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Showing papers in "The Comparatist in 2014"



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things and some of Toni Morrison's novels, particularly The Bluest Eye and Beloved, were examined in this paper.
Abstract: In the last fifty years or so, we have seen the emergence of new discursive formations, among them, certain "new" literatures, some even finding homes in new programs like African American Studies, Women's Studies, and others. During the same time, we have also seen the emergence of theory, literary theory, as continuous but also discontinuous to literary criticism. Among these new discursive formations is postcolonial literature and postcolonial theory, which are, however, fortunately or unfortunately, unhoused in any particular department or program. It is at least partially in response to this last that there has, more recently, been a (mainly) Western articulation of "world literature" which can be seen as the cultural, and more specifically, literary or artistic organ of Western (economic and political) globalization. The emergence of world literature, spurred by the publication of Pascale Casanova's World Republic of Letters, has produced an interesting discussion, sympathetic or otherwise. These discussions have offered alternative methods for reading literature, or perhaps developed and foregrounded methods that were previously not as prominent, alternative, for example, to close reading or close textual analysis, a method well established in literary study and perhaps to some extent even fetishized. These methods for the study of world literature include a careful consideration of publication sites, distribution networks, circulation rates. They pay attention to the intricacies of translation, already problematized in postcolonial studies. And quite predictably, they direct our attention to the matter of "influence," often in the vocabulary of derivation and appropriation, in a context of invariably asymmetrical power relations. As useful and interesting as the category of world literature has been, as a sort of cultural superstructure to the base of globalization, some critics, like Mohanty for example who speaks of the globalization of feminist studies, find the exploration and discussion of globalization to be peculiarly ungendered and deracialized-peculiar particularly given the fairly recent history of colonialism and slavery. (1) What I find attractive in these articulations of a world literature, however, is the possibility of a metrics for literary study, with its computations of sites, networks, rates, and so on in a "world system" of cultures. In the interest of such a computational syntax, I will offer an algorithm of sorts, marking the spatio-temporal coordinates for a reading of world literature but without removing it from the historical realities of race, gender, and other markers of differential power relations. My reading is also a close reading, a close textual analysis that reinstates the literariness of literature as one of its important qualities. I focus on Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things and some of Toni Morrison's novels, particularly The Bluest Eye and Beloved. To demonstrate that there is a conceptual cohesion in the framework I am using, that of the vertical-lateral/ historical-geographical coordinates embedded in literary texts produced by these Indian writers, I will be citing other Indian writers like Hari Kunzru, Aravind Adiga, and Salman Rushdie, all recent recipients of prestigious literary recognition. These writers also cite other English, American, and Indian writers. Such citational practices, after all, constitute a tradition, in this case, an emergent tradition of world literature, even if these practices are not necessarily motivated by authorial intention or by what Harold Bloom articulates as an "anxiety of influence" or a "map of misreading." The postcolonial text executes a double articulation or a dual spatio-temporality, a vertical and temporal articulation on one hand and a horizontal and spatial articulation on the other. The former maps the text's relation with the past, the Indian, the British, and African American past, although here the primary coordinates are the history of British colonialism in India and specially the literary representations of it, as in Forster and Orwell. …

11 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For instance, this article argued that the role of the writer as a literary and cultural agent in the process of translating an African text to the target audience is not to be overlooked.
Abstract: The metaphor of translation as a "carrying across" of meaning between texts and cultures has often been used to explore the ways in which the West's "cultural others" present themselves to a dominant Western, receiving, "target" culture through the hegemonic languages of empire, ostensibly for hegemonic Western audiences. This is of course the pattern described by the philosophy of translatio studii et imperii, the putative geographic movement westward of both learning and empire. Likewise, in discussing the work of francophone African writers, critics have often assumed a similar translational model of writing that is uni-directional, a carrying-across that moves only from the (post)colony to the West, from South to North. As Anuradha Dingwaney puts it, "translation is ... the vehicle though which 'Third World' cultures (are made to) travel--transported or 'borne across' to and recuperated by audiences in the West" (4). In its inattention to reciprocal cultural exchange, however, this model effectively forecloses on the role of the writer as literary and cultural agent because it relies on the notion of translation as an "ancillary" activity where the writer-as (derivative)-translator works in the "service" of one or another cultural "master." Moradewum Adejunmobi asserts that this type of thinking is even shared by some African writers who may "continue to present their European-language texts as derivative ... because a widespread conception prevails among African writers and critics of African literature according to which only versions in indigenous African languages can be truly African" (168). Indeed, Adejunmobi's essay, "Translation and Postcolonial Identity: African Writing and European Languages" perspicaciously explores the "persistent nostalgia for 'origins,' 'original languages,' and ... 'original identities' in issues surrounding translation and contemporary African literature" (163). It is this type of originary thinking that often leads (Western) readers of francophone African literature to assume that because the work was written in French, the intended audience is therefore located in the metropole and beyond, to the exclusion of local readers. For example, in his introduction to Sartre's "What is Literature and Other Essays," Steven Ungar claims that Sartre's Orphee noir, the preface to L.S. Senghor's Anthologie de la poesie negre et malgache, "allows Sartre to mediate on behalf of Senghor and the poets in order to address the white European readers for whom the anthology is intended" (12, emphasis added). Similarly, Madeleine Borgomano assumes that, because francophone African women write in French, their texts are addressed to "l'autre, l'homme blanc, l'etranger" "the other, the White man, the foreigner" (Voix 32). This type of thinking about francophone African literature as a literature which is unidirectional tends to deny the "flux" of translational exchange. It is reminiscent of what Talal Asad first identified as the violence of ethnographic authority in cultural translation and the determination of cultural meaning in a Western context. In his seminal 1986 essay, "The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology," Asad shows that the authority of the ethnographer "is inscribed in the institutionalized forces of industrial capitalist society ... which are constantly tending to push the meanings of various Third World societies in a single direction" (163). However, as Douglas Robinson observes, while the translatio is in constant geographical drift, its movement is not necessarily westward: "translation itself must repeatedly be retranslated ..., which has the effect of grounding it not in stability but in flux" (55). Just as the field of Translation Studies has moved beyond examining "the translations themselves" (although this certainly continues to be an essential component of Translation Studies) toward a "cultural turn" that emphasizes the centrality of translation in cultural history, so the "postcolonial turn" in Translation Studies has turned toward an examination of the many facets of linguistic and cultural translation in colonial and postcolonial contexts. …

