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Evaluation of Jameson's, "Fear and Loathing in Globalization"

By mellenyoung Mar 13, 2011 1319 Words
Evaluation of Jameson’s, “Fear and Loathing in Globalization”

In Jameson’s review, he explores the views and values that are represented by Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. He dives into Cayce Pollard’s world of “spring-loaded furniture” and extracts, through careful selection, a world in which Capitalism has run its wasteful destructive course. In this evaluation I seek to explore the views and values Jameson presents, looking closely at the sources Jameson used.

When looking at Jameson’s article its easy to see that he concentrates on the capitalized nouns that are present within the text, “Fruit T-shirt”, “Buzz Rickson’s MA-1”, “Harajuku schoolgirl shoes”. He believes that “everything is slowly being named” (Jameson’s review) that is to say brand names are taking over the current universe. This argument is in complete opposition to the ideas, views and values that Cayce presents and that Cayce upholds. Gibson describes Cayce as being a “design-free zone”, but Jameson uses Cayce’s choice of “fashion” of “brand name clothes” in his argument that in the current world this sort of fashion centricity is due to the wasteful Capitalist ideals that besot Cayce’s world. The liberal use of brand names used by Gibson to describe Cayce, to Jameson “conveys . . . instant obsolescence” yet “She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000.” This last quote manages to destroy the credibility that Jameson’s argument over page 8 may have, as obviously the things she wears are not wasteful fashion items. In Jameson’s review of page 8, he focuses exclusively on the fact that everything possesses a title name and that this branding reflects the wasteful ideals of Cayce’s world, these assumptions he draws from page 8 are in complete opposition to the character that is Cayce and to her views and values.

Jameson uses page 23 to reinforce his Marxist ideologies within our minds. Cayce sees the footage as a challenge describing with excitement it’s “lack of evidence”, “absence of stylistic cues”, “His coat is usually read as leather, though it might be dull vinyl, or rubber.” as something that is indefinable and is not concrete. She is obviously fascinated purely by the fact that she a master at pattern recognition is unable to place the footage. To her the anonymity of time and place drives her passion along with plain old curiosity. Jameson’s perspective proposes that objects can only be defined under a brand name, within Capitalist society, and so twists Cayce’s description to mean that as these items are timeless and seem not to possess the quality her obsession with the footage must be related to her allergy to fashion. He proposes the footage provides her with “an epoch of rest”, that her fascination is present because she desires escape from the world of logos. He misrepresents Gibson’s text merely to find place for his argument that commodities have turned out to be “living entities preying on the humans who coexist with them” and then he compares Gibson’s novel to a small amount of poison, such used in homeopathy. Jameson’s perspective here is simply destroyed merely by reading the paragraph, which he attempts to explore, his views and values lose all legitimacy when compared with Cayce’s.

In Jameson’s, review of page 24 and of pages 64 to 67 he looks at the views and values that the characters place upon the footage, in particular the views and values of Cayce and her employer Hubertus Bigend. Hubertus Bigend is a successful entrepreneur, he has done his research and knows of the huge following that this completely anonymous work has gained and wishes to market it. He describes the footage as “the most brilliant marketing ploy … and new. Something entirely new.” Cayce on the other hand does not seek this sort of publication “but wants nothing more than to see the film of which this must be a part.” In addition, she is rocked when Bigend reveals he has been monitoring her favourite chat site after “the site had come to feel like a second home”. She exhibits to a small extent the behaviour described in Jameson’s review, where those within the group feel violated when late comers get on board the bandwagon and so the violated try to exclude the late comers. Jameson gets it right in his description of the footage lovers’ behaviour, but once more reminds us of his ideology when he describes this subculture group as a “political sect”. To Jameson everything is political, even this group of people from all over the world who are united by their love of an anonymous work hold a political agenda, yet as Cayce said some want “nothing more than to see the film of which this must be a part”.

Jameson continues to present us with his socialist views in the evaluation of pages 17 – 18, 11 and 86 here Jameson explores Cayce’s reaction to Tommy Hilfiger. Cayce has as stated an “allergy to fashion”, and one item of fashion that is particularly toxic is Tommy Hilfiger cologne, during a rare shopping trip she bumps into a display of Tommy and “the avalanche lets go.” She describes Tommy as “simulacra of simulacra of simulacra.” Such a striking quote is hard to go past and the question arises why Jameson does not use it? Jameson instead chooses to use the term “commodity bulimia” to represent this regurgitation of products. The reason the striking quote “simulacra of simulacra of simulacra” is not used, is this phrase holds distinct connections with Baudrillard, a French cultural theorist, who argues that culture (consumerism, brand names, logos, etc) has developed independently of capitalism. Continual commodification has no ulterior motive of making profits for capitalism. We remember at this stage that Jameson is writing in a ‘socialist’ academic journal and so it becomes clear, Socialist theory describes Capitalism as evil and throughout his review, Jameson seeks the same perspective and uses the idea that Capitalism regurgitates culture for profit to support his theology cleverly avoiding the quote that is synonymous with Baudrillard.

We understand now the driving ideals behind his review and have been able to destroy some of the arguments that Jameson presents us with but there is still the matter of what Jameson left out and why he’s been so selective around this subject. Jameson describes, in his review of page 24 and pages 64 – 67, “the mysteries of the footage” but does not explore what these mysteries are. After reading pages 336 and 337 of the text, we can see why. It is on these two pages that the distributors tell their story. They briefly explain how they controlled the distribution. The footage would be encrypted and hidden then either finding the footage themselves or pointing others in the right direction it would be discovered and thus would receive its’ audience. They “watched a subculture being born” around the footage that was made and distributed by humans. Sentient beings who are nothing like the “monster” of Capitalism in Jameson’s eyes, created the subculture. The fact that these were deliberate actions means Jameson’s ideas, that ultimately see Capitalism as an impersonal monster and the footage as created by capitalism, would be completely exposed as socialist ideologies.

Jameson takes a singularly minded approach to Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. He focuses on the ideas and assumptions that he can draw from selected passages within the text to support his ideas and his argument or underlying social theology. Whilst ignoring any views that would contradict his intention. The reason that we can draw this conclusion is because he wrote this review of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition for a socialist publication besides the sometimes-obvious attack on capitalism that is also present within his review.

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