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Midwest Modern Language Association

Unpacking My Library Again Author(s): Homi Bhabha

Source: The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, Vol. 28, No. 1, Identities

(Spring, 1995), pp. 5-18 Published by: Midwest Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1315240

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Unpacking My LibraryAgain

Homi Bhabha

"Iam unpackingmy library.Yes,

you to join

I am. The books are not

yet

on the

to

past

two

InsteadI must

ask

fromWalter

cipate momentarily

and disorder"that have marked

months, since arriving in Chicago.

pairings-Maud Ellmann'sThe Hunger Artistsinterleaved

most unlikely

with Peter Carey's TheFatManin History - the

orderof booksdeterminethe orderof things? Whatkindof

self and one'stimes is coded in the collecting of books?Driven

thoughts, I was led to a somewhat unlikely,yet intriguing,reading of Ben-

will remember,

of his

Mos-

memoriesof the roomswhere these books

Benjamindoes, thatforthe collec-

of an old book is its rebirth."' struck me, unpackingmy own library- memoriesof

shelves, not yet touched

by me in the disorderof crates."Withthese words, borrowed

parti-

in the "dialecticaltension between the poles of order

the mild boredomof order

Benjamin'sessay "UnpackingMy Library," I ask you

my

life and

my

work these

As I drew out booksfromcratesin the

questionspressed:

Does the

history of one-

by

these

jamin'sconcludingparagraphs. The inspiredflaneur,you

discovery

conjuresup images

orderand

cow, Florence,Basel, Paris

hadbeen housed,"only to remind us, as

tor "the acquisition It was then thatit

wandering world through the cosmopolitan dis-

"Riga,Naples,Munich,Danzig,

of his oldbooks:

book-buying in Bombay, Oxford, London, Hyberabad, Champaign-

Urbana,Jyavaskala-

irredeemable"vernacular" cosmopolitans committedto what WalterBen-

describesas "therenewalof existence."In subtle ways thatdisorder

decimal

system,

sal," academiccast.TheformalconnectionthatI am

kind

part of my new book, and must wait for anotheroccasion. My purpose

here is more circumstantial, even anecdotal, but not without a relevance to a kindof contingent dis-orderedhistorical"dwelling'bestowed upon us

by many of the most interesting

thatit is the "disorder"of ourbooksthatmakesof us

study,

are

and

displaces the Dewey

cosmopolitans of a

more"univer-

suggesting between a

revisionarycosmopolitanism is

jamin

challenges the shelvedorderof the

which

persuades us thatwe

of transdisciplinarypedagogy

and a

books thatwe collect

in an

today.

which is beginning to soundmoreandmore

unexpectedsynchronicity: one

old, the othernew - AdrienneRich's"EasternWar-Time"fromhervolume

like Pandora's box, two texts

As I

unpackmy book crate,

emerge

An Atlas of the Difficult World, and Martha Nussbaum's essay "Patriotism

and

BostonReview.In their different ways, Richand Nussbaum propose that

our contemporary historicalmoment

translational temporalities of the "new-old," or

tive-past,"concepts

Cosmopolitanism,"published with wide-rangingresponses in The

requires to be read, and framed, in

"time-lag," or the "projec-

I'vetried to develop in TheLocation of Culture.

I was struck initially by

both texts, the primal AdrienneRichwrites:

a

scene

certainbookish "dis-order"that becomes, in for making a map of the late modernworld.

ignorantlyJewish,

trying

through

ofReadingGoal, EleanorRoosevelt's MyStory.2

to

grasp books: Jude the Obscure, TheBallad

the world

ForMartha Nussbaum, it is the Cynics, the Stoics, KantandRabindranath

Tagore's novel TheHomeandtheWorld-a

their

yokedtogether to revivethe "very oldidealof cosmopolitanism," the"vivid

imagining of difference."3Itis the contingency of

through theirconcatenationand contestation, that

in the need for Benjamin's ethical and aesthetic imperative: "therenewal

of life"

motley, ill-fittinggroupdespite

pointed

out- thatmustbe

these "un-packedbooks,"

produce

a sharedbelief

cosmopolitansympathies,

hercriticshave

throughrelocation,dislocation, and re-situation.

