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Qui Parle, Volume 7, Number 1, Fall/Winter 1993

Vol. 7 | No. 1 | Fall/Winter 1993

    Special Issue: Nation and Fantasy

Replica, Aura, and Late Nationalist Imaginings
Benedict Anderson

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

"There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument,"  wrote Robert Musil in his Nachlass zu Lebzeiten, elegantly Anglicized as Posthumous Papers of a Living Author:

“They are no doubt erected to be seen—indeed to attract attention. But at the same time they are impregnated with something that repels attention, causing the glance to roll right off, like water droplets off an oilcloth, without even pausing for a moment. You can walk down the same street for months, know every address, every show window, every policeman along the way, and you won't even miss a coin that someone dropped on the sidewalk; but you are very surprised when, one day, staring up at a pretty chambermaid on the first floor of a building, you notice a not-at-all tiny metal plaque on which, engraved in indelible letters, you read that from eighteen hundred and such and such to eighteen hundred and a little more the unforgettable So-and-so lived and created here. Many people have the same experience even with larger-than-life-sized statues. . . . You never look at them, and do not generally have the slightest notion of whom they are supposed to represent, except that maybe you know if it's a man or a woman...”

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Freedom's Performative Legacy
Sarah Pelmas

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

In the wake of the Civil War, American literature often explored the complex position of the newly-freed slave within a society which had been, and remained, highly ambivalent about his status. This ambivalence was born, at least in part, of the uncertainty many writers felt about the notion of freedom and the status of a subject freed by the government. If freedom is, as we are told by the Declaration of Independence, an inalienable right, then it cannot be conferred; one might acknowledge it, perhaps, although to claim that the difference between a slave and a free man is mere acknowledgment seems a grave understatement. That difference, however, certainly begins with acknowledgment—a recognition of the individual as one who, by definition, must have his rights safeguarded by the government. How and under what circumstances the government safeguards liberty depends entirely on the phrase "by definition." Those human beings who count as people deserving of safeguarded liberty are, in the American tradition, self-defined as such. The problem is that self-definition relies on a representational power which is gained through rhetorical access to the modes and discourses of freedom, and that access is achieved under highly constrained circumstances.

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Writing, Scratching and Politics from M to Mabuse
Dana Stevens

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

In 1933, just after the worldwide opening of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, director Fritz Lang was summoned to appear before Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda. Lang's version of their meeting is, to say the least, remarkable:

        “I was called before Goebbels. For the occasion, I wore a pair of striped pants, a jacket and a starched collar. Somewhat ill at ease, I showed up at the Ministry of Propaganda. I was shown through immense corridors full of armed men, passed from one office to the next... I was sweating. Finally the doors opened and I entered a vast office, at the far end of which was Goebbels. I then met the most charming man on earth. I was seated facing him. "I'm so terribly sorry," he told me, "but we have had to confiscate your film. We didn't like the ending."”

The scene might come straight from a Lang film: from the plight of the individual man summoned before the Law (but a law no longer distinguishable from an empire of pure terror) to the hypnotic beauty of evil emanating from the figure of Goebbels, "the most charming man in the world" ("As so often in Lang," writes Siegfried Kracauer, "the law triumphs and the lawless glitters”) right down to the evocation of an oppressive, superhuman and labyrinthine architecture.

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Notes on the Nation's Dreamwork
Stathis Gourgouris

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

In a later addition to The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud makes this well-known assertion (which is in fact a paraphrase from Aristotle): "Dreams are nothing but a particular form of thinking, made possible by the conditions of the state of sleep." I find this intriguing even beyond its professed object and I cite it paradigmatically, transfiguring Freud's insight into a methodological condition for discussing the problematic of the nation. In this respect, the point is not so much to explain the content of national formation (its relation to capitalism, for example), but the selection of this form called the nation as a particular means of organizing a community or a society, which may or may not show preference for capitalist social relations, depending on its own particular history's overdeterminations. 

It is more intriguing to investigate instead the secret of the nation/dream as form, which entails exploring the mysterious iconography or language of idolatry that accounts for a nation's social-imaginary institution and hence its historical being. To say that the nation is a social-imaginary institution is to say that 1) every nation is a projection of the way a given society imagines itself at a certain historical moment, and 2) it is itself the significational mode that allows a society to imagine itself as a nation at a certain historical moment––indeed, what makes that historical moment possible.

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Notarizing Knowledge: Paranoia and Civility in Freud and Lacan
David Kazanjian

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

Freud begins and ends "On Narcissism: An Introduction" (1914) with statements that open his argument onto a wide socio-historical field. Toward the beginning he makes an apparently empirical claim that sanctions the "extension of the libido theory" to the category of narcissism:

        “This extension of the libido theory—in my opinion, a legitimate one—receives reinforcement from a third quarter, namely, from our observations and views on the mental life of children and primitive peoples. In the latter we find characteristics which, if they occurred singly, might be put down to megalomania: an over-estimation of the power of their wishes and mental acts, the 'omnipotence of thoughts,' a belief in the thaumaturgic force of words, and a technique for dealing with the external world—'magic'—which appears to be a logical application of these grandiose premisses.” (ON, 67)

With this passage Freud presents a three-part justification for his introduction of the concept of narcissism: first, the analysis of Senatspräsident Schreber, which he has just cited in a footnote; second, "observations and views on the mental life of children"; and third, "observations and views on the mental lives of... primitive peoples." The notion of "primitive peoples" who can be observed draws on an anthropological tradition epistemologically bound to eighteenth and nineteenth-century European colonialism. 

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    Book Reviews

On John Rawls, Political Liberalism
Michael Hardt

A review of Rawls, John. Political Liberalism. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

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On Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class
Benjamin Reiss

A review of Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. (New York: Oxford, 1993).

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On Frederick M. Dolan and Thomas L. Dumm, eds. Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics
Marianne Constable

A review of Dolan, Frederick M. and Thomas L. Dumm, eds. Rhetorical Republic: Governing Representations in American Politics. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993).

Read now at JSTOR

Cover: Photograph: Robert Waldman. Stills of M courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive, N.Y., N.Y.

Volume 7.1 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.