Posts Tagged ‘Marx


Burgin’s In/Different Spaces

Victor Burgin

In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture

Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

·   To return is not necessarily to repeat, provided we approach the place we know by a different road

11: “Louis Althusser’s influential definition of ideology as ‘a system of representations’ had undermined the traditional Marxist theory of ideology.  No longer a ‘false consciousness’ (a dependent epiphenomenon of the political economy), ideology was theorized as a ‘relatively autonomous’ sphere of political struggle.  ‘In truth,’ Althusser wrote, ‘ideology has very little to do with ‘consciousness’ … It is profoundly unconsciousness


Castells’ The Information Age

Manuel Castells
The Information Age: vols. 1-3
Area: Digital Media
From Felix Stadler’s Review

•    Castells’ main argument is that a new form of capitalism has emerged at the end of this century: global in its character, hardened in its goals and much more flexible than any of its predecessors. It is challenged around the globe by a multitude of social movements on behalf of cultural singularity and people’s control over their own lives and environment.
•    This tension provides the central dynamic of the Information Age, as “our societies are increasingly structured around the bipolar opposition of the Net and the Self” (1996, p. 3).
•    The Net stands for the new organizational formations based on the pervasive use of networked communication media. Network patterns are characteristic for the most advanced economic sectors, highly competitive corporations as well as for communities and social movements.
•    The Self symbolizes the activities through which people try to reaffirm their identities under the conditions of structural change and instability that go along with the organization of core social and economic activities into dynamic networks.
•    Transformations amongst the trilogy
o    First: Changing relationships of production
o    Second: relationships of power and experience: crisis of the nation-state
o    Third: ties together the loose ends
•    Technology and society can’t be understood or represented without its technological tools
•    Rather than seeing identity as an effect, as a traditional Marxist would, he argues the opposite: identity-building itself is a dynamic motor in forming society
•    “A new society emerges when and if a structural transformation can be observed in the relationships of production, in the relationships of power, and in the relationships of experience” (1998, p. 340).
•    The first assumption structures Castells’ account of the rise of the Net: the dialectical interaction of social relations and technological innovation, or, in Castells’ terminology, modes of production and modes of development.
•    The second assumption underlies the importance of the Self: the way social groups define their identity shapes the institutions of society. As Castells notes “each type of identity-building process leads to a different outcome in constituting society” (1997, p. 8).
•    A society produces its goods and services in specific social relationships–the modes of production.
o    Since the industrial revolution, the prevalent mode of production in Western societies has been capitalism, embodied in a wide range of historically and geographically specific institutions to create and distribute profit.
o    The modes of development, on the other hand, “are the technological arrangements through which labor acts upon matter to generate the product, ultimately determining the level and the quality of the surplus” (1996, p. 16).
•    Identity is defined as “the process of construction of meaning on the basis of a cultural attribute, or related set of cultural attributes, that is/are given priority over other sources of meaning” (1997, p. 6).
•    Castells concludes that information technology evolves in a distinctively different pattern than previous technologies, thus constituting the “informational mode of development”: a flexible, pervasive, integrated and reflexive, rather than additive evolution. The reflexivity of the technologies, the fact that any product is also raw material because both are information, has permitted the speeding up of the process of innovation.
•    This new economy is informational because the competitiveness of its central actors (firms, regions, or nations) depends on their ability to generate and process electronic information. It is global because its most important aspects, from financing to production, are organized on a global scale, directly through multinational corporations and/or indirectly through networks of associations.
•    Rather than creating the same conditions everywhere, the global economy is characterized “by its interdependence, its asymmetry, its regionalization, the increased diversification within each region, its selective inclusiveness, its exclusionary segmentation, and, as a result of all those features, an extraordinarily variable geometry that tends to dissolve historical, economic geography” (1996, p. 106).
•    Its most distinct result is the emergence of what Castells calls the space of flows: the integrated global network. It comprises several connected elements: private networks, company Intranets; semi-public, closed and proprietary networks such as the financial networks; and public, open networks, the Internet. Social organizations reconstitute themselves according to this space of flows.
o    Technology: the infrastructure of the network.
o    Places: the topology of the space formed by its nodes and hubs.
o    People: the (relatively) secluded space of the managerial elite commanding the networks,
•    The space of flows has introduced a culture of real virtuality which is characterized by timeless time and placeless space.
•    Binary time expresses no sequence but knows only two states: either presence or absence, either now or never.
o    Within the space of flows everything that is the case is now, and everything that is not must be introduced from the outside: that is, it springs suddenly into existence.
•    Sequence is arbitrary in the space of flows and disorders events which in the physical context are connected by a chronological sequence.
•    Binary space, then, is a space where the distance can only be measured as two states: zero distance (inside the network) or infinite distance (outside the network), here or nowhere.
•    Power is concentrated in the intricate space of flows, to the extent that “the power of flows takes precedence over the flows of power” (1996, p. 469).
•    The classic embodiment of legitimizing identity, the nation state, is losing its power, “although, and this is essential, not its influence” (1997, p. 243).
•    Trapped between the increased articulation of diverse, often conflicting identities and the need to act on a global scene, the traditional democratic institutions–the civil society–are being voided of meaning and legitimacy: they lose their identity. The power of the political democracy, ironically at the moment when it reaches almost global acceptance, seems to be inevitably waning.


