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Among Jews and Berbers


June 26, 2008


Journey into Barbary is ostensibly a work of travel literature that recounts Lewis’s journey to Morocco and its surrounding territories in the spring and summer of 1931. Divided into the initially published materials of Filibusters in Barbary and the unpublished chapters later released as Kasbahs and Souks, the book draws provocative comparisons between the Berber tribes of Northern Africa and the Europeans of the early 1930s.

As a central feature of the book’s rhetorical operations involves the slippage between the words Berber, Barbary, and barbarism, it is appropriate to note that these are not words with which the indigenous people of North Africa identify themselves. The term Berber, which derives from the Greek barbaros, was used to describe the heterogeneous indigenous groups of North Africa by conquerors of Greco-Roman times (Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines) and its use continued during the period of Arab domination from the 7th-century onwards. Later French and British imperialists adopted the term, adapting it to describe the geographical area where these people live as Barbary (a word that circulates in the English language at least as early as Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice). By contrast, these people call themselves Amazigh (plural Imazighen) and reject the term Berber as an imposition.
While Lewis’s text predates the ascent of Amazigh national consciousness in the late 20th-century (particularly following the uprisings in the Kabilya region of Algeria in April 1980), his repeated play on the words Berber, Barbary, and barbarism reveals an important element of his attitude toward these people. Journey into Barbary avoids relegating these people to a primitive otherness, associating them rather with strong practices of barbarian rule that at once contrast the enervation of European modernity and suggest a path by which Europe might revive itself.
Lewis writes this text in the style of an ethnographic report, backing up his observations with references to academic works such as Henri Basset’s Essai sur la littérature des Berbères, {Basset, 1920 267 /id /h} Stéphane Gsell’s Histoire ancienne de l’Afrique du Nord, {Gsell, 1920 287 /id /h} and Robert Montagne’s Les Berbères et le Makhsen dans le Sud du Maroc. {Montagne, 1930 296 /id /h} He also draws on a tourist guidebook. As C.J. Fox has shown, Journey into Barbary contains much fictional material that does not match the actual circumstances of Lewis’s trip, not least his neglect to mention that his wife Froanna accompanied him on the journey.
Driven to Northern Africa by the scandal surrounding the publication of Hitler, he mentions this book twice in Filibusters in Barbary; once to rebuff the criticism leveled at his evocation of “the brothel atmosphere” (47) and earlier to note the ostracism he faced in London. At one point, Lewis characterizes himself as the “Luther of Ossington St.”, forced to flee “dying European society” by the “dust of moralist and immoralist England” (24). His language here is not entirely free of the Orientalist fantasies of escape and rejuvenation he criticizes so harshly in Paleface. But Journey into Barbary aims not to establish the incommensurable otherness of the Berber people but rather their similarity to the European.
Lewis discredits familiar stereotypes of Oriental exoticism and untrustworthiness by turning these accusations back on the Europeans themselves. “Is not the European capable of plots?” he asks, suggesting that his attribution of conspiratorial schemes to British “Chamberlains” (much like his support for Nazism) might “dislocate the pattern of personalities in ... [his] neighbourhood” (128). For Lewis, the Berbers (or at least some idealized vision of the Berber past) provide an example of what Europe might become under a strong system of centralized rule. Thus while he freely expresses disapproval for the political forms of parliamentary democracy, he frequently compares these marginalized indigenous people to his fellow Europeans, organizing his arguments about the claim “Capitalism and Barbary breed the same forms” (71).
Lewis develops this parallel at length in Kasbahs and Souks, where he is at pains to distinguish the Berbers from what he repeatedly calls the Semitic race. With this term he identifies the Arab invaders of North Africa, who he claims forcefully imposed Islam on the Berbers. But the expression also carries undoubted (in not veiled) reference to the Jews, toward whom Lewis’s work displays a thinly disguised hostility. Paleface is relatively quiet about anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, a central passage compares the myth of black inferiority with “another racial superstition, the most intense and inveterate that the world has ever known-namely that of the inferiority of the Jew” (18).
In drawing this parallel between black race prejudice and European anti-Semitism, Lewis again anticipates Fanon, who in “Black Skin, White Masks” calls upon Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew {Sartre, 1965 301 /id /h} to develop his critique of colonial racism. But unlike these thinkers, Lewis’s repudiation of anti-Semitic racial superstition is ambiguous and vexed. To be sure, Hitler dismisses the phenomenon of anti-Semitism as incidental to Nazism, a German national characteristic that need not accompany fascist modes of social, cultural, or political organization. And in unfortunately titled The Jews, Are They Human?, Lewis distances himself from all accusations of anti-Semitism, claiming that despite his enthusiasm for Hitler he never endorsed such race prejudice.
