Thursday, December 13, 2012



Deck of Deeds by Rodrigo Toscano
(Counterpath, Denver, CO, 2012)

A Note on Deck of Deeds by Rodrigo Toscano

The cards one is dealt in globalized capitalist culture aren’t from a straight deck. The deck has been  tampered with by the “big others,”  the mediators, elites, deal makers and  deal breakers. The odds, like they say, are with the house.  That house exists to fall on us.   In Deck of Deeds, Rodrigo Toscano goes after the house, overturns the  virtual card table and draws a satirical bead on playahs from all spheres of the contemporary message board.

Deck of Deeds takes the form of a series  of prose poetry portraits.  Each piece is titled in Spanish.  Servants, engineers, financiers, experimental writers, trust fund poets, soldiers, drug addicts, drug traffickers, sociolinguists,  experts, collaborators, spies, politicians, therapists and others all steep in the same petro-hormono-chemically infused linguistic environment.  The effects are intensely kaleidoscopic.  The humor bites.

What Toscano is writing about with great vividness and passion is what Zizek calls “the  Lacanian difference between reality and the Real.”  For Zizek and Lacan:

“…'reality’ is the social reality of the actual people involved in interaction and in the productive processes, while the Real is the inexorable ‘abstract’ spectral logic of Capital that determines what goes on in social reality. This gap is tangible in the way the economic situation of a country can be considered to be good and stable by the international financial experts, even when the majority of its people are worse off than before—reality does not matter, what matters is the situation of Capital.”
--from Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Verso, 2012), 244.

Or, as Toscano’s Financiero realizes:

“Being ‘pregnant’ with ‘the reality’ of ‘current conditions’ means you can’t get ‘pregnant’ again (he knew this before, of course, but not like this).” ( 89)

Deck of Deeds is the real deal.


Tom Beckett is currently at work on a project called Appearances: A Novel In 365 Fragments. He doesn't believe corporations are people and he doesn't think of them as friends.

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