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March 23, 2008


Derek Catermole

I'm sorry, how is "a loss that projectsitself backwards in a fetishized investment in objects, details, metonyms" a particularly modern loss?

"There's another: why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? ... This fellow might be in's time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers"

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?"

Does modern start at Hamlet?


Don't be sorry, just be smart:
your example, as an EARLY MODERN example, makes my point for me - thanks for that. In case you're interested, have a look at the following:
if you're a wiki-hater, then try the OED (not my first pot of call normally, but you look like the type that might like that sort of thing: "An intellectual tendency or social perspective characterized by departure from or repudiation of traditional ideas, doctrines, and cultural values in favour of contemporary or radical values and beliefs (chiefly those of scientific rationalism and liberalism)." Hope that helps you through your fog. Have courage, stay firm!

Derek Catermole

It's not so much the modern as the particularly that's foggy, my friend. If the modern you're talking about is only as specific as those wiki and OED definitions, then there's not so much that's particular about what you're identifying here.


I know those definitions are not exactly subtle, but, for you, I really don't want to get too confusing. You might get lost. There is a bunch of literature out there on the notion of modernity as a kind of longue durée. Go read it and come back to me... in the meantime, for you, in simple terms, (and if you'd read all the posts you'd get it): what is particular here in the modernist logic of the fetish is the intensity with which it is rehearsed precisely because of its technologically mediated nature and the fact that for the modernists, to quote Mladen Dolar 'there must be an object other than the fetish' - in other words, the modernist logic of the fetish is a highly contested one.

So, whilst there has been a certain anxiety about the fetish as long as there has been a religious institution (Stallybrass is very good on this in the early modern context, for example) what is peculiar or particular here is precisely the location of the fetish within the economy of desire (psychoanalysis as a technology of the fetish, as it were) and its articulation through sound reproduction technologies.

In short, you miss the accumulative elaboration of my opening declaration which you quote in your first comment -

here, again is what I said:

'a loss characteristic of modernity, a loss that projects itself backwards in a fetishized investment in objects, details, metonyms.' Modernity, understood as longue duree is being addressed here (not your rather parochial motion of it) and I THEN (in the next sections, which you should READ) go on to tease out what is specific about the phase of, or self-conscious reflection on, modernity, often referred to as Modernism.

Please don't waste my time now with naff out-of-context back quotes, but read the whole series and come back, if you can, with a constructive and properly grounded reading. If you don't know the literature on this topic, then stay quiet until you do. I look forward to a more edifying exchange.

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