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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 fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may 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 shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)_______________________________Department of 1&.The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate LJLrDE-6 (2/88)11AbstractThe characteristic doubling of postmodern works of art is best seen interms of an allegorical gesture that melancholics undertake in order to createlife in an entity they consider dead and meaningless. Walter Benjamin hastheorized the allegorical gesture and provides a basis for extending his understanding of modern allegory to the postmodern. The postinodern can be seenas a continuum that at its two extremes veers towards a deconstructive and areconstructive impulse, respectively. While the former decentres meaning andauthority, the latter reconstructs the two on the basis of an arbitrary allegorical construct that relies itself on audience belief which is generatedin participatory rituals. Watson and Schafer exemplify the interdependenciesof these two postrnodern impulses and their emblematical qualities. Furthermore, they illustrate how melancholics view the world, how they imbue theirworks with a political agenda, and how they try to indoctrinate theiraudiences. Ultimately, the allegorical construct is as ideological as what itbrutally replaces. An outward sign of the violence that is at the root of theallegorical gesture can be seen in the many acts of violence in Watson andSchafer. Watson’s project ends in ambiguity because he ironically subvertshis own authority so that the audience is left mocking the allegorical “message.” Schafer, on the other hand, represses the challenge that this violenceposes to his allegorical construct. Although he does not realize it, his workremains caught in ideology. Reconstructive postmodernisrn, as far as itdepends on the author(ity) of allegory, is thus built on a validating act ofthe audience, which is a leap of faith rooted in ideology.Wilfred Watson R. Murray SchaferChapter 2 Visions of Beginning 29Decolonizing the North: Obscuring the Program:Schafer’s Music in the Cold Watson’s “Sermon on Bears”Chapter 3 Foundations:The Postmodern Continuum and the Allegorical Gesture . 55TableAbstractTable of ContentsList of FiguresAcknowledgementDedicationChapter 1of ContentsPrelude:The Argument11]11111VViVii1and Biographical SketchesStefan HaagContents Allegories of the Postinodern ivThe Village Fair as a Site for the Construction ofGender90122142190Chapter 6 Left in a Maze 234Labyrinths of Allegories: Allegories of Riddling:Schafer’s Labyrintheatre Watson’s RiddlesChapter 7 Coda:Reverberations 272Bibliography 286Chapter 4Chapter 5The Work of Wilfred Watson:Last JudgementsMeaningful ReversalsPostmodern Multi-ConsciousnessesThe Work of R. Murray Schafer:Postmodern McLuhanesque UtopianismFrom the Stage to a Wilderness Lake and Back Again:Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle168171Appendix Descriptions of R. Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle . 322VList of FiguresFig. 1: Richard Rosenblum’s Manscape 74Fig. 2: Schafer’s “Boustrophedon” (Ariadne 17).... 239Fig. 3: A fragmented delineation of Ariadne’s name(Ariadne 42-43) 241Fig. 4 & 5: Labyrinths from Dicamus 246 & 247Fig. 6: Overlaying of texts in Dicamus 248Fig. 7 & 8: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus 249 & 250Fig. 9: Four icons from Watson’s riddles 260Fig. 10: Cryptographic private thoughts from Ariadne 262Fig. 11: The Princess of the Stars on Two Jack Lake 281viAcknowledgementMy 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 project and her generosity and kindnesswere the encouragement I needed to persevere.I also would like to thank my dissertation committee, Richard Cavell,Peter Löffler, and Peter Quartermain, for numerous discussions and fortheir helpful comments on previous drafts. Shirley Neuman and the librarians in Special Collections at the University of Alberta Library in Edmonton permitted me to do research in the Wilfred Watson Papers as well as toquote from them. I also owe thanks to Wilfred and Sheila Watson, MurraySchafer, Diane Bessai, Thomas Peacocke, and Elizabeth Beauchamp, for timespent talking to me but also for valuable copies of books, scores, andtypescripts. I am grateful to Scott Taylor for many anecdotes about theWatsons and McLuhan as well as for his hospitality during a research tripto Edmonton.Courteously, R. Murray Schafer and Shirley Neuman (for NeWest Press)have given me permission to reproduce material from books for which theyhold copyright.Finally, I have been fortunate enough to have the wholehearted support of my parents and of my wife Hélène. To Hélène I am also grateful forreading drafts and offering suggestions but mostly for the ongoing dialogue. In recognition of their contribution, I happily dedicate my dissertation to my parents and to Hélène.xCCD’CDCD..CD’CDCDCD<CDCDr‘1-t CDri (‘2 CD1Chapter 1PreludeThe ArgumentThis dissertation is not about two authors but about al—legories of the postmodern or, more precisely, about what Iunderstand to be a continuum of the postmodern that veers atits one extreme toward a deconstructive impulse and at itsother toward a reconstructive impulse. I use the authors merely as case studies that shed light upon discontinuous, post-modern attempts to confront contemporary crises of loss anddesacralizat ion.Bringing together two authors who depict two discontinuousmoments in a discontinuous postmodernity means (to a certainextent at least) accepting discontinuity as 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 relations topostmodernism 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 of the Postinodern 2most importantly, their use of allegory as their primary methodof composition.Even though at times I seem to compare the authors--an impression, imagined or real, that cannot be avoided in a studythat of necessity must organize its material in a way thatusually indicates comparison--it is not the primary objectiveof this dissertation to do so. As well, this dissertation isnot a study of influence. The authors in question, to myknowledge, have not influenced each other, and I do 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 toPrelude Allegories of the Postmodern 3find a way of relating its semiotics to culture at large.This (necessary but difficult) harmonization of semiotic codesseems too much of a detour for a dissertation that in any caseis neither focussed on Schafer’s work alone, nor on Schafer asone of two authors, but on allegories of the postmodern.1 The schism between music and culture is a result of thefact that music is a non-conceptual semiotic system. (AsLeonard Bernstein has shown in his Charles Eliot Norton lectures with regard to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the status of“program” music collapses under close scrutiny so that only“absolute” music remains [ch. 21.) On the one hand, this semiotic condition of music serves as an advantage and accounts forthe special philosophical status of music in the work of manyaestheticians (such as Eduard Hanslick, who argued againstSchopenhauer and Wagner by maintaining an “absolute” status formusic), but, on the other, it also causes 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 Ph.D.in 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, Schafer triedto recover loss by opting for meaningfulalternatives which fill the void of loss.After his high-school graduation, Schafer began studying piano and composition atthe 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 river Rhinebeyond which there was unknown territory, inhabited by irrational, frightful barbarians who, needless to say, were nevercovered in the same lesson unit.Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 6Having been exposed to these sentiments day-in and day-outfor the better part of my life, I sometimes caught myself beingastonished that it was so easy to cross the Limes when I wentfrom Trier to, say, Frankfurt. Despite all geographical education 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 atheatre venue.* 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. In the interviews, he attempts to draw out idiosyncracies as well as similarities of the composers’ methods. But, as he points out inhis introduction, the creative process remains ultimately a ‘mystery’ that is unspeakable: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 until 1976.* 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, a study inwhich he grapples with romanticism and whatit means to him.* 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 partook ina string of events that convinced me not only of the reality ofthe other side but also of the fact that this Other is not somuch unknown as it is repressed, in reality an integral andnecessary part of the worldview I had been taught in my youth.Prelude Allegories of the 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 value of themoon, listen to Epitaph for 1oonlight. In it, he mourns theloss 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 in a 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 moon asa 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 to a 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 the oldest part oftown, the Altstadt, into a quagmire of polluted waters and 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 Canadianand performative.*ness and diffidence’ (E.T.A. Hoffmann 3-4).This self-consciousness is the result of adifferent outlook on the world that he expresses poignantly: “The spectacle of Beethoven playing C-sharp minor arpeggios bymoonlight on the Danube is difficult tobring into view now that moonlight has beenreplaced by neon* and all the rivers areWhat added to the singularity of the event was the crowd ofPrelude Allegories of the Postinodern 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 ambivalence towardsromanticism by referring to the loss of aromantic symbol, namely moonlight, and theloss of a worldview that does not have totake into consideration environmental pollution. Loss, to him, is an obstacle toachieving the romantic state of mind. Schafer thus is torn between wanting to 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 produce asatisfactory answer, he wrote letters tomany distinguished composers and scholarscontaining merely this direct question. Theseveral thousand people that gathered one Sunday afternoon onthe Hohenzollern-bridge crossing the Rhine near the cathedral.The crowd was there to watch what had happened in the overnightbattle between city and river. It was 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 vividly more thanthirty years later was John Cages.* Schafer has since included Cage’s definition 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 Schafer atrend in twentieth century music to overcomemore exclusive definitions of music. Furthermore, the reference to Thoreau’s Waldenconnects this new concept of music to environmental sounds. Enthusiastically,1993.Schafer made these comments in conversation to me inconfronting an irrational entity whose power the crowd fearedyet haughtily defied.* This crowd was knit together into aI 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 that some* 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 November 1959.** 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 of the‘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 Patria cycle.* 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 “Reil Ritler* but *candy,throw us candy’ (“KameHe, dunn os KameHe”) because, if there is a 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 provides a link between my experience and some of the works under scrutiny in my dissertation.Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 12state of liminality, watching the irrational onslaught, not ofthe barbarians on the Romans, but of nature on civilization.Hovering in security over that spectacle, the crowd was in between opposing forces, gaining a dizzying perspective that 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 1955-1960.ing this time, he realized how influentialthe surrounding soundscape was on his compositions.During his tenure at SFU, Schafer wroteThe Tuning of the World,* a study of sounding environments (urban, rural, and natural)that single-handedly laid the foundationsfor the new interdisciplines of “acousticecology” and “acoustic design” (205 and passim). Schafer defines acoustic ecology as“the study of sounds in relationship to lifeand society (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 the acousticenvironment 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 predicteduniversal deafness as the ultimate consequence unlesstion began crumbling and the crowd eventually crossed over intoirrationality; that is, instead of watching the spectacle of acontest between civilization and nature, the crowd deridedother 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 )y 605).Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 14--I“Liminality” to me, then, signifies being in a positionbetween Self and Other, between reason and irrationality, between what I know and what I fear. Being in this position allows one to spy out the feared Other of irrationality withoutest 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, and Up 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 disPrelude Allegories 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 about the sametime as the Christian mystics (such asMeister Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, Angela deFoligno) died. Linking silence to contemplation and even concentration illustrates the interpenetration of aesthetic,spiritual and pragmatic standards in Schafer’s approach toward acoustic design (258).Taking the soundscape of the world as amusical composition, Schafer remarks that‘we are simultaneously its audience, itsperformers and its composers” (205). Whilethe metaphor of “orchestrating the soundscape” may at first appear like an urge todetermine and even control the soundscape,he qualifies this notion as follows:Acoustic design should never becoffie design controlfroa above. It is rather a aatter of the retrievalgoing all the way, that is, without actually crossing over intounknown territory. I suspect, however, that the dichotomy ofSelf and Other is not as rigorous as I have described it although it is subject to constant remappings onto other dichoPrelude Allegories of the Postniodern 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 since become 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 a repressed part of itself as an Other in an objective way ratherPrelude Allegories of the 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, the liminalposition suspends social or rationally conditioned behavior infavor of a carnivalesque community that reacts less obedientlyto authority.Prelude Allegories of the Postt7iodern 18Now I would like to note some of the parallels that existbetween Watson and Schafer and that lead to explorations of thepostmodern. In three allegorical poems written during his period of reorientation, Watson sketches a vision of a 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.2 Critics 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).Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 19With these visions, I argue, the authors position themselves at a liminal point between what they know and what theyfear. At this liminal point, they encounter anOther that provides access to various unspeakables.3Henceforth I will write “anOther,” not “the Other,” inorder to allow for the possibility of other Others. Furthermore, I write “anOther” not “an Other,” to indicate the nonspecificity of this concept.Prelude Allegories of the 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’sI artistic work. I argue thatPrelude Allegories of 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 the Postinodern 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 wilderness lake.*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).Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 23radically decenters the modern humanbeing who cultivated a unified butone-dimensional consciousness bycreating 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 ode Allegories 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.Prelude Allegories of the Postiodern 25settings are peopled with allegoricaland mythical characters that require afair amount of prior knowledge to beunderstood 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 “Towards aCanadian 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-Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 26sence. McLuhan argues that since theinvention of the printing press wehave lived in a culture determined bythe book and the eye. In this way,the rise of a visual culture put 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 and ofexpression which are oral” in form evenwhen the components of the situation may benon-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 experienceprovoked pantheistic sensations. 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 thePrelude Allegories of tile Postnioderii 27transformation from visual to acousticspace occurs, in which the eye has tosort words and numerals into groupsfor the ear to recognize. For thistransformation to occur, the readermust perform the NGV. Performancealso enhances the polyphonic possibilities of multi-voiced NGV whichstacks 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 methods as 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 of the 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 it were.* 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 would like to consider briefly the worlds these two artists have created. I donot intend to provide full-fledged analyses in this chapter.As a matter of course, references to my theoretical apparatusare few and take the form of an occasional foreshadowing. WhatI do intend, however, is to transport my reader into a state ofbenign apprehension in which an intuitional reading of the selected texts is possible. I contend that the more Watson andSchafer tend towards the reconstructive end of the postmoderncontinuum, the more they exhort such intuitions from theiraudience.Wilfred Watson and II. Murray Schafer have both createdworks that seem inaccessible. Watson’s poetry and drama seem,on first sight, very abstract and not at all concerned with arecipient’s understanding of them. Schafer’s Patria, likewise,seems at first overwhelming because of its many sequels and itsuse of many different media. Nonetheless, both authors alsowrite shorter texts that serve to mediate between their idiosyncratic works and what they view and construct as larger, explanatory contexts. The “Sermon on Bears” section of Watson’sPoems and Schafer’s Music in the Cold sketch visions of Canadaand its art that serve as programs for their allegories of thepostmodern.Visions Allegories 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 and l96l.* 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 on Bears in Prism 2,2(Winter 1961). Throughout this chapter, 1refer to their reprint in Poems 45-58.Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 31North. 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 following section (IV), Schafer describes the repossession of the North by the North.This decline of “Canada” takes up 55lines (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 from passive 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” withVisions Allegories of the Postmodern 32ever, I also see Music in the Cold asan 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: Northern geography 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 name ofthe species much in the mannerof the scientific discourse ofanthropology. The first lineof 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 hasVisions Allegories of the Postmodern 33Schafer’s construction consists of anumber of dichotomies positing Northand South as the two poles of a continuum. The assumption of such a 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 wanton actof 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-Visions Allegories 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 colonial discourses.* That Schaferin this first section of Music in 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 ColonialistLiterature.ist education presents a bastion of male dominance. InGod’s mind, a “good foreign,European, education” consistsentirely of studying male artists and their works: formusic, Wagner, Brahms, Beethoven; for painting, Rubens andRembrandt; 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 Allegories of the Postmodern 35the world before he can truly capturehis North.Notwithstanding the colonialist patterns, 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-Visions Allegories of the Postijiodern 36in need of instruction in this matter:“The scene yp miss is the white hunterwith the white bow stalking the whiteanimal’ (65, emphasis added).In the remainder of this first section, and with the words “I am a Northerner” (66), Schafer asserts himselfand maintains that he is part of 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 thus replacesone 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 of the 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 toVisions Allegories 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, for theunderlying 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 forVisions Allegories of the Postrnodern 39a matter of course, Canada replaces theNorth, or, more precisely, Schafer’sCanada replaces Schafer’s North becausethey 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 based uponthe expectation of unlimited growth.As a matter of course, then, the urgeto quantify “achievements is intrinsicto this society and leads to a ‘beliefin quantification as the definingcharacter of the real--a characteristic that Robert Frodeman described asthe foundation of modern society(“Radical Environmentalism and thePolitical Roots of Postmodernism” 308).Schafer takes this belief in progress to its logical extreme. But healso points to a necessary side effectof quantification, namely that in aworld 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 paints apicture 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)Visions Allegories 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 used to compare one person with others and 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 “the mostpowerful nation” with respect to thosestandards that colonialism mistakenlybelieves to be universal. He considersall those values that grow out of theplace, or out of the North, to be 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 the administration one can hear the ‘hissingair conditioners” (70, 71). AlthoughPerhaps Watson is pointing inthis stanza at his reinterpretation of McLuhan’s mediatheory. In his view, media donot extend sense (as McLuhanclaimed) but they make sense.In beast-poetry, words do 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”Visions A]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” is anabbreviation for low fidelity, that is, an unfavorablesignal-to-noise ratio. Applied to soundscape studies a lofi environment is one in which signals are overcrowded,resulting in masking or lack of clarity (The Tuning of theld 272).Visions Allegories of 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 about becausethere 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;Visions Allegories 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 short ofsuggesting 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” sectionVisions Allegories 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>Visions Allegories 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. (Marshall McLuhan 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 revision too.*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.Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 46into numbers--not into the quantifyingnumbers of the “Canadian” age, but intothe absence of quantity:Wolves howled derisively atnight--0000 0000 0000ZeroZeroZero. (73)Out of this absence of quantity growsthe absence of (mechanical) noise: “Allis still” (73). In Schafer’s view,this is the perfect stillness for 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 the titlein light of the entire poemwill further unlock its significance. There is indeedsome merit to such reconsiderations because of the many generic titles in Watson’s poetry.As we shall see, these titlesmanipulate the reading processin subtle ways.A generic title describeseither form or generic contentor both of the poem. Watsonhas assigned generic titles tomany 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 and genericZeroVisions Allegories of the Postniodern 47takes and of projecting a better future.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 in theCold because the middle-aged man issurvivor, inventor (of “unknown instruments’), and artist in one person. Themiddle-aged man/”I”/Schafer seeks tooccupy 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 employsVisions Allegories 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 in theCold, Schafer continues what he beganin the first, but with the additionalexperience of what can go wrong. Thelast and first sections serve as orientation points that help us to anchorSchafer’s vision; they constitute anunchanging frame within which some aggressive 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 number oftypefaces. 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 with CountinRand 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).Visions Allegories 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 his methods of composing his works.When Music in the Cold was republished in 1984 in On Canadian Music,Schafer included a prefatory paragraphgiving some background information onthe 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 make up 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’ exVisions Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 50gy,” it is indeed a statement manifesting Schafer’s position on art and lifein what he believes to be North. Butenunciatory qualites are not alone constitutive of manifestoes. For thisreason, one could say that Schafer wasmisguided when he called Music in theCold a manifesto.However, I contend that Schaferquestions this strong link in his text.In “Re-Introducing Canadian ‘Art of theTheatre’: 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 to acertain modern concept of progress asan avant-garde unavoidably is. To thecontrary, Schafer utterly discreditsprogress in the modern sense. As aresult, it seems unfit to serve as aconcept to govern a culture, and Schapectations. It may be verybroad, as in “pome,” which suggests an orthographic variationof the word poem as well as 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,’Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 51fer insists upon a revaluation of thecentral position of progress in ourcurrent view of the world. At the sametime, he asks us to validate an attitude that would bring us “back” to nature.The work that ultimately did followSchafer’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 will to 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 recipient inthe position of the ignorantbut eager-to-learn riddlee andthe poet in the position of theknowing and eager-to-teachriddler.Two of the three poemssketching 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 manifesto as 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 envisionedVisions Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 52the Cold focuses on similarly fundamental losses, such as on the loss of thenatural soundscape, on the loss of thehuman capacity to appreciate the natural soundscape while we can, and on theloss of regional standards in favor 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 than acontent: 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 dependsVisions Allegories of the Postmodern 53on convincing his audience of his authority, 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 are arepresentative 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 stealthily hints at the second impulse.This stealth reminds me of oneof Suzi Gablik’s assertions:Deconstructive artistsl oftenwork 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 ourVisions Allegories of the Postmodern 54the status quo (in Music in the Coldthrough the use of manichean dichotomies) . But I also suspect that in themore recent Patria works, Schaferbreaks through to a new paradigm ofthinking which is in harmony with thenatural soundscape and in which humansrepossess a place in nature that is nota privileged place at all but merelyone that allows us to take part in whatSchafer has so fittingly described, inanother context, as the “supreme activity called life” (The Tuning of 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 Erlioffte nie erreiclien. “1 (Ernst Block)“Allegories of the Postmodern”--the first part of my titlebrings the two terms into a relation of derivation or reference. Hence allegories of the postmodern are not necessarilypostmodern allegories; they can also be allegories about thepostmodern. I want to use the intersection of these conceptsas a starting point for my discussion of the postmodern continuum and its deconstructive and reconstructive impulses.On the one hand, the relation of derivation addresses allegories 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 gesture provides allegorists withconsiderable authority because it enables them to fill whatthey consider a meaningless entity with their own meaning. Themeaningless entity is defenseless in regard to the allegorists’1 Except where otherwise noted, all translations are myown, and the original passages appear in footnotes: “Whosoeverdoes not hope for the unexpected, will never attain what s/hehopes for.”Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 56re-inscription that either ties the entity in complicity to thestatus quo or engages it in redemptive projects of filling thevoid of a perceived loss. Both types of re-inscription inflatethe allegorists’ authority beyond the entity in question andreach out to the recipient whom allegorists try to overwhelmwith their newly gained authority. The redemptive projects aimat accomplishing aspects of a process that a number of theorists have described as the “reenchantment” of the world. SuziGablik views the reenchantment of art as the constitutiveprocess of an alternative, “reconstructive” postmodernism.Once I have theorized the postmodern continuum, I can situateWatson and Schafer with regard to deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernism.On the other hand, the relation of reference identifiesthe postmodern as a broader cultural phenomenon about which allegories of the postmodern make an allegorical commentary.This allegorical commentary depends on 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, the authority itself is contingent on being accepted by the recipient in a leap of faith.Deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernists affirm thisleap of faith in different ways; while the former solipsistically 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 want to outlinemy understanding of allegory. I build on Walter Benjamin’sFoundations Allegories of the Postmodern 57theorizations of modern2 allegory because I contend that theprinciples he ascribes to modern allegory (loss, melancholy,reinscription, and authority) hold for postmodern allegory aswell.In Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, Walter Benjaminviews the allegorical gesture as based upon the emotive stateof melancholy. He describes how Lutherism denied good deedsany special powers to salvage the soul from damnation. Peoplewere thus solely dependent on their belief in God’s grace. According to Benjamin, this rigorous morality had far-reachingconsequences:By denying “good deeds” the spiritual force to workmiracles, Lutherism implemented in the people astrict obedience to duty but in the great men it ledto melancholy.3The root cause of this melancholy is a loss of a belief, herethe belief in the salvation powers of good deeds. But the losswas not confined to theological matters. Because of an underlying dark belief in fate that has its roots in Germaniclore, that loss gradually broadened into an existential loss ofthe belief in good deeds altogether. As a result, human ac2“Modern” here refers not to modernism, but to modernity;that is, to the socio-cultural conditions that came into beingwith the Renaissance.3 “Indem [das Luthertum] die besondere geistliche Wunderwirkung [den “guten Werken”] absprach . . . hat es im Volkezwar den strengen Pflichtgehorsam angesiedelt, in semen Gro3enaber den Trübsinn” (119).Follildatiojis Allegories of the Postmodern 58tions were robbed of value and an empty, meaningless world cameabout.The “great men” of that age felt the existential impasseof a meaningless world acutely. They mourned the devaluationof life:Because those [the great men] who dug deeper sawthemselves thrown into a being filled with ruinous,half-hearted, false actions, Life itself protestedagainst that.4Benjamin encapsulates an essentialist notion of life in hisdescription of the allegorical gesture. It is this essentialism that makes Benjamin’s theorization of allegory compatiblewith Gablik’s notion of reconstructive postmodernism (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 condition for a certain type ofcreativity, namely an active rewriting of the world:Mourning is the mental outlook in which emotion enlivens the emptied world like a masque in order togain a riddle-like satisfaction from gazing at it.The emotion Benjamin mentions in this passage needs furtherreflection for it is the foundation of the allegorical gestureas Benjamin describes it and as I use it to describe postmodern“Denn die tiefer Schürfenden sahen sich in das Daseinals in em Trümrnerfeld halber, unechter Handlungen hineingestelit. Dagegen schlug das Leben selbst aus” (120).5 “Trauer ist die Gesinnung, in der das Gefühl die entleerte Welt maskenhaft neubelebt, urn em rätselhaftes Genügenan ihrem Anblick zu haben” (120).Foundations Allegories of the Postiiiodern 59allegory. In a complex proposition, Benjamin suggests thatthis emotion occurs independent of the empirical subject andinstead attaches itself to the materiality of an object. Themourning intensifies the underlying intention of this emotion:Every emotion is bound to an apriori object and itspresentation is its phenomenology. The theory ofmourning . . . can thus be developed only in the inscription of the melancholist’s world. For the emotions, as vague as they may appear to self-apprehension, respond in mechanical attitudes to anobjective structure of the world. . . . A mechanicalattitude that has its determined location in thehierarchy of intentions and is called emotion onlybecause this location is not the highest. Being comparable only to love among the emotions (and notlightheartedly either), the surprising persistence ofthe intention determines this location. For [mourning is] capable of a particular intensification andcontinuous, profound thought of its intention. Profound contemplation is appropriate primarily for thesad person.6As a result of the intensification of intention, the reinscription of the world appears all the more forceful and potentiallycoercive to the recipient. These characteristics of reinscrip—6 “Jedes Gefühl ist gebunden an einen apriorischen Gegenstand und dessen Darstellung ist seine Phanomenologie. DieTheorie der Trauer . . . ist demnach nur in der Beschreibungjener Welt, die unterm Blick des Melancholischen sich auftut,zu entrollen. Denn die Gefühle, wie vage immer sie der Selbstwahrnehmung scheinen mogen, erwidern als motorisches Gebareneinem gegenstandlichen Aufbau der Welt. . . . Eine motorischeAttitude, die in der Hierarchie der Intentionen ihren wohlbestimmten Ort hat und Gefühl nur darum heif3t, weil es nicht derhöchste ist. Bestimmt wird er durch die erstaunliche Beharrlichkeit der Intention, die unter den Gefühlen aul3er diesemvielleicht--und das nicht spielweis--nur der Liebe eignet.Denn [Trauer ist] zur besonderen Steigerung, kontinuierlichenVertiefung ihrer Intention befähigt. Tiefsinn eignet vor allemdem Traurigen” (120).Foundatiolls Allegories of the Postniodern 60tion are contingent upon the peculiar alliance between allegoryand authority.Inscribing a dead world with new and deliberate meanings,Benjamin says, is the principal allegorical gesture. I arguethat inscribing the world can be seen as an encoding of language in order to show that the allegorical gesture primarilyresponds to a crisis of meaning.The metaphor of encoding is particularly appropriate toclarify the allegorical gesture: encoding signifies 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 that is to be converted intocode. The allegorists’ inscription constitutes the code inwhich they store the dead world. New meaning (of the inscription) and the stored plain text (of the dead world) make up thecipher. The gaze of the melancholic authors forces objects inthe newly inscribed world to exhibit, in a double gesture, boththeir demise and resurrection as signifying entities. That iswhy the manner of encoding information in allegory is contingent upon the melancholic gaze. The allegorists control thenew meaning. This meaning is anOther of the object, and, as aconsequence, the allegorical gesture provides allegorists withprivileged access to a normally hidden knowledge. Hence theyI use meaning in a way that foreshadows several connotations that Gablik assigns to the term. Meaning, to her, has aquasi-biological function in human life: without it, we cannotexist (see my discussion of meaning below).Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 61revere the allegorical object, not only as an emblem of thishidden knowledge, but also as a store of authority.Allegory, then, can be seen as a mode of encoding languagewith another (or anOther) meaning.8 It may defer meaning either to another level of contemplation or even endlessly if theauthors choose (for whatever reasons) not to provide a key atall. I understand the postmodern primarily as a crisis ofmeaning. The deferral of meaning in allegory exhibits thiscrisis and explains the prevalence of allegory in the post-modern.At this point, I want to broaden my discussion of allegoryby comparing briefly Linda Hutcheon’s and Suzi Gablik’stheories of the postmodern. Hutcheon’s work is an importantstarting point for any discussion of the postmodern in theCanadian context, but Gablik offers a broader understandingthat I find particularly useful, especially when her theory ofthe postmodern continuum is read in conjunction with Benjamin’stheory of allegory. Benjamin and Gablik also build theirtheories on essentialist notions with which Hutcheon’s positionis incompatible.At the beginning of her book on The Reenchantment of Art,Suzi Gablik admits freely that hers is not so much an“academic, scholarly work” as it is a “sustained meditation[with] a visionary bias” (1). She then sketches the coor—8 This is also Angus Fletcher’s initial observation (3).Foundations Allegories 01’ the Postniodern 62dinates of a postmodernism that she calls “reconstructive” andviews as diametrically opposed to “deconstructive” post-modernism. However, “diametrically opposed” to her does notmean that the two postmodernisms are not in subtle ways contingent on each other. On the contrary, Gablik writes, ourculture reveals itself best in the interplay of its opposingtendencies (9), which is why she strives to construct the twopostmodernisms, not as antagonistic movements, but as complementary components of a larger project in which many disciplines remap the modern paradigm.The term “deconstructive” postmodernism warrantsclarification. In her use of the term, Gablik does not referdirectly to Jacques Derrida because in her view, it is JeanBaudrillard who “has been most influential in orchestrating theart world’s whole deconstructive scenario” (31). Nonetheless,the type of poststructuralist philosophy she holds responsiblefor the deconstructive impulse in postmodernism also revealsDerrida’s influence, especially when she discusses the crisisof meaning, which to her is triggered by the deconstruction ofmeaning.In The Politics of Postmodernism, Hutcheon outlines herunderstanding of postmodernism and its politics, but a decisivedifference between Hutcheon and Gablik is that where Gablik be-Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 63holds “meaning,” Hutcheon sees “representation.”9 Postmodernmeaning, for Hutcheon, is always already and endlessly deferredso that we can only access it through representation:What postmodern theory and practice together suggestis that everything always was ‘cultural’ . . . thatis, always mediated by representations. (34)By deflecting the issue of meaning into one of representation,Hutcheon says, postmodernism challenges our mimetic assumptionsabout representation. For her, the key question is this:We may see, hear, feel, smell, and touch it [thereal’], but do we know it in the sense that we givemeaning to it? (33)But her question assumes that meaning is 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 aesthetics Gablik proposes.At the end of The Reenchantment of Art, Gablik expresses herHutcheon’s approach towards meaning and representationalso explains why she only mentions Murray Schafer’s The Characteristics Man without alluding to the Patria cycle. Lookingat The Characteristics Man in its larger context within Patriawould precisely lead to those aspects of meaning that go beyondrepresentation, namely the participatory rituals. Excludingthose aspects seems to be a blindspot in Hutcheon’s view of thepostmodern. For a discussion of The Characteristics Man andits context see ch. 5.10 As Hutcheon’s quotation marks signify, the “real” itself is a doubtful category that is not fit to serve as a foundation. Nonetheless, it points to realism which seems to bethe yardstick against which she measures everything: “Whatpostmodernism does is to denaturalize both realism’s transparency and modernism’s reflexive response [to realism’s transparency], while retaining (in its typically complicitously critical way) the historically attested power of both” (34).Follildations Allegories of tile Postniodern 64hope that her book is a first step towards an aesthetics oreven theory of a hitherto only marginal movement, that of the“reenchantment” of art. She writes:My sense is that the artists in this book who havemoved beyond protest and oppositional mind to embracereconciliation and positive social alternatives donot represent merely the response of isolated individuals to the dead-endedness of our present situation. They are not a movement in a vacuum. They areprototypes who embody the next historical and evolutionary stage of consciousness, in which the capacityto be compassionate will be central not only to ourideals of success, but also to the recovery of both ameaningful society and a meaningful art. (182)In this passage, Gablik summarizes key issues of the newaesthetics she envisions. One of these is “meaningfulness.”Gablik initiates her discussion of meaning in modern and post-modern paradigms by quoting Albert Camus, who maintains that“the question of life’s meaning is the most urgent question ofall.”11 Gablik takes Camus’s dictum as evidence that there is‘‘ Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 29. Gablik repeatedlyrelies on Albert Camus to explain key terms. Another exampleof this reliance on Camus is the monological encapsulation ofartist and observer that reconstructive postmodernism mustovercome in order to become more “dialogical” and establish a“relational dyad” of artist and audience. Her reference toCamus is as follows: “‘Art cannot be a monologue,’ Albert Camuswrote in Resistance, Rebellion and Death. ‘Contrary to thecurrent presumption, if there is any man who has no right tosolitude it is the artist’” (Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art158). Gablik views Camus as a signpost of the modern aporiawith regard to existential questions. I do not think that thewords “dialogical” and “monological” should be seen asreferences to Bakhtin because of the ethical overtones ofGablik’s argument. She clearly seeks to integrate Camus intoan ethical argument on the impact of these existential questions on the human condition and how we can respond to them under current circumstances. Her treatment of Camus is similarto Watson’s; see ch. 4.Foundatiojis Allegories of the Postmodern 65a “will-to-meaning” that she understands to be a “fundamentaldrive of human life,” so much so, that a framework of meaningis an “essential biological need” for the human organism (29).According to Gablik, however, poststructuralist philosophyenacts a radical break with this drive and undermines the “verylegitimacy of meaning itself” (29). Hence, she perceives acrisis of meaning on two levels.The first level concerns the way that signs or images maybe deconstructed to destabilize the symbolic order. In thisway, deconstructive postmodernists question the union of signifier and signified, a union which is necessary to convey aspecific meaning. She argues thatlife presents itself, in our current society, as anendless accumulation of meaningless spectacles,originating in the loss of any unifying narrative ofthe world. (31)As a result, postmodern works of art tend to exhibit a crisisof narrative meaning and social function. In the paintings ofDavid Salle for instance, Gablik says, “anything goes with anything, like a game without rules; images slide past one another, dissociated and decontextualized, failing to link up into acoherent sequence” (30). She distinguishes this deconstructiveworking method from that of the Surrealists, who also createddisjunctive and decontextualized images but 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 any referent”(30).Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 66Deconstructive postmodernism, however, subverts meaning onyet another level that, to Gablik, represents an even greaterrisk to meaning. She defines this risk as follows:There is also the greater loss of a mythic, transpersonal ground of meaning in the way that our particular culture transmits itself. It is the spirit, or“binding power” holding everything together, the pattern connecting and giving significance to the whole,that is lacking in the underlying picture we have ofour world. (30)Gablik describes this level further with regard to differentways of looking at works of art. On the one hand, the audienceremains passive in front of a spectacle. This passivity, shesays,is the very opposite of waking up, looking at eventscritically, seeing reality and feeling responsible--that is to say, responding to what is going on.Responsibility implies that one is carrying out intentions, shaping the environment, influencingothers. (33)In a world determined by television and computer screens wherevastly different events appear on a single plane of electronicflow, we are confronted with more and more information and lessand less meaning so that “the ‘will’ to meaning often deliberately courts meaninglessness and even finds satisfaction in it”(33-34). Gablik extends the metaphor of “courting” in terms ofa “dance” and “staying in free fall [in a] sense of dizziness”(30).12 According to Gablik, then, deconstructive postmodernism exalts in declaring its own meaninglessness.12 She entitles her third chapter “Dancing with Baudrillard: Postmodernism and the Deconstruction of Meaning” (29-40).The expression of the “sense of dizziness” is an allusion toBaudrillard.Foundations A]]egories of the Postniodern 67The concepts of meaning” and such adjectives as “meaningful” or “meaningless,” then, appear to 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 meditations on the social implications of Auschwitz led him to the belief that anyidea of harmonizing with the world, of striving for apositive or meaningful relation to it, is cheap optimism, like the happy ending in movies, obtained byrepressing the reality of radical evil anddespair. . . . The shock administered to modernsociety by the presence of the concentration campsmade the notion of a benevolent, or meaningful,universe seem naive and unrealistic forever. (31)Yet this modern view of the world is out of focus, according toGablik, because it epitomizes the Cartesian philosophies that“carried us away from a sense of wholeness by focussing only onindividual experience” (7). The modern focus is misguided because it does not allow for a holistic vision of the world thatin Gablik’s view alone can restore the benevolence of meaning.This benevolence of meaning is the irreducible starting pointof her reflections on the postmodern. As a result, Gablik persistently describes the crisis of meaning as a loss of meaning.“Meaning,” to her, is an inherently benevolent term so that anycritique of meaning as such, and not merely of a particularkind of meaning, represents a nihilist, or life-denying, gesture that can only end up in complicity with the forces causingFoundations Allegories of the Postniodern 68modern alienation.13 At this point, it becomes clear that herbook itself should be seen as a part of what she defines asreconstructive postmodernism. In my view, it is an instance ofa new intuitive theorizing that adheres not primarily to theprinciples of logical rigour but projects in a visionary modeof thinking what is possible in a world that has not given uphope. But where does this hope come from?Gablik contends that hope is the key issue when it comesto distinguishing the two postmodernisins. While reconstructivepostmodernists “continue to aspire to transforming our dysfunctional culture,” deconstructive postmodernists “believe such ahope is naive or deluded” (18-19). But Gablik does not meetthe deconstructive objections to hope directly; rather, shepoints to the benefits of hope--providing that hope is stillpossible.Gablik points out that there are some artists, such asMary Beth Edelson, to whom hope is a matter of belief. Whenasked whether she felt optimistic about our society moving inthe direction of ecological and cooperative stability, Edelsonreplied:It doesn’t make a difference in my behavior whetherthere is a chance that this will succeed or not. Iwill still behave as if these goals were a possibility, regardless of what my doubts are. . .The opposite of not hoping is what we have-‘ On the other hand, in The Politics of Postmodernism,Linda Hutcheon claims that it is one of the strengths of postmodernism to undertake precisely such a “complicitous critique”(passim)Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 69extraordinarily paralyzing, cynical alienation. Ifwe sit back and say, “We are not going to do anythingbecause it’s useless,” obviously nothing is going tohappen. What makes things happen is believing thatthey can happen. What some people call fooling ourselves may be our only hope. (Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 25)Reconstructive postmodernism envisions a social renewal that isdependent on a human effort which is itself motivated by optimism.Optimism, Gablik reminds us, is the leap of faith thatWilliam James saw as rooted in life itself. Although Gablikdoes not provide a specific reference, I think James’s The Willto Believe corroborates her statement. Arguing against what hecalls “scientific absolutism,” James proposes an alternativethat is able to address moral questions whose solutions cannotwait for sensible proof. He contends that “the question ofhaving moral beliefs at all or not having them is decided byour will” (22-23). One of his examples is that of a man climbing in the Alps and maneuvering himself into a position fromwhich the only escape is by a terrible leap. If the man believes he can make the leap, that belief will create subjectiveemotions without which the successful leap would be impossible.If, on the other hand, the man mistrusts his abilities, he willhesitate so long as to lose his confidence and miss his leap.James concludes from this example that,the part of wisdom clearly is to believe what onedesires; for the belief is one of the indispensablepreliminary conditions of the realization of its object. There are then cases where faith creates itsown verification. Believe, and you shall be right,for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shallFoundations Allegories of the Postinodern 70again be right, for you shall perish. The only difference is that to believe is greatly to your advantage. (97)Gablik interprets the current crisis of meaning as havingthe same structure as James’s moral questions. In this way,she maintains that reconstructive belief is right and deconstructive doubt is right; the difference is that to believe is“greatly to [our] advantage” for it opens a space where reformof aesthetic and socio-political realities is possible.Hutcheon, however, does not see the current crisis ofmeaning as an ethical issue. As a result, her notion of post-modernism as instances of “complicitous critique” cannot open aspace where reform would be possible. To her credit, she admits as much:While the postmodern has no effective theory ofagency that enables a move into political action, itdoes work to turn its inevitable ideological grounding into a site of de-naturalizing critique. (ThePolitics of Postmodernism 3)This de-naturalizing critique makes her theory of postmodernismcynical and hopeless because it removes the ground on which tobuild any ethics of action. In the following passage, Hutcheondescribes the de-naturalizing critique of postmodernism:The postmodern’s initial concern is to de—naturalizesome of the dominant features of our way of life; topoint out that those entities that we unthinkinglyexperience as ‘natural’ (they might even include capitalism, patriarchy, liberal humanism) are in fact‘cultural,’ made by us, not given to us. (2)Hutcheon, of course, chooses her examples carefully. Criticshave attacked capitalism, patriarchy and liberal humanism inrecent times so that the thought of a de-naturalizing critiqueFoundations Allegories of the Postiodern 71of these entities is not as far-fetched as she may want us tobelieve (“they might even include”). Furthermore, why are only“some of the dominant features of our way of life” de-naturalized? Hutcheon does not say which ones nor does she describethe criteria for selection. And what happens if the postmodernalso de-naturalizes not only “dominant” features but stillmarginal ones, such as environmental protection, equality forwomen and minorities? Such a de-naturalizing critique wouldindeed throw out the baby with the bathwater because it wouldremove the grounds on which such movements as environmentalism,feminism and multi-culturalism can take action against currentinjustices.To come back to Gablik, I still see a flaw in her theoryof reconstructive postmodernism. She points out that there areneither prescriptions on how to achieve hope nor logicallycoherent explications of where hope comes from. The bestGablik can do is to point to the belief that originates in aleap of faith. She does not theorize the leap itself.Gablik’s theoretical blindspot in my view is as serious asthat of Hutcheon, who does not admit an ethical dimension toher argument. The consequences, of course, are almost diametrically opposed because Gablik ends up holding a positionthat facilitates political action on ethical grounds, whileHutcheon denies such action can be taken in or with the post-modern.Often, and especially in reconstructive postmodern allegories, I contend that this leap of faith is contingent on aFoundations A]]egories of the Postinodern 72desire to replace a lost object. Allegorists count on thisdesire in their audiences to bring about a trust in theauthor(ity) of allegory. Without this trust, these allegoricalworks remain meaningless (in Gablik’s sense of the term).To Gablik, the benefits of hope materialize most clearlywith regard to a particular role-model of the artist that shefinds convincing. In this way, she quotes Jungian psychoanalyst Marie-Louise von Franz, who says: “A civilization whichhas no creative people is doomed . . . . The person who isreally in touch with the future is the creative personality”(qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 24). Gablik concludes fromthis that “those artists who are in touch with the necessarypsychological tasks of a culture prepare the way for theculturally supported solution to a conflict to emerge, or forthe healing of a psychological defect” (24). To Gablik, ofcourse, the modern paradigm presents such a defect. More specifically, the modern defect is that of the Cartesian separation of the observer from the observed. It is this separation that reconstructive postmodernism attempts to overcomeby instating “a more participatory aesthetics of interconnectedness” (“The Reenchantment of Art” 180).Gablik views the Cartesian woridview as positing arigorous distinction between subject and object. Modernaesthetics sanctifies this distinction in that it adheres tothe monologic encapsulation of author and audience in separate,non-interactive spheres. The autonomy of modernist art furtherFoundations Allegories of the Postmodern 73reinforces this encapsulation because the work of art is thereto be passively observed (which is why it is bound to the issueof representation). It cannot, however, interact with theworld it represents; it is aloof, without impact. Says Gablik:Our culture’s most cherished idea remains the aggressive insistence on freedom for its own sake, freedomwithout praxis--the kind of freedom that makes picking up the garbage valid as art only if you want to“romance” the trash (that is, use it for an aestheticeffect), but not if you step beyond the value vacuumto try to clean up the river.’4 (The Reenchantmentof Art 135)As soon as a project tries to have an impact within the environmental ethics Gablik describes, modern aesthetics discredits it as “work” and refuses to call it “art.”The notion of art as compassionate action depends onshamanic consciousness that does not permit us to experiencethe world as apart from ourselves. Richard Rosenbium’s Manscape sculpture, according to Gablik, upsets the dualism of theCartesian woridview: “The boundary between self and world hasbeen allowed to dissolve, and the figure of a man becomes awalking landscape” (“The Reenchantment of Art” 185; see alsofig. 1).14 The latter is a reference to an art project of Dominique Mazeaud, who in 1987 began “The Great Cleansing of the RioGrande River” (see The Reenchantment of Art 119-21). This project includes Mazeaud--sometimes in the company of friends,sometimes alone--removing garbage from the Rio Grande River ina ritual, occasional exhibitions of the “treasures” found thatway, and a journal that she calls “riveries.” Gablik citesthis project as an example of “art as compassionate action.”Foundations Allegories of the Postodern 74Fig. 1: Richard RosenbiUm.Manscape. 1984-85. Photo courtesy of AddisonGa1leof American Art. Andover. Massachusetts.)(“The Reenchantment” 187)Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 75Another instance of shamanic consciousness, this time in amodern, urban setting, is the performance art by MierleLaderman Ukeles, artist-in--residence at the New York CityDepartment of Sanitation. In Touch Sanitation, a performancethat lasted eleven months, Ukeles shook hands with everyone inthe Sanitation Department. Gablik claims that through this“compassionate gesture of the hand which embodies a non-threatening openness to others, a space of enchantment isopened up, if only for a moment” (190).In another performance, Following in Your Footsteps,Ukeles followed the workers and pantomimed their movements, “asa way of showing her appreciation for what they do, and actingas a stand-in for all the people who do not do this work”(190). Ukeles’s two performances allowed her to become a partof the community of sanitation workers. The parameters of herart are neither autonomy nor monologic encapsulation, butempathy and healing. Gablik comments:The image of the shaman strikes at the roots ofmodern estrangement: merging her consciousness withthe workers, she converses with them, learns fromthem. There is no critical distance, no theoreticalviolence, no antagonistic imperative; but as something more than art, her work becomes an exercise inmodel-building, in the construction of an alternativeto the professional role model. When one developsthe woridview of a shaman, one becomes a healer inall one’s activities. (191)It seems that reconstructive postmodernism, especially when itemploys rituals, obliterates the distinction between theaesthetic and the social realms of society. This distinction,however, only came into being with the advent of the CartesianFoundations AJiegories of the Postmodern 76woridview and its division of society into realms of differenttasks. Obliterating this distinction is another attack on theCartesian worldview.Gablik’s examples emphasize a consistent bi-partite traitof the reenchantment of art or of reconstructive postmodernism:on the one hand, enchanted art challenges the rigidity of themodern paradigm and its alienating principles, while on theother, it offers an alternative to deconstructive postmodernism, which she sees as an extension of modern nihilism. Socialand environmental ethics charged with responsibility provideGablik with the basis for her concept of reconstructive post-modernism.The aesthetics Gablik is proposing entails a movement fromobservation to participation. Observation, of course, isentangled in the issue of representation; however, Gablik neverconfronts the issue of representation directly. In her view,nature or the “non—cultural real” (as Hutcheon calls it [34])can be experienced in our intuitive responses15 to participatory rituals that partake of the new aesthetics she envisionsin opposition to the one built on Cartesian dualism.I see a relation between Gablik’s unwillingness to confront the issue of representation and her unwillingness to15 These responses allude to the cluster of connotationsGablik assigns to the term “responsibility,” namely “waking up,looking at events critically, seeing reality and feelingresponsible--that is to say, responding to what is going on.Responsibility implies that one is carrying out intentions,shaping the environment, influencing others” (33).Foundations Allegories of the Fostinodern 77theorize the leap of faith that is so important to her conceptof reconstructive postmodernism. Gablik hesitates to engage inthe theoretical discussion of issues when she has to argue withthe claims of deconstruction. A possible explanation for thishesitation is that such an argument with deconstruction wouldimpede the intuitive flow of her argument, which deals withmuch more important issues, for instance, creating a fertileground for reconstructive postmodern art in the name of environmentalism. The ethical imperative of trying to press onwith this project leads her to neglect doing the meticulousgroundwork usually needed to make such an ambitious projectcredible. Ultimately, I think, Gablik’s blindspots are flawsin her concept of reconstructive postmodernism. Hence I amgoing to address the issue of representation in reconstructivepostmodernism in an effort to make Gablik’s theoretical basemore accountable to critical questioning.Craig Owens has described how art history, for instance,has constructed representation either as symbolic action (Vorstellung) or else as theatrical presentation (Darstellung). Inthe former, the image substitutes for an absent object, whilein the latter it creates the illusion of a presence of an object. Owens comments:Art historians have always located representation interms of the poles of absence and presence which, asDerrida has shown, constitute the fundamental conceptual opposition upon which Western metaphysics isbased. (“Representation, Appropriation & Power” 13)What is needed, Owens suggests, is not a 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)CDC eHZH-)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 H H 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-Fouiidations Allegories of the Postmodern 79ness). The author(ity) of allegory, for these reasons, warrants closer scrutiny.The allegorist’s will is a will to create, thus a will topower. This will can be situated at the intersection of a past(and now lost) significance and a new, deliberately assignedmeaning for the object. The allegorist’s melancholic disposition provides access to traces of this lost significance aswell as to the reinscription of meaning. Melancholy, thus,functions as the origin of the allegorist’s will to power. Itis here, in the will to power, that we can trace differencesand similarities between premodern allegory, modern symbolism,and postmodern allegory. Allegory and symbolism are the primary modes of representation in these eras, although Gablikcontends that postmodern allegory, in its reconstructive dimension, goes beyond representation.A profound difference between premodern and postmodern allegory is that in the Middle Ages, authors, or more accuratelyauctores,’6 would situate their works in a tradition that established the founding rules and principles for the disciplinesof learning. In other words, the auctores could refer to asystem of certitude that was outside their work and to whose16 “The word ‘author’ derives from the medieval term auctor, which denoted a writer whose words commanded respect andbelief. . . . Over the centuries the continued authority of[the auctores] derived from medieval scribes’ ability to interpret, explain, and in most cases resolve historical problems byrestating these problems in terms sanctioned by auctores”(Pease 106).Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 80authority their work would contribute by subsuming a personalevent into the realm of the authority:The continued authority to make events meaningful incustomary or traditional ways provided all the evidence necessary to sustain the auctores’ power. .The relationship between these authoritative booksand the everyday world was primarily an allegoricalone. (Pease 106)Postmodern allegorists cannot assume similar systems ofcertitude outside of their work because, as Max Oelschlaegerpoints out,historically considered, certainty has been found inGod (religion), in phenomenological experience(phenomenology), in empirical observation (naturaland social sciences), and in the beliefs of commonsense. But today, because of the irreducibly textualcharacter of our beliefs, all arenas of certainty arein question. In other words, recognition that language plays a central role in all knowledge andthought, indeed, in culture and therefore life, hasalso called into question claims to absolutecertitude. (The Idea of Wilderness 325)The result of this “textual character of our beliefs” is arelativism that violates the key concepts of the premodern andmodern paradigms, namely religious and objective truth respectively. To reinforce or to overcome this relativism means tocelebrate or to go beyond the postmodern crisis of meaning.Deconstructive postmodernism gives in to that relativism andmaintains that any notion of belief that goes beyond a purelytextual character is illusory. Reconstructive postmodernism,on the other hand, resists that relativism not by recovering alost concept of truth or certitude but by creating a newcertainty. This certainty relies as much on the subjective“truth” of the allegorist, consisting of a mixture of experiFoundations Allegories of the Postaiodern 81ences, research, and beliefs, as on the authority of allegoryto inscribe that truth on the dead object.Reconstructive postmodern and premodern allegories aresimilar in that they are both based on the organizing principleof correspondence. With the discovery of the “New” world, theauctores could no longer subsume all everyday events under theauthority of the traditional books because the accounts of theNew World had to react to a difference from and no longer to acorrespondence with the authoritative books that were based onEurocentric experiences that could not account for those of theAmericas. As a result, the auctor experienced the loss of hiscultural authority and authors “declared their right to be represented on their own terms rather than in the words of theancient books” (107-08). The point is that the authors of theRenaissance and with them the explorers, colonizers, merchants,et al. needed a more direct method of representation than theindirect encodings of allegory in order to recognize what wasnew and different about the New World. They found it in symbolism, whose advantage over allegory was its immediacy (as theRomantics later argued) that manifested itself in a “naturalbond” of signifier and signified (as Saussure maintained’7).17 Saussure substituted the sign for the symbol because“one characteristic of the symbol is that it is never whollyarbitrary; it is not empty, for there is the rudiment of a natural bond between the signifier and the signified” (Course inGeneral Linguistics 68). Arbitrariness, to Saussure, was thebenchmark of the sign: “The term [“arbitrary”] should not implythat the choice of the signifier is left entirely to thespeaker . .. ; I mean that it is unmotivated, i.e. arbitraryin that it actually has no natural connection with the signified” (69).Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 82By acknowledging freely its political underpinnings inecology, reconstructive postmodern allegory relies on correspondence with environmental and social practices that weused to follow and that were less hazardous to nature and ourselves rather than difference to more recent practices thathave brought us to the brink of extinction on more than onelevel of being. The will to power in reconstructive postmodernallegory overcomes the modern paradigm of thinking in differences by establishing a correspondence of dead object with anew, deliberately assigned meaning. That this new meaning appropriates, even violates, the dead object is an indication ofthe potential coerciveness of the allegorical gesture.What is at issue when we talk about the author/ity of allegory is not only the coercion of the object into signifyingand thus revealing anOther, but also the potential coercion ofthe recipient into reading the text in a certain way.By providing access to a lost entity, reconstructive post-modern allegory reveals a nothingness and leads to the implementation of a didactic effort that is as much the author’s asit is the text’s. In medieval allegory, the revelation was inthe books of the auctores and their tradition. In postmodernallegories, the revelation is in the “intratextuality” betweenindividual sequels of trilogies or cycles.’8 This in18 I think the term “intratextuality” is warranted by theinternal relations in multi-sequel works where the individualinstalments are autonomous but gain in meaning if the recipientknows the larger context of the cycle.Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 83tratextuality invites the recipient to pursue textual relationsbetween the sequels either in the form of leitmotives or in theform of shared structures, themes, images, or signs.’9 Theseworks tend to branch out into systems of texts that include notonly the allegorist’s artistic works but also his scientificand personal writings.These allegorical systems, however, differ in deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernism with regard to the structure of authority. In deconstructive allegory, the code of authority is centrifugal; that is, it does not provide the objectwith a meaningful centre so that the recipient is left withoutthe means to engage in a meaningful reading. As argued above,we end up with a play of signifiers without signifieds. Inreconstructive allegory, on the other hand, the code of authority is centripetal in that it focuses the recipient’s energy onthe author who acts as a mediator between text and reader. Bymeans of didacticism, the allegorist seeks to make the recipient supply an ultimate signified in a leap of faith, which tothe allegorist is the successful outcome of the allegoricalritual and an expression of the underlying ideology of allegory, which strives to reinstate the author in a position ofpower. In their respective roles as shaman and initiate,reconstructive allegorist and recipient then share an ideology19 Examples of such multi-sequel works are Glenn Gould’s“Solitude Trilogy” and Robert Wilson’s Civil WarS.Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 84that may encourage actions that are in line with the allegorist’s underlying program and go beyond the framework ofthe work of art, such as changes in convictions held and evenchanges in life-styles.In “The Will to Allegory in Postmodernism,” Paul Smithcriticizes the reinstatement of authority in postmodern allegory. In his view, Benjamin’s dialectical view of symbolismand allegory does not do justice to the epistemological commitment that both modes of signification make to some notion offixed truth and value, a natural truth for symbolism and a conventional one for allegory (106). What is important in allegory throughout the ages, Smith contends, is the authority ofthe truth and not the truth itself:[The strategies of allegory that Benjamin describes]construct no intersubjective faith in the value ofthe real, but rather they propose a reliable (thougharbitrary) typological authority. Such an authority--all that is ever really essential to allegory--isthe fixed stay of allegory’s discourse: a fixity ofits underlying reference is vital for its accuratefunctioning. (107)Smith is correct in maintaining that allegory does not construct intersubjective faith; nonetheless, it is possible thatthe recipient accepts the author/ity of allegory in a leap offaith.Smith goes on to describe a development in the history ofallegory. After the decline of the “shared referential,metasemantic system” of medieval allegory, modernist allegoryimposes upon the reader some specific directive to construct orinvent such a system in the act of reading itself. The goal ofFoundations Allegories of the Postinodern 85modernist allegory to foreground the reader can be seen, according to Smith, as one of the goals in modernism, namely toeliminate the traditional author/recipient hierarchies.Smith’s examples for such modernist goals are “Mallarmé’selocutionary disappearance of the author, or Flaubert’s perfectwork on the subject of nothing at all” (118). Recognizing thatmodernism could never have achieved these goals, the era ofpostmodernism declares these modernist goals illusory andargues that they may “best be conceived as a simple reaction tothose modernist aims” (118).As I have explained above, the allegorist’s melancholicgaze appropriates objects by inscribing them with a new meaning. This gesture, the principal allegorical gesture, marks adesire for authority, offering its new meaning “as always ‘moretrue’ than that which it replaces” (115). Because postmodernallegory, however, cannot claim access to a shared referentialsystem, the allegorist “arrogates to himself a power that immediately exposes neither its own tenets, nor the actual‘truth’ of its bans” (115):The allegorist’s work is placed, then, in order tointerpellate the reader, who knows that some power isat work but with a veil before it, and that the discovery of its tenets demands his compliance. Thisonerous role given to the reader in postmodernism iscrucial because it is necessary to the allegorist’spower that it be furnished with an audience willingto realize the devastation of the old regime--withoutnecessarily understanding the nature of the new replacement. Thus, truth and the exercise of powerretain their mystique in contemporary allegory, andthe traditional author/reader hierarchy undergoes apeculiarly new reinforcement. (115)Foufidations Allegories of the Postniodern 86What Smith describes as “compliance,” I call a leap of faith.Both appelations hint at the coercive potential of postmodernallegory once its author/ity has been accepted.The allegorical text bears in it a memory of the meaningit pretends to devastate. To Smith, this is a serious fraudbecause the allegorical text suggests that its new meaning isthe only possible one. Smith concludes:The methodology of postmodern allegory thus consistsultimately in a purblind and vain gesture of will,inscribing itself in a dialectic with previous modesbut still operating on the same level of ideologicalcontrol. (115)Yet the memory inherent to allegory can also be seen in anotherlight.American poet James Applewhite intervenes in the debate onpostmodern allegory with his article “Postmodernist Allegoryand the Denial of Nature.” He proposes a classification of thepostmodern similar to Suzi Gablik’s. On the one hand, heargues that the postmodern denies nature and replaces the realwith representations of the real. According to Applewhite,critics who describe the postmodern in this way are JeanBaudrillard and Craig Owens.2° On the other hand, Applewhiteis happy to report a current trend in all domains of art andculture that subverts the denial of nature in postmodern allegory. Although Applewhite does not name that trend, he describes it as follows (I quote at length to provide a sense of20 It is safe to include Hutcheon in this list because shealso denies nature and replaces it with representations.Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 87the pathos with which Applewhite speaks at the end of his article)In spite of all that has been said by theorists ofpostmodernism and postmodernist art, a depth ofmemory and involvement remains available, for artistswho insist on breaking through the surface imagerywhich has been electronically deposited, like aglossy film, over contemporary experience. . . . Itis possible still for artists--painters, sculptors,composers, poets, novelists, dancers--to endorse lifeby refusing the compression of the time sense andthus of history which is implicit in our commercialized culture. Postmodernist theory may call intoquestion the relation between sign and referent, butthat very problematizing of relation may provoke anemotive reaction, an authentic anger and refusal ofcomplicity. Artists, citizens, even politicians,have the power to insist on the still-great dimensionof human memory and its long association with theearth. They may continue to ground their art andtheir lives in the medium behind the culture whichseems our nature. We know that the first nature isstill there, because we breathe. It is possible tobreathe back an art which relates to this origin,celebrates the glory of our original association withit, and directs what may become an effectual anger atthe forces which paper our horizons with money imagery; value illicitly dissociated from a referent innature. (16-17)I see a link between the pathos echoing through such phrases as“the still-great dimension of 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’s memory are accessible mostreadily to the melancholic through the allegorical gesture.With that gesture artists and critics can inscribe their newvisions on a reality they perceive as dead and meaningless.The move from a modern aesthetics of observation andmonologic encapsulation to a postmodern “ethics of participaFoundations Allegories of the Postniodern 88tion”21 is the primary feature of the postmodern remapping ofthe modern paradigm Gablik envisions:Whereas the struggle of modernism was to delineateself from other, in the emerging realm of quantum inseparability, the world becomes a place of interaction and connection, and things derive their being bymutual dependence. When everything is perceived asdynamically interconnected, art needs to collaboratewith the environment and a new sense of relationshipcauses the old polarity between art and audience todisappear. . . . Interaction is the key that movesart beyond the aesthetic mode: letting the audienceintersect with, and even form part of, the process,recognizing that when observer and observed merge,the vision of static autonomy is undermined. (150-51)The postmodern struggle to undermine the modern vision ofstatic autonomy is also a struggle to transform modern authority. Gablik notes that this authority often relies on “a kindof compulsive masculinity” (127) and cites as an example Clement Greenberg’s construction of art history in an interview inwhich he refers exclusively to male artists.22 Against thismasculinity, Gablik holds as a new principle the feminine that“breaks through the illusion of separateness and dualism”(128).Suzi Gablik is my primary source when it comes to theorizing the postmodern continuum. She believes that “artists willgravitate toward different activities, attitudes and roles than21 This is Gablik’s term, see The Reenchantment of Art126.22 She comments wryly: “At least for Greenberg, art history seems to consist entirely of male walruses” (127).Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 89those that operated under the aesthetics of modernism.” Shecontinues:It is important to understand that any remapping ofthe modern paradigm has both a deconstructive and areconstructive dimension; they need to be seen not asopposites, with sharp boundaries drawn between them,but as components in a larger process, operatingsimultaneously like the complementarity principle.(27)Discussing the postmodern continuum thus necessitates bringingtogether materials of a discontinuous nature. In a personaladdendum, Gablik writes:I personally see the contradictions between the twopostmodernisms as very productive, since it allows usto investigate both the darker and the lighter pathsto the future without accepting the inevitability ofeither. (27)It is in this spirit of investigation that I wish to bring together Watson and Schafer. In my view, both artists’ workscontain elements from the whole postmodern continuum so that-by taking Watson and Schafer as case studies--I can discuss thepostmodern in both its darker and 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 H CD 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-CD BHCDi--aCDH-BCDHCC))H CD C CC)) c-i CDH--q)1j“1CCD C)) c-i’ C/) CThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 91type of the documentary drama of the 1960s, Watson’s plays arenot documentary in nature. Documents of historical events arethe basis for documentary drama. It searches for truth to suchan extent that the search seems more important than a truthbound to or prescribed by authority.2 The focus of documentarydrama on the search rather than on the truth is profoundlyanti-allegorical because the be-all and end-all of allegory isthe truth that the allegorist inscribes on a dead object.In “Documentary Drama: Form and Content,” Clas Zilliacustoo maintains that one way of sketching a history of thedocumentary genre is in opposition to allegory. The gradualreduction of societal restrictions in Europe (and especially inthe Federal Republic of Germany after the morally rigid andconservative l9SOs), he argues, led to an upsurge indocumentary drama. As a consequence, the documentary dramacould aggressively present counterfacts to the ones distributedIn the plays of the late 1970s and early l980s, too, Watson employs trial-like settings. The Woman Taken in Adultery,which draws on the medieval mystery play of the same title,counterpoints the medieval view of a New 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 trying to discredit Jesus by havingher punished. The women then decide to stone the lawyers.In Gramsci x 3, Tiu Gramsci provides a long report of anunfair trial against him (Plays 461-66), and Mussolini takes onthe role of the unjust judge who sentences Gramsci to theprolonged suffering of a calvary.2 In “Prozel3 oder Schauproze,” Otto Best makes similarobservations, see esp. 70.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 92by the powers that be without having to fear the censorshipthat plays like Jean Paul Sartre’s Les mouches (1943) forestalled through allegory.However, the dividing line between documentary and allegorical methods is not as straightforward as Zilliacus suggests. In his “Prozef3 oder Schauprozef3,” Otto Best argues thatthe documentary playwright has to walk a fine line betweenbeing what he calls a “maieutic author” (an author who furtherscritical rationalism as a means to find truth) and being anagitator because the documents are objective 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 In Best’s view, then,the dramatist Socratically assists in delivering the reactionsof the audience. Of course, the didacticism of maieuticauthors does not go as far as that of allegorists who also assist in delivering the reactions of the audience but 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 their primary set“Gericht wird zum SchauprozeJ3, der Zuschauer nicht aufgeklart, er wird agitiert, reduziert” (71).The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 93ting . . . in part because the tribunal constituted a perfectmetaphor (as Kafka also knew) for a century on trial” (49).Let me add to this that a metaphor extended to cover an entirework is an allegory.4 Furthermore, a trial makes a near perfect vehicle for allegory because of the clearly defined rolesof judge, prosecutor, counsel for the defense, plaintiff andaccused. The rigidity of the roles in a trial enables the allegorist to move easily from mimesis to allegory because therecipient tends to apprehend the role rather than the characterembodying the role. The trial’s diametrically opposed positions of plaintiff and accused also allow the author to advanceone set of moral standards, while simultaneously discreditinganother. A further advantage to the allegorist are the clearlydefined relations of authority between the trial participants.An allegorist may wish to exploit these relations for his purposes as well as include the recipient in 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 points out that “allegorymakes an appeal to an almost scientific curiosity about the order of things” (68). A trial’s discursive structures, such assubmitting a plea, gathering evidence, questioning witnesses‘ I am thinking here of Quintilian’s definition of allegory and of Roman Jacobson’s two linguistic axes where theone veering towards metaphor becomes increasingly allegorical.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 94and exercising cross examinations, surely comes very close tosuch a “curiosity” about a set of circumstances. Hence I understand Watson’s trials not as manifestations of documentarydrama but as allegories.In the plays I analyze, Watson links the trials with thetheme of the Last Judgement. The trials are invariably set ina world removed in some way from everyday reality: either theytake place in a nether world or in heaven.5 Furthermore, inall trials, more seems to be at stake than the events on stageat first indicate; indeed, humankind itself is on trial. Theoutcomes of the trials seem absolute and associated with(eternal) damnation: either the accused are sentenced tocrucify God or are forfeit to an allegorical death. Thesecharacteristics of the Last Judgement further dichotomize thestereotypical roles of the trial’s participants. At the sametime, however, they encourage the audience to take sides withthe accused because all are human. The integration of the 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 import of thetrials in the plays, we need to take a closer look at a 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 Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 95Corporal Adam, Watson includes an enigmatic comment on hisfirst major play,6 Cockcrow and the Gulls: “The name ‘Cockcrow’had made, at a single stroke of the pen, a realistic treatmentof an action dealing with a series of homicides allegedly located in Nanaimo, impossible” (Plays 109). This remark refersto the allegorical implications of the name “Cockcrow” whichneed further explanation.Cockcrow has the first experience of “life after death,”or represents the cockcrow of this nether world, after OReilly,Alice and Higgins discuss life after death. Cockcrow joins thediscussion and promises to get “DEAD drunk” and to report backto the living what death is like:No one has ever come back from death to tell usunimpeachably what death is [. .Very well. I shall this evening be dead.Since you have requested it,6 A short play, The Whatnot, was produced at the Inter-faculty Drama Festival at the University of Alberta StudioTheatre in November 1957 but remains unpublished. The Whatnotis of interest because it contains most of the features thatwould mark Watson’s plays of the 1960s, such as extremeviolence (on and off-stage), unrealistic settings, absurd humorand ecstatic, bizarre endings.The play opens on a rather realistically portrayed retiredcouple living in Edmonton. Soon, however, the play leavesrealistic conventions when the couple has an argument aboutwhether to stay in Edmonton. The husband suggests to his wifethat he saw her into little boards in order to build a whatnot.Having never liked life in Edmonton, the wife happily agreesbecause, as a whatnot, life would be bearable for her anywhere.The remainder of the play features various visitors who all admire the couple’s solution to their problem. A rich Americanbuys the whatnot. When it is removed from the 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 Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 96I shall look about me, when I AM dead,And see . . . what, exactly, death is.And thisI will come back and tell you.7Cockcrow, however, can only keep the first of his promises; hereturns after his death to give a 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 the day of wrath” (57,58,60).But when pressed to expound on these hints, he is at a loss forwords to describe life after death. Thus, like a cock announcing daybreak, Cockcrow merely announces the beginning of thenether world. Watson reduces Cockcrow to this one function:his character remains undeveloped, and he only participates asone among others in other actions, such as the nailing of thescarecrow or the incantations at the end of the play where hisonly non-choric utterance, “I am here by miracle” (104),repeats his earlier report (57), thereby again reminding theaudience 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 of allegorical part-whole relationships. The former labels static7 Plays 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 Watson Allegories of the Postoderii 97relations of classification (the sail is a qualitative subclassof ship; it is a part thereof), while the latter labels dynamicinteractions between part and whole (the sword causes violentdeath) (87). These two tropes allow us to distinguish thewhole from the part and, in this way, call to mind the largerorganization with which the parts may bear an integral relation. The allegorical implications of the name “Cockcrow” areto be seen in the bridging of the gap between image (of thenether world) and agent (the character Cockcrow) and lead therecipient towards an allegorical reading of the play.Let us now turn to the allegorical significance of anotherset of characters in Cockcrow. At the outset, a characternamed Pride addresses the audience and 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 owner of 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 Christian name 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 performances of Cyril andhimself onto the allegorical dimension of their roles. Pridealso points to his individual performance whenever introducingan abstract category: “May I, before the play deviates any further into allegory,” and “As for me--you all know me, myThe Work of Wilfred Watsofi Allegories of the Postmodern 98Christian name is . . . Pride” (emphasis added). Thus hestresses the ontological metamorphosis of the abstract qualityof pride into his individual human character. This metamorphosis signals personification.In The Fiction of Truth: Structures of Meaning in Narrative, Carolynn van Dyke reminds us that personification is oneof the markers of allegorical drama. She uses beginnings andendings of allegorical plays to formulate a taxonomy of allegorical drama. She contends that allegorists tend to framemoralities in some version of a superimposition of universaltruth on the human performance or vice versa (110). Accordingto van Dyke, a concrete example of this superimposition is thebeginning of Everyman, where a messenger addresses the spectators in a prologue to inform them about the content 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 home toEveryman” (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 Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 99as it usually does in drama, nor from a confrontation of abstractions, as it does in narrative allegory, butthe dramatic moment is the one at which an abstractcategory becomes a human character. That kind ofdrama, based on ontological metamorphosis, is peculiar to allegory. (108)In Cockcrow, the Five Sins (Pride, Wrath, Sloth, Envy, and[Nunsclipj Lechery) seem to be personifications of Cyril’smotivations for murdering his father and a number of “innocent”bystanders as well as for committing suicide.8 Another indicator of this relationship between the Sins and Cyril is thelatter’s stammering because it can be seen as a conceptualmarker of the Sins’ creation. Cyril’s stammer in this way occurs only at the beginning of the play; to be more precise, itonly occurs up to the point where the Sins take on more self-sufficient roles and lose some of their status as Cyril’smotivations. For these reasons, Cyril’s stammer signifies alinguistic diminishment that simultaneously serves as an originfor the Sins.In his study The Poetics of Personification, James Paxsondescribes a similar psychic or linguistic diminishment amonghuman personae in medieval personification narratives. Thisdiminishment is manifest in a particular psychic, physical andspiritual condition that overcomes the narrator at the outset8 Watson omits two of the traditional Seven Deadly Sins,Covetousness and Gluttony, perhaps because they are not asrelevant to Cyril’s character and his motivations as the othervices; indeed, there is nothing in Cockcrow to suggest thatCyril desires wealth or food.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 100of the text. Paxson calls this condition dorveille. He goeson:The psychic [or linguistic] reduction concomitantupon dorveille . . . gives rise to the narratorialapprehension, or more accurately, the narratorial invention or generation of personified abstractions,objects, or places. Personification characters enjoya metaphorical “emergence” from the mind of thediminished actant or narrator. (95)In explaining this emergence of personifications, Paxson incorporates Fletcher’s psychoanalytical approach into a broaderphenomenological one. If a personification grows out of a generating consciousness that ends up as a psychic vestige or afragment, then the invention of personifications entails acritique of the myth of “holism” attributable to 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 Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 101ordinate consciousness which is itself incomplete.(98)Paxson’s remarks help to clarify the function of the FiveSins in Cockcrow. I understand Cyril’s stammer as thelinguistic diminishment that Paxson describes as dorveille.Stammering, which adds vowels and consonants to words, and babbling, which removes them from words, represent the two polesof linguistic disfiguration whose spectrum mirrors consciouslyinvented figuration and disfiguration.10 Paxson concludes:As the product of the diminished human consciousness,[unconsciously disfigured language] becomes the conceptual marker or signal flag for the parallel creation of animational figures--the walking and breathing prosopopeias of allegorical narrative. (116)A similar process occurs in Cockcrow, where Cyril’s stammer isthe conceptual marker for the creation of the Five Sins.Yet the Five Sins do not only function as allegorical personifications; they also develop into more self-motivatedcharacters who urge Cyril to avenge his mother by killing themurderer, namely his father Higgins. Watson here uses thevices in a role that resembles that of the classical Erinyes,or Furies, who are agents of divine retribution, seeking bothjustice and vengeance for wrongs done to kinsfolk. The Erinyesappear in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides, where they pursue Orestes10 This mirroring may be accountable for the fact that inthe medieval ages stammering was considered an expression ofdivine inspiration and a vatic activity. This also explainsthe expression “prophetic stammering.”The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 102after he has killed his mother. In one of their choralspeeches to Orestes, they announce their purpose as follows:This the purpose that the all-involvingdestiny spun, to be ours and to be shakennever: when mortals assume outrageof own hand in violence,these we dog, till one goesunder earth. Nor does deathset them altogether free. (lines 334-40)The last sentence shows that the Erinyes are active in boththis world and the next, a characteristic Watson transfers tothe vices in Cockcrow.Once the scene shifts to the nether world in act four,Cyril’s vices are more active than the Erinyes. At the beginning of The Eumenides, the Erinyes are asleep right next toOrestes, who is awake, and have to be awakened to pursue theirvengeance. Chiding them for allowing Orestes to escape theirvengeance, Clytemnestra rouses the Erinyes from 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, Erinyes asleep): Cyril is asleep and the Sins are awake. Pride and Wrathrebuke Cyril in the same way that Clytemnestra rebuked theErinyes: “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. / 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 anyone whoThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 103criticizes his revenge. This latter role aids the vices incounselling Cyril to take his own life in order to bring theothers to ultimate justice:WRATH. They’ve got away from youCYRIL. How?PRIDE. You’ve got them on the lamErgo, chase after themCYRIL. How?PRIDE. sweetlyYou have a key in your hand to open a door in yourbrowWRATH, PRIDE. Then you can ploughThem rightUp to the very judgement seat. (69)The “key” is, of course, the pistol and the act suggested issuicide. The “judgement seat” is a reference to the Revelationof St. John, where the dead will be judged from a white seataccording 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 are as follows: homicide (Thomas Higgins), patricide, wanton homicide and suicide (Cyril Higgins),prostitution and disorderly living (Alice, Greta, Iris, Cockcrow), and procuring and living off the proceeds of prostitution (OReilly) (Plays 81-82). Convinced that he drove theothers to the judgement seat, however, Cyril protests his ownarraignment by pointing out that his father made a murderer ofhim. He contends that he is not to blame. But Pride disregards Cyril’s objections because “there is no addition to theevidence here” (77) and proceeds with sentencing the prisoners.In light of the Sins’ origination from Cyril’s consciousnessThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 104and their subsequent alignment with Cyril, it is highly ironicthat Pride sentences him first: “I will punish the young manfirst / to Cyril Look this way. / I sentence you to behanged” (77). That the Sins thus turn against him can be seenas a further development in the status of the personifications.Generated from the dorveille of Cyril’s consciousness and, assuch, manifestations of parts of his consciousness, they beginto separate themselves from their origin in order to constituteself-sufficient characters. Significantly, once the Sins takeon the roles of the Erinyes, the conceptual marker of theirorigination, Cyril’s stammer, disappears. The development frompersonifications to characters begins when the Sins turn intoErinyes and reaches its climax when the Sins blind Cyril.Once the Sins detect hesitation on the part 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 and Envy present Cyrilto PrideMaybe they’ll call oursPRIDE. puts out Cyril’s eyesThere.And therethrows eyeballs on groundThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 105LECHERY, picks up eyeballs and holds them on theflat of herhand0 boy, he’s making eyes at meCYRIL. miserablyWhoopee.Now for the first time I can see. (Plays 90)This blinding scene deploys many literary allusions. One is toShakespeare’s King John. The original passage occurs in actfour, scene one of the play in which Hubert has orders to blindyoung Arthur. Their long dialogue consists of Arthur’s pleading and Hubert’s growing unease with his task. Finally overcome with mercy for Arthur, Hubert refuses to blind Arthur andsets him free. I quote the lines Watson alludes to:ARTHUR. Must you with hot irons burn 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’s pleading.Cyril’s blinding also parallels Gloucester’s blinding inShakespeare’s King Lear. Cyril’s remark, “Whoopee. Now forthe first time I can see,” is doubly ironic because it expresses the fate of Gloucester, who must first be blind to“see” the intrigues and evil surrounding him, and because itexpresses the misery of this breakthrough. Yet Watson’s blinding scene is also reminiscent of Jean Paul Sartre’s Lesmouches, where the Erinyes are intent on punishing Orestes forthe murder of his mother by blinding him. Zeus, however, doesnot allow this punishment.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Fostniodern 106Cyril’s blinding has another precursor in Prudentius’Psychomachia where the precise demolition of eyes, teeth, andtongue reverses the movement of personification. According toPaul de Man, this movement of personification isthe fiction of an apostrophe to an absent, deceased,or voiceless entity, which posits the possibility ofthe latter’s reply and confers upon it the power ofspeech. Voice assumes mouth, eye, and finally face,a chain that is manifest in the etymology of thetrope’s name, prosopon poem, to confer a mask or aface (prosopon). (qtd. in Paxson 69)Destroying the face that personification confers signifies inthe Psychomachia the Vices’ defeat and the Virtues’ victory.In Cockcrow, the Sins’ punishment of Cyril can be seen to commence reversing the movement of personification. Perhaps, thisreversal is one of the primary goals of the Sins because itwould establish their end as personifications of Cyril’smotivations and their beginning as autonomous characters. Bydestroying Cyril, the Sins could declare victory too.Because of Higgins’s intervention on Cyril’s behalf, Cyrilremains the only one to be sentenced, which seems to indicateanother shift in the Sins’ role. While the Sins appeared atfirst as Cyril’s personified vices and then as Erinyes, instigating Cyril’s revenge, during the trial they appear asCyril’s judges, holding him accountable for those deeds thatthey themselves advised.The development of the Sins attests to a chain of controlthat begins and ends with the authority of the allegorist.Watson inscribes his melancholy in Cyril’s dorveille that inThe Work of (*ilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 107turn generates the Sins. The development of the vices takesits course from being personifications of Cyril’s motivationsto self-motivated characters who turn against Cyril andsentence and torture him. At the end of the play, the vicesprovide the play with its final allegorical and ironical twist,namely with the mockery of redemption.But before turning to the end of Cockcrow, let us have alook at the trial in The Trial of Corporal Adam. In this play,act one leads to the trial that takes up the entire second actof the play. Corporal Adam stands accused of misappropriatingdeath. Watson personifies the latter as Deth, who bringscharges against Adam before God. 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 find he has moreblemishThan you have mercy for. [. . .1Well: let me ask what fault he must engraveUpon his soul, to forfeit it?Killing a brother? Raping a sister?Robbing? Cheating? Brawling? Rioting?Stealing from helpless widowkind?Waging wars unjust, and murdering little childrenBefore their infant gums have pricked their teeth?Would these be faults enough? [. . .]GOD. I am merciful. Has he other faults?I can forgive him these. (Plays 116)In light of such all-encompassing mercy, Deth seems to feel increasingly powerless; nonetheless, God concedes that Adam“shall answer for his faults,” not by being forfeit outright toDeth, but in a trial: “You shall not hang him without trial”(117).The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postøodern 108In The Trial of Corporal Adam, all legal roles seem unambiguous: Adam chooses Deth to be his judge. Deth then callson Holy Church to be the prosecutor. When it comes to findinga counsel for the defense, Deth can only think of one, namelyMefistofilis, whom Adam accepts as a “paramour of legal wit”(130) against the warnings of his wife. However, a closer lookreveals that Watson introduces considerable ambiguity by aligning separate legal roles with the same characters. Thus, thejudge of this trial, Deth, is also the plaintiff. Furthermore,the counsel for the defense is in secret league with the judge(or plaintiff) and the prosecutor turns out to be more of acounsel for the defense. As a result of these role duplications, Watson creates dramatic irony by making the audienceaware of the secret pact between Deth and Mefistofilis even before the trial begins. In this way, the audience realizes thatthe trial is fundamentally flawed and unjust.In Cockcrow, Alice assumes that the judge of their trialmust be God (as it is prophesied in the Revelation of St.John). Pointing at the presiding judge, she says:overcome by the awfulness of it, word by wordCockcrow . . . is . . . that . . . man . . . thereGod? (Plays 77)The “awfulness” of this realization lies in the fact that theSins are the judges with Pride presiding. That Pride is thechair of this bench seems to be based entirely on his physicalstrength: he is the one to win the quarrel with the other Sinsabout who gets to sit at the centre of the bench and henceThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 109declares himself to be chosen the chair “unanimously” (76).Watson retains the characteristic of the medieval moralities,according to which Pride is the “chief of the sins.”1’ InCockcrow, the vices are “members of a local jazz orchestra ofsome reputation, THE FIVE SINS” (17) of which Pride is themaestro.’2 Of the vices, he is on stage most often.Watson prescribes only the legal roles of judges and accused. The roles of plaintiff and counsel for the defensechange with the situations. For instance, after Pridesentences Cyril to be hanged, Higgins clumsily defends his son:We ain’t not one of us done what we ought to havedone.And we’ve all done what we oughtn’t to 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 hurl it at.Environment’s to blame. (78)11 Mackenzie 34. In the medieval classification of Sins,Pride (superbia) is seen as the origin of all other sins (radixvitiorum), see, for instance, St. Viktor passim.12 The Sins’ association with jazz adds an element of lasciviousness to their appearances: they are familiar with thered-light district because they are jazz musicians and areemployed there. Thus, in the first scene where they assemblein a “street of brothels,” they make fun of Cyril’s embarrassment (17). Only on one occasion do the vices play their instruments directly, namely when they try to rouse Cyril fromhis sleep (71). But they sing (105) and dance (85). Watsonoften extends the performative aspect of his plays to includemusic but leaves the extent of the musical aspect to the discretion of the director. Examples are Cockcrow, Make Love NotWasps (in which he uses musical bridges), and The Rock Hook(which is a dramatization of Sheila Watson’s The Double Hookfor theatre ensemble and a rock band). Murray Schafer, on theother hand, stays in control of the extent of music in histheatrical works.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 110But soon after Higgins attempts Cyril’s defense, Cyril accusesHiggins and thus slips into the role of plaintiff:HIGGINS. It’s environment that is to blame.CYRIL. points finger at HigginsIt’s that swine there that’s to blame. [. . .1He emptied a teapot on my mother. (79)These role swappings and the notable confusion they create inthe courtroom and, in extension, among the audience nonethelesssupport the dichotomy of judges and accused, a dichotomy whichitself is never in question. This dichotomy determines the underlying power structure of the trial. It is only in the conclusion of the play that Watson’s irony subverts the dichotomyof judges and accused in favor of a third entity, redemption.Pride is responsible for the verdict of the trial in Cockcrow. The fact that he pronounces judgement in overridingWrath’s objections certifies both his position as chair of thebench and the hierarchical dichotomy of 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 that God made theworld, Pride says that “if the world’s to blame for what theprisoners severally have done, / Then God’s to blame” (78).Wrath objects to this argument, but Pride is adamant in pursuing it:What the accused have done . .Is—Compared to the organized crimes of civilization,The Seven Years War; the Thirty Years War;The Hundred Years War; the Napoleonic War;The Crimean War; and the First World War;The Spanish Civil War; and the Second World War,The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 111With its mass extermination of the Jews at Belsen andelsewhere;The mass bombing of Berlin and the bombing ofHiroshima and Nagasaki;The turning of live steam on rioting prisoners;The lynching of negroes; and the sterilization ofvagrants in California;The PACIFICATION of Hungary--for a few examples-is .A drop of water to the ocean.We must keep a sense of proportion. (82)As a result, Pride sentences the prisoners to crucify eitherGod or else a scarecrow that may serve as an image of God. Healso turns this crucifixion into a ritual, complete withrepetitions and choric incantations:Say it out loud!All of you, repeat these words after me:“In crucifying this scarecrow . . .“they repeat the words, only Higgins silent“We have put God to death.”repeatedIn nailing this scarecrow through the hands, we havenailed God through the handsrepeatedIn nailing this scarecrow through the feet, we havenailed God through the feetrepeated [. . .]In putting this scarecrow to death, we have put 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 his verbal (andspiritual’3) support. In spite of the ill omen of theCyril aids Cockcrow, who nails hands and feet of thescarecrow to the cross, by providing spiritual guidance: “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 Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 112scarecrow’s bleeding, Cyril says, “They have crucified God. /Now let us forgive ourselves.” But forgiveness is beyondOReilly, who remarks while leaving, “I can never forgivemyself” (93). Hence the state of the characters seems to beone of (eternal) damnation, a judgement corroborated by thecheerless Alice, who says:I will pick myself up and take myself awayAnd deposit myself somewhereAnd having abandoned myself there,There will be no need to forgive myself [.. .1I’ll be rid of myself. (94)Alice expresses well the desolation she feels when consideringher situation. Watson knows that something more is needed thana mere appeal, like Cyril’s, to forgive.In the last act, Alice appears to have gone mad; she practices “outward forms of graciousness [so that] heaven will flowinto [her]” (95). The logger, now dressed as a shepherd,sympathizes with her (he bows to her whenever she bows to him),and gives her a pearl with which to cross herself. He alsoaids her with the crossing and then says, “now take it, and setfree the others” (97). She immediately complies 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 of theworld. . . . (97)The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 113By asking first for Cyril whose motivations the vices at firstpersonified, Alice hints at a struggle between personifiedvirtues and vices to win the favor of “man.”4Until the final scene, Watson favors the vices over thevirtues. The vices control through Cyril’s actions the othercharacters. The enigmatic logger who turns shepherd in thelast act represents the virtues’ side. As a logger he refusesto participate or even witness the crucifixion, and as ashepherd he provides the pearl that will redeem them all. Thathe appears as a shepherd recalls the Christian metaphor ofChrist as shepherd of humankind, a metaphor here supported bythe pearl, a sacred object, which leads to a direct confrontation with the vices in the final scene where the belief generated by the pearl creates an invisible protective wall againstwhich the Sins rage in vain (103-04). The pearl could be seenas the kingdom of heaven, thus drawing on the medieval Englishpoem Pearl which itself draws on the gospel of Matthew.’5‘ This struggle aligns the play with the tradition thatbegan with Prudentius’ Psychomachia and reached its climax inthe miracle plays and moralities of the middle ages. While inthe Psychomachia the virtues took on the vices in one-on-onecombats, in the later miracle plays and moralities the treatment of the vices became gradually less formulaic and more complex until they developed in Shakespeare’s age into characterswho were no longer one-dimensional and no longer focused on onevice only--an example would be the eponymous hero of RichardIII.15 In Pearl, the narrator grieves the loss of a pearl.But this pearl stands for his daughter who died as an infant.She comes to him in a dream to convince him that his grief isextravagant and out of place. Instead of grieving for hisdaughter, he should try to attain that pearl for himself whichthe jeweller in the gospel of Matthew sought and found (see“The parable of the pearl” in Matt. 8.45-46). The daughterThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 114In Cockcrow, the pearl is a threat to the Sins because itcancels the damnation with which they sentenced the prisoners.The pearl generates the belief that holds the vices in check(104) and sparks the rituals and incantations which accompanythe handing on of the pearl and establish a new and positivecommunity. The choric lament of “Cor meum . . . contristaretur changes to the choric incantation of the Agnus Dei(103), signifying, as it does in the Catholic mass, the redemption of human guilt through Christ’s suffering. The manner inwhich the pearl makes its round further supports this sigsays:‘Jesus called his disciples mild,And said his realm no soul could win,Unless he arrive there just as a child,Or else nevermore will he enter therein.Innocent, honest, and undefiled,Without stain or spot of polluting sin,When such there knock, far from earth’s wild,Keepers shall quickly the gate unpin.Therein is bliss in constant spin,That the jeweller sought through gems to bless,Selling all his wool, and linen thin,To purchase a pearl of spotlessness.