Think in Style!

Jameson is definitely the greatest stylist in “Theory”,  not only amongst its English language writers but, arguably perhaps, also its revered French and German representatives–anybody familiar enough with theory to take its style seriously is also patently aware that without the possibility of an objective judgment from the very outset, the willingness to even attempt to do so is much more of an exercise in acclaiming one’s own taste and ‘ideology’ (the content and its epistemological underpinnings) than an  academic adjudication.

So if you were going to pointlessly give it a go anyway, you could at least say that Jameson is the most explicit stylist–if you have read Marxism and Form, that is–bringing the production process, the construction of sentences, to the fore; laying their components bare and exposing their inner workings in the making of sense, the very possibility of thought. This goes further than the late modernist or post modern novels that have been labelled “meta-fiction, you know, where the “author” purposely injects their presence into the narrative by something like deliberating on how to write the narrative they are “writing”.

Jameson takes this further though by doubling it in true dialectical fashion. He demystifies, analyses and interprets the production of sentences and meaning, the very workings of thought, in great thinkers and stylists: Sartre, Adorno, etc. At the same time, as the sentences in the works are illuminated, Jameson is constantly coming to terms with not only what to say but how to say it: how can he construct his own sentences about the thought that is displayed in the construction of sentences in Adorno and others?

What this demands of the reader is to perform a meta-contemplation: first to take account of the original sentences in the works of Adorno and then the meaning that is produced by the choices made in their construction that Jameson elucidates. Jameson then faces the choices for his own sentences, the necessity of style in producing thought. This then all culminates in a difficult task for the reader as they are asked to perform the demands of truly dialectical thought that encompasses all this at once and applies Jameson’s theory on form and style in other writers to Jameson’s own form and style which expresses the theory itself.

Then comes along a Jameson scholar, Steven Helmling, and another layer is added. It goes meta, again. Although, in this case, it is more of a postmodern pastiche. Helming in a Jamesonian style on Jameson in his dialectical style on Adorno’s style and sentences.

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The Success and Failure of Fredric Jameson: Writing, the Sublime, and the Dialectic of Critique


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