ForRichand Nussbaum, sucha renewalleadsto a "global" reorientation

of the patriotic ornationalist perspective,but, for both, some difficult, un-

answered questions remain:Whatis the sign

gory of the cosmopolitan? Where does the subject

injury, speak

claim

or

from?To what does it bear relation?Fromwhere does it

of "humanness"in the cate-

of

global inquiry,

responsibility? Andherethe resemblancebetweenthemends.For Nussbaum, the"iden-

tity"

center of a series of concentric circles that move

cycles of familial,ethnic, andcommunalaffiliationto "the largestone, that

of humanity as a whole."The task of the citizen of the world, she writes,

lies in making human beings more like our

our deliberationson

patrioticsovereignty, Nussbaum in a

specific historicalsense. Nussbaumtoo readily assumedthe "givenness" of

belated

liberalbenevolence- as it

circles of

or nineteen million refu-

city dwellers"in the global sense?The eighteen

measureand comparable worth. Butwho are our"fellow

"cosmopolitan" concentric

embracesa "universalism"that is

of

cosmopolitanism

demands a

spatial imaginary: the "self"at the

through

the various

"fellow city dwellers,"basing

"that interlockingcommonality."

In her attempt

to avoid nationalistor

profoundlyprovincial,provincial

as the

Satrap of a benign,

a commonality thatcentersonthe"self"-

equal

geniallygenerates its

gees who lead their unhomely lives in borrowedand barricadeddwell-

6

UnpackingMyLibraryAgain

ings? The hundred million migrants, of whom over half are fleeing pov- erty and gender persecution world-wide? The twenty million who have fled health and ecological disasters?4 These "extreme"conditions are not at the limits of the cosmopolitan world, as much as they emphasize a certain liminality in the identity or

subject of cosmopolitanism that is mobilized by Nussbaum. It is a subject peculiarly free of the complex "affect"that makes possible social identifica-

She neglects those identities [that] "arisefrom fissures fabric," as Richard Sennet suggests in his response to

Nussbaum; "[they contain] its contradictions and

remain necessarily

experience."5

of any individual's particular

tion and affiliation. in the larger social

they

incomplete

versions

And here lies the difference in Adrienne Rich's cosmopolitan subject:

I'ma

I'ma mass

grave I'ma tableset with roomfor the

I'ma field with cornersleft for the landless

I'man immigrant tailorwho says A coat

is nota pieceof cloth only

I have dreamedof Zion

I'ma corpsedredged froma canalin Berlin

a riverin Mississippi

canalin Europe where bodiesare floating

a life thatreturns

Stranger

I'vedreamedof world revolution

I am a woman standing

.6

I am standing

here in your poem, unsatisfied

For Rich, the boundaries and territories of the cosmopolitan "concentric" world are profoundly, and painfully, underscored and overdetermined.

The "I"is iteratively, interrogatively staged; poised at the point at which, in

recounting historical trauma, the incommensurable

rience and memory each time put the "I"in a different place. A place of difference-such that the atlas of the difficult world articulates a defiant and transformative "dissatisfaction," a dissonance at the heart of that com- placent circle that constitutes "ourfellow city dwellers." For it is precisely there, in the ordinariness of the day-to-day, in the intimacy of the indige-

nous, that, unexpectedly, we become murderous, unrecognizable strangers to ourselves. Shouldn'tNussbaum be concerned, Michael Walzer asks, that the crimes of the twentieth century have been committed alternatively by perverted patriots and perverted cosmopolitans?7

"localities"of expe-

It is to the perverse

passions

of patriotism and its world-historical

"masks"that I now want to turn. On April 20, 1939, the GuardianLeader

published the following account:

Anxiety on Hitler's Birthday of

Today, as in the days

pace,

Napoleon,Europeanhistory is made by

suspense,

one man.

He setsthe

cendsall other

been askedwith keener

birthwhich is being celebratedwith

he holdsthe worldin

questions,day after day,

anxiety

andthe question thattrans-

is "Whatwill he do?"Neverhasthat

than today, the 50th anniversary of Hitler's

greatrejoicingin,Germany

he is undis-

indiscipline

Is he a great manora smallman? Undoubtedly both.Heis the greatest liv-

ing demagogue. He is a masterof politicalstrategy. He is extremely shrewd

andamanof abrupt action.Hismindis commonplace andhe hashadfew ori-

ginal ideas. Although he demands the utmost discipline

canneversit orstand still, evenwhen

days.

ciplined. He is self-controlledwith respect to foodand drink; his

shows in other matters,notably

His indiscipline is the causeof his extremerestlessness.He is always on the

move,

submerged in brooding silence.

