Modern Language Association

A Phenomenological Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor Author(s): Howard D. Pearce Source: PMLA, Vol. 95, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 42-57 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: Accessed: 08/01/2009 10:11
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A Phenomenological Mundi Approachto the Theatrum Metaphor
IN THE COURSE of David Storey's play
netically elaborated in English drama during the early years of the seventeenth century. In a period of such intellectual and political turmoil, skepticism, and factionalism, the theatrum mundi topos, along with its concomitant epistemological and ontological questions, proved exceptionally provocative. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, likewise troubled, found it equally appealing. But it has not served exclusively in times of upheaval, discarded world designs, and failed beliefs. Indeed, in more stable eras the reminder that life is but a dream might have cemented a belief in the Christian heaven or confirmedhopes for the Platonic ideal. My intention is to suggest not so much the uses made of the metaphor in a certain age as the pertinent characteristics that make it available in any time. My approach is through tentative comparisons of a few illustrative plays, and my assumptions are essentially phenomenological, though I cannot claim the advantage of established methodology or tried systems. While I admit the influence of such phenomenological thought as that of Jean-Paul Sartre and Edmund Husserl, the primary phenomenological impetus here comes from Martin Heidegger-from what I consider the central meaningfulness, coherence, order, and structure entailed in his conception of "Being," rather than from his themes of death, nothingness, and the "abyss" (Ab-grund). Certainly nothingness and meaninglessness are implicated in this conception, but the examination of being, language, and relationships is clearly the pursuit of the comprehensible and the explicable. My discussion, then, ranges freely between systematization and flow. In developing my ideas, I remain open, to a degree playful, and, as I have said, tentative. The tentative remains "essay," exploratory and descriptive. It is in

The Contractor (1970), a large tent is erected on stage, with its opening, toward the audience, corresponding precisely to the nonexistent fourth wall of dramatic realism. Standing within this canvas structure, the character Fitzpatrick asks, "Between these four walls-or three and a half to be exact-what manner of crime was . .. committed?"' His parenthetical correction points up relationships between life and the stage that have maintained a powerful theatrical appeal throughout Western literature. The tent is a stage within a stage. Fitzpatrick, then, is drawing a parallel between tent and stage, the contractor Ewbank's celebration and the playwright Storey's play. The correspondence Fitzpatrick highlights is, of course, not only a particular commentary on modern theatrical conventions but also an evocation of the perennial theatrumn mundi metaphor.' The theatrum mundi metaphor constitutes, of course, a complex of relations that involve what might be distinguished as other metaphors. If the stage, taken at face value, is an untrue, unreal, or fictional reflection of life itself, then in Platonic terms any such "pale" imitation of reality is analogous to the stage. Thus stage and dream-the two most pervasive manifestations of the imaginative, imaginary, subjective, ideal dimension, as opposed to the actual and material -become easily linked as metaphors and implicitly invoke each other. It would be possible to expand consideration of plays to another reflection of the real-unreal or real-ideal dialectic, that of soberness-inebriation, but that would only lead us on to the sanity-insanity metaphor; hence I try to restrict my discussion to the traditional close association of the metaphors of stage and dream. The persistent stage-life metaphor was fre-


Howard D. Pearce
phenomenological terms a "look at," a "letting appear," without the pretense of casting everything into doubt. Thus I do not claim to present final readings or to have discovered the meaning of any particular play. Each new approach is a discovery, a beginning, but not a beginning that pretends to discover without the benefit of the structures of previous experience. For a theory of those structures I turn to Heidegger, and I try to describe them as I think the theater-dream metaphor demonstrates them. The essential structure of Being Heidegger names "dimension." While I do not consider myself qualified to defend Heidegger's ontology, I do find in it a means of expressing something of the way our thinking develops. I accept Heidegger's central argument that the dimensionalizing we engage involves not a neo-Kantian imposition of mental forms on the world but a relationship between mind and world. In approaching a definition of "dimension," I must first point out that I use the term "world" in accordance with Heidegger's distinction between "earth" and "world." "Earth" is, in simplest terms, the natural "ground' of human existence, the conditions we share with animals on this planet. But in building on that base we have as human beings qualified the natural conditions, and the "world" is the totality of possible structures in which we engage one another and things on the earth. World is thus man on the earth, experiencing and interpreting, structuring, apprehending through his capacity for drawing relationships. The essential, underlying structures of relationship are dimensions.3 Before gaining normative, logical, or persuasive force, before being accepted as value-filled concept or belief, essential structure is grounded in dimensional relations. That is, it originates in time and under the conditions of earth. Those conditions are not random and chaotic, not mere flow out of and back into the nothing. While for Heidegger Being is lit up, manifest, only out of the darkness, it always involves structure. As dimensionality, Being comprises the possible relationships suggested by such oppositive pairs as inner and outer, subject and object, before and after, near and far, superior and inferior. Dimensionalizing becomes the stratification Plato likes to think in terms of, circles within circles, layer on layer.


Swift's fleas are dimensionalized, having smaller fleas to prey on them: "And these have smaller Fleas to bite 'em, / And so proceed ad infinitum." For the most part, when we advert to these dimensional structures in our everyday activities, we are using spontaneous systems of reference that we never reflect on. Dimensionalizing, like rational and logical thought, involves our tendency to see categorically, but, like metaphor, it also involves our tendency to see concretely. Though the end of our structuring is to posit ideal or material relationships, to affirm certain characteristics and relations as genuine, the dimensional form itself, the structuring, is speculative; it is thinking on relations, rather than positing their existence or their values. It is a manner of presenting relations and. like metaphor, it presents them in relative, temporospatial terms. By the word "dimension," then, I mean something more radical, more essentially structural, than either a system of classification or a metaphor per se. Taxonomic systems tend to become closed, "scientific" structures, like the familygenus-species strata of botany and zoology or the sentence diagrams of grammar. And they are abstract, like the forms in mathematics and logic. In contrast, the term "metaphor" suggests a concrete referent that can be understood in terms of similarity and difference. Metaphor may too easily be regarded as image and referent, without awareness that an essential structural relation is necessary for any particular metaphorical activity to take place. Dimensionality involves relationship, reference, structuring of event, and thus it is diagrammatic,using language and "earth" as structure. The empty taxonomies of botany can be brought toward dimensionality, can be diagramed hierarchically as superior and inferior strata. They can be diagramed as trees and branches, the way sentences used to be. They can be diagramed as sets of concentric circles, a certain species standing at the center of larger circles of genus, family, order ... kingdom. Obviously I am alluding to some of the oldest and most fundamental apprehensions of dimension. Darwinian hierarchies complicate the fixed strata of the great chain of being by temporalizing them. The Ptolemaic cosmos was decentered by Copernicus and Kepler. As metaphorical schemata, however, these relational images of