9 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors re-visit Cervantes' views of Islam and Muslims and explore the not yet duly studied possible Arabic influence on Don Quixote, by comparing, for the first time in Cervantine scholarship, the Moorish tale (i.e., "The Captive's Tale") to the Frankish tale known alternatively as "Princess Miriam the Girdle-girl, daughter of the King of France" and "The Love Tale of Ali Nur al-Din the Cairene and Princess Mariam, Daughter of the
Abstract: In Don Quixote: A Touchstone for Literary Criticism (2005), distinguished Cervantine scholar James A. Parr does not seem to go too far when he hails Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (1605-1615)--hereafter Don Quixote--as the perfect model of a "pivotal text" that is "prescient in its formulation of the strategies of the self-conscious, self-questioning, and other experimental and historical texts of our time" (6). Indeed, in addition to its superlative literary merit and fictional uniqueness, Don Quixote is historically and culturally rich. This is very much true, for example, of the text's distinctively complex dramatization of the early modern encounter between Europe and Islam. This encounter, of course historically speaking, was primarily embodied in the conflict between Habsburg Spain and the Ottoman Empire, then Europe's and the Islamic world's two leading powers. (2) Although the Spanish-Ottoman rivalry was performed in different territorial and, mainly, maritime battlegrounds--the Battle of Lepanto (1571) looms large in this regard--the textual ones were not less significant and Don Quixote is a compelling textual illustration. (3) In growing numbers, scholars are arguing that the "contact zone," between Europe and Islam is textually and contextually very detectable throughout the works of Cervantes. (4) "Islam," to quote Frederick Quinn's The Sum of All Heresies: The Image of Islam in Western Thought (2008), "was a topic not only in French and English political, religious, and cultural writings but also was the focus of a major seventeenth-century Spanish writer, Miguel de Cervantes" (83). While a fair amount of ink has been spilled on the Islamic theme, and that of Algiers in particular, in works such as Los Bagnos de Argel (The Bagnios of Algiers), Los Tratos de Alger (The Traffic of Algiers), El Galardo Espanol (The Gallant Spaniard) and La Gran Sultana (The Grand Sultana), there still exits a lacuna when it comes to exploring Cervantes' complex representation of Islam and his attitude towards the Arabo-Islamic cultural heritage in his magnum opus. Through addressing what I see as Cervantes' reference to the medieval propaganda myth of "the idol Mahomet," his literary transfiguration of the early modern subversive phenomenon of the conversion to Islam, and his ambiguous feelings towards the Arabian historian Cide Hamete Benengeli, I will re-visit Cervantes' views of Islam and Muslims. I will, further, explore--again, what I see as--the not yet duly studied possible Arabic influence on Don Quixote. I will do so by comparing, for the first time in Cervantine scholarship, the Moorish tale (i.e., "The Captive's Tale") to the Arabian Alf Layla wa- Layla's Frankish tale known alternatively as "Princess Miriam the Girdle-girl, Daughter of the King of France" and "The Love Tale of Ali Nur al-Din the Cairene and Princess Mariam, Daughter of the King of France." I will finally, albeit briefly, draw attention to the Arabic maqama genre whose features and motifs bear some striking similarities to some of the salient narratological and structural aspects of Don Quixote. The hope is to stir further interest and future research on the possible (in)direct influence of the Arabic maqama genre on Don Quixote. (5) It is "universally acknowledged" that Don Quixote is introduced at the beginning of the narrative as an obsessive reader of romances of chivalry and a zealous admirer of Christian knights. "In short," we are told, "our gentleman became so caught up in reading that he spent his nights from dusk till dawn and his days reading from sunrise to sunset" (21). In his seemingly never-ending disputes with his entourage, specifically the learned curate of the parish and the connoisseur Master Nicholas, barber of La Mancha, he prides himself on fervently defending the valor of his favorite knights Amadis de Gaula, El Cid Ruy Diaz, Bernardo del Carpio, (6) giant Morgante, and Reinaldos de Montalban. …

8 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Time and Narrative as discussed by the authors is a seminal work in the study of the relation between time and narrative, and it has been used extensively in the literature, including by Ricoeur's own work.
Abstract: This paper tackles two problems. The first is the impossibility of a direct application of the ideas in Paul Ricoeur's book Time and Narrative (hereafter referred to as TN or cited by volume and page number) to literary studies. Ricoeur's work cannot be used for literary purposes without rethinking it. However, I limit myself in pointing out the necessity of this task without undertaking it. (1) The second problem--which is central for this paper--focuses on some peculiarities of the narrative of TN. My main point is that, by means of attenuating its narrative end, making its narrative beginning ambiguous, and expanding its narrative middle, TN resists the systematic tendencies of the hermeneutic type of philosophizing and thus, in a postmodern era, evades the pitfalls of a constituting consciousness which masters all meaning. In formulating this problem, I take over and try to elaborate in a narratological direction Ricoeur's rethinking of Hegel's Reason in History. Ricoeur's critique of Hegel, as we will see, sets the possibility for such a development ajar without, however, exploring it. What intertwines the two problems of the essay is the fact that they both arise from a literary reading of a philosophical work that, among many other things, deals with literary issues. TIME AND NARRATIVE AND LITERARY SCHOLARSHIP The first question that a literary scholar faces while reading TN is the asymmetrical meaning of the seemingly symmetrical title of the book. The conjunction "and" in Time and Narrative (in the original, Temps et recit) does not entwine together two equal notions such as "time" (temps) and "narrative" (recit) but rather suggests the direction from which Ricoeur enters his project. In this methodological sense, "and" (et) stands for a logical connector that means "therefore": "time, therefore narrative." In order to explain this formula it is necessary to clarify the two major sets of notions in the book and their relation. The first conceptual field in TN tackles the issue of the threefold mimesis, whereas the second deals with the relation between time and narrative. 1. 1. The threefold mimesis--[mimesis.sub.1], [mimesis.sub.2], and [mimesis.sub.3]--is a universalization of Aristotle's mimesis in the Poetics. It is a notion that is applicable not solely to tragic plots, as in Aristotle, but to the whole narrative province and especially to its two major branches comprising the primary interest of Ricoeur: fictional narrative and historical narrative. Two basic notions are equivalent in terms of action in Aristotle--mimesis or "representation of action" and muthos or "organization of the events" (1: 37). Muthos and mimesis are operations, not structures, and bear the mark of production and dynamism. In production of plots activity is primal with regard to any static structures (1: 33). Aristotle's poetics is the art of composing plots. The operative and dynamic character of Aristotle's mimesis is the springboard for Ricoeur's reading of the Poetics, and it opens the possibility of elaborating on the threefold mimesis as a phenomenological version of what the Poetics contains as a seed. What is the driving force of this elaboration? Explicitly, the Poetics is a work only about the art of composition. Implicitly it also refers to what precedes and what follows the act of emplotment. The former is the realm of practical action as opposed to theoretical rationalization. The latter is the field where the world of the work and the world of the receiver overlap and start interacting. The threefold mimesis consists, first, of [mimesis.sub.1] or prefiguration; this is the world of action. Following Heidegger, Ricoeur's main idea is that living practice precedes narratives: "the story 'happens to' someone before anyone tells it" (1: 75). Ricoeur writes about an "existential analysis of human beings as 'entangled in stories'" (1: 75) and invents a set of synonyms such as "a prenarrative quality of experience," "(as yet) untold stories," "a potential story," and "an untold story" (1: 74). …

5 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Coetzee's The Master of Petersburg (1994) as discussed by the authors is a novel that explores the idea of "going beyond" an already given perspective in order to generate new meanings and new understandings of the "true".
Abstract: This paper will develop a reading of J. M. Coetzee's novel The Master of Petersburg (1994) alongside ideas that Coetzee develops in Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship, which was published in 1996 by the University of Chicago Press the year he began teaching as a visiting Professor at the Committee of Social Thought at Chicago. That elements of these two books might be related can be inferred from the overlap involved in the writing process of each (the first essay in Giving Offense appeared in print in 1988 and Coetzee worked on essays related to the book from then until 1996). The Master of Petersburg appeared after Age of Iron (1990) and was followed by Disgrace in 1999. It might be paired with Foe, which appeared in 1986, as a novel that explicitly engages with the work of another novelist: Daniel Defoe in Foe and Dostoevsky in The Master of Petersburg. This essay will consider how an understanding of excess that involves thinking outside of or beyond reason can be witnessed in both of these books. Excess will further be linked to related ideas of "offense" and "refraction" or "perversion": each of these terms involves elements of "going beyond" an already given perspective in order to generate new meanings and new understandings of the "true." These processes are revealed through a comparison of themes developed by Dostoevsky in "At Tikhon's"--a chapter that was censored from the original published version of his novel Demons (see Dostoevsky, Demons 749-87), because it was considered perverse, offensive and excessive--and The Master of Petersburg, which enters into dialogue with it. As has been underlined by earlier critics and reviewers, The Master of Petersburg involves a pairing of Coetzee's work with Dostoevsky's novel Demons (which was published in earlier translations as The Possessed, The Devils), and the historical events related to the perversely violent Russian revolutionary Sergei Nechaev and the murder of his student follower Ivanov in 1869 (see Adelman, Attridge, Kossew, Lawlan, Popescu, Scanlan). In order to first get our bearings, it is necessary to establish the terms of relation between Dostoevsky's novel and Coetzee's novel, and the conceptual ideas, outlined in Giving Offense, that offer insight into the kind of thinking in excess of rational thought that Coetzee achieves in The Master of Petersburg. The main outlines of this relationship have now been well summarized by J. C. Kannemeyer in his recent biography of Coetzee, who sets out most of the differences that I will recite again below. Kannemeyer also details the controversies that surrounded the reception of Coetzee's novel, as critics including Dostoevsky's biographer Joseph Frank lined up to heavily criticize what they perceived as his distortion of the facts, which are considered arbitrary falsifications (Skow, Frank), while others, including the distinguished critic James Wood, seemed to take offense at the manner in which the novel deals with Dostoevsky and his legacy, by unfavorably comparing Coetzee with Dostoevsky. One critic, Zinovy Zinik, even goes so far as to denounce the work as "an act of literary terrorism" (for an overview see Kannemeyer 461). Elements of Coetzee's novel enter into dialogue with Dostoevsky's Demons that also refers to historical events that concern Sergei Nechaev and his circle. Other elements, however, clearly diverge from both Dostoevsky's novel and actual events. Coetzee's story imagines Dostoevsky in 1869 returning in secret from financial exile in Dresden, where he was living with his young wife Anaya Snitkina, in order to bury his only son Pavel (who was in fact a stepson, adopted by Dostoevsky when he married his first wife Marya Isayeva in 1857). In Coetzee's novel Pavel has been living under the name of his biological father Isaev, and Dostoevsky at first travels using Isaev's papers to hide from his creditors who might have him detained should they become aware of his presence in the city. …

4 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Castel-Bloom's well-known novel Dolly City, first published in 1993, is a story of an abusive mother named Dolly as discussed by the authors who worries that her adopted son might be suffering from various medical conditions ranging from cancer to missing an internal organ.
Abstract: Orly Castel-Bloom's well-known novel Dolly City, first published in 1993, is a story of an abusive mother named Dolly. Told in first person and set in a future dystopian Israel, the novel concentrates on Dolly's violent anxiety regarding the health of her adopted son. She worries that he might be suffering from various medical conditions ranging from cancer to missing an internal organ. Her response is repeatedly to "open him up" and needlessly operate on him. (1) A typical passage describes her actions thus: I succumbed to the chronic doubt from which I suffer. I wanted to check and see with my own eyes that everything was really in order, and then to check up on my checkup, and then to make sure that there hadn't been any slipups in the re-examinations, and so on and so forth. I gave the child anesthetic, I put him to sleep, and I did it. I slipped my hands into white gloves and began slicing into his thorax. His internal organs were revealed to my searching gaze, his heart, his lungs. Once I'd opened him up, I poked around in there too. Then I opened up his stomach, I held an organ roll call, I demanded to know if they were all present and correct. (31) (2) Such passages repeat themselves incessantly, marking the basic emotional tone of the novel. Dolly is more than just an excessively anxious and abusive mother. She is prone not only to fits of violent anxiety regarding her son, but often suffers from murderous rage and a flat affect coupled with extreme promiscuity. It is to Dolly as a character and as a narrator that most readers responded when reading the novel, often couching basic emotional reactions in intellectual or ideological terms. The initial reception of the book was varied; some saw it as expressing the linguistic and even moral deterioration of Israeli literature, while others prized the book as a breakthrough in Hebrew fiction. (3) Two leading Hebrew literary critiques by Dan Miron and Gershon Shaked claimed Castel-Bloom as the most original of a new generation of writers, urban and non-i deological; her writing resists and scorns social norms and public taste (see Miron; and Shaked 76). Following the strongly evaluative response that the book stirred up in reviews, the academic critical reception which followed has chosen to interpret it through the conceptual lenses of Post-modernism and Post-Zionism. Post-Modernist interpretations concentrate on the free play of language (signifier) used in the novel, on the lack of coherent reality, the mixture of high and low linguistic styles, and on the lack of depth or real affect. (4) Post-Zionist interpretations have either characterized the novel as disengaging from the national meta-narrative or as an explicit critique of Zionist claims. (5) Some interpretations saw the novel as a parody, a grotesque exaggeration of Jewish/Zionist mothering, an impossible endeavor composed of anxious sheltering, and preparing the child to be a soldier (Shiffman; Mendelson-Maoz). While there is some truth to these interpretations, they evade and assimilate this emotionally difficult text into a familiar grand narrative and try to assuage the reader with the comforting schemes of Modernism, Zionism and their respective "posts" The novel's main impact on readers, I argue, did not follow directly from its role in reconfiguring national narrative but from the shock and attraction of the narrator Dolly, a figure who combines a unique style and a grotesque violence. The main claim of this article will be that far from hovering in an unengaged postmodern way above reality in the realms of linguistic play and psychosis, CastelBloom's novel shows what recent theory calls the "passion for the Real" The concept of the Real was first articulated by Lacan and then elaborated by Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek. While there are differences in their emphases, an ideal type (Weber 90) (6) of the concept of the Real can be readily sketched. …

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Kaup's inclusion and analysis of Eliot and Barnes through a framework constructed around and by Latin American neobaroque writers performs a gesture similar to those created by Lezama Lima and others as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: The ComparaTisT 38 : 2014 perspective, the works of Latin American artists have been read through the theoretical framework shaped by colonial desire. Kaup’s inclusion and analysis of Eliot and Barnes through a framework constructed around and by Latin American neobaroque writers performs a gesture similar to those created by Lezama Lima and others. Her work itself becomes a neobaroque gesture of conterconquest. In doing this she reveals the limits of any ideological fantasy and, like all truly neobaroque texts, she brings signification perilously close to its own destruction. As Kaup constantly argues throughout the book in her engagement with Walter Benjamin, the neobaroque is a discourse of catastrophe, it is an art that signifies by not only reworking the shards of empire’s ruins, but by bringing the signifying edifice and the coloniality which it supports face to face with its own demise.

