Coded Realities

No. 1 - Year 4 - 12/2013

Editorial

The seventh issue of [sic] was conceived as an open-themed issue, unrestricted by a specific topic, genre or mood. Yet, the papers that made it through the review process all seem to remind the readers that our reality is coded in so many ways. Whether it is by means of a literal code, such as the one used between the brothers Vrančić, one a cardinal and writer, the other a diplomat and poet, to prevent others from reading their letters, or a less conspicuous one, such as the one that transforms reality into reality TV, our literature, art and culture seem to rely heavily on cyphers, secrets and the tension between the real and the false. At times, in Grand-Guignol, the boundaries between viewing a play and witnessing a violent act become blurred as the viewer unintentionally becomes a witness or even the perpetrator of violent acts represented (faked!) on a stage in order to seem real. Questions of (in)authenticity and the construction of personal or cultural identity also contribute to our sense of our life, our very existence being coded intentionally and unintentionally in a myriad of ways. ..

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Featuring

In after show interviews, reality television stars often cite the camera and producorial manipulation, like editing, when trying to explain away their conceivably indefensible behavior. And much academic criticism of reality shows hinges on these very same “negative” features of the format: technological mediation, truthiness, their “lack” of reality. However, given the pervasiveness of 21st Century digital communication technology, and our decades worth of exposure to the regulating gaze of CCTV cameras, this rhetorical position is increasingly losing merit, despite its continued deployment—at the start of 2013, A&E’s Storage Wars was met by denouncements of a similar flavor. This paper attempts to draw on technology’s current place in the cultural milieu to challenge, at the very least, the theoretical position that might find reality TV external to our lived reality. Some specific reality TV personalities, ones who have denounced or commented on their on-screen selves, are examined in order to open up a conversation worried less about the contrivance of reality TV and more about the contrivance of contemporary living. MTV’s Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, The Hills, and ABC’s The Bachelor are some of the televisual texts sampled for the content of this paper....

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Taking (in)authenticity as his subject and intertextuality as the structuring principle, Peter Carey brings together Australian literary and social history, literary theory and a self-reflexive probe into the issues of identity, authenticity and cultural insecurity of a postcolonial society. The novel is interpreted as an allegorical account of national history and an allegorical narrative on the theoretical matters of originality and authorship.Keywords: Carey, identity, (in)authenticity, intertextuality, text, postcolonialism. The most well-known Australian author today, Peter Carey, has more than once found inspiration for his novels in already existing texts of British and Australian cultures. The most notable examples are his sixth novel titled Jack Maggs, his seventh novel titled True History of the Kelly Gang and the one explored in this paper, his eighth novel titled My Life as a Fake. Carey’s Jack Maggs (1997) retells the story of Dickens’ Great Expectations and in a postcolonial fashion of re-writing imperial texts gives voice to the previously marginalised point of view so that the story is told from the perspective of the runaway convict, Magwitch. The Booker Prize winning True History of the Kelly Gang (2001) is inspired by the so-called “Jerilderie letter,” which was written by Australia’s most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly, after a bank robbery in 1879. The fifty-six page long original letter is expanded in Carey’s version into thirteen parcels which actually make up this epistolary novel. My Life as a Fake (2003) is a roman a clef based on the literary hoax which took place in Melbourne in 1944 and assumed an Ossianic significance in the Australian literary establishment. Wishing to explore the depths of degradation which, in their opinion, Australian modernist poetry had reached, two young disgruntled poets, Harold Stewart and James McAuley, conjured up a fictitious poet, Ern Malley, a mechanic and the author of The Darkening Ecliptic, a collection of about fifteen poems, whose verses were actually put together by Stewart and McAuley in a patchwork manner. They borrowed lines randomly from various books of poetry and military manuals at hand to assemble a manuscript which was “found” by Malley’s equally fictitious sister after Ern Malley’s untimely tragic death and sent to Max Harris, the editor of the literary magazine Angry Penguins. Unsuspecting Harris was immediately taken in and published the poems. However, the praise he expressed for Malley’s poetry in his admiring preface was shortly after matched by the disgrace he suffered after the hoax had been revealed, ruining his career and making him the butt of all jokes in Australian literary circles. Moreover, as some prudish readers found those poems to express unacceptable homoerotic content, Harris faced charges for publishing obscene materials. ...

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The paper analyzes the use of humor in the work of Luiseno artist James Luna. Utilizing the media of performance, photography and installation, using himself as the object of representation, Luna has created a recognizable artistic style that addresses the complex issues of American Indian identity and representation. His installations The End of the Frail (1990-91) and The Artifact Piece (1987, 1990) both point at the constructed nature of Native identity. Whereas the former employs satire, self-stereotyping, parody and humor to expose and confront the colonial myths, distorted attitudes and pictographic representations of Native Americans, the latter addresses the issues of Native absence and invisibility in the dominant culture. Representing himself as an artifact to provoke laughter, shock and discomfort, in The Artifact Piece Luna clearly disclosed the relationship between Western institutions of knowledge and the culture of the spectacle. Both installations draw attention to the tie between imperialism and material forms of production and representation, indicating the still ongoing institutional investment in Native allegorization through commodification and scientific practices, the fact that even today Native American identity is compromised by the colonial discourse and its disciplinary practices and imagination. Using Bhabha’s concepts of mimicry and hybridity, Bakhtin’s theory of humor and Vizenor’s trickster holotrope, our analysis discusses the subversive potential of Luna’s auto-ethnographic project, its potential to deconstruct the meta-narratives of Otherness and colonization, and create new spaces for social dialogue and cultural survival. ...

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Idemo do plaže spasiti ptiće da se ne udave. Obučem traperice i debelu vestu preko pidžame. Dok piškim u hladnoj kupaonici, mokraća mi isparava. Tata svojim koracima prodrma i razbudi cijelu kuću. Idemo, kaže s prstom u uhu. Kad izađemo van, lice mi se stisne od hladnoće. Jučer sam izgubio rukavicu, tako da golu ruku trpam duboko u džep, zajedno sa šmrkavim maramicama i fosilima. Na vrhu litice izraslo je novo cvijeće. Tata ga očeše potplatom čizme. Nisam siguran zašto to radi, ali čini se da je zadovoljan.Na pjeskovitoj nizbrdici nema drugih tragova osim naših. Jednom sam ovdje pao, davno, porezao lice na travu, koja u čupercima raste poput zakopanih jastučića za pribadače. Imam blijedosrebrni ožiljak na licu. U obliku ptičjeg stopala. Tata juri dugim korakom, a ja se izmičem pijesku koji zabacuje iza sebe dok trči. Već je ugledao ptića morske laste na plaži pri dnu litice. Isprva, riba koja mu je zapela u grlu izgleda kao dugi jezik. Ptić baca glavu u stranu, onda ponire naprijed, gušeći se. Par koraka naprijed, zatetura pod težinom ribe pa se uspravi....

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