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Violent Aect

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ChapLcr i is bascd on Lhc auLhors criLical cssay
1udgmcnL Is NoL an FxiL: Toward an AccLivc
CriLicism o Violcncc wiLh Amercan Psycho, which
appcarcd in Ange|ak 6. (ioo:): :,. A Taylor 8
Francis publicaLion, hLLp://www.Land.co.uk/journals.
ChapLcr 6 is bascd on Lhc auLhors criLical cssay Don
DcIillos In Lhc Ruins o Lhc FuLurc: IiLcraLurc,
Imagcs, and Lhc RhcLoric o Seeng ,/::, which ap-
pcarcd in rVt/ ::8. (ioo): :i6o.
ioo, by Lhc Board o RcgcnLs o Lhc UnivcrsiLy o
Ncbraska
All righLs rcscrvcd
ManuacLurcd in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs o Amcrica
Iibrary o Congrcss CaLaloging-in-PublicaLion DaLa
Abcl, Marco.
ViolcnL accL : liLcraLurc, cincma, and criLiquc aLcr
rcprcscnLaLion / Marco Abcl.
p. cm.
Includcs bibliographical rccrcnccs (p. ) and indcx.
issN-:: j,8-o-8oi-:::8-6 (alk. cloLh)
issN-:o: o-8oi-:::8-x (alk. cloLh)
:. Amcrican cLionioLh ccnLuryHisLory and
criLicism. i. Violcncc in liLcraLurc. . Violcncc in
moLion picLurcs. I.TiLlc.
rs,.v8t6 ioo,
8:'.ojdcii ioo6:oi8j
ScL in Chaparral Pro by Bob RciLz.
Dcsigncd by Ashlcy 1ohnsLon.

For Magda and Richard Abcl
In mcmory o Magda Iohr (:jojioo6)
Prcacc ix
AcknowlcdgmcnLs xvii
. Te Violence of Sensation
M||ers Crossng, AccL, and MasocriLicism :
. Judgment Is Not an Exit
RcprcscnLaLion, AccL, and Amercan Psycho ij
. Are We All Arnoldians?
A ConccpLual Ccncalogy o 1udgmcnL 6o
. Serializing Violence
PaLricia HighsmiLhs Fmpirical Pcdagogy
o Violcncc 8,
. Becoming-Violent, Becoming-DeNiro
Rcndcring Violcncc Visiblc on Scrccn :
. Don DeLillos In the Ruins of the Future
Violcncc, Pcdagogy, and Lhc RhcLoric o
Sccing j/:: :8i
NoLcs ii,
Bibliography i,
Indcx i,
ix
Te vo|ence oj sensaton s opposed to the vo|ence oj the repre-
sented (the sensatona|, the c|che). Te jormer s nseparab|e jrom
ts drect acton on the nervous system, the |eve|s through whch
t passes, the domans t traverses. beng tse|j a Fgure, t must
have nothng oj the nature oj the represented obect. jvo|encej s
not what one be|eves t to be, and depends |ess and |ess on what s
represented.
Cillcs Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon
! cant he|p but dream about a knd oj crtcsm that wou|d not try
to udge.
Michcl FoucaulL, Tc Maskcd Philosophcr
Any projccL LhaL lays claim Lo Lhc aLLribuLc o novclLy, lcL alonc
radical novclLy, dcscrvcs Lo bc rcccivcd wiLh immcdiaLc sus-
picion. Morc oLcn Lhan noL, such works Lurn ouL Lo bc mcrcly
minor (albciL aL Limcs imporLanL) modicaLions o amiliar argu-
mcnLs (how many morc radical social consLrucLivisL argumcnLs
docs onc havc Lo cndurc`). DcspiLc my awarcncss o Lhc dangcr
inhcrcnL Lo whaL is aL lcasL in parL a markcLing LrapLhc scduc-
Livc orcc o novclLy, howcvcr supcrcial, has long uncLioncd as
Lhc salcs cnginc o capiLalismI noncLhclcss procccd by submiL-
Ling LhaL Lhc ollowing sLudy has indccd somcLhing ncw Lo o-
cr wiLh rcgard Lo iLs choscn subjccL maLLcr, imagcs o violcncc
Prejace x
in liLcraLurc and lm. Spccically, whaL dicrcnLiaLcs Lhis book
rom cxisLing sLudics o imagcd violcncc such as, or insLancc,
Lhc gcncrally illuminaLing monographs or collccLions by SLcphcn
Princc (:jj8, iooo), ChrisLophcr ScharrcLL (:jjj), 1. David Slo-
cum (ioo:), SLcphcn 1ay Schncidcr (ioo), or 1amcs R. Cilcs
(ioo6) pcrLains Lo iLs basic mcLhodologicalindccd onLologi-
calassumpLion, namcly, LhaL signalcLic maLcrials o any kind
arc noL rcprcscnLaLions oj somcLhing buL, insLcad, consLiLuLc Lhc
rea|ty o rcprcscnLaLions (or Lhc rcal orccs aL work in whaL arc
oLcn dccmcd rcprcscnLaLions). PuL dicrcnLly, unlikc oLhcr criLi-
cal sLudics o violcncc in liLcraLurc and lm, minc docs noL ramc
Lhc cncounLcr wiLh violcnL imagcs in Lcrms o signicaLion and
mcaning (mcdiaLion) buL, insLcad, in Lcrms o accLs and orcc
LhaL is, asigniying inLcnsiLics.
Why docs Lhis mcLhodologicaland onLologicaldicrcncc
makc a dicrcncc` To cvokc Baruch Spinozas wcll-known claim
LhaL wc do noL cvcn know whaL bodics can do, Lhc conccpLual
gambiL o Lhis projccL is LhaL wc do noL cvcn know whaL violcnL
imagcs arc, lcL alonc how Lhcy work and Lhus whaL Lhcy can do
and Lhis dcspiLc Lhc cvcr-growing body o inLcllccLual labor cx-
pcndcd on Lhc subjccL maLLcr (albciL wiLh grcaLcr rcqucncy and
sysLcmaLiciLy in lm and mcdia sLudics Lhan in liLcrary sLudics,
as cvidcnccd by Lhc clds rcspccLivc bibliographics on Lhis sub-
jccL). In conLrasL Lo Lhis SpinozisL provocaLion, Lhc cxisLing body
o scholarship on violcnL imagcs Lcnds Lo assumc LhaL iL alrcady
knows whaL an (violcnL) imagc is and how iL works. IL simply as-
sumcs LhaL violcnL imagcs, jusL likc any oLhcr imagc, represent.
OpcraLing on Lhc rcprcscnLaLionalisL assumpLion LhaL (violcnL)
imagcs arc rcprcscnLaLionsrcccLions o somcLhing prior Lo
Lhcir cmcrgcncc, LhaL is, immaLcrial Lraccs o abscnL prcscnccs
Lhcsc sLudics sooncr raLhcr Lhan laLcr Lurn Lhcir aLLcnLion away
rom Lhcir allcgcd ocus (Lhc violcncc o imagcs) in avor o analy-
scs o whaL Lhcy rcprcscnL or mcan.
As a rcsulL, howcvcr, Lhcsc sLudics ncglccL imporLanL aspccLs
o Lhcsc violcnL imagcsaspccLs so crucial LhaL Lhcy may aL lcasL
parLially ncgaLc Lhc vcry conclusions rcprcscnLaLionally bascd
Prejace xi
sLudics o violcnL imagcs Lcnd Lo promoLc. I, or insLancc, wc in-
dccd do noL ycL know whaL violcnL imagcs arc and how Lhcy work
bccausc Lhcy arc noL rsL and orcmosL rcprcscnLaLions, Lhcn wc
may havc Lo qucsLion Lhc posL-LhcorisL asscrLion LhaL Lhc social
scicnccs and Lhcir hard ndings arc supcrior Lo Lhc mcrc in-
LcrprcLaLions o LradiLional lm (or liLcrary or culLural) sLudics,
sincc Lhc social scicnccs undoubLcdly opcraLc Lhcir invcsLigaLions
o violcnL mcdia imagcs by assuming LhaL Lhosc imagcs arc in-
dccd rcprcscnLaLional (scc Princc, Film Scholars). In whaL I Lakc
Lo bc a raLhcr Lypical social scicnLic approach Lo violcnL imagcs
in Hollywood lms, Nick Brownc and Tcrcsa Wcbb, or insLancc,
sLudy Lhc cxLcnL Lo which bodics in Hollywood lms can susLain
Lhc violcncc wiLh which Lhcy arc conronLcd. Tcir daLa shows
LhaL cLional cincmaLic characLcrs abiliLy Lo cxpcricncc pain ar
cxcccds Lhc violcncc any rcal human body could possibly cndurc.
Clcarly, so Lhc rcscarchcrs concludc, Hollywood violcncc is jusL
noL rcalisLic. Who would havc LhoughL` Any an o Lhc grcaL BriL-
ish Invasion group Tc Kinks would havc ccrLainly known Lhis
wiLhouL counLing insLanccs o violcncc in Lhcsc lms. As Lhcy
sing in Lhcir hiL Cclluloid Hcrocs, hcrocs o Lhc big scrccn ncvcr
ccl lasLing pain and ccrLainly ncvcr dic. NoL cvcn dicrcnLiaL-
ing bcLwccn insLanccs o violcncc in animaLcd lms and phoLo-
graphic rcalisL lms, sLudics such as Lhc onc by Brownc and Wcbb
cnd up noL only producing raLhcr undcrwhclming rcsulLs buL also
promoLing conclusions LhaL arc qucsLionablc prcciscly bccausc o
Lhcir ncglccL Lo Lhcorizc Lhcir objccL o sLudy: imagcs and how
Lhcy work and whaL Lhcy do.
In gcncral, Lhcn, iL sccms Lo mc LhaL Lhc rcsulLs produccd by
social scicnLic rcscarch can bc assumcd Lo bc valid on|y i Lhc
basic assumpLion undcrlying Lhcir approach Lo Lhc objccL Lhcy
sLudy is acLually validand I suggcsL iL may noL bc. And ycL, so-
cial policy is madcand insLiLuLional rclcvancc csLablishcdon
Lhc basis o such ndings. Tus, Lhrowing inLo rclic how prob-
lcmaLic Lhc basic assumpLions o such sLudics arc may, in Lhc cnd,
noL bc a small maLLcr.
In Lurn, my SpinozisL provocaLion LhaL wc do noL ycL know
Prejace xii
whaL violcnL imagcs arc and how Lhcy work also Lroublcs morc
LradiLional inLcrprcLaLivc sLudics (humanisL or noL) o (vio-
lcnL) imagcs. Iikc Lhosc o Lhc social scicnccs, Lhcsc sLudics ul-
LimaLcly Lcnd Lo skirL Lhc rcal issuc (how violcnL imagcs opcraLc
and whaL Lhcy do) in ordcr Lo gcL Lo Lhc lcvcl o whaL such imagcs
rcprcscnL. Tc dicrcncc bcLwccn Lhc social scicnccs and inLcr-
prcLaLivc sLudics is LhaL Lhc ormcr acccpL Lhc rcprcscnLaLional
hypoLhcsis and makc claims abouL Lhcsc rcprcscnLaLions social
(bchavioral) cccLs, whcrcas Lhc laLLcr arc morc inLcrcsLcd in dc-
baLing Lhc poliLical (idcological) cccLs o such rcprcscnLaLions.
BuL in so doing, Lhcy may undcrminc Lhc vcry conclusions Lhcy
ocr in Lhc namc o an idcnLiLy poliLicsdrivcn vcrsion o jus-
Licc. According Lo Lhcsc sLudics, (violcnL) imagcs arc good or bad
dcpcnding on how accuraLcly Lhcy rcccL Lhc world Lhcy arc sup-
poscd Lo rcprcscnL, as wcll as on Lhc conLcxL wiLhin which Lhc dc-
picLcd violcncc occurs. BuL i Lhcsc imagcs do noL primarily rcp-
rcscnL anyLhing Lo bcgin wiLhor, in any casc, i Lhcsc imagcs
work is noL primarily rcprcscnLaLionalLhcn whaLcvcr poliLical
advocacy is ocrcd, no maLLcr how admirablc, accs Lhc problcm
o irrclcvancy, sincc iL grounds iLs poliLical sLancc in somcLhing
LhaL simply docs noL cxisL as such.
Indccd, hcrc lics Lhc crux o my inLcrvcnLion. Bccausc o Lhc
assumpLion o csLablishcd sLudicssocial scicnLic and inLcrprc-
LaLivc alikcLhaL (violcnL) imagcs arc representatons o somc-
Lhing clsc, criLical pracLicc cnds up, in onc orm or anoLhcr, laying
claim Lo whaL Lhcy bclicvc Lo bc a wcll-oundcd posiLion o udg-
ment. TaL Lhcsc cxisLing sLudics o (violcnL) imagcs ulLimaLcly
arc abouL judgmcnL is, howcvcr, no accidcnL, or Lhc purposc o
such rcprcscnLaLional sLudics is ulLimaLcly always PlaLonic in
naLurc. Tcir goal is prcciscly Lo disLinguish bcLwccn good (jusL)
and bad (unjusL) copics and Lo mainLain Lhc abiliLy Lo judgc bad
imagcs (o violcncc) as a ncccssary and cccLivc mcans Lo curb
Lhcm and Lhcir allcgcd ncgaLivc cccLs (bchavioral or idcologi-
cal). TaL is, such judgmcnL always scrvcs Lhc implicd purposc
o drawing a linc bcLwccn Lhc judging subjccL (Lhc criLic) and
Lhc judgcd objccL (Lhc imagc, violcnL or oLhcrwisc), cvcn i Lhc
Prejace xiii
languagc o judgmcnL is noL cxpliciLly uscd. (I.c., Lhc disLancing,
analyLic languagc characLcrisLic o rcprcscnLaLionally bascd aca-
dcmic discoursc uncLions as a rhcLorical dcvicc Lo dirccL aLLcn-
Lion away rom Lhc vcry moralizing judgmcnLs LhaL acLually arc aL
work buL, Loday, arc oLcn dccmcd Loo unashionablc or Lhcm Lo
bc cxprcsscd dirccLly.) Tc vcry abiliLy Lo judgc imagcs bascd on
Lhcir rcprcscnLaLional qualiLy is considcrcd a ncccssary (Lhough
pcrhaps noL su cicnL) Lool in Lhc ghL againsL violcncc. Rcprc-
scnLaLional sLudics o violcncc always insinuaLc Lhc cxisLcncc o
a nonviolcnL spacc, suggcsLing LhaL a nonviolaLcd phcnomcno-
logical wholc cxisLs prior Lo Lhc onscL o violcncc. To (rc)csLablish
Lhis sLaLc o aairs is Lhc (implicd) hopc o rcprcscnLaLional criLi-
cism and characLcrizcs iLs poliLics and moral vicw.
My hypoLhcsis, howcvcr, is LhaL rcprcscnLaLionally bascd criLi-
cal cncounLcrs wiLh violcnL imagcs arc bascd on a poLcnLial con-
ccpLual crror and LhaL Lhis crror dirccLly dcrivcs rom commonly
acccpLcd assumpLions abouL (violcnL) imagcsLo wiL, LhaL Lhcy
arc rcccLions o somcLhing clsc. In acL, I will arguc LhaL Lhc vcry
rccoursc Lo imagcs qua rcprcscnLaLions s iLscl a orm o violcncc,
raLhcr Lhan consLiLuLing Lhc assumcd anLidoLc. Morcovcr, Lhc
ollowing sLudy o violcnL imagcs ocrs Lhc vicw LhaL Lhc hopc Lo
cscapc violcncc as such is an impossiblc oncbccausc onLologi-
cally violcnccs arc cvcrywhcrc and incscapablc.
I purposcully ocr Lhis proposiLion wiLh somc polcmical orcc
in hopcs LhaL iL will ulLimaLcly bc wclcomcd as my aLLcmpL Lo pro-
vokc a dicrcnL LrajccLory o LhoughL abouL Lhc subjccL aL hand. I
Lakcn scriously, howcvcr, Lhis claim dcmands LhaL Lhc qucsLions
wc ask o violcnL imagcs arc noL whaL Lhcy mcan and whcLhcr
Lhcy arc jusLicd buL how Lhcy congurc our abiliLy Lo rcspond
Lo, and do Lhings wiLh, Lhcm. Tc planc o cncounLcr wiLh Lhcsc
imagcs is, in oLhcr words, noL LhaL o judgmcnL buL LhaL o cLhics
(rcsponsc-abiliLy). I will call whaL is ulLimaLcly a Lhoroughly sub-
juncLivc cncounLcr wiLh violcncc masocriLicism. Such a modc o
cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL imagcs bcgins, and conLinucs Lo pursuc,
iLs inquiry by asking, whaL would happcn j wc bcgan wiLh Lhc
onLological assumpLion LhaL violcnccs arc cvcrywhcrc and undcr-
Prejace xiv
sLood iL as Lhc cnginc o an expermenta| cndcavor raLhcr Lhan a
dubious claim Lo LruLh`
Tough Lhis sLudy limiLs iLscl Lo a discussion o violcnL im-
agcs, iLs implicaLions Lransccnd Lhc primary subjccL maLLcr, or
iL is vcry much conccrncd wiLh Lhc practce and pedagogca| jorce
o liLcrary, lm, and culLural criLicism. Spccically, alLhough my
sLudy is noL dcsigncd Lo uncLion as an cxLcndcd cngagcmcnL wiLh
Lhc criLical rcccpLion and dc acLo applicaLion o posL-sLrucLural-
isL LhoughL Lo Lhc sLudy o liLcrary and cincmaLic imagcs, iL can
ncvcrLhclcss bc rcad as proposing LhaL posL-sLrucLuralisL criLical
pracLicc has noL ycL bccn posL-sLrucLural cnough. NoLwiLhsLand-
ing Lhc many cxccllcnL cngagcmcnLs wiLh posL-sLrucLural Lhink-
crs such as 1acqucs Dcrrida, Michcl FoucaulL, or Cillcs Dclcuzc,
I, or onc, Lcnd Lo Lhink LhaL mosL o Lhc Limc Lhcsc cncounLcrs
do noL go ar cnough prcciscly bccausc Lhcy conLinuc Lo conccivc
o signalcLic maLcrial in rcprcscnLaLional Lcrms. Hcncc, Dcrrida
bccomcs Lhc high pricsL o undccidabiliLy, FoucaulL Lhc sagc o
subvcrsion, and Dclcuzc Lhc guru o minoriLarianism. Whilc iL
is undcrsLandablc LhaL Lhcsc Lhinkcrs arc oLcn rcccivcd in such
waysaLcr all, Dcrrida s conccrncd wiLh undccidabiliLy, Fou-
caulL wiLh rcsisLancc, and Dclcuzc wiLh Lhc minorwhaL oLcn
gcLs crucially omiLLcd rom Lhcir LhoughL is LhaL all Lhrcc conccp-
Lualizc languagc and imagcs in Lcrms o jorce, LhaL is, arcprcscn-
LaLionally. Hcncc, Lo my mind, as long as criLical pracLicc conLin-
ucs Lo producc work in Lhc namc o posL-sLrucLuralisL LhoughL
wiLhouL hccding whaL I Lakc Lo bc iLs kcy provocaLion, iL will con-
Linuc Lo pcrpcLuaLc claims abouL iLs objccL o sLudy LhaL, Lo usc
Tcodor Adornos phrasc, do noL hccd Lhc primacy o Lhc objccL.
In addiLion Lo Lhis books rclcvancc or Lhc gcncral discoursc
on (violcnL) imagcs and iLs aLLcmpL Lo puL a spccic undcrsLand-
ing o Lhcory (cspccially Dclcuzc buL also FoucaulL, Adorno, and
Michacl HardL and AnLonio Ncgri) Lo work, Lhis sLudy also brings
LogcLhcr a numbcr o kcy LcxLs in Dclcuzcs ocuvrc LhaL havc Lhus
ar rcccivcd rclaLivcly liLLlc aLLcnLion in liLcrary, lm, and culLural
sLudics: Masochsm. Co|dness and Crue|ty and Francs Pacon. Te
Logc oj Sensaton. In acL, in conjuncLion wiLh Dclcuzcs (and Dc-
Prejace xv
lcuzc and Fclix CuaLLaris) work in gcncral, much o my conccp-
Lual Loolbox will bc dcvclopcd rom Lhcsc Lwo kcy monographs
boLh o which spccically cngagc violcnL subjccL maLLcrs. Tus,
as a poLcnLially addcd bcncL, Lhc prcscnL book inviLcs Lhc rcadcr
Lo (rc)considcr Dclcuzcs work in lighL o Lhc (ncw) connccLions I
orgc Lhrough considcring Lhcsc books LogcLhcr.
Civcn Lhc abovc, I Lhcrcorc ask Lhc rcadcr Lo rcad Lhc ollow-
ing sLudy as an aLLcmpL Lo do oLhcrwiscLhaL is, as an exper-
ment. Tis book should noL bc rcad as a hisLory o violcnL imagcs,
and alLhough all o my primary siLcs comc rom posLWorld War
II Amcrican cLion and cincma, Lhis book makcs no claims abouL
Lhc parLicular naLionaliLy o Lhcsc violcnL imagcs. O coursc, in Lhc
agc o posL-Lhcory, onc o Lhc ccnLral LcncLs o scholarship is LhaL
onc musL conLcxLualizc a work o arL i onc wanLs Lo undcrsLand
iL. In rcsponsc Lo Lhis hisLoricisL commonplacc, I agrcc wiLh Slavoj
ick LhaL Lhc propcr Dclcuzcan counLcrclaim is Lo suggcsL LhaL
Loo much o a hisLorical conLcxL can blur Lhc propcr conLacL wiLh a
work o arL (i.c., LhaL Lo cnacL Lhis conLacL onc should absLracL rom
Lhc works conLcxL), buL also LhaL iL is, raLhcr, Lhc work o arL iLscl
LhaL providcs a conLcxL cnabling us Lo undcrsLand propcrly a givcn
hisLorical siLuaLion (Organs wthout Podes :).
Or, as Dcrrida has LaughL us long ago, whilc conLcxLsocial,
hisLorical, psychic, poliLical, and so onmaLLcrs, il ny a pas dc
hors-LcxLc. Howcvcr, I Lakc Dcrridas sLaLcmcnL lcss as a dircc-
Livc or criLics Lo cLishizc LcxLualiLy Lhan as an arLiculaLion o
a scnsc o a ncLwork o cxLcrioriLy wiLhin which no onc Lcrm is
privilcgcd. 1usL as no mcaning can bc dcLcrmincd ouL o conLcxL,
so no conLcxL allows or Lhc LoLal saLuraLion o a LcxLs mcaning.
In acL, onc o Lhc morc crucial lcssons ocrcd Lo us by posL-sLruc-
Luralism is LhaL conLcxL is ncvcr rcally ouLsidc Lhc LcxL prcciscly
bccausc conLcxL and LcxL arc Lhc rcsulL o Lhc same ncLwork o
orccs, or, Lo usc Dclcuzc and CuaLLaris kcy conccpL, planc o im-
mancncc. TaL is, iL is impossiblc boLh Lo cscapc conLcxL by Lurn-
ing Lo a morc or lcss hcrmcLically scalcd-o hcrmcncuLic conccp-
Lion o Lhc LcxL (closc analysis) and Lo cscapc cxccssivc LcxLualiLy
by poinLing Lo Lhc ouLsidc o a LcxL, Lhc conLcxL. FiLhcr movc is
Prejace xvi
impossiblc bccausc iL ncccssarily would occur mcrcly in rcsponsc
Lo Lhc cngcndcring play o asigniying orccs (whaL Dcrrida, or
insLancc, calls, among oLhcr Lcrms, dicrancc) wiLhouL which
Lhcrc would bc nciLhcr LcxL nor conLcxL.
Whilc hisLorical and conLcxLual approachcs undoubLcdly havc
much Lo ocr, Lhcy arc ncvcrLhclcss spccic cxamplcs o Lhc vcry
rcprcscnLaLional approach Lo violcnL imagcs LhaL Lhis book wanLs
Lo puL inLo suspcnsion, aL lcasL momcnLarily. Hcncc, arLiculaLing
in grcaLcr dcLail Lhc costs o such rcprcscnLaLional approachcs Lo
violcnL imagcs and ocring, alLcrnaLivcly, an cncounLcr wiLh such
imagcs as asigniying inLcnsiLics or accLs, Lhis sLudy will gradu-
ally work iLscl Lhrough a numbcr o liLcrary and lmic siLcsa
cw momcnLs in Lhc lms o Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs, Lhc discursivc
rclaLionship bcLwccn BrcL FasLon Flliss novcl Amercan Psycho
and iLs lm adapLaLion by cminisL dirccLor Mary Harron, PaLri-
cia HighsmiLhs cLion, Lhc acLing work o RobcrL DcNiro, and
Don DcIillos cssay on j/::. Tis choicc o primary siLcs, whilc
undoubLcdly bascd on pcrsonal prccrcnccs, acLually cmbodics a
Lwo-old logic: on onc hand, iL arLiculaLcs a spccic insLanLiaLion
o an accLivc smcaring o violcncc across a sliding scalc o inLcn-
siLics, on Lhc oLhcr, iL rcccLs Lhis works proccss o gcncraLion as
such. Fach cncounLcr wiLh onc spccic siLc cndcd up provoking a
ncw qucsLion wiLh which Lhc siLc iLscl was noL conccrncd as such
and Lhus ncccssiLaLcd my Lurning clscwhcrc as a mcans Lo nd a
siLc LhaL Lacklcs Lhc vcry qucsLion Lhc prcvious siLc provokcd buL
did noL addrcss.
Tus, Lhc argumcnLaLivc logic o Lhis book pcrormaLivcly o-
crs a pcdagogical cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL imagcs LhaL dcrivcs
iLs cLhical impcLus dirccLly rom Lhc siLcs Lhcmsclvcs, rom how
Lhc imagcd violcncc iLscl calls orLh criLical rcsponsc-abiliLynoL
or Lhcsc objccLs buL bejore Lhcm. In Lhc cnd, I will suggcsL LhaL
whilc such rcsponsc-abiliLy can ncvcr cscapc Lhc momcnL o judg-
mcnL, suspcnding iLs occurrcncc is a qucsLion o habiL(uaLion)
o pcdagogical rcpcLiLion cmbodicd by a masochisLic pracLicc o
inhabiLing Lhc momcnL bejore subjccLivc inLcrprcLaLion, LhaL is,
Lhc momcnL o Lhc cvcnL o violcncc iLscl.
xvii
In Lhc summcr o :jj, I rcad or Lhc rsL Limc BrcL FasLon Flliss
Amercan Psycho. For bcLLcr or or worsc, Lhc physical cxpcricncc
o rcading Lhis novcl had a proound impacL on mc. AL various
momcnLs in my cncounLcr wiLh Lhis LcxL, I clL Lhc urgc Lo scL Lhc
book asidc Lo go ouL or a walk in Lhc unbcarablc summcr hcaL
o ALlanLa, Ccorgia. Fxposing myscl Lo LcmpcraLurcs around
onc hundrcd dcgrccs FahrcnhciL and ncar :oo pcrccnL humidiLy
sccmcd a morc scnsiblc Lhing Lo do Lhan siLLing in silcncc in my
chair pondcring somc o Lhc mosL nausca-inducing passagcs in
Flliss inamous novcl. Bcing lcss morally ouLragcd by Lhc books
conLcnL Lhan physically accLcd by Lhc cxpcricncc o rcading Lhis
LcxL, I could noL hclp buL scnsc my ascinaLion wiLh Lhis novcl and
whaL iL was capablc o doing Lo mc. In hindsighL I Lhink iL was Lhis
capaciLy o Flliss novcl Lo accL mc LhaL iniLially poinLcd mc in a
dirccLion o rcscarch o which Lhis book is Lhc cnd rcsulL. For Lhis
rcason alonc, my rsL cxprcssion o graLiLudc musL go ouL Lo BrcL
FasLon Fllis.
BuL or ulLimaLcly channcling whaL was iniLially noL much
morc Lhan a ccling o bcing inLrigucd (and conuscd) inLo whaL I
hopc is now an inLcllccLually cohcrcnL and sLimulaLing argumcnL,
I am indcbLcd Lo many oLhcrs whom I cncounLcrcd ovcr Lhc ycars,
bc iL in pcrson or Lhrough Lhcir work. IL would bc impossiblc Lo
providc a complcLc lisL o all Lhc namcs o Lhosc who inspircd my
own Lhinking. I am graLcul Lo all o you. SLill, I musL singlc ouL
somc pcoplc whosc inLcllccLual labor lcL indcliblc marks on Lhc
shapc Lhis projccL has Lakcn. FirsL o all, I am parLicularly graLc-
ul Lo KaLhryn Humc, 1crcy T. Ncalon, and 1ohn Muckclbaucr,
wiLhouL whosc invaluablc advicc and asLonishing inLcllccLual
gcncrosiLy I could ncvcr havc nishcd Lhis book. My counLlcss
discussions wiLh Lhcm allowcd mc Lo gcncraLc and LcsL ouL a sus-
Laincd LhcorcLical vcrsion o whaL sLarLcd ouL as mcrcly a vagucly
scnscd LhcorcLical inclinaLion Loward my objccL o rcscarch. So
Lhank you or ncvcr Liring o rcading whaL wcrc aL Limcs cxcruci-
aLingly long rough draLs o individual chapLcrs!
As wcll, I ccl blcsscd Lo havc bccn ablc Lo proL rom a sc-
rics o incrcdibly smarL and sharing inLcrlocuLors: Richard Doylc,
Fvan WaLkins, SLcvcn Shaviro, Charlcs SLivalc, Philip 1cnkins,
Dan SmiLh, 1crcy Karnicky, 1im RobcrLs, Ryan NcLzlcy, Mc-
gan Brown, ChrisLinc Harold, Kcvin DcIuca, PaL Cchrkc, Cina
Frcolini, Dcbbic Hawhcc, and FlizabcLh Mazzolini all ocrcd mc
ricndship and good counscl ovcr Lhc ycars LhaL susLaincd my in-
LcrcsL in Lhis projccL and gavc mc cncrgy Lo bring iL Lo a nish. I
also wanL Lo Lhank my collcagucs in Lhc DcparLmcnL o Fnglish
aL Lhc UnivcrsiLy o Ncbraska, which scrvcs as my insLiLuLional
homc: Lhc warm, wclcoming aLmosphcrc LhaL awaiLcd mc upon
my arrival in Iincoln in ioo cnablcd mc Lo nish my book in
a rclaxcd and inLcllccLually sLimulaLing cnvironmcnL. I wanL Lo
cxprcss my graLiLudc cspccially Lo Whcclcr WinsLon Dixon and
Cwcndolyn Audrcy FosLcr, who havc bccn morc Lhan orLhcom-
ing in sharing Lhcir knowlcdgc o acadcmic publishing. Iikcwisc,
Lhank you Lo Iinda Ray PraLL, who gavc mc my rsL Lcnurc-Lrack
job hcrc aL uNi, or puLLing such aiLh in mc, as wcll as 1oy RiLchic,
who in hcr capaciLy as my dcparLmcnL chair showcd conLinuing
supporL o my work. FurLhcrmorc, I musL Lhank Nick Spcnccr,
noL mcrcly or rcading parLs o Lhc manuscripL, buL also or Lhc
counLlcss discussions o all Lhings Lhcory and, imporLanLly, ooL-
ball! IcLs go Rcds! And, o coursc, many Lhanks Lo IadcLLc Ran-
dolph and cvcryonc clsc aL Lhc UnivcrsiLy o Ncbraska Prcss who
workcd so diligcnLly on Lhc nal producLion o Lhis book, as wcll
as Lo Alcxandra 1cnkins or hcr swiL and diligcnL acL chccking. I
am also graLcul Lo Raincr Smolinski and Tomas McHancy, who
Acknow|edgments xviii
boLh counsclcd mc Lo considcr going Lo graduaLc school and, in
Lhc casc o Lhc laLLcr, hclpcd mc gcL my rsL publicaLion, wiLhouL
which I probably would noL bc in Lhis counLry righL now.
BuL such a book is noL wriLLcn wiLhouL also rccciving much
supporL rom pcoplc who bclong Lo a dicrcnL, nonacadcmic parL
o oncs lic. Having movcd rom Ccrmany Lo Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs
in :jji, I ccl cspccially graLcul or Lhc cnduring ricndship o
somc o my oldcsL ricnds rom Ccrmany, including buL noL lim-
iLcd Lo Marc Donay, ChrisLian Wcisz, 1oachim Milkowski, Dan-
icla Hcirich, ULz Farbcr, and, rom ALlanLa, my rsL homc away
rom homc, T. ScoLL BarrcLL. Whcncvcr I hiL a rough spoL during
Lhc wriLing o Lhis book ovcr Lhc ycars, I clL comorLcd by Lhc
knowlcdgc o your ricndship. IasL, buL ccrLainly noL lcasL, my
warmcsL graLiLudc gocs Lo Robyn Cay or hcr supporL, kindncss,
and inLcgriLy.
In Lhc cnd, howcvcr, Lhis book would havc simply bccn im-
possiblc or mc Lo wriLc wiLhouL Lhc ncvcr-cnding supporL o my
parcnLs, Richard and Magda Abcl. Tough Lhcy will noL bc ablc
Lo rcad Lhis book (barring Lhc casc o a uLurc LranslaLion inLo
Ccrman), I ncvcrLhclcss Lakc grcaL plcasurc in knowing LhaL Lhcy
will bc ablc Lo havc Lhis book aL homc on a bookshcl as a maLcrial
Lracc o my inLcllccLual labor LhaL Lhcy supporLcd so gcncrously
ovcr Lhc ycars.
Acknow|edgments xix
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :
Violcncc. MosL would bc happy i Lhcy ncvcr had Lo cxpcricncc
iL, and many arc convinccd o Lhc cxisLcncc o nonviolcnL spaccs,
whcLhcr Lhcy cxisLcd only in Lhc pasL and clscwhcrc, arc acLu-
ally availablc in Lhc hcrc and now, or, pcrhaps, arc only going Lo
cmcrgc in a ycL Lo comc Limc and spacc. And ycL, noLwiLhsLand-
ing Lhc all-pcrvasivc privilcging o Lhc nonviolcnL ovcr Lhc vio-
lcnL, violcncc surrounds us, has surroundcd us, and iL is hard
Lo scc how iL will noL surround us in Lhc uLurc. ViolcnL imagcs
arc Lhc licblood o 1v and abound in Lhc hisLory o cincma, Lhc
hisLory o liLcraLurc and Lhc arLs in gcncral would bc unLhink-
ablc wiLhouL Lhcm. And whaL abouL Lhc pcrvcrscly luring imagc
o violcncc in orm o a car crash on Lhc Ncw 1crscy Lurnpikc`
Tis cvcnL o rcal violcncc incviLably produccs Lra c jamsin
Lhc other dirccLion, causcd by voycurisLic drivcrs scduccd by Lhc
imagc o oLhcrs pain. BuL violcncc is noL jusL cvcrywhcrc in im-
agcd orm. Can anyonc rcmcmbcr a singlc momcnL whcn Lhcrc
was noL somc violcnL conicL somcwhcrc around Lhc world or
a day wiLhouL murdcr, rapc, baLLcry, or oLhcr acLs o violcncc`
Or whaL abouL Lhc war on Lcrror, subscqucnLly rcnamcd global
sLrugglc againsL violcnL cxLrcmism: docs anyonc rcally bclicvc
LhaL Lhis spccic violcncc can cvcr bc complcLcly climinaLcd`
WhaL abouL Lhc violcncc o haLc spccch or all-pcrvasivc cconomic
cxploiLaLion` WhaL abouL Lhc violcncc cnLailcd by Lhc dcmand
LhaL passcngcrs Lakc o Lhcir shocs whcn going Lhrough airporL
sccuriLy, noL Lo mcnLion LhaL Lhcy submiL Lhcmsclvcs Lo random

Millers Crossing, Aect, and Masocriticism
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i
body scarchcs` Tc violcncc o Lhc aLLacks o j/:: has now mu-
LaLcdpcrmancnLly, irrcvocably, iL sccmsinLo a mulLipliciLy o
pracLiccs whosc violcncc is admiLLcdly lcss rccognizablc Lhan LhaL
o a planc cxplosion. BuL why assumc LhaL violcncc cxisLs, and is
rcal, only whcn iLs occurrcncc is casily rccognizablc`
O coursc, Lhc violcncc involvcd in anoLhcr pcrson cnLcring
my privaLc spacc, cvcn i I bclicvc LhaL hc has no oLhcr moLivc
Lhan cnsuring Lhc sacLy o all passcngcrs (buL how cxacLly do I
know Lhis`), is noL Lhc samc as Lhc spccLacular violcncc involvcd
in blowing up Lhc World Tradc CcnLcr. Tc violcncc LhaL is parL
o Lhc rouLinc pracLiccs o U.S. airporL sccuriLy pcrsonncl gcLLing
Loo closc or my pcrsonal comorL aL lcasL parLially dcrivcs rom
Lhc acL LhaL I simply havc no way Lo prcvcnL Lhis violaLion o
pcrsonal spacc rom happcning: i I objccLcd in any way, I would
insLanLancously undcrgo an incorporcal LransormaLion, rom
privaLc ciLizcn o anoLhcr counLry Lo suspccL, and conscqucnLly
would bc violaLcd cvcn morc. Tis violcncc is noL o Lhc samc kind
as Lhc violcncc o Lhc bombs in Madrid, Iondon, FgypL, or Iraq,
Lhough Lhis docs noL makc iL any lcss rcal or signicanL. Nor is
Lhc violcncc o j/:: o Lhc samc kind as Lhc violcncc pcrpcLraLcd
againsL Lhc millions who dicd in Ccrman conccnLraLion camps,
SovicL gulags, or civil wars LhaL havc bccn and sLill arc oughL all
ovcr Lhc worldand arc oLcn morc or lcss covcrLly sponsorcd
by Lhc vcry counLrics LhaL arc Lhc sLaunchcsL pracLiLioncrs o a
rhcLoric o dcmocraLic nonviolcncc.
Indccd, Lo say LhaL Lhcsc cxamplcs o rcal and imagcd vio-
lcncc arc noL Lhc samc, LhaL Lhcy arc derent, and LhaL Lhcrc is a
problcm wiLh considcring Lhcm as cxamplcs o Violcncc insLcad
o rcgarding Lhcm as a scrics o dicrcnL violcnccsLhis is Lhc
rsL gambiL o Lhc prcscnL sLudy.
l
In acL, parL o my argumcnL
LhroughouL Lhis book will bc LhaL onc o Lhc drawbacks o rcprc-
scnLaLional criLicism o violcncc is LhaL iL Lcnds Lo cradicaLc Lhis
vcry dicrcncc by conguring Lhc event o violcncc as always bc-
ing abouL somcLhing oLhcr Lhan iLs consLiLuLivc orccs, inLcnsi-
Lics, or rhyLhms.
BuL lcL us slow down, as wc arc gcLLing ahcad o oursclvcs. Onc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton
Lhing LhaL I Lhink is unconLrovcrsialunlikc, pcrhaps, somc o
my sLaLcmcnLs in Lhc prcvious paragraphsis LhaL violcnL im-
agcs Lcnd Lo bc conLrovcrsial.
2
To somc, Lhcy arc maddcningly rc-
pulsivc and rcsponsiblc or Lhc dcclinc o WcsLcrn civilizaLion, Lo
oLhcrs, Lhcy arc cxciLingly subvcrsivc, rcsponsiblc or provoking
uncomorLablc qucsLions and powcrul LruLhs abouL normaLivc
socicLy. And Lo oLhcrs sLill, violcncc jusL rulcs, Lo cvokc Lhc bril-
lianLly limiLcd rhcLorical capaciLics o Lhosc Lwo grcaL pracLiLio-
ncrs o all Lhings un-PC: Bcavis and BuLL-Hcad. WhaLcvcr dicr-
cnccs criLics may display in Lhcir criLical cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL
imagcs in lm and liLcraLurc, howcvcr, Lhc onc Lhing cvcryonc
(okay, maybc noL Bcavis) sccms Lo agrcc on is LhaL a kcy aLLribuLc
o such imagcs is Lhcir abiliLy Lo raisc Lhc qucsLion o Lhcir ethca|
valuc. Indccd, wc may arguc LhaL violcnL imagcs provocaLion o
Lhc cLhical momcnL is nciLhcr limiLcd Lo nor randomly mobilizcd
by insLiLuLionalizcd habiLs o criLical rcccLion. InsLcad, violcnL
imagcs themse|ves consLiLuLivcly raisc Lhc qucsLion o cLhics, as
Lhc rcmaindcr o Lhis chapLcr will arguc in grcaLcr dcLail. TaL is,
in Lhis inLroducLory chapLcr I hopc Lo build a conccpLual Loolbox
LhaL may bc producLivc or a criLical cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL im-
agcs LhaL dcsircs Lo cncounLcr Lhcm on Lhc lcvcl o Lhcir own rea|-
ty raLhcr Lhan on Lhc lcvcl o Lhcir mcaning.
Te Violence of Sensation
Takc, or insLancc, M||ers Crossng (:jjo), an Amcrican indc-
pcndcnL lm by Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs LhaL cxpliciLly orcgrounds
Lhc qucsLion o cLhics as Lhc ccnLral driving cnginc o Lhc lms
violcnL narraLivc. Tc lm opcns wiLh a rcmarkablc sccnc LhaL
cincmaLically dramaLizcs Lhc ocus o Lhc sLudy ahcad. As wc scc
icc cubcs bcing droppcd inLo an cmpLy glass o whiskcy, wc hcar
an ILalian Amcrican voicc dcclarc: Im Lalkin abouL ricndship.
Im Lalkin abouL characLcr. Im Lalkin abouLhcll, Ico, Im noL
cmbarrasscd Lo usc Lhc wordIm Lalkin abouL cLhics. 1usL bc-
orc Lhc nal dcclaraLion, Lhc camcra cuLs Lo a long shoL o Lhc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton
spcakcr, showing us a pudgy, round-accd man siLLing in a chair
on Lhc gucsL sidc o a dcsk. Tc man sporLs a Lhin musLachc LhaL
concurrcnLly indicaLcs Lhc carc hc puLs inLo his physical appcar-
ancc and Lhc raLhcr ridiculous characLcr o whaL hc bclicvcs Lo bc
Lhc look o a sophisLicaLcd gangsLcr o Lhc laLc :jios. Vicwcrs a-
miliar wiLh Lhc violcnL gangsLcr lm cyclcs o Lhc laLc :jios and
carly :jos LhaL lcd Lo Lhc implcmcnLaLion o Lhc Haycs Codc will
immcdiaLcly scnsc LhaL Lhis guy is no IiLLlc Cacsar (as playcd
by Fdgar C. Robinson in Mcrvyn IcRoys Ltt|e Caesar [:jo]),
Public Fncmy (as playcd by 1amcs Cagncy in William Wcllmans
:j: lm o Lhc samc namc), or Scaracc (as playcd by Paul
Muni in Howard Hawkss :ji lm). As Lhc camcra slowly zooms
in onLo Lhc spcakcrs acc, Lhc man who will laLcr bc idcnLicd as
1ohnny Caspar (1on PoliLo) conLinucs his spccch:
You know Im a sporLing man. I likc Lo lay an occasional bcL.
BuL I ainL LhaL sporLing. Whcn I x a ghL, say I pay a Lo :
Lo Lhrow a goddamn ghL, I gurc I goL Lhc righL Lo cxpccL
LhaL ghL Lo go o on Lo :. BuL cvcry Limc I lay a bcL wiLh
LhaL son o a biLch Bcrnic Bcrnbaum, bcorc I know iL Lhc
odds is cvcn up, or worsc, Im bcLLing on Lhc shorL moncy.
Tc shccny knows I likc surc Lhings. Hcs sclling Lhc ino
LhaL I xcd a ghL.
ALcr a bric silcncc, a closc-up o Caspar highlighLs his mouLh
making smacking noiscs, again indicaLing LhaL hc is anyLhing buL
a man o sophisLicaLion. Tcn hc orccs Lhc issuc: So, iLs clcar
whaL Im saying` CuL back Lo Ico (AlbcrL Finncy), siLLing in his
chair bchind an imprcssivc dcsk, coldly rcsponding: As mud.
Bclicving LhaL Ico noL only has undcrsLood buL also agrccs
wiLh his posiLion, Caspar, again shown in a closc-up, carrics on:
ILs gcLLing so a busincss man canL cxpccL no rcLurn rom a xcd
ghL. Now, you canL LrusL no x, whaL can you LrusL` For a good
rcLurn you goLLa go bcLLing on chancc. In Caspars vicw, Lhcn,
cLhics mcans rsL and orcmosL Lhc climinaLion o chancc. WiLh
chancc in play, so hc argucs as Lhc camcra inLcrcuLs his lincs wiLh
shoLs o Ico and Lwo oLhcr gangsLcrs prcscnL in Lhc roomTom
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton
(Cabricl Byrnc), Lhc man wc iniLially saw only in a blurrcd imagc,
and Caspars hiL man, Lhc Danc (1. F. Frccman)yourc back
wiLh anarchy. RighL back in Lhc junglc. TaLs why cLhics is im-
porLanL. WhaL scparaLcs us rom Lhc animals, bcasLs o burdcn,
bcasLs o prcycLhics. Whcrcas Bcrnic Bcrnbaum is a horsc o a
dicrcnL color, cLhics-wisc. As in hc ainL goL any. ALcr a mo-
mcnL, Ico asks Caspar, So you wanL him killcd` Lo which Lhc
Danc, raLhcr Lhan Caspar, answcrs, For sLarLcrs.
On onc lcvcl, Lhc lms cxposiLion sccms LradiLional and prc-
dicLablc cnough. Vicwcrs arc allowcd Lo obscrvc Lhc whcclings
and dcalings o undcrworld characLcrs and arc lcd Lo cxpccL vio-
lcnL conicL Lo cmcrgc bcorc Lhc lm is ovcr. Wc cxpccL Lhis noL
only bccausc o any poLcnLial prior cxposurc Lo Lhc lmmakcrs
work, oLhcr gangsLcr lms, or pulp cLion/crimc novcls buL also
bccausc Lhc lms narraLivc iLscl is consLrucLcd in lincar ashion:
wc arc privy Lo a prcscnL convcrsaLion in which wc lcarn why pasL
gricvanccs dcmand uLurc rcsoluLion.
3
In oLhcr words, Lhc lm
providcs us wiLh Lhc causc or Lhc violcncc LhaL is ycL Lo comc.
Violcncc on Lhis lcvcl is a uncLion o narraLivc, or o probabil-
iLy: givcn Lhc narraLivc inormaLion, iL is cxLrcmcly likcly LhaL aL
lcasL onc o Lhc characLcrs will bc dcad bcorc Lhc cnd crcdiLs roll
across Lhc big scrccn.
YcL, on anoLhcr lcvcl Lhis sccnc also conronLs vicwcrs wiLh a
dicrcnL kind o violcncc. IL is a violcncc rcndcrcd visiblc Lhrough
Lhc inLcnsiLics o Lhc coloraLion o Lhc misc-cn-sccnc. Tis vio-
lcncc conronLs spccLaLors on Lhc lcvcl o accL bejore iL is madc
availablc Lo Lhcm on Lhc lcvcl o narraLivc or symbolism, LhaL is,
rcprcscnLaLion. IL is Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion raLhcr Lhan Lhc vio-
lcncc o rcprcscnLaLion, Lo usc Lhc disLincLion LhaL Cillcs Dclcuzc
inLroduccs in his sLudy o Lhc violcnL works o BriLish painLcr
Francis Bacon. According Lo Dclcuzc, Bacons crcaLivcindccd
cLhicalormula is Lo painL Lhc scrcam morc Lhan Lhc horror
(Francs Pacon ). TaL is, Bacon is morc inLcrcsLcd in painLing
an accL LhaL susLains Lhc inLcnsiLy o violcncc Lhan Lhc causc
(Lhc horror) LhaL produccd Lhc cccL (Lhc scrcam).
PainLing Lhc causc would bc analogous Lo Lhc dcpicLcd violcncc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton 6
in lms such as Olivcr SLoncs Natura| Porn K||ers (:jj) or Rob-
crL Rodrigucz Sn Cty (ioo) in which Lhc causcs o violcncc and
Lhcir cccLs Lcnd Lo bc coprcscnL Lhrough LradiLional Lwo-shoL
or shoL-rcvcrsc-shoL gurcs. No maLLcr how bruLal and acsLhcLi-
cally compclling Lhc imagcs, Lhcy rcmain Lhoroughly narraLiv-
izcd (logical) and Lhus raLional, rcgardlcss o our lcvcl o (moral)
disgusL wiLh Lhcm. Rcmaining on Lhc lcvcl o amiliar imagcs o
violcncc LhaL havc long bccomc clichcs in Lhc hisLory o cincma,
Lhcy Lcll us vcry liLLlc in Lhc cnd abouL Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion
or Lhc scnsaLion o violcncc prcciscly bccausc scnsaLion is LhaL
which is LransmiLLcd dirccLly, and avoids Lhc dcLour and borcdom
o convcying a sLory (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon i). As such, scnsa-
Lion has noLhing Lo do wiLh a vicwing subjccLs cclings: Lhcrc arc
no cclings in Bacon: Lhcrc arc noLhing buL accLs, LhaL is scnsa-
Lions and insLincLs (). AccounLing or accL, or Lhc rhyLhmic
uniLy o Lhc scnscs (j), in phcnomcnological Lcrms would sim-
ply bc insu cicnL bccausc [phcnomcnology] mcrcly invokcs Lhc
livcd body. BuL Lhc livcd body is sLill a palLry Lhing in comparison
wiLh a morc proound and almosL unlivablc Powcr (j). Scnsa-
LionaccLis prcsubjccLivc: iL is whaL consLiLuLcs Lhc subjccL
raLhcr Lhan bcing a synonym or an alrcady consLiLuLcd subjccLs
cmoLions or cclings. Whcrcas phcnomcnologys conccpLion o
scnsaLion or accL is Licd Loo much Lo Lhc living organism (accL
qua cmoLion), Lhc accL Dclcuzc has in mind is Lhc accL o Lhc
body wiLhouL organs whosc cncmy is organizaLion, LhaL is, Lhc
rcducLivc orcc o rcprcscnLaLion.
4
DicrcnLly puL, Lo painL Lhc scrcam is a maLLcr o capLuring
orccs (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon 8) raLhcr Lhan rcprcscnLing Lhcm.
As Dclcuzc wriLcs, Lhc Lask o painLing is dcncd as Lhc aLLcmpL
Lo rcndcr visiblc orccs LhaL arc noL Lhcmsclvcs visiblc (8).
5
I wc
rcplacc cincma or painLing wc havc hcrc an arLiculaLion o an
arLisLic impcraLivc LhaL Lhc Cocns puL inLo pracLicc in Lhc opcn-
ing scqucncc o M||ers Crossng. Whilc Lhcy do noL gcL rid o nar-
raLivc (or whaL Dclcuzc also calls guraLion), Lhcy ntensjy Lhc
lcvcl o guraLion Lhrough Lhcir color schcmc Lo Lhc poinL whcrc
Lhc cquivalcnL o Bacons Figurc cmcrgcs in Lhc orm o Caspar.
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton ,
In Bacons work, Lhc Figurc is an icon or imagc LhaL cmcrgcs ouL
o a painLcrly proccss o isolaLing iL rom Lhc cld, Lhc round arca
or parallclcpipcd (6) wiLhin which iL cxisLs. As Dclcuzc puLs iL,
Lhc rclaLion o Lhc Figurc Lo iLs isolaLing placc dcncs a acL: Lhc
acL is . . ., whaL Lakcs placc is . . . (6). Tc Figurc, in oLhcr words,
docs noL signiy: bcing isolaLcd, iL avoids Lhc guratve, ||ustra-
tve, and narratve characLcr Lhc Figurc would ncccssarily havc i
iL wcrc noL isolaLcd (6). In Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs lm, 1on PoliLos
characLcr appcars isolaLcd by Lhc inLcnsiLy o Lhc brown misc-cn-
sccnc, all doom and gloom and clausLrophobically suocaLing, as
indicaLcd by Lhc swcaL on Caspars bald hcad and uppcr lip and
urLhcr cmphasizcd visually Lhrough PoliLos brillianL porLrayal,
wiLh his mouLh, almosL likc a sh ouL o waLcr, gasping or air, lips
purscd sidc Lo sidc. Iikc Bacon, Lhc Cocns do noL appcar Lo opposc
guraLion buL, raLhcr, inLcnsiy guraLion Lo producc Lhc Figurc,
Lhcy go Lhrough narraLivc in ordcr Lo gcL Lo Lhc lcvcl o purc accL,
LhaL is, scnsaLion. Tis immancnL sLraLcgy crucially dicrs rom
sLandard avanL-gardc lmmaking pracLiccs LhaL rcjccL guraLion/
narraLivc who|esa|eLhus immcdiaLcly rcinLroducing narraLivc
Lhrough Lhcir vcry acL o dialccLical rcjccLion.
WhaL wc wiLncss in Lhis sccnc, howcvcr, is noL Lhc acLual orcc
LhaL is cxcrLcd upon Caspars body. For alLhough orcc may bc
Lhc condiLion o scnsaLion, iL is noncLhclcss noL Lhc orcc LhaL is
scnscd, sincc Lhc scnsaLion givcs somcLhing complcLcly dicr-
cnL rom Lhc orccs LhaL condiLion iL (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon 8).
Why is Lhis imporLanL rom an arLisLs, as wcll as criLical, poinL
o vicw` Simply puL, Lhc problcm is LhaL wc, as spccLaLors, arc
noL privy Lo Lhc acLual, buL Lo us invisiblc, orccs LhaL impingc on
Lhc body, bc iL LhaL o onc o Bacons scrcaming popcs or LhaL o
M||ers Crossngs sccLhing Caspar. Hcncc, Lhc qucsLion or Bacon,
and Lhc Cocns, is how Lo makc us scnsc Lhcsc invisiblc orccs, or
how Lo acLualizc whaL is mcrcly virLual in Lhc ramc` Mcrcly dc-
picLing Lhcsc orccs will noL do, as LhaL would aL bcsL posiLion
vicwcrs in a rcprcscnLaLional ramcwork in which wc would bc
ablc Lo pcrccivc Lhcsc orccs whilc ncvcrLhclcss rcmaining unablc
Lo scnsc Lhcir inLcnsiLy. Tis is why Bacon crcaLcs Lhc painLing o
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton 8
Lhc scrcam [in which] hc csLablishcs a rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhc
visibiliLy o Lhc scrcam (Lhc opcn mouLh as a shadowy abyss) and
invisiblc orccs, which arc noLhing oLhcr Lhan Lhc jorces oj the ju-
ture (:, my cmphasis). As a rcsulL, wc arc cxposcd Lo Lhc scrcam
as an asscmblagc o inLcnsiLics, allowing us Lo scnsc Lhc scnsa-
Lion o Lhc scrcam and Lhus Lo bc accLcd by Lhc accL inhcring
in Lhc scrcam. By kccping Lhc causc o Lhc horric scrcam o-
scrccn, Bacon managcs Lo painL Lhc violcncc o scnsaLionas
cmbodicd n Lhc scrcamraLhcr Lhan Lhc violcncc o rcprcscnLa-
Lion, as would bc Lhc casc i hc rcprcscnLcd whaLcvcr is jusL Lo Lhc
sidc o Lhc ramc.
WhaL is Lo Lhc sidc` Wc do noL knowand only a juture mo-
mcnL could rcvcal Lhis as o ycL invisiblc orcc. By wiLhholding Lhis
uLurc momcnL, howcvcrby suspendng iLwc arc conronLcd
wiLh Lhc uLurc qua uLurc, madc scnsiblc Lo us raLhcr Lhan rcp-
rcscnLcd or us in Lhc uniLy o Lhc scnsing and Lhc scnscd (Dc-
lcuzc, Francs Pacon :). WhaL wc scc is a living body, horricd
by invisiblc orccswhich arc noLhing clsc buL Lhc orccs o Lhc
uLurc. As a rcsulL, Dclcuzc argucs LhaL a rcvcrsal o Hcidcggc-
rian phcnomcnology occurs: DcaLh is judgcd rom Lhc poinL o
vicw o lic, and noL Lhc rcvcrsc, as wc likc Lo bclicvc (i).
According Lo Dclcuzc, whcn Bacon disLinguishcs bcLwccn Lwo
violcnccs, LhaL o Lhc spccLaclc and LhaL o scnsaLion, and dc-
clarcs LhaL Lhc rsL musL bc rcnounccd Lo rcach Lhc sccond, iL is
a kind o dcclaraLion o aiLh in lic (i). Tc violcncc o scnsa-
Lioncmbodicd in Lhc Figurc (as opposcd Lo Lhc violcncc o Lhc
spccLaclc, narraLivc, symbolism, LhaL is, rcprcscnLaLion)is an
a rmaLion o Lhc cncounLcr wiLh uLuriLy in Lhc prcscnL, in lic.
For MarLin Hcidcggcr, lic is Lo bc judgcd rom Lhc horizon o
possibiliLyLhaL is, dcaLh. For Dclcuzc, in conLrasL, Lhc cLhical
Lask is oncc again Lo bc ablc Lo bclicvc in Lhis world, Lhis lic,
[which] bccomcs our mosL di culL Lask, or Lhc Lask o a modc o
cxisLcncc sLill Lo bc discovcrcd, as hc and Fclix CuaLLari puL iL in
Lhcir nal collaboraLion, what !s Ph|osophy? (,). IL is, o coursc,
Lhc Limc-imagc Lhcorizcd in Dclcuzcs sccond book on Lhc cincma
LhaL is rcsponsiblc or making Lhis bclic oncc again availablc Lo
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton j
us, in Francs Pacon, iL is Lhc conccpL o Lhc Figurc LhaL accom-
plishcs Lhc samc Lask.
FiLhcr way, whaL maLLcrs is LhaL in arL iL is noL a maLLcr o
rcproducing or invcnLing orms, buL o capturng jorces. For Lhis
rcason no arL is guraLivc. Paul Klccs amous ormulaNoL Lo
rcndcr Lhc visiblc, buL Lo rcndcr visiblcmcans noLhing clsc
(Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon 8, my cmphasis). Indccd, Lhis is whaL
happcns in M||ers Crossng. O coursc, rcprcscnLaLional (gura-
Livc) violcncc cvcnLually cnsucs, and iL could noL bc any oLhcr
way. As Dclcuzc argucs, Lhc rsL guraLion [rcprcscnLaLion, nar-
raLivc] cannoL complcLcly bc climinaLcd, somcLhing o iL is always
conscrvcd (,j). ALcr all, iL is casy Lo opposc Lhc gural Lo Lhc
guraLivc in an absLracL manncr, [or] wc ncvcr ccasc Lo Lrip ovcr
Lhc objccLion o acL: Lhc Figurc is sLill guraLivc, iL sLill rcprc-
scnLs somconc (a scrcaming man, a smiling man, a scaLcd man),
iL sLill narraLcs somcLhing (,j)cvcn i iL is a Lypically quirky
Lalc so characLcrisLic o Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs ocuvrc. YcL, Lhcrc is
a sccond guraLion, which Lhc painLcr obLains, Lhis Limc as a
rcsulL o Lhc Figurc, as an cccL o Lhc picLorial acL (,j)or as
a rcsulL o Lhc misc-cn-sccnc, Lhc cincmaLic sLaging o Lhc sccnc,
Lhc how LhaL givcs risc Lo a rcprcscnLaLional whaL.
So, bejore Lhc incviLablc guraLion o violcncc occurs in M||-
ers Crossng, wc arc alrcady cxposcd Lo Lhc Figurc o violcncc, Lhc
violcncc o scnsaLion. As spccLaLors, howcvcr, wc cxpcricncc Lhc
scnsaLion only by cnLcring Lhc painLing (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon
:), by rcaching Lhc uniLy o Lhc scnsing and Lhc scnscd. How
docs Lhis happcn` How do spccLaLors cnLcr a painLing, a lm, or
any (arL) objccL in gcncral` Or, morc prcciscly, how arc spccLaLors
made to cnLcr Lhc objccL` ConLinuing his cxplanaLion o Bacons
usc o color, Dclcuzc argucs, Color is Lhc body, scnsaLion is in
Lhc body, and noL in Lhc air. ScnsaLion is whaL is painLcd. WhaL is
painLcd on Lhc canvas is Lhc body, noL insoar as iL is rcprcscnLcd
as an objccL, buL insoar as iL is cxpcricnccd as susLaining ths
scnsaLion (i). I suggcsL LhaL i wc rcplacc lmcd or painLcd
and scrccn or canvas Lhcn wc havc a prcLLy accuraLc dcscrip-
Lion o whaL gocs on in Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs lm: scnsaLion is whaL
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :o
Lhcy lm, and whaL Lhcy lm and is subscqucnLly projccLcd on
scrccn is Lhc bodynoL insoar as iL is rcprcscnLcd as an objccL,
buL insoar as iL is cxpcricnccd as susLaining ths scnsaLion.
6
And,
imporLanLly, as or Bacon, Lhis scnsaLion is rcqucnLly violcnL,
as is Lhc casc, or insLancc, aL Lhc prccisc momcnL whcn Caspar
prosclyLizcs abouL his scnsc o cLhics.
Te Violence of Ethics
In acL, LhaL Lhc qucsLion o cLhics is raiscd aL and Lhrough Lhc
vcry momcnL whcn Lhc audicncc can scnsc Lhc violcncc o scnsa-
Lion is no coincidcncc, or cLhics is a qucsLion o rcsponsibiliLy,
or bcLLcr ycL, rcsponsc-abiliLy, LhaL docs noL dcpcnd on raLional
choicc. Tcorizing cLhics qua pcrormaLivc subjccLiviLy, liLcrary
LhcorisL 1crcy Ncalon posiLs LhaL rcsponsibiliLy is noL mcrcly
choosng Lo rcspond, aL lcasL i Lhis rcsponsibiliLy is Lo bc an a r-
maton o alLcriLy. [ . . . ] RaLhcr, Lhc cLhics o pcrormaLivc subjcc-
LiviLy is cnacLcd prcciscly in and as a response Lo Lhc always alrcady
cxLcrior, Lo Lhc oLhcr LhaL is Lhc ground o Lhc samc. Tc poinL is
noL LhaL I nccd always Lo rcmcmbcr Lo acL as j I was alrcady rc-
sponsiblc, raLhcr, I am noLhing buL Lhis rcsponsibiliLy (A|terty
Po|tcs :6j). Tc accLivc or inLcnsivc orccs inhcring in Lhc vio-
lcncc o scnsaLion consLiLuLc such an cxLcrioriLy, somcLhing LhaL
impingcs on Lhc body rom ouLsidc. Tcsc orccs producc cccLs
pror Lo Lhcir incviLablc narraLivizaLion, Lhcir cvcnLual LcrriLori-
alizaLion onLo Lhc planc o rcprcscnLaLionand bccausc Lhcsc
orccs accL mc bcorc Lhc narraLivc apparaLus o capLurc orga-
nizcs Lhcm or mc, I am alrcady rcsponsc-ablc. WiLh my rcspon-
sibiliLy always alrcady bcing rcsponsc-abiliLymy consLiLuLivc
abiliLy Lo rcspond bejore Lhcsc imagcs rcprcscnLwhaL counLs
in such a conccpLion o pcrormaLivc cLhics is Lo cxaminc Lhc
producLion o cccLs, noL Lhc zcro-sum gamc o dcciding whaL an
idcnLiLy or movcmcnL rcally or auLhcnLically mcans (:,o).
A criLical cncounLcr wiLh violcnL imagcs would Lhcrcorc havc
Lo aLLcnd Lo Lhcsc imagcs aectve inLcnsiLicsLhcir eects raLhcr
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton ::
Lhan Lhcir rcprcscnLaLional mcanings. ALLcnding Lo Lhc cccLs
provokcd by Lhc rcaliLy o violcnL imagcs in lm and liLcraLurc is
Lhc aim o Lhis sLudy. To do so, iL is indccd ncccssary Lo Lhink o
Lhcsc imagcs in accLivc Lcrms raLhcr Lhan addrcssing Lhcm on
Lhc lcvcl o Lhcir rcprcscnLaLional qualiLy, as is commonly donc
in Lhc major sLudics o Lhc subjccL maLLcr.
7
By accL, howcvcr,
I do noL mcan whaL a givcn subjccL is phcnomcnologically madc
Lo ccl (ccling is mcrcly accL LcrriLorializcd onLo Lhc subjccL)
buL, Lo usc Brian Massumis words, a suspcnsion o acLion-rcac-
Lion circuiLs (i8). AccL, in oLhcr words, is noL so much a maLLcr
o causc and cccL rcsulLing rom acLion or movcmcnL, raLhcr,
accL is a sLaLc o passional suspcnsion in which [Lhc body] cx-
isLs morc ouLsidc o iLscl, morc in Lhc absLracLcd acLion o Lhc
impinging Lhing and Lhc absLracLcd conLcxL o LhaL acLion, Lhan
wiLhin iLscl (:).
Tis, I suggcsL, is indccd whaL M||ers Crossng provokcs us Lo
considcr in grcaLcr dcLail, as iL wagcs Lhc qucsLion o cLhics prcciscly
aL Lhc momcnL whcn iL conronLs us wiLh Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion
LhaL occurs bcorc any guraLion o violcncc rcsulLs. Tc qucsLion
o Lhc cLhics o violcncc, in oLhcr words, cmcrgcs prior Lo any rcp-
rcscnLaLion o violcncc. Hcncc, as long as wc cngagc Lhc imaging
proccss o violcncc bascd on rcprcscnLaLionalisL assumpLions, wc
csscnLially rcmain oblivious Lo Lhcir consLiLuLivc inLcnsiLicsnoL-
wiLhsLanding LhaL such accounLs cannoL hclp buL bc accLcd by
Lhcm. I noLhing clsc, aLLcnding Lo Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion would
rcquirc us aL lcasL parLially Lo rcdirccL our aLLcnLion away rom
lms by QucnLin TaranLino, Sam Pcckinpah, or any shooL-cm-up
blockbusLcr, LhaL is, any lm LhaL mcrcly rcndcrs violcncc visiblc
(as opposcd Lo rcndcring visiblc Lhc invisiblc orccsinLcnsiLics,
accLso violcncc). Or, raLhcr, wc mighL wanL Lo Lhink abouL
lms such as Te w|d Punch (dir. Sam Pcckinpah, :j6j) or Pu|p Fc-
ton (dir. QucnLin TaranLino, :jj) noL so much in Lcrms o Lhcir
rcprcscnLcd violcncc buL in Lcrms o Lhc inLcnsiLics LhaL pcrcolaLc
wthn Lhc clichcd violcncc o rcprcscnLaLion.
BuL lcL us bc cvcn morc prccisc wiLh rcgard Lo M||ers Crossng
and whaL iL ocrs us wiLh rcgard Lo Lhc inLcrsccLion o violcncc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :i
and cLhics, or rcsponsc-abiliLy, or Lhc lm playully cngagcs Lwo
dicrcnL conccpLions o cLhics. In Lhc lms opcning sccnc, wc
wiLncss how a (violcnL) characLcr dcsircs Lo sidcsLcp chancc, or,
pcrhaps bcLLcr, wc wiLncss his inabiliLy Lo dcal wiLh chancc.
S
Tis
inabiliLy makcs Caspar insisL LhaL cLhics arc supposcd Lo bc a
sac and sound conLracL wriLLcn in sLonc LhaL hc can LrusL so LhaL
hc will noL havc Lo worry abouL any unwclcomc surpriscs. To him,
cLhics is a maLLcr o kccping Lhc ouLsidccxLcrioriLy, chanccaL
bay. On Lhc lcvcl o narraLivc, Lhc problcm wiLh Caspars suggcs-
Lion LhaL violcncc can bc avoidcd as long as cvcryonc hccds Lhc
conLracLs Lcrms, howcvcr, is simply LhaL hc cannoL aLhom LhaL
his scnsc o cLhics is noL only unconvcnLional and qucsLionablc
in and o iLscl (sincc whcn docs xing gamcs counL as cLhical
bchavior`) buL also conLrary Lo LhaL o Lhc oLhcr characLcrs in
Lhc lm who do noL sharc his cnLhusiasm or cLhics.
0
Indccd,
or Lhcm Caspars cLhics arc noL a mcans Lo prcvcnL violcncc buL
insLcad an inspiraLionhowcvcr uninLcnLionalor bccoming-
violcnL. Or, as Ico cxplains his rcusal Lo granL Caspars rcqucsL
Lo kill Bcrnic, hc sccs no rcason Lo gcL rid o Bcrnic, a ducs-paying
cusLomcr and hcncc proLccLcd wisc guy. DicrcnLly puL, Ico sug-
gcsLs LhaL his conLracL wiLh Bcrnic is as good as Caspars, and who
is Lo say LhaL onc is morc cLhical Lhan Lhc oLhcr` As long as his
scL o rulcs arc bcing adhcrcd Lo, Ico has no causc Lo Lakc acLion,
and sincc hc is Lhc ulLimaLc boss, Caspars rulcs simply carry lcss
orcc Lhan his. O coursc, in upholding his conLracL wiLh Bcrnic,
Ico violaLcs his conLracL wiLh Caspar, as Tom rcpcaLcdly rcminds
Ico LhroughouL Lhc lm. Caspar pays Ico so LhaL Ico will proLccL
him againsL his cncmics. From Caspars poinL o vicw, Lhcn, Icos
rcusal Lo hclp is ycL anoLhcr cxamplc o a lack o cLhics LhaL dc-
mands, in his vicw, drasLic rcsponsc: Lo wiL, hc Lrics Lo kill Ico
and Lakc ovcr his posiLion as Lhc undcrworld lcadcr.
Howcvcr, as vicwcrs wc arc noL inviLcd jusL Lo acccpL Caspars
dcniLion o cLhics and waiL or Lhc kill-cm-all Lypc o violcncc Lo
occur. RaLhcr, wc havc a|ready bccn madc privy Lo Lhc cxpcricncc
o violcncc in Lhc vcry abscncc o Lhis cxccssivc Lypc o violcncc.
Tc lms cincmaLography has rcndcrcd visiblc a bodynoL Cas-
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :
pars buL Lhc brown lling cvcry ramcLhaL susLains Lhc scnsa-
Lion o violcncc Lhrough iLs purcly accLivc orcc, iLs inLcnsiLy.
Fvcn Lhough noLhing is happcning (ycL), wc ncvcrLhclcss sense
Caspars (body) Limc liLcrally cxpiring, LhaL iL will Lakc anoLhcr
nincLy minuLcs o scrccn Limc or so bcorc hc will acLually bc
killcd is in Lhis rcgard raLhcr incidcnLal. TaL is, aL Lhc momcnL
o Caspars sLaLic cxposiLion o cLhics, hc is cincmaLically madc Lo
subsisL in, whilc bcing isolaLcd rom, Lhc brown misc-cn-sccnc,
which rcndcrs visiblc Caspars ulLimaLc incpLiLudc as boLh an
cLhicisL and a gangsLcr. ConcurrcnLly, Lhis momcnL o violcncc
alrcady calls orLh our rcsponsc, our rcsponsc-abiliLy. Rcgardlcss
o whcLhcr wc rccognizc Lhc violcncc inhcring Lhis momcnL, wc
arc madc Lo rcspond. Rcsponsc, and Lhus cLhics, simply cannoL bc
rcduccd Lo a momcnL o rcprcscnLaLional rccogniLion and, in acL,
is always alrcady consLiLuLivc o iL.
Whilc Caspars scnsc o cLhics as a sLaLic, unmoving conLracL
pcrmcaLcs many o Lhc Cocns lms including P|ood Smp|e and
Fargo, Lhcir sty|e o lming providcs us wiLh a dicrcnL sense o
violcncc and Lhus cLhics. Challcnging Lhc audicncc wiLh an ab-
surd dcniLion o cLhics ouL o Lhc mouLh o whaL would appcar
Lo bc a raLhcr uncLhical man, M||ers Crossngs discoursc on cLh-
ics ncvcrLhclcss ascinaLcs bccausc o Lhc way iL accLivcly lcnds
Caspars propricLary dcniLion o cLhics an ominous scnsc o
violcncc.
l0
So saLuraLcd is Lhc sccnc wiLh brown ovcrLoncs LhaL
Lhc goings-on can hardly bc Lakcn as naLuralisLic or rcalisLic. Tc
ovcrbcaring, clausLrophobic, inLcnsc prcscncc o Lhc Lhick laycrs
o brown LhaL ll cvcry ramc lcnds Caspars swcaLing a dicr-
cnL orcc: morc Lhan jusL pcrcciving iL, wc, as spccLaLors, scnsc
Caspars scnsaLion. As such, wc arc indccd noL mcanL Lo Lakc sc-
riously Caspars scnsc o cLhics as an acccpLablc jusLicaLion or
violcncc, insLcad, we are meant to sense the vo|ence oj ethcs iLscl.
And sincc scnsing is a maLLcr o sLylc, Lhc audicncc is askcd vis-
ccrally Lo immcrsc iLscl in Lhc misc-cn-sccnc, likc Lhc characLcrs
baLhcd in Lhc surrcal brown lighL. By cnLcring Lhc Lhickncss o
Lhc misc-cn-sccnc, Lhc vicwcr cncounLcrs Lhc violcncc o scnsa-
Lion. BuL Lhis violcncc is noL simply scnsaLional, alLhough Lhc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :
Cocns lms arc noL rcc o a ccrLain lcvcl o scnsaLionalism. Rc-
call, or insLancc, Lhc cnding o P|ood Smp|e or Lhc parking ga-
ragc and woodchippcr sccncs in Fargo. Iikcwisc, Caspars cLhical
dcclaraLions makc all Loo obvious whcrc Lhc lm is hcading, and,
surc cnough, wc do noL havc Lo waiL Loo long or a scnsaLionally
violcnL shooL-ouL Lo Lranspirc. YcL Lhis occurrcncc iLscl musL bc
considcrcd Lhc logical working ouL o Caspars dcniLion o cLh-
icsLhaL is, cLhics as a sLaLic conLracL. BuL whaL wc scc in Lhc
sccnc aL hand is a dirccL imagc o violcncc, noL onc LhaL is mcdi-
aLcd Lhrough movcmcnL as in Natura| Porn K||ers, whcrc Lhc ki-
ncLic aspccL o Lhc lm dominaLcs our scnsc o violcncc Lo such a
dcgrcc LhaL wc cannoL hclp buL ccl violaLcd by iL. Whcrcas in Lhc
laLLcr lm violcncc occurs in Lhc (visual) prcscncc o Lhc acLion
causing Lhc violaLion o bodics (pcoplc arc killcd by gun shooL-
ing, c.g.), in M||ers Crossng Lhc body inolds Lhc eect o Lhc
[violcnL] impingcmcnLiL conscrvcs Lhc impingcmcnL minus
Lhc impinging Lhing, Lhc impingcmcnL absLracLcd rom Lhc ac-
Lual acLion LhaL causcd iL and acLual conLcxL o LhaL acLion (Mas-
sumi :i). In Lhc vcry abscncc o whaL wc commonscnsically
Lhink o as violcncc, violcncc occurs Lo Lhc lms bodics in ronL
o our cycs and Lhus accLs us.
Tc lm makcs clcar LhaL whcn iL comcs Lo violcnL imagcs Lhc
qucsLion is ncvcr whcLhcr or noL onc shou|d rcspond Lo Lhcm (by
criLicizing or a rming Lhcm according Lo Lhcir rcprcscnLaLional
valuc), raLhcr, M||ers Crossng clarics wiLh admirablc rigor LhaL
wc arc always alrcady rcsponsc-ablc, noL or Lhcsc imagcs or
Lhcir conscqucnccs buL bejore Lhcm. How, Lhcn, do Lhcsc imagcs
call orLh our rcsponsc-abiliLy` And imporLanLly or Lhc prcscnL
sLudy, how can a criLical cncounLcr wiLh such imagcs arLiculaLc
Lhis rcsponsc-abiliLy in such a manncr LhaL iL docs noL abdicaLc
iLs rcsponsc-abiliLy by LcrriLorializing Lhis cLhical qucsLion onLo
Lhc rcprcscnLaLional planc o judgmcnL` In oLhcr words, whaL
criLical and conccpLual Lools arc availablc Lo us LhaL mighL accom-
plish Lhc Lask givcn us by M||ers Crossng: Lo hccd Lhc singulariLy
(cLhics) o violcncc, Lo rcspond Lo iLand Lhus bc rcsponsc-ablc
bcorc iLby hccding Lhc primacy o Lhc cvcnL`
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :
Te Violence of Masochism
In Francs Pacon, Dclcuzc cmphasizcs how di culL iL is or Lhc
painLcr noL Lo rclapsc inLo Lhc clichc. In acL, Dclcuzc suggcsLs
LhaL onc can only ghL againsL Lhc clichc wiLh much rusc, pcr-
scvcrancc, and prudcncc: iL is a Lask pcrpcLually rcncwcd wiLh
cvcry painLing, wiLh cvcry momcnL o cvcry painLing (,j). NoLc
LhaL Dclcuzc is ar rom advocaLing an anyLhing gocs rclaLiv-
isL cLhics, as opponcnLs o posL-sLrucLuralism in gcncral oLcn
allcgc. FighLing Lhc clichc is noL a maLLcr o random subvcrsion
buL o carcully planncd, LhoughL-Lhrough, and rcpcaLcd pracLicc
LhaL n iLs rcpcLiLivcncss varics Lo iLscl. 1usL rccall, or insLancc,
Dclcuzcs rcading o NicLzschcs conccpL o Lhc FLcrnal RcLurn.
In conLrasL Lo Lhc LradiLional (cxisLcnLialisL) undcrsLanding o
Lhc FLcrnal RcLurn, Dclcuzc proposcs in Netzsche and Ph|osophy
LhaL Lhc FLcrnal RcLurn oughL noL bc undcrsLood as an inniLc
rcLurning o Lhc samc buL as an cLcrnal rccurrcncc o LhaL which
has Lhc capaciLy Lo dicr rom iLscl. On|y LhaL which has Lhis ca-
paciLy is capablc o rcLurning. WhaL rcLurns, Lhus, is dicrcncc
iLscl or, raLhcr, Lhc orcc o dicrcnLiaLion. FurLhcrmorc, in Lj-
jerence and Repetton, pcrhaps Lhc kcy LcxL or any undcrsLanding
o Dclcuzcs ocuvrc, Lhc philosophcr brings Lhis undcrsLanding
Lo bcar on mcdicval Lhcologian Duns ScoLuss univociLy o bcing
Lhcsis, which opcraLcs as Lhc driving orcc o Dclcuzcs work. Un-
likc many o his posL-sLrucLuralisL cllow Lravclcrs who laborcd
ovcr Lhc problcm o mcLaphysical prcscncc, Dclcuzc was ncvcr
rcally Loo boLhcrcd by Lhis problcm bccausc Lo him Bcing can al-
ways bc said on|y o bccoming. I Bcing is always alrcady bccom-
ing, Bcing, or prcscncc, is noL quiLc Lhc problcm as, say, Dcrridas
work suggcsLs iL is.
In Lhc casc o Francis Bacons painLcrly pracLicc, bcing con-
ronLcd wiLh a canvas LhaL is always alrcady llcd wiLh (clichc)
imagcs, hc invcnLs a Lcchniquc o manually produccd, accidcn-
Lal, rcc marks LhaL hclps him Lo cxLracL Lhc improbablc Figurc
rom Lhc scL o guraLivc probabiliLics (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon
,,), LhaL is, rom narraLivizaLion LhaL is a priori inscribcd inLo
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :6
Lhc canvas. Bacon uscs Lhis Lcchniquc as a mcans Lo hack inLo Lhc
alrcady cxisLing (clichcd) ordcr o Lhc canvas.
ll
Hc crcaLcs whaL
Dclcuzc calls a diagram LhaL can bc callcd nonrcprcscnLaLivc,
prcciscly bccausc [iL] dcpcnds on Lhc acL o chancc and [cxprcsscs]
noLhing rcgarding Lhc visual imagc (,,). Making Lhcsc chancc-
dcpcndcnL marks is a prcpicLorial acL, a pracLicc LhaL is inLcndcd
Lo allow Lhc painLcr himscl Lo cnLcr Lhc painLing bcorc bcgin-
ning Lhc acL o painLing as such.
Crucially, Lhis cncounLcr wiLh Lhc canvas allows Bacon Lo cnLcr
inLo Lhc clichc, inLo probabiliLy. Hc cnLcrs inLo iL prcciscly bc-
causc hc knows what he wants to do, buL whaL savcs him is Lhc acL
LhaL he does not know how to get there, hc docs noL know how Lo do
whaL Lo do (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon ,8). And is Lhis noL Lhc vcry
problcm wc cncounLcr whcn conronLing Lhc qucsLion o violcnL
imagcs: LhaL wc simply do noL know how Lo do iL and bccausc o
Lhis unccrLainLy cnd up having immcdiaLc rccoursc Lo Lhc clichcs
o rcprcscnLaLion` TaL is, cvcn Lhough wc cannoL buL rcspond Lo
(violcnL) imagcs, Lhis rcsponsc is all Loo quickly arLiculaLcd on Lhc
planc o rcprcscnLaLion, Lhus immcdiaLcly Lransccnding Lhc event
o rcsponsc as such.
ConLinuing his dcscripLion o Bacons sLraLcgics or combaLing
Lhc clichc, Dclcuzc suggcsLs LhaL Lhc painLcr will only gcL Lo whcrc
hc wanLs Lo bc by gcLLing ouL o Lhc canvas. Tc painLcrs prob-
lcm is noL how Lo cnLcr inLo Lhc canvas, sincc hc is alrcady Lhcrc
(Lhc prcpicLorial Lask), buL how Lo gcL ouL o iL, Lhcrcby gcLLing
ouL o Lhc clichc, gcLLing ouL o probabiliLy (Lhc picLorial Lask). IL
is Lhc chancc manual marks LhaL will givc him a chancc, Lhough
noL a ccrLiLudc (Francs Pacon ,8). Again, is Lhis noL whaL wc arc
accd wiLh whcn dcaling wiLh violcnL imagcs: nding mcans LhaL
aord us a chancc Lo cscapc Lhc clichc` BuL in ordcr Lo havc any
chancc o cscaping Lhc clichc wc nccd Lo a rm, wcll, chancc as
suchsomcLhing LhaL is casicr said Lhan donc. TaL is, wc havc
Lo a rm Lhc roll o Lhc dicc, which is opposcd Lo Lhc doubling
up pracLicc o Lhc bad gamblcr. Tc laLLcr cncounLcrs chancc
and uLuriLy in Lcrms o probabiliLy, whcrcas a NicLzschcan a-
rmaLion o a sng|e roll o Lhc dicc LrcaLs chancc as indcpcndcnL
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :,
o probabiliLy. Tc cLhical Lask is Lo a rm Lhc mulLipliciLy im-
mancnL Lo Lhis singlc Lhrow: IL is noL a maLLcr o scvcral dicc-
Lhrows which, bccausc o Lhcir numbcr, nally rcproducc Lhc
samc combinaLion. On Lhc conLrary, iL is a maLLcr o a singlc di-
ccLhrow which, duc Lo Lhc numbcr o Lhc combinaLion produccd,
comcs Lo rcproducc iLscl (Dclcuzc, Netzsche and Ph|osophy i).
WhaL I am suggcsLing hcrc is, simply, LhaL Dclcuzcs dcscripLion
o Bacons painLcrly pracLicc ocrs us a spccic scL o Lools LhaL
may allow us Lo dcvclop a criLicism o violcncc LhaL cscapcs Lhc
criLical clichcs prcciscly bccausc iL works by a rming chancc. Tc
Lools I havc in mind pcrLain Lo Lhc ormal pracLicc o masochism
LhaL undcrlics Dclcuzcs analysis o Bacons painLings as wcll as
his subscqucnL work on Lhc cincma.
l2
Considcr, or insLancc, Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs Fargo, a lm o in-
LcrcsL hcrc bccausc iL cincmaLically csLablishcs, and dramaLizcs, a
masochisLic conLracL. Such a conLracL, as Dclcuzc cxplains in his
sLudy o Icopold von Sachcr-Masochs wriLings, implics in prin-
ciplc ccrLain condiLions likc Lhc rcc acccpLancc o Lhc parLics, a
limiLcd duraLion and Lhc prcscrvaLion o inalicnablc righLs (Mas-
ochsm j:ji). YcL, Lhc ulLimaLc purposc o Lhis conLracL is Lo
dcrivc a law rom iL: Lhc masochisL aims noL Lo miLigaLc Lhc law
buL on Lhc conLrary Lo cmphasizc iLs cxLrcmc scvcriLy (j:). To
cmphasizc Lhis scvcriLy (and Lo dcrivc Lhc law rom Lhc conLracL),
Lhc masochisLic conLracL is wriLLcn in a vcry prccisc languagc, rhc-
Lorically consLrucLcd as LighLly as Lhc bounds LhaL Lhc masochisLs
misLrcss will apply Lo his body.
l3
Tis LighL consLrucLion o Lhc
conLracL mighL, howcvcr, rcsulL in Lhc problcm LhaL Lhc law iL
gcncraLcs always Lcnds Lo orgcL iLs own origins and annul Lhcsc
rcsLricLivc condiLions (ji). TaL is, Lhc law LhaL mighL cmcrgc
rom Lhc conLracL, oncc in placc, bcgins Lo violaLc Lhc conLracL
in LhaL iL can apply Lo a Lhird parLy, is valid or an indcLcrminaLc
pcriod and rccognizcs no inalicnablc righLs (ji). Whcrcas Lhc
conLracL sLipulaLcd, indccd prcsupposcd and dcpcndcd on, Lhc
spccic rclaLion bcLwccn Lhc masochisL and his misLrcsswiLh
ths misLrcss raLhcr Lhan anoLhcrLhc cnsuing LransormaLion
o Lhc conLracLual cxigcncy inLo a lcgal apparaLus issucs orLh an
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :8
incorporcal LransormaLion o Lhc misLrcss hcrscl: shc is now
oLhcr Lo hcr conLracLcd scl, assuming a dicrcnL, lcgal, subjccL
posiLion. Tis ncw subjccL posiLion placcs ncw dcmands on hcr
LhaL cxcccd Lhosc o Lhc original conLracL. In acL, Lhc naLurc o
Lhcsc dcmands is such LhaL oLhcrs can accomplish Lhcm as wcll.
ConscqucnLly, Lhc law, bccausc iL s Lhc law, allows somconc clsc
Lo bc subsLiLuLcd or Lhc misLrcss. WiLh Lhis rcplaccmcnL, how-
cvcr, Lhc singulariLy o Lhc iniLial ethca| commiLmcnL o Lhc mis-
Lrcss Lo Lhc masochisL vanishcs. In oLhcr words, Lhc Lransorma-
Lion rom conLracL inLo law is a LransormaLion rom singulariLy
(cLhics) inLo gcncraliLy (moraliLy). YcL, as Dclcuzc poinLs ouL, as
a gcncral rulc, [ . . . ] in masochism Lhc conLracL is caricaLurcd in
ordcr Lo cmphasizc iLs ambiguous dcsLinaLion. [IL impliciLly chal-
lcngcs], by cxccss o zcal, a humorous accclcraLion o Lhc clauscs
and a complcLc rcvcrsal o Lhc rcspccLivc conLracLual sLaLus o
[Lhc signaLorics] (ji).
Tis is prcciscly whaL happcns in Fargo. In Lhc rsL LwcnLy scc-
onds o Lhc lm, an cpigraph scrolls across Lhc scrccn, asscrLing
LhaL Lhc sLory wc arc abouL Lo scc is bascd on Lruc incidcnLs. IL
is hcrc whcrc Lhc lm rsL scLs up a rigid conLracL wiLh iLs audi-
cncca conLracL LhaL is characLcrizcd by a humorous accclcra-
Lion o clauscs. SubscqucnLly, iL plays ouL Lhis conLracLs logic
in Lhc rcsL o Lhc lm, gradually undcrmining Lhis vcry conLracL
prcciscly so LhaL iL will noL cvcr bc applicd as a gcncraliLy Lo all
lms.
l4
Fargo scLs up a masochisLic conLracL as a mcans Lo accL
vicwcrs so LhaL Lhcy bccomc and rcmain rcsponsc-ablc Lo Lhc
lms violcnL subjccL maLLcr, rcgardlcss o how absurd or unrc-
alisLic Lhc violcnL cvcnLs may appcar. YcL, Lhis rcsponsc-abiliLy is
onc o singulariLy, sincc iL docs noL rcquirc LhaL I musL rccall LhaL
I am rcsponsiblc as a vicwcr or Lhcsc imagcs whcn I waLch Lhcm
buL LhaL I am always noLhing buL Lhis rcsponsc-abiliLy bejore Lhc
singulariLy o an cvcnL (o violcncc). In oLhcr words, conLrary Lo
Caspars scnsc o cLhics as a sLaLic, wriLLcn in sLonc conLracL, Lhc
Cocns cold and clinical cincmaLic sLylc rcpcaLcdly invokcs a con-
LracLual rclaLionship bcLwccn lm and audicncc in which Lhc im-
plicd signaLorics o Lhc conLracL agrcc Lo a modc o cngagcmcnL
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton :j
LhaL scLs spccic rulcs or Lhc cncounLcr wiLhouL dcLcrmining iLs
ouLcomc. Chancc, or Lhc uLurc, rcmains ncccssarily an inLcgral
parL o Lhc gamc.
RaLhcr Lhan vicwing Fargos cincmaLic rcndcring o Lhc mas-
ochisLic conLracL as an occurrcncc limiLcd Lo Lhis lm, howcvcr, I
wanL Lo suggcsL LhaL a criLical a rmaLion o Lhis conLracL mighL
scrvc as a producLivc methodo|ogca| algoriLhm or a criLical cn-
gagcmcnL wiLh violcnL imagcsan algoriLhm LhaL is groundcd
in Dclcuzcs onLological vicw o imagcs. Tis pcdagogical algo-
riLhm is noL, howcvcr, a LransccndcnLal criLical law, insLcad, iL is
groundcd in Lhc singulariLy o Lhc cncounLcr wiLh an cvcnL as
suchan cncounLcr LhaL, bcing iniLiaLcd rom wiLhin Lhc cvcnL
iLscl, hccds Lhc irrcduciblc spcciciLy o LhaL which calls orLh
rcsponsc and Lhus rcsponsc-abiliLy. Such singulariLy cLhically rc-
quircs LhaL onc hccd Lhc cvcnLs primacyLhaL is, Lhc accLivc
inLcnsiLics consLiLuLivc o (violcnL) imagcswhich is prcciscly
whaL blocks Lhc applicaLion o Lhc ouLcomc o onc cncounLcr Lo
Lhc conLcxL o a dicrcnL cvcnL. Onc could say LhaL Lhis kind o
pcdagogical algoriLhm is in no small way accLcd by a ccrLain
kind o orgcLLingLhc orgcLLing o Lhc (illusory) scnsc LhaL
onc alrcady knows whaL Lhc objccL wiLh which onc is conronLcd
is. Whcrcas Lhc applicaLion o LransccndcnLal criLical laws ncccs-
sarily prcsupposcs a priori knowlcdgc o Lhc objccL LhaL allows
onc Lo apply a law wiLh ccrLainLy, Lhc masochisLic pcdagogy I am
dcscribing hcrc is, as such, noL applicablc prcciscly bccausc iL is
characLcrizcd by a sty|e o cncounLcr raLhcr Lhan a scL o rulcs
consLiLuLing a law. Whcrcas Lhc laLLcr is always a gcncraliLy, Lhc
qucsLion o sLylc is always onc o singulariLy.
In Lhis conLcxL, I should poinL Lo Lhc masochisLs dcsirc Lo
cducaLc, a dcsirc LhaL mighL appcar Lo bc counLcrinLuiLivc, givcn
LhaL onc mighL bc inclincd Lo arguc LhaL Lhc rcpcaLcd pain Lo
which Lhc masochisL cxposcs himscl suggcsLs LhaL hc docs noL
lcarn aL all (how clsc Lo cxplain Lhc csscnLially incomprchcnsiblc
rcpcLiLion o pain`). Howcvcr, raLhcr Lhan concciving o orgcL-
Ling as LhaL which allows or Lhc rcLurn o pain and mcmory as
LhaL which would prcvcnL pain rom occurring, Dclcuzc suggcsLs
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton io
LhaL orgcLLing is Lhc impossibiliLy o rcLurn, and mcmory is
Lhc ncccssiLy o rcncwal (Foucau|t :o8). Hcncc, Lhc masochisLs
orgcLLing o his prior pain should noL bc rcad as ncgaLivcas
his ailurc Lo lcarn. Tc masochisL is noL a Hcgclian subjccL who
somchow ails Lo lcarn rom his ailurcs. RaLhcr, orgcLLing is Lhc
cnabling mcchanism LhaL, in conjuncLion wiLh mcmory (cong-
urcd as mcmory o Lhc uLurc), cnablcs Lhc masochisL Lo bccomc-
oLhcrwisc. FducaLion, in Lhc masochisLic cconomy, is Lhcrcorc
noL bascd on imiLaLion buL on Lhc conccpL o alliancc, o rcsponsc
or cncounLcr. Or, as Dclcuzc wriLcs, wc lcarn noLhing rom Lhosc
who say: Do as I do. Our only Lcachcrs arc Lhosc who Lcll us Lo
do wiLh mc, and arc ablc Lo cmiL signs Lo bc dcvclopcd in hcLcro-
gcnciLy raLhcr Lhan proposc gcsLurcs or us Lo rcproducc (Ler-
ence and Repetton i).
Crucially, Lhc ormal pracLicc o masochism mighL bc uscul
or a criLicism o violcnL imagcs noL jusL bccausc masochism is
a pcdagogical pracLicc buL cspccially bccausc iL is a pedagogy oj
vo|encea pracLicc o rcsponsc Lo violcncc LhaL insisLs on an cn-
counLcr wiLh violcncc on iLs own Lcrms. Masochism carcully rcg-
ulaLcs iLs cconomy o violcncc. Masochism is a criLical and clinical
pcdagogy LhaL crcaLivcly csLablishcs a bclic in Lhis world Lhrough
disavowal. As Dclcuzc cxplains, Disavowal should pcrhaps bc un-
dcrsLood as Lhc poinL o dcparLurc o an opcraLion LhaL consisLs
nciLhcr in ncgaLing nor cvcn dcsLroying, buL raLhcr in radically
conLcsLing Lhc validiLy o LhaL which is: iL suspcnds bclic in and
ncuLralizcs Lhc givcn in such a way LhaL a ncw horizon opcns up
bcyond Lhc givcn and in placc o iL (Masochsm :). ConLcsLing
Lhc validiLy o LhaL which isis noL Lhis NicLzschcan provoca-
Lion prcciscly whaL musL bc a rmcd i onc wanLs Lo cscapc Lhc
clichc, i onc wanLs Lo avoid an immcdiaLc rcducLion o Lhc cvcnL
inhcring Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion Lo Lhc clichcs cmbodicd in Lhc
violcncc o rcprcscnLaLion`
How, Lhcn, docs Lhc masochisL managc Lo conLcsL Lhc sLaLus
quo` FirsL and orcmosL, hc conLcsLs Lhc validiLy o LhaL which is
by having rccoursc Lo Lhc cLish, buL, as Dclcuzc insisLs againsL
psychoanalyLic dogma, Lhc cLish is noL a symbol aL all, buL as
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i:
iL wcrc a rozcn, arrcsLcd, Lwo-dimcnsional imagc, a phoLograph
Lo which onc rcLurns rcpcaLcdly Lo cxorcisc Lhc dangcrous consc-
qucnccs o movcmcnL, Lhc harmul discovcrics LhaL rcsulL rom
cxploraLion, iL rcprcscnLs Lhc lasL poinL aL which iL was sLill pos-
siblc Lo bclicvc (Masochsm :). Tis rcczing o movcmcnLLhc
producLion o Lhc Limc-imagcis akin Lo slowing down, indccd
arrcsLing, Lhc movcmcnL inhcrcnL Lo rcprcscnLaLion LhaL pro-
cccds always wiLh Loo much spccd rom LhaL which is (Lhc rcaliLy
o an imagc) Lo LhaL which is characLcrizcd by Lhc logic o lack
(Lhc rcprcscnLaLion o rcaliLy). 1usL as Lhc Limc-imagc slows down
Lhc logic o Lhc movcmcnL-imagc, which, according Lo Dclcuzc,
largcly dominaLcd cincma hisLory bcorc Lhc cnd o World War II,
so Lhc masochisLic acL o cLishizing (or obscssivcly lingcring on
and rcLurning Lo) Lhc samc imagc is a criLical and clinical pracLicc
mobilizcd Lo opcn up Lhc givcnwhaL isLo Lhc uLurc. Indccd,
Lhis is a pracLicc LhaL Lravcrscs all o Lhc ccnLral pcrsonac o Lhis
sLudy: Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs, BrcL FasLon Fllis, PaLricia HighsmiLh,
RobcrL DcNiro, Don DcIillo, and, indccd, Cillcs Dclcuzc.
Obscssivcly lingcring wiLh Lhc objccLand Lhus orging an
alliancc, indccd a ricndship, wiLh iLallows LhaL cxisLcncc Lo
bccomc oLhcr Lo iLscl, Lhrough Lhis spccic pracLicc o cncoun-
Lcring Lhc oLhcr, cxisLcncc bccomcs availablc Lo Lhc masochisL
as a momcnL o purc dicrcnLiaLion, o uLuriLy. Or, Lo puL Lhis
samc argumcnL in ormal Lcrms, masochism is, according Lo Dc-
lcuzc, a sLaLc o waiLing, Lhc masochisL cxpcricnccs waiLing in
iLs purc orm. Purc waiLing dividcs naLurally inLo Lwo simulLanc-
ous currcnLs, Lhc rsL rcprcscnLing whaL is awaiLcd, somcLhing
csscnLially Lardy, always laLc and always posLponcd, Lhc sccond
rcprcscnLing somcLhing LhaL is cxpccLcd and on which dcpcnds
Lhc spccding up o Lhc awaiLcd objccL (Masochsm ,:).
Tc masochisL, howcvcr, crcaLcs Lhis sLaLc actve|y wiLh Lhc
hclp o Lhc masochisLic conLracL. IL is Lhc conLracL LhaL sLipulaLcs
Lhc prccisc rulcs by which Lhc masochisLic cconomyconsisLing
o Lhc misLrcss and Lhc masochisLis Lo procccd. Doing so, Lhc
carcully rcgulaLcd masochisLic pracLicc acLualizcs varying con-
guraLions o imagc orccs LhaL allow somcLhing ncwnamcly,
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton ii
Lhc uLurcLo cmcrgc. Trough Lhis acLualizaLion o virLual
orccs rcsulLing rom a proccss o giving oncscl ovcr Lo Lhc oLhcr
by suspcnding movcmcnL, Lhc masochisLic conLracL posiLions Lhc
masochisL in such a way LhaL hc cncounLcrs himscl as dicrcnL
rom himscl: I is anoLhcr (Dclcuzc, Cnema i :). Tis is why
Lhc masochisL liLcrally suspcnds his body wiLh Lhc hclp o his mis-
Lrcss: Lo cngagc in a pracLicc LhaL conLinually alLcrs Lhc paramcLcrs
o his body and Lhus his subjccLiviLy. Hc cxpands his capaciLy Lo bc
accLcd by dicrcncc. Bound in chains, sLrcLchcd Lo Lhc limiLs o
whaL Lhc body can Lakc, rozcn in a momcnL o Limc, Lhc masoch-
isL bccomcs Lhc onc who Lakcs scriously and rcsponds Lo Spinozas
conLcnLion LhaL wc do noL cvcn know whaL a body can do (nding
ouL is by dcniLion a qucsLion o cxpcrimcnLaLion and Lhus Lhc
uLurc).
l5
And Lhc masochisL a rms Lhis cxpcricncc prcciscly as
a mcans Lo cncounLcr dicrcncc, Lhc ncwLhc uLurc. Hc is boLh
Lhc subjccL o and Lhc audicncc or violcncc. Hc bcars wiLncss Lo iL
whilc hc is also bcing casL as Lhc pcrson prcsumcd guilLy.
BuL iL is only in Lhc pracLicc iLscl LhaL Lhc masochisL cnLcrs
Lhis doublc-bccoming. Hc is Lhus ncvcr in Lhc prcscnL buL always
o Lhc uLurca ycL Lo comc, a subjccL ycL Lo bc produccd Lhrough
and in Lhc pracLicc iLscl, in and Lhrough iLs pcrormaLivc orcc.
As Dclcuzc wriLcs, Lhc masochisL waiLs or plcasurc as somcLhing
LhaL is bound Lo bc laLc, and cxpccLs pain as Lhc condiLion LhaL will
nally cnsurc (boLh physically and morally) Lhc advcnL o plca-
surc. Hc Lhcrcorc posLponcs plcasurc in cxpccLaLion o Lhc pain
which will makc graLicaLion possiblc. Tc anxicLy o Lhc masoch-
isL dividcs Lhcrcorc inLo an indcniLc awaiLing o plcasurc and
an inLcnsc cxpccLaLion o pain (Masochsm ,:). AcLualizcd as a
pcdagogical algoriLhm or a criLical cngagcmcnL wiLh violcncc, Lhc
Lask would Lhcn bc Lo dccr Lhc advcnL o plcasurc LhaL criLicism
clcarly dcrivcs rom Lhc arrival o Lhc momcnL aL which Lhc criLic
gcLs Lo arLiculaLc his judgmcnL o violcncc, or ccrLainLy (cvcn i iL
comcs in orm o Lhc asscrLion LhaL Lhc rcprcscnLaLional mcan-
ing rcmains undccidablc). Tis is possiblc only i Lhc criLic givcs
him- or hcrscl ovcr Lo Lhc cxpccLaLion o pain rcsulLing rom Lhc
inLcnsiLy o Lhc cncounLcr wiLh violcnL imagcs.
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i
FLhics, congurcd masochisLically as rcsponsc-abiliLy, is,
Lhcrcorc, a maLLcr o spccd modulaLion, o slowing down Lhc
spccd o judgmcnL, or rcprcscnLaLion. Tc aLLracLion o rcprcscn-
LaLion, o judgmcnL, is prcciscly Lhc inLcnsiLy o Lhis spccd, Lhc
rush clL by quickly arriving aL Lhc mcaning, Lhc signicancc, o
violcnL imagcs, which is a rmcd all Lhc morc prcciscly bccausc
iL allows us Lo cscapc Lhc spccd inhcring Lhc violcncc o scnsa-
Lion, onc LhaL movcs inLcnsivcly raLhcr Lhan cxLcnsivcly, slowly
raLhcr Lhan quickly, rcmaining momcnLarily rozcn raLhcr Lhan
insLanLancously moving clscwhcrc. I submiL LhaL Lhis masochis-
Lic pcdagogyiLscl a pracLicc o violcnccwould bc producLivc
or an cncounLcr wiLh a|| imagcs, ycL, violcnL imagcs, bccausc o
Lhcir spccial discursivc sLaLus, prcscnL us wiLh a limiL casc or Lhis
masochisLic pcdagogy LhaL Lhc ollowing chapLcrs inLcnd Lo hold
up Lo Lhc LcsL o acLual criLical pracLicc.
Masocriticism
Civcn Lhc masochisLic pracLicc o Lhc ycL Lo comc, Lhc rcgisLcr
o rc-prcscnLaLion bccomcs mcaninglcssor in any casc iLs usc-
ulncss is puL inLo qucsLionas Lhc ycL Lo comc is a qucsLion o
producton. ConccpLualizcd Lhis way, a criLicism o violcncc musL
cngagc in a rigorous pracLicc o dccrrals, o diagnosing insLcad o
judging imagcs, o producing a sympLomaLology insLcad o a his-
Lory o syndromcs, o rcsponding Lhrough Lhc accLivc, visccral
sidc o languagc and imagcs raLhcr Lhan Lhrough Lhcir sccond or-
dcr lcvclrcprcscnLaLion.
l6
Clcarly, masochisLic pracLicc can ncvcr bc bascd on prcdic-
Lion, on prior knowlcdgc, raLhcr, Lhc masochisL is orccd Lo givc
himscl ovcr Lo Lhc ycL Lo comc, Lhc uLurc, as his body will bc
rccongurcd only Lhrough his cngagcmcnL wiLh his misLrcss LhaL
is rcgulaLcd Lhrough Lhcir conLracL. In oLhcr words, Lhc masoch-
isLicrcad, criLicalbody is incviLably alLcrcd by Lhc cncounLcr
wiLh Lhc uLurc raLhcr Lhan wiLh Lhc pasL or prcscnL. Tc masoch-
isL is Lhus cngagcd in a pcrpcLual producLion o subjccLiviLy, onc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i
LhaL shiLs and pcrmcaLcs as iL comcs inLo conLacL wiLh spccic
machincs or gcLs disconnccLcd rom oLhcrs. RaLhcr Lhan ciLhcr
plcasurc or pain, Lhc masochisL is inLcrcsLcd in Lhc accLivc cx-
pcricncc o Lhc momcnL, Lhc in-bcLwccn, Lhc suspcnsc and whaL
iL docs. And Lhc qucsLion o whaL iL docs ncccssarily bclongs Lo
Lhc uLurc, or Lhc masochisL musL cxpcrimcnLdo iLbcorc
hc can nd ouL.
l7
Masochismand iLs criLical pracLicc, whaL I proposc Lo call
masocriLicismis Lhus noL an cpisLcmology buL a pragmaLics.
I borrow Lhc Lcrm masocriLicism rom Paul Manns cssay o Lhc
samc LiLlc. Howcvcr, cvcn Lhough his cssay providcs an inLcrcsLing
mcLacommcnLary on Lhc pracLicc o criLicism, I sLrongly disagrcc
wiLh his vicw o masochism as bcing abouL lack and rcprcscnLa-
Lion: Tc Hcgclian sysLcm is masochism wriL largc (or masoch-
ism is shrunkcn Hcgclianism). Masochism is a LhcaLcr in which
onc submiLs Lo cnslavcmcnL and Lhcrcby hopcs Lo ovcrcomc cn-
slavcmcnL (). Via Dclcuzc (and CuaLLari), I hold againsL
Manns rcading LhaL masochism is noL a LhcaLcr buL a acLory, noL
abouL rcprcscnLaLion buL abouL producLion. Masochism is a prac-
Licconc LhaL is noL abouL Lhc hopc Lo ovcrcomc cnslavcmcnL
buL abouL regu|atng Lhc momcnL o cnslavcmcnL. Tc masoch-
isL nccds somconc clsc and musL Lhus acL wiLh Lhc oLhcr raLhcr
Lhan imiLaLc a prccxisLing scL o acLions or sLaLcs. Tc masochisL
needs his misLrcss. Tis rclaLion is a priori congurcd in Lcrms o
an cLhical alliancc LhaL is characLcrizcd by a doublc movcmcnL:
jusL as Lhc misLrcss musL hccd hcr conLracLcd obligaLion Lo Lhc
oLhcr (Lhc masochisL), so Lhc laLLcr sccks ouL his subjccLion Lo
Lhc oLhcr (Lhc conLracLcd misLrcss). Tis doublc movcmcnL dc-
scribcs a doublc-bccoming, a bccoming-oLhcrwisc LhaL is spccic
Lo, sincc gcncraLcd by, Lhc rclaLion iLscl.
And Lhc samc characLcrizcs Lhc criLical pracLicc o masocriLi-
cism: jusL as Lhc LcxL Lo bc rcspondcd Lo, Lhrough iLs shccr cxis-
Lcncc as a spccically congurcd objccL, arrivcs bcorc mc wiLh a
scL o cxpccLaLions dcrivcd rom iLs proccss o gcncraLion (which
is irrcduciblc Lo Lhc conccpL o inLcnLionaliLy and cxcccds Lhc cx-
planaLory orcc o conLcxL), so Lhc criLical acL sccks ouL, Lhrough
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i
subjccLion, an cncounLcr wiLh Lhis oLhcr (Lhc LcxL) in such ashion
LhaL Lhc singulariLy o Lhis oLhcr, o iLs proccss o gcncraLion and
Lhc inhcring accLivc orcc, is aidcd in iLs cccLiviLy, in rcalizing
iLscl, raLhcr Lhan bcing rcLcrriLorializcd onLo a planc whcrc iLs
virLual poLcnLial is wcakcncd or simply blockcd. In shorL, maso-
criLicismconccivcd o as Lhc immancnL condiLion o possibiliLy
or an cncounLcr wiLh violcnccncccssiLaLcs rcsponsc, and Lhc
laLLcr rcquircs a giving ovcr o oncscl Lo Lhc OLhcr, Lo bccom-
ing-oLhcr, Lo Lhc proccss o bcing accLcd and cccLuaLcd by and
rom Lhc uLurcLo Lhc cxpcrimcnL.
ConscqucnLly, a masochisLic pracLicc sLrongly rcsonaLcs wiLh
Dclcuzcs noLion o sLoryLclling. As hc wriLcs in his analysis o
cincma, sLory-Lclling is noL an impcrsonal myLh, buL nciLhcr is iL
a pcrsonal cLion: iL is a word in acL, a spccch-acL Lhrough which
Lhc characLcr conLinually crosscs Lhc boundary which would scp-
araLc his privaLc busincss rom poliLics, and which tse|j produces
co||ectve utterances. [ . . . ] NoL Lhc myLh o a pasL pcoplc, buL
Lhc sLory-Lclling o a pcoplc Lo comc. Tc spccch-acL musL crc-
aLc iLscl as a orcign languagc in a dominanL languagc, prcciscly
in ordcr Lo cxprcss an impossibiliLy o living undcr dominaLion
(Cnema i iiii). A criLical spccch acL musL producc iLscl as
orcign Lo Lhc clichcs o a criLical discoursc sLccpcd in rcprcscn-
LaLionalism. ImporLanLly, howcvcr, doing so is noL a maLLcr o
subvcrsion, which is a Lhoroughly rcprcscnLaLional conccpL and
pracLicc. Nor is sLoryLclling a qucsLion o scl-cxprcssion, jusL as
Lhc masochisL is noL inLcrcsLcd in cxprcssing himscl. RaLhcr,
boLh sLoryLclling and masochism arc pracLiccs o collccLivc pro-
ducLion, machincs or Lhc producLion o Lhc uLurc. Tcy boLh
work as a mcans Lo arLiculaLc Lhc impossibiliLy o living undcr
dominaLion or Lo conLcsL whaL cxisLs. And Lhis sLrikcs mc as Lhc
Lask o masocriLical pracLicc as wcll: bcing in Lhc busincss o pro-
ducing spccch acLs, masocriLical pracLicc is a priori congurcd as
a co||ectve uLLcrancc. Bcing cngcndcrcd only by an a rmaLion o
an alliancc wiLh Lhc oLhcr qua Lhc oLhcrs cngcndcring orcc and
Lhus iLs muLabiliLy, masocriLicism parLicipaLcs in Lhc collccLivc
producLion o uLuriLy as an cvcnL LhaL is always Lo comc, n Lhis
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i6
producLion, n Lhis immancnL rcconguraLion, Lhc orccs o LhaL
which cxisLs (rcprcscnLaLion) arc inLcnsicd and rcdirccLcd or
Lhcm Lo bccomc-oLhcrwisc.
MasochisLic pracLicc, o coursc, cnLails morc Lhan jusL spccch
acLs, buL iL is noncLhclcss crucially govcrncd by onc spccic
spccch acLLhc conLracL. Trough Lhis conLracL, Lhc masochisLic
pracLicc is LighLly rcgulaLcd, ycL iL is Lhrough Lhis rcgulaLion LhaL
Lhc uLurc arrivcs in Lhc orm o purc dicrcncc. WiLh Lhc hclp
o Lhc conLracL, Lhc masochisL givcs himscl ovcr Lo his misLrcss
undcr Lhc prccisc rcgulaLions upon which Lhcy agrccd, Lhus scL-
Ling in moLion Lhcir muLual proccss o bccoming-oLhcrwisc (a
proccss LhaL Caspars dcniLion o cLhics blockswiLh aLal con-
scqucnccs or his abiliLy Lo cxisL).
Again, Lhis pracLicc o giving ovcr inLroduccs Lhc momcnL o
Lhc uLurc, Lhc crcaLion o uLurc sLorics, o pcoplc ycL Lo comc,
as Lhc masochisL has mcrcly providcd paramcLcrs o and or his
cxpcricnccs, buL by no mcans has hc dcLcrmincd Lhc acLion, iLs
Limc, or locaLion. InsLcad, hc cnLcrs an alliancc wiLh Lhc oLhcr, a
lic in dominaLion, buL Lhis dominaLion simulLancously consisLs
o a rcusal Lo bc dominaLcd by dominanL culLurc. Tc masochisL
Lwcaks dominaLion inLo somcLhing clsc, an cncounLcr wiLh Lhc
violcncc o scnsaLion in which Lhc uLurc, alLcriLy, cmcrgcs, bc-
comcs acLualizcdbuL only wiLh Lhc hclp o Lhc oLhcr.
ImporLanLly, masochism as a pracLicc/pragmaLics o violcncc
violcnLly pushcs Lhc conccpL o alLcriLy Lo iLs own limiL. I an cn-
counLcr wiLh alLcriLy is Lakcn scriously in cLhical Lcrms, violcncc
sccms Lo consLiLuLc Lhc cxLrcmc limiL: do I givc myscl ovcr Lo Lhc
oLhcr cvcn Lhough I will bc violaLcd` Tc masochisL answcrs Lhis
qucsLion in Lhc a rmaLivc, cvcn Lhough Lhc a rmaLion ncccs-
siLaLcs, and is Lhus limiLcd by, Lhc masochisLic conLracL. Nonc-
Lhclcss, Lhc masochisLs rcsponsc Lo alLcriLy rcvcals Lhc libcral
humanisL rhcLoric o communicaLivc rcason and iLs dcsirc or
conscnL (lcL us acknowlcdgc our dicrcncc and agrcc Lo disagrcc,
so wc all can gcL along) or whaL iL is: an obliLcraLion o dicr-
cncc (and as such violcncc wriL largc) raLhcr Lhan an a rmaLion
o dicrcncc.
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i,
In shorL, masochismmasocriLicismis a rigorous pracLicc
o cxpcrimcnLaLion LhaL, Lo borrow rom Dclcuzcs dcscripLion o
Lhc Limc-imagc, carrics ouL a suspenson oj the wor|d or accLs Lhc
visiblc wiLh a dsturbance, which, ar rom making LhoughL visiblc
[is] on Lhc conLrary dirccLcd Lo whaL docs noL lcL iLscl bc LhoughL
in LhoughL, and cqually Lo whaL docs noL lcL iLscl bc sccn in vi-
sion (Cnema i :68). Tc masochisL suspcnds Lhc world by crc-
aLing a ncw onc wiLh Lhc hclp o Lhc oLhcr (a pcrson, an objccL,
an imagc). Bcing (liLcrally) suspcndcd, Lhc masochisL bccomcs-
oLhcr, jusL as Lhc oLhcr is accLcd by Lhc masochisL and bccomcs-
masochisL (pace an cnLirc LradiLion o criLicism inucnccd by
Sigmund Frcud who considcrcd masochism and sadism as onc
cohcrcnL cnLiLy: sadomasochism). TogcLhcr, Lhcy crcaLc a world,
sLorics, and LhoughL LhaL do noL rccr Lo sysLcms o judgmcnL.
Tcir world, sLorics, and LhoughL, Lhough rcal, arc morc akin Lo
whaL Dclcuzc calls alsiying narraLion, which rccs iLscl rom
[and] shaLLcrs Lhc sysLcm o judgmcnL bccausc Lhc powcr o Lhc
alsc (noL crror or doubL) accLs Lhc invcsLigaLor and Lhc wiLncss
as much as Lhc pcrson prcsumcd guilLy (Cnema i :).
Tc ollowing chapLcrs aim aL dcvcloping and pcrorming Lhis
shaLLcring o judgmcnL in Lhcir rcpcaLcd cncounLcrs wiLh vio-
lcncc. ChapLcr i ocuscs on Lhc novcl and lm Amercan Psycho in
ordcr Lo dclincaLc morc carcully whaL iL may cosL criLical pracLicc
Lo approach violcnL imagcs Lhrough Lhc lcns o rcprcscnLaLion,
chapLcr providcs a LhcorcLical gcncalogy LhaL cxplains why rcp-
rcscnLaLion is always alrcady a qucsLion o judgmcnL, chapLcr
cngagcs Lhc cLion o PaLricia HighsmiLhcspccially hcr Riplcy
novclsin ordcr Lo invcsLigaLc how a cLion wriLcr crcaLivcly
works Lhrough Lhc problcm o rcprcscnLaLion as a problcm o
judgmcnL in Lhc conLcxL o violcncc, chapLcr ocuscs on Lhc acL-
ing work o RobcrL DcNiro in ordcr Lo complicaLc Lhc kcy disLinc-
Lion o working Lhrough and acLing ouL LhaL sLrucLurcs much o
Lhc moral discoursc on (mcdia) violcncc, and chapLcr 6 Lurns Lo
Don DcIillos cssay on j/:: in ordcr Lo show in conclusion whaL
Lhc payo o masocriLicism may bc or Lhc so-callcd rcal world.
TroughouL Lhis book, I will pursuc a doublc ocus: on onc
Te vo|ence oj Sensaton i8
hand, I will rcpcaLcdly aLLcnd Lo Lhc criLical work donc by Lhc con-
ccpL o rcprcscnLaLion in Lhc conLcxL o violcnL imagcs, on Lhc
oLhcr, I puL in moLion masocriLical pracLicc. Or, morc prcciscly,
Lhc LrajccLory o my argumcnL dcmands LhaL I movc through Lhc
work LhaL rcprcscnLaLion docs in Lhc conLcxL o violcnL imagcs in
ordcr Lo arrivc aL a pracLicc o masocriLicism. Tc laLLcr may pcr-
haps bcsL bc LhoughL o as Lhc prcconscious o rcprcscnLaLional
criLicismrcprcscnLaLional criLicism opcraLing aL a dicrcnL
spccd or on a dicrcnL lcvcl o inLcnsiLy. My hopc, in Lhc cnd, is
Lo ocr a way o Lhinking abouL boLh violcnL imagcs and criLical
pracLicc LhaL, aL Lhc vcry lcasL, provokcs Lhc rcadcr Lo considcr
Lhc criLical habiLs hc or shc has rccoursc Lo whcn conronLcd wiLh
(violcnL) imagcs. I would considcr Lhis projccL a small succcss i
iL somchow wcrc Lo do noL jusL somc work or Lhc rcadcr (aha,
a ncw mcLhodology wc can Lcach!) buL, pcrhaps, also on him or
hcr.
1udgment !s Not an Fxt ij
Comparison, Representation, Judgment
Mary Harron opcns hcr gcncrally wcll rcccivcd lm adapLaLion o
BrcL FasLon Flliss inamous :jj: novcl Amercan Psycho as i shc
consciously wanLcd Lo hccd 1can-Iuc Codards wcll-known anLi-
rcprcscnLaLional adagc noL blood, rcd, wiLh which hc maLLcr-
o-acLly rcspondcd Lo a Cahers du Cnema inLcrvicwcr who sug-
gcsLcd LhaL Codards Perrot Le Fou was banncd or childrcn undcr
cighLccn bccausc Lhcrc is a good dcal o blood in Perrot (Co-
dard, IcLs Talk abouL PicrroL i:,). AgainsL a sLcrilc backdrop
o purc whiLc, small rcd bloLchcs slowly drip down Lhc scrccn, onc
by onc, wiLhouL urLhcr (conLcxLual) commcnLary or cxplanaLion
cxccpL or Lhc nondicgcLic, ccric violin sounds LhaL acccnLuaLc
Lhc dripping. CondiLioncd by numcrous horror movics, counLlcss
arLiclcs on Lhc making o Lhc lm, prcrclcasc rcvicws cvaluaLing
Harrons adapLaLion, and, poLcnLially, Lhc mcmory cvokcd by
Lhc book iLscl and Lhc public conLrovcrsy iL spawncd, Lhc audi-
cncc probably cxpccLs Harron Lo cuL Lo Lhc chasc righL rom Lhc
ouLscL and show PaLrick BaLcmanpsychoLic Wall SLrccL brokcr
cxLraordinairccommiLLing onc o his grisly dccds. Civcn LhaL
Flliss novcl has gaincd Lhc qucsLionablc rcpuLaLion o bcing onc
o Lhc mosL scandalously gory Amcrican novcls cvcr Lo bc pub-
lishcd by a mainsLrcam publishing housc, iL makcs only scnsc or
Harron Lo mark rom Lhc rsL sccnc whaL Lhc novcl is all abouL:
violcncc.
l
Representation, Aect, and American Psycho
1udgment !s Not an Fxt o
Tc slow dripping o Lhc rcd gradually muLaLcs inLo a slow
drizzlc, pcrhaps suggcsLing a gaping wound waiLing o-scrccn Lo
bc rcvcalcd by onc o Lhc ncxL shoLs. Tc audicncc rcadics iLscl
or somc poLcnLially discomorLing imagcspcrhaps a closc-up
o a slain woman wiLh hcr brcasLs cuL o, a homclcss bcggar wiLh
his cycs gougcd ouL, or a wcll-drcsscd yuppic puL ouL o his mis-
cry by onc swiL blow Lo Lhc hcad wiLh a dcsigncr ax.
2
ALcr all,
wc havc sccn many horror icks bcorc, and Lhus wc know LhaL
Lhc rcd wc scc musL bc blood. YcL, Lo our surpriscarLiculaLcd
by audiblc sighs o rclic convcycd Lhrough chuckling or ouLrighL
laughLcr by Lhc audicnccs wiLh whom I waLchcd Lhc lm Lhc day
o iLs LhcaLrical rclcascLhc ncxL shoL rcvcals Lhc rcd running
down Lhc whiLc scrccn as noLhing morc ghasLly Lhan a dccoraLivc
condimcnL bcing drizzlcd around Lhc circumcrcncc o an cxpcn-
sivc looking nouvcllc cuisinc dcsscrL. WhaL oncc was blood now
appcars Lo bc raspbcrry saucc.
WiLh Lhis wondcrully Codardian opcning momcnL, Lhc lm
pcrormaLivcly inLroduccs Lhc novcls singular asigniying, a-
ccLivc orcc. Or so iL sccms, or almosL insLanLancously Harron
abandons hcr aLLcmpL aL rcndcring cincmaLically Flliss violcnL
LcxL as a qucsLion o accLs and orccs raLhcr Lhan signicaLions
and mcanings. As Lhis chapLcr will arguc in grcaLcr dcLail, Lhc
lm subsLiLuLcs Lhc laLLcr qucsLion or Lhc ormcr by cxLracLing
and rcshaping Lhc novcls orccs in such a manncr LhaL Lhc lm
quickly Lurns inLo a rclaLivcly LradiLional saLircin Lhis casc o
Wall SLrccL capiLalism in Lhc :j8os as cxcmplicd by PaLrick BaLc-
man, Lhc psychoLically violcnL yuppic proLagonisL o Flliss novcl.
In cincmaLically insLanLiaLing Lhc criLical rcccpLion o Amercan
Psycho LhaL obscssivcly judgcd Flliss allcgcd saLirical rcprcscn-
LaLion o Rcaganomics, Harrons lm sympLomaLically cmbod-
ics Lhc Lcndcncy o culLural criLicism Lo conccivc o violcncc as
a maLLcr o rcprcscnLaLion and, in Lurn, Lo mark as udgment Lhc
incviLablc violcncc iL docs Lo a (violcnL) LcxL.
3
Rcmarkably, Harrons lm rcccivcd considcrably morc praisc
Lhan scorn, and nonc o Lhc ncgaLivc criLical rcsponscs havc cvcn
comc closc Lo approaching Lhc lcvcl o hosLiliLy launchcd againsL
1udgment !s Not an Fxt :
Flliss novcl.
4
Fvcn whcn Lhc lm is rcvicwcd unavorably, iL is sLill
sccn as an improvcmcnL ovcr Lhc book. In acL, Lhosc who considcr
Lhc lm a ailurc blamc Lhc book or iL. For insLancc, Tony Rayns
claims in Sght and Sound LhaL ovcrall Lhc lm docsnL work (i).
Hc gocs on Lo arguc, howcvcr, LhaL, againsL Lhc odds, Mary Har-
ron and Cuinivcrc Turncr havc succccdcd in cxLracLing a viablc
narraLivc scrccnplay rom Lhis ploLlcss blank. [ . . . ] [T]hcy havc
scnsibly junkcd a hugc amounL (i). How, Lhcn, can wc cxplain
LhaL Lhc lm has gcncrally bccn wcll rcccivcd whcn Lhc LcxLual
basis or iL has bccn so widcly and orccully rcvilcd` Why has
Harrons lm adapLaLion avoidcd Lhc angcr and ouLragc LhaL Fllis
has bccn ghLing o sincc Lhc books publicaLion` Tis qucsLion
cmcrgcs as bcing cvcn morc pcrLincnL i wc considcr LhaL many
criLics (rom boLh Lhc lcL and Lhc righL) who arc conccrncd abouL
Lhc cccLs LhaL arL mighL havc on a givcn audicncc mainLain LhaL
lm Lcnds Lo bc a mcdium LhaL Lhrough iLs visccral immcdiacy
has Lhc powcr Lo accL an audicncc morc violcnLly Lhan a book.
To bcgin answcring Lhcsc qucsLions, I suggcsL LhaL wc havc Lo
aLLcnd Lo onc o Lhc lms main cccLs, namcly, iLs indcxing Lhc
pracLicc o criLiquing boLh BrcL FasLon Flliss novcl and (violcnL)
LcxLs in gcncral. Tis indcxing occurs, howcvcr, prcciscly bccausc
Lhc lm dcploys (a rcsponsc Lo) Lhc criLical discoursc surrounding
whaL I call Lhc cvcnL Amcrican Psycho as onc o iLs kcy narraLivc
cngincs.
Taking scriously Lhis suggcsLion rcsulLs in an imporLanL mcLh-
odological conscqucncc or Lhis chapLcr, namcly, LhaL iL docs noL
providc a susLaincd inLcrprcLaLion o ciLhcr Lhc novcl or Lhc lm.
Tis chapLcr is noL inLcrcsLcd in uncovcring Lhc mcaning o ciLhcr
LcxL buL raLhcr in mapping ouL Lhc rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhcm
as iL manicsLs iLscl on and Lhrough Lhc suracc lcvcl o criLical
pracLiccs and discoursc. Unlikc mosL insLanccs o cincmaLic adap-
LaLions o liLcrary blucprinLs, I mainLain LhaL Amercan Psycho is
a spccial casc bccausc o Lhc rolc playcd by Lhc criLical discoursc
surrounding Lhc novcl. Tis is noL simply Lurning a poorly wriL-
Lcn book inLo a rcspccLablc lm, as may havc bccn Lhc casc, or
insLancc, wiLh many noir lms o Lhc :jos and :jos (cspccially
1udgment !s Not an Fxt i
Lhosc noL bascd on Lhc works by Dashicll HammcLL, Raymond
Chandlcr, or 1amcs M. Cain).
WhaL, Lhcn, docs criLicism o violcncc do` Onc answcr is LhaL
iL comparcs. 1usL considcr LhaL onc o Lhc mosL rcpcaLcd sLaLc-
mcnLs abouL mcdia violcncc is LhaL, supposcdly, Loday wc havc
morc mcdiaLcd violcncc (1v, movics, vidco gamcs) Lhan cvcr bc-
orc. In acL, Lhis comparaLivc sLaLcmcnL has achicvcd Lhc alsc
wisdom o common scnsc, as iL has bccn produccd by having
bccn rcpcaLcd ad nauscum or Lhc lasL Lhrcc dccadcs.
5
An cxamplc
o pcrormaLiviLy in Lhc Dcrridcan scnsc, such a clichc is parL o
Lhc LargcL o my projccL. IL is bccausc such common scnsc wis-
dom has coagulaLcd Lo a sLalc dogma LhaL our criLical and cLhical
Lask is Lo absLracL clichcs rom Lhc cxisLing misc-cn-sccnc o criLi-
cal discoursc in ordcr Lo arLiculaLc whaL violcncc docs and how iL
works. In doing so wc will bcgin Lo dcvclop a dicrcnL pcdagogi-
cal ncLwork LhaL ocrs a modc o rcsponsc Lo violcncc LhaL, whilc
always consLiLuLing a orm o violcncc iLscl, commiLs iLs violcncc
immancnLly, always hccding Lhc primacy o a spccic arLiculaLion
o violcncc as a mulLipliciLy o orccs.
Again, Lhcn, criLicism comparcs, whcLhcr Lhcmcs and sLylcs,
auLhors, or dirccLors, across dccadcs or wiLhin a givcn ycar.
6
And,
pcrhaps mosL imporLanLly, criLicisms ulLimaLc inLcrcsL Lcnds
Lo bc a comparison o a dicrcnL ycL rclaLcd kind: LhaL bcLwccn
Lhc LcxL and Lhc rcaliLy iL is said Lo rcprcscnL. NoLwiLhsLanding
Lhc LhcorcLical inLcrvcnLions o posL-sLrucLuralisL philosophcrs
(or arLisLic pracLiccs such a I-A-N-C-U-A-C-F pocLry), onc o
Lhc mosL dominanL habiLs o culLural criLicism rom PlaLo Lo Lhc
prcscnL has bccn Lo comparc a work o arL Lo rcaliLy, urLhcr, aL
lcasL sincc PlaLo, Lhis comparison has bccn inscribcd wiLh Lhc
Lcndcncy Lo judgc Lhc work o arL in Lcrms o iLs LruLh valuc.
7
Tc
closcr arL rcscmblcs lic, Lhc highcr iLs valuc, Lhc lcss accuraLc iLs
rcprcscnLaLionLhc morc dissimilar Lhc copy is rom Lhc origi-
nalLhc morc qucsLionablc iLs mcriL.
S
Obviously, iL would bc
ovcrly simplisLic Lo claim LhaL Lodays criLics arc cxclusivcly, or aL
lcasL prcdominanLly, PlaLonisLs, and iL would bc cqually problcm-
aLic Lo suggcsL LhaL culLural criLicism has noL movcd bcyond MaL-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
Lhcw Arnolds pracLicc o moral criLicism. Howcvcr, by diagnosing
Lhc discoursc spawncd by Amercan Psycho, I wanL Lo show LhaL
Lhc parLicular sty|e o conLcmporary cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL
culLural LcxLs conLinucs Lo pcrpcLuaLc LhaL which has cmcrgcd
wiLh PlaLonisms dcnunciaLion o simulacra as dangcrously inc-
rior arLiacLs comparcd Lo Lruc copics: LhaL is, Lhc criLical habiL
Lo rcspond Lo violcnL arL as a maLLcr o rcprcscnLaLion LhaL incvi-
Lably, howcvcr subLly, dcmands a judgmcnL o iL.
Focusing on Lhc cvcnL Amcrican Psycho, o coursc, is noL
a ncuLral choicc. RaLhcr, I am inLcrcsLcd in iL prcciscly bccausc
Lhc novcl, iLs criLical rcccpLion, and Lhc lm as parL o Lhc laL-
Lcr violcnLly arLiculaLc Lhc problcmaLic aL hand: Lhc way criLical
discoursc habiLually LranslaLcs Lhc asigniying orccs o (liLcrary
and cincmaLic) imagcsaccLivc inLcnsiLicsinLo a signiy-
ing rcgimc o judgmcnL. Tis rcgimc consisLcnLly qucsLions Lhc
valuc o violcncc as i wc alrcady kncw whaL violcncc in Lhc rcalm
o acsLhcLics is or can do, all Lhc whilc ignoring in iLs shccr scl-
assurancc Lhc NicLzschcan provocaLion Lo invcsLigaLc Lhc valuc
o valuc iLscl. ALLcnding Lo Lhc cvcnL Amcrican Psycho, Lhcn,
will hopcully hclp us work ouL whaL is aL sLakc in Lhc qucsLion
o imagcd violcncc, Lhus allowing us Lo ormulaLc a scrics o
problcms LhaL subscqucnL chapLcrs will rcramc, dcvclop, and
rcspond Lo.
0
Civcn LhaL criLicism is abouL comparing, Lhc qucsLion cmcrgcs
whcLhcr wc can imaginc ways o comparison LhaL do noL rcly on,
or havc rccoursc Lo, Lhc modc o judgmcnL as a crucial compo-
ncnL o criLical pracLicc. Or, Lo puL a dicrcnL spin on Lhis qucs-
Lion, givcn Lhc incviLabiliLy o violcncc LhaL criLicism docs Lo LhaL
which iL cncounLcrs (i.c., any criLicism is sclccLivc and Lhus omiLs,
paraphrascs and Lhus changcs, LranslaLcs and Lhus alLcrs, cuLs
inLo Lhc objccL and Lhus cxLracLs), is iL possiblc or criLicism Lo
mark iLs violcncc noL immcdiaLcly as judgmcnL`
l0
Tc Lask hcrc is
nciLhcr Lo gcL rid o comparison as a criLical Lool nor Lo dcny Lhc
incviLablc violcncc o oncs criLical pracLicc. RaLhcr, iL is Lo ask
why Lhis violcncc Lcnds Lo bc markcd as judgmcnL and whaL Lhc
cosL o Lhis is, as wcll as whcLhcr wc posscss alLcrnaLivc Lools LhaL
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
mighL allow us Lo cngagc in comparaLivc criLicism wiLhouL acccpL-
ing iLs inviLaLion Lo judgc.
Deleuzes Symptomatology
WhaL, Lhcn, mighL bc Lhc problcm wiLh judgmcnL` Considcring
criLicisms poLcnLial Lo bc somcLhing oLhcr Lhan criLiqucwhich,
rom KanL on, has bccn Lhc mosL vcncraLcd way o rcacLing Lo an
(arLisLic) cvcnLCillcs Dclcuzc providcs onc answcr Lo Lhis qucs-
Lion and, in Lurn, ocrs us a way o rcsponding Lo cvcnLs wiLhouL
judgmcnL or, in any casc, wiLhouL immcdiaLcly having rccoursc Lo
iL. Fvoking Fricdrich NicLzschc, Baruch Spinoza, and AnLonin Ar-
Laud, Dclcuzc argucs in To Havc Donc wiLh 1udgmcnL LhaL Lhc
problcm wiLh judgmcnL is a pragmaLic onc: 1udgmcnL prcvcnLs
Lhc cmcrgcncc o any ncw modc o cxisLcncc. For Lhc laLLcr crc-
aLcs iLscl Lhrough iLs own orccs, LhaL is, Lhrough Lhc orccs iL is
ablc Lo harncss, and is valid in and o iLscl inasmuch as iL brings
Lhc ncw combinaLion inLo cxisLcncc. Hcrcin, pcrhaps, lics Lhc sc-
crcL: to brng nto exstence and not to udge. I iL is so disgusLing Lo
judgc, iL is noL bccausc cvcryLhing is o cqual valuc, buL on Lhc
conLrary bccausc whaL has valuc can bc madc or disLinguishcd
only by dcying judgmcnL (:, my cmphasis). IL is imporLanL
Lo sLrcss Dclcuzcs asscrLion LhaL noL cvcryLhing is o cqual
valuc. In oLhcr words, nciLhcr Dclcuzc nor cllow posL-sLrucLur-
alisLs such as 1acqucs Dcrrida or Michcl FoucaulL arc rclaLivisLs
or nihilisLs, as Lhc anLiLhcory crowd oLcn allcgcs. Civcn Lhc gc-
ncalogical connccLion Lo NicLzschc, Lo whom Lhc nihilisL was Lhc
cncmy, Lhis can bc ncws only Lo Lhosc who alscly bclicvc LhaL
Lhc Ccrman philosophcr holds mass aL Lhc alLar o nihilism. I scc
my argumcnL in ricndship wiLh Lhis nonnihilisLic, nonrclaLivisL,
NicLzschcan gcncalogy, or which valuc has Lo bc produccd, noL
rcproduccd. In conLrasL, judgmcnL rcproduccs valuc bascd on a
prccxisLing (moral) ground, Lhus pcrpcLuaLing Lhc samc modcs o
cxisLcncc raLhcr Lhan hclping Lhc ncw/dicrcncc Lo cmcrgc.
ll
Dclcuzc suggcsLs wc Lakc Spinozas claim LhaL wc do noL cvcn
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
know whaL a body can do morc scriously. For Dclcuzc Lhc crucial
qucsLion is noL how Lo judgc a body buL Lo nd ouL whaL clsc a
body is capablc o and how iL can cxisL dicrcnLly: how clsc can
a body cnLcr rclaLionships wiLh oLhcr bodics whosc opcraLivc cn-
ginc is aectve orccwiLh Lhc vccLor o Lhis orcc (iLs wcighL
and dirccLion, LhaL is, iLs inLcnsiLy) dcLcrmining Lhc capaciLy o
a body boLh Lo bc accLcd by and accL oLhcr bodics` Hcncc, or
Dclcuzc, whosc criLical cyc always scarchcs or LhaL which has Lhc
capaciLy Lo producc ncw lincs o ighL producLivc o ncw modcs
o cxisLcncc, iL is lovc and haLcorccs, accLsinsLcad o judg-
mcnL LhaL providc Lhc impcLus or wriLing criLically on liLcraLurc
or lm, or diagnosing which rcsponscs work and which do noL.
Iovc and haLc, I should sLrcss, arc undamcnLally dicrcnL
modcs o inLcnsiLy Lhan judgmcnL, noLwiLhsLanding Lhc impor-
LanL acL LhaL all Lhrcc accLivc modaliLics arc parL o Lhc samc
sliding scalc o rcsponsivcncss and Lhus rcsponsc-abiliLy. Sccn
in Lhis lighL, Lhc criLical Lask o comparing is not a qucsLion o
judging any givcn Lcrm o Lhc comparison as supcrior or incrior,
good or cvil. From Dclcuzcs poinL o vicw or whom Lhc only
Lruc criLicism is comparaLivc [ . . . ] bccausc any work in a cld is
iLscl imbricaLcd wiLhin oLhcr clds (Brain Is Lhc Scrccn 6,),
Lhc judgmcnLal modc o comparison sccms only Lo pcrpcLuaLc Lhc
sLaLus quo, as Lhis chapLcr will show in Lhc ncxL sccLions. IL con-
Linucs Lo a rm a givcn moral ground bascd on which judgmcnL
is passcd, Lhus rcmaining incapablc o invcnLing a ncw modc o
rcsponsc or linc o ighL. AgainsL Lhis, Dclcuzc cngagcs in com-
paraLivc criLicism bccausc iL allows connccLions Lo bc drawn, link-
agcs Lo bc orcgroundcd, dicrcnccs Lo bc arLiculaLcdin shorL,
iL allows or Lhc producLion o ncw modcs o cxisLcncc, o bccom-
ing-accLcd oLhcrwisc.
Pcrhaps mosL imporLanLly, comparaLivc criLicism as conccivcd
and pracLiccd by Dclcuzc is capablc o diagnosing arL in Lcrms
o sympLoms raLhcr Lhan syndromcs. Hc docs noL ask whaL Lhc
discasc (syndromc) is in ordcr Lo curc iL buL invcsLigaLcs Lhc
sympLomaLic orccs (in NicLzschcan Lcrms, acLivc and rcacLivc
orccs) LhaL makc up Lhc syndromc: hc asks whaL sympLoms do,
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 6
how Lhcy work, raLhcr Lhan dcbaLing whcLhcr somcLhing is bad or
noL. InsLcad o blaming a virus and Lrying Lo gcL rid o iL bccausc
o whaL iL s, or insLancc, Dclcuzcan sympLomaLology diagnoscs
which orccs o Lhc viruss makcup can bc harncsscd producLivcly.
Tc qucsLion is always, how can Lhcsc orccs bc dcploycd der-
ent|y` As Paul PaLLon, onc o Dclcuzcs mosL lucid commcnLaLors,
cxplains, Whilc [illncss] is clcarly a rcacLivc orcc, iLs valuc dc-
pcnds on Lhc naLurc o Lhc subjccL and how iL rcsponds Lo Lhc ill-
ncss which acLs upon iL. Tc samc physiological sLaLc may wcakcn
somc powcrs buL also opcn ncw possibiliLics o ccling or bring
abouL ncw capaciLics or acLing and bcing acLcd upon (6).
RaLhcr Lhan conaLing syndromcs wiLh sympLoms and Lhus
ovcrlooking Lhc way illncss is always mulLiplc, sympLomaLology
harncsscs Lhc varying orccs immancnL Lo modcs o cxisLcncc as
a way inLo human rclaLionships, inLo mulLipliciLy. Hcncc, symp-
LomaLology ghLs and cxpcrimcnLs wiLh Lhc mulLipliciLy o orccs
immancnL Lo somcLhing likc canccr (or, as will bc sccn Lhrough-
ouL, violcncc), noL bccausc o somc moral undcrsLanding o whaL
Lhc syndromc s, buL bccausc o whaL Lhc sympLoms doLhaL is,
bccausc o Lhcir cccLs.
PuL dicrcnLly, comparison is always a sorL o classicaLion,
somcLhing Dclcuzc was parLicularly ond o LhroughouL his lic.
l2

