Praise. “Bret Easton Ellis is a very, very good writer [and] American Psycho is a beautifully controlled, careful, important novel. The novelist's function is to keep . PDF | This article examines how matter, in Ellis's scandalous novel, is read according to the texts that inform the yuppie's etiquette, labeling the. 9 INTRODUCTION Much has been said about Bret Easton Ellis's most famous and controversial book American Psycho. Since its debut, in March of
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Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho: a reader's guide AMERICAN PSYCHO A Novel by Bret Easton Ellis First published by Vintage Books, a division of. Speak English like an American - Noel's ESL eBook Library Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho (), when the title character, and the very definition. Tutkin Pro gradu -työssäni Bret Easton Ellisin romaania American Psycho () . but it was “his third novel American Psycho that established Ellis as a central.
The quote is almost entirely descriptive, but its closing indicates and there are other similar passages in the chapter that Bateman, the wealthy patriarchal figure of the threesome, is in charge of the two girls. What Price says, though, does not appear to reflect the opinion of a single person only, but the opinion of a whole class. In spite of having inner troubles, in the end of the paragraph he sums up what matters most to him: Page 49 The Wedding Date.
An important book. There is a fever to the life of this book that is, in my reading, unknown in American literature. Paperback —. Buy the Ebook: Add to Cart. Also in Vintage Contemporaries.
Also by Bret Easton Ellis. See all books by Bret Easton Ellis. Product Details. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Bateman incarnates all of these features. He cuts off a conversation to ask about the way he looks: Besides he breaks his own stream of thought as he is before a mirror to admire his reflection: My world might, so why not?
There really is no… other hand. In other words, the first-person narration may be seen as the most appropriate writing technique for a narcissist. By using it, Bateman makes his self-absorption pervasive both in content and in form. This does not mean that his narcissistic narrative resembles that discussed by Linda Hutcheon.
She is interested in metafictional accounts, that is to say, her focus is on self-reflective, self-reflexive, self-informing, auto-referential and auto- representational narratives HUTCHEON, , p. What I am claiming is that, for a protagonist who is self-centered, self-absorbed, no narrative form would be suitable for his story other than autodiegesis.
For this reason, the first-person pronoun should not stand for a deictic word alone. It should be also taken as an urge to get attached as tight as possible to a class whose concerns lie only in its members. Bateman holds a David Onica because he must set visibly his position within the social group he partakes. He accordingly delivers long descriptions of designer clothes and cutting-edge technology every now and again because he has to struggle for recognition.
This statement resonates with a paradoxical characteristic of narcissism highlighted by Christopher Lasch. In a broader sense, narcissism is self- preservation, a protection to shield individuals from those aforementioned social horrors. So, narcissists tend to cram into themselves and deliberately choose not to depend upon others, not to keep personal ties. More than an act of complacency, Lasch claims this is an act of desperation p.
He is a lonely character. Although he has friends and a girlfriend, there are no close bonds between characters. Quite often, a character will identify another by a wrong name or mistake one person for another. In the novel, dialogues are as depthless as relationships, and characters hardly ever speak of feelings. Ironically, when Bateman makes an effort to bring up an emotional issue into the dialogue with his girlfriend Evelyn, she pays no attention to him: His beauty, intelligence, fashion conscience, and wealth must be recognized.
In a class ruled by materialistic traits, such dependence emerges whenever he labels costly brands. Moreover, his status-seeking disposition drags him to detailed descriptions of designer outfits: We, inexplicably, could not get reservations at Subjects, so Armstrong suggested this place. Armstrong is wearing a four-button double-breasted chalk-striped spread- collar cotton shirt by Christian Dior and a large paisley-patterned silk tie by Givenchy Gentleman.
His leather agenda and leather envelope, both by Bottega Veneta, lie on the third chair at our table, a good one, up front by the window. Armstrong just got back from the islands and has a very deep, very even tan, but so do I. Bateman may have understood that being part of a high class is a matter of quantity: For this, designer names build the steps which permit him to climb up.
Many of the labels mentioned in the novel may be unknown to us, may have lost their economic prestige, may not be as famous as they used to in the s, or may even not be on the market anymore. Nevertheless they will likely sound effectively sophisticated to our ears in the twenty-first century.
Bateman is stuck to his decade, but the labels might be not. Scattered all over the pages of the novel, the labels seem to transcend them. We thus take for granted that those designer names are classy, pricey and sophisticated. The more approvals Bateman receives, the tighter he will be held to his class. A narcissistic narrator will make use of brands to reach for such recognition. For him, the second half of the twentieth century was essentially a period of crisis — of Leninism, social democracy, welfare state.
All of the positive, or negative, expectations of future were swapped by a sense of ending — of ideology, art, social class. This point is, in fact, a break with the modern movement. Yet I agree with Jameson we should not confine postmodernism within a cultural frame. The phenomenon has obvious implications also on social grounds as theorists track its blooming down to a society whose technology, media and consumerism have become omnipresent.
On account of this connection, Jameson asserts that postmodernism takes place the moment contemporary aesthetics and commodity productions are mixed together p. This combination can be found all along American Psycho. Time and place are not set by mentioning dates, months, or cities alone. They reverberate excessively through references to celebrities, devices, movies, songs, clothing and brands. Totally responsive to a twentieth-century consumer society, Bateman can only grasp the surroundings by the logic of commodification.
