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 10, Number 1 (September, 1999)              ISSN: 1053-1920

Editors:                            Lisa Brawley
                                    James F. English

Editors Emeritus:                   Eyal Amiran
                                    Stuart Moulthrop
                                    John Unsworth

Review Editor:                      Paula Geyh

Managing Editor:                    Lisa Spiro

Research Assistants:                Janice Miller
                                    Kate Stephenson

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                                          
                         Editors' Notes
    Carol Loranger, "'This Book Spill Off the Page in All 
    Directions': What Is the Text of _Naked Lunch_?" 
    Krzysztof Ziarek, "Love and the Debasement of Being:
    Irigaray's Revisions of Lacan and Heidegger"
    Joe Amato, "Technical Ex-Communication: How a Former
    Professional Engineer Becomes a Former English Professor"
    Jim Finnegan, "Theoretical Tailspins: Reading 'Alternative'
    Performance in _Spin_ Magazine"
    Patrick McGee, "Terrible Beauties: Messianic Time and the
    Image of Social Redemption in James Cameron's _Titanic_"
                          Review Essay
    Marcel O'Gorman, "Friedrich Kittler's Media Scenes--An
    Instruction Manual." A review of Friedrich Kittler, _Literature,
    Media, Information Systems: Essays_. Amsterdam: G+B Arts,
    Claudia Sadowski-Smith, "Contesting Globalisms: The
    Transnationalization of U.S. Cultural Studies." A review of
    Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, _The Cultures of
    Globalization_. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1998, and Lisa Lowe and
    David Lloyd, _The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital_.
    Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1997. 
    Mark Sanders, "Postcolonial Reading." A review of Gayatri
    Chakravorty Spivak, _A Critique of Postcolonial Reason:
    Toward a History of the Vanishing Present_. Cambridge, MA:
    Harvard UP, 1999. 
    H. Kassia Fleisher, "Of Tea Parties, Poverty Tours, and
    Tammany Pow-wows; or, How Mr. Clinton Distanced Us All
    from Pine Ridge." A review of Philip J. Deloria, _Playing 
    Indian_. New Haven: Yale UP, 1998. 
    Michael Alexander Chaney, "An Academic Exorcism." A review
    of Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt, _Academic Keywords: A
    Devil's Dictionary_. New York and London: Routledge, 1999. 
    Donald F. Theall, "Memory, Orality, Literacy, Joyce, and the
    Imaginary: A Virtual History of Cyberculture." A review of
    Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, _Memory Trade: A
    Prehistory of Cyberculture_. North Ryde, NSW: A 21*C Book
    published by Interface, 1998. 
    David Banash, "The Blair Witch Project: Technology,
    Repression, and the Evisceration of Mimesis." A review of _The
    Blair Witch Project_. Dir. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez.
    Perf. Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C.
    Williams. Artisan Entertainment, 1999. 
                        Related Readings
                       [WWW Version Only]
                        Bibliography of
                      and Critical Theory
                       [WWW Version Only]
                       [WWW Version Only]
                      Notes on Contributors
    Joe Amato, "Technical Ex-Communication: How a Former
    Professional Engineer Becomes a Former English Professor" 
             o Abstract: This piece is an autobiographical 
    	   excursion detailing parallels between Fortune 500 
    	   America and the increasingly privatized 
    	   postsecondary institution. The author, an English 
    	   professor and a former practicing engineer, 
    	   narrates recent events on his campus---a growing 
    	   budget deficit, his own precarious position as an 
    	   instructor of technical writing---as these events 
    	   correspond to his industrial experience. Some time 
    	   is spent discussing a book, _The Idea of Ideas_, 
    	   authored by former Motorola CEO Robert Galvin, a 
    	   powerful Board member at the author's campus. This 
    	   book was distributed to faculty, unsolicited, 
    	   ostensibly to secure financial backing from Galvin, 
    	   and perhaps to encourage adoption of CEO-management 
    	   values and objectives. The upshot of the piece is 
    	   that privatization is intimately bound up with views 
    	   toward language--or, in the eyes and ears of the 
               corporation, communication.--ja 
    Jim Finnegan, "Theoretical Tailspins: Reading "Alternative"
    Performance in _Spin_ Magazine"
             o Abstract: "Theoretical Tailspins" maps the 
    	   boundaries of Andreas Huyssen's concept of the 
    	   post-avant-garde as the "hope" of postmodernism by 
    	   reading _Spin_ magazine's reporting and 