If any difficulty orobstacleis put in his way, he breaksintoa fierce rage; his

fitsof anger will sometimeslastfor

of providence sent with a divine mission. He clings

"race," andaboutthe enough in some ways

in monumentaland political architecture.

He regards himselfasaninstrument

to a few ideas about

superiority of the German race,althoughparadoxically he despises the Germans.

The banality of evil has its own restlessness. Is it great or is it small? Monumental and premeditated, or anxious and undisciplined? The anxiety runs deeper: is history being made by "one"man who clings on to "afew ideas about race,"or is Hitler a demonic "doubleman," a Napoleonic reve- nant with a disastrous idee fixe? Those of us who are familiar with the early nineteenth-century discourses of Oriental despotism will recognize, in this 1930s "English"portrait of Hitler, a certain indeterminacy, a double- ness of inscription and address: does Nazism provoke anxiety, or is the

What will he, or it, do

Hitlerian body politic itself in a state of anxiety (

next)? Hitler's own, often repeated, response to such a question, was at once bombastic and banal; a commonplace answer which has, over the last fifty years, gained a terrible resonance that places it amongst the most trau- matic "truths"of our times: "The spirit of the new German," Hitler declaimed in his Nuremberg oration, "does not manifest itself in parades and

speeches. It is seen as its best when the ordinary duties of everyday life are carried out efficiently." In the inter-war years in England, the avowed proj- ect of the patrician fellow travelers of the fascist right was to provide mod- ern British nationalism with an effective mobilizing populist myth, which, as Tom Nairn has persuasively argued, it had traditionally lacked: a mobi- lizing myth that depended "onthe self-action of the Volk, [rather than an

appeal to the] inexhaustible

custodians."8 Pro-Nazi sentiment in the 1920s and 1930s attempted to

"quotidianize" Hitler and naturalize national socialism in order to propa-

gate

nant, who was to play some significant part in persuading the Prince of

Wales into taking an appeasing stance, wrote in April, 1933:

wisdom of Institutions and their patrician

a racist, decisionist, and masculine political imaginary. E. W. D. Ten-

History will recordthat nothing

many

has

AdolfHitleris rather disappointing. He is of medium height

youthful edition ofJ. H. Thomasthanof Napoleon.

moustache.He would like to cut it off but feels that it is now too late-his

but this movementcould have saved Ger-

to understandwhat

begin Toan impartial outsiderthefirst impression of

morelike a

fromBolshevism.We in GreatBritainmust

happened in Germany

Hehasamostremarkable

moustache is famous

got

He is

probably

one of the greatest orators of all

times. His voice is attractive,powerful and untiring

election

he

came to curseand remainedto bless.9

During the recent

wirelesswas an immense help to him. By this means

thousandsof potentialCommunists;they

campaign in touch with hundredsof

This attempt to turn the house painter from Linz intoJ. H. Thomas, the lad from Swindon who became a leading light in the National Union of Rail- waymen in the late '20s, and later parliamentary under-secretary for the colonies, is not simply an attempt to reduce the anxiety around the figure

of Hitler, and fascism more generally.

goguery lies the political lesson: the voice that carries across the "internal,"

uneven borders of the nation turns an internally divided and differen- tiated social into the common national subject-an imagined community. And if the rhetoric of the banal or the quotidian is part of the language of populism, we encounter, in this voice that produces a seamless "whole," the more coercive political etymology of the word "banal":a commonality, or common purpose, that is derived from compulsory "feudal" service, which, through time, comes to be naturalized as the common-place or

In the image of Hitler's dema-

common-usage:

the banal

mobilized

in the "everyday" service

of the nation.

Young Elisabeth Fairholme writes in July 1937, after joining the Women's Labor Service in Germany in order to experience the spirit of the "new Germany":

