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Alterity, the divine and ethics in King Lear 2001

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A L T E R I T Y , T H E D I V I N E A N D E T H I C S I N KING LEAR b y S E A N K E V I N L A W R E N C E B . A . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f K i n g ' s C o l l e g e , 1 9 9 3 M A . , D a l h o u s i e U n i v e r s i t y , 1 9 9 4 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F P H I L O S O P H Y i n T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S ( D e p a r t m e n t o f E n g l i s h ) W e a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e r e q u i r e d st / frTdard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A A p r i l 2 0 0 1 © S e a n K e v i n L a w r e n c e , 2 0 0 1 In p resen t ing this thesis in partial fu l f i lment of the r e q u i r e m e n t s for an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e at the Univers i ty of Brit ish C o l u m b i a , I agree that t h e Library shall m a k e it f reely available fo r re fe rence and study. I further agree that p e r m i s s i o n fo r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g of this thesis fo r scholar ly p u r p o s e s may b e g ran ted by the h e a d o f m y d e p a r t m e n t o r by his o r her representat ives . It is u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n of this thesis for f inancial ga in shall not b e a l l o w e d w i t h o u t m y w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t T h e Un ivers i ty of Brit ish C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r , C a n a d a DE -6 (2/88) ABSTRACT This dissertation challenges the dominant new historicist reading of Shakespeare's plays, characterized by unspoken ethical commitments and a certainty regarding about the ubiquity of political conflict. The ethical thought of Emmanuel Levinas is deployed in order to construct an opposing reading. The dissertation also draws on the ideas of Stanley Cavell, whose work on King Lear emphasizes the need to not merely know, but 'acknowledge' others. The characters in King Lear make strong efforts to avoid ethical relations with one another. Such efforts are inspired by existential anxieties in the face of Being, and take the form of attempting to turn Others, if only intellectually, into objects of control. In the play as in Levinas's work, the ethical demands of the Other and conversely the means of appropriating him or her, are symbolized by the voice and the gaze, with the voice serving as a synecdoche for the Other as external, while the gaze is the means of appropriating the Other. The tendency of characters to understand human relations in terms of economics follows from a pervasive dehumanizing gesture. The Fool's awareness of the fictive world's economic substructure leads him only to a nihilism which corrodes his ethical motivation. Similarly, characters who attempt to escape the world by claiming independence find themselves frustrated in their attempts at suicide. The question of suicide raises questions regarding the gods whom the characters worship. I argue that these gods are in fact little more than projections of the characters' own feelings of self-worth unto the heavens. While the play, set in pagan times, does not directly incorporate a Christian revelation, it can at least stage the rejection of idols. Despite the characters' efforts to avoid each other as Other, the play does contain moments of acknowledgement. While they do not offer what one might call 'a practical ethics', or a clear guide for moral action, moments of acknowledgement do provide the grounds for an ethically engaged politics. Unlike new historicism, such a politics would be able to make a good-faith admission of its own ethical commitments. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Dedication v Acknowledgements vi Preface — New Historicism and War 1 Introduction and Methodology 15 PART 1: ANXIETY AND THE AVOIDANCE OF THE OTHER Chapter one — "The name and all th'addition to a king": Naming, Power and the Self 41 Chapter two — "When I do stare, see how the subject quakes": Images of seeing and efforts at control 69 Chapter three — "A fair deserving": Economic Reason and the Absence of Generosity I l l PART 2: FALSE EXITS Chapter four — "A bitter fool": The Failure of Folly as an Ethics 139 Chapter five — "Away, and let me die": Tragedy and the Inescapable 169 iv PART 3: FROM IDOLATRY TO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Chapter six — "Gods that we adore": T h e Divine and Narcissism 203 Chapter seven — T h e G a m e and the Stake: Free Play and the Ethica l Imperative 241 Conclusion — Ethics and Cri t ic i sm 281 W o r k s Cited 285 DEDICATION Pour Karine, avec amour. V I ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS L i k e m o s t a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s , t h e s e a r e w r i t t e n t o o l a t e , a n d t o o q u i c k l y , a n d i n a n y c a s e , u n d e r t a k e a h o p e l e s s t a s k . S o m e d e b t s c a n n o t b e r e p a i d , a n d p e r h a p s I s h o u l d n o t a t t e m p t t o d o s o . E v e n a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t i s at b e s t p a r t i a l . I w o u l d , h o w e v e r , l i k e t o n o t e t h e g e n e r o u s a n d t e n d e r s u p p o r t o f m y w i f e , K a r i n e , a n d o f m y p a r e n t s . O n e w r i t e s a l o n e , b u t o n e a l w a y s w r i t e s i n d i a l o g u e w i t h a n o t h e r . M y s u p e r v i s o r , T o n y D a w s o n , g a v e m e t h e f r e e d o m t o p u r s u e m y o w n i d e a s w h i l e k e e p i n g m e g r o u n d e d i n t h e d i s c i p l i n e s o f l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m , a n d a l w a y s d r i v i n g m e t o r e f i n e a n d c l a r i f y . T h e o t h e r m e m b e r s o f m y c o m m i t t e e , P r o f e s s o r s Y a c h n i n a n d S t a n w o o d , l i k e w i s e f o r c e d m e t o w a r d s g r e a t e r t h e o r e t i c a l a n d s c h o l a r l y r i g o u r . T h e r e i s a n i r r e d u c i b l e g e n e r o s i t y t o t e a c h i n g , i f L e v i n a s i s c o r r e c t , i n t h a t t h e m a s t e r a l w a y s b r i n g s t h e s t u d e n t m o r e t h a n h e o r s h e a l r e a d y p o s s e s s e s . I h a v e b e e n t h e r e c i p i e n t o f g e n e r o s i t y f r o m m o r e p e o p l e t h a n I c a n r e a s o n a b l y l i s t , b u t w h o s h o u l d k n o w w h o t h e y a r e . T h i s i s w r i t t e n t o y o u . Lawrence 1 Preface — New Historicism and War In an interview in the 1970s, Michel Foucault distinguished his own thought from the structuralism popular among his contemporaries. Where structuralists understood the place of the human as within language, Foucault insists that one's point of reference should not be to the great model of language (langue) and signs, but to that of war and battle. The history which bears and determines us has the form of a war rather than that of language: relations of power, not relations of meaning. (Foucault 56) Following upon the rise of New Historicism, this description has become axiomatic, even i f largely unspoken, in Renaissance literary criticism. Stephen Greenblatt credited his own fascination with history to Foucault's visit to Berkeley (Wilson 1). Foucault's influence is felt throughout Renaissance Self-Fashioning, which, as Richard Wilson points out, ends every chapter with some sort of execution or murder, "with the subject overpowered by social institutions" (Wilson 7). Most criticisms stigmatize New Historicism as totalizing. In the name of Cultural Materialism, Wilson objects to New Historicism's tendency to make the victories of the institutions of power seem inevitable. The New Historicist reading, Wilson argues, renders power totalizing, and resistance therefore futile (Wilson 9). Edward Pechter, making a somewhat more extreme criticism of New Historicism, pronounced Greenblatt a determinist (Pechter 300). Certainly in an early essay illustrative of his method, Greenblatt claims that all subversion is not only contained, but produced by the forces of authority in order to be contained: Thus the subversiveness which is genuine and radical-sufficiently disturbing so that to be suspected of such beliefs could lead to imprisonment and torture-is at the same time Lawrence 2 contained by the power it would appear to threaten. Indeed the subversiveness is the very product of that power and furthers its ends. ("Invisible Bullets" 89) A further criticism of this essay follows in chapter six; for the time being, it suffices to point out that Wilson is correct to say that Kent's pessimistic end to Shakespeare's King Lear—"All's cheerless, dark, and deadly" (5.3.289)—could be New Historicism's "favorite line" (Wilson 8). On the whole, I agree with Wilson's description of New Historicism, but argue that it is not the bleak description of the possibilities for subversion that makes New Historicism totalizing, but its exclusion of any real alterity. Jean Howard, in an essay written before the term "New Historicism" gained currency, argued that "the new history" held as one of its principal aims, "to recognize the radical otherness of the past." She contrasts in their respect for the alterity of the past, Jonas Barish, whose existentialist analysis of "the anti-theatrical prejudice" is ironically denounced as "essentialist," and Jonathan Dollimore, who "assumes that nothing exists before the human subject is created by history" (Howard 24-25). Historicism seems to contradict itself in this case, trying both to maintain "the radical otherness of the past" and the totalizing power of history, outside of which appeal is forbidden, as it were, since it is assumed ahead of time that nothing is prior to history. This premise coheres with Emmanuel Levinas's declaration that "the concept of totality [. . .] dominates Western philosophy." Within such a "totalizing" reason, he argues, Individuals are reduced to being bearers of forces that command them unbeknown to themselves. The meaning of individuals (invisible outside of the totality) is derived from the totality. (Totality and Infinity 21-22) Elsewhere he writes that even in space exploration, the western mind fails to move truly beyond, discovering only more of the same. The cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's statement that he did not find God in the heavens, Levinas writes, has a serious meaning: Lawrence 3 the new condition of existence in the weightlessness of space "without place" is still understood by the first man sent there as a here, as the same, without genuine otherness. ("Ideology and Idealism" 241) The past, understood as history, which is to say, as relations of power, soon reveals itself to be familiar. Cultural Materialism claims to have escaped the dead-end of New Historicism, by making a "return to history" (Wilson 12). Knowing that people are "killed and mutilated" for control of meaning, however, does not break with history in the sense used by Foucault, as having "the form of a war." Cultural materialism allows a struggle over "live issues," but only because the condition of being immersed within warfare (perhaps diminished to politics, but without losing its agonistic character) incorporates both the present political situation, and the past political situation. In this case, terms like "power relations" or "authority and transgression" furnish what Pechter calls "a universal knowledge, good for all concrete situations" (Pechter 297). If the existentialists failed to escape "essentialism" by examining fundamental features of the human as such, then the New Historicists have certainly failed, uncovering only a new "defining human essence" in Nietzsche's "will to power" (Pechter 301). In doing so, they render Goneril correct, in seeing all human relations as power relations. Whether we are to follow the relatively structuralist readings of Greenblatt's Cultural Poetics, or the more overtly political critiques furnished by Cultural Materialism, all remains "cheerless, dark, and deadly," because neither school of criticism has broken with Foucault's premise that the situation of man is one of war. Pechter puts this nicely in saying that "whether the new historicism looks like a good or a bad kind of criticism will depend on whether or not we share its underlying intuition." He summarizes this intuition, not by quoting Foucault on power, but more acidly by saying that Lawrence 4 "It's a jungle out there" is a cliche, but the thing about cliches (or proverbs, or topoi) is that they express a common belief. But is this cliche the totality of legitimate belief, or even the dominant belief? (Pechter 301) The first and most obvious explanation for why a large number of critics have embraced this implicit assumption is precisely that it does indeed express "a common belief." Perhaps this is also the reason for the wide diffusion of Foucault's ideas throughout the humanities and social sciences while Paul Ricoeur's works, for instance, have not enjoyed nearly so wide a readership. The assumption that "It's a jungle out there" saves us the embarassing exigency of trying to talk about things like love or generosity, and therefore of being suspected of some sort of romanticism. It also saves us from facing threats to our own mastery over the text, from facing words and scenes that are not easily incorporated within a rather cynical view of the world. In an appalling example, for instance, Jonathan Dollimore manages to write a fifteen-page discussion of the radicality of Lear without even broaching the scene of Lear's reconciliation to Cordelia (Pechter 299). Surely if anything would break out of the universalizing notions of New Historicism (broadly defined, in this case), it would be a scene where something is not exchanged in what Greenblatt terms "a subtle network of trades and trade-offs" (Greenblatt Negotiations 7). New Historicism makes great claims to be recognizing "the radical alterity of the past," but ultimately only values the past as a confirmation of the universality of power relations, into which nothing else is allowed to intrude. Pechter ends his article by noting, correctly, that "New-historicist criticism is a criticism of recognition, of knowing again what one knew before" (Pechter 302). "I began this work," writes Greenblatt in the first line of his book Shakespearean Negotiations, "with the desire to speak with the dead" (Greenblatt Negotiations 1). Over the course of the opening essay, Greenblatt becomes, or at least claims to become, disabused of this Lawrence 5 nostalgic longing. Reading "The Circulation of Social Energy," in fact, one has the impression of witnessing a man losing his faith. While recognizing that "the literary traces of the dead" are able to "convey lost life," Greenblatt insists that there is no return through these traces to the dead individual as an interlocutor. Instead, language provides the illusion of life because it incorporates "social energy": The "life" that literary works seem to possess long after both the death of the author and the death of the culture for which the author wrote is the historical consequence, however transformed and refashioned, of the social energy initially encoded in those works. (Greenblatt Negotiations 6) Because language is a collective creation-indeed, "the supreme instance of a collective creation" (Greenblatt Negotiations 4)—it does not allow access to the dead person with whom Greenblatt desires to speak. Greenblatt claims to oppose the notion of a "totalizing society" just as he opposes the notion of a "total artist." "By a totalizing society," he writes, "I mean one that posits an occult network linking all human, natural, and cosmic powers and that claims on behalf of its ruling elite a privileged place in this network" (Greenblatt Negotiations 2). Nevertheless, the criticism which he both proposes and practices achieves the status of a totalizing system, not by virtue of its rigour or consistency, but by virtue of excluding all that stands against it as Other. Greenblatt is quite explicit in avoiding any clear definition of the "circulation" which he describes and deploys. By the time that he wrote Shakespearean Negotiations, he had partly abandoned the Foucauldian fascination with power (Greenblatt Negotiations 2-3), and resists any other description which would raise the spectre of a "a single coherent, totalizing system" (Greenblatt Negotiations 19). Instead, he prefers to describe his object in a list: What then is the social energy that is being circulated? Power, charisma, sexual excitement, collective dreams, wonder, desire, anxiety, religious awe, free-floating Lawrence 6 intensities of experience: in a sense the question is absurd, for everything produced by the society can circulate unless it is deliberately excluded from circulation. Under such circumstances, there can be no single method, no overall picture, no exhaustive and definitive cultural poetics. (Greenblatt Negotiations 19) While this plurality does, as Greenblatt claims, exclude the possibility of any single, coherent theoretical framework, its open-endedness is the source of its totalizing power. Greenblatt's approach is totalizing because, despite its refusal to be rigorous, it nevertheless excludes or appropriates all alternatives. Last among the "certain abjurations" which frame Greenblatt's approach are the declarations that "There can be no art without social energy," and that "There can be no spontaneous generation of social energy." Talking about anything else to do with art just becomes a roundabout way of talking about social energy, without which art cannot exist. Theories of mimesis, for instance, do not constitute a route of escape, since "mimesis is always accompanied by-indeed is always produced by-negotiation and exchange" (Greenblatt Negotiations 12). Leaving aside the elision in logic by which Greenblatt implies that the undeniable fact that mimesis takes place within networks of social energy means that it is created by these networks, that it is not only in but also of social forces, one will note that this argument effectively rules out of bounds any appeal beyond the system. Greenblatt evades the need to define social energy, and therefore opens himself to criticism based on his definition, by claiming that "the question is absurd" since anything can circulate. In fact, to follow the logical elision just cited, everything is created by circulation. Greenblatt can therefore recognize that Shakespeare makes choices in his treatment of the traditional story of Lear ("in none of them, so far as I know, does Cordelia die in Lear's arms" [Greenblatt Negotiations, 17]), while continuing to deny the existence of individuals as anything more than "themselves the products of collective exchange" (Greenblatt Negotiations 12). It is little wonder, then, that Greenblatt abandons his Lawrence 7 desire to speak with the dead, at least insofar as the dead are understood as "other." Instead, he conflates both self and other into products of the circulation of social energy: I had dreamed of speaking with the dead, and even now I do not abandon this dream. But the mistake was to imagine that I would hear a single voice, the voice of the other. If I wanted to hear the voice of the other, I had to hear my own voice. The speech of the dead, like my own speech, is not private property. (Greenblatt Negotiations 20) New Historicism frankly excludes the voice of the Other as alterior, in favour of a set of anonymous competitions and exchanges, and therefore not only justifies accusations that it is totalizing, but also fails the aspiration which first gave it life. One would think that feminist deployments of New Historicism would be overtly ethical, i f any deployments would be. The classical materialist feminist reading of King Lear offered by Kathleen McLuskie, however, avoids overt engagement in ethical issues. McLuskie situates her work in terms of an earlier generation of feminist critics, and criticizes them for presenting "feminism as a set of social attitudes rather than as a project for fundamental social change" (McLuskie 90). Against such "judgement" of the text, McLuskie wishes to shift attention towards "analysing the process by which the action presents itself to be judged" (McLuskie 95). The text limits our responses to it, she argues. The final scene of Lear's suffering, for instance, elicits sympathy even from a critic who would not endorse "the patriarchal relations" which the scene is, McLuskie alleges, reinforcing. Siding with Goneril and Regan against Lear is not a very real possibility (McLuskie 102). Rather than finding another reading within the text, McLuskie wishes to resist the text itself, with its alleged reactionary politics. This resistance is to be accomplished by making a text reveal the conditions in which a particular ideology of femininity functions and by both revealing and subverting the hold which such an ideology has for Lawrence 8 readers both female and male. (McLuskie 106) Such a reading would reveal the contradictions of the ideology which created the text, as well as of the text itself (McLuskie 104). Such a move towards the material and ideological is overtly opposed to the text's "moral imperatives": "In the case of King Lear the text is tied to misogynist meaning only i f it is reconstructed with its emotional power and its moral imperatives intact" (McLuskie 103). In a discussion of love and the so-called love test of the opening scene, McLuskie argues that Lear's view of love follows from an ideology which draws a "connection between loving harmony and economic justice." Cordelia responds with a "contractual model," against this "patriarchal model" (McLuskie 104). Lear's ideology hinges upon a model of "family organisation which denies economic autonomy in the name of transcendent values of love and filial piety" (McLuskie 105). The burden of McLuskie's criticism would therefore be to deny the "transcendent value" of love and moral issues as part of a general process of demystification. Within McLuskie's argument, ethics appears only as ideology. Two major criticisms could be levelled at McLuskie's argument: first, it shows a tendency to confuse Lear's voice with the play's. For instance, she accepts Lear's claim that Cordelia's defiance is "tantamount to the destruction of nature itself," while, as I will show in chapter six, Lear's appeals to gods and nature are only the index of his narcissism. More seriously, McLuskie seems to believe that merely to reveal an appropriation of ethics to the service of a particular political ideology would be tantamount to contradicting that ideology. It is just as logical to conclude, however, that uncovering difficulties in a patriarchal ideology could simply lead to a more rigorous patriarchalism, or at least to one with fewer illusions about itself. Clearly, McLuskie's argument has a strong ethical motivation; unfortunately, its logic leads her to question any sort of moral given as such, thereby rendering her argument incoherent. An ethical statement that ethics is false collapses into what I will call, with reference to the Fool, Lawrence 9 "the liar's paradox." Levinas noted this contradiction in a criticism of Althusser, where he claims that the move towards questioning Kantian morality, with its strong reliance on reason, proceeds from "a prophetic cry, scarcely discourse; a voice that cries out in the wilderness; the rebellion of Marx and some Marxists, before Marxist science!" Unfortunately, as he further notes at the beginning of his essay, the "least suspicion of ideology delivers to morality the most severe blow it has sustained." The suspicion of reason, arising from a rebellion against "the increasing spiritual miseries of the industrial era" also rums against the ethical imperative that first demanded it. "Ethics becomes the first victim of the struggle against ideology that it inspired" ("Ideology and Idealism" 237-38). The Fool, as I will argue in chapter four, shows a clear awareness of the economic and ideological foundations of his society, but such awareness, i f it is not to decline into mere cynicism, must be supplemented by the sort of "moral imperative" towards justice or equity or the Good which McLuskie rejects. In an interview with Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida claimed that philosophy in the twentieth century was marked by the fact that Martin Heidegger had, in displacing the nineteenth-century subject, recalled the essential ontological fragility of the ethical, juridical, and political foundations of democracy and of every discourse that one can oppose to national socialism in all its forms. ("Eating Well" 104) I am not, of course, suggesting that New Historicist critics are National Socialists or sympathize in any way with their goals. I am, however, suggesting that a simple return to the axioms of liberal morality-as developed profoundly in R. W. Chambers's 1939 essay on King Lear, for instance-is no longer much of an alternative, but we should not simply celebrate their destruction either. The events of the 1930s and 1940s should have made it painfully obvious that the revolutionary is not simply identifiable with the Good. Materialist and New Historicist critics, I Lawrence 10 suggest, are naive to believe that by revealing structures of belief and ideology as a ruse hiding the operations of power, they are working towards social improvement. They might, on the contrary, merely be further destroying what would stand in the way of national socialism, or of all the less vitriolic political expressions of will to power and Darwinian competition. A third possibility must be found, other than atheoretical moralizing, or a mere destruction of the grounds of such moralizing. Historicism, in claiming that nothing exists outside history, understood exclusively as the arena of power, forbids itself returning to such a ground. Only on the basis of a prior ethical commitment (or, Levinas would insist, an imperative) can such clear- sighted analysis of the political system realize itself in social betterment, rather than empowering a manipulation of power towards selfish ends. It seems vital, if we are to escape the dead-end of a sterile recognition of the operations of power, to return to the prior question of ethics. Levinas begins his magnum opus, Totality and Infinity by declaring that "everyone will agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality." He continues to argue that "being reveals itself as war to philosophical thought": The art of foreseeing war and of winning it by every means-politics-is henceforth enjoined as the very exercise of reason. Politics is opposed to morality, as philosophy to naivete. (Totality and Infinity 21) Had he substituted "theory" for "philosophy" in the last sentence, Levinas would be strangely prescient in describing the presuppositions of Renaissance criticism in the early twenty-first century. It should be noted, however, that these words are not even a response to Foucault, much less a reaction to historicism. Totality and Infinity was first published in 1961, some time before Foucault claims to have "properly isolated" the "central problem of power" (Foucault 55). In any case, Levinas was already an active member of the Parisian philosophical scene, at least Lawrence 11 since having introduced phenomenology into France with a 1929 article on Edmund Husserl, and had been developing the project that came to fruition in Totality and Infinity since being released from internment at the end of the second world war. Levinas's work, in other words, is not a reaction to Foucault or to his various followers at all. Much less is it reactionary. Rather than being simply ignorant of Foucault's turn towards power, Levinas seems here to anticipate it, finding the origins of such a move in the philosophy of Heidegger, and rejecting it. His philosophy is an attempt, by a person to whom the question was profoundly serious, to address the problem of ethics in the wake of Heidegger and of National Socialism, and to think morality outside of a history understood only as power and war. Historicism and materialism both threaten, by virtue of their fascination with ideology, to exclude the ethical motivation which gave them birth, abandoning the desire to speak with the Other. The goal of the present dissertation is not to reject historicism, or the political and social commitments which gave it birth, but to make it admit the goals that it is serving, and save it from falling into paradox, or worse. To be political, to speak of politics and the play of power, even when diminished from war to social energy, is not, in itself, to be ethical. There can be an amoral, or even immoral, politics. On the other hand, however, there is no reason why a politics cannot be informed by ethics. It would therefore be given a stake outside its own game. In the last chapter, I will outline some reasons why a return to politics is necessary for ethics. I began with the ambitious aim of relating the ethics of a few of Shakespeare's history plays to religious concerns current in his time. But I have only sketched a prolegomenon towards such a project, though I remain interested in the relation between the problems posed on Shakespeare's stage, and the religious thought which informs them. I hope, nevertheless, that the following analysis King Lear in terms of Levinas's philosophy will open some alternatives to the dominant understanding of the world as "a jungle out there," and will allow a reading of Lawrence 12 religion in Shakespeare not only in terms of power and ideology, but also in terms of ethical problems which have a reality not exhausted by their imbrication within the operations of power. This project was not as simple as it at first seemed: as a totalizing discourse, that of power has a limitless ability to explain new phenomena in its own terms. Part of the strength of New Historicism has come from its ability to appropriate other discourses, of anthropology, gender relations, psychology, and so forth, in order to extend the discourse of power, explaining what would seem to stand against it in its own terms, or even explaining it away. Thus, an act of generosity can become an act of homage, a cultural ceremony, a symbol of gender relations, a subconscious act of hatred, or any number of many other things, as long as it is not an act of generosity itself, which would constitute a rupture in a history "which has the form of a war." Even Debora Shuger does not quite succeed in breaking free of this totality. She insists that "Religion is, first of all, not simply politics in disguise, a set of beliefs that represent and legitimate the social order by grounding it in the Absolute" (Shuger 6). However, in explicating what she calls "habits of thought," she draws heavily on Dollimore's definition of ideology, as "the very terms in which we perceive the world, almost-and the Kantian emphasis is important here-the condition and grounds of consciousness i tself (Shuger 8-9; Dollimore 9). Dollimore's definition does not open the possibility for a definition of ideology "not confined to the production and maintenance of power," as Shuger argues, since ideology merely serves to subsume religion into politics. The marvelous utility of this term "ideology" is that it allows all other discourses to be treated as part of a political struggle, which becomes, as it were, free- floating, without any stake outside its own apparently groundless game. The "habits of thought" that Shuger finds in Renaissance thought could just be understood as prior socialization, ideological constructs serving specific interests, tools deployed to extend one's power over one's environment, or something else. They do not stand against a totalizing view of the world as Lawrence 13 politics. My goal is not to criticize Shuger, whose work on religious thought is certainly not ultimately a work on politics; nor is she promulgating a theory of literature so much as presenting a richly detailed description of some important English Renaissance assumptions and debates. I am, however, suggesting that part of what makes resistance to the New Historicism necessary is, ironically, its seemingly bottomless ability to appropriate other theoretical structures. Merely to offer alternatives, therefore, is not enough. Pechter admits that his own proposal-"love makes the world go round"-can no longer be seriously considered: it trails clouds of Wordsworthian diction, of something far more deeply interfused, or worse, of Tennysonian sentiment, of the hope that something good will be the final goal of ill. (Pechter 301) A recourse to this sort of alternative would be no more effective than attempting to return to much of the criticism of the 1940s, with its already discredited assumptions and methods. What is at stake in this reading is not only our ability to see the past in terms other than those proposed by the New Historicism, but also our ability to escape an all-encompassing politics, that recognizes no authority outside itself. Levinas noted in a radio interview that it is unfortunate that politics has "its own justification" outside ethics ("Ethics and Politics" 292), and can therefore cut itself off from ethics. What is at stake in a Levinasian reading is the ability to move beyond politics, to what can provide its motive, its ground, and its stake. Lawrence 14 Lawrence 15 Introduction and Methodology A . C. Bradley's remarkably divided view of King Lear begins a dialectic that continues to the present day. He is forthright in acknowledging the darkness of the play, quoting Swinburne at length on the subject (Bradley 276-77), and declaring that "this is certainly the most terrible picture that Shakespeare painted of the world" (Bradley 272). This leads him to deny the importance of theology to criticism of the work. Revelation is specifically excluded: "Nor do I mean that King Lear contains a revelation of righteous omnipotence or heavenly harmony, or even a promise of the reconciliation of mystery and justice" (Bradley 278-79). Nevertheless, when discussing the character of Lear himself, Bradley suggests that we would be near the truth i f we called this poem The Redemption of King Lear, and