A Phenomenological Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
This progression provokes distinctions between the real and the fictional worlds and thus exploits a dialectic of oppositions. Given the vaporous unreality of the wood, for instance, the appearance of Peter Quince and his crew is a grotesque commentary on the land of fairy. The carpenters are too substantial, too "real," to be subsumed in the ethereal dreamworld; hence only Bottom's further deformation can signal his incongruity. And the world of fiction they in turn produce is an opposite conversion. Whereas the unsubstantial fairy transforms the interloper in his world into something antithetical to that world, the carpenters translate the tender lovers' tragedy into their own base materiality. If Puck can transform Bottom into an animal, Quince can, in the context of his play, transform Snout and Starveling into inanimate Wall and Moonshine. These analogous transformations do not, however, confirm the distinction between the real and the fictional. On the contrary, they point up the leveling effect of the theatrum mundi metaphor. The privileged reality that we accept as certain, substantial, and enduring is converted by the protracted metaphorical relations. In calling into question that base of certain reality, the metaphor reduces the distinction between the real and the fictional and raises the ontological question. It opposes positivist certainty and closure. Our imaginative engagement with the metaphor effects the phenomenological epoche, places the actual world and assumptions about it in that dialectic of similarity and difference, mutual reflection, that opens rather than resolves the question of reality; that is, the play of imagination produces, not a Coleridgean suspension of disbelief, but a suspension of belief. The solid world stands back, yielding to the play, as the play speculates about reality. The ontological question is asked in terms of one dimension of reality reflecting another, referring itself to another. In Jonson's Bartholomew Fair (1614), the Londoners who go to the fair bring with them values that are exposed, penetrated, reflected, and transformed by those of the fair. The fair is a world within a world that vibrates when the two worlds touch. Within the fair is another such world, the puppet show, standing ready to multiply relations between the reflective dimensions of reality. Jackson I. Cope

reality still inform our thinking. But in modern use they have been opened up, unfixed, temporalized. The theatrum mundi metaphor partially reveals the structures to which we appeal in our efforts to understand and interpret our condition. In instances of the metaphor in drama, whether Renaissance or modern, stages within stages, manifold stage-world relationships, plays within plays are presented as sets of dimensions. My discussion of the particular manifestations of the theatrum mundi topos builds on the fundamental structuring activity that produces, for instance, that inner stage which Fitzpatrick speaks from and about in The Contractor. The theater-dream structure is dimensional, but as metaphor it has always tended to call into question fixed, closed structures. The literary interpretation of reality commits itself to process, to exploration, to doubt. Leading audience or reader out toward conclusions that are not foregone, the literary work, perhaps especially drama, exploits anticipation, suspense, and surprise. Proleptical and foreshadowing techniques generate, not certainty, but doubt and speculation. The very promise of iterative act, word, gesture, or image raises the question of its fulfillment. The delight in discovery can be all the keener when reality is called into doubt by being related to the problematical dimensions of theater and dream. II Structurally, this topos may be seen from two primary aspects. The theater metaphor suggests worlds in relationship to one another and may represent the ontological pole of the theaterdream topos. The audience comes from its own world, its "real" world of business and negotiation. In the theater it has moved into a world of leisure, otium. That world looks in, in turn, on the affairs of the stage world-for instance, the Athens of A Midsummer-Night's Dream (1600). That world-transformed into, or displaced by, the dreamworld of the wood-produces yet another world, the intruding world of the mechanicals who, producing yet another world, the play of Pyramus and Thisbe, find an audience, "an actor too perhaps," in Puck (II.i.79).4 Again hierarchical or concentric relationships pertain. There is a progression of worlds within worlds.

Howard D. Pearce
has shown how the pervasive metaphor works in terms of the essential relations in Plato's allegory of the cave.' Both the theatrum mundi topos and Plato's schema involve directionality, movement from one level to another-in and out, up and down. The stage within a stage suggests inner and outer dimensions and at the same time greater and lesser, superior and inferior. Respectable Londoners stand, in the natural scheme, an ethical cut above the riffraff of the fair, as both stand demonstrably superior to mere puppets-until their "motion" begins." But another dimension appears in the alternating pattern of play and reality. While the characters of the fair may instigate entertainments, may help to produce an illusory world, they are also seriously engaged in the business of their lives: cutting purses, horse coursing, pig selling, prostitution. They emerge as antithetical to the fairgoers and establish a fundamental commentary on the respectable folk. Nightingale's ballad persuades Cokes that purse cutting is universal, that "examples" have been seen in "Westminster Hall": Then why should the judges be free from this curse, More than my poor self, for cuttingthe purse? (Iii.v.82-83 ) The opposed worlds are mutually reflective. Ontologically, movement from level to level is a quest for authenticity, for a condition of reality, for stability. Epistemologically, that movement is a search for genuine knowledge, certainty, fuller apprehension of reality. Bondage on the floor of Plato's cave is the lowest stage in terms of knowledge and being. And release into the next higher stage involves an expanded range of vision as well as freedom of movement. It is motion upward. Plato's motive, of course, is to demonstrate a finite set of conditions and levels of knowledge, four fundamental strata, necessarily including a lowest, eikasia, and a highest, noesis. If Plato should accede to the other metaphorical value, dimensions encompassing dimensions, there would still be a central base dimension in the consecutively larger arenas, all contained in the one and absolute. And the single epistemological motive for movement in Plato's view is to progress outward or upward. But mobility in the cave could conceivably allow a return to the bound position, albeit with a new perspective. Ascent from the cave would


likewise imply the possibility of return to its shadows. I am suggesting now that Plato's metaphor served the classical world view no better than it serves the modern. As a matter of fact, not only do the allegory of the cave and the theatrum mundi metaphor help define the godenclosed world of Jonson and Calder6n, they set in motion, in Life Is a Dream and Bartholomew Fair, imaginative forms that threaten to break free of philosophical or theological closure. The dimensions referring themselves to one another set up reverberations that do not come to rest in some certain, absolute, ultimate stratum of reality. The note of good humor that Jonson's play ends on conflates the strata. Calder6n's Prince Segismund moves from one level to another in Platonic fashion, but he can ascertain the ultimate dimension only by a leap of faith. It is the very mobility implicit in Plato's metaphor that sustains the action. While, epistemologically, subjects cannot reassume the bound state once they have moved upward or outward from it, they can return imaginatively to their former condition.8 This imaginative play is the bane of Plato's closure and the boon of the playwright who sets it in motion. I am suggesting that this sense of dimensionality is a formal or structural principle much like the "crescendo" or "climax" that Kenneth Burke identifies as implicit in temporal art.9 Burke suggests that we can understand crescendo abstractly but that we apprehend it emotively when we experience it in the concrete work of art. To recall The Contractor, I might observe that the bare form of that play-erecting the tent, dressing it, dismantling it-entails the formal expectations identified by Aristotle. Beneath the idea, theme, or philosophy of the play, then, lie forms that strike the viewer directly in his entire being. The overt thematic uses made of the theatrum mundi metaphor may be no more important than its concrete manifestation in the direct experience of the play's substance. The two-thought and mode of appearance-may be in the last analysis inextricably one. III The idea of dream, as opposed to that of theater, implies an experiencing subject as center. The title A Midsummer-Night's Dream suggests


