In this ground-breaking and influential study Fredric Jameson explores the complex place and function of literature within culture. At the time Jameson was actually writing the book, in the mid to late seventies, there was a major reaction against deconstruction and poststructuralism. As one of the most significant literary theorists, Jameson found himself in the unenviable position of wanting to defend his intellectual past yet keep an eye on the future. With this book he carried it off beautifully. A landmark (...) publication, The Political Unconscious takes its place as one of the most meaningful works of the twentieth century.century. (shrink)
After half a century exploring dialectical thought, renowned cultural critic Fredric Jameson presents a comprehensive study of a misrepresented, vital strain in Western philosophy. The dialectic, the concept of the evolution of an idea through internal contradiction and conflict, transformed two centuries of Western philosophy. To Hegel, who dominated nineteenth-century thought, it was a metaphysical system. In the works of Marx, the dialectic became a tool for materialist historical analysis, a theoretical maneuver that his critics derided and his descendants on (...) the Left have wrestled with ever since. Jameson brings a theoretical scrutiny to bear on the questions that have arisen in the history of this philosophical tradition, contextualizing the debate with essays on commodification and globalization, and with reference to the work of Rousseau, Fichte, Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida, and Lacan. Through rigorous, erudite examination, Valences of the Dialectic charts a movement toward the innovation of a "spatial" dialectic, culminating in a remarkable meditation on globalization, through a study of Paul Ricoeur. Jameson presents a new synthesis of thought that revitalizes dialectical thinking for the twenty-first century. (shrink)
The concept of “magic realism” raises many problems, both theoretical and historical. I first encountered it in the context of American painting in the mid-1950s; at about the same time, Angle Flores published an influential article in which the term was applied to the work of Borges;1 but Alejo Carpentier’s conception of the real maravilloso at once seemed to offer a related or alternative conception, while his own work and that of Miguel Angel Asturias seemed to demand an enlargement of (...) its application.2 Finally, with the novels of Gabriel García Márquez in the 1960s, a whole new realm of magic realism opened up whose exact relations to preceding theory and novelistic practice remained undetermined. These conceptual problems emerge most clearly when one juxtaposes the notion of magic realism with competing or overlapping terms. In the beginning, for instance, it was not clear how it was to be distinguished from that vaster category generally simply called fantastic literature; at this point, what is presumably at issue is a certain type of narrative or representation to be distinguished from realism. Carpentier, however, explicitly staged his version as a more authentic Latin American realization of what in the more reified European context took the form of surrealism: his emphasis would seem to have been on a certain poetic transfiguration of the object world itself—not so much a fantastic narrative, then, as a metamorphosis in perception and in things perceived . In García Márquez, finally, these two tendencies seemed to achieve a new kind of synthesis—a transfigured object world in which fantastic events are also narrated. But at this point, the focus of the conception of magic realism would appear to have shifted to what must be called an anthropological perspective: magic realism now comes to be understood as a kind of narrative raw material derived essentially from peasant society, drawing in sophisticated ways on the world of village or even tribal myth. Recent debates, meanwhile, have complicated all this with yet a different kind of issue: namely, the problem of the political or mystificatory value, respectively, of such texts, many of which we owe to overtly left-wing revolutionary writers .3 In spite of these terminological complexities—which might be grounds for abandoning the concept altogether—it retains a strange seductiveness which I will try to explore further, adding to the confusion with reference points drawn from the work of Jacques Lacan and from Freud’s notion of the “uncanny,” and compounding it by an argument that magic realism is to be grasped as a possible alternative to the narrative logic of contemporary postmodernism.4 1. See Angel Flores, “Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction,” Hispania 38 : 187-92.2. See Alejo Carpentier, “Prólogo” to his novel El Reino de este mundo ; the most useful survey of the debate remains Roberto Gonzalez Echeverria, “Carpentier y el realism magico,” in Otros Mundos, otros fuegos, ed. Donald Yates, Congreso International de Literature Iberoamericana 16 , pp. 221-31.3. See Angel Rama, La Novel en America Latina , and especially Carlos Blanco Aguinaga, De Mitólogos y novelistas , in particular the discussions of Gabriel García Márques and Alejo Carpentier.4. My own general frame of reference for “postmodernism” is outlined in my “Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 : 53-92. Frederic Jameson, William A. Lane Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University, is the author of The Prison-House of Language and The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. He is also a member of the editorial collective of Social Text. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are “The Symbolic Inference; or, Kenneth Burke and Ideological Analysis” and “Ideology and Symbolic Action”. (shrink)
