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Arrow of Chaos: Romanticism and Postmodernity

Ira Livingston
Volume: 9
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Arrow of Chaos
    Book Description:

    By modeling ways to think through chaos and through the mutual deformations of Romanticism and postmodernity, Arrow of Chaos contributes to alternative alignments of knowledge across time and technique.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8736-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-31)

    I consider several ways of approaching Romanticism in what follows, but the tendency here is to investigate it/them as a loose species of machinic organisms that reproduce themselves in language. In chapter headings I call them “logics” to emphasize their status as embedded or “black–boxed” protocols for generating statements. Black–boxing, according to Bruno Latour, refers to how the active role of scientific theory in shaping fact is effaced, often by beingembodiedin laboratory equipment: the use of such equipment then constitutes an inertial operating assumption (Bachelard’s “reified theory") allowed to remain unexamined (Latour and Woolgar 1986, 66,...

  6. TWO Horrors of Order and Disorder
    (pp. 33-67)

    For Marx, the conversion of commodities into money and then back into commodities again—notated in the formula“c–m–c”—marks a precapitalist mode of production based on the use value of commodities (Marx 1972, 329–36). The inauguration of a capitalist mode of production and of the regime of exchange value turns the means and ends of the formulainside out: the revised formula“m–c–m”indicates that commodities have become aspects of the “code” or “channel” of an exchange whose end points are now monetary. The advantage as well as the problem with these terse formulas...

  7. THREE Fractal Logics of Romanticism: Concentricity and Eccentricity
    (pp. 69-121)

    Blake’s opposition of the “wheel without wheel” (i.e., the chain of cogs) that characterizes mechanist physics to the “freedom... harmony & peace” of “wheel within wheel” offers an obvious place to investigate the interface between the two faces (bad cop and good cop) of Romantic disciplinarity.

    The passage fromJerusalemmaximizes both difference and similarity between images to suggest the thoroughness of disciplinary saturation and imperial expansionism across various realms. The assembled figures represent vegetable, mineral, and animal nature as well as military, industrial, mercantile, and educational culture; crucial features are divided between various groupings of the multiple images.


  8. FOUR Fractal Logics of Romanticism: Binary Decomposition
    (pp. 123-157)

    In fractal geometry, “binary decomposition” refers to a process whereby, through repeated iterations of a recursive mathematical function, a plane is divided and subdivided into binary sections (e.g., black and white) in infinite regress of scale (see Peitgen and Richter 1986, 40–44). A mud puddle dries up, cracking into progressively smaller pieces, but somewhere between the phlegmatic wholeness of the mud puddle and the uniformly atomized dust (orBetween Crystal and Smoke,in Frangois Jacob’s terms) is where everything (interesting) happens: with and against this one–directional deterioration emergepatternsof the distribution, shapes or sizes of the pieces....

  9. FIVE Fractal Logics of Romanticism: Rhythming
    (pp. 159-197)

    Romantic devaluation of strictly metered verse and the privileging of aesthetic complexity and of “organic” literary form (featuring mixed and “self-organizing” patterns, and patterns of patterns or “plaids”) can be understood in relation to the real-time dysrhythmia that came to distinguish intellectual and professional labor (a distinction still preserved in the college student’s “all-nighter” and the medical intern’s long shifts as professionalizing “hazing rituals”). C. S. Whitaker (1970) characterized as dysrhythmic the clash between traditional and modern structures in twentiethcentury Nigeria; at issue here is modernity’s valorization and attempted monopolization of dysrhythmia as a mark of distinction. Dysrhythmia in this...

  10. SIX Postmodern Postscript
    (pp. 199-242)

    It is now surprising that the English wordleechderives from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to heal.” For almost a millennium, the word (at least as written) referred without prejudice to both the doctor and the sluglike animal used by doctors to draw patients’ blood. Not until the late eighteenth century, when new protocols for the extraction by doctors of money and knowledge from patients became primary, did the word begin to be used in writing to refer to parasitism. This change participates in a dense network of changes in technological practices and social relations. Among these, the changing status...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 243-248)
  12. Index
    (pp. 249-252)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 253-253)