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Felt it. Here. Inside. Here. And when I don’t feel it, it’s pointless. Sarah Kane
1 Introduction: Love and Violence, Metaphoricity and Literality —The Encompassing Parameters
“Love is war” and “love is a unity”—these are the two main conceptual metaphors underlying Sarah Kane’s play Cleansed (1998). However, and quite paradoxically, Kane realizes these metaphors on stage in a way that could not be more literal. A rather minimalistic language is supported by cruel extremes and an “in-yer-face” directness, hard to digest for the audience. These parameters make up Kane’s theatrical language, which is characterized by a non-realistic approach to its topics and a tendency to let form express meaning. The scenes in Cleansed can, at least partly, be analysed by taking them as figures, as it has been done in one of Kane’s inspirational sources for the play, Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. This may sound rather strange, given that Cleansed is a play that literally bursts with atrocities like cut-off tongue, hands, and feet, an impaling scene and lots more. Indeed, what fascinated Kane most was Barthes’ contemplation on Bruno Bettelheim’s comparison of the feelings of a lover to those of an inmate of Dachau: “The amorous catastrophe may be close to what has been called, in the psychotic domain, an extreme situation, ‘a situation experienced by the subject as irremediably bound to destroy him;’ the image is drawn from what occurred at Dachau” (48-49). Barthes questions the acceptability of such an immoral comparison, but concludes that it is justified because both “are, literally, panic situations: situations without remainder, without return: I have projected myself into the other with such power that when I am without the other I cannot recover myself, regain myself: I am lost, forever” (49). This literality is a key feature in Sarah Kane’s plays. The audience witnesses literary metaphors that have come into being on stage, revolving around the issue of love and war/violence: “A parable about love in a time of madness, Cleansed is full of metaphors of addiction, need, loss and suffering” (Sierz 114). Anna Opel explains Kane’s use of minimalism in language and metaphor on stage as Kane’s quest for her own language of theatre: “Die Suche nach dieser Theatersprache beinhaltet in Kanes Ästhetik eine Buchstäblichkeit der Sprache, die etwa in Cleansed ein Eigenleben entwickelt und als monströse Materialität wiederkehrt” (169). Furthermore, Opel states: “Das Verfahren der Ausgestaltung sprachlicher Wendungen als Wirklichkeit, also als Figuren und Handlungen, führt zur Verdeutlichung und Zuspitzung von Aussagen” (Opel 159). Thus, my analysis will take place within the parameters of love and violence/war on the one axis and metaphor and literality on the other axis. The metaphors in Cleansed, however, are not realized on the linguistic level but they appear directly on stage, are a result of what I would like to call ‘figurative scenes,’ in accordance with Roland Barthes’ technique of analysis in A Lover’s Discourse (3-6). This is to say, there is no or little such thing as figurative speech; metaphorical significance comes into being in the larger context of statements put together, making up a scene that “says” more than what is actually said on stage. In the course of my analysis, I would like to place Cleansed in the context of two further works, namely Plato’s Symposium, and here especially the speech of Aristophanes who interprets love in terms of a pursuit of wholeness; and Friedrich Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, a treatise on the origin of language and human quest for truth. Nietzsche in particular focuses on the phenomenon of metaphor in language and human perception. I will try to transfer his findings to the stage of Kane’s play.
In other words. turns to a further analytical dimension of the play: the interaction between metaphoricity and literality. as a result of which he dies. it affronts the ruling ideas of what can or should be shown onstage” (4). leaving them with the feeling “that your personal space has been invaded” (Sierz 4). In its wider sense. Sunday Times). . In Cleansed. according to Sierz. like something jointly dreamt by Goya and Odilon Redon.The methodical proceeding of my analysis will largely be based on Kövecses’ reworking of Lakoff’s findings in the field of cognitive linguistics. in most instances based on the conceptual metaphor “love is a unity. The movement. signify? According to Sierz. I will focus on the second part of this binary opposition. these shocking elements are evident the very moment the play sets off and the character Graham receives an injection in the corner of his eye. 2 Main Part: Decoding Sarah Kane 2.1 In-yer-face: Violence as Metaphor What does the term “in-yer-face. In the final chapter I intend to elucidate Kane’s modus operandi in terms of theatre by comparing Cleansed with the above mentioned Nietzschean essay.” This will be emphasized by outlining an analogy between the play and Aristophanes’ myth of love. the widest definition of in-yer-face theatre is “any drama that takes the audience by the scruff of the neck and shakes it until it gets the message” (4). what is natural or what is real.2. Here. or how several conceptual domains are being blended into “a nightmare.” (5). one has to distinguish conceptual metaphors from metaphorical linguistic expressions. a major effect of in-yer-face theatre derives from directly confronting its audience with shocking scenes. In chapter 2. Chapter 2. . with a “conceptual domain” being “any coherent organization of experience” (4). the use of shock is part of a search for deeper meaning . selfcontained. how the source domain and the target domain correspond. seeks to “question current ideas of what is normal. that is to say. -2- .1 focuses on the appearance of violence and in the play. I will try to reveal several conceptual metaphors that underlie these atrocities. as I have already hinted at above. What is of special interest with regard to Kane is how her mapping of metaphors works. Furthermore. Kövecses outlines the concept of conceptual metaphors: “In the cognitive linguist view. Thus. metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain” (4). what it means to be human. “[q]uestioning moral norms.3. a vision of monsters and victims” (Peter. namely the occurrences of different forms of love in Cleansed. then. Chapter 2.” first applied by the theatre critic Alex Sierz to an extravagant piece of British theatre of the nineties. which “are linguistic manifestations of conceptual metaphors” (Kövecses 39).
