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Keywords:

  • constellation;
  • force-field;
  • totality;
  • alterity;
  • visuality;
  • authenticity;
  • historical critique;
  • historical experience;
  • historical consciousness

ABSTRACT

This review of Martin Jay's recent published collection of essays examines his ongoing rethinking, supplementation, and revision of central themes—the negative and positive dialectics of historical totalization, the varieties and uses of conceptions of experience, the nature of visual cultures and scopic regimes, and the ambiguities of truth-construction in the public realm—that have been the focus of his major works since the 1970s. It argues that his more recent work indicates a gradual shift toward an affirmation of the kinds of paratactic and deconstructive thinking of Adorno and Derrida as models for producing appropriate forms of historical consciousness and historical critique in the present, and it raises the question of how the issues of historical truth-telling, consensual collective identity, ethical action, and the cultural role of the critical intellectual are reformulated in this process.