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Reviews197 Alcyone: Nietzsche on Gifts, Noise, and Women, by Gary Shapiro; xii & 158 pp. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991, $39.50 cloth, $12.95 paper. New books on Nietzsche tend to be assessed according to the degree to which they perceive Nietzsche through the prism of his "multifarious art of style." On this postmodern front, Gary Shapiro's study performs impressively: he approaches Nietzsche's metaphoricity without imposing a prior conceptual framework . Shapiro's Alcyone: NietzscL· on Gifts, Noise, and Women does not seek to unlock "the secret of Nietzsche" (p. 112); the mythic figure of Alcyone is no meta-term. Instead, what is offered is an open-ended meditation, a melodic "performance" on three Zarathustran counter-concepts (p. 2), namely economies , parasitism, and the halcyon myth. Shapiro's earlier study, NietZs^an Narratives (1989), has enjoyed growing critical success. The author stresses for his new book a complementary, more intuitive "halcyon tone"—a transferential borrowing of Nietzsche's phrase, in the foreword to Ecce Homo, advocating to his readers how to correctly "hear" the "greatest gift" ever given, namely Zarathustra. Despite a return to the myth of transformation (that of Alcyone into a sea bird), Shapiro is understandably keen to differentiate his own use of the archaic in Nietzsche from such originseeking , proto-Nazi interpretations as that of Ernst Bertram; instead, the Nietzschean archaic contains for Shapiro a "suggestion of possibilities excluded by what we have come to call the metaphysics of presence"—and likewise of presents (p. 8). Drawing on Emerson, Mauss, Gasché, and Derrida, Shapiro portrays the senkende Tugend demanded by Zarathustra as a new "economic philosophy" of transvaluation (p. 39), in which gift-giving escapes the debtor-creditor structure (as defined in TL· Genealogy ofMorah), toward a "squandering" of the self (p. 41) that nonetheless enacts the "lust to rule" (p. 22). Heidegger's reduction of Nietzsche to a nihilistic Rechnen merely reversing metaphysics is adroitly undermined (p. 43). Most suggestive in Alcyone is Shapiro's elucidation of the so-called parasitic Part IV oïZarathustra as an ironic allegory ofNietzsche's communication theory, in which an Unwertung of parasitism is an extension of transformed gift-giving and of receiving and reading texts. In a re-staging of the carnivalesque opera of Zarathustra hosting his Schmarotzer ("higher men" and animals), Shapiro overtly "parasites" upon Michel Serres's logic ofthe parasitic in human structures (in the extension of the French word parasite to include "static" or "noise," as well as the interplay in hôte between "host" and "guest"). Zarathustra demonstrates how to "become the unpredictable noise that interrupts the interrupters" (p. 78); he defeats their mimetic desire to cling, by becoming a wild card host in a godless, symbiotic exchange-system. 198Philosophy and Literature The only significant limitations of this study occur in Shapiro's treatment of the halcyonic metaphor itself. The concluding section on Alcyone does not fulfill the feminist suggestion of the book's subtide, namely "women." Yes, the voice of Zarathustra can be heard as feminine, but Shapiro concerns himself more with the "halcyonic tone" of a calm, sunny, winter solstice necessary for Nietzsche's male spiritual pregnancy. The Nietzschean problematic of"women" is far more disruptive (indeed, noisy) than is implied in Shapiro's tuneful claim, via the halcyonic mytheme, to a "feminine alternative to hermeneutics" (p. 1 14). Somewhat misleading, too, is the way in which Shapiro plays the role of antidetective and yet retains the typical hermeneutical strategy of deferring the entry of Alcyone until the final chapter: when she appears, this much-awaited feminine metaphor is disclaimed asjust one path among many in the labyrinth, and yet her myth is still explored as a yardstick for Nietzschean interpretation. As a consequence of Shapiro's brand of metaphorical engagement with the Nietzschean text, the actual position of the halcyon regarding the earlier, more convincingly interrelated topoi of gift-giving, noise, and parasitism remains dissatisfyingly underplayed. University of VirginiaJanet Lungstrum Balzacian Montage: Configuring "La Comédie humaine," by Allan H. Pasco; 185 pp. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, $45.00. Allan Pasco's Balzacian Montage is a remarkably successful defense and illustration of the claim that the Com...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 197-198
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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