commodities with the products of men’s hands.’ 3
Stuart Hall, interpreting Marx in the context of twentieth-century consumer capitalism, echoes Dickens’s language when he says that, for Marx, ‘workers are split off from the products of their labour which stare back at them from the shelves of shops, stores and supermarkets as if they were alien objects’. 4 Dickens, from this perspective, is coming face to face with the social character of literary production in the displaced form of ‘T HE E ND ’, the staring typeface. Indeed, in a later chapter of Capital Marx
James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
Peter Carey's fictions explore the experiences lurking in the cracks of normality, and are inhabited by hybrid characters living in between spaces or on the margins. Carey took a circuitous route into literature and writing. Characterising Carey's stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. In Carey stories, terminal societies trap characters in drive-in movie car parks, or offer the bizarre possibility of exchanging bodies, or generate a counter-revolutionary resistance movement led by fat men. Grouping the stories around themes and issues allows for a fairly comprehensive insight into Carey's shorter works, and provides some key threads for later discussions of the longer fiction. Four of the most significant areas are: American imperialism and culture; capitalism; power and authority; and gender. In Bliss, the hippy capitalists of 'War Crimes' are replaced by the more conventional scenario of hippies versus capitalists. Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. Oscar and Lucinda might be termed 'retro-speculative' fiction. The Tax Inspector is Carey's most savage novel to date, and it captures Marx's vision of the ravening effects of capital. The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith marks a return to the overt alternative world-building found in the early stories with their fantastic and fable-like scenarios. The overlap between post-modernism and post-colonialism in Carey has been investigated by a number of critics.
The global financial crisis of the early twenty-first century focused attention on the processes that sustain the excesses of corporate capitalism. This book gives an account of the role played by literature in human subjectivity and identity under the working conditions of late-capitalism as these affect the well-being of specialist, middle-class and public sector professionals. It explores how the organisation struggles to reconcile the flexibility and responsiveness characteristic of modern business with the unity and stability needed for a coherent image. Next, an examination of business survivor manuals addressing the needs of employees failing to cope with time-pressure and the required transformation into perfect new economy workers discovers their use of appealing narrative principles. The book covers the theoretical foundations on which assumptions about the subjectivity and identity of the professional middle class have been made, including the ideological pressures and contradictions. It also investigates satisfying work more fully through analysis of popular practical instruction books on cookery and horticulture. The book considers how organic activities involving slow time, such as horticulture, cookery and the craft of writing about them, give a strong cultural message concerning the current organisation of time, work satisfaction and relationships. In particular, it deals with how the human feels attuned to balance, continuity and interconnectedness through the cyclical patterns and regulated rhythms of slower evolutionary change evident in natural systems. The nature of the autobiographic text is also considered in the book.
Toby Litt: haunted by the grotesque
Self ’s work contains striking contradictions at times, demanding
that readers believe in the veracity of his fictional world while
intentionally undermining the very processes that would make
such consideration possible. (Hayes, 2007, 4)
Toby Litt’s first collection of stories, Adventures in Capitalism (2003)
was first published in 1996 and immediately created a critical
stir around its inventive approach to the world of branding and
consumerism. The book’s playful combination of actual brand names
coma during the second part of the novel and imagine it outside the
discourses – of church, capitalism, patriarchy, race – that have previously defined
it, Boylan suggests a possible trajectory for Irish feminist thought. Central to the
progress and promise of this thought is reconceptualising race and including
race seriously in any attempt to undo the colonisation of Irishwomen. That is,
Boylan implies here that the oppression of race is not a parallel to the oppression
of Irishwomen by gender, but a constitutive component of it. In its recognition
Political and aesthetic disruption in Against the Day
Simon Malpas and Andrew Taylor
emergence of the nation, but the
ravages of empire; not progress as emancipation, but impending or
consummated catastrophe’.5 In its postmodern guise, the historical
novel looks a thoroughly anarchic beast, intent on overturning the
progressive teleologies of its ancestor:
Since postmodernism was famously defined, by Jameson himself, as
the aesthetic regime of an ‘age that has forgotten how to think historically’ [in Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism], the
resurrection of the historical novel might seem paradoxical. But this
is a second coming with
significant areas are: American imperialism and culture; capitalism; power and authority; and gender.
America has a spectral fascination for many Australian writers, as Don Anderson has pointed out. He usefully quotes Jean Baudrillard to help explain this: ‘whatever one thinks of the arrogance of the dollar or the multinationals, it is this culture which, the world over, fascinates those very people who suffer most at its hands, and it does so through the deep, insane conviction that it has made all their dreams come true.’ 9 In ‘American Dreams
work of art’ of Van Gogh’s depiction of shoes; Frederic
Jameson’s discussion in ‘The cultural logic of late
capitalism’ of portrayals of footwear in modern art,
where Van Gogh’s painting and Heidegger’s analysis
importantly receive mention; and Derrida’s own encounter with
Van Gogh’s painting of shoes, via the correspondence between
Heidegger and Shapiro, in ‘Restitutions’. In
power-crazed psychopathic business world of ‘War Crimes’, but with the unsettling awareness that this is no longer fantasy. Carey paints a vitriolic portrait of social decay and disintegration, the collapse of communal ethics and the sheer rapacity of the business world consequent upon the global market economy of the late 1980s. As in Bliss , he links together two areas of urgent concern, rampant capitalism and child sexual abuse. Abuse in the family is seen in relation to wider failures of social responsibility manifest in the corrupt abuses of power and wealth in