Lacan, Orwell, and the Illusion of the Big Br-Other

1984-John-HurtIt is perhaps redundant and obvious to say, with the hindsight of the 20th century, that Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, turned out to be quiete exact and uncannily accurate: a judgment so obvious and redundant that it was assimilated in our collective literary imagination as something “given.” Continue reading

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A Typewriter and a Renaissance Man’s Libido

images My beloved wife decided to buy me a typewriter. Not an old school one (expensive and always needing lot of careful maintenance) but a more modern electronic typewriter that can get the job done just fine. Why?  Continue reading

Kant, Schlegel, Derrida, and Negative Representation

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What happens when the philosophical investigation reaches its limits? Why does the philosophical investigation strive to cross these same limits? How does such striving change the philosophical investigation itself?

I will give a very general outline of these problems as a preparatory work for future posts on the negativity in dialectical logic and more specifically in dialectic materialism. My focus is on three authors: Kant, Friedrich Schlegel, and Derrida viewed in their common effort to represent the unrepresentable or at least to define, within the horizon of what can be represented, the nature of the unrepresentable.

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A Relative Objectivity

objectivity1Numbers don’t lie. Or shouldn’t. Like everything else, numbers can become a rhetorical device of deception, the subtle instrument of a cunning persuasion. There is something Machiavellic about numerical constructions. Especially in mathematical equations which too often we mistake as the simple establishment of an identity between two terms.

Modern economics -that so much resembles what Marx used to call the ‘vulgar economy’- seems to feed on this confusion, generating what it is a paradoxical relative objectivity.

Frederick Jameson, in his Representing Capital, asserts that Capital could be seen, among other things, as an attempt to resolve the “riddle of the equation.” In other words: if we are all good people who exchange commodities or sell them (i.e. exchanging them for money) for a reciprocal benefit, if we buy and sell according to fair laws, how is it possible to make profit out of an exchange?

If we pay the right amount of money, if we give something to receiving something in return as an equal and fair counterpart, how is it possible for someone to gain any wealth through this simple operation? There is of course some sort of mystification at work disguised by the technicality of modern economic theory. The numbers contribute to entrench the riddle of the equation behind a protective wall. Continue reading

The Great Hoax

7ec57c086b1d7f10276acec40a77d95dNothing is easier than to spend money, whether for pleasure or for need. Much harder is to earn that same money. Even harder it is to spend money we don’t own and the hardest it is to pay back the money we borrowed, whether for pleasure or for need. Either way, it is the possibility to spend that money that can make our day bright or miserable: buying food, paying the bills, sending kids to school, going on a vacation, buying a book, enjoying an evening out and so forth. Little daily actions that may change the overall perception of our existence: which food we can afford to buy, which school we can afford to attend, which cities we can afford to visit and which drinks we can afford to drink. Either way, it is all in the numbers that we see on the receipt of a grocery store, or in the balance of our bank account. Either way, we need those numbers to add up to what we need or desire.

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The Senile Illness of Humanist Marxism

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One of the questions that I am frequently asked when my interest for Marx is unveiled is whether I am a communist or, if the inquirer is versed in some leftist reading, whether I still believe in the possibility of a revolution. Often I am asked what I think about Stalin and the gulags, if I support China and North Korea, and if I admit in light of the history after 1989, that communism is in theory a beautiful thing, but that in reality it is only a totalitarian regime not that different from Fascism and National Socialism. Once I am busted with a book of Marx, I am inquired why I don’t go and live in Cuba if, after all, communism is such a beautiful thing, and why I don’t give up using technology and the comforts that only a capitalist society can give me.

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