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Stephen Packard: Why are Story Arcs Dark and Gritty? On the Metaphysics of Seriality in
Why are Story Arcs Dark and Gritty? On the Metaphysics of Seriality in "Dexter" and Kammerer
(p. 291 – 310)

Stephen Packard

Why are Story Arcs Dark and Gritty? On the Metaphysics of Seriality in "Dexter" and Kammerer

PDF, 20 pages

This essay undertakes a critical reading of serial genre television, focusing on Dexter’s apotheosis of serial killings. In a return to Jacques Rancière’s concepts, Packard is led by the observation that recent TV productions maintain a plurality of genres mirroring the distinct and defined multitude of arts in the representative regime, but appeal to a "dark and gritty" ethical aporia where they claim a transgression towards an aesthetics of suspended reference as a most pessimistic realism. The serial killings committed by the main character, traumatized but not to be analysed in terms of his trauma, can be compared to the aesthetics as well as the philosophical quandaries of Paul Kammerer’s Law of the Series, a metaphysical exaltation of seriality as a principle for cultural studies as well as scientific research. In both cases, Packard argues, an "operative monism" is brought to bear, distinct from straightforward monistic approaches by its ultimate dualist world view, and yet ever prone to introducing monistic interludes that short-circuit reference as well as abstraction and ironically deny realism even while they argue its binding powers to negate any ethics that would accompany the world as it is with any idea of what should be. The argument culminates in a re-examination of the relationship between theory, method, and reading, claiming that naïve forms of direct application can be criticized for just such an operative monism, and might be corrected or replaced by a consciously reticent use of the concept of “consequences” from reading theory for reading arts instead. In this vein, Packard also resists, as it were, our ideas of a purely co-existent, rather than critically interpretative and productively hermeneutic, relationship between analytic methods and their arts.

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Anneka Esch-van Kan (ed.), Stephan Packard (ed.), ...: Thinking – Resisting – Reading the Political

This volume contrasts a number of recently suggested concepts of the political – each of which connects to certain instances of art and literature in its discourse – with questions concerning the rigidity of those connections: How strongly do such claims to politics depend on their specific examples, what is the scope of their validity to understand art with regard to politics, and how can they help us grasp the political within other pieces of art? In each case, manners of thinking concepts of the political, the mutual resistance of such concepts and their academic treatment, and the turn towards specific readings informed by those concepts converge.

The essays collected in “Thinking Resistances. Current Perspectives on Politics, Community, and Art“ engage with political phenomena in their interrelations with arts as well as with recent theoretical and philosophical perspectives on the very meaning of politics, the political, and community.

With contributions by Armen Avanessian, Friedrich Balke, Judith Butler, Simon Critchley, Anneka Esch-van Kan, Josef Früchtl, Andreas Hetzel, Jon McKenzie, Dieter Mersch, Chantal Mouffe, Maria Muhle, Nikolaus Müller-Schöll, Stephan Packard, Wim Peeters, Jacques Rancière, Juliane Rebentisch, Gabriel Rockhill, Frank Ruda and Philipp Schulte.

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