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Copyright © 2024 Editorial Board, Qui Parle
Qui Parle, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 1987

Vol. 1 | No. 2 | Spring 1987


    “Under Construction” 

Prefatory Note
Peter Connor

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The interventions which comprise the first section of this issue were received in response to a question formulated by the editors of Qui Parle and addressed to a number of prominent literary critics and theorists of literature throughout the United States and Europe. The question, reprinted on the page immediately preceding the interventions, concerns the place of the teacher and teaching in the institution, and the role of the student in the pedagogical scene. Insofar as the problematic of formation or Bildung remains constitutively incomplete, we shall have to keep this volume "Under Construction." It is hoped that the publication of these responses will encourage further debate around the many issues raised and discussed by our present contributors, and the editors of Qui Parle urge readers to participate via the columns of the journal.

The urgency of our question arises at a time when the university is re-organizing its significance and when the effects of the institution are being seriously questioned, perhaps most especially from within the disciplines of the humanities.

Read now at JSTOR


    Interventions

The Imperative to Teach
J. Hillis Miller

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The questions ask: Who or what (today) calls on us to teach? Does that demand lay out a clear road for us to follow? Is that road, if there is one, "under construction," that is, I take it, is it in the midst of a social or historical process into which we as teachers or students might intervene, taking a hand in the work of construction? Is that road, if there is one, a one-way street, Einbahnstrasse, presumably in that case going straight from the teachers to the students, with "Do Not Enter" marked at the other end, to keep the students from driving the wrong way, in defiance of the authority of the teacher?

The questions can be extrapolated a little, perhaps down the one way street that waits to be traversed, showing me the way to go: Is teaching a contingent addition to "literary study," or to "humanistic study" generally? Or, to put it more simply, does reading, the reading of a poem, a novel, or a philosophical text, for example, require teaching it or lead inevitably to teaching it?

Read now at JSTOR


Untitled*
Jean-Luc Nancy

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Y a-t-il quelque chose qui appelle à l'en seignement aujourd'hui plus qu’à une autre époque? Je ne le pense pas, ou bien je ne le discerne pas. Y a-t-il aujourd'hui un motif ou un mobile parti culier qui mène à enseigner? je n’en vois pas. En outre, de telles questions exigeraient, me sem ble-t-il, qu'on spécifie de quel enseignement on parle: c’est-à-dire, à quel niveau, dans quelle discipline, dans quel pays, dans quelle institution, sur le fond de quelle tradition. Mais votre dessein n'est manifestement pas celui d'une pareille en quête. Je répondrai done de manière très "person nels" et en somme très empirique.

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Two Lessons: The Tui-Report and K. in the Cathedral
Rainer Nägele

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Tui: a Brechtian Chinese word for a certain kind of intellectual, derived from Tellect-Uel-In. These literally confused intellectuals have the task of protecting the socio-economic power structure of their society against any possible threat from critical thought. In Brecht's China, for example, the economy, i.e., the profits of the emperor, is threatened by an over-abundant cotton harvest. In order to drive up the dangerously falling cotton prices, the emperor has the majority of the cotton secretly burned. The scarcity of cotton brings its price to astronomical heights. The population is puzzled by this phenomenon; after all, everybody knows about the rich harvest. Suspicion and rumors arise. Quick and clever action is necessary to avoid civil unrest.

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Untitled
Marian Hobson

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

I translate this question, no doubt twisting it, as: What appeals to teaching/learning today? One answer is that the appeal is a case of "controlled appellation." Teaching/learning in institutions ends in the conferring of titles--the right to prefix or suffix letters, or appellations, to one's name. This conferring is not universal, but controlled--the rights of appellation are graded, part of a hierarchized academic transport system ​(not for nothing do you speak of "tenure track"), though not by any means secure "titres de transport." This grading, these grades, this graduation, all this is central to the educational institution: degrees are attributed, exams are "moderated" in a term which tellingly joins the notions of presiding and of insertion of differentials, 'modus,' means. This is power through distinction: the distinguishing mark of a university as institution is its power to confer marks of distinction; and universities themselves are graded, they or academic boards cross-validate each others' marks by a system of external examiners, of University Grants Committee assessors, etc.

