||"Welcome to the free for all,|
the smash and grab,
the freeloaders' ball":
The Thatcher Years in Martin Amis' Money.
A Suicide Note and the Songs of New Model Army
Florian Niedlich (Würzburg)
"Writers respond to the societies they find themselves in and, either consciously or unconsciously, they reflect the health or sickness of these societies."1|
The Thatcher decade was and still is one of the most controversial political, economic and cultural periods of post-World War II Western societies. If we take Phillips' statement at face value, Money: A Suicide Note (Money), first published in 1984, after five years of Thatcherism, and set in 1981, should in some way mirror the events and the state (of health) of the (British) society at that time. The same applies to the songs of the music group New Model Army, which was founded in Bradford in 1980 and whose debut album Vengeance was released in 1984 as well.
It will be the goal of this paper to analyze how both, novel and songs, represent and respond to the Thatcher years. While the analysis will be carried out on the content level of the book as well as on its formal level – through an investigation of its highly unconventional narrative technique – the songs will only be used to complement this analysis by tracing the instances of the group's "leftist, anti-Thatcher political fury"2 in their lyrics.
The Thatcher years in Money
Representation and responses on the content level
General context: The twentieth century and the postmodern condition
"[']It's the twentieth-century feeling. We're the jokes. [. . .] You just got to live the joke.'"3
Even though there are only few explicit references to Margaret Thatcher in Money and not many overt statements referring to her politics (for a discussion of these see 2.1.2), its satirical portrayal of the British society still makes the novel as a whole a pungent criticism of the Thatcher era. This era is characterized by the symptoms of the late "twentieth century" (89), by what has been termed the 'postmodern condition'.4 John Self, the narrator and protagonist of the book, is the epitome of this condition. His telling name, which is also the source of the character's downfall, indicates that he is "a kind of contemporary Everyman"5 ["I'm called John Self. But who isn't?" (97)]. Furthermore, it invokes "the bland anonymity of the giant financial institutions where, in Nabokovian terms, everybody is merely an anagram of everybody else."6
John Self is a hyperbole, a caricature of modern man: naïve, indifferent to such a degree as to almost being immoral (cf. e.g. 29), racist, sexist, homophobic and prejudiced (cf. e.g. 181/82), decadent, with an extremely profligate lifestyle, uneducated, materialistic, addicted – to alcohol, to nicotine, to sex and pornography, to television: "addicted to the twentieth century" (89).7 As Susanne Mecklenburg puts it: "[E]in Paradebeispiel für einen, sämtlichen modernen Technologie- und Sexualitätsfetischen verfallenen Menschen".8
Thus, consumption and (electronic) media, above all television, are important aspects in the genesis of the postmodern condition. John Self's addictions and commodity fetishism make him a consumer who is himself "consumed by consumerism".9 He is also consumed and saturated by television, which he considers to be today's religion, "the mystical part of ordinary minds" (354), and indoctrinated by its voice(s). This has consequences for the concept of identity. Indeed, the character John Self does not appear so much as the representation of one single subjectivity, but as being made up of a range of different voices, an amalgam of various discourses. One sign of this is Self's tinnitus. He distinguishes four different voices in his head which compete for his attention: On the one hand, there is "the jabber of money" and "the voice of pornography", on the other "the ever-weakening voice of stung shame, sad boredom and futile protest" and the most unwelcome one, the voice which "has to do with quitting work and needing to think about things [he] never used to think about." (104) The first two voices, which are indications of his 'moral hardness of hearing', are in conflict with the other two, which "imply regret and possible reform"10 and, just like the anonymous caller Frank who later turns out to be the American producer Fielding Goodney, represent his suppressed conscience. "Taken together, all four voices constitute a fragmented, decentered Self."11 The multitude of forces which influence us every day, television being only the most prominent one, lead to this postmodern concept of identity, which describes selfhood as something increasingly ongoing and unstable.
But there is still more to it. "There's a realism problem, we all know that. TV is real! some people think. And where does that leave reality?" (332) This problem runs through the entire book and, on the content as well as the formal level, the boundary lines between fiction and reality are constantly being blurred and tampered with. The "relentless mediation of experience by popular culture"12 which we find in Money makes "authentic experience [. . .] much harder to find."13 In fact, "[a]uthentic everything is much harder to find[.]"14 Almost everyone and everything in the novel seems to some degree artificial, inauthentic or even unreal: The group of actors, who can have everything about them (their body, name) "fixed" (109), the young prostitute Celly, who looks "like a pornographic cartoon, a comic strip" (206) to Self, and even the protagonist himself, thinking that he "must have some new cow disease that makes you wonder whether you're real all the time, that makes your life feel like a trick, an act, a joke." (61) And in a way, almost every character in Money does seem to be some kind of actor, their subjectivity being for the most part just performative.15 When Self is watching two tennis players on court and remarks that "[i]t was television" (33), when he states that "everyone demands their vivid personalities, their personal soap opera, street theatre" (332), or when he talks about "[g]irls who subliminally model themselves on kid-show presenters" and "[m]en whose manners show newscaster interference, soap stains, film smears" (31), it becomes clear that fiction has consumed reality. This is an important symptom of the postmodern condition: "[R]eality is unreal, things already 'mean' something according to pre[-]established systems of signification, where everything (and everybody) becomes a sign, or rather, a palimpsest for changing signs. The self is no exception; it is never identical with itself, it is [. . .] a de-realized object [see discussion above]".16
This accounts also for another interesting aspect: the "motivation question" (362). The novel does not offer any clear reasons for Fielding Goodney's confidence trick. There seems to be no obvious motivation for his behavior. The Amis character argues that "as a controlling force in human affairs, motivation is pretty well shagged out by now", that "[i]t hasn't got what it takes to motivate people any more." (331) This, of course, is an intentional blow from the author's side at outdated concepts of causality and agency. In postmodern thought, "psychoanalytic notions of unconscious drives and structuralist theories of the socially constructed nature and shape of subjectivity"17 have come to replace the idea of absolute individual autonomy taken from Enlightenment thinking. Thus, motivation, in the original meaning of the word, as something entirely conscious, has become depleted. Accordingly, at the end of the novel, Self comes to regard confidence as a "psychopathic state." (362)
If we take into account all that has so far been discussed, the recurrent motif of George Orwell's novel 1984 in Money gains new significance. When John Self reads the book, the world in which the story is set seems to him "like [his] kind of town" and he sees himself "as an idealistic young corporal in the Thought Police." (207) What he fails to recognize is that he already lives in a version of Airstrip One and that he is not one of the persecutors, but a victim.18 In a way, "Money extends Orwell's analysis of totalitarian ideology into the realm of postindustrial capitalist democracies."19 Instead of a dictatorial state apparatus, Self has been conditioned by the combined forces of the economic system and electronic media. Just like Orwell's protagonist Winston Smith, who, at the end of 1984, loses his desperate struggle for freedom and dignity in the torture chamber Room 101, Self, whose expensive New York hotel room has the same number, "is trapped – not by a totalitarian state, but in the prison of a debased private culture."20
Concluding from what has been said, the novel responds to Thatcherite England in that it "hold[s] up a distorting mirror to society. The main [character] may [. . .] be defined as [an allegory] of man's dereliction and helplessness in a civilization that consumes him."21
Concrete problems: The Thatcher politics
"You just cannot beat the money conspiracy. You can only join it." (267)
The character John Self works as a metonymy for Thatcherism. He embodies, in ironic distortion, many of its idea(l)s such as "the Thatcherite creed of 'loadsamoney'",22 individualism and survival.23 To him, "money is freedom." (250) However, through the way society is portrayed in the novel, all of these principles of Thatcherism are eventually revealed as untenable and rendered absurd: Self's downfall, brought about by Fielding Goodney's "cynical conspiracy which, in turn, is allegorical of the gigantic conspiracy of money",24 challenges the exposed greed of Thatcherite England.25 At the end of the story, he is taught a highly moral lesson [cf. 351-63; "Money, money stinks." (359)],26 which seems to demand a change of the existing economic system. The notion of individualism27 is impugned by the fact that all of Self's relationships with others are only based on money ["All the others – it's just money. Money is the only thing we have in common." (112)]. There are numerous parts in which it transpires that he is actually very lonely, "starved of warmth" (105), longing for sympathy (cf. 32) and "a human touch." (61)
