Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Winter 1997

Volume 23 Issue 2
    • 225Gilles Deluze
    • To write is certainly not to impose a form (of expression) on the matter of lived experience. Literature rather moves in the direction of the ill-formed or the incomplete, as Witold Gombrowicz said as well as practiced. Writing is a question of becoming, always incomplete, always in the midst of being formed, and goes beyond the matter of any livable or lived experience. It is a process, that is, a passage of Life that traverses both the livable and the lived. Writing is inseparable from becoming: in writing, one becomes-woman, becomes-animal or -vegetable, becomes-molecule, to the point of becoming-imperceptible.

      See also: Wendy Grace, Faux Amis: Foucault and Deleuze on Sexuality and Desire

      Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) was professor of philosophy at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-St. Denis). His books include Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962), Difference and Repetition( 1968), and, with Felix Guattari, Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972, 1980). This article is taken from his final book, Essays Critical and Clinical (1993).

    • 231Dominick LaCapra
    • A great deal—everything perhaps—depends not on whether one poses the why question but on how and why one poses it. Nor can one escape the dilemmas and opportunities of critical self-reflection. Levi himself wanted an answer, however partial and inadequate. He did not take up the words of the SS guard in his own voice, and he attempted in his own work to address the why question with humility and in the belief that even partial understanding might prove of some use in the attempt to resist tendencies that led to, or were manifest in, the Nazi genocide. This belief may be naive or at least based on a kind of faith. But the question is whether Lanzmann's view is preferable. Here one may attempt to elaborate a set of difficult distinctions-distinctions indicating orientations toward which Lanzmann has significantly different reactions.

      One may distinguish among at least three ways of approaching the why question. The first involves the expectation of a totally satisfying answer on the level of representation and understanding. A prominent vari-ant of this first approach has been the object of deconstructive criticism and is generally the butt of poststructural and postmodern attacks. It is the attempt at totalization. Jean-François Lyotard detects totalization in master narratives and total theories of liberation. For Derrida, it is embodied in the metaphysical idea of representation as the reproduction or mimetic re-creation of a putative full presence. A basic point in these critiques is that there is no full presence that may be re-presented. Instead there is a mutual marking of past, present, and future, and the past itself is an object of reconstruction on the basis of traces and traces of traces. Interestingly, Lanzmann will himself describe his effort in terms of work-ing with traces of traces in a present that is marked by its relation to the past and future, although one may contest some of the denials and inferences he draws from his description.

      When I say that I constructed the film with what I had, it means that the film is not a product of the Holocaust, that it is not a historical film: it's a sort of originary event since I made it in the present. I was obligated to construct it with traces of traces, with what was strong in what I had made. ["LP," pp. 303-4]

      But, as we shall see, Lanzmann will also—and even more insistently—employ language that would seem to involve him in a quest for full presence in the attempt to erase or fully instantiate traces by incarnating and reliving a past not marked by distance from the present.

      See also: Dominick LaCapra, Trauma, Absence, Loss  ·  Miriam Bratu Hansen, “Schindler's List" Is Not "Shoah": The Second Commandment, PopularModernism, and Public Memory

      Dominick LaCapra is professor of history, Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies, and director of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. His most recent books include Soundings in Critical Theory (1989) and Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma (1994). He is currently preparing for publication two book-length manuscripts entitled History and Memory: In the Shadow of the Holocaust and History and Reading: In and Against the French Grain.

    • 270O. K. Werckmeister
    • In December 1933, the German satirical weekly Kladderadatsch published a friendly cartoon entitled "The Sculptor of Germany" (fig. 1). It depicts Adolf Hitler wearing an artist's smock over his party uniform, as he angrily inspects a just-finished clay model of a sculpture, a multifigure group of struggling people, presented to him by what is apparently meant to be a Jewish sculptor. He slams his fist down on the model to reconvert it into a lump of clay, from which he proceeds to model a sculpture of his own, a single giant figure of a nude athlete with clenched fists. The drawing's metaphorical significance is obvious: Hitler is replacing the self-destructive, democratic society of conflicting interests with the coherent, organic body of the people's community, the corporative, racist ideal of National Socialist statecraft.

      See also: O. K. Werckmeister, Kafka 007  ·  O. K. Werckmeister, Walter Benjamin's Angel of History, or the Transfiguration of the Revolutionary into the Historian

      O. K. Werckmeister is the Mary Jane Crowe Distinguished Professor of Art History at Northwestern University. His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry is "Walter Benjamin's Angel of History" (Winter 1996). His Icons of the Left will appear in 1997, and The Political Confrontation of the Arts: From the Great Depression to the Second World War, 1929-1939 is in progress.

    • 298Robert Morris
    • Can we say that a kind of grammatical chasm exists between the form of the proposition and that of the question? Is there a kind of world, as it were, of the question, whose difference, verging on the suspicion of a kind of lack, sets it in perpetual opposition to that other world, that of the statement? Some might read such differences as an allegory of gender-defined, admittedly, in a rather essentialist way. And when it comes to actions, are there those one could designate as interrogative? And what about objects?

      It is as if I wanted to say that my actions in making art fell on the side of the question rather than of the statement. But I don't know whether to allow this feeling to remain in the form of a statement, or to recast it as a question. Do I feel that my actions in making art have always been shaded with questions? There are questions and there are questions.

      See also: Robert Morris, Few Thoughts on Bombs, Tennis, Free Will, Agency Reduction, the Museum, Dust Storms, and Labyrinths  ·  Robert Morris, The Labyrinth and the Urinal

      Robert Morris's artwork appeared in a major retrospective exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1994. He has recently published a collection of essays, entitled Continuous Project, Altered Daily (1994), and his previous contribution to Critical Inquiry was "Writing with Davidson" (Summer 1993).

    • 323Ross Posnock
    • Skepticism of postmodern tribalism's romance of identity offers a propitious moment for recovering the figure of the intellectual in its historical specificity, that is, the idea (and the offense) that gave birth to the term. "Les intellectuels" was first heard in 1898 to impugn those, like Zola, who dared speak for universal rather than French values during the hysterical chauvinism unleashed by the Dreyfus trial. To recover the intellectual is to recover a cosmopolitan universalism, and they both return not in defiance of but chastened by postmodern particularism, which favored the "organic" (Gramsci) and "specific" (Foucault) intellectual.

      See also: Anthony Appiah, The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race  ·  Françoise Vergès, Creole Skin, Black Mask: Fanon and Disavowal

      Ross Posnock is Hilen Professor of American Literature at the University of Washington and author, most recently, of The Trial of Curiosity: Henry James, William James, and the Challenge of Modernity (1991). He is currently completing a book on black intellectuals and the politics of pragmatism, for which he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993.

    • 350Judith Butler
    • Recent proposals to regulate hate speech on campus, in the workplace, and in other public domains have spawned a set of ambivalent political consequences and raised crucial questions concerning the status of language: Is hate speech a kind of action? Does it have the power to constitute offensive conduct? Not only is language-construed either as an offensive mode of address or as the uttering of offensive epithets-said to have the power to injure those to whom it is addressed, but the sphere of language has become a privileged domain in which to interrogate the cause and effects of social injury. Whereas earlier moments in the civil rights movement or in feminist activism were primarily concerned with documenting and seeking redress for various forms of discrimination, the current political concern with hate speech emphasizes the linguistic form that discriminatory conduct assumes, seeking to establish verbal conduct as discriminatory action.1 But what is verbal conduct?

      · 1. Catharine MacKinnon writes that "group defamation is a verbal form inequality takes" (Catharine A. MacKinnon, Only Words [Cambridge, Mass., 1993], p. 99; hereafter abbreviated O).

      See also: Judith Butler, Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity

      Judith Butler is professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Author of Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993), she just completed Excitable Speech, which will appear in 1997.

    • 378Stanley Fish
    • Multiculturalism comes in at least two versions, boutique multiculturalism and strong multiculturalism. Boutique multiculturalism is the multiculturalism of ethnic restaurants, weekend festivals, and high profile flirtations with the other in the manner satirized by Tom Wolfe under the rubric of "radical chic."1 Boutique multiculturalism is characterized by its superficial or cosmetic relationship to the objects of its affection. Boutique multiculturalists admire or appreciate or enjoy or sympathize with or (at the very least) "recognize the legitimacy of" the traditions of cultures other than their own; but boutique multiculturalists will always stop short of approving other cultures at a point where some value at their center generates an act that offends against the canons of civilized decency as they have been either declared or assumed.

      · 1. See Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic and Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers (New York, 1970).

      See also: Stanley Fish, Consequences  ·  Chicago Cultural Studies Group, Critical Multiculturalism

      Stanley Fish is Arts and Sciences Professor of English and professor of law at Duke University and executive director of the Duke University Press. His most recent book is Professional Correctness: Literary Studies and Political Change (1995).

    • 396Donald E. Pease
    • Fish's ad hoc addendum to liberals' understanding of rational discussion recommends that neither hate speech nor religious fundamentalism (two representative examples of constraints on speaking) be construed as irrational or beneath the consideration of advocates of noncoercive communication. They should instead be understood as forms of rationality, which Fish's adhoccery at once recognizes and, in the case of hate speech, defeats.

      See also: 

      Donald E. Pease is professor of English and American literature at Dartmouth College. He is author of Visionary Compacts (1987) and editor (with Amy Kaplan) of Cultures of United States Imperialism (1993) and National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives (1994).

    • 419Nick Sharp
    • Mark McGurl's "Making It Big: Picturing the Radio Age in King Kong" (Spring 1996) is at once engagingly provocative and put-a-stick-in-his-eye frustrating, a nearly perfect example of postmodern cultural/critical discourse in all its irritating splendor.

    • 420Mark McGurl
    • Sharp's inattentive response does not so much illuminate these issues, though, as dimly reflect them in the simplifying mirror of his affect. So, too, the global critique of "postmodernist" criticism he is after would require, at a minimum, an approach more systematic than the scattershot emissions on behalf of the hermeneutic circle he offers us here.

    • 421David LatanĂ©
    • I'd like to congratulate Mitchell on getting through the introduction without saying, "Opposition is true friendship." I have valued the unpredictable nature of CI, which is why I continue to subscribe long after I have tasted and rejected other more general quarterlies.

    • 422Anouar Majid
    • I suppose the main reason I am somewhat uncomfortable with your editorial policies is the long-term consequences your self-determined standards may have on the intellectual enterprise at large. I expect you to be leaders in opening up spaces for new ideas, encouraging younger scholars and graduate students to think for themselves, and not be beholden to the few paradigms (very often associated with a handful of names) that have monopolized throught in the last decade or so. This sort of thing leads to unhealthy adulation, mimicry, the proliferation of mediocre and repetitive scholarship, and the exaltation of auras. Many graduate students and young scholars tend to be nervous about their ideas; it is, therefore, the duty of a good journal to embolden them to take risks without which academic and intellectual life surely wither away.