Reviewing The Article The Presuppositions English Literature Essay

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Adorno, in an article titled "Presuppositions", underlines the need of linguistic expressions' being split from concepts, since "the definitions are themselves the result of a reification, a forgetting; they are never what they would so like to be" (100). Adorno draws our attention to the fact that because of its kinetic character language itself excludes fixed meanings. It is the paper Bloom reads while digesting and wipes himself, or the newspaper he hides his love letter in it and lays under his knee while bending down to pray. Hence what is worth analyzing are the associations, the connections of concepts with each other and things. A work of art revealing these associations gives the concept a sense of moving. As for Joyce, Adorno suggests that through inherent associations "an objective physiognomy of words is linked […] with the rhythm of the whole" (101). Obviously the revealed unity is quite different than the reconciliation Hegelian dialectic suggests. As Adorno states in Minima Moralia "the point should not be to have absolutely correct, irrefutable, water-tight cognitions-for they inevitably boil down to tautologies, but insights which cause the question of their justness to judge itself" (71). Joyce's Ulysses, in that sense, is an example par excellence of Adornian negative aesthetics.

Since The Tempest is a play of reconciliation I will compare it with Ulysses in the light of Beethoven, rather than Schoenberg, or Berg, or another modern composer. The piece I pick as the motif of my analysis is the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73. By doing so I hope to reveal a magical trick common in both music and literature. In the case of Ulysses, rather than proposing general arguments about the whole work I will concentrate on "Scylla and Charybdis" episode. For, beside its being full of allusions and direct references to Shakespeare, it is this episode where Stephen gets really close to what he looks for, in one of those really rare moments.

The Gravity of the Rabbit Hole

The opening chord of the concerto is supposed to be E flat major, which consists of E flat, G, and B flat. However Beethoven omits B flat, and contrary to classical harmony he does not introduce it for a while. George Grove discriminates this Concerto, along with the fourth Concerto, from the previous concertos by emphasizing its "splendid opening": "fortissimo-pedal down-grand arpeggios flying all over the keyboard-ad libitum-espressivo-everything that can give the grandest effect!" (173). With a growing charming and boldness, admits Grove, "the pianoforte makes itself felt as the mistress of the situation" (173). After the prelude-like opening, the initial theme is introduced first by the strings, which is immediately taken up by the clarinets. Rather than introducing the second theme in the previously omitted B flat chord, Beethoven prefers first "staccato in E flat minor in the strings and then legato in E flat major in the horns" (Grove, 173).

By hindering B flat Beethoven prepares the audience for a more striking reconciliation. In comparison with a proper E flat major, the opening chord of the concerto makes us feel a sense of lack, "eminent lack" if you will. Such a feeling is full of great potential, insofar as the end waiting for us is still indistinct, if not mysterious. For Beethoven keeps the listener in great excitement by suspending the dominant until mm. 151. Even to the extent that piano expositions following the development section of the orchestra turn around the dominant within an enharmonic relationship (Lindeman 19). We hear a marvelous version of the second theme given out by the piano in C flat major, which is followed first by a joyous but short tune and then by a mysterious version of the theme in pianoforte in B minor. This swaying to and fro within the enharmonic circle, which is already turned out to a struggle between the piano and the orchestra is finally be resolved with the introduction of B flat in a march-like figure given out by the orchestra in mm. 167-174. [1] At this magical moment, when we find what was lacking, what was lost, or what was taken away from us, Beethoven makes us feel that the thing we have been looking for was always there, in our hands. This is the magic, finding what we look for in ourselves.

Clashing Plots

The Tempest consists of different plots intersecting each other. By the term "plot" I mean "narrative", or "tale", derived from narrators' pre-histories, and determined by social conditions in general and individual will and desire in particular.

