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Currently researching: cultural marxism - nobrow - visual culture
Currently reading: Bread and Circuses (1983) - Patrick Brantlinger
2006, June 07; 19:05 ::: Karl Marx
See also: Karl Marx
2006, June 07; 19:05 ::: Friedrich Nietzsche
See also: Nietzsche
2006, June 07; 19:05 ::: Blood of a poet (1930) - Jean Cocteau
Le sang d'un poète (1930) - Jean Cocteau
Via notes from somewhere
See also: blood - 1930 - Jean Cocteau - poetry
2006, June 07; 19:05 ::: Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism (1996) - Jennifer Green-Lewis
Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism (1996) - Jennifer Green-Lewis [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
A wide-ranging exploration of the complex and often conflicting discourse on photography in the nineteenth century, Framing the Victorians traces various descriptions of photography as art, science, magic, testimony, proof, document, record, illusion, and diagnosis. Victorian photography, argues Jennifer Green-Lewis, inspired such universal fascination that even two so self-consciously opposed schools as positivist realism and metaphysical romance claimed it as their own. Photography thus became at once the symbol of the inadequacy of nineteenth-century empiricism and the proof of its totalizing vision.
Green-Lewis juxtaposes textual descriptions with pictorial representations of a diverse array of cultural activities from war and law enforcement to novel writing and psychiatry. She compares, for example, the exhibition of Roger Fenton’s Crimean War photographs (1855) with W. H. Russell’s written accounts of the war published in the Times of London (1884 and 1886). Nineteenth-century photography, she maintains, must be reread in the context of Victorian written texts from and against which it developed.
Green-Lewis also draws on works by Thomas Hardy, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry James, as well as published writing by Victorian photographers, in support of her view that photography provides an invaluable model for understanding the act of writing itself. We cannot talk about realism in the nineteenth century without talking about visuality, claims Green-Lewis, and Framing the Victorians explores the connections.
See also: visual culture - 19th century - Victorian era - photography - realism
2006, June 07; 19:05 ::: All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music
All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music. For while in all other kinds of art it is possible to distinguish the matter from the form, and the understanding can always make this distinction, yet it is the constant effort of art to obliterate it. . . . It is the art of music which most completely realizes this artistic ideal, this perfect identification of matter and form." --Walter Pater, The School of Giorgione (1877) in The Renaissance
In an earlier piece in praise of secondary sources I commented that I'd rather read about books than read the books themselves and rather see the movie based on the novel than read the novel itself.
However, bearing in mind the famous quote on music journalism: Writing about music is like dancing about architecture (variously attributed to Frank Zappa, Laurie Anderson and Elvis Costello) I think that my praise for secondary sources holds well in the case of literature and films, but holds less well in the case of the visual arts and even less in the case of music. Music seems to be an art genre that resists being captured in words. Of course, a lot will depend on the quality of the music writing, give me a copy of Wire magazine with pieces like the invisible jukebox (an interview conducted by way of unknown tracks being played to an artist) and I am very happy to read about music I have never heard before and never will hear.
Which reminds of an incident, which sort of disproves the Writing about music is like dancing about architecture dictum. On several occasions in the late 1997, I had read raving reviews of a track called Escravos De Jo by Kerri Chandler & Joe Claussell but I had not heard it yet and I was not at that time familiar with the sound of Joe Claussell. Then one morning when I was driving to work and I was tuned in to the Brussels station Radio Panik, I hear this unidentified track and the minute I heard it, I was sure it was Escravos De Jo. I was right and I had recognized it by reading about it. [Jun 2006]
See also: music journalism - Joe Claussell - Kerri Chandler
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Cultural Marxism in Post War Britain: History, the New Left and the Origins of Cultural Studies (1997) - Dennis Dworkin
Cultural Marxism in Post War Britain: History, the New Left and the Origins of Cultural Studies (1997) - Dennis Dworkin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
In this intellectual history of British cultural Marxism, Dennis Dworkin explores one of the most influential bodies of contemporary thought. Tracing its development from beginnings in postwar Britain, through its various transformations in the 1960s and 1970s, to the emergence of British cultural studies at Birmingham, and up to the advent of Thatcherism, Dworkin shows this history to reflect a coherent intellectual tradition, one that represents an implicit and explicit theoretical effort to resolve the crisis of the postwar British Left.
