The Subject’s Original Response

Postmodern
Japan

Earl
Jackson, Jr.

Spring 1999

talkingcure2000@aol.com

University of California, Santa
Cruz

Happy
Days Case One

Earl Jackson, Jr. regularly posts on the Web site student
response
papers
with the student’s names removed and with Jackson’s feedback
interwoven into the text. He does this so that as great a number of students
as possible might benefit from the questions that the posted student’s
paper raises and the processes of resolving those questions through the
conversation underway [the response and Earl’s feedback being two moments
in that on-going
conversation
]. Recently, Earl tried an experiment. He read one student’s
paper as severely as possible, wrote out his feedback as fully and as archly
as possible, and then, at the beginning of lecture, Earl read the opening
sentences of the student’s paper and the paragraphs of his feedback those
sentences elicited as a response. Earl then posted the entire text [student
response and the voluminous feedback] on the site.

The next day, Earl received an email letter from the student
who had written the response paper. The student read Earl’s feedback very
carefully, and took the experience well. He also, [oh Happy Days!] actually
took Earl up on his often repeated insistence that the feedback is meant
to be a moment in an ongoing conversation, and that questions like „What
do you mean
?“ are literal. Breaking a legacy of silence, the student
actually answered those questions! And the ways in which the student rearticulated
what he meant showed how much can be said when it’s clear what the stakes
are in paying
attention
to how one says it. The difference between the original response
paper and the student’s very thoughtful rearticulation of his points is
so dramatic and so suggestive, that Earl includes them here, first contextualizing
them by offering the original sentences and Earl’s objections so that the
contrast will be clear.

In other words, this fortuitous turn in the history of
in-class
conversations
is synopsized below in three user-friendly tables. For
the full effect of the encounter, interested readers are invited to access
the entire first volley – the original
response
and full feedback, by pointing the browser at

http://www.anotherscene.com/japanpm/reone4.html

These are the successes that make the processes to get
there exhilarating
in retrospect. And perhaps have even added a momentary smile on the face
of a
friendless
, misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive,
dusty, middle-aged
wallflower
and bookworm in
decline
.


 

 

 

The
Subject’s Original Response
Earl Jackson,
Jr.’s objections
.
Haruki Murakami’s
short story „The Second Bakery Attack“ is a most unique twist 


on the romance genre.
This
statement conflates textual practices, effects and other areas of experience
that should be kept distinct. Among them: 

the romance [a genre covering
traditions of quest narrative from late antiquity to the early modern periods
of Western Europe;

the contemporary popular „romance“
novel, a.k.a. Barbara Cartland;

heterosexual coupling as institutionally
conceived and popularly valorized

While
it does not address Lacanian
desire
as directly as „On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful
April Morning,“ it has its very own adaptation of desire as it is applied
to a married couple, an atypical romantic subject.
This
statement conflates:

Lacanian
desire and
love.

Lacanian desire
and stereotypical, heteronormative gendered relations.

This statement also:

Grants the prestige of marginalization
to the subject-position that actually epitomizes the dominant order and
its exclusionary centrality to representation and valorization.

The
couple are jolted from their sleep by hunger in the same way that a


child feels hunger, according to
Lacan, at the moment of weaning
. This


moment is the origin of desire, as both the couple and
the child wish to have all of their needs met and never feel desire or
hunger again.
The
analogy with Lacanian theory is forced, and is supported by a claim concerning
Lacan’s association between weaning and desire that is not true. The conclusion
drawn here reflects nothing in the story to indicate that either of the
characters have such an inflated notion of marriage as the one source for
all their needs to be met [this is the second occurrence of this presumption
in the subject’s paper, however.] Lastly, the idea that anyone would opt
out of desire is simply bizarre and evinces a rather idiosyncratic view
of desire. 

 Happy
Days are Here Again, the sky . . .


 

The Subject’s
Original Response
The Subject’s
restatement of ideas in response to Earl’s feedback
Earl’s reresponse 
 Haruki Murakami’s short
story „The Second Bakery Attack“ is a most unique twist 


on the romance genre.

 I found „The Second Bakery
Attack“ to be a romantic story because it was about a relationship working.
The partners made an effort to make it work. It is different from „100%“
because there is an actual relationship, yet I feel there is a connection
between the couple’s hunger and the man’s desire for the 100% perfect girl.
I think their strange hunger is a metaphor for their desire of a myth,
perfect marital bliss, just as the man wants to believe in the mythical
perfect girl. Although both ideals are unreachable, the fact that the couple
tries makes it romantic. 