He is the one who has the full authority and power over the inmates of the institution. Kövecses points out that “if the conceptual system that governs how we experience the world. and how we act is partly metaphorical. Thus. there are some scenes that show Tinker in a very ambiguous. just like a jailer. for it is the foremost duty of any doctor to show responsibility for his patients. As the reader (not the audience) gets to know from the stage directions. and hospital. has to focus on the mappings between source domains and target domains.and hospital-like realm of Tinker. Thus. the people living in it are prisoners and made dependent upon help and sources of knowledge of some external powers in society. es ging immer darum. Stärker noch als in meinen Stücken davor wird die Gewalt in Gesäubert zur Metapher.” This raises the question what these metaphors stand for. The world is a prison. vulnerable light. (Tabert 20) Many theatre critics have also recognised this poetical tendency. David Benedict states in the Independent that “her [Kane’s] handling of image and metaphor sets her apart from almost every other playwright of her generation. How does this go together with Sarah Kane’s Cleansed? No doubt. What contradicts this aspect of Tinker is his constant denial of responsibility (“I’m not responsible. brothel. Thus. the underlying conceptual metaphor is “the world is a prison.” (10). an extended version would be “the world is a prison for mind and body. An analysis of metaphors. or. Discipline and punish. Kane herself explains in a interview: [U]m die Gewalt ist es darin nie gegangen. vehicle and tenor. However. which trains you with the utmost brutality for nothing much else than dying” (Peter). Criticism has not come up with a convincing analysis in that field so far. how we think. university. physical violence is the source domain. it will certainly not be an easy thing to figure out which meaning the violence tries to convey. then the (conceptual) metaphors must be realized not only in language but also in many other areas of human experience” (57).” which is being blended with social institutions that are responsible for the individual’s mind and body and therefore have the ability to take away the individual’s autonomy over the self.” which calls into mind similarities to a concentration camp. On the contrary. disguised as an educational institution. Richards named it. “I’m not responsible. Grace. and treats the inmates. what is described as a university is actually the prison.” (33)). the non-realistic setting is a blending of diverse settings existing in reality: prison. and learning (university) into a metaphorical location that can be interpreted as Kane’s sinister view of the world. Likewise. no matter whether on page or on stage. wie sehr diese Menschen lieben. commands in a doctor-like fashion (“Show me your tongue” (10). These scenes will be the objects of analysis in chapter 2. at various situations he appears as a doctor. “The spirit that hovers over it [Cleansed] is that of the philosopher Michel Foucault. or whether it tries to convey any meaning at all.Although a brief summary of the play’s plot would have to outline it as an accumulation of scenes of atrocities. und mittlerweile bewege ich mich immer stärker in eine eher poetische Richtung. the first thing one has to bear in mind is that metaphors do not only occur as linguistic realisations. However. A. there is a huge variety of non-linguistic realisations of conceptual metaphors.2. The character who resembles the setting in its structure to a certain extent is Tinker. “Swallow” (10)). is addressed as a doctor. The first observable entity with a metaphorical implication certainly is the setting. -3- . Therefore. the play takes place within the “perimeter fence of a university” (3). Kane concocts a setting of implicated violence (prison). help (hospital). as I. However. To begin with the analysis of metaphors.
She maintains that the human body functions as a substitute to express the soul’s pain because this way it can be made visible on stage (Opel 171). So. The atrocities follow specific actions of the characters in respect to two dimensions. the brutality has to be interpreted as punishment for a behaviour that does not conform to society’s morals. -4- .” The body. This motif later recurs when Robin hangs himself after having realized how long he will really have to stay in the institution (40). Carl can be interpreted as a ‘body of language. From this highly abstract angle. A series of atrocities that has to be seen as belonging together is the “use of ritual dismemberment” (Saunders 20). the amputations are acts of deconstructing the corpus linguistics. my only sunshine. die nicht adäquat kommunizierbar ist” (161).” “society is a killer. the atrocities can be explained as a consequence of linguistic inaccuracy. The appropriate conceptual metaphor thus is “the mind is the body. conceptual metaphors that can be made out are “abstract complex systems are human bodies” (Tinker is society). these amputations represent metaphors “für den Verlust von Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten angesichts einer überbordenden Liebe. [sic] wird mit einem vollständigen Verlust sprachlicher Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten beantwortet. the acts of cutting off Carls tongue (14).” “abstract authorities are persons. Tinker injects an overdose into the corner of Graham’s eye. so potenziert sich der Zusammenhang zwischen sprachlichem Ausdruck und konkreter Körperlichkeit noch. the atrocities committed by Tinker seem to follow a kind of cause-effect calculus.’ Thus. Carl could have expressed his love to Rod verbally. it is rather the signifier for a tortured soul: “Der leidende Körper ist in Kanes Stücken Sinnbild einer gemarterten Seele. daß er weder sprechen noch schreiben kann. because Graham wants to end his life. (156) As shown above. In general. Indeed. the loss of his penis takes away the chance to express love sexually. Opel argues in a comparable way when she states: Was Carl angeht.” 2. the hands (25). What is also of importance is the fact that Tinker. According to this view.” and finally. The conceptual metaphor in this case could be termed “society is a punisher.” On a second level. “societal powers are restraints to the individual. With his tongue. To conclude. with his feet. Here. has “die Funktion der Objektivierung subjektiver Empfindung” (170). the human body in Cleansed can be seen as a metaphor for the soul or mind. Taking this argument as a basis it seems valid to go one step further and see the scenes in the light of a criticism of language. Carl is dismembered and Rod killed because they are a gay couple.3 within the framework of metaphoricity and literality. does not only refer to conflicts inherent in the individual but also to the relationship between society and individual and the conflicts society triggers within the self. he still was able to dance a “dance of love for Rod” (32). and finally the penis (41) do not stand for themselves but rather symbolise a gradual loss of articulation.2 Love is a Unity—Cleansed and Aristophanes’ Myth You are my sunshine. “love is a killer. however. Die Stücke erzählen von einer Spaltung zwischen diesen beiden empfindlichen Phänomenen der menschlichen Existenz” (Opel 179). according to Opel. a circumstance that will be analysed in detail in chapter 2. a personification of society or rather those powers in society that pressure the individual. The violence. and finally. Sein vormaliges Zuviel an Sprache. wenn Carl wegen seines Liebesschwures und seines Verrates körperlich so weit beschnitten wird. but by then it is too late anyway because Rod has already been killed. On a first level. the feet (32). to form a transition to the next chapter. The conceptual metaphor here is “suicide is the ultimate escape”—by and large a minor aspect of the play. his hands could have written down the message. In Scene One. “abstract complex systems are buildings” (the institution is society). the physical violence does not stand for itself. he does not feel responsible. Grace is beaten up and raped because she has an incestuous affair with her brother Graham. For Opel.The question is in how far the disgusting acts of atrocities are the source for some underlying target domain. this loss is not limited to verbal possibilities of expression but also extends to non-verbal ones. looks away as Graham dies (4).