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Brand as mentioned in this paper argues that within such a depressingly acquiescent environment, comedic excess can serve a valuably uplifting corrective and countervailing role, in terms of the advertising slogan for Heineken beer, it can still refresh the parts that other forms of political analysis no longer reach.
Abstract: ZIZEK's BRAND OF EXCESS AND LA TRAHISON DES CLERCS No one who has tried to work in cultural studies from a perspective which is even conscious of the global hegemony of neo-liberalism and its social consequences can fail to be dismayed by the atmosphere of complete disengagement which seems to infuse so much "cultural studies" and related areas of thought ... (Bowman and Stamp 77) I heard recently Oliver Cromwell's address to the rump parliament in 1653 (online, I'm not a Time Lord) where he bawls out the whole of the House of Commons as "whores, virtueless horses and money-grabbing dicklickers." I added the last one but, honestly, that is the vibe. I was getting close to admiring old Oliver for his "calls it as he sees it, balls-out" rhetoric till I read about him on Wikipedia and learned that beyond this brilliant 8 Mile-style takedown of corrupt politicians he was a right arsehole; starving and murdering the Irish and generally (and surprisingly for a Roundhead) being a total square. The fact remains that if you were to recite his speech in parliament today you'd be hard pushed to find someone who could be legitimately offended. (Brand) Through his inimitable use of philosophical excess in the form of frequently offensive examples and dirty jokes, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has risen to either academic celebrity status or notoriety depending upon one's personal taste. The briefest survey of his work reveals serious philosophical points conveyed through jocular descriptions of sphincters, interracial threesomes, and the Hegelian nature of shit. This paper uses the specific case of Zizek and his use of filthy humour to explore wider questions about the viability of excess as a compensatory strategy for today's version of la trahison des clercs--the intellectual pusillanimity and lack of engagement with the social and cultural consequences of neoliberal ideology, a problem recognised above by even one of Zizek's fiercest critics. This lack of engagement has produced an intellectual climate in which the most basic critical concepts have become decaffeinated. Ironically, this is not because critical theory's insights have proved inaccurate, but rather the opposite. "Pragmatic" accommodations by academics with capitalist realpolitik have plumbed such quotidian depths that familiarity has bred, not contempt, but consent. For example, instead of constituting a cautionary concept, Adorno and Horkheimer's deliberate oxymoron "the culture industry" has become smoothly co-opted into such new capitalism-acquiescent fields of study as "creative and cultural industries," and in today's UK university sector, scholars scrabble indecorously to prove to funding councils the "real world" and commercial "impact" of their work. This paper argues that within such a depressingly acquiescent environment, comedic excess can serve a valuably uplifting corrective and countervailing role--in terms of the advertising slogan for Heineken beer, it can still refresh the parts that other forms of political analysis no longer reach. The second quotation above comes from a guest editorial by the comedian Russell Brand for the British political magazine, The New Statesman. Whilst calling for a revolution in the way we think about our current political situation, Brand does so in a manner that shares Zizek's strategic use of ribald humour's excess as an ideological tool with which to critique the contemporary mediascape. Shortly before the publication of his article, Brand appeared on a BBC flagship news programme Newsnight questioned by the doyen of aggressive British TV political interviewing, Jeremy Paxman. By the end of the interview, due to a combination of Brand's strength of feeling, the radical nature of his views and the paradoxically earnest nature of his defence of the right to be facetious, Paxman (despite being widely referred to in the press as a "Rottweiler") appears to be visibly chastened and the video of the encounter went viral (Paxman). …

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors discuss the representation of Europe's "margins" in "socalled Eastern European writers" (i.e., where the vernacular actually means the diasporic and settler culture).
Abstract: 329 where the vernacular actually means the diasporic and settler culture—then in her discussion of the representation of Europe’s “margins” in “socalled Eastern European writers” (134). Of course, “Eastern European” should be “East European” (and “socalled” should not be at all), nor does Bucharest lie in the Balkans, no matter where Olivia Manning takes her characters. More importantly, this is the only essay in the book besides Henrietta Moore’s (where so much depends upon a GoogleJihad analogy), in which specific instances of cultural practice, literature in this case, are actually examined, botched names of famous theorists and infamous dictators notwithstanding (“Frederic Jameson” [137], “Ceaucescu” [143]). In any event, a mixed bag as it may be, After Cosmopolitanism does deserve to be part of the conversation in the fastevolving field of cosmopolitan studies. Its weaknesses and disproportionate ambitions are also instructive. For, as with some of the previous works reviewed here, they too go to show how important it is that we read each other, inside and across our disciplines and languages.

2 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors of the book S: A Novel of Middle-Aged WASP Women in Tantric Yoga (S.P.W.W.) have been criticised for showing women in a poor light-as mere mere mere sexual objects of sexual pleasure.
Abstract: "I am Kundalini, the energy-serpent that rises" Sarah Price Worth Critics have so far responded to John Updike's S.: A Novel (1988) by dismissing it as Updike's comic portrayal of a middle-aged WASP woman suddenly caught in the mires of obsolete Hinduistic and Buddhistic philosophies (Adams 78; Broyard 7; Schiff 89). (1) However, S. is much more than a mere humorous delineation of an American woman in search of freedom from her bondage to the world. It epitomizes a unique aesthetic transmutation of Tantra Yoga, one of India's most complex esoteric disciplines. This branch of Yoga gives radical prominence to the human body and probes deep into the subliminal psychic structures of the self. To appreciate it, one has to know Tantra-sastras and tantric philosophy in theory as well as in practice. C. G. Jung therefore cautions the Western yoga enthusiasts, "The spiritual development of the West has been along very different lines from that of the East and has therefore produced conditions which are the most unfavourable soil one can think of for the application of yoga" ("Yoga" 537). Correspondingly, the current critics' opinions about S. are rooted in their limited knowledge of this sophisticated physio-psychic branch of Yoga. But, Updike admirably meets the theoretical part of this challenge in his depiction of the protagonist, Sarah Price Worth, as an embodiment of the primal female force or Kundalini Sakti in tantric tradition. The purpose of this essay is to study S. in the light of Kundalini Yoga for a comparative evaluation of Sarah's rise to the "Serpent Power" or Kundalini. An attempt will in the process be made to first briefly illustrate the doctrinal intricacies of Kundalini Yoga and then critically examine the evolution of her consciousness through different psychic stages. It will as well be finally indicated whether Kundalini Sarah could find release from her earthly concerns at the end of the novel. [FIGURE 1 OMITTED] The radical movements of the sixties such as the New Left and "Counter Culture" captured America's collective imagination and created a climate of cultural experimentation and metaphysical interrogation. "The decade of the 1960s," says Sydney Ahlstrom, "was a time [...] when the old grounds of national confidence, patriotic idealism, moral traditionalism, and even of historic Judeo-Christian theism, were awash" (3). The consequent spiritual scepticism aroused among Americans an irresistible craving for alternative value systems. As a result, they looked over to the mystical Orient for the much needed spiritual solace and moral sustenance. To many of them, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam appeared to offer a variety of viable resolutions for their metaphysical and moral confusions. As a discipline of the universal import, Yoga caught up with Americans quite fast and soon several Indian gurus sprung on the American soil with their respective brands of Yoga. They preached and propagated Hindu spirituality and thereby created a "subculture" that "interfaced with a dominant American cultural matrix" (Forsthoefel 2, 1-14). As a result, several American writers and artists patronised them for their aesthetic or spiritual purposes. Updike knew of Kundalini Yoga from Bhagwan Raj neesh and his Tantra Yoga. In his interview with this author, Updike claims, "When I was a young man, in Oxford especially, but in my New York years also, I read a lot of religious books. Not just Christian, but I did read a little about Hinduism and Buddhism. So I had some knowledge of it. But when I reached it for this book-I mean, yes, Rajneesh was the way in. But then I went back and read a number of texts about both Hinduism and Buddhism and worked them into the teachings and into the novel, which made it a long glossary about yoga" (Singh 88). In fact, Updike has frequently been accused of showing women in a poor light-as mere objects of sexual pleasure (Lanchester 13). In S. …