James Annesley , p. Unlike Jay Gatsby, Bateman is a psycho, and he is all ears to a commercial culture. The sociologist states that, in a consumer society, not only things, but also people tend to be commodified, reified and turned into goods.
This is so because human interactions are to be conformed to standards quite similar to those interactions set by consumers and the consumed. In other words, coexisting tends to be chiefly an opportunity to promote oneself, in which constant reshaping and recasting is strongly needed as the aim is to reach the ability to be appealing and, consequently, desirable, or rather, consumable. To be appealing, then, is to hold a market value that may attract customers. As an example for his statement, Bauman brings up three cases, apparently apart from each other, in which the transformation of people into commodities can be spotted: The interest in building up a virtual profile and then posting personal information, exposing private moments and confessing them right down to the last details is the backbone of these websites: What Bauman notices is that this behavior effaces all of the boundaries between public and private fields, turning confession into a virtuous action, and accordingly snubbing any attitude which is not oriented to sheer visibility.
In so doing, the spending profile becomes the heart of the process. Being an enthusiastic shopper makes you valuable and then you will be treated well. For those who are immune to the appeals of marketing, the end of the line is where they are placed. The statement of the columnist for The Guardian, Nick Booth, is significant: The selection, all in all, sets the eager consumerists, those potential spenders, apart from those consumers who are less enthusiastic, the ones who are not easily coaxed by advertisements — or even those who, though willing to spend, cannot afford to buy the products or services being advertised.
Many workers immigrated into England to fill low-skilled, or non-skilled, positions. Consequently, all the others will be kept away. Taking this example, the sociologist emphasizes that these rules are backed by the same principles of the market: The three cases prove that the social network users as they expose their profiles and confess their intimate experiences, willing to be seen and somewhat known , the low-ranked customers as they struggle for a higher purchasing power in order to be better treated as well as the immigrants as they need to be the brightest to obtain a visa must recast, promote and commodify themselves.
All of them somehow need to be skillful enough to increase their value and then become appealing to be chosen. To sum up, they must promote a product, that is to say, themselves: The test they need to pass in order to be admitted to the social prizes they covet demands them to recast themselves as commodities: Last accessed on February 28th, For Patrick Bateman, there is no difference between goods and people as he consumes, eats and destroys both the same way.
Goods and people can be used up at will. Furthermore, they can be conveniently thrown away with no regrets. His consumerist ethos and materially-oriented disposition do not allow him to break through the boundaries of the marketing appeal. Thus, he can only deliver endless lists of devices, meals, apparel, shoes, cosmetic lotions, hairstyles, haircuts, and brands: Wherever we are or whichever activity we do, we have been frequently besieged by products and services being offered all day and night long.
In American Psycho, characters become flesh and bone ads, as if they were permanently placed at store windows or supermarket shelves, ready to be purchased and consumed when one wishes.
The long and descriptive lists provided by Bateman tragically highlight the new order in a consumer society: Strategies to offer commodities are plentiful and diverse. According to Bauman, within such strategies, what is implicitly offered is a fulfillment of happiness. In a society populated by eager consumers, being unhappy is not an option. Consumption then is believed to be the path towards a happy lifestyle. Nevertheless, this happiness which is expected to be fulfilled by the time a product is purchased is always short-lived.
Hence, a product must have its value depreciated as soon as it is marketed, in order to be replaced by another. Such strategy strives to convince that any desire will only be granted as long as an up-to-date product is bought; the previous product must be forever rejected: In a rush of consumption, the protagonist compulsively use up beggars, prostitutes, immigrants, a homosexual, a child, a dog and also a member of his own social class, Paul Owen.
The city Leonia is not known by what it produces. What makes the city notorious is what it casts away: I own one. The crucial line that splits Bateman and Leonians apart is that the former consumes humans just like he consumes products. As the torture unfolds, he decides to videotape his vicious act.
While he describes detailedly all the pain that he inflicts upon the two girls, he also describes the camera and its features. These simultaneous descriptions objectify the women, turning them into commodities, just like the one described in this segment: These scenes are sheer examples of a protagonist who is incapable of interacting with characters without commodifying them.
As for that, he lists goods, stresses their brands and features, narrates murders, describes inflictions, and consumes his victims. The huge new television set is on in one of the rooms, first blaring out The Patty Winters Show, whose topic today is Human Dairies, then a game show, Wheel of Fortune, and the applause coming from the studio audience sounds like static each time a new letter is turned.
This is my reality. Everything outside of this is like some movie I once saw. For the protagonist, there is no other way to act, no other path to find happiness, except through in a nonstop consumption: Therefore, he buys, uses, tortures, eats, kills, and discards them. He does so serially, in a cyclical violent movement. Bateman realizes that there is no way to escape from a hopeless New York, from his yuppie decade — that red-letter sign tells him that an exit is not available.
Nonetheless, he does not want to opt out. Bateman ultimately desires to escape from that Dantesque purgatory, where souls are worthless, are not admired, and for this reason they are rejected by heaven and hell. The theological geography sets heaven above, hell below, and the purgatory in between. After judgment, good souls go up and reach paradise whereas bad souls go down and fall into damnation. Bateman is wealthy, well-educated, and handsome. He belongs to the upper class, yet I should say his social status does not appear to have set him higher, that is, in paradise.