declared that the business of "the gods" with him was neither to torment him, nor to teach him a "noble anger," but to lead him to attain through apparently hopeless failure the very end and aim of life. (Bradley 285) The reading of the play which Bradley favours implies Lear's realization of "the common humanity" beneath "the differences of rank and raiment" and his awareness that "all things in the world are vanity except love" (Bradley 285). The redemption, in other words, is strictly secular and substitutes "humanity" or "love" for God, as the object of revelation. It might not be too harsh to claim that Bradley's reading reconciles a godless and pessimistic world-view with a redemptive message, in a humanism which, like the nineteenth century "religion of humanity" (Davies 28-32), reverses the incarnation by turning man into God. I do not begin the task of locating my own work vis-a-vis twentieth-century criticism with a summary of Bradley's reading in order to treat him as a sort of scapegoat by way of Lawrence 16 justifying my own reading as less naive. On the contrary, Bradley's reading is theoretically and critically sophisticated, drawing on a famously difficult philosopher to inform and shape a complex and subtle argument. Specifically, his dialectic between Lear as both redemptive and so secular as to exclude "omnipotence" is mostly Hegelian. In his lecture on "Hegel's Theory of Tragedy," Bradley offers a series of "supplements" to his own paraphrase of Hegel's theory. For Bradley, Hegel's view of tragedy describes a conflict between "powers rightfully good in themselves" (for instance, family and state, or love and honour), which make exclusive and competing claims upon the ethical substance of the character. Bradley objects to the famous philosopher, however, arguing that Hegel's "language almost suggests that our feeling at the close of the conflict is, or should be, one of complete reconciliation. This it surely neither is nor can be" ("Hegel's" 83). Specifically, Hegel's "reconciliation" does not include the sense of elation which accompanies tragedy and which Bradley describes as "A rush of passionate admiration, and a glory in the greatness of the soul" ("Hegel's" 84). While no redemption comes from above, it is worked out by the sufferer himself. The final object of veneration in tragedy is the human. It is a measure of the strength of Bradley's reading that its dialectic, between a reading of the play as The Redemption of King Lear and as the depiction of a world in which no omnipotence enters, also characterizes Lear criticism in the twentieth century as a whole. This is not to say that the conflict between readers of Lear as a "Christian tragedy" and a nihilistic tragedy achieves a reconciliation of thesis and antithesis in a new synthesis. It is, rather, open- ended and widely productive. The trend towards making King Lear a Christian tragedy, according to G. R. Hibbard's survey of twentieth-century criticism, seems to have reached a dominant position in the mid- century. Irving Ribner claimed that the play "affirms justice in the world, which it sees as a harmonious system ruled by a benevolent God" (Hibbard 9). Kenneth Muir linked such claims Lawrence 17 with a theme of resurrection: "The old Lear died in the storm. The new Lear is bom in the scene in which he is reunited with Cordelia. [. ..] He is resurrected as a fully human being" (xlix). If not quite indulging in claims of resurrection, a number of critics at least consider the suffering of Lear and Gloucester to be redemptive. "The gods," writes G. I. Duthie, "in benignity, permit Lear and Gloucester to die in a state of spiritual health" (Brooke 74). Variations on the theme of redemption continue in criticism almost to the present day. Cherrell Guilfoyle, in "The Redemption of King Lear," a 1989 article clearly influenced by Bradley, defends Edgar's exhortation to "Look up, my lord," on the grounds that "Cordelia is on her way to heaven" (Guilfoyle 65). Similarly, Stephen J. Lynch in 1986 declares that "the military victory of the old play is transformed by Shakespeare into a more profound form of spiritual triumph" (Lynch 171). The suffering of King Lear is acknowledged by such readings, of course, but it is always explained, and therefore contained, on the grounds that it leads to spiritual redemption, rebirth, or education. What I find inadequate about this sort of Christian reading is that it is so easily adapted to humanism. In questioning what I call a "humanist" reading, I am not simply hoping to revive what some critics like to call "Christian humanism" against what others might term "secular humanism." Instead, I wish to avoid what might be called the "super-Pelagian" aspirations of the nineteenth century "religion of humanity," a replacement of Christianity by an elevated estimate of the importance of man, who works his own redemption. If God represents radical alterity, then this effort banishes the Other in favour of a universalized, totalizing "man." Muir claims that Shakespeare goes back to a pre-Christian world and builds up from the nature of man himself, and not from revealed religion, those same moral and religious ideas that were being undermined. (1) Lawrence 18 The result may be the same-"those same moral and religious ideas" are once again proclaimed-but revelation is frankly excluded. Since revelation was itself (we assume) central to the "religious ideas" which Muir describes as being undermined in Shakespeare's time, its simultaneous restoration and rigorous exclusion strains comprehension. Knight declares that the characters bear their suffering "with an ever deeper insight into their own nature and the hidden purposes of existence" (Knight 196) and that "love" is revealed in the play to be "the sole ground of a genuinely self-affirming life and energy" (Knight 118). Knight and Muir remain upholders of a reading of the play as Christian tragedy, though one can see how their interpretations, relying on ideas of love or existence, could also be attractive to critics with no such commitment. D. G. James is just such a critic, for he declares not only that "there is no crumb of Christian comfort in" the play, but also that certain of the characters remain completely altruistic and that Lear emerges a changed man (Hibbard 7). There is redemption in this reading, but no Christianity. To Stephen Greenblatt, "the forlorn hope of an impossible redemption persists" in our secular age, though it is now "drained of its institutional and doctrinal significance, empty and vain" ("Exorcists" 121). It is back to this post-Christian redemption that humanist critics harken nostalgically. One can only agree with Nicholas Brooke, who claimed in a pugnacious 1964 article that metaphysics had "faded from respected philosophical academies: and here we have the spectacle of the literary critics metaphysicking for all they are worth" (Brooke 86). After discrediting the theological reading, secular critics nevertheless return to a Christian metaphysics, simply stripped of its religious overtones. We might summarize the last fifty years by saying that an effort to justify the play as presenting Christian doctrines slowly declines into what Harry Levin refers to as "a sort of lay religion" (Hibbard 3). The result, as Brooke quite rightly noted, is a secular reading implicitly reliant on Christian metaphysics; inversely, an understanding of the play as Christian has come to depend upon the prior acceptance of a Lawrence 19 metaphysics that can easily be secularized and is, in any case, already discredited. To argue that the play is Christian is usually to argue that the God who governs the play is active and benevolent, and that this benevolence is demonstrated by the redemption, resurrection or at least education of Lear or one of the other characters. The ways of God-even a fictive God, or in the secular reading, Shakespeare-must be justified to man. Is there a reading of Lear which is grounded in the Christian context from which it arose, but which does not rely upon humanism? This thesis attempts to undertake such a reading. The difficulty is not that of justifying God to man; on the contrary, the central problem of Lear is the angst most characteristic of Luther and the whole Reformation era: how can man be justified to God? In such a reading, the divine functions not as a transcendent endorsement of man, as in Christian humanism, but as a radical Other to man, and therefore a challenge to man's conceit. Such a reversal of what we may, in the context of Lear criticism this century, term a traditional Christian reading is not without precursors. In a brilliant article heavily influenced by the radical theology of Rudolf Bultmann, Rene E. Fortin points out that it is not at all presumed in the mainstream of Christian orthodoxy that God will intervene on call for his faithful; nowhere is a God of sweetness and light promised to man on this earth. (Fortin 118) On the contrary, the play may be seen as an effort to "demythologize Christianity, to reassert the hiddenness of God against the presumptuous pieties and shallow rationalism of the Edgars and Albanys of the world" (Fortin 121). No study of the play is obligated to define theology starting from Feuerbach's declaration that "homo homini deus est" (Davies 28). As I will show in chapter four, it is precisely such a projection of the aspirations and hopes of men to a transcendent plane which is demolished by the play's so-called atheism, but this need not lead us to a nihilist reading of the play. Lawrence 20 In contradistinction to humanist readings, the past fifty years have seen a number of readings that Jasper Neel labels "nihilist" (Neel 192-93). Hibbard notes "a crucial shift taking place around 1960," but the nihilist reading is considerably older. Swinburne claimed that "Requital, redemption, amends, equity, explanation, pity and mercy, are words without a meaning" (Bradley 277) in this play. Nevertheless, nihilism seems to have begun displacing redemptionism as the dominant reading shortly after 1960. In a powerful and widely influential essay, Jan Kott compares King Lear to various works of twentieth-century drama. If the play strips away layers of meaning and pretence, "the onion is peeled to the very last, to the suffering 'nothing'" (Kott 157). To the nihilistic reading, the play intimates the "nothingness" of human existence. The nihilistic reading can mount a strong prima facie case, especially vis-a-vis the traditional Christian or secular humanist reading. Shakespeare makes a number of changes from the play's sources. Nahum Tate was not the first person to write a happy-ending Lear. The older and anonymous play from which Shakespeare was working also ended happily, as do the accounts of Lear in Holinshed's Chronicles, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and A Mirror for Magistrates. The difference must have been especially unsettling to the first audience, unaware that the play would violate their expectations of seeing divine justice triumphant (Lynch 170). Shakespeare's play moves away from what Howard Felperin calls a "morality vision of sacred unity" (Felperin 98). Cherrell Guilfoyle notes a formal resemblance to the mystery plays, but this leads her to propose that Lear is "an antithetical Lucifer play, with the wrong people being cast out of heaven" (Guilfoyle 52). One of Shakespeare's largest changes consists in transposing the play to pagan times (Lynch 161) and while Muir can argue that it shows "pagan characters groping their way towards" (li) some intimation of Christianity, the "pagans on stage," as Brooke writes, "give no hint of the ultimate benignity of the gods" (Brooke 74). According to Kott, the Lawrence 21 irony of characters calling upon gods who never intervene becomes greater and greater as the play unfolds (Kott 158). In Gloucester's fall, an absurd mechanism takes the place of the divine (Kott 133). If he learns anything, it is the lesson of "an overtly Active theodicy" contrived by Edgar (Keefer 153). Even Bradley, that well of self-contradiction, claims that Shakespeare's mind is "expressed in the bitter contrast between [the characters'] faith and the events we witness" (Bradley 274). The dreadful ending, in every sense of the word, which Johnson could not bring himself to re-read, would have struck the original audience as a shock, just as it surprises and baffles the on-stage characters and defies the expectations of those familiar with its sources and analogues, or perhaps even misled by the comic conventions which appear to govern the play (Snyder 140). It is this ending which forms the most important piece of evidence exploited by nihilist critics. Kott notes that while, in most tragedies and histories, some Malcolm or Fortinbras comes along to reestablish order, such a device is conspicuous by its absence in King Lear, where "the world is not healed again" (Kott 152). We may be beguiled into thinking of Lear's reawakening at the end of act four as a resurrection, produced by Divine Love working through Cordelia, but we are left at the end of the play not with a resurrection, but with the dead Lear slumped across his daughter's corpse (Keefer 168). Until the entrance of Lear bearing the dead Cordelia, order is being more or less restored by Albany and Edgar. This scene of order restored is displaced by the suffering of the innocent, by Lear's madness and fury, and by his terrible, unanswerable question: "Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, / And thou no breath at all?" (5.3.305-06). Greenblatt's claim that redemption has been "drained of its institutional and doctrinal significance, empty and vain" ("Exorcists" 121) points towards the major argument for the nihilistic reading, that there is no divinely-sanctioned order in the world of the play. Critics who subscribe to this view reject Kenneth Myrick's declaration that, to the original audience, Lawrence 22 unbelievable elements in the plot were "quiet but solemn reminders of a divine order" (Neel 189) or G. Wilson Knight's contention that "Nature [. . .] though subject to disorder, was essentially ordered, and it was ordered for the good of man" (Knight 86-87). Knight also argues that "Man's morality, his idealism, his justice-all are false and rotten to the core" (Knight 192). The nihilistic argument consists in using the latter of Knight's observations to destroy the former. Nicholas Brooke declares that the progression of the last two acts continually sets ideas of poetical justice, the avenging gods, against the perceptions of experience, "and has not only made it impossible to retain any concept of an ordered universe, but also promoted the reflection that any system of order results in very strange notions of justice" (Brooke 85). If there is order behind the suffering of the characters, it produces Edgar's claim that the gods "of our pleasant vices / Make instruments to plague us" (5.3.169-70), the effect of which, according to Brooke "must be a rejection of these gods" (Brooke 83). Kott claims that even an appeal to malevolent gods is an attempt "to justify suffering" (Kott 159). Needless to say, he also dismisses such appeals as bootless. Gloucester's suicide is farcical because "it only has meaning if the gods exist" (Kott 149). In fact, Kott claims that "King Lear makes a tragic mockery of all eschatologies: of the heaven promised on earth, and the Heaven promised after death; in fact, of Christian and secular theodicies" (Kott 147). Not only does this claim denounce the traditional Christian interpretation, it also points the way towards a different theological reading of the play. Fortin observes that "if the absence of visible supernatural intervention is to be the cudgel to beat down Christian interpretations-or Christian interpreters-one had better take a second look at the traditional beliefs of Christianity" (Fortin 118). Kott's easy elision between "the heaven promised on earth, and the Heaven promised after death" shows that he regards the "eschatologies" as fundamentally related to the order of the world, rather than as, in Bultmann's understanding of the term, promising "a cosmic catastrophe which will do away with all Lawrence 23 conditions of the present world as it is" (Bultmann "Jesus" 104). As long as God is seen as the source and ground of a social or political order, his abolition becomes an act of ideological subversion, kicking out the prop on which some humanisms are built. Conversely, however, a lack of justice in the world implies a lack of eschatologies only if such eschatologies are assumed to be transcendent but artificial endorsements of the world's justice. Against this reading of eschatology, Levinas proposes an eschatology which he understands, perhaps following Bultmann, as "a relation with being beyond the totality or beyond history." It is outside what is captured within the totalizing thought of war, which he anticipates before Foucault and rejects. Such an eschatology allows a victory of morality over the reality of war, with its prima facie apparentness: Morality will oppose politics in history and will have gone beyond the functions of prudence or the canons of the beautiful to proclaim itself unconditional and universal when the eschatology of messianic peace will have come to superpose [superimpose?] itself upon the ontology of war. (Totality and Infinity 22) Nor surprisingly, he adds that "philosophers distrust" such an eschatology. So might the skeptical reader, especially given the overtly religious overtones of "messianic peace." Nevertheless, Levinas insists that his use of the term eschatology is different from the usual deployment in religion and theology. He contrasts his use of the term to that which is teleological: "It does not introduce a teleological system into the totality; it does not consist in teaching the orientation of history" (Totality and Infinity 22). It does, on the contrary, indicate a radical alternative to the history which is war: "peace does not take place in the objective history disclosed by war, as the end of that war or as the end of history" (Totality and Infinity 24). To overcome this history, Levinas claims, it is necessary to posit something which overflows the "totality," which can be neither explained nor contained by it. The eschatological, Levinas Lawrence 24 protests, is not merely a matter of faith or opinion (Totality and Infinity 24-25), since he finds "such a situation" of excessiveness in "the gleam of exteriority or transcendence in the face of the Other" (Totality and Infinity 24). Infinity, he claims, is "found in the relationship of the same with the other" (Totality and Infinity 26). This relationship does not take place outside history and experience: "It is reflected within the totality and history, within experience" (Totality and Infinity 23). Rather than representing a mystical escape from the situation of the world and history, transcendence in Levinas is a relationship within the world, but not explained, much less explained away, in the terms with which we habitually understand history. It is not, in other words, ultimately a defense of the world as we know it, finding in higher powers or infinitely distant rewards a compensation for our own suffering and ressentiment. Nor, I might add, does it simply surrender to the totality of history, to the view that "The history which bears and determines us has the form of a war" (Foucault 56). Rather, it submits "history as a whole" to judgement, and not on the basis of success or by way of an historical dialectic, in which a final victory will eventually come about at the end of history. Levinas refers to Hegelian historicism, but he might just as easily refer to its Marxist inverse (Totality and Infinity 23). Instead of sketching a teleology, the eschatological recalls that the "True," the undeniable horror of war, is not the same thing as the "Good" (Totality and Infinity 24). This eschatology escapes Kott's criticism that the play makes a tragic mockery of both earthly and transcendent heavens; instead of representing a reward for Gloucester's suffering, it represents the possibility of not accepting a "cheerless, dark and deadly" world as inevitable. I think that Levinas's philosophy offers a new solution to the question posed by King Lear which has vexed the twentieth century: Is the play fundamentally about the meaninglessness of the world, or the justice of the world? The nihilists would hold that the Lear world is fundamentally meaningless, showing only suffering and pain, and ultimately cynical Lawrence 25 even about its own gods. New historicism seems, by and large, to align itself with this group, at least insofar as Wilson may be right in saying that Kent's dreary conclusion to the play could be the New Historicists' "favourite line" (Wilson 8), or that they take their cue from the bleak view of a world dominated by the anonymous play of power from Michel Foucault. The alternative view, of a world governed by a benevolent Providence, or of an optimistic assessment of man's nature and abilities, has been long ago discredited, and, in any case, depends on constructions of the human which are themselves discredited. A third possibility arises, however, in Levinas's trenchant defense of the claims of ethics in spite of the apparent ubiquity of politics. It is not merely a matter of whether the plays represent a world governed by Christian or humanistic morality, but whether the relations between the characters can be exhaustively described within the circulation of power, cash, the sign or whatever. The relationship with the Other can be understood, and is depicted as excessive to such systems, overflowing totalizing ideas. From this perspective, it becomes possible to think beyond the economy, to ask what gives the game its stake. While Levinas's ideas offer provocative ways of reading King Lear, they also pose some challenges of their own. To begin with, Levinas is extremely critical of aesthetics. In an early essay entitled "Reality and Its Shadow," he makes the extraordinary claim that in art the world to be built is replaced by the essential completion of its shadow. This is not the disinterestedness of contemplation but of irresponsibility. The poet exiles himself from the city. From this point of view, the value of beauty is relative. There is something wicked and egoist and cowardly in artistic enjoyment. There are times when one can be ashamed of it, as of feasting during a plague. ("Reality and its Shadow" 142) Robert Eaglestone uses this essay to argue that Levinas's antipathy to art "is such that it simply prevents any direct attempt to apply his work to the aesthetic, or to the interpretation of works of Lawrence 26 art" (Eaglestone 99). However, Levinas's antipathy is directed only towards a narrow definition of the artwork, characterized by its completion, whereby "it does not give itself out as the beginning of a dialogue" ("Reality and its Shadow" 131). The artist critiques himself, Levinas argues, as "a part of the public" not as an artist ("Reality and its Shadow" 131). Similarly, self- critical art avoids what Levinas does not hesitate to label the idolatrous aspects of the artwork: Modem art, disparaged for its intellectualism (which, none the less goes back to Shakespeare, the Moliere of Don Juan, Goethe, Dostoyevsky) certainly manifests a more and more clear awareness of this fundamental insufficiency of artistic idolatry. ("Reality and its Shadow" 143) In fact, Levinas's entire essay is better understood not as a criticism of art, but of its "hypertrophy" in the work of Martin Heidegger and the romantics, as Eaglestone recognizes (Eaglestone 110); moreover, its overt purpose is not to criticize the aesthetic, but to champion the role of the critic alongside that of the artist. Levinas opens his essay by claiming that, in traditional understandings of art "criticism seems to lead a parasitic life" ("Reality and its Shadow" 130), but closes by claiming that his observations on the failure of art to become engaged in the world is only "true for art separated from the criticism that integrates the inhuman work of the artist into the human world" and calling for a "philosophical criticism" ("Reality and its Shadow" 142). Rather than rendering an application of Levinas's ideas to artwork impossible, therefore, "Reality and Its Shadow" actually calls for engagement in the work of criticism. In the course of delivering Levinas's funeral oration, Jacques Derrida quoted Levinas's introduction to his first book, which introduced phenomenology into France: "The fact that in France phenomenology is not a doctrine known to everyone has been a constant problem in the writing of this book" ("Adieu" 8). Levinas's work is not known to everyone in North America, either. Although I cannot claim anything like Levinas's achievement, his position as a relatively Lawrence 27 unknown thinker among Shakespeare critics demands some sort of introduction. My project, as a result, may perhaps be best understood as a reading of Levinasian texts in parallel with King Lear, allowing the two texts, if not quite to deconstruct each other, at least to exchange examples and explications. This exchange is facilitated by two things: first, Levinas often has Shakespearean and other literary texts in mind while writing his own works, citing them as examples or illustrations; and secondly, he engages, originally and provocatively, with many of the critical notions which have migrated from continental philosophy to Shakespeare criticism in recent years. "It sometimes seems to me," he writes in Time and the Other, "that the whole of philosophy is only a meditation of Shakespeare" (Time and the Other 72).' The second " o f seems usefully vague, allowing that all philosophy could be an act of Shakespeare criticism or, conversely, that "Shakespeare" might itself be able to meditate on all philosophy. The Shakespearean text is in any case not limited to non-philosophical questions, or to serving as illustrative material for the history of ideas. While I have gone to some efforts to show that the ideas I find in King Lear were available to the Jacobeans, I have nevertheless not been rigorously historicist in my hermeneutics. The argument does not start with research into or assumptions about Shakespeare's own time, its prejudices and beliefs, and work outwards to the ideas which might, therefore, be expressed by the play. On the contrary, I have tried to approach the text more or less as one might approach a philosophical text, critically and with my own philosophical commitments, of course, but not fundamentally as illustrative of a historical moment, nor as something which I must resist, as a hostile otherness. Like any sort of Other, the text can frustrate, challenge, and escape my grasp, but that is precisely what makes engagement with it so rewarding. UlMais il me semble parfois que toute la philosophie n 'est qu 'une meditation de Shakespeare" (Le Temps et VAutre 60). Lawrence 28 I have therefore aimed to read Levinas and Shakespeare in parallel. While my own reading of King Lear has been influenced by Levinas, conversely my reading of Levinas has been influenced by my own position as a Shakespeare critic. The arbitrariness of Levinas's choice of sight and hearing, to indicate two distinct and opposed phenomenologies, seems particularly clear in light of some of the metaphors used by characters in the play, as the end of chapter two shows. Similarly, the possibility that one might acknowledge others in moments, rather than once and forever, is suggested by the rather uneven course of the characters' progress and Lear's inconsistent lurches from boasting about his own powers to mourning his daughter and back again in the final scene. Finally, the possibility of an exclusive society consisting of only two people and founded on the exclusion of others, which Levinas treats in only a cursory manner, is suggested by Lear's vision of "we two alone" in prison. The organization of this thesis follows from the need to explicate Levinas's ideas, as well as from the internal logic of an argument about the position of ethics in King Lear. Since most readers cannot be expected to be already conversant with Levinas's philosophy, it is imperative first to sketch Levinas's ideas, and then to demonstrate their purchase on the text, before moving to the conclusions in chapters six and seven, which argue for a new reading of the play's religious notions and for the need to establish an ethical ground for politics and political readings of this play. The remainder of this introduction begins the task of introducing Levinas. The first chapter, on naming, power, identity, and their anxieties, uses Levinas's theory of selfhood to establish the existential issues of selfhood at stake in the characters' treatments of one another, especially Lear's treatment of his daughters. Chapter two pursues the same subject at somewhat greater depth, analysing the so-called "sight imagery" of the play in order to show its basis in anxieties regarding control, which lead to efforts to know rather than to acknowledge and to an avoidance of the faces of others. Both chapters two and three contrast Levinas's view Lawrence 29 of language, as an exposure of oneself to and for an Other, with that of Derrida, who sees language in largely anonymous terms. Chapter two looks at problems of knowledge, and of subjecting the object or the Other to one's control by appropriation, while chapter three looks at economies, and how human relations tend to be expressed in terms of reciprocal exchanges, generally avoiding anything incommensurable with such exchanges. The fourth chapter, on the Fool, shows that a demystification of social relations does not itself amount to ethical analysis. The Fool's philosophy, instead of leading to social change or ethical behaviour, leads only to an evasion of the Other, who is treated not as a person, but as an artwork. The question of the ontological status of the artwork, its lack of freedom and inability to present a face, leads to chapter five, on tragedy and the surprising difficulty which a number of characters have in committing suicide. Levinas's ideas concur with early modern religious thought in rejecting suicide as an overreliance on the self. Rather than escaping one's own being, one is freed only by responsibility to the Other. Not only suicide, but also idolatry, offers a false exit. A number of characters apostrophize idols who take the place of the Other, allowing the worshippers only a circular relationship with themselves as the idols' creators. Chapter six, focussed on questions of idolatry and the play's religion, provides a junction between the false escapes from Being through folly, suicide or idolatry, and the true transcendence of the Other, understood as god or man. This chapter revisits the critique of New Historicism, showing that the atheism which this critical school finds in the play is no more than the rejection of gods which a sixteenth-century audience would recognize as false. Atheism opens the route to a more rigorous theistic reading, in which the Divine is understood not as a social projection but as radical alterity. The destruction of the idols opens the way to an acknowledgement of the Other, a possibility realized in the seventh and last chapter. On the basis of an examination of the relationship between Lear and Cordelia in the final scenes, this last chapter asks questions of Lawrence 30 how a state or society can be constituted on the basis of responsibility rather than of placing limits on warfare. It seems easiest to begin the introduction to Levinas's ideas with an image, the image of the night. The horror of the night, to Levinas, is not merely a horror of death or of not-being, but of indeterminacy. In conscious opposition to Heidegger, according to whom anxiety is always a response to nothingness, Levinas proposes a "horror of being and not anxiety over nothingness, fear of being and not fear for being" (Existence and Existents 62). Levinas follows Henri Bergson in not believing in the possibility of pure nothingness (Existence and Existents 63). He describes the night by presenting a thought experiment: Let us imagine all things, beings and persons, returning to nothingness. [. . .] [W]hat of this nothingness itself? Something would happen, i f only night and the silence of nothingness (Existence and Existents 57). He proceeds to define "This impersonal, anonymous, yet inextinguishable 'consummation of being'" as the "there is"2 (Existence and Existents 57, his italics). The impossibility of a vacuum is not reassuring, since it means that being has "no exits," that it is a sort of prison, resembling Sartre's Hell in being impossible to leave (Existence and Existents 62-63). For Levinas, what is truly terrifying is not horror in the face of nothingness, but the inescapable, indeterminate being which remains "behind" nothingness: "Being is essentially alien and strikes against us. We undergo its suffocating embrace like the night, but it does not respond to us" (Existence and Existents 23). In the original French text of De I'Existence a I'Existant,3 he declares that "77 est 2Some translators prefer to leave Levinas's "there is" in the original French, as "Uy a." 3The original title, unlike the translation, indicates a movement from Being in general ("/ 'existence"), which would be anonymous, to an individual being (/ 'existant), capable of Lawrence 31 le mal d'etre" which Alphonso Lingis has chosen to translate as "a pain in Being." As John Caruana argues, however, this passage can equally refer to "the evil of Being" (Caruana 36). Levinas identifies this "return of presence in negation, this impossibility of escaping from an anonymous and uncorruptible [sic] existence" as "the final depths of Shakespearean tragedy" (Existence and Existents 61). The night is not merely the absence of light, nor any other sort of lack or deficiency which would imply nothingness, but the inescapable presence of being; moreover, "what characterizes pure being, above all, is its complete absence of determinacy" (Caruana 35). Levinas uses the image of insomnia to describe an awareness of the anonymity of Being. Sleep, by contrast, is a limiting of the disorientation and excessiveness of the anonymous night: "In lying down, in curling up in a