However this may be, it is clear that the rhetoric of the self in American criticism will no longer do, any more than its accompanying interpretative codes of identity crises and mythic reintegration, and that a post-individualistic age needs new and post-individualistic categories for grasping both the production and the evolution of literary form as well as the semantic content of the literary text and the latter's relationship to collective experience and to ideological contradiction. What is paradoxical about Burke's own (...) critical practice in this respect is that he has anticipated many of the fundamental objections to such a rhetoric of self and identity at the same time that he may be counted among its founding fathers: this last and most important of what we have called his "strategies of containment" provides insights which testify against his own official practice. Witness, for example, the following exchange, in which Burke attributes this imaginary objection to his Marxist critics: "Identity is itself a 'mystification.' Hence, resenting its many labyrinthine aspects, we tend to call even the study of it a 'mystification.'" To this proposition, which is something of a caricature of the point of view of the present essay, Burke gives himself a reply which we may also endorse: "The response would be analogous to the response of those who, suffering from an illness, get 'relief' by quarreling with their doctors. Unless Marxists are ready to deny Marx by attacking his term 'alienation' itself, they must permit of research into the nature of attempts, adequate and inadequate, to combat alienation."1 · 1. Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form, p. 308. In fact, certain contemporary Marxisms—most notably those of Althusser and of Lucio Coletti—explicitly repudiate the concept of alienation as a Hegelian survival in Marx's early writings. Fredric R. Jameson is the author of The Political Unconscious: Studies in the Ideology of Form. He is also the editor, with Stanley Aronowitz and John Brenkman, of the Social Text. See also: "Methodological Repression and/or Strategies of Containment" by Kenneth Burke in Vol. 5, No. 2. (shrink)
Introduction: on not giving interviews -- Interview with Leonard Green, Jonathan Culler, and Richard Klein -- Interview with Anders Stephanson -- Interview with Paik Nak-Chung -- Interview with Sabry Hafez, Abbas Al-Tonsi, and Mona Abousenna -- Interview with Stuart Hall -- Interview with Michael Speaks -- Interview with Horacio Machín -- Interview with Sara Danius and Stefan Jonsson -- Interview with Xudong Zhang -- Interview with Srinivas Aravamudan and Ranjana Khanna.
I don’t conceive of this as a debate with Burke, but if I did, I would be tempted to use the old debater's formula: there are many ways in which the word ideology can be used, most of them defensible, but there are two ways in which the word ought never be used, and that is to designate "value systems" on one hand or "false consciousness" on the other. The first meaning folds us back into the perspective of the history (...) of ideas, which it was the aim of the concept of ideology to spring us out of in the first place. The second betrays a vulgar Marxist approach to culture which it is the task of any genuinely contemporary Marxism to liquidate: indeed, from the Lukács of History and Class Consciousness to the Frankfurt School, from Sartre to Althusser and Macherey, there are a number of very different Marxian conceptions of ideology available today which have nothing in common with the old notion of ideology as a "false consciousness." And since I have gone this far, I will add something I didn't mention in my essay, that when Burke documents his own use of the Marxian category of ideology, unfortunately he turns out most often to have meant our old friend "false consciousness," so unavoidable a part of the baggage of thirties Marxism. Fredric R. Jameson is the editor, with Stanley Aronowitz and John Brenkmam, of Social Text and the author of Marxism and Form, The Prison House of Language, and, forthcoming, The Political Unconscious: Studies in the Ideology of Form. "The Symbolic Interference; or, Kenneth Burke and Ideological Analysis" Critical Inquiry 4 [Spring 1978]: 507-23) was presented in an earlier version at the English Institute in September 1977 as one of a group of studies in reevaluation of the work of Kenneth Burke. (shrink)
