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140 the minnesota review by aspiring to alter material conditions through collaborative effort he "foreshadows a radical egalitarianism that recognizes the dignity and the unrealized capacity of the ordinary intellect ·* (169). I have only one real reservation about this admirable study. For all of his emphasis on theconstitution, subversion, and cooptation ofcultural production, Whitneygives us a Bacon who seems divorced from his own historicity, a colossus who bestrides the centuries with one foot in antiquity and the other in deconstruction. The book includes some interesting pages on the absolutism of James I, and on one occasion gestures (a little wearily) towards John Donne's lines on the ''new Philosophy" as a préfiguration oflate capitalism's atomized individualism. But readers could come away from Whitney feeling that the circumambient worlds oflaw, politics, and science rarelyimpinged on Bacon's consciousness. To understand the peculiar contradictions of Baconianism it helps to situate Bacon's texts in historically denser contexts than those provided here. Whitney seems torn between a desire to delineate the social space Bacon's writings filled and serious doubts about the possibility of recuperating the historical subject. The continuous discontinuities of Whitney's "modernity," its antithetical dialectic, produce a past- without-difference. ''Foreshadowings'' and the rhetoric oftypology substitute for the work of reconstructing cultural meaning within different realms of experience. Whitney attributes to Nietzsche and Paul de Man the idea that asserting our modernity entails drowning anteriority in oblivion, and—systematically, ruthlessly, but futilely—denying the determining power of history. Bacon's career embodies and explores this dilemma. His predicament is Whitney's, and ours, too. To regard the past as a Golden Age, a foreign country, or a nightmare weighing on the brain of the living is to problematize both its interpretation and recoverability. These two studies grow out of widely divergent assumptions, yet make complementary contributions to our understanding of the cultural condition we call modernity. If Blumenberg's talent for uncovering homologies among apparently dissimilar philosophical systems nevertheless facilitates the process ofarticulating crucial distinctions, then Whitney's emphasis on radical disjuncture draws Bacon into our own intellectual orbit. If Blumenberg envisions historical forces operating on a vast Hegelian scale yet consistently produces powerful insights into specific texts and authors, then Whitney devotes an entire book to an unfashionable figure yet reaches conclusions with implications for literary history, philosophy, and critical theory. ALVIN SNIDER Logics ofDisintegration: Post-structuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory by Peter Dews. London and New York: Verso, 1987. pp. xvii + 268. $13.95 (paper). In the Introduction to this book Peter Dews points out that post-structuralism, as exemplified by the work of the four authors he considers (Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault and Jean-Francois Lyotard), "can no longer be considered a living force in France itself (xii). Indeed, since at least the early 1980s it has been supplanted by the so-calledNouvelle Philosophie, a movement which with its denunciation ofpost-'68 radicalism and decay has successfully employed the rhetoric if not the ideology that carried reactionary political programs to victory and hegemony in the United States and Great Britain. Ironically, while the Nouveaux Philosophes have flourished in France under a socialist government, post-structuralist theory and criticism has become entrenched in the North American academy in the era of Reagan, Bennett and Bloom. The books, essays, conferences and courses which subscribe to some aspect of, to use Gregory Ulmer's term, the "postage ," now appear with a frequency that is, depending on one's allegiances, either heartening or heartrending. The vitality of post-structuralism and the fact that in several disciplines the mantle of radicalism and opposition is passing from Marx to Derrida clearly requires that the Left reevaluate its response. Gone are thedays when thetheories of a post-structuralist author could be summarized (or caricatured) and dismissed as nihilistic or absurd; gone are the Reviews 141 days when the Left could remark smugly that the whole world is waiting patiently for Derrida to explain the political implications of deconstruction; gone too the days when Terry Eagleton—in a recent review—could conclude that "deconstruction has in fact exceedingly little to say of any relevance to the African National...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 140-144
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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