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Reviews395 female narrator. The erotic, autobiographical novels of the 1980s and 1990s, such as TL· Lover, adapt these complex cinematic techniques to literature. By focusing the reader's gaze through the eyes of a woman character and by recounting the story in a female voice that alternates between first and third persons, Duras asserts her right as both woman and writer to control our understanding of desire, absence, split subjectivity and the coincidence of public and private catastrophe, the preoccupations of her entire career. Schuster's study is useful in explaining problems in Duras's work, such as her appearances in her own films, which Schuster interprets as a positive assertion ofauthorial control, or the overtly personal character of the later novels, which Schuster sees as a means of experimentation with "the self-conscious play between fiction and confession, fantasy and memory" (p. 117). MargueriteDuras RevuitedWAl help Durasophobes and Durasophiles, both ofwhom, according to Schuster, often hold their opinions for the wrong reasons, gain a new understanding of Duras's importance in French fiction and in feminist studies. Whitman CollegeMary Anne O'Neil The Case of California, by Laurence A. Rickels; 373 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, $45.00 cloth, $13.95 paper. According to Derrida, America is deconstruction. Laurence Rickels helps clarify Derrida's sound bite by relocating California within the analyses of group psychology and mass culture offered by psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School. In a series of tightly written "cultural clips," Rickels deconstructs "Kalifornien," and by extension "Amerika," as the outer limit of Central European thought. Some highlights from Rickels's analysis of California: It was not only the practice of embalming the dead that had its modern rebirth in California. Out west, popular music, like the horror film, turns on ritual sacrifice: the replacement oflove and war by friendship and suicide. The increasingly drastic assertion of sexuality in popular culture is one of many desperate attempts to deny death: sex is no longer the subtext, it is the pretext. Since it is not very friendly to dig up the death cult underlying culture, California shifts its attention to undying adolescence. Group-think meets its match and maker in the teenager, who "likes to be different like everyone he likes to be like" (p. 165). The group's denial of death only means that death will come back later with renewed energy. Jonestown is the logical living end for the teenage gang. At the very least, these arguments are plausible, usually they are convincing, 396Philosophy and Literature and at times compelling. Occasionally, though, one wonders about Rickels's friends—what kind of a creepy gang is he hanging out with? Adorno's association ofpopular music with Africa and Africa with human sacrifice might seem to fit more easily into a history of European racism than any other analysis. Nor does the Frankfurt School's analysis of the masses as feminine stand up to a feminist critique. Freud's concern about the "rule of women in America" and his conclusion that Woodrow Wilson's breakdown was caused by an American society allegedly consisting primarily of women and effeminate men isn't reassuring either. Along the same lines, psychoanalytic commentary from the 1950s about "clinical" imposters and schizophrenia seems to emerge from a homophobic, as well as sexist, discourse about passive, feminine men, who are the children of absent fathers, and "possessive mothers." But Rickels's point is that one can't distinguish between that racist, sexist, and homophobic tradition and American pop culture. He occasionally ironizes these voices from the past as he channels them—for instance, when he suggests that "mature heterosexuality is designed to rotate perpetually on low like some libido lawn sprinkler" (p. 282). And just when you think he's calling for the return of the Führer, or at least the idealized nuclear family with a strong father, he slips—accidentally on purpose—in a parenthetical remark, and lets you in on a secret: Daddy isn't going to take the T-bird away—the adolescent state he critiques so powerfully "is, after all, here to stay" (p. 286). In fact, his constant use of Californian speech patterns—"totally radical," "tubular...


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pp. 395-396
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