In fact, he is halfway through the climbing. To achieve recognition and admiration, he has stepped into a competition, fighting to be allowed to enter heaven, and consequently escape hell. This analogy between purgatory and competition makes more sense once we replace the theological ground with the socioeconomic.
Bateman inhabits a consumer society where objects are sometimes more valuable than human beings. The rewards of the heaven the protagonist wishes to enter are all material in tandem with the social standards he aspires to. For Jean Baudrillard, a fundamental change has occurred in our time: The theorist draws an appropriate analogy by asserting that, as a child becomes a wolf by growing up among wolves or, similarly, I would say, as a wild animal becomes docile as it is taken from the woods , by living among objects, human beings perform just as they do: We are living the period of the objects: Today, it is we who are observing their birth, fulfillment, and death; whereas in all previous civilizations, it was the object, instrument, and perennial monument that survived the generations of men.
The profusion of commodities, advertising and brands has contributed to a perception of products as pervasive and ubiquitous. In this sense, Baudrillard dialogues with Zygmunt 20 These precepts can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican website: Once again, the character Timothy Price is to be taken as an example, not only because his surname carries one of the words which rule commodities, but also because his performance exposes a commodified attitude.
While talking to Bateman, Price complains he is not making much money. He lists his qualities and describes himself as something essential to society: What do I do? Go back to Los Angeles? Not an alternative. Timothy Price acknowledges this relationship and concludes that a creative young man, highly motivated and highly skilled as he is must not be expendable.
Timothy believes he is indispensable. He is a pricey product, so he should be valued as such. The amount of money he must make needs to be as high as his qualities. The words he uses during the complaint justify this point of view: The language uttered consequently has to emulate commercial terms.
Timothy Price and Patrick Bateman belong to the same social stratum. Needless to say, their attitudes are alike. As discussed in the previous chapter, Patrick is a serial killer who is completely attuned to consumerism. He is surrounded by commodities, brands and mass production. The famous slogan Baudrillard dubs outmoded still lives on in the novel. Why, for the matter, do I want to please Courtney?
But a physically superior, near-perfect-looking shallow bitch, and that can override anything, except maybe bad breath or yellow teeth, either of which is a real deal-breaker. Bateman is home with a model named Daisy he and his friends met at a restaurant. While she lies in bed, Bateman scans her: Her torso is completely tan and muscular.
The protagonist is aware that being concerned exclusively about the body is shallow, but this does not bother him. In another scene, as he is about to leave the office for a meeting, he reveals he had spent the night out moving from restaurant to restaurant, had a hangover because of a cocaine binge, has been chewing Nuprin pills, and has already taken two Valium tablets since he woke up.
He observes then that his skin, still tan and smooth, could not be ruined by his addiction. In spite of having inner troubles, in the end of the paragraph he sums up what matters most to him: When well-defined stomachs, stiff muscles, tan torsos, white skin, and slicked-back hairstyle come to the fore, a message is being sent, the same which is passed on while brands are listed.
The protagonist belongs to the upper class and must look like its members to continue being part of it — it is paramount to be alike. Timothy Price, Patrick Bateman and the other yuppies, by exposing their assets, namely, their bodies and brands, keep on feeding a society of objects, of consumption, of humans as commodities. Baudrillard , p.
Consuming implies ultimately to acquire a product because its value corresponds to a certain social hierarchy. A David Onica painting, as discussed, fulfills an economic purpose, not an aesthetic one. Consumer needs are not so aimed at an object then, but at the value an object can embody.
What is being brought up here is an ideal of conformity, a principle of equivalence. As Baudrillard highlights: Evian water, Oliver Peoples glasses, straight teeth and a well-shaped body can put them back on the right path, for those members are valued in accordance with commodities and physical features. It is in this arena that Bateman competes. It is a terrain where brands and good looks are weapons, where contestants lose for being ugly and poor. Anyone who goes off this path is labeled unnecessary — it is sent straight to hell.
It is important to underline, however, that Bateman is also struggling not to fall down, that is, not to descend to a lower position than he is now.
Once he declines, he will be marginalized and put aside. Although I would not say she is wrong in asserting so, I contend she is not entirely right. In a scene, Patricia Worrell, a blond model, invites Patrick for a concert, but he turns down the invitation because he does not like live music. Determined to persuade Patricia to give up the concert as well, Bateman lies to her by saying he has a reservation for the Dorsia.
After Patricia is convinced, Bateman panics as he knows how hard it is to reserve a table at this place: The instant after I hang up on Patricia I dash across the room and grab the Zagat guide and flip through it until I find Dorsia. With trembling fingers I dial the number.
I put the phone on Constant Redial and for the next five minutes nothing but a busy signal, faithful and ominous, repeats itself across the line. Nonetheless, his position is not high enough to allow him to book a table at a restaurant as trendy as Dorsia.
In reality, he panics as he recognizes that there are some commodities he cannot reach yet. Dorsia reminds him that he must keep battling for admiration, must keep fighting for approval.
There is at least one that is beyond his reach. One of these failures takes place when Patrick looks for a restaurant to have dinner with his brother Sean. He just talked to Brin, the owner, and reserved a table at nine. My mind is a mess. He was mistaken for taking for granted that the Dorsia was as unreachable for Sean as it is for him. The restaurant Dorsia epitomizes the commodities the protagonist does not yet have the permission to consume. Even though he wishes for it eagerly, he cannot get a table.
Bateman knows that he has to climb higher to stop being ridiculed by a restaurant worker. This is why he competes: Bateman, on the other hand, may not know that this is quite possibly a strategy of a system that feeds off consumerism to be alive and well.
Some commodities must remain unreachable even to the wealthy ones, thus keeping competition ever running. This competition, it is worth saying, has nothing to do with purchasing power. Bateman is rich, and so are his yuppie friends. What else is left to earn from a consumer society by the time one achieves a high purchasing power?
The matter the protagonist is unable to come to terms is not financial. I have argued that, in American Psycho, people acquire an expendable status; killings, therefore, turning into the final result of a boundless act of consumption.
In this respect, any character in the novel becomes a potential victim. Elizabeth Young , p. I believe Young makes such point mostly because of the assassination of Paul Owen. In addition, claiming that humans equal commodities, as I have, does not seem to be enough to respond to this question: For this matter, I argue that the answer may be found in the twofold competition in which Patrick Bateman is engaged.
In a sense, he resembles the legendary Narcissus: In another, he incarnates the new narcissist defined by Christopher Lasch. This new Narcissus still scrutinizes his reflection in the mirror, but he does so less for self-admiration than in search of flaws, fatigue and decay: Dorsia is not the only moment the victorious image Patrick tries to convey is blemished.
This image is also stained in the scene he shows off his new business card. It is worth noticing how adverbs and adjectives are significantly intensified: The object that he had hoped would serve to captivate others and enhance his confidence conversely becomes the element that tarnishes his image and frustrates his expectation to be admired.
A less attractive business card impedes Patrick to move upwards, making him feel that the heaven he aims has been relocated farther away. For the same reason, I should side against the third. Lasch argues that competition was put through a lot of criticism in the s, especially because Americans connected rivalry to annihilation.
Conventions that both exalted opponents and limited their behavior, such as cooperation, compassion, discipline, team spirit and fair play, became obsolete and collapsed. Due to marketing and media, competing turned into a cut- throat picture, ultimately resulting in images of slaughter: The intrusion of the market into every corner of the sporting scene, however, re- creates all the antagonisms characteristic of late capitalist society.
With the free- agent draft, the escalation of athletic salaries, and the instantaneous stardom conferred by the media on athletic success, competition among rival organizations has degenerated into a free-for-all.
LASCH, , p. As winning entails elimination, these narcissists avoid confrontation unless the tension between rivalry and cooperation is adequately balanced. This evasive action does not apply to Bateman. He is the narcissist who competes.
The comparing of business cards was a dispute he began. The protagonist is a competitor who has internalized the notion that superiority can be achieved only through destruction.
Even though his confidence has been shaken, he keeps struggling to step up. So, he must destroy those who stand on his way. Paul Owen is the yuppie that Bateman believes has been definitely obstructing his progress.
Like the restaurant Dorsia, the Fisher account can be taken as another yet inaccessible element, something that, once reached, would allow Patrick to climb up the steps toward a higher position. But Bateman eyes some superiority on Owen that consequently disturbs him: Besides, he can tell somebody does not belong to his group by examining the looks.
Stash, in turn, differs deeply from the other guests: They are most likely those not to worry about; hence it is easy to ignore their presence. It would be all pointless, though. He is sure that whatever the couple did they could never join his class and be like him. This same expertise conversely leads Patrick to notice that Paul Owen is an opponent. For his four-colored tie, his perfectly trimmed hair, and the account he operates, Owen cannot be ignored.
This is the reason why this yuppie is murdered. Daniel Cojocaru similarly posits, as I do, that Bateman is engaged in a competition that demands elimination: In the novel, yuppies can barely distinguish each other; names are said but never confirmed.
Paul Owen, for example, believes that Bateman is someone else. There is a logical explanation for such confusion, not surprisingly supported on visual and material traits: Patrick fears that others may suddenly take his position as a yuppie, but Cojocaru disbelieves that the ex-centric can be a direct threat to it. Nonetheless, I disagree they do not represent a real menace. What he ultimately fears is to be marginalized, which equals descending into hell.
The other, in a broader sense, is never ourselves. It can be said, then, that deictic elements shape the self: The motto that might support the foundations of identity when it comes to judge the other is the one that states that similarities are positive and differences are negative.
Although these judgments should have been treated as relative, they have become set, fixed, unalterable, for the sake of a discourse that often enhances what is white, male, heterosexual, wealthy. The outcome is that these very traits have been turned into given, natural, and immovably positive qualities. Consequently, any quality that differs from those traits, namely black, female, homosexual, poor, is regarded as negative.
Bill Ashcroft, Linda Hutcheon, and also Arjun Appadurai, to name but a few, are theorists who have emphasized that the other is repeatedly pictured as primitive, barbaric, exotic, irrational, and cannibal in order to privilege one of the halves of the dichotomy. Such picture painted this way has propagated a point of view that gazes nothing but white, male, and rich as normal and positive.
