Wind Up: the Machine-Event of Tape

Turner, Lynn. 2007. Wind Up: the Machine-Event of Tape. Camera Obscura Feminism Culture and Media Studies, 22(164), pp. 112-135. ISSN 02705346 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The persistent appeal of performative speech acts — “I plead,” “I declare,” “You’re fired!” — may lie within the desire to do things with words, where those things are understood as the things that we meant to do. However, if this theological model were truly able to fully describe such acts then we could all happily leave the building, successfully able to excuse ourselves from giving the matter any further consideration. In spite of its rather wide spread airtime post–Judith Butler, the relation between speech and action still demands a longer conversation, yet — the irony is constitutive — one that may not reach a firm conclusion. In an essay on irony, Paul de Man makes a typically elliptical remark on the performative: “curiously” linking irony and history, he drolly concludes that this relation can “only be tackled when the complexities of what we would call performative rhetoric have been more thoroughly mastered.”1 Yet any impression that such mastery is possible, given time and application, has already been dispelled, since his essay earlier suggests that irony is always of understanding. Fully understanding the stories we tell, including history, thereby loses any sense of the straightforward. To pursue this infelicitous scheme of things, this essay will discuss a film, Tape (dir. Richard Linklater, US, 2001), that is wound around the performative aspects of language.

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Visual Cultures


April 2007Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 15:20

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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