Forgetting Lot's Wife
On Destructive Spectatorship
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
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List of Figures
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List of Plates
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Preface: Looking Back on Lot’s Wife
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Forgetting Lot’s Wife offers a theory and a fragmentary history of destructive spectatorship in the twentieth century. Its subject is the notion that the sight of historical catastrophe can destroy the spectator. The fragments of the history I trace here all lead back to a biblical story, however: Lot’s wife, looking...
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This laconic poem by a laconic poet encapsulates some of the difficulties of reading the figure of Lot’s wife. The nameless poem does not name its subjects, Lot’s wife and Lot; it requires that the reader recognize the ‘‘glittering token’’ and the man who pursues the road...
Chapter 1: Artaud, Spectatorship, and Catastrophe
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The spectators imprisoned in Plato’s cave and Lucretius’s witness of shipwreck are perhaps the most canonical figures for spectatorship in aesthetics and philosophy.1 While these figures, and especially the spectral watchers in Plato’s cave, continue their vigorous afterlives, the...
Chapter 2: Hollywood Sodom
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If Artaud imagines his audience as twentieth-century Lot’s wives, petrified by the spectacles it must witness, Hollywood films often imagine a different audience and a different experience: we take pleasure in looking at disaster. The burgeoning literature on the ethics...
Chapter 3: Anselm Kiefer’s Lot’s Wife: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator
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In his narrative poem After Nature, W. G. Sebald describes a photograph of his parents, taken in a public garden in Germany on August 26, 1943. This photograph is the first entry in a chronicle that leads forward to a story of his own origins and backward to the hallucinatory...
Chapter 4: Lot’s Wife on September 11, 2001; or, Against Figuration
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On the morning of September 11, 2001, one of tens of thousands, from the corner of Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, I watched the towers burn, saw falling windows and small forms that even from that distance were unmistakably falling bodies, and...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2007