Dark Affinities, Dark Imaginaries

A Mind's Odyssey

By Joseph Natoli

Subjects: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, Postmodernism, Film Studies, Popular Culture
Paperback : 9781438463506, 396 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438463513, 396 pages, January 2017

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Table of contents


1. William Blake: Prophet against Empire
Introduction, Twentieth-Century Blake Criticism: Northrop Frye to the Present
Excerpt from Mots d’Ordre: Disorder in Literary Worlds
Why Are We Not Roused to Action?

2. A Patient Appears at the Psychiatrist’s Office: The Turn to Phenomenological Psychopathology
Dark Affinities: The Father
Phenomenological Psychology and Literary Interpretation
The Code of Crisis and Disaster

3. The World Is a Book
Textual Studies and the Selection of Editions
Meditating on a Postmodern Strategy of Reading
Endless Deferment: The Inequitable Melee of Events and Words

4. Looking for Disorder in Literary Worlds
Mapping the Inconceivable: Disordering Taxonomies

5. Postmodernity Is a Hoot
Go to Citizen Kane to Find Twentieth-Century Modernism: On the Edge of Postmodernity
The Deep Morals of Inglourious Basterds

6. At the Theory Carnival
Preface to Tracing Literary Theory
Preface to Literary Theory’s Future(s)

7. Into the American Mass Psyche of the Nineties
Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture
Hunting the Haunted Heart
Speeding to the Millennium: Film and Culture 1993 –1995
Court and Culture: The Days of Our Life with O. J.
Postmodern Journeys: Film and Culture 1996 –1998
That Rug Really Tied the Room Together
Memory’s Orbit: Film and Culture 1999 –2000
After September 11, 2001
Hearing the Ping of Poverty—or Not

8. Railing through Europe: “Is This a Postmodern World?” 1995 –2010
This Is a Picture and Not the World

9. A Long Journey to Find an Online Political Home
Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project
Political Affairs: “From each according to his ability to each according to their work”
Why the Rich Get Richer and Other Truth Stories
Bad Subjects: Politics in Everyday Life
The Leftist Psyche
The “Free Exchange of Ideas”: Our New Normal
Gun Control, Illegal Aliens, Moochers, Planned Parenthood, Gay Marriages, “Big Brother” Government, and Obama

10. Popular Culture: What I Did at the Movies
Doing the American Hustle
The Hateful Eight: History’s Dark Bounty

11. I Roam into TV: Rebel Sons, Foodies, DBs, TV Pharmacy, and Sports
TV’s Rebel Sons: The Anger of Deep Revolt
Autopsy TV
Food TV
The Emergence of Greater-than-Human Sports…and Baseball

12. Dark Affinities
Dark Affinities: Liberal and Neoliberal
The Economics of Immiseration/The Politics of Seduction
US Higher Education: The New “Treasure Island” for Investors
Plutocracy, Gentrification, and Racial Violence

13. Dark Imaginaries
What Climate Scenarios Do We Imagine?
A Modest Proposal, 2014
The Coming Transformation of Work to Leisure
The American Middle Class: The Political Chosen People?

14. Portrait of Generation Next
To Gaga Is to Dada
The Twitter Moment
Living Backward: The Millennials’ Alice
Our Millennial Age of Magic

15. Occupy Wall Street
Epilogue to the Kindle Publication of Occupying Here & Now: The New Class Warfare
Psychomachia: Battles within the American Cultural Psyche

16. Travels of a New Gulliver
In Which the Author Introduces Himself and Then Sets Out
The Author Is Admitted to the Academy, Inhabited by Enormous-Headed Giants; Visits the Wick, the
Great Augury, and The Singularity Club; Meets a Terrorist, and Then Ends Badly
The Author Comes to the End of His Travels


A story of self, braided to a story of American culture.


Uniting personal history with cultural history, Dark Affinities, Dark Imaginaries tells a story of a mind, a time, and a culture. The vehicle or medium of this excursion is an overview and sampling of the author's work, and what is revealed are cautionary tales of a once-aspiring egalitarian democracy confronted with plutocracy's gentrification; of analog history and off-line life superseded by a rush toward virtualized, robotic, AI transformation of the human life-world; of everything social and public giving way to everything personal and opinionated. The vagaries of a lifetime of paths taken are woven together by a narrative that reveals in every piece a significance that was only partially present at its initial writing. Thus, the reader becomes involved in a developing story of a certain personal psyche working toward understanding its own development within a changing American culture. Sometimes angry, sometimes joyful, but always curious and wry, Joseph Natoli crosses the boundary lines of psychology, politics, literature, philosophy, education, and economics to show how we bring ourselves and our cultural imaginaries simultaneously into being through the processes and pleasures of thinking beyond the confines of the personal.

Now retired,Joseph Natoli spent more than four decades teaching at the university level and twenty years as the editor of the SUNY book series in Postmodern Culture. He is the author of many books, including Hauntings: Popular Film and American Culture 1990–1992; Speeding to the Millennium: Film and Culture 1993–1995; Postmodern Journeys: Film and Culture 1996–1998; Memory's Orbit: Film and Culture 1999–2000; and This Is a Picture and Not the World: Movies and a Post-9/11 America, all published by SUNY Press.


"…Dark Affinities, Dark Imaginaries is a captivating journey across mind and culture; a tracing of the American cultural imaginary that embraces the backwards gaze of self-reflexivity in search of post-truths within the personal and mass psyches. What results is an equally mesmerizing and unnerving cautionary tale that warns against the burgeoning reality of alienation and exploitation of the American people in an unbridled plutocratic regime. " — Popular Culture Studies Journal

"…Natoli grounds his work in lived experience, an awareness of realities … reading his essays … will help you better understand the world you live in and why it keeps deviating from the world you thought you knew. " — Voices in Italian Americana

"Reading Dark Affinities is a welcome break from the neoliberal buzzword-speak of politicians and university administrators. It reminds me why I entered academia, when it was a profession and not a business, and when modeling thinking actually mattered. " — Alison Lee, University of Western Ontario

"Natoli's Dark Affinities reads as a culminating work of scholarship, marshaling evidence from autobiography, literary analysis, critical theory, and everyday culture in support of its claims. Natoli presents his personal history in the same spirit that Raymond Williams did: as evidence for the ways that cultural forces shape individuals, and as grounds for the shaping of his intellectual and political practice. " — Jeff Karnicky, author of Contemporary Fiction and the Ethics of Modern Culture