P       RNCU   REPO   ODER       E            P O S T M O D E R N
P  TMOD RNCU  U EP S  ODER  ULTU E               C U L T U R E
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER  ULTU E          an electronic journal
P  TMODERNCU  UREPOS  ODER       E           of interdisciplinary
Volume 12, Number 2 (May, 2002)                    ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Lisa Brawley
	                            James F. English

Editors Emeritus:                   Eyal Amiran				     
				    Stuart Moulthrop
                                    John Unsworth

Review Editor:                      Paula Geyh

Managing Editor:                    Bill Albertini
				    Claire Chantell

Research Assistants:                Elizabeth Bridgham
                                    David Smyrda
				    Jordan Taylor

Editorial Board:                                           

     Michael Berube                 Patrick O'Donnell
     Nahum Chandler                 Elaine Orr
     Heesok Chang	            Bob Perelman
     J. Yellowlees Douglas          Marjorie Perloff
     Diane Gromala                  Fred Pfeil
     Graham Hammill                 Peggy Phelan
     David Herman                   David Porush
     E. Ann Kaplan                  Mark Poster	
     Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett  Susan Schultz
     Neil Larsen                    William Spanos
     Tan Lin                        Allucquere Roseanne Stone
     Saree Makdisi                  Gary Lee Stonum
     Jerome McGann                  Rei Terada
     Larysa Mykyta                  Paul Trembath
     Jim Morrison                   Greg Ulmer
     Chimalum Nwankwo                                          
    Scott Michaelsen and Scott Cutler Shershow, "Practical 
    Politics at the Limits of Community: The Cases of
    Affirmative Action and Welfare"
    Samir Dayal, Inhuman Love: Jane Campion's The Piano" 
    Brian Donahue, "Marxism, Postmodernism, Zizek"
    Jim Hicks, "'What's It Like There?': Desultory Notes on the 
    Representation of Sarajevo"
                           Collaborative Hypertext
    Thomas Swiss and Seb Chevrel, "The Narrative You 
    Anticipate You May Produce" 
                               Review Essay
    Matthew Hart, "Solvent Abuse: Irvine Welsh and Scotland." 
    A review of Irvine Welsh, Glue. New York: Norton, 2001.
    Lisa Hopkins, "Returning to the Mummy." A review of 
    The Mummy Returns. Dir. Stephen Sommers. Perf. Brendan 
    Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and Arnold Vosloo. MCA/Universal, 2001.
    Christopher Pizzino, "A Legacy of Freaks." A review of 
    Slavoj Zizek, The Fragile Absolute, or, Why is the Christian 
    Legacy Worth Fighting For? New York: Verso, 2000. 
    Alexander H. Pitofsky, "Profit and Stealth in the 
    Prison-Industrial Complex." A review of Joseph T. 
    Hallinan, Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation. New 
    York: Random House, 2001. 
    Jason B. Jones, "Sexuality's Failure: The Birth of History." 
    A review of Tim Dean, Beyond Sexuality. Chicago: U of 
    Chicago P, 2000, and Charles Shepherdson, Vital Signs: Nature, 
    Culture, Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge, 2000.
    Niran Abbas, "Trekking Time with Serres." A review 
    of Maria Assad, Reading with Michel Serres: An Encounter with 
    Time. SUNY Press, 1999. 
    Andreas Kitzmann, "They're Here, They're Everywhere." A 
    review of Jeffrey Sconce, Haunted Media: Electronic Presence 
    from Telegraphy to Television. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2000. 
                         Related Readings
                        (WWW Version Only)
                         Bibliography of
                       and Critical Theory
                        (WWW Version Only)
                        (WWW Version Only)
                      Notes on Contributors
    Scott Michaelsen and Scott Cutler Shershow, "Practical 
    Politics at the Limits of Community: The Cases of
    Affirmative Action and Welfare"
        o Abstract: In the wake of a number of studies of the 
        relationship between post-structuralism and the "political," 
        this article demonstrates how a post-structuralist Marxism 
        can be applied to particular instances of politico-economic 
        decision-making.  Through an examination of U.S. court cases 
        that address affirmative action and welfare, the authors 
        reveal the limits of both "left" and "right" versions of these 
        policies and show how the entire spectrum of conventional 
        opinion unites around (and remains unable to escape) certain 
        founding assumptions.  In particular, the traditional 
        conceptualizations of affirmative action and welfare reach 
        their limit in the figures of mandated white supremacy and 
        enforced economic inequality.  The authors also suggest that e
        it is precisely at these limits that another form of politics 
        emerges--one influenced in particular by a broadly 
        Marxian/Derridean trajectory and Jean-Luc Nancy's work on 
        community.  This form of politics involves what the authors 
        call "calculation in order to end calculation," by which all 
        conventional notions of giving or sharing must be radically 
        reconfigured at the limit of identity itself.  Such a politics 
        would produce an "affirmative action" policy not strictly 
        affirmative of anything, not even "diversity," a policy 
        whose goal would be absolute deracialization; and a 
        "welfare" policy no longer founded in exclusion and the 
        preservation of scarcity, but re-conceived as an expenditure 
        without reserve: an offering or sharing of well-being to an 
        "all" that remains forever open.--sm and scs
    Samir Dayal, Inhuman Love: Jane Campion's The Piano" 
        o Abstract: Jane Campion's The Piano has been 
        praised as a film about a woman's self-assertion against an 
        oppressive patriarchal and colonial economy which defines a 
        woman's place ultimately within the institution of bourgeois 
        marriage.  Ada McGrath, the protagonist, is championed for 