corner to sleep, we abandon ourselves to a place; qua base it becomes our refuge" (Existence and Existents 70). Where the night is indeterminate, the process of sleep provides a place, thereby limiting and defining the excessiveness of Being. In Levinas's Existence and Existents, as in Shakespeare's King Lear, sleep is a cure to the anguish of vigilance: Our foster-nurse of nature is repose, The which he lacks; that to provoke in him, Wi l l close the eye of anguish. (4.4.12-15) Throughout the play, in fact, sleep is presented as a process of healing. In act three, Kent claims that Lear might be cured were he allowed to sleep (3.6.95-98). If Lear's madness is symbolized by the indeterminate world of the storm, obscuring the stars and confusing earth and sky, then its potential cure is abandonment to a specific and determined base-sleep. Unfortunately Lear, like many of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, is an insomniac. According to Levinas, insomnia is an bearing a name. Lawrence 32 inability to give oneself a place and a home within the anonymous stirrings of Being: The impossibility of rending the invading, inevitable, and anonymous rustling of existence manifests itself particularly in certain times when sleep evades our appeal. One watches on when there is nothing to watch and despite the absence of any reason for remaining watchful (Existence and Existents 65). For Levinas, sleep is an escape, a resting of the endless play of Being. According to Levinas, the act of sleeping, choosing a place, is the genesis of consciousness: "Consciousness comes out of rest, out of a position, out of this unique relationship with a place" (Existence and Existents 70). He later specifies that consciousness is to be taken as concurrent with subjectivity: "Through taking position in the anonymous there is a subject is affirmed" (Existence and Existents 81). The creation of a subject, in turn, allows the world to be enjoyed sensually: "The world offers the bountifulness of terrestrial nourishment to our intentions -including those of Rabelais; the world where youth is happy and restless with desire is the world itself (Existence and Existents 39). Consciousness allows for a world that can be enjoyed. When Lear does, briefly, manage to rest, he falls asleep breathing the words "We'll go to supper i'th'morning" (3.6.82). The parallel between Lear's words and Ecclesiastes 10.16 implies sensual enjoyment, or even hedonism: "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!" (KJV). Only in exceptional circumstances, "When one has to eat, drink and warm oneself in order not to die, when nourishment becomes fuel, as in certain kinds of hard labor" (Existence and Existents 45), such as that in which Levinas was engaged while writing Existence and Existents, is the function of consciousness, reducing the world to things which exist for our enjoyment, defeated. When Lear is able to choose a place to rest, the world ceases to be an elemental, indeterminate scene of storm and chaos, and becomes a L a w r e n c e 3 3 s o u r c e o f p l e a s u r e . I f a c h i e v i n g s u b j e c t i v i t y o v e r a n d a g a i n s t t h e e l e m e n t a l w o u l d b e t a n t a m o u n t t o a c u r e f o r L e a r ' s m a d n e s s , t h e n L e a r i s w e l l o n h i s w a y t o r e c o v e r y w h e n h i s r e s t i s d i s t u r b e d o n c e a g a i n b y t h e n e e d t o f l e e . T h e s u b j e c t , h o w e v e r , i s u n a b l e t o f u l l y a s s u r e i t s e l f a g a i n s t t h e r e t u r n o f t h e n i g h t , a c c o r d i n g t o L e v i n a s . T h e v i c t o r y o v e r a n o n y m o u s b e i n g w h i c h s l e e p r e p r e s e n t s i s a l w a y s c o n t i n g e n t : " W e m u s t n o t f a i l t o r e c o g n i z e t h e e v e n t i n s l e e p , b u t w e m u s t n o t i c e t h a t i n t o t h i s e v e n t i t s f a i l u r e i s a l r e a d y w r i t t e n " (Existence and Existents 8 3 ) . T h e r e a s o n f o r t h i s f a i l u r e i s s i m p l y t h a t " t h e a c t o f t a k i n g p o s i t i o n d o e s n o t t r a n s c e n d i t s e l f (Existence and Existents 8 1 ) . W h i l e o v e r c o m i n g t h e a n o n y m i t y o f t h e there is, t h e s u b j e c t d o e s n o t e s c a p e i t s o w n b e i n g ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , i t a s s u m e s i t s o w n b e i n g a s a b u r d e n (Existence and Existents 7 8 ) . L e v i n a s c h a r a c t e r i z e s i n d o l e n c e (Existence and Existents 2 6 ) a n d f a t i g u e (Existence and Existents 3 0 ) as t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f t h i s b u r d e n : " T o b e w e a r y i s t o b e w e a r y o f b e i n g " (Existence and Existents 3 5 ) . T h e f r e e d o m o f t h e s u b j e c t " f i n d s i t s e l f t o b e a s o l i t u d e , i n t h e d e f i n i t i v e n e s s o f t h e b o n d w i t h w h i c h t h e e g o i s c h a i n e d t o i t s s e l f (Existence and Existents 8 4 ) . S i n c e n o t h i n g n e s s i s i m p o s s i b l e , i t i s b e y o n d t h e s u b j e c t ' s p o w e r t o f r e e i t s e l f f r o m i t s o w n b e i n g : " T h e e g o r e t u r n s i n e l u c t a b l y t o i t s e l f ; i t c a n f o r g e t i t s e l f i n s l e e p , b u t t h e r e w i l l b e a r e a w a k e n i n g " (Existence and Existents 7 8 ) . T o k i l l o r t o d i e i s t o a t t e m p t t o e s c a p e b e i n g , " t o g o w h e r e f r e e d o m a n d n e g a t i o n o p e r a t e " (Existence and Existents 6 1 ) . S u i c i d e s a r e f r u s t r a t e d i n t h e p l a y . T h e g r e a t e s t h o r r o r o f t h e t r a g e d y i s r e a l i z e d w h e n d e a t h d o e s n o t a l l o w e s c a p e . T h e n i g h t i s i n e s c a p a b l e , b e c a u s e e f f o r t s t o b r i n g i t u n d e r c o n t r o l a r e m e r e l y a f u r t h e r e x t e n s i o n o f t h e s u b j e c t ' s g r a s p , n o t a m o v e m e n t t o t r u e a l t e r i t y . K n o w l e d g e r e d u c e s i t s o b j e c t t o i t s g r a s p ( " E t h i c s a s F i r s t P h i l o s o p h y " 7 6 ) , b u t t h i s p r o c e s s r o b s s u c h o b j e c t s o f t h e i r a l t e r i t y . I n s e e k i n g n e w w o r l d s t o c o n q u e r , t h e s u b j e c t m e r e l y e x p a n d s t h e h o r i z o n s o f i t s a c c u s t o m e d w a y o f r e d u c i n g t h e w o r l d t o i ts o b j e c t . A n d s u b j e c t i v i t y , a s L e v i n a s m a k e s c l e a r , i s n o t a t r u e Lawrence 34 escape from the anonymity of being. Like the moonscape in Levinas's "Ideology and Idealism" the night stretches out before one as a world of being without human traces, where subjectivity has lost its place in the middle of a mental landscape that one may compare to that which presented itself to the first astronauts who set foot on the moon, where the earth itself appeared as a dehumanized star. ("Ideology and Idealism" 240) In the moonscape of Levinas's essay, or the blasted heath of Shakespeare's King Lear, the subject cannot escape the night by any act of mastery or any expression of power. That which the subject most requires is not more power, but something other than a further extension of the same. The approach of the Other constitutes "the event of the most radical breakup of the very categories of the ego, for it is for me to be somewhere else than my self; it is to be pardoned, to not be a definite existence" (Existence and Existents 85). A less anxious selfhood begins with an address from an Other. Responsibility for another makes one unique ("Diachrony and Representation" 108), and therefore frees from the anonymity of the night. True escape from the night of anonymous, indeterminate being is achieved only in the face of another. Levinas goes so far as to claim that ethics is prior to ontology. Many times throughout his career, Levinas makes the point that "To be or not to be" is not the ultimate question. Gloucester cries in his frustration "Is wretchedness depriv'd of that benefit / To end itself by death?" (4.6.61-2). The self is incapable of reaching alterity by its own efforts, not even by ceasing to be; even death is not truly an escape. The Other provides the only true freedom from the night. The proximity of Levinas's ideas to Stanley Cavell's theory of "acknowledgement" provides a further opportunity to describe Levinas's thought, by way of distinguishing it. This is not, of course, to imply a causal link between the two men. In his work on Lear, Cavell makes Lawrence 35 only a handful of references to any continental philosophers after Nietzsche, and most of these citations are parenthetical or in footnotes. Two thinkers, working out of very different traditions, have nevertheless arrived at similar ideas. Cavell's reading is therefore something of a reassurance that I am not just projecting my own interest in the relation with the Other onto the play. The problem for the characters in the play, according to Cavell, resembles that of the audience, failing to, or fleeing from, acknowledging the Other. His work has been taken over and expanded by Harry Berger, who, however, has a somewhat different reading of acknowledgement. In any case, these two critics are probably the closest of any Lear critics to Levinas in their ideas, and it is with their readings that I will be engaged most closely. For Cavell, the ethical problem of the character follows from what we may recognize as the dramatic character's similitude to Levinas's Other, from the fact that literary characters are like other people. Neither the character nor the Other are chosen by the self. "Even if I kill the other or chase the other away in order to be safe from the intrusion," Adriaan Peperzak writes, "nothing will ever be the same as before" (Peperzak 20). Cavell says something very similar when he observes that not to respond to someone is still to respond: Some persons sometimes are capable of certain blindnesses or deafnesses toward others; but, for example, avoidance of the presence of others is not blindness or deafness to their claim upon us; it is as conclusive an acknowledgement that they are present as murdering them would be.4 (Cavell 103) In Levinas as in Cavell, the artwork (in Cavell's case, the theatre) always carries the risk of releasing us from our ethical burden, even as it imposes such a burden. Cavell argues that theatrical tragedy may find its purpose in confronting us with tragedy to which we do not have to 4Here and throughout this dissertation, citations to Cavell by name are to Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare. His other works are cited by their titles. Lawrence 36 respond (Cavell 103). If tragedy frees us from the obligation to respond, conversely turning the other person into a literary character is the ultimate avoidance, since it frees us of the responsibility to respond to him or her: There is fictional existence with a vengeance, and there is the theatricality which theater such as King Lear must overcome, is meant to overcome, shows the tragedy in failing to overcome. (Cavell 104) Lear should awaken us, if Cavell is correct, to the need to draw the artwork into an ethical discourse. Levinas talks about a similar imperative: "the immobile statue has to be put in movement and made to speak" ("Reality and its Shadow" 142). To fail to acknowledge has political consequences, which Cavell explores in an affecting conclusion that has as much bearing on the Vietnam war as on King Lear. To both thinkers, our relation to the artwork should, ideally, involve ethics. According to Cavell, our failure to acknowledge another creates fictionality itself: "Then he is indeed a fictitious creature, a figment of my imagination, like all the other people in my life whom I find I have failed to know, have known wrong". (Cavell 108) Cavell builds his argument about Lear toward a theoretical crux: why is drama passive, for the audience? The answer "Because it is an aesthetic context" is no answer, partly because no one knows what an aesthetic context is, partly because, if it means anything, a factor of its meaning is "a context in which I am to do nothing"; which is the trouble. (Cavell 91) Why, in other words, do we not intervene in the events we are witnessing, warning Lear in the opening scene, for instance? Does the fact that we are not present to the characters free us of allowing them to be present to us, "acknowledging" them, to use one of Cavell's favourite terms? "Am I," he asks rhetorically, "to remember that I am not responsible for these people up there?" Lawrence 37 (Cavell 90). Our liabilities in responding to characters, he argues, are precisely those we find in responding to real people: "rejection, brutality, sentimentality, indifference, the relief and the terror in finding courage, the ironies of human wishes" (Cavell 89). This does not mean, of course, that we should moralize, which would be to reduce the characters to objects in a moral lesson. We should, on the contrary, allow the characters to challenge our sense of the ordinary. This, Cavell claims, is the effect of the first scene, and its claim "to be called philosophical" (Cavell 87-88). Levinas similarly calls for a "philosophical criticism" which would "have to introduce the perspective of the relation with the other" ("Reality and its Shadow" 143). Cavell is seeking to go beyond the mere sentimentality of romanticism or dismissiveness of materialism towards a criticism in which the work neither invites us into an irresponsible dream, nor serves as the object of our powers, but challenges us ethically. The great theme of Cavell's essay (indeed, an important theme of his career) is the avoidance of acknowledgement, both by the characters who avoid acknowledging each other and by the audience who avoid acknowledging the stage. Cordelia's death, as Johnson also noted, "is so shocking that we would avoid it if we could" (Cavell 68). Having sketched some of the similarities between Levinas's and Cavell's ideas, I should also note some of the differences. Cavell, unlike Levinas, tends to lionize the idea of presence, claiming that tragedy provides "an experience of continuous presentness" (Cavell 93). To Levinas, on the other hand, presence is always a matter of making present, of one's grasp and power (Time and the Other 72), and is therefore the opposite of the ethical response to the Other. Berger, who acknowledges his debt to Cavell, paraphrases him in saying that "to acknowledge others, to respond to their claims, is to make others present to me" (Berger xi). He then proceeds, however, to quote Cavell himself, saying the opposite, "there is no acknowledgement [. . .] unless we put ourselves in their presence, reveal ourselves to them" (Berger xi). Is Lawrence 38 acknowledgement, then, an experience of vulnerability, acknowledging the other as Other, or is it ultimately self-referential? Cavell tries to reconcile these possibilities when he writes that there path from my location to his. (We could also say: There is no distance between us, as there is none between me and a figure in my dream, and none, or no one, between me and my image in a mirror). We do, however, occupy the same time. (Cavell 105) In his choice of metaphors, at least, Cavell's logic is the opposite of Levinas's, to whom the non- coincidence of self and Other is the beginning of all temporal difference. Moreover, earlier in the same work, Cavell argues that "self-recognition is, phenomenologically, a form of insight" and that moreover, it has a "necessity in recognizing others" (Cavell 46). For Cavell, recognition of the Other is secondary to self-recognition, though he is not insistent on this principle. To deny the realism of the abdication scene, he argues, "suggests a careful ignorance of the quick routes taken in one's own rages and jealousies and brutalities" (Cavell 87). To recognize it, in other words, is to recognize something in oneself. To summarize, I would suggest that Levinas can provide an extension to Cavell, providing a model for acknowledgement that does not begin with the primacy of the ego, or end in the appropriation of the Other as an aspect of oneself. What I find valuable in Cavell's work, in other words, is the idea of acknowledgement as acknowledgement of an Other, of the alterity of somebody else. My appropriation of Cavell's ideas is therefore somewhat different from that of Berger, to whom acknowledgement is almost always acknowledgement of one's own guilt. Textuality, according to Berger, offers "the opportunity to struggle against the temptation to use or reduce or praise or blame" the character (Berger 68), and in suffering "with and for Lear" we "acknowledge [. . .] his otherness as a person." Nevertheless, the primary definition which Berger accords to Cavell's title Disowning Knowledge is refusing "to acknowledge something within yourself you sense and fear, a fear you fear to confront and try to keep unknown" (Berger xii). Disowning knowledge is always to Lawrence 39 disown a part of oneself. Conversely, to acknowledge is to recognize something within oneself. Seeing evil in others, even in fictional characters, is subversive because it might lead us to recognize the evil within ourselves (Berger 52). Berger separates two more or less subconscious motivations in Lear and Gloucester. The "darker purpose" consists in attacks against others, justified on the grounds of one's status as a victim. The "darkest purpose," on the other hand, is "an impulse to aggression against oneself that responds to feelings of guilt or remorse" (Berger 51). While the "darker purpose" may betray an allergic relation to other people, the further motivation removes even this dubious level of social interaction. Other people matter, in Berger's reading, insofar as they become factors within the self. Lear dies in order to protect himself against the guilt of allowing Cordelia to die (Berger 48), not in sorrow that she is dead. Berger avoids the radicality of the Other as Other by melting the individual Other into a linguistic community. He credits C. L. Barber with making him recognize that unless the ironist was capable of a minimal level of sympathy for and generosity toward the fictional objects of his criticism, he could not hope to respond adequately to the human claims the characters in the plays make on him. (Berger 50-51) Such sympathy, however, must be directed towards "characters within the context of their community" (Berger 51). Discourse for Berger is not, as it is for Levinas, a communication with someone who is completely Other ("Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite" 106). On the contrary, the linguistic community creates each of the characters and allows him or her to communicate with another (Berger 53). In reading, as opposed to performance, the overall language which subsumes each of the characters becomes apparent, whereas in performance the character "confronts us directly with individuals who 'own' their speeches" (Berger 54). His preference for reading over viewing plays tends to diminish the effect of characters as directly Lawrence 40 confronting us, in favour of a status as products of a linguistic system (Berger xviii). As a result, the Other becomes dissipated in society, and society becomes a source of "social resources available to self-deception" (Berger 26). Berger does not broach the possibility that there might be worse things than failing the Socratic command to know oneself. I wish to propose, following Levinas, that respect for, and responsibility towards the Other is more important than self- awareness. Lawrence 41 PART 1: ANXIETY AND T H E AVOIDANCE OF T H E O T H E R Chapter one — "The name and all th'addition to a king": Naming , Power and the Self Levinas understands the self as a contingent victory over the anonymity of being. Despite the uncertainty of this victory, it is nevertheless an accomplishment, achieved, according to Levinas, in an instant (Existence and Existents 18; Time and the Other 52). "Mastery," as Caruana summarizes Levinas's position, "is not a given" (Caruana 35). On the contrary, it is specifically achieved by the act of naming oneself, which Levinas refers to as "hypostasis," borrowing a term from theology to indicate "the event by which the act expressed by a verb became a being designated by a substantive" (Existence and Existents 82). Elsewhere, he writes that the hypostasis "is still a pure event that must be expressed by a verb; and nonetheless there is a sort of molting in this existing, already a something, already an existent" (Time and the Other 52). Before Gloucester's sons fight their the final duel, the herald challenges Edgar with the words "What are you?" not only asking for his name but also demanding that he prove his substantiality, "your quality" (5.3.118-19). No doubt this question is informed by concerns of class; certainly that is how Edgar understands it when he replies that he is "noble as the adversary /1 come to cope" (5.3.122-23). Nevertheless, such questions of class are secondary to the more fundamental "fact that there is not only, anonymously, being in general, but there are beings capable of bearing names" (Existence and Existents 98). Edgar's assumption of the name of poor Tom is more than the adoption of a disguise. It is also an assurance of his own individuality against the anonymity of existence: "Poor Turlygod! poor Tom! / That's something yet: Edgar I nothing am" (2.3.20-21). As poor Tom, Edgar is still Lawrence 42 "something" individuated against the anonymity of being; as Edgar, he's "nothing." If a thing is defined by its differentiation from other things, then Edgar's nothingness is not a pure void, but a failure to delimit himself, an inability to hold the anonymity of the night at bay. In fact, were he to maintain his role as Edgar he would literally cease to be-he would be killed. "Let him fly far," says Gloucester, not without reason (2.1.55). While Edgar is "nothing," poor Tom's "something" implies a certain individuation in the night. After his social role as Edgar has collapsed, leaving him alone and defenceless, Edgar adopts a more theatrically overt role, giving himself a delimited identity over and against the suffocating embrace of being. Stanley Cavell has argued that even when naked, Edgar does not become "unaccomodated man" (Cavell 56). It must be emphasized that according to Levinas, the self is only a contingent victory over the night of being, and remains accompanied by anxiety. In constituting its selfhood, the self becomes enchained to itself (Totality and Infinity 55). The only true route to redemption lies through the Other: "The true object of hope is the Messiah, or salvation" (Existence and Existents 91). This salvation, however, must come from without. "It can only come from elsewhere, while everything in the subject is here" (Existence and Existents 93). For this reason, an Other who is reincorporated as part of the self does not stand over and against the self, and is unable to save the self from the horror of anonymous existence. Recognizing the Other as part of oneself does not always imply her or his acceptance, as Berger and to a lesser extent Cavell seem to believe. On the contrary, it may simply serve as a means to deny the claim of the Other as Other. It would be wrong to state that Lear has no isolated self. What he lacks is not selfhood, but an Other than self, which is not immediately assimilated to it. As a result, he is unable to establish anything but a contingent victory over the night. If the self stands over and against the Other, then, as Regan observes, "he hath ever but slenderly known himself (1.1.292-93). Similarly, Goneril accuses the knights of failing to be men "Which know themselves" (1.4.249). Lawrence 43 Those who treat the world as a locus of enjoyment and consumption do not measure themselves vis-a-vis any Other. Their self-awareness is grounded in no more than an act of will. In a very real sense, they do not "know themselves." In another sense, however, Lear does know himself. Knowledge will discussed more fully in chapter two; for now, it must suffice to say that knowing an object renders it capable of at least an intellectual assimilation by the self ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 76). Lear confuses other people with elements of himself, treating Cordelia as "his wrath" (1.1.121). Conversely, he several times refers to himself in the third person, trying to treat himself as other. In doing so, he makes elements of himself into objects which can be controlled, commanded and perhaps reincorporated. Lear resembles Edmund, who controls his body well enough to wound himself in order to "beget opinion / Of my more fierce endeavour" (2.1.33-34). One might compare the dynamic of Goneril's declaration with Lear's declaration that Goneril is "a disease that's in my flesh, / Which I must needs call mine" (2.4.220-21). To Lear, the daughters are both his flesh, and therefore himself, and also objects to be manipulated, worked over and controlled. Gloucester nicely conflates the distinction when he tells Lear that "Our flesh and blood, my Lord, is grown so vile, / That it doth hate what gets it." In Poor Tom's immediately following line, "Poor Tom's a-cold" (3.4.142-44), the speaker refers to his own pain in the third person. Susan Snyder notes that "Edgar is prolific in inventing fiends who objectify Poor Tom's condition" (Snyder 176n59). His hunger is personified as Hoppedance, for instance, who "cries in Tom's belly for two white herring" (3.6.30-31). It would not be unfair to consider this a motif, exaggerated in Tom, but spread across many characters, by which elements of the self are objectified in order to be better controlled.5 In fact, Lear and Edgar conspire in their self- 5For this reason, one might prefer the uncorrected quarto text rendition of one of Goneril's lines, "My foote vsurps my body" (4.2.28), since in this version of the line, she turns Lawrence 44 punishment. Lear identifies with Tom, or rather identifies Tom with himself, then considers Tom's self-mutilation "Judicious punishment" against the flesh that bears "pelican daughters" (3.4.73-74). Lear does not objectify elements of himself in order to accept or respect them, but in order better to control them. When he treats himself as other, he merely demonstrates that all others are reincorporated into his self. According to the Fool, Lear is, like Edgar, "nothing," even more insubstantial than the figure "O": "now thou art an O without a figure. I am better then thou art now; I am a Fool, thou art nothing" (1.4.190-91). Alfred W. Crosby claims that to the early moderns "the terrible zero, a sign for what was not, was as conceptually discomforting as the idea of a vacuum" (Crosby 113). A zero is a signifier without a signified, but it nevertheless grants a certain substantiality to nothing by naming it, rendering it usable in equations, for instance. Leonard and Thomas Digges, in an introduction to military engineering, neatly summarized the paradox: "The Ciphra O augmentefh places, but of himselfe signifieth not" (Digges sig. Cii). Crosby notes that Shakespeare was able to use it in The Winter's Tale as a metaphor for multiplying generosity, in Polixenes's speech to Leontes: And therefore, like a cipher (Yet standing in rich place), I multiply With one "We thank you" many thousands moe That go before it. (Winter's Tale 1.2.6-9) On the other hand, Angelo in Measure for Measure, uses the term to describe becoming a her husband into a part of her own body and then treats that part as an object. The corrected copies render the line as " A fool usurps my bed," though it seems that every early text renders the line slightly differently, with the folio giving "My Foole vsurps my body," and the second and third quartos giving "My foote vsurps my head." Lawrence 45 nothing, but one still signified, still augmenting the place of something else, but meaning nothing in himself: Mine were the very cipher of a function, To fine the faults whose fine stands in record, And let go by the actor. (Measure 2.2.39-41) To punish only the fault, which is already "condemn'd ere it be done" (Measure 2.2.38) and not the sinner, would render his position similar to that of a zero, multiplying condemnation without contributing anything substantial. Like an "O without a figure," Lear lacks even a name, an arbitrary signifier, to make him seem substantial. In his divestiture, he has already given up his power to multiply others. Although the Fool would "rather be any kind o'thing than a fool" (1.4.181-83), he would not wish to be Lear. A fool is at least a thing, albeit the worst kind. Lear, on the other hand, is "nothing." In the same scene, the Fool claims that "I'd keepe my coxcombs myself (1.4.106-07). In fact, his coxcomb is his self, or at least, wearing it provides him with a role. Bearing his coxcomb is an act of signification which is also a substantive. In fact, "a fool, simpleton" is the second definition of "coxcomb" in the Oxford English Dictionary, which also cites two uses of this metonym by Shakespeare. By putting on his coxcomb the Fool gives himself an identity, just as Edgar gives himself an identity by adopting the name and role of poor Tom. Edmund Blunden claims that after speaking his last line, the Fool should "tls itake off his coxcombe for the last time" (3.6.83n). Though this line exists only in the folio text, and should not be given too much importance, one can only agree that i f the Fool were to remove his coxcomb, which provides his role and identity, he would be preparing to disappear. The fool, because he enjoys the identity of a fool, is able to endure until his mysterious disappearance without suffering the madness and crisis of Lear himself. Lear, however, has lost exactly what he sought to retain: Lawrence 46 "the name and all th'addition to a king". (1.1.135) According to Levinas, hypostasis is the beginning of "the preeminence, the mastery and the virility of the substantive" (Existence and Existents 98). The substantive, the bearing of a name, allows for power and mastery: "The existent is master of existing. It exerts on its existence the virile power of the subject. It has something in its power" (Time and the Other 54). To name oneself is the first power, and the beginning of all other powers. Edgar seems to find this experience of power in self-creation addictive. "The bedlam disguise does more than cover Edgar," observes Susan Snyder, "it possesses him in some way. He elaborates his persona far beyond what is required for concealment" (Snyder 149). In fact, Edgar's metadramatics, his "sullen and assumed humor of T O M of Bedlam" raise him to the Q l title-page, a place he shares with no other character except Lear himself. Pretending to be someone else is fundamental to who he is, or, more fundamentally, to his individual being over and against Being in general. Edgar relentlessly spins off new disguises.6 Not only does he assume the name of poor Tom, but also he pretends to be a "most poor man, made tame to Fortune's blows" for the benefit of Gloucester (4.6.219), and a Dover peasant for the benefit of Oswald a few lines later. Commenting on Edgar's transformations, A . C. Bradley asks rhetorically, is it not extraordinary that, after Gloster's attempted suicide, Edgar should first talk to him in the language of a gentleman, then to Oswald in his presence in broad peasant dialect, then again to Gloster in gentle language, and yet that Gloster should not manifest the least surprise? (Bradley 257) The levels of disguise are complicated, as Susan Snyder points out, by the fact that Edgar has adopted what Bradley calls "gentle language" before casting off his role as poor Tom, and "that 6One is tempted, in fact, to place the name 'Edgar' between inverted commas, since it takes its place among other of his personas, like 'Tom o'Bedlam'. Lawrence 47 the exaggerated fiend is yet another disguise imposed retroactively" (Snyder 150). In fact, none of these disguises are really necessary, though the "broad peasant dialect" is most strikingly gratuitous. Adopting a new identity does, however, augment Edgar's sense of his power and virility immediately before fighting Oswald. Other of Edgar's disguises are not only superfluous, but also probably counter-productive. Surely revealing his identity as Edgar would give his letter to Albany greater weight than presenting himself as a peasant and messenger (5.1.38). By fighting Edmund in disguise, Edgar provides a perfect opportunity for Edmund to avoid the duel altogether. Luckily for the plot, Edmund fights him anyway (5.3.140-44). Again, Edgar's self- presentation as an anonymous knight has no practical purpose. It does, however, once again allow him to experience the sense of power arising from self-naming immediately before combat, as well as allowing him to cap his victory over Edmund with a show-stopping revelation for the audience on-stage and possibly off, who forget all about Lear and Cordelia. "Great thing of us forgot," indeed (5.3.235). This is not, of course, the only occasion when Edgar's disguises give him power over the audience. The answer to Bradley's question above is that nobody in the audience cares about Gloucester's reaction or is even watching it. The actor playing Edgar provides a distraction. His transformation covers up its own unlikelihood by its very theatricality. To complete this list of pointless disguises with the most obvious, there's no good reason why Edgar should maintain his disguise before Gloucester for the duration of the play, leading only to his father's heart attack. Stanley Cavell ascribes Edgar's stubborn disguise to his guilt, to the fact that he knows that he failed "to confront his father, to trust his love" and that he therefore became "as responsible for his father's blinding as his father is" (Cavell 56). This argument is certainly reconcilable to Levinas's theories, as is Cavell's work generally. Avoiding recognition, a major theme in Cavell's work, is Edgar's reason for failing to reveal himself to his father. Rather than being defined by the gaze of another, Edgar avoids recognition and strives Lawrence 48 instead to produce his own identity out of himself. He condemns himself by his very effort to avoid condemnation. Edgar is not the only character who gains a sense of power by assuming a disguise. Kent names himself, oddly using the second person, as he begins his mission of helping Lear: "Now, banish'd Kent, / If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemn'd, / So may it come, thy master, whom thou lov'st, / Shall find thee full of labours." He "raz'd my likeness" in order to be able to achieve "my good intent" (1.4.1-7). By controlling his own self-in fact, constructing his own self-Kent gains power. Like Edgar, Kent chooses a new identity immediately before fighting Oswald. In speaking with the Gentleman in the storm, Kent ratifies his word by specifying that "I am a gentleman of blood and breeding" (3.1.40). One might ascribe such confidence to class identity, but it proceeds more fundamentally from selfhood as such. Ostentatiously assuming the peasant garb of Caius does not make Kent any the less confident. He fights with Oswald and insults Cornwall with the excuse that "'tis my occupation to be plain." In both cases, choosing a self (any self) provides Kent with a subject position and power to speak, even to impose his views on others. And in both cases, as Cornwall observes, the identity which gives Kent confidence is in some ways an act, which he must "affect [. . .] quite from his nature" (2.2.89, 93-95). While Lear does not assume a disguise, he also, like Kent and Edgar, is obsessed with controlling his own identity. No doubt, as in Greenblatt's "Self-Fashioning," the process is informed by "family, state, and religious institutions" that "impose a more rigid and far-reaching discipline upon their middle-class and aristocratic subjects" (Self-Fashioning 1); nevertheless, what Lear's control of his identity allows us to consider is not only the complex relation between individual processes of self-fashioning and the cultural codes which they resisted and which informed or even destroyed them, but also the more fundamental necessity to hypostasize any Lawrence 49 sort of self at all. In Levinasian terms, Lear produces a self to stand over and against the anonymity of being, rather than becoming self-aware through responsibility to the Other. His eventual loss of sanity is considered " A sight most pitiful in the meanest wretch, / Past speaking of in a King!" (4.5.200-01). The king, who should be powerful, is all the more pathetic when he loses power over himself, when he loses the position which is the self, and which gives power over and against the world. If hypostasis is an act of naming which simultaneously gives substance, then when the king can no longer name himself he becomes merely "Lear's shadow" (1.4.228).7 Lear's loss of control over his identity can be contrasted with Kent's control. The latter explains to Cordelia that "to be known shortens my made intent: / M y boon I make it that you know me not, / T i l l time and I think meet" (4.7.9-11). Despite his claim to have some sort of master plan, Kent's disguise finds no further practical use in the play; control over his identity nevertheless allows him action. He is able to "make" his intention, avoiding being known by others, which would imply relying upon them for identity, and maintains independence by knowing himself. His power, in the above quotation, seems on a par with that of time. Practical advantages of disguise, when there are any, merely literalize the power flowing more fundamentally from naming oneself. 