Contents

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p. xi

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1. Writing AIDS

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pp. 1-16

This is an essay about witnessing and the authority it borrows, in Walter Benjamin’s stately and capacious phrase, from death. Because witnessing is mediating, we cannot say, as perhaps one might wish,and certainly not in a simple and straightforward sense, that its authority derives from the truth, itself always a mediated construct....

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2. Dying as an Author

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pp. 17-33

If so, and the political context is relevant, we can now return, from another angle, to the complicity of AIDS writing in general, and the AIDS diary in particular, with the calamitous disease to which its imultaneously bears witness. Given the direness of the syndrome, such writing—the “writing of AIDS”—can only be understood as (a)...

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3. Confronting It: La pudeur ou l’impudeurand the Phantom Image

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pp. 35-60

In 1981 the ‹rst rumors of a supposed “gay cancer” began to circulate in New York. That year, in Paris, Hervé Guibert published a book about photography, his passion: the book was entitled L’image fantôme, which might translate either as “The Phantom Image” or“Phantom Imagery.”1 It is, idiosyncratically enough, a book about...

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4. An Education in Seeing: Silverlake Life

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pp. 61-80

In Silverlake Life: The View from Here (1993) the videomaker Tom Joslin—with technical assistance from a number of friends (including his lover, Mark Massi)—made a remarkable video record, in diary form, of his own dying and death from AIDS. Completed by Peter Friedman, the video is nevertheless a remarkable...

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5. Anxious Reading: Eric Michaels’s Unbecoming

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pp. 81-113

Ill people whose unaccommodating behavior earns them the reputation of being “difficult patients” are a trial to their caregivers andfriends. There is a sense, though, in which the practices of AIDS witnessing, to the extent that they represent a refusal to give up and go quietly from the scene (as so many would like AIDS “victims” to do),...

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6. RSVP, or Reading and Mourning

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pp. 115-135

If you go back to the influential essay by Barthes that launched the phrase “the death of the author,” it is immediately clear that Barthes was concerned not with a problem of survival (and continuity) but with a project of substitution...

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Afterword

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pp. 137-141

Having begun this essay in the summer of 1995, I am writing its afterword in the summer of 1997. During those two years the first vague rumors of the efficacy of protease inhibitors and the relative success of combination therapy began to spread and soon became real news. Problematic as this treatment is in many ways—medically,...

References

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pp. 143-145