• Martin Jay’s Downcast Eyes has a double agenda: (1) to show that vision is by no means the dominant sense in ordering Western culture; and (2) to posit instead a “plurality of ‘scopic regimes, particularly in the climate of postmodernism. Antiocularcentrism provides the unifying thread of Jay’s work, which reviews the theory of vision from Plato to Bergson in the first three chapters and concentrates on “the culture of modernity” in chapters four through eight; chapter 9 places Derrida and feminist criticism side by side under the aegis of “phallogocularcentrism” and presents Derrida and Irigaray if not as the high points of modernism, then at least as the center of the poststructuralist discourse, which argues for the elevation of the word over the eye and so offers downcast eyes as the new logo for what is now identified as postmodernism. Jay’s last chapter addresses postmodernism as a foreclosure on visual practice or the ocularcentric. The short conclusion attempts to place a positive note on the author’s admitted denigration of the notion of visuality in modern French intellectual thought and culture by calling for a plural or multiple—“polyscopic”—visual experience. Hence, Jay concludes that his notion of downcast eyes or disillusionment is “no solution” (592) to the problem.
Posted by:Liyang DING

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