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Ideology, Fiction, Narrative

Ideology, Fiction, Narrative

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Published by Windu W. Jusuf
Ideology, Fiction, Narrative
Ideology, Fiction, Narrative

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Ideology, Fiction, NarrativeAuthor(s): Terry EagletonSource:
Social Text,
No. 2 (Summer, 1979), pp. 62-80Published by: Duke University PressStable URL:
Accessed: 25/12/2009 13:50
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Ideology,Fiction, Narrative
TERRYEAGLETON
Inideologymendoindeedexpress,notthe relationbetweenthem andtheirconditions ofexistence,buttheway theylive therelationbetweenthemandtheirconditions ofexistence:thispresupposes
both arealrelation and an"imaginary,""lived"
relation.Ideology,then,is theexpressionof therelationbetweenmenandtheir'"world,"thatis,the(overdetermined)unityoftherealrelationandtheimaginaryrelationbetweenthem andtheirrealconditionsofexistence.Inideologytherealrelationisinevitablyinvestedintheimaginaryrelation,arelationthatexpressesawill(conserva-tive,conformist,reformist orrevolutionary),ahopeor anostalgia,ratherthandescribingareality.LouisAlthusser,For MarxIbeginwiththiscelebratedquotationfromAlthusser,notbecause Ibelieve thathisgeneraltheoryoftheideologicalis intheleastadequate,'butbecauseitmarksforme anemphatic,irreversibleshiftinMarxistthinkingon thematter-ashiftthatmaytrulybedescribed as"epochal."The casewhichAlthusser isconcernedtosubvertmaybesketchedasfollows.Thereis,intheideological,aconfrontationbetween"subject"and"object";andfromthisconfrontation,eitherbecauseofaninherentcunningorduplicityintheobjectitself(whichisnotwhatitseemstobe),orbecauseoftheinterference ofcertaindistortingelements("class-interests,"perhaps)withthecognitiveapparatusofthespeculativesubject,aphenomenonknownas "falseconsciousness" isgenerated.Ideologyis adeformedrepresentationoftheobject-a"screen"or"filter"which we cannonethelesspeerbehindtoobtainaglimpseoftheobjectasitreallyis.Insofar asanysuchtheoryofideologymust,forAlthusser,restuponanirredeemablyempiricistepistemology,itcan donomore thanproduceanideologicalversion oftheideological.TERRYAGLETON,ecturernEnglishtOxfordUniversity,aswrittenextensivelyonEnglishiteraturend
literary theory.Hismostrecentbooks areCriticismandIdeologyandMarxismandLiterwyCriticism. Hispoliticalmusical,Brecht&Co.,wasscheduled forproductioninLondon thissummer.'Perhapsit isaswelltosketchout inschematicformwhat Iregardasthemajordefects of Althusser'stheoryofideology,asexemplifiedin therenownedessayon"IdeologicalStateApparatuses"nLeninandPhilosophy.
Althusser'sheorynthisessays(a)functionalist:tpresumesn"intention"n thepartofthesocial ormationo62
 
Ideology,Fiction,NarrativeIfthisis thecase,then weneed tolookscepticallyatMarx's ownembryonictheoryoftheideologicalinCapitalandelsewhere.For itcertainlyseemsasthoughMarx believesthatthecapitalistsocialformationjustdoesspontaneouslypresentitself toknowledgeinmystifyingforms-thattheverymechanismsbywhich itgeneratesitsphenomenaare alsothe rrtchanismsbywhichitbreeds illusion.Thereisan essencenamed"abstractlabor"which bothcrystallizesandconcealsitselfin thephenomenaofcommodities;there is arealprocessofexploitationwhich cannothelpbut belie itselfin theapparentlyequitableexchangeof thewage-contract.Ifthis werereallyso,thenone wonderswhyideologicalpracticesandapparatusesarenecessaryat all.As"reinforcement,"perhaps;but it wouldseemon the whole that thecapitalistsocialformation,asfarasitsideological self-reproduc-tiongoes,is onthisaccount well abletolookafteritself,without thenecessityofaspecificideological "region."What theaccountrepressesispreciselytheprocessofideologicallabor-thatprocessofsignifying practicewhereby,within determinateprotocols,certainspecificideological"objects"areactuallyconstituted.Fornothing,as weknow,issimply"given"toknowledge;and when Marxcommentsin afamoussentence that there wouldbeno need forscienceifphenomenacoincidedwith theiressences,itcanonlybebecausehe(ofallpeople!)hasmomentarilyforgottenthatscienceisapractice.Ideology,then,isnotto bereduced tomiscognition,butis to be seenassignifyinga setofpracticalrelationswiththe"real."Thatsuchrelationsmaywell involvemiscognitionisthenthe nexturgentpointto make.IfIeataspirinunderthe illusion thattheyarecandywiththecoloringsuckedoff,thenIcancertainlybesaid to bemiscognizingthereal.ButifIpersistently engageinthispractice,thenitmayatleast occurto an observerthatmymiscognitionsarenot thecauseofmybehavior,butanecessary supportof it.Mymiscogni-tions areanelement orsupportof that "lived"relation to the real whichwemight,perhaps,term"psychotic."2Theparanoiacwho believes that the television set iswatchinghimcannotbecuredbya re-attunementof hiscognitive apparatus:hismiscognitionsareessential elementsor effects of awayof"living"his"world."Thelogicalpointat stake hereis thatpropositionsmaybe true orfalse,butpracticescannot be.Icannot bemistakenabout thewayI "live"myrelation to the real. Imay,ofcourse,misreportit toanother,butIcannotgetitwrong.Even ifmy"lived"relationto therealisof thekindwhich usedto bedescribedwithinanotherrubricas"badfaith,"itremainsthe casethatthis ismy"lived" relation to thereal,and no mistake. This is not toclaim,on theotherhand,that humansubjectsdonotconstantlyenunciate falsepropositionsabout theirconditionsofexistence.Itis rathertoclaim that suchfalsepropositionsdonotconstitutewhatisspecificabouttheideological,andthisina dualsense.First,becausefalseproposi-tions arebyno meansnecessarily ideological,justasideological propositionsarebynomeansnecessarilyfalse.Butsecondly,andmorecrucially,becauseitisonlyinaloosesense
reproduceitsell,whichvoids theplaceofeffectivityoftheclassstruggle;(b)economisticandtechnicist:ideologyexiststohelpreproducethe modeofproduction,itsellfeducedto thefunctions ofeconomicagentswithinthesocialdivisionoflabor;(c)structuralist:thesocialdivision of labor isastructure of locations towhichspecificformsofsubjectivityareautomaticallyassigned;onehasthe form ofsubjectivityappropriateto one'splacewithinthestructure;(d)empiricist:itpresupposesapre-givensubject,alreadyinexplicablyequippedwithcertain"universal"attributesof consciousness,who will thenbe"hailed"bythestructure,ratherthanasubjectcontradictorilyconstructedinspecificdiscursiveandnon-discursivepractices;(e)idealist:all economicagentsareseenas individualhumansubjects,andsocial relationsconsequentlyreducedtointersubjectiveones. Theseerrorsapart,thetheoryisreally quiteasuggestivestarting-point.Themost usefulcritiqueofAlthusser'stheoryofideologyIknowisinCutler,Hindess,Hirst,andHussain,Marx's"Captal"andCapitalismToday(London,19-r7),voL 1.-Idonototcourseintend toimplyanygeneral analog!between theideologicalandthepathological.
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