If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear
upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as
much from their historical life process as the inversion of objects
on their retina does from their physical life process. (German
Ideology, "Idealism and Materialism)
This negative sense of ideology as "false consciousness"
was the most common usage in the Marxist tradition until the last part
of the twentieth century. It was, among other things, a convenient way
to account for the reluctance of oppressed workers to rise in revolt.
However, there is another sense of the term, in which ideology is seen
not simply as false consciousness against which a true, scientific understanding
might be opposed, but rather as the general sphere of consciousness
of all humans:
in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation
of the whole immense superstructure. In studying such transformations
it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation
of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined
with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious,
artistic or philosophic -- in short, ideological forms in which men
become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.
(Contribution to the Critique
of Political Economy, "Preface")
While the former sense of the term had been most common,
there were notable instances of the latter (for example, in Gramsci's
thought--as in his revisionary uderstanding of Machiavelli) before Althusser's
essay "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (1969;
first published English in 1971), which emphasized the relative autonomy
of the superstructure on the assumption that it is impossible, or at
least nearly impossible, to escape ideology. As I noted above, Althusser's
intervention re-energized Marxist literary criticism in the U. K. and
U.S., and it is still the starting point for contemporary work, though
it has been the subject of several important revisions by subsequent
Althusser on Ideology
Althusser's essay "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses"
makes two significant advances over the traditional Marxist understanding
of ideology. First, he rejects as an oversimplification the concept
of ideology as "false consciousness," or a distorted representation
of reality by which a dominant elite cynically exploits an under-class.
This oversimplification implies an opposition of "false consciousness"
to some kind of "true consciousness," or an understanding
that the subject can transcend ideology, when, in fact, as Althusser
shows, all consciousness is constituted by and necessarily inscribed
within ideology. Ideology is as inescapable and indispensible as the
air we breathe. All that we can have are competing versions of "false
consciousness," or understandings of reality which are limited
and therefore, at some level, incomplete.
Second, Althusser's theory challenges the traditional Marxist dialectical
model in which a society's base (the economic structure--material relations
of production and comsumption) inevitably determines the society's superstructure
("state" and social consciousness, including ideology), with
a model of social formation that features a relatively autonomous superstructure.
By theorizing the relative autonomy of the superstructure Althusser
produces a privileged position for social practices (seen as explicit
manifestations of ideology) as mechanisms for producing specific social
subjectivities, or ways of being, and for producing and circulating
specific understandings of the "real." Literature, in this
view, has a productive, (not merely a reflective) role in ideology formation.
Thus, Althusser implies a decentering, of the material contexts (the
economic base) in which traditional Marxist literary criticism often
sought the sources of ideas and concepts "reflected" in literature.
Conversely, literature, in its ideological role, is granted the status
of a material product.
At first glance these arguments seem to undermine themselves, since
they appear to erase all distinctions between ideologies and to leave
no ground from which to mount a credible critique. Althusser attempts
to address this problem in two ways. First, he makes a distinction between
"ideology-in-general" (the commonsense framework of reality
in which a society functions and into which subjects are hailed, or
"interpellated") and "particular ideologies" (the
narrower frames of consciousness inhabited by specific social groups).
This latter term corresponds closely to what most subsequent writers
have called "discourse," following the usage of Foucault and
Bakhtin, among others.
Althusser's second move to refine the concept of ideology reintroduces
a form of idealism under the term, "scientific knowledge,"
which, for Althusser, is knowledge produced by Marxist theory, "from
the point of view of class exploitation" (Lenin and Philosophy,
"Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," p. 8). In this
way Althusser attempts to lay some claim to what is effectively an absolute
"truth," though the idea is inconsistent with the fundamental
materialist thrust of his theory.
Althusser has also been criticized for producing a rigidly mechanistic
functionalist subject--a subject which is absolutely and completely
overdetermined by the dominant ideology. There appears to be no space
for resistance or agency in Althusser's model of subject formation.
Nonetheless, his model enabled a much more complex understanding of
the workings of ideology than had been previously recognized. The individual
subject is faced, it would seem, not with the problem of differentiating
the "ideological" from the "real," but with the
problem of choosing between competing ideological versions of the "real."