In The Tempest, the troubled relationship between the characters Caliban and Prospero recalls the clash between slave and master. Prospero, duke of Milan, is sent to an island, and once there he meets Caliban, the only inhabitant of that place.
Being skilled in supernatural powers, the duke forces Caliban to obey him and to be his servant. The word chosen to describe Caliban21 is as derogatory as mooncalf22, which stands for i a congenially grossly deformed and mentally defective person; ii a foolish person; and iii a person who spends time idly daydreaming.
Similarly, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, despite his kind disposition, the protagonist Quasimodo is depicted by city dwellers as a monstrous, hideous, and devilish being. Because of his physical features, Quasimodo23 is seen as incomplete, that is, he is not supposed to be seen as whole human, and then he can never be fully accepted.
In a well- known scene in the novel, Quasimodo, in love with Esmeralda, tries to make her understand the difference between him and Captain Phoebus, the one Esmeralda fell in love with. Quasimodo, thus, places in her bedroom an ordinary vase full of fresh and lively flowers and another vase made of crystal with withered flowers in it.
The moment Esmeralda sees them both, she takes the lifeless flowers out of the crystal vase and holds them tight against her chest. After all of his gentle behavior and thoughtful attitudes, Quasimodo is still unwanted. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff feels just as disappointed by the time he falls in love with Catherine. Like the hunchback, Heathcliff is also punished for his traits. Despite being brought up by the Earnshaws for he was left behind by his parents when he was a child , he is constantly ridiculed for his dark skin and gipsy backgrounds.
Hindley Earnshaw treats him harshly. Moreover, Catherine refuses to marry him, for such a bond could taint her family name. Quasimodo thus would stand not only for Low Sunday, but also for a half-formed or almost-done being. These examples illustrate the recurrently detractive characterization of the other in fictional writings. Be it appearance, social status, gender, skin color or nationality, the other is molded to contrast with what is in the center, that is, white, male, wealthy, and rational.
Those who deviate from this norm become off-centered, are labeled ex-centric and then are pushed into the margin. The ones that must be pushed are the Calibans and the Quasimodos, the Heathcliffs and the Jeanne Duvals, all of whom are exotic, black, poor, misshapen, and barbaric, to say the least.
The discourses uttered about them are frequently insulting, founded on negative adjectives. The characters I have just pointed out do not partake in American Psycho evidently. But they share the same traits with many of those Patrick Bateman victimizes. American Psycho is set in one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world. These are the ones cast economically aside and, thus, regarded as ex-centric. They are at the margin, too far from Patrick to be worried about, so much so that some might think this margin cannot threaten him.
In the novel, oftentimes they are compelled to coexist. We readers at first cannot understand why he does so, but later we are told that those numbers refer to the quantity of homeless people he has seen on the streets on their way to the party: He supposes that poverty is self-made; hence, the homeless are not to be assisted, a conclusion that truly recalls an interview delivered by Ronald Reagan at the end of his second term Unwilling to admit that the Reaganomics were responsible for the issues of homelessness, Reagan declares that some people do choose to live on the streets.
He bases his claim on the number of shelters cities offer as well as on the job ads newspapers publish to make his point. He ignores, nevertheless, problems with mobility and the qualifications many lack to hold a job. The main counterargument provided by the columnist is, above all, economic, not volitional: What Price says, though, does not appear to reflect the opinion of a single person only, but the opinion of a whole class.
Donald Kimball interrogates the protagonist about Owen, but no agent comes into the narrative to inquire about the ex-centric victims. There is a sentence, by the end of the novel, which I think that validates this tendency to division. While in a cab, Bateman happens to be recognized as a killer by the driver, Abdullah, who points a gun at him and does not let him go.
My mouth tastes metallic, then it gets worse. My vision: The absence of a spatial gap causes yuppies and ex-centrics to coexist — that dome has no physicality to hold the other outside. So, they stumble, bump, clash into one another, this encounter inciting distress, tortures and murders: The protagonist can barely narrate the accounts without referring to beggars or immigrants.
Equally, Timothy Price complains harshly about the pervasiveness of the homeless. A sentence from Divine Comedy opens up the novel, but this is not the only work of fiction27 mentioned overtly in American Psycho.
The lines by Dante set the scene. The title by Hugo reinforces the presence of the other. This might make readers think of a proportion: It should be noted that some characters have contrasting attitudes towards difference.
Evelyn, for example, as she believes people do not diverge at all, is incapable of acknowledging the existence of ex-centrics. Through her eyes, the other is nothing but an invisible being, nonexistent, because her gaze does not transcend her yuppie class.
The protagonist, on the other hand, can see them all. The ex-centrics are all over his narrative, omnipresent, in close touch with him. The puzzle is about why the relatively small numbers that give the word minority its most simple meaning and usually imply political and military weakness do not prevent minorities from being objects of fear and of rage.
Why kill, torture, or ghettoize the weak? These opposite terms have become universally connected to a concept of modern nation-state, which implies ideas about nations, populations, representation, and enumeration.