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The Road Belong Cargo
Laurence Rickels

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

In Dialectic of Enlightenment Adorno and Horkheimer argue that the university, like the rest of the culture industry and like the radio in particular, is democratic: it turns all participants into auditors subjected to broadcast programs which are all exactly the same. This norm of killing time represents the institutionalization of Freud's discovery of the mechanism of repression; it corresponds to the unceasing expenditure of unconscious psychic energy which accompanies the effort to keep that which must not enter consciousness in the unconscious--in the all-pervasive public sphere. The analogies that thus keep the public sphere on this side of the Freudian system converge in Totem and Taboo as the close encounter between projection and cinematic projection. At the end of these analogies, Freud's theory of phantoms and the technical media finds confirmation and realization in the Melanesian Cargo Cult, which also makes a ghost appearance in 1913.

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Untitled
Werner Hamacher
Translated by Adam Bresnick

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Dear Peter Connor:

One should reply to your question, of course, with something more than a "relatively brief submission," namely with at least an exposition of and tentative reply to those questions which arise from questions and from forms of questions which, following a long tradition of pedagogical questions and questions about pedagogy, you use again today--or aujourd-hui. Qu’est-ce qui----donne----l'appel---- à l'enseignement----aujourd'hui----? These questions about your question--I will suggest them only very quickly--would be of the following sort: Why what? Why gives and not takes? Why is the call thought of as something which, rather than taken, taken down, or taken in--be it from a specific situation, be it from a specific agent, subject, principle, preferably a moral one--will be given? And if each call which issues is destined to make demands on the one who is called (but this is also questionable), is it already settled that I will hear, that I will hear this call and hear it as one destined for me?

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Untitled
Francine Masiello

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Far from offering a rhapsodic celebration of the attractiveness of university teaching (and you must admit that your question invites this kind of response), I feel obliged, instead, to take stock of the neo-conservative climate of the eighties and its effect on the academy. In particular, I am alarmed by the Reagan administration's narrow vision of the university and its patent contempt for the heterogeneity of contemporary scholarly pursuits. Ranging from the so-called advisory committee for accuracy in academia to the proposed educational reforms drawn by William Bennett, the initiatives of this administration have been designed to monitor and contain the range of dialogue articulated in the classroom. Among his many pronouncements on university teaching, Bennett, for example, has demanded a reduction in the multiple offerings of the liberal arts curriculum, calling an end to what he deems the unnecessary frills of the humanities program.

Read now at JSTOR


Copie Blanche*
Jason Ales

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Une conversation inouïe: un parlait à plusieurs, trop pour vraiment se connaître, chacun aussi attentif que s'il eût été seul à écouter, peu jaloux, peu gêné par la concurrence faite à ses oreilles, sages tous et silencieux sans s'être entendus à l'avance, interdits, ne se permettant que questions et acquiescements, ne prenant jamais l'initiative de changer de sujet. Mais l'orateur lui-même, l'avait-il choisi? Se contentait-il de questionner quelque orateur supérieur et invisible? II semblait là sur ordre, comme sachant qu’on faisait aussi son appel, aujourd'hui comme hier, mais pour en référer à qui? N’y avait-il donc, à chaque échelon de cette procession de paroles, qu'acte de présence pour répondre à l'appel?

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    Articles

Something for Nothing: Barthes in the Text of Ideology
Jonathan Elmer

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

If, instead of the question "What does this text say?", we ask "What does this text want me to say?", we perform the first gesture (doubtless paranoid) in what would seem to be a reversal of the normal power relations between a text and its reader. No longer interested in invading the text with an imperialistic determination to search out "radical elements" in order to harass them into confessing the "truth," we begin to set up a paranoid counter-intelligence system designed to protect ourselves from the infiltration of the text’s meanings which, posing as one of our own agents, might trick us into disclosing the state secrets of our bigoted, ideologically determined, sexually neurotic, petty selves. Like any paranoid structure, however, this one is fantasmatic, since texts cannot infiltrate us: at most, they can lure us into their discursive system and, by making it seem attractive to describe the contours of that system ​(as though it were exterior to ourselves), they generously allow us to announce triumphantly our ideological complicity with them.