A Phenomenological

Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
life is a dream, then short of waking from the dream there is no certain means of escaping to some island of mind standing dry above the sea of appearances. Life apprehended as dream is uncertain, unsettling, and perhaps merely subjective. Yet the question "Am I dreaming?" produces the dialectic of reality and unreality that the stage metaphor produces. Real and fictional worlds within worlds play off the one against the other, not toward an either-or dichotomy, but toward an open play of multiplicity. Likewise, the subject-object dialectic questions whether reality is "out there" or "in here," and the dreamer becomes as insubstantial as the dream and may be a mere object in the mind of some other dreamer. The comic possibilities of this dimensionalizing of the self and its world are pursued in John Barth's short story "NightSea Journey." Of heroic mentality, the spermnarrator-journeyer wonders whether his mentor with the "curious fancy" might have been right: "He liked to imagine cycles within cycles, either finite or infinite: for example, the 'night-sea,' as it were, in which Makers 'swam' and created night-seas and swimmers like ourselves, might be the creation of a larger Maker, Himself one of many, Who in turn et cetera."1 Barth's motives are not Calderon's, but the same metaphor provides the essential structure of Life Is a Dream (1635). The play opens with a descent into the darkness of the Platonic cave. Segismund's prison is a world within a world, a dark interior that seems to be a source of darkness. But as Rosaura and Clarion peer into that darkness, become audience to Segismund's suffering, they themselves are seen to be in a twilight world, a valley of shadows: These fundamentally Platonic dimensions are repeated in the play's motion: in Act i, from prison to palace; in Act ii, from palace back to prison; and in Act III, from prison to the open country, the setting for true self-discovery, regeneration, and the reestablishment of order. But these opposed dimensions are not only theaters of action but also dreams of reality. Basil has calculated his son's translation from prisoner to prince as a test. He has achieved the transformation by means of drugged sleep, so that if Segismund fails he will be sent back to prison believing that he has only dreamed he was a prince. Basil moralizes that such an il-

the epistemological pole of the theater-dream topos. The sense of disorientation, of dislocation and loss of grounded perspective, occurs within a psyche cognizant of its own being in the dreamworld. Admittedly the dreamer, cut loose, in a state of flux, may be sharply aware of the otherness of objective reality. But all is not total chaos. The essential dimensions are of inner and outer realities, of subjectivity invading, as well as assaulted by, unfamiliar or distorted objectivity, of finding oneself suddenly thrust into a "brave new world." Again the traditional metaphor opens up the problem of knowing the world and oneself in it, the problem central to phenomenological thought. Husserl's idea of "intentionality" is an attempt to clarify the relationship between knower and known, subject and object. "Intentionality" suggests that experience and the object of experience are inextricably bound together, all experience being experience of something. The problem of locating reality in subject or in object, the old realist-idealist split, is no genuine problem if experience is intentional-if it always blends with the thing experienced.10 Reality is, then, experienced in the act of experiencing, and the question is not whether the perceived object is autonomous, existing apart from the subjective consciousness, or depends on it; Husserl dispenses with this issue by "bracketing" the object, suspending the question of its existence-a process he terms "phenomenological reduction." The effect of this "bracketing" is to put into play the possibilities inherent in the life-dream metaphor, in which subject and object are engaged in an open, questioning, uncertain experience. The phenomenological reduction functions, then, in much the same way as the theater-dream metaphor: it puts before us the question of experience and the objects of experience and provokes concern for problematical relationships between subject and world. Though the dream metaphor may effect various responses, even radical skepticism, whereas Husserl's method is calculated to produce in the end a kind of certainty, both have the immediate purpose of bringing the ontological and epistemological questions under consideration without demanding clear, direct (traditionally scientific or metaphysical) resolutions. If we begin with the premise that

Howard D. Pearce
lusion would not be entirely false, because "in this world ... / ... all who live are only dreaming."1' Segismund's move into the dream of power is thus a dream within a dream. And the central concern in transporting Segismund from one dimension to another is for his understanding of himself in relation to the dream. The ironic consequence of Segismund's waking to the world of the court is not the expected shaking of his convictions or the unsettling of his self-assurance. Regaining consciousness at a court entertainment, he easily concludes that he is awake, that the experience is no dream, and that he is himself: "Am I not Segismund?" (p. 434). Furthermore, in accepting the doubtful as real he accepts it as entertainment. Not a dream, life is nevertheless theater, and Segismund will let himself "be served and entertained." Impatient with his old mentor, Clotaldo, he refuses to be instructed: "What have I / To know more than this fact of who I am?" (p. 435). Certain now of his own identity, he accuses his father of having denied him his "very being as a man" (p. 440). Segismund's actions are no more audacious than his self-assurance in the face of an uncertain, unstable, and transient world. Rejecting Clotaldo's admonition to accept life as a dream, he challenges Clotaldo to determine whether Clotaldo's own impending death is "truth or dreaming" (p. 444). Returned to the darkness of prison, Segismund wakes as into a dream, and into selfdoubt: "Am I the same who . .. / rose to such a state?" (p. 454). Life is a dream. Segismund's soliloquy ending Act In emphasizes the uncertainty not only of world but also of ego. Life is a "frenzy, an illusion, / A shadow, a delirium, a fiction," and "dreams are only dreams" (p. 456). Movement from one dimension of reality into another is for Segismund a waking from the floor of the Platonic cave. Yet, return to the bound state cancels either dimension as a sure ground of reality. Segismund has learned in the action that still other seemingly real dimensions may appear in any direction. The open terrain of the final action is, significantly, neither of the closed worlds, neither prison nor palace. As a result, Segismund can take an ironic view of himself even as he sets out to act against his father, to act as if life were real and as if human action


resulted in meaningful consequences. He looks on himself as if with the eyes of ancient Rome, who "might laugh to see / A wild beast in command of mighty armies" (p. 468). Having been cast from one dream into another, having suffered a loss of identity in having to become someone else, he has won the capacity to see himself as from a temporal distance. And Clarion comically demonstrates this dialectic in the beginning of Act inI.Thrown into prison with Segismund, he thinks that the soldiers coming to release Segismund are coming for him. When they refer to "him," Clarion takes himself to be the referent. When they refer to the prince, Clarion assumes that he is to take Segismund's role in playing out again the translation from prisoner to prince and back again (p. 458). In effect, Clarion mistakes himself for Segismund and becomes a commentary on Segismund's discovery of not only the world's uncertainty but also his own evanescence and questionable identity. Metaphors of theater and dream function, then, as a dialectic that first questions the firm, known base of reality and then explores other dimensions in relation to it. Primary dimensions are defined as inferior or superior, within or without. But regardless of the regularity of the structuring principle, the dimensions of theater and dream are open. Though Segismund moves out (or up) and back from only a single dimension, he has grown aware of possibility, which includes the possibility of waking from the final dream into ultimate reality. What he has learned in human terms is to take a skeptical view of himself as he seems to be and of his world as it appears to be. World upon world could open to him, transformation after transformation clothe him, before his play or dream is ended. Mobility, openness, possibility-these are concomitant to life as dream, world as stage. Like his world, the dreamer himself becomes open to possibility, and he gains mobility. He can become a more versatile interpreter of himself and his world, capable of multiplicity of interpretation. Again the theater-dream metaphor achieves a quality that has become central to phenomenological thought as Heidegger exemplifies it. Heidegger argues in What Is Called Thinking? that multiplicity of interpretation is not merely our failure to achieve "formal-logical