Some critics accept these arguments at face value. For instance, Reed Way Dasenbrock affirms, “Lewis was not at all anti-Semitic at any point” (“Wyndham Lewis’s Fascist Imagination” 94). {Dasenbrock, 1992 273 /id /h} In Wyndham Lewis and Western Man, {Ayers, 1992 258 /id /h} David Ayers takes task with this position, arguing that Lewis’s work displays a consistent if understated anti-Semitism. Drawing on Nathan Ackerman and Marie Jahoda’s Anti-Semitism and Emotional Disorder, {Ackerman, 1950 274 /id /h} Ayers concentrates on Lewis’s depiction of fictional characters such as Jan Pochinsky in the 1928 Tarr {Lewis, 1982 251 /id /h} and Julius Ratner in The Apes of God (1930) {Lewis, 1981 290 /id /h}. He contends that Lewis’s writing functions according to a dynamic by which an “unstable and incoherent self projects anxieties about its own deficiencies on to the Jew, in a maneuver that gives the self a semblance of stability” (30).
While successful in uncovering the anti-Semitic undercurrents of Lewis’s work, this approach has the drawback of containing these hostile energies within an Arnoldian division between Hellenic and Hebraic cultures. Ayers has no way of accounting for Lewis’s myriad hostilities and prejudices (against people of color, women, and homosexuals) except by subordinating them to this central distinction. By exploring the way in which such anti-Semitism is inseparable from colonial race prejudice in Journey into Barbary, I seek to question this analysis without discounting the importance of Lewis’s (often latent) anti-Semitism for his fascist advocacies. This means understanding anti-Semitism in a wider frame, calling upon Edward Said’s Orientalism {Said, 1979 300 /id /h} to note how anti-Arab (or more accurately anti-Islamic) prejudice is intimately related to that against Jews. In short, I suggest that Lewis’s celebratory identification of the Berbers as Occidentals pitted against Semitic forces confirms and strengthens the implicit anti-Semitism of his fellow-traveling Nazism.
Kasbahs and Souks presents a series of parallels between the Berbers and the Europeans, and in particular between the Berbers and the Celts, a comparison Lewis draws from Budgett Meakin’s 1902 book The Moors. {Meakin, 1902 295 /id /h} This contrast is relevant in terms of Lewis’s earlier assessment of Irish nationalism in The Lion and the Fox, a work that attacks the Celtic literary revival and the corresponding struggle for Irish political independence on the basis that such intensive nationalist claims institute unnecessary divisions between people who are racially alike.
In a chapter entitled “The Berber as ‘European’ ”, Lewis translates these claims into the Northern African context, arguing not for the invalidity of Berber nationalism, which in any case he understands as an unrealistic proposition in the current geopolitical climate, but for the racial affinity of the Berbers and the Europeans. “The Berber, ” he declares, “inclines far more, in the matter of the more intimate springs of conduct, to the Occidental than the Oriental” (211). Once this is established, he goes on to invert the argument, casting not the Berber as European but the European as barbarian: “We are, of course, nous autres Européens, complete barbarians, and those of us who affect to believe they are not so, are the most barbarous of all” (213).
At stake in this inversion, which takes the rhetorical structure of the chiasmus, is a quasi-Nietzschean claim for barbarism as the reinvigorating force of an enervated Western civilization, an argument that finds confirmation earlier in the text where Lewis notes the similarity between the dispossession of Western workers under the collapse of finance capitalism and the effects of imperialism upon Berber culture.
In Filibusters in Barbary, Lewis draws a specific comparison between the mobility of capitalist workers, particularly US workers during the Great Depression, and the nomadism of traditional Berber society. To be more accurate, he identifies the Berbers as transhumants or “semi-nomads” (70) who alternate between pastoral tent dwelling and highland village life. But for the purposes of the comparison with Western capitalist societies, he emphasizes the nomadic aspects of Berber culture. “[O]ur civilization,” he writes, “with the impetus given it by machines, is turning from the settled to the restless ideal” (75). This prompts a contrast between Bidonville, a makeshift town of petrol-tin dwellings on the outskirts of Casablanca, and a similar Hobo-city of unemployed workers outside Chicago.
