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Ecstasy Unlimited

Ecstasy Unlimited: On Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics

Laura Kipnis
Foreword by Paul Smith
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 334
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  • Book Info
    Ecstasy Unlimited
    Book Description:

    A unique collection of essays on popular culture, politics, aesthetics, feminism, and postmodernism, along with complete scripts from three of Kipnis’ videotapes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8405-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xx)
    Paul Smith

    The main proposition running through Laura Kipnis’s work—the one that for me at least holds together her and the videos represented here—is an idea that might at first be construed either as an oxymoron or as a pleonasm. What Kipnis’s work calls for and strives toward—essentially, a contestatory postmodernism—would be a pleonastic notion for some in that it is today to imagine that everything radical and effective in cultural politics derives from postmodernism’s having discarded the pretensions and dictates of the programs and the so-called grand narratives of the traditional left. On the other hand, the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. Videotape Distribution Information
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Crossing the Theory/Practice Rubicon
    (pp. 1-12)

    This is a collection of critical essays and scripts for videotapes written over the last decade. Although it becomes evident in juxtaposing the two that actually what I’ve been doing is dealing with much the same issues in two different media and two disciplines, I’ve sometimes had the impression that there’s element of the talking horse about the theory-wielding artist. If a product of art schools, as I am, your image of an artist, even though Conceptual Art may have hit the fan by the time you became student, was still, at least in part, someone like Jackson Pollock, for...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Repossessing Popular Culture
    (pp. 13-32)

    In September 1990 theNew York Times,ever the cultural augur, announced the death of postmodernism after a decade’s reign over the art world, noting as evidence the exhaustion of pomo’s favored gestures of “stereotypes, repetition and media-derived experience,” then pounding the nail into the coffin with its assessment “appropriation and pastiche seem old hat.”¹ While the haunted souls of the art world may have moved on to new and better idioms—“spirituality,” suspects the man from theTimes—perhaps we should interrupt the eulogy to point out that the corpse is still twitching. If you postmodernism as having been...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Ecstasy Unlimited: The Interpenetrations of Sex and Capital (1985)
    (pp. 33-100)

    A Female Voice:(from the phone)Thank you for calling “Speaking of Sex.” Today we’re going to share with you some fantasies others have acted out in the “erotic theater.”

    A Male Voice:(from the phone)A common scene for many women is to be a teacher—she needs to discipline a male student. To do so, she puts him under her desk and continues with her teaching. At this point the student becomes quite mischievous, breathing, kissing and caressing his teacher’s legs. Any desk or table can serve as a prop. The acting can be quite simple. Try explaining...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Looks Good on Paper: Marxism and Feminism in a Postmodern World
    (pp. 101-116)

    The Political fortunes of Marxism seem to be on the wane lately in the industrialized West, Soviet-style Communism having finally accomplished what the combined forces of the FBI, the CIA, and the National Association of Scholars had only fantasized. Though long before 1989 the phrase “Marxism lacks a theory of the subject” had often echoed through the shabby halls of Left theory—particularly in later years as better-dressed post-Marxists scratched out narratives of crisis, decline, and aftermath—as regime after regime crumbled overnight, it was clear that it wasn’t merely the failure of Soviet economic policies we were witnessing, but...

  10. CHAPTER 5 A Man’s Woman (1987)
    (pp. 117-194)

    Voice 1: . . . so finally he rolls over and tells me that he’s never had this problem with anyone else before and he thinks that I threaten his masculinity in some way.

    Voice 2: The Dutch treat. That’s what feminism has done for women. We still make sixty cents on every male dollar but now we’re expected to pay for our own damned dinner.

    Voice 3: ... told me he’d never felt like this about anyone else before, so we go to bed together and then of course he never calls again.

    Voice 4: Men are shits. And...

  11. CHAPTER 6 “The Phantom Twitchings of an Amputated Limb”: Colonialism as a Female Disease
    (pp. 195-206)

    I once came across a cartoon inHarper’s(reprinted from something calledAmerican Atheist)depicting a man and a woman sitting at a bar, over cocktails. The man is protesting, “Well gosh . . . gee whiz . . . sure I’d talk to you if you didn’t have a vagina ... of course I would . . . uh ... you DO have one, don’t you?” A decade of feminist film theory of a psychoanalytic inflection suggests that while men may consent to talk to women who don’t have vaginas, they certainly wouldn’t make movies about them, as it’s...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Aesthetics and Foreign Policy
    (pp. 207-218)

    During the summer of 1985 I went to Cuba for two weeks with a group whose mission was to investigate culture and cultural institutions as they’ve developed within tropical socialism. The origin of this essay was my surprise and dismay at comments made to me upon my return from this voyage by various friends, family, colleagues, and certain “left intellectuals” of my acquaintance—all right, just about everyone—suggesting that the term “culture in Cuba” was oxymoronic: Cuban culture, being state sponsored, has the status of propaganda rather than culture, they said; I was also frequently and some what tautologically...

  13. CHAPTER 8 (Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust: Reading Hustler
    (pp. 219-242)

    Let’s begin with two images. The first is of feminist author-poet Robin Morgan as she appears in the anti-pornography documentaryNot a Love Story.Posed in her large booklined living room, poet-husband Kenneth Pitchford at her side, she inveighs against a number of sexualities and sexual practices: masturbation—on the grounds that it promotes political quietism—as well as “superficial sex, kinky sex, appurtenances and [sex] toys” for benumbing “normal human sensuality.” She then breaks into tears as she describes the experience of living in a society where pornographic media thrive.¹ The second image is the one conjured by a...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Marx: The Video: A Politics of Revolting Bodies (1990)
    (pp. 243-294)

    Haunting music. The room is dim. CLOSE-UP on MARX, who is lying in his bed, ill and in pain.


    Karl Marx was born in Germany in 1818, and died in London in 1883, having been deported from numerous European countries for revolutionary activity. Throughout his life he suffered from chronic and painful outbreaks of carbuncles—agonizing skin eruptions— particularly during the years he was at work on his magnum opus, Capital. His thirty-year correspondence with Frederick Engels, his friend and collaborator, deals regularly and in great detail with the state of his own body.


  15. Notes
    (pp. 295-302)
  16. Index
    (pp. 303-308)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-309)