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 16, Number 3 (May, 2006)              ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Eyal Amiran

Review Editor:                      Ellen McCallum

Advisory Board: 		    Lisa Brawley
				    James F. English                                    
				    Paula Geyh
                                    Stuart Moulthrop
                                    John Unsworth

Managing Editor:                    Claire Chantell

Research Assistants:                Sean Borton
				    Michelle Cho

Editorial Board:                                           

     James Berger                   Patrick O'Donnell
     Heesok Chang                   Bob Perelman
     Wendy Hui Kyong Chun	    Marjorie Perloff
     Ashley Dawson                  Peggy Phelan
     Johanna Drucker                Arkady Plotnitsky
     Graham Hammill		    Alessia Ricciardi
     Terry Harpold                  Tilottoma Rajan
     David Herman                   Judith Roof
     Matthew Kirschenbaum           Susan Schultz
     Neil Larsen                    Steven Shaviro
     Akira Lippitt                  Rei Terada
     Adrian Miles		    Darren Tofts
     James Morrison		    Paul Trembath                   
     Sianne Ngai		    Jeffrey Williams                                          
    Editor's Note: Postmodern Culture remembers Fred Pfeil 
    Michael Snediker, Queer Optimism
    Cary Wolfe, Lose the Building: Systems Theory, 
    Architecture, and Diller+Scofidio's Blur
    Ulrik Ekman, The Speed of Beauty: An Interview with 
    Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
    Carsten Strathausen, A Critique of Neo-Left 
    Laura Shackelford, Counter-Networks in a Network 
    Society: Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead
    Justus Nieland, Mystics of a Materialist Age. A review of 
    Marcus Boon, The Road of Excess: A History of Writers 
    on Drugs. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002.
    Manisha Basu, The Hamartia of Light and Shadow: 
    Susan Sontag in the Digital Age. A review of Susan Sontag, 
    Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador, 2003.
    John Garrison, The Politics of Ontology. A review of 
    Judith Butler, Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 2004.
                      Notices (HTML Version Only)
                      Notes on Contributors
    Ulrik Ekman, The Speed of Beauty: An Interview with 
    Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
    * Professor Gumbrecht was interviewed after his visit in 
    November 2005 to the Department for Cultural Studies and the 
    Arts, Copenhagen University, Denmark, arranged by the Research 
    Forum for Intermedial Digital Aesthetics directed by Ulrik 
    Ekman. On that occasion, Gumbrecht gave a seminar titled 
    "Benjamin in the Digital Age," which focused on his editorial 
    work with Professor Michael Marrinan (Stanford) on the essay 
    anthology, Mapping Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Digital 
    Age. The interview originated in conversations during 
    Gumbrecht's visit and continued to develop further ideas 
    raised in the seminar. The interview took place mainly by 
    email during the first three months following Gumbrecht's 
    Denmark seminar. 
    Laura Shackelford, Counter-Networks in a Network Society: 
    Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead
        * Abstract: This essay calls into question the opposition 
    between global capitalist economic, cultural, and social 
    networks and modernity's industrial capitalist social spaces, 
    an opposition between the "space of flows" and the "space of 
    places," as it is developed in Manuel Castells's thoroughgoing 
    analysis of the information economy. Putting Castells's 
    insights to cross-purposes, the essay foregrounds troubling 
    continuities and collaboration between these divergent social 
    spaces. The essay reads Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac 
    of the Dead for its critical reflection on global capitalist 
    networks and examines its spatio-temporal mapping of the 
    Americas, which implicates these purportedly novel, 
    deterritorialized spatial networks in a five hundred year 
    system of colonial and imperial expansion. The novel's spatio-
    temporal mapping of the Americas rethinks the socio-spatial 
    logics informing global capitalist networks in light of these 
    continuities, identifying a resistant potential within them. 
    Its counternetworks take advantage of global capitalism's 
    dismantling of the three worlds system, developing a 
    transnational, subaltern model of resistance that refuses 
    both a nationalist, essentialist conception of identity 
    grounded in place and a liberal multicultural identity 
    politics encouraged by global capitalism's "space of 
    flows." --ls 
    Michael Snediker, Queer Optimism
        * Abstract: "Queer Optimism" argues that queer theory's 
    attachment to a vocabulary of melancholy, self-shattering, 
    shame, and the death drive precludes a potentially more 
    rigorous and generative understanding of queery theory and 
    of optimism. Through critiques of Butler, Bersani, Sedgwick 
    and Edelman, "Queer Optimism" notes exemplary moments of 
    "queer pessimism," and insists upon a non-Leibnizian 
    optimistic field temporally located beyond the futural, and 
    solicitous of (rather than allergic to) meticulous, vigorous 
    Carsten Strathausen, A Critique of Neo-Left Ontology
        * Abstract: This essay investigates why "ontology" has 
    become an increasingly important topic for a number of 
    contemporary political philosophers. It is divided into two 
    parts, the first of which contrasts what it calls "neo-left" 
    thinkers with more traditionally minded Marxists (such as 
    Theodor Adorno and Fredric Jameson), focusing in particular 
    on their different understanding of the meaning of "ontology." 
    The second part provides a comparative commentary on Ernesto 
    Laclau, Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri and Michael 
    Hardt, as well on Giorgio Agamben, in order to analyze their 
    use of and reference to "ontology" as a crucial concept for 
    much leftist political discourse today. Here the focus lies 
    on three interrelated categories: "space," "political acts," 
    and "subject(ivity)." The ontological neo-left faces two 
    basic options: either to adopt a discursive ontology 
    structured around the void (Derrida, Laclau, Mouffe, Badiou, 
    Zizek) or a biopolitical ontology that embraces the 
    productivity of life (Foucault, Deleuze, Agamben, Hardt and 
    Negri). --cs 
    Cary Wolfe, Lose the Building: Systems Theory, Architecture, 
    and Diller+Scofidio's Blur
        * Abstract: In October of 2002, the Blur building of the 
    architectural team Diller+Scofidio opened in Switzerland to 
    nearly universal acclaim. The "building"--a cloud manufactured 
    by a nozzle-laced tensegrity structure hovering over Lake 
    Neuchatel--audaciously rethinks architecture as "the making of 
    nothing" (to use the architects' words). This 
    dematerialization of the architectural medium raises all sorts 
    of interesting questions about the concept and function of 
    form in architecture (and in art more generally)--questions 
    that Diller+Scofidio mobilize in relation to the dynamics of 
    spectacle in mass media society. This essay uses the work of 
    systems theorist Niklas Luhmann to understand the central 
    paradox of the Blur project: that the "weakness" of its formal 
    intervention as an object is precisely its strength when form 
    is understood in more abstract terms. This relentless but 
    necessary abstraction of the concept of form in art helps us 
    gain some distance on the more or less conventionally 
    "romantic" associations that the project invites--associations 
    that Diller+Scofidio rightly insist have no place in 
    understanding the project's conceptual underpinnings. And it 
    also helps us grasp how the project deploys and redirects 
    certain modes of visuality that are taken for granted by mass 
    media society and its apotheosis in the society of 
    spectacle--modes that the project itself "blurs," and not 
    without ethical and political implications. --cw  
Copyright (c) 2004 Postmodern Culture & Johns Hopkins 
University Press

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