The Hermeneutic Circle

The hermeneutic circle,” he was saying. “That’s what Dilthey called it. You don’t know what to do with the details unless you have a grip on the structure, and at the same time, you don’t know what to do with the structure unless you know the details. It’s true in life and in literature. The hermeneutic circle. It’s a vicious circle.”

David Denby quoting Columbia professor in the essay Does Homer Have Legs?

Soldier from the Wars Returning – A. E. Housman

Soldier from the wars returning,
Spoiler of the taken town,
Here is ease that asks not earning;
Turn you in and sit you down.

Peace is come and wars are over,
Welcome you and welcome all,
While the charger crops the clover
And his bridle hangs in stall.

Now no more of winters biting,
Filth in trench from tall to spring,
Summers full of sweat and fighting
For the Kesar or the King.

Rest you, charger, rust you, bridle;
Kings and kesars, keep your pay;
Soldier, sit you down and idle
At the inn of night for aye.

Thinking Shakespeare

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 82

How do actors breathe life into Shakespeare’s texts? How do they take language that’s centuries old and make it sound so real and immediate?
Barry Edelstein, the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director at The Old Globe in San Diego, is one of the nation’s most experienced Shakespeare directors. Twice a year, The Old Globe holds an event called Thinking Shakespeare Live! – a master class where you get to watch actors act and Edelstein direct – in essence, pulling back the curtain on the rehearsal room.

 

EDELSTEIN: It depends on the guy playing Marcellus doing a take after you say, “The air bites shrewdly.” So, your listeners will have to imagine that in the beat between the two halves of the line that the other guy is looking at you with a look of perplexity on his face and then you’ll get it. Go ahead.

BOGAEV: “The air bites shrewdly.”

EDELSTEIN: Huh?

BOGAEV: “It is very cold.”

EDELSTEIN: Oh. Right, so that’s, right he doesn’t say “huh” and he doesn’t say, “oh,” but there you go, that’s the idea.

BOGAEV: [LAUGH] Well, I can see it.

EDELSTEIN: Very good, see that’s it, you’re now a Shakespearean actor because we are asking ourselves, “Why am I talking this way?” And it’s never good enough to simply say, “Well, because it’s a Shakespeare play, and that’s how Shakespeare writes.” In the rehearsal room we’re trying to create human reality.

BOGAEV: So, it is this marriage of “Why am I saying these words now?” and “How is the language built?” because this is how you organize your master class, and your teaching, and I think we just talked about heightened language. You also include in these four categories “antithesis.” Now remind us what antithesis in rhetoric is.

EDELSTEIN: Antithesis is… sure. Antithesis is the big, big, big, big thing of Shakespeare. That’s the technique that he relies on really most. And antithesis is very simply opposition.

Moral Rules and Exceptions


Dealing With The Exception

The exception is perhaps the greatest obstacle for any moral theory to deal with. You adopt a supposedly ideal moral system which should tell you what to do to act morally in any possible case: all you have to do is deduce the proper action from your principle or set of principles, then follow it. No problem. You’ll be doing the right thing, and acting without sin. But then you run into that odd, unexpected situation where following your rulebook doesn’t seem so neat and tidy. This new case is special, unique, and unanticipated by your ethical system. In fact, it just feels wrong to follow the rules here in this instance. Do you go with your rulebook, or your current intuition?

There are many who would step in and try to defend principled (rulebook style) ethics. They have three obvious defenses:
(1) Simply deny that apparent problems create exceptions.
(2) Hold the view that principles can be rewritten so that the apparent exceptions are no longer exceptions.
(3) Argue that each apparent exceptional case is really a case of conflicting principles, where two or more principles both apply, but one is overruled by another of greater priority.

Why You Shouldn’t Be A Person Of Principle,
Ramsey McNabb, Philosophy Now

Schopenhauer – Desultory Quotes

If you want to know how you feel about someone take note of the impression an unexpected letter from him makes on you when you first see it on the doormat.

Every parting is a foretaste of death, and every reunion a foretaste of resurrection.

After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.

Money is human happiness in the abstract; and so the man who is no longer capable of enjoying such happiness in the concrete, sets his whole heart on money.

We seldom think of what we have, but always of what we lack.

Life and dreams are leaves of one and the same book. The systematic reading is real life, but when the actual reading hour (the day) has come to an end, and we have the period of recreation, we often continue idly to thumb over the leaves, and turn to a page here and there without method or connection. We sometimes turn up a page we have already read, at others one still unknown to us, but always from the same book.

“Eighty percent of life is showing up.” – Woody Allen

“First, you have to psych yourself into a good night’s sleep, after having arranged a fool proof wake-up call. Second, you have to be sure of your transportation arrangements when you do get up in the morning because your time is their money, and if you don’t know how you are getting to the studio or the location on time, you won’t have the job when you do get there, late. Establish where to go (the venue of your shoot might always be changing) and then mentally rehearse your journey there as if it were the first scene in the film. You’ve got to get your own act together before the camera’s act can begin. Being prepared isn’t just for the demands of your part; it’s also for the demands of the studio or location. You must get your bearings and establish where to go and what to do when you get there.”

Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making, Michael Caine