By Douglas M. MacDowell
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Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 250: To think the closure of representation is thus to think the cruel powers of death and play which permit presence to be born to itself, and pleasurably to consume itself through the representation in which it eludes itself in its deferral. To think the closure of representation is to think the tragic: not as the representation of fate, but as the fate of representation. Its gratuitous and baseless necessity. 44 Quoted by Derrida, Writing and Difference, 250.
If one is not misled by polemics that untiringly demand that the theatre offer beautiful costuming – that a single way of thinking, a one-way logic of events, be Palaia diaphora – an “old quarrel” 37 doubled onstage – one recognizes that the contrary should hold; especially in light of postmodernity, art has the task of disturbing conceptual orders, prescriptions and arrangements. 42 In the context at hand, of course, this does not mean endorsing a theatre of non-thinking, but rather one that goes looking for the dialectical adventures and aberrations of logification – one that involves stripping the Concept of its might, not negating it altogether.
It amounts to an actual fact, because it poses a basic problem – which has remained unsolved – of Platonic philosophy and, subsequently, of the theoretical tradition in Europe. To wit: already for Plato, Palaia diaphora – an “old quarrel” 27 as soon as the process of cognition seems to have been discerned, philosophical reflection becomes entangled in insurmountable ambiguity. Plato categorically distinguishes between opsis, or contemplation, and nous, intellection – in contrast to the conceptions of the Homeric age, when greater continuity between seeing and thinking was believed to exist.