Arendt’s The Human Condition

Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
•    What is the human condition?
o    Thinking about what we’re doing
•    Driven by the urge to escape limitation
•    Mixed up to where we put out attention
•    Three activities: labor, work, action
•    Products of work→consumables of labor
•    Public realm demolished→social
•    Separate us, but join us
o    Subjectivity: my own perception—wants, desires, needs
o    Objectivity: our experiences available for someone else; perception of someone else; how things appear in the world
•    Reified when you’re the object for someone’s perception
•    Language doing similar things
•    Life isn’t the thing—constant deferral
o    Ethical: how do we act through deferral?
•    Words: speech → action
•    All things have potential
•    Can’t anticipate progress
•    Transcendence
o    Transcends instrumentality
o    Transcends its use
•    Things you do take into account things of the future
•    Appearing beyond my own perception
•    Immortality different from eternity
•    Singular achievement v. plurality
•    Conformity—behavior
o    Not action, not deciding for oneself
•    I am aware of other people being aware of me
•    Network of activity
o    Freedom of participation; not role in state
•    What does it mean to be a citizen of the body politic?
o    Negative liberties
•    Citizenry—the ability to not be involved where as before the involvement…
•    Being alone together
•    Real increase in the appearance of work
•    Progress as process
o    Virtue and excellence
•    Human activity—to make
o    Actions, words, deeds
•    Is there a rhetorical character to the things we make?
o    Transcendent?—reconditioned by the objects
•    Objects: join and separate
o    What is this influence? Private?
o    Does the private ever enter the private?
o    Inherently rhetorical?
•    Cognition, thought, logic
•    Are there reifications?
•    Decisions aren’t in the realm of the social
•    Rhetoric is the trope of remembrance
•    Speech becomes reified
•    Labor: returning the cycle
o    Labor will never disappear
•    Things about work that are more rhetorical
•    Reshapes being human
o    Influences each other
•    People want to escape limitations → technological
o    Power → I’ll do what I want
•    Staying in the world and making decisions
o    Not being created by circumstances
•    Not the rhetoric of being with social objects, but the political realm
•    Extended our human capabilities
•    Imperatives of behavior and choice
•    The human made environment
o    Rhetorical value
o    Different value that artifacts might have
•    Neither use nor expressive, but something else
•    Cultural integration
o    Social engineering v. public space
o    ≠ be together as individuals: take risks
•    Purpose of public space is to allow people to make its purpose
o    Almost purposeless
Pgs. 22-50
•    Public v. private: these terms have changed especially in the light of means to have freedom
•    Arendt begins by saying that action along is the prerogative of man and the desire for companionship is an animalistic behavior
•    We can be equals amongst our peers because freedom (the ability to be free from slavishness) is located exclusively in the political realm
•    In this chapter, freedom means not to be subject to the necessities of life or another and not to be in command oneself
•    Excellence distinguishes the individual and makes the public realm the proper place for excellence
Pgs. 50-73
•    How are the public and private realms similar? How are they different? They rely on each other because they are defined through each other.
•    Once one loses one’s privacy (freedom is no longer present; living for necessity) one stops being human
•    Public/private relates and separates everyone at the same time
•    We have to constantly be thinking as though we’re immortal: permanence and planning for the future
•    This permanence is a process rather than a place—family (private) isn’t considered permanent enough, must be in a public realm.
•    But…one needs private possessions more than common wealth
Pgs. 73-101
•    In this section, Arendt discusses the differences between work and labor and their connection to the vita activa.
•    In order to make the connection to work/labor, Arendt proposes that “good” stops existing once it is recognized within the self or in the public realm.
o    It is no longer “good” but simply an action.
•    In terms of productivity, Arendt uses Marx to illuminate the notion of excess, completion, enslavement, and constant reification
•    Laboring, unlike work, is never finished—it is a cyclical, sustaining process
•    Work is finished when a product is complete
•    Endurance depends upon repetition
Critical moments in the text
52-3: “The world, like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time.  The public realm, as the common world, gathers us together and yet prevents our falling over each other, so to speak.  What make mass society so difficult to bear is not the number of people involved, or at least not primarily, but eh fact that the world between them has lost its power to gather them together to relate and separate them.  The weirdness of this situation resembles a spiritualistic séance where a number of people gathered around a table might suddenly, through some magic trick, see the table vanish from their midst, so that two persons sitting opposites each other were no longer separated but also would entirely unrelated to each other by anything tangible.”
104: “Only when labor is abolished can the “realm of freedom” supplant the “realm of necessity.”
110: “What the modern age so heatedly defended what never property as such but the unhampered pursuit of more property or of appropriation.”
130: “The danger of the modern age’s emancipation of labor will not only fail to usher in an age of freedom for all but will result, on the contrary, in forcing all mankind for the first time under the yoke of necessity, was already clearly perceived by Marx when he insisted that the aim of a revolution could not possibly be the already-accomplished emancipation of the laboring classes, but must consist in the emancipation of man from labor.”
146-7: “What dominates the labor process and all work processes which are performed in the mode of laboring is neither man’s purposeful effort nor the product he may desire, but the motion of the process itself and the rhythm it imposes upon the laborers. […]  It is no longer the body’s movement that determines the implement’s movement but the machine’s movement which enforces the movements of the body.  […]  The decisive difference between tools and machines is perhaps best illustrated by the apparently endless discussion of whether man should be “adjusted” to the machine or the machine e adjusted to the “nature” of man.”
244: “Man’s inability to rely upon himself or to have complete faith in himself (which is the same thing) is the price human beings pay for freedom; and the impossibility of remaining unique master of what they do, of knowing its consequences and relying upon the future, is the price they pay for plurality and reality.”