Ifound myself

singing the rousing anthemsof the new Germany

the

on colddarkwinterdawns saluting theArbeitsdienst flag, and

Indeedso powerful is

girlsforget

that just as the other

spirit and atmosphere of these camps,

that they come of different classes, so

another

nationality vice without reward or

this is accomplished,

printedcode, or list of rulesin theArbeitsdienst

daily in Camp became so deeply absorbed in my

tinglyfind myself uttering their meaning and intentclothed in

though they were my own thoughts and opinions. "10

for the time being I forgot I was of

each girl's life; and ser-

Servicebecomes the object of

recognition

It is

exceedinglydifficult todescribehow

within the Camp. There is no

The words of the songs I sang

mind that even now I unwit-

this harmonious atmosphere

differentwords, as

Elisabeth Fairholme, in the grip of amor patriae, is not herself free of anxiety in the midst of her obvious enjoyment. The only event that she remembers as having disturbed the harmony of the camp was when a girl who had been cleaning pig-styes and cutting wood all day "had failed to

curlher hairforthe

the ratherbanalbenevolence, and the nationless, classless identity of

once-and-future"clairol" chanteuse, there lies, just aroundthe edges, the

terrorof not quite knowing who you areor what you are being subjected

findingyourselfuttering their meaning and intentas my

thoughts

If Elisabethfindsall this somewhatdifficultto understand,SlavojZizek,

the Lacanianfrom Ljubljana, findsit all too

What They Do"- a banaltitle in my double reading of thatword- he sug-

earthly for it is the

gests

meal of cocoaandblackbread" (791). Amidst

evening

the

to, the anxiety and

of

opinions.

easy. In "For They KnowNot

of

that the Jew is Hitler's point de

capiton; all the diversity

the Jewish plot;

miseries is conceived as the manifestationof

Jew who manifests the enjoyment-"impossible, unfathomable, enjoy-

ment"- thathas been stolen from us, and therefore, the Jew provides the

knotting of the narrativethreads of national

"moraldecadence," economiccrisis.Elisabeth's English"enjoyment" of the

anti-semitic "being" of

the Germannation (in this psycho-politicalsense),

certainly bears out, in part, Zizek's psychoanalyticalreading: Elisabethis

nation or

at once the nation'svolkish "unchosen" subject-unmarked

class, participatingironically

and, in

anotherdiscursive space within the same narrative, she becomes

the vehicle for the state's paranoiac, projectivereinscription of those differ-

ences of race,gender,class,generation, nation-for instance, the objectifi-

cationof the Jew as oriental,effeminate, and corruptlybourgeois

politan - those verysigns,

displaced in the

everything

writes in

"captation" or capture of the new nazi-nationalcitizen."In

degeneration, humiliation,

by

in an almost pre-national ethics of "service,"

cosmo-

if not sites, of differencethatwere disavowedor

something unchosen," Benedict Anderson

suggests thatthe naturalistmode

natural there is

the courseof an argument that

of the national narrative is its moment of

(motherland,

Vaterland,patria, heimat) become the transparent[objects]

identification:skin-colour,gender,

the nationalsentiment produce

intimation of simultaneity across [the nation's]homogeneous, empty

time." My concernnow is with the momentwhen the

identificationturns

ElisabethFairholme uncannily encountersherself,automaton-like, unwit-

and intent of others in words that are her

the momentwhen the English butler Stevens, in

TheRemains of the Day, has to confronthis unwitting anti-semitismin the

own. Or, laterin my talk,

tingly,repeating the meaning

of national

parentage."1

of

Those "natural"ties of

"the beauty

Gemeinschaft," "a ghostly

"object" of

national

for instance,

anxiously abject:

that moment when,

service of Lord Darlington: a guilt

the "unconscious," and as

problems of agency without "intentionality," a politicalaffectivity attached

to objects that are displaced or symptomatic. Is there a genealogy of this

uncanny "naturalism"thatconstitutes, at once, the anxiety andthe affilia-

tion of

thatrises

suddenly fromthe depths

of

a form

of psychic reality, presents

us with the

national identity?

10

UnpackingMyLibraryAgain

Now this suggested

linkbetween nationalismandananxiousnaturalism

appeal

to the

authority of a "racial" Sluga have recently

is clearly seen in the work of JohannFichte, often creditedwith being the

father of modern national sentiment. With Nietzsche and de Lagarde,

Fichte formedthe matrixof the Nazi

philosophical

argued. Fichte has a particular relevance to the rather hybrid "English-

Nazi"terrainof my lecture, for in the popular culturaland politicaljour-

nals of the inter-war

commonly Englishpublic with the ideologies of the Germanstate. It is, however,

traditionas EtienneBalibarand Hans

period,

like The

EnglishReview,Fichte, Nietzsche, usedtofamiliarizethe

andRenanwere the threethinkersmost

rarely remarked of TheAddresses to the GermanNation (1807-8),12

that its

central metaphor fornationalidentificationis the scopicregime where the

"naturalist"chosenlove of the nationturns

tion. In a very different context, Balibarhas recently remarkedin his

splendid book entitled Masses, Classes, Ideas (Routledge,1994) that the

very naming

is the product of an "internalscission":a figure

of ambivalence, that plays

add- of the impossible coinci-

of the Germansandthe German State, in the workof Fichte,

anxiously

intoa

split

identifica-

on the impossibility- and anxiety, we may

dence of Germannationand GermanState.