    	   dissemination of contemporary "alternative"/Gen X 
    	   youth culture scenes in a Cultural Studies context. 
    	   Working through Spin's coverage of Riot Grrrl 
    	   subcultures in the 1990s, I seek to put into practice 
    	   Michael Berube's claim that perhaps the single most 
    	   important and difficult challenge for contemporary 
    	   Cultural Studies practitioners is to think through 
    	   the problematics that arise when academics theorize 
    	   popular audiences and subcultures who may be 
    	   already theorizing themselves (_Public Access_ 151). 
    	   Reading across _Spin_'s layout, advertisements, 
    	   and articles in the early 1990s, my article takes 
    	   up the way _Spin_ more broadly theorizes and 
    	   historicizes itself as a masscult mouthpiece of, for, 
    	   by, about, and "from the perspective of" Generation 
    	   X. For many people with personal investments in 
    	   youth subculture scenes _Spin_ represents at best 
    	   a laughable example of counterfeit "alternative" 
    	   culture and at worst the very enemy of genuine 
    	   subcultural resistance, the thing that threatens to 
    	   rob a subculture scene of its essence of 
    	   oppositionality. While these are valid concerns, 
    	   a closer look at the constitutive role of mass 
    	   media in constructing subcultural identity leads me 
    	   to conclude that, sometimes by design and sometimes 
    	   in spite of itself, _Spin_ does manage to articulate, 
    	   in the vague name of Generation X, a popularized 
    	   form of Cultural Studies criticism. The _Spin_ model 
    	   offers a form that combines (sub)cultural opposition 
    	   and mainstream fun, and it's a form that proved 
    	   itself capable of keeping pace with the shifting 
    	   forces of cultural Reaganism and the New Right in 
    	   the late 80s and early 90s. The _Spin_ model might 
    	   therefore function as a counter-balance to the 
    	   infinite adaptability presumed to be the defining 
    	   characteristic of so-called "late capitalism": its 
    	   apparently endless capacity to appropriate 
    	   any-and-all forms of subcultural resistance, 
    	   oppositional meanings, or semiotic critique.--jf 
    Carol Loranger, "'This Book Spill Off the Page in All Directions':
    What Is the Text of Naked Lunch?"
             o Abstract: This essay seeks to initiate the 
    	   adaptation of some methods of textual scholarship 
    	   to postmodern studies by considering how 
    	   approaching a literary text as a sequence of 
    	   material events occurring over time affects 
    	   understanding of that text and its multiple contexts. 
    	   Because its purpose is to suggest, rather than limit, 
    	   possibilities, the essay is limited to a single 
    	   illustration--adapting the old-style practice of 
               publication history to what might be considered the
               grand-daddy of postmodern texts: William Burroughs's 
    	   _Naked Lunch_. After itemizing and comparing the 
    	   contents of versions of the novel published between 
    	   1959 (the suppressed _Big Table_ excerpts and 
    	   Olympia Press edition) and 1992 (Grove Weidenfeld 
    	   trade paperback and the last edition released before 
    	   Burroughs's death), each version of the text is 
    	   read in terms of the implications of the 
    	   rearrangement, addition and deletion of gross 
    	   textual elements on the public and critical 
    	   understanding of the novel--its aura, subject, 
    	   narrative, and place in contemporary letters. 
    	   Detailed tabulations of the contents of these 
    	   editions and of Burroughs's revisions and 
    	   reordering of the _Big Table_ version accompany 
    	   the history. Additionally, the mythology of the 
    	   creation of _Naked Lunch_ and the successive 
    	   historical events which led the text to 
               metastasize are treated as part of the 
    	   text-as-event. _Naked Lunch_ is then briefly 
    	   compared to other aleatory texts in terms of 
    	   their politics of authority and ownership as 
    	   expressed within and enacted by the material 
    	   texts. The comparison suggests--as Burroughs's 
    	   novel graphically illustrates--that, while 
    	   attention to surfaces and weakening of historicity 
    	   are elements of the aesthetic of postmodern 
    	   left-political utterance, inattention to these
    	   elements by postmodern theory effectively strips 
    	   the text of its force.--cl 
    Patrick McGee, "Terrible Beauties: Messianic Time and the Image of
    Social Redemption in James Cameron's _Titanic_"
             o Abstract: This essay employs Walter Benjamin's 
    	   theory of the dialectical image and Jacques 
    	   Lacan's refinement of the Freudian theory of 
    	   wish-fulfillment to analyze a popular work of mass 
    	   culture as a historical symptom. I argue that in 
