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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lines of Fracture: Hephaestus' Golem

Lines of Fracture: Hephaestus' Golem:Hank Stolte of Lines of Fracture will be featured in UT's Literary and Arts Journal Anelecta 38

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Uncanny Associations

From the U of Chicago Media Glossary
Thus, a medium becomes uncanny not when it “comes  
to life,” but when it becomes apparent that it was alive
all along. All media are potentially uncanny and, as
Mitchell reflects, we may some day be forced to
consider the possibility that behind it all there exists 
only “‘ourselves,’ and our obscure objects of desire.”

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Althusser - Ranciere Controversy Part II

The main problem with Althusser's theory for Ranicere is this: 

     [I]deology for Althusser is quite capable of possessing the same status as that conferred on the      State by classical metaphysical thought. And his analysis is capable of reinstating the myth of      an ideological state of nature...Ideology is not seen from the start as the site of struggle. It is not      related to two antagonists but to a totality of which it forms a natural element. 
English: Louis with a cigar Español: Foto de L...
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        I remember reading the ISA's essay in high school and being utterly baffled. I remember reading it last year in Western Marxism, and after going over my notes, Althusser seemed then to have offered a much more rigorous and cogent method for systematically engaging the paradoxes surrounding the problem of false consciousness, who's doing the duping, is it more than or other than mere duping, what's the role of desire and so on. But I also remember staring at sentences being utterly confused, such as the one on the question of stepping outside of ideology. I found reading the essay this year to be much easier, yet it did not sit well with me. The turbulent cascading of new publics, the over-saturation of ideological content, the hybridization of both content and the relations of knowledge production etc.. lead me ot believe that Marxist criticism cannot transcend the contemporary relations of production if it remains solely a question of the proper, scientific interpretation of the entire unfolding of events, of the revolutions, and their repression, before your eyes. One need not repeat Thesis 11, to Althusser it was tainted by a humanist naivete.  

         I don't think Althusser necessarily deserves as harsh of a treatment as Ranciere does, but the wellspring of Ranciere's vitriol also produced some more rigorous gems. By turning ideology into a natural element of man's environment, Althusser effectively conceals the profoundly basic determination of class antagonism - the relationship between labourers and non-labourers is what has characterized and determined all societies at their most basic level; granted the ways in which this determination occurs changes in accord with the evolution of societies.  

         Althusser takes the function of the dominant ideology to be the function of Ideology. By understanding Science as the Other of Ideology, Althusser reduces the class struggle to vigilante criticism. Even if this is hyperbolic, or wrong, or unscientific in reference to Althusser, I don't think its wrong to say that  those who adopt the more orthodox or structuralist forms of ideological criticism are far better at saying no, than nodding yes, than affirming a sacred yea-saying, than tasting the ecstasy of communion. Paranoia runs deep within Marxist veins, the cultural critics are like a weird, warped reflection of Ron Paul - only less witty. 

By a process which detaches ideology form the system of instances, and erases the main division of the ideological field to create a psace in Marxist theory which it then shars out between science and ideology. The functioning of the Science/Ideology opposition depends on the re-establishment of a space homologous to that which the whole metaphysical tradition assumes by opposing Science to its Other; thus supporting the closure of a universe of discourse, divided into the realms of the true and the false, into the world of Science and that of its Other (opinion, error, illusion, etc.). If one fails to grasp that ideology is fundamentally the site of struggle, of a class struggle, it immediately slips into this place determined by the history of metaphysics: the place of the Other of Science (Ranciere, 4). 