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TL;DR: In this article, a series of entries that are sequential, requiring multiple players, perhaps multiple tangents, entries that, rather than allowing a text to remain a finished product, with a discrete beginning and a discrete closure in the past, turns it instead into an open-ended input network, a work-in-progress that is long drawn-out, with no preassigned generic boundaries and no logical endpoint.
Abstract: In thinking about the relation between literature and the arts, one concept that I'd like to try out is "relay"--cross-genre and cross-media relay. What I have in mind is a series of entries that are sequential, requiring multiple players, perhaps multiple tangents, entries that, rather than allowing a text to remain a finished product, with a discrete beginning and a discrete closure in the past, turns it instead into an open-ended input network, a work-in-progress that is long drawn-out, with no preassigned generic boundaries and no logical endpoint. Understood in this way, literature is less an object than a vector, a forward momentum, one that says: "to be continued." It can be taken in any number of ways, updated in any number of ways. Different people add different legs to it; these legs don't always move in unison, and perhaps that is the point. What this suggests about literary history is that the original composition by any one author is bound to be "incomplete"--in the sense that it cannot be its own sequel, its own endpoint--precisely because it is singular, the work of one pair of hands. This isn't necessarily a shortcoming, a sin of commission or omission. Rather, it is what comes with the terrain, comes with individuation itself, a limitation not only built-in but also inversely generative, turning every text into a multi-author undertaking, the condition of possibility for gaps to be subsequently filled, roads not taken to be subsequently visited. Through these long-running, not necessarily recuperative, but fairly reliably incremental relays, traces of the unactualized past can be carried into the future, and shadowy outlines can be given unexpected shapes. The umbrella term under which I'd like to consider such relays is "epic," using this oldest and bulkiest of genres to name its current iterations in modernity, which is to say, as a genre made up by its extensions and inversions, a genre that survives by being turned upside down and inside out, indexing new developments in the world, and indexing as well the variety of media that become available. Without further ado, then, let me turn to the three figures in this relay--Herman Melville, C. L. R. James, and Frank Stella--to give you a sense of what I have in mind. I begin with James. No matter how we look at it, Mariners, Renegades, Castaways is a strange book. Is it literary criticism? The genre isn't entirely clear. James began writing it on June 10, 1952, when he was arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services, and sent to Ellis Island, where he was detained for the next 6 months. It was on Ellis Island that he tried to put into words the almost prophetic vision that came to him, in this encounter with what he called "the miracle of Herman Melville" I use the word "prophetic" because James's own word--"miracle"--seems to call for it, and I'll have more to say about this sudden appearance of what seems to be an entirely different order of reality, so out of place in the starkly bureaucratic and geopolitical environment of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. But, for now I want to concentrate on the extraordinary claim that James is making, namely, that his twentieth-century experience with the world's immigrant populations is somehow of a piece with his reading of a novel by a nineteenth-century author. This is what he says: A great deal of this book was written on Ellis Island while I was being detained by the Department of Immigration. The Island, like Melville's Pequod, is a miniature of all the nations of the world and all sections of society. My experience of it and the circumstances attending my stay there have so deepened my understanding of Melville and so profoundly influenced the form the book has taken, that an account of this had seemed to me not only a natural but necessary conclusion. This is to be found in Chapter VII. (James, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways 4) Well, at least that was the plan. …

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TL;DR: The concept of excess is defined by Georges Bataille (1897-1962) as discussed by the authors, who defined the notion of "excess" as "the very thing for which being is, first and foremost, beyond all limits".
Abstract: Excess cannot be philosophically founded, since excess exceeds foundation: excess is the very thing for which being is, first and foremost, beyond all limits. Georges Bataille, Madame Edwarda There are likely few authors for whom the concept of excess is more singularly significant than Georges Bataille (1897-1962). All throughout his diverse writings, which include political and philosophical essays, fiction, poetry, and letters spanning more than three decades and twelve volumes of collected works, "excess" is a notion characterizing everything from his mystical ontology in works like Erotism to his spectacularly graphic erotic fiction in works like My Mother and Story of the Eye. Indeed, his multivolume work The Accursed Share presents a veritable cosmology and world history of excess, tracing the ineluctable operation of useless consumption or "unproductive expenditure" throughout human history and civilization, which is to be found principally in those perennially prodigal human actions with no greater purpose, like play, art, luxury, and even religion. For Bataille, these forms of wasteful activity represent not only desirable pursuits for humanity, but indeed the purpose and ultimate end of all human endeavors, representing even the defining element of human identity itself. "Man is the most suited of all living beings," he writes, "to consume intensely, sumptuously, the excess energy offered up by the pressure of life to conflagrations" (Accursed Share 37). The prodigal waste of one's own excess energy and resources, therefore, finds its natural conclusion in the expenditure of life in the assent to exceed even life itself, above all, in death. It is for this reason that "life's intimacy," he writes, "does not reveal it's dazzling consumption until the moment it gives out" (Theory of Religion 47). As a spectacular and shared revelation of "life's intimacy" in the moment of its "dazzling consumption," sacrifice for Bataille represents the quintessence of life itself expended and consumed unproductively, precisely in the manner of gifts and luxuries. The wasteful excesses of luxury are analogous to sacrifice insofar as they, like a gift, "give up" or "give away" the use-value and exchange-value of some precious commodity and transmute it into a form of useless expenditure, not unlike excremental waste. As he explains in an oblique reference to Freudian dream symbolism in his 1933 essay "The Notion of Expenditure": Jewels must not only be beautiful and dazzling ... : one sacrifices a fortune, preferring a diamond necklace; such a sacrifice is necessary for the constitution of this necklace's fascinating character ... When in a dream a diamond signifies excrement, it is not only a question of association by contrast; in the unconscious, jewels, like excrement, are cursed matter that flows from a wound: they are a part of oneself destined for open sacrifice. (Visions 119) Having been delivered from what he terms a "restricted economy" of conservation, exchange, growth, and accumulation, luxury represents a form of expenditure that occupies what he terms a "general economy" of gifts, prodigality, expenditure, and excess. Thus, luxurious excesses possess an inherently sacrificial character. "This is so clearly the precise meaning of sacrifice," he writes, "that one sacrifices what is useful; one does not sacrifice luxurious objects ... Depriving the labor of manufacture of its usefulness at the outset, luxury has already destroyed that labor; it has dissipated it in vainglory ... To sacrifice a luxury object would be to sacrifice the same object twice" (Theory of Religion 50). Once delivered into a general economy of wasteful excess, therefore, the sacrificial object cannot be reappropriated into a restricted economy of usefulness and productivity, despite the usefulness implied in its manufacture. Such would contradict both the very purpose of the sacrifice itself and the object's destructive transformation into useless excess. …