Hc argucs LhaL a classicaLion always involvcs bringing LogcLhcr
Lhings wiLh vcry dicrcnL appcaranccs and scparaLing Lhosc LhaL
arc vcry similar. [ . . . ] A classicaLion is always a sympLomaLol-
ogy (Brain Is Lhc Scrccn 68). Dclcuzcs usc o sympLoms,
howcvcr, oughL noL Lo bc conuscd wiLh hcrmcncuLic psychoana-
lyLic pracLiccs whcrc sympLoms arc ulLimaLcly somcLhing Lo bc
uncovcrcd and curcd. O coursc, noL all psychoanalysis is hung
up on uncovcring sympLoms. For cxamplc, Slavoj ick proposcs
or psychoanalysis Lo ocus on Lhc cLish raLhcr Lhan sympLoms
bccausc Loday idcology uncLions in a way LhaL is much closcr
Lo Lhc noLion o [Lhc ormcr] (Philosophcr 8). His noLion o
sympLom, howcvcr, crucially dicrs rom Dclcuzcs in LhaL or
ick cvcryLhing bcgins and cnds wiLh Lhc Iacanian noLion o
consLiLuLivc IackLhc impossiblc nonobjccL o dcsirc LhaL, or
1udgment !s Not an Fxt ,
Iacanian psychoanalysis in iLs bcsL orm, dcncs Lhc proccss o
subjccL, and Lhus social, ormaLion. In conLrasL, Iackrcprcscn-
LaLionplays no such rolc in Dclcuzcs LhoughL. IL is prcciscly
Lhis conccpLual aporia bcLwccn Dclcuzc and 1acqucs Iacan LhaL,
dcspiLc Lhcir LhoughLs many sccming convcrgcnccs, marks Lhc
irrcduciblc dicrcncc bcLwccn Lhcm.
l3
For Dclcuzc, Lhcn, sympLomaLology diagnoscs Lhc dicrcnccs
bcLwccn objccLs in ordcr Lo cmphasizc Lhc dicrcnccs wiLhouL
cradicaLing Lhcm, wiLhouL rcducing Lhcm Lo somc prior original
idcnLiLy, including Lhc ccnLral Iacanian conccpL o Iack LhaL is
supposcd Lo govcrn Lhc cnLircLy o our sociopsychic cconomy.
FurLhcr, iL dcscribcs Lhcsc dicrcnccs as bcing produccd on Lhc
samc planc o immancnccLhaL is, objccLs dicrcnccs rcsulL
rom Lhc samc cld o suracc orccs aL work in Lhc samc culLural-
hisLorical maLrix. To comparc somcLhing wiLh somcLhing clsc,
Lhcrcorc, is always a maLLcr o diagnosing onc objccL through Lhc
oLhcr, as a rcsponsc Lo iL, in an aLLcmpL Lo dcscribc whaL Lhc di-
crcnccs arc, whcrc Lhcy comc rom, whaL Lhcir inLcnsiLics arc,
and whaL Lhcy suggcsL abouL Lhc orccs LhaL havc produccd Lhc
dicrcncc.
Immancncc, as Alain Badiou puLs iL, rcquircs LhaL you placc
yourscl whcrc LhoughL has alrcady sLarLcd, as closc as possiblc
Lo a singular casc and Lo Lhc movcmcnL o LhoughL (:). Hcncc,
immancnL criLicism docs noL dcsirc an (unaLLainablc and Lhus
always lacking) ouLsidc rom which Lo judgc sacly Lhc moraliLy
o Lhc cvcnL. CommcnLing on Lhc poliLical and cLhical inc cacy
o culLural and poliLical criLicisms dcsirc or an ouLsidc, promi-
ncnL MarxisL culLural LhcorisLs Michacl HardL and AnLonio Nc-
gri concur wiLh Dclcuzcs philosophy o immancncc and conLcnd
LhaL wc should bc donc oncc and or all wiLh Lhc scarch or an
ouLsidc, a sLandpoinL LhaL imagincs a puriLy or our poliLics. IL is
bcLLcr boLh LhcorcLically and pracLically Lo cnLcr Lhc Lcrrain [. . .]
and conronL iLs homogcnizing and hcLcrogcnizing ows in all
Lhcir complcxiLy, grounding our analysis in Lhc powcr o Lhc [. . .]
mulLiLudc (6). In oLhcr words, Lhc only way ouL is Lhrough.
Taking Lhc basic LcncLs o sympLomaLological comparaLivc
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 8
criLicisminLcnsiLy, immancncc, and a BarLlcbycsquc aLLiLudc
Loward judgmcnL, Lhc cxhausLcd I would prccr noL Lo insLcad
o Lhc sadisLic dcsirc Lo Lransgrcss as a pcrormaLivc mcans Lo
pass judgmcnLas Lhc arrow o LhoughL Lo bc caughL and rcdi-
rccLcd, lcL us Lurn Lo Lhc comparison aL hand: cminisL dirccLor
Mary Harrons cincmaLic rcsponsc Lo Flliss much-loaLhcd Amer-
can Psycho. Rcsponding Lo boLh Dclcuzcs aLLiLudc Loward com-
paraLivc criLicism and Lhc objccLs o comparison, I wanL Lo diag-
nosc Lhc dicrcnccs bcLwccn Lhc novcl and iLs movic adapLaLion
as sympLoms o Lhc largcr discoursc LhaL Lhc novcl has produccd
and, in Lurn, bccn accLcd by sincc Lhc prcpublicaLion o sclccLcd
passagcs o Flliss LcxL in Tme and Spy LhaL inLroduccd Lhc public
Lo Lhc novcls LiLlc characLcr, PaLrick BaLcman, as hc cngagcs in
cxLrcmc acLs o violcncc. All Loo oLcn, criLics arguc LhaL Harrons
lm capLurcs Lhc csscncc o Flliss novcl buL is bcLLcr bccausc iL
condcnscd Lhc cxccsscs o Lhc book. IL is againsL Lhis cradicaLion
o dicrcncc bcLwccn Lwo works o arLisLic producLionLhc cli-
sion o spcciciLy in avor o ulLimaLcly collapsing Lhc Lwo LcxLs
as oncLhaL I wanL Lo dcploy Dclcuzcs conccpL o sympLom-
aLology, which hc rsL inLroduccd in Masochsm: SympLomaLol-
ogy is always a qucsLion o arL and is ocrcd againsL dialccLical
sublimaLion in ordcr Lo osLcr a criLical and clinical appraisal ablc
Lo rcvcal Lhc Lruly dicrcnLial mcchanisms as wcll as Lhc arLisLic
originaliLics (:). By sympLomaLologically cngaging Harrons
lm as a rcsponsc Lo Lhc cvcnL Amcrican PsychoLhaL is, Lo
Lhc novcl and iLs discursivc hisLoryI ulLimaLcly conccivc o Lhc
rcsL o Lhis chapLcr as an aLLcmpL aL arLiculaLing whaL iL cosLs
criLical discoursc consisLcnLly Lo rcad Flliss novcl rcprcscnLaLion-
ally, LhaL is, as a saLirc o Lhc immoral maLcrialisL cxccsscs o Rca-
ganomics or, as Cavin SmiLh puLs iL in his rcvicw, as a mordanLly
unny and agrccably blaLanL saLirc wiLh gcnuinc subvcrsivc biLc
(,i).
Morc spccically, I wanL Lo cxaminc whaL iL cosLs us in Lcrms
o our capaciLy Lo rcspond Lo a violcnLly boring as wcll as boringly
violcnL LcxL such as Amercan Psycho whcn criLical discoursc con-
Linucs Lo a rmindccd cclcbraLcHarrons dccision Lo rcmovc
1udgment !s Not an Fxt j
Lhc novcls cxccss aL in a kind o cincmaLic liposucLion (Holdcn
s:). As a rcsulL o Harrons aLLcning ouL o Flliss LcxL, Lhc lm
cnds up cradicaLing Lhc novcls varying inLcnsiLics as cmbodicd
by iLs composiLional corncrsLoncs (rcpcLiLion, borcdom, and vio-
lcncc) in ordcr Lo rcpcaL Lhc criLical ordcr-word saLirc LhaL has
dominaLcd Lhc popular and criLical rcccpLion o Flliss novcl rom
Lhc vcry bcginning.
l4
I wanL Lo orcground whaL happcns wiLh a
Lypc o criLicism LhaL conLinually rclics on and rcLurns Lo oldcr
acsLhcLic caLcgorics [such as saLirc], cvcn in iLs cngagcmcnL wiLh
radically dicrcnL orms o culLural producLionnamcly, LhaL iL
rcmains incapablc o hccding Lhcsc works call or ncw Lcrms or
dcscribing our rcsponscs Lo innovaLivc works, ncw dirccLions Lo
bc uscd in Lhc work o criLically commcnLing on Lhcm (Ngai :6).
In oLhcr words, whilc I will spccically comparc admiLLcdly sclcc-
Livc momcnLs rom Flliss novcl and Harrons lm adapLaLion, I am
noL so much inLcrcsLcd in simply asscrLing LhaL Lhcsc Lwo LcxLs
arc dicrcnL, lcL alonc LhaL onc is bcLLcr Lhan Lhc oLhcr. Prcciscly
bccausc Lhc rcal qucsLion violcnL imagcs raisc is noL whcLhcr vio-
lcncc is good or bad buL whaL iL docs, I insLcad wanL Lo cxaminc
whaL Lhc LcxLs dicrcnccs consisLs o, rom whaL pracLiccs Lhcsc
dicrcnccs cmcrgc, and why Lhc dicrcnccs indccd makc a dicr-
cncc or culLural criLicisms capaciLy Lo rcspond Lo boLh Amercan
Psycho in parLicular and acsLhcLic violcncc in gcncral.
Harrons Film as a Double Response
From Lhc bcginning, criLics havc conccnLraLcd on Lhrcc rclaLcd
qucsLions abouL Flliss novcl: whcLhcr Lhc LcxLs violcncc is im-
moral or noL, whcLhcr Amercan Psycho is a succcssul saLirc or
noL, and whcLhcr Lhc inccssanL rcpcLiLivcncss and aLncss o Lhc
books prosc indicaLcs a saLirical purposc or mcrc lack o auLho-
rial skill. Tosc who condcmn Lhc novcl as immoral consisLcnLly
rcjccL iLs saLirical componcnL and dcny Fllis any skill whaLsocvcr.
ChrisLophcr Hudson, or cxamplc, argucs, I Lhcrc had bccn
somc anguishcd purposc bchind [Lhc novcls] obsccniLicsor
1udgment !s Not an Fxt o
insLancc, Lo rcccL upon man or his socicLy in cxLrcmisLhcy
mighL, jusL possibly, havc bccn dccnsiblc. Amercan Psycho ap-
pcars Lo bc cmpLy o any purposc whaLsocvcr, oLhcr Lhan Lo gcL
iLs auLhor back in Lhc ncws aLcr Lhc criLical and commcrcial ail-
urc o his sccond novcl, Ru|es oj Attracton (qLd. in Icbcau :i,).
Tcrry TcachouL concurs: ILs incpLly wriLLcn. ILs sophomoric. IL
is, in Lhc LrucsL scnsc o Lhc word, obsccnc (). And, mosL ina-
mously, Rogcr RoscnblaLL cncouragcs New York Tmes rcadcrs Lo
snu Flliss book bccausc o iLs moronic and sadisLic conLcnLs,
bccausc iL is so poinLlcss, so Lhcmclcss, so cvcryLhinglcss, and
bccausc Lhc novcls main characLcr has no moLivaLion or his
madncss [and] is ncvcr broughL Lo jusLicc.
Tosc who arc willing Lo cnLcrLain Lhc idca LhaL Lhc novcl
mighL havc a moral purposc aLLcmpL Lo rcscuc Lhc novcl rom iLs
dcLracLors by making as good o a casc as possiblc or Lhc LcxLs
saLirical inLcnLions and cccLs.
l5
CriLics aLLiLudc Loward Flliss
sLylc, in Lurn, Lcnds Lo bc dcLcrmincd by how Lhcy judgc Lhc ovcr-
all cccL o Lhc novcl: Lhosc who judgc iL as conscrvaLivc rcjccL
his sLylc as arLlcss, Lhosc who judgc Lhc novcl as a morc or lcss
good saLirc Lhink o Lhc sLylc as aL lcasL noL cnLircly poinLlcss.
l6

Rcgardlcss o Lhc ouLcomc o Lhc criLics judgmcnL, howcvcr, Lhc
novcls violcncc iLscl is ncvcr conccpLualizcd, iL ncvcr consLiLuLcs
Lhc ocus or rcsponsc in and o iLscl. IndicaLivc o Lhc gcncral
di culLics suracing whcn criLical discoursc cncounLcrs Lhc issuc
o violcncc, Lhc rcccpLion o Amercan Psycho always congurcs
Lhc novcls violcncc as allcgorical or mcLaphorical, as bcing abouL
somcLhing oLhcr Lhan violcncc iLscland Lhc succcss o Lhc vi-
olcnccs rcprcscnLaLional sLaLus dcLcrmincs Lhc criLical judgmcnL
o iL. In oLhcr words, Lhc criLical violcncc donc Lo Flliss LcxLiL-
scl urLhcr highlighLcd by Lhc passionaLc, oLcn viLriolic rhcLoric
dcploycd by Lhc criLicsmarks iLscl in Lcrms o judgmcnL, as
bcing conccrncd wiLh whcLhcr violcncc is good or bad raLhcr Lhan
wiLh whaL iL docs.
Now, Lhis criLical violcncc donc Lo Lhc novclonc which con-
sisLcnLly marks iLscl as judgmcnLdocs noL so much consLi-
LuLc a problcm bccausc any o Lhcsc criLics arc wrong, raLhcr,
1udgment !s Not an Fxt :
iL raiscs Lhc morc inLcrcsLing qucsLions o whaL judgmcnL docs,
o whaL iLs cccLs arc. Among Lhc many cccLs Lhis spccic criLi-
cal judgmcnL had, onc o Lhc mosL rcmarkablc was Lo havc cs-
Lablishcd Lhc condiLions o possibiliLy or uLurc rcsponscs Lo
Flliss Amercan Psychoin Lhis casc Mary Harrons lm. In oLhcr
words, Harron hardly could ignorc Lhc vicious and wcll-publicizcd
characLcr o Lhc criLical rcsponsc Lo Flliss novcl, or Lhc spcci-
ciLics o Lhc rcccpLions Lcrms consLiLuLcd Lhc discursivc orma-
Lion by which any arLiculaLion o uLurc rcsponscs was bound.
l7

WhaLcvcr hcr pcrsonal rcsponsc Lo Flliss LcxL mighL havc bccn,
by Lhc Limc o shooLing hcr lm, Harrons rcsponsc was incviLa-
bly bound Lo bc a rcsponsc Lo Fllis through Lhc criLical rcsponsc
LhaL circulaLcd in Lhc public or Lhc prcvious dccadc. Civcn Lhc
rcqucnL aLLacks on Lhc novcl as dangcrously immoral garbagc,
Lhc possibiliLics or Harron Lo rcspond Lo Lhc LcxL wiLhouL im-
mcdiaLcly scLLing hcrscl up or Lhc samc kind o rcsponsc LhaL
Fllis rcccivcd wcrc limiLcd. To avoid Lhc poLcnLial criLical ouLragc
looming aL Lhc horizon, Harronwho in hcr rsL caLurc-lcngLh
lm, ! Shot Andy warho| (:jj6), rcvisiLcd Lhc biography o Valcric
Salonas, Lhc inamous auLhor o Lhc scur (SocicLy or CuLLing Up
Mcn) manicsLo and wannabc assassin o Andy Warholwas cs-
scnLially orccd Lo rcspond Lo Lhc criLical discoursc by ampliying
Lhc clcmcnL LhaL was LhoughL Lo bc Lhc solcly rcdccming acLor o
Flliss violcnL novcl: namcly, iLs saLirc.
O coursc, lms arc subjccL Lo raLing sysLcms and Lhus cannoL
always show whaL novcls can, lcsL Lhcy rcccivc an X raLing. (In-
cidcnLally, wc can casily imaginc Olivcr SLonc, who had bccn in-
LcrcsLcd in dirccLing Lhc lm, grcaLly ampliying Lhc violcncc and
gcLLing away wiLh iL.) Howcvcr, I arguc prcciscly LhaL ocusing on
Lhc rcprcscnLaLional quantty o cincmaLic gorc consLiLuLcs, in a
scnsc, Lhc problcm wiLh much o culLural criLicism o violcncc.
Harrons lm would noL ncccssarily havc bccn morc accLivcly
chargcd had shc includcd morc violcncc. AccL is noL simply a
maLLcr o morc in Lhc purcly quanLiLaLivc scnsc o Lhc word,
raLhcr, iL is a maLLcr o morc or lcss in Lhc scnsc o inLcnsiLy. For
insLancc, an cxamplc o Lhc ormcr would bc Lo gcL drunk by con-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt i
suming a boLLlc o ScoLch, an cxamplc o Lhc laLLcr would bc Lo
gcL drunk on waLcr (scc Dclcuzc and CuaLLari, Tousand P|ateaus
:66). Tc qucsLion, Lhus, is how and Lo whaL cccL cincma could
rcndcr Amercan Psychos violcncc nonrcprcscnLaLionally, raLhcr
Lhan whcLhcr morc lcnicnL codcs would lcad Lo morc LruLhul
rcprcscnLaLions. Can wc, or cxamplc, imaginc a Codardian cn-
counLcr LhaL docs noL dcpcnd or iLs accLivc orcc on rcprcscnL-
ing Flliss violcncc by Lrying Lo push Lhc boundarics o indusLry
limiLs Lo Lhcir uLmosL` TaL is, Codards qucsLionsBuL arc
Lhcsc Lhc words and imagcs Lo usc` Arc Lhcrc no oLhcrs` (Two or
Tree Tngs, :j66)rcmain as rclcvanL as cvcr whcn iL comcs Lo
any aLLcmpL Lo imagc an cvcnL.
In oLhcr words, by magniying Lhc novcls saLirical aspccLs, Har-
rons lm cmphasizcs LhaL Flliss violcnL novcl rea||y rcprcscnLs a
criLiquc o Lhc social raLhcr Lhan consLiLuLing mindlcss glorica-
Lion o violcncc, as has rcqucnLly bccn allcgcd.
lS
From Lhis symp-
LomaLological vicw o Lhc cvcnL Amcrican Psycho, Lhcn, iL docs
noL comc as a surprisc LhaL Lhc lm cmbodics Lhc criLical dcbaLc
LhaL prcccdcd iL. Tc lm docs indccd mark iLs main inLcrcsL in
saLirizing Lhc shallowncss and cruclLy o :j8os Amcrican capiLal-
ism, a acL almosL unanimously aLLcsLcd Lo by Lhc lms criLical rc-
ccpLion. (In acL, onc hardly nds any posiLivc rcvicw o Lhc lm
LhaL docs noL usc Lhc word saLirc. Fvcn Lhc rcvicws cxprcssing
dissaLisacLion wiLh Lhc lm discuss iL in Lhcsc Lcrms.)
l0
WiLhouL
qucsLion, according Lo Lhc lm, Flliss novcl ncgaLivcly judgcs iLs
rcprcscnLaLion o Wall SLrccL Amcrica, in Lurn, Lhc lm posiLivcly
judgcs whaL iL pcrccivcs Lo bc Lhc novcls saLirical rcprcscnLaLion
and docs iLs bcsL Lo clariy Lhis purposc. Tc novcls violcncc, in
all o Lhis, uncLions mcrcly as a mcLaphor or capiLalisms can-
nibalisLic cruclLyonc LhaL can bc acccpLcd prcciscly bccausc iL
mcrcly allcgorizcs Lhc largcr poinL o Lhc novcl.
Four rclaLivcly bric cxamplcs su cc Lo illusLraLc how cxacLly
Lhc lm modics Lhc novcl in ordcr Lo ampliy and clucidaLc iLs
saLiricaland Lhus rcprcscnLaLionalqualiLy. FirsL, Harron
spliccs dicrcnL sccncs rom Lhc book LogcLhcr as a mcans o
clariying BaLcmans moLivaLion and psychology. Shc Lhus ncu-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
Lralizcs Lhc possibiliLy or a rccurrcncc o onc argumcnL lcvicd
againsL Fllis, namcly, LhaL hc ailcd Lo providc any insighL inLo
why a human bcing mighL bc inclincd Lo such cxLrcmc violcncc.
20

Sccond, Harron adds Lwo sccncs noL rom Lhc book iLscl in or-
dcr Lo makc Lhc oLhcrwisc dormanL dcLccLivc sLory o Flliss LcxL
sccm much morc crucial. Tc rsL sccnc has BaLcman draw Lhc
killing o a prosLiLuLc on a LablccloLh as hc siLs across rom his
ancc, LcrminaLing Lhcir rclaLionship ovcr dinncr aL an upscalc
rcsLauranL. Tc sccond shows his cmalc sccrcLary, 1can (Chloc
Scvigny), scarching BaLcmans o cc dcsk aLcr hc placcd a raLhcr
incohcrcnL and dcspcraLc-sounding phonc call Lo hcr. FvcnLually,
shc nds a noLcbook in which BaLcman has drawn a grcaL num-
bcr o graphic LorLurc sccncs. Magniying Lhc dcLccLivc clcmcnL
providcs Lhc lm wiLh prcciscly LhaL which Lhc book lackcd Lo Lhc
angry dismay o many criLics: a ploL. In addiLion Lo lcsscning Lhc
likclihood or criLics complainLs LhaL Lhc lms violcncc mighL
bc purcly scnsaLionalisL and graLuiLous (amiliar chargcs againsL
Flliss ploLlcss blank), Lhc cmphasis on Lhc dcLccLivc ploL also
cncouragcs Lhc audicncc Lo ocus on Lhc qucsLion o whcLhcr or
noL Lhc violcncc wc scc on scrccn rea||y Lranspircd. Tc audicncc
iLscl Lurns inLo dcLccLivcs, dcsiring Lo disccrn bcLwccn cvcnLs
LhaL Lruly occurrcd and Lhosc LhaL consLiLuLc mcrc anLasics o
Lhc proLagonisL.
2l
Tird, Harron allows acLor ChrisLian Balc Lo puL on a raLhcr
accLcd pcrormancc o PaLrick BaLcman LhaL clcarly draws Lhc
Amcrican Psycho as onc o Lhc mosL ludicrous monsLcr charac-
Lcrs in lm hisLory. ConronLcd wiLh Lhis vcrsion o BaLcman, Lhc
audicncc can ccl supcrior and Lhus is likcly Lo rcmain uninLcr-
csLcd in idcnLiying iLscl wiLh him. In oLhcr words, Lhc lm hclps
Lhc vicwcr Lo mainLain a disLancc Lo Lhc characLcr, which allows
him morc casily Lo snccr aL Lhc ridiculousncss o boLh BaLcman
as a characLcr and Lhc world hc appcars Lo rcprcscnL.
22
In con-
LrasL, Lhc novcl has oLcn bccn criLicizcd or sadisLically luring
Lhc rcadcr inLo sympaLhizing wiLh BaLcman only Lo bcLray and
punish hcr by ovcrwhclming hcr wiLh dcscripLivc onslaughLs o
cxLrcmc violcncc. Finally, Harron downplays Lhc cxpliciLncss o
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
Lhc novcls inLcnsc violcncc by Lurning iL inLo a raLhcr comorLing
and amiliar slapsLicklikc violcncc LhaL is casily rccognizablc Lo
Lhc audicncc rom, say, Lhc Scrcam ranchisc. Violcncc in Har-
rons lm is, by and largc, a maLLcr o laughLcr, albciL aL Limcs
uncasy laughLcr, whcrcas in Lhc novcl, Lo many criLics consLcrna-
Lion, Lhc violcncc inspircd noLhing buL purc incomprchcnsion. In
shorL, all o Lhcsc sLylisLic dcviccs scrvc Harron Lo Lakc Lhc wind
ouL o Lhosc criLics sails who mighL oLhcrwisc havc bccn inclincd
Lo crush hcr lm or Lhc samc rcasons LhaL Lhcy lambasLcd Flliss
book. Crucially, Harron succccds aL Lhis Lask prcciscly by Lrans-
orming Lhc criLical discoursc on Lhc book inLo Lhc cnginc or Lhc
producLion and sLrucLuring o hcr cincmaLic imagcs.
23
Spcnding any morc Limc Lhan I havc alrcady on mapping ouL
Lhc saLirical LrajccLory o Harrons lm would go againsL Lhc
poinL o Lhis chapLcr, namcly, LhaL Harrons lm is a sympLomaLic
eect o Lhc novcl and iLs rcccpLion, an cccL LhaL has alrcady
manicsLcd iLscl raLhcr obviously in Lhc lms rcvicws. Tc acL
is, Harrons lm consLiLuLcs a rcsponsc Lo Flliss novcl LhaL has
soliciLcd a criLical rcccpLion almosL complcLcly Lhc rcvcrsc o LhaL
provokcd by Lhc original LcxL: Lo wiL, criLical discoursc a rms
Harrons saLirical sLraLcgics and praiscs hcr dccisions Lo alLcr Lhc
novcl so LhaL jusL abouL cvcryLhing ocnsivc abouL iL has disap-
pcarcd. Hcrc, I jusL wanL Lo dcmarcaLc Lhc cost involvcd in allow-
ing Lhc ordcr-word saLircwhich Lcnds Lo bc mcrcly anoLhcr
namc or Lhc cvcn oldcr ordcr-word TruLh and Lhc rcgimc o
rcprcscnLaLion wiLhin which iL uncLionsLo dominaLc oncs (in-
sLiLuLionalizcd) rcsponsc Lo a LcxL such as Flliss. ALcr all, whaL
do wc know oncc wc havc dcLcrmincd LhaL Lhc novcl is saLirical`
WhaL do wc know abouL Lhc orcc o Lhc LcxLLhc orcc o lan-
guagc and imagcs as suchoncc wc know LhaL Amercan Psycho
is a (un)succcssul saLirc` WhaL cxacLly do wc know abouL cvcn
sympaLhcLic rcadcrs cxLrcmc di culLy in dcaling wiLh Lhc novcl
oncc wc havc cndlcssly rcpcaLcd and obcycd Lhc ordcr Lo connc
Lhc LcxL on Lhc lcvcl o saLirc` WhaL prcciscly do wc know abouL
Lhc obscssion LhaL cccLuaLcd and accLcd Lhc wriLing o Lhc LcxL
and, in Lurn, Lhc rcading o iL oncc wc havc concludcd LhaL Lhc
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
LcxL was mcanL Lo bc saLirical or oncc wc havc dccidcd whcLhcr or
noL BaLcman rcally did Lhc violcnL dccds jusL dcpicLcd (cvcn i wc
dccidc LhaL wc cannoL dccidc)`
24
And, nally, whaL do wc know
abouL LhaL which upscLs so many rcadcrs o Amercan PsychoLhc
cxccssivc, uncxplaincd, incomprchcnsiblc violcncconcc wc
agrcc LhaL Lhc novcl saLirizcs Lhc capiLalisL cxccsscs o Lhc pasL`
Wc havc Lo ask oursclvcs, Lhcrcorc, whaL oLhcr cccLs Har-
rons sLraLcgic modicaLions o Flliss novcl (mighL havc) had:
whaL docs Harrons sLraLcgy and iLs wholchcarLcd cmbracc by
criLical discoursc cosL us wiLh rcgard Lo our capaciLy Lo rcspond
noL only Lo Flliss cxLrcmcly violcnL LcxL buL also Lo violcnL im-
agcs in gcncral` To nd somc answcrs, lcL us cxaminc Harrons
handling o whaL arguably consLiLuLcs Lhc novcls mosL impor-
LanL dynamic: Lhc inLcracLion bcLwccn iLs boringly slow passagcs
o cndlcssly rcpcaLcd dcLails o BaLcmans lic and Lhc spccdcd-up
inLcrrupLions o violcnL ouLbursLs.
Te Boredom of Violence, the Violence of Boredom
Tc main dicrcncc bcLwccn Harrons lm and Flliss book is
markcd by Lhc cxLcnL Lo which borcdom is dcploycd as a major
sLylisLic sLraLcgy. Rcmcmbcr LhaL onc o Lhc mosL annoying parLs
o Lhc novcl is Lhc cndlcss rcpcLiLion o brand namcs, workouL
rouLincs, rcsLauranL mcnus, cloLhing advicc, Lclcvision programs,
music criLicism, misogynisL commcnLs, and non scquiLur chiLchaL.
Arguably, whaL happcns in rcading Lhc novcl is LhaL (aiLhul, or
pcrhaps bcLLcr, paLicnL) rcadcrs bccomc borcd by Flliss narra-
LivcdcspiLc iLs occasionally undcniablc humorand cvcnLually
bcgin Lo long or somc acLion. (Rcmcmbcr Loo LhaL Lhc rsL sccnc
o graphic violcncc docs noL cvcn occur bcorc abouL onc-Lhird
o Lhc way inLo Lhc book.) Tc acLion, o coursc, arrivcsas a
surprisc Lo Lhosc rcadcrs who paid liLLlc aLLcnLion Lo a numbcr
o hinLs indicaLing LhaL somcLhing may bc amiss wiLh BaLcman
and pcrhaps lcss surprising Lo Lhosc who havc puL Lhosc hinLs Lo-
gcLhcr and aL Lhc vcry lcasL wcrc awarc o BaLcmans pcnchanL or
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 6
violcnL acLions. BuL, as shocking as Lhc LorLuring o a homclcss
man and his dog surcly is, iL is only Lhc gradual incrcasc in rcpcLi-
Lion o cxcccdingly bruLal muLilaLions o busincss acquainLanccs
and ormcr or currcnL scx parLncrs LhaL Lhrough a spccdcd-up
cumulaLivc cccL bcgins Lo accL Lhc rcadcrs in such a manncr
LhaL Lhcy nd Lhcmsclvcs in a posiLion Lhcy havc noL occupicd
bcorc, LhaL Lhcy havc noL dcsircda posiLion LhaL calls or a rc-
sponsc or which, cvidcnLly, Lhc Lools arc noL (ycL) immcdiaLcly
availablc.
25
Hcncc, as cvinccd by Lhc books rcccpLion, mosL rcadcrs
sooncr or laLcr bcgin Lo long prcciscly or LhaL rom which Lhcy
havc wanLcd Lo cscapc: Lhc boring iLincraLion o consumcr goods,
shallow obscrvaLions, and scnsclcss acLiviLics. In oLhcr words,
Flliss abandonmcnL o any prcLcnsc Lo characLcrizaLion, psy-
chology, or moLivaLion paradoxically lurcs rcadcrs inLo longing
or Lhc vcry violcncc Fllis docs Lo Fnglish prosc. Rcadcrs prccr
Lhc accLivc qualiLy o prosaic, Lhough oLcn comical, borcdom
Lo LhaL o hcighLcncd graphic aggrcssion, ycL iL is, o coursc, Lhc
cxposurc Lo Lhc ormcr LhaL accLs and cccLuaLcs Lhc rcsponsc
Lo Lhc laLLcr. Clcarly, Lhcn, Lhc rcpulsivcncss o Lhc LcxL dccidcdly
cxisLs on boLh lcvcls, as cvidcnccd by Lhc jorceulncss o Lhc criLi-
cal rcsponscs Lo iL: LhaL o Lhc acLual physical violcncc commiLLcd
by BaLcman and LhaL o Lhc prosc iLscl. WhaL rcadcrs discovcr
is LhaL, in Lhc cnd, Lhcrc indccd cxisLs no cxiL (Fllis jj), no
way ouL rom Lhc cndlcss onslaughL o Lhc dicrcnL buL muLually
rcsonaLing accLivc rcgisLcrs o violcncc.
ConLrary Lo Lhc novcl, Lhc lms cmphasis on Lhc rcalncss o
BaLcmans acLionshcighLcncd by iLs cxpliciL rcliancc on dcLcc-
Lion as a main ploLLing dcviccprovidcs Lhc audicncc wiLh an
cxiL by LranslaLing Lhc qucsLion o violcncc and accL inLo LhaL
o LruLh and rcprcscnLaLion, wiLhouL cvcr hinLing LhaL LruLh iL-
scl is an accLivcly chargcd producL and pracLicc o violcncc as
wcll. Howcvcr, iL is hard Lo bclicvc LhaL rcadcrs sLruggling jusL Lo
gcL Lhrough Lhc novcl arc all LhaL conccrncd wiLh Lhc qucsLion o
whcLhcr or noL BaLcman acLually commiLLcd Lhc violcnL dccds. I
noLhing clsc, Lhis qucsLionLhc qucsLion o LruLharrivcs a-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt ,
Lcrward, buL whaLcvcr arrivcs Lhcn has alrcady bccn accLcd and
cccLuaLcd by Lhc parLicular lcvcl o inLcnsiLy o Lhc cncounLcr
wiLh Lhc sLylc and conLcnL o Lhc narraLivc. To haLc or Lo lovc
as a rcsponsc occurs prior Lo Lhc analyLic modc, prior Lo Lhc po-
LcnLial conccrn wiLh qucsLions abouL LruLh. TaL Lhc qucsLion o
LruLh, saLirc, or rcprcscnLaLion indccd arrivcs, almosL incviLably,
spcaks morc Lo Lhc insLiLuLional powcr Lo ordcr and Lrain rcadcrs
in adcquaLc or moral rcading habiLs Lhan Lo whaL Lhc book
iLscl docs.
YcL, asking rcprcscnLaLional qucsLions consLiLuLcs pcrhaps
Lhc main mcchanism by which criLicism has hcld aL bay qucsLions
o accL, o asignicaLion.
26
BuL sincc iL is impossiblc Lo rcjccL
ad hoc, and Lhus claim a sLancc ouLsidc o, rcprcscnLaLional lan-
guagc, iL is only by going through Lhis diagram o rcading (rcp-
rcscnLaLion) LhaL criLical languagc has any chancc o providing
rcadcrs wiLh ncw Lools Lo cncounLcr a book such as Amercan Psy-
cho. 1crcy Ncalon cloqucnLly argucs Lhis poinL: Simply Lo as-
sumc such an ouLsidc placc would bc Lo LrcaL as Lhc objccL o my
discoursc LhaL which, in acL, consLiLuLcs Lhc vcry condiLions o
possibiliLy or discoursc in gcncral: a rcprcscnLaLivc mcLaphysical
sLrucLurc characLcrisLic o Lhc cpoch o modcrn subjccLiviLy LhaL
scLs up Lhc paramcLcrs or whaL can bc said and Lhc ways in which
iL can bc said. Tc only way Lo bcgin spcaking abouL Lhis sysLcm,
Lhcn, is rom wiLhin (Loub|e Readng 868,). I am noL claiming
LhaL masocriLicism somchow miraculously Lransccnds Lhc logic o
rcprcscnLaLion, raLhcr, as I hopc Lo show LhroughouL, Lhc maLLcr
is onc o s|owng down Lhis logic or condiLion o possibiliLy.
WhaLcvcr Lhcsc ncw criLical Lools will bc, Lhcn, or Lhcm Lo
bc dicrcnL rom Lhc cxisLing oncs Lhcy would havc Lo allow Lhc
accLivc qualiLy o languagc or imagcs inLcnsivcly uscd by LcxLs
such as Amercan Psycho Lo subsisL wiLhouL rcducing Lhcm Lo Lhc
lcvcl o any oLhcr LcxL. InsLcad o cradicaLing LhaL which is di-
crcnL abouL Lhc inLcnsiLy o Lhc accLivc componcnL inhcrcnL
Lo Lhcsc LcxLs, criLical languagc would havc Lo a rm accL as a
mcans o arLiculaLing Lhc ncw modcs o cxisLcncc invcnLcd in
and by Lhcsc arLisLic pracLiccs.
27
Pcrhaps Lhc lcgcndary Amcri-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 8
can Ncw Wavc band Talking Hcads was righL in provoking us Lo
sLop making scnsc. Tc problcmaLic o violcncc simply cannoL
bc rcsolvcd by ascribing mcaning Lo somcLhing LhaL, as Ncalon
argucs vis--vis Lhc unspcakablc violcnL horror o AuschwiLz, is
an irrcduciblc cvcnL in LhaL iL cannoL bc rcassuringly rcduccd Lo
a logic LhaL can bc said Lo havc broughL iL abouL (Loub|e Read-
ng ,,,8). Violcncc, in Lhis scnsc, is noL Lo bc undcrsLood or
rcduccd Lo Lhcorics o signicaLion. Dclcuzcs sympLomaLology,
Lhcrcorc, cmcrgcs as a valuablc Lool or analysis bccausc iL pro-
ducLivcly cuLs inLo whaL Brian Massumi asLuLcly locaLcs as Lhc
ccnLral problcm o culLural discoursc Loday, namcly, LhaL Lhcrc is
no culLural-LhcorcLical vocabulary spccic Lo accL (i,).
2S
So, iL is prcciscly Lhc novcls cxccssivc violcncc LhaL ovcr-
whclms, rusLraLcs, annoys, upscLs, and cvcn sickcns, iL is Lhis
ovcrkill LhaL provokcs rcadcrs Lo Lhrow away Lhc book, Lo Lcar
iL aparL, Lo spiL aL iL, and, poLcnLially, Lo Lalk or wriLc abouL iL.
In oLhcr words, i noLhing clsc, Lhc valuc o Lhc book is LhaL iL
orccs iLs audicncc Lo cncounLcr Lhc undcniably visccral rcsponsc
Lhcy havc. Tc novcl soliciLs a purc accLivc rcsponsc rom Lhc
audicncc, cvcn Lhough mosL criLics who wroLc abouL iL havc bccn
unwillingpcrhaps incapablco acknowlcdging Lhis, Lhus
ironically cmulaLing all Lhosc characLcrs populaLing Amercan
Psycho who havc provcn Lo bc incapablc o sccing LhaL Lhcir boy
ncxL door, as BaLcmans ancc ondly calls him, is also Lhc killcr
rom hcll. ALcr all, how docs onc wriLc abouL accLasigniying
orccsi onc has bccn Lraincd Lo rcspond Lo liLcraLurc (and lm)
on Lhc lcvcl o rcprcscnLaLion, mcaning, and LruLh` How docs onc
rcspond accLivclyor, bcLLcr, how docs onc hccd oncs accLivc
rcsponsc wiLhouL immcdiaLcly LcrriLorializing iL onLo a dicrcnL
lcvclwhcn onc o Lhc mosL insisLcnL scLs o ordcr-words has
commandcd us Lo carc abouL whcLhcr or noL a work o arL ac-
complishcs goals LhaL arc valucd by criLics or socicLy, whaLcvcr
LhaL may cnLail`
BuL I immcdiaLcly nccd Lo qualiy Lhc prcccding paragraphs
Lopical claim. For iL is noL so much Lhc cxccssivc violcncc o Fl-
liss Amercan Psycho LhaL crcaLcs iLs accL ovcrload, insLcad, Lhc
1udgment !s Not an Fxt j
novcl achicvcs Lhis inLcnsc rcsponsc Lhrough a carcul modula-
Lion o slowncss and spccd (inLcnsiLics), o cndlcss rcpcLiLion o
iLcms and rcpcLiLivc sccncs o gorc.
20
BoLh rcpcLiLions, howcvcr,
dcploy Lhc samc clinical aLncss o Lonc, which suggcsLs noL only
Lhcir accLivc a niLics buL also LhaL accL is noL so much a rcsulL
o dcpLh (Lhc oLcn-cvokcd narraLivc voicc) buL o spccd dicr-
cnLials, o Lhc accumulaLing proccsscs o narraLivc sLrucLurcs,
iLincraLions o cvcnLs, and cncounLcrs wiLh Lhc ow o Lhc nar-
raLivc aL largc. Morning, Harrys, PasLcls, Tunncl, O cc,
HcalLh Club, DaLc, Dry Clcancrs, Harrys, Dcck Chairs,
Busincss MccLing, Vidco SLorc, Facial, DaLc, Tucsday
on Lhc vcry suracc lcvcl o Lhc chapLcrs LiLlcs, boLh Lhc mundanc
rcpcLiLivcncss and Lhc singulariLy o Lhc novcls cvcnLs arc markcd
Lo Lhc cccL LhaL Lhc rcading o Lhc book movcs aL Limcs painully
slowly. Slowncss is Lhc novcls dominanL modc o spccd. Consc-
qucnLly, Lhc rcading proccss is violcnLly inLcrrupLcddcspiLc Lhc
occasional hinL aL BaLcmans prcvious ouLbursLs o violcncc
whcn Tucsday arrivcs, almosL ouL o nowhcrc, and Lhc rcadcr is
conronLcd wiLh Lhc rsL sccnc o graphic violcncc. Sncakcd inLo
Lhis sLrucLurc is a ccrLain amounL o humor, o comcdic momcnLs
LhaL provokc laughLcrncrvous laughLcr LhaL only acccnLuaLcs
Lhc cccLs Lhc clinically prccisc dcscripLions o LorLurc havc on
Lhc rcadcr, dcscripLions LhaL sound as aL or void o voicc as
Lhc rcsL o Lhc novcl, Lhus oncc again rcpcaLing or scrializing
spccic cccLs raLhcr Lhan saLirically commcnLing upon Lhc vio-
lcncc as such. Nowhcrc, I Lhink, cmcrgcs Lhc qucsLion o LruLh,
o whcLhcr Lhc cighLics wcrc rcally likc Lhis, or whcLhcr BaLcman
acLually commiLs or mcrcly imagincs his Lcrriying dccds. Or, aL
lcasL onc docs hardly worry abouL Lhcsc qucsLionsprcciscly bc-
causc whaL onc has Lo dcal wiLh rsL and orcmosL is Lhc dclirium-
inducing accLivc componcnL o Lhc book, wiLh Lhc acL LhaL Lhc
spccd o Lhc book congurcs Lhc rcadcrs body as assailcd, as aL-
Lackcd by an onslaughL o dicrcnL orms o violcncc. Rcadcrs arc
morc likcly Lo dcal wiLh gcLLing sick o Lhc bookliLcrallyLhan
wiLh conLcmplaLing Lhc rcprcscnLaLional qualiLy o Lhc novcl.
30
WhaL I am dcscribing hcrc should also bc rcad as onc way o
1udgment !s Not an Fxt o
conLcsLing onc o Lhc mosL widcsprcad clichcs abouL so-callcd
posLmodcrnismLo wiL, LhaL iLs arLisLic cxprcssions arc sup-
poscd Lo bc accLlcss, a criLical noLion LhaL was probably rsL
arLiculaLcd by Frcdric 1amcson in his landmark sLudy in which
hc discusscs Lhc waning o accL in posLmodcrn culLurc (:o). IL
sccms Lo mc, howcvcr, LhaL Lhc cxLrcmcly violcnL ycL aLly nar-
raLcd cLion o wriLcrs such as Dcnnis Coopcr or Brian Fvcnson,
Lo namc buL Lwo addiLional cxamplcs, is anyLhing buL accLlcss.
Or raLhcr, such works can bc dccmcd wiLhouL accL only i wc
rcducLivcly conccivc o accL in Lcrms o a subjccLs cmoLions and
cclings. InsLcad, whaL appcars Lo bc wiLhouL accLduc Lo Lhc
narraLivc voiccs sccmingly monoLonous aLncss or Lhc ovcrall
abscncc o psychological dcpLhinsLanLiaLcs noLhing buL a di-
crcnL dcgrcc o accLivc inLcnsiLy. Tcsc cLions havc Lhcir own
accLivc orcconc LhaL is noL dcncd by any lack in rclaLion
Lo Lhc humanisL privilcging o psychological dcpLh. By dcscribing
cLions such as Dcnnis Coopcrs Frsk (:jj:) or Te S|uts (ioo),
as wcll as Brian Fvcnsons Tc Polygamy o Ianguagc (iooo) or
Te Protherhood oj Mut|aton (ioo), as accLlcss, liLcrary criLi-
cism auLomaLically LcrriLorializcs Lhcsc works onLo Lhc lcvcl o
judgmcnL (sincc gcncrally, a lack o accL qua subjccLivc cmoLing
is dccmcd bad in onc way or anoLhcr) and ncglccLs Lo diagnosc
how Lhc violcncc in Lhcsc LcxLs acLually works.
To rcLurn Lo Lhc cvcnL Amcrican Psycho, iL sccms Lo mc
LhaL whcrcas Flliss novcl soliciLs iLs rcadcrs Lo diagnosc whaL
Lhc LcxLual violcncc docs and how iL works, Lhc opposiLc occurs
in Harrons adapLaLion. Arguably, Lhc minuLcs lcading up Lo Lhc
rsL sccnc o cxpliciL violcnccBaLcmans killing o a homclcss
black man and his dogarc ablc Lo crcaLc cccLs similar Lo Lhc
book. Harron sLrings LogcLhcr a scrics o comcdic cvcnLs: scrious
looking waiLcrs cnumcraLing dinncr mcnus, BaLcman parLying
drcsscd in powcr suiLs, BaLcmans obscssivc clcansing rouLinc,
his vapid o cc rouLinc, his shallow inLcracLion wiLh his ancc,
his lovc or cash machincs, his Lroublcs wiLh Lhc suspicious dry
clcancr, his inabiliLy Lo gcL a Lablc aL Dorsia, his rcsLauranL du
jour, his crowd-plcasing swcaLing ovcr oLhcr yuppics bcLLcr look-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt :
ing busincss cards, and his lccLurc on Lhc sLaLc o Lhc naLion, con-
sisLing o a sccmingly comprchcnsivc sLring o caLch phrascs uscd
by poliLicians on Lhc campaign Lrail. All o Lhis is quiLc unny.
Tcn, almosL ouL o nowhcrc, BaLcman passcs a homclcss pcrson.
Hc sLops, cynically Lcascs him wiLh a LwcnLy-dollar bill, and Lhcn
sLabs him Lo dcaLh. AL Lhis momcnL, mosL o Lhc audicncc wiLh
whom I waLchcd Lhc lm wcnL audibly quicL, scnsing LhaL Lhcy
had bccn Lrickcd by Lhc prcccding rcpcLiLion o agrccablc Lhough
mundanc comcdy. Tc violcncc on Lhc scrccn sccmcd now Lo a-
ccL our rcsponsc noL only Lo LhaL sccnc buL also Lo Lhc humorous
momcnLs bcorc. Pcrhaps wc clL bcLraycd by Lhc narraLivc sLraL-
cgy, pcrhaps noL, buL iL is clcar LhaL Lhc lm managcs Lo soliciL a
raLhcr visccral rcsponsc aL Lhis sLagc.
Howcvcr, whcrcas Lhis scqucncc o sccncs works wcll, Lhc rcsL
o Lhc lm docs noLj Lhc idca was Lo Lap inLo Lhc accLivc orcc
o Flliss novcl. Harrons sLraLcgy was Lo condcnsc Lhc rcpcLiLion
o Lhc book so LhaL shc could gcL iL ouL o Lhc way, noL having hcr
narraLivc wcighcd down by Lhc rcpcLiLion o Lhc novcl. As Harron
Lcllingly commcnLs on hcr Lcchnical problcms Lo rcndcr Lhc book
cincmaLically, I had Lo kind o givc iL morc Lhc aadc o a ploL
(Harron, Fllis, and Balc). Hcncc, in Lhc rsL LwcnLy minuLcs wc
csscnLially gcL Lhc book in a nuLshcll. Harron speeds up precse|y
that whch s a|| about s|owness n the book in ordcr Lo gcL on wiLh
hcr goal o crcaLing a swiLly moving saLirc. Tis ronLloading o
Lhc rcpcLiLion prcvcnLs hcr rom cvcr rcLuning Lo iL, Lhus ncvcr
slowing down Lhc narraLivc so LhaL no accLs can cmcrgc oLhcr
Lhan Lhosc soliciLcd by sLandard Hollywood narraLivcs in which
chascs and chcap Lhrills arc Lhc highpoinLs o accLivc produc-
Lion. FurLhcr, bccausc Harron gcLs rid o any modulaLion o inLcn-
siLics, Lhc violcnL sccncs in Lhc lm bccomc prcdicLablc, as Lhcy
arc ncvcr again scL up as a surprisc momcnL. Now wc jusL movc
rom onc sccnc o violcncc Lo Lhc ncxL, cvcnly paccd, whcLhcr iL
is a sccnc mcrcly suggcsLcd or acLually shown.
Finally, Lhc lm Lamcs Lhc accLivc orcc o violcncc Lhrough a
Lwoold Lrick. FirsL, iL Lurns Lhc violcncc inLo slapsLick. (BaLcman,
nakcd, chasing a prosLiLuLc wiLh a running chainsaw Lhrough Lhc
1udgment !s Not an Fxt i
sLaircasc o his Uppcr FasL Sidc aparLmcnL homc musL consLiLuLc
onc o Lhc wcirdcsL imagcs o Lhc lm. YcL, onc scnscs LhaL Lhis
sccncs ovcr-Lhc-Lopncss mighL acLually providc a kcy Lo a dicr-
cnL cincmaLic rcsponsc Lo Lhc novcl. Pcrhaps Lhc lm is noL slap-
sLick cnough.) And sccond, Lhc lm rcndcrs idcnLical Lhc novcls
radically dicrcnL accLivc scrics o music criLicism and violcncc.
Tc book carcully juxLaposcs Lhc music criLicism chapLcrs noL
only Lo Lhc violcnL chapLcrs buL Lo all oLhcr cvcnLs in Lhc book,
Lhus scvcring Lhc music chapLcrs rom Lhc ploL, casLing Lhcm as
purc inLcrrupLion, as narraLivc brcakdowns, as a orm o narra-
Livc violcncc, dramaLizing LhaL narraLion works by brcakdowns
by violcncc. By conLrasL, Lhc lm has BaLcman rhapsodizc abouL
Ccncsis, WhiLncy HousLon, and Hucy Icwis and Lhc Ncws as a
prcludc Loindccd almosL simulLancous wiLhhis LorLuring o
his vicLims, Lhus cradicaLing prcciscly LhaL which givcs risc Lo Lhc
spccic accLivc cncounLcrs provokcd by Lhc rcading o Lhc novcl:
Do wc ccl morc sickcncd by BaLcmans asscssmcnL o Lhc music
or by his ouLragcously violcnL LorLurc dcviccs` And whaL docs Lhc
answcr Lo Lhis qucsLion say abouL Lhc rcadcr` Tc lms sLraLcgy
o having Balc rcad parLs o Lhc music chapLcrs as arcical lcad-ins
Lo Lhc cnsuing violcnccabsurdly suggcsLing LhaL Lhc badncss
o Lhc music almosL incviLably lcads Lo violcncc, which is akin Lo
claiming LhaL rcading Amercan Psycho lcads Lo commiLLing ho-
micidcnoL only Lurns dicrcnL scrics o cvcnLs LhaL inLcrsccL
wiLh cach oLhcr inLo onc and Lhc samc momcnL buL iL also rcsulLs
in Lhc audicncc mosLly laughing aL Lhc combinaLion o ludicrous
music criLicism and slapsLick violcncc. (Balcs pcrorming a unny
dancc whilc pronouncing Lhc grcaLncss o Hucy Icwiss Hip Lo
Bc Squarc mcrcly acccnLuaLcs Lhc absurdiLy o Lhc sccnc.) Tc
acL LhaL Harron scLs all killings o prosLiLuLcs and acquainLanccs
Lo BaLcmans music lccLurcs mcrcly hcighLcns Lhc comcdy, Lhus
Lurning Lhc poLcnLial or rcvolLing, inLcnsivcly scnscd accLs inLo
onc o comorLing humor.
Wc should noLc LhaL Lhc book docs noL rcally clariy who is
spcaking in Lhc music chapLcrs. AlLhough wc (pcrhaps corrccLly)
assumc LhaL iL is BaLcman, Lhc maLLcr rcmains somcwhaL ambig-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
uous. In any casc, iL is unclcar aL whaL momcnL, in whaL orm, and
Lo whom Lhc music criLicism is narraLcd. Tc lm, on Lhc oLhcr
hand, cradicaLcs Lhc narraLivc brcakdown by unambiguously
cquaLing Lhc narraLivc voicc wiLh BaLcman. Whcrcas Lhc book
congurcs Lhc qucsLion o brcakdownviolcnccas a qucsLion
o (dis)cmbodicd voicc, Lhc lm posiLs voicc, Lhc saLirisLs poinL
o vicw, as an cxiL, an cscapc rouLc lcading away rom Lhc allcg-
cdly immoral Loward a moral placc o judgmcnL. Flliss novcl con-
gurcs poinL o vicws as an cccL o narraLivc violcncc, Lhc lm
prcsupposcs Lhc unLarnishcd cxisLcncc o onc poinL o vicw.
3l
Tc lm is cvcnly paccd, wiLh vcry cw up and downs. Indccd,
iL is oddly boring. BuL Lhis borcdom is o a dicrcnL knd Lhan Lhc
onc produccd by Flliss novcl. Whcrcas Lhc laLLcr is upscLLing prc-
ciscly bccausc wc havc no capaciLy Lo rcspond Lo iL in any mcan-
ingul or comorLing waybccausc Fllis insisLs LhaL borcdom
works as borcdom only whcn disrupLcd by violcncc as violcncc,
and vicc vcrsa, LhaL is, as Lwo scrics LhaL cxisL parallcl Lo, and
ycL accL, cach oLhcr as wcllLhc ormcr is rcassuring bccausc
wc arc lcd Lo a rm Lhc saLirical componcnL (and Lhc posiLion o
judgmcnL such a narraLivc modc aords us). UlLimaLcly, Lhcn, wc
can cnjoy Lhc lm or iLs humor, iLs ridiculing o iLs characLcrs
and Lhcir world, and all Lhc whilc rcmain convinccd LhaL wc arc
living in a bcLLcr world, LhaL wc havc progrcsscd, and LhaL wc arc
nciLhcr Lhc pcrpcLraLors nor Lhc vicLims o violcncc in any orm.
Hcncc, onc mighL say LhaL Lhc movic is noL boring cnough. For i
iL had bccn boring in Lhc scnsc o Lhc novcl, wc would bc orccd
Lo comc Lo Lcrms wiLh Lhc accLs crcaLcd by Lhis borcdomwiLh
Lhc poLcnLial Lo acc violcncc qua violcncc raLhcr Lhan as a mc-
diaLcd orm o saLirical criLiqucrcgardlcss o whcLhcr or noL
Lhc mcdium o lm posscsscs a morc immcdiaLc accLivc qualiLy
Lhan liLcraLurc.
BuL LhaL Lhc lm is pcrhaps noL boring cnough is noL so much
a lack inhcrcnL Lo Lhc lm or an cxprcssion o a dcsirc or Lhc lm
Lo rcprcscnL morc accuraLcly. (AccL is a maLLcr o doing, noL
signicaLion.) RaLhcr, Lhc diminishcd lcvcl o borcdom prcscnL in
Lhc lm consLiLuLcs Harrons sympLomaLic cincmaLic rcsponsc Lo
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
Lhc criLical discoursc on Amercan Psycho, or onc o Lhc Lwo main
complainLs againsL Lhc novcl was prcciscly LhaL iL was Loo bor-
ing and Lhus could noL susLain any rcadcrly inLcrcsL. (IL was, o
coursc, also Lhc pcrccpLion LhaL Lhc novcls borcdom acccnLuaLcs
Lhc novcls violcncc LhaL, in Lurn, ormcd Lhc basis or Lhc mosL
violcnL rcacLions Lo Flliss LcxL.) Tc agrccablc pacc o Lhc lm
caLcrs Lo our cxisLing capaciLy Lo rcad or waLchrcacL Loa LcxL.
IL urLhcrs LhaL which wc arc Lraincd in LhroughouL high school
and collcgc, Lhrough lm (and liLcrary) criLicism, acadcmic and
popular alikc, as wcll as Lhrough an cndlcss cxposurc Lo Lhc ma-
joriLy o Hollywood narraLivcs LhaL Lhrivc on aL Limcs ouLragcous
buL mosLly Lamc, clichc-riddcn soliciLaLions o accLivc vicwcr
rcsponscs. TaL is, in such narraLivcs accL iLscl Lurns inLo a cli-
chc aL Lhc vcry momcnL iL is LcrriLorializcd onLo mcrcly visccral,
physical cmoLions. Tis is noL Lo dcny LhaL such cmoLions arc im-
porLanL (scc Shaviro or Sobchack or cxccllcnL argumcnLs in Lhis
dirccLion), buL i accL is congurcd as noLhing buL cmoLion, or is
madc Lo do noLhing buL appcal Lo cmoLions, Lhcn Lhc (posiLion o
Lhc) subjccL iLscl is ncvcr puL aL sLakc, Lhus inviLing him or hcr Lo
acLivaLc judgmcnL as Lhc primary modc o rcsponsc.
In Lhc proccss o humanizing Flliss work along Lhc lincs con-
gurcd by Lhc criLical languagc uscd in rcsponsc Lo his novcl
LhaL is, by crcaLing a way ouL LhaL dcpcnds on Lhc individual, ully
psychologizcd, LruLhul human agcnLcvcryLhing LhaL Lhc novcl
is almosL Loo scl-cvidcnLly abouL is climinaLcd: accLivc inLcn-
siLy. In Lhc novcl, accL is congurcd and produccd by Lhc LcxLs
simulLancous poLcnLial or boring and horriying iLs rcadcrs, a
poLcnLial LhaL Lhc novcl achicvcs prcciscly bccausc iL provcs LhaL
horror and borcdom arc not conLradicLory Lcrms buL insLcad cxisL
as accLs ncxL Lo cach oLhcr on Lhc samc planc o immancncc,
muLually producing and Lhus modiying cach oLhcr. Borcdom
violaLcs cxpccLaLions, sLandards, bodics, and violcncc, in Lurn, is
boring. (NoLc LhaL Lhc clinical rcndcring o iL in Amercan Psycho
mcrcly rcpcaLs Lhc samc violcnL sccnc wiLh Lhc similarly rcpcaLcd
addiLion o somc cxLra spicc. Harronmaybc ouL o rccogniLion
o Lhc violcnL sccncs inhcrcnL borcdom LhaL noncLhclcss so orcc-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt
ully accL rcadcrsrcsisLs Lhis narraLivc sLraLcgy by slapsLick-
ing all buL Lhc rsL violcnL sccnc.) Tc dicrcnccs bcLwccn Lhcsc
Lwo orms o violcncc can only bc dcLcrmincd in Lhcir cccLs,
noL in Lhcir inLrinsic mcaningulncss. Tc simulLanciLy, cvcn in-
disccrnibiliLy, o shock and borcdom so obviously missing rom
Harrons rcsponsc Lo Flliss LcxL, accLs our capaciLy Lo rcspond.
As Siannc Ngai wriLcs in a dicrcnL conLcxL, Lhc suddcn cxciLa-
Lion o shock, and Lhc dcscnsiLizing wc associaLc wiLh borcdom,
Lhough diamcLrically opposcd and sccmingly muLually cxclusivc,
arc boLh rcsponscs LhaL conronL us wiLh Lhc limiLaLions o our
capaciLy or rcsponding in gcncral (:o).
Harrons rcprcscnLaLional rcading o Flliss novcl Lurns a LcxL
LhaL so obviously has accLcd rcadcrs on a visccral lcvcl Lhrough
iLs alLcrnaLing spccdsLhc boring slowncss o Lhc cndlcss lisLs
and so on and Lhc asL-paccd acLion o Lhc oLcn surprising
violcnccinLo a LcxL LhaL wanLs iLs audicncc Lo havc a mosLly
ccrcbral rcsponsc LhaL is cncouragcd prcciscly by a raLhcr cvcn-
kcclcd, prcdicLablc narraLivc pacc LhaL has rid iLscl o Lhc novcls
dicrcnLiaLing cnginc: rcpcLiLion and violcncc. Iikc Lhc criLical
rcccpLion LhaL prcccdcd iL, Lhc lm ocuscs on whaL Lhc book al-
lcgcdly mcansa criLiquc o Lhc capiLalisL cxccsscs o Lhc cighL-
icsand Lhus somchow ncvcr gcLs around Lo arLiculaLc whaL Lhc
book docs, namcly, LhaL iL produccs rcadcrs apparcnLly incapablc
o rcsponding Lo Lhc LcxLs accLivc orcc in any way oLhcr Lhan
judging iL.
To puL Lhc lasL poinL in NicLzschcan Lcrms, Lhc novcl produccs
unLimcly rcadcrs, rcadcrs who arc ycL Lo comc, who arc o Lhc
uLurc LhaL musL bc produccd, rcadcrs who rsL havc Lo dcvclop
Lhc capaciLy Lo bc accLcd wiLhouL dcsiring Lo Lurn Lhcir acc-
Livc rcsponsc immcdiaLcly inLo a qucsLion o logos, raLionaliLy,
cogniLion, and rcprcscnLaLion.
32
Tc lm cxplains, dclimiLs, and
jusLics Lo Lhc audicncc Lhc cw momcnLs iL aords Lhcm o Lruly
accLivc cncounLcrs wiLh Lhc imagcs in ronL o Lhcm. IL cocrccs
Lhcm Lo rcspond judgmcnLally raLhcr Lhan accLivcly, or, in any
casc, privilcgcs judgmcnL as a parLicular modulaLion o accL.
Harrons lm, Lhus, is sympLomaLic o Lhc common criLical prac-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 6
Licc Lo pass judgmcnL bascd on Lhc rcprcscnLaLional qualiLy o
imagcs and words. IL soliciLs rcsponscs LhaL rcproducc Lhc vcry
rcgimc o pcdagogical disciplinc LhaL has insLillcd in audicnccs
Lhc Lcndcncy Lo rcad and vicw LcxLs rcprcscnLaLionally. Consc-
qucnLly, Lhc lm, as a conLinuaLionindccd, an insLanLiaLion
o Lhc criLical discoursc on Flliss novcl, cradicaLcs Lhosc orccs
o Lhc novcl LhaL havc Lhc capaciLy or producing dicrcncc, LhaL
which is unknown. BuL, as Dclcuzc argucs abouL Lhc possibiliLy
o and or wriLing, How clsc can onc wriLc buL o Lhosc Lhings
which onc docsnL know, or knows badly` IL is prcciscly Lhcrc LhaL
wc imaginc having somcLhing Lo say. Wc wriLc only aL Lhc ron-
Licrs o our knowlcdgc, aL Lhc bordcr which scparaLcs our knowl-
cdgc rom our ignorancc and Lransorms Lhc onc inLo Lhc oLhcr
(Lerence and Repetton xxi).
IL sccms Lo mc LhaL violcncc is prcciscly such a ronLicr. Al-
Lhough wc claim LhaL wc know violcncc whcn wc scc or cxpcri-
cncc iL, violcncc has rcmaincd onc o Lhc grcaL incomprchcnsiblc
cvcnLs o liccvcn morc so in lighL o Lhc acL LhaL counLlcss
cxplanaLory apparaLuscs havc bccn mobilizcd Lo cxplain iLs
causcs.
33
Hcncc, pace jusL abouL all rcsponscs Lo Flliss novcl, in-
cluding Harrons, Amercan Psychos valuc appcars Lo bc prcciscly
in prcscnLing us wiLh a pracLicc o wriLing aL Lhis ronLicr, in cx-
pcrimcnLing wiLh LhaL which is unknown Lo us. (And Lhis valuc
mighL vcry wcll noL havc cmcrgcd as orccully had iL noL bccn
or Harrons lm and Lhc dicrcnccs iL sympLomaLically indcxcs.)
In rcusing Lo providc a prcmadc cxplanaLion, Lhc novcl invcnLs a
ncw, albciL horriying, knowlcdgc, onc LhaL docs noL makc scnsc
o Lhc ronLicr buL inhabiLs iL wiLhouL rcducing iL Lo somcLhing
oLhcr Lhan whaL iL is: Lhc ulLimaLc oLhcr. Rcsponding Lo Lhc oLhcr
(violcncc) as oLhcr, as LhaL which docs noL signiy anyLhing, as
LhaL which can bc cncounLcrcd mcrcly Lhrough iLs orccs LhaL pro-
ducc spccic accLivc cccLs, howcvcr, would rcquirc criLicism
Lo hccd Dclcuzcs cncouragcmcnL Lo dccr judgmcnL, Lo do away
wiLh iL: AccL as immancnL cvaluaLion, insLcad o judgmcnL as
LransccndcnL valuc: I lovc or I haLc insLcad o I judgc (Cnema
i ::).
1udgment !s Not an Fxt ,
Representation(al) Costs
SympLomaLologically comparing Lhc novcl, iLs criLical rcccpLion,
and Lhc lm as parL o Lhc laLLcr is noL a maLLcr o who is righL
or wrong, o whosc rcading is bcLLcr or worsc. InsLcad, iL cmpha-
sizcs LhaL Harrons cincmaLic rcsponsc Lo Flliss novcl is symp-
LomaLic o Lhc criLical discoursc Amercan Psycho has soliciLcd and
arLiculaLcs whaL iL cosLs criLical discourscincluding Lhc lm
Lo rcndcr Lhc book as a (succcssul) saLirical rcprcscnLaLion o Lhc
:j8os. Again, whaL do wc know oncc wc havc dccidcd` NoL much
oLhcr Lhan LhaL wc havc ound LradiLional, long-csLablishcd criLi-
cal paLLcrnsdarc I say clichcsLhaL allow us ciLhcr Lo rcscuc a
sccmingly unrcdccmablc LcxL or progrcssivc poliLical purposcs
(look, man, Lhc cighLics wcrc rcally bad!) or, using a clichc o
my own, Lo dump iL or good inLo Lhc dusL bin o liLcrary his-
Lory whcrc iL should roL away wiLh similar immoral (conscrva-
Livc or noL) Lrash. In oLhcr words, whaL is nally problcmaLic wiLh
Lhc criLical violcnccincluding Lhc lmsdonc Lo BrcL FasLon
Flliss novcl is not Lhc criLical violcncc cxcrLcd (as i iL could bc
oLhcrwisc) buL whaL Lhis spccic orm o violcncc does, namcly,
LhaL Lhis violcncc is ulLimaLcly rcassuring and comorLing in LhaL
iL makcs Amercan Psychos violcncc rccognizablc in a amiliar
criLical and cLhical rcgisLcr. IL would bc poinLlcss Lo dcridc Lhis as
a bad Lhing. RaLhcr, Lhis parLicular criLical violcncc sympLom-
aLically marks an inLcrcsLing domcsLicaLing rcsponsc Lo violcncc,
onc LhaL indicaLcs LhaL rcgardlcss o Lhc supposcd prolicraLion
and amplicaLion o violcnL imagcs in conLcmporary Amcrican
culLurc iL is noL so much violcncc as such buL Lhc sLaLc o noL
knowing whaL violcncc is LhaL consLiLuLcs the cxpcricncc o hor-
ror.
34
And, as iL Lurns ouL, accLscLs o orccs LhaL criLical lan-
guagc has noL ycL bccn ablc Lo cncounLcr on Lhcir own Lcrms
wiLhouL rcducing Lhcm Lo Lhc morc amiliar discoursc o rcp-
rcscnLaLion and judgmcnLis Lhc propcr namc or LhaL which
largcly rcmains unknown. WhaL Lhc criLical rcsponscs Lo Amer-
can Psycho sympLomaLically cosL us, Lhcn, is our capaciLy Lo cx-
1udgment !s Not an Fxt 8
pcrimcnL wiLh, and arLiculaLc somcLhing abouL, accL in rcgard
Lo a LcxL so clcarly producLivc o accLivc rcsponscs.
35
CriLicism
will conLinuc Lo OLhcr Lhc capaciLy and knowlcdgc providcd by,
and immancnL Lo, accL as long as iL pcrsisLs Lo rcly almosL cxclu-
sivcly on an FnlighLcnmcnL discoursc o raLionaliLy, undcrsLand-
ing, logos, and judgmcnL (Lhc possibiliLy o which dcpcnding on
a clcar-cuL disLincLion bcLwccn a subjccLs prccxisLing poinL o
vicw and Lhc pcrccivcd objccL). By pcrpcLuaLing Lhc ordcr-word
rcprcscnLaLion (a syndromc), criLicism conLinucs Lo ignorc LhaL
rcprcscnLaLions arc madc up o orccs (sympLoms), jusL as sub-
jccLs arc consLiLuLcd by Lhcir poinL o vicws raLhcr Lhan Lhc oLhcr
way around. (NoL coincidcnLally, Lhc novcl rclcnLlcssly shows us
LhaL idcnLiLy is noLhing buL a scrics o masks, which arc noL dc-
ncd by originary Iack buL by Lhcir spccic, nonlacking, eectve
rcaliLy. In conLrasL, Lhc lm insisLs LhaL undcrncaLh Lhc [bcauLy]
mask wc scc BaLcman pccl o in ronL o his baLhroom mirror
Lhcrc cxisLs a Lruc, sLablc idcnLiLycvcn i Lhis idcnLiLy is dc-
scribcd as noLhingncss, as BaLcmans rccogniLion LhaL Tcrc is
no rcal mc. [. . .] I simply am noL Lhcrc.) I wanL Lo suggcsL LhaL
culLural criLicism musL hccd Lhcsc suracc orccs i iL wanLs Lo
cxplain anyLhing abouL languagc or imagcs. Accordingly, any po-
liLical projccL ormulaLcd in rcsponsc Lo occurrcnccs o violcncc
in lm or liLcraLurc LhaL mighL bc inLcrcsLcd in Lhc qucsLion o
rcsisLancc or subvcrsion is, I Lhink, Lrappcd as soon as iL ocuscs
on Lhc qucsLion o rcprcscnLaLion and judgmcnL. IL has no Lools
Lo accounL or Lhc emergence o rcprcscnLaLions and is Lhus bound
Lo ignorc LhaL rcprcscnLaLions arc simply noL abouL rcprcscnLa-
Lions buL always abouL orccsabouL doing, noL mcaning. 1udg-
mcnLa criLical pracLicc immancnL Lo Lhc conccpL o rcprcscnLa-
Lion in LhaL Lhc laLLcr conccivcs o signs as rcproducLivc and Lhus
cncouragcs a judgmcnL o Lhcm in Lcrms o Lhcir morc or lcss ac-
curaLc rcscmblancc Lo rcaliLy and LruLh (Lhc Lwin pillars or our
conccpLion o moraliLy)Lurns ouL Lo bc parL o Lhc problcm, not
Lhc soluLion, as I will arguc in morc dcLail in chapLcr .
CriLically insisLing on Lhc supcrioriLy o Lhc lm cosLs us a loL,
namcly, a scrious aLLcmpL Lo provokc qucsLions abouL accL, Lo
1udgment !s Not an Fxt j
Lhink abouL whaL accL can Lcll us abouL arL, Lo pondcr whaL hap-
pcns Lo Lhc allcgcd rariLy o rcsisLancc oncc wc givc accL a biL
morc crcdiL. To paraphrasc Dclcuzc, oncc wc ocus on accL, Lhc
qucsLion is no morc how wc can rcsisL (answcr: by criLiquc) buL
how wc can Lap inLo Lhc accLivc orccslincs o ighLLhaL
consLiLuLc Lhc social.
36
Tc social is always alrcady in ighL, ac-
cording Lo Dclcuzc and CuaLLari, i ccing consLiLuLcs an imma-
ncnL componcnL o Lhc social, Lhcn accL docs as wcll, as ccing
is a orm o accL. FlighL, Lhcn, is a qucsLion o inLcnsiLics or a-
ccLs: How asL or slow is Lhis ccing` In whaL dirccLion and wiLh
whaL orcc docs iL procccd` And wiLh whaL accclcraLion and prcs-
surc docs iL movc` Hcncc, Lhc poliLical and pcdagogical qucsLion
Lo askonc LhaL, I Lhink, Flliss novcl provokcs buL pcrhaps could
bc acLualizcd only Lhrough Harrons cincmaLic rcsponscis how
wc can bccomc capablc o bccoming-accLcd by orccs wiLhouL
immcdiaLcly Lurning Lhcir accL inLo a criLical discoursc o logos.
Masochism and iLs cconomy o borcdom and conLracLual violcncc
mighL havc Lo say somc inLcrcsLing Lhings in rcsponsc, as I sug-
gcsLcd in chapLcr :. In Lcrms o cincma, wc mighL wanL Lo Lhink
abouL how lmas onc o Lhc morc privilcgcd accL producing
machincs Lhanks Lo Lhc visccrally immcdiaLc qualiLy o visual-
iLycould Lcach us how Lo rcspond on Lhc lcvcl o accL Lo a LcxL
such as Amercan Psycho.
37
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6o
BuL pcrhaps Lhc prcccding chapLcr has movcd Loo quickly. In
claiming LhaL Lhc pracLicc o conLcmporary criLicism conLinually
cxprcsscs iLs dcsirc Lo judgc, I mighL havc givcn Lhc imprcssion
LhaL all o conLcmporary criLicism mcrcly consisLs o an cxLcnsion
o MaLLhcw Arnold, LhaL wcll-known gurc o VicLorianism whosc
criLical projccL is, righLly or wrongly, oLcn undcrsLood Lo bc syn-
onymous wiLh cxcrcising valuc judgmcnLs. Wcll-known rccrcncc
books such as C. Hugh Holman and William Harmons A Handbook
to Lterature dcscribc Arnolds projccL as sccking Lo judgc liLcraLurc
by high sLandards (::,), a scnLimcnL sccondcd by Lhc Norton An-
tho|ogys inLroducLion Lo Arnold (culLurc rcprcscnLs or Arnold Lhc
mosL cccLivc way o curing Lhc ills o a sick socicLy [:8]), mani-
csLing Lhc rcccpLion and subscqucnL canonizaLion o his LhoughL
as a moral, judgmcnLal cndcavor. AlLhough Lhc casc may bc morc
complicaLcd Lhan Lhc cnLrics on Arnold makc iL ouL Lo bc, his own
words lcnd much supporL Lo Lhc idca LhaL liLcrary or, morc gcncr-
ally, culLural criLicism oughL Lo conLribuLc Lo Lhc producLion o a
civilizcdrcad, moralsocicLy. So hc Lirclcssly wcnL Lo baL or Lhc
criLical sLudy o Lhc humaniLicscspccially liLcraLurcLo curc cul-
Lurc rom iLs ills. In whaL can bc considcrcd his criLical manicsLo,
Lhc widcly anLhologizcd cssay Tc FuncLion o CriLicism (:86),
or insLancc, Arnold wriLcs o Lhc purposc o criLicism LhaL iLs busi-
ncss is Lo scc Lhc objccL as in iLscl iL rcally is [. . .] Lo makc Lhc
bcsL idcas prcvail (Norton :j:). PosiLioning himscl againsL Lhc
popular bclic in uLiliLarianism, Arnold insLcad advocaLcd a criLi-