They have also acquired a deictic status since their existence is interdependent: Besides, the moment an identity believes to be representative of the purity of the national whole, it longs to eliminate the potential smudge. Their very presence warns him of the possibility of losing the contest. Their ex- centricity has frightened him, so that he has become a predatory serial killer. The first murder described minutely and graphically takes place when Patrick leaves a black-tie night party.
Right after he sees it, he meets Al, a black homeless man who sleeps at the doorway of a store, next to a shopping cart full of newspapers, bottles and cans. I was laid off. Who do work? It is actually equivalent to saying that one is irreversibly and permanently excluded, refused, superfluous, useless for any job, and hence sentenced to a never-ending economic inability. Subsequently, this inability leads to a rejection, a marginalization.
In a consumer culture, a person is supposed to consume. The one who cannot come up to this expectation is to be relegated to ex-centricity. Bateman knows it better than anyone else for his credit card has split in two due to overuse: He plays, for this reason, the quintessential consumer, the extreme spender, and competes to keep this position.
Unable to be a consumer, Al plays the expendable, the disposable, a role which outrages yuppies. In a time of economic uncertainty, of workers being laid off, Al represents the dichotomous half the protagonist abhors. Bateman really wants that dome to grow thicker whenever he copes with the other, and even signalizes a want of being followed. In a later scene, he assumes he can easily coax a support out of his secretary Jean for his discriminatory posture: I want to add, nonetheless, that this process of gentrification in the novel only becomes lethal because Patrick realizes he may happen to be gentrified as well.
Immigrants are the ones to make it clear that walls can be torn down and borderlines can be dissolved BAUMAN, , p. In American Psycho, the cabdrivers are foreigners: He thus roams until he stops at a restaurant doorway, topples the delivery biker who is coming out, and murders him: Bateman aims his blow at an immigrant, but hits another. This mistake, however, is not to be regarded as a setback. Whether Japanese or Chinese Patrick cannot even tell the difference , both are Asians and must be killed for merely being so.
His assassinations appear to be democratic if taken as a whole. In a closer reading, though, he has many unequivocal targets. The third type of ex-centricity Bateman fears is homosexuality. Once a patriarchal culture obtrudes a narrow view on gender, only two options are left to be chosen: Preconceived notions fill up the narrative all along.
Preconception is what makes the protagonist fearful of anything that might clash with his sexual norm. So, he goes back to his apartment and tortures a dog to death. Preconception is also what makes the protagonist go away from the Yale Club after an inglorious attempt to kill Luis Carruthers, his yuppie workmate. In humorously surprising lines, we readers find out that Carruthers is homosexual: His right hand reaches up and tenderly touches the side of my face.
The critic highlights that Patrick fails to choke Luis, but he is, on the other hand, very skillful at many other crimes, including the murders of an old homosexual and his dog, in another scene graphically described.
Carruthers is a yuppie, so he should be homophobic, not homosexual. Significant evidence of the vilification of the female sex can be spotted the moment Patrick meets the prostitute Christie whose real name is kept unsaid.
This metonymic move, from the person to the body, then from the body to the meat, has indeed pushed to the foreground a system that, dominated by economic structures, has become powerful enough to objectify anything and everything ANNESLEY, , p.
In so doing, this move has consequently unveiled a protagonist who is driven all along the novel to consume through annihilation. In prostitution, Bateman appears to have found the key to join commodification and murder together, for he has had the chance to literally purchase an ex-centric for consumption.
In other words, he pays to torture, kill and eat prostitutes. The new narcissist depends on people for admiration, otherwise no recognition of status will take place. As for that, it is symptomatic of his narcissism the three questions he asks Christie and Sabrina, the other prostitute for which he pays.
In sore need of recognition, Bateman asks if the two girls wonder what he does: When a negative response is offered, he gets irritated. The funny line in this scene is that Sabrina takes the firm for a shoe store, making Patrick angrier: A shoe outlet? In order to be victorious, he asks two more questions whose responses he is sure will be negative: Prostitutes are ex-centric, dragged to the outskirts of the system by economic restraints.
The girls, ill-fated and poor, are neither able to afford traveling around nor to have good education.
Christie and Sabrina can say nothing but a head shaking movement and a glare to respond. Only when the protagonist triumphs over those women, by imposing his patriarchal superiority, are they allowed entering his bedroom to satisfy his sexual and deadly demands. Ex-centrics walk all over Manhattan, their pervasive faces are on the streets, and their presence at restaurant doorways cannot be ignored.
Bateman is aware that the other is incapable of taking his position, but he certainly knows that, once he gives up competing, he himself will convert into an ex-centric. Eager to reach out for heaven, Bateman struggles for victories over whoever blocks his way up. Afraid of being pushed to the margin, he murders whoever tries to pull him down.
The narcissism Patrick holds appeals for admiration. The fierce contention he is in implies killing in series. For an American psycho, competing really means annihilating. I will not go as far as to demonstrate how miscellaneous American Psycho might possibly be in terms of genre, but I would like to suggest that it envelopes a certain amount of modes or categories, including that of postmodernism, of blank fiction, of horror fiction and of the grotesque.
The most prominent motif of American Psycho is brand name. The postmodern phenomenon I recall it from chapter 1 features the connection between aesthetics and commodities.
