shouldbe neithertoo pronounced nor too ignored. (D:21)This editing unit focusses on the concrete violencethatAriadne has to undergo in order to enter thesignifying‘One should keep in mind that both Wolfman andAriadneend their lives--or, at least, contemplate endingtheir lives--in Patria 1 & 2 respectively by committing suicide.The tiork of R. furray SchaferAllegories of the Postrnodern 203process. In contrast, the exhibitionassociated with Wolfmanin the same category, “MemorabiliaGallery--Souvenirs ofOurHero,” represents Wolfmanby assembling some of his personalbelongings:The cases contain relics andclothes: our hero’sboots, his military jacket, his pipe,his glass eyeand fake moustache, etc. Also ondisplay are severalbeautifully written but quiteillegible documents:his immigration papers, an oldpassport and perhaps alove letter to Ariadne. From his childhoodarecoloured pencil set, his wolf tail andrubber ducky.(D: 19)In this way, Schafer also subjectsWolfman to violence, but only to the abstract violence ofa system of representation.Schafer structures Wolfman’s memorabiliagallery paratactically; that is, the items are displayedside by side ostensiblywithout any order. The structure of Wolfman’sexhibit can beseen as based on selection, which accordingto Roman Jakobson’scontention of the twofold characterof language gives rise tometaphor and tends towards allegory. Ariadne’sdisplay,however, can be seen to be based on combination, givingrise tometonymy and tending towards symbolism. A decisive differencebetween the respective forms of violence isthat Wolfman signifies through absence, while Ariadne signifiesby means of herfragmented presence. Not being ableto speak for himself,Wolfman must rely continuously on others to create meaning.Aswe shall see, Schafer fills the void of Wolfman’s absence(which resembles the absence of a signified)with a new meaningthat provides access to anOther. Ariadne’s fragmentedpresenceitsCDVSII10WI‘-4m(it<VWI>itId’toC)Id0Id-C)ml0t’mlWICOWSId-WImlWIWIIdCIdWSWIId-’410WWSml100BId-Id.0‘-5-4ita’Id-C.Id-C0ccmlId.10cctoWCDWCD‘4CDititCDoId.ccccC)toI-’WICD10itWIittWWccSmlId-0cca’itWICDCDmlId-CDa’WI10it0CDW‘-4%Z’•Cccno‘-iWccitWBWBCDCDBId—WW‘-S%‘WI‘-sIit10Id.CDC)WICD0%10CDnWI-’0‘CD10toId-‘5ntotoCD10CD•‘4itCDtoccId-4it•ItWIW$WOWId-Wto0Id.Id-VCD*baCDWIWI010Id-iitto10On“SC)itCD0mlott-.iaId-‘-5cc(CD‘+0aaWIitoit‘imml‘on1—0‘-5Id-it‘CDtotoWI10Id-CDto10WI10H10CDnCDita’nId.0itccImsCDCDsI-’C)Id-CD%WIml‘-SWS‘-SOct‘4BWI010lit>“S%10C)toW“SBId.0itWI50itId.W1itlCDI-’10ml10toI-’0Id-ccCDa’it-‘.BC)0Id.C)Wml•WI’toi-’WId-WI-’CW%itOWId.OWWI“SW10•itCD10mitCDmlBa’toC)Wnitit10“S•‘1to0CD%CDitC‘1Id.10•“S0totoml10itWCDWIHBI-’4Hitit‘4BWIId.WI‘%10Id.0CDCDaC)nCU)CDI0‘-5CDa’mnoitit0WIitOtoCD10C)BCD0loCOWICI•itCDCDId-CDCD00CDitOs—nBWItoCD10“SICaId-toCDaH000‘-1I-’0nCDtoId-Id’ccI-’CD0•a’CD“SC)it4%-0CDCD10CD%0“S0a’0toCD010Id.C‘4C0Id.a’040totoId’“S%Id.%itits—icitBWI0Id.010Id-tonCDC)toC)itCDitit1-’ittoWIccWCDto‘1Id.cc0I-’00it“SCDCD010totoWI•CD0C)Id-CD‘4it‘1WI•toBni—’Id-“S“S0b)mlCDWIto00itO0CDa’•0WCDCDBititaId’10%CDs-nwBCDId-it“SC)WIC)“SitOI-’C)nO10CD0CD0CDca0‘S0Id-tomlCDId-ititWIa’0I-’“Ss-40“SBitOtoCDId-toCD0WIVCD0%00VI-CDit•‘CDCDit•ittoId-“S10%CD4“SCCDitBCCDs-WI0Ci-’VC)00%Id-CDccit-WIitCitCDml“S‘4“SCD0itOa’notoId-Id-C)100WI0“SVId-CDCD0ititoId-CD0I-’CD%*:o0WIitId’0CDnCD“StoCOC)itWI0‘4‘SCD000CD%Id-WII-“Sa’“SCDC)C10CDCcc0CD0C)Id-I-’“S10CDml0BCDitWORC)CDnnititmlitORCDa’CDC)no4C“S00.“SCD‘4B00WI0“St.’.00oitId-“SccnORVmlI’-’0“S000CDC0-a’Id-0Id-0I-’“SCDCD0C‘4I-’Id-”SitId’to“S0Id-CC000itOId-Id-mlC)Id-tos-Id-C)BitO0itOR0mltoC)itOCDCDI-’toWIWit0Id-CDCDitCCDtoml10WV‘4itOI-toORt0C)itO“SId-it0-BId.V00toitI-Id-•Id-OCDId-nml‘40-toCD“Smlit•0Idto0itCDId-Wit‘4I-’0it0I-’it“S“S0ccitBnId-WIB>-‘4toC)WICDCDccitCDCDId-mlId-ORWICD00CDa’“S0CDId-“SitC040toCD00a’CDI“5%00Id-i-rtocc0C)Id-CDnit0mlId-CBtoCI-’0WImlccto•C)0Id’CD0W0ititCCD0‘4CDId-mlCD0Id’5-b5CD‘iit..itCDto“StoHnB4C)0Id-OId’(mlmlC)Id-tototo-it100CDWIa’CD0CDC)0itnId-WCDCD0itCD0I-’4CId-ito“SId’•0%itCDI-’‘4•“S0WIs-‘toCccCDBa’WII-’•tooCD-Id’•CD‘4a’I-toId-CDId-BC)U)BCD0a’‘50I—ittoC)U)CDCD“SC)V0to“SCCDi—0BId-Id-0Id-CD0‘-‘to0Id-0Id’toWIit‘1“5itWIitI-CDCDId.00nOC)0ORORCD-‘Id-Id-CDntoa’C)CDId’WI•i-”itHnOa’CDitCDIWICD010•0WIICDORId-“S00%itCD“S•ittoThe litrE of 2. hErrq SchaferAllegories of the ?ostioders 205Ron Muck produces a butcher’s knife andthe three menslit the singer’s throat.Blood spurts from hermouth and covers the stage.They carry her out ontheir shoulders singing lustily,“STRENGTH THROUGHJOY!” (A:27)The three men’s chant is, of course,a translation of the Nazi-Slogan “Kraft durch Freude,” whichwas the title of a socialprogram of the Third Reich thatenabled workers to relax instate-owned spas. This historicalconnotation contradicts theupbeat message the slogan as such attemptsto communicate because it draws attention to the underlyingideology. Withregard to the violence, the men’s “singinglustily” sets up astrange contrast to the gory sceneone has Just witnessed.Such farcical elements also appear inother editing units’8 sothat they may be seen as constituting a looselyconnectedparodical subtext to the theme of violence againstwomen inflGreatest Show. Their effect with regard to violenceagainstwomen is to diminish the visual impact of the presentation.Once the spectators smile ironically or even sarcastically,Schafer has widened the dramatic distance between spectatorsand presentation because the spectators begin to reflect on thenature of the farcical element rather than on the violenceagainst women. Schafer in this way assaults his women victimsa second time. Considering the brutality and tenacity of a18See “Lazzi,” where the Four Vaudevillians performpantomimes in front of Ariadne’s coffin, or the setting of “LaTesta d’Adriane”: a singing head propped up on a table. In therecording of “La Testa” one can hear some spectators screamingwith laughter when the barker reveals the head.The Work of R. Horray SchaferAllegories of the Postisodern 206double assault, Schafer’s strategymay well be deemedchauvinistic, if not misogynistic.The double-structure ofthese farcical elements helpstocreate another aspect ofthe allegorical structure thatmost ofThe Greatest Show adheresto. In these instances theallegorical doubleness of intention,as Fletcher calls it, turns intofarce because one of the twostructures questions anddiminishes the other one.In an editing unit entitled“Little Araby,” Schafer linksthe violence against womento an erotic/pornographicspectacle.Ariadne’s feet reappear in “LittleAraby” in which a malebarker presents a belly-dancer:ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH, THE MERCIFUL,THE COMPASSIONATE,FOR HE HAS BROUGHT THE STOLEN FEETOF A PRINCESSWHOSE VERY LIMBS WERE BORROWEDFOR THIS EVENING’S DEMONSTRATION. (C:33)Little Araby will be performinga belly dance on her borrowedfeet.’9 The title of the unit, thebelly dancing, and the set1--nor rf fh f’ri-ir Q1iccccf fhf cr’hfrhaQhid “1 ff1 i.rchT’on the erotic/pornographic spectaclethat found its way as“cooch” or “hootchy-kootchy” intoNorth American burlesqueshows at the end of the 19th century. Thisbackground is important in order to understand why Itreat “Little Araby” as afurther instance of violence againstwomen.19Alternatively, she may perform Schafer’sTantrika, acomposition for singer andfour percussionists (see C:33).This work is published separately andhas not been available tomThe liork of B. forray SchaferAllegories of the Postifiodern 207Let me briefly outline the historyof the cooch: TheChicago World’s Columbian Expositionof 1893 was intended tointroduce the American public tothe science of anthropology.To accomplish that feat, theexposition consisted of two related exhibitions: one called“White City,” and the otherorganized about the “Midway Plaisance.”In White City, onecould see exhibitions related to“mainstream”-American culture,while in Midway Plaisance, onecould compare that culture withothers from around the world. Allexhibits were ordered according to an evolutionary hierarchy of racialprogress so thatthe Black African and native Indian exhibitswere farthestremoved from White City. One of theexhibits in MidwayPlaisance was called the “Streets of Cairo” andfeatured bellydancing as one of its attractions. The ChicagoFair in thisway banished the naked female body from White Cityby carefullyconcealing it from the probing eye of the visitors whilesimultaneously displaying it in the “popular” side of thefairby means of the belly dancer (Allen 227-28). This constructionof femininity tapped into a discourse on woman that situatedher midway between the standards of “civilization” and “barbarism” exhibited respectively by the males in White City andthose furthest away from White City.20 In this way, woman wasrepresented as a threat to the late nineteenth-century male in20Charles Darwin, for instance, maintained that some ofthe physical features of women were “characteristic of thelower races, and therefore, of a past and lower state of civilization” (qtd. in Allen 228).The Ilork of I?, ‘turray Schafer Allegoriesof the Postiiiodern 208his quest for spiritualperfection. Still, the belly-dancerconstituted no real threat becauseshe appeared as the exotic,ethnological Other:The belly dancer was another kindof woman, whose expressive sexuality tantalizedbut whose power wascontained and distanced byher exotic otherness.(228)And it is as an exotic Otherthat the belly dancer gainedaccess to the burlesque shortly afterthe Chicago Fair. Standardnames for belly dancers in theburlesque were Fatima, Omeena,or Little Egypt (232).In the aftermath of theChicago Fair, the “Cooch”developed quickly into the precursorof strip-tease, whichemerged in the mid-1920s. Allen linksthis development to the“cooch’s” presence at fairs:Such was the competition among thetents along theMidway Plaisance that barkers hectoredpassersby inan attempt to entice them insideto see the “realstuff,” each promising a more revealingshow. (230)Little Araby’s barker similarly blustersat his potentialcustomers:WATCH NOW AS SHE RISES TO THE TIPTOES OFHER BORROWEDFEET TO GIVE YOU A FORETASTE OF WHAT IS TOCOME.SLOWLY HER BODY SWAYS . . . SLOWLY . . . SLOWLY.THEN BY IMPERCEPTIBLE DEGREES WITH INCREASING VOLUPTUOUSNESS SHE MOVES . . . NOW WITH BOLD ABANDON[. • .]ENOUGH! WE DARE NOT GO FURTHER INA PUBLICPLACE. LITTLE ARABY, THE PRIDE OF THE EAST, PRECEDESYOU NOW TO PREPARE HERSELF FOR THE DANCE NEVER BEFORESEEN IN THE WEST DUE TO PURITANICAL HYPOCRISY.(C: 33)Sigismundo, the male barker, does all the talkingin thisact. He praises the eroticism of Little Araby’sbody anddance. His attitude towards Little Araby helpsto clarify theThe liork of R. Alurray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 209qualitative position the dancer holds inthis spectacle, namelythat of the appropriated and dominatedOther of the masculinegaze, for Sigismundo clearly stressesthat she is dancing forthe spectator and not, for instance,in order to present a workof art or to indulge herself. Inthis way, he refers to thespectacle as a demonstration, nota presentation, thus indicating that Little Araby’s body isto be shown to the spectators.As a result, any kind of self-awareness,which would indeed indicate either a taking control or elsean active part forLittle Araby, escapes her altogether.Furthermore, he addresses the spectators no less than sixtimes in order to pointout that the spectacle takes place onlyto please him.In relation to her male spectators, Little Araby’sposition is less an erotic than a pornographicone.21 The gaze is21The distinction between male heterosexual pornographyand eroticism, I think, can be made on account of the positionthe woman takes with regard to the masculine gaze. If themasculine gaze appropriates her as an object only and does notpermit her to be a subject in her own right, we are dealingwith pornography. If she presents herself in a way thatestablishes her as a subject, we are dealing with eroticism. Inhisessay Between Clothing and Nudity,” Mario Perniola provides anexample of how a striptease dancer can assume the positionof asubject with regard to her observer: “In our century, theerotics of dressing and the erotics of undressing appear inporno theatres and striptease acts, but only very rarely dothey achieve an effective erotic transit. This happens instriptease when, through an intense look at her audience,thestripper succeeds in inverting a relationship that isusuallyone-way. From the moment the spectator feels himself watched,it is as if the stripper’s nudity functions like a mirror: hehas to confront himself and his own potential nudity. Peepshows allow the spectator to watch without being seen,andtherefore reinstate the Greek metaphysical perspective, therights of pure theory, cutting off all possibility of transit”(29, 261).The 1ork of S. 3!urray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 210either that of the barker whodescribes her to the passersby,or it is that of the spectatorswho finally enter the tentbecause they feel enticed by both the barker’swords and the display of Little Araby andthe implicit promise of even moretocome in the secrecy of the tent.One should take note thatthemasculine gaze necessarily fragmentsanOther because it takesinto account only that fraction ofLittle Araby which canbeeasily dominated and appropriated,namely her outer appearance2 2Little Araby’s “exhibitionis structured around the tension between her similarity to ‘ordinary’women the maleaudience member sees and knowsoutside the tent and her fascinating otherness producedby her expressive and displayedsexuality” (Allen 235). As a consequence,Ariadne’s feet assume their role in an act that turns theminto extensions ofLittle Araby’s body and the erotic/pornographicspectacle shedemonstrates. The belly dancer in “LittleAraby” as in theburlesque shows of days gone is silent. Anysubversivenessthat once may have been part of the burlesquearound the 1870swas lost when female performers were silencedby a patriarchaltakeover of the genre (Allen, conclusionpassim). The only22Allen demonstrates the peculiar lengthsto which themasculine gaze can go in an examplethat also shows how thatgaze tends to fragment its object for furtherstudy: “At oneshow . . . several regular marks [an insiderterm for theaudience members of strip-tease shows] brought flashlightswiththem. These they used in businesslike fashion inorder to examine, clinically and under laboratoryconditions, what they‘couldn’t see at home’” (236, emphasis added).The tiork of R. furray SchaferAllegories of the Postmoderii 211traces of subversion in“Little Araby” are the discursivetraces of the violence doneto Ariadne. Yet because LittleAraby remains silent throughoutthe spectacle, these discursivetraces remain confinedto the barker’s discourse andcannotenter the realm of theerotic/pornographic spectacleof thetent.In the confusion after theopening act, Four Vaudevilliansperform a “little pantomime”around the box in which Ariadnewas guillotined (A:7). Thenthey carry that box about thefairground chanting “KEEP THEBODIES WHOLE” (A:7). In “Lazzi,”the assemblage of the box andthe Four Vaudevillians resemblesan emblem. The inscriptionof the emblem could be seen in theletter “A” painted on the coffin (B:2).This letterreiterates, by virtue of beinga metonymy, what the editingunit presents visually and what theVaudevillians’ chant proffers as an interpretive quasi-subscriptionto the emblem, namely that Ariadne has not been whole fora long time and that shewould be better off as a whole person.The box or coffin acquires qualities of a bannerbecausein the finale all women on stage band togetherand demand fromthe magicians: “MAKE THE BODY WHOLE!” In asimilar response toan emblem pertaining to Wolfman, all men forma group demanding“BRING BACK THE HERO” (A: 41).In his study of the allegorical mode, Angus Fletcherdescribes the banner as an example of an isolatedemblem that inhis view epitomizes allegorical imagery:The 1ork of I?, Xurra,v SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 212When the allegoricalauthor wishes to strike an immediate emblematic effect,he is likely to use something like ‘a banner witha strange device’ [because]the effect is often militant.Banners suggest .one’s allegiance toa system of political or religious faith. (94)In this way, a banner tendsto reveal a hidden power. Inhistheoretical account ofallegory, Fletcher suggeststhat thispower divides the world intoseparate elements forfurtherstudy and control.23 In TheGreatest Show, however, Schafer’salchemical trope embodiesthis power; it encodesthe spectacleallegorically and providesit with an exegetical levelof contemplation.In her discussion of allegory, GayatriSpivak makes an important observation with regardto theories of the unconsciousand their function in literature:One has often remarked that,today, the humanpsychoanalytical model and Jung’s theoryof archetypes are attempts to instilla real, independentsystem of significations on whichliterature hasbased itself regarding the matterof traditional allegories, in such a way that the theoriesare mattersof belief.24Spivak focuses our attention on anallegorical trait thatFletcher only hints at (“one’s allegianceto a system of23Fletcher speaks of the “daemonic power”(Fletcher passim)24“On a souvent note que le modèlepsychanalytique de lapersonne humaine, et la théorie jungiennedes archétypes, sont,A notre époque, des efforts pour instaurer unveritable systèmeautonome de significations sur lequella littérature a pris appui, A la matière des allegoriestraditionelles, du fait mêmeque ces theories sont matière A croyance”(“Allegorie ethistoire” 440)The Iork of I?. Nurray SchaferAllegories of the Postaiodern 213political or religious faith”)and that Schafer exploits in hisPatria cycle. As a matterof course, Schafer reusesandreplaces belief systems that havetraditionally formed independent signifying systemsin allegories. In this way,hereuses and refashionsthe alchemical trope in sucha way thatit replaces the Christiansystem by offering alternativestosuch Christian metaphors as redemptionand sacrifice. Schaferleaves the teleology of thesemetaphors intact; that is,redemption as such is not questioned,since Patria still envisions the successful chemical weddingin the alchemical unitand the end of Wolf’s questin the epilogue. Watson, on theother hand, attacks the teleology ofsome Christian metaphors(redemption and last judgments) butone metaphor in particularhe leaves intact, that of original sin.Schafer also integrates Wolfman intoan emblem, namely in“Timor Mortis Me Conturbat,” in which“the visitor encountersthe outline of a sprawling man on the groundon which has beenpainted in white the numeral 1” (E:16). Schaferalso assignsthe numeral “1” to Wolfman in The Characteristics Man.25Inits emblematic structure, this editing unitresembles “Lazzi.”The similarities are the metonymical inscription(here “1”painted within the outline, there “A” on thecoffin) as well asthe interpretive quasi-subscription (herethe sign “NO FURTHEREARTHLING” situated above the “bloody handprints[that] climb25See Patria 1, editing units 1 & 3,pp.2 & 4.The Work of B. (urray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 214up a wall about two metres thenstop” [E:16]), which seems tosay that all of Wolfman’s striving beyonda certain point is invain unless a higher power supportshim. Yet a phoenix-like“beautiful bird” also supports Wolfman’sstriving. A number ofwires connects the silhouetteto the bird thus suggesting thatWolfman can and will be resurrectedfrom his ashes.In “Representing Writing: The Emblemas (Hiero)glyph,”Richard Cavell describes the emblemas resisting interpretiveclosure. With reference to Derrida’snotion of dissemination,Cavell states:The emblem can be seen . .. as a hybrid structureconsisting in a chain of meaningswhich can extendindefinitely, one sign leading onto the next one.(168)In “Lazzi” and “Timor Mortis MeConturbat,” the emblematicstructure also partakes in thatdisseminating process. On theone hand, some elements lead toa “chain of meanings” (such asthe letter “A” in “Lazzi” and the numeral“1” in “Timor”),while on the other hand other elements merelylead to a chainof ambiguities or traces of meaningsthat themselves remainenigmatic. An example would be the doubled spectaclesin thecoffin of “Lazzi.” They refer to Patria2 in which Ariadneuses spectacles to disguise herself,to hide behind, and toovercome the fear of embarrassment,yet their doublenessremains enigmatic.Some of these disseminations lead to the hierarchicallysuperior hidden meanings that only thetrue cognoscenti ofSchaferiana discern; every detail seemsto comment on otherThe Work of R, Hurray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 21Selements of Patria. However,because of the skits that theFour Vaudevillians performaround the coffin, the editingunitmay still entertain thosespectators who do notgrasp the hidden meanings. They would probablynote the outlandishness ofthe props, but not seemore in them than a satiricbackdrop tothe skits. All in all, thepundits will engage in exegesis,while others merely perceivethe literal level.That we can perceive these editingunits on two levelsmerely confirms their allegoricalmode. Fletcher says:The whole point of allegoryis that it does not needto be read exegetically; it often hasa literal levelthat makes good enough sense allby itself. (7)Yet Fletcher also describesthe “hierarchical matrix . . . [towhich] the allegorical authormust inevitably turn” (239)--amatrix that suggests that thehidden level is superior to theliteral one. The Greatest Show,however, mocks this hierarchyand provides general access tothe privileged meanings by including a number of editing units that giveexegetical explanations such as the lecture on The Greatest Showby the “notedcomposer and author R.M. Schafer.”26 Furthermore,the26See editing unit 13. In the Peterborough Festivalofthe Arts production of The Greatest Show in 1987,Schaferplayed himself. The manner in which Schaferis introduced aswell as his outward look seemsto be a mild ironical spoof onsome of the author’s eccentricities:“Madame Shelora Guidobaldodel Monte provides an effusive introductionto the noted composer and author R.M. Schafer. For once hispants are pressed.He wears a Tibetan jacket and looks like theaging doyen ofsome East-West cult of marginal credibility.He reads the‘Parabasis’ [from the “Introduction”] calmlyand without looking at the audience” (1:27).The Work of R. Hiirray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodere 216University Theatre in which the lecturetakes place--unlike theother tent theatres--does not requirean entrance pass--it isopen to everyone who choosesto enter.Ariadne’s arms in “Lazzi” blend inwith the other elementsto form the emblematic structure ofthe editing unit. Oneshould note, however, that the “longbox” (A:5) has become a“coffin” (B:7); the presence of Ariadne’sarms can be seen as asign--however disseminatedit may be in its context--ofAriadne’s violent death. Ariadne’sdeath then emerges as agrave subtext to this editing unit.One of the underlyingtexts that points to a Jungian interpretivesystem is the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead thatalso provides the mythicalplot for Patria 6: Ra. In The GreatestShow, however, thistext is not at the centre althoughit still contributes hereand there to a feasible and systematicallegoresis of the show.The Book of the Dead also serves asone of the subtexts in“Lazzi.” This relation becomes clear when welook at Marie-Louise von Franz’s comment on the Book of theDead:One of the great motifs of the Bookof the Dead inEgypt is that the dead are dismembered,as wasOsiris, and must therefore be reassembled beforetheycan resurrect [sic]; they must be put togetheragainso as to be able to rise from the underworld. (72)Likewise, Ariadne in The Greatest Showis dismembered and according to the aichemical trope in its Jungianinterpretationmust be reassembled before returningto the living. All theinstances of Ariadne’s severed body partsin various editingunits would represent her voyage through theunderworld.The Work of R. Hurray SchaferAiiegories of the Postinodern 217At the end of the opening act,“the accordionist, GiuseppeMacerollo, sneaks onto theOdditorium stage and furtively carries off the head of Ariadne (thegirl)” (A:6). What hedoeswith the head becomes clear inone of the editing units of thecategory entitled “Set Pieces.”Schafer describes them as follows:This section includes piecesrequiring a set environment: booth, tent, soapbox,or minitheatre. Some ofthe pieces are performedcontinuously and some areperformed intermittently. (C:l)Schafer describes the “set environment” of“La TestaD’Adriane” meticulously in the full score whichis publishedseparately (as are most of the editingunits’ scores). Thecentre of this act is the bodiless headpropped up on a desk ina booth. This desk is to be carefullyconstructed so that itaccomplishes the illusion of a severed head:The work depends on the effective executionof amagician’s trick. In reality the singer isseated ona stool beneath the table, but this is hidden by twovery clean plate glass mirrors . . . which are fastened between the front and two side legs of thetable. . . . The mirrors will reflect the innerwalls and floor of the kiosk . . . but the reflections will be taken by the audience tobe the backwall. (“La Testa” 66)Walter Benjamin describes what could be seen as a modelfor “La Testa.” He recounts the development of the feastofthe dead, the Todtenmahlzeit, in which a duke takes revengeonhis opponents by beheading them and subsequently arrangingtheheads on a table as though they were a feast. Atfirst, thisspectacle is only recounted in the baroque plays Benjaminisconsidering, but gradually it finds its way onto thestage too,The Work of R. Hurray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 218namely by using an “Italiantrick”; that is, one cutsholes into the surface of the table andconceals the actor’s bodiesbehind the protruding table-cloth.Benjamin says that the allegorist takes the “soul”from the corpses ofthe duke’s vic—tims by not allowing themto signify for themselvesand makingthem attest allegoricallyto the cruelty of the duke.According to Benjamin, these feastsand other displays of corpsesinbaroque drama tie in witha more general allegorical featureofobjects that have to giveup their own meaning in order tofunction in an allegoricalway. Benjamin thinks thisstep isone of devaluation (195).A similar devaluation isat work inevery allegoresis becauseit disregards and hence devaluestheliteral meaning of an objectin order to arrive at an allegorical reading. In “La Testa,”we find a devaluation of Ariadne’shead. We have to takea closer look at the editing unitin order to read Ariadne’s head allegorically.Still outside the tent, the accordionist,who is also thebarker of his act, triesto lure passers-by into stoppingathis booth to follow his presentation.His name, GiuseppeMacerollo,27 denotes that he is Italian(or at least of Italiandescent)--a fact that mightalso be responsible for the27The name of the accordionistis inspired by the Torontoaccordionist to whom Schaferdedicated “La Testa,” JosephMacerolo. Macerolo performed this rolein the PeterboroughFestival of the Arts productionin 1987.The ilork of R. Murray SchaferA]]egories of the Postinoo’ern 219metathesis28 from Ariadne to Adriane. Onceinside the tent,the head on the table does not move,but the barker assures theonlookers that “SHE IS NOT DEAD./SHE SLEEPS ONLY” (C:12).Furthermore, he says, “NOTHING STIRSHER./BUT SHE CAN BEAWAKENED./MUSIC . . . MUSIC TOUCHES HER DISTANTSOUL/ANDDRAWS IT BACK TO THE LIVING WORLD”(C:12). So he plays and sheawakens.What follows is a composition for voiceand accordion thatuses a whole range of vocal sounds which foundtheir way intovocal compositions only in theavant-garde movements of thetwentieth century.29 In conjunctionwith the accordion, an instrument usually given to neither new nor“serious” music, thecomposition as a whole can be seento store the repressedothers of traditional, “serious” music.3° Thesort of popularand “hammy”3’music of the introduction, whichseems only toamplify the verbal enticements of the barker (“LADIES& GENTLEMEN! PREEEEESENTING: LA TESTA D’ADRIANE!” [“La Testa”68]),does not readily submit to music-theoretical analysis. Thatis28In an interview on The Greatest Show, Schafer usesthemathematical term “permutation” to describe whatis properly alinguistic metathesis (“Schafer on The GreatestShow” 37).29See Anhalt ch. 5.30By traditional and “serious” music, I mean GermanAustrian tonal music from the 18th to the early 20th century.This period comprises European classical and romatic styles.31This term is Schafer’s. He used it in an interviewon“La Testa” to talk about the character of the introduction,which he sees as a parody on the music of twopopular Canadiancomposers.The Work of R. Yurray SchaferAllegories of the Postiodern 220to say, an analysis must also takeinto account the circumstances of the setting as well asthe function of the piece.Thus, all the distractionsof the fairground, be they visualoracoustic, have an impact on this musicbecause it must defendits own importance againstthese ubiquitous distractions.32“La Testa” mounts a defense againstthe soundscape of the fairground by choosing the farcicaland the popular as a medium ofrepresentation.What Adriane’s head is uttering givesexpression to theother of communicative speech, namelysounds that do not yetcombine the phoneme and the conceptin a communicable meaning.In following Jakobsen, Anhalt comparesthe sounds uttered in“La Testa” to the “sounds producedby young children in thevarious stages of language acquisition”(197). The soprano ut32All of these distractions oncewere an integral part ofmost musical performances. For instance,it is only sinceRichard Wagner’s initiative thataudiences listen attentivelyto all the music in an opera and not onlyto the “highlights”while talking through the rest. Inthis context, Schafer’s admission that his composition for string quartetand soprano“Beauty and the Beast” does not integrate wellinto the settingof the fair reveals the difficultiesof composing for an “unknown” soundscape: “It may be . . .that a work like Beauty andthe Beast (1980) is too refined for presentationin a tentwhere the cascade of noises from withouttoo frequently coversits delicate dynamic tremblings” (Patria and theTheatre ofConfluence 130). Schafer composed Beauty andthe Beast at anearly stage of The Greatest Show, whenhe was not yet familiarwith the soundscape of a fair. He explains thatin thatsoundscape “the dynamic of the music isa function of the distance between performer and listener, rather thanexpression ofemotion or sentiment. Music is loudwhen present, and softwhen it goes away” (129). Schaferhad first to unlearn thewestern thinking about dynamics in orderto learn composing forthe soundscape of a fairground.The Work of B. Burray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 221ters phonemes that do not communicatean encoded message as human speech usually does. Whatthe audience hears instead arefragments of such messages,but only those fragments that arerarely capable of carryingan encoded message on their own.There are exceptions, suchas “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” (“La Testa”71) or some giggles (72). Yet theseexceptions, while communicating a certain content, remainat the same time non-communicative in that theydo not add up to an overall meaning;thus they raise more questions thanthey answer.Schafer thus fragments the message--ifindeed there isone--of Adriane’s utterances. Asa result, we end up with astring of loosely connected phonemes.Schafer occasionallyconnects the sounds that apparently onlycommunicate themselvesto facial expressions and gestures of the severedhead. Attimes, these combinations add up to a content,as in Adriane’sfirst utterance: she sings the phonemes“N” and “0” in an accelerating and then slowing staccato withher eyes closingtoward the climax and then opening again. Oneis tempted toread the phonemes here as “no” or “non” and thegestures assupporting such a reading in expressinga certain fear, perhapsof a traumatic event of the past, such as her beheading. Yetthe remaining composition does not provide any further clueasto the nature of that traumatic event. Schafer leaves thespectators guessing, and the signified remainsultimately indeterminable.At this point, we can address some of Schafer’s namingstrategies. To begin with, the names for his protagonists,The Work of B, Hurray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 222Wolfman and Ariadne, havemany connotations in folkloreandmythology, respectively. Thewolf, of course, isone of themost fabled creatures in Northernfolklore, while Ariadneisone of the prominent human charactersin Greek mythology. Together, these connotations addan entire set of expectationsand preconceptions tothe ones the spectators bringto performances of Patria and TheGreatest Show and in this way “prepare”the spectators to read allegoricallyand to look beyond theliteral significance of the protagonists.Furthermore, Schaferincludes a number of variationsof the name Ariadne in variousacts of The Greatest Show.Examples are Adriane, Arania(B8)and Aryanee (C18). These variationsconstitute a dismembermentof Ariadne’s name that correspondsto the dismemberment of herbody. Ariadne again signifiesthrough presenting parts ofherself rather than being re-presentedin some way or other.The subversive nature of farcecan be seen in anotherediting unit, “Mummery.” Bold Slasherpursues Lucy van Triste.Lucy claims that he intendsto murder her, while Bold Slasherwants to sacrifice herto the rain god so that it will notrainon The Greatest Show. Duringthe pursuit, however, Lucyaddresses the audience: “(Asideto the customers.) I GO THROUGHTHIS EVERY NIGHT YOU KNOW, JUSTSO YOU WON’T GET PEED ON”(B:34). When it comes to themurder/sacrifice something unexpected happens:BOLD SLASHER. NOW, HEAD ON THEBLOCK.Lucy kneels and extends her neckon a large blockof wood. Bold Slashersteps aside to sharpen hisknife. When he turns back,he sees that Lucy isThe h1ork of R. 1urray SchaferAllegories of the Postriodera 223now standing tiptoe on the blockunder a largeparasol.BOLD SLASHER. WHERE ARE YOU?LUCY VAN TRISTE. I’M IN HEAVEN.BOLD SLASHER. BUT I HAVEN’T KILLEDYOU YET.LUCY VAN TRISTE. I DECIDEDTO SKIP THE DETAILS.BOLD SLASHER. YOU CAN’TGO TO HEAVEN BEFORE YOU DIE.LUCY VAN TRISTE. AN ABSURDLY HUMANNOTION THATHEAVEN CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVEDAFTER DEATH. I ASSUREYOU I’M HERE AND IT’S QUITEDIVINE. (B:35)By avoiding in this way the concreteviolence, Lucy on the onehand draws attention to the theatricalnature of the act, whileon the other, she ironicallyquestions whether the concreteviolence against women is necessaryin order to achieve signification. The “details” here wouldmake Lucy van Triste’sfate more comparable to Ariadne’s becauseBold Slasher intendsto kill her by cutting off her head. Bynot entering the signifying process through fragmentation,Lucy van Triste pointsto an alternative, namely, that anOther can alsosignify bymeans of solidarity between performersand spectators. Thus atthe end, van Triste again addresses theaudience:AND SINCE IT IS ALL IN THE SPIRITOF FUN, LET’S PUTBOLD SLASHER HERE ON THE RUN. JOIN MY HANDAND CHASEHIM AWAY, SO WE CAN PLAY. (B:36)The “SPIRIT OF FUN,” then, seems to be the keyto achievingthis alternative. It equals a carnivalesque upheavalin whichthe actor breaks the theatrical convention of playinga role insuch a way that she is avoiding the character’sprescribedfate, while also including the audience in the theatricalworld.While parading Ariadne’s coffin throughthe fairground,the Four Vaudevillians perform intermittentlya tragic farceThe Work of I?. 1urray SchaferAllegories of the Postraoderii 224entitled “Looking.” The underlyingnotion of the absurd in“Looking” leads me to compareit to the theatre of the absurdas Esslin described it. Eugene lonesco,who coined the term“farce tragique” in thesubtitle to his play Les Chaises(1952), and Samuel Beckett broughtfarce and tragedy together.Their familiar formula wasto undercut the farcical by makingthe characters of their plays tragicallyself-aware of theirhopeless existential situation. Aformal means for achievingthis is the interruption of actionand dialogue by frequentsilences that prevent continuouslaughter and give rise to anironic subtext. This subtext directsthe play towards an anticlimax that frustrates the audience’srelief at the expectedfarcical apex and leads toa self-conscious laughter. We findsimilar strategies in “Looking.”Conveying a sense of directionlessness, the action anddialogue appear hesitant andrepetitive throughout. Frequentpauses also interrupt the action and dialogue. I quoteat length from the beginning of“Looking” to convey the qualities ofthe dialogue:FIRST. AH, HERE YOU ARE.SECOND. YES, HERE I AM.FIRST. SOMEHOW, I KNEW YOU’DBE HERE.SECOND. YES, HERE I AM.FIRST. YOU’RE NOT IN A RUSH?SECOND. NO, NO RUSH.FIRST. YOU DON’T LOOK RUSHED.SECOND. NO, NO RUSH. HOW MUCH TIMEDO WE HAVE?FIRST. NOT MUCH TIME.SECOND. THEN WE BETTER GET STARTED.FIRST. RIGHT.PauseFIRST. STARTED AT WHAT?SECOND. Looking at First knowinglyYOU KNOW.FIRST. OH! THEN WE’D BETTER GET STARTED.The Work of B. Hurray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 225SECOND. RIGHT!FIRST. RIGHT!PauseSECOND. THAT’S WHAT YOU WANTED,WASN’T IT?FIRST. OF COURSE, DON’T YOU?SECOND. OF’ COURSE.FIRST. RIGHT, THEN LET’S GET STARTED.I HAVEN’TMUCH TIME.SECOND. IT SHOULDN’TTAKE LONG.FIRST. NO IT SHOULDN’T.SECOND. ONCE WE GETSTARTED.FIRST. ONCE WE GET STARTED.SECOND. READY THEN?FIRST. READY.Pause (B:13-14)Beckett’s Waiting ForGodot (1954) bearing the genericsubtitle “a tragicomedyt’isperhaps the best known tragic farceof the 20th century. In “Looking,”one finds a short spielthat ironically diminishes the existentialseriousness of theact of waiting implied in Beckett’splay. Schafer achievesthis diminishment by capitalizing on the comicconfusion deriving from the different meanings of thedifferent prepositionalexpressions (“wait for” and “wait on”). Furthermore,heemphasizes not the act of waiting itself butthe place whereone is waiting:The Fourth Vaudevillian enters.FOURTH. HULLO.SECOND. HULLO.FIRST. HULLO.THIRD. WE WERE WAITING FOR YOU.SECOND. I HATE WAITING.FIRST. ESPECIALLY ON OTHERS.THIRD. I DON’T MIND WAITING ON MYSELF.FOURTH. I DON’T MIND WAITING ON ANYBODY.FIRST. BUT YOU WEREN’T WAITING.FOURTH. I WAS WAITING OVER THERE.FIRST. THAT’S THE WRONG PLACE TO WAIT.FOURTH. THAT’S NOT A WAITING PLACE?FIRST. THIS IS THE WAITING PLACE.THIRD. THAT’S WHY WE WERE WAITINGHERE.SECOND. IF YOU HAVE TO WAIT, IT MIGHTAS WELL BE INThe k’ork of R. Norray SchaferAllegories of the Postmoderii 226THE RIGHT PLACE.THIRD. THERE ARE RIGHT PLACESAND WRONG PLACES.FIRST. THE WORLD IS FULL OFTHEM.FOURTH. I’LL TRY TO BE INTHE RIGHT PLACE.The Fourth Vaudevillian looks aroundfor a placeand then stands there. (B:l7)While thus pointlessly, it seems, chattingand waiting, theFour Vaudevillians are lookingat the ones who are lookingatthem and present themselvesas a mirror image of the spectators. At the meeting of the Vaudevillians’and the spectators’ gazes, the sketch proffersanother level of perceptionand becomes allegorical and didacticbecause the absurdity ofthe tragic farce mirrors the absurdityof the spectators’ efforts to make sense of the experienceof the village fair. Thesketch thus intensifies theself-consciousness of the spectators and of their effortsto arrange their experiences intoacoherent mental image.33 The glitterand promised excitementof the fairground incite the spectatorsas well as theVaudevillians to look for something,although no one is quitesure as to what this “something” is:THIRD. WHAT ARE WE DOING?FIRST/SECOND. LOOKING.THIRD. LOOKING AT WHAT?SECOND. JUST LOOKING.33The spectators’ efforts arebased upon a mirror imageand are reminiscent of Jacques Lacan’snotion that seeing acoherent mirror image of ourselvesprompts us to enter into thesignifying triangle ofrepresentation/domination. I suggestthat what is happening to the spectatorsin “Looking” can beseen as analogous to Lacan’s notion. Bylooking at a coherentrepresentation of themselves, thespectators are able to form acoherent mental image of themselves.Then they can take thatimage as a starting point from whichto branch out in order tounderstand (or dominate) other “chaotic”events of the show.The tork of B. ‘forray SchaferAllegories of the Postinodern 227The First and Second Vaudevillians lookout. TheThird begins to look too, then despairs.THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING.The First and Second Vaudevilliancontinue tolook.THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING.FIRST. ImpatientlyYOU WON’T SEE ANYTHING IFYOU CHATTER ALL THETIME.THIRD. BUT YOU HAVEN’T TOLD MEWHAT WE’RE LOOKINGFOR.SECOND. YOU OUGHT TO KNOW. (B:14-15)All actions in “Looking” are initiallyquestioned andremain ultimately unmotivated and suspendedin inaction. Atthe fair, everyone realizes sooner orlater that there is nothing to be found. As Schafer says:Here was a very special ritual--completelywithout asense of striving, and promising no rewards.Youwandered about amused and amazed, neversure whetheryou were there to be entertained or entertaining. . . . The fair conformed perfectlyto the rulesof capitalism and democracy: it tossed everyoneintothe limelight for two minutes and charged forthethrill. (Introduction:2)The “thrill” is the satisfying climax ofthe village fair.This thrill is always in the air, as it were,but it nevermaterializes. As in the fair, the status of the“climax” in“Looking” is utterly ambiguous. Striving to reachthat climax,the Four Vaudevillians (as well as the spectators of the fair)may attain at first some inside knowledge throughcriticalreflection and insight, or they may per chancerun into someonewho reluctantly reveals to them such knowledge,as is the casewith the Vaudevillians:FOURTH. DOES THE PERSON WE’RE LOOKING FOR HAVEANAME?SECOND. OF COURSE. EVERYBODY HAS A NAME.THIRD. THEN WHAT’S THE NAME?The k1ork of B. Nurray Schafer Allegoriesof the Postinodern 228The Second Vaudevillian turns away,pauses, thenblurts out quickly.SECOND. WOLFMAN. (B:19)What the Vaudevillians learn, the audiencelearns becausethe former are the mirror image of thelatter. But Schaferreserves the climax for the privilegedfew who happen to belucky enough to be in the right placeat the right time:They form themselves intoa square, back to back andlook out again. . . . Thesquare rotates. .They continue looking. TheFourth Vaudevillian evidently sees someone. She beginsto smile, waves,blows a kiss. Then thesquare rotates again and sheloses sight. (B:20-21,stage direction)But even this climax disintegratesbecause one does not knowwhat happened and if it happenedat all. The ensuing conversation throws the spectators back to squareone, as it were, because, when rigorously questioned, theFourth Vaudevilliandenies having seen anything. The allegoryof this editing unitthus tells the spectators that theyare in the same position asthe absurd Vaudevillians and thatthey must begin looking forthe vanished Wolfman. Finally, theassemblage of the Vaudevilhans dissolves the same wayas it came about; they leave oneby one, just like the audience willdisperse once the fair isover.