A Conceptual Genealogy of Judgment
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6:
cism LhaL rcmains disinLcrcsLcd (:j,), by which hc mcanL an
indcpcndcncc and objccLiviLy o Lhc criLical consciousncss raLhcr
Lhan a lack o inLcrcsL as such. Hcncc, hc wriLcs in onc o his bcsL-
known ormulas, By sLcadily rcusing Lo lcnd iLscl Lo any o Lhosc
ulLcrior, poliLical, pracLical considcraLions abouL idcas [Lhc Lask o
criLicism is] Lo know Lhc bcsL LhaL is known and LhoughL in Lhc
world, and by in iLs Lurn making Lhis known, Lo crcaLc a currcnL o
Lruc and rcsh idcas (:j,).
Arnold ncvcr Lircd o rcpcaLing Lhis ormulahis basic dcni-
Lion o criLical pracLicc. Hc Lhcrcorc Lrics Lo disLinguish Lhis dc-
scripLionor, raLhcr, prcscripLiono criLical pracLicc rom LhaL
o passing mcrc judgmcnL. Arguing LhaL mcrc judgmcnL and
applicaLion o principlcs is, in iLscl, noL Lhc mosL saLisacLory
work Lo Lhc criLic (Norton :oi), hc promoLcs a morc nuanccd
dcploymcnL o criLical judgmcnL: iL is by communicaLing rcsh
knowlcdgc, and lcLLing his own judgmcnL pass along wiLh iLbuL
inscnsibly and in Lhc sccond placc, noL Lhc rsL, as a sorL o com-
panion and cluc, noL as an absLracL lawgivcrLhaL Lhc criLic will
gcncrally do mosL good Lo his rcadcrs (:o:). YcL, dcspiLc his
rcLiccncc Lo comc across as Loo much o a moralizcr, iL is quiLc
clcar LhaL Arnold is indccd invcsLcd in Lhc abiliLy o liLcrary criLi-
cism Lo bcLLcr iLs rcadcrs scnsc o conducL. Arnold bclicvcs LhaL
Lhc cducaLion in propcr conducL makcs Lhc sLudy o liLcraLurc su-
pcrior Lo LhaL o Lhc naLural scicnccs, as hc argucs in IiLcraLurc
and Scicncc, his rcsponsc Lo Tomas Hcnry Huxlcys claim LhaL
Lhc sLudy o liLcrary works docs noL providc su cicnL knowlcdgc
o Lhc world in lighL o Lhc cnormous dcvclopmcnLs in Lhc naLural
scicnccs sincc Lhc mcdicval agcs. Arnold counLcrs Huxlcys claims
by arguing LhaL scicncc produccs knowlcdgc [LhaL is] noL puL or
us inLo rclaLion wiLh our scnsc o conducL (:6)LhaL is, sci-
cnLic knowlcdgc, whilc undcniably imporLanL, has noLhing Lo
say abouL Lhc moral qucsLions accd by individual and socicLy. In
shorL, dcspiLc Arnolds complicaLing his vicw o criLicism as noL
bcing dirccLly a judgmcnLal discoursc, hc ulLimaLcly conccivcs o
his pracLicc as prcciscly LhaLand Lhus conrms his subscqucnL
rcccpLion in Lhc cld o liLcrary sLudics.
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6i
Arc conLcmporary criLics, Lhcn, sLill Arnoldians` Ycs and no.
Clcarly, as illusLraLcd in Lhc prcvious chapLcr, public criLicism
as publishcd in popular culLurc magazincs or daily ncwspapcrs
knows almosL no oLhcr modc o opcraLionparLicularly whcn iL
cncounLcrs Lhc issuc o violcncc. In LhaL scnsc, magazincs such
as Fntertanment week|y, ncwspapcrs such as Lhc New York Tmes,
or 1v shows such as Fbert and Roper at the Moves do noL so much
uncLion as objccLivc disLribuLors o inormaLion Lhan as lLcr
mcchanisms LhaL rcgulaLc whaL Lhcir audicncc will rcad, lisLcn Lo,
and waLch. Tc shccr abundancc o inormaLion is Lhus channclcd
in ccrLain dirccLions. Tc rcqucnL occurrcncc o moral judgmcnL
passcd by Lhcsc siLcs opcraLcs simply as onc o Lhc mosL powcrul
Lools Lo dirccL, indccd producc, culLural knowlcdgc.
CulLural sLudics scholar Iawrcncc Crossbcrg calls Lhis mcch-
anism a rcgulaLory rcgimc (we Cotta Cet Out :6). Tc samc
rcgimc has, o coursc, bccn opcraLing on many oLhcr rcgisLcrs
or a long Limc. For insLancc, Lhc producLion codc o Lhc MoLion
PicLurc Produccrs and DisLribuLors o Amcrica (rrrbt), wriLLcn
in :jo buL noL cccLivcly cnorccd unLil :j (SchaLz i), rcgu-
laLcd Hollywoods lm producLions unLil iL was rcplaccd by Lhc
rrtt raLing sysLcm in :j68, which inLroduccd Lhc lcLLcr raLing
sysLcm LhaL, in modicd orm, is sLill in placc Loday. Iikcwisc,
Lhc 1v raLings mandaLcd by Lhc TclccommunicaLions AcL o :jj6
codiy imagcs or Lhc small scrccn bascd on Lhc samc nichc mar-
kcL principlc LhaL Hollywood uscs. WhaL boLh Lhc wholcsalc
and rcLail principlcs o govcrning imagcs havc in common, how-
cvcr, is Lhc mcdia corporaLions dcsirc Lo kccp Lhc govcrnmcnL
aL arms lcngLh. IcsL Lhc govcrnmcnL cnorcc a law LhaL would
rcgulaLc Lhc cnLirc indusLry rom ouLsidc, mcdia companics havc
always bccn savvy cnough Lo avoid such cxLcrnal rcgulaLions by
couching Lhcir inLcrnal rcgulaLing mcchanisms in moral Lcrms.
For insLancc, Lhc producLion codc was dominaLcd by a rhcLoric Lo
proLccL Lhc uncducaLcd, likcwisc, conLcmporary raLing sysLcms
arc jusLicd as a mcans Lo prcscrvc Lhc innoccncc o childrcn,
who may bc corrupLcd by bcing cxposcd Lo violcnL or scxually
cxpliciL imagcs.
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6
ConvcnicnLly or mcdia corporaLions, Lhis moral jusLicaLion
gocs pcrccLly in hand wiLh a largcr LransormaLion o capiLal-
ism. IL is noL a coincidcncc LhaL Lhc raLing sysLcm cmcrgcd aL Lhc
vcry momcnL Hollywood was in scrious nancial di culLics. Onc
o Lhc soluLions Lo iLs insolvcncy was Lo hccd a lcsson lcarncd
rom Madison Avcnuc Lwo dccadcs carlicr. As Tomas Frank pcr-
suasivcly shows in Te Conquest oj Coo|, corporaLions discovcrcd
nichc markcLing in Lhc :jos. A salcs principlc bascd on a rcLail
raLhcr Lhan wholcsalc approach, nichc markcLing LargcLs only a
small scgmcnL o Lhc populaLion. As a rcsulL o Lhis kcy shiL in
corporaLc salcs sLraLcgy, Amcrican capiLalism bcgan Lo work much
morc c cicnLly: insLcad o worrying abouL producing a producL
LhaL appcals Lo Lhc largcsL common dcnominaLor, corporaLions
can producc many producLs LargcLcd aL spccic, dicrcnL con-
sumcr groups. Fvcn bcLLcr, corporaLions arc now capablc o scll-
ing licsLylcs raLhcr Lhan mcrc producLs, as a rcsulL, many morc
producLs can bc sold, as long as Lhcy arc all markcLcd Lo a ccrLain
nichc group dcsiring Lo parLicipaLc in a ccrLain licsLylc. WiLh Lhis
LransormaLion, Lhc spccd o capiLal bcgan Lo accclcraLc, jusL as iL
did wiLh Lhc invcnLion o Taylorism bcorc and Lhcn again wiLh
Lhc shiL Lo sLock markcLdrivcn capiLalism somc dccadcs laLcr.
In Lhc casc o Hollywood in Lhc posL-:j68 cra, iL bccamc pos-
siblc or sLudios Lo producc lms madc or ccrLain agc groups.
ConscqucnLly, iL managcd Lo rcgain somc o Lhc rclcvancy iL had
losL sincc Lhc cnd o World War II. WiLh imagcs o rcal violcncc
broadcasL livc on 1v (i.c., VicLnam, Lhc assassinaLion o 1FK, or
Lhc murdcr o Icc Harvcy Oswald) and Lhc scxual rcvoluLion in
ull bloom, Lhc raLing sysLcm allowcd Hollywood lms Lo providc
vicwcrs wiLh imagcs LhaL cxprcsscd morc closcly Lhc zciLgcisL
Lhan Lhc ovcrly gcncric imagcs LhaL iL was condcmncd Lo makc
duc Lo Lhc rcgulaLions o Lhc codc (noLwiLhsLanding LhaL Holly-
wood had alrcady bccn pushing hard Lo cxpand Lhc codcs bound-
arics). Tough Hollywood ncvcr rcgaincd Lhc powcr and popular-
iLy iL cnjoycd in iLs goldcn agc, iL bcgan Lo rccovcr nancially in
Lhc carly :j,os and rcmains a morc or lcss poLcnL and hcalLhy
indusLry Lo Lhis day, noLwiLhsLanding Lhc cyclic complainLs hcard
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6
abouL LickcL salcs dcclinc, supposcdly causcd by parasiLical invcn-
Lions such as vns or bvb. Today, o coursc, mcdia corporaLions
makc morc proL rom sccondary and LcrLiary markcL cxploiLa-
Lion Lhan rom LhcaLrical runs o movics, and popular criLicisms
judgmcnLs play an imporLanL rolc in Lhis, noL lcasL bccausc Lhcy
bclong Lo Lhc samc mcdia corporaLions LhaL producc and dis-
LribuLc Lhc vasL majoriLy o Hollywood lms. Tis is also why a
orccul ncgaLivc judgmcnL bascd on cxpliciLly moral grounds is,
salcswisc, noL aL all undcsirablc Lo Lhcsc corporaLions, as Lhc in-
amous cxamplc o Mcl Cibsons Te Passon oj the Chrst (ioo)
illusLraLcd.
BuL whaL abouL acadcmic, or so-callcd scrious, criLicism` In my
vicw, iL can ccrLainly bc said Lo havc movcd away rom Arnolds
Lypc o moral criLicism during Lhc ccnLury ollowing Lhc publica-
Lion o Arnolds criLical salvos. YcL, iL is noL aL all clcar LhaL criLical
disciplincscspccially liLcrary criLicismhavc cscapcd Lhc rcalm
o judgmcnL alLogcLhcr.
l
In acL, onc o Lhc mosL inucnLial Lhc-
orisLs o Lhc :j,os and :j8os, Paul dc Man, bcgins his pcrhaps
bcsL known and mosL inucnLial collccLion o cssays, A||egores oj
Readng, by Lurning immcdiaLcly Lo whaL hc saw as Lhc conLinuing
dcploymcnL o judgmcnL in liLcrary criLicism.
2
Whilc iL may sccm
LhaL Lhc hcyday o Amcrican dcconsLrucLion has long passcdun-
doubLcdly Lo Lhc grcaL rclic o iLs counLlcss opponcnLsLurning
our aLLcnLion Lo dc Mans landmark cssay Scmiology and RhcLo-
ric mighL noncLhclcss allow us Lo complicaLc Lhc qucsLion o judg-
mcnL as iL opcraLcs in liLcrary and lm sLudics. Indccd, dc Man
shows LhaL liLcrary criLicisms supposcd progrcssion away rom
Lhc world o Arnoldian valuc judgmcnLs Lurns ouL Lo bc lcss clcar-
cuL Lhan Lhc disciplinc mighL havc imagincd. Hcncc, my inLcrcsL
in Lurning Lo dc Man lics lcss in his insLiLuLional imporLancc (or
lack Lhcrco Loday) Lhan in his abiliLy Lo cngagc Arnolds impcra-
Livc and Lhc disciplincs rcsponsc on a conccpLual lcvcl. As such, dc
Mans complicaLion o Lhc conccpL o liLcrary judgmcnLand his
subscqucnL insLanLiaLion o a soluLion Lo whaL hc pcrccivcs Lo bc
Lhc problcm o liLcrary criLicismcan bc considcrcd sympLomaLic
o Lhc disciplinc aL largc. Whilc his work shows why Lhc rcalm o
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6
judgmcnL consLiLuLcs a scrious problcm or liLcrary criLicism, dc
Mans soluLion ulLimaLcly rcmains wiLhin Lhc graviLaLional pull
o Lhc vcry problcm hc diagnoscs.
Paul de Man: Debunking Meaning
Dc Man rcsponds in Scmiology and RhcLorica paradigmaLic
cssay illusLraLing Amcrican dcconsLrucLion in a nuLshcllLo
whaL hc pcrccivcs as Lhc disciplinary rcjccLion o ormalisL and
inLrinsic criLicism (Ncw CriLicism) in avor o a criLical pracLicc
LhaL is inLcrcsLcd in Lhc nonvcrbal ouLsidc Lo which languagc
rccrs ().
3
Hc quickly arrivcs aL Lhc hcarL o his conccrn, which
is worLh quoLing aL lcngLh:
WiLh Lhc inLcrnal law and ordcr o liLcraLurc wcll policcd, wc
can now condcnLly dcvoLc oursclvcs Lo Lhc orcign aairs,
Lhc cxLcrnal poliLics o liLcraLurc. NoL only do wc ccl ablc
Lo do so, buL wc owc iL Lo oursclvcs Lo Lakc Lhis sLcp: our
mora| conscence would noL allow us Lo do oLhcrwisc. Bchind
Lhc assurancc LhaL valid inLcrprcLaLion is possiblc, bchind
Lhc rcccnL inLcrcsL in wriLing and rcading as poLcnLially c-
ccLivc public spccch acLs, sLands a highly rcspccLablc mora|
mperatve LhaL sLrivcs Lo rcconcilc Lhc inLcrnal, ormal,
privaLc sLrucLurcs o liLcrary languagc wiLh Lhcir cxLcrnal,
rccrcnLial, and public cccLs. (, cmphascs minc)
In oLhcr words, dc Man bcgins his scminal dcconsLrucLivc cn-
dcavor as a rcsponsc Lo a moral impcraLivc LhaL hc pcrccivcs Lo
bc pcrmcaLing conLcmporary criLical pracLicc, namcly, LhaL criLi-
cism musL hccd Lhc posiLivc and ncgaLivc cccLs liLcraLurc may
or may noL havc on Lhc cxLcrnal world. Tis moral impcraLivc is
simulLancously produccd and pcrpcLuaLcd by a undamcnLal bi-
nary rclaLion LhaL, in by now amiliar dcconsLrucLivc pracLicc, dc
Man scLs ouL Lo undo: Lo wiL, Lhc insidc/ouLsidc opposiLion LhaL
ulLimaLcly allows or judgmcnLs Lo bc madc abouL Lhc LcxL rom
a placc ouLsidc o iL.
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 66
Clcarly, Lhcn, dc Man bcgins his dcconsLrucLivc invcsLigaLion o
criLical pracLicc by claiming LhaL, conLrary Lo whaL many may havc
LhoughL, criLicism has not movcd ouLsidc Lhc rcalm o judgmcnL.
In acL, Lhis could noL occur prcciscly bccausc Lhc insidc/ouLsidc
binary conLinucd Lo accL various modcs o criLicism as a consLiLu-
Livc orcc. Whcrcas Ncw CriLicism, or cxamplc, rcduccd mcaning
Lo Lhc ormal sLrucLurcs o Lhc LcxL, subscqucnL dcvclopmcnLs in
criLicism posiLcd orm Lo bc mcrcly a Lrapping o liLcrary mcaning
and conLcnL and Lhcn ound Lhc LcxLs mcaning in iLs rccrcnLial
qualiLy. As dc Man wriLcs, Lhc polariLics o insidc and ouLsidc havc
bccn rcvcrscd, buL Lhcy arc sLill Lhc samc polariLics LhaL arc aL play:
inLcrnal mcaning has bccomc ouLsidc rccrcncc, and Lhc ouLcr orm
has bccomc inLrinsic sLrucLurc (). Hcncc, onc o Lhc rcsponscs Lo
a Ncw CriLical hcrmcncuLic was rcadcr rcsponsc criLicism LhaL rclo-
caLcd Lhc ncxus or LcxLual mcaning rom Lhc auLhor or LcxL Lo LhaL
o Lhc rcadcrs, or discoursc communiLys, acLiviLy.
4
Tc rcsL o dc Mans cssay dcconsLrucLs Lhc insidc/ouLsidc
mcLaphor LhaL is ncvcr bcing scriously qucsLioncd () by rsL
ipping Lhc binary Lo cmphasizc Lhc dcprivilcgcd Lcrm and Lhcn
rcplacing iL wiLh a ncw conccpLual pair as a mcans Lo cxaminc rcla-
Lions such as rhcLoric/grammar, Lhcory/pracLicc, rcading/undcr-
sLanding, and mcLaphor/mcLonymy. Dcploying insighLs gaincd
rom scmiology LhaL shiL Lhc qucsLion rom whaL somcLhing
mcans Lo how iL mcans, dc Man counLcrs Lhc dominanL assump-
Lion LhaL liLcrary languagc is mcLaphorical by dclincaLing how iL is
mcLonymical. In Lhc proccss, hc shows LhaL Lhc undcrsLanding o
liLcrary languagc as mcLaphorical lcads Lo a rccrcnLial criLicism
LhaL wanLs Lo havc iL boLh ways: o bcing, Lo paraphrasc Marx in
Lhc Ccrman Idcology, a ormalisL criLic in Lhc morning and a com-
munal moralisL in Lhc aLcrnoon (6).
For our purposcs, wc do noL havc Lo discuss in dcLail how, spc-
cically, dc Man discusscs Archic Bunkcr, William BuLlcr YcaLs,
and Marccl ProusL Lo csLablish LhaL liLcrary languagc is govcrncd
by a mcLonymical raLhcr Lhan mcLaphorical logic (i.c., by conLigu-
iLy and chancc raLhcr Lhan analogy and idcnLiLy). WhaL dc Man
concludcs, howcvcr, is imporLanL. Hc nds LhaL
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6,
prcciscly whcn Lhc highcsL claims arc bcing madc or Lhc
uniying powcr o mcLaphor, Lhcsc vcry imagcs rcly in acL
on Lhc dcccpLivc usc o scmi-auLomaLic grammaLical paL-
Lcrns. Tc dcconsLrucLion o mcLaphor and o all rhcLorical
paLLcrns such as mimcsis, paronomasia, or pcrsonicaLion
LhaL usc rcscmblancc as a way Lo disguisc dicrcnccs, Lakcs
us back Lo Lhc impcrsonal prccision o grammar and o a sc-
miology dcrivcd rom grammaLical paLLcrns. Such a rcading
puLs inLo qucsLion a wholc scrics o conccpLs LhaL undcrlic
Lhc va|ue udgments o our criLical discoursc: Lhc mcLaphors
o primacy, o gcncLic hisLory, and, mosL noLably, o Lhc au-
Lonomous powcr Lo will o Lhc scl. (:6, cmphasis minc)
McLaphors, in oLhcr words, arc always alrcady mcLonymics. Tc
upshoL o dc Mans argumcnL is LhaL a rhcLorizaLion o grammar
(as in Lhc rhcLorical qucsLion) bascd on a mcLaphorical undcr-
sLanding o languagc lcads Lo indcLcrminaLion, in a suspcndcd
unccrLainLy LhaL was unablc Lo choosc bcLwccn Lwo modcs o
rcading, whcrcas whaL hc calls a grammaLizaLion o rhcLoric [. .
.] sccms Lo rcach a LruLh (:6). Whcrcas a mcLaphorical cncoun-
Lcr wiLh liLcrary languagc mcrcly lcads Lo morc inLcrprcLaLions
LhaL arc ulLimaLcly unablc Lo dcLcrminc any mcaning o Lhc LcxL,
dc Man suggcsLs LhaL (mcLonymically govcrncd) dcconsLrucLion
as cxcmplicd in his cssay arrivcs aL a dccision, aL a LruLh, albciL
a ncgaLivc onc (:6).
YcL, in Lruc NicLzschcan ashion, dc Man hasLcns Lo asscrL
LhaL aL Lhc momcnL o sLaking a claim or dcconsLrucLion as a
supcrior LcxLual cngagcmcnL (dcconsLrucLion is noL somcLhing
wc havc addcd Lo Lhc LcxL buL iL consLiLuLcd Lhc LcxL in Lhc rsL
placc [:,]) iL is also ncccssary Lo dcbunk Lhc criLic-philosophcr
(:,) as Lhc owncr o LruLh. As dc Man argucs, i LruLh is Lhc rcc-
ogniLion o Lhc sysLcmic characLcr o a ccrLain kind o crror [Lhc
pocLic bclic in Lhc primacy o mcLaphor ovcr mcLonymy], Lhcn
iL would bc ully dcpcndcnL on Lhc prior cxisLcncc o Lhis crror
(:,). Tc implicaLions o Lhis claim arc aL lcasL Lwoold. FirsL,
dcconsLrucLion is a orm o anLihumanism, or Lhc disLincLion
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 68
bcLwccn auLhor and rcadcr is onc o Lhc alsc disLincLions LhaL
rcading makcs cvidcnL (:,). NciLhcr rcadcrs nor auLhors con-
Lrol mcaning. Sccond, and or our purposcs morc imporLanL,
dcconsLrucLion is cLhically obligcd Lo dcconsLrucL Lhc vcry LruLh
iL nds, iL has Lo dcconsLrucL iLscl. Tis, howcvcr, mcans noLhing
lcss Lhan LhaL dcconsLrucLion, as popularizcd by dc Mans criLical
wriLings, pracLiccs a modc o criLicism characLcrizcd by a sLaLc o
suspcndcd ignorancc (:j). TaL is, bccausc onc rcading is prc-
ciscly Lhc crror dcnounccd by Lhc oLhcr and has Lo bc undonc by
iL [wc cannoL] in any way makc a valid dccision as Lo which o Lhc
rcadings can bc givcn prioriLy ovcr Lhc oLhcr, nonc can cxisL in
Lhc oLhcrs abscncc (:i).
Hcrc dc Man has arrivcd aL a pcculiar placconc LhaL, duc Lo
Lhc inucncc o his work, had cnormous conscqucnccs or Lhc
way criLicism was pracLiccd LhroughouL much o Lhc :j,os and
:j8os. Hc has indccd drasLically complicaLcd somc o Lhc basic
assumpLions o conLcmporary liLcrary pracLicc LhaL conLinuc Lo
producc a criLicism noL all LhaL ar away rom Arnolds. YcL, symp-
LomaLic o Amcrican dcconsLrucLionand, indccd, Lhc dominanL
Lcndcncy o liLcrary criLicism aL largcdc Mans approach ulLi-
maLcly docs noL cscapc Lhc cconomy o judgmcnL ciLhcr. For i
wc ollow his own logic LhaL bcgan wiLh his dcconsLrucLing Lhc
insidc/ouLsidc binary, Lhcn wc havc Lo bc suspicious o whaL hc
posiLs as Lhc ncccssary sLaLc o suspcndcd ignoranccor, in
1crcy Ncalons Lcrms, Lhc dcmonsLrablc ncccssiLy o LoLaliza-
Lions ailurc (A|terty Po|tcs ,8)consLiLuLing liLcrary pracLicc,
criLical and pocLic alikc. AL Lhc vcry momcnL hc pulls Lhc rug
rom undcrncaLh Lhc insidc/ouLsidc disLincLion LhaL givcs criL-
ics a purchasc on a criLical posiLion ouLsidc Lhc LcxL LhaL allows
or Lhc producLion o moral valuc judgmcnLs, dc Mans logic also
rca rms judgmcnL in iLscl. ALcr all, i Lhc LruLh o criLicism is
iLs ignorancc or incviLablc ailurc and, Lhus, iLs ncccssary dccrral
o judgmcnL, Lhcn iLs LruLh cxisLs only in rclaLion Lo a prior cr-
rorLhaL o judgmcnL iLscl. I Lhis is Lhc casc, howcvcr, Lhcn iL is
noL aL all clcar whaL dc Mans claboraLc proccdurc has gaincd him
in Lhc cnd, oLhcr Lhan urLhcr complicaLing Lhc conccpL o judg-
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 6j
mcnL and how iL opcraLcs (by ncccssiLy`) in criLicism. Whcrcas
criLicism uscd Lo nd mcaning in a LcxL LhaL iL Lhcn procccdcd Lo
judgc, dc Man dclincaLcs Lhc ncccssary ailurc o Lhis projccL (iL
ails prcciscly bccausc rcprcscnLaLions arc ncvcr prcscnL as such,
Lhcy arc govcrncd by consLiLuLivc abscnccs) and insLcad posiLs
impossibiliLy iLscl as Lhc mcaning o a LcxL: Lhc vcry acL LhaL
wc can ncvcr conclusivcly dccidc whaL a LcxL rcally mcans s Lhc
LcxLs mcaning. In Lhis scnsc, dc Mans corLs do noL providc a
way ouL o Lhc cconomy o judgmcnL, cvcn Lhough Lhcy clcarly
and hclpully display how Lhc dominanL pracLicc o liLcrary criLi-
cism (rccrcnLial criLicism) conLinucs Lo uncLion in a nco-Ar-
noldian ashion.
Lawrence Grossberg: Aecting Cultural Studies
BuL i cvcn dc Mans cnormously sophisLicaLcd criLical rcsponsc
Lo liLcraLurc docs noL and cannoL cscapc judgmcnL, Lhcn wc may
havc Lo ask why Lhis is Lhc casc: why is iL LhaL, whcn all is said
and donc, Amcrican dcconsLrucLion mcrcly inLcnsics Lhc logic
o judgmcnL wiLhouL rcaching a brcaking poinL aL which a un-
damcnLal LransormaLion mighL occur` IL sccms LhaL onc way o
answcring Lhis qucsLion is hinLcd aL by Iawrcncc Crossbcrg in his
criLiquc o culLural sLudics, Lhc vcry disciplinc hc hclpcd shapc in
signicanL ways. CulLural sLudics, jusL likc Ncw HisLoricism and
Ncw MaLcrialism, Lhc Lwo mosL popular LhcorcLical paradigms
bcorc iL, casLs iLscl in opposiLion Lo dcconsLrucLion, pcrcciving
iL Lo bc Loo LcxLual and Loo ahisLorical.
5
Rcgardlcss o Lhc validiLy
o Lhis criLiquc, Lhcsc ncwcr criLical paradigms Lricd Lo shiL criLi-
cal aLLcnLion Lo hisLory, maLcrial pracLiccs, and siLcs alLogcLhcr
dicrcnL rom whaL was pcrccivcd as Lhc privilcgcd locaLion o
liLcraLurc.
6
YcL, in all LhaL, so Crossbcrg sccms Lo Lhink, a ncw
dcad cnd has bccn produccd, onc, I mighL add, LhaL is hardly ncw
aL all, or iL is Lhc samc dcad cnd LhaL Lraps dc Mans projccL in Lhc
rcalm o judgmcnL: Lo wiL, the economy oj representaton tse|j now
emerges as the prob|em. 1usL likc dc Mans corLs rcmain inLri-
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,o
caLcly Licd Lo a rcprcscnLaLional cconomy (Lhc ncvcr-cnding ip-
ping o Lhc binary undocs Lakcn or granLcd hicrarchics buL docs
noL displacc Lhc sysLcm o signicaLion and mcaning iLscl), so
Crossbcrg argucs LhaL culLural sLudicsLhaL which supposcdly
ncgaLcs dcconsLrucLion and iLs cmphasis on rcading LcxLsalso
rcmains wiLhin Lhc amiliar conncs o rcprcscnLaLion.
7
I Cross-
bcrg is righL, iL appcars LhaL Lhc allcgcdly ncw paradigm, which
has rcmaincd dominanL Lo Lhis day, mighL noL bc ablc Lo providc
Lhc impcLus LhaL iL promiscs.
In Tc VicLory o CulLurc, Crossbcrgs main LargcL consisLs o
Lhc |ogc o mcdiaLion (as opposcd Lo Lhc cxisLcncc o mcdiaLing
proccsscs). DirccLing his prolcgomcnona gcnrc LhaL dcncs a
projccL and Lhc condiLions which makc such a projccL boLh ncccs-
sary and possiblcspccically aL Lhc disciplinc o culLural sLud-
ics, hc asks whcLhcr iL is rcasonablc Lo conLinuc ollowing Lhc
samc paLh o idcnLiLy poliLics LhaL has obscsscd culLural sLudics
(). Spccically, givcn LhaL idcnLiLy poliLics is a poliLics o mcdia-
Lion and rcprcscnLaLion, Crossbcrg argucs, culLural sLudics has
Lo rcspond Lo Lhc incrcasing imporLancc, boLh LhcorcLically and
poliLically, o Lhc asigniying, whcLhcr undcrsLood as Lhc maLc-
rial, Lhc body or accL (). O coursc, Crossbcrg is noL Lhc rsL Lo
rccognizc Lhc imporLancc o Lhc asigniying, Fricdrich NicLzschc,
or onc, Lhcorizcd Lhc asigniying LhroughouL his ocuvrc (scc,
c.g., On TruLh and Iying in Lhc FxLra-Moral Scnsc), Lhus pro-
ducing a LhoughL arrow LhaL was laLcr pickcd up and rcdirccLcd by
Lhc likcs o Cillcs Dclcuzc and Michcl FoucaulL. YcL, I Lhink iL is
worLh quoLing Crossbcrg aL lcngLh on Lhis issuc, or hc succincLly
cxprcsscs a hisLorical poinL LhaL accLs conLcmporary LhoughL
prcciscly bccausc iL has largcly gonc unconLcsLcd, cspccially in
culLural sLudics:
NorLh ALlanLic ModcrniLy has always rccognizcd LhaL Lhcrc
is somcLhing clsc Lo human cxisLcncc bcyond Lhc cpisLc-
mological buL iL always assigns Lhis cxccss Lo Lhc domain
o Lhc irraLional, Lhc unsLrucLurcd, Lhc unmappablc (c.g.,
as dcsirc or crcaLiviLy). Tus whcn Lhcy arc Lalkcd abouL,
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,:
Lhcy arc ciLhcr immcdiaLcly rccongurcd inLo Lhc rcalm o
rcprcscnLaLion, or Lhcy arc LrcaLcd as Lhc concrcLc, Lhc par-
Licular, Lhc aLhcorcLical. As a rcsulL, much o conLcmporary
culLural Lhcory and criLicism assumcs a binary opposiLion
bcLwccn accL, Lhc body, maLcrialiLy and Lhc concrcLc on
Lhc onc sidc, and idcology, subjccLiviLy, consciousncss and
Lhcory on Lhc oLhcr. ()
NicLzschc cxplaincd Lhc human dcsirc or LruLh by linking iL Lo
moral and raLional rcasons LhaL subscqucnLly Lurncd Lhc consLi-
LuLivc orcc o languagcwhich or him is Lhc powcr o Lhc alsc,
or lyinginLo Lhc sphcrc o Lhc irraLional and, Lhus, immoral.
Similarly, Crossbcrg suggcsLs LhaL conLcmporary LhoughL con-
Linually bypasscs orccs o asignicaLion, whcLhcr by dcnigraLing
Lhcm as irraLional and pcrsonalizcd cxpcricnccs or by LranslaLing
Lhcm inLo a dicrcnL rcgimc LhaL iL is morc amiliar and comorL-
ablc wiLh: LhaL o rcprcscnLaLion. In Lhc prcvious chapLcr I showcd
onc o Lhc conscqucnccs o Lhis laLLcr opcraLionnamcly, LhaL
Lhc asigniying orccs o violcncc in Amercan Psycho arc Lurncd
inLo a qucsLion o rcprcscnLaLion LhaL in Lurn allows and, indccd,
ncccssiLaLcs a moral judgmcnL o Lhcsc orccs. Tc poinL Lo mark
hcrc is LhaL Crossbcrg locaLcs Lhc samc opcraLion LhaL I locaLcd
in a raLhcr LcxLual manncr Lo bc opcraLing aL Lhc hcarL o Lhc vcry
disciplinc LhaL casLs iLscl aganst LcxLual rcadings.
Tc main parL o Crossbcrgs cssay aLLcmpLs Lo map ouL how
Lhc logic o mcdiaLion cmcrgcd, how iL uncLioncd, and whaL iL
produccd. Onc o Lhc kcy conccpLs cmcrging in rclaLion Lo Lhc
logic o mcdiaLion is LhaL o culLurc as a dcscripLivc and norma-
Livc conccpL (:o). Crucially, so Crossbcrg argucs, Lhc vcry acL o
producing Lhc conccpL o culLurc involvcs Lhc consLrucLion o a
placc which allows onc Lo boLh dcscribc and udge Lhc changcs in
cvcryday lic (:o, cmphasis minc). TaL is, culLurc as a conccpL
produccs Lhc possibiliLyor, bcLLcr, ncccssiLyor judgmcnL:
arL as moraliLy (:o). Rccrring Lo Arnolds bclic LhaL culLurc is
Lhc bcsL LhaL has bccn LhoughL and said (qLd. in Crossbcrg :o),
Crossbcrg shows how culLural sLudics and iLs conccrns arc noL
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,i
ar aL all rom a sccmingly ouLmodcd opcraLion o criLicism.
S
Tc
acL LhaL Lhc conccpL o culLurcso crucial Lo Lhc cld o culLural
sLudics LhaL morc or lcss opposcs liLcraLurc and iLs apparcnL c-
Lishizing o Lhc LcxLis inLricaLcly linkcd Lo an Arnoldian scnsc
o moraliLy hclps cxplain why, or insLancc, Lhc culLural rcsponsc
(and I Lakc Lhis Lcrm in iLs largcsL scnsc) Lo BrcL FasLon Fllis oc-
currcd in Lhc manncr iL did. ALcr all, Fllis was clcarly markcd
and markcLcd as culLurc cvcr sincc his rsL novcl Less Tan Zero
(:j8) Lurncd him inLo Lhc nom du our in Lhc mid-cighLics, al-
lowing him Lo rcqucnL circlcs oLhcrwisc rcscrvcd or Lhc culLural
cliLc o Lhc FasL and WcsL CoasL csLablishmcnL. Prcciscly bccausc
Lhcrc was scanL qucsLioning o Flliss high culLural posiLion, Lhc
shock o Amercan Psycho was all Lhc morc inLcnsc: i arL/culLurc
cmbodics Lhc bcsL o mankind and i Fllis is somchow parL o cul-
Lurc in Lhis scnsc, Lhcn criLicism has no problcm Lo jusLiy com-
mcnLing on him, buL Lhis vcry casc wiLh which iL could cmbracc
Fllis also madc iL singularly unprcparcd or dcaling wiLh Amercan
Psycho, and iLs aLLcndanL cvcnL, as such. TaL is, bccausc culLural
criLicism assumcd iLscl Lo bc capablc o addrcssing onc o iLs
own, iL ound iLscl unablc Lo cncounLcr a LcxL LhaL marks iLscl in
Lcrms radically unamiliar Lo iLhcncc Lhc nccd Lo addrcss Flliss
LcxL in Lcrms o saLirc or Lhosc who wanLcd Lo dccnd iL. SaLirc,
aL lcasL, consLiLuLcs a amiliar conccpL and can in Lurn bc mobi-
lizcd Lo arLiculaLc a judgmcnL abouL Lhc LcxL and whaL iL is said Lo
saLirizcLhus pcrpcLuaLing Lhc idca LhaL culLurc is Lhc bcsL LhaL
has bccn LhoughL and said by mankind.
0
So, prcciscly bccausc Fllis had bccn markc(Lc)d as culLurc,
judgmcnL was dcmandcd, cvcn in lighL o Lhc acL LhaL Amercan
Psycho iLscl was hardly pcrccivcd as dcscrving o Lhis aLLribuLion.
Tis oughL Lo bc noLcd simply bccausc o Lhc cxisLcncc o many
oLhcr LcxLs LhaL arguably did whaL Flliss did long bcorc. Tc di-
crcncc, Lhough, is LhaL many o Lhcsc bruLal, immoral LcxLs arc
markc(Lc)d noL as cLion or liLcraLurc buL as mysLcry, suspcnsc,
horror, and so on. Tc rcaliLy o Lhis disLincLion should bc clcar
Lo anyonc who rcqucnLs booksLorcs, whcrc cLion is scparaLcd
rom all o Lhc oLhcr caLcgorics, Lhus ainLly rcscmbling Lhc moral
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,
scgrcgaLion bcLwccn immoral pornographic maLcrial and allcg-
cdly morally upliLing or insLrucLivc oncs.
l0
BuL iL is Lhis consLiLu-
Livc opcraLion LhaL allows criLicismliLcrary, lm, and culLural
sLudicsLo judgc a spccic scL o LcxLs, in acL, iL bccomcs Lhc
moral impcraLivc Lo do so.
In conLrasL, Lhc samc opcraLion o criLicism appcars Lo bccomc
impossiblc aL Lhc vcry momcnL iL is conronLcd wiLh LcxLs noL
markc(Lc)d as culLurc. So, or insLancc, PaLricia HighsmiLh or 1im
Tompsons cLions do noL lcnd Lhcmsclvcs Lo Lhc samc criLical
opcraLion prcciscly bccausc iL is ar rom clcar LhaL Lhc criLical ap-
paraLus o high culLurc shou|d bc broughL Lo Lhcm. IL is noL aL all
csLablishcd LhaL, say, HighsmiLhs Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey (:j)
or Tompsons K||er !nsde Me (:ji) is worLhy o our collccLivc
criLical corLs. In acL, boLh HighsmiLh and Tompson havc rc-
ccivcd barcly morc criLical aLLcnLion in scholarly ouLlcLs Lhan Fllis
hasdcspiLc Lhc acL LhaL Lhc laLLcr has wriLLcn only six books Lo
daLc, whcrcas boLh HighsmiLh and Tompson, culL auLhors caLc-
gorizcd as crimc/mysLcry/suspcnsc wriLcrs, auLhorcd morc Lhan
LhirLy. Tc samc holds Lruc or Lhc grcaL Arican Amcrican crimc
wriLcr ChcsLcr Himcs. IiLcrary sLudics propcr prccrs Lhc can-
onizcd, and oLcn raLhcr bourgcois liLcrary pracLiccs o Arican
Amcrican wriLcrs such as Ralph Fllison, 1amcs Baldwin, or Toni
Morrison Lo Lhc bruLal pulp sLylc o Himcs, whosc ocuvrc camc
Lo an cxplosivc cnd wiLh his lasL Harlcm novcl, P|an P (:j8).
Tis unnishcd novcl rcachcd a limiL poinL o cxplosivc violcncc
on Lhc lcvcl o conLcnL LhaL Lhc novcls sLylc was barcly ablc Lo
conLain. I Lhis rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhc applicaLion o criLical c-
orLs and Lhc pcrccivcd insLiLuLional mcriL o LcxLs is as dcscribcd
hcrc, Lhcn judgmcnL iLscl bccomcs a raLhcr impoLcnL modc o rc-
sponsc (bccausc LhaL which rcquircs rcsponsc is noL pcrccivcd as
bcing worLhy o rcsponsc Lo bcgin wiLh). Crucially, Lhc acL LhaL
criLicisms main modus opcrandi is noLor jusL barclyin acLion
wiLh rcgard Lo Lhcsc wriLcrs paradoxically prccludcs iL rom aL-
Lcnding Lo somc o Lhc morc inLcrcsLing opcraLions somconc likc
HighsmiLh cngagcs in, as I will arguc in Lhc ncxL chapLcr.
So, Crossbcrgs analysis o Lhc logic o mcdiaLion wiLh iLs aL-
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,
LcndanL culLural logic o lack (::) hclps us cxplain Lhc largcr
opcraLion o culLural criLicism. In Lhc conLcxL o his conccrn
culLural sLudicsCrossbcrg Lhcrcorc urgcs us Lo qucsLion iLs rc-
liancc on idcnLiying mcdiaLion wiLh communicaLion (:i) LhaL
sccs all culLural pracLiccs as involving Lhc producLion o mcan-
ings and rcprcscnLaLions, o subjccLiviLics and idcnLiLics (:i).
Spccically, Crossbcrgs analysis suggcsLs LhaL Lhis rcliancc docs
noL providc a poliLical or cLhical LacLic LhaL would bc capablc o
living up Lo Lhc promiscs iL makcs in culLural sLudics work, or iL
mighL bc Lhc casc LhaL Lhc cmcrging ormaLions o powcr may
no longcr nd Lhis logic [o mcdiaLion] uscul (:). Tus, Lhc
conccpL o culLurc as currcnLly dcploycd by culLural sLudics noL
only rcduccs cvcryLhing Lo mcaning buL also docs so as a mcans
Lo combaL a modc o powcr LhaL mighL bc ouLmodcd by now. And
i Lhis is indccd Lhc casc, as I am inclincd Lo agrcc, noL Lhc lcasL
bccausc o FoucaulLs raLhcr powcrul argumcnLs Lo Lhis cxLcnL,
Lhcn rcprcscnLaLion as a locus or poliLics and criLicism no longcr
ocrs a promising modc o cngagcmcnL.
ll
Crossbcrgs own work has long aLLcmpLcd Lo accounL or Lhis
shiL in powcr ormaLions. So, or insLancc, hc Lhcorizcs rock
music as a modc o accL raLhcr Lhan concciving iL in idcologi-
cal, rcprcscnLaLional Lcrms. Considcring accL a main orcc dc-
ploycd by LcxLs Lo gcncraLc inLcnsiLics, Crossbcrg aLLcnds, or
insLancc, Lo Lhc sonoriLy o rock music, an accLivc rcgimc LhaL
crcaLcs spaccs o non-KanLianism [Limc, mcdiaLion, judgmcnL]
and such spaccs opcraLc on Lhc suracc or all Lo cnLcr, iL opcr-
aLcs wiLh a kind o cconomy o placc-making whcrc Lhc logic o
mcdiaLion docs noL and cannoL opcraLc (:). WhaL is o inLcrcsL
in Crossbcrgs work, Lhcn, is his corL Lo Lakc accL morc scri-
ously by diagnosing how nonrcprcscnLaLional orccs arc always aL
workorccs LhaL may producc rcprcscnLaLions buL LhaL cannoL
bc cxplaincd by LhaL logic.
Whilc Brian Massumi asLuLcly criLicizcs Crossbcrg or having
muddlcd Lhc imporLanL disLincLion bcLwccn cmoLion and accL, I
Lhink Crossbcrgs argumcnL musL ncvcrLhclcss bc Lakcn scriously
as an inLcrvcnLion inLo Lhc cld LhaL oLcnLimcs prcLcnds LhaL iL
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,
has succcssully climinaLcd Lhc piLalls o liLcrary sLudics.
l2
1usL
as dc Man was ablc Lo show LhaL liLcrary sLudics is ar rom having
cscapcd Arnolds shadow, so Crossbcrg conccpLually shows LhaL
dc Mans soluLion Lo Lhc problcm o judgmcnL mcrcly Lurncd LhaL
conccpL inLo a ncw, ycL rclaLcd, problcm: LhaL o rcprcscnLaLion.
From a Crossbcrgian culLural sLudics pcrspccLivc, wc cannoL ac-
ccpL cndlcss dccrral as a saLisying soluLion Lo Lhc uncLioning
o judgmcnL as Lhc opcraLivc orcc o criLicism, urLhcr, rom Lhis
pcrspccLivc wc bcgin Lo scc now LhaL Lhc logic o rcprcscnLaLion
iLscl is Lhc problcm.
Crossbcrg, o coursc, docs noL dcny LhaL rcprcscnLaLion/mc-
diaLion cxisLs. RaLhcr, hc urgcs culLural sLudics Lo apprcciaLc Lhc
possibiliLy LhaL rcprcscnLaLion mighL noL bc abouL rcprcscnLa-
LionLhaL Lhc producLion o mcaning is mcrcly onc cccL rcp-
rcscnLaLions producc, and noL Lhc mosL imporLanL onc aL LhaL.
WhaL wc considcr rcprcscnLaLions arc Lhcmsclvcs produccd by
asigniying orccs. Or, as hc puLs iL, SignicaLion and rcprcscn-
LaLion arc mcrcly Lwo modcsand noL ncccssarily Lhc mosL im-
porLanL oncsin Lhc rcgimc o mcdiaLion, or cvcn o discursivc
mcdiaLion (,8). ConsLanLin Boundass criLiquc o whaL hc calls
dominanL dcconsLrucLion sLrikcs a similar noLc: PosiLioning iL-
scl, as [dcconsLrucLion] did, ambiguously in ronL o Lhc proccss
o (Lhc) producLion (o signs) and (Lhc) anLi-producLion (o Lhc
body-wiLhouL organs), iL lcL Lhc mcLaphysical primacy o rcpro-
ducLion [viz. rcprcscnLaLion, mcdiaLion] unchallcngcd. And iL is
Lhis unchallcngcd mcLaphysical primacy o rcproducLivc orccs
[ . . . ] LhaL accounLs or Lurning cvcryLhing inLo a drama in Lhc
dcploymcnL o (major) dcconsLrucLivc sLraLcgics (:6). BoLh
Crossbcrg and Boundas arc making Lhc samc poinL wiLh rcgard Lo
Lhcir disciplincs (culLural sLudics and philosophy, rcspccLivcly),
which lcads Lhcm Lo ask, in Boundass words, wiLh whaL clsc
[oLhcr Lhan rcprcscnLaLions] docs a LcxL gcncraLc inLcnsiLics
(:6,)` To addrcss Lhis qucsLion, boLh Boundas and Crossbcrg
Lurn or Lhcir answcrs Lo Lhc sLricLly arcprcscnLaLional LhoughL
o Cillcs Dclcuzc, a Lhinkcr whosc work inhabiLs culLural sLudics,
as wcll as liLcrary and lm sLudics, mosLly on Lhc margins.
l3
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,6
TaL Crossbcrg poinLs Lo Dclcuzcs LhoughL as a way Lo prob-
lcmaLizc somc o Lhc morc dominanL criLical paradigmsbc iL Lhc
sLill lingcring dcconsLrucLivc vcin or Lhc culLural sLudics rcsponsc
Lo iLis cvcn morc rcmarkablc in LhaL hc Lhus marks an inLcr-
csLing and Lclling dynamic inhcrcnL Lo any disciplinc invcsLcd in
inLcrprcLaLion. TaL is, dc Mans criLiquc o liLcrary criLicisms
conLinuing judgmcnLal modc o opcraLion mighL havc bccn ablc
Lo producc somc iniLial shock wavcs, ycL Lhc vcry naLurc o dc
Mans own pracLicc ulLimaLcly allowcd Lhc disciplinc Lo wclcomc
his criLiquc and makc iL iLs own prcciscly bccausc dc Mancan
criLicism (Amcrican dcconsLrucLion) rcmains solidly wiLhin Lhc
rcalm o rcprcscnLaLion and inLcrprcLaLion. Tc criLical qucsLion
rcmains whaL docs Lhis mean` cvcn Lhough Lhc oL-rcpcaLcd
rcsponsc is LhaL wc cannoL dccidc or LhaL Lhc LcxLual mcaning
assumcs a pluraliLy o orms. Iikcwisc, Lhc aLLracLivcncss o cul-
Lural sLudics, dcspiLc iLs aLLack on Lhc privilcging o LcxLs, is o
liLLlc surprisc considcring LhaL iL Loo has much invcsLmcnL in Lhc
conccpL o rcprcscnLaLion (albciL in a much morc poliLical scnsc),
as Crossbcrg has niccly parcclcd ouL. In iLs aLLcmpL Lo poliLicizc
Lhc acL o criLicism, culLural sLudics has (parLially) Lurncd away
rom Lhc liLcrary (or cincmaLic) LcxL buL has ncvcr rcally qucs-
Lioncd rcprcscnLaLion as such. In acL, iL mighL noL bc ovcrsLaL-
ing Lhc casc LhaL much o culLural sLudics has no inLcrcsL aL all
in qucsLioning rcprcscnLaLionalism, sincc much o iLs poliLics arc
Licd Lo noLions o rccogniLion, idcnLiLy, and Lhus rcprcscnLaLion
and judgmcnL.
l4
Tis hclps cxplain why, gcncrally spcaking, Dclcuzcs LhoughL
has had considcrably lcss inucncc on liLcrary and lm criLicism
Lhan dcconsLrucLion, Ncw HisLoricism, or culLural sLudics. Any
quick rit daLabasc scarch using Lhc Lcrm Dclcuzc will producc
considcrably cwcr cnLrics Lhan culLural sLudics, FoucaulL/
Ncw HisLoricism, or Dcrrida/DcconsLrucLion. Similarly, a
pcrusal o Lhc main cincma journals will noL bring orLh a vasL
array o scholarly work LhaL dcals wiLh or dcploys Dclcuzcan
LhoughLdcspiLc Lhc acL LhaL hc wroLc Lwo books on cincma,
jusL as hc wroLc cxLcnsivcly on liLcraLurc.
l5
WhaL Lhcn is going
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,,
on` Why is onc noL cnLircly misLakcn in suggcsLing LhaL Lhc aca-
dcmic criLical apparaLus has largcly kcpL Dclcuzc aL bay` Whilc
Lhcrc may bc all kinds o cxplanaLions (such as his di culL and
consLanLly changing Lcrminology, Lhc sccmingbuL only sccm-
inglack o sysLcmaLiciLy o his wriLing, Lhc shccr brcadLh o his
inLcrcsL LhaL makcs his argumcnLs oLcn raLhcr di culL Lo ol-
low or rcadcrs), I suggcsL, ollowing Crossbcrg, LhaL Dclcuzcs
insisLcncc on Lhc asigniying orcc o languagc lics aL Lhc rooL o
criLicisms rclucLancc Lo cngagc his LhoughL. Or, pcrhaps morc Lo
Lhc poinL, disciplincs such as liLcrary or lm criLicism mighL bc
rclucLanL Lo Lakc Dclcuzcs arcprcscnLaLionalism morc scriously
bccausc ollowing Dclcuzc on Lhis poinL pulls Lhc rug rom undcr-
ncaLh Lhc disciplincs chcrishcd LriniLyrcprcscnLaLion, inLcr-
prcLaLion, and judgmcnLas I havc bcgun Lo arguc in chapLcr i.
l6

To urLhcr Lhis argumcnL, lcL us Lurn Lo onc o Dclcuzcs carlicr
cssays, Tc Simulacrum and AncicnL Philosophyan cssay LhaL
in iLs vcry clariLy and concision shaLLcrs many wcll-chcrishcd and
naLuralizcd prcsupposiLions o conLcmporary criLical pracLicc,
noL lcasL bccausc iL runs a hard linc on Lhc kcy insighL LhaL mo-
dcrniLy is dcncd by Lhc powcr o Lhc simulacrum (i6).
Gilles Deleuze: Overcoming Platonism
Taking up NicLzschcs claim LhaL Lhc Lask o modcrn philosophy
is Lo rcvcrsc PlaLonism, Dclcuzc wanLs Lo diagnosc whaL Lhis
ovcrLurning mcans and how iL could bc accomplishcd (Simula-
crum i). IL is o coursc hardly a coincidcncc LhaL Dclcuzc bc-
comcs inLcrcsLcd in Lhc qucsLion o PlaLonism. ALcr all, iL was
PlaLo who powcrully inLroduccd rcprcscnLaLionalism inLo WcsL-
crn LhoughL. As 1acqucs Dcrrida has rcqucnLly suggcsLcd, Lhc
lascr bcam o WcsLcrn mcLaphysics wcnL rom PlaLo all Lhc way
Lo conLcmporary philosophcrs such as MarLin Hcidcggcr, and I
wanL Lo add LhaL PlaLos arrow o LhoughL has also bccn caughL by
Lhc modcrn pracLicc o liLcrary and lm criLicism as pracLiccd in
acadcmia and popular culLurc. As such, Lhcn, an ovcrLurning o
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,8
PlaLonism is noL a small Lask. Morc spccically, a succcssul ovcr-
Lurning would scriously qucsLion Lhc validiLy o Lhc cnLirc criLi-
cal cnLcrpriscor aL lcasL criLicism in iLs rcprcscnLaLional modc.
BuL or our purposcs cvcn morc crucial is LhaL an ovcrLurning o
PlaLonism would also show why judgmcnL, no maLLcr how subLlc,
cannoL bc considcrcd a hclpul rcsponsc Lo a liLcrary (or lmic)
LcxL, cspccially, Lhough noL cxclusivcly, in iLs cxLrcmc casc: LhaL
o violcncc. So, i dc Man has shown LhaL liLcrary criLicism con-
Linucs Lo rcly on judgmcnL and argucs or a dcconsLrucLivc criLi-
cism suspcndcd in rcprcscnLaLional ignorancc and i Crossbcrg
has shown LhaL rcprcscnLaLion iLscl mighL bc Lhc problcm, Lhcn
Dclcuzc givcs us Lhc Lool Lo scc how judgmcnL is Lhc opcraLion
o rcprcscnLaLion. TaL is, sympLomaLologically rcading Dclcuzcs
cssay on PlaLo and Lhc simulacrum allows us Lo undcrsLand why
Lhc disciplinc o criLicism cannoL cscapc Lhc rcalm o judgmcnL as
long as iL conLinucs Lo basc iLscl on Lhc cconomy o rcprcscnLa-
Lionalism.
WhaL, Lhcn, happcns in and wiLh PlaLos LhoughL according
Lo Dclcuzc` IL is wcll known LhaL PlaLos argumcnLs workcd by
his division o gcnus inLo spccics. Dclcuzc, howcvcr, conLcnds
LhaL Lhc rcal purposc o PlaLonic division is noL aL all Lo dividc
a gcnus inLo spccics, buL, morc prooundly, Lo sclccL lincagcs: Lo
disLinguish prcLcndcrs, Lo disLinguish Lhc impurc rom Lhc purc,
Lhc auLhcnLic rom Lhc inauLhcnLic (Simulacrum i). Pcrhaps
Lhc bcsL-known cxamplc o Lhis proccdurc is PlaLos aLLcmpL Lo
Lrack down Lhc SophisL.
l7
And iL is in Lhis conLcxL, so Dclcuzc sug-
gcsLs, LhaL wc havc Lo undcrsLand Lhc uncLion o myLh in PlaLos
LhoughL. I Lhc mcLhod o PlaLonic division is a dialccLic o ri-
valry (i), Lhc abiliLy Lo disLinguish bcLwccn Lhc auLhcnLic and
inauLhcnLic, Lhc Lruc and Lhc alsc, ulLimaLcly dcpcnds on somc
a priori ground LhaL allows a subjccL Lo makc Lhcsc divisions.
And myLh, in PlaLo, bccomcs Lhis ground. TaL is, his Lhcory o
Idcasas cxprcsscd in Lhc myLh o Lhc purc soulspcrmiLs Lhc
consLrucLion o a modcl according Lo which Lhc dicrcnL prcLcnd-
crs can bc judgcd (i). I Lhc rcalm o Idcas is Lhc highcsL good
Lo bc aspircd Lo, Lhcn iL ollows LhaL Lhcrc arc a numbcr o di-
Are we A|| Arno|dans? ,j
crcnL lcvcls o parLicipaLion, namcly, LhaL Lhcrc arc parLicipanLs
who aiLhully copy Lhcsc idcas and parLicipanLs who do noL.
TaL is, PlaLos Lhcory o Idcas consLrucLs Lhc immancnL modcl
or Lhc oundaLion-LcsL according Lo which Lhc prcLcndcrs should
bc judgcd and Lhcir prcLcnsions mcasurcd (i6). WhaL Dclcuzc
rclcnLlcssly poinLs ouL hcrc is Lhc ccnLraliLy o udgment Lo Pla-
LonicLhaL is, rcprcscnLaLionalLhoughL. Tis bccomcs crucial
as soon as Dclcuzc movcs on Lo discussing Lhosc PlaLonic con-
ccpLs mosL rclcvanL Lo Lhc pracLicc o criLicism: Lhc copy and Lhc
simulacrum.
In PlaLonism, says Dclcuzc, copics arc sccondary posscssors
[or] wcll-oundcd prcLcndcrs, guaranLccd by rcscmblancc, smu-
|acra arc likc alsc prcLcndcrs, builL upon a dissimilariLy, implying
an csscnLial pcrvcrsion or a dcviaLion (Simulacrum i6). Tc
moral imporLancc o Lhis disLincLion cannoL bc ovcrcsLimaLcd, or
Lhc PlaLonic moLivaLion Lo dicrcnLiaLc bcLwccn good and bad
copics or, raLhcr, bcLwccn copics and simulacra, is immancnLly
linkcd Lo Lhc dcsirc Lo promoLc Lhc inhcrcnL goodncss o Lhc Lruc
prcLcndcr (copy) prcciscly bccausc Lhis prcLcndcr is modclcd on
Lhc puriLy o Lhc Idca: Tc copy Lruly rcscmblcs somcLhing only
Lo Lhc dcgrcc LhaL iL rcscmblcs Lhc Idca o LhaL Lhing. Tc prc-
Lcndcr conorms Lo Lhc objccL only insoar as hc is modclcd (in-
Lcrnally and spiriLually) on Lhc Idca. Hc mcriLs Lhc qualiLy (Lhc
qualiLy o bcing jusL, or cxamplc) only insoar as hc has oundcd
himscl on Lhc csscncc (jusLicc). In shorL, iL is Lhc supcrior idcn-
LiLy o Lhc Idca, which ounds Lhc good prcLcnsion o Lhc copics,
as iL bascs iL on an inLcrnal or dcrivcd rcscmblancc (i,). In con-
LrasL, Lhc simulacrums prcLcnsion is unoundcd, as iL conccals iLs
inhcrcnL dssm|arty rom Lhc Idca: iL mcrcly prcLcnds Lo bc likc
Lhc Idca whcn in rcaliLy iL is o an cnLircly dicrcnLinauLhcnLic,
impurclincagc.
Onc o Lhc upshoLs o Dclcuzcs argumcnL hcrc is LhaL Lhc
popular posLmodcrn languagc o simulaLion docs noL makc much
scnsc, i wc undcrsLand by simulacra copics o copics as 1can
Baudrillard and Frcdric 1amcson do.
lS
Tc poinL Dclcuzc makcs
is prcciscly LhaL simulacra arc dicrcnL n knd rom copics, sim-
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8o
ulacra arc noL copics o copics bccausc Lhc ormcr arc dcrivcd
rom a dicrcnL lincagc Lhan Lhc laLLcr. Copics arc sccondary Lo a
prior idcnLiLy, whcrcas simulacra givc risc Lo idcnLiLy as an eect:
onc [rcading o Lhc world] inviLcs us Lo Lhink dicrcncc rom
Lhc sLandpoinL o a prcvious similiLudc or idcnLiLy, whcrcas Lhc
oLhcr [rcading] inviLcs us Lo Lhink similiLudc and cvcn idcnLiLy as
Lhc producL o a dccp dispariLy. Tc rsL rcading prcciscly dcncs
Lhc world o copics or rcprcscnLaLions, iL posiLs Lhc world as icon.
Tc sccond, conLrary Lo Lhc rsL, dcncs Lhc world o simulacra,
iL posiLs Lhc world iLscl as phanLasm (i6:6i). For PlaLo, and
Lhosc LhoughL sysLcms dcrivcd rom or simply inucnccd by him,
such as (nco-)PlaLonism and ChrisLianiLy, Lhc purposc o validaL-
ing Lhc moral supcrioriLy o copics ovcr simulacra lics prcciscly
in Lhc acL LhaL copics rcscmblcbc iL a purc Idca (PlaLonism) or
Cod (ChrisLianiLy). For insLancc, ChrisLianiLy, as Dclcuzc wriLcs,
claims, Cod madc man in his imagc and rcscmblancc. Trough
sin, howcvcr, man losL Lhc rcscmblancc whilc mainLaining Lhc
imagc. Wc havc bccomc simulacra. Wc havc orsakcn moral cxis-
Lcncc in ordcr Lo cnLcr acsLhcLic cxisLcncc (i,). Copicsrcprc-
scnLaLionsarc inLrinsically judgcd as morally good, in conLrasL,
simulacra, and wiLh Lhcm acsLhcLics, havc Lhoroughly bccn dc-
monizcd.
Dclcuzcs analysis, howcvcr, docs noL posiL a choicc bcLwccn
Lhcsc Lwo rcadings o Lhc world. Dclcuzc is noL a posLcr boy or
TiVo uscrs, who can rccord an cnLirc cvcnings worLh o Lclcvi-
sion Lalk shows and choosc Lhc ncxL morning which onc Lhcy arc
in Lhc mood or waLching: Icno or IcLLcrman, or pcrhaps boLh.
RaLhcr, hc makcs iL unmisLakably clcar LhaL Lhc powcr o Lhc sim-
ulacrumiLs vcry cxisLcnccundocs Lhc proposiLion LhaL wc arc
living in a world sLrucLurcd by rcprcscnLaLions as primary orccs.
On Lhc conLrary, Lhc simulacrum, Lhc Bcing o all bcings (i6),
harbors a posiLivc powcr which dcnics the orgna| and the copy,
the mode| and the reproducton (i6i). Tc simulacrums powcr
Lhc powcr o Lhc alsc (i6)lics in iLs consttutve capaciLy Lo
sLrucLurc cxisLcncc, or iL docs away wiLh Lhc vcry possibiliLy Lo
disLinguish bcLwccn copy and modcl.
l0
Tc simulacrum looks likc
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8:
Lhc modcl and Lhus insinuaLcs LhaL iL has copicd Lhc modcl, whcn
rcally Lhc simulacrum dcploys an inLcrnal dicrcncc, a dissimilar-
iLy, Lo producc Lhc cccL o similariLy, rcscmblancc, and idcnLiLy.
Tc Colossus o Rhodcs lookcd likc a pcrccLly proporLioncd hunk
o a man only bccausc iLs proporLions wcrc Lhoroughly dissimilar
Lo a rcal human bcing or, raLhcr, Lo Lhc Idca o a rcal human bcing.
Tc powcr o Lhc simulacrum, Lhcn, induccs a vcrLigo (i6i), a
dizzincss, dclirium, or hallucinaLiona psychic modc LhaL is di-
crcnL rom an illusion prcciscly in LhaL Lhc laLLcr can bc mca-
surcd againsL a LruLh whcrcas Lhc ormcr cannoL: a hallucinaLion
is noL bascd on somcLhing in cxisLcncc LhaL could bc cmpirically
mcasurcd, whcrcas an illusion is.
20
BuL Lhc simulacrum consLiLuLcs or PlaLo a problcm noL only
bccausc o iLs simplc incrioriLy Lo Lruc copics. RaLhcr, as Dclcuzc
poinLs ouL, PlaLo appcars Lo bc disLurbcd by Lhc acL LhaL Lhc sim-
ulacrum implics hugc dimcnsions, dcpLhs and disLanccs LhaL Lhc
obscrvcr cannoL masLcr (i8). Bccausc o Lhc impossibiliLy Lo
masLcr, Lo know, or simply Lo undcrsLand Lhcsc dimcnsionsor,
in KanLian Lcrms, Lhc sublimcLhc pcrcciving subjccL alscly cx-
pcricnccs Lhc simulacrum as a rcscmblancc Lo Lhc copy, Lhc origi-
nal. As a rcsulL, Lhc subjccL loscs iLs disLincLncss rom Lhc objccL
o pcrccpLion: Lhc simulacrum includcs Lhc dicrcnLial poinL o
vicw, and Lhc obscrvcr bccomcs a parL o Lhc simulacrum iLscl,
which is Lransormcd and dcormcd by his poinL o vicw (i8).
Or, as Clairc Colcbrook glosscs Lhis argumcnL, any spccic poinL
o vicw is noL a poinL o vicw ovcrlooking somc objccL world, buL a
prolicraLion o poinLs, a prc-pcrsonal cld o singulariLics. [ . . . ]
Wc canL subordinaLc looking, rcccpLiviLy or Lhc givcnncss o Lhc
world Lo Lhc siLc o Lhc subjccL, as Lhough Lhc world wcrc locaLcd
wthn poinL o vicw. Bcorc Lhc rcprcscnLing powcr o Lhc subjccL
Lhcrc is an inniLc scrics o looks or conLcmplaLions (::::i).
AL sLakc, Lhcn, is a PlaLonic dcsirc or mainLaining Lhc disLincLivc-
ncss o subjccL and objccL, likcwisc, in phcnomcnological Lcrms,
Lhc problcm wiLh Lhc simulacrum is LhaL iL alsics Lruc pcrccp-
Lion in LhaL iL lcads Lhc pcrccivcr Lo bccomc conscious o somc-
Lhing LhaL rcally docs noL cxisL as such. Tc violcncc occurring
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8i
hcrc, Lhcn, is onc againsL a prcsumcd wholcncss o pcrccpLion.
2l

Tc pcrcciving subjccL, in his or hcr cncounLcr wiLh Lhc aggrcs-
sion o Lhc simulacra (Dclcuzc, Simulacrum i6:), cxpcricnccs
an accLivc chargc (i6:), a bccoming-mad (i8)somcLhing
LhaL, rom PlaLo onward, Lhc hisLory o WcsLcrn (major) LhoughL
has bccn aL pains Lo dcnigraLc, Lo rcprcss.
22
According Lo Dclcuzc, PlaLonism ounds Lhc cnLirc domain
LhaL philosophy will laLcr rccognizc as iLs own: Lhc domain o rcp-
rcscnLaLion llcd by copics-icons, and dcncd noL by an cxLrinsic
rclaLion Lo an objccL, buL by an inLrinsic rclaLion Lo Lhc modcl or
oundaLion (ij). As such, iL insLanLiaLcs a movcmcnL againsL
Lhc orccs o bccomingo accLand cmbcds a moral choicc,
arLiculaLcd as a prccrcncc or Lhc calm, ordcrcd lic o Lhc soul
govcrncd by rcason Lo Lhc disordcrly and passionaLc lic o Lhc
soul movcd by pocLry (PaLLon ). Iic as such is rcndcrcd as
a sLablc proccss o copying in which clcarly dclincaLcd subjccLs
can bc judgcd bascd on Lhcir abiliLy Lo cmulaLc Lhc idcalisLic
original. Tc rcalm o rcprcscnLaLion, in oLhcr words, is rom Lhis
momcnL on immancnLly consLiLuLcd by Lhc dcsirc Lo judgc: rcp-
rcscnLaLionalism cannoL bc LhoughL wiLhouL judgmcnL, cannoL
bc donc wiLhouL judgmcnL. Or, in NicLzschcs gcncalogical Lcrms,
Lhc orcc o judgmcnL so crucial or PlaLo sLill accLs rcprcscnLa-
Lional LhoughL in Lhc prcscnL. A rcvcrsal o PlaLonism, Lhcrcorc,
is an unLimcly acL, onc LhaL by acLing counLcr Lo our Limc [acLs]
on our Limc and, lcL us hopc, or Lhc bcncL o a Limc Lo comc
(NicLzschc, Uscs and DisadvanLagcs 6o). Dclcuzcs inLcrcsL in
rcvisiLing PlaLo, and in asscrLing Lhc primacy o Lhc simulacrum,
is Lhus noL onc o cxcavaLing a Lrucr rcading o PlaLo. Dclcuzc
is noL a pracLiLioncr o whaL NicLzschc dcnigraLcd as anLiquarian
hisLory.
23
RaLhcr, Lhc poinL LhaL I Lhink wc would do wcll Lo hccd
vcry carcully is Dclcuzcs insisLcncc LhaL wc havc noL ycL donc
wiLh PlaLo(nism). PlaLos LhoughL is noL onc wc can look aL ob-
jccLivcly as a hisLorical documcnL prcciscly bccausc iL sLill opcr-
aLcs in conLcmporary criLical pracLiccs. Tc virLual orcc o PlaLos
iniLial a rmaLivc insLanLiaLion o rcprcscnLaLionalism as a moral
judgmcnL conLinucs Lo bc acLualizcd Loday, jusL as, iL sccms Lo
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8
mc, Arnoldianism is noL a maLLcr o a pasL cra wc havc donc wiLh
buL insLcad conLinucs Lo pcrmcaLc conLcmporary LhoughL and
pracLicc.
24
+
IL sccms, Lhcn, LhaL wc havc answcrcd Lhc qucsLion wiLh which wc
bcgan. As long as criLicism, in iLs cncounLcr wiLh liLcraLurc or cin-
cma (or oLhcr arLs), conccivcs o iLs objccL as rcprcscnLaLions, iL
is bound Lo producc moral judgmcnLs, no maLLcr how subLlc Lhcy
mighL appcar Lo bc. In Lhis conccpLion, arL rcmains inLricaLcly
Licd Lo a morc or lcss Arnoldian vicw o arL as moral pcdagogy.
FurLhcr, Lhis conccpLion o signalcLic maLcrial (cincmaLic imagcs,
liLcrary words, musical noLcs, cLc.) also ncccssarily insisLs on Lhc
scparaLion o Lhc pcrcciving subjccL rom Lhc objccL pcrccivcd,
or iL is Lhis disLincLivcncss LhaL is ncccssary or a valid judgmcnL
Lo bc madc Lo bcgin wiLh. For only i Lhc pcrcciving subjccL is noL
accLcd by Lhc objccL can onc bc surc LhaL Lhc pcrccpLion o iL and
Lhc aLLcnding judgmcnL will bc purc, uncLLcrcd by Lhc bccom-
ing-mad o Lhc orcc o Lhc simulacrum. Howcvcr, whaL Dclcuzcs
rcading o PlaLonisms dcnigraLion o Lhc simulacrum suggcsLs is
noL only LhaL PlaLo acLually rccognizcd Lhc unLcnabiliLy o his own
Lhcory, iL also shows LhaL our idca o poinL o vicwso crucial Lo
many liLcrary and lm analyscscannoL bc mainLaincd in a way
LhaL suggcsLs Lhc agcncy o a rccly pcrcciving subjccL.
25
RaLhcr,
Lhc consLiLuLivc orcc o simulaLionLhaL which pcrcolaLcs cvcry
imagcrcndcrs Lhc subjccL as indisccrniblc rom a mulLipliciLy
o poinL o vicws. Tc subjccL is noLhing buL a scqucncc o poinL
o vicws, o accLivc cncounLcrs wiLh Lhc world, or, as Fllis shows
in Amercan Psycho (and HighsmiLh in Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey), Lhc
subjccL is mcrcly a scqucncc o masks: Laking o onc mask rc-
vcals noLhing clsc buL Lhc dclirious suracc qualiLy o ycL anoLhcr
mask.
BuL Lhis is a di culL lcsson Lo lcarn or a disciplinc so invcsLcd
in Lhc criLic as Lhc subjccL in chargc o inLcrprcLaLion or Lhc auLhor
(or rcadcr, as Lhc casc may bc) in chargc o making mcaning.
26

Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8
Whcrcas dc Mancan dcconsLrucLion was raLhcr casy Lo incorpo-
raLc inLo Lhc disciplinc prcciscly bccausc iL rcmaincd Lhoroughly
invcsLcd in rcprcscnLaLionalism, and whcrcas culLural sLudics Loo
could sLrongly accL criLicism bccausc o iLs (poliLical) inLcrcsL in
rcprcscnLaLionalism, Dclcuzcs LhoughL has had a much hardcr
Limc accLing Lhc disciplinc as such prcciscly bccausc iL puLs inLo
qucsLion Lhc vcry ground on which Lhc disciplinc dcpcnds. ALcr
all, Lhc qucsLion onc nccds Lo ask now is WhaL can onc do i Lhc
assumcd puriLy o a criLical poinL o vicw cannoL bc mainLaincd`
or WhaL is onc Lo do now LhaL imagcs in whaLcvcr orm do noL
rc-prcscnL Lhc world, naLurc, or somc Lruc idca` O coursc, somc
answcrs Lo Lhcsc qucsLions havc alrcady bccn providcd, noL only
by Dclcuzc himscl, buL also by somc LhcorisLs such as Ncalon or
SLcvcn Shaviro.
WhaL I am inLcrcsLcd in hcrc is Lo providc onc urLhcr link, onc
LhaL, I Lhink, is madc cxpliciLly by HighsmiLhs cLion Lo which
I will Lurn ncxL. TaL is, i Dclcuzc shows us LhaL Lhc rcalm o
rcprcscnLaLion is Lhc rcalm o judgmcnL, Lhcn I would likc Lo sug-
gcsL LhaL an cncounLcr wiLh violcncc in liLcraLurc or lm cannoL
possibly assumc Lhc orm o judgmcnLnoL only bccausc judg-
ing rcprcscnLaLions is oddly rccursivc (iL judgcs iLscl by ncccssiLy
and Lhus can ncvcr assumc a moral placc ouLsidc said rcprcscn-
LaLion, as iL is morc Lhan oLcn assumcd by criLics), buL bccausc
judgmcnL, in iLs immancncc wiLh rcprcscnLaLion, s Lhc movc-
mcnL or orcc o violcncc par cxccllcncc. Morc prcciscly, in aL lcasL
onc scnsc Dclcuzcs analysis shows LhaL, onLologically spcaking,
vo|ence s a|| there s in LhaL Lhc primacy o Lhc dicrcnLial poinL
o vicwo dicrcnccuncLions as a modc LhaL can only bc
dcscribcd as violcncc in LhaL iL is purc orcc. YcL Lhis consLiLu-
Livc violcncc is noL a violcncc dirccLcd againsL or donc Lo somc
prior wholcncss, Lo somc phcnomcnological world or Bcing LhaL
wc somchow lack or dcsirc Lo rcLurn Lo bccausc iL is rcc o vio-
lcncc. In acL, undcrsLanding violcncc in Lcrms o doing violcncc
Lo always dcnoLcs a rcprcscnLaLional conccpLion o violcncc.
27

IL sccms Lo mc, howcvcr, LhaL Lhc movcmcnL o pcrccpLionin-
cluding LhaL o imagcsis drivcn by Lhc violcncc o dicrcncc. As
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 8
such iL docs noL makc much scnsc Lo Lry Lo judgc Lhis violcncc, or
iL is whaL makcs us up. All our capaciLics arc produccd by Lhis vio-
lcncc. YcL noL all violcncc is Lhc samc. In acL, Dclcuzcs analysis
o PlaLonism showsi wc undcrsLand iL as suggcsLing Lhc purc
immancncc o Lhc Lriad rcprcscnLaLion-judgmcnL-violcnccLhaL
iL maLLcrs whaL kind o violcnccs violcncc produccs. Or whaL kind
o violcncc wc do Lo violcncc. Wc always do violcncc Lo dicrcncc,
buL iL maLLcrs whaL dirccLion and wcighL Lhis violcncc assumcs:
WhaL cccLs arc produccd` WhaL docs a spccic orm o violcncc
cnablc onc Lo do` WhaL kind o linc o ighL can iL scL inLo mo-
Lion` In masocriLical Lcrms, Lhcn, Lhc Lask is noL Lo cscapc vio-
lcncc buL Lo rcgulaLc iL dicrcnLly.
NoL coincidcnLally, in Dclcuzcs LhoughL dicrcncc is inLri-
caLcly linkcd Lo Lhc caLcgory o accL. AccL is Lhc orcc o di-
crcncc, Lhc orcc o dicrcncc accL. And in conLrasL Lo a Kan-
Lian aLLcmpL Lo rcndcr accL ulLimaLcly incrior Lo conccpLs and
rcason, Dclcuzcs simulaLing philosophy a rms accL as such,
wclcomcs iL or whaL iL is: Lhc movcmcnL o violcncc. AccLs pro-
ducc cccLs, Lhcy arc abouL linkagcs, abouL Lhc logic o Lhc and
raLhcr Lhan LhaL o ciLhcr/or. AccL indcxcs Lhc cLhical and on-
Lological ncccssiLy Lo conLinually go clscwhcrc in an cxpcrimcnLal
movcmcnL o inLcnsicaLion, innovaLion, and improvisaLion, buL
Lhis movcmcnLs LrajccLory always lcads through Lhc objccL iLscl.
Tc Lask, Lhcrcorc, is noL Lo subjccL Lhc objccL Lo judgmcnL buL Lo
conronL iL wiLh Lhc qucsLion o whaL iL docs. Tc violcncc o a liL-
crary or cincmaLic work, Lhcn, is noL subjccLcd Lo Lhc dcmand or
a good and moral mcaning ( la Lhc discoursc surrounding Lhc
supposcd moraliLy o, say, SLcvcn Spiclbcrgs violcnL World War
II lms Schnd|ers Lst [:jj] and Savng Prvate Ryan [:jj8]).
RaLhcr, iL is qucsLioncd mcrcly or whaL iL docs and how iL docs
iL: Is iL capablc Lo incrcasc Lhc powcr o Lhc subjccLs cncounLcring
iL (and bcing congurcd and Lransormcd by iL) Lo acL, Lo Lhink,
Lo movc` Or docs iL dccrcasc Lhcsc orccs` In shorL, docs iL ur-
Lhcr Lhc powcrs o living or hindcr Lhcm Lo unold` Tis is Lhc
cLhical principlc undcrlying a Dclcuzcan Lhcory o asignicaLion,
a criLical and clinical cncounLcr wiLh imagcs LhaL vicws imaging
Are we A|| Arno|dans? 86
as producLivc o cccLs Lhrough accLs, raLhcr Lhan conLaining,
howcvcr mulLiplc or undccidablc, LruLhs or mcanings. Tc laLLcr
arc always mcrcly cccLs o Lhc prior orccs o simulaLion, a-
ccL, violcncc: LhaL is, o dicrcncc.
2S
Taking Lhis scriously mighL
producc a way or criLicism Lo cngagc iLs objccLs in a rigorously
ajudgmcnLal modc, iL would, pcrhaps, opcn up a Lhorough pro-
ccss o rcLhinking why wc sLudy imagcs Lo bcgin wiLh and whaL
Lhc promisc o arL mighL bc or Lhc qucsLions o poliLics and pcda-
gogy.
20
Tis, Lhcn, is Lhc Lask: Lo dclincaLcand Lhus producclincs
o ighL Lhrough an accLivc, masocriLical cncounLcr wiLh (vio-
lcnL) imagcs, bc Lhcy wriLLcn, cincmaLic, or oLhcrwisc. By ncccs-
siLy, Lhis cndcavor musL Lakc mulLiplc orms, sincc Lhc objccL
and conLcxL o Lhc cncounLcr wiLh iL auLomaLically accLs and
cccLuaLcs derent rcsponscs. BoLh objccL and subjccL alLcr in
Lhis accLivc cncounLcr, wc cannoL dcLcrminc Lhc mcaning o
Lhcsc changcs, buL wc can map ouL Lhc (virLual) cccLs. Tc cru-
cial qucsLion wc havc Lo ask abouL Lhc usc o violcncc in liLcra-
Lurc or cincma is noL whcLhcr or noL iL is moral (good or cvil).
RaLhcr, Lhc only qucsLions wc arc lcL wiLh arc Lo ask whcLhcr iL
works, whcLhcr iL allows or Lhc producLion o ncw LhoughL, and
whcLhcr iL incrcascs a bodys capaciLy Lo acL, Lo bccomc hcalLhicr,
Lo bc ablc Lo acL in and upon Lhc worlda world LhaL, iL should
bc rccallcd, is onLologically sLrucLurcd by, noL againsL or in car
o, violcncc.
30
As I argucd in chapLcr i, considcrablc inLcrcsL cxisLcd in :jjj
and iooo in Lhc lm adapLaLion o BrcL FasLon Flliss widcly
loaLhcd novcl Amercan Psycho. VirLually simulLancous wiLh Lhc
burgconing anLicipaLion in how cminisL dirccLor Mary Harron
would rcndcr whaL is gcncrally considcrcd onc Lhc mosL anLicm-
inisL Amcrican novcls in rcccnL mcmory, anoLhcr novcl and iLs
upcoming lm vcrsion crcpL inLo Lhc limclighL o public rcvicws
and middlcbrow magazinc discussions. Whcn on ChrisLmas Day
:jjj AnLhony Minghcllas adapLaLion o PaLricia HighsmiLhs Te
Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey vicd or Lhc aLLcnLion o an Amcrican movic
audicncc sLucd wiLh Lurkcy and pumpkin pic, Lhc usual ncws-
papcr rcvicws had bcgun cvaluaLing Lhc lm as a poLcnLial Acad-
cmy Awards conLcndcr.
l
AnLicipaLingand pcrhaps morc signi-
canLly, hclping Lo manuacLurcLhc succcss o Lhc lm, culLural
ouLlcLs such as Lhc New Yorker and Lhc New York Tmes prcccdcd
Lhc movics rclcasc by raLhcr cxLcndcd discussions o boLh Lhc
lm and HighsmiLhs work. For insLancc, Lhc New Yorker prinLcd
a our-pagc analysis by Susannah Clapp o Minghcllas cncoun-
Lcr wiLh HighsmiLh, Lhc chillicsL crimc wriLcr o Lhcm all (j).
Iikcwisc, Lhc New York Tmes dcvoLcd our consccuLivc cssays Lo
HighsmiLh and Lhc cincmaLic rcndcring o hcr mosL amous novcl.
FirsL, in laLc Novcmbcr, Michiko KakuLani, Lhc papcrs lcading
book criLic, rcvicwcd Lhc rcissuc o Lhrcc o Lhc vc Riplcy novcls
in a singlc volumc by Lhc Fvcrymans Iibrary.
2
Tcn culLural criLic
Frank Rich publishcd a ull-lcngLh Lhink piccc in Lhc ncwspapcrs
Patricia Highsmiths Empirical Pedagogy of Violence
Sera|zng vo|ence 88
Sunday Magazinc sccLion on Lhc Limclincss o Te Ta|ented Mr. R-
p|ey or laLc-LwcnLicLh-ccnLury Amcrican culLurc. Finally, David
Tomson and 1ancL Maslin, boLh among Lhc orcmosL Amcrican
(popular) lm criLics, subsLanLially rcvicwcd Lhc lm in Lhc wcck
immcdiaLcly prcccding iLs rclcasc.
I poinL Lo Lhcsc ciLaLions mainly Lo suggcsL LhaL Minghcllas
lm noL only provokcd inLcrcsL in a ncw work by Lhc acclaimcd
dirccLor o Acadcmy Awardwinning Te Fng|sh Patent (:jj6)
buL also dirccLcd rcncwcd aLLcnLion Lo PaLricia HighsmiLh, an
Amcrican wriLcr whosc rcqucnLly violcnL, oLcn sccmingly mis-
anLhropic cLion has long bccn cclcbraLcd in Furopc buL whosc
rcpuLaLion has sucrcd in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs largcly bccausc o
Lhc suspcnsc/mysLcry/crimc labcl aLLachcd Lo hcr cLion.
Iikc many oLhcr rcvicwcrs and criLics (scc, c.g., Shorc and
DuponL), Clapp poinLs ouL LhaL HighsmiLhs criLical rcpuLaLion
has bccn ambiguous (j) and LhaL hcr books wcrc always morc
succcssul in Furopc Lhan in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs (j6). Rcgarding
HighsmiLhs di culLics as a liLcrary gurc in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs,
Michacl Bronski Lcllingly poinLs ouL LhaL Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs has
sccn no lcss Lhan vc aLLcmpLcd HighsmiLh rcvivals [bcLwccn
:j, and :jj], cach wiLh Lhc rc-rclcasc o back LiLlcs and a ood
o aLLcndanL rcvicws and laudaLory arLiclcs (i). IncidcnLally, in
Lhc wakc o Minghcllas lm, HighsmiLhs work undcrwcnL ycL
anoLhcr comcback. In conjuncLion wiLh Lhc hardcovcr publica-
Lion o Te Se|ected Stores oj Patrca Hghsmth (ioo:) and Noth-
ng Tat Meets the Fye. Te 0nco||ected Stores oj Patrca Hghsmth
(iooi), NorLon also rcrclcascd a numbcr o HighsmiLhs long ouL-
o-prinL novcls, including Lhc classic Strangers on a Tran (:jo),
and Bloomsbury publishcd Lhc rsL major biography o High-
smiLh, Andrcws Wilsons Peautju| Shadow (ioo). To booL, LhaL
samc ycar HighsmiLhs ormcr lovcr Marijanc Mcakcr publishcd
Hghsmth. A Romance oj the :,jos (ioo), a romancc novcl bascd
on Lhcir rclaLionship. Tough iL is Loo carly Lo asscss Lhc longcviLy
and impacL o Lhis mosL rcccnL comcback, iL sccms doubLul LhaL
iL will radically alLcr hcr marginal sLaLus in U.S. lcLLcrs.
Morc crucially or my argumcnL, Lhc inLcrcsL in Minghcllas
Sera|zng vo|ence 8j
lm and HighsmiLhs cLion as arLiculaLcd in Lhc pagcs o Lhc
largcr naLional ncwspapcrs and culLural magazincs has consis-
LcnLly bccn ramcd around Lhc qucsLions o mora|ty and udg-
ment. TaL is, rcgardlcss o Lhc criLics cvaluaLivc rcsponsc Lo Lhc
lm adapLaLion o HighsmiLhs ourLh novcl, almosL all o Lhcm
clL compcllcd Lo poinL ouL LhaL Lhc lm cnds wiLh Lhc murdcr-
ous proLagonisL, Tom Riplcy, rcmaining aL largc. For cxamplc,
Rich spcculaLcs LhaL Lhc sLudios moLivc in rclcasing Lhc lm on
ChrisLmas Day aLLcmpLcd Lo appcal Lo an audicncc inLcrcsLcd in
Lhc sLar powcr o Lhc lm bcorc Lhcrc [was] Limc or Loo much
backlash ovcr iLs crccpincss, iLs violcncc, iLs homocroLic scxual-
iLy and iLs dcancc o Lhc moral closurc usually providcd by big-
budgcL Hollywood cnLcrLainmcnLs. Iikcwisc, in rcporLing on Lhc
producLion o Lhc lm, Tomson inorms his rcadcrs LhaL Te
Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey had problcms wiLh iLs cnding. Somc pcoplc
havc clL LhaL jusLicc should bc scrvcd. Hcrc, Tompson alludcs
Lo Lhc acL LhaL an unabashcdly amoral killcr cscaping jusL
punishmcnL musL bc considcrcd raLhcr rcmarkablccvcn aLcr
LhirLy ycars o ncw violcncc in Amcrican cincmagivcn LhaL
onc o Hollywoods unspokcn rulcs dicLaLcs LhaL crimc musL bc
punishcd.
3
InLcrcsLingly, Minghclla himscl considcrs his lm in
morc LradiLionally moral Lcrms, pace Lhc public discoursc cmcrg-
ing rom his adapLaLion. Hc bclicvcs LhaL Riplcys cscapc aL Lhc
cnd o Lhc lm consLiLuLcs his punishmcnL par cxccllcncc. As hc
claims in an inLcrvicw wiLh Sght and Sound, I was charmcd by
Lhc idca o a ccnLral characLcr who could commiL murdcr and gcL
away wiLh iL. ILs noL LhaL I cnjoy Lhc amoraliLy o LhaL. I wanLcd Lo
say LhaL gettng away wth t s hs punshment (1amcs, My Bloody
ValcnLinc :6, my cmphasis). Iikcwisc, Bronski argucs LhaL, in
Lhc nal analysis, Lhc lm rcmains vcry sac () and conscr-
vaLivccspccially comparcd Lo Lhc unabashcdly amoral univcrsc
o Lhc novcl. In shorL, no maLLcr whaL oLhcr issucs Lhc criLical
rcccpLion o Minghcllas lm addrcsscd, Lhc ovcrall rcacLion Lo iL
clcarly orcgroundcd Lhc issuc o judgmcnLspccically Lhc lack
o punishmcnL o Tom Riplcyas a kcy qucsLion o inLcrcsL and
conccrn in Lhc conLcxL o Lhc lms LrcaLmcnL o violcncc.
Sera|zng vo|ence jo
In Lhc casc o BrcL FasLon Flliss work, onc mighL arguc LhaL
Lhc conccrn wiLh judgmcnL is almosL cxclusivcly onc or and o
criLicism. Fllis docs noL appcar Lo LhcmaLizc dirccLly Lhc qucs-
Lion o judgmcnL as such, or nonc o his proLagonisLsmosL ccr-
Lainly noL PaLrick BaLcman or VicLor Ward, Lhc main characLcr o
C|amorama (:jjj)could carc lcss abouL Lhc amoraliLy o Lhcir
violcnL acLions. My discussion o Amercan Psycho is Lhus mainly
conccrncd wiLh working ouL how criLicism crucially inLcrsccLs
wiLh cLional producLions o violcncc and whaL happcns whcn iL
dcploys judgmcnL as iLs main Lool o analysis o Lhis cLional vio-
lcncc. IcsL iL appcar LhaL judgmcnL is always mcrcly an cxLcrnal
conccrn, onc broughL Lo Lhc LcxL by (criLical) rcadcrs and vicwcrs,
howcvcr, I wanL Lo dirccL closcr aLLcnLion Lo HighsmiLhs work as
a mcans o showing LhaL cLion iLscl has Lhc capaciLy Loand in-
dccd docsconronL Lhc issuc and pracLicc o judgmcnL. PaLricia
HighsmiLh, I Lhink, mighL bc bcsL rcad as a clinically cold scicnLisL
whosc cLion consLiLuLcs hcr laboraLory in which shc invcnLs di-
crcnL modcs o rcsponsc Lo violcncc and, in so doing, LcsLs Lhcir
cccLs.
+
As my bric rccalling o Lhc criLical rcccpLion o Minghcllas lm
adapLaLion is mcanL Lo insinuaLc, HighsmiLhs work also has
bccn Lhc ocus or a Lypc o criLicism conccrncd wiLh moraliLy
and judgmcnL.
4
Howcvcr, in Lhis chapLcr I am lcss conccrncd wiLh
Lhc criLicism o HighsmiLhs work or o iLs many cincmaLic ad-
apLaLions.
5
InsLcad, I wanL Lo work Lhrough HighsmiLhs cLion
Lo scc how iL problcmaLizcs judgmcnL as a modc o rcsponsc Lo
violcncc. Indccd, my inLcrcsL in Lurning Lo PaLricia HighsmiLh
cmcrgcs rom Lhc acL LhaL Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL accLcd
HighsmiLh Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL shc can bc said Lo havc wclcomcd
iL as Lhc dcning problcmaLic o hcr cnLirc ocuvrc. In LhaL scnsc,
HighsmiLh pracLiccs whaL wc mighL call a FoucaulLcan cLhics, or
hc, Loo, conccivcd o his work as a scqucnLial cncounLcr wiLh di-
cring prob|ematques LhaL, in his words, musL bc vicwcd noL so
Sera|zng vo|ence j:
much as bad Lhan as dangcrous (Foucau|t Reader ). Mi-
chcl FoucaulL, jusL likc Cillcs Dclcuzc, LhoughL LhaL a problcm
docs noL cxisL, aparL rom iLs soluLions (Lerence and Repetton
:6).
6
In oLhcr words, Lhc LhcorcLical conccpLion o problcms/
soluLions ocrcd by Lhcsc Lwo Frcnch philosophcrs casLs Lhc cx-
isLcncc o boLh problcm and soluLion on Lhc samc planc o im-
mancncc. Hcncc, Lhc only way ouL is Lhrough. You cannoL nd a
soluLion Lo a problcm in Lhc soluLion o anoLhcr problcm raiscd
aL anoLhcr momcnL (Foucau|t Reader ). And Lhis is csscnLially
HighsmiLhs modc o rcsponsc Lo hcr problcmaLic o judgmcnL.
Tc soluLions shc ocrs, novcl by novcl, sLory by sLory, arc con-
sisLcnLly ormulaLcd through hcr cncounLcr wiLh Lhc qucsLion o
violcnccan cncounLcr LhaL, duc Lo iLs clinical coldncss, onc may
vcry wcll call masochisLic. TaL is, ovcr Lhc coursc o a orLy-vc-
ycar-long wriLing carccr in which shc produccd LwcnLy-Lwo nov-
cls, scvcn books o shorL cLion, and hcr how Lo manual P|ot-
tng and wrtng oj Suspense Fcton (:j8), HighsmiLh obscssivcly
rcormulaLcd hcr problcmaLic, rcpcaLcdly puL iL Lo Lhc LcsL, and,
in Lhc proccss, scrially rccongurcd Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL as
always and alrcady bcing shoL Lhrough wiLh Lhc qucsLion o vio-
lcncc.
7
In acL, or HighsmiLh, Lhc qucsLions o judgmcnL and violcncc
arc immancnL Lo cach oLhcr, somcLhing LhaL will bccomc clcarcr
oncc wc cxaminc Lhc movcmcnL o HighsmiLhs ovcrall work
raLhcr Lhan ocus on any givcn LcxL as Lhc locus or inLcrprcLaLion.
Tc movcmcnL o HighsmiLhs cLion indicaLcs LhaL hcr rcsponsc
Lo Lhc qucsLion o violcncc is lcss and lcss characLcrizcd by Lhc dc-
sirc Lo supcrimposc somc sorL o judgmcnL aL Lhc cnd, no maLLcr
how LcnLaLivc, implausiblc, or irrclcvanL Lo Lhc largcr cccL o hcr
LcxLs iL may appcar. MosL o hcr carly novcls sLill cnd by passing
judgmcnL on Lhc violcnL main characLcrs. In Lhcsc novcls, judg-
mcnL is dishcd ouL in Lhc orm o suicidc, capLurc by law cnorcc-
mcnL, or violcnL dcaLh aL Lhc hands o somconc clsc. Hcr work o
Lhc sccond hal o hcr carccr, howcvcr, incrcasingly Lurns Lo Tom
Riplcys characLcr (our ouL o hcr lasL Lcn novcls conccrn him),
who conLinucs Lo cscapc judgmcnLby Lhc characLcrs in Lhc LcxL
Sera|zng vo|ence ji
as wcll as Lhc novcls auLhor. InLcrcsLingly cnough, HighsmiLhs
own sLaLcmcnLs madc in hcr :j8 noncLion book suggcsL LhaL
by Lhcn, rclaLivcly laLc in hcr carccr, shc was ablc Lo grasp hcr c-
Lional cndcavor in Lhcsc vcry Lcrms. Shc claims noL only LhaL shc
is inLcrcsLcd in moraliLy, providing iL isnL prcachcd (P|ottng
and wrtng :o) buL also LhaL crcaLivc pcoplc do noL pass moral
judgmcnLaL lcasL noL aL onccon whaL mccLs Lhcir cyc. Tcrc
is Limc or LhaL laLcr in whaL Lhcy crcaLc, i Lhcy arc so inclincd,
buL arL csscnLially has noLhing Lo do wiLh moraliLy, convcnLions
or moralizing (i). Indccd, shc nds Lhc public passion or jus-
Licc quiLc boring and arLicial, or nciLhcr lic nor naLurc carc i
jusLicc is cvcr donc or noL (6). For HighsmiLh, Lhcn, Lhc Lask is
Lo suspcnd Lhc cmcrgcncc o judgmcnL, insisLing LhaL iLs Limc is
always mcrcly LhaL o a Limc Lo comc, LhaL is, o a uLurc momcnL
LhaL is ycL Lo bc dcLcrmincd.
In whaL ollows, I will invcsLigaLc Lhc LrajccLory o HighsmiLhs
cLion wiLh an cmphasis on Lhc Riplcy novcls in ordcr Lo work
ouL how onc spccic Amcrican posLwar wriLcr o violcnL cLion
makcs Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL hcr own as a qucsLion o violcncc
only Lo arrivc aL an incrcasingly immancnL modc o rcsponsc Lo
Lhis doublc problcmaLic. HighsmiLhs violcnL cLion incrcasingly
conccivcs o Lhc possibiliLy or rcsponding Lo violcncc only as an
accLivc pracLicc, as an cncounLcr occurring on Lhc vcry planc o
immancncc LhaL is shoL Lhrough wiLh violcncc. Tis implics LhaL
(or HighsmiLh) judgmcnL, a pracLicc always in nccd or a rcprc-
scnLaLional posiLion ouLsidc LhaL which is Lo bc judgcd or iL Lo bc
cccLivc and morally sound, has bccomc an impossibiliLy and
implausibiliLy.
In LhaL, hcr cLion crucially parallcls Lhc largcr culLural, cco-
nomical, social, and poliLical dcvclopmcnL mappcd ouL by Michacl
HardL and AnLonio Ncgri in Lhcir inucnLial sLudy o conLcmpo-
rary capiLalisms modc o powcr, Fmpre, which iLscl is crucially
inormcd by Dclcuzc and CuaLLaris work. 1usL as iL bccomcs cs-
scnLially mcaninglcss or HighsmiLh Lo allow or any judgmcnL
Lo bc passcd on hcr violcnL, amoral characLcrs as hcr work movcs
inLo Lhc laLc :j6os and onward, so HardL and Ncgri arguc LhaL iL
Sera|zng vo|ence j
is poliLically mcaninglcss, indccd dangcrous, Lo pracLicc a Lypc o
sociopoliLical rcsponsc Lo capiLalisms ows LhaL is noL immancnL,
LhaL insLcad lays claim Lo a LransccndcnL posiLion o judgmcnL,
which, pcrhaps, mighL havc providcd a viablc poliLical posiLion
in prcvious cras o Amcrican socicLy. And jusL as onc o Lhc mosL
crucial poliLical implicaLions o Fmpre is LhaL wc musL bccomc ca-
pablc o rcsponding dicrcnLly Lo Lhis undamcnLally ncw modc
o powcr pcrmcaLing conLcmporary socicLy, so HighsmiLhs work
produccs an Fmpirical pcdagogy o violcncc. Hcr ocuvrc aL-
LcmpLs Lo accLLhaL is, Lo Lrain or habiLuaLcrcadcrs so LhaL
Lhcy bccomc capablc o cncounLcring hcr cLional violcncc in a
dicrcnL manncr: carcully aLLuncd Lo Lhc changcs occurring on
Lhc largcr sociopoliLical planc o Fmpirc.
Tc ollowing sccLions will build a map o HighsmiLhs work,
bcginning wiLh a Lclling biographical anccdoLc, ollowcd by a
carcul and cxLcndcd analysis o hcr mosL amous novcl, which,
in Lurn, will lcad Lo a morc gcncral discussion o hcr works Lrajcc-
Lory and iLs cLhicopcdagogical rcsponscs in conjuncLion wiLh Lhc
Fmpirc Lhcsis. I Lhc call o Lhc lasL chapLcrs was Lo hccd accL
as a crucial orcc criLicism musL rcspond Lo, Lhis chapLcr providcs
onc cxLcndcd cxamplc in LhaL iL rcsponds Lo Lhc ntenstesLhc
spccd and slowncss, movcmcnL and rhyLhmo HighsmiLhs
work, wiLh all iLs inLcrrupLions, scdimcnLaLions, muLaLions, and
amplicaLions. Violcncc, as imagcd in HighsmiLhs work, cnds
up bcing incrcasingly scvcrcd rom any mcaning. TaL is, Lhc
cLional violcncc iLscl opcraLcs wiLhouL bcing rcLcrriLorializcd
onLo Lhc LransccndcnLal planc o mcaningo rcprcscnLaLion
and Lhus qucsLions Lhosc cxplanaLory apparaLuscs LhaL prcLcnd
Lo undcrsLand iLs (noncxisLcnL) mcaning.
Violence, Judgment, and Writing
Rcadcrs amiliar wiLh PaLricia HighsmiLhs work mighL havc comc
across an oL-ciLcd sLory LhaL may vcry wcll havc had ormaLivc
conscqucnccs or hcr obscssivc rcLurn Lo Lhc issucs o moraliLy,
Sera|zng vo|ence j
judgmcnL, and violcncc. IL appcars LhaL shc was an unwclcomc
child. According Lo HighsmiLh, hcr moLhcr Lricd Lo aborL hcr by
drinking LurpcnLinc vc monLhs bcorc hcr birLh: Shc rcally
Lricd Lo gcL rid o iL [Lhc cLus]shc Lold mc! ddnt mnd. Shc
said, ILs unny you adorc Lhc smcll o LurpcnLinc, PaL. Bccausc
shc drank LurpcnLinc bcorc I was born Lrying Lo havc a miscar-
riagc. ! ddnt mnd one bt (DuponL 6i, my cmphascs). In Lhc cnd,
wc can only spcculaLc abouL how scriously shc was accLcd by
Lhis knowlcdgc, cspccially in lighL o Lhc acL LhaL shc madc Lhis
sLaLcmcnL as an adulL, Lhus raising Lhc possibiliLy LhaL hcr cLion
mighL havc accLcd hcr vicw o hcr biography. IL is Lhcrcorc noL
Lhc LruLh valuc o hcr biographical sLaLcmcnL LhaL should conccrn
us hcrc buL hcr sty|e o rcsponsc Lo Lhc narraLcd cvcnL iLscl, or
whaL sLicks ouL in HighsmiLhs bric rccounLing o Lhis childhood
incidcnL is hcr doublc asscrLion LhaL shc didnL mind. In oLhcr
words, shc was noL boLhcrcd by Lhis piccc o inormaLion, by hcr
moLhcrs inLcnLions, and, prcsumably, by hcr moLhcrs acLion. To
HighsmiLh, hcr moLhcrs violcnL inLcnLions and conscqucnL ac-
Lions wcrc whaL Lhcy wcrcrcgardlcss o whcLhcr shc likcd Lhcm
or noL, rcgardlcss o whcLhcr shc considcrcd hcr moLhcr Lcrriblc
or noL.
ManicsLing an insLancc o Lruly immancnL rcsponsc, High-
smiLh rcplicd Lo hcr moLhcrs aLLcmpL aL doing away wiLh hcr
by doing away wiLh judgmcnL. InsLcad o judging hcr moLhcr,
shc counLcrs Lhc knowlcdgc o hcr moLhcrs violcnL inLcnLions
wiLh a sLubborn insouciancc LhaL rcuscs Lo rcgard Lhc cvcnL as
any morc painul Lhan iL acLually was or is. ConLinually judging
hcr moLhcr likcly would havc Lrappcd hcr in an cndlcss Ocdipal
drama LhaL consLanLly rcLurncd Lo iLscl, Lhus blocking hcr rom
Lruly cxpcrimcnLing wiLh Lhc qucsLion o violcncc.
S
As Dclcuzc
argucs LhroughouL his carccr, crcaLing somcLhing o rcal valuc
is, in acL, always a qucsLion o rigorous cxpcrimcnLaLion, iL is
ncvcr a qucsLion o judging oLhcr cxisLing bcings, buL o scns-
ing whcLhcr Lhcy agrcc or disagrcc wiLh us, LhaL is, whcLhcr Lhcy
bring orccs Lo us, or whcLhcr Lhcy rcLurn us Lo Lhc miscrics o
war, Lo Lhc povcrLy o Lhc drcam, Lo Lhc rigors o organizaLion
Sera|zng vo|ence j
(To Havc Donc :). As i Lo illusLraLc Lhc philosophcrs argu-
mcnL, HighsmiLhs BarLlcbycsquc I would prccr noL Lo Lypc o
rcsponsc manicsLs Lhc LransormaLion o Lhc singulariLy o Lhis
parLicular violcnL cvcnL inLo a producLivc cxpcrimcnLal cnginc
or hcr cLion, or imaginaLivcly invcsLigaLing Lhc rclaLionship
bcLwccn violcncc and judgmcnL.
0
To rcpcaL, I am not suggcsLing LhaL wc Lurn Lo HighsmiLhs bi-
ography in ordcr Lo locaLc an allcgcd originary cxpcricncc LhaL
mighL cxplain hcr apparcnL obscssion wiLh violcncc, doing so
would immcdiaLcly rcducc Lhc qucsLion o violcncc Lo Lhc planc
o rcprcscnLaLion. RaLhcr, I wanL Lo call aLLcnLion Lo Lhc sty|e o
cngagcmcnL iLscl LhaL Lhis anccdoLc displays and LhaL, as wc will
scc, crucially rcsonaLcs wiLh hcr cLional work. Hcncc, raLhcr Lhan
rcducing hcr ascinaLion wiLh violcncc Lo onc biographical cvcnL
along Lhc linc o Lhc always popular rcLurn o Lhc rcprcsscd
Lhcsis, I Lhink wc musL hccd Lhc atttude HighsmiLh Lhc wriLcr
arLiculaLcs in rcsponsc Lo hcr cncounLcr wiLh pcrsonal violcncc,
all Lhc morc so bccausc shc rcpcaLcdly displays Lhc samc aLLiLudc
whcn shc conccpLualizcs Lhc acL o wriLing. 1usL likc hcr rcsponsc
Lo a orm o violcncc shc has bccn privy Lo hcrscl is markcd by a
rcmarkablc abscncc o (moral) judgmcnL, so hcr aLLiLudc Loward
Lhc crcaLivc acL o wriLing abouL violcncc is shoL Lhrough wiLh
Lhc impcraLivc Lo kccp judgmcnL and amily hisLory aL bay. High-
smiLh dismisscd any corrclaLion bcLwccn hcr biography and work
and quiLc obviously rcjccLcd Lhc wriLc whaL you know school
o crcaLivc wriLing promoLcd by counLlcss rrt programs in Lhc
UniLcd SLaLcs LhaL cmcrgcd in Lhc aLcrmaLh o Lhc succcss o Lhc
concssional wriLcrs such as Sylvia PlaLh, Ann ScxLon, or RobcrL
Iowcll. Shc rcpcaLcdly dcclarcd LhaL hcr idcas arc noL rclaLcd Lo
whcrc I was born, or Lo Lhc amily, and, I musL say, I misLrusL
wriLcrs who usc Lhcir amily bccausc I Lhink Lhcyrc noL imagi-
naLivc (DuponL 6:). HighsmiLh csscnLially arLiculaLcs LhaL hcr
obscssion wiLh Lhc ncxus judgmcnL-violcncc docs noL so much
rcprcscnL a working Lhrough o somc kind o Ocdipal conicL as
iL consLiLuLcs a rcsponsc Lo a singular cvcnL in hcr lic (rcgard-
lcss o Lhc dcgrcc o iLs possiblc cLionalizaLion), onc LhaL unc-
Sera|zng vo|ence j6
Lions as a provocaLion along Lhc lincs o a NicLzschcan arrow o
LhoughL LhaL musL bc caughL and shoL orLh again in a dicrcnL
dirccLion.
l0
In oLhcr words, I am noL suggcsLing HighsmiLh licd
abouL Lhis cvcnL. RaLhcr, givcn Lhc Liming o Lhc sLaLcmcnLs uL-
Lcrancc, iL sccms cnLircly possiblc LhaL Lo HighsmiLh Lhc cvcnL
had bccomc ycL anoLhcr violcnL sLory Lo bc Loldonc LhaL docs
noL bcar cxplanaLory powcr buL LhaL posscsscs a ccrLain orcc
Lo soliciL rcsponscs. Tc cvcnL, in shorL, could bc considcrcd Lo
uncLion as a provocaLion, a prob|ematque. RaLhcr Lhan sccking
iL ouL, iL ound hcr, Lhus Lransorming hcr lic. Tc Lransorming
cvcnL, Lhough, ccascd Lo bc pcrsonal or hcr and rcmaincd ccc-
Livc mcrcly as an accidcnL LhaL bccomcs an cxpcrimcnL in which
Lhc world around hcr parLicipaLcs.
Rcmarkablc in LhaL HighsmiLh dcploys Lhis conccpL o abio-
graphical wriLing around Lhc issuc o violcncconc LhaL habiLu-
ally Lcnds Lo bc rcad by criLics Lhrough Lhc lcns o somc sorL o
LransccndcnLal signicr, bc iL locaLcd in amily or social oncs (Oc-
dipus, cconomic rclaLions, racc conicLs, gcndcr issucs)iL pro-
vidcs a crucial conccpL or my purposcs in LhaL iL links Lhc issuc o
how criLical languagc rcsponds Lo violcncc in cLional LcxLs and
Lhc dicrcnLial philosophy o Dclcuzc LhaL undcrlics much o my
diagnosis. Whcrcas Dclcuzc Lcachcs us a Lhoroughly arcprcscn-
LaLional cngagcmcnL wiLh languagc (as argucd in Lhc prcccding
chapLcr), HighsmiLh providcs a casc in poinL by pushing Lhc idca
Lo iLs limiL cascviolcnccLhaL Lcnds Lo dirccL any rcsponsc
immcdiaLcly inLo a dcmand or cxplanaLion, undcrsLanding, and
judgmcnL. BuL boLh HighsmiLh and Dclcuzc rcjccL Lhis approach.
1usL as HighsmiLh disdains rccoursc Lo hcr biography as a mcans
or cxplaining hcr cLional world, so Dclcuzc proclaims LhaL Lo
wriLc is noL Lo rccounL oncs mcmorics and Lravcls, oncs lovcs
and grics, oncs drcams and anLasics. [ . . . ] Wc do noL wriLc
wiLh our ncuroscs (IiLcraLurc and Iic i).
ll
In oLhcr words,
i wc puL Lhcsc Lwo philosophics o wriLing in closc proximiLy Lo
Lhc qucsLion o violcncc, wc sLarL mobilizing a LhoughL or modc
o rcsponsc LhaL is lcss inLcrcsLcd in whaL a parLicular incidcncc
o cLional violcncc mcans Lhan in how iL opcraLcs.
Sera|zng vo|ence j,
+
Tc rsL Lhing Lo bc markcd abouL HighsmiLhs violcnL cLion is
Lhc obscssivc qualiLy o hcr inccssanL rcLurn Lo approaching Lhc
qucsLion o judgmcnL as a qucsLion o violcnccoLcn markcd
in Lcrms o characLcrs guilL pcrccivcd ciLhcr by Lhcmsclvcs or
Lhcir surroundings. HighsmiLh hcrscl is Lhc rsL Lo acknowlcdgc
Lhc rcpcLiLivcncss o hcr cLion: Wcll, sincc I was sixLccn or scv-
cnLccn, Ivc bccn wriLing Lhc samc kind o sLorics (Hochkcppcl
:8, my LranslaLion). WhaL, Lhcn, arc Lhcsc sLorics, and how docs
Lhc LrajccLory o HighsmiLhs carccr look likc` Arc hcr sLorics rc-
ally Lhc samc, and, i so, whaL is Lhc cccL o iLs rcpcLiLion` Or, i
Lhc sLorics dicr in Lhcir sccming samcncsscspccially around
hcr works kcy qucsLions o judgmcnL and violcnccLhcn whaL
arc Lhc spccic cccLs produccd by Lhis rcpcLiLion`
l2
Hcr mosL amous characLcr, Tom Riplcy, is Lhc LiLlc charac-
Lcr o vc novcls LhaL HighsmiLh publishcd bcLwccn :j and
:jj:. Civcn Lhc singulariLy o Lhis scrializaLionHighsmiLh
ncvcr wroLc abouL anoLhcr ccnLral characLcr morc Lhan oncciL
pcrhaps makcs scnsc Lo bcgin Lhinking abouL Lhc qucsLions o
judgmcnL and violcncc as Lhcy arc posiLcd and accLcd by Lhis
scrializaLion. CriLicism on HighsmiLh has rcpcaLcdly argucd LhaL
Tom Riplcy is HighsmiLhs mosL amoral characLcr, a man who is
unabashcdly unconccrncd abouL his rcqucnLly violcnL acLions.
KakuLani, or insLancc, complains LhaL Lhc laLcr Riplcy novcls
lack psychological rcalism and LhaL Lhc incrcasing improbabiliLy
o Riplcys acLions in Lhc laLcr novcls havc Lurncd him inLo an
ouL-and-ouL madman: a sadisL [ . . . ] a Lhrill-sccking murdcrcr.
Shc suggcsLs LhaL Lhis cxccss o amoraliLy inviLcs rcadcrs Lo ccl
smug and morally supcrior: a aLal aw in jusL abouL any novcl.
KaLhlccn Crcgory Klcin claims LhaL Riplcy is noL immoral buL
Lhoroughly amoral, hc acccpLs no sLandards o judgmcnL (:j).
FurLhcr, bccausc Tom Riplcy, likc cw oLhcr HighsmiLh proLago-
nisLs, is a calculaLing criminal whosc bchavior is boLh conscious
and dclibcraLc, hc poscs a dilcmma or Lhc rcadcr (:j). Tus,
ocusing on Lhis scrics as iL uncLions wiLhin Lhc largcr conLcxL
Sera|zng vo|ence j8
o HighsmiLhs ovcrall work mighL providc a producLivc cnLry
inLo Lhc problcmaLic o judgmcnL and violcncc as HighsmiLh con-
ccivcs iL.
Indccd, as I will arguc, Lhc Riplcy scrics noL only marks Lhc
ntenscaton o HighsmiLhs problcmaLic buL uncLions as brcak-
downspoinLs o singulariLy aL which LransormaLions occur
in hcr ovcrall carccr. Tc rcpcLiLion LhaL characLcrizcs hcr ocuvrc
aL largc is inLcnsicd in and Lhrough onc dramaLic pcrsona, buL
Lhis vcry inLcnsicaLion is iLscl amplicd Lhrough scrializcd rcp-
cLiLion. Fach Limc HighsmiLh rcachcs Lhis brcaking poinL, somc-
Lhing in hcr approach Lo hcr problcmaLic is bcing Lransormcd.
In Lhis, shc dcvclops an cLhics o wriLingand, in Lurn, produccs
an cLhics o rcadingLhaL is characLcrizcd by a paLicnL, cxpcri-
mcnLal, immancnL cncounLcr wiLh Lhc problcms shc accs LhaL I
considcr cxcmplary o Lhc kind o masocriLical cLhics I havc bccn
dclincaLing Lhus ar. HighsmiLh avoids applying wholcsalc onc
soluLion Lo hcr problcmaLic in all o hcr work, or shc knows LhaL
hcr problcmaLic consLanLly muLaLcs, a muLaLion conLingcnL on
hcr socioculLural cnvironmcnL as wcll as hcr cvoluLion as an arL-
isL and pcrson. In avoiding Lhis cLhicopoliLical aux pas, shc also
inviLcs, i noL dcmands, hcr rcadcrs Lo inhabiL morc carcully Lhc
LrajccLory o hcr work.
In csscncc, hcr work aLLcmpLs Lo accL rcadcrs so LhaL Lhcy will
bcgin Lo habiLuaLc ncw rcading pracLiccs LhaL allow or spccic rc-
sponscs Lo spccic problcms. Crucially, Lhis cmcrging pracLicc o
rcsponsc opcraLcs wiLhouL any rccoursc Lo somc ovcrriding uni-
vcrsal soluLions LhaL somchow dcclarc Lhc inhcrcnL badncss o
Lhc problcm aL hand. As iL Lurns ouL, HighsmiLhs problcmaLic
rcmains LhroughouL hcr carccr how Lo cncounLcr orccs o judg-
mcnL as a modc o rcsponsc Lo insLanccs o violcncc. As arLicu-
laLcd in hcr cncounLcr wiLh hcr moLhcrs concssion as wcll as in
hcr propcrly cLional work, iL sccms LhaL shc indccd pracLiccd
somcLhing akin Lo a FoucaulLcan cLhics o problcmaLizaLion char-
acLcrizcd by producing spccic rcsponscs bascd on spccic diag-
noscs. Tis pracLicc o prob|ematques bccomcs Lhc driving orcc
o HighsmiLhs wriLing, and iL is Lhis orcc LhaL will Lransorm hcr
Sera|zng vo|ence jj
soluLions, LhaL will orcc hcr Lo rcdcscribc Lhc problcm, Lo rccon-
ccivc o hcr answcrs, indccd Lo posiL onc answcr only Lo rcLracL
rom iL or a whilc bcorc rcLurning Lo iL in changcd orm as a ncw
soluLion Lo a ncw problcm.
+
A prcliminary ovcrvicw in Lcrms o whaL happcns Lo Lhc violcncc
in hcr carly novcls conrms my dcscripLion o Lhis HighsmiLhcan
pracLicc o wriLing. Tc Lhrcc novcls shc wroLc bcorc Te Ta|ented
Mr. Rp|ey all cnd in a clcan rcsoluLion. Strangers on a Tran (:jo)
caLurcs Lhc accidcnLal dcaLh o onc murdcrcr (Bruno) and Lhc
capLurc by a Lricky dcLccLivc o Lhc oLhcr (Cuy). Te Prce oj Sa|t
(:ji) iLscl is noL conccrncd wiLh cxpliciL violcncc (i.c., murdcr)
buL noncLhclcss rcsolvcs Lhc sLorys main conicL abouL Lhc rcla-
Lionship o a lcsbian couplc by giving iL a happy cnd. Tc ncgaLivc
judgmcnL passcd on Lhc lcsbian lovcrs by Lhcir surroundings is
ulLimaLcly dcscribcd and dccd as hypocriLical.
O coursc, in providing a happy cnd, HighsmiLh violaLcd Lhc
sLandard o lcsbian cLion aL Lhc Limc. As HighsmiLh dcscribcs
Lhis maLLcr in Lhc aLcrword Lo Lhc novcls rcrclcasc in :jjo, now
cnLiLlcd Caro| (wiLh HighsmiLhs own namc nally on Lhc covcr),
Lhc appcal o Te Prce oj Sa|t was LhaL iL had a happy cnding or
iLs Lwo main characLcrs, or aL lcasL Lhcy wcrc going Lo Lry Lo havc a
uLurc LogcLhcr. Prior Lo Lhis book, homoscxuals malc and cmalc
in Amcrican novcls had Lo pay or Lhcir dcviaLion by cuLLing Lhcir
wrisLs, drowning Lhcmsclvcs in a swimming pool, or by swiLching
Lo hcLcroscxualiLy (so iL was sLaLcd), or by collapsingalonc and
miscrablc and shunncdinLo a dcprcssion cqual Lo hcll (i6:).
HighsmiLh claims LhaL shc iniLially publishcd Lhc novcl using hcr
pscudonym, Clairc Morgan, bccausc shc wanLcd Lo avoid Lhc labcl
o a lcsbian book wriLcr (i6:), jusL as shc did noL wanL Lo bc
pigconholcd as a suspcnsc auLhor, ycL, onc suspccLs LhaL Lhc par-
Licular moral climaLc dcscribcd in hcr sLaLcmcnL mighL havc had
an cccL on hcr disowning o Lhc book as wcll.
Fvcn Lhough Te Prce oj Sa|t docs noL caLurc Lhc Lypc o vio-
Sera|zng vo|ence :oo
lcncc mosL o HighsmiLhs work is oLhcrwisc known or, iL ca-
Lurcs Lhc samc basic problcmaLic, albciL in a spccic milicu LhaL
musL bc hccdcd in rcading Lhc novcl. AbouL LhirLy ycars laLcr,
HighsmiLh would rcLurn morc cxpliciLly Lo Lhc qucsLion shc bc-
gan Lo Lacklc in Te Prce oj Sa|t, and Lhis Limc around shc would
dcploy violcncc as a mcans Lo accL Lhc qucsLion dicrcnLly (scc
Found n the Street [:j86] and Sma|| g. a Summer !dy||). Finally, in
Te P|underer (:j), hcr sccond novcl abouL violcncc, an inno-
ccnL man (WalLcr SLockhousc) is judgcd guilLy by Lhc policc and
shoL dcad by Lhc acLually guilLy man (Crcgor Kimmcl), who, in
Lurn, mccLs violcnL dcaLh as wcll.
In oLhcr words, all Lhrcc novcls nd a rclaLivcly ncaL rcsolu-
Lion Lo Lhcir rcspccLivc ploLs. In conLrasL, Lhc rsL Riplcy novcl
cnds wiLh Riplcy, Lhcn mcrcly a doublc murdcrcr, aL largc, Lhus
allowing or Lhc possibiliLy o uLurc sLorics abouL him. WhaL
happcns in Lhis LransormaLion is LhaL or rcadcrs Lhc arrival o
plcasurc (aordcd by Lhc momcnL whcn a LcxL inviLcs us Lo cxpc-
ricncc Lhc ccrLainLy o sound judgmcnL) is dccrrcd by Lhc acL
LhaL LradiLional rcadcr cxpccLaLions arc violaLcd (lack o rcsolu-
Lion) and, cvcn morc painully or us, LhaL wc havc bccn madc Lo
ccl sympaLhcLic Lowards Lhc schcming doublc murdcrcr Riplcy.
HighsmiLh, LhaL is, pushcs on Lhc conccpLs o guilL and LruLhin
shorL, moraliLyhard cnough or Lhcm Lo crysLallizc Lo Lhc poinL
whcrc nciLhcr appcars Lo maLLcr anymorc. Or, bcLLcr, whcrc judg-
mcnL was closcly Licd Lo Lhc qucsLion o LruLh (including who is
guilLy in whosc cycs), judgmcnL is now rcndcrcd as violcncc.
1usL considcr Lhc dicrcncc bcLwccn Strangers on a Tran and
Te P|underer. Tc ormcr csscnLially caLurcs HighsmiLhs only
dcLccLivc sLoryLhaL is, a sLory whcrc dcLccLion o Lhc LruLh has
considcrablc narraLivc orcc. Only our ycars laLcr, HighsmiLh rc-
jccLs Lhc conccpL o LruLh as mcaninglcss as Lhc primary locus or
accuraLc judgmcnL prcciscly bccausc shc can show how Lhc orcc
o LruLh is cccLivc rcgardlcss o iLs validiLy or LruLhulncss.
As David Cochran wriLcs, WalLcr, Lhc proLagonisL o Te P|und-
erer, rcalizcs his Lcchnical innoccncc is irrclcvanL in acc o Lhc
acL LhaL hc had ploLLcd [his wic] Claras dcaLh [Lhough hc ncvcr
Sera|zng vo|ence :o:
acLcd on iL], whcrcas Kimmcls acLual guilL [hc killcd his wic] is
similarly irrclcvanL, sincc hc has succccdcd in puLLing Lhc policc
o his Lrail (:ii) and rcdirccLcd aLLcnLion Lo WalLcrs seemng
buL noL acLual guilL. Kimmcl docs Lhis bccausc WalLcr, Lhc blund-
crcr o Lhc novcls LiLlc, inadvcrLcnLly rcopcns Lhc invcsLigaLion
o Lhc dcaLh o Kimmcls wic. Bccausc WalLcr cxacLly imagincs
how Kimmcl had killcd his wic bascd on ncwspapcr rcporLs, bc-
causc Lhis imaging cvcnL lcads his imaginaLion Lo ploL Lhc murdcr
o his wic jusL as Kimmcl did, and bccausc hc lcavcs Lraccs o Lhis
imaginary ploL in his noLcbooks, Lhc policc cvcnLually suspccL
boLh WalLcr and Kimmcl o having murdcrcd Lhcir wivcs.
BuL, and Lhis is onc o Lhc grcaL achicvcmcnLs o Lhc rsL (and
subscqucnL) Riplcy books, HighsmiLh carcully rccongurcs Lhc
qucsLion o judgmcnL as bcing abouL LruLh by now consLrucLing
judgmcnL qua violcncc as an accLivc caLcgory, LhaL is, a maLLcr
o inLcnsiLics. Tc LransormaLion occurring, Lhcn, movcs rom
Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL as an issuc o LruLh, logos, and rcaliLy
Lo Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL as an issuc o and or violcncc, accL,
and simulaLion.
l3
Sincc Lhis LransormaLion is kcy Lo all o hcr work in LhaL iL will
conLinuc Lo rcsonaLc in cvcry book, wc nccd Lo slow down our
mapping proccss aL Lhis sLagc. Bcorc procccding any urLhcr, wc
should nd ouL how cxacLly Lhis LransormaLion happcns as wcll
as whaL iL docs. To Lhis cnd, Lhc ncxL sccLion will closcly cxaminc
Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey, a novcl LhaL allowcd HighsmiLh or Lhc rsL
Limc Lo rcach a singular poinL o LransormaLion. Tis momcnL o
LransormaLion cnds up bcing Lhc consLiLuLivc orcc o Lhc rcsL o
hcr ocuvrc, a body o work LhaL iLincraLcs Lhis LransormaLion as a
prolicraLion o corLs Lo nd rcsponscs Lo hcr basic problcmaLic.
InLcrcsLingly cnough, Lhc rcmaining our Riplcy novcls will allow
hcr Lo achicvc Lhc purcsL momcnLs o Lhis brcaking poinL, buL, as
will hopcully bccomc clcar, Lhcsc momcnLs could noL havc bccn
rcachcd had iL noL bccn or HighsmiLhs inccssanL rcpcLiLion o
hcr basic sLory wiLh all Lhcir rcLracLions, hcsiLaLions, or, pcrhaps,
accommodaLions Lo spccic gcnrc cxpccLaLions.
l4
In oLhcr words, Lhc acL o rcpcLiLion iLscl cnds up opcraLing
Sera|zng vo|ence :oi
as a pcdagogical mcchanism. InsLcad o caLcring Lo an cxisLing
audicncc who is alrcady capablc o acccpLing HighsmiLhs spccic
rcsponsc Lo Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL and violcncc as muLually in-
orming cach oLhcr, HighsmiLh rclcnLlcssly produccs hcr audicncc
as ycL Lo comc. Tc largcr movcmcnL o hcr work aLLcsLs LhaL shc
was vcry wcll in Lunc wiLh Lhc likclihood LhaL rcadcrs would noL
bc ablc Lo ollow hcr mosL radical soluLions i shc wcrc noL Lo Lrain
Lhcm in how Lo rcad hcr cLion. In csscncc, shc produccs whaL
Dclcuzc dcscribcs as minor liLcraLurca liLcraLurc dcscribcd by
Lhc producLion o spccch acLs LhaL crcaLc Lhcmsclvcs as a orcign
languagc in a dominanL languagc, prcciscly in ordcr Lo cxprcss an
impossibiliLy o living undcr dominaLion (Cnema i ii).
l5
As an
Amcrican born in Tcxas, parLly raiscd in Ncw York, who livcd mosL
o hcr lic in Fngland, Francc, and SwiLzcrland, who was morc
popular and criLically acclaimcd in Ccrmany and Francc Lhan in
hcr naLivc counLry, HighsmiLh conLinucd Lo wriLc in Fnglish abouL
cLional Amcrican ciLizcns.
l6
BuL shc did so in such a ashion LhaL
allowcd hcr Lo dcvclop a violcnL languagc abouL moraliLy/judg-
mcnL wiLhin Lhc dominanL moral discoursc o Amcrican languagc
as arLiculaLcd in much o Lhc liLcraLurc o hcr Limc, lcL alonc Lhc
poliLico-culLural aLmosphcrc o Lhc :jos (and cvcn laLcr). BuL
pcrhaps prcciscly bccausc HighsmiLhs siLuaLion rcscmblcd LhaL o
a wriLcr such as Kakabcing an cxilc in his own languagcHigh-
smiLh as a wriLcr was noL in a condiLion Lo producc individual uL-
Lcranccs which would bc likc invcnLcd sLorics, buL also, bccausc
Lhc pcoplc arc missing, Lhc auLhor is in a siLuaLion o producing
uLLcranccs which arc alrcady collccLivc, which arc likc Lhc sccds
o Lhc pcoplc Lo comc, and whosc poliLical impacL is immcdiaLc
and incscapablc (Dclcuzc, Cnema i ii:). Tom Riplcy, Lhc liLcrary
pcrsona Lhrough which HighsmiLh was ablc Lo producc hcr minor
moral languagca languagc LhaL conccrns iLscl wiLh Lhc qucs-
Lion o judgmcnLis iLscl Lhc producL o hcr rcpcaLcd cncounLcr
wiLh Lhc condiLions surrounding Lhc possibiliLy or hcr wriLing:
anonymous, collccLivc, poliLical. No wondcr, Lhcn, LhaL HighsmiLh
claimcd shc oLcn had Lhc ccling LhaL Riplcy was wriLing iL and I
was mcrcly Lyping (P|ottng and wrtng ,6).
Sera|zng vo|ence :o
Becoming-Violent
Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey inLroduccs HighsmiLhs rcadcrs Lo Tom
Riplcy, who subscqucnLly will appcar in our morc novcls as Lhc
LiLlc characLcr. In Lhcsc laLcr novcls, Riplcy will havc alrcady suc-
cccdcd aL csLablishing himscl as a rclaLivcly wcalLhy, marricd,
and gcncrally rcspccLcd man lcading a comorLablc, quicL lic in
Lhc counLrysidc noL ar rom Paris. Having gaincd much o his
wcalLh Lhrough his criminal acLiviLics, Riplcy conLinucs Lo bc a-
ccLcd by his violcnL pasL acLions. In conLrasL, our rsL glimpsc
o Riplcy in Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey is o a young man sLruggling
Lo makc cnds mccL wiLh parL-Limc jobs and small-Limc criminal
acLiviLics such as Lhc occasional orging o Lax rccords. His luck
bcgins Lo changc whcn onc day Mr. Richard Crccnlca, a wcalLhy
owncr o a shipbuilding rm, pcrsuadcs him Lo Lravcl Lo ILaly in
ordcr Lo Lalk his son, Dickic, inLo rcLurning Lo Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs
Lo join Crccnlcas company. Riplcy, who is only marginally ac-
quainLcd wiLh Dickic, iniLially succccds aL bccoming ricndly wiLh
Lhc laLLcr. FvcnLually, howcvcr, Lhcir rclaLionship Lurns sour, as
Dickic loscs inLcrcsL in Toms company. Rcsponding Lo Lhis Lrou-
bling Lurn o cvcnLs, Tom murdcrs Dickic and Lhcn assumcs Lhc
laLLcrs idcnLiLy. Tc rcsL o Lhc novcl unolds Lhc conscqucnccs
o Toms violcnL dccd, showing us how hc managcs Lo hold o
boLh Lhc bumbling ILalian policc and Lhosc pcrsonally acquainLcd
wiLh Dickic such as his cmalc ricnd, Margc, his aLhcr, as wcll
as Frcddy Milcs, a good ricnd o Dickics whom Riplcy kills as
wcll oncc hc gcLs Loo closc Lo uncovcring Lhc LruLh. By Lhc cnd o
Lhc novcl, Tom Riplcy, now as himscl again, has murdcrcd Lwo
pcoplc, considcrcd Lhc possibiliLy o killing Lwo morc, and sLill
rcmains aL largc, having succcssully dcccivcd cvcryonc abouL Lhc
lcvcl o his involvcmcnL in Lhcsc murdcrous cvcnLs.
CriLical rcsponscs Lo Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey, including LhaL o
Minghcllas lm, Lcnd Lo highlighL whaL Hilcr has callcd Lhc pro-
Lcan qualiLy o Riplcys amoral characLcr and acLions. BuL whilc iL
is undoubLcdly Lruc LhaL Riplcys criminal succcss has much Lo do
wiLh his abiliLy Lo acL, Lhc parLicular inccLion acLing is givcn in
Sera|zng vo|ence :o
much o HighsmiLh criLicismLhaL is, as an inLcnLional, planncd
cndcavorhas donc liLLlc Lo shcd lighL on whaL, cxacLly, High-
smiLh has accomplishcd wiLh Lhc wriLing o hcr rsL Riplcy novcl.
Dcscribing Riplcys acLions as masLcrul, willing cnacLmcnLs o
rolcs LhaL crasc his rcal idcnLiLy, Lhcsc criLics rcusc Lo considcr
Lhc possibiliLy LhaL idcnLiLy mighL bc noLhing clsc buL a scrics
o pcrormanccsan cndlcss puLLing on and o o masks. Iikc-
wisc, posiLing Riplcys acLions as Lhc ouLcomc o a LalcnLcd acLor
planning his acLions in ordcr Lo advancc his own causc dcploys
an undcrsLanding o acLing bascd on inLcnLional imiLaLion. Tis,
howcvcr, makcs iL di culL Lo accounL or somc o Lhc kcy aectve
momcnLs in Riplcys rapLurous dcvclopmcnL Lo bccoming a vio-
lcnL characLcr LhaL havc noLhing aL all Lo do wiLh making raLional
dccisions, or masLcrminding, as Frlcnc Hubly (:i) suggcsLs.
l7

