chapter  3
70 Pages

Simulation Spaces—Performing the Jew in the Text

In the previous chapter we explored how Austrian Jews have appropriated a number of actual and virtual spaces, mainly associated with Vienna, thereby creating an arena in which to act ‘Jewishly’. Among these spaces, the World Wide Web constitutes the most open forum, thus permitting its users almost unbounded liberty in the way they present themselves. Another advantage that the virtual space afforded by electronic media has over territorially defi ned geographical space is that it does not have to be shared in the same way as, say, a city square. The placelessness of electronic space allows its users simultaneous and nearly unlimited access. Put differently, in order to create a Jewish ‘place’ on the internet, Jews do not have to battle for their particular niche. Although the World Wide Web has been embraced quite readily by at least some of the writers and intellectuals discussed here, it has not yet become their principal means of communicating their Jewishness. Since the late 1980s, the literary text, the essay, and the fi lm have served as the main media for their exploration of the self. This is not surprising since philosophers such as Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor have stressed the importance of narration for the construction of the self, and for making sense of ourselves. ‘Mythology, in its original sense’, MacIntyre has suggested, ‘is at the heart of things’ (1981, 203f). Taylor echoes MacIntyre’s insight when he says: ‘[M]aking sense of my present action requires a narrative understanding of my life’ (1989, 48). Psychologists, too, have been able to demonstrate empirically that throughout our lives, but in particular from late adolescence onwards, each of us creates and then continually refi nes a personal myth through which we are able to impose a sense of coherence ourselves. Importantly, Dan McAdams refers to a personal myth as: ‘an act of imagination that is a patterned integration of our remembered past, perceived present and anticipated future’ (1993, 12; emphasis added).