[Reader-list] Fwd: Afterimage call for papers

William Mazzarella mazzarel at uchicago.edu
Mon Oct 29 20:41:52 IST 2001

On the Foucault quotation re: dialectic. This is one of the central 
misunderstandings of much poststructuralist theory, a misunderstanding that 
has its roots in the particular reception of Hegel in interwar and postwar 

It equates 'dialectic' with the onwards-and-upwards movement of Hegelian 
thought, and in so doing it misses the whole fruitful tradition of 
post-Marxist German critical theory, in which the dialectic is NOT 
necessarily teleological, in which it is, to use Adorno's term, 'negative.' 
That means that its terms mutually transform each other but do not resolve 
into a higher synthesis. It is a dialectic of perpetual critique, perpetual 
inversion, and perpetual undoing.

Having understood that the dialectic is not necessarily totalizing, this 
line of thought unfurls its critique from within, rather than, in the 
poststructuralist mode, perpetually positing hegemonic and totalizing 
structures that must be countered with indeterminacy and rupture. The 
result of this misunderstanding is a double fetishization: on the one hand, 
of an overtotalized master narrative that must be deconstructed and, on the 
other, of the radical potential of otherness.

Having said that - on the semiology quotation: Right on!


At 08:32 AM 10/29/2001 +0000, pratap pandey wrote:
>4 crr!T!cs und ozzer cr!tters
>ewhen as crayters
>o-pen up loverrs hayters
>wrr!te now, nicht layters
>Afterimage call for papers/contributions: Alternative
>"'Dialectic' is a way of evading the always open and
>hazardous reality
>conflict by reducing it to a Hegelian skeleton and
>'semiology' is a way
>avoiding its violent, bloody and lethal character by
>reducing it to the
>Platonic form of language and dialogue."
>Michel Foucault, from Power/Knowledge
>Introductory overview
>Call for papers/contributions
>+++++Introductory overview+++++
>It is common practice that sailors and soldiers
>launching bombs and
>in Afghanistan these days often decorate them with a
>written message
>their recipient. Usually underwritten by phobic
>statements from the
>vocabulary, these deliberately offensive exclamations
>some close affinities between warfare and discourse.
>However, while
>insulting words are often delivered for a destructive
>effect they are
>backed by such explosive power: with every message
>dispatched in
>any notion of impact acquires an added meaning. The
>sight of language
>dispersed along with shrapnel has caused many cultural
>critics and
>to lament the lack of power and potency in the
>relations of meaning
>have carefully crafted. But to actually mourn such a
>loss must come
>with a
>recognition that any dialectic always aspires to a
>combative model. If
>have supposedly lost their impact, to recall the blast
>of a previous
>sentence, it is only because they were, from the
>outset, launched from
>linguistic command that calculated their syntactical
>path and semantic
>trajectory with purposeful precision. Discourse, in
>other words, is
>caught up in the power relations made explicit by
>warfare. The point is
>even more poignant by the Anthrax-laced letters
>arriving at various
>institutions. Handwritten manifestos have forwarded a
>lethal concoction
>is both a subject of the text and a definitive
>enclosure. These words
>as with the correspondence taking place in
>Afghanistan, dispatched and
>backed by a substance that brings them into effect.
>The question is:
>are we,
>as critics, writers and artists, really "jealous" of
>bombs or toxic
>to the extent that we, in understandable despair,
>surrender words to
>role of a futile supplement, even when words remain
>such a compelling
>addendum for warlords and terrorists alike? At the
>moment, the American
>bombs, combining insults and munitions, along with the
>blending threats and poisons, are horrible compromises
>communication. Let
>us instead address the struggles, strategies and
>tactics of present
>discourse/warfare with a sharpened pencil.
>+++++Call for papers/contributions+++++
>Let me offer some incomplete and inadequate fragments
>to elaborate on
>call for papers and contributions in the context of
>recent events. It
>becomes more apparent with every GPS-guided missile
>and ground
>guided by night-vision equipment that this "war on
>terrorism" is fought
>with and over certain technologies. In the "wrong"
>hands, technology
>has a
>destructive potential, as witnessed on a macro level
>by the September
>hijackings, renewed concern over the nuclear
>capability of Pakistan and
>capacity to produce Anthrax spores with a levitating
>density. In the
>hands, technology exudes a redeeming promise of global
>the American way), economic affluence and ideological
>supremacy. But
>battle of and over technology, interpreted here in the
>widest sense,
>may of
>course also extend to the removal of new Osama Bin
>Laden footage from
>network television over fears that he could send some
>secret signal-a
>destructive code made possible by his mere presence-to
>the world. American media outlets have accompanied
>this move toward a
>caricature of the enemy with segments on the "lies"
>spread by headlines
>the Pakistani press (reporting on Taliban news
>conferences) and
>information distributed by broadcasting networks in
>Arab nations. It
>furthermore include the capture of this very email
>message by the joint
>project Echelon that monitors communication channels
>and intercepts
>parcels containing key words from a filtering list (I
>have no doubt
>this shortlist). This latter point was further
>exacerbated by the
>U.S. anti-terrorism bill, passed on October 26, which
>makes invasion of
>privacy, through searches, and the constant
>surveillance of phone and
>communications, what is commonly referred to as a
>gathering of
>³intelligence,² a largely uncontested right of certain
>The technologies now pronouncing war are, without
>doubt, the same
>technologies that we are actually fighting over, and
>the unbalanced
>between the current adversaries could not be stronger:
>on one side, a
>power, and on the other, a devastated place
>derogatively referred to as
>remnant of the Stone Age. Technological progress, or
>prowess, is quite
>horrifically celebrated through this questionable
>display of military
>but it is also seen, usually in the foreboding CNN
>suspense that
>a dark night made visible in the moments before
>explosive impact, as a
>regulating and disciplining apparatus extending from
>conjunctions of
>power and knowledge to cover everything from your own
>home to the
>In a broad call for papers and contributions,
>Afterimage, the journal
>media arts and cultural criticism
>work that wishes to profoundly engage and challenge
>the use and
>of technology with alternative visions and functions.
>Please forward your requests for further information
>or proposals to
>editor, Are Flagan, areflagan at mac.com.
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William Mazzarella
Assistant Professor
University of Chicago
Department of Anthropology
1126 E 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637

tel: (773) 834-4873
fax: (773) 702-4503

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