MosL imporLanL, pcrhaps, Lhc characLcrizaLion o Riplcy as a ra-
Lionally inLcnding subjccL allows us Lo admirc his succcss whilc
disLancing us rom Lhc morc immoral conscqucnccs o his acLions,
wc can admirc and congraLulaLc Riplcy or his grcaL LalcnL whilc
concurrcnLly rcmaining disLanccd rom Lhc cnds Lo which hc puLs
his LalcnLs. YcL, Lhis sorL o sLi-arming o Lhc lcss moral cccLs
ulLimaLcly lcads Lo a rca rmaLion o Lhis moral spacconc noL
occupicd by Riplcy buL, so iL is claimcd, pcrhaps by HighsmiLh and
ccrLainly by Lhc criLicsLhaL has bccn placcd undcr scruLiny by
HighsmiLh in hcr largcr cLional projccL. In Lhc ollowing, Lhcn, I
will show how HighsmiLh rccongurcs moraliLyjudgmcnLin
Lcrms o violcncc as an accLivc caLcgory by morc carcully aL-
Lcnding Lo Riplcys wcll-known LalcnLacLing.
lS
Bcing iniLially borcd, Cod-damncd bloody borcd, borcd,
borcd (8) by Mr. Crccnlcas iniLial proposiLion Lo Lravcl Lo ILaly,
Riplcy soon sccms Lo rcconsidcr his aLLiLudc. His inLcnsc ouL-
pouring o angcrcd cmoLionsarLiculaLcd in his mind as borc-
domquickly subsidcs and givcs way Lo Lhc rsL insLancc o his
abiliLy Lo acL. IisLcning Lo Crccnlcas cxplanaLions, Riplcy soon
gcLs inLo Lhc spiriL (8) o Lhc siLuaLion and bcgins rcsponding
Lo Lhc oldcr mans qucsLions morc carcully, alLcrnaLing bcLwccn
LruLhul sLaLcmcnLs, slighL cxaggcraLions, and aL-ouL lics. Riplcy
Sera|zng vo|ence :o
himscl rcgisLcrs his changc o aLLiLudc. Fccling LhaL his borcdom
had slippcd inLo anoLhcr gcar (j), his hcarL Look a suddcn lcap.
Hc puL on an cxprcssion o rcccLion. IL was a possibiliLy. Some-
thng n hm had sme|t t out and |eapt at t even bejore hs bran (j,
my cmphasis). Tc signicancc o whaL HighsmiLh dcscribcs in
hcr Lypically acLual, almosL mcLaphorlcss prosc (Handkc :,i,
my LranslaLion) cannoL bc undcrcsLimaLcd or Lhc coursc o Lhc
novcl and hcr work aL largc, or aL Lhis momcnL Riplcy is shown Lo
rcgisLcr an cncounLcr wiLh whaL a numbcr o LhcorisLs, including
BlanchoL, FoucaulL, and Dclcuzc, havc callcd Lhc ouLsidc: Riplcy
cncounLcrs a orcc (iL) LhaL somcLhing in him had smclL ouL, likc
a sccnL o possibiliLy oozing Lhrough Lhc smoky bar in which Lhcir
mccLing Lakcs placc.
ConLrary Lo many rcsponscs Lo Tom Riplcy claiming LhaL hc
is a proLcan man planning his dccds by dcploying his LalcnL or
acLing, HighsmiLh suggcsLs rom Lhc vcry rsL momcnLs o Lhc
novcl on LhaL Riplcys acLing is noL Licd Lo a plan originaLing in
a prcmcdiLaLcd mood. Hcrc as LhroughouL Lhc novcl, HighsmiLh
narraLcs Riplcys acLions and LhoughLs in accLivc Lcrms: his ccl-
ing o cxLrcmc borcdom, his gcLLing inLo Lhc spiriL (8), his ca-
paciLy Lo bc manically poliLc (j)all o Lhis suggcsLs a rcmark-
ablc narraLivc conguraLion o LhoughL as an aectve proccss.
Dclcuzc is cnlighLcning in Lhis conLcxL:
ToughL is primarily Lrcspass and violcncc. [ . . . ] Do noL
counL upon LhoughL Lo cnsurc Lhc rclaLivc ncccssiLy o
whaL iL Lhinks. RaLhcr, counL upon Lhc conLingcncy o an
cncounLcr wiLh LhaL which orccs LhoughL Lo raisc up and
cducaLc Lhc absoluLc ncccssiLy o an acL o LhoughL or a pas-
sion Lo Lhink. [ . . . ] Somethng n the wor|d jorces us to thnk.
Tis somcLhing is an objccL noL o rccogniLion buL o a
undamcnLal encounter. [WhaLcvcr is cncounLcrcd] may bc
graspcd in a rangc o aectve Loncs: wondcr, lovc, haLrcd,
sucring. In whichcvcr Lonc, iLs primary characLcrisLic is
LhaL iL can only bc scnscd. (Lerence and Repetton :j,
rsL and Lhird cmphascs minc)
Sera|zng vo|ence :o6
Dclcuzcs dcscripLion o Lhc somcLhing in Lhc world [LhaL] orccs
us Lo Lhink capLurcs whaL happcns Lo or wiLh Riplcy in almosL
Lhc samc Lcrms uscd by HighsmiLh: somcLhing in Riplcy scnscs
somcLhing ouLsidc o him. Morc Lhan anyLhing clsc, Riplcy re-
sponds Lo a orcc ouLsidc him. Tis orcc, and noL a raLional dcci-
sion, Lriggcrs his rcsponsc. His acLions hcrc and clscwhcrc can bc
dcscribcd as acLing only i wc conccivc o acLing noL as a proccss
o imiLaLion (rcprcscnLaLion), or Riplcy docs not imiLaLc somc-
Lhing hc has obscrvcd, rcmcmbcrcd, or rccognizcd rom Lhc pasL
LhaL hc now scLs ouL Lo cmulaLc.
InsLcad o Lhc orcc o rccollccLion undcrlying Lhc proccss o
imiLaLion, Lhcn, iL is Dclcuzc and CuaLLaris wcll-known conccpL
o bccoming LhaL can bc said Lo sLrucLurc Toms bchavior.
l0
Bc-
coming, as Lhcy wriLc in A Tousand P|ateaus, is ncvcr imiLaLing
(o), nor has iL anyLhing Lo do wiLh rcscmblancc [or] idcnLica-
Lion (i,). To bccomc-dog you do noL havc Lo bark or wag your
Lail whilc crawling on all ours. Tom Riplcy docs noL havc Lo ac-
quirc Lhc samc acsLhcLic LasLcs LhaL Dickic displaycd Lo bccomc-
Dickic. FurLhcr, bccoming docs noL consLiLuLc an cvoluLionary
proccss, bc iL as a progrcss or rcgrcss, insLcad, bccoming is in-
voluLionary (i8), a mulLipliciLy (ij), a ascinaLion wiLh Lhc
ouLsidc (io), an accL (i,), a capaciLy Lo bccomc accLcd, Lo
cnLcr a zonc o proximiLy (ij). IL is Toms capaciLy Lo rcspond
Lo Lhc orcc o chancc, his inclinaLion Lo cxpcrimcnL, LhaL cnablcs
him Lo cnLcr inLo Lhis zonc wiLh Lhc orcc o Lhc ouLsidc: bccom-
ing always consLiLuLcs an cncounLcr bcLwccn Lwo rcigns, a shorL-
circuiL, Lhc picking-up o a codc whcrc cach is dcLcrriLorializcd
(Dclcuzc and ParncL, La|ogues ). Toms bccoming-Dickic as
manicsLcd in Lhc novcl bccomcs possiblc in rcsponsc Lo his bc-
ing in Lhc middlc o Lhings, wiLhouL a plan buL always pushing on
a vcrsion o sclhood LhaL nciLhcr dcpcnds on nor dcsircs a sLablc
scnsc o scl, nor prcLcnds LhaL Lhc scl cxisLs in any oLhcr vcr-
sion buL as a momcnLary scdimcnLaLion o mulLipliciLy: SLarLing
rom Lhc orms onc has, Lhc subjccL onc is, Lhc organs onc has,
or Lhc uncLions onc ullls, bccoming is Lo cxLracL parLiclcs bc-
Lwccn which onc csLablishcs Lhc rclaLions o movcmcnL and rcsL,
Sera|zng vo|ence :o,
spccd and slowncss LhaL arc closcsL Lo whaL onc is bccoming and
Lhrough which onc bccomcs. [ . . . ] Tis principlc o proximiLy or
approximaLion is cnLircly parLicular and rcinLroduccs no analogy
whaLsocvcr. IL indicaLcs as rigorously as possiblc a zone oj proxm-
ty (Tousand P|ateaus i,i). As Lhc vocabulary HighsmiLh uscs in
Lhis opcning passagc as wcll as laLcr oncs suggcsLs, Toms abiliLy
Lo smcll Lhis orcc o Lhc ouLsidc LhaL inspircs him Lo Lhink, Lo
go along wiLh Crccnlcas proposiLion, opcraLcs on an accLivc
lcvcl in Lhc scnsc LhaL an accL is Lhc cccLuaLion o a powcr o
Lhc pack [or mulLipliciLy] LhaL Lhrows Lhc scl inLo uphcaval and
makcs iL rccl (Tousand P|ateaus io). Riplcy docs indccd rccl.
So, rom Lhc bcginning, HighsmiLh congurcs hcr avoriLc
characLcr noL so much as a proLcan man Lhan as a man oj response.
InsLcad o judging Crccnlcas proposiLion as absurd (aLcr all,
Tom barcly knows Dickic), Riplcy scnscssmcllssomcLhing hc
cannoL ycL puL inLo words buL is noncLhclcss willing Lo cncounLcr
as an cxpcrimcnL. In oLhcr words, Tom Riplcy Lakcs a gamblc. Hc
rolls Lhc dicc, bcLLing morc on chancc Lhan on his own capaciLy
Lo pull o a susLaincd hoax. BuL LhoughL is a roll o Lhc dicc, as
Dclcuzc argucs: WhaL Lhc dicc-Lhrow rcprcscnLs is LhaL Lhinking
always comcs rom Lhc ouLsidc (LhaL ouLsidc which is alrcady cn-
gulcd in Lhc inLcrsLicc or which consLiLuLcd Lhc common limiL).
Tinking is nciLhcr innaLc nor acquircd. IL is noL Lhc innaLc cxcr-
cisc o a aculLy, buL nciLhcr is iL a lcarning proccss consLiLuLcd
in Lhc cxLcrnal world (Foucau|t ::,). Tinking is always an in-
bcLwccn, an cncounLcr, a rcsponsc, an cnLcring and inhabiLing
o a zonc o proximiLy, raLhcr Lhan an imiLaLion. Tinking is an
accL, a bccoming, noL a proccss o rcprcscnLing. Tinking is
Lrcspass and violcncc. Hcrc, Lhcn, arc Lhc iniLial componcnLs o
HighsmiLhs mosL amous books and characLcr: conLingcncy and
Lhc cncounLcr wiLh Lhc ouLsidc, LhoughL as accLivc rcsponsc.
I wc Lakc Lhis rcsponsc sLrucLurc o bccoming as Lhc imma-
ncnL modc o Toms acLing, wc will also scc how an inLcnsi-
caLion o Lhis sLrucLurc accLs Lhc way violcncc opcraLcs in Lhis
novcl. Tc pivoLal momcnL in Lhc novcl occurs whcn Tom sLarLs
assuming Dickics pcrsona. BuL, and Lhis cannoL bc ovcrcmpha-
Sera|zng vo|ence :o8
sizcd, Toms bccoming-Dickic uncLions iLscl as a rcsponsc Lo a
prior momcnL o judgmcnL: Lo wiL, Lhc aLcul suggcsLion, madc
by Margc Lo Dickic, LhaL Tom is a homoscxual.
20
Rcgardlcss o
Lhc validiLy o Margcs suspicion, onc which Dickic will cvcnLu-
ally sccond (8o), Lhc poinL hcrc is LhaL Tom magnes and, duc Lo
iLs inLcnsiLy, experences Lhc cccLs o bcing judgcd: Tc suddcn
wcighL o guilL madc swcaL comc on Toms orchcad, an amor-
phous ycL vcry sLrong scnsc o guilL, as i Margc had Lold Dickic
spccically LhaL hc had sLolcn somcLhing or had donc somc oLhcr
shamcul Lhing (,6). Tis sLrong scnsc o guilL, alrcady prcg-
urcd by Lhc novcls opcning sccnc (Riplcy had a ccling o guilL
[io] whcn acccpLing Mr. Crccnlcas proposiLion), provokcs an in-
LcnsicaLion o his cmoLions. Sccing his rclaLionship wiLh Dickic
disinLcgraLing as a dirccL conscqucncc o Margcs judgmcnL (i.c.,
Margc dcploys Lhc ncgaLivc orcc conLaincd by Lhc labcl homo-
scxual Lo drivc a wcdgc bcLwccn Dickic and Tom), Tom undcr-
gocs a violcnL LransormaLion, Lhrowing Dickics posscssions ouL
o Lhc window in a L (,8). In all Lhis, hc had a curious ccling
LhaL his brain rcmaincd calm and logical and LhaL his body was
ouL o conLrol (,8).
AL Lhis cxacL momcnL o accLivc crisis, Tom sponLancously
bccomcs-Dickic. Hc bcgins drcssing up as him, assumcs his voicc,
and imagincs Dickics violcnL rcjccLion o Margc (,8,j). Civcn
Lhc abscncc o any indicaLion LhaL Tom planncd Lhis cvcnL, wc can
hardly Lhink o Lhis momcnL in LradiLional acLing LcrmsLhaL is,
rcprcscnLaLion and imiLaLion. In acL, somcwhaL laLcr in Lhc novcl,
Tom himscl arLiculaLcs LhaL acLing is noL abouL imiLaLion: Tc
main Lhing abouL impcrsonaLion [ . . . ] was Lo mainLain Lhc mood
and temperament o Lhc pcrson onc was impcrsonaLing, and Lo as-
sumc Lhc acial cxprcssions LhaL wcnL wiLh Lhcm. Tc rcsL cll inLo
placc (::, my cmphascs). In oLhcr words, HighsmiLh dcscribcs
Toms acLionshis cnacLingas a maLLcr o sty|e, as a proccss o
bccoming LhaL has noLhing Lo do wiLh rcprcscnLing, imiLaLing,
or rcscmbling. AcLing as a LruLhul or rcalisLic acL o copying or
imiLaLing is subsumcd by Lhc prior orcc o acLing as simulaLion:
inhabiLing a mooddcploying an accL, a orccconsLiLuLcs a
Sera|zng vo|ence :oj
pracLicc o simulaLion in LhaL iLs goal is noL Lo rcproducc buL Lo
rcspond.
2l
An csscnLial alschood, Lhcn, allows or Lhc producLion
o Lhc appcarancc o similiLudc, indccd vcrisimiliLudc: onc musL
apply much makcup Lo appcar as naLural on 1v.
Toms bccoming-Dickic happcns in rcsponsc Lo his ccling o
guilL, o having bccn judgcd, and Lhis bccoming is rom Lhc bc-
ginning markcd in violcnLly accLivc Lcrms. In Lhis scnsc, Lhcn,
Toms bccoming-violcnL prcccdcs his rsL acLual acL o violcncc
Lhc killing o Dickic. His bccoming-Dickic marks his bccoming-vi-
olcnL. Tc indisccrnibiliLy o Lhis cvcnL acLualizcs Dickics dcaLh.
Iong bcorc hc nds his dcaLh aL Toms hands on a boaL Lrip,
Dickic has bccn scnLcnccd Lo dcaLh, cvcn Lhough nciLhcr Tom
nor Dickic kncw abouL iL. WhaL has Lakcn placc hcrc is whaL Dc-
lcuzc and CuaLLari dcscribc as an incorporcal LransormaLion, Lhc
acLualizing o an ordcr-word LhaL consisLs o a linc o ighL and a
dcaLh scnLcncc. Tc linc o ighL insLanLiaLcd is Toms bccoming-
Dickic/bccoming-violcnL, whcrcas Dickics dcaLh manicsLs Lhc
incviLabiliLy o Lhc ordcr-words sccond aspccL: only i Dickic can
bccomc somcLhing clsc as wcll can Tom bccomc-Dickic.
22
Whcn Lhcy Lakc Lhc aLcul Lrain Lrip rom Canncs Lo San Rcmo,
Toms rusLraLions wiLh Dickic, whosc indicrcncc, i noL hosLil-
iLy, Lo Toms prcscncc urLhcr amplics Toms cmoLional insLabil-
iLy, arc pushcd Lo Lhcir limiL, in Lhc proccss Lransorming Tom
rom a rclaLivcly innoccnL young man in scarch o a bcLLcr lic inLo
a cold-bloodcd murdcrcr: Tom sLarcd aL Dickics closcd cyclids. A
crazy cmoLion o haLc, o accLion, o impaLicncc and rusLraLion
was swclling in him, hampcring his brcaLhing. Hc wanLcd Lo kill
Dickic. IL was noL Lhc rsL Limc hc had LhoughL o iL. Bcorc, oncc
or Lwicc or Lhrcc Limcs, iL had bccn an impulsc causcd by angcr
or disappoinLmcnL, an impulsc LhaL vanishcd immcdiaLcly and
lcL him wiLh a ccling o shamc. Now hc LhoughL abouL iL or an
cnLirc minuLc, Lwo minuLcs, bccausc hc was lcaving Dickic any-
way, and whaL was Lhcrc Lo bc ashamcd o anymorc` Hc had ailcd
wiLh Dickic (:oo). InLcrcsLingly, Lhc vcry physicaliLy o Lhis pas-
sagcwiLh Lhc proscs rhyLhm spilling ovcr in Lhc rcpcaLcd aL-
LcmpLs aL prccisc Limc dcscripLionslinks up wiLh Toms scnsc
Sera|zng vo|ence ::o
o ailurc: his having bccn judgcd by his ricnds, suggcsLing LhaL
Lhc inhcrcnL orcc o judgmcnL movcs always Loo asL, is always
ahcad o iLscl, orgcLs Lhc concrcLc maLcrialiLy o Lhc siLuaLion
bcing judgcd. Tis violcncc o judgmcnL, which docs noL allow Lhc
oLhcr Lo pcrsisL wiLhouL orcing him or hcr inLo bcing, indccd bc-
coming, somcLhing or somconc clsc, produccs violcncc.
And Tom rcsponds Lo Lhis orcc. Hc is capablc o doing so prc-
ciscly bccausc hc has alrcady bccomc-Dickic, cvcn Lhough hc only
now rcalizcs Lhis: Hc had jusL LhoughL o somcLhing brillianL: hc
could bccomc Dickic Crccnlca himscl (:oo). BuL Tom has long
bccomc-Dickic, as HighsmiLhs narraLivc makcs pcrccLly clcar in
LhaL iL docs noL providc any LransiLional pcriod bridging Toms
brillianL LhoughL wiLh his acLing upon iL. InsLanLancously, Tom
bcgan Lo Lhink o how (:oo). NoL wasLing a sccond on conLcm-
plaLing Lhc conscqucnccs o his bccoming, Tom inLuiLivcly knows
LhaL only his acLions maLLcr now, rcgardlcss o Lhcir mcaning.
Tom imagincs a scrics o possiblc murdcr sccnarios, as i hc had
planncd iL or a long Limc. BuL hc has noL. TaL hc can imaginc so
clcarly his uLurc cnacLmcnL o his violcnL dccd dirccLly rcsulLs
rom his prior bccoming-Dickic, as iL is indisccrniblc rom his bc-
coming-violcnL.
23
And so Tom imagincs: Tc WaLcr. BuL Dickic
was such a good swimmcr. Tc clis. [Tom rcjccLs Lhis idca.] San
Rcmo. Flowcrs. A main drag along Lhc bcach again, shops and
sLorcs and Frcnch and Fnglish and ILalian LourisLs. AnoLhcr ho-
Lcl, wiLh owcrs in Lhc balconics. Whcrc` (:oo:o:). No moral
scruplcs bccausc Lhc violcncc o moraliLy iLscl has provokcd his
rcsponsc, his violcncc. And Lhcn Dickic dics, having bccn smackcd
in Lhc hcad wiLh an oar LhaL conLinually hiL him in Lhc sidc o Lhc
ncck, Lhrcc Limcs, chopping sLrokcs wiLh Lhc cdgc o Lhc oar, as
i Lhc oar wcrc an axc and Dickics ncck a Lrcc, slic[ing] Dickics
orchcad, and plunging Lhc oars handlc wiLh a bayoncL grip inLo
Dickics sidc (:o). NoLably, HighsmiLh dcpicLs Lhc cnLirc proccss
o Toms bccoming-violcnL as a rcsponsc Lo Lhc orcc o judgmcnL
lcvicd aL him and congurcs Lhc Lcrms o Lhis rcsponsc as accL.
And dcspiLc or, pcrhaps bcLLcr, because o Toms cxpcricncc o
guilL, hc docs noL pausc Lo considcr Lhc moraliLy o his acLions.
Sera|zng vo|ence :::
Hc rcsponds Lo Lhc scnsc LhaL iL was Lhc rcalm o judgmcnL LhaL
produccsindccd sviolcncc iLscl.
Toms proccss o bccoming docs noL cnd hcrc. MosL crucially,
hc is cvcnLually orccd Lo bccomc-Tom again, somcLhing LhaL hc
iniLially loaLhcs (aL onc momcnL hc Lhinks LhaL Lo idcnLiy him-
scl as Tom Riplcy was going Lo bc onc o Lhc saddcsL Lhings hc
had cvcr donc in his lic [ioo]) buL LhaL bccomcs acccpLablc oncc
hc inLuiLs LhaL bccoming-Tom docs noL mcan a rcLurn Lo his old
scl: HadnL hc lcarncd somcLhing rom Lhcsc lasL monLhs` I
you wanLcd Lo bc chccrul, or mclancholic, or wisLul, or LhoughL-
ul, or courLcous, you simply had Lo act Lhosc Lhings wiLh cvcry
gcsLurc (:j). TaL Lhis acLing docs noL uncLion by imiLaLion hc
undcrsLands a biL laLcr, or hc bcgins Lo scc LhaL rcgardlcss o Lhc
ulLimaLc LruLh valuc o his acLs, his sLorics wcrc good bccausc
hc imagincd Lhcm ntense|y, so ntense|y LhaL hc camc Lo bclicvc
Lhcm (i, my cmphascs). In shorL, his acLing is a pracLicc o
imagining, which, in Lurn, is abouL accL or inLcnsiLics, abouL cn-
Lcring a zonc o proximiLy, o bccoming.
His sccond bccoming is an cccL o his rsL onc, wiLh Lhc con-
scqucncc LhaL hc docs noL so much rcLurn Lo his carlicr cxisLcncc
buL Lo a ncw onc, accLcd by his prior bccoming: Tom now dis-
plays a ncw scnsc o sophisLicaLion, a ncw scnsc o bcing in Lhc
world (which will undcrgo urLhcr inLcnsicaLion in HighsmiLhs
subscqucnL scrializing o him) LhaL would havc rcmaincd impos-
siblc had iL noL bccn or his prior bccoming-Dickic. Tis inLcnsi-
caLion will cvcnLually also do away wiLh any rcmnanLs o Toms
guilL, as wcll as wiLh any prcLcnsc Lo rcalism on HighsmiLhs parL.
Fvcn so, LhroughouL Lhc rcsL o Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey, High-
smiLh occasionally conLinucs Lo show Tom sLruggling wiLh a lin-
gcring scnsc o guilL (hc has nighLmarcs in which Dickic is sLill
alivc, having swam Lo Lhc shorc [:66]) LhaL inLcnsics as a rcsulL
o his sccond murdcr. In Lhc proccss, Toms acLions bccomc lcss
crcdiblc (Lhc policc can bc only so sLupid). BuL I Lakc HighsmiLhs
disavowal o rcalism Lo bc parL o hcr projccLs poinL, or judg-
mcnL dcnoLcs a pracLicc bascd on rcalismi noL ncccssarily in
Lhc liLcrary scnsc pcr sc Lhcn in LhaL iL rcquircs a comparison Lo
Sera|zng vo|ence ::i
an (imaginary or rcal) sLandard or origin, Lo somcLhing LhaL is
pcrccivcd as Lruc, as rcal.
24
In conLrasL, or HighsmiLh judgmcnL
bccomcs Lhc problcm par cxccllcncc prcciscly bccausc iL s vio-
lcncc. Tus HighsmiLh rcdcscribcs Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL via
posing iL as an issuc o LruLh and violcncc (Te P|underer) in such
a way LhaL Lhc qucsLion o violcncc appcars as Lhc mosL ntense
vcrsion o judgmcnL.
Toms abiliLy Lo rcspond Lo somcLhing ouLsidc o himscl LhaL
orccs him Lo Lhink, Lo imaginc, Lo invcnLLhis is whaL his acLing
qua bccoming consLiLuLcs. In Lurn, Lhis conguraLion o Toms
characLcr suggcsLs LhaL HighsmiLh hcrscl has arrivcd aL onc
spccic soluLion Lo hcr largcr prob|ematque: bcginning wiLh Lhc
qucsLion o judgmcnL, shc rcndcrs iL as Lhc qucsLion o violcncc, a
rcndcring LhaL congurcs Lhcsc Lwo Lcrms as muLually immancnL
o cach oLhcr. You can Lhink o judgmcnL only as and Lhrough
violcncc. FurLhcr, Lhis immancncc iLscl is markcd always as an
accLivc proccss, a movcmcnL o insLanccs o bccoming. Tom
has Lo bccomc-violcnL in ordcr Lo bccomc-Dickic, buL bccoming-
Dickic rcquircs his bccoming-violcnL. Finally, hc has Lo bccomc-
Tom Lo achicvc Lhc abiliLy Lo scc his scnsc o guilL or whaL iL is:
producLivc o and produccd by a pracLicc o judgmcnL LhaL is vio-
lcnL aL iLs corc. As hc conLcmplaLcs, i hc hadnL misjudgcd Lhc
rclaLionship bcLwccn Dickic and Margc so sLupidly, or had simply
waiLcd or Lhcm Lo scparaLc o Lhcir own voliLion, Lhcn nonc o
Lhis would havc happcncd (i,). 1udgmcnL, in oLhcr words, is
always a pracLicc LhaL proceeds wth too much speedjusL likc vio-
lcncc. IL is Lhis qualiLy o judgmcnL LhaL consLiLuLcs iLs violcncc,
LhaL makcs iL producLivc o violcncc.
Empirical Violence
WiLh Lhis rcmarkablc answcr ound so carly in hcr carccr, wc
mighL cxpccL HighsmiLh Lo havc wholchcarLcdly cmbraccd Lhis
soluLion Lo hcr prob|ematque and conLinuc on Lhis parLicular
LrajccLory o crcaLing likcablc, murdcrously violcnL characLcrs
Sera|zng vo|ence ::
LhaL somchow managc Lo cludc any judgmcnL whaLsocvcr. YcL,
wiLh Tom Riplcy sailing o or CrcLc, HighsmiLhs work in Lhc
ncxL Lcn ycars morc or lcss conLinucd as i shc had noL bccn ablc
Lo rcach Lhc singular poinL o LransormaLion consLiLuLcd by Te
Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey. TaL is, in Lhc novcls rom :j, Lo :j6,
rom Leep water Lo Te Two Faces oj 1anuary, rcspccLivcly, all
vc novcls rcsolvc Lhcir ploLs by Lhc violcnL proLagonisLs dying
(Ts Sweet Sckness [:j6o] and Te Two Faces oj 1anuary) or bc-
ing caughL by law cnorccmcnL (Leep water, A Came jor the Lvng
[:j8], in Te Cry oj the Ow| [:j6i], wc surmisc LhaL Lhc policc
will arrivc Lo dcLain Lhc woundcd criminal). CranLcd, Lhc parLicu-
lar Lypcs o soluLions Lo violcncc providcd by Lhcsc novcls do
noL ncccssarily guaranLcc LhaL rcadcrs will considcr Lhc novcls
propcrly rcsolvcd. In Lhc cnd, iL sccms, onc would havc Lo admiL
LhaL Lhc acL o judgmcnL, as prcscnLcd in Lhcsc novcls, ccls morc
likc a rclaLivcly arLicial Lag-on Lhan an inLcrnally ncccssiLaLcd
(acsLhcLic and cLhical) conclusion. Analogously, wc may Lhink o
Lhc hypcrarLicial happy cndings o Douglas Sirks Hollywood
mclodramas o Lhc :jos. RaLhcr Lhan rcsolving Lhc various
orms o violcncc pcrmcaLing Lhc sLorics, Lhcsc happy cndings
acLually inLcnsiy Lhc vcry proccsscs LhaL had givcn risc Lo Lhc
accLivcly rcndcrcd violcnccs Lhc proLagonisLs cxpcricncc. TaL
is, whilc onc may Lhink LhaL Lhc climinaLion o Lhc violcnL main
characLcrs in HighsmiLhs novcls o Lhc pcriod rcconsLiLuLcs Lhc
world as a morally bcLLcr placc, onc hardly ccls comorLcd by Lhis
LhoughL prcciscly bccausc o Lhc rclcnLlcssly cold Lonc (in Lcrms
o sLylisLic voicc and moral ouLlook) o cvcryLhing LhaL prcccdcd
Lhcsc sccmingly moral cndings. In oLhcr words, violcncc in High-
smiLhs cLion has nciLhcr a caLharLic nor rcgcncraLivc cccL.
25
For insLancc, in Te Two Faces oj 1anuary, wc obscrvc Rydal
Kccncr almosL mourn Lhc dcaLh o his murdcrous rival, ChcsLcr
MacFarland, who has (somcwhaL incidcnLally) killcd his youngcr
wic whom hc suspccLcd Lo havc an aair wiLh Kccncr. DcspiLc
Lhc lcLhal dangcr MacFarland posiLcd Lo Kccncr, wc ncvcr gcL
Lhc imprcssion in Lhc novcl LhaL Kccncr minds Lhc LhrcaL. QuiLc
Lhc conLrary is Lhc casc. Bcing hung up on his Lroublcd rclaLion-
Sera|zng vo|ence ::
ship wiLh his aLhcr and a pasL girlricnd, Kccncr ccls oddly aL-
LracLcd Lo MacFarland, who appcars Lo rcmind him o his aLhcr.
My poinL hcrc is LhaL MacFarlands punishmcnL arrivcs wiLhouL
Kccncr, Lhc characLcr rcadcrs arc mosL likcly Lo sympaLhizc wiLh,
cvcr dcsiring iL. Iikcwisc, David Kclscys suicidc in Ts Sweet Sck-
ness sccms Lo scrvc morc gcncric purposcs Lhan anyLhing clsc,
or by Lhc cnd o Lhc novcl, Kclscys schizophrcnic sLaLc o mind
has all buL cradicaLcd his physical cxisLcncc. Tc cxLcnL Lo which
Lhc paLhcLic naLurc and paLhology o his lic has bccn csLablishcd
by HighsmiLh docs noL so much soliciL rcadcrs lusL or rcvcngc
and punishmcnL as provokc piLy, i noL cmpaLhy. Kclscys lic has
bccn mclodramaLic cnough so LhaL his suicidc, his nal orm o
his punishmcnL, docs noL makc any dicrcncc aL all.
BuL Lhis inconscqucnLialiLy o Lhc orms o punishmcnL in
Lhcsc vc novcls should bc o inLcrcsL Lo us: oughL wc noL aL lcasL
wondcr why HighsmiLh sccms Lo havc clL compcllcd Lo abandon
hcr carcully wroughL soluLion Lo hcr problcmaLic` Should wc noL
ccl puzzlcd LhaL shc rcLrcaLs rom hcr crucial achicvcmcnL Lo
havc broughL inLo muLual prcsupposiLion Lhc conccpL and prac-
Licc o judgmcnL and violcncc aL Lhc vcry momcnL shc has bccn
ablc Lo congurc Lhcm as qucsLions immancnL Lo cach oLhcr`
Only in HighsmiLhs novcls o Lhc sccond hal o Lhc :j6os do
wc oncc again cncounLcr violcnL characLcrs who rcmain aL largc
by Lhc cnd o Lhc books, such as Philip CarLcr in Te C|ass Ce||
(:j6) and Sydncy BarLlcby in Te Story-Te||er (:j6). Te C|ass
Ce|| documcnLs Lhc cccLs prison can havc on a mancspccially
whcn hc is unjusLly imprisoncd. In many ways, Lhc sLory pursucs
a quiLc Pavlovian Lhcsis: i you push a man so much, you will Lurn
him inLo a violcnL bcing. Much morc inLcrcsLing Lhan Lhis argu-
mcnL is Lhc onc ocrcd in Te Story-Te||er. Hcrc, Lhc imaginaLion
o BarLlcby, a sccond-raLc wriLcr o crimc sLorics, lcads Lo his cn-
acLing o an acLual crimc: prcciscly bccausc hc has imagincd mur-
dcr so inLcnscly hc is rsL (alscly) suspccLcd o having killcd his
wic and Lhcn nds iL casy Lo orcc hcr lovcr Lo swallow a lcLhal
dosc o slccping pills. RaLhcr Lhan a bchaviorisL Lhcsis, Te Story-
Te||er argucs or Lhc lcLhal orcc o Lhc arLisLic imaginaLion. In
Sera|zng vo|ence ::
Lhis conLcxL, wc should noLc LhaL HighsmiLh cvcnLually rcLracLcd
Lhc Lhcsis o hcr rsL novcl, namcly, LhaL any pcrson can bc-
comc a murdcrcr, a scnLimcnL LhaL sLill circulaLcs as bcing ccnLral
Lo HighsmiLhs philosophy. Howcvcr, HighsmiLh, acknowlcdg-
ing LhaL shc may havc LhoughL iL whcn shc wroLc Strangers on a
Tran, uncquivocally sLaLcd, I donL bclicvc LhaL cvcrybody can
bc cocrccd inLo murdcr (Coopcr-Clark :,). Howcvcr, Lhc acL o
Lhc rcinLroducLion o violcnL characLcrs who rcmain aL largc inLo
HighsmiLhs cLion has Lo bc qualicd immcdiaLcly by poinLing
ouL LhaL in hcr lasL Lwo novcls o Lhc :j6os, Tose who wa|k Away
(:j6,) and Te Tremor oj Forgery (:j6j), no murdcrs arc commiL-
Lcd Lo bcgin wiLh (wiLh Lhc laLLcr poLcnLially caLuring a violcnL
dcaLh as a rcsulL o somcLhing akin Lo prcmcdiLaLcd scl-dccnsc).
TwcnLy ycars inLo hcr carccr, Lhcn, HighsmiLh had craLcd Lhir-
Lccn novcls, o which only Lhrcc, pcrhaps our, caLurc violcnL
characLcrs LhaL cscapc Lhcir judgmcnL. Tis is worLh mcnLion-
ing i or no oLhcr rcason Lhan LhaL criLics conLinually cmphasizc
HighsmiLhs allcgcd pcnchanL or crcaLing amoral characLcrs LhaL
rcmain unpunishcd. AL lcasL up unLil Lhis poinL in HighsmiLhs
ocuvrc, Lhis is paLcnLly wrong, buL Lhis claim somcwhaL ironically
poinLs Lo Lhc uncLion o criLicism and how iL is drivcn by iLs dc-
sirc or judgmcnL Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL, aL Limcs, iL cannoL scc
whcn iL acLually occurs.
I, howcvcr, HighsmiLhs wriLing bcLwccn :j and :j6j
consLiLuLcs a rcLurn Lo judgmcnL, Lhcn wc musL hccd Lhc vcry
rcpcLiLivcncss o Lhis sccming rcLracLion o Lhc soluLion shc
arrivcd aL wiLh Lhc wriLing o Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey. Rcading
HighsmiLhs cLion (and noL only LhaL rom Lhc rsL parL o hcr
carccr), I am unlikcly Lo bc alonc in noLicing how di culL iL is
Lo dicrcnLiaLc bcLwccn hcr characLcrs and, whcn all is said and
donc, hcr basic ploLs. All o Lhis lcads Lo a rcmarkablc di culLy in
rccollccLing spccic incidcnLs aLLachcd Lo spccic propcr namcs.
26

ImporLanLly, iL appcars LhaL HighsmiLh hcrscl musL havc bccn
accLcd by Lhis incrcasing monoLony o hcr work. A scnsc o
borcdom mighL vcry wcll havc manicsLcd iLscl by Lhc Limc shc
conccivcd o Te Tremor oj Forgery, hcr rsL book abouL Lhc mo-
Sera|zng vo|ence ::6
raliLy o violcncc wiLhouL Lhc clcar-cuL occurrcncc o murdcr. In
Lhis book, Howard Ingham, an Amcrican wriLcr, spcnds Limc in
Tunisia Lo gaLhcr maLcrial or a movic scripL. ALcr hc nds ouL
LhaL Lhc produccr o Lhc movic has dicd in Ncw York on Lhc bcd
o Inghams girlricnd, hc abandons his lm projccL buL sLays on
in Tunisia. Onc nighL, hc hcars an inLrudcr Lrying Lo brcak inLo
his housc. NoL sccing Lhc man buL suspccLing a hoodlum who has
boLhcrcd him bcorc, hc Lhrows his LypcwriLcr aL Lhc unwclcomc
gucsL, Lhcn shuLs Lhc door. Tc aLc o Lhc inLrudcr will rcmain
unclcar or Lhc rcsL o Lhc novcl: was hc aLally injurcd and car-
ricd away by hoLcl cmployccs who wanLcd Lo covcr ovcr Lhc in-
cidcnL`
27
Or was hc mcrcly hurL and hclpcd by Lhc cmployccs Lo
lcavc Lhc prcmiscs`
Rcgardlcss o how wc rcad Lhc novcls kcy cvcnLwhcLhcr as
an acL o scl-dccnsc lcading Lo Lhc dcaLh o a small-Limc Ara-
bic crook or as a morc or lcss prcmcdiLaLcd acL o violcncc in Lhc
guisc o scl-dccnsc LhaL may or may noL havc lcd Lo a dcaLh
Lhc novcl is bcyond Lhc shadow o a doubL abouL HighsmiLhs
kcy problcmaLic, namcly, Lhc qucsLions o judgmcnL (moraliLy)
and violcncc, as cvcn Lhc back-covcr dcscripLion o Lhc novcls
papcrback cdiLion cmphasizcs: Cradually, howcvcr, a scrics o
pcculiar cvcnLsa hushcd-up murdcr, a vanishcd corpsc, and sc-
crcL broadcasLs Lo Lhc SovicL Unionlurcs [Ingham] incxorably
inLo Lhc dccp, ambivalcnL shadows o Lhis Arab Lown, inLo dccciL
and away rom convcnLional moraliLy. And whcn Ingham nds
an accomplicc Lo murdcr, or pcrhaps somcLhing morc, whaL is in
qucsLion is noL jusLicc or LruLh, buL Lhc sLaLc o his oddly quicL
conscicncc. MosL imporLanLly, iL is Adams, Lhc paLrioLic Amcri-
can radioing sccrcL propaganda mcssagcs Lo subvcrL Lhc SovicL
rcgimc, who bccomcs curious abouL Lhc (murdcrous`) incidcnL
and prcsscs Ingham Lo clcar his conscicncc. SuspccLing him o
oul play, Adams lccLurcs Ingham LhaL hc musL noL abandon his
good Amcrican moraliLy only bccausc hc is now in a world LhaL
is noL bascd on 1udco-ChrisLian moral valucs. Adams bclicvcs
LhaL Inghams (allcgcd) crimc will haunL him orcvcr i hc can-
noL bring himscl Lo concssand Lhus Lo ask or punishmcnL
Sera|zng vo|ence ::,
and orgivcncss. Ingham, supporLcd by his Danish ricnd 1cnscn,
howcvcr, rcsisLs Adamss moralizing and Lo Lhc cnd kccps quicL
abouL his involvcmcnL in Lhc disappcarancc o Lhc Arab, in Lhc
proccss acccpLing his girlricnds slow Lurning away rom him as
a rcsulL o Adamss insinuaLions. Clcarly, HighsmiLh wondcrs in
Lhis novcl how ar moraliLy has a purchasc on violcncc, how ar
jusLicc can bc donc, and how ar moraliLy is iLscl undamcnLally
shoL Lhrough wiLh aggrcssion (as cvidcnccd by Adamss anLicom-
munisL and impcrialisL sLancc).
WiLh Lhc wriLing o Lhis novcl, HighsmiLh has pursucd Lhc linc
o judgmcnL as ar as shc could, Lo Lhc momcnL whcrc judgmcnL
iLscl appcars as violcncc wiLhouL Lhc occurrcncc o morc obvi-
ous violcnL cvcnLs. Shc rcpcaLs hcr ploLs, as wcll as hcr basic rc-
sponsc Lo Lhc problcms poscd by Lhcm, Lo Lhc cxLcnL LhaL shc
Lransorms Lhis basic LrajccLory o hcr work so LhaL Lhc doublc
qucsLion o violcncc and judgmcnL docs noL urLhcr rcly on Lhc
(scripLcd) acL o murdcr iLscl or Lhc basic problcmaLic Lo mani-
csL iLscl. TaL is, insLcad o rcprcscnLing violcncc scnsaLion-
ally, shc rcndcrs scnsiblc Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion as wcll as Lhc
violcncc o judgmcnL. Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey marks or Lhc rsL
Limc a momcnL o purc inLcrrupLion in hcr work. Tis momcnL
o brcakdown rupLurcs HighsmiLhs basic cngagcmcnL wiLh hcr
problcmaLic and pushcs iL Lo Lhc poinL aL which somcLhing ncw
appcars (violcncc and judgmcnL as muLually immancnL orccs).
Now, Te Tremor oj Forgery dcmarcaLcs Lhc cnd o Lhc linc o Lhis
parLicular LrajccLory. In Lhis casc, howcvcr, iL is noL so much LhaL
somcLhing ncw appcars in Lhc scnsc o whaL happcncd wiLh Te
Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey, raLhcr, HighsmiLh simply has cxhausLcd Lhis
narraLivc linc, and in Lhc proccss shc appcars Lo havc cxhausLcd
hcrscl.
O coursc, onc can mcrcly spcculaLc abouL Lhc cxLcnL Lo which
shc mighL havc clL borcd wiLh hcr rcpcaLcd corL Lo comc Lo
grips wiLh hcr problcmaLic only Lo cnd on morc or lcss similar rc-
sponscs (and Lhis is noL Lo say LhaL Lhcsc novcls arc bad, quiLc Lhc
opposiLc), buL Lhc accLivc orcc o borcdom mighL vcry wcll havc
pushcd HighsmiLhs obscssion Lo a ncw, sccond momcnL o inLcr-
Sera|zng vo|ence ::8
rupLion. In acL, HighsmiLh hcrscl spokc posiLivcly o Lhc orcc
inhcrcnL Lo borcdom, o iLs capaciLy Lo provokc LhoughL: I crcaLc
Lhings ouL o borcdom wiLh rcaliLy and wiLh Lhc samcncss o rou-
Linc and objccLs around mc. Tcrcorc, I donL dislikc Lhis borc-
dom which cncroachcs on mc cvcry now and Lhcn, and I cvcn Lry
Lo crcaLc iL by rouLinc (P|ottng and wrtng j). In oLhcr words,
Lhc accLivc orcc consLiLuLing borcdom uncLions producLivcly
in LhaL iL is oLcn produccd by rcal or pcrccivcd rcpcLiLions LhaL
lcnd Lhcmsclvcs Lo a pausc, a spacc or Lhc producLion o LhoughL.
BuL, and Lhis musL bc markcd, borcdom has Lo bc produccd by Lhc
wriLcr or Lhc world shc livcs in. (I havc alrcady argucd Lhis in chap-
Lcr i. Tom Riplcy, o coursc, iniLially acLs ouL o borcdom as wcll.)
Tc accLivc sLaLc o borcdom has Lo bc crcaLcd Lhrough rouLincs,
Lhrough rcgulaLing oncs pracLicc o wriLingand Lhrough rcgu-
laLing Lhc wriLcrly cncounLcr wiLh violcncc. In Lhis rouLinizcd,
rcgulaLcd, masochisLic inLcrval, HighsmiLh cxpcrimcnLs wiLh hcr
prob|ematque, rcpcaLcdly LcsLing hcr insighL LhaL violcncc and
judgmcnL consisL o orccs LhaL arc muLually immancnL. Hcncc,
HighsmiLh had Lo wriLc all o Lhcsc novcls Lo rcach Lhc poinL o
inLcnsicaLion shc ound hcrscl accLcd by in Lhc laLc :j6os.
In Lhis conLcxL, 1ulian Symons, onc o HighsmiLhs bcsL com-
mcnLaLors, wroLc a pcrccpLivc passagc jusL bcorc HighsmiLh pub-
lishcd Lhc sccond insLallmcnL o hcr Riplcy scrics: Tc rcLurn o
Mr. Riplcy, abouL which HighsmiLh Lhinks aL Lhis momcnL [:j6j],
could solvc Lhc problcm o corrccLly arLiculaLing hcr LhoughLs
abouL social moraliLy and individual bchavior by corrccLly dc-
ploying violcncc wiLhouL graLuiLous scnsaLionalism. Violcncc is
ncccssary, sincc hcr bcsL wriLcrly LalcnLs nd cxprcssion Lhrough
violcncc and acLualiLy, and shc musL nd a way rcalisLically Lo usc
Lhis (:o, my LranslaLion). In Lhis passagc, Symons niccly voiccs
his scnsc o Lhc mood LhaL musL havc accLcd HighsmiLh aL Lhc
Limc. Hc dcscribcs Lhc scarching modc o opcraLion shc musL
havc parLicipaLcd in: HighsmiLh appcars Lo havc bccn sLuck in
hcr scarch or a way ouL, or a rcsoluLion Lo hcr basic prob|ema-
tque, or nding a way Lo dcploy violcncc in such a manncr LhaL iL
docs noL havc Lo rcly anymorc on Lhc counLcr acL o punishmcnL
Sera|zng vo|ence ::j
or judgmcnL. And I conLcnd LhaL aL Lhis momcnL HighsmiLh was
rcady, oncc again, Lo Lurn back. Tis Limc, howcvcr, hcr rcLurn Lo
an carlicr momcnL in hcr carccr is noL onc LhaL sLill rclics on cx-
pliciL punishmcnL, raLhcr, shc rcLurns Lo Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey,
Lo Lhc book LhaL has bcgun, i noL cnLircly succcssully (aLcr all,
Riplcy rcmains plagucd by guilL), Lo congurc violcncc and judg-
mcnL as immancnL orccs. TaL is, raLhcr Lhan a counLcr acL, judg-
mcnL is immancnL Lo, or shoL Lhrough wiLh, violcncc. I High-
smiLh indccd scarchcd or a way ouL o hcr dilcmma, i shc indccd
lookcd or an cxiL, Lhcn hcr parLicular wriLing pracLicc lcd hcr Lo
Lhc insighL LhaL, rcally, Lhcrc is no cxiL, LhaL Lhc only way ouL, i
Lhcrc is onc aL all, is a proccss o inLcnsicaLion, o going Lhrough.
Violcncc is accL, and only by masocriLically hccding Lhc accLivc
orcc inhcrcnL Lo acLs o violcncc can shc dcLcrminc whaL is so in-
LcrcsLing abouL Lhc qucsLion o violcncc Lo bcgin wiLh. PuL morc
orccully, only by inLcnsiying hcr prob|ematque can shc cxaminc
lic undcr dominaLion and cxpcrimcnL wiLh modcs o rcgulaLing
iL. Tis masocriLical inLcnsicaLion cvcnLually brings abouL a purc
linc o ighL: insLcad o cscaping violcncc, HighsmiLhs wriLcrly
cncounLcr wiLh violcncc makcs Lhc wholc planc o rcprcscnLa-
Lion/judgmcnL/violcncc cc.
+
Tis iLcraLion o a rcsponsc HighsmiLh had givcn somc Lccn
ycars prior Lo hcr wriLing o Rp|ey 0nder Cround (:j,o) cannoL
bc undcrcsLimaLcd as an imporLanL achicvcmcnL o hcr carccr, or,
or LhaL maLLcr, posLWorld War II (Amcrican) liLcraLurc, or iL
occurs aL a crucial shiL in Lhc dcvclopmcnL o WcsLcrn sociopoliL-
ical lic in gcncral. Michacl HardL and AnLonio Ncgris cnLirc Fm-
pre projccL narraLcs Lhc baLLlc bcLwccn orccs o Lransccndcncc
and orccs o immancncc LhaL havc dominaLcd and irrcvocably
shapcd Lhc coursc o WcsLcrn civilizaLion sincc Lhc Rcnaissancc.
By Lhc Limc wc gcL Lo Lhc posLWorld War II cra, Lhc orccs o
immancncc havc, according Lo Lhc LhcorisLs, won ouL or good,
producing whaL Lhcy Lcrm Fmpirc: In conLrasL Lo impcrialism,
Sera|zng vo|ence :io
Fmpirc csLablishcs no LcrriLorial ccnLcr o powcr and docs noL
rcly on xcd boundarics or barricrs. IL is a decentered and deter-
rtora|zng apparaLus o rulc LhaL progrcssivcly incorporaLcs Lhc
cnLirc global rcalm wiLhin iLs opcn, cxpanding ronLicrs. Fmpirc
managcs hybrid idcnLiLics, cxiblc hicrarchics, and plural cx-
changcs Lhrough modulaLing ncLworks o command. Tc disLincL
naLional colors o Lhc impcrialisL map o Lhc world havc mcrgcd
and blcndcd in Lhc impcrial global rainbow (xiixiii).
Tc mosL imporLanL characLcrisLic o Lhis undamcnLally ncw
orm o social organizaLiono powcris LhaL all o iLs orccs
opcraLc on Lhc samc planc o immancncc: Fmpirc is Lhc rsL Lruly
immancnL modc o powcr LhaL WcsLcrn civilizaLion has accd. As
parL o Lhis cmcrgcncc o a ncw modc o powcr, o lic, o whaL
Lhcy call biopoliLical producLion, capiLalism iLscl has bccn Lrans-
ormcd. Fmpirc, and iLs capiLalisL cconomic lcg, produccs and rc-
produccs iLscl, wiLh Lhc rcsulL LhaL Lhcrc is noLhing buL capiLal,
or, as Dclcuzc and CuaLLari oncc claimcd, Tcrc is only dcsirc
and Lhc social, and noLhing clsc (Ant-Oedpus ij).
Tc conscqucncc o Lhis shiL in social organizaLion is gravc or
Lhc possibiliLy o poliLics and inLcrvcnLion. As HardL and Ncgri
makc pcrccLly clcar, nosLalgia or a losL world is a loscr as a po-
liLical sLraLcgy (and clcarly, Lhcy dirccL Lhis polcmical argumcnL
aL Lhcir cllow MarxisLs). NoL dcnying Lhc cnormous cvidcncc
o opprcssion and dcsLrucLion in Lhc conLcmporary world, Lhcy
noncLhclcss insisL, rcpcaLcdly, LhaL Lhc passagc Lo Fmpirc and
iLs proccsscs o globalizaLion ocr ncw possibiliLics Lo Lhc orccs
o libcraLion. [BuL our] poliLical Lask [ . . . ] is noL simply Lo rcsisL
Lhcsc proccsscs buL Lo reorganze Lhcm and redrect Lhcm Loward
ncw cnds. [ . . . ] Tc sLrugglcs Lo conLcsL and subvcrL Fmpirc, as
wcll as Lhosc Lo consLrucL a rcal alLcrnaLivc, will Lhus Lakc placc
on Lhc impcrial Lcrrain iLscl (xv, my cmphascs). Again, Lhc only
way ouL is Lhrough.
Howcvcr, in Lhc conLcxL o Lhc pcdagogical and poliLical prac-
Licc o criLicism LhaL I havc bccn Lhcorizing Lhus ar, Lhis socio-
poliLical map dawn by HardL and Ncgri providcs LhcorcLical and
pragmaLic rcasons LhaL cxplain why culLural criLicism cannoL a-
Sera|zng vo|ence :i:
ord Lo hold on Lo, lcL alonc mourn or, a (moral) posiLion ouL-
sidc. For as long as criLicism insisLs on Lhc availabiliLy o Lhis po-
siLion or iLscl, iL givcs up Lhc possibiliLy o rcal inLcrvcnLion.
HardL and Ncgri arc cspccially impaLicnL wiLh Lhc commonaliLy
o mournul, nosLalgic criLical discoursc: DcspiLc rccognizing
[all Lhc sucring in Lodays world], wc insisL on asscrLing LhaL
Lhc consLrucLion o Fmpirc is a sLcp orward in ordcr Lo do away
wiLh any nosLalgia or Lhc powcr sLrucLurcs LhaL prcccdcd iL and
rcusc any poliLical sLraLcgy LhaL involvcs rcLurning Lo LhaL old ar-
rangcmcnL, such as Lrying Lo rcsurrccL Lhc naLion-sLaLc Lo proLccL
againsL global capiLal. Wc claim LhaL Fmpirc is bcLLcr in Lhc samc
way LhaL Marx insisLs LhaL capiLalism is bcLLcr Lhan Lhc orms o
socicLy and modcs o producLion LhaL camc bcorc iL ().
HardL and Ncgri compcllingly insisL LhaL Lhc cLhical and poliLi-
cal (and Lhus criLical) Lask o Loday is nally Lo hccd Lhc primary
cvcnL o modcrniLy [and iLs cvcnLual insLanLiaLion]: Lhc a rma-
Lion o Lhc powcrs o ths world, Lhc discovcry o Lhc planc o im-
mancncc (,:). IL musL bc noLcd, howcvcr, LhaL an a rmaLion
o Lhis momcnL docs noL mcan LhaL wc nccd Lo dcscribc or judgc
iL as good. In acL, conLrary Lo Lhc rcqucnL cclcbraLion o di-
crcncc as good in conLcmporary acadcmia, HardL and Ncgri
hold LhaL Lhc sLrucLurcs and logics o powcr in Lhc conLcmporary
world arc cnLircly immunc Lo Lhc libraLory wcapons o Lhc posL-
modcrnisL poliLics o dicrcncc. In acL, Fmpirc Loo is bcnL on do-
ing away wiLh Lhosc modcrn orms o sovcrcignLy and on scLLing
dicrcnccs Lo play across boundarics (:i).
2S
Howcvcr, Lhc grcaL
irony inhcrcnL in conLcmporary criLicisms dcsirc Lo valorizc di-
crcncc and casL iL as an ouLsidc Lo Lhc bad orccs o capiLal is LhaL
Lhis vcry dcsirc marks iLs own impossibiliLy. TaL is, Lhc acL LhaL
Lhc ouLsidc has bccomc such a (markcLablc) caLchword marks
Lhc vcry disappcarancc o iL, or bcLLcr, iL indcxcs LhaL Lhc ouLsidc
has bccn oldcd inLo Lhc insidc on Lhc planc o immancncc, Lhus
rcvcaling LhaL Lhc ouLsidc is noL availablc anymorc, i iL cvcr was,
in Lhc LradiLional scnsc o Lhc conccpL.
20
To rcLurn now Lo Lhc qucsLion aL handLhaL o judgmcnL, or
moraliLy, as a orm o cLhical rcsponsc Lo violcnccor my pur-
Sera|zng vo|ence :ii
poscs Lhc mosL Lclling parL o Lhcir analysis occurs whcn HardL
and Ncgri also Lurn Lo Lhc qucsLion o moraliLy. Tcy do so in
Lhc conLcxL o inLcrvcnLion. Diagnosing how Fmpirc opcraLcs,
how iL inLcrvcncs in Lhc social sphcrc, Lhcy claim LhaL iLs pow-
crs o inLcrvcnLion mighL bc bcsL undcrsLood as bcginning noL
dirccLly wiLh iLs wcapons o lcLhal orcc buL raLhcr wiLh iLs moral
insLrumcnLs (). TaL is, Lhcir analysis bcars ouL LhaL whaL
wc commonly undcrsLand as bruLc violcncc is in many rcspccLs
much lcss inLcrcsLing Lhan Lhc pracLicc LhaL wc Lcnd Lo Lhink o
as sLanding in opposiLion Lo violcncc: moral judgmcnL. HardL and
Ncgri spccically cxaminc Lhc rolc playcd by nongovcrnmcnLal
organizaLions (Ncos) such as AmncsLy InLcrnaLional or Mcdccins
sans FronLicrcs, sociopoliLical groups sccmingly bcyond rcproach
in pcoplcs csLimaLion. And, o coursc, HardL and Ncgris corL
aL invcsLigaLing how, cxacLly, Lhcy uncLion in Lhc agc o Fmpirc
is noL Lo rcvcal LhaL Lhcy arc somchow bad and LhaL wc arc all
dupcd by Lhcm. InsLcad, Lhcir much morc inLcrcsLing poinL o
inLcrvcnLion is Lo show LhaL Lhcsc organizaLions, commonly pcr-
ccivcd as corrccLivc insLiLuLions Lo Lhc morc cvil orccs o global
capiLalism, orm parL o Lhc ncxus o Fmpircs opcraLivc sysLcm.
To quoLc aL lcngLh Lhis crucial passagc:
Such humaniLarian Ncos arc in cccL (cvcn i Lhis runs
counLcr Lo Lhc inLcnLions o Lhc parLicipanLs) somc o Lhc
mosL powcrul pacic wcapons o Lhc ncw world ordcrLhc
chariLablc campaigns and Lhc mcndicanL ordcrs o Fmpirc.
Tcsc Ncos conducL jusL wars wiLhouL arms, wiLhouL
violcncc, wiLhouL bordcrs. Iikc Lhc Dominicans in Lhc laLc
mcdicval pcriod and Lhc 1csuiLs aL Lhc dawn o modcrniLy,
Lhcsc groups sLrivc Lo idcnLiy univcrsal nccds and dccnd
human righLs. Trough ther |anguage and ther acton they
rst dene the enemy as prvaton (n the hope oj preventng
serous damage) and then recognze the enemy as sn. (6, my
cmphasis)
Slavoj ick concurs wiLh Lhis asscssmcnL, noLwiLhsLanding his
oLhcrwisc ncgaLivc vicw o Fmpre: chariLy is, Loday, parL o Lhc
Sera|zng vo|ence :i
gamc as a humaniLarian mask hiding Lhc undcrlying cconomic
cxploiLaLion: in a supcrcgo-blackmail o giganLic proporLions,
Lhc dcvclopcd counLrics arc consLanLly hclping Lhc undcvclopcd
(wiLh aid, crcdiLs, cLc.), Lhcrcby avoiding Lhc kcy issuc, namcly,
Lhcir comp|cty in and corcsponsibiliLy or Lhc miscrablc siLu-
aLion o Lhc undcvclopcd (Organs wthout Podes :,j). Tc in-
sLiLuLions LradiLionally occupying a mora| high ground, in oLhcr
words, posscss Lhcir supcrior orcc by producing LhaL which is noL
moral (sin) and in Lurn arc dcploycd as a subLlc, only sccmingly
nonviolcnL, mcchanism againsL immoraliLy. Iikcwisc, givcn LhaL
Lhcsc insLiLuLions Lcnd Lo bc LhoughL o as mainLaining a posi-
Lion ouLsidc o capiLalisL grccd, o poliLical gamcs, and o human
allibiliLy and corrupLion, iL is sLunning Lo nd an analysis LhaL
raLhcr convincingly locaLcs Lhcsc vcry insLiLuLions aL Lhc hcarL
o Lhc sysLcm Lo which Lhcy arc supposcd Lo bc opposcd. Again,
HardL and Ncgri aL lcngLh:
In ChrisLian moral Lhcology cvil is rsL poscd as privaLion
o Lhc good and Lhcn sin is dcncd as culpablc ncgaLion o
Lhc good. WiLhin Lhis logical ramcwork iL is noL sLrangc buL
raLhcr all Loo naLural LhaL in Lhcir aLLcmpLs Lo rcspond Lo
privaLion, Lhcsc Ncos arc lcd Lo dcnouncc publicly Lhc sin-
ncrs (or raLhcr Lhc Fncmy in propcrly inquisiLional Lcrms),
nor is iL sLrangc LhaL Lhcy lcavc Lo Lhc sccular wing Lhc
Lask o acLually addrcssing Lhc problcms. In Lhis way, mora|
nterventon has become a jront|ne jorce oj mpera| nterven-
ton. In cccL, Lhis inLcrvcnLion prcgurcs Lhc sLaLc o cx-
ccpLion rom bclow, and docs so wiLhouL bordcrs, armcd
wiLh somc o Lhc mosL cccLivc mcans o communicaLion
and oricnLcd Loward Lhc symbolic producLion o Lhc cn-
cmy. Tcsc Ncos arc complcLcly immcrscd in Lhc biopoliLi-
cal conLcxL o Lhc consLiLuLion o Fmpirc, Lhcy anLicipaLc
Lhc powcr o iLs paciying and producLivc inLcrvcnLion o
jusLicc. [ . . . ] Mora| nterventon ojten serves as the rst act
that prepares the stage jor m|tary nterventon. (6,, my
cmphascs)
Sera|zng vo|ence :i
IL is hard Lo imaginc a morc orccul linc o qucsLioning Lhc shccr
possibiliLy and, indccd, viabiliLy o a rccoursc Lo moral judgmcnL
as a propcr rcsponsc Lo violcncc (in Lhc scnsc o promising Lo
bc cccLivc in cradicaLing or aL lcasL conLaining iL). As dcscribcd
by Lhcsc Lwo LhcorisLs, moraliLyjudgmcnLscL Lhc sLagc or
violcncc Lo cnsuc. Indccd, I Lhink iL is air Lo asscrL LhaL or HardL
and Ncgri moraliLy is violcncc, LhaL Lhc acL o judgmcnL bascd on
whaLcvcr prcsumably moral ground cquals any givcn acL o vio-
lcncc in Lhcir sLrucLural uncLionaliLy and cccLiviLy. 1udgmcnL
and violcncc, in shorL, muLually prcsupposc, rcquirc, and bring Lo
pass cach oLhcr. 1usL likc in Lhc proccss o capiLalizaLion the out-
sde s nterna|zed (ii6), and jusL likc Fmpirc makcs brcakdowns
or crisis iLs LransormaLivc cnginc, so judgmcnL inLcrnalizcs vio-
lcncc and casLs iL as iLs mosL inLcnsicd orm.
Intensifying Violence through Serialization
PaLricia HighsmiLh arrivcd aL Lhis conclusion alrcady in :j
wiLh hcr ourLh novcl, Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey. Howcvcr, Lhc acL
LhaL shc rccoilcd rom Lhis rcmarkablc achicvcmcnL, and Lhc cvcn
morc inLcrcsLing acL LhaL shc rcLurncd Lo iL Lccn ycars laLcr,
prcciscly aL Lhc momcnL whcn HardL and Ncgri locaLc somc o Lhc
mosL orccul alLcraLions in Lhc global sphcrc LhaL Lransormcd
Lhc rcign o Lransccndcncc inLo onc o purc immancncc, musL
now bc sccn as bcing in linc wiLh, indccd produccd by, Lhis largcr
sociopoliLical dcvclopmcnL.
30
Occupying Lhc posiLion o an Amcri-
can wriLcr living in various Furopcan counLrics, crcaLing works o
cLions always conccrncd wiLh Amcrican ciLizcns living aL Limcs
in Lhcir homc counLry, aL Limcs abroad, HighsmiLh incviLably was
accLcd by Lhc largcr global orccs dcscribcd by HardL and Ncgri.
YcL, jusL as Fmpre narraLcs a sLory o conicL LhaL only slowly
rcsolvcd iLscl morc dccidcdly in Lhc posLWorld War II pcriod,
so HighsmiLhs sccming cmbracc o Lhc lcsson o immancncc
LhaL Lhc only rcsponsc Lo violcncc is accL, noL judgmcnLwas
bound Lo bc a LcnLaLivc, sLuLLcring onc, onc LhaL was impossiblc
Sera|zng vo|ence :i
Lo mainLain wiLh grcaL consisLcncy, or surcly Lhc lcsson iLscl
was a sLrangc and di culL onc Lo lcarn. And so iL makcs scnsc
LhaL HighsmiLh had Lo wriLc hcrscl through hcr problcmaLic, had
Lo LcsL ouL Lhc waLcrs ancw and cxpcrimcnL wiLh hcr soluLion,
cvcn aLcr hcr rsL Riplcy succcss. ConLrary Lo Lhc criLical opin-
ion LhaL somchow hcr Riplcy novcls arc Lhc popular lighLwcighLs
among hcr oLhcrwisc morc challcnging work, LhaL, as Russcll
Harrison argucs, uncLioncd as a kind o brcaLhcr or HighsmiLh,
a cLional placc Lo which shc could rcpair rom Limc Lo Limc whcn
Lhc oLhcrwisc quiLc grucsomc busincss o social inLcracLion in
hcr morc ambiLious novcls bccamc Loo much (ij), I suggcsL LhaL
Lhcsc vc novcls gurc as Lhc pcak momcnLs in hcr carccr, as sin-
gular momcnLs o inLcnsicaLionnoL in Lhc scnsc LhaL Lhcy arc
bcLLcr (acsLhcLically or oLhcrwisc), buL in LhaL Lhcy consLiLuLc
Lhc culminaLion o Lhc mosL undamcnLal lcsson shc has LaughL
hcrscl and ocrs Lo hcr rcadcrs as arrows o LhoughL LhaL, in
NicLzschcan ashion, wc may pick up and shooL clscwhcrc.
Tc iLcraLion o hcr problcmaLic Lhrough hcr ocuvrc, Lhcn,
Lurns ouL Lo bc noL so much a rcpcLiLion o Lhc samc, as cvcn
HighsmiLh mighL havc LhoughL aL onc Limc or anoLhcr. RaLhcr,
hcr corL Lo scrializc hcr problcmaLic, rsL Lhrough crcaLing
a scrics o sLorics rcmarkably similar on mosL lcvcls and Lhcn
Lhrough Lurning hcr rsL cncounLcr wiLh immancncc inLo iLs own
scrics, musL bc dcscribcd as whaL Dclcuzc and CuaLLari Lhcorizcd
as tneraton, a orcc o rcpcLiLion LhaL sLrucLurcs surpriscs, a Ni-
cLzschcan FLcrnal RcLurn LhaL allows only LhaL Lo rcLurn which
has Lhc capaciLy Lo dicr.
IL is prcciscly HighsmiLhs rcpcaLcd pcrormancc o Lhis iLin-
craLing orcc LhaL docs noL allow us Lo considcr hcr, as has oc-
casionally bccn donc, as an cxisLcnLialisL wriLcr.
3l
For HighsmiLh,
noLhing is Lo bc ovcrcomc, lcasL o all violcncc or, in propcr cx-
isLcnLialisL Lcrms, dcaLh. For cxisLcnLialism, Lhc wholc poinL o
living is Lo acc up Lo dcaLh, sincc Lhis is how wc gain and conrm
our auLhcnLiciLy and asscrL Lo oursclvcs LhaL wc arc alivc and rcc.
Rcusing Lhc powcr o dcaLh and bchaving morally in a univcrsc
oLhcrwisc as absurd as Lhc onc dcpicLcd in Samucl BcckcLLs Lhc-
Sera|zng vo|ence :i6
aLcr o Lhc samc namc bccomc Lhc markcrs o Lruc human ac-
Lion. YcL, Lhc problcm inscribcd inLo cxisLcnLialism is LhaL onc
can ncvcr succccd aL Lhis Lask. IncviLably, our corL Lo csLablish
oursclvcs as auLhcnLic musL ail: wc will dic. HighsmiLhs violcnL
cLion, in conLrasL, is noL aL all govcrncd by Lhis logic o ailurc or
lack. TaL wc will dic is a acL o lic Lo which shc ascribcs no spc-
cial powcr, no Lclcological orcc. Shc simply docs noL mind LhaL
dcaLh looms on Lhc horizon or all o us. Hcncc, hcr cLional vio-
lcncc is nciLhcr a rcsponsc Lo ccrLain dcaLh nor a mcans Lo provc
oncscl auLhcnLic. Violcncc, as iL works in hcr cLion, is nciLhcr
LhaL which has Lo bc ovcrcomc nor LhaL which dcmarcaLcs ailurc.
Tcrc is no mourning in HighsmiLhs work. In conLrasL, violcncc
is LhaL which has Lo bc masochisLically repeated in ordcr Lo push
iL Lo Lhc limiL o whaL iL can do. And prcciscly whcn Lhcsc limiLs
arc achicvcd, a ncccssary LransormaLion occurs, as I havc argucd
was Lhc casc wiLh Lhc rsL Riplcy novcl as wcll as wiLh Tremor oj
Forgery.
32
RcpcLiLion, Lhcn, can bc considcrcd Lhc pcdagogicalmaso-
criLicalimpcraLivc sLrucLuring HighsmiLhs cLion. ConLrary
Lo Immanucl KanLs amous univcrsalizing moral impcraLivc
prcscribing LhaL onc should acL only on a maxim LhaL onc si-
mulLancously wishcs Lo bc a univcrsal law (Foundatons sccL. :),
HighsmiLhs wriLing appcars Lo bc morc NicLzschcan in kind in
LhaL Lhc rcpcLiLion o violcncc aL work is characLcrizcd noL by LhaL
which HighsmiLh dcsircs Lo bc donc Lo hcrscl, or LhaL would
noL gcL hcr anywhcrc aL all oLhcr Lhan rcproducing Lhc samc onc
morc Limc. RaLhcr, HighsmiLhs rcpcLiLion o violcncc opcraLcs by
Lhc logic o iLincraLing inLcnsicaLion whcrc whaL is rcpcaLcd is
only LhaL which ulLimaLcly can rcLurn dicrcnLly. In oLhcr words,
Lhc scrializcd rcpcLiLivcncss o HighsmiLhs ocuvrc docs noL con-
sLiLuLc an cLcrnal rcLurn o Lhc samcLhc quinLcsscnLial cxis-
LcnLialisL rcading o NicLzschcs mosL amous conccpL.
33
InsLcad,
iL sccms Lo mc, Dclcuzcs arLiculaLion o how Lhc cLcrnal rcLurn
opcraLcs in NicLzschc dcscribcs much morc LLingly HighsmiLhs
wriLing pracLicc. According Lo Dclcuzc, NicLzschcs impcraLivc, as
opposcd Lo KanLs, is, whaLcvcr you will, will iL in such a manncr
Sera|zng vo|ence :i,
LhaL you also will iLs cLcrnal rcLurn (Lerence and Repetton ,).
Hc gocs on Lo cxplain LhaL Lhis cLhical LcsL o oncs will gocs ur-
Lhcr Lhan KanLs caLcgorical impcraLivc bccausc iL docs noL rclaLc
Lhc orcc o rcpcLiLion Lo Lhc moralizing sourcc in Lhc gcncraliLy
o conccpLs (,), raLhcr, iL sccms Lo makc rcpcLiLion iLscl Lhc
only orm o a law beyond moraliLy. [ . . . ] Tc orm o rcpcLiLion in
Lhc cLcrnal rcLurn is Lhc bruLal orm o Lhc immcdiaLc, LhaL o Lhc
univcrsal and Lhc singular rcuniLcd, which dcLhroncs cvcry gcn-
cral law, dissolvcs Lhc mcdiaLions and annihilaLcs Lhc parLiculars
subjccLcd Lo Lhc law (,, my cmphasis). In oLhcr words, rcpcLiLion
is whaL is, as iL wcrc. IL is noL bascd on Lhc gcncraliLy o law
buL on Lhc spcciciLy o acLions, o a kind o pracLicc LhaL mosL
dccidcdly brings Lo mind, oncc again, Lhc spcciciLics o masoch-
ism. For docs Lhc masochisL noL prcciscly will his punishmcnL in
such a way LhaL hc also wills iLs rcLurn, ovcr and ovcr again, in a
(sccmingly) inniLc way (according Lo Lhc masochisLic conLracL,
iL is only Lhc misLrcss who can puL an cnd Lo iL)` And hc wills Lhis
inniLc rcLurn as a mcans Lo cxLcnd and inLcnsiy Lhc cxpcricncc
o inhabiLing an inLcrsLicc wiLhin which hc is subjccLcd Lo a scn-
saLion o himscl as bccoming-oLhcr Lo himscla proccss o bc-
coming LhaL assumcs a dcgrcc o consisLcncy (which is crucial Lo
his survival) only bccausc o Lhc spcciciLy o Lhc conLracLs Lcrms
LhaL uncLion as a rcgulaLory ramcwork, albciL onc in which hc
has rclinquishcd his conLrol Lo his misLrcss, LhaL is, Lo Lhc oLhcr.
BoLh HighsmiLhs cLion and hcr noncLional sLaLcmcnLs aL-
LcsL LhaL hcr inLcrcsL in, indccd obscssion wiLh, rcpcaLing hcr
violcnL sLorics docs noL manicsL Lhc dcsirc Lo crcaLc or a rm a
moral law. RaLhcr, HighsmiLh conLinually rcsponds Lo Lhc prob-
lcmaLic o violcncc and judgmcnL as iL plays ouL in Lhc momcnL o
rcpcLiLion. Having arrivcd carly on aL a poinL o LransormaLion
whcrc violcncc and judgmcnL havc bccn dcscribcd as muLually
immancnL orccs, HighsmiLhs cLion conLinually rcLurns Lo Lhis
poinL, albciL in dicrcnL guiscs. And hcrc is Lhc kcy: insLcad o
wriLing or a prccxisLing audicncc LhaL shc assumcs Lo bc capablc
o acccpLing hcr dcscripLion o violcncc as immancnL Lo judgmcnL,
HighsmiLhs work scLs ouL Lo producc iLs own audicncc, Lo accL a
Sera|zng vo|ence :i8
rcadcrship LhaL has ycL Lo comc, LhaL has ycL Lo bccomc capablc o
rcsponding Lo HighsmiLhs mosL undamcnLal accomplishmcnL in
a manncr LhaL docs noL lcad Lhcm (immcdiaLcly) back Lo a moral
discoursc. Tc acL LhaL HighsmiLh was markcLcd, cspccially in
Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs, as a mysLcry and suspcnsc wriLcr only dccpcns
Lhis poinL, or whilc onc mighL go along wiLh Lhc labcl Lo a ccrLain
cxLcnL, iL is quiLc clcar LhaL Lhc ovcrL rcjccLion o punishmcnL as
a moral conccpL gocs by and largc againsL Lhc gcnrcs rulcs and
Lhus, onc would assumc, againsL whaL rcadcrs o Lhc gcnrc arc
uscd Lo. Had HighsmiLh carcd Lo caLcr Lo hcr Amcrican rcadcrs
nccds, iL sccms LhaL shc would havc mcrcly rcpcaLcd Lhc succcss
o hcr rsL novcl. BuL shc did noL, as Lhc ollowing sLaLcmcnL,
cvoking hcr grcaL shorL sLory Tc Man Who WroLc Books in His
Hcad, makcs pcrccLly clcar: cach book is, in a scnsc, an argu-
mcnL wiLh myscl, and I would wriLc iL, whether t s ever pub|shed
or not (DuponL 6, cmphasis minc).
34
NoL Lo wriLc or an audicnccLhis is whaL allows hcr Lo dc-
vclop a pracLicc o wriLing LhaL bccomcs capablc o rcsponding Lo
violcncc wiLhouL judgmcnL. IL cnablcs hcr Lo rcpcaL hcr prob|ema-
tque bccausc shc docs noL (nccd Lo) hccd hcr cxisLing audicncc
(and undoubLcdly, hcr gaining commcrcial indcpcndcncc duc Lo
HiLchcocks succcssul adapLaLion o hcr rsL novcl conLribuLcd
Lo Lhis abiliLy). BuL noL hccding an cxisLing audicncc mcans Lo
wriLc or an audicncc ycL Lo comc raLhcr Lhan showing us our-
sclvcs (Klcin :j6), or boLh us and oursclvcs arc mcrcly in
Lhc proccss o cmcrging. IL mcans Lo producc a uLurc rcadcrship
by dcploying rcpcLiLion as Lhc mosL undamcnLal pcdagogical
Lool availablc. Hcrc cvcryLhing comcs LogcLhcr: hcr cLions rc-
pcLiLivcncss, iLs immancnL characLcr, iLs rcusal Lo judgc, iLs mo-
mcnL o cmcrgcncc in a posLWorld War II cnvironmcnL LhaL cvcr
asLcr opcraLcs on a planc o purc immancncc, and hcr rcusal Lo
wriLc or anyoncall o Lhis culminaLcs in Lhc producLion o a
pcdagogy LhaL docs noL dcsirc Lo spcak or anyonc, LhaL docs
noL insisL on a moral posiLion LhaL would hclp Lo auLhcnLicaLc
oncs prccxisLing idcnLiLy or bcing, and LhaL docs noL wanL Lo
rcprcscnL anyLhing or anyonc aL all.
35
InsLcad, HighsmiLhs pcda-
Sera|zng vo|ence :ij
gogyhcr Lraining o hcr own (Amcrican) rcadcrship LhaL is only
gradually in Lhc proccss o cmcrging (Lhc numbcr o lms bascd
on hcr work now in producLion pcrhaps suggcsLs Lhc quickcning
spccd o Lhis proccss, buL iL rcmains Lo bc sccn how, cxacLly, Lhcsc
lms will rcspond Lo hcr wriLing)opcraLcs by Lhc orcc o Lhc
FLcrnal RcLurn. Again Dclcuzc on NicLzschcs conccpL:
FLcrnal rcLurn cannoL mcan Lhc rcLurn o Lhc IdcnLical bc-
causc iL prcsupposcs a world (LhaL o Lhc will Lo powcr) in
which all prcvious idcnLiLics havc bccn abolishcd and dis-
solvcd. RcLurning is bcing, buL only Lhc bcing o bccoming.
Tc cLcrnal rcLurn docs noL bring back Lhc samc, buL rc-
Lurning consLiLuLcs Lhc only Samc o LhaL which bccomcs.
RcLurning is Lhc bccoming-idcnLical o bccoming iLscl. Rc-
Lurning is Lhus Lhc only idcnLiLy, buL idcnLiLy as a sccond-
ary powcr, Lhc idcnLiLy o dicrcncc, Lhc idcnLical which
bclongs Lo Lhc dicrcnL, or Lurns around Lhc dicrcnL. Such
an idcnLiLy, produccd by dicrcncc, is dcLcrmincd as rcpc-
LiLion. RcpcLiLion in Lhc cLcrnal rcLurn, Lhcrcorc, consisLs
in concciving Lhc samc on Lhc basis o Lhc dicrcnL. (Ler-
ence and Repetton :)
And bccausc only Lhc cxLrcmc orms rcLurnLhosc which [ . . . ]
cxLcnd Lo Lhc limiL o Lhcir powcr, Lransorming Lhcmsclvcs and
changing onc inLo anoLhcr [ . . . ] LhaL which passcs inLo somc-
Lhing clsc and bccomcs idcnLical (Dclcuzc, Lerence and Repet-
ton :), iL cvcnLually had Lo bc Lhc violcncc o Riplcy LhaL was
scrializcd. For iL is in Lhc rsL Riplcy novcl LhaL violcncc and judg-
mcnL Lransorm Lhcmsclvcs inLo cach oLhcr and bccomc idcnLi-
cal, Lhus orming a ncw, cxLrcmc orm o boLh violcncc and judg-
mcnL LhaL Lhus bccomc capablc o rcLurning.
Tc sccond hal o HighsmiLhs carccr, Lhcrcorc, is dominaLcd
by Lhc iLincraLion o hcr problcmaLic Lhrough Riplcys characLcr:
Rp|ey 0nder Cround (:j,o), Rp|eys Came, Te Poy who Fo||owed
Rp|ey (:j8o), and Rp|ey 0nder water (:jj:) cumulaLivcly inLcn-
siy Lhc achicvcmcnL o Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey. So, or insLancc, in
Rp|ey 0nderground, Toms acLions sLill bcar rcscmblancc Lo somc-
Sera|zng vo|ence :o
Lhing likc rcalism. To proLccL Lhc discovcry o his involvcmcnL in
an arL orgcry schcmc, hc kills Lhc man whom hc cars is abouL Lo
cxposc him. Tis insLancc o violcncc, Lhcn, sccms Lo havc a raLhcr
sLraighLorward, undcrsLandablc moLivc, unlikc Lhc violcncc in
Lhc ncxL Lhrcc novcls, which appcars Lo bc incrcasingly random,
mcaninglcss, and plainly cxprcssivc o whaL sccms Lo bc Toms
psychosis. YcL, cvcn in Rp|ey 0nder Cround, Lhc noLion o moLivc
is qucsLioncd, mosL compcllingly whcn Tom asks himscl abouL
why hc killcd Mr. Murchison: Hc wouldnL havc killcd somconc
jusL Lo savc DcrwaLL ILd. or cvcn Bcrnard, Tom supposcd. Tom
had killcd Murchison bccausc Murchison had rcalizcd, in Lhc
ccllar, LhaL hc had impcrsonaLcd DcrwaLL. Tom had killcd Mur-
chison Lo savc himscl. And ycL, Tom Lricd Lo ask himscl, had
hc inLcndcd Lo kill Murchison anyway whcn Lhcy wcnL down Lo
Lhc ccllar LogcLhcr` Had hc noL inLcndcd Lo kill him` Tom simply
could noL answcr LhaL. And did iL maLLcr much` (8jjo).
For Tom, Lhc answcr Lo Lhc lasL qucsLion is no, as Lhc rcsL
o Lhc novcl clarics. And Lhc rcpcaLcd, scrializcd a rmaLion
o Lhis nocxprcsscd in Lhis novcl Lhrough Toms words and
LhoughLs, and in Lhc coursc o all vc Riplcy novcls Lhrough High-
smiLhs sLylcinLcnsics HighsmiLhs conguraLion o moraliLy
as violcncc.
WiLh cach subscqucnL Riplcy novcl, HighsmiLh pushcs Lhc
amoraliLy o hcr soluLion Lo urLhcr, unrcalisLic cxLrcmcs. BuL
Lhis is prcciscly Lhc poinL. Tc vcry acL LhaL Riplcys violcnL
acLions bccomc incrcasingly lcss plausiblc, LhaL is, rcalisLic,
indicaLcs LhaL, aL lcasL or HighsmiLh, Lhc dcmand or rcalisLic
rcprcscnLaLions o violcncc is Lhc problcm, noL Lhc soluLion, or
rcalism iLscl LradiLionally uncLions as a moral law, a gcncral con-
ccpL, LhaL is supposcd Lo dcLcrminc Lhc social acccpLabiliLy o vio-
lcncc in cLional orm. Hcncc, Lhc violcncc o SLcvcn Spiclbcrgs
Schnd|ers Lst or Savng Prvate Ryan arc rcccivcd as good and
socially consLrucLivc, whcrcas Lhc violcncc o Lhc QucnLin Tar-
anLino school o violcncc Lcnds Lo bc condcmncd bccausc o iLs
hypcrrcalism or lack o rcalism, rcspccLivcly.
36
HighsmiLhs Riplcy
scrics, in conjuncLion wiLh Lhc inLcrjccLions o hcr oLhcr novcls,
Sera|zng vo|ence ::
shows LhaL moraliLy and rcalism havc liLLlc purchasc on Lhc orcc
o violcncc bccausc Lhc laLLcr is a qucsLion o accLivc orcc. To
aLLcmpL Lo undcrsLand Riplcy is Lhcrcorc as misguidcd as, Lo
rcLurn Lo an carlicr cvocaLion, Lhc corL Lo cxplain Lhc HolocausL
prcciscly bccausc Lhc way undcrsLanding and cxplaining prc-
dominanLly uncLion violaLcs Lhc singulariLy o Lhc cvcnLs. TaL
is Lo say, Lo do violcncc Lo violcncc is, incviLably, Lhc only modc
o rcsponsc availablc Lo us, which mcans noL so much LhaL wc
should noL Lry Lo undcrsLand or cxplain buL LhaL Lhcsc pracLiccs
and dcsircs will noL providc a soluLion dcLcrmincd as a way ouL.
1usL likc Flliss Amercan Psycho, Fmpre, or Dclcuzc (and CuaL-
Laris) philosophy, HighsmiLhs masochisLic pcdagogy o violcncc
insisLs LhaL Lhcrc is no cxiL, LhaL all wc havc is immancncc, and
LhaL Lhis onLological acL rcquircs us Lo rcspond Lo iL: rcsponsibil-
iLy as rcsponsc-abiliLy.
Wc mighL Lhink o Lhis parLicular LrajccLory o HighsmiLhs
cLion somcwhaL akin Lo a pcdagogical manualan how-Lo-rc-
spond-Lo-violcncc scrial novclLhaL produccs an unLimcly audi-
cncc or HighsmiLh, which would cxplain why hcr work has or
Lhc longcsL Limc lackcd Lhc popular and acadcmic succcss iL has
long cnjoycd abroad. Tis ycL Lo comc audicncc has rsL Lo bc gcn-
craLcd n immcrsing Lhcmsclvcs in hcr unusual LrcaLmcnL o Lhc
qucsLion o violcncc or Lhcm Lo bccomc capablc o lcarning how
Lo wiLhhold judgmcnLLhc Lypc o rcsponsc dominaLing criLi-
cal rcading and vicwing pracLiccs accLcd by a long LradiLion o
rcprcscnLaLional cncounLcrs wiLh languagc. In oLhcr words, whaL
may bc signicanL abouL Minghcllas adapLaLion o Te Ta|ented
Mr. Rp|ey is prcciscly iLs (poLcnLial) marking o Lhc arrival o a
parLicular Lypc o rcadcr (or vicwcr) who rsL had Lo cmcrgc wiLh
Lhc capaciLy Lo bc accLcd by HighsmiLhs pcculiar pcnchanL or
running Lhc qucsLion o violcncc Lhrough LhaL o judgmcnL. IL
musL bc poinLcd ouL, o coursc, LhaL Lhis cmcrgcncc is produccd
by innumcrablc orccs opcraLing in conjuncLion wiLh onc anoLhcr
and docs, in acL, noL dcpcnd on any givcn subjccL Lo havc rcad
any o HighsmiLhs work. RaLhcr, HighsmiLhs work sympLom-
izcs a largcr movcmcnLLhaL o FmpircLo which iL sLands in
Sera|zng vo|ence :i
muLual rcciprocaLion. BuL rcgardlcss o whcLhcr Lhc virLual orcc
produccd by and Lhrough Lhc inccssanL rcpcLiLion o HighsmiLhs
cndcavor has bcgun Lo bc acLualizcdLhaL is, whcLhcr or noL iL
has now sLarLcd Lo succccd aL producing an Amcrican audicncc
capablc o wclcoming hcr cLions parLicular way o rcsponding
Lo violcncc by showing how iL is always Lhc qucsLion o judgmcnL
par cxccllcncciL sccms Lo mc LhaL any cncounLcr wiLh (cLional)
violcncc could proL rom hccding HighsmiLhs aLLiLudc. To High-
smiLh, judgmcnL ncvcr providcs a saLisying, producLivc cnLry
inLo Lhc qucsLion o violcnccan (inLuiLivc) insighL LhaL shc cm-
braccd wiLh incrcasing orcc as hcr wriLing carccr maLurcd.
I pcrormancc, or raLhcr pcrormaLiviLy, is crucial Lo Lhc qucs-
Lion o violcncc (i.c., boLh HighsmiLhs pracLicc o wriLing wiLh iLs
aLLcndanL producLion o uLurc rcadcrs Lhrough habiLuaLion via
Lhc FLcrnal RcLurn in Lhc Dclcuzcan and NicLzschcan scnsc and
Riplcys cnacLing o his violcncc), as I havc suggcsLcd in Lhis chap-
Lcr, Lhcn wc mighL now wanL Lo Lurn Lo a morc spccic insLanLia-
Lion o violcnL actng.
37
And whcrc bcLLcr Lo Lurn Lo Lhan MarLin
Scorscsc, Lhc acclaimcd Amcrican dirccLor who also rcsponds Lo
Lhc problcmaLic o judgmcnL as a problcmaLic o violcncc` BuL,
morc prcciscly, Scorscsc rcsponds Lo his problcmaLic mosL com-
pcllingly, orccully, and amously Lhrough and wiLh Lhc hclp o
Lhc scrializaLion o his cincmaLic avaLarLhc acLor RobcrL Dc-
Niro.
First Prologue: A Poster on a Wall
A dark, run-down hallway wiLh sLonc walls oozing a scnsc o lLh
and dangcr. A man in a black jackcL, poinLing aL you a .8 Spccial
in his righL hand, a . Magnum in his lcL. Tc laLLcrs long barrcl
is so imposing LhaL you almosL can ccl Lhc cold, hard sLccl gcLLing
uncomorLably closc Lo your hcad. Framcd by Lhcsc Lwo rcarms,
clcarly rcady Lo shooL your brains ouL, is Lhc assassins dcmcnLcd
acc. His cycs, Lwo crazy hal moons, anLicipaLc immincnL joy. His
mouLh, mcrcly a crcsccnLlikc dark opcning, is conLorLcd in a grin.
And Lhcn Lhcrc is Lhc Mohawk. . . . TogcLhcr wiLh his cycs, iL rcn-
dcrs Lhc assassins acc bcyond good and cvil. Tc only hopc you
havc lcL is LhaL hc mighL havc orgoLLcn Lo load Lhc guns. Tink
again, suckcr!
Second Prologue: Are You Talkin to Me?
As I rcpcaLcdly claimcd in Lhc prcvious chapLcrs, violcncc has
rcmaincd a rcmarkably undcrLhcorizcd conccpLand LhaL is dc-
spiLc, or raLhcr bccausc o, iLs ubiquiLy in conLcmporary Amcr-
ican culLurc. A rcccnL criLical argumcnL has givcn voicc Lo Lhis
paradox. Film scholar William RoLhman arLiculaLcs Lhc paradox
rcsulLing rom Lhc simulLanciLy o Lhc dcspiLc and bccausc o
Lhc prcvious scnLcncc. Hc argucs LhaL Amcrica is a lcss violcnL
Rendering Violence Visible on Screen
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
placc Lhan iL uscd Lo bc [buL] Amcricans be|eve LhaL violcncc is
cscalaLing ouL o conLrol, LhaL iL is LhrcaLcning Lhc moral abric
o our socicLy, and LhaL Lhc prolicraLion o violcncc in Lhc mass
mcdia, cspccially Lhc graphic violcncc in Lodays movics, is a
causc, and noL only a sympLom, o Lhis LhrcaL (,). I RoLhmans
paradox is validand I Lhink Lhcrc is no shorLagc o cvidcncc or
iLLhcn I wanL Lo suggcsL in Lhis chapLcr LhaL Lhis paradox cx-
isLs bccausc o a widcly acccpLcd conccpLual disLincLion bcLwccn
Lhcory and pracLicc. In Lcrms o violcncc, Lhis opposiLional
division bcLwccn Lhcory and pracLicc LhaL pcrmcaLcs conLcmpo-
rary culLurc cnablcs and ulLimaLcly validaLcs Lhc sccmingly com-
monscnsical dcclaraLion LhaL onc knows violcncc whcn onc sccs
or cxpcricnccs iL. Tc vcry noLion o scl-cvidcncc implicd by Lhis
claim casLs a Lhcory o violcncc as rcdundanL prcciscly bccausc
o Lhc allcgcd phcnomcnological obviousncss o violcncc (i.c., iLs
pracLiccs and pracLical manicsLaLions).
In rcsponsc Lo Lhis all Loo oLcn unqucsLioncd conccpLual
binary bcLwccn Lhcory and pracLicc (o violcncc), I wanL Lo a-
rm Michcl FoucaulL and Cillcs Dclcuzcs insisLcncc LhaL Lhcory
s pracLicc, or LhaL pracLicc s Lhcory, LhaL, as Lhcy arguc, prac-
Licc is a scL o rclays rom onc LhcorcLical poinL Lo anoLhcr, and
[LhaL] Lhcory is a rclay rom onc pracLicc Lo anoLhcr (io6). For
iL is pcrhaps only by rcconguring Lhc paradoxical dcbaLc sur-
rounding Lhc prob|ematque o violcncc LhaL wc mighL bc ablc Lo
cccL a signicanL changc in criLicisms commonplacc (judgmcn-
Lal) rcsponsc habiLs Lo violcncc (in cincma or cLion). I suggcsL,
Lhcrcorc, LhaL wc now Lurn Lo a pracLiLioncr o, in Lhis casc, lm
violcncc in ordcr Lo gain through Lhis pracLicc o violcncc onc spc-
cic Lhcory Lhcrco. Which brings mc back Lo Lhc rsL prologuc.
Tc posLcr dcscribcd abovc currcnLly accs mc, hanging on Lhc
wall abovc my compuLcr, drawing mc inLo a zonc o proximiLy
wiLh iLs promincnL acc and Lhc accLivc chargc iL orccully cx-
crLs on mc:
Arc you Lalkin Lo mc` Arc you Lalkin Lo mc`
Tcn who Lhc hcll clsc arc you Lalkin Lo`
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
Wcll, Im Lhc only onc hcrc . . .
Who Lhc uck do you Lhink yourc Lalkin Lo`!
O coursc, Lhc posLcr is noL Lalking Lo mc, or Lo anyonc clsc or
LhaL maLLcr. BuL iL kccps ascinaLing mc, iL conLinucs Lo cngagc
mc cvcry Limc I look aL iL. Morc prcciscly, whaL accLs mc is a sin-
gular momcnL o violcncc Lhis posLcr rcndcrs scnsiblc. Tis acc-
Livcly Langiblc scnsaLion o violcncc is prcscnLcd noL Lhrough dc-
picLions o blood or spillcd guLs, blown-up cars, or a nuclcar cloud
mushrooming ovcr a dcsLroycd ciLyscapc. InsLcad, Lhc violcncc
o scnsaLion is Lriggcrcd by and Lhrough Lhc acc o Travis Bicklc,
amcd main characLcr o MarLin Scorscscs landmark lm Tax
Lrver (:j,6).
l
Or raLhcr, Lhc accLivc chargc cxcrLcd upon mc
dirccLly cmiLs rom Lhc acc o RobcrL DcNiroan acLor whosc
acc has violcnLly brandcd iLscl inLo Lhc collccLivc (un)conscious
o movic audicnccs morc Lhan LhaL o any oLhcr (Amcrican) movic
acLor in rcccnL mcmory.
2
Fxprcssing his admiraLion or DcNiros capaciLics as an acLor,
lm scholar 1amcs Narcmorc argucs in his scminal sLudy Actng
n the Cnema LhaL DcNiro is noL only a Lhoroughgoing naLu-
ralisL [buL] also a sophisLicaLcd LhcorisL (i6,). Concurring wiLh
Lhis asscssmcnL, I ccl noncLhclcss compcllcd Lo rcormulaLc
Narcmorcs insighLul characLcrizaLion and claim LhaL DcNiro
mighL vcry wcll bc our bcsL theoretcan o violcncc (aL lcasL in
cincma) prcciscly bccausc hc is Lhc mosL consisLcnL and rcqucnL
practtoner o scrccn violcncc (in Lhc scnsc LhaL hc parLicipaLcs
in and cxpcrimcnLs wiLh iL). And in his cvolving rolc as Amcricas
grcaL LhcorisL o violcncc DcNiro has gradually bccomc Lhc un-
dispuLcd acc o violcncc in Amcrican cincma, indccd in Amcri-
can culLurc.
Analyzing how DcNiro has acializcd violcncc should Lhcrc-
orc advancc Lhc Lask aL handnamcly, Lo rcLhink (criLicisms
abiliLy Lo rcspond Lo) violcncc qua violcncc, as an accLivc, asigni-
ying rcgimc o inLcnsiLics and scnsaLion LhaL soliciLs audicnccs
ascinaLion morc Lhan Lhcir dcsirc, lcL alonc capaciLy, Lo undcr-
sLand whcn cxposcd Lo iL in lm or oLhcr culLural producLions.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
Why ascinaLion` Bccausc iL cxprcsscs a parLicular aLLracLion Lo
a kind o imagc LhaL cannoL bc circumscribcd by Lhc sLandard
psychoanalyLic conccpLs o Lhc voycurisLic gazc and iLs sadomas-
ochisLic implicaLions. For, as Mauricc BlanchoL argucs in his rc-
sponsc Lo Lhc qucsLion Why ascinaLion` LhaL hc posiLs in Lhc
conLcxL o Te Space oj Lterature, whcn whaL you scc, alLhough
aL a disLancc, sccms Lo Louch you wiLh a gripping conLacL, [ . . . ]
whcn whaL is sccn imposcs iLscl upon Lhc gazc, as i Lhc gazc
wcrc scizcd [Lhcn whaL] is givcn us by Lhis conLacL aL a disLancc is
Lhc imagc, and jascnaton s passon jor the mage (i, my cmpha-
sis). BlanchoL cncouragcs us hcrc Lo hccd ascinaLion as a passion,
a dcgrcc o inLcnsiLy, a bccoming-accLcd by somcLhing or somc-
onc clsc. Tis bccoming-accLcd has noL ncccssarily anyLhing aL
all Lo do wiLh a dcsirc Lo dominaLc or bc dominaLcd (which, or
psychoanalyLic lm Lhcory, arc dcsircs LhaL Lcnd Lo comc as an
inscparablc pair). ALLcnding Lo Lhis ascinaLionmosL oLcn rcg-
isLcrcd on and cxprcsscd Lhrough a jace (Lhink o a childs asLon-
ishcd, dumboundcd gazc Lriggcrcd by somcLhing unamiliar, or
hcr gaping mouLh in rcsponsc Lo, c.g., a magicians Lrick)I sug-
gcsL wiLh liLcrary criLic 1crcy Karnicky LhaL ascinaLions valuc
lics in prcvcnLing inLcrprcLaLion o a ccrLain kind (Contempo-
rary Fcton 8), onc LhaL always Lurns Loo quickly Lo Lhc dcsirc
Lo undcrsLand and judgc Lhc imagc raLhcr Lhan cncounLcr iLs
opcraLivc orcc on iLs own Lcrms.
Diagnosing Lhc proccss o DcNiros bccoming-violcnL Lhrough
his acializaLion o violcncc, Lhus, is mcanL Lo aLLcnd Lo Lhc
orcc wc call ascinaLion and LhaL wc mosL oLcn wiLncss on and
Lhrough Lhc acc o somconc clsc. Howcvcr, accs, as Dclcuzc and
CuaLLari arguc, cannoL bc assumcd Lo comc rcady-madc. Tcy
arc cngcndcrcd by an abstract machne oj jaca|ty (Tousand
P|ateaus :68).
3
Faccs arc maps, or suraccs. Tus, our diagnosis
o DcNiros bccoming-violcnL musL dclincaLc Lhc dcvclopmcnL
o his acialiLyhis giving acc Lo imagcs o violcnccovcr Lhc
coursc o his carccr. BuL bccausc you donL so much havc a acc
as slidc inLo onc (:,,), wc musL do morc Lhan jusL map DcNiros
changing acc. I a acc is noL Lo bc had, Lhcn a spccic pro-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
ccssDclcuzc and CuaLLari call iL acialiLymusL producc iL.
FacialiLy diagrams proccsscs o LcrriLorializaLion o mulLiplc
orccs LhaL includc Lhosc o Lhc cnLirc body LhaL comcs Lo bc a-
cializcd as parL o an incviLablc proccss (:,o). Our masocriLical
diagnosis musL Lhcrcorc also hccd Lhc discoursc mosL closcly
associaLcd wiLh DcNiro as an acLor: LhaL o so-callcd McLhod
acLing wiLh iLs aLLcndanL psychological conccpLs o acLing ouL
and working Lhrough.
Tc promincncc o whaL is commonly callcd Lhc McLhod
in Amcrican cincma o Lhc posLWorld War II cra has lcd Lo an
(popularizcd) associaLion o acLing wiLh mimcsis (imiLaLion, rcp-
rcscnLaLion). Howcvcr, I will show LhaL DcNiros mcLhod is o a
dicrcnL kind, onc LhaL has cmcrgcd ouL o Lhc hisLory o McLhod
acLing buL LhaL has madc somc crucial alLcraLions. ALLcnding Lo
Lhis dicrcncc, I Lhink, will rcsulL in a conccpLualizing o cnacLcd
violcncc LhaL qucsLions and ulLimaLcly bypasscs any psychoana-
lyLic undcrsLanding o iL. Tc laLLcr rcads violcncc and iLs mulLiplc
occurrcnccs (pracLiccs) as immoral acLing ouL o rcprcsscd dcsircs
or mcmorics LhaL arc Lriggcrcd Lhrough Lhc proccss o mimcsis
(which is how criLics Lcnd Lo rcad Tom Riplcy). PsychoanalyLic
discourscs rcspond Lo Lhc discasc o acLing ouL by advocaLing
Lhc raLional, LhcrapcuLic proccss o working Lhrough (Lhcory) as
Lhc ncccssary (and only) curc. Bascd Lhoroughly on a rcprcscn-
LaLional undcrsLanding o acLing LhaL has cmcrgcd rom Lhc pop-
ularizaLion o Lhc McLhod, psychoanalyLic lm criLicism Lcnds
Lo hold as supcrior Lhcory Lo pracLicc, working Lhrough Lo acL-
ing ouL, mourning Lo mclancholia. In conLrasL, DcNiros pracLicc
Lhcorizcs a dicrcnL conccpLualizaLion o violcncconc LhaL dc-
ploys acLing ouL and working Lhrough as undamcnLally accLivc,
and Lhus immancnL, proccsscs. I working Lhrough and acLing ouL
sLand in an immancnL rclaLion Lo cach oLhcr, howcvcr, Lhcn Lhc
sLandard judgmcnL lcvicd againsL violcncc as a bad acLing ouL
bccomcs impossibly usclcss, indccd scl-dccaLing, prcciscly bc-
causc working Lhrough always and ncccssarily Lurns ouL Lo bc an
acLing ouL.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :8
Te Violence of Mourning and Melancholia
Tc blockbusLcr comcdy Meet the Parents (dir. 1ay Roach, iooo)
opcns wiLh Randy Ncwmans amiliar soundLrack voicc chccr-
ily inLoning, Whcn yourc a ool in lovc, whilc documcnLary-
likc shoLs o Lhc happy acc o a young woman appcar on scrccn.
SubscqucnLly, wc arc inLroduccd Lo malc nursc Crcg Fockcr (Bcn
SLillcr) who is gcLLing rcady Lo proposc Lo his girlricnd, Pam By-
rncs (Tcri Polo), an clcmcnLary school Lcachcr whosc acc was
jusL documcnLcd in Lhc lms opcning shoLs. Typical or a com-
mcrcially markcLcd romanLic comcdy, Lhc good inLcnLions o Lhc
groom Lo bc arc inLcrrupLcdin Lhis casc by a wcll-placcd phonc
call. Ovcrhcaring Lhc cnsuing phonc convcrsaLion, Crcg gradually
rcalizcs Lhc imprudcncc o his plan Lo proposc Lo Pam as long as
hc has noL ycL obLaincd Lhc conscnL o Pams aLhcr.
ALcr a cw addiLional comcdic sccncs involving Lhc Lrials and
LribulaLions amiliar Lo any air Lravclcr, wc wiLncss Lhc couplc ap-
proaching Pams parcnLs considcrablc suburban propcrLy. As Lhcy
pull Lhcir rcnLcd Ford Taurus up Lo Lhc housc, Pam insLrucLs Crcg
LhaL hc should Lakc iL casy wiLh [his] sarcasm, sincc his humor
would bc cnLircly wasLcd wiLh [hcr] parcnLs. AL Lhis momcnL, an
ominous mclody inLoncs, and Lhc camcra cuLs rom a mcdium-
closc Lracking shoL o Lhc moving car Lo a low-anglc closc-up o
a sccond-sLory window. From Lhc curLain pccrs Lhc calm, clcan-
shavcn acc o Pams aLhcr, 1ack. His dark cycs, conLorLcd inLo
inLcnsc sliLs, arc scparaLcd by Lwo vcrLical crcascs on his orchcad.
Tc imposing Romancsquc nosc acccnLuaLcs Lhc linc o Lhc cycs
downcasL gazc. And Lhc rowning Lhinncss o Lhc LighL-lippcd
mouLh, ramcd by Lwo dccp urrows poinLing downward, nishcs
Lhc visual composiLion o a acc LhaL in iLs cxprcssivcncss sug-
gcsLs Lhc poLcnLial or cnsuing violcncc. Tc camcra Lhcn dirccLs
our aLLcnLion back Lo Lhc arriving young couplc, Lhis Limc rom
1acks pcrspccLivc up high. Wc ainLly hcar Lhc couplc chaLLcring,
indicaLing LhaL our cars arc wiLh 1ack bchind Lhc window, his
prcscncc sLill undcLccLcd by Crcg and Pam. Tc camcra cuLs onc
morc Limc back Lo 1ack, his acc unchangcd. Tis vcry rcpcLiLion,
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :j
howcvcr, inLcnsics Lhc acial cxprcssion, pushing iLs gloomincss
Lo Lhc poinL whcrc wc mighL cxpccL iL Lo cxplodc.
Whcn wc ncxL scc Pam rcprimanding Crcg or aLLcmpLing Lo
smokc (Daddy docs noL likc smoking!), wc a|ready know LhaL Bcn
SLillcrs characLcr is in Lroublc. In acL, likc so much clsc during
Lhc coursc o Lhc movicincluding Lhc inormaLion LhaL 1ack is
a ormcr cit agcnL spccializing in LcsLing suspccLs on Lhcir sLaLc-
mcnLs LruLhulncsswc do noL nccd Lhis piccc o inormaLion
Lo scnsc LhaL Crcg will havc a di culL Limc wiLh 1ack. Tus ar,
wc havc bccn inLroduccd only Lo 1acks jace, buL wc rcally do noL
nccd any urLhcr proo or 1acks poLcnLial or bccoming-violcnL.
For, aLcr all, 1acks acc, so cccLivcly inLroduccd in Lhc prcvious
shoLs, bclongs Lo RobcrL DcNiro.
Onc ycar prior Lo his mosL commcrcially succcssul movic
Lo daLc, DcNiro sLarrcd in anoLhcr popular Hollywood comcdy,
Ana|yze Ts (dir. Harold Ramis).
4
Whcrcas in Meet the Parents,
DcNiro did not acLually play a violcnL characLcr (aL lcasL, 1ack is
ncvcr shown Lo cxcrL physical orcc, and wc havc no cvidcncc LhaL
hc uscd iL oscrccn), Lhc carlicr comcdys main dcvicc plays on iLs
audicnccs knowlcdgc o somc o RobcrL DcNiros mosL amous
rolcs. 1usL as in Mean Streets (dir. MarLin Scorscsc, :j,), Te
Codjather !! (dir. Francis Ford Coppola, :j,), Once 0pon a Tme n
Amerca (dir. Scrgio Iconc, :j8), Te 0ntouchab|es (dir. Brian Dc-
Palma, :j8,), CoodFe||as (dir. MarLin Scorscsc, :jjo), and Casno
(dir. MarLin Scorscsc, :jj), hc plays a characLcr involvcd wiLh
Lhc mob, and jusL as in somc o his oLhcr amous rolcs in classics
such as Tax Lrver, Ragng Pu|| (dir. MarLin Scorscsc, :j8o), Cape
Fear (dir. MarLin Scorscsc, :jj:), or Heat (dir. Michacl Mann,
:jj), his characLcr is cxpliciLly associaLcd wiLh his willingncss
Lo o pcoplc who sLand in his way. YcL, unlikc all Lhcsc lms,
Ana|yze Ts plays DcNiros violcnL characLcrpowcrul crimc
amily rackcLccr Paul ViLLyor laughs. TaL is, in conLrasL Lo any
o DcNiros canonical pcrormanccs, Lhc cxprcssion o violcncc
(and iLs acLual occasion) docs not dcpcnd on iL bcing acLcd ouL in
a scnsaLional manncr or iL Lo bc cccLivc. InsLcad, as Lhc lms
psychoanalyLically inccLcd LiLlc indicaLcs, in Lhis movic violcncc
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :o
dischargcs iLs accLivc orcc on Lhc lcvcl o scnsaLion Lhrough iLs
occurrcncc in Lhc orm o a working Lhrough.
Or docs iL`
+
In Hstory and Memory ajter Auschwtz, culLural hisLorian and
LhcorisL Dominick IaCapra scLs in moLion Frcuds wcll-known
dicrcnLiaLion bcLwccn mourning (working Lhrough) and mclan-
cholia (acLing ouL) as a mcans o dclincaLing Lwo dicrcnL kinds
o rcsponscs wiLh which HolocausL survivors dcal wiLh Lhc mcm-
ory o AuschwiLzan inLcnscly LraumaLic cvcnL LhaL conLinucs
Lo bc Lhc lcading imagc o cvil in our Limcs (Knox).
5
IaCapras
(psycho)analyLic languagc sLrongly bcars on Lhc prcscnL discus-
sion, noL bccausc I mcan Lo imply LhaL Lhc violcncc o AuschwiLz
is o Lhc samc kind as LhaL o Hollywood lms, buL bccausc his
analysis symptomatca||y cxprcsscs a ccrLain Lcndcncy o Lhc
gcncral discoursc on violcncc in conLcmporary U.S. culLurc. As
wc havc sccn in carlicr chapLcrs, Lhc languagc o acLing (ouL) is
oLcn uscd in conjuncLion wiLh violcnL cvcnLs o lcsscr naLurc
Lhan AuschwiLz. Tom Riplcys violcnL characLcr, or insLancc, is
rcqucnLly rcad in conjuncLion wiLh his abiliLy Lo acL, LhaL is, Lo
impcrsonaLc or imiLaLc oLhcrs. And in BrcL FasLon Flliss violcnL
cLion, (Lhc acLion o) characLcrs such as PaLrick BaLcman or Vic-
Lor Ward rom C|amorama arc oLcn narraLcd Lhrough a languagc
rcsonaLing wiLh (cincmaLic) acLing. (In acL, VicLor Ward acLually
bclicvcs LhaL hc is an acLor in an claboraLc snu lm.)
6
In Lhc
idiom o (pop) psychology, or cxamplc, wc rcqucnLly nd claims
sLaLing LhaL, say, Lhc Lccnagc killcrs o Columbinc acLcd ouL rc-
prcsscd anLasics. For insLancc, in whaL I Lakc Lo bc a Lypical mo-
mcnL in Lhc discoursc surrounding Lhis Lragcdy, Carolinc Schomp
posiLs Lo hcr Lenver Post rcadcrs Lhc ollowing qucsLion: WhaL
wcnL wrong in Lhc amilics o Lhc gun-LoLing, bomb-wiclding chil-
drcn LhaL Lhosc childrcn nccdcd Lo act out Lhcir alicnaLion and
hosLiliLy so caLaclysmically (s::, cmphasis minc). WhaL oLcn
is assumcd, indccd implicd, ycL noL cxpliciLly arLiculaLcd in such
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro ::
qucsLions or sLaLcmcnLs is LhaL in Lhcsc discourscs on violcncc
acLing (ouL) dcnoLcs a bad Lhing. IaCapras acadcmic wriLing
sympLomaLically cxcmplics how crucial Lhis linkagc bcLwccn
acLing and moraliLy has bccomca linkagc so naLuralizcd LhaL
iL sccms Lo bc bcyond conLcsLabiliLy and as such has signicanL
conscqucnccs or Lhc qucsLion o lm violcncc.
IaCapra argucs LhaL oncs (criLical) rcsponsc Lo LraumaLic
cvcnLs incviLably cnLails an aectve componcnL. In acL, Lo achicvc
a hcalLhy rcsponsc Lo Lrauma, IaCapra posiLs as impcraLivc Lhc
subjccLs nccd Lo undcrgo aL lcasL muLcd Lrauma and allow LhaL
Lrauma (or unscLLlcmcnL) Lo accL oncs approach Lo problcms
(o). YcL, hc conLinucs Lo cmbcllish on his insighL inLo Lhc acc-
Livc qualiLy o rcsponsc by csscnLially wanLing Lo downplay, i noL
aL-ouL dcnigraLc, iLs casibiliLy. So hc wriLcs LhaL onc should
noL rcmain aL Lhc lcvcl o acLing-ouL or absoluLizc Lhc laLLcr in
Lhc orm o an aLLcmpL acLually Lo rclivc or appropriaLc oLhcrs
Lraumas [ . . . ] Fvcn i Lrauma cannoL bc ully ovcrcomc, as iL
may noL bc or vicLims o limiL-cascs or cvcn or aLLcnLivc scc-
ondary wiLncsscs, iL may bc counLcracLcd by Lhc aLLcmpL Lo work
Lhrough problcms, mourn Lhc vicLims o Lhc pasL, and rccngagc
lic in Lhc inLcrcsL o bringing abouL a qualiLaLivcly bcLLcr sLaLc o
aairs (o).
In Lhis Lypical passagc, IaCapra ascribcs mcaningor, morc
Lcllingly, moral valucLo Lwo dicrcnL Lypcs o practce. Indccd,
Frcud himscl is quiLc cxpliciL abouL Lhc moral valuaLion inhcrcnL
Lo Lhcsc Lwo Lcrms. In Mourning and Mclancholia, hc links mcl-
ancholia Lo abnormal sadomasochisLic bchavior paLLcrns cmcrg-
ing rom unrcsolvcd Ocdipal conicLs and Lhus characLcrizcs Lhc
mclancholic as paLhological (:) and obscssional (:6:). And
ycL, Frcud dcclarcs aL Lhc bcginning o his cssaybejore hc rc-
ducLivcly maps Lhc mclancholic onLo OcdipusLhaL mclancholia
is judgcd ncgaLivcly and mourning posiLivcly on|y bccausc o Lhc
lack o cxisLing inormaLion abouL Lhc ormcr and Lhc abundancc
o knowlcdgc abouL Lhc laLLcr. As hc wriLcs, IL is rcally only bc-
causc wc know so wcll how Lo exp|an [mourning] LhaL Lhis aLLi-
Ludc docs noL sccm Lo us paLhological (:, my cmphascs), as
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :i
mclancholia docs. TaL which is amiliar and Lhus possiblc Lo ra-
LionalizcLhaL which wc bclicvc wc knowis dccmcd normal.
According Lo Frcud, howcvcr, Lhis happcns only bccausc o Lhc
rcqucncy wiLh which a phcnomcnon occurs and Lhus bccomcs
availablc Lo us as an cxpcricncc and, cvcnLually, knowlcdgc. In
oLhcr words, cvcn or Frcud Lhcrc is noLhing naLurally bcLLcr
abouL ciLhcr mourning or mclancholia. RaLhcr, Lhc dcLcrmina-
Lion o valuc clcarly dcrivcs rom a spccic proccss o socializa-
Lion in which Lhc rcpcaLcd cnacLmcnL o powcr rclaLions habiLu-
aLcnormalizcccrLain ows o dcsirc as morally acccpLablc
and oLhcrs as unacccpLablc Lo Lhc social ordcr. Civcn LhaL Frcud
himscl calls aLLcnLion Lo Lhc social proccsscs producLivc o cpis-
Lcmological bclics LhaL arc cvcnLually rcLcrriLorializcd as naLu-
ral moral valucs, iL is all Lhc morc rcmarkablc LhaL Frcud nonc-
Lhclcss cnds up orgcLLing his own insighL and insLcad cxplains
mclancholia as a lack, as a morally problcmaLic dcviaLion rom a
normal rcsponsc Lo Lrauma.
IaCapras rcqucnL rcpcaLing o Lhc claim LhaL wiLh rccr-
cncc Lo Lrauma, acLing-ouL may bc a ncccssary condiLion o work-
ing-Lhrough () mcrcly givcs voicc Lo Lhc inhcrcnL moral(izcd)
qualiLy o Frcuds original disLincLion. Unsurprisingly, Lhcn, a||
posiLivc valuaLions in IaCapras argumcnL arc rcscrvcd or Lhc
proccss o working Lhrough. I acLing ouL Lurns ouL Lo bc ncccs-
sary aL all, Lhcn only bcgrudgingly so, and mcrcly as a mcans Lo a
highcr (rcad: hcalLhicr and morally supcrior) cnd. In Lhc passagc
quoLcd carlicr, working Lhrough cmcrgcs as a modc o rcsponsc
counLcracLing Lhc cccLs o an acLing ouL. Or, in cxpliciLly cLhi-
cal Lcrms, IaCapra ovcrLly dcscribcs working Lhrough as cnabling
cLhically rcsponsiblc acLion and criLical judgmcnL (:86). FLhics
hcrc, howcvcr, is conccivcd o as moraliLy, as has bccomc obvious
rom an carlicr passagc in which hc argucs LhaL mourning allows
or criLical judgmcnL and a rcinvcsLmcnL in lic, noLably social
lic wiLh iLs dcmands, rcsponsibiliLics, and norms rcquiring rc-
spccLul rccogniLion and considcraLion or oLhcrs (). Tis Kan-
Lian-Habcrmasian Lcrminology bclics his laLcr insisLcnccs LhaL
his disLincLion docs noL connoLc a moral discoursc undcrlying iL.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
Oncc wc rccognizc his sophisLicaLcd acadcmic discoursc as
sympLomaLic o a morc gcncral discoursc LhaL rcgards violcncc as
an immoral acLing ouL o rcprcsscd dcsircs, IaCapras diagnosis
bccomcs cvcn morc inLcrcsLing or our prcscnL purposcs in LhaL
hc rcgards mclancholic acLing ouL as inLrinsically mimcLic ()
and dcncd by rcpcLiLion-compulsion () LhaL blocks [Lhc su-
pcrior work donc by] mourning and working-Lhrough in gcncral
(). Or, as indicaLcd in Lhc longcr quoLaLion carlicr, acLing ouL
is cquaLcd wiLh appropriaLion and rcliving, LhaL is, imiLaLion and
rc-prcscnLaLion. IaCapra cxprcsscs hcrc whaL wc can obscrvc in
mosL discourscs dcaling wiLh occurrcnccs o violcncc: namcly,
LhaL violcncc is considcrcd a mimcLic acLing ouL (an imiLaLion o
rcprcscnLcd acLions LhaL is pcrccLcd Lhrough an obscssivc rcp-
cLiLion o, say, lisLcning Lo Marilyn Manson songs or waLching
Natura| Porn K||ers), which is incviLably Lo bc judgcd as morally
bad.
7
So, acLing cquals mimcsis cquals rcpcLiLion. And, in Lurn,
Lhis LriparLiLc cquaLion incviLably cnds up sclling a moral sLancc
by appcaling Lo Lhc ncccssiLy o Lhc work o mourning. Tis ap-
pcal, howcvcr, comcs packagcd wiLh an cnLirc apparaLus o social
conLrol LhaL is ocrcd or rccso rcc, in acL, LhaL onc cannoL
choosc not Lo acccpL Lhis rccbic, jusL likc Lhc cxLra :o pcrccnL o
rcc LooLhpasLc cannoL bc cuL o rom Lhc rcsL o Lhc Lubc or
which onc has Lo pay. Only Lhc work o mourning, aciliLaLcd by
Lhc psychoanalysL (or Lhc pricsL or Lhc criLic), so Lhc chorus o
conLcmporary culLural criLicism inLoncs, will bring Lo lighLand
subscqucnLly curcLhc undcrlying causcs or a subjccLs unor-
LunaLc acLing ouL.
+
Dclcuzc and CuaLLari havc long providcd a compclling criLiquc o
Lhc psychoanalyLic conccpLion o Lhc unconscious as a LhcaLcra
sLagc LhaL cxprcsscs hiddcn dcsircs Lhrough rcprcscnLaLions.
S

