After the Orgy
Toward a Politics of Exhaustion
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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We currently find ourselves in the strange position of living in the future itself. Since Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick combined to make the quintessential science fiction movie, 2001 has signified “the future” for several generations, and it is now a matter of some significance that we have passed this date. To what extent our present...
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I would like to thank numerous people who contributed to this book, directly or indirectly, whether during its previous life as a doctoral thesis, or throughout its lengthy metamorphosis into a manuscript. Simon During, Ken Gelder, Mark Dery, David Bennett and Catherine Gallagher all guided my gauche enthusiasm into...
Introduction: After the Orgy
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On March 26, 1997, thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found dead in Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, their Nike shoes sticking conspicuously out of their purple shrouds. They had taken their lives in the belief that the Hale-Bopp comet was shielding an alien space craft that was to take them to the Level above Human. The ensuing...
1. Panic Merchants: Prophecy and the Satyr
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The Greek god Pan is one of western culture’s most enduring and ubiquitous trickster figures. Half-man, half-goat, Pan dwells in forests and glades trying to seduce nymphs, despite his grotesque demeanor. Born in Arcadia, he has thus become an icon for those who lament the Fall into...
2. The Rapture of Rupture
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Before we contemplate life “after the orgy,” however, we must look at the orgy itself, or at least those whose rhetoric was orgiastic. The Marquis de Sade, Georges Bataille, and Friedrich Nietzsche constitute a canon for any libidinal genealogy located within historical philosophy. Their works help to define many pivotal terms,...
3. The Virtual Apocalypse
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As we prepared for our transition into the twenty-first century, an emergent discussion of digital communication technologies warned of the possible “annihilation of space and time.” We must remind ourselves, however, that the invention of the steam engine and the railroad inspired similar declarations in mid-nineteenth-century...
4. Decaying Forward: Satiety and Society
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One of the most valuable documents about the nineteenth-century fin de siècle is Max Nordau’s wide-ranging polemic, Degeneration. Published in German in 1892 as Entartung, and translated into English three years later, this book champions the progressivist liberal-humanism of its author against such classic decadent texts as...
5. Cosmic Architects
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Several decades after the event, baby boomers continue to sit behind “the curtains of darkness,” trying to shed some light on this magical-mystical decade. This quote from Robbins’s Jitterbug Perfume (1990) clearly displays the rhetorical double-movement made by many survivors of the sixties counterculture; obliged to...
6. Playing at Catastrophe
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In the final years of the twentieth century a new “look” emerged from the eternally recurring spectacle of the fashion world. Mimicking the corpse, it was referred to as “death fashion” or “heroin chic.” Beautiful young models are arranged in mortified postures, and a fabricated autopsy report listed alongside the label...
7. Conclusion: The Revelation Will not be Televised
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New Year’s Eves are notoriously anti-climactic. This is because we insist that they hold the symbolic weight of a temporally significant transitional moment, a weight the actual experience of time passing cannot hold. Despite the conviction of the prophets of apocalypse, there is always a morning after. We are always already after the...
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Page Count: 222
Publication Year: 2002
Series Title: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture