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

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ALLEGORIES OF THE POSTMODERN: THE WORK OF WILFRED WATSON AND R. 11JRRAY SCHAFER by STEFAN HAAG M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of English) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE August 1995 Stefan Haag, 1995 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. (Signature) _______________________________ Department of 1&. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date LJLr DE-6 (2/88) 11 Abstract The characteristic doubling of postmodern works of art is best seen in terms of an allegorical gesture that melancholics undertake in order to create life in an entity they consider dead and meaningless. Walter Benjamin has theorized the allegorical gesture and provides a basis for extending his un derstanding of modern allegory to the postmodern. The postinodern can be seen as a continuum that at its two extremes veers towards a deconstructive and a reconstructive impulse, respectively. While the former decentres meaning and authority, the latter reconstructs the two on the basis of an arbitrary al legorical construct that relies itself on audience belief which is generated in participatory rituals. Watson and Schafer exemplify the interdependencies of these two postrnodern impulses and their emblematical qualities. Further more, they illustrate how melancholics view the world, how they imbue their works with a political agenda, and how they try to indoctrinate their audiences. Ultimately, the allegorical construct is as ideological as what it brutally replaces. An outward sign of the violence that is at the root of the allegorical gesture can be seen in the many acts of violence in Watson and Schafer. Watson’s project ends in ambiguity because he ironically subverts his own authority so that the audience is left mocking the allegorical “mes sage.” Schafer, on the other hand, represses the challenge that this violence poses to his allegorical construct. Although he does not realize it, his work remains caught in ideology. Reconstructive postmodernisrn, as far as it depends on the author(ity) of allegory, is thus built on a validating act of the audience, which is a leap of faith rooted in ideology. Wilfred Watson R. Murray Schafer Chapter 2 Visions of Beginning 29 Decolonizing 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 . 55 Table Abstract Table of Contents List of Figures Acknowledgement Dedication Chapter 1 of Contents Prelude: The Argument 11] 11 111 V Vi Vii 1and Biographical Sketches Stefan Haag Contents Allegories of the Postinodern iv The Village Fair as a Site for the Construction of Gender 90 122 142 190 Chapter 6 Left in a Maze 234 Labyrinths of Allegories: Allegories of Riddling: Schafer’s Labyrintheatre Watson’s Riddles Chapter 7 Coda: Reverberations 272 Bibliography 286 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 The Work of Wilfred Watson: Last Judgements Meaningful Reversals Postmodern Multi-Consciousnesses The Work of R. Murray Schafer: Postmodern McLuhanesque Utopianism From the Stage to a Wilderness Lake and Back Again: Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle 168 171 Appendix Descriptions of R. Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle . 322 VList of Figures Fig. 1: Richard Rosenblum’s Manscape 74 Fig. 2: Schafer’s “Boustrophedon” (Ariadne 17) .... 239 Fig. 3: A fragmented delineation of Ariadne’s name (Ariadne 42-43) 241 Fig. 4 & 5: Labyrinths from Dicamus 246 & 247 Fig. 6: Overlaying of texts in Dicamus 248 Fig. 7 & 8: Crossed-out passages in Dicamus 249 & 250 Fig. 9: Four icons from Watson’s riddles 260 Fig. 10: Cryptographic private thoughts from Ariadne 262 Fig. 11: The Princess of the Stars on Two Jack Lake 281 vi Acknowledgement My greatest thanks go to my supervisor, Sherrill Grace, whose com ments on my drafts were always prompt, to the point and insightful. More over, her genuine interest in my project and her generosity and kindness were 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 for their helpful comments on previous drafts. Shirley Neuman and the librar ians in Special Collections at the University of Alberta Library in Edmon ton permitted me to do research in the Wilfred Watson Papers as well as to quote from them. I also owe thanks to Wilfred and Sheila Watson, Murray Schafer, Diane Bessai, Thomas Peacocke, and Elizabeth Beauchamp, for time spent talking to me but also for valuable copies of books, scores, and typescripts. I am grateful to Scott Taylor for many anecdotes about the Watsons and McLuhan as well as for his hospitality during a research trip to Edmonton. Courteously, R. Murray Schafer and Shirley Neuman (for NeWest Press) have given me permission to reproduce material from books for which they hold copyright. Finally, I have been fortunate enough to have the wholehearted sup port of my parents and of my wife Hélène. To Hélène I am also grateful for reading drafts and offering suggestions but mostly for the ongoing dia logue. In recognition of their contribution, I happily dedicate my dis sertation to my parents and to Hélène. x C CD ’ CD CD . . CD ’ CD CD CD < CD CD r ‘ 1 - t CD ri (‘2 CD 1Chapter 1 Prelude The Argument This dissertation is not about two authors but about al— legories of the postmodern or, more precisely, about what I understand to be a continuum of the postmodern that veers at its one extreme toward a deconstructive impulse and at its other toward a reconstructive impulse. I use the authors mere ly as case studies that shed light upon discontinuous, post- modern attempts to confront contemporary crises of loss and desacralizat ion. Bringing together two authors who depict two discontinuous moments in a discontinuous postmodernity means (to a certain extent at least) accepting discontinuity as an organizing prin ciple for this enquiry. This dissertation, then, does not aim at a tight unity because the result would be a sense of closure that impugns the discontinuity of the postmodern. Still, formal affinities do exist between the authors. While not strong enough to provide a centre to the disserta tion, they are strong enough to justify gathering the authors in one place to be analyzed with regard to their relations to postmodernism in general and postmodern allegory in particular. Such formal affinities are their exclusion from Canadian canons of theatre and poetry, their use of performative media, and, Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 2 most importantly, their use of allegory as their primary method of composition. Even though at times I seem to compare the authors--an im pression, imagined or real, that cannot be avoided in a study that of necessity must organize its material in a way that usually indicates comparison--it is not the primary objective of this dissertation to do so. As well, this dissertation is not a study of influence. The authors in question, to my knowledge, have not influenced each other, and I do not try to trace any mutual influences on them. This dissertation, furthermore, is neither an analysis of the authors’ entire work nor an exhaustive literary scrutiny of selected works from a variety of angles. Rather it is a study of selected works under specific criteria that I consider rele vant to the postmodern. Hence it is a study in the history of ideas. Finally, when considering Murray Schafer’s international reputation as composer, readers may find it strange that I ex clude his music. Nevertheless, I do so quite deliberately. It is my contention that his Patria cycle is primarily a multi media accomplishment (not primarily a musical accomplishment) that deserves attention from many disciplines because it com ments on our cultural condition in the late twentieth century. These comments, I think, are more easily accessible through a study that is situated somewhere between literature and theatre criticism than in musical criticism because the latter has to Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 3 find a way of relating its semiotics to culture at large. This (necessary but difficult) harmonization of semiotic codes seems too much of a detour for a dissertation that in any case is neither focussed on Schafer’s work alone, nor on Schafer as one of two authors, but on allegories of the postmodern. 1 The schism between music and culture is a result of the fact that music is a non-conceptual semiotic system. (As Leonard Bernstein has shown in his Charles Eliot Norton lec tures 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 semi otic condition of music serves as an advantage and accounts for the special philosophical status of music in the work of many aestheticians (such as Eduard Hanslick, who argued against Schopenhauer and Wagner by maintaining an “absolute” status for music), but, on the other, it also causes a deep-rooted in compatibility with other disciplines of enquiry. 4Biographical Sketches Wilfred Watson was born in England in 1911. He emigrated to Canada at the age of fifteen. He attained his B.A. in English literature from the University of British Columbia in 1943. For the remainder of the war, he served in the Canadian navy. After the war he con— R. Murray Schafer was born in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1933. Even as a child, he showed considerable talent in both music and the fine arts. In his monograph devoted to Schafer, Stephen Adams speculates that the loss of sight in his right eye made him choose a career in music rather than in the fine arts (R. Murray Schafer ). However, as Adams also points out and as a cursory look at his scores shows, not only did Schafer integrate both talents in an innova I was born in Trier, a city founded as Augusta Treverorum by the Romans in 16 BC to supply the eastern border of their empire, the Limes, with troops and goods. At various points in elementary and secondary school, we covered this period of the Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern S tinued his education at the University of Toronto and received an M.A. in 1946 and a Ph.D. in 1951. The same year, he became professor in the Department of Eng lish at the University of Alberta and taught until 1953 at its Cal gary campus. In 1953, he moved to teach at the Edmonton campus, where he participated in an intellectual circle that included his wife Sheila Watson, the painter Norman Yates, and the tive way, but he also developed his personal style of graphic illustration so much so that his scores have been exhibited in art galleries (6). Perhaps I can add to Adams’s speculations by pointing out that, even in his childhood and adolescence, Schafer tried to recover loss by opting for meaningful alternatives which fill the void of loss. After his high-school graduation, Scha fer began studying piano and composition at the University of Toronto, but after only one year he was dismissed because of ten sions between him and a number of his pro fessors. From 1956 to 1961, he travelled in Europe and studied music as an autodidact. In his first book, British Composers in Interview, which grew out of a series of in terviews prepared for the CBC while he was city’s history from various angles so that the Limes gradually emerged as a landmark roughly synomymous with the river Rhine beyond which there was unknown territory, inhabited by irra tional, frightful barbarians who, needless to say, were never covered in the same lesson unit. Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 6 Having been exposed to these sentiments day-in and day-out for the better part of my life, I sometimes caught myself being astonished that it was so easy to cross the Limes when I went from Trier to, say, Frankfurt. Despite all geographical educa tion and empirical proof to the contrary, the “other” side of actor-directors Gordon Peacock and Thomas Pea cocke among others. In the early 1960s, he co founded the Jazz Club “Yardbird Suite” that, on occasion, served as a theatre venue.* In 1972, Watson joined the editorial group of White Pelican (a quarterly review of the arts). Sheila Watson founded White Pelican in 1971 in England, Schafer showed himself very in trigued by the creative process. In the in terviews, he attempts to draw out idiosyn cracies as well as similarities of the com posers’ methods. But, as he points out in his introduction, the creative process re mains ultimately a ‘mystery’ that is un speakable: It is always interesting to speak to creative art ists, Interesting because it can never be entirely rewarding, for the mystery of the creative mind can never be fully exposed by speech alone, The precise definition of art lies in its being, not in its being talked about. Nevertheless, talking about art can be moving and exciting, especially when one is fortunate enough to be speaking to artists about their own work. (British Composers 13) In Schafer’s view, art and the creative mind do not expose themselves fully in speech but only in being, which is unspeakable. Schafer’s view of the creative act has a romantic air about it, and he has often been * bail for Two Pedestals, Chez-vous Comfortable Pew, and Thing in Black premiered at the Yardbird Suite in 1964, 1965, and 1967, respectively (Bessal, Wilfred Watson 382). Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 7 and continued publishing it until 1976.* Wil fred Watson retired from the University of Al berta in 1977 and moved in 1980 to Nanaimo where he lives with his wife Sheila in a house over looking a small lagoon. Watson’s creative career went through several periods during * The first issue was published in Winter 1971 and the last in Spring 1976 (5.2), Wilfred Watson edited issues 2.4 (Fall 1972) and 4,1 (Winter 1974). The editorial group included Sheila Watson, Stephen Scobie, Douglas Barbour, John Or rell, Norman Yates, Wilfred Watson, and Dorothy Livesay, who left the group in 1972, called a romantic (Adams, R. Murray Schafer 31). During his stay in Europe, he also wrote E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music, a study in which he grapples with romanticism and what it means to him.* Schafer’s attitude to wards romanticism is highly ambivalent. Noting at first that ‘one might be tempted to agree . . . that the nineteenth century really did represent some pinnacle of musi cal expression never again to be attained,” he admits only a page later that “today many romantic sentiments elicit self-conscious- Schafer wrote ETA. lloffmann and Nusic between 1960 and 1963 but only published it in 1975. Adams comments: “The book may disappoint readers primarily interested in Hoffmann’s texts; Schafer translates only nine of Hoffmann’s musical pieces, and the bulk of the volume is Schafer’s distillation of early 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 in a string of events that convinced me not only of the reality of the other side but also of the fact that this Other is not so much unknown as it is repressed, in reality an integral and necessary part of the worldview I had been taught in my youth. Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 8 * Watson scribbled a note onto a typescript of The Trial of Corporal Adam that illuminates his search for a Canadian genre: “If an ethnic writer is one with a double allegiance, their runs [the performances of Corporal Adam] was my last ethnic production. Sometime after I wrote this, I wrote, ‘I shot a trumpet into my brain’, which masked my break with the homeland, by using a form, [which,] though not absolutely Canadian, * Schafer later devoted a choral composition to a related idea, namely that of the decline of the symbolic value of the moon, listen to Epitaph for 1oonlight. In it, he mourns the loss of the noon as a symbol that humans dismantled with the moonlanding in 1969. As a text, he uses onomatopoeic words for moonlight invented by seventh-grade students in 1966, Schafer asked them to “create a more suggestive word in a private lan guage to substitute for ‘moonlight’” (The Thinking Ear 184). He comments about Epitaph: “I doubt whether a group of young people today asked to produce synonyms for moonlight could find inspiration so easy as did my young poets in 1966, The moon as a numinous and mythogenic symbol died in 1969. It is now mere ly a piece of property--and moonligbt will soon rhyme with neon.” And he adds melancholically, “The moon is dead, I saw her die” (221. I am quoting from Schafer’s preface to a fac simile reproduction of the score which appears on 222-27.). One spring, because unusually heavy snowfalls had occurred in the middle mountain ranges of Hunsrück and Eifel, the Rhine overflowed its banks in Cologne, turning the oldest part of town, the Altstadt, into a quagmire of polluted waters and mud. which he focussed on different genres. Per haps it is not wrong to interpret his career as an ongoing search for a genre that would fulfill all of his creative am bitions. These ambi tions are primarily, it seems, to create an art that is at once Canadian and performative.* ness and diffidence’ (E.T.A. Hoffmann 3-4). This self-consciousness is the result of a different outlook on the world that he ex presses poignantly: “The spectacle of Beet hoven playing C-sharp minor arpeggios by moonlight on the Danube is difficult to bring into view now that moonlight has been replaced by neon* and all the rivers are What added to the singularity of the event was the crowd of Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 9 T.S. Eliot accepted his first volume of poetry, Friday’s Child, for Faber and Faber. It was published in 1955, and Watson received a Canadian Governor Gener al’s Award for it. His next volume of poetry, The Sorrowful Canadians, had to wait until was virtually so, the form which cul minated in The Sorrowful Canadians (at son Archives, Box 6, ts., U of Alberta, Edmonton, verso of p.1), polluted” (4). Significantly, Schafer chooses to express his ambivalence towards romanticism by referring to the loss of a romantic symbol, namely moonlight, and the loss of a worldview that does not have to take into consideration environmental pollu tion. Loss, to him, is an obstacle to achieving the romantic state of mind. Scha fer thus is torn between wanting to be ro mantic and seeing that romanticism today is really impossible. Early in his career, Schafer was search ing for an answer to a question that kept coming back to him. The question was “What is music?” Because he could not produce a satisfactory answer, he wrote letters to many distinguished composers and scholars containing merely this direct question. The several thousand people that gathered one Sunday afternoon on the Hohenzollern-bridge crossing the Rhine near the cathedral. The crowd was there to watch what had happened in the overnight battle between city and river. It was a carnivalesque atmos phere that marked that crowd--”carnivalesque” in the sense of Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 10 1972.* The late 1950s and early 1960s were a period of reorientation during which he shifted his artistic focus to drama. During his tenure of a Canadian Go vernment Overseas Fel lowship in Paris, 1955- 1956, he learned about and took an interest in one response that impressed him, influenced him, and that he remembers vividly more than thirty years later was John Cages.* Scha fer has since included Cage’s definition in an educational tract entitled “The New Soundscape.” Cage wrote: Nusic is sounds, sounds around us whether we’re in or out of concert halls--see Thoreau. (qtd. in The Thinking Ear 94) Cage’s definition signifies to Schafer a trend in twentieth century music to overcome more exclusive definitions of music. Fur thermore, the reference to Thoreau’s Walden connects this new concept of music to en vironmental sounds. Enthusiastically, 1993. Schafer made these comments in conversation to me in confronting an irrational entity whose power the crowd feared yet haughtily defied.* This crowd was knit together into a I choose the term carniva1esque for two reasons, On the one hand, the atmosphere in Cologne, a city known world-wide for its carnival parade, is very conducive to turning carnivalesque at a moment’s notice. While living in Cologne, I heard a fine anecdote that il lustrates the carnivalesque defiance of authority: after Hitler came to power, he staged mas sive Nazi parades through all major cities. In Cologne, however, rumor has it that some * Watson, however, continued to pub lish poetry in journals, see biblio graphy. Also, the section Bawl of Wool’ (first published in Poems 63-144) with its two sequences ‘poems by Jenny Blake” and “letters for the bach. of wire’ falls stylistically at the beginning or middle of his dramatic period because they do not exhibit the ritualistic repetitions characteristic of the poems written after “I Shot a Trumpet into my Brain.’ Prelude Allegories of the Postrnodern 11 the theatre of the ab surd. The following year, he directed Jonesco’s The Bald Soprano at the Univer sity of Alberta Studio Theatre. Watson pursued his interest in the theatre of the absurd with his own short ab surd play, The Whatnot, for the interfaculty drama festival at the University of Alberta Studio Theatre in Novem ber 1959.* * Bessai, Prairie Performance 181. The Whatnot is unpublished. The types cript is in the Watson archives, U of Al- Schafer spells out some implications of Cage’s definition: Behold the new orchestra: the sonic universe! And the new musicians: anyone and anything that sounds! (95) Furnished with an understanding of music along Cagian lines, Schafer was prepared and ready to direct a leading-edge enquiry into the sounding environments of the world. In 196, Schafer became director of the ‘World Soundscape Project” at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Here he could devote himself to soundscape research as well as to his creative work which included the first parts of the Patria cycle.* Dur * Activities of the World Soundscape Project included documentary recordings of some Vancouver sound marks (included in The Vancouver Soundscape) and a study of five European vil lage soundscapes. Schafer began work on Patria 1 in 1966 and finished it in 1974. Patria 2 was finished in 1972, community by a catastrophe it yet could not touch it: that occurred in plain view beneath the crowd was on the Limes, in a people 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 ex perience and some of the works under scrutiny in my dissertation. Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 12 state of liminality, watching the irrational onslaught, not of the barbarians on the Romans, but of nature on civilization. Hovering in security over that spectacle, the crowd was in be tween opposing forces, gaining a dizzying perspective that gave way to a celebration. In that celebration, the liminal posi As the notebooks in the Watson Archives at the University of Al berta show, Watson started work on his first major play, Cock crow and the Gulls, in 1955 and finished it in 1960.* It was first performed at the Studio Theatre in March 1962. Watson worked closely berta, Edmonton, Box 6, grey folder, 36 pp. * Box 2 of the Watson archives con tains all notebooks and folders related to Cockcrow and the Gulls. They are dated from 1955-1960. ing this time, he realized how influential the surrounding soundscape was on his com positions. During his tenure at SFU, Schafer wrote The Tuning of the World,* a study of sound ing environments (urban, rural, and natural) that single-handedly laid the foundations for the new interdisciplines of “acoustic ecology” and “acoustic design” (205 and pas sim). Schafer defines acoustic ecology as “the study of sounds in relationship to life and society (205). He maintains that acoustic ecology cannot remain confined to the laboratory but that it must examine on location the effects of the acoustic en * Schafer originally published The Tuning of the World in 1977, It was reprinted in 1994 under the title The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 13 vironment on the creatures living in it. Only the last of four parts, “Toward Acous tic Design,” focuses on defining this new discipline. Acoustic ecology is the basis for acoustic design because, Schafer argues, “only a total appreciation of the acoustic environment can give us the resources for improving the orchestration of the world soundscape” (4). In other words, first we must determine and know what is wrong with the current soundscape. Schafer warns: The soundscape of the world is changing, Nodern man is beginning to inhabit a world with an acoustic en vironment radically different from any he has hitherto known, These new sounds, which differ in quality and intensity from those of the past, have alerted many researchers to the dangers of an in discriminate and imperialistic spread of more and _______________________ larger sounds into every corner of aan’s life. Noise ______ pollution is now a world problem. It would seem that _______________ _ the world soundscape has reached an apex of vulgarity _____________ in our time, and many experts have predicted universal deafness as the ultimate consequence unless tion began crumbling and the crowd eventually crossed over into irrationality; that is, instead of watching the spectacle of a contest between civilization and nature, the crowd derided other people’s misfortune that was ultimately their own. with the Studio Theatre where Gordon Peacock and Thomas Peacocke, both of whom were associated with the Department of Theatre, brought many of his plays to the stage.* He also col laborated with Norman Yates, a painter who taught in the Department of Fine Arts and with whom he shared an inter- * Gordon Peacock directed the premiere of Cockcrow and the Gulls in 1962, and Thomas Peacocke directed 0 Holy Ghost Dip your Finger in the Blood of Canada and Nrite I Love You in 1967 and Gramsci x 3 in 1986 )y 605). Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 14 --I “Liminality” to me, then, signifies being in a position between Self and Other, between reason and irrationality, be tween what I know and what I fear. Being in this position al lows one to spy out the feared Other of irrationality without est in the theories of Marshall McLuhan. * In the early 1960s, Watson made contact with Marshall McLuhan through Sheila Watson, who was a Ph.D.-student of McLu han’s. He was a great but critical admirer of McLuhan. Their colla boration culminated in the study From Cliché to Archetype in which they * Yates designed the sets and costumes for many of Watson’s plays: Cockcrow and the Gulls, Lets Murder Clytemnestra According to the Principles of Marshall McLuhan, and Up Against the Wall 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 the degeneration of the soundscape is a univer sal loss of hearing. Schafer thinks we should prevent that loss by striving for aesthetic standards according to which we can evaluate the soundscape. These standards, however, are not purely aesthetic; they often veer toward the spiritual or pragmatic. A good example of these tendencies is Schafer’s discussion of silence. Arguing that in Western societies silence has come to signify the absence of life and is over wrought with negative connotations, he pleads for a recovery of positive silence’ (258). This connotation of silence dis Prelude Allegories of the Postiiiodern 15 redefined both concepts in light of McLuhan’s media theory. In the 1970s, Watson devoted himself almost exclusively to poetry. He published several volumes that featured idiosyncratic notation methods. In The Sorrow ful Canadians, he tries to achieve a polyphonic notation method by using different typefaces and repetitions. Later, in I Begin With Counting, he introduces his Number Grid Verse (NGV), a appeared from the West at about the same time as the Christian mystics (such as Meister Eckhart, Ruysbroeck, Angela de Foligno) died. Linking silence to con templation and even concentration illus trates the interpenetration of aesthetic, spiritual and pragmatic standards in Scha fer’s approach toward acoustic design (258). Taking the soundscape of the world as a musical composition, Schafer remarks that ‘we are simultaneously its audience, its performers and its composers” (205). While the metaphor of “orchestrating the sound scape” may at first appear like an urge to determine and even control the soundscape, he qualifies this notion as follows: Acoustic design should never becoffie design control froa above. It is rather a aatter of the retrieval going all the way, that is, without actually crossing over into unknown territory. I suspect, however, that the dichotomy of Self and Other is not as rigorous as I have described it al though it is subject to constant remappings onto other dicho Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 16 method of notation that combines numerals and words in order to facil itate performance. After not writing for the stage for most of the 1970s, he returned to writing for the stage with a short play, The Woman Taken in Adultery, that was performed at the Edmonton Theatre Fringe Festival in 1987. A major play, Gramsci x 3, followed in the early 1980s and combines the ritual repetitions of the early l970s with the of a significant aural culture, and that is a task for everyone, 26) The retrieval of a significant aural culture has aesthetic, spiritual and pragmatic func tions. It recapitulates in a nutshell the focus of Schafer’s striving: all his talents contribute in some way to this goal. In 1975, Schafer relinquished his posi tion at SFU and moved to a farm near Indian River, Ontario. The rural soundscape changed his music. His works have since be come more environmental both in the sense of making natural sounds an integral part of his compositions and of providing his audi ences with the insight that the human being is a part and not the dominator of nature. He also has become actively involved in per formances of his theatrical work that have tomies that draw their legitimacy from the original one. Yet these mappings seem to project a repressed part of the Self onto the outside world so that the Self can deal with a re pressed part of itself as an Other in an objective way rather Prelude Allegories of the Postrnodern 17 NGV of the late 1970s into a performative spectacle. Thomas Pea cocke directed the play for the Studio Theatre in 1986. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Watson devoted much of his time to preparing anthologies of his poetry (Poems, 1986), drama (Plays, 1989) and short fiction (The Baie Comeau Angel, 1993) earned him an international reputation as a music-theatrical innovator. Furthermore, at the age of sixty, he is a renowned lecturer and consultant on soundscape and environmen tal issues. Murray Schafer has won numerous musical awards, the most distinguished of which was the first Glenn Gould prize in 1988. In 1993, the first international conference on acoustic ecology took place at the Banff Centre for the Arts in honor of Schafer’s sixtieth birthday. In reference to his ground-breaking book on soundscape studies, the conference had the title The Tuning &f the World.” than confront its own incongruencies. Furthermore, the liminal position suspends social or rationally conditioned behavior in favor of a carnivalesque community that reacts less obediently to authority. Prelude Allegories of the Postt7iodern 18 Now I would like to note some of the parallels that exist between Watson and Schafer and that lead to explorations of the postmodern. In three allegorical poems written during his pe riod of reorientation, Watson sketches a vision of a perform ative art that is specifically Canadian. Included in this vi sion, however, is an ironical subversion of extant myths and paradigms of creating art. This subversion is not unlike the deconstructive impulse that in several critics’ views con stitutes postmodernism.2 After his tenure at the World Soundscape Project at SFU, Schafer articulated an allegorical vision of North and Northern art. This vision describes a turn towards local values and towards ritualistic art that frequently has an environmental agenda. Schafer’s vision, however, includes the decline of what he views as “Canada and Canadian” art because of a reliance on so-called universal values. The critique of these universal values is also not unlike the deconstructive impulse of postmodernism. 2 Critics who note the deconstructive impulse of post modernism include Linda Hutcheon (“It is difficult to separate the politicizing impulse of postmodern art from the deconstructing impulse of what we have labelled ‘poststruc turalist’ theory” [“Postmodernism’s Ironic Paradoxes” 111-12]), Craig Owens (“The Allegorical Impulse”), and Suzi Gablik (The Reenchantment of Art). Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 19 With these visions, I argue, the authors position them selves at a liminal point between what they know and what they fear. At this liminal point, they encounter anOther that pro vides access to various unspeakables.3 Henceforth I will write “anOther,” not “the Other,” in order to allow for the possibility of other Others. Further more, I write “anOther” not “an Other,” to indicate the non specificity of this concept. Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 20 The Work of Wilfred Watson I have chosen to analyze three of Watson’s plays from the 1960s that in variably integrate versions of the Last Judgment. The Last Judgment, of course, is the trial that will end all trials. Watson employs the Last Judg ment as an absolute allegory that will end all allegories because it promises to achieve an ultimate signified, namely divine and absolute justice. If it could be achieved, this justice would satisfy once and for all the pursuit of truth and responsibility that Watson is so concerned about throughout his work. Nonetheless, Watson illustrates time and again the profound injustice of Last Judgments. As a matter of course, a (divine) redemption takes place that is as un just as the verdicts were. In the last scenes of the plays, Watson de rides the redemption and encourages the audience to participate in the The Work of R. Murray Schafer As is evident from Murray Schafer’s biographical sketch, experiences of loss have touched him in important ways. Everywhere he turns, he expe riences loss: the loss of the human capacity to integrate meaningful rituals in everyday life, the loss of natural sounds, the loss of histori cally human-produced sounds, the loss of the human capacity to listen properly, and the loss of the positive experi ence of silence are concrete manifestations of this loss. The multiple loss affects the quality of human relations to the environment, especially the sounding environment. One manner of coping with loss is manifest in Schafer’s I artistic work. I argue that Prelude Allegories of the Postniodern 21 derision and take sides with a stance that declares life to be an endless struggle without hope for Last Judg ments or redemption. Constitutive of Watson’s stance, I argue, are his strong Catholic beliefs in original sin and an inescapable, collective guilt. The recognition that there is no redemption, that all that remains is an endless struggle, must be devas tating to the Catholic Watson. His recognition is unspeakable, and he cannot re-present it but must present it to the audience in a participatory ritual. In Gramsci x 3, Watson reinter prets Antonio Gramsci’s life in terms of the Christian Calvary. In revers ing the calvary, Watson suggests that this ritual is interminable because any end is merely another beginning. Thus, Watson again confronts the audi ence with his unspeakable recognition that all that remains is an endless struggle. Watson’s recognition leads to a melancholy that underlies an allegori the contemplation of loss leads him to use allegorical modes because they supply him with the necessary authority to recover the loss by re inscribing a meaningless world with new meaning. Moreover, the allegorical mode facili tates the integration of a didactic slant in his work. Because the destruction of natural habitats in the late twentieth century occurs at a stunning rate, loss touches his audience in a manner simi lar to the way it touches him. This is where the didactic slant in many of his works has its origin: he wants to make his audience aware of the loss, and he wants them to respond to the experience of loss, either by following his lead or else their own intui tions. Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 22 cal gesture through which he invests his dead world with new meaning. He uses theatre in radical ways to recover a performative paradigm that he perceives as absent. With the term “radical,’ I want to indicate, on the one hand, Watson’s intention to return to the “roots” of drama, namely secu lar and religious rituals, and on the other his idiosyncratic extension of the theatre of the absurd. Wilfred Watson wants to bring about radical change from within the theatre itself. In his view, theatre must be reinvented as a revolutionary art form. Watson shares the McLuhan esque insight that “revolutionary” means re-inventing the wheel (Plays 433); in other words, revolutions take old forms and give them new meaning. Watson applies this general insight to the theatre by inscribing theatre with a new meaning that he describes as “radical absurdity.” Radical absur dity, according to Watson, aids him in celebrating a postmodern freedom that In order to illustrate how Schafer’s allegorical methods influence his environmental artistic work, let me here briefly analyze his composi tion Music for Wilderness Lake. In this work, Schafer positions twelve trombones around a wilderness lake.* Because the idea of a con ductor is anti-thetical to the piece’s listening experience, all musicians play from full scores. Still, the distance between musicians poses prob lems of coordination that Schafer resolves by having a raft in the centre of the lake from which two people coor The CBC coaaissioned usic for Wilderness Lake and the Canadian troabone enseable Sonaré premiered the piece on a wilderness lake in cen tral Ontario in September 1979, The premiere is documented on film (by Fichman-Sweete) and tape (by CBC Radio). Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 23 radically decenters the modern human being who cultivated a unified but one-dimensional consciousness by creating a visually oriented culture based on the book. Because media do not merely extend our senses (as Mc Luhan contends) but constitute new senses (as Watson argues), the pro liferation of mass media causes a proliferation of senses. Humans liv ing with the postmodern, then, are moving towards multi-consciousness. Like the new media, this state of awareness is aurally and not visually structured. In Watson’s view, the theatre of the absurd is a step towards radical absurdity. In “Towards a Canadian Theatre,” he writes: “What theatre of the absurd is about, is the birth of a new kind of mind, through the labour pangs of the old simple-minded book mind” (58). We can glean some characteristics of the theatre of the absurd from Esslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd. dinate the music with coloured flags In congruence with John Cage’s non-traditional defini tion of music, Music for Wil derness Lake recasts our con ception of music because Scha fer’s insistence on site- specificity ensures that the sounds of the wilderness lake become part of his composi tion. However, in being part of the composition, these sounds have changed their semiotic import because Scha fer has re-inscribed them with a new (musical) meaning. This re-inscription exemplifies the allegorical gesture that takes off from Schafer’s perception of loss, be it the loss of the human capacity to listen pro- * In his ‘Composer’s Notes,’ Schafer provides an account of how the piece developed (Music for Wilderness Lake n, pag). During the premiere, Murray Schafer and his wife Jean semaphored the cues to the musicians, Prel ode Allegories of the Postinodern 24 Esslin’s principal representatives of the theatre of the absurd are Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugene lonesco and Jean Genet. Their plays from the l950s for the most part tackle a “me taphysical anguish at the absurdity of the human condition” (23-24) in such a way that their form, as much and even more than their content, presents this anguish. Characteristic of these plays are elementary situations with which the audience readily identifies. Related to this presentation is the fact that the theatre of the absurd often reduces language to a subordi nate role (395-98). Esslin specifi cally comments on this reduction of language in order to set the theatre of the absurd off from traditional, literary theatre. Watson’s theatre provides a con trast to these characteristics. Where the theatre of the absurd presents el ementary situations, Watson presents highly complex and even incomprehen sible settings. Furthermore, Watson’s perly to the sounds of a wil derness lake or the loss of these sounds themselves. The intense melancholic contempla tion of this loss has rendered the soundscape of a wilderness lake meaningless or dead to Schafer. In an unspeakable and unheard way then, Scha fer’s piece contains the very possibility of the death of a wilderness lake. By means of his melancholic mourning, he is recreating this soundscape in an enhanced version, as it were, with trombones.” In order to grasp the full import of Schafer’s allegori cal gesture in Music for Wil * The term “soundscape’ is Schafer’s. Re defines it as follows: “I call the acoustic en vironment the soundscape, by which I mean the to tal field of sounds wherever we are. It is a word derived from landscape, though, unlike it, not strictly limited to the outdoors’ (A Sound Education 8). The term has become widely ac cepted and is used as a key term in musicological and ecological discourses to describe acoustic environments. Prelude Allegories of the Postiodern 25 settings are peopled with allegorical and mythical characters that require a fair amount of prior knowledge to be understood in the contexts Watson lays out for them. Inaccessibility, for Watson, seems to be a virtue that he tries to achieve at all cost. Watson also denounces the reduc tion of language as a trend he does not wish to emulate. In “Towards a Canadian Theatre,” he characterizes language as a mode of behavior that slowly metamorphoses into environmen tal language. In his view, the theatre must learn to speak that new language and not escape it (55). Watson’s diverse experiments in the notation of poetry betray his in terest in the sounding poem where he tries to initiate a dialogue between the eye and the ear of the recipient. He perceives this dialogue, which he considers essential to effective poetry, to be largely absent in poetry. McLuhan’s media theory provides an explanation for this ab derness Lake, it is necessary to shift the scrutiny of the composition and the author’s underlying motivations to a scrutiny of the recipients and the composition’s effects on them. On the one hand, the recipients become aware of the ritual of going to a wilder ness lake--a journey that may (depending on the remoteness of the lake) take on qualities of a pilgrimage. As well, coming to the shore of a wil derness lake in order to listen to trombones playing in uncommon surroundings is a ritual that turns a group of individuals into a community devoted to one activity, name ly apprehending the soundscape of a wilderness lake through Schafer’s music. Most people live in urban environments and seldom have the opportunity to listen to a natural sound- Prelude Allegories of the Postmodern 26 sence. McLuhan argues that since the invention of the printing press we have lived in a culture determined by the book and the eye. In this way, the rise of a visual culture put an end to the aural culture of the pre Gutenberg era. At present, however, electro-acoustic media force us to switch back to an aural culture, a de velopment that leads to a pre dominance of orality: Empathic identification with all the oral modes is not difficult in our century. n the electronic age which succeeds the typo graphic and mechanical era of the past five hundred years, we encounter new shapes and structures of human interdependence and of expression which are oral” in form even when the components of the situation may be non-verbal. (The Gutenberg Galaxy 2-3) In other words, there is a con temporary shift from a predominance of the eye back to the ear. Watson wants to reflect this shift in his poetry through a dialogue between the eye and the ear. In his Number Grid Verse (NGV) notation, Watson in my view aims at such a dialogue between eye and ear. Accordingly, he claims that in NGV, a scape, a circumstance ly adds to the impact ritual. By exposing the recipients to the impending loss of an endangered soundscape (one which Schafer in fact per ceives as already lost), he tries to foster an attitude in the recipients that would make them become actively involved in attempts to preserve na ture. In other words, Schafer does not aim at a temporary transportation of participants and recipients, but rather he intends a permanent trans formation.* Schafer writes: Several performers assured me that the natural soundscape of the lake affected them and was affected by their playing; others said that the experience provoked pantheistic sensa tions. All agreed that the event (unlike many traditional I use the terms transportation” and transformation as suggested by Richard Schech ner (Between Theatre and Anthropology 4; see also chapter five). that on- of the Prelude Allegories of tile Postnioderii 27 transformation from visual to acoustic space occurs, in which the eye has to sort words and numerals into groups for the ear to recognize. For this transformation to occur, the reader must perform the NGV. Performance also enhances the polyphonic possi bilities of multi-voiced NGV which stacks several voices, as in “hokku times three”: 1 momently momently 1 following following 2 a 2 readimix 3 a 3 concrete-mixer 3 over readimix 4 concrete-mixer the 4 high over 5 the 5 and level 5 bridge high 6 level below 6 and 6 below bridge 7 flowing 7 the the 7 north below 8 below north 8 saskatchewan saskatchewan 8 river 9 below 9 river 9 flowing (I Begin With Counting n. pag.) NGV illustrates Watson’s working meth od in that he re-invents an old form, concerts) would never be forgotten--a reaction echoed by a few visitors who accompanied us to Wilderness Lake for that first performance in September 1979. (1usic for Wilderness Laken. pag) A ritualistic and subtle (allegorical) instruction thus evokes in the recipients a similar experience of loss as is at the root of Schafer’s composition. In Patria, Scha fer uses similar methods as in Music for Wilderness Lake in his attempt to instruct the audience. In the process of expanding the cycle from a trilogy to twelve parts, Scha fer felt it necessary to in troduce Patria with a separate prologue, The Princess of the Stars. This prologue provokes considerable revaluation and recontextualization of Patria 1: The Characteristics Man. The recontextualization of The Characteristics Man functions primarily to instruct the Prelude Allegories of the Postinodern 28 the Japanese haiku. A haiku consists of 17 syllables; Watson’s number grids consist of 17 slots. These slots, however, can be left empty or filled with words, phrases or entire sen tences. Watson also preserves in NGV an overall reliance on precise sensory images which is a constitutive feature of the haiku. spectators on how to become a community, just as it tells the performing ensemble how to become a team creating “co opera,” as it were.* Hence the ritual as allegory be comes, by dint of its instruc tive slant, the allegory as ritual. Schafer’s rituals, then, are contingent on his authority as allegorist. * The tera is Schafer’s (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 36). 29 Chapter 2 Visions of Beginning Before immersing myself in theory, I would like to con sider briefly the worlds these two artists have created. I do not intend to provide full-fledged analyses in this chapter. As a matter of course, references to my theoretical apparatus are few and take the form of an occasional foreshadowing. What I do intend, however, is to transport my reader into a state of benign apprehension in which an intuitional reading of the se lected texts is possible. I contend that the more Watson and Schafer tend towards the reconstructive end of the postmodern continuum, the more they exhort such intuitions from their audience. Wilfred Watson and II. Murray Schafer have both created works that seem inaccessible. Watson’s poetry and drama seem, on first sight, very abstract and not at all concerned with a recipient’s understanding of them. Schafer’s Patria, likewise, seems at first overwhelming because of its many sequels and its use of many different media. Nonetheless, both authors also write shorter texts that serve to mediate between their idio syncratic works and what they view and construct as larger, ex planatory contexts. The “Sermon on Bears” section of Watson’s Poems and Schafer’s Music in the Cold sketch visions of Canada and its art that serve as programs for their allegories of the postmodern. Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 30 Decolonizing the North: Schafer’s “Music in the Cold” Formally, Music in the Cold consists of five discrete but unmarked sections. These sections present Schafer’s North (that is, his construction of what he believes is “North”), his views on how modern society exploits this North, and his projections of how this North will take revenge on modern society and how humans can live in harmony with this North. In section I, consisting of 71 lines,* he describes an art and life style of the North and situates himself as “a Northerner.” In section II, he describes the colonization of the North and the foundation of “Canada,” here thought to be an economic construct furthering the exploitation of the * I am referring to the reprint of Music in the Cold in Schafer’s On Canadian Music 64-74, cited hereafter as MIC. Section 1 is on pp. 64-66. Obscuring the Program: Watson’s “Sermon on Bears” The “Sermon on Bears”- section of Watson’s Poems in cludes “Laurentian Man,” “A Manifesto for Beast Poetry,” and “Sermon on Bears.” Watson first published these poems be tween 1959 and l96l.* They originate in the period of reorientation in which Watson started writing plays. In these poems, Watson re lates how he views Canadian artists and audiences. More over, he sketches in a program matic fashion the outlines of a new art that would redefine the * ‘Laurentian Man’ was first published in Prism 1,1 (September 1959); A Manifesto for Beast Poetry in Canadian Literature 3 (Winter 1969); and ‘Sermon on Bears in Prism 2,2 (Winter 1961). Throughout this chapter, 1 refer to their reprint in Poems 45-58. Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 31 North. This section has 40 lines (66- 68). In section III, Schafer presents a “Canada” that prospers because of the ruthless pursuit of progress. This section is the longest and takes up 121 lines (68-71). In the following sec tion (IV), Schafer describes the repos session of the North by the North. This decline of “Canada” takes up 55 lines (71-73). In the fifth and last section, taking up 45 lines (73-74), Schafer sketches a new beginning for himself and a handful of people who stay behind after the breakdown of Canada. Sections I and V function like a frame within which we are invited to behold the exploitation of the North and its recovery and revenge. This frame is intensely personal, allegori cal and utopian. Schafer, thus, provides the listener with his beliefs about how and why mod ern Canadian society violates the North as he understands it. Moreover, he sketches an alternative life-style that would cease violating his North. How- relationship between artist and audience. I see the “Sermon on Bears” poems as a key to Wat son’s allegorical method as he employs it in his plays and riddles. The keynote in this program is a movement from pas sive observation to ritual istic, active participation. From this perspective, a melan cholic Watson experiences art as dead and creates a new per- formative paradigm that quick ens art again. However, Watson is enough of a skeptic to ques tion the probability of his program. In this way, he ironically subverts his program and his status as a melancholic author/creator. Watson’s “Laurentian Man” (Poems 47-49) recounts the his tory of cultural colonialism by rewriting the Judaic-Christian creation myth. Watson glosses the title “Laurentian Man” with Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 32 ever, I also see Music in the Cold as an introduction to Schafer’s allegori cal method. From this perspective, I behold a melancholic author/creator who uses the (self-proclaimed) death of his world to shape it according to his views and beliefs. But let us start with a close reading of the text. In Music in the Cold, Schafer con structs the North in contrast to the South: Northern geography is all form. Southern geography is color and tex ture’ (MIC 65). With regard to life style and energy consumption, he asso ciates the North with conservation, while the South, in his view, is opu lent. From these characteristics, Schafer expands his dichotomous notion of the North and South to the point where it produces distinct and, of course, dichotomous kinds of art: in the North, he detects the “art of re straint” and in the South the “art of excess” (65). The former consists in “tiny events,” while the latter con sists in “fat events that don’t matter” (65). a Latin phrase “Homo novissimum canadiensis” (47), which means “the new Canadian man.” This footnote adds the Latin name of the species much in the manner of the scientific discourse of anthropology. The first line of the poem, however, alludes to the creation myth before repeating the technical term, so that mythical and scientific discourses exist ironically side by side: “When indefati gable God decided to make a new man, homo canadiensis” (47). This ironic tone is ex tended by introducing words that question the creation myth and in this way subvert its au thority. God is called “in defatigable” and a “pioneer of creation.” He has to try three times to make the Laurentian Shield bring forth life, “of a sort,” as the narrator ironi cally comments. Once God has Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 33 Schafer’s construction consists of a number of dichotomies positing North and South as the two poles of a con tinuum. The assumption of such a con tinuum allows him to integrate the sea sons into his view of a timeless con test between North and South: Between [northern glacier and southern jungle], rolling land gasses becoae forifial in winter and technicolor in suaer as the claw of the arctic stretches south then leaps back to escape the flatulence of the tropics, (65) This passage, then, reveals that Scha fer’s North is not ‘North of 60.” Ra ther, his North is in his mind--it is merely a lifestyle tenuously dependent on northern characteristics, such as cold, snow and wolves. At any rate, in the preface to Music in the Cold, Scha fer admits that his North is “in south- central Ontario near Algonquin Park” (64). To Schafer, it seems, “North” serves as a particularly apt metaphor for depicting certain strategies of preserving wilderness and developing lifestyles that depend on regional characteristics and do not exploit them. As well, this metaphor tends created the Laurentian man, the narrator remarks about God: “He all but gave up the ghost, / Self-crucified in a wanton act of creation” (47). The image of God Watson creates is quite unlike that of the original creation myth. All of these comments make up an ironic sub- text to the retelling of the creation myth. It is against this subtext that we read Wat son’s description of Eve’s creation and of cultural colo nialism in stanzas 5 to 7. Creating an Eve for his Adam is a quasi sexual act for God. Brushing aside all doubts, God creates Eve from Adam’s backbone “as if engaged in seduction” (48). To make Adam stand up to his Eve, God decides that “although she is all backbone, he must be edu cated” (48, emphasis in ori ginal). The ensuing colonial- Visions Allegories of the Postrnodern 34 towards dichotomizations because once one is in the north, east and west dis appear as positional markers and every other position is south so that one’s worldview is reduced to “here’ (north) and “not-here” (south). The method underlying Schafer’s con struction of the North is reminiscent of the manichean dichotomies that colonialism erects in order to deal with anOther it encounters on alien territory. Commonly, these dichotomies acquire moral and even metaphysical connotations that expand into allego ries. An example is racial difference in colonial discourses.* That Schafer in this first section of Music in the Cold uses this method with similar mo ral and metaphysical connotations re veals that his discourse on the North is not yet a discourse of the North. In other words, Schafer must overcome colonialist patterns of conceptualizing See Abdul R. Janohamed’s “The Economy of ianichean Allegory: The Function of Racial Difference in Colonialist Literature. ist education presents a bas tion of male dominance. In God’s mind, a “good foreign, European, education” consists entirely of studying male art ists and their works: for music, Wagner, Brahms, Beet hoven; for painting, Rubens and Rembrandt; for literature, Rabelais and Shakespeare; for dramatic characters, Julius Caesar and Coriolanus (48). Yet to God’s surprise and dis appointment the Canadian Adam is unimpressed with these Euro pean achievements: 0, this new man’s soul was cut from such dead granite, That, though his professors tried all their wit, God had to call them off, lest culture itself perish. (48) The interpretation of this pas sage seems to turn on how one reads the adjective “dead.” What does it mean that a soul is cut from dead granite’? The first response would be to read Visiolls Allegories of the Postmodern 35 the world before he can truly capture his North. Notwithstanding the colonialist pat terns, Schafer reverses the dichoto mies: it is not, as usual, the colo nizer who is “good,” but the colonized. In this way, Schafer assimilates his North into a morally spotless sphere of self-discipline and necessary energy conservation, while the South emerges as a wasteful and voluptuous presence: Of necessity, conservation of energy begins in the North. It begins with lean stoaach and strong bow. Prodigality is centred in the South, and the waste of energy begins at the aouth. (MIC 65) Furthermore, these dichotomies give rise to a consideration of the northern soundscape and its impact on the con tent and form of northern art. Schafer embraces this consideration as a means of instruction to “those accustomed to fat events that don’t matter [because] to them the winter soundscape is ‘si lent’ as snow is merely ‘white’” (65). As a matter of course, the text also addresses them directly, positing that anyone who reads Music in the Cold is ‘dead” as indicating “unrespon sive.” However, the dead gra nite is merely unresponsive to the culture with which it is confronted, namely the imported European “master” pieces. Wat son goes on to show that the Canadian Adam responds to in digenous poetry. Taking Sa tan’s advice, God exposes Adam to Irving Layton and Louis Du dek. Watson quotes the opening line of Layton’s “The Birth of Tragedy” which touches Adam to ecstacy: “And me happiest . When I compose poems” (49). Dudek proclaims triumphantly that Adam is “the new reader poetry requests” (49). Layton and Dudek had an al most controlling influence on the Canadian poetry of the l940s and SOs through their journal First Statement (founded in the early 1940s) which in 1945 merged with an- Visions Allegories of the Postijiodern 36 in need of instruction in this matter: “The scene yp miss is the white hunter with the white bow stalking the white animal’ (65, emphasis added). In the remainder of this first sec tion, and with the words “I am a North erner” (66), Schafer asserts himself and maintains that he is part of his North. He goes on to direct attention to a particularly northern triad of meaning--survival, soundscape, art: With my axe I resist the environment, shape a log house, and cut firewood to warm it. The strident clap of my axe rings against the forest by day, and by night my fire plays tunes in the stove. (66) It is from this triad, according to Schafer, that northern artists draw their strength. There is no waste; everything has a purpose. Even the gesture of applause has a practical function besides expressing aesthetic pleasure: I am the unpainted observer in a Group of Seven painting, squatting behind the painter in the snow. I know the physical delights and discomforts of holding my position before the First Snow in Algoma or Above Lake Superior, and I know that what makes Harris or Thomson great painters is that they could hack it in the bush. I slap my hands together, partly in ap preciation, partly to keep warm. (66) other Montréal journal (Pre view> under the title Northern Review. Watson thus replaces one set of “master”-poets with an indigenous one; he does not suggest that Dorothy Livesay or P.K. Page are the new Canadian poets. Poetry stays in the realms defined by European (masculine> modernism because Layton and Dudek were also in fluenced by European modernism, a circumstance that makes them even less different from their European counterparts. To the narrator of “Lau rentian Man,” they write poetry overwrought with emotion and sentimentality which is com municated in too obvious a man ner: Layton “sings,” “sighs” and even “semaphores” until Adam is reduced to “a sentimen tal concrete windmill,” help lessly exposed to the onslaught of Layton’s poetry and Dudek’s Visions Allegories of the Postinodern 37 This triad--survival, soundscape, art—- is not dialectical, for dialectics is another pattern of “universal” concep tualization that would be imposed on the North. It is a constellation that emerges from and re-informs the local. Moreover, none of the three terms domi nates any of the others. As soon as this constellation is transformed into a dialectic, it is thrown off balance. In other words, if a society in north ern territory violates, negates, ele— yates or hides one or more of the tri adic components in favor of others, Schafer’s North becomes unbalanced. As a result, he denounces the violating society as an artificial economic con struct whose only raison d’être is the exploitation of the North. In the ensuing section, depicting colonialism and the emergence of Canada on northern ground, Schafer describes acerbically but recognizably the haughty 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 swiing pools. lecturing. This kind of in digenous poetry reduces the recipient through sentimental ity to passivity, a response diametrically opposed to that of the performative poetry Wat son calls for in “A Manifesto for Beast-Poetry.” The metaphor that controls the remaining poems and extends them into allegories is that of the beast and the wildness and freedom associated with it. Beast-poetry is a new poetry that comes from the “inner beast’ of the poet, which is to say from some usually, and to ordinary human beings, inacces sible essence of experience. This essence of experience emerges as a part of the Self that is also anOther; it is liminal, something the poet desires but also fears. Watson detects this essence in the single-minded determination to Visions Allegories of the Postinodern 38 Great art is not kept in a refrigerator. You need to mediterraneanize your exist ence You also need people. Your cities are too small--too out of touch. (MIC 67) For the seemingly disinterested project of breeding culture, then, the colo nialist powers send people and “know how.” Schafer, however, at once un veils this project as a sham, for the underlying motive for their friendli ness is that their resources are run ning out: They had culture and empire. Why were they speaking to me? It seems their resources were running out. They needed resources to carry forward their empires. If I would send them the resources, they would send me ‘da people.’ They did not wait for an answer. (67) Changes to the North include an in creased population (“1 became we” [67], which signifies a shift in narrative perspective) and a reliance on the world economy. As a result, the new society violates one of the triadic components and disrupts the triad’s in ternal equivalence: the market economy, which replaces survival, dominates soundscape and art so completely that it threatens them with extinction. As fulfill a purpose that goes hand in hand with the reduction to a machine: The ant-eater is a machine for eating ants. The lion is a machine for eating antelopes. The ant is a machine for eating dead cats, etcetera etcetera. (53) Beast-poetry focuses energy on passion; “it is the blood cry ing” (50). This metaphor with its connotations of primitive passion and determination rein forces and further extends the metaphor of the beast by creat ing an ancestral legitimacy. One is reminded at this point of T.S. Eliot’s notion of poetic tradition and the “his torical sense” which aids a poet in situating himself in past and present alike (“Tradi tion” 27). Yet Watson rejects this kind of tradition in stanzas 11 and 12. He also gives credit to T.S. Eliot for a “wonderful beast’s nose for Visions Allegories of the Postrnodern 39 a matter of course, Canada replaces the North, or, more precisely, Schafer’s Canada replaces Schafer’s North because they are both his constructs. Progress, Schafer implies in Music in the Cold, is one of the meaning- creating forces in a modern society. He links it to an economy based upon the expectation of unlimited growth. As a matter of course, then, the urge to quantify “achievements is intrinsic to this society and leads to a ‘belief in quantification as the defining character of the real--a character istic that Robert Frodeman described as the foundation of modern society (“Radical Environmentalism and the Political Roots of Postmodernism” 308). Schafer takes this belief in pro gress to its logical extreme. But he also points to a necessary side effect of quantification, namely that in a world where only numbers count, so to speak, humaneness retreats: Everything was reckoned in billions. ‘There is no difference between one and a billion,’ said the statisticians, except the decimal point.’ images.” Ultimately, however, he rejects Eliot because “his beast-images are screens for thought” (Poems 54). Men commonly use words for expression or to give structure to human acts: Whether a man dances or whether a man makes music or whether he gestures or paints a picture or carves sculptures (or simply is) words keep recurring, It isn’t sufficient merely to dance, this won’t do for a man. Re must dance a madrigal. He must caper to the words of a ballad. (55) Being “the most dumbing of all human acts” (55), beast-poetry. however, uses words in a new way, not in order to think, speak or communicate, but to be, as experiences in them selves: Let us understand this, that beast-poetry uses words in a totally new way, it uses words as experiences. It excludes speech. Beast-poetry is profoundly un eloquent. Words are used so as to be, not to speak. (55) Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 40 A few individualists argued: ‘If a man has a soul, then a billion men have 069 609 000 000 1 of a soul each. That was the dif ference, they said. But the statisticians were counting, products and profits and immigrants. The soul went into hiding. (IIC 70) In Music in the Cold, quantifications of progress and growth are used to com pare one person with others and ulti mately with the entire world: We began to prosper. We became richer. We became one of the richest nations in the world. We became the most powerful nation in the world. (68-69) Yet Schafer’s Canada is only “the most powerful nation” with respect to those standards that colonialism mistakenly believes to be universal. He considers all those values that grow out of the place, or out of the North, to be out of sync with the modern age and, hence, in need of being replaced. The result is a hostile takeover, as it were. The soundscape of Canada becomes more and more mechanical. “Fierce, noisy computers” control everything, and in the higher echelons of the ad ministration one can hear the ‘hissing air conditioners” (70, 71). Although Perhaps Watson is pointing in this stanza at his reinter pretation of McLuhan’s media theory. In his view, media do not extend sense (as McLuhan claimed) but they make sense. In beast-poetry, words do not represent or express a reality, but they are a reality on their own. As a result, beast-poetry provides access to other modes of consciousness that juxtapose different realities and are situated in the media them selves. In McLuhan’s view, however, media extend sense from an inner consciousness. In his introduction to Poems, Thomas Peacocke notes that Watson has regarded lan guage as “a unique material from which to create unique ef fects” (Poems xix, Peacocke is quoting From Cliché to Ar chetype). Peacocke suggests that these “unique effects” Visions A]legories of the Postinodern 41 pro- out come about largely through per— formance: In the poems in the sorrowful canadians, I begin with counting, mass on cowback, and now in riddles, there is for me a per formance imperative, (Poems xviii) Seeking a vehicle to achieve that “performance imperative,” Watson turned first from the mythopoeic Friday’s Child to theatre and then in the 1970s with The Sorrowful Canadians and Number Grid Verse to per- formative poetry. In the l980s, Watson combined theatre and performative poetry in his play Gramsci x 3. “A Manifesto for Beast- Poetry” can be seen as Watson’s way of sketching what he is trying to achieve as a Canadian artist. His vision of beast- poetry projects an indigenous and original Canadian art form that is best realized in per formance and that has an apoca these interventions into the soundscape represent the final “triumph” of modern “man” over nature, they only betray the nihilistic motive of destroying the natural soundscape by putting something in its place or overlaying the hi-fi sounds with the lo-fi rumblings of ma chinery. * Furthermore, Schafer associates gress with the attempt of shutting the natural soundscape while still taking in the visual pleasures of the outside world: “We lived in glass houses hundreds of feet in the air” (MIC 69). Recently, Schafer has ex panded his thoughts on this modern trend in living. In an article entitled “The Glazed Soundscape,” he describes how the increased use of * I use “hi-fi’ and lo-fi to describe the soundscape. In The Tuning of the or1d, Schafer defines hi-fi as an “abbreviation for high fidelity, that is, a favorable signal-to-noise ratio. The most general use of the term is in electroacoustics, Applied to soundscape studies a hi-fi environment is one in which sounds may be heard clearly without crowding or masking,” “Lo-fi” is an abbreviation for low fidelity, that is, an unfavorable signal-to-noise ratio. Applied to soundscape studies a lo fi environment is one in which signals are overcrowded, resulting in masking or lack of clarity (The Tuning of the ld 272). Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 42 glass in our society causes a division between “here’ and ‘there” that matches a division between the senses. ‘Some of the glass in which we have sheathed our lives [must be] shattered” in order to heal the division that prevents us from “inhabit[ing] a world in which all the senses interact instead of being ranked in opposition” (“The Glazed Soundscape” 5). With regard to the northern soundscape, the results are devastat ing. Yet modern society’s impact on the arts is no less concrete because Canadians restructure their arts in im itation of those of the colonial powers. The results are at first neg ligible, to say the least: We set up institutions just like theirs: art galleries, orchestras, arts councils. We pub lished books and made films just like them. We copied them carefully and lifelessly. They did not read our books or look at our paintings. We did not read our books or look at our paintings. Our culture products went into everybody’s waste basket. (MIC 68) Eventually, however, as Canada becomes economically more powerful, modern Canadian art gains international recog lyptic air about it as indi cated by the reference to W.B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming”: It is excusable in a Canadian to believe that the great beast- poetry slouches towards Toronto to be born. (5) In “Sermon on Bears,” the beast metaphor is further ex tended but specified to the “mystery of bears . . . poets of our wilderness” (57). In this poem, Watson suggests that the apocalypse of beast-poetry may fail to come about because there is neither freedom nor wildness left in our “machine” (58) of living. The sanctua ries we have set aside for the poets/bears compromise every thing we cherish in them, name ly “the beast we never are” (57). In this way poets/bears could only survive if we changed radically: let us therefore abandon . those whom we cannot save--without a revision of heart we obviously have no mind for; Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 43 nition too: “Our novelists were trans lated into forty languages and were read on Korean buses and in Bulgarian barber shops” (68). Modernist high art manifests similar claims to universa lity as does colonialism. But soon thereafter the lifestyle of Canadians jeopardizes this achievement: Artists disputed over the importance of in dividuality. Some still painted originals, but the suc cessful ones did everything in multiple copies, and the really popular ones printed everything up in lots of a billion. Artists who continued only to produce originals remained poor after poverty had been abolished, It was a tricky situation. They argued that true art was labour- intensive, demanding hours of work in produc tion and appreciation. It suddenly became clear that labour and art were correlatives. (79) In Schafer’s view, the result is that popular postmodern culture replaces high modern art. The former has the additional advantage of fitting into the market economy; in other words, art as entertainment turns a profit for its creators, who manage it like a busi ness: Let us borrow the dead word art, . and use it to transfigure entertainment. The reason for getting into these fields is to be financially successful. (71) knowing at the bottom of our hearts, that with progress all poetry ends, (58) However, Watson stops short of suggesting how we could ‘re vise’ our hearts to save the bears. This is the more damag ing since Watson identifies ‘progress” as the adversary of poetry. Hence the bears/poets provide access to anOther of progress. This Other is a freedom and wildness not found in a progress-oriented society, which is why the bears/poets are in a liminal position. In “Sermon on Bears,” human so ciety is about to eradicate those occupying that liminal position and to lose access to anOther. The poem is a bleak warning; a loss occurs, and Watson does not make any at tempt to fill the void that the loss bestows on us all. The three allegories in the “Sermon on Bears” section Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 44 Once Canada reaches this point of cultural development, Schafer mentions the credo of the modern world: ‘You can’t turn back” (72). This dictum shelters several connections to modern progress. In his essay “A Post- Historic Primitivism,” Paul Shepard poignantly describes some of these con nections: On the one hand, Schafer gives the dic turn a somewhat more hesitant form than Shepard in saying “You can’t turn back” instead of “You can’t gç back.” On the other hand, he makes it more forceful than Shepard by avoiding the “physical rationalizations” of why we cannot turn back and confronting the readers with the eventual (and natural) decline of Canada. In this way, Schafer forces sketch a program that I des cribe as follows: The Canadian poet must try to create a per- formative paradigm to which her or his Canadian audience can actively (rather than passively and sentimentally) respond. If this paradigm cannot be achieved, Canadians had better give up all efforts at creating indigenous poetry. I think it is fair to say that Watson intentionally ob fuscates his program by means of an ironic subtext. His in tention to be enigmatic will emerge in his plays as well, where he hints at his refusal to take a stance. Watson con veys his position more directly in an article on his collabora tion with Marshall McLuhan. Apparently the two men developed very different strategies for approaching their project: You can’t go back’ shelters a number of corollaries, Most of these are physical rationalizations--too many people in the world, too much commitment to technology or its social and economic systems, ethical and moral ideas that make up civilized sensibili ties, and the unwillingness of people to sur render to a less interesting, cruder, or more toilsome life, from which time and progress delivered us. This progress is the work of technology. 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 45 his readers to “turn back,” at least for a moment. Schafer describes the beginning of the end, as it were, in terms of anoth er ‘change” to the soundscape: A loudspeaker dangled from every laffip-post providing a relaxed background of ‘noozie’ through the streets. (MIC 71) To Schafer, this degenerated soundscape symbolizes the ultimate decadence of the leisure society. When the North assaults Canada with cold, snow, and wolves, this society cannot put up much resistance. The people can only choose to leave (which millions do [731) or ‘to surrender to a less interesting, cruder, or more toilsome life.” Tongue in cheek, Schafer repeats the dictum of progress four times, as though probing it for its truth content, until he adds the decisive and shattering tag ques tion: 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 sig nificantly with the howling of wolves. Schafer then transforms this howling Marshall McLuhan’s insistence was on the book, and getting it writ ten, Mine, I confess, was on the dialogue, wherever it night lead us to. (Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness” 198) To Watson, it seems, the argu ments that McLuhan wanted to foreclose, write down and fix on paper were still in flux, open for discussion, which im plies open for revision too.* Of course, being open to ongo ing revision is a stance that takes knowledge and wisdom as constantly changing and not in need of definition. The ironic tone of Watson’s allegories serves to subvert and question any fixed stance we may want to attribute to him. At the end of the poems, the readers often return to the titles in order to find the crumb of illumination that the The different approaches of McLuhan and Watson led to a number of problems in their collaboration, see chapter 4. Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 46 into numbers--not into the quantifying numbers of the “Canadian” age, but into the absence of quantity: Wolves howled derisively at night--0000 0000 0000 Zero Zero Zero. (73) Out of this absence of quantity grows the absence of (mechanical) noise: “All is still” (73). In Schafer’s view, this is the perfect stillness for the few people left to contemplate what went wrong and how to start anew. Those who stay behind “turn back” in that they integrate into their lives elements of older, perhaps even “primi tive,” societies, such as sitting around a campfire: Around the campfire sit young men looking forward to the future and old men looking back at the past. But the middle-aged man looks in both directions. That is his advantage. The last word will be his, (73) Situated between future and past as though undergoing a rite of passage, the middle-aged man is in a position of liminality. He alone, Schafer claims, is capable of learning from past mis- poem itself withheld. Perhaps a reconsideration of the title in light of the entire poem will further unlock its sig nificance. There is indeed some merit to such reconsidera tions because of the many gen eric titles in Watson’s poetry. As we shall see, these titles manipulate the reading process in subtle ways. A generic title describes either form or generic content or both of the poem. Watson has assigned generic titles to many of his poems. For exam ple, in Friday’s Child, 13 out of 31 poems bear generic titles. Some of them describe the form of the poem (song, ballad, lines, letter); some describe the generic content (admiration, valediction, con tempt, curse), while others describe both form and generic Zero Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 47 takes and of projecting a better fu ture. At this point, Schafer recovers the “I” that he lost to the “we” earlier on. The “middle-aged man,” the “1” and Schafer himself become indistinguish able in the conclusion of Music in the Cold because the middle-aged man is survivor, inventor (of “unknown instru ments’), and artist in one person. The middle-aged man/”I”/Schafer seeks to occupy a liminal position because liminality situates him “outside” the system--outside any system. He recog nizes what was wrong with the art of Schafer’s Canada, but at this point he is not speaking about Canada or, for that matter, any modern society: “Art within the constraints of a system is political action in favour of that system, regardless of content” (74). The middle-aged man/”I”/Schafer, final ly, reminds us of seemingly timeless values. As well, he remembers a con cept of time that is rooted in space or in the natural rhythms of a region: content (invocation, canticle, love song). In the “Bawl of Wool” sec tion of Poems, which follows chronologically after Friday’s Child, the generic titles are clearly dominant: 99 out of 101 poems bear such titles. All poems in the subsection “Let ters to the Bach. of Wire” ap pear to bear the generic title “letter” because all 34 poems have the title “. . . to the bachelor of wire.” The 67 poems in the subsection “poems by Jenny Blake” have the fol lowing generic titles: pome (46), lines (11), poem (3), ode, song, epilogue, sonnet and dialogue (each 1). In Sorrowful Canadians & Other Poems / Les Malheureux, 39 out of 47 poems bear generic titles. Watson here employs Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 48 The old technology of waste is gone. What then remains? The old virtues: harmony; the universal soul; hard work. will live supersensitized, the antennae of 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 the Cold, Schafer continues what he began in the first, but with the additional experience of what can go wrong. The last and first sections serve as orien tation points that help us to anchor Schafer’s vision; they constitute an unchanging frame within which some ag gressive developments occur. Their calmness contrasts with these develop ments. Schafer wants us to take our time to consider this contrast and find some comfort in the confidence with which he speaks at the end. The mono tonous, almost hypnotic, repetitions at the end of Music in the Cold are hard to escape. They express the confidence that we need to weather the new ice age” announced at the beginning. To be sure, one can explain the breakdown of Canada on the level of his new ?modularI* form of composition in which he dif ferentiates the components of the poem by using a number of typefaces. Frequently, such modules consist of a single line alternating with other modules of lines. Thus, the modular composition explains the prevalence of the title “lines,’ which occurs 32 times. Other generic titles are: poems (4), song, birthday lines and postscript (each 1). Of the 77 poems in the NGV volumes I Begin with CountinR and Mass on Cowback, 55 bear generic titles. I also include “re,’ which occurs 32 times, because it aids in describing the 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 49 content as the eventual and natural breakdown of an artificial construct that simply does not work. However, I think another reading of Schafer’s vi sion complements the one thus far given in that it tells us something about Murray Schafer the artist and his meth ods of composing his works. When Music in the Cold was repub lished in 1984 in On Canadian Music, Schafer included a prefatory paragraph giving some background information on the text. He writes: In 1974 1 moved with my wife to an abandoned farm in south-central Ontario near Algonquin Park. . . The natural and social environ ment of my life changed completely, . . We shared the fields and forest around the house with birds and wild animals, often not seeing people for days. The soundscape was ideal. The rhythms of this life were beginning to af fect my musical thinking even though the in fluence was not yet precisely evident in the works I was writing. Music in the Cold was written as a kind of manifesto in advance of the work I knew would follow. (MIC 64) Schafer’s depiction of Music in the Cold as “a kind of manifesto” raises several questions. On the one hand, it adequately pinpoints the enunciatory qualities of the text. To the extent that the text announces a “new mytholo The most recent of Watson’s published poems are the NGV riddles, which make up the last section of Poems. Of the 40 poems in this section 37 bear generic titles: riddle (32), sonnet (6), haiku and re (each 1) The reading process for Watson’s poetry is often cir cular in that it starts and ends with a consideration of the titles. In most instances, readers expect titles to pro vide some indication of a poem’s form or generic content, either concretely, abstractly or metaphorically. They turn first to the titles and return to them once the poem is fin ished in order to probe whether the titles may add another dimension that went hitherto unnoticed. Generic titles provide a context for the readers’ ex Visions Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 50 gy,” it is indeed a statement manifest ing Schafer’s position on art and life in what he believes to be North. But enunciatory qualites are not alone con stitutive of manifestoes. For this reason, one could say that Schafer was misguided when he called Music in the Cold a manifesto. However, I contend that Schafer questions this strong link in his text. In “Re-Introducing Canadian ‘Art of the Theatre’: Herrman Voaden’s Manifesto,” Sherrill Grace describes the manifesto as a vehicle of “explication and as empowering act of validation” for avant-garde movements (62, n.l). For Schafer, the manifesto gains new impor tance as a vehicle not of an avant- garde but of another entity. This entity is not in any way linked to a certain modern concept of progress as an avant-garde unavoidably is. To the contrary, Schafer utterly discredits progress in the modern sense. As a result, it seems unfit to serve as a concept to govern a culture, and Scha pectations. It may be very broad, as in “pome,” which sug gests an orthographic variation of the word poem as well as a fruit of the apple family and is a reference to James Joyce’s Pornes Pennyeach. ‘Tome” in this way merely reminds the readers that what they are about to read is one artistic step further away from a fac tual account of the subject matter and, metaphorically speaking, has a kernel (of meaning> hidden inside. “Re” also evokes a broad context. As with “pome,” “re” points out that the poem is a construct of words, under no circumstances to be mistaken for an immediate description of the subject matter--Watson merely wrote it ‘with regard to” some subject matter. Yet the context may also be more specific, as in “riddle,’ Visions Allegories of the Postniodern 51 fer insists upon a revaluation of the central position of progress in our current view of the world. At the same time, he asks us to validate an atti tude that would bring us “back” to na ture. The work that ultimately did follow Schafer’s move to south-central Ontario included several parts of the Patria cycle which share a specific type of allegory. Beginning with the prologue to the Patria cycle, The Princess of the Stars, Schafer embarks on an al legorical project that attempts to in struct the audience in a number of rituals. What causes this will to in struct or, more pertinently, what causes this will to assert authority? Schafer’s desperate state of mind leads him to assert the authority of allegory. The vision and intense con templation of a fundamental loss gener ate this state of mind that is a form of melancholy. An example of loss is in The Princess of the Stars the loss of ritual in our daily lives. Music in which situates the recipient in the position of the ignorant but eager-to-learn riddlee and the poet in the position of the knowing and eager-to-teach riddler. Two of the three poems sketching Watson’s allegorical program bear generic titles, namely “manifesto” and “ser mon.” In “Re-introducing Canadian ‘Art of the Theatre’: Herman Voaden’s 1930 Mani festo,” Sherrill Grace charac terizes the manifesto as topos and practice. Watson’s “Mani festo for Beast-Poetry” pre sents and explains his stance on creating poetry in Canada and is an assertion of his position because it sets his (coming) poetry off against other poetry written in Canada at this time. But it is itself not an example of “beast- poetry” or of the envisioned Visions Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 52 the Cold focuses on similarly fundamen tal losses, such as on the loss of the natural soundscape, on the loss of the human capacity to appreciate the natu ral soundscape while we can, and on the loss of regional standards in favor of universal ones. In Music in the Cold, Schafer gives a number of clues as to how his melan choly transforms his attitude and how Becausehe intends to redeem the loss. modern Canada in his view has the natural soundscape of what siders North, it must decline the allegorist can start with rasa, as it were, and inscribe meaning in a new mythology.” stants of this mythology will myth and ritual. spoiled he con- so that a tabula his The con- be place, performative paradigm. Grace also describes a strong link of the manifesto with an avant- garde (62, n.l). This link is problematic in “Manifesto for Beast-Poetry” because an avant- garde defines itself through the new. Beast-poetry, on the other hand, is far too depend ent on “passionate mindless ness” (Poems 50) and an overall regression to the beast the hu man animal once was. Still, Watson uses the generic title to set a context for the readers’ expectations. He partly confirms and partly re jects this context in his poem. “Sermon,” as well, sets up such a context. It suggests more of an atmosphere than a content: the readers expect to listen to someone who can pro vide moral guidance. This at mosphere attains its full im pact only after readers have By means of his new mythology, Schafer will enlighten and instruct his audience on how to develop better ways of living in harmony with nature. At this point, we gain an insight into Schafer’s relationship with the authority of allegory. Schafer depends Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 53 on convincing his audience of his au thority, which will guarantee the vali dity of his new mythology. He exhorts his audience to take a leap of faith. We must accept Schafer as “creator” of a new mythology that will speak for all Canadians or Northerners. In accepting his authority, we all become his beings, constructs of his ideal world. Which is why it is not unwarranted to refer to the middle-aged man/”I”/Scha fer as a trinity speaking “truth” to us. Without this leap of faith, Scha fer’s art will remain ineffective and unable to build on the underlying framework that broadens it from an aesthetic sphere into a socio-political sphere. It is only in the latter ef fort that Schafer can achieve what he calls for with his allegorical project. Insofar, then, as it is a “kind of manifesto,’ Music in the Cold enun ciates a program of socio-political ac tion that, nevertheless, remains con fined to a pre-paradigmatic stage which usually defines itself in opposition to read the last words of the poem, reconsidered the title, and realized that they are a representative of the “ultimate monster” (58). That realiza tion gives voice to Watson’s exhortation of his readers to change their ways. It is significant that Wat son gives in to two opposing impulses: on the one hand, he displays the impulse to give up on the bears/poets and to pray for their re-entry into heaven, and, on the other, he acknowl edges the impulse to call for change so that the bears/poets may survive. Also significant is that Watson almost stealthi ly hints at the second impulse. This stealth reminds me of one of Suzi Gablik’s assertions: Deconstructive artistsl often work by stealth, assuming the pos ture of a sort of trickster figure, who is not going to get us out of the mess we are in but will engage in the only legitimate cultural practice possible for our Visions Allegories of the Postmodern 54 the status quo (in Music in the Cold through the use of manichean dichoto mies) . But I also suspect that in the more recent Patria works, Schafer breaks through to a new paradigm of thinking which is in harmony with the natural soundscape and in which humans repossess a place in nature that is not a privileged place at all but merely one that allows us to take part in what Schafer has so fittingly described, in another context, as the “supreme ac tivity called life” (The Tuning of the World 112). time--which is the chance, labyrinthine, manipulative play of signs without meaning. (The Reenchantment of Art: Reflections on the Two Postmodernisms’ 179) It seems to me that Watson’s stealth works both ways; that is, in the poem, it embraces a deconstructive, nihilist view in which no change is possible, but in the space between poem and title the trickster comple ments the deconstructive view and reconstructs a resistance to the outcome projected in the poem. The prevalence of generic titles in Watson’s poetry, then, reveals a will to control both readers and the reading process. This will to power is an integral part of Watson’s work and has its roots in his allegorical method. 