Category Archives: Original article
Representations of violence in nonfiction prose comprise a large category, and are a feature of American nonfiction literature from the period of colonization to the present. One may find such representations in genres ranging from memoir, personal narrative and biography, to writings within the fields of history, political science, sociology, psychology, and law. Accounts of violence are also contained in primary documents, including legal records (depositions, briefs, case studies, trial records), medical records, political papers, and military documents.
Contemporary graduate students—particularly in literature—are indeed being trained in “theory.” But they’re likely learning it in a class taught by a part-time or non-tenure-track faculty member, unless they are at one of the elite institutions which house the leading lights of theory—the profession’s “stars.” The work of the previous generation of activists (many of them also theorists) has served as a wedge to open the humanities—and, particularly, the literary profession—to previously underserved groups, benefiting those who work in feminist studies, ethnic studies, and post-colonial studies a great deal, while shaking the previously solid foundations of the traditional world of mostly white, mostly male humanities scholars.
For Vibe the unusual and compelling fact about John Lee is that he gained entry and attained high status in the predominantly white world of hackers. For Slatella and Quittner, for Wired, and perhaps even for Lee’s friends in MOD, the compelling fact about John Lee is that he is black, and not just black but a particular kind of black which vicariously confers status, hipness and the aura of street danger on an essentially middle-to-upper-class white past-time—hacking.
The cultural therapist, examining the survey results gathered from questions about the Vietnam War, would formulate certain important questions: 1) What are the bases on which this generation has decided that the U.S. should not have been involved in the Vietnam War? 2) What fears or anxieties are reflected in this generation’s reluctance to involve itself in foreign wars which it perceives to be similar to the war in Vietnam? and, 3) In what terms are these issues addressed?
Soldiers’ expectations about their Vietnam experience, and influenced their actions while they were in Vietnam.They made life and death decisions based on film images, and the consequences could frequently be fatal. The devastating effects of their betrayal by the film medium brought about a deep ambivalence toward film in Vietnam War veterans. Film has also become an acknowledged weapon in the battle over who owns the narrative rights to the Vietnam War.
The very thing that makes veterans’ testimony so attractive to us — the authenticity of it — makes that testimony suspect as history. The Vietnam veteran has a tremendous personal investment in his version of the story. Retelling the war is his way of rebuilding personal and national myths that have been shattered by the wartime experience. Vietnam veterans, in this respect, are no different than their Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, or Korean War veteran predecessors.
What was once called a bastard business has become a billion-dollar industry thanks to the convergence of two trends: the competition unleashed by telecom deregulation and the explosion of prison building caused by an inmate population boom. Restrictive telephone privileges, conceived to curb crime and harassing calls as well as to manage inmate behavior, have spurred the phone companies to come up with intelligent service platforms like Maximum Security or BellSouth’s Meridian MAX.
That white people were bound to misunderstand Black militant near-future novels was assured. Their general ignorance of Black culture guaranteed that Black satire aimed at Black audiences would simply not make it on to their radar. A tendency to take literature (especially literature by minorities) literally, an uncritical acceptance of racial stereotypes, and a lack of facility with the brilliant pyrotechnics of African American vernacular made it likely that few white readers would see these novels as anything other than trashy, cartoonish, and crude.
What does the decline of the Black counterpublic have to do with Sanyika Shakur’s Monster? First of all, it means that Monster is a text produced in isolation from other African American texts, or, rather, in relation only to an idiosyncratic and limited number of other texts which are not representative of anything which might have, in the 1960s and early 1970s, represented black counterpublic discourse. It means that Monster is also heavily influenced by the white popular culture texts to which Sanyika Shakur has been exposed, and which—without a tradition of black critical discourse —he is helpless to critique.
The god Ifa writes the texts, and the god Esu translates them, and it is exactly this translator-god who has metamorphosed into the Trickster figure of contemporary African-American culture. That the Trickster inhabits the Net is undeniable—he is, in fact, the essence of the Net. Gates’ Trickster/Signifying Monkey (and it’s no accident that African-Americans were using “signify” as a verb long before the postmodernists picked it up) embodies various black rhetorical tropes, including “marking, loud-talking, testifying, calling out (of one’s name), sounding, rapping, playing the dozens, and so on.”