Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Winter 2001

Volume 27 Issue 2
    • 169Lawrence Venuti
    • Derrida's effort to give specificity to his ideas, to locate suggestive applications, is perhaps most striking in his exploration of particular translation problems, especially those in which we get a glimpse of him as translator. He proposes a French version for a line in Portia's speech on "mercy" and recalls his own French rendering of a central concept in Hegel's dialectics, the Aufhebung. As a result, this lecture can be considered Derrida's most direct intervention to date into that fledgling discipline that in Europe and elsewhere is known as "translation studies." What contribution does it make, then, to the study of translation?

      Lawrence Venuti's latest publications are The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998), The Translation Studies Reader (2000), and the translation of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock's The Temple of Iconoclasts (2000). He is professor of English at Temple University.

    • 174Jacques Derrida and Lawrence Venuti
    • How dare one speak of translation before you who, in your vigilant awareness of the immense stakes—and not only of the fate of literature—make this sublime and impossible task your desire, your anxiety, your travail, your knowledge, and your knowing skill?

      How dare I proceed before you, knowing myself to be at once rude and inexperienced in this domain, as someone who, from the very first moment, from his very first attempts (which I could recount to you, as the English saying goes, off the record), shunned the translator's métier, his beautiful and terrifying responsibility, his insolvent duty and debt, without ceasing to tell himself "never ever again": "no, precisely, I would never dare, I should never, could never, would never manage to pull it off"?

      See also: Jacques Derrida, Biodegradables Seven Diary Fragments  ·  Stephen Melville, “Allô? Allô?”

      Jacques Derrida teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. He also teaches at the University of California, Irvine, New York University, and the New School for Social Research. His most recent publication in English is Of Hospitality (2000).

    • 201Shoshana Felman
    • I will argue that it is not a coincidence if the two works that have forced us to rethink the Holocaust in modifying our vocabularies of remembrance were, on the one hand, a trial report and, on the other hand, a work of art. We needed trials and trial reports to bring a conscious closure to the trauma of the war, to separate ourselves from the atrocities and to restrict, to draw and demarcate a boundary around a suffering that seemed both unending and unbearable. Law is a discipline of limits and of consciousness. We needed limits to be able both to close the case and to enclose it in the past. Law distances the Holocaust. Art brings it closer. We needed art—the language of infinity—to mourn the losses and to face up to what in traumatic memory is not closed and cannot be closed. Historically, we needed law to totalize the evidence, to totalize the Holocaust and, through totalization, to start to apprehend its contours and its magnitude. Historically, we needed art to start to apprehend and to retrieve what the totalization has left out. Between too much proximity and too much distance, the Holocaust becomes today accessible, I will propose, precisely in this space of slippage between law and art. But it is also in this space of slippage that its full grasp continues to elude us.

      See also: Shoshana Felman, Forms of Judicial Blindness, or the Evidence of What Cannot Be Seen: Traumatic Narratives and Legal Repetitions in the O. J. Simpson Case and in Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata"  ·  Michael Rothberg, Between Auschwitz and Algeria: Multidirectional Memory and the Counterpublic Witness

      Shoshana Felman is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Yale University. She is the author of The Literary Speech Act: Don Juan with Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages (1984), Writing and Madness: Literature/Philosophy/Psychoanalysis (1985), Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight (1987), and What Does a Woman Want? Reading and Sexual Difference (1993). She is also the editor of Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading-Otherwise (1982) and co-author, with Dori Laub, of Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (1992).

    • 239Naomi Schor
    • The fact that all Balzac's texts are classic, readable texts, and thus are all pensive texts, does not, however, close the question of the state of pensiveness in Balzac. On the contrary. For the Marquise is not the only Balzacian character endowed with thoughtfulness. Balzac's characters are constantly lapsing into a state of thoughtfulness that brings the forward driving plot to a momentary standstill, introducing a pause in the dynamic rush of the plot to closure. Here then are some examples, chosen nearly at random in the immense Balzac corpus, of such uses of pensiveness to put a temporary break on the textual flow.

      See also: Naomi Schor, “Cartes Postales": Representing Paris 1900

      Naomi Schor is Benjamin F. Barge Professor of French at Yale University. She is author of, most recently, Bad Objects: Essays Popular and Unpopular (1995) and George Sand and Idealism (1993) and coeditor, with Elizabeth Weed, of Feminism Meets Queer Theory (1997).

    • 266Walter Benn Michaels
    • For we very often feel that we do disagree with people; indeed, if we are literary critics, we may feel that our disagreement with other literary critics is at the core of what we do. Every time that I write about a literary text, I have the sense that I disagree with a great many people about what that text means and, after publishing what I write, I often have the sense both that a great many people feel they disagree with me and that they are right, that they really do disagree with me. But if they and I are right, if we really do disagree, then it is a mistake to think that our subject-positions matter, and it is also a mistake-in fact, the same mistake-to think that the signifier is its shape.