Yet, the terms "individual subject" and "choosing"
are also problematic. Drawing on (and, in fact, creatively misreading)
Jaques Lacan's theory in which human subjectivity is formed through
a process of misrecognition of the "I" in the "mirror"
of language, Althusser argues that "all ideology has the function
(which defines it) of constituting concrete individuals as subjects"
(Althusser, 1971, 171). One consequence of this insight is that the
conventional conceptions of "author" (authority, originator)
and "individual agent" are replaced by the ideologically constituted
(or positioned) subject. What historically has been viewed as the unique,
original voice of an autonomous individual agent is, in Althusser's
theory, an ideological discourse speaking through a discursive subject
Althusser's major breakthrough, then, consists in his development of
a properly materialist and radically anti-humanist theory of ideology
that enables one to think of ideology as productive instead of merely
reflective. Subsequent theorists working on Althusser's problematic,
on the other hand, have shown the inevitability of contradiction or
resistance in the process of subject interpellation. By applying Althusser's
theory to the relationship of audience and text in the discourse of
realist cinema, several film theorists publishing in the British journal,
Screen, in the 1970's demonstrated that dominant ideologies are
not monolithic. Unlike Althusser, the Screen theorists analyzed
the production of subjectivity in a specific signifying practice, implicitly
assuming that various discourses interpellate subjects differently.
Yet the Screen group still tended to equate the subject with
the subject position proffered by the discourse in question. For a notion
of contradictory or oppositional subjectivity they eventually turned
to the work of Michel Pecheux.
The role of subject positions in class struggle can be understood in
a framework theorized by Pecheux. Pecheux posits three possible positions
for the individual subject in relation to the dominant ideology of his
or her society society. The first is "identification": the
"good" subject who accepts his/her place in society and the
social order as it stands. The second is "counter-identification":
the "bad" subject who simply denies and opposes the dominant
ideology, and in so doing inadvertently confirms the power of the dominant
ideology by accepting the "evidentness of meaning" upon which
it rests (Pecheux 156-8). The third position is termed "disidentification":
an effect which "constitutes a working (transformation-displacement)
of the subject form and not just its abolition (Pecheux 159, author's
emphasis). For Pecheux, that is, disidentification requires a transformation
or displacement in the way the subject is interpellated by ideology--it
is not just a matter of people changing, but also of changes in power
relations, in the ways discourses and institutions produce (define and
confine) social subjects.
Pecheux links disidentification specifically with the Marxist-Leninist
tradition stemming from the epistemological break with idealist philosophical
discourse which Marx achieved by occupying a materialist, proletarian
position. But the concept is useful in analysing the relationship of
discourse and ideology to class struggle and in accounting for subjectivities
which are situated contradictorily across class, race, gender, and other
sociopolitical divisions. Disidentification is possible, according to
Pecheux's theory, because "meaning is determined by the ideological
positions brought into play in the socio-historical process in which
words, expressions, propositions, etc. are produced (i. e. reproduced)."
"This thesis," Pecheux continues, "could be summed up
in the statement: words, expressions, propositions, etc. change their
meaning according to the positions held by those who use them, which
signifies that they find their meaning by reference to those positions"
(Pecheux 98-ff; 112, author's emphasis). In Pecheux's materialist linguistics,
that is, it is the subject's position within a particular discursive
formation that determines meaning, rather than the subject's intent
(the ideological and discursive formations supply the assumptions about
intent which appear to determine meaning) or, even, necessarily, the
conventional meanings valorized by the dominant ideology. In my view,
Pecheux's concept of "disidentification" provides a satisfactory
way around the problem of absolute overdetermined subjectivity in Althusser.
Change, and some degree of discursive agency, can be identified precisely
because no ideological discourse can monolithically interpellate a subject,
and because different discourses within a particular social formation
will intersect at various points to produce a range of sometimes conflicting
The search for some form of "individual" agency continues,
however, and it will no doubt engage us in our discusions. In order
to spur the discussion, it may be useful for me to outline my position
against individualism by examining one such effort here--Paul Smith's
book, Discerning the Subject. The title of the book involves
a pun on two obscure verbs: "to cern," meaning "to accept
an inheritance or a patrimony"; and "to cerne," which
means "to encircle" or "to enclose" (xxx). In most
recent work on the problem of subjectivity, Smith complains, the "subject"
is conceived as completely "cerned" or dominated by forces
beyond one's control--whether these forces are those of the dominant
ideology (in the Marxist paradigm) or those of the textualized (and
hence restricted) unconscious (in the psycholinguistic paradigm). In
their emphasis on the "subjection" of the subject, the author
finds, recent theorists have left "little room to envisage the
agent of real and effective resistance" (39). Against this trend,
Smith sets out to reintroduce a concept of individual agency into political
and psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity.
