Force Fields: Between Intellectual History and Cultural Critique (Series; 11)

Martin Jay

Language: English

Pages: 288


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

First Published in 1993. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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During the last [in de siede, apocalyptic fantasies were often explicitly tied to anxieties about the erosion in what was assumed to be women's primary role as a mother. As Bram Dijkstra has demonstrated in Idols of Perversity, once the ideal of the "household nun" was undermined and women's sexuality unleashed, many artists and intellectuals projected images of sadistic fury onto women, who were figured as viragos, gynanders, vampires, and other instruments of doom. v The German artist Erich Erler's 1915 etching "The Beast of the Apocalypse," in which a blood-soaked nude wreaks her vengeance, exemplifies the melancholic inability to integrate the anxieties generated by unconscious ambivalence about the mother's loss.

But two final considerations may suggest otherwise. First, it is not necessary to construe our textual reconstruction of the past only in terms of a literary narrative imposed on the raw da ta of "actual" events. Other allegorical relations can exist as well. For example, J├╝rgen Habermas has argued for a complicated relationship between rational reconstructions, based on sociological theories of evolutionary development, and historical narrative. > Although he doesn't draw on the theory of allegory, there is no reason not to equate what Kellner has called our inevitable counterdiscourse with such a rational reconstruction, wh ich knows itself not to be a faithful reproduction of what "really happened.

Only a remnant of the saved would survive the final holocaust. Reinvigorated by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which emerged from the ashes of a penultimate holocaust, strengthened by the spread of Christian fundamentalism from the Bible Belt to new, often urban settings, emboldened by its successful entry into the political mainstream with the rise of the New Right, religious apocalypticism has continued to grow in importance. Ronald Reagan's notorious evocation of Armageddon in one of his debates with Walter Mondale struck a chord among millions of Americans, who apparently took it as more than a mere metaphor.

What makes such a charge so ironic, of course, is that the Institute itself dearly did not emerge out of the working dass, but rather from a particular stratum of the urban educated bourgeoisie (the Bildungsb├╝rgertum) in crisis. As such, it has been seen by some ob servers as the first instance of an elitist Western Marxism distanced from the real concerns of the masses. " Wh ether or not this is fair to the complexities of its members' development, it does correctly register the fact that the Institute must be understood as much in the context of what Fritz Ringer has called "the dedine of the German mandarins'"?

In what is surely one of the most widely remarked metaphors in all of his work , Marx compared ideology to a camera obscura, that "dark room" in which a pinhole in one wall projects an inverted image of an extern al scene onto its opposite. The famous passage from The German Ideology reads as follows : "If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historicallife-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physicallife-process.

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