The novel shows money as the root of the decline in morals, the corruption of all human relationships and the disintegration of society.28 It is portrayed as "the central deformity in life, [. . . .] a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy that we have all agreed to go along with."29
Apart from dealing with these Thatcherite principles, the novel also names some of the essential (social) problems of the Thatcher decade, such as unemployment and housing. While the government had meant to alleviate the shortage of apartments by selling council houses in large numbers, poorer people could not afford to purchase them due to rapidly increasing interest rates, so that most of them, the growing 'underclass' the Thatcher politics had created,30 either "spill[ed] out on to the eaves and sills" where they "[slept] under [. . .] creased groundsheet[s] on the flat surface[s]" (244), or lived "holed up" (54) in ever smaller flats. Self observes: "Cars are doubling while houses are halving. Houses divide, into two, into four, into sixteen. If a landlord or developer comes across a decent-sized room he turns it into a labyrinth, a Chinese puzzle." (64)
Another, recurring problem in the novel is that of unemployment. As Evans31 and others have pointed out, Britain was becoming a more unequal society during the Thatcher years. The comparatively small group that profited from the politics of the government is caricatured in Money when it becomes clear that the successful advertising agency Carburton, Linex & Self is based on tax-fraud ["He (Terry Linex) even gets the family poodle shampooed against tax [. . .]." (78)]. Just like Alec Llewellyn in Money, many of the others in this new "'[. . .] two-thirds/one-third society of winners and losers'"32 had to face poverty and unemployment: "I'm looking for jobs, but who isn't? There aren't any." (336) Self discerns the hopelessness, particularly of the youth: "Now they [the young] seep out of school – to what? To nothing, to fuck-all. [. . . .] The dole-queue starts at the exit to the playground." (144) In such passages Self emerges as a critic of the social injustice he encounters. Furthermore, he does not fail to recognize the interdependence of unemployment and social unrest: "The young (you can see it in their faces), [. . .] they've come up with an appropriate response to this[:] [. . . .] they smash and grab." (144f.) Similarly, he identifies the housing conditions as the source of vandalism (cf. 244). Thus, violence "does not develop in a social vacuum; violence is the answer of the losers[,] [. . . .] fundamentally a forced reaction, born out of frustration".33
"There are many things to be done to set this nation on the road to recovery, and I do not mean economic recovery alone, but a new independence of spirit and zest for achievement."34
It has been shown how Money exposes the ideological underpinnings of Thatcherism, "'[. . .] question[s] the legitimacy of an ideology founded upon the primacy of greed as a motivating factor'"35 and unmasks the government's assertions and vows – such as "a new independence of spirit and zest for achievement" – as mere euphemisms. The "recovery" of the nation turns out to have failed as the world portrayed in the novel is one in decline.
Representation and responses on the formal level
"[']Even realism, rockbottom realism, is considered a bit grand for the twentieth century.'" (231)
It has been shown how traditional notions of identity, reality, subjectivity and motivation – we may easily add other examples and elements of these 'Grand Narratives' such as casualty, history, truth etc. – have been questioned and described in new ways in postmodern thinking, which is also manifest in Money, and how the novel portrays the degradation of the (Western) world in the 1980s. Now that "life has changed profoundly in the late twentieth century, it follows that the forms that represent life must change as well."36 They do so in Money, for as we will see the narrative is not only postmodern in the ideas it conveys, but also in its form and style.
A very important aspect of this new approach is the author's treatment of literary conventions and codes, primarily the subversion of realism. The book is clearly not straight realistic. Yet, it also does not seem to belong to that group of works that have been termed postmodern 'experiments'.37 Rather, as was indicated above, the boundary lines between reality and fiction are constantly being tampered with, at times blurred, at times explicitly highlighted, so that the mimetic conventions appear to be undermined 'from within', "by using and abusing their logic".38 The realism of the novel is a heightened, extreme and sometimes grotesque one. The characters are "no longer the rounded characters of [traditional] realist fiction, but Pynchon-like names with a high textual presence – traumatized, fragmentary, rootless figures, belonging neither here nor there, always in the presence of technology or engaged in acts of passage, suffering from contemporary excess, waste and fatigue"40 and in some cases even clearly stereotyped such as the character of Lorne Guyland. Fictions merge with facts (e.g. the Royal Wedding and the race riots) and the text constantly asserts its self-conscious fictionality. The main device by which this is achieved is that of the 'intrusive author'. By creating the meta-persona Martin Amis and having him meet with John Self several times, the author can "exploit self-reference and self-reflexiveness in a number of interesting and noteworthy ways."41 Susanne Mecklenburg points at the paradoxical effect of this metaleptic technique of blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality in order to foreground