Entering the World Of Feminism And Postmodernism Through Beloved And Don Quixote Which was a Dream

Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of Literature o Literatureliterature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However literary scholarship since the nineteenth century often includes in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense considering intellectual history, moral philosophy, social prophecy, and other interdisciplinary themes which are of relevance to the way humans interpret meaning. In the Humanitieshumanities, the latter style of scholarship is often called simply theory. As a consequence, the word theory has become an umbrella term for a variety of scholarly approaches to reading texts. Most of these approaches are informed by various strands of Continental philosophycultural philosophy. Nevertheless this approach renders a new dimension to the texts. However before plunging into the thematic journey of the texts it is quite evident to put forward certain aspects from the genres of cultural discourses under which these texts are to be discussed upon.

Postmodernism is a complicated term, or set of ideas, one that has only emerged as an area of academic study since the mid-1980s. Postmodernism is hard to define, because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion, and technology. Its hard to locate it temporally or historically, because it is not clear exactly when postmodernism begins. Perhaps the easiest way to start thinking about postmodernism is by thinking about modernism, the movement from which postmodernism seems to grow or emerge. Everything that the modernists had thus championed was turned on its head. While the modernist seeks order, organization, objective reasoning and the very foundations of the truth of life the post-modernist accepted anarchy, subjectivity, and a complete rejection of abstract truth. To the post-modernists, the world created by humans can only be self-referential and thus can only be understood through the analysis of self-reference. The text in post-modernism thus allowed for the opening of the text to interpretation emphasizing the importance of the reader, viewer, and audience in their own subjective readings of the text. In modernism this was not the case. The reader was irrelevant and was not dependent to the meaning of a text since it existed in and for itself. The meaning was thus independent of interpretation. Through its emphasis on subjectivity however, post-modernist thought allows the reader to reconstitute the text on every reading.
Literary theories, cultural discourses are intangible orders, which can not be perceived as numeric units. They are rather psychological or philosophical outlooks which govern the rationalities of human senses and society.

It is our society that is incorporated in literature. As our society in certain cultural discourse, is being fragmented into two divisions the male and the female. Hence to subvert the male discourse an alternative cultural discourse has been ratified, which is known as Feminism. However there is no unified body of knowledge that may be labeled feminism. Even if one uses the term in the plural one cannot do justice to all the different strands and ways of thinking that the term encompasses.Panja, 2002, 59 In a simple understanding it can be said that feminism is the alter ego or rather a strong voice embodied by women in order to ratify and justify their social conditions. The most straightforward definition of feminism says that is a movement for social, cultural, political and economic equality of men and women. It is a campaign against gender inequalities and it strives for equal rights for women. Feminism can be also defined as the right to enough information available to every single woman so that she can make a choice to live a life which is not discriminatory and which works within the principles of social, cultural, political and economic equality and independence. Feminism can be also defined as a global phenomenon which addresses various issues related to women across the world in a specific manner as applicable to a particular culture or society. Though the issues related to feminism may differ for different societies and culture but they are broadly tied together with the underlying philosophy of achieving equality of gender in every sphere of life. So feminism cannot be tied to any narrow definitions based on a particular class, race or religion.

Beloved by Toni Morrison and Don Quixote Which was a Dream, by Kathy Acker both these books are of twentieth century. In these books both the author tried to uphold the current prevailing conditions of the society where women are the sufferer in a world of male rather mannerism of the society. Both of these writers raised their voice in order to subvert the society rules and to make a separate world of their own, far away from every kinds of social, cultural, racial and gender oppression. Making a separate world with such a society has been an ideology of what Virginia Woolf tried to justify in her book A room of ones own. In contrast to the pragmatic approach taken by liberal feminism, radical feminism aimed to reshape society and restructure its institutions, which they saw as inherently patriarchal. Providing the core theory for modern feminism, radicals argued that womens subservient role in society was too closely woven into the social fabric to be unraveled without a revolutionary revamping of society.

