Congratulations, Judith Butler!

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Fri Feb 5 16:05:47 PST 1999

Carl Remick seems to take the Bad Writing Contest at its face value, but what's condemned by the Phil & Lit crowd here is not the alleged obscurity of writings by Judith Butler and other scholars who should feel honored to have offended the NAS sensibilities, but _Sex and Marx_.

As you all know, the right-wingers have a very fertile pornographic imagination, so when they hear/read about Judith Butler theorizing our 'passionate attachment to subordination,' etc., their loins & brains get fired up by the thought of Doug Henwood in a leather corset and fishnet stockings being buggered by the Lesbian Phallus. Now, let's look at the 'turgid' prose of Fredric Jameson, the winner of the first prize in 1997, and speculate why the following piece drew the Right(eous) Gaze:

The visual is essentially pornographic, which is to say that it has its end in rapt, mindless fascination; thinking about its attributes becomes an adjunct to that, if it is unwilling to betray its object; while the most austere films necessarily draw their energy from the attempt to repress their own excess (rather than from the more thankless effort to discipline the viewer). (Jameson _Signatures of the Visible_, 1)

As for the NAS's hunt for Specters of Marx, take a look at this bit by Ihab Hassan's article (published in _Philosophy and Literature_ 22.2 [1998]: 328-342):

Having argued insistently for greater subtlety and nuance--these may be the form truth takes in our professions--argued against reductionism in postcolonial studies, I hesitate to attribute all lapses to a single, dread cause. Yet I must repeat here an earlier query: has the influence of Marxist doctrines, working through Foucault and other poststructuralists, gone too far afield? I am particularly mindful of the question in countries like Morocco, where intellectuals must continually juggle three conformities: Nationalism, Marxism, Islamism, in their new and diverse guises. <

Congratulations, Judith Butler! You are one of us (whether you like it or not).

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