“Looking” also demonstrates how theaudience reaches anoutsider’s perspective on their ownposition, namely by presenting a mirror image to the audience.Through allegory anddidacticism, the audience graduallycomes to understand theirown liminahity.The Work of A’. urray SchaferAllegories of the Postniodern 229In other acts related to the absent Wolfman,Schaferprovides parts of Wolfman’s story as it hashitherto emerged inthe Patria cycle. For instance, in“The Characteristics Man,”a character named Rodney Livermash Bashford observes“ANOTHERWORLD--THE ONE THAT MOVES JUST ANINSTANT OUT OF PHASE WITHTHIS ONE” (D:12) where he observesa production of The Characteristics Man and provides a scene-by-scene plotsummary toeveryone who happens to be near him. Under anotherpretext,that of the “Missing Persons Bureau,”an official who amiablychats with those entering his booth gives(but occasionallyalso asks for) a description of Wolfman(D:16-18). Significantly, it is Wolfman’s possessionsor representations ofhim that trigger these descriptionsand “stories,” whileAriadne must proffer her body partsto relate something.Not only does the opening act of The GreatestShow set thestage for the spectacle to follow, but it also initializesanallegorical discourse on gender relations.As this discourseprogresses through The Greatest Show, wesee how time and againSchafer assaults Ariadne and forces her--and withher thefeminine--into signifying through a fragmented presencethatnonetheless confirms her silence, while he permits Wolfman--andwith him the masculine--to signify through absencethat isstill capable of speaking (of) his fate. With regardtoAriadne’s fragmented body, one shouldtake into account the allegorical tradition that tried to disposeof the suspicioussensuality of the body by integrating itas corpse into the emblem.The Work of B. turray SchaferAiiegories of the Postmodern 230In his treatise on baroque allegory, WalterBenjaminpoints to this emblematical trait:And because the fear of demons madethe suspiciouscorporeality appear especially confining,one approached as early as in the medievalages its emblematical normalization. . . .Only when in deaththe spirit becomes spiritually free,does the bodyachieve its highest right.Because it is self-evident: the allegorizationof the physique can onlysucceed energetically withthe corpse.34Ariadne’s body too attains itsright only in death. As Benjamin reminds us, from the perspectiveof death, producing thecorpse is life itself, fordead matter leaves the body piecebypiece in the natural processesof decay, defecation and cleansing (194). However, Ariadne’scorpse (and what remains of itscattered through The GreatestShow) is not the result of natural processes but of acts of violence.Both that violence--which recurs in various guises and isalways a violence againstwomen--and the integration of some of Ariadne’scorporeal fragments in emblematic structuresdemonstrate certain aspects ofthe signifying process to whichAriadne must adhere in order tosignify at all. For once she is ableto signify as woman, butshe has to pay a high price to doso: she must suffer mutila“Und weil durch die Dämonenangst dieverdachtigeLeiblichkeit ganz besonders bekiemmenderscheinen muf3, so istman schon im Mittelalter radikalan ihre emblematische Bewältigung gegangen. . . . Wenn dannim Tode der Geist aufGeisterweise frei wird, so kommtauch nun der Korper erst zuseinem höchsten Recht. Denn vonselbst versteht sich: die Allegorisierung der Physis kannnur an der Leiche sich energischdurchsetzen” (193, 197).The It’ork of R. furray SchaferA]]egories of the Postmodern 231tion at the hands of male characters.Her remains speak of theviolence she had to undergoto signify in the first place.At this point, let me broaden my discussionof the issuesof gender and power in order toprepare for an evaluation ofSchafer’s allegorical methodas it emerges in The GreatestShow.The concrete violence directedagainst Ariadne does notpermit an allegorical doublenessbecause the literal here isessentially mimetic: countlesswomen in contemporary societyobtain restraining orders fromthe law courts to hold abusive(ex-)boyfriends and (ex-)husbandsin check. Yet to society,these women become only significantwhen they make headlines asvictims: murdered or mutilated or raped.Once they signify inthat manner, the only issue seems tobe the violence, not thecircumstances that led to it in thefirst place. The discourseabout such cases in this way often re-subordinatesthe victimsof violence to the masculine gaze, whichobjectifies abusedwomen into yet another spectacleto be scrutinized for perversepleasure. Analogous to that pleasure--derivedas much from thespectacle as from the power it has over women--isthe re-subordination of the acts dealing withAriadne’s body parts undermale barkers who present them to the audience.Thus Schaferagain restricts her power of significationas woman by reintegrating it into a structure of discoursein which man speaksfor woman. Any other message she might have hadis lost due tothis authorized restriction that compels herto tell only onething, namely that she was violatedbut not by whom or why.The Work of R. furray SchaferAllegories of the Postmodern 232Wolfman’s absence, on the otherhand, indicates a signifying process that is based on anentirely different economy.Wolfman is able to direct allegoricallythe recipient’s effortsto construct a narrative that representshis previous existenceas it emerged in Patria. Moreover, Schaferintegrates Wolfmanin a different manner into emblematicstructures. These differences signal a pattern of genderdifference in which Schaferforms the key concepts accordingto rigid dichotomies, such asabsence - presence, wholeness - fragmentation,life - death,power - vulnerability, outside - inside,etc.The most important of these dichotomies(because it has aninfluence on most of the others) isthe power - vulnerabilitydichotomy. The fact that Schaferallocates power to Wolfmanand vulnerability to Ariadne implicates Schaferdirectly in theissues of gender and power. It is theauthor who allocatespower and vulnerability to Woifman andAriadne respectively,and it is the author who determineshow gender is construed inhis work. “Little Araby” is a striking exampleof how Schafersubordinates the female dancer tothe male barker in the nameof a historical tradition that has exploitedfemale dancers asOthers on two levels: on the one handas women and on the otherbecause they had to impersonate another “exotic”culture.Schafer offers no critique of sucha one-dimensional gender construction; quite on the contrary,he seems to endorse itwhole-heartedly. The alchemical allegoryunderlying Patria 1to 4 in my view confirms this endorsementbecause it embracesThe Ilork of S. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postriodern233some of the same dichotomies and construes genderin a similarly traditional way with the male going ona quest for the female, or, if one approaches Schafer’s drama ona psychologicalfooting, the male going on a quest for his female“counterpartsoul.” The issues of gender and power are at the heartof thecycle so that Schafer’s male chauvinism is discerniblethroughout Patria. Schafer’s reconstructive postmodernism,at leastwith regard to gender and power, seemsto bracket the post inthe post-modern and emphasizes modern waysof construing gender. As I argued in chapter 3, reconstructive postmodernismisideally based on correspondences and not on differenceswhichare the trademark of the modern. Schafer’s stance ongenderconstruction brings his project into disreputeat a level thatis fundamental to a true “participatory aesthetics”because itprevents Ariadne (or the female) from participatingon a parwith Wolfman (or the male). Her status does not correspondtohis, but it is construed in terms of difference,which is whyPatria remains caught in modern ways of thinking.234Chapter 6Left in a MazeIn this chapter, I want to show how bothauthors employriddles and riddle-like works to representand to present a microcosm of their large-scale theatrical allegories.The distinction between representationand presentation is crucial forunderstanding how the authors use non-performativeworks toprepare their audiences for their theatres.The deferral ofmeaning in allegory is also an important issuebecause itdelineates the authors’ attempts to circumventthe limitationsof the postmodern condition by creating a practicethat theaudience can include in their lives. Watson’sriddles andSchafer’s riddle-like works approach performativestatus inwhich the work does not merely represent somefictional experience to the recipient but presents an experience where therecipient actively participates in or performsthe work.Left in a (aze Allegoriesof the Postinoo’ern 235Allegories of Riddling:Labyrinths of Allegories:Schafer’s LabyrintheatreIn his “graphicnovels,!?*Dicamus etLabyrinthos: APhilologist’s NotebookandAriadne,**MurraySchafer casts himself inthe role of a guide whowill lead his readerssafely through a numberof graphical and intellectual labyrinths.I want to argue thatSchafer’s graphic novelsThe term is Schafer’s, see theblurb on Ariadne in the catalogue of his‘Arcana Editions’ (np).**Schafer had this text privatelyprinted under the title Smoke in 1976,Except for the title, Ariadne and Smokeare identical. All references are toAriadne.Wilfred Watson’s RiddlesWilfred Watson’s Poems: Collected/Unpublished / New begins and ends in riddles.I contend that Watson deliberately frameshis collection in this way in ordertoemphasize a general tendency in his work,namely his ambition to take the readerfrompassive observation to a ritualistic, activeparticipation. Two features of Watson’sriddles help him to accomplish his ambition.First, he maximizes personification,a feature that is responsible for the allegoricalthrust in his riddles. Secondly, he usesthe performative nature of riddling and extends it by means of his Number Grid Notation. Allegorical thrust and performativenature of the riddles turn them into tropesfor reading Watson’s other work, especiallysome of his allegorical plays.Poems begins with a section entitled“Three Riddles for Gillian Espinasse: sagahwaet ic hatte.” The three riddles announceLeft in a Iaze4]]egories of the Postmodern 236provide a microcosm ofhis allegorical work because they introduce hisreaders to both structures and themes of thePatria cycle.Schafer’s term“graphic novel” is perhaps the most adequategeneric description thatcan be found for thesetwo works. The Latin“graphicus” means “ofpainting and drawing”and, indeed, Schaferdrew both booksmeticulously in ink andpublished them as facsimiles. Furthermore,Schafer employs calligraphy rather thantypography. Thecuriosity of encountering (reproduced) handwriting in Schafer’stheir solution in their title. Watsoninthis way undermines one effect of theriddleby stressing another in that the riddleesdonot engage in guessing the solution so muchas in recapitulating, perhaps even admiring,Watson’s skill in hiding the solution. Thisrecapitulation is in sync with the role ofthe riddler as a guide through “unknown”territory. Yet one should keep in mindthatthis guide has also created the unknownterritory including its ruses. Here is thefirst riddle:The CandleNight kindles me and calls to light my floweryet this my glory must my life devour.My blossom gluts’ upon a stalk of flax,consumes my fatness; there dwindles in mesubstance not mine, anothers prosperity.This is my one boast, My bones of waxa summer’s sun will break; and yet a sunI call myself, though my high noonis night. A puff of wind my brilliancewill gut, or turn it to a madman’s dance.By me, let all mankind behold their frame;I measure darkness with a little flame. (Poems5)Watson extends the metaphor of the flower inline 3 to include blossom and stalk, orflame and wick respectively. However, heleaves this extended metaphor behind in favor of another one depicting the candle in* guts in Poems seems to be a typesetting error. Thefirst publication in Contemporary Verse has ‘gluts.Left in a .fazeAllegories of tile Postnioderii 237books creates the illusion that Schafer addresses his readers personally. I think thatthis effect is owing tothe minute irregularities of handwriting, nomatter how calligraphically perfect it is.The reproduced calligraphy can be seen toretain the aura of thesingular work of art fora trifle longer than atypographical reproduction of writing whichdoes away with the humanirregularities. As aresult, the relationshipbetween narrator andreaders is based on anatmosphere created bythe carefully handwritten and “personal”intimations of the narterms of an animal characteristic, namely“my bones’ (line 6). Watson moves towardsthe riddle’s conclusion in a numberof images related to light (7-12).The disunification of “The Candle” isaconsequence of Watson’s effortsto includeas many details in his descriptionas possible. It is also a characteristicof theliteraryriddle*and may be attributed tothe scope of description that impedes unityof imagery. The inclusiveness of “all mankind” (line 11) that harkens backto the“one boast” (6) together with the appearanceof humility in the last line (“a littleflame”) hints at the power residing in acandle. Watson thus leaves the riddleescontemplating the object from a perspectivethey have not seen before.A few of the Number Grid Verse (NGV)riddles reveal their solution in the title.In this way, the riddlees can fully focusnot only on the manner in which the riddlerhides the solution but also on the peculiarform of NGV:* See Anderson, Two Literary Riddles in the Exeter Book 5.Left in a .t”azeAllegories of the Fostalodern 238I 1 growin 2 brightdarkness 3 andat 4 darkennoon, 5 Imen 6 leadto 7 bedgallop 8 and9 underthe 1 moon,dismiss 2 Ithe 3 starsbe 4 to5 dismissedby 1 theA 2 sun.mouthful 3 ofkills 4 breathme 5 yetdance 6 1in 7 theI 8 wind.9 calldead 1 generationsof 2 mento 3 instructliving 4 ones;5 saga hwaet ic hatte (Poems 368)At the bottom of the page, the reader findsan icon depicting the riddle object. Theriddle thus consists of title, four numbergrids, and an icon. The number grids comein three shapes, two of which have9 and 5lines and employ the boustrophedon, an ancient Egyptian form of writing in which thelines are read from left to right and thenfrom right toleft.