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TL;DR: Wang et al. as mentioned in this paper argue that the polemic is in fact expressed through ethnography and investigative journalism, as both forms were suppressed under Mao's dictatorship and Zheng Yi's use of them cannot be divorced from his political claims.
Abstract: In the late 1980s, novelist Zheng Yi set out to investigate rumors that cannibalism had broken out in the Guangxi region of China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). His research was compiled from October 1990 to July 1991, while in internal exile in China. In the resulting work of literary journalism, Scarlet Memorial (hongse jinianbei, 1993), Zheng Yi attempts to document evidence of the reported instances of real-life cannibalism. As a disaffected communist on the run from the authorities, his investigation takes the form of a political polemic. But, as the title indicates, he also hopes that this effort will serve as a memorial for all of those who were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. To this end, Zheng Yi fills Scarlet Memorial with first-hand accounts, interviews and official reports, as well as local mythology, gossip, speculation, and literary interpretation, all of which he reads on an equal level as "evidence." First published in English translation in 1996, (1) Scarlet Memorial has received mixed reviews among U.S. academics and casual readers alike. Although the English-language text is heavily abridged--several hundred pages of political commentary were excised--readers must still grapple with the text's many excesses: too much violence, too much speculation, and too many sources. For some, these elements contribute to the text's believability and critical impact. (2) However, many critics and reviewers have argued that this over-inclusion compromises the book's aims. Katherine E. Palmer and Richard King in particular criticize Zheng Yi's failure to support his political analysis with concrete evidence. While Palmer acknowledges that the author has proven the occurrence of cannibalism in Guangxi, she claims that he resorts to specious explanations--such as patronizing depictions of the Zhuang ethnic group--in order to explain why. Objecting to the excess of political commentary, literary critic Gang Yue goes so far as to say "the book can and must be read as a fictional text, despite the author's claim to historical accuracy and scientific truth" (251). Scarlet Memorial is a sprawling, protean text; one could easily argue that it exceeds the boundaries of form for investigative journalism--ostensibly the genre to which Zheng Yi aspires. A large portion of the text consists of testimony from eyewitnesses and alleged perpetrators, which is then supplemented with official records. These sources of evidence, in and of themselves, are compelling proof that such atrocities were indeed committed. However, Zheng Yi does not stop there, including many other nonfiction forms such as literary interpretation, political analysis, and ethnographic description. Reading the latter as a break in generic form, Yue refers to this portion of the book as "an 'ethnographical' detour in the text's transition from 'investigative journalism' to political polemic" (246). Yue's use of scare quotes reflects his doubts about whether Scarlet Memorial can adequately be considered within the framework of either investigative journalism or ethnography. Yue would seem to imply that the polemic is simply masquerading as one of the other, more officially regarded genres. Ultimately, this article argues against Yue's assumption: polemic is in fact expressed through ethnography and investigative journalism, as both forms were suppressed under Mao's dictatorship and Zheng Yi's use of them cannot be divorced from his political claims. With an understanding of how the author writes within and against a repressive literary history, we can explore how the various forms of evidence in Scarlet Memorial make an argument independent of simple fact claims. These types of evidence do not function simply to support an argument or bolster journalistic authority, but rather as a form of protest in their own right. Although Yue claims that "taken as a whole, [Scarlet Memorial] is not a book of investigative journalism at all" (243), I argue that the text is indeed a very specific form of the genre. …


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TL;DR: In this article, the authors take the case of the French philosopher Alain Badiou's writing on film to consider the risks and gains of interpretation when it takes place outside the methodological constraints which govern institutionalized practices.
Abstract: INTRODUCTION: CRITICAL EXCESS According to Paul Ricoeur, post-Heideggerian hermeneutics assumes what he calls "the necessity for all understanding to be mediated by an interpretation which exhibits its insurmountable plurivocity" (56). (1) There are two key elements here: first, there is no understanding without interpretation, no direct, intuitive access to the "thing itself"; and second, meanings are multiple, unstable, subject to dispute and change. Interpretation has always already begun, and so long as humans continue to inhabit the earth, it will never come to an end. The interpretation of works of art is just a specialized version of something we do all the time in our ordinary lives and interactions. Those of us who are sympathetic to hermeneutics are likely to take such views to be axiomatic to the point of accepting them without question. Even so, whilst describing a general aspect of what it means to be human, this account of the hermeneutic problem offers no solution to specific issues of interpretation. Hermeneutics, I suggest, concedes the instability of meaning but also seeks to rein it in. If there is no final, uniquely correct reading, how do I decide when to stop interpreting? How do I know when I can go further or when I have gone too far? When does interpretation become excessive? The main body of this article takes the case of the French philosopher Alain Badiou's writing on film to consider the risks and gains of interpretation when it takes place outside the methodological constraints which govern institutionalized practices. The larger problem here is how and whether we should regulate our interpretive endeavours. In the heady days of the theory wars, poststructuralists found themselves accused of endorsing an irresponsible, freewheeling attitude according to which they could say anything they wanted. Although this grossly misrepresented poststructuralism, it was easier to insist that it was not true than it was actually to formulate what the constraints on interpretation might be. If interpretation does not aim to be finally, definitively right, or at least persuasive enough for the time being, then what is its point? By what criteria can we assess its truth or usefulness? Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence (1973) and some of his later work cut through this problem by replacing the vocabulary of "right" and "wrong" with "strong" and "weak." "There are no interpretations but only misinterpretations," Bloom tells us (95). Abandoning the goal of interpretive correctness does not, however, mean that every misinterpretation is as good or bad as any other. All readings are misreadings, but some are preferable to others; and the strong/weak dichotomy provides the criteria by which this can be justified. The great poets are strong misreaders of their precursors; and the good critics are in their turn strong misreaders as well. It is important here that the misreading practised by poets is deemed to be replicated, albeit less creatively, by critics. If all interpretation is misinterpretation, then "all criticism is prose poetry" (95). We critics may be flattered to find ourselves characterized as prose poets; and at the same time we may be disconcerted to discover that our efforts at interpretation have no grounding in truth. In his distinction between strong and weak (mis)readings Bloom makes explicit something which had long underpinned the interpretation of art, particularly as practised by philosophers. I take Martin Heidegger to be a key figure in this context. In his essays on poetry, Heidegger suggested that the ancient rivalry between philosophy and literature could be overcome. For Heidegger, thought and poetry at their finest are the twin peaks of human achievement, different in form yet both engaged in the same quest for understanding. The philosopher might learn more from attending patiently to the words of the poets than from the works of fellow philosophers. …

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TL;DR: Kant's notion of the Third Definitive article of perpetual peace is based on the right to hospitality (hospitalitatsrecht), which is "the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else's territory" as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: In his most widely read essay, "Perpetual Peace" (1795), Kant proposes that the Third Definitive article of Perpetual Peace is based on the right to hospitality (hospitalitatsrecht), which is "the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else's territory" (105, 8: 357). This hospitality or "hospitableness" (Wirtbarkeit) is not the right to be a guest (Gastrecht) because that requires entertaining the foreigner and taking him into one's own house; rather, Kant describes it as the right to visit (Besuchrecht) in order to present oneself to society for the sake of establishing commerce. Anyone has the right to visit any other territory to try to seek or attempt commercial relations with its inhabitants, but that is the limit of the right of hospitality (8: 358). In other words, the "native inhabitants" are obligated only to listen to the proposal of the foreigner before they evict him from their territory. What Kant means by hospitality, then, is akin to that provided by the Dutch Innkeeper with whom he begins the essay; namely, to accept all visitors as a business transaction. Indeed, the word that he uses most frequently, and which is translated as hospitality or hospitableness, is Wirtbarkeit (cf. Unwirtbarkeit or Unwirtbarste translated as inhospitable), whose root Wirt means Innkeeper or landlord, and which has much stronger associations with the hospitality of a landlord than the English word hospitality suggests; perhaps it is helpful to think of it in terms of how the word is used today in the locution "the hospitality industry." The connections between hospitality, landlords, and property are significant not only because the right of hospitality works to guarantee the possibility of commerce between nation-states but also because the "common possession of the earth's surface" around which this right revolves is a pivotal aspect of Kant's Doctrine of Right or civil law, particularly property law, in The Metaphysics of Morals (1797) (106, 8: 358). The right to hospitality may facilitate commerce, but for Kant its source is an a priori principle of practical reason based on the limited surface of the earth. The right of hospitality is grounded on not only the spherical shape of the earth, but also human dependence on the earth, which is not only logically and chronologically prior to commerce, but also necessary for it. And while Kant entertains his reader with speculations about the physical, empirical and historical chronology of relations between nations--commercial relations--his goal is to establish the metaphysical--or we might say logical--conditions of possibility for those relations. In The Metaphysics of Morals, Kant bases both the right to hospitality and the right to private property (and arguably all of public right) on two facts: namely, that the earth is a sphere or a globe, and that all human beings live on this same planet. Thus, we are compelled to ask: What does Kant mean by "earth"? And, what is the human being's relationship to it? Which leads us to ask, what does Kant mean by "human being"? These questions point to the ways in which the earth and our relationship to it are in excess of Kant's theory of property. (1) Kant argues that the right of hospitality as (what we might call in Star Trek jargon) the right of 'first contact' is necessary so that "distant parts of the world can enter peaceably into relations with one another, which can eventually become publically lawful and so finally bring the human race ever closer to a cosmopolitan constitution" (329, 8: 358). Only through a cosmopolitan constitution that unites all nation-states under one universal international law can we achieve peace, which, Kant maintains, is the goal of reason itself: "establishing universal and lasting peace constitutes not merely a part of the doctrine of right but rather the entire final end of the doctrine of right within the limits of mere reason" (491, 6: 355). …

