Hiding in the Light: On Images and Things

By Dick Hebdige | Go to book overview

Introduction

According to some contemporary theorists of literature we are living in an age when books as we traditionally conceive them are no longer possible. The word “book” implies a degree of coherence and organisation which is neither appropriate nor desirable in a world where the individual voice has been decentred, disinherited, stripped of its imaginary resonances. The shining that seemed in an earlier epoch to surround and sanctify the gush of human utterance in written form melts away as the voice and the book dissolve into a plethora of half-completed “texts”, voices, incommensurable “positions”. Between the two moments-a world of difference. This book was put together-as most books no doubt are and always have been-on the cusp of those two moments. There was no single point of origin, no prior revelation of a theme, an idea of the book conceived, planned out, then realised. Most of the writing had already happened before a book was on the cards. Many of the articles published here were written during the past five years for different journals, magazines, readerships. It was only in retrospect that the sequence from one essay, one set of concerns to the next, seemed to take on meaningful shape and direction. And yet such a pattern does, I hope, emerge unforced. Certain questions concerning on the one hand the relationship between consumption, culture and design, between “Pop”, popular culture and postmodernism and on the other the “crisis” of “radical” critique and the limitations of “general [academic] knowledges” are returned to at regular intervals. And by the last page, it seems-though I didn't always know it as I was writing-that a journey has been undertaken through the territory of images and things (hence the subtitle)-a journey from subculture through postmodernism and out the “other side”-a journey which begins with early nineteenth-century costermonger culture in the slums of Henry Mayhew's London and which ends in the American mid-West at “noon

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