35 Chapter 3 Foundations: The Postmodern Continuum and the 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 title brings the two terms into a relation of derivation or refer ence. Hence allegories of the postmodern are not necessarily postmodern allegories; they can also be allegories about the postmodern. I want to use the intersection of these concepts as a starting point for my discussion of the postmodern con tinuum and its deconstructive and reconstructive impulses. On the one hand, the relation of derivation addresses al legories of the postmodern as aesthetic phenomena. In my view, the impossibility of an a-political aesthetics, however, is especially conspicuous with regard to allegory. As I under stand it, the allegorical gesture provides allegorists with considerable authority because it enables them to fill what they consider a meaningless entity with their own meaning. The meaningless entity is defenseless in regard to the allegorists’ 1 Except where otherwise noted, all translations are my own, and the original passages appear in footnotes: “Whosoever does not hope for the unexpected, will never attain what s/he hopes for.” Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 56 re-inscription that either ties the entity in complicity to the status quo or engages it in redemptive projects of filling the void of a perceived loss. Both types of re-inscription inflate the allegorists’ authority beyond the entity in question and reach out to the recipient whom allegorists try to overwhelm with their newly gained authority. The redemptive projects aim at accomplishing aspects of a process that a number of theor ists have described as the “reenchantment” of the world. Suzi Gablik views the reenchantment of art as the constitutive process of an alternative, “reconstructive” postmodernism. Once I have theorized the postmodern continuum, I can situate Watson and Schafer with regard to deconstructive and recon structive postmodernism. On the other hand, the relation of reference identifies the postmodern as a broader cultural phenomenon about which al legories of the postmodern make an allegorical commentary. This allegorical commentary depends on the author(ity) of al legory that may decentre the work (as deconstructive allegories tend to do) or provide a centre to the work (as reconstructive allegories tend to do). However, the authority itself is con tingent on being accepted by the recipient in a leap of faith. Deconstructive and reconstructive postmodernists affirm this leap of faith in different ways; while the former solipsisti cally claim to manifest a crisis of meaning, the latter claim to fill the void resulting from a loss of meaning. But before approaching the postmodern, I want to outline my understanding of allegory. I build on Walter Benjamin’s Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 57 theorizations of modern2 allegory because I contend that the principles he ascribes to modern allegory (loss, melancholy, reinscription, and authority) hold for postmodern allegory as well. In Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, Walter Benjamin views the allegorical gesture as based upon the emotive state of melancholy. He describes how Lutherism denied good deeds any special powers to salvage the soul from damnation. People were thus solely dependent on their belief in God’s grace. Ac cording to Benjamin, this rigorous morality had far-reaching consequences: By denying “good deeds” the spiritual force to work miracles, Lutherism implemented in the people a strict obedience to duty but in the great men it led to melancholy.3 The root cause of this melancholy is a loss of a belief, here the belief in the salvation powers of good deeds. But the loss was not confined to theological matters. Because of an un derlying dark belief in fate that has its roots in Germanic lore, that loss gradually broadened into an existential loss of the belief in good deeds altogether. As a result, human ac 2 “Modern” here refers not to modernism, but to modernity; that is, to the socio-cultural conditions that came into being with the Renaissance. 3 “Indem [das Luthertum] die besondere geistliche Wunder wirkung [den “guten Werken”] absprach . . . hat es im Volke zwar den strengen Pflichtgehorsam angesiedelt, in semen Gro3en aber den Trübsinn” (119). Follildatiojis Allegories of the Postmodern 58 tions were robbed of value and an empty, meaningless world came about. The “great men” of that age felt the existential impasse of a meaningless world acutely. They mourned the devaluation of life: Because those [the great men] who dug deeper saw themselves thrown into a being filled with ruinous, half-hearted, false actions, Life itself protested against that.4 Benjamin encapsulates an essentialist notion of life in his description of the allegorical gesture. It is this essential ism that makes Benjamin’s theorization of allegory compatible with Gablik’s notion of reconstructive postmodernism (see my discussion of Gablik below). In a gesture of protest, the “great men’s” melancholy fills a meaningless world with new meaning, so that their melancholy emerges as a condition for a certain type of creativity, namely an active rewriting of the world: Mourning is the mental outlook in which emotion en livens the emptied world like a masque in order to gain a riddle-like satisfaction from gazing at it. The emotion Benjamin mentions in this passage needs further reflection for it is the foundation of the allegorical gesture as Benjamin describes it and as I use it to describe postmodern “Denn die tiefer Schürfenden sahen sich in das Dasein als in em Trümrnerfeld halber, unechter Handlungen hinein gestelit. Dagegen schlug das Leben selbst aus” (120). 5 “Trauer ist die Gesinnung, in der das Gefühl die ent leerte Welt maskenhaft neubelebt, urn em rätselhaftes Genügen an ihrem Anblick zu haben” (120). Foundations Allegories of the Postiiiodern 59 allegory. In a complex proposition, Benjamin suggests that this emotion occurs independent of the empirical subject and instead attaches itself to the materiality of an object. The mourning intensifies the underlying intention of this emotion: Every emotion is bound to an apriori object and its presentation is its phenomenology. The theory of mourning . . . can thus be developed only in the in scription of the melancholist’s world. For the emo tions, as vague as they may appear to self- apprehension, respond in mechanical attitudes to an objective structure of the world. . . . A mechanical attitude that has its determined location in the hierarchy of intentions and is called emotion only because this location is not the highest. Being com parable only to love among the emotions (and not lightheartedly either), the surprising persistence of the intention determines this location. For [mourn ing is] capable of a particular intensification and continuous, profound thought of its intention. Pro found contemplation is appropriate primarily for the sad person.6 As a result of the intensification of intention, the reinscrip tion of the world appears all the more forceful and potentially coercive to the recipient. These characteristics of reinscrip— 6 “Jedes Gefühl ist gebunden an einen apriorischen Gegen stand und dessen Darstellung ist seine Phanomenologie. Die Theorie der Trauer . . . ist demnach nur in der Beschreibung jener Welt, die unterm Blick des Melancholischen sich auftut, zu entrollen. Denn die Gefühle, wie vage immer sie der Selbst wahrnehmung scheinen mogen, erwidern als motorisches Gebaren einem gegenstandlichen Aufbau der Welt. . . . Eine motorische Attitude, die in der Hierarchie der Intentionen ihren wohlbe stimmten Ort hat und Gefühl nur darum heif3t, weil es nicht der höchste ist. Bestimmt wird er durch die erstaunliche Beharr lichkeit der Intention, die unter den Gefühlen aul3er diesem vielleicht--und das nicht spielweis--nur der Liebe eignet. Denn [Trauer ist] zur besonderen Steigerung, kontinuierlichen Vertiefung ihrer Intention befähigt. Tiefsinn eignet vor allem dem Traurigen” (120). Foundatiolls Allegories of the Postniodern 60 tion are contingent upon the peculiar alliance between allegory and authority. Inscribing a dead world with new and deliberate meanings, Benjamin says, is the principal allegorical gesture. I argue that inscribing the world can be seen as an encoding of lan guage in order to show that the allegorical gesture primarily responds to a crisis of meaning. The metaphor of encoding is particularly appropriate to clarify the allegorical gesture: encoding signifies the conver sion of a message from plain text into code. What allegorists experience as a dead world (namely, the meaninglessness of it) can be mapped onto the plain text that is to be converted into code. The allegorists’ inscription constitutes the code in which they store the dead world. New meaning (of the inscrip tion) and the stored plain text (of the dead world) make up the cipher. The gaze of the melancholic authors forces objects in the newly inscribed world to exhibit, in a double gesture, both their demise and resurrection as signifying entities. That is why the manner of encoding information in allegory is contin gent upon the melancholic gaze. The allegorists control the new meaning. This meaning is anOther of the object, and, as a consequence, the allegorical gesture provides allegorists with privileged access to a normally hidden knowledge. Hence they I use meaning in a way that foreshadows several connota tions that Gablik assigns to the term. Meaning, to her, has a quasi-biological function in human life: without it, we cannot exist (see my discussion of meaning below). Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 61 revere the allegorical object, not only as an emblem of this hidden knowledge, but also as a store of authority. Allegory, then, can be seen as a mode of encoding language with another (or anOther) meaning.8 It may defer meaning ei ther to another level of contemplation or even endlessly if the authors choose (for whatever reasons) not to provide a key at all. I understand the postmodern primarily as a crisis of meaning. The deferral of meaning in allegory exhibits this crisis and explains the prevalence of allegory in the post- modern. At this point, I want to broaden my discussion of allegory by comparing briefly Linda Hutcheon’s and Suzi Gablik’s theories of the postmodern. Hutcheon’s work is an important starting point for any discussion of the postmodern in the Canadian context, but Gablik offers a broader understanding that I find particularly useful, especially when her theory of the postmodern continuum is read in conjunction with Benjamin’s theory of allegory. Benjamin and Gablik also build their theories on essentialist notions with which Hutcheon’s position is 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 62 dinates of a postmodernism that she calls “reconstructive” and views as diametrically opposed to “deconstructive” post- modernism. However, “diametrically opposed” to her does not mean that the two postmodernisms are not in subtle ways con tingent on each other. On the contrary, Gablik writes, our culture reveals itself best in the interplay of its opposing tendencies (9), which is why she strives to construct the two postmodernisms, not as antagonistic movements, but as com plementary components of a larger project in which many dis ciplines remap the modern paradigm. The term “deconstructive” postmodernism warrants clarification. In her use of the term, Gablik does not refer directly to Jacques Derrida because in her view, it is Jean Baudrillard who “has been most influential in orchestrating the art world’s whole deconstructive scenario” (31). Nonetheless, the type of poststructuralist philosophy she holds responsible for the deconstructive impulse in postmodernism also reveals Derrida’s influence, especially when she discusses the crisis of meaning, which to her is triggered by the deconstruction of meaning. In The Politics of Postmodernism, Hutcheon outlines her understanding of postmodernism and its politics, but a decisive difference between Hutcheon and Gablik is that where Gablik be- Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 63 holds “meaning,” Hutcheon sees “representation.”9 Postmodern meaning, for Hutcheon, is always already and endlessly deferred so that we can only access it through representation: What postmodern theory and practice together suggest is that everything always was ‘cultural’ . . . that is, always mediated by representations. (34) By deflecting the issue of meaning into one of representation, Hutcheon says, postmodernism challenges our mimetic assumptions about representation. For her, the key question is this: We may see, hear, feel, smell, and touch it [the real’], but do we know it in the sense that we give meaning to it? (33) But her question assumes that meaning is dependent on a chain of representation that moves from the “real”1° via sensory ex perience and knowledge to meaning. Suzi Gablik, however, sug gests another approach to meaning. “Meaning” is a key idea in the aesthetics Gablik proposes. At the end of The Reenchantment of Art, Gablik expresses her Hutcheon’s approach towards meaning and representation also explains why she only mentions Murray Schafer’s The Char acteristics Man without alluding to the Patria cycle. Looking at The Characteristics Man in its larger context within Patria would precisely lead to those aspects of meaning that go beyond representation, namely the participatory rituals. Excluding those aspects seems to be a blindspot in Hutcheon’s view of the postmodern. For a discussion of The Characteristics Man and its context see ch. 5. 10 As Hutcheon’s quotation marks signify, the “real” it self is a doubtful category that is not fit to serve as a foun dation. Nonetheless, it points to realism which seems to be the yardstick against which she measures everything: “What postmodernism does is to denaturalize both realism’s transpar ency and modernism’s reflexive response [to realism’s transpar ency], while retaining (in its typically complicitously criti cal way) the historically attested power of both” (34). Follildations Allegories of tile Postniodern 64 hope that her book is a first step towards an aesthetics or even 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 have moved beyond protest and oppositional mind to embrace reconciliation and positive social alternatives do not represent merely the response of isolated indi viduals to the dead-endedness of our present situa tion. They are not a movement in a vacuum. They are prototypes who embody the next historical and evolu tionary stage of consciousness, in which the capacity to be compassionate will be central not only to our ideals of success, but also to the recovery of both a meaningful society and a meaningful art. (182) In this passage, Gablik summarizes key issues of the new aesthetics 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 of all.”11 Gablik takes Camus’s dictum as evidence that there is ‘‘ Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 29. Gablik repeatedly relies on Albert Camus to explain key terms. Another example of this reliance on Camus is the monological encapsulation of artist and observer that reconstructive postmodernism must overcome in order to become more “dialogical” and establish a “relational dyad” of artist and audience. Her reference to Camus is as follows: “‘Art cannot be a monologue,’ Albert Camus wrote in Resistance, Rebellion and Death. ‘Contrary to the current presumption, if there is any man who has no right to solitude it is the artist’” (Qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 158). Gablik views Camus as a signpost of the modern aporia with regard to existential questions. I do not think that the words “dialogical” and “monological” should be seen as references to Bakhtin because of the ethical overtones of Gablik’s argument. She clearly seeks to integrate Camus into an ethical argument on the impact of these existential ques tions on the human condition and how we can respond to them un der current circumstances. Her treatment of Camus is similar to Watson’s; see ch. 4. Foundatiojis Allegories of the Postmodern 65 a “will-to-meaning” that she understands to be a “fundamental drive of human life,” so much so, that a framework of meaning is an “essential biological need” for the human organism (29). According to Gablik, however, poststructuralist philosophy enacts a radical break with this drive and undermines the “very legitimacy of meaning itself” (29). Hence, she perceives a crisis of meaning on two levels. The first level concerns the way that signs or images may be deconstructed to destabilize the symbolic order. In this way, deconstructive postmodernists question the union of sig nifier and signified, a union which is necessary to convey a specific meaning. She argues that life presents itself, in our current society, as an endless accumulation of meaningless spectacles, originating in the loss of any unifying narrative of the world. (31) As a result, postmodern works of art tend to exhibit a crisis of narrative meaning and social function. In the paintings of David Salle for instance, Gablik says, “anything goes with any thing, like a game without rules; images slide past one anoth er, dissociated and decontextualized, failing to link up into a coherent sequence” (30). She distinguishes this deconstructive working method from that of the Surrealists, who also created disjunctive and decontextualized images but in order to spark new and unexpected meanings. Salle’s paintings, however, per form without “expressive or manipulative intent” (30). She concludes that “Salle’s images exist without any referent” (30). Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 66 Deconstructive postmodernism, however, subverts meaning on yet another level that, to Gablik, represents an even greater risk to meaning. She defines this risk as follows: There is also the greater loss of a mythic, transper sonal ground of meaning in the way that our particu lar culture transmits itself. It is the spirit, or “binding power” holding everything together, the pat tern connecting and giving significance to the whole, that is lacking in the underlying picture we have of our world. (30) Gablik describes this level further with regard to different ways of looking at works of art. On the one hand, the audience remains passive in front of a spectacle. This passivity, she says, is the very opposite of waking up, looking at events critically, seeing reality and feeling responsible-- that is to say, responding to what is going on. Responsibility implies that one is carrying out in tentions, shaping the environment, influencing others. (33) In a world determined by television and computer screens where vastly different events appear on a single plane of electronic flow, we are confronted with more and more information and less and less meaning so that “the ‘will’ to meaning often deliber ately courts meaninglessness and even finds satisfaction in it” (33-34). Gablik extends the metaphor of “courting” in terms of a “dance” and “staying in free fall [in a] sense of dizziness” (30).12 According to Gablik, then, deconstructive postmodern ism exalts in declaring its own meaninglessness. 12 She entitles her third chapter “Dancing with Baudril lard: Postmodernism and the Deconstruction of Meaning” (29-40). The expression of the “sense of dizziness” is an allusion to Baudrillard. Foundations A]]egories of the Postniodern 67 The concepts of meaning” and such adjectives as “meaning ful” or “meaningless,” then, appear to be charged in Gablik’s prose with specific connotations. When she discusses the cri sis of meaning in the modern world, she spells out this con notation. She says: [Theodor] Adorno’s meditations on the social implica tions of Auschwitz led him to the belief that any idea of harmonizing with the world, of striving for a positive or meaningful relation to it, is cheap op timism, like the happy ending in movies, obtained by repressing the reality of radical evil and despair. . . . The shock administered to modern society by the presence of the concentration camps made 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 to Gablik, because it epitomizes the Cartesian philosophies that “carried us away from a sense of wholeness by focussing only on individual experience” (7). The modern focus is misguided be cause it does not allow for a holistic vision of the world that in Gablik’s view alone can restore the benevolence of meaning. This benevolence of meaning is the irreducible starting point of her reflections on the postmodern. As a result, Gablik per sistently describes the crisis of meaning as a loss of meaning. “Meaning,” to her, is an inherently benevolent term so that any critique of meaning as such, and not merely of a particular kind of meaning, represents a nihilist, or life-denying, ges ture that can only end up in complicity with the forces causing Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 68 modern alienation.13 At this point, it becomes clear that her book itself should be seen as a part of what she defines as reconstructive postmodernism. In my view, it is an instance of a new intuitive theorizing that adheres not primarily to the principles of logical rigour but projects in a visionary mode of thinking what is possible in a world that has not given up hope. But where does this hope come from? Gablik contends that hope is the key issue when it comes to distinguishing the two postmodernisins. While reconstructive postmodernists “continue to aspire to transforming our dysfunc tional culture,” deconstructive postmodernists “believe such a hope is naive or deluded” (18-19). But Gablik does not meet the deconstructive objections to hope directly; rather, she points to the benefits of hope--providing that hope is still possible. Gablik points out that there are some artists, such as Mary Beth Edelson, to whom hope is a matter of belief. When asked whether she felt optimistic about our society moving in the direction of ecological and cooperative stability, Edelson replied: It doesn’t make a difference in my behavior whether there is a chance that this will succeed or not. I will still behave as if these goals were a pos sibility, 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 post modernism to undertake precisely such a “complicitous critique” (passim) Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 69 extraordinarily paralyzing, cynical alienation. If we sit back and say, “We are not going to do anything because it’s useless,” obviously nothing is going to happen. What makes things happen is believing that they can happen. What some people call fooling our selves may be our only hope. (Qtd. in The Reenchant ment of Art 25) Reconstructive postmodernism envisions a social renewal that is dependent on a human effort which is itself motivated by op timism. Optimism, Gablik reminds us, is the leap of faith that William James saw as rooted in life itself. Although Gablik does not provide a specific reference, I think James’s The Will to Believe corroborates her statement. Arguing against what he calls “scientific absolutism,” James proposes an alternative that is able to address moral questions whose solutions cannot wait for sensible proof. He contends that “the question of having moral beliefs at all or not having them is decided by our will” (22-23). One of his examples is that of a man climb ing in the Alps and maneuvering himself into a position from which the only escape is by a terrible leap. If the man be lieves he can make the leap, that belief will create subjective emotions without which the successful leap would be impossible. If, on the other hand, the man mistrusts his abilities, he will hesitate 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 one desires; for the belief is one of the indispensable preliminary conditions of the realization of its ob ject. There are then cases where faith creates its own verification. Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; doubt, and you shall Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 70 again be right, for you shall perish. The only dif ference is that to believe is greatly to your ad vantage. (97) Gablik interprets the current crisis of meaning as having the same structure as James’s moral questions. In this way, she maintains that reconstructive belief is right and decon structive doubt is right; the difference is that to believe is “greatly to [our] advantage” for it opens a space where reform of aesthetic and socio-political realities is possible. Hutcheon, however, does not see the current crisis of meaning as an ethical issue. As a result, her notion of post- modernism as instances of “complicitous critique” cannot open a space where reform would be possible. To her credit, she ad mits as much: While the postmodern has no effective theory of agency that enables a move into political action, it does work to turn its inevitable ideological ground ing into a site of de-naturalizing critique. (The Politics of Postmodernism 3) This de-naturalizing critique makes her theory of postmodernism cynical and hopeless because it removes the ground on which to build any ethics of action. In the following passage, Hutcheon describes the de-naturalizing critique of postmodernism: The postmodern’s initial concern is to de—naturalize some of the dominant features of our way of life; to point out that those entities that we unthinkingly experience as ‘natural’ (they might even include cap italism, patriarchy, liberal humanism) are in fact ‘cultural,’ made by us, not given to us. (2) Hutcheon, of course, chooses her examples carefully. Critics have attacked capitalism, patriarchy and liberal humanism in recent times so that the thought of a de-naturalizing critique Foundations Allegories of the Postiodern 71 of these entities is not as far-fetched as she may want us to believe (“they might even include”). Furthermore, why are only “some of the dominant features of our way of life” de-natural ized? Hutcheon does not say which ones nor does she describe the criteria for selection. And what happens if the postmodern also de-naturalizes not only “dominant” features but still marginal ones, such as environmental protection, equality for women and minorities? Such a de-naturalizing critique would indeed throw out the baby with the bathwater because it would remove the grounds on which such movements as environmentalism, feminism and multi-culturalism can take action against current injustices. To come back to Gablik, I still see a flaw in her theory of reconstructive postmodernism. She points out that there are neither prescriptions on how to achieve hope nor logically coherent explications of where hope comes from. The best Gablik can do is to point to the belief that originates in a leap of faith. She does not theorize the leap itself. Gablik’s theoretical blindspot in my view is as serious as that of Hutcheon, who does not admit an ethical dimension to her argument. The consequences, of course, are almost dia metrically opposed because Gablik ends up holding a position that facilitates political action on ethical grounds, while Hutcheon denies such action can be taken in or with the post- modern. Often, and especially in reconstructive postmodern al legories, I contend that this leap of faith is contingent on a Foundations A]]egories of the Postinodern 72 desire to replace a lost object. Allegorists count on this desire in their audiences to bring about a trust in the author(ity) of allegory. Without this trust, these allegorical works remain meaningless (in Gablik’s sense of the term). To Gablik, the benefits of hope materialize most clearly with regard to a particular role-model of the artist that she finds convincing. In this way, she quotes Jungian psycho analyst Marie-Louise von Franz, who says: “A civilization which has no creative people is doomed . . . . The person who is really in touch with the future is the creative personality” (qtd. in The Reenchantment of Art 24). Gablik concludes from this that “those artists who are in touch with the necessary psychological tasks of a culture prepare the way for the culturally supported solution to a conflict to emerge, or for the healing of a psychological defect” (24). To Gablik, of course, the modern paradigm presents such a defect. More spe cifically, the modern defect is that of the Cartesian sepa ration of the observer from the observed. It is this sepa ration that reconstructive postmodernism attempts to overcome by instating “a more participatory aesthetics of inter connectedness” (“The Reenchantment of Art” 180). Gablik views the Cartesian woridview as positing a rigorous distinction between subject and object. Modern aesthetics sanctifies this distinction in that it adheres to the monologic encapsulation of author and audience in separate, non-interactive spheres. The autonomy of modernist art further Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 73 reinforces this encapsulation because the work of art is there to be passively observed (which is why it is bound to the issue of representation). It cannot, however, interact with the world it represents; it is aloof, without impact. Says Gablik: Our culture’s most cherished idea remains the aggres sive insistence on freedom for its own sake, freedom without praxis--the kind of freedom that makes pick ing up the garbage valid as art only if you want to “romance” the trash (that is, use it for an aesthetic effect), but not if you step beyond the value vacuum to try to clean up the river.’4 (The Reenchantment of Art 135) As soon as a project tries to have an impact within the en vironmental ethics Gablik describes, modern aesthetics dis credits it as “work” and refuses to call it “art.” The notion of art as compassionate action depends on shamanic consciousness that does not permit us to experience the world as apart from ourselves. Richard Rosenbium’s Man scape sculpture, according to Gablik, upsets the dualism of the Cartesian woridview: “The boundary between self and world has been allowed to dissolve, and the figure of a man becomes a walking landscape” (“The Reenchantment of Art” 185; see also fig. 1). 14 The latter is a reference to an art project of Domini que Mazeaud, who in 1987 began “The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande River” (see The Reenchantment of Art 119-21). This pro ject includes Mazeaud--sometimes in the company of friends, sometimes alone--removing garbage from the Rio Grande River in a ritual, occasional exhibitions of the “treasures” found that way, and a journal that she calls “riveries.” Gablik cites this project as an example of “art as compassionate action.” Foundations Allegories of the Postodern 74 Fig. 1: Richard RosenbiUm. Manscape. 1984-85. Photo courtesy of Addison Ga1le of American Art. Andover. Massachusetts.) (“The Reenchantment” 187) Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 75 Another instance of shamanic consciousness, this time in a modern, urban setting, is the performance art by Mierle Laderman Ukeles, artist-in--residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation. In Touch Sanitation, a performance that lasted eleven months, Ukeles shook hands with everyone in the Sanitation Department. Gablik claims that through this “compassionate gesture of the hand which embodies a non- threatening openness to others, a space of enchantment is opened up, if only for a moment” (190). In another performance, Following in Your Footsteps, Ukeles followed the workers and pantomimed their movements, “as a way of showing her appreciation for what they do, and acting as a stand-in for all the people who do not do this work” (190). Ukeles’s two performances allowed her to become a part of the community of sanitation workers. The parameters of her art are neither autonomy nor monologic encapsulation, but empathy and healing. Gablik comments: The image of the shaman strikes at the roots of modern estrangement: merging her consciousness with the workers, she converses with them, learns from them. There is no critical distance, no theoretical violence, no antagonistic imperative; but as some thing more than art, her work becomes an exercise in model-building, in the construction of an alternative to the professional role model. When one develops the woridview of a shaman, one becomes a healer in all one’s activities. (191) It seems that reconstructive postmodernism, especially when it employs rituals, obliterates the distinction between the aesthetic and the social realms of society. This distinction, however, only came into being with the advent of the Cartesian Foundations AJiegories of the Postmodern 76 woridview and its division of society into realms of different tasks. Obliterating this distinction is another attack on the Cartesian worldview. Gablik’s examples emphasize a consistent bi-partite trait of the reenchantment of art or of reconstructive postmodernism: on the one hand, enchanted art challenges the rigidity of the modern paradigm and its alienating principles, while on the other, it offers an alternative to deconstructive postmodern ism, which she sees as an extension of modern nihilism. Social and environmental ethics charged with responsibility provide Gablik with the basis for her concept of reconstructive post- modernism. The aesthetics Gablik is proposing entails a movement from observation to participation. Observation, of course, is entangled in the issue of representation; however, Gablik never confronts 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 participa tory rituals that partake of the new aesthetics she envisions in opposition to the one built on Cartesian dualism. I see a relation between Gablik’s unwillingness to con front the issue of representation and her unwillingness to 15 These responses allude to the cluster of connotations Gablik assigns to the term “responsibility,” namely “waking up, looking at events critically, 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, influencing others” (33). Foundations Allegories of the Fostinodern 77 theorize the leap of faith that is so important to her concept of reconstructive postmodernism. Gablik hesitates to engage in the theoretical discussion of issues when she has to argue with the claims of deconstruction. A possible explanation for this hesitation is that such an argument with deconstruction would impede the intuitive flow of her argument, which deals with much more important issues, for instance, creating a fertile ground for reconstructive postmodern art in the name of en vironmentalism. The ethical imperative of trying to press on with this project leads her to neglect doing the meticulous groundwork usually needed to make such an ambitious project credible. Ultimately, I think, Gablik’s blindspots are flaws in her concept of reconstructive postmodernism. Hence I am going to address the issue of representation in reconstructive postmodernism in an effort to make Gablik’s theoretical base more accountable to critical questioning. Craig Owens has described how art history, for instance, has constructed representation either as symbolic action (Vor stellung) or else as theatrical presentation (Darstellung). In the former, the image substitutes for an absent object, while in the latter it creates the illusion of a presence of an ob ject. Owens comments: Art historians have always located representation in terms of the poles of absence and presence which, as Derrida has shown, constitute the fundamental con ceptual opposition upon which Western metaphysics is based. (“Representation, Appropriation & Power” 13) What is needed, Owens suggests, is not a new theory of repre sentation but a critique of it. 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Z C CD C D ) C l)H - < Cl) ) CD = H - V H - H C D C ) H - C i) CD CD H ’ H - - 5 ) ‘1 ‘ Z O 0 V H ’ - s Cl) H - CD ) CD H - — s ) l) 0 .C (D C, ) H - e< H ’ )) CD ) Cl) H C l) H ’C D C D C ’C H - H ’ ) CD C H - H - H - C C ’ CD C ‘ 0 H -C )C D V CD i) Cl) H - CD H - C C CD CD H - H - CD H - H - H - C C l) H -C D )C D H - ‘ H - C ‘ CD )) ) V Cl) ) ) CD H -C ) H ’ H - - C C H - H - H - ) H ’’ s H - H - H - H - C H ’ CD CD H ’ C . H - Cl) . ) ) H ’ < C < C - s C D C C C H - V CD H - Cl) H - CD I C ’ )C CD H ’ H - C CD i) H ’ ) - C CD I Cl) H - Fouiidations Allegories of the Postmodern 79 ness). The author(ity) of allegory, for these reasons, war rants closer scrutiny. The allegorist’s will is a will to create, thus a will to power. This will can be situated at the intersection of a past (and now lost) significance and a new, deliberately assigned meaning for the object. The allegorist’s melancholic disposi tion provides access to traces of this lost significance as well as to the reinscription of meaning. Melancholy, thus, functions as the origin of the allegorist’s will to power. It is here, in the will to power, that we can trace differences and similarities between premodern allegory, modern symbolism, and postmodern allegory. Allegory and symbolism are the pri mary modes of representation in these eras, although Gablik contends that postmodern allegory, in its reconstructive dimen sion, goes beyond representation. A profound difference between premodern and postmodern al legory is that in the Middle Ages, authors, or more accurately auctores,’6 would situate their works in a tradition that es tablished the founding rules and principles for the disciplines of learning. In other words, the auctores could refer to a system of certitude that was outside their work and to whose 16 “The word ‘author’ derives from the medieval term auc tor, which denoted a writer whose words commanded respect and belief. . . . Over the centuries the continued authority of [the auctores] derived from medieval scribes’ ability to inter pret, explain, and in most cases resolve historical problems by restating these problems in terms sanctioned by auctores” (Pease 106). Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 80 authority their work would contribute by subsuming a personal event into the realm of the authority: The continued authority to make events meaningful in customary or traditional ways provided all the evi dence necessary to sustain the auctores’ power. . The relationship between these authoritative books and the everyday world was primarily an allegorical one. (Pease 106) Postmodern allegorists cannot assume similar systems of certitude outside of their work because, as Max Oelschlaeger points out, historically considered, certainty has been found in God (religion), in phenomenological experience (phenomenology), in empirical observation (natural and social sciences), and in the beliefs of common sense. But today, because of the irreducibly textual character of our beliefs, all arenas of certainty are in question. In other words, recognition that lan guage plays a central role in all knowledge and thought, indeed, in culture and therefore life, has also called into question claims to absolute certitude. (The Idea of Wilderness 325) The result of this “textual character of our beliefs” is a relativism that violates the key concepts of the premodern and modern paradigms, namely religious and objective truth respec tively. To reinforce or to overcome this relativism means to celebrate or to go beyond the postmodern crisis of meaning. Deconstructive postmodernism gives in to that relativism and maintains that any notion of belief that goes beyond a purely textual character is illusory. Reconstructive postmodernism, on the other hand, resists that relativism not by recovering a lost concept of truth or certitude but by creating a new certainty. This certainty relies as much on the subjective “truth” of the allegorist, consisting of a mixture of experi Foundations Allegories of the Postaiodern 81 ences, research, and beliefs, as on the authority of allegory to inscribe that truth on the dead object. Reconstructive postmodern and premodern allegories are similar in that they are both based on the organizing principle of correspondence. With the discovery of the “New” world, the auctores could no longer subsume all everyday events under the authority of the traditional books because the accounts of the New World had to react to a difference from and no longer to a correspondence with the authoritative books that were based on Eurocentric experiences that could not account for those of the Americas. As a result, the auctor experienced the loss of his cultural authority and authors “declared their right to be re presented on their own terms rather than in the words of the ancient books” (107-08). The point is that the authors of the Renaissance and with them the explorers, colonizers, merchants, et al. needed a more direct method of representation than the indirect encodings of allegory in order to recognize what was new and different about the New World. They found it in sym bolism, whose advantage over allegory was its immediacy (as the Romantics later argued) that manifested itself in a “natural bond” 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 wholly arbitrary; it is not empty, for there is the rudiment of a nat ural bond between the signifier and the signified” (Course in General Linguistics 68). Arbitrariness, to Saussure, was the benchmark of the sign: “The term [“arbitrary”] should not imply that the choice of the signifier is left entirely to the speaker . . . ; I mean that it is unmotivated, i.e. arbitrary in that it actually has no natural connection with the sig nified” (69). Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 82 By acknowledging freely its political underpinnings in ecology, reconstructive postmodern allegory relies on cor respondence with environmental and social practices that we used to follow and that were less hazardous to nature and our selves rather than difference to more recent practices that have brought us to the brink of extinction on more than one level of being. The will to power in reconstructive postmodern allegory overcomes the modern paradigm of thinking in dif ferences by establishing a correspondence of dead object with a new, deliberately assigned meaning. That this new meaning ap propriates, even violates, the dead object is an indication of the potential coerciveness of the allegorical gesture. What is at issue when we talk about the author/ity of al legory is not only the coercion of the object into signifying and thus revealing anOther, but also the potential coercion of the 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 imple mentation of a didactic effort that is as much the author’s as it is the text’s. In medieval allegory, the revelation was in the books of the auctores and their tradition. In postmodern allegories, the revelation is in the “intratextuality” between individual sequels of trilogies or cycles.’8 This in 18 I think the term “intratextuality” is warranted by the internal relations in multi-sequel works where the individual instalments are autonomous but gain in meaning if the recipient knows the larger context of the cycle. Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 83 tratextuality invites the recipient to pursue textual relations between the sequels either in the form of leitmotives or in the form of shared structures, themes, images, or signs.’9 These works tend to branch out into systems of texts that include not only the allegorist’s artistic works but also his scientific and personal writings. These allegorical systems, however, differ in deconstruc tive and reconstructive postmodernism with regard to the struc ture of authority. In deconstructive allegory, the code of au thority is centrifugal; that is, it does not provide the object with a meaningful centre so that the recipient is left without the means to engage in a meaningful reading. As argued above, we end up with a play of signifiers without signifieds. In reconstructive allegory, on the other hand, the code of author ity is centripetal in that it focuses the recipient’s energy on the author who acts as a mediator between text and reader. By means of didacticism, the allegorist seeks to make the reci pient supply an ultimate signified in a leap of faith, which to the allegorist is the successful outcome of the allegorical ritual and an expression of the underlying ideology of al legory, which strives to reinstate the author in a position of power. In their respective roles as shaman and initiate, reconstructive allegorist and recipient then share an ideology 19 Examples of such multi-sequel works are Glenn Gould’s “Solitude Trilogy” and Robert Wilson’s Civil WarS. Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 84 that may encourage actions that are in line with the al legorist’s underlying program and go beyond the framework of the work of art, such as changes in convictions held and even changes in life-styles. In “The Will to Allegory in Postmodernism,” Paul Smith criticizes the reinstatement of authority in postmodern al legory. In his view, Benjamin’s dialectical view of symbolism and allegory does not do justice to the epistemological commit ment that both modes of signification make to some notion of fixed truth and value, a natural truth for symbolism and a con ventional one for allegory (106). What is important in al legory throughout the ages, Smith contends, is the authority of the truth and not the truth itself: [The strategies of allegory that Benjamin describes] construct no intersubjective faith in the value of the real, but rather they propose a reliable (though arbitrary) typological authority. Such an authority --all that is ever really essential to allegory--is the fixed stay of allegory’s discourse: a fixity of its underlying reference is vital for its accurate functioning. (107) Smith is correct in maintaining that allegory does not con struct intersubjective faith; nonetheless, it is possible that the recipient accepts the author/ity of allegory in a leap of faith. Smith goes on to describe a development in the history of allegory. After the decline of the “shared referential, metasemantic system” of medieval allegory, modernist allegory imposes upon the reader some specific directive to construct or invent such a system in the act of reading itself. The goal of Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 85 modernist allegory to foreground the reader can be seen, ac cording to Smith, as one of the goals in modernism, namely to eliminate the traditional author/recipient hierarchies. Smith’s examples for such modernist goals are “Mallarmé’s elocutionary disappearance of the author, or Flaubert’s perfect work on the subject of nothing at all” (118). Recognizing that modernism could never have achieved these goals, the era of postmodernism declares these modernist goals illusory and argues that they may “best be conceived as a simple reaction to those modernist aims” (118). As I have explained above, the allegorist’s melancholic gaze appropriates objects by inscribing them with a new mean ing. This gesture, the principal allegorical gesture, marks a desire for authority, offering its new meaning “as always ‘more true’ than that which it replaces” (115). Because postmodern allegory, however, cannot claim access to a shared referential system, the allegorist “arrogates to himself a power that im mediately exposes neither its own tenets, nor the actual ‘truth’ of its bans” (115): The allegorist’s work is placed, then, in order to interpellate the reader, who knows that some power is at work but with a veil before it, and that the dis covery of its tenets demands his compliance. This onerous role given to the reader in postmodernism is crucial because it is necessary to the allegorist’s power that it be furnished with an audience willing to realize the devastation of the old regime--without necessarily understanding the nature of the new re placement. Thus, truth and the exercise of power retain their mystique in contemporary allegory, and the traditional author/reader hierarchy undergoes a peculiarly new reinforcement. (115) Foufidations Allegories of the Postniodern 86 What Smith describes as “compliance,” I call a leap of faith. Both appelations hint at the coercive potential of postmodern allegory once its author/ity has been accepted. The allegorical text bears in it a memory of the meaning it pretends to devastate. To Smith, this is a serious fraud because the allegorical text suggests that its new meaning is the only possible one. Smith concludes: The methodology of postmodern allegory thus consists ultimately in a purblind and vain gesture of will, inscribing itself in a dialectic with previous modes but still operating on the same level of ideological control. (115) Yet the memory inherent to allegory can also be seen in another light. American poet James Applewhite intervenes in the debate on postmodern allegory with his article “Postmodernist Allegory and the Denial of Nature.” He proposes a classification of the postmodern similar to Suzi Gablik’s. On the one hand, he argues that the postmodern denies nature and replaces the real with representations of the real. According to Applewhite, critics who describe the postmodern in this way are Jean Baudrillard and Craig Owens.2° On the other hand, Applewhite is happy to report a current trend in all domains of art and culture that subverts the denial of nature in postmodern al legory. Although Applewhite does not name that trend, he des cribes it as follows (I quote at length to provide a sense of 20 It is safe to include Hutcheon in this list because she also denies nature and replaces it with representations. Foundations Allegories of the Postinodern 87 the pathos with which Applewhite speaks at the end of his arti cle) In spite of all that has been said by theorists of postmodernism and postmodernist art, a depth of memory and involvement remains available, for artists who insist on breaking through the surface imagery which has been electronically deposited, like a glossy film, over contemporary experience. . . . It is possible still for artists--painters, sculptors, composers, poets, novelists, dancers--to endorse life by refusing the compression of the time sense and thus of history which is implicit in our commercial ized culture. Postmodernist theory may call into question the relation between sign and referent, but that very problematizing of relation may provoke an emotive reaction, an authentic anger and refusal of complicity. Artists, citizens, even politicians, have the power to insist on the still-great dimension of human memory and its long association with the earth. They may continue to ground their art and their lives in the medium behind the culture which seems our nature. We know that the first nature is still there, because we breathe. It is possible to breathe back an art which relates to this origin, celebrates the glory of our original association with it, and directs what may become an effectual anger at the forces which paper our horizons with money im agery; value illicitly dissociated from a referent in nature. (16-17) I see a link between the pathos echoing through such phrases as “the still-great dimension of human memory and its long associ ation with the earth” and Gablik’s “empowered new vision” and its dependency on ritual, mythic thinking, and mysticism. Gablik’s new vision and Applewhite’s memory are accessible most readily to the melancholic through the allegorical gesture. With that gesture artists and critics can inscribe their new visions on a reality they perceive as dead and meaningless. The move from a modern aesthetics of observation and monologic encapsulation to a postmodern “ethics of participa Foundations Allegories of the Postniodern 88 tion”21 is the primary feature of the postmodern remapping of the modern paradigm Gablik envisions: Whereas the struggle of modernism was to delineate self from other, in the emerging realm of quantum in separability, the world becomes a place of interac tion and connection, and things derive their being by mutual dependence. When everything is perceived as dynamically interconnected, art needs to collaborate with the environment and a new sense of relationship causes the old polarity between art and audience to disappear. . . . Interaction is the key that moves art beyond the aesthetic mode: letting the audience intersect 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 of static autonomy is also a struggle to transform modern author ity. Gablik notes that this authority often relies on “a kind of compulsive masculinity” (127) and cites as an example Cle ment Greenberg’s construction of art history in an interview in which he refers exclusively to male artists.22 Against this masculinity, 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 theoriz ing the postmodern continuum. She believes that “artists will gravitate toward different activities, attitudes and roles than 21 This is Gablik’s term, see The Reenchantment of Art 126. 22 She comments wryly: “At least for Greenberg, art his tory seems to consist entirely of male walruses” (127). Foundations Allegories of the Postmodern 89 those that operated under the aesthetics of modernism.” She continues: It is important to understand that any remapping of the modern paradigm has both a deconstructive and a reconstructive dimension; they need to be seen not as opposites, with sharp boundaries drawn between them, but as components in a larger process, operating simultaneously like the complementarity principle. (27) Discussing the postmodern continuum thus necessitates bringing together materials of a discontinuous nature. In a personal addendum, Gablik writes: I personally see the contradictions between the two postmodernisms as very productive, since it allows us to investigate both the darker and the lighter paths to the future without accepting the inevitability of either. (27) It is in this spirit of investigation that I wish to bring to gether Watson and Schafer. In my view, both artists’ works contain elements from the whole postmodern continuum so that- by taking Watson and Schafer as case studies--I can discuss the postmodern in both its darker and lighter aspects. Cl) c CD CD Cl) C CD CD CD CD Cl) Cl) C r 1 C iD C L > r + C Cl) + h H — C D C CD C CD Z CD CD C D N C • C l) Z )C D CD ) CD ) CD CD H • )© CD Cl) ) C CD H . 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C)) C D C /D C 0 CD c- i’ ( T h I - - H - c- i’ CD C)) C C c- i C D C )) — H C C ) Cl) H H CD Cl) 0 H - CD C)) H - C D c- i- xj Cl) C)) C)) C H - c- i’ H - CD CD CD 0 i-- a Cl) < C Cl) H - C Cl) Cl) N H - Cl) CD C D I C ) C)) Z CD C/) CD Z I C I- -C H - CD CD C 0 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- C I— i C D < i H- LC D “ C c- i- C H - r 1 - CD CD C C)) C)) “ - ‘ CD C — < C)) H - c- i- C C Cl) cT C) ) C Z C D C D - C)) C )) C C D - H - Cl) • C )) C c- i-C D c- i- C )) D H - CD CD CD D r- i-c -i H -” C l- CD CD C)) C l) C/) CD Cl) c- i C l)C C)) C D C )) - C ) C D C D . 1c -i - CD CD C CD Cl) c- i C)) “ Cl) H C D C C D c- i c- i- I- -” r C D C C)) c-i -C D B H CD i-- a CD H - B CD H C C )) H CD C C C)) c-i CD H - - q) 1 j “ 1 C CD C)) c-i’ C/) C The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 91 type of the documentary drama of the 1960s, Watson’s plays are not documentary in nature. Documents of historical events are the basis for documentary drama. It searches for truth to such an extent that the search seems more important than a truth bound to or prescribed by authority.2 The focus of documentary drama on the search rather than on the truth is profoundly anti-allegorical because the be-all and end-all of allegory is the truth that the allegorist inscribes on a dead object. In “Documentary Drama: Form and Content,” Clas Zilliacus too maintains that one way of sketching a history of the documentary genre is in opposition to allegory. The gradual reduction of societal restrictions in Europe (and especially in the Federal Republic of Germany after the morally rigid and conservative l9SOs), he argues, led to an upsurge in documentary drama. As a consequence, the documentary drama could aggressively present counterfacts to the ones distributed In the plays of the late 1970s and early l980s, too, Wat son 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 and Watson’s view of an Edmonton shopping mall. Some Edmonton law yers ask Jesus how to punish the adulteress. Once she is released according to Jesus’ advice, she and a group of women find the lawyers guilty of trying to discredit Jesus by having her punished. The women then decide to stone the lawyers. In Gramsci x 3, Tiu Gramsci provides a long report of an unfair trial against him (Plays 461-66), and Mussolini takes on the role of the unjust judge who sentences Gramsci to the prolonged suffering of a calvary. 2 In “Prozel3 oder Schauproze,” Otto Best makes similar observations, see esp. 70. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 92 by the powers that be without having to fear the censorship that plays like Jean Paul Sartre’s Les mouches (1943) fore stalled through allegory. However, the dividing line between documentary and al legorical methods is not as straightforward as Zilliacus sug gests. In his “Prozef3 oder Schauprozef3,” Otto Best argues that the documentary playwright has to walk a fine line between being what he calls a “maieutic author” (an author who furthers critical rationalism as a means to find truth) and being an agitator because the documents are objective but their organi zation for the stage remains subjective. “The tribunal,” Best concludes, “develops into a show-trial; the observer is not en lightened but manipulated and reduced.”3 In Best’s view, then, the dramatist Socratically assists in delivering the reactions of the audience. Of course, the didacticism of maieutic authors does not go as far as that of allegorists who also as sist in delivering the reactions of the audience but in addi tion want to impose their moral standards on the audience. Maieutic authors, it seems, are content to evoke moral outrage at the events represented by the documents and their organiza tion. In “The Expressionist Legacy in the Canadian Theatre: George Ryga and Robert Gunk,” Sherrill Grace argues that “many of the sixties’ plays use the courtroom as their primary set “Gericht wird zum SchauprozeJ3, der Zuschauer nicht auf geklart, er wird agitiert, reduziert” (71). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 93 ting . . . in part because the tribunal constituted a perfect metaphor (as Kafka also knew) for a century on trial” (49). Let me add to this that a metaphor extended to cover an entire work is an allegory.4 Furthermore, a trial makes a near per fect vehicle for allegory because of the clearly defined roles of judge, prosecutor, counsel for the defense, plaintiff and accused. The rigidity of the roles in a trial enables the al legorist to move easily from mimesis to allegory because the recipient tends to apprehend the role rather than the character embodying the role. The trial’s diametrically opposed posi tions of plaintiff and accused also allow the author to advance one set of moral standards, while simultaneously discrediting another. A further advantage to the allegorist are the clearly defined relations of authority between the trial participants. An allegorist may wish to exploit these relations for his pur poses as well as include the recipient in any of these roles or co-opt the recipient into taking sides (“The Expressionist Legacy” 49). One is reminded here of Angus Fletcher’s Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode in which he points out that “allegory makes an appeal to an almost scientific curiosity about the or der of things” (68). A trial’s discursive structures, such as submitting a plea, gathering evidence, questioning witnesses ‘ I am thinking here of Quintilian’s definition of al legory and of Roman Jacobson’s two linguistic axes where the one veering towards metaphor becomes increasingly allegorical. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 94 and exercising cross examinations, surely comes very close to such a “curiosity” about a set of circumstances. Hence I un derstand Watson’s trials not as manifestations of documentary drama but as allegories. In the plays I analyze, Watson links the trials with the theme of the Last Judgement. The trials are invariably set in a world removed in some way from everyday reality: either they take place in a nether world or in heaven.5 Furthermore, in all trials, more seems to be at stake than the events on stage at first indicate; indeed, humankind itself is on trial. The outcomes of the trials seem absolute and associated with (eternal) damnation: either the accused are sentenced to crucify God or are forfeit to an allegorical death. These characteristics of the Last Judgement further dichotomize the stereotypical roles of the trial’s participants. At the same time, however, they encourage the audience to take sides with the accused because all are human. The integration of the tri al with the theme of the Last Judgement, therefore, tightens the allegorist’s authority and control over the audience. In order to understand the full allegorical import of the trials in the plays, we need to take a closer look at a number of characters who have allegorical significance. In a prefatory “Note re script” to his second play, The Trial of In Watson’s Let’s Murder Clytemnestra, a trial takes place in an absurd mental clinic-cum-prison, see below. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 95 Corporal Adam, Watson includes an enigmatic comment on his first major play,6 Cockcrow and the Gulls: “The name ‘Cockcrow’ had made, at a single stroke of the pen, a realistic treatment of an action dealing with a series of homicides allegedly lo cated in Nanaimo, impossible” (Plays 109). This remark refers to the allegorical implications of the name “Cockcrow” which need 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 the discussion and promises to get “DEAD drunk” and to report back to the living what death is like: No one has ever come back from death to tell us unimpeachably 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 Studio Theatre in November 1957 but remains unpublished. The Whatnot is of interest because it contains most of the features that would mark Watson’s plays of the 1960s, such as extreme violence (on and off-stage), unrealistic settings, absurd humor and ecstatic, bizarre endings. The play opens on a rather realistically portrayed retired couple living in Edmonton. Soon, however, the play leaves realistic conventions when the couple has an argument about whether to stay in Edmonton. The husband suggests to his wife that he saw her into little boards in order to build a whatnot. Having never liked life in Edmonton, the wife happily agrees because, as a whatnot, life would be bearable for her anywhere. The remainder of the play features various visitors who all ad mire the couple’s solution to their problem. A rich American buys the whatnot. When it is removed from the house, it leaves a hole which the characters try to cover up. The last scene shows them dancing ecstatically while singing “we don’t care; we don’t care” (Box 6, ts., Watson-archives, Special Collec tions, U of Alberta, Edmonton, 36). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 96 I shall look about me, when I AM dead, And see . . . what, exactly, death is. And this I will come back and tell you.7 Cockcrow, however, can only keep the first of his promises; he returns 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 at the 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 for words to describe life after death. Thus, like a cock announc ing daybreak, Cockcrow merely announces the beginning of the nether world. Watson reduces Cockcrow to this one function: his character remains undeveloped, and he only participates as one among others in other actions, such as the nailing of the scarecrow or the incantations at the end of the play where his only non-choric utterance, “I am here by miracle” (104), repeats his earlier report (57), thereby again reminding the audience of his function as announcer of the nether world. His inability to tell those who are still alive about his new world is indicative of his new status: he has become a part of the nether world and his communicative abilities seem restricted once he leaves his world. The name “Cockcrow,” then, is a metonomy. According to Fletcher, synecdoche and metonomy contain the full range of al legorical part-whole relationships. The former labels static 7 Plays 36. Because Watson and Schafer use ellipsis regu larly, I mark my own ellipsis in quotations from their literary works henceforth by square brackets. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postoderii 97 relations of classification (the sail is a qualitative subclass of ship; it is a part thereof), while the latter labels dynamic interactions between part and whole (the sword causes violent death) (87). These two tropes allow us to distinguish the whole from the part and, in this way, call to mind the larger organization with which the parts may bear an integral rela tion. The allegorical implications of the name “Cockcrow” are to be seen in the bridging of the gap between image (of the nether world) and agent (the character Cockcrow) and lead the recipient towards an allegorical reading of the play. Let us now turn to the allegorical significance of another set of characters in Cockcrow. At the outset, a character named Pride addresses the audience and introduces the protagonist of the play, Cyril Higgins, and himself: Regard the pot of geraniums. May I, before the play Deviates 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 is Pride. 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 and himself onto the allegorical dimension of their roles. Pride also points to his individual performance whenever introducing an abstract category: “May I, before the play deviates any fur ther into allegory,” and “As for me--you all know me, my The Work of Wilfred Watsofi Allegories of the Postmodern 98 Christian name is . . . Pride” (emphasis added). Thus he stresses the ontological metamorphosis of the abstract quality of pride into his individual human character. This metamor phosis signals personification. In The Fiction of Truth: Structures of Meaning in Narra tive, Carolynn van Dyke reminds us that personification is one of the markers of allegorical drama. She uses beginnings and endings of allegorical plays to formulate a taxonomy of al legorical drama. She contends that allegorists tend to frame moralities in some version of a superimposition of universal truth on the human performance or vice versa (110). According to van Dyke, a concrete example of this superimposition is the beginning of Everyman, where a messenger addresses the spec tators in a prologue to inform them about the content of the play: For ye shall here how our heven Kinge Calleth 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 allegorist authoritatively categorizes Everyman as a representation of every man. The individual character of Everyman, however, is unaware of this categorization until Death stops him with the words, “Everyman, stande still!” At this point, according to van Dyke, “the condition of every man is about to come home to Everyman” (108), which is a shock of recognition for both Everyman 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 99 as it usually does in drama, nor from a confrontation of ab stractions, as it does in narrative allegory, but the dramatic moment is the one at which an abstract category becomes a human character. That kind of drama, based on ontological metamorphosis, is pecu liar to allegory. (108) In Cockcrow, the Five Sins (Pride, Wrath, Sloth, Envy, and [Nunsclipj Lechery) seem to be personifications of Cyril’s motivations for murdering his father and a number of “innocent” bystanders as well as for committing suicide.8 Another in dicator of this relationship between the Sins and Cyril is the latter’s stammering because it can be seen as a conceptual marker of the Sins’ creation. Cyril’s stammer in this way oc curs only at the beginning of the play; to be more precise, it only occurs up to the point where the Sins take on more self- sufficient roles and lose some of their status as Cyril’s motivations. For these reasons, Cyril’s stammer signifies a linguistic diminishment that simultaneously serves as an origin for the Sins. In his study The Poetics of Personification, James Paxson describes a similar psychic or linguistic diminishment among human personae in medieval personification narratives. This diminishment is manifest in a particular psychic, physical and spiritual condition that overcomes the narrator at the outset 8 Watson omits two of the traditional Seven Deadly Sins, Covetousness and Gluttony, perhaps because they are not as relevant to Cyril’s character and his motivations as the other vices; indeed, there is nothing in Cockcrow to suggest that Cyril desires wealth or food. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 100 of the text. Paxson calls this condition dorveille. He goes on: The psychic [or linguistic] reduction concomitant upon dorveille . . . gives rise to the narratorial apprehension, or more accurately, the narratorial in vention or generation of personified abstractions, objects, or places. Personification characters enjoy a metaphorical “emergence” from the mind of the diminished actant or narrator. (95) In explaining this emergence of personifications, Paxson in corporates Fletcher’s psychoanalytical approach into a broader phenomenological one. If a personification grows out of a gen erating consciousness that ends up as a psychic vestige or a fragment, then the invention of personifications entails a critique of the myth of “holism” attributable to the human con sciousness. This critique, according to Paxson, is at the heart of all phenomenology (97). Angus Fletcher, in fact, provides a psychoanalytic reading of personifications as psychic “daemons” or as the literary images of the obsessive- compulsive or the manic-depressive consciousness in its manic phases.9 Paxson reinterprets Fletcher’s complementary charac terological ratios into a phenomenological formula which con trasts the diminished character with the personifications: Fletcher’s . . . characterological descriptions, therefore, are really phenomenological equations wherein personifications, as fragments or facets of an ostensibly “whole” human consciousness, function as synecdochal emblematic images of this super See Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, ch. 1 “The Daemonic Agent” and ch. 6 “Psychoanalytic Analogues: Obsession and Compulsion.” The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 101 ordinate consciousness which is itself incomplete. (98) Paxson’s remarks help to clarify the function of the Five Sins in Cockcrow. I understand Cyril’s stammer as the linguistic diminishment that Paxson describes as dorveille. Stammering, which adds vowels and consonants to words, and bab bling, which removes them from words, represent the two poles of linguistic disfiguration whose spectrum mirrors consciously invented figuration and disfiguration.10 Paxson concludes: As the product of the diminished human consciousness, [unconsciously disfigured language] becomes the con ceptual marker or signal flag for the parallel crea tion of animational figures--the walking and brea thing prosopopeias of allegorical narrative. (116) A similar process occurs in Cockcrow, where Cyril’s stammer is the conceptual marker for the creation of the Five Sins. Yet the Five Sins do not only function as allegorical per sonifications; they also develop into more self-motivated characters who urge Cyril to avenge his mother by killing the murderer, namely his father Higgins. Watson here uses the vices in a role that resembles that of the classical Erinyes, or Furies, who are agents of divine retribution, seeking both justice and vengeance for wrongs done to kinsfolk. The Erinyes appear in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides, where they pursue Orestes 10 This mirroring may be accountable for the fact that in the medieval ages stammering was considered an expression of divine inspiration and a vatic activity. This also explains the expression “prophetic stammering.” The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 102 after he has killed his mother. In one of their choral speeches to Orestes, they announce their purpose as follows: This the purpose that the all-involving destiny spun, to be ours and to be shaken never: when mortals assume outrage of own hand in violence, these we dog, till one goes under earth. Nor does death set them altogether free. (lines 334-40) The last sentence shows that the Erinyes are active in both this world and the next, a characteristic Watson transfers to the 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 be ginning of The Eumenides, the Erinyes are asleep right next to Orestes, who is awake, and have to be awakened to pursue their vengeance. Chiding them for allowing Orestes to escape their vengeance, Clytemnestra rouses the Erinyes from sleep and reproaches them further: “Oh, whimper, then, but your man has got away and gone / far” (lines 118-19). In Cockcrow, Watson ironically reverses this situation (Orestes awake, Erinyes as leep): Cyril is asleep and the Sins are awake. Pride and Wrath rebuke Cyril in the same way that Clytemnestra rebuked the Erinyes: “Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. / Pursue. Pursue. Pur sue” (Plays 71). That Cyril kills not only Higgins but also OReilly, Alice, Greta, and Iris suggests that the vices’ function goes beyond that of the Erinyes. The vices develop into cynical creatures who urge Cyril to pursue and kill indiscriminately anyone who The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 103 criticizes his revenge. This latter role aids the vices in counselling Cyril to take his own life in order to bring the others to ultimate justice: WRATH. They’ve got away from you CYRIL. How? PRIDE. You’ve got them on the lam Ergo, chase after them CYRIL. How? PRIDE. sweetly You have a key in your hand to open a door in your brow WRATH, PRIDE. Then you can plough Them right Up to the very judgement seat. (69) The “key” is, of course, the pistol and the act suggested is suicide. The “judgement seat” is a reference to the Revelation of St. John, where the dead will be judged from a white seat according to their works (20.11-15). The accused in the trial are Cyril, Higgins, Cockcrow, Greta, Iris, Alice and OReilly, now chained together as prisoners. The charges are as follows: homicide (Thomas Hig gins), patricide, wanton homicide and suicide (Cyril Higgins), prostitution and disorderly living (Alice, Greta, Iris, Cock crow), and procuring and living off the proceeds of prostitu tion (OReilly) (Plays 81-82). Convinced that he drove the others to the judgement seat, however, Cyril protests his own arraignment by pointing out that his father made a murderer of him. He contends that he is not to blame. But Pride dis regards Cyril’s objections because “there is no addition to the evidence here” (77) and proceeds with sentencing the prisoners. In light of the Sins’ origination from Cyril’s consciousness The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 104 and their subsequent alignment with Cyril, it is highly ironic that Pride sentences him first: “I will punish the young man first / to Cyril Look this way. / I sentence you to be hanged” (77). That the Sins thus turn against him can be seen as a further development in the status of the personifications. Generated from the dorveille of Cyril’s consciousness and, as such, manifestations of parts of his consciousness, they begin to separate themselves from their origin in order to constitute self-sufficient characters. Significantly, once the Sins take on the roles of the Erinyes, the conceptual marker of their origination, Cyril’s stammer, disappears. The development from personifications to characters begins when the Sins turn into Erinyes and reaches its climax when the Sins blind Cyril. Once the Sins detect hesitation on the part of the prisoners to punish God according to their sentence, they punish and torture Cyril by blinding him: WRATH. Let’s put out his eyes CYRIL. It will be just like King John mimics Higgins “And wilt thou with thine hands put out both mine eyes?” “And I will” “Wilt thou?” “And I will” COCKCROW. Let’s get it done HIGGINS. Won’t you stand firm behind me, mates WOMEN. Why don’t they do what is wanted HIGGINS. We’ll call their bluff WOMEN. speaking quickly . . . as Wrath and Envy pre sent Cyril to Pride Maybe they’ll call ours PRIDE. puts out Cyril’s eyes There. And there throws eyeballs on ground The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 105 LECHERY, picks up eyeballs and holds them on the flat of her hand 0 boy, he’s making eyes at me CYRIL. miserably Whoopee. Now for the first time I can see. (Plays 90) This blinding scene deploys many literary allusions. One is to Shakespeare’s King John. The original passage occurs in act four, scene one of the play in which Hubert has orders to blind young Arthur. Their long dialogue consists of Arthur’s plead ing and Hubert’s growing unease with his task. Finally over come with mercy for Arthur, Hubert refuses to blind Arthur and sets him free. I quote the lines Watson alludes to: ARTHUR. Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes? 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” emphasize ironically the repetitive nature of Arthur’s pleading. Cyril’s blinding also parallels Gloucester’s blinding in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Cyril’s remark, “Whoopee. Now for the first time I can see,” is doubly ironic because it ex presses the fate of Gloucester, who must first be blind to “see” the intrigues and evil surrounding him, and because it expresses the misery of this breakthrough. Yet Watson’s blind ing scene is also reminiscent of Jean Paul Sartre’s Les mouches, where the Erinyes are intent on punishing Orestes for the murder of his mother by blinding him. Zeus, however, does not allow this punishment. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Fostniodern 106 Cyril’s blinding has another precursor in Prudentius’ Psychomachia where the precise demolition of eyes, teeth, and tongue reverses the movement of personification. According to Paul de Man, this movement of personification is the fiction of an apostrophe to an absent, deceased, or voiceless entity, which posits the possibility of the latter’s reply and confers upon it the power of speech. Voice assumes mouth, eye, and finally face, a chain that is manifest in the etymology of the trope’s name, prosopon poem, to confer a mask or a face (prosopon). (qtd. in Paxson 69) Destroying the face that personification confers signifies in the Psychomachia the Vices’ defeat and the Virtues’ victory. In Cockcrow, the Sins’ punishment of Cyril can be seen to com mence reversing the movement of personification. Perhaps, this reversal is one of the primary goals of the Sins because it would establish their end as personifications of Cyril’s motivations and their beginning as autonomous characters. By destroying Cyril, the Sins could declare victory too. Because of Higgins’s intervention on Cyril’s behalf, Cyril remains the only one to be sentenced, which seems to indicate another shift in the Sins’ role. While the Sins appeared at first as Cyril’s personified vices and then as Erinyes, in stigating Cyril’s revenge, during the trial they appear as Cyril’s judges, holding him accountable for those deeds that they themselves advised. The development of the Sins attests to a chain of control that begins and ends with the authority of the allegorist. Watson inscribes his melancholy in Cyril’s dorveille that in The Work of (*ilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 107 turn generates the Sins. The development of the vices takes its course from being personifications of Cyril’s motivations to self-motivated characters who turn against Cyril and sentence and torture him. At the end of the play, the vices provide 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 a look at the trial in The Trial of Corporal Adam. In this play, act one leads to the trial that takes up the entire second act of the play. Corporal Adam stands accused of misappropriating death. Watson personifies the latter as Deth, who brings charges against Adam before God. But God insists on showing mercy: GOD. If this my creature, Adam, Has faults (and he has) still I have mercy DETH. Yes, deity. But you will find he has more blemish Than you have mercy for. [. . .1 Well: let me ask what fault he must engrave Upon 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 children Before 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 in creasingly powerless; nonetheless, God concedes that Adam “shall answer for his faults,” not by being forfeit outright to Deth, but in a trial: “You shall not hang him without trial” (117). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postøodern 108 In The Trial of Corporal Adam, all legal roles seem un ambiguous: Adam chooses Deth to be his judge. Deth then calls on Holy Church to be the prosecutor. When it comes to finding a counsel for the defense, Deth can only think of one, namely Mefistofilis, whom Adam accepts as a “paramour of legal wit” (130) against the warnings of his wife. However, a closer look reveals that Watson introduces considerable ambiguity by align ing separate legal roles with the same characters. Thus, the judge 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 a counsel for the defense. As a result of these role duplica tions, Watson creates dramatic irony by making the audience aware of the secret pact between Deth and Mefistofilis even be fore the trial begins. In this way, the audience realizes that the trial is fundamentally flawed and unjust. In Cockcrow, Alice assumes that the judge of their trial must 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 word Cockcrow . . . is . . . that . . . man . . . there God? (Plays 77) The “awfulness” of this realization lies in the fact that the Sins are the judges with Pride presiding. That Pride is the chair of this bench seems to be based entirely on his physical strength: he is the one to win the quarrel with the other Sins about who gets to sit at the centre of the bench and hence The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 109 declares 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’ In Cockcrow, the vices are “members of a local jazz orchestra of some reputation, THE FIVE SINS” (17) of which Pride is the maestro.’2 Of the vices, he is on stage most often. Watson prescribes only the legal roles of judges and ac cused. The roles of plaintiff and counsel for the defense change with the situations. For instance, after Pride sentences Cyril to be hanged, Higgins clumsily defends his son: We ain’t not one of us done what we ought to have done. 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 accusation In 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 (radix vitiorum), see, for instance, St. Viktor passim. 12 The Sins’ association with jazz adds an element of las civiousness to their appearances: they are familiar with the red-light district because they are jazz musicians and are employed there. Thus, in the first scene where they assemble in a “street of brothels,” they make fun of Cyril’s embarrass ment (17). Only on one occasion do the vices play their in struments directly, namely when they try to rouse Cyril from his sleep (71). But they sing (105) and dance (85). Watson often extends the performative aspect of his plays to include music but leaves the extent of the musical aspect to the dis cretion of the director. Examples are Cockcrow, Make Love Not Wasps (in which he uses musical bridges), and The Rock Hook (which is a dramatization of Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook for theatre ensemble and a rock band). Murray Schafer, on the other hand, stays in control of the extent of music in his theatrical works. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 110 But soon after Higgins attempts Cyril’s defense, Cyril accuses Higgins and thus slips into the role of plaintiff: HIGGINS. It’s environment that is to blame. CYRIL. points finger at Higgins It’s that swine there that’s to blame. [. . .1 He emptied a teapot on my mother. (79) These role swappings and the notable confusion they create in the courtroom and, in extension, among the audience nonetheless support the dichotomy of judges and accused, a dichotomy which itself is never in question. This dichotomy determines the un derlying power structure of the trial. It is only in the con clusion of the play that Watson’s irony subverts the dichotomy of judges and accused in favor of a third entity, redemption. Pride is responsible for the verdict of the trial in Cock crow. The fact that he pronounces judgement in overriding Wrath’s objections certifies both his position as chair of the bench 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 first that “Environment is the world” and then that God made the world, Pride says that “if the world’s to blame for what the prisoners severally have done, / Then God’s to blame” (78). Wrath objects to this argument, but Pride is adamant in pursu ing 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 111 With its mass extermination of the Jews at Belsen and elsewhere; The mass bombing of Berlin and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; The turning of live steam on rioting prisoners; The lynching of negroes; and the sterilization of vagrants 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 either God or else a scarecrow that may serve as an image of God. He also turns this crucifixion into a ritual, complete with repetitions 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.” repeated In nailing this scarecrow through the hands, we have nailed God through the hands repeated In nailing this scarecrow through the feet, we have nailed God through the feet repeated [. . .] In putting this scarecrow to death, we have put God to death all, except Higgins, repeat (92-93) Once they drive more nails into the scarecrow, “to make sure” as Pride demands, the scarecrow begins bleeding. Cyril only participated in the crucifixion through his verbal (and spiritual’3) support. In spite of the ill omen of the Cyril aids Cockcrow, who nails hands and feet of the scarecrow to the cross, by providing spiritual guidance: “I will be your eyes. / I have eyes in every drop of my blood / To see that it is God-- / Let us forgive ourselves, / But first we must punish God” (92). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 112 scarecrow’s bleeding, Cyril says, “They have crucified God. / Now let us forgive ourselves.” But forgiveness is beyond OReilly, who remarks while leaving, “I can never forgive myself” (93). Hence the state of the characters seems to be one of (eternal) damnation, a judgement corroborated by the cheerless Alice, who says: I will pick myself up and take myself away And deposit myself somewhere And having abandoned myself there, There will be no need to forgive myself [. . .1 I’ll be rid of myself. (94) Alice expresses well the desolation she feels when considering her situation. Watson knows that something more is needed than a mere appeal, like Cyril’s, to forgive. In the last act, Alice appears to have gone mad; she prac tices “outward forms of graciousness [so that] heaven will flow into [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 also aids her with the crossing and then says, “now take it, and set free the others” (97). She immediately complies and asks Greta and 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 the world. . . . (97) The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 113 By asking first for Cyril whose motivations the vices at first personified, Alice hints at a struggle between personified virtues and vices to win the favor of “man.”4 Until the final scene, Watson favors the vices over the virtues. The vices control through Cyril’s actions the other characters. The enigmatic logger who turns shepherd in the last act represents the virtues’ side. As a logger he refuses to participate or even witness the crucifixion, and as a shepherd he provides the pearl that will redeem them all. That he appears as a shepherd recalls the Christian metaphor of Christ as shepherd of humankind, a metaphor here supported by the pearl, a sacred object, which leads to a direct confronta tion with the vices in the final scene where the belief gener ated by the pearl creates an invisible protective wall against which the Sins rage in vain (103-04). The pearl could be seen as the kingdom of heaven, thus drawing on the medieval English poem Pearl which itself draws on the gospel of Matthew.’5 ‘ This struggle aligns the play with the tradition that began with Prudentius’ Psychomachia and reached its climax in the miracle plays and moralities of the middle ages. While in the Psychomachia the virtues took on the vices in one-on-one combats, in the later miracle plays and moralities the treat ment of the vices became gradually less formulaic and more com plex until they developed in Shakespeare’s age into characters who were no longer one-dimensional and no longer focused on one vice only--an example would be the eponymous hero of Richard III. 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 is extravagant and out of place. Instead of grieving for his daughter, he should try to attain that pearl for himself which the jeweller in the gospel of Matthew sought and found (see “The parable of the pearl” in Matt. 8.45-46). The daughter The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 114 In Cockcrow, the pearl is a threat to the Sins because it cancels 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 accompany the handing on of the pearl and establish a new and positive community. The choric lament of “Cor meum . . . con tristaretur changes to the choric incantation of the Agnus Dei (103), signifying, as it does in the Catholic mass, the redemp tion of human guilt through Christ’s suffering. The manner in which the pearl makes its round further supports this sig says: ‘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 115 nification: Alice holds it up, then puts it in the mouth of the kneeling OReilly as though it were the wafer of the Eucharist. Alice’s language in its breathless fragments reflects her ecstacy: breathlessly [. . . I I bring you . . . this pearl holds it up Stand still in my words. Look. I had it from. When in the morning White as. This pearl mild as babies’ milk. I give it you. Because Stand still in my words. Put it in your mouth Let 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 on ly” (104), a phrase taken verbatim from the Catholic liturgy. Furthermore, when he puts the pearl in Cockcrow’s mouth, OReil ly’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 regains his eyesight. Because of redemption, the vices have lost the battle for Cyril. The key issue in both Cockcrow and Corporal Adam is the redemption of the eponymous characters and the groups of characters associated with them. In both plays, a deus ex machina prompts redemption after the characters have been charged, tried, found guilty, and sentenced. Although the tn- The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postifioderfi 116 als exhibit some parallels to an absolute and binding Last Judgement, Watson also makes clear to what extent these trials and their verdicts are unjust and flawed. At first sight, then, these acts of redemption appear to correct the outcome of the trials; yet, redemption is also flawed because it too is unjustified. The shepherd gives Alice the pearl and releases her and the others from the guilt of having crucified an image of God and 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 hu mankind, which can be seen to originate in the shepherd’s Christ-like status. But Cockcrow and the others have not done anything to deserve that love. Likewise, the eponymous character in Corporal Adam does not deserve the all-encompassing mercy of God-the-father. Wat son points out that we should see this mercy as a comment on the “flower-power” movement of the 1960s. The play thus ends “with a repentant Everyman forgiven by the flower-children’s god, a smooth-faced father, theologically younger than his son” (109). The two kinds of redemption Watson has chosen for his plays lead, in Cockcrow, to the Eucharist and, in Corporal Adam, to complete reconciliation between Everyman and God. However, the plays do not end on these harmonious notes. 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(160) But the strongest doubt in redemptive mercy occurs in the “Epilogue 1988,” where Mefistofilis tells Deth that “This trial of Corporal Adam as a war criminal / Will go on and on until a wall / Has been found for his public execution” (161). Thus the zeal of Adam’s enemies is as resilient as God’s mercy is encompassing and the play appears in retrospect merely as one installment of Corporal Adam’s ongoing suffering. In both plays, Watson approaches the pursuit of truth and responsibility through treatments of the Last Judgement. These treatments take on qualities of an ultimate or final allegory that will put an end to all allegories because the Last Judge ment promises to provide access to an ultimate signified, in this case divine and absolute justice. For Watson, divine jus tice is an ethical signified that would settle once and for all the issues of truth and responsibility. However, he cannot at tain that signified because his allegories can only construct an intermediary moral sphere between the objective world (which all characters leave) and the transcendental signified of divine justice. This intermediary sphere helps to situate the subject by means of arbitrary truths and illusionistic certainties because it is an arbitrarily constructed sphere based solely on the authority of allegory. As an arbitrary The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 119 construct that is the site of that authority, this sphere is ideological through and through. According to Paul Smith, postmodern allegory tries to sub vert and replace the ideology of symbolism. Smith’s argument is based on Benjamin’s Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels which describes the romantic dichotomy of allegory and sym bolism in dialectical terms. Once the allegorist recognizes that his construct belongs to the same dialectics as the one it replaced and is ideological too, allegory has failed: Because of its moral base, allegory is doomed to an endless circularity in which its destruction of one morality and truth is followed by the realization that its own morality and truth belong in the same arena.’6 (P. Smith 119). Watson, it seems, is fully aware of an “endless circularity” in his plays; he has heard the devil’s laugh, which is why he overturns last judgements by redemption and ridicules that redemption in the last scenes of his plays. What remains is the endless struggle of life itself which is also the life of 16 Paraphrasing Benjamin, Smith says that at that point the allegorist hears the “devil’s laugh.” The passage in Ben jamin is not as straightforward, since he links allegoresis to materiality: “Just as the earthly sadness belongs to al legoresis, the hellish merriness belongs to a desire that the triumph of matter prevents from occurring. . . . The astute versatility of the human expresses itself and holds against the allegorist the mocking laughter of hell. This versatility transforms its materiality in the most far-fetched maze into a human-like self-consciousness.” [“Wie also die irdische Traurigkeit zur Allegorese gehort, so die höllische Lustigkeit zu ihrer im Triumph der Materie vereitelten Sehnsucht. . . Die kluge Versatilität des Menschen spricht sich selber aus und setzt, indem sie im verworfensten Kalkül ihr Materialisches im Selbstbewul3tsein menschenähnlich macht, dem Allegoriker das Hohngelächter der Hölle entgegen” (203).] The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 120 the recipient because Watson encourages the audience to join in the mockery of ultimate answers to the questions posed by life. For Watson, the ideas of a last judgement and of complete redemption appear to represent two highly suspect and prob lematic “solutions” to the issue of original sin. The last words of Cockcrow and the “Epilogue 1988” of Corporal Adam demonstrate that Watson believes above all in the reality of a collective guilt and a continuous trial. In this context it is significant that Mefistofilis calls himself more “real” than God (145-46). Indeed, to Watson, Mefistofilis is more real be cause neither does he believe in redemption (because he knows he will continue the prosecution of Adam), nor does he believe in the possibility of achieving Adam’s “public execution” (be cause he knows God will intervene in Adam’s behalf), although he claims that possibility to convince Deth to continue the struggle. The allegorical essence in these plays, then, is the belief in original sin or a collective guilt that we cannot es cape. All that remains is a continuous struggle. Watson tries to convey this belief to the audience by reducing dramatic dis tance between stage and audience at the end of both plays be cause this reduction--provided it really occurs in the produc tion at hand--makes the audience side with characters who re ject Last Judgements and redemption. In this way, then, Watson achieves his didactic purpose: the audience joins him in his belief in a radical Catholicism whose credo is neither the Last Judgement nor redemption, but the continuing condition of original sin. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 121 With these two plays from the 1960s, we are at the threshold of Watson’s postmodernism. His allegorical vision is still very close to that of the theatre of the absurd. Watson later coined the term “radical absurdity” for his theatre, and I will show in the last section of this chapter how he situates his new theatre in extension of as well as in opposition to the theatre of the absurd. The traits of his radical absurdity, already visible in the early 1960s as a spirituality marked by a profound belief in original sin and a near obsessive re— jection of last judgements and final redemptions, will be bent in the late l960s towards secular rituals through which he tries to convert the audience to his view of multi- consciousness as a possible key-experience in the postmodern era. But before moving on to Watson’s secular rituals of the late l960s, let us look ahead to his ritualistic treatment of the calvary in the early 1980s. This detour will clarify Wat son’s allegorical method by analyzing his attitude towards his tory. Watson views the McLuhanesque “global village” as funda mentally ahistorical. That is why he implements atemporal rituals into his treatment of the calvary. There are also some gender specific rituals which deserve special attention because they reveal Watson’s profound ambiguity towards women. This ambiguity will again be at issue in the last section of this chapter. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 122 Meaningful Reversals In Gramsci x 3, Watson transforms a biography into an atemporal (and ahistorical) ritual. I understand this trans formation as allegorical because Watson starts with the biographicat information (for the most part gleaned from Giuseppe Fiori’s Antonio Gramsci: Life of a Revolutionary) but goes on to distort this information until he gives us a version of Gramsci’s life that is entirely a construct of Watson’s im agination. In other words, he re-inscribes the biography of Gramsci with a new content. This re-inscription occurs in the allegorical gesture in which he replaces the temporality of history with a ritualistic, McLuhanesque pattern recognition. Furthermore, he uses the reversals of the calvary and of chronology to support his allegorical construct and to arrive at a truly (which for Watson means ahistorical) postmodern global village. Why does Watson choose Antonio Gramsci to undertake his deconstruction of biography? He provides a clue in the epigraph to Gramsci x 3, a quotation from James Joll’s Gramsci that addresses a paradox in Gramsci: “The greatest Marxist writer of the twentieth century, paradoxically, is also one of the greatest examples of the independence of the human spirit The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 123 from its materialist limitations.”’7 What J011 describes as a paradox is the seeming contradiction between Gramsci’s philosophy and his life. The former is based on materialism, while the latter shows how Gramsci transcended the materialist conditions of his imprisonment in order to survive and produce writings of a high intellectual calibre. Watson exploits Gramsci’s transcendence of his materialist limitations by turn ing him into a Christ-like figure suffering through an atemporal and thus endless calvary. Antonio Gramsci is an ideal vehicle to deconstruct a biography because of the ten sions 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 “note re script” for his 1989 drama-collection. As in the notes to the 1960s plays, Watson uses the “note re script” to hint at and explicate an allegorical meaning of the play that may otherwise be too obscure. Furthermore, Watson contends that to “translate the life of a revolutionary into an allegory about theatre as a revolutionary art” required a fair amount of poetic license when dealing with his source material. Watson directs attention to two words (“revolutionary” and “allegory”) he uses to describe the translation process. He points to the McLuhanesque 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 Officer from Cagliari,” “Finding Tatiana,” and “The Doing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci .“ The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 124 revolutions “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 calvary as a theatrical ritual and extend the metaphor of the calvary (which Fiori uses once [219]) into a full-fledged allegory des cribing Gramsci’s imprisonment. This allegory then involves, by virtue of its ritual, the recipient in Gramsci’s “victim ization to the machinocracy which rules us all,” thereby turn ing Gramsci into an Everyman with whom we can and should identify. The poetic license Watson reserves for himself is evident in a number of details. Examples are Tiu Gramsci’s detailed report of his trial (Plays 461-66), which is only mentioned in Fiori’s biography (15); Tatiana’s letter to the Gramscis (498- 500), which may be fictional because it is not mentioned in any of the sources I consulted, and the guard “Marco of Paulilatino in Sardinia,” who engages in conversation with Gramsci in “The Doing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci” (594) and is most likely in spired by a brief comment in Fiori’s biography about a guard from Paulilatino observing a visit by Gramsci’s brother (252). But there are four changes Watson undertakes that go beyond mere detail, and it is those we shall look at first to examine their dramatic importance with regard to the process of translation from history to allegory. These four changes are: (1) Edmea’s and Teresina’s age and relationship to Antonio 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 circum stances; and (4) The relationship between Tatiana and Mussolini. The first major change concerns Edmea and Teresina. While in “The Officer from Cagliari” they are both granddaughters to Tiu 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 Antonio Gramsci, a claim he suppots with letters in which Antonio reminisces about their playing together as children. Further more, in “The Officer,” Teresina is seventeen years of age, while in Fiori’s biography we read that Edmea was seventeen years at the time of Antonio’s death (290), while Teresina’s age is not given. Fiori mentions, however, that she married a postal official in 1924 (19) and that at the time of writing the biography, she was in her seventies, which would make her about 40 at the time of Gramsci’s death. The officer from Cagliari at one point alleges that Antonio Gramsci has a sister named Teresina upon which Teresina replies, “she is my aunt” (Plays 477). These ambiguities can be seen as Watson’s way of as similating the biographical material provided by Fiori to his own allegorical purposes. Watson thus establishes his author ity by letting his imagination fly and altering the historical information his play is based upon. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 126 His method is that of the melancholic allegorist: he takes Teresina, for instance, and assigns her a new meaning in his play. The scenes between Teresina and Edmea may gain some ten sion by virtue of their adolescence. This is the case in scene two, where Teresina and Edmea talk about Teresina’s first menstruation (437-38), having babies (440-41), or Teresina’s ambition to emulate her uncle Antonio Gramsci (438-39). Another major addition in “The Officer” is the eponymous character. While Cagliari stands in front of Mussolini’s portrait consulting his notebook, the chorus, which consists of women from the neighbouring villages, announces Cagliari’s ar rival: CH/ABBASANTA. It’s 1 the YOUNG 2 officer from 3 Cagliari . CH/SEDILO. It’s 4 the young 5 POLICE officer 6 from Cagliari . . . 7 CH/OTTANO. christ, it’s 8 that young 9 cocksucker 1 from Cagliari . . . 2 CH/SEDILO. the young 3 police officer 4 from Cagliari . . . 5 CH/DUALCHI. young cocksucker . . . 6 CH/NEONELI. police officer . . . 7 etc. cocksucker (467) In this choric flurry of voices, the appelation “cocksucker” seems to compete with, if not replace, the term “police of ficer,” and it conveys the women’s perception of an underlying The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 127 homoeroticism in fascism. This homoeroticism is amply docu mented with regard to fascism’s Führerkult.’8 Cagliari’s intention is to harass the Gramscis. He orders Teresina to undress because he claims that she is really Antonio Gramsci. Teresina at first tries to comply, but then she turns to the chorus of women, blurting out “I’m menstruat ing” (486). Without any hesitation, the women seize Cagliari and accuse him: “You came here with the intention of sexually molesting the Gramsci girl” (487). Dismissing suggestions for funnelling coal-oil in Cagliari’s mouth, they intend to use it for 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 for his ill-intent towards the menstruating Teresina. The tortures appear as Watson’s sexual fantasy of a women’s solidarity that avenges an attempted sexual crime against a woman with another sexual crime.’9 Cagliari attempts to dominate Teresina but is in turn dominated by the women. 18 See, for instance, the homophobic moral outrage William Shirer manifests whenever he discusses “notorious” homosexuals among the Nazi leadership (307). Because Shirer’s is an early study of fascist Germany (1950) inhibited by the anti-gay bias of its times, I take his discussions as unacknowledged demonstrations of homoeroticism in fascism and especially its leadership cult. ‘ The tortures in Gramsci x 3 parallel the ones at the end of The Woman Taken in Adultery, where a similar women’s solidarity comes about and leads to the stoning of the male lawyers for their attempt to punish the adulteress. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 128 A possible reading of this scene is that Watson uses the graphic, sexual tortures to express the Old Testament notion of justice, namely revenge.20 This notion of justice ties in with Watson’s rejection of final redemption because the “eye for an eye” justice does not allow for any forgiveness or rehabili tation. As such, the women’s actions portray an empowerment of women. They stand up against injustices done to one of their own, and they fight back. The gender coding of the tortures, however, suggests a reading that focusses on the complex processes of Watson’s identification with the torturers and/or the tortured. To begin with, it seems that Watson identifies with Cagliari because, like Cagliari, he is awaiting the wrath of women who stand up in solidarity for those women he has abused in the many instances of chauvinism or even misogyny in his plays;2’ Watson and Cagliari, therefore, are brothers in crime and 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 stoning of the lawyers in The Woman Taken in Adultery, where the law yers’ “hurling” of accusations against the adulteress is avenged by the women’s hurling of rocks against them. 21 See for instance the brutal transformation of the wife in The Whatnot into a piece of furniture that is sold by her husband and the aging and rebirthing rituals in Let’s Murder Clytemnestra According to the Principles of Marshall McLuhan (see also below). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 129 counters a moral impasse: how can he identify with a model- fascist and still continue to present Gramsci as an unjustly suffering victim of the fascist state? As a result of this moral impasse, Watson represses his desire to identify with Cagliari and channels this energy into supporting the women’s solidarity and their tortures; in other words, he deflects his masochism into sadism so that these two aspects of his attitude merge into a form of sadomasochism. In the course of torture, the experienced, older women in itiate the young Teresina into their ranks. Sèdilo, for in stance, shouts to the hesitant seventeen year old: “Teresina, come and see what a Fascist prick looks like” (489). This con cern for initiation strengthens the women’s solidarity, which is expressed in the increasing violence of their intentions towards 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 a pole. Watson thus adds another turn to his fantasy of women’s solidarity in that he portrays Cagliari as the prey of a bar barous hunting tribe. Identifying the ritual of barbarous, sexual torture with women indicates a denigration of women be cause it classifies them as belonging to a less developed evolutionary stage of humanity than that of his male charac The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 130 ters.22 This denigration undermines the empowerment of women. If fascism can be seen as the epitome of brutality, in stitutionalizing, as Watson maintains very compellingly in “The Doing-to-Death,” government-condoned tortures, then the women’s portrayal as a torturing tribe emerges as a descent to the status 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 his ritualistic defamation of women and appears to be another side of his male chauvinism. The references to anal stimulation (through massage or in duced diarrhea) denote a possible anal-retentive character dis position in Cagliari. Indeed, he is very concerned and even obsessed with keeping order. That he meticulously documents in his notebook what he perceives as disorder also reveals his urge for order: in his notebook, he redefines any disorder into issues that fascist law can (and will) control (see, for in stance, Tiu’s outcry (“Murderers and assassins!”) that Cagliari promptly writes down [470]). Cagliari can be seen as a model fascist or as the stereotypical fascist who does not emerge as a character in his own right but rather as a type representing a political era.23 22 Even Cagliari, the model fascist and exponent of a system based on brutality and suppression, is never shown on stage engaging in brutalities. He merely verbalizes his inten tions of doing harm to Teresina. 23 In some of his plays from the 1960s, Watson peoples his plays with “caricatures,” indicating that they are not fully developed characters, but rather one-dimensional farcical The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 131 In “Finding Tatiana,” Watson takes considerable poetic li cense when he creates Gramsci’s speech to the Chamber of Deputies and an ensuing meeting of Gramsci and Mussolini. Gramsci’s first and last speech to the Chamber of Deputies was on a Fascist law ostensibly aimed against Freemasonry but also disciplining the activities of associations and clubs in gener al. Gramsci, according to Fiori, was “no resounding orator” and the Fascists had to keep quiet for once in order to un derstand acoustically what he was saying, a circumstance that did not keep them from interrupting (193-96). Watson changes the topic of Gramsci’s speech into a response to the Matteotti affair, which happened some time before Gramsci’s speech. The Matteotti affair caused the temporary exit of all communist deputies from the Chamber to protest Mussolini’s involvement in Matteotti’s murder (170-74). Watson counterpoints Gramsci’s speech with Julka’s and Tatiana’s dialogue on Gramsci’s destiny and how it draws others into serving it. The theme of the dialogue is highlighted in the hostility of Gramsci’s direct accusations of Mussolini because they will also endanger his wife and child. The last point comes clearly across in scene 13, a dialogue between Mussolini and Gramsci in which Mussolini con gratulates Gramsci for a “very good” speech but also inquires about Gramsci’s wife and baby. Furthermore, Mussolini says types. The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 132 that all through Gramsci’s speech, he found himself worrying about Gramsci’s health which appears to be a veiled threat. Watson uses an anecdote in Fiori as a starting point for the encounter between Mussolini and Gramsci. However, in Fiori’s account no dialogue between the two men existed: It has often been said--though there seem to be no direct witnesses of the incident--that Mussolini saw Gramsci immediately afterwards, having a coffee in the parliamentary bar, and went up to him with out stretched 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 romanticize Gramsci by stressing his stern anti-fascism. However, Watson’s version of having the fascist and the communist amiably chat with each other can be seen to level political oppositions. This levelling can be seen as a conservative strategy and would support my contention that Watson is sympathetic to fascism, as indicated above in his repressed identification with Cagliari. Watson sacrifices accurate observance of his sources for greater dramatic coherence, since introducing the historical topic and background of Gramsci’s speech would no doubt dis perse the dramatic tension that Watson gradually increases after Matteotti’s murder in scene 5. In “The Doing-to-Death of Antonio Gramsci,” Tatiana engages in an extended dialogue with Mussolini and becomes his mistress, 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 not The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postisodern 133 find anything in Watson’s sources to substantiate such a rela— tionship between Tatiana and Mussolini; however, Gramsci’s sister Teresina sent a personal letter to Mussolini asking him to permit a medical examination and a stay in a prison hospi tal. The fascists granted both wishes but only under the har shest conditions (Fiori 233). In Gramsci, James Joll describes Tatiana’s activities: [Tatiana] remained in Italy and assumed the responsibility for giving [Gramscil such help as she could by writing, by visiting him and--often against his wishes--by trying every legal, political and per sonal means to gain his release or at least to obtain proper medical care for him. (73) When positing an amour between Tatiana and Mussolini, Watson is letting his imagination fly to explore a possible underlying reason, namely the Kierkegardian desperation, for the efforts of sister and sister-in-law to achieve a more “humane” im prisonment for Gramsci, even if that meant compromising his political stance and their personal integrity. Gramsci’s let ters substantiate Watson’s analysis to a certain degree. He wrote to Tatiana: On the whole you like to picture me as a man insist ing on his right to suffer, to be a martyr, unwilling to be defrauded of one single second or nuance of his punishment. You see me as another Gandhi desirous of bearing universal witness to the torments of the In dian people, or as another Jeremiah or Elijah (or whatever the Hebrew prophet was called) deliberately eating unclean things in public to draw the wrath of the gods down upon him. (qtd. in Fiori 220) Fiori himself, however, goes on to refute Gramsci’s view of Tat iana: In reality, Gramsci was extremely conscious of the practical result and meaning of all forms of action, The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 134 and had always felt repugnance for inconclusive ges tures. The rhetoric of self-sacrifice was a sentimental trap he was unlikely to fall into. (220) Fiori supports his assumption by pointing to Gramsci’s attitude of never enduring any unnecessary suffering if he could avoid it by appealing to laws and regulations. However, he also grants that Gramsci never appealed for anything beyond the law from the Fascist state for fear of receiving personal clemency. Watson quotes the other corroborating letter of Gramsci as an epigraph to “The Doing-to-Death.” It is in his letter to his brother Carlo that Gramsci talks about Tatiana’s efforts on his behalf and distances himself from her efforts if they made the Fascist regime look as though they granted him a “personal con cession” for which he would have to write “an official request, giving as reason that [he] had changed [his] views, now recog nized this, that and the other, and so on” (qtd. in Fiori 221). In “The Doing-to-Death,” the Fascist prison doctors ask Gramsci to sign as “a mere formality” a form stating his agree ment to work on a critique of the Fascist myth according to the wishes of Mussolini, who wants to keep Gramsci alive until such time that this critique is finished (Plays 573). Gramsci refuses to sign this form but the doctors tell him that “you are one of us [. . . I IRREGARDLESS of whether you sign it or not” (572). It seems as though the characters peopling Gramsci x 3 have lost their historical significance in exchange for a new significance in Watson’s imaginative construct. A loosening of The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 135 referentiality marks the translation process from biography to allegory. Here we see the melancholic gazing at the historical events as related in a biography and experiencing a loss of an awareness for ritual patterns. The allegorical gesture originates 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 the stations of the cross. The idea for such a treatment may have occurred to Watson when he saw how Fiori introduces Gramsci’s imprisonment. Fiori writes: “The long calvary of Antonio Gramsci was beginning” (219). However, Watson used the sta tions of the cross as an organizing metaphor before writing the Gramsci plays. The last poem in I Begin with Counting is in this way a blueprint for “The Doing-to—Death.” “Returning to Square One” is a number grid verse for two voices. These voices take turns, one voice announcing the movement from sta tion to station, while the other announces the event each sta tion signifies. Only at the last station does Watson break this pattern, and both voices announce the events of the sta tion. On the one hand, Watson uses the calvary to present Gramsci’s imprisonment in order to present Gramsci as the vic tim, as the lamb, as Jesus Christ. Because of our identifica tion with Gramsci, assisted by the fact that Christ was crucified on behalf of us in order to begin a new covenant be- l’he Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postajodern 136 tween God and “man,” we can all claim to be victims. In his “note re script,” Watson fosters this identification by speak ing of the “victimization to the machinocracy which rules us all” (Plays 433). As well, identification and participation are key features of his 1960s plays where he encourages the audience to break down dramatic distance. On the other hand, Gramsci could be accused of sharing in the guilt of his plight, and, if we identify with him, we can all be accused in this way. We all bear the guilt, for that is what Christ’s suffering symbolizes in the first place. Accord ing to the Christian belief, Christ took on himself the guilt of “mankind” and died on the cross for that guilt. Significantly, Watson reverses the stations when he uses the metaphor of the calvary: starting at the fourteenth sta tion, he moves back to the first, adding “it is here we must begin” (Poems 289, Plays 601). This reversal is ironic. For Watson, the end is the beginning. And the beginning is not on ly the first station of the calvary, but it is also “square one,” or the forum in the global village of his McLuhanesque world in which human interaction is possible and where the direction of events is still undetermined. Yet the events are also interminable because any end is merely another beginning. It seems that Watson inscribes a similar allegorical meaning to the calvary as he did to the rituals he integrated into his plays from the early 1960s. In Watson’s world, the end of the calvary is the beginning of yet The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 137 another or even the repetitions of the same Calvary. Watson in this way not only endlessly defers but altogether frustrates the hope that Catholics place in the calvary as preparation for the redemption of the Second Coming of Christ. What remains is a struggle that may even have the added desolation of repeating Sisyphus-like the same Calvary time and again.24 Let us take a look at the spiritual content of the cal vary. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the object of the Stations is . . . to make in spirit . . . a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s suffering and death” (569). The author of the Encyclopedia entry reaches this conclusion: It may be safely asserted that there is no devotion more richly endowed with indulgences than the Way of the Cross, and none which enables us more literally to obey Christ’s injunction to take up our cross and follow Him. (571) Using the term “literally” here seems curious because this literalness gives way instantaneously to the allegorical, name ly to an identification with and acceptance of the plight of “mankind” that Christ offset with his suffering through the calvary. 24 As a matter of fact, Watson’s reversal of the stations of the cross is historically accurate. Before the end of the 15th century, the general practice was to retrace Christ’s steps in Jerusalem, but in the opposite direction to Christ’s. Thus, the pilgrims would commence their walk at Mount Calvary and then proceed back to Pilate’s house. It was only by the beginning of the 16th century that the church regarded the “more reasonable” way of traversing the route as more correct and prescribed it in the 17th century in that order (Catholic Encyclopedia, v.15, 569). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 138 The reversal of the calvary directs attention to the ques tion of who is responsible for Gramsci’s/Christ’s death because the play/calvary now ends with Mussolini/Pilate declaring his innocence: GRAMSCI. [The medical officers’] achievement has one flaw. They have totally de-humanized me, except for this one adversary truth: I know I have been de humanized. . MUSSOLINI. And I believe him. Tatiana, take comfort. This crumb of illumination is 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 he perceives as responsible for Gramsci’s state. Watson uses Antonio Gramsci’s notion of pjiziopi1atismo. To Gramsci, ponziopilatismo signified an action designed to avoid responsibility. Watson takes Gramsci’s metaphorical con cept and “literalizes” it by applying it to Mus solini’s/Pilate’s actions. As a result, Watson presents Mus solini/Pilate as the unjust judge whose trial of Gramsci/Christ is a parody of justice. Mussolini’s gesture of blaming Tatiana for Gramsci’s death is a further injustice. Watson also links Mussolini’s gesture to the Electra Orestes theme introduced in “Finding Tatiana.” Gramsci comes to Rome with Julka’s instruction to find Tatiana. When Gramsci and Tatiana meet, they address each other as Orestes and Elec tra, a greeting they reiterate in consecutive encounters. Julka repeatedly criticizes Tatiana/Electra for provoking The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 139 Gramsci’s fateful actions by encouraging him to pursue his course rather than to change his mind. Julka first introduces the motive of Gramsci’s audacious pursuit of his course when she suggests that Eugenie marry Gramsci because she would “make him / set limits to his determination to martyr / himself to the lost cause of Italian / communism” (515). Because Eugenie cannot accommodate Julka’s request, Julka makes a similar plea to Tatiana: “You must persuade him Tatiana that he can’t help matters by simply throwing himself as a sacrifice at fate” (544). When Tatiana too does not act as requested, Julka ac cuses her: “You have made things much more difficult. . You have made him totally selfish by concentrating his atten tion upon himself.” Tatiana responds, “What he does is done according to his destiny” (547). Her choice of words reveals that Tatiana has accepted that Gramsci follows his course even if it spells out doom for him and those close to him. Julka (like Mussolini) construes this acceptance and active support of “destiny” as guilt in Gramsci’s death. Because of her central role in “Finding Tatiana” and “The Doing-to-Death” and her subordination to Gramsci’s fate, Tatiana can be seen to represent the “universal” female in a way similar to Electra in Let’s Murder Clytemnestra. The con tinuity in the name “Electra” with which Tatiana identifies is a further case in point. Mussolini and the long discussions he has with Tatiana serve as a screen that focuses her feelings of guilt. Tatiana/Electra in turn seeks alleviation of her guilt The Work üf Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 140 from Mussolini, who ultimately blames her all the more. Be cause of her inclination to take moral responsibility in a world in which such responsibility is an anachronism, she emerges ultimately as an outcast who does not belong and whom the world punishes with the blame for Gramsci’s fate. Gramsci x 3 moves from displaying a day in history to the presentation of an ahistorical, endless ritual that chronologi cally takes place before the day shown in part one of the tril ogy. This internal inconsistency serves, in my view, to emphasize the trait in Gramsci’s calvary that Watson brought to the foreground by reversing it, namely that the end is merely another beginning. In other words, Watson puts the day after Gramsci’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 seen to comment on the logic that we commonly apply to biographies and that depends on temporality. The temporality which un derlies this logic appears to have an impact on our understand ing of repetitive, ritualistic patterns in the plays. What, Watson seems to ask, if temporality stands in the way of “pat tern recognition” which, according to his interpretation of McLuhanesque education, is the poetry of environmental lan guage? Environmental language consists of everything the en vironment communicates to us, for instance, Watson mentions the “environmental language of plush theatre seats [that keep] in sisting ‘be comfortable, be passive, don’t respond, take it easy’” (“Education” 212, 208). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postiaodern 141 It is possible to infer the goal of Watson’s Gramsci x 3. Watson wants to teach his audience that environmental language can and should replace history so that the process of pattern recognition can replace historiography and biography. This didactic message brings us back to square one, which we should think of as a spatial, not a temporal move. To recapitulate, it is fair to say that Watson combines the loosening of referentiality with pattern recognition. In this way, he applies a McLuhanesque notion of education to the play. 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 historiography that Watson experiences as dead because it does not grasp events in terms of atemporal patterns. Grasping events as atemporal patterns emerges as the prerogative of a McLuhanesque stance that, in Watson’s view, is best described as postmodern. Let us move on then to a discussion of Watson’s understanding of McLuhan as well as to the issue of the postmodern. In the ensuing section, I will also speculate about the underlying motivation of Watson’s male chauvinism. As it turns out, this motivation is at the root of his belief and explains why Watson rejects last judgements and final redemption in favour of the eternal struggle of a radically absurd world. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 142 Postmodern Mul ti-Consciousnesses Wilfred Watson has been influenced throughout his career by Marshall McLuhan’s theories. This influence culminated dur ing the 1960s when Watson and McLuhan co-authored From Cliché to Archetype. Notwithstanding his admiration for McLuhan, Wat son was not an uncritical disciple of McLuhan’s theories. In spired by their collaboration, Watson developed a view of multi-consciousness rooted in McLuhan’s ideas which at the same time went beyond McLuhan in significant ways. One can only speculate as to why not more of Watson’s ideas found their way into From Cliché to Archetype, but there is some evidence to suggest that McLuhan failed to accept Watson as an equal part ner in the final stages of the production of the book. In Mar shall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, Philip Marchand describes their collaboration and concludes that the problems started once they sat down to dictate a draft to McLuhan’s sec retary: McLuhan did most of the dictating and ignored almost entirely every idea that had developed in the dialogues with Watson, reverting to his original thoughts on the subject. . . . As the year went on, McLuhan seemed less and less tolerant of Watson’s participation. . . . The “dialogue” had gradually become two monologues. (219) In “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” Watson’s des cription of the process of writing corroborates Marchand’s con clusions: The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 143 When we started to write in real earnest . . . the dialogue came to a standstill. Marshall McLuhan com menced to dictate, and, as for me, my role became advisory--to find a word or to recall some point we’d made in preliminary discussions. (198) Fortunately, Watson has also published a number of articles on McLuhanesque topics. For my argument, I rely on these arti cles, rather than on From Cliché to Archetype. According to Watson’s account of McLuhan’s theory and of their collaboration, the principal disagreement between the two men was that McLuhan insisted that the media are extensions of the human senses while, in Watson’s view, the media are multi plications of the senses. Watson suggests that McLuhan was so rigid in defending his view because it relied on utopian think ing: By thinking of perception as extending sense, Mar shall McLuhan could suppose that human beings are in tegrated one with the other through the imagination, which he says in The Gutenberg Galaxy, “is that ratio among the perceptions and faculties which exists when they are not embedded or outered in material tech nologies. When so outered, each sense and faculty becomes a closed system. Prior to such outering there is entire interplay among experiences.” (“Education” 216) McLuhan’s utopia is the belief in an unmediated and integrated perception prior to the extension of the senses in media and technologies. Thus the media extensions (or the “outering” of senses in them) constitute to the Catholic McLuhan a fall from grace. Watson continues: Ultimately, for McLuhan, the extensions of man are evil, as we can note in the immediate sequel to the text I have just quoted: “When the perverse ingenuity of man,” McLuhan goes on to say, “has outered some part of his being in material technology, his entire The Work of Wilfred Watsoll Allegories of the Postinodern 144 sense ratio is altered. He is then compelled to be hold this fragment of himself ‘closing itself as in steel’.” (216) For Watson, on the other hand, interface or “the radical jux taposition of opposites” fosters perception (216). The techni que of interface underlies “metaphor, paradox, montage, wit, possibly even sex, yin and yang, happenings” (216) and is thus creating sense (or new constellations) rather than extending it. In Watson’s view, then, perception goes from fragmentation (the juxtaposition of opposites) to integration (the emergence of new constellations). Both McLuhan and Watson hold onto the Catholic belief that the inescapable affliction with an original sin marks the human condition. Yet they still provide this belief, and hence their theories, with different emphases. To McLuhan, the outering of the senses in media and technologies constitutes an original sin that destroyed the utopian plenitude of an integrated per ception. This utopian plenitude is the key to McLuhan’s way of thinking. It can be seen either as a “fall from grace,” which is how Watson construed McLuhan’s stance, or else as an un attainable future condition. Both interpretations introduce a temporal element into McLuhan’s media theory that is irrecon cilable with an atemporal global village where only the present counts. To Watson, on the other hand, the continuous struggle triggered by original sin is atemporal (as in a “true” McLuhanesque global village), so that thinking about original sin itself and what preceded it does not make sense. The key The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 145 to Watson’s thinking is the continuous struggle that we cannot escape, neither in a Last Judgement nor in redemption. The on ly thing left to do is to face the struggle and bear the col lective 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 medium as a “psychophysical means” to observe the world and as a part of human awareness or consciousness. The multiplicity of senses, media and technologies making up consciousness leads to what Watson calls “multi-consciousness.” Because the media and technologies make sense, no two human beings can have the same mix of multi-consciousnesses. Watson thus unmasks the metaphor of the extension of sense as a strategic one. In the conclu sion to “Marshall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” Watson con siders McLuhan’s attitude a failure: Marshall McLuhan’s reluctance to see the technologies and media as multiplications of the human senses ra ther than as extensions of them prevents him from reaching a satisfactory account of multiconscious ness. (211) Watson sought throughout the 1960s to integrate thinking about and beyond McLuhan’s theories with the writing of plays. He expressed this intention in “On Radical Absurdity,” where he explains the connection between multi-consciousness, which is caused by the multitude of media currently available, and his general attitude towards writing plays: Twentieth-century man has many modes of consciousness and with these goes a freedom not enjoyed by any The Ilork of Wilfred Watsoll Allegories of the Postmodern 146 previous civilization. It is this freedom, so ter rible a freedom that we don’t like looking at it, a freedom we’ve hardly recognized to date, a freedom radically unlike any that mankind has yet known, that I find myself wanting to celebrate in absurdist plays and in satirical verse. (36, my emphasis) This celebratory mood, in my view, can be seen as the essence of Watson’s allegories in that it informs his manner of approa ching his material: This new freedom I have been celebrating is really a very wonderful development--it dictates the very un realistic settings I find myself using, and these, involving the use of multi-environments, determine the kind of dramatic texture I have been able to achieve [in my plays]. (36-37) The multi-consciousness--on which the freedom he describes so eloquently is built--is itself contingent on the explosion of media and technologies in the twentieth century. He begins his scrutiny with an ontological question, namely, “where in the range of [our animal and our human] extensions do we locate our being?” (36) Watson answers indirectly by pointing to the issue of freedom. He argues that a direct answer to the ques tion can only result in a curtailment of freedom, for if we reduce our being to one mode of awareness, we may complain of limitation. Situating our being in a single medium (be it animal or human extension) would also mean positing a unified consciousness, which, in Watson’s view, the twentieth-century human no longer has at her or his disposal. However, as Watson points out in a later essay on “Mar shall McLuhan and Multi-Consciousness,” the Western intellec tual tradition has posited a homogeneous consciousness as an The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 147 absolute presupposition so that even a Marshall McLuhan could fall prey to it: Significantly enough, Marshall McLuhan referred to technologies and media as extensions of man or of the human senses, not as extensions of men or of people’s senses. I cannot recall a single critic who objected to this lumping together of awareness, as if Everyman were a single person of both sexes and all ages. (209) Watson then directs attention to the fact that with the in crease in media and technologies the possibilities of dif ferences in awareness between two men was on the rise too. The result is radical eccentricity: Twentieth-century man has become a radical eccentric, with his irrationalisms, angsts, hang-ups, generation and age-peer gaps, education gaps, protest meetings, guerilla activities, broken marriages, family schizophrenias. (210) At the same time, the decline of the book-cliché--a decline which “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 or any single ism,” could no longer convincingly explain these ruptures in contemporary life (199). Accordingly Watson says: All that could be clearly recognized was a multi plicity of movements and the word that best described this first post-modern decade was multi consciousness. (199) Watson’s new postmodern eccentricity forces upon us a new concept of absurdity, for “no two men are likely to have the same mix of the multi-consciousnesses available” (“On Radical Absurdity” 41). Because multi-consciousness comes about The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 148 through multi-awareness by means of multi—media, Watson can theatrically represent multi-consciousness by means of multiple environments or milieus. This treatment in turn facilitates a certain stance towards absurd theatre: The collaging together of two or more milieus makes possible a treatment of an absurdist theatre not altogether unlike but by no means identical with that modern theatre movement dominated by Camus’s senti ment of the absurd, where men and their questionings are answered by the blank meaningless[ness] of the world. (41) While to Camus the absurd implies “a total absence of hope,” “a continual rejection,” and “a conscious dissatisfaction” (qtd. in “On Radical Absurdity” 43), Watson contends that the new radical absurdity induces in us hope, acceptance and compla cency because of the impact of the new human senses and the freedom to which they lead: Consequently though the new absurdity ought to be enough to sober us, in fact eccentric man causes in us a sense of elation--we are for the moon, come what may. (44) Watson in this way opposes his radical absurdity to Camus’s philosophy of the absurd. In the course of his dramatic output of the 1960s, Watson tries to represent radical absurdity in a pronounced turn to farce.25 Although the theatre of the absurd has always had a strong link to farce, Watson makes that link 25 This turn is manifest from 1964 onward. Watson sub titles Another Bloody Page from Plutarch “A Tragic Farce.” 0 Holy Ghost DIP YOUR FINGER IN THE BLOOD OF CANADA And Write I Love You bears the generic desciption “Flower Power Farce in 4 Acts,” although the play consists only of two acts. Further more, there are many other unpublished plays bearing the gener ic description “farce” in their subtitle. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 149 even stronger by exaggerating the oppositional character of radical absurdity and the philosophy of the absurd. According to Leslie Smith, absurd and ridiculous situa tions define farce. Its starting point may be a certain normality, but routinely its authors push it further and fur ther towards absurdity, anarchy and even nightmare scenarios (11). Norman Shapiro also detects parallels between farce and the theatre of the absurd. He writes in his introduction to four farces by Georges Feydeau that both dramatists of farce and of the absurd describe “the aimlessness and unpredicta bility of man’s fate in a haphazard (or at least inexplicable) universe, in which things--mainly base--will happen to him for no obvious or compelling reason” (xi). Both Smith’s and Shapiro’s criteria for farce can be examined in the context of Watson’s plays. Furthermore, these criteria clarify Watson’s key terms--hope, acceptance, complacency. In Cockcrow, Watson pushes normality towards absurdity and anarchy until the characters reach a nightmarish condition in which they are sentenced to crucify God. For Watson, this state of anarchy also leads to hope in a redemption through the pearl. The last scene, however, makes this redemption ambiguous because Watson invites the spectators to participate in mocking redemption. Thus, there is no “absolute absence of hope,” as in Camus’s ab surdity, because the hope that the characters attain is not as unambiguous as Watson describes in his article. Critics have linked the anarchy in farce to its formal proximity to the festival (see Redmond). Plautus, the creator The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postnmdern iSO of the genre, took materials from Greek comedy and recomposed them to fit the special performance demands of his day in order to please his Roman audience (53). These special performance demands were intricately linked to the venue, which was not an enclosed theatre but the ludi or games where the spectators passed freely from one festival event to another. The spec tators of Plautus’s farces thus stroll in and out of acting and spectators’ spaces. Since classical times, farce can be seen to undermine the distinction between acting space and spec tators’ space, a distinction that theatre events usually respect and enforce. At the culmination of Watson’s plays, he often invites the spectators to break down that distinction by means of partici pation in the performance. In other words, Watson invites the spectators to accept moving into another space, similar to the spectators of a festival who have to accept moving from space to space, being mere spectators to the present performance and called upon to be active participants in the next one.26 In 0 Holy Ghost DIP YOUR FINGER IN THE BLOOD OF CANADA and Write, I Love You, Watson uses different spaces too, but without involving the audience. In this play, all actors portray multiple characters: 26 With respect to audience participation, Murray Schafer goes much further than Watson. Schafer, in fact, takes this trend to its ultimate conclusion: in the epilogue to Patria, he de facto excludes the public from the performance. There are no spectators but only participants who are carefully selected (see ch.s 5 and 7). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 11 M/l. & old Richard Sunflower & young Richard Sunflower, referred to as the Red- charred & RCMP officer & war-worker & army officer & hangman & priest at burial service & judge, etc. (253) From scene to scene, Watson has the actors slip into different fictive spaces defined by the characters they portray. In some instances these different fictive spaces coincide with dif ferent performing spaces: CHORUS/FF. She doesn’t know, she doesn’t know . KATERINA. projecting I don’t even know what a sunflower is [. . .1 rifle fire . . . Chorus/Ff including Katerina drop down on their faces (255) Here, F/3 steps forward from the chorus and settles into one of her roles, namely Katerina, and then returns to being a member of the chorus. This dramatic method makes it more difficult to concentrate on the whole because Watson subverts the usual orientation points and dramatic continuity that stable charac ters provide. As a result, the play induces the spectators to concentrate on the individual scenes regardless of their con nection to the whole. This dramatic method is reminiscent of Plautus’s farces where the festival setting also facilitated attending to the parts rather than the whole (Redmond 57). In Watson’s radical absurdity the motive of acceptance is related to complacency and the acceptance of different spaces invites complacency about farcical anarchy. Yet the compla cency Watson induces is ambiguous because at times he also en courages active participation, which is opposed to complacency. In this way, it seems that Watson’s radical absurdity, with its The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 152 many connections to the farce, merely intensifies the ties be tween the theatre of the absurd and the farce. Besides, Watson often prescribes a destruction of plot that has always been one of the tenets of farce.27 Let’s Murder Clytemnestra According to the Principles of Marshall McLuhan appears to be a theatrical response to Wat son’s preoccupation with the theories of McLuhan during the late l960s. Written in a tongue-in-cheek and highly satirical manner, it is a dramatic meditation on their collaboration as well as on some of their differences. As in the earlier plays, a trial takes a key position in the play. Moreover, this trial is reminiscent of the Last Judgement because it not only de cides the fate of the accused but it decides the fate of an entire age. The setting of the play is the School of Fine Arts in Banff. Yet Watson does not establish any easy orientation points. Peopled with mythical characters, medical doctors, witchdoctors, orderlies, nurses, and student protesters, this school of fine arts seems to be a medical or mental institution or even a prison. The characters and their multiple roles in troduce 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 of Greek comedy. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 153 In the “Prolog,” Electra repeats her confession “I have murdered Clytemnestra” twenty-six times as though probing it for its truth content (Plays 345-46). Like a pedal tone in a piece of music, Electra’s incantation provides rhythm, harmoni cal ground and mood for more elaborate thematic material, in this case Dr Psi’s extended self—introduction. The mood sug gested is one of self-blame and guilt. Electra only interrupts her incantation when Dr Psi provides his name. Before giving his name, he talks about himself in a self-deprecatory manner (“I am nobody, I am not even somebody. . . . I am not even in fluential” [345]). The unrelatedness of Electra’s repetitions and Psi’s discourse may be seen as indicative of the absurd world the setting and the characters represent. This absurd world has the potential to turn quickly into a nightmarish prison in which Doctors dissuade orderlies from torture and physical punishment not because it is inhuman, but because one can get results in another way. Thus, at the end of the “Prolog,” when Dr Psi insists on learning Electra’s last name and she cannot give it, he calls for an orderly to find out her name just to change his mind: DR PSI. Don’t bother with her. Don’t waste the back of your hand on her. Dr Kykoku will find out her name. --We can ask her brother what her name is. ORDERLY. to Electra Don’t bother screaming. We’ll find out from your brother what we want to know about you. (347) The Orderly repeats and extends Dr Psi’s words; he threatens Electra with a violation of her privacy. The ork of Wilfred Watsofi Allegories of the Postodern 154 At the beginning of the “Prolog,” Dr Psi says that “This is not a court of justice” and “I am not a judge” (345). Fur thermore, Dr Kykoku and Dr Psi state in scene one that “the law has been abolished” (350). Yet throughout the first three scenes Orderly Smythe keeps barking “Order, haw-der!” as though he were the usher of a court. Furthermore, the orderlies prepare for a trial by setting up a table (349), which becomes a metaphorical dividing line between plaintiff and defendant. Samuela, Dr Psi’s secretary, points out that “this table di vides the age of Marshall McLuhan from the age of the new charisma” and that “THIS side of the table . . . is trying the other side of the table” (352 & 350). She goes on to explain the two positions as follows: On our side of the table, the media, etc. are man’s new 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 on the positions taken by Watson and McLuhan during their col laboration. Doctors and orderlies repeatedly refer to the ancient Greeks as prisoners who are to be tried or patients who are to be dissected (there is some confusion as to whether a trial or an autopsy is about to begin [350]). Dr Psi further explains that if the prisoners are found guilty, the consequences for the age of the new charisma are far reaching: If . . . they are adjudged guilty, I shall have no recourse but to insist on a reformation of the whole new age of charisma at a point where it has only just begun. On this side of the table we can’t admit C ’ H . 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C CD C ) C’ D) H ’ CD C C H ’ 5 ) C ) C . ) Cl) H ’ Cl) CD C CD CD 5 H ’ ) c- i- H ’ c i- CD (JO . H ’ H - CD H ’ H ’ C H - Cl) C/) H ’ CD )i) H ’ H . H ’ C’ H ’ C Cl) )> CD H ’ CD CD CD CD ‘ C C C’ CD ) CD CD 5 H ’ H ’ CD X = C’ Cl) Cl) C H ’ C H ’ C H ’ C Cl) CD CD H ’ H ’ ) Cl) CD C’ CD ) 1 H ’ Cl) CD Cl) C C’ H ’ Cl) C CD CD Cl) c i’ C H ’ H ’ ) C’ C H ’ - 5 CD 3 CD I C’ C’ H ’ I C H ’ C C. . C. . C C. . CD CD C. . Cl) H ’ ) I CD C. . - s CD Cl) c )1 c J1 The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 156 McLuhan’s principles to do that. The title thus emerges as an invitation to use McLuhan’s theory to think beyond McLuhan.28 By employing characters from Greek mythology, Watson seems to suggest an analogy between that mythology and the post- modern. Greek mythology embodies an unacknowledged Other of Greek rationality, the foundation of Western rationality.29 The analogy suggests that the postmodern is an unacknowledged Other of the modern. The positional infighting among the Greek characters (Clytemnestra vs. Orestes) parallels and represents positional infighting within the postmodern (McLuhan vs. Wat son) From the beginning of the play, Electra feels responsible for moral impasses brought about by her environment. Dr Psi and Dr Kykoku reenforce these feelings of guilt before al leviating them in rituals of aging and rebirthing. Electra could be seen in this way as the universal (and stereotypical) female, taking moral responsibility for her environment and seeking relief from male characters. Watson, it seems, reen forces this chauvinist attitude of the male characters towards 28 The variation on the first running header, “Less molder Klukluxklanestra” (346), signals primarily an association of Clytemnestra with the Klu Klux Klan. In this way, Watson fur ther discredits the position of Clytemnestra/McLuhan. 29 Horkheimer and Adorno wrote, for instance, that in Greek mythology we encounter the dark side of enlightened thought which they defined not as limited to a historical peri od commonly called “enlightenment” but as a certain rigour of thought that the human mind applies to its methods of inquiry (see 12-16). The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postifiodern 1S7 Electra by accepting the dichotomy of power and moral responsi bility and aligning it with the male and female characters in his play. This alignment implicates Watson in the issues of power and gender. To Watson, it seems, Electra, or the female he construes, is portrayed as an anachronism that does not fit into the postmodern multi-conscious world. As a result, the advocates of the new age try to alter her in medical experi ments. Dr Psi seems to take the role of the judge since he chairs the trial, explains initial procedures, and rules who is to speak. The accused are Orestes and Electra, while Psamathe and Orestes’ nurse are witnesses for the defense. The counsel for the defense has to be determined first. Electra suggests Orestes as counsel but Dr Psi tells her that a prisoner cannot represent another prisoner. Psamathe suggests that they ask “the Company of young Psychocanadians [. . .1 to send us a bunch of student actors . . . to sort of represent us” (378). Psi, however, blocks this suggestion by explaining that “every one in the age of the new charisma is a student. If you are a student, you can’t represent a student” (379). This paradox leads to an impasse in which no one can represent the accused. Psi uses this impasse for his attempt to dismiss the case, but Kykoku volunteers to represent the prisoners. Psi explains to Kykoku the consequences of not dismissing this case: KYKOKU. If Orestes is found guilty of murder PSI. we shall have to re-educate--re-program him KYKOKU. and in order to re-educate him PSI, we shall have to re-educate the entire global The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postodern 158 community KYKOKU. and that will mean the end of the age of the new charisma PSI. before it has barely got under way KYKOKU. and almost before the age of McLuhan is over PSI. and at a time when we haven’t had time--to think of what comes after the age of the new charisma! (379) Because of the stychomythia, it seems that both speakers are fully aware of the consequences of Kykoku’s actions, namely a return to temporality. The age of the new charisma, however, is atemporal: characters from Greek mythology participate in l96Oish peace dances in the spirit of a true McLuhanesque global village. Dr Psi’s reason for wanting to disallow Kykoku the defense of the prisoners is his intention to dismiss the charges in or der to save the “age of the new charisma.” In this way, it seems that more than the individual crimes of the prisoners are on trial, but an entire age is on trial. These circumstances turn the trial into another version of the Last Judgement. In the Last Judgement, the judge is God; in the play, Watson ex ploits the medical cliché of the “Gods in white” to have a god like judge, namely Dr Psi. In light of these parallels of this trial with the Last Judgement, the outcome of the trial prom ises to be final, whichever way the verdict goes. However, this trial does not produce a verdict; instead, Dr Psi dismiss es the charges. Yet the outcome of the trial still resembles a verdict: Dr Psi also orders Kykoku to perform an aging ritual on the prisoners. In other words, they remain in the power of the age of the new charisma. The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 159 According to Watson, media and technologies constitute new senses and not merely extensions of senses so that he can represent these new senses in peculiar pullulations of heads (Dr Psi, Electra), backbones (Dr Kykoku), legs (Samuela), tongues (Psamathe), and vaginas (Electra). On several occa sions, repetitions of language accompany these pullulations. In scene one, the revelation that Dr Psi has two heads is ac companied 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 Samuela quadruples 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 representation of a pullulation of extremeties. It is once more Electra who discovers this pullulation saying that “Dr Psi has two heads, Dr Kykoku has two backbones, and Dr Psi’s secretary who I think is called Samuela has FOUR legs” (357). C l) > II CD • C D C D C D CD C l) > CD • C D C D C D C D C D C l) CD Cl ) CD C Cl) CD CD C) C C CD rf r r1 ) • Cl) CD Cl) ) Cl) C Z CD CD r1 CD 1 F- • Cl) C Z ) C . r t r CD C C) C Cl) CD r+ r+ Cl) r1 H • CD r t C C . T j Cl) CD r1 C) CD ) r i Cl) CD CD H • — C) r i CD Cl) : : > C) I r Cl) CD Cl) 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) C l) CD CD Cl) C C D C) CD )C D C D C C D tl j CD C) CC C C C) CD Cl) Cl) CD CD CD CD CD Cl) CD C) C CD Cl) C) CD Cl) C) CD C) CD Cl) C C r+ C ) 1 . C) :Cl ) F- : CD S C l) > Cl) rC D C Cl) C D < C l) SC D C) C D Cl) CD 1 ) CD Cl ) . H S Cl) C Y qC D C D S Cl )C D CD CD S S CD Cl) r C < C r • r h ) ) C C C) C r C) r1 ) CD Cl) r ) r Cl) Cl) ) r CD CD r t CD Cl) C CD Cl) CD S CD . P) ) C C) CD Cl) Cl) fr e ri- Z CD r+ ) Cl) S CD ) r+ CD r- t- c- + F- . h F— Q C CD C C + ) C F-a . . r 1 Q . > F- • CD F- r+ : 1 Cl) - . S D CD CD ) Cl) C D r+ CD e< > S C ) Cl) I! ) Cl) C ) r Cl) CD C C 1’ C D )) = Cl) r1 r t C CD CD Cl) C l) C C . C Cl) CD CD tl j . r r r h C 5 ) r t - - ) CD CD r+ C D C D CD C) + • i CD C) > ) Cl) H r+ r1 . C CD rt C )C l C) Cl) r I Cl) 1 rC D C l) C r CD CD i) C C) C . r 1 CD Cl) C C) C r r t “ CD - S )C D • Cl) ç)) 1 C) r t © CD . C) Z Cl) C H C S CD C CD - - F— H Cl) C CD CD )C D r+ Cl) Cl) CD e C .r -f - C CD CD ) > r+ Cl) 5 CD CD CD ) CD CD CD ) Cl) CD C rf CD CD r+ C r+ CD Cl ) CD CD i S r ) 5 C) C < C C ) C- a. CD C) Cl) ) r - c t ) CD C) CD CD ) - • C) ‘ C CD CD - 5 c- i- r+ )) C) C l) CD Cl) Cl) ) Cl) CD r - C Cl) C C r1 C C l) r+ )) • • - • C D • Cl) CD D C) ) C C -C r t r ) CD C D C D CD C CD C . Cl) CD ) < C ) CD C r1 CD r Cl) C CD <1 Cl) H H . C) CD CD H . CD CD Cl) CD CD H H r O , c- f r ) C > C CD ) CD ) rt H C D rt >< )) C H • CD - H ) Cl) Cl) CD C CD LT i C r C l) CD C . Cl) CD )r + ) r+ CD CD C) Cl) . — C C ‘ - c- i- C) ) H • C r- 1 C - C H • Cl) I Z — 1 CD Cl) Cl) H • H C)1 C) CD — CD The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postinodern 161 her nineteen heads complicate the process further as Dr Kykoku explains after the results of PIAT become evident: I was going to age eleven of her heads and leave eight as young as they were. [. . •1 But oh the laughter in the tears of things--each of her PIAT’s turned out differently. Every one of her nineteen heads has a different age. [. . .1 But she has the entire gamut of female intelligence to draw on--from the moist thinking of nubile girl mind to the gravelly platitudes of an aged sybil hung up in a cage to die! (394) In this way, PIAI results in a reduction of Electra into a num ber of clichés stereotyping women at different stages in their lives and in different roles. Kykoku emphasizes this reduction and hints at its sexist nature when he says, “Every shade of female cogitation [. . .1 from flirt to ancient bitch!” (394). Watson considers the outcome of the trial as flawed be cause of its injustice to Electra: PIAI prevents her from living her life. As a result and as in the plays from the ear ly l960s, Watson overturns this damnation--not in a deus ex machina redemption but in a ritual of rebirth that allows Elec tra to start her life over again. This ritual is reminiscent of PIAI: Kykoku places Electra in a circle and he, the sisters, orderlies and prisoners dance around her chanting incantations to the sole accompaniment of drums. Eighteen of Electra’s heads will be turned into vaginas which the chorus’ repetitive incantations foreshadow: “Plant her eyes in a lion’s pole / for it to plant in a lioness’s hole” (409). This first chant and its sexual explicitness and the implicit act of copulation set the tone for the remaining chants, which are not as explicit The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 162 but still build on the male-female opposition and an act of copulation. For instance, the “Brahma bull’s pizzle” and the “brood-cow’s twizzle” can be seen as comic neologisms for male and female genitalia. Kykoku and the others repeat this pat terned chant nine times, perhaps because an eighteen-fold repetition would be too long drawn out. The result of this ritual is “the new young Electra” (415). The reencoding ritual also attests to Watson’s male chauvinism because of an implicit equation of woman with sexual organ. In Western cultures, this equation is often a way of denigrating women. Watson uses this denigration in a particu larly flagrant form because Dr Kykoku transforms Electra’s mul tiple heads into multiple vaginas in a ritual reminiscent of a rebirth. This rebirth suggests that Electra’s head should be transformed into a vagina so that she would be coded ‘properly’ and perhaps not blame herself compulsively for a murder she has not committed. The singing and dancing at the end of the play seem to celebrate 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 he asks Moses, King David, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jesus what he should do for peace. All of them, except Ezekiel, who says there is nothing he can do for peace, advise him to take off The Work of Wilfred Watson Al]egories of the Postmodern 163 all his clothes for peace. Orestes then addresses the audience with 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 im plicit appeal to the audience to do something for peace seem like an interruption of the play’s plot. However, the late 1960s provide a context for the play that explains the inter ruption. The late 1960s saw a rapidly escalating Vietnam war and a popular people’s movement against it as well as an es calating 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 near Woodstock, N.Y. and better known as the Woodstock Festival, as an expression of that era: OO,OOO, mostly young, people listened to their favorite music, which expressed directly and indirectly their opposition to the Vietnam war and the cold war. The “peace”-interruptions, then, emerge as something akin to a more or less spontaneous “happening.” One could imagine the audience joining in the chanting, dancing, perhaps even taking off their clothes “for peace.” Any of these actions would collapse the defining element of the Western proscenium stage, namely the strict separation of performing space and spectator space. However, as Yi-Fu Tuan has pointed out in his article on “Space and Context,” this separation is in some theatrical genres not as strict as in others. Popular theatre The Work of Wi]fred Watson Allegories of the Postaiodern 164 at times approaches the space of a village festival where per formers and spectators share a space where everyone joins in the performance. In comedies, too, the laughter of the audience shows their active participation and breaches the strict separation of performing space and spectator space, while in tragedies we tend to retain our distance by assuming the role of observer because the situations represented are too extreme and painful for us to want to become “involved” (Tuan 242) This “happening”--if it occurs with audience participation in varying degrees--can be seen as the culmination of the far cical elements in Let’s Murder. The audience’s acceptance of moving into different spaces and their complacency towards the destruction of plot, which is already partially manifest in the drawn-out PIAI and reencoding rituals, are the key elements in Watson’s “radical” absurdity because they expand the theatre of the 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 that represent multiple levels of awareness or consciousness. In other words, Watson’s radical absurdity tries to decentre the homogeneous experience of going to see a play by turning that experience into a heterogeneous one consisting of observation of and participation in multiple worlds or milieus. Ike Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postniodern 165 Yet the happening can also be seen in analogy to the plays from the early 1960s as an invitation to the audience to parti cipate in the continuing struggle, since neither the trial nor the rebirth solved any of Electra’s problems. The happening serves in this way as a preparation of the audience to accept the everyday reality of life in a world determined by multi- consciousness. As in Shakespearian comedy, the marker for the return to a “normal” life uninterrupted by the comic confusions just witnessed on stage is the marriage that Dr Kykoku an— nounces at the end of the play. Electra decides to marry Dr Psi, who thinks marriage is the only alternative to PIAI and the only “compensation” for having suffered the reencoding ritual (419). If we take this marriage as a positive event, then Watson’s allegorical message to the audience appears to be: sing, dance, take off your clothes for peace, or get married, but the struggle of life will go on infinitely, no matter what you do . . . However, especially with regard to Watson’s construction of gender as well as his male chauvinism, we should not be deceived by a traditional happy ending and a 1960s Make-Love-Not--War atmosphere. Below the surface, Wat son’s message is conservative, if not reactionary. When con sidering the happy ending, one should immediately ask, happy for whom? Here, then, we can come back to Watson’s belief in original sin over last judgements and final redemption. In the context of this belief, his male chauvinism can be seen as an affirmation of the Catholic belief in Eve’s (or woman’s) guilt The 1ork of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 166 in the fall of “man.” Time and again, Watson employs methods of characterization that transform female characters into stereotypes of “female” behavior, whether we look at the “docile” acceptance of moral responsibility in Electra or at the characters participating in the women’s solidarity in Gramsci x 3 and The Woman Taken in Adultery. On closer ex amination, these stereotypes are vehicles for inscribing an al legorical message because they broaden the characters’ sig nificance beyond what they present on stage. Against this backdrop, Watson’s allegorical message is that, ultimately, woman is to blame for the condition of the continuous struggle of life. Thus far, I have shown how Watson’s plays from the 1960s integrate trial scenes with the theme of the Last Judgement and how this integration serves to communicate to the audience and educate it that there is no end in sight to the struggle. Now I want to take these insights into Watson’s plays and relate them to the process of allegorical encoding as it is triggered by the melancholy of the author. As I argued in chapter three, a deeply felt loss is the root cause of melancholy. For Watson, the redemption of the original sin is lost. Last judgements and final redemptions are supposed to put an end to the suffering caused by an original sin, but they fail to do so. Watson experiences this failure as catastrophic. And here is the unspeakable for Wat The Work of Wilfred Watson Allegories of the Postmodern 167 son: the collective guilt that follows the original sin is ir redeemable. The knowledge of this irredeemability is anOther of Watson’s allegories. To quote Wittgenstein’s truism here, “Of that which you cannot speak, you must remain silent,” is to describe Watson’s dilemma as it represents itself to me: for him, not being able to communicate anOther or to remain silent equals death. Death, however, is profoundly unacceptable and he expresses as much in his description of the “atypical absur dist impasse” (“On Radical Absurdity” 37). This impasse, name ly “the fact that when you are dead you cannot die,” only poses itself to someone who does not accept death as an end of life. Indeed Watson’s characters go on living in atemporal rituals after they are fatally shot, summoned to stand trial in heaven, or have reportedly died shortly after being released from prison. Because his recognition is unspeakable, however, it is bracketed and the allegorist in his melancholic brooding focuses on that which provides continuity. For Watson, this continuity evolves from the never-ending struggle. This strug gle is ahistorical because it manifests itself in timeless rituals. 168 Chapter 5 The Work of R. Murray Schafer Postmodern McLuhanesque Utopianism After looking at Watson’s relationship to McLuhan, it is interesting to consider Murray Schafer’s stance towards McLuhan’s theories, which influenced him very much. He wrote an article on McLuhan full of praise for the man and his achievements. Primarily, he uses McLuhan’s concept of “acoustic space” to introduce a new notion of genre into the history of music.’ Schafer states that music-historical periods thus far have been described according to minute stylistic criteria. How ever, moving from one acoustic space into another one is far more momentous and significant a development so that he arrives at different generic, music-historical periods and the move, for instance, from the church into the concert hail has a more profound effect on composers and their music than a period change from, say, classical to romantic music with its stylistic changes. ‘ Although I am not particularly concerned with influences on Watson and Schafer, I acknowledge that McLuhan’s treatment especially of the visual/aural orientation of cultures exerted a massive influence on both Watson and Schafer. I assume this influence throughout. The tiork of R. turray Schafer Allegories of the Postajodern 169 Even from this terse account of Schafer’s McLuhanesque reconceptualization of music history we can see that Schafer’s position is closer to McLuhan than it is to Watson because of its concern with history and temporality. Watson rejects such notions in favor of an atemporal global village. But Schafer’s proximity to McLuhan becomes even clearer once we look at his notion of ritual in the context of synaesthesia and its impact on sensorial experience. Schafer states repeatedly that in Patria he strives to elicit synaesthetic experiences from his audiences. In his monograph on Patria, he points to the Catholic liturgy as a model of the type of synaesthesia he tries to achieve in Patria: Life itself is the original multi-media experience. Single art forms amputate all of the senses except one. If we look for examples of ritualized multi- channel experiences we will find them in unusual places. 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 of the vitraux; hearing--the music of the choir and in struments, the ringing of bells; taste--the transub stantiation of the bread and wine; smell--the in cense; touch--devotion on the knee (which at times even took the form of elaborate peregrinations about the church), prayer beads in the hand, etc. What strikes us here is that at no time are the senses bombarded aimlessly; everything is neatly integrated. In the Catholic mass there is no sensory overload. It could serve as a model for study. (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 32). Schafer’s description posits a similar, utopian notion of per ception as the one Watson criticized in McLuhan. Schafer’s utopianism is even more pronounced than McLuhan’s because he maintains that we can achieve again that state of unified expe rience in a carefully orchestrated, synaesthetic ritual. As The Work of R. Iurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 170 well, the teleological nature of his Patria cycle (manifest in the underlying quest-theme and in the ultimately successful quest) introduces forcefully a sense of temporality into Patria’s atemporal ritualistic sub-sections. • r+ r+ tj CD — 10 CD r1 C l) ,. C ) Cl) i) (ID C) C D C ) O )H •C C ) - ‘ )C l) ) C D - ‘ CD - O ) C )t Cl) Z CD ) ) C l) - s C D H . O ) r • • O 0. r • + ‘ H C D 0 .• ) 0 F — 5 1) - C D . - s C ri 5 - s ) r CD ) — CD ) - — O Cl) CD — < r < < Cl) C ) CD C l) ) 0 Cl) C D CD H CD CD 0 . - Z o C) . c ÷ - s CD (C Cl) CD 0 .: C ). CD 0 CD Cl) H . • t lC D - s C) CD 0 - 5 C 0 0. 0. CD - s - s CD C) C CD F- • ) C r* Cl) — - . Cl) (ID CD C) ) Z 0. < H . l) CD CD Cl) - Cl) CD C) 0 CD - - s CD 0. • F- • CD Cl) C C) - _ 5 - 5 0 ) rt CD - Cl) ) Cl) CD . H . - — CD CD H ’ Z 0- 0. CD H • ) CD C CD CD 0. - s >< 0 -s O CD 0. H ’ H ’ CD Cl) H ’ N CD 0 C) CD 0 CD CD ) H ) 5 . C) 0. ‘I 5’ -t 5 . CD H . 0. 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C. ) CD Cl) CD CD V CD CD 0. - s - )c) H - C H - CD 0. H - C . H - Cl) C - s CD 0 Cl) H ’ O CD ) H C . CD Cl) 0 C) CD 0. • c) ) C) H - H ’ - s 0. CD CD H - Cl) CD C H ’ V Cl) H- X H ’ CD ) CD H - CD C” ) V C V C Pc) H - - s C ij C. H - H - CD CD H -C l) 5 . CD 0. I Pci CD V 0. I 0. H C H C . CD Cl) H CD HI C IH ’ H 0 H’ H. (C C) C. CD C. CD Cl) CD -s H. CD Cl) C H- The Work of R, 1Iurray Sch3fer Allegories of the Postinodern 172 career, namely his many different talents and how they benefit the Patria cycle:3 His experience as educator comes from having taught not only at the university and college level but also in high schools and elementary schools.4 As scholar, Schafer has pub lished several monographs in different fields as well as edit ing several authors’ writings on music. Furthermore, he has written numerous articles on diverse subjects. He was co-foun der of the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby for which he was also the director from 1965-75. At times, Schafer contributes to the public discussion of subjects with articles published in magazines and newspapers. Many of his articles on Canadian nationalism and on opera in Canada (not Canadian opera) throughout the l960s bear the mark of the political commentator and the satirist.5 As journalist, he has written in lucid and non-polemical prose on subjects of general musical and ecological interest.6 He expresses his ecological commitment as naturalist in a scholarly manner. As lecturer, he makes his research and commitment known to others. Yet the See Ulla Coigrass’s “Artistic Farming: The Many Talents of Murray Schafer.” ‘ Watch the documentary film “Bing, Bang, Boom” in which Schafer explores new ways of teaching music to seventh graders. To wit, see “The Limits of Nationalism in Canadian Music,” “Opera and Reform,” “What is this Article About?” and “The Future for Music in Canada.” 6 Read “The Glazed Soundscape” and “Music And the Iron Curtain.” The h’ork of II. iforray Schafer Allegories of the Postaioo’ern 173 most important of the various roles of Murray Schafer is that of the artist, a complex role that can be further divided into composer, writer, playwright, graphic artist, theatre producer and director. Patria draws on every single one of Schafer’s multiple talents. Most obviously, Patria poses a direct challenge to Murray Schafer, the artist. Because of the generic multi disciplinarity of opera in general and of Patria in particular, Schafer’s work requires the artist in all his specific mani festations: composer, writer, playwright, graphic artist, theatre producer and director. The educator, scholar and lec turer are necessary because the cycle instructs everyone in volved in an ecological commitment that calls for research and integration into his artistic vision. Finally, the political commentator, satirist, journalist and naturalist aid in the defense, promotion and dissemination of ideas related to the cycle.7 The multidisciplinarity of Patria and Schafer’s multiple talents seem to complement each other in a near perfect way. In my view, Schafer has tailored this mega—project to fit his talents in order to keep control of as many aspects of the cycle as possible. In other words, multiple talents and multi See the controversial handling of the theme of immigra tion in The Characteristics Man and his acerbic essay on the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) production of The Character istics Man. In the latter, Schafer not only attacks the COC but also sketches a viable alternative method of production, see below. U) H • C CD r U) ) H • r (J r 4 H • CD CD CD . 