At the outset, Smith defines a special purpose term--the "subject/individual"--which
is to be distinguished from the concept "individual subject":
The "individual" is that which is undivided and whole, and
understood to be the source and agent of conscious action or meaning
which is consistent with it. The "subject," on the other
hand, is not self-contained . . . but is immediately cast into a conflict
with forces that dominate it . . . . The "subject," then,
is determined . . . whereas "the individual" is assumed
to be determining. (xxxiii-iv)
On this account, the familiar term "individual subject" is
revealed as self-contradictory. But Smith sees this contradiction as
a useful way of theorizing agency--agency can be located in the dialectical
tension between the singular experience of the subject and the subject's
social subjection. Or, the opposition can be thought in terms of an
incompatability between the discourses of Marxism, which "subsume
the human person under society," and those of psychoanalysis, which
"promote a view of the `subject' as a kind of `beginning and end
of theory and practice . . .'" (22). Smith proposes the term "subject/individual"
as a way of recognizing that there is always some "individual"
aspect of subjectivity which falls outside the sphere of interpellation
by the dominant ideology. Thus, a British subject "is subject to
particular forms of state control and hortation," but also to other,
potentially conflicting discourses such as ethnic and gender status,
regional identification, one's family, and "to particular modes
and languages of advertising which will place the `subject' as a consumer"
Here Smith seems to understand resistance as the product of a limited
ideological conflict within a given ensemble of discourses (follow this
link for a discussion of the use of the
term "discourse" in current critical theory). But at several
subsequent points he abandons this strictly discursive model of subjectivity
to locate resistance (and, implicitly, agency) in the singular (hence,
ultimately, extradiscursive) history of the subject/individual. If it
may be granted that the singular history of the subject is a source
of resistance, some conscious focus of that resistance is still required
for a useful concept of agency. But the point at which any subject can
lay claim to a unique, singular experience is exactly the threshold
of political and theoretical irrelevance. The unique experience cannot
generate the power or meaning required to motivate subjects for coherent
political action. Thus, in my view, Smith's identification of the subject's
singular history as a "positive" source of agency which can
withstand the negative power of ideology leads no further than essentialist
claims of individual autonomy.
Symptoms of this individualist agenda are perhaps most evident in Smith's
brief treatment of Pecheux (32-3). In Pecheux's model, the space for
resistance opened by the notion of "disidentification" is
clearly produced (and limited) by the play of conflicting discourses
in a social order, rather than by the discontinuity between ideology
and the subject, where Smith attempts to locate resistance and agency.
But, in describing--and dismissing--Pecheux's work, Smith mentions only
the concept of "identification," omitting Pecheux's other
terms. This omission, I think, is a symptom of Smith's concern to locate
resistance at the level of the subject/individual rather than at the
level of discourse. Pecheux's theory of disidentification allows only
a fairly narrow scope of agency, but it does offer a way of theorizing
conscious resistance and social change completely within the bounds
of discourse. In Pecheux's theory resistance results from the conflict
of interpellations (as in Smith's example of the British subject cited
above); the subject's singular (and extradiscursive) experience is deemphasized.
Smith is generally critical of theories which resist
thinking of subjectivity outside of language. For example, he criticizes
Derrida for trying "to establish a kind of subjectless process
which is in all essential ways given over to the force or forces of
language" (49). This "subjectlessness" is identified
as the source of deconstruction's apolitical tendencies, "a patent
eschewing of responsibility" (50). Here Smith's notion of subjectivity
(the subject/individual) depends upon a particular understanding of
the unconscious as essentially extralinguistic. He elaborates this later
in a reading of Lacan which yields a distinction between the "subject"
and the "subject/individual": "a difference . . . between
the actual construction of the "subject" in the realm of the
symbolic and the ability of a given subject/individual to read ideological
signs and messages" (70). What Smith goes on to argue is that Lacan's
placing of the unconscious at the mediating edge between the subject
and the symbolic order effectively protects some area of subjectivity
from ideological subjection. Thus, the unconscious, in Smith's understanding
of Lacan, effects an "interference . . . in relation to both `subject'
and Other, or to both being and meaning" (74). This "interference"
is another way of expressing what Smith has elsewhere described as the
gap between ideological interpellation and the subject/individual's
singular history. But, at this point in the book it becomes clear that
the sort of agency which can emerge from this gap between ideology and
the subject is much more nebulous and negative than expected. Agency
or resistance begins to look like nothing more than the "power"
of the subject/individual to be imperfectly interpellated.
