Friday, September 01, 2006

How to avoid being paranoid

A review of the later Sedgwick via wood s lot:
It is a genre of criticism that has spread through various disciplines and relies on an imagined hiddenness: `What marks the paranoid impulse... is... the seeming faith in exposure... as though to make something visible as a problem were, if not a mere hop, skip, and jump away from getting it solved, at least self-evidently a step in that direction' (139). This preoccupation with exposure worries Sedgwick because of its reliance on:
    an infinite reservoir of naïveté in those who make up the audience for these unveilings. What is the basis for assuming that it will surprise or disturb, never mind motivate, anyone to learn that a given social manifestation is artificial, self-contradictory, imitative, phantasmatic, or even violent?... How television-starved would someone have to be to find it shocking that ideologies contradict themselves, that simulacra don't have originals, or that gender representations are artificial? (141)

Acknowledging that the paranoid impulse may have been valuable for making sense of particular historical conditions, Sedgwick wishes to question the inherent usefulness and radicality of this reading practice in every context.

No comments: