chapter  5
29 Pages

Gothic Philadelphia: Divided subjects and fractionated assemblages

In a remark that exemplifies some of the extra-state allegiances in modern global cities, the character Sammy, a Pakistani émigré in Hanif Kureishi’s film Sammy and Rosie get Laid (1987), says to Rosie, “we’re not British, we’re Londoners.” That remark by a (fictional) diasporic city dweller reflects the condition of many in the contemporary global city, whose diverse residents, distinguishable in part through their modes of arrival, share spaces but not structures of feeling and forms of allegiance. As a result, state attempts at securing allegiance are stymied by urban culture. The centrifugal micropolitical forces within global cities, reflected in Sammy’s utterance, are also evident within individual subjects. Just as the aim of state cultural governance is to secure allegiance across the partitions of territorial jurisdictions – in effect to negate city, countryside and other jurisdictional identity and allegiance effects – the job of individual consciousness, as noted in a remark by a character in a Richard Powers novel The Echo Maker, “is to make sure that all the distributed modules of the brain seem integrated.”301