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TL;DR: Rousseau's enigma can be traced to the fact that he did not need to fight his desire, but rather, without will or volition, it is his desire that does the fighting for him as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: One of the paradoxes of Robespierre's Republic of Virtue is that the author from whom he so largely borrowed did not really consider himself virtuous. Virtue may mean purity of heart and motive in one's daily actions, but as Jean-Jacques Rousseau very well knew, it also implied a constant rational struggle against intrinsic passions and appetites. It is for this reason that in several parts of the Dialogues, Rousseau portrays himself paradoxically as a virtuous man who lacks virtue: "But is there some virtue in that sweetness? None. There is only the inclination of a loving and tender nature [...] This very reasonable choice isn't made by either reason or will. It is the work of the pure instinct. It lacks the merit of virtue, doubtless, but neither does it have its instability. One who has surrendered only to the impulses of nature for sixty years is certainly never going to resist them" (RJJ 150). (1) It is not difficult to see why Rousseau would characterize himself as such. If, as Saint-Preux warns Julie, "virtue is a state of war" (J 560), belief in this struggle would mean recognizing our inherent disposition to sin and refuting, as a result, one of Jean-Jacques's principal tenets: man's natural inclination for the good. As Rousseau notes in the first pages of the Dialogues, "virtue among us often requires fighting and conquering nature" (RJJ 10-11). Through his oeuvre, however, Rousseau does not do away with virtue's struggle as much as he reframes it and confines it within a realm that is strictly intrasentimental. Rousseau, in other words, does not need to fight his desire, but rather, without will or volition, it is his desire that does the fighting for him. To understand this point, it is worth considering the depiction Rousseau gives in the Confessions of his peculiar sexual tastes. When describing the punishments he received at the hands of Mlle Lambercier and the kind of sensuality they had aroused, Rousseau makes clear to the reader that his desire was a sort of blessing in disguise, an evil that contained its own remedy. Although he says that with a little more effrontery, his senses would have plunged him "into the most brutal sensuality" (C 15), Rousseau describes his sexual desire at once as both appetite and law, as being self-contained in its own zeal: For the present, it is enough for me to have pointed out the origin and first cause of a penchant that has modified all my passions, and which, repressing them by themselves, has always rendered me lazy in acting because of too much ardor in desiring. (C 35; emphasis mine) Desire may be a potential source of perdition, but in Jean-Jacques's case, it also happens to hold the seeds for his salvation. As he puts it, "what ought to have ruined me still preserved me" (C 15). When describing his particular sexual desires in the Dialogues, Rousseau reiterates the same point. Speaking about himself in the third person this time, he notes that "[t]he most unbelievable timidness, the most excessive indolence would perhaps have yielded on occasion to the strength of desire, had he not found in this very strength the art of eluding the efforts it seemed to require; and here again, of all the keys to his character, this is the one that best reveals its mechanical parts" (RJJ 152-53; emphasis mine). To truly understand Rousseau, in other words, it is essential to take into consideration the self-sufficient and self-annulling nature of his desire. But what does all of this mean exactly? What follows in this telling passage offers us some important clues in deciphering Rousseau's enigma. By dint of attending to the object he desires, he continues: His beneficent imagination reaches its goal by leaping over the obstacles that stop or frighten him. It does more. Removing from the object everything that is foreign to his covetousness, it presents it to him only as suited to his desire in all respects. In this way, his fictions become even sweeter to him than the realities themselves, removing the defects along with the difficulties, offering them especially prepared for him, and making the desiring and the enjoying one and the same thing for him ("desirer et jouir ne sont pour lui qu'une meme chose"). …

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TL;DR: If we had knowledge of absolute certainty there could be no such thing as romance for us if science held absolute sway, if we were not forever skirting the perilous edge of the unknown, we would never be disappointed and we should never hope as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: If we had knowledge of absolute certainty there could be no such thing as romance for us If science held absolute sway, if we were not forever skirting the perilous edge of the unknown, we should never be disappointed and we should never hope Magnificent uncertainty is essential to the romantic atmosphere; the intellect must leave things undefined in order that imagination may define them, that the consciousness which lurks behind consciousness may hint at the wonders behind the known (Scott-James 9) In Modernism and Romance (1908), literary critic R A Scott-James registers the angst of many of his literary contemporaries about the cultural forces undermining the romance novel He recognizes the romance novel's affinity with indeterminacy, and identifies scientific rationalization as detrimental to the possibilities of the form In discerning the threat that scientific certainty poses to hope and wonder he anticipates Max Weber's account of disenchantment in society and culture more broadly in the 1918 lecture that claimed "there are no mysterious incalculable forces that come into play one can, in principle, master all things by calculation" ("Science as a Vocation") A pervasive concern with modern romance and disenchantment underlies the fiction of many turn-of-the-century novelists about whom Scott-James was writing, but the specific link between romance, chance and rationalization is explored consciously in Thomas Hardy's novel A Laodicean Though Hardy had shifted all his energies to poetry by the time Scott-James was writing, Modernism and Romance contains a whole chapter on Hardy as a modernist, but it neglects any mention of A Laodicean The omission of this "minor" novel is unsurprising but regrettable, since, amongst other themes, it consciously juxtaposes realism and modern romance to tease out the cultural and literary trends with which Scott-James engages The pairing of romance and chance reveals Hardy's sensitivity to some of the major artistic, scientific, and ideological issues of his time, and suggests a project of re-enchantment for both chance and romance in the novel The disenchantment of the modern world has been a favoured historical narrative of scholars and cultural critics since its articulation by Weber In essence, this narrative posits disillusionment as an effect of advances in science and technology that eliminate the magic of the unknown Yet a more recent scholarly turn attempts to alter this script by looking to instances of enchantment and re-enchantment that challenge the dominant story of modern rationalization and the loss of wonder and magic (1) In her 2001 book The Enchantment of Modern Life, political theorist Jane Bennett articulates a project for re-enchantment today with which Hardy was already involved at the end of the nineteenth century For Bennett, fostering enchantment is both an ethical imperative, and a sort of coping mechanism that helps one respond to the challenges of a "turbulent and unjust" world (160) Many of Hardy's novels nakedly present such a "turbulent and unjust world" with little space for meaningful participation, but in A Laodicean Hardy is occupied with something akin to Bennett's re-enchantment project: Hardy's sensitivity to his own changing time is notably less morbid in this novel than in many of his others, and even hopeful as he strategically romanticizes modernity and depicts the wonder of chance in a manner unconventional for the Victorian novel In the twenty-first century, Bennett claims this enchantment and sense of wonder can actually be cultivated and practiced intentionally through deliberate strategies, three of which she describes as giving "greater expression to the sense of play," "hon[ing] sensory receptivity to the marvelous specificity of things," and "resist[ing] the story of the disenchantment of modernity" (4) According to her, such practices open up possibilities, and provoke new ideas and connections (6) …

