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1 - Freedom from you

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2010

Michael W. Clune
Affiliation:
Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
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Summary

In Gaddis' JR we encounter a mature example of the form I am calling the economic fiction. This chapter takes a step back in order to provide a fuller frame for its evolution as I will track it in the remainder of this book. My first aim is to explore the desire I believe to animate and to motivate this fiction. This is the desire for an alternative to social relations, and I approach it through three artistic images of madness. In the first part of this chapter, I set up Esther's insanity in Sylvia Plath's Th e Bell Jar (1963) as a rich site to investigate the belief that inter subjectivity is defined by intractable flaws and the corresponding longing for a different mode of relation. In the second part, my examples are the insane Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 film There Will Be Blood and the maniac in Amiri Baraka's 1972 poem “Das Kapital.” I examine how these fi gures reproduce the key features of Esther's insanity, but now locate the alternative to inter subjectivity in the economic. To gain a perspective on this development, in the third part of this chapter I construct a brief intellectual history of the concept of an economic fiction, centering on Karl Polanyi and Hannah Arendt.

For thinkers from Jacques Lacan to Martha Nussbaum, and from Charles Taylor to Gayatri Spivak, the social relation and individual consciousness have a single origin: the look of recognition. The gaze that loops between the self and the other, between the eye and the mirror, binds the human world together.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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  • Freedom from you
  • Michael W. Clune, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
  • Book: American Literature and the Free Market, 1945–2000
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511674631.002
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  • Freedom from you
  • Michael W. Clune, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
  • Book: American Literature and the Free Market, 1945–2000
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511674631.002
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Freedom from you
  • Michael W. Clune, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
  • Book: American Literature and the Free Market, 1945–2000
  • Online publication: 23 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511674631.002
Available formats
×