Rhetorical Regeneration and the Politics of Identity
Chapter 4. Heroism and Transformative Performativity
| 91 →
· 4 ·
HEROISM AND TRANSFORMATIVE PERFORMATIVITY
[Bernard Kornblum] had never had so naturally gifted a student, but his own discipline—which was really an escape artist’s sole possession—had not been passed along. He didn’t tell them what he now privately believed: that Josef was one of those unfortunate boys who become escape artists not to prove the superior machinery of their bodies against outlandish contrivances and the laws of physics, but for dangerously metaphorical reasons. Such men feel imprisoned by invisible chains—walled in, sewn up in layers of batting. For them, the final feat of autoliberation was all too foreseeable. (Chabon 37)
The feeling of imprisonment by “invisible chains” motivates the creation of heroism in Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work of fiction, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000), a contemporary novel set within the historical context of World War II and the Nazi Third Reich. In Chabon’s novel two Jewish cousins create a popular comic book hero, the Escapist, who repeatedly performs heroic feats of autoliberation. Escape functions not only as a motive for Jewish heroism, but also as its heuristic, embodied in both literal and “dangerously metaphorical” ways. By offering a therapeutic release from the trauma of Holocaust victimization, as Lee Behlman observes, Chabon’s narrative explores how both heroic creators as well as their creation transform themselves by self-reflexively casting attention toward their own liberatory performances.1 ← 91 | 92 →
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.