Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Spring 2004

Volume 30 Issue 3
    • 493Julia Kristeva
    • The provocative hyperbole of the term genius was the guiding idea that helped me to understand how these three twentieth‐century women were able to surpass themselves in their respective fields (political philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literature) so as to encourage each reader to surpass him‐ or herself in a similar way, in following the struggles of Arendt, Klein, and Colette and in working on his or her own. I’m convinced that the highest realization of human rights, and of women’s rights, is none other than the Scotist ideal that we are now, at this moment in history, in a position to achieve: a particular attention paid to the ecceitas, to the flourishing of the individual in his or her uniqueness, to what makes an individual who he or she is and raises him or her above ordinariness—genius being the most complex, the most appealing, and the most fruitful form of this uniqueness at a particular moment in history and, given that it is so, the form that is lasting and universal.

      See also: Julia Kristeva, A European in China  ·  Calvin Bedient, Kristeva and Poetry as Shattered Signification

      Julia Kristeva is a professor of the Institut Universitaire de France and member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris. She is a member of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Académie Universelle des Cultures. All her works have been translated into English, including The Feminine Genius trilogy: volume 1, Hannah Arendt; volume 2, Melanie Klein; and volume 3, Colette. This essay is taken from the general conclusion of that work.

    • 505Carolyn Abbate
    • What does it mean to write about performed music? About an opera live and unfolding in time and not an operatic work? Shouldn’t this be what we do, since we love music for its reality, for voices and sounds that linger long after they are no longer there? Love is not based on great works as unperformed abstractions or even as subtended by an imagined or hypothetical performance. But would considering actual performances simply involve concert or record reviews? And would musicology—which generally bypasses performance, seeking meanings or formal designs in the immortal musical work itself—find itself a wallflower at the ball?

      More than forty years ago, Vladimir Jankélévitch made what is still one of the most passionate philosophical arguments for performance, insisting that real music is music that exists in time, the material acoustic phenomenon. Metaphysical mania encourages us to retreat from real music to the abstraction of the work and, furthermore, always to see, as he put it, “something else,” something behind or beyond or next to this mental object.

      See also: Jeffrey T. Nealon, RealFeel: Banality, Fatality, and Meaning in Kenneth Goldsmith's The Weather.

      Carolyn Abbate is professor of music at Princeton University. She is the author of Unsung Voices (1991), published in French as Voix hors chant (2004), and of In Search of Opera (2001); she is also translator of Vladimir Jankélévitch’s Music and the Ineffable (2003). Most recently, she worked as dramaturg on the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Don Giovanni, which premiered in March 2004.

    • 557Mark Seltzer
    • True crime is one of the popular genres of the pathological public sphere. It posits stranger intimacy and vicarious violation as models of sociality. This might be described as a social tie on the model of referred pain. And, more exactly, in that true crime is crime fact that looks like crime fiction, it marks, or irritates, the distinction between real and fictional reality, holding steadily visible that uncertain region between truth and falsity where belief resides (what we can call, on the model of referred pain, referred belief). True crime is thus part of our contemporary wound culture: a culture—or, at the least, cult—of commiseration. If we cannot gather together in the face of anything other than crime, violence, terror, trauma, and the wound, at least we can commiserate.

      See also: Mark Seltzer, Parlor Games: The Apriorization of the Media  ·  Mark McGurl,  The Program Era: Pluralisms of Postwar American Fiction

      Mark Seltzer is Evan Frankel Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. His most recent books are Bodies and Machines (1992) and Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture (1998). The present essay is part of a forthcoming book, True Crime.

    • 584Mark Hansen
    • In this paper, I propose to explore the technical expansion of self‐affection as it has been variantly configured in recent new media art and cultural theory. As we shall see, what is at stake in such expansion is the givenness of time itself, that is, the content of self‐affection. Insofar as new media art invests in the bodily experience of affectivity, intensifying it and enlarging its scope, it might be said to embody time consciousness and, indeed, to embody the being of time itself. Following along this shift from abstract time consciousness to embodied affectivity, we will find ourselves in a position to fathom the apparent paradox of contemporary subjectivity: the fact that technical expansion of self‐affection allows for a fuller and more intense experience of subjectivity, that, in short, technology allows for a closer relationship to ourselves, for a more intimate experience of the very vitality that forms the core of our being, our constitutive incompleteness, our mortal finitude.

      See also: Ruth Leys, The Turn to Affect: A Critique

      Mark Hansen teaches in the English department at Princeton University. He is the author of Embodying Technesis: Technology beyond Writing (2000), New Philosophy for New Media (2004), and Bodies in Code (forthcoming). He is currently at work on Becoming‐Human, an ethics of the posthuman, and Fiction after Television, a study of the novel in the age of digital convergence.

    • 627Clark Lunberry
    • Growing up in Rutherford, New Jersey, in the 1940s, Robert Smithson would periodically visit his pediatrician, William Carlos Williams, who had his home and medical practice across town at Nine Ridge Road. There were, no doubt, the routine checkups, the childhood ailments and inoculations, the doctor looking into the mouth, the ears, the eyes of the little boy. Many years later, in 1958—Williams by then retired and Smithson a young artist—they would once again meet informally at the poet’s home.1 Nearing the end of his long life, Williams—no longer practicing medicine—was nonetheless still very much practicing poetry, laboring away at his never‐ending Paterson, the epic, multivolume poem of the nearby city begun decades earlier. The young Smithson, on the other hand, was at the beginning of what would be his unforeseeably short life.

      · 1. Smithson visited Williams that day with the poet Irving Layton to discuss an introduction that Williams had agreed to write for a collection of Layton’s poems.

      See also: Ron Graziani, Robert Smithson’s Picturable Situation: Blasted Landscapes from the 1960s

      Clark Lunberry is an assistant professor in the department of English at the University of North Florida. He has published several articles on the interrelations of the arts and literature as well as a book of poems, StonePoems (1999). He is now completing a book manuscript on silence/absence in the arts.

    • 654Dipesh Chakrabarty
    • It seems plausible that Bengali language and literature do not possess the cultural capital they once did in the state of West Bengal. The magazine Desh, a periodical that for long has attempted to capture the cultural essence of the literary‐minded sections of the Bengali middle classes—the so‐called bhadralok—suddenly changed a few years ago from being a weekly to a biweekly publication. Why? I asked another Bengali friend who seemed informed on these matters. I was told that the readership for the magazine was a declining and ageing readership. Younger people did not read the magazine, not in the same numbers anyway.

      See also: Dipesh Chakrabarty, Climate and Capital: On Conjoined Histories  ·  Dipesh Chakrabarty, Where Is the Now?

      Dipesh Chakrabarty is Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and a coeditor of Critical Inquiry. His latest book is Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (2002).