'Complications between the two early texts concerning this line underline both its importance and its difficulty. The F l text assigns the words "Lear's shadow" to the Fool, who is answering Lear's (probably rhetorical) question "who is it that can tell me who I am?" The Q l text, on the other hand, has Lear answer his own question, though punctuating the question with a horribly vague italicized question mark. This might indicate either that Lear is making his own answer vaguely rhetorical, or that he is declaring it emphatically, since the Q1 text often uses an italicized question mark in place of an exclamation mark. Lawrence 50 In Lear's case, hypostasis ceases to link the act of naming with possessing a discrete self over and against the anonymity of being. It has long been observed that, in Howard Felperin's words, "Lear cannot imagine any possible disjuncture between role and self, appearance and reality, 'sentence and power,' signum and res." What Felperin calls "this initial morality vision of sacred unity" (Felperin 98) is founded on the unity of the self, on its providing a home and a place, and therefore power. Edmund continues to answer for himself right up to his final and fatal duel with Edgar. Albany's name remains not only a symbol of his power, but also powerful in itself: "thy soldiers, / All levied in my name, have in my name / Took their discharge" (5.3.103-05). Lear's name, on the other hand, is incapable even of defending his servant Caius. Naming himself has ceased to provide him with power. Power isn't just a part of Lear's self- image; it is the corollary of his selfhood. Selfhood provides more than a particular power: As present and "I," hypostasis is freedom. The existent is master of existing. It exerts on its existence the virile power of the subject. It has something in its power. (Time and the Other 54-55) When Lear's name ceases to hypostasize (to coin a verb), he loses more than a social position or a specific authority. He loses the power to have power. By naming oneself, according to Levinas, one gives oneself a place in the anonymity of the night. Similarly, however, by naming, perceiving and "working over" things, they cease to be elemental, threatening forces. It is by naming, first oneself, and then other things and people, that the world becomes a setting for enjoyment. The named object becomes delimited and therefore capable of the sincerity of desire. "This structure," Levinas writes, "where an object concords fully with a desire, is characteristic of the whole of our being-in-the-world" (Existence and Existents 44). Levinas argues that in eating there "is a complete correspondence between desire and its satisfaction." He contrasts this relationship to love, characterized by "an essential Lawrence 51 and insatiable hunger," where the object cannot be grasped, "access is impossible, violence fails, possession is refused" {Existence and Existents 43). Lear, I will argue, not only names himself, providing himself with a self, but also names other people, appropriating them. In so doing, he attempts to reduce the Other, which is excessive, to an object of desire, which can be grasped. His challenge to Kent, disguised as Caius, anticipates that of the herald to Edgar: "What art thou?" (1.4.9). It is perhaps characteristic of Lear's role that he is named as Edgar's godfather, or more specifically, that Edgar is defined as having been "named your Edgar" by Lear (2.1.90-91).8 Lear's flurry of insults towards first Goneril and then Regan are ever-more desperate efforts at naming and control. The fact that he alone can grant legitimacy, can underwrite the propriety of a name, is his appeal to Regan: " i f thou shouldst not be glad, /1 would divorce me from thy mother's tomb, / Sepulchring an adult'ress" (2.4.127-29). While this quotation shows Lear exercising his claim to confer identity, it also shows that this claim is anxious, and relies upon the mother's word to confer legitimacy, as well relying on Regan not to defy his description of her. He is not providing her with an "I," so much as attempting to render her familiar and knowable, rather than excessive and alterior: 'Tis not in thee To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train, To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes, And, in conclusion to oppose the bolt Against my coming in. (2.4.171-75) It is as i f Lear believes that by calling Regan kind, he can make her kind. Interestingly, his insistence on her character comes at a time when her character is most in question and its being unknown is most threatening. 8 At least in the quarto text. The line is rendered "nam'd, your Edgar" in the Folio. Lawrence 52 As long as Lear's power over the world obtains, the world appears to him as a place to be enjoyed, as a world of food where nothing is truly external to his desire. It is, to quote a passage from Levinas's Existence and Existents, the world of Gargantua and Pantagruel and of Master Gaster, first Master of the Arts of the world, but it is also the world where Abraham grazed his flocks, Isaak dug his wells, Jacob set up his household, Epicurus cultivated his garden, and where "each one has the shade of his figtree and grape arbor". (Existence and Existents 44) We should not discount out of hand Goneril's accusation that "this our court [. . .]/ Shows like a riotous inn: epicurism and lust / Makes it more like a tavern or a brothel / Than a grac'd palace" (1.4.240-43). This does not mean, of course, that we should take seriously Regan's accusation that Lear's knights inspired Edgar's supposed plot to assassinate Gloucester, in order that they might have "th'expense and waste of his revenues" (2.1.99). What both quotations show, however, is that Lear's lifestyle in retirement quickly earns him and his retinue a reputation for enjoying the world. Lear's own behaviour, demanding his dinner and approving of Kent's violence towards Oswald, itself shows a certain understanding of the world as a locus of consumption, leisure, sport and enjoyment. In the earlier quotation, where Lear attempts to define Regan negatively by describing Goneril's bad acts, he makes the quite unjustifiable claim that Goneril "oppose[d] the bolt against my coming in." In fact, Goneril has done nothing of the sort. Lear stormed out of her home on his own. She has, however, questioned Lear's identity and his enjoyment of the world. To "grudge my pleasures" is, at least metaphorically, to send him back out into the night, to the state before one bears a name, and before the world can be named, known or enjoyed. Not only does Lear show a rather epicurean enjoyment of the world, but also he treats other people as if they were also things to be enjoyed. This is implicit in his position as the giver L a w r e n c e 5 3 o f n a m e s t o E d g a r , f o r i n s t a n c e , o r R e g a n . T o b o r r o w L e v i n a s ' s t e r m s , L e a r m a k e s n o d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e " o t h e r " a n d t h e " O t h e r . " C o n t r o l o f p e o p l e , l i k e t h i n g s , o f f e r h i m i d e n t i t y : " A y , e v e r y i n c h a k i n g , " h e p r o c l a i m s h i m s e l f i n h i s m a d n e s s , " W h e n I d o s t a r e , s e e h o w t h e s u b j e c t q u a k e s " ( 4 . 6 . 1 0 8 ) . I n t w o l i n e s , r u n t o g e t h e r i n t o o n e s e n t e n c e i n b o t h t h e a u t h o r i t a t i v e t e x t s ( 1 . 4 . 8 - 9 ) , L e a r m o v e s i n s t a n t l y f r o m d e m a n d i n g d i n n e r t o a c c o s t i n g K e n t . A s t h e p h r a s i n g o f t h e q u e s t i o n - " W h a t a r t f h o u ? " - s h o w s , L e a r i s a t t e m p t i n g t o t u r n K e n t i n t o a " w h a t " r a t h e r t h a n a " w h o , " s o m e t h i n g i n t h e w o r l d , t o b e e n j o y e d , r a t h e r t h a n a n o t h e r p e r s o n w h o d e m a n d s r e s p e c t a n d r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . K e n t ' s s e r v i c e , i n f a c t , i s f i t t e d i n t o t h e c o u r s e o f a m e a l : " t h o u s h a l t s e r v e m e , i f I l i k e t h e e n o w o r s e a f t e r d i n n e r " ( 1 . 4 . 4 0 - 4 1 ) . 9 I m m e d i a t e l y a f t e r s p e a k i n g t h i s l i n e , h e c o n f l a t e s h i s d i n n e r , t h e a m u s e m e n t o f h i s f o o l a n d t h e c o m p a n y o f h i s d a u g h t e r i n t o t h r e e d e m a n d s : " D i n n e r , h o ! d i n n e r ! W h e r e ' s m y k n a v e ? m y F o o l ? / G o y o u a n d c a l l m y F o o l h i t h e r / Y o u , y o u , s i r r a h , w h e r e ' s m y d a u g h t e r ? " ( 1 . 4 . 4 2 - 4 4 ) . A f e w l i n e s l a t e r , h e c a l l s f o r h i s d a u g h t e r t o s p e a k w i t h , t h e n h i s f o o l t o l a u g h at, t h e n t h e s t e w a r d t o b e r a t e : " G o y o u , a n d t e l l m y d a u g h t e r I w o u l d s p e a k w i t h h e r . / G o y o u , c a l l h i t h e r m y F o o l , / O ! y o u s i r , y o u , c o m e y o u h i t h e r , s i r . / W h o a m I, s i r ? " ( 1 . 4 . 7 3 - 7 8 ) . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , h i s f i r s t q u e s t i o n o f t h e s t e w a r d c a l l s f o r r e c o g n i t i o n . B e a r i n g a n i d e n t i t y , a s I h a v e a l r e a d y a r g u e d , i s t h e p r e r e q u i s i t e f o r t h e p o w e r w h i c h L e a r w i e l d s , t o t r e a t t h e w o r l d a s s o m e t h i n g t o b e e n j o y e d . L e a r ' s h a b i t o f t r e a t i n g O t h e r s a s o t h e r s t o b e c o m m a n d e d o r e n j o y e d i s a n e c e s s a r y b a c k g r o u n d t o t h e b i z a r r e l o v e t e s t o f t h e o p e n i n g s c e n e . " O u r e l d e s t b o m , " L e a r d e m a n d s , " s p e a k f i r s t . " T h e b a r k e d o r d e r t o " s p e a k " i s r e p e a t e d t h r e e t i m e s i n t h e q u a r t o t e x t ( 1 . 1 . 5 3 , 8 5 , 8 9 ) . A s g e n e r a t i o n s o f c r i t i c s h a v e o b s e r v e d , e x p r e s s i o n s o f l o v e a r e c o m m a n d e d , a n d a p p a r e n t l y f o r L e a r ' s e n j o y m e n t . H a r r y B e r g e r a r g u e s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y t h a t L e a r i s m a n i p u l a t i n g t h e o p e n i n g s c e n e f o r p o l i t i c a l e n d s , t r y i n g t o a v o i d 9 O n c e a g a i n , t h i s r e a d i n g i s a i d e d b y t h e p u n c t u a t i o n o f t h e e a r l y t e x t s . I n m o d e m e d i t i o n s , a s e m i - c o l o n i s u s u a l l y i n s e r t e d a f t e r " m e . " Lawrence 54 "future strife" (Berger 28). While this is no doubt correct, it misses the degree to which Lear is indulging himself in verse during the scene, how much he obviously enjoys describing Goneril's gift or Cordelia's charms and how such descriptions, in some cases quite literally, grant him power over the thing described. Without the verses describing how Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, With shadowy forests and with champains rich'd, With plenteous rivers and wide-skirted meads, We make thee lady. (1.1.62-65) Goneril would not be made lady of anything. Lear clearly enjoys the process of investing Goneril with power, indulging rhetorical excess in the process. He provides another example of the conflation of love and command when seeking an audience with Regan: "The King would speak with Cornwall; The dear father / Would with his daughter speak, commands, tends seruice" (2.4.97-99). The rhetoric of tending service seems deeply ironic in the context of a command. Rather than allowing his obligations to cancel his perquisites, Lear conflates them. Love can be commanded like dinner, or wakened like drowsy offspring. All other examples of treating people as things must pale, however, beside the trial scene in the quarto text, where Lear literally confuses objects with people. "Cry you mercy," says the Fool to the supposed Goneril, "I took you for a joint-stool" (3.6.51). While Regan's admission to Kent that she would treat a dog better than a "knave" is no doubt informed by class consciousness (2.2.133), it should be read against the background of a world in which people are often treated as interchangeable and manipulatable, like things. Similarly, Kent's treatment of Oswald is the enforcement of a certain class structure. For instance, Kent protests "That such a slave as this should wear a sword" (2.2.69). At a more fundamental level, however, Kent's challenges are attempts to fix Oswald both in place "stand, rogue, stand" (2.2.39) and in identity, as a slave, a villain, an unnecessary Lawrence 55 letter, an eater of broken meats and so on. The fact that Oswald is literally a slave, or at least a member of the lower classes, neither obviates nor explains Kent's desire to call him one, to reinforce his status through rhetorical power, to fix Oswald in a definition by force of naming him. Kent, in fact, declares Oswald so inferior as to cease to be a creature, made instead like an object by a craftsman. He treats Oswald as something to be worked, like mortar (2.2.52-64). Both Lear and his most loyal follower treat Others as others, as manipulatable, and specifically as things named and therefore controlled. If Lear treats Others as others, he therefore has no access to the redemption which comes only from the Other. His self, like any self on its own, is only capable of a contingent victory over the night and over the anonymity of being. Before leaping too quickly to a moralistic condemnation of Lear's treatment of others, we should recall that such treatment proceeds from an anxiety about his own individuation. For Lear, power is more than power. It is also selfhood, the ability to bear a name, and to name other things, reducing them to a world which can be enjoyed. Harry Berger points to the importance of "curiosity" in the first lines, which he follows George Steevens in defining as "a punctilious jealousy, resulting from a scrupulous watchfulness of his own dignity" (Berger 28). Some pages later, he draws attention to how Gloucester sees in the reduction of Lear's power a threat to himself (Berger 60). This "punctilious jealousy" is not simply an inflection of pride or class identity. Rather, it is a fear for the loss of identity as such, the annihilation which alone could be "worse than murther" (2.4.23). Actually, "annihilation" is the wrong term, since according to Levinas no escape from being is possible. Perhaps his term horror might more fully describe the reaction of Lear before the prospect of a loss of power: horror turns the subjectivity of the subject, his particularity qua entity, inside out. It is a participation in the there is, in the there is which returns in the heart of every negation, in the there is which has "no exits". (Existence and Existents 61) Lawrence 56 Famously, Gloucester's suicide attempt fails, though a discussion of it will have to wait until later. Suffice to say that both Lear and Gloucester's "punctilious jealousy" has a basis in something other than pride of place or the niceties of social life. For these characters, the loss of power has existential corollaries, threatening their very selves. On being offered a loss of power by Edmund's rendering of Edgar's supposed opinions, Gloucester flies into a rage: "O villain, villain! His very opinion in the letter! Abhorred villain! Unnatural, detested, brutish villain! worse than brutish!" (1.2.72-74). As Berger has pointed out, Edmund offers Gloucester alternative reactions to rampant indignation, but Gloucester chooses the most extreme (Berger 60). Power, in King Lear, is more than a means, or even some sort of perverse end in itself. To carry the importance which it does, power must have some significance greater than its traditional and political sense. Many persons adopt or discard appellations without serious psychological damage. But for Lear, a name is more than a sign for something that would subsist in any case. The first power is that of being able to reduce the elemental world to something to be enjoyed, of resisting the anonymity, the "evil" of Being, and as such it is related to the epicurean enjoyment of the world. "If only to go warm were gorgeous," Lear shouts at an apparently rather chic Goneril, "Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st, / Which scarcely keeps thee warm." Without such enjoyment, however, "Man's life is cheap as beast's" (2.4.266-67, 265). Lear's knights are not, as Goneril maintains, primarily a military unit which Lear might deploy against her (1.4.321-26). Even in fits of patriarchal rage, and with the advantage of having already invested the fortifications of first Goneril's and then Gloucester's homes, Lear does not stage a coup d'etat. The knights are no more useful, in fact, than Goneril's wardrobe. Their purpose is less to provide Lear with practical power, than with the accoutrements of power, and therefore to reinforce his sense of identity, and his resistance to the L a w r e n c e 5 7 h o r r o r s o f a n o n y m o u s b e i n g . O s w a l d f l o u t s L e a r ' s s e n s e o f s e l f , a n d i s a t t a c k e d a s a r e s u l t . K e n t , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , o b t a i n s h i s p o s i t i o n i n L e a r ' s t r a i n b y f l a t t e r i n g h i s a u r a o f a u t h o r i t y , a s s o m e t h i n g " i n y o u r c o u n t e n a n c e " ( 1 . 4 . 2 6 - 2 7 ) . I n f a c t , L e a r a b a n d o n s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f r e d e m p t i o n t h r o u g h t h e O t h e r i n f a v o u r o f d e f e n d i n g h i s p o w e r . R a t h e r t h a n a d m i t t h a t h e ' s w r o n g , h e c h o o s e s t o w a r a g a i n s t t h e e l e m e n t s , a t o p i c t h a t w i l l b e t r e a t e d at m o r e l e n g t h i n c h a p t e r f i v e , as p a r t o f L e a r ' s e f f o r t t o a s s u m e a t r a g i c r o l e . H e r e a s i n g l e e x a m p l e o f a b a n d o n i n g h u m i l i t y i n f a v o u r o f a d y n a m i c o f p o w e r w i l l h a v e t o s u f f i c e . F o r a f e w l i n e s , a f t e r b e i n g t o l d t h a t C o r n w a l l a n d R e g a n a r e u n w e l l , L e a r c o n s i d e r s t h a t p e r h a p s h e i s t o o p e r e m p t o r y . H o w e v e r , h e r e j e c t s s u c h a p o s s i b i l i t y o n s e e i n g t h e i n d i g n i t y o f K e n t ' s c o n f i n e m e n t : " D e a t h o n m y s t a te ! w h e r e f o r e / S h o u l d h e s i t h e r e ? " L e a r ' s " s t a t e " , b y w h i c h h e s w e a r s a n d w h i c h s e e m s s o t h r e a t e n e d b y K e n t ' s b o n d a g e , c a n n o t t o l e r a t e r e c o g n i t i o n o f t h e n e e d s o f o t h e r s . N o t h i n g i n t h e m e r e f a c t o f K e n t ' s i m p r i s o n m e n t s h o u l d c o n v i n c e L e a r " T h a t t h i s r e m o t i o n o f t h e D u k e a n d h e r / Is p r a c t i c e o n l y " ( 2 . 4 . 1 0 2 - 1 2 ) . I f a n y t h i n g , b e i n g w a k e n e d b y a b r a w l i n t h e c o u r t y a r d i s a l l t h e m o r e r e a s o n f o r R e g a n a n d C o r n w a l l t o b e t i r e d . R a t h e r t h a n b e i n g c o n v i n c e d , L e a r i s s i m p l y t e r r i f i e d t h a t a n y r e c o g n i t i o n o f o t h e r s w i l l f u r t h e r e r o d e h i s " s t a t e " . H i s r e l a t i o n t o O t h e r s i s f u n d a m e n t a l l y o n e o f s t r u g g l e . H i s o w n h o t h e a d e d n e s s l e a v e s n o r o o m f o r " t h e f i e r y D u k e , " a n d C o r n w a l l ' s a n d R e g a n ' s n e e d f o r r e s t i s s u b o r d i n a t e d t o h i s o w n n e e d f o r a t t e n t i o n ( 2 . 4 . 1 0 1 , 1 1 4 - 1 6 ) . L e a r d o e s m o r e t h a n s i m p l y d i s r e g a r d O t h e r s . H e t r e a t s t h e m a s e x t e n s i o n s o f h i m s e l f , o r o b j e c t s t o b e c o n s u m e d a n d t h e r e b y r e i n t e g r a t e d i n t o t h e s e l f . P e r h a p s t h e b e s t e x a m p l e o f L e a r ' s c o n f u s i o n o f t h e O t h e r w i t h h i s o w n i n t e n t i o n s o c c u r s i n t h e f i r s t s c e n e , w h e n h e o r d e r s K e n t t o " C o m e n o t b e t w e e n t h e D r a g o n a n d h i s w r a t h " ( 1 . 1 . 1 2 1 ) . A c c o r d i n g t o K e e f e r , w h a t t h i s c o n f l a t i o n o f o b j e c t a n d e m o t i o n s e e m s t o i m p l y i s t h a t b o t h a r e u n d e r s t o o d b y L e a r a s his a t t r i b u t e s - o r r a t h e r , f o r t h e m o m e n t , a s a s i n g l e o n e . W h e r e w e w o u l d L a w r e n c e 5 8 s e p a r a t e s u b j e c t a n d o b j e c t , s e l f f r o m o t h e r , h e d o e s n o t . ( K e e f e r 1 5 7 ) A c c o r d i n g t o L e v i n a s , o u r w h o l e b e i n g - i n - f h e - w o r l d i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y t h e s t r u c t u r e o f e a t i n g , " w h e r e a n o b j e c t c o n c o r d s f u l l y w i t h a d e s i r e . " T h e c o n c o r d o f a n o b j e c t w i t h i t s d e s i r e i s t h e s i n c e r i t y w h i c h m a k e s " T h e m a n w h o i s e a t i n g [. . .] t h e m o s t j u s t o f m e n . " It a l s o , h o w e v e r , d e s c r i b e s a c l o s e d l o o p , " a c i r c l e w h e r e t h e r e c a n b e satisfaction" f r o m w h i c h b o t h t h e O t h e r a n d t h e p r o b l e m o f e x i s t e n c e a r e e x c l u d e d {Existence and Existents 4 4 ) . 1 0 S a r t r e , i n a d e b a t e w i t h F r e n c h n e o - K a n t i a n s , c a l l e d t h e i r s a " d i g e s t i v e p h i l o s o p h y " ( C r i t c h l e y 6 ) . L e v i n a s e x t e n d s t h i s c l a i m t o t h e w h o l e o f t h e w e s t e r n t r a d i t i o n . T h e g o a l o f p h i l o s o p h y , i n t h e w e s t , h a s b e e n t o r e d u c e a l t e r i t y t o t h e S a m e ( " P h i l o s o p h y a n d t h e I d e a o f t h e I n f i n i t e " 9 3 ) . O t h e r p e o p l e e x i s t for L e a r . W h e n n o b o d y a n s w e r s h i m , h e c o n c l u d e s t h a t " t h e w o r l d ' s a s l e e p " ( 1 . 4 . 4 7 ) , a s i f t h e w o r l d ' s w a k e f u l n e s s c o u l d b e m e a s u r e d b y h o w w e l l i t a t t e n d e d t o h i m . R e g a n , s a y i n g w h a t h e r f a t h e r w a n t s t o h e a r i n t h e first s c e n e , c l a i m s t h a t W h i c h t h e m o s t p r e c i o u s s q u a r e o f s e n s e p o s s e s s e s , A n d find I a m a l o n e f e l i c i t a t e I n y o u r d e a r h i g h n e s s ' l o v e . ( 1 . 1 . 7 1 - 7 5 ) N o t e t h a t s h e d o e s n ' t c l a i m t o b e " f e l i c i t a t e " i n l o v i n g h i m , b u t i n b e i n g l o v e d b y h i m . L e a r ' s l o v e f o r R e g a n a n d i t s r e t u r n a r e a c l o s e d l o o p , i n w h i c h R e g a n i s b a r e l y p r e s e n t . " B e t t e r t h o u / H a d s t n o t b e e n b o m " h e c o l d l y i n f o r m s C o r d e l i a , " t h a n n o t t ' h a v e p l e a s e d m e b e t t e r " ( 1 . 1 . 2 3 2 - 3 3 ) . L i k e " T h e b a r b a r o u s S c y t h i a n / O r h e t h a t m a k e s h i s g e n e r a t i o n m e s s e s / T o g o r g e h i s a p p e t i t e " ( 1 . 1 . 1 1 5 - 1 7 ) , L e a r t r ea t s h i s d a u g h t e r s - i n d e e d , e v e r y o n e a r o u n d h i m - a s t h i n g s t o b e c o n s u m e d . L i k e f o o d , t h e y a r e t h e o b j e c t s o f a d e s i r e w h i c h s u c c e e d s i n s a t i s f y i n g i t s e l f , r e i n c o r p o r a t i n g i t s o b j e c t b a c k i n t o t h e s e l f a n d t h e r e f o r e n o t a l l o w i n g i t t o s t a n d o v e r a n d a g a i n s t t h e s e l f , a s o t h e r . H e n c e w e h a v e t h e i m a g e r y w i t h w h i c h L e a r t r e a t s h i s d a u g h t e r s a s e x t e n s i o n s 1 0 I t a l i c s w i t h i n q u o t a t i o n s a l w a y s i n d i c a t e t h e a u t h o r ' s e m p h a s i s a n d n e v e r m y o w n . Lawrence 59 of his own flesh. Is not filial ingratitude, he asks rhetorically, "as this mouth should tear this hand / For lifting food to't?" (3.4.15-16). Tom's laceration of his own flesh is "judicious punishment," declares Lear, since "'twas this flesh begot / Those [doubly ficticious] pelican daughters" (3.4.73-74). It is characteristic of what we should consider a habit of Lear's mind that he can understand Tom's suffering only as a reflection of his own: "has his daughters brought him to this pass?" (3.4.102-12). Goneril is internalized, while simultaneously being cursed and rejected: thou art my flesh, my blood, my daughter, Or rather a disease that's in my flesh, Which I must needs call mine: thou art a boil, A plague-sore, or imbossed carbuncle, In my corrupted blood. (2.4.219-23) This final curse might represent a desperate attempt, immediately preceding Lear's escape through madness, to deny the alterity of his daughters. Assimilating his daughters to himself saves Lear from facing them as Other. According to Levinas, the self is fundamentally alone: The subject is alone because it is one. A solitude is necessary in order for there to be a freedom of beginning, the existent's mastery over existing-that is, in brief, in order for there to be an existent. (Time and the Other 54-55) Elsewhere, Levinas characterizes the unity of the self as a history, in that it absorbs new events without becoming something else ("Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite" 92). In assimilating others, the self maintains its own fundamental unity, denying the alterity which would divide it and force it to question its right to be ("Diachrony and Representation" 110). The crime for which Kent is banished is "To come betwixt our sentence and our power, / Which nor our nature Lawrence 60 nor our place can bear" (1.1.169-70). He has attempted to frustrate Lear's power, his ability to assimilate the world, but more specifically, he has threatened to divide Lear's "sentence" and "power," his desire from its realization. Sending Kent into exile is a reunion of sentence and power, in which "Our potency [is] made good" (1.1.171). Later, Lear rejects any negotiation of a dowry for Cordelia with the words, "Nothing: I have sworn; I am firm" (1.1.244). What is striking about both declarations is the degree to which Lear's personal integrity is bound up with conquering the instability of the sign or rather, with conquering the instability of his own signs. Perhaps with pride, Lear informs Kent that he has "sought to make us breake our vow, / Which we durst never yet" (1.1.167-68). What Lear is fundamentally fighting for is the unity of his self, against the possibility of its internal division. Not only his "place," but also his "nature" cannot bear anything "to come betwixt our sentences and our power." Such solitude, such unity, is necessary if the self is to resist the anonymity of the night. It is the anxiety before the night which summons an ever-more narcissistic insistence on the powers of the self, but conversely, it is the return of the night, "When the rain came to wet me once and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding" (4.6.100-02), which both breaks Lear's faith in the stability of the sign and shows him the limits of his own capabilities: "Go to, they are not men o'their words; they told me, I was every thing; 'tis a lie, I am not ague-proof (4.6103-105). As Stanley Cavell has argued, the characters are not whole. The theme of doubling in the play (the Gloucester family and the Lear family, for instance) "taunts the characters with their lack of wholeness, their separation from themselves, by loss or denial or opposition" (Cavell 79). While one can only agree with most of Cavell's observations, one should also note that their lack of unity provides an ongoing anxiety for all of the characters. The self, as Levinas writes, is only a contingent victory over the anonymity of being. Failure to be solitary and separated selves standing over and against the anonymity of being is always already inscribed within the Lawrence 61 achievement of selfhood {Existence and Existents 84). Certainly, the seemingly irrational anxiety of characters regarding their selfhood, their "curiosity" to use Berger's term, recognizes the possibility of their failure. No wonder Kent conflates "difference and decay" (5.3.287). A corollary of Lear's efforts to assimilate all things into himself is his unwillingness to be surprised. Pechter calls New Historicism "a criticism of recognition, of knowing again what one knew before" (Pechter 302). Lear seems to anticipate these critics, or rather to participate in the same sort of phenomenological gesture, in refusing to accept any news as a revelation coming from without, and preferring to understand new information always as something that he knew ahead of time. When the poor service in Goneril's household is pointed out to him, for instance, he informs the knight that "Thou but rememb'rest me of mine own conception" (1.4.65). When told that "the Fool hath much pined away," he replies "No more of that; I have noted it well" (1.4.72-73). Rather than allow himself to be surprised by Others, or to become indebted to them even for information, Lear treats all news as something he has already known. In these instances, Lear seems to follow Plato, in labelling knowledge as reminiscence. Levinas specifically contrasts such a view of truth as reminiscence with another strand of western philosophy in which truth is alterior, coming as revelation ("Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite" 96). According to Berger, the divestiture scene is an effort at anticipation, avoiding "the more absolute divestiture he fears at the hands of others" (Berger 32), though, of course, the divestiture is interrupted by Cordelia's silence, leading to the explosion of rage that serves as an index of Lear's anxiety. Here as elsewhere in the early scenes, Lear attempts to maintain control into the future, avoiding the possibility of anything arising which he might fail to assimilate, and which might threaten the sovereignty of his self. I have argued that other people appear to Lear as things to be enjoyed or consumed. There is, however, another figure under which other people can appear to him: as tools. Levinas Lawrence 62 describes tools in a section of Existence and Existents dealing principally with the working of desire as sincerity, in which the object of desire perfectly corresponds to the desire itself. Within this context, tools facilitate the satisfaction of desire, an extension of one's own grasp in order to expedite the act of grasping: In modern civilization, they do not only extend the hand, so that it could get at what it does not get at of itself; they enable it to get at it more quickly, that is, they suppress in an action the time the action has to take on. Tools suppress intermediary times; they contract duration. (Existence and Existents 90) Lear's first line is a command: "Attend my Lords of France and Burgundy, Gloster" (1.1.33-34). More importantly, it is a command which delegates a task to another. A great deal of the awkwardness of Lear's attempt to win an audience from Regan and Cornwall results from the fact that he chooses to work through intermediaries. In sending Kent / Caius to speak with Regan, Lear is accelerating communication beyond what he could achieve on his own: "If your diligence be not speedy I shall be there afore you" (1.5.4-5). He is using Kent to suppress the intermediary time between what he wants to do and getting it done. Of course, kings generally issue orders, but what is interesting about Lear's commands is that they do not permit a range of independent action: his servant is treated simply as a tool. Goneril treats Oswald as a free agent in giving him the message to bear to Regan, telling him to Inform her full of my particular fear; And thereto add such reasons of your own As may compact it more. (1.4.336-338) By contrast, and perhaps less than a minute of stage-time later, Lear orders Kent to "Acquaint my daughter no further with any thing you know than comes from her demand out of the letter" Lawrence 63 (1.5.2-3). Perhaps this prudence is just as well, since Kent is a disastrously ineffective messenger. Nevertheless, where Goneril treats Oswald as an agent with initiative of his own, Lear treats Kent purely as the instrument of his own intention. Harry Berger argues that Lear's confusion of self and other follows mainly from his efforts to project his own guilt, referring to a zone of unstable oscillation between the desire to be forgiven and the desire to do things that bring on and justify the judgement one feels one deserves (which in Lear's case involves villainously hurting those one loves as a way of hurting oneself). (Berger xx) In fact, Berger's general hypothesis is based on.psychological displacement and the determination that in the plays "Such displacements are represented as conspicuously inadequate to repress or resolve latent conflicts" (Berger xvii). Lear, according to Berger, is externalizing, projecting his own psychology unto others. I would like to argue, however, that the opposite is true. Lear is internalizing others in order to avoid facing them as Other. The first lines, where Gloucester introduces Edmund to Kent, are a miniature of the fundamental difficulties faced not only by Gloucester but also by Lear. "His breeding, Sir," says Gloucester to Kent, "hath been at my charge: I have so often blush'd to acknowledge him, that now I ambraz'd to't" (1.1.8-10). The antecedent of the impersonal "it" is clearly Edmund's breeding, but by its position, it could also refer to Edmund himself. The problem is not that Gloucester fails to recognize his own sin in copulating with Edmund's mother, a sin objectified in Edmund's existence. Gloucester's failure, as Stanley Cavell has argued, is a failure to recognize his duty towards Edmund himself: "He does not acknowledge him, as a son or a person, with his feelings of illegitimacy and being cast out" (Cavell 48). One will notice that Gloucester does not introduce Edmund until Kent makes an inquiry. When he does, he introduces Edmund mainly in terms of his own guilt. L a w r e n c e 6 4 E d m u n d i s t h e s i g n i f i e r o f G l o u c e s t e r ' s s ta te o f m i n d , t h e " i s s u e o f h i s f a u l t , a s K e n t s a y s , r a t h e r t h a n b e i n g a n o t h e r p e r s o n , d e s e r v i n g o f r e s p e c t a n d a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t . W h e n G l o u c e s t e r s a y s t h a t h e h a s " s o o f t e n b l u s h ' d t o a c k n o w l e d g e h i m , " w e s h o u l d s u b s t i t u t e " m y f a u l t " f o r " h i m . " E d m u n d b e c o m e s G l o u c e s t e r ' s " f a u l t , " i n m u c h t h e s a m e w a y i n w h i c h G o n e r i l b e c o m e s L e a r ' s f l e s h . A s l o n g a s h e i s a d d r e s s e d i n t h e s e t e r m s , E d m u n d n e e d n o t b e r e s p e c t e d a s O t h e r . H e i s a n e l e m e n t o f t h e s e l f , t o b e a c k n o w l e d g e d a s o n e a c k n o w l e d g e s o n e ' s w e a k n e s s e s . L e a r a l s o t r e a t s t h e r e l a t i o n w i t h t h e O t h e r a s f u n d a m e n t a l l y i n t e r n a l , a m a t t e r w h i c h , at l e a s t i n p r i n c i p l e , c o u l d b e r e s o l v e d b y s u f f i c i e n t s e l f - c o n t r o l . H e c r i e s t o h i s h e a r t " a s t h e c o c k n e y d i d t o t h e e e l s " ( 2 . 