Conspicuous Consumption

Theory, Culture and Society 22 (3):43-62 (2005)
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The aim of this article is to posit a conceptual model for the way ideas, conceptions, or feelings are represented or ‘figured’ in memory with the help of the imagination, and to use this model to begin to outline what I believe constitutes part of our culture’s ‘memory-image’ of the serial killer in both fact and fiction. Human memory is not simply a passive storehouse of information. It is an active process whereby relations are created by way of the imagination. The ‘memory image’ is connected to what we wish to remember, but also to other images stored in memory, and inscribes itself in a vast ‘figural network’. I show how a given metaphor – ‘capitalism as cannibalism’ – can find its way in a given figural network, that of our memory-image of the serial killer. I investigate the rhetorical network that surrounds cannibalism and examine how this network offers our imagination a topos for our memory-image of the serial killer. Finally, I look at two films that activate this topos in their representation of serial killing, even though they avoid any direct thematization of it. The absence of any act of cannibalism in these films makes its ‘presence’ in our experience of them all the more compelling.



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Citations of this work

Serial killing and the postmodern self.Anthony King - 2006 - History of the Human Sciences 19 (3):109-125.

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References found in this work

The Art of Memory.Ian M. L. Hunter & Frances A. Yates - 1967 - Philosophical Quarterly 17 (67):169.
Serial Killing and the Transformation of the Social.Jon Stratton - 1996 - Theory, Culture and Society 13 (1):77-98.

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