which initial enunciation of a simple binary infers to be also (eas- ily) decidable, proves, as the soliloquy unfolds, impossible to achieve. I want in this essay to consider other examples of the use of this binaric mode habitual to human speaking, but ones which, in con- trast to Hamlet’s usage, propose simple oppositional singularities that go unquestioned. Such a habit of speaking, which seeks to con- ceptualize the world in terms of a putative, easily identifiable, and resolvable binary singularity suggests, I would argue, one possible reason for the fears expressed in different ways by both Thomas Adams and Howard Brenton. In attempting in this essay a reading of a number of diverse examples of such a binaric mode of speaking reality into being, I will also draw briefly on one aspect of a habit of speaking evident in the Southern African Tswana conceptualiza- tion of human and ‘‘humane’’ action—though patently in no way ‘‘early-modern,’’ and itself arguably a version of what we under- stand to be deconstruction. What I want to foreground is the partic- ular stress, within this Tswana analytic procedure, upon ongoing multiplicity of relevance. I call such a stress ‘‘processual,’’ and want to suggest that such an emphasis may be useful to us for our own (deconstructive) readings. It may help to provide for, or more consistently facilitate, the putative possibility of understanding or effecting the ‘‘ethical’’ and especially the ‘‘humane’’—just those outcomes which the early modern humanists or perhaps certain present-day human rights activists might have wanted, or still want the terms ‘‘human’’ speaking or ‘‘human’’ action, in differing ways, to resonate. Having noted this, I will seek evidence of processual utterance amid those dominantly patriarchal and misogynist gen- PAGE 135 ................. 17296$ $CH8 07-17-09 10:47:38 PS
136 M ARTIN O RKIN der binaries apparent in Ben Jonson’s writing in Timber or Discov- eries as well as in one instance of the scholarship that deals with Hamlet’s famous declaration, ‘‘Frailty, thy name is woman’’ (1.2.146). I will then explore evidence of processual utterance amid certain occasional, proto-racist binaries involving the colors ‘‘black’’ and ‘‘white’’ operative in the language of Hamlet. Turning, finally, to a very different set of examples, I will juxtapose, against what I notice in these instances of early modern writing, represen- tative instances of the mode of political and religious enunciation to be found in the early twenty-first century writing of the Anglo- Kuwaiti Sulayman Al-Bassam, in his Al-Hamlet Summit. My aim throughout will be to explore whether attention to the processual potential sometimes apparent in human utterance might counter- balance or help to diminish those deadlier implications or conse- quences evident from the more dominantly used or recognized mode of (unquestioning) binary singularity.
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- Hamlet, MARTIN ORKIN