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

Mamica se opet bavila svojim brkovima, jak miris voska, kovrče pare iznad lonca. Bila je grozno opsjednuta uklanjanjem dlaka; ovo joj je bilo drugi put u tjedan dana. Pribor razbacan po pultu u prednjem dijelu kafea, ljepljive posudice voska među prašnjavim staklenkama za slatkiše, drveni štapići vire iz posude za žličice za kavu. "Uz malo sreće, ti ovo nećeš morati raditi", rekla je nanoseći zlaćanu smjesu iznad gornje usnice. Pogledala se u zrcalu na reklami Coca-Cole koja je visjela na zidu s brodskim podom i pritisnula komad gaze na usta dok se tekućina ne stvrdne. "Vidi me, ja sam Sicilijanka. Prekrivena dlakama koje ne želim, kao Turkinje, kao Grkinje. Ali ti si Irkinja, Majella, i bjelja od toga ne možeš biti. 'Trebaju ti samo dvije generacije da se asimiliraš.' To mi je rekao tvoj stari nono kad si se rodila. 'Sad si Irkinja, Bonfilia. I imaš irsku bambinu kao dokaz.'" Uprla je štapićem u mene. "Ali nisam postala plavuša zbog tebe, je l' da?" Moj je nono sjedio u stražnjem dijelu prostorije, u separeu uz prozor. Ustajao je u četiri svakog jutra, dolazio u gaćama i naopako okrenutom vunenom džemperu i sjedio u kafeu. Nije se micao do osam uvečer, jeo je mliječne kekse i smrdio na pišalinu, kako obično mirišu devedesetogodišnjaci. Ponekad si je umišljao stvari; vikao na ljude kojih nema, bijesno mahao rukama. Mamica je rekla da ponovno proživljava dane u talijanskoj mornarici kada se borio u Španjolskom građanskom ratu. Uopće nije obraćao pažnju na nas jer se u njegovoj šašavoj glavi još nismo ni rodile. Ni mi nismo previše obraćale pažnju na njega, pa zato nismo ni primijetile da je prošli tjedan imao drugi moždani udar. ...

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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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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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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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