Limited to neither a single discipline nor a particular intellectual figure, this book comprehensively views British cultural Marxism in terms of the dialogue between historians and the originators of cultural studies and in its relationship to the new left and feminist movements. From the contributions of Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Sheila Rowbotham, Catherine Hall, and E. P. Thompson to those of Perry Anderson, Barbara Taylor, Raymond Williams, Dick Hebdidge, and Stuart Hall, Dworkin examines the debates over issues of culture and society, structure and agency, experience and ideology, and theory and practice. The rise, demise, and reorganization of journals such as The Reasoner, The New Reasoner, Universities and Left Review, New Left Review, Past and Present are also part of the history told in this volume. In every instance, the focus of Dworkin's attention is the intellectual work seen in its political context.
Capturing the excitement and commitment that more than one generation of historians, literary critics, art historians, philosophers, and cultural theorists have felt about an unorthodox and critical tradition of Marxist theory, Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain will appeal to students and scholars of cultural studies as well as those interested in the broader terrain of Marxist theory and contemporary critical theory.
See also: Marxism - Cultural Studies - UK
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Political correctness is cultural Marxism
Paleoconservatives often attack “political correctness,” which they see as a form of censorship and social control. Many conservatives such as William S. Lind claim “political correctness” is a form of “cultural Marxism” and a product of the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory:If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with classical Marxism the parallels are very obvious.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism#Paleoconservatives.2C_Culture_War_and_Political_Correctness [Jun 2006]
Cultural Marxism is a term used to by some people to describe what they perceive as an attempt to undermine western civilisation through internal cultural means, rather than direct economic, party political and military means following the fall of the Soviet Union, thereby bringing about a Marxist revolution.
Cultural Marxism is alleged to have originated in the Frankfurt School of philosophy, under Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Wilhelm Reich, Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse and others. . It is also thought that Antonio Gramsci has been influential.
The author Patrick J Buchanan in his book "The Death of the West", summarises the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism thus:
"The four horsemen of the school were music critic Theodor Adorno, psychologist Erich Fromm, sociologist Wilhelm Reich and professor Herbert Marcuse. Their ideas, echoing through the halls of academia and from the ink stained hands of writers and journalists, would lead to, as Buchanan calls it, the establishment of today’s politically correct catechism. ...
"The original strategy to destroy America, employed by the Frankfurt School, came from Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci who realized that in order to achieve a Socialist victory, cultural institutions would have to be infiltrated and subverted. Gramsci realized that America, steeped in traditions of freedom and liberty, would never to succumb to a frontal assault....
"The Frankfurt School would patent the familiar 'Critical Theory' which was accurately defined by a student as the 'essentially destructive criticism of all the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention, and conservatism.' Under Critical Theory, anything emanating from the west is to be libeled and attacked.... All blame for societal and economic ills are to be shifted to the west.
"The saturating drumbeat of Critical Theory would lead to 'Cultural Pessimism' which is when a person grows to loathe the society, which nurtured him and provided him unprecedented levels of success.... Adorno’s thesis is that anyone imbued with middle class, conservative, or Christian values is a racist and a fascist....
"The Frankfurt School introduced the idea of psychological conditioning as a means of changing the culture to fit their image.... To Adorno and his comrades, all Americans who refused to conform to the new morality were viewed as mentally ill and in need of treatment. The Soviet Union offers a clear example of this philosophy in action with it’s millions sent to gulags for 'mental' maladies such as 'anti-social' attitudes....
