in the eventuality that god is undermined, waiting for Weber

theatricality gives Morgan Wortham the opportunity for an excellent description of Weber’s modus operandi, which ‘continually work[s] to exceed, destabilize and dislocate any framework in which the question of theatricality as such might be put’. For several reasons, theatricality is inseparable from the idea of a theatrical performance. Unlike a theoretical treatise, for instance, a theatrical presentation cannot be conceived outside of its reliance on and exposure of a stage on which the supposed content of a drama can appear. Exposure of the indispensable workings of a frame for the presentation goes hand in hand with whatever occurs onstage. Also fundamental to a theater piece is the occasionality of any single performance. But, as Weber reminds us, performance implies a forming of material through to perfection; the root ‘form’ and the perfective prefix ‘per’ entail a traditional, ultimately theological notion of aesthetics, where spiritual form ennobles base matter. In contrast, in the theatrical, material artifice determines the presentation in the form of props, costumes, lighting, and scenery, while the essential authorizing of the scene by a playwright in the transcendent position of a god is undermined by the social, historical, and linguistic contingency of the relations between actors and the inconsistent plurality of spectators in an audience; a performance whose results are anything but predictable.

– Paul North reviews Simon Wortham’s Samuel Weber: Acts of Reading, here