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 9, Number 3 (May, 1999)              ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Lisa Brawley
                                    Stuart Moulthrop

Editors Emeritus:                   Eyal Amiran
                                    John Unsworth

Review Editor:                      Paula Geyh

Managing Editor:                    Anne Sussman

Research Assistants:                Ginny Hudson
                                    Lisa Spiro
                                    Kate Stephenson

Editorial Board:                                           

     Michael Berube                 Phil Novak
     Nahum Chandler                 Chimalum Nwankwo
     J. Yellowlees Douglas          Patrick O'Donnell
     Jim English                    Elaine Orr
     Diane Gromala                  Marjorie Perloff
     Graham Hammill                 Fred Pfeil
     Phillip Brian Harper           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
    Loren Glass, "Publicizing the President's Privates"
    Anthony Burke, "Violence and Reason on the Shoals of 
    Heather Hicks, "Automating Feminism: The Case of Joanna 
    Russ's _The Female Man_"
    Jed Rasula, "Textual Indigence in the Archive"
    James McCorkle, "Prophecy and the Figure of the Reader 
    in Susan Howe's _Articulation of Sound Forms in Time_"
    Brian Morris, "If You Build It, They Will Come."  A 
    review of John Hannigan, _Fantasy City: Pleasure and 
    Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis_.  London: Routledge, 
    Graham J. Murphy, "Pernicious Couplings and Living in 
    the Splice."  A review of N. Katherine Hayles, _How We 
    Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, 
    Literature and Informatics_.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 
    Mahmut Mutman, "Writing the Body: Problematizing 
    Cultural Studies, Postmodernism and Feminism's 
    Relevance."  A review of Vicki Kirby, _Telling Flesh: 
    The Substance of the Corporeal_.  New York & London: 
    Routledge, 1997.
    Stephen Nardi, "Watching Los Angeles Burn."  A review of 
    Mike Davis, _Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the 
    Imagination of Disaster_.  New York: Metropolitan Books - 
    Henry Holt & Company, 1998.
    Julian Levinson, "Derac(e)inated Jews."  A review of 
    Karen Brodkin, _How Jews Became White Folks & What That 
    Says About Race in America_.  New Brunswick: Rutgers 
    UP, 1998.
    Richard Quinn, "Poetry at the Millennium: 'Open on its 
    Forward Side.'" A review of Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre 
    Joris, eds., _Poems for the Millennium: The University 
    of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry 
    (Volume Two: From Postwar to Millenium)_.  Berkeley: U 
    of California P, 1998.
                         Related Readings
                        [WWW Version Only]
                          Bibliography of
                        and Critical Theory
                        [WWW Version Only]
                        [WWW Version Only]      
                      Notes on Contributors
    Anthony Burke, "Violence and Reason on the Shoals of 
        o Abstract: Through a critical reading of some of the 
          most influential historiography of the Vietnam war, 
          including Coppola's film _Apocalyse Now_ and Robert 
          McNamara's memoir _In Retrospect, this essay 
          analyses the way in which "Vietnam" constitutes one 
          of the late twentieth century's most revealing 
          cultural tableaux: both a political, strategic, and 
          mythological crisis for the United States, and a 
          stage for some of the most profound ontological 
          anxieties of western modernity.  In particular, the 
          essay takes up the theme of politics and violence 
          through the way reason--as a complex formation of 
          geopolitical power, a seductive locus of identity, 
          and a movement of historical progress--has been 
          problematised within these texts.  I argue that 
          these texts attempt to reconcile two antithetical 
          impulses: the first opens up a vast aporia within 
          modernity's claims to reason and culmination, an 
          event Lyotard characterised as an "abyss" within 
          enlightenment thought, and to which Habermas's 
          work is also addressed; the second, more sinister, 
          seeks recuperation.  Here no such aporia is 
          acknowledged, and reason becomes an apologia for 
          the violence of the war and the discursive 
          architecture which drove its execution.  The 
          violence of the Cartesian paradigm is retained, 
          and reason's function as a promise of historical 
          perfection is revived through a vast act of 
          forgetting in the writing of Francis Fukuyama.  
          The essay concludes that the invention of formal 
          models of non-coercive reason are of less use 
          than a relentless suspicion of the concrete 
          historical effects of such metaphysical claims 
          to liberation.--ab
    Loren Glass, "Publicizing the President's Privates"
        o Abstract: In this paper I argue that the obsessive 
          attention to Bill Clinton's penis in the recent 
          White House sex scandal indicates a crisis in the 
          patriarchal structure of public authority that 
          depends upon concealing the anatomical penis behind 
          the symbolic phallus.  I trace the coordinates of 
          this crisis, and its attendant risks and 
          opportunities, across three public spaces of 
          discourse and debate.  First, I analyze the Starr 
          Report itself as mobilizing the contradictory 
          appeals of what I am calling the pornographic public 
          sphere, in which explicit discussion and 
          representation of sexuality has come to articulate 
          political allegiances and antagonisms.  Second, I 
          look at Internet discussions of the crisis that 
          indicate the close relationship between new 
          technologies of communication and new protocols of 
          public discourse.  Finally, I conclude with a 
          consideration of Bill and Hillary's opaque 
          "professional" marriage as indicating an ambiguous 
          model of domesticity that seems to be displacing 