"Brandeis professor Herbert Marcuse, was the pied piper of the sixties as he fostered the development of, as Buchanan points out, 'radical youth, feminists, black militants, homosexuals, the alienated, the asocial, Third World revolutionaries, all the angry voices of the persecuted ‘victims’ of the West.' .... He calls for 'Repressive Tolerance' which means 'intolerance against movements from the right, and toleration of movements from the left.' When the left speaks of tolerance, this is what they mean.... --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Marxism [Jun 2006]
See also: social progress - Marxism - political correctness
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Cultural studies and social progress
Himself a collaborator of the prolific German artist Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin worked with Brecht on films, created radio plays, and attempted to utilize the media as organs of social progress. In the essay "The Artist as Producer" (1999 ), Benjamin argued that progressive cultural creators should "refunction" the apparatus of cultural production, turning theater and film, for instance, into a forum of political enlightenment and discussion rather than a medium of "culinary" audience pleasure. Both Brecht and Benjamin wrote radio plays and were interested in film as an instrument of progressive social change. In an essay on radio theory, Brecht anticipated the Internet in his call for reconstructing the apparatus of broadcasting from one-way transmission to a more interactive form of two-way, or multiple, communication (in Silberman 2000: 41ff.)-- a form first realized in CB radio and then electronically-mediated computer communication.
Moreover, Benjamin wished to promote a radical cultural and media politics concerned with the creation of alternative oppositional cultures. Yet he recognized that media such as film could have conservative effects. While he thought it was progressive that mass-produced works were losing their "aura," their magical force, and were opening cultural artifacts for more critical and political discussion, he recognized that film could create a new kind of ideological magic through the cult of celebrity and techniques like the close-up that fetishized certain stars or images via the technology of the cinema. Benjamin was thus one of the first radical cultural critics to look carefully at the form and technology of media culture in appraising its complex nature and effects. Moreover, he developed a unique approach to cultural history that is one of his most enduring legacies, constituting a micrological history of Paris in the 18th century, an uncompleted project that contains a wealth of material for study and reflection (see Benjamin 2000 and the study in Buck-Morss 1989).
Max Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno answered Benjamin's optimism in a highly influential analysis of the culture industry published in their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, which first appeared in 1948 and was translated into English in 1972. They argued that the system of cultural production dominated by film, radio broadcasting, newspapers, and magazines, was controlled by advertising and commercial imperatives, and served to create subservience to the system of consumer capitalism. While later critics pronounced their approach too manipulative, reductive, and elitist, it provides an important corrective to more populist approaches to media culture that downplay the way the media industries exert power over audiences and help produce thought and behavior that conforms to the existing society. --Douglas Kellner in Cultural Marxism and Cultural Studies via http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/culturalmarxism.pdf [Jun 2006]
See also: social progress - cultural studies - Douglas Kellner
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Oral, visual and written culture
Written vs. Visual Culture
Humans existed before the invention of writing some 5,000 years ago. In fact, tens of thousands of years ago, the earliest attempts to record messages depended on making pictures. Thus, visual culture preceded written culture.
Oral culture also came before written culture. In preliterate societies, the ancient lore and legends, as well as the knowledge necessary for carrying on human life and affairs, were passed on orally. In these societies, the most important roles, next to the king's or leader's at least, were those of the storytellers and those who passed on the lore of the culture through dance and picture making. --Lloyd Eby, 1999, In the Mind's Eye: Our Emerging Visual Culture via http://www.worldandi.com/public/1999/September/visual.cfm [Jun 2006]
See also: oral culture - visual culture - written culture
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: The Eye's Mind: Literary Modernism and Visual Culture (2001) - Karen Jacobs
The Eye's Mind: Literary Modernism and Visual Culture (2001) - Karen Jacobs [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The Eye's Mind significantly alters our understanding of modernist literature by showing how changing visual discourses, techniques, and technologies affected the novels of that period. In readings that bring philosophies of vision into dialogue with photography and film as well as the methods of observation used by the social sciences, Karen Jacobs identifies distinctly modernist kinds of observers and visual relationships.
This important reconception of modernism draws upon American, British, and French literary and extra-literary materials from the period 1900-1955. These texts share a sense of crisis about vision's capacity for violence and its inability to deliver reliable knowledge. Jacobs looks closely at the ways in which historical understandings of race and gender inflected visual relations in the modernist novel. She shows how modernist writers, increasingly aware of the body behind the neutral lens of the observer, used diverse strategies to displace embodiment onto those "others" historically perceived as cultural bodies in order to reimagine for themselves or their characters a "purified" gaze.