*The third shape isriddle/lamprator. *However, it is notprimarily the graphicalnature of these works Iwant to scrutinize buttheir “riddlic” and allegorical nature. Forinstance, Scene 12 inAriadne describes thenarrator’s efforts toarrive at Ariadne’sname. But his directqueries, “Do you have aname?” (39) and “Je t’aidemandé ton nom” (42),only lead to riddles andcryptic messages one ofwhich is a fragmenteddelineation of “Ariadne”This strategy of diminishing distance between narrator and reader bymeans of nerging artwork and writing hassince been used with great conmercialsuccess in the Griffin and Sabine-trilogyby Nick Bantock. Bantock also publisheda conundrum, The Egyptian Jukebox, thatmakes use of photographically reproducedcollages.*In Ariadne, Schafer also uses this form of writing (seefig. 2).Left in a MazeAllegories of the Postiodern239ScENE5(BOUSTRO?HEDON)WALKINGZ A lmlZI WS‘R3R2( RYANUB.GE TO TURKLK,cIAl( AWTA1TTU S3T2’R)O’ TM‘133AT! i](AcLff.UT Iso iTURKEDAGAfl(DCCZoffWU1’2ICL3ZZ322iYI2AWFliT LIKEAN OX,FIRSTf!OBJ2(ALWE w4YTE(.Ig]b)! A3BTUff QDTHEr cwoi(I3T2JJ I. ]3jTO 31WIN23E Ofl’o,SrtEj)rlcECnoN TCOuLD liEu..SLOW WAVESAYJ21’41M)J(ITAFOlLOWING TEEMMTh NY .EAR, I1VEN1WLTLcLIW’E’YO ffAJA3D aeaa 3Ff TA‘TJi’M(IJ’ITJO’4STOL’E’DTO DElIBERATE. IBEPi$ONFD:IWA1T70 GO M( TO!YIJJJJJ2 IaTlJcYT -J2aI2AaaRT 1ATI I TtI51311HER IN1’OFIDSITh2JflZFC2TONAND W1Il.HAVE 10:FROCEEDOTFO?,T.v’LYSRE HAS L2EPT1JUYER711EEE£DWrariI URW.2Mo ZA3liA 23AJA!V3 1I iWTUE RIZEU? M4APFOACIflN’ NA 1I1flETFig. 2: Schafer’s “Boustrophedon” (Ariadne19).Left in a [azeAllegories of the Postniodern 240(fig. 3). Encryptionplays a large role inSchafer’s novels and isbased on a similarstructure as riddling:the author shows off hissuperior knowledge of anarcane field. Thus thestructure of authorityin Schafer’s novels exemplifies the one foundin reconstructive post-modern allegories. Aswell, encryption as amethod resembles allegory in that it encodes language and thusassigns anOther to thesignifiers that displayin a double gesturetheir own demise as wellas their resurrection assignifying entities.Both Ariadne and Dicamuscan be read onthe five line grid which is read fromleftto right and contains in its last slotnotone word but the Old English riddle prompt“saga hwaet ic hatte” (say what I amcalled)•*For the purposes of my analysis,I wantto rewrite “riddle/lamp” as a stringof fivestatements and a prompt:[1] I grow bright in darkness and darkenat noon.[2] 1 lead men to bed and gallop under themoon.[31I dismiss the stars to be dismissed by the sun.[4] A mouthful of breath kills me yet I dance inthewind,[5] I call dead generations of men to instructliving ones;jprompt] saga hwaet ic hatte (368)Once we bracket the number gridnotation, wesee that all statements are based on starkcontrasts:[1] grow bright<::>darken[2] lead men to bed (sleeping)<2:>gallop(ing)[3] dismiss<::>to be dismissed[4] kills me (dying)<::>danc(ing)[5] dead generations<2:>living onesWith these contrasts, Watson baffles theriddlees and extends the riddling process aslong as possible. The riddle also shows thecharacteristic disunification of the liter-*This riddle prompt occurs in 30 of the 35 NGV riddles,is sometimes translated (375,413,414), and is written once withhyphens (‘saga-hwaet-ic-hatte (363), It does not always takeup an entire slot (387,395) and once it shares a slot with itstranslation (376)Left iii a Maze Allegoriesof the Postiodern241zI.10aap (4. I. •axUa(4Ip1. zIxa>a.x*Uaz‘p: -a - ZZaz’II0aFig. 3: A fragmented delineationof Ariadne’s name (Ariadne 42-43).Slightly reduced size.Left in a IazeAllegories of the Postinodern 242two levels: on the onehand, they function as are-presentation ofaquest for an elusivemeaning; on the other,they function as apsentation by involvingthe readers in thequest.Dicamus recounts thetrials and tribulationsof a decipherment of anancient and complexcipher, while Ariadnerelates the narrator’sjourney-quest forAriadne or, more specifically, for her name(which only appears inencrypted form in thetext) and her “symbols[and] true significance”ary riddle. Thus statements[1] and [3]describe light, while121 and [4] describemetaphorical actions. The last statementcontains a similar grandiose claimas thelast lines of ‘The Candle,” here,however,with the death-defying gestureof makingdead men instruct living men. Again, Watsonleaves the riddlees contemplatingthe objectfrom a perspective they have not seenbefore.Watson only writes riddles thatuse thelyric “I.” This category of riddlemaximizes the occurrence of personification.Inhis article on “Allegorical Language,”Samuel Levin describes personificationas ‘thestaple of allegory” (24). In “riddle/lamp,”every statement contains a personification.Take a part of statement [4]as an example,“I dance in the wind.” The lyric “I” replaces the solution which is the subject ofthe personification. With the solution thesentence will be, “[A lamp] dance[s] in thewind.” Levin points out that sucha statement entails a metaphorical commentabout anon-human entity. He goes on to describehow human languages have a deficiencyinLeft in a .t”azeAllegories of the Postnioo’ern 243(9)*In fact, we cannot help approachingAriadne as a quest foran elusive meaning because the labyrinthineand riddlic nature ofthe work makes us unceasingly aware of thefact that we are dealingwith a calligraphic textwhich hides and revealsmessages, names andmeanings. This idiosyncratic attention to themateriality of the texthinders any readers’responses that are commonly associated with“getting lost in” or*See also Schafers comment that‘every sound casts a spell, A word is abracelet of voice-charms. Individuallyconsidered, its letters (phonemes) tellthe attentive listener a complicatedlifestory (The Thinkiog Ear 186). Hisrecommendation to do a study of namesused in Patria (Patria and the Theatre ofConfluence 49) should also be consideredin this context.their lexicon when it comesto depictingnon-human realities:We say of a horse that it is frightened, [Levinsays)But what does a horse feel when it is frightened?Whatever it feels, ‘frightened’ is not the predicatethat specifically describes that feeling. (27)At the same time, that very deficiency facilitates a wide range of predicatesthatdepict such realities in humanterms and inthis way lead to personificationas a metaphoric device. In a meticulousscrutiny ofpersonification, Levin argues thatthere arefour ways in which personification allegorycan be read, but only one facilitates non-conceptual insights into the “life and nature’ (so to speak) of non-humanentities.This “pure’ allegory, however, dependsonthe imaginative powers of the recipient.The first reading focuses on the nounand makes it conform with its predicate.Inmy example “a lamp dances in the wind,’ onewould replace ‘a lamp” with an entity thatis actually capable of dancing in the wind,such as a person or indeed the lyric “I.”This reading I want to call literalizationbecause it turns figurative statements intoliteral ones. For the riddler, literalization is another way of confounding the reaLeft in a 1azeAllegories of the Postniodern 244identifying with a fictional world. However,once we approach Ariadneas a quest for anelusive meaning ratherthan for a fictionalcharacter calledAriadne, the boundarybetween re-presentationand presentation disintegrates and gives wayto a participation ofreaders in the narrator’s quest: readersbecome seekers.Dicamus shows muchthe same disintegration.In this work, readers donot participate in theactual deciphering ofthe ancient script, butthey must undertake comparable decipherments,such as reading throughlabyrinths of variousder because by proffering literal statementsthat in itself make good sense, itis harderto transform the statements into metaphorical expressions. This transformation occurseither by supplying the given solutionorelse by guessing the solution, each ofwhichrequires a conscious effort on the partofthe riddlees.The second reading would similarly makenoun and predicate conform, but here thefocus is on the predicate. The resultistrue personification (Levin’s term). Theproblem here, as Levin points out, is thatthe literal element (the predicate) mustbemade to work on the same semantic levelasthe metaphorical one (the noun). If weassume that there were a term ‘to thwiddle’defined as “dancing in the wind, spec. oflamps’t then the statement “a lampthwiddleswould succeed in unmixing the mixed mode.Yet this reading, for obvious reasons, hasno semantic redeemability.The third reading would resolve thesemantic incompatibility by bringing thepredicate into conformity with the meaningof the noun ‘lamp.’ The result then is?aLeft in a .fazeAllegories of the Postniodern 245shapes (see fig. 4 & 5),deciphering palimpsestsof handwriting in whichSchafer overlays textswith other texts at a 90degree angle (see fig.6), and determining thevalue of crossed out,but still legible, passages (see fig. 7 & 8).These processes serve toinvolve readers in thedecipherment or in sharing the scholar’s excitement when engagingin decipherment: oncemore readers becomeseekers.In investigating thedisintegrating boundarybetween re-presentationand presentation, Iwould like to draw attention to a passagefrom Dicamus that seemslamp is moving in the wind.’ Levincallsthis reading dispersonificationbecause thestatement now conveys merely the qualityofa lamp without implementinga metaphoricallevel.The fourth reading, finally,is the onlyone to engage in a pure, allegoricalreadingin that the recipient triesto conceive whatit would be like fora lamp to be dancing inthe wind. This process, of course,cannotbe semantically expressed in languagebecause the dances of lamps are beyond theconceptual horizon of human language.Yet,this radical dispersonification, accordingto Levin, provides us with an opportunityfor going beyond our conceptual horizons,ifnot in language then by augmenting ourpowers of non-conceptual thought.In my view, a case can be made for radical dispersonification occurringat the instant of guessing the solution. Duringthatinstant, the riddlees recapitulate oneorseveral riddle statements in radical dispersonification without yet engaging in literalization or dispersonification. (Levin’s“personification” seems an unlikely candiLeft in a Plaze Allegories of the Postiodern246Fig. 4: A labyrinth from Dicamus (n.p.).Left in a HazeAllegories of the PostiodernLAN&UAC,EITFuOwS LA45 F 5INTkAJACcJDE.ICE.riE,ThEP.JJaJSENSEORACJPHEL.247IJrERr.NAA3ii)L.&H ASE£e.C1•LAwSTHEJJ THE RADELL0S0HAe4‘IAA1FsrrLAwcATy.N1E ThR. A4ouS AS0RNAS LIc IINI-AN CC,AU A4 NC,£AI.L.EEEIN-raUCE1’.T HUHAN PUR.4’OSE.4EpOSnSLE.I A$SuP.P.11E4.E;wTH 10STOR.tSIJ,L_ OFWttARE•,, zm- ci’‘,WHEE AAW( .‘-movfl1E RlUMPN OF2. m0pop-iA&D.-‘ ‘c’a. 3Nr1a331wawz-.•mLf’BRINTh. IT V5E$;r 5)V0U- NI4ID B ITSm-{> A9.,l-wsi.’ cii. SISSN3Iq TI4EItIFig. 5: A labyrinth from Dicamus (n.p.).Fig. 6:Overlayingof texts inçmUS(n.p.).Allegories of the Postiodern 248Left in a HazeLeft iii a Haze Allegories of the Postiodern 249,v/let L7me-Jearc.pflIwcIPP,L WOAK /SOA’t7V’SIStEA F7TLCgAbJI.I6’LIP flpLi/rtcffIM/JEfWiTt rifEpEE’TLACEPE!Th’f.SIDEo A CHASM.q,4.r/sk;t?soayteS/€‘A’41€- i’e,LI.?WtAPSWE I%CoVE-5oN17N/F/,At07pio,‘Elilt7RA4ISPYL’2’,F€JZ’TAS i7,KLAg!$INris 77f izwaopALL7ffgS FAS7Sci1’! ,rsggi,JcAAli7r.BL’7iF WEFAIl-,7?EOU,j1/,I Cl-OSt5ov L’7WE CoLC”2FAImi pAAKAIEcHA CLAIMEL’AAfoTNtz WC77A1.Fig. 7: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus (np.).Left in a NazeAllegories of the Postiodern250& t1€dsculiTibrr &‘€€O,(Øidrst1N$ ‘f*4i*’f ii ‘1/i€it’“lhL-4;4. -r/Iiy/&;c ;tS41fL/‘anLio.I/e4 cc iL,/pw-’ofobj’4JIcdqrwofciel.47r- ‘‘o i&popr/IC5 ‘orcAai’/reih4’()res.4w/zjiu”.á€i’,.,Ai’4,u kiMdakI;jj4imq;r-ducli/e- WhqhwhL11€-aawoti4S7J4d;,aa,w,aI4wesorit$/OD/Arrni(4N( LIVrchhr€.