In the midst of

Fichte's metaphysics

of the "directnessof national

per-

ception" it is the patriarchalimage

modality of citizenship. Butthe discursive "sign" of

a form of identificationthatis indirectand elisional-what we

"phallic"peripherality.

who appears "more directly

of nationalself-identification.Thenational subject is

of the father's absent-presence in the

mother'simmanent

of the Fatherwho provides the "natural"

the fatherenables only

call a

may Forit is the absent Father, ratherthanthe mother

principle

foundedon the trace

as benefactor," that constitutesthe

present

of the mirror, whereas the

"over"-presentness is supplemental, marked by the

overbearing shadow of the father, but more clearly held in the line of light

andvision.The orientationto national

between the reflective frame, and the tain, of the mirror.

of the nationalmirror,then, cannotbut be liminalrather

than, as Fichtewould claim, supersensual. The citizen-subject held in the

game of

fatherlandsand mother tongues, turns amor patriae into a much more

Explicitlyso, when we realize through SamuelWeber's splen-

is a

in the very thresholdof identity, in-betweenits

and

non-identity,

also a

distinguishes fearfrom anxiety,

of the "naturalness"of

in the psychoanalyticsense, is a certainocclusion

identificationwhen we realizethatwhat

has a specific relevanceto national

subjectivity is caught, we may say,

The visibility

temporality of the national present,

anxiouslove.

did

constituted in the fort/da

of

reading of the psychoanalyticgenealogy

anxiety, that anxiety

"sign" of a dangerimplicit

claims to coherence and its fears of dissolution, "between identity

internaland external" (154).13 Thisanxious boundary thatis

displacement - the peripheral -

referent: anxietyemerges in response to the perceived"danger of a loss

the

of perception(a Wahrnehmungsverlust) attachedto

images,

produces, as with my reading

gence

of the cathexesthat stabilizethe nation's"I."

in different ways by

and

may anxietyof theantecedent-then SamuelWeberhas also pointed outthatthe

the space between

Whatentersthis

psychic experience of anxiety is like being "caught in

and all who enter shall look backwards-in what we

familiar

(andfamilial)

situationsand

of

representations"(155). The indeterminacy of anxiety

of the Fichtean mirror, "atraumaticdiver-

representation and signification"(155), a splitting at the very core

suggested,

Anderson,Gellner,Nairn,

gate of modernity now call an

If it has been

Todorov, that nationnessis the Janus-faced strait

two frames:a doubled frame, or one that is

doubleframeof the nation's anxiety is notthe naturalized, harmonizedun-

split"(167).

chosen of the amor patriae -which

but its double: those who are the

pheralizednon-people of the nation's democracy.

unassimilable phenomena

sign of the complex,

and paraphernalia of racial markingemerges

nation's anteriority - its dynasticpredemo-

cratic verticality - andthatraisesthe nationalidea to the level of historic-

ity, does not merely returnas the repressed, but turns demonically from

Aufhebung into an archaic,articulatorytemporality

the Aufhebung thatsublatesthe

is also the love of the nation-people-

"unchosen," the marginalized or peri-

with its banalevil. It is as if

Timeandtime

again,

the

of the nation'senun-

enactment.Timeandtime again,

ciationand performativity, its everyday

the nation's pedagogical claim to a naturalistic beginning with the un-

chosen things of territory, gender and parentage - amor patriae - turn into

metonymicdisplacement thatmark

the fetishes of nationaldiscriminationand minoritization-the racialized

body, the homophobicdefense, the single mother:the "chosen"fixated

objects of

ness," the fragile,

the

those anxious, ferociousmomentsof

a projectiveparanoia that reveal, through

indeterminateboundariesof the

their alien "outside-

national imaginary of

"People-As-One."