When hearing about Toni Morrisons novel Beloved, one thinks for Sure it is another story about a slaves life. This is of course, exactly right. Beloved does tell the tales of many slaves. It tells of whippings, rape, hard work, and escape. But, while portraying this historical story of enslavement and black culture, Morrison also tells the personal tales of a few very strong female slaves. Morrisons novel focuses mainly on the female characters, Sethe, Baby Suggs, Beloved, and their relationships. If one defines feminism, as a major movement in western thinking since the 1960s, which puts particular emphasis upon the importance of womens experiences. Beloved can be seen as a feminist novel. One of the primary themes of Beloved is the issue of race and effects of slavery. Much of the novel focuses on a community of ex-slaves and how they manage to get on track with their lives. The novel questions, through the eyes of schoolteacher, what the difference is between a man and an animal. In its vivid portrayal of the Negro community, complete with their desires and troubles, the novel shows that a colored man is like any other man. The novel also addresses the concern of whether it is better to endure the injustices of an unfeeling people or to fight against them. Closely tied to the theme of race is that of the past. Each of the characters had endured a furious past, complete with the worst horrors imaginable. Sethe has been raped and forced to murder, Paul D has been imprisoned in a cube in a ditch, Stamp Paid was forced to give his wife away to be a sex toy, and the list goes on and on. Many of these men and women have chosen, like Sethe and Paul D, to repress the past. Others worked actively against it, like Stamp Paid.

However, no sort of resolution occurs for any of the characters until each learns to accept and deal with the past (which is very alive in the present). Only then can a future be found. Another theme in Beloved is that of the banality of evil. Slavery is not just an institution it is a philosophy and mindset which is far-reaching in its consequences. The Garners treated their slaves well, and consequently were respected by such people as Sethe and Paul D. Moral ambiguity, of course, plays a large role in the novel. The question of the murder was right or wrong, crops up many times in the book. The answer finally reached is that it was the right thing to do, but Sethe didnt have the right to do it. Had she not murdered Beloved, she and all the children would have been sold back into slavery. Yet, when she committed the murder, she was shunned by an entire community and placed at the mercy of a vengeful spirit. The concept of family also pervades the novel. Most of the slaves have been torn apart from their families at an early age, and there is little hope in discovering what is left of their families. The consequences of this type of separation can be seen in Sethe, who is possessive of her children, and Paul D, who is determined not to love anything too much.

Very few readers will miss the experimental structure of Beloved. It is not a linear tale, told from beginning to end. It is a story encompassing levels of past, from the slave ship to Sweet home, as well as the present. Sometimes the past is told in flashbacks, sometimes in stories, and sometimes it is plainly told, as if it were happening in the present. The novel is, in essence, written in fragments, pieces shattered and left for the reader to place together. The juxtaposition of past with present serves to reinforce the idea that the past is alive in the present, and by giving us fragments to work with Morrison melds the entire story into one un-separable piece to be gazed at. Apart from this Morrison has designed certain symbolism which clearly shows the depiction of the character in the story. Such as, Instead of using the words remember and forget, Sethe uses the words rememory- I used to think it was my rememory . . . .

But its not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, its gone, but the place-the picture of it-stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. Morrison, 1987, 36 (Both a noun and a verb here) and disremember. To Sethe, the past is alive in the present, and thus the word remember is substituted with the more organic rememory, reminding us that everything is held in memory. Similarly, the word forget lacks the conscious effort that the characters must employ to commit such an act. Thus, they disremember things, with the implication that they force them to the back of their minds. Morrisons investments in agency, presence, and the resurrection of authentic history, seem to make the novel incompatible with poststructuralist ideas at the root of postmodernism. Morrison herself has spoken out against a postmodernism that she associates with Jamesons terms. However, Morrisons treatment of history bears some similarity to Hutcheons postmodern historiographic meta-fiction, but her relationship to this discourse is affected by her aim to write black-topic texts. Morrison acknowledges that history is always fictional, always a representation, yet she is also committed to the project of recording African American history in order to heal her readers. Instead of playful exercise in deconstructing history, Morrisons Beloved, attempts to affect the contemporary world of the real. While the novel should not simply be assimilated into the canon of postmodernism, Morrisons work should be recognized as contributing a fresh voice to the debates about postmodern history, a voice that challenges the centrism and elitism of much of postmodern theory. Beloved reminds us that history is not over for African Americans, who are still struggling to write the genealogies of their people and to keep a historical consciousness alive.

