By Joshua Clover

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It also took part in a rejiggering of the popular representation of Black youth and the Black underclass in general, one with substantive problematic social implications and lineages. This is the emergence traced in this chapter: not of a new genre, but of a change within a genre so substantial, with such cultural force, that it feels more unsettling than the simply new—as if the earth had suddenly reversed the direction of its spin. The shift can be glossed as that from the style of Nation of Millions to the style of Straight Outta Compton; or of East Coast to West Coast; or from soul samples typified by James Brown to funk beats exemplified by Parliament-Funkadelic.

Rather, it means to wonder over the vanishing process that allows such a consolidation—that indeed requires it—and to understand pop as participating in that process, even as it struggles to register what is amiss within it. The unified and uncontested account is itself a kind of end of history—the thinning of historicity into a single idea, the image-event in the form of an idea. What does the popular meaning of “1989” offer, after all, if not unity and coherence? introduction 19 T he M agic of the M oment The concluding motions of Part Two look to the discontinuities of Fuku­ yama’s account, and pop’s relation to it.

What is at stake is 20 introduction the extent to which, in these cases, the political, economic, religious, juridical, and cultural spheres seem to have collapsed into a self-same, eccentric orbit of deterritorialized conflict, of which each local hot war can’t quite manage to be an instance. And so it is that, for example, cultural Islam finds itself part of a war zone that is no less real for being an ideological phantasm. One of the ironies of this book is that it begins with a foot in both wars: in the late hours of the Cold War, but also in cultural Islam as it was most visible in America at that time.

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