4
FANTASY'S REPULSION AND INVESTMENT
David Henry Hwang and Ralph Ellison

Race and Fantasy in Modern America

Is there any getting over race?

The answer would seem to be negative in light of what I have been examining so far. Even in contemporary vernacular culture, we observe the increased frequency with which the "race card" is displayed.As the 0. J. Simpson trial and its accompanying rhetoric suggest, racial rivalry is hardly over.Indeed, it has acquired the peculiar status of a game where what constitutes a winning hand has become identical with the handicap. Reappearing with the vagrancy of a Joker, the race card brings with it a host of haunting questions about the value and perception of race and racial matters in America.What does it mean that the deep wound of race in this country has come to be euphemized as a card, a metaphor that acknowledges the rhetoric as such yet simultaneously materializes race into a finite object that can be dealt out, withheld, or trumped? Why the singularity of a card? Who gets to play? And what would constitute a "full deck"?

Holding a "full deck" may imply some idealized version of multisubjectivity (that is, the potential to play the race card, the gender card, the immigrant card, and so forth), but it also implies a state of mental health and completion that renders such playing unnecessary in the first place.One would "play" a card only because one is already outside the larger game, for to play a card is to exercise the value of one's disadvantage, the liability that is asset.The paradox doubles: the one who plays with a full deck not only need not play at all but indeed has no such "card" to play.Only those playing with less than a full deck need apply.

Not only is liability transmuted to asset and reformed yet again as liability, but the vocabulary of the card also reveals a conceptualization of health and pathology that underlies our very perceptions of race and its abnormali

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The Melancholy of Race
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