Jameson presented a public lecture as part of the “Telling Truths: Crime Fiction & National Allegory” conference. Below is an expanded version of the notes I wrote on my question I asked him during the question time:
Speaking as an enthusiast rather than an expert. FJ described terrorists and serial killers as boring villains. I asked a question in defence of the serial killer (this got a massive laugh!) as a defence of time (which pique everyone’s interest, audience went silent, due to FJ’s focus on questions of space) through the concept of ‘seriality’
1. FJ spoke of dual layer character of crime novel, past narrative of crime in context of ‘current narrative’ of detection. Using villain of serial killer there is actually a triple layer narrative: past crimes, present detection, plus the virtuality of future crimes. The first two narratives feed into the conditions of possibility of the third. This is expressed through content or articulated at a structural level through a certain tension and a sense of dread. It represents two sets of agency in competition for the ‘future’.
2. A second dimension of this tension, particularly evident in the generic constraints of contemporary procedural television shows. This is the level of the bureaucratic within policing, where the police case now has a temporal context, so the detective ensemble has to clear a certain number of cases within a given timeframe. The ‘case’ is not only determined by the force of will & intellect of the detective (ensemble), now it is constraint by a project-based mode of governance.
Do you think this can be thought of in terms of reclaiming a sense of the future? If so, how this does relate to your concern for space?
He agreed, and said “Yes, this is the way you’d do it.” He then related it to space. The essence of his reply was that temporality is always spatialised, and he gave the example of the ‘map’ and the way past crimes are mapped in terms of where murders/bodies are found in terms of a pattern. He ended with, “I wish I had thought it.”