‘This spotless, matchless pearl bought dear,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 Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 115nification: Alice holds it up, then puts it in the mouth of thekneeling OReilly as though it were the wafer of the Eucharist.Alice’s language in its breathless fragments reflects herecstacy:breathlessly [. . . II bring you . . . this pearlholds it upStand still in my words. Look.I had it from. When in the morningWhite as. This pearl mild as babies’ milk.I give it you. BecauseStand still in my words. Put it in your mouthLet your tongue. I lay it there.In the suck of. Who gives this 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 the pearl and while still kneeling,OReilly replies: “Lord, I am not worthy, but speak the word only” (104), a phrase taken verbatim from the Catholic liturgy.Furthermore, when he puts the pearl in Cockcrow’s mouth, OReilly’s language becomes fragmented like Alice’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 to Cyril, who instantaneously regainshis eyesight. Because of redemption, the vices have lost thebattle for Cyril.The key issue in both Cockcrow and Corporal Adam is theredemption of the eponymous characters and the groups ofcharacters associated with them. In both plays, a deus exmachina prompts redemption after the characters have beencharged, tried, found guilty, and sentenced. Although the tn-The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postifioderfi 116als exhibit some parallels to an absolute and binding LastJudgement, Watson also makes clear to what extent these trialsand their verdicts are unjust and flawed. At first sight,then, these acts of redemption appear to correct the outcome ofthe trials; yet, redemption is also flawed because it too isunjustified.The shepherd gives Alice the pearl and releases her andthe others from the guilt of having crucified an image of Godand at the same time releases them from the power of the vices.There is no underlying rationale for the shepherd’s actions,except the implication of an all-encompassing love for humankind, which can be seen to originate in the shepherd’sChrist-like status. But Cockcrow and the others have not doneanything to deserve that love.Likewise, the eponymous character in Corporal Adam doesnot deserve the all-encompassing mercy of God-the-father. Watson points out that we should see this mercy as a comment onthe “flower-power” movement of the 1960s. The play thus ends“with a repentant Everyman forgiven by the flower-children’sgod, a smooth-faced father, theologically younger than his son”(109).The two kinds of redemption Watson has chosen for hisplays lead, in Cockcrow, to the Eucharist and, in CorporalAdam, to complete reconciliation between Everyman and God.However, the plays do not end on these harmonious notes. Atthe end of Cockcrow the Sins deliberately reduce the dramatic)H’IC)F-)1C-1CDH’IZri’CCDCDCDCDC Cl) Ll) C) CD ‘1 C CD H’ CCl)rlCc-i’H‘CH’CD)))CDH’r+CDCCD<ri’CD<H.C)H’)CDH.CDI—aCD))Cl)sH•Cl)CD“ZCl)H’C)1c-IBr+CDH.CDCCCDHc-I.c-I.BH’C)CDe<H.C)c-I.C‘1CDCDCc-I.CDCc-I.Cl)<1C.H’c-I’CDCl)Ci-H.CCH’H’CDH’Cl)C-‘C)1-C)CC)CH’c-I’c-I-)CD1<H’c)H•c-I.c)Cl)CC1Cl)c-I.c)H’CDCc-I)CDc-I.c-I.qCCDCCCl)&H.H’CDH’Cl)CH’C)BCCDc-I.H’H’c-I.H-<1Cl)I.-<CDc-I.CDc-I.H’H’•CD-.CDH’.CDZcic-I.Cl)CI.-CDc)c-I)CCl)BCDCH.i’-—)ciCDc-ci)CDciCl)H’H•CDCl)c-I.H’H.<C)C)CCDCH’CDNCCDCCl)CDCl)I.-H’c-I)ciB‘C’H’H’OH‘Cc-I.CCDciH’c-I.c)CDCD)r+Cc-I)<)H’-ciCD-‘Cl)CCD))CDH’Cl)c-I)c-I.>c-I.>C)CC.CCC)r+C)C)))H’CH’H’BC)CDCl)—C)CH’C)r+ciHCDZciI.-H’H’Cl)CDCDCDCCl))C)r1‘Cc-I.)c-I.c)Cl)H’c-I.)c-I)H’CDZ‘—Cl)c-I-CDCl)Cl)rtCciCDCDCH’Cc-I.CDCDCc-I.YCCDCl)ciCDH’CDH.CICl)r+)H’)ciH’Cl))Cl))H’C)F--CDCDCDC)CDCCc-I.H’CDC)yqCl)H.Cl)ci‘I—CD<•ciCDCDZCD)CO.)c)ç:c)BC)CDci“ICDCl)Ic-I. CD B C Cl) c-I. C Cl) Cl) H’ C’ CD c-I) C ci c-I. 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Amen . . . amen.(160)But the strongest doubt in redemptive mercy occurs in the“Epilogue 1988,” where Mefistofilis tells Deth that “This trialof Corporal Adam as a war criminal / Will go on and on until awall / Has been found for his public execution” (161). Thusthe zeal of Adam’s enemies is as resilient as God’s mercy isencompassing and the play appears in retrospect merely as oneinstallment of Corporal Adam’s ongoing suffering.In both plays, Watson approaches the pursuit of truth andresponsibility through treatments of the Last Judgement. Thesetreatments take on qualities of an ultimate or final allegorythat will put an end to all allegories because the Last Judgement promises to provide access to an ultimate signified, inthis case divine and absolute justice. For Watson, divine justice is an ethical signified that would settle once and for allthe issues of truth and responsibility. However, he cannot attain that signified because his allegories can only constructan intermediary moral sphere between the objective world (whichall characters leave) and the transcendental signified ofdivine justice. This intermediary sphere helps to situate thesubject by means of arbitrary truths and illusionisticcertainties because it is an arbitrarily constructed spherebased solely on the authority of allegory. As an arbitraryThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 119construct that is the site of that authority, this sphere isideological through and through.According to Paul Smith, postmodern allegory tries to subvert and replace the ideology of symbolism. Smith’s argumentis based on Benjamin’s Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspielswhich describes the romantic dichotomy of allegory and symbolism in dialectical terms. Once the allegorist recognizesthat his construct belongs to the same dialectics as the one itreplaced and is ideological too, allegory has failed:Because of its moral base, allegory is doomed to anendless circularity in which its destruction of onemorality and truth is followed by the realizationthat its own morality and truth belong in the samearena.’6 (P. Smith 119).Watson, it seems, is fully aware of an “endless circularity” inhis plays; he has heard the devil’s laugh, which is why heoverturns last judgements by redemption and ridicules thatredemption in the last scenes of his plays. What remains isthe endless struggle of life itself which is also the life of16 Paraphrasing Benjamin, Smith says that at that pointthe allegorist hears the “devil’s laugh.” The passage in Benjamin is not as straightforward, since he links allegoresis tomateriality: “Just as the earthly sadness belongs to allegoresis, the hellish merriness belongs to a desire that thetriumph of matter prevents from occurring. . . . The astuteversatility of the human expresses itself and holds against theallegorist the mocking laughter of hell. This versatilitytransforms its materiality in the most far-fetched maze into ahuman-like self-consciousness.” [“Wie also die irdischeTraurigkeit zur Allegorese gehort, so die höllische Lustigkeitzu ihrer im Triumph der Materie vereitelten Sehnsucht. . .Die kluge Versatilität des Menschen spricht sich selber aus undsetzt, indem sie im verworfensten Kalkül ihr Materialisches imSelbstbewul3tsein menschenähnlich macht, dem Allegoriker dasHohngelächter der Hölle entgegen” (203).]The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 120the recipient because Watson encourages the audience to join inthe mockery of ultimate answers to the questions posed by life.For Watson, the ideas of a last judgement and of completeredemption appear to represent two highly suspect and problematic “solutions” to the issue of original sin. The lastwords of Cockcrow and the “Epilogue 1988” of Corporal Adamdemonstrate that Watson believes above all in the reality of acollective guilt and a continuous trial. In this context it issignificant that Mefistofilis calls himself more “real” thanGod (145-46). Indeed, to Watson, Mefistofilis is more real because neither does he believe in redemption (because he knowshe will continue the prosecution of Adam), nor does he believein the possibility of achieving Adam’s “public execution” (because he knows God will intervene in Adam’s behalf), althoughhe claims that possibility to convince Deth to continue thestruggle. The allegorical essence in these plays, then, is thebelief in original sin or a collective guilt that we cannot escape. All that remains is a continuous struggle. Watson triesto convey this belief to the audience by reducing dramatic distance between stage and audience at the end of both plays because this reduction--provided it really occurs in the production at hand--makes the audience side with characters who reject Last Judgements and redemption. In this way, then, Watsonachieves his didactic purpose: the audience joins him in hisbelief in a radical Catholicism whose credo is neither the LastJudgement nor redemption, but the continuing condition oforiginal sin.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 121With these two plays from the 1960s, we are at thethreshold of Watson’s postmodernism. His allegorical vision isstill very close to that of the theatre of the absurd. Watsonlater coined the term “radical absurdity” for his theatre, andI will show in the last section of this chapter how he situateshis new theatre in extension of as well as in opposition to thetheatre of the absurd. The traits of his radical absurdity,already visible in the early 1960s as a spirituality marked bya profound belief in original sin and a near obsessive re—jection of last judgements and final redemptions, will be bentin the late l960s towards secular rituals through which hetries to convert the audience to his view of multi-consciousness as a possible key-experience in the postmodernera.But before moving on to Watson’s secular rituals of thelate l960s, let us look ahead to his ritualistic treatment ofthe calvary in the early 1980s. This detour will clarify Watson’s allegorical method by analyzing his attitude towards history. Watson views the McLuhanesque “global village” as fundamentally ahistorical. That is why he implements atemporalrituals into his treatment of the calvary. There are also somegender specific rituals which deserve special attention becausethey reveal Watson’s profound ambiguity towards women. Thisambiguity will again be at issue in the last section of thischapter.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 122Meaningful ReversalsIn Gramsci x 3, Watson transforms a biography into anatemporal (and ahistorical) ritual. I understand this transformation as allegorical because Watson starts with thebiographicat information (for the most part gleaned fromGiuseppe Fiori’s Antonio Gramsci: Life of a Revolutionary) butgoes on to distort this information until he gives us a versionof Gramsci’s life that is entirely a construct of Watson’s imagination. In other words, he re-inscribes the biography ofGramsci with a new content. This re-inscription occurs in theallegorical gesture in which he replaces the temporality ofhistory with a ritualistic, McLuhanesque pattern recognition.Furthermore, he uses the reversals of the calvary and ofchronology to support his allegorical construct and to arriveat a truly (which for Watson means ahistorical) postmodernglobal village.Why does Watson choose Antonio Gramsci to undertake hisdeconstruction of biography? He provides a clue in theepigraph to Gramsci x 3, a quotation from James Joll’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 the human spiritThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 123from its materialist limitations.”’7 What J011 describes as aparadox is the seeming contradiction between Gramsci’sphilosophy and his life. The former is based on materialism,while the latter shows how Gramsci transcended the materialistconditions of his imprisonment in order to survive and producewritings of a high intellectual calibre. Watson exploitsGramsci’s transcendence of his materialist limitations by turning him into a Christ-like figure suffering through anatemporal and thus endless calvary. Antonio Gramsci is anideal vehicle to deconstruct a biography because of the tensions between his life and his philosophy.In the first edition of Gramsci x 3, Watson included an“Acknowledgement,” but he subsequently expanded it to a “notere script” for his 1989 drama-collection. As in the notes tothe 1960s plays, Watson uses the “note re script” to hint atand explicate an allegorical meaning of the play that mayotherwise be too obscure. Furthermore, Watson contends that to“translate the life of a revolutionary into an allegory abouttheatre as a revolutionary art” required a fair amount ofpoetic license when dealing with his source material. Watsondirects attention to two words (“revolutionary” and “allegory”)he uses to describe the translation process. He points to theMcLuhanesque understanding of “revolutionary,” maintaining that‘‘ Qtd. in Plays 431. I quote Gramsci x 3 from Plays.Gramsci x 3 consists of the three plays: “The Young Officerfrom Cagliari,” “Finding Tatiana,” and “The Doing-to-Death ofAntonio Gramsci .“The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 124revolutions “always [signify] re-inventing the wheel.”Gramsci, in Watson’s view, attempted to re-invent self-sacrifice, an insight which prompted Watson to use the calvaryas a theatrical ritual and extend the metaphor of the calvary(which Fiori uses once [219]) into a full-fledged allegory describing Gramsci’s imprisonment. This allegory then involves,by virtue of its ritual, the recipient in Gramsci’s “victimization to the machinocracy which rules us all,” thereby turning Gramsci into an Everyman with whom we can and shouldidentify.The poetic license Watson reserves for himself is evidentin a number of details. Examples are Tiu Gramsci’s detailedreport of his trial (Plays 461-66), which is only mentioned inFiori’s biography (15); Tatiana’s letter to the Gramscis (498-500), which may be fictional because it is not mentioned in anyof the sources I consulted, and the guard “Marco of Paulilatinoin Sardinia,” who engages in conversation with Gramsci in “TheDoing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci” (594) and is most likely inspired by a brief comment in Fiori’s biography about a guardfrom Paulilatino observing a visit by Gramsci’s brother (252).But there are four changes Watson undertakes that gobeyond mere detail, and it is those we shall look at first toexamine their dramatic importance with regard to the 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 Watson Allegories of the Postraodern 125(2) The officer of Cagliari;(3) Gramsci’s speech to the deputies and its circumstances; and(4) The relationship between Tatiana and Mussolini.The first major change concerns Edmea and Teresina. Whilein “The Officer from Cagliari” they are both granddaughters toTiu Gramsci, in reality only Edmea was a granddaughter to Tiu(Fiori 290) and Teresina was one of the three daughters of Tiu(19). Teresina was, according to Fiori, closest to AntonioGramsci, a claim he suppots with letters in which Antonioreminisces about their playing together as children. Furthermore, in “The Officer,” Teresina is seventeen years of age,while in Fiori’s biography we read 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 that at the time of writingthe biography, she was in her seventies, which would make herabout 40 at the time of Gramsci’s death. The officer fromCagliari at one point alleges that Antonio Gramsci has a sisternamed Teresina upon which Teresina replies, “she is my aunt”(Plays 477).These ambiguities can be seen as Watson’s way of assimilating the biographical material provided by Fiori to hisown allegorical purposes. Watson thus establishes his authority by letting his imagination fly and altering the historicalinformation his play is based upon.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 126His method is that of the melancholic allegorist: he takesTeresina, for instance, and assigns her a new meaning in hisplay. The scenes between Teresina and Edmea may gain some tension by virtue of their adolescence. This is the case in scenetwo, where Teresina and Edmea talk about Teresina’s firstmenstruation (437-38), having babies (440-41), or Teresina’sambition to emulate her uncle Antonio Gramsci (438-39).Another major addition in “The Officer” is the eponymouscharacter. While Cagliari stands in front 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, the term “police officer,” and it conveys the women’s perception of an underlyingThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 127homoeroticism in fascism. This homoeroticism is amply documented with regard to fascism’s Führerkult.’8Cagliari’s intention is to harass the Gramscis. He ordersTeresina to undress because he claims that she is reallyAntonio Gramsci. Teresina at 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 here with the intention of sexuallymolesting the Gramsci girl” (487). Dismissing suggestions forfunnelling coal-oil in Cagliari’s mouth, 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 the young fascist in retaliation forhis ill-intent towards the menstruating Teresina. The torturesappear as Watson’s sexual fantasy of a women’s solidarity thatavenges an attempted sexual crime against a woman with anothersexual crime.’9 Cagliari attempts to dominate Teresina but isin turn dominated by the women.18 See, for instance, the homophobic moral outrage WilliamShirer manifests whenever he discusses “notorious” homosexualsamong the Nazi leadership (307). Because Shirer’s is an earlystudy of fascist Germany (1950) inhibited by the anti-gay biasof its times, I take his discussions as unacknowledgeddemonstrations of homoeroticism in fascism and especially itsleadership cult.‘ The tortures in Gramsci x 3 parallel the ones at theend of The Woman Taken in Adultery, where a similar women’ssolidarity comes about and leads to the stoning of the malelawyers for their attempt to punish the adulteress.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 128A possible reading of this scene is that Watson uses thegraphic, sexual tortures to express the Old Testament notion ofjustice, namely revenge.20 This notion of justice ties in withWatson’s rejection of final redemption because the “eye for aneye” justice does not allow for any forgiveness or rehabilitation. As such, the women’s actions portray an empowerment ofwomen. They stand up against injustices done to one of theirown, and they fight back. The gender coding of the tortures,however, suggests a reading that focusses on the complexprocesses of Watson’s identification with the torturers and/orthe tortured.To begin with, it seems that Watson identifies withCagliari because, like Cagliari, he is awaiting the wrath ofwomen who stand up in solidarity for those women he has abusedin the many instances of chauvinism or even misogyny in hisplays;2’ Watson and Cagliari, therefore, are brothers in crimeand in punishment. Through his identification with Cagliari,Watson is punishing himself, which, psychologically speaking,is a form of masochism. At this point, however, Watson en-20 Incidentally, this could also be argued for the stoningof the lawyers in The Woman Taken in Adultery, where the lawyers’ “hurling” of accusations against the adulteress isavenged by the women’s hurling of rocks against them.21 See for instance the brutal transformation of the wifein The Whatnot into a piece of furniture that is sold by herhusband and the aging and rebirthing rituals in Let’s MurderClytemnestra According to the Principles of Marshall McLuhan(see also below).The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 129counters a moral impasse: how can he identify with a model-fascist and still continue to present Gramsci as an unjustlysuffering victim of the fascist state? As a result of thismoral impasse, Watson represses his desire to identify withCagliari and channels this energy into supporting the women’ssolidarity and their tortures; in other words, he deflects hismasochism into sadism so that these two aspects of his attitudemerge into a form of sadomasochism.In the course of torture, the experienced, older women initiate the young Teresina into their ranks. Sèdilo, for instance, shouts to the hesitant seventeen year old: “Teresina,come and see what a Fascist prick looks like” (489). This concern for initiation strengthens the women’s solidarity, whichis expressed in the increasing violence of their intentionstowards their victim:Let’s set fire to his joystick! [.. .]Let’s burn off his genitals. .Let’s drag him outside and set fire to him publicly.(491-92)When the women drag Cagliari eventually from the house,they carry him hanging, tied by his feet and hands, from apole. Watson thus adds another turn to his fantasy of women’ssolidarity in that he portrays Cagliari as the prey of a barbarous hunting tribe. Identifying the ritual of barbarous,sexual torture with women indicates a denigration of women because it classifies them as belonging to a less developedevolutionary stage of humanity than that of his male characThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 130ters.22 This denigration undermines the empowerment of women.If fascism can be seen as the epitome of brutality, institutionalizing, as Watson maintains very compellingly in “TheDoing-to-Death,” government-condoned tortures, then the women’sportrayal as a torturing tribe emerges as a descent to thestatus of that of fascism--at best a dubious empowerment.It is also significant that there are no other gender-specific rituals in Watson’s plays, a fact that emphasizes hisritualistic defamation of women and appears to be another sideof his male chauvinism.The references to anal stimulation (through massage or induced diarrhea) denote a possible anal-retentive character disposition in Cagliari. Indeed, he is very concerned and evenobsessed with keeping order. That he meticulously documents inhis notebook what he perceives as disorder also reveals hisurge for order: in his notebook, he redefines any disorder intoissues that fascist law can (and will) control (see, for instance, Tiu’s outcry (“Murderers and assassins!”) that Cagliaripromptly writes down [470]). Cagliari can be seen as a modelfascist or as the stereotypical fascist who does not emerge asa character in his own right but rather as a type representinga political era.2322 Even Cagliari, the model fascist and exponent of asystem based on brutality and suppression, is never shown onstage engaging in brutalities. He merely verbalizes his intentions of doing harm to Teresina.23 In some of his plays from the 1960s, Watson peoples hisplays with “caricatures,” indicating that they are not fullydeveloped characters, but rather one-dimensional farcicalThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 131In “Finding Tatiana,” Watson takes considerable poetic license when he creates Gramsci’s speech to the Chamber ofDeputies and an ensuing meeting of Gramsci and Mussolini.Gramsci’s first and last speech to the Chamber of Deputies wason a Fascist law ostensibly aimed against Freemasonry but alsodisciplining the activities of associations and clubs in general. Gramsci, according to Fiori, was “no resounding orator”and the Fascists had to keep quiet for 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 into a response to the Matteottiaffair, which happened some time before Gramsci’s speech. TheMatteotti affair caused the temporary exit of all communistdeputies from the Chamber to protest Mussolini’s involvement inMatteotti’s murder (170-74). Watson counterpoints Gramsci’sspeech with Julka’s and Tatiana’s dialogue on Gramsci’s destinyand how it draws others into serving it. The theme of thedialogue is highlighted in the hostility of Gramsci’s directaccusations of Mussolini because they will also endanger hiswife and child.The last point comes clearly across in scene 13, adialogue between Mussolini and Gramsci in which Mussolini congratulates Gramsci for a “very good” speech but also inquiresabout Gramsci’s wife and baby. Furthermore, Mussolini saystypes.The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 132that all through Gramsci’s speech, he found himself worryingabout Gramsci’s health which appears to be a veiled threat.Watson uses an anecdote in Fiori as a starting point for theencounter between Mussolini and Gramsci. However, in Fiori’saccount no dialogue between the two men existed:It has often been said--though there seem to be nodirect witnesses of the incident--that Mussolini sawGramsci immediately afterwards, having a coffee inthe parliamentary bar, and went up to him with outstretched hand to congratulate him on his speech.Gramsci continued sipping his coffee indifferently,ignoring the hand held out to him. (196)Based on hearsay, Fiori’s account can be seen to romanticizeGramsci by stressing his stern anti-fascism. However, Watson’sversion of having the fascist and the communist amiably chatwith each other can be seen to level political oppositions.This levelling can be seen as a conservative strategy and wouldsupport my contention that Watson is sympathetic to fascism, asindicated above in his repressed identification with Cagliari.Watson sacrifices accurate observance of his sources forgreater dramatic coherence, since introducing the historicaltopic and background of Gramsci’s speech would no doubt disperse the dramatic tension that Watson gradually increasesafter 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 to save herself“from the sickness unto death, the Kierkegardian desperation,of [Gramsci’sJ senseless sacrifice” (Plays 586). I could notThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postisodern 133find anything in Watson’s sources to substantiate such a rela—tionship between Tatiana and Mussolini; however, Gramsci’ssister Teresina sent a personal letter to Mussolini asking himto permit a medical examination and a stay in a prison hospital. The fascists granted both wishes but only under the harshest conditions (Fiori 233). In Gramsci, James Joll describesTatiana’s activities:[Tatiana] remained in Italy and assumed theresponsibility for giving [Gramscil such help as shecould by writing, by visiting him and--often againsthis wishes--by trying every legal, political and personal means to gain his release or at least to obtainproper medical care for him. (73)When positing an amour between Tatiana and Mussolini, Watson isletting his imagination fly to explore a possible underlyingreason, namely the Kierkegardian desperation, for the effortsof sister and sister-in-law to achieve a more “humane” imprisonment for Gramsci, even if that meant compromising hispolitical stance and their personal integrity. Gramsci’s letters substantiate Watson’s analysis to a certain degree. Hewrote to Tatiana:On the whole you like to picture me as a man insisting on his right to suffer, to be a martyr, unwillingto be defrauded of one single second or nuance of hispunishment. You see me as another Gandhi desirous ofbearing universal witness to the torments of the Indian people, or as another Jeremiah or Elijah (orwhatever the Hebrew prophet was called) deliberatelyeating unclean things in public to draw the wrath ofthe gods down upon him. (qtd. in Fiori 220)Fiori himself, however, goes on to refute Gramsci’s view ofTat iana:In reality, Gramsci was extremely conscious of thepractical result and meaning of all forms of action,The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 134and had always felt repugnance for inconclusive gestures. The rhetoric of self-sacrifice was asentimental trap he was unlikely to fall into. (220)Fiori supports his assumption by pointing to Gramsci’s attitudeof never enduring any unnecessary suffering if he could avoidit by appealing to laws and regulations. However, he alsogrants that Gramsci never appealed for anything beyond the lawfrom the Fascist state for fear of receiving personal clemency.Watson quotes the other corroborating letter of Gramsci as anepigraph to “The Doing-to-Death.” It is in his letter to hisbrother Carlo that Gramsci talks about Tatiana’s efforts on hisbehalf and distances himself from her efforts if they made theFascist regime look as though they granted him a “personal concession” for which he would have to write “an official request,giving as reason that [he] had changed [his] views, now recognized this, that and the other, and so on” (qtd. in Fiori 221).In “The Doing-to-Death,” the Fascist prison doctors askGramsci to sign as “a mere formality” a form stating his agreement to work on a critique of the Fascist myth according to thewishes of Mussolini, who wants to keep Gramsci alive until suchtime that this critique is finished (Plays 573). Gramscirefuses to sign this form but the doctors tell him that “youare one of us [. . . I IRREGARDLESS of whether you sign it ornot” (572).It seems as though the characters peopling Gramsci x 3have lost their historical significance in exchange for a newsignificance in Watson’s imaginative construct. A loosening ofThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 135referentiality marks the translation process from biography toallegory. Here we see the melancholic gazing at the historicalevents as related in a biography and experiencing a loss of anawareness for ritual patterns. The allegorical gestureoriginates in his ensuing mourning and fills historical events,characters etc. with a new, deliberate significance.Watson’s Gramsci x 3 culminates in “The Doing-to--Death,”which is a depiction of Gramsci’s imprisonment in terms of thestations of the cross. The idea for such a treatment may haveoccurred to Watson when he saw how Fiori introduces Gramsci’simprisonment. Fiori writes: “The long calvary of AntonioGramsci was beginning” (219). However, Watson used the stations of the cross as an organizing metaphor before writing theGramsci plays. The last poem in I Begin with Counting is inthis way a blueprint for “The Doing-to—Death.” “Returning toSquare One” is a number grid verse for two voices. Thesevoices take turns, one voice announcing the movement from station to station, while the other announces the event each station signifies. Only at the last station does Watson breakthis pattern, and both voices announce the events of the station.On the one hand, Watson uses the calvary to presentGramsci’s imprisonment in order to present Gramsci as the victim, as the lamb, as Jesus Christ. Because of our identification with Gramsci, assisted by the fact that Christ wascrucified on behalf of us in order to begin a new covenant be-l’he Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 136tween God and “man,” we can all claim to be victims. In his“note re script,” Watson fosters this identification by speaking of the “victimization to the machinocracy which rules usall” (Plays 433). As well, identification and participationare key features of his 1960s plays where he encourages theaudience to break down dramatic distance.On the other hand, Gramsci could be accused of sharing inthe guilt of his plight, and, if we identify with him, we canall be accused in this way. We all bear the guilt, for that iswhat Christ’s suffering symbolizes in the first place. According to the Christian belief, Christ took on himself the guiltof “mankind” and died on the cross for that guilt.Significantly, Watson reverses the stations when he usesthe metaphor of the calvary: starting at the fourteenth station, he moves back to the first, adding “it is here we mustbegin” (Poems 289, Plays 601). This reversal is ironic. ForWatson, the end is the beginning. And the beginning is not only the first station of the calvary, but it is also “squareone,” or the forum in the global village of his McLuhanesqueworld in which human interaction is possible and where thedirection of events is still undetermined.Yet the events are also interminable because any end ismerely another beginning. It seems that Watson inscribes asimilar allegorical meaning to the calvary as he did to therituals he integrated into his plays from the early 1960s. InWatson’s world, the end of the calvary is the beginning of yetThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 137another or even the repetitions of the same Calvary. Watson inthis way not only endlessly defers but altogether frustratesthe hope that Catholics place in the calvary as preparation forthe redemption of the Second Coming of Christ. What remains isa struggle that may even have the added desolation of repeatingSisyphus-like the same Calvary time and again.24Let us take a look at the spiritual content of the calvary. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the object ofthe Stations is . . . to make in spirit . . . a pilgrimage tothe chief scenes of Christ’s suffering and death” (569). Theauthor of the Encyclopedia entry reaches this conclusion:It may be safely asserted that there is no devotionmore richly endowed with indulgences than the Way ofthe Cross, and none which enables us more literallyto obey Christ’s injunction to take up our cross andfollow Him. (571)Using the term “literally” here seems curious because thisliteralness gives way instantaneously to the allegorical, namely to an identification with and acceptance of the plight of“mankind” that Christ offset with his suffering through thecalvary.24 As a matter of fact, Watson’s reversal of the stationsof the cross is historically accurate. Before the end of the15th century, the general practice was to retrace Christ’ssteps in Jerusalem, but in the opposite direction to Christ’s.Thus, the pilgrims would commence their walk at Mount Calvaryand then proceed back to Pilate’s house. It was only by thebeginning of the 16th century that the church regarded the“more reasonable” way of traversing the route as more correctand prescribed it in the 17th century in that order (CatholicEncyclopedia, v.15, 569).The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 138The reversal of the calvary directs attention to the question of who is responsible for Gramsci’s/Christ’s death becausethe play/calvary now ends with Mussolini/Pilate declaring hisinnocence:GRAMSCI. [The medical officers’] achievement has oneflaw.They have totally de-humanized me, except for thisone adversary truth: I know I have been dehumanized. .MUSSOLINI. And I believe him.Tatiana, take comfort. This crumb of illuminationis for you, not me.I wash my hands of the blood of this mistaken man.