Sunday, June 01, 2008

Summer Reading: Hermes' Dilemma and Hamlet's Desire

Hello all! I am going to host a summer reading group on the work "Hermes' Dilemma and Hamlet's Desire; On the Epistemology of Interpretation" by Vincent Crapanzano. Hope very much that you all can join me as we make our merry way through pages and pages of highly erudite vocabulary!
An excerpt from the back: Treating subjects as diverse as Roman carnivals and Balinese cockfights, circumcision, dreaming, and spirit possession in Morocco, transference in psychoanalysis, self-characterization in teenage girls' gossip, Alice in Wonderland, and Jane Austen's Emma, dialogue models in hermeneutics, and semantic vertigo in Hamlet's Elsinore, these essays look critically at the inner workings of interpretation in human sciences and literary study. In modern Western culture's attempts to interpret and communicate the nature of other cultures, Crapanzano finds a crippling crisis in representation. He shows how the quest for knowledge of "exotic" and "primitive" people is often confused with an unexamined need for self-definition, and he sets forth the resulting interpretive paradoxes, particularly the suppression of any awareness of the play of power and desire in such an approach. What is missing from contemporary theories of interpretation is, in Crapanzano's account, a crucial understanding of the role context plays in any act of communication or its representation-in interpretation itself.

I am interested in this book due to its in-depth and contextual/historical point of view upon the academic world, literature, writing, and I think in a wider sense, human communication in general. If you are interested in the Summer Reading Group, please take advantage of the linked page for this book,

If you would rather not join in on this particular reading, I encourage you to go out there and find something thought-provoking and incindiary to challenge your mind this summer! My suggestion: Said's "Orientalism" if you have never read it. Happy reading!