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Reviews167 digkeit"—an aesthetic union of antithetical principles signified by "a peculiar deadening" of men and gods alike (p. 52). If Nägele and Wellbery give innovative accounts of the crucial role caesural inexpression plays in Benjamin's critical methodology, Avital Ronell in "StreetTalk " explores the topic of speech as rumor while inadvertendy describing the language of the death's head in its aspect as wild expression. Ronell's staged encounter between Benjamin, Heidegger, and Rousseau addresses the question of "rumorological paranoia" (p. 120)—especially in the efforts of the latter two to quell rumors damaging to their reputations and legacies. Conversely, Benjamin 's relation to rumor is largely theoretical: focusing on "The Destructive Character" and "Karl Kraus," Ronell elucidates Benjamin's concept of rumor as a promiscuous rhetoric of pestilence in which public and private discourses, to quote Benjamin, "commingle demonically in pratde" (p. 121). Analogous to Nägele's and Wellbery's ground of historical life, rumor represents the monstrous materiality ofexperience untouched by intellectual form. One could wish that Ronell's writing exhibited less of a stylistic cleverness itself verging on Tumorous excess; but on the whole, she subjects her topical ground to rigorous thought. Others may respond more readily than I to Rodolphe Gasché's location of an intersection between philosophy and theology in Benjamin's theory of language , or to Beryl Schlossman's and Werner Hamacher's singular accounts of the caesural image, while Timothy Bahti's analysis of fate and forgetting may seem less obscure to those who can accept a quasi-deconstructionist approach to Benjamin's texts. If Nägele's praxis of reading requires the critic to admit the otherness ofBenjamin's oeuvre, this prerequisite further implies the adoption of what Wellbery calls "the discourse of modesty," which "endeavors to efface itselfbefore the inner movementofthat text" (p. 39). According to this definition of the relation between reading and commentary, the three essays discussed above particularly distinguish their authors as expert readers in a genuinely Benjaminian sense. University of California, BerkeleyLynne Vieth Daughters andFathers, edited by Lynda E. Boose and Betty S. Flowers; vii & 453 pp. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, $39.50 cloth, $12.95 paper. The editors of this anthology of feminist criticism begin with two questions: why has the interaction of daughters and fathers been, until recendy, a subject that stands "virtually unmapped" (p. 1), and what has happened in both aca- 168Philosophy and Literature demie and popular perception in the last few years that has broken centuries of silence? A phenomenon of "sudden emergence . . . makes it equally relevant to consider not only what accounts for the historic erasure of a subject but also what cultural signals suddenly authorize its articulation" (p. 2). Boose and Flowers suggest a variety of current societal and economic phenomena. One certain cause, however, is the joining togetiier, for the first time in intellectual history, ofa "critical mass" ofacademic "daughters" examining their own routes (and roots) to power. This anthology suggests that a daughter's psychological inheritance from her father can be both an enormously empowering and inhibiting factor in her ability to claim personal and professional authority. The traditional dynamic is oudined in the long introductory article by Lynda E. Boose. In the anthropological "narration of family," the father's control is established through the exchange of women. The most easily bestowed woman is his daughter. "Thus, if the prohibition of incest is essentially a mechanism to control internal family sexuality so that outward exchanges can take place, then the incest taboo would seem to have a special applicability to one particular pair. And if it is true, as anthropology asserts, that the origins of culture are synonymous with the evolution of kinship, then culture has essentially been built upon die relationship it has seemed least eager to discuss—that between father and daughter" (p. 19). That has not meant, however, that the daughter's value to the family— and to the father in particular—has traditionally been acknowledged. Indeed, her position has more often been that ofa "sojourner." And yet, though destined to be exchanged, her connection with her father is difficult to dissolve, often due to the father's reluctance to release...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 167-169
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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