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118 the minnesota review lots of things, detail, color. Although some of these connections are mentioned, they are given much less attention than the aesthetic texts that Schor reads with such astute devotion and care. The back cover of Reading in Detail reads: "the story of the detail is as political as it is aesthetic," focusing on the "secularization, the disciplining of society, the rise of consumerism , the invention of the quotidian.'' But Freud is much more present than Foucault. The poUtical remains entrenched in the realm of the hypothetical. For instance, the "feminine particular" mentioned above "lies in the direction of a specifìcaUy feminine form of idealism, one that seeks to transcend not the sticky feminine world of prosaic details, but rather the deadly asperities of male violence and destruction." But the form that idealism might take or how it might be read in relation to male domination is not pursued. Nor is the inherent violence of aesthetic ideaUsm put into question. (Perhaps this is the moment to confess that my own ongoing lack of interest in questions of the "aesthetic" has always stemmed from its mystification, i.e., unwillingness ?t inability to consider power relations.) Why then the detail? Schor suggests that it might be a way of legitimizing her own "instinctive critical practice." But as she so eloquently states herself: "aU Uterary methodologies, aU critical theories and histories of critical theory serve to validate idiosyncratic relationships to the text." She knows that her love for detail is bound up with her "Oedipus," the fact that her father was a goldsmith, "a master of the ornamental detail, a Renaissance artist in the age of high modernism and minimaUsm." If the daughter has positioned herself within a "lover's discourse," what does it mean for her to write first a mother book (Resia Schor, "maker and breaker of chains") and then a father book (Ilya Schor, whose bracelet appears as frontispiece), as novelists such as Maxine Hong Kingston and Gloria Naylor have done? By moving the fetishized detail from the foot (Schor's Breaking the Chain) to the hand, the question shifts from whether women are really castrated (foot-binding as the attempt to make certain the lack) to whether castration refers to women or to the feminine in man. What remains ofthe feminine are only the metaphorics ofthe detail which are already outdated, now that the "paradigms of patriarchy have been largely eroded. Eroded, but not eradicated." If the pre-eminence of the detail in post-modernism has already been read not as a victory for the feminine but as another appropriation by the masculine, what must feminism continue to do, now that women no longer are the metaphor, but among its most powerful readers? This is the question that provides no "hook" on which "to hitch my own fantasies." If, as Schor suggests, (classic) sculpture functions as the "degree zero of detail" and (Hansen's) contemporary sculpture of "Tourists" and "Supermarket Shoppers" promotes detail to the level of the essential, then one might consider the recent erection of a twentyseven foot styrofoam "Goddess of Democracy" in Tienanmen Square in Beijing. Protesting art students constructed a "statue of liberty" with both arms upüfted to hold the torch and a face with Asian features, in such a way that made it difficult to remove without totally destroying it. The authorities called it "an insult to our national dignity," but did they want to be caught by the camera smashing that particular lady? The "Goddess of Democracy" should remind us aU that "the feminine" is aüve and well; at the same time its Asian features give it a cultural specificity and, at least in the Chinese context, allow it to survive as an emblem of political struggle. ANNE HERRMAN Women and Power in the Middle Ages Edited with an introduction by Mary Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1988. pp. 277. $30.00 (cloth), $15.00 (paper). In the wake of the writings of Michel Foucault, the subject of power has come central to current historical, Uterary, psychological, philosophical, and sociological thinking. In Women andPower in theMiddleAges, this currently vital subject is conjoined...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 118-121
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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