        her moving, if ironic, self-assertion: she chooses not to 
        speak, but lets her piano express her innermost feelings. And 
        yet, viewers have also felt disappointed and troubled because
        Ada appears to accede to a demeaning self-prostitution to win 
        back her piano, a "bargain" that Campion apparently "resolved" 
        by marrying her to the man who seduces her.  How then could 
        Ada be an exemplar of feminist resistance? This essay argues
        that this disappointment is not only unwarranted but obscures
        the film's power and insights into desire and psychic drive. 
        Ada's resistance must be understood in its colonial and 
        feminist dimensions. But the film's true richness lies in its 
        exploration of desire, its rendering of Ada's self-assertion 
        as a kind of inhuman love.  The film demonstrates an 
        extraordinary understanding of desire as crucial to 
        subjectivity and of jouissance as the subject's impossible 
        goal.  Ada's pursuit of desire and jouissance comes to a 
        crisis in her near self-annihilation. The essay develops some 
        insights of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to show that the 
        film merits renewed and deeper theoretical analysis as a 
        representation of a kind of love that challenges the 
        categories of conventional love and highlights its 
        misfirings, but by the same token illuminates insights into 
        this most universal and defining human experience.--sd
    Brian Donahue, "Marxism, Postmodernism, Zizek"
        o Abstract: This article addresses some of the challenges to 
        Marxism posed by the conditions of late capitalism and by 
        the theoretical discourses of postmodernism, and makes a 
        case for the continued relevance and value of Marxist theory 
        for an ostensibly post-Marxist, would-be post-ideological 
        period. The developments in the theory of ideology advanced 
        in Slavoj Zizek's work, focusing on the role of psychology 
        in the functioning of ideology under conditions of late 
        capitalism, are then taken as valuable criticisms and 
        revisions of the Marxist tradition that open useful avenues 
        for critically understanding American culture and society 
        in recent decades. Two of Zizek's key--and related--insights 
        are then examined in relation to two well-known American 
        films: the first, that the dominant subjective structure of 
        postmodern society is that of the "pathological narcissist," 
        is developed through a reading of Citizen Kane, particularly 
        in light of Zizek's assessment of the role of the "maternal 
        superego" in this subjective structure; and the second, that
        the breakdown between the simulacrum and the Real in 
        postmodern society must be understood in terms of the 
        attenuation of the Symbolic order, is developed through a 
        reading of Pulp Fiction, framed in terms of the often-
        repeated concern about "desensitization" toward violence in 
        a society in which the simulacrum is alleged to have usurped 
        the Real. The essay concludes with a claim that Zizek should 
        be understood not as a cynical, apolitical ironist, as some 
        have critically read him, but rather as a "late Marxist" in 
        the Jamesonian sense.--bd
    Jim Hicks, "'What's It Like There?': Desultory Notes on the 
    Representation of Sarajevo"
        o Abstract: In the prologue to his influential, now perhaps 
        infamous, Balkan Ghosts, Robert D. Kaplan asks, and answers, 
        the following question: "What does the earth look like in the 
        places where people commit atrocities?"  A similar inquiry 
        seems implicit in my own titular question and probably lurks 
        behind the readerly glance of almost anyone who chooses to 
        write, or peruse, an essay like mine.  Part autobiography, 
        part photographic essay, part critique, part anecdote, 
        parable, and comedy of errors, my text offers, more than 
        anything else, a note of caution.  What is it we see, if we 
        see? After the original, oral presentation of this essay, 
        one audience member described it as an attempt to walk the 
        line between a necessary silence and the obligation to 
        witness.  My own sense of it is that the essay wanders 
        around more than most and isn't all that certain of what it 
        finds.  Doing so is an attempt to do justice to the 
        Benjaminian sense of experience--events for which categories 
        are lacking--and thus to counteract, in some small fashion, 
        our all-too-common, post-Eliot sense of ourselves as born
        -again Tiresians (we've seen it all, and can do nothing).  
        If such an excursion can be said to have a purpose, it is 
        to induce at least a suspicion of something that, for 
        several years now, has been my own answer to the Kaplans of 
        this earth.  All appearances asides, what Sarajevo most 
        feels like is home.--jh
    Thomas Swiss and Seb Chevrel, "The Narrative You 
    Anticipate You May Produce" 
        o Abstract: This piece is a collaborative experiment in New 
        Media Poetry combining text, images, and sound.  Following 
        the artist Christo's work ("wrapped" objects like Running 
        Fence, Wrapped Pont Neuf, etc.), the collaborators on this 
        piece developed one answer to the question: what might 
        "wrapped" language look like in a digital environment?  It 
        is "interactive," requiring the reader/viewer to locate 
        and click on bits of language (phrases, lines) as they 
        appear on the screen.  Before the piece begins, the order 
        of the pages is randomly shuffled.  The resulting order is
        represented by the serial number (in red) at the top of the 
        screen. The backgrounds and animations on each page are 
        randomly drawn. Finally, the reader's interaction with the 
        screen is what sets the words in their final 
        states.--ts and sc
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Last Modified: Monday, 05-Nov-2001 16:40:44 EDT