The Eye's Mind addresses works by such high modernists as Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, and (more distantly) Ralph Ellison and Maurice Blanchot, as well as those by Henry James, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nathanael West which have been tentatively placed in the modernist canon although they forgo the full-blown experimental techniques often seen as synonymous with literary modernism. Jacobs reframes fundamental debates about modernist aesthetic practices by demonstrating how much those practices are indebted to the changing visual cultures of the twentieth century.
See also: visual culture - Modernist literature - vision
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (1994) - Martin Jay
Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (1994) - Martin Jay [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Long considered "the noblest of the senses," vision has increasingly come under critical scrutiny by a wide range of thinkers who question its dominance in Western culture. These critics of vision, especially prominent in twentieth-century France, have challenged its allegedly superior capacity to provide access to the world. They have also criticized its supposed complicity with political and social oppression through the promulgation of spectacle and surveillance.
Martin Jay turns to this discourse surrounding vision and explores its often contradictory implications in the work of such influential figures as Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Guy Debord, Luce Irigaray, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida. Jay begins with a discussion of the theory of vision from Plato to Descartes, then considers its role in the French Enlightenment before turning to its status in the culture of modernity. From consideration of French Impressionism to analysis of Georges Bataille and the Surrealists, Roland Barthes's writings on photography, and the film theory of Christian Metz, Jay provides lucid and fair-minded accounts of thinkers and ideas widely known for their difficulty.
His book examines the myriad links between the interrogation of vision and the pervasive antihumanist, antimodernist, and counter-enlightenment tenor of much recent French thought. Refusing, however, to defend the dominant visual order, he calls instead for a plurality of "scopic regimes." Certain to generate controversy and discussion throughout the humanities and social sciences, Downcast Eyes will consolidate Jay's reputation as one of today's premier cultural and intellectual historians.
See also: Modernism - vision
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision (1993) - David Michael Levin (Editor)
Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision (1993) - David Michael Levin (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
This collection of original essays by preeminent interpreters of continental philosophy explores the question of whether Western thought and culture have been dominated by a vision-centered paradigm of knowledge, ethics, and power. It focuses on the character of vision in modern philosophy and on arguments for and against the view that contemporary life and thought are distinctively "ocularcentric." The authors examine these ideas in the context of the history of philosophy and consider the character of visual discourse in the writings of Plato, Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Benjamin, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Wittgenstein, and Habermas. With essays on television, the visual arts, and feminism, the book will interest readers in cultural studies, gender studies, and art history as well as philosophers.
See also: Modernism - vision
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Streetwalking the Metropolis : Women, the City, and Modernity (2000) - Deborah L. Parsons
Streetwalking the Metropolis : Women, the City, and Modernity (2000) - Deborah L. Parsons [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Can there be a flaneuse, and what form might she take? This is the central question of Streetwalking the Metropolis, an important contribution to ongoing debates on the city and modernity in which Deborah Parsons re-draws the gendered map of urban modernism. Assessing the cultural and literary history of the concept of the flaneur, the urban observer/writer traditionally gendered as masculine, the author advances critical space for the discussion of a female 'flaneuse', focused around a range of women writers from the 1880's to World War Two. Cutting across period boundaries, this wide-ranging study offers stimulating accounts of works by writers including Amy Levy, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, Rosamund Lehmann, Jean Rhys, Janet Flanner, Djuna Barnes, Anais Nin, Elizabeth Bowen and Doris Lessing, highlighting women's changing relationship with the social and psychic spaces of the city, and drawing attention to the ways in which the perceptions and experience street are translated into the dynamics of literary texts.
See also: Modernism - flaneur
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century (1990) - Jonathan Crary
Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century (1990) - Jonathan Crary [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Jonathan Crary's Techniques of the Observer provides a dramatically new perspective on the visual culture of the nineteenth century, reassessing problems of both visual modernism and social modernity. This analysis of the historical formation of the observer is a compelling account of the prehistory of the society of the spectacle."
