Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Experiencing Othello is an act of self-creation

Othello is not an attack on love...It is, rather, a condensed focus on the violence inherent in the very idea of deep erotic attachments. This, on its own, does not mean that such bonds should be avoided, and so here the play is not read as a dismissal of love but as a mode of distancing from its idealization...Nussbaum and Diamond have urged that there are acts of thought that take place while reading literature that are themselves morally worthy and so constitute moral activity. They have said this regarding empathy to characters, but there are other acts of this kind. When in The Relevance of the Beautiful Gadamer identified art with symbol, he explained the phenomenology of symbolic thought through a process of participation and self-completion that the symbol offers to the temporally limited self. Choosing to relate to something as symbolic is thus choosing a completion of one's identity (which also explains why attacks on symbols can hurt as they do; selves, rather than objects, are being offended). Literary works can thereby turn into more than aesthetic objects to be comtemplated at one time or another: they become invitations for a completion of one's identity. Choosing to relate to Othello as a love-as-death spectacle, entering and reentering the closing scene where a direct act of violence reciprocates indirect violence, is thus not merely an operation of thought but an act of self-creating that is itself the taking of a moral stance in relation to erotic ideology, a stance in which the very idea of loving violence can meaninglully resonate. We thereby allow Othello to enter much more than a bedchamber with his light. - Tzachi Zamir

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful thought. This probably explains why I so strongly dislike the operatic version.