4 . 1 1 9 ) . E a r l i e r i n t h e s a m e s c e n e , h e d e m a n d s t o s e e h i s d a u g h t e r i m m e d i a t e l y a f t e r c o m m a n d i n g h i s o w n m a d n e s s : O ! h o w t h i s M o t h e r s w e l l s u p t o w a r d m y h e a r t ; Hystericapassiol d o w n t h o u c l i m b i n g s o r r o w ! T h y e l e m e n t ' s b e l o w . W h e r e i s t h i s d a u g h t e r ? ( 2 . 4 . 5 4 - 5 6 " ) L a t e r , h i s s t r u g g l e i s n o t t o w e e p , p r e c i s e l y n o t t o m a k e a n y e x t e r n a l s i g n o f h i s s ta te o f m i n d . L e a r i s i n t e r n a l i z i n g at l e a s t a s m u c h a s h e i s e x t e r n a l i z i n g . N e a r t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e s t o r m s c e n e , t h e F o o l t o s s e s o f f o n e o f h i s e n i g m a t i c s e n t e n c e s , " F o r t h e r e w a s n e v e r y e t f a i r w o m a n b u t s h e m a d e m o u t h s i n a g l a s s " ( 3 . 2 . 3 5 - 3 6 ) . W h y t h i s n e a r - r a n d o m s n i p p e t o f m i s o g y n y ? T h e a n s w e r h a s a s m u c h t o d o w i t h n a r c i s s i s m a s i t d o e s w i t h m i s o g y n y . L i k e t h e w o m a n " m a k i n g m o u t h s " i n a m i r r o r , L e a r i s c a r r y i n g o n a c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h h i m s e l f . L e v i n a s a r g u e s t h a t w i t h i n " t h e t r a d i t i o n a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f d i s c o u r s e " s t a r t i n g f r o m P l a t o n i c d i a l e c t i c , " t h e m i n d i n s p e a k i n g i t s t h o u g h t r e m a i n s n o l e s s o n e a n d u n i q u e " ( " D i a c h r o n y a n d R e p r e s e n t a t i o n " 10.1). " A l t h o u g h o n e s h o u l d n ' t p l a c e m u c h r e l i a n c e o n t h e c o m p o s i t o r s o f e a r l y t e x t s , i t s e e m s w o r t h n o t i n g t h a t b o t h e a r l y t e x t s r u n t o g e t h e r t h e l a s t t w o s e n t e n c e s , f u r t h e r a s s o c i a t i n g t h e e f f o r t s t o c o n t r o l h i m s e l f w i t h t h e e f f o r t s t o c o m m a n d a n O t h e r . Lawrence 65 With more sympathy, he cites Plato's apparently contradictory declaration that the only true discourse is with gods, who remain external ("Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite" 106). Even the gods, however, are not truly external to Lear, as I will show in chapter five. In any case, the daughters are certainly no longer true interlocutors. Hence the "judicious punishment" of self-mutilation, as an attack against his children. One will notice that this self-punishment as punishment of others follows from a sort of cannibalism, by which Lear attempts to internalize the children as part of himself. Such an effort at mastery carries a terrible risk, of course, as Lear's rising madness indicates. One of the Fool's many oblique declarations seems tantalizingly close to the point that I'm making: "The man that makes his toe / What he his heart should make, / Shall of a com cry woe, / And turn his sleep to wake" (3.2.31-34). The Q2 and Q3 versions of Goneril's dismissal of Albany-"My foote usurps my heade"-seem similar (4.2.28). Kenneth Muir's explanation of the earlier of these two quotations is that "The man who cherishes a mean part of his body to the exclusion of what is really worth cherishing, shall suffer lasting harm, and from the very part he so foolishly cherished" (3.2.3l-34n). Lear is doomed to prove the Fool's prediction, because he makes no meaningful distinction between the internal and the external. Kent's obedience makes his "potency" good, and Kent's imprisonment threatens his "state". Those who surround Lear-as things to be enjoyed, as objects to be controlled, or as instruments for controlling others-are intimately involved in his efforts to hold at bay the horror of anonymous existence. Nothing and no one is external enough to stand against him, but nothing is unimportant enough to be ignored, either. Because he makes others about him into objects of control, Lear denies himself access to the Other, which provides the only true assurance against the night. The self s failure, according to Levinas, is always already inscribed within its establishment. Lear nevertheless hastens this failure by extending the self s arena to everyone and everything around him, placing an Lawrence 66 insupportable burden on the project of control. Even an apparently minor issue-the "corn" of the Fool's analogy-can carry Lear to the heart of his crisis. Levinas links "the philosophy of the same", the attempt to deny the alterity of the Other, to narcissism ("Philosophy and the Idea of the Infinite" 94-105). Thankfully, Levinas has not developed a developmental psychology plotting the development of the self against stages in early childhood; nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that Lear, whose agon consists in precisely the narcissistic attempt to deny the alterity of the Other, is seen as childlike by characters within the play as well as critics outside it. Goneril declares that "The best and soundest of his time hath been but rash," adding that senility will compound his irrationality (1.1.294-95), and anticipating her later declaration that "old fools are babes again" (1.3.20). Lear seems strangely not to have undergone the normal aging process. "Thou should'st not have been old," the Fool opines in his acid way, "till thou hadst been wise" (1.5.41-42). Goneril declares that Lear "should be wise" because he is "old and reverend" (1.4.237). The use of the subjunctive "should" indicates a gap between Lear's age and his maturity, hi fact, it seems that Lear has not grown old so much as he has been declared old: "They flattered me like a dog, and told me I had the white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there" (4.6.96-98). Lear's maturity, as Susan Snyder indicates, is a lie (Snyder 147). The imagery associated with his immaturity is so rich that more than one critic considers his reawakening in act four to be a new birth (xlix; 4.7.45). From the beginning of the play, Lear's narcissism is symbolised by imagery of childhood. He wishes to rest in the "kind nursery" of Cordelia (1.1.123). Even near the end of the play, if the quarto stage direction is to be believed, Cordelia leads Lear by the hand (5.2.1sd). Only in the last scene is the imagery reversed, when Lear enters with the dead Cordelia in his arms (5.3.255sd), in a figure that we might think of as an inverse pieta. The world of King Lear is a world in which selfhood is often assured by no more than an L a w r e n c e 6 7 a c t o f w i l l . A s a r e s u l t , t h e r e l a t i o n s b e t w e e n p e o p l e a r e c h a r a c t e r i s e d b y a s o r t o f a l l e r g i c r e a c t i o n , o r e v e n , i n H o b b e s i a n t e r m s , a w a r o f a l l a g a i n s t a l l . G o n e r i l i s n o t a l o n e i n s e e i n g h u m a n r e l a t i o n s as p o w e r r e l a t i o n s ( B e r g e r 3 3 , q u o t i n g G o l d b e r g ) . T h e c h a r a c t e r s , i n f a c t , s e e m t o b e t r a p p e d i n a d e a d l y z e r o - s u m g a m e , w h e r e t h e w i l f u l n e s s o f a n o t h e r b l o c k s o n e ' s o w n w i l l , a n d t h e e f f i c a c y o f o n e ' s o w n w i l l , o n e ' s " p o t e n c y m a d e g o o d " t o u s e L e a r ' s t e r m s , i s t h e o n l y b a r r i e r b e t w e e n o n e s e l f a n d t h e h o r r o r , t h e n i g h t , o f a n o n y m o u s e x i s t e n c e . A n a n x i e t y r e g a r d i n g s e l f h o o d i s f a r m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l t o t h i s p l a y t h a n a n y a n x i e t y r e g a r d i n g t h e p r o p e r o r d e r o f t h e u n i v e r s e , o r t h e p l a c e o f w o m e n w i t h i n i t . It i s a g a i n s t t h e b a c k g r o u n d o f t h i s w o r l d o f a n x i e t y a n d c o n f l i c t , t h a t L e a r ' s b a n i s h m e n t s o f K e n t a n d C o r d e l i a b e c o m e i n t e l l i g i b l e .  Lawrence 69 Chapter two — "When I do stare, see how the subject quakes": Images of seeing and efforts at control It should be clear from the previous chapter, that narcissism constitutes an important theme of Shakespeare's King Lear. This theme finds expression not only in how characters treat each other, but also in a pattern of images and metaphors often referred to as the play's "sight imagery." Perhaps by coincidence, a similar set of terms was adopted by Levinas to describe the relationship (or failed relationship) with the Other. In both the play's language and Levinas's prose, the gaze becomes a matter of staring down whereas the face of the Other becomes something to be avoided, even by violence. Even if this similarity is merely coincidental, the play is clearly drawing on a set of images that resonate in specific, though often implicit, ways within western culture, and which Levinas attempts to tease out in some of his most important works. The play's frequent images of sight and blinding therefore provide points of contact with Levinasian philosophy. Specifically, they provide an occasion for a discussion of Levinas's theory of knowledge as control, an idea enacted by characters who reduce each other to objects of knowledge, rather than Others to be recognized or, as Cavell would say, acknowledged. While this congruence allows a certain reading of the play's sight imagery and an analysis of some of the play's most important events, it also provides the opportunity for an introduction to Levinas's theory of language, of how the sign finds its origin not in free play, but in the word of the Other, presenting himself. The play of language (or economics in the next chapter) is not, in Levinas's philosophy or in the play, simply a self-sustaining game; on the contrary, it finds a stake in the voice of the Other. What I am presenting is in some ways a Levinasian supplement to Cavell's classic and rightly admired argument. Gerald Bruns notes that Cavell does not promulgate an explicit ethical L a w r e n c e 7 0 t h e o r y . N e v e r t h e l e s s , h e w r i t e s t h a t i f o n e w e r e t o e x t r a c t a n e x p l i c i t t h e o r y f r o m t h e s e [ C a v e l l ' s ] t e x t s , i t m i g h t w e l l r e s e m b l e t h e a c c o u n t s o f t h e e t h i c a l t h a t t h e p o s t - H u s s e r l i a n F r e n c h p h i l o s o p h e r E m m a n u e l L e v i n a s g i v e s . ( B r u n s 8 7 ) I t a k e t h i s t o i n d i c a t e t h a t L e v i n a s ' s p h i l o s o p h y p r o v i d e s a m o r e e x p l i c i t t u r n t o w a r d s t h e O t h e r . I n at l e a s t o n e a s p e c t , I w o u l d a r g u e t h a t L e v i n a s i s a c t u a l l y m o r e r i g o r o u s t h a n C a v e l l . W h e r e C a v e l l ' s t h e o r y h o l d s t h e p o t e n t i a l - r e a l i z e d i n t h e w o r k o f H a r r y B e r g e r - t o m a k e a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t a s e l f - r e f l e c t i v e g e s t u r e , u l t i m a t e l y r e t u r n i n g t o t h e s e l f , L e v i n a s r i g o r o u s l y w o r k s e n t i r e l y i n t e r m s o f t h e O t h e r a s a l t e r i o r . L e v i n a s ' s i d e a s , t h e r e f o r e , o f f e r s n o t o n l y t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f n e w r e a d i n g s o f t h e p l a y , b u t a l s o a n e s c a p e from a t e n d e n c y i n c r i t i c i s m , u l t i m a t e l y d e r i v e d f r o m t h e e n l i g h t e n m e n t , b y w h i c h t h e r e l a t i o n s b e t w e e n p e o p l e a r e s e e n , i n e v i t a b l y , a s p o w e r r e l a t i o n s . " L e v i n a s ' s t h o u g h t , " w r i t e s G e o r g e S t e i n e r , d i s t i n g u i s h i n g h i m f r o m J a c q u e s D e r r i d a , " i s g r o u n d e d i n t h e Logos. D e c o n s t r u c t i o n p r o c l a i m s t h e e p i l o g u e " ( S t e i n e r 2 4 ) . W h i l e D e r r i d a , i n t h e f i r s t f e w p a g e s o f On Grammatology, d e f e n d s w r i t i n g a g a i n s t t h e c l a i m s o f a l o g o c e n t r i s m t h a t p r i v i l e g e s t h e s p o k e n o v e r t h e w r i t t e n w o r d , L e v i n a s , i n Totality and Infinity a n d e l s e w h e r e , d e f e n d s t h e s p o k e n w o r d , t h e w o r d o f t h e O t h e r , a g a i n s t c o m p r e h e n s i o n w i t h i n a n y t h i n g e l s e , i n c l u d i n g k n o w l e d g e o r w r i t i n g . B o t h t h i n k e r s c l a i m t o b e d e f e n d i n g d i f f e r e n c e a g a i n s t t h e t o t a l i z i n g t e n d e n c i e s o f w e s t e r n t h o u g h t . I n f a c t , b o t h i n v o k e t h e b o o k a s a n e g a t i v e e x a m p l e o f l a n g u a g e w h i c h h a s b e e n b e t r a y e d o r c o n t r o l l e d ( D e r r i d a 1 8 ; " D i a c h r o n y a n d R e p r e s e n t a t i o n " 1 0 1 ) . M o r e o v e r , t h e t w o m e n k n e w e a c h o t h e r w e l l a n d i n f l u e n c e d o n e a n o t h e r . D e r r i d a d e l i v e r e d L e v i n a s ' s f u n e r a l o r a t i o n , r e c a l l i n g n o t o n l y h i s w o r k , b u t a l s o h i s f r i e n d s h i p a n d e v e n t h e t e x t u r e o f h i s s p e e c h : " t h e r a d i a n c e o f h i s t h o u g h t , t h e g o o d n e s s o f h i s s m i l e , t h e g r a c i o u s h u m o r o f h i s e l l i p s e s " ( " A d i e u " 3 -4 ) . Lawrence 71 I will attempt, in what follows, to very briefly sketch Levinas's understanding of language, in part by contrast with Derrida. More fundamental, for Levinas, than the difference of signifier and signified is the distinction between Self and Other, a distinction all too easily effaced in favour of the anonymous free play of the sign. His treatment of language neither loses itself in the anonymity of free play, nor does it return to an understanding of language as representation, within the control of the speaker, author or auditor. In Levinas's view, western thought overcomes alterity by knowing, by making what is Other present, and the property of the self: "The other is made the property of the ego in the knowledge that assures the marvel of immanence" ("Diachrony and Representation" 99). Knowledge, in this sense, is an activity of thinking through knowing, of seizing something and making it one's own, of reducing to presence and representing the difference of being, an activity which appropriates and grasps the alterity of the known. ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 76) In knowledge, he writes, alterity is lost: "the labour of thought wins out over the otherness of things and men" ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 78). Specifically, "the other of thought becomes the characteristic property of thought" by an act of grasping. To Levinas, the notion of intellectual grasp is more than a metaphor. On the contrary, "knowledge [. . .] refers back to an act of grasping" ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 76). He cites Edmund Husserl to the effect that even the most abstract of scientific truths find their foundation in the concrete relation to "things within hand's reach" ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 79). To make something present is to make it graspable, at least by sight. The now is "the promise of a graspable, a solid" ("Diachrony and Representation" 98). In "The Transcendence of Words," an essay published in a 1949 number of Les Temps Modernes dedicated to Michel Leiris, he expands on the relationship between sight and knowing, arguing that "to see is to be in a world that is entirely here and self-sufficient" ("Transcendence L a w r e n c e 7 2 o f W o r d s " 1 4 7 ) . W i t h i n t h i s w o r l d , t h e i n t e l l i g i b l e i s e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e v i s i b l e : T h e s p h e r e o f i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y — t h e r e a s o n a b l e - i n w h i c h e v e r y d a y l i f e a s w e l l a s t h e t r a d i t i o n o f o u r p h i l o s o p h i c a n d s c i e n t i f i c t h o u g h t m a i n t a i n s i t s e l f , i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y v i s i o n . T h e s t r u c t u r e o f a seeing h a v i n g t h e seen a s i t s o b j e c t o r t h e m e - t h e s o - c a l l e d i n t e n t i o n a l s t r u c t u r e - i s f o u n d i n a l l t h e m o d e s o f s e n s i b i l i t y h a v i n g a c c e s s t o t h i n g s . ( " D i a c h r o n y a n d R e p r e s e n t a t i o n " 9 7 ) V i s i o n p r o v i d e s a p r i v i l e g e d s t r u c t u r e o f k n o w i n g , b y w h i c h t h e a l t e r i t y o f t h e O t h e r i s o v e r c o m e . I m m e d i a t e l y f o l l o w i n g t h e s e n t e n c e j u s t q u o t e d , L e v i n a s a r g u e s t h a t t h e s t r u c t u r e o f v i s i o n t e n d s t o b e e x t e n d e d t o t h e i n t e r p e r s o n a l , e f f e c t i v e l y e v a c u a t i n g t h e a l t e r i t y o f o t h e r p e o p l e . S o u n d , o n t h e c o n t r a r y , i s t r a n s g r e s s i v e , " a r i n g i n g , c l a n g i n g s c a n d a l " ( " T r a n s c e n d e n c e o f W o r d s " 1 4 7 ) . S p e c i f i c a l l y , t h o u g h , t h i s s c a n d a l i s n ' t j u s t a n y s o u n d , b u t t h e s p o k e n w o r d : " T h e p u r e s o u n d i s t h e w o r d " ( " T r a n s c e n d e n c e o f W o r d s " 1 4 8 ) . T o L e v i n a s , i t i s t h e s p o k e n w o r d t h a t m a i n t a i n s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f a n O t h e r , t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f d i f f e r e n c e a g a i n s t t h e p r o p e r . A L e v i n a s i a n e m p h a s i s u p o n t h e d i r e c t n e s s o f t h e s p o k e n w o r d , p r o v i d e s , I w i l l a r g u e , a b e t t e r a p p r o a c h t o t h e p r o b l e m o f l a n g u a g e a n d k n o w l e d g e i n King Lear t h a n d o e s t h e f r e e p l a y o f D e r r i d e a n d e c o n s t r u c t i o n . L a n g u a g e d o e s n o t s i m p l y d e f e r , i n a s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t g a m e ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , t h i s g a m e f i n d s a s t a k e i n t h e f a c e o f t h e O t h e r . D e r r i d a ' s d e f i n i t i o n o f l o g o c e n t r i s m a s " t h e m e t a p h y s i c s o f p h o n e t i c w r i t i n g " a p p e a r s at t h e v e r y b e g i n n i n g o f h i s s e m i n a l a r g u m e n t , Of Grammatology ( D e r r i d a 3 ) . A c c o r d i n g t o D e r r i d a , l o g o c e n t r i s m ' s b e l i e f i n t h e s u p e r i o r i t y o f p h o n e t i c w r i t i n g f o l l o w s from a n e f f o r t t o r e p r o d u c e t h e v o i c e , w h i c h l o g o c e n t r i s m t a k e s t o b e p r i o r t o t h e w r i t t e n w o r d . L o g o c e n t r i s m , t h e r e f o r e , i s a l s o a " p h o n o c e n t r i s m " ( D e r r i d a 1 1 ) . D e r r i d a , o n t h e o t h e r h a n d , v a l o r i z e s g r a m m a t o l o g y , w h i c h " s h o w s s i g n s o f l i b e r a t i o n a l l o v e r t h e w o r l d " ( D e r r i d a 3 ) , a n d b y w h i c h h e n a m e s t h e s t u d y o f a w r i t i n g o l d e r t h a n t h e s p o k e n w o r d , a n d w h i c h t h e s p o k e n w o r d m e r e l y L a w r e n c e 7 3 d i s g u i s e s . " I n a l l s e n s e s o f t h e w o r d , " h e w r i t e s , " w r i t i n g t h u s comprehends l a n g u a g e " ( D e r r i d a 7 ) . 1 2 L o g o c e n t r i s m d e n i g r a t e s t h e w r i t t e n w o r d t o a p u r e l y i n s t r u m e n t a l f u n c t i o n , r e p r o d u c i n g s p e e c h w h i c h i s " f u l l y present ( p r e s e n t t o i t s e l f , t o i t s s i g n i f i e d , t o t h e o t h e r , t h e v e r y c o n d i t i o n o f t h e t h e m e o f p r e s e n c e i n g e n e r a l ) " ( D e r r i d a 8 ) . D e r r i d a e x p l a i n s A r i s t o t l e ' s p r e f e r e n c e f o r s p o k e n o v e r w r i t t e n w o r d s o n t h e g r o u n d s t h a t " t h e v o i c e , p r o d u c e r o f the first symbols, h a s a r e l a t i o n s h i p o f e s s e n t i a l a n d i m m e d i a t e p r o x i m i t y w i t h t h e m i n d " ( D e r r i d a 1 1 ) . S i m i l a r l y , h e c r i t i c i z e s H e g e l f o r i d e a l i z i n g s o u n d as a r e l a t i o n s h i p i n w h i c h " b y v i r t u e o f h e a r i n g ( u n d e r s t a n d i n g ) - o n e s e l f - s p e a k , " t h e s u b j e c t " a f f e c t s i t s e l f a n d i s r e l a t e d t o i t s e l f i n t h e e l e m e n t o f i d e a l i t y " ( D e r r i d a 1 2 ) . L a t e r , h e d e c l a r e s t h a t H e i d e g g e r ' s " T h o u g h t o b e y i n g t h e V o i c e o f B e i n g " m a y b e l i t t l e m o r e t h a n " p u r e a u t o - a f f e c t i o n " ( D e r r i d a 2 0 ) . E v e n t h e v o i c e o f G o d , a s D e r r i d a m a k e s c l e a r b y a r e f e r e n c e t o R o u s s e a u ' s Emile, i s f o u n d b y g o i n g w i t h i n o n e s e l f . T h e i m p e r a t i v e i s s t i l l a m a t t e r o f p r e s e n c e : " T h e b e g i n n i n g w o r d i s u n d e r s t o o d , i n t h e i n t i m a c y o f s e l f - p r e s e n c e , a s t h e v o i c e o f t h e o t h e r a n d as c o m m a n d m e n t " ( D e r r i d a 1 7 ) . D e r r i d a as w e l l a s L e v i n a s , t h e r e f o r e , i s i n t e r e s t e d i n a v o i d i n g a m e t a p h y s i c s o f p r e s e n c e , w h e r e t h e s e l f i s m a i n l y r e l a t e d t o i t s e l f ( a n d n o t , at l e a s t i n L e v i n a s ' s u n d e r s t a n d i n g , t o t h e O t h e r ) . D e r r i d a a l s o a g r e e s w i t h L e v i n a s i n c o n d e m n i n g , o r at l e a s t s u s p e n d i n g t h e p o w e r o f , t h e b o o k , t o t a l i t y a n d t h e p r o p e r . A c c o r d i n g t o D e r r i d a , l o g o c e n t r i s m c a n o n l y s e e w r i t i n g a s " g o o d " , i n s o f a r as i t i s " c o m p r e h e n d e d " a n d c o n t a i n e d i n a b o o k : It [ the i d e a o f t h e b o o k ] i s t h e e n c y c l o p e d i c p r o t e c t i o n o f t h e o l o g y a n d o f l o g o c e n t r i s m a g a i n s t t h e d i s r u p t i o n o f w r i t i n g , a g a i n s t i t s a p h o r i s t i c e n e r g y , a n d , a s I s h a l l s p e c i f y l a t e r , a g a i n s t d i f f e r e n c e i n g e n e r a l . ( D e r r i d a 1 8 ) T h e i d e a o f t h e b o o k i s a l s o , f o r D e r r i d a , a t o t a l i t y . F o r b o t h L e v i n a s a n d D e r r i d a , m o r e o v e r , 1 2 I s h a l l h a v e o c c a s i o n t o r e t u r n t o t h i s t e r m i n t h e d i s c u s s i o n o f L e v i n a s ' s t r e a t m e n t o f l a n g u a g e . Lawrence 74 what is "proper" ("self-possession, propriety, cleanliness" according to Spivak's note on her translation of Grammatology) is the opposite of alterior. In Derrida's case, "the effacement of writing in the logos" becomes part of "the metaphysics of the proper" (Derrida 26).13 In Levinas's philosophy, language, like theory or desire, implies an Other: "Language presupposes interlocutors" {Totality and Infinity 73). The I and the Other cannot even be comprehended within a single concept, since that would make the Other's alterity relative, not absolute {Totality and Infinity 39). Language as conversation is not simply a matter of reflectiveness or self-discovery: "One does not question oneself concerning [an Other]; one questions him" {Totality and Infinity Al). Moreover, while the same and the Other relate to one another in language, they remain distinct and do not become simply definable as opposites to one another: "For language accomplishes a relation such that the terms are not limitrophe14 within this relation" {Totality and Infinity 39). Levinas also seems to anticipate and disagree with Derrida when he writes that the word allows the Other to be present, rather than absent as in his works or in a symbol, but the word only has this function when "disengaged from its density as a linguistic product" {Totality and Infinity 111). It is not qua structural linguistics that the word represents alterity, but as an address coming from the Other. "Language in its physical 13Derrida's emphasis, and the translator's note. 14Surprisingly, this obscure term is not a neologism created by the translator. It has a use going back at least as far as the sixteenth century, when it indicated a frontier zone {OED, sb). Levinas seems to be using it here to indicate an understanding of the relationship of self and Other by which they touch upon and mutually delimit one another, while his own philosophy insists that the experience of conversation is not one in which self and Other are merely logical opposites which, following Heidegger, might need one another or might be deconstructed by a Derridean. L a w r e n c e 7 5 m a t e r i a l i t y " i s s i m i l a r l y n o t a n a t t i t u d e t o w a r d s t h e O t h e r ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , l a n g u a g e i s m o r e r a d i c a l l y " a n a t t i t u d e o f t h e s a m e w i t h r e g a r d t o t h e O t h e r i r r e d u c i b l e t o t h e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e O t h e r , i r r e d u c i b l e t o a n i n t e n t i o n o f t h o u g h t , i r r e d u c i b l e t o a c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f . . . " {Totality and Infinity 2 0 4 ; L e v i n a s ' s e l l i p s i s ) . J o h n W i l d i n t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n t o Totality and Infinity, s u m m a r i z e s L e v i n a s ' s v i e w o f t h e O t h e r b y s a y i n g t h a t t h e O t h e r " d o e s n o t m e r e l y p r e s e n t m e w i t h l i f e l e s s s i g n s i n t o w h i c h I a m f r e e t o r e a d m e a n i n g s o f m y o w n " ( W i l d 1 4 ) . T h e O t h e r , L e v i n a s s p e c i f i e s , i s n o t t h e a n s w e r t o a q u e s t i o n , a c h a l l e n g e I m i g h t m a k e t o w a r d s h i m , f o r i n s t a n c e . O n t h e c o n t r a r y , " H e t o w h o m t h e q u e s t i o n i s p u t has already presented himself, w i t h o u t b e i n g a c o n t e n t . H e h a s p r e s e n t e d h i m s e l f a s a f a c e " {Totality and Infinity 1 7 7 ) . I n t h e f i r s t l i n e s o f S h a k e s p e a r e ' s Hamlet, b e f o r e t h e g h o s t a p p e a r s , B a m a r d o c h a l l e n g e s F r a n c i s c o - " W h o ' s t h e r e ? " - b u t o n l y d r a w s a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n i n r e s p o n s e : " N a y , a n s w e r m e . S t a n d a n d u n f o l d y o u r s e l f ( 1 . 1 . 