The first plot, or the tonic key of the work is that of Prospero, which also contains Miranda, Caliban, and Ariel. Prospero begins his narrative by appeasing Miranda in Act 1 Scene 2: "I have done nothing but in care of thee, / Of thee, my dear one, thee my daughter" (1.2.16). Taking the opportunity of Miranda's curiosity, Prospero absorbs her into his tale by exclaiming "The hour's now come" (1.2.36). Miranda, who works as Prospero's conscience throughout the play and is unable to remember how they came on to the island, opes her ear and obeys his father. She demands but her past with an explanation for her father's temper, and Prospero meets her demands with the art of rhetoric. His story represents a continuous form interrupted only by Prospero's questions requiring consent and Miranda's exclamations, which signify how she increasingly accommodates herself to her father's narrative.

As for Ariel, who would have been cited as Prospero's alter ego if Prospero had been a patient of a modern psychiatrist, the tonic key subsumes him as well. At first glance Ariel seems bounded by Prospero's tale more than his master, since he recounts the shipwreck with great passion as if it is his own idea. Nevertheless, he dares to demands his freedom, and Prospero prevents this mutiny with the art of dialectic. That is Prospero questions Ariel till he finds the truth himself and obeys his master. Whereas in the case of Caliban, who wants revenge and to overthrow the despot, the art Prospero uses is politics. He accuses Caliban of simply being what he is, and by threatening him with torture Prospero manages to keep him bounded by his plot.

By hardening his narrative Prospero braces himself for assimilating castaways into his plot. However, as soon as he launches the conquest, two pillars of his tale will break away to their own plots: Miranda-when she meets Ferdinand, that is immediately after encountering some more amiable rhetoric than her father provides-and Caliban-who no sooner allies himself with Stephano and Trinculo than he revolts-split from Prospero's plot, not unlike Pallas Athena springs from Zeus's head.

In an article titled "Prospero and Caliban" Peter Hulme places Prospero somewhere between a playwright and a stage-manager. Admitting other characters' acting "according to their own will and volition", Hulme suggests that Prospero does not have total control over his "play in the play" as much as a writer would have. On the other hand, asserts Hulme, since Prospero manages to incite Sebastian and Antonio, in a state of daydreaming, to conspire against Alonso his "actual control" should not be underestimated (116). However their ability to stay awake while the rest of the court party fall asleep may also be read as a resistance to Ariel's intervention by virtue of their strong desires and wills. In his "From Tempest to Epilogue" James Walter divides the play into different plots, although the conductors of these plots are Ferdinand rather than Miranda, and Stephano rather than Caliban (66f). For Walter bases his analysis on Augustinian allegory, notwithstanding his emphasis on characters' ability to follow their own desires, each plot relies on an attempt to create "a new society based on a new man," which he cites as the unitive theme of Tempest (66). Although, according to Walter's reading each figure is related to its own sense of "new man", grounding contradictions on an identical root would shift the meaning from being relied on transforming individuals to fixed, negating concepts.

Throughout the first act we observe a kind of inner battle at the end of which Prospero oppresses his opponents. However the contradictions presented here are still far away from a possible reconciliation. When the first act ends Shakespeare leaves us at the edge of a total dissolution. The only possibility of reconciliation, the flourishing love between Miranda and Ferdinand, is avoided by Prospero warning Miranda in "Speak not you for him; he's a traitor" (1.2.461) and the closing phrase of the act "speak not for him" (1.2.503).

In the second act Shakespeare introduces to us the Sebastian-Antonio plot and the developing portion of Caliban's narrative. Insofar as Alonso and Gonzalo are deprived of a combination of will and desire, they cannot create their own narratives, and in the following scenes we observe a terrible clash of the four plots trying to overthrow each other. In this struggle Ariel, and Prospero, seek to manipulate other characters with music. Curious enough, although Caliban's team is generally considered as a group of clowns, only they try to resist Ariel's intervention by chanting their own tune. Despite the simplicity of their libretto and Ariel's inevitable interference in their melody, they give it a try on a more "reasonable" ground.

In Act 4 the play seems to reach a reconciliation, where most contradictions come to a unity, with Prospero's consent "If I have too austerely punished you, / your compensation makes amends, for I / Have given you here a third of mine own life" (4.1.0). Not unlike Beethoven, Shakespeare wants to make the reconciliation remarkable. Thus Ariel presents us a magical masque. However, at the end of this magical theatre the closing danger of Caliban's coup d'état and Prospero's heating temper move us away from a peaceful unity and leave us in a state of inconsistency with Miranda and Ferdinand both crying "We wish your peace" (4.1.160).