Antonio Gramsci's _Prison Notebooks_ have offered concepts, categories, and political solutions that have been applied in a variety of social and political contexts, from postwar Italy to the insurgencies of the Arab Spring. The contributors to _Gramsci in the World_ examine the diverse receptions and uses of Gramscian thought, highlighting its possibilities and limits for understanding and changing the world. Among other topics, they explore Gramsci's importance to Caribbean anticolonial thinkers like Stuart Hall, his presence in decolonial indigenous movements in (...) the Andes, and his relevance to understanding the Chinese Left. The contributors consider why Gramsci has had relatively little impact in the United States while also showing how he was a major force in pushing Marxism beyond Europe—especially into the Arab world and other regions of the Global South. Rather than taking one interpretive position on Gramsci, the contributors demonstrate the ongoing relevance of his ideas to revolutionary theory and praxis. Contributors. Alberto Burgio, Cesare Casarino, Maria Elisa Cevasco, Kate Crehan, Roberto M. Dainotto, Michael Denning, Harry Harootunian, Fredric Jameson, R. A. Judy, Patrizia Manduchi, Andrea Scapolo, Peter D. Thomas, Catherine Walsh, Pu Wang, Cosimo Zene. (shrink)
The most productive theoretical contribution I can make to this topic is to explain my thoughts about the by now rather traditional Freudo-Marxist project and to assess Lacanianism in that light. It will be understood that in this form which approximates that of the interview – my positions will be little more than opinions, a form of ideological expression I don’t much care for. Nor will I even try to give an opinion of Slavoj Žižek’s extraordinary production, which I admire, (...) learn from, and above all consider energizing, this last being certainly the ultimate aim of intellectual work. (shrink)
This article is a response by the author to the contributions to the Historical Materialism symposium on Allegory and Ideology. The reply is framed in terms of the different theoretical strategies through which the articulation of ‘Marx’ and ‘Freud’ has been carried out, namely the precarious syntheses of Freudo-Marxism, the homological method pioneered by Lucien Goldmann, and the theory of allegorical levels and transcoding explored in Allegory and Ideology. It critically engages with the openings and challenges posed by the various (...) contributions to the symposium, focusing in particular on matters of periodisation, and concluding with a reflection on how a theory of allegorical levels can be complemented by a materialist understanding of the ‘category’. (shrink)
After speculation that the dialectic is as yet unrealized, a kind of "unfinished project," three areas in which the dialectic remains alive are outlined: 1) in reflexivity, in which the theory of ideology demands to be confronted with the contemporary theory and experience of "multiple subject positions"; 2) in historiography, in which the dialectic is not a philosophical position but a critical operation performed on traditional historical narrative; and, finally, 3) in contradiction, a structure the dialectic does not posit, but (...) causes to emerge and to become visible in familiar and seemingly unproblematical situations (Brecht's "estrangement effect"). (shrink)
In this major new study, the philosopher and cultural theorist Fredric Jameson offers a new reading of Hegel's foundational text Phenomenology of Spirit. In contrast to those who see the Phenomenology as a closed system ending with Absolute Spirit, Jameson's reading presents an open work in which Hegel has not yet reconstituted himself in terms of a systematic philosophy (Hegelianism) and in which the moments of the dialectic and its levels have not yet been formalized. Hegel's text executes a dazzling (...) variety of changes on conceptual relationships, in terms with are never allowed to freeze over and become reified in purely philosophical named concepts. The ending, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is interpreted by Jameson, contra Fukuyama's "end of history," as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social, which is here extrapolated to our own time. (shrink)
In this ground-breaking and influential study Fredric Jameson explores the complex place and function of literature within culture. At the time Jameson was actually writing the book, in the mid to late seventies, there was a major reaction against deconstruction and poststructuralism. As one of the most significant literary theorists, Jameson found himself in the unenviable position of wanting to defend his intellectual past yet keep an eye on the future. With this book he carried it off beautifully. A landmark (...) publication, _The Political Unconscious_ takes its place as one of the most meaningful works of the twentieth century.century. (shrink)
_‘Every now and then a book appears which is literally ahead of its time... _The Political Unconscious_ is such a book... it sets new standards of what a classic work is.’_ – Slavoj Zizek In this ground-breaking and influential study, Fredric Jameson explores the complex place and function of literature within culture. A landmark publication, _The Political Unconscious_ takes its place as one of the most meaningful works of the twentieth century. _First published: 1983._.