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Tristan et Isault as a “Salle Aux Images”
Adam Bresnick

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

In a terse and provocative apothegm, Jacques Lacan declared that "on n'est jamais amoureux que d’un nom." The Lacanian model of desire adumbrated in this little catch phrase seems to me particularly useful for a consideration of the medieval legend of Tristan et Iseut, for throughout Tristan et Iseut one is confronted with episodes in which the fundamental mediation of representation--be it nominal, narrational or pictorial--is presented to the reader as that which deflects desire away from its ostensible object back onto the represented image or story itself. In contradistinction to the "realistic" point of view, which takes as its model what might be called a naive mimetism (the text as a secondary imitation of "the real world"), I will argue that Tristan et Iseut is as much a narrative about our love of narrative itself as it is a story of love between two individual people. As we shall see in the episode of the Salle aux Images, representation is presented as that which magnetizes our cathexes in a manner simultaneously troubling and enrapturing, for in the end Tristan et Iseut suggests that it is the image and not the reality which has the upper hand in our affections.

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The Socratic Disruption of Origins in The Birth of Tragedy
Marc DaRosa

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The opening section of this paper will present, in a selective and strategic, but not altogether critical manner, various passages from The Birth of Tragedy which characterize Nietzsche’s treatment of "Socratic culture." Of course, it is possible that any instance of selection represents an interpretive act, and therefore becomes a "critical" gesture. However, by the end of the essay, these isolated passages will have received a more detailed exposition. They will reappear wearing a second face, one which is more suited to the complex and ambiguous nature of Nietzsche's relationship to the "Socratic man." This double (and duplicitous) reading is perhaps the only possible approach to a work which speaks in a plurality of voices, in which every statement is an illusion that masks an illusion.

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The Double-Edged Pen: Reading “A Peine” in Mémoires
Cynthia McPherson

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Enfolded between the preface and the first lecture of Mémoires: For Paul de Man is a concealed scene of pain, a scene easily overlooked and forgotten. In "A peine," the proper name of this hors d'oeuvre, which stands like an epitaph, perhaps marking the temporary resting place of Paul de Man, Derrida reads and remembers the pain hidden in the phrase à peine. The ear of a franco phone hardly hears the pain and hardship in à peine, hardly remembers in the spoken word the pain visible in writing. What follows is a meditation upon the difficulty hidden in the phrase "à peine" in relation to following in life and in thought.

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How Progress Eludes Us: Variations on a Theme
Bruce Gold

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

There was once a boy whose mother died on the sidewalk in the night, but before she collapsed she lurched forward, walking as if one leg were shorter than the other. As her son dashed forward and fell at her side, crying "Mamma! Mamma!" a tide of darkness seemed to be sweeping her from him:

        "Wait here! Wait here! he cried and jumped up and began to run for help toward a cluster of lights he saw in the distance ahead of him, but the lights drifted farther away the faster he ran, and his feet moved numbly as if they carried him nowhere. The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow. (FLANNERY O'CONNOR) 

Nonetheless, he had many more years to live...

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    Poem

Elégie californienne (extrait)*
Pierre Alféri

Nous sommes partis de Berkeley -

traversée
par la route à deux voies
taillant d'une main sûre dans le ruban des terres
deux bandes qui s'effrangent
au passage et au loin
se rafistolent,
la ville ou la forêt à l’égyptienne
défilait en parallèles insoucieux l'un de l'autre...

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    Book Review

Nouveau traité des ruines by Giancarlo J. Lacina*

A review of Lacina, Giancarlo J. Nouveau traité des ruines (Trojan University Press, 1986)

Read now at JSTOR


Cover Design by Michael Macrone

*Published in French
Volume 1.2 is available at JSTOR. Qui Parle is edited by an independent group of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and published by Duke University Press.