Confronting the geopolitical aesthetic: Fredric Jameson, The Perfumed Nightmare and the Perilous Place of Third Cinema

Deborah P. Dixon, L. Zonn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


This essay explores the conceptual limitations within Fredric Jameson's notion of the geopolitical aesthetic through an analysis of Jameson's now classic reading of The Perfumed Nightmare; this film is central to his concept of the utopic character of film more generally and, moreover, to his argument on the embeddedness of Third World representations within a global, capitalist system. We suggest that, although Jameson acknowledges the underlying constructed and relational character of ontological categories such as film (despite their reification under capitalism), his theory of historical materialism demands that they also be understood as formed with regard to a socio-economic totality. And, because the recognition of a totality requires a master narrative within which all can be understood and framed within a logic of equivalence, Jameson must by default conceive of epistemology as fundamentally divided between a true and a false consciousness. Taking our own cue from recent developments in anti-essentialist thought, we conceive of such cultural forms as the temporarily fixed embodiment of broader-scale discourses that continually construct and deconstruct the world as we know it, including our understandings of the 'real' as well as the 'economic', the 'political' and the 'cultural'. In our own re-imagining of The Perfumed Nightmare, we provide a partial response to this, noting how these realms are constituted from the temporary 'fixing' of a series of people- and place-based identities, such as those constituted under the rubric of 'gender'. Accordingly, we re-work the term 'cognitive mapping' as the attempt to outline the web of significations within which objects are embedded as well as the concomitant lines of fracture and contradiction that allow for such objects to become meaningful in a host of other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-315
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


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