n o t e s
1 B O D Y T R O U B L E
1 Butler is aware of the dangers that come with arguing for the discur-
sive construction of the body. Although various analyses of a postmodern
stripe may have called our attention to the role of external forces such as
power, discourse, or culture, Butler (9) argues that often ‘‘the grammatical
and metaphysical place of the subject is retained even as the candidate that
occupies that place appears to rotate.’’ As a result, we are left with the idea
that ‘‘construction is not an activity, but an act, one which happens once
and whose effects are firmly fixed’’ (9). Discourse thus ‘‘creates’’ the things
of which it speaks in much the same manner as the all-powerful Enlighten-
ment subject was presumed to do, in the process consigning human agency
to the dustbin of discursive history. At the outset, then, Butler’s (7) project
involves a rethinking of any idea of construction that requires ‘‘an ‘I’ or a
‘we’ who stands before that construction in any spatial or temporal sense
of ‘before.’’’
2 The first Persian Gulf War also played a noteworthy role in the effort
to redeem the Vietnam War’s many failures. Supporters of the war waved
signs reading ‘‘No More Vietnams,’’ while President Bush jubilantly ex-
claimed in 1991, ‘‘We’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!’’
(Franklin, 1993b: 22). That Operation Desert Storm would play a role in
resolving the ambiguity caused by the Vietnam War served as a reminder
of the disorientation and perplexity that still marked the American experi-
ence of the war in Southeast Asia. Accordingly, it is no small irony that the
efforts of President George W. Bush in Iraq have done so much to revivify
the specter of Vietnam.
3 See chapter 3 for an extended discussion of the remains recovered from
Pakse, Laos, in which such evidence was discovered by the wife of a miss-
ing Air Force pilot.
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