In the novel, the very use of trademarks to set time and space, as well as to describe characters, signposts a leading role for commodities. Because Patrick Bateman cannot break through the limits of his class, brands affect both the content and the form of his narrative. But, if I am to approach the novel from a postmodern perspective, I initially must clarify what I mean by postmodernism.
Given its broadness and generalizing tendency which makes it hard to grasp at times , the phenomenon has been regarded as problematic. Some theorists tend to frown upon this classification because of its rough notion — a temporal orientation alone should not be enough to conceive an entire circumstance.
Furthermore, postmodernism is insistently explained in accordance with manifold stylistic trends, such as a mixture of levels, forms and styles, a full praise for copies and repetition, a dissolution of commitment into irony, conscious revelation of the making of the work, a play of surfaces, and an open refusal of history GITLIN, , These understandings have raised contentions, and some scholars have gladly accepted the phenomenon whereas others have denied it altogether. Postmodern theorists, however, appear to agree with the fact that this literary phenomenon does not engender any radically original condition.
By reason of this degree, I tend to side with the concept of postmodernism provided by Linda Hutcheon. On the first pages of her Poetics of Postmodernism , Hutcheon immediately posits that postmodern fiction is to be regarded as a contradictory attitude.
In other words, postmodern fiction deconstructs what has been constructed, decentralizes what has been centralized, and dislocates what has been located. By contrast, postmodern fiction ostensively disavows omniscience, omnipresence and rationality as aesthetic devices because these qualities require a dominating voice which is ultimately delusive. What happens in postmodern narratives, then, is the replacement of the traditional and pervasive third-person narrator, whose tale is told in the historical and mimetic past tense, by the restricted or heterogeneous voice of a homodiegetic character, or characters.
This confrontation demands a reexamination of the past and the consequent realization that historical discourses are not given or natural, but rather constructed; self-reflexivity determines a disclosure of the fictional process through narrators who emphasize the falseness of their work. Thus, intertextuality and metafiction definitely become distinctive characteristics of this genre. Even though these intertextual dialogues help me justify my point, because constant intertextuality is a postmodern strategy, American Psycho does not fall under the category of historiographic metafiction.
In this respect, antonymic doubles are blended together to be put into question. In American Psycho, the clearest deconstruction of dichotomies takes place in the mix of fine art and popular art.
Bret Easton Ellis violates the judicative division of arts as he presents three segments from different sources: Nevertheless, such persons as the composer of these Notes not only exist in our society, but indeed must exist, considering the circumstances under which our society has generally been formed. I have wished to bring before the public, somewhat more distinctly than usual, one of the characters of our recent past. He represents a generation that is still living out its days among us.
But, concomitantly, it expresses the belief in the contingent existence of a person just like Bateman, acting just like he does. Unlike Bateman, however, that narrator seems to be more conscious of his stupid choices: But I repeat for the hundredth time, there is one case, one only, when man may consciously, purposely, desire what is injurious to himself, what is stupid, very stupid — simply in order to have the right to desire for himself even what is very stupid and not to be bound by an obligation to desire only what is sensible.
The second epigraph is taken from an article by Brian Dumaine, published in the magazine Fortune28 in One of the major mistakes people make is that they think manners are only the expression of happy ideas. There's a whole range of behavior that can be expressed in a mannerly way. That's what civilization is all about -- doing it in a mannerly and not an antagonistic way.
One of the places we went wrong was the naturalistic, Rousseauean movement of the Sixties in which people said, ''Why can't you just say what's on your mind? If we followed every impulse, we'd be killing one another. The last epigraph is the verse found in the song Nothing but Flowers, by Talking Heads. Fortune Magazine, They foreshadow, in reality, that highly narcissistic environment, where things are falling apart, but nobody realizes it.
Easton Ellis, as he joins together sections from high and low culture, signalizes his intention to blur dichotomies and question divisions. Their very reference, over and over, implies that subversion which distinguishes postmodern fiction.
Another subversive element of the novel is pornography. The so-called vulgar words for genitals which commonly mark pornographic texts appear throughout.
Add to this the fact that the descriptions of his sexual activities are as extremely detailed as the descriptions of his tortures and murders, and one might regard as some have done American Psycho as a worthless work of low art.
According to Ian Frederik Moulton, pornography is usually related to cultural productions whose sexual representations are explicit which would distinguish it from eroticism, considered to be implicit in its manners.
But the theorist goes on saying that pornography is also both a relative and subjective category. In this case, the sexual explicitness of a photograph, movie, painting or text becomes, to a great extent, culturally determined.
Moulton argues, nonetheless, that studies have proved that pornographic discourses are not immutable; they have actually a history of their own. In The Pornographic Imagination, Sontag breaks pornography into three perspectives: The essayist chooses the third one, on which she builds up her arguments. For this reason, they can only comprehend pornographic narrative as a text that triggers nonverbal fantasies whose aim is to arouse sexual affects; as for that, language plays only an instrumental role.
Such vehement outcry does not apply to current criticism in general. As she poses: In American Psycho, the graphic depiction of pornographic scenes has to do with a consumer society in which individuals are visually-oriented. The protagonist lives within a simulacrum of the real, always mediated by billboards, magazines, talk shows and the gory and pornographic films he constantly watches.
