Rethinking "The Political Unconscious"
Muhlestein, Daniel Kay
Morris, Wesley A.
Doctor of Philosophy
Although The Political Unconscious is an effective advocate of "the perspectives of Marxism as necessary preconditions for adequate literary comprehension" (75), Fredric Jameson's method of interpretation suffers from a number of determinate insufficiencies: (1) its claim to a properly structural causality is ultimately unjustifiable; (2) its "horizon" of Cultural Revolution is grounded in mechanical and expressive causality; (3) its application to literary texts is an act of interpretive impoverishment; (4) its defense of a Marxian "master narrative" of history is a conflation of the Historical Real and its histories; and (5) its attempt at "articulating a properly Marxian version of meaning beyond the purely ideological" (285) is a kind of ideological conditioning in which an impulse common to all classes is harnessed to the ideological production of a single class. Nevertheless, The Political Unconscious is a critically important text in that it points toward--though it does not make clear--the means of production by which that physical necessity which is the material effect of the Historical Real is in the Symbolic Order (re)textualized into the various narrative forms of causality with which we attempt to understand and explain the determinate relations between the Real and its alienating necessities.
American literature; Philosophy; Political science