History and Refusal: Consumer Culture and Postmodern Theory in the Contemporary American Novel

By Stephen N. Docarmo | Go to book overview

1
“The Devil’s Visions”: Postmodernism
Homeopathic and Accidental in John
Gardner’s October Light and Bret Easton
Ellis’s American Psycho

Everything decent, James Page believed, supported the
struggle upward, gave strength to the battle against grav-
ity. And all things foul gave support not to gravity—there
was nothing inherently evil in stone or a holstein bull—but
to the illusion of freedom and ascent. The devil’s visions
were all dazzle and no lift, mere counterfeit escape, the
lightness of a puffball—flesh without nutrients—the light-
ness of a fart, a tale without substance, escape from the
world of hard troubles and grief in a spaceship.

—John Gardner, October Light

Where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a
desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort
of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the
mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and
if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to
take it in…. This was the geography around which my
reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people
were good or that a man was capable of change or that the
world could be a better place through one’s taking plea-
sure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, or receiving an-
other person’s love or kindness…. Reflection is useless,
the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is
not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface
was all that anyone found meaning in … this was civiliza-
tion as I saw it, colossal and jagged …

— Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

IN POSTMODERNISM (1991), FREDRIC JAMESON DRAWS A SHARP Distinction between two different uses of the eponymous term.

-39-

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