Above all Barthes’s central distinction between what he calls the studium and the punctum has been enthusiastically taken up by countless critics and theorists, who almost without exception have found in it principally a contrast between the ostensible subject of a given photograph, or rather the general basis of that subject’s presumed interest for an average viewer (the studium), and whatever that photograph may contain that engages and—Barthes’s verbs—“pricks” or “wounds” or “bruises” a particular viewer’s subjectivity in a way that makes the photograph in question singularly arresting to him or her (from here on out I shall stay with him). This isn’t wrong—it is pretty much what Barthes explicitly states—but I want to suggest that placing all the emphasis, as is usually done, on the viewer’s purely subjective response to the punctum ends up missing Barthes’s central thought or, at any rate, failing to grasp what ultimately is at stake in his central distinction. A further question, which will arise more than once in what follows, is to what extent Barthes himself was aware of the ultimate implications of his own argument.
Michael Fried is J. R. Herbert Boone Professor of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. His recent books include Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment in Nineteenth‐Century Berlin and The Next Bend in the Road (poems). He was a recipient of the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004.
My topic is authenticity in or perhaps as painting, not the authenticity of paintings; I know next to nothing about the problem of verifying claims of authorship. I am interested in another kind of genuineness and fraudulence, the kind at issue when we say of a person that he or she is false, not genuine, inauthentic, lacks integrity, and, especially when we say he or she is playing to the crowd, playing for effect, or is a poseur. These are not quite moral distinctions (no one has a duty to be authentic), but they are robustly normative appraisals, applicable even when such falseness is not a case of straight hypocrisy but of lack of self‐knowledge or of self‐deceit. (A person can be quite sincere and not realize the extent of her submission to the other’s expectations and demands.) This sort of appraisal also has a long history in post‐Rousseauist reflections on the dangers of uniquely modern forms of social dependence, and they are prominent worries in the modern novel.
Robert Pippin is the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, the department of philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books on German idealism, including Kant’s Theory of Form; Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self‐Consciousness; and Modernism as a Philosophical Problem. His last book was Henry James and Modern Moral Life. A collection of his recent essays in German, Die Verwirklichung der Freiheit, will appear in 2005, as will The Persistence of Subjectivity: On the Kantian Aftermath. He is the winner of the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities and was recently a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Let me begin with a puzzle: why are readers with a promiscuous appetite for contemporary fiction—colleagues, students, friends, myself—by and large not drawn to the “interactive” fictional texts one finds on the web and in other electronic form? Shrewd critics have, after all, demonstrated that electronic fiction (also called hyperfiction) offers some of what is most adventurous, playful, and innovative in contemporary writing, indeed, that the very structure of the form encodes many of the features that recent theoreticians of literature have most prized. I would like to be convinced by their arguments, yet in gamely clicking my way through screens I have rarely felt the singular delight that keeps returning many of us to literature, indeed, to art in general—the sense that someone is playing with our minds and our senses in a way that, for reasons not wholly apparent, we enjoy or admire. Why?
Michel Chaouli assistant professor of German at Indiana University, is the author of The Laboratory of Poetry: Chemistry and Poetics in the Work of Friedrich Schlegel (2002). He is at work on a book, provisionally called The Skin of Things: Aesthetics and the Anthropomorphic Imagination.
On 8 March 1929, Germany’s state postal agency presented its first wireless television broadcast. The medium‐wave transmitter at Berlin‐Witzleben relayed a number of moving and still images—a man smoking, a pair of pliers opening and closing, letters of the alphabet—that were received in various parts of the city. The picture quality was poor. Because the transmitted images consisted of just thirty lines, only close‐ups were recognizable on the tiny four‐square‐inch screens. In addition, technical limitations permitted the transmission of only twelve‐and‐a‐half images per second. The images appearing on viewers’ screens therefore flickered considerably. Nonetheless, the first television broadcast in Germany appeared promising.
Stefan Andriopoulos is an assistant professor in the department of Germanic languages at Columbia University. He is the author of Besessene Körper: Hypnose, Körperschaften, und die Erfindung des Kinos (2000), now being translated as Possessed: Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema. His forthcoming work is tentatively entitled Ghostly Visions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media.