the distinctions."42 The climax in the relationship between narrator and protagonist John Self and the figure of the author is certainly to be found at the end of the novel. Their chess game, itself a metaphor of their rivalry-like relationship, ends with Self being zugzwanged and his realization that it was the author who put him through the turmoil, that all the time, he was just a subject to his author's "sadistic impulses" (229): "'I'm the joke. I'm it! It was you. It was you.'" (349) Yet, this superiority of the author is questioned in the italicized section on the final pages of the book. The new Self43 has one brief, final encounter with the Amis character, who informs him: "'You're meant to be out of the picture by now.'" (359) But Self defies him by telling him to "fuck off out of it" (359) and watches him leave, looking "woodenly, stung, scared." (359)
Another interesting approach is to consider Self and Amis – and possibly also most of the other voices of the novel – as parts of a single consciousness. Similar to Self's fragmentation (cf. 2.1.1), the implied author is split into various contradictory fractions as well. From this point of view, Amis and Self may be understood as representations of the Freudian superego and id, with Martina Twain, who "serves as a sort of bridge between Self and the sobersides Martin Amis",44 representing the ego.45 However, it seems more appropriate (even though these two interpretations are not necessarily incompatible) to think of them as 'doubles'. While Amis acts as Self's sophisticated alter-ego in London, Martina Twain does the same in New York. This is already indicated in her name: MartinA connected with 'twain', which literally means 'two'.46 Another of Self's many attempts to double himself is the film project. Not only is the movie they are making "a family romance in which Self's own orphan-oedipal predicament is mirrored",47 but the project and his life get constantly intermingled, too (cf. Caduta Massi's maternal interest in Self etc.). Finally, it may be added that the 'doubling' applies to other characters as well, for example to Fielding Goodney, the American double of Selina Street.
In Money, many of the characteristics of realism are undercut through the use of metafictional elements such as the intrusive author, the self-reflexiveness and the hypertextual transformation of pretexts, "the mixing and merging of styles, genres [e.g. comedy and tragedy], cultural layers and levels"48 ('crossover'), the degradation of narrative authority (for Self is most certainly an unreliable narrator) etc. Thus, 'magical realism' or – maybe best – Elias' 'postmodern realism' seem to be appropriate designations for the mode of the novel. This kind of realism "attempts to record the real [as opposed to its defamiliarization in magical realism], but [a real that has itself] become a strange new world: mediated reality."49 This mediation, the unreality of the real has already been identified as an essential symptom of the postmodern condition, which itself is a central characteristic of the Thatcher era, to which the novel responds. Catherine Bernard sums up: "Amis write[s] of a derelict and dismembered world the alienness of which may only be intimated through literary conventions defamiliarized by their radicalization."50 One can add that by moving away from straight realism, the novel may be "moving more and more closely to what life is like".51
The Thatcher years in the songs of New Model Army
"Money makes the world go round, fear makes it turn much faster".52
New Model Army is certainly one of the best known post-punk bands to ever have come out of Great Britain. Their name was taken from Oliver Cromwell's anti-royalist military force of the 17th century, whose hierarchy was based on ability rather than social class, which had dedicated itself to fighting corruption and the disintegrating moral and spiritual fabric of the nation, and which succeeded in overthrowing the monarchy. Likewise, lead singer and guitarist Justin Sullivan adopted the pseudonym 'Slade The Leveller', referring to the political faction of the English Civil War that spoke out for a more egalitarian political system and a secular republic. In keeping with these ambitions, the group wants "'to make audiences feel anger, joy, glad to be alive, to stir peoples' hearts, to give them power, to communicate ideas, to stand against a society based on fear.'"53
During the Thatcher years New Model Army released five records (LPs) entitled Vengeance (1984), No Rest for the Wicked (1985), The Ghost of Cain (1986), Thunder and Consolation (1989) and Impurity (1990). Knowing the group's background, one can already imagine that many of the songs included on these albums (as well as their titles) are critical responses to the Thatcher era. Manifest in almost all of these responses is the clear-cut dichotomy of 'them' and 'us'; them, the decadent rulers of the nation, the rich and the powerful, "a town of cornered animals, teeth[-]bared – out of control",54 and us, the outsiders: "We are not young and beautiful, we are not rich and bold",55 "[w]e are lost[,] we are freaks, we are crippled, we are weak[, /] [. . .] we are the true heirs, to all the world".56 Here, the group emerges as a voice of the oppressed and marginalized.57 They are the victims and the opponents of the Thatcherite politics and society. Yet, in numerous songs, we can trace – in an at times Marxist, at times anarchic tradition – a firm belief that at some point in the near future "the oceans [will] rise and the governments start to fall"58 and the outsiders will come into their 'inheritance'.