The graphicality of these scenes, besides, deliberately questions the limits of literary representations. Bateman does not spare us from his vulgar language at all: Tired of balancing myself, I fall off Christie and lie on my back, positioning Sabrina's face over my stiff, huge cock which I guide into her mouth with my hand, jerking it off while she sucks on the head.
I pull Christie toward me and while taking her gloves off start kissing her hard on the mouth, licking inside it, pushing my tongue against hers, past hers, as far down her throat as it will go. I push Christie down past my waist to help Sabrina suck my cock off and after the two of them take turns licking the head and the shaft, Christie moves to my balls which are aching and swollen, as large as two small plums, and she laps at them before placing her mouth over the entire sac, alternately massaging and lightly sucking the balls, separating them with her tongue.
Christie moves her mouth back to the cock Sabrina's still sucking on and they start kissing each other, hard, on the mouth, right above the head of my dick, drooling saliva onto it and jacking it off. Christie keeps masturbating herself this entire time, working three fingers in her vagina, wetting her clit with her juices, moaning.
This turns me on enough to grab her by the waist and swivel her around and position her cunt over my face, which she gladly sits on. Clean and pink and wet and spread, her clit swollen, engorged with blood, her cunt hangs over my head and I push my face into it, tonguing it, craving its flavor, while fingering her asshole.
Sabrina is still working on my cock, jacking off the base of it, the rest of it filling her mouth, and now she moves on top of me, her knees resting on either side of my chest, and I tear off her teddy so that her ass and cunt are facing Christie, whose head I force down and order to "lick them, suck on that clit" and she does.
Firstly, the pornographic scenes in the novel carry a great degree of linguistic crudity. It is not that the sentences here play an instrumental role, but they are notably primarily descriptive, absent of any stylistic ornamentation.
For this reason, the focus moves from the language to the descriptions thoroughly. Bateman hires two prostitutes with whom he has sex. All along the chapter, Christie and Sabrina hardly ever act by themselves because they frequently have the protagonist telling them what to do: When the sexual intercourse finally starts, the crudely descriptive narration, steadily flat, brings to the fore the orders whenever they appear.
The quote is almost entirely descriptive, but its closing indicates and there are other similar passages in the chapter that Bateman, the wealthy patriarchal figure of the threesome, is in charge of the two girls. In the novel, pornography is another element to violate the concept of high art. The explicitness of the scenes pushes the frames of literature somewhat further away from standardized notions.
And it does so while the narrative reveals how misogynistic a character can be. I would like to debate yet another element installed in the novel to subvert conventions. As Donald Kimball appears, he is supposed to be as rational as C.
Auguste Dupin or Sherlock Holmes. Disappointingly, his flawed demeanor by the end of the chapter dismantles all of the expectations we readers might have for an ingenious solution of the case and the arrest of the criminal. The first genre accommodates two stories in it: The second genre, the thriller, intentionally unites the story of the crime and the story of the investigation.
Unlike detective fiction, the thriller is not narrated in the form of memoirs. The murder does not precede the story being told; crime and investigation, in fact, coexist. Both the detective fiction and the thriller, even though having divergent typologies, still offer characters who emanate reasoning from their investigations. Donald Kimball, conversely, has nothing to do with C. Auguste Dupin. He actually mimics the investigators of anti-detective novels.
Bateman asks his secretary to say he is away, but the detective already knows Bateman is in the office: When Kimball enters the room, Bateman gets terrified: We readers learn that this may be the very opportunity for a character, a detective — a literary symbol of rationality and justice — to arrest the serial killer.
Nevertheless, anti-detective novels reject any teleology, any ratiocination that may lead to a final answer. Within the scope of postmodernism, teleological discourses are not possible. The answer, if provided, is always deceptive and non-totalizing. Postmodernism criticizes mimetic representations of reality. Reality, especially the one based on historical grounds, is thus delivered in multifaceted ways. It is fragmented, flexible, and ultimately plural. Postmodern attitudes for the phenomenon is essentially political necessarily urge a comprehension of reality or History as multiple, namely, as realities or histories.
Bateman lacks an identity of his own, looks like many other yuppies, and yet Donald Kimball keeps writing down on his notebook so as to find out a final answer.
Kimball is clueless insomuch as he cannot even notice his own failure as a traditionally rational detective. The absence of an alibi could evidence the murderer at last. However, the defense is offered by the notes Donald Kimball insistently takes: Kimball keeps smiling as he looks me over.
Kimball opens his book and for the first time gives me a slightly hostile look. The idea that a question, when it is asked, inevitably demands an answer just does not apply to the logic of pluralized realities.
Diving into deeper layers in order to deconstruct a convention does not ensure an answer in postmodern narratives. To put it differently, the reality which has just been deconstructed will not give birth to another, for a reality is not substituted; it is rather multiplied. His utterance is superficial, depthless, blank. For this matter, critics have called the novel a blank fiction.
In his book, Annesley lists four views critics have devised to deal with the the emergence of blank fictions. The themes in these narratives may result from: Annesley stands for postmodernism as the most coherent support for the existence of these fictions.
Reference to specific time and space, as in American Psycho, requires an analytical interplay between form and content. In blank fiction, themes are controversial, but the narrative is emotionlessly descriptive for the most part.