In my next to final essay, "Discipline and Photograph . . . ," I further assimilate Giddens's thinking to my own project, a study of the representation of prison and prisoners, noting that becoming social is not viewed in monological terms — asserting the primacy of either the agent or structure — but on the cognitive level, as — notes Giddens — ". . . mastery of the 'dialogical' contexts of communication. Such mastery is by no means wholly discursive, but involves the accumulation of practical knowledge of the conventions drawn upon in the production and reproduction of social interaction'." Thus, this inquiry into Danny Lyon's and Morrie Camhi's photobooks, and Gary Glassman/Jonathan Borofsky's and Stephen Roszell's video tapes assumes that the carceral regime is a discursive space that exists through the actions and interactions of its participants in and out of prison.

Stills from Glassman/Borofsky's
videotape Prisoners (1990)

"Meaning-worlds" are produced which reflect the ongoing, lived experience of the various people caught up within the discursive regime that is the penitentiary: inmates, guards, and their families, the prison administration, reformers, and revolutionaries. These carceral meaningworlds are produced/reproduced in the various representations of the prison, prisoners, and staff. The four texts under scrutiny are examined not as simply embodying, as Fredric Jameson put it, "some commonsense external reality," but as "always be[ing] (re)constructed after the fact."

Cartes-de-visites mugshot card, anonymous (1899)

As my discussion moves to its conclusion, I address, borrowing from insights by Jurij Lotman, the relationship between the person who initiates the carceral investigation, the inmate, and the prison that constrains him/her as embodied in the mutual implication of agent and structure:

One recalls Adorno's observation in Negative Dialectics (1973): "In the age of the concentration camp, castration is more characteristic of social reality than competitiveness." As the essay develops, I further discuss the agency/structure debate in terms of repressive, honorific, and ironic representations of the carceral subject, detailing both 19th-century and recent instances of these functions of representation. In this context it is again pertinent to cite Adorno's Negative Dialectics — "To use the strength of the subject to break through the fallacy of constitutive subjectivity "— for his words seem to shadow Giddens's notion of the duality of structure and address the theme of my investigation of the carceral. Martin Jay, discussing Adorno's thinking on this issue, cites from the "Introduction" to the latter's The Positivist Dispute in German Sociology (1976): This discussion of agency and structure attempts to read their relationship as more complex than a simple binary opposition through an overcoming of an either/or logic with a both/and model which I see as closely figuring Jacques Derrida's "logic of the supplement" which overturns all such oppositional logic. This essay, drawn from prefatory and introductory remarks to a lengthier study of the carceral regime, functions here to introduce, to provide a background for, my concluding essay which further develops the subversion of such simple antinomies by drawing upon Derrida's logic of the supplement and applying it to a specific body of artwork. Derrida, thus, examines the production of inside and outside in itself, finding something even more subtle (it seeks to hide), more primary (the opposition between inside and outside is the matrix for all possible oppositions, such as the agency/structure opposition), and more violent (an irruptive force) than Lotman's static structuralist formulation. The Saltzman-inmate collaborations figure Derrida's simultaneous "double-play" of deconstruction as an oscillation between two rebellious gestures toward the "architecture" (understood as both discursive and physical) of the prison-house: the first, an escape attempt without changing terrain, uses against this carceral edifice the instruments or stones already available in the prison-house; the second, an absolute break, asserts difference by irruptively attempting to displace the inmates from their carceral confines. The result? A revelation that the prison-house, the carceral regime, is founded upon a discursive abyss, but so founded as to hide that abyss, to prevent the discovery that it is not unshakable. Saltzman's collaborations figure that abyss. Although the final two essays of this anthology explicitly examine structure and agency within the context of the carceral, the attempt to conceptualize them beyond a simple binarism so as to reveal the fragility of all architectures of thought underlies each and every essay herein.

— James R. Hugunin, Chicago, IL