As Money does, most of New Model Army's lyrics indicate that life has changed profoundly in the late twentieth century. Above all, there is a kind of new 'spirit', which seems to permeate all of society. Its essence is aptly expressed in "The Charge": "The unity bond is broken and the loyalty songs are fake[, /] I'll screw my only brother for even a glimpse at a piece of the cake".59 It is a spirit characterized by greed, selfishness, fear and materialism.60 Similar to Martin Amis' attitude, money is regarded as the root of all evil: "Innocence starts to peel away – How money changes everything".61 John Self's maxim, "money is freedom" (250), which is rendered absurd in the novel as well, is resolutely rejected when Sullivan sings: "[W]e asked for the money and money they gave [/] [a]nd God, how that made us easy to enslave".62 Money is not freedom, but enslavement, so that the check we receive is not only a "handshake of gold", but also a "stab in the back",63 the acceptance of capitalist exploitation and thus, the giving up of part of our autonomy. The same applies to the excessive acquisitiveness which is another much-criticized aspect in the group's songs. Its is primarily this materialism that is made responsible for the utter lack of any kind of spiritual life, idealism and commitment as in "Drag it Down" (1984) and "Grandmother's Footsteps" (1984), and the absence of genuine human communication, solidarity and compassion as in "Frightened" (1984) and "The Hunt" (1986). Consequently, with this materialism comes the end of (all feelings of) community: "The shopping mall[,] it is teeming with life[, /] [. . .] [b]ut there's those funny old people on the escalators[, /] [t]alking to themselves, saying[: /] [']Give me some place that I can go[,' /] [. . .] [l]ooking for family[,] looking for tribe."64 Several of Self's statements in Money point in the same direction (cf. e.g. 39, 358). The lost community is replaced by the countless "television programmes [/ that] [g]o round and round and round and round".65 As in the novel, television is a recurring topic in New Model Army's lyrics. Apart from its function as means of escaping the dreary reality, much stress is laid on it being a medium for propaganda and the systematic spreading of lies, most explicitly in "Spirit of the Falklands" (1982) and "Deadeye" (1991). As in the dystopian novels 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, television is depicted as the authorities' most important instrument of manipulating and controlling the population.66 It creates the illusion of happiness, when really, everyone is just "learning to love the things that we hate".67
Besides these issues, which are all in some way related to the new spirit that has been described, there are also various 'concrete' problems brought up in the songs, some of which are referred to in Money as well: violence and social unrest [e.g. in "Archway Towers" (1988)], the housing shortage (e.g. in "Family"), the growing inequality and the illusion of social mobility (e.g. in "Lights go out"),68 the stasis and entropy of town life in the industrial north [e.g. in "Smalltown England" (1982)], drugs [e.g. in "Heroin" (1984)] etc.
Similar to Amis' novel, New Model Army's lyrics can be read as a cutting rejection of Thatcherite England. Yet, both artists have a different approach. While the criticism of the novel is conveyed through its grotesque and negative portrayal of the British society of the 1980s, the words of the songs are more direct, accusatory and aggressive and often emphasized by fast and energetic melodies. (One of the best examples for this anger and frustration inherent in many of their songs is certainly the uncompromising title-track of their first album, "Vengeance" (1983), a 'sweeping blow' at everything the group despised.) And what is more, the band not only criticizes, but also explicitly calls for change: "Is it a crime to want something else? [/] Is it a crime to believe in something different? [/] Is it a crime to want to make things happen? [/] To spit in the faces of the cynical fools[?]"69 A lot of the songs conjure up this kind of rebellion, born out of the realization that "we could spend our whole lives waiting for some justice to be done[, /] [u]nless we make our own".70 It is either this "hunger and impatience"71 or the desire to get away and start a different kind of life. This yearning to escape is repeatedly connected with romantic72 notions of leaving the so-called civilized world behind and live in peaceful harmony with nature. Resembling works of the French writer Marcel Pagnol, songs of that type conjure up images of small groups of people – communities! – "running for the wide open spaces"73 and "howling at the moon like little kids",74 of the "road-smell after the rain"75 and the "freezing starry skies"76 and other genuine experiences of unspoiled nature, which contrast with the reality of city-life which is perceived as bleak and dull. Sometimes folk-like melodies are put to these lyrics (e.g. in "Vagabonds"), which emphasize this notion of escape to nature, since folk music – due to its originating in countries such as Ireland and Scotland – often evokes culturally constructed associations of certain spaces and landscapes,77 ways of living etc.
