Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism

Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism

Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism

Memorious Discourse: Reprise and Representation in Postmodernism

Synopsis

This book zeroes in on postmodern representation, which the author defines (with a wink at Borges's Funes the Memorious) as memorious discourse. This wide-ranging discussion of contemporary writers and theorists from Nabokov and DeLillo to Levinas and Derrida argues that postmodern representation remembers and recycles former representations, and draws a picture that latches onto other pictures to bring its object to life. Memorious Discourse identifies five areas in recent theory and fiction where the problems of postmodern representation come to light forcefully: the postmodern memoir and personal literature broadly, the use of names, the posthuman, the issue of reality and the complex bearings of postmodern ontology and the sublime's revival. Christian Moraru is Associate Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Excerpt

This book has an interesting biography (WELL, which does NOT?). For a while, Memorious Discourse competed for my time with my previous monograph on postmodernism, Rewriting: Postmodern Narrative and Cultural Critique in the Age of Cloning, and has been until recently vying for my stamina and writing hours with another project of comparable scope. No doubt, there were “setbacks” in this contest as Rewriting and other things came out ahead of Memorious Discourse. But the latter has managed to hang in there and convince its author that the issues it raises remain of vital importance.

Postmodernism, I have come to see more and more clearly as a result of the thinking (and thinking over) that went into the book, is anything but ahistorical, a culture without memory or dispassionate exercise in political apathy. in fact, the opposite seems to be true, at least if we read carefully—yes, “closely”—the writers and theorists convoked below. As I keep insisting, the postmodern fundamentally rests upon a complex “engagement” with the world, upon a relational pathos that renders postmodernism’s texts, tunes, and art objects deeply “dialogic,” as we used to say back in the Bakhtinian eighties. in postmodern discourse, I listen, to recall Roland Barthes, for the “rustle of language,” but also for the murmur of culture and history and the frissons of politics, albeit indirectly, intertextually, by way of other texts and visions. These representations are reprised, “remembered” and thus reenacted but not without alteration, as postmodernism spins its own stories, memoriously.

Over the years, a number of friends and colleagues have encouraged me to pursue this notion systematically, and here I cannot but recognize just a few. Once more, Matei Calinescu has been helpful in more ways than I can name. I also want to thank the following individuals and institutions: Brian Richardson, David Herman, Paul Maltby, Marjorie Perloff, Jeffrey R. Di Leo, and my colleague, Kelley Griffith (for calling my attention to Nicole Mones’s first novel); Dr. Harry Keyishian, Director of Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, for his constant, patient guidance; Raymie E. McKerrow, reader at . . .

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