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The Ambivalent Body

The disabled body is the unheimlich, that which is unhomeley, uncanny, the grotesque, that figure of abjection we project as having declared a figment of our imagination once puberty hit, that anxious nightmare which is scary precisely because it hits too close to home.
The ambivalent body which is deeply unsettling, yet all too familiar. It evokes compassion, but only as an instinctive, visceral reaction. A compassion which is comforting because it is an autonomic response. We have been bathing in humanitarianism for so long that our ethical pores have become pruney, saturated to the point of exhaustion.
How can we learn to attune ourselves to the trajectories of intercorporeal generosity?
To an embodied relationality lived in the flesh and blood?
To an ethics of care that tears through the fabric of false certainty and the fictional surfaces of individually wrapped, pre-packaged and itemized contained selves?
I crashed my bike on the way to campus today, I cut my arm and feel a limp as I walk. I brushed against the pavement more so than death, but nonetheless, I realized that my embodiment was not as secure as it seemed. 
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Althusser - Ranciere Controversy Part 1

‘Lessons of May’
Studying the Althusserian theory of ideology demands a return to’68, when the question of the University provided the best teaching lesson that ever filled those lecture halls. Althusser’s work surged like Santorum in the wake of the ‘failures’ of ’68. The lack of a structured transition from spontaneous revolt to proper class organization was diagnosed as symptomatic of a lack in theoretical adequacy in the understanding of the Marxist paradigm; and Althusser’s scientific theoreticism seemed to satisfy the desire.
            Many however have taken up arms against the revisionist and metaphysical tendentiousness of Althusser, but more so of his immediate followers. Jacques Ranciere very notably attacked the theory, by describing the ways in which Althusser’s general theory of Ideology depoliticizes and conceals the fundamental origin of ideology; and in its worst forms supplies the fodder for “the ideological counter-revolution” (10). 
        In the 1973 afterword to Ranciere’s 1969 essay “On the theory of ideology (the politics of Althusser)” he even goes as far as saying that the re-approprations of Althusser’s metaphysics led to “A creation of neither working class consciousness, nor Marxist theory, but of the Stalinist State machine” (12). 
        The ‘lessons of May’ deduced a binary between ideology and science, and subsequently bourgeois and proletarian ideology , that represented the terrain of ideological struggle as posed between two homogenous entities, which were in reality quite heterogeneous.
        It is a system of power relations that is always fragmentary because it defines a certain number of conquests always provisional because it is not produced by the apparatuses but by the development of struggle (12).    

              The Althusserian operation of applying class analysis ‘in the last instance’ discloses the cunning of capitalist reason as a desubjectified operation of a structure in general, an explicitly inhuman analysis which reduces Marxist criticism to an empty formalistic exercise defined according to scientific standards of ‘bourgeois rigor;’ an academic exercise which ultimately voids the class struggle of its lifeblood.

Proletarian ideology is neither the summary of the representations or positive values of the workers, nor the body of ‘proletarian’ doctrines. It is a stopped assembly-line, an authority mocked, a system of division between particular jobs of work abolished, a mass fight-back against ‘scientific’ innovations in exploitation, and it is the ‘bare-foot doctor’ or the entry of the working class into the Chinese university. Mass practices produced by the anti-capitalist struggle whose uniqueness is missed as soon as one tries to set a proletarian philosophy, justice or morality against the philosophy, justice or morality of the bourgeoisie (12).
While Ranciere admits his analysis was deliberately one-sided, there are many beneficial attributes of Althusser’s insights into the nature of ideology, but more on that later. 

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The Joy of Being a Workers' Defender

Bathing in the unbearable beatitude, lightness, and joy of working for the worker:

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Strange Foreign Bodies

The body exposes itself to the depths of its guts, between the fibers of its muscles and along its vessels. It exposes the inside to the outside and always escapes further, deeper into the abyss that it is. However this is the truth of the world: it comes out of nothing, it is created, which means that it is unproduced, unformed, and not constructed. It is an alteration and a spasm of nihil. The world is an explosion and an expansion of an exposure (which can be called “truth”, or “meaning”). The chiasm of the body and of the world exposes exposure to itself—and with it, the impossibility to finally bring the world to the spirit, and bring meaning to significance.
The body is a strangeness which is not preceded by familiarity.

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