‘ ‘AFig. 8: Crossed-out passages inDicamus (n.p.).Left in a .1Iaze Allegoriesof the Postinodern 251to comment on that disintegration. In thepalimpsest of fig. 6(see 248), the text madelegible when the readersrotate the page by 90degrees describes howthe thread is one of theorigins of the labyrinthbecause the thread isthe material from whichtextiles are woven:The thread is . . no intruder in the labyrinth, butis the device that both introduces its plan & finds itssolution. Fabric is a maze‘solved by thread.” (np.)Schafer’s labyrinths donot consist of threadbut of graphics andwriting, and just as thethread provides plan andsolution to the fabric,so graphics and writingcan be seen to provideplans and solutions toSchafer’ s because we do not tend to makeupneologisms on the spot.) The riddlees,however, cannot sustain the ephemeral momentofnon-conceptual thought because theytransform the guessed solution at once intoaconcept or word. At this point, theriddlees either confirm the suggestedsolution or they guess the solution.Then theyturn the page where there is anotherriddleand the process begins anew.The analysis of a representative riddlestatement from one of Watson’s riddles hasshown that his riddles use one of the basicallegorical strategies, personification,ina particularly “pure” form. Yet two factorsinfringe on my calling the riddles outrightallegories. First, the moment in which theallegorical reading occurs cannot be sustained because it is restricted by the process of riddling to the ephemeral moment ofrecognition. This moment (and with it theallegory) comes to an end as soon as thereader reverts to or replaces the non-conceptual thought with a concept or word. Secondly, the brevity of the riddles and theconsequent lack of an extended narrative doLeft in a .faze Allegoriesof the Postinodern 252In this way, the presentation of thematerial on the page ismore important thanwhatever it re-presentsbecause the plan andsolution of itslabyrinth are in thepresentation not in there-presentation.Dicamus and Ariadnecan both be seen as(re)presenting questsfor elusive meanings.At first, and indeedthrough most of thequests, Schafer portraysthese elusive meaningsas arcane knowledge, assomething which we canknow and speak by undergoing certainnot warrant calling the riddlesfull-fledgedallegories. As a result, I would ratherspeak of the “allegorical thrust’ inWatson’s riddles. While not turning theriddles into conventional narrative allegories, this thrust still insuresaccess toanOther.Allegories speak in a distinctivedouble-entendre of anOther. Consideringtheallegorical thrust in Watson’s riddles,thisOther could be the solution. The riddlethen would say one thing, that is, give asmall-scale narrative about a person, butmean anOther, namely, what the solution suggests. Yet I think that the allegoricalOther should not lightly be equated with thesolution; rather, contemplating life andnature in a non-conceptual way as it occursduring the ephemeral moment is also a possible candidate for this Other. Watson attempts putting us in touch with a very pristine Other indeed, namely that of a nonhuman horizon of experience that is unspeakable.To come back to the riddle of the lamp,I maintain that the reader contemplates anLeft in a :VazeAllegories of the Postmodern 253rituals.*In thegraphic novels, theserituals can be seen inpersisting in the questsand arriving at theelusive meanings throughtrials and errors bymeans of a number oflabyrinths, exercises,puzzles and cryptographic riddles.These rituals are directparallels to the initiations, pilgrimages andrites of passages(re)presented to theaudience in Patria.allegory of lampness that provides aninsight into the ‘life of lamps,’ so to speak.Each of the statements contributes tothisinsight by dint of containinga personification. Thus we could say that Watson’sriddles introduce a single metaphor inacontinuous series which is exactly howQuintilian defined allegory.To Quintiliansuch an excess of metaphor was a defect because it might easily convert the text inquestion to anenigma.*For obvious reasons, this is not a concern when it comes tocomposing riddles; quite on the contrary, itis this excess of metaphor thatis constitutive of riddles.As I noted before, Watson’s riddles consist of strings of statements, most of whichcontain personifications. These statementsare rarely formally connected so that syntactically speaking, we are dealing withparataxis. Furthermore, the riddles employthe rhetorical device of anaphora which isarepetition of the same word at the beginning*Joel Finefflan describes Quilltilian’s definition and underlying dispositioll towards allegory, see The Structure ofAllegorical Desire 49-50.*Schafer runs a publishing houseexclusively devoted to publishing hiswork, “Arcana Editions.’4 Arcana’ is theplural of the atin “arcanuni which hastwo meanings: “(1) A hidden thing; aniystery, a profound secret. (2) One ofthe supposed great secrets of naturewhich the alchemists aimed at discovering; hence, a 1arve11olls remedy, ane1ixir (OED 2nd ed. 1989), Schafer’swork ains both at initiating the publicinto the “profound secrets” of his workand at providing a marvellous remedy,’especially for our spiritual ifialaise.Left in a .Iaze Allegoriesof the Postmodern 254Rituals in Schafer’swork in general serve acertain elitism, namelythat of a communitywhich shares a certainarcane knowledge.The arcane nature ofthis elitism is most obvious in the attempts atcryptography, both inwriting and decodingciphers. The roles arejust as obvious: Schaferis the one who knows,and the participants arethe ones to find out. Asimilar relationshipemerges with regard toPatria and the allegorical gesture. It is onlythe allegorist who knowswhat died in the objectwhich he filled with anew meaning. A certainelitism thus is an in-of two or more consecutive statements.Theanaphoral rhythm weakens the expression offacts, and the riddle takes onincantatoryqualities that reinforce itscatecheticalquality.*This is surely an effect mostwelcome to Watson, who often employs formsand rituals reminiscent of catholicones.**The “calculated monotony’ of anaphora produces a hypnotic effect so that the texttakes on qualities of a mosaic withoutperspective.***In this way, Watson renderstheregular exposition of the statements moresymbolic.In Watson’s riddles, anaphora occursmost often with the lyric “1” or the related“my,” as in the following “Riddle for Gilhan Espinasse”:[1] I am shaped like a hole[2] I am raised in joy[3] my kiss is paradise[4] my embrace boggles the mind,*In his book on Two Literary Riddles in the Exeter Book(1986), Anderson writes that “as questions which deffland answers, riddles make natural vehicles . for religiouscatechism” (9).See, for instance, Watson’s Mass on Cowback, whose sections parallel the parts of the catholic mass: Kyrie, Gloria,Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.Fletcher’s remarks on the relation of parataxis andanaphora are in Allegory: Theory of a Symbolic Mode 168-69.Left in a 1{azeAllegories of the Postiiioderii 255tegral part of the allegorical gesture.The puzzles,labyrinths and cryptography at first seemto hide the elusivemeanings from theuninitiated eye. At theend of both Dicamus andAriadne, however, it becomes clear that thepuzzles, labyrinths andcryptographic riddles donot hide elusive meanings nor any arcaneknowledge but oftenmerely trivial messagesthat do not satisfy thequester’s desire. Theelusive meanings emergeas unspeakable.In Dicamus, Schaferthematizes the unspeakable in terms of theconfrontation between(5] I feed the liar with words.[6] 1 stab my best friend to death:[prompt] saga-hwaet-ic-hatte?(Poems 363]The anaphoral rhythm is clearlyand monotonously marking its own importance, ratherthan that of the statements’ content.If weconsider for a moment the processby whichthe riddlees attempt to solve the riddle,wenotice that--unless the solution occurstothe riddlees immediately afterthe initialreading--the riddlees changethe order ofthe statements while they reread and reconsider this, then that, riddle statement.The effect of that process is an extendedand emphasized anaphoral rhythm since now wemay have four or even five statementsstarting with the same word. Simultaneously,aparatactic ‘shuffling’ of statementstakesplace. As a result, riddling as it is usedby Watson embraces parataxis in making allriddle statements equally symbolic.Let me disturb your attempts at solvingthe “Riddle for Gillian Espinasse”by providing the riddle’s answer. It isa “mug ofbeer.’ I must stop your paratactic shuffling because I want to draw attentionto acharacteristic of parataxis that both con-Left in a h’azeAllegories of the Postmodern 256Theseus and theMinotaur. Noting thatin all accounts of themyth the precise description of this confrontation is conspicuously absent, thedecipherer becomes convinced that the ancientcipher will reveal thatknowledge:I have come to the conclusionthat [the tablets arej acipher, contrived to obscuresome secret message. Then itmust deal with something whichcould not or must not be communicated to everyone. Thiscould only be the story ofwhat happened in the labyrinthwhen Theseus & inotaur confronted one another, preciselythe portion of the myth thatis missing in all other accounts, missing because onlyhero[e]s may know it, (np.)However, against theconvictions of thedecipherer, the arcaneknowledge is notrevealed in the cipherstitutes and subverts parataxis.DavidHayman has described this characteristicasfollows:By eliminating subordination . . . parataxismayserve to equalize or give the appearanceof equalityto disparate elements, moving the text toward thecondition of a list. This is a thoroughly ambiguousfunction, since the list from time immemorialhasbeen the structure of order and control, themeans bywhich we shape our experience. (183)This subversion is also at work intheriddle. The condition of the list is emphasized by the lyric point of viewbecause itimposes an idiosyncratic order onthat list:statements 1 & 2 depict the static subjectusing the passive voice. Statement3 depicts a static property, while statement 4introduces an active property. The last twostatements depict an activesubject with anincreased intensity in “I stab mybestfriend to death.” Because the paratacticshuffling and the ordered listing of theriddle’s statements occur at the same timebut are in competition with one another,parataxis emerges as an ambiguous and tenseprocedure in Watson’s riddles.In his renowned article ‘Two Aspects ofLanguage and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances,’ Roman Jakobson describes the twofoldLeft in a [azeAllegories of the Postmodern 27which turns out to bemerely another accountof the events leading upto the confrontation between Theseus and theMinotaur. After thedecipherment is complete, it dawns on thedecipherer that thisconfrontation can onlybe experienced by comingface to face with theMinotaur--a fact ofwhich the decipherer ispainfully aware:I’ve never believed that language can reveal truth, whichcomes--if it comes at all--asthe speechless moment. (np,,emphasis added)At this point, then, wecan understand thedecipherer’s remark that“only heroes may know”the unspeakable. As amatter of course,Schafer sets the stagecharacter of language. This duality provides an opportunity to gain further insights into the parataxis of Watson’sriddles. According to Jakobson,languagefunctions in keeping with the principlesof‘combination” and “selection.” Theformerstipulates that any linguistic sign occursonly in combination with other signsso thatany sign serves as a context, while the latter concerns the selection of a sign fromthe pool of possible signs. Selectioninthis way implies the possibility of substituting one sign for another. The twoaphasic disorders he describes circumscribetwo poles of a continuum that correspondtothe principles of combination and selection.For my purposes, the contiguitydisorderis especially significant. Patients suffering from this disorder lack the capacitytodetermine and use contexts of linguisticunits*so that their capacity for maintaining the hierarchy of linguistic unitsisseverely reduced. The result is a paratactic patterning of speech which Jakobson*A linguistic unit could be a word but alsoa shortsentence or a group of words, see ‘Two Aspects’72,Left in a .1azeAllegories of the Postinodern 258for the subsequenttransformation ofdecipherment into heroicquest. Schafer transforms the decipherer into a hero who will meetthe Minotaur or “something which for convenience we have agreedto call Minotaur.”Their confrontation, ofcourse, escapes(re)presentation andDicamus breaks off whentwo masked figures leadthe decipherer in hisdreams to meet theMinotaur.*depicts as tending towardsinfantile one-sentence utterances and one-wordsentences”(72>.The absence of logical connectors,suchas prepositions and conjunctions,in Watson’s riddles indicates their syntacticalmovement towards the paradigmaticpole ofselection. This movement explainstheparatactic patterning. Thelyric point ofview, however, sustains a semanticmovementthat countervails this syntacticalmovement.Using Jakobson’s terminology, onecould saythat Watson’s riddles project theparadigmatic axis onto the syntagmatic axis. Theresult is a structuralizationof contentwhich is typical of allegory, for inallegory structures always point tothemes.*I have not yet mentioned a visual feature of the riddles that is importanttoWatson’s riddling, the icons at the bottomof each riddle. This featurebears upon theephemeral moment of recognition and aidsintransforming the lyric “I” into a perceptualIn Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, AngusFletcher outlines two symbolical patterns of allegory, namelyprogress and battle. These patterns are primarily structuresbut simultaneously announce rigid themes,*But we also know from the editor’sintroduction that the decipherermysteriously disappears after thedecipherment which is why Max Dorb publishes the journal as a facsimile in suchanunscientificand unfinished form.The editor’s name, Max Dorb, iseasily recognizable as an anagram of MaxBrod, who was the literary executor ofFranz Kafka’s work (see Dicamus lIP). Weshould keep in mind that in Patria 1, 2and 3 Schafer occasionally identifiesWolfman with a portrait of Franz Kafka.In this way, Dicamus emerges as yet an-Left in a YazeAllegories of the Postiiiodern 259In Ariadne, the truesignificance of thequest eludes us in asimilar manner. Schaferconfronts us with a number of puzzles,labyrinths and cryptographic riddles thatseem to promise accessto an elitist knowledgewhich is essential tothe work. But in allinstances, they do notreveal such essences.An example is thediagram on p.32, whichis introduced with thefollowing words:I understood a great deal, forthe room was filled with thecryptography of privatethoughts, circulating freelywith the smoke (31)other installment of the quest related inPatria because the decipherer can be indirectly identified with Kafka and thusemerges as another human incarnation ofWolf.device, an “eye.” Once the riddleethinksof the solution, he literally viewstheworld through the ‘eye” ofa knife. Theicons that appear at the bottomof each NGriddle support this non-conceptualinstant.These icons (size: 2.3 x 2.3 cm) providestylized graphical representationsof thesolution. Yet in most cases, it isnext toimpossible to guess the solution fromacurious glance at them because theysimultaneously hide and reveal the answers.Watson employs various disfiguringstrategies to achieve that effect.Althoughthe objects are common enough, forinstancea lamp (368), a mug (363), a knife (373),the perspective from which the objectsareshown in the icons is uncommon (seefig. 