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(urray Schafer AJiegories of the Postmodern 175 siderable revaluation and recontextualization of Patria 1: The Characteristics Man. Although these two works are only seven years apart, what separates them is an “evolution of thinking” in Schafer’s atti tudes towards art, theatre and ecology (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 11). In an essay entitled “The Theatre of Con fluence,” Schafer describes his changed attitudes by introduc ing the outlandish theatrical paradigm of The Princess. He queries Western cultural history and the values he sees emerg ing from it. He points out that “the rampant destruction of nature did not get underway until the establishment of hu manistic philosophies, of which in the West, Christianity has been the most influential” (Patria and the Theatre of Con fluence 91). Hence it comes as no surprise when he states: “I am concerned with environmental topics about which Christianity and humanism can teach me nothing” (91). He discerns a more fertile ground in pantheistic and totemic philosophies, such as those practiced by the North American Indians because they pro mote a notion of the sacred which aids in conserving nature: It is in [ancient and strange] sources that we will find this ability to sense the divine in all things, this reverence for life and death, this acceptance of everything in the ordering and disordering of the cosmos, this ability to go with nature rather than against her. We do not know exactly how the ancient peoples or those living far from contemporary urban centers accomplished this. We have the anthropolo gists’ records and we have certain artifacts and ceremonies used in their attempts to achieve these vital ontological insights. There are some hints then, and if the artist can understand them they can be put to good use again. (92) The Work of R. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 176 In this way, Schafer intends to be an “engaged” artist. Yet not in the traditional sense of restoring certain social im balances, but in the sense of restoring certain ecological im balances. In The Princess, Schafer tries to restore these imbalances by means of a hierophany, a sacred ritual demanding certain at titudes from performers and spectators. These attitudes are to a large extent responsible for fostering the ontological in sights Schafer seeks to bring about. Although it is not per se a sacred ritual that determines the performers’ and spectators’ attitudes in The Characteristics Man, I maintain that the con ventions both of producing and visiting an opera constitute a secular ritual that is just as influential on our attitudes as a sacred one. To do justice to Schafer’s work, we should dispense with the habitual assumption that the term “ritual” is only applica ble to non-Western cultures. This habit of thought arose owing to those anthropologists whose work dealt primarily with tradi tional societies in non-Western cultures and who coined the phrase “ritual theatre” or “ritual drama” as a convenient label for distinguishing the “otherness” of the investigated perform ance traditions. As Ndukaku Amankulor points out in “The Con dition of the Ritual in Theatre,” the term ritual serves to erect a dichotomy that implicitly hierarchizes non-Western and Western artifacts: The idea is to isolate those performance zones where theatre occurs as ritual as opposed to Western societies where it is practiced as art. (229) The h’ork of li, Jfurray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 177 According to Amankulor, some theatre critics reprimand their colleagues for an alleged misuse of a broadened concept of ritual that does not give in to that dichotomy: Though experimental and avant-garde theatre groups may pretend to practice theatre as ritual, critics must be reminded of the dangers of taking such pretensions seriously. (229) A prominent advocate of a broader concept of the ritual is Richard Schechner. His theatre practice as well as his theoretical writings unveil the widely accepted anthropological definition of the ritual as too narrow. As a result, he defines ritual as a broader concept that circumscribes the es sence of theatre itself as an artistic process. This inclusive concept of the ritual consists of both the neglected Western aspects of ritual and the narrow anthropological definition. As a result, the latter can no longer govern the concept’s field and we can rethink the ritual context of western theatre. The Princess of the Stars leaves the conventional stage and ventures outdoors, namely onto a wilderness lake. Further more, the work is to be performed at dawn on an autumn morning. Both spatial and temporal setting thus go against deeply en trenched habits of the audience. Schafer comments tongue in cheek: It will be an effort to get up in the dark, drive thirty miles or more to arrive on a damp and chilly embankment, 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 per formance on the lake, namely the pilgrimage to the site of the The Work of R, i1furray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodere 178 ceremony. This experience, he reminds us, forms an integral part of his work: Like all true ceremonies . . . you must feel it. . . . You must go there, go to the site, for it will not come to you. You must go there like a pil grim on a deliberate journey in search of a unique experience which cannot be obtained by money or all the conveniences of modern civilization. (119) In pilgrimage and performance, thus, nothing transpires without semiotic import. Getting up in the middle of the night, driv ing to the lake, walking from the road to the lake--all these actions take on a mystic if not sacred significance. Schafer decidedly strives for such reverberations as the following remark shows: All rituals are rooted in antiquity or must appear to be. If they have not been repeated uninterruptedly throughout the ages, archaic dress, conduct and speech can assist in creating this impression. When we performed The Princess of the Stars on Two-Jack Lake [near Banff in 1985], gaunt black-robed ushers conducted the audience from the road to their places at the edge of the lake. In a more complex handling of ritual, more elaborate preparation ceremonies, in cluding the consecration of the site may be desir able, but here ‘holy nature’ and the strange timing of the event seemed sufficient.8 As the expression “holy nature” emphasizes, the outdoor setting of The Princess is more than merely an outlandish backdrop to a performance that could be experienced in spite of or even with- 8 Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 115. Schafer in deed pursued such a “complex handling” of ritual in Patria 6: Ra, where he limits the audience to 75 and treats them as a group of initiates to the cult of the Egyptian sun god. Ra has an elaborate olfactory dimension and in one of the numerous preparation exercises, the Hierophant’s helpers (whom Schafer calls Hierodules) teach the initiates to distinguish the per fumes of the various gods (see editing unit 10). The Work of B. Yorray Schafer Allegories of the Postodern 179 out the outdoors. Outdoors and timing are important aspects of this ritual. For instance, the climax of the work, which is the entrance of the canoe carrying the sundisk, must coincide precisely with the rising of the sun. Yet what happens if the sun does not rise and remains hid den behind clouds? Here we have touched on another dimension of the environment’s role. As Schafer explains, it goes so far as to overshadow the human involvement in this work: The living environment enters and shapes the success or failure of The Princess of the Stars as much as or more than any human effort; and knowledge of this must touch the performers, filling them with a kind of humility before the grander forces they encounter in the work’s setting. (110) Schafer does not ask the spectators to participate direct ly in the performance, yet within the fiction of the work, they become more than mere spectators. Once the presenter has rowed his canoe across the lake, he greets the spectators and pro vides them with background to the ritual they are about to wit ness. Then with a few magic words, he turns the spectators in to 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 witness Without disturbing these actions, I shall turn you into trees. The presenter accomplishes this action through incantation of a few magical words and carries on: Watch now and listen carefully Faithful trees, But of the things you witness here The liork of B. Xurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 180 Remain silent, For they are ancient And sacred. (The Princess of the Stars 21-2) The presenter’s claim to turn the audience into trees can be seen to cause that state of perplexity in the audience that Craig Owens identifies as initiating many allegories. Owens’s example 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 hu mans witness the ritual of The Princess. Keeping the crucial role of the environment in mind, one can say that the partici pation of the audience in the spectacle is dependent more on their attitude towards the ritual than on participatory action: if they believe they are trees and as such blend in with the environment, then they are participating; if they do not be lieve, they remain detached human observers. The “suspension of disbelief” (Wordsworth) or the leap of faith, however, should not be construed as giving rise to a clear-cut dicho tomy. In theatre and ritual, the suspension of disbelief is a complex process and we may approach it as a continuum without fixed boundaries. Perhaps we can draw a meaningful analogy with the mental state of a Yaqui-deer dancer. Schechner points out that a com plete transformation of the dancer into a deer is impossible. Still, during the dance, the dancer is neither a man nor a deer but “somewhere in between” (Schechner, Between Theatre and Anthropology 4). Schechner describes this state as one of liminality: The Work of R, Yurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 181 At the moments when the dancer is “not himself” and “not not himself,” his own identity, and that of the deer, 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 trans porting the audience to a state of liminality. The presenter’s magic incantation changes the audience into being “not them selves” (through a willingness to undertake a leap of faith) and “not not themselves” (through the impossibility of a trans formation into trees) One could also say that the presenter’s magical words enable the individual spectators to constitute a group or con gregation. According to Richard Schechner, theatre and ritual are poles of a continuum of performance. Hand in hand with the movement from theatre to ritual goes an inverse movement from a number of individuals to a community: The move from theatre to ritual happens when the audience is transformed from a collection of separate individuals into a group or congregation of participants .9 For these reasons, turning individual spectators into a group of trees underscores the move from theatre to ritual. Although Schafer frequently evokes Wagner’s Ring in com parison to both structure and synaesthetic potential of his 9 Performance Theory 142. Schechner, however, uses his terms inconsistently. Clearly, what he calls here a trans formation into a group is not a permanent change and should be considered according to his own usage in Between Theatre and Anthropology a (temporary) transportation, for once a ritual is complete the group will disperse into separate individuals. The Work of B. Yorray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 182 Patria cycle, he is quite aware that a Schaferian “Bayreuth” is almost impossible to achieve because of the changing require ments in setting of his work. He points out that the individu al installments are self-sufficient, but, at the same time, he says that individual parts “[gain] in richness by the over- layering of themes from the other [parts]” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 209). In order to make the best use of this “overlayering of themes,” Schafer makes sure that one can access parts of Patria without actually seeing them performed. He writes: I have always believed that [the Patria pieces] can be digested in formats other than physical perform ance, which is why the scores contain so many dia grams, drawings and footnotes in addition to the mu sic. The cross-references and relationships between individual pieces exist at many levels and one can proceed to whatever depth desired to find them. (11) On the one hand, Schafer seems to suggest that the individual installments of Patria contribute by means of their interrela tions to their status as “closed” texts in Umberto Eco’s termi nology. Eco describes texts that aim at generating a precise response from a group of empirical readers as “closed” and texts that provide few specific response indications as “open” (The Role of the Reader 7-8). On the other hand, Schafer im plicitly directs attention to what the audience brings to a performance in the way of expectations and assumptions that they acquired from various sources, such as program notes, reviews, critical writings such as Schafer’s monograph on Patria, and the scores themselves. Theatre semiotics is just The Work of R. ‘lorray Schafer A]]egories of the Fostniodern 183 beginning to explore the issue of the “advance” knowledge of the audience. Marvin Carison’s essay “Theatre Audiences and the Reading of Performance” suggests how research into that area might be pursued. In his conclusion, he states: The comparatively small amount of reception research carried out in the theatre to date has been developed almost entirely through interviews and questionnaires seeking to establish what an audience thought or felt about a performance after its completion. Almost no organized work has been done on the other end of this process: what an audience brings to the theatre in the way of expectations, assumptions, and strategies which will creatively interact with the stimuli of the theatre event to produce whatever effect the per formance has on this audience and what effect they have upon it. (24) In light of the absence of theoretical and empirical research in that field, I can only speculate as to the particular “ad vance” knowledge an audience might bring to a performance of The Characteristics Man. Keeping in mind, however, that this work is performed in a conventional operahouse, we can assume that the various paraphernalia accompanying an opera production would also be present here. Among these paraphernalia are the now customary pre-performance talks as well as detailed program notes that almost always put the work in question into a broader context. With respect to The Characteristics Man, this broader context would surely include some descriptive reference to the cycle’s prologue and its peculiar setting. Thus even if the spectator has not actually seen The Princess, s/he would gather enough information from the various sources available to set into motion a process of recontextualization. The i’ork of I?. urray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 184 To begin with, The Characteristics Man is renamed Wolfman. As Schafer explains, “Wolf is the original form of the protagonist of the Patria cycle and the form to which he ultimately returns” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 47). Yet the recontextualizations go beyond thematic aspects. They also have the purpose of changing the attitudes of spectators toward the rituals they inevitably undergo with each perform ance. Whether it is triggered by an actual witnessing of a per formance or by other means of accessing The Princess, a con templation of the outdoor setting and the pilgrimage makes the spectators of Wolfman more aware of the surroundings of this performance as well. The spectator, then, would become aware of his or her preparations for the performance and how the day of the performance changes because of it. The spectator would heed the cultural conventions that regulate a visit to the opera. Schafer acerbically juxtaposes the audience rituals of the modern opera to those of The Princess: Instead of a somnolent evening in uphostery, digest ing dinner or contemplating the one to follow, this work takes place before breakfast. No intermission to crash out to the bar and guzzle or slump back after a smoke. No pearls or slit skirts. (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 119) All of these conventions make up the neglected Western aspects of ritual. By designating The Princess as the prologue to Patria, Schafer turns Wolfman into an exploration of those conventions that constitute the Western secular ritual of paying a visit to The liork of B. Jlurray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 185 the opera. Furthermore, the setting of Wolfman takes on ironic overtones because now it appears to be a “return” to the (con ventional) theatre. The Princess thus also functions as a “tuning into nature” for the entire cycle. We already know that in the epilogue, tentatively entitled “And Wolf Shall In herit the Moon,” the cycle will return to a (or perhaps even “the”) wilderness lake. Therefore, the pieces in between prologue and epilogue are explorations into bizarre territory. They are the stations in a metaphorical calvary Wolf has to un dergo 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 not brought about through Wolf’s efforts, but through the efforts of the animals of the forest who take pity on Wolf. As we shall see further below, Wilfred Watson reverses the calvary in Gramsci x 3 so that the end emerges as another beginning, cut ting off all hope for a final redemption. Yet in Wolfman not only the attitudes of the audience change with the recontextualization; those of the performers change too. A professional company such as the Canadian Opera Company (COC) should have no major problems in performing Wolf man, considering Schafer’s meticulous score and its many il lustrations, which suggest what certain scenes may look like on stage. That was also the impression under which Murray Schafer agreed to a performance of Wolfman by the COC without being himself directly involved in the production. He writes: The Work of R. i[urray Schafer Allegories of the Postajodern 186 The score of Patria 1 is very explicit and if the directions were followed it should be possible for a smooth machine like the COC to approach it with some thing like efficiency. (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 68) The COC in all its efficiency, however, compartmentalized the production by adhering to a hierarchical structure in which all tasks are exactly distributed and the participants may not transgress the limits of individual responsibility. Schafer describes that compartmentalization as follows: I was invited to two production meetings. I had no further meetings with the director and was not asked to attend staging rehearsals. No one was interested in anyone else’s part in the production. No one was interested in the whole. There were no meetings at which the artistic team shared ideas or sought to unify their concept of the work. Everyone went his own way, appeared when required and disappeared when not required. No one wanted to learn from anyone else. The director attended no musical rehearsals. The musical director was out of the country for the first week of staging rehearsals. The designers worked in a vacuum. (69) In my view, the COC’s failure to produce Wolfman to Schafer’s liking is indicative not of outrageous standards of perfection the composer applies to productions of his work but of modern habits of producing theatre that Schafer does not ac cept. It shows that Schafer--even at the beginning of the Pa tria cycle--wrote these works to be produced in a new manner, a manner best described in terms of a broader concept of ritual that emphasizes the collaborative aspects of a production. In this way, Schafer clearly thinks that the currently ac cepted model of producing music theatre is no longer efficient. As a result, he tries changing it by transforming opera into The ilork of B. 1Iurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 187 what he calls ‘coopera” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 36); that is, a production of one of his works should involve all participants (performers and non-performers alike) con structively in the process. Ideally, they should all care for the result of the production and develop insights into how their individual part in the production contributes to the end- result. Such an understanding of the participants’ roles hints at an underlying belief in a communal effort and a spirit of team work that Schafer would like to realize in a production of his works. We should not simply define this end-result as what occurs on stage. Rather, it entails all semiotic events par taking in the performance. Schechner, for instance, describes the 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, circum scribe a notion of ritual that can be both secular, as in Wolf- man, and sacred, as in The Princess. The various rituals in the Patria cycle thus appear as subtle explorations into an in clusive concept of ritual. The experiences that performers and spectators gain have the implicit task of instructing them in the art of recognizing their lives as a number of rituals. If this instruction is successful, they will leave the performance with rejuvenated eyes, as it were, and regard their environment in a new way. To use Schechner’s terminology, the audience will leave the performance permanently transformed. In Schech— The t’ork of B, Xurray Schafer Allegories of the Postijiodern 188 ner’s view, however, a strict separation of transportation per— formances (customarily called “theatre”) and transformation performances (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 this ritual are permanently transformed into men, the experienced performers who are trainers, guides, and co-performers are only temporarily transported. Likewise, the performances in Patria include a cross-section of transformation and transportation. The educational character of Schafer’s Patria cycle also accounts for, or perhaps even explains, the allegorical mode Schafer uses. Allegory has always been used as a method of in struction. Seen in this way, The Princess recontextualizes Wolfman with respect to another important feature, namely the allegorical. In his article “The Structure of Allegorical Desire,” Joel Fineman writes: The dream-vision is, of course, a characteristic framing and opening device of allegory, a way of situating allegory in the mise en abyme opened up by the variety of cognate accusatives that dream a dream, or see a sight, or tell a tale. (47) How else could one better situate the setting of The Princess with regard to the ensuing Wolfman than by viewing it as such an opening dream-vision, a first glimpse at an uncommon sight, or else the beginning of a tale which leads us in its sequels to other similarly extraordinary places? The state of perplex ity that I described above contributes to this effect. Seen as a self-sufficient theatre event, The Characteristics Man seems The Work of li. turray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 189 to be a “straightforward” allegory about the modern theme of alienation. The Princess sets into motion a recontextualiza tion that makes us see the broader, “cosmic” implications of what is now Wolfman, a part of Patria. These implications (the ritualistic aspects of Wolfman) and the participants’ realization of them determine the degree to which we can call Murray Schafer a reconstructive postmo dernist. Indeed, his notion of “co-opera” seems to implement Suzi Gablik’s “participatory aesthetics” by involving all par ticipants in the artistic event and also by going beyond aes thetics in re-structuring interpersonal relationships. In this way, Schafer’s aesthetics, like Gablik’s, is not an aesthetics in the traditional sense because it includes ethical guide lines. We should also keep in mind Angus Fletcher’s seminal study Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode in which he contends that allegory is structured according to ritualistic necessity, as opposed to probality, and for that reason its basic forms differ from mimetic plots in being less diverse and more simple in contour. (150) This proximity of ritual and allegory comes to the forefront of attention in Murray Schafer’s Patria cycle so that the ritual as allegory also becomes the allegory as ritual. And this ritual, to be sure, is not the narrow one defined by anthropol ogy: it is an inclusive one which circumscribes the essence of theatre by paying attention to the condition of performance in our western culture as well as in non-western cultures. J) B U) U) C) U) > H . UD ) U) C) U) B C CD C) 1) < CD H C H ’ CD - C) H . W CD H H U) DO r t CD H ’ H CD U) CD CD r U) C) r1 CD - 1 ) U) C “ H . r+ U) rt ’ U) H - . ) CD C B - t C r < CD Z CD CD H ’ CD H . 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H ’ C H ’ Cl) H - ) CD C C D ) H -C D H - H ’ B H - CD H ’ C H - H ’ H H ’ H ’ 1 : C D H C i) H - C CD Cl) C . H - B Cl) ID ” H ’ ‘ C ) H ’ H - ‘ C CD H - H ’ H - H ’ CD C D H - H ’ )“ C D Cl) H ’ I H - ) H - ) H - H ’ Cl) (JO . H -c ) )H ’C )C D ‘ C) B “ H - C H - C ‘ H -C D C l) H ’C D C H - CD H ’ H ’ CD - H I (JO . H ’ (JO . C) CD CD ) H ’ H ’ Cl) H ’ H - H ’ ‘ H ’ B CD H - H ’ H ’ I C ) C H - B CD ) B CD H - H - H ’ Cl) C) ) H ’ C ) Cl) ) H ’ • H - ) Z C (5” C I ” ” >< ) H - CD CD H ’ “ Cl) I . The Work of I?. urray Schafer Allegories of the Postlnoderil 192 After having participated in the first production of The Greatest Show in 1987, Schafer wrote an article to which he ap pended selected remarks by Italian Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944) on the “Variety Theatre.” I think it is Schafer’s intention to highlight a number of parallels between Marinetti’s theatre and the one presented in The Greatest Show by pointing to what they react against: I append some remarks . . . by T.F. Marinetti . with the hope that future performers of The Greatest Show might find them appropriate, for although Marinetti’s world and ours are widely separated, some of 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 in his theatre the Solemn, the Sacred, the Serious, and the Sublime in Art with a capital A. It cooperates with Futuristic destruction of immortal masterworks, plagiarizing them, parodying them, making them look commonplace by stripping them of their solemn ap paratus as if they were mere attractions. (qtd. in Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 133) This quotation seems to describe the aichemical process of breaking down Patria 1 and 2 into prima materia that Patria 3 undertakes. Schafer links this breaking down to questions of genre. In a part of the introduction that Schafer also in corporates as “EDITING UNIT 13: PARABASIS” into The Greatest Show, he attempts to situate his work generically and stylisti The Work of li, Nurray Schafer A]]egories of the Postinodern 193 cally.’’ Yet he is capable only of suggesting a broad and fuzzy outline of the work’s status: based upon “the model of the village fair . . . we produce a confection of 100 atrocities; amusing, ironical, linked only in the head of the wandering visitor” (Introduction: 2-3). In a later article, Schafer is more specific: The Greatest Show aims to seduce its public by plundering ruthlessly from the past, by conjoining belly dancers with tragedians, slapstick with ex pressionism, vaudeville with opera, voodooism with pulpit and lectern demagogy. In fact this stylistic impurity is the source of its attractiveness to a modern audience. (Patria and the Theatre of Con fluence 126) Schafer here links farcical genres and their performers to rep resentatives of “high art” and a socio/political phenomenon. Belly dancing or the “cooch” was from 1893 on an integral part of burlesque shows touring North America;’2 slapstick, just like farce and burlesque, denotes broad comedy based on boisterous humor; vaudeville was a late 19th century variation of the North American burlesque that appealed to middle-class ‘‘ Patria 3: The Greatest Show, Category I, editing unit 3: The University Theatre, 27-29 (All future references appear in the text in abbreviated form: 13: 27-29). Patria 3 is di vided into 11 categories. These categories have headings that describe their setting. Schafer subdivides the categories fur ther into “editing units” or rehearsal units, which he uses throughout Patria. He describes them as follows: “Each editing unit has its own mood or situation, though some flow into one another and others are distinctly separate--like the scenes of a 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 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (225-28). See also my analysis below of editing unit C15: “Little Araby.” ) c. J C CD CD r1 CD C Cl) ) C CD I— a CD r1 — CD Cl) CD C C . CD CD Cl) . r Cl) 1 r C CD CD r i CD - CD i) fr -t ) ) Z r1 H C Cl) CD C C ) • 1 C ) C c- i- CD . i c ) CD C c -i f-a . • . CD < O ) CD c- i- Cl) c -i C CD ) c- i- c -i i- • C t ) i-- a C t Ct Cl) CD Z I- . Cl) Cl) C t CD CD )) c- i- < ) CD ) c ) C t C Cl) 0 c- I- Cl) c -i H c -I C :c ) Cl) c-I- CD CD >< CD Cl) i) H • c- i- C CD O H - c- I- S CD C = S C F - Cl) Cñ Cl) CD r t - > ) C Cl) I-— CD H - CD c- I- H C t C)1 Cl) :c ) Ct c- i- C C t c- I- CD ) CD D Cl) CD 1 < C C t CD C ) Cl) C C CD C H • CD . CD Cl) c’ CD S C t CD ) CD ) CD - c- I- I- - Cl) < C - CD Cl) CD C 5 Cl) S C CD CD CD CD CD CCc ) 0 Cl) (I) H • ) Cl) Cl) Cl) CD ) H - C t C ) CD W CD CD CD C t C CD 1 CD CD c- I- Cl) 5 1 C t C < CD CD c- i- Cl) c- I- CD 0 C t H - CD c- I- C t - CD ) CD CD ) H P CD C CD H • - )) CD CD O . CD Ct C Cl) i-— C/D & CD Cl) C t CD C t 0 CD CD CD CD CD CD CD Cl) CD ) CD Ct C C C t H - CD Cl) ) CD C t 1 c -I 0 C t CD C1 CD & H • H - CD CD Cl) c- I- CD C CD c- I- Z H - ) CD c- I- C t c- I- CD H - H - C CD - Cl) ‘ - CD ) C 0 C CD C ) ) i- Cl) H . c- I- C t CD c- I- Cl) Cl) CD H - c- I- CD H c- I- c- I- C t ) Cl) Cl) I- Cl) C t C t C 1 C t c- I- C CD ) C t CD C CD C t C t Cl) C C C t < CD CD C t CD Cl) ) Cl) c- I- c- i- H - Cl) C t H - H - C t ) C t H - CD ) Cl) CD C ) c— I- C C t ) CD C CD c -t I Cl) H - C t CD C t r+ H - H ) CD CD CD H CD Cl) < C Cl) H - Z) r+ C C H - CD c ) H - c- I- Cl) CD O C Ct CD 1 e < H - CD - - r- I CD c - c r Cl) Cl) 5 , H c ) C ) Cl) C CD c- I- C t H - H - C c ) ) 0 CD S H - H - C CD ) H - C t I- Cl) < CD H . CD c- I- CD 1 CD CD H - )) CD CD ) C t H - H . c- I- C t H - Cl) C t C t c- I- C t c- I- Cl) C t C H - CD H • C t )) H - CD - S C c ) CD H C t C t Cl) O H - - Cl ) H - )) 0 Cl) Z CD C t C C t C t i CD CD CD C CD C C H • C H • c- I- > CD < ) C C t ) c- I- - i CD ) C t 1 H c < Cl) ) C t C t — CD C t 0 Cl) H Cl) CD i-- a Cl) r+ C t C S H - CD c ) t - CD CD Cl) - S C C- CD CD H - CD H - Cl) CD ) CD C ) Jc Cl) c ) H c- I- c - CD C t S CD C 0 H - H - CD C t CD ) C t CD H . Z C t H - C ) C t CD C c- I- c- I- C t C- C c Ct C t CD Ct C- CD C- )) C C CD C- CD C Cl) CD CD Ct H - CD Cl) C t c- I- 5 H - c ) CD )) C t CD Cl) ) C CD 1 CD ) c- I- 0. c- I- C t CD CD C- Cl) CD C t Cl) CD ç)) Cl) :c ) C t C 5 Cf C t GO CD CD C CD C- CD CD 0 :c ) CD ) C t 1 C t CD CD C t Cl) H - C Cl) - c- I- i) Cl) CD < H - F - c- i- C t Cl) F— - c- i- C- H • C 5 CD CD Cl) Cl) C t c- I H - ) Cl) S H - C t CD Cl) C t CD H - Cl) H - CD C C t Cl) Cl) CD Z ) C- H - C t i) C Cl) ) H H - e . CD H - C- C t ) c- I- H - H - CD CD CD Cl) 0 - ) C- C t H - c < H - H - D) N C) CD C CD H - H - DO H - c- I- 5 H - C CD C- CD CD ) CD C t Cl) C C t H - Cl) Ct C DC H - 5 H CD C H S C t C- H - H - CD CD H - Cl) Cl) c- h I 5 C- i) H - CD H - C c- i- Cl) C C t CD C CD H - CD CD C- CD Cl) C l H - C t ) c- I- CD Cl) H C- C t CD C/D c ) C Cl) C- CD C CD H - H ci CD c- i- C t 0 c ) Cl) e CD H - CI) C t S CI) ) O . Cl) C CD c- I- c i C < C CD i-- a Cl) ci CD H - H I Cd ) I The Work of R. Murray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 195 Schafer’s comments on the generic status of The Greatest Show emphasize the multi-disciplinary nature of the spectacle as well as a common denominator of its editing units, namely the farce. The farce draws the various media together by dint of its extra-literary nature. In her compendium on the farce, Jessica Mimer Davis writes: From the correct reception of custard pies to the precise machinery of a complex display of fireworks it is the physical skills of the actor, and the corresponding visual imagination of the dramatist, which are at a premium. Verbal and literary artifice is simply overwhelmed by physical action in farce. (17) In other words, the visual imagination of the dramatist gives rise to an extra-literary level of meaning in farce, namely the physical action. A similar relation of visual imagination to extra-literary meaning can be observed in allegory. Angus Fletcher argues that this “doubleness of intention” (that is, on the one hand, the literal level of meaning and, on the other, a second level which is properly extra-literary and depends on allegorical interpretation) is a mark of genuine al legory and generates “a penchant for the purely visual” (239): A visualizing, isolating tendency is bound to appear wherever system is desired, since the perfect form of imagery for such purposes will be something like a geometric shape. . . . If reality is imaged in diagrammatic form, it necessarily presents objects in isolation from their normal surroundings, precisely what we found in the case of emblematic painting and poetry. (98, 100) The Greatest Show relies on farce and also uses emblems. In his “Staging Notes” to The Greatest Show, Schafer emphasizes the visualization of the fairground: “In construct- The Work of R. ftlurray Schafer Allegories of the Postaloderil 196 ing the sets, he admonishes, “it is important to make use of different levels” (Introduction: 3). In his article on The Greatest 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 up wards at times and at others to search the ground for shadow-clues or unsuspected tricks and traps. (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 126) Schafer’s visual imagination exhibits an isolating tendency by ordering the fairground into vertical and horizontal levels that the audience can scrutinize separately. The elicited ges tures of “gawk[ingj upwards” and “search[ing] the ground” aid the spectators in arriving at an allegorical reading of The Greatest Show because they lead to a re-ordering and possible deciphering of enigmatic clues.’3 In The Greatest Show, it appears that the dialogical multi-disciplinarity or “stylistic impurity” is linked to Schafer’s visual imagination as well as to the allegorical meaning. Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of carnival describes well this multi-disciplinarity. According to Bakhtin, the carnival of 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 affinity between allegory and farce: both concepts can be interpreted either as a genre or a mode. This uncertainty lies at the very root of these concepts and accounts, I think, for a distinct unease in dealing with either of them on a critical footing, since uncertainty occasions a theoretical slippage that is dif ficult to contain in the critical act. The Work of I?. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 197 the people’s languages rather than the “official” Latin (466). Furthermore, a vital expression of the “carnivalistic worldview” is profanation and parody of sacred texts (14-15). Carnival, Bakhtin contends, opposes established genres by ex posing them to the laughter that is a key experience of carnival. This “culture of humour” combats the fear of the sacred and the hierarchically superior; it leads to a state of liminality that reduces the distance and creates a certain fa miliarity between humans: All were considered equal during carnival. Here, in the town square, a special form of free and familiar contact reigned among people who were usually divided by the barriers of caste, property, profession, and age. . . . People were, so to speak, reborn for new, purely human relations. These truly human relations were not only a fruit of imagination or abstract thought; they were experienced. The utopian ideal and the realistic merged in this carnival experience, unique of its kind. (10) The Greatest Show, then, by virtue of its carnivalistic nature situates the spectators in liminality. Also, the term “spectators” is only partially adequate, for at any given mo ment of The Greatest Show, Schafer may call on them to partici pate and perform. This ambiguity, Bakhtin says, is a defining feature of carnival: Carnival does not know footlights, in the sense that it does not acknowledge any distinction between ac tors and spectators. Footlights would destroy a carnival, as the absence of footlights would destroy a theatrical performance. Carnival is not a spec tacle seen by the people; they live in it, and every one participates because its very idea embraces all the people. (7) The Work of’ R. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 198 Before, however, trying to decipher the allegory of The Greatest Show, I want to scrutinize the process of reading al legorically. The Greek roots of the term “a11egory indicate that al legory speaks otherwise or speaks (of) anOther in public.’4 Accordingly, an allegorical reading must gain access to that Otherness and often does so to the detriment of a close scru tiny of the multi-layeredness of the allegorical Other. In other words, at times it is tempting to define anOther narrowly in order to succeed at the allegorical reading and arrive at a coherent secondary meaning of the work. In Schafer’s Patria cycle and especially in the aichemical unit, the allegorical Other appears at first as the unconscious that emerges in terms of alchemy and especially e.G. Jung’s in tegration of the alchemical trope into his psychological system of archetypes and a collective unconscious. It is easy to evoke powerful devices to implement a reading along these lines, but ultimately such a reading remains unsatisfactory for it does not address the essence of allegory. While such readings may reveal much about the internal in tricacies of the Patria cycle with regard to its Jungian un derpinnings, they contribute little if anything to a scrutiny of 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 or in the market). The Work of li. Murray Schafer Allegories of the Postifioderll 199 modern. I maintain, however, that it is precisely the conjunc tion of allegory and the postmodern that must be explored with Schafer. Likewise, it was primarily the essence of (baroque) al legory that interested Walter Benjamin. Winfried Menninghaus points out that Benjamin displayed an avowed disinterest in single analyses of allegories: Benjamin “does not want . . . to know” about the singular meanings of allegorical peculiarities of baroque poetry nor “whether they are more truthful, psychologically more profound, more excusable, have a better form than in others.” He is, however, con cerned with the doubtlessly extremely episternological question: “What are they [the allegories] themselves? What speaks from them? Why did they come about?”5 One way of addressing these epistemological questions may be by taking a closer look at the allegory meaning. However, I do not want to look at the Jungian collective unconscious Schafer repeatedly hints at and in which he stores all kinds of archetypes waiting to be revived in a postmodern neo-mythical spectacle. I want to displace this Jungian Other and replace it with a multi-dimensional allegorical Other (which I call an Other) that demonstrates more about the postmodern than it does about a rigidly construed unconscious. ‘ “Benjamin will . . . ‘nicht wissen’, welche singulären Bedeutungen die allegorischen Verschrobenheiten barocken Dichtens jeweils haben bzw. ‘ob sie beim einen aufrichtiger, psychologisch vertiefter, entschuldbarer, formvollendeter als beim anderen sind’. Es geht ihm vielmehr urn die zweifellos mit einem extremen Erkenntnisanspruch verknüpfte Frage: ‘Was sind sie [die Allegorien] selbst? Was spricht aus ihnen? Warum muten sie sich einstellen?’” (Menninghaus [with quotations from Benjamin] 81) The Work of li. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postmoo’ern 200 I would like to draw attention to that Otherness in The Greatest Show. As his title indicates, Schafer is obsessed with the superlative and hence his treatment of anOther also shows extreme tendencies.’6 Yet we should keep in mind that it is in the extreme that allegories reveal anOther most clearly because in the extreme occur the starkest oppositions. In the first editing unit of The Greatest Show, Sam Galuppi, the circus barker, opens the show by praising its synaesthetic qualities (“PATRIA 3: THE GREATEST SHOW / A FEAST FOR THE EARS, / THE EYES, THE NOSE / AND THE STOMACH?!) as well as the entertainment value (“BUT HAVE NO FEAR / FOR I, SAM GALUPPI, / AM YOUR GUARANTEE / THAT THE SHOW WILL RUN / AS GOOD CLEAN FUN” [A:3]). Before that can happen, however, the show needs hero and heroine who “HOLD THE THREAD / TO GUIDE US THROUGH THE LABYRINTH” (A:4), which is a hint at the Ariadne Theseus myth, yet in such form that it is “we” the spectators, who are to be led through the labyrinth of The Greatest Show and that of the Patria cycle hitherto composed. The barker then picks two ‘volunteers’ from the audience who identify themselves as “Ariadne” and “Wolfie.” At once, Galuppi 16 As Stephen Adams point out, Schafer’s initial title was The Greatest Show on Earth but he had to shorten it because of legal threats from Ringling Brothers, who have the phrase under copyright (199). Reminders of Schafer’s intention can still be found in the program for The Greatest Show which is a “lurid- looking tabloid” called The Patriotic News Chronicle (see In troduction: 12-27). All references, and there are many, to The Greatest Show appear in bold letters and give the initial title: The Greatest Show on Earth. The liork of R. Yurreiy Schafer Allegories of the Postnioderii 201 proclaims that their individual mediocrity may add up to some thing more substantial: “WHAT A SPECTACULAR PAIR OF ORDINARY MORTALS!” (A:4) However, the modus operandi here is clearly their ordinariness, which is why Galuppi feels compelled to add: “BUT DO NOT DESPAIR / FOR WE CAN TURN THIS PAIR / INTO BRIGHT GLITTERING STARS / AT LEAST FOR TONIGHT” (A:4). As it turns out, Ariadne and Wolfman volunteer for acts of magic to be performed by the show’s two magicians. The black magician leads Ariadne to a long box, above which are suspended three guil lotines, one at the head, one at the feet and one in the middle. . . . The first blade drops cutting off the girl’s protruding feet. The second blade appears to cut her in half, while the third cuts off her head, which falls into a basket. (A:5) The white magician in turn leads Wolfman into an animal cage. A cloth is draped over the cage and it is slowly raised into the air. . . . When the cage has reached its position, the White Magician fires a pistol and the curtain falls. The cage is empty. (A:5) A C major flourish from the orchestra indicates the apparent completion of these acts as well as an end of the danger to the volunteers. Here, however, something goes wrong and Galuppi breathlessly comments: “VANISHED! / CUT TO PIECES! / AND THEY WERE GOING TO BE THE HEROES OF OUR SHOW” (A: 5-6). In the aftermath of these events, other artists steal Ariadne’s severed head and feet and integrate them into their acts. But Ariadne’s other body parts will also appear throughout the show. The .4ork of B. :1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 202 The dissemination of Ariadne’s corporeal presence through the sliced-off fragments of her body is a key issue in The Greatest Show, just as the many traces of Wolfman’s absence are. Both issues engage the spectators in an immediate manner in the fate of these characters. More than that, Schafer en courages the spectators to consider Ariadne and Wolfman as more than mere individual characters because they are “heroine” and “hero” of the show. However, the spectators’ personal atti tudes either subvert or confirm Ariadne’s and Wolfinan’s heroism when it turns out that these “heroes” are rejects of a society they themselves do not understand.’7 Time and again in the course of the evening’s “entertain ment” the spectators will come across editing units that focus attention on the issue of violence against women. Let me give an example: In “The Princess of Parallelograms,” Schafer presents Ariadne’s sliced body: Among the distinguished portraits of heroes and heroines is a wall sculpture or bas-relief of the fragments of a woman. It is as if her body has been put through a meat slicer and the slices have then been arranged side by side, slightly out of phase with one another. The relationship with the vivisec tion of Ariadne in Editing Unit Al should be neither too pronounced nor too ignored. (D:21) This editing unit focusses on the concrete violence that Ariadne has to undergo in order to enter the signifying ‘ One should keep in mind that both Wolfman and Ariadne end 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 203 process. In contrast, the exhibition associated with Wolfman in the same category, “Memorabilia Gallery--Souvenirs of Our Hero,” represents Wolfman by assembling some of his personal belongings: The cases contain relics and clothes: our hero’s boots, his military jacket, his pipe, his glass eye and fake moustache, etc. Also on display are several beautifully written but quite illegible documents: his immigration papers, an old passport and perhaps a love letter to Ariadne. From his childhood are coloured pencil set, his wolf tail and rubber ducky. (D: 19) In this way, Schafer also subjects Wolfman to violence, but on ly to the abstract violence of a system of representation. Schafer structures Wolfman’s memorabilia gallery paratactical ly; that is, the items are displayed side by side ostensibly without any order. The structure of Wolfman’s exhibit can be seen as based on selection, which according to Roman Jakobson’s contention of the twofold character of language gives rise to metaphor and tends towards allegory. Ariadne’s display, however, can be seen to be based on combination, giving rise to metonymy and tending towards symbolism. A decisive difference between the respective forms of violence is that Wolfman sig nifies through absence, while Ariadne signifies by means of her fragmented presence. Not being able to speak for himself, Wolfman must rely continuously on others to create meaning. As we shall see, Schafer fills the void of Wolfman’s absence (which resembles the absence of a signified) with a new meaning that provides access to anOther. Ariadne’s fragmented presence it s C D V S II 10 WI ‘ - 4 m ( it < V W I> it Id ’ to C) Id 0 Id - C) m l 0 t’ m l W I C O W S Id - WI m l WI WI Id C Id WS WI Id -’ 4 10 W WS m l 1 0 0 B Id - Id . 