Jody Enders, The Medieval Theater of Cruelty, Chapter 3
“Early theorists of rhetoric, dramatists and practitioners of theater display the same behaviors of uncovering and repression…they construct rhetoric as a nonviolent and spectacular way to mediate the violence that accounts for its own genesis. They then go on to denounce selected types of community violence that rhetoric’s inherent violence is morally obliged to extinguish.” pp. 161-162
Rhetoric as a form of producing the surrogate victim of Girard.
“When medieval dramatic productions regaled spectators with an extensive repertoire of special effects that were designed to render pain and suffering as realistically as possible, they consistently pushed the limits of witnessing, impersonation and violence.” Enders args that this also explains incorporation of “real violence” into medieval/Renaissance drama.
[here’s a question: why does rhetoric work to produce power? The answer, via Foucault: because institutions/prior historicities/epistemes/power. But no wonder then genealogy and its hostility to origins: this is the kind of banishment of causality that drives conventional social scientists batty–it’s a “because” that answers almost nothing–or that makes mute whatever it is that rhetoric is working its violence upon]
“ludic violence against Christ”: the playfulness of Christ’s torturers is tied to the horror and gruesome character of games of chance generally
catharsis’ intellectual and cultural roots as a concept: to “purge emotion” and therefore permit the distanced, balanced, etc. subject to step forward to act
“the most beautiful [execution] ever seen” p. 188: what is going on here in Enders’ reading? are there others?
“Among the most haunting features of the history of torture is the transmutation of the role of witness/spectator to that of participant/victim. That is, victims of torture are forced to view the staging of their own dismemberment.” p. 188
Is the audience participating in the catharsis of violence and torture “acquiring or abandoning agency”? p. 191
Enders argues strongly that medieval audiences did not think of the violence of drama as “not really happening”, quite the contrary–that the drama was a mimetic re-enactment