8).Most of the icons are close-ups sothat theyare cut off at the edges and representonlya part of the whole. On account ofthispartial representation, the iconscan beseen as metonymies. However, Watsoneliminates all contextual informationfromthe icons themselves. They functiononlywithin the context of the extended metaphorsof the riddle statements. Asa result, WatLeft in a faze Allegories of the Postaodern260Fig. 9: Icons accompanying Watson’s NGV-riddles (Poems 364,363, 380, 368). Slightly enlarged.Left in a (aze A]]egories of the Postraodern261Eager to decipher thesecryptographic privatethoughts (fig. 10), westruggle to find thesystem that unlockstheir meanings. Once wesucceed at thisdecipherment, however,the private thoughtsturn out to be merebackground for a “clubor discotheque” (28).Decrypted, they are:--Who’s that with the sheenyhair sitting beside thedoor?--Looking at th[e] fat hams ofth[e) waiter makes mevery sad.--I’m wild now; boozy, loquacious but getting sleepy.--I’ll bet she gets her auscular lips from talkingso much, (32)These “privatethoughts,” althoughmeticulously encrypted,hardly warrant thequester’s interest. Asin the other puzzles,son moves riddling further along thesyntagmatic axis and the riddle’s parataxis isfurther undermined. On the other hand, theicons take their place among theotherriddle statements because if viewed inisolation, they are just as confusing asthestatements. For this reason, theicon alsopartakes in the paratactic shuffling of riddling. The riddlees jump from riddle statements and various combinations of statementsto the icon and back again until the recognition takes place.NGV combines numerals and words in sucha way that the numerals (which are not pronounced) give shape to the experience ofreading the poem. In this way, there aretwo states of consciousness at issue, namelythat of counting and that of making sense.Watson juxtaposes paratactically NGV tothesemantic content of the prose statements.As a result, we find two fundamentally different rhythms at work: one relying onnumerals, the other relying on words. Asamatter of course, this constellation givesrise to other similarly juxtaposed dichotomies: form-content; verse--prose;Left in a Xaze Allegories of the Postodern 262Fig. 10: Cryptographic thoughts from Ariadne (32).Left in a aze Allegoriesof the Postinodern 263metric experiment--free verse; seeing--hearing. To illustrate thesedifferentrhythms, I would like to takea look at ariddle, first in prose notation:I wash in the sea but never become clean.I savemany from drowning. I teach the birds towrite downtheir names. I show the authorities wheremen haveleft their bones. Harms enter by me thoughI harm noone: saga hwaet ic hatte. (366)One clearly feels the rhythm of proseandreads through the riddle as consisting ofSconsecutive statements and a prompt. Nowthe same riddle in NG notation:I 1 washthe 2 insea 3 butnever 4 becomeI 5 cleansave 6 manydrowning. 7 from1 8 teach9 thebirds 1 todown 2 writetheir 3 4 Ithe 5 authoritiesmen 6 wherehave 7 leftbones. 8 their9 Harmsenter 1 bythough 2 meI 3 harmone: 4 no5 saga hwaet ic hatte (368)Most striking perhaps is the searching movement of the eye through the spaceof thepage because of the boustrophedon. Further-labyrinths and cryptographic riddles, theoverwhelming feelingafter the deciphermentis one of regret anddisappointment, perhapsnot so much in the triviality of the messageitself as in the resultof decipherment thatputs an end to the possibilities of “true” arcane knowledge because asolved mystery is nolonger a mystery.In Dicamus, thedecipherer accounts forthis ambivalence towardsthe result of decipherment when he describeshis feelings about acipher that seems to bethe encrypted dedicationin Ariadne. Thisdedication apparentlyLeft in a :1lazeAllegories of the Postaiodern 264starts in an unknownlanguage:Too fo meryom, tou fo tehluisk, tou fo teh lehifiet nadte chonc lehis, tou fo syadnad hisgot, I heva iloshiedafsith tumcose fo sdwor rof nyu,nwustiting titell fo ti ta amite. (7)Yet soon the readersdiscover that this textis merely the result ofan unsystematic scrambling of letters. Whatfollows is a developmentfrom the chaos of theundecipherable to theorder of the readable ineight steps in which thetext is gradually unscrambled to reveal thefollowing text whichself-consciously describes its own making:[Pushed up] out of memory, outof the skull, out of the helmet and the conch shell, outof days and nights, I havefashioned this costume ofwords for you, untwistinglittle of it at a time. (9)more, one does not pay so muchattention tothe thematic intricaciesas to the formalones; that is, one feels a self-reflexiveness of language and formthat isunusual in prose. As a result,reading NGVrelegates the thematic intricacies(such asthe oppositions within the riddle-statements) and the prose-rhythmto thebackground of the riddlees’ attention.Assoon as the eye is used to the NGV-rhythm,however, the prose-rhythm gains inimportance so that an approximate balancearises:Watson has accomplished the paratacticjuxtaposition of NGV- and prose-rhythms.In “Postmodern Parataxis: EmbodiedTexts, Weightless Information,”KatherineHayles asserts that parataxis doesnot meanthat there are no relations betweenthe juxtaposed entities. Rather these relationsare unstable and polysemous, and theymay beappropriated, interpreted or re-inscribedinto different modalities becauseof the absence of a sequential structure (398).Sheclaims that the relations between paratacticelements are a “seismograph” of societalruptures in postmodern society.Left in a .VazeAllegories of the Postinodern 265The decipherer writesabout the process involved in getting fromcipher to text:And I recall my state of mindas I worked through it. Bitsof information followed bypuzzles triggered my mind intoanticipating a thousand possible sequels, Later when thereal meaning was known, it wassomething of a disappointment,No, not a disappointment, forI knew it was correct andtrue, but somehow a betrayalof the possible, the vague,the hinted at. The loose,freely associative mind of thepoet had been made to surrender before the deductivemethod of the scientist. Iknew it had to happen but Iwas sorry to see it go.(Dicamus np,)The “betrayal of thepossible,” to thedecipherer, means thepossibility of capturingthe unspeakable yetwithout revealingit.**One could easily constructSchafer’s music as achieving that possibility because music expresses something that is hard to capture in language. To reiterate my summary of hisview of the creative process, Schafermaintains that there always remains alevel that cannot be verbalized in anyway.In the case of Watson’s riddles,it isnot a societal rupture that is inthe foreground, but the rupture between the premodern metric experiment andmodern freeverse. According to Watson, free verseputan end to the metric experiment beforeithad come to full fruition (“NGVas Notation”). The synthesizing potentialofparataxis breaks through to a hithertounknown constellation of free verse andmetricexperiment. This breakthroughcombines in apostmodern gesture the new with the old.Itis in this constellation thatWatson inscribes his allegoricalessence.*Having been inspired by McLuhan’s mediatheory long before he met McLuhan himself,Watson finally had the opportunityto coauthor a book with McLuhan. In their studyFrom Cliché to Archetype, Watson hints at atheory of multi-consciousnessthat would accoullt for postmodernism. For reasons thatIexplored above, McLuhan held another viewand was not prepared to accept Watson’s asequal to his own. This contributedto theI am referring to Walter Benjamin’s use of that term inUrsprung des deutschen Trauerspiels,Left in a 1IazeAllegories of the Postinodern 266In the last sentence ofthe dedication toAriadne, Schafer expresses this possibilitypoignant iy:Neither of us knew how thepulsillg reality of y lovewould one day become a container of remembrance, a vasefor your faded b1oo, acracked jar of rouge, a toffib.The labyrinth is thetomb of all things pastbecause it containsmemories that reflectthe beginnings of humanity, as we are toldin Dicamus:As the womb hides the frictionof our begetting in darkness,the cave hides the tribal fathers. Verification of thesepresences can only bedemonstrated by a journey intodarkness, into the labyrinth.The jouriley is always into thepast into history (ll.p.)In a peculiar move,Schafer attributes a(9)tensions between the two men thatalsodelayed publication of the book. Yet Watsonwent on to explore his theory inseparatearticles, such as “Marshall McLuhanandMulti-Consciousness: The Place MarieDialogues.’ From these articlesrather thanfrom their co-production, we canglean whatWatson meant by multi-consciousnessand howhe explained its impact on postmodernism.According to Watson’s reading ofMcLuhan’s media theory, the bookwas the medium that dominated modernity. Yetin thetwentieth-century, the book-cliché lost mostof its impact which was sufficientto produce effects of’ fragmentation, alienation,disorientation, and disorganization. Itdominated the Western intellectual traditionto such an extent as to ensure that thistradition considered consciousnessto behomogeneous. The absolutenessof thatpresupposition left men badlyequipped todeal with the new multi-consciousness andits phenomena (208-09). Thesephenomena, toWatson, are primarily indicative ofahitherto unknown freedom:Twentieth-celltllry an has many ifiodes of consciousnessand with these goes a freedom not enjoyed by anyprevious civilization.(PoemandPreface36)Left in a :1lazeAllegories of the Postraodern 267patriarchal origin tothe labyrinth by comparing it to a matriarchalimage. In the followingpassage, he hints at thetraditional associationof the labyrinth withthe thread, Ariadne andthe feminine but notwithout pointing to theequal importance of theneedle, Theseus and themasculine:The thread is therefore no intruder in the labyrinth, butis the device that both introduces its plan & finds itssolution, Fabric is a maze‘solved bythread,A millionstitches back & forth, holdingus in the dazzling experimentof twill or satin weave; andat the head of the thread,guiding it and being guided byit--the needle. Theseus isthat straightness; he is thearrow’s flight, the needle’spierce, But to Ariadnebelongs the devious stitcheryby which the design is fashioned, (n,p.)This passage indicatesthe relationship of interdependency betweenIn his poetry and plays, Watsonsets out tocelebrate this freedom, which hecalls“really a very wonderful development.’Thiscelebration, in my reading, emanatesas theallegorical essence of Watson’s riddlesand,in extension, of his plays.In Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Fryeemphasizes the visual impact ofthe riddle:“The riddle seems intimately involved withthe whole process of reducinglanguage tovisible form’ (280) . While Watson certainlydoes not neglect this visual impact, itseems that active participation in theprocess of riddling is essential to him.Riddling in this sense approachesan innerperformance which juxtaposes various statesof consciousness. This paratactical organization is highly unstable andat every moment susceptible to breakdown. This instability appears to be another trait ofWatson’s postmodernism, but we should keepin mind that in his view “breakdown” is thecondition for a McLuhanesque “breakthrough”to new constellations. “Breakthrough,”states Watson, “is a feature which comesfrom a breakdown of competence[implying]Left in a HazeAllegories of the Postmodern 268Theseus (or Wolfman) andAriadne: the one cannotsucceed without theother and vice versa.To recapitulate, ajourney into thelabyrinth is a journeyinto the past or intohistory at the end ofwhich we may be reincarnate or lost:Perhaps we discover something,perhaps not. If so, we aretransfigured, for just as thelabyrinth is the tomb of allthings past, to escape it isto be reincarnate. But if wefail, the mountain closes overus, the colours fade, thedarkness has claimed anothervictim. (np.)Here finally, Schaferpoints to the dangerlurking in the depths ofevery labyrinth: eitherthe Minotaur or else theprospect of gettinglost. In both graphicnovels, Schafer leaveshis readers in the dark-not so much a new goal, and newcompetence,as an increase of total awareness. Itleadsnot to success, but to a new horizonofproblems’ (“Education in the Tribal/GlobalVillage” 210).In the case of the riddles, the ‘newhorizon of problems” maybe the author’srole in the riddling processas well as theaccess to an unspeakable. The positionofpower the author as riddler takesis that ofa shaman who leads the riddleeto a state ofmulti-consciousness that purportsto provideaccess to an unspeakable experience.The performative mode contributesto thestatus of the riddles as allegories ofriddling which in my view can beseen as tropesfor reading Watson’s allegoricalplays.That the pure allegorical mode of readingIdescribed as radical dispersonificationonlyoccurs in the elusive moment of recognitiondoes not diminish the allegorical thrustinthe riddles. I admit that the riddlesdonot constitute allegories in thesense ofproviding an extended allegorical narrative.Nevertheless, the brevity of theriddlesserves to isolate certain allegorical char-Left in a tazeAllegories of the Postniodern 269ness of the labyrinths:in Dicamus, this darkness is figurative because we do not reachthe elusive meaning andare left wondering whatwill happen betweenMinotaur and Theseus; inAriadne, the darkness isboth figurative andliteral because in thelast scene (76-81) thecity gradually blots outthe sky but also blackens the pages until weare left with a solidblack page (79) as areminder that the unspeakable