However. how much I love you. they form.” (Barthes 153)) can well be interpreted with Barthes’ figure of declaration: “The amorous subject’s propensity to talk copiously. a relationship between them. delivers a speech that in its realistic intensity outweighs Carl’s utterances in its romantic nature. Finally. This love relationship is one-directional. Grace and Graham (scene 5). to the loved being. You'll never know dear. (7) you you moment. You just have. in scene 14 this relation is reversed and in the end. Robin and Grace (scene 6). (Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell: You Are My Sunshine) What lies under the surface of violence in Cleansed is to a large extent the idealized cognitive model for romantic love. Now. about his love for that being. but upon the -5- . some distinctions have to be drawn. an accurate analysis of the play seems possible. also a loving couple (scene 19). betray more. and Tinker and the Woman (scene 7) form the four intertwining love-relationships. is an ambiguous one of different states: In their first encounter. in terms of the Barthesian categories of subject and object of love. After the first seven scenes.You make me happy when skies are grey. (Kövecses 215) On grounds of this mapping. Grace is his object of love. For Robin. who does not want to make a similar commitment. is to obtain the word.) That I’ll never lie to you. liking. the four crucial love-stories are introduced: Rod and Carl (scene 2). for himself. The couple forms an essential opposition in respect to their worldviews: Carl’s romantic idealism collides with Rod’s cynical realism (Sierz 114): Rod Carl Rod Carl Rod Carl Rod What are you thinking? That I’ll always love you. all are subjects as well as their reciprocal objects of love. Rod and Carl. Don’t make me lie to you. with repressed feeling. and sex. Idealized cognitive models “are structured conceptual representations of domains in terms of elements of these domains” (Kövecses 250): The ICM [idealized cognitive model] for romantic love involves several elements: the lovers (subject and object of love). In the case of Rod and Carl. (laughs. moment you. Tinker seems to be the subject in love. No now. for them: the declaration does not bear upon the avowal of love. enthusiasm. and a variety of attitudes and behaviors typically assumed by the love emotion. the relation between Tinker and the nameless woman upon whom he projects the personality of Grace. (6) Rod. to not to Carl’s urgent wish to express his love for Rod. as well as to get an affirmation from Rod (“What I want. deliriously. Scene 2 introduces the gay couple.) That I’ll never betray you. (laughs more. he himself is the subject in love. Please don't take my sunshine away. now. That’s it. Rod I love I’m with I’ll do my best. as the first two couples in the play. an intense emotion felt by the lovers. as well as of Grace and Graham. including (but not exhausted by) affection.
and so we are human tallies. female. This story elucidates the plot in Cleansed and provides for a better understanding of what is at the heart of the relationship between Grace and Graham. a short look into the myth of Aristophanes seems helpful to discover analogies to Cleansed. he writes down a message of love. “backs and sides forming a circle” (Plato 190a). That Rod has forgiven Carl becomes clear when he finally repeats the pledge of love originally delivered by Carl: Rod I will I will I will On my life. then. Here. those pairs who were the former hermaphrodites were able to have sexual intercourse and to reproduce. it becomes a metaphor for the union of love. After his tongue gets cut off. the rings finally unite in Carl’s stomach. In the vocabulary of Barthes this union is the “[d]ream of total union with the loved being” (226). there were three human genders: male. everlasting love. When his hands are being cut off. he now swallows the ring he originally got from Rod—a metaphorical act of internalised. Carl” (26). This immediately brings to mind Aristophanes’ myth of love. in ancient times each human being consisted of twice of what they are now. To share pain with another person is an expression of ultimate closeness. each of us has been cut in half. love is equivalent to “the desire for and pursuit of wholeness” (Plato 193a) and the desire to “recover our original nature” (Plato 193c). Next. Humans at that time had much more power. This unity of identity or. Carl wants Rod to act out the signifier. Carl verbally declares his love to Rod. pain is the dividing line for the highest level of certainty because it is “so incontestably and unnegotiably present” (Scarry 4) for one person. Zeus decided to split them into halves to deprive them of their powers. who has just cut off Carl’s tongue. “pain comes unshareable into our midst as at once that which cannot be denied and that which cannot be confirmed” (4). In scene 2. nothing seems to be more certain for the -6- . Consequently. the second time Rod makes him swallow his own ring as a sign for forgiveness. “it was their very essence that had been split in two. regardless of Tinker’s intention to deprive him gradually from his means of expression. constantly searching for our counterparts” (Plato 191d). delivered in Plato’s Symposium. and androgynous (Plato 189d-e). Hence.” (73). Grace is driven by the desire to unite with her dead brother Graham. you. moved their formerly backward genitals to their front. This seems valid for and applicable to the feelings of love in a relationship as well. This may be a hint that she relived the pains her brother went through.’” (Scarry 4). The second time the ring appears in scene 4. Aristophanes concludes: “Love [the God] draws our original nature back together. However. he tries to reintegrate us and heal the split in our nature. so each half missed its other half and tried to be with it” (Plato 191b). Turbot-like. Tinker. Rod is the one fully aware of his limits—the human limits and the limits of language. Although Rod is killed later in this scene. the action of putting on the ring would mean. Carl swallows a ring a second time. So. the ring appears in scene 8 where Rod picks up Carl’s severed hand with the ring. However. while “for the other person it is so elusive that ‘hearing about pain’ may exist as the primary model of what it is ‘to have doubt. Thus. they moved by spinning around because they had a round shape.endlessly glossed form of the amorous relation. According to Aristophanes. Whereas Carl the first time is forced to swallow his ring as an act of symbolic