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Say What? or: Why Johnny Still Can't Read or: I bet he has tenure (Mark Crispin)
(true, smirk, science)

     The following is an excerpt from `Producing American Selves: The form of
American Biography" by Rob Wilson, in `boundary 2' (Summer 1991) as reported
in the Winter 1992 `Wilson Quarterly.'  Wilson is an English professor (!) at
the University of Hawaii.

     As postmodern ethnography de-familiarizes the genre of life-writing into
a voracious apparatus of textualized selfhood, the underlying cultural
function of biography, at least as a Western genre, can be seen to insinuate
and extend what James Clifford has called "the myth of coherant personality."
That is, by means of a massive life-writing consuming and producing selves
from George Washington to Cary Grant and Alice James, the primary function of
biography is to disseminate a plethora of selves who might instantiate this
integrity of selfhood as achieved against a more or less recessive social
background, what Le'vi-Strauss, Lacan, and Althusser have theorized (less
blithely) as the overdeterminations of mythic structures, libidinal codes, and
economic base.  Hence, in contracting to document and amass the thematics of
such a particularized self, the biographer enters the terms of a genre in
which he or she contracts to deliver the individual as a tormented journey
toward coherent unity, striking personality, and expressive selfhood ...

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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