From the other side of the discourse/subjectivity couple--work aimed
primarily at understanding the workings of ideology at the level of
discourse--there are similarly idealist tendencies to be found. In this
case, it usually involves retaining some privilege for "literary
discourse" as a special kind of discourse. For example, In The
Political Unconscious , Fredric Jameson provides a model for literary-historical
analysis which emphasizes the function of literary genres in ideology
production and which places genres in their contemporary social formations.
Jameson asserts an inevitable interrelationship between the aesthetic
value and the specific historicity (seen in terms of ideological function)
of the literary text. As an indication of the universality of relationship
between aesthetic value and ideological power he cites Levi-Strauss's
interpretation of the body art of the Cadaveo indians of South America.
The Cadaveo facial tattoo is described as a "visual text [which]
constitutes a symbolic act, whereby real social contradictions, insurmountable
in their own terms, find a purely formal resolution in the aesthetic
realm." From Levi-Strauss's model, Jameson constructs a productive
role for literature:
We may suggest that from this perspective, ideology is not something
which informs or invests symbolic production; rather the aesthetic
or narrative form is to be seen as an ideological act in its own right,
with the function of inventing imaginary or formal "solutions"
to unresolvable social contradictions.
(Jameson 79; reprinted in Marxist Literary Theory, p. 354-5)
Thus, in suggesting ways in which literature helps to constitute the
world-views of societies, Jameson represents literature as producing
(rather than simply reflecting) ideology. But, in locating the source
of aesthetic value in the text's power to articulate and resolve social
contradictions, Jameson seems to privilege a certain kind of text. He
implicitly devalues literary texts which confirm and/or reproduce existing
aesthetic/ ideological formulations without exposing their hidden contradictions.
And, though he assumes that literary texts are especially significant,
he does not provide a basis for distinguishing literary texts from ostensibly
"non-literary" texts that also formulate new ideologies and
resolve social contradictions.
John Frow's book Marxism and Literary History offers a more rigorously
anti-aestheticist model for understanding literature as discourse. Calling
for a radical rethinking of literary studies-- "the self-abolition
of poetics and its transformation into a general rhetoric" (235)
Frow redefines formalism as a sort of refined, highly specific branch
of discourse theory capable of analyzing the particular complexity of
literary texts. As Frow demonstrates, the methods of close, careful
analysis of literary texts practiced by formalists can be extended productively
to the analysis of larger textual systems and discourses. Yet, at several
points, Frow's incorporation of formalism into discourse theory results
in a reification of the literary which inevitably would prevent the
"self-abolition of poetics" and the transformation of literary
studies. This occurs because Frow assumes that "literary"
texts have immanent formal properties which specifically mark them (either
in terms of identification or of difference) as "literary"
in relation to other texts and systems.
Drawing on the work of Bakhtin, Halliday, Pecheux, and Foucault, Frow
theorizes a concept of ideology in semiotic terms:
. . . ideology is thought as a state of discourse rather than
an inherent quality (a truth status or a particular thematic structure);
it is defined in terms of its appropriation by a hegemonic class, but
because language is the point of intersection of a network of power
relations this involves no necessary, motivated, or stable class correlations;
and utterances are thought of as being governed by the structures of
the genre of discourse and the discursive formation, structures
which are more or less specific and which delimit certain possibilities
of use and certain semantic domains. Effects of truth, representation,
and subjectivity are thought to be functions rather than causes of discourse.