On 2 July 1881, President James A. Garfield was shot in the back by Charles Guiteau at a Washington, D.C., train station. Usually tagged a disappointed office‐seeker, Guiteau was in fact a madman who had come to identify with a disgruntled wing of the Republican party after his deranged fantasies of winning a post from the new administration had come to nothing. Far from dying of his wound immediately, the president lingered for two and a half excruciating months, probably killed less by the bullet itself than by his doctors’ unsanitary attempts to locate it in his midsection. While the president lived, the nation kept up with every response of his ailing body; courtesy of transcontinental telegraphy, daily reports on his temperature, diet, and emissions became a staple of national life; and instant communication revealed its ability to cover a story, or create one, even when nothing was happening. When Garfield died, accounts of his death proclaimed, as with one voice, a shared paroxysm of grief such as the world had never known.
Richard Menke is an assistant professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is at work on a book about fictional realism and Victorian information systems.
Half a century later one hesitates to describe the so‐called globalization that is taking place under our eyes as an “economic leveling process.” On the other hand, the “cultural leveling,” the erasure of cultural specificities, which Auerbach looked at with growing worry, is an unquestionable reality, although difficult to grasp. In an essay published in 1952, Auerbach remarked that Goethe’s concept of Weltliteratur had become increasingly inadequate to our endlessly expanding gaze. How can a philologist from a single cultural tradition approach a world in which so many languages and so many cultural traditions interact?
Carlo Ginzburg is Franklin D. Murphy Professor of Italian Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books include The Cheese and the Worms (1980), Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method (1989), Ecstasies (1990), History, Rhetoric, and Proof (1999), No Island Is an Island (2000), and Wooden Eyes (2001).
Almost twenty‐five years ago, I was returning from my first visit to the United States, where I attended a conference on deconstruction at Stony Brook and then spent some time as a guest in the Telluride House at Cornell. I was an undergraduate student of comparative literature at Belgrade University, and my trip was on a very tight budget. Xeroxing documents was still expensive at the time, and I had copied only two texts, the “original” copies of which I have to this day. They were the first version of J. Hillis Miller’s essay “The Critic as Host,” published in Critical Inquiry, and Jacques Derrida’s “Living On/Border Lines.” There have been many trips since where I was accompanied by one or the other text by J. Hillis Miller and Jacques Derrida, but none has left as big an impression on my entire life as these texts. And no other journal has contributed to my theoretical formation as much as Critical Inquiry.
See also: J. Hillis Miller, The Critic as Host
Dragan Kujundzic teaches in the department of English and comparative literature at the University of California at Irvine, where he also serves as the director of Russian language study. He is the author, among other edited volumes and monographs, of Choraographies for Jacques Derrida on July 15, 2000. His Tongue/Language in Heat (Vospalyonnyi iazyk) was published in Moscow in 2003.
The one who says, “je,” “I” is responsible for it here, as always. Moreover, responsibility always seems to return to someone who says, “je,” “I.” This is how what is called law and perhaps justice work. This is how one understands the words of law, right, and justice in the culture where our tradition and language draw their breath. Everything in this culture that acts, thinks, and speaks intentionally, everything that does something, and especially with words, in the perfomative mode, must be signed, implicitly or explicitly, by a responsible je, I. Austin stresses the point: the condition of the pure performative, the temporal modality of the felicitous and serious performative, is the present. At least implicitly. But it is also the full presence to itself of a first person, thus of what is called in French a je. In other words, of what you call an I, thereby making the j of the je disappear.
Jacques Derrida was director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine.
A recent popular romance novel by Danielle Steele is entitled The Kiss. The cover blurb says: “a single shattering moment can change lives forever.” In Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, almost the last thing that happens is Caspar Goodwood’s kiss of Isabel. The last thing of all is Caspar’s discovery from Henrietta Stackpole that his kiss has precipitated Isabel’s decision to return to Rome and to her despicable husband. Caspar averts himself to hide his dismay at this news. He then walks away with Henrietta. This completes the series of turnings that are executed at the end of the novel, most saliently by Isabel. My goal is to account for Caspar’s kiss. I want to read the narrator’s account of it and of its effect on Isabel Archer, now Mrs. Osmond. What does it mean to read a kiss?
J. Hillis Miller taught for many years at the Johns Hopkins University and then at Yale University before going to the University of California at Irvine in 1986 where he is now UCI Distinguished Research Professor. His most recent books are Others (2001), Speech Acts in Literature (2002), and On Literature (2002). He is at work on a book on speech acts in the novels and stories of Henry James. A J. Hillis Miller Reader is forthcoming.
Two poems by Michael Fried were written in memory of Jacques Derrida, who died 8 October 2004.