In orderto

grasp

such peripherality and ambivalencein the idea of the

Walter Benjamin'sAngelusNovus,

his

in recent discoursesof the

nation, TomNairnresortsto

angel

of

nation to mark the

Andersonend their books with the

on the cover of StuartHall'svolume on Thatcherism, TheRoad to

lage

Renewal, shows Mrs. Thatcheras the

numbersof the Britishradicalleft of the late '70sand '80s, into her catas-

history sucking up large

trophic vision of Progress. Letme remind you, once more, of the sphinx-

like

figure,half-bird,half-man,half-historian,half-messiah, WalterBen-

History-an allegoricalfigure that emerges

complex temporality

of

angel

of

its modernity. Nairn and

figure of the AngelusNovus; the col-

jamin'sAngelus

Novus:

His face is turnedtowardsthe

sees one

hurlsit in frontof his feet.The

angel makewhole whathasbeen smashed.Buta stormis

has got caught in his wings with such violence thatthe angel can no longer

close them. The storm

backis turned, while the

is what we call progress.14

of debrisbeforehim growsskyward. Thestorm

past. Wherewe perceive a chainof events, he

singlecatastrophe which keepspilingwreckageuponwreckage and

wouldliketo stay, awakenthe dead, and

blowing from Paradise; it

irresistiblypropels

pile

him into the futureto which his

And this is Tom Nairn rereading the coming of the angel:

Letus returnto the realhistoricalsourcesof

the home of the wind that

erratically. This means the history

now thata distinctively non-occidento-centricversionof the

ing possible, a version that will be something like the world's picture in

and industrialrevolutionsof

which the

of history] so farand so

only

is becom-

Benjamin'ssinglecatastrophe,

has propelled[theangel

of Western-founded progress. It is

story

Enlightenment, and the bourgeois

original west wind

the West figure as episodes, however important

vision comesfromthe

reactionsit has produced in the east and the south.'5

Theterrorof [theangel's]

of progress aswellasthemultiform

The angel hovers over the discourse of the nation's anxiety at the very

point when the specter of race and cultural difference emerges in a radical

disjunction-what

claims to a modern homogeneous temporality, and its democratic promise of social horizontality. To contemplate the agency of the Benjaminian

"temporal montage"16 as it defines the geopolitics of the historical pres-

no easy task. Surpris-

ingly, such an occasion was recently provided by Michael Kinsley in an essay in Time magazine, entitled: "Is Democracy Losing Its Romance?"

After

cludes, "democracy, far from suppressing nationalist hatred, has given ferocious vent to it,"Kinsley turns a homeward glance. In the US today, he suggests, there is a populism with an anti-democratic flavor which hungers for "a strong leader on a white horse. Thus Ross Perot, America's

would-be

Remains of the Day reminds us, there was a time, not long ago, the 1930s, when openly expressed doubts about the wisdom of democracy were posi- tively fashionable, even in established democratic societies. These days everybody at least pays lip-service to the democratic ideal. Will that

change?"17

Is it possible to read Kazuo Ishiguro's TheRemains of the Day, centered in the very British bathos of the butler Stevens, a "gentleman'sgentleman," as a parable of the anxiety and ambivalence involved in the service of the inter-war English nation? The temporal montage of the novel is a three- leveled palimpsest: the authoritarian populism of the Thatcherite late

"As the current movie The

I earlier described as the "unchosen"-to

question its

ent-the destiny and discourse of democracy-is

a tour d'horizonof the postcommunist world during which he con-

Fujimori." And,

he

continues,

1980s (its moment of enunciation), re-staging the Suez-centered

mid 1950s

with its post-imperial "confusions" (the historical "present" of the narra-

tive), which, in turn, frames the countryhouse,

patrician fascism of the

fellow-travelers of late '20s and '30s (the novel's ficelle). Ishiguro's narrative

retroactivity articulates these temporalities, the "present" of each moment partialized and denaturalized by the process of the others. Ishiguro's narrator establishes a performative identification with an aristocratic Tory traditionalism, enacted in the customary belief in the

