War as a happening thing

rc-am rcollins at netlink.com.au
Sun Jan 23 22:35:00 PST 2000

Justin wrote:

> I expressed puzzlement over Angela's comment, to my cryptic, that
> pomo-bashing is a way of implicitly asserting that nothing has changed
> since the 30s. She rexplains as below, by saying (1) pomo reflects in a
> idealistic way real changes,

I thought I was explicity trying not to counterpose 'ideas' to 'reality'. I used the word "aestheticisation", because this is seems to mark out both the word 'postmodern' itself (as in modernity, postmodernity) AND responses (from a good many marxists, perhaps litcritter marxists) to it. Those changes that I refered to would include the collapse of the dichotomy between aesthetic and economic, for instance.

Perhaps a citation from Montag might help clear matters up, or perhaps confuse them more, but in a better direction -- a later posting.

> and (2) you better get used to it because those changes
> have made marxism obsolete.

I have never once said or implied this. Have you read the chapter in _Capital v1_ entitled "Results of the Immediate Process of Production"? In there, you'll find the concepts of real and formal subsumption I was referring to.

> [much of pomo is] incomprehensive gobbledy gook

That's interesting. Because, whilst perhaps too concise, I thought I was being really quite clear in the para you infer all sorts of things from.

Which suggests instead, once again, that what is incomprehensible to someone does not reside in the clarity or otherwise of words, nor even of something called technical language (?), but in the familiarity or otherwise with an idiom, debates, presuppositions, biography, reading list, ragged (or numb) nerve endings, etc. It could be bad writing, of course; but in this particular instance I doubt it is (or, is just that), since what prompts your missunderstanding that I think marxism is obsolete is not picking up on a reference to a piece of marx's , perhaps lesser known, conceptual offerings. Remove the words "real and formal subsumption", "mode of production", perhaps "aestheticisation", and I can't see any jargon at all -- and yet, there is missunderstanding, incomprehension!

> It reduces otherwise promising young people to chanters of jargon

Kids today!

PS. I'd highly recommend Rebecca Comay's article on Rorty. I'll chase up refs if you're interested. Also Negri and Hardt have a few interesting things to say about Rorty in _Labor of Dionysus_.

Angela (all the markings of a misspent youth.) ----------- I'd written:

I've argued a number of times that postmodernism is another way -- an aestheticised and/or idealistic way -- of talking about changes to the mode of production, for which we might look to concepts such as real and formal subsumption as a way of indicating and talking about those changes. Those who bemoan 'pomos' really enact a similar aestheticisation by rendering it as a cultural choice, philosophical brand-name, or job competitor in litcrit depts -- ie., whilst some folks complain that 'pomo' is not marxism, they can't manage to deliver a marxist analysis of what this might be. Implicit here is the assertion that nothing has _really_ hanged (by which 'really' is taken to mean actual practices, the ways in which life is produced and reproduced, etc), and hence that 'pomo' comes from the skies, someone's head, the world of ideas -- merely (!) ideas.

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