A Phenomenological

Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
The possibility of nothingness is always there. And the drama that has exploited this metaphor inevitably recognizes the possibility, sometimes the imminence, of universal darkness. That drama may become a "dance of death," negotiating frantic pirouettes on the rim of the volcano, sardonic tangos across a decaying floor. Such a vision is shared by the authors of The Revenger's Tragedy (1607) and The Wild Duck (1884). In both plays the specter of unrealityof darkness, meaninglessness, and despair-lurks on the horizon. But the central characters move to the rhythms that manifest the dialectic of theater and dream, the open play that seeks understanding of reality. I have discussed elsewhere the theatrum mundi metaphor in The Revenger's Tragedy.' The play is a complex elaboration of that metaphor, developing throughout on the idea of life as drama, but from the beginning it conflates, rather than opposes, the dimensions of fiction and reality. The Youngest Son has raped Antonio's wife in, as Antonio says, playing "a glorious act" (i.iv.4), rape ritualized as masque. And going to his death the Youngest Son plays on the idea of mounting a "scaffold," suggesting that he is still acting in a play (i.ii.64-66). When Antonio's wife kills herself because of the rape, she creates a moving tableau-if Antonio himself is not the director of that performance (I.iv). Vindice's revenge lies in casting the Duke in the role of the lover of the poisoned skull (nI.v). Dressing the skull up for the part of the Duke's mistress, Vindice explains that he has "not fashioned this only for show / And useless property" (ii.v.99-100). The opposed objective dimensions, then, serve not to distinguish but to confuse life and stage. And the subjective dimension is as uncertain as the objective; it is metaphorically a dream. Vindice never reveals that he has been the actor playing Piato. It is possible to read characters like Antonio and Castiza in contradictory ways. If knowledge of others can never be certain, neither can knowledge of self. Vindice observes the fundamental impossibility of knowing oneself in a world of chaos: "Surely we're all mad people and they, / Whom we think are, are not" (iii.v.79-80). The play's revenges are motivated by that fear of the world's being unreal, of life's being a dream. From that vision of despair comes the charac-

it is "the element in which all thought must move in order to be strict thought." Heidegger introduces a provocative metaphor, dimensional in form, to develop this point. The element natural to a fish-involving "Depths . expanses . .. currents . . . quiet pools . . warm and cold layers"-is of "multiple mobility" (my italics). Our thinking ought to seek its analogous dimension, "the element of its multiple meanings," in order that everything not "remain closed to us." The dimension of "formal-logical univocity" is a closed dimension. It is finished; its proper thought is adequate to its own method and aim. The dimension of Heideggerean thought is of multiplicity, mobility, and potentiality; it is an open dimension, but at the same time it maintains structures-the familiar structures of the fish's world, including "warm and cold layers" that are, to put it paradoxically, still fluid. The familiar structures of the fish's world are the given dimensions-not nothingness, chaos, or dark abyss. Heidegger appears to be answering Plato's metaphor of stratified worlds in the Phaedo. Plato imagines our experience to be like that of fish: we live in an underwater world that we think to be a world of sunlight, but if we could rise to the higher dimension we would understand the illusory nature of our natural habitat. Plato's implication is that a rising into the superior world would be simple ascent, motion in a single direction into a unified reality. The temporal world is thus seen as "measureless mud, and tracts of slime," with pits and holes, fit habitation only for creatures of the mire.14 If Plato's comparison suggests a single reality in the superior world, it concomitantly implies a uniform spread of unreality in the lower world-pervasive flux, chaos, and meaninglessness. Heidegger's world is temporal, but composed of that dimensionality in which we must find our bearings, the "warm and cold layers." It is in Heidegger's world that we explore reality; only in that world can we develop our manifold potentialities. And it may be a theater world, a dream. IV The theater of life, the dream, inevitably reveals the utter uncertainty that lies behind it.

univocity"13 but a requirement of true thought;

Howard D. Pearce
ters' elaborate reconstruction, which in its very performance affirms possible order. Revenge is meaningful not only in destroying the wicked or decadent but also in testing the world for authentic goodness. More important, however, the act of revenge, like the Youngest Son's ritualized rape, becomes an affirmation in that it demonstrates control and design. The larger play's construction is itself admirable, and the play is riddled with applause. Most events in the play are designed as performance, and they appropriately find an audience. Again, the world and the stage are structured as dimensions, but dimensions intricately involved rather than opposed. That play's vision of the abyss produces a heightened artistic activity. The response to chaos is ordering. In Ibsen's plays, too, the sense of nothingness effects a desire to order and control. In The Wild Duck, old age, disappointment, and debility are pervasive. Hjalmar's father, Ekdal, longs for the past, a world of heroic deeds and virgin forests. Old Werle is going blind. Both had been men of action, but after their partnership was dissolved as a result of a crime, Ekdal having suffered the punishment, they retreated into rather pathetic attempts to entertain themselves. And their self-entertainment becomes a way of giving life meaning and form. Old Werle seeks control in the real world, making his social occasions into formal entertainments; old Ekdal makes a retreat, an inner world of illusion, in his attic. The sons, too, try to order their lives because they live near the pit of despair. But whereas Gregers Werle and his father treat the play of life as reality, Hjalmar and Ekdal seek a world of illusion beyond the actual. The four characters reveal the dimensions of theater and life, dream and reality. The attic becomes a forest world above the real world, a created world into which Hjalmar and old Ekdal escape. Subjectively it is the forest primeval, and it is appropriately an inner room contained within the reality of the Ekdal home. But it reflects as well the subworld of ocean depths into which wounded ducks dive, the Platonic world of mud and slime. "The whole room and everything in it" make Hedvig think of "the depths of the sea."1" The wild ducks' escape is paradoxically suicide and self-preservation, escape from


the hunting dogs (metaphorically Gregers) that would "save" the wounded birds, drag them up from the illusory Platonic depths into the light of Truth. The wild duck has been in the attic so long, according to Hjalmar, that "it's forgotten what real wild life is like" (p. 28). The attic is harshly ironic, manifesting from the beginning the discrepancy in the idyllic place, which is, as Hedvig observes, after all "only an attic" (p. 37). Thus Hjalmar's apartment becomes, not reality enclosing the illusory world, but another dimension of unreality. The Ekdal home is, according to Gregers, a reflection of the attic world and the undersea world, the illusion Hjalmar lives in being "swamp vapors" (p. 43). The attic world is made possible by the two Ekdal men's need to "detract theirself" (p. 38) and by Hjalmar's "gadget," which is his "own invention" (p. 38). Consequently, Hjalmar's home is a similar retreat from reality, for him a place of leisure and entertainment. Like the attic it is designed and arranged for distraction. In The Wild Duck, as in The Revenger's Tragedy, the consequence of ordering activity is not resolution but confusion. But whereas Vindice affirms his own integrity in the face of objective decay, Ibsen's play ends on a note of despair and inconsequentiality. Hjalmar and Gregers are debilitated sons of debilitated old men. Both are deficient in knowledge of self and the world. Hjalmar's weakness is revealed in his making excuses for his own irresponsibility and failure, in his vague hope for success, and in his childlike dependence on his wife and daughter. Gregers, in contrast, conceals his weakness in a mask of strength, commitment, and self-assurance. And the play ends with Hjalmar and Gregers futilely shoring up the ruins of their own egos. V In the structuring activity that comes in response to the sense of loss, of drowning in time, there is the implication of a further dimension. Essential to the ordering activity are not only the subjectivity of the ordering agents in the play but also that of the observers-the manifold audiences of The Revenger's Tragedy, for instance. The idea of worlds within worlds brings


