Responses: On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism

By Werner Hamacher; Neil Hertz et al. | Go to book overview

From the Authority of Appropriate (De)form(ation) to—:

Toward De Man's Totalitarian Acts

JEFFREY S. LIBRETT

Not having been a personal friend or direct student of Paul de Man, I am not principally concerned with the at once difficult, ghastly, and somewhat ludicrous question of whether or not as a person he should posthumously lose his face as a result of arguments concerning the ethical status of his intention in maintaining all but utter silence, while in America, about his Belgian past. Nor will I indulge—beyond this refusal of indulgence—in a histrionics of horrified indignation which could only amount by its very inauthenticity to disrespect for past and present suffering and death under military dictatorships and genocidal regimes. Instead, I am principally concerned here with the texts De Man published since 1953, especially from Blindness and Insight on. My question is quite simply: in what way do the ideological beliefs present in the articles from 1941-2 affect the work after De Man's emigration? I pursue first the question of what these beliefs were while postponing the question of how "ideology" is to be defined until the second part of the following three-part argument:

(I) De Man's journalistic engagement during the period of the occupation in the early 40's will have been a totalitarian act, a parasitic collaboration with totalitarianism having as the central necessary condition of both its conformity with and its deviations from the fascist project the belief in the attainability of organically appropriate form. (II) In the work from roughly Blindness and Insight on, De Man's traversal of phenomenology, existentialism, new criticism, and (post)structuralism struggles to distance itself from this ideology of the possibility and necessity of appropriate form which guided his parasitic collaboration. (III) In the practice of critical deformation expressly affirmed in the last essays, a certain parasitic collaboration with or performance of post-fascist forms of metaphysical totalitarianism remains openly legible. Although different in ethically necessary and proper ways from the collaboration with fascism, this collaboration remains both explicitly uncertain about its own distance from the authority it had left behind, and unfit to assure either its own collaborators or its opponents that their distance from what both parties fear and detest about fascism is as securely established as either might wish.


I

In the articles of the early 40's, De Man thrives parasitically on the "revolution" in which he finds himself a participant and, in accordance with his parasitic position, seems at times to wound or weaken the doctrines on which this "revolution" was by 1940 obviously based. At the risk of seeming to reduce politics to literary critical games, and drawing on a remark De Man made some 40 years later—that only quotations have performative

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Responses: On Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 477

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.