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TL;DR: Literary translation has been seen as a hermeneutic event laden with competing demands, an impossibility of simultaneously performing, replicating, transferring, mediating too many functions.
Abstract: Literary translation--as a hermeneutic event laden with competing demands, an impossibility of simultaneously performing, replicating, transferring, mediating too many functions--has been understood as something of an interpretive heresy toward the literary sublime: that untouchable, perfect complexity of the text must be profanely touched for translation. And the touch of translation is always too rough, too awkward, leaving traces, damaging delicate appendages, or knocking the structure off balance. This view posits translation as something inherently at odds with a text's fundamental ontology: the text is always damaged or silenced piecemeal in translation. The restrictive emphasis on the ontology of a literary text allows translation critics to judge and dismiss a translated text according to impossible standards. It is not that translation itself is impossible so much as that a virtual infinitude of interpretive emphases creates or reconstitutes a text in too many ways to render in a single translation. Literary translations simultaneously face so many competing demands, it is as though in translation, a text is suddenly responsible for standing up and declaring its laden ontology in one polyphonic burst. Structure, rhythm, meter, cadence, syntax, connotation, political implications both subtle and overt, characteristic diction, allusions, allegorical suggestions, mood, tone, deconstructive gestures, affinities, aporia, latent ideologies, echoes of literary influence, diachronic literary historical relationships, genre conventions: these are the basic componential standards that variously coalesce on translated texts in addition to the supposedly basic criterion of semantic "accuracy" of varying degrees of "literalness." Translation criticism yields abundant examples, some of which are discussed below. Although critics may not go so far as to articulate their thoughts on the categorical impossibility of translation, their critiques nonetheless effectively enforce the notion that good translation must be sublime translation, accounting for any and all meaning that hermeneutic traditions have ascribed to the original. As an alternative to this critical mode, translation practice must face excess as "saturated phenomenon" (building on Jean-Luc Marion's phenomenological notion) by shifting toward regarding translation as a mode of invitation: acknowledging the "excessive" demands on translation and its essential incompleteness and, instead, offering its object as an index of other texts--both the translated text itself as well as future texts (interpretive, translational and creative)--that will function systemically. Translation can only respect the primary excess of the text when it declares itself a node and invites infinite linkages. The concept of "excess" always implies a judgment, be it critique or celebration, of a degree or magnitude of a quality or substance without which the thing to which that quality pertains could (somehow, essentially) still successfully exist. With literature in particular, the "excess" of textual meaning should neither be thought as an essence, nor as an ontological fact inherent to the text, but as something produced through multiple communicative contexts articulated across multiple interpretive engagements and multiple (hermeneutic) discourses. If the excess of the "original" text can be thought as a product of interpretive communities and networks of meaning they generate in traditions of cross-reading, then translational communities can function analogously by translating transparently in excess; that is, sublime translation requires a hermeneutic excess that only begins with the act of translation proper. Rather than yield to the reductive impetus implicit in crediting translations as even partially complete avatars of "originals," translation should be understood as matching an excess of meaning in the text as sublime with a parallel excess of hermeneutics as communitas of interpretation, wherein excess is regarded as infinite invitation rather than repellant, scornful ideal. …

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: One of the most important moments of the "time of theory" as it has been problematically baptized came with the publication of the suitably titled Programme by Philippe Sollers in his book L'Ecriture et l'experience des limites and in the quarterly review Tel Quel, issue thirty-one, in Autumn 1967 as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: One of the nodal moments of the "time of theory" as it has been problematically baptized came with the publication of the suitably titled "Programme" by Philippe Sollers in his book L'Ecriture et l'experience des limites and in the quarterly review Tel Quel, issue thirty-one, in Autumn 1967. The text began with a capitalized demand which articulated the agenda announced by its title: "UNE THEORIE D'ENSEMBLE DEMANDE A ETRE ELABOREE, PENSEE A PARTIR DE LA PRATIQUE DE L'ECRITURE" ("Programme" 8) ["A COMPREHENSIVE THEORY DERIVED FROM THE PRACTICE OF WRITING DEMANDS TO BE ELABORATED" ("Program" 5)]. I take this statement to be symptomatic of a certain dimension of what is meant by "theory." Evidently, the term has a wider semantic range and pertains to a deeper historical periodization than can be comprised within the scope of this article, but I would contend that this statement and this moment are crucial in the delineation and the fortunes of what we now think of and practice or fail to practice as theory. What I mean is that Tel Quel defined a certain notion of theory, that this definition had its part to play in what has become of theory, and that revisiting it can suggest what we might now do and make of theory. In the genealogy of theory in France in the 1960s in and around the review Tel Quel one sees a consistent configuration of the theory and practice of writing as an element of excess in relation to established bodies of knowledge. This excess is variously figured as "literature," practice, supplement or truth. Here I will excavate a number of the contexts which form this genealogy, focused around Tel Quel at the critical moment of 1967/1968. At stake here is the sense of the excess of a community over and above individual authorship, as voiced in the notion of a "theorie d'ensemble"; the excess of the practice of writing which critically supersedes the "ideology" of "literature," Tel Quel drawing here on the Althusserian account of ideology and the "theory of theoretical practice"; an epistemological shift away from the psychological and metaphysical attributes of "author" and "work" and towards the concepts of scriptural practice and of the text, but also a consistent emphasis on the excessive character of the "truth" that the practice of writing articulates over and above the knowledge of science of criticism. Through attention to the ways in which Tel Quel's theoretical practice is articulated with Lacanian psychoanalytic theory I will situate its affirmation of excess in relation to what Lacan calls "truth" in a key essay of 1966, "La Science et la verite," and in relation to what will emerge slightly later as the theory of the four discourses. I thus hope to argue that "theory," as it is constituted and named at this critical juncture is both a theory of excess, and that it functions as excess. Tel Quel had previously apposed its name to Tzvetan Todorov's collection of articles by the Russian Formalists published under the title Theorie de la litterature, which was published in the series named as the "Collection Tel Quel" in 1965. Philippe Forest, in his Histoire de Tel Quel notes that on being consulted about the collection by the then relatively eminent and avuncular Roland Barthes, the latter had advised Philippe Sollers, principal animator of the review, that Todorov's collection and summary of the work of the Russian Formalists was disappointingly behind the more exciting theoretical advances of the moment. We can note that 1965 was the year of the publication of elements of Derrida's "De la grammatologie" in the review Critique, which would appear in book form in 1967; 1965 was also the year of the arrival in France of Todorov's fellow Bulgarian Julia Kristeva and the year in which Lacan's seminar started to attract a wide non-psychoanalytic public. Sollers's "Programme," published in 1967, and the collective publication also titled Theorie d'ensemble of 1968 (the title signifying at once a "general theory" a "theory of the whole," a "group theory," a "theory of the group," or of the set, and, by extension, set theory (theorie des ensembles)), can therefore be seen as upping the stakes, overcoming and superseding the descriptivism of the texts included in Todorov's digest, and indeed overcoming what were seen as the formalist limits of the "structuralist" school of literary criticism represented by Gerard Genette and Todorov himself. …