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February 26, 2012

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Interesting reading. The New York setting of Shame is also reminiscent of American Psycho, another book/film concerned with the difficulties of meaningful relationships and how these can become substituted by transactions and commodities.

There are also some pointed contrasts. Patrick Bateman's "misbehaviour" is probably a fantasy, but one that reflects a seething misanthropy beneath the concern with status goods and etiquette. Brandon has committed himself to the consumption of fantasy. It's an almost heroic level of application, far exceeding his nominal (and opaque) work. I'm sure Umberto Eco could convincingly argue that Bateman is Catholic and Brandon Protestant.

I think in allowing "sex addiction" to feature in the press for the film, McQueen may be having a sly dig at our need to define everything as a form of consumption. Addiction has come to mean addiction to stuff.

He even inserts a subtle joke into an otherwise humourless film: when Brandon is settling down for a hard night in front of his laptop, while eating a chinese takeaway, the ringtone on his phone (which Sissy has just called) turns out to be Siouxsie and the Banshees' Hong Kong Garden, a song about a chinese takeaway.

Dick Pountain

"But what is it about sociological interpretations and meta-narratives that eludes critics?"

I think perhaps psychology is to neo-liberalism what sociology was to Keynesian social-democracy - its preferred mode of justification - with the result that sociology is now as taboo as Keynesian economics is among younger critics. Certainly the figure of the corduroy-clad, bearded sociologist is a favourite whipping-boy of rightwing commentators.

Dick Pountain

BTW, "The decline of America, and one might even say the West, is tied up with its failure to discover a legitimate limit to egoism" is an excellent thought.

Will

Well, Dick, my corduroy collection is a little slim at the moment, but my beard is pretty sociological.

Will

Thanks, that's interesting. You're right about Brandon's work. You kind of wonder how a character like that can have any job at all.

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