A controversial avant-garde writer and cult figure of the punk movement, Kathy Acker is considered among the most significant proponents of radical feminism and the postmodern literary aesthetic. Associated with the discordant, irreverent music of punk rock, Ackers iconoclastic meta-fiction, a chaotic amalgam of extreme profanity, violence, graphic sex, autobiography, fragmented narrative, and plagiarized texts rejects conventional morality and traditional modes of literary expression. Ackers Don Quixote Which was a Dream (1986), feature female protagonists whose psychosexual misadventures, involving rape, incest, suicide, and abortion, underscore their individual struggles to discover meaning and identity in deconstructed patriarchal language and sexual masochism. A well-versed literary theorist and sophisticated experimenter, Ackers provocative fiction offers a serious challenge to established literary forms and the possibility of human understanding in a nihilistic, de-centered world. In Don Quixote Which was a Dream, Kathy Acker obsessively confronts the problematic of the interface between sexuality and power, and her persistence contradicts the apparent nihilism of her findings. She also uses radical narrative methods that locate the trauma of this confrontation in the form of the text itself. In this book, physical pain produces delirium through which the narrator gains access to the truths underlying her experiences in a series of deluded and delusional cultures. Moving through worlds where cultural horrors are visited on the body and learning from the saints who passionately embrace such experiences, she finds an identity in the momentary conjunction of passion and death. The intensity of her masochistic climaxes burns up the duality of gender. Consequently, it is paradoxically through the body that Ackers narrator escapes the biological femaleness that always threatens to engulf her.

What may be at once the most conventional and the most transgressive of the many strange narratives contained in this book, recounting of a fragmented love story. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that it performs a postmortem on one, as befits a tale that begins with an abortion. But who are the lovers The novels characters change name and form as they momentarily inhabit the large number of texts that Acker plagiarizes. For instance, the convergence of Lulu, Pygmalion, Wuthering Heights, Paradise Lost, Godzilla, Waiting for Godot, and Don Quixote repeatedly transforms the protagonist so that she may speak disruptively from within numerous discourses. However, two characters remain, if not stable or consistent, at least identifiable as the main actors in the novel Don Quixote and St Simeon. His omnipresence in the novel acts as the catalyst for the novels meditations on love and sadomasochism. Don Quixotes First Battle against America begins with her recognition that she cannot own anything. Her recognition that she cannot possess even her slave, her dog is gradually transformed from a source of tragedy to a source of joy, as it helps her to let go of a too constricting understand of love as an exchange in which whatever one invests must be paid back by the other. Archaic saintly practices oppose the current fusion, in the name of sanity, of capitalist, religious, and feminist values like those argued for in Dworkins Pornography Men Possessing Women where the regulation of sexual expression is urged in order that women may own themselves. Again Don Quixotes concern with the politics of its times is obvious.

The novel is not only filled with commentary on contemporary issues such as the rise of multinational corporations, environmental pollution, and the nuclear arms race. Acker marks Cervantess Don Quixote as the pretext, in both senses of the word, for her novel. But considering other versions of Quixotes story that directly precede hers helps illuminate how she situates her tale in relation to contemporary political debates. It is difficult to say whether Ackers Don Quixote was directly influenced by Foucaults discussion of the book in Madness and Civilization, as she left no doubt of her interest in his work. In Madness and Civilization, Foucault posits an opposition between art and psychology. Foucault reads literary texts not as affirming psychologys vision of human thought, emotion, and behavior, but as calling it into question. He sees the transgressive writings of authors like Artaud as especially apt to serve this function. Yet it is in the name of feminism and demonized sexualities that Butler, along with other less famous and influential theorists, calls for the augmentation of Foucauldian theory with psychoanalytic concepts. Examining Ackers readings of Foucault on madness and Don Quixote reveals the complexity of her opposition to psychoanalysis as generative of the master narrative of sexuality and gender identification, and thus offers a defense of the antip sychoanalytic Foucauldian method.

It is not only Toni Morrison and Kathy Acker who raises their voices in order to restore a proper order within the society, through the cultural discourse of feminism and postmodernism. Cultural discourse is not only applicable in literary genre it is applicable to any from of art. Hence we can find an adaptation incorporating the vocative voice of feminism and postmodernism in movie like Paris Is Burning, by Jennie Livingston.


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