(Plays 602)Gramsci’s self-knowledge undermines his “total de-humanization”so that Mussolini construes it as comfort to the one whom heperceives as responsible for Gramsci’s state.Watson uses Antonio Gramsci’s notion of pjiziopi1atismo.To Gramsci, ponziopilatismo signified an action designed toavoid responsibility. Watson takes Gramsci’s metaphorical concept and “literalizes” it by applying it to Mussolini’s/Pilate’s actions. As a result, Watson presents Mussolini/Pilate as the unjust judge whose trial of Gramsci/Christis a parody of justice. Mussolini’s gesture of blaming Tatianafor Gramsci’s death is a further injustice.Watson also links Mussolini’s gesture to 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 Orestes and Electra, a greeting they reiterate in consecutive encounters.Julka repeatedly criticizes Tatiana/Electra for provokingThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 139Gramsci’s fateful actions by encouraging him to pursue hiscourse rather than to change his mind. Julka first introducesthe motive of Gramsci’s audacious pursuit of his course whenshe suggests that Eugenie marry Gramsci because she would “makehim / set limits to his determination to martyr / himself tothe lost cause of Italian / communism” (515). Because Eugeniecannot accommodate Julka’s request, Julka makes a similar pleato Tatiana: “You must persuade him Tatiana that he can’t helpmatters by simply throwing himself as a sacrifice at fate”(544). When Tatiana too does not act as requested, Julka accuses her: “You have made things much more difficult. .You have made him totally selfish by concentrating his attention upon himself.” Tatiana responds, “What he does is doneaccording to his destiny” (547). Her choice of words revealsthat Tatiana has accepted that Gramsci follows his course evenif it spells out doom for him and those close to him. Julka(like Mussolini) construes this acceptance and active supportof “destiny” as guilt in Gramsci’s death.Because of her central role in “Finding Tatiana” and “TheDoing-to-Death” and her subordination to Gramsci’s fate,Tatiana can be seen to represent the “universal” female in away similar to Electra in Let’s Murder Clytemnestra. The continuity in the name “Electra” with which Tatiana identifies isa further case in point. Mussolini and the long discussions hehas with Tatiana serve as a screen that focuses her feelings ofguilt. Tatiana/Electra in turn seeks alleviation of her guiltThe Work üf Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 140from Mussolini, who ultimately blames her all the more. Because of her inclination to take moral responsibility in aworld in which such responsibility is an anachronism, sheemerges ultimately as an outcast who does not belong and whomthe world punishes with the blame for Gramsci’s fate.Gramsci x 3 moves from displaying a day in history to thepresentation of an ahistorical, endless ritual that chronologically takes place before the day shown in part one of the trilogy. This internal inconsistency serves, in my view, toemphasize the trait in Gramsci’s calvary that Watson brought tothe foreground by reversing it, namely that the end is merelyanother beginning. In other words, Watson puts the day afterGramsci’s death at the beginning of the trilogy although(chrono-)logically it should be at the end.In his ordering of the Gramsci plays, Watson can be seento comment on the logic that we commonly apply to biographiesand that depends on temporality. The temporality which underlies this logic appears to have an impact on our understanding of repetitive, ritualistic patterns in the plays. What,Watson seems to ask, if temporality stands in the way of “pattern recognition” which, according to his interpretation ofMcLuhanesque education, is the poetry of environmental language? Environmental language consists of everything the environment communicates to us, for instance, Watson mentions the“environmental language of plush theatre seats [that keep] insisting ‘be comfortable, be passive, don’t respond, take iteasy’” (“Education” 212, 208).The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postiaodern 141It is possible to infer the goal of Watson’s Gramsci x 3.Watson wants to teach his audience that environmental languagecan and should replace history so that the process of patternrecognition can replace historiography and biography. Thisdidactic message brings us back to square one, which we shouldthink of as a spatial, not a temporal move.To recapitulate, it is fair to say that Watson combinesthe loosening of referentiality with pattern recognition. Inthis way, he applies a McLuhanesque notion of education to theplay. The new meaning he ascribes in an act of mourning empha—sizes ritual and its atemporal continuity. At the same time,however, it conceals anOther, in this case, a historiographythat Watson experiences as dead because it does not graspevents in terms of atemporal patterns. Grasping events asatemporal patterns emerges as the prerogative of a McLuhanesquestance that, in Watson’s view, is best described as postmodern.Let us move on then to a discussion of Watson’s understandingof McLuhan as well as to the issue of the postmodern. In theensuing section, I will also speculate about the underlyingmotivation of Watson’s male chauvinism. As it turns out, thismotivation is at the root of his belief and explains why Watsonrejects last judgements and final redemption in favour of theeternal struggle of a radically absurd world.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 142Postmodern Mul ti-ConsciousnessesWilfred Watson has been influenced throughout his careerby Marshall McLuhan’s theories. This influence culminated during the 1960s when Watson and McLuhan co-authored From Clichéto Archetype. Notwithstanding his admiration for McLuhan, Watson was not an uncritical disciple of McLuhan’s theories. Inspired by their collaboration, Watson developed a view ofmulti-consciousness rooted in McLuhan’s ideas which at the sametime went beyond McLuhan in significant ways. One can onlyspeculate as to why not more of Watson’s ideas found their wayinto From Cliché to Archetype, but there is some evidence tosuggest that McLuhan failed to accept Watson as an equal partner in the final stages of the production of the 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 draft to 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 year went on,McLuhan seemed less and less tolerant of Watson’sparticipation. . . . The “dialogue” had graduallybecome two monologues. (219)In “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” Watson’s description of the process of writing corroborates Marchand’s conclusions:The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 143When we started to write in real earnest . . . thedialogue came to a standstill. Marshall McLuhan commenced to dictate, and, as for me, my role becameadvisory--to find a word or to recall some point we’dmade in preliminary discussions. (198)Fortunately, Watson has also published a number of articles onMcLuhanesque topics. For my argument, I rely on these articles, rather than on From Cliché to Archetype.According to Watson’s account of McLuhan’s theory and oftheir collaboration, the principal disagreement between the twomen was that McLuhan insisted that the media are extensions ofthe human senses while, in Watson’s view, the media are multiplications of the senses. Watson suggests that McLuhan was sorigid in defending his view because it relied on utopian thinking:By thinking of perception as extending sense, Marshall McLuhan could suppose that human beings are integrated one with the other through the imagination,which he says in The Gutenberg Galaxy, “is that ratioamong the perceptions and faculties which exists whenthey 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 media andtechnologies. 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 sequel to 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 Watsoll Allegories of the Postinodern 144sense ratio is altered. He is then compelled to behold this fragment of himself ‘closing itself as insteel’.” (216)For Watson, on the other hand, interface or “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) rather than extendingit. In Watson’s view, then, perception goes from fragmentation(the juxtaposition of opposites) to integration (the emergenceof new constellations).Both McLuhan and Watson hold onto the Catholic belief thatthe inescapable affliction with an original sin marks the humancondition. Yet they still provide this belief, and hence theirtheories, with different emphases. To McLuhan, the outering ofthe senses in media and technologies constitutes an originalsin that destroyed the utopian plenitude of an integrated perception. This utopian plenitude is the key to McLuhan’s way ofthinking. It can be seen either as a “fall from grace,” whichis how Watson construed McLuhan’s stance, or else as an unattainable future condition. Both interpretations introduce atemporal 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 thinking about originalsin itself and what preceded it does not make sense. The keyThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 145to Watson’s thinking is the continuous struggle that we cannotescape, neither in a Last Judgement nor in redemption. The only thing left to do is to face the struggle and bear the collective guilt.As early as the l960s, Watson viewed the media as a“systemry of awareness” (“Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness” 202). As a result, he came to see every mediumas a “psychophysical means” to observe the world and as a partof human awareness or consciousness. The multiplicity ofsenses, media and technologies making up consciousness leads towhat Watson calls “multi-consciousness.” Because the media andtechnologies make sense, no two human beings can have the samemix of multi-consciousnesses. Watson thus unmasks the metaphorof the extension of sense as a strategic one. In the conclusion 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 Watsoll Allegories of the Postmodern 146previous civilization. It is this freedom, so terrible a freedom that we don’t like looking at it, afreedom we’ve hardly recognized to date, a freedomradically unlike any that mankind has yet known, thatI find myself wanting to celebrate in absurdist playsand in satirical verse. (36, my emphasis)This celebratory mood, in my view, can be seen as the essenceof Watson’s allegories in that it informs his manner of approaching his material:This new freedom I have been celebrating is really avery wonderful development--it dictates the very unrealistic settings I find myself using, and these,involving the use of multi-environments, determinethe kind of dramatic texture I have been able toachieve [in my plays]. (36-37)The multi-consciousness--on which the freedom he describesso eloquently is built--is itself contingent on the explosionof media and technologies in the twentieth century. He beginshis scrutiny with an ontological question, namely, “where inthe range of [our animal and our human] extensions do we locateour being?” (36) Watson answers indirectly by pointing to theissue of freedom. He argues that a direct answer to 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 Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 147absolute presupposition so that even a Marshall McLuhan couldfall prey to it:Significantly enough, Marshall McLuhan referred totechnologies and media as extensions of man or of thehuman senses, not as extensions of men or of people’ssenses. I cannot recall a single critic who objectedto this lumping together of awareness, as if Everymanwere a single person of both sexes and all ages.(209)Watson then directs attention to the fact that with the increase in media and technologies the possibilities of differences in awareness between two men was on the rise too. Theresult is radical eccentricity:Twentieth-century man has become a radical eccentric,with his irrationalisms, angsts, hang-ups, generationand age-peer gaps, education gaps, protest meetings,guerilla activities, broken marriages, familyschizophrenias. (210)At the same time, the decline of the book-cliché--a declinewhich “was sufficient to produce effects of fragmentation,alienation, disorientation, and disorganization” (208)--furthered this eccentricity. A single theoretical discourse,be it “Marxism or Freudianism or Jungianism or surrealism orany single ism,” could no longer convincingly explain theseruptures in contemporary life (199). Accordingly Watson says:All that could be clearly recognized was a multiplicity of movements and the word that best describedthis first post-modern decade was multiconsciousness. (199)Watson’s new postmodern eccentricity forces upon us a newconcept of absurdity, for “no two men are likely to have thesame mix of the multi-consciousnesses available” (“On RadicalAbsurdity” 41). Because multi-consciousness comes aboutThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 148through multi-awareness by means of multi—media, Watson cantheatrically represent multi-consciousness by means of multipleenvironments or milieus. This treatment in turn facilitates acertain stance towards absurd theatre:The collaging together of two or more milieus makespossible a treatment of an absurdist theatre notaltogether unlike but by no means identical with thatmodern theatre movement dominated by Camus’s sentiment of the absurd, where men and their questioningsare 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” (qtd.in “On Radical Absurdity” 43), Watson contends that the newradical absurdity induces in us hope, acceptance and complacency because of the impact of the new human senses and thefreedom to which they lead:Consequently though the new absurdity ought 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 dramatic outputof the 1960s, Watson tries to represent radical absurdity in apronounced turn to farce.25 Although the theatre of the absurdhas always had a strong link to farce, Watson makes that link25 This 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 Write ILove You bears the generic desciption “Flower Power Farce in 4Acts,” although the play consists only of two acts. Furthermore, there are many other unpublished plays bearing the generic description “farce” in their subtitle.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 149even stronger by exaggerating the oppositional character ofradical absurdity and the philosophy of the absurd.According to Leslie Smith, absurd and ridiculous situations define farce. Its starting point may be a certainnormality, but routinely its authors push it further and further towards absurdity, anarchy and even nightmare scenarios(11). Norman Shapiro also detects parallels between farce andthe theatre of the absurd. He writes in his introduction tofour farces by Georges Feydeau that both dramatists of farceand of the absurd describe “the aimlessness and unpredictability of man’s fate in a haphazard (or at least inexplicable)universe, in which things--mainly base--will happen to him forno obvious or compelling reason” (xi). Both Smith’s andShapiro’s criteria for farce can be examined in the context ofWatson’s plays. Furthermore, these criteria clarify Watson’skey terms--hope, acceptance, complacency. In Cockcrow, Watsonpushes normality towards absurdity and anarchy until thecharacters reach a nightmarish condition in which they aresentenced 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’s absurdity, because the hope that the characters attain is not 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 Watson Allegories of the Postnmdern iSOof the genre, took materials from Greek comedy and recomposedthem to fit the special performance demands of his day in orderto please his Roman audience (53). These special performancedemands were intricately linked to the venue, which was not anenclosed theatre but the ludi or games where the spectatorspassed freely from one festival event to another. The spectators of Plautus’s farces thus stroll in and out of acting andspectators’ spaces. Since classical times, farce can be seento undermine the distinction between acting space and spectators’ space, a distinction that theatre events usuallyrespect and enforce.At the culmination of Watson’s plays, he often invites thespectators to break down that distinction by means of participation in the performance. In other words, Watson invites thespectators to accept moving into another space, similar to thespectators of a festival who have to accept moving from spaceto space, being mere spectators to the present performance andcalled upon to be active participants in the next one.26In 0 Holy Ghost DIP YOUR FINGER IN THE BLOOD OF CANADA andWrite, I Love You, Watson uses different spaces too, butwithout involving the audience. In this play, all actorsportray multiple characters:26 With 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 Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 11M/l. & old Richard Sunflower& young Richard Sunflower, referred to as the Red-charred& RCMP officer& war-worker & army officer & hangman & priest atburial service & judge, etc. (253)From scene to scene, Watson has the actors slip into differentfictive spaces defined by the characters they portray. In someinstances these different fictive spaces coincide with different performing spaces:CHORUS/FF. She doesn’t know, she doesn’t know .KATERINA. projectingI don’t even know what a sunflower is [. . .1rifle fire . . . Chorus/Ff including Katerina dropdown on their faces (255)Here, F/3 steps forward from the chorus and settles into one ofher roles, namely Katerina, and then returns to being a memberof the chorus. This dramatic method makes it more difficult toconcentrate on the whole because Watson subverts the usualorientation points and dramatic continuity that stable characters provide. As a result, the play induces the spectators toconcentrate on the individual scenes regardless of their connection to the whole. This dramatic method is reminiscent ofPlautus’s farces where the festival setting also facilitatedattending to the parts rather than the whole (Redmond 57).In Watson’s radical absurdity the motive of acceptance isrelated to complacency and the acceptance of different spacesinvites complacency about farcical anarchy. Yet the complacency Watson induces is ambiguous because at times he also encourages active participation, which is opposed to complacency.In this way, it seems that Watson’s radical absurdity, with itsThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 152many connections to the farce, merely intensifies the ties between the theatre of the absurd and the farce. Besides, Watsonoften prescribes a destruction of plot that has always been oneof the tenets of farce.27Let’s Murder Clytemnestra According to the Principles ofMarshall McLuhan appears to be a theatrical response to Watson’s preoccupation with the theories of McLuhan during thelate l960s. Written in a tongue-in-cheek and highly satiricalmanner, it is a dramatic meditation on their collaboration 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 only decides the fate of the accused but it decides the fate of 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.27 To wit, Plautus wrote his farces to attack the genre ofGreek comedy.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 153In the “Prolog,” Electra repeats her confession “I havemurdered Clytemnestra” twenty-six times as though probing itfor its truth content (Plays 345-46). Like a pedal tone in apiece of music, Electra’s incantation provides rhythm, harmonical ground and mood for more elaborate thematic 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 provides his name. Before givinghis name, he talks about himself in a self-deprecatory manner(“I am nobody, I am not even somebody. . . . I am not even influential” [345]). The unrelatedness of Electra’s repetitionsand Psi’s discourse may be seen as indicative of the absurdworld the setting and the characters represent. This absurdworld has the potential to turn quickly into a nightmarishprison in which Doctors dissuade orderlies from torture andphysical punishment not because it is inhuman, but because onecan get results in another way. Thus, at the end of the“Prolog,” when Dr Psi insists on learning Electra’s last nameand she cannot give it, he calls for an orderly to find out hername just to change his mind:DR PSI. Don’t bother with her. Don’t waste the backof your hand on her. Dr Kykoku will find out hername. --We can ask her brother what her name is.ORDERLY. to ElectraDon’t bother screaming. We’ll find out from yourbrother what we want to know about you. (347)The Orderly repeats and extends Dr Psi’s words; he threatensElectra with a violation of her privacy.The ork of Wilfred Watsofi Allegories of the Postodern 154At 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 state in scene one that “the lawhas been abolished” (350). Yet throughout the 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 plaintiff and defendant.Samuela, Dr Psi’s secretary, points out that “this table divides the age of Marshall McLuhan from the age of the newcharisma” and that “THIS side of the table . . . is trying theother side of the table” (352 & 350). She goes on 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 are tobe 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)C.ci-Cl)H’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•(JO.ci’‘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)1cJ1The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 156McLuhan’s principles to do that. The title thus emerges as aninvitation to use McLuhan’s theory to think beyond McLuhan.28By employing characters from Greek mythology, Watson seemsto suggest an analogy between that mythology and the post-modern. Greek mythology embodies an unacknowledged Other ofGreek rationality, the foundation of Western rationality.29The analogy suggests that the postmodern is an unacknowledgedOther of the modern. The positional infighting among the Greekcharacters (Clytemnestra vs. Orestes) parallels and representspositional infighting within the postmodern (McLuhan vs. Watson)From the beginning of the play, Electra feels responsiblefor moral impasses brought about by her environment. Dr Psiand Dr Kykoku reenforce these feelings of guilt before alleviating them in rituals of aging and rebirthing. Electracould be seen in this way as the universal (and stereotypical)female, taking moral responsibility for her environment andseeking relief from male characters. Watson, it seems, reenforces this chauvinist attitude of the male characters towards28 The variation on the first running header, “Less molderKlukluxklanestra” (346), signals primarily an association ofClytemnestra with the Klu Klux Klan. In this way, Watson further discredits the position of Clytemnestra/McLuhan.29 Horkheimer 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 Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 1S7Electra by accepting the dichotomy of power and moral responsibility and aligning it with the male and female characters inhis play. This alignment implicates Watson in the issues ofpower and gender. To Watson, it seems, Electra, or the femalehe construes, is portrayed as an anachronism that does not fitinto the postmodern multi-conscious world. As a result, theadvocates of the new age try to alter her in medical experiments.Dr Psi seems to take the role of the 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 the defense. The counsel forthe defense has to be determined first. Electra suggestsOrestes as counsel but Dr Psi tells her that a prisoner cannotrepresent another prisoner. Psamathe suggests that they ask“the Company of young Psychocanadians [. . .1 to send us abunch of student actors . . . to sort of represent us” (378).Psi, however, blocks this suggestion by explaining that “everyone in the age of the new charisma is a student. If you are astudent, you can’t represent a student” (379). This paradoxleads to an impasse in which no one can represent the accused.Psi uses this impasse for his attempt to dismiss the case, butKykoku volunteers to represent the prisoners. Psi explains toKykoku the consequences of not dismissing this case:KYKOKU. If Orestes is found guilty of murderPSI. we shall have to re-educate--re-program himKYKOKU. and in order to re-educate himPSI, we shall have to re-educate the entire globalThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 158communityKYKOKU. and that will mean the end of the age of thenew charismaPSI. before it has barely got under wayKYKOKU. and almost before the age of McLuhan is overPSI. and at a time when we haven’t had time--tothink of what comes after the age of the newcharisma! (379)Because of the stychomythia, it seems that both speakers arefully aware of the consequences of Kykoku’s actions, namely areturn to temporality. The age of the new charisma, however,is atemporal: characters from Greek mythology participate inl96Oish peace dances in the spirit of a true McLuhanesqueglobal village.Dr Psi’s reason for wanting to disallow Kykoku the defenseof the prisoners is his intention to dismiss the charges in order to save the “age of the new charisma.” In this way, itseems that more than the individual crimes of the 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 the play, Watson exploits the medical cliché of the “Gods in white” to have a godlike judge, namely Dr Psi. In light of these parallels of thistrial with the Last Judgement, the outcome of the trial promises to be final, whichever way the verdict goes. However,this trial does not produce a verdict; instead, Dr Psi dismisses the charges. Yet the outcome of the trial still resembles averdict: Dr Psi also orders Kykoku to perform an aging ritualon the prisoners. In other words, they remain in the power ofthe age of the new charisma.The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 159According to Watson, media and technologies constitute newsenses and not merely extensions of senses so that he canrepresent these new senses in peculiar pullulations of heads(Dr Psi, Electra), backbones (Dr Kykoku), legs (Samuela),tongues (Psamathe), and vaginas (Electra). On several occasions, repetitions of language accompany these pullulations.In scene one, the revelation that Dr Psi has two heads is accompanied by a prolonged doubling of utterances:(Dr Psi steps to one side with Orderly Smith)ORD. SMITH. Sir, when’s this autopsy about 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 until Samuelaquadruples 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 has two heads,Dr Kykoku has two backbones, and Dr Psi’s secretary who I thinkis called Samuela has FOUR legs” (357).Cl)> IICD•CDCD CD CDCl)>CD•CDCD CDCDCDCl) 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)CDCDCl)CCDC)CD)CDCDC CDtlj 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)rCDCCl)CD<Cl)SCDC) CDCl)CD1)CDCl). HSCl)CYqCDCDSCl)CDCD CDSSCDCl)rC<Cr•rh))CCC)CrC)r1)CDCl)r)rCl)Cl))rCDCDrtCDCl)CCDCl)CDSCD.P))CC)CDCl)Cl)freri-ZCDr+)Cl)SCD)r+CDr-t-c-+F-.hF—QCCDCC+)CF-a..r1Q.>F-•CDF-r+:1Cl)-.SDCDCD)Cl)CDr+CDe<>SC)Cl)I!)Cl)C)rCl)CDCC1’CD))=Cl)r1rtCCDCDCl)Cl)CC.CCl)CDCDtlj.rrrhC5)rt--)CDCDr+CDCDCDC)+•iCDC)>)Cl)Hr+r1.CCDrtC)ClC)Cl)rICl)1rCDCl)CrCDCDi)CC)C.r1CDCl)CC)Crrt“CD-S)CD•Cl)ç))1C)rt©CD.C)ZCl)CHCSCDCCD--F—HCl)CCDCD)CDr+Cl)Cl)CDeC.r-f-CCDCD)>r+Cl)5CDCDCD)CDCDCD)Cl)CDCrfCDCDr+Cr+CDCl)CDCDiSr)5C)C<CC)C-a.CDC)Cl))r-ct)CDC)CDCD)-•C)‘CCDCD-5c-i-r+))C)Cl)CDCl)Cl))Cl)CDr-CCl)CCr1CCl)r+))••-•CD•Cl)CDDC))CC-Crtr)CDCDCDCDCCDC.Cl)CD)<C)CDCr1CDrCl)CCD<1Cl)HH.C)CDCDH.CDCDCl)CDCDHHrO,c-fr)C>CCD)CD)rtHCDrt><))CH•CD-H)Cl)Cl)CDCCDLTiCrCl)CDC.Cl)CD)r+)r+CDCDC)Cl).—CC‘-c-i-C))H•Cr-1C-CH•Cl)IZ—1CDCl)Cl)H•HC)1C)CD—CDThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 161her nineteen heads complicate the process further as Dr Kykokuexplains after the results of PIAT become evident:I was going to age eleven of her heads and leaveeight as young as they were. [. . •1But oh the laughter in the tears of things--each ofher PIAT’s turned out differently. Every one of hernineteen heads has a different age. [. . .1But she has the entire gamut of female intelligenceto draw on--from the moist thinking of nubile girlmind to the gravelly platitudes of an aged sybil hungup in a cage to die! (394)In this way, PIAI results in a reduction of Electra into a number of clichés stereotyping women at different stages in theirlives and in different roles. Kykoku emphasizes this reductionand hints at its sexist nature when he says, “Every shade offemale cogitation [. . .1 from flirt to ancient bitch!” (394).Watson considers the outcome of the trial as flawed because of its injustice to Electra: PIAI prevents her fromliving her life. As a result and as in the plays from the early l960s, Watson overturns this damnation--not in a deus exmachina redemption but in a ritual of rebirth that allows Electra to start her life over again. This ritual is reminiscentof PIAI: Kykoku places Electra in a circle and he, the sisters,orderlies and prisoners dance around her chanting incantationsto the sole accompaniment of drums. Eighteen of Electra’sheads will be turned into vaginas which the chorus’ repetitiveincantations foreshadow: “Plant her eyes in a lion’s pole / forit to plant in a lioness’s hole” (409). This first chant andits sexual explicitness and the implicit act of copulation setthe tone for the remaining chants, which are not as explicitThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 162but still build on the male-female opposition and an act ofcopulation. For instance, the “Brahma bull’s pizzle” and the“brood-cow’s twizzle” can be seen as comic neologisms for maleand female genitalia. Kykoku and the others repeat this patterned chant nine times, perhaps because an eighteen-foldrepetition would be too long drawn out. The result of thisritual is “the new young Electra” (415).The reencoding ritual also attests to Watson’s malechauvinism because of an implicit equation of woman with sexualorgan. In Western cultures, this equation is often a way ofdenigrating women. Watson uses this denigration in a particularly flagrant form because Dr Kykoku transforms Electra’s multiple heads into multiple vaginas in a ritual reminiscent of arebirth. This rebirth suggests that Electra’s head should betransformed into a vagina so that she would be coded ‘properly’and perhaps not blame herself compulsively for a murder she hasnot committed.The singing and dancing at the end of the play seem tocelebrate an outbreak of peace:Agamemnon has declared peace on Israeli.Agamemnon has declared peace on Israeli.Israeli has declared peace on Saudi Egypt.Israeli has declared peace on Saudi Egypt. (423)Orestes interrupts this chant with a long monologue in which heasks Moses, King David, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jesus what heshould do for peace. All of them, except Ezekiel, who saysthere is nothing he can do for peace, advise him to take offThe Work of Wilfred Watson Al]egories of the Postmodern 163all his clothes for peace. Orestes then addresses the audiencewith a sixtyish appeal to do something for peace:Won’t you take off all your clothes for peace?Won’t you take off some of your clothes for peace?Won’t you take off any of your clothes for peace?Won’t you do anything for peace? (423)The singing and dancing and Orestes’ monologue with the implicit appeal to the audience to do something for peace seemlike an interruption of the play’s plot. However, the late1960s provide a context for the play that explains the interruption. The late 1960s saw a rapidly escalating Vietnam warand a popular people’s movement against it 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 known as the Woodstock Festival, asan expression of that era: OO,OOO, mostly young, peoplelistened to their favorite music, which expressed directly andindirectly their opposition to the Vietnam war and the coldwar.The “peace”-interruptions, then, emerge as something akinto a more or less spontaneous “happening.” One could imaginethe audience joining in the chanting, dancing, perhaps eventaking off their clothes “for peace.” Any of these actionswould collapse the defining element of the Western prosceniumstage, namely the strict separation of performing space andspectator space. However, as Yi-Fu Tuan has pointed out in hisarticle on “Space and Context,” this separation is in sometheatrical genres not as strict as in others. Popular theatreThe Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 164at times approaches the space of a village festival where performers and spectators share a space where everyone joins inthe performance. In comedies, too, the laughter of theaudience shows their active participation and breaches thestrict separation of performing space and spectator space,while in tragedies we tend to retain our distance by assumingthe role of observer because the situations represented are tooextreme and painful for us to want to become “involved” (Tuan242)This “happening”--if it occurs with audience participationin varying degrees--can be seen as the culmination of the farcical elements in Let’s Murder. The audience’s acceptance ofmoving into different spaces and their complacency towards thedestruction of plot, which is already partially manifest in thedrawn-out PIAI and reencoding rituals, are the key elements inWatson’s “radical” absurdity because they expand the theatre ofthe absurd towards a representation of postmodern multi-consciousness. Watson still increases the 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 spaces and experiences thatrepresent multiple levels of awareness or consciousness. Inother words, Watson’s radical absurdity tries to decentre thehomogeneous experience of going to see a play by turning thatexperience into a heterogeneous one consisting of observationof and participation in multiple worlds or milieus.Ike Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 165Yet the happening can also be seen in analogy to the playsfrom the early 1960s as an invitation to the audience to participate in the continuing struggle, since neither the trial northe rebirth solved any of Electra’s problems. The happeningserves in this way as a preparation of the audience to acceptthe everyday reality of life in a world determined by multi-consciousness. As in Shakespearian comedy, the marker for thereturn to a “normal” life uninterrupted by the comic confusionsjust witnessed on stage is the marriage that Dr Kykoku an—nounces at the end of the play. Electra decides to marry DrPsi, who thinks marriage is the only alternative to PIAI andthe only “compensation” for having suffered the reencodingritual (419). If we take this marriage as a positive event,then Watson’s allegorical message to the audience appears tobe: sing, dance, take off your clothes for peace, or getmarried, but the struggle of life will go on infinitely, nomatter what you do . . . However, especially with regard toWatson’s construction of gender as well as his male chauvinism,we should not be deceived by a traditional happy ending and a1960s Make-Love-Not--War atmosphere. Below the surface, Watson’s message is conservative, if not reactionary. When considering the happy ending, one should immediately ask, happyfor whom? Here, then, we can come back to Watson’s belief inoriginal sin over last judgements and final redemption. In thecontext of this belief, his male chauvinism can be seen as anaffirmation of the Catholic belief in Eve’s (or woman’s) guiltThe 1ork of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 166in the fall of “man.” Time and again, Watson employs methodsof characterization that transform female characters intostereotypes of “female” behavior, whether we look at the“docile” acceptance of moral responsibility in Electra or atthe characters participating in the women’s solidarity inGramsci x 3 and The Woman Taken in Adultery. On closer examination, these stereotypes are vehicles for inscribing an allegorical message because they broaden the characters’ significance beyond what they present on stage. Against thisbackdrop, Watson’s allegorical message is that, ultimately,woman is to blame for the condition of the continuous struggleof life.Thus far, I have shown how Watson’s plays from the 1960sintegrate trial scenes with the theme of the Last Judgement andhow this integration serves to communicate to the audience andeducate it that there is no end in sight to the struggle. NowI want to take these insights into Watson’s plays and relatethem to the process of allegorical encoding as it is triggeredby the melancholy of the author.As I argued in chapter three, a deeply felt loss is theroot cause of melancholy. For Watson, the redemption of theoriginal sin is lost. Last judgements and final redemptionsare supposed to put an end to the suffering caused by anoriginal sin, but they fail to do so. Watson experiences thisfailure as catastrophic. And here is the unspeakable for WatThe Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 167son: the collective guilt that follows the original sin is irredeemable. The knowledge of this irredeemability is anOtherof Watson’s allegories. To quote Wittgenstein’s truism here,“Of that which you cannot speak, you must remain silent,” is todescribe Watson’s dilemma as it represents itself to me: forhim, not being able to communicate anOther or to remain silentequals death. Death, however, is profoundly unacceptable andhe expresses as much in his description of the “atypical absurdist impasse” (“On Radical Absurdity” 37). This impasse, namely “the fact that when you are dead you cannot die,” only posesitself to someone who does not accept death as an end of life.Indeed Watson’s characters go on living in atemporal ritualsafter they are fatally shot, summoned to stand trial in heaven,or have reportedly died shortly after being released fromprison. Because his recognition is unspeakable, however, it isbracketed and the allegorist in his melancholic broodingfocuses on that which provides continuity. For Watson, thiscontinuity evolves from the never-ending struggle. This struggle is ahistorical because it manifests itself in timelessrituals.168Chapter 5The Work of R. Murray SchaferPostmodern McLuhanesque UtopianismAfter looking at Watson’s relationship to McLuhan, it isinteresting to consider Murray Schafer’s stance towardsMcLuhan’s theories, which influenced him very much. He wrotean article on McLuhan full of praise for the man and hisachievements. Primarily, he uses McLuhan’s concept of“acoustic space” to introduce a new notion of genre into thehistory of music.’Schafer states that music-historical periods thus far havebeen described according to minute stylistic criteria. However, moving from one acoustic space into another one is farmore momentous and significant a development so that he arrivesat different generic, music-historical periods and the move,for instance, from the church into the concert hail has a moreprofound effect on composers and their music than a periodchange from, say, classical to romantic music with itsstylistic changes.