More importantly, Lewis applies the language of nomadism to the French colonists in Morocco, claiming they are “as unfixed, restless and incalculable” (76) as the people over whom they rule. French Morocco, he writes, is a “protectorate built upon sand,” “transitory” and “the last thing of that sort our society will witness” (76). Here, Lewis prefigures the onset of decolonization by noting the increased mobility of culture on a global scale. His likening of the Berbers to Europeans licenses an equation of barbarism and capitalism that announces the demise of the European imperialism. In this, Lewis’s analysis of barbarism contrasts his discussion of primitivism in Paleface, which finds the modernist engagement with the primitive to further the Western domination of the nonwhite world.
These sections of Journey into Barbary emphasize the deterritorializing aspects of capitalism, its tendency to break down established national units and generate profit along increasingly global lines of flow. In particular, Lewis registers the way in which imperial expansion fractures the territorial integrity of the nation-state or what Benedict Anderson describes as “the inner incompatibility of empire and nation” (Imagined Communities 93). But Lewis’s identification of capitalism with barbarism also registers the effects of reterritorialization. This becomes clear when he explores the political complexities surrounding the Rio de Oro, the vast stretch of desert to the south of Morocco.
Lewis expends considerable energy discussing this area, characterizing it variously as “one of the most mysterious countries in the world” (160), “an almost complete terra incognita” (161) and a “kind of geographical blank” (166). He insists that it “is the only territory of dimension in the world where, definitely, it is quite impossible for the White Man to go” (164). At one point, he even relates a story, supposedly told to him by the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, of a French corporal who narrowly escaped being “boiled alive” in this stretch of desert (182). In short, Lewis saves for his description of the Rio de Oro all the most stereotypical clichés of native treachery and ruthlessness. At the same time, he explains that the zone’s inaccessibility is due not to the fierceness of the Berbers or“ the feebleness of European arms” but to the “competitive susceptibility of European nationalism” (164). The French, he claims, could quickly assert control over the Rio de Oro, but because Spain ostensibly owns the area, international complications would result. At stake are the tense international relations generated by the territorial divisions of European imperialism. These territorial claims, which coexist with the deterritorializing movements of capital, register the centrality of land to the imperial project.
Earlier in Journey into Barbary, when he describes the circumstances surrounding Marshal Lyautey’s resignation as Resident-General of the Protectorate of Morocco, Lewis examines in detail the land transactions in the colony. As commander of the French forces in Morocco, Lyautey sought to exercise control through an agreement with the “Great Lords of the Atlas,” Berber leaders “who refused to allow their subjects to sell land to the foreigner” (120). But in 1925, under pressure from European entrepreneurs who had no patience for this strategy of cooperation, Lyautey was forced to stand down. Lewis laments this event and pictures Lyautey as a forgotten hero of right wing romance. “Land, Land-Land is the cry” (121), he writes, describing the many crooked dealings (vanished title deeds and false documents) that surrounded the French commander’s demise. This declaration registers the seizure of land that accompanies the nomadism of imperial venturing. In so doing, it confirms the mutual implication of deterritorialization and reterritorialization in the workings of modern imperialism.
Lewis captures something of this split logic when he identifies the Berbers as transhumants. He follows E.F. Gautier by writing of “the dual soul of the Maghreb — the nomadic and the sedentary” (208). While this is not intended to describe the interplay of nomadism and territorialism in imperialism, it is relevant for his understanding of barbarism and its significance with regard to the contemporary state of European civilization. Lewis’s discussion of this dual soul provides him with an opportunity to reflect on the question of nationalism. The Berbers, he contends, have never had a nationality due to the Arab imposition of Islam.
So all the great things the Berbers have done, they have done in the name of the Arab God. And from that it was only a step to doing it as Arabs. And that must after all be the main reason why the Arab has got the kudos for anything done by the Berber; that seems patent enough. ... It is because of the dual soul of the Maghreb — the nomadic and the sedentary. That is why Maghreb was never one. The imported religion — and such a religion too, one of the most ferocious and fantastic engines of mass-bigotry that the world has to show, anywhere in its well-stocked Chamber of Horrors — that gave them one “dual soul.” And the fact that they have from earliest times been half nomads, half “sedentaries,” did not make things any better — that bestowed upon them a second “dual soul” as it were. ... Indeed (to show how the “double soul,” twice-over, worked) their great national upheavals have always been in the name of religion rather than of race. These spasms have been a sort of civil war, about the Arab Allah. They have always taken the form of a tribal ruée. Maghreb having been split up into these two parts — one that wandered outside the sedentary fold, and the other that sat down like a good boy inside it, and cultivated its garden-these “national awakenings” have invariably taken the painful and destructive form of the former flinging themselves upon the latter — on the ground that they were not religious enough. (208-209)
Lewis attributes the disunity of the Berbers to the fact that they are Occidentals under the influence of Semitic religion. Indeed he altogether sidelines the impact of European imperialism upon the Berbers to attribute their tribal conflicts to the earlier penetration of Islam, a religion for which he saves his most exquisite words of condemnation, “one of the most ferocious and fantastic engines of mass-bigotry that the world has to show.” In so doing, he implies that only a consciousness of race can give the Berbers a collective identity sufficient to overcome this internal dissension.
