Agitated States: Performance in the American Theater of by Anthony James Kubiak

By Anthony James Kubiak

From the earliest Puritan monitors of piety and rectitude to the present-day epidemic of staged institution massacres, the historical past of the USA has been characterised through a twin impulse: to forged public occasion and personality as excessive drama, and to brush off theater and theatricalization as un-American, even evil. This publication rethinks American background as theater, and theater because the ethos and substance of yank lifestyles, satirically repudiated at each flip via the tradition it produces. starting with the writings of John Winthrop and others, in the course of the Federalist and ''romantic'' levels of yankee cultural lifestyles, and into the fashionable and modern sessions, Anthony Kubiak unearths an the USA no longer often chanced on through conventional or materialist ways to background. He deploys the psychoanalytic idea of Jacques Lacan, the cultural thought of SlavojZizek, and the functionality concept of Herbert Blau in an remarkable reappraisal of dominant American identification, tradition, and background. Anthony Kubiak is affiliate Professor of English, collage of South Florida. he's additionally writer of phases of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion as Theatre background .

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Each misses the hollow point, the fetish/phobic object of American culture and history that passes instead into the hands of a seemingly ever-increasing number of child psychopaths-children whose rifle scopes encircle and point back to the very institution of America as theater, whose crosshairs target the auricle in the brain33 where thought literally and figuratively disap- pears, the hole in mind where theater ought to appear, but where, within American amnesis, it simply will not. Awash in the theatrical, infinitely refracted and splintered within the prismatics of a society of spectacle, we nonetheless still desperately need a theater, a viable the- ater effected through the textures and textualities of thought, to see it (thought), and to think and feel it through.

The desire emerging out of this Sartrean voyeurism is the desire to be caught in the cross-reflected strategies of theater, revealing that one conceals, concealing the revelation, making sure the ruse is discovered, then covering up again, seducing the watcher in the shadows with the desire to be caught watching. It doesn't matter that Wigglesworth may not ever have imagined his diaries would one day be read by others, much less published; the ontologic desire of presentation and perfor- mance, finally of theater, animates his writing.

Theater (as opposed to performance or performativity, or even, as the term is often used, theatricality) shows, when it is most itself, that it is always occurring in "the other scene"-or rather, that theater is the scene that shows the other scene of violence and desire. Indeed, if, as I have said, American culture is the way it is because of its theater, the- ater is the way it is not merely or even primarily because of culture's function as vehicle for ideology, but because of culture's drive to per- formance through the structures of thought.

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