‘ Although I am not particularly concerned with influenceson Watson and Schafer, I acknowledge that McLuhan’s treatmentespecially of the visual/aural orientation of cultures exerteda massive influence on both Watson and Schafer. I assume thisinfluence throughout.The tiork of R. turray Schafer Allegories of the Postajodern 169Even from this terse account of Schafer’s McLuhanesquereconceptualization of music history we can see that Schafer’sposition is closer to McLuhan than it is to Watson because ofits concern with history and temporality. Watson rejects suchnotions in favor of an atemporal global village. But Schafer’sproximity to McLuhan becomes even clearer once we look at hisnotion of ritual in the context of synaesthesia and its impacton sensorial experience. Schafer states repeatedly that inPatria he strives to elicit synaesthetic experiences from hisaudiences. In his monograph on Patria, he points to theCatholic liturgy as a model of the type of synaesthesia hetries to achieve in Patria:Life itself is the original multi-media experience.Single art forms amputate all of the senses exceptone. If we look for examples of ritualized multi-channel experiences we will find them in unusualplaces. Thus, the Roman Catholic mass is (or was)such an experience. All the senses are summoned up:vision--the architecture of the church, the colour ofthe vitraux; hearing--the music of the choir and instruments, the ringing of bells; taste--the transubstantiation of the bread and wine; smell--the incense; touch--devotion on the knee (which at timeseven took the form of elaborate peregrinations aboutthe church), prayer beads in the hand, etc. Whatstrikes us here is that at no time are the sensesbombarded aimlessly; everything is neatly integrated.In the Catholic mass there is no sensory overload.It could serve as a model for study. (Patria and theTheatre of Confluence 32).Schafer’s description posits a similar, utopian notion of perception as the one Watson criticized in McLuhan. Schafer’sutopianism is even more pronounced than McLuhan’s because hemaintains that we can achieve again that state of unified experience in a carefully orchestrated, synaesthetic ritual. AsThe Work of R. Iurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 170well, the teleological nature of his Patria cycle (manifest inthe underlying quest-theme and in the ultimately successfulquest) introduces forcefully a sense of 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) CD CDHCDCD0.-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 )CDOD CDr1CD -5CDH.C)C) < C)H’CDH CD 0CD-t0. 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CD Cl) C H-The Work of R, 1Iurray Sch3fer Allegories of the Postinodern 172career, namely his many different talents and how they benefitthe Patria cycle:3His experience as educator comes from having taught notonly at the university and college level but also in highschools and elementary schools.4 As scholar, Schafer has published several monographs in different fields as well as editing several authors’ writings on music. Furthermore, he haswritten numerous articles on diverse subjects. He was co-founder of the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser Universityin Burnaby for which he was also the director from 1965-75. Attimes, Schafer contributes to the public discussion of 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. As lecturer,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.”6 Read “The Glazed Soundscape” and “Music And the IronCurtain.”The h’ork of II. iforray Schafer Allegories of the Postaioo’ern 173most important of the various roles of Murray Schafer is thatof the artist, a complex role that can be further divided intocomposer, writer, playwright, graphic artist, theatre producerand director.Patria draws on every single one of Schafer’s multipletalents. Most obviously, Patria poses a direct challenge toMurray Schafer, the artist. Because of the generic multidisciplinarity of opera in general and of Patria in particular,Schafer’s work requires the artist in all his specific manifestations: composer, writer, playwright, graphic artist,theatre producer and director. The educator, scholar and lecturer are necessary because the cycle instructs everyone involved in an ecological commitment that calls for research andintegration into his artistic vision. Finally, the politicalcommentator, satirist, journalist and naturalist aid in thedefense, promotion and dissemination of ideas related to thecycle.7The multidisciplinarity of Patria and Schafer’s multipletalents seem to complement each other in a near perfect way.In my view, Schafer has tailored this mega—project to fit histalents in order to keep control of as many aspects 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 acerbic essay on theCanadian Opera Company’s (COC) production of The Characteristics Man. In the latter, Schafer not only attacks 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-e r+)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 Schafer AJiegories of the Postmodern 175siderable revaluation and recontextualization of Patria 1: TheCharacteristics Man.Although these two works are only seven years apart, whatseparates them is an “evolution of thinking” in Schafer’s attitudes towards art, theatre and ecology (Patria and the Theatreof Confluence 11). In an essay entitled “The Theatre of Confluence,” Schafer describes his changed attitudes by introducing the outlandish theatrical paradigm of The Princess. Hequeries Western cultural history and the values he sees emerging from it. He points out that “the rampant destruction ofnature did not get underway until the establishment of humanistic philosophies, of which in the West, Christianity hasbeen the most influential” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 91). Hence it comes as no surprise when he states: “Iam concerned with environmental topics about which Christianityand humanism can teach me nothing” (91). He discerns a morefertile 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. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 176In this way, Schafer intends to be an “engaged” artist. Yetnot in the traditional sense of restoring certain social imbalances, but in the sense of restoring certain ecological imbalances.In The Princess, Schafer tries to restore these imbalancesby means of a hierophany, a sacred ritual demanding certain attitudes from performers and spectators. These attitudes are toa large extent responsible for fostering the ontological insights Schafer seeks to bring about. Although it is not per sea sacred ritual that determines the performers’ and spectators’attitudes in The Characteristics Man, I maintain that the conventions both of producing and visiting an opera constitute asecular ritual that is just as influential on our attitudes asa sacred one.To do justice to Schafer’s work, we should dispense withthe habitual assumption that the term “ritual” is only applicable to non-Western cultures. This habit of thought arose owingto those anthropologists whose work dealt primarily with traditional societies in non-Western cultures and who coined thephrase “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 serves toerect 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 177According to Amankulor, some theatre critics reprimand theircolleagues for an alleged misuse of a broadened concept ofritual that does not give in to that dichotomy:Though experimental and avant-garde theatre groupsmay pretend to practice theatre as ritual, criticsmust be reminded of the dangers of taking suchpretensions seriously. (229)A prominent advocate of a broader concept of the ritual isRichard Schechner. His theatre practice as well as histheoretical writings unveil the widely accepted anthropologicaldefinition of the ritual as too narrow. As a result, hedefines ritual as a broader concept that circumscribes the essence of theatre itself as an artistic process. This inclusiveconcept of the ritual consists of both the neglected Westernaspects of ritual and the narrow anthropological definition.As a result, the latter can no longer govern the concept’sfield and we can rethink the ritual context of western theatre.The Princess of the Stars leaves the conventional stageand ventures outdoors, namely onto a wilderness lake. Furthermore, the work is to be performed at dawn on an autumn morning.Both spatial and temporal setting thus go against deeply entrenched habits of the audience. Schafer comments tongue incheek: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 pilgrimage to the site of theThe Work of R, i1furray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodere 178ceremony. This experience, he reminds us, 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 must go there like a pilgrim on a deliberate journey in search of a uniqueexperience which cannot be obtained by money or allthe conveniences of modern civilization. (119)In pilgrimage and performance, thus, nothing transpires withoutsemiotic import. Getting up in the middle of the night, driving to the lake, walking from the road to the lake--all theseactions take on a mystic if not sacred significance. Schaferdecidedly strives for such reverberations as the followingremark shows:All rituals are rooted in antiquity or must appear tobe. If they have not been repeated uninterruptedlythroughout the ages, archaic dress, conduct andspeech can assist in creating this impression. Whenwe performed The Princess of the Stars on Two-JackLake [near Banff in 1985], gaunt black-robed ushersconducted the audience from the road to their placesat 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 outdoor settingof The Princess is more than merely an outlandish backdrop to aperformance that could be experienced in spite of or even with-8 Patria 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 them as agroup of initiates to the cult of the Egyptian sun god. Ra hasan elaborate olfactory dimension and in one of the numerouspreparation exercises, the Hierophant’s helpers (whom Schafercalls Hierodules) teach the initiates to distinguish the perfumes of the various gods (see editing unit 10).The Work of B. Yorray Schafer Allegories of the Postodern 179out the outdoors. Outdoors and timing are important aspects ofthis ritual. For instance, the climax of the work, which isthe entrance of the canoe carrying the sundisk, must coincideprecisely with the rising of the sun.Yet what happens if the sun does not rise and remains hidden behind clouds? Here we have touched on another dimensionof the environment’s role. As Schafer explains, it goes so faras to overshadow the human involvement in this work:The living environment enters and shapes the successor failure of The Princess of the Stars as much as ormore than any human effort; and knowledge of thismust touch the performers, filling them with a kindof humility before the grander forces they encounterin the work’s setting. (110)Schafer does not ask the spectators to participate directly in the performance, yet within the fiction of the work, theybecome more than mere spectators. Once the presenter has rowedhis canoe across the lake, he greets the spectators and provides them with background to the ritual they are about to witness. 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 of afew magical words and carries on:Watch now and listen carefullyFaithful trees,But of the things you witness hereThe liork of B. Xurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 180Remain silent,For they are ancientAnd sacred. (The Princess of the Stars 21-2)The presenter’s claim to turn the audience into trees can beseen to cause that state of perplexity in the audience thatCraig Owens identifies as initiating many allegories. Owens’sexample is Dante’s Divine Comedy where the narrator is over-tired and loses his way (see “The Allegorical Impulse” 219,esp. n.43). Only by becoming a part of the environment may humans witness the ritual of The Princess. Keeping the crucialrole of the environment in mind, one can say that the participation of the audience in the spectacle is dependent more ontheir attitude towards the ritual than on participatory action:if they believe they are trees and as 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-cut dichotomy. In theatre and ritual, the suspension of disbelief is 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 neither a man nor a deerbut “somewhere in between” (Schechner, Between Theatre andAnthropology 4). Schechner describes this state as one ofliminality:The Work of R, Yurray Schafer Allegories 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 in the liminal areas of“characterization,” “representation,” “imitation,”“transportation,” and “transformation.” (4)The success of Schafer’s project in Patria depends on transporting the audience to a state of liminality. The presenter’smagic incantation changes the audience into being “not themselves” (through a willingness to undertake a leap of faith)and “not not themselves” (through the impossibility of a transformation into trees)One could also say that the presenter’s magical wordsenable the individual spectators to constitute a group or congregation. According to Richard Schechner, theatre and ritualare poles of a continuum of performance. Hand in hand with themovement from theatre to ritual goes an inverse movement from anumber 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 his9 Performance Theory 142. Schechner, however, uses histerms inconsistently. Clearly, what he calls here a transformation into a group is not a permanent change and should beconsidered according to his own usage in Between Theatre andAnthropology a (temporary) transportation, for once a ritual iscomplete the group will disperse into separate individuals.The Work of B. Yorray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 182Patria cycle, he is quite aware that a Schaferian “Bayreuth” isalmost impossible to achieve because of the changing requirements in setting of his work. He points out that the individual installments are self-sufficient, but, at the same time, hesays that individual parts “[gain] in richness by the over-layering of themes from the other [parts]” (Patria and theTheatre of Confluence 209). In order to make the best use ofthis “overlayering of themes,” Schafer makes sure that one canaccess parts of Patria without actually seeing them performed.He writes:I have always believed that [the Patria pieces] canbe digested in formats other than physical performance, which is why the scores contain so many diagrams, drawings and footnotes in addition to the music. The cross-references and relationships betweenindividual pieces exist at many levels and one canproceed to whatever depth desired to find them. (11)On the one hand, Schafer seems to suggest that the individualinstallments of Patria contribute by means of their interrelations to their status as “closed” texts in Umberto Eco’s terminology. Eco describes texts that aim at generating a preciseresponse from a group of empirical readers as “closed” andtexts that provide few specific response indications as “open”(The Role of the Reader 7-8). On the other hand, Schafer implicitly directs attention to what the audience brings to aperformance in the way of expectations and assumptions thatthey acquired from various sources, such as program notes,reviews, critical writings such as Schafer’s monograph onPatria, and the scores themselves. Theatre semiotics is justThe Work of R. ‘lorray Schafer A]]egories of the Fostniodern 183beginning to explore the issue of the “advance” knowledge ofthe audience. Marvin Carison’s essay “Theatre Audiences andthe Reading of Performance” suggests how research into thatarea might be pursued. In his conclusion, he states:The comparatively small amount of reception researchcarried out in the theatre to date has been developedalmost entirely through interviews and questionnairesseeking to establish what an audience thought or feltabout a performance after its completion. Almost noorganized work has been done on the other end of thisprocess: what an audience brings to the theatre inthe way of expectations, assumptions, and strategieswhich will creatively interact with the stimuli ofthe theatre event to produce whatever effect the performance has on this audience and what effect theyhave upon it. (24)In light of the absence of theoretical and empirical researchin that field, I can only speculate as to the particular “advance” knowledge an audience might bring to a performance ofThe Characteristics Man. Keeping in mind, however, that thiswork is performed in a conventional operahouse, we can assumethat the various paraphernalia accompanying an opera productionwould also be present here. Among these paraphernalia are thenow 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 available toset into motion a process of recontextualization.The i’ork of I?. urray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 184To begin with, The Characteristics Man is renamed Wolfman.As Schafer explains, “Wolf is the original form of theprotagonist of the Patria cycle and the form to which heultimately returns” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 47).Yet the recontextualizations go beyond thematic aspects. Theyalso have the purpose of changing the attitudes of spectatorstoward the rituals they inevitably undergo with each performance.Whether it is triggered by an actual witnessing of a performance or by other means of accessing The Princess, a contemplation of the outdoor setting and the pilgrimage makes thespectators of Wolfman more aware of the surroundings of thisperformance as well. The spectator, then, would become awareof his or her preparations for the performance and how the dayof the performance changes because of it. The spectator wouldheed the cultural conventions that regulate a visit to theopera. Schafer acerbically juxtaposes the audience rituals ofthe modern opera to those of The Princess:Instead of a somnolent evening in uphostery, digesting dinner or contemplating the one to follow, thiswork takes place before breakfast. No intermissionto crash out to the bar and guzzle or slump backafter a smoke. No pearls or slit skirts. (Patriaand the Theatre of Confluence 119)All of these conventions make up the neglected Western aspectsof ritual.By designating The Princess as the prologue to Patria,Schafer turns Wolfman into an exploration of those conventionsthat constitute the Western secular ritual of paying a visit toThe liork of B. Jlurray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 185the opera. Furthermore, the setting of Wolfman takes on ironicovertones because now it appears to be a “return” to the (conventional) theatre. The Princess thus also functions as a“tuning into nature” for the entire cycle. We already knowthat in the epilogue, tentatively entitled “And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon,” the cycle will return to a (or perhaps even“the”) wilderness lake. Therefore, the pieces in betweenprologue and epilogue are explorations into bizarre territory.They are the stations in a metaphorical calvary Wolf has to undergo before he can return to the lake where his travels began.At the end of Wolf’s calvary as at the end of Christ’s Calvary,there is the hope for redemption. That redemption is notbrought about through Wolf’s efforts, but through the effortsof the animals of the forest who take pity on Wolf. As weshall see further below, Wilfred Watson reverses the calvary 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 of the audiencechange with the recontextualization; those of the performerschange too. A professional company such as the Canadian OperaCompany (COC) should have no major problems in performing Wolfman, considering Schafer’s meticulous score and its many illustrations, which suggest what certain scenes may look like onstage. That was also the impression under which Murray Schaferagreed to a performance of Wolfman by the COC without beinghimself directly involved in the production. He writes:The Work of R. i[urray Schafer Allegories of the Postajodern 186The score of Patria 1 is very explicit and if thedirections were followed it should be possible for asmooth machine like the COC to approach it with something like efficiency. (Patria and the Theatre ofConfluence 68)The COC in all its efficiency, however, compartmentalized theproduction by adhering to a hierarchical structure in which alltasks are exactly distributed and the participants may nottransgress the limits of individual responsibility. Schaferdescribes that compartmentalization as follows:I was invited to two production meetings. I had nofurther meetings with the director and was not askedto attend staging rehearsals. No one was interestedin anyone else’s part in the production. No one wasinterested in the whole. There were no meetings atwhich the artistic team shared ideas or sought tounify their concept of the work. Everyone went hisown way, appeared when required and disappeared whennot 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. The designersworked in a vacuum. (69)In my view, the COC’s failure to produce Wolfman toSchafer’s liking is indicative not of outrageous standards ofperfection the composer applies to productions of his work butof modern habits of producing theatre that Schafer does 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 currently accepted model of producing music theatre is no longer efficient.As a result, he tries changing it by transforming opera intoThe ilork of B. 1Iurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 187what he calls ‘coopera” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence36); that is, a production of one of his works should involveall participants (performers and non-performers alike) constructively in the process. Ideally, they should all care forthe result of the production and develop insights into howtheir individual part in the production contributes to the end-result. Such an understanding of the participants’ roles hintsat an underlying belief in a communal effort and a spirit ofteam work that Schafer would like to realize in a production ofhis works. We should not simply define this end-result as whatoccurs on stage. Rather, it entails all semiotic events partaking in the performance. Schechner, for instance, describesthe whole performance sequence as consisting of seven phases:training, workshops, rehearsals, warm-ups, performance, cool-down, and aftermath (Between Theatre and Anthropology 16-21).The communal effort and the team work, I think, circumscribe a notion of ritual that can be both secular, as in Wolf-man, and sacred, as in The Princess. The various rituals inthe Patria cycle thus appear as subtle explorations into an inclusive concept of ritual. The experiences that performers andspectators gain have the implicit task of instructing them 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postijiodern 188ner’s view, however, a strict separation of transportation per—formances (customarily called “theatre”) and transformationperformances (customarily called “ritual”) cannot be upheld.Using the example of a Papua New Guinea initiation ritual,Schechner points out that, while the boys as a result of thisritual are permanently transformed into men, the experiencedperformers who are trainers, guides, and co-performers are onlytemporarily transported. Likewise, the performances in Patriainclude a cross-section of transformation and transportation.The educational character of Schafer’s Patria cycle alsoaccounts for, or perhaps even explains, the allegorical modeSchafer uses. Allegory has always been used as a method of instruction. Seen in this way, The Princess recontextualizesWolfman with respect to another important feature, namely theallegorical. In his article “The Structure of AllegoricalDesire,” Joel Fineman writes:The dream-vision is, of course, a characteristicframing and opening device of allegory, a way ofsituating allegory in the mise en abyme opened up bythe variety of cognate accusatives that dream adream, or see a sight, or tell a tale. (47)How else could one better situate the setting of The Princesswith regard to the ensuing Wolfman than by viewing it as suchan opening dream-vision, a first glimpse at an uncommon sight,or else the beginning of a tale which leads us 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 189to be a “straightforward” allegory about the modern theme ofalienation. The Princess sets into motion a recontextualization that makes us see the broader, “cosmic” implications ofwhat is now Wolfman, a part of Patria.These implications (the ritualistic aspects of Wolfman)and the participants’ realization of them determine the degreeto which we can call Murray Schafer a reconstructive postmodernist. Indeed, his notion of “co-opera” seems to implementSuzi Gablik’s “participatory aesthetics” by involving all participants in the artistic event and also by going beyond aesthetics in re-structuring interpersonal relationships. In thisway, 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postlnoderil 192After having participated in the first production of TheGreatest Show in 1987, Schafer wrote an article to which he appended selected remarks by Italian Futurist Filippo TommasoMarinetti (1876-1944) on the “Variety Theatre.” I think it isSchafer’s intention to highlight a number of parallels betweenMarinetti’s theatre and the one presented in The Greatest Showby pointing to what they react against:I append some remarks . . . by T.F. Marinetti .with the hope that future performers of The GreatestShow might find them appropriate, for althoughMarinetti’s world and ours are widely separated, someof the ghosts he wished to expel remain the same.(Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 132)Marinetti aims his remarks primarily at the (traditional)passivity of audiences. Furthermore, he seeks to destroy inhis theatrethe Solemn, the Sacred, the Serious, and the Sublimein Art with a capital A. It cooperates withFuturistic destruction of immortal masterworks,plagiarizing them, parodying them, making them lookcommonplace by stripping them of their solemn apparatus 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 Patria 3undertakes. 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 generically and stylistiThe Work of li, Nurray Schafer A]]egories of the Postinodern 193cally.’’ Yet he is capable only of suggesting a broad andfuzzy outline of the work’s status: based upon “the model ofthe village fair . .. we produce a confection of 100atrocities; amusing, ironical, linked only in the head of thewandering visitor” (Introduction: 2-3).In a later article, Schafer is more specific:The Greatest Show aims to seduce its public byplundering ruthlessly from the past, by conjoiningbelly dancers with tragedians, slapstick with expressionism, vaudeville with opera, voodooism withpulpit and lectern demagogy. In fact this stylisticimpurity is the source of its attractiveness to amodern audience. (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 126)Schafer here links farcical genres and their performers to representatives of “high art” and a socio/political phenomenon.Belly dancing or the “cooch” was from 1893 on an integral partof burlesque shows touring North America;’2 slapstick, justlike farce and burlesque, denotes broad comedy based onboisterous humor; vaudeville was a late 19th century variationof the North American burlesque that appealed to 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). Patria 3 is divided into 11 categories. These categories have headings thatdescribe their setting. Schafer subdivides the categories further into “editing units” or rehearsal units, which he usesthroughout Patria. He describes them as follows: “Each editingunit has its own mood or situation, though some flow into oneanother and others are distinctly separate--like the scenes ofa conventional drama” (Patria 2 iii).12 See 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 195Schafer’s comments on the generic status of The GreatestShow emphasize the multi-disciplinary nature of the spectacleas well as a common denominator of its editing units, namelythe farce. The farce draws the various media together by dintof its extra-literary nature. In her compendium on the farce,Jessica Mimer Davis writes:From the correct reception of custard pies to theprecise machinery of a complex display of fireworksit is the physical skills of the actor, and thecorresponding visual imagination of the dramatist,which are at a premium. Verbal and literary artificeis simply overwhelmed by physical action in farce.(17)In other words, the visual imagination of the dramatist givesrise to an extra-literary level of meaning in farce, namely thephysical action. A similar relation of visual imagination toextra-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 Schafer Allegories of the Postaloderil 196ing the sets, he admonishes, “it is important to make use ofdifferent levels” (Introduction: 3). In his article on TheGreatest Show, he specifies that,ideally this activity [participating in a fair]should extend vertically as well as horizontally,which is why I added a tight-rope walker and Mr.Daedalus on stilts. I wanted spectators to gawk upwards at times and at others to search the ground forshadow-clues or unsuspected tricks and traps.(Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 126)Schafer’s visual imagination exhibits an isolating tendency byordering the fairground into vertical and horizontal levelsthat the audience can scrutinize separately. The elicited gestures of “gawk[ingj upwards” and “search[ing] the ground” aidthe spectators in arriving at an allegorical reading of TheGreatest Show because they lead to a re-ordering and possibledeciphering of enigmatic clues.’3In The Greatest Show, it appears that the dialogicalmulti-disciplinarity or “stylistic impurity” is linked toSchafer’s visual imagination as well as to the allegoricalmeaning. Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of carnival describes wellthis multi-disciplinarity. According to Bakhtin, the carnivalof the Renaissance filled the “low” genres, such as fabliau,farce, Cri de Paris, etc., with new life by exposing them to‘ 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 lies at 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 is difficult to contain in the critical act.The Work of I?. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 197the people’s languages rather than the “official” Latin (466).Furthermore, a vital expression of the “carnivalisticworldview” is profanation and parody of sacred texts (14-15).Carnival, Bakhtin contends, opposes established genres by exposing them to the laughter that is a key experience ofcarnival. This “culture of humour” combats the fear of thesacred and the hierarchically superior; it leads to a state ofliminality that reduces the distance and creates a certain familiarity between humans:All were considered equal during carnival. Here, inthe town square, a special form of free and familiarcontact reigned among people who were usually dividedby the barriers of caste, property, profession, andage. . . . People were, so to speak, reborn for new,purely human relations. These truly human relationswere not only a fruit of imagination or abstractthought; they were experienced. The utopian 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 at any given moment of The Greatest Show, Schafer may call on them to participate and perform. This ambiguity, Bakhtin says, is a definingfeature of carnival:Carnival does not know footlights, in the sense thatit does not acknowledge any distinction between actors 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 198Before, however, trying to decipher the allegory of TheGreatest Show, I want to scrutinize the process of reading allegorically.The Greek roots of the term “a11egory indicate that allegory speaks otherwise or speaks (of) anOther in public.’4Accordingly, an allegorical reading must gain access to thatOtherness and often does so to the detriment of a close scrutiny of the multi-layeredness of the allegorical Other. Inother words, at times it is tempting to define anOther narrowlyin order to succeed at the allegorical reading and arrive at acoherent secondary meaning of the work.In Schafer’s Patria cycle and especially in the aichemicalunit, the allegorical Other appears at first as the unconsciousthat emerges in terms of alchemy and especially e.G. Jung’s integration of the alchemical trope into his psychological systemof archetypes and a collective unconscious. It is easy toevoke powerful devices to implement a reading along theselines, but ultimately such a reading remains unsatisfactory forit does not address the essence of allegory.While such readings may reveal much about the internal intricacies of the Patria cycle with regard to its Jungian underpinnings, they contribute little if anything to a scrutinyof the epistomological status of allegory within the post‘ Fletcher 2. “Allegory” is a compound word of Greek“alios” (other, otherwise) and “agorein” (to speak in public orin the market).The Work of li. Murray Schafer Allegories of the Postifioderll 199modern. I maintain, however, that it is precisely the conjunction of allegory and the postmodern that must be explored withSchafer.Likewise, it was primarily the essence of (baroque) allegory that interested Walter Benjamin. Winfried Menninghauspoints out that Benjamin displayed an avowed disinterest insingle analyses of allegories:Benjamin “does not want . .. to know” about thesingular meanings of allegorical peculiarities ofbaroque poetry nor “whether they are more truthful,psychologically more profound, more excusable, have abetter form than in others.” He is, however, concerned with the doubtlessly extremely episternologicalquestion: “What are they [the allegories] themselves?What speaks from them? Why did they come about?”5One way of addressing these epistemological questions maybe 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 all kinds 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 200I would like to draw attention to that Otherness in TheGreatest Show. As his title indicates, Schafer is obsessedwith the superlative and hence his treatment of anOther alsoshows extreme tendencies.’6 Yet we should keep in mind that itis in the extreme that allegories reveal anOther most clearlybecause in the extreme occur the starkest oppositions.In the first editing unit of The Greatest Show, SamGaluppi, the circus barker, opens the show by praising itssynaesthetic qualities (“PATRIA 3: THE GREATEST SHOW / A FEASTFOR THE EARS, / THE EYES, THE NOSE / AND THE STOMACH?!) as wellas the entertainment value (“BUT HAVE NO FEAR / FOR I, SAMGALUPPI, / AM YOUR GUARANTEE / THAT THE SHOW WILL RUN / AS GOODCLEAN FUN” [A:3]). Before that can happen, however, the showneeds hero and heroine who “HOLD THE THREAD / TO GUIDE USTHROUGH THE LABYRINTH” (A:4), which is a hint at the AriadneTheseus myth, yet in such form that it is “we” the spectators,who are to be led through the labyrinth of The Greatest Showand that of the Patria cycle hitherto composed. The barkerthen picks two ‘volunteers’ from the audience who identifythemselves as “Ariadne” and “Wolfie.” At once, Galuppi16 As Stephen Adams point out, Schafer’s initial title wasThe Greatest Show on Earth but he had to shorten it because oflegal threats from Ringling Brothers, who have the phrase undercopyright (199). Reminders of Schafer’s intention can still befound in the program for The Greatest Show which is a “lurid-looking tabloid” called The Patriotic News Chronicle (see Introduction: 12-27). All references, and there are many, to TheGreatest Show appear in bold letters and give the initialtitle: The Greatest Show on Earth.The liork of R. Yurreiy Schafer Allegories of the Postnioderii 201proclaims that their individual mediocrity may add up to something more substantial: “WHAT A SPECTACULAR PAIR OF ORDINARYMORTALS!” (A:4) However, the modus operandi here is clearlytheir ordinariness, which is why Galuppi feels compelled toadd: “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 Wolfman volunteer for acts ofmagic to be performed by the show’s two magicians. The blackmagician leads Ariadne toa long box, above which are suspended three guillotines, one at the head, one at the feet and one inthe middle. . . . The first blade drops cutting offthe girl’s protruding feet. The second blade appearsto cut her in half, while the third cuts off herhead, which falls into a basket. (A:5)The white magician in turn leads Wolfmaninto an animal cage. A cloth is draped over the cageand it is slowly raised into the air. . . . When thecage has reached its position, the White Magicianfires a pistol and the curtain falls. The cage isempty. (A:5)A C major flourish from the orchestra indicates the apparentcompletion of these acts as well as an end of the danger to thevolunteers. Here, however, something goes wrong and Galuppibreathlessly 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 their acts. ButAriadne’s other body parts will also appear throughout theshow.The .4ork of B. :1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 202The dissemination of Ariadne’s corporeal presence throughthe sliced-off fragments of her body is a key issue in TheGreatest Show, just as the many traces of Wolfman’s absenceare. Both issues engage the spectators in an immediate mannerin the fate of these characters. More than that, Schafer encourages the spectators to consider Ariadne and Wolfman as morethan mere individual characters because they are “heroine” and“hero” of the show. However, the spectators’ personal attitudes either subvert or confirm Ariadne’s and Wolfinan’s heroismwhen it turns out that these “heroes” are rejects of a societythey themselves do not understand.’7Time and again in the course of the evening’s “entertainment” the spectators will come across editing units that focusattention on the issue of violence against women. Let me givean example:In “The Princess of Parallelograms,” Schafer presentsAriadne’s sliced body:Among the distinguished portraits of heroes andheroines is a wall sculpture or bas-relief of thefragments of a woman. It is as if her body has beenput through a meat slicer and the slices have thenbeen arranged side by side, slightly out of phasewith one another. The relationship with the vivisection of Ariadne in Editing Unit Al should be neithertoo pronounced nor too ignored. (D:21)This editing unit focusses on the concrete violence thatAriadne has to undergo in order to enter the signifying‘ One should keep in mind that both Wolfman and Ariadneend their lives--or, at least, contemplate ending their lives--in Patria 1 & 2 respectively by committing suicide.The tiork of R. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postrnodern 203process. In contrast, the exhibition associated with Wolfmanin the same category, “Memorabilia Gallery--Souvenirs of OurHero,” represents Wolfman by assembling some of his personalbelongings:The cases contain relics and clothes: our hero’sboots, his military jacket, his pipe, his glass eyeand fake moustache, etc. Also on display are severalbeautifully written but quite illegible documents:his immigration papers, an old passport and perhaps alove letter to Ariadne. From his childhood arecoloured pencil set, his wolf tail and rubber ducky.(D: 19)In this way, Schafer also subjects Wolfman to violence, but only to the abstract violence of a system of representation.Schafer structures Wolfman’s memorabilia gallery paratactically; that is, the items are displayed side by side ostensiblywithout any order. The structure of Wolfman’s exhibit can beseen as based on selection, which according to Roman Jakobson’scontention of the twofold character of language gives rise tometaphor and tends towards allegory. Ariadne’s display,however, can be seen to be based on combination, giving rise tometonymy and tending towards symbolism. A decisive differencebetween the respective forms of violence is that Wolfman signifies through absence, while Ariadne signifies by means of herfragmented presence. Not being able to 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 fragmented presenceitsCDVSII10WI‘-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•Id.it“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 Schafer Allegories of the ?ostioders 205Ron Muck produces a butcher’s knife and the 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,” which was the title of a socialprogram of the Third Reich that enabled workers to relax instate-owned spas. This historical connotation contradicts theupbeat message the slogan as such attempts to communicate because it draws attention to the underlying ideology. Withregard to the violence, the men’s “singing lustily” sets up astrange contrast to the gory scene one has Just witnessed.Such farcical elements also appear in other editing units’8 sothat they may be seen as constituting a loosely connectedparodical subtext to the theme of violence against women in flGreatest Show. Their effect with regard to violence againstwomen 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 a18 See “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 Schafer Allegories of the Postisodern 206double assault, Schafer’s strategy may well be deemedchauvinistic, if not misogynistic.The double-structure of these farcical elements helps tocreate another aspect of the allegorical structure that most ofThe Greatest Show adheres to. In these instances the allegorical doubleness of intention, as Fletcher calls it, turns intofarce because one of the two structures questions anddiminishes the other one.In an editing unit entitled “Little Araby,” Schafer linksthe violence against women to an erotic/pornographic spectacle.Ariadne’s feet reappear in “Little Araby” in which a malebarker presents a belly-dancer:ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH, THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE,FOR HE HAS BROUGHT THE STOLEN FEET OF A PRINCESSWHOSE VERY LIMBS WERE BORROWED FOR THIS EVENING’S DEMONSTRATION. (C:33)Little Araby will be performing a belly dance on her borrowedfeet.’9 The title of the unit, the belly dancing, and the set1--nor rf fh f’ri-ir Q1iccccf fhf cr’hfr haQ hid “1 ff1 i.rchT’on the erotic/pornographic spectacle that found its way as“cooch” or “hootchy-kootchy” into North American burlesqueshows at the end of the 19th century. This background is important in order to understand why I treat “Little Araby” as afurther instance of violence against women.19 Alternatively, she may perform Schafer’s Tantrika, acomposition for singer and four percussionists (see C:33).This work is published separately and has not been available tomThe liork of B. forray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 207Let me briefly outline the history of the cooch: TheChicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was intended tointroduce the American public to the science of anthropology.To accomplish that feat, the exposition 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, one could compare that culture withothers from around the world. All exhibits were ordered according to an evolutionary hierarchy of racial progress so thatthe Black African and native Indian exhibits were farthestremoved from White City. One of the exhibits in MidwayPlaisance was called the “Streets of Cairo” and featured bellydancing as one of its attractions. The Chicago Fair in thisway banished the naked female body from White City by carefullyconcealing it from the probing eye of the visitors whilesimultaneously displaying it in the “popular” side of the fairby 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 in20 Charles 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 Allegories of the Postiiiodern 208his quest for spiritual perfection. Still, the belly-dancerconstituted no real threat because she appeared as the exotic,ethnological Other:The belly dancer was another kind of woman, whose expressive sexuality tantalized but whose power wascontained and distanced by her exotic otherness.(228)And it is as an exotic Other that the belly dancer gained access to the burlesque shortly after the Chicago Fair. Standardnames for belly dancers in the burlesque were Fatima, Omeena,or Little Egypt (232).In the aftermath of the Chicago Fair, the “Cooch”developed quickly into the precursor of strip-tease, whichemerged in the mid-1920s. Allen links this development to the“cooch’s” presence at fairs:Such was the competition among the tents along theMidway Plaisance that barkers hectored passersby inan attempt to entice them inside to see the “realstuff,” each promising a more revealing show. (230)Little Araby’s barker similarly blusters at his potentialcustomers:WATCH NOW AS SHE RISES TO THE TIPTOES OF HER BORROWEDFEET TO GIVE YOU A FORETASTE OF WHAT IS TO COME.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 IN A 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 talking in thisact. He praises the eroticism of Little Araby’s body anddance. His attitude towards Little Araby helps to clarify theThe liork of R. Alurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 209qualitative position the dancer holds in this spectacle, namelythat of the appropriated and dominated Other of the masculinegaze, for Sigismundo clearly stresses that she is dancing forthe spectator and not, for instance, in order to present a workof art or to indulge herself. In this way, he refers to thespectacle as a demonstration, not a presentation, thus indicating that Little Araby’s body is to be shown to the spectators.As a result, any kind of self-awareness, which would indeed indicate either a taking control or else an active part forLittle Araby, escapes her altogether. Furthermore, he addresses the spectators no less than six times in order to pointout that the spectacle takes place only to please him.In relation to her male spectators, Little Araby’s position is less an erotic than a pornographic one.21 The gaze is21 The 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 the masculine 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 that establishes her as a subject, we are dealing with eroticism. In hisessay Between Clothing and Nudity,” Mario Perniola provides anexample of how a striptease dancer can assume the position of 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 is usuallyone-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 Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 210either that of the barker who describes her to the passersby,or it is that of the spectators who finally enter the tent because they feel enticed by both the barker’s words and the display of Little Araby and the implicit promise of even more tocome in the secrecy of the tent. One should take note that themasculine gaze necessarily fragments anOther because it takesinto account only that fraction of Little Araby which can beeasily dominated and appropriated, namely her outer appearance 2 2Little Araby’s “exhibition is structured around the tension between her similarity to ‘ordinary’ women the maleaudience member sees and knows outside the tent and her fascinating otherness produced by her expressive and displayedsexuality” (Allen 235). As a consequence, Ariadne’s feet assume their role in an act that turns them into extensions ofLittle Araby’s body and the erotic/pornographic spectacle shedemonstrates. The belly dancer in “Little Araby” as in theburlesque shows of days gone is silent. Any subversivenessthat once may have been part of the burlesque around the 1870swas lost when female performers were silenced by a patriarchaltakeover of the genre (Allen, conclusion passim). The only22 Allen demonstrates the peculiar lengths to which themasculine gaze can go in an example that also shows how thatgaze tends to fragment its object for further study: “At oneshow . . . several regular marks [an insider term for theaudience members of strip-tease shows] brought flashlights withthem. These they used in businesslike fashion in order to examine, clinically and under laboratory conditions, what they‘couldn’t see at home’” (236, emphasis added).The tiork of R. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postmoderii 211traces of subversion in “Little Araby” are the discursivetraces of the violence done to Ariadne. Yet because LittleAraby remains silent throughout the spectacle, these discursivetraces remain confined to the barker’s discourse and cannotenter the realm of the erotic/pornographic spectacle of thetent.In the confusion after the opening act, Four Vaudevilliansperform a “little pantomime” around the box in which Ariadnewas guillotined (A:7). Then they carry that box about thefairground chanting “KEEP THE BODIES WHOLE” (A:7). In “Lazzi,”the assemblage of the box and the Four Vaudevillians resemblesan emblem. The inscription of the emblem could be seen in theletter “A” painted on the coffin (B:2). This letterreiterates, by virtue of being a metonymy, what the editingunit presents visually and what the Vaudevillians’ chant proffers as an interpretive quasi-subscription to the emblem, namely that Ariadne has not been whole for a long time and that shewould be better off as a whole person.The box or coffin acquires qualities of a banner becausein the finale all women on stage band together and demand fromthe magicians: “MAKE THE BODY WHOLE!” In a similar response toan emblem pertaining to Wolfman, all men form a group demanding“BRING BACK THE HERO” (A: 41).In his study of the allegorical mode, Angus Fletcher describes the banner as an example of an isolated emblem that inhis view epitomizes allegorical imagery:The 1ork of I?, Xurra,v Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 212When the allegorical author wishes to strike an immediate emblematic effect, he is likely to use something like ‘a banner with a strange device’ [because]the effect is often militant. Banners suggest .one’s allegiance to a system of political or religious faith. (94)In this way, a banner tends to reveal a hidden power. In histheoretical account of allegory, Fletcher suggests that thispower divides the world into separate elements for furtherstudy and control.23 In The Greatest Show, however, Schafer’salchemical trope embodies this power; it encodes the spectacleallegorically and provides it with an exegetical level of contemplation.In her discussion of allegory, Gayatri Spivak makes an important observation with regard to theories of the unconsciousand their function in literature:One has often remarked that, today, the humanpsychoanalytical model and Jung’s theory of archetypes are attempts to instill a real, independentsystem of significations on which literature hasbased itself regarding the matter of traditional allegories, in such a way that the theories are mattersof belief.24Spivak focuses our attention on an allegorical trait thatFletcher only hints at (“one’s allegiance to a system of23 Fletcher speaks of the “daemonic power” (Fletcher passim)24 “On a souvent note que le modèle psychanalytique de lapersonne humaine, et la théorie jungienne des archétypes, sont,A notre époque, des efforts pour instaurer un veritable systèmeautonome de significations sur lequel la littérature a pris appui, A la matière des allegories traditionelles, du fait mêmeque ces theories sont matière A croyance” (“Allegorie ethistoire” 440)The Iork of I?. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postaiodern 213political or religious faith”) and that Schafer exploits in hisPatria cycle. As a matter of course, Schafer reuses andreplaces belief systems that have traditionally formed independent signifying systems in allegories. In this way, hereuses and refashions the alchemical trope in such a way thatit replaces the Christian system by offering alternatives tosuch Christian metaphors as redemption and sacrifice. Schaferleaves the teleology of these metaphors intact; that is,redemption as such is not questioned, since Patria still envisions the successful chemical wedding in the alchemical unitand the end of Wolf’s quest in the epilogue. Watson, on theother hand, attacks the teleology of some Christian metaphors(redemption and last judgments) but one metaphor in particularhe leaves intact, that of original sin.Schafer also integrates Wolfman into an emblem, namely in“Timor Mortis Me Conturbat,” in which “the visitor encountersthe outline of a sprawling man on the ground on which has beenpainted in white the numeral 1” (E:16). Schafer also assignsthe numeral “1” to Wolfman in The Characteristics Man.25 Inits emblematic structure, this editing unit resembles “Lazzi.”The similarities are the metonymical inscription (here “1”painted within the outline, there “A” on the coffin) as well asthe interpretive quasi-subscription (here the sign “NO FURTHEREARTHLING” situated above the “bloody handprints [that] climb25 See Patria 1, editing units 1 & 3, pp. 2 & 4.The Work of B. (urray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 214up a wall about two metres then stop” [E:16]), which seems tosay that all of Wolfman’s striving beyond a certain point is invain unless a higher power supports him. Yet a phoenix-like“beautiful bird” also supports Wolfman’s striving. A number ofwires connects the silhouette to the bird thus suggesting thatWolfman can and will be resurrected from his ashes.In “Representing Writing: The Emblem as (Hiero)glyph,”Richard Cavell describes the emblem as resisting interpretiveclosure. With reference to Derrida’s notion of dissemination,Cavell states:The emblem can be seen . . . as a hybrid structureconsisting in a chain of meanings which can extendindefinitely, one sign leading on to the next one.(168)In “Lazzi” and “Timor Mortis Me Conturbat,” the emblematicstructure also partakes in that disseminating process. On theone hand, some elements lead to a “chain of meanings” (such asthe letter “A” in “Lazzi” and the numeral “1” in “Timor”),while on the other hand other elements merely lead to a chainof ambiguities or traces of meanings that themselves remainenigmatic. An example would be the doubled spectacles in thecoffin of “Lazzi.” They refer to Patria 2 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 the true cognoscenti ofSchaferiana discern; every detail seems to comment on otherThe Work of R, Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 21Selements of Patria. However, because of the skits that theFour Vaudevillians perform around the coffin, the editing unitmay still entertain those spectators who do not grasp the hidden meanings. They would probably note the outlandishness ofthe props, but not see more in them than a satiric backdrop tothe skits. All in all, the pundits will engage in exegesis,while others merely perceive the literal level.That we can perceive these editing units on two levelsmerely confirms their allegorical mode. Fletcher says:The whole point of allegory is that it does not needto be read exegetically; it often has a literal levelthat makes good enough sense all by itself. (7)Yet Fletcher also describes the “hierarchical matrix . . . [towhich] the allegorical author must inevitably turn” (239)--amatrix that suggests that the hidden level is superior to theliteral one. The Greatest Show, however, mocks this hierarchyand provides general access to the privileged meanings by including a number of editing units that give exegetical explanations such as the lecture on The Greatest Show by the “notedcomposer and author R.M. Schafer.”26 Furthermore, the26 See editing unit 13. In the Peterborough Festival ofthe Arts production of The Greatest Show in 1987, Schaferplayed himself. The manner in which Schafer is introduced aswell as his outward look seems to be a mild ironical spoof onsome of the author’s eccentricities: “Madame Shelora Guidobaldodel Monte provides an effusive introduction to the noted composer and author R.M. Schafer. For once his pants are pressed.He wears a Tibetan jacket and looks like the aging doyen ofsome East-West cult of marginal credibility. He reads the‘Parabasis’ [from the “Introduction”] calmly and without looking at the audience” (1:27).The Work of R. Hiirray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodere 216University Theatre in which the lecture takes place--unlike theother tent theatres--does not require an entrance pass--it isopen to everyone who chooses to enter.Ariadne’s arms in “Lazzi” blend in with the other elementsto form the emblematic structure of the editing unit. Oneshould note, however, that the “long box” (A:5) has become a“coffin” (B:7); the presence of Ariadne’s arms can be seen as asign--however disseminated it may be in its context--ofAriadne’s violent death. Ariadne’s death then emerges as agrave subtext to this editing unit. One of the underlyingtexts that points to a Jungian interpretive system is the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead that also provides the mythicalplot for Patria 6: Ra. In The Greatest Show, however, thistext is not at the centre although it still contributes hereand there to a feasible and systematic allegoresis of the show.The Book of the Dead also serves as one of the subtexts in“Lazzi.” This relation becomes clear when we look at Marie-Louise von Franz’s comment on the Book of the Dead:One of the great motifs of the Book of the Dead inEgypt is that the dead are dismembered, as wasOsiris, and must therefore be reassembled before theycan resurrect [sic]; they must be put together againso as to be able to rise from the underworld. (72)Likewise, Ariadne in The Greatest Show is dismembered and according to the aichemical trope in its Jungian interpretationmust be reassembled before returning to the living. All theinstances of Ariadne’s severed body parts in various editingunits would represent her voyage through the underworld.The Work of R. Hurray Schafer Aiiegories of the Postinodern 217At the end of the opening act, “the accordionist, GiuseppeMacerollo, sneaks onto the Odditorium stage and furtively carries off the head of Ariadne (the girl)” (A:6). What he doeswith the head becomes clear in one of the editing units of thecategory entitled “Set Pieces.” Schafer describes them as follows:This section includes pieces requiring a set environment: booth, tent, soapbox, or minitheatre. Some ofthe pieces are performed continuously and some areperformed intermittently. (C:l)Schafer describes the “set environment” of “La TestaD’Adriane” meticulously in the full score which is publishedseparately (as are most of the editing units’ scores). Thecentre of this act is the bodiless head propped up on a desk ina booth. This desk is to be carefully constructed so that itaccomplishes the illusion of a severed head:The work depends on the effective execution of amagician’s trick. In reality the singer is seated 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 to be the backwall. (“La Testa” 66)Walter Benjamin describes what could be seen as a modelfor “La Testa.” He recounts the development of the feast ofthe dead, the Todtenmahlzeit, in which a duke takes revenge onhis opponents by beheading them and subsequently arranging theheads on a table as though they were a feast. At first, thisspectacle is only recounted in the baroque plays Benjamin isconsidering, but gradually it finds its way onto the stage too,The Work of R. Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 218namely by using an “Italian trick”; that is, one cuts holes into the surface of the table and conceals the actor’s bodies behind the protruding table-cloth. Benjamin says that the allegorist takes the “soul” from the corpses of the duke’s vic—tims by not allowing them to signify for themselves and makingthem attest allegorically to the cruelty of the duke. According to Benjamin, these feasts and other displays of corpses inbaroque drama tie in with a more general allegorical feature ofobjects that have to give up their own meaning in order tofunction in an allegorical way. Benjamin thinks this step isone of devaluation (195). A similar devaluation is at work inevery allegoresis because it disregards and hence devalues theliteral meaning of an object in order to arrive at an allegorical reading. In “La Testa,” we find a devaluation of Ariadne’shead. We have to take a closer look at the editing unit in order to read Ariadne’s head allegorically.Still outside the tent, the accordionist, who is also thebarker of his act, tries to lure passers-by into stopping athis booth to follow his presentation. His name, GiuseppeMacerollo,27 denotes that he is Italian (or at least of Italiandescent)--a fact that might also be responsible for the27 The name of the accordionist is inspired by the Torontoaccordionist to whom Schafer dedicated “La Testa,” JosephMacerolo. Macerolo performed this role in the PeterboroughFestival of the Arts production in 1987.The ilork of R. Murray Schafer A]]egories of the Postinoo’ern 219metathesis28 from Ariadne to Adriane. Once inside 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 STIRS HER. / BUT SHE CAN BEAWAKENED. / MUSIC . . . MUSIC TOUCHES HER DISTANT SOUL / ANDDRAWS IT BACK TO THE LIVING WORLD” (C:12). So he plays and sheawakens.What follows is a composition for voice and accordion thatuses a whole range of vocal sounds which found their way intovocal compositions only in the avant-garde movements of thetwentieth century.29 In conjunction with the accordion, an instrument usually given to neither new nor “serious” music, thecomposition as a whole can be seen to store the repressedothers of traditional, “serious” music.3° The sort of popularand “hammy”3’ music of the introduction, which seems 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. That is28 In an interview on The Greatest Show, Schafer uses themathematical term “permutation” to describe what is properly alinguistic metathesis (“Schafer on The Greatest Show” 37).29 See Anhalt ch. 5.30 By 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.31 This term is Schafer’s. He used it in an interview on“La Testa” to talk about the character of the introduction,which he sees as a parody on the music of two popular Canadiancomposers.The Work of R. Yurray Schafer Allegories of the Postiodern 220to say, an analysis must also take into account the circumstances of the setting as well as the function of the piece.Thus, all the distractions of the fairground, be they visual oracoustic, have an impact on this music because it must defendits own importance against these ubiquitous distractions.32“La Testa” mounts a defense against the soundscape of the fairground by choosing the farcical and the popular as a medium ofrepresentation.What Adriane’s head is uttering gives expression to theother of communicative speech, namely sounds that do not yetcombine the phoneme and the concept in a communicable meaning.In following Jakobsen, Anhalt compares the sounds uttered in“La Testa” to the “sounds produced by young children in thevarious stages of language acquisition” (197). The soprano ut32 All of these distractions once were an integral part ofmost musical performances. For instance, it is only sinceRichard Wagner’s initiative that audiences listen attentivelyto all the music in an opera and not only to the “highlights”while talking through the rest. In this context, Schafer’s admission that his composition for string quartet and soprano“Beauty and the Beast” does not integrate well into the settingof the fair reveals the difficulties of composing for an “unknown” soundscape: “It may be . . . that a work like Beauty andthe Beast (1980) is too refined for presentation in a tentwhere the cascade of noises from without too frequently coversits delicate dynamic tremblings” (Patria and the Theatre ofConfluence 130). Schafer composed Beauty and the Beast at anearly stage of The Greatest Show, when he was not yet familiarwith the soundscape of a fair. He explains that in thatsoundscape “the dynamic of the music is a function of the distance between performer and listener, rather than expression ofemotion or sentiment. Music is loud when present, and softwhen it goes away” (129). Schafer had first to unlearn thewestern thinking about dynamics in order to learn composing forthe soundscape of a fairground.The Work of B. Burray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 221ters phonemes that do not communicate an encoded message as human speech usually does. What the audience hears instead arefragments of such messages, but only those fragments that arerarely capable of carrying an encoded message on their own.There are exceptions, such as “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” (“La Testa”71) or some giggles (72). Yet these exceptions, while communicating a certain content, remain at the same time non-communicative in that they do not add up to an overall meaning;thus they raise more questions than they answer.Schafer thus fragments the message--if indeed there isone--of Adriane’s utterances. As a result, we end up with astring of loosely connected phonemes. Schafer occasionallyconnects the sounds that apparently only communicate themselvesto facial expressions and gestures of the severed head. 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 with her eyes closingtoward the climax and then opening again. One is tempted toread the phonemes here as “no” or “non” and the gestures assupporting such a reading in expressing a certain fear, perhapsof a traumatic event of the past, such as her beheading. Yetthe remaining composition does not provide any further clue asto the nature of that traumatic event. Schafer leaves thespectators guessing, and the signified remains ultimately 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 Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 222Wolfman and Ariadne, have many connotations in folklore andmythology, respectively. The wolf, of course, is one of themost fabled creatures in Northern folklore, while Ariadne isone of the prominent human characters in Greek mythology. Together, these connotations add an entire set of expectationsand preconceptions to the ones the spectators bring to performances of Patria and The Greatest Show and in this way “prepare”the spectators to read allegorically and to look beyond theliteral significance of the protagonists. Furthermore, Schaferincludes a number of variations of the name Ariadne in variousacts of The Greatest Show. Examples are Adriane, Arania (B8)and Aryanee (C18). These variations constitute a dismembermentof Ariadne’s name that corresponds to the dismemberment of herbody. Ariadne again signifies through presenting parts of herself rather than being re-presented in some way or other.The subversive nature of farce can be seen in anotherediting unit, “Mummery.” Bold Slasher pursues Lucy van Triste.Lucy claims that he intends to murder her, while Bold Slasherwants to sacrifice her to the rain god so that it will not rainon The Greatest Show. During the pursuit, however, Lucy addresses the audience: “(Aside to the customers.) I GO THROUGHTHIS EVERY NIGHT YOU KNOW, JUST SO YOU WON’T GET PEED ON”(B:34). When it comes to the murder/sacrifice something unexpected happens:BOLD SLASHER. NOW, HEAD ON THE BLOCK.Lucy kneels and extends her neck on a large blockof wood. Bold Slasher steps aside to sharpen hisknife. When he turns back, he sees that Lucy isThe h1ork of R. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postriodera 223now standing tiptoe on the block under a largeparasol.BOLD SLASHER. WHERE ARE YOU?LUCY VAN TRISTE. I’M IN HEAVEN.BOLD SLASHER. BUT I HAVEN’T KILLED YOU YET.LUCY VAN TRISTE. I DECIDED TO SKIP THE DETAILS.BOLD SLASHER. YOU CAN’T GO TO HEAVEN BEFORE YOU DIE.LUCY VAN TRISTE. AN ABSURDLY HUMAN NOTION THATHEAVEN CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED AFTER DEATH. I ASSUREYOU I’M HERE AND IT’S QUITE DIVINE. (B:35)By avoiding in this way the concrete violence, Lucy on the onehand draws attention to the theatrical nature of the act, whileon the other, she ironically questions whether the concreteviolence against women is necessary in order to achieve signification. The “details” here would make Lucy van Triste’sfate more comparable to Ariadne’s because Bold Slasher intendsto kill her by cutting off her head. By not entering the signifying process through fragmentation, Lucy van Triste pointsto an alternative, namely, that anOther can also signify bymeans of solidarity between performers and spectators. Thus atthe end, van Triste again addresses the audience:AND SINCE IT IS ALL IN THE SPIRIT OF FUN, LET’S PUTBOLD SLASHER HERE ON THE RUN. JOIN MY HAND AND CHASEHIM AWAY, SO WE CAN PLAY. (B:36)The “SPIRIT OF FUN,” then, seems to be the key to achievingthis alternative. It equals a carnivalesque upheaval in whichthe actor breaks the theatrical convention of playing a role insuch a way that she is avoiding the character’s prescribedfate, while also including the audience in the theatricalworld.While parading Ariadne’s coffin through the fairground,the Four Vaudevillians perform intermittently a tragic farceThe Work of I?. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postraoderii 224entitled “Looking.” The underlying notion of the absurd in“Looking” leads me to compare it to the theatre of the absurdas Esslin described it. Eugene lonesco, who coined the term“farce tragique” in the subtitle to his play Les Chaises(1952), and Samuel Beckett brought farce and tragedy together.Their familiar formula was to undercut the farcical by makingthe characters of their plays tragically self-aware of theirhopeless existential situation. A formal means for achievingthis is the interruption of action and dialogue by frequentsilences that prevent continuous laughter and give rise to anironic subtext. This subtext directs the play towards an anticlimax that frustrates the audience’s relief at the expectedfarcical apex and leads to a self-conscious laughter. We findsimilar strategies in “Looking.” Conveying a sense of directionlessness, the action and dialogue appear hesitant andrepetitive throughout. Frequent pauses also interrupt the action and dialogue. I quote at length from the beginning of“Looking” to convey the qualities of the dialogue:FIRST. AH, HERE YOU ARE.SECOND. YES, HERE I AM.FIRST. SOMEHOW, I KNEW YOU’D BE 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 TIME DO 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 Schafer Allegories 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’T TAKE LONG.FIRST. NO IT SHOULDN’T.SECOND. ONCE WE GET STARTED.FIRST. ONCE WE GET STARTED.SECOND. READY THEN?FIRST. READY.Pause (B:13-14)Beckett’s Waiting For Godot (1954) bearing the genericsubtitle “a tragicomedy is perhaps the best known tragic farceof the 20th century. In “Looking,” one finds a short spielthat ironically diminishes the existential seriousness of theact of waiting implied in Beckett’s play. Schafer achievesthis diminishment by capitalizing on the comic confusion deriving from the different meanings of the different prepositionalexpressions (“wait for” and “wait on”). Furthermore, heemphasizes not the act of waiting itself but the 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 WAITING HERE.SECOND. IF YOU HAVE TO WAIT, IT MIGHT AS WELL BE INThe k’ork of R. Norray Schafer Allegories of the Postmoderii 226THE RIGHT PLACE.THIRD. THERE ARE RIGHT PLACES AND WRONG PLACES.FIRST. THE WORLD IS FULL OF THEM.FOURTH. I’LL TRY TO BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE.The Fourth Vaudevillian looks around for a placeand then stands there. (B:l7)While thus pointlessly, it seems, chatting and waiting, theFour Vaudevillians are looking at the ones who are looking atthem and present themselves as a mirror image of the spectators. At the meeting of the Vaudevillians’ and the spectators’ gazes, the sketch proffers another level of perceptionand becomes allegorical and didactic because the absurdity ofthe tragic farce mirrors the absurdity of the spectators’ efforts to make sense of the experience of the village fair. Thesketch thus intensifies the self-consciousness of the spectators and of their efforts to arrange their experiences into acoherent mental image.33 The glitter and promised excitementof the fairground incite the spectators as 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.33 The spectators’ efforts are based upon a mirror imageand are reminiscent of Jacques Lacan’s notion that seeing acoherent mirror image of ourselves prompts us to enter into thesignifying triangle of representation/domination. I suggestthat what is happening to the spectators in “Looking” can beseen as analogous to Lacan’s notion. By looking at a coherentrepresentation of themselves, the spectators are able to form acoherent mental image of themselves. Then they can take thatimage as a starting point from which to branch out in order tounderstand (or dominate) other “chaotic” events of the show.The tork of B. ‘forray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 227The First and Second Vaudevillians look out. TheThird begins to look too, then despairs.THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING.The First and Second Vaudevillian continue tolook.THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING.FIRST. ImpatientlyYOU WON’T SEE ANYTHING IF YOU CHATTER ALL THETIME.THIRD. BUT YOU HAVEN’T TOLD ME WHAT WE’RE LOOKINGFOR.SECOND. YOU OUGHT TO KNOW. (B:14-15)All actions in “Looking” are initially questioned andremain ultimately unmotivated and suspended in inaction. Atthe fair, everyone realizes sooner or later that there is nothing to be found. As Schafer says:Here was a very special ritual--completely without asense of striving, and promising no rewards. Youwandered about amused and amazed, never sure whetheryou were there to be entertained or entertaining. . . . The fair conformed perfectly to the rulesof capitalism and democracy: it tossed everyone intothe limelight for two minutes and charged for thethrill. (Introduction:2)The “thrill” is the satisfying climax of the 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 reach that climax,the Four Vaudevillians (as well as the spectators of the fair)may attain at first some inside knowledge through criticalreflection and insight, or they may per chance run into someonewho reluctantly reveals to them such knowledge, as is the casewith the Vaudevillians:FOURTH. DOES THE PERSON WE’RE LOOKING FOR HAVE ANAME?SECOND. OF COURSE. EVERYBODY HAS A NAME.THIRD. THEN WHAT’S THE NAME?The k1ork of B. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 228The Second Vaudevillian turns away, pauses, thenblurts out quickly.SECOND. WOLFMAN. (B:19)What the Vaudevillians learn, the audience learns becausethe former are the mirror image of the latter. But Schaferreserves the climax for the privileged few who happen to belucky enough to be in the right place at the right time:They form themselves into a square, back to back andlook out again. . . . The square rotates. .They continue looking. The Fourth Vaudevillian evidently sees someone. She begins to smile, waves,blows a kiss. Then the square rotates again and sheloses sight. (B:20-21, stage direction)But even this climax disintegrates because one does not knowwhat happened and if it happened at all. The ensuing conversation throws the spectators back to square one, as it were, because, when rigorously questioned, the Fourth Vaudevilliandenies having seen anything. The allegory of this editing unitthus tells the spectators that they are in the same position asthe absurd Vaudevillians and that they must begin looking forthe vanished Wolfman. Finally, the assemblage of the Vaudevilhans dissolves the same way as it came about; they leave oneby one, just like the audience will disperse once the fair isover.