The Already Dead

The New Time of Politics, Culture, and Illness

The Already Dead

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 11 illustrations, 4 charts Published: April 2012

Author: Eric Cazdyn

Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

In The Already Dead, Eric Cazdyn examines the ways that contemporary medicine, globalization, politics, and culture intersect to produce a condition and concept that he names "the new chronic." Cazdyn argues that just as contemporary medicine uses targeted drug therapies and biotechnology to manage rather than cure diseases, global capitalism aims not for resolution but rather for a continual state of crisis management that perpetuates the iniquities of the status quo. Engaging critical theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, he explores the ways that crisis affects perceptions of time and denies alternative ways of being and thinking.

To resist the exploitative crisis state, which Cazdyn terms "the global abyss," he posits the concept of "the already dead," a condition in which the subject (medical, political, psychological) has been killed but has yet to die. Embracing this condition, he argues, allows for a revolutionary consciousness open to a utopian future. Woven into Cazdyn's analysis are personal anecdotes about his battle with leukemia and his struggle to obtain Canadian citizenship during his illness. These narratives help to illustrate his systemic critique, one that reconfigures the relationship between politics, capitalism, revolution, and the body.


“Cazdyn’s treatise is provocative, creative, and intelligent, calling for no less than a global revolution in action and ideology. Anchored in American events and history, it also has much to offer at the international level, and it will be a welcome companion to a wide range of curricula in the humanities, medical, and social sciences.”  — Lawrence C. Rubin, Journal of American Culture

“While it is not the only reason to read the book, it is the performance itself, the manner in which Cazdyn artfully combines three areas of study and speaks of them in parallel with one another, that is most valuable, no matter the discipline to which the reader belongs. Cazdyn invokes a system that is both utopian (in its impossible future – the American Dream is always just a step away) and pre-apocalyptic.”  — Valérie Savard, Science Fiction Film and Television

“Cazdyn covers a dizzying array of examples of the way this shift has become normalized–drawn from popular culture, cinema, and literature. One must pause to marvel at the facility with which he melds such analysis with moving personal essays.”  — Kurt Newman, U.S. Intellectual History Blog

“This book is a roller-coaster ride through a broad swath of cultural studies, psychoanalysis and the social sciences—from the relationship of the chronic subject to phenomena in capitalism, biopolitics and global formations, and from trends in medicine to descriptions of how death and life are brought together in the literary and psychoanalytic imagination.” — Sharon R. Kaufman, Culture, Health & Sexuality

The Already Dead comes at a critical moment in which the vulgarities of the global capitalist system have become increasingly difficult to conceal. The book’s approach, at once theoretical and personal, historical and cultural, seeks new modes of revolutionary consciousness that can destabilize both within and without the capitalist system so as to reconfigure everything.” — Adam Broinowski, Reviews in Cultural Theory

"Unlike some of his contemporaries, who couch the future in uncomfortable messianic terms, this is a work whose engagement with the thought of alterity defes the threat of transcendence in favor of a radical historical premise: the end, the cure—it’s already here." — Andrea Gyegne, Cultural Critique

"The Already Dead ends on that most perilous but enigmatic of notes, a deep breath suspended in the time and place of letting go while still holding on, bargaining between terrors and desires, tarrying with the fear of dying for long enough that, just maybe, it becomessomething else."  — Angela Mitropolous, Cultural Critique

"In The Already Dead, Eric Cazdyn establishes what he calls a nonmoralizing critique of capitalism, starting from the premise that crisis does not symptomize the failure of the system but rather its proper functioning. He is committed to a systemic, radical critique that keeps open the possibilities of revolution. This is a bracing and provocative book, both ideationally and stylistically." — Rei Terada, University of California, Irvine

"This immensely ambitious and unclassifiable theoretical work begins by projecting a new kind of temporality—the new chronic—out of medical practice, in order to range across the political, the cultural, the national, the autobiographical, and the economic, touching in passing on film and globalization, and in the process unearthing new life forms: the already dead, the always dead, and the always already dead. It is an exciting journey." — Fredric Jameson, Duke University


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eric Cazdyn is Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Flash of Capital: Film and Geopolitics in Japan; editor of Trespasses: Selected Writings of Masao Miyoshi, (both published by Duke University Press); and coauthor, with Imre Szeman, of After Globalization.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part 1. The New Chronic 13

Part 2. The Global Abyss 99

Part 3. The Already Dead 159

Notes 205

Selected Bibliography 217

Index 221
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5228-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5203-7
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