A Phenomenological

Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
inwardness and outwardness remain operative in a complex of dimensions and directions. The subject experiencing either-the play or the imagined object-takes it as "other," as object, but at the same time can experience self involved in it, at play, moving into relationships with the unreal dimension. The play elaborates on this form to extend dimensions, producing play within play to the nth power, as the subjective being experiences self in a hall of mirrors. The several metaphors of reality provoke movement inward or outward, up or down, in pursuit of reality in terms of other dimensions. The movement itself dispels preconceptions, casts us into uncertainty, opens us to imaginative activity and possibility, produces reflexive consciousness. Once the reflective dimensions have come into play, reality can be easily called into question. Artaud inverts it: "the action and effect of a feeling in the theater appears infinitely more valid than that of a feeling fulfilled in life."18 Prologue, epilogue, aside, and soliloquy in Renaissance drama attest to the audience's appreciative complicity. The Induction to Bartholomew Fair is an elaborate involvement of the audience, the prompter mocking both audience and author: "The author hath writ it just to his meridian, and the scale of the grounded judgments here, his play-fellows in wit" (Induction, 11. 49-51). In Life Is a Dream audiences on stage treat life as a play, and Clarion, immediately before his death, becomes a total spectator. In soliloquies characters turn to the outer audience, and in his final speech Segismund turns, as do Puck and Prospero, to ask the audience's indulgence. This overt involvement undeniably activates the audience as a dimension in the theater-dream metaphor. But the audience may be no less imaginatively involved by the metaphor's operation in the play itself. The opening scene of Chekhov's The Sea Gull (1896), for instance, sets up relations between characters and their world and the audience in terms of the stage metaphor. Treplev is producing his play for his mother and friends, and Nina is starring in it. Treplev's vague idealism results in a dreamy symbolist play that the stage audience ridicule. Implicit in their mockery is the question of where reality lies, in their world or on the stage. Treplev thinks that he is telling the truth about

into play the audience, who in turn, in plays like The Revenger's Tragedy and Life Is a Dream, become a play world being watched by a heavenly audience. In discussing the plays so far, I have assumed these open dimensions but have not directly commented on the relationship between play and audience. But the principle of repetition requires that the audience be considered part of the total context of the play. Again, in phenomenological terms the event includes the subject and object, audience and play. Having been brought into play, the audience cannot be discounted in favor of treating the play as objective reality, as text or performance. The play as imaginative event not only constitutes a structure in itself but sets up a reflective relationship with the audience, who as interpreters become yet another structuring agent, one that attempts to repeat the objective structures. Pattern is discerned and elaborated. The reflecting subjectivities and objectivities in the play are a structure repeated in the relationship between audience and play. Brief mention of Sartre's call for a drama "Beyond Bourgeois Theatre" may aid in making my point.'7 Sartre sees the theatrical experience in its most fundamental relation not only as a stageworld correlation but as a direct relation between the subject experiencing and the object experienced. He argues that the bourgeois audiencesubjects see merely reflections of themselves on the stage. The bourgeois theater panders to the subjectivity of the audience. In contrast, the stage in Brecht's theater of alienation is so objectified that it becomes utterly alien, other than self. What Sartre wants is a phenomenological (or existential) theater that presents a quasi-objectivity. Paradoxically, such a theater directs itself inward to the observer's subjective being and at the same time draws the observer outward toward genuine experience of the nonself. In Sartre's view the stage-world relation is a particular version of the subject-object relation, the central concern of phenomenology. The dimensions of reality as phenomenologically apprehended are, then, analogous to those of the theater-dream metaphor and the Platonic allegory. The play's unreality, the imaginative presentation, is comparable to the presentation of unreal objectivities in the mind, in the play of imagination. But the opposed directions of

Howard D. Pearce
reality; some of his audience feel the pain and desire of their present existence too powerfully to be interested in what he says about some distant future. Yet the characteristic Chekhovian vision reveals all the characters lost in their mutable dreams, ineffectual, grasping for happiness but aware of its elusiveness. They define themselves in terms of famous parts they might play, the roles of Hamlet, Gertrude, Faust, Agamemnon, the man in the iron mask. The stage world casts reflection on them, and by a parallel extension Chekhov's play comments on its audience. That doubling of reference is already established in the stage image of the first scene. Treplev's stage has been set up by the lake, and the curtain is closed as the outer stage curtain rises: stage within stage engages audience within audience. But when the curtain opens on the inner stage, what stands revealed is not an inner stage but reality. The stage is open at the back; the rising moon reflects in the lake. The audience are led back out to their own reality instead of into a fictional world. The romantic moon is an ironic commentary on Treplev's dreamy idealism, as well as on the real characters' need for love. But no, the outer audience are not looking at reality; rather they are regarding a painted moon and lake, another dimension of illusion. Once Treplev's stage has raised the question of reality, Chekhov's play asks the audience what is real, whether life is not a dream, and whether The Sea Gull tells the truth-the same question, ironically, that arises with Treplev's play. It is appropriate that in the last act Treplev's stage remains standing. With the passage of time, it has become a skeleton, buffeted by autumn winds. The characters amuse themselves, live by pretending, and succumb to change. If they lack control and self-determination, the stage is no opposed vision of order and permanence. It is destroyed by time as surely as they are. Stage and audience are related, then, by an open set of imaginative forms referring themselves from one realm to another. Such is the relationship that attains thematic significance in Alexander Ostrovsky's The Forest (1871). The action of Ostrovsky's play grows out of the peculiarly Russian angst that Chekhov later displays. The provincial world of the play is sym-


bolized in the threatening darkness of the forest. Schastlivtsev, the comic actor, finds it "terrifying to walk through the woods alone."19 When the timber merchant's son Petr keeps a tryst in the forest with Aksyusha, Raisa's poor young relative, he voices his suffering in terms of looking for a strong limb to hang himself from (p. 385). And when Aksyusha in despair determines to drown herself in a forest lake, she imagines that she goes, like Hedvig's duck, "straight to the bottom, and everything around me seems green" (p. 428). This sense of futility and of vulnerability to forces of destruction is also expressed in the idea of wandering. Travel may be an escape from relatives (p. 396), but moving out into the uncertain world involves risk. The two actors (Schastlivtsev and his tragedian counterpart,Neschastlivtsev) meet traveling on foot and depart at the end of the play on foot, having thought for a time that Neschastlivtsev's thousand-dollar inheritance would enable them to travel in style. In giving up the money for Aksyusha's dowry, Neschastlivtsev reduces himself to the condition he was in before coming to claim his inheritance from Raisa. He has "tramped around" in "bad weather . . . like old Lear, through the steppes of New Russia" (p. 445). Schastlivtsev says that he and Neschastlivtsev have been "for more than ten years . . . wandering around Russia, from theatre to theatre, like gypsies" (p. 425). They feel powerfully the threatening nature of the world. Their reaction to the powers of annihilation, however, is not that of Raisa and Bulanov. Bulanov too has felt "humiliated, bored," and in that condition he has "kept away from people and walked alone on god-forsaken streets" (p. 371). But in coming under Raisa's patronage he has been brought into her world of power and stability. She justifies marrying Bulanov as a "sacrificing" of herself, "simply to put [her] estate in order" (p. 451). The marriage not only secures Raisa's and Bulanov's well-being but, since she is the grand lady of the region, extends comfort to the larger world. Raisa and Bulanov do not question the reality of life. Their response to the threat of life is to control life. The realists try, though not with entire success, to order their lives by determining the roles they are to play. Bulanov must carefully assume a


