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Doom Patrols: A Theoretical Fiction about Postmodernism (Serpent's Tail High Risk Books) Paperback – January 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Doom Patrols, Shaviro (The Cinematic Body) is out to prove that he is not just a nerdy literature-and-film professor at the University of Washington, he is also a member of the hip-oisie who (gasp!) goes to rock concerts, reads comics and uses the word fuck. Through 17 loosely defined personal essays on subjects ranging from Bill Gates to Truddi Chase (of 92-personalities fame), Shaviro expounds on postmodernism. He applies the idea that essence is obsolete to examples from American culture (many already overanalyzed) including Kathy Acker and Cindy Sherman. Shaver's style is at times self-consciously smart ("This ability to deceive ourselves and to be sincere... is the defining characteristic of what it means to be American, or to be human") at other times embarrassingly confessional ("I needed your wound, but since that night you've withheld it from me"), always deliberately quotable ("war is menstruation envy"). Oddly, race has virtually no significance in his version of the postmodern universe. While Shaviro draws some interesting connections between the theory of natural selection and postmodernism, his book is still a party gathering the same tired, talked-out guests: Warhol, Burroughs, Baudrillard, Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Foucault. One gets the sense that Shaviro is trying way too hard to impress a readership of the converted?people who are easily wowed by ponderous statements such as: "When you open your mouth?or your ass, or your cunt?there's no way of knowing what 'foreign particles' will enter." That may be true, but some of us have a pretty good idea.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ranging everywhere, going nowhere, this is a posturing collection of essays on postmodernism. Like those strange, fearsome fish that live in the ocean's deepest depths, Shaviro's prose and his ideas may thrive in their own confined milieu, but brought to the surface world where the rest of us live, they explode and die. Shaviro (Literature and Film/Univ. of Washington) tries to conceal the basic unoriginality of his thought behind a dense patter of quotation, citation, and jargon. And so we are treated to the recycled thoughts of such postmodern sages as Baudrillard and Deleuze, as well as the usual, trite reflections on rock 'n' roll (it induces disorientation, the quintessential postmodern experience) and Disney World (where excess blurs the boundary between reality and unreality and the postmodern world's fetish of the object is fully realized). Shaviro also spends an inordinate amount of time analyzing the comic book series Doom Patrol, whose main virtue, apparently, is its deliberate engagement with postmodern themes. But the subject matter is really unimportant. With tautological criticism like this, subjects exist only to confirm a theory. Hence, postmodern critics adore such fabulistic novelists as Pynchon but almost never acknowledge the existence of such doughty realists as Mailer or Bellow. Shaviro jettisons such concepts as theme and coherence, rambling wherever whims and his borrowings take him, perhaps trying to demonstrate tautologically the confusions of a postmodern universe. In short, these essays aren't really about anything at all. If, as seems possible, the death rattle of postmodernism has already begun to sound, Shaviro is happily oblivious to its imminent end. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Serpent's Tail High Risk Books
  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,027,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer on December 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although suffering from paragraphs that are simply too long and an invisible bibliography, Shaviro's work is a wonderful read, albeit dense. A reading of Grant Morrison's "Doom Patrol" is highly recommended as each of the chapters in Shaviro's work draws from Morrison's complex superhero saga; cursory knowledge of some of the other sources may help too, as they are numerous and vital to understanding how gross Shaviro's effort truly is. Worth reading, if only for the discussions on language (memes showing their ugly face again), identity, the information age and perversity. Conspicuously absent are Frank Zappa, Pee Wee Herman and Greg Egan. But then one needs material for a sequel.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
The main virtue of Steven Shaviro's book is that it exemplifies what it discusses. Rather than sit back and presume to parse the postmodern world from the standpoint of a sort of objective, third-person narrator (in the mold of a Mailer, Bellow, or Kirkus) who remains ultimately "disinterested" in his subject matter, Shaviro dives in and swims with the strange fish populating his _Patrols_. How could one write about postmodernism without referring to postmodernists? Shaviro does so with perfect synthesis, and discusses relevant issues with poetic prose that becomes its own complex, ambiguous, challenging artifact. Look no further than _Doom Patrols_ for incisive chapters on race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, money--and all the other topics the high modernists would have us forget in the name of Kultur.
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