It's a Battlefield Out There, Culturally Speaking byEdward Rothstein (FWD from NY Times)

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Dec 8 12:49:44 PST 1998

Louis Proyect wrote: However, genuine Marxism does

> not read like the Sparts. Mariategui, CLR James and Gramsci understood how
> class and non-class forms of oppression interacted dialectically. It was
> Stalinism that set a poor example for the intelligentsia.

Lou, it's difficult to cut a fine line here. Gramsci thought that housewives (workers' wives) were not proletarians but petty producers because they did not exchange their labor against capital for a wage. I agree with you on the whole though. After all the recent flurry on Judith Butler I decided that I would reread her *Bodies That matter*, and the first 3 pages of the Preface convinced me of two things: (a) Doug is correct that she makes one think, and several of her statements in those 3 pages have helped me clarify some things in my own mind. (b) She really is fundamentally wrong about almost everything, and when she's correct, she is affirming a concealed and mostly trivial tautology. It's been about 8 years since I read Harraway, but no reference to her I've come across has changed my initial view that she is a charlatan. The other "postmodernist" I have read (or tried to read), Julia Kristeva, always reminds me of an anecdote about Browning. It seems that some gentleman, ill with the flu or something, passed several days in more or less delerium When he recovered, a friend had left a pile of books at his bedside, one of them being Brownings *Sordello*. He read through about 2 pages and began calling for assistance, believing he had lost his mind. (*Sordello* is a delightful work, but Kristeva....) This comparison was brought to mind by my efforts over the last few days at reading Catherine Martin, "Fire, Ice, and Epic Entropy: The Physics and Metaphysics of Milton's Reformed Chaos," *Milton Studies* 35 (1997), 73-113. I haven't decided yet whether my intellect has been more or less permanently damaged by depression or Martin is as crazy as most others I've read who try to use "chaos theory" or thermodynamics for philosophical/literary/political analysis. We do need a "Sokal" who is free from Sokal's mere prejudices. (As someone who does suffer from a mental illness, depression, I claim the right to use "crazy" without any back talk from anyone on the list.)


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