Sunday, February 03, 2019

Class Monsters, Or Monsters of Class: Simone Weil's Contribution to a Bestiary of the Present



Simone Weil's "Sketch of Contemporary Social Life" is a text that seems oddly prescient at every turn, making Weil appear to be a seer as much as the saint she is often made out to be. There are references to what later generations would call "the culture industry," "financialization," and even the  theories that dominant contemporary politics. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Working Alone in America: On Lodge 49



The rise of "prestige television" could also be told as a story of the decline of the American dream. From Tony Soprano's nagging suspicion that "The best is over" to Frank Sobotka's assertion on The Wire that "We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket" so called prestige TV has been as much about the growing awareness of industrial decline as it has been sustained by complex narratives and characterization. Like a kind of Borgesian fable, American television has improved as the thing that it was about, daily life of the middle class, has unraveled. When nuclear families do appear they are just as likely to be fronts for Soviet spies or held together by lies and brutality. No show has taken this decline more literally than Lodge 49. At one point a character even utters the line "post-industrial capitalism."

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Welcome to Bizarro World: Part One


Lately, I have been thinking of Bizarro World. This is odd since I never really read many Superman comics growing up. I was mostly into Marvel comics. What I know of Bizarro world comes mainly from watching cartoons and the general cultural osmosis, despite being an obscure comic book character Bizarro even made it onto Seinfeld. What has provoked me into thinking about it is not the cultural history of the term, but its contemporary relevance. We seem to be living in an inverted world of sorts: capitalists call themselves workers, white supremacists claim to be an oppressed minority, and so on. Everything seems upside down and backwards. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Its Competition All the Way Down: On the Spontaneous Anthropology of Contemporary Capitalism



As much as people love to cite that ubiquitous remark by Fredric Jameson about the end of the world and the end of capitalism. You know the oneThere is another, less discussed line, that covers the same terrain of ideological struggle and the limits of the imagination that I prefer. It is, “The market is in human nature’ is the proposition that cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged; in my opinion, it is the most crucial terrain of ideological struggle in our time.”   

Monday, December 03, 2018

Lensgrinding: Spinoza on Work



With all of the attention on Spinoza by Marxists is is surprising how little is written about Spinoza and work. Spinoza has provided theories of ideology, of alienation, and even of the relation between forces and relations of production, it is surprising that few have remarked on what Spinoza actually says about labor or work. This is perhaps due to the fact that it would appear that there is little there, Spinoza's interests were elsewhere. There are only a few references to work in Spinoza, but I would argue that they are significant. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Transvaluation of Values: On Lordon's La Condition Anarchique

A glimpse of the cover, title, and timing of Lordon's latest book, La Condition Anarchique might lead one to suspect that the anarchic condition it refers to has something to do with financial crises. Which goes to reaffirm what they say about books and covers. The anarchic condition that Lordon is writing about not only has nothing to do with anarchism, nor with some kind of chaos, but with the very existence of values and norms. 

Monday, November 05, 2018

We Once Were Ungovernable: On Chamayou's La Société Ingouvernable



Perhaps the best way to make sense of the present order is to consider first the disorder, the contestation of the old order. This could be considered the autonomist hypothesis applied to politics, and it is the underlying method of Grégoire Chamayou’s La société ingouvernable: Une généalogie du libéralisme autoritaire. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Year of the Wolf, Part Two : On The Howling


Years ago I wrote what I jokingly consider my contribution to "Wolfen Studies."The other contributions to the field being Evan Calder Williams Combined and Uneven Apocalypse and Alberto Toscano and Jeff Kinkle's Cartographies of the Absolute.  In the comments to that post it was pointed out to me that Wolfen was one of three werewolf movies to be released in 1981; the other two films were The Howling and An American Werewolf in London. I initially thought of writing a post on all three, but dropped the idea. Now, years later, I returned to the notion. This October I have been watching a lot of old horror favorites from Hammer films to some classics from the eighties. I decided to rewatch The Howling. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Halo's Return: Two Versions of the Religion of Capital

Image from They Live 

Sometimes students ask me if I think that Marx was wrong about anything. Marxists are supposedly not known for independent thought. I always have a quick and easy answer, the point of reference is not something deep in Volume Three, but in one of the most well known and most cited passages of all. I am referring to the following passage from The Communist Manifesto. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

The Myth of the Paid Protester


This is probably the worst way to begin a blog post, but I can't shake the figure of the paid protester. I am less interested in the rights fascination with George Soros (something that others could analyze better) than I am with the particular mythology of the paid protester. Although, I will say this about the former, the specter of a billionaire using his money to influence politics seems strange coming from people who ostensibly have no categorical problem with billionaires using their money to influence politics. I guess it could be understood as part of the spectacular division of capital, just as there are "woke" and "MAGA" brands, there are woke and MAGA billionaires, opposition to the specific actions of one circumvents any discussion of the entire system.