• On the Hither Side of Time: Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul and the Old English Ruin

    Eileen Joy (see profile)
    Anglo-Saxon / Old English, Cultural Studies, Historical theory and the philosophy of history, Medieval Studies, Poetics and Poetry
    English literature--Old English, Drama, Poetics, Poetry, Historiography
    Item Type:
    Tony Kushner, iraq war, afghanistan, Ruins, historical memory, Old English literature, Modern drama, Poetics and poetry
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    Through an analysis of Tony Kushner’s 2001 play "Homebody/Kabul" and the Old English "Ruin" poem, this essay explores the tension, anxiety, and isolation inherent in the aesthetic and philosophical enterprises of measuring the distance that separates myth from real being (a project that takes place, I would argue, against Levinas, not just outside of the artwork--as criticism--but also within it, in the relationship between the artist and his medium, and even within the medium itself). This essay also ruminates, with reference to an extremely topical contemporary play and a densely opaque remnant of Anglo-Saxon poetry, the ethical dimensions of the use of the imagination to stage encounters between the present and the past, between being and history. According to Levinas, being cannot be explained in its total reality without “the perspective of the relation with the other” (“Reality and its shadow”); therefore, following the ethical thought of Levinas, and also the historiographical thought of Michel de Certeau, this essay looks as well at the expression of heterology (or, a discourse on the Other) in both works--an expression, moreover, that, in Certeau’s words, “causes the production of an exchange among living souls” that “fashions out of language the forever-remnant trace of a beginning that is as impossible to recover as to forget.”
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    Journal article    
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    4 years ago
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