Derrida’s Specters of Marx

Derrida: Specters of Marx
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
(Notes from the text)
Intro: How to learn to live finally; a time without tutelary present; Being-with specters would also be a politics of memory, inheritance, and of generations; future-to-come: proceeds from the future
xx: A spectral moment, a moment that no longer belongs to time, if one understands by this word the linking of modalized presents (past, present, actual present: ‘now,’ future present). We are questioning in this instant, we are asking outselves about this instant that is not docile to time, at least to what we call time. Furtive and untimely, the appartition of the specter does not belong to that time, it does not give time, not that one.
6: “The specter is a paradoxical incorporation, the becoming-body, a certain phenomenal and carnal form of the spirit. It becomes, rather, some “thing” that remains difficult to name: neither soul nor body, and both one and the other. For it is flesh and phenomenality that give to the spirit its spectral apparition, but which disappear right away in the apparition, in the very coming of the revenant or the return of the specter. There is something disappeared, departed in the apparition itself as reapparition of the departed. The spirit, the specter are not the same thing; but as for what they have in common, one does not know what it is, what it is presently. It is something that one does not know, precisely, and one does not know if precisely it is, if it exists, if it responds to a name and corresponds to an essence. One does not know: not out of ignorance, but because this non-object, this non-present present, this being-there of an absent or departed one no longer belongs to knowledge.”
10: “Repetition and first time: this is perhaps the question of the event as question of the ghost. What is a ghost? What is the effectivity or the presence of a specter that is, of what seems to remain as ineffective, virtual, insubstantial as a simulacrum? Is there there, between the thing itself and its simulacrum, an opposition that holds up? Repetition and first time, but also repetition and last time, since the singularity of any first time makes of it also a last time. Each time it is the event itself, a first time is a last time. Althogether other. Staging for the end of history. Let us call it a hauntology. This logic of haunting would be not merely larger and more powerful than an ontology or a thinking of Being (of the “to be.” Assuming that it is a matter of Being in the “to be or not to be,” but nothing is less certain).”
17: Since the future, then, since the past as absolute future, since the non-knowledge and the non-advent of an event, of what remains to be: to do and to decide. If “since Marx” names a future-to-come as much as a past, the past of a proper name, it is because the proper of a proper name will always remain to come.
18: Time is out of joint: time is disarticulated, dislocated, dislodged, time is run down, on the run and run down, deranged, both out of order and mad. Time is off its hinges, time is off course, beside itself, disadjusted.
31: No differance without alterity, no alterity without singularity, not singularity without here-now.
39: Why in both cases is the specter felt to be a threat? What is the time and what is the history of a specter? Is there a present of the specter? Are its comings and goings ordered according tot eh linear succession of a before and an after, between a present-past, a present-present, and a present-future, between a ‘real time’ and a ‘deferred time’?
97: The one who has disappeared appears still to be there, and his apparition is not nothing. It does not do nothing. Assuming that the remains can be identified, we know better than ever today that the dead must be able to work.