1 - 2 ) . T h e e f f o r t t o i n t e r r o g a t e a n O t h e r , t o m a k e h i m o r h e r a n o b j e c t o f m y k n o w l e d g e , b r e a k s d o w n w h e n t h e O t h e r i n t e r r o g a t e s m e , i n s t e a d . T h e q u e s t i o n o f " w h o i s i t ? " i s " n o t a q u e s t i o n a n d n o t s a t i s f i e d b y a k n o w i n g " {Totality and Infinity 111). I n s t e a d o f e x p l a i n i n g t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e f a c e o f t h e O t h e r a s k n o w l e d g e , L e v i n a s r e f e r s t o i t a s j u s t i c e : "We call justice this face to face approach, in conversation" {Totality and Infinity 7 1 ) . A f e w p a g e s l a t e r , L e v i n a s s p e c i f i e s t h a t " T o r e c o g n i z e t h e O t h e r i s t o g i v e " {Totality and Infinity 7 5 ) , d e s c r i b i n g t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p i n t e r m s o f g e n e r o s i t y r a t h e r t h a n g r a s p . F i n a l l y , L e v i n a s c o n s i d e r s t h i s f a c e - t o - f a c e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e O t h e r i n e s c a p a b l e . E v e n n o t t o g i v e , t o r e f u s e , s t i l l r e c o g n i z e s " t h e g a z e o f t h e s t r a n g e r , t h e w i d o w a n d t h e o r p h a n " {Totality and Infinity 11). A s t h e v i o l e n t a n x i e t i e s u n l e a s h e d b y t h e s p e c t r e o f t h e O t h e r i n King Lear w o u l d s e e m t o c o n f i r m , t h e s e l f i s n o t s i m p l y f r e e t o a c c e p t o r d i s r e g a r d t h e O t h e r . L e v i n a s , b y w a y o f a c o r o l l a r y t o o r p e r h a p s i m a g e o f f a v o u r i n g g e n e r o s i t y t o w a r d s t h e O t h e r o v e r k n o w l e d g e o f t h e O t h e r , a l s o f a v o u r s t h e s p o k e n o v e r t h e w r i t t e n w o r d . A s a l r e a d y L a w r e n c e 7 6 e x p l a i n e d , t h e s p o k e n w o r d i s u n d e r s t o o d , t h r o u g h o u t L e v i n a s ' s w o r k , a s i n v a s i v e o r s u b v e r s i v e , w h e r e a s t h e v i s u a l r e p r e s e n t s s a t i s f a c t i o n b e c a u s e i t s o b j e c t r e m a i n s , a t l e a s t i n p r i n c i p l e , w i t h i n m y g r a s p . H e n c e , L e v i n a s t r ea t s t h e f a c e n o t a s a m a t e r i a l o b j e c t b u t a s t h a t w h i c h " f o r m u l a t e s t h e f i r s t w o r d : t h e s i g n i f i e r a r i s i n g at t h e t h r u s t o f h i s s i g n , a s e y e s t h a t l o o k a t y o u " {Totality and Infinity 1 7 8 ) . T h e o r i g i n a l s i g n i f i c a t i o n , t o L e v i n a s , i s t h i s f a c e t o f a c e r e l a t i o n : " i t i s n o t t h e m e d i a t i o n o f t h e s i g n t h a t f o r m s s i g n i f i c a t i o n , b u t s i g n i f i c a t i o n ( w h o s e p r i m o r d i a l e v e n t . i s t h e f a c e t o f a c e ) t h a t m a k e s t h e s i g n f u n c t i o n p o s s i b l e " {Totality and Infinity 2 0 6 ) . T h e O t h e r p r e s e n t s h i m s e l f b y s p e a k i n g {Totality and Infinity 6 6 ) . W h e r e t h e w r i t t e n w o r d i s a l w a y s a l r e a d y p a s t , a n d c a n b e t h e m a t i z e d as h i s t o r y , t h e O t h e r p e r s o n r e t u r n s t h e w o r d t o t h e a c t u a l i t y a n d i m m e d i a c y o f s p e e c h {Totality and Infinity 6 9 ) . T h e s p o k e n l a n g u a g e , L e v i n a s s p e c i f i e s , i s g r e a t e r t h a n t h e w r i t t e n l a n g u a g e i n t h a t i t , a n d i t a l o n e , c a n c o n v e y t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e O t h e r , w h e r e a s s i g n s c o n s t i t u t e o n l y " a m u t e l a n g u a g e , a l a n g u a g e i m p e d e d " {Totality and Infinity 1 8 2 ) . L e v i n a s i s h e r e a n t i c i p a t i n g , b u t r e j e c t i n g , t h e s o - c a l l e d d e a t h o f t h e a u t h o r . T h e a b i l i t y o f s i g n s t o p l a y a m o n g t h e m s e l v e s , t o e x i s t i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f a p e r s o n w h o p r e s e n t s h i m s e l f i n t h e m , d o e s n o t , f o r L e v i n a s , r e p r e s e n t a s a l u t o r y l i b e r a t i o n o f t h e s i g n from t h e h u m a n i s t s u b j e c t ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , t h i s a n o n y m i t y o f t h e w r i t t e n s i g n i s p r e c i s e l y w h a t r e n d e r s i t " a m u t e l a n g u a g e , a l a n g u a g e i m p e d e d . " H e m a k e s a h i g h l y P l a t o n i c , d e e p l y u n - D e r r i d e a n , a r g u m e n t t h a t s p e e c h i s a b l e t o t e a c h , w h e r e a s w r i t i n g c a n n o t , b e c a u s e o n l y s p e e c h c a n p r e s e n t m e w i t h " t h i n g s a n d i d e a s " w h i c h a r e o u t s i d e o f m y s e l f " a n d n o t , l i k e m a i e u t i c s , awaken [ t h e m ] i n m e " {Totality and Infinity 6 9 ) . L i k e w i s e r h e t o r i c , b y w h i c h o n e a d d r e s s e s t h e O t h e r o n l y a s " a n o b j e c t o r a n i n f a n t , o r a m a n o f t h e m u l t i t u d e , a s P l a t o s a y s " d o e s n o t q u a l i f y a s a t r u e c o m m u n i c a t i o n {Totality and Infinity 7 0 ) . I n p h e n o m e n a l i t y , L e v i n a s w r i t e s , " n o t h i n g i s u l t i m a t e , [. . .] e v e r y t h i n g i s a s i g n , a p r e s e n t a b s e n t i n g i t s e l f f r o m its p r e s e n c e a n d i n t h i s s e n s e a d r e a m " {Totality and Infinity 1 7 8 ) . T h e O t h e r , h e c l a i m s , e s c a p e s t h i s p l a y o f s i g n s , b e c a u s e h e i s n o t r e p r e s e n t e d b y a s i g n : " T h e Lawrence 77 signifier, he who gives a sign, is not signified" (Totality and Infinity 182). This is not to deny that speech can fall into non-speech, into another form of mastery through rhetoric, or become an activity or a product, like writing. This secondary non-speech "is to pure speech what writing for graphologists is to the written expression for the reader" (Totality and Infinity 182). Perhaps Levinas should have written "grammatologists." In any case, for Levinas a responsible reading would return from the play of signs as anonymous to the expression of the Other who gives them life, from what he would later, in Otherwise than Being, term a move from the Said to the Saying. Much of my description of the play's so-called sight imagery is influenced by Cavell. In terms of his understanding of sight and hearing, as in so much else, Cavell's theory seems surprisingly close to Levinas's. Like Levinas, Cavell is deeply concerned with the limits of knowledge, and with the ethical problems involved in reducing the Other to an object of our knowledge. This fascination becomes particularly clear in the chapter entitled "Knowing and Acknowledging," which immediately precedes "The Avoidance of Love" in Must We Mean What We Say? and in a further consideration of the same issues in a chapter of The Claim of Reason, entitled "Between Acknowledgement and Avoidance." The problem which vexes Cavell in these two essays, and which he finds meditated upon in Shakespeare's King Lear, is the problem of how to maintain a relationship with another. This is, moreover, a pressing question, as he makes clear in The Claim of Reason by way of a declaration that Narcissus would have nothing to say to himself, or at least, nothing that would matter: "Narcissus can question himself, but he cannot give himself an answer he can care about" (Claim of Reason 331). True communication, as in Levinas, is with another. The question is restated slightly later in terms of the difficulty of knowing another person's pain, which leads more generally to the problem of "our access to one another, that we have this access at all" (Claim of Reason 340). In a move somewhat similar to Lawrence 78 Levinas's declaration that the Other represents the limits of my freedom, Cavell claims that there is a point at which we can't control the Other's response, "at which the path of our communication depends upon your taking the next step" (Claim of Reason 358-9). One's feeling in trying to enter into the other's mind is "one of being powerless" (Must We Mean 261). The Other's self-expression is therefore not entirely within the domain of my intentionality: her word must be expressed by her, before it can be grasped by me. Cavell draws upon the dismissal of anthropomorphism by theology as an argument against understanding the Other by analogy: "Call the argument autological: it yields at best a mind too like mine. It leaves out the otherness of the other" (Claim of Reason 395).15 Despite the evident difference between Cavell's background, rooted in Anglo-American philosophy and Wittgenstein, and Levinas's phenomenology and Talmudism, both show a strong commitment to the radical alterity of the Other. To Cavell one is responsible for one's separation from the Other, despite being unable to choose it: We are endlessly separate, for no reason. But then we are answerable for everything that comes between us; if not for causing it then for continuing it; if not for denying it then for affirming it; if not for it then to it. (Claim of Reason 369) Human separation is therefore as tragic for Cavell as it is for Levinas, to whom, as I will show in chapter five, the inescapable singularity of the self is fundamental to the horror of tragedy. Reflecting on the order of essays in Must We Mean What We Say?, Cavell argued that he had juxtaposed the essay on the problem of other minds, "Knowing and Acknowledging," with his 15It should be noted that this argument comes in a section written as dialogue, between two voices. The passage seems to carry a certain authorial weight, but it would be wrong to overstate it. Moreover, it should also be noted that Cavell immediately expresses reservations concerning the argument against the anthropomorphites. Lawrence 79 famous essay on King Lear in hope of prompting an inquiry into how both skepticism and tragedy end with a renewed sense of our separation from one another, "a discovery that I am I." The "avoidances that tragedy studies" are studies in failed acknowledgement (Claim of Reason 389). Of course, Cavell recognizes that acknowledgement itself is the object of a certain anxiety, as recognition of an Other prompts an anxiety analyzed by Levinas. 1 6 Where according to Levinas one who knows is at least intellectually active, and has a certain grasp of the known object, according to Cavell, to be known involves becoming passive, "the special requirement of passivity in being known, the thing I have sometimes described as letting oneself be known, and as waiting to be known" (Claim of Reason 459). Narcissism is the claim of being unknowable (Claim of Reason 463), and therefore the opposite of that passivity involved in being known. In fact, being unable to care about the other, or being impenetrable to the other's gaze, are both fantasies of separation. Privacy is a fantasy in this sense (Claim of Reason 366), and so is the fantasy of "necessary inexpressiveness," since "it would relieve me of the responsibility for making myself known to others" (Claim of Reason 351). What we refer to as the "necessary or metaphysical hiddenness of the other" is really our own failing. Avoidance is an effort to avoid, specifically, "a call upon me" (Claim of Reason 428). This avoidance itself, however, leads inevitably back to "the problem of the other," so that "Either way," by acknowledging or by failing to acknowledge, "I implicate myself in his existence" (Claim of Reason 430). Quite apart from the fact that attempts at avoidance can fail (which they can [Claim of Reason 433]), "the concept of acknowledgement is evidenced equally by its failure as by its success" (Must We 1 6 And Jean-Paul Sartre who, George Steiner speculates, could have been heavily influenced in his own philosophy of the Other from contact with Levinas in the late 1940s (Steiner 25). Lawrence 80 Mean 263). " M y hand is ever stretched out," writes Cavell elsewhere, "even in the form of a fist. It shows that I want something of another" {Claim of Reason 439). Avoidance is not merely a lack, "a piece of ignorance, an absence of something, a blank" {Must We Mean 264). On the contrary, it is a positive gesture on my part, "a confusion, an indifference, a callousness, an exhaustion, a coldness" {Must We Mean 264). In tragedy, we face the price of this avoidance, this failure to acknowledge {Claim of Reason 493); nevertheless, we must recognize that this failure springs from a certain anxiety regarding the Other, which is overcome neither by doubt nor by certainty. Cavell expounds a statement of Wittgenstein to conclude that "in speaking of other minds, the skeptic is not skeptical enough: the other is still left, along with his knowledge of himself; so am I, along with mine" {Claim of Reason 353). A head-on attack on skepticism concerning other minds would miss the truth of skepticism, "that certainty is not enough" {Must We Mean 261). Even being certain that another person was in pain-even, in fact, feeling that pain as one's own-would nevertheless leave "a phenomenological pang" {Must We Mean 253). We can, or at least should, neither dismiss the Other entirely, by a really destructive skepticism, nor defeat skepticism; on the contrary, we must remember our skepticism, suspending knowledge in order to acknowledge other people {Claim of Reason 439). Skepticism concerning other minds can never be skeptical enough, but it can be lived. In fact, as Cavell argues (or rather, records as an intuition): "with respect to the external world, an initial sanity requires recognizing that I cannot live my skepticism, whereas with respect to others a final sanity requires recognizing that I can. I do" {Claim of Reason 451). Were our anxiety regarding the other overcome by certainty, then knowledge would be a sufficient response to the other, since knowledge implies certainty, at least in its normal use {Must We Mean 255). On the contrary, what is needed is not knowledge of the other-as i f I did Lawrence 81 not know enough about him-but acknowledgement of the other, a distinction which is at the heart of Cavell's argument: "One could say: Acknowledgement goes beyond knowledge. (Goes beyond not, so to speak, in the order of knowledge, but in its requirement that I do something or reveal something on the basis of that knowledge)" {Must We Mean 257). Skepticism regarding the Other is lived, Cavell argues, when we seem disappointed by our knowledge of other people, as though we have, or have lost, some picture of what knowing another, or being known by another, would really come to-a harmony, a concord, a union, a transparence, a governance, a power-against which our actual successes at knowing, and being known, are poor things. {Claim of Reason 440) It is not that knowledge actually fails, that we fall into ignorance, but that it threatens to succeed in reducing the other to an object of cognition. Hence, Cavell's explanation of why he turned from philosophy to literature in order to address the problem of the other: The problem of the other was always known, or surmised, not to be a problem of knowledge, or rather not to result from a disappointment over a failure of knowledge, but from a disappointment over its success (even, from a horror of its success). {Claim of Reason 476) In Cavell as in Levinas, contact with the other depends on him or her expressing him or herself, perhaps falsely. "At some stage," he writes, "the skeptic is going to be impressed by the fact that my knowledge of others depends upon their expressing themselves" {Must We Mean 254). Again like Levinas, Cavell argues that the meaning of words returns to their importance as the expression of another: My words are my expressions of my life; I respond to the words of others as their expressions, i.e., respond not merely to what their words mean but equally to their meaning of them. I take them to mean ("imply") something in or by their words; or to be L a w r e n c e 8 2 s p e a k i n g i r o n i c a l l y , e t c . O f c o u r s e m y e x p r e s s i o n s a n d m y r e s p o n s e s m a y n o t b e a c c u r a t e . T o i m a g i n e a n e x p r e s s i o n ( e x p e r i e n c e t h e m e a n i n g o f a w o r d ) i s t o i m a g i n e i t a s g i v i n g e x p r e s s i o n t o a s o u l . (Claim of Reason 3 5 5 ) I n t h i s s e n s e , t h e b o d y a s a w h o l e i s t h e s i g n o r " e x p r e s s i o n " o f t h e s o u l (Claim of Reason 3 5 6 - 7 ) . C a v e l l ' s v e r s i o n o f e x p r e s s i o n i s n o t a s r a d i c a l a s L e v i n a s ' s : r a t h e r t h a n t h e o t h e r e x p r e s s i n g h i m s e l f b y s i m p l y b e i n g , t h e o t h e r s t i l l m e a n s s o m e t h i n g f o r C a v e l l ; h i s s p e e c h h a s a c o n t e n t c o n c u r r e n t w i t h h i s s e l f - p r e s e n t a t i o n , r a t h e r t h a n p r i o r t o h i s s e l f - p r e s e n t a t i o n . N e v e r t h e l e s s , w e f i n d o u r s e l v e s e x p o s e d t o t h e o t h e r , i n t h e e v e r y d a y : " I d o n o t p i c t u r e m y e v e r y d a y k n o w l e d g e o f o t h e r s a s c o n f i n e d b u t a s e x p o s e d . " A g a i n , h o w e v e r , e x p o s u r e i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y t o a n O t h e r , s t a n d i n g o u t s i d e m e , a n d t o a c o n c e p t o f m y o w n t h o u g h t : " I n k n o w i n g o t h e r s , I a m e x p o s e d o n t w o f r o n t s : t o t h e o t h e r ; a n d t o m y c o n c e p t o f t h e o t h e r " (Claim of Reason 4 3 2 ) . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h i s c o n c e p t o f t h e o t h e r i s i t s e l f f o r e g r o u n d e d , a n d t h e r e f o r e q u e s t i o n e d a n d s u b v e r t e d , b y t h e p r o c e s s o f e x p o s u r e : " B e i n g e x p o s e d t o m y c o n c e p t o f t h e o t h e r i s b e i n g e x p o s e d t o m y a s s u r a n c e i n a p p l y i n g i t , I m e a n t o t h e f a c t t h a t t h i s a s s u r a n c e i s mine, c o m e s o n l y f r o m m e " (Claim of Reason 4 3 3 ) . M y a b i l i t y t o h o l d t h e o t h e r a s t h e o b j e c t o f w h a t L e v i n a s c a l l s " o b j e c t c o g n i t i o n , " a n d t h e r e f o r e t o r e t u r n t o m y s e l f , i s c a l l e d i n t o q u e s t i o n b y C a v e l l ' s a r g u m e n t . C a v e l l ' s r h e t o r i c s e v e r a l t i m e s m a k e s a s t r o n g d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e i m m e d i a c y o f s e e i n g , a n d t h e r e f o r e b e i n g c e r t a i n , w i t h r e c o g n i t i o n a n d a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t . H e c o n t r a s t s , f o r i n s t a n c e , t h e c e r t a i n t y o f s e e i n g w i t h t h e u n c e r t a i n l y o f r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e O t h e r : t o b a s e y o u r c l a i m t o k n o w l e d g e o f a t h i n g o n y o u r h a v i n g s e e n i t i s g e n e r a l l y t o s t a k e f u l l a u t h o r i t y f o r y o u r c l a i m ; w h e r e a s t o b a s e y o u r c l a i m t o k n o w l e d g e o f a p e r s o n o n t h a t p e r s o n ' s b e h a v i o r i s g e n e r a l l y t o w i t h h o l d f u l l a u t h o r i t y f r o m y o u r c l a i m . (Claim of Reason 4 4 5 - 4 6 ) L a t e r , C a v e l l c o n s t r a s t s m a t e r i a l o b j e c t s , " t h a t I see t h e m , s e e them" w i t h " e m p a t h i c p r o j e c t i o n " Lawrence 83 towards other persons (Claim of Reason 421). He goes on to show the failings of empathic projection, and its inability to end skepticism concerning other minds, but it suffices to note here that the logic of sight does not manage to end such skepticism, either. "A statue, a stone," as Cavell says in reference to Othello, "is something whose existence is fundamentally open to the ocular proof. A human being is not" (Claim of Reason 496). To conclude this brief treatment of Stanley Cavell's treatment of alterity, I would like to point out that neither Levinas's "responsibility" nor Cavell's "acknowledgement" fundamentally undercut the self s integrity, though both seem to do so, and even threaten to. To both thinkers, moreover, one relates to oneself, in "a stand" as Cavell says (Claim of Reason 386), or in finding place and therefore hypostasis in Levinas's Existence and Existents. To allow oneself to be acknowledged, according to Cavell, "means allowing yourself to be comprehended" (Claim of Reason 383), and we should, I think, read into the word "comprehended" all its philological associations with being swallowed up in something else, losing individuality.17 Nevertheless, for Levinas, the Other provides a "salvation" from the horrors of anonymous existence, a horror not overcome by the existent who remains enchained to his being (Existence and Existents 91). In marked similitude to Levinas finding in the Other the possibility of salvation, Cavell claims that to recognize a stranger is to individuate oneself: "The moment at which I singled out my stranger, was the moment at which I also singled out myself (Claim of Reason 429). 'While it may be the object of anxiety, the Other ultimately offers both philosophers the possibility of securing the self in its identity. While Cavell's argument regarding choosing oneself when one chooses "my stranger" indicates a strong similarity between the ideas of Cavell and Levinas, it nevertheless also opens up an important distinction between them. Cavell favourably cites both Thoreau and Nietzsche 17See chapter four for the philology of this term, especially with regard to Descartes. Lawrence 84 on freedom as a grasp {Claim of Reason 384), and it seems in the sentence just quoted that one is free to choose one's other, rather than being chosen. For Cavell, tragedy is found in the avoidance of another, and hence in the avoidance of knowing oneself {Claim of Reason 389). To acknowledge, according to Cavell, is a matter of seeing another, but ultimately this recognition of the Other comes back to the Socratic injunction to know oneself. Perhaps this quibble is as much a matter of emphasis as of substance. Cavell is most closely engaged with Wittgenstein, after all, not with Heidegger. He did not spend the postwar period arguing against the exaggerated self- reflectiveness of phenomenology and its derivative, French existentialism, nor does he have the burning need to return to an ethical foundation that precedes the ground of being. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Cavell's acknowledgement takes place in the everyday, whereas Levinas's is radical. Where Cavell generally offers borderline cases, to call into question the normal way in which we approach the world in the post-enlightenment period, Levinas's notions are radical, returning to the root of how we generally understand the world in terms of knowledge, and knowledge starting from the self. It seems capable, in other words, of providing criticism with an ethical basis outside and even prior to the various ultimately self-interested negotiations in terms of which New Historicists especially tend to understand the world. While a conception of the world starting from competition between selves is clearly important to historicism, it also has a central place in older traditions of thought, notably stoicism. In his article on stoicism in King Lear, Ben Schneider cites Epictetus to the effect that Fortune controls all but one's body and one's will (Schneider 38). Perhaps the best example of a stoic character is Kent, whose self-mastery approaches Socratic levels, and allows him to face Fortune with an imperturbability that borders on enthusiasm: "Fortune, good night; smile once more; turn thy wheel!" (2.2.169). While he obviously wants Fortune to return Lear to power, he also seems to be embracing whatever fortune might bring about; his prayer is not specifically for L a w r e n c e 8 5 a r e t u r n t o p o w e r o f L e a r , a n d h i s s t o i c i s m i s n o t l i m i t e d b y s u c h a d e s i r e . L e v i n a s ' s d e f i n i t i o n o f k n o w l e d g e as g r a s p s h o w s s t r o n g a f f i n i t i e s , i n f a c t , w i t h s t o i c d o c t r i n e s i n s o f a r a s t h e y a r e r e f l e c t e d i n t h e p l a y . K n o w l e d g e , i n t h e p l a y , i s u n d e r s t o o d a s i n t e g r i t y o r s e l f - m a s t e r y , m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l t h a n s o c i a l p o s i t i o n . " I w o u l d u n s t a t e m y s e l f , " s a y s G l o u c e s t e r , " t o b e i n a d u e r e s o l u t i o n , " as i n d e e d h e d o e s ( 1 . 2 . 9 6 - 9 7 ) . S i m i l a r l y , L e a r o n a w a k e n i n g f i n d s h i m s e l f d i s o r i e n t e d , u n a b l e t o k n o w h i m s e l f a n d s e e k i n g a s s u r a n c e " O f m y c o n d i t i o n " : W h e r e h a v e I b e e n ? W h e r e a m I? F a i r d a y l i g h t ? I a m m i g h t i l y a b u s ' d . I s h o u l d e ' e n d i e w i t h p i t y T o s e e a n o t h e r t h u s . I k n o w n o t w h a t t o s a y : I w i l l n o t s w e a r t h e s e a r e m y h a n d s : [. . .] W o u l d I w e r e a s s u r ' d O f m y c o n d i t i o n . ( 4 . 7 . 5 2 - 5 7 ) A f e w l i n e s l a t e r , h e t r i e s t o g u e s s w h e r e h e i s a n d f a i l s , p a t h e t i c a l l y ( 4 . 7 . 7 5 - 7 7 ) . A c c o r d i n g t o L e v i n a s , hypostasis, b e i n g a b l e t o c a l l o n e s e l f b y a n a m e , i s t h e b e g i n n i n g o f f r e e d o m , t h o u g h i t i s f a r m o r e f u n d a m e n t a l t h a n a n y s o r t o f p o l i t i c a l c o n c e r n : " t h e f r e e d o m o f t h e e x i s t e n t i n i t s v e r y g r i p o n e x i s t i n g " {Time and the Other 5 4 ) . L e a r c e r t a i n l y c a r e s a b o u t w h o a n d w h e r e h e i s b e f o r e h e s tar t s a s k i n g q u e s t i o n s a b o u t t h e c u r r e n t b a l a n c e o f p o w e r . H i s a n x i o u s q u e s t i o n s a r e p o s e d , i n f a c t , at a m o m e n t o f c o m p l e t e p o l i t i c a l p a s s i v i t y , w h e n a s u d d e n l y h u m b l e d L e a r i s a b l e t o t e l l C o r d e l i a t h a t , " I f y o u h a v e p o i s o n f o r m e , I w i l l d r i n k i t " ( 4 . 7 . 7 2 ) . W h i l e h e m i g h t b e a t t e m p t i n g t o g a i n , i f n o t p o w e r , at l e a s t l o v e b y t h i s g e s t u r e , i t s e e m s s o m e w h a t e x t r e m e t o b e e n t i r e l y u n d e r s t o o d a s a g a m b i t , c a l c u l a t e d t o g a i n s o m e t h i n g . B o t h G l o u c e s t e r a n d L e a r a r e c o n c e r n e d w i t h s e l f - k n o w l e d g e , b e f o r e t h e y a r e c o n c e r n e d w i t h p o l i t i c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n o r c o m m a n d . Lawrence 86 The question of self-knowledge nevertheless has political ramifications. Goneril, for instance, considers the fact that Lear is no longer master of himself, that he is "full of changes" to serve as a sufficient reason to further reduce his power. Her sister later suggests that . . . you should be rul'd and led By some discretion that discerns your state Better than you yourself. (2.4.145-47) hi both the sisters's minds, knowledge is central to self-control and therefore the necessary precondition of personal freedom, much less political power. The struggle between Goneril and Lear on whether he should maintain a train of knights takes the form of debating whether the knights "know." Goneril suggests that they should be replaced by "such men as may besort your age, / Which know themselves, and you" (1.4.248-49). Lear, after a suitably enraged interval, responds that his followers "all particulars of duty know, / And in the most exact regard, support / The worships of their name" (1.4.262-64). The idea of knowledge as self-knowledge has a continuing importance as an implicit assumption of Lear criticism, finding expression not only in Schneider's somewhat obscure article on stoicism in King Lear, but also and more importantly in Harry Berger's challenging and provocative Making Terrors of Trifles. While such readings recognize the anxieties preying upon the characters in the play, and the importance of issues of self, they tend to obscure the problem of acknowledging others by turning it into a circular gesture, wherein one ultimately recognizes only oneself. Berger generously recognizes the influence which Cavell's essay had on him, an influence so profound that he found himself actively resisting it (Berger xii). His own variation on Cavell's theory, however, exaggerates Cavell's tendency (described on page 38) to make acknowledgement a self-reflective activity. Guilt, in Berger's work, is understood as an awareness of the failure of acknowledgement, "the failure, that is, to acknowledge one's Lawrence 87 complicity in what has been done to others or to oneself (Berger xiii). Cavell's argument that acknowledgement "is entangled in the diffidence of apologetic speech acts" is given a particular twist by Berger, when he argues that the characters fail "to acknowledge complicity to themselves" (Berger xii). Within this context, acknowledgement, rather than being a recognition of other people, becomes an almost entirely self-reflective process: "the Other is internalized" as Berger says, and "the sinner is forced to become his or her own confessor, audience, judge and inquisitor" (Berger xiv). In fact, the sinner only seeks punishment from others out of a "suspicion of bad faith" (Berger xx-xxi). Writing on the character of King Lear, he argues that "aggression against others, the projective distortion of guilt feelings, is the bad faith that creates, intensifies, and festers the darkest purpose," which Berger defines as the urge towards self- punishment (Berger 35). If knowledge begins with self-knowledge, and therefore self-mastery, Berger elides the radicality of acknowledgement, as a limit on knowledge before the Other, in making it ultimately a knowledge of oneself, in a psychology which internalizes and therefore excludes the Other. One would assume, following Berger's more or less existential language, that "good faith" would be something like a conscious anxiety before one's own possibilities for being, or perhaps constitutes true authenticity. On the other hand, though, nothing guarantees that what is authentic would also be good. Isn't Cornwall acting in complete, if psychopathic, authenticity when, before blinding Gloucester, he says that "our power / Shall do a court'sy to our wrath" (3.7.25-26)? At least one character in the play follows (or rather, precedes) Berger in viewing confession as acknowledging oneself. Immediately after recognizing Gloucester as a means of preferment and before attempting to kill him, the Steward instructs him with horrible perfunctoriness to "Briefly thy self remember: the sword is out / That must destroy thee" (4.6.226-27). Surely, though, this instance represents the very opposite of acknowledging Lawrence 88 another person. To know oneself may represent virtue to the stoic, but it is not the same thing as recognizing an ethical obligation impinging from without. The blindness of the characters (sometimes literalized) is to the other person. In a number of instances, knowledge is directly aligned with power in the play. Goneril, plotting against Lear, declares that "I know his heart" (1.4.329) and, a few lines later, specifically contrasts "wisdom" with "mildness" (1.4.342-43). Edmund, before the final battle, seeks certainty in the form of military intelligence: Know of the Duke if his last purpose hold Or whether since he is advis'd by aught To change the course; he's full of alteration And self-reproving; bring his constant pleasure. (5.1.1-4) The last clause can be understood as either a call to bring continuous, up-to-the-minute reports, or, more likely, as a demand to uncover Albany's fixed intention.18 Albany's decision has to be "constant" in order for it to qualify as knowable, and therefore to be something calculable within a military operation. One might note one further point about this speech: in the quarto text, Albany is accused of being full of "abdication," rather than "alteration." Not only does this term anticipate Albany's later surrender of power to Edgar and Kent (who also abdicates), but also it intimates how a failure of Gloucester's "resolution," his self-mastery and knowledge, can also lead to political failure, though, like Gloucester's need for resolution, Albany's ethical quandary is more fundamental than politics. The search for knowledge by way of control is not limited to the so-called evil 1 8 As Kenneth Muir argues in the notes to the play, glossing "constant pleasure" as "fixed decision" and citing 1.1.42. Lawrence 89 characters. Edgar claims to "know" Oswald: 1 9 I know thee well. A serviceable villain, As duteous to the vices of thy mistress, As badness would desire. (4.6.249-51) In fact, Edgar has shown no previous familiarity with Oswald, though it isn't hard to imagine that they might have met or at least heard of one another. Nevertheless, Edgar is determined to reduce him to a type, a sort of mental shorthand by which to know people. As audience, we are perhaps inclined to agree with his description of Oswald, and Oswald quite possibly represents a type of evil servant, that the audience is expected to simply recognize for the sake of the plot. Cavell argues that we enact fictionality when we fail to acknowledge (Cavell 104). It is a mark of Oswald's fictionality, therefore, that he is known rather than acknowledged. What is strangely metadramatic in this moment is that Edgar also treats him as something to be known, and therefore as fictional. Rather than referring to an earlier (for the reader or audience member, imagined) encounter, Edgar's statement shows his need, as Levinas says, to deploy "the labour of thought" to conquer "the otherness of things and men" ("Ethics as First Philosophy" 78). Cavell might put things slightly differently, that knowledge is an effort to avoid acknowledgement. Lear makes a similar effort, describing and defining Poor Tom with Montaignian abstractness, as an example of the condition humaine: Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou ow'st the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on's are sophisticated; thou art the thing itself. (3.4.100-04) Where Montaigne's Apology for Raymond Sebond tended towards inspiring humility, however, Lear's speech helps him to (temporarily) ignore Edgar as a person, in favour of Edgar as the 1 9 Or at least, of the Steward, whose identity with Oswald is generally assumed. Lawrence 90 representative of a general human malaise. Lear remains, in fact, in a position of at least intellectual control, pontificating in the rain. Similarly, Lear attempts to define and describe Regan, as if ascribing good qualities to her would actually make her kind: Tis not in thee To grudge my pleasures, to cut off my train, To bandy hasty words, to scant my sizes, And, in conclusion, to oppose the bolt Against my coming in. (2.4.96-97) Lear attempts to know people in order to reduce the threat which they pose as Other. "Thematization or conceptualization," writes Levinas, "are not peace with the other but suppression or possession of the other." Possession, he argues, "affirms the other, but within the negation of its independence" (Totality and Infinity 46). By closely defining Regan, Lear attempts to deny her independence, instead tying her identity to a concept of her which is his own, and which he therefore ultimately controls. The relation between knowing, power and eyesight, and their distinction from love is presented most strongly by, of all people, Goneril. In the first scene, she answers Lear's question, "Which of you shall we say doth love us most?" by contrasting her love to the value of eyesight: "Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter, / Dearer than eye-sight, space and liberty" (1.1.50, 54-55). Of course, Goneril is a self-serving flatterer, but the structure of her argument is indicative of a general depiction of eyesight throughout the play in terms of personal freedom and an ability to grasp and appropriate: "space and liberty." It is, in this example as elsewhere, opposed to love, just as knowledge is opposed to acknowledgement. Lear also describes his power and authority in terms of eyesight. Suddenly feeling himself insubstantial, he asks "Does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?" (1.4.224). On the other hand, L a w r e n c e 91 i n t h e final s c e n e a h u m b l e d L e a r c o n f e s s e s t h a t " M i n e e y e s a r e n o t o ' t h ' b e s t , " r e f u s i n g p o s i t i v e l y t o i d e n t i f y K e n t ( 5 . 3 . 