Howcvcr, IaCapras rcliancc on a ncgaLivc conccpL o dcsirc (i.c.,
dcsirc as lack) docs noL mcrcly suggcsL Lhc conLinuing grip LhaL
psychoanalysis holds ovcr conLcmporary discourscs (which aL
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
lcasL parLially cxplains Lhc dominancc o concssional mcmoirs
on conLcmporary Amcrican bcsLscllcr lisLs). RaLhcr, iL indcxcs
Lhc imporLancc or anyonc inLcrcsLcd in lm Lo hccd Lhc powcr
o Lhc argumcnLs abiliLy Lo moralizc acLingonc o Lhc consttu-
tve pracLiccs o (nondocumcnLary) cincma. Spccically, Lhc Lypc
o argumcnL puL orLh by IaCapra casily lcads Lo a vicw o acLing
as a mimcLic proccdurc, which, in Lurn, will givc risc Lo urLhcr
rcpcLiLion compulsions. And i criLicism is noL dirccLly lcvicd aL
Lhc mimcLic bchavior o mimicking or copying, Lhcn iL dirccLs iL-
scl aL Lhc abnormal compulsion Lo rcpcaL, as rcal world con-
scqucnccs arc carcd Lo occur on Lhc planc consLiLuLcd by rcpcLi-
Lion.
Dclcuzc and CuaLLari arc, o coursc, noL alonc in Lhcir criLiquc
o psychoanalysis. In acL, onc could show how Ana|yze Tsa
posLmodcrn comcdy LhaL knowingly spoos many o DcNiros a-
mous violcnL mobsLcr rolcscincmaLically dcconsLrucLs IaCap-
ras (and psychoanalysiss) binary arLiculaLion o acLing ouL and
working Lhrough. A closc analysis o Lhc lm would indccd rcvcal
LhaL Lhc lm rcpcaLcdly plays wiLh Lhcsc Lwo conccpLs. To poinL
only Lo Lhc mosL promincnL cxamplcs rom Lhc lm, Lhc rclaLion-
ship bcLwccn psychoLhcrapisL Bcn Sobcl (Billy CrysLal) and mob-
sLcr boss Paul ViLLy is rom Lhc bcginning sLrucLurcd around a
conicL bcLwccn Lwo dcsircs: LhaL o psychoanalysiss caLcgorical
impcraLivc Lo Lalk or work Lhrough, and Lhc Maas dcmand LhaL
iLs mcmbcrs shuL up and bc ablc Lo acL ouL Lhc violcncc iLs busi-
ncss rcquircs. Tc lm maps ouL Lhc spccic cccLs o Lhcsc Lwo
pracLiccs, rcvcaling LhaL working Lhrough, ar rom bcing a mor-
ally supcrior caLcgory, is always consLiLuLcd by an acLing ouL. And
Lhc laLLcr is a undamcnLally nonmimcLic pracLicc, sincc iL always
arLiculaLcs a singular rcsponsc Lo a givcn siLuaLion. Wc lcarn Lhis
mosL clcarly in onc o Lhc lms kcy sccncs in which Sobcl has
nally goLLcn ViLLy Lo iniLiaLc his proccss o mourning. Far rom
producing posiLivc cccLs, howcvcr, all Lhis docs aL Lhc momcnL
is cndangcr Lhcir livcs. ViLLy cnds up so immobilizcd as hc sobs
on his LhcrapisLs shouldcrs LhaL hc cannoL gcL shooLing whcn
hc and Sobcl arc bcing rcd aL by assassins supporLivc o his cn-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
cmy, rival Maa boss Primo. Working Lhrough wiLhouL Lhc abiliLy
Lo acL ouL, according Lo Ana|yze Ts, is ncarly worLhlcss. In acL,
Sobcl himscl is smarL cnough Lo rcalizc Lhis, as hc rcs ViLLys
gun in scl-dccnsc. Howcvcr, cvcn Lhough Sobcl shooLs, hc docs
noL hiL anybody: acLing ouL rcquircs LhaL you pracLicc, LhaL you
work Lhrough Lhc spccic Lask aL hand.
WiLhouL advocaLing violcncc by any mcans, Ana|yze Ts dc-
picLs Lhrough DcNiros McLhodically cnacLcd characLcrs rclaLion-
ship Lo a psychoanalysL LhaL Lhc Lwo rcsponsc mcchanisms Lo Lhc
cxpcricncc o violcnL Lraumamclancholia and mourningarc
consLiLuLivc o, raLhcr Lhan disLincL rom, cach oLhcr. TaL is, Lhis
lm cincmaLically orcgrounds LhaL working Lhrough always cn-
Lails an acLing ouL and acLing ouL always pcrorms Lhc proccss o
working Lhrough. ImporLanLly, as I will arguc laLcr in Lhis chapLcr,
in Lhc sccLion Analyzc Lhc Facc, Ana|yze Ts accomplishcd Lhis,
jusL as Meet the Parents a ycar laLcr or lms such as CoodFe||as, Ca-
sno, or Heat a cw ycars carlicr, by cmphasizing Lhc acialiLy o
DcNiros bccoming-violcnL. For Lhc momcnL, howcvcr, I mcrcly
wanL Lo mark LhaL Ana|yze Ts complicaLcs Lhc proccsscs o acL-
ing ouL and working Lhrough by insisLing LhaL acLingindccd, Lhc
vcry abiliLy Lo acLis a ncccssary and arcprcscnLaLional sLruc-
Lural componcnL o boLh mourning and mclancholia. IL Lhus pulls
Lhc smug rug o moraliLy rom undcrncaLh Lhc vcry conccpLs LhaL
arc supposcd Lo providc a doublc arLiculaLion Lhcrco. BuL i cvcn
an cvcnL as sccmingly innocuous as a mainsLrcam Hollywood
producL can providc a rclaLivcly asLuLc criLiquc o conLcmporary
culLurcs psychoanalyLically inccLcd undcrsLanding o acLing,
Lhcn why has Lhc cquaLion acLing cquals mimcsis Lakcn such a
LighL hold o (popular) Amcrican culLurc`
A Brief Genealogy of the Method, Part
TaL IaCapra congurcs acLing as a mimcLic opcraLionan acL-
ing ouL akin Lo Lhc proccss o whaL psychoanalysis calls Lhc rc-
Lurn o Lhc rcprcsscdshould noL bc considcrcd coincidcnLal
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
or a choicc pcculiar only Lo IaCapras poLcnLially unschoolcd
criLical cyc whcn iL comcs Lo Lhc qucsLion o whaL acLing is or
how iL works. QuiLc Lhc opposiLc is Lhc casc. In posLwar Amcri-
can culLurc, Lhc gcncral conccpL o acLing has undoubLcdly bccn
inccLcd by a morc spccic noLion o acLing: Lo wiL, McLhod acL-
ing, which iLscl is shoL Lhrough wiLh Lhc languagc o imiLaLion. IL
docs Lhus noL comc as a surprisc LhaL IaCapras psychoanalyLical
conccpLs dcploy Lhc languagc o acLing qua rcprcscnLaLion. And
ycL, a closcr look aL Lhc McLhod will show LhaL iLs currcnL congu-
raLion as mimcsis is raLhcr pcculiar.
My goal hcrc is noL Lo work Lhrough Lhc long hisLory o acLing,
wiLh iLs aLLcndanL Lhcorics and pracLiccs rcgarding boLh sLagc
and cincma acLing.
0
A cw commcnLs on Lhc hisLory o McLhod
acLing arc in ordcr hcrc, Lhough, bccausc Lhis spccic insLanLia-
Lion o acLing has dominaLcd Amcrican posLWorld War II acLing
Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL iL has bccomc Lhc mosL inucnLial orm o
acLing o Lhc lasL Ly ycars.
IL should bc poinLcd ouL, howcvcr, LhaL Lhis claim holds Lruc
mainly or whaL is known as rcalisL lm. Whilc many orms o rc-
alism cxisL in Lhc hisLory o cincma, onc can crudcly dicrcnLiaLc
bcLwccn aL lcasL Lwo. FirsL, Lhc Lypc o scamlcss rcalism pro-
duccd cvcr sincc Hollywood cincma pcrccLcd Lhc shoL/counLcr-
shoL shooLing sLylc LhaL cnds up naLuralizing lm imagcs as rcp-
rcscnLing an unmcdiaLcd rcal world (scc Bordwcll, SLaigcr, and
Tompson, C|assca| Ho||ywood Cnema, or Lhc canonical work on
classical Hollywood cincma sLylc) is clcarly Lhc dominanL modc o
Amcrican lmmaking up unLil Lhis day. Tc sccond Lypc o rcal-
ism could bc callcd acsLhcLic rcalism, which hisLorically can bc
Lraccd Lo Lhc Frcnch pocLic rcalisL dirccLors and was cvcnLually
Lhcorizcd by Frcnch lm criLic Andrc Bazin. Whcrcas Hollywood
rcalism rcduccs rcaliLy Lo Lhc onc iL shows us on scrccn (all Lhc
whilc lcading us Lo bclicvc LhaL whaL wc scc on scrccn is rcaliLy in
iLs LoLaliLy), acsLhcLic rcalism orcgrounds LhaL, in Lhc words o
Susan Hayward, rcalism produccs rcalisms (ijj).
l0
In any casc, McLhod acLing has so pcrmcaLcd Amcrican cul-
Lurc LhaL, Lo usc Lhc words o rhcLorical LhcorisL Crcgory Ulmcr,
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
cvcn Lhosc who arc noL amiliar wiLh Lhc Lhcory [o McLhod
acLing] arc amiliar wiLh Lhc producL, Hollywood acLing (::).
Ulmcr impliciLly suggcsLs hcrc LhaL audicnccs amiliariLy wiLh
McLhod acLing docs noL dcpcnd on LhcorcLical knowlcdgc (i.c.,
Lhcir conscious awarcncss o iL). InsLcad, Lhc McLhod is amiliar
Lo us bccausc o an ongoing proccss o habiLuaLion Lo which cin-
cma audicnccs arc subjccLcd. Audicnccs arc rcpcaLcdly cxposcd Lo
(accLcd by) Lhc Hollywood machincry and iLs sLar sysLcm. And
according Lo Narcmorc, McLhod acLing would bc undamcnLally
unLhinkablc wiLhouL Lhis sLar sysLcm (i:i) bccausc Lhc McLhods
succcss dcpcnds on Lhc camcras abiliLy and willingncss Lo pro-
vidc Lhc audicncc wiLh closc-ups o Lhc minuLcsL acial gcsLurcs
o Lhc acLors who Lry Lo cxprcss rcal, gcnuinc cmoLions. TaL Lhc
cccLiviLy o McLhod acLing dcpcnds on Lhc audicnccs abiliLy Lo
scc Lhc acLors acial gcsLurcs up closc cxplains why, as Hirsh puLs
iL, Lhc McLhod is primarily and idcally a lm Lcchniquc (Method
iji) and as such dcpcnds on as wcll as produccs sLar imagcs. Or,
in Dclcuzc and CuaLLaris languagc, Lhc powcr o lm [opcraLcs]
Lhrough Lhc acc o Lhc sLar and Lhc closc-up (Tousand P|ateaus
:,). Tis is parLicularly rcmarkablc givcn LhaL Lhc McLhod origi-
naLcd as a Lool or sLagc acLors, as I will cxplain.
Our vcry un- or undcrLhcorizcd amiliariLy wiLh McLhod acL-
ing rcquircs, Lhcrcorc, all Lhc morc LhaL wc pay closcr aLLcnLion
Lo how Lhc McLhodLhaL which has bccomc synonymous wiLh
Amcrican (lm) acLing in gcncralopcraLcs. To simpliy only
slighLly, Lhc McLhod has cvolvcd Lhrough Lhrcc basic sLagcs.
FirsL, iL was csscnLially invcnLcd in and by Lhc carly Lcachings
o Russian n-dc-sicclc LhcaLcr dirccLor KonsLanLin SLanislav-
ski. Sccond, SLanislavskis sysLcm was inLroduccd Lo Lhc Amcri-
can sLagc in Lhc :jios Lhrough his cmissary Lo Amcrica, Richard
Bolcslavski, whosc Lcachings inucnccd Lwo amcd acLing Lcach-
crs, Icc SLrasbcrg and SLclla AdlcrLhough wiLh vasLly dicring
rcsulLs. Tird, inghLs among Lhc mcmbcrs o Lhc Croup TcaLcr
(:jos) around Lhc issuc o accLivc mcmory among oLhcrs,
lcd Lo Lhc liclong spliL bcLwccn SLrasbcrg and Adlcr. As FosLcr
Hirsch argucs, Along wiLh Bolcslavski, mosL o his lisLcncrs aL
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :8
Lhc Iab [Amcrican IaboraLory TcaLcr, originally callcd TcaLrc
ArLs InsLiLuLc] grcw discnchanLcd wiLh Lhc Lcchniquc [o Lhc
McLhod]buL noL SLrasbcrg, who was drawn Lo iL bccausc iL con-
rmcd his rcadings in Frcud and bccausc hc clL iL lcd Lo Lhc kind
o LruLhul acLing sLylc hc was inLcrcsLcd in (Method ,,6).
SubscqucnLly, in :jj, SLrasbcrg Look ovcr Lhc AcLors SLudio,
LhaL mosL amous o all Amcrican acLing placcs (Hirsch, Method
:oj), which was oundcd in :j, by, among oLhcrs, Flia Kazan,
who subscqucnLly dirccLcd Marlon Brando in On the waterjront
(:j).
ll
In chargc o Lhc sLudio, SLrasbcrg rclcnLlcssly promoLcd
accLivc mcmory as Lhc Holy Crail o rcalisL acLing. In conLrasL,
SLclla Adlcr oundcd hcr own conscrvaLory, whcrc shc wagcd an
cnduring baLLlc againsL SLrasbcrgs limiLcd ycL incrcasingly inu-
cnLial inLcrprcLaLion o Lhc SLanislavskian sysLcm. I ulLimaLcly
wanL Lo call aLLcnLion Lo Adlcrs inucncc on DcNiro, buL iL is
Lhc rolc o SLrasbcrg, and Lhc original conLcxL wiLhin which SLan-
islavski codicd whaL acLors bcorc him had [mcrcly] LhoughL
(Hirsch, Method ,), LhaL cxplains IaCapras (and mosL cvcryonc
clscs) conccpLion o acLing as a mimcLic acLing ouL o unworkcd
Lhrough (rcprcsscd) dcsircs.
Tc main qucsLion SLanislavski askcd himscl was how hc, as
a dirccLor, could coax LhcaLcr acLors inLo rccrcaLing rcal lic on
sLagc as LruLhully (rcad: rcalisLically) as possiblc. Having rcad
Frcnch psychologisL Tcodulc RiboLs dcscripLion o whaL hc
callcd accLivc mcmory, SLanislavski bcgan Lo cxpcrimcnL wiLh
Lhis conccpL as a Lool (raLhcr Lhan a dogmaLic program) or his ac-
Lors Lo acLivaLc cmoLions, cclings, and mcmorics LhaL oLhcrwisc
would mcrcly lic dormanL bcyond Lhcir conscious awarcncss. As
Hirsch rcminds us, SLanislavskis dirccLing pracLiccs closcly rc-
scmblc LhaL o Frcuds psychoLhcrapy: Iikc Frcud, who was con-
ducLing his own cxpcrimcnLs aL abouL Lhc samc Limc and whosc
idcas maLurc jusL as SLanislavski bcgan Lo codiy his sysLcm, Lhc
Russian dirccLors conccrn was in rcaching Lhc subconscious. Iikc
Frcud, SLanislavski askcd: WhaL LruLhs lic bcncaLh our conscious
minds` (Method o). Tc acLors goal, Lhcn, bccomcs Lo cngagc
in a proccss o whaL i. Tc acLor is supposcd Lo ask him- or
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :j
hcrscl, what j Lhc siLuaLion in Lhc play wcrc rcally happcn-
inghow would I rcacL` (8j). Tc applicaLion o accLivc
mcmory mcrcly consLiLuLcs Lhc mosL inLcnsicd vcrsion o Lhc
whaL i sccnario, an inLcnsicaLion, howcvcr, LhaL lcads acLors
down mcmory lanc o Lhcir own livcs whcrc Lhcy mighL nd long-
rcprcsscd insLanccs LhaL somchow arc supposcd Lo hclp Lhcm
undcrsLand Lhc characLcrs moLivaLions, bclics, and cmoLions.
Nccdlcss Lo say, giving oncscl ovcr Lo Lhc proccss o accLivc
mcmory can bc an arduous and painul Lask, oLcn rcquiring long
pcriods o Limc bcorc Lhc acLor is ablc Lo connccL pcrsonal cxpc-
ricncc or mcmory Lo Lhc rcquircmcnLs o Lhc play.
Scholars such as Narcmorc and Hirsch havc madc much o Lhc
acL LhaL SLanislavski himscl had laLcr movcd away rom dcploy-
ing Lhc accLivc mcmory Lcchniquc as a Lool or soliciLing pcr-
ormanccs rom his acLors. Spccically, SLanislavski grcw cvcnLu-
ally ond o Lhc mcLhod o physical acLions (Hirsch, Method j)
LhaL cmphasizcs Lhc bchavior and moLivaLions o Lhc characLcr
raLhcr Lhan Lhc acLual cxpcricnccs o Lhc acLor. In oLhcr words,
SLanislavski movcd rom cmphasizing an acLors inLcrioriLy Lo
sLrcssing Lhc imporLancc o Lhc LhcaLrical cncounLcrLhc abil-
iLy o his acLors Lo rcspond Lo Lhc characLcrs nccds as dcncd
by Lhc play iLscl.
l2
Tc poinL I wanL Lo mark hcrc, howcvcr, is
simply LhaL Lhc McLhod cmcrgcd in LcnLaLivcly codicd and mul-
Liplc orm aL Lhc vcry momcnL whcn psychoanalysis Look hold
o Lhc WcsLcrn imaginaLioniLscl only inLcnsiying Lhc gradual
proccss o subjccLicaLion around Lhc cmcrging noLion o Lhc scl
LhaL FoucaulL has dcscribcd so wcll in Te Order oj Tngs.
Icc SLrasbcrg is gcncrally hcld rcsponsiblc or popularizing
SLanislavskis McLhod or Lhc Amcrican sLagc and, cvcnLuallyvia
Lhc dcLour o somc o his morc amous sLudcnLs aL Lhc AcLors SLu-
dio such as 1amcs Dcan, Paul Ncwman, 1ack Nicholson, Al Pacino,
Fayc Dunaway, Dianc KcaLon, and 1anc Fondaor Amcrican cin-
cma. BuL wc musL immcdiaLcly qualiy Lhis claim by spcciying LhaL
SLrasbcrgs McLhodLhc acLing sLylc Amcrican culLurc is mosL
amiliar wiLh Lhrough Lhc omniprcscncc o Hollywoods sLar sys-
Lcm rclics almosL cxclusivcly on Lhc accLivc mcmory mcLhod.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :o
In acL, Lhc irrcconcilablc clash LhaL cvcnLually occurrcd among
SLanislavskis Amcrican disciplcs was Lriggcrcd by SLrasbcrgs un-
willingncss Lo hccd SLanislavskis own insighLs LhaL madc him
movc bcyond Lhis psychoanalyLic Lcchniquc. Bccausc SLrasbcrg
Look rom [Bolcslavski] whaL hc wanLcd Lo, hcaring whaL hc wanLcd
Lo hcar (Hirsch, Method ,6), SLrasbcrgs McLhod cndcd up con-
sisLing o whaL Narcmorc raLhcr unsympaLhcLically dcscribcs as a
scrics o quasi-LhcaLrical cxcrciscs, oLcn rcscmbling psychological
Lhcrapy, dcsigncd Lo unblock Lhc acLor and puL him or hcr in Louch
wiLh scnsaLions and cmoLions (:j,). Narcmorc, a proponcnL o a
morc avanL-gardc, BrcchLian Lypc o acLing LhaL SLrasbcrg himscl
dislikcd, criLicizcs SLrasbcrgs psychoanalyLiclikc McLhod bccausc
iL cnds up rcproducing an idcology o romanLic individualism
(ioo). 1usL abouL any cincmaLic biopic o rcccnL mcmory dcpicLing
(Lroublcd) gcniuscsShne (dir. ScoLL Hicks, :jj6), Po||ock (dir.
Fd Harris, iooo), Pejore Nght Fa||s (dir. 1ulian Schnabcl, iooo),
and A Peautju| Mnd (dir. Ron Howard, ioo:) immcdiaLcly comc Lo
mindLcsLics Lo Lhc ongoing populariLy o SLrasbcrgs mcLhods
bclic in Lhc ncccssiLy o working Lhrough Lhc cxpcricncc o pain
or Lhc producLion o grcaL arL.
And Lhis is prcciscly my poinL. Amcrican posLwar cincma has
bccn llcd wiLh pcrormanccs inormcd by SLrasbcrgs mcLhod
Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL iL has bccomc almosL impossiblc Lo Lhink o
acLing in oLhcr Lcrms Lhan Lhosc codicd by psychoanalysis. Tis
docs noL cvcn dcpcnd on whcLhcr or noL a givcn acLor acLually aL-
Lcndcd Lhc AcLors SLudio workshop. Tc vcry noLion o whaL con-
sLiLuLcs grcaL lm acLing has bccn Lhoroughly shapcd by counLlcss
Hollywood lms LhaL caLurcd cclcbraLcd pcrormanccs by acLors
who wcrc Lraincd in or applicd McLhod acLing Lcchniqucs. Tc
pcrormanccs arc rccurrcnLly dcscribcd as bcing Lhc mosL LruLh-
ul Lo Lhc human spiriL, Lo whaL iL mcans Lo bc Lruly human. Or,
wiLh Narcmorc, Lhrough Lhc raLhcr parochial Lcachings o Lhc
AcLors SLudio, SLanislavskis approach had bccn narrowcd down
Lo a quasi-Frcudian inncr work uclcd by an obscssion wiLh Lhc
scl (:jj). Tis approach Lo acLing has so pcrmcaLcd Amcrican
cincma and Lhc discoursc surrounding iL LhaL Lhc McLhod has
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro ::
noL only bccomc synonymous wiLh Amcrican lm acLing buL also
wiLh mimcsis. McLhod acLors (arc now bclicvcd Lo) imiLaLc Lhcir
own rcal-lic cxpcricnccs in ordcr Lo rcndcr Lhc characLcrs Lo bc
playcd lic-likc and bclicvablc, LhaL is, rcalisLic. Hcncc, a dircc-
Lor likc Hal HarLlcy rcqucnLly puzzlcs audicnccs and criLics alikc
wiLh lms such as Te 0nbe|evab|e Truth (:jjo), Amateur (:jj),
F|rt (:jj), or Te Cr| jrom Monday (ioo) bccausc hc consis-
LcnLly soliciLs pcrormanccs rom his acLors LhaL arc anyLhing buL
rcalisLic or naLuralisLic, Lhus noL rcally allowing Lhc world Lo
know who Lhc acLors arc.
A Brief Genealogy of the Method, Part
So, Lhis bric gcncalogy o Lhc McLhod indicaLcs why IaCapra
can claim LhaL acLing ouL is abouL Lhc obscssivc compulsion Lo
rcpcaL mimcLically. ALcr all, Lhc discursivc ormaLion LhaL gavc
risc Lo Lhc McLhod is shoL Lhrough wiLh psychoanalyLic conccpLs,
Lhcmsclvcs arLiculaLing and Lhus pcrpcLuaLing Lhc incrcasing cul-
Lural and social inLcrcsL in Lhc scl LhaL inLcnsicd LhroughouL
Lhc nincLccnLh ccnLury. YcL, whaL has bccn orgoLLcn in all o Lhis
is prcciscly LhaL Lhc McLhodwiLh Lhc cmphasis on iLs connoLa-
Lion o mcLhodicalhas rom carly on had a sccond hisLory, a
sccond Lhcory, a sccond pracLicc. Tis sccond Lhcory and pracLicc
was rclcnLlcssly advocaLcd by amcd acLing Lcachcr SLclla Adlcr.
RobcrL DcNiro, who sLudicd wiLh Adlcr aL hcr ConscrvaLory or
AcLing in Crccnwich Villagc bejore hc bccamc associaLcd wiLh
SLanislavskis AcLors SLudio, crcdiLs hcr wiLh having [had] a big
inucncc on [him] (InLcrvicw). Whcrcas SLrasbcrg almosL cxclu-
sivcly rcad SLanislavskis McLhod in Lcrms o accLivc mcmory,
Adlcr ncvcr ccascd Lo sLrcss SLanislavskis laLcr prccrcncc or Lhc
mcLhod o physical acLions. Hcncc, Adlcr was known Lo admon-
ish hcr sLudcnLs Lo avoid bringing Lhc characLcr down Lo your
own small sclvcs (Hirsch, Method i:). InsLcad, as DcNiro cx-
plains in an inLcrvicw wiLh 1amcs IipLon, hosL o Bravo 1vs !n-
sde the Actors Studo, Adlcr rclcnLlcssly cncouragcd hcr sLudcnLs
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :i
Lo brcak down a scripL, Lo analyzc iL wiLh grcaL carc, and Lo Lhink
abouL whaL Lhc characLcr is abouL.
Iikc SLrasbcrg, Adlcr acccpLcd LhaL acLing is abouL work and
LhaL Lhc rchcarsal cnvironmcnL oughL Lo rcscmblc LhaL o a labo-
raLory scLup (Hirsch, Method io6), a dcscripLivc Lcrm suggcsLivc
o Lhc machinical, proccsslikc characLcr immancnL Lo Lhc arL o
acLing. YcL, unlikc SLrasbcrg, Adlcr conLinuously cncouragcd hcr
sLudcnLs Lo cxplorc Lhc givcn circumsLanccs o Lhc play raLhcr
Lhan Lhosc o Lhcir own livcs (Hirsch, Method i:). Along Lhcsc
lincs, Hirsch niccly sums up Lhc Lwo Lcachcrs dicrcnccs:
On how an acLor conronLs languagc in a conLcmporary rcal-
isL drama, Adlcr [ . . . ] hcws Lhc SLudio linc. BuL whcrc SLras-
bcrg cncouragcd acLors Lo cnrich Lhc auLhors words by wriL-
ing a subLcxL Lriggcrcd by cmoLional and scnsory mcmory,
Adlcr Lclls sLudcnLs Lo rcmain wiLhin Lhc placc and siLuaLion
o Lhc play. CrcaLc Lhc placc, work wiLh propsa prop will
makc you acL, rcach ouL Lo your parLncr, prcparc a pasL or
your characLcri you donL build a pasL, you insulL Lhc sLagc
and mc. SLanislavski said noL Lo sLarL wiLh languagc, sLarL
wiLh movcmcnL. AcLing is acLion, acLion is doing: nd ways
Lo do iL, noL Lo say iL. Adlcrs idca is LhaL Lhc acLor claims
pcrsonal posscssion o Lhc playwrighLs words noL Lhrough
scl-analysis, as aL Lhc SLudio, buL by steppng out oj hmse|j,
allowing his imaginaLion Lo Lakc ighL rom clucs Lhc auLhor
has planLcd. (Method i:,, nal cmphasis minc)
Icaving asidc Lhc acL LhaL Adlcr disLinguishcs bcLwccn doing
and saying (pace 1. I. AusLin and, subscqucnLly, posL-sLrucLural-
isLs who show LhaL saying is doing), I Lhink wc bcgin Lo scc Lhc
cmcrgcncc o a complcLcly dicrcnL conccpLion o acLing.
+
Considcr, or insLancc, DcNiros pcrormancc in Mean Streets,
MarLin Scorscscs rsL grcaL, inucnLial lm.
l3
Our rsL vicw o
DcNiros characLcr, 1ohnny Boy, comcs abouL vc minuLcs inLo
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
Lhc lm. Wc waLch as hc suddcnly cmcrgcs rom bchind a housc-
ronL and drops somcLhing inLo a mailbox. As hc ncrvously zig-
zags away, hc kccps Lurning back whilc moving orward. A cw
scconds laLcr, Lhc mailbox cxplodcs. Whilc onc could arguc LhaL
his acL o random vandalism marks 1ohnny Boy as a violcnL char-
acLcr rom Lhc ouLscL, I suggcsL LhaL iL is noL Lhc cxplosion iLscl
LhaL sLands ouL in Lhis sccnc as an cxprcssion o violcncc buL Lhc
sty|e 1ohnny Boy displays. In Lhis sccnc, as wcll as LhroughouL Lhc
movic, 1ohnny Boy movcs wiLh a dcvil-may-carc amboyancc
(DicksLcin 8:). His movcmcnLs arc concurrcnLly cxprcssivc o a
joic dc vivrc and cxplosivc rccklcssncss, and iL is Lhis irrcsisLiblc
combinaLion o a ccrLain lighLncss o bcing and impcnding vio-
lcncc LhaL brands iLscl inLo our minds. And on Lop o LhaL, Lhcrc
is LhaL haL: rcminisccnL o Lhc Lypc o sLylish haLs LhaL characLcrs
in Lhc gangsLcr movics o Lhc :jos would wcar, 1ohnny Boys haL
caLurcs promincnLly in cach ramc. In acL, wc noLc his haL bc-
causc Lhc lm rcuscs Lo shooL DcNiro in lingcring closc-ups, and
Lhc grainy qualiLy o Lhc lm sLock docs noL allow or closc scruLiny
o his acial cxprcssions, lcL alonc his cyc movcmcnLs. BuL wc do
scc LhaL haL. Tc way DcNiro makcs 1ohnny Boy carry himscl as
morc imporLanL Lhan hc rcally is in Lhc conLcxL o Lhc local Maa
hicrarchy (Lhc lms opcning sccncs havc csLablishcd LhaL iL Lakcs
placc in a Maalikc milicu) crucially dcpcnds on his cngagcmcnL
wiLh Lhc haL. Wc scnsc rom Lhis vcry rsL sccnc LhaL 1ohnny Boy
is an impaLicnL upsLarL who is bound Lo bccomc-violcnL sooncr
raLhcr Lhan laLcr. In oLhcr words, wc havc ycL Lo scc 1ohnny Boy
commiL an acL o violcncc (LhaL is noL mcrcly a raLhcr boyish acL
o vandalism), buL wc havc alrcady Lhc imagc o violcncc rmly
implanLcd in our brain. Violcncc hcrc is a bccoming-haL, which
Lcnds Lo bc rccallcd by vicwcrs in LhaL mcmory LcrriLorializcs Lhis
bccoming onLo DcNiros accor, raLhcr, iL cccLs a bccoming-
acc o DcNiro in Lhc scnsc LhaL hc slidcs inLo iL.
From Lhis rsL appcarancc on, 1ohnny Boy, morc Lhan any
oLhcr characLcr in Lhc lm, cmbodics a kind o visccral orcc LhaL
is so cxubcranL iL capLurcs Lhc vicwcrs ascinaLion. Tis ascina-
Lion, howcvcr, cannoL bc rcduccd Lo sadomasochisLic dcsircs. A-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
Lcr all, wc havc ycL Lo scc him inLcracL wiLh anyonc oLhcr Lhan
somc inanimaLc objccLs. Wc arc simply ascinaLcd by Lhc way
DcNiro managcs Lo acL ouL 1ohnny Boys poLcnLial or violcncc
which will cvcnLually bc rcalizcdwiLhouL having rccoursc Lo
Lricd and Lruc cincmaLic (or oLhcr) imagcs o violcncc. Wc Lhus
Lcnd Lo rcmcmbcr 1ohnny Boy as a violcnL characLcr noL bccausc
hc cvcnLually LhrcaLcns a madc guy wiLh a gun who ulLimaLcly
rcLurns Lhc avor and has him shoL. Wc Lhink o 1ohnny Boy in
violcnL imagcs bccausc o his haL, Lhc way hc wcars iL, whaL hc
docs wiLh iL, and iLs cvcnLual abscncc (hc loscs iL in a bar ghL
LhaL, noL coincidcnLally, is Lriggcrcd by somconc asking him
abouL whcrc hc goL his haL), which acLually spccds up his impa-
Licncc, Lhus prccipiLaLing his cvcnLual downall. Violcncc as rcn-
dcrcd by DcNiro in Lhis lm, Lhcn, is abouL an cncounLcr wiLh a
propa haL. IL is a bccoming-haL LhaL scLs in moLion an imagc o
violcncc as linkcd Lo spccd, Lo physical acLion, Lo Lhc agilc body
o DcNiro-cum1ohnny Boy. And Lhis bccoming-haL conLinucs Lo
manicsL iLscl cvcn in Lhc cvcnLual abscncc o Lhc prop iLscl.
Tus, Lhc lm noL only dramaLizcs how Lhc nonmimcLic vcrsion
o Lhc McLhod works buL also rcminds us LhaL a proccss o imiLa-
Lion docs noL Lriggcr Lhc cvcnLual acLing ouL o violcncc. Finally,
Lhc producLion o an imagc o violcncc as a bccoming-haL is any-
Lhing buL scl-cvidcnL, iL calls aLLcnLion Lo Lhc acL LhaL wc do noL
ncccssarily know violcncc whcn wc scc iL prcciscly bccausc Lhis
claim Lo common scnsc prcsupposcs LhaL wc know whaL violcncc
is and how iL manicsLs iLscl.
+
Adlcrs mcLhod, as cxcmplicd by DcNiros pcrormancc in Mean
Streets, has vcry liLLlc Lo do wiLh Lhc idcology o Lhc scl, wiLh
imiLaLion, or wiLh an acLing ouL o rcprcsscd mcmorics. Unlikc
SLrasbcrgs vcrsion o Lhc McLhod, Adlcrs is noL abouL Lhc privi-
lcging o Lhc (habiL Lo say) Io prioriLizing Lhc cgos (illusory)
abiliLy Lo bc idcnLical Lo iLscl. InsLcad, Adlcrs conccpLion o Lhc
McLhod is primarily abouL inLcnsiLics o movcmcnL, acLion, do-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :
ing, mosL imporLanLly iL is abouL an acLors abiliLy Lo cnLcr a zonc
o proximiLy wiLh Lhc ouLsidc: I is anoLhcr, as Dclcuzc, quoLing
Rimbaud, aphorisLically wriLcs (Kants Crtca| Ph|osophy viii).
Ironically, Adlcrs mcLhod mighL havc bccn bcsL arLiculaLcd by
onc o SLrasbcrgs sLudio mcmbcrs. BcsL known or hcr rolc as Fdic
Doylc, Lhc lovc inLcrcsL o Brandos Tcrry Malloy in Kazans On the
waterjront, Fvc Maric SainL argucs LhaL Lhc McLhod is noL playing
yoursclLhaLs onc o Lhc misundcrsLandings pcoplc havc abouL
Lhc sLudio. [ . . . ] Tc McLhod hclps you Lo obscrvc, Lo scc lic, Lo
look ouLsidc yourscl (Hirsch, Method ii:). Tc McLhod puLs Lhc
scl undcr crasurc, or aL Lhc vcry lcasL casLs iL as a scrious prob|e-
matque in Lhc FoucaulLcan scnsc. I Lhink LhaL Lhis caLurc o Lhc
McLhod cannoL bc cmphasizcd cnough, or iL produccs a conccpL o
LhoughL (as pracLicc) LhaL dismanLlcs a CarLcsian noLion o Lhc I as
ormulaLcd in his amous dicLum, I Lhink Lhcrcorc I am. Whcrcas
Lhc laLLcr insisLs on Lhc scl-idcnLiLy o Lhc I, and Lhus Lhc primacy
o Lhc proccss o rcprcscnLaLion and idcnLicaLion, Lhc McLhods
insisLcncc on movcmcnL, and Lhus Limc as iL passcs in Lhc inLcrval
o Lhis movcmcnL, congurcs a subjccLs scl as consLanLly chang-
ing. As Dclcuzc wriLcs abouL Lhis kind o scl:
IL is a passivc, or raLhcr rcccpLivc, scl LhaL cxpcricnccs
changc in Limc. Tc ! is an acL (I Lhink) LhaL acLivcly dc-
Lcrmincs my cxisLcncc (I am), buL can only dcLcrminc iL in
Limc, as Lhc cxisLcncc o a passivc, rcccpLivc and changing
se|j, which only rcprcscnLs Lo iLscl Lhc acLiviLy o ts own
LhoughL. Tc I and Lhc Scl arc Lhus scparaLcd by Lhc linc o
Limc, which rclaLcs Lhcm Lo cach oLhcr only undcr Lhc con-
diLion o a undamcnLal dicrcncc. My cxisLcncc can ncvcr
bc dcLcrmincd as LhaL o an acLivc and sponLancous bcing,
buL as passivc scl LhaL rcprcscnLs Lo iLscl Lhc ILhaL
is, Lhc sponLanciLy o Lhc dcLcrminaLionas an OLhcr LhaL
accLs iL. (PocLic Formulas ijo)
So, pracLicing his or hcr abiliLy Lo rcspond Lo cxLcrnal clucs sccms
Lo mc Lhc mosL crucial lcsson Lo bc lcarncd rom Lhc McLhod
and iL is Lhis lcsson LhaL wc musL hccd i wc wanL Lo bc ablc Lo say
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
anyLhing aL all abouL violcncc in cincma and Lhc cccLs iL may or
may noL producc.
Violcncc, pcrhaps Lhc mosL onLologically naLural Lhing (and
as such, somcLhing wc cannoL buL rcspond Lo), is simulLancously
Lhc lcasL naLuralisLic phcnomcnon prcciscly bccausc acLors can
rcasonably acccss violcnccand rcndcr iL visiblconly by going
ouLsidc o Lhcmsclvcs, or raLhcr, by a rming LhaL Lhcir I is al-
ways anoLhcr. Tc acLors I ncvcr providcs Lhc locus o cxpcri-
cncc rom which Lo draw Lhc accLivc orcc LhaL is Lo bc imiLaLcd
in ordcr Lo bccomc-violcnL on scrccn. TaL is, an acLor cannoL rc-
ally hold a knic Lo Lhc LhroaL o a random pcrson on Lhc sLrccL
only Lo know whaL iL ccls likc Lo bc violcnL so LhaL shc can Lhcn
draw on Lhis cxpcricnccvia Lhc proccss o imiLaLion rooLcd in
(rcmcmbcrcd) knowlcdgcin ronL o Lhc camcra. Hc cannoL
Lakc a . and hold up a convcnicncc sLorc and, aLcr hc gcLs whaL
hc prcLcnds Lo wanL, shooL Lhc clcrk. Nor can acLors rcally givc
Lhcmsclvcs ovcr Lo Lhc posiLion o a vicLim: in gcncral, you can-
noL volunLccr Lo bc LhrcaLcncd wiLh a gun in a rcal-lic siLuaLion,
and you mosL ccrLainly will noL volunLccr Lo bc shoL aL in Lhc hcad
a cw Limcs only Lo bc ablc Lo cxpcricncc rcal pain LhaL Lhcn can
bc rcprcscnLcd or an audicncc. Hcncc, acLors who arc supposcd
Lo rcndcr violcncc rcalisLically on scrccn arc orccd Lo makc a con-
nccLion wiLh somcLhing oLhcr Lhan Lhcir own cxpcricncc, mcm-
ory, or psychc. Tcy havc Lo sLcp ouLsidc o Lhcmsclvcs, Lhus al-
lowing Lhcmsclvcs Lo cxpcrimcnL wiLh Lhc ouLsidcin orm o a
haL, or cxamplcas a mcans or rcndcring violcncc visiblc.
l4
And
i Lakcn scriously, Lhis cxpcrimcnLal impcraLivc lcads violcncc Lo
cmcrgc as a conLinual variaLion o iLs own conccpLa variaLion
LhaL always varics iLscl, whosc scl-dicrcnLiaLion is immancnLly
gcncraLcd, always dicring in iLs accLivc chargc LhaL is produccd
Lhrough Lhc dcploymcnL o McLhod-ical rcpcLiLion.
Only a ycar laLcr, or cxamplc, DcNiro would noL acL- ouL vio-
lcncc Lhrough a bccoming-haL, insLcad, as Lhc young Don Cor-
lconc in Te Codjather !!, hc inhabiLs an odd spacc o silcncc. O
coursc, his silcncc was prcscribcd by Lhc scripL (which also askcd
him Lo dclivcr his lincs in ILalian). BuL Lhis silcncc is mosLly c-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
ccLcd by his sLylc o bcing in Lhc world Lhc lm porLrays. IL
cmcrgcs dirccLly ouL o Lhc way hc dclibcraLcly siLs down, calmly
Lurns his hcad, purposcully movcs Lhrough Lhc crowdcd sLrccLs
o IiLLlc ILaly, and cvcn spcaks whcn hc is addrcsscd. DcNiros
pcrormancc has bccomc a classic (and was honorcd wiLh an
Acadcmy Award) bccausc o his abiliLy Lo cnacL a characLcr whosc
violcncc inhcrcs in his calm silcncc, in LhaL which hc docs not say
or do whilc surroundcd by an cnvironmcnL LhaL is bursLing wiLh
(dangcrous) cncrgy: bccoming-silcnL, bccoming-violcnL.
DcNiro has bccn praiscd or drawing his characLcr as a pcrccLly
bclicvablc youngcr vcrsion o Lhc oldcr ViLo whosc characLcr Brando
so indclibly drcw jusL Lwo ycars prior. BuL Lhc only way DcNiro could
havc achicvcd Lhis was by nding a way Lo orm a consstencya
linkagcbcLwccn his and Brandos body. Had hc jusL imiLaLcd
rcprcscnLcdBrandos manncrisms LhaL Brando uscd or his much
oldcr vcrsion o Lhc samc characLcr, DcNiros pcrormancc would
havc bccn laughably ouL o Lunc wiLh Lhc carly-LwcnLicLh-ccnLury
world Lhc young ViLo cncounLcrs aLcr his migraLion rom Sicily Lo
Ncw York. Brandos ViLo is ncvcr shown Lo kill anyonc (oLhcr Lhan
by dclcgaLion). DcNiro, Lhcrcorc, had Lo invcnL a youngcr vcrsion
o Lhc CodaLhcr as a ruLhlcss killcr LhaL sLill maLchcs up wiLh Lhc
idca o Lhc CodaLhcr Brando so orccully implanLcd inLo audicnccs
minds. Young ViLos violcncc sccms rcal bccausc DcNiro managcs
Lo cnLcr a zonc o proximiLy wiLh a parLicular mood (silcncc) LhaL
allows him Lo invcnL onc spccic orm o bccoming-violcnL raLhcr
Lhan having Lo imiLaLc anoLhcr. Imaging violcncc, in oLhcr words, is
ncvcr rcally a qucsLion o rcalism as long as rcalism is undcrsLood
in rcprcscnLaLional Lcrms. InsLcad, violcncc is always a maLLcr o
invcnLiono conLinually invcnLing ancw (Lhc proccsscs giving risc
Lo) inLcnsiLics, or scnsaLions, o violcncc.
Acting Out Violence by Working Trough the Outside
AcLing, as conccivcd Lhrough or alongsidc Adlcr, is Lhus nciLhcr
abouL imiLaLion nor an acLing ouL o rcprcsscd mcmorics. IL is noL
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :8
a rcliving or an appropriaLion o a prcviously livcd cxpcricncc.
A ccrLain Lypc o criLicism o DcNiros acLing is Lhus raLhcr mis-
placcd. TaL is, aL Limcs criLics havc accuscd DcNiro o playing iL
sac sincc his lasL grcaL acLcd ouL McLhod rolc in Scorscscs Kng
oj Comedy (:j8) as Lhc rcmarkably ununny wannabc comcdian
RupcrL Pupkin. In pursuing a grcaL numbcr o camco rolcs (Ange|
Heart [:j86] or Te 0ntouchab|es, c.g.), so Lhc claim gocs, DcNiro
has losL somc o his cdgc as a pcrormcr. In an odd ironic rcvcrsal,
iL is crtcs who mourn LhaL DcNiros is noL acLing ouL anymorc.
Tcy mourn LhaL DcNiro has allcgcdly givcn up his Lradcmark in-
LcnsiLy wiLh which hc imbucd his visccral acLing ouL or a morc
inLcllccLualizcd working Lhrough o his violcnL pcrormanccs.
Tcy sccm Lo ycarn or DcNiros physical bravado wiLh which hc
llcd his pcrormancc o boxcr 1akc IaMoLLa in Ragng Pu||, or
cvcn Lhc rcmarkablc physical changcs LhaL Travis Bicklc is madc
Lo undcrgo on his way rom dissaLiscd ycL unsurc cab drivcr Lo
bccoming a killing machinc, a killcr cyborg, i you will, whosc
wcapons arc mcchanically linkcd Lo his cvcry movcmcnL. Fx-
prcssing Lhc scnsc LhaL DcNiro has losL somc o his amous inLcn-
siLy, his willingncss Lo acL ouL, biographcr Andy Dougan wondcrs
whcLhcr DcNiro has now lcarncd Lo akc acLing (i,). BuL Lo
accusc DcNiro o aking iL prcsupposcs in a SLrasbcrgian scnsc
LhaL acLing is a proccss o imiLaLion, o mimcLically rcprcscnLing
a rcal, auLhcnLic scl LhaL providcs Lhc locus or a pcrormancc.
YcL, inLcnsiLy is a maLLcr o simulacral producLionall Lhc way
downraLhcr Lhan phcnomcnological auLhcnLiciLy. In Lhis scnsc,
iL is impossiblc Lo akc acLing, or Adlcrs conccpLion o acLing
docs noL rcly on a logic o Lhc copy (rcprcscnLaLion) buL insLcad
mobilizcs whaL I discusscd in chapLcr as Lhc logic o simula-
Lion LhaL uncLions as Lhc consLiLuLivc cnginc o all producLion,
including (or cspccially) o rcprcscnLaLions.
PuL dicrcnLly, whaL DcNiro lcarncd rom Adlcr is LhaL inLcn-
siLy is noL abouL acLing ouL or cxccss, raLhcr, inLcnsiLy is a sLaLc
LhaL quiLc oLcn inhcrcs and subsisLs wthn a sLylc o cncounLcr.
McLhod acLing as pracLiccd by DcNiro, Lhcrcorc, is abouL a carc-
ul cxpcrimcnLal, indccd masochisLic, cncounLcr wiLh Lhc ouLsidc,
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :j
wiLh a mcLhodical rcpcLiLion o spccic pracLiccsa rcpcLiLion
LhaL, likc in a lab, allows Lhc acLor Lo work Lhrough a spccic acLing
problcmaLic. Tis Lypc o acLing can bc considcrcd as consLiLuLing
whaL Dclcuzc and CuaLLari call a bccoming. Wc musL bc vcry clcar
aL Lhis poinL, howcvcr. DcNiros cvcnLual bccoming-acc, which is
mcrcly Lhc mosL rcccnL insLanLiaLion o his conLinually varying
bccoming-violcnL, has noLhing Lo do wiLh a Hcgclian undcrsLand-
ing o bccoming. For LhaL maLLcr, iL has noLhing in common wiLh
Lhc sLory o bccoming as iL has uncLioncd LhroughouL Lhc his-
Lory o WcsLcrn mcLaphysical LhoughL.
Bccoming is a proccss noL so much abouL dialccLical changc
or acquisiLion o a sLaLc o aairs as abouL somcLhing akin Lo im-
plosion, an inLcnsiying o accLiviLy, a movcmcnL wiLh iLs spccd
and slowncss LhaL is noL dcscribablc by Lhc noLion o quickncss
as such. Bccoming, as Dclcuzc and CuaLLari havc argucd, is Lhc
hardcsL Lhing Lo do (and cxplain) prcciscly bccausc WcsLcrn
LhoughL has conccpLualizcd, and pcdagogically cmploycd, bccom-
ing as a dialccLical proccss. TradiLionally, bccoming is conccivcd
o as a consLanL war bcLwccn Lwo sLruggling opponcnLs LhaL is rc-
solvcd only by a Lhird Lcrm LhaL has bccomc Lhc synLhcsis o Lhc
prcvious Lwo, sublaLing boLh and Lhus producing a ncw, highcr
lcvcl o dcvclopmcnL. UndcrsLood Lhis way, onc would Lhink LhaL
DcNiros bccoming consLiLuLcs a sLory o progrcss, a Lclcological
consolidaLion and as such an improvcmcnL o his acLing skills
LhaL cvcnLually culminaLcs in DcNiros bccoming somconc clsc.
BuL a sLory abouL Lhc way DcNiro prcparcs himscl or an acL-
ing job illusLraLcs LhaL or DcNiro (McLhod) acLing has liLLlc Lo
do wiLh Lhis Lypc o bccoming, a bccoming ulLimaLcly rooLcd in
Lhc conccpL o mimcLic rcprcscnLaLion. In :j, DcNiro was sLill
an up and coming acLor, having jusL landcd his rsL imporLanL
succcss wiLh his porLrayal o 1ohnny Boy in Mean Streets. TaL
summcr, hc prcparcd or a sLagc rolc in Lhc shorL-livcd onc-acL
play Schuberts Last Serenade. 1ulic Bovasso, Lhc plays auLhor,
dcscribcs DcNiros mcLhod in a Newsweek magazinc inLcrvicw:
Bobby arrivcs aL his characLcrizaLions by whaL somcLimcs sccms
likc a vcry circuiLous rouLc. Hc wanLcd Lo do onc sccnc, or cxam-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6o
plc, whilc chcwing brcadsLicks. I was dubious buL I agrccd and or
Lhrcc days I didnL hcar a word o my playiL was all garblcd up
in brcadsLicks. BuL I could scc somcLhing happcning, hc was mak-
ing a connccLion wiLh somcLhing, a kind o clown clcmcnL. Tcn
aL drcss rchcarsal hc showcd up wiLhouL Lhc brcadsLicks. I said,
Bobby, whcrc arc Lhc brcadsLicks` And hc said simply, I donL
nccd Lhcm anymorc (qLd. in Dougan 6o). Bovassos obscrvaLion
cxprcsscs pcrhaps cvcn bcLLcr Lhan DcNiros own commcnLs rc-
garding his acLing Lcchniquc whaL, cxacLly, Lranspircs in Lhc pro-
ccss o acLing. Dclcuzc and CuaLLari noLc in A Tousand P|ateaus
LhaL DcNiro himscl has dcscribcd his walking sLylc in Tax Lrver
as crablikc (i,). Flscwhcrc, DcNiro apparcnLly rcmarkcd LhaL
hc had sccn somc o his rolcs as a crab, a caL, a wol, a rabbiL, a
snakc, and an owl (Dougan i). Dclcuzc and CuaLLari crucially
cxplain LhaL DcNiros likcning his sLylc o walking Lo LhaL o a
crab has nothng Lo do wiLh imiLaLion, DcNiro did noL cnd up bc-
ing likc a crab, nor likc a caL mcowing, a wol howling, or a
snakc swallowing iLs prcy wholc.
l5
InsLcad, Bovasso and DcNiros dcscripLions o his acLing pro-
ccss musL bc undcrsLood in Lcrms o whaL Dclcuzc and CuaLLari
call a bccoming-animal, or, pcrhaps morc appropriaLc or Bovas-
sos obscrvaLion, a bccoming-brcadsLick. Tis bccoming namcs
DcNiros ncccssary cncounLcr wiLh somcLhing LhaL allows him
Lo cnLcr a zonc o proximiLy wiLh Lhc characLcr hc has Lo imag-
inc and Lhcn rcndcr visiblc on scrccn or sLagc. Much has bccn
madc o DcNiros claboraLc rcscarch acLiviLicsso much so, in
acL, LhaL Rob Frascr has a poinL in suggcsLing LhaL For a Limc,
iL sccmcd as i [ . . . ] hisLory would rcmcmbcr RobcrL DcNiro
[mosLly] or Lhc obscssivc dcLail wiLh which hc rcscarchcd cach
rolc (Pcrorming Miraclcs ). BuL noL cnough has bccn madc
o Lhc acL LhaL DcNiros prcparaLion ar cxcccds Lhis hands-on
cmpirical rcscarch. IL is all Loo casy Lo vicw DcNiros rcscarch as a
proccss cxprcssing his dcsirc or, and Lhus lcading Lo, imiLaLion,
boLh his own characLcrizaLion o his bccoming-animal as wcll as
Bovassos brcadsLick sLory LcsLiy LhaL Lhis is noL so. Tis is noL Lo
dcny Lhc imporLancc o rcscarching a characLcr. For onc, DcNiro
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6:
himscl obviously placcs much valuc on iL. In acL, hc bclicvcs LhaL
Lhc abiliLy Lo rcscarch a characLcr as much as possiblc is an idcal
siLuaLion, buL iL docsnL always work ouL (InLcrvicw). I suggcsL
LhaL in Lhc casc o violcncc, (DcNiro gurcd ouL LhaL) iL can never
work ouL.
InsLcad, DcNiros mcLhodological obscssioncspccially cvi-
dcnL LhroughouL Lhc rsL Lccn ycars o his lm acLing carccr
insLanLiaLcs a proccss o lcarning, o inhabiLaLion, o making con-
nccLions noL Lhrough mimcsis buL by rcsponsc. Tis dcscribcs a
pcdagogical proccss noL unlikc LhaL o Lhc swimmcr who lcarns
how Lo swim noL by imiLaLing Lhc swim Lcachcr buL by rcspond-
ing Lo Lhc cvcr-changing signs cmiLLcd by Lhc occans wavcs (Dc-
lcuzc, Lerence and Repetton iii). TaL is, lcarning Lakcs
placc noL in Lhc rclaLion bcLwccn a rcprcscnLaLion and an acLion
(rcproducLion o Lhc Samc) buL in Lhc rclaLion bcLwccn a sign and
a rcsponsc (cncounLcr wiLh Lhc oLhcr) (Dclcuzc, Lerence and
Repetton ii). Or, in DcNiros own words, an acLors body is likc
an insLrumcnL and you havc Lo lcarn how Lo play an insLrumcnL.
ILs likc knowing how Lo play Lhc piano. Tcrc oughL Lo bc acL-
ing schools LhaL Lakc you in as small childrcn, Lhc way Lhcy do
wiLh music. A pcrson docsnL nccd cxpcricncc Lo lcarn Lcchniquc.
Tcchniquc comcs rsL, Lhcn as you grow oldcr and gcL cxpcricncc
you will apply iL Lo whaL you know (qLd. in Dougan :o6).
How much morc powcrully could DcNiro havc rcuLcd our
common wisdom abouL (McLhod) acLing` To cnacL pain, you do
noL havc Lo havc cxpcricnccd somc childhood Lrauma or an cxcru-
ciaLingly Liring divorcc. AcLing is abouL Lcchniqucmcchanics,
i you will, iL is abouL somcLhing LhaL has Lo bc lcarncd Lhrough
conLinual pracLicc, raLhcr Lhan insLiLuLionalizcd scl-rcccLion.
As DcNiros own asscssmcnL o Lhc acLing proccss indicaLcs, in
ordcr Lo acL you havc Lo do iL, you havc Lo a rm acLion, know-
ing LhaL you mighL ail and Lhus bc orccd Lo do iL ovcr, again
and again, unLil you discovcr LhaL which is gcnuincly ncw, or LhaL
which sccms Lo work bcsL or Lhc dcmands o Lhc scripL and Lhc
characLcr Lo bc playcd. DcNiro himscl puLs iL Lhis way: I I jusL
jumpcd in and did iL and Look Lhc lcap [Id] arrivc aL LhaL placc
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6i
whcrc you LhoughL you had Lo go Lhrough all kinds o, you know,
you jusL arrivcd Lhcrc, bclicvc iL or noL. [ . . . ] You goLLa gcL ouL
aL Lhc cnd o Lhc day and do iL. And i you makc a misLakc you do
iL again (InLcrvicw). In oLhcr words, whaLcvcr cxpcricncc Lhc ac-
Lor will gain is sccondary Lo Lhc processLhc McLhodo acLing
iLscl.
Conccivcd Lhis way, acLing has liLLlc Lo do wiLh psychologizcd
inLcrioriLy, insLcad, Lhc acLiviLy o Lhc acLor is lcss Lo imiLaLc a
characLcr in a scripL Lhan Lo mimic in Lhc csh Lhc incorporcal-
iLy o Lhc cvcnL (Massumi 6). IL is abouL cnLcring a disciplincd
cncounLcr wiLha bccoming-ascinaLcd byLhc ouLsidc LhaL
consLiLuLcs Lhc ncccssary condiLion o possibiliLy or rcndcring
an (violcnL) imagc visiblc.
l6
In DcNiros own words, AcLors musL
cxposc Lhcmsclvcs Lo Lhc surroundings and kccp Lhcir minds ob-
scsscd wiLh LhaL. Sooncr or laLcr an dea w|| creep nto your head.
A ccling pcrhaps, a cluc, or maybc an incidcnL will occur LhaL Lhc
acLor can laLcr connccL Lo Lhc sccnc whcn hcs doing iL. I always
look aL cvcryLhing [. . .] cvcn i iLs boring (qLd. in Dougan :o6,
my cmphasis). According Lo DcNiro, Lhcn, acLing is an cncounLcr
wiLh Lhc ouLsidc: Lhc acLor is rcsponsiblc Lo wclcomc Lhis ouLsidc,
Lhis idca LhaL will crccp inLo Lhc acLors hcad (or, in Tom Riplcys
casc, a sccnL LhaL aLLracLs his olacLory inLcrcsL). Such a proccss is,
o coursc, prcciscly akin Lo Lhc masochisLic proccsscs dcscribcd
by Dclcuzc. Tc pracLicc o masochism orccs, and Lhrough rcp-
cLiLion habiLuaLcs, Lhc suspcndcd subjccL Lo look aL cvcryLhing,
Lo waiL, Lo cndurc Limc unLil an idca crccps up, iL Lhus rcquircs
Lhc masochisLic subjccL Lo a rm borcdom, or mosL o Lhc Limc
noLhing aL all happcns. BuL iL is n Lhc rcpcLiLion o Limc pass-
ing wiLhouL acLion LhaL onc is madc capablc o cxpcrimcnLing
wiLh a spccic prob|ematque and Lhus is cnablcd Lo invcnL a novcl
modc o LhoughL, a ncw imagc, a ncw modc o rcsponsc. Bcing
suspcndcd by borcdom, Lhc masochisL bcgins Lo absLracL clichcs
rom his surroundings, gradually inLcnsiying Lhc siLuaLion hc is
suspcndcd in, unLil Lhc momcnL o LransormaLion occurs (which
is ncvcr guaranLccd). Borcdom (cincmaLically cmbodicd in Lhc
Limc-imagc, or duraLion) uncLions Lhus as an inLcnsicr, an a-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
ccLivc sLaLc LhaL may bc ncccssary Lo inhabiL in ordcr Lo producc
a linc o ighL, or LransormaLion.
And iL is hard Lo imaginc a casc or which Lhis analysis rings
morc Lruc Lhan Lhc casc o violcncc. For how clsc, I wondcr, can
an acLor rcndcr violcncc visiblc Lhan by giving himscl ovcr Lo
Lhc proccss dcscribcd by DcNiro` O coursc, mosL acLors do noL
ollow DcNiros advicc, buL Lhis is why DcNiro, and noL anoLhcr
acLor, has comc Lo cmbody Lhc acc o violcncc in Amcrican cin-
cma. For Lhc poinL madc by DcNiro is LhaL cxprcssing violcncc on
scrccn or sLagc is noL abouL digging dccp insidc yourscl so LhaL
you can narcissisLically acL ouL your rcprcsscd anxicLics or angcr,
nor is iL mcrcly abouL imiLaLing rcal lic violcncc by rcscarching
violcnL pcoplc or cvcnLs. PrcscnLing violcncc on scrccn, in oLhcr
words, has noL ncccssarily anyLhing aL all Lo do wiLh cxpcricncing
or having cxpcricnccd iL. ViolcnL imagcs arc cxprcsscd Lhrough a
spccic, and always varying, proccss LhaL rcquircs clinically cold
diagnosis (problcmaLizaLion) raLhcr Lhan Lhc applicaLion o solu-
Lions dcvclopcd in Lhc conLcxL o a dicrcnL problcmLhaL is,
Lhc slowncss inhcring in borcdom, raLhcr Lhan Lhc quickncss o
acLion. In oLhcr words, iL is Lhc violcncc inhcring borcdom LhaL
uncLions as an immancnL cnabling orcc Lo rcndcr ncw imagcs o
violcnccviolcnL imagcs LhaL dicr rom Lhc clichcd imagcs o
violcncc in all Loo many acLion lms. And such problcmaLizaLion
ncvcr procccds rom a criLical posiLion cxLcrnal Lo Lhc objccL o
cncounLcr. Tc incviLablc proccss o bccoming-accLcd or asci-
naLcd by Lhc objccL cnsurcsor bcLLcr and worscLhc criLics
own parLicipaLion in Lhc prob|ematque. AcLioncriLical or noL
docs Lhus noL rcsulL rom imiLaLion buL rom accLaLion.
Analyze the Face
IL is hardly a coincidcncc LhaL DcNiro is dcscribcd as a grcaL
lisLcncr and a grcaL obscrvcr (Dougan ). DcNiro himscl cx-
plaincd oncc LhaL, rcscarching or his violcnL rolc as Lhc young
Don Corlconc or Te Codjather !!, hc rcpcaLcdly waLchcd Marlon
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
Brando play Lhc old godaLhcr in Lhc Lrilogys rsL parL. RaLhcr
Lhan wanLing Lo imiLaLc Brandos pcrormanccwhich hc kncw
would bc uLilchc sLudicd Lhc movic ovcr and ovcr Lo scc somc
liLLlc movcmcnLs LhaL [Brando] would do and Lry Lo link Lhcm
Lo my pcrormancc. IL was likc a maLhcmaLical problcm whcrc
you havc Lhc rcsulL and you Lry Lo makc Lhc bcginning L (qLd.
in Dougan 6). DcNiro cxplaincd his sLraLcgy or rcndcring Lhc
young Don Lhusly: I wasnL inLimidaLcd by [Lhc rolc and Lhc acL
LhaL Brando had indclibly drawn Lhc picLurc o Lhc oldcr Don Cor-
lconc only Lwo ycars prior]. I jusL LhoughL iLs a prob|em [ . . . ].
I kind o likcd Lhc acL LhaL I had boundares and I had Lo con-
nect iL Lo somcLhing. IL wasnL likc I had Lo look or somcLhing, iL
was Lhcrc. I jusL had Lo contnue iL (InLcrvicw, my cmphascs).
l7