A Phenomenological

Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
leave the stage as a queen. And you will remain a queen the rest of your life." The strange paradox Neschastlivtsev offers is that the transient role played by a beggar, wanderer, and pauper gives power, security, control, and permanence. The life of the imagination is not vulnerable to the buffets of fortune, unlike life lived in earnest. And Neschastlivtsev knows how to treat life itself as a stage. Trying to persuade Schastlivtsev to play the role of his servant when they arrive at Raisa's estate, Neschastlivtsev argues that even the great "Martynov himself played flunkies" (p. 402). When Schastlivtsev objects that "that was on the stage," Neschastlivtsev responds, "just think of yourself as on the stage." The actor's sensibility, the power of his imagination, his suffering as a condition-all require, as Neschastlivtsev has argued to Aksyusha, two other qualifications: the actor must be able to fuse or confuse life and the stage; and, of final importance, he must have an audience. The capabilities to confuse life and dream and to engage an audience become critical to the play's climactic scene. The theater metaphor is realized in the action when Raisa announces to her friends that she is to marry Bulanov. Raisa is surprised by shouts of "hurrah" from the dining room, beyond an upstage exit. After she has been interrupted several times by the shouts, the doors open and the two actors enter, along with Aksyusha, Petr, and Petr's father (p. 453). Raisa has had an audience within the theater of her reality. Again dimensions of reality and fiction extend as circle within circle, audience watching a play in which another audience faces outward toward an ostensible reality. When Bulanov and Raisa try to expel the actors, Neschastlivtsev turns on them to demolish that reality. He sarcastically observes that all is as it should be here: "Here, everyone has his place, just as is right and proper in the forest" (p. 458). When Raisa calls him and Schastlivtsev "comedians," he responds, "Comedians? Oh, no. We are artists, noble artists, and you are the comedians." The actors' love and charity are true, as opposed to the false image Raisa creates out of self-interest. And here "you entertain only yourselves." They are a hermetic stage and audience, selfish even in performing only for themselves. In Ostrovsky's play the decision on the ques-

new role. He should no longer remain "obsequious" or "act like a boy" (p. 418). Raisa admonishes him to "be more reputable, distinguished . . . order a lot of good clothes, loosefitting... buy an expensive gold watch . . have money in your pocket." But that role is dependent on reality and therefore still vulnerable. Raisa and Bulanov cannot escape the threat of loss, and they know that money is the source of their power. Thus even in her compulsion to play her role well Raisa realizes that the role itself can become a threat: "You go on playing a role too long, and then all of a sudden you forget you're playing. You're caught up in the reality of the moment" (p. 417). The multiple roles an actor plays produce results very different from those of the single or limited roles that come to dominance in real life. In the first place, the potential of the actor differs from that of characters like Raisa. Neschastlivtsev, wishing with Schastlivtsev that they could find a young actress to travel with them, observes that a real actress must have "soul, brother; life, fire" (p. 396). Aksyusha will try to drown herself in Act Iv, but Neschastlivtsev has already said at the end of Act II that "If a woman throws herself headfirst into a whirlpool, just for love, then there's our actress." The actor must, in short, feel the darkness of life more powerfully than ordinary persons do. Raisa feels it and shores up life. Aksyusha feels it so deeply that she can become a great actress. For the actor, wandering, life's mobility, becomes transformed into positive values. The actor, living in multiplicity and change, is both vulnerable and free. He prefers to have money in order to travel by troika, but if he gives his money to a young girl so that she can marry, he will be no less free or powerful. His power lies in the force of his imagination. He turns to the world of illusion to find reality. After saving Aksyusha from the lake, Neschastlivtsev persuades her to "begin a new life . . . for the sake of art" (p. 433). He argues that in her world she has no one who can "react" to her "wealth of feeling." She lacks an audience; if she had one, she would be transformed. Neschastlivtsev himself is a beggar, but on stage he becomes a prince: "I live his life. I am tortured by his thoughts. I weep his tears over poor Ophelia." Aksyusha, too, can "enter on the stage as a queen, and . . .

Howard D. Pearce
tion of reality is handed down in favor of the life of the imagination. The play itself, masterfully constructed, reflects the same approval. The more quizzical view in Chekhov's play produces a final ironic tension between the artistic power of the play and its essential skepticism. But in both plays the audience are implicated in a set of dynamic and involuting strata of realities and unrealities that provoke a need to discover some base of authenticity. There is no answering reference outward to a beginning or an end that would provide a clue, no Platonic absolute. All value must be generated within the open possibility of the motion of events themselves. Drama -indeed, all imaginative literature-as discovery may lead, like Descartes, back to absolutes or to God, but in the play as event, in sheer involvement, absolutes are abandoned and the individual experiencing the events is set adrift. The observer is vulnerable to the autonomy of the play, of its action and form. VI I have tried to show how the dimensions of the within play involve multiple worlds-stages stages. I have suggested that the metaphor as dream brings into question the realities of the subjective dimension, that the drawing of subjectivities and objectivities into an open play of relationships exposes the essential dialectic of design and control as the human response to the sense of nothingness. That theme in turn exposes the dimensions of the play as aesthetic object and the audience as aesthetic subject. The final ramificationof this metaphor I want to trace is that of the artist. We will look at the artist first as he appears in his own guise in Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author and then, returning to The Contractor for a final example, as he is reflected through the multiple artists, including the playwright, in that play. In its radical skepticism, Six Characters in Search of an Author follows an intricate design toward the ultimate reality in which the characters seek to objectify themselves. Though their several subjective versions of experiences are contradictory, the characters demand realization in a shared real action. The individual character is spectator of another's dream, even when its events are inextricably bound up with his or her


own dream. And the characters as a group are on the one hand the pure subjectivity of the author, who betrayed them before giving them full being, and on the other hand mere objectivity for the actors, who sense their own superior dimension of reality. The actors' self-assurance, of course, brings into ironic relief the fact that they in turn function as mere objectivity for a higher version of reality, the audience-which could hardly sustain subjective aloofness in the face of such reflexive objectivities. Uniting across the dimensions of reality are the subjectivities of audience and individual characters, when characters display their essential natures as a dimension of reality higher than that enfolding them. Thematically the play comments ironically on the uncertainty of reality and knowledge, and formally it moves toward an explosion that blows open the action rather than resolves, rounds off, or closes it. The movement is a kind of frenzied activity-a compulsive effort to complete, resolve, pattern-on the part of characters who powerfully feel the artist's failure to realize the formal potential of his craft. As agents of completion, they must usurp the function of the delinquent artist, who, as the play begins, seems a comical unreality at the mercy of the antagonist-actors. As, phenomenologically, stage and audience are mutually implicated, the reflexive stage metaphor calls that other subjectivity into play, the artist. In talking about Jonson, Calder6n, Ibsen, Ostrovsky, I have all along considered the playwright a dimension of his play. If in reading a play I am in relationship to more than text, that is, if I am doing more than just reading words, I am establishing relationships with objectivitiesworlds-and other subjectivities. And one of those is the playwright. But I do not mean "playwright" in the sense we generally intend. This playwright is not to be defined by a mechanist-historical model; rather, he appears as a dimension of the playnot necessarily, and not at first thematically, but potentially. The artist I refer to comes into play through my participation in the "hermeneutic circle": I move from the expectation of finding him to evidence of his presence in the play and back to the totality that I name "the artist," thematically a type.2 He may, like Pirandello, appear as a relatively unreal figure in the action, but he is


