We shall examine whether the perennial anxiety that accompanies imperial hegemony in the New World might be a compensatory gesture for the originary Ishmaelite fate of castoffs relentlessly clamoring for re-integration into the mainline genealogical history as the chosen people. In the insistent regularity with which those serviceable simplicities of self-identity reify, essentialize, and globalize cultural pluralities into manageable objects of expropriation, appropriation, capital, and hegemony, might there be some explanation for the current discursive/ideological New World Order as “One World,” with a shrill univocity steeped in absolutism and terror? Could this be a historic correlative of America’s perennial monadic syndrome? Could the current terror-inflected summons that stridently disallows any critique, deflection, difference, deviation, or divergence from the manic chase of other, equally aberrant jihadic monisms represent yet another episode in the anxious history of predictably recurrent exceptional events? Having imploded into the mirror reflection of its pursued object, U. S. American subject agency now appears to be living, yet again, as collective cultural self-reduction. In doing so, might it be enacting, once more, its regular oscillation between the primal errand of its Ishmaelite self-ostracism from the (Old) World, on the one hand, and the Ahab-like obsession of a furious quest as a rage for empire and a one-world new order, on the other?
Course description. Djelal Kadir
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Comparative Literature, Penn. State Univ.
…just about nails it.