      See also: Steven Knapp, Walter Benn Michaels, Against Theory  ·  Walter Benn Michaels, Race into Culture: A Critical Genealogy of Cultural Identity

      Walter Benn Michaels is professor of English and the humanities at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism (1987) and Our America (1995). He is currently at work on a book called The Shape of the Signifier: American Writing from 1967 to the End of History.

    • 284Joan W. Scott
    • Fantasy echo is not a label that, once applied, explains identity. It is rather the designation of a set of psychic operations by which certain categories of identity are made to elide historical differences and create apparent continuities. Fantasy echo is a tool for analysts of political and social movements as they read historical materials in their specificity and particularity. It does not presume to know the substance of identity, the resonance of its appeal, or the transformations it has undergone. It presumes only that where there is evidence of what seems enduring and unchanging identity, there is a history that needs to be explored.

      See also: Joan W. Scott, The Evidence of Experience  ·  Joan W. Scott, Hostis Humani Generis

      Joan W. Scott is Harold E Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author, most recently, of Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (1996).

    • 305Kwame Anthony Appiah
    • It seems to me there are two obvious ways of going about saying what you mean by liberalism. One is historical. It is to point to the development over the last few centuries, but especially since the American and French Revolutions, of a new form of political life. This form of life finds expression in certain political institutions: among them, on the one hand, republicanism, or at least constitutional rather than absolute monarchy, elected rather than hereditary rulers, and, more generally, some sort of appeal to the consent of the governed; and, on the other hand, a legal system that respects certain fundamental rights, limiting the power of those who govern. These civil or political rights carve out for citizens a corresponding sphere of freedoms including those of political speech, the press, and religion. Each of these elements can come on its own.

      See also:  Kwame Anthony Appiah, Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?  ·   Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitan Patriots

      Kwame Anthony Appiah is Charles H. Carswell Professor of Afro- American studies and of philosophy at Harvard University and author, with Amy Gutmann, of Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (1996). He is also coeditor, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience (1999).

    • 333Dick Hebdige
    • In other words, while it is undoubtedly true that the ontological discrepancy between the deferential structurings of language and the unstoppable dynamics of becoming-unto-death make determinations of truth and beauty impossible to verify in any absolute sense, it is also true that nonetheless we make them all the time. If we just stop to take the time (and even if we don't) such absolute determinations get figured (out) moment by moment in the moment with or without our willed or conscious acquiescence (our collaboration in these temporal closures really is, for most of the time, quite beside the point).

      See also: Lauren Berlant, Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency)

      Dick Hebdige teaches at CalArts in Valencia, California.

    • 354Robert Kaufman
    • This amounts, certainly, to a historically expanded elaboration of Adorno's modernist defense of a surviving, provisional aesthetic autonomy in the age of anti-aesthetic mechanical reproduction; a constructionist via negativa to the critical reflection once articulated in relation to aesthetic aura, raised now to the second or third power in the modern experience of aura's loss. But it likewise recapitulates and works out Adorno's later view that Benjamin's writings themselves, even those proclaiming mechanical reproduction's supervention of aesthetic aura, finally yield such a critical aesthetics, that they foster a thought-expanding literary experience rather than the more immediate, anti-auratic, political-material effect Benjamin at times contended for and that contemporary art and theory often advocate in his name.

      It amounts, moreover, to a sharp reversal of recent scenarios in which Frankfurt theory has been used to underwrite anti-aesthetic critique of the literary, critique that has particularly indicted romantic literature and its modernist descendants. For it seems that Keats and Shelley actually were adumbrating, in their dispute, the blurred prospectus of a notion that lately has been seen with renewed clarity as a mainspring of Frankfurt thought: Aesthetic experience's contribution to the possibilities for critical agency does not depend on specifically privileged formal or stylistic approaches; nor on particular, socially radical thematic and substantive choices; nor on explicit gestures toward material circumstance. Starting from opposite ends, Keats and Shelley (and then their avant-gardist and modernist successors) contend against each other—at times in what contextually may be anti-aesthetic languages—for the value of their respective modes.

      See also: Robert Kaufman, Red Kant, or the Persistence of the Third "Critique" in Adorno and Jameson.

      Robert Kaufman is assistant professor of English at Stanford University. He is presently completing two related studies, Negative Romanticism, Almost Modernity: Keats, Shelley, and Adornian Critical Aesthetics and Experiments in Construction: Frankfurt School Aesthetics and Contemporary Poetry; he has also begun work on a third project, "Hamlet"'s Form of the Modern. His previous contribution to Critical Inquiry was "Red Kant, or The Persistence of the Third Critique in Adorno and Jameson" (Summer 2000).