punishment for his betrayal of Rod. Carl makes use of a wide range of verbal and nonverbal declarations of love. (38) always never never love lie betray to you. “wholeness.” develops gradually. Here. you. (“Androgyny”) At this point. The last time the ring appears (scene 16). Zeus. First. As Elaine Scarry emphasizes. he goes on expressing his love with a dance of love and after he loses his feet Rod and Carl finally make love. whereas the first time Tinker forced him to swallow his own ring as punishment for his betrayal. forces him to swallow his ring. What ensued was that humans were looking for their second half and after they had found it embraced it until they died of starvation or general apathy. For this reason. the ring has the function to metaphorize the issues of betrayal and forgiveness. The description of the origin of the sexes and of romantic love found in Plato’s Symposium seeks to explain this seemingly inevitable need for human conjoining that defies rational explanation. as Aristophanes calls it. The ring is a key metaphor in the play. Carl never stops expressing his love explicitly. pitying them. The theme of the union that love brings about is central to the play and primarily realized in the relation between the siblings Grace and Graham. However. An androgynous motif that appears throughout Western literature in a multiplicity of guises is the mystical union (or the innate desire for such a union) of two persons into a oneness. he is so devastatingly realistic. Because they were beginning to challenge the gods.” However. In a nutshell. he remains consequent and says: “I won’t lie to you. “I (always) love you. Thus. takes it off and then reads Carl’s written message: “Say you forgive me” (25). Grace dresses in her dead brother’s clothes after which she breaks down. In scene 3.
One final remark about Aristophanes’ myth and Cleansed: Tinker as the destroyer of love and the entity who tears the loving couples apart bears some resemblance to the way Zeus acts by splitting the humans into halves: Indeed. which has been expressed through the sharing of emotions and thus been presented as an inner unity. When the siblings begin to dance. This seemingly paradoxical statement again puts emphasis on the idea of the “mystical union . In scene 7. “They come together” (16). mother and child rapport” (Sierz 114). This scene marks another step towards the complete bodily fusion because by now the siblings not only share their emotions but also their bodily feelings and pain. stand face to face naked. she “smacks him around the face as hard as she can. of two persons into a oneness” (“Androgyny”). in the process of changing clothes. upon which Kane built her play. Graham” (16) initiates their making love. . even if being itself a loving subject. . This shows that the unity of mind has already been accomplished. In scene 5. after Grace has been beaten up and raped “Graham presses his hand onto Grace and her clothes turn / red where he touches. at least in this respect. Here. thus being himself a metaphor for Grace’s longing. what’s the use of struggling? I might as well return to the pursuit of the multiple” (Barthes 228). blood seeping through. how much I love you. Finally “she mirrors him perfectly as they dance exactly in time” (15). The first words she/he is able to speak after the surgery are uttered by both siblings: “Felt it” (42). gain ultimate certainty? It is amazing how well the song of Jim Davis and Charles Mitchell You are my Sunshine. this drastic plastic representation has not come to an end until scene 18. gets its outward manifestation after Grace has put on Graham’s clothes and says to Tinker: “I look like him. This “first sight” is at once a very intimate one. So it looked like it feels. sex is a metonymic variant of love. In scene 10.” After these considerations it becomes clear how close the relationship between Grace and Graham already is. If the assumption turned out to be wrong then the following question would seem urgently justified: “[I]f everything is not in two. . The metaphorical nature of the whole scene is highlighted by that fact that in the end “[a] sunflower bursts through the floor and grows above their heads” (16). The transformation into a union is complete: “Grace looks and sounds exactly like Graham. She is wearing his clothes” (45). becomes visible in a most intense way. / Graham outside like Graham inside” (22).” the nineteen-year-old boy experiences a situation of utter confusion: -7- . whereupon she answers: “My body. Grace’s demand “Love me or kill me.loving subject than the love for its object. during which the amorous subject is ‘ravished’ (captured and enchanted) by the image of the loved object (popular name: love at first sight. “Grace and Robin experience a teacher and pupil. Moreover. and the thing that is left to do is the total bodily fusion. / Simultaneously. sung by the siblings in scene 5. fits in this context: line three of the first verse is “You’ll never know. but how can the loved object. not “assimilation” because they are still two individuals. . Tinker can be seen. scholarly name: enamoration)” (Barthes 188). When Robin and Grace meet for the first time they. Sexual intercourse is the closest possible situation two persons can be with another on a physical level. Graham reappears in a ghost-like manner. This has shortly been hinted at in scene three where Grace suffers a nervous breakdown. The whole plot is thus driven by the necessary metaphorical assumption “love is a unity” which gets people on the way to the pursuit of wholeness. At this point. the process of adjustment. Kane makes visible the oneness of the siblings in the most plastic way. Robin wears Grace’s clothes till his end has come. However. as the ‘Zeus’ of the play. which is a further sign for their perfect cooperation. Robin asks Grace what would be the one thing she would change in her life if she could. This union. goes on with Grace copying Graham’s movements and voice. his own body begins to bleed in the same places” (28). When Grace sees Graham for the first time. Say you thought I was a man” (10). In this scene. In addition to and along with Robin’s “ravishment. Graham looks at his sister and states: “More like me than I ever was” (15). then hugs him to her as tightly as possible” (14). The emotional state of Robin resembles what Barthes calls “ravishment:” “[T]he supposedly initial episode . Grace has received a penis transplanted onto her by Tinker (41). the antithetic principle of love and violence. dear. Ever after this.
Consequently. “Wie weit Menschen gehen. the woman rather seems to function as a substitute for his real love—Grace. If If I had to get married. most ambiguous love relationship of the play is the one between Tinker and the woman in the peepshow booth.” Robin is unable to clearly figure out the feelings he has for Grace: The love for a mother or the love for a woman—a typical Freudian dilemma. is his feeling of being deprived of Grace’s friendship—and love. which is “love for the relationship it produces” (Kövecses 215). In spite of these various forms of love. However. instead. as an incestuous dream. a form of blissful death with.” when the woman repeatedly states “I love your cock” (44). who he had previously also abused and kept captive” (31). In this final meeting of Tinker and the woman (Scene 19). In scene 9 Tinker again visits the woman. In their third encounter in scene 14. besides the fact that he had learned how to count and thus realised how long his sentence really is. He is the omnipotent authority of the play. there is the meaning of “love for liking. (22). if one follows Opel. He says that the woman should not be here and offers his friendship: “Can we be friends?” (17). Tinker is finally able to confess: “I love you. or a visceral loyalty between mutilated men whose wounds are being gnawed at by rats” (Peter). In the final scene Grace/Graham and Carl sit next to each other leaving the reader/audience with a troubled feeling about what conclusion to draw from this last image. “Love survives. I’d choose you. Thus. love in its various different shades and meanings is shown. But then. Grace never engages with Robin’s confession of love. thus using “love” in terms of the conceptual metonymy “love for the object of love” (Kövecses 215). In the penultimate scene. 45). if that is the word.Robin Grace Robin My mum weren’t my mum and another. Whereas in the former scenes Tinker wanted to help the woman out of her situation. Tinker addresses the woman with “Hello. However. Tinker “seems to undergo a process of moral redemption through the mutilation of Grace. the two persons “represent domination and alienated love” (114). as well as other male protagonists in Kane’s plays such as Ian in Blasted and Hippolytus in Phaedra’s Love “have an underlying fragility. “[t]he supreme irony regarding Tinker. a desire to be loved and an almost pathetic tenderness that often lurks beneath their cruelty” (Saunders 32). there is another inversion. Moreover. and through it comes to accept love from the Woman in the booth. Grace” (45). I had to choose I— This scene is informed by the conceptual metaphor “love is confusion. According to Sierz. He is represented as a very ambiguous person desperately looking for love. Grace is in a heavily tranquillised condition. even the “Mephistophelian figure” (Saunders 96) of Tinker is not presented as being completely devilish. 2. having the power to do what he wants with the other persons. The last. The reason for Robin to commit suicide in scene 18. Thus. scheint hier in einem Laborversuch untersucht zu werden” (147). However. friendly relationship of the play. this exactly seems to have been Kane’s intention: “[S]ometimes we have to descend into hell imaginatively in order to avoid going there in reality” (Stephenson and Langridge 133). Scene 6 depicts Tinker masturbating while letting himself be stimulated by the female dancer. Tinker apparently projects Grace’s personality onto the woman because he addresses her with Grace’s name (19). 44. does not respond to Robin calling her name and thus involuntarily contributes to bring about Robin’s suicide. he now forces her to act as she is supposed to as a peep-show dancer. Finally. he wants to see her face and talk to her. He. This can be seen in the way their dialogues contrast with the rest of the play: “In ihrem nicht-hierarchischen. is what can be concluded. Metaphoricity and Literality Someday when we’re dreaming -8- . This paves the way for the most innocent. the desperate impression conjured up by the final images of Grace holding Carl’s stump and rats gnawing at their wounds presses heavily upon the reader’s mind. the fact that the only positive union in the end could be achieved by Tinker and the woman leaves the audience/reader with a bad aftertaste. According to Saunders. is that someone who so systematically attempts to destroy love in others is in fact yearning to express and reciprocate love himself” (Saunders 98). they seem to have changed roles. the woman demands “Make love to me. The love they found seems not to be the real love: for Tinker. This time she accepts his offer for help on the condition that Tinker saves her (26). I’d marry you. which leaves Tinker and the woman in a reciprocal love relationship. Sweet boy. freundschaftlichen Verhältnis ist Raum für Gespräch und Fragen” (Opel 150). wenn sie sich ihrer Liebe ausliefern. Tinker” (43) which is a special case of the metonymy “whole for part. my love” (42).” namely “love for sex” (Kövecses 216). but he is also presented deeply vulnerable. Both admit to love each other (43.3 Transgressing the Borders: Minimalism. After the woman rejects his offer he goes one step further claiming to be a doctor: “I can help” (18).