Flscwhcrc, DcNiro cxprcsscs LhaL McLhod acLing dcpcnds on crc-
aLing linkagcs bcLwccn dicrcnL parLs o him and Lhc characLcr,
wiLh Lhc linkagcs oLcn bcing providcd by nciLhcr buL insLcad by
an animal or an inanimaLc objccL. DcNiros much-discusscd Limc
consuming rcscarch mcLhods, Lhcn, arc much lcss cxprcssivc o
a dangcrous psychological anomaly indicaLing a Lroublcsomc mi-
mcLic proccss o rcpcLiLion, o, as IaCapra has iL, mclancholic
acLing ouL, Lhan a ncccssary componcnL o his acLing proccss.
Tis proccss has Lo bc lcarncd ancw cvcry Limc, rcquiring singular
McLhod-ical responses raLhcr Lhan wholcsalc soluLions.
+
DcNiros violcnL and cclcbraLcd bccoming-obcsc in Ragng Pu|| is
buL onc way o acLing ouL Lhc McLhod, and iL is mosL ccrLainly a
way o acLing ouL LhaL dcpcnds on a carcul rcgimcn, a conLrollcd,
disciplincd dicL plan LhaL simulLancously cnsurcs Lhc acLors
hcalLh and his abiliLy Lo radically changc his physical appcarancc
in onc and Lhc samc lm. And whilc Scorscscs lm caLurcs many
violcnL imagcs (aLcr all, iL is a lm abouL a boxcr), iL mighL vcry
wcll bc Lhc shock produccd by Lhc radically dicrcnL bodes o Dc-
Niro LhaL ascinaLcs us. Tc lm ccrLainly sccms Lo bank on Lhis
cccL, or iL opcns wiLh a juxLaposiLion o Lwo violcnL imagcs:
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6
LhaL o a wcll-Lraincd, lcan, muscular body (wc cannoL ycL scc Lo
whom Lhc body bclongs, Lhough wc suspccL iL is DcNiro as Lhc
young IaMoLLa) dancing in Lhc boxing ring and LhaL o Lhc Ly
pounds hcavicr, aL, oldcr 1akc IaMoLLa (also playcd by DcNiro)
whom wc scc rchcarsing a jokc in Lhc drcssing room o his nighL
club. Tc radical dispariLy o bodics wiLhin Lhc samc acLors
body, I Lhink, capLurcs an imagc o violcncc LhaL ascinaLcs and
Lhus sLicks wiLh us morc Lhan all Lhc brillianL misc-cn-sccnc rcal-
ism o Scorscscs camcra work and Tclma Schoonmakcrs cdiLing
cmploycd Lo capLurc Lhc violcnL acLion in Lhc ring. Bccoming-vio-
lcnL hcrc is imagcd Lhrough DcNiros bccoming-obcsc (whcrc his
obcsiLy manicsLs iLscl noL jusL in his bcing aL buL also in his
gcsLurcs moving wiLh a dcgrcc o slowncss inhcrcnLly rcsponsivc
Lo his incrcascd wcighL).
In his pcrccpLivc cssay McLhods and Madncss, culLural criLic
Iouis Mcnand argucs LhaL Ragng Pu|| is, in many ways, abouL our
inabiliLy Lo undcrsLand (1akc IaMoLLas) violcncc, or nciLhcr o
Lhc Lwo common cxplanaLory paradigmsbiology and culLurc
quiLc su cc Lo dcscribc in a saLisacLory manncr why a pcrson acLs
so violcnLly. Film criLic David Dcnby pushcs Lhc samc linc o ar-
gumcnL a sLcp urLhcr. Dcnby asscrLs in his rcvicw cssay BruLc
Forcc LhaL DcNiro appcars Lo bc Lhc rsL grcaL acLor in Amcrican
movics Lo havc consciously rcjccLcd audicncc rapporL bccausc Dc-
Niro docsnL wanL us Lo idcnLiy (). InsLcad, so Dcnby claims,
DcNiros brillianL pcrormanccs arc a way o saying, donL Lry Lo
undcrsLand mc, bccausc you canL. Im noL Lhc samc as youI may
bc bcLLcr or worsc, buL Im noL you (). BoLh Mcnand and Dcnby
arLiculaLc Lhc shccr impossibiliLy o undcrsLanding violcnccan
impossibiliLy LhaL is rcndcrcd Langibly visiblc Lhrough DcNiros acL-
ing sLylc.
lS
Indccd, wc nccd Lo hccd Dcnbys asscrLion LhaL DcNiro
rcuscs Lo bc undcrsLood prcciscly bccausc violcnccLhaL which
DcNiro mosL consisLcnLly has Lo rcndcr cincmaLicallyis morc
abouL soliciLing ascinaLion raLhcr Lhan undcrsLanding. DcNiros
acLing ouL o violcncc is (always) markcd as parLicular bccomings
LhaL conLinually vary Lhc imagc o violcncc as a rcsulL o a scrializcd
working Lhrough o Lhc prob|ematque.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :66
+
DcNiros acLing, in oLhcr words, marks Lhc noncommonscnsical-
iLy o violcncc. ConscqucnLly, acLing, as cxcmplicd by DcNiro,
has rcally noLhing Lo do wiLh Lapping inLo oncs psychc or oncs
pasL, as Dougan suggcsLs whcn hc claims LhaL DcNiros McLhod
Lraining would havc cncouragcd [him] Lo bring his own pain Lo Lhc
parL (,). NoL surprisingly, Dougan Lhcn asscrLs, Any LhcrapisL
would conrm LhaL Lo undcrsLand Lhc pain and play iL so con-
vincingly DcNiro would havc had Lo havc cndurcd aL lcasL somc
parL o iL (,). Dougans psychobiographical analysis sharply
conLrasLs wiLh DcNiros own dcscripLion o Lhc McLhod acLing
proccss, howcvcr: Building a characLcr, DcNiro argucs in his
dcscripLion o whaL hc lcarncd rom SLclla Adlcr, is noL abouL
ncuroscs or playing on your ncuroscs. ILs abouL Lhc characLcr
[ . . . ], Lhc Lasks o Lhc characLcr, wiLhouL going abouL iL as i iLs all
abouL you (InLcrvicw). FxpcrimcnLing wiLh Lhc problcm o how Lo
rcndcr his many violcnL characLcrs, Lhcrcorc, rcquircs Limc and c-
orL, hc had Lo work Lhrough Lhc problcmaLic ovcr and ovcr, buL Lhc
only way hc possibly could work Lhrough Lhcsc varying problcms
was by acLing ouL scrializcd rcsponscs. BuL whcrcas psychoanalysis
Lcnds Lo vicw working Lhrough as prccrablc Lo and disLinguishcd
rom acLing ouL, DcNiros casc shows LhaL cvcry working- Lhrough
always alrcady consisLs o an acLing ouL, and LhaL acLing ouL is con-
sLiLuLcd by Lhc nccd Lo work Lhrough a problcm.
ConscqucnLly, onc mighL bcsL dcscribc DcNiros mcLhod as a
casc in poinL or Dclcuzcs obscrvaLion LhaL posLwar cincma is
LhaL o Lhc sccr, noL Lhc docr (Cnema i xi). AcLing, as cxcmplicd
by DcNiro, is noL so much abouL purc acLion as iL is abouL sccing,
abouL waiLing, obscrving, cnLcring a spccic mood Lhrough cx-
pcrimcnLaLion and, pcrhaps, an inLuiLivc rccogniLion LhaL mimc-
sis as a Lool is ovcrly dcpcndcnL on acLion.
l0
I wc havc lcarncd Lo
Lhink o McLhod acLing as bcing obscsscd wiLh acLiviLyrcscarch,
inLcrvicwing, acLing ouL o inncr cars or oLhcr cmoLionsLhcn
I Lhink DcNiro producLivcly counLcrs Lhis problcmaLic characLcr-
izaLion in LhaL hc consisLcnLly shows in his own pracLicc LhaL acL-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6,
ing ouL is, i anyLhing, a proccss LhaL cannoL bc LhoughL and donc
wiLhouL a concurrcnL working Lhrough, and vicc vcrsa.
WhaL dicrs, Lhcn, is noL Lhc moral qualiLy o acLing ouL or work-
ing Lhrough buL Lhcir inLcnsiLics and Lhc way Lhc proccss o boLh is
accomplishcd and whaL is cccLuaLcd. How, cxacLly, is Lhc (violcnL)
characLcr rcndcrcd, and Lhrough whaL is Lhc violcncc madc visiblc`
Or, wiLh Dclcuzc and CuaLLari, what crcumstances trgger the ma-
chne LhaL produccs Lhc acc and acializaLion (Tousand P|ateaus
:,o)` And iL is DcNiros carccr-long cngagcmcnL wiLh Lhis problcm-
aLic LhaL, I Lhink, conrms and simulLancously cxpands Narcmorcs
asscssmcnL o DcNiro bcing a Lhoroughgoing naLuralisL [buL] also
a sophisLicaLcd LhcorisL (i6,). For Lhc also in Narcmorcs asscss-
mcnL suggcsLs a disLincLion bcLwccn pracLicc and Lhcory, bcLwccn
his pracLicing naLuralism and his abiliLy Lo Lhcorizc a givcn prob-
lcmaLic. Or, Lo rcLurn Lo IaCapras Lcrminology, Narcmorcs also
inadvcrLcnLly conrms Lhc casy opposiLion bcLwccn acLing ouL
(pracLicc) and working Lhrough (Lhcory). As DcNiros mulLiplc cn-
counLcrs wiLh violcncc makc clcar, howcvcr, Lhc Lhcory s Lhc prac-
Licc, Lhc pracLicc Lhc Lhcory. As i Laking placc in a lab scLLing, acLing
is a proccss o working Lhrough spccic cxpcrimcnLal problcms. To
work Lhrough, Lo Lhink Lhrough (Lhcorizc abouL) Lhc problcm, how-
cvcr, Lhc acLor ulLimaLcly has Lo nd ways o acLing ouL Lhc problcm-
aLic. For only Lhc doing will ulLimaLcly show whcLhcr Lhc problcm
has bccn solvcd, whcLhcr iL has bccn Lransormcd inLo somcLhing
clsc, pcrhaps a ncw prob|ematque LhaL cnorccs Lhc qucsLions I
violcncc has bccn Lhis, Lhcn whaL clsc can iL bc` or How clsc can iL
bc rcndcrcd` or WhaL clsc can iL do`
So, and Lhis brings us back Lo Ana|yze Ts, IaCapras diagno-
sis o acLing ouL as mimcLic and opposcd Lo working Lhrough is
always Loo asL, sincc iL docs noL pay aLLcnLion Lo how, spcci-
cally, acLing works and whaL iL docs. As I havc bccn suggcsLing
LhroughouL Lhis chapLcr, Lhc acc plays a crucial rolc in Lhc pro-
ccss o acLing prcciscly bccausc iL has Lhc capaciLy Lo LcrriLorializc
our ascinaLion wiLh whaL wc scc, cvcn i iL is aL Limcs noL Lhc acc
iLscl LhaL iniLially makcs a violcnL imagc visiblc, as is Lhc casc in
Mean Streets, Te Codjather !!, Tax Lrver, or Ragng Pu||.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :68
+
Ana|yze Ts undoubLcdly dramaLizcs Lhis poinL in iLs bcsL-known
momcnL: ViLLy and Sobcls rsL mccLing. ViLLy, having jusL cn-
Lcrcd Sobcls o cc, wanLs Lo cnsurc LhaL his visiL rcmains a sc-
crcL, lcsL his undcrworld ricnds and ocs gcL wind o iL and Lhink
him wcak. Hc playully ycL dcLcrmincdly makcs Sobcl undcrsLand
LhaL Lhc psychoanalysL docs noL know who hc is (You know mc`
Ycs I do. No you donL. ox Sccn my picLurc in Lhc papcr`
Ycs I havc. No you didnL. I didnL cvcn gcL Lhc papcr.). Hc
Lhcn prcLcnds LhaL hc visiLs Sobcl on bchal o a ricnd who has
problcms and hcs gonna havc Lo probably scc a shrink.
BuL ViLLy is a poor liar, and aLcr a cw scnLcnccs, Sobcl rc-
sponds Lo ViLLys sLory by dcclaring: Im going ouL on a limb hcrc. I
Lhink your ricnd is you. AL Lhis momcnL, Lhc camcra cuLs back Lo
a mcdium closc-up o DcNiros acc in which wc dcLccL Lhc slighL-
csL opcning o his cycs, immcdiaLcly casLing a darkcr, LhrcaLcning
shadow ovcr his acc. A rcvcrsc shoL o CrysLals acc conrms LhaL
Sobcl Loo has rcgisLcrcd Lhc subLlc, ycL imporLanL, shiL o mood,
or his acc now cxprcsscs lcss condcncc and morc car (or his lic)
Lhan a cw scconds bcorc. Has hc possibly cxcccdcd his boundar-
ics` Tc camcra cuLs back Lo DcNiros acc, as hc bcgins Lo pcrorm
a momcnL o acLing LhaL by now has bccomc jusLly amous. His acc
gradually assumcs a happy, rclaxcd cxprcssion, wiLh DcNiros cycs
narrowing Lo Lwo small sliLs ramcd by joyul horizonLal urrows
o laughLcr, as his only slighLly opcncd, narrow-lippcd mouLh in-
Loncs: You, yooou, [wagging his indcx ngcr aL Sobcl], yooooou
goL a giL my ricnd. You goL a giL. As Sobcl is rclucLanL Lo acccpL
ViLLys praisc, Lhcir dialoguc conLinucs:
Vitty: Oh ycah!
Sobel: No I donL.
Vitty: Ycs you do. [in a Lcasing, sing-song voicc]
Sobel: No I rcally donL.
WiLh Lhc camcra on DcNiros acc, wc now scc iL changc iLs cx-
prcssion oncc morc, now back Lo iLs original sLaLc o lingcring
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :6j
violcncc, wiLh DcNiros cycs widc opcn again, Lhc wrinklcs o
joy gonc and Lhc dccp urrows on his orchcad back in all Lhcir
glory. Ycs you do! ViLLy cxLols, Lhc insisLcncc in DcNiros voicc
simply adding Lo whaL his acc has alrcady csLablishcd, namcly,
LhaL hc has madc Sobcl an ocr o praisc LhaL musL noL bc rc-
uscd.
+
On onc lcvcl, Lhis sccnc conLrasLs ViLLys dcsirc or a quick so-
luLion wiLh Sobcls rcusal Lo acccpL rcsponsibiliLy or anyLhing
LhaL docs noL conorm Lo his insLiLuLionalizcd bclic in Lhc orcc
o mourning. (And Lo somc dcgrcc hc is provcn corrccL, in Lhc
scnsc LhaL ViLLys anxicLy, which, according Lo Lhc mobsLcr, had
jusL disappcarcd, rcLurns shorLly LhcrcaLcr.) BuL on anoLhcr
lcvcl, Lhis sccnc, Lhrough Lhc powcr o acLing as singularizcd by
DcNiros acc, is about Lhc consLiLuLivc orcc o acLing (ouL) iLscl.
WhaL clsc is Lhis sccnc buL a showcasing o DcNiros acLing pow-
crs` And whaL clsc is shown buL Lhc rcpcLiLivc compulsion LhaL
govcrns acLing` Indccd, whaL clsc is illusLraLcd buL an (violcnL)
inLcnsicaLion causcd by Lhc proccss o rcpcLiLion, o rcpcaLing
Lhc acLing ouL (cnacLing) o Lhc samc linc LhaL, Lhrough iLs rcpcLi-
Livcncss, inLroduccs dicrcncc, a dicrcncc LhaL in iLs consLiLu-
Livc orcc accLs any aLLcmpL aL working Lhrough`
As Lhc rcsL o Lhc movic comically dramaLizcs, working
Lhrough, ar rom bcing morally supcrior Lo, or indccd disLincL
rom, acLing ouL dcpcnds on a proccss o rcpcaLcd acLing ouL, on
a compulsivcly scrializcd rcLurn Lo a pracLicc LhaL is noL abouL
mcmory buL, in acL, abouL whaL NicLzschc has conccpLualizcd
as acLivc orgcLLing. 1ohn Rajchman, glossing Dclcuzc, cxplains
iL Lhusly: Tcrc is a unmourning LhaL rcquircs morc work, buL
promiscs morc joy. [Mclancholy] mighL Lhcn bc said Lo bc Lhc
scnsaLion o an unhappy idcalizaLion, and Lhc rcal anLidoLc Lo iL
is Lo bc ound noL in rcmcmorizaLion and idcnLicaLion [work-
ing Lhrough, or mourning], buL in acLivc orgcLLing and a r-
maLivc cxpcrimcnLaLion wiLh whaL is ycL Lo comc (:i).
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,o
For ViLLy Lo bc ablc Lo uncLion in a manncr appropriaLc Lo Lhc
logic o his world and currcnL siLuaLion (rcgardlcss o whcLhcr
iL agrccs wiLh our undcrsLanding o social codcs and norms),
hc musL orgcL Lhc guilL hc ccls abouL Lhc rolc hc playcd as a
young kid in his aLhcrs dcaLh. Similarly, DcNiro as an acLor
musL acLivcly orgcL somc o his pasL Lricks LhaL hc has uscd
Lo bccomc-violcnL in ordcr Lo rcinvcnLor Lo invcnL again ncw,
dicringimagcs o violcncc. DcNiro musL, in a scnsc, orgcL
LhaL many o his prcvious insLanccs o bccoming-violcnL rcgis-
Lcrcd as a bodily violcncc: 1ohnny Boys cxubcranL ycL LhrcaL-
cning movcmcnL acccnLuaLcd by a haL, Travis Bicklcs physical
disciplining o himscl acccnLuaLcd by his bccoming-crab, or
1akc IaMoLLas bccoming-obcsc, DcNiros mosL amous physi-
cal bccoming.
Tc accLivc impassc ViLLy cxpcricnccs rcsulLs rom an in-
LcrrupLion o his bodys capaciLy Lo acL. Tc qucsLion raiscd by
Lhc problcm is whaL his body has Lo bc capablc o doing, and Lhc
poLcnLially mulLiplc soluLions arc providcd by Lhc prob|ematque
iLscl raLhcr Lhan by somc prcscribcd, normaLivizcd answcr. Tis
docs noL mcan LhaL violcncc is good or LhaL working Lhrough is
bad. BuL Ana|yze Ts dramaLizcs LhaL Lhc violcncc immancnL Lo
Lhc compulsion Lo rcpcaLLo acL ouLis noL mcrcly a pcrhaps
ncccssary, Lhough rcally dcplorablc, sLcp Lo a hcalLhicr rcsponsc
mcchanism Lo violcnL Lrauma callcd mourning. InsLcad, Lhc
lmcspccially Lhc aorcmcnLioncd sccnc LhaL mosL cccLivcly
dcploys Lhc violcnL powcr o DcNiros accinsisLs LhaL Lhis vio-
lcncc is consttutve o Lhc proccss o working Lhrough. In oLhcr
words, Ana|yze Tss acializaLion o violcncc Lhrough DcNiros
pcrormancc dcconsLrucLs Lhc insLiLuLionalizcd moral disLinc-
Lion bcLwccn acLing ouL and working Lhrough and Lhus sccms
Lo suggcsL violcnccs immancncc Lo lic, Lo acLion. Trough iLs
rcpcLiLions on boLh Lhc lcvcl o narraLivc sLrucLurc and DcNiros
cnacLmcnLs o a wisc guy, iL a rms LhaL working Lhrough is a
proccss o violcnL acLing ouL, or o a rming a rcpcLiLion o LhaL
which rcLurns as dicrcncc.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,:
A New Pop Iconography of Violence
Tc acial sccnc in Ana|yze Ts suggcsLs LhaL DcNiro has ac-
quircd Lhc capaciLy Lo cxprcss his characLcrs mcnacc Lhrough
a Lypc o acLing LhaL in iLs cxLrcmc minimalism and calmncss
mighL bc considcrcd Lhc culminaLion o a long proccss o work-
ing Lhrough Lhc McLhod modc o acLing ouL. Whilc vicwcrs
may noL bc privy Lo a morc orcgroundcd acLing proccss (acLing
ouL), Lhcy arc madc Lo wiLncss Lhc purc immancncc o whaL all
Loo oLcn is conccivcd o as pragmaLically and morally disLincL
proccsscs: working Lhrough and acLing ouL. And our capaciLy Lo
wiLncss Lhis clcarly rcsulLs rom DcNiros carccr-long, rcpcLiLivc
giving ovcr o himscl Lo Lhc problcm o how Lo rcndcr violcncc
Lhrough acLing. WiLhouL any masLcr plan bchind iL, wiLhouL any
prcconccivcd soluLion, or cvcn wiLhouL any purc rccogniLion o
whaL hc was doing, DcNiro pcrormaLivcly solvcd his prob-
lcm by rcpcaLcdly conronLing iL, Lrying Lo nd dicrcnL ways o
cncounLcring Lhc qucsLion o violcncc as posiLcd by his charac-
Lcrs. In oLhcr words, DcNiros pcrormancc has liLLlc Lo do wiLh
consciousncss, which is noL Lo dcny LhaL hc is an inLclligcnL,
Lhinking acLor.
RcpcaLcdly working Lhrough Lhc problcm, howcvcr, mcanL
or DcNiro LhaL hc rcqucnLly had Lo acL violcnLly, LhaL hc had
Lo acL ouL. Tis acLivc rcpcLiLion wiLh a dicrcncc o DcNiros
aLLcmpL Lo nd ways Lo rcndcr violcnccLo show on scrccn
how violcncc works and whaL iL docsmanicsLs Lhis conLinual
variaLion, a variaLion LhaL cnds up bcing varicd iLscl as a rc-
sulL o an cnacLcd cxpcrimcnLaLion. IL has bccomc visiblc in his
carly McLhod acLing days in which his body providcd his ccnLral
ramc o rccrcncc (Mean Streets, Tax Lrver, Ragng Pu||), Lo his
laLcr, pcrhaps morc mainsLrcam days o camco rolcs (Te 0n-
touchab|es, c.g.), Lo his morc rcccnL rolcs in which Lhc ocus or
DcNiros violcncc has almosL complcLcly shiLcd rom his body
Lo his acc.
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,i
+
Considcr, or cxamplc, DcNiros pcrormancc o 1immy Conway
in CoodFe||as, his sixLh collaboraLion wiLh Scorscsc. As opposcd
Lo his carlicr rolcs in his ricnds lms, Lhis onc is mcrcly an
imporLanL supporLing rolc. YcL, iL is prcciscly Lhc supporL hc
lcndscspccially in juxLaposiLion Lo 1oc Pcscis volaLilc charac-
Lcr, TommyLhaL oncc again somcLhing inLcrcsLing cmcrgcs rc-
garding Lhc imaging o violcncc. For Lhc rsL Limc in his carccr,
onc would bc jusLicd Lo characLcrizc DcNiros acc as handsomc.
UndoubLcdly duc Lo Lhc skills o makc-up arLisLs working or Lhc
lm, Lhis maLurc handsomcncss noncLhclcss appcars as i iL
had ariscn ouL o Lhc accumulaLcd acLing cxpcricncc o Lhc lasL
LwcnLy ycars. His acial bcauLy is onc o cxLrcmc calmncss and
scrcniLy, as opposcd Lo Lhc shiLincss cxprcsscd on 1ohnny Boys
or Traviss acc, or insLancc. From Lhc lms rsL sccnc (wc soon
discovcr LhaL iL is a ashback), o coursc, CoodFe||as docs noL
lcavc any doubL abouL Conways violcncc. TogcLhcr wiLh Tommy,
Conway is shown Lo kill a body LhaL Lhcy bclicvcd Lo havc killcd
alrcady hours carlicr (a sccnc LhaL Lhc lm shows an hour inLo Lhc
lm). Whcrcas Tommy sLabs Lhc corpsc our or vc Limcs wiLh
his moLhcrs imprcssivc kiLchcn knic, Conway rcs a cw bullcLs
in iL or good mcasurc. Iikcwisc, Lhc lm caLurcs a numbcr o
oLhcr scqucnccs in which Conway is dcpicLcd as violcnL: killing,
wc lcarn, is jusL busincss or him.
YcL, DcNiros pcrormancc is parLicularly cccLivc in iLs abil-
iLy Lo prcscnL us wiLh ycL anoLhcr bccoming-violcnL bccausc his
characLcrs calmncss dicrcnLiaLcs him so wcll rom Tommys
morc obvious nihilisLic madncss. Tis Limc iL is Pcsci who, in a
carccr-making pcrormancc, gcLs Lo acL ouL violcncc in iLs mosL
volaLilc orm. Had DcNiro Lricd Lo maLch Pcscis ranLic acLing
ouL, Lhc lm would havc bccn lcss compclling in iLs accLiviLy. O
coursc, DcNiro was mosL ccrLainly dirccLcd, noL only by Scorscsc,
buL also by Nicholas Pilcggis scripL, buL or all inLcnLs and pur-
poscs, iL is his pcrormancc o 1immy LhaL marks Lhc rsL Limc o
DcNiros bccoming-acc as wc know iL Loday. For aLcr Lhis pcror-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
mancc, his violcnL rolcs havc by and largc ccascd Lo work Lhrough
his body (wiLh Lhc major cxccpLion o Cape Fear). In Casno, Ronn
(dir. 1ohn Frankcnhcimcr, :jj8) or, mosL rcccnLly, Te Score (dir.
Frank Oz, ioo:), as wcll as in Lhc comcdics, DcNiros characLcrs
cxudc varying dcgrccs o (aging) acial handsomcncss LhaL havc
caughL our cycs and Lhus havc LcrriLorializcd all o his prcvious
bccoming-violcnLs onLo his acc: bccoming-aLLracLivc, bccoming-
violcnL.
+
In a scnsc, wc can dcscribc DcNiros acLing carccr as a bccom-
ing-acial and his proccss o acLing as a conLinual bccoming. Tc
cmcrging acc o DcNiro as showcascd in Lhc Lwo comcdics Meet
the Parents and Ana|yze Ts is consLiLuLcd by Lhis proccss o rcp-
cLiLion, o producing varicLy wiLhin Lhis scrializaLion, o inLcnsi-
ying Lhc proccss o acLing in ordcr Lo cnsurc LhaL variaLion iLscl
conLinually varics. DcNiros acialiLy has Lhus cmcrgcd bccausc
o his consisLcnL (i uninLcnLional) acLing ouL wh|e working
Lhrough, or working Lhrough wh|e acLing ouL. IL has cmcrgcd ouL
o a McLhod LhaL pracLically Lhcorizcs acLing as nonmimcLic, as
having as liLLlc Lo do wiLh imiLaLion or rcprcscnLaLion as iL has
Lo do wiLh judgmcnLwhich arc conccpLs and pracLiccs LhaL, as I
havc argucd in chapLcr , always prcsupposc cach oLhcr and Lhus
cannoL bc LhoughL or pracLiccd scparaLcly.
Hcncc, wc arc lcd Lo concludc LhaL DcNiros sLylc o bccom-
ing-violcnL, in all iLs dicrcnL shapcs and orms LhroughouL his
carccr, has noLhing aL all Lo do wiLh a mimcLic proccss Lriggcring
an acLing ouL Lhcrco, as is so oLcn allcgcd by criLics o onscrccn
violcncc. InsLcad, violcncc is an accL produccd Lhrough cngag-
ing a proccss, a pracLicc o sccing, o bccoming-accLcd, o inLcn-
siying moods Lo Lhc poinL o brcaking. To gcL Lhcrc, DcNiro had
Lo gurc ouLnoL oncc or Lwicc, buL cvcry Limc ancwhow Lo
cnLcr Lhis acLing spacc. (Failurc, as DcNiro himscl asscrLs, is
parL o LhaL proccss.) Only by working ouL Lhis problcm could hc
arrivc aL spccic soluLions, and only by acLing Lhrough iL could
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
hc cnsurc LhaL his variaLions on Lhc samc Lhcmc (occasionally)
varicd Lhcmsclvcs.
20
All o Lhis is Lo say LhaL Lhc conLinual variaLion LhaL DcNiro in-
uscs inLo Lhc imagc o violcncc rcsulLs rom a proccss o subtrac-
ton raLhcr Lhan addiLion. In a scnsc, acLing ouL is always abouL a
ccrLain way o cxcccding, o adding Lo a givcn. I my map o Dc-
Niros dicrcnL orms o bccoming-violcnL is pcrsuasivc, howcvcr,
iL sccms LhaL wc can claim LhaL, aL lcasL as a signicanL Lcndcncy,
his carly cmphasis on addiLion, on a physical acLing ouLall Lhc
whilc shoL Lhrough, consLiLuLivcly, by a working Lhroughgivcs
way Lo a sLrcss on working Lhrough, on a ccrLain calmncss (and
aLLracLivcncss, onc mighL add) LhaL cmcrgcs Lhrough Lhc powcr
o an aging, wcll-Lraincd, immcnscly conLrollablc, and Lhus c-
ccLivcly accLivc acc. As a ormula, Lhcn, DcNiros conLinually
varying orms o his bccoming-violcnL can bc said Lo havc bccn
cccLuaLcd by subLracLing Lhc onc clcmcnL LhaL wc mosL oLcn
associaLc (and car) wiLh Lhc conccpL o violcncc: blood. DcNiros
algoriLhm or bccoming-violcnL can Lhus bc namcd as violcncc
lcss blooda ormula LhaL indcxcs lm criLicisms nccd Lo bc-
comc ascinaLcd by imagings o violcncc in placcs or occasions
other Lhan Lhosc markcd by scvcrcd hcads, blood-drcnchcd bod-
ics, or buildings blown Lo smiLhcrccns.
O coursc, Lhis shiL in DcNiros McLhod-ical pcrormancc sLylc
is noL complcLc by any mcans. For insLancc, in Cape Fear, DcNiro
oncc again rcLurns Lo imaging violcncc Lhrough an cmphasis on
his body. Famously, DcNiro aunLs innumcrablc prison LaLLoos
on his muscular body. 1usL as wc rcmcmbcr his obcsc body in
Ragng Pu||, or his cyborglikc appcarancc in Tax Lrver, so iL is
his bccoming-LaLLoo LhaL has lingcrcd wiLh us as Lhc main imagc
o violcncc rom Scorscsc and DcNiros mosL commcrcially suc-
ccssul collaboraLion.
2l
Iikcwisc, as my rsL prologuc mcanL Lo
suggcsL, DcNiros acc has alrcady bccn cnormously cccLivc in
rcndcring a ncw imagc o violcncc in Tax Lrver. Tc poinL hcrc
is LhaL bccoming-violcnL docs noL havc Lo bc limiLcd Lo onc in-
sLanLiaLion pcr pcrormancc. RaLhcr, mulLiplc orms o bccom-
ing-violcnL occur, buL as a maLLcr o cmphasis iL sccms clcar LhaL
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,
DcNiro has imagcd violcncc prcdominanLly Lhrough his body in
Lhc rsL Lwo dccadcs o his carccr, whcrcas hc has rcndcrcd iL vis-
iblc prcdominanLly on his acc in Lhc lasL Lcn or Lccn ycars. YcL,
LhaL DcNiro has bccomc Lhc acc o violcncc in posLWorld War
II Amcrican popular culLurc signicanLly rcsulLs rom Lhc proccss
o acializaLion LhaL ovcrcodcs his physical bccoming-violcnLs. As
Dclcuzc and CuaLLari wriLc, Lhc acc is produccd only whcn Lhc
hcad ccascs Lo bc a parL o Lhc body, whcn iL ccascs Lo bc codcd by
Lhc body [ . . . ]whcn Lhc body, hcad includcd, has bccn dccodcd
and overcoded by somcLhing wc shall call Lhc Facc (Tousand P|a-
teaus :,o).
InLcrcsLingly cnough, popular culLurc was quick Lo rcgisLcr Lhis
shiL in DcNiros imaging o violcncconc LhaL insLanLiaLcs Lhc
proccss and cccLs o acialiLy prcciscly bccausc his acc cmcrgcs
ouL o whaL happcns Lo, and is bcing donc wiLh, Lhc acLors body
aL largc. For a long Limc, Lhc amous mirror sccnc rom Tax
Lrverarguably Lhc mosL quoLcd sccnc in movic hisLory (Tau-
bin 6)has govcrncd pop culLurcs imagc o DcNiro, and Lhus
o violcncc, jusL as much as his bccoming-obcsc in Ragng Pu||.
CounLlcss lms havc ovcrLly acknowlcdgcd Lhc powcr inhcring
Lhc mirror sccnc, and acLors in Lhc posLRagng Pu|| ycars havc
bccn unablc Lo cscapc Lhc cnormous obscssivc powcr displaycd by
DcNiros 1akc IaMoLLa pcrormancc.
22
YcL, comcdy skiLs cvincc
LhaL DcNiros mosL rcccnL bccoming-violcnLhis bccoming-acc
o Amcrican (lm) violcncchas Lakcn hold o popular culLurc. IL
is hardly a coincidcncc LhaL Lhc acc sccnc rom Ana|yze Ts has
almosL insLanLly bccomc a avoriLc momcnL in many conLcmpo-
rary comcdians rcpcrLoirc whcn Lhcy impcrsonaLc DcNiro. For
insLancc, 1immy Fallon o Saturday Nght Lve puL Lhis DcNirocan
acLing momcnL Lo good comcdic purposc during Lhc Wcckcnd
UpdaLc scgmcnL o Lhc longsLanding Nsc show. In his playully
ncgaLivc rcvicw o Meet the Parents, hc parodicd jusL abouL all
o Lhc acial (and vocal) Lics LhaL arc now casily rccognizablc as
Lradcmark DcNiro (OcLobcr :, iooo). In acL, DcNiro sponLa-
ncously rcspondcd by parLicipaLing in Fallons shLick onc show
laLcr (OcLobcr i:, iooo): whilc Fallon imiLaLcd DcNiros acc, Dc-
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,6
Niro mockcd Fallons own manncrisms and slowly LhrcaLcncd
him inLo rccanLing his rcvicw.
So, in and ouL o conLcxL, Lhis sccnc arLiculaLcs purc, raw vio-
lcncc Lhrough iLs cnacLing. WiLhouL cvcr saying so much, cvcry-
oncSobcl, Lhc vicwcrs o Ana|yze Ts, and 1immy Fallons au-
dicncc, whether or not Lhcy havc sccn Lhis parLicular movicis
accLcd by (and scnscs) Lhc violcnLly LhrcaLcning scnsaLion in-
hcring in and rcndcrcd by Lhis momcnL o acLing. And whilc Lhc
vocal inLonaLion o Lhc sccnc is cccLivc and conLribuLcs much
Lo iLs succcss, I suggcsL LhaL iL is noL rcally nccdcd, as opposcd
Lo, say, Marlon Brandos husky voicc in Te Codjather whcn hc,
as Don Corlconc, dcclarcs LhaL his ocr cannoL bc rcuscd. Tc
closc-up o DcNiros acial acLing quiLc liLcrally docs all Lhc work
ncccssary Lo imbricaLc Lhis momcnL wiLh all Lhc violcncc o scnsa-
Lion LhaL can bc musLcrcd wiLhouL acLually having Lo showacL
ouL(scnsaLional) vcrsions Lhcrco.
Becoming-Violent, Becoming-Minor
Michacl Manns Heat prcscnLs us quiLc possibly wiLh DcNiros
bcsL violcnL pcrormancc ouLsidc o a MarLin Scorscsc lm sincc
his cclcbraLcd rolc o Lhc young Don Corlconc. AL Lhc Limc o
Lhc lms rclcasc, much clamor was provokcd by Lhc acL LhaL iL
caLurcd or Lhc rsL Limc Lhc Lwo prccmincnL McLhod acLors o
Lhcir gcncraLion in Lhc samc sccnc: DcNiro and Al Pacino.
23
Whilc
onc could say much abouL Lhcir dicrcnL acLing sLylcs, I simply
wanL Lo highlighL LhaL Manns scripL providcs us wiLh onc nal
imagc o how DcNiros acializaLion o violcncc has cmcrgcd as a
consLiLuLivc uncLion o conLcmporary scrccn violcncc.
24
In Lhc cclcbraLcd acc-Lo-acc siL-down sccnc bcLwccn Lhc Lwo
lcgcndary acLors, Pacinos characLcr, VinccnL Hanna, a righLcous
and accomplishcd ycL dissaLiscd IA dcLccLivc, cxprcsscs a ccrLain
admiraLion or his criminal opponcnL, DcNiros Ncil McCaulcy, as
Lhcy arc siLLing across rom cach oLhcr aL a Lablc in a crowdcd co-
cc shop: You know wc arc siLLing hcrc acc Lo acc likc a couplc o
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,,
rcgular cllows and i I havc Lo go ouL Lhcrc and puL you down, Ill
Lcll you I wonL likc iL. BuL i iLs bcLwccn you and somc poor bas-
Lard whosc wic yourc gonna Lurn inLo a widow, broLhcr, you arc
going down. Pacinos characLcr assumcs a ccrLain raLcrniLy wiLh
DcNiros prcciscly bccausc o Lhcir acc-Lo-acc cncounLcr. Whilc
Hanna acknowlcdgcs LhaL hc will noL hcsiLaLc Lo kill McCaulcy, hc
clcarly Lhinks LhaL Lhc valuc o Lhcir acc-Lo-acc csLablishcs a rcla-
Lionship wiLh cach oLhcrLhaL Lhcy sharc somcLhingoutsde o
Lhcir procssional rclaLionship, which is sLrucLurcd by violcncc.
McCaulcy, howcvcr, will havc nonc o LhaL. RaLhcr Lhan concciv-
ing o Lhc acc-Lo-acc as (pcrhaps morc cLhical, mosL ccrLainly lcss
violcnL) ouLsidc o Lhcir cop-criminal rclaLionship, hc insisLs LhaL
Lhc acc-Lo-acc docs noL changc anyLhing: Tcrc is a ip sidc Lo
LhaL coin. WhaL i you do gcL mc boxcd in and I will havc Lo puL you
down` Causc no maLLcr whaL, you will noL gcL in my way. Wcvc
bccn jace-to-jace, ycah. BuL I will noL hcsiLaLc, noL or a sccond (cm-
phasis minc). Ycs, Lhcy havc bccn acc-Lo-acc, buL so whaL whcn
Lhc acc iLscl has bccomc Lhc mosL powcrul imagc o violcncc`
(IL is almosL as i Lhc lm wanLcd Lo rcuLc a libcral-mindcd
rcading o Icvinass conccpL o Lhc acc-Lo-acc LhaL uscs iL Lo
csLablish a vcrsion o cLhics dominaLcd by rccogniLion and inLcr-
subjccLiviLy, or Lhc nccd Lo recognze and Lhus rcspccL Lhc oLhcr-
ncss o oLhcrs. Tis rcading sLrikcs mc as qucsLionablc, howcvcr,
or Lwo rcasons: onc, Icvinass acc-Lo-acc is noL abouL an
cncounLcr wiLh anoLhcr human buL wiLh Cod, and, Lwo, Icvinas
is quiLc cxpliciLly arguing againsL rccogniLion as Lhc basis or
cLhics. For Icvinas, cLhics, pcrormaLivcly provokcd in Lhc acc-
Lo-acc cncounLcr, is a onc-way sLrccL in which Lhc subjccL is sub-
ected by Lhc oLhcr: SubjccLiviLy is bcing hosLagc [Otherwse Tan
Peng :i,]. NoL only docs Lhc oLhcr noL carc whcLhcr I rccognizc
iL buL in acL I am always and alrcady in dcbL [LhaL I can ncvcr pay
o] Lo Lhc oLhcr. Tc subjccL is always alrcady subjccLcd Lo and by
Lhc oLhcr, and iL is Lhis bruLc acL o Lhc subjccLs passvty in hcr
rclaLion Lo Lhc oLhcr Lo which Icvinas ascribcs cLhical orcc. FLh-
ics, so Icvinas argucs, is a calling inLo qucsLion o my sponLanc-
iLy by Lhc prcscncc o Lhc oLhcr [Tota|ty and !nnty ]. Hcncc,
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,8
or Icvinas cLhics can ncvcr bc abouL sccing Lhrough anoLhcrs
cycs, or Lhis pcrspccLival undcrsLanding o rcsponsibiliLy is akin
Lo a kind o subjccLivc impcrialism in which sccing Lhrough Lhc
oLhcrs cycs cnds up in conLrolling Lhc oLhcrs vision. In shorL, Lhc
inLcrsubjccLivc inLcrprcLaLion o Icvinass acc-Lo-acc amounLs
Lo a parLicularly insidious insLanLiaLion o violcncc, noL a mcLhod
or cscaping violcncc.)
25
In Lhis scnsc, Lhcn, Heat dramaLizcs a raLhcr dangcrous habiL
o lm criLicism o violcncc: namcly, Lhc lm shows LhaL criLics
look or violcncc and iLs poLcnLially dangcrous cccLs in all Lhc
wrong placcs prcciscly bccausc Lhcy prcLcnd Lo know whaL vio-
lcncc is, jusL as Hanna Lhinks hc knows whaL a good old raLcr-
nal acc-Lo-acc Lalk is. IL is up Lo McCaulcywhosc violcncc is
madc manicsL through DcNiros acialiLyLo suggcsL oLhcrwisc,
iL is lcL Lo Lhc onc who has bccomc Lhc acc o violcncc in Amcri-
can culLurc Lo spcak criLically o Lhcsc assumpLions.
And in Lhc cnd, suggcsLing oLhcrwisc sccms Lo mc Lhc kcy Lo
DcNiros accomplishmcnL wiLh rcgard Lo his abiliLy Lo bccomc
Lhc acc o violcncc in Amcrican posLWorld War II culLurc. For
Lhis oLhcrwisc is cccLcd noL by aLLcmpLing Lo sLcp ouLsidc as
a mcans Lo opposc a givcn scL o circumsLanccs, nor is iL broughL
abouL Lhrough a proccss o imiLaLion. InsLcad, DcNiros McLhod-
ical acLing clcarly opcraLcs by rcpcaLcdly going through LhaL which
is bcsL known: McLhod acLing. InhabiLing Lhc McLhod allows an
accLaLion rom insidc, vcry much akin Lo whaL Dclcuzc dcscribcs
as a minor LrcaLmcnL o HisLory, o docLrinc, o dogma
(Onc Icss ManicsLo i). I Lhc McLhod has normalizcd a par-
Licular sLylc o acLing wiLh Lhc rcsulL LhaL acLing is now hard Lo
bc conccpLualizcd wiLhouL having rccoursc Lo rcprcscnLaLional
conccpLs, Lhcn Lhc immancnL rcworkingiLs minorizingo iL
sccms Lo bcar Lhc poLcnLial o noL only rcvcaling Lhc crror in-
hcrcnL in LhaL cquaLion buL o acLually accLing Lhc major modc
Lo Lhc dcgrcc LhaL anoLhcr modc o LhoughL bccomcs availablc.
Wc mighL cvcn likcn Lhis minorizing o McLhod acLing Lo Francis
Bacons painLcrly pracLicc o immancnLly rcworking guraLion in
ordcr Lo producc Lhc Figurc: nciLhcr Bacon nor DcNiro ouLrighL
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :,j
rcjccL rcprcscnLaLion (i.c., guraLion, narraLivc), raLhcr, Lhcy in-
Lcnsiy iLs logic, making iL conLinuously vary rom iLscl in ordcr
Lo imagc and makc accLivcly availablc Lhc scnsaLion o violcncc
as wcll as Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion.
Wc can Lhus bcgin Lo Lhink o acLingclcarly an cnormously
crucial conccpL opcraLivc in Lhc discoursc surrounding scrccn
violcncc, as wcll as liLcrary violcncc as indicaLcd in chapLcrs i
and as a undamcnLally asigniying and amoral opcraLion. As
such, iL inhcrcs in boLh proccsscs o working Lhrough and acL-
ing ouL, Lhus rcndcring Lhcsc Lwo pracLiccs as immancnL and,
conscqucnLly, morally ncuLral. YcL, dcspiLc Lhis moral ncuLraliLy,
working Lhrough and acLing ouL arc cxprcssivc o dicrcnL valucs
(in Lhc NicLzschcan scnsc): Lhcy arc ethca||y dicrcnL prcciscly
bccausc o Lhcir dicrcnL vccLors o orcc on Lhc samc sliding
scalc o inLcnsiLics. ALLcnding Lo Lhc proccss o whaL Dclcuzc and
CuaLLari call acialiLy, Lhcn, allows us Lo diagram how a mulLi-
pliciLy o orccs consLiLuLivc o Lhc acLing proccss LcrriLorializc in
spccic rcgisLcrs, Lhcrcorc giving risc Lo dicrcnL and dicring
imagcs o violcncc. Crucially, Lhc proccss o (accLivc) bccoming
I havc mappcd ouL in Lhis chapLcr works by and Lhrough rcpcLi-
Lion. DcNiros acc uncLions Lhus mcrcly as a visual markcr o a
much morc complcx proccss, onc, howcvcr, LhaL has vcry liLLlc
i anyLhing aL all Lo do wiLh mimcsis. CriLical rcsponscs Lo Lhc
qualiLy o acialiLy o DcNiros acc cannoL havc rccoursc Lo moral
judgmcnLs: or how docs onc judgc a acc` A acc is whaL iL is,
which mcans iL is noLhing buL conLinual variaLion.
26
So, whcrcas
IaCapras mimcLic vcrsion o acLing allows us mcrcly Lo rcpro-
ducc moralizing clichcs abouL scrccn violcncc, mapping ouL Lhc
spccic cccLs and accLs o DcNiros bccoming-acc o Amcrican
violcncc cnablcs us Lo say somcLhing abouL whaL violcncc docs in
Amcrican cincma, or aL Lhc vcry lcasL in DcNiros lms.
NoL coincidcnLally, Lhcrcorc, Lhis chapLcr has ocuscd mosLly
on DcNiros Scorscsc lms as wcll as Lhrcc lms ollowing Lhcir
lasL collaboraLion Lo daLc. As oLhcrs havc poinLcd ouL, iL is almosL
impossiblc Lo Lhink o DcNiro wiLhouL also Lhinking o Scorscsc,
pcrhaps Lhc grcaLcsL Amcrican dirccLor o violcncc. Tcirs is
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :8o
morc Lhan a cincma o lonclincss, as RobcrL Kolkcrs landmark
book o Lhc samc LiLlc claimsa cincma o violcncc or, bcLLcr, a
cincma o violcnL bccomings. BuL diagnosing Lhc suracc orccs
and movcmcnLs o DcNiros acLingiLs acialiLyallows us Lo
rcspond morc prcciscly Lo violcncc qua violcncc, wiLhouL having
Lo rcgrcss Lo psychoanalyLic caLcgorics o inLcrioriLy, subjccLiviLy,
or idcnLicaLion as Dougan docs, or Lo Lhc caLcgory o hisLorical
conLcxL as Kolkcr, as wcll as IcighLon CrisL in Te F|ms oj Martn
Scorsese, :,6;;. Authorshp and Context, do. O coursc, Lhc vio-
lcncc o DcNiros characLcrs, cspccially in his rsL Lhrcc or our
Scorscsc lms, is somc sorL o rcsponsc Lo whaL happcncd in Lhc
UniLcd SLaLcs in Lhc :j6os. BuL, and Lhis is an imporLanL quali-
caLion, Lhc hisLorical conLcxL docs noL Lcll us anyLhing abouL how
Lhc violcncc uncLions, how iL works, whaL iL docs. And I conLcnd
LhaL unlcss cincma sLudicsas wcll as liLcrary or culLural sLud-
ics, noL Lo mcnLion morc cmpiricisL cnLcrpriscshas a bcLLcr
grasp o Lhc answcrs Lo Lhcsc qucsLions iL will rcmain di culL or
criLicism Lo say anyLhing aL all abouL oLhcr opcraLions such as
conLcxL and causc and cccL.
UnLil criLicism will havc invcnLcd Lools Lo Lakc on violcncc on iLs
own Lcrms, iL rcally cannoL cxLrapolaLc anyLhing aL all abouL qucs-
Lions LhaL clcarly dcpcnd onand all Loo oLcn prcsumc LhaL wc
alrcady knowanswcrs Lo Lhc qucsLions o Lhc accLivc cccLiviLy
o (scrccn) violcncc. And givcn LhaL onc o Lhc main conccrns wiLh
scrccn violcncc is audicnccs ascinaLion wiLh iL, iL sccms Lo mc ab-
soluLcly ncccssary Lo aLLcnd carcully Lo Lhc proccss o acializaLion
prcciscly bccausc iL providcs a way inLo Lhc vcry locaLion (and Lhc
proccsscs by which iL comcs inLo bcing) LhaL scLs in moLion and
capLurcsdcLcrriLorializcs and (rc)LcrriLorializcsvicwcrs bc-
coming-ascinaLcd. HighlighLing violcncc as a proccss o acialiLy,
Lhus, suggcsLs LhaL our conLcmporary aLLracLion Lo cincmaLic vio-
lcncc mighL noL jusL bc onc bascd on blood and oLhcr morc ovcrLly
acLcd ouL, scnsaLional orms Lhcrco. Tis is noL Lo discounL Lhc aL-
LracLion blood has or us as wcll. BuL iL is Lo insisL, wiLh Dclcuzc and
CuaLLari, LhaL DcNiros bccomings (including his bccoming-acc)
suggcsL LhaL, quiLc possibly, Lhc acc has a grcaL uLurc, buL only i
Pecomng-vo|ent, Pecomng-LeNro :8:
iL is dcsLroycd, dismanLlcd. On Lhc road Lo Lhc asigniying and asu-
bjccLivc (Tousand P|ateaus :,:). CriLicism, iL appcars, musL bcgin
Lo aLLcnd Lo Lhc acializaLion o violcncc in ordcr Lo ovcrcomc iL.
Tis would poLcnLially cnLail an overcomng oj Ho||ywood cnema t-
se|jas 1can-Iuc Codard has rcccnLly insisLcd wiLh incrcasing can-
Lankcrousncsssincc iLs succcss rclics, Lhough noL cxclusivcly, on
iLs abiliLy Lo insLiLuLionalizc sLar imagcs Lhrough cLishizcd closc-
ups o Lhcir accs.
27
I movic violcncc is in any orm rclaLcd Lo rcal
lic violcncc, iL has morc Lo do wiLh Lhc acializcd sysLcm o Hol-
lywood iLscl Lhan wiLh vicwcrs unconLrollablc dcsircs Lo imiLaLc
and Lo acL ouL Lhcir rcprcsscd dcsircs.
In any casc, whaL Lhc cxamplc o RobcrL DcNiro as boLh a Lhc-
orisL and pracLiLioncr o violcncc suggcsLs is LhaL such violcncc is
iLscl closcly connccLcd Lo Lhc prob|ematque o pcdagogy. Pcda-
gogy, howcvcr, should bc undcrsLood lcss as a maLLcr o lcarning
rom Lhan doing wiLh. I am noL aLLcmpLing Lo dccnd cincmaLic
or cLional violcncc bccausc wc havc somcLhing Lo lcarn rom iL,
violcncc docs noL Lcach us anyLhing abouL anyLhing oLhcr Lhan
iLscl, mcaning, violcnL imagcs do noL Lcach us somcLhing abouL
somcLhing clsc prcciscly bccausc imagcd violcncc is noL primar-
ily a rcprcscnLaLional opcraLion. RaLhcr, Lhc pcdagogical qualiLy
o imagcd violcncc rcsidcs in Lhc laLLcrs orcc: in iLs soliciLaLion
o our rcsponsc-abiliLya modc o rcsponsc LhaL dcmands rcp-
cLiLion, habiLuaLion, LhaL is, masochism as Lhc pcdagogical and
cLhical impcraLivc o criLicism. I aLLcmpLcd Lo cxcmpliy Lhis in
Lhis chapLcr by sLrucLuring Lhc argumcnL around a scrics o morc
or lcss rcpcLiLivc movcmcnLsmovcmcnLs o rcpcLiLion LhaL, I
hopc, crcaLcd Lhrough Lhcir vcry rcpcLiLivcncss a ccrLain diag-
nosLic inLcnsiLy, so much so LhaL Lhcsc rcpcLiLions rccurrcnccs
wcrc Lhosc o dicrcncc iLscl: a scnsc o dicrcnL and dicring
arLiculaLions o violcncc, all o which immancnLly workcd ouL and
Lhrough Lhc cqually varying acLs o imaging violcncc pcrormcd
by DcNiro. To claboraLc on Lhis masocriLical inLcrvcnLion urLhcr,
I will Lurn in Lhc nal chapLcr Lo Lhc prob|ematque o rcsponsc-
abiliLy as a pcdagogical cLhics o violcncc raLhcr Lhan a rcprcscn-
LaLional (moral) rcsponsc Lo violcncc.
On Lhc morning o ScpLcmbcr :i, ioo:, I was schcdulcd Lo Lcach
an Amcrican sLudics mass lccLurc coursc on Violcncc in Twcn-
LicLh-CcnLury Amcrican CulLurc. Iikc mosL pcoplc, I had spcnL
Lhc prcvious day glucd Lo Lhc Lclcvision, Lrying Lo caLch as grcaL a
varicLy o covcragc o Lhc cvcnLs o j/:: as possiblc. Tc ncxL day,
aL j a.m., I approachcd my classroom wiLh a considcrablc amounL
o LrcpidaLion. I kncw rom somc collcagucs LhaL I would havc Lhc
opLion Lo canccl class, allowing sLudcnLs Lo scck gric counscling
or oLhcr mcans o nding cmoLional comorL and supporL. YcL,
Lhough I did noL know whaL cxacLly I should or would do in class
LhaL morning, somchow I clL LhaL canccling class was ncvcr an op-
Lion or mcduc in largc parL Lo Lhc subjccL maLLcr o my coursc.
ALcr all, ! was supposcd Lo bc Lhc onc who had somcLhing inLcl-
ligcnL Lo say abouL violcncc in Lhc conLcxL o Amcrican culLurc.
ALcr cxplaining Lo my sLudcnLs LhaL Lhcy would bc cxcuscd i
Lhcy prccrrcd Lo lcavc, I LcnLaLivcly dirccLcd our aLLcnLion Lo Lhc
aLLacks o Lhc prcvious day. Whilc I cxpccLcd LhaL my sLudcnLs
mighL noL bc willing Lo cngagc in a discussion o Lhc cvcnLs so
soon, I discovcrcd LhaL Lhcy wcrc only all Loo cagcr Lo addrcss Lhis
violcnL cvcnL, having Lhcmsclvcs alrcady cngagcd in hours-long
convcrsaLions wiLh Lhcir ricnds and amilics or Lhc pasL LwcnLy-
our hours. Morc prcciscly, I ound ouL LhaL Lhcy wanLcd me Lo
addrcss Lhc cvcnLs. As onc sLudcnL plainly puL iL, Lhcy wcrc hop-
ing LhaL !, Lhc Lcachcr, would Lcll them whaL Lhc cvcnLs o j/::
mcan. A biL sLunncd by Lhcir dcmand LhaL I providc Lhcm wiLh
Violence, Pedagogy, and the Rhetoric of Seeing /
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :8
Lhc mcaning o Lhc cvcnL, I had no choicc buL Lo rcusc Lo com-
ply wiLh Lhcir Louching rcqucsL, noL lcasL bccausc I did noL know
myscl whaL Lo makc o Lhc aLLacks. RaLhcr Lhan prcLcnding LhaL
I would havc a cohcrcnL cxplanaLion, I insLcad suggcsLcd LhaL as
a class wc mighL do wcll Lo Lakc scriously our collccLivc nab|ty
Lo arLiculaLcor oursclvcs as wcll as Lo onc oLhcrin cohcrcnL
ashion Lhc mcaning o j/::.
TaL is, I proddcd sLudcnLs Lo hccd our discussions o somc o
Lhc maLcrial wc had covcrcd in class up unLil Lhis momcnLma-
Lcrials LhaL in Lhcir collccLivc orcc ocrcd us various Lools or
Lhinking abouL violcncc (abouL whaL iL is, whaL iL docs, why iL hap-
pcns, cLc.), spccically, I suggcsLcd LhaL wc mighL wanL Lo Lakc sc-
riously our sharcd sense o unccrLainLy in rcsponsc Lo dcpicLions
o violcncc in LcxLs as varicd as, or insLancc, Dashicll HammcLLs
Red Harvest (:jij), William Wcllmans Pub|c Fnemy (:j:), Te
Autobography oj Ma|co|m X (:j6), Sylvia PlaLhs pocm Daddy
(:j6), or hip-hop songs by Public Fncmy and N.W.A. In rcsponsc
Lo Lhc qucsLion o whaL wc arc supposcd Lo makc o Lhcsc various
vcrsions o violcncc, morc oLcn Lhan noL our rcsponscs Lcndcd
Lo bc LhaL iL is anyLhing buL casy Lo comc Lo Lcrms wiLh Lhcm prc-
ciscly bccausc o Lhc way Lhc violcnL imagcs uncLion and arc dc-
ploycd in Lhcsc LcxLs. Tinking, or cxamplc, abouL Lhc uncLion
o violcncc in PlaLhs pocLic languagc, Malcolm Xs prosc accounL
o his bruLal lic cxpcricnccs, or Public Fncmys rcvoluLionary lyr-
ics scL Lo violcnLly graLing soundscapcs complicaLcd any aLLcmpL
Lo simply condcmn violcncc wholcsalc.
Ovcr Lhc coursc o Lhc ncxL cw class scssions, I kcpL rcLurn-
ing Lo our scnsaLion o unccrLainLy or doubL. I argucd LhaL wc
mighL vcry wcll bc on our way Lo dcvclop a producLivc rcsponsc
Lo j/:: by a rming Lhc vcry acL LhaL wc simply do noL know
whaL Lo makc o Lhc cvcnL. I urLhcr proposcd LhaL our siLuaLion
was noL so much dcncd by a lack o rcsponsc buL by Lhc acL
LhaL wc had alrcady rcspondcd: our rcsponsc, iL Lurncd ouL, was
simply cxprcsscd in and by our collccLivc scnsc o unccrLainLy.
And inLcrcsLingly, Lhc vcry cxisLcncc, lcL alonc acknowlcdgmcnL,
o Lhis lack o ccrLainLy had in iLscl, as onc sLudcnL concsscd,
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :8
Lhc cccL o somcLhing akin Lo an insLancc o violcncc. A rming
oncs scnsc o unccrLainLy, hcsiLaLing in Lhc acc o whaL appcars
Lo call orLh an unproblcmaLic judgmcnL, and dccrring a quick
cmoLional x in lighL o Lragcdy, so wc discovcrcd, is invcsLcd
wiLh rcal accLivc orcc. TaL is, wc scnscd Lhc violcncc o scn-
saLion, as wcll as Lhc scnsaLion o violcncc, noLwiLhsLanding Lhc
acL LhaL aL LhaL momcnL wc wcrc collccLivcly unablc Lo rcprcscnL
Lhc cvcnL in orm o a cohcrcnL narraLivc. WhaL Lhis parLicular
sLudcnL cxprcsscd Lo us, I laLcr camc Lo undcrsLand, is prcciscly
whaL PaLricia HighsmiLhs cLion Lcachcs us: LhaL iL is noL aL all
casy not Lo rcspond Lo violcncc wiLhouL sccking immcdiaLc rc-
coursc Lo judgmcnL (or, in morc gcncral Lcrms, caLcgorics LhaL
arc amiliar Lo us). DicrcnLly puL, not immcdiaLcly judging an
insLancc o obvious violcncc LhaL appcars Lo bc calling or noLh-
ing buL quick and dcLcrmincd judgmcnL shiLs oncs own inLcn-
sivc invcsLmcnLs rom onc rcgisLcr Lo anoLhcrLhc violcnL rush
cxpcricnccd by asscrLing a sLancc o moral righLcousncss Lo Lhc
violcnL vcrLigo cxpcricnccd by an cncounLcr wiLh oncs scl as noL
always alrcady bcing in conLrol (howcvcr illusory such a scnsc o
conLrol may acLually bc). IL was Lhc dicrcncc bcLwccn Lhcsc Lwo
lcvcls o inLcnsiLy and, pcrhaps, Lhc vcry unamiliariLy wiLh Lhc
laLLcr LhaL insLillcd in us a vcry rcal scnsc o (oncs scnsc o scl)
bcing violaLcd prcciscly bccausc Lhc cvcnL iLscl cnorccd upon us
Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion.
InsLcad o Lclling sLudcnLs whaLs whaL, Lhcn, I workcd wiLh
Lhcm Lo scc whcLhcr wc may acLually havc somcLhing Lo gain
rom dccrring such rcsponscs. (I should hasLcn Lo say, howcvcr,
LhaL wc did discuss morc sociohisLorically oricnLcd cxplanaLions
o Lhc cvcnLcxplanaLions LhaL, Lo my mind, havc considcrablc
orcc. NcvcrLhclcss, dcspiLc Lhc compclling qualiLy o such cx-
planaLions, sLudcnLs wcrc noL saLiscd wiLh Lhcm, sincc Lhcy
did noL gcL rid o Lhcir scnsc o accLivc unccrLainLy.) For a bric
whilc, aL lcasL, I clL LhaL my sLudcnLs and I managcd Lo cncounLcr
j/:: by pracLicing such a sLaLc o suspcnsc. For a bric momcnL,
LhaL is, I Lhink wc managcd Lo crcaLc a collccLivc spacc in which
wc cncounLcrcd a vcry rcal momcnL o violcncc wiLhouL rcducing
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :8
iL Lo iLs rcprcscnLaLional qualiLy or Lo a scl-hclp discoursc domi-
naLcd by cxprcssions o subjccLivc cxpcricncc.
MasochisLically suspcnding, howcvcr momcnLarily, Lhc dc-
mand or undcrsLanding pcrormaLivcly conronLcd us wiLh a
vcry rcal momcnL o violcncc: namcly, Lhc accLivc violcncc o
unccrLainLy. My poinL hcrc is o coursc LhaL Lhcsc arc Lwo in-
commcnsurablc momcnLs o violcncc: Lhc rusLraLion and pain
involvcd in noL knowing how Lo rcspond is noL aL all Lhc samc as
Lhc pain cxpcricnccd by Lhc rcal vicLims o j/:: and Lhcir ricnds
and amilics. BuL Lhc accLivc sLaLc induccd by suspcnding Lhc
momcnL o ccrLainLy consLiLuLcd an anglc o cnLry, or linc o
ighL, inLo Lhc cvcnL LhaL almosL by ncccssiLy orccd us Lo hccd
iLs spcciciLy, iLs primacysomcLhing wc accomplishcd prcciscly
by dccrring our mosL immcdiaLc dcmands and dcsircs (which, in
Lhc cnd, arc mosLly abouL us raLhcr Lhan abouL Lhc oLhcr).
By masochisLically inLcnsiying Lhc momcnL o unccrLainLy
(raLhcr Lhan rclicving iL by providing an answcr, howcvcr con-
vincing), wc wcrc collccLivcly orccd Lo givc oursclvcs ovcr Lo a
momcnL o violcncc, namcly, Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion. Far rom
bcing rcprcscnLaLivc o, lcL alonc idcnLical Lo, Lhc violcncc o
j/::, our accLivc cncounLcr wiLh Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion
cmbodicd in our scnsc o unccrLainLywas producLivc, I Lhink,
bccausc iL pcrormaLivcly cmphasizcd Lhc vcry derence o Lhcsc
Lwo orms o violcncc, whilc ncvcrLhclcss cxcmpliying how Lhcy
rclaLc Lo cach oLhcr. Tc laLLcr orm o violcncc was noLhing likc
Lhc ormcr, buL in iLs vcry dissimilariLybccausc o iLs arcprc-
scnLaLional qualiLyour masochisLically habiLuaLcd cncoun-
Lcr wiLh Lhc accLivc violcncc o unccrLainLy allowcd us Lo aim
aL Lhis oLhcr orm o violcncc. NciLhcr posiLing Lhc violcncc o
j/:: as incomprchcnsiblc nor rcducing iL Lo a rcprcscnLaLional
rcscmblancc, our pcdagogical, masocriLical cncounLcr wiLh Lhc
cvcnL was characLcrizcd by mainLaining Lhc inLcrval bcLwccn Lwo
dicrcnL dcgrccs o violcncc, which, Lhough inniLcly dicrcnL,
arc crucially rclaLcd n Lhis vcry scnsaLion o dicrcncc. In shorL,
howcvcr inLuiLivcly and wiLh howcvcr much ad hoc coaching on
my parL, wc Lricd Lo a rm our rcsponsc-abiliLyLhc acL LhaL wc
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :86
always alrcady rcspond and arc rcsponsc-ablc Lo Lhc cvcnLby
mcans o suspendng and Lhus rcconguring Lhc mosL clichcd hab-
iLs o rcsponsc, namcly, Lhc Lcndcncy Lo LcrriLorializc Lhc primacy
o Lhc objccL or cvcnL onLo Lhc planc o subjccLivc amiliariLy and
knowlcdgc.
O coursc, much o whaL I jusL dcscribcd is now lLcrcd Lhrough
LwcnLy-LwcnLy hindsighL and rcccLion on my parL. UndoubLcdly,
Lhc rcaliLy o my classroom pracLicc in Lhosc rsL Lcn days or so
aLcr j/:: did noL opcraLc on such high LhcorcLical grounds. YcL,
gcLLing my sLudcnLs Lo cxpcrimcnL wiLh Lhis noLion o suspcnsc
and Lhus rusLraLing Lhcir cxpccLaLions o Lhcmsclvcs and mc did,
I bclicvc, cxposc all o us Lo an cncounLcr wiLh violcncc on iLs own
LcrmswiLhouL having Lo cxpcricncc iLs mosL Lcrriblc mani-
csLaLions, jusL likc RobcrL DcNiro docs noL havc Lo cxpcricncc
how iL ccls Lo shooL somconc or gcLLing shoL aL himscl in or-
dcr Lo cnacL cincmaLic violcncc. I Lhis is indccd whaL Lranspircd,
Lhcn I considcr Lhis bric pcriod a pcdagogical succcss.
YcL, Lhc ragiliLy o my pcdagogical succcss bccamc clcar Lo mc
soon aLcr Ccorgc W. Bushs addrcss Lo Lhc naLiona rhcLorically
powcrul spccch in which hc ocrcd wiLh rcmarkablc clariLy and
orcc his rcsponsc Lo my sLudcnLs iniLial dcsirc Lo bc Lold whaL
Lo makc o j/::. According Lo Lhc prcsidcnL, Lhc maLLcr was, and
sLill is, quiLc simplc: j/:: is noLhing morc, and noLhing lcss, Lhan
a maLLcr o good and cvil. And whilc iL may bc casy Lo bcliLLlc such
a sccmingly simpliying rcsponsc Lo Lhc (ciLhcr mcrcly assumcd
or rcal) complcxiLy o j/::, iL is impossiblc Lo dcny Lhc rhcLori-
cal cccL o Lhis dcclaraLion, as I quickly wiLncsscd in Lhc con-
LcxL o my classroom spacc. Whcrcas a grcaL numbcr o sLudcnLs
iniLially had gonc along wiLh my aLLcmpL Lo dccr judgmcnLs
such as Lhosc cvcnLually ocrcd by Lhc orLy-Lhird prcsidcnL o
Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs, Lhis willingncss bcgan quickly Lo disappcar
oncc Lhc orcc o Bushs rhcLoric Look hold o Lhc largcr public
discoursc on j/::. Incrcasingly, Lhc vcry sLudcnLs who had ini-
Lially givcn Lhcmsclvcs ovcr Lo cxpcrimcnLing wiLh suspcnding
judgmcnL cmbraccd wiLh considcrablc convicLion jusL such judg-
mcnLs, in my vicw, Lhis changc o aLLiLudc occurrcd Lo Lhc grcaL
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :8,
dcLrimcnL o our collccLivc abiliLy Lo conLinuc our discussion o
Lhc issuc on a lcvcl o complcxiLy LhaL I bclicvc is ncccssary or
any discussion abouL violcncc i iL is Lo scrvc any purposc oLhcr
Lhan moralisLic prosclyLizing.
IcsL I cvcr LhoughL o myscl as an ubcrLcachcr, Lhc cccL o
Lhc prcsidcnLial pronounccmcnL madc iL painully clcar Lo mc o
jusL how di culL iL acLually is Lo habiLuaLc and susLain a modc o
rcsponsc Lo violcncc LhaL noL only dccrs amiliar clichcs buL, n dc-
crring, acLually arrivcs aL a momcnL o lasLing, indccd pcrpcLual,
LransormaLion o our vcry abiliLy Lo rcspond Lo violcncc. 1usL as
HighsmiLh musL havc sLrugglcd noL only wiLh dcvcloping buL also
susLaining a modc o rcsponsc Lo violcncc LhaL docs noL immcdi-
aLcly opcraLc on Lhc planc o judgmcnL, so I cxpcricnccd rsLhand
on a pcdagogical lcvcl how di culL iL is Lo accL oLhcrs wiLh a sLylc
o rcsponsc Lo violcncc LhaL violaLcs habiLual or common scnsc
modcs o rcsponsc LhaL wc havc inLcrnalizcd as a rcsulL o insLiLu-
Lional proccsscs. O coursc, I am noL suggcsLing LhaL my sLudcnLs
ailcd whcrc I succccdcd, doing so would prcsupposc LhaL Lhcrc is a
righL way o rcsponding, which, in Lurn, prcsupposcs Lhc primacy
o Lhc vcry rcprcscnLaLional rcgimc LhaL I havc aLLcmpLcd Lo slow
down LhroughouL Lhis projccL. QuiLc obviously, a mulLipliciLy o
orccs accLs Lhc ways wc rcspond, which is why rcsponsc is always
a qucsLion o singulariLy. My poinL hcrc is simply Lo acknowlcdgc
Lhc di culLy o not surrcndcring Lo Lhc rhcLorical scducLion o Lhc
languagc o judgmcnL LhaL wc arc all cxposcd Lo all Lhc Limc. Hcncc,
Lo mc Lhc pcdagogical Lask is Lo nd ways o suspcnding Lhc dcsirc
Lo givc in Lo LhaL scducLion, howcvcr bricy, as a mcans Lo cxpcri-
mcnL wiLh whaL happcns whcn Lhc clichcs o rcsponsibiliLy arc rc-
congurcd rom wiLhin Lhc dcmand LhaL onc musL judgc an cvcnL
such as j/:: as response-ab|ty (cLhics).
+
Tc purposc o Lhis pcrsonal narraLivc was noL Lo soliciL sympa-
Lhy rom my rcadcrs or Lhc prcdicamcnL I accd, nor did I mcan
Lo prcscnL myscl as somconc who was propcrly humblcd and
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :88
Lhus divcsLcd o any noLion LhaL I may own all Lhc soluLions Lo Lhc
prob|ematque o violcncc. For cvcn i I had oncc clL LhaL I pos-
scsscd su cicnL answcrs, Lhc cxpcricncc o Lcaching Lhis coursc
madc iL pcrccLly clcari I had cvcr bccn in doubLLhaL having
Lhc answcrs docs by no mcans guaranLcc LhaL anyonc clsc will bc
accLcd by Lhcm, jusL likc Caspars propricLary vcrsion o cLhics
in Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs M||ers Crossng was anyLhing buL a guaran-
Lcc or kccping violcncc aL bay.
No, Lhc purposc o Lhis bric narraLivc was Lo raisc a qucsLion
LhaL surcly should conccrn Lhosc o us who (sLill) Lcach liLcraLurc
and lma qucsLion LhaL is cqually prcssing Loday as iL was in
Lhc immcdiaLc aLcrmaLh o j/::. In iLs mosL basic orm, Lhis
qucsLion is simply abouL Lhc valuc o Lcaching liLcraLurc and lm.
AL a Limc whcn our collccLivc (un)consciousncss undcrsLandably
prcoccupics iLscl wiLh whaL aL lcasL appear Lo bc cvcnLs o cra-dc-
ning proporLions, iL sccms Lo mc LhaL onc could bc cxcuscd or
wondcring how (Lhc Lcaching o) liLcraLurc and lm could sLill bc
rclcvanL Lo cvcnLs LhaL sccm Lo havc liLLlc i anyLhing Lo do wiLh
Lhc wriLing, rcading, vicwing, and producing o imagcs. ScpLcm-
bcr ::, ioo:, onc mighL bc inclincd Lo arguc, cxposcd lm and
liLcraLurc classcs as highly qucsLionablc dcploymcnLs o sociocul-
Lural cncrgics. Discussions o auLhorial or dirccLorial inLcnLions,
characLcrs psychology, LcxLs rcprcscnLaLional vcraciLy, and Lhc
always popular dcbaLcs abouL Lhc mcaning o iL allLhcsc and
many oLhcr Lypical acadcmic discussion oci may appcar now as,
aL bcsL, sooLhing divcrsions rom Lhc rcaliLics o lic, aL worsL,
Lcaching liLcraLurc or lm in a Limc o crisis may sccm likc Lhc
scl-indulgcnL privilcgc o an inLcllccLual cliLc whosc pracLiccs
bcar liLLlc rclcvancc or Lhc rcal world. Iikcwisc, insLiLuLionally
rcinorccd claims or Lhc subvcrsivc orcc o Lhis novcl, LhaL lm,
or Lhc criLical rcadings Lhcmsclvcs incrcasingly assumc Lhc shapc
o dcludcd solipsisms madc by Lhosc wishing Lhcir pracLiccs had
a morc Langiblc impacL on Lhc world. And Lhcrc appcars Lo bc no
obvious rcason or cxcluding Lhis prcscnL sLudyonc LhaL has o-
cuscd only on liLcrary and cincmaLic LcxLsrom Lhis suspicion
o irrclcvancc. PuL dicrcnLly, aLcr j/:: onc mighL arguc LhaL
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :8j
sLudcnLs and Lcachcrsindccd, all ciLizcnswould bc bcLLcr o
sLudying hisLory and poliLical cconomy raLhcr Lhan rcading c-
Lion or waLching movics.
l
Or, Lo paraphrasc onc o my sLudcnLs
during Lhc immcdiaLc aLcrmaLh o j/::, why boLhcr wiLh Lhc c-
Lional whcn rcaliLy iLscl providcs morc Lhan cnough challcngcs`
RaLhcr Lhan cngaging imaginary violcncc, should a sLudy such as
Lhis onc noL conccrn iLscl wiLh Lhc causcs and cccLs o rcal-
world violcncc such as, or insLancc, spousal abusc, rapc, murdcr,
Lcrrorism, or war`
Pcrhaps.
My hcsiLaLion hcrc is mcanL Lo acknowlcdgc Lhc obvious im-
porLancc o analyzing, or insLancc, Lhc hisLorical Lransorma-
Lions Islamic and WcsLcrn culLurcs havc undcrgonc in rcsponsc
Lo capiLalisL proccsscs LhaL havc by now all buL mappcd Lhcm-
sclvcs onLo Lhc cnLirc carLh. NcvcrLhclcss, I wanL Lo arguc jor
Lhc spacc o lm and liLcraLurc bccausc I Lhink Lhcy bcar Lhc
pedagogca| poLcnLial or acLivaLing an ethca| modc o cncoun-
Lcr wiLh violcncc. In ordcr Lo show LhaL Lhc spacc o liLcraLurc
and lm indccd providcs a producLivc linkagc Lo Lhc qucsLion o
rcal-world violcncc, I would likc Lo concludc Lhis sLudy wiLh an
cxLcndcd discussion o onc spccic wriLcrly rcsponsc Lo Lhc vio-
lcncc o j/::: Don DcIillos cssay In Lhc Ruins o Lhc FuLurc,
which appcarcd in Harpers Magazne in Dcccmbcr ioo:. WhaL I
am going Lo suggcsL in Lhcsc rcmaining pagcs, Lhcn, pcrLains Lo
Lhc qucsLion o how a pcdagogical cngagcmcnL wiLh (conLcmpo-
rary) imagc cvcnLs o violcncc mighL pcrormaLivcly provokc an
cncounLcr wiLh Lhc unolding o Lhc conscqucnccs o j/:: LhaL
hccds Lhc cvcnLs irrcduciblc singulariLy (Baudrillard, SpiriL
o Tcrrorism), somcLhing LhaL can bc argucd Lo bc conspicu-
ously abscnL rom mosL cngagcmcnLs wiLh Lhis cvcnL. Tc rolc
o cngaging Lhc qucsLions o how imagcs work and whaL Lhcy
do, I shall arguc, rcquircs now, morc Lhan cvcr, an aesthetc
sLancc, Lo usc NicLzschcs phrasc (TruLh and Iying ii, my
cmphasis).
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :jo
In the Ruins of the Event: Suspension No.
In Lhc rsL cw monLhs aLcr j/::, Harpers Magazne askcd Don
DcIillo Lo wriLc an cssay on Lhc LcrrorisL aLLack. TaL Harpers
askcd Lhc auLhor o novcls such as P|ayers (:j,,), whte Nose
(:j8), Lbra (:j88), or Mao !! (:jj:) is hardly accidcnLal, or
Lcrrorism has playcd an imporLanL parL in ncarly cvcry novcl
[hc] has wriLLcn Lo daLc (Allcn). Indccd, Lcrror, likc an air-
bornc Loxic cvcnL, oaLs across Lhc dcccpLivcly shiny suraccs
o DcIillos cLion (Scanlan iij) and oLcn manicsLs iLscl in
his cxaminaLion o Lhc wriLcr-LcrrorisL rclaLionship.
2
Tc appcar-
ancc o DcIillos cssay in Lhc Dcccmbcr issuc madc iL onc o Lhc
carlicsL nonjournalisLic, ycL analyLical rcsponscs givcn Lo Lhc
cvcnLs o ScpLcmbcr ::, ioo:. Howcvcr, whaL makcs Lhc cssay
Lruly rcmarkablc is noL mcrcly whaL iL says abouL j/:: buL how,
n respondng to Lhc cvcnL, iL simulLancously puLs Lhc noLion o
rcsponsc aL sLakc. RcsisLing Lhc dcmand Lo spcak wiLh moral clar-
iLy and dcclarc whaL Lhc cvcnL mcans, his cssay insLcad shows
LhaL rcsponsc is always a qucsLion o rcsponsc-abiliLy, or Lhc cLhi-
cal how. DcIillo sLylisLically congurcs rcsponsc-abiliLy as always
and ncccssarily a qucsLion o how raLhcr Lhan whaL, (c)valuaLion
raLhcr Lhan rcprcscnLaLion, Lhc powcr o Lhc alsc raLhcr Lhan
Lhc rcgimc o LruLh. WhaL DcIillos rcsponsc Lhus Lcachcs us
iLs mosL signicanL inLcrvcnLion in Lhc posL-j/:: discourscis
LhaL prcscnL-day aLLcmpLs Lo imagc an (LraumaLic) cvcnLs scnsc
cannoL possibly opcraLc cxclusivcly on Lhc lcvcl o iLs conLcnL
(Lhc rcprcscnLaLional whaL) wiLhouL aLLcnding Lo Lhc rhetorca|
modc o prcscnLaLion, Lhc cLhical how. Or raLhcr, whaL DcIillo
shows, and whaL I will claboraLc on, is LhaL whaL an cvcnL mcans
is always alrcady shoL Lhrough wiLh how iL appcars. I anyLhing, iL
is Lhis vcry insighL LhaL I hopc Lo havc pcrormcd and illusLraLcd
LhroughouL Lhis masocriLical sLudy whcn cxamining how spccic
LcxLs Lhcmsclvcs conronL Lhc prob|ematque o violcncc and how
Lo rcspond Lo iLs various dcgrccs o inLcnsiLy.
DcIillos sLylc o rcsponsc docs noL occur in a vacuum, how-
cvcr. RaLhcr, his narraLivc cncounLcr wiLh j/:: acLualizcs a modc
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j:
o seeng Lhc world LhaL Lhc Frcnch cincasLc Andrc Bazin oncc con-
ccpLualizcd in Lcrms o an onLophcnomcnological Lhcory o cin-
cma. Bazin advocaLcs a lm acsLhcLic mainly rclying on Lhc long
shoL, dccp ocus cincmaLography characLcrisLic o Lhc ncorcal-
isL misc-cn-sccnc. CounLcring carlicr rcalisms, cspccially Scrgci
FiscnsLcins inucnLial Lhcory o dialccLical monLagc, as making
rcaliLy Lhc scrvanL o somc a priori poinL o vicw, Bazin avors a
cincmaLic acsLhcLic sLancc Loward rcaliLy LhaL arLully rcsponds Lo
Lhc world imagc in iLs wholcncss (i:6, j,).
3
Tc cvcnLs wholc-
ncss, howcvcr, is noL posiLcd as a LransccndcnL caLcgory, insLcad,
Lhc cincmaLic sLancc mobilizcd by, or insLancc, Iuchino VisconLi,
RobcrLo Rosscllini, or ViLLorio Dc Sica dividc[s] Lhc cvcnL up inLo
sLill smallcr cvcnLs and Lhcsc inLo cvcnLs smallcr sLill, Lo Lhc cx-
Lrcmc |mts o our capaciLy Lo perceve Lhcm in Limc (Bazin i:8:,
my cmphascs). For Bazin, pcrccpLion iLscl is up or grabs, sincc
his Lhcory o cincmaas a Lhcory o visionulLimaLcly conccrns
Lhc vcry limiLs o pcrccpLion as a conccpL. Whcrcas phcnomcnol-
ogy bcgins and cnds wiLh concciving Lhc subjccL as Lhc locus
or and horizon o pcrccpLion, Bazin Lhcorizcs Lhc vcry limiL
aL which Lhc pcrccpLivc acL LransmuLcs inLo an acL o seenga
modc o rcsponsc Lo Lhc world LhaL, in Bazins hands, puLs Lhc
pcrcciving subjccL aL sLakc.
4
Seeng, in oLhcr words, is lcss a maL-
Lcr o (in)corrccL pcrccpLion Lhan a qucsLion o how subjccLs can
rcspond Lo cvcnLs.
Bazin suggcsLs LhaL modcs o sccing inhcrc in cvcnLs raLhcr
Lhan originaLc in a pcrcciving subjccL. Howcvcr, inhcring docs noL
connoLc a prcviously cxisLing auLhcnLiciLy o Lhc cvcnL so much as
posiL poinL o vicw as a rclaLion o orcc, as an cccL o Lhc cvcnLs
acLualizaLion. As Clairc Colcbrook argucs, any spccic poinL o
vicw is noL a poinL o vicw ovcrlooking somc objccL world, buL a
prolicraLion o poinLs, a prc-pcrsonal cld o singulariLics (:::).
Shc wriLcs LhaL, conscqucnLly, pcrspccLivc and poinL o vicw arc
cnablcd by sLylc. SLylc is noL Lhc cxprcssion o Lhc human poinL
o vicw, Lhc human is an cccL o a ccrLain sLylc (::). For Ba-
zin, Lhc cvcnL docs noL conLain a LruLh Lo bc uncovcrcd or rccov-
crcd. Hcncc, absLracLing clichcs rom Lhc cvcnL Lo push iL Lo iLs
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :ji
cxLrcmc limiLs ncccssarily prcccdcs Lhc nccd or sLrucLuring im-
agcs Lhrough dialccLical monLagc proccsscs. Whcrcas FiscnsLcin
assumcs an a priori cmpLincss o Lhc scrccn LhaL musL bc llcd
wiLh dialccLically ordcrcd imagcs arrangcd rom a prccxisLing
human vanLagc poinL, Bazins cincma LhoughL implics LhaL Lhc
scrccn vrtua||y is llcd wiLh imagcs cvcn bcorc Lhc lm projccLor
plays whaL Lhc camcras cyc has arLully capLurcd. Tc ncorcalisL
misc-cn-sccncs Lask is, Lhcrcorc, Lo absLracL imagcs sLylisLically
rom Lhc ullncss o Lhc scrccn.
5
Tis misc-cn-sccnc Lhus rcndcrs
visiblc Lhc cvcnL as noLhing buL a conjuncLion o singular vicw-
poinLs prcccding Lhc objccLs Lo bc vicwcd.
DialccLical monLagc cannoL hclp buL bcgin wiLh subordinaLing
Lhc cvcnL Lo a subjccLs poinL o vicwrsL Lo Lhc dirccLors and
Lhcn Lo Lhc subjccLcd vicwcrs. In conLrasL, Lhc ncorcalisL visual
proccss o absLracLing imagcs acLualizcs rom Lhc cvcnL modcs o
sccing LhaL Lakc Lhc laLLcr clscwhcrc: seeng as a rhcLorical acLual-
izaLion o uLuriLy raLhcr Lhan a pcrccpLivc capLuring o an cvcnLs
inhcrcnL auLhcnLiciLy, which is Lhcn ocrcd or judgmcnL, seeng
as an cxpcrimcnLal modcnoL as crcaLivc discovcry o whaL is
buL as an cLhical producLion o Lhc ycL Lo comc.
InsLcad o Lhc Lhcsis-drivcn modc o inducing conscious pcr-
ccpLion Lhrough dialccLical monLagc, DcIillo, as wc will scc, mo-
bilizcs a ncorcalisL acsLhcLic LhaL Bazin calls a phcnomcnology
(i:6), which holds morc an onLological posiLion Lhan an acs-
LhcLic onc (i:66). Tc dicrcnLiaLcd modcs o sccing consLiLuLc
a subjccLs poinL o vicw or modc o cxpcricncc. Tus, an acsLhcLic
sLancc LhaL rcsponds Lo Lhc cvcnL a subjccL cncounLcrs musL bc
considcrcd rsL and orcmosL onLological in naLurc. YcL, aL Lhc
hcarL o Bazins answcr Lo Lhc qucsLion WhaL is cincma` lics Lhc
way Lhis onLology is engagedLhc way iL is (madc Lo bc) vicwcd
Lhrough arLicc. For Bazin, Lhc onLology o sccing consisLs o
myriad dicrcnL modcs o sccing. Tcsc modcs, or orcc rcla-
Lions, conLinually bccomc imagc cvcnLs LhaL cvcnLually manicsL
Lhcmsclvcs Lhrough how spccic subjccLcd vicwcrs acLualizc
(arc madc Lo) sccLhcm. Hcncc, i cincma dcsircs Lo cncounLcr
rcaliLy, iL has no choicc buL Lo bcgin rom wiLhin Lhc acLs o scc-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j
ing. Bazin can Lhcrcorc claim LhaL Lhc ncorcalisL acsLhcLic sLancc
knows only immancncc (6). Tis acsLhcLic sLancc bcgins and
cnds in Lhc middlc, posiLions Lhc acL o vicwing amidsL Lhc cvcnLs
orcc rclaLions, and, lcaving Lhc acL Lhcrc, Lrics Lo habiLuaLc Lhc
subjccL Lo cncounLcring Lhc middlc so LhaL Lhc subjccL bccomcs
ablc Lo see Lhc worldiLscl always a bccoming-middlcas iL is
bcorc judging iL.
In the Ruins of Epistemology: Suspension No.
To suspcnd judgmcnL o Lhc world and Lo rcsLorc our bclic in
Lhis world, as Dclcuzc (Cnema i :,i), cvoking Bazin, oncc dc-
mandcdLhis cLhical rccipc ulLimaLcly gcncraLcs Lhc paradox
o a cincmaLic rcalism LhaL is prooundly acsLhcLic.
6
Producing
rcalism in ordcr Lo rcndcr visiblc Lhc worlds onLological wholc-
ncss wiLhouL immcdiaLcly capLuring Lhc world on Lhc planc o
judgmcnL can only bc achicvcd in onc wayLhrough arLicc
(Bazin i:i6). Cincma musL aesthetca||y cxLracL rom Lhc world
iLs mosL consLiLuLivc maLcrial proccsscsacLs o sccing. Tc no-
Lion o masochisLic rcczing mighL bcsL dcscribc Lhis proccss o
cxLracLing and is pcrhaps mosL amously rcndcrcd aL Lhc cnd o
Francois TruauLs Te Four Hundred P|ows (:jj), whcn Lhc sud-
dcn zoom-in-on-rcczc-ramc imagc o Lhc lms youLhul pro-
LagonisL, AnLoinc (1can Picrrc Icaud), lucidly, indccd clinically,
puLs inLo qucsLioning, masocriLical suspcnsc LhaL which hc, as
wcll as Lhc vicwcr, sccs or has sccn.
7
Tc abscncc o such an acsLhcLic sLancccongurcd in and
as an cccL o such a proccss o masochisLic rcczingpcrhaps
cxplains why ,/::, Lhc documcnLary by Lhc Frcnch broLhcrs
1ulcs and Ccdcon NaudcL, whilc haunLing in iLs own righL, comcs
across as bcing Lhcrc almosL Loo much, in Lhc scnsc LhaL Lhc
lms imagcs capLurc Lhc momcnL o Lcrror so wcll as Lo orcclosc
rcsponsc-abiliLy LhaL docs noL bcgin and cnd wiLh whaL Lhc vicw-
ing subjccL alrcady knows. Tc lm ocrs imagcs or our pcrccp-
Lion LhaL do noL urLhcr our capaciLy Lo scc Lhc cvcnL in a manncr
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j
dicrcnL rom Lhc ways wc havc pcrccivcd iL bcorc. AL bcsLand
Lhis is no small accomplishmcnLLhc documcnLary inLcnsics
cxisLing cclings o horror as wc hcar alling bodics impacL Lhc
ground wiLh a aLal Lhump. UlLimaLcly, howcvcr, Lhc lm sccms
Lo rcinorcc raLhcr Lhan Lransorm, pcrhaps bccausc iL docs noL
risk Lhc qucsLion o seeng iLscl. IL docs noL scc LhaL, as Dclcuzc
puLs iL, Lhc dicrcncc n Lhc origin docs noL appcar at Lhc ori-
gincxccpL pcrhaps Lo a parLicularly pracLiccd cyc, Lhc cyc which
sccs rom aar, Lhc cyc o Lhc ar-sighLcd, Lhc cyc o Lhc gcncalo-
gisL (Netzsche and Ph|osophy ).
In conLrasL, DcIillos wriLcrly cyc conccrns iLscl wiLh Lhcsc
rhcLorical acLs o imaging and sccing. Indccd, DcIillos liLcrary
cyc, in iLs aLLcnLivcncss Lo Lhc qucsLion o imaging, acLualizcs Lhc
ncorcalisL conccpLion o sccing as arLiculaLcd by Bazin, Lhus cru-
cially Lransorming (Lhc imagc o) Lhc cvcnL j/::.
S
Always Lhc
asLuLc obscrvcr o conLcmporary narraLivc possibiliLics and nc-
ccssiLics, DcIillo shows LhaL liLcrary languagc docs noL rcmain
unaccLcd by Lhc languagc o visualiLy LhaL has cncroachcd upon
Lhc public LhroughouL Lhc LwcnLicLh ccnLury.
0
Crucially, howcvcr,
DcIillounlikc counLlcss commcnLaLors who argucd LhaL j/::
was likc a Hollywood disasLcr ickdocs noL havc rccoursc Lo
Lhc languagc o imagcs as a similc or mcLaphor. InsLcad, imaging
proccsscs propcl his narraLivc Lo analyzc [rcaliLy] in a cincmaLic
way (Virilio, war and Cnema 6), alLhough his mcdium o cx-
prcssion rcmains languagc.
l0
Whilc his rcccLions on Lcrror and
loss in Lhc shadow o ScpLcmbcr, as Lhc cssays subLiLlc sLaLcs,
alLcrnaLc in cighL sccLions bcLwccn morc absLracL, pcrhaps morc
propcrly cssayisLic musings and dcLailcd, almosL imprcssionis-
Lic (imaginary`) lisLs o sLorics cmcrging rom Lhc aLLack on Lhc
World Tradc CcnLcr, DcIillos languagc pcrorms Lhc mcandcring
look o Lhc ncorcalisL camcra cyc, ollowing no narraLivc in par-
Licular, ycL many aL oncc, Lhus inLcnsiying Lhc vcry cxpcricncc
and conccpL o narraLivc as a modc o seeng.
Unlikc Lhc dialccLical dcsirc Lo pcrccivcor capLurcrcal-
iLy rcprcscnLaLionally Lo alLcr iL, DcIillos narraLivc sLraLcgy in-
Lcrvcncs in Lhc world by seeng, or rhcLorically (rc)invcnLing, iL,
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j
which is why his cncounLcr wiLh j/:: has noLhing Lo do wiLh a
lack o Lhc Rcal, ciLhcr in Lhc KanLian or Iacanian scnsc.
ll
Tc
cssay invcnLs a vicw o rcaliLy LhaL inviLcs rcadcrs Lo shapc and
rcshapc rcaliLy inLo dicrcnL imprcssions o cqual valuc, which
combinc Lo a spcculaLivc scrics: Lhis happcncd and Lhis and Lhis
and . . .
l2
Tus, Lhc cssay aLLcmpLs rhcLorically Lo posiLion Lhc
rcadcrs so LhaL Lhcy bccomc capablc o seeng LhaL which cannoL
bc pcrccivcd in Lhc cvcnLs cndlcss Lclcviscd imagcsimagcs LhaL
Lhrough Lhcir prolicraLions rsL inLcnsicd Lhc publics acc-
Livc rcsponscs Lo a poinL o uLLcr conusion (WhaL happcncd`
Why` WhaL am I supposcd Lo Lhink`) bcorc Lhis accL ound
iLscl LcrriLorializcd onLo Lhc planc o judgmcnL, o corrccL pcr-
ccpLion (Ccorgc W. Bushs Lhc cvil oncs). OpcraLing alongsidc
and wiLhin Lclcvisions powcrul pcrccpLual apparaLus o capLurc
in ordcr Lo muLaLc iLs mosL mind-numbing and moralizing c-
ccLs, DcIillos cssay insLcad allows Lhc cvcnL Lo cmcrgc wiLh a
crysLallinc ambiguiLy, Lo usc a phrasc Iawrcncc Wcschlcr (qLd.
in Taylor ) oncc ascribcd Lo ArL Spicgclmans graphic novcl Maus
(:j86)also an aLLcmpL Lo rcndcr Lhc singulariLy o an irrcduc-
iblc cvcnL.
l3
DcIillos cssay lucidly rcsponds Lo Lhc mood o j/::
and Lo iLs aLcrmaLhwiLhouL rcducing iL Lo a simplc cxplanaLion
or mcaningby mobilizing seeng as a narraLivc modc LhaL works
rom wiLhin Lhc imagc cvcnL insLcad o imposing iLscl on iL. YcL,
Lhc cssay docs noL avoid monLagc, raLhcr, iLs splicing LogcLhcr o
various imagcs, sLorics, and sLylcs o narraLing Lhc cvcnL providcs
an arLicial mcans Lo scrializc Lhc onLological cvcnLncss o j/::.
In so doing, Lhc cssay shiLs rom Lhc cpisLcmological rcgisLcr o
Lhc posL-j/:: public discoursc Lo an cLhico-onLological rcgisLcr
LhaL primarily addrcsscs how an cvcnL dcmands iLs own modc o
rcsponsc.
A compclling pcdagogical conscqucncc or Lcachcrs o liLcrary
and cincmaLic imagcs, DcIillos cssay posiLs alongsidc all oLhcr
ruins Lhc ruins o a vcrsion o liLcrary and lm sLudics LhaL con-
Linucs Lo prcLcnd LhaL iL can proLccL iLscl rom Lhc world. I am
Lhinking hcrc, or insLancc, o ValcnLinc Cunninghams Readng
ajter Teory in which Lhc auLhor gocs Lo baL or Lhc primacy o
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j6
LcxLs ovcr all Lhcorizing abouL Lhcm bccausc Lhcory docs vio-
lcncc Lo Lhc mcanings o LcxLs (88). Whilc Cunninghams argu-
mcnL againsL Lhc anyLhing gocs (8i) pracLicc o Lhcory is wcll
Lakcn, his soluLiontactully Lo proLccL Lhc meanngs prcscnL in a
LcxL by hccding Lhc prcscncc, Lhc righLs, Lhc nccds o Lhc human
subjccLs, in LcxLs, in Lhc originaLions o LcxLs, in Lhc rcccpLion
o LcxLs (:i)sLrikcs mc as sympLomaLic o Lhc vcry problcm
rom which liLcrary and lm sLudics sucrs Lo bcgin wiLh: namcly,
Lhc ongoing conguraLion o signalcLic maLcrial as wcll as rcading
and vicwing pracLiccs in Lcrms o signicaLion, rcprcscnLaLion,
and mcaning. IL is surcly no coincidcncc LhaL his discussion o Lhc
hisLory o Lhcory all buL ignorcs Dclcuzc, Lhc onc posL-sLrucLural-
isL Lhinkcr who cannoL aL all bc said Lo conccivc o languagc and
imagcs rcprcscnLaLionally.
l4
ConcurrcnL Lo posiLing Lhc ruins o Lhis Lypc o criLical ap-
proach, DcIillos cssay also insisLs LhaL social consLrucLivism docs
noL su cc as an cLhical modc o cncounLcring imagcs, sincc Lo
asscrL LhaL cvcryLhing is socially consLrucLcd compriscs mcrcly
onc morc insLancc o dcclaring Lhc whaLncss o an cvcnL. (Onc
mighL also poinL ouL LhaL social consLrucLivism is iLscl socially
consLrucLcd, somcLhing LhaL is rcqucnLly ovcrlookcd by propo-
ncnLs o social consLrucLivism.) Dcploying imagcs as rcsponsc-
ablc Lo (raLhcr Lhan or) Lhc world, DcIillos cssay lcans hard on
KaLhy Ackcrs argumcnL LhaL to wrte should bc to wrte the wor|d
and, simulLancously, to engage the wor|d: insLcad o proLccLing
iLscl rom iLs rcsponsibiliLy Lo Lhc world or mcrcly showing how
somcLhing is socially consLrucLcd, In Lhc Ruins o Lhc FuLurc
rcndcrs Lhc cvcnL otherwse, subjuncLivclymasocriLically
submiLLing microvcrsions o Lhc cvcnL wiLhouL insisLing on Lhcir
ulLimaLc vcraciLy. Tis rcndcring oLhcrwisc wiLh iLs aLLcnding di-
agnosLic rhyLhms and movcmcnLs cchocs Lhosc o HighsmiLhs
carccr-long aLLcmpL aL gcLLing aL Lhc rclaLion bcLwccn judgmcnL
and violcncc Lhrough rcpcaLcdly LcsLing LhaL rclaLion in a scrics
o microcascs, DcIillos rcndcring oLhcrwisc also rcsonaLcs wiLh
DcNiros acLorly pracLicc LhaL is characLcrizcd by a conLinual
variaLion o his own cnacLmcnLs o scrccn violcncc as a mcans
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j,
Lo rclcasc Lhc mulLiplc orccs pcrmcaLing boLh Lhc scnsaLion o
violcncc and Lhc violcncc o scnsaLion. All Lhcsc cxamplcs pcr-
orm whaL I havc bccn calling masocriLicismsomcLhing LhaL I
Loo havc bccn Lrying Lo pracLicc, LhroughouL Lhis book as wcll as
in Lhis chapLcr, wiLh iLs digrcssions and LcnLaLivc corLs Lo ap-
proximaLc, Lo approach Lhc cvcnL o j/:: Lhrough DcIillos cs-
sayisLic rcsponsc Lo iL.
In the Ruins of Point of View: Suspending Plots
Pcrhaps Lhc mosL imporLanL aspccL o DcIillos cngagcmcnL wiLh
j/:: is his alLcrnaLing bcLwccn various narraLivc poinLs o vicw.
Indccd, Lhc cssay is ovcrLly prcoccupicd wiLh Lhc qucsLion o how
Lo narraLc and Lhus see Lhc cvcnL iLscl. NoLc, or insLancc, his
counLlcss uscs o narraLivc, sLory, and counLcr-narraLivc
whcn naming Lhc cvcnL and Lhc possibiliLy o rcsponding Lo iL.
DcIillos cssay cvcn invokcs Lhc nccd or us Lo rcspond Lo Lhc
cvcnL by acLivcly rcwriLing iL. Tc cold war narraLivc avorcd by
Lhc Bush adminisLraLion cnds in Lhc rubblc, and iL is lcL Lo us Lo
crcaLc Lhc counLcr-narraLivc (), DcIillo wriLcs, prcacing Lhc
random, ccLing imprcssions hc Lhcn procccds Lo lisL: Tcrc arc
a hundrcd Lhousand sLorics crisscrossing Ncw York, WashingLon,
and Lhc world. Whcrc wc wcrc, whom wc know, whaL wcvc sccn
or hcard. Tcrc arc Lhc docLors appoinLmcnLs LhaL savcd livcs,
Lhc ccll phoncs LhaL wcrc uscd Lo rcporL Lhc hijackings. SLorics
gcncraLing oLhcrs and pcoplc running norLh ouL o Lhc rumbling
smokc and ash. Mcn running in suiLs and Lics, womcn whod losL
Lhcir shocs, cops running rom Lhc skydivc o all LhaL Lowcring
sLccl (). BuL iL is noL cnough simply Lo givc voicc Lo Lhc sLo-
rics o hcroism and cncounLcrs wiLh drcad (), Lhough Lhcy do
orm parL o Lhc proccss o crcaLing a counLcr-narraLivc: Tcsc
arc among Lhc smallcr objccLs and morc marginal sLorics in Lhc
siLcd ruins o Lhc day. Wc nccd Lhcm, cvcn Lhc common Lools o
Lhc LcrrorisLs, Lo scL againsL Lhc massivc spccLaclc LhaL conLin-
ucs Lo sccm unmanagcablc, Loo powcrul a Lhing Lo scL inLo our
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :j8
ramc o pracLiccd rcsponsc (), or whaL hc laLcr calls slanL o
our pcrccpLions (j). Tc ulLimaLc Lask is prcciscly Lo alLcr our
ramc o pracLiccd rcsponsc. For only by doing so, Lhc cssay sug-
gcsLs, do wc sLand a chancc o cncounLcring j/:: as a singular
cvcnL wiLhouL having rccoursc Lo whaL FoucaulL and Dclcuzc dub
Lhc indigniLy o spcaking or oLhcrs (InLcllccLuals and Powcr
ioj). Spcaking or oLhcrs Loo oLcn scrvcs as a disguisc or
spcaking oncs own poinL o vicw, Lhus cradicaLing LhaL which is
oLhcr. TaL is, DcIillos sLancc hcrc suggcsLs Lhc ncccssiLy o al-
Lcring our capaciLy Lo rcspond.
Tc cssay Lrics masocriLically Lo inducc in Lhc rcadcr a ccrLain
kind o rcsponsc-abiliLy Lhrough rhcLorically inLcnsiying iLs nar-
raLivc rhyLhm. IL alLcrnaLcs bcLwccn whaL appcars Lo bc a dia-
lccLical movcmcnL o imprcssionisLic closc-ups o Lhc cvcnL and
disLanccd, inLcllccLual analyscs o whaL happcncdbuL wiLhouL
cvcr arriving aL a rcsoluLion o Lhis movcmcnL. I Lhc rhyLhm o
DcIillos cssay can bc dcscribcd as dialccLical, Lhcn only in Lhc
scnsc o Tcodor Adornos Negatve La|ectcs, which procccds
immancnLly () or chiasmically, casLing cvcnL and rcsponsc as
immancnL Lo cach oLhcr.
l5
In shorL, DcIillos cssay dcploys a sLylc
o rcsponscan cLhic o movcmcnLLhaL appcars Lo cmcrgc
rom wiLhin Lhc rubblc o imagcs circulaLing around Lhc cvcnLs
o j/::: Lhis, Lhcn Lhis, Lhcn Lhis, then . . . , scrializing iLscl cvcr
urLhcr inLo Lhc cvcnLs maLcrialiLy.
Tus, Lhc cssay uncLions as a LransormaLivc rclay LhaL pro-
vokcs rcsponscs Lo Lhc cvcnL by mobilizing a spccic acsLhcLic
sLancc LhaL docs noL prcLcnd Lo do jusLicc Lo iLcvcn i Lhc
cvcnL is (ncccssarily) availablc or a discoursc o jusLicc. Tc cs-
say prcscnLs mcrcly an asigniying scrics o imagcs raLhcr Lhan a
scrics o jusL, or moral, imagcs, Lo paraphrasc 1can-Iuc Codard,
a cincmaLic sccr inucnccd by Bazin. TaL is, as Dclcuzc glosscs
Codards slogan Pas unc imagc jusLc, jusLc unc imagc, a jusL
imagc is an imagc LhaL cxacLly corrcsponds Lo whaL iL is Lakcn
Lo rcprcscnL, buL i wc Lakc imagcs as jusL [a scrics o] imagcs,
wc scc Lhcm prcciscly as imagcs, raLhcr Lhan corrccL or incorrccL
rcprcscnLaLions o anyLhing (Negotatons :jon:). In Lhis scnsc,
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future :jj
DcIillos imagc cvcnLs rcsonaLc acsLhcLically and cLhically wiLh
Lhosc o ncorcalisL cincma: accd wiLh Lhc impossibiliLy ycL ncccs-
siLy o rcsponding Lo cvcnLs LhaL cxcccd immcdiaLc cxplanaLion,
boLh kinds cnacL Lhcir rcsponsc-abiliLy Lo show how inLcnsivcly
inhabiLingsuspcndingan cvcnL can bring cLhical rcsponsibil-
iLy Lo iL.
Unlikc mosL j/:: documcnLarics, which csLablish Lhcir LrusL-
worLhincss by giving voicc Lo pcrsonal cxpcricnccsomcLhing
LhaL Lcnds Lo lic ouLsidc cvaluaLionDcIillos cssay rhcLorically
accLs his rcadcrs by noL allowing Lhcm Lo LrusL any o his nar-
raLivc voiccs as qualicd Lo do jusLicc Lo Lhc cvcnL. OsLcnsibly
noncLion LhaL gcncrically rcquircs Lhc wriLcr Lo Lcll iL as iL is (or,
in any casc, noL Lo makc up alsc sLorics), iL commcnccs innocu-
ously cnough by siLuaLing j/:: sccmingly objccLivcly in Lhc lasL
dccadcs globalizaLion proccsscs. BuL cvcn in Lhis rsL sccLion,
Lhc Lhird pcrson accounL is alrcady complicaLcd by iLs cxpliciL jux-
Laposing o dicrcnL narraLivcsLhc WcsLs and Lhc LcrrorisLs:
In Lhc pasL dccadc Lhc surgc o capiLal markcLs has dominaLcd
discoursc and shapcd global consciousncss. MulLinaLional corpo-
raLions havc comc Lo sccm morc viLal and inucnLial Lhan gov-
crnmcnLs. [ . . . ] Tcrrors rcsponsc is a narraLivc LhaL has bccn dc-
vcloping ovcr ycars, only now bccoming incscapablc. IL is our livcs
and minds LhaL arc occupicd now (). Whcrcas in :j,6 Wim
Wcndcrss lm Kngs oj the Road could posLulaLc LhaL Lhc Yan-
kccs havc cvcn colonizcd [Ccrmanys] unconsciousncss Lhrough
rclcnLlcssly prolicraLing popular culLurc imagcs, Lhus giving
voicc Lo a pcrccivcd movcmcnL o colonialism cvcn wiLhin Lhc so-
callcd FirsL World, Lhc siLuaLion, aL lcasL rom a U.S. sLandpoinL,
has now crucially changcd. AlLhough Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs conLinucs
Lo circulaLc imagcsaL a grcaLcr pacc Lhan cvcrDcIillo wriLcs
LhaL iL is now our world, parLs o our world, LhaL havc crumblcd
inLo Lhcirs, which mcans wc arc living in a placc o dangcr and
ragc (): Lhcy arc now colonizing us.
BuL Lhis juxLaposiLion docs noL hold. SccLion i o Lhc cssay
immcdiaLcly narraLcs a dicrcnL kind o sLory. InsLcad o a rm-
ing Lhc dialccLical us vcrsus Lhcm rhcLoric LhaL was cncroaching
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ioo
on Lhc cssayFirsL World vcrsus Tird World, UniLcd SLaLcs o
Amcrica vcrsus Lhc Taliban, WcsL vcrsus FasL, globalism vcrsus
LribalismDcIillo narraLcs LhaL Lhc LcrrorisL planLcd in a Flor-
ida Lown, pushing a supcrmarkcL carL () is noL accLcd by Lhc
sighL o a woman pushing a sLrollcr () bccausc hc docs noL
see hcr (, my cmphasis). Incomprchcnsiblc Lo mosL o us, Lhc
LcrrorisL docs noL scc Lhc woman and is Lhus noL Louchcd by Lhc
imagcs accLivc impacLbccausc hc cxisLs in a dicrcnL narra-
Livc ormaL () and mood LhaL dicr rom ours. Whcrcas our
narraLivc ormaL has a logical ploL (Lhink classical Hollywood cin-
cma), Lhc LcrrorisL pursucs Lhc apocalypsc ()a narraLivc
whcrc logic and undcrsLanding, or knowlcdgc, havc no purchasc
on Lhc cvcnL. Tus, DcIillos narraLivc inLimaLcs, Lhc dialccLic o
rccogniLion LhaL pcrmcaLcs public dcbaLcs o j/:: docs noL hold
as an cxplanaLory apparaLus bccausc Lhc oLhcr docs noL cvcn ac-
knowlcdgcis noL capablc o acknowlcdgingour scl. Tc oLhcr
bypasscs us. Tc LcrrorisLs scl is alrcady oLhcr Lo our conccpL o
Lhc scl, Lhc LcrrorisLs scl is non-scl-idcnLical Lo iLscl: Lhc I o
Lhc scl is always alrcady an oLhcr.
l6
DcIillos compcLing narraLivcs suggcsL LhaL aLLacking Lhc
oLhcrs scl is bound Lo ail rom Lhc bcginning bccausc LhaL scl
docs noL cxisL as wc congurc iL. Wc can bomb Lhcm ouL o
Lhcir cavcs, buL Lhcir sclvcs havc alrcady muLaLcd inLo somcLhing
clsc, ccing Lo a dicrcnL locaLion, cvcn i Lhcsc sclvcs havc ycL Lo
bc produccd: For many pcoplc, Lhc cvcnL has changcd Lhc grain
o Lhc mosL rouLinc momcnL. Wc may nd LhaL Lhc ruin o Lhc
Lowcrs is impliciL in oLhcr Lhings. Tc ncw PalmPiloL aL ngcr-
Lips rcach, Lhc sLrcLch limousinc parkcd ouLsidc Lhc hoLcl, Lhc
midLown skyscrapcr undcr consLrucLion, carrying Lhc namc o a
major invcsLmcnL bankall haunLcd in a way by whaL has hap-
pcncd, lcss assurcd in Lhcir auLhoriLy, in Lhcir prcrogaLivcs Lhcy
ocr (j). Tc oLhcr has alrcady bccomc oLhcr Lo iLscl: iL now
pcrcolaLcs wiLhin us and our Lcchnology, cccLing Lransorma-
Lions wiLhin us LhaL cannoL hclp alLcring Lhc vcry possibiliLy or
cradicaLing Lhcm.
DcIillo has always bccn an unLimcly wriLcr. His cLion rc-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io:
sponds Lo spccic social cvcnLs by arLiculaLing Lhcir uLurc Lrans-
ormaLions and cccLs, acLualizing Lhc as o ycL virLual uLurc,
which is, in Lhc Bcrgsonian scnsc arLiculaLcd by Dclcuzc in Perg-
sonsm (chapLcr ) and Cnema i (chapLcr ), always coprcscnL
wiLh Lhc prcscnL iLscl. Tc dcvclopmcnLs o Lhc so-callcd war on
Lcrror sincc j/:: Lragically provcd oncc again DcIillos qualiLics
