chapter  2
16 Pages

ccing and joyreading

Three somethings, in fact. First, in the face of various postmodern theorizings about the indeterminacy of language, I’m trying to find a way of describing what readers do, and I suggest it is a form of low-grade theft, characterized not by a reading position at all, but by a mobility which I will argue is vehicular in mode. Readers steal from writings much as juveniles take cars without consent for the purposes of joyriding. In police-court jargon this is known as ‘twoccing’, i.e. t.aking w.itho.ut c.onsent. Second, I want to discuss notions of mobility and ‘unpositionality’ (if there is such a word) by reference to writings as well as readings; specifically metaphors of travel. Recently, ‘on the road’ metaphors in cultural studies have been criticized as being male and patriarchal, even when used by feminist writers. Against this, I suggest that readers are not in practice stalled by the gender-history of their chosen metaphorical vehicle. This is not just to observe that women readers do ‘twoc’ male discourses, but also to argue that the ‘unpositionality’ or indeterminacy of women in this context is a model of readership in general, and so it needs to be rethought in other terms than those of power or weakness. In writer/reader, geopolitical and gender relations, ‘unpositionality’ may turn out to be more challenging than at first appears, while circulation and mobility may be not gendered but general, especially in the

contemporary phase of history with the globalizing circulation of knowledge, people and capital. Third, a reading of actual twoccing-juvenile car crime as covered in the Western Australian press-shows that in the public domain ‘society’ can be equated with traffic lights, while (it follows) joyriding is subversive of society itself. I take this to be a suggestive metaphor for reading.