Fredric Jameson – Fables of Aggression (1979)

Introduction and first chapter (p. UC Press)

Jameson’s Wyndham Lewis Book. He argues the Lewis is a proto-fascist and anti-modernist. These forms of aggression are molar re-containments of a molecular force which inheres in something like the individual sentence. So “style” and “narrative” grow apart. Jameson insists on reading this with a combination of Althusserian structuralism and Freudian psychoanalysis, which combine in the term “libidinal apparatus.” This becomes a useful way to track fantasy structures as the inhere in material forms. Read this way, Lewis becomes a means for both synthesizing and critiquing two dominant characterizations of modernism: those represented by Lukacs and Adorno, respectively (but really this is just recapitulating Adrono’s critique of Lukacs). The fragmentation wrought by the Real is grappled with in and through fantasy structures that necessarily fail and transcend that material “base.” This manifests itself in contradictions:

We will suggest that Lewis lived a grinding contradiction between his aggressive critical, polemic and satiric impulses and his unwillingness to identify himself with any determinate class position or ideological commitment…his ultimae fall-back position [is] Archimedean point of the pure eye. (17)

Rather than actively engaging in a political terrain, Jameson suggests that we see Lewis as an “impersonal registering apparatus for forces which he means to record, beyond any whitewashing and liberal revisionism, in all their primal ugliness” (21). Indeed, figuration and narrative frees the ideological content to “demonstrate its own contradictions” and, further, “project is own structural closure” (23).

This involves turning metonymy against metaphor as its determinate negation (30). [Read this in relation to metaphor more generally, as well as the “determinate negation” that characterizes self-preservation’s relationship to self-identity >>> i.e. rematerialization, Adorno, Levinas (giving matter back to matter via sensibility read as signification)] At times, metaphor goes completely silent, and metonym grinds along with mechanical regularity. [Read metonym non-pejoratively as proximity, against Jameson. rather than a binary of “mere reproduction of sentence matter vs. mysteries of poetic creation,” read poetic creation back onto the “mechanics of creation” (use Nietzsche and Bergson to do so, perhaps reaching back to Hegel’s PHL of nature, etc.)..also a time to ask the question: what happens to Freudian dream- and fantasy-structures after the pleasure principle??]. Jameson argues that these “early” sentences begin passing over into narratives themselves (Tarr in particular, but also in Wild Body).


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