A Touch More Rare: Harry Berger, Jr., and the Arts of by Nina Levine, David Lee Miller

By Nina Levine, David Lee Miller

Harry Berger, Jr., has lengthy been one in all our so much respected and revered literary and cultural critics. because the past due nineties, a circulate of outstanding and leading edge courses have proven how very extensive his pursuits are, relocating from Shakespeare to baroque portray, to Plato, to theories of early culture.In this quantity a amazing workforce of students gathers to rejoice the paintings of Harry Berger, Jr. To celebrate,in Berger's phrases, is to go to anything both in nice numbers in any other case frequently-to leave and are available again, leave and are available again, leave and are available again. Celebrating is what you do the second one or 3rd time round, yet now not the 1st. To rejoice is to revisit. To revisit is to revise. social gathering is the eureka of revision.Not simply former scholars yet unusual colleagues and students come jointly in those pages to find Berger's eurekas-to revisit the rigor and originality of his feedback, and infrequently to revise its conclusions, throughout the enjoyment of strenuous engagement. Nineteen essays on Berger's Shakespeare, his Spenser, his Plato, and his Rembrandt, on his theories of interpretation and cultural swap and at the ethos of his severe and pedagogical types, open new methods to the fabulous ongoing physique of labor authored through Berger. An creation by means of the editors and an afterword by way of Berger himself position this pageant of interpretation within the context of Berger's highbrow improvement and the reception of his paintings from the mid-twentieth century into the 1st decade of the twenty-first.

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The effort often has a kind of comic charm; it is a version of the clown’s wink of complicity with his audience, at once disarming and engaging, warding off the evil eye, whether it looks from inside or outside. The other sense of the phrase ‘‘self-hatred’’ I have in mind is more conventional. One of the particular forms in which the self shows its danger, and becomes an object of Berger’s suspicion, is in its doubt, fear, distrust, or hatred of itself. For Berger, it is the self’s inability to bear its own failures, aggressions, and fears (even its fear of its own fear) that in turn leads to some of the self’s most steadfast and corrosive acts of evasion, especially the self’s projections of its fears onto others.

This is a modest revelation. But it is the best temperance can do. 2 Berger makes this ‘‘modest revelation’’ seem more and more modest as his passage continues, until suddenly one realizes almost as a surprise that what seemed like a celebration of the successful conclusion to the quest has instead become a lament for the limitations of temperance as a virtue and an evocation of the ways in which deeper imaginings may occasionally be visible through its veils. Finally, Berger wants to suggest the incompleteness and inadequacy of temperance as an ethical mode for confronting the fallen, diminished world in which mortal beings operate, but by quoting the final lines of Paradise Lost to do so, he implicitly contrasts his own ending with Guyon’s—as he and the reader hand in hand but slowly wend their way out of the book and away from the limitations of Guyon Susanne L.

The mystery is not only in its origins but in how we should regard it, how we should stand toward it. Berger’s appeal to the play of language—something that serves not to alleviate pain or fear but to open up the energies of displacement and the truths of complicity—suggests one way out. ’’18 But the appeal to language does not for me unknot the mystery or contradiction in ‘‘self-hatred,’’ partly because the source of fascination and the source of fear are so bound up together. What would it mean to bear that fear, to bear its pains and unknowability, and so help to undo its tendency to be displaced?

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