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Simulation, Fetishism and World Domination

Using Baudrillard to Analyse American Discourse

Charles Campbell

According to Jean Baudrillard, in a totally functional world people become irrational and subjective, given to projecting their fantasies of power into the efficiency of the system, a state of ‘spectacular alienation’. I argue that Americans as a society have accommodated themselves to such a system to the detriment of their ability to make sense in their public discourse. Baudrillard finds pathology in the system of objects as it determines social relations. In one symptom, people may obsess over a fetish object. For American society, the magical mechanical object is the gun. I show evidence for this weapons fetish in American fiction, cinema, television and serious journalism. Then, using Baudrillard and other analysts, I show how the American obsession with the superior functionality of weapons joins its myth of exceptionality and preference for simulation over reality to create a profound American dream state that protects a very deep sleep.

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An Anti-Imperial Mythology

The Radical Vision of Howards End

Charles Campbell


Critics have read Howards End as if Forster ‘specifically barred’ the poor from the novel (Trilling), so that only the middle classes are considered and not in a ‘truly radical’ way (Crews). Yet Forster does, after all, concern himself with the very poor in his depiction of Leonard Bast, Jacky and other characters, and extensively in the thoughts of Margaret. Furthermore, he creates the myth he says England lacks, and, considered in relationship to the main narrative events and to the novel's imagery, this takes the form of an anti-imperialist mythology. Mythic elements include epic journeys and battles, a symbolic sword and tree, a sacrificial death and a redemptive child. In the novel's poetic passages and in its account of Margaret's education on the ‘hard road of Henry's soul’, the nature of England's imperialism is revealed and defeated by an alternative radical and feminist vision of society.