Four
Just, Lasting, Comprehensive

The tide of this chapter is taken from the repeated formula for political settlement in the Middle East. It is taken, secondly, from the fact that in virtually every book discussed so far justice has been a central, it not the central, concern. It is there, finally, because justice is so difficult--one could say 'impossible', but that would be too easy--to talk about. Justice is one of those terms which excites the most passionately committed investment but which, almost in proportion to that investment, seems hardest to actualize on the ground. Nowhere does this seem more vivid or pertinent than in South African and Israel/ Palestine, whose haunting presence inside and on the margins of English literature and culture has been my theme. As I finished writing these chapters in their original form as lectures in April 1994, within days of each other the first non-racial democratic elections took place in South Africa, and Israel and the PLO signed their accord. It is not to underestimate the historic significance of both of these events to say that, in both cases, justice had only--and in the case of the Middle East Agreement, I would say, barely--begun.

Justice could be called an ideal, but the word is too bland; it settles the tension between wish and actuality, desire and embodiment, in advance (an ideal is only ever an ideal). We could call it rhetoric, but that would be to ignore or override too quickly the whole tradition, starting with The Republic, which pits justice against rhetoric as the mere play of empty verbal form. It might be called a performative, but it is rather the opposite: talking won't do it; say it and its substance seems just as likely to vanish or drift away. Justice may not be mere rhetoric, but there is no term quite like it for forcing our attention onto the possible gap between word and deed; no

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States of Fantasy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction States of Fantasy 1
  • Part One the Clarendon Lectures 17
  • One in the Land of Israel 19
  • Two Black Hamlet 38
  • Three the English at Their Best 56
  • Four Just, Lasting, Comprehensive 78
  • Part Two the Limits of Culture 97
  • Five on the 'Universality" of Madness: Bessie Head's a Question of Power 99
  • Six Dorothy Richardson and the Jew 117
  • Afterword Freud and the Crisis of Our Culture 133
  • Notes 150
  • Index 171
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