In The Already Dead, Eric Cazdyn examines the ways that contemporary medicine, globalization, politics, and culture intersect to produce a condition and concept that he names "the new chronic." Cazdyn argues that just as contemporary medicine uses targeted drug therapies and biotechnology to manage rather than cure diseases, global capitalism aims not for resolution but rather for a continual state of crisis management that perpetuates the iniquities of the status quo. Engaging critical theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, he explores the ways that crisis affects perceptions of time and denies alternative ways of being and thinking.
To resist the exploitative crisis state, which Cazdyn terms "the global abyss," he posits the concept of "the already dead," a condition in which the subject (medical, political, psychological) has been killed but has yet to die. Embracing this condition, he argues, allows for a revolutionary consciousness open to a utopian future. Woven into Cazdyn's analysis are personal anecdotes about his battle with leukemia and his struggle to obtain Canadian citizenship during his illness. These narratives help to illustrate his systemic critique, one that reconfigures the relationship between politics, capitalism, revolution, and the body.
"This immensely ambitious and unclassifiable theoretical work begins by projecting a new kind of temporality—the new chronic—out of medical practice, in order to range across the political, the cultural, the national, the autobiographical, and the economic, touching in passing on film and globalization, and in the process unearthing new life forms: the already dead, the always dead, and the always already dead. It is an exciting journey."—Fredric Jameson, Duke University
"In The Already Dead, Eric Cazdyn establishes what he calls a nonmoralizing critique of capitalism, starting from the premise that crisis does not symptomize the failure of the system but rather its proper functioning. He is committed to a systemic, radical critique that keeps open the possibilities of revolution. This is a bracing and provocative book, both ideationally and stylistically."—Rei Terada, University of California, Irvine
Part 1. The New Chronic 13
Part 2. The Global Abyss 99
Part 3. The Already Dead 159
Selected Bibliography 217
About The Author:
Eric Cazdyn is Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan; editor of Trespasses: Selected Writings of Masao Miyoshi, (both published by Duke University Press); and coauthor, with Imre Szeman, of After Globalization.