Monday, 14 March 2016

Who Am I?

My name is Gareth K Vile, and I am a critic. I am also a student at
Mr Balme
the University of Glasgow.

There is this language idea... it's called e-prime. I am sure it is more complicated than I am about to claim, but it seems basically to be about not using the verb to be to make statements about objects.

So let's try that first paragraph again.

I call myself Gareth K Vile, and I work as a critic, both for The List and on my own blog. I study dramaturgy at the University of Glasgow. 

See the difference: I make no claims about my identity, only about my behaviour. 

I only mention this because I experience a contradiction between my two sets of behaviour. I want to work out the tensions these roles create in my sense of self.

Let's try that last sentence again.

I want to work out the tensions that arise when I write about performance.

I mean, who cares about 'my sense of self'? Can I offer empirical evidence that either 'sense' or 'self' exists? I can gaze at my navel all day - there's plenty of it to see. But who cares?

My writing, however, places itself in the public domain, a performance. And let's get to the idiocy that runs through it like the mould on fancy cheese.

I read this sentence earlier, from Balme's The Theatrical Public Sphere.

Dennis Kennedy has adumbrated this scholarly paradox which oscillates between an empirical psychological or social entity on the one hand, that most scholars in the humanities have neither the training nor inclination to investigate, and a theatrical construct, 'a pale hypothetical inference of the commentator's imagination', on the other.

Hold it right there, skipper. If I wrote like that on my blog, or for The List, I would be called not Gareth K Vile but a pretentious wanker. But if I wrote that in an essay, I might get a tick and a 'good point!!!!' pencilled in the margin.

Just so I appear to understand Balme's contention, I'd like to add that he pinpoints the problems in the way that scholars discuss 'the audience' - they sometimes mean one thing, sometimes something else.

When I ponce about performing the role of 'teacher of criticism', I often attack critics who use 'we' in reviews. I have a catch-phrase: 'the only we that I recognise is the one I need if the show goes on over ninety minutes.' 

I don't believe that a critic can speak on behalf of an audience: say 'I', not 'we' (and definitely not 'one', unless the Queen wrote the review). I quite like the Rastafarian use of 'I and I', though, denoting the individual self and its bond with God.

I think that Balme and I agree that 'we' represents 'a pale hypothetical inference of the commentator's imagination'. So the academic formulation does support my critical attitudes... 

My alleged crisis takes on a familiar form: I perform different identities, depending on the context. The relationship between academic reading and critical writing, however, looks healthy. 

Well, it has given me a rambling article, at least...

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