Humiliation

Wayne Koestenbaum. Picador, $14 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-42922-5
The genre-busting poet and critic Koestenbaum (The Queen's Throat) riffs on humiliation, tracing its relationship with art, desire, the body, and in the construction of celebrities for public consumption. In fragments that recall Roland Barthes's Mourning Diary, the author advances his provocative "paradoxes and juxtapositions" to trace humiliation's contours, the circumstances that make it possible ("Humiliation involves a triangle" of victim, abuser, and witness), and its centrality to certain kinds of pleasure (e.g., Koestenbaum's delight in Liza Minnelli's ability to repeatedly succumb to—and triumph over—humiliation). He refreshes worn tropes such as the humiliation inherent in reality TV and such political scandals as Richard Nixon's resignation ("Watergate wasn't a sexual scandal, but it manifested as physical abhorrence") while also deepening our understanding of racism, lynching, and police brutality in the context of shame. It's a wide-ranging, allusive conversation that wears its erudition lightly—not least because Koestenbaum is at his confiding, self-implicating best ("I am tired, as any human must be, after a life spent avoiding humiliation and yet standing near its flame, enjoying the sparks, the heat, the paradoxical illumination.") (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.