Fetishism and Its Discontents in Post-1960 American Fiction by Christopher Kocela

By Christopher Kocela

Fetishism and Its Discontents argues that post-1960 American fiction makes use of fetishism as a technique for expressing social and political discontent and for negotiating tense reviews. via shut readings of novels and brief tales via Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, Ishmael Reed, John Hawkes, and Tim O'Brien, between others, Christopher Kocela strikes clear of the entrenched, Freudian constructs of fetishism and uncovers a brand new figuring out of the fetish as a parallax item that testifies to occasionally threatening variations in racial, gender, and sophistication perspectives.  the 1st particular learn of its type, this publication brings originality and rigor to a culturally well timed topic.   

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Fatal Turns Ahead Before proceeding to an overview of my study, I want to say a few words about the principles that have governed my selection of texts. A problem observed in previous literary studies of fetishism is that, as soon as one goes looking for fetishism, one begins to find it everywhere. To counter this problem, I have been meticulous in my choice of authors and novels, as will become evident to the reader. First, this study does not address in detail issues of commodification and commodity fetishism.

In this light, the object of the first-encounter theory of fetishism is not its narrative content, the discovery of the fetish object, but its formal resolution of the problem of two gazes—one enlightened and one unenlightened—brought to bear on the fetish. Fetish theory attempts to resolve the parallax threat of multiple historical perspectives by averting the collision between ethnic worldviews dramatized in earlier first-encounter narratives. By transforming the European perspective into a narrative gloss on the African origins of the fetish, fetish theory recognizes ethnographic difference while subsuming it within a higher order of universal history.

By telling new kinds of stories about fetishism in which subjective efforts to control or explain the meaning of the fetish are thwarted, novels such as Pynchon’s V. and Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo mark a “fatal turn” on the Enlightenment tradition of fetish theory. Reversing the epistemological privilege accorded the Western theorist, these novels dramatize a “crystal revenge” in which the truth of the fetish is revealed as its disruptive ability to generate differences of historical and cultural perspective, social antagonism, and failures of universalizing models of knowledge.

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