Literature, as Frow goes on to assert, is not to be conceived as an
essential category; it is a complex, historically specific, highly institutionalized
discourse. Most importantly, the effect of essentialism itself is discursively
produced: "the concept of the relative autonomy of the literary
system must be understood as the result of particular historical conditions
and a particular articulation with other systems, not as an inherent
quality of literary discourse" (84).
Frow then turns from discourse theory to construct an overlapping genealogy
of Formalism. The most important achievement of the Formalists, Frow
to establish the unity of the conceptual level at
which extraliterary values and functions become structural moments
of a text, and at which, conversely, the "specifically literary"
function acquires an extra-aesthetic dimension. Holding on to this
principle is perhaps a question of being sufficiently "formalist"--that
is, of being willing to relate literary discourse to other discourse
(to the structured order of the semiotic field) rather than to a reality
which transcends discourse; to relate literary fictions to the universe
of fictions rather than to a nonfictive universe.
This rescues Formalism from the conventional critique of historical
and political naivete, but the transcendental tendencies of Formalism
reappear when Frow goes on to specify the gains of his conflation of
Formalism and discourse theory. Since his method gives "as much
weight . . . to formal linguistic and rhetorical structures and to positions
of enunciation and reception as to thematic features," he states,
it can attend to "all of the interrelated and overdetermined levels
at which signification is constructed, although without assuming
that textual structure is in itself ideologically significant"
That is, despite the fact that Frow's theory specifies the levels at
which the category of the "literary" functions in relation
to other texts, it results in what seems to be an uncritical privileging
of the "literary" in exempting formal textual structures from
ideological significance. Frow, in fact, asserts that literature functions
on a meta-interpretive plane:
. . . the possibility of discursive contradiction
or resistance means that literary discourse can be though of as metadiscourse
which is continuous with and yet capable of a limited reflexive distance
from the discourses it works (although the conditions of this working
are themselves not external to power). . . . theorizing the relation
between ideology and discourse in this way also allows us to think
the movement of the literary system (its production and reception)
in terms of reaction and discontinuity rather than in terms of a correspondence
or homology between literary discourse and social structure. The central
Formalist concept of the negative dynamic of literary evolution makes
it possible to escape that historicism which can perpetuate itself
only on the basis of metaphors of identity. (100)
The problem with this conception of the literary is
that it could as easily be applied to any discourse. Discursive contradiction
or resistance cannot be seen as identical with literary quality. That,
in effect, is what the Russian Formalists did by defining estrangement
as the essential characteristic of literary language. An important strength
of discourse theory is that enables one to treat literary discourse
as merely one of a complex ensemble of discourses in a particular social
formation. Frow ultimately forfeits that gain.
Though this aestheticist privileging of the "literary" dies
hard, other theorists--notably Terry Eagleton and Etienne Balibar and
Pierre Macherey--have questioned the acceptance of aesthetic value as
a proper concern of Marxist criticism. They acknowledge Althusser's
breakthrough in freeing Marxist criticism from the "reflectionist"
problematic, but they reject Jameson's assumption that literature has
a universal function which is the source of aesthetic value. Macherey
sees this notion as an unnecessary concession to bourgeois ideology.
Aesthetic value is not universal; it cannot always be traced to a particular
function of the text, even if that function is conceived within Marxist-oriented
problematics, such as defamiliarizing ideology, or resolving social
contradictions. As Balibar and Macherey state most simply, "literariness
is what is recognized as such" (Balibar and Macherey 82).
Like Frow, Jameson looks to genre criticism as the most promising locus
for literary historicism: "the strategic value of generic concepts
for Marxism clearly lies in the mediatory function of the notion of
a genre, which allows the coordination of immanent formal analysis of
the individual text with the twin diachronic perspective of the history
of forms and the evolution of social life" (Jameson 105). Jameson's
strategy of emphasizing the mediatory function of a genre is useful.
It allows one to push beyond the boundaries of formalism and traditional
literary-historicism in understanding how and why genres change and
how socio-cultural factors are related to aesthetic production.
