The “after theory” syndrome silently renounced historiography as radical thought and substituted a closed, retrospective framework to conceptualize the ontology of theater/performance history. In its postmodern/post-utopian universe, historicizing largely contents itself with connecting facticity and rationality under the pressure of global capitalism and U.S. domination. Realpolitik has become a euphemism for Machtpolitik. In a world whose power politics is programmatically infused with a cynical rhetoric of compassion and inevitability, one is often stuck in the terrain of practical possibility where “realism” is the only mode of operation and action in history. Yet without a critique of the idea of the vitality of the state/profession and without actively seeking an ethical life on behalf of another praxis, history is constrained to participate in the violent narrative of progress to a higher state of evolution. The task of theater historiography is therefore to perturb the notion of the vitality of the state, the institution, and the professions by attending to and nurturing the now—an ethical life based on historiographical self-examination that will always be in reality but not of it.
Michal Kobialka; Theater/Performance Historiography: Politics, Ethics, and the Now. Modern Language Quarterly 1 March 2009; 70 (1): 19–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2008-028
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