1. "How many kilometers it took to make us feel we were finally on the threshold of exoticism!", Michel Leiris, L'Afrique fantôme (1934; Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1981), p. 226, my translation. Subsequently cited in the text as AF.
2. Marianna Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 21. Subsequently cited in the text as GP.
In The New York Times Book Review, 24 June 1990, Arthur C. Danto pronounced Gone Primitive "powerful" and "provocative," "a superb book." In Modern Philology , 89 (February 1992), Sander Gilman similarly declares, "Marianna Torgovnick has now provided us all (academic and nonacademic specialists) with a brilliant, exciting, and innovative reading of our 'modern' ... fascination with the image of the primitive" (437). And he concludes by remarking, "I put down this book feeling that cultural studies in this country had come a lot further than I had imagined" (439). And in "Otherness is in the Details," The Nation, 5 November 1990, pp. 530-36, Micaela di Leonardo, who does comment on some of the book's "key lacunas," calls Torgovnick's goal "laudable," her critique of humanism "valuable," and "her interpretations of the shifting meanings and wildly enhanced monetary value of primitive art ... particularly acute" (533).
3. James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literture, and Art (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 42. Subsequently cited as JCP.
4. See, for example, GP 17-18. Torgovnick also cites Edward Said and Christopher Miller as ignoring the gender issue. In keeping with her own assessment, Torgovnick's book has been marketed as a "corrective" to Clifford's. In her book blurb, for example, Catharine R. Stimpson calls Gone Primitive "an extraordinary account of the ways in which race, gender, and a terrible romance with 'the primitive' have structured Western culture."
5. Leiris is now coming into his own in the United States. See the special number On Leiris of Yale French Studies , 81 (1992), which contains an excerpt of Lydia Davis's new translation of Fourbis and essays by Marc Blanchard, Edouard Glissant, Francis Marmande, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Jean-Luc Nancy, Denis Hollier, Leah D. Lewitt, Michèle Richman, and J. B. Pontalis, as well as extracts from earlier essays by Emmanuel Lévinas and Maurice Blanchot. This issue is subsequently cited in the text as YFS. For a good recent overview, see Richard Sieburth, "The Librettist of Self," Times Literary Supplement, 5 March 1993, pp. 3-4.
6. I have seen all these except the Livre de Poche, for which I owe the relevant information to Philippe Lejeune's important Lire Leiris (Paris: Editions Klincksieck, 1975), pp. 109-110. Lejeune points out that the Livre de Poche blow up projects the idea of violence exercised on oneself (Lucrece) onto the figure of Judith, whereas the Folio cardgame image, "no produit pas pour autant l'effet érotique du nu de Cranach."
7. GP 111. For a good treatment of the complexity of Leiris's representation, see Michèle Richman, "Leiris's L'Age d'homme : Politics and the Sacred in Everyday Ethnography," YFS: 91-110. Richman writes, "In [Leiris's] favorite mythological pantheon, Judith and Lucretia transform their horrific situations into parables of strength, offering dramas in which the victim/ executioner relationship is played out with unexpected heroism" (95). But "the particular mixture of sacred terror and pity [Judith and Lucretia] evoke is tinged with a sense of remorse due to [the narrator'] own cowardice as well as cruelty, which in turn promote the 'crainte superstitieuse d'un châtiment'" (99).
8. Paul Gilroy warns of this ahistoricism (vis-à-vis the treatment of Black Britain) in "Cultural Studies and Ethnic Absolutism," Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler (New York and London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 187-98.
9. Cf. Leiris's "Civilization," one of the short pieces written for Documents (1929), collected in Brisées (1966), trans. Lydia Davis (San Francisco: North Point, 1989):
However little taste one might have for proposing metaphors as explanations, civilization may be compared without too much inexactness to the thin greenish layer-- the living magma and the odd detritus-- that forms on the surface of calm water and sometimes solidifies into a crust, until an eddy comes to break it up. All our moral practices and our polite customs, that radiantly colored cloak that hides the coarseness of our dangerous instincts, all those lovely forms of culture we are so proud of--since it is thanks to them that we can call ourselves "civilized"-- are ready to dissappear at the slightest turbulence, to shatter at the slightest impact (like the thin mirror on a fingernail whose polish cracks or roughens) allowing our horrifying primitiveness to appear in the interstices, revealed by the fissures just as hell might be revealed by earthquakes. (p. 19)
10. Even this assumption is unfounded, since the circumcision practices described at length in the passage Torgovnick cites are those of men, not women.
11. See James Clifford, Headnote to section on "Phantom Africa," Sulfur 15 (1986), Special Section: New Translations of the Work of Michel Leiris," ed. James Clifford: 42. This journal issue is subsequently cited as S. For the original, see AF, 350: "Amertume. Ressentiment contre l'ethnographie, qui fait prendre cette position si inhumaine d'observateur, dans des circonstances ou il faudrait s'abandonner." Excerpts from Leiris's La Possession et ses aspects théâtraux chez les Ethiopiens de Gondar (1958), which deals specifically with the Zâr cult, may be found in S 113-17.
12. John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation, forthcoming (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993). I am citing from the manuscript, pp. 30-33.
13. Velimir Khlebnikov, "My Own" (1919), cited in Rainer Crone and David Moos, Kazimir Malevich: The Climax of Disclosure (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), p. 137.
14. Cited by Charlotte Douglas, Introduction, Collected Works of Velimir Khlebnikov: Volume 1, Letters and Theoretical Writings, trans. Paul Schmidt, ed. Charlotte Douglas (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1987), p. 8.
15. Michel Leiris "Glossary: My Glosses' Ossuary" (1925), in Brisées , trans. Lydia Davis, pp. 3-4.
16. Lyn Hejinian, Oxota: A Short Russian Novel (Great Barrington, MA: 1991), p. 235.