2 5 0 , 5 4 - 5 5 ) . D e r e k P e a t h a s g o n e s o f a r a s t o s a y t h a t t h e a u d i e n c e i t s e l f l e a r n s n o t t o t r u s t i t s e y e s , c o n f r o n t e d b y t h e p l a y ' s s t a g e ( P e a t 4 8 ) . J a n K o t t p l a c e s t h e f a i l u r e o f e y e s i g h t a t t h e h e a r t o f h i s r e a d i n g o f t h e p l a y a s p a n t o m i m e . I n h i s r e a d i n g , t h e s c e n e ' s r e a l i s m i s c e n t r a l t o t h e d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t n o t o n l y o f G l o u c e s t e r , b u t a l s o o f t h e a u d i e n c e . T h i s r e a l i s m , h o w e v e r , i s u n d e r s t o o d i n p r i m a r i l y v i s u a l t e r m s . E d g a r ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e s c e n e f r o m t h e t o p o f t h e c l i f f i s " l i k e a B r u e g e l p a i n t i n g t h i c k w i t h p e o p l e , o b j e c t s a n d e v e n t s " ( K o t t 1 4 3 ) . I n d e e d , a s a n u m b e r o f c r i t i c s h a v e n o t e d , t h e s c e n e s t r e t c h e s o u t t o w a r d s a d i s a p p e a r i n g p o i n t , t h e c o c k o f t h e " t a l l , a n c h o r i n g b a r k " i n t h e d i s t a n c e . E d g a r ' s r h e t o r i c i s a s o r t o f i n t e l l e c t u a l camera obscura, r e d u c i n g t h e s i t u a t i o n t o t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f a s i n g l e v i e w e r . S o u n d s a r e a b s e n t f r o m t h e s c e n e : f r o m t h e t o p o f t h e i m a g i n a r y c l i f f , " t h e m u r m u r i n g s u r g e , / [ . . . ] / C a n n o t b e h e a r d " ( 4 . 6 . 1 8 - 2 2 ) . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , C o l m a n , i n h i s v a r i a t i o n o n N a h u m T a t e ' s King Lear, d e c i d e d t o o m i t " w i t h o u t s c r u p l e " t h e s c e n e o n D o v e r C l i f f a l t o g e t h e r , c i t i n g T h o m a s W a r t o n o n " T h e u t t e r i m p r o b a b i l i t y o f G l o u c e s t e r ' s i m a g i n i n g , t h o u g h b l i n d , t h a t h e h a d l e a p e d d o w n D o v e r C l i f f . " O d d l y , C o l m a n n e v e r t h e l e s s m a i n t a i n e d " t h a t c e l e b r a t e d d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e c l i f f i n t h e m o u t h o f E d g a r , " m o r e - o r - l e s s m i s s i n g t h e p o i n t t h a t i t i s a m u c h g r e a t e r e x a m p l e o f d e c e p t i o n , a n d o n e e x t e n d i n g t o t h e a u d i e n c e ( i v - v ) . T h e c e n t r a l i t y o f s i g h t t o k n o w i n g - a n d a n x i e t y at i t s f a i l u r e - i s n o t r e s t r i c t e d t o t h e c h a r a c t e r s o f t h e p l a y . T h e f a c e a n d t h e g a z e a r e r e p e a t e d l y a l i g n e d w i t h p o w e r a n d i n d e p e n d e n c e i n t h e p l a y . A s s h e i s l e d t o p r i s o n , C o r d e l i a a s k s t o " s e e t h e s e d a u g h t e r s , a n d t h e s e s i s t e r s " ( 5 . 3 . 7 ) . A s H a r r y B e r g e r h a s n o t e d , h e r g o a l i s t o " o u t f a c e h e r s i s t e r s ' f r o w n s , " a n d h e c i t e s C a v e l l t o t h e e f f e c t t h a t s h e w i s h e s t o " b i d h e r s i s t e r s a m o r a l l y t r i u m p h a n t f a r e w e l l " ( B e r g e r 4 6 - 4 7 ) . B e s i d e s s e r v i n g a s t h e s i g n o f a final p o w e r o f r e b e l l i o n , t h e f a c e a l s o i n d i c a t e s a u t h o r i t y . " Y e s , " s a y s t h e Lawrence 92 Fool to Goneril, "forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me, though you say nothing" (1.4.191-93). Oswald's offence, in Lear's opinion, is to "bandy looks with me" (1.4.82). Confronting the blind Gloucester in Dover, he describes himself "every inch a king: / When I do stare, see how the subject quakes" (4.6.191-93). Earlier, in the trial scene recorded in the quarto, Lear seems to take the power of his stare more seriously. Edgar describes him entirely in terms of his gaze: "Look where he stands and glares" (3.6.23).20 "I have no way, and therefore want no eyes," says Gloucester, briefly abandoning direction with sight, though he nevertheless instructs Edgar to lead him to Dover. When he fails to hear the sea, or to feel the ground slope beneath him, Edgar declares that "your other senses grow imperfect / By your eyes' anguish" (4.6.5-6), extending his blindness into a general inability to find his place in the environment. A few lines later, Edgar describes as deficient the sight which cannot appropriate its object, and as apt to betray its bearer to the void: " I ' l l look no more, / Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight / Topple down headlong" (4.6.22-24). Conversely, i f Lear's order to have his boots removed indicates a sudden sense of being at home, it also follows his instructions to Gloucester to "get thee.glass eyes" (4.6.168). Even the eyes of a "scurvy politician" imply an orientation in the world and a certain power over one's environment. To "look with thine ears," on the other hand, is to sense injustice (4.6.149). Face, in these examples, is presented by oneself rather than recognized in an Other. To stare is to stare down, rather than to find oneself first stared at. Eyesight, in this play, is generally associated with control; moreover, the projection of an image of oneself implies self-control. Edgar will , by dressing down or even undressing, present himself, control his image and remain powerful vis-a-vis the elemental: "with presented 2 0Theobald emended "he" to "she," making this statement refer to one of the "she foxes" Lear apostrophizes in the preceding line. There is, however, little reason why the pronoun can not refer to Lear himself. L a w r e n c e 9 3 n a k e d n e s s o u t f a c e , / T h e w i n d , a n d p e r s e c u t i o n o f t h e s k y " ( 2 . 3 . 1 1 - 1 2 ) . W h e n d i s g u i s e d a s a D o v e r p e a s a n t , h e d e s c r i b e s h i s e a r l i e r p e r s o n a as a f i e n d w h o s e " e y e s / W e r e t w o f u l l m o o n s " ( 4 . 6 . 6 9 - 7 0 ) . T h i s r e t r o a c t i v e d i s g u i s e n o t o n l y d i s s i m u l a t e s E d g a r , b u t a l s o d e s c r i b e s h i m i n t e r m s o f h i s o w n v i s i o n , n o t b e i n g s e e n b u t s e e i n g o t h e r s , a n d c o n t r o l l i n g h i s o w n i m a g e . M i c h a e l K e e f e r e x p l a i n s L e a r ' s d e c l a r a t i o n t o G l o u c e s t e r a n d E d g a r t h a t h e c a n n o t b e a c c u s e d o f c o u n t e r f e i t i n g a s a d e c l a r a t i o n o f a u t h e n t i c i t y , o r at l e a s t o f a n e c e s s a r y c o n g r u e n c e b e t w e e n h i s s e l f - r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a n d h i m s e l f : " h e c a n n o t b e a c c u s e d o f c o u n t e r f e i t i n g b e c a u s e a s k i n g h e h a s s o l e a u t h o r i t y o v e r t h e d i s s e m i n a t i o n o f h i s i m a g e . W h i c h i s t o s a y t h a t h i s g a r b , h i s c h o s e n s e l f - a c c o m m o d a t i o n , d o e s n o t m i s r e p r e s e n t h i m " ( K e e f e r 1 5 3 ) . K e n t , l i k e E d g a r , c o n t r o l s h i s i m a g e , i f o n l y n e g a t i v e l y , b y d e s t r o y i n g a f o r m e r i m a g e w h e n h e " r a z ' d m y l i k e n e s s " ( 1 . 4 . 4 ) . T o c r e a t e a v i s u a l i m a g e , i n t h i s w o r l d , i s t o m a i n t a i n c o n t r o l o v e r o n e ' s o w n s i g n s . W r i t i n g i s p o w e r , b e c a u s e i t i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e v i s i b l e , t h e s p h e r e o f c o n t r o l a n d a p p r o p r i a t i o n , n o t w i t h L e v i n a s ' s " r i n g i n g , c l a n g i n g s c a n d a l " o f t h e a u d i b l e . C o r d e l i a r e m a i n s " q u e e n / O v e r h e r p a s s i o n " w h i l e r e a d i n g K e n t ' s l e t t e r i n t h e q u a r t o t e x t , w h i l e i t " m o s t r e b e l - l i k e , s o u g h t t o b e K i n g o ' e r h e r " ( 4 . 3 . 1 3 - 1 5 ) . D e s p i t e h e r o c c a s i o n a l e x c l a m a t i o n s , h e r r e a d i n g o f t h e l e t t e r i s p r i v a t e , i n k e e p i n g w i t h h e r r e t r e a t at t h e e n d o f t h e G e n t l e m a n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n , " t o d e a l w i t h g r i e f a l o n e " ( 4 . 3 . 3 2 ) . L e a r i s a b l e t o d i v i d e h i s k i n g d o m o n l y b e c a u s e i t i s a v a i l a b l e t o h i m , at h a n d , as a m a p , a n d w h i l e i n h i s s u p p o s e d d i v e s t i t u r e h e o b v i o u s l y e n j o y s a l l t h e e x c e s s e s o f r h e t o r i c , h e e x e r c i s e s h i s p o w e r b y d r a w i n g a l i n e : O f a l l t h e s e b o u n d s , e v e n f r o m t h i s l i n e t o t h i s , W i t h s h a d o w y f o r e s t s a n d w i t h c h a m p a i n s r i c h ' d , W i t h p l e n t e o u s r i v e r s a n d w i d e - s k i r t e d m e a d s , W e m a k e t h e e l a d y . ( 1 . 1 . 6 2 - 6 5 ) I n p r e p a r i n g t o h u n t d o w n E d g a r , G l o u c e s t e r d e c l a r e s t h a t " h i s p i c t u r e I w i l l s e n d f a r a n d n e a r , L a w r e n c e 9 4 t h a t a l l t h e k i n g d o m m a y h a v e n o t e o f h i m " ( 2 . 1 . 8 0 - 8 2 ) . S i m i l a r l y , t h e d y i n g E d m u n d s e n d s h i s s w o r d a s a " t o k e n o f r e p r i e v e " t o s a v e L e a r a n d C o r d e l i a ( 5 . 3 . 2 4 8 ) , a s s u r i n g t h e a u t h e n t i c i t y o f h i s w o r d w i t h a p l a s t i c s i g n , l i k e K e n t s e n d i n g h i s r i n g t o C o r d e l i a ( 3 . 1 . 4 6 - 4 9 ) . T h e w o r d b e c o m e s a n i n s t r u m e n t o f p o w e r b y i t s c o m m i t m e n t t o a n i m a g e , a t h i n g w i t h i n s o m e o n e ' s g r a s p . W r i t i n g i m p l i e s n o t o n l y p o w e r , b u t a l s o s e c r e c y . T h e w r i t t e n m e s s a g e r e m a i n s p r i v a t e , a s o n e ' s o w n . W e h a v e a l r e a d y h a d o c c a s i o n t o m e n t i o n L e a r ' s c o n t r o l o v e r t h e l e t t e r w h i c h h e s e n d s t o R e g a n u s i n g K e n t as a m e s s e n g e r . T h e r e a r e o t h e r i n s t a n c e s , h o w e v e r , o f t h e a s s o c i a t i o n o f w r i t i n g w i t h p r i v a c y . M o s t o f E d m u n d ' s c o m m u n i c a t i o n w i t h t h e C a p t a i n w h o i s a c t i n g a s e x e c u t i o n e r t o L e a r a n d C o r d e l i a i s i n t h e f o r m o f w r i t i n g . T h e i r s p o k e n c o m m u n i c a t i o n i s o n l y a n e n c o u r a g e m e n t a n d r e f e r e n c e t o w r i t i n g : A b o u t i t ; a n d w r i t e h a p p y , w h e n t h ' h a s t d o n e . M a r k e , - I s a y , i n s t a n t l y , a n d c a r r y i t s o A s I h a v e set i t d o w n . ( 5 . 3 . 6 2 - 6 5 ) N o t s u r p r i s i n g l y , s u s p i c i o n i s a r o u s e d b y t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y e f f o r t t o w a r d s s e c r e c y w h i c h w r i t i n g i m p l i e s . H e n c e , G l o u c e s t e r ' s s u s p i c i o n o f t h e l e t t e r w h i c h E d m u n d p r o d u c e s , a n d h i s n a i v e a c c e p t a n c e o f t h e c o n t e n t s . S l i g h t g e s t u r e s - " f h a t t e r r i b l e d i s p a t c h o f i t i n t o y o u r p o c k e t " - a r e s u f f i c i e n t t o c o n f i r m i t s i m p o r t a n c e , s i n c e t h e w r i t t e n w o r d i s a l r e a d y a n o b j e c t o f s u s p i c i o n ( 1 . 2 . 3 2 - 3 3 ) . " T h e q u a l i t y o f n o t h i n g " w o u l d n o t n e e d t o b e w r i t t e n d o w n , h i d d e n o n p a p e r a s i t i s h i d d e n i n E d m u n d ' s p o c k e t ( 1 . 2 . 3 2 - 3 4 ) . O f c o u r s e , G l o u c e s t e r i s a l s o n a i v e t o w a r d s E d m u n d ' s o f f e r o f " a u r i c u l a r a s s u r a n c e , " b u t h i s n a i v e t e t o w a r d s t h e w r i t t e n w o r d i s q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t ( 1 . 2 . 8 8 - 8 9 ) . T h e s p o k e n w o r d i s a s s u m e d t o b e c o r r e c t b y v i r t u e o f i t s f r a n k n e s s , w h e r e a s t h e w r i t t e n w o r d i s b e l i e v e d b e c a u s e o f i t s s e c r e c y . It i s p e r h a p s b e c a u s e w r i t i n g i m p l i e s a s e c r e t k n o w l e d g e t h a t G l o u c e s t e r ' s o t h e r w i s e r e a s o n a b l e e x p l a n a t i o n t o R e g a n a n d C o r n w a l l f o r h i s p o s s e s s i o n o f a l e t t e r m e e t s w i t h i n c r e d u l i t y ( 3 . 7 . 4 7 - 4 9 ) . A f t e r a l l , h e i s a w a r e o f t h e i n v a s i o n L a w r e n c e 9 5 b e f o r e i t b e c o m e s " s u r e a n d v u l g a r , " h e a r d o f b y a n y o n e w h o " c a n d i s t i n g u i s h s o u n d " ( 4 . 6 . 2 0 7 - 0 8 ) . " W h y s h o u l d s h e w r i t e t o E d m u n d ? M i g h t n o t y o u [ O s w a l d ] / T r a n s p o r t h e r p u r p o s e s b y w o r d ? " a s k s R e g a n , j e a l o u s o f h e r s i s t e r ( 4 . 5 . 1 9 - 2 0 ) . T h e l e t t e r t o w h i c h R e g a n r e f e r s t r a v e l s a r o u n d t h e f i n a l a c t , m o v i n g f r o m h a n d t o h a n d a n d a s s u m i n g n e w i m p o r t a n c e i n e a c h , l i k e t h e h a n d k e r c h i e f i n Othello. O s w a l d , l o y a l e v e n i n d e a t h , a s k s E d g a r t o d e l i v e r i t ; E d g a r , i n s t e a d , r e a d s i t h i m s e l f . T h e l e t t e r t h e n b e c o m e s E d g a r ' s s e c r e t , w h i c h h e p a s s e s i n s t r i c t c o n f i d e n c e t o A l b a n y , f o r b i d d i n g h i m s e l f e v e n t o r e m a i n w h i l e i t i s r e a d ( 5 . 1 . 4 7 ) . F i n a l l y , A l b a n y b r a n d i s h e s i t at G o n e r i l , t h r e a t e n i n g t o s t o p h e r m o u t h w i t h i t a s t h o u g h i t w e r e a w e a p o n , w h i c h b y t h i s p o i n t i t i s ( 5 . 3 . 1 5 4 ) . L e t t e r s , a s t h e s e i n c i d e n t s d r a m a t i c a l l y d e m o n s t r a t e , r i s k b e c o m i n g a l i e n a t e d , m o v i n g a b o u t o n t h e i r o w n , j u s t a s L e a r ' s l i n e s o n t h e m a p c o m e t o a s s u m e a m e a n i n g h e c o u l d n o t h a v e w i s h e d . 2 1 M o r e t o t h e p o i n t , t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y b e c o m e s a n a n x i e t y s u r r o u n d i n g t h e w r i t t e n w o r d , a n d i m p l y i n g a n o r m a l c o n t r o l o v e r w r i t i n g w h i c h i s v i o l a t e d . T o w r i t e i s , a t l e a s t n o r m a l l y , t o c r e a t e a s i g n w i t h i n o n e ' s o w n c o n t r o l r a t h e r t h a n b e i n g s u b v e r t e d b y t h e v o i c e o f a n O t h e r . R a t h e r t h a n i m p l y i n g a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t , a s h e a r i n g d o e s , w r i t i n g i m p l i e s r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f p o w e r b e t w e e n p e o p l e , w h e r e i n f o r c e b e c o m e s a s o r t o f w r i t i n g o n t h e b o d y . K e n t t h r e a t e n s t o " b e a t [ O s w a l d ] i n t o c l a m o r o u s w h i n i n g , i f t h o u d e n y t h e l e a s t s y l l a b l e o f t h y a d d i t i o n , " b e f o r e c a l l i n g O s w a l d " T h o u w h o r e s o n z e d , t h o u u n n e c e s s a r y l e t t e r " ( 2 . 2 . 2 1 - 2 3 , 6 1 ) . P e r h a p s w e s h o u l d c a l l K e n t ' s a c t i o n s " t e x t u a l a s s a u l t " : h e t u r n s O s w a l d i n t o a t e x t , i n t o w h i c h h e w i l l i n t e r j e c t a n " a d d i t i o n . " T h e l i n k b e t w e e n v i o l e n c e a n d w r i t i n g o n t h e b o d y i s a l s o i m p l i e d b y E d g a r , w h o i n c i d e n t a l l y a l s o o n c e a g a i n d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n w r i t i n g a n d s e c r e c y : " T o k n o w o u r e n e m i e s ' m i n d s , w e r i p t h e i r h e a r t s ; / T h e i r p a p e r s i s m o r e l a w f u l " ( 4 . 6 . 2 5 7 - 5 8 ) . B o t h t h e h e a r t a n d t h e w r i t t e n d o c u m e n t r e p r e s e n t s e c r e c y , a n d 2 1 E x c e p t , p e r h a p s , i n t e r m s o f H a r r y B e r g e r ' s " d a r k e s t p u r p o s e " o f s e l f - p u n i s h m e n t . L a w r e n c e 9 6 o p e n i n g o n e c a n b e c o m p a r e d t o o p e n i n g t h e o t h e r . O n e r e c a l l s L e a r ' s d e s i r e , i n t h e t r i a l s c e n e , t o " a n a t o m i z e R e g a n , s e e w h a t b r e e d s a b o u t h e r h e a r t " ( 3 . 6 . 7 4 - 7 5 ) . I n o p e n i n g t h e l e t t e r , E d g a r t r ea t s i t l i k e a b o d y t o b e t o r n o p e n ; c o n v e r s e l y , i n c h a l l e n g i n g E d m u n d , h e p r e p a r e s t o w r i t e o n h i s b r o t h e r ' s h e a r t , t r e a t i n g i t l i k e a l e t t e r : S a y t h o u " N o , " T h i s s w o r d , t h i s a r m , a n d m y b e s t s p i r i t s a r e b e n t T o p r o v e u p o n t h y h e a r t , w h e r e t o I s p e a k , T h o u l i e s t . ( 5 . 3 . 1 3 7 - 3 9 ) H e i s a n t i c i p a t e d b y A l b a n y i n h i s c h o i c e o f i m a g e ( 5 . 3 . 9 4 ) . E d m u n d a n s w e r s A l b a n y ' s c h a l l e n g e b y p r o m i s i n g t o p r o v e h i s h o n o u r " O n h i m , o n y o u , w h o n o t ? " a n d E d g a r ' s c h a l l e n g e b y p r o m i s i n g t o s e n d E d g a r ' s a c c u s a t i o n s b a c k i n t o h i s h e a r t , w h e r e " T h i s s w o r d o f m i n e s h a l l g i v e t h e m i n s t a n t w a y " ( 5 . 3 . 1 0 1 , 1 4 8 ) . T o a l l t h r e e c h a r a c t e r s , a n d , i n d e e d t o t h e v e r y e c o n o m y o f t r i a l b y c o m b a t , d u e l l i n g r e p r e s e n t s a n e f f o r t t o w r i t e u p o n t h e b o d y o f a n o t h e r . I n t h i s i m a g e , t h e w r i t t e n w o r d r e a l i z e s t h e u l t i m a t e c o r o l l a r y o f i t s s t a t u s a s t h a t w h i c h i s c o n t r o l l e d . I f s i g h t r e p r e s e n t s c o n t r o l , t h e n h e a r i n g c o n v e r s e l y r e p r e s e n t s e x p o s u r e , l o s s o f c o n t r o l . K e n t ' s t a l e o f w o e n e a r l y k i l l s h i m ; E d g a r ' s t a l e d o e s k i l l G l o u c e s t e r a n d l e a v e s A l b a n y " a l m o s t r e a d y t o d i s s o l v e " ( 5 . 3 . 2 1 4 - 1 6 , 1 9 5 - 9 8 , 2 0 2 ) . T h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n t h e w r i t t e n w o r d , w h i c h C o r d e l i a c a n m a s t e r , a n d t h e s p o k e n w o r d , w h i c h m a s t e r s K e n t a n d G l o u c e s t e r , i s t h a t o n e a p p r o p r i a t e s t h e w r i t t e n , w h e r e a s t h e s p o k e n w o r d i n v a d e s b e f o r e i t i s a p p r o p r i a t e d . T o h e a r i s t o h a v e c o n t a c t w i t h a n O t h e r , w h e r e a s o n e c a n r e a d a l o n e . A t l e a s t t w i c e i n t h e p l a y , t h e v o i c e c o m e s t o s t a n d f o r t h e p e r s o n i t s e l f , o r r a t h e r , t o s e r v e a s a s y n e c d o c h e f o r w h a t i s h u m a n a n d v a l u e d i n t h e O t h e r . W e m a y , I t h i n k , d i s c o u n t G l o u c e s t e r ' s r e c o g n i z i n g L e a r b y " t h e t r i c k o f t h a t v o i c e " ( 4 . 6 . 1 0 6 ) , s i n c e o b v i o u s l y t h e r e i s n o o t h e r w a y h e m i g h t r e c o g n i z e L e a r , o t h e r t h a n s m e l l o r t o u c h , a n d L e a r p r o b a b l y s m e l l s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y w h e n " f a n t a s t i c a l l y d r e s s e d w i t h w i l d Lawrence 97 flowers" (4.6.80 S.D.). Shortly before, following Edgar's dramaturgical miracle in the same scene, the supposedly incredulous peasant that Edgar is now impersonating accosts Gloucester with a command to "Hear you, sir! speak!" A few lines later, still supposedly amazed at Gloucester's survival, he asks him to "speak yet again" (4.6.46, 55). To speak, in this sense, is to indicate being alive. One can see a dead person, but a corpse is not an interlocutor. It is not insignificant that Lear, in his last lines, pathetically tries to hear Cordelia speak (5.3.271). This gesture reflects the first scene, with its command to speak, but here the effort presents an image of the distance of the Other in a futile attempt to conjure the dead. In the play, attempts to know and master oneself repeatedly fail. Likewise, pagan virtues, of stoic patience and self-command, are frustrated. "Sir," asks Kent of Lear in the trial scene, "where is the patience now / That you so oft have boasted to retain" (3.6.57-58). Edgar realizes the failure of efforts at control: "The worst is not / So long as we can say 'This is the worst'" (4.1.28). Being able to know and describe one's situation is still a sort of power over it. The characters, one after another, lose their mastery over events and themselves. Gloucester maintains his poise until his eyes are put out; Edgar maintains his until he meets his blinded father. Kent's loyalty and patience are rewarded only with death (Snyder 150). In a way, such loss of knowledge and control is just as well, since the project of knowledge, of vision and grasp, is antithetical to hearing an Other, to what Cavell terms acknowledgement. The burden of all the characters' sometimes desperately inaccurate or wildly overwrought efforts at knowledge is an avoidance of the difficulty-or better, the vulnerability-involved in really acknowledging an Other. The play's first and most famous example of failed acknowledgement is Gloucester's failure to acknowledge Edmund, except perhaps as a sort of objective correlative of his own sin. Perhaps the best comments on this opening failure of human relationships come from Cavell and Lawrence 98 Berger. The former, in fact, makes it the source of his term "acknowledge", though indicating that Gloucester's acknowledgement of Edmund is woefully incomplete: He recognizes the moral claim upon himself, as he says twice, to "acknowledge" his bastard; but all this means to him is that he acknowledges that he has a bastard for a son. He does not acknowledge him, as a son or a person, with his feelings of illegitimacy and being cast out. (Cavell 48) In other words, Gloucester internalizes Edmund's claim, makes him a part of his own moral landscape; he does not recognize Edmund as Other. Merely to recognize his own sin-to know himself as Socrates might say-is insufficient to acknowledge his son. Gloucester indicates in the first few lines that he keeps Edmund in a sort of exile (1.1.31 -32). His failure to recognize Edmund continues through the play. When Edmund injures himself in what could be interpreted as a really desperate bid for attention, Gloucester ignores his references to his injury, prefering to hunt down Edgar, instead: Edmund. Look sir, I bleed. Gloucester. Where is the villain, Edmund? When Edmund finally does start to tell Gloucester what has happened, Gloucester interrupts him to bark orders at a subordinate (2.1.39-40). A second account of what transpired is answered by Gloucester's "Let him fly far," exiling another son, rather than recognizing the one in front of him. In fact the duke only, finally, mentions Edmund's injury in order to bask in reflected glory. Even here, he addresses Regan and Cornwall, not Edmund, whom he refers to in the third person: "He did bewray his practise, and received / This hurt you see, striving to apprehend him" (2.1.55, 106-07). Part of the difficulty of acknowledgement has to do with the fact that the power of vision, its control over the visible, can not only be lost, as when a written letter falls into the L a w r e n c e 9 9 w r o n g h a n d s , b u t c a n a l s o b e r e v e r s e d . O n e c a n f i n d o n e s e l f t h e o b j e c t o f t h e e y e s o f a n o t h e r . I n K r z y s z t o f Z i a r e k ' s r e a d i n g o f L e v i n a s , s u b j e c t i v i t y i s d i s p l a c e d b y " v o c a t i v i t y " : t h e s u b j e c t n o l o n g e r e x e r c i s e s t h e p o w e r o f s e e i n g t h e o t h e r . I n s t e a d , i t i s d e f i n e d t h r o u g h b e i n g s e e n b y a n d e x p o s e d t o t h e o t h e r , t o t h e g a z e o f h i s e y e s . C o n s e q u e n t l y , t h e s u b j e c t i s p r i m a r i l y n o t f o r i t s e l f b u t " s u b j e c t " t o t h e o t h e r . ( Z i a r e k 1 0 2 ) E d m u n d f e a r s t h a t t h e p r e s e n c e o f L e a r m i g h t t u r n h i s t r o o p s a g a i n s t h i m . I n t e r e s t i n g l y , h e e x p r e s s e s t h e t h r e a t i n t e r m s o f a n a t t a c k o n h i s o w n e y e s . L e a r m i g h t " t u r n o u r i m p r e s s ' d l a n c e s i n o u r e y e s / W h i c h d o c o m m a n d t h e m " ( 5 . 3 . 5 1 - 5 2 ) . W h e r e s e e i n g p l a c e s o b j e c t s w i t h i n a n i n t e l l e c t u a l g r a s p , b e i n g s e e n m a k e s o n e s e l f p a s s i v e , i f n o t q u i t e a n o b j e c t ; m o r e o v e r , c o n f r o n t i n g t h e " f a c e " o f a n o t h e r p l a c e s o n e u n d e r a n e t h i c a l b u r d e n . T h i s i s n o t m e r e l y a t h e o r y p r o p o s e d b y L e v i n a s ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , i t i s i l l u s t r a t e d b y t h e m a n y c h a r a c t e r s i n t h e p l a y w h o r e f u s e t o b e s e e n . E d m u n d h a s n o p r a c t i c a l r e a s o n t o k e e p G l o u c e s t e r i g n o r a n t o f h i s i d e n t i t y , a n d h i s p r e d e c e s s o r , t h e s o n o f t h e P a p h l a g o n i a n k i n g , m a d e n o s u c h d e c e p t i o n . 2 2 H e a n d h i s f a t h e r ' s f a t e , c l i m b i n g t h e i m a g i n a r y m o u n t a i n t o g e t h e r , C a v e l l a r g u e s , i s a s o r t o f e x e m p l u m o f " w h a t p e o p l e w i l l have t o s a y a n d t r y t o m e a n t o o n e a n o t h e r w h e n t h e y a r e i n c a p a b l e o f a c k n o w l e d g i n g t o o n e a n o t h e r w h a t t h e y h a v e t o a c k n o w l e d g e " ( C a v e l l 5 5 ) . G l o u c e s t e r a n d E d g a r e x c h a n g e i n f o r m a t i o n , j u s t a s t h e y e x c h a n g e s e r v i c e s a n d p a y m e n t , b u t t h e y a r e u n w i l l i n g t o b e s e e n b y o n e a n o t h e r . G l o u c e s t e r s e n d s E d g a r a w a y b e f o r e h i s s u i c i d e a t t e m p t , p r e f e r r i n g t o c o m m u n e w i t h t h e g o d s , w h o , a s I w i l l a r g u e i n c h a p t e r f o u r , m e r e l y r e f l e c t h i s o w n t h o u g h t s . E d g a r , c o n v e r s e l y , s p i n s e n d l e s s w e b s o f d e c e p t i o n , a d o p t i n g s p e c t a c u l a r a n d p o i n t l e s s d i s g u i s e s , a s i f 2 2 " T h i s s o n n e o f m i n e " t h e P a p h l a g o n i a n k i n g i n S i r P h i l i p S i d n e y ' s Arcadia e x p l a i n s , " f o r g e t t i n g m y a b h o m i n a b l e w r o n g s , n o t r e c k i n g d a n g e r , & n e g l e c t i n g t h e p r e s e n t g o o d w a y h e w a s d o i n g h i m s e l f e g o o d , c a m e h e t h e r t o d o t h i s k i n d o f f i c e y o u s e e h i m p e r f o r m e t o w a r d s m e " ( s e l e c t e d r e p r i n t e d a s " A p p e n d i x 5 , " i n K e n n e t h M u i r ' s s e c o n d A r d e n e d i t i o n , 2 3 2 ) . Lawrence 100 willing to appear to be anything but himself. Where evil strives to be hidden, as when Edmund is ordered out of the house so that Gloucester may be blinded (3.7.6-9), good accepts the responsibility imposed by the face of the Other, even striving to be seen. The servant who defends Gloucester dies with the words "you have one eye left / To see some mischief on him" (3.7.79-80). Where Cornwall seeks to avoid-even, to borrow an archaism, "evoid'-Gloucester's sight, to face him down, the servant faces up to Gloucester's face. Justice, in Cornwall's terms, implies the opinions of others: Though well we may not pass upon his life Without the form of justice, yet our power Shall do a court'sy to our wrath, which men May blame but not control. (3.7.24-27) The eyes of other men weigh even on Cornwall, even while dismissing them and contemplating one of the most horrifying acts of violence in the Shakespearean canon. In urging Edgar to flee, Edmund tells him first to "bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him: and at my entreaty forbear his presence" (1.2.7-9). Edmund draws, in this instance, not only upon Edgar's interest in self-preservation, but also upon the association of shame with hiddenness. One might note that Edmund's argument here is circular: Edgar has a need to hide himself, and therefore should try to find a reason for his shame; conversely, he is ashamed, and therefore should avoid his father's sight. Occasionally, the avoidance of sight is literal. The anxiety regarding the reversal of the power of sight leads to violent actions. Lear sends Kent into exile with the words "Hence and avoid my sight," repeating himself a few lines later (1.1.123, 153). Kent, maintaining the image, asks to remain within Lear's sight, making his own action a response to the ethical obligation imposed by the face of an Other (1.1.157-58). A few lines later, bidding farewell to France, Lear L a w r e n c e 101 e m p h a s i z e s t h a t i t i s C o r d e l i a ' s " f a c e " w h i c h h e i s a v o i d i n g : " w e / H a v e n o s u c h d a u g h t e r , n o r s h a l l e v e r s e e / T h a t f a c e o f h e r s a g a i n " ( 1 . 1 . 2 6 1 - 6 3 ) . G l o u c e s t e r c o m m a n d s n o t o n l y a s e a r c h f o r E d g a r , b u t a l s o h i s s u m m a r y e x e c u t i o n , a n a d d i t i o n w h i c h B e r g e r t a k e s t o b e a n e f f o r t t o a v o i d h i s p r e s e n c e , n e v e r t o s e e h i m a g a i n ( B e r g e r 5 9 ) . L a t e r , L e a r f l e e s C o r d e l i a ' s c e n t u r y r a t h e r t h a n a l l o w h i m s e l f t o b e r e c o g n i z e d ( C a v e l l 5 2 ) . T h e t h r e a t w h i c h L e a r a v o i d s i s n o t a d e l u s i o n b o m o f i n s a n i t y , as K e n t ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i m m a k e s c l e a r : . . . t h e p o o r d i s t r e s s e d L e a r ' s i ' t h ' t o w n , W h o s o m e t i m e , i n h i s b e t t e r t u n e , r e m e m b e r s W h a t w e a r e c o m e a b o u t , a n d b y n o m e a n s W i l l y i e l d t o s e e h i s d a u g h t e r . ( 4 . 3 . 3 8 - 4 1 ) R a t h e r t h a n r e f u s i n g t o b e s e e n i n h i s i n s a n i t y , i t i s w h e n " i n h i s b e t t e r t u n e , " w h e n h e r e m e m b e r s " W h a t w e a r e c o m e a b o u t " t h a t h e w i l l n o t s e e h i s d a u g h t e r . " L e a r ' s d o m i n a t i n g m o t i v a t i o n , " a c c o r d i n g t o C a v e l l , " i s t o avoid being recognized" ( C a v e l l 4 6 ) . C o r n w a l l ' s b l i n d i n g o f G l o u c e s t e r i s t h e m o s t v i o l e n t a c t i o n i n t h e p l a y , a n d p e r h a p s t h e m o s t c r u e l a c t u a l l y t o b e p r e s e n t e d o n t h e S h a k e s p e a r e a n s t a g e . H i s r e a s o n s a r e g i v e n c l e a r l y , a s a n e f f o r t n o t t o b e s e e n . " S e e i t s h a l t t h o u n e v e r , " h e s a y s b e f o r e p u t t i n g o u t t h e f i r s t e y e , a n d " L e s t i t s e e m o r e , p r e v e n t i t " b e f o r e p u t t i n g o u t t h e o t h e r . I n b o t h c a s e s , s o m e o n e - G l o u c e s t e r o r t h e f a i t h f u l s e r v a n t - h a s s a i d t h a t G l o u c e s t e r w i l l s e e j u s t i c e d o n e : " I s h a l l s e e / T h e w i n g e d v e n g e a n c e o v e r t a k e s u c h c h i l d r e n " s a y s G l o u c e s t e r i n t h e f i r s t i n s t a n c e ; " y o u h a v e o n e e y e l e f t / T o s e e s o m e m i s c h i e f o n h i m " s a y s t h e s e r v a n t i n t h e s e c o n d i n s t a n c e ( 3 . 7 . 6 5 - 8 1 ) . C o r n w a l l ' s a c t i s n o t a r e a c t i o n t o a t h r e a t t o h i m s e l f . G l o u c e s t e r ' s s e e i n g o r n o t s e e i n g m i s c h i e f w i l l n o t c a u s e i t t o o c c u r . C a v e l l c o m m e n t s , b r i l l i a n t l y , t h a t t h i s a c t " l i t e r a l i z e s e v i l ' s a n c i e n t l o v e o f d a r k n e s s , " a n d p r o c e e d s t o s h o w h o w G l o u c e s t e r r e g a r d s t h e b l i n d i n g a s r e t r i b u t i o n f o r h i s a v o i d a n c e o f E d g a r ( C a v e l l 4 7 ) . H e a v o i d e d e y e s , a n d s o h i s e y e s a r e l i t e r a l l y " e v o i d e d . " I w i l l a r g u e i n c h a p t e r s e v e n t h a t L a w r e n c e 1 0 2 G l o u c e s t e r ' s s e n s e o f r e t r i b u t i v e j u s t i c e f o l l o w s f r o m h i s c o n c e r n f o r E d g a r : h e i s c o n c e r n e d f o r h i s s o n b e f o r e h e i s a s h a m e d o f h i m s e l f . B e f o r e t h e y a v o i d a t h r e a t , e v e n t h e t h r e a t o f r e t a i l i n g o n e o f t h e i r e v i l o r at l e a s t i m p e r f e c t a c t i o n s t o t h e w o r l d , t h e c h a r a c t e r s a v o i d b e c o m i n g e t h i c a l l y r e s p o n s i b l e , " A r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t h a t g o e s b e y o n d w h a t I m a y o r m a y n o t h a v e d o n e t o t h e O t h e r o r w h a t e v e r a c t s I m a y o r m a y n o t h a v e c o m m i t t e d " ( " E t h i c s a s F i r s t P h i l o s o p h y " 8 3 ) . T h e r e i s a s t r o n g e r , e t h i c a l s e n s i b i l i t y t o e y e - s i g h t , w h i c h i s a n t e r i o r t o a n d i n f o r m s t h e s h a m e w h i c h C a v e l l f i n d s i n t h e c h a r a c t e r s . T h e c h a r a c t e r s a l s o m a k e m o r e m e t a p h o r i c a l e f f o r t s t o a v o i d b e i n g s e e n . R e g a n a n i m a l i z e s t h e s e r v a n t - " H o w n o w , y o u d o g ! " ( 3 . 7 . 7 3 ) - m a k i n g h i s f a c e n o l o n g e r t h e f a c e o f a n O t h e r . 2 3 S i m i l a r l y , A l b a n y ' s i n s u l t t o G o n e r i l i s t h a t s h e i s " n o t w o r t h t h e d u s t w h i c h t h e r u d e w i n d / B l o w s i n y o u r f a c e " ( 4 . 2 . 3 0 - 3 1 ) . H e r f a c e b e c o m e s w o r t h l e s s t h a n t h e d u s t w h i c h , o n e a s s u m e s , o b s c u r e s i t . O n e m i g h t a d d K e n t ' s i n d i f f e r e n c e t o a n y f a c e t h a t " s t a n d s o n a n y s h o u l d e r t h a t I s e e / B e f o r e m e at t h i s i n s t a n t " ( 2 . 2 . 9 1 - 9 2 ) . T h e s t r o n g e s t i n s t a n c e s o f a m e t a p h o r i c a l b l i n d i n g , h o w e v e r , r e f e r t o G l o u c e s t e r w h o i s , a s i t w e r e , r e - b l i n d e d b y b o t h h i s s o n a n d h i s k i n g . A f t e r h i s s u p p o s e d l y s u i c i d a l l e a p , E d g a r a s k s h i m t o " L o o k u p a h e i g h t , [ . . . ] / D o b u t l o o k u p " ( 4 . 6 . 