Remembering the parallel Lewis draws between the Berbers and his fellow Europeans, it is possible to read this as an indirect comment concerning the intensive conflicts of European nationalism. In Paleface, Lewis proposes that such internal friction between the European powers might be avoided by an extensive nationalism that aims to unify Europe as a bastion of white civilization. The anti-Semitism of Paleface is indirect, obscured by Lewis’s analysis of whiteness, decolonization, and modernist primitivism. Even so, the text advocates the exclusion from its proposed European union of “the asiatic elements in Southern Spain, Italy and Russia” (Paleface 279). David Ayers understands this as “a plain statement of antisemitism in the broad sense of the term: it is a sentiment that stems from a fear of the dissolution of identity” (Wyndham Lewis and Western Man 193).
Journey into Barbary displays a more conspicuous anti-Semitism, directed against the supposed Arab domination of the Berbers. While clearly at a remove from Nazi racial propaganda, Lewis’s identification of the Berbers as Europeans (a categorization that acquires added force due to the Islamic signification of the term Maghreb, meaning west) and the Arabs as Semites betrays an anxiety regarding the overrunning of Europe by Semitic peoples.
At stake here is not an explicit endorsement of Nazi racial politics, but a racial discourse that legitimates European fears of Jewish conspiracy. As Edward Said explains in Orientalism, “what has not been sufficiently stressed in histories of modern anti-Semitism has been the legitimation of such atavistic designations by Orientalism, and ... the way this academic and intellectual legitimation has persisted right through the modern age in discussions of Islam, the Arabs, or the Near Orient” (262). Like Paleface before it, Journey into Barbary indirectly validates an extensive nationalism based on principles of racial identification. This is a distinctive element of Nazi ideology, which also finds confirmation in Lewis’s support of the “Action Française” (117). In this sense, the book’s registration of the territorial logic of imperialism is inseparable from a celebration of the reterritorializing impulses of the fascist state.
Significantly, the passage in Kasbahs and Souks where Lewis distinguishes the Berbers from “the Semitic race” is also the passage where he claims that his artistic training grants him an indisputable ethnographic authority.
I shall be so bold as to place before you the results of my own unaided investigation with the naked eye — of far more value in such a case than the microscope — and I believe, where the evidence is so conflicting, of first-rate importance, supplementary to the gropings of the often almost eyeless historian: provided of course that the eye brought into action in this informal field-work is in the head of a trained observer. In my own case the organ of sight can be said to answer to that description I suppose: for the kind of art I have always practiced, the art of design, founded as it is — like the severe linear art of the Renaissance Masters or the Greeks — upon a constant, in the truest sense scientific, study of Nature, qualifies me far better than many professional ethnologists to pronounce myself in a matter of this nature ... It is perfectly clear that the Berber people — the Riffs, Hahas, or Chleuhs — do not belong to the Semitic race, like their Arab overlords. This much is established by mere eyesight at once (190-91).
Here Lewis contrasts his investigations with the naked eye with the gropings of the often almost eyeless historian. His assertion of the primacy of vision in ethnographic investigation entails a rejection of historical analysis oriented toward an understanding of modernity in a temporal frame. Journey into Barbary is full of passages that declare the power of vision above “historically-minded” analysis. For instance, when discussing the Koutoubia (a mosque tower in Marrakech), Lewis contrasts “what a thing signifies historically” with the evidence of sight, complaining that a positive appraisal of this monument would constitute “a triumph of history over the eyes in the head” (53). These claims for the primacy of vision confirm the arguments of Time and Western Man, which find historical investigations (particularly as manifest in Spengler) to partake in the Bergsonian abstraction of time.
