Laura Kipnis, Professor of Media Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Other people’s failures of self-knowledge are frequently the subject of passionate indignation. Scandals, downfall stories, and politicians’ sexual imbroglios, are always reliable venues for cultural fasci
nation. And they are in fact commodities—scandal is one of the few reliable growth industries at the moment. In turn they are also a mindset—the “gotcha” mentality is the emergent character type. Though the interest in other people’s self-deceptions, which do, so often, involve questions of sexual morality — from John Edward’s secret love-child story (a recent scandal example), to the Sartrean conception of bad faith itself (one of the more sustained philosophical forays into the subject) — invariably has a paradoxical quality, since the forms of intersubjectivity put into play are hardly self-evident and can never fail to know something about their own procedures.
Laura Kipnis, born in 1956, is professor of media studies at Northwestern University. She is a cultural theorist and critic and former video artist. Her present work focuses on the intersections of American politics, psyche, and the body. Her works include: Ecstasy Unlimited: On Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics (1993); Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America (1996); Against Love: A Polemic (2003); The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability (2006).