"This ain't some tin-pot story arriving from a distant shore[, /] [b]ut our own sweet, green and pleasant land in 1984".78
New Model Army, as well as Martin Amis in Money (cf. 2.1.1), consider Thatcherite England as a version of Orwell's Airstrip One. While the group's version appears to be closer to Orwell's, that is to a nation actually ruled by an authoritarian and oppressive regime (as, for example, depicted in Vertigo's 1988 comic strip V for Vendetta, too), both are concerned with the problems caused by the Thatcher politics, with the forces of Britain's mass-mediated commodity culture and how they shape individual subjectivities, fetishize objects and commodify relationships. Self embodies all that they seem to despise.79
It has been shown how Martin Amis' novel and the songs of New Model Army not only reflect, but also respond to the Thatcher years in that both sharply criticize the Thatcher politics and condemn the twentieth-century "capitalist technology [it generated, which] invades our very cells to programme our appetites and fantasies, to install the structures of addiction – to food, to sex, to drugs, to money, to violence, to voyeurism – which the market needs to survive."80 This has led to an investigation of the unusual narrative technique of Money, primarily of the 'realism problem', that is of how – due to the postulated "lack of motivation [and] moral pattern in a world where all values are fiscal, and all behavior conditioned or mediated by film and television"81 – the novel refuses traditional devices of organizing fiction where these insinuate a kind of harmony that is no longer felt to exist.
It seems to be almost impossible to analyze exhaustively a work which is as rich and complex as that of Amis. Even in the limited context of this paper, much more could have been said, many aspects elaborated upon and analyzed in detail. Yet, the most important elements have been explored and one is inclined to agree with Ian Hamilton, who called Money "one of the key books of the decade".82
- Amis, Martin. Money: A Suicide Note. New York: Penguin, 1986.
- New Model Army. Lyrics. The Official NMA Website. N.ed. 10 September 2004. www.newmodelarmy.org/FHOME.HTM.
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N.ed. Margaret Thatcher Foundation. N.d. 06 December 2006.
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Ryan, Kiernan. "Sex, Violence and Complicity: Martin Amis and Ian McEwan." An Introduction to Contemporary Fiction: International Writing in English since 1970. Ed. Rod Mengham. Cambridge: Polity, 1999. 203-18.
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Zerweck, Bruno. Die Synthese aus Realismus und Experiment: Der englische Roman der 1980er und 1990er Jahre aus erzähltheoretischer und kulturwissenschaftlicher Sicht. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2001.
1 Caryl Phillips, A New World Order: Selected Essays (London: Secker & Warburg, 2001) 295.
2 Steve Huey, "New Model Army." VH1.com. Artists A-Z. N.ed. N.d. 10 September 2004. URL: Web site.
3 Martin Amis, Money: A Suicide Note (New York: Penguin, 1986) 270. All parenthetical references follow this edition.
4 First of all by the French cultural philosopher Jean-François Lyotard in his book with the same title.
5 Tamás Bényei, "Allegory and Allegoresis in Money." The Martin Amis Web. Ed. James Diedrick. 2001. 10 September 2004. URL: See web site (martinamis.albion.edu/crit.htm).
6 Chris Hall, "Waiting for Go.Dot." (N.d.) The Martin Amis Web.
7 It goes without saying that this list is by no means complete, but merely includes some of the most prominent aspects.
8 Susanne Mecklenburg, Martin Amis und Graham Swift: Erfolg durch bodenlosen Moralismus im zeitgenössischen britischen Roman (Heidelberg: Winter, 2000) 51.
9 Martin Amis in: John Haffenden, Novelists in Interview (London: Methuen, 1985) 7.
10 James Diedrick, Understanding Martin Amis (Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1995) 73.
11 Diedrick 73.
12 Diedrick 12.
13 Martin Amis, quoted in Diedrick 12.
14 Martin Amis, quoted in Diedrick 12.
15 Ironically, as it turns out in the end, many of them actually are actors, hired by Fielding Goodney to pose as potential investors in his great hoax of which John Self is the victim.
Drawing on the speech act theory developed by John L. Austin and others, advocates of the notion of performativity such as feminist philosopher Judith Butler tend to understand subjectivity and identity not so much as something intrinsically given, but rather created through consistently repeated actions. In her works, Butler applies this concept to gender development: The gendered self is considered as the product of the performer's ritualized and compulsory reiteration of certain social norms. Thus, gender, according to Butler, appears to be the cause of a set of actions through which it is in truth actually constituted. [Cf. e.g. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990).]