Significantly, Deleuze and Guattari also find barbarism to prescribe the abstraction of historical thought. When arguing that the transcendent unity of the despotic state is an unrealizable ideal, they describe barbarism as “the cold monster that represents the way in which history is in the ‘head,’ in the ‘brain’ ” (Anti-Oedipus 220-21). Only in its subsequent forms, they contend, does barbarism assume a concrete existence, tending to concretization in the reterritorializations of civilization/capitalism. Similarly, Lewis’s interest in the territorial formations of modernity impacts upon his equation of barbarism and capitalism. He explains that “there is nothing abstract about” the “Berber nature,” which supposedly displays “an indigence of ideas, and a passionate attachment to persons” (121). For Lewis, the Berber is a “Barbarian — if it is to be a Barbarian to be ... attached to things of the physical world, repelled by the abstract”" (212). He also reports that the Berber “respects the law” (210) and is capable of “detachment and objectivity” (215). But while stressing the Berbers’ supposed disdain for the abstract, Lewis also highlights aspects of their culture that imply a respect for abstraction and transcendence. For instance, he commends their building of Kasbah (or fortresses), remarking that these castles display“ all the resources of a monumental aesthetic developed for some far more abstract and lofty purpose” (214).
Journey into Barbary describes these Kasbah as barbarous but also claims “their structural repertoire is suggestive of a civilization of the first order” (217). Lewis imagines such a civilization to be regulated by strong leadership and a written legal code. While he is aware that these are not qualities possessed by the Berber tribes of the time, they provide the model for his construction of an ideal Berber society of the past.
Lewis’s understanding of Barbary is fashioned by various aspects of the groups he encounters (or more often just reads about), gathered into an idealized projection of a prototypical barbarian society. He expresses great interest in the Ikounka tribe of the Anti-Atlas who, according to the French ethnologist Robert Montagne, possessed “a well-preserved, written legal code for the management of their communal fortresses” (137). He also celebrates the power of the “Blue Sultans” of the Rio de Oro, who led what he calls the “Berber Renaissance,” a successful revolt against Arab dominance that lasted from the sixteenth to the twentieth century (178-79).
Furthermore, he praises the “empire building” of the so-called Almoravides, seagoing Berber pirates of the fourteenth century, whose descendants supposedly form the Touareg tribe, “the purest Berbers of the desert” (201-02). Behind this enthusiasm for the Berber past lies Lewis’s identification of the Berbers with the Europeans and his projection of an idealized society, ruled by strong leaders and pitted against Semitic forces. But Lewis faces a difficulty with this parallel, since at the time of his visit the Berbers are subjugated by European imperialism, their powerful Lords laid low by foreign invasion. He attempts to overcome this problem by comparing the “brigandage” of the Almoravides with the “empire building” of “white colonization” (201-06). Lewis employs the spatial metaphors of deterritorialization (nomadism) and reterritorialization (land) to describe this empire building, but he finds the linear form of the travel narrative insufficient to describe the territorial politics of imperial conquest.
At one point in the narrative, when he declines to describe the topographical layout of the city of Agidir, Lewis declares, “language is not suited for ... abstract mapmaking” (122). Elsewhere in the book, there is further evidence that language introduces to intercultural relations a differentiating force that resists containment within spatial parameters. When Lewis attempts to justify his spelling of the word souk (meaning a market or bazaar), his discussion registers what Deleuze and Guattari describe as the imperial overcoding of one language by another. Noting that the Berber pronunciation has “a complicated guttural tail to it,” he explains “these sounds often have no equivalent in a European tongue” (54). In this moment, his understanding of barbarism verges on the initial Greek sense of the word, describing the sound of foreign languages. Lewis’s conventionalized French spelling (he rejects several English variants) submits the foreignness of language to a process of overcoding, resolving the original Arabic into merely phonetic elements (he remarks only on its sound).
