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Exotic Parodies

Exotic Parodies: Subjectivity in Adorno, Said, and Spivak

Asha Varadharajan
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Exotic Parodies
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking text begins with the premise that postmodernism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and Marxism continue to present certain problems with the self/other distinction. It goes on to offer the first extended critique of the work of Gayatri Spivak; challenge the critical reception of Adorno in the American academy; examine Said's connection to Adorno; and make the first in-depth use of Adorno's Negative Dialectics in the context of postcolonial theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8619-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    This book attempts to reformulate the agenda of postcolonialism and to establish much-needed ground for the evaluation of specific critical positions and practices occasioned by its discourse. Complaints are, of course, routinely made regarding the depoliticization and domestication of this discourse within the Anglo-American academy; by the same token, the epistemological stakes and consequences of a materially grounded politics are rarely elucidated in a sustained fashion. The two purposes of this work are to discover the possibility of critique beyond a certain kind of paralyzed reflexivity and to locate this critique in a staged confrontation between dialectics anddifférance.


  5. 1 The End(s) of (Wo)Man; or, The Limits of Difference
    (pp. 1-19)

    Not long ago, the cover ofTimemagazine bore the words, “God is dead, Marx is dead, and I’m not feeling too well myself.” The magazine’s wry encapsulation of polite unease was both appropriate and prophetic, at least if the sentiments expressed in the current discourse of the Western world’s well-bred and, one imagines, well-read academics are to be believed. The essays devoted in recent years to the imminent demise of the Cartesian cogito is witness to the dis-ease or, if you will, lingering malaise, of an ethos that dates back to the eighteenth century when the likes of Immanuel...

  6. 2 Rethinking the Object
    (pp. 20-33)

    The demise of the Cartesian subject seems at first to elicit the potential of its object, its self-effacement a necessary prelude to the emergence of a visible and voluble object. Within the discursive domain of postmodernism, which identifies and exacerbates the displacement of the subject, a problem immediately presents itself. The very process that exposes the illusory mastery of the subject forecloses upon the resistance of the object. If the subject is always already discontinuous with itself and its identity only a necessary illusion, is the power exerted in the name of that fiction of identity and mastery equally illusory?...

  7. 3 Theodor W. Adorno
    (pp. 34-74)

    The philosophy of Adorno was formulated in the context of a collective enterprise articulated by a group of disaffected German intellectuals known as the Frankfurt school, many of whom emigrated to the United States during and after the Second World War. Adorno and Max Horkheimer returned to Germany, Herbert Marcuse and Leo Lowenthal chose to remain in America, and the influential yet marginal Walter Benjamin committed suicide because he was unable to escape from the Nazis during the war.

    The philosophical premises, political pessimism, mandarin and messianic pretensions, and disavowed Judaism of the Frankfurt school have been well documented. Rather...

  8. 4 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: The “Curious Guardian at the Margin”
    (pp. 75-112)

    It is often said of Adorno that he is a thinker whom everybody knows and nobody reads. I think the same can be said of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, for perhaps a different set of reasons. I mean this comment literally in that, as far as I am aware, there is no extended study of her writings (Robert Young’sWhite Mythologiesdevotes a chapter to her work but remains much too polite in its critical engagement), though her name is sprinkled liberally in texts that attempt to politicize deconstruction or that engage with the postcolonial subject.

    Adorno’s penchant for aphoristic formulations...

  9. 5 Edward W. Said
    (pp. 113-136)

    Edward W. Said’s passionate and prolific intellectual career is well known within academe and, I suspect, within the ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency, which must be anxious to keep under surveillance such an outspoken and courageous critic of the neocolonial pretensions of the United States. Said is a particularly interesting exemplar of the “intellectual in emigration,” because the humane, ethical, tempered, and (for the most part!) civil accents that distinguish his elegant and refined work are persistently in the service of a radical critique of violence committed precisely in the name of (Western) “virtues, humanism, morality” (Said 1988, 60)....

  10. 6 Conclusion: “... the inextinguishable color from non-being”
    (pp. 137-142)

    Spivak’sOutside in the Teaching Machineand Said’sCulture and Imperialismhave appeared since the conception of this project, both seeking, in a sense, to address the cognitive “failures” of the authors’ signature pieces “Can the Subaltern Speak?” andOrientalism. Spivak describes her collection of essays as “interconnected attempts . . . at thinking through the shift from (anti-)essentialism to agency” (Spivak 1993, ix); Said admits that he left out “the response to Western dominance” (Said 1993, xii) in his most famous work. My book has been a sustained effort to heed the other side, to risk affiliation with the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 143-148)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-166)
  13. Index
    (pp. 167-170)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-171)