Manipulation theory implies a psychology, but this is all very well and good: Brecht taught us that under the right circumstances you could remake anybody over into anything you liked (Mann ist Mann), only he insisted on the situation and the raw materials fully as much or more than on the techniques. Perhaps the key problem about the concept, or pseudoconcept, of manipulation can be dramatized by juxtaposing it to the Freudian notion of repression.

The Freudian mechanism, indeed, comes into play only after its object – trauma, charged memory, guilty or threatening desire, anxiety – has in some way been aroused, and risks emerging into the subject’s consciousness. Freudian repression is therefore determinate, it has specific content, and may even be said to be something like a “recognition” of that content which expresses itself in the form of denial, forgetfulness, slip, mauvaise foi, displacement, substitution, or whatever. But of course the classical Freudian model of the work of art (as of the dream or the joke) was that of the symbolic fulfillment of the repressed wish, of a complex structure of indirection whereby desire could elude the repressive censor and achieve some measure of a to be sure purely symbolic satisfaction. A more recent “revision” of the Freudian model, however – Norman Holland’s The Dynamics of Literary Response – proposes a scheme more useful for our present problem, which is to conceive how (commercial) works of art can possibly be said to “manipulate” their publics. For Holland, the psychic function of the work of art must be described in such a way that these two inconsistent and even incompatible features of aesthetic gratification – on the one hand, its wish-fulfilling function, but on the other the necessity that its symbolic structure protect the psyche against the frightening and potentially damaging eruption of powerful archaic desires and wish-material – be somehow harmonized and assigned their place as twin drives of a single structure. Hence Holland’s suggestive conception of the vocation of the work of art to manage this raw material of the drives and the archaic wish or fantasy material. To rewrite the concept of a management of desire in social terms now allows us to think repression and wish-fulfillment together within the unity of a single mechanism, which gives and takes alike in a kind of psychic compromise or horse-trading, which strategically arouses fantasy content within careful symbolic containment structures which defuse it, gratifying intolerable, unrealizable, properly imperishable desires only to the degree to which they can again be laid to rest. 

Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture,” Social Text, No. 1 (Winter 1979), pp. 140-1 (x)

If we follow Debord’s argument about the omnipresence and the omnipotence of the image in consumer capitalism today, then if anything the priorities of the real become reversed, and everything is mediated by culture, to the point where even the political and the ideological “levels” have initially to be disentangled from their primary mode of representation which is cultural. Howard Jarvis, Carter, even Castro, the Red Brigade, Vorster, the Communist “penetration” of Africa, the war in Vietnam, strikes, inflation itself – all are images, all come before us with the immediacy of cultural representations of which one can be fairly certain that they are by a long shot not historical reality itself. If we want to go on believing in categories like social class, then we are going to have to dig for them in the insubstantial bottomless realm of cultural and collective fantasy. Even ideology has in our society lost its clarity as prejudice, false consciousness, readily identifiable opinion: our racism gets all mixed up with clean-cut black actors on tv and in commercials, our sexism has to make a detour through new stereotypes of the “women’s libber” on the network series. After that, if one wants to stress the primacy of the political, so be it: until the omnipresence of culture in this society is even dimly sensed, realistic conceptions of the nature and function of political praxis today can scarcely be framed. 

Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture,” Social Text, No. 1 (Winter 1979), pp. 139 (x)


“When we look at the legacy of Marcus Garvey we see again an emphasis on productivity. Marcus Garvey did not have to read Fredric Engels, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, even though he was familiar with them. He did not have to read those to recognize the intimate relationship between the means of production and the character of a people, to recognize the intimate relationship between the nature of the economic relationships of people and their social relationships with one another. It was apparent in his observing of our people across the world. He recognized, as we must recognize, that social character is to a significant extent determined by the nature of social labor relations. He recognized intuitively that the eating at lunch counters with our enemies, the sharing of hotels and beds with those enemies, the marrying and sleeping with their daughters, would not advance our interests ultimately as a people; that consuming their products would not rescue us from subordination. Ultimate freedom and independence is founded on production, upon the creation of employment, upon the creation of labor and the creation of products for our own consumption. When we look in the world today, we will see that the powerful nations and people are producing people, not consuming people. As I’ve often said, you cannot consume yourself into equality; You cannot consume yourself into power. Those nations who depend upon consumption will see as they consume the product of others and do not produce themselves, that they will be consumed by others.”

- Dr. Amos Wilson, Afrikan Centered Consciousness Versus The New World Order, Garveyism In The Age Of Globalism.

[…] in modernism, the hermetic text remains, not only as an Everest to assault, but also as a book to whose stable reality you can return over and over again. In mass culture, repetition effectively volatilizes the original object – the “text,” the “work of art” – so that the student of mass culture has no primary object of study. The most striking demonstration of this process can be witnessed in our reception of contemporary pop music of whatever type – the various kinds of rock, blues, country western, or disco. I will argue that we never hear any of the singles produced in these genres “for the first time”; instead, we live a constant exposure to them in all kinds of different situations, from the steady beat of the car radio through the sounds at lunch, or in the work place, or in shopping centers, all the way to those apparently full-dress performances of the “work” in a nightclub or stadium concert or on the records you buy and take home to hear. This is a very different situation from the first bewildered audition of a complicated classical piece, which you hear again in the concert hall or listen to at home. The passionate attachment one can form to this or that pop single, the rich personal investment of all kinds of private associations and existential symbolism which is the feature of such attachment, are fully as much a function of our own familiarity as of the work itself: the pop single, by means of repetition, insensibly becomes part of the existential fabric of our own lives, so that what we listen to is ourselves, our own previous auditions. 

Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture,” Social Text, No. 1 (Winter 1979), pp. 137-8 (x)

March 1945 issue

cover art by Gloria Stoll

Day Keene, “ If the Coffin Fits— “ (Tom Doyle/ Doc Egg)

Talmage Powell, “Kill Once—Kill Twice!“

Fredric Brown, “No Sanctuary”

Francis K. Allan, “The Twelve Deadly Eyes"

Stewart Toland, “No Grave to Hold Her"

John Kaylor Northway, “A Corpse for the Prodigal"

J. Lane Linklater, “Blind Date"

William R. Cox, “The Town That Murder Built"

Cyril Plunkett, “Keeper of the Killed" 

Seattle Mystery Bookshop

September 1943 issue

cover art by Gloria Stoll

Francis K. Allan, “Portrait of Murder"

Bruno Fischer, “Murder on Wheels"

Day Keene, “Corpse at the Wedding Feast"

Robert Arthur, “Satan’s Camera"

C. William Harrison, “Die, Damn You!“

Curtiss T. Gardner, “Sorcery in the Death House” (Val Vickers)

Fredric Brown, “Whispering Death"

Cyril Plunkett, “Side Door to Hell"

Seattle Mystery Bookshop

Materialism is in other words a reaction against religion, whereas realism is primarily a reaction against enthusiasm, or in more general terms against speculation itself, against any intellectual transcendence of the empirical present itself.
—  Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form, p. 367.