A Phenomenological Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
The characters in Storey's play, most of them rootless, are incomplete beings. The contractor, Ewbank, identifies with his wastrel men, observing that they are all wanderers: "Nomads . . . that's us . . . Tenting . .." (p. 236; last two ellipses, Storey's). The impermanence of a tent, he knows, is in essence the same as the impermanence of a house. He is a self-conscious artisan recognizing the interplay between two dimensions of his world. The tent erected to celebrate his daughter's marriage is both a commemoration and at the same time a reminder that the house he has erected for his wife, on a hill above town, is no less fragile a structure. In a Chekhovian movement the family come together only to separate. The workmen, too, are deficient beings, metaphorically only fragments of men. Ewbank pronounces their mental condition inferior: "They've a mind for nowt, you know" (p. 212). Ewbank too is deficient in knowledge, declaring in the aftermath, Act II, "Do you know, I've lived all this time-and I know nowt about anything .... A bloody wanderer" (p. 242). Glendenning, of course, the "good-natured, stammering half-wit" (p. 159), epitomizes them all. Nevertheless the characters exist dimensionally, social stratification marking off the realms to which they belong. Ewbank holds himself aloof from the workers but at the same time sees himself reflected in them, identifies himself with them. They come from below up to Ewbank's house and spend considerable time approving of it. Admiring the "lovely house" (p. 153), Fitzpatrick observes the town below: "There's the town, from which, earlier in the day, unless I'm mistaken, we ascended. Covered, I'm sad to say ... by a cloud of smoke" (p. 157). Ewbank's house, then, is a tribute to the wife and to children and to self realized in those familial forms. And Ewbank has to defend it from the depredations of characters who, like himself, have risen from the depths. Knowing life from their perspective, he brings with him to the hill their vision. He knows that, unrestrained, they will defile the ideal home by "piddling all over the place" and using language the women should not be exposed to (p. 154). His sense of ownership makes him overprotective even of the lawn:

at most a question in the play, part of the reality to be discovered. When I bring him to the theater as a preconception I bring only an expectation -which may or may not be disappointed-comparable to the generic expectation that I shall see a tragedy, a comedy, or just a play. When I stand open to him in the play, I discover him as artist in the event, not a dramatized persona (though he may be that too) but a subjectivity controlling an objectivity that he himself has produced, the formal aspects of language, character, thought, and action.21 I discover how he "brings it off," how he is essentially reflected in the work. In a field of mobility, change, multiplicity, the question is whether these conditions themselves are the only reality or whether some ordering principle or agent demonstrates control. A sense of dimensionality-free movement within a structure of relations-will produce a sense of form while at the same time leaving events open, agents "in play." The multiplicity of dimensions in the event always allows for the appearance of the potential artist, the essential ordering subjectivity. And he appears in Storey's play when Fitzpatrick comments pointedly on the reflecting dimensions of tent-play-stage-world, unreal tent and play world reflecting real stage and Lebenswelt. The artist's play gives itself as a world neither of total flux, purposeless motion, and pure sensation nor of absolute control, complete design, and perfect comprehensibility. Storey's play may be seen to be very much concerned with the force of will in creativity, the compulsion to order and maintain a world supportive of human needs. Implicit in the title is this commitment, a "contractor" being formally under obligation to complete the task that he has set himself. The creator-playwright or tentmaker-constructs by strenuous effort (though perhaps with apparent effortlessness) his world and himself in it. Metaphorically, the degree of stillness and form the artist achieves diminishes the sense of total vulnerability to flux, change, motion. In Camus' view the sense of the absurd produces the wanderer, but the act of creation is a mortal salvation.22 The essential pathos of The Contractor arises from the artist's sense of the fragility of constituted reality, the extreme vulnerability of that lived experience in the state of mutability.

Howard D. Pearce
Marshall.Numberedevery blade. Fitzpatrick.Lettered every scratch. Ewbank's care for the real world he has made for himself is reflected in his solicitude for the tent world, the ephemeral work of art that not only marks a termination point in his life as husband and father but also manifests his supreme achievement as artist. It will "not happen again, you know" (p. 212). The tent requires the same care, the same compulsion to create beauty and form, that the house requires. And the stage itself makes the same demands of playwright, director, cast, and crew. Storey's play is a tour de force, the mounting, dressing, and dismantling of the tent on stage being a duplication of mounting the play. The tent shows a "gentle radiance," according to Storey's stage directions, and Ewbank, stressing his role as artist, declares, "I shall The tent's canvas is "clean and white," its stitching, as Fitzpatrick observes, "beautiful" (p. 163). Ewbank appreciates his own craft and complains that if the careless workmen render it ordinary he "might as well be shoving up a circus" (p. 176). Another inferior stage world, the circus, is beneath him, appropriate to the inferior audience down beneath the smoke of the town. Raising the tent symbolizes the struggle to make a world of illusions and to keep it up. When Glenny asks, "How're you going to k ... k k k k ... keep it up?" Fitzpatrick, as he often does, points a reflecting finger at the playwright, responding, "That's a very philosophical question" (p. 161). It is indeed a very philosophical question, concerning reality, one's being in, and relation to, an objective world, one's knowledge of it. Marshall provides the absurd answer: "We're going to float it up, Glenny. If we all stand here, now, and puff together ... I think we'll be all right" (p. 162). Keeping it up, then -tent, play, life-is the challenge and the fulfillment. The positive value of the unreality inverts Plato's scheme. Denizens of the smoke or the sea can momentarily escape, but only into the reality of a higher unreality they constitute out of their own being, not into some absolute, transcendent truth. Storey's characters know they live in the slime and cannot permanently escape
never do it again. I shan't. Never . . ." (p. 208).


it in either the objective world or their subjective being. But they know, appreciate, and seek the illusion of the theater-dream as lenitive. Fully aware of the fragility of all such accomplishments, the temporary nature of tributes to the ideal, the easy and casual disintegration of all things in time, Storey declares the worth of the artist's triumph even in the face of confused values and a sense of the chaos of existence. And the triumph may be no more than the individual's assertion of the will to make meaning, order, and beauty; to present his creation as a tribute to an appreciative audience, who thus become participants; to construct, in short, an improbable human satisfaction out of the unpromising human condition. For the artists in Storey's world, then, entertainment and laughter are the fundamental response to life. More than response, play is their creation of a game of life-with rules and with a built-in conflict, resolved in laughter and applause. The laughter, like that anticipated by the epilogue of Renaissance drama, is a reaching across separate dimensions toward joint participation. Fitzpatrick suggests that the characters' various reactions to their condition are based in the essential need to create a life of the imagination. Consoling Ewbank, he explains Paul's wandering as a search for "the world of the imagination" (p. 233). The quest may produce aimless wandering, but in its climactic moments it can achieve full realization: a world constituted through the imaginative powers of the artist. Fitzpatrick's apology for Paul is at heart a voicing of the artist's need for the self-completion that Ewbank has just attained. Partial, isolated, or incomplete human beings in a world of multiplicity and ever-shifting experience, feeling deficient of being, may thereby gain the impetus to transform themselves as artists, to create themselves in acts of union with the aesthetic object on the one hand and with the audience on the other. The interpenetration of audience and object, when duplicated in inner or outer reflections, superior or inferior strata, produces a drama that calls into question the relative authenticity or value of those dimensionalities. The playwright, as well as the characters, is discovered, and the audience, as involved agents


A Phenomenological Approach to the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor
Like Puck, all ask of their audience, "Give me your hands." Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton

imaginatively engaged in sensing dimensionality, become a further level of the patterning. The audience and playwright and play and characters are accomplices in making and sharing a world of meaning according to the rules of their game.