17 Diedrick 12.
18 Even though, as a maker of television commercials, he has certainly had his share in the ongoing manipulation process and thus can also partly be considered a persecutor, from this point of view.
19 Diedrick 75.
20 Diedrick 100.
21 Catherine Bernard, "Dismembering/Remembering Mimesis: Martin Amis, Graham Swift." British Postmodern Fiction. Postmodern Studies 7. Ed. Theo D'haen, Hans Bertens (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993) 138.
22 Thomas M. Stein, "'From purgatory to full inferno': Martin Amis's Novels of the Eighties." A Decade of Discontent: British Fiction of the Eighties. Ed. Hans-Jürgen Diller et al. (Heidelberg: Winter, 1992) 116.
23 Numerous critics have described and analyzed the change in Britain's social climate that resulted from the Thatcher government's (especially economic) policy and its quest to restore traditional, Victorian values and what Letwin calls the 'vigorous virtues' [cf. Shirley Robin Letwin, The Anatomy of Thatcherism (New Brunswick: Transaction, 1993) 26ff.]: According to many, British society became more selfish, coarser, less tolerant and less humane. As Dahrendorf, linking the Thatcher years to the philosophy of social Darwinism, points out: "In place of a tradition of solidarity, there [was] an insistence on competition between individuals." [Ralf Dahrendorf, "Changing Social Values under Mrs Thatcher." Thatcherism. Ed. Robert Skidelsky (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988) 197.] Cf. also the results of an opinion poll concerning the public's perception of the state of Britain conducted by Market & Opinion Research International in 1988, discussed in Ivor Crewe, "Values: The Crusade that Failed." The Thatcher Effect. Ed. Dennis Kavanagh, Anthony Seldon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989) 239-50.
24 Bernard 125.
25 And, of course, Reagan's America, for, as Finney points out, "London and New York become interchangeable centers of rampant greed in the novel." [Brian Finney, "What's Amis in Contemporary British Fiction? Martin Amis's Money and Time's Arrow." (1999) The Martin Amis Web.]
26 It is worth considering whether Money is (an inverted version of) a Bildungsroman.
27 Cf. Thatcher's famous remarks made in an interview for Woman's Own published on October 31, 1987: "[W]ho is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first." (N.ed. Margaret Thatcher Foundation. N.d. 06 December 2006. URL: See web site - www.margaretthatcher.org.) Evans regards this as "the cultural essence of Thatcherism: make people stand on their own feet and replace a dependency with an enterprise culture." [Eric J. Evans, Thatcher and Thatcherism (London: Routledge, 1997) 122.]
28 From that point of view, it is also significant that the title of the movie Self wants to produce changes from "Good Money" to "Bad Money" (cf. 262).
29 Martin Amis in: Haffenden 13f.
30 Cf. Evans 31f.
31 Cf. Evans 115-18.
32 Peter Riddell, quoted in Stein 117.
33 Stein 123.
34 Margaret Thatcher in a speech delivered at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton on October 10, 1980. (N.ed. Margaret Thatcher Foundation. N.d. 06 December 2006. URL: See wb site.)
35 Nicolas Tredell, The Fiction of Martin Amis (A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism) (Cambridge: Icon, 2000) 74.
36 Diedrick 13.
37 Cf. Bruno Zerweck, Die Synthese aus Realismus und Experiment: Der englische Roman der 1980er und 1990er Jahre aus erzähltheoretischer und kulturwissenschaftlicher Sicht (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2001) and Amy J. Elias, "Meta-mimesis? The Problem of British Postmodern Realism." In: D'haen, Bertens.
38 Bernard 123.
39 The book is full of telling names such as John Self, Selina Street, Martina Twain, Scum, Miasma, Gargantuan etc. [Cf. the self-referring remark: "'Names are awfully important.[']" (331)]
40 Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel (London: Penguin, 2001) 451.
41 Richard Todd, "The Intrusive Author in British Postmodernist Fiction: The Cases of Alasdair Gray and Martin Amis." Exploring Postmodernism. Ed. Matei Calinescu, Douwe Fokkema (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1987) 124.
42 Mecklenburg 29.
43 Self, who earlier longed for "a stop or two" and "some semi-colons" (288), is leading a new life now that he is destitute. Thus, it is also significant that the first and only semi-colon in the book appears in the final sentence.
44 Karl Miller, Doubles: Studies in Literary History (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985) 412.
45 Or, since Martina Twain is the only character in the novel that is presented in an almost entirely positive light, the only one who "stands outside" (293), she may be considered as a representation of the superego as well.