 

 
 While it does not address
Lacanian
desire
as directly as „On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful
April Morning,“ it has its very own adaptation of desire as it is applied
to a married couple, an atypical romantic subject.
 
 

That is pretty much it, and I
thought that Lacanian Desire fit for both situations. If what I just wrote
is a gross leap in logic or simply unimportant since it is my shaky opinion,
please tell me. I think it is a valid way to look at the story but hey,
I don’t take myself that seriously.


 

 

 

Doesn’t
he sound just like one of Murakami’s protagonists in this last sentence? 

[An aside from Earl]

I
believe it is possible
to have your cake and eat it too. What is
wrong with knowing something is cheezy and unrealistic, but still going
for it anyway? 
He
is absolutely right! I couldn’t have put it better if I wrote it across
the expiration date on a can of pineapple. [Earl again]

 All of us in this class, especially me [Earl]
owe John Dowling a debt of gratitude for writing back. We’re [I’m]
going to get a lot of pedagogical miles out of this purloined [by
me {Earl}]
letter in the unconscious-yet-to-happen. The most important
thing to observe is that John was able to re-tell what he means so anyone
even I [Earl] can understand it, and in so doing, John may have come to
understand what he meant in a more dynamic way than before he had been
challenged. I don’t want to lose this point, especially in consideration
for those of you who are theory-phobic. Note John met my challenge with
flying colors, he articulated his analysis of the text and convinced me,
and reeengaged our critical attention. And he did this without sounding
like Derrida, or Zizek, or anyone except John. And yet this language was
to-the-point, engaged, engaging, and convincing. And by the way, it is
also theoretically sophisticated. And it doesn’t even hurt. {If there are
still any more predeceased stallions out there let me know and I’ll blundgeon
them too}.

Beyond scoring particular points in terms of the content
of his rejoinder, the tenor, trust, and sheer goodwill of John’s serves
as a lesson to anyone who pays the kind of attention to it he paid when
writing it, the kind of attention he earned and his text deserves.

The step he took couldn’t have been taken by anyone else.
I couldn’t have substituted myself for him there, or written a hypothetical
response to my challenge. But he did it and by doing it John started the
clock again, and gave the conversation a future. And it’s not a question
of a „wrong answer“ being replaced with a „right answer.“ It’s the strategic
dis-placement of „Answers“ with the process of questioning.

Or, to put it on a more practical level, even if I may
disagree with certain of the points the writer is making in his re-response,
I now can disagree – and the conversation can resume. The writer
now articulates his positions logically and clearly, we now share a meta-language
and situate ourselves within a common critical project. The precision of
the writer’s language now allows us to recognize much more certainly those
points on which we agree. But perhaps more importantly, it is also this
precision that allows us a to understand the nature, scope, and ways in
which we disagree, and those differences in our interpretations do not
halt the conversation, but rather facilitate its more potentially productive
continuations. Those points of contention are the catalysts for the generation
of as yet unanticipated interpretants, stimuli to rethinking, opportunities
toward more complex appreciation of the texts and contexts within the community
of inquiry in process by virtue of both the clarity of expression and the
discordance that that clarity illuminates.
We’re not done with these Happy Happy Days yet!

The paper discussed above was one of three or four problematic
response papers on „The Second Bakery Attack.“ Earl’s individual responses
to each of those papers gave way to a more complex response: Earl went
back to the text of „The Second Bakery Attack,“ and did a „close reading“
of a specific feature of the text. This close reading, along with results
from an Internet search can be found on our site by pointing your browser
at

http://www.anotherscene.com/japanpm/how2rd.html

It’s entitled „How
to Read
[Murakami Haruki].“ But you’ve probably already guessed. The
best way to read Murakami is with a gourd. But first grease the gourd .
. .

After you have read and digested that hermeneutic
tart
, you will in a sense be coming back here [quasi-virtually]. At
least you’ll be asked to resume the thread started „here“
[this non-existent here, a real here that occupies no space] and will reappear
in another „here“ when you click this HERE
, or an analogous HERE on the
other HERE
at the bottom of the How to Read
page. I hope that wasn’t too obvious. Yes, that’s right, greasing the
catfish
. I’d grease the
torpedo fish
too if I could stand the voltage.

Happy fishing.

Postmodern
Japan


Earl
Jackson, Jr.


Spring 1999

talkingcure2000@aol.com

University of California, Santa
Cruz