               order to understand the social impact of James 
    	   Cameron's _Titanic_, it is necessary to look 
    	   beyond the dialogue and plot to the cinematic 
    	   images. The fate of the Titanic is well-known and 
    	   the story of forbidden love between a rich woman 
               and a poor man is a formula; but these conventions 
    	   are combined with negative images of the class 
    	   system that, on the one hand, lure the secret 
    	   desire of spectators for social transformation and, 
    	   on the other, affirm their fear that such 
    	   transformation may bring about unwarranted 
    	   destruction and death. The contemporary audience 
    	   is captured by the dialectical relation between 
    	   the image of the Titanic as it is today, an actual 
    	   wreck beneath the sea which Cameron photographs as 
    	   a piece of reality, and the image of what it was 
    	   and what it represented, a dream ship, a totalizing 
    	   commodity that answers the social demand for a 
    	   reality that works. The dream ship articulates the 
    	   class system as the fantasy of an order in which 
               everything and every person have their proper 
    	   place and value without contradiction or conflict--
    	   in other words, without the unsolicited intrusions 
    	   of desire. The movie shows, however, that such 
    	   unsolicited desires are the necessary by-product 
    	   of the fantasy that tries to contain them. This 
    	   collision between fantasy and desire is the dramatic 
               crux of the film that finds its image in the 
    	   apocalyptic destruction of the Titanic. The 
    	   pleasure spectators take fromn the movie suggests 
    	   that images of terrible events can support 
    	   socially affirmative desires for change.  These 
    	   images also play a critical role in the "action" 
    	   supergenre from which Cameron's _Titanic_ ultimately 
    Krzysztof Ziarek, "Love and the Debasement of Being: Irigaray's
    Revisions of Lacan and Heidegger"
             o Abstract: Recalling his own formulas of sexuation 
    	   and his understanding of desire, Lacan points in 
    	   _Encore_ toward a possibility, even a need, of 
    	   rethinking love in connection with a certain 
    	   jouissance and in terms of the revised notion of 
    	   being as para-being. _Encore_ opens a path to 
    	   thinking the ethics of love outside of the 
    	   mirroring enclosures of narcissism and the 
    	   effects of sameness associated with the idea of 
    	   the One. This reformulation of ethics pivots on 
    	   the distinction between two senses of possibility: 
    	   on the one hand, possibility conceived as deferred 
    	   presence or enacted as repeated lack; on the other, 
    	   possibility taken as a temporal project of the 
    	   relation to the other, which never becomes a 
    	   matter of a substantive, an object, or a 
    	   signified, and cannot be conceived as lack. 
    	   Irigaray's _An Ethics of Sexual Difference_, 
               seen as a response to _Encore_, explores the 
    	   collapse of these two possibilities in terms of 
    	   the turn from wonder to the logic of lack, lack 
    	   which desire keeps repeating and knowledge tries 
    	   to supplement. To underscore the difference 
    	   between desire and wonder, Irigaray reformulates 
    	   the very notion of relation to the other into a 
    	   new, non-appropriative mode of relationality which 
    	   is not encompassed by desire, narcissistic or 
    	   fusional love, or the labor of the negative. 
    	   Considering Irigaray in the context of Heidegger's 
    	   thought, I reformulate her redefinition of the 
    	   relationality of love in terms of a rethinking of 
               Dasein into an ethical, non-appropriative event of 
    	   being-two. Heidegger's understanding of logos as 
    	   a saying prior to signification makes it possible 
    	   to envision a notion of relationality alternative 
    	   to both the Hegelian logic of desire and the 
    	   Kantian positing of das Ding. The futural 
               relationality in terms of which Dasein 
    	   understands itself as being-in-the-world breaks 
    	   free of the dialectical labor of the negative, at 
    	   the same time that it does not entail positing the 
    	   real as unchangeable or inaccessible. Such a 
               futural-transformative modality of relatedness 
    	   allows Irigaray to articulate the being-two of 
    	   love as a relation in which difference marks 
    	   itself neither in terms of negation nor separation 
    	   but as the transformative interval, as the 
    	   proximity that keeps reformulating the very 
    	   parameters of relation and obligation to the 
Copyright (c) 1999 Postmodern Culture & Johns Hopkins University

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Last Modified: 04-Jun-1999 14:20:44 EDT