Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Spring 2008

Volume 34 Issue 3
    • 393Nancy Fraser
    • Of course, it is doubtful that justice discourse is ever fully normal in the sense just described. There may well be no real-world context in which public debates about justice remain wholly within the bounds set by a given set of constitutive assumptions. And we may never encounter a case in which every participant shares every assumption. Whenever a situation approaching normality does appear, moreover, one may well suspect that it rests on the suppression or marginalization of those who dissent from the reigning consensus.

      See also: Nancy Fraser, Sex, Lies, and the Public Sphere: Some Reflections on the Confirmation of Clarence Thomas  ·  Jacques Derrida, "Justices"

      Nancy Fraser is the Henry and Louise A. Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research. Her books include Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange with Axel Honneth (2003); Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the ‘Postsocialist’ Condition (1997); Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange with Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, and Drucilla Cornell (1994); and Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (1989). Two new books will appear in fall 2008: Scales of Justice: Re-imaging Political Space for a Globalizing World and Adding Insult to Injury: Debating Redistribution, Recognition, and Representation.

    • 423Peter Schwenger
    • Neither perception nor representation, each of which is linked to things in the world, hypnagogia is no more adequately accounted for as “mental images,” from which it is distinguished by the extraordinary clarity of what is sensed as appearing before the eyes. Hallucination, that state in which a subjective image is experienced as an external reality, might be a more adequate category—except that in hypnagogia the real, as Blanchot puts it, enters an “equivocal realm,” one in which the images are viewed as real enough, but not so real that one imagines any kind of concrete reality behind them (SL, p. 262). Sartre admits this paradox: “I really do see something, but what I see is nothing. This is the reason why this chained consciousness takes the form of an image: because it does not reach its own end” (PI,p. 70).

      See also: Peter Schwenger, Corpsing the Image  ·  Peter Schwenger, The Masculine Mode  ·  Peter Schwenger, Words and the Murder of the Thing

      Peter Schwenger is a professor of English at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His most recent book is The Tears of Things: Melancholy and Physical Objects (2006). “Writing Hypnagogia” is a section of a longer work on states between waking and dreaming and their relation to literature.

    • 440Robert Morris
    • In some way unclear to me, the coefficient of entertainment as a norm is assumed to be resistance to the dominant culture. I suspect this belief is less delusion than a mantra of group solidarity. A skeptical, vaguely populist, anti-elitist, left-liberal attitude is the badge of entry here. The political or critical issues, often obliquely referenced—be these issues of identity, race, ethnicity, environment, sexuality, power, ecology, or hegemony—do not of course originate with contemporary art. All these originate as discourses within the academy. Hence a certain expectedness, even a kind of déjà vu, hovers over the iconography of the whole of this art production.

      See also: Robert Morris, Blind Time VI, Moral Blinds, Moral Limit  ·  Robert Morris, Size Matters  ·  Robert Morris, Professional Rules

      Robert Morris is Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, NYC. His most recent book is Have I Reasons, Work and Writings, 1993–2007 (2008).

    • 468Bruce Holsinger
    • Things, it seems, have come full circle, and surely no amount of academic hand-wringing and peer-reviewed correction will be capable of disengaging these strange new medieval worlds from the metaphorical economies that now define them. Indeed, the 9/11 premodern radically situates our own field's longstanding and ongoing critical work on the ideological stakes of temporality, historicity, and periodization by exposing the guiding axioms of this work—that the past inhabits the present, that any argument over the past is at heart a political claim on the present, that collective memory and trauma complicate linear models of temporality, that the writing of history is inevitably a narrative production, or even that, in Bruno Latour's newly resonant phrase, “we have never been modern”—as symptomatic of the globalizing rhetoric of modernity. How can any theoretical interrogation of modernity and its discontents hope to get critical purchase on a social formation in which its claims have been rendered meaningless in their ubiquity? By the all-consuming recursivity of the apocalyptic, such propositions are now exposed as belated tautologies—not just true on their faces, but integral parts of the language of public policy as well as the absorbed substance of journalistic and political rhetoric.