What is waiting for us now? Just a few seconds after being shown a magical, glorious unity we are now in a cave smelling all horse piss in great indignation as Trinculo admits. In Stephano's words: "There is not only disgrace and dishonour in that, monster, but an infinite loss" (4.1.209). Are we getting lost in an infinite loss? On the contrary, this diminished scene is but a chromatic coloring. Through these ascending and descending states of mind Shakespeare prepares us for the final reconciliation of contradictions, which would also recapitulate all plots and drive them into unity, and make us to find ourselves "when no man was his own" (5.1.213).

To and Fro

In Homer's Odysseus, after Odysseus and his men return to Circe's island from Hades, Circe proposes him two ways, equally dangerous, to set sail for his home. Odysseus chooses one, which is a passage between Scylla ("a six-headed monster [that lives] on a sharp mountain peak") and Charybdis (a whirlpool). If he takes the Scylla's side he must sacrifice one man for every gullet. However, taking Charybdis bears the risk of being engulfed totally (Gifford ,192).

In the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode we find Stephen in a discussion on Shakespeare with a pair of librarians. One of them, "the quaker librarian" John Eglinton is an arrant Platonist, who is interested not in Shakespeare as a historical figure but in the words of his protagonists, Hamlet for instance. Per contra, Stephen, an arrant Aristotelian, tries to reveal the meaning latent in Hamlet by looking at Shakespeare's relations with his son Hamnet, his lovers, and even the street he walked from his house to the Globe Theatre. Throughout the episode Stephen sways to and fro between Scylla and Charybdis. What is the right move? Engaging only in intellectual studies, or engaging in worldly things: being un homme de lettre, or un homme de terre. Is there a middle way? Is there anything common between the two?

These are Stephen's life-long questions. While sailing into Shakespeare he discovers himself. He mournfully remembers Cranly whose friendship he sacrificed, although he states, "A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery" (9:228). However, from such a hollow assertion he would shift to the need of being with a woman, or having an heir:

Marina, Stephen said, a child of storm, Miranda, a wonder, Perdita, that which was lost. What was lost is given back to him: his daughter's child. My dearest wife, Pericles says, was like this maid. Will any man love the daughter if he has not loved the mother? Will he not see reborn in her, with the memory of his own youth added, another image? (9:420)

What we have here is no less than a battle given by Stephen against himself. These inner contradictions are also related to the environment. While speaking to the librarians he uses French phrases. When Buck Mulligan joins the party we begin to hear more quotations in Latin.

Beneath this chaotic nebula of contradictions we find Stephen sailing on his way: "Do you know what you are talking about? Love, yes. Word known to all men" (9:429). The on going struggle instantly reveals a point of reconciliation. Though he immediately shifts from that point back to the contradiction, he would later come to another point of reconciliation, paternal love, when Bloom, his spiritual father, joins the picture. Erotic, paternal, or intellectual love: the word is known to all men. It is the most earthly thing, and also the most transcendent. It is this feeling of being in-between that makes the reconciliation possible. However if we want to reveal the lines where borders are drawn we need to get beyond these borders. Or as Stephen puts it: "there can be no reconciliation, if there has not been a sundering" (9:397).

Contradictions are derived from what are lacking. By holding up the dominant key, or by driving the characters into madness through ascending and descending states of mind, or by setting transcendentally identical concepts in motion through revealing their associations the artist creates a magical sundering. In works like Ulysses, notwithstanding the work's instant striving for a unity as a whole, recapitulation does not manifest itself by returning to a primordial state or through its instances' being assimilated into each other. Thus revealing the latent unity of the work is possible through either a deep analysis of each instance and deducing their unity or picking up an appropriate variable and reaching the core of a group of united instances. The latter process would be a combination of deductive and inductive methods. Such an approach would crystallize the borders concealing the latent unity, which consists not of a fixed tonal order but of a serial symbiosis.