384). dadurch aber als Metapher unlesbar. To use words metaphorically is to use them in an improper sense. but allegorical” (45). According to this view. al. seien Effekt der sprachlichen Operationen und Metaphern. die die Figuren gebrauchen. “Tinker is watching” (22) and thus overhearing her wish. as distinguished from any metaphorical or merely suggested meaning” (“literal”). 388). a further conclusion is: Again by definition. a literal metaphor is a contradiction in terms. As outlined by Lakoff and Johnson. mit -9- . when the speaker’s meaning is the objective meaning. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “literal” as “the distinctive epithet of that sense or interpretation (of a text) which is obtained by taking its words in their natural or customary meaning. etc” and “[h]ence. Carls Versprechen sei Selbstmord. by definition. which is equivalent to a “fear of emotion and the imagination” (191). so gewinnt man den Eindruck. not a lot to say Then we will remember The things we said today. al. this goes along with an extreme minimalism of language: “Daß dieser sprachliche Minimalismus auf der Binnenebene mit einer extremen Empfindsamkeit gegenüber sprachlichen Ungenauigkeiten einhergeht. or to the sense expressed by the actual wording of the passage. A further instance of literal understanding of metaphoricity in language is Carl’s pledge of love to Rod. Sie repräsentieren in diesem Sinne eine Sprache und ein Denken. al. literality and metaphoricity form a further binary opposition besides the already analysed love-violence antithesis. Tinker nimmt es buchstäblich. Tinker can be construed as a representative of objectivist and empiricist tradition. (209) Such an approach is based on “fear of metaphor and rhetoric” (Lakoff and Johnson 191)./ Graham outside like Graham inside” (22). opposed to mystical. A sentence is used literally when M' = M. “Was die Figuren im poetisierten Überschwang an Wünschen und Absichten äußern. This way of conveying meaning has to be seen in the light of the development of cognitive linguistics in the twentieth century: “In the course of the twentieth century the assumed distinction between the literal and the metaphorical has come under increasing attack” (Fludernik et. The most obvious example of this literal translation of speech is when Grace states that she wishes to change her body into that of Graham: “So it looked like it feels. by extension.” (Fludernik et. namely putting the validity of statements to the test. Thus. This is to say that the metaphorical nature of language is being ignored and thus the metaphorical meaning is made visible on stage by comprehending statements only in their literal sense. Meanwhile. In accordance to the theoretical background given above. Thus. The person who pushes forward the plot in this respect is Tinker because he is unable to understand any meaning beyond the literal meaning of statements. there can. This scene displays the second aspect of literality. according to the objectivist definition. Metaphors can only arise when M' ? M. be no such thing as metaphorical meaning. sich durch den Vollstrecker Tinker nahezu bewahrheitet. on stage. metaphor can only be a matter of language evoked through talking (blatantly false) about some objective meaning by using language that would be used literally to talk about some other objective meaning. and applying the ordinary rules of grammar. . allegorical. Cleansed ridicules any objectivist assumptions and brings to light the essential metaphoricity of language on stage. (Opel 156) Thus. Consequently. Consequently cognitive linguists tend to think “of metaphor as a process of thought rather than a product of language . applied to the etymological or the relatively primary sense of a word. and literal language cannot be metaphorical. that is. In this respect. This is in line with Ken Urban’s observation that from the way Kane’s plays are staged “we can no longer respond to the action as literal. 385).Deep in love. die Bildlichkeit der Sprache habe sich in den szenischen Raum hinein erweitert. objectivism holds that because meaning is objective. das sich verselbständigt hat und sich nun szenisch betätigt. der szenische Raum und die Dinge. Es wird nahegelegt. Kane’s way of working in a way is a deconstruction of the myth of objectivism. there can be no such thing as literal (conventional) metaphor. Opel states: Wenn in der Folge Rods Behauptung. (John Lennon/Paul Mc Cartney: Things We Said Today) A further dimension of the play is the interplay between statements and their literal realisation. . Seine Wunscherfüllung übersetzt sprachliche Wendungen in materielle Realität” (Opel 147). to stir the imagination and thereby the emotions and thus to lead us away from the truth and toward illusion” (191). die dort geschehen. According to Opel. or rather the examination of their validity. “Words are viewed as having ‘proper senses’ in terms of which truths can be expressed. nicht eindeutig übersetzbar wird. From a cognitive perspective “linguistic expression arises from strategic adaptations of body schemata that we project onto our environment” (Fludernik et.
Nietzsche argues: . Rod wonders what would have happened if Carl had insisted on being murdered himself. where the metaphorical nature of Tinker is analysed and in chapter 2. die etwa in Cleansed ein Eigenleben entwickelt und als monströse Materialität wiederkehrt” (Opel 169). In scene 4. Tinker is certainly a meddler in the fates of his charges. For Nietzsche. not my friend. This has already been shown above: large parts of the speech in Cleansed have their scenic counterpart due to an understanding of speech (by Tinker) that is purely literal and thus brings about what Opel calls “Ausgestaltung sprachlicher Wendungen als Wirklichkeit” (Opel 159).4 “Is language the adequate expression of all realities?”—Form as Meaning This final chapter intends to reveal some similarities of Kane’s conception of theatre and Nietzschean thought as expressed in his essay On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (1873). zeigt der erste Dialog zwischen Rod und Carl” (Opel 155). As Saunders puts it. . states about Tinker “[i]t’s almost as if he were scientifically testing out the boundaries of love” (Saunders 181). Rod concludes: “He ever / asks me I’ll say ‘Me. In terms of metaphor. In this respect. Tinker cuts off Carl’s tongue. just as in Kafka’s The Trial. The dismemberment of Carl’s body. they speak in meagre. testing their desires. An adequate analysis would require an additional research paper of its own. is not restricted to actions. This embodiment of literal phrases. where Graham is interpreted as a metaphor for Grace’s longing. These features in Kane’s playwrighting are embedded in her search for a language of theatre that allows a different view on reality: “Die Suche nach dieser Theatersprache beinhaltet in Kanes Ästhetik eine Buchstäblichkeit der Sprache.1. because adequacy in the expression of reality would imply truth-claims.einem Bestehen auf absoluter Wahrhaftigkeit der Sprache. Therefore. Not to Carl. . Of course. however. “Cleansed frequently relies on theatrical imagery to add a further dimension to linguistic meaning” (88). This announcement is put to the test in scene 17 and Rod. but also extends to characters: The figures “aren’t so much characters as states of being. As the actor Stuart McQuarrie. Tinker again overhears their conversation. he puts Carl’s commitment to the test and Carl fails to proof the validity of his statement. there exists no such thing as “the truth” uttered through language. Nietzsche raises the question: “Is langauge the adequate expression of all realities?” This goes along with an investigation into the nature of man’s quest for truth.2. In scene 13. often to savagely logical conclusions. To sum it up. the testing of the authenticity of love seems to be equivalent to the testing of the validity of statements. Do it to me. . not/ my lover. has primarily to be interpreted in terms of punishment for being dishonest and inaccurate in the use of language. Observer). Opel nicely paraphrases this phenomenon of Kane when she states: “Man könnte in dieser Phase von Kanes Schreiben vom Nebentext als szenischer Erweiterung des Haupttextes sprechen” (159). This has already been argued in chapter 2. this can only be an enquiry touching little more than the surface of the topic. insisting upon his decision.10 - . is brought about by literal translation of statements onstage. is murdered (38). the “feeling of metaphoric truth” (Sierz 117) that permeates the play. “Die oft derbe und obszöne Sprache in Kanes Stücken ist durch ein Mißtrauen gegenüber sprachlicher Ungenauigkeit geschärft und zugespitzt zu einer kargen Poesie” (Opel 155). however. Saunders convincingly argues: Integral to the theme of love in Cleansed are the ways in which love is tested. the Nietzschean attitude expressed in his essay is known as the “It’s All Metaphor Position” (Lakoff and Turner 218) and shares some striking insights with Kane’s theatre. (96) In the case of Rod. their delusions and professions of love. 2. do it to me’” (32). stilted jabs” (Clapp. who played the part of Tinker in the 1998 Royal Court production of Cleansed. this “savagely logical conclusion” is to murder him. Often this is brought about in the most brutal and violent ways by the figure of Tinker.