"service"has a double cultural

genealogy. It represents an implication in the class-structure where ser- vice normalizes class difference by extravagantly "acting it out" as an affiliative practice, perfectly seen in the metonymic mimicry of the idio- matic naming of the butler as gentleman'sgentleman: "Abutler's duty is to provide good service," Stevens meditates, "by concentrating on what is

within our realm

gentlemen in whose hands the destiny of civilization truly lies."18 The brilliance of Ishiguro's exposition of the ideology of service lies in his linking the national and the international, the indigenous and the colo- nial, by focusing on the anti-semitism of the inter-war period, and thus mediating race and cultural difference through a form of difference-Jew- ishness - that confuses the boundaries of class and race and represents the "insider'soutsidedness. "Jewishness stands for a form of historical and racial in-betweennessthat again resonates with the Benjaminian view of history as a "view from the outside, on the basis of a specific recognition from

within."19

by providing the best possible service to those great

"dignity of service." In the English context,

If "domestic service" figured through the butler is that "unchosen" moment that naturalizes class difference by ritualizing it, then the narra- tive's attention to Jewishness and anti-semitism raises the issue of gender

and race and, in my view, places these questions in a colonial frame. It is

that the nar-

rative deviates to recall the dismissal of two Jewish maids at the insistence

of the fascist Lord Darlington. The gleam of the silver becomes that Ficht- ean national mirror where the master's paternal authority is both affirmed and, in this case, tarnished by the housekeeper Miss Kenton's pressing of the charge of anti-semitism against both Darlington and Stevens. This is

the

semitism and the inter-war "English" Nazi connection turns the naturalism and nationalism of the silver service into the "anxiety" of the past-what Lacan has described as the temporal antecedence of the anxious moment. The preservation of social precedence, embodied in the butler's service, is undone in the temporal antecedence that the presence of the Jew anxiously

ambivalent moment in the narrative, when the "memory" of anti-

while polishing the "silver"-the

mark of the good servant-

unleashes in the narrative of the national present. The English silver - the

mark of the gentleman-

becomes engraved with the image of Judas Iscar-

14

UnpackingMyLibraryAgain

iot-the

semitic historic past initiates, as anxiety is

discriminationand dominationthat produces a narrativewhere Jew and

want to do, a double frameof

sign of racial alterity and social inadmissibility. But the anti-

colonized native, anti-semitismand anti-colonial racism, are intimately linked in a textual and temporal montage.

Ishiguro's Lord Darlington,argued for

bound

up with the preservation of the British Empire. In MyLife, Oswald Mos-

ley,

ing with Hitler in April

BritishUnionof Fascists,remembershis firstmeet-

the Nazi cause on the grounds that Hitler'ssuccess

For the British fascists, such as

the founderof the

was intimately

Munich-during which he

in his

struggleagainst Russiaand communism; "in return, he would have been

ready to

recalls that Hitlerwanted no more from Britainthan its

1935-a luncheon in

neutrality

offer

all possible guarantees for the support of the British

Empire."20

E. W. D. Tennant, who was

undoubtedlyamongst

to say

the

most prominent

afterglow

of

of Lord Darlington'sguests, and had certainly

Stevens's glintingsilver,

HitlerandHis

the walnut veneered tables at Darlington Hall:

baskedin the

hadthis

in 1933, in an articleentitled"Herr

Polity,"published in The EnglishReview, that surely adorned

The evidence thatI saw supports the ideathat the

andthe consequentseizing of the KarlLiebknechthousewas anactof provi-

dence. The KarlLiebknechthouse was set

Communist

Therewere thousandsof

for distribution among the nativesof Indiaand SouthAfrica.Much informa-

tion of the

andthe Anti-Imperialleague is available.21

burning of the Reichstag

works where

up as a printing

propaganda was prepared

for distributionall over the world.

pamphlets in manylanguagesincluding thousands

highest interesttotheBritish Empire and particularly in regard toIndia

Thelinkbetween Britishanti-semitismandthe colonialistracismof this

the canonicalhistoriansof the

imperialdreams, one in the West,

both, Jews andcolonialsub-

period has been largely left unexploredby

period.

the otherin

shared

It goes furtherthantwo related

the East.The victimage

by

jects respectively, was the

denial of theirfundamental rights to be recog-

as "peoples," however contradictory and complex that designation

intellectuals and anti-colonial

nized

might be. To the extent that both

freedom fighters were

they became the agents of a profoundpatriciananxiety. For these mar-

ginalized and discriminated peoples, with theirdifferenthistoriesof dias-

pora

domination, were attempting to constructformsof community

and identity that were implacably opposed to returning to what an

political"right" defined

mankind

influentialsection of the "English" intellectualand

as the urgentnecessity for"a biologicalangle of vision

Jewish

linked through the much vaunted Bolshevik

plot,

and

in

viewing

[which] would combat and eliminate degeneracy."22

This last phrase comes from Anthony Ludovici, one of the leading pub- lic intellectuals of the inter-war decade who would certainly have been one of Lord Darlington's country-house habitues. He had just returned from the Nuremberg games, to which he was invited as a guest of honor. With Hitler's speech ringing in his ears, Ludovici proclaimed the benefits of a polity of "silence," over the ceaseless chatter of democracies where "the impudence of degenerate nonentities is pampered and defended":