In this course, however, I will argue for a more productive role for
the ideologically formative power of literature. In this emphasis I
will diverge from traditional literary-historical approaches--both Marxist
and Humanist--which treat literature as primarily reflective of something
outside of the text. And my assumptions are also at odds with those
implicit in the formalist tradition, which tends to ignore the ideological
dimension of literature and to insist that literary value is an immanent
and ahistorical category. My approach is grounded rather, in recent
poststructural literary historicism; both the American New Historicism
and the Cultural Materialism which has developed from the work of Raymond
Williams and others in Great Britain. In its initial break with traditional
historiography and New Criticism, this scholarship has been characterized
by an interest in the socio-political contexts of literature, by an
awareness of the problematic nature of historical contexts, and by a
rethinking of the traditional, positivistic assumption that literary
texts merely reflect their historical contexts.
Traditionally, whether in the case of Humanists reading literary texts
in the light of the history of ideas, or of Marxists reading them in
the light of the history of class conflict, literary texts too often
have been treated as simple, unproblematic reflections of external contexts.
But recent scholarship has challenged this assumption. For example,
historians such as Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra have pointed out
that the modern reader never can completely escape the limitations of
his or her own perspective. The historian inevitably superimposes some
sort of narrative framework onto his or her factual data, thus creating
a kind of fiction. The recognition of this element of subjectivity in
the reconstruction of historical contexts also calls into question the
traditional privileging of so-called "objective" historical
treatises as more "true" than literary texts. Even the documents
upon which historical contexts generally are based are suspect. History
is written by the victorious; subversive and marginal voices are stilled
in the process. Furthermore, which kinds of historical records survive
depends upon the changing ideological biases and values of the society.
Historians regularly, though silently, reshape texts, making them conform
with super-imposed "historical" contexts (LaCapra 56). Such
interpretations ignore or smooth over elements of the texts which challenge
or contest the dominant ideas or ideology assumed to be embodied in
the historical context; these are elements which call into question
the work's unity, and, therefore, according to classical aesthetics,
its aesthetic value. Further, the assumption that literature passively
reflects a simple, transparently discernible historical context leads
to a premature closure of the critical investigation: the investigator
discovers what appears to be a suitable "original pattern"
external to the work, and the work is bent to fit that pattern. As LaCapra
argues, the causes or origins of ideas in complex (including literary)
texts are not likely to be found in any one particular context:
. . . one never has--at least in the case of complex texts--the
context. The assumption that one does relies on a hypostatization
of "context," often in the service of misleading organic
or other overtly reductive analogies. For complex texts one has set
[sic] of interacting contexts whose relations to one another are variable
and problematic and whose relation to the text being investigated
raises difficult issues in interpretation.
LaCapra proposes to address the problem of oversimplification by reading
the text in relation to multiple interacting contexts, rather than assuming
that it reflects just one context. He suggests six possible contexts
for interpreting complex texts: the author's intentions, his motivations,
society, culture (elite culture), corpus (of the author's works), and
structure (genre). Of course, each of these contexts is a complex text
in its own right. Thus, reading a text in its relation to multiple interacting
contexts is not a "final" solution to the problem of the indeterminacy
and conditionality of meaning. But it is a way of acknowledging the
problem, and it produces a more rigorous, openly "argued-for"
articulation of the contextual frame in which the historian will read
In some recent works, New Historicists and Cultural Materialists are
pushing beyond the first stages of rethinking conventional historiography
and developing programs of ideology critique. Ideology critique takes
a variety of forms and uses a variety of methods including deconstruction,
structural and post-structural Marxism, Feminism, and psychoanalytical
criticism. In my practice, ideology critique means subjecting texts
actively asserts the critic's radical, contestatory position (1) against
traditional "sedimented" interpretations of the text in order
to resist the pull of critical orthodoxy and institutional hegemony,
and (2) against the dominant ideology of the social formation in which
the text was produced. Ideology critique encompasses the Althusserian
concept of "symptomatic reading" as a practice which strives
to reveal and examine the discursive conditions which enable texts to
be (re)produced at particular historical moments (Althusser 1982, 253-4).
But the concept of ideology critique also acknowledges the specific
subjectivity of the critic. The critic must occupy a discursive site
which is radical and contestatory, I would argue, in order to produce
a true critique of existing scholarship. Otherwise, the critic is bound
to reproduce existing scholarship, a repitition of existing knowledge.
It is the discursive "site" occupied by the critic that empowers
and validates his or her critique, preventing a merely idiosyncratic
reading. For a more detailed introduction to this
concept, follow this link
to a lecture on Althusser by Mary Klages,
of the University of Colorado.