right into the middle of an entirely new and different one. no correctness. But in any case it seems to me that the correct perception—which would mean the adequate expression of an object in the subject—is a contradictory impossibility. One designates only the relations of things to man. oder auch gegenüber Begründungen und Herleitungen von unbedingten Sollenssätzen” (Rauscher 22) can thus be extended to the stage of theatre to draw an analogy between him and Kane. either in form or content. as between subject and object.” This is the point where the issue can be brought back to Kane. Truth is therefore not absolute or objective but is based on understanding. Bearing this in mind. but also by the audience. first transposed into an image—first metaphor. in turn. Lakoff and Johnson argue against traditional Western philosophy and linguistics that meaning is never disembodied or objective and is always grounded in the acquisition and use of a conceptual system. This is why her plays set off vivid controversies. Nietzsche seems to have been a forerunner of cognitive linguists. dissolving ideas. there is no causality. What. . The disturbed reaction of many theatre critics should be understood from this angle.The “thing in itself” (for that is what pure truth. Her way of working with theatre bears some analogies to the way Nietzsche would like people to use language. and no expression. metonyms. To dissolve her scenic images into a concept is at least problematic. . metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power. And the best art is subversive in form and content” (Stephenson and Langridge 130). In an interview she stated: “All good art is subversive. coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal.” The first metaphor is a neural stimulus translated into an image. would be) is quite incomprehensible to the creators of language and not at all worth aiming for. and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. transposed. and which after long use seem firm. a sum of human relations which have been enhanced. Kane was well aware of how she worked. oder gegenüber wahrheitswertfähigen Aussagen über ethische Sachverhalte. and anthropomorphisms— in short. A nerve stimulus. Thus. if there were such a thing as the res in ipsum. . To make the form carrier of meaning and to refuse conventionalised working is a key feature to understand her work: “form and content attempt to be one—the form is the meaning” (Stephenson and Langridge 130). Kane (and other representatives of in-yer-face theatre) refuses to work in the way she is expected to do by societal authorities such as theatre critics. Hereafter. there is. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere. The image. it would be completely inaccessible for mankind because language has to be seen as twice removed from this “truth. terms and feelings into scenic images. then metaphor—that sensuous grasping of things in terms of what they are not— is endemic and fundamental to cognition itself” (241). imitated by a sound—second metaphor. Kane’s scenic metaphors can hardly be endowed with concrete. and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are. Nietzsche formulates: “Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema. and embellished poetically and rhetorically. at most. is truth? A mobile army of metaphors. Kane goes the other way around. truth is always given relative to a conceptual system and the metaphors that structure it. What’s On). For between two absolutely different spheres. . (197) As Bruce Wilshire points out. no longer as coins. canonical. “After our vision clears. The conclusions of Lakoff and Johnson apparently derive from Nietzsche’s body of thought. without consequences. and to express them one calls on the boldest metaphors. Nietzsche’s line of argumentation leads to the insight that “the world as it is experienced is protometaphorical in its structure” (Wilshire 239).11 - . we can’t help but wonder how much all this sound and fury really signifies” (Marlowe. This metaphor of coins implies that mankind has forgotten its own active part in “imprinting” meaning onto the things external to us. then. plain sense. Nietzsche’s aversion “gegenüber der Festschreibung von Werten. the second the translation of the image into a sound. it seems valid to assume that Nietzsche would probably have felt some affection for Kane’s work. Moreover. Therefore. Reactions like this one are the consequence of Kane’s refusal to make use of conventional theatrical imagery and metaphors. “since perception is basic to that worldly presence of things-along-with-otherthings which is meaning itself. an aesthetic relation. On the contrary.