      See also: W.J.T. Mitchell, Poetic Justice: 9-11 to Now  ·  Timothy Brennan, The Empire's New Clothes

      Bruce Holsinger is professor of English and music and chair of the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia. His books include Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture, which won the MLA's Prize for a First Book in 2001 and the John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America; The Premodern Condition: Medievalism and the Making of Theory(2005); and Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror(2007).

    • 491Owen Ware
    • As defined by Butler, what makes a speech act violent is its exploitation of the subject's prior openness to language. For this reason I will propose that a form of language just as injurious as hate is the language of love, although the risk of injury here often concerns the speaker, not the addressee. Love and its language can shatter us—to borrow Jean-Luc Nancy's expression. To say, “I love you” is to lose control over the judgments and reflections of the I. It is, as Nancy observes, “a declaration where ‘I’ is posed only by being exposed to ‘you.’”2 Now we might ask, What is the force of “I love you”? Is it, to employ J. L. Austin's terms, constative or performative? Does it describe one's inner passion? Or does the utterance itself somehow bring that passion into being? These are difficult questions. I will suggest, by turns, that love speech is a kind of performative, and what it performs is the speaker's openness to the other. While hate speech reinforces the speaker's position of power by degrading the other, love speech brings us in touch with our inherent weakness to language, to its prior power, and thereby closer to the other to whom we expose and express ourselves in love.

      · 2. Jean-Luc Nancy, “Shattered Love” (1990), trans. Lisa Garbus and Simona Sawhney, A Finite Thinking, trans. Jonathan Derbyshire, ed. Simon Sparks (Stanford, Calif., 2003), p. 253; hereafter abbreviated “SL.”

      See also: David Nirenberg, The Politics of Love and its Enemies  ·  Gary Saul Morson, Tolstoy's Absolute Language

      Owen Ware is a PhD student in philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is currently researching issues of moral motivation, skepticism, and self-knowledge in Kant and his immediate successors.

    • 509Garrett Stewart
    • Where narratology aspires to a science of transmedial procedures, narratography settles upon the immanent workings of a given medium and, in probing the conditioning operations of graphophonemic or photomechanical inscription, for instance, sets its sights in turn on formative constraints and discrepancies. Narratology abstracts from a given plot, in verbal or cinematic print, to its generalizable modalities. Honing in on the transacted space between genre and its specific phrasal or optical materialization, narratography focuses its attention on the mediate—which is to say, in narrative literature, on those linguistic effects that stand for represented action, of course, but that at the same time stand between it and any readerly comprehension.

      See also: Seymour Chatman, What Novels Can Do That Films Can't (And Vice Versa)  ·  Michael Riffaterre, Intertextual Representation: On Mimesis as Interpretive Discourse

      The James O. Freedman Professor of Letters at the University of Iowa, Garrett Stewart is the author most recently of The Look of Reading: Book, Painting, Text (2006) and Framed Time: Toward a Postfilmic Cinema (2007). The present essay is drawn from the opening chapter of a book he is completing on the structural violence of Victorian fiction.

    • 543Kate McLoughlin
    • The main speakers in this essay are British, Czech, American, and German: Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Duff Cooper, Storm Jameson, Edouard Beneš, Hubert Ripka, Dorothy Thompson, Helen Kirkpatrick, Edgar Mowrer, and Adolf Hitler. Their discourses reveal that, in the course of events leading up to the signing of the accord, politics became a matter of style and style became political. More specifically, a confrontation arose between a way of speaking associated by some with certain ‘civilised’ values and another way which was the destruction of those values. Shrieking, ranting, nostalgic, elegiac, prophetic, calm, reasoning, strong, emotional, temperate: all these modulations sounded in a flurry of textual exchanges.

      See also: Paul K. Saint-Amour, On the Partiality of Total War

      Kate McLoughlin is a lecturer in English literature at the University of Glasgow. She is the author of Martha Gellhorn: The War Writer in the Field and in the Text (2007) and editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to War Writing. She is currently working on a monograph, Authoring War, which examines literary responses to the challenges of representing conflict from the Iliad to Iraq.

    • 563Fredric Jameson
    • But perhaps it is time, if cynical reason is somehow historically unavoidable, for a Utopian reading of it. Some progress has surely been achieved by the cynical elimination of idealistic illusions about human nature, the disabused acknowledgement of a universal motivation by interest, the definitive abandonment of pious hopes for altruism in human behavior and in particular of philanthropy in economic matters. On the individual level, this disillusionment has made for a more complex appreciation of human action rather than the simplifications of this or that cynical reductionism. This is to say that cynical reason forces us into a more complicated conception of interest than we were obliged to have in an idealist or spiritualist age and not least into rethinking collective interest in new ways (that also reinvigorate the older notions of ideology).

      Fredric Jameson is William A. Lane, Jr., Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies at Duke University and director of the Institute for Critical Theory. His most recent books are Archaeologies of the Future (2006), The Modernist Papers (2007), and Violences of the Dialectic (forthcoming), along with a collection of interviews, Jameson on Jameson (2007).

    • 583Ian Hunter
    • Jameson's view arises from a dialectical philosophical hermeneutics that regards history as the passage of consciousness towards comprehension of its own material determination, driven by an inescapable dualism between ideas and their social production. The kind of historiography that informs my essay, however, treats thinking itself as an historical activity: the achievement of an open-ended array of intellectual performances using a variety of arts of thinking for particular contextual purposes. These arts are not regarded as opaque to a latent material (economic) determination whose future revelation gives history its prophetic direction. Rather, they are treated as instruments for the most diverse array of human activities—of economic calculation to be sure, but also of erotic intensification, juridical regulation, spiritual contemplation, scientific experimentation, political rationalization, aesthetic cultivation, and so on—from which histories flow as the scarcely foreseeable and largely unintended outcomes of the activities themselves. The central argument of my essay is that 1960s humanities theory is one such art of thinking. What Jameson's response makes clear is that historical understanding of the 1960s ars theoria is fractured by (at least) two rival historiographies—themselves special arts of thinking—requiring our discussion to enter the history of historiography.

      Ian Hunter is an Autralian Professorial Fellow in the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the University of Queensland. He is the author of Rival Enlightenments (2002) and The Secularisation of the Confessional State (2007). His current project, on the historical emergence of poststructuralist theory, issued in a preliminary study of “The History of Theory” in these pages, which gave rise to the present exchange of views.

    • 601W. J. T. Mitchell
    • An American who returns from a visit to Cuba these days is expected to have become an instant authority on the country and to answer all sorts of predictable questions. What is the mood? What will happen when Fidel dies? Will there at last be free elections? A free, uncensored press? Will Cuba's position as the last holdout of communism collapse under a tsunami of credit cards and free trade? Will the Cuban exile community return in triumph to restore the old neocolonial regime of Batista? How will Cuba catch up with the rest of Latin America, which long ago succumbed to the sirens of capitalism? Will it go the way of other authoritarian communist regimes like the Soviet Union and China and turn itself into an authoritarian capitalist regime? What is happening and what is going to happen in this island, and why should it be of interest to the U.S., to the Americas, and to the rest of the world?

      W. J. T. Mitchell is editor of Critical Inquiry. His most recent book is What Do Pictures Want? (2005). His forthcoming book is entitled Cloning Terror: The War of Images, 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.

    • 612Dale Jamieson
    • Many scientists believe that climate change has begun and that it will be difficult to avoid serious disruption of the climate system. Global temperatures are increasing, and talk about climate change is increasing even more rapidly. Yet, in the face of what many think is the most serious problem humanity now faces, humanists are largely silent. What accounts for this?

      Dale Jamieson is professor of environmental studies and philosophy and affiliated professor of law at New York University where he also directs the environmental studies program. He is the author of Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction (2008) and Morality's Progress: Essays on Humans, Other Animals, and the Rest of Nature (2003), and editor of A Companion to Environmental Philosophy (2001). He is currently at work on a book on the moral and political challenges of climate change.

    • 620Michael Fried
    • I want to improve on a formulation in my recent article “Jeff Wall, Wittgenstein, and the Everyday” (Critical Inquiry 33 [Spring 2007]: 495–526), where I partly gloss some 1930 remarks by Wittgenstein...