About the Author
Jonathan Crary is Professor of Art History at Columbia University. A founding editor of Zone Books, he is the author of Techniques of the Observer (MIT Press, 1990) and coeditor of Incorporations (Zone Books, 1992). He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Getty, Mellon, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
See also: visual culture - 1800s
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema (2000) - Gregory Flaxman (Editor)
The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema (2000) - Gregory Flaxman (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
See also: cinema - film theory - Gilles Deleuze - brain
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Cinematic Modernism : Modernist Poetry and Film (2005) - Susan McCabe
Cinematic Modernism : Modernist Poetry and Film (2005) - Susan McCabe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Susan McCabe juxtaposes the work of four American modernist poets with the techniques and themes of early twentieth-century European avant-garde films. The historical experience of World War One and its aftermath of broken and shocked bodies shaped a preoccupation with fragmentation in both film and literature. Film, montage and camera work provided poets with a vocabulary through which to explore and refashion modern physical and metaphoric categories of the body, including the hysteric, automaton, bisexual and femme fatale. This innovative study explores the impact of new cinematic modes of representation on the poetry of Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, H. D., and Marianne Moore. Cinematic Modernism links the study of literary forms with film studies, visual culture, gender studies and psychoanalysis to expand the usual parameters of literary modernism.
About the Author
Susan McCabe is Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Product Details
See also: avant-garde film - modernist literature - abstract film
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: The Trash Phenomenon: Contemporary Literature, Popular Culture, and the Making of the American Century (2003) - Stacey Michele Olster
The Trash Phenomenon: Contemporary Literature, Popular Culture, and the Making of the American Century (2003) - Stacey Michele Olster [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The Trash Phenomenon looks at how writers of the late twentieth century not only have integrated the events, artifacts, and theories of popular culture into their works but also have used those works as windows into popular culture's role in the process of nation building. Taking her cue from Donald Barthelme's 1967 portrayal of popular culture as "trash" and Don DeLillo's 1997 description of it as a subversive "people's history," Stacey Olster explores how literature recycles American popular culture so as to change the nationalistic imperative behind its inception.
The Trash Phenomenon begins with a look at the mass media's role in the United States' emergence as the twentieth century's dominant power. Olster discusses the works of three authors who collectively span the century bounded by the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Persian Gulf War (1991): Gore Vidal's American Chronicle series, John Updike's Rabbit tetralogy, and Larry Beinhart's American Hero. Olster then turns her attention to three non-American writers whose works explore the imperial sway of American popular culture on their nation's value systems: hierarchical class structure in Dennis Potter's England, Peronism in Manuel Puig's Argentina, and Nihonjinron consensus in Haruki Murakami's Japan.
Finally, Olster returns to American literature to look at the contemporary media spectacle and the representative figure as potential sources of national consolidation after November 1963. Olster first focuses on autobiographical, historical, and fictional accounts of three spectacles in which the formulae of popular culture are shown to bypass differences of class, gender, and race: the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Scarsdale Diet Doctor murder, and the O. J. Simpson trial. She concludes with some thoughts about the nature of American consolidation after 9/11. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Publisher
Trash and recycling as metaphors for popular culture's role in nation building. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
See also: trash - popular culture
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Modernism in the Magazines
Modernism began in the magazines. Oh, I know, it began in other places as well, including lecture halls, opera houses, art galleries, and even books, but magazines were so central to modernism that it is hard to imagine this movement in literature and the arts without them. It is hard because modernism was a self-conscious movement, in which works of art and literature appeared together with manifestos and critical exegeses. Modernism can almost be defined as those visual and verbal texts that need manifestos and exegeses. The magazines provided a cultural space where the new forms of literature and visual art could appear side by side, and where artists, impresarios, critics, and philosophers could address one another directly, with a segment of the public listening in on those conversations about what kind of visual, verbal, and musical works were best suited for the modern world. And this was modernism. These conversations and these works became what we think of as "modernist" art and literature. But it did not happen simply.
We are all aware, I assume, of the importance of magazines to the emergence of literary modernism--especially those magazines we call "little," which means something like "financed on a shoestring and reaching a tiny audience for a short period of time." In the case of James Joyce, for example, he first published fiction in an agricultural magazine called The Irish Homestead, edited by the poet George Russell, known as AE, and first published poetry in the Irish little magazine, Dana, edited by W. K. McGee, under his pen name, John Eglinton. Later, both of these editors appeared as characters in Ulysses. Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was serialized in The Egoist. --http://orage.mjp.brown.edu:16080/exhibit/downloads/ModMag.pdf [Jun 2006]
See also: modernist literature - literary magazine - High Modernism
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity (2005) - Aaron Jaffe
Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity (2005) - Aaron Jaffe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Notice how Marilyn Monroe is reading Ulysses by Joyce.
