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Parent Issue
Month
June
Year
1995
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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Wayne State Univ. Press 209 pages, $14.95 Reviewed by Lou Hillman Staff member at Little Professor Book Center Jcrry Herron's history of Detroit was first publishcd in late 1993. The paperback version available now is every bit as rich - in terms of ideas - as its more expensive sibling. Herrón, an English professor at Waync State University, writcs a different type of history than wc are used to. He admits bcing unable to teil the "whole" story, though by virtuc of that, comes as close to a configuration of that wholc as anyonc can. Herrón writes: "...I'd like to think of my project as a book of visits, some of which are to thcoretical or tcchnical sites, but the majorityofwhich are visitsto the city. Ihavcconcludcd.finally, that it is not possible to write about 'the city' as if that were a f ixcd and uniform subject. It's more accurate to think of my subject as a figure comprised of overlapping, oftcn coniradictory 'moments."' But rather than following the media trend - the total covcrage of everything thatgocs wrong in Detroit - Herrón turns his focus on the culture which abandoncd this "first postmodern city." What has happened to its promises of upward mobility? What has become of its institutions, museums, theaters and shopping? And finally, what has happened to public space in general in the wake of its "absence?" In short, thcy'vc been "scen through." Hcrron's problcm is "...to understand that the secing through things and the subsequent covcring of what is secn through, are not ends, but openings to knowledgc. Unqucstionably, the great secing through has made it possible for peoplc to get inside things: institutions, objects, the computer, thcir own bodies. And once there, thcy makc ncw demands bascd on ncw levéis of information, somc of them obviously bcttcr than others. The problcm is that the furthcr inside wc get, the furtlicr wc get away from each othcr." Henee, the future of Hcrron's Detroit remains open to negotiation, even amidst ius "theme-park" historicity and "yuppification." Somcwherc, in betwecn the American Dream of "morc-cquals-bettcr" and the violencc of urban blight, lies the theoretical space ofalivable city. Wlio knows? It miglu bc there already.

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