Taking this instance of overcoding as a point of entry, I suggest that it introduces the disruptive movement of linguistic/cultural difference to the linear temporal form of Lewis’s travel narrative. Earlier in the text, when describing the Algerian city of Oran, Lewis asserts that his entire experience on the southern side of the Mediterranean partakes of a radical temporal displacement:
Oran is more interesting than anything upon the European side of the Latin Sea (without setting up Carthage against Rome, because the former is so deliciously “oriental” or any such exotic shallowness of the marvel-loving savage of the West). With us it is the time that is out of joint, not the place. ... Oran is of course not the best example to take — Morocco carries all this out far more fully. The farther south you go, again, to the Atlas and the Sous, the more complete is the illusion of a radical temporal displacement. (42)
There is something more at stake here than the standard anthropological denial of coevalness that imputes the non-contemporaneousness of geographically diverse but chronologically simultaneous zones. Lewis’s emphasis on radical temporal displacement and disjointed time complicates the Enlightenment ideal of rational human progress by interjecting the iterative disturbance of linguistic difference. In these moments, the narrative exceeds its chronological form and the disruptive force of linguistic/cultural difference questions the projection of barbarism within the two-dimensional plane of cartographic representation (“language is not suited for ... abstract mapmaking”). From a narratological point of view, this anomalous temporal movement can be identified with the book’s dual obsession with “lethargy and incessant movement” (54). This implies a movement of deferral that questions the linear/episodic time-scheme of the travel narrative.
Understood from this perspective, Lewis’s identification of capitalism and barbarism mobilizes the disruptive energy of repetition, derailing the narrative of modernity in much the same way as the stutterer’s speech disturbs the progressive flow of language (ba-ba). This prospect remains undeveloped at the thematic level of Journey into Barbary, but Lewis’s concern with temporal displacement and the graphic overcoding of languages cannot simply be discounted, put aside in favor of an analysis that respects the limits of his own spatial-philosophy and implicitly endorses his claims to ethnographic authority.
For Bhabha, this kind of irruption of linguistic/cultural difference announces the end of European modernity, shifting its location to the postcolonial site. Lewis’s figuration of barbarism shows that such a postcolonial translation of modernity cannot be accomplished without reference to the territorial claims of imperialism. But in stressing the spatial dimension of capitalist expansion, Lewis also registers the way in which the reterritorializing activities of the fascist state aim at modernity’s disruption, seeking a path beyond modernity, as Andrew Hewitt, writes, that “would not reinscribe itself in the transgressive logic of modernism” (“Fascist Modernism, Futurism, and Post-modernity” 55). {Hewitt, 1992 229 /id /h} It is not sufficient to think the end of modernity with exclusive reference to either fascism or imperialism. To understand the complexity of this plural event it is necessary to consider the mutual implication of these forms, examining the intertwining of space and time in the traumatic and materially violent process of capitalist reterritorialization.
The utility of a study of barbarism is that enables an interrogation of the critical difference between the modern and the postmodern without relying on simplistic formulations by which modernity represents new forms in the experience of time and postmodernity involves a revolution in spatial relations. Too often in contemporary cultural and social theory there is a split between deconstructive models that emphasize the temporal difference of writing and geographical models that stress the production of space and everyday life. The racial politics of Paleface and Journey into Barbary attest the danger of a spatial approach that forgets the disruptive temporality of writing. Only by remaining attentive to the material inscription of the earth (geo-graphy), is it possible to mobilize the powers of difference without losing sight of the everyday spaces so rapidly inscribed and reinscribed by the forces of capital. Otherwise, one risks replicating the hazards of Paleface, where the call for a radical criticism of modernity issues in a reactionary reaffirmation of racial purity.
My analysis of Journey into Barbary suggests that Lewis’s rejection of the qualitative flux of the Bergsonian durée is insufficient or incomplete. As much as he seeks to dispel this differential movement from his work, it makes a surreptitious return in the radical temporal displacement that marks his narrative technique. More is at stake here than a simple recovery of the durée from the clutches of Lewis’s spatial-philosophy. An analysis that stresses the concreteness of space without noting the differential movement of language cannot overcome the transgressive temporal logic of modernity. Equally, an approach that emphasizes the disruptive temporality of language while ignoring the concrete formations of social space cannot supersede the cultural and political reterritorializations of the modern state. Such an impasse however, is not peculiar to Lewis’s work.
In previous chapters, I have explored how it also marks the efforts of Conrad and Lawrence to move beyond the transcendentalism of the Western metaphysical tradition. If Lewis’s rejection of the Bergsonian durée betrays an (unsuccessful) attempt to free his writing of the differential movement of language, the work of James Joyce is frequently understood to loosen itself from all transcendental surveillance of meaning (a reading that Lewis affirms when he condemns Joyce’s narrative technique as Bergsonian in Time and Western Man). The following chapter argues that Joyce’s writing is equally unsuccessful in this aspect, leaving it caught between the dual prerogatives of transcendentalism and skepticism that limit barbarism’s cultural functioning.

Brett Neilson
University of Western Sydney


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