Sunday, September 30, 2012

After the Future(s): On Looper

"The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language."--Karl Marx

"Time travel has not yet been invented. But thirty years from now, it will have been," is the opening narration that sets up Rian Johnson's Looper. The movie is set in 2044, a time before the invention of time travel but after its effects. It is a movie with two futures, neither particularly good. Time travel, it appears, was no sooner invented than it was outlawed. It is only used by criminal syndicates some thirty years in the (second) future, where it is apparently easier to send a man back in time than it is dispose of a body. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Be More Productive": Marx, Foucault, Macherey

Crappy image of a Foucault Loves Marx T-Shirt

"La nécessité dans la liberté : c’est la grande invention du capitalisme." Pierre Macherey

The good folks at Viewpoint have published a (new) translation of Michel Foucault's "Les Mailles du Pouvoir." This was originally a lecture that Foucault gave in Salvador, Brazil. It was published in Dits et Écrits, but was not included in the truncated Essential Works of Michel Foucault, a collection which is less an abridged version of the comprehensive French collection than it is a repackaging of Foucault's already published works. Unfortunately, "Essential" is less a descriptive term than it is a performative one, and this collection will probably be the official word on Foucault's writing. Which is too bad, the "Mesh of Power" (to use the name of the translation) is one of those texts that, to borrow a phrase from Foucault, would have saved many of us a lot of time. By "us" I mean those that were interested in the relation between Marx and Foucault.

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Previous Post Continued: Parting Thoughts on Breaking Bad's Fifth Season

In Book Two of  the Politics Aristotle famously criticizes those who pursue wealth without limit, those who fail to understand that wealth acquisition should be subordinated to household management. Much of the discussion on this passage focuses on the distinction between "proper" and "improper" use as precursors of use value and exchange value. The proper use of a shoe being wearing it and the improper use being its exchange. Those who pursue wealth, who endlessly accumulate, forget that the proper use of money is a means of exchange, not accumulation.