1 David Storey, Three Plays: The Changing Room, Home, The Contractor (New York: Avon Books, 1975), p. 199. Subsequent citations of Storey's plays are from this edition. 2 Storey's plays have had critical recognition for their lyric qualities, but I have seen no treatment of them in terms of the theatrum mundi metaphor. In "Dualism and Paradox in the 'Puritan' Plays of David Storey," Modern Drama, 20 (1977), 131-43, John J. Stinson quotes Storey talking about the Rugby League as a "form of work that goes beyond the merely personal and becomes, like art, something transcending, both to the performer and the observer" (p. 141), but Stinson does not follow up this implication. John Simon's comments on Ewbank's tent make of it a symbol, the "embodiment of work," and emblem of human endeavor, but not the specifically artistic endeavor that it clearly is (Hudson Review, 27 [1974], 82-83). In "The Ironic Anger of David Storey," Modern Drama, 16 (1973), 307-16, William J. Free similarly considers the tent raising a "task of labor" (p. 310), identifies the dominant mood of the play as "joy in the act of building the tent" (p. 313), but never notices the theatrunm mundi motif. Only after developing my ideas about Storey's play did I discover that Storey himself has made the observation that is most pertinent to my view: the play may be "a metaphor for artistic creation: all the labour of putting up this tent, and when it's there, what good is it?" (quoted, without any comment on the metaphor, by John Russell Taylor, The Second Wave: British D-rama for the Seventies [New York: Hill and Wang, 1971]. p. 145). : Heidegger uses the term "dimension" frequently in the Letter on Humlanism, and significantly in Being and Time and in ". .. Poetically Doth Man Dwell. ..." William J. Richardson, S.J., comments on the metaphorical value of dimension in ". . . Poetically Doth Man Dwell .. ." (Hcidegger: Through Phenomenlology to Thought [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974], p. 589). For Heidegger dimension is essential to Being, and it underlies even the radical dimensions we talk so much in terms of, space and time. "Everything spatial and all space-time occur essentially in the dimensionality which Being itself is" 'West alles Raumliche und aller Zeit-Raum im Dimensionalen, als welches das Sein selbst ist.' (Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell [New York: Harper, 1977], p. 213; hereafter cited as BW. The German is quoted from the bilingual text Lettre sur I'humanisme, trans. Roger Munier [Paris: Aubier Montaigne, 1964], p. 84.) Heidegger suggests that when we are "just looking" at space, that is, merely casting our unconcerned glance on it, "the environmental regions get neutralized to pure dimensions" (my italics; Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson [New York: Harper, 1962], p. 112; hereafter cited as BT; my page numbers refer to the marginal numbers of this edition, which refer as well to the pagination of the later German texts). 4 Comtplete Signet Classic Shakespeare, gen. ed. Sylvan Barnet (New York: Harcourt, 1972). Michael McCanles has an excellent, instructive discussion of this play in "The Literal and the Metaphorical: Dialectic or Interchange," PMLA, 91 (1976), 279-90. I go beyond McCanles, however, on the question of open dimensions. McCanles explores two worlds, those of "the daylight world of the literalist Theseus" and "the nighttime, forest dreamworld of Oberon, Titania, and Puck" (p. 282). The Theater and the Dreaml: From Metaphor to Form in Renaissance Drama (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1973). Showing how Renaissance drama is under the pervasive Platonic influence, Cope treats La vida es suelho in terms of the allegory of the cave (pp. 245-60). He does not, of course, explore dimensionality in terms of my treatment here. In Metatheatre. A New View of Dramatic Form (New York: Hill and Wang, 1963), Lionel Abel traces the development of a reflexive theater in modern times. Other treatments of the metaphor include those of Anne Righter, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play (London: Chatto and Windus. 1964); William R. Elton, King Lear and the Gods (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1966); and Dieter Mehl, "Forms and Functions of the Play within a Play," Renaissance Drama, 8 (1965), 41-61. In the same volume as Mehl's study is Jackson I. Cope's "Bartholomew Fair as Blasphemy" (pp. 127-52), in which he describes the pig booth as "that center within the center of the fair" (p. 142). "(These dimensions in Bartholom1ew Fair have been commented on. See, e.g., Jonas A. Barish, Ben Jonson and the Language of Prose Comedy (New York: Norton, 1970), p. 236. 7 Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, ed. Eugene M. Waith (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1963). s My use of the term "imagination" may require

Howard D. Pearce
some comment. It has been analyzed from the phenomenological vantage by Edward S. Casey, Imagining: A Phenomenological Indiana Study (Bloomington: Univ. Press, 1976). Casey treats imagination as an image-presenting faculty, but he does not pursue implications that are there, I think, in the instances he uses for analysis (pp. 26-33). Instead of taking examples from imaginative literature, he begins with simpler imaginative moments of his own, describes them, and identifies qualities of "act-phase" and "object-phase." Subtly manifest, though perhaps not in the sharp objects of imagination or in the freedom of the acts, is an impulse to make connections and completions. Casey observes in his "dolphin" episode that an "intrinsic but unknown ordering principle seemed to be at work throughout" (p. 27). This aspect of the imagination seems more important to me than to Casey. It is a metaphorizing faculty, as Wallace Stevens insists in The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (New York: Random, 1951), pp. 71-82. It is involved in the play of mind between dimensionssubject and object, stage and world, and so on. For a discussion of the imagination in terms of associationist principles, going back to Hume in opposing Sartre's view of the imagination, see Mary Warnock, Imagination (London: Faber and Faber, 1976). ')Burke, Counter-Statement (Los Altos, Calif.: Hermes Publications, 1953), pp. 45-51. 10 Edmund Husserl, Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, trans. W. R. Boyce Gibson (New York: Macmillan, 1962), pp. 103-09. Interestingly, Robert Fludd uses the relation of the theater model to the subjective dimension as a mnemonic device. For a provocative discussion of Fludd's method see Frances A. Yates, Theatre of the World (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1969), pp. 136-61. Interiorized spatiality is explored by Georges Poulet in The Interior Distance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1959). 11 Barth, Lost in the Funhouse (New York: Bantam Books, 1969), p. 8. 12 Calder6n de la Barca, Life Is a Dream, trans. Roy Campbell, in Six Spanish Plays, ed. Eric Bentley, Vol. int of The Classic Theatre (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959), p. 432. 1:1Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking?, trans. J.


Glenn Gray (New York: Harper, 1968), p. 71; hereafter cited as WCT. 14 Plato, The Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (New York: Pantheon, 1963), pp. 90-91. 15)In my article "Virtui and Poesis in The Revenger's Tragedy," ELH, 43 (1976), 19-37, I focused on Vindice as artist figure. I cite the play from the Revels Plays text, ed. R. A. Foakes (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1966). 16 Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck, trans. Dounia B. Christiana (New York: Norton, 1968), p. 36. 17 Jean-Paul Sartre, "Beyond Bourgeois Theatre," trans. Rima Drell Reck, Theatre in the Twentieth Century, ed. Robert W. Corrigan (New York: Grove Press, 1963), pp. 131-40. 8 Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, trans. Mary Caroline Richards (New York: Grove Press, 1958), p. 25. 19 Alexander Ostrovsky, Five Plays, trans. and ed. Eugene K. Bristow (New York: Pegasus, 1969), p. 426. 20 E. D. Hirsch would agree with Heidegger about hermeneutics (Validity in Interpretation [New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1967], pp. 76-77), but Hirsch sees the author as a strictly biographical being (pp. 1-23) rather than as an artist, who, in my view, shades from the historically unique individual to the type. The artist is less a preconception than an anticipation. Berel Lang sees the work's "intentionality" answering audience's "expectation" (Art and Inquiry [Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1975], pp. 171-87). '1 The artistic construct is an object of experience both for the audience and for the artist himself. Playwright stands before play as Treplev stands before his play. Reverberating among the dimensions of subjectivities and objectivities involved in the aesthetic event are the "polyphonic harmonies" of Roman Ingarden (The Literary Work of Art, trans. George G. Grabowicz [Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1973]). These harmonies are what make a literary work art, and they require of the audience an "aesthetic attitude" (pp. 369-73). '22 "La Joie absurde par excellence, c'est la cr6ation" (Albert Camus, Essais [Dijon: Gallimard, 1965], p. 173).

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