(Post)modernism and the Other

Broj 2 - Godina 1 - 06/2011

Uvodnik

There is always a good reason to cherish and celebrate a second issue of a journal. In our case it would probably be the fact that in spite of the severe world financial crisis and its repercussions on the academic world we found a way to beat the odds and publish what is hopefully a progressive, intellectually competitive and, at the end of the day, an interesting collection of academic papers. As opposed to the first issue, dedicated to the theme of the endangered "body", the second one functions as a form of proceedings from the conference that was held at the University of Zadar in September 2010. The conference entitled Re-Thinking Humanities and Social Sciences questioned the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other through an extremely wide variety of scientific approaches, creating an atmosphere of highly academic competitiveness surrounded by a distinct Mediterranean ambiance. The second issue of our journal is an intellectual and textual extension of that unique experience. Obviously the papers presented here are merely a fragment of that experience but nevertheless we believe that they will provide the reader with an interesting and challenging insight into the issue of (Post)modernism and the Other. ..

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Izdvojeno

Richard Yates’s novel Revolutionary Road did not receive much academic attention despite the fact that it is an exceptionally refined and capturing piece of fiction. It was critically acclaimed following its publication in 1961, nominated for the National Book Award in 1962 and then forgotten. Not surprisingly, the novel was “rediscovered” once a movie adaptation was made in 2008. Revolutionary Road is typically read – quite expectedly – as a story of suburban malaise and a critique of the American (suburban) life in the 1950s. However, in an interview, published in Ploughshares in 1972, Yates stated that although he intended the novel to be an indictment of American life in the 1950s because of a general lust for conformity (DeWitt and Clark 66), he never planned the novel to be anti-suburban in any way. On the contrary, he hoped to make it implicit in the text that he is writing about a particular couple, the Wheelers, and what turns out to be specifically “their delusion, their problem” (DeWitt and Clark 66). In that sense, the novel should be read as a psychological exploration of the universal issues of human desire and the relationship of the individual to the pre-established (social) system in which he or she lives. Consequently, it becomes clear that Yates’s novel hardly represents an indictment of a way of life, but quite the opposite: an indictment of the individual unable to adapt to the demands of the Other. In Lacanian terms, Revolutionary Road is a story about the unattainable desire to create one’s identity regardless or in spite of the socially constructed Symbolic order. ...

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Although the novels of the French writer Lydie Salvayre tend to be soliloquic, they are far from being mono-logical: founded on the clashes of different logics and systems of value, discourses and desires, they embody the protagonists' inherent antagonism and rage, reflecting the violence of the outside world. This study analyses some common matrixes underlying Salvayre’s prose. It focuses on the manifestations of resistance to either external or self-imposed oppressions, restrictions and mystifications. It aims to demonstrate that Salvayre’s novels not only represent subjects in permanent and incurable crises, but also challenge the very imperative of the subject's constitution through the foreclosure of the other, of what is outside the self.Salvayre’s texts are typically monologues in which an individual strives to affirm his or her distinct unicity and separation from the rest of the universe. These discourses are defensive, since the protagonists present themselves as endangered by an external element, oppressed in a relationship or socially marginalized. At the same time, they are sarcastic and often (self)destructive. In those cases where the word is given to more than one character, the interaction does not result in a dialogue but in a series of speeches which do not intersect. The subjects blindly plead their cause and recognize only aggression and malevolence in the others’ discourse. The most obvious example can be found in the novel The Cintegabelle Conference (La Conférence de Cintegabelle): a local intellectual delivers a lengthy, pompous and heavy lecture on what he calls the lost art of conversation—cultural heritage which was once preeminently French, and is today sadly abandoned. Ironically, he who speaks out as a defender of the conversational virtue, remains blatantly monological; although very careful not to lose his listeners, he does not leave them any time even to answer his questions, showing interest in nothing but his own voice. Another irony resides in his confession that he used to be bored by the conversations with his wife while she was alive, whereas now that she is dead, he converses with her regularly and with great satisfaction. ...

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In a small courtyard at the University of Melbourne, there is an unprepossessing, somewhat makeshift looking outdoor café called KereKere. The coffee on offer is organic, Fair Trade, Rainforest alliance-branded and sustainable: a list of options we’ve increasingly come to expect even in corporate café chains such as Starbucks. But at this café, customers are also asked to decide how the profits from that sale are distributed every time they buy a coffee. As customers are handed their order, they are also presented with playing cards that allow them to choose from a list of causes where the café’s profits will go. The café thus operates in the spirit of ‘kerekere’, a Fijian custom in which a relative or neighbour can request something that is needed and it must be willingly given with no expectation of repayment. The café’s young ethically minded owner sees this process as fostering ‘a culture that promotes community wellbeing’. At this café, the traditional economic exchange associated with the purchase of a cup of coffee has been subtly moved into other territories through the introduction of questions of gift giving, and of responsibility, care and even love (as we see here, the café’s logo is a coffee cup with a series of hearts rising from it) into the exchange ritual. Such attempts by social justice-oriented businesses to reconfigure the privatized moment of spending as a communal act, thus positioning consumer choice as a site of responsibility, are increasingly commonplace in today’s marketplace. No longer purely associated with fringe politics or hippie lifestyles, terms such as ‘ethical’ and ‘responsible’ shopping and ‘conscience consumption’, are increasingly entering into the everyday language as well as the shopping experiences and practices of so-called ‘ordinary’ consumers. ...

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In the beginning of this short text, which will discuss the question of the postmodern Other, I will propose that the post-Other, or Other in the postmodern condition, be called the biopolitical Other. The thesis is as follows: when we think about the question of the Other in the contemporary condition, which for want of a better definition and following Lyotard could be named postmodern, the dominance of the biopolitical Other can be observed on a global scale. In approaching the question of the biopolitical Other, I will not follow the path usual in problematizing the biopolitical. When thinking about biopolitics, the usual path begins with the creator of the term, Foucault, to theorists who adopted and somewhat changed its original meaning, such as Agamben and others. I will approach the term of the biopolitical Other using terms borrowed from political theory which problematizes notions such as State, sovereignty, Nation-State, Law, international Law. I will begin the analysis starting with some aspects of the notion of sovereignty, problematized in the 1920s by Carl Schmitt and relate it to the notion of biopolitics, recently popularized by Agamben. But the path to the notion of biopolitics will be slightly different than Agamben's....

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