5 8 - 5 9 ) . C a v e l l a r g u e s t h a t E d g a r h a s e a r l i e r r e - b l i n d e d G l o u c e s t e r b y r e f u s i n g t o r e v e a l h i m s e l f , a n d t h e r e f o r e m a k i n g i t i m p o s s i b l e f o r G l o u c e s t e r t o " s a y I h a d e y e s a g a i n " ( 4 . 1 . 2 4 ) . H e a l s o a r g u e s t h a t G l o u c e s t e r i s t h e e a s i e s t o f a l l c h a r a c t e r s t o a c k n o w l e d g e , s i n c e h i s o w n l a c k o f e y e s r e n d e r s h i m i n c a p a b l e o f r e t u r n i n g a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t . H e n c e , C a v e l l c l a i m s , i t i s G l o u c e s t e r " w h o s e r e c o g n i t i o n L e a r i s f i r s t a b l e t o b e a r " ( C a v e l l 5 0 ) . H e r e , a s e l s e w h e r e , C a v e l l s e e m s t o o v e r e m p h a s i z e t h e r e c i p r o c a l f u n c t i o n o f a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t . M o r e o v e r , G l o u c e s t e r h a s a l r e a d y r e c o g n i z e d L e a r ' s v o i c e , a n d L e a r h a s a l r e a d y a c k n o w l e d g e d t h e s u f f e r i n g o f t h e c o l d , 2 3 I n a n i n t e r v i e w w i t h J e a n - L u c N a n c y , D e r r i d a c i t e s L e v i n a s t o t h e e f f e c t t h a t t h e r e i s n o a n i m a l f a c e ( " E a t i n g W e l l " 1 0 5 ) . Lawrence 103 wet Fool in the storm. Lear delays recognizing Gloucester as an Other, even though he has already been recognized by Gloucester, because seeing implies power, while being seen implies passivity, even vulnerability. The choice of Cupid as a metaphor is instructive: love is often, and certainly in this image, pictured as a force attacking from without, against which Lear is attempting to maintain his self-mastery. Lear does not risk learning something about himself, which acknowledgement would often seem to imply, but losing his position as subject altogether. That Lear first delays, then acknowledges Gloucester, then refuses to acknowledge his daugher's centurion, is not terribly surprising: after all, Lear recognizes the Fool, but not Edgar, in the storm and seems to acknowledge anyone only in flashes. If Lear really answers Gloucester's "Dost thou know me?" he will not be in a position casually to redefine Gloucester as Cupid, shifting the sign of blindness along a chain of imbrication, rather than finding himself under the face of the Other. Similarly, he insists that Gloucester read (4.6.134-41). Cavell sees this as further evidence of Lear's cruelty, undertaken "in order not to be seen by this man, whom he has brought harm" (Cavell 52). Beautifully as this position is presented, there is another way in which to read Lear's insistence on reading, and on Gloucester's failure to read. Gloucester's blindness moves both characters away from the world of visual signs, over which the observer mantains at least an intellectual mastery. "Look with thine ears" says Lear, shifting to the auditory (4.6.149). With illiteracy, the debate moves from a semiotic struggle, over the meaning and interpretation of signs, towards the recognition of a responsibility, impinging from without. "If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my eyes" says Lear, neatly subverting the predominant imagery of eyesight as control, into an image of generosity, and of surrendering his own, visual, power control (4.6.174). The play, like Cavell usually, insists that a true ethical recognition exceeds the epistemological problem of knowing. In this respect, Cavell is quite willing to acknowledge the Lawrence 104 congruence of his ideas with the Christian religion, and specifically Luther's idea of the Deus absconditus. Parenthetically, in his essay on King Lear, he defines the difference of acknowledgement and knowledge in terms of God, or rather, defines God in terms of the fundamental gap between knowledge and acknowledgement: The withdrawals and approaches of God can be looked upon as tracing the history of our attempts to overtake and absorb acknowledgement by knowledge; God would be the name of that impossibility. (Cavell 117) Earlier, he specifically relates this notion of the Divine as the impossibility of absorbing acknowledgement in knowledge to Luther's unknowable God, arguing that Luther's "logical point is that you do not accept a promise by knowing something about the promisor" (Cavell 95). Acknowledging salvation, in other words, would be subtly but radically different from knowing something by way of a theodicy. What Cavell's citation of Luther indicates is that the idea of an acknowledgement beyond knowing-in fact, an idea more radical than Cavell's own idea of acknowledgement, with its implications of mutuality-is available to sixteenth-century thought. Lear does not recognize Cordelia and subject himself to her as an extension of knowledge, by which he might know where and what he is, and then know what other people are. On the contrary, he recognizes Cordelia when most confused, and just regaining his bearings: Methinks I should know you and know this man; Yet I am doubtful: For I am mainly ignorant What place this is, and all the skill I have Remembers not these garments; nor I know not Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me; For, as I am a man, I think this lady To be my child Cordelia. (4.7.64-70) Lawrence 105 One might argue, of course, that he's trying to appeal by pathos to Cordelia's sentiments, but that seems like a rather elaborate plan to be hatched on the spur of the moment, while half-conscious, and by someone seldom able to admit his vulnerabilities before. Even when, as Albany says, "He knows not what he says," he nevertheless mourns his daughter. His final, desperate efforts to find some sign of life in her might be taken as rejections of his claim to knowledge: "I know when one is dead, and when one lives / She's dead as earth" (5.3.292, 259-60). In this scene especially, but also throughout the play, we see instances of acknowledgement, of care for other persons, that go beyond knowing. As I noted earlier in this chapter, Levinas uses sight as an image of a certain phenomenology, rather than insisting upon an ipso facto difference between it and hearing. My argument is not substantially damaged, therefore, by the fact that the play sometimes inverts the imagery of sight in order to make it express acknowledgement. Edgar recognizes Lear with the words "O thou side-piercing sight!" (4.6.85). Lear remains a "sight", but as a spectacle that invades ("side-piercing") like Levinas's spoken word rather than as an object of the eyes. Gloucester describes "the superfluous and lust-dieted man" as one who "will not see / Because he does not feel." Perhaps Gloucester is describing himself in the "lust-dieted man" since "I stumbled when I saw," lacking a supplement of feeling to the power of his sight (4.1.67-68, 4.1.19). True sight, in this metaphor, is informed by feeling. The image is certainly in keeping with two of Gloucester's other images of sight lost and regained, first when he wishes to "see [Edgar] in my touch" and later when he tells Lear that he sees how the world goes "feelingly" (4.1.23, 4.6.147). As the example of the dying servant shows, one can also face up to responsibility, rather than only face down a potential opponent. Perhaps the finest example of the power of sight being reversed, however, comes in Lear's offer of his own eyes to Gloucester (4.6.174). Joseph Wittreich claims that the "master theme" of the play is "the cleansing of the Lawrence 106 senses" (Wittreich 105). It might be more accurate to say that the master theme of the play is a battle between senses, or between the senses as means of appropriation of the world, and the senses as the means of an invasive assault by the Other. To "feel" in Gloucester's pet metaphor, seems to indicate a concern with other people, like Cavell's acknowledgement, or Levinas's spoken word, while sight, throughout the play, generally (but only generally) indicates a mastery over its object. Before putting this topic aside, it is worth noting that the breach with order which hearing, or acknowledgement of the Other, represents, is only temporary. The recognition of the Other is an interruption, but one which closes again. At times, in fact, the reestablishment of order seems like an inevitable fall. Cordelia's prayers for the restoration of her father's sanity betray a rhetoric of order, even mechanism, although they are obviously intended as care for another person, and addressed to the infinitely distant gods: O you kind Gods! Cure this great breach in his abused nature! Th'untuned and jarring senses, O! wind up Of this child-changed father. (4.7.14-17) Perhaps by virtue of its being spoken and committed to language, becoming, in other words, what one could write, the expression of concern turns into a movement to order, reinterpretable as something very different, control of the father as of a musical instrument (for instance) or a self- righteous blame of the children who have changed the father, or even a betrayal of Cordelia's own guilt in making Lear child-changed. One might, if sufficiently determined, associate Cordelia's statement with the tradition of nature as controlled, of madness as an excuse to infantilize the sufferer, or even with the worst excesses of an urge to order and control. Such possibilities for reinterpretation, some of them painfully familiar to literary critics, do not, L a w r e n c e 1 0 7 h o w e v e r , a c t u a l l y a n n u l t h e g e n e r o s i t y o f C o r d e l i a ' s c a r e f o r h e r f a t h e r . A n o t h e r e x a m p l e m a y b e m o r e c l e a r . A t t h e e n d o f t h e p l a y , A l b a n y s e t s a b o u t t h e t a s k o f r e s t o r i n g o r d e r t o t h e k i n g d o m , w i t h a m o r e - o r - l e s s r u t h l e s s p r o m i s e t o m e t e o u t b o t h p u n i s h m e n t s a n d r e w a r d s : " a l l f r i e n d s s h a l l t a s te / T h e w a g e s o f t h e i r v i r t u e , a n d a l l f o e s / T h e c u p o f t h e i r d e s e r v i n g s " ( 5 . 1 . 3 0 1 - 0 3 ) . T h e s e l i n e s t r a v e s t y C h r i s t ' s " c u p o f t h e n e w c o v e n a n t , " t h e r e f o r e s u b s t i t u t i n g a m o r e o r l e s s m e c h a n i s t i c v e r s i o n o f j u s t i c e f o r C h r i s t ' s o f f e r o f f o r g i v e n e s s ( L u k e 2 2 . 2 0 ; 1 C o r i n t h i a n s 1 1 . 1 5 ) . M i c h a e l K e e f e r p o i n t s o u t t h a t t h e s e l i n e s a l s o d i s t o r t S t . P a u l : " F o r t h e w a g e s o f s i n i s d e a t h : b u t t h e g i f t o f G o d i s e t e r n a l l i f e t h r o u g h J e s u s C h r i s t o u r L o r d " ( K e e f e r 1 6 3 ; R o m a n s 6 . 2 3 ) . S u c h o r d e r , w i t h i t s r e d u c e d a n d m e c h a n i s t i c s e n s e o f j u s t i c e i s i n t e r r u p t e d b y t h e s i g h t o f L e a r h i m s e l f : " O s e e , s e e " ( 5 . 3 . 8 5 ) . L e a r i s r e f e r r e d t o b y K e n t as a u s u r p e r , l i v i n g b e y o n d h i s a l l o t t e d p o r t i o n o f l i f e : " H e b u t u s u r p ' d h i s l i f e " ( 5 . 3 . 3 1 6 ) . T h e f i n a l c o u p l e t s e e m s t o r e t u r n t o t h i s i d e a , i m p o s i n g a l i m i t a n d d e m a r c a t i o n o n l i f e : " T h e o l d e s t h a t h b o r n e m o s t : w e t h a t a r e y o u n g , / S h a l l n e v e r s e e s o m u c h , n o r l i v e s o l o n g " ( 5 . 3 . 3 2 4 - 2 5 ) . W h i l e L e a r ' s e x t r a o r d i n a r y s u f f e r i n g a n d p r e s e n c e i n t e r r u p t t h e n o r m a l c o u r s e o f t h i n g s , o r d e r w i l l b e r e s t o r e d , h e r e s y m b o l i z e d b y t h e m e a s u r e o f h u m a n l i f e . W h i l e a p e r i o d o f t r u e c o m m u n i c a t i o n i s a l l o w e d , i t i s s t r i c t l y d e l i m i t e d b y " t h i s s a d t i m e " : " T h e w e i g h t o f t h i s s a d t i m e w e m u s t o b e y ; / S p e a k w h a t w e f e e l , n o t w h a t w e o u g h t t o s a y " ( 5 . 3 . 3 2 2 - 2 3 ) . K o t t c l a i m s t h a t " u n l i k e t h e H i s t o r i e s a n d T r a g e d i e s , i n King Lear t h e w o r l d i s n o t h e a l e d a g a i n " ( K o t t 1 5 2 ) . S n y d e r , o n t h e c o n t r a r y , c l a i m s t h a t o r d e r i s r e s t o r e d , a n d s p e c i f i c a l l y a n i m p r o v e d o r d e r : ' " W h a t w e o u g h t t o s a y , ' w i t h i t s r e m i n d e r o f t h e l o v e tes t , y i e l d s t o ' w h a t w e feel'" ( S n y d e r 1 7 1 ) . N e v e r t h e l e s s , a r e t u r n t o " w h a t w e o u g h t t o s a y " w h e n t h e " w e i g h t o f t h i s s a d t i m e " i s l i f t e d i s i m p l i e d , i f n o t q u i t e p r o m i s e d . T h e n i c e t i e s o f s o c i a l p r o p r i e t y w i l l p r e v a i l . T h e s p o k e n w o r d , w i t h i t s i n t e r p e r s o n a l s u r p l u s , f a l l s i n t o t h e w o r l d o f i n t e r c h a n g e a b l e s i g n s . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e r e t u r n t o o r d e r l e a v e s a t r a c e . Z i a r e k s u m m a r i z e s L e v i n a s ' s p o s i t i o n b y L a w r e n c e 1 0 8 w r i t i n g t h a t " T h e o t h e r ' s r u p t u r e o f t h o u g h t , as i t i s r e c o v e r e d i n t h e n e x t s t e p o f ' r e p a i r i n g ' t h e i n t e r r u p t e d m o v e m e n t o f k n o w i n g , l e a v e s a n ' u n e v e n n e s s ' " ( Z i a r e k 9 8 ) . T h e r e a r e t r a c e s o f a b r e a k w i t h k n o w i n g i n t h e p l a y w h i c h , e v e n t h o u g h t h e y c a n b e r e p a i r e d a n d e x p l a i n e d i n o t h e r t e r m s , a r e n e v e r q u i t e e x p l a i n e d a w a y . A t t i m e s , t h e d e s i r e t o e x p l a i n s e e m s u n a v o i d a b l e . C a v e l l e m p h a s i z e s L e a r ' s d e s i r e t o r e d u c e w h a t L e v i n a s c a l l s " t h e o t h e r n e s s o f t h i n g s a n d o f m e n , " b u t c o n c l u d e s t h a t " I t i s t h e t h i n g w e d o n o t k n o w t h a t c a n s a v e u s " ( C a v e l l 9 6 - 9 7 ) . H o w a r d F e l p e r i n n o t e s t h a t L e a r ' s e f f o r t s t o r e d u c e t h e w o r l d t o k n o w l e d g e a n t i c i p a t e t h e e f f o r t s o f c r i t i c s , r e a d e r s a n d v i e w e r s t o m a k e s e n s e o f t h e p l a y ' s a c t i o n : L e a r e n a c t s i n a d v a n c e o u r o w n d i l e m m a a s i n t e r p r e t e r s , a l t e r n a t i n g b e t w e e n a n t i t h e t i c a l v i s i o n s o f e x p e r i e n c e , o n l y t o a b a n d o n b o t h i n f a v o r o f a p u r e a n d s i m p l e p o i n t i n g t o t h e t h i n g i t s e l f . I n t e r p r e t e r s o f t h e p l a y [. . .] h a v e b e e n u n d e r s t a n d a b l y r e l u c t a n t t o f o l l o w h i m i n t o t h i s s ta te o f aporia, o f b e i n g c o m p l e t e l y at a l o s s , s o p e r e m p t o r y i s t h e h u m a n n e e d t o m a k e s e n s e o f t h i n g s . ( F e l p e r i n 1 0 5 ) O f c o u r s e , I w o u l d d i s a g r e e w i t h F e l p e r i n ' s D e r r i d e a n e m p h a s i s o n aporia. I f L e v i n a s i s c o r r e c t , t h e n t h e f a i l u r e o f k n o w l e d g e i s n o t s i m p l y n e g a t i v e : i t i s e n a c t e d b y t h e e n t r y o f t h e O t h e r , w h i c h c a l l s t h e s e l f t o r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . N o r d o e s o u r k n o w l e d g e f a i l b y v i r t u e o f o v e r - i n t e r p r e t a t i o n ; o n t h e c o n t r a r y , i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s i t s e l f a n e f f o r t t o c o n t r o l , r e d u c i n g t h e s p e c i f i c b u t e x c e s s i v e c l a i m o f t h e O t h e r t o a n o b j e c t o f o u r o w n a p p r o p r i a t i o n . N e v e r t h e l e s s , i t s e e m s c l e a r t h a t a s r e a d e r s w e a t t e m p t t o c o v e r o v e r t h e d i r e c t n e s s o f t h e O t h e r , s u b s t i t u t i n g a n o n y m o u s g a m e s o f p o w e r o r g e n e r i c c o n v e n t i o n , o r e v e n t h e i n s t a b i l i t y o f t h e s i g n . A f t e r t h e h o r r o r o f G l o u c e s t e r ' s b l i n d i n g w e s t i l l w r i t e c h a p t e r s o n s i g h t i m a g e r y , b u t t h a t h o r r o r i s n e v e r e n t i r e l y l o s t . E x o r c i s i n g i t m a y , i n f a c t , p r o v i d e t h e m o t i v e f o r o u r c r i t i c i s m . I n a n y c a s e , t h e f a l l s e e m s i n e v i t a b l e . A t t h e i n s t a n t o f t h e i r c r e a t i o n , w o r d s c a n b e a c a l l f r o m o n e p e r s o n t o a n o t h e r ; i m m e d i a t e l y , h o w e v e r , t h e y b e c o m e u n s t a b l e s i g n s , c a p a b l e o f a l i e n a t i o n , c a p a b l e o f b e i n g Lawrence 109 written and therefore capable of appropriation. Lawrence 110 L a w r e n c e 111 Chapter three — "A fair deserving": Economic Reason and the Absence of Generosity T h e q u e s t i o n o f l a n g u a g e h a s b e e n a d d r e s s e d i n t h e d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e p l a y ' s s i g h t i m a g e r y , b u t t h e r a m i f i c a t i o n s o f L e v i n a s ' s a t t a c k o n t o t a l i z i n g o n t o l o g i e s e x t e n d w e l l b e y o n d a c r i t i q u e o f l i n g u i s t i c s t r u c t u r a l i s m t o e n c o m p a s s a c r i t i c i s m o f a n y s o r t o f t o t a l i z i n g e c o n o m y . I n s u m m a r i z i n g L e v i n a s ' s t h e o r y o f l a n g u a g e , R i c h a r d A . C o h e n d e s c r i b e s t h e p o v e r t y o f p u r e s e m i o t i c p l a y b y a r g u i n g t h a t i t " r e m a i n s a n e c o n o m y " (Time and the Other 2 1 ) . T h e t e n d e n c y o f t h e e c o n o m i c w o r l d , L e v i n a s w r i t e s , i s t o c o m p e n s a t e f o r t h e e f f o r t o f e x i s t e n c e w i t h " w a g e s , " w h i c h c a n b e e a r n e d , h i a n e x t e n d e d d i s c u s s i o n , h e c o n t r a s t s t h e g e n e r o s i t y o f c o m p a s s i o n w i t h t h e r e w a r d o f c o m p e n s a t i o n . T h e t r u e o b j e c t o f h o p e i s n o t s u c h a m a t e r i a l r e w a r d f o r o n e ' s e f f o r t s , b u t i s , o n t h e c o n t r a r y , r a d i c a l l y e x t e r n a l : " t h e M e s s i a h , o r s a l v a t i o n " (Existence and Existents 9 0 - 9 2 ) . I n a n e s s a y o n J a c q u e s D e r r i d a , L e v i n a s ' s o n l y d i s a g r e e m e n t w i t h h i s f r i e n d ' s p h i l o s o p h y c o m e s n e a r t h e c o n c l u s i o n o f a l o n g a n d l a r g e l y a d m i r i n g s u m m a r y o f h i s w o r k . T h e o b j e c t i o n c o n c e r n s t h e i r d i f f e r e n t u n d e r s t a n d i n g s o f t h e s i g n . ' A c c o r d i n g t o L e v i n a s t h e s i g n f i n d s i t s o r i g i n i n e t h i c s : " T h e s i g n , l i k e t h e S a y i n g , i s t h e e x t r a - o r d i n a r y e v e n t [. . .] o f e x p o s u r e t o o t h e r s , o f s u b j e c t i o n t o o t h e r s . [. . .] It i s t h e o n e - f o r - t h e - o t h e r " ( " J a c q u e s D e r r i d a " 6 1 ) . D e s p i t e i t s d e f e r r a l , D e r r i d a ' s " p l a y " r e m a i n s , i n R i c h a r d A . C o h e n ' s i n t r o d u c t i o n t o L e v i n a s ' s Time and the Other, " a n e c o n o m y , t h e e c o n o m y o f w h a t i s Said" (Time and the Other 2 1 ) . T h e r e i s n e v e r t h e l e s s a n e s c a p e f r o m t h i s e c o n o m y s i n c e , e a r l i e r i n h i s e s s a y , L e v i n a s d e c l a r e s t h a t " t h e S a y i n g i s n o t e x h a u s t e d i n t h i s Said" ( " J a c q u e s D e r r i d a " 6 1 ) . T h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f o n e s e l f f o r t h e o t h e r i s , L e v i n a s a r g u e s e l s e w h e r e , p r i o r t o " t h e e n u n c i a t i o n o f p r o p o s i t i o n s c o m m u n i c a t i n g i n f o r m a t i o n a n d a c c o u n t s " ( " D i a c h r o n y a n d R e p r e s e n t a t i o n " 1 0 6 ) . I n Otherwise than Being, or L a w r e n c e 1 1 2 Beyond Essence, L e v i n a s d e v e l o p s t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n b e t w e e n t h e S a y i n g , t h e f a c t o f b e i n g a d d r e s s e d , a n d t h e S a i d , t h e c o n t e n t o f s u c h a n a d d r e s s . 2 4 A n o t h e r w a y t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e d i s t i n c t i o n i s t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t w h i l e t h e c o n t e n t o f a n a d d r e s s i s s u b j e c t t o t h e g e n e r a l e c o n o m y o f t h e s i g n , t h e f a c t o f b e i n g a d d r e s s e d b y a n O t h e r i s a r u p t u r e i n t h i s e c o n o m y . A c c o r d i n g t o E a g l e s t o n e , t h e s t r u c t u r e o f t h e S a y i n g a n d t h e S a i d e x p l a i n s w h y i n t e r r u p t i o n a l w a y s r e m a i n s p o s s i b l e , a n d w h y t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f s k e p t i c i s m , o f i n t e r r u p t i n g t h e S a i d , c a n n e v e r b e e x o r c i s e d f r o m p h i l o s o p h y . S k e p t i c i s m " i s n o t a m e t h o d o f t h o u g h t b u t r a t h e r i n a c o n s t a n t r e l a t i o n t o t h o u g h t , i n t e r r u p t i n g i t a n d d i s t u r b i n g i t " ( E a g l e s t o n e 1 5 0 ) . S k e p t i c i s m i s a l s o t h e b e g i n n i n g - p o i n t f o r S t a n l e y C a v e l l ' s e f f o r t s t o r e s c u e e t h i c s f r o m p h i l o s o p h i c a l r a t i o n a l i s m . T o l i v e i n a w o r l d w h e r e p e o p l e a r e t r e a t e d s t r i c t l y a s c o n t e n t s t o b e a s c e r t a i n e d o r o b s e r v e d w o u l d , c l a i m s B r u n s , " b e l i k e l i v i n g i n a w o r l d i n w h i c h p e o p l e d i d n o t h i n g e l s e b u t k e e p o n e a n o t h e r u n d e r s u r v e i l l a n c e . " H e a d d s t h a t p e r h a p s " o u r w o r l d i s l i k e t h i s m o r e t h a n w e t h i n k " ( B r u n s 87). C e r t a i n l y t h e w o r l d of King Lear o f t e n s e e m s v e r y m u c h l i k e t h i s ; n e v e r t h e l e s s , a s I w i l l s h o w i n c h a p t e r s e v e n , i t c o n t a i n s m o m e n t s o f g e n u i n e a d d r e s s , w h e r e t h e c h a r a c t e r s t r e a t e a c h o t h e r n o t a s t h i n g s t o b e k n o w n , b u t p e r s o n s t o b e a c k n o w l e d g e d . S u c h a r e c o g n i t i o n n o t o n l y i m p l i e s r e t u r n i n g t o t h e s a y i n g b e y o n d t h e s a i d , b u t a l s o m o v i n g b e y o n d o t h e r e c o n o m i e s , o f c a s h , h o n o u r , o r p r e s t i g e . T h e m o v e m e n t t o e c o n o m i c s i s i t s e l f a s o r t o f r e s i s t a n c e t o w h a t i s O t h e r , a s s i m i l a t i n g i t w i t h i n t h e a n o n y m i t y o f t h e m a r k e t . A p u r e g i f t , w h i c h i s n o t p u r c h a s e d e v e n b y f a v o u r s o r b y l o v e , w o u l d s e r v e a s a n i n t e r r u p t i o n t o t h e quid pro quo o f w a g e s a n d e a r n i n g . It i s p r e c i s e l y s u c h a n i n t e r r u p t i o n w h i c h L e a r a v o i d s i n i n s i s t i n g t h a t " n o t h i n g w i l l c o m e o f n o t h i n g " (1.1.89) o r t h a t " n o t h i n g c a n b e m a d e o f n o t h i n g " ( 1 . 4 . 1 3 0 ) . 2 4 0 n e o f t h e b e s t s u m m a r i e s o f L e v i n a s ' s u s e s o f t h e s e t e r m s i s f o u n d i n R o b e r t E a g l e s t o n e ' s Ethical Criticism: Reading After Levinas, t o w h i c h I a m v e r y m u c h i n d e b t e d . S e e e s p e c i a l l y p p . 1 4 1 - 4 6 . L a w r e n c e 1 1 3 A m o n g L e a r ' s d e f e n s i v e m e c h a n i s m s i s a n i n s i s t e n c e t h a t t h e w o r l d i s a v a i l a b l e f o r p u r c h a s e : t h e r e i s n ' t a n y t h i n g w h i c h c a n s t a n d t r u l y o v e r a n d a g a i n s t h i m , i n c a p a b l e o f a s s i m i l a t i o n . L e v i n a s ' s c l a i m t h a t t h e t r u e o b j e c t o f h o p e l i e s o u t s i d e e c o n o m i c s - " t h e M e s s i a h , o r s a l v a t i o n ' - p r o v i d e s a c l u e a b o u t t h e f u l l t h e o l o g i c a l i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e r u t h l e s s l y e c o n o m i c l o g i c b y w h i c h L e a r f o r b i d s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f G r a c e . A c c o r d i n g t o A l i s t e r M c G r a t h , w h a t m o s t h o r r i f i e d L u t h e r a b o u t t h e C a t h o l i c i s m w h i c h h e w a s t a u g h t a s a y o u n g m o n k w a s t h e quid pro quo s t r u c t u r e o f s a l v a t i o n , a n o t i o n b o r r o w e d f r o m R o m a n l a w a n d m o s t f u l l y e x p r e s s e d b y C i c e r o a s " g i v i n g t o e a c h m a n w h a t h e i s e n t i t l e d t o " ( M c G r a t h 1 0 1 ) . L u t h e r ' s d i s c o v e r y t h a t t h e H e b r e w sdqh h e l d a v e r y d i f f e r e n t m e a n i n g f r o m t h e L a t i n iusticia, w a s , M c G r a t h a r g u e s , c e n t r a l t o h i s t h e o l o g i c a l b r e a k t h r o u g h . M o r e o v e r , w h i l e L u t h e r a r r i v e d i n d e p e n d e n t l y at h i s d i s c o v e r y o f t h e r i g h t e o u s n e s s o f G o d a s q u i t e d i s t i n c t f r o m h u m a n e c o n o m i e s o f r i g h t e o u s n e s s , a n d e v e n i n o p p o s i t i o n t o r e a s o n a n d t h e w h o l e p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r a d i t i o n t h a t v a l o r i z e s quid pro quo m o r a l i t y , h e w a s f o r e s h a d o w e d n o t o n l y b y i m p o r t a n t f i g u r e s s u c h a s A u g u s t i n e a n d A n s e l m , b u t a l s o b y v e r n a c u l a r e x p r e s s i o n s o f t h e C h r i s t i a n t r a d i t i o n , s u c h a s t h a t o f t h e Pearl-poet ( M c G r a t h 1 0 1 - 0 2 ) . O n e t h e r e f o r e n e e d n o t d i s c e r n a r e l a t i o n s h i p o f s o u r c e o r i n f l u e n c e b e t w e e n L u t h e r ' s s o t e r i o l o g y a n d S h a k e s p e a r e ' s p l a y , i n o r d e r t o f i n d i n King Lear a c r i t i q u e o f a n e c o n o m i c m o d e l o f a w o r l d i n w h i c h n o t h i n g i s g r a t u i t o u s a n d c o n v e r s e l y e v e r y t h i n g c a n b e p u r c h a s e d . I n s t r u g g l i n g d e s p e r a t e l y t o m a i n t a i n t h e m o d e l w h e n c h a l l e n g e s t o i t a r i s e , t h e c h a r a c t e r s c h a m p i o n o n e t r a d i t i o n w h i c h L e v i n a s d e t e c t s i n t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e w e s t , w h e n h e c l a i m s t h a t p h i l o s o p h y i s " f u n d a m e n t a l l y o p p o s e d t o a G o d t h a t r e v e a l s . P h i l o s o p h y i s a t h e i s m , o r r a t h e r u n r e l i g i o n , n e g a t i o n o f a G o d t h a t r e v e a l s h i m s e l f a n d p u t s t r u t h s i n t o u s " ( M c G r a t h 9 6 ) . T h e c h a r a c t e r s d o , as I a r g u e i n t h e n e x t c h a p t e r , s e e m t o t r ea t t h e D i v i n e e n t i r e l y a s a p r o j e c t i o n , r a t h e r t h a n a r e l e v a t i o n . O n e m u s t o f c o u r s e a s s u m e t h a t h i s o w n p a r a l l e l s w i t h L u t h e r a r e a s u n c o n s c i o u s a s S h a k e s p e a r e ' s ; n e v e r t h e l e s s , l i k e L u t h e r a n d l i k e S h a k e s p e a r e , L e v i n a s c r i t i c i z e s a n e c o n o m i c Lawrence 114 view of the world in the name of revelation or at least in the name of gratuity, something which cannot be purchased. I would quibble with Eaglestone in arguing that an interruption is not necessarily in itself an ethical act. If New Historicism has taught us anything, it is that such interruptions might be contained. I will argue in the next chapter that the Fool's interruptions of the economic order of things do not fundamentally challenge them. More importantly for our present purposes, certain critics of Shakespeare's King Lear join the characters of the play in relentlessly containing alterity within economic structures and categories. Correctly describing the Lear world as one of social and economic exchange, they do not proceed to show how the play might imply other possibilities. Berger accuses Lear of giving away Cordelia "in such a way as to get her back again by competing with her husband for her attention, and conferring on her the offices of the nursery," and claims that Lear "inflicts his generosity" on all three of his daughters. Lear's effort, according to Berger, is to establish a debt that they cannot repay, and which will keep them perpetually beholden to him (Berger 29-31). Schneider, in the course of his detailed claim that the play is informed by stoicism, cites Cicero to the effect that gifts inevitably return to the hand of the giver. The exchange of benefits, what Schneider terms "mutuality", precedes "contracts, constitutions and laws" (Schneider 28). What neither Berger nor Schneider seem to consider, however, are the deficiencies of seeing the world as a network of reciprocal exchanges. In doing so, they share in the weakness of Lear's own worldview, within which the possibility of a truly generous love seems all but unthinkable for most of the length of the play. To make systems of exchange exhaustive is to render the love test not only comprehensible, but inevitable. What Berger terms the "darker purpose" of characters in the play, assumes a world in which characters are fundamentally at war and in which the self exists not only vis-a-vis the Other, but also actively in conflict with others, over and against them. His vision of the world, in Lawrence 115 other words, is not markedly different from that of Foucault or even Thomas Hobbes. Lear's purpose in the first scene, according to Berger is to play on everyone's curiosity and to stir up as much envy and contention as he can among the "younger strengths" with the aim of dominating and dividing them, humbling and punishing them. (Berger 31) One cannot disagree with Berger's sense that the resignation is less a gift than a gambit. By sacrificing what the quarto text calls "all cares and business of our state" (1.1.38) Lear hopes to win a claim on the love of his daughters and the "kind nursery" of Cordelia (1.1.123). The king's gambit conflates items of exchange-power, land, revenues-with items that are not purchasable, and cannot be earned, like love, respect, or Grace. Drawing attention to this fact is not terribly original; I would like to add, however, that Lear's confusion proceeds from a more general malaise in the world of the play, where reciprocal, economic relations are substituted for generous human relations. Several immaterial things become objects of exchange in the play. Lear offers to buy sanity, for instance: Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, To sweeten my imagination. There's money for thee. (4.6.129-31) In his contract with Kent, disguised as Caius, Lear offers an exchange of love for service, securing the bargain with (what else?) a cash payment. The doubly-fictional Edgar who supposedly pens the letter which Edmund claims to have found, conflates love and material rewards in promising that "If our father would sleep till I wak'd him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live the beloved of your brother" (1.2.50-52). Even Oswald attempts to buy the help of Edgar, giving Edgar his purse in hopes that the latter will bury him and deliver L a w r e n c e 1 1 6 h i s l e t t e r s ( 4 . 6 . 2 4 3 - 4 6 ) . P r a c t i c e s o f r a n s o m a n d d u e l l i n g s i m i l a r l y i n v o l v e a s y s t e m o f e x c h a n g e s . T h i n k i n g h i m s e l f c a p t u r e d b y C o r d e l i a ' s t r o o p s , L e a r i m m e d i a t e l y o f f e r s a r a n s o m ( 4 . 6 . 1 9 0 ) . N o t a l l o f t h e s e e x c h a n g e s i n v o l v e c a s h . R a t h e r t h a n o f f e r i n g a g a g e , E d m u n d o f f e r s " m y e x c h a n g e " t o A l b a n y ' s c h a l l e n g e ( 5 . 3 . 9 8 ) . H i s f o r g i v e n e s s o f E d g a r i s c o n s e q u e n t o n E d g a r ' s b e i n g " n o b l e " ( 5 . 3 . 1 6 4 - 6 5 ) . E v e n d e a t h i s n ' t g r a t u i t o u s f o r E d m u n d : b e i n g v a n q u i s h e d b y a n o b l e o p p o n e n t , h e h a s a c t u a l l y s u c c e e d e d i n m a i n t a i n i n g h i s h o n o u r , a s s u m i n g t h a t w e u n d e r s t a n d h o n o u r a s s t a tu s . I n t h e e n d , E d m u n d ' s " e x c h a n g e " h a s p u r c h a s e d h i m a s o r t o f v i c a r i o u s n o b i l i t y . M e r e l y t o b e k i l l e d b y a n o b l e m a n i m p l i e s t h a t h e h a s at l a s t s h e d t h e i n f a m y o f b a s t a r d y . S a m u e l J o h n s o n i s p e r h a p s w r o n g t o g l o s s t h e l i n e " L e t ' s e x c h a n g e c h a r i t y " b y s a y i n g t h a t S h a k e s p e a r e " g i v e s h i s h e a t h e n s t h e s e n t i m e n t s a n d p r a c t i c e s o f C h r i s t i a n i t y " ( J o h n s o n 2 2 0 ) . T h e g o o d a s w e l l a s t h e e v i l c h a r a c t e r s o f t h e p l a y s h o w t h e m s e l v e s t o h a v e a h o p e l e s s l y P e l a g i a n f a i t h i n t h e i r a b i l i t y t o o b t a i n a l m o s t a n y t h i n g t h r o u g h e x c h a n g e . L i k e L e v i n a s ' s w a g e - e a m e r , t h e y d o n o t h o p e f o r " t h e M e s s i a h , o r s a l v a t i o n ' - s o m e t h i n g c o m i n g f r o m w i t h o u t , r a d i c a l l y a l t e r i o r a n d u n e a m e d - s o m u c h a s c o m p e n s a t i o n f o r t h e i r e f f o r t s (Existence and Existents 9 1 ) . C a s h i s a n a b s t r a c t s o r t o f p u r c h a s i n g p o w e r , b u t n o t r e a l l y n e c e s s a r y t o t h e l o g i c o f e x c h a n g e . D e s p i t e S c h n e i d e r ' s c l a i m , L e a r d o e s n o t h a v e t o b e a " f r e e m a r k e t e e r " i n o r d e r t o w i s h t o d i v i d e h i s k i n g d o m i n a c c o r d a n c e w i t h h o w m u c h l o v e i s s h o w n t o h i m ( S c h n e i d e r 3 1 ) . O n t h e c o n t r a r y , t h e e x c h a n g e o f l o v e a s a n e c o n o m y o f m u t u a l o b l i g a t i o n s s e e m s m o r e c