          more conventional patriarchal models of the family.  
          My argument throughout is that the Clinton sex 
          scandals have shown that the ideology of patriarchy 
          is becoming increasingly unable to regulate the 
          boundary between private life and public 
          representation in the United States.--lg
    Heather J. Hicks, "Automating Feminism: The Case of 
    Joanna Russ's _The Female Man_"
        o Abstract: By the end of the 1960s, visions of a 
          "post-scarcity" economy in which automated 
          technologies would supplant human workers became 
          increasingly central to platforms of New Left 
          organizations such as the Students for a Democratic 
          Society.  Yet it was during the very years in which 
          this interest in cybernation became widespread in 
          leftist circles that the American liberal feminist 
          movement gained real momentum by advancing women's 
          right to work.  Joanna Russ's landmark feminist 
          novel, _The Female Man (1975), can be read as a 
          social artifact of this conflicted  moment in the 
          history of American women and technology.  Her novel 
          depicts the ways in which automated technology, with 
          its promise of abundance and leisure, dramatically 
          complicated the meanings of the term "work" at the 
          very moment in which women were attempting to lay 
          claim to it.  
          Understanding Russ's novel as an exploration of the 
          social meanings of women's work requires that we 
          regard it not only as a "postmodern" novel, but as a
          postindustrial one.  In these terms, by illuminating 
          the dilemma automation posed to women's efforts to 
          associate themselves with the traditionally 
          empowering concept of work, _The Female Man_ 
          historicizes and complicates Donna Haraway's 
          celebration of the "cyborg" as a progressive icon 
          for contemporary female workers.--hjh
    James McCorkle, "Prophecy and the Figure of the Reader 
    in Susan Howe's _Articulation of Sound Forms in Time_"
        o Abstract: Susan Howe's _Articulation of Sound Forms 
          in Time_ is considered in light of Heidegger's 
          condition of an "openness to mystery" or as Gerald 
          Burns explains, "the region of the question" and its 
          uncontainability within finite interpretations." The 
          importance of Howe's work lies in its testing of the 
          conditions of mastery and control--issues that are 
          among those Howe explores and incorporates from her 
          readings of Emily Dickinson.  Interpretations, such 
          as those of Perloff and Reinfeld, begin with the 
          re-assembling of a narrative from the fragments that 
          Howe offers.  Such a critical direction suggests the 
          act of interpretation must be, or can only be, a 
          normative, disciplining method.  Such a process must 
          be resisted: the retrieval of histories, texts, and 
          identities does not imply a necessary containment or 
          totalizing of memory.  Memory, instead, allows for 
          imaginative inquiry, which is redoubled in Howe's 
          poem, with the possibility of prophecy: the Falls 
          Fight of 1676 that Howe uses as her foundational 
          source becomes a mirror for ourselves.  Hope 
          Atherton prefigures the conditions and failures of 
          community, as well as a genealogy of policing.  As 
          prophecy, Howe's poem invites us to participate in 
          the signifying process; each word of the poem 
          becomes a site for meditation and a reflection on 
          the history of what was and what is still becoming.
    Jed Rasula, "Textual Indigence in the Archive"
        o Abstract: Currently the Internet animates dreams of 
          instantaneous telepresence and rapid data transfer, 
          but the "dromocratic" revolution also makes rapid 
          conceptual transit compulsory (Virilio).  The modern 
          enthrallment with speed is a nascent stipulation of 
          communication  technologies that are modeled on, and 
          answerable to, the cross-referencing mobility 
          pioneered in the Enlightenment encyclopedia.  The 
          efficiency of the archival web of encyclopedism 
          readily leads to a complacent mirage of power and 
          control.  In order to examine this mirage, I discuss 
          two "encyclopedic" novels--_Moby-Dick_ and _The Magic 
          Mountain_--which disclose, below the utopian fantasy 
          of unambiguous signals and noise-free channels, a 
          salutary posture of indigence.  The peril attendant 
          on digitized telepresence is that the uniform coding 
          of data obliterates tactile agency.  But a phantom 
          materiality lingers on, traceable by way of the 
          cross-referencing and multiple-coding options of the 
          Encyclopedia.  The challenge of a plenitude of 
          cross-referencing is one of surfeit: the enhancement 
          of cognitive speed, confronting the increased 
          magnitude of material to which its rapid conceptual 
          transit makes access, reinstates idealism as a 
          vindictive triumph over matter.  The novels I 
          examine by Melville and Mann confront mountains of 
          data, but resist the enticements to mobility of 
          encyclopedic culture, casting their lots instead 
          with an indigent reserve, rehearsing narrative 
          tactics of delay, meander, filibuster.  Maximizing 
          the tension between documentation and storytelling, 
          they demonstrate the epistemological lesson that a 
          surface rationalism conceals an atavistic endowment 
          that is at once a "pre-rational" or mythic threat 
          as well as a repository of creative energy--the very 
          energy required in order to compose the work: 
          nothing less than a microbial sentience that makes 
          us what we are without our ever having to know 
          anything about it, the charmed circle of life 
          itself in which the pleasures of circulating exceed 
          the compass of human knowledge.--jr
Copyright (c) 1999 Postmodern Culture & Johns Hopkins University

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