as a prcscicnL sccr: as conrmcd by Lhc aLLacks on Iondon in Lhc
summcr o ioo, or insLancc, Lhc LcrrorisLs arc noL Lhcm buL
usin our midsL, homcgrown, naLionals o Lhc vcry counLry
Lhcy aLLack, jusL likc DcIillo suggcsLcd mcrcly a cw monLhs a-
Lcr j/::. Tc grcaL ailurc o Lhc war on Lcrror has bccn iLs in-
abiliLy up unLil rcccnLly Lo conccivc o Lcrrorism as a viral war
machinc. Tcrrorism was a|ways a dcccnLralizcd opcraLivc orcc,
whaL has changcd sincc j/:: is only LhaL Lhis consLiLuLivc dcccn-
LralizaLion has inLcnsicd n response to Lhc war on iL. Any hiL on
any onc o iLs cclls gcncraLcs oLhcrs clscwhcrc bccausc Lhc vcry
ccll sLrucLurc o Lcrrorism is consLiLuLcd derenta||y, similar Lo
FiscnsLcins Lhcory o monLagc, which insisLs LhaL a shoL is [noL]
an e|ement o monLagc [buL] is a monLagc ce|| (,), propclling Lhc
cnLirc monLagc sysLcm orward by inLcrnal conicL and collision,
jusL likc a combusLion cnginc movcs Lhc car rom wthn raLhcr
Lhan wiLhouL.
To puL Lhis in a slighLly dicrcnL rcgisLcr LhaL is ncvcrLhclcss
ccnLral Lo DcIillos cssay, j/:: has also dcsLroycd Lhc ncolibcral
drcam o globalizaLion as ciLizcn-consumcr uLopia. Tc cvcnL has,
in a ccrLain scnsc, broughL back Lribal orccs, buL Lhis rcinLroduc-
Lion o Lribal powcr is, as Michacl HardL and AnLonio Ncgris Fm-
pre illusLraLcs, noL so much a rcLurn Lhan an inLcnsicaLion o
globalizaLion iLscl. ClobalizaLion is noL opposcd Lo whaL mcdia
pundiLs dcmcan as mcdicvalism, nor is iL a progrcssivc movc-
mcnL away rom mcdicvalism, as wc arc conLinually assurcd. On
Lhc conLrary, globalizaLion is inuscd wiLh and accLcd by mcdi-
cvalism, consLiLuLing iLs mosL inLcnsicd momcnL ycL: Lhc global
scl is always alrcady Lhc Lribal oLhcr going global.
l7
Howcvcr, Lhc rcadcr is ulLimaLcly noL askcd Lo Lakc Lhis analy-
sis aL acc valuc, as i iL rcprcscnLcd Lhc mcaning or LruLh oozing
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ioi
rom Lhc cvcnL. QuiLc simply, Lhc cvcnL cannoL bc rcduccd Lo an
aLmosphcrc o mass paranoia la X-F|es narraLivcs in which Lhc
proLagonisLs musL always car LhaL Lhcir bodics havc alrcady bccn
injccLcd wiLh alicn corpusclcs. For paranoia is simply Lhc mosL
comorLing narraLivc availablc in rcsponsc Lo Lrauma, posiLing
Lhc scl as pcrsccuLcd by Lhc ouLsidc, Lhc oLhcr.
lS
Tc oLhcr scrvcs
as Lhc cxplanaLory orcc par cxccllcncc Lo rcinorcc Lhc scl as a
scl-conLaincd cnLiLy LhaL conLrols iLscl by suspccLing cvcryLhing
clsc. BuL paranoia is jusL anoLhcr ploL, and, as DcIillo asscrLs in
whaL mighL bc Lakcn Lo bc his Lhcsis (i having a Lhcsis wcrc noL
Lo go againsL his cssays pcrormaLivc, pcdagogical orcc), PloLs
rcducc Lhc world (). PloLs rcducc Lhc world bccausc Lhc acL
o ploLLing consLiLuLcs Lhc virLual sccd o dcsLrucLion: Lo wiL,
al-Quacdas ploLLing cndcd in Lhc plancs pcrccLly sLagcd and
cxccuLcd doublc impacL on Lhc Lwin Lowcrs. Tus, DcIillos cs-
say docs noL ploL an cxplanaLion LhaL would ocr rcadcrs a sac
rcconsLiLuLion o Lhc world, insLcad, Lhc cssay indicaLcs LhaL ploL
consLiLuLivcly parLakcs in Lhc problcm, as a vision o judgmcnL
() prcccding Lhc cvcnL. And whaL clsc is judgmcnL i noL a
world-rcducing ploL`
BuL ploLs also rcducc Lhc world bccausc Lhcy can bc casily cx-
plaincd and uscd as cxplanaLions or cvil. For insLancc, in Olivcr
SLoncs 1FK (:jj:), Lhc ploLLing rcducLion o Lhc prcsidcnLs
assassinaLion Lo a LighLly kniL conspiracy schcmc scrvcs as a
sccmingly compclling ycL ulLimaLcly simplisLic cxplanaLion o Lhc
cvil donc, convcrscly, Lhc conspiracy ploL iLscl promiscs Lo bc
cxplainablc simply by locaLing Lhosc involvcd in Lhc ploL. In sLark
conLrasL, 1amcs Fllroys novcl Amercan Tab|od (:jj,) cngagcs
1FKs assassinaLion noL by rcducing Lhc cvcnL Lo one ploL buL by
ampliying Lhc vcry idca o ploL iLscl: You wanL ploL` Ill givc
you ploL! so Lhc book sccms Lo dcclarc in bold Labloid lcLLcrs as iL
providcs Lhc rcadcr wiLh hundrcds o Lhcm. ConscqucnLly, rcad-
ing Fllroys novcl docs noL lcavc onc wiLh Lhc imprcssion LhaL g-
uring ouL whaL happcncd will lcad Lo an undcrsLanding o why
iL happcncd, insLcad, by inLcnsiying Lhc vcry idca o ploL(Ling),
Lhc novcl subjccLs Lhc rcadcr Lo Lhc provocaLion LhaL Lhc be|ej in
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io
ploLs is iLscl a problcm raLhcr Lhan a soluLion. Or raLhcr, boLh
DcIillos cssay and Fllroys rcsponsc Lo SLoncs 1FK show LhaL
ploLs incviLably rcducc Lhc world, indccd, as DcIillo has rciLcr-
aLcd LhroughouL his work, Lhcy Lcnd Lo movc dcaLhward (whte
Nose i6) or, again, movc Loward dcaLh (Lbra ii:).
TaL ploLs rcducc Lhc world also on a phcnomcnological lcvcl
is dramaLizcd by Richard Crossmans brillianL cxpcrimcnLal novcl
Te A|phabet Man.
l0
Tc ploL o Lhc io-pagc narraLivc abouL a
schizophrcnic pocL/killcr can bc summarizcd in onc paragraph,
which Lhc novcl iLscl cvcnLually providcs us on pagc i6, LhaL
(sccmingly) clcarly maps ouL whaL happcncd Lo whom and why.
YcL Lhc vcry acL LhaL Lhc ploL summary succeeds io pagcs o nar-
raLion docs noL so much indicaLc Lhc sadism o Lhc auLhor or nar-
raLor who rclishcs Lhc LhoughL o having rusLraLcd rcadcrs wiLh
Lhis wcird, violcnL, and conusing narraLivc only Lo mock Lhcm
wiLh a sLraighLorward accounL o iL. RaLhcr, conciscly sLaLing
Lhc ploL calls aLLcnLion Lo Lhc vcry acL LhaL rcadcrs experence
o rcading Lhc novcl cannoL bc summarily accounLcd or Lhrough
having rccoursc Lo ploL as an cxplanaLory mcchanismjusL as
Lhc dcploymcnL o Lhc moral caLcgory o cvil docs noL sum
up Lhc cxpcricncc o Lhc publics iniLial aectve rcsponsc Lo Lhc
cvcnL o j/::. Tc inLcnsiying vcrLigo induccd Lhrough Lhc nov-
cls sLrucLurc and all iLs acsLhcLic narraLivc dcviccs, in addiLion Lo
Lhc obscurc conLcnL, which is osLcnsibly a mysLcry sLory, has con-
Linually accLcd Lhc rcadcr so LhaL shc docs noL know whcrc shc
is aL any givcn Limc in Lhc narraLivc. Tc rcadcr is oLhcr Lo hcrscl
aL any momcnL, jusL as Lhc novcls main characLcr, Lhc psychoLic
Clydc, is conLinually oLhcr Lo himscl in psychosis. To namc Lhc
ploL is Lhus noL mcrcly Lhc lcasL inLcrcsLing Lhing Lo say abouL Lhc
novcl buL iL undamcnLally misscs Lhc accLivc inLcnsiLy gcncr-
aLcd or rcadcrs by Lhc cncounLcr wiLh, LhaL is, n Lhc rcading o,
Lhc LcxL.
TaL ploLs rcducc Lhc world, howcvcr, is noL a problcm in iL-
scl. RaLhcr, whaL counLs is Lhc sty|e o rcducLion. 1FK rcduccs
Lhc cvcnL o Novcmbcr ii, :j6 Lo an cxplanaLion Lhcrco,
whcrcas Amercan Tab|od and In Lhc Ruins o Lhc FuLurc rc-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io
ducc Lhcir rcspccLivc cvcnLs Lo Lhcir mosL inLcnsicd momcnLs,
absLracL Lhcm. Tus wc rcad in DcIillos cssay, Tc ccll phoncs,
Lhc losL shocs, Lhc handkcrchics mashcd in Lhc accs o running
mcn and womcn. Tc box cuLLcrs and crcdiL cards. Tc papcr LhaL
camc sLrcaming ouL o Lhc Lowcrs and driLcd across Lhc rivcr Lo
Brooklyn back yards: sLaLus rcporLs, rcsumcs, insurancc orms.
ShccLs o papcr drivcn inLo concrcLc, according Lo wiLncsscs. Pa-
pcr slicing inLo Lruck Lircs, xcd Lhcrc (). DcIillos cssay Lakcs
Lhcsc rcduccd cvcnLs Lo Lhcir limiLs: a prcgnanL woman, a ncw-
born, a dog (,, my cmphascs). Dclcuzc and CuaLLari call Lhcsc
limiLs hacccciLicsvcrbs in Lhc inniLivc, propcr namcs, daLcs,
indcniLc arLiclcswhich consisL cnLircly o rclaLions o movc-
mcnL and rcsL bcLwccn molcculcs or parLiclcs, capaciLics Lo accL
and bc accLcd (Tousand P|ateaus i6:). A hacccciLy namcs Lhc
cvcnL bccausc iL has nciLhcr bcginning nor cnd, origin nor dcsLi-
naLion, iL is always in Lhc middlc. IL is noL madc o poinLs, only o
lincs. IL is a rhizomc (i6). In DcIillos asubjccLivc, amorphous
spacc o narraLivc scrializaLion, seeng is iLscl rhcLorically acLu-
alizcd rom wiLhin Lhc cvcnL and away rom Lhc LcrriLorializing
orcc o subjccLivc and subjccLiying acLs o cxplanaLion bascd on
LruLhul pcrccpLions. Tus, DcIillos hacccciLic narraLing bcgins
Lo rcndcr sccablc Lhc publics iniLial accLivc rcsponsc Lo j/::
and iLs hallucinaLory cliding o cxposiLory claims. DicrcnLly puL,
rccoursc Lo ploL as prcdominanLly an cxplanaLory mcchanism o
Lhc cvcnLs whaLncss undamcnLally misscs Lhc poinL LhaL ploL
or sysLcmaLiciLyis iLscl consLiLuLcd by accL or inLcnsiLics,
LhaL is, conLinual variaLion.
20
In the Ruins of Analogy: Suspending Likeness
DcIillos cssayisLic cncounLcr wiLh j/:: rigorously Lcachcs us
Lhis lasL poinL. For whilc wc as rcadcrs arc inclincd Lo bclicvc LhaL
Lhc cssays iniLial Lhird pcrson accounL is rcasonably objccLivc,
Lhc cssay quickly undcrmincs Lhis imprcssion. SccLion narraLcs
Lhc sLory o Karcn and Marc, Lhc rsL and only propcr rsL namcs
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io
uscd in Lhc cssay.
2l
In Lhc cssays rhyLhm, Lhis ncw narraLivc
sccms a mcrc closc-up, calling our aLLcnLion Lo a spccic insLancc
among Lhc many sLoricsor insLancc, LhaL o Lhc Lwo womcn
on Lwo plancs, bcsL o ricnds, who dic LogcLhcr and aparL, Towcr
: and Towcr i (), or LhaL o Lhc saxophonisL playing soLly
()LhaL wcrc only alludcd Lo carlicr. YcL, Lwo-Lhirds o Lhc way
inLo Lhis sccLion, Lhc narraLor undcrmincs our condcncc in him.
Having jusL dcscribcd Marcs acLions during Lhc aLLack (hc scl-
lcssly hclpcd oLhcr LcnanLs in his building), Lhc narraLor sLaLcs:
Marc camc ouL Lo Lhc corridor. I Lhink wc mght dic, hc Lold
himscl, hcdging his scnsc o whaL would happcn ncxL.
Tc dcLccLivc Lold Karcn Lo sLay whcrc Lhcy wcrc.
Whcn Lhc sccond Lowcr cll, my hcarL cll wiLh iL. I callcd
Marc, who is my ncphcw, on his cordlcss. (,)
Wc arc surpriscd Lo discovcr LhaL Lhc narraLor has Lold a much
morc pcrsonal and prcsumably subjccLivc sLory Lhan wc havc bccn
lcd Lo bclicvc Lhus ar. Curiously, wiLhin a cw lincs, Lhc narraLivc
voicc shiLs rom Lhird pcrson omniscicnL Lo an odd mixLurc o
narraLivc poinL o vicws. Why, or cxamplc, docs Lhc narraLor noL
say, Hc LhoughL hc mighL dic (indirccL discoursc)` Or, why docs
Lhc narraLor noL providc dirccL discoursc (i.c., Wc mighL dic, hc
Lold himscl), as hc did in Lhc passagc jusL prcccding Lhis onc,
which dcscribcs Lhc momcnL Marc cxpcricnccs Lhc unLhinkablc:
Whcn [Marc] hcard Lhc rsL low drumming rumblc, hc sLood in
a sLrangc dcad calm and said, SomcLhing is happcning (6)` In-
sLcad o providing rcadcrs wiLh a sLablc vicwpoinLand Lhus Lhc
possibiliLy or idcnLicaLionLhc conuscd narraLivc pcrspccLivc
calls aLLcnLion Lo Lhc shccr impossibiliLy o (idcnLiying wiLh) a
clcar vicw o Lhc cvcnL. During Lhc disasLcr, as Karcn and Marc
comc ouL o Lhc building inLo a world o ash and ncar nighL
(,), Lhc cvcnL iLscl is impossiblc Lo apprchcnd and ycL Lrans-
orms Lhosc rcsponding LoseengiL: Tcrc was no onc clsc Lo
bc sccn now on Lhc sLrccL. Cray ash covcring Lhc cars and pavc-
mcnL, ash alling in largc akcs [. . .]. Tc mcmbcrs o Lhc group
wcrc maskcd and Lowclcd, childrcn in adulLs arms, moving casL
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io6
and Lhcn norLh on Nassau SLrccL, Lrying noL Lo look around, only
whaLs immcdiaLc, onc sLcp and Lhcn anoLhcr, all closcly ocuscd,
a prcgnanL woman, a ncwborn, a dog (,). Tc circumsLanccs
dcmand Lhis mcrging o pcrspccLivc, noL bccausc iL promiscs Lhc
possibiliLy o dcmocraLic inclusivcncss LhaL will cxplain j/::, buL
bccausc Lhc cvcnL induccs a ncccssary incorporcal Lransorma-
Lion o boLh iLscl and Lhc rcsponding subjccL. NciLhcr cvcnL nor
subjccL can bc namcd oLhcr Lhan wiLh a daLc or indcniLc arLiclcs
and pronouns: somethng happcncd, a dog, and, nally, Someone
said, I donL wanL chccsc on LhaL. Someone said, I likc iL bcLLcr
noL so cookcd (,, my cmphascs).
Tc rsL-pcrson poinL o vicw cvcnLually cnsuing rom Lhis
insLanLancous LransormaLion displays a rcmarkablc dcscripLivc
insighL inLo cvcnLs iL did noL wiLncss (Lhc narraLor was noL in
Lhc aparLmcnL building whcn Lhc Lowcrs crashcd). By Lhis mcans,
Lhc cssay sLylisLically (ncorcalisLically) marks Lhc cvcnLncss o
Lhc cvcnL: iL happcns or happcncd and Lhus rcquircs rcsponsc,
buL iL docs noL allow or prccxisLing subjccL posiLions Lo rcmain
unaccLcd. SubjccLs rcspond bccausc Lhcy arc madc Lo rcspond in
a parLicular way, having bccn subjccLcd Lo LhaL which cannoL bc
rcduccd Lo a prccxisLing posiLion, a ploLs limiLaLions, Lhc LruLh-
ulncss o a subjccLs pcrccpLion, or Lhc cvcr-prcscnL dcmand or
moral clariLy.
FvcnLually, Lhc sccLion shiLs back Lo a Lhird pcrson narra-
Lion, buL by Lhcn Lhc narraLors acsLhcLic dcviccs havc induccd
a dclirium LhaL allows us no longcr Lo rcspond Loor idcnLiy
wiLhLhc cssays sLandpoinL on Lhc lcvcl o purc conLcnL. Wc arc
now Lrying Lo caLch up (j) Lo whaL happcncd Lo usLo Lhc
rhcLorical orcc rclaLions inhcring in Lhc cvcnL o narraLivc, or
languagc. I wc LhoughL LhaL Lhc narraLivc, or Lhc mulLiplc mini-
narraLivcs, mcanL Lo rcprcscnL a LruLh abouL j/::, Lhcn now wc
cannoL havc any aiLh in Lhc vcraciLy o Lhcsc accounLs. I wc wcrc
LcmpLcd Lo bclicvc LhaL Lhc ccLing counLcr-narraLivcs would ac-
cruc a largcr mcaning, wc arc now accLivcly placcd in a posi-
Liona bccoming-oLhcr Lo oncs sclLhaL cuLs across Lhc cxpc-
ricncc Lhc cssay is aLLcmpLing Lo provokc buL noL capLurc. BuL our
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io,
cxpcricncc rcading DcIillos cssay is noL likc cxpcricncing j/::,
nor is DcIillos dcploymcnL o narraLivc misc-cn-sccnc likc LhaL
o Lhc ILalian ncorcalisLs. Nor is Lhc cxpcricncc o j/:: likc LhaL
o AuschwiLz or Pcarl Harbor, Lo namc Lhc Lwo mosL unorLunaLc
comparisons LhaL havc circulaLcd Lhrough Lhc mcdia. RaLhcr, Dc-
Iillos cssay puLs likcncss aL sLakc. Tc Lowcrs implosion, so Lhc
narraLor rccounLs,
was so vasL and Lcrriblc LhaL iL was ouLsidc imagining cvcn
as iL happcncd. Wc could noL caLch up Lo iL. BuL iL was rcal,
punishingly so, an cxprcssion o Lhc physics o sLrucLural
limiLs and a void in oncs soul, and Lhcrc was Lhc hugc an-
Lcnna alling ouL o Lhc sky, sLraighL down, blunL cnd rsL,
likc an arrow moving backward in Limc.
Tc cvcnL iLscl has no purchasc on Lhc mcrcics o anal-
ogy or similc. Wc havc Lo Lakc Lhc shock and horror as iL
is. (j)
22
NoLc Lhc immcdiaLc crasurc o Lhc narraLors inLuiLivc rccoursc Lo
LhaL which hc asscrLs lics bcyond Lhc cvcnLs purvicw. Tc cvcnL
is likc an arrow moving backward in Limc only Lo bc noL likc
iL aL all prcciscly bccausc Lhc cvcnL is noL rcduciblc Lo rcprcscnLa-
Lion: Wc havc Lo Lakc Lhc shock and horror as t s. Tis crasurc
is cxprcsscd wiLh Lhc orcc o an imagc cvcnL, onc DcIillo pro-
duccs by hiLLing Lhc cnLcr kcy on Lhc kcyboard Lo crcaLc a visual
aporia markcd by Lhc whiLc spacc bcLwccn Lwo paragraphs. So
noL only docs Lhc cvcnL havc no grasp on Lhc mcrcics o rcprc-
scnLaLional languagc, buL, convcrscly, Lhcsc vcry mcrcics havc
no purchasc on Lhc cvcnL bccausc o iLs purc singulariLy. Or, as
Dclcuzc and CuaLLari conLcnd, an cvcnL is noL oj hisLory (i.c., a
narraLivc/ploL), Lhough iL is born in and alls back inLo hisLory
Lhrough Lhc incviLablc appropriaLion o Lhc cvcnLs bccoming by
narraLivc orccs (what !s Ph|osophy? ::o).
Tc poinL hcrc is noL Lo asscrL Lhc impossibiliLy o spcaking,
wriLing, or knowing, nor is iL Lo suggcsL LhaL cLhics consisLs o an
cLcrnal crasing o Lhc said by Lhc saying. Wc do noL adcquaLcly
inLcrrogaLc Lhc cvcnL by wondcring whcLhcr or noL Lo wriLc or
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future io8
spcak abouL iL. Tc movcmcnL o DcIillos cssay, iLs acsLhcLic
sLancc, rhcLorically, indccd masocriLically, imagcs how Lo bc-
comc rcccpLivc Lo Lhc rcsponsc-abiliLy in Lhc cvcnL: Bcorc poli-
Lics, bcorc hisLory and rcligion, Lhcrc is Lhc primal Lcrror. Pcoplc
alling rom Lhc Lowcrs hand in hand (j). BuL Lhcrc is also Lhc
primal orcc o languagc. DcIillos cssay Lrics Lo hccd and rcndcr
palpablc Lhis orcc or accLLhc how, or scnsaLion, o languagc.
Tc orm LhaL rcsponsc Lakcs bccomcs Lhc cvcnLs conLcnL (which
is noL Lo downplay or cvcn dcny Lhc acLual dcaLhs Lhcmsclvcs or
Lhc dcsLrucLion o Lhc ciLyscapc), and so Lhis parLicular modc o
rcsponsc immancnLly subsisLs wiLhin Lhc cvcnLs ncccssary vari-
abiliLy iLscl. Or, as Lhc cssays narraLor a rms, cvcn Lhough Lhc
languagc o rcprcscnLaLion has no purchasc on Lhc cvcnLs sin-
gulariLy, living languagc is noL diminishcd. [. . .] jLjanguage s
nseparab|e jrom the wor|d that provokes t. Tc wriLcr bcgins in
Lhc Lowcrs, Lrying Lo imaginc Lhc momcnL, dcspcraLcly (j, my
cmphasis). Tc cvcnL has a discursivc dimcnsion, cxisLs in and
Lhrough discoursc, cvcn i iL is noL rcduciblc Lo languagc.
RaLhcr Lhan a limiLaLion, howcvcr, Lhc cvcnLs discursivc di-
mcnsion is Lhc wriLcrsas wcll as Lhc dirccLors or criLics
condiLion o possibiliLy or rcsponsc-abiliLy. WiLhin Lhc cvcnLs
virLual buL rcal rcalm, Lhc languagc o analogy or similcrcprc-
scnLaLion and judgmcnLuncLions as a crucial LcrriLorializing
orcc. IL is a clichc (i.c., hcrocs vcrsus villains) LhaL rcduccs Lhc
irrcduciblc Lo Lhc amiliar, or aL lcasL Lo LhaL which wc Lhink wc
knowwiLhouL cvcr marking LhaL Lhis knowlcdgc has bccn casL
in rcprcscnLaLional Lcrms. In conLrasL, rcsponsc bcgins n Lhc
cvcnL. Ianguagc immancnLly inhcrcs and subsisLs in Lhc cvcnLs
variabiliLy or scrialiLy, which provokcs imaging. Tc problcm wiLh
Lhc logic o rcprcscnLaLion as rcscmblancc is LhaL iL always posi-
Lions Lhc rcsponding subjccL ouLsidc Lhc cvcnL and so rcduccs Lhc
cvcnL Lo whaL subjccLs bclicvc Lo bc Lhcir poinL o vicw.
YcL, as Richard Powcrss rcsponsc Lo j/:: insinuaLcs, whilc
Lhcrc arc no words LhaL rcprcscnL Lhc cvcnL, Lhcrc arc only words
(ii).
23
And whilc no comparison can say whaL happcncd Lo us[,]
wc can sLarL wiLh Lhc ruins o our similc and lcL likc move us Lo-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ioj
ward somcLhing largcr, somc undcrsLanding o whaL is (ii, my
cmphasis). Wc mighL bc unablc Lo cscapc Lhc languagc o similcs,
analogics, and Lhus mcaning. Tc inLcrcsLing aspccL o an anal-
ogy, howcvcr, is noL Lhc poinLs Lo bc bridgcd buL iLs modulaLion,
iLs movcmcnL.
24
To bc movcd, Lo bccomc accLcdnoL so much
in Lcrms o ccling buL in Lcrms o Lhinking oLhcrwisc and bcing
provokcd Lo movc clscwhcrcconsLiLuLcs Lhc cLhical rcsponsi-
biliLy o Lhc wriLcr, dirccLor, criLic, Lcachcr, or anyonc clsc who
cngagcs imagcs. Tis movcmcnL or moving procccds cllipLically,
suspcnscully. Tc proccss o seeng Lhc cvcnL, as rhcLorically in-
scribcd in and by DcIillos cssay, lcaps, Lo quoLc Bazin oncc morc,
rom onc cvcnL Lo Lhc oLhcr as onc lcaps rom sLonc Lo sLonc in
crossing a rivcr (i:).
Tis cllipLical proccss, howcvcr, docs noL work by judgmcnL.
According Lo Adorno, Lhis is prcciscly whaL scparaLcs arL rom
nonarL, whilc always cnabling Lhc ormcr Lo rcmain in rclaLion
Lo Lhc laLLcr. As hc wriLcs, ArLworks arc, as synLhcsis, ana|ogous
Lo judgmcnL, in arLworks, howcvcr, synLhcsis docs noL resu|t
in judgmcnL, o no arLwork is iL possiblc Lo dcLcrminc iLs judg-
mcnL or whaL iLs so-callcd mcssagc is. IL is Lhcrcorc qucsLionablc
whcLhcr arLworks can possibly bc engage, cvcn whcn Lhcy cm-
phasizc Lhcir engagement. WhaL works amounL Lo, LhaL in which
Lhcy arc unicd, cannoL bc ormulaLcd as a judgmcnL, noL cvcn as
onc LhaL Lhcy sLaLc in words and scnLcnccs (Aesthetc Teory :i,
rsL Lwo cmphascs minc). ArL, and I suggcsL LhaL DcIillos cssay
is prcciscly an artju| rcsponsc Lo j/::, can bc rcgardcd as bcing
analogous Lo judgmcnL wiLhouL cvcr arLiculaLing, lcL alonc beng,
a judgmcnL. TaL is, analogy is noL Lhc samc as a rcsulL: how
is noL Lhc samc as whaL. Analogy moves inLransiLivcly raLhcr
Lhan Loward somcLhing. Tc disLancc cccLcd by such analogical
movcmcnL is noL Lo bc conuscd wiLh whaL MarxisL/psychoana-
lyLic lm Lhcory o Lhc :j,os (and Lo Lhis day) associaLcs wiLh
Lhc so-callcd alicnaLion cccL LhaL is supposcd Lo Lurn Lhc vicwcr
inLo an acLivc spccLaLor raLhcr Lhan a passivc consumcr o cscap-
isL imagcs. Tis laLLcr kind o disLancc advocaLcd by such lm
LhcorisLs is a disLancc Lo bc crcaLcd bcLwccn imagcs and rcaliLy so
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:o
LhaL vicwcrs will cngagc Lhc laLLcr raLhcr Lhan idcnLiy wiLh Lhc
ormcr, in conLrasL, analogy as I am dcploying iL hcrc crcaLcs a
ccrLain kind o a dstance jrom rea|ty and, convcrscly, a ccrLain dc-
grcc o mmedacy wth the mage, wiLh Lhc imagcd cvcnL, wiLh Lhc
cvcnL LhaL consisLs o poinLs o vicw LhaL givc risc Lo Lhc imagc o
Lhc cvcnL. As such, analogy allows Lhc imagc, Lhc cvcnL, Lo rcLain
a mcasurc o acsLhcLic (and Lhus cLhical) auLonomy, as Adorno
argucd in Transparcncics o Film, an cssay in which hc rcviscd
somc o his carlicr, aL-ouL ncgaLivc vicws o Lhc cincma.
25
From
Adornos pcrspccLivc, such acsLhcLic auLonomy slows down Lhc
movcmcnL Loward a alsc idcnLicaLion o Lhc parLicular and Lhc
univcrsal, whcrc Lhc dcLailcd imagc (Lhc parLicular) cnds up rccr-
ring Lo (rcprcscnLing) somcLhing clsc (Lhc univcrsal). Suspcnding
Lhis rccrcnLial logic (onc drivcn by giving primacy Lo rcaliLy
ovcr imagcs) in which Lhc jackbooLs o Lhc subjccL crush scnsuous
singulariLy, arcprcscnLaLional analogous movcmcnL crcaLcs and
mainLains a disLancc bcLwccn Lhc parLicular and Lhc univcrsal,
Lhc imagc and rcaliLy, or Lo usc Lhc Lcrms o masochism, bcLwccn
plcasurc and pain.
26
YcL, and Lhis is kcy, Lhrough Lhc inLransiLivc characLcr o anal-
ogy, analogical movcmcnL has a powcrul purchasc on Lhc vcry
world iL simulLancously rcccdcs rom prcciscly bccausc iL sets the
wor|d tse|j n moton, Lhus ncccssarily accLing and Lransorm-
ing iL. Trough iLs dcscripLivc-gcncraLivc opcraLion, arL sees Lhc
world noL as somcLhing Lo bc bchcld by a subjccL (as i Lhc world
cxisLcd jor iL, likc a picLurc cnramcd or a subjccLs consuming
plcasurcs) buL as somcLhing Lo bc sccn by poinLs o vicw LhaL
havc ycL Lo cmcrgc rom LhaL which is Lo bc sccn: Lhc objccL iL-
scl in iLs conLinual variaLion.
27
Tc nccd Lo scc Lhc objccL in iLs
conLinual variaLioncncounLcring iL qua bccomingis, iL bcars
rcpcaLing, also whaL Bazin gcLs aL whcn hc approvingly dcscribcs
Frich von SLrohcims rulc or dirccLion: Takc a closc look aL Lhc
world, keep on dong so, and in Lhc cnd iL will lay barc or you all
iLs cruclLy and iLs uglincss (::i,, my cmphasis). Tc impcraLivc
Lo kccp on doing so is absoluLcly kcy Lo Bazins Lhcory o cin-
cma and is also somcLhing LhaL characLcrizcs DcIillos cssay. Far
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i::
rom arLiculaLing a navc orm o rcalism, as many o Bazins criL-
ics allcgc, Bazin crucially insisLs on Lhc ncccssiLy o a cincmaLic
acL o rcpcLiLion in orm o an arLicially induccd inLcnsicaLion.
Bazins cLhical aiLh in Lhc cincmaLhc rcason hc Lhinks cincma
is a supcrior arL ormis prcciscly iLs abiliLy Lo rcndcr visiblc
Lhc worlds consLiLuLivc variabiliLy, iLs ongoing muLabiliLy, raLhcr
Lhan an unchanging csscncc or LruLh. Tc powcr o cincma is, or
Bazin, akin Lo Lhc momcnL o sLaring aL an objccL or such a long
Limc LhaL Lhc objccL iLscl muLaLcs in our cycs, Lhus making iL-
scl availablc Lo us in iLs consLiLuLivc variabiliLy or bccoming. Tc
problcm, howcvcr, is LhaL mosL o Lhc Limc wc arc dcprivcd o
visiblc acccss Lo Lhc worlds bccoming bccausc o our insLiLuLion-
alizcd Lcndcncy Lo rcly on cnLrcnchcd, clichcd modcs o pcrccp-
LionLhaL is, judgmcnL, which always procccds aL a spccd noL
conducivc Lo seeng Lhc vcry proccsscs o bccoming LhaL gcncraLc
judgmcnLs condiLion o arLiculaLion in Lhc rsL placc.
IiLcraLurc and cincma Lhus providc rhcLorical Lools or sLraLc-
gics or rcsponding Lo cvcnLs LhaL cxcccd Lhcir immcdiaLc rcalm o
inucncc and conccrn, as wcll as go bcyond subjccLs abiliLy Lo pcr-
ccivc Lhcm. Indccd, pcrccpLion, pace Lhc (nco)phcnomcnological
LradiLion, appcars Lo bc unncccssary (Lhough iL mighL vcry wcll
bc uscul aL Limcs) or rcsponsc-abiliLy. TaL is, undcrsLand-
ing and mcaningindccd prcscncc and Bcing (in Lhc Hcidcg-
gcrian scnsc)consLiLuLc problcms only i onc agrccs wiLh
(nco)phcnomcnology LhaL consciousncss siLs aL Lhc rooL o cvcry
rcsponsc-abiliLy. For Bazin, Dclcuzc, and DcIillo, howcvcr, prcs-
cncc or Bcing is no problcm prcciscly bccausc or Lhcm Bcing
can bc said only o bccoming (scc chapLcr , noLc i8). I Bcing is
noLhing buL bccomingvariaLion, dicrcnLiaLionLhcn pcrccp-
Lion or undcrsLanding aL bcsL scrvcs as onc among many lincs
o cnLry and ighL. RaLhcr Lhan bcing dcpcndcnL on pcrccpLion
in Lhc phcnomcnological scnsc, Lhcn, lcarning Lo rcspond Lo Lhc
cvcnL rcquircs hccding Lhc primacy o Lhc objccL (Adorno, Aes-
thetc Teory :), iL is lcarning how Lo dcploy and rcspond Lo
imagcs wiLhouL making Lhcm indcbLcd Lo somcLhing LhaL is noL
parL o Lhc cvcnL. Onc musL ollow Lhc lincs o incision or cnLry
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:i
prcgivcn by Lhc cvcnLs orcc rclaLions, jusL as a diamond cuLLcr
cuLs Lhc raw diamond by ollowing iLs prccxisLing lincs LhaL dc-
Lcrminc Lhc only way o cuLLing iL wiLhouL ruining iLs sLrucLural
inLcgriLy and luminosiLy. Tus, as DcIillo caps Lhc cnd o sccLion
6 o his cssay, in iLs dcscrLion o cvcry basis or comparison, Lhc
cvcnL asscrLs iLs singulariLy. Tcrc is somcLhing cmpLy in Lhc sky.
Tc wriLcr Lrics Lo givc mcmory, Lcndcrncss, and mcaning Lo all
LhaL howling spacc (j)buL Lhc wriLcr ncvcr knows whcLhcr
and whcn Lhc corL will succccd. Or, as Paul AusLcrs narraLor in
Cty oj C|ass sLaLcs, Tc qucsLion is Lhc sLory iLscl, and whcLhcr
or noL iL mcans somcLhing is noL or Lhc sLory Lo Lcll ().
In the Ruins of Representation
In rcsponsc Lo Lhc horrors o Lhc HolocausL, Adorno amously
claimcd LhaL Lo wriLc pocLry aLcr AuschwiLz is barbaric. And
Lhis corrodcs cvcn Lhc knowlcdgc o why iL has bccomc impos-
siblc Lo wriLc pocLry Loday. AbsoluLc rcicaLion, which prcsup-
poscd inLcllccLual progrcss as onc o iLs clcmcnLs, is now prcpar-
ing Lo absorb Lhc mind cnLircly. CriLical inLclligcncc cannoL bc
cqual Lo Lhis challcngc as long as iL conncs iLscl Lo scl-saLiscd
conLcmplaLion (Prsms ). Tc singulariLy o Lhc violcncc inhcr-
cnL Lo Lhc HolocausL, Adorno suggcsLs, cannoL bc cxplaincd or
comprchcndcd in an acL o conLcmplaLion qua pcrccpLual discov-
cry o Lhc cvcnLs mcaning. IncidcnLally, Lhis Adornian posiLion
sLands in sLark conLrasL Lo whaL is suggcsLcd by conLcmporary
lms such as Schnd|ers Lst and Savng Prvate Ryan, lms in
which SLcvcn Spiclbcrg, according Lo Codards asLuLc analysis, rc-
consLrucLs AuschwiLz as LoLaliLarian in ordcr Lo convincc vicw-
crs o his allcgcdly noblc purposc raLhcr Lhan discussing iL criLi-
cally (c. Brody 6). TaL is, Lhc qucsLions Adorno impliciLly asks,
and Spiclbcrg conLinually clidcs, arc WhaL docs a dcnunciaLion o
AuschwiLz do` WhaL docs iL do Lo say Lhis was cvilgivcn LhaL
rcally no onc buL somc righL wing cxLrcmisLs (who oLcn simply
dcny Lhc vcry cxisLcncc o Lhc HolocausL Lo bcgin wiLh) would
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:
disagrcc wiLh Lhis asscssmcnL` AuschwiLz and similar cvcnLs
arc dangcrous noL bccausc o whaL Lhcy arecvilbuL bccausc
o whaL Lhcy do. To suggcsL oLhcrwisc, as has bccn and I Lhink
sLill is Lhc sLandard modc o rcsponsc Lo violcncc in gcncral and
Lhc HolocausL in parLicular, mcrcly causcs Lhc libcral-humanisL
FnlighLcnmcnL LradiLion Lo pcrpcLuaLc iLscla LradiLion wiLh-
ouL which Lhcrc could havc bccn no AuschwiLz (Adorno, Nega-
tve La|ectcs 6) and onc LhaL conLinucs Lo opcraLc Loday undcr
Lhc rubric o globalizaLion. TaL is, globalizaLion, as HardL and
Ncgri arguc in Fmpre, is noL violaLcd or dccaLcd by mcdicval
orccs, insLcad, iL uses Lhcm Lo rcproducc iLscl.
Howcvcr, or Adorno, wriLing aLcr AuschwiLz did noL liLcrally
cxcludc pocLry. IL cxcludcd any purchasc on a mcaningul rcprc-
scnLaLional, or mcLaphoric, cxplanaLion o violcnccs mosL cxLrcmc
insLanLiaLion, sincc such an cxplanaLion is implicaLcd in Lhc Holo-
causLs violcncc. For Adorno, wc arc lcL wiLh Lhc cLhical obligaLion
Lo respond Lo Lhc various modcs o opcraLions manicsLcd by Lhc
orccs o violcncc. WhaL Adorno calls criLical inLclligcncc musL
bcgin Lo rcLhink whaL iL mcans Lo rcspond Lo LhaL which sccms
bcyond oncs capaciLy Lo pcrccivc and undcrsLand. AL sLakc is Lhc
qucsLion o how Lo dcploy imaging proccsscs in rcsponsc Lo cvcnLs
such as AuschwiLzor j/::, a violcnL cvcnL alLogcLhcr dicrcnL
rom Lhc HolocausL. Prcciscly bccausc onc violcnL cvcnL is ncvcr
likc anoLhcr, cach rcquircs iLs own, singular modc o rcsponsc. AL
lcasL or Adorno, pcrccpLionLhc acL o uncovcring mcaning in a
givcn cvcnLLcnds Lo havc a limiLcd criLical and cxplanaLory orcc
and is likcly Lo impcdc singular rcsponsc-abiliLy. Indccd, Lhc privi-
lcging o pcrccpLion can scrvc as an cLhically and poliLically dangcr-
ous covcring ovcr o Lhc acL LhaL Lhc unLcsLcd and undcrLhcorizcd
assumpLions undcrlying Lhc qucsL or mcaning, or Lhc dcsirc Lo aL-
LribuLc mcaning Lo an cvcnLs singulariLy, rcducc Lhc cvcnLs com-
plcxiLy Lo an (moralizing) cxplanaLion.
Adorno suggcsLs LhaL posiLion Laking, or judgmcnL, is iLscl
Lhc problcm, noL Lhc soluLioneven i Lhc posiLion is a poliLically
admirablc onc. Hcncc, hc counLcrs, or insLancc, Lhc ccl-good
gloricaLion o undcrdogs (i.c., Lhc judgmcnL LhaL undcrdogs arc
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:
somchow morally bcLLcr and Lhus dcscrving o supporL) wiLh onc
o his LrcnchanL, chiasmic aphorisms: gloricaLion o splcndid
undcrdogs is noLhing oLhcr Lhan Lhc gloricaLion o Lhc splcndid
sysLcm LhaL makcs Lhcm so (Mnma Mora|a i8). Unlikc Lhc smug
judgmcnL o Lhc undcrdog as good and Lhc sysLcm as bad LhaL
accomplishcs noL much morc Lhan insLilling scl-saLisacLion in
Lhc onc passing Lhc allcgcdly bcnign judgmcnL, Adornos ncgaLivc
dialccLical inLcnsicaLion o Lhis judgmcnL suspcnds iL and Lhus
rcvcals in surprising ashion Lhc violcncc inhcring in Lhc logic o
judgmcnL iLscla logic LhaL is covcrcd ovcr and, in so doing, pcr-
pcLuaLcd and amplicd by Lhc vcry assumpLion o whaL appcars
Lo bc aL rsL a morally sound, i noL supcrior, posiLion Lo Lakc vis-
-vis Lhc opLion o rooLing or Lhc undcrdog or Lhc man.
PuL dicrcnLly, Lhc carclcss dcploymcnL o rcprcscnLaLional
languagc in Lhc orm o similcs and analogics cnorccs a culLurc
o judgmcnL raLhcr Lhan prompLing an invcsLigaLion o how val-
ucs uncLion. O coursc, I am noL suggcsLing LhaL wc can cvcr sLcp
ouLsidc Lhc rcalm o rcprcscnLaLion and Lhus judgmcnL, Lhough
I concss Lo sharing FoucaulLs drcam o a kind o criLicism LhaL
would noL Lry Lo judgc (Maskcd Philosophcr i6). RaLhcr,
because oj Lhc impossibiliLy o cscaping Lhis rcalm, iL maLLcrs all
Lhc morc how wc dcploy languagc, imagcs, and orms o judg-
mcnL. Or, as Frcdric 1amcson mighL say, Lhc qucsLion whcLhcr
rcprcscnLaLion is good or bad is irrclcvanL, as rcprcscnLaLion is
indicrcnL Lo how iL is judgcd, raLhcr, Lhc issuc is how rcprcscnLa-
Lion works.
2S
Civcn Lhc conLcmporary prcvalcncc o Lalking-hcad
sound-biLc pronounccmcnLs sold Lo us as insighLs inLo an cvcnL,
I suggcsL LhaL Lcachcrs o liLcraLurc and lm mighL Lry Lo hccd
DcIillos cncouragcmcnL Lo wriLc counLcr-narraLivcs. Howcvcr,
DcIillos cssay Lcachcs LhaL onc dcploys Lhcm producLivcly noL
by pronouncing whaL should bc LhoughL buL by asking again,
wiLh grcaLcr scriousncss and rigor Lhan cvcr bcorc, how imaging
cvcnLs can rcndcr visiblcseeab|ean cvcnL such as j/::, how
Lhc sLylc o cncounLcr maLLcrs aL lcasL as much as Lhc abiliLy Lo
dcclarc whaL happcncd. I havc suggcsLcd LhroughouL Lhis book
LhaL whaL I call masocriLicism is jusL such a sLylc o cncounLcr
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:
wiLh violcncc whosc rcsponsc-abiliLy inhcrcs in and dcrivcs rom
Lhc violcncc o an cvcnL iLscl.
DcIillos cssays nal sccLion providcs a subLlc casc in poinL.
Rccalling an imagc hc wiLncsscd onc monLh bcorc j/::, Lhc nar-
raLor dcscribcs Lhc busLling sccncry o Canal SLrccL aL sunscL, wiLh
Lhc pancLhnic swarm o shoppcrs, mcrchanLs, rcsidcnLs and pass-
crsby, wiLh a cw LourisLs as wcll (o). AmidsL Lhis hccLic capiLal-
isL cnvironmcnL Lhc narraLor now rccalls having sccn a woman on
a praycr rug, young and slcndcr, in a silk hcadscar. Fvcryonc is
busy buying and sclling, and no onc sccmcd much Lo noLicc hcr.
Tis woman, parLly conccalcd by a couplc o vcndors carLs, was
knccling, uppcr body piLchcd Loward Lhc cdgc o Lhc rug (o).
Whilc Lhc narraLor could havc casily madc Lhc praying woman inLo
an imagc akin Lo Lhc mcdia clichcs o Islamic undamcnLalism, hc
insLcad rcndcrs hcr visiblc as an inviLaLion or rcadcrs Lo Lhink o
Islam as an inLcnsicaLion o Lhc prcscnL raLhcr Lhan an archaic
holdovcr rom a disLanL pasL. InsLcad o having hcr pracLicc rcprc-
scnL Lhc FasLcrn oLhcr Lo Lhc WcsLcrn scl, hc ocrs Lhc womans
imagc as a linc o ighL dirccLcd aL a uLurc, a uLurc LhaL is inuscd
wiLh, noL opposcd Lo, Lhc orccs o Lhc pasL. For whilc Lhc woman
pracLiccs hcr rcligion in ways sccmingly rccognizablc Lo mcdia im-
agcs o undamcnLalism, shc docs so by cngagingindccd mobi-
lizingLhc globalizcd prcscnL.
Tc narraLor congurcs Lhc woman as inhabiLing a liminal
barcly pcrccpLiblcspacc on Lhc cdgc bcLwccn hcr rug and a
sLorcronL jusL a ooL and a hal rom hcr Lippcd hcad. TradiLion-
ally, praycr rugs includc a mrhab in Lhcir dcsign, an archcd clc-
mcnL rcprcscnLing Lhc praycr nichc in a mosquc LhaL indicaLcs Lhc
dirccLion o Mccca. Crucially, howcvcr, Lhc only locaLional guidc
Lhc young woman nccdcd was Lhc ManhaLLan grid (o). TaL is,
in Lhc praying womans bccoming-visiblc, global capiLalism docs
noL so much rcprcscnL a orcc Lo bc ovcrcomc as Lhc LcrrorisLs
appcar Lo bclicvc iL docs. InsLcad, Lhc woman uscs a consLiLuLivc
organizing principlc (Lhc grid) o whaL is oLcn considcrcd Lhc
hcarL o globalizaLion (ManhaLLan) Lo inhabiL hcr LradiLion in Lhc
prcscnL cnvironmcnL. AL Lhis momcnL, Lhcn, shc bccomcs visiblc
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:6
as inusing hcr capiLalisL surroundings wiLh a kind o spiriLualiLy
LhaL docs noL dcpcnd on rcprcscnLaLion in any orm.
InhabiLing a liminal spacc in which globalizaLion is shoL Lhrough
wiLh spiriLualiLy, and spiriLualiLy wiLh capiLalisL Lcchnology, Lhc
woman rcmains as unrccognizablc Lo Lhc busy ciLizcn-shoppcrs
as Lhc woman pushing a sLrollcr was Lo Lhc LcrrorisLs. Tis liminal
spaccs bccoming-visiblc Lriggcrs in Lhc narraLor, in Lhc posL-j/::
prcscnL, Lhc imagc o Lhc daily swccping Lakcn-or-granLcd grcaL-
ncss o Ncw York, a ciLy LhaL will accommodaLc cvcry languagc,
riLual, bclic, and opinion (o). BuL Lhis imagc is characLcrizcd
indccd cnablcdnoL so much by a libcral Lolcrancc or dicrcncc
as by Lhc vcry abscncc o rccogniLion. I iL wcrc mcrcly a maLLcr o
Lolcrancc, o opcn-mindcdncss, dicrcncc would bc simply sccond-
ary Lo Lhc logic o rcprcscnLaLion or idcnLiLy (Lhc scl-oLhcr dialcc-
Lic): dicrcncc cxisLs Lhcn only bccausc subjccLs rccognizc iL. BuL
DcIillo rhcLorically imagcs an onLological dicrcncc LhaL pcrsisLs
prior Lo a pluralisL poliLics o rccogniLion. NoL bcholdcn Lo subjcc-
Livc rccogniLion, Lhis onLological dicrcncc ncccssarily subsisLs as
an asubjccLivc dicrcnLiaLing orcc rclaLion (a bccoming in Lhc
Dclcuzcan scnsc) raLhcr Lhan as an idcnLiLy Lo bc rccognizcd and
labclcd as dicrcnL. Tc cLhical Lask, accordingly, is noL Lo rcprc-
scnL (i.c., rccognizc) dicrcncc buL Lo rcspond Lo iLs always alrcady
prcscnL orccs. Hcncc Lhc cssays nal imagc is Lhc cllowship wiLh
Lhc dcad rccallcd in praycr aL Mccca, a cllowship, a pracLicc, rc-
soundingly a rmcd by Lhc bilingual A||ahu akbar. Cod is grcaL
(o). Tis cllowship wiLh Lhc dcad is rccallcd Lhrough spccic prac-
Liccs LhaL LrcaL Lhc dcad noL as nonliving (rcprcscnLaLions o Lhcir
ormcr living sclvcs) buL as dcad, as nonrcprcscnLablc, as nonrcc-
ognizablc. BuL Lhough Lhc dcad arc LrcaLcd as nonrccognizablc,
Lhcy bccomc all Lhc morc seeab|e in Lhcir ongoing cvcnLncss.
Epilogue
As DcIillos rhcLorical acLualizaLion o a ncorcalisL modc o scc-
ing suggcsLs, liLcraLurc and lm can rcspond Lo Lhc conLcmpo-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:,
rary momcnLi Lhcy do noL prcsumc LhaL rcsponsc, or seeng
Lhc world, bcgins wiLh Lhc subjccL as a dcLachcd pcrccivcr. Tc
chancc, raLhcr, consisLs in Lhcir pausing in Lhc spacc wiLhin which
imagcs arc madc Lo circulaLc, Lhus provoking a suspcnsion o judg-
mcnL wiLhouL which, as a characLcr in Cty oj C|ass says, youll
ncvcr gcL anywhcrc (AusLcr ij). Convcrscly, i wc dcmand LhaL
liLcraLurc or lm spcak Lo Lhc world wc livc in, wc cannoL dcmand
Lhcsc mcdia do so by (accuraLcly or jusLly) rcprcscnLing j/::,
or any oLhcr cvcnL.
In conLrasL, as I havc hopcd Lo illusLraLc LhroughouL Lhis book,
masocriLically orcgrounding Lhc sLylcLhc cLhical howo
rcsponsc slows down Lhc impcLus Lo dcclarc whaL an cvcnL is.
Tis impcLus supposcs LhaL an cvcnL such as j/:: conLains an
csscncc, a rcprcscnLaLional LruLh LhaL musL bc voiccdrcprc-
scnLcdby Lhc pcrcciving subjccL. And sincc LruLh, as NicLzschc
Lcachcs, mainly opcraLcs on a moral rcgisLcr, Lhc dcmand Lo say
whaLs whaL is incviLably a dcmand or judgmcnL, or a rming a
corrccL moraliLycvcn in Lhc abscncc o a languagc cxpliciLly
couchcd in Lhc rhcLoric o judgmcnL. DcIillos sLylc o rcsponsc,
his acsLhcLic sLancc, rcuscs Lo hypoLhcsizc an csscncc o j/::,
Loward which a subjccL musL subscqucnLly assumc a clcar posi-
Lion. InsLcad o consLiLuLing a corrccL sLandpoinL Lo bc dccndcd,
DcIillos rcconguraLion o rcsponsc as an acsLhcLic sLanccas
rcsponsc-abiliLysuggcsLs LhaL rcsponsc is abouL a mood, a
rhyLhm, or a capaciLy Lo givc oncscl ovcr Lo Lhc primacy o Lhc
cvcnL.
DcIillos masocriLical orcgrounding o Lhc cvcnLs howiLs
orcc rclaLions raLhcr Lhan iLs mcaningLcmporarily dccrs Lhc
cndlcss prolicraLion o judgmcnLs bascd on hasLy answcrs Lo Lhc
qucsLion o whaL, inLcrrupLing a spccic modc o posiLion Laking
LhaL, as DcIillo shows, mighL havc parLially produccd Lhc con-
diLions or j/::.
20
Dccrring judgmcnL, howcvcr, docs not mcan
advocaLing moral rclaLivism.
30
Dccrral docs noL mcan Lo sLcp
ouLsidc, as i onc cvcr could ully cscapc judgmcnLs cluLchcs.
RaLhcr, Lo dccr, undcrsLood in Lhc masocriLical Lcrms I havc ar-
gucd or LhroughouL, is Lo suspend. ALLcnding Lo Lhc cvcnLs how
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:8
suspcnds Lhc cvcnL. Asking how Lhc cvcnL works and whaL iL docs
crcaLcs a suspcnscul rhyLhm LhaL mighL pcdagogically uncLion
Lo slow down Lhc rapid spccd o judgmcnLnoL in ordcr Lo cs-
capc judgmcnL, buL in ordcr Lo cxaminc Lhc valuc o valuc iLscl.
BuL suspcnding Lhc cvcnL in ordcr Lo dccr judgmcnL is noL
avoiding Laking a sLancc, raLhcr, iL is Laking a sLancc LhaL, para-
doxically, is no sLancc aL all. As opposcd Lo posiLion Laking LhaL
ncccssarily prcsumcs Lhc spcaking subjccLs pcrccpLual masLcry
o Lhc cvcnL, which is Lhcn a rmcd as a gcncraliLyas Lhc righL
way o sccing or rcprcscnLing iLa sLancc as suspcnsion puLs Lhc
vcry capaciLy Lo pcrccivc aL sLakc. DicrcnLly puL, Lhc poliLically
corrccL dcmand or Laking a posiLion (prccrably Lhc corrccL, al-
lcgcdly moral onc) is cxprcssivc o Lhc acadcmic or criLical proj-
ccL o cnlighLcnmcnL and dcmysLicaLion (i.c., idcology criLiquc
in whaLcvcr orm) LhaL, as Kriss RavcLLo cogcnLly wriLcs, acLually
hidcs Lhc violcncc o Lhc criLic prcciscly bccausc such posiLion
Laking (no maLLcr how good Lhc causc or which onc Lakcs Lhis po-
siLion is) incviLably rcduccs Lhc scnsaLion o Lhc cincmaLic, liLcr-
ary, culLural, or any cvcnL (including so-callcd rcal-world cvcnLs)
Lo a scL o prcdcLcrmincd LhcorcLical cccLs in ordcr Lo sccurc or
[Lhc criLic] Lhc a rmaLivc posiLion o acadcmic subjccLiviLy (i).
Far rom sLanding ouLsidc o and in opposiLion Lo such violcncc,
such criLical projccLs acLually inLcnsiy LhaL which Lhcy wanL Lo
opposc by pcrpcLuaLing Lhc violcncc inhcrcnL Lo Lhcir own criLical
subjccLiviLy. Whilc iL musL bc cmphasizcd LhaL Lhc violcncc o a
liLcrary or cincmaLic cvcnL, lcL alonc LhaL o an cvcnL such as j/::,
is noL Lhc samc as Lhc violcncc pcrpcLuaLcd by criLical posiLions
groundcd in rcprcscnLaLionalism, Lhc laLLcr ncvcrLhclcss cannoL
buL ail aL accomplishing iLs goal o lcsscning violcncc prcciscly
bccausc iL iLscl adds (howcvcr uninLcnLionally) morc violcncc Lo
Lhc spccic cnvironmcnL wiLhin which iL opcraLcs.
O coursc, onc o Lhis books ccnLral poinLs has bccn Lo insisL
LhaL violcnccs arc cvcrywhcrc and LhaL Lhcrcorc Lhc Lask or
criLicism can ncvcr bc Lo gcL away rom Violcncc, raLhcr, Lhc rcal
qucsLions Lo ask arc always, whaL kind o violcnccs arc bcing c-
ccLcd in whaL manncr, how do such violcnccs work, and whaL do
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future i:j
Lhcy cnd up doing` I havc bccn conLcnding LhroughouL LhaL such
qucsLions arc absoluLcly ncccssary Lo ask (on cLhical grounds) buL
LhaL Lhcy arc bcing blockcd by rcprcscnLaLionalisL assumpLions.
Tc cccL o such blockagc is LhaL Lhc violcncc aL hand noL only
rcmains unaccLcd (bccausc iL docs noL carc whaL kind o judg-
mcnL onc passcs on iL) buL acLually is capablc o cxLcnding iLs
cccLiviLy whcn approachcd Lhrough a rcprcscnLaLionalisL poinL
o vicw. IL managcs Lo do so prcciscly bccausc Lhc laLLcr scrvcs
as an inLcnsicr or Lhc vcry violcncc iL claims Lo bc morally op-
poscd Lo. Tis is why I havc bccn arguing LhroughouL LhaL Lhc
criLical Lask or an cngagcmcnL wiLh violcncc in whaLcvcr orm is
Lo inhabiL a sLylc o rcsponsc LhaL is characLcrisLic o masochism,
namcly, iLs logic o suspcnsion. Tis is a logic LhaL cmbraccs such
masochisLic dccrral (which is noL Lhc samc as closc rcading or
jusL good old ashioncd criLical Lhinking, boLh o which prcsumc
Lhc primacy o Lhc subjccL) bccausc iL subjccLs iLscl Lo Lhc orcc
o FoucaulLs diagnosLic insighL LhaL noL cvcryLhing is bad buL
LhaL cvcryLhing is dangcrous (Ccncalogy o FLhics i:i).
Tis insighL calls or a modc o cncounLcring Lhc world LhaL in-
Lcnsivcly invcsLs in Lhc opcraLion o seeng Lhis dangcr, o Laking
an inLcnsc look aL iL and kccp on doing sonoL in ordcr Lo judgc
Lhis dangcr, buL in Lhc hopc o rclaying iLs orccs, o Lransorm-
ing Lhcm Lhrough an immancnL cngagcmcnL wiLh Lhcm. Such a
LransormaLion, o coursc, would ncccssarily consisL o a doublc-
bccoming o boLh subjccL and objccL: n Lhis inLcnsivc look aL Lhc
dangcr Lhc onc who looks bccomcs-oLhcrwisc Lo himscl jusL as
Lhc orccs o Lhis dangcr arc rccongurcd, rcdcploycd, and Lhus
madc oLhcr Lo Lhcir prior LcrriLorializaLion.
MasocriLical suspcnsion consLiLuLcs an immancnL modc o
rcsponsc LhaL hccds Lhc cvcnLs irrcduciblc singulariLy, whcrcas
rcprcscnLaLionalisL judgmcnL iLscl bcgins rom ouLsidc Lhc ob-
jccL or cvcnL Lo bc judgcd, and Lhc judging subjccL siLs sacly siLu-
aLcd aar or abovcunaccLcd and, allcgcdly, objccLivc.
3l
PuL di-
crcnLly, judgmcnL qua suspcnsc consLiLuLcs an immancnL modc
o rcsponsc. As such, Lhc ccnLral qucsLion Lo ask o an cvcnL is
noL abouL whaL oncs judgmcnL o iL should bc buL how rcsponsc-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future iio
abiliLy iLscl is congurcd by Lhc cvcnLLhc answcr Lo which is
always singular in LhaL iL dcpcnds, prcciscly, on Lhc cvcnL iLscl,
as I dcmonsLraLcd Lhrough Lhc cascs o HighsmiLhs cLion and
DcNiros acLing, noL Lo mcnLion DcIillos cssay on j/::. Suspcn-
sion, in Lhis scnsc, docs noL promisc Lo rcsulL in a posiLivc Lcrm,
as docs Lhc suspcnsc immancnL Lo a dialccLical sublaLion. InsLcad,
Lhis suspcnsc works only re|atona||y, akin Lo Dclcuzcs masochis-
Lic sympLomaLology as wcll as Adornos ncgaLivc dialccLic. Rccall
LhaL, againsL Lhc Hcgclian dialccLics (Lhc csscncc o which clcarly
conLinucs Lo dominaLc criLical pracLicc Loday) LhaL sublaLcs a posi-
Livc Lcrm rom Lhc opposiLion o Lwo ncgaLivc oncs, Adorno casLs
ncgaLivc dialccLics as a criLical opcraLion LhaL procccds chiasmi-
cally wiLh Lhc rcsulL LhaL iL ncvcr arrivcs aL Lhc momcnL o rcsolu-
Lion buL insLcad prolically produccs ncw conccpLs, LhoughLs, and
anglcs o cnLry or social diagnosis. As Adorno wriLcs, Lo changc
[Lhc Hcgclian] dirccLion o conccpLualiLy, Lo givc iL a Lurn Loward
nonidcnLiLy, is Lhc hingc o ncgaLivc dialccLics. InsighL inLo Lhc
consLiLuLivc characLcr o Lhc nonconccpLual in Lhc conccpL would
cnd Lhc compulsivc idcnLicaLion which Lhc conccpL brings un-
lcss halLcd by such rcccLion. RcccLion upon iLs own mcaning is
Lhc way ouL o Lhc conccpLs sccming bcing-in-iLscl as a uniL o
mcaning (Negatve La|ectcs :i).
O coursc, Lhcrc arc imporLanL dicrcnccs bcLwccn Adorno
and Dclcuzc. For insLancc, onc o Lhc dicrcnccs bcLwccn Lhcir
mcLhods mighL lic in how Lhcy congurc dicrcnLly Lhc qucs-
Lion o how docs iL work` Whcrcas or Dclcuzc Lhis qucsLion
uncLions always alrcady as linkagc (how docs iL work` is always
a qucsLion o doing and LransormaLion in Dclcuzcs hands), in
Adornos casc iL is pcrhaps lcss clcar whcLhcr Lhc qucsLion o
work acLually Lransorms inLo a qucsLion o doing or going
clscwhcrc. BuL whaLcvcr Lhc dicrcnccs bcLwccn Dclcuzc and
Adornos immancnL diagnosLics may bc, boLh Lcach us LhaL wc can-
noL bcgin an cncounLcr wiLh an cvcnL assuming LhaL Lhc subjccL
gcLs Lo choosc whaL an objccL or cvcnL is. RaLhcr, boLh Adorno
and Dclcuzc congurc somcLhing likc a sLancc only Lhrough a
conLracL: Lhc conLracL govcrning Lhc masochisLic cconomy or
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ii:
Lhc chiasmic rhyLhm characLcrisLic o ncgaLivc dialccLics. BoLh
carcully rcgulaLc Lhc cncounLcr wiLh Lhc oLhcr by giving primacy
Lo Lhc oLhcr, which is quiLc dicrcnL rom Lhc rcprcscnLaLionalisL
projccL o inhabiLing Lhc spacc o Lhc oLhcr Lhrough mcdiaLion
or in mcdiaLcd ashion. ConscqucnLly, Dclcuzc and Adornos di-
agnosLics cmphasizc Lhc producton o uLurc cvcnLs LhaL arc noL
prcgivcn by Lhc Lcrms o Lhc conLracLsor diagnosLicsLhcm-
sclvcs. Tcsc uLurc cvcnLs manicsL Lhcmsclvcs only in and
Lhrough Lhcir immancnL rclaLions, in Lhcir cccLsaccLivcly.
32
ImporLanLly, Lhc masochisL, likc Lhc ncgaLivc dialccLician,
docs noL prcLcnd Lo cscapc Lhc orcc o judgmcnL: a violaLion o
Lhc conLracL docs noL Lcnd Lo bc a good Lhing and can indccd bc
plain dangcrous and Lhus undcsirablc. YcL, judgmcnL is noL Lhc
poinL o Lhcir modcs o cncounLcr. InsLcad, nding ouL how somc-
Lhing works and whaL iL docs, as wcll as whaL LransormaLional
rclays can bc orgcd through Lhc cncounLcr, consLiLuLcs Lhcir
diagnosLic ocus, onc LhaL by dcniLion sLrcsscs Lhc producLivc
componcnL o any cncounLcr raLhcr Lhan Lhc rcproducLivc onc.
Tcy boLh aim aL Lhc world wiLhouL prcLcnding Lo know whaL iL
is, raLhcr Lhan LrcaLing iL as a knowablc objccL. Prcciscly bccausc
nciLhcr Dclcuzcs sympLomaLology nor Adornos ncgaLivc dialcc-
Lics is parLicularly inLcrcsLcd in cpisLcmology do Lhcy downplay
(Lo dicrcnL dcgrccs) Lhc rolc o consciousncss and insLcad am-
pliy Lhc asigniying orcc o signalcLic maLcrial.
Tc ncccssiLy o Lhinking o imagc proccsscs as prcscnLing a
sLancc LhaL acsLhcLically aims aL Lhc world raLhcr Lhan rcprcscnLs
iL (as docs mosL public discoursc as wcll as liLcrary and lm criLi-
cism, as I hopc Lo havc convincingly shown in Lhis book) is, -
nally, whaL conccrncd us LhroughouL Lhis projccL, which, as I sug-
gcsLcd in Lhc prcacc, mighL bcsL bc considcrcd an expermenta|
cncounLcr wiLh Lhc qucsLion o how Lo rcspond Lo violcncc. IL is
worLh mcnLioning LhaL in DcIillos casc, his cssayisLic rcsponsc
Lo j/::, which occurs primarily on an acsLhcLic buL Lhcrcorc, as I
argucd, a prooundly cLhical lcvcl, alrcady accLcd Lhc producLion
o Ulrich Bacrs ::o Stores, which, Lo Lhis daLc, sLrikcs mc as Lhc
mosL inLcrcsLing collccLion o sLorics rcsponding Lo j/::. Bacr in-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future iii
Lroduccs Lhc collccLion wiLh a ccnLral rccrcncc Lo DcIillos cssay,
arguing LhaL In Lhc Ruins idcnLicd Lhc Lask aL hand: Lo givc
mcmory, Lcndcrncss, and mcaning Lo all LhaL howling spacc (:).
Hc Lhcn procccds Lo dcsignaLc Lhc books Lask o rcsponding Lo
j/:: as not giving inLo a rhcLoric o Lhc incomprchcnsiblc (i).
In so doing, hc mighL vcry wcll bc indcxing Lhc Bazinian conccp-
Lion o seeng as I showcd iL Lo opcraLc in such crucial ashion in
DcIillos cssay.
PuL dicrcnLly, Lhc onc Lhing ::o Stores Lrics Lo avoid is rc-
coursc Lo Lhc incomprchcnsiblc or Lhc sublimc. Whcrcas Lhc sub-
limc namcs or KanL Lhc Lhing in iLscl, which Lransccnds and Lhus
pcrsisLs ouLsidc o Lhc rcalm o rcprcscnLaLion, or posL-KanLians
such as Slavoj ick and Kaja Silvcrman Lhc sublimc connoLcs Lhc
Lhing in iLscl as radical ncgaLiviLy. For Lhcm, Lhc impossibiliLy Lo
cxpcricncc Lhc Lhing s Lhc Lhing in iLscl in iLs radical ncgaLiviLy.
Accordingly, Lhc problcm wiLh rcprcscnLaLion is noL, as iL was or
KanL, LhaL iL rcduccs rcaliLy (LhaL, or insLancc, j/:: cannoL bc
rcprcscnLcd jusLly) buL LhaL iL allows or a posiLivc cnLiLy Lo cxisL
bcyond phcnomcnal rcprcscnLaLion (i.c., j/:: can bc cxpcricnccd
only in rcprcscnLaLion).
33
In conLrasL, or DcIillo Lhc problcm wiLh rcprcscnLaLion is a
maLLcr o spccd: rcprcscnLaLion is always Loo asL, posiLioning
iLscl as a causc whcn iL is mcrcly an cccL o a scrics o orccs
acLing upon onc anoLhcr.
34
RcprcscnLaLions arc apparaLuscs o
capLurc LhaL assign mcaning Lo an cvcnL in accordancc wiLh Lhc
Lypc o orccs LhaL producc Lhcsc rcprcscnLaLions. ConscqucnLly,
or DcIillo and Bacr, as wcll as Bazin or whom Lhc world is,
quiLc simply, bcorc iL is somcLhing Lo bc condcmncd (i:i:), Lhc
criLical Lask is Lo rcndcr visiblc Lhc acLs o sccing LhaL gcncraLc
spccic rcprcscnLaLions, noL Lo dcclarc, mourn, dcny, or judgc Lhc
(im)possibiliLy o rcprcscnLing or aLLaining Lhc Rcal.
DcIillos cssay, likc Lhc collccLion cdiLcd by Bacr, dcmonsLraLcs
Lhc impossibiliLy o saying anyLhing dcniLivc abouL j/::cspc-
cially anyLhing LhaL capLurcs Lhc cvcnLs mcaning. DcIillos wriL-
crly cyc insLcad ocuscs on Lhc aectve qualiLy o Lhc cvcnLs sin-
gulariLy and on how languagc can sLylisLically imagc and, in Lhc
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ii
proccss, rccongurc whaL iL mcans or conLcmporary LhoughL Lo
rcspond cLhically Lo whaLcvcr Lhc cvcnLs violcnL conLcnL mighL
bc(comc).
TaL such a modc o rcsponsc cannoL bc Lakcn or granLcd,
howcvcr, bccomcs immcdiaLcly obvious whcn considcring, or
insLancc, icks Wclcomc Lo Lhc DcscrL o Lhc Rcal. icks cx-
Lcndcd cssay on j/:: prcdicLably posiLs Lhc dcscrL o Lhc rcal
as Lhc mcaning o Lhc cvcnL. TaL is, similar Lo whaL Lranspircs
in Lhc conLcmporary Hollywood lm Te Matrx (dir. Andy and
Iarry Wachowski, :jjj), according Lo Lhc Iacanian culLural Lhco-
risL, j/:: has nally rcvcalcd Lhc Lruc whaL-ncss undcrncaLh
an Amcrica corrupLcd by Hollywood (ick, Wclcomc). ick,
who has candidly admiLLcd Lo oLcn noL rcading or vicwing whaL
hc is wriLing abouL (Philosophcr i,i), likcns Lhc cvcnL Lo a Hol-
lywood lm. In my vicw, icks rccoursc Lo Lhc rcprcscnLaLional
languagc o rcscmblancc noL only consLiLuLcs a lazy way ouL o a
morc carcul diagnosLic o Lhc cvcnL buL also lcads ick Lo rclish
in a ccrLain Lonc o Schadenjreude, as whcn hc suggcsLs LhaL Lhc
unLhinkablc which happcncd was Lhus Lhc objccL o anLasy: in a
way, Amcrica goL whaL iL anLasizcd abouL, and Lhis was Lhc grcaL-
csL surprisc (Wclcomc). IL sccms Lo mc LhaL onc mighL wanL
Lo Lakc his admission LhaL hc has aL Limcs wriLLcn abouL whaL
hc has noL rcad or vicwcd morc scriously Lhan Lo chalk iL up Lo
Lhc quirky admission o a amous inLcllccLual, cspccially givcn his
inucncc on acadcmic sLudics o imagcs. I wondcr, or insLancc,
whcLhcr Lhcrc mighL noL bc a sLrucLural connccLion bcLwccn Lhc
bclic LhaL onc docs noL cvcn havc Lo look aL whaL onc cngagcs
and rcading imagcs as rcprcscnLaLional anLasics.
DcIillo, howcvcr, looks vcry carcully aL Lhis cvcnL. Tis is why
I Lhink LhaL aLLcnding Lo DcIillos rcmarkablc rcsponsc Lo j/::
can Lcach much Lo Lhosc who cngagc imagcs pcdagogically in Lhc
classroompcrhaps currcnLly Lhc only rcal sphcrc o inucncc
liLcraLurc and lm scholars havc lcL in a social spacc dominaLcd
by aLLiLudcs displaying indicrcncc and cvcn hosLiliLy Lo Lhc lib-
cral arLs. TaL is, carcully hccding how DcIillo rcsponds Lo j/::
mighL provc ruiLul in LhaL iL orgcs an cxpliciL connccLion bc-
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ii
Lwccn Lhc rcalm o lm/liLcraLurc and nonimaginary, rcal-world
violcncc, which is why I chosc Lo cnd Lhis book wiLh my analysis
o DcIillos bric cssay. TaL Lhis analysis assumcs an cxLcnL LhaL
sccmingly sLands in disproporLionaLc rclaLion Lo Lhc lcngLh o
DcIillos LcxL was inLcndcd as onc nal pcrormaLivc insLanLia-
Lion o Lhc vcry modc o masocriLical rcsponsc-abiliLy I havc bccn
Lhcorizing LhroughouL. A kcy poinL o my analysis o DcIillos cs-
say was prcciscly Lhc logic o dccrral (including LhaL o my own
analysis), o suspcnsco inhabiLing Lhc inLcrsLiccs Lhcmsclvcs
as a mcans bcLLcr Lo prolong Lhc momcnL o cncounLcr wiLh Lhc
objccL and Lo kccp aL bay as long as possiblc Lhc (incviLablc) rc-
Lurn Lo Lhc sccondary lcvcl o rcprcscnLaLion and Lhus judgmcnL.
ImporLanLly, Lhis inLcnsicaLion o DcIillos cssay iLscl camc
wiLh an amounL o violcnL accL produccd by my vcry rcsponsc
Lo iL. Tis accL is Lhc cccL o Lhc violcncc I did Lo his LcxL (as
wcll as Lo Lhc oLhcr LcxLs I discusscd LhroughouL Lhis book)LhaL
is, iL was inLcndcd as an cxamplc o Lhc violcncc commiLLcd by
Lhc criLic LhaL, qua criLical violcncc, ncvcr (so I hopc) prcLcndcd
Lo bc anyLhing buL a criLical dcploymcnL o violcncc as wcll as a
violcnL dcploymcnL o criLical orcc. WhaL maLLcrcd Lo mc was
noL Lo cscapc Lhc violcncc o, or cxprcsscd by, an objccL buL Lo
orgc immancnL rclaLions wiLh iL.
Howcvcr, orging Lhis connccLion bcLwccn lm or liLcraLurc
and nonimaginary, rcal-world violcncc docs noL so much ascribc
a privilcgcd spacc Lo lm and liLcraLurc as illusLraLc how Lhc Lools
Lhcy ocr can bc uscd Lo cncounLcr rcal-world violcncc in such a
manncr LhaL Lhc laLLcr mainLains iLs irrcduciblc singulariLy. And
iL sccms Lo mc LhaL hccding violcnccs singulariLicscxprcsscd
by Lhc ormula violcnccs, noL Violcnccis a ncccssary rcquirc-
mcnL or any cngagcmcnL wiLh violcnL cxprcssions, rcal or imagcd
(wiLh imagcs undcrsLood, in any casc, noL as rcccLions o rcaliLy
buL Lhc rcaliLy o a rcccLion, as onc o Lhc IcninisL-MarxisL
rcvoluLionarics in Codards La Chnose [:j6,] has iL), LhaL hopcs
Lo avoid somc o Lhc morc obvious shorLcomings o cxisLing aca-
dcmic and popular LrcaLmcnLs o violcnL LcxLs and cvcnLs.
WhaLcvcr uLurc rcsponscs cLion and lm will givc Lo j/::
Lon LeL||os !n the Runs oj the Future ii
and Lo violcncc in gcncral, in all iLs various guiscsLhc di culL
Lask aL hand is Lo do so wiLhouL rcducing iL Lo a moralisLic lcsson.
DcIillos cssay, I bclicvc, providcs us wiLh a poLcnLial pcdagogical
rccipc or producing uLurc rcsponscs (an cncouraging cxamplc
bcing ::o Stores), jusL as HighsmiLhs cLion, DcNiros scrccn
acLing, and Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs lms do in pcrhaps slighLly morc
impliciL ways. WhaL i, Lhcy all ask, wc wcrc Lo Lakc scriously Lhc
(violcnL) cvcnL qua cvcnL, in iLs singulariLy, iLs unrcprcscnLabil-
iLy in languagc bccausc iL is noL o languagc` Tcy all rcpcaLcdly
wondcr, WhaL i Lhc cvcnL wcrc likc Lhis, Lhcn whaL` Or i iL wcrc
oLhcrwisc, Lhcn whaL`
In shorL, Lhc ruins o Lhc uLurc arLiculaLcd by DcIillos cssay
arc Lhc ruins o rcprcscnLaLional languagc. TroughouL Lhis book,
I havc bccn arguing or Lhc imporLancc o Laking scriously Lhis
ruin, or masocriLically cncounLcring signalcLic maLcrialsvio-
lcnL in whaLcvcr orm and shapcas arcprcscnLaLional, rhcLori-
cal provocaLions raLhcr Lhan signiying vcsscls. YcL, sincc rcprc-
scnLaLional languagc is Lhc (only`) onc wc havc, asking again how
Lo usc iL mighL noL bc a bad sLarLing placc or inLcrvcning in Lhc
world, or seeng iL again, and, onc hopcs, or acLing on iL or Lhc
bcncL o a Limc Lo comc (NicLzschc, Uscs and DisadvanLagcs
6o).
. Te Violence of Sensation
:. I should clariy LhaL I considcr (violcnL) imagcs rcal as wcll. Tcy
havc Lhcir own rcaliLy and Lhcrcorc arc noL in opposiLion Lo rcal vio-
lcncc: Lhc rcaliLy o imagcs and Lhc rcaliLy o, say, murdcr, cxisL as di-
crcnL cvcnLs on Lhc samc planc o immancncc.
i. O coursc, rcal acLs o violcncc arc conLrovcrsial as wcll. Considcr
Lhc conLrovcrsy spawncd by RcuLcrs or Lhc ssc, which aL onc Limc or an-
oLhcr rcuscd Lo usc Lhc Lcrm LcrrorisL whcn Lalking abouL Lhc pcoplc
rcsponsiblc or Lhc aLLacks o j/:: or Lhc violcncc pcrpcLraLcd againsL Is-
raclis: clcarly, somconcs LcrrorisL wiLhouL any lcgiLimaLc causc is a rcc-
dom ghLcr Lo somconc clsc. WiLhouL inLcnding Lo cndorsc onc or Lhc
oLhcr labcl, I simply wanL Lo acknowlcdgc Lhc obvious: cvcn rcal violcncc
consisLcnLly rcccivcs dicrcnL rcsponscs. Howcvcr, I am primarily going
Lo ocus on violcnL mages Lakcn rom Amcrican liLcraLurc and cincma,
which is why, rom hcrc on, I will noL conLinuc Lo rccr Lo rcal violcncc
unlcss Lhc conLcxL obviously dcmands iL.
. QuiLc obviously, Lhc Cocns playully cngagc gcnrc convcnLions
LhroughouL Lhcir work. In addiLion Lo Lhcir nco-noirlikc rcworking o
lm noir and pulp cLion gcnrc convcnLions, considcr also !nto|erab|e
Crue|ty (ioo), which is Lhcir aLLcmpL Lo rcacLivaLc Lhc classical Holly-
wood comcdy o rcmarriagc subgcnrc or Lhc posLmodcrn agc, as wcll
as Lhcir rcmakc o onc o Lhc bcsL-known Faling comcdics, Te Ladyk||-
ers (ioo, original dir. Alcxandcr Mackcndrick, :j). Scc FosLcr Hirshs
Letours and Lost Hghways or a comprchcnsivc discussion o nco-noir,
SLanlcy Cavclls Pursuts oj Happness or morc on comcdics o rcmarriagc
in Hollywood lms o Lhc :jos, and R. BarLon Palmcrs 1oe| and Fthan
Coen or an cxLcndcd discussion o Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs as posLmodcrn
lmmakcrs.
. For Dclcuzc and CuaLLaris mosL cxLcnsivc discussion o Lhc body
wiLhouL organs, scc A Tousand P|ateaus :j66.
. Wc mighL also ramc Lhis disLincLion in Lcrms analogous Lo Lhc di-
crcncc bcLwccn Lhc Limc-imagc and Lhc movcmcnL-imagc, rcspccLivcly,
LhaL Dclcuzc maps ouL in his Lwo cincma books. Civcn Lhc omniprcscncc
o scnsaLional violcncc in conLcmporary mcdia culLurc, Bacons sLraL-
cgy or cngaging violcncc appcars Lo bc onc o slowing down raLhcr
Lhan spccding up violcncc. I Loday wc indccd acc an cxccss o kincLic
violcncc Lhcn pcrhaps Lhc bcsL way Lo conronL violcncc is by making vio-
lcnL scnsaLions movc ntensve|y raLhcr Lhan extensve|y. Bacons parLicu-
lar sLraLcgy mighL bc LhoughL o as parallcling Lhc cincmaLic acsLhcLic o
dirccLors such as ViLLorio DcSica (Te Pcyc|e Tej, :j8), Alain Rcsnais
(Hroshma Mon Amour, :jj), or Chris Markcr (La 1etee, :j6i), who all
prccr Lo slow down Lhcir rcspccLivc narraLivcs in ordcr Lo rcndcr visiblc
Lhc sensaton o violcncc.
6. Tc uncLion o color in Lhc Cocn BroLhcrs work dcscrvcs a longcr
sLudy in iLs own righL. 1usL rccall Lhc dominanL color schcmcs o Lhcir
lms such as Lhc rcd in P|ood Smp|e (:j8) and Parton Fnk (:jjo), Lhc
whiLc in Fargo (:jj6), Lhc ycllow in O Prother, where Art Tou (:jj8), or
Lhc luminous, impcccablc black and whiLc in Te Man who wasnt Tere
(ioo:) LhaL visually rcndcrs Lhis lm as morc noir Lhan original lm
noir cvcr was.
,. For Lhc bcsL rcccnL sLudics o violcncc in lm scc Barkcr and PcL-
lcy, ScharrcLL, Princc, Screenng vo|ence, Slocum, vo|ence n Amercan
Cnema, Schncidcr, and Cormlcy. For sLudics o violcncc in Amcrican
liLcraLurc, scc Kowalcwski, SloLkin, and Cilcs. IL should bc poinLcd ouL
LhaL lm sLudics Lcnds Lo cxpcnd considcrably morc cncrgy on sLudy-
ing violcnL imagcs Lhan liLcrary sLudics, possibly bccausc o Lhc com-
monly hcld pcrccpLion LhaL violcncc in Lhc mcdia (including cincma) has
morc immcdiaLc (ncgaLivc) cccLs on an audicncc Lhan violcnL liLcrary
imagcs. Tc work o SLcphcn Princc, wiLh iLs sLrong appcal Lo Lhc nd-
ings o Lhc social scicnccs as wcll as cogniLivism, is parLicularly noLc-
worLhy. Opposing Lhc mcrcly inLcrprcLaLivc ramcworks LhaL havc liLcr-
ary currcncy (Film Scholars s:8), Princcs work is aL Lhc orcronL o
Lhc largcr posL-Lhcory aLLack on so-callcd Crand Tcory in lm sLudics
iniLiaLcd by David Bordwcll and Nocl Carrolls landmark volumc Post-
Teory. Bordwcll was onc o Lhc rsL lm scholars Lo Lurn Lo cogniLivism
as a paradigm or lm sLudics (scc his Casc or CogniLivism).
8. Criminal characLcrs sLrugglc wiLh chancc in many o Lhc Cocns
lms. Tink, or insLancc, o Fargo or Te Ladyk||ers.
j. Caspars scnsc o moraliLy is unconvcnLional only Lo Lhc dcgrcc
Notes to pages 6:i ii8
iij
LhaL convcnLional moraliLy docs noL Lcnd Lo arguc in avor o chcaLing.
YcL, cvcn Lhis is qucsLionablc in an agc o globalizcd corporaLc raud LhaL
consLiLuLcs noL so much a bad applc cxccpLion Lo Lhc rulc o morally
good capiLalism Lhan iLs mosL inLcnsicd insLanLiaLion. ALcr all, aL Lhc
hcighL o Lhc inLcrncL boom in Lhc mid Lo laLc :jjos, all sharc holdcrs
wanLcd was or Lhc companics ccos Lo drivc up Lhc sLock priccs, Lhus
incrcasing sharc holdcrs pcrsonal proLs. No onc rcally boLhcrcd Lo Lcll
Lhosc ccos noL Lo usc illcgal mcLhods, which bccamc a problcm on|y oncc
Lhcsc companicsand conscqucnLly Lhcir sharc holdcrsincurrcd mas-
sivc nancial losscs.
:o. Caspars cLhics arc Lhoroughly capiLalisL. As hc clcarly bclicvcs,
Lhcrc arc pcoplc who havc cLhics, and Lhcrc arc Lhosc (including Bcrnic)
who do noL. NoL only docs Lhis sLaLic, posscssivc, conccpLion o cLhics
sLarkly conLrasL wiLh Lhc pcrormaLivc cLhics Lhcorizcd by 1crcy T. Nc-
alon and cincmaLically mobilizcd by Lhc Cocns, buL iL also would sccm LhaL
iL provokcs us Lo considcr Lhc inhcrcnL violcncc o capiLalism as such.
::. A wholc caLcgory LhaL could bc Lcrmcd clichcs alrcady lls Lhc
canvas, bcorc Lhc bcginning (Dclcuzc, Francs Pacon ,i).
:i. In acL, Lhc ovcrall impacL o Dclcuzcs rclaLivcly carly work Mas-
ochsm on his cnLirc ocuvrc has ycL Lo bc arLiculaLcd in sysLcmaLic ways
and surcly dcmands a longcr sLudy in iLs own righL.
:. In Dclcuzcs Masochsm, Lhc masochisL is always malc. Howcvcr,
scc Lhc work o Caylyn SLudlar or a cminisL appropriaLion o Dclcuzcs
scnsc o masochism. SLudlar allows or a cmalc masochism LhaL docs
noL ncccssarily sLand in a dialccLical rclaLionship Lo a malc sadisL (i.c., sa-
domasochism), as is Lhc casc in boLh Frcudian psychoanalysis and iLs ap-
propriaLion in canonical lm sLudics by cminisLs such as Iaura Mulvcy
(scc Visual Plcasurc and NarraLivc Cincma) or Kaja Silvcrman (scc, or
insLancc, hcr cssays Masochism and SubjccLiviLy and Masochism and
Malc SubjccLiviLy). Slavoj ick (An FLhical Plca) rcccnLly addrcsscd
masochism in cLhical Lcrms, buL dcspiLc his rccrcncc Lo Dclcuzcs book
on Lhc subjccL hc rcmains Lhoroughly aiLhul Lo psychoanalysis. For my
moncy, howcvcr, Lhc bcsL arLiculaLion o cincma as a masochisLic ccon-
omy can bc ound in SLcvcn Shaviros rcmarkablc Cnematc Pody.
:. For morc on Lhis, scc my cssay on Lhc lm rom which I havc
adapLcd Lhc currcnL discussion.
:. Kccp in mind, Lhough, LhaL any propcr scicnLic cxpcrimcnL is
bascd on, and works wiLh, rulcs. NciLhcr Lhc scicnLisL nor Lhc masochisL
is inLcrcsLcd in ciLhcr crcaLing chaos or blowing up Lhings.
Notes to pages :ii
:6. I will claboraLc on Lhc conccpL o sympLomaLology in Lhc ncxL
chapLcr.
:,. Or, as Lhc rhcLorician Richard Doylc is ond o saying, you havc
Lo run Lhc compuLcr program Lo know whcLhcr iL works.
. Judgment Is Not an Exit
:. Dcnnis Harvcy calls Flliss novcl arguably onc o Lhc mosL-loaLhcd
and lcasL-rcad novcls in rcccnL mcmory, likcwisc, KrisLcn Baldwin dc-
scribcs Flliss LcxL as onc o Lhc mosL shockingly violcnL novcls cvcr pub-
lishcd [ . . . ] Lhc mosL rcvilcd book o Lhc dccadc (6). Tcsc Lwo popular
prcss asscssmcnLs mcrcly rccall Lhc bruLaliLy o Lhc Lonc LhaL had bccn
lcvicd againsL Flliss novcl LhroughouL Lhc :jjosnoL only in popular
publicaLions buL also in acadcmic arLiclcs, mosL noLably in Tara BaxLcr
and Nikki CraLs cssay wiLh Lhc Lclling LiLlc, Tcrc Arc BcLLcr Ways o
Taking Carc o BrcL FasLon Fllis Tan 1usL Ccnsoring Him. As or Lhc
novcls publishing hisLory, whcn Knop, which had paid Fllis a $oo,ooo
advancc on Lhc novcl, cvcnLually dcclincd Lo publish Amercan Psycho,
Random Housc immcdiaLcly jumpcd on Lhc opporLuniLy Lo publish iL in
iLs wcll-rcccivcd and inucnLial VinLagc ConLcmporarics scrics.
i. All o Lhcsc imagcs arc Lakcn rom Flliss novcl.
. Discussing Lhc rclaLionship bcLwccn comcdy and violcncc in Ncw
Hollywood cincma, Cco King discusscs lms such as Olivcr SLoncs
Natura| Porn K||ers (:jj), QucnLin TaranLinos Pu|p Fcton (:jj),
and Amercan Psycho (iooo), cxamining Lhcir usc o comcdy and saLiri-
cal uncLion. Crucially, as hc poinLs ouL, Lhc vcry conccpL o saLirc
comcdy wiLh a criLical-social cdgcis somcLimcs uscd as a lcgiLimaLing
ramcwork, making a claim Lo scriousncss LhaL sccks Lo absolvc Lhc LcxL
rom accusaLions LhaL iLs violcncc is mcrcly graLuiLous (:i6). Tc cssay
gocs on Lo show how Lhc judgmcnL o violcncc in such lms hingcs on
whcLhcr criLics usc or rcjccL a claim Lo saLirc madc by Lhc lmmakcr or
oLhcr criLics. In my vicw, howcvcr, Lhcsc criLical posiLions arc six o onc,
hal dozcn o Lhc oLhcr: whcLhcr or noL Lhc claim Lo saLirc is acccpLcd,
raming a dcbaLc abouL (lm) violcncc in Lcrms o saLirc auLomaLically
LcrriLorializcs Lhc qucsLion o violcncc onLo Lhc lcvcl o signicaLion.
. For oLhcr criLical asscssmcnLs LhaL avor Lhc movic ovcr Lhc novcl,
scc SmiLh, Holdcn, Clcibcrman, and Ianc.
. Scc David Slocums cssay Tc Film Violcncc Tropc or an cxccllcnL
Notes to pages ii io
i:
discussion o Lhc hisLorical origins o Lhis wisdom, which hc aLLribuLcs Lo
Lhc uncLion Lhc :j6os play in Lhc discoursc o cincmaLic violcncc.
6. For cxamplcs, scc Kowalcwski, Frohock, and SLcin, as wcll as
Kindcr. Ccnrc criLicism, o coursc, is ycL anoLhcr wcll-known cxamplc o
Lhc comparaLivc spiriL o criLicism.
,. My argumcnL rclics on Dclcuzcs imporLanL, ycL oLcn ovcrlookcd,
cssay Tc Simulacrum and AncicnL Philosophy, in which hc diagnoscs
PlaLonisms dcnigraLion o Lhc simulacrum and iLs cccLuaLion o a his-
Lory o rcprcscnLaLion and judgmcnL bascd on a mcLaphysical ounda-
Lion. Whcrcas Dclcuzc a rms NicLzschcs call or Lhc ovcrLurning o
PlaLonism as Lhc quinLcsscnLial Lask o modcrn philosophy, my projccL
mighL bc LhoughL o as working Loward an ovcrLurning o rcprcscnLa-
Lionalism in modcrn criLicism. Scc chapLcr or a morc cxLcndcd rcndcr-
ing o Lhis crucial poinL.
8. Fvcn in criLicism on dccidcdly nonrcalisL LcxLs such as scicncc c-
Lion wc can obscrvc Lhis Lcndcncy, or much o Lhc criLicism rcsponding
Lo Lhcsc LcxLs conccnLraLcs on iLs allcgorical sLaLusLhaL is, how scicncc
cLion is, in Lhc nal analysis, abouL rcaliLy.
j. Tis is as good a momcnL as any Lo poinL ouL LhaL Dclcuzc and
CuaLLaris wriLing on linguisLics in A Tousand P|ateaus (scc cspccially
chapLcrs and ) undcrlics much o my argumcnL. Tc upshoL o Lhcir
analysis o Lhc asigniying orcc o signs is noL Lo dcny Lhc cxisLcncc
o rcprcscnLaLions buL Lo orcground LhaL rcprcscnLaLions arc, aL bcsL,
mcrcly onc among many ways by which languagc accLs Lhc social.
:o. BoLh 1acqucs Dcrrida (in, c.g., Oj Crammato|ogy) and Mauricc
BlanchoL (in, c.g., Te !nnte Conversaton) show how languagcwriLing
and spcaking, rcspccLivclyis an acL o violcncc. And Dclcuzc adds LhaL
LhoughL is primarily Lrcspass and violcncc (Lerence and Repetton
:j). Tc acL o criLicism, in Lhis scnsc, has no choicc buL Lo bc violcnL.
::. AL iLs limiLs, Lhis argumcnL suggcsLs LhaL judgmcnL pcrpcLu-
aLcs Lhc primacy o idcnLiLy/Samc in rclaLion Lo which dicrcncc cxisLs
mcrcly as a sccondary caLcgory. For Lhc mosL compclling rcuLaLion o
Lhis onLological assumpLion, scc cspccially Lhc inLroducLion Lo and chap-
Lcr : o Dclcuzcs Lerence and Repetton, Lhc ccnLral poinL o which is
Lo Lhink dicrcncc in iLscl indcpcndcnLly o Lhc orms o rcprcscnLa-
Lion which rcducc iL Lo Lhc Samc (xix).
:i. Onc o Dclcuzcs carlicsL aLLcmpLs aL comparing and classiying is
his bric :j66 cssay on hardboilcd dcLccLivc cLion, Philosophy o Lhc
Sere Nore.
Notes to pages i6
:. IL is hardly surprising, Lhcn, LhaL ickpcrhaps Iacans grcaLcsL
rcadcris in cccL incapablc o rcading Dclcuzc as anyLhing oLhcr Lhan
a poor mans Iacan (scc ick, Organs wthout Podes).
:. Tc dcbaLc originaLcd in popular rcvicws o Lhc novcl. For onc
o Lhc cw cxamplcs arguing LhaL Fllis succccds aL saLirizing Lhc :j8os,
scc Wcldon. For somc o Lhc many cxamplcs arguing Flliss saLirc ails
duc Lo his lack o LalcnL, scc SLilcs, RoscnblaLL, Ichmann-HaupL, Archcr,
Plagcns, TcachouL, and, mosL ingcniously, Mailcr and UdoviLch. For Lhc
bcsL accounL o Lhc public rcsponsc Lo Flliss novcl, scc Fbcrly :o:.
Acadcmic discoursc, wiLh Lhc usual Limc lapsc, conLinucd Lhis discus-
sion. For insLancc, FlizabcLh Young asscrLs LhaL Lhc novcl is indccd a
saLirc buL rcads iL ulLimaLcly as an a rmaLion o conscrvaLivc moral
valucs (8:ii). Iikcwisc, 1amcs Anncslcy claims LhaL Flliss ailurc Lo
considcr LhaL his rcprcscnLaLion o Amcrican capiLalism mighL bc inac-
curaLc undcrmincs Lhc succcss o his saLirc (::ii). For a morc posi-
Livc Lakc on Flliss cndcavor, scc Cilcs :6o,, Kauman i6o, Pricc,
Humc, Amercan Lream :joj, and cminisL criLic Carla Frccccro, who
warranLs Lhc mosL inLcrcsLing dccnsc o Lhc novcl.
:. For Lhc bcsL accounLs o Lhis rcsponsc, scc Kauman i6o, and
Pricc. Tc laLLcr sympLomaLically bcgins his cssay on Lhc novcl by sLaLing
LhaL hc is in accord wiLh Lhosc criLics who conLcnd LhaL Flliss novcl has
Lo bc undcrsLood as a Lypc o saLirical novcl LhaL condcmns Lhc domi-
nanL Amcrican culLurc o Lhc :j8os (ii).
:6. For an cxamplc o Lhc ormcr aLLiLudc, scc UdoviLch who rccog-
nizcs Lhc saLirical inLcnL o Lhc novcl buL dccms iL prooundly conscrva-
Livc (6), largcly bccausc Fllis rcmains an amaLcurish ormalisL and a
downrighL lousy sLylisL (66) so LhaL hc rcmains incapablc o Lransccnd-
ing Lhc gorc in which his novcl dwclls. Norman Mailcr inamously con-
curs wiLh Lhis asscssmcnL, nding LhaL hc cannoL orgivc (ii:) Fllis
or lacking Lhc wriLcrly skills ncccssary or ollowing Lhrough wiLh his
saLirical inLcnL.
:,. Considcring LhaL lmmaking, indcpcndcnL or noL, is an cnLcr-
prisc pcrhaps morc closcly Licd Lo Lhc culLurc indusLry Lhan any oLhcr arL
orm, Lhc vcry locaLion o Lhc discoursc surrounding Flliss bookmajor
and minor ncwspapcrs, magazincs, 1v shows, cLc., all o which arc owncd
by largcr corporaLions LhaL also havc sLakcs in Hollywoods producLion,
disLribuLion, and cxhibiLion machincryiL is hard Lo scc how iL could
havc bccn oLhcrwisc
:8. Harrons own promoLional sLaLcmcnLs abouL hcr moLivcs or
Notes to pages ;i ii
i
Lackling Flliss novcl consisLcnLly rcvcal LhaL hcr inLcnLion was indccd Lo
wrcsLlc away Lhc LcxL rom iLs mosL viLriolic criLics and orcground Lhc
progrcssivc saLirical qualiLy insLcad o Lhc morc scnsaLionalisL aspccLs
o Lhc novcl. As shc wriLcs in Lhc New York Tmes, shc sccs Lhc novcl as
a surrcal saLirc and alLhough many sccncs wcrc cxcruciaLingly violcnL,
iL was clcarly inLcndcd as a criLiquc o malc misogyny, noL an cndorsc-
mcnL o iL (tr :). AuLhorial inLcnLion is, o coursc, ycL anoLhcr criLi-
cal conccpL LhaL rclics on and is cxprcssivc o a rcprcscnLaLional logic
in which mcaning (ciLhcr locaLcd in Lhc LcxL as cxprcssivc, howcvcr
unconsciously, o auLhorial inLcnLions, or in Lhc auLhors inLcnLions LhaL
wc can acccss Lhrough lcLLcrs, biographical maLcrial, cLc.) is Lhc nc plus
ulLra o Lhc LcxLual cncounLcr.
:j. For cxamplcs o Lhc ormcr, scc Baldwin, Holdcn, RoLhkop, or
SmiLh, or cxamplcs o Lhc laLLcr, scc Harvcy or 1amcs, Sick CiLy Boy.
io. Tcsc vicws arc hcld by, among oLhcrs, Rogcr RoscnblaLL and
Tcrry TcachouL.
i:. A numbcr o criLics havc discusscd Lhc qucsLion o whcLhcr Lhc
lm insinuaLcs LhaL mosL, i noL all, o Lhc cvcnLs mcrcly happcncd in
BaLcmans sick imaginaLion. Scc Harvcy, Holdcn, 1amcs, Sick CiLy Boy,
King, Rayns, and Travcrs. Iikcwisc, in Lhcir Iacanian rcading o boLh
novcl and lm, 1aap Kooijman and Tarja Iainc arguc LhaL Lhc scrial killcr
idcnLiLy o PaLrick BaLcman is mcrcly his own, imaginary consLrucLion.
ii. Civcn LhaL Flliss novcl quiLc obviously alludcs Lo BaLman (jusL
as iL rccrs Lo many oLhcr pop culLurc arLiacLs), I nd iL inLriguing LhaL
ChrisLian Balcs pcrormancc o Lhc proLagonisL in ChrisLophcr Nolans
Patman Pegns (ioo) rclics on many o Lhc samc acLing manncrisms LhaL
hc has alrcady displaycd in his pcrormancc o PaLrick BaLcman in Har-
rons lm. IL is as i Nolan and Balc wanLcd Lo orcground Lhc psychoLic
corc aL Lhc hcarL o BaLman LhaL Flliss bruLal LcxL impliciLly hinLcd aL
Lccn ycars carlicr. Tc acL LhaL boLh BaLcman and BaLman arc rich,
snobbish, narcissisLic, bu, aLLracLivc malcs inhabiLing CoLham/Ncw
York CiLy gocs a long way Lo subsLanLiaLc LhaL Lhis connccLion may noL
bc coincidcnLal.
i. David Robinson discusscs urLhcr dicrcnccs bcLwccn lm and
novclchangcs LhaL, according Lo Robinson, hclp clariy Lhc lms basic
prcmisc o suggcsLing LhaL Lhc Amcrican consumcr mindscL, Lakcn Lo
iLs logical cxLrcmc, will cxposc iLscl as inhcrcnLly violcnL (). In Lhis
rcading, BaLcman commiLs his aLrociLics bccausc o his dccp dissaLisac-
Lion and [his] ailurc Lo aLLain a primal nccd (). TaL is, his violcncc
Notes to pages i
poinLs Lo, indccd rcprcscnLs, Lhc cxisLcncc o a lack o sLablc subjccLiviLy/
idcnLiLy LhaL is cndcmic Lo consumcr culLurca culLurc LhaL, Lhcrcorc,
is dccmcd morally corrupL by Lhc lm (and Lhc cssays poinL o vicw).
i. As I will arguc in chapLcr , undccidabiliLy is in Lhc cnd noL all LhaL
dicrcnL rom arriving aL a spccic dccision abouL a LcxLs mcaning.
i. Tis projccLs masocriLical gambiL is, o coursc, Lo dcvclop a cw o
Lhcsc Lools by showing how somc pracLiLioncrs o imagcd violcncc havc
mobilizcd Lhcm all along.
i6. Scc noLc ::.
i,. Pcrhaps iL is bcLLcr Lo say LhaL Lhcsc LcxLs arc parLicularly good
aL showing us somcLhing abouL languagc and imagcs in gcncral, namcly,
LhaL a|| signalcLic maLcrial works bascd on lcvcls o inLcnsiLy. TaL is, a-
ccL is noL a scarcc occurrcncc buL a consLiLuLivc aLLribuLc. Pcrhaps onc
should show how rcprcscnLaLional criLicism LhaL docs noL aLLcnd Lo a-
ccL is iLscl always alrcady shoL Lhrough wiLh accL.
i8. I should poinL ouL, howcvcr, LhaL during Lhc pcriod in which I
wroLc Lhis book, Lhc qucsLion o accL has bcgun Lo soliciL morc aLLcn-
Lion in Lhc humaniLics and cvcn scicnccs. Scc Clarc Hcmmingss cssay
Invoking AccL or a criLiquc o Lhc conLcmporary cmcrgcncc o a-
ccL as criLical objccL and pcrspccLivc Lhrough which Lo undcrsLand Lhc
social world and our placc wiLhin iL (8). SLill, in my vicw Lhc Dclcuz-
can scnsc o accL LhaL Massumi has in mind (i.c., as somcLhing LhaL is
prcindividual, prcsubjccLivc, and Lhus noL rcduciblc Lo or dcscribablc in
Lcrms o mcrc cclings) has ycL Lo bc dcvclopcd as a criLical conccpL and
Lool, cspccially wiLh rcgard Lo liLcrary and lm sLudics. I hopc Lo conLrib-
uLc wiLh Lhis book Lo Lhis Lask.
ij. KaLhryn Humc rcccnLly addrcsscd Lhc issuc o narraLivc spccd
in Lhc scnsc o Lhc narraLivc bcing accclcraLcd bcyond somc sac com-
prchcnsion-limiL (NarraLivc Spccd :o6)in conLcmporary cLion.
Humc diagnoscs in how ar narraLivc spccd scrvcs boLh cscapc and
conLrol uncLions (:o,)LhaL is, how iL assisLs Lhc purposcs ciLhcr o
hcgcmonic powcrs or o rcvoluLion (:o,).
o. AnoLhcr way o puLLing Lhis: unlikc Lhc lm, Lhc novcl docs noL
prcach Lo Lhc libcral choir. IL insLcad shows how bourgcois libcralism
cmbodicd in Lhc logic o rcprcscnLaLionalismis iLscl compliciL wiLh
Lhc vcry violcncc iL allcgcdly opposcs. Scc my discussion o HardL and
Ncgris Fmpre in chapLcr or morc on Lhis.
:. Scc Colcbrook or an cxccllcnL discussion o Dclcuzcs Lakc on
voicc and poinL o vicw, as wcll as chapLcr 6.
Notes to pages jj i
i
i. Tc cnormiLy o Lhis Lask will bc illusLraLcd in chapLcr .
. ChapLcr will rcLurn Lo Lhis sccming paradox, suggcsLing LhaL iL
is prcciscly Lhis allcgcd phcnomcnological obviousncss o violcncc LhaL
Lcnds Lo obuscaLc iLs cccLiviLy.
. Scc Lhc opcning sccLion o chapLcr 6 or morc on Lhis parLicular
issuc.
. Tc subscqucnL chapLcrs on HighsmiLh, DcNiro, and DcIillo aL-
LcmpL Lo do jusL LhaL, howcvcr LcnLaLivcly.
6. DicrcnLiaLing his LhoughL rom FoucaulLs, Dclcuzc wriLcs: I
havc Lhcrcorc no nccd or Lhc sLaLus o phcnomcna o rcsisLancc, i Lhc
rsL givcn o a socicLy is LhaL cvcryLhing Lakcs ighL, Lhcn cvcryLhing in
iL is dcLcrriLorializcd (Dcsirc and Plcasurc :8j).
,. I invcsLigaLc mosL ully how onc mighL accLivcly rcspond Lo Lhc
mcdium o lm in chapLcr .
. Are We All Arnoldians?
:. Film criLicism Loo rcmains cLLcrcd by Lhc dcsirc Lo judgc imagcs.
Scc, c.g., Frus and Coldbcrg, who boLh arc clcarly invcsLcd in condcmn-
ing whaL Lhc wriLcrs pcrccivc Lo bc immoral violcnL imagcs. NoL unim-
porLanLly, Lhcsc imagcs arc dccmcd immoral bccausc Lhcy allcgcdly mis-
rcprcscnLalsiyrcaliLy. NoLcworLhy is also Lhc work o Nocl Carroll,
who cxpliciLly advocaLcs a modc o lm criLicism, which, bascd on Kan-
Lian caLcgorics, is capablc o arriving aL clcar valuc judgmcnLs abouL lm
producLions. Scc, c.g., his cssay InLroducing Film FvaluaLion, which,
ironically, is includcd in Renventng F|m Studes. How, cxacLly, an cm-
phasis on lm cvaluaLion bascd on KanLian conccpLs can bc considcrcd
rcinvcnLing anyLhing is bcyond mc. In gcncral, o coursc, lm criLicism
has inhcriLcd many o iLs criLical opcraLions rom liLcrary sLudics duc Lo
iLs insLiLuLional hisLory LhaL cmcrgcd ouL o Fnglish dcparLmcnLs.
i. Tis collccLion, wc may rccall, caLurcs a numbcr o cssays LhaL al-
mosL singlc-handcdly insLiLuLionalizcd a criLical pracLicc wc now rcmcm-
bcr as Amcrican dcconsLrucLion.
. AlLhough Lhis is noL Lhc Limc and placc Lo claboraLc on Lhis, I should
poinL ouL LhaL Lo mc Amcrican dcconsLrucLion is a ar cry rom Lhc acLual
provocaLion o Dcrridas work. For whcrcas Lhc ormcr rcmains wcddcd
Lo an undcrsLanding o languagc as rcprcscnLaLion, Dcrrida vicws lan-
guagc as orcc. Scc, or insLancc, his scminal cssay Dicrancc, spcci-
Notes to pages jj6j
cally ooLnoLc io, which approvingly poinLs Lo Dclcuzcs Netzsche and
Ph|osophy, a book LhaL insisLs LhaL, or NicLzschc, languagc is orcc, noL
rcprcscnLaLion.
. Film sLudics Loo movcd Loward rcccpLion sLudics (scc, c.g., Bor-
dwcll, Princc, or SLaigcr). Tis changc o cmphasis occurrcd as an cxpliciL
rcacLion againsL Iacanian lm Lhcory, which dominaLcd Lhc :j,os and
:j8os. AnLi-Iacanians such as SLcphcn Princc bcgan Lo accusc Iacanian
lm Lhcory or having consLrucLcd Lhcorics o spccLaLorship rom which
[rcal] spccLaLors arc missing (PsychoanalyLic Film Tcory 8), in con-
LrasL, rcccpLion oricnLcd lm sLudics orcgrounds Lhc mcaning making
capaciLy o Lhc acLual vicwcr. Whcrcas or Iacanians mcaning Lcnds Lo
bc a maLLcr o Lhc rclaLion bcLwccn Lhc Imaginary and Symbolic (and how
Lhcsc rcalms govcrncd spccLaLors rcsponscs), rcccpLion LhcorisLs cxam-
inc how Lhc spccLaLor plays a much morc acLivc rolc in making mcaning.
BoLh David Bordwcll and cspccially Princc givc Lhis Lurn Lo Lhc vicwcr a
parLicularly scicnLic LwisL, wiLh Lhcir advocacy o cogniLivism as a mcans
Lo sLudy lm. For insLancc, in Truc Iics, a challcnging cssay on Lhc prob-
lcmaLic dominancc o indcxically bascd noLions o lm rcalism (:) in
lm Lhcory, Princc poinLs ouL LhaL LradiLional lm Lhcory has ailcd Lo
aLLcnd Lo considcr how rcalism uncLions rom a vicwcrs pcrspccLivc
and insLcad obscsscd abouL Lhc codcs o rcalism. To Princc, rcalism is
bascd on spccLaLors cogniLivc cxpcricnccs. Hcncc, a digiLal lm can bc as
rcalisL as an analog lm. WhaL maLLcrs is whaL Lhc spccLaLor has cogni-
Livcly availablc (much o which is hardwircd, according Lo Princc), sincc
shc uscs Lhis cxpcricncc in waLching a lm Lo comparc Lhc imagcs Lo hcr
rcal cxpcricncc. I imagcs rcasonably corrcspond Lo Lhc cogniLivc library,
shc will pcrccivc Lhc imagcs as rcalisLic, rcgardlcss o whcLhcr Lhc imagc
is a dinosaur LhaL ncvcr cxisLcd in Lhc rcal world or a man wiLh a bicyclc
Lrying Lo makc a living in war-ravagcd Romc. NoLc, howcvcr, LhaL whaL
boLh approachcs havc in common is Lhc cmphasis on mcaning.
. Fvcn wriLcrs who arc oLhcrwisc sympaLhcLic Lo posL-sLrucLuralisL
LhoughL chargc Dcrrida wiLh Lhis criLicism. F.g., ConsLanLin Boundas
complains LhaL Dcrridcan dcconsLrucLion conccivcs o LcxLs as laby-
rinLhs whcrc onc can crr orcvcr and shncLs in which onc could bccomc
caughL. [. . .] As or Lhc rccrcnL, iL is noL only brackcLcd [. . .] buL iL loscs
iLs pcrLincncc: onc can always nd a rccrcnL, buL iL is going Lo bc an-
oLhcr LcxL (:6). Scc, howcvcr, Baucom or an cssay LhaL cxplains why
Lhc counLlcss culogics wriLLcn abouL dcconsLrucLion mighL havc bccn
prcmaLurc.
Notes to pages 666, i6
i,
6. Oncc morc, lm sLudics ollows a parallcl LrajccLory. Today, as Todd
McCowan and Shcila Kunklc corrccLly poinL ouL in Lhcir inLroducLion
Lo Lacan and Contemporary F|m, Lhcory as such has givcn way almosL
complcLcly Lo hisLoricism and cmpirical rcscarch (xii n. :). An cxccllcnL
cxamplc supporLing Lhis poinL is, c.g., 1. D. Slocums rcccnL Cnema 1our-
na| cssay on World War II combaL lms. Slocum ocrs an alLcrnaLivc
modcl or undcrsLanding lm violcncc (8) whosc LargcLs arc Lhc uni-
vcrsalizing claims o psychoanalyLic as wcll as morc bchaviorisL-bascd
Lhcorics. Slocums approach, so hc argucs, is rigorously groundcd in his-
Lory (,), as iL is guidcd by Lhc idca o a civilizing proccss LhaL aLLcnds
boLh Lo spccic rcprcscnLaLions in war lms and Lo Lhc insLiLuLional rolc
o cincma in socializing and rcgulaLing individual bchavior (,).
,. Scc, howcvcr, 1crcy T. Ncalons Loub|e Readng, in which hc makcs
a orccul casc or a rcading o dcconsLrucLion LhaL clcarly rcquircs Lhis
sysLcmic displaccmcnL, as Lhis is prcciscly whaL Lhc sccond dcconsLruc-
Livc movc ocrcd by Dcrrida dcmands as a ncccssary compound o dc-
consLrucLivc pracLicc. As Dcrrida wriLcs, DcconsLrucLion cannoL limiL