99: There are several times of the specter. It is a proper characteristic of the specter, if there is any, that non one can be sure if by returning it testifies to a living past or to a living future, for the revenant may already marks the promised return of the specter of living being.
100: There is no Dasein of the specter, but there is not Dasein without the uncanniness, without the strange familiarity of some specter.
101: The specters appears to present itself during a visitation.
102: (Since this singular end of the political would correspond to the presentation of an absolutely living reality, this is one more reason to think that the essence fo the political will always have the inessential figure, the very anessessence of a ghost.
109: The conjuration is anxiety from the moment it calls upon death to invent the quick and to enliven the new, to summon the presence of what is not yet there.
109: The dividing link passes between a mechanical reproduction of the specter and an appropriation that is so alive, so interiorizing, so assimilating of the inheritance and of the ‘spirits of the past’ that it is none other than the life of forgetting, life as forgetting itself. And the forgetting of the maternal in order to make the spirit live in oneself.
110: This forgetting is only a forgetting. For what one must forget will have been indispensable. One must pass through the pre-inheritance, even if it is to parody it, in order to appropriate the life of a new language or make the revolution. And while the forgetting corresponds to the moment of living appropriation, Marx nevertheless does not valorize it simply as one might think. Things are very complicated. One must forget the specter and the parody, Marx seems to say, so that history can continue. But of one is content to forget it, then the result is bourgeois platitude: life, that’s all. So one must not forget it, one must remember it but while forgetting it enough, in this very memory, in order to ‘find again the spirit of the revolution without making its specter return.
115: All the same, in the past revolution, when the gravediggers were alive, in sum, the phrase exceeded the content. Whence the anachrony of a revolutionary present haunted by its antique models. But in the future, and already in the social revolution of the nineteenth century still to come in Marx’s view (the whole novelty fo the new would inhabit this social dimension, beyond the political or economic revolution, the anachrony or untimeliness will not be erased in some plentitude of the parousia and the presence to itself of the present. Time will still be ‘out of joint.’
117: Must one not think that the loss of the body can affect the specter itself? To the point that it is then impossible to discern between the specter and the specter of the specter, the specter searching for proper content and living effectivity?
123: The history of the ghost remains a history of phantomalization and the latter will indeed be a history of truth, a history of the becoming-true of a fable, unless it is the reverse, a fabulation of truth, in any case a history of ghosts. The phenomenology of spirit describes (1) the relation of consciousness to the object as truth or as relation to the truth as mere object; (2) the relation of consciousness, insofar as it is the true, to the object; (3) the true relation of consciousness with truth

From Tom Lewis’ essay, “The Politics of ‘Hauntology’ in Derrida’s Specters of Marx,” in Ghostly Demarcations:

140: “In this light, Derrida goes on to assert the need to replace ‘ontology’ with its near homonym ‘hauntology’: ‘To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here a hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism.’

July 2017
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