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Books Noted

Academic journal article Afterimage

Books Noted

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Imagine There's No Woman: Ethics and Sublimation by Joan Copjec

The MIT Press/261 pp./$29.95 (hb).

Joan Copjec's latest book takes its beginnings from Jacques Lacan's infamous proposition regarding female sexuality: "the Woman does not exist." Far from being simply a revisionist text, Imagine There's No Woman is an explosive retextualization of the Freudian concept of sublimation through the ideas of Lacan. Copjec starts with contemporary set theory and then blazes a wide trail through the wake of over 200 years of thought. Each argument is intelligently paired with a work of art for illustration, including such diverse pieces as Kara Walker's silhouettes, Cindy Sherman's film stills, and the film noir classic Laura.

But it is this virtue that is also the book's shortcoming. In her adroitness at combining a wide variety of discourses, Copjec often bogs down her arguments with too many particulars. The final chapter of the book, "What Zapruder Saw," begins by contrasting Abraham Zapruder's famous long footage of the Kennedy assassination with Pier Paolo Pasolini's pro-montage essay "Observations on the Long Take. …

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