Repressive desublimation and the great refusal in Bret Easton Ellis's fiction

Colby, G. 2012. Repressive desublimation and the great refusal in Bret Easton Ellis's fiction. Textual Practice. 26 (2), pp. 319-345.

TitleRepressive desublimation and the great refusal in Bret Easton Ellis's fiction
AuthorsColby, G.
Abstract

In 1968, Herbert Marcuse believed that a Great Refusal was possible, one that would deny the exploitative power of corporate capitalism. Marcuse's vision was never realised. This essay argues that society today is in an advanced state of that which the Frankfurt School termed repressive desublimation and questions whether a liberationary praxis is still possible. It claims that Bret Easton Ellis's fiction choreographs an internalising of the forms of critique that marked 1968 and about which Marcuse writes. It is Ellis's act of double voicing that allows him to develop a duplicitous recalcitrant voice within the state of assimilation and it is double voicing which emerges as the key technique in Ellis's work that effects an ongoing critique in commodity society. Looking at Slavoj iek's recent revisionism of the notion of repressive desublimation, which connects Marxism and psychoanalysis, the essay considers how Ellis's novels, American Psycho, Glamorama and Lunar Park, function to address and reconfigure the relationship between the status of the Marxist fetishised object and the psychoanalytic phobic object in the present-day era of late capitalism. This essay seeks to illuminate how Ellis's fiction, through an involution of Marcuse's political theories, enacts a contemporary refusal from within the state of reification.

JournalTextual Practice
Journal citation26 (2), pp. 319-345
ISSN0950-236X
Year2012
PublisherRoutledge
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/0950236X.2011.602550
Publication dates
Published2012

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