pmjforum9.html

 

Post
Modern Japan


Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

Yen
Economies


Variations
Without A Theme


Another
Scene


 

Postmodern
Japan Forum Eight –  Katy Goodman

„To
Defeat Them, First We Must Understand Them“�

From: katygoodman@hotmail.com (Maria, AKA Katy Goodman)In
the subject line of this e-mail, you see a headline off the Sacramento
Bee’s April seventh edition of „Parade“.  The front page says in full:
„A distinguished author and Nobel Laureate looks deeply into the mind of
the fanatic: To Defeat Them, First We Must Understand Them–by Elie Wiesel“. 
I spotted this in the „Newspapers with problems“ box (I didn’t make that
up) here where I am typing, my place of employment, the reserves desk of
the McHenry library.  The cover (art? – I’m not sure what to call
it) is a collage of supposed newspaper clippings featuring the faces of
middle eastern men, most of them looking pretty damn hostile.  The
choicest bits, in my opinion, are:


 

1) That the only legible print from the clippings is,
„A Fanatic’s Quiet Path From Egypt to Terror: Alleged Hijacker Was Diligent
Student.“  This nicely conflates terrorism with Islamic countries,
while harkening to an earlier concern that immigrants are stealing American
jobs (We all know that quiet, diligent foreign student, don’t we? 
Well, he’s no longer satisfied with a job in silicon valley which rightly
belongs to you…now he’s got a box cutter, and he’s pissed.), meanwhile
suggesting that anyone truly invested in an education (rather than viewing
it as a stepping stone between living at home with mom and dad and the
good life of cubicles and taxes) must have some dastardly ulterior motive.
(Yes!  Yes!  I read a lot into anything, everything!  I
have to compensate for those who consider this news.)2) The automatic weapon
pointed directly at the reader;3) That the text is centered in what seems
to be a bullet hole, with flames and smoke clearly from photos of September
eleventh issuing forth;4) (You were thinking that this was completely unrelated
to our class and previous contributions to the forum, weren’t you? 
It’s tangential, yes; but….) UNDERSTANDING????? people in order TO DEFEAT
THEM?!?!?!?A while back, because I was running out of room on (in? at?)
my Hotmail account I deleted a number of e-mails from this class; but compiled
portions I wished to respond to, thinking I would do so immediately. 
Unfortunately, I have merely treaded water this week, and the prospect
of drowning this weekend looms.  So, the person who wrote the following
must remain officially uncredited (although, stylistically, I suspect DJ).
„I’m
thinking about [contextualizing these texts in Japanese culture] because
I really don’t want to practice any cultural imperialism by imposing ‚my
worldview‘ (nebulous as it may be) on these texts, forcing „alien“ concepts
to conform to preconceived notions. Isn’t one of the challenges of the
class to see how we confront these issues?“
Indeed it is.  However,
I see a distinction between „understanding“ in the Paradian sense and applying
theory, for the sake of argument, Freud’s.  Here’s what I think that
distinction is: Freud’s texts are transdiscursive (this term is from Foucault’s
„What Is an Author?“. My definition of a transdiscursive test [Freudian
slip for „text“? – Earl]
is that it is most valuable for introducing
a form of discourse–a vernacular which can be extended to address concepts
beyond its intended scope: i.e. which can be applied to other fields of
study because of the precision of the terms, e.g. Saussure’s semiology
being applied to film theory in addition to linguistics… If you are absolutely
shocked and appalled by what I’ve done to poor Foucault, I apologize. 
If that was completely incoherent, I apologize.

I do not plan on being a teacher.  I mean to die
a month before completing my education in a tragic freak piano tuning accident.);
so, using psychoanalytic theory on a non-Western text would not necessarily
be out of place since it is psychoanalysis which optimally moulds itself
to the new milieu and not vice versa.  On the same grounds, it would
be a mistake to apply unadulterated Freudian theory to our own
foggy little culture, as is glaringly obvious if you happen to possess
a vagina.


„It’d be easy, too easy, to just
read these texts as we would any  other (although I try to maintain
an alienated relationship to every text,  a critical distance so as
to not be… sutured into their ideologies) and  this course should
force us to examine our imagined unproblematic  relationship to any
text in general, though their refusal/inability to be  totally comprehendible/intelligible
(what text is, though? I should say as  comprehensible/intelligible
as ’normal‘ texts with which we have a ’shared‘  historical/cultural
background).“


Reading Teresa
De Lauretis last quarter
I initially felt, Fuck you!  I like the
narrative.  I love the narrative.  How dare you rob me
of my romance with fiction by identifying it with sadism?  It’s analogous
to some „feminists“ calling every instance of heterosexual intercourse
rape, taking Freud too much to heart with his whole Medusa theory.
Then
I had to admit to myself that I had been conditioned to read novels
and watch movies with predominantly male protagonists, and slip into that
subjectivity–female characters being relegated to the object position.

  The trick is that I was being addressed,
although fifteen-year-old girls from Richmond, CA. presumably were not
Henry James‘ target audience.  I can’t imagine a reader (and here
I admit that I am discussing a more readerly, less writerly, interpretation,
but I’ll get to that in a moment) disregarding the point of view deliberately
invoked by the text, instead identifying with the non-agent because of
a shared gender.  Ophelia is a washout.  For the duration of
the play, I am Hamlet.  And I don’t regret having a readerly response,
not at all.  I desire to be sutured, initially.  I can always
return to a text to determine its nodes and identify its deviations from
the normative Oedipal narrative.  I can always return to Ophelia and
use her, yet again (poor, battered little thing), to launch my feminist
crusade.  Most importantly, I can examine the present day cultural
machinations that sutured me more readily into the „male“ than the „female“
role in the story.

This has been my roundabout way of saying that I don’t
believe it necessary to have an alienated relationship to the text in order
to do a critical analysis.  I am not on the attack when I say this,
please believe that I can be a nasty bitch and that that is not my intention
here; but, to me, an alienated critical relationship to fiction seems rather
clinical.  To me, it’s almost verging on the „To Defeat Them…“ mode
of understanding; like dissecting a cat when it’s desiccated and smells
of formaldehyde–it’s not really a cat, it’s not even a corpse, it’s an
experiment.I have more to say; but I began writing this on Friday evening
(inspired by a troubled newspaper), was interrupted by social obligations,
a day long rehearsal, work, and studying for mid-terms (in that order),
and am now wrapping this up at five am on Monday morning.  I shall
now present you with a truly problematic interpretation:EARL JACKSON JR. 
I want you all to write two to three pages on Murakami without discussing
Japan or what it means to be Japanese by Monday.
MY
SELECTIVE UNDERSTANDING OF THE ASSIGNMENT Write two to three pages, etc.,
etc. by some Monday in the near future.
Maria (pronounced
Kay-tee, it’s occurred to me that I could adopt a Japanese solution to
my name problem) Goodman



 

 

Post-Modern
Japan Forum One
Post-Modern
Japan Forum Two
PMJF4
PMJF3 PMJF5
PMJF6 PMJF7 PMJF8
PMJF 9 PMJF 10 PMJF 11

Post
Modern Japan


Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

Yen
Economies


Variations
Without A Theme


Another
Scene