we finally have arrived back at the Barthesian image of Dachau. what is natural or what is real” (5). What makes Kane an outstanding author is her directorial and authorial performance originating from the insight that any set norms whatsoever—whether societal. In an interview with Tabert she states that a text becomes less important “wenn man ihn zu konkret macht und auf eine Ebene begrenzt” (Tabert 15). They argue that a metaphorical approach reconciles subjectivism and objectivism because it “unites reason and imagination” (193) and can therefore be conceived of as “imaginative rationality” (193). Because they both accept this fact they become free to intuitively create really new instances of thought and. The last thing one might wonder about is whether a depiction of atrocities as graphic as in Cleansed is really necessary for conveying the intended messages. linguistic. That immense framework and planking of concepts to which the needy man clings his whole life long in order to preserve himself is nothing but a scaffolding and toy for the most audacious feats of the liberated intellect. what it means to be human. theatre. es ging immer darum. and puts it back together in an ironic fashion.The similarity in the works of Kane and Nietzsche would thus be the acknowledgement of the fundamental. of the conventions of realism that is perhaps the key distinguishing feature of the dramatic strategy employed in Sarah Kane’s work” (Saunders 9). Hence. This is due to Kane’s intention to design her plays in an ambiguous way. the play can be read as a deconstruction of the myths of absolute truth and proper senses. or theatrical—are imbued by an essential subjective moment in their origin. Here. This notion again highlights the dependence of understanding on a conceptual system. 3 Conclusion: Deconstructing the ‘Proper Senses’ What is to be drawn from all this? First of all. throws it into confusion. universal metaphoricity of human language. in the case of Kane. This leads to the “rejection. In spite of the overall ambiguity of the play I will dare to declare a message of Cleansed: On the level of human relationships it declares that love is possible even under the most extreme circumstances. wie sehr diese Menschen lieben” (Tabert 20). it is demonstrating that it has no need of these makeshifts of indigence and that it will now be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. Her way of realizing this insight is to play with different dimensions of metaphoricity. the physical violence in Kane’s plays that has caused such a public outcry has primarily to be interpreted in terms of the conceptual metaphor “the mind is the body:” the body becomes the epitome of a tortured soul. the readers/audience are deliberately left to their own when it comes to consider possible messages of the play. however devastatingly these are for the audience: .12 - . However. Cleansed is essentially about love: “[U]m die Gewalt ist es darin nie gegangen. And when it smashes this framework to pieces. This ties in with Sierz’ remarks on in-yer-face theatre: “Writers who provoke audiences or try to confront them are usually trying to push the boundaries of what is acceptable—often because they want to question current ideas of what is normal. On the linguistic level. or at least manipulation. The last scene seems to state—to put it in terms of the conceptual metaphor “love is war”—that love conquers all. Lakoff and Johnson point out a further aspect of this way of working that leads to Kane’s unique aesthetics of theatre. As Kane emphasizes. But this seems to be a justified procedure in a society that is characterized by emotional blunting. This has convincingly been argued by Opel. The only remaining question seems to be: At what prize? Thus. pairing the most alien things and separating the closest. there is an extremely romantic view on love under the surface of atrocities. This is in accordance to the postmodern body of thought set off by Nietzsche. Kane makes society experience feelings. This love between two people is realized metaphorically first and foremost through the conceptual metaphor “love is a unity” corresponding to Aristophanes’ myth and his conception of love as the pursuit of wholeness in its most literal sense.
Think about getting up it’s pointless. Think about eating it’s pointless.Grace/GrahamFelt it.13 - . it’s pointless. (46) . Think about speaking it’s pointless. Inside. Think about dying only it’s totally fucking pointless. Here. Think about dressing it’s pointless. And when I don’t feel it. Here.
1988.-6 May): 564. Rpt. Susannah Observer. <http://www. Friedrich “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. Kövecses. Sam What’s On. “Literal. Barthes.com/thenietzschechannel/tls.-6 May): 566-67. 10 May 1998. Secondary Sources “Androgyny. Benedict.9 (23 Apr. Rainald Goetz. New York: Greenwood.Works Cited Primary Source Kane. Roland A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. Trans. Lakoff. 10 May 1998. Chicago: UP. London: Methuen. Sarah Cleansed. Fludernik. 1989. Oxford: UP. 9 May 1998. 1998. Donald C. in Theatre Record 18.” 15 March 2005.3 (1999): 383-96. Marlowe. Richard Howard.9 (23 Apr. Sarah Kane. Bielefeld: Aisthesis. 20.” Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs. Rpt. George and Mark Johnson Metaphors We Live By. John Sunday Times. 1980. Rpt. Freeman “Metaphor and Beyond: An Introduction. Lakoff. in Theatre Record 18. in Theatre Record 18. 13 May 1998.9 (23 Apr.” The Oxford English Dictionary. Sprachkörper —Zur Relation von Sprache und Körper in der zeitgenössischen Dramatik—Werner Fritsch. Freemann and Margaret H. Ed. Clapp. Chicago: UP. Opel. 2002. George and Mark Turner More than Cool Reason: a Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor.geocities.-6 May): 564-65. Peter. in Theatre Record 18. 1979. 1989. David Independent.” Poetics Today. 2nd ed.9 (23 Apr. 2002.htm>. London: Penguin.-6 May): 566.14 - . Rpt. Anna. Nietzsche. Plato . Zoltán Metaphor—A Practical Introduction. Jean-Charles Seigneuret. Monika.
. By Scarry. Ken “An Ethics of Catastrophe: The Theatre of Sarah Kane. Hamburg: Rowohlt. Graham Love Me or Kill Me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes. 1998. 2000. Indiana: UP. Würzburg: Königshausen & Naumann. The Limits of Theatre as Metaphor. New York: Oxford UP. Urban. Trans. Heidi and Natasha Langridge Rage and Reason.Die Londoner Theaterszene der 90er. 1994. 1982. London: Methuen. 2002.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 69 (2001): 36-46. Stephenson. Josef. Wilshire. London: Faber & Faber. Oxford: UP. Scarry. Sierz. Sprache und Ethik: die Konstitution der Sprache und der Ursprung des Ethischen in der Grundkonstellation von Antwort und Verantwortung. 1997. Elaine Introduction. 2001. The Body in PainThe Unmaking and Making of the World.Women Playwrights on Playwriting. 1985.British Drama Today.15 - . Bruce Role Playing and Identity. 3-23. Robin Waterfield. Rauscher. Nils Playspotting. Alex In-Yer-Face Theatre.Symposium. Manchester: UP. Tabert. Saunders.
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