Q: can/should the colour blue be reclaimed for the left? pic.twitter.com/yiIynDgoBW
— bat020 (@bat020) February 13, 2014
In answering this question, I want to contextualise the political aesthetics of blue, so to speak. This won't even touch anything like a fully-considered genealogy of the aesthetic usage of blue, but constitutes what I would consider to be a paradigmatic 'sampling'.
What I find interesting is that all social movements, from 1968 onwards, tend to confidently assert that they are 'not a unified social movement'. This even goes for the latest neoreactionary groups like the 'Dark Enlightenment'. Indeed the fact that a deep unease over asserting any kind of unity, long used as a kind of shibboleth for the new social movements, can so easily be accommodated to the new political Right, is deeply troubling. After this point, whatever was distinctly politically Leftist about the systematic rejection of 'totalising' forms of social unity, especially when the rhetoric is uncritically and unthinkingly reproduced by groups on the Left, begins to evaporate. How many accounts of social movements and groups begin by including the disclaimer, 'of course, _____ is not, and never was, a unified social force'? In this ubiquitous and flippant usage, not even functioning as a token Deleuzean valorisation of 'difference' over 'dialectic', it risks meaning virtually nothing. It risks shading into continuity with late capitalism, which has itself functioned perfectly 'through the management and distribution of differences' (Noys 2010:x)
A few select quotations from the late Stuart Hall:
“By enabling us to think about different levels and different kinds of determination, For Marx gave us what Reading Capital did not: the ability to theorize about real historical events, or particular texts (The German Ideology, Marx & Engels, 1970), or particular ideological formations (humanism) as determined by more than one structure (i.e., to think the process of overdetermination). I think ‘contradiction’ and ‘overdetermination’ are very rich theoretical concepts—one of Althusser’s happier ‘loans’ from Freud and Marx; it is not the case, in my view, that their richness has been exhausted by the ways in which they were applied by Althusser himself.
Posted on facebook recently, this early 1990s 'Viz.' parody of the red-top / tabloid hatred of benefits recipients during the last Tory recession leads me to make several points. In fact I think that realistically I could write all day and possibly all week about it, but I will limit myself to just three:
Yet another 'thread' or topical conversation between members of a revolutionary group on social media (to which I was not actually a party at the time, although being and remain a member) chronicling various responses to two hyperlinks--firstly, the Rich Russian Socialite Who Likes to Sit on People-shaped Chairs, the Pictured One Being Black to Provoke Reaction and Publicity; and secondly, The Perverted Negress, A Black Woman Specialising in BDSM Subordination, or 'Bottoming'--led recently to another of those débâcles which increasingly seem to characterise the British Left. Taking 'full transparency' at its word, here is reproduced one of the outcomes, in the form of the email meted out to members:
So, a brief pause in What I Am Supposed To Be Doing allows me a little time now.
Christmas, New Year, taking stock, serial visitations by the retinue of the dead...
Psychoanalysis theorises the process by which the renunciation of pleasure spontaneously reverses into the pleasure of renunciation. I've always felt this particular perversion was a very British Thing, and if so it would explain why something like 'austerity' can be so readily accepted and unopposed in the UK.
You know that book you are reading that gets you feeling "I should have read this one first, before I tackled ... [insert difficult work of Hegel / Kant / Irigaray / Lacan / whoever]"? Well, if you had actually read it first, it wouldn't have worked in that way at all. Its precise role is to retroactively organise the material content you had already won in the fire of intellectual struggle but never registered at a formal level. That struggle for content can't simply be skipped even though it appears fruitless at the time.
My age, my beast, who can
Gaze into your pupils
And with his blood cement
The vertebrae of two centuries?
Blood the Builder gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
The parasite must tremble
On the threshold of new days.
A creature drags its backbone
As long as it's alive,
While a wave toys
With the invisible spine.
The age of infant earth
Is like a child's soft cartilage -
Again the tender skull of life
Is brought to sacrifice like a lamb.
To wrest the age from captivity,
To begin a new world,
We must bind together like a flute
The knees of knobby days.
The age rocks the wave
With human anguish,
And the grass adder breathes
The golden rhythm of the age.
Although the buds will swell,
And a spray of green will sprout
Your spine has been broken,
My fair, pitiful age!
And with a meaningless smile
You look back, cruel and weak,
Like a once-agile beast,
On the track of its own prints.
Blood the Builder gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
And the warm cartilage of the seas,
Splashes to shore like a hot fish.
And from the high bird net,
From the damp azure boulders
Pours, pours indifference
On your mortal wound.
Been busy with 20th c. Art Historical work at present, with little time for blogging or indeed interaction with any kind of sentient beings. In the background I've also been beavering away collating information for definitions of the following, somewhat random, list of terms: Gedankending, Structural Causality, Overcoding, Structure of Feeling, Seriality, Practico-inert, Plane of Immanence, Molar vs. Molecular, Cultural Privatisation, and Constitutive Excess.
K-punk may be right about depressive hedonism characterising the present level of culture, but if so then at least there's an ascetic joy to theory.
The work of Maurizio Lazzarato on 'the indebted man' is surprising. I've had it lying around for a few weeks and not had to time to dip into it but find myself glad I did so today, as it is helping me piece together more of my wiki page on neoliberalism. The following is a slightly amended version of a section on that page, which I felt was too significant given the current political and media climate not to publish to the blog.