The happily skeptical woman in the blue shirt is invested in the second scene, and is careful not to insult the translation of the first scene.
She is trying to criticize it, but maybe she feels self conscious that someone in the House had a hand in it. She asks–Who translated it? And how old was Weil when she wrote it?
She must be thinking that perhaps whatever is “wrong” with the scene from Venice Saved can be blamed on the infelicities of a bad translation (blame the translator!) or on the inconsistencies of a teenage mind (she is hoping Weil wrote this as a precocious 12 year old?).
Her reaction foregrounds how hard it is to be openly critical; how can she say she despises this scene and also locate that judgment in her own critical skills. She needs more evidence that her judgment is objective in some way, and dso, beyond reproach. She’s not ready to just put forth that she dislikes the scene; she needs to qualify it. When it becomes clear to her that she is going to have to stand by her own subjective stance, she back-pedals–What, you guys translated it? Simone Weil was the same age as me when she wrote it? Uh, thanks. Awesome…it’s really a good scene, Don’t Mind Me! She pulls in her critique when it seems as if it might hurt the feelings of Anyone. Consider an unpleasant hypothesis: You do not like this scene because perhaps your taste is molded by The Young and the Restless, West Wing, ER, 24, whereas the taste of our benefactress SW was shaped by different kinds of diversions–Homer? Racine? Euripides? Does this mean that good taste and bad taste are political categories? That there is no aesthetic judgment possible in political theater?
But she struggles to locate her dislike of the first scene. Her students are here with her, so she must seem unimpeachable in her views, perhaps. Why not just say the second scene is a piece of daytime melodrama? Why assume that Weil’s scene is perfect as it is? Why so afraid to like or dislike? To critique? Is it political to risk revealing your ignorance, and not apologize for it?
As the light dims for Bell Tower scene, we wonder, up here: will this seminar ever evolve from the conversation with the professor to the conversation between the audience members? What controls that dynamic?
Why do we obey the rules even against our own will, as the conspirators are saying? When we are not even aware that no one has given us any rules?