either escapedus or else trapped us.acteristics so that the reader may contemplate them without the “ballast,’as itwere, of an extended narrative. It isimportant to note that these isolated characteristics are more constitutive of allegorythan the absent quality of an extended narrative. The riddles thus illustrate theallegorical implications of such devices aspersonification, parataxis and NGV.Left in a MazeAllegories of the Postinodern 270Watson’s riddles and Schafer’s labyrinthsfulfill asimilar function within the authors’oeuvres because they constitute microcosms of the authors’larger allegorical workswith regard to their structureand their power relations between author and reader.Structurally, riddles and labyrinths areconcerned withthe fact that the unspeakable eludes anykind of representationand that it must be presented in a ritualthat requires audience participation. For these reasons,riddles and labyrinthstry to go beyond the merely thematicrepresentation of some arcane knowledge by emphasizing the involvementin an intellectual exercise that turns the reader into an activeseeker forknowledge. This emphasis comes about through the (ritual)repetition of this involvement: almost every page containsanew riddle or a new labyrinth that the reader must solve.Moreover, as soon as the reader has solved and maneuveredtheriddles and labyrinths, respectively, they lose their mystery--a trait that is poignantly expressed by the decipherer inSchafer’s Dicamus who says:When the cryptogram is deciphered it breaks beforethe clear light of meaning. When the Labyrinth isdeciphered it disappears. (n.p.)Once the riddles and labyrinths have lost their mystery, Schafer compels his readers to continue theirquest on the nextpage where they will find another challenge. These rituals apLeft in a .mazeAllegories of the Postniodern 271proach in this way the conditionof a rehearsal for a performance that never quite takes place andseems endlessly deferred.This condition of an endless deferralof meaning can be compared to the postmodern condition asit presents itself throughthe deferral of meaning in allegory.In a similar way, Watson and Schafer deferclosure intheir works for the theatre. Watson,on the one hand, leadshis readers on to expectinga last judgement or a final redemption that he always forestallsby exposing the mere possibilityof such closures as illusory and ridiculous.Schafer, on theother, adjourns the redemption of hisprotagonists time andagain until he orchestrates a mythical redemptionthat comesentirely undeserved to his protagonists.By subjecting their readers to puzzling constructs,bothauthors take on the role of the sage who hasthe answer or thesolution that the readers must first striveto find out by undergoing a ritual. This ritual, then,has the status of an initiation to the world of the sage. Henceriddles and labyrinths construct a hierarchy of power between authorsand readers that is similar to that found in their allegorieswhere wefind an elitism that manifests itself in a certain aloofnessofWatson’s allegories and in outright initiation ritesin Schafer’s. The elitism of their allegories is largelyresponsiblefor their reconstructive postmodernism and canbe used to indicate their position in the postmodern continuum and its deconstructive and reconstructive impulses.272Chapter 7Coda: ReverberationsOne way of characterizing the postmoderncondition is thatthe discourses of sciencecannot provide satisfactory explanations and/or solutions to contemporarycrises facing humanityand the environment. These crisesthreaten both our individualand ontological beings on anunprecedented scale.’ There is awidespread need to fill the gap leftby the sciences by turningto spirituality. A particular type ofpostmodernism attemptsto fill that need. According to SuziGablik and other critics,reconstructive postmodernists re-enchantthe arts with a commitment to recover genuine hope and spiritualityby reconstructing lost or desacralized entities. Theartists are thedriving force behind this commitment. They supplythemselveswith authority in order to teach their commitmentto theiraudiences.Reconstructive postmodernists choose allegoryas a mode ofencoding language in order to introduce new beliefsystems.IIn The Fate of the Earth, Jonathan Schell arguesa similar point with regard to the nuclear threat. Hesays that global, nuclear extinction is a threat to the entire race surpassing any threats of wars or natural catastrophes humans hadtoface in previous eras when belief systems (suchas the Christian one) provided assurances that an apocalypticend is merelyanother beginning of a better and eternal life. However,nowthat the sciences have dismantled these beliefsystems, humanshave to face the possibility of absolute extinction. In myview, Schell’s argument also holds for the environmental crisisand the crisis of meaning.Coda: ReverberationsAllegories of the Postniodern 273This encoding corresponds to encryption,a process that bydefinition implies certainelitist connotations because theencoder hides a “message” from theuninitiated. Therefore, theprimary mode of reconstructivepostmodernism is elitist throughand through. Both Watson and Schaferuse allegory as a mode ofencoding language and asan elitist device.To Schafer, only the select few whoprove themselves worthy of initiation into his world willlearn how to decipher hisallegories and thereby unlockthe arcana hidden therein. Schafer exercises the most extremeform of this elitism in the epilogue to Patria, And Wolf Shall Inheritthe Moon, which indeedredefines the very notion of theatrein that it is restrictedto invited group members only. At first, Schaferplanned thisweek-long event to receive its first initiatesafter two tothree years of annual, preparatory meetingsin a remote part ofAlgonquin Park in central Ontario. Yet thetechnical difficulties of transportation and risks of injuryin the wildernesshave finally forced Schafer and his groupto give up the ideaof bringing in initiates. At this time, the epilogueto Patriacan only be experienced by the performersthemselves. To become a member of the group, one must be sponsoredby two current members who are responsible for the newcomer.This responsibility involves being a mentor to the initiateand makingsure that she or he is reliable in terms of annualparticipation.Watson’s allegories insist to a lesserdegree than Schafer’s on selection and initiation. Asa result, his allegoriescoda: ReverberationsAllegories of the Postniodern 274seem more democraticbecause they are open to everyone,butthey also proudly retainan aura of enigma so that Watsonleaves his audience withthe feeling that a complete decodingof the allegorical message”is endlessly deferred. A pertinent example is Number GridVerse, a method of notation whoseallegorical concerns can beintellectually understood without,however, grasping the experientialimpact of NGV.It is the author who holdsthe key to unlock the hiddenmeanings of the works. Watson’s and Schafer’selitism supportsa centripetal structure of authority: itinstates the author asan intermediary between textand reader. If audiences wanttodecode the hidden meanings, they have toaccept the authorityof the allegorist. The centripetalstructure of authority is acharacteristic of reconstructive postmodernism.The degree ofelitism, therefore, determines the degreeto which the worksare reconstructive.Even in Schafer’s Patria 3, which freelydeconstructs themore formal theatrical conventions of Patria I and 2,the audience strongly feels Schafer’s guiding handand how he constructs and re-constructs an underlying significance forthespectacle. In Watson’s Let’s Murder, however, it is anaccomplishment to avoid utter confusion at the mostsimple questionsthe play raises. Watson does not intervene sufficientlytoprovide coherent answers (or he is too enigmaticfor us to divine his meaning). Gablik suggests that it wouldbe better tolook at the two postmodernisms, not as antagonistic movements,Coda: Reverberations Allegories of the Postinodern275but as complementary components of a larger project thatremapsthe modern paradigm. Patria 3 andLet’s Murder illustrate particularly well the range of postmodernpossibilities Schaferand Watson cover. Both works employ deconstructivesteps inorder to re-construct lost meanings,but Schafer’s works aremore reconstructive, or more purelyso, than Watson’s, whoseworks at times veer towards a centrifugal structureof authority.The underlying elitist connotations of the reconstructiveallegorical method are in no small way relatedto emotivestates of melancholy. It is overwhelming experiencesof lossthat cause these melancholic states. Confronted witha worldthat has died under the scrutiny of their gazes, melancholicsbegin to protest in an attitude of mourning the lossof meaningby inscribing the dead world with new and deliberate meanings.Only the melancholics are in possession of these meaningsandfeel the loss that led them to conceive these meaningsin thefirst place. The privilege of their knowledge puts them inpositions of authority vis—ä-vis the recipient who must accepttheir authority in a leap of faith in order to uncover thesecret knowledge of their allegories.Reconstructive postmodernists, however, cannot representall of the secret knowledge because those parts of it thatrelate to the loss are unspeakable and must be experienced. Theloss, then, cannot be re-presented, but it can be presentedtoan audience by means of theatres that call in their key momentsCoda: ReverberationsAllegories of the Postodern 276for ritualized audienceparticipation. The searchfor new per-formative paradigms for theirtheatres leads both authorstoexperiment with diverse ritualsthat include the audiencetovarying degrees.Schafer’s splendid term “co-opera”epitomizesthis search. While addinga new spirit of cooperationto theopera (houses) that Schafercriticizes and utterly rejectsinthe l960s, his neologismalso suggests that anyone whopartici-pates in one of his works,be it as actor, singer, musician,spectator, designer, etal, participates fully in the co-operative effort. Everyone must contributeto that effort for it tobe successful. Defined in contradistinctionto the autonomy ofmodernist art, where thework of art does not draw thespectator into its realm, Gablik’snotion of “art as compassionateaction” (The Reenchantment 185)describes what Schafer demandsideally from performances of hisworks, namely that they be experienced in a spirit of wholeness andnon-exclusion--everyonehas an equally important part in theperformance. It must,however, also be said that Schafertakes himself and his message far too seriously to relegate all his authority totheperforming group at large. Even inthe epilogue to Patria,perhaps his most co-operative effortto date, it is he whodetermines the overall shape and directionof the ritual.Watson, too, shows his discontent with thetheatre of thel960s. He wants to recover authentic performancesby utilizingtheatre in ways that resurrect the ritualisticroots of theatre. To Watson, ritualistic repetitions, incantations,andCoda: ReverberationsAllegories of the Postmodern 277reversals of significant ritualsseem to achieve such anauthenticity. Watson defines himselfin the riddles as themaster who can build a riddleso elaborate that hardly anyonecan solve it. There is, then, an elementof condescension inWatson’s work: he feels himself superiorto his audience and isquite willing to illustrate his superiority.The same condescension can be felt in theparticipatory rituals of his plays,where he relates his allegorical message.Peculiarly, however,Watson’s condescension merges with his tendencyto take himselfnot all that seriously, a tendencythat shows in the irony ofhis plays.In her theorization of the postmodern,Linda Hutcheon doesnot admit any access to a primary sphere ofexistence. Viewingthe postmodern as based solely on representation, shedeclarespostmodernism as incapable of going beyonda “complicitous critique” in order to initiate political action.Suzi Gablik, on the other hand, holds that artists in particular are in touch with a primary sphere of existence thatisnot mediated through representation but through spiritual experience. Her theory of the postmodern allows for politicalaction but presumes that the spheres of aesthetics and politicsare merged into a new politicized aesthetics which constitutesa shift of paradigm.That Watson’s and Schafer’s unspeakables cannot be represented also accounts for the performative aspectin some ofWatson’s and Schafer’s non-dramatic works because they involveCoda.’ ReverberationsAllegories of the Postraodern 278the readers in the text by enlistingthem to solve riddles andmaneuver labyrinths. Solving a riddleand maneuvering a labyrinth are akin to engaging inritualized exercises or rehearsals insofar as these worksserve to introduce the recipienttothe notion of an unspeakablethat must be experienced. But theritualized exercises can neithersustain nor extend that experience from a temporary transportationto a permanent transformation of the audience.The ritualized audience participationleads to group experiences that may give way to a groupdynamics that negates anyindividual’s enlightened self. Seen inconjunction with theinordinate amount of graphic violence against womenand helpless victims in their works,2 sucha group dynamics must givepause. Is it conceivable that the group turnson a participant, labels her or him a scapegoat, andacts accordingly?At this point, we recognize how important (or risky)theaudience’s leap of faith truly is and how it is contingenton afundamental trust in the benignity of the allegorist’sauthority. Both Watson and Schafer have made reassuring commentswith regard to the graphic violence in their works.2Both Watson and Schafer indulge in presenting scenesonstage in which an all-powerful party tortures women and helpless victims who are tied or restrained by their torturers.Towit, see the “tonsillectomy” performed on the femalesinger inSchafer’s The Greatest Show, the blinding of Cyril inWatson’sCockcrow, or the tortures the women inflict on the fascistinGramsci x 3.Cod