“Looking” also demonstrates how the audience reaches anoutsider’s perspective on their own position, namely by presenting a mirror image to the audience. Through allegory anddidacticism, the audience gradually comes to understand theirown liminahity.The Work of A’. urray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 229In other acts related to the absent Wolfman, Schaferprovides parts of Wolfman’s story as it has hitherto emerged inthe Patria cycle. For instance, in “The Characteristics Man,”a character named Rodney Livermash Bashford observes “ANOTHERWORLD--THE ONE THAT MOVES JUST AN INSTANT OUT OF PHASE WITHTHIS ONE” (D:12) where he observes a production of The Characteristics Man and provides a scene-by-scene plot summary toeveryone who happens to be near him. Under another pretext,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 possessions or representations ofhim that trigger these descriptions and “stories,” whileAriadne must proffer her body parts to relate something.Not only does the opening act of The Greatest Show set thestage for the spectacle to follow, but it also initializes anallegorical discourse on gender relations. As this discourseprogresses through The Greatest Show, we see how time and againSchafer assaults Ariadne and forces her--and with her thefeminine--into signifying through a fragmented presence thatnonetheless confirms her silence, while he permits Wolfman--andwith him the masculine--to signify through absence that isstill capable of speaking (of) his fate. With regard toAriadne’s fragmented body, one should take into account the allegorical tradition that tried to dispose of the suspicioussensuality of the body by integrating it as corpse into the emblem.The Work of B. turray Schafer Aiiegories of the Postmodern 230In his treatise on baroque allegory, Walter Benjaminpoints to this emblematical trait:And because the fear of demons made the suspiciouscorporeality appear especially confining, one approached as early as in the medieval ages its emblematical normalization. . . . Only when in deaththe spirit becomes spiritually free, does the bodyachieve its highest right. Because it is self-evident: the allegorization of the physique can onlysucceed energetically with the corpse.34Ariadne’s body too attains its right only in death. As Benjamin reminds us, from the perspective of death, producing thecorpse is life itself, for dead matter leaves the body piece bypiece in the natural processes of decay, defecation and cleansing (194). However, Ariadne’s corpse (and what remains of itscattered through The Greatest Show) is not the result of natural processes but of acts of violence. Both that violence--which recurs in various guises and is always a violence againstwomen--and the integration of some of Ariadne’s corporeal fragments in emblematic structures demonstrate certain aspects ofthe signifying process to which Ariadne must adhere in order tosignify at all. For once she is able to signify as woman, butshe has to pay a high price to do so: she must suffer mutila“Und weil durch die Dämonenangst die verdachtigeLeiblichkeit ganz besonders bekiemmend erscheinen muf3, so istman schon im Mittelalter radikal an ihre emblematische Bewältigung gegangen. . . . Wenn dann im Tode der Geist aufGeisterweise frei wird, so kommt auch nun der Korper erst zuseinem höchsten Recht. Denn von selbst versteht sich: die Allegorisierung der Physis kann nur an der Leiche sich energischdurchsetzen” (193, 197).The It’ork of R. furray Schafer A]]egories of the Postmodern 231tion at the hands of male characters. Her remains speak of theviolence she had to undergo to signify in the first place.At this point, let me broaden my discussion of the issuesof gender and power in order to prepare for an evaluation ofSchafer’s allegorical method as it emerges in The GreatestShow.The concrete violence directed against Ariadne does notpermit an allegorical doubleness because the literal here isessentially mimetic: countless women in contemporary societyobtain restraining orders from the law courts to hold abusive(ex-)boyfriends and (ex-)husbands in check. Yet to society,these women become only significant when they make headlines asvictims: murdered or mutilated or raped. Once they signify inthat manner, the only issue seems to be the violence, not thecircumstances that led to it in the first place. The discourseabout such cases in this way often re-subordinates the victimsof violence to the masculine gaze, which objectifies abusedwomen into yet another spectacle to be scrutinized for perversepleasure. Analogous to that pleasure--derived as much from thespectacle as from the power it has over women--is the re-subordination of the acts dealing with Ariadne’s body parts undermale barkers who present them to the audience. Thus Schaferagain restricts her power of signification as woman by reintegrating it into a structure of discourse in which man speaksfor woman. Any other message she might have had is lost due tothis authorized restriction that compels her to tell only onething, namely that she was violated but not by whom or why.The Work of R. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 232Wolfman’s absence, on the other hand, indicates a signifying process that is based on an entirely different economy.Wolfman is able to direct allegorically the recipient’s effortsto construct a narrative that represents his previous existenceas it emerged in Patria. Moreover, Schafer integrates Wolfmanin a different manner into emblematic structures. These differences signal a pattern of gender difference in which Schaferforms the key concepts according to 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) is the power - vulnerabilitydichotomy. The fact that Schafer allocates power to Wolfmanand vulnerability to Ariadne implicates Schafer directly in theissues of gender and power. It is the author who allocatespower and vulnerability to Woifman and Ariadne respectively,and it is the author who determines how gender is construed inhis work. “Little Araby” is a striking example of how Schafersubordinates the female dancer to the male barker in the nameof a historical tradition that has exploited female dancers asOthers on two levels: on the one hand as women and on the otherbecause they had to impersonate another “exotic” culture.Schafer offers no critique of such a one-dimensional gender construction; quite on the contrary, he seems to endorse itwhole-heartedly. The alchemical allegory underlying Patria 1to 4 in my view confirms this endorsement because it embracesThe Ilork of S. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postriodern 233some of the same dichotomies and construes gender in a similarly traditional way with the male going on a quest for the female, or, if one approaches Schafer’s drama on a psychologicalfooting, the male going on a quest for his female “counterpartsoul.” The issues of gender and power are at the heart of thecycle so that Schafer’s male chauvinism is discernible throughout Patria. Schafer’s reconstructive postmodernism, at leastwith regard to gender and power, seems to bracket the post inthe post-modern and emphasizes modern ways of construing gender. As I argued in chapter 3, reconstructive postmodernism isideally based on correspondences and not on differences whichare the trademark of the modern. Schafer’s stance on genderconstruction brings his project into disrepute at a level thatis fundamental to a true “participatory aesthetics” because itprevents Ariadne (or the female) from participating on a parwith Wolfman (or the male). Her status does not correspond tohis, 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 both authors employriddles and riddle-like works to represent and to present a microcosm of their large-scale theatrical allegories. The distinction between representation and presentation is crucial forunderstanding how the authors use non-performative works toprepare their audiences for their theatres. The deferral ofmeaning in allegory is also an important issue because itdelineates the authors’ attempts to circumvent the limitationsof the postmodern condition by creating a practice that theaudience can include in their lives. Watson’s riddles andSchafer’s riddle-like works approach performative status inwhich the work does not merely represent some fictional experience to the recipient but presents an experience where therecipient actively participates in or performs the work.Left in a (aze Allegories of the Postinoo’ern 235Allegories of Riddling:Labyrinths of Allegories:Schafer’s LabyrintheatreIn his “graphicnovels,!?* Dicamus etLabyrinthos: APhilologist’s Notebookand Ariadne,** 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 order toemphasize a general tendency in his work,namely his ambition to take the reader frompassive 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 Iaze 4]]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. Watson inthis way undermines one effect of the riddleby stressing another in that the riddlees donot 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 mind thatthis guide has also created the unknown territory 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. (Poems 5)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 .faze Allegories 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 number of images related to light (7-12).The disunification of “The Candle” is aconsequence of Watson’s efforts to includeas many details in his description as possible. It is also a characteristic of theliterary riddle* and may be attributed tothe scope of description that impedes unityof imagery. The inclusiveness of “all mankind” (line 11) that harkens back to 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”aze Allegories 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 have 9 and 5lines and employ the boustrophedon, an ancient Egyptian form of writing in which thelines are read from left to right and thenfrom right to left.* 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 Maze Allegories of the Postiodern 239ScENE 5 (BOUSTRO?HEDON)WALKING Z A lmlZI WS ‘R3R2( RYAN UB.GE TO TURK LK,cIAl( AW TA1T TU S3T2’R)O’ TM ‘133AT! i](A cLff.UT Iso i TURKEDAGAfl( DCCZoffWU1’2I CL3ZZ322iYI2AWFliT LIKE AN OX, FIRST f!OBJ2(A LWE w4YTE(.Ig]b)! A3B TUff QDT HEr cwoi (I3T2JJ I . ]3jTO 31WIN 23E Ofl’o,SrtE j)rlcECnoN T COuLD liEu.. SLOW WAVESA YJ21’41M )J(ITAFOlLOWING TEEM MTh NY .E AR, I 1VEN1WLTLcLIW’E’ YO ffAJA 3D aeaa 3Ff TA ‘TJi’M(IJ’ITJO’4STOL’E’D TO DElIBERATE. I BEPi$ONFD: IWA1T 70 GO M( TO!YI JJJJJ2 I aTlJcYT -J2aI2Aa aRT 1AT I I TtI 51311HER IN 1’ OFIDSITh 2JflZFC2TON AND W1Il. HAVE 10 :FROCEEDOTFO?,T. v’LY SRE HAS L2EPT 1JUYER711EEE £DWrar iI URW.2M o ZA3liA 23A JA!V3 1I iW TUE RIZEU? M4 APFOACIflN’ N A 1I1flE TFig. 2: Schafer’s “Boustrophedon” (Ariadne 19).Left in a [aze Allegories 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 from leftto right and contains in its last slot notone 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 string of fivestatements and a prompt:[1] I grow bright in darkness and darken at noon.[2] 1 lead men to bed and gallop under the moon.[31 I dismiss the stars to be dismissed by the sun.[4] A mouthful of breath kills me yet I dance in thewind,[5] I call dead generations of men to instructliving ones;jprompt] saga hwaet ic hatte (368)Once we bracket the number grid notation, 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 Allegories of the Postiodern 241z I.10aa p (4. I. •a xUa(4Ip1. zIxa>a.x*Uaz‘p: -a - ZZaz’II0aFig. 3: A fragmented delineation of Ariadne’s name (Ariadne 42-43).Slightly reduced size.Left in a Iaze Allegories of the Postinodern 242two levels: on the onehand, they function as are-presentation of aquest for an elusivemeaning; on the other,they function as a psentation 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, while 121 and [4] describemetaphorical actions. The last statementcontains a similar grandiose claim as thelast lines of ‘The Candle,” here, however,with the death-defying gesture of makingdead men instruct living men. Again, Watsonleaves the riddlees contemplating the objectfrom a perspective they have not seen before.Watson only writes riddles that use thelyric “I.” This category of riddle maximizes the occurrence of personification. Inhis article on “Allegorical Language,” Samuel Levin describes personification as ‘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 such a statement entails a metaphorical comment about anon-human entity. He goes on to describehow human languages have a deficiency inLeft in a .t”aze Allegories 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 comes to depictingnon-human realities:We say of a horse that it is frightened, [Levin says)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 predicates thatdepict such realities in human terms and inthis way lead to personification as a metaphoric device. In a meticulous scrutiny ofpersonification, Levin argues that there 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-human entities.This “pure’ allegory, however, depends onthe 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 1aze Allegories 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, it is harderto transform the statements into metaphorical expressions. This transformation occurseither by supplying the given solution orelse by guessing the solution, each of whichrequires a conscious effort on the part ofthe riddlees.The second reading would similarly makenoun and predicate conform, but here thefocus is on the predicate. The result istrue personification (Levin’s term). Theproblem here, as Levin points out, is thatthe literal element (the predicate) must bemade to work on the same semantic level asthe metaphorical one (the noun). If we assume that there were a term ‘to thwiddle’defined as “dancing in the wind, spec. oflamps’t then the statement “a lamp thwiddleswould 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 .faze Allegories 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.’ Levin callsthis reading dispersonification because thestatement now conveys merely the quality ofa lamp without implementing a metaphoricallevel.The fourth reading, finally, is the onlyone to engage in a pure, allegorical readingin that the recipient tries to conceive whatit would be like for a lamp to be dancing inthe wind. This process, of course, cannotbe semantically expressed in language because 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 occurring at the instant of guessing the solution. During thatinstant, the riddlees recapitulate one orseveral 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 Postiodern 246Fig. 4: A labyrinth from Dicamus (n.p.).Left in a Haze Allegories of the PostiodernLAN&UAC,EIT FuOwS LA45 F 5INTkAJ ACcJDE.ICE.ri E,ThEP.JJaJSENSEORACJ PHEL.247IJ rERr.NAA3ii)L.&H ASE£e.C1•LAwSTHEJJ THE RADEL L0S0HAe4‘IAA1FsrrLAwcATy.N1E ThR. A4ouS AS0RNAS LIc IINI-AN CC, AU A4 NC,£AI.L.EEEIN-raUCE1’.T HUHAN PUR.4’OSE. 4E pOSnSLE.I A$SuP.P. 11E4.E;wTH 10ST OR.tSIJ,L_ OFWtt ARE•,, zm-ci’‘,WHEE AAW( .‘-movfl1E RlUMPN OF2. m0pop-iA&D.-‘ ‘c’ a. 3Nr1a331wawz-. •mLf’BRINTh. IT V5E$;r 5)V0 U- NI 4ID B ITSm-{ > A9 .,l-wsi.’ cii. SI SSN3Iq TI4EItIFig. 5: A labyrinth from Dicamus (n.p.).Fig. 6: Overlaying of texts in çmUS (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 /S OA’t7 V’SIStEA F7TL C gAbJI.I6’ LIP flpLi/rt cffIM/JEf WiTt rifEpEE’TLACEP E!Th’f. SIDEo A CHASM.q,4.r/sk ;t?soayteS /€‘A’ 41€- i’e,LI.?WtAPS WE I%CoVE- 5oN17N/F/,At07p io, ‘E lilt 7RA4ISPYL’2’, F€JZ’TAS i7,K LAg!$INr is 77f izwa op ALL7ffgS FAS7 Sci1’! ,r sggi,JcAAli7r. BL’7 iF WE FAIl-, 7?EOU,j1/,I Cl-OSt5 ov L’ 7WE CoLC”2 FAImi pAAKAIEc HA CLAIMEL’ AAfoTNtz WC77A1.Fig. 7: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus (np.).Left in a Naze Allegories of the Postiodern 250& t1€dsculiT ibrr &‘ €€O,(Øidrst1N$ ‘f *4i*’f ii ‘1/i€ it’“lhL- 4 ;4. -r/Iiy /& ;c ;tS41fL /‘anLio.I /e4 cc iL ,/p w-’of obj’4J Ic dqrw of ciel .47 r- ‘‘o i& popr/IC5 ‘or cAai’ /reih4’ ()res.4w /zj iu”.á€i’, .,Ai’4 ,u k iMdakI ; jj4imq ;r-ducli/e- WhqhwhL 11€- aaw ot i4 S7J4d ;,aa,w,aI 4wes orit$ /OD/Arrn i(4N( LIVrchhr€. ‘ ‘AFig. 8: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus (n.p.).Left in a .1Iaze Allegories of 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 labyrinths.date because we do not tend to make upneologisms on the spot.) The riddlees, however, cannot sustain the ephemeral momentofnon-conceptual thought because they transform the guessed solution at once into aconcept or word. At this point, theriddlees either confirm the suggested solution or they guess the solution. Then theyturn the page where there is another riddleand 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 Allegories of 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 riddles full-fledgedallegories. As a result, I would ratherspeak of the “allegorical thrust’ in Watson’s riddles. While not turning theriddles into conventional narrative allegories, this thrust still insures access toanOther.Allegories speak in a distinctivedouble-entendre of anOther. Considering theallegorical 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 and nature 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 :Vaze Allegories 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 an insight into the ‘life of lamps,’ so to speak.Each of the statements contributes to thisinsight by dint of containing a personification. Thus we could say that Watson’sriddles introduce a single metaphor in acontinuous 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 an enigma.* For obvious reasons, this is not a concern when it comes tocomposing riddles; quite on the contrary, itis this excess of metaphor that is 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 is arepetition 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 Allegories of 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 on incantatoryqualities that reinforce its catecheticalquality.* This is surely an effect mostwelcome to Watson, who often employs formsand rituals reminiscent of catholic ones.**The “calculated monotony’ of anaphora produces a hypnotic effect so that the texttakes on qualities of a mosaic without perspective.*** In this way, Watson renders theregular 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{aze Allegories 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 clearly and monotonously marking its own importance, ratherthan that of the statements’ content. If weconsider for a moment the process by whichthe riddlees attempt to solve the riddle, wenotice that--unless the solution occurs tothe riddlees immediately after the initialreading--the riddlees change the 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 statements starting with the same word. Simultaneously, aparatactic ‘shuffling’ of statements takesplace. 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 is a “mug ofbeer.’ I must stop your paratactic shuffling because I want to draw attention to acharacteristic of parataxis that both con-Left in a h’aze Allegories 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 characteristic asfollows:By eliminating subordination . . . parataxis mayserve to equalize or give the appearance of equalityto disparate elements, moving the text toward thecondition of a list. This is a thoroughly ambiguousfunction, since the list from time immemorial hasbeen the structure of order and control, the means bywhich we shape our experience. (183)This subversion is also at work in theriddle. The condition of the list is emphasized by the lyric point of view because itimposes an idiosyncratic order on that list:statements 1 & 2 depict the static subjectusing the passive voice. Statement 3 depicts a static property, while statement 4introduces an active property. The last twostatements depict an active subject with anincreased intensity in “I stab my bestfriend 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 [aze Allegories 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 principles of‘combination” and “selection.” The formerstipulates that any linguistic sign occursonly in combination with other signs so thatany sign serves as a context, while the latter concerns the selection of a sign fromthe pool of possible signs. Selection inthis way implies the possibility of substituting one sign for another. The twoaphasic disorders he describes circumscribetwo poles of a continuum that correspond tothe principles of combination and selection.For my purposes, the contiguity disorderis especially significant. Patients suffering from this disorder lack the capacity todetermine and use contexts of linguisticunits* so that their capacity for maintaining the hierarchy of linguistic units isseverely reduced. The result is a paratactic patterning of speech which Jakobson* A linguistic unit could be a word but also a shortsentence or a group of words, see ‘Two Aspects’ 72,Left in a .1aze Allegories 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 towards infantile one-sentence utterances and one-word sentences”(72>.The absence of logical connectors, suchas prepositions and conjunctions, in Watson’s riddles indicates their syntacticalmovement towards the paradigmatic pole ofselection. This movement explains theparatactic patterning. The lyric point ofview, however, sustains a semantic movementthat countervails this syntactical movement.Using Jakobson’s terminology, one could saythat Watson’s riddles project the paradigmatic axis onto the syntagmatic axis. Theresult is a structuralization of contentwhich is typical of allegory, for in allegory structures always point to themes.*I have not yet mentioned a visual feature of the riddles that is important toWatson’s riddling, the icons at the bottomof each riddle. This feature bears upon theephemeral moment of recognition and aids intransforming 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 suchan unscientific and 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 Yaze Allegories 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 riddlee thinksof the solution, he literally views theworld through the ‘eye” of a knife. Theicons that appear at the bottom of each NGriddle support this non-conceptual instant.These icons (size: 2.3 x 2.3 cm) providestylized graphical representations of thesolution. Yet in most cases, it is next toimpossible to guess the solution from acurious glance at them because theysimultaneously hide and reveal the answers.Watson employs various disfiguringstrategies to achieve that effect. Althoughthe objects are common enough, for instancea lamp (368), a mug (363), a knife (373),the perspective from which the objects areshown in the icons is uncommon (see fig. 8).Most of the icons are close-ups so that theyare cut off at the edges and represent onlya part of the whole. On account of thispartial representation, the icons can beseen as metonymies. However, Watsoneliminates all contextual information fromthe icons themselves. They function onlywithin the context of the extended metaphorsof the riddle statements. As a result, WatLeft in a faze Allegories of the Postaodern 260Fig. 9: Icons accompanying Watson’s NGV-riddles (Poems 364,363, 380, 368). Slightly enlarged.Left in a (aze A]]egories of the Postraodern 261Eager 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 the syntagmatic axis and the riddle’s parataxis isfurther undermined. On the other hand, theicons take their place among the otherriddle statements because if viewed inisolation, they are just as confusing as thestatements. For this reason, the icon 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 to thesemantic content of the prose statements.As a result, we find two fundamentally different rhythms at work: one relying onnumerals, the other relying on words. As amatter 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 Allegories of the Postinodern 263metric experiment--free verse; seeing--hearing. To illustrate these differentrhythms, I would like to take a look at ariddle, first in prose notation:I wash in the sea but never become clean. I savemany from drowning. I teach the birds to write downtheir names. I show the authorities where men haveleft their bones. Harms enter by me though I harm noone: saga hwaet ic hatte. (366)One clearly feels the rhythm of prose andreads through the riddle as consisting of Sconsecutive 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 names.show 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 space of 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 :1laze Allegories 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 much attention tothe thematic intricacies as to the formalones; that is, one feels a self-reflexiveness of language and form that isunusual in prose. As a result, reading NGVrelegates the thematic intricacies (such asthe oppositions within the riddle-statements) and the prose-rhythm to thebackground of the riddlees’ attention. Assoon as the eye is used to the NGV-rhythm,however, the prose-rhythm gains in importance so that an approximate balance arises:Watson has accomplished the paratactic juxtaposition of NGV- and prose-rhythms.In “Postmodern Parataxis: EmbodiedTexts, Weightless Information,” KatherineHayles asserts that parataxis does not meanthat there are no relations between the juxtaposed entities. Rather these relationsare unstable and polysemous, and they may beappropriated, interpreted or re-inscribedinto different modalities because of the absence of a sequential structure (398). Sheclaims that the relations between paratacticelements are a “seismograph” of societalruptures in postmodern society.Left in a .Vaze Allegories 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 revealing it.** 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 in the foreground, but the rupture between the premodern metric experiment and modern freeverse. According to Watson, free verse putan end to the metric experiment before ithad come to full fruition (“NGV as Notation”). The synthesizing potential ofparataxis breaks through to a hitherto unknown constellation of free verse and metricexperiment. This breakthrough combines in apostmodern gesture the new with the old. Itis in this constellation that Watson inscribes his allegorical essence.*Having been inspired by McLuhan’s mediatheory long before he met McLuhan himself,Watson finally had the opportunity to coauthor a book with McLuhan. In their studyFrom Cliché to Archetype, Watson hints at atheory of multi-consciousness that would accoullt for postmodernism. For reasons that Iexplored above, McLuhan held another viewand was not prepared to accept Watson’s asequal to his own. This contributed to theI am referring to Walter Benjamin’s use of that term inUrsprung des deutschen Trauerspiels,Left in a 1Iaze Allegories 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 that alsodelayed publication of the book. Yet Watsonwent on to explore his theory in separatearticles, such as “Marshall McLuhan andMulti-Consciousness: The Place MarieDialogues.’ From these articles rather thanfrom their co-production, we can glean whatWatson meant by multi-consciousness and howhe explained its impact on postmodernism.According to Watson’s reading ofMcLuhan’s media theory, the book was the medium that dominated modernity. Yet in thetwentieth-century, the book-cliché lost mostof its impact which was sufficient to produce effects of’ fragmentation, alienation,disorientation, and disorganization. Itdominated the Western intellectual traditionto such an extent as to ensure that thistradition considered consciousness to behomogeneous. The absoluteness of thatpresupposition left men badly equipped todeal with the new multi-consciousness andits phenomena (208-09). These phenomena, toWatson, are primarily indicative of ahitherto unknown freedom:Twentieth-celltllry an has many ifiodes of consciousnessand with these goes a freedom not enjoyed by anyprevious civilization. (Poem and Preface 36)Left in a :1laze Allegories 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 by thread, 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, Watson sets out tocelebrate this freedom, which he calls“really a very wonderful development.’ Thiscelebration, in my reading, emanates as theallegorical essence of Watson’s riddles and,in extension, of his plays.In Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Fryeemphasizes the visual impact of the riddle:“The riddle seems intimately involved withthe whole process of reducing language 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 approaches an innerperformance which juxtaposes various statesof consciousness. This paratactical organization is highly unstable and at 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 Haze Allegories 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 new competence,as an increase of total awareness. It leadsnot to success, but to a new horizon ofproblems’ (“Education in the Tribal/GlobalVillage” 210).In the case of the riddles, the ‘newhorizon of problems” may be the author’srole in the riddling process as well as theaccess to an unspeakable. The position ofpower the author as riddler takes is that ofa shaman who leads the riddlee to a state ofmulti-consciousness that purports to provideaccess to an unspeakable experience.The performative mode contributes to thestatus of the riddles as allegories of riddling which in my view can be seen as tropesfor reading Watson’s allegorical plays.That the pure allegorical mode of reading Idescribed as radical dispersonification onlyoccurs in the elusive moment of recognitiondoes not diminish the allegorical thrust inthe riddles. I admit that the riddles donot constitute allegories in the sense ofproviding an extended allegorical narrative.Nevertheless, the brevity of the riddlesserves to isolate certain allegorical char-Left in a taze Allegories 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 is important to note that these isolated characteristics are more constitutive of allegorythan the absent quality of an extended narrative. The riddles thus illustrate the allegorical implications of such devices aspersonification, parataxis and NGV.Left in a Maze Allegories of the Postinodern 270Watson’s riddles and Schafer’s labyrinths fulfill asimilar function within the authors’ oeuvres because they constitute microcosms of the authors’ larger allegorical workswith regard to their structure and their power relations between author and reader.Structurally, riddles and labyrinths are concerned withthe fact that the unspeakable eludes any kind of representationand that it must be presented in a ritual that requires audience participation. For these reasons, riddles and labyrinthstry to go beyond the merely thematic representation of some arcane knowledge by emphasizing the involvement in an intellectual exercise that turns the reader into an active seeker forknowledge. This emphasis comes about through the (ritual)repetition of this involvement: almost every page contains anew riddle or a new labyrinth that the reader must solve.Moreover, as soon as the reader has solved and maneuvered theriddles 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 their quest on the nextpage where they will find another challenge. These rituals apLeft in a .maze Allegories of the Postniodern 271proach in this way the condition of a rehearsal for a performance that never quite takes place and seems endlessly deferred.This condition of an endless deferral of meaning can be compared to the postmodern condition as it presents itself throughthe deferral of meaning in allegory.In a similar way, Watson and Schafer defer closure intheir works for the theatre. Watson, on the one hand, leadshis readers on to expecting a last judgement or a final redemption that he always forestalls by exposing the mere possibilityof such closures as illusory and ridiculous. Schafer, on theother, adjourns the redemption of his protagonists time andagain until he orchestrates a mythical redemption that comesentirely undeserved to his protagonists.By subjecting their readers to puzzling constructs, bothauthors take on the role of the sage who has the answer or thesolution that the readers must first strive to find out by undergoing a ritual. This ritual, then, has the status of an initiation to the world of the sage. Hence riddles and labyrinths construct a hierarchy of power between authors and readers that is similar to that found in their allegories where wefind an elitism that manifests itself in a certain aloofness ofWatson’s allegories and in outright initiation rites in Schafer’s. The elitism of their allegories is largely responsiblefor their reconstructive postmodernism and can be used to indicate their position in the postmodern continuum and its deconstructive and reconstructive impulses.272Chapter 7Coda: ReverberationsOne way of characterizing the postmodern condition is thatthe discourses of science cannot provide satisfactory explanations and/or solutions to contemporary crises facing humanityand the environment. These crises threaten both our individualand ontological beings on an unprecedented scale.’ There is awidespread need to fill the gap left by the sciences by turningto spirituality. A particular type of postmodernism attemptsto fill that need. According to Suzi Gablik and other critics,reconstructive postmodernists re-enchant the arts with a commitment to recover genuine hope and spirituality by reconstructing lost or desacralized entities. The artists are thedriving force behind this commitment. They supply themselveswith authority in order to teach their commitment to theiraudiences.Reconstructive postmodernists choose allegory as a mode ofencoding language in order to introduce new belief systems.I In The Fate of the Earth, Jonathan Schell argues a similar point with regard to the nuclear threat. He says that global, nuclear extinction is a threat to the entire race surpassing any threats of wars or natural catastrophes humans had toface in previous eras when belief systems (such as the Christian one) provided assurances that an apocalyptic end is merelyanother beginning of a better and eternal life. However, nowthat the sciences have dismantled these belief systems, humanshave to face the possibility of absolute extinction. In myview, Schell’s argument also holds for the environmental crisisand the crisis of meaning.Coda: Reverberations Allegories of the Postniodern 273This encoding corresponds to encryption, a process that bydefinition implies certain elitist connotations because the encoder hides a “message” from the uninitiated. Therefore, theprimary mode of reconstructive postmodernism is elitist throughand through. Both Watson and Schafer use allegory as a mode ofencoding language and as an elitist device.To Schafer, only the select few who prove themselves worthy of initiation into his world will learn how to decipher hisallegories and thereby unlock the arcana hidden therein. Schafer exercises the most extreme form of this elitism in the epilogue to Patria, And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon, which indeedredefines the very notion of theatre in that it is restrictedto invited group members only. At first, Schafer planned thisweek-long event to receive its first initiates after two tothree years of annual, preparatory meetings in a remote part ofAlgonquin Park in central Ontario. Yet the technical difficulties of transportation and risks of injury in the wildernesshave finally forced Schafer and his group to give up the ideaof bringing in initiates. At this time, the epilogue to Patriacan only be experienced by the performers themselves. To become a member of the group, one must be sponsored by two current members who are responsible for the newcomer. This responsibility involves being a mentor to the initiate and makingsure that she or he is reliable in terms of annual participation.Watson’s allegories insist to a lesser degree than Schafer’s on selection and initiation. As a result, his allegoriescoda: Reverberations Allegories of the Postniodern 274seem more democratic because they are open to everyone, butthey also proudly retain an aura of enigma so that Watsonleaves his audience with the feeling that a complete decodingof the allegorical message” is endlessly deferred. A pertinent example is Number Grid Verse, a method of notation whoseallegorical concerns can be intellectually understood without,however, grasping the experiential impact of NGV.It is the author who holds the key to unlock the hiddenmeanings of the works. Watson’s and Schafer’s elitism supportsa centripetal structure of authority: it instates the author asan intermediary between text and reader. If audiences want todecode the hidden meanings, they have to accept the authorityof the allegorist. The centripetal structure of authority is acharacteristic of reconstructive postmodernism. The degree ofelitism, therefore, determines the degree to which the worksare reconstructive.Even in Schafer’s Patria 3, which freely deconstructs themore formal theatrical conventions of Patria I and 2, the audience strongly feels Schafer’s guiding hand and how he constructs and re-constructs an underlying significance for thespectacle. In Watson’s Let’s Murder, however, it is an accomplishment to avoid utter confusion at the most simple questionsthe play raises. Watson does not intervene sufficiently toprovide coherent answers (or he is too enigmatic for us to divine his meaning). Gablik suggests that it would be better tolook at the two postmodernisms, not as antagonistic movements,Coda: Reverberations Allegories of the Postinodern 275but as complementary components of a larger project that remapsthe modern paradigm. Patria 3 and Let’s Murder illustrate particularly well the range of postmodern possibilities Schaferand Watson cover. Both works