"TheFuehrer repeatedly assures Germany of the benefits of her silence, if only as a therapeutic measure, and points to the advantage which, as a silent nation, she enjoys over all the vociferous and chattering nations of western democracy" (52). Laid over this silence, please remember the voice-over of Elisabeth Fairholme's chants and anthems. But let us not for- get, that in that very England, there were other anti-fascist voices, too:

In Bucksthereis a

Wheredwells LordAstorand his

And Chamberlainand Halifax To manufactureFascist

Farethee well the League of Nations

Hailto "peacefulpenetrations"

And

Adieu

We have no furtheruse for

We'll pin ourfaithto fascismand war Whatis the NationalGovernmentfor- Governmentfor?

countryhouse, country house

spouse

pacts, fascist pacts.

goodbye

to Internationallaw- law- law

Democracy,adieu,adieu, adieu

you, use for you

The words of this marching song return us to that place where we started, in the sundering of "concentric cosmopolitanism," and the attempt to understand the behemoth that haunts the banality of the dialogues we have with "ourfellow city dwellers." In that past-present that is our time, the conversation is once again, as once before, of the disuniting of peoples and the degeneration of Civilization "as we know it." The Disuniting of America, The Culture of Complaint- I have almost unpacked my old books, and am acquiring some new ones. But at this conference, devoted to the question of identity, let me con- clude with an old friend who caught my eye, after many years, as he emerged unexpectedly from the chaos of my book crates. For no one understands both the degradation and the defiance of the minority condi- tion better than my friend, the photographer Mr. Styles who works from a cockroach-ridden studio in the New Brighton township of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. There is something quite campy about his name- Styles- something apposite to the trendy theoretical themes of mimicry and camouflage and performativity, only he must use these devices of identifi- cation in the milieu of the work-camp and South African apartheid labor- laws. In Athol Fugard's Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, Styles recycles work permits

16

UnpackingMyLibraryAgain

and provides false identities. By replacing the identity photograph on a pass, an illegal township worker is fitted out with a new city identity. But, as one of his clients protests, that means living life as a ghost. Mr. Styles shoots back: "When the white man looked at you at the Labour Bureau what did he see? A man with dignity or a bloody passbook with an N.I.

number? Isn't that a ghost?

All I'm saying is to be a real ghost, if that is

what

they

want

Spook them into hell, man!23

The minoritizationof a people, no less than its "nationalization," exceeds the language of numbers and the majoritarian claim to a "common good." It must be seen for what it is: the "other side," the alterity, the fantasy of the national "people-as-one" that disturbs the parochial dream of ascendant authority. Let's spook them to hell!!

University of Chicago

Notes

Library" in Illuminations (New York:Har-

court, Brace& World,Inc., 1955)61,

2. Adrienne Rich, "EasternWartime"inAnAtlas of the Difficult World:Poems1988-91

(New York:W. W. Norton, 1991) 36.

3. Martha Nussbaum,

(October/November1994): 3-6.

4. SeeHerbertGintis's response to MarthaNussbauminBostonReview19.5 (Octo-

ber/November 1994): 28.

5. See p. 13 in the same issue of BostonReview.

6. Rich, 44.

7. See p. 29 in the same issue of BostonReview.

8. T. Nairn, The Break-Upof Britain:CrisisandNeo-Nationalism (London:Verso,

1. Walter

Benjamin,"UnpackingMy

67.

"Patriotismand Cosmopolitanism," BostonReview 19.5

1981) 296.

9.

56

10. Elisabeth Fairholme, "TheWomenof New

July 1937):788-92; my within the text.

11. For the citationsin this

given

E. W. D. Tennant,

(April1933): 362-63.

"HerrHitlerandHis Polity; March1933"The English Review

Germany," The English Review64

referencefor this work will be

emphasis. Another page

paragraph see B. Anderson,Imagined Communities:

1983) 131-32.