46 Cf. Mecklenburg 52.
47 Miller 411.
48 Bradbury 455.
49 Elias 26.
50 Bernard 144.
51 Amis in: Haffenden 11.
52 Sullivan, Morrow, "Young, Gifted and Skint." The Official NMA Website. N.ed. 1984. 10 September 2004. URL: See website (www.newmodelarmy.org/FHOME.HTM).
53 Alex Ogg, "New Model Army." Booklet of Small Town England (Abstract Sounds, 1997).
54 Heaton, Sullivan, "Believe it." (1992) The Official NMA Website.
55 Sullivan et al., "Brave New World." (1985) The Official NMA Website.
56 Heaton, Sullivan, "Ballad of Bodmin Pill." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
57 Especially gender and race were of no little importance in the context of marginalization and exclusion: "The nation that was to be restored [by the Thatcher government] would render illegitimate the idea of a plural society in terms of both gender and race. The white nation and the patriarchal family as an ideological project marginalised and excluded many of the groups that began to assert their rights to full citizenship in the 1960s and 1970s." [Andrew Gamble, The Free Economy and the Strong State: The Politics of Thatcherism (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994) 198.] For a discussion of Thatcherism's (paradoxical) relationship to the so-called permissive society that developed in the 1960s cf. David Marquand, "The Paradoxes of Thatcherism." Thatcherism. Ed. Robert Skidelsky (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988) 165f.
58 Sullivan, Heaton, "Whirlwind." (1990) The Official NMA Website.
59 Sullivan, Heaton, "The Charge." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
60 Cf. Evans 118: "Britain [under Thatcher] was indoctrinated to consider material success the main, if not the only, goal and to embrace the so-called 'enterprise culture'."
61 Heaton, Sullivan, "Lurhstaap." (1990) The Official NMA Website.
62 Sullivan, Heaton, "Lights go out." (1985) The Official NMA Website.
63 Sullivan, Heaton, "Lights go out." (1985) The Official NMA Website.
64 Sullivan, Heaton, "Family." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
65 Sullivan, "Running in the Rain." (1983) The Official NMA Website.
66 It is by no means an accident that three of New Model Army's songs are entitled "1984" (1984), "Brave New World" (1985) and "Brave New World 2" (1985).
67 Sullivan, M. Dean, "R&(1999) The Official NMA Website. (Even though this song was written many years after Thatcher, its lyrics still seem to be a great reflection of the postmodern condition.)
68 In this context, it is worth considering whether Self's story in Money – as Laura L. Doan suggests (in: Tredell 74-79) – can be read as one of a 'working-class parvenu'.
69 Sullivan, Morrow, "Smalltown England." (1982) The Official NMA Website.
70 Sullivan, Heaton, "The Hunt." (1986) The Official NMA Website.
71 Sullivan, "Purity." (1990) The Official NMA Website.
72 For a full analysis of the continuity of Romanticism in modern (popular) culture cf. Christoph Reinfandt, Romantische Kommunikation: Zur Kontinuität der Romantik in der Kultur der Moderne (Heidelberg: Winter, 2003).
73 Sullivan, "Vagabonds." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
74 Sullivan, Heaton, Harris, "125 MPH." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
75 Sullivan, "Vagabonds." (1987) The Official NMA Website.
76 Sullivan, Heaton, "I love the World." (1988) The Official NMA Website.
77 Of course, both terms are here also used in the sense of "areas laden with meaning", that is as Cultural Studies concepts.
78 Sullivan, "1984." (1984) The Official NMA Website.
79 There are, of course, many possible starting points for a deconstruction of the group's lyrics, for example by raising questions concerning the authenticity of the allegedly broken 'unity bond' – is this lost unity not rather a very convenient myth? –, or by challenging the underlying principles of the rebellion and justice the group calls for: For, despite all their criticism, their only option seems to be a new romantic essentialism at least partly subscribing to the very system of values and beliefs they seek to repudiate. In this context, it is worth considering in how far Thatcher's individualism is derived from the same (romantic) roots.
80 Kiernan Ryan, "Sex, Violence and Complicity: Martin Amis and Ian McEwan." An Introduction to Contemporary Fiction: International Writing in English since 1970. Ed. Rod Mengham (Cambridge: Polity, 1999) 210.
81 Dominic Head, The Cambridge Introduction to Modern British Fiction, 1950-2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002) 243.
82 Ian Hamilton, "Martin and Martina." Rev. of Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis. London Review of Books 20 September-3 October 1984: 4.