0 ‘- 5 - 4 it a ’ Id -C . 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Blood spurts from her mouth and covers the stage. They carry her out on their shoulders singing lustily, “STRENGTH THROUGH JOY!” (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 social program of the Third Reich that enabled workers to relax in state-owned spas. This historical connotation contradicts the upbeat message the slogan as such attempts to communicate be cause it draws attention to the underlying ideology. With regard to the violence, the men’s “singing lustily” sets up a strange contrast to the gory scene one has Just witnessed. Such farcical elements also appear in other editing units’8 so that they may be seen as constituting a loosely connected parodical subtext to the theme of violence against women in fl Greatest Show. Their effect with regard to violence against women is to diminish the visual impact of the presentation. Once the spectators smile ironically or even sarcastically, Schafer has widened the dramatic distance between spectators and presentation because the spectators begin to reflect on the nature of the farcical element rather than on the violence against women. Schafer in this way assaults his women victims a second time. Considering the brutality and tenacity of a 18 See “Lazzi,” where the Four Vaudevillians perform pantomimes in front of Ariadne’s coffin, or the setting of “La Testa d’Adriane”: a singing head propped up on a table. In the recording of “La Testa” one can hear some spectators screaming with laughter when the barker reveals the head. The Work of R. Horray Schafer Allegories of the Postisodern 206 double assault, Schafer’s strategy may well be deemed chauvinistic, if not misogynistic. The double-structure of these farcical elements helps to create another aspect of the allegorical structure that most of The Greatest Show adheres to. In these instances the allegori cal doubleness of intention, as Fletcher calls it, turns into farce because one of the two structures questions and diminishes the other one. In an editing unit entitled “Little Araby,” Schafer links the violence against women to an erotic/pornographic spectacle. Ariadne’s feet reappear in “Little Araby” in which a male barker presents a belly-dancer: ALL PRAISE TO ALLAH, THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE, FOR HE HAS BROUGHT THE STOLEN FEET OF A PRINCESS WHOSE VERY LIMBS WERE BORROWED FOR THIS EVE NING’S DEMONSTRATION. (C:33) Little Araby will be performing a belly dance on her borrowed feet.’9 The title of the unit, the belly dancing, and the set 1--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 burlesque shows at the end of the 19th century. This background is im portant in order to understand why I treat “Little Araby” as a further instance of violence against women. 19 Alternatively, she may perform Schafer’s Tantrika, a composition for singer and four percussionists (see C:33). This work is published separately and has not been available to m The liork of B. forray Schafer Allegories of the Postifiodern 207 Let me briefly outline the history of the cooch: The Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was intended to introduce the American public to the science of anthropology. To accomplish that feat, the exposition consisted of two re lated exhibitions: one called “White City,” and the other organized about the “Midway Plaisance.” In White City, one could see exhibitions related to “mainstream”-American culture, while in Midway Plaisance, one could compare that culture with others from around the world. All exhibits were ordered ac cording to an evolutionary hierarchy of racial progress so that the Black African and native Indian exhibits were farthest removed from White City. One of the exhibits in Midway Plaisance was called the “Streets of Cairo” and featured belly dancing as one of its attractions. The Chicago Fair in this way banished the naked female body from White City by carefully concealing it from the probing eye of the visitors while simultaneously displaying it in the “popular” side of the fair by means of the belly dancer (Allen 227-28). This construction of femininity tapped into a discourse on woman that situated her midway between the standards of “civilization” and “bar barism” exhibited respectively by the males in White City and those furthest away from White City.20 In this way, woman was represented as a threat to the late nineteenth-century male in 20 Charles Darwin, for instance, maintained that some of the physical features of women were “characteristic of the lower races, and therefore, of a past and lower state of civi lization” (qtd. in Allen 228). The Ilork of I?, ‘turray Schafer Allegories of the Postiiiodern 208 his quest for spiritual perfection. Still, the belly-dancer constituted no real threat because she appeared as the exotic, ethnological Other: The belly dancer was another kind of woman, whose ex pressive sexuality tantalized but whose power was contained and distanced by her exotic otherness. (228) And it is as an exotic Other that the belly dancer gained ac cess to the burlesque shortly after the Chicago Fair. Standard names 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, which emerged in the mid-1920s. Allen links this development to the “cooch’s” presence at fairs: Such was the competition among the tents along the Midway Plaisance that barkers hectored passersby in an attempt to entice them inside to see the “real stuff,” each promising a more revealing show. (230) Little Araby’s barker similarly blusters at his potential customers: WATCH NOW AS SHE RISES TO THE TIPTOES OF HER BORROWED FEET TO GIVE YOU A FORETASTE OF WHAT IS TO COME. SLOWLY HER BODY SWAYS . . . SLOWLY . . . SLOWLY . THEN BY IMPERCEPTIBLE DEGREES WITH INCREASING VOLUP TUOUSNESS SHE MOVES . . . NOW WITH BOLD ABANDON [. • .] ENOUGH! WE DARE NOT GO FURTHER IN A PUBLIC PLACE. LITTLE ARABY, THE PRIDE OF THE EAST, PRECEDES YOU NOW TO PREPARE HERSELF FOR THE DANCE NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN THE WEST DUE TO PURITANICAL HYPOCRISY. (C: 33) Sigismundo, the male barker, does all the talking in this act. He praises the eroticism of Little Araby’s body and dance. His attitude towards Little Araby helps to clarify the The liork of R. Alurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 209 qualitative position the dancer holds in this spectacle, namely that of the appropriated and dominated Other of the masculine gaze, for Sigismundo clearly stresses that she is dancing for the spectator and not, for instance, in order to present a work of art or to indulge herself. In this way, he refers to the spectacle as a demonstration, not a presentation, thus indicat ing that Little Araby’s body is to be shown to the spectators. As a result, any kind of self-awareness, which would indeed in dicate either a taking control or else an active part for Little Araby, escapes her altogether. Furthermore, he ad dresses the spectators no less than six times in order to point out that the spectacle takes place only to please him. In relation to her male spectators, Little Araby’s posi tion is less an erotic than a pornographic one.21 The gaze is 21 The distinction between male heterosexual pornography and eroticism, I think, can be made on account of the position the woman takes with regard to the masculine gaze. If the mas culine gaze appropriates her as an object only and does not permit her to be a subject in her own right, we are dealing with pornography. If she presents herself in a way that estab lishes her as a subject, we are dealing with eroticism. In his essay Between Clothing and Nudity,” Mario Perniola provides an example of how a striptease dancer can assume the position of a subject with regard to her observer: “In our century, the erotics of dressing and the erotics of undressing appear in porno theatres and striptease acts, but only very rarely do they achieve an effective erotic transit. This happens in striptease when, through an intense look at her audience, the stripper succeeds in inverting a relationship that is usually one-way. From the moment the spectator feels himself watched, it is as if the stripper’s nudity functions like a mirror: he has to confront himself and his own potential nudity. Peep shows allow the spectator to watch without being seen, and therefore reinstate the Greek metaphysical perspective, the rights of pure theory, cutting off all possibility of transit” (29, 261). The 1ork of S. 3!urray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 210 either that of the barker who describes her to the passersby, or it is that of the spectators who finally enter the tent be cause they feel enticed by both the barker’s words and the dis play of Little Araby and the implicit promise of even more to come in the secrecy of the tent. One should take note that the masculine gaze necessarily fragments anOther because it takes into account only that fraction of Little Araby which can be easily dominated and appropriated, namely her outer ap pearance 2 2 Little Araby’s “exhibition is structured around the ten sion between her similarity to ‘ordinary’ women the male audience member sees and knows outside the tent and her fas cinating otherness produced by her expressive and displayed sexuality” (Allen 235). As a consequence, Ariadne’s feet as sume their role in an act that turns them into extensions of Little Araby’s body and the erotic/pornographic spectacle she demonstrates. The belly dancer in “Little Araby” as in the burlesque shows of days gone is silent. Any subversiveness that once may have been part of the burlesque around the 1870s was lost when female performers were silenced by a patriarchal takeover of the genre (Allen, conclusion passim). The only 22 Allen demonstrates the peculiar lengths to which the masculine gaze can go in an example that also shows how that gaze tends to fragment its object for further study: “At one show . . . several regular marks [an insider term for the audience members of strip-tease shows] brought flashlights with them. These they used in businesslike fashion in order to ex amine, 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 211 traces of subversion in “Little Araby” are the discursive traces of the violence done to Ariadne. Yet because Little Araby remains silent throughout the spectacle, these discursive traces remain confined to the barker’s discourse and cannot enter the realm of the erotic/pornographic spectacle of the tent. In the confusion after the opening act, Four Vaudevillians perform a “little pantomime” around the box in which Ariadne was guillotined (A:7). Then they carry that box about the fairground chanting “KEEP THE BODIES WHOLE” (A:7). In “Lazzi,” the assemblage of the box and the Four Vaudevillians resembles an emblem. The inscription of the emblem could be seen in the letter “A” painted on the coffin (B:2). This letter reiterates, by virtue of being a metonymy, what the editing unit presents visually and what the Vaudevillians’ chant prof fers as an interpretive quasi-subscription to the emblem, name ly that Ariadne has not been whole for a long time and that she would be better off as a whole person. The box or coffin acquires qualities of a banner because in the finale all women on stage band together and demand from the magicians: “MAKE THE BODY WHOLE!” In a similar response to an 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 des cribes the banner as an example of an isolated emblem that in his view epitomizes allegorical imagery: The 1ork of I?, Xurra,v Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 212 When the allegorical author wishes to strike an im mediate emblematic effect, he is likely to use some thing like ‘a banner with a strange device’ [because] the effect is often militant. Banners suggest . one’s allegiance to a system of political or reli gious faith. (94) In this way, a banner tends to reveal a hidden power. In his theoretical account of allegory, Fletcher suggests that this power divides the world into separate elements for further study and control.23 In The Greatest Show, however, Schafer’s alchemical trope embodies this power; it encodes the spectacle allegorically and provides it with an exegetical level of con templation. In her discussion of allegory, Gayatri Spivak makes an im portant observation with regard to theories of the unconscious and their function in literature: One has often remarked that, today, the human psychoanalytical model and Jung’s theory of ar chetypes are attempts to instill a real, independent system of significations on which literature has based itself regarding the matter of traditional al legories, in such a way that the theories are matters of belief.24 Spivak focuses our attention on an allegorical trait that Fletcher only hints at (“one’s allegiance to a system of 23 Fletcher speaks of the “daemonic power” (Fletcher pas sim) 24 “On a souvent note que le modèle psychanalytique de la personne humaine, et la théorie jungienne des archétypes, sont, A notre époque, des efforts pour instaurer un veritable système autonome de significations sur lequel la littérature a pris ap pui, A la matière des allegories traditionelles, du fait même que ces theories sont matière A croyance” (“Allegorie et histoire” 440) The Iork of I?. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postaiodern 213 political or religious faith”) and that Schafer exploits in his Patria cycle. As a matter of course, Schafer reuses and replaces belief systems that have traditionally formed inde pendent signifying systems in allegories. In this way, he reuses and refashions the alchemical trope in such a way that it replaces the Christian system by offering alternatives to such Christian metaphors as redemption and sacrifice. Schafer leaves the teleology of these metaphors intact; that is, redemption as such is not questioned, since Patria still envi sions the successful chemical wedding in the alchemical unit and the end of Wolf’s quest in the epilogue. Watson, on the other hand, attacks the teleology of some Christian metaphors (redemption and last judgments) but one metaphor in particular he leaves intact, that of original sin. Schafer also integrates Wolfman into an emblem, namely in “Timor Mortis Me Conturbat,” in which “the visitor encounters the outline of a sprawling man on the ground on which has been painted in white the numeral 1” (E:16). Schafer also assigns the numeral “1” to Wolfman in The Characteristics Man.25 In its 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 as the interpretive quasi-subscription (here the sign “NO FURTHER EARTHLING” situated above the “bloody handprints [that] climb 25 See Patria 1, editing units 1 & 3, pp. 2 & 4. The Work of B. (urray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 214 up a wall about two metres then stop” [E:16]), which seems to say that all of Wolfman’s striving beyond a certain point is in vain unless a higher power supports him. Yet a phoenix-like “beautiful bird” also supports Wolfman’s striving. A number of wires connects the silhouette to the bird thus suggesting that Wolfman can and will be resurrected from his ashes. In “Representing Writing: The Emblem as (Hiero)glyph,” Richard Cavell describes the emblem as resisting interpretive closure. With reference to Derrida’s notion of dissemination, Cavell states: The emblem can be seen . . . as a hybrid structure consisting in a chain of meanings which can extend indefinitely, one sign leading on to the next one. (168) In “Lazzi” and “Timor Mortis Me Conturbat,” the emblematic structure also partakes in that disseminating process. On the one hand, some elements lead to a “chain of meanings” (such as the letter “A” in “Lazzi” and the numeral “1” in “Timor”), while on the other hand other elements merely lead to a chain of ambiguities or traces of meanings that themselves remain enigmatic. An example would be the doubled spectacles in the coffin of “Lazzi.” They refer to Patria 2 in which Ariadne uses spectacles to disguise herself, to hide behind, and to overcome the fear of embarrassment, yet their doubleness remains enigmatic. Some of these disseminations lead to the hierarchically superior hidden meanings that only the true cognoscenti of Schaferiana discern; every detail seems to comment on other The Work of R, Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 21S elements of Patria. However, because of the skits that the Four Vaudevillians perform around the coffin, the editing unit may still entertain those spectators who do not grasp the hid den meanings. They would probably note the outlandishness of the props, but not see more in them than a satiric backdrop to the 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 levels merely confirms their allegorical mode. Fletcher says: The whole point of allegory is that it does not need to be read exegetically; it often has a literal level that makes good enough sense all by itself. (7) Yet Fletcher also describes the “hierarchical matrix . . . [to which] the allegorical author must inevitably turn” (239)--a matrix that suggests that the hidden level is superior to the literal one. The Greatest Show, however, mocks this hierarchy and provides general access to the privileged meanings by in cluding a number of editing units that give exegetical explana tions such as the lecture on The Greatest Show by the “noted composer and author R.M. Schafer.”26 Furthermore, the 26 See editing unit 13. In the Peterborough Festival of the Arts production of The Greatest Show in 1987, Schafer played himself. The manner in which Schafer is introduced as well as his outward look seems to be a mild ironical spoof on some of the author’s eccentricities: “Madame Shelora Guidobaldo del Monte provides an effusive introduction to the noted com poser and author R.M. Schafer. For once his pants are pressed. He wears a Tibetan jacket and looks like the aging doyen of some East-West cult of marginal credibility. He reads the ‘Parabasis’ [from the “Introduction”] calmly and without look ing at the audience” (1:27). The Work of R. Hiirray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodere 216 University Theatre in which the lecture takes place--unlike the other tent theatres--does not require an entrance pass--it is open to everyone who chooses to enter. Ariadne’s arms in “Lazzi” blend in with the other elements to form the emblematic structure of the editing unit. One should note, however, that the “long box” (A:5) has become a “coffin” (B:7); the presence of Ariadne’s arms can be seen as a sign--however disseminated it may be in its context--of Ariadne’s violent death. Ariadne’s death then emerges as a grave subtext to this editing unit. One of the underlying texts that points to a Jungian interpretive system is the an cient Egyptian Book of the Dead that also provides the mythical plot for Patria 6: Ra. In The Greatest Show, however, this text is not at the centre although it still contributes here and 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 in Egypt is that the dead are dismembered, as was Osiris, and must therefore be reassembled before they can resurrect [sic]; they must be put together again so as to be able to rise from the underworld. (72) Likewise, Ariadne in The Greatest Show is dismembered and ac cording to the aichemical trope in its Jungian interpretation must be reassembled before returning to the living. All the instances of Ariadne’s severed body parts in various editing units would represent her voyage through the underworld. The Work of R. Hurray Schafer Aiiegories of the Postinodern 217 At the end of the opening act, “the accordionist, Giuseppe Macerollo, sneaks onto the Odditorium stage and furtively car ries off the head of Ariadne (the girl)” (A:6). What he does with the head becomes clear in one of the editing units of the category entitled “Set Pieces.” Schafer describes them as fol lows: This section includes pieces requiring a set environ ment: booth, tent, soapbox, or minitheatre. Some of the pieces are performed continuously and some are performed intermittently. (C:l) Schafer describes the “set environment” of “La Testa D’Adriane” meticulously in the full score which is published separately (as are most of the editing units’ scores). The centre of this act is the bodiless head propped up on a desk in a booth. This desk is to be carefully constructed so that it accomplishes the illusion of a severed head: The work depends on the effective execution of a magician’s trick. In reality the singer is seated on a stool beneath the table, but this is hidden by two very clean plate glass mirrors . . . which are fas tened between the front and two side legs of the table. . . . The mirrors will reflect the inner walls and floor of the kiosk . . . but the reflec tions will be taken by the audience to be the back wall. (“La Testa” 66) Walter Benjamin describes what could be seen as a model for “La Testa.” He recounts the development of the feast of the dead, the Todtenmahlzeit, in which a duke takes revenge on his opponents by beheading them and subsequently arranging the heads on a table as though they were a feast. At first, this spectacle is only recounted in the baroque plays Benjamin is considering, but gradually it finds its way onto the stage too, The Work of R. Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 218 namely by using an “Italian trick”; that is, one cuts holes in to the surface of the table and conceals the actor’s bodies be hind the protruding table-cloth. Benjamin says that the al legorist takes the “soul” from the corpses of the duke’s vic— tims by not allowing them to signify for themselves and making them attest allegorically to the cruelty of the duke. Accord ing to Benjamin, these feasts and other displays of corpses in baroque drama tie in with a more general allegorical feature of objects that have to give up their own meaning in order to function in an allegorical way. Benjamin thinks this step is one of devaluation (195). A similar devaluation is at work in every allegoresis because it disregards and hence devalues the literal meaning of an object in order to arrive at an allegori cal reading. In “La Testa,” we find a devaluation of Ariadne’s head. We have to take a closer look at the editing unit in or der to read Ariadne’s head allegorically. Still outside the tent, the accordionist, who is also the barker of his act, tries to lure passers-by into stopping at his booth to follow his presentation. His name, Giuseppe Macerollo,27 denotes that he is Italian (or at least of Italian descent)--a fact that might also be responsible for the 27 The name of the accordionist is inspired by the Toronto accordionist to whom Schafer dedicated “La Testa,” Joseph Macerolo. Macerolo performed this role in the Peterborough Festival of the Arts production in 1987. The ilork of R. Murray Schafer A]]egories of the Postinoo’ern 219 metathesis28 from Ariadne to Adriane. Once inside the tent, the head on the table does not move, but the barker assures the onlookers that “SHE IS NOT DEAD. / SHE SLEEPS ONLY” (C:12). Furthermore, he says, “NOTHING STIRS HER. / BUT SHE CAN BE AWAKENED. / MUSIC . . . MUSIC TOUCHES HER DISTANT SOUL / AND DRAWS IT BACK TO THE LIVING WORLD” (C:12). So he plays and she awakens. What follows is a composition for voice and accordion that uses a whole range of vocal sounds which found their way into vocal compositions only in the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century.29 In conjunction with the accordion, an in strument usually given to neither new nor “serious” music, the composition as a whole can be seen to store the repressed others of traditional, “serious” music.3° The sort of popular and “hammy”3’ music of the introduction, which seems only to amplify the verbal enticements of the barker (“LADIES & GENT LEMEN! PREEEEESENTING: LA TESTA D’ADRIANE!” [“La Testa” 68]), does not readily submit to music-theoretical analysis. That is 28 In an interview on The Greatest Show, Schafer uses the mathematical term “permutation” to describe what is properly a linguistic metathesis (“Schafer on The Greatest Show” 37). 29 See Anhalt ch. 5. 30 By traditional and “serious” music, I mean German Austrian 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 Canadian composers. The Work of R. Yurray Schafer Allegories of the Postiodern 220 to say, an analysis must also take into account the circum stances of the setting as well as the function of the piece. Thus, all the distractions of the fairground, be they visual or acoustic, have an impact on this music because it must defend its own importance against these ubiquitous distractions.32 “La Testa” mounts a defense against the soundscape of the fair ground by choosing the farcical and the popular as a medium of representation. What Adriane’s head is uttering gives expression to the other of communicative speech, namely sounds that do not yet combine 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 the various stages of language acquisition” (197). The soprano ut 32 All of these distractions once were an integral part of most musical performances. For instance, it is only since Richard Wagner’s initiative that audiences listen attentively to all the music in an opera and not only to the “highlights” while talking through the rest. In this context, Schafer’s ad mission that his composition for string quartet and soprano “Beauty and the Beast” does not integrate well into the setting of the fair reveals the difficulties of composing for an “un known” soundscape: “It may be . . . that a work like Beauty and the Beast (1980) is too refined for presentation in a tent where the cascade of noises from without too frequently covers its delicate dynamic tremblings” (Patria and the Theatre of Confluence 130). Schafer composed Beauty and the Beast at an early stage of The Greatest Show, when he was not yet familiar with the soundscape of a fair. He explains that in that soundscape “the dynamic of the music is a function of the dis tance between performer and listener, rather than expression of emotion or sentiment. Music is loud when present, and soft when it goes away” (129). Schafer had first to unlearn the western thinking about dynamics in order to learn composing for the soundscape of a fairground. The Work of B. Burray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 221 ters phonemes that do not communicate an encoded message as hu man speech usually does. What the audience hears instead are fragments of such messages, but only those fragments that are rarely 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 com municating 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 is one--of Adriane’s utterances. As a result, we end up with a string of loosely connected phonemes. Schafer occasionally connects the sounds that apparently only communicate themselves to facial expressions and gestures of the severed head. At times, these combinations add up to a content, as in Adriane’s first utterance: she sings the phonemes “N” and “0” in an ac celerating and then slowing staccato with her eyes closing toward the climax and then opening again. One is tempted to read the phonemes here as “no” or “non” and the gestures as supporting such a reading in expressing a certain fear, perhaps of a traumatic event of the past, such as her beheading. Yet the remaining composition does not provide any further clue as to the nature of that traumatic event. Schafer leaves the spectators guessing, and the signified remains ultimately in determinable. At this point, we can address some of Schafer’s naming strategies. To begin with, the names for his protagonists, The Work of B, Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 222 Wolfman and Ariadne, have many connotations in folklore and mythology, respectively. The wolf, of course, is one of the most fabled creatures in Northern folklore, while Ariadne is one of the prominent human characters in Greek mythology. To gether, these connotations add an entire set of expectations and preconceptions to the ones the spectators bring to perform ances of Patria and The Greatest Show and in this way “prepare” the spectators to read allegorically and to look beyond the literal significance of the protagonists. Furthermore, Schafer includes a number of variations of the name Ariadne in various acts of The Greatest Show. Examples are Adriane, Arania (B8) and Aryanee (C18). These variations constitute a dismemberment of Ariadne’s name that corresponds to the dismemberment of her body. Ariadne again signifies through presenting parts of her self rather than being re-presented in some way or other. The subversive nature of farce can be seen in another editing unit, “Mummery.” Bold Slasher pursues Lucy van Triste. Lucy claims that he intends to murder her, while Bold Slasher wants to sacrifice her to the rain god so that it will not rain on The Greatest Show. During the pursuit, however, Lucy ad dresses the audience: “(Aside to the customers.) I GO THROUGH THIS EVERY NIGHT YOU KNOW, JUST SO YOU WON’T GET PEED ON” (B:34). When it comes to the murder/sacrifice something un expected happens: BOLD SLASHER. NOW, HEAD ON THE BLOCK. Lucy kneels and extends her neck on a large block of wood. Bold Slasher steps aside to sharpen his knife. When he turns back, he sees that Lucy is The h1ork of R. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postriodera 223 now standing tiptoe on the block under a large parasol. 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 THAT HEAVEN CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED AFTER DEATH. I ASSURE YOU I’M HERE AND IT’S QUITE DIVINE. (B:35) By avoiding in this way the concrete violence, Lucy on the one hand draws attention to the theatrical nature of the act, while on the other, she ironically questions whether the concrete violence against women is necessary in order to achieve sig nification. The “details” here would make Lucy van Triste’s fate more comparable to Ariadne’s because Bold Slasher intends to kill her by cutting off her head. By not entering the sig nifying process through fragmentation, Lucy van Triste points to an alternative, namely, that anOther can also signify by means of solidarity between performers and spectators. Thus at the end, van Triste again addresses the audience: AND SINCE IT IS ALL IN THE SPIRIT OF FUN, LET’S PUT BOLD SLASHER HERE ON THE RUN. JOIN MY HAND AND CHASE HIM AWAY, SO WE CAN PLAY. (B:36) The “SPIRIT OF FUN,” then, seems to be the key to achieving this alternative. It equals a carnivalesque upheaval in which the actor breaks the theatrical convention of playing a role in such a way that she is avoiding the character’s prescribed fate, while also including the audience in the theatrical world. While parading Ariadne’s coffin through the fairground, the Four Vaudevillians perform intermittently a tragic farce The Work of I?. 1urray Schafer Allegories of the Postraoderii 224 entitled “Looking.” The underlying notion of the absurd in “Looking” leads me to compare it to the theatre of the absurd as 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 making the characters of their plays tragically self-aware of their hopeless existential situation. A formal means for achieving this is the interruption of action and dialogue by frequent silences that prevent continuous laughter and give rise to an ironic subtext. This subtext directs the play towards an anti climax that frustrates the audience’s relief at the expected farcical apex and leads to a self-conscious laughter. We find similar strategies in “Looking.” Conveying a sense of direc tionlessness, the action and dialogue appear hesitant and repetitive throughout. Frequent pauses also interrupt the ac tion 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. Pause FIRST. STARTED AT WHAT? SECOND. Looking at First knowingly YOU KNOW. FIRST. OH! THEN WE’D BETTER GET STARTED. The Work of B. Hurray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 225 SECOND. RIGHT! FIRST. RIGHT! Pause SECOND. 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’T MUCH 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 generic subtitle “a tragicomedy is perhaps the best known tragic farce of the 20th century. In “Looking,” one finds a short spiel that ironically diminishes the existential seriousness of the act of waiting implied in Beckett’s play. Schafer achieves this diminishment by capitalizing on the comic confusion deriv ing from the different meanings of the different prepositional expressions (“wait for” and “wait on”). Furthermore, he emphasizes not the act of waiting itself but the place where one 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 IN The k’ork of R. Norray Schafer Allegories of the Postmoderii 226 THE 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 place and then stands there. (B:l7) While thus pointlessly, it seems, chatting and waiting, the Four Vaudevillians are looking at the ones who are looking at them and present themselves as a mirror image of the spec tators. At the meeting of the Vaudevillians’ and the spec tators’ gazes, the sketch proffers another level of perception and becomes allegorical and didactic because the absurdity of the tragic farce mirrors the absurdity of the spectators’ ef forts to make sense of the experience of the village fair. The sketch thus intensifies the self-consciousness of the spec tators and of their efforts to arrange their experiences into a coherent mental image.33 The glitter and promised excitement of the fairground incite the spectators as well as the Vaudevillians to look for something, although no one is quite sure 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 image and are reminiscent of Jacques Lacan’s notion that seeing a coherent mirror image of ourselves prompts us to enter into the signifying triangle of representation/domination. I suggest that what is happening to the spectators in “Looking” can be seen as analogous to Lacan’s notion. By looking at a coherent representation of themselves, the spectators are able to form a coherent mental image of themselves. Then they can take that image as a starting point from which to branch out in order to understand (or dominate) other “chaotic” events of the show. The tork of B. ‘forray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 227 The First and Second Vaudevillians look out. The Third begins to look too, then despairs. THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING. The First and Second Vaudevillian continue to look. THIRD. I DON’T SEE ANYTHING. FIRST. Impatiently YOU WON’T SEE ANYTHING IF YOU CHATTER ALL THE TIME. THIRD. BUT YOU HAVEN’T TOLD ME WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR. SECOND. YOU OUGHT TO KNOW. (B:14-15) All actions in “Looking” are initially questioned and remain ultimately unmotivated and suspended in inaction. At the fair, everyone realizes sooner or later that there is no thing to be found. As Schafer says: Here was a very special ritual--completely without a sense of striving, and promising no rewards. You wandered about amused and amazed, never sure whether you were there to be entertained or entertain ing. . . . The fair conformed perfectly to the rules of capitalism and democracy: it tossed everyone into the limelight for two minutes and charged for the thrill. (Introduction:2) The “thrill” is the satisfying climax of the village fair. This thrill is always in the air, as it were, but it never materializes. 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 critical reflection and insight, or they may per chance run into someone who reluctantly reveals to them such knowledge, as is the case with the Vaudevillians: FOURTH. DOES THE PERSON WE’RE LOOKING FOR HAVE A NAME? SECOND. OF COURSE. EVERYBODY HAS A NAME. THIRD. THEN WHAT’S THE NAME? The k1ork of B. Nurray Schafer Allegories of the Postinodern 228 The Second Vaudevillian turns away, pauses, then blurts out quickly. SECOND. WOLFMAN. (B:19) What the Vaudevillians learn, the audience learns because the former are the mirror image of the latter. But Schafer reserves the climax for the privileged few who happen to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time: They form themselves into a square, back to back and look out again. . . . The square rotates. . They continue looking. The Fourth Vaudevillian evi dently sees someone. She begins to smile, waves, blows a kiss. Then the square rotates again and she loses sight. (B:20-21, stage direction) But even this climax disintegrates because one does not know what happened and if it happened at all. The ensuing conversa tion throws the spectators back to square one, as it were, be cause, when rigorously questioned, the Fourth Vaudevillian denies having seen anything. The allegory of this editing unit thus tells the spectators that they are in the same position as the absurd Vaudevillians and that they must begin looking for the vanished Wolfman. Finally, the assemblage of the Vaudevil hans dissolves the same way as it came about; they leave one by one, just like the audience will disperse once the fair is over. “Looking” also demonstrates how the audience reaches an outsider’s perspective on their own position, namely by pre senting a mirror image to the audience. Through allegory and didacticism, the audience gradually comes to understand their own liminahity. The Work of A’. urray Schafer Allegories of the Postniodern 229 In other acts related to the absent Wolfman, Schafer provides parts of Wolfman’s story as it has hitherto emerged in the Patria cycle. For instance, in “The Characteristics Man,” a character named Rodney Livermash Bashford observes “ANOTHER WORLD--THE ONE THAT MOVES JUST AN INSTANT OUT OF PHASE WITH THIS ONE” (D:12) where he observes a production of The Charac teristics Man and provides a scene-by-scene plot summary to everyone who happens to be near him. Under another pretext, that of the “Missing Persons Bureau,” an official who amiably chats with those entering his booth gives (but occasionally also asks for) a description of Wolfman (D:16-18). Sig nificantly, it is Wolfman’s possessions or representations of him that trigger these descriptions and “stories,” while Ariadne must proffer her body parts to relate something. Not only does the opening act of The Greatest Show set the stage for the spectacle to follow, but it also initializes an allegorical discourse on gender relations. As this discourse progresses through The Greatest Show, we see how time and again Schafer assaults Ariadne and forces her--and with her the feminine--into signifying through a fragmented presence that nonetheless confirms her silence, while he permits Wolfman--and with him the masculine--to signify through absence that is still capable of speaking (of) his fate. With regard to Ariadne’s fragmented body, one should take into account the al legorical tradition that tried to dispose of the suspicious sensuality of the body by integrating it as corpse into the em blem. The Work of B. turray Schafer Aiiegories of the Postmodern 230 In his treatise on baroque allegory, Walter Benjamin points to this emblematical trait: And because the fear of demons made the suspicious corporeality appear especially confining, one ap proached as early as in the medieval ages its em blematical normalization. . . . Only when in death the spirit becomes spiritually free, does the body achieve its highest right. Because it is self- evident: the allegorization of the physique can only succeed energetically with the corpse.34 Ariadne’s body too attains its right only in death. As Ben jamin reminds us, from the perspective of death, producing the corpse is life itself, for dead matter leaves the body piece by piece in the natural processes of decay, defecation and cleans ing (194). However, Ariadne’s corpse (and what remains of it scattered through The Greatest Show) is not the result of natu ral processes but of acts of violence. Both that violence-- which recurs in various guises and is always a violence against women--and the integration of some of Ariadne’s corporeal frag ments in emblematic structures demonstrate certain aspects of the signifying process to which Ariadne must adhere in order to signify at all. For once she is able to signify as woman, but she has to pay a high price to do so: she must suffer mutila “Und weil durch die Dämonenangst die verdachtige Leiblichkeit ganz besonders bekiemmend erscheinen muf3, so ist man schon im Mittelalter radikal an ihre emblematische Be wältigung gegangen. . . . Wenn dann im Tode der Geist auf Geisterweise frei wird, so kommt auch nun der Korper erst zu seinem höchsten Recht. Denn von selbst versteht sich: die Al legorisierung der Physis kann nur an der Leiche sich energisch durchsetzen” (193, 197). The It’ork of R. furray Schafer A]]egories of the Postmodern 231 tion at the hands of male characters. Her remains speak of the violence she had to undergo to signify in the first place. At this point, let me broaden my discussion of the issues of gender and power in order to prepare for an evaluation of Schafer’s allegorical method as it emerges in The Greatest Show. The concrete violence directed against Ariadne does not permit an allegorical doubleness because the literal here is essentially mimetic: countless women in contemporary society obtain 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 as victims: murdered or mutilated or raped. Once they signify in that manner, the only issue seems to be the violence, not the circumstances that led to it in the first place. The discourse about such cases in this way often re-subordinates the victims of violence to the masculine gaze, which objectifies abused women into yet another spectacle to be scrutinized for perverse pleasure. Analogous to that pleasure--derived as much from the spectacle as from the power it has over women--is the re-sub ordination of the acts dealing with Ariadne’s body parts under male barkers who present them to the audience. Thus Schafer again restricts her power of signification as woman by reinte grating it into a structure of discourse in which man speaks for woman. Any other message she might have had is lost due to this authorized restriction that compels her to tell only one thing, namely that she was violated but not by whom or why. The Work of R. furray Schafer Allegories of the Postmodern 232 Wolfman’s absence, on the other hand, indicates a signify ing process that is based on an entirely different economy. Wolfman is able to direct allegorically the recipient