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Doom Patrols by Steven Shaviro

postmodernism - fiction - theory - Steven Shaviro

Steven Shaviro

Doom Patrols


This book is a theoretical fiction about postmodernism. A theoretical fiction, 
because I treat discursive ideas and arguments in a way analogous to how a 
novelist treats characters and events. About postmodernism, because the term 
seems unavoidable in recent discussions of contemporary culture. Postmodernism 
is not a theoretical option or a stylistic choice; it is the very air we 
breathe. We are postmodern whether we like it or not, and whether we are aware 
of it or not. For this very reason, the word postmodernism isn't explicitly 
defined anywhere in my text. Its meaning is its use: or better, its multiple and 
contradictory uses, as these emerge gradually in the course of the book.

My approach to postmodernism is informed by the theorists I have read and 
written about in previous books: Bataille, Blanchot, and Deleuze and Guattari. 
But also by Marshall McLuhan and by Andy Warhol, whom I have come to regard as 
the most significant North American theorists of postmodernism, even if neither 
of them ever used the term. Kathy Acker and William Burroughs, exemplary 
postmodern thinkers by virtue of their literary fictions, are frequently present 
in these pages as well. And I have also been attentive to recent developments in 
biology, inspired by the neo-Darwinism of Richard Dawkins and by the late Morse 
Peckham's provocatively Darwinian approach to the study of culture. Working in 
the trace of all these figures, I do not propose anything like a balanced and 
well-grounded critique of postmodern culture. To do so would be to assert my own 
separation from the phenomena under discussion; but this is a claim that I find 
utterly unacceptable. I try, instead, to be as timely as possible; and also 
perhaps a bit untimely, in the sense that Deleuze has usefully rescued from 
Nietzsche. It's a matter of learning how to live and feel differently; or more 
accurately, of articulating ways in which we already are living and feeling 
differently, whether we like it or not. It's for this reason that I've used the 
pronoun we rather freely throughout the book, at the risk of seeming to impose a 
false solidarity upon the reader. All becomings are multiple, as Deleuze and 
Guattari insist; the we is one marker of this perpetual divergence. There are 
others; the book shifts frequently between the first, second, and third 
persons, and at times makes use as well of the Spivak gender-neutral third 
person singular pronouns e, em, and eir. --Steven Shaviro via http://shaviro.com/Doom/index.html [2003]

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