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132 reviews I remember my sense of embarrassment when my brother Don came to visit the upperclass southern school where I taught ...(222). Ryan's brother (and parents) form an integral part of this last chapter, where family violence produces a "trauma" and a "disturbance or wound of representation" (209). In between discussions of the personal/political dynamics of organizing meetings, and developing concrete proposals for changing our political representation system, the thick heavy story ofabuse, taboo sexuality , and the lingering traces of a damaged working-class psyche charges the words of Politics and Culture with a forcefulness that makes you pause. "The attempt to make things stay still, be quiet, since it was the noise, our children's play, that brought on our mother's rage. And the image also stills the violence, makes it go away, as I had made go away all memory ofher over us, her handfalling again andagain,for years" (210). Ryan uses the final chapter of his book to evoke for us the "real source of Utopian despair. Wanting the pain to end, wanting there to be no more victims" (234). It is a compelling source that leads Ryan to make himself vulnerable to a public audience in a way that is quite unusual for men, much less men schooled in Marxism. And indeed, it is Ryan's commitment to feminism and to the politics of everyday life that theoretically grounds his story-telling. I was deeply moved by Ryan's personal story and encouraged by his definition of the personal, which at once de-personalizes it: "At a certain point, a boundary of some kind, the personal loses the quality that make [sic] it personal and becomes instead the mark left by someone else, or it becomes feeling for and from someone else, or it becomes a materiality that is impersonal" (207). Like Cornel West in Universal Abandon? Ryan brings things back to basics: a radical politics is for healing damaged bodies, identities, and institutions and for creating alternative ones. A real strength of Ryan's book is that he does offer the elements of a practical political program based on a post-structuralist Marxist feminism called for by many in Universal Abandon?. and he does not hesitate to offer working definitions of complex phenomenon. This makes the book contestable, but it also makes it a worthy source for debate. Although the book raises many issues to address critically, I will return to the question posed of Universal Abandon? Why the evasion of race? Ryan draws on the reflexivity of feminism to articulate how a masculinized subjectivity is acted upon and acts out its fantasies and traumas, but subjects are both racialized and gendered simultaneously. Similarly, the goals of equity, equality, and justice, as Patricia Williams has demonstrated so eloquently, require an "alchemy" of both "race and rights." AVERY GORDON Signs ofthe Times: Deconstruction and the Fall ofPaul de Man. by David Lehman. New York: Poseidon, 1991. 318 pp. $21.95 hb. In beginning David Lehman's Signs of the Times. I had hoped the book would make the word "deconstruction" accessible to an average reader. Also, I've been waiting for a book on deconstruction that does not skew the evidence in one of two now familiar directions: either a slanted, apologetic reading of the de Man case, or a reading that gives a bitter, overly generalized denunciation of de Man and literary theory. Unfortunately, Lehman's book moves in the second direc- reviews 133 tion. He continues in the line of attacks on theory from conservative magazines and books like Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals. From the plural in the title, I had hoped that Lehman would consider deconstruction as one of many possible perspectives. However, for Lehman, deconstruction becomes the sign of the times: nearly everyone and everything associated with current literary theory are subsumed under the giant title of deconstruction. In a very summarized form, Lehman's argument runs thus: all current theories are in some way related to deconstruction, and de Man, the guru of deconstruction , was a Nazi collaborationist; therefore, all current theorists advance some politically subversive intent and thus are the enemies of right thinking. This...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 132-134
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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