Aaron Jaffe investigates the relationship between two phenomena that arrived on the historical stage in the first decades of the twentieth century: modernist literature and modern celebrity culture. Jaffe systematically traces and theorizes the deeper dependencies between these two influential forms of cultural value. He examines the paradox that modernist authors, while rejecting mass culture in favor of elite cultural forms, reflected the economy of celebrity culture in their strategies for creating a market for their work. Through collaboration, networking, reviewing and editing each other's works, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, among others, constructed their literary reputations and publicized the project of modernism. Jaffe uses substantial archival research to show how literary fame was made by exploiting the very market forces that modernists claimed to reject. This innovative study also illuminates the cultural impact and continued relevance of the modernist project.
See also: cult of personality - Modernism
2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism (2002) - Laura Catherine Frost
Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism (2002) - Laura Catherine Frost [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Jung hardly went far enough when he said: "Hitler is the unconscious of every German"; he comes uncomfortably near to being the unconscious of most of us. --W. H. Auden
Sexualized images of fascism are commonly assumed to be the creation of postwar and postmodern culture: How could anyone who had lived through fascism have such a mistaken understanding of it?
In her genuinely thought-provoking study Laura Frost chooses to examine Modernist writers who failed to succumb to fascist ideology, yet produced "fictions of eroticized fascism." The study is provocative and daring in the sense that there is an almost sheerly thematic link between the chosen authors, apart from the fact that they have all been described as belonging to literary Modernism (some cases are evident in this respect and some are slightly debatable). The "pannational project" places authors such as D. H. Lawrence, Georges Bataille, Hans Bellmer, Vercors (Jean Bruller), Jean Genet, Isherwood, Katherine Burdekin, Woolf, Duras and Plath under one rubric. The author postulates a line of continuity among these authors, which assumption is not always easily tenable, but the book reads coherently as well as thoroughgoing. --http://www.womenwriters.net/winter2003/Sex_Drives.htm [Jun 2006]
Salvador Dalì's autobiography confesses that "Hitler turned me on in the highest," while Sylvia Plath maintains that "every woman adores a Fascist." Susan Sontag's famous observation that art reveals the seamier side of fascism in bondage, discipline, and sexual deviance would certainly appear to be true in modernist and postwar literary texts. How do we account for eroticized representations of fascism in anti-fascist literature, for sexual desire that escapes the bounds of politics?
Laura Frost advances a compelling reading of works by D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet, Georges Bataille, Marguerite Duras, and Sylvia Plath, paying special attention to undercurrents of enthrallment with tyrants, uniforms, and domination. She argues that the first generation of writers raised within psychoanalytic discourse found in fascism the libidinal unconscious through which to fantasize acts--including sadomasochism and homosexuality--not permitted in a democratic conception of sexuality without power relations. By delineating democracy's investment in a sexually transgressive fascism, an investment that persists to this day, Frost demonstrates how politics enters into fantasy. This provocative and closely-argued book offers both a fresh contribution to modernist literature and a theorization of fantasy. --http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=3715 [Jun 2006]
- Introduction “Fascinating Fascism”
- Fascism and Sadomasochism: The Origins of an Erotics
- The Libidinal Politics of D. H. Lawrence’s “Leadership Novels”
- The Surreal Swastikas of Georges Bataille and Hans Bellmer
- “Every woman adores a Fascist”: Marguerite Duras, Sylvia Plath, and Feminist Visions of Fascism
- Beauty and the Boche: Propaganda and the Sexualized Enemy in Vercors’s Silence of the Sea
- Horizontal Treason: Jean Genet’s Funeral Rites
See also: The Night Porter (1974) - Liliana Cavan - fantasy - deviant Modernism - modernist literature - fascism - eros - libido
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