iLscl or procccd immcdiaLcly Lo a ncuLralizaLion [o Lhc binary], iL musL,
by mcans o a doublc gcsLurc, a doublc scicncc, a doublc wriLing, pracLicc
an overturnng o Lhc classical opposiLion and a gcncral dsp|acement o
Lhc sysLcm (SignaLurcs FvcnL ConLcxL ij).
8. Tc poinL hcrc is LhaL culLural sLudicsgcncrally spcaking a lcL-
libcral acadcmic nichcis noL so ar rcmovcd rom Arnolds cnLcrprisc.
IL is, o coursc, no surprisc LhaL morc conscrvaLivc lcaning criLics makc
no boncs abouL conLinuing Lo work in an Arnoldian LradiLion. Scc Mi-
chacl Bcrubcs criLiquc o conscrvaLivc wriLcrs such as Allan Bloom or
Dincsh DSouza in Te v||age voce, whcrc hc makcs a similar poinL.
j. I rcalizc LhaL in hindsighL iL mighL sccm absurd LhaL liLcrary culLurc
oncc cmbraccd BrcL FasLon Fllis. Indccd, cvcn aL Lhc hcighL o his amc
(achicvcd ovcrnighL as an undcrgraduaLc sLudcnL whcn hc publishcd his
rsL novcl), noL cvcryonc cmbraccd Lhis supposcd liLcrary wundcrkind.
YcL, Lhc acL rcmains LhaL or a bric momcnL hc was the cclcbraLcd cnanL
Lcrriblc o U.S. liLcraLurc. Tc poinL hcrc is noL Lo cndorsc or opposc Lhis
vicw o him buL Lo show Lhc discursivc opcraLion o which hc was parL.
:o. Whilc similar disLincLions cxisL ouLsidc Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs, iL
sccms Lruc LhaL in oLhcr counLrics conLrovcrsial wriLcrs oLcn acquirc
a ccrLain sLaLus o rcspccL prcciscly bccausc o Lhcir works provocaLion.
Tc conLrovcrsy surrounding Lhc work o Frcnch auLhor Michcl Houcl-
lcbccq is buL onc rcccnL casc in poinL.
Notes to pages 6,;
::. Scc also HardL and Ncgri, Fmpre, or supporL o Lhis argumcnL.
:i. Massumi praiscs Crossbcrg or paying aLLcnLion Lo accL in his
work buL poinLs ouL LhaL Crossbcrg slips inLo an cquaLion bcLwccn a-
ccL and cmoLion aL many poinLs (i6on).
:. O coursc, Lhc surgc o inLcrcsL in Lhc :jjos in Dclcuzcs work
musL bc acknowlcdgcd, buL Lhis inLcrcsL was mainly o philosophical na-
Lurc (wiLh Lhc occasional cssay conccrning liLcraLurc). CulLural sLudics
has rcmaincd raLhcr hosLilc Lo Dclcuzc, dcspiLc a cw spccial issucs dc-
voLcd Lo his LhoughL, such as, c.g., Cu|tura| Studes :.i (iooo) and South
At|antc Quarter|y j6. (:jj,), as wcll as cxccllcnL sLudics such as An-
matng (Le|euze and Cuattar), a volumc cdiLcd by 1cnnicr Daryl Slack,
1. Macgrcgor Wiscs Fxp|orng Techno|ogy and Soca| Space, and Charlcs
SLivalcs Lsenchantng Les Pons Temps. And dcspiLc rcccnL book publica-
Lions such as Crcgg IambcrLs Te Non-Ph|osophy oj C||es Le|euze, Ian
Buchanan and 1ohn Markss Le|euze and Lterature, and Ronald Bogucs
Le|euze on Lterature, iL sccms Lo mc LhaL Dclcuzcs posiLion in liLcrary
sLudics rcmains marginal. In lm sLudics Loo Dclcuzcs work occupics aL
bcsL an in-bcLwccn posiLion: mosL lm sLudics do noL know whaL Lo do
wiLh his Lwo books on cincma, and Lhosc who cngagc him by and largc
do so on Lhc margins o Lhc cld. (Scc, howcvcr, D. N. Rodowicks and
SLcvcn Shaviros powcrul works on Dclcuzc and cincma, as wcll as Flax-
mans cdiLcd volumc.) In oLhcr words, Lo Lhis day, no Dclcuzcan school
has ormcd, as has bccn Lhc casc wiLh Dcrrida (Amcrican dcconsLruc-
Lion), FoucaulL (Ncw HisLoricism), or Iacan (Iacanian psychoanalysis),
noL Lo mcnLion Marx and Frcud. FoucaulLs amous (and undoubLcdly
somcwhaL jcsLing) claim LhaL pcrhaps onc day, Lhis [LwcnLicLh] ccnLury
will bc known as Dclcuzian (TcaLrum Philosophicum :6) has ycL Lo
rcgisLcr insLiLuLionallyand i iL cvcr did, Lhis (uLurc) insLiLuLionaliza-
Lion would provc FoucaulL wrong, as Dclcuzcs cnLirc work is characLcr-
izcd by a hosLiliLy Lo schools (gcncraliLics) and insLcad avors singulari-
Lics, cvcnLs, and Lhc unLimcly or ycL Lo comc (which ncvcr ccascs Lo bc
jusL LhaL).
:. An almosL incviLablc ouLcomc o Lhis inLcrcsL in (poliLical) rcprc-
scnLaLion was culLural sLudics ounding rcjccLion o Tcodor Adornos
LhoughL, sincc Lhc laLLcr makcs iL cxcccdingly di culL Lo havc any aiLh
in a poliLics bascd on Lhc (rcprcscnLaLional) rccogniLion o dicrcncc.
IL Lhcrcorc comcs as no surprisc LhaL Max Horkhcimcr and Adornos
landmark cssay Tc CulLurc IndusLry was includcd in Simon Durings
scminal Cu|tura| Studes Reader only as a shorLcncd vcrsion, wiLh Lhc
Notes to pages ;;6 i8
ij
FrankurL School LhcorisLs ccnLral aphorisLic salvo againsL dicr-
cnccAnyonc who rcsisLs can survivc only by bcing incorporaLcd.
Oncc rcgisLcrcd as divcrging rom Lhc culLurc indusLry, Lhcy bclong Lo iL
as Lhc land rcormcr Lo capiLalism. RcalisLic indignaLion is Lhc Lradcmark
o Lhosc wiLh a ncw idca Lo scll (La|ectc oj Fn|ghtenment :o)com-
plcLcly omiLLcd.
:. For cxccllcnL cssays on Lhc problcmaLic rcccpLion o Dclcuzc in
Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs, scc Flic During and IoLringcr.
:6. Scc also my cssay on Dclcuzcs inLcrcsL in 1ack Kcrouac or a dis-
cussion o liLcrary sLudics qucsLionablc appropriaLion o Dclcuzc and
CuaLLaris conccpL o minor liLcraLurc. Whcrcas or Lhc laLLcr Lhis con-
ccpL has noLhing Lo do wiLh rcprcscnLaLion (iL is noL a numcrical con-
ccpL), liLcrary sLudics has gcncrally applicd Lhis conccpL as a mcans Lo
advocaLc onc or Lhc oLhcr undcrrcprcscnLcd minoriLy wriLcr.
:,. For an cxccllcnL rcccnL cssay LhaL Lakcs scriously Lhc noLion o
Lracking down in PlaLos cngagcmcnL wiLh Lhc SophisLs, scc Muckcl-
baucr.
:8. Scc Baudrilliard, Smu|atons, and 1amcson, Postmodernsm.
:j. Dclcuzc poinLs ouL LhaL PlaLo sccms Lo havc rccognizcd Lhis
(Was iL noL PlaLo himscl who poinLcd ouL Lhc dirccLion or Lhc rcvcrsal
o PlaLonism` [Simulacrum i6]), Lhough hc Lhcn shicd away rom
iLs implicaLions. Tus, Dclcuzc suggcsLs LhaL PlaLo can bc said Lo havc
bcgun Lhc ovcrLurning o PlaLonism himscl. TaL PlaLo ailcd Lo a rm
his own insighL mcrcly indicaLcs Lhc dcgrcc o di culLy o Lhinking wiLh-
ouL judgmcnL. ChapLcr will claboraLc on Lhc di culLy o ovcrLurning
PlaLonism.
io. PaLricia Dunkcrs novcl Ha||ucnatng Foucau|t (:jj6) provoca-
Livcly plays wiLh Lhis disLincLion. I wanL Lo Lhank Cina Frcolini or having
callcd my aLLcnLion Lo iL.
i:. In chapLcr 6, I will dicrcnLiaLc bcLwccn sccing and pcrccpLion,
whcrcas Lhc laLLcr is govcrncd by Lhc logic o auLhcnLiciLy (and Lhus rcp-
rcscnLaLion), Lhc ormcr is a modc o producLion LhaL docs noL originaLc
wiLh and in a subjccL and his or hcr abiliLy Lo pcrccivc corrccLly.
ii. Fvcnor, bcLLcr, mosL imporLanLlyKanL argucs in his Crtque
oj 1udgment or Lhc acsLhcLic (and acsLhcLic judgmcnL) as a middlc ground
mcdiaLing Lhc rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhc pcrcciving subjccL and Lhc objccL
o pcrccpLion. Hc Lhus clcvaLcs rcason as Lhc nal arbiLcr o acsLhcLic
LasLc, allocaLing accL a placc Lo bc govcrncd by sLaLc-ly raLionaliLy and
iLs aLLcnding insLiLuLions: jurisprudcncc and acsLhcLic criLicism.
Notes to pages ;68i
i. DisLinguishing anLiquarian hisLory rom boLh monumcnLal
and criLical hisLory, NicLzschc claims LhaL Lhc rsL knows only how Lo
preserve lic, noL how Lo cngcndcr iL, iL always undcrvalucs LhaL which is
bccoming bccausc iL has no insLincL or divining iLas monumcnLal his-
Lory, or cxamplc, has. Tus, iL hindcrs any rm rcsolvc Lo aLLcmpL somc-
Lhing ncw, Lhus iL paralyscs Lhc man o acLion who, as onc who acLs, will
and musL ocnd somc picLy or oLhcr (Uscs and DisadvanLagcs ,).
i. PaLLon argucs LhaL Lhc imporLancc o Lhc conccpL o simulacra
is limiLcd Lo Lhc prcdominanLly ncgaLivc phasc o Dclcuzcs projccL
(), ciLing a commcnL Dclcuzc madc in a lcLLcr Lo anoLhcr criLic. YcL,
I suggcsL LhaL prcciscly bccausc PlaLonism sLill works Lhrough and Lhus
accLs conLcmporary pracLiccs wc cannoL ovcrcsLimaLc Lhc imporLancc
o Dclcuzcs cncounLcr wiLh PlaLo(nism). RaLhcr, in Lhis shorL cssay on
PlaLo, Dclcuzc providcs us wiLh a crucial Lool LhaL can bc dcploycd as a
mcans Lo cncounLcr or movc through Lhc dominancc o rcprcscnLaLional
criLicism.
i. Tis is parL o Lhc rcason why I do noL Lhink LhaL lm sLudics
oughL Lo privilcgc so-callcd cmpirical mcLhodologics, as Princc urgcs. In
my vicw, Lhc conccpL o Lhc subjccL LhaL currcnLly is aL work in, say, cog-
niLivisL lm sLudics sLrikcs mc as problcmaLically undcrLhcorizcd. In an
odd way, onc mighL say LhaL currcnL vcrsions o lm sLudics arc noL ycL
cmpirical cnough.
i6. In conLcmporary lm sLudics, David Bordwcll is Lhc bcsL-known
proponcnL o Lhis approach Lo moving imagcs. Scc, c.g., his apLly LiLlcd
Makng Meanng.
i,. Tis is noL Lo dcny LhaL wc arc rcqucnLly cxposcd Lo jusL Lhis
acLualizaLion o violcncc: violcncc is donc Lo us all Lhc Limc, in dicrcnL
ways and wiLh dicrcnL cccLs, jusL as, pcrhaps lcss obviously, all o us
also cannoL buL do violcncc Lo oLhcrs, Lo dicrcnL dcgrccs and wiLh di-
crcnL rcsulLs.
i8. IL should bc noLcd LhaL Dclcuzcs noLion o simulacrum docs noL
inLroducc a ncw oundaLion. ConLrary Lo Alain Badious provocaLivc
rcading o Dclcuzc, Lhc simulacrum is an un-ounding (Dclcuzc, Sim-
ulacrum i6). Badiou insisLs LhaL Dclcuzc is Lhc Lhinkcr o Lhc Onc, o
oundaLionalism, which is Lruc only Lo Lhc dcgrcc (onc not acknowlcdgcd
by Badiou) LhaL Lhc Onc or Dclcuzc is always jusL onc parL o an as-
scmblagc, an cccL. Whilc iL is Lruc LhaL Dclcuzc makcs much o Duns
ScoLuss Lhcsis o Lhc univociLy o bcing, Dclcuzc clarics LhaL hc undcr-
sLands Lhis Lhcsis as arLiculaLing Lhc Bcing o bccoming: Lhc csscnLial in
Notes to pages 8i86 io
i:
univociLy is noL LhaL Bcing is said in a singlc and samc scnsc, buL LhaL iL
is said, in a singlc and samc scnsc, oj all iLs individuaLing dicrcnccs or
inLrinsic modaliLics. Bcing is Lhc samc or all Lhcsc modaliLics, buL Lhcsc
modaliLics arc noL Lhc samc (Lerence and Repetton 6). TaL is, Bcing
can bc considcrcd univocal (onc, oundaLional) only Lo Lhc cxLcnL LhaL iL
is consLiLuLcd by proccsscs o bccoming, o dicrcnL/ciaLion (Lerence
and Repetton, ioj).
ij. I rcLurn Lo Lhc qucsLion o pcdagogy LhroughouL Lhc ollowing
chapLcrs buL will placc parLicular cmphasis on iL in Lhc concluding chap-
Lcr.
o. Dclcuzc is noL Lhc only onc who lcads us Lo Lhink Lhis. In ad-
diLion Lo Dcrridas and BlanchoLs claims LhaL, rcspccLivcly, wriLing and
spccch arc violcncc (scc chapLcr i, noLc :o), FoucaulL argucs LhaL his-
Lory is violcncc: iL is noL madc or undcrsLanding, iL is madc or cuttng
(NicLzschc, Ccncalogy, HisLory :, my cmphasis). Marx, o coursc,
Lcachcs us abouL Lhc violcncc o Lhc markcL. IL sccms LhaL vcry liLLlc is
lcL LhaL mighL consLiLuLc a nonviolcnL spacc oncc wc add Lhcsc Lhcorics
LogcLhcr.
. Serializing Violence
:. Tc lm was cvcnLually nominaLcd or vc Acadcmy Awards,
Lhough iL did noL win any. Scc also Michacl Bronskis rcvicw o whaL hc
calls Minghcllas MasLcrpiccc TcaLcrizcd Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey (i)
or a cogcnL cxplanaLion o Lhc lms insLanLancous acclaim and suc-
ccss.
i. In addiLion Lo Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey, Lhc Fvcrymans cdiLion also
includcs Rp|ey 0nder Cround (originally publishcd :j,o) and Rp|eys
Came (:j,). Tc Lwo Riplcy novcls noL includcd arc Te Poy who Fo|-
|owed Rp|ey (:j8o) and Rp|ey 0nder water (:jj:).
. I Lakc Lhc Lcrm ncw violcncc rom Michacl SLcins Lwo-parL cssay
Tc Ncw Violcncc, or TwcnLy Ycars o Violcncc in Films: An Apprccia-
Lion. Scc also Schncidcr or an cxLcndcd cngagcmcnL wiLh ncw Holly-
wood violcncc.
. Scc KakuLani, Cox, RacrLy, or Macrkcr.
. In addiLion Lo counLlcss madc-or-1v producLions (cspccially
or Ccrman and Frcnch 1v), HighsmiLhs work has Lhus ar givcn risc
Lo morc Lhan a dozcn lms, Lhc majoriLy o which wcrc produccd and
Notes to pages 86,o
rclcascd in Furopcan counLrics. Tc mosL amous lm adapLaLions in-
cludc HiLchcocks Strangers on a Tran (:j:), Rcnc ClcmcnLs P|en So|e|
(Purplc Noon, :jj, bascd on Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey), Wim Wcndcrss
Ler amerkansche Freund (Tc Amcrican Fricnd) (:j,,, bascd on Rp|eys
Came), Claudc Millcrs Ltes-|u que e |ame (:j,,, bascd on Ts Sweet
Sckness), Claudc Chabrols Le Cr du Hbou (:j8,, bascd on Te Cry oj the
Ow|), and Iiliana Cavanis Rp|eys Came (iooi). Tom Cox rcporLs LhaL
urLhcr adapLaLions o HighsmiLhs work arc currcnLly undcr way.
6. Dclcuzc, in his lasL book wiLh Fclix CuaLLari, amously proposcs
LhaL Lhc mosL undamcnLal Lask o philosophy is Lo orm, invcnL, and
abricaLc conccpLs (what !s Ph|osophy? i). I philosophy cncounLcrs a
problcm, Lhcn Lhc Lask o solving iL is Lo invcnL a conccpL propcr Lo Lhc
problcm: All conccpLs arc connccLcd Lo problcms wiLhouL which Lhcy
would havc no mcaning and which can Lhcmsclvcs only bc isolaLcd or
undcrsLood as Lhcir soluLion cmcrgcs (:6). SoluLions, in oLhcr words,
cmcrgc in Lhc Lask o invcnLing conccpLs, buL Lhis Lask is inLricaLcly, in-
cviLably, immancnLly rclaLcd Lo Lhc problcm aL hand: Lhc soluLion (Lhc
conccpL) cannoL bc ound ouLsidc o Lhc problcm and Lhus cannoL bc
locaLcd anywhcrc clsc buL in Lhc spacc dcncd and dclincaLcd by Lhc
problcm.
,. Strangers on a Tran, HighsmiLhs rsL novcl, was publishcd in
:jo, Sma|| g. a Summer !dy|| ound posLhumous publicaLion jusL aLcr
hcr dcaLh in :jj. HighsmiLh publishcd a cw shorL sLorics in Lhc :jos.
Tc imporLancc o Lhc conccpL o scrialiLy will bccomc clcarcr, as my dis-
cussion o HighsmiLhs work will ocus on Lhc uncLion o hcr only scrial-
izcd characLcr, Tom Riplcy, in conjuncLion wiLh, and as inLcrrupLion o,
Lhc rcsL o hcr prolic wriLing carccr.
8. I would cauLion againsL rcducing HighsmiLhs work Lo Lhis Ocdipal
drama, as Wilsons oLhcrwisc illuminaLing biography Lcnds Lo do.
j. For a brillianL analysis o Mclvillcs sLory, scc Dclcuzcs BarLlcby,
or, Tc Formula. HardL and Ncgri also makc inLcrcsLing usc o Lhis a-
mous linc o rcusal in Fmpre (io).
:o. According Lo Dclcuzc, NicLzschc comparcs Lhc Lhinkcr Lo an ar-
row shoL by NaLurc LhaL anoLhcr Lhinkcr picks up whcrc iL has allcn so
LhaL hc can shooL iL somcwhcrc clsc (Netzsche and Ph|osophy ix).
::. Dclcuzc makcs Lhis poinL also in his Lclcvision inLcrvicw wiLh
Clairc ParncL, LAbecedare de C||es Le|euze, in sccLion F commc Fn-
ancc.
:i. In many ways, Lhc samc can bc said o BrcL FasLon Flliss work,
Notes to pages ,:,; ii
i
which obscssivcly rcLurns Lo a limiLcd scL o conccrns as wcll. His laL-
csL novcl, Lunar Park (ioo), providcs a rcmarkablc aux-biographical,
rcLrospccLivc mcLacommcnLary on Flliss ocuvrc and iLs ccnLral Lhcmcs.
Iikcwisc, Don DcIillo, Lo whom I will Lurn in Lhc lasL chapLcr, clcarly
obscsscs abouL issucs such as consumcr culLurc and Lhc orcc o imagcs.
YcL, oddly cnough, Lhc scholarship on all Lhrcc o Lhcsc wriLcrs has paid
scanL aLLcnLion Lo Lhis obscssivc qualiLy and how iL mighL accL noL only
Lhc wriLing iLscl buL also Lhc sty|e o cngagcmcnL wiLh a givcn subjccL
maLLcr aL hand. Tc acLing work o RobcrL DcNiro, Lhc subjccL o chapLcr
, is also characLcrizcd by such an obscssivc rhyLhm.
:. As Dclcuzc shows in his rcading o PlaLo (scc chapLcr ), Lhc acL
o judgmcnL, dcpcndcnL on iLs purchasc on LruLh, is an cccL o Lhc prior
orcc o dicrcncc, o Lhc simulacrum, o Lhc powcr o Lhc alsc.
:. Wc cannoL cnLircly ignorc Lhc orcc o labcls. As has bccn argucd
by gcnrc LhcorisLs, gcnrcs can uncLion as an acsLhcLic and social con-
LracL bcLwccn audicnccs and [arLisLic produccrs] (MaLLhcw BcrnsLcin
qLd. in Slocum, Film Violcncc 66). And noLwiLhsLanding Rick AlL-
mans powcrul criLiquc o gcnrc sLudics LhaL vicw gcnrcs in conLracLual
Lcrms (scc, c.g., F|m/Cenre), iL sccms clcar LhaL HighsmiLh would havc
had a rough Limc publishing hcr work wiLhouL aL lcasL minimally hccd-
ing gcnrc cxpccLaLions. In acL, in P|ottng and wrtng Suspense Fcton,
HighsmiLh Lclls hcr rcadcrs o hcr occasional di culLics in nding a pub-
lishcr or works LhaL sccmcd Lo bc Loo un-HighsmiLhcan. Tus, wriLing
wiLhin ccrLain gcnrc cxpccLaLionsand nding lincs o ighL wiLhin
Lhcmbccamc onc o hcr grcaLcsL arLisLic and commcrcial challcngcs, as
cvidcnccd by hcr works rcccpLion, which shows rcqucnLly morc admira-
Lion or commcrcially lcss succcssul novcls such as Fdths Lary (:j,,)
Lhan or hcr morc obvious suspcnsc corLs such as Lhc Riplcy scrics. (Ac-
cording Lo HighsmiLh hcrscl, criLics considcrcd Fdths Lary hcr bcsL
[novcl] Lo daLc (P|ottng and wrtng :), an opinion Russcll Harrison
concurs wiLh, calling iL HighsmiLhs mosL ambiLious novcl [8:].)
:. Dclcuzc and CuaLLari rsL dcvclopcd Lhc conccpL o minor liLcra-
Lurc in Kajka. Toward a Mnor Lterature.
:6. Clapp wriLcs LhaL hcr books wcrc always morc succcssul in Fu-
ropc Lhan in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs and LhaL cvcn as laLc as :j86 a ncw novcl
by HighsmiLh, Found n the Street, sold scarccly our Lhousand copics in
Lhc SLaLcs, in Ccrmany, iL sold orLy Lhousand (j6). 1oan DuponL spcc-
ulaLcs LhaL HighsmiLhs lack o rccogniLion in Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs mighL
havc rcsulLcd rom hcr amoral cxploraLions o pcrvcrsc bchavior [LhaL]
Notes to pages :o::oi
havc conuscd Amcrican rcadcrs o crimc cLion (6o). And Rich rcporLs
LhaL jusL as hcr rsL novcl, Strangers on a Tran, had bccn rcjccLcd by six
publishcrs aL Lhc sLarL, so hcr nal novcl, Sma|| g. a Summer !dy||, was
rcjccLcd by Knop (Lhough publishcd in Furopc) Lhc ycar shc dicd.
:,. In addiLion Lo Hubly, scc Hilcr, Cochran, and Rich or Lhis sorL o
rcading o Riplcy.
:8. Tc ncxL chapLcr addrcsscs Lhc qucsLion o acLing and whaL iL sug-
gcsLs vis--vis our ccnLral problcmaLic in grcaLcr dcLail.
:j. O coursc, NicLzschc, as carly as On TruLh and Iying in Lhc FxLra-
Moral Scnsc, shows LhaL imiLaLion docs noL rcly on rccollccLion in Lhc
rsL placc. InsLcad, Lhc orcc o jorgettng produccs Lhc world: wc dcsirc
and dcploy LruLh only as an cccL o having orgoLLcn LhaL languagc
iLscl docs ncvcr rcally rcprcscnL Lhc world, LhaL LruLh as arLiculaLcd in
languagc is mcrcly a convcnLion, an cradicaLion o dicrcncc.
io. Minghclla, among oLhcrs, makcs much o Lhis suggcsLiononc
LhaL onc can, buL by no mcans has Lo, Lakc as an accuraLc dcscripLion
o Riplcys characLcr. Tc cosL o doing so, howcvcr, is Lo suggcsL LhaL
Riplcys violcncc occurs bccausc hc wanLsbuL cannoL havcDickic,
somcLhing LhaL is paLcnLly noL Lhc casc. Violcncc is noL Lhc ouLcomc o
an cxpcricncc o lack, aL lcasL noL in HighsmiLhs work. Tc rsL adapLa-
Lion o Lhis novcl, P|en So|e|, docs a bcLLcr job aL showing Lhis, or in
Lhc Frcnch lm Riplcy is noL shown Lo dcsirc Dickic buL his licsLylc. As
i Lo conrm Lhis rcading o hcr rsL Riplcy novcl, HighsmiLh wriLcs in
hcr sccond novcl, publishcd Lcn ycars aLcr P|en So|e|, LhaL Tom had
longcd or lcisurc and a biL o luxury whcn hc had mcL Dickic Crccnlca,
and now LhaL hc had aLLaincd iL, Lhc charm had noL pallcd (Rp|ey 0n-
derground :oo).
i:. I will claboraLc on Lhis argumcnL in Lhc ncxL chapLcr.
ii. For morc on Lhc ordcr-word, scc Dclcuzc and CuaLLari, Tousand
P|ateaus ,8.
i. As long as wc kccp in mind Dclcuzcs suggcsLion LhaL Lhc virLual is
rcal, wc can also Lhink abouL Lhis cvcnL as an insLancc whcrc wc wiLncss
Lhc virLual bcing acLualizcd. IL is bccausc o Lhc virLualiLy o violcncc
Riplcys alrcady having bccomc-DickicLhaL hc can now acLualizc iL, bc-
comc-violcnL, so smooLhly, so insLanLancously. For Dclcuzcs discussion
o Lhc rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhc virLual and Lhc acLual, scc, c.g., Pergson-
sm j::o6 and Lerence and Repetton io8:.
i. KakuLanis ncgaLivc judgmcnL o Lhc laLcr Riplcy novcls is, in acL,
rooLcd in hcr raLhcr LradiLional moralisLic assumpLion LhaL rcprcscnLa-
Notes to pages :o::i i
i
Lions o violcncc arc acccpLablc only i Lhcy arc rcndcrcd rcalisLically. Tc
mcdias gloricaLion o Spiclbcrgs World War II drama Savng Prvate Ryan
mcrcly brings Lhis Lcndcncy Lo a pcak: Lhc incrcdiblc violcncc o Lhc lms
opcning scqucncc is cclcbraLcd prcciscly bccausc iL prcLcnds Lo havc a pur-
chasc on Lhc rcalLhaL iL Lruly rcprcscnLs Lhc hcll Amcrican soldicrs had
Lo go Lhrough Lo ovcrcomc Lhc Ccrman orccs aL Omaha Bcach. Comparc
Lhc asscssmcnL o a show such as South Park: iLs violcncc is rcqucnLly con-
dcmncd (as Lhc movic vcrsion o Lhc 1v show mockingly dcpicLs) bccausc
iL docs noL hold a claim Lo rcalism, Lhus orcgoing any purchasc on Lhc
allcgcdly pcdagogical possibiliLics o rcalisLic rcprcscnLaLions.
i. Tc allusions hcrc arc o coursc Lo ArisLoLlcs Lhcory o Lragcdy,
claboraLcd in his Poetcs, and Lo Richard SloLkins rcgcncraLion Lhrough
violcncc Lhcsis, rcspccLivcly. SloLkin amously shows in Regeneraton
through vo|ence how Lhc usc o violcncc has bccn inLcgral Lo Lhc consLruc-
Lion o a uniqucly Amcrican myLhogcncsis. Arguing LhaL Lhc ounding
aLhcrs wcrc noL Lhosc cighLccn-ccnLury gcnLlcmcn who composcd a na-
Lion aL Philadclphia [buL] Lhosc who [ . . . ] Lorc violcnLly a naLion rom
implacablc and opulcnL wildcrncss, SloLkin proposcs LhaL rcgcncraLion
ulLimaLcly bccamc Lhc mcans o violcncc, and Lhc myLh o rcgcncraLion
Lhrough violcncc bccamc Lhc sLrucLuring mcLaphor o Lhc Amcrican cx-
pcricncc (). Tis nco-ArisLoLclian argumcnL has bccn widcly applicd
Lo Amcrican liLcraLurc and cLion, cspccially Lo ronLicr liLcraLurc and
WcsLcrn lms.
i6. HighsmiLhs work, o coursc, is noL Lhc only onc LhaL bcars Lhis
characLcrisLic. IL mighL bc inLcrcsLing Lo comparc, c.g., hcr work Lo LhaL
o Lwo oLhcr crimc wriLcrs roughly conLcmporary Lo hcr: 1im Tompson
and ChcsLcr Himcs. Tc ormcr is ulLimaLcly morc inLcrcsLcd in a psy-
chopaLhic vcrsion o violcncc, and Lhc laLLcr in a morc social onc (wiLh
an cmphasis on racc). YcL, all Lhrcc dcploy scrialiLy as mcans Lo inLcnsiy
Lhc mood o Lhcir work. Tcy hcighLcn Lhc aectve qualiLy o violcncc
Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL Lhc singulariLy o Lhc violcnccs rcndcrcd rcmains
irrcduciblc Lo any aLLcmpL aL accounLing or Lhcm Lhrough rccoursc Lo
mcrc individual psychologizing or allcgory. For an cxccllcnL cssay on Lhc
accLivc qualiLy o Himcss cLion, scc Fburnc.
i,. Amercan Psycho (66,o) also caLurcs a sccnc in which an appar-
cnL crimc is covcrcd ovcr or Lhc sakc o busincss.
i8. Avcry Cordon also cauLions o an all Loo quick cmbracc o dicr-
cncc as Lhc nom du our. In his analysis o conLcmporary corporaLions, hc
convincingly shows how companics Lhcmsclvcs havc coopLcd dicrcncc
Notes to pages :::i:
as a modc o govcrnancc rcsponsivc Lo laLc capiLalism (6): CorporaLc
culLurc links a vision o racial and gcndcr dversty Lo iLs cxisLing rcla-
Lions o ruling Lo producc somcLhing LhaL mighL bc callcd mulLiculLural
corporaLism (). In Lhis analysis, divcrsiLy bccomcs a managcmcnL
problcmaLic (:), jusL likc or Max Horkhcimcr and Tcodor Adorno
dicrcncc is whaL is bcing sold Lo cagcr consumcrs. Hcncc, wc scc Nikc
advcrLising iLs producL wiLh Lhc slogan 1usL do iL! (bc dicrcnL) and
SpriLc proclaiming Obcy your LhirsL (which will makc you dicrcnL
rom Lhosc loscrs who look Lo commcrcials wiLh sporLs sLars or whaL
Lhcy should drink). Also considcr LhaL Loday corporaLc Amcrica is quiLc
inLcrcsLcd in upholding somc sorL o a rmaLivc acLion policy pcrLaining
Lo highcr cducaLion. IL has long rccognizcd LhaL iLs survival in Lhc global
markcLplacc dcpcnds on iLs abiliLy Lo draw upon an applicanL pool LhaL is
su cicnLly comorLablc wiLh racial and culLural oLhcrs.
ij. FoucaulL dcscribcs Mauricc BlanchoL, Lhc Lhinkcr mosL oLcn aL-
LribuLcd wiLh having Lhcorizcd Lhc ouLsidc, and his work in Lhcsc Lcrms:
BlanchoL is pcrhaps morc Lhan jusL anoLhcr wiLncss Lo [Lhc LhoughL o
Lhc ouLsidc]. So ar as hc has wiLhdrawn inLo Lhc manicsLaLions o his
work, so complcLcly is hc, noL hiddcn by his LcxLs, buL abscnL rom Lhcir
cxisLcncc, LhaL or us hc is LhaL LhoughL iLscliLs rcal, absoluLcly dis-
LanL, shimmcring, invisiblc prcscncc, iLs incviLablc law, iLs calm, inniLc,
mcasurcd sLrcngLh (Mauricc BlanchoL :j). Scc also Dclcuzcs Foucau|t
(csp. ,o:i) or a pcrLincnL arLiculaLion o how FoucaulL himscl is an-
oLhcr Lhinkcr or whom Lhc ouLsidc was noLhing buL a old. Tis oldcd-
in ouLsidc, o coursc, is prcciscly Lhc imagc Dclcuzc givcs his planc o
immancncc: likc a oldcd piccc o papcr, Lhc insidc LhaL cnsucs rom Lhc
olding proccss is noLhing buL Lhc oldcd-in ouLsidc, Lhc suracc arca.
DcpLh, in oLhcr words, is mcrcly an cccL o Lhis olding opcraLion and
Lhus a sccondary principlc Lo LhaL o purc immancncc.
o. Tc abolishmcnL o Lhc gold sLandard in :j,: aL BrcLLon Woods
plays a crucial rolc in HardL and Ncgris narraLivc. Tis LransormaLivc,
or inLcnsiying, momcnL in capiLalisL hisLory almosL pcrccLly coincidcs
wiLh Lhc publicaLion o HighsmiLhs sccond Riplcy novcl. 1usL as Fmpirc
inLcnsicd iLs logic Lo such a dcgrcc LhaL, according Lo HardL and Ncgri,
any orccs o Lransccndcncc gavc way Lo purc immancncc, so HighsmiLhs
cncounLcr wiLh violcncc now shiLs inLo ull immancnL gcar. From Lhis
momcnL on, boLh hcr novcls and hcr shorL cLion ncvcr sLop a rming
Lhc soluLion Lo Lhc prob|ematque o violcncc LhaL HighsmiLh alrcady o-
crcd in hcr rsL Riplcy novcl.
Notes to pages :i::i i6
i,
:. CriLics who scc hcr inucnccd by cxisLcnLialism includc KakuLani,
Klcin, and Shorc. HighsmiLh hcrscl, howcvcr, did noL sccm Lo harbor
much sympaLhy or cxisLcnLialism: Tc word cxisLcnLialisL has bccomc
uzzy. ILs cxisLcnLialisL i you cuL a ngcr wiLh a kiLchcn knicbccausc
iL has happcncd. FxisLcnLialism is scl-indulgcnL, and Lhcy Lry Lo gloss
ovcr Lhis by calling iL a philosophy (Coopcr-Clark :).
i. My discussion o RobcrL DcNiro in Lhc ncxL chapLcr will conLinuc
Lhis argumcnL.
. 1can-Paul SarLrc is, o coursc, Lhc main Lhinkcr wc associaLc wiLh
LhaL philosophy. His play Les 1eux Sont Fats is buL onc cxamplc o his in
which hc plays ouL Lhc ncccssiLy o amor jat in lighL o Lhc acL LhaL you
can ncvcr changc your acLions, LhaL cvcn whcn givcn Lhc hypoLhcLical
opporLuniLy you will noL bc ablc Lo changc Lhc iniLial ouLcomc: Lhc cLcr-
nal rcLurn is always and ncccssarily onc o samcncss.
. Tc sLory is abouL F. Taylor Chccvcr who wroLc books in his
hcad, ncvcr on papcr. By Lhc Limc hc dicd agcd sixLy-Lwo, hc had wriLLcn
ourLccn novcls and crcaLcd hundrcd and LwcnLy-scvcn characLcrs, all
o whom hc, aL lcasL, rcmcmbcrcd disLincLly (:). Chccvcr, whosc dying
wish is Lo bc buricd ncxL Lo Tcnnyson in WcsLminsLcr Abbcys PocLs Cor-
ncr, cngagcs in Lhis pcculiar wriLcrly pracLicc in dirccL rcsponsc Lo a rc-
jccLion hc rcccivcd or his rsL, and only, novcl hc acLually puL on papcr.
In oLhcr words, noLwiLhsLanding Lhc abscncc o violcncc in Lhis sLory,
HighsmiLhs ccnLral conccrn is oncc again Lhc violcncc o judgmcnL.
. Hcrc Loo HighsmiLh sLands in rcmarkablc kinship Lo Lhc cxpcri-
mcnLal cLhics o FoucaulL and Dclcuzc. DissccLing Hcgcls widcly inucn-
Lial philosophy o dicrcncc and rccogniLiononc LhaL makcs dicrcncc
an cccL o a prior samcncss or idcnLiLyDclcuzc argucs LhaL Lhc mis-
orLunc in spcaking is noL spcaking, buL spcaking jor others or rcprcscnL-
ing somcLhing (Lerence and Repetton i).
6. IcsL iL bc LhoughL LhaL only Lhc poliLical righL would makc Lhcsc
disLincLions, Lurn Lo Lhc wriLings o Hcnry Ciroux, onc o Lhc mosL rc-
spccLcd Amcrican lcL-lcaning culLural criLics. Hc dcridcs TaranLinos hy-
pcrrcal violcncc bccausc hc vicws iL as csscnLially immoral (or iL is scx-
isL, racisL, and opprcssivc o Lhc working class) and lauds Lhc symbolic
violcncc o Spiclbcrg bccausc iL scrvcs Lo rccrcncc a broadcr logic and
scL o insighLs (6i).
,. IncidcnLally, Flliss cLion is shoL Lhrough wiLh Lhc noLion o acLing,
or boLh BaLcman in Amercan Psycho and Ward in C|amorama scc Lhcm-
sclvcs as acLors in lms, Lhough iL is morc clcarly Lhc casc wiLh Lhc laLLcr.
Notes to pages :ij:i
. Becoming-Violent, Becoming-DeNiro
:. Tc posLcrs imagc is a sLill Lakcn rom Lhc lms climacLic sccnc
whcn Travis cnLcrs a broLhcl nally Lo ollow Lhrough wiLh his obscssion
Lo clcan up Ncw York CiLy. Tc imagc docs noL indicaLc whcLhcr hc has
alrcady shoL somconc in Lhc hallway, buL his manic cxprcssion lcavcs no
doubL LhaL aL Lhc vcry lcasL hc cnjoys Lhc anLicipaLion o doing so.
i. In acL, pcrhaps wiLh Lhc cxccpLion o 1amcs Cagncy in Lhc :jos
and :jos, or possibly RobcrL MiLchum in Lhc :jos and :j6os, no ac-
Lor has morc singularly cmbodicd violcncc Lhan DcNiro.
. For Lwo rcccnL cssays on Lhc rolc o Lhc acc in Dclcuzcs work, scc
RushLon and SoLirin.
. According Lo Lhc !nternet Move Latabase, Meet the Parents grosscd
morc Lhan $:66 million in iLs U.S. LhcaLrical rclcasc alonc. Tc lms sc-
qucl, Meet the Fockers (dir. 1ay Roach, ioo), was cvcn morc succcssul,
grossing closc Lo $i8o million, Lhus making iL onc o Lhc mosL succcssul
lm scqucls o all Limc. Ana|yze Ts rakcd in a rcspccLablc $:o, million.
. In Trauma, Abscncc, Ioss, IaCapra cxLcnds his discussion o
mourning and mclancholia in rcsponsc Lo Lhc qucsLion o LraumaLic cx-
pcricncc in gcncral. For anoLhcr inLcrcsLing sLudy dcaling wiLh Lrauma,
scc Iandsbcrg.
6. Scc also Flliss rsL Lwo novcls, Less Tan Zero (:j8) and Ru|es oj
Attracton (:j8,). IL sccms no coincidcncc LhaL in addiLion Lo Amercan
Psycho boLh o Lhcsc novcls wcrc adapLcd or Lhc big scrccn as wcll. And
wiLh an adapLaLion o C|amorama currcnLly in producLion (dirccLcd, likc
Ru|es oj Attracton (iooi), by Rogcr Avary), Te !njormers (:jj) and Lu-
nar Park now rcmain Lhc only Fllis novcls noL ycL adapLcd or Lhc big
scrccn.
,. 1usL likc Flliss Amercan Psycho, so Olivcr SLoncs lm was accuscd
o having causcd disLurbcd minds Lo kill pcoplc in rcal lic.
8. For Lhcir mosL cxLcnsivc criLiquc o psychoanalysis, scc Ant-Oe-
dpus.
j. Scc Narcmorc, Actng, and Hirsch, Method, or cxccllcnL discus-
sions o, rcspccLivcly, Lhc hisLory o acLing and Lhc amous AcLors SLudio,
an acLing school LhaL is singlc-handcdly rcsponsiblc or Lhc cnormous
populariLy o Lhc McLhod.
:o. I will rcLurn Lo Lhc issuc o rcalism in Lhc nal chapLcr, cspccially
in Lhc rsL sccLion. For an cxccllcnL rcccnL anLhology on cincmaLic rcal-
ism, scc Ivonc Margulicss Rtes oj Rea|sm. Fssays on Corporea| Cnema.
Notes to pages :j:6 i8
ij
::. Tis lm is oLcn considcrcd ground zcro or Lhc McLhod in Amcr-
ican lm hisLory. For an cxccllcnL discussion o Lhc lm and iLs rclaLion
Lo Lhc McLhod, scc Narcmorc, csp. :ji:i.
:i. In oLhcr words, SLrasbcrgs accL is unlikc Lhc onc I Lhcorizc
LhroughouL Lhis book. SLrasbcrg cquaLcs accL wiLh cmoLion and Lhus
rcduccs Lhc ormcr Lo Lhc horizon o Lhc subjccL, Lhc accL I havc in
mind is rcduciblc nciLhcr Lo a subjccLs cmoLion nor human bcings bod-
ics. AccL, in Lhc Dclcuzcan scnsc, is propcrly LhoughL as prcsubjccLivc
and nonanLhropomorphic.
:. To namc buL Lwo lms inucnccd by Mean Streets, considcr Lhc
rsL caLurc-lcngLh corLs by Wong Kar-Wai, As Tears Co Py (:j88), and
FaLih Akin, Kurz und Schmerz|os (ShorL Sharp Shock, :jj8). BoLh lms,
dcspiLc Lhc vasLly dicrcnL socioculLural conLcxL o Lhcir scLLings, rcpcaL
Mean Streets narraLivc drama caLuring a wild, upsLarL, small-Limc crimi-
nal running hcad-on inLo ruin whilc a slighLly oldcr mcnLor nds himscl
unablc Lo prcvcnL his proLcgc rom dcsLroying himscl. SLylisLically, all
Lhrcc lms could bc considcrcd as cxprcssionisLic rcalism: LhaL is, whilc
Lhcy makc grcaL usc o sLrccL locaLions and a numbcr o oLhcr dcviccs
LhaL mark Lhcir sLylc as sLrccL rcalism, Lhis slicc o lic aLmosphcrc is in-
Lcnsicd by various cincmaLic dcviccs (such as Lhc usc o color and slow
moLion, c.g.) LhaL arc dccidcdly cxprcssionisLic.
:. In Lhc documcnLary on Lhc making o Spikc Iccs Lo the Rght
Tng (:j8j), acLor Bill Nunn, who playcd Radio Rahccm, Lhc charac-
Lcr who is bruLally sLranglcd Lo dcaLh by a cop wiLh his sLick, puLs Lhis
poinL in plain Lcrms whcn cxplaining how hc dccidcd Lo play LhaL sccnc:
I clL sorry or Lhc kid. 1usL Lhc sympaLhy I cvokcd wiLhin myscl or Lhc
characLcr hclpcd mc Lo bc Lhc characLcr. IL wasnL likc a dccp proccss. I
mcan, Im noL dccp. Im noL onc o Lhcm 1ohnny Carson caLs who gcL
on 1ohnny and say wcll, whcn I was prcparing or Rahccm, you know, I
wcnL and livcd wiLh gang mcmbcrs and you know had cm whoop my ass
a couplc o Limcs so I could rcally scc how iL clL. No, I donL havc Lo gcL
my ass kickcd Lo play likc him.
:. Civcn LhaL Tax Lrver so carcully dclincaLcs Traviss bccoming-
violcnL, iL sccms Lo mc undamcnLally misguidcd Lo rcad Lhc lms a-
mous mirror sccnc in Lcrms o cLish and casLraLion anxicLy, as, c.g.,
Amy Taubin docs (6). In LhaL sccnc, Travis docs noL misrccognizc his
own powcrs, hc docs noL disavow whaL is known and rcplacc iL wiLh
bclic and suspcnsion o disbclic (6). InsLcad, Lhc mirror sccnc dra-
maLizcs working Lhrough as a proccss immancnL Lo acLing ouL, iL consLi-
Notes to pages :8:6o
LuLcs a conLinuaLionan inLcnsicaLiono Traviss bccoming-violcnL
LhaL DcNiro dcscribcs as a bccoming-crab.
:6. Pcrhaps iL is Lhc vcry disciplinc ncccssary or accomplishing Lhis
LhaL cxplains why onc is hard-prcsscd Lo nd LcsLimonics (including
Lhosc o Lhc mosL ouLspokcn criLics o violcncc in movics) LhaL bcmoan
Lhc violcncc o, say, Lhc Star wars, Rambo, or Termnator ranchiscs. Al-
Lhough Lhcsc movics caLurc a grcaL numbcr o casualLics, iL sccms LhaL
imagcs o violcncc LhaL accL vicwcrs arc rcmarkably abscnL in Lhcm.
TaL is, I do noL Lhink LhaL Lhcsc lms havc provcn virLually immunc Lo
Lhc wraLh o campaigning poliLicians mcrcly bccausc o Lhcir idcologi-
cally conscrvaLivc conLcnL.
:,. In MaLh AnxicLy, an cxccllcnL cssay LhaL mobilizcs somc o Dc-
lcuzcs kcy conccpLs, Adcn Fvcns makcs rcmarkably similar claims abouL
Lhc uncLion o problcms and soluLions in maLhcmaLics.
:8. IncidcnLally, Lhc lm iLscl lcads Mcnand Lo arrivc aL Lhis claim
bccausc iL rcuscs Lo providc Lhc vicwcrs wiLh any susLaincd analysis o
IaMoLLas bchaviordcspiLc Lhc acL LhaL Ragng Pu|| is a biopic o a rcal
pcrson, mcaning Lhc gcncric cxpccLaLions would lcad audicnccs Lo cxpccL
much biographical maLcrial LhaL could hclp us undcrsLand IaMoLLas vio-
lcncc. InLcrcsLingly cnough, IaMoLLa himscl docs providc inormaLion
abouL his rough childhood in his auLobiography, Ragng Pu||. My Story,
buL Scorscscs lm clccLs noL Lo makc usc o LhaL kind o inormaLion
aL all.
:j. TaL imiLaLion is all abouL acLion is pcrhaps bcsL cxprcsscd by
conLcmporary advcrLising, cspccially Lhc succcssul CaLoradc and Nikc
commcrcials in which vicwcrs arc cncouragcd Lo Bc likc Mikc or 1usL
do iL!Lhc laLLcr bcing a command in which Lhc cxclamaLion poinL
mosL conciscly cxprcsscs LhaL Lhc proccss o imiLaLion rcquircs (unprob-
lcmaLizcd) acLion.
io. I say occasionally bccausc DcNiros carccr has iLs sharc o clichc
pcrormanccs. Tink Te Fan (dir. Tony ScoLL, :jj6), c.g.
i:. According Lo Lhc !nternet Move Latabase, Cape Fear grosscd $,j.:
million in U.S. LhcaLrical rclcasc. IL was Scorscscs biggcsL all-Limc box
o cc hiL unLil Te Avator (ioo), which grosscd $:oi.6: million. Tc
grosscs or Scorscscs oLhcr collaboraLions wiLh DcNiro, in ordcr o com-
mcrcial succcss in U.S. LhcaLrical rclcascs arc CoodFe||as ($6.8 million),
Casno ($i. million), Ragng Pu|| ($o million), Tax Lrver ($i:.: mil-
lion), New York, New York ($:.8 million), Kng oj Comedy ($i. million).
No daLa is availablc or Lhcir rsL collaboraLion, Mean Streets, buL I Lhink
Notes to pages :6i:; io
i:
iL is unlikcly Lo havc cxcccdcd Lhc million-dollar mark. I lisL Lhcsc num-
bcrs Lo call aLLcnLion Lo Lhc acL LhaL Lhcir collaboraLion is onc o Lhc
mosL cclcbraLcd in movic hisLory dcspiLc Lhcir lms rclaLivcly mcdiocrc
or cvcn poor box o cc pcrormancc.
ii. Tc grcaL Frcnch lm La Hane (HaLc, dir. MaLhicu KassoviLz,
:jj6) probably mosL cccLivcly uscd an homagc Lo Lhc mirror sccnc
or iLs own purposcs. BuL scc also Lown n the va||ey (dir. David 1acob-
son, ioo) in which Harlan, playcd by Fdward NorLon, who is oLcn
considcrcd Lhc lcgiLimaLc hcir Lo DcNiro, sLands in ronL o a mirror,
gun in hand, producing whaL SLcphanic Zacharck niccly dcscribcs as
a sLuLLcring sLrcam o crazy Lalk: Harlans likc Travis Bicklc crosscd
wiLh Andy Warhols silkscrccn porLraiL o a gun-slinging Flvis, a man
ouL o Limc.
Will SmiLhs acclaimcd pcrormancc in Michacl Manns A| (ioo:)
aL oncc comcs Lo mind as an cxamplc o Lhc lasLing impacL o DcNiros
Lour dc orcc in Ragng Pu||. Iikcwisc, considcr ChrisLian Balcs pcr-
ormancc in Te Machnst (dir. Brad Andcrson, ioo). Tc Lhinncss o
Balcs bodymosL rcvicwcrs likcn iL Lo imagcs o conccnLraLion camp
inmaLcsis dccply disLurbing, noL lcasL bccausc iL juxLaposcs so sLarkly
Lo his bu body in Amercan Psycho (as wcll as in Patman Pegns).
i. Bcorc Heat, DcNiro and Pacino workcd LogcLhcr on Lhc sccond
CodaLhcr lm, buL Lhcy ncvcr sharcd a sccnc.
i. Pacino, c.g., has ncvcr rcally lcarncd Lo cxprcss inLcnsiLy Lhrough
calmncss and has bccn criLicizcd or ovcr acLing in Lhis and oLhcr lms,
parLicularly bccausc hc appcars Lo rcly Loo much on Lhc (voluminous)
sLrcngLh o his vocal chords. In conLrasL, DcNiro has rcccivcd grcaL praisc
or his pcrormancc in Heat LhaL is wcll summarizcd by Rob Frascr, who
characLcrizcs DcNiros pcrormancc, cspccially in Lhc cocc sLorc sccnc
wiLh Pacino, as amounLing Lo a masLcr class in non-vcrbal acLing: iLs as
Lhough his LhoughLs and conicLing cmoLions arc wriLLcn in bold Lypc
across his acc (Manns World :,:).
i. I liL Lhis cxplanaLion rom my rcvicw cssay o Andrca Iandsbcrgs
book Prosthetc Memory.
i6. IncidcnLally, Lhis uncLion has noLhing Lo do wiLh criLcria o qual-
iLy. IL sccms Lo mc Lhcrcorc misguidcd Lo asscrL, as onc criLic docs, LhaL
DcNiros primc associaLivc valuc [is] wiLh whaL wc mighL call main-
sLrcam cincma o qualiLy (1ackson ::).
i,. Scc, c.g., Codard, Hstore(s) du Cnema (:jj8) as wcll as Richard
Brodys prolc o Codard.
Notes to pages :;j:8:
. Don DeLillos In the Ruins of the Future
:. V. S. Naipaul, rccipicnL o Lhc Nobcl prizc in liLcraLurc in OcLo-
bcr ioo:, is onc o Lhc morc promincnL wriLcrs who has rcccnLly madc
such argumcnLs, mainLaining LhaL only noncLion could capLurc Lhc
complcxiLics o Lodays world (Donadio, Irasciblc ProphcL). As Rachcl
Donadio rcporLs in Lhc New York Tmes, Lodays magazinc cdiLors sharc
Lhis uncasc abouL Lhc rclcvancc o cLion. As a rcsulL, many magazincs
such as Te At|antc Month|y, Pars Revew, Fsqure, or cp havc drasLically
cuL, or LoLally climinaLcd, Lhc spacc Lhcy LradiLionally uscd Lo allocaLc or
Lhc publicaLion o cLion (SLrongcr Tan FicLion).
i. For morc on Lhis rclaLionship, scc Bakcr, Simmons. In an oddly
prcscicnL manncr, BrcL FasLon Flliss C|amorama also orcgroundcd Lhc
rclaLionship bcLwccn consumcrism, Lhc socicLy o Lhc spccLaclc, and Lcr-
rorism as a lasL-minuLc aLLcmpL Lo sLop, and cvcn undo, Lhis dcvclop-
mcnL.
. FiscnsLcin posLulaLcs LhaL absoluLc rcalism is by no mcans Lhc
corrccL orm o pcrccpLion. IL is simply Lhc uncLion o a ccrLain orm o
social sLrucLurc (). DialccLical monLagc supposcdly rcvcals Lo vicwcrs
Lhcir Lruc condiLions o lic and inspircs Lhcm Lo acL accordingly.
. TaL Bazin carcully disLinguishcs bcLwccn pcrccpLion and scc-
ingLhaL hc suspcnds pcrccpLion as an cvcnLcsscnLially disquali-
cs him rom bcing considcrcd a phcnomcnologisL, cvcn Lhough hc is
rcqucnLly labclcd as jusL LhaL (scc Sobchack, Roscn, and 1ay). FurLhcr,
Bazins considcrablc inucncc on Lhc cincma LhoughL o Dclcuzc, who,
as 1ohn ProLcvi compcllingly argucs in Po|tca| Physcs, is noL a phc-
nomcnologisL buL a maLcrialisL, should also Lroublc any asscssmcnL o
Bazins wriLings as phcnomcnological. Iikcwisc, Danicl W. SmiLh, onc o
Dclcuzcs mosL brillianL cxcgcLcs, pcrsuasivcly argucs in his LranslaLors
inLroducLion Lo Dclcuzcs sLudy o Francis Bacons painLings LhaL Dc-
lcuzc is noL a phcnomcnologisL (xv), noLwiLhsLanding Lhc suracc simi-
lariLics bcLwccn somc o Dclcuzcs conccpLs and Lhosc o phcnomcnolo-
gisLs such as Frwin SLraus or Mauricc Mcrlcau-PonLy.
. Addrcssing a dicrcnL kind o scrccnLhc painLcrs canvasDc-
lcuzc argucs in Francs Pacon, iL would bc a misLakc Lo Lhink LhaL Lhc
painLcr works on a whiLc and virgin suracc. Tc cnLirc suracc is alrcady
invcsLcd virLually wiLh all kinds o clichcs, which iL will bc ncccssary Lo
brcak wiLh (:i). Also rcmcmbcr LhaL Dclcuzc considcrs Lhc virLual rcal.
6. In Cnema i, Dclcuzc wriLcs, I Lhc world has bccomc a bad cincma,
Notes to pages :8,:, ii
i
in which wc no longcr bclicvc, surcly a Lruc cincma can conLribuLc Lo giv-
ing us back rcasons Lo bclicvc in Lhis world and in vanishcd bodics (io:).
,. Dclcuzc argucs LhaL Lhc cLish so crucial Lo Lhc masochisLic ccon-
omy uncLions noL as a symbol, as psychoanalysis claims, buL as a ro-
zcn, arrcsLcd, Lwo-dimcnsional imagc (Masochsm :) LhaL ulLimaLcly
opcns up a paLh or novclLy Lo cmcrgc.
8. TaL DcIillos modc o narraLion uncLions ncorcalisLically mighL
noL bc a coincidcncc considcring LhaL, as Dclcuzc argucs, Lhc ncorcalisL
modc o sccing cmcrgcd rom Lhc dcsLrucLion pcrmcaLing Furopc aL Lhc
cnd o World War II (Cnema i xi). DcIillos narraLivc bcgins wiLhin and
rcsponds Lo anoLhcr, albciL dicrcnL, ruin.
j. TroughouL DcIillos carccr, moving imagcs havc sLrongly inuscd
his narraLivcs. Scc, c.g., Amercana (:j,:), whte Nose (:j8), or 0nder-
wor|d (:jj,).
:o. Nicholas Spcnccr providcs an cxccllcnL analysis o Lhc rcsonanccs
bcLwccn Virilios Lhcory o pcrccpLion and DcIillos 0nderwor|d. Hc con-
cludcs LhaL iL is LcmpLing Lo rcad DcIillos novcl as a nosLalgic appcal Lo
humanisL subjccLiviLy. Howcvcr, boLh DcIillos and Virilios inLcrcsL in
Lhc movcmcnL o Lhc human body in social spacc disposcs wiLh phcnom-
cnology and humanism (i:,). Tc Lcrms and scnLimcnL o Spcnccrs
conclusion sLrongly rcsonaLc wiLh Lhc prcscnL analysis.
::. I will rcLurn Lo Lhis LhoughL.
:i. For an cxccllcnL cssay on DcIillo and scrialiLy, scc Karnicky,
Wallpapcr Mao.
:. According Lo his inLroducLion Lo his !n the Shadow oj No Towers,
Spicgclmans rsLhand cxpcricncc o j/:: compcllcd him Lo rcLurn Lo
comix aLcr having spcnL much o Lhc dccadc bcorc Lhc millcnnium Lry-
ing Lo avoid making [Lhcm]. During his hiaLus rom comix, hc crcaLcd
many o Lhc bcsL-known covcr arL or Lhc New YorkerLhc mosL amous
onc bcing, o coursc, his black-on-black aLcrimagc LhaL appcarcd on Lhc
magazincs covcr six days aLcr Lhc aLLacks.
:. For Lhc bcsL and mosL comprchcnsivc arLiculaLion o Dclcuzcs
Lhcory o languagc, scc IcCcrclc.
:. For an cxccllcnL cxaminaLion o Adornos chiasmic sLylc, scc Nc-
alon, Maxima Immoralia`
:6. Scc also Romuald Karmakars lm Hamburger Lektonen (Ham-
burg IccLurcs, ioo6) or a powcrul cincmaLic cxamplc LhaL brings
across Lhis vcry poinL. RcsLaging word or word Lwo acLual lccLurcs givcn
by Imam Mohammcd Fazazi aL Lhc Al Quds mosquc in Hamburg LhaL
Notes to pages :,ioo
mighL havc bccn aLLcndcd by various mcmbcrs o Lhc so-callcd Hamburg
Ccll, including Lhrcc o Lhc our piloLs uscd in Lhc aLLacks o j/::, Lhis
cxcrcisc in radical cincmaLic minimalism accLivcly cnablcs iLs inLcndcd,
prcsumably cnlighLcncd audicncc Lo scnsc Lhc undamcnLally dicrcnL
logic wiLhin which Lhc Imam and his lisLcning inLcrlocuLors opcraLca
logic LhaL simply sidcsLcps any appcals Lo Lhc noLion o rccogniLion as
congurcd by FnlighLcnmcnL discourscs. For a bric discussion o Lhc
lm, scc Abcl, PosL-Wall RcaliLy.
:,. Fmpre analyzcs undamcnLalism as somcLhing LhaL is noL back-
ward-looking aL all, buL raLhcr a ncw invcnLion LhaL is parL o a poliLical
projccL [Fmpirc] againsL Lhc conLcmporary social ordcr (:8)an cm-
pirical projccL LhaL rclcnLlcssly inLcnsics capiLalisms proccsscs.
:8. On paranoia in DcIillos work, scc Allcn, HanLkc, and KnighL.
:j. Tis novcl is Lhc rsL parL o Crossmans Amcrican IcLLcr Tril-
ogy, which also includcs Te Pook oj Lazarus (:jj8) and Preeze Avenue
(unpublishcd). Tc Lrilogy iLscl is looscly paLLcrncd on DanLcs Divinc
Comcdy, wiLh Te A|phabet Man bcing an arLiculaLion o hcll, Te Pook
oj Lazarus a working Lhrough o purgaLory, and Preeze Avenue an cxprcs-
sion o salvaLion. Ironically, iL appcars LhaL Crossman ocrs his rcadcrs
salvaLion in orm o a novcl LhaL, whcn nishcd, is going Lo bc Lhrcc mil-
lion pagcs in lcngLh and, according Lo Lhc auLhors own book dcscripLion
on his Wcb siLc, will bc pcrmancnLly insLallcd in a rcading room in Ios
Angclcs in ioo,. Spcaking o violcnL accL . . .
io. Tis is indccd onc o Lhc kcy provocaLions o Dclcuzc and CuaL-
Laris work. As Shaviro glosscs Lhis poinL, Dclcuzc and CuaLLari insisL
LhaL social ormaLions bc dcncd noL by Lhcir hcgcmonic insLiLuLions
and idcologics buL by Lhcir poLcnLials or changc, noL by Lhcir norms buL
by lincs o ighL (i).
i:. Wc can obscrvc Lhis suddcn zooming in on a parLicular sLory in
many ncorcalisL lms. Tc narraLivc sLraLcgy is common Lo many cincma
acsLhcLics, buL Lhc choicc o ocus Lcnds Lo bc morc random and lcss in-
cviLablc in ncorcalism Lhan in, say, classical Hollywood cincma. For in-
sLancc, Dc Sicas Te Pcyc|e Tej ocuscs on Lhc aLhcr-son rclaLionship,
buL Lhc lms ovcrall acsLhcLic suggcsLs LhaL iL could havc bccn oLhcrwisc,
LhaL Lhcrc is no inLrinsic imporLancc Lo Lhc Lclling o Lhc spccic sLory.
TaL DcIillos narraLor quickly abandons Lhc ocus on his ncphcw mcrcly
inLcnsics Lhis ncorcalisL dcvicc: whaL sccms Lo bc mosL pcrsonaland
almosL by dcniLion mosL imporLanLis providcd as mcrcly onc non-
privilcgcd link in a scrics o imagcs.
Notes to pages io:ioj i
i
ii. Hcrc, onc mighL also rccall Lhc opcning lincs rom Tomas Pyn-
chons Cravtys Ranbow: A scrcaming comcs across Lhc sky. IL has hap-
pcncd bcorc buL Lhcrc is noLhing Lo comparc iL Lo now ().
i. In his pcrccpLivc analysis o DcIillos carly novcl, Fnd Zone (:j,i),
1amcs R. Cilcs aLLribuLcs Lhis insighL Lo DcIillo, concluding LhaL Lhc au-
Lhor ulLimaLcly rccognizcs LhaL words arc all hc has (:o8).
i. Dclcuzc makcs a similar argumcnL in chapLcr : o Francs Pacon.
i. Scc, c.g., Horkhcimcr and Adorno, CulLurc IndusLry, or such
ncgaLivc vicws.
i6. Scc parL i o Adornos cssay or his discussion o Lhc ethca| nccd
Lo mainLain a disLancc bcLwccn Lhc (cincmaLic) imagc and rcaliLy.
i,. For morc on Lhc noLion o cnraming scc, c.g., Hcidcggcr.
i8. Scc, c.g., his Postmodernsm, csp. 6.
ij. Any cursory look aL Lhc discoursc surrounding Lhc burgconing
conicL bcLwccn Lhc UniLcd SLaLcs and Islamic undamcnLalism bcorc
j/:: immcdiaLcly rcvcals judgmcnL as a sLraLcgic orcc boLh sidcs rclcnL-
lcssly mobilizcd Lo Lhc dcLrimcnL o almosL any oLhcr modc o cncoun-
Lcr. Whilc Lhis rhcLoric o judgmcnL did noL causc j/::, iL playcd a sig-
nicanL rolc in Lhc cvcnLs gcncalogy.
o. Tc U.S. Fmbassy in Scoul, SouLh Korca, sccms Lo disagrcc. Com-
mcnLing on a shorLcr vcrsion o Lhis chapLcr publishcd in rVt/, Lhc cm-
bassys WcbsiLc absLracLs my arLiclc by claiming LhaL my argumcnL is ad-
vocacy o moral rclaLivism, as i Lo warn poLcnLial rcadcrs Lo bc lccry o
my argumcnL lcsL Lhcy gcL suckcd inLo un-Amcrican ways o Lhinking.
:. I anyLhing, a rushcd a rmaLion o judgmcnL consLiLuLcs moral
rclaLivism, as NicLzschc argucs in Te Cenea|ogy oj Mora|s, asking, whaL
i moraliLy was Lhc dangcr o dangcrs (io)`
i. Civcn Lhcir dicrcnL rcalms o inucncc ovcr conLcmporary
LhoughL, an cxLcndcd analysis o Dclcuzcs and Adornos work in con-
juncLion wiLh cach oLhcr mighL vcry wcll provc Lo bc cnormously ruiLul
or disciplincs such as lm and liLcrary sLudics, culLural sLudics, as wcll
as philosophy. To daLc, Lhough, surprisingly cw criLical analyscs o Lhc
rclaLionship bcLwccn Lhcsc Lwo Lhinkcrs havc bccn produccd. For Lhc
mosL inLcrcsLing, scc Toolc, NcsbiLL, Musical MulLipliciLy and Fxpul-
sion o Lhc NcgaLivc, and chapLcrs and 6 in SLuhr.
. Scc ick, Sub|me Obect oj !deo|ogy, csp. io:,. In Silvcrmans
wor|d Spectators, which mcrgcs Iacan and Hcidcggcr in ordcr Lo show
LhaL visual pcrccpLion [raLhcr Lhan linguisLic cxprcssion] comcs rsL
(:i8), Lhc sublimc, Lhough noL namcd as such, pcrcolaLcs as Lhc Iaca-
Notes to pages io;iii
nian impossiblc non-objccL o dcsirc inccLcd by Hcidcggcrian Das-
cin. KanL discusscs Lhc sublimc in his Crtque oj 1udgment.
. 1can-Franois IyoLard aphorisLically cxprcsscs Lhis whcn hc as-
scrLs, that Lhcrc is [prcccdcs] what Lhcrc is (!nhuman 8i). For IyoLard,
Lhis Lhcrc is arLiculaLcs Lhc sublimc as a rclaLion o orcc or a maLLcr
o inLcnsicaLion (:oo). AlLhough hc succcssully wrcsLlcs Lhc sublimc
away rom Lhcorics LhaL congurc iL in Lcrms o lack, I hcsiLaLc Lo Lurn
Lo IyoLard simply bccausc I car LhaL Lhcorics o lack havc Loo much o
a sLronghold ovcr Lhc discoursc o Lhc sublimc or Lhc discoursc o Lhc
sublimc Lo bc uscul Lo Lhis projccLs purposcs. Paul Virilio discusscs in
dcpLh Lhc issuc o spccd in, c.g., Aesthetcs oj Lsappearance and Cround
Zero, his cssay on j/::.
Notes to page iii i6
,/::. Dir. 1ulcs and Ccdcon NaudcL. iooi. bvb. ParamounL Homc
Vidco, iooi.
Abcl, Marco. Fargo: Tc ViolcnL ProducLion o Lhc MasochisLic ConLracL
as a CincmaLic ConccpL. Crtca| Studes n Mass Communcaton :6.
(:jjj): o8i8.
. Tc SLaLc o Tings ParL Two: Morc Imagcs or a PosL-Wall
Ccrman RcaliLy. Senses oj Cnema. An On|ne F|m 1ourna| Le-
voted to the Serous and Fc|ectc Lscusson oj Cnema j (April1unc
ioo6). hLLp://www.scnscsocincma.com/conLcnLs/csLivals/o6/j/
bcrlinioo6.hLml.
. Rcv. o Prosthetc Memory. Te Transjormaton oj Amercan Re-
membrance n the Age oj Mass Cu|ture, by Alison Iandsbcrg. Quarter|y
Revew oj F|m and vdeo i. (ioo6): ,,88.
. Spccding across Lhc Rhizomc: Dclcuzc MccLs Kcrouac On the
Road. Modern Fcton Studes 8.i (iooi): ii,6.
Ackcr, KaLhy. WriLing, IdcnLiLy, and CopyrighL in Lhc NcL Agc. Ac-
ccsscd April j, iooi. hLLp://www.calarLs.cdu/~ackcr/ackadcmy/
copyrighL.hLml.
Adorno, Tcodor. Aesthetc Teory. Trans. RobcrL HulloL-KcnLor. Minnc-
apolis: UnivcrsiLy o MinncsoLa Prcss, :jjj.
. Mnma Mora|a. Reectons jrom a Lamaged Lje. Trans. F. F. N.
1cphcoLL. Iondon: Ncw IcL Books, :j,.
. Negatve La|ectcs. Trans. F. B. AshLon. Ncw York: ConLinuum,
:j,.
. Prsms. Trans. Samucl and Shcrry Wcbcr. Cambridgc: ri1 Prcss,
:jj.
. Transparcncics on Film. New Cerman Crtque i/i (Fall
:j8:WinLcr :j8i): :jjio.
Allcn, Clcn ScoLL. Raids on Lhc Conscious: Pynchons Icgacy o Paranoia
and Lhc Tcrrorism o UnccrLainLy in Don DcIillos Ratners Star. Post-
Pb|ography i8
modern Cu|ture .i (:jj). Acccsscd 1uly i6, iooi. hLLp://musc.jhu
.cdu/journals/posLmodcrn_culLurc/voo/.iallcn.hLml.
AlLman, Rick. F|m/Cenre. Iondon: sri, :jjj.
Amercan Psycho. Dir. Mary Harron. iooo. bvb. Univcrsal SLudios,
iooo.
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Abcl, Marco, in:6
acLing: languagc o, :o:, as
mimcLic proccdurc, :, as
a pracLicc o imagining, :::,
Lcchniquc o, :6:
Actng n the Cnema (Narcmorc),
:
acLing ouL, :o, :i, :,
:,6, :66, McLhod modc
o, :,:, mirror sccnc shows,
ijn:, moral qualiLy o, :6,,
and rcpcLiLion, :6j, :,o, as
violcncc, :, and working
Lhrough, :,j
AcLors SLudio, :8, :o, i8nj
adapLaLions, cincmaLic, :
Adlcr, SLclla, :,, :8, ::, :i,
:, conccpLion o acLing o,
:8, and inucncc on DcNiro,
:66
Adorno, Tcodor, xiv, :j8, ioj,
i:o, i8n:, ini8, chiasmic
sLylc o, in:, and ncgaLivc
dialccLic, iioi:, and pocLry
aLcr AuschwiLz, i:i:
acsLhcLic rcalism, :6
Aesthetcs oj Lsappearance (Vir-
ilio), i6n
accL, 6, ,, ii, as clichc, ,
as consLiLuLivc aLLribuLc,
ini,, as crucial orcc, j,
dcniLion o, ::, ,, and
cmoLion, i8n:i, as orcc o
dicrcncc, 8, and inLcnsiLy,
:, as main orcc, ,, as mcans
o arLiculaLion, ,, as nonan-
Lhropomorphic, ijn:i, as
rcsponsc Lo LraumaLic cvcnLs,
::, violcncc as, ::j, :,, vo-
cabulary o, 8, waning o, o
accLivc mcmory, :,, :8, :j
Akin, FaLih, ijn:
algoriLhm: mcLhodological, :j,
pcdagogical, :j
A| (Mann), i:nii
A||egores oj Readng (dc Man), 6
Te A|phabet Man (Crossman),
io, in:j
al-Quacda, ploLLing o, ioi
alLcriLy, i6
AlLman, Rick, in:
Amateur (HarLlcy), ::
Amcrica, violcncc in, :
Amercana (DcIillo), inj
Amercan Psycho (book) (Fllis), xvi,
xvii, ij, ion:, i8n,, criLi-
cal discoursc abouL, :, ,
,, orccs o violcncc in, ,:,
haLrcd o, 8, 8,, immoraliLy
o, j, and rcprcscnLaLion, i,,
saLirc o, o, as scqucncc o
masks, 8, shock o, ,i
!ndex i,6
Amercan Psycho (lm) (Harron),
xvi, i:nii, criLical rcsponsc
Lo, , as a doublc rc-
sponsc, j, libcralism in,
ino, Rcaganomics in, o,
and rcprcscnLaLion, i,, sa-
Lirical qualiLics o, i, as a
surrcal saLirc, ion, in:8,
and usc o color, ij
Amercan Tab|od (Fllroy), ioi, io
AmncsLy InLcrnaLional, :ii
analogy and movcmcnL, ioj:o
Ana|yze Ts (Ramis), :,, :,6,
acc sccnc rom, :6,, :68,
:,:, :,, and spoo o carlicr
DcNiro rolcs, :j, :,
and suggcsLcd violcncc, :,o
Ange| Heart (Parkcr), :8
Anmatng (Slack), i8n:
Anncslcy, 1amcs, iin:
anLihumanism, 6,
Ant-Oedpus (Dclcuzc and CuaL-
Lari), i8n8
anLiquarian hisLory, 8i, ioni
arcprcscnLaLionalism, ,,
ArisLoLlc, ini
Arnold, MaLLhcw, , 6o6:, ,:,
i,n8
ArLaud, AnLonin,
asignicaLion, ,, ,o, ,
As Tears Co Py (Kar-Wai), ijn:
audicncc o HighsmiLhs work,
:i,i8
AuschwiLz, 8, :o, pocLry aLcr,
i:i:
AusLcr, Paul, i:i
auLhcnLiciLy, logic o, ijni:
Te Autobography oj Ma|co|m X,
:8
Te Avator (Scorscsc), ioni:
Bacon, Francis, , :,8, iin
Badiou, Alain, ,, ioni8
Bacr, Ulrich, ii:ii
Baldwin, 1amcs, ,
Baldwin, KrisLcn, ion:
Balc, ChrisLian, , i:nii
Parton Fnk (Cocn BroLhcrs),
ii8n6
BaLcman, PaLrick, ij, o, 8, ,
:o, and amoraliLy, jo
Patman Pegns (Nolan), inii,
i:nii
Baudrillard, 1can, ,j
BaxLcr, Tara, ion:
Bazin, Andrc, :j, i:o, iii, and
acsLhcLic rcalism, :6, and
cincmaLic rcpcLiLion, i::, and
inucncc on Codard, :j8,
and ncorcalisL conccpLion o
sccing, :j, and pcrccpLion,
iin, Lhcory o cincma o,
:j:j
A Peautju| Mnd (Howard), :o
Peautju| Shadow (Wilson), 88
BcckcLL, Samucl, :ii6
bccoming, :o6,, :o8:o, :::
bccoming-obcsc, :66, :,
Pejore Nght Fa||s (Schnabcl), :o
Bcing as bccoming, i::, ioni8
Pergsonsm (Dclcuzc), io:
Bcrubc, Michacl, i,n8
Bicklc, Travis, :, :8, :,o,
i:nii
Te Pcyc|e Tej (DcSica), ii8n,
ini:
BlanchoL, Mauricc, :o, :6,
i:n:o, i:no, i6nij
!ndex i,,
blood: aLLracLion o, :8o, usc o in
lm, ij
P|ood Smp|e (Cocn BroLhcrs), :,
:, ii8n6
Bloom, Allan, i,n8
Te P|underer (HighsmiLh), :oo
Boguc, Ronald, i8n:
Bolcslavski, Richard, :,
Te Pook oj Lazarus (Crossman),
in:j
Bordwcll, David, ii8n,, i6n,
ioni6
borcdom: in Amercan Psycho
(lm), , as an inLcnsicr,
:6i6, o violcncc, 6
Boundas, ConsLanLin, ,, i6n
Bovasso, 1ulic, :j6o
Te Poy who Fo||owed Rp|ey
(HighsmiLh), :ij, i:ni
Brando, Marlon, :8, :,, :6
6, :,6
Preeze Avenue (Crossman), in:j
Brody, Richard, i:ni,
Bronski, Michacl, 88, 8j, i:n:
Te Protherhood oj Mut|aton
(Fvcnson), o
Brownc, Nick, xi
BruLc Forcc (Dcnby), :6
Buchanan, Ian, i8n:
Bunkcr, Archic, 66
Bush, Ccorgc W., :86, :j
Cagncy, 1amcs, i8ni
Cain, 1amcs M., i
Cape Fear (Scorscsc), :j, :,,
:,, box o cc succcss o,
ioni:
capiLalism: Amcrican, i, 6, vio-
lcncc o, iijn:o
Caro| (HighsmiLh), jj
Carroll, Nocl, ii8n,, in:
CarLcr, Philip, ::
Casno (Scorscsc), :j, :, :,,
box o cc succcss o, ioni:
Cavani, Iiliana, i:n
Cavcll, SLanlcy, ii,n
Chabrol, Claudc, i:n
chancc, :j, a rmaLion o, :,, in-
abiliLy Lo dcal wiLh, :i
Chandlcr, Raymond, i
chariLy, :iii
Chccvcr, F. Taylor, i,n
ChrisLianiLy, 8o
cincma, powcr o, i::
Cnema i (Dclcuzc), io:, iin6
Cnematc Pody (Shaviro), iijn:
Cty oj C|ass (AusLcr), i:i, i:,
Clapp, Susannah, 8,, 88, in:6
C|assca| Ho||ywood Cnema (Bord-
wcll, SLaigcr, and Tompson),
:6
ClcmcnL, Rcnc, i:n
clichc: avoiding, i, ghLing
againsL, :, o rcprcscnLaLion,
:6
Cochran, David, :oo
Cocn BroLhcrs, xvi, , 6, ,, j, i:,
ii, ii,n, ii8n8, lming
sLylc o, ::, :,, :8, and
M||ers Crossing, , 6,, j,
:88, and usc o color, ii8n6
cogniLivism, ii8n,, i6n
Colcbrook, Clairc, 8:, :j:
color, uncLion o, ii8n6
Columbinc shooLing, :o
comcdy and violcncc, ion
comparison, ij, as classica-
Lion, 6, judgmcnLal modc
o,
!ndex i,8
Te Conquest oj Coo| (Frank), 6
conscicncc, moral, 6
ConscrvaLory or AcLing, ::
consLrucLivism, social, :j6
consumcr culLurc, iin:i
conLcxL o violcncc, xv
conLracL, i6, masochisLic, :,:j,
i:ii
Conway, 1immy, :,i
Coopcr, Dcnnis, o
Coppola, Francis Ford, :j
copy, conccpLs o, ,j,8
Corlconc, Don, :6, :6, :6, :,6
Cox, Tom, i:n
CraL, Nikki, ion:
criLical pracLicc, dcscripLion o, 6:
criLicism, :8o, :8:, i:8, aca-
dcmic, 6, comparaLivc, ,
conLcmporary, 6o, culLural, 6o,
lm, in:, uncLion o, ::,
is abouL comparing, , in
rcprcscnLaLional modc, ,8, liL-
crary, 6, 6j, and moral judg-
mcnLs, 8, opcraLion o, ,,
public, 6i, rcprcscnLaLional,
i8, o violcncc, i
Crtque oj 1udgment (KanL),
ijnii, in
Te Cry oj the Ow| (HighsmiLh),
::
CrysLal, Billy, :, :68
culLural sLudics, 6j,,, 8,
i,n8, i8n:, i8n:
Cu|tura| Studes Reader (During),
i8n:
culLurc, conccpL o, ,i
Tc CulLurc IndusLry (Hork-
hcimcr and Adorno), i8n:,
ini
Cunningham, ValcnLinc, :jj6
Daddy (PlaLh), :8
Dcan, 1amcs, :j
dcconsLrucLion, ,6, Amcrican,
6, 66j, ini, in,
i8n:, dc Mancan, 8, domi-
nanL, ,
Leep water (HighsmiLh), ::
dccrral, logic o, ii
Dclcuzc, Cillcs, :j8, i:n::,
in, and acLing proccsscs,
:6o, analysis o violcncc, 8,
arcprcscnLaLional LhoughL
o, ,, and asignicaLion, ,o,
and bccoming, :o6, :j,
and bclic in lic, 8, cincma
LhoughL o, iin, and cul-
Lural sLudics, i8n:, dicr-
cnLial philosophy o, j6, and
FLcrnal RcLurn, :i6, :ij, cx-
pcrimcnLal cLhics o, i,n,
and Lhc acc, :,, :8o8:, and
acialiLy, :6,, :6,, :,j,
and cLishizing, i:, and Francs
Pacon, ix, , and undamcnLal
Lask o philosophy, iin6, and
immanancc, j:, impacL o,
iijn:i, iijn:, and incorpo-
rcal LransormaLion, :oj, and
inucncc on HardL and Ncgri,
ji, and iLincraLion, :i, and
judgmcnL, j, j, lack
o inucncc o, ,6,,, and
masochism, :8, ii, i, and
masochism sympLomaLology,
iioi:, masochisLic proccsscs
dcscribcd by, :6i, and mcLhod
acLing, :,, and obscrva-
!ndex i,j
Lion on cincma, :66, and Lhc
painLcrs canvas, iin, and
PlaLonism, ,,8, i:n,,
ioni, and posL-sLrucLural
Lhinking, xivxv, and prob-
lcms in maLhcmaLics, ion:,,
and psychoanalysis, :, and
Lhc scl, :, and spcaking
or oLhcrs, :j8, and sLoryLcll-
ing, i, and Lcaching, io,
and Lhcory and pracLicc, :,
and Lhcory o languagc, :j6,
in:, and Lhc ouLsidc,
:o, and Lhc unconscious as
LhcaLcr, :, and violcncc,
i:no, and Lhc world as a
cincma, iin6
Le|euze and Lterature (Buchanan
and Marks), i8n:
Le|euze on Lterature (Boguc),
i8n:
DcIillo, Don, :8iii, iin:i,
and cssay on j/:: aLLacks, xvi,
i:, i,, modc o narraLion o,
in8
dc Man, Paul, 6, 66j, ,8
Dcnby, David, :6
DcNiro, RobcrL, xvi, i:, i,,
:8:, characLcrs o, :j, as
acc o violcncc in Amcrican
cincma, :, and lack o cxpc-
ricncc o violcncc, :86, obscs-
sivc rhyLhm o, iin:i
DcPalma, Brian, :j
Ler amerkansche Freund (Tc
Amcrican Fricnd) (Wcndcr),
iin
Dcrrida, 1acqucs, i:n:o, in,
and Amcrican dcconsLrucLion,
i8n:, and Bcing, :, and
dicrancc, xvi, and posL-
sLrucLuralisL LhoughL, i6n,
as posL-sLrucLural Lhinkcr, xiv,
, and sccond dcconsLrucLivc
movc, i,n,, and violcncc,
i:no, and WcsLcrn mcLa-
physics, ,,
DcSica, ViLLorio, :j:, ii8n,
ini:
Letours and Lost Hghways
(Hirsch), ii,n
dicrcncc, :i:, ini8
Dicrancc (Dcrrida), in
Lerence and Repetton (Dc-
lcuzc), :, i:n::
Lsenchantng Les Pons Temps (SLi-
valc), i8n:
Ltes-|u que e |ame (Millcr), i:n
division, PlaLonic, ,8
Donadio, Rachcl, iin:
Lo the Rght Tng (Icc), ijn:
Loub|e Readng (Ncalon), i,n,
Dougan, Andy, :8, :66, :8o
Lown n the va||ey (1acobson),
i:nii
Doylc, Richard, ion:,
DSouza, Dincsh, i,n8
Dunaway, Fayc, :j
Dunkcr, PaLricia, ijnio
DuponL, 1oan, in:6
During, Flic, ijn:
During, Simon, i8n:
Fbert and Roper at the Moves, 6i
cconomy, masochisLic, i:
Fdths Lary (HighsmiLh), in:
cducaLion, masochisLs dcsirc or,
:j
!ndex i8o
FiscnsLcin, Scrgci, :j:, :ji,
iin
cllipLical proccss, ioj
Fllis, BrcL FasLon, xvi, xvii, i:,
ij, ion:, i8n6, and acc-
Livc cncounLcr wiLh world, 8,
and conccrn wiLh judgmcnL,
jo, and consumcrism, iini,
amc o, i,nj, and haLrcd o
novcl, :, 8, ,i, 8,, and rc-
pcLiLivcncss o work, iin:i,
violcnL cLion o, :o
Fllison, Ralph, ,
Fllroy, 1amcs, ioi
Fmpre (HardL and Ncgri),
jij, ::ji:, :i, io:, i:,
in:,
Fnd Zone (DcIillo), ini
cngagcmcnL, sLylc o, j
Te Fng|sh Patent (Minghclla), 88
Fntertanment week|y, 6i
Frcolini, Cina, ijnio
Fsqure, iin:
FLcrnal RcLurn: conccpL o, :,
orcc o, :ij, habiLuaLion via
Lhc, :i
cLhics, i, conccpLions o, :i,
iijn:o, dcniLion o, :,,,8,
and climinaLion o chancc, ,
as moraliLy, :i, as a sLaLic
conLracL, :, violcncc o,
:o:
Fvcns, Adcn, ion:,
Fvcnson, Brian, o
cxisLcnLialism, :ii6, i,n:
cxpcrimcnLaLion, a rmaLivc, :6j
cxploiLaLion, cconomic, :
Fxp|orng Techno|ogy and Soca|
Space (Wisc), i8n:
cxLrcmism, violcnL, :
acc: o DcNiro, :,, rolc in acL-
ing, :6,
accs, :6,
acc-Lo-acc, conccpL o, :,,
acializaLion: proccss o, :,, :8o,
o violcncc, :,6, :8:
Fallon, 1immy, :,
Te Fan (ScoLL), ionio
Fargo (Cocn BroLhcrs), :, :, :,,
:8, and usc o color, ii8n6
ascinaLion as a passion, :6
Fazazi, Imam Mohammcd,
in:6
cLish, ioi:
cLishizing, i:
cLion, rclcvancc o, iin:
guraLion, lcvcl o, 6,
Figurc, 8, j, isolaLion o Lhc, ,
lm: violcncc in, ii8n,
Te F|ms oj Martn Scorsese,
:,6;;. Authorshp and Con-
text (CrisL), :8o
lm sLudics, ioni, ioni6
ighL as qucsLion o inLcnsiLy or
accL, j
Fonda, 1anc, :j
orccs: accLivc, :o, capLuring, j,
imagcs in Lcrms o, xiv
orgcLLing, :jio, acLivc, :6j
FoucaulL, Michcl, ix, i6nij, and
asignicaLion, ,o, and criLi-
cism, i:, diagnosLic insighL
o, i:j, cxpcrimcnLal cLhics
o, i,n, and immancncc,
j:, and Ncw HisLoricism,
i8n:, and noLion o Lhc
scl, :j, as posL-sLrucLural
!ndex i8:
Lhinkcr, xiv, , and rcprc-
scnLaLion, ,, and spcaking
or oLhcrs, :j8, and Lhcory
and pracLicc, :, and Lhc
ouLsidc, :o, and violcncc,
i:no
FoucaulLcan cLhics, joj:
Found n the Street (HighsmiLh),
:oo, in:6
Te Four Hundred P|ows (Tru-
auL), :j
Francs Pacon (Dclcuzc), iin
Francs Pacon. Te Logc oj Sen-
saton, (Dclcuzc), ix, xiv, j,
::,
Frank, Tomas, 6
FrankurL School, i8n:
Frascr, Rob, :6o, i:ni
Frccccro, Carla, iin:
Frcud, Sigmund, i,, ::i, :8,
i8n:
Frsk (Coopcr), o
Tc FuncLion o CriLicism (Ar-
nold), 6o
undamcnLalism, in:,, Is-
lamic, inij
A Came jor the Lvng (HighsmiLh),
::
Te Cenea|ogy oj Mora|s (NicLz-
schc), in:
Cibson, Mcl, 6
Cilcs, 1amcs R., x, ini
Te Cr| jrom Monday (HarLlcy),
::
Ciroux, Hcnry, i,n6
C|amorama (Fllis), jo, :o, iini
Te C|ass Ce|| (HighsmiLh), ::
global orccs, :i
globalizaLion, i:, i:6, as
ciLizcn-consumcr uLopia, io:,
and j/:: aLLacks, :jj
Codard, 1can-Iuc, ij, :8:, :j8,
i:i, ii, i:ni,
Te Codjather (Coppola), :,6
Te Codjather !! (Coppola), :j,
:6, :6, :6,
gold sLandard, abolishmcnL o
(:j,:), i6no
CoodFe||as (Scorscsc), :j, :,
:,i, box o cc succcss o,
ioni:
Cordon, Avcry, ini8
Crand Tcory in lm sLudics,
ii8n,
Cravtys Ranbow (Pynchon),
inii
Crccnlca, Richard, :o
CrisL, IcighLon, :8o
Crossbcrg, Iawrcncc, 6i, 6j,,,
,8, i8n:i
Crossman, Richard, io, in:j
Cround Zero (Virilio), i6n
Croup TcaLcr, :,
CuaLLari, Fclix, xv, 8, and acLing
proccsscs, :6o, and bccom-
ing, :o6, :j, and Lhc acc,
:,, :8o8:, and acialiLy,
:6,, :,j, and acializa-
Lion, :6,, and undamcnLal
Lask o philosophy, iin6, and
incorporcal LransormaLion,
:oj, and inucncc on HardL
and Ncgri, ji, and iLincraLion,
:i, and mcLhod acLing, :,,
and psychoanalysis, :, and
Lhc unconscious as LhcaLcr,
:
!ndex i8i
hacccciLics, io
Ha||ucnatng Foucau|t (Dunkcr),
ijnio
Hamburg Ccll, in:6
Hamburger Lektonen (Karmakar),
in:6
HammcLL, Dashicll, i, :8
A Handbook to Lterature (Hol-
man), 6o
Hanna, VinccnL, :,6, :,,, :,8
HardL, Michacl, xiv, ::ji:, :ii,
io:, i:, and capiLalisms
modc o powcr, jij, as
MarxisL culLural LhcorisL,
,, and moral inLcrvcnLion,
:ii
Harmon, William, 6o
Harpers Magazne, :8j, :jo
Harrison, Russcll, :i, in:
Harron, Mary, xvi, ij:, :,
8, and accLivc orcc, o, as
cminisL dirccLor, 8,, lming
Amercan Psycho, :
HarLlcy, Hal, ::
Harvcy, Dcnnis, ion:
Haycs Codc,
Hayward, Susan, :6
Heat (Mann), :j, :, :,6, :,8,
i:ni, i:ni
Hcgcl, C. W. F. (Ccorg Wilhclm
Fricdrich): and bccoming, :j,
and dialccLics, iio, and dicr-
cncc, i,n, and Hcgclian
sysLcm, io, i
Hcidcggcr, MarLin, 8, ,,, in
Hcmmings, Clarc, ini8
HighsmiLh, PaLricia, xvi, i:, i,,
and borcdom, ::,:j, and
criLicism, ,, and cxpcrimcn-
Lal cLhics, i,n, cLion o,
:8, and judgmcnL, :j6, and
monoLony o hcr work, ::
:6, and rcalm o judgmcnL, 8,
and scqucncc o masks, 8,
violcncc o, 8,:i, and vio-
lcncc o judgmcnL, i,n
Hghsmth. A Romance oj the :,jos
(Mcakcr), 88
Himcs, ChcsLcr, ,, ini6
Hroshma Mon Amour (Rcsnais),
ii8n
Hirsch, FosLcr, :,, :8, :j,
ii,n
Hstore(s) du Cnema (Codard),
i:ni,
Hstory and Memory ajter Ausch-
wtz (IaCapra), :o
Holman, C. Hugh, 6o
HolocausL, i:. See a|so Ausch-
wiLz
Horkhcimcr, Max, i8n:,
ini8
Houcllcbccq, Michcl, i,n:o
Hublcy, Frlcnc, :o
Hudson, ChrisLophcr, j
Humc, KaLhryn, inij
Huxlcy, Tomas Hcnry, 6:
Idcas: puriLy o Lhc, ,j, Lhcory o,
,8,j
imagcs: orcc o, iin:i, jusL, :j8,
as producLivc o cccLs Lhrough
accLs, 886, violcnL, :
imaging proccsscs, i:
imiLaLion, ion:j, proccss o,
:, and rccollccLion, in:j.
See a|so mimcsis
immancncc, 8, :::, lcsson o,
!ndex i8
:i, philosophy o, ,, planc
o, xv, :io
immancnL orccs, violcncc and
judgmcnL as, ::j
impcraLivc, moral, 6
impcrsonaLion, :o8
Te !nnte Conversaton (Blan-
choL), i:n:o
Te !njormers (Fllis), i8n6
Ingham, Howard, ::6:,
!nsde the Actors Studo (IipLon),
::
inLcnsiLy, 8
inLcrprcLaLivc sLudics, xii
inLcrvcnLion, :ii, moral, :i
In Lhc Ruins o Lhc FuLurc
(DcIillo), :8iii
!n the Shadow oj No Towers (Spic-
gclman), in:
!nto|erab|e Crue|ty (Cocn BroLh-
crs), ii,n
InLroducing Film FvaluaLion
(Carroll), in:
! Shot Andy warho| (Harron), :
iLincraLion, :i
1acobson, David, i:nii
1amcson, Frcdric, o, ,j, i:
1FK (SLonc), ioi, io
1oe| and Fthan Coen (Palmcr),
ii,n
1ohnny Boy, :i, :j, :,o,
:,i
judgmcnL, ijj, dccrring,
i:,:8, dcniLion o, 8, gc-
ncalogy o, 6o86, issuc o, jo,
moral valuc, 68, as opcraLion
o rcprcscnLaLion, ,8, passing,
j:, problcm o, i::, qucs-
Lions o, 8j, j,, :oi, rcalm
o, 8, as a sLraLcgic orcc,
inij, suspcnding, :886,
and violcncc, :o:, ::,, :i
jusLicc, public passion or, ji
jusLicaLion, moral, 6
Kaka, Franz, :oi
Kajka. Toward a Mnor Ltera-
ture (Dclcuzc and CuaLLari),
in:
KakuLani, Michiko, 8,, j,,
ini, i,n:
KanL, Immanucl, :i6, iii,
ijnii, in
Karmakar, Romuald, in:6
Karnicky, 1crcy, :6, in:i
Kar-Wai, Wong, ijn:
KassoviLz, MaLhicu, i:nii
Kazan, Flia, :8, :
KcaLon, Dianc, :j
Kccncr, Rydal, :::
Kclscy, David, ::
Kcnncdy, 1ohn F., assassinaLion
o, ioi
Kcrouac, 1ack, ijn:6
K||er !nsde Me (Tompson), ,
King, Cco, ion
Kng oj Comedy (Scorscsc), :8,
ioni:
Kngs oj the Road (Wcndcrs), :jj
Klcc, Paul, j
Klcin, KaLhlccn Crcgory, j,,
i,n:
Kolkcr, RobcrL, :8o
Kooijman, 1aap, ini:
Kunklc, Shcila, i,n6
Kurz und Schmerz|os (Akin),
ijn:
!ndex i8
Iab (Amcrican IaboraLory Tc-
aLcr), :8
Iacan, 1aqucs, ,, iin:,
i8n:, in
Lacan and Contemporary F|m (Mc-
Cowan and Kunklc), i,n6
Iacanian lm Lhcory, i6n
Iacanian psychoanalysis, ,,
i8n:
IaCapra, Dominick, :o, :6,
::, :6,, and mclancholic
acLing ouL, :6, and mimcLic
acLing, :,j
La Chnose (Codard), ii
lack, Lhcorics o, i6n
Te Ladyk||ers (Cocn BroLhcrs),
ii,n
La Hane (HaLc) (KassoviLz),
i:nii
Iainc, Tarja, ini:
La 1etee (Markcr), ii8n
IambcrL, Crcgg, i8n:
IaMoLLa, 1akc, :8, :6, :,o,
:,, ion:8
languagc: as an acL o violcncc,
i:n:o, asigniying orcc o,
,,, rcprcscnLaLional, ii
Iansbcrg, Andrca, i:ni
Icaud, 1can Picrrc, :j
IcCcrclc, 1can-1acqucs, in:
Le Cr du Hbou (Chabrol), i:n
Icc, Spikc, ijn:
Iconc, Scrgio, :j
Les 1eux Sont Fats (SarLrc),
i,n
Less Tan Zero (Fllis), ,i, i8n6
Icvinas, Fmanucl, :,,,8
libcralism in Amercan Psycho
(lm) (Harron), ino
Lbra (DcIillo), :jo
IipLon, 1amcs, ::
liLcraLurc, violcncc in, ii8n,
logic: mcLaphorical, 66, mcL-
onymical, 66
IoLringcr, Sylvcrc, ijn:
Iowcll, RobcrL, j
Lunar Park (Fllis), iin:i, i8n6
IyoLard, 1can-Franois, i6n
MacFarland, ChcsLcr, :::
Te Machnst (Andcrson), i:nii
Mailcr, Norman, iin:6
Makng Meanng (Bordwcll),
ioni6
Mann, Michacl, :,6, i:nii
Mann, Paul, i
Manson, Marilyn, :
Te Man who wasnt Tere (Cocn
BroLhcrs), ii8n6
Tc Man Who WroLc Books in
His Hcad (HighsmiLh), :i8
Mao !! (DcIillo), :jo
Margulics, Ivonc, i8n:o
Markcr, Chris, ii8n
Marks, 1ohn, i8n:
Marx, Karl, i8n:, and violcncc,
i:no
Tc Maskcd Philosophcr (Fou-
caulL), ix
Maslin, 1ancL, 88
masochism, j, :i,, :8:, i:o,
i:j, iijn:, dcniLion o,
i:, and dcsirc Lo cducaLc, :j,
pracLicc o, io, ii,, :6i,
violcncc o, :i. See a|so
Hcgcl, C. W. F. (Ccorg Wilhclm
Fricdrich)
Masochsm. Co|dness and Crue|ty
!ndex i8
(Dclcuzc), xiv, 8, iijn:i,
iijn:
masochisL, i:, i6, anxicLy o Lhc,
ii
masochisLic sympLomaLology,
iioi:
masocriLical pracLicc, ii,
masocriLicism, xiii, ii8, ,,
:j,, i:
Massumi, Brian, ::, 8, ,,
i8n:i
MaLh AnxicLy, ion:,
Te Matrx (Andy and Iarry Wa-
chowski), ii
Maxima Immoralia` (Ncalon),
in:
McCaulcy, Ncil, :,6, :,,, :,8
McCowan, Todd, i,n6
Mcakcr, Marijanc, 88
mcaning: cmphasis on, i6n,
producLion o, ,
Mean Streets (Scorscsc), :j,
:i, :j, :6,, :,:,
ioni:
Mcdccins sans FronLicrcs, :ii
mcdia, violcncc in, ii8n,
mcdiaLion, logic o, ,o, ,:, ,,
Meet the Parents (Roach), :8j,
:j, :,, :,
mclancholia (acLing ouL), :o,
::i, :, :
Mcnand, Iouis, :6, ion:8
Mcrlcau-PonLy, Mauricc, iin
mcLaphors, 66, 6,
mcLaphysics, WcsLcrn, ,,
Lhc McLhod, ::, ::,,
:6i, i8nj
McLhod acLing, :,, :6, :66,
:,:, :,8
McLhods and Madncss
(Mcnand), :6
mcLonymics, 66, 6,
Millcr, Claudc, i:n
M||ers Crossng (Cocn BroLhcrs):
and lcvcl o guraLion, 6,, j,
and qucsLion o cLhics, ,
::, :, and violcncc, :, :88
mimcsis, :,j, and acLing, :,,
and Lhc McLhod, :6, ::,
rhcLorical paLLcrn o, 6,, as a
Lool, :66. See a|so imiLaLion
Minghclla, AnLhony, 8,, 8j,
inio
minor liLcraLurc, :oi, in:
misLrcss, i:, ii, i6, cLhical com-
miLmcnL o, :8
MiLchum, RobcrL, i8ni
modcrniLy, ,o
modcs o sccing, :ji
moraliLy, ji, :i, qucsLions o,
8j, scnsc o, ii8nj, violcncc
o, ::o
moral judgmcnL, :ii
Morgan, Clairc, jj
Morrison, Toni, ,
MoLion PicLurc Produccrs and
DisLribuLors o Amcrica
(rrrbt), 6i
mourning (working Lhrough),
:o, ::, :, :, :,o,
orcc o, :6j
Mourning and Mclancholia
(Frcud), ::
movcmcnL, rcczing o, i:
rrtt raLing sysLcm (:j68), 6i
Muckclbaucr, 1ohn, ijn:,
Mulvcy, Iaura, iijn:
murdcr, causcs and cccLs o, :8j
!ndex i86
murdcrcr, any pcrson can bccomc
a, ::
music as prcvicw o violcncc, i
myLh, uncLion o, ,8
Naipaul, V. S., iin:
Narcmorc, 1amcs, :, :j, :o,
:6,
narraLivcs o j/::, :j,j8
narraLivc spccd, j, , inij
narraLivc sLraLcgy, ini:
narraLivizaLion, :
Natura| Porn K||ers (SLonc), 6, :,
:, ion
NaudcL BroLhcrs, :j
Ncalon, 1crcy T., 68, 8,
iijn:o, i,n,, and Ausch-
wiLz, 8, and cLhics, :o, and
rcprcscnLaLion, ,
ncgaLivc dialccLics, iioi:
Negatve La|ectcs (Adorno), :j8
Ncgri, AnLonio, xiv, ::ji:, :ii,
io:, i:, and capiLalisms
modc o powcr, jij, as
MarxisL culLural LhcorisL,
,, and moral inLcrvcnLion,
:ii
nco-noir, ii,n
ncorcalism, ini:
Ncw CriLicism, 66
Ncw HisLoricism, 6j, ,6, i8n:
Ncwman, Paul, :j
Ncwman, Randy, :8
Ncw MaLcrialism, 6j
ncw violcncc, 8j, i:n
New York, New York (Scorscsc),
ioni:
New Yorker, 8,, in:
New York Tmes, 6i, 8,
Ngai, Siannc,
Nicholson, 1ack, :j
NicLzschc, Fricdrich, :, , ,o,
i:n,, in:, and acLivc
orgcLLing, :6j, and anLi-
quarian hisLory, ioni, and
dcsirc or LruLh, ,:, and imiLa-
Lion, in:j, and rcvcrsal o
PlaLonism, 8i, and rcvcrsing
PlaLonism, ,,, and LruLh, i:,
Netzsche and Ph|osophy (Dc-
lcuzc), :, in
nihilism,
,/:: (NaudcL BroLhcrs), :j
j/::, aLLacks o, i, i,, :8iii,
and globalizaLion, :jj
Nolan, ChrisLophcr, inii
nongovcrnmcnLal organizaLions
(Ncos), :ii
Te Non-Ph|osophy oj C||es Le-
|euze (IambcrL), i8n:
nonviolcnL spaccs, cxisLcncc o, :
NorLon, Fdward, i:nii
Norton Antho|ogy, 6o
Nothng Tat Meets the Fye. Te
0nco||ected Stores oj Patrca
Hghsmth (HighsmiLh), 88
novclLy, ix
Nunn, Bill, ijn:
O Prother, where Art Tou (Cocn
BroLhcrs), ii8n6
Ocdipus, ::
Oj Crammato|ogy (Dcrrida),
i:n:o
Once 0pon a Tme n Amerca (Ic-
onc), :j
::o Stores (Bacr), ii:ii, ii
On the waterjront (Kazan), :8,
:
!ndex i8,
On TruLh and Iying in Lhc FxLra-
Moral Scnsc (NicLzschc), ,o
Te Order oj Tngs (FoucaulL), :j
oLhcr, and conccpL o Lhc scl, ioo
ouLsidc, :o, :i:, i6nij, work-
ing Lhrough Lhc, :,6
Pacino, Al, :j, :,6, :,,
pain, abiliLy Lo cxpcricncc, xi
Palmcr, R. BarLon, ii,n
paranoia, in:8, and Lrauma,
ioi
Pars Revew, iin:
Te Passon oj the Chrst (Cibson),
6
PaLLon, Paul, 6, ioni
Pcckinpah, Sam, ::
pcdagogy, 86, :8:, i:nij, mas-
ochisLic, i
pcrccpLion: movcmcnL o, 8, and
sccing, iin
pcrormaLivc subjccLiviLy, cLhics
o, :o
pcrsonicaLion, 6,
Pcsci, 1oc, :,i
Philosophy o Lhc Sere Nore
(Dclcuzc), i:n:i
Perrot Le Fou (Codard), ij
Pilcggi, Nicholas, :,i
P|an P (Himcs), ,
PlaLh, Sylvia, j, :8
PlaLo, i, ,,
PlaLonism, ovcrcoming, ,,8
P|ayers (DcIillo), :jo
P|en So|e| (Purplc Noon) (Clc-
mcnL), i:n, inio
ploLs rcducc Lhc world, ioi
P|ottng and wrtng oj Suspense
Fcton (HighsmiLh), j:,
in:
Po|tca| Physcs (ProLcvi), iin
poliLics, idcnLiLy, ,o
Po||ock (Harris), :o
Polo, Tcrry, :8
Tc Polygamy o Ianguagc
(Fvcnson), o
posiLion Laking, problcm o,
i::
Postmodernsm (1amcson),
ijn:8
posLmodcrnism, clichcs abouL, o
posL-sLrucLuralism, :
Post-Teory (Carroll), ii8n,
PosL-Wall RcalLy (Abcl), in:6
Powcrs, Richard, io8
Te Prce oj Sa|t (HighsmiLh), jj,
:oo
Princc, SLcphcn, x, ii8n,, i6n
problcm and soluLion, j:
prob|ematques, :6i6, :6,
mulLiplc soluLions o, :,o, o
pcdagogy, :8:, pracLicc o, j8,
o violcncc, :, :jo
producLion codc, 6i
producLion o uLurc cvcnLs, ii:
Prosthetc Memory (Iandsbcrg),
i:ni
ProLcvi, 1ohn, iin
ProusL, Marccl, 66
proximiLy, zonc o, :o,
Pub|c Fnemy (Wcllman), :8
Pu|p Fcton (TaranLino), ::,
ion
punishmcnL as moral conccpL,
:i8
Pursuts oj Happness (Cavcll),
ii,n
!ndex i88
Pynchon, Tomas, inii
radical ncgaLiviLy, iii
Ragng Pu|| (Scorscsc), :,:,
ion:8, i:nii, box o cc
succcss o, ioni:, 1akc Ia-
MoLLa in, :8, obcsc body in,
:,, :,, violcncc in, :j,
:6, :6,
Ragng Pu||. My Story (book) (Ia-
MoLLa), ion:8
Rajchman, 1ohn, :6j
Rambo, ion:6
rapc, causcs and cccLs o, :8j
rapporL, audicncc, :6
RavcLLo, Kriss, i:8
Rayns, Tony, :
Readng ajter Teory (Cunning-
ham), :jj6
rcalism, i6n, i8n:o, abso-
luLc, iin, cxprcssionisLic,
ijn:, scamlcss, :6
rcd as imagc o blood, ijo
Red Harvest (HammcLL), :8
Regeneraton through vo|ence
(SloLkin), ini
rcgimc o judgmcnL,
rcgulaLory rcgimc, 6i
Renventng F|m Studes (Clcdhill
and Williams), in:
rclaLivism, moral, in:
rclcvancc: o cLion, iin:, o
prcscnL sLudy, :88
rcpcLiLion, :8:, acL o, :o:i, in
Amercan Psycho (book) (Fllis),
6, and bccoming, :,j,
in HighsmiLhs work, j,j8,
:i6i,, proccss o, :6j
rcprcscnLaLion, ,:, ,, ,8, con-
ccpL o, i8, conncs o, ,o,
cosLs o, ,j, domain o,
8i, and how iL works, i:,
languagc o, io8, ii, logic o,
,, poliLical, i8n:, problcm
o, iii, proccss o, :, qucs-
Lion o, ,, as a qucsLion o
judgmcnL, i,, symbolism in,
rcprcscnLaLionalism, ,,, 8, ovcr-
Lurning o, i:n,
rcscarch, social scicnLic, xi
rcscarching a characLcr, :6o6:
rcscmblancc, ii
Rcsnais, Alain, ii8n
rcsponsc: ncccssary or masocriLi-
cism, i, Lo violcncc, :88,
rcsponsc-abiliLy, :o, :i:, :8,
i, and cvaluaLion, :jo, Lo
j/:: aLLacks, :886, io8,
sliding scalc o,
rcsponsibiliLy as rcsponsc-abiliLy,
::
RiboL, Tcodulc, :8
Rich, Frank, 8,, 8j, in:6
Riplcy, Tom, :,, :o, iin,,
and acLing, :o:i, as amoral
characLcr, j,, and borcdom,
::8, and criminal acLiviLics,
:o, lack o punishmcnL o,
8j, j:, as a man o rcsponsc,
:o,
Riplcy novcls (HighsmiLh),
8,:i
Rp|eys Came (book) (HighsmiLh),
:ij, i:ni
Rp|eys Came (lm) (Cavani),
i:n
Rp|ey 0nder Cround (HighsmiLh),
::j, :ij, :o, i:ni
!ndex i8j
Rp|ey 0nder water (HighsmiLh),
:ij, i:ni
Rtes oj Rea|sm. Fssays on Cor-
porea| Cnema (Margulics),
i8n:o
Robinson, David, ini
Rodowick, D. N., i8n:
Rodrigucz, RobcrL, 6
Ronn (Frankcnhcimcr), :,
RoscnblaLL, Rogcr, o, inio
Rosscllini, RobcrLo, :j:
RoLhman, William, :
Ru|es oj Attracton (book) (Fllis),
o, i8n6
Ru|es oj Attracton (lm) (Avary),
i8n6
Sachcr-Masoch, Icopold von, :,
sadomasochism, i,. See a|so mas-
ochism
SainL, Fvc Maric, :
Salonas, Valcric, :
SarLrc, 1can-Paul, i,n
saLirc: in Amercan Psycho (book)
(Fllis), ,i, and violcncc, ion
Saturday Nght Lve, :,
Savng Prvate Ryan (Spiclbcrg),
8, :o, i:i, ini
ScharrcLL, ChrisLophcr, x
Schnd|ers Lst (Spiclbcrg), 8,
:o, i:i
Schncidcr, SLcphcn 1ay, x
Schomp, Carolinc, :o
Schoonmakcr, Tclma, :6
Schuberts Last Serenade (Bo-
vasso), :j
Te Score (Oz), :,
Scorscsc, MarLin, :, :j, :,i,
:,j, ioni:, and inucncc o
Mean Streets, :i
ScoLus, Duns, :, ioni8
scrcam: painLing o Lhc, 6, vis-
ibiliLy o Lhc, 8
sccing: modcs o, :ji, as a nar-
raLivc modc, :j, ncorcalisL
conccpLion o, :j, and pcr-
ccpLion, :j:, iin, as a rhc-
Lorical acLualizaLion, :ji
Te Se|ected Stores oj Patrca
Hghsmth (HighsmiLh), 88
Scmiology and RhcLoric (dc
Man), 6, 6
scnsaLionalism, :
scrialiLy, iin,
Scvigny, Chloc,
ScxLon, Ann, j
Shaviro, SLcvcn, 8, iijn:,
i8n:
Shne (Hicks), :o
Shorc, RobcrL, i,n:
signs, asigniying orcc o, i:nj
Silvcrman, Kaja, iii, iijn:,
in
simulacrum: conccpLs o, ,j8:,
primacy o, 8i, problcms o,
8:8i
Tc Simulacrum and AncicnL
Philosophy (Dclcuzc), ,,,
i:n,
Smu|atons (Baudrilliard), ijn:8
Sn Cty (Rodrigucz), 6
Sirk, Douglas, ::
Slack, 1cnnicr Daryl, i8n:
Slocum, 1. David, x, ion, i,n6
SloLkin, Richard, ini
Te S|uts (Coopcr), o
Sma|| g. a Summer !dy|| (High-
smiLh), :oo, iin,, in:6
SmiLh, Danicl W., iin
!ndex ijo
SmiLh, Cavin, 8
soluLion and problcm, j:
SophisLs, ,8, ijn:,
South Park, ini
Te Space oj Lterature (BlanchoL),
:6
spccch, haLc, :
spccd and rcprcscnLaLion, iii
Spcnccr, Nicholas, in:o
Spicgclman, ArL, :j, in:
Spiclbcrg, SLcvcn, 8, :o,
ini
Spinoza, Baruch, ii,
spiriLualiLy, i:6
spousal abusc, :8j
SLanislavski, KonsLanLin, :,,
:8, :j, :o
sLar sysLcm, Hollywood, :,
Star wars, ion:6
SLcin, Michacl, i:n
SLillcr, Bcn, :8
SLivalc, Charlcs, i8n:
SLonc, Olivcr, 6, :, ioi, io,
ion, i8n,
Te Story-Te||er (HighsmiLh), ::
sLoryLclling, noLion o, i
Strangers on a Tran (book) (High-
smiLh), 88, jj:oo, :oo, ::,
iin,, in:6
Strangers on a Tran (lm) (HiLch-
cock), i:n
SLrasbcrg, Icc, :,, :8, :j, :o
SLraus, Frwin, iin
SLrohcim, Frich von, i:o
SLudlar, Caylyn, iijn:
Lhc sublimc, iii, i6n
Sub|me Obect oj !deo|ogy (ick),
in
subLracLion, proccss o, :,
suspcnsion, logic o, i:j, ii
Symons, 1ulian, ::8
sympLomaLology, 6, 8, 8, dc-
niLion o, ,
sympLoms, diagnosing arL in
Lcrms o, 6
Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey (book)
(HighsmiLh), ,, 8, 8,, and
criminal acLiviLics, :o, as
inLcrrupLion in work, ::,, and
lack o moral cnding, jj, :oo,
signicancc o, ::, Lhc solu-
Lion in, ::, Limclincss o, 88,
LransormaLion in, ::
Te Ta|ented Mr. Rp|ey (lm)
(Minghclla), 8,, acclaim o,
i:n:, and problcms wiLh
cnding, 8j, and Riplcys
amoral characLcr, :o
TaranLino, QucnLin, ::, :o,
ion, i,n6
Taubin, Amy, ijn:
Tax Lrver (Scorscsc), :, :j,
:6,, and bccoming-violcnL,
ijn:, body as ramc o
rccrcncc in, :,:, box o cc
succcss o, ioni:, DcNiros
walking sLylc in, :6o, :,,
mirror sccnc in, :,
Taylorism, 6
Lcaching liLcraLurc and lm, valuc
o, :88
TcachouL, Tcrry, o, inio
Lcchniquc, acLing, :6:
TclccommunicaLions AcL o :jj6,
6i
Lclcvision, and publics accLivc
rcsponscs, :j
!ndex ij:
Termnator, ion:6
Lcrrorism: causcs and cccLs o,
:8j, in DcIillos novcls, :jo,
as a viral war machinc, io:
LcrrorisL, usc o Lcrm, ii,ni
LcrrorisLs as us noL Lhcm, io:
Lhinking as a roll o Lhc dicc, :o,
Ts Sweet Sckness (HighsmiLh),
::, ::
Tompson, 1im, ,, ini6
Tomson, David, 88, 8j
Tose who wa|k Away (High-
smiLh), ::
A Tousand P|ateaus (Dclcuzc and
CuaLLari), :o6, :6o, i:nj
Limc-imagc, i:
To Havc Donc wiLh 1udgmcnL
(Dclcuzc),
Lragcdy, Lhcory o, ini
Lransccndcncc: orccs o, i6no,
rcign o, :i
Transparcncics o Film
(Adorno), i:o
Trauma, Abscncc, Ioss
(IaCapra), i8n
Te Tremor oj Forgery (High-
smiLh), :::,, :i6
Truc Iics (Princc), i6n
TruauL, Francois, :j
LruLh: dcsirc or, ,:, dcLccLion
o, :oo
Turncr, Cuinivcrc, :
Te Two Faces oj 1anuary (High-
smiLh), ::
Ulmcr, Crcgory, :6,
Te 0nbe|evab|e Truth (HarLlcy),
::
unccrLainLy: as rcsponsc Lo j/::
aLLacks, :88, scnsc o, :8
undcrdogs, gloricaLion o,
i::
0nderwor|d (DcIillo), inj,
in:o
Te 0ntouchab|es (DcPalma), :j,
:8, :,:
Tc VicLory o CulLurc (Cross-
bcrg), ,o
v||age voce, i,n8
violcncc: acLing ouL, :, :,6,
accLivc qualiLy o, ini6,
as allcgorical, o, o borcdom,
6, and comcdy, ion,
criLicism o, i, DcNiro as acc
o, :6, dicrcnL, i, cmpirical,
::i:j, cngagcmcnL wiLh,
i:j, o cLhics, :, cLhics as
acccpLablc jusLicaLion or,
:, acializaLion o, :,6, :8:,
ascinaLion wiLh, :6, lm
criLicism o, :,8, as a ronLicr,
6, gloricaLion o, i, in
HighsmiLhs work, :i6, imagc
o, :, inLcnsiying Lhrough
scrializaLion, :ii, lan-
guagc as an acL o, i:n:o, in
liLcraLurc, ii8n,, and making
iL visiblc, :6, in Lhc mcdia,
ii8n,, pop iconography o,
:,:,6, as purc orcc, 886,
rangc o, xiiixiv, rcal-world,
:8j, rcassuring and comorL-
ing, ,, rcprcscnLaLions o,
ini, o Lhc rcprcscnLcd
(Lhc scnsaLional, Lhc clichc),
ix, , rcsponsc Lo, :88, and
saLirc, ion, on scrccn,
!ndex iji
violcncc (cont.)
:8:, ii8n,, o scnsaLion,
ix, :i8, :88, scrializing,
8,:i, singular momcnL
o, :, and slowing down,
ii8n, o unccrLainLy, :8,
undcrsLandablc moLivc o,
:o, :6, as an undcrLhco-
rizcd conccpL, :, vcrsions
o, :8, wiLhouL blood, :,,
wiLhouL judgmcnL, :i8
violcnL imagcs: cLhical valuc o, ,
pcdagogical cngagcmcnL wiLh,
xvi, rcprcscnLaLional approach
Lo, xvi, as rcprcscnLaLions,
xxi, xii, in Lcrms o accLs
and orcc, x
Virilio, Paul, i6n, and Lhcory
o pcrccpLion, in:o
VisconLi, Iuchino, :j:
waiLing, purc, i:
Wallpapcr Mao (Karnicky),
in:i
war, causcs and cccLs o, :8j
Ward, VicLor, jo, :o
Warhol, Andy, i:nii
war on Lcrror, :
Wcbb, Tcrcsa, xi
Wclcomc Lo Lhc DcscrL o Lhc
Rcal (ick), ii
Wcllman, William, :8
Wcndcrs, Wim, :jj, i:n
Wcschlcr, Iawrcncc, :j
what !s Ph|osophy? (Dclcuzc and
CuaLLari), 8
whte Nose (DcIillo), :jo, inj
Te w|d Punch (Pcckinpah), ::
Wilson, Andrcws, 88
Wisc, 1. Macgrcgor, i8n:
working Lhrough, :o, :i,
:,6, :66, and acLing ouL,
:,j, McLhod modc o, :,:,
mirror sccnc shows, ijn:,
moral qualiLy o, :6,, and rcp-
cLiLion, :6j, :,o
wor|d Spectators (Silvcrman),
in
wriLcr-LcrrorisL rclaLionship,
iini
wriLing, cLhics o, j8
YcaLs, William BuLlcr, 66
Young, FlizabcLh, iin:
Zacharck, SLcphanic, i:nii
ick, Slavoj, xv, iiii, ii,
iijn:, iin:, in,
and chariLy, :iii, and Lhc
cLish, 6

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