By Jeremiah L. Alberg
Read or Download Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous Texts (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture) PDF
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Extra resources for Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses: Reading Scandalous Texts (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture)
What previously revealed reality and made it accessible now swallows it up. ”13 It becomes merely a particular instance of a more general concept, with the latter assuming priority. It seems, then, that there is a duality and a duplicity built into language and its relation to reality. The way in which language informs reality is such that both are rendered deeply ambiguous and unstable. For words to lose their meaning implies that we, as language-users, also lose the reality to which they grant access.
Destruction of a bearer of meaning (the signiﬁer) in order to release its meaning (the signiﬁed) is grounded in this ancient, sacriﬁcial view of meaning: the destruction of the victim brings blessings from the gods. The victim, whose death reconciles the community with the gods and each other, is the universal signiﬁer of violence and peace, life and death. Violence becomes a method for generating signiﬁcance even in the modern world. We see this when the reaction to the scandal that something is being hidden or withheld by the cultural signiﬁer that promised access leads to the destruction of the signiﬁer in the hope of releasing meaning.
The women are exiled from Thebes, and thus Dionysus’s revenge is exacted. Like Pentheus, we want to look at the sacred mysteries of this orgiastic cult, but these mysteries are so constructed that they distract us from their reality. To see the reality, we would have to get beneath the surface, but tragedy is designed (at least before the appearance of Euripides) to prevent that. It keeps the viewer in subjugation without ever revealing the real mystery. The viewing itself becomes the reason why one cannot see.