I have a presentation tomorrow. I’ve been preparing for it for about a week, maybe a bit more than that. I did have something of a headstart by visiting the library two weeks prior and printing things that seemed to be of interest, but it wasn’t a headstart that I made use of fully, so I guess it doesn’t really count.
My presentation is on Measure for Measure, a play I’ve never read before. I focus on the Duke and try to use a combination of different frameworks to tease out his irreducible complexity. I imagine you could call it a deconstructivist approach if you really wanted to. In doing so, I came to an understanding not just of the Duke, but of the play in general as perhaps the ultimate extension of Shakespeare’s metatheatre. In pushing the comedy to its limits, Shakespeare exposes its artificiality and constructedness of the theatre, but also the artificiality and constructedness of our world.
I have no doubt that this would have been blatantly obvious to many people in the first place, but it wasn’t to me and I love how digging into this play has essentially made me fall in love with it. I remember this Derrida interview where the interviewer (I don’t remember who it was) refers to his personal library and asks something to the effect of, Have you read all of these books? And Derrida says (I’m paraphrasing, of course), I’ve only read four of them. But I read them very carefully. The common myth in the literature department here is that analysing a text you adore can make you fall out of love with it; but sometimes, an opposite effect can take place, and when it does, it’s definitely a wonderful thing.