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60 Laurence A. Rickels Take Me to Your Reader At some mid-career point in the series of my horror film class at UC Santa Barbara, I thought it was time to check out the current scholarship. Because cultural studies had started running its commentary all over the place abandoned by Marxist sociology, there was an outside chance that there would be a compatible reading out there of the mass socius in terms of the mass of murder. I, too, was more interested in the overlaps (and gaps) between slasher or splatter movies and off-screen violence than in another film-studies interpretation of “his” and “her” pleasures as closely read and embedded in discrete cinematic works. It was 1999, the year in which I had made a popularity-testing commitment to mass cultural studies with the publication of The Vampire Lectures. (Immersion of theory in mass culture holds interchangeable places with the allegorical immersion of eternity in finitude.) There were in fact three or four new books (all of them by academics) on both the horror genre and our mass-murder culture , which aimed to swim up the mainstream (but were deadbeat in the backwater of academe). In one of these compromise formations, the 1998 study titled Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture, the index entry “Ronell” seemed to signify that dissociation in this case might have preserved its better half. One out of two references was to a footnote, from which I quote the second paragraph: i-viii_1-256_Davi.indd 60 4/10/09 3:14:25 PM 61 Take Me to Your Reader More locally, the tendency to proceed by way of analogy or pun in some recent work on the technology question—for instance, the work of Ronell and Rickels—has the effect of invoking without specifying the relays between persons, bodies, and forms of technology. That is, analogizing or punning into relation persons and machines, insides and outsides, bypasses the articulation of the relays between inside and outside (what Freud called “the system between the outside and the inside”). Hence the equivalences posited by pun and analogy bypass articulation of the work of making-equivalent and in effect bypass technological differences generally . Such work puts in place of such an articulation of relays, resistances, and differences that make a difference a sort of black box. Proceeding by way of analogies immune to differences is troubling not least because it’s precisely the violence-inducing tensions between analogy and cause that traverse these cases of murder and machine culture. It’s troubling, also, because such black-box accounts are remarkably inattentive to what I take to be two of the governing premises of the cultural logistics I mean to instance here: that things are in part what they appear to be, and that nothing is simply reducible to anything else. In the pun-free or -pure discourse above, the recourse to “logistics” serves as placeholder for a whole jargon of “utilization.” In the culture industry, the intellectualization of ordinary thought meets the momentum of “dumbing down” more than halfway. But that is just another way of saying that the footnote is more theoretical in its formulation than what one tends to encounter up in the main text. When an author stakes untenable claims to originality, he or she will regularly try to off the more original competition in a footnote. I remember coming across an article in a nearly New Yorker–type academic journal once upon a time in which all the materials of my reading of the Frankfurt School’s reading of Mickey Mouse had been resituated within the prose of someone who clearly knew how to write the good grant proposal. Then I found the footnote to The Case of California. The book was acknowledged and dismissed as not on the theoretical level of the sudden upsurge of deconstructive reading of the “break” Mickey Mouse does not get because the proposal author was pulling it on me in the mode of emergency (restricted, thus, to a footnote). Before the collapse of pun onto analogy (a confusion as jarring or jarheaded as that between unconscious and conscious thought), one might consider, if only because Serial Killers claims that Freud is on its side, the pervasive momentum of analogization in Freud’s thought. Freud raises two series of analogization of psychic processes—with haunting and with technical media—to the status of endopsychic perception. It is true that i-viii_1-256_Davi.indd...


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