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Archive for June 12th, 2009

badiou baddles, me being somewhat angry, whatever

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I’ve been watching the recent blogwars over Badiou with only a tiny bit of interest. I don’t have a dog in this fight, really, as I’m neither a Badiou fan (or ex-fan) nor am I a Badiou scholar. I don’t even seem to be a wholy paidup Britblogger, despite rather thick personal affiliation with some of the key parties. I think a critique of Badiou might figure in the thing I’m losing all my books for re-writing, but it’s going to take some seriously fast reading and probably a bit of help from those who know better than I do.

So what follows comes strictly from the perspective of academic-intellectual sociology, a field or approach that I’m getting more and more interested in, as I hope will come through in a future post on something that’s got me a little bit excited right now, once the book in question gets here and I read it. But for now… A little spur of points emerging from a reading of K-Punk’s latest offering.

1) Of course, I would resist the blurring of political / philosophical work into pop/indie music critique. I am somewhat embarrassed about the music that I listen to (though I have a great post in the hopper about it! watch!) and I haven’t read a music magazine since I used to buy Spin along with Nirvana CDs from the Sam Goody near the movie theater in my hometown. And I suppose that I would be all to open to some sort of response along the lines that I like my politics to come in the shape of a really fine review of a new novel. Maybe, who knows, that’s true.

But I will say this, strictly as an outsider. I’m not sure I can think of a more perfect cultural simulation of consumer market mechanisms that the the indie music review scene. Really – it outpaces even the the fanciest dreams of the people who sell us the iPods and the Volkswagens. Nothing is to linger, nothing is to become well-worn if only half-loved (like my current laptop, for instance) – it’s all A-Bomb readjustment against the last years band and in favor of the next new thing. Here’s K-Punk:

One of the strange things about Badiou is the curious retrospective temporality of his literally post-modernist philosophy – this is what it was to be a militant, this is what it was to fall in love… well, yes, but, now what? What’s rousing about The Meaning Of Sarkozy is precisely the call to start again from nothing. We need to take him at his word here. Badiou has led us through the desert of the hyperreal, but the promised land turns out to be a scorched earth where the raddled old communist ideas, terms and histories cannot take root. Time for the last of the 68 fathers to be ushered offstage. Time for speculative realism to come to the centre.

Nary a word about why speculative realism’s time is now, and very little about Badiou’s obsolescence, other than the fact that he says in The Meaning of Sarkozy, um, exactly what K-Punk keeps saying about this being the Year Zero of something or other. See the next point….

2. “well, yes, but now what?” Yes, it’s a very good question. But a hard one. And all I keep hearing in posts like these is that it’s time for commitment, commitment to commitment, commitment to saying that it’s time for commitment, and finally, and most concretely, commitment to saying that it’s time for commitment to organization.

Now look. This is what good leftists (or whatever they are at this point) say when it’s time to be a good leftist (or whatever). No one, ever, beats the call for and to organization. Everything else is abstract and academic, right? But I’d like to make a modest proposal at this point. Could we ban the call to organization as a rhetorical device when it comes in the absense of an actual plan toward efficient organization? Because otherwise it’s just attitudinising – posturing in a way that’s as or far more shallow that they very things that are up for critique. We all agree that it’s a good time to think about organization, but if it become nothing more than something that you call for at the end of your posts, we’re still really no further along that we were before you started typing, are we? Does speculative realism offer a plan of action? If so, please inform as to what it is. If not, and if that is the matter at hand, why is time for it to come to the center?

3. Ah academia. Right. What does K-Punk say again?

In many ways, the academic qua academic is the Troll par excellence. Postgraduate study has a propensity to breeds trolls; in the worst cases, the mode of nitpicking critique (and autocritique) required by academic training turns people into permanent trolls, trolls who troll themselves, who transform their inability to commit to any position into a virtue, a sign of their maturity (opposed, in their minds, to the allegedly infantile attachments of The Fan). But there is nothing more adolescent – in the worst way – than this posture of alleged detachment, this sneer from nowhere. For what it disavows is its own investments; an investment in always being at the edge of projects it can neither commit to nor entirely sever itself from – the worst kind of libidinal configuration, an appalling trap, an existential toxicity which ensures debilitation for all who come into contact with it (if only that in terms of time and energy wasted – the Troll above all wants to waste time, its libido involves a banal sadism, the dull malice of snatching people’s toys away from them).

Yes, but see what academics are reflexively trained to be annoyed by, because we’re so busy marking the papers of actual students, is ad hominem, baseless polemic that postures rather than argues. Tautological critique based on nothing more than a presumption about what academics are and what they do simply doesn’t raise the paper into the A range. Explaining in depth what’s wrong with Badiou might well work, might earn you a first. Critical overreach, if that’s where you’re going to lay down your chips, probably won’t. The term gives the game away.

It’s a bit of a wonder, really, and more than a bit symptomatic of our times, but some seem to be so clear visioned when it comes to the mote in the eye of academia, but can’t see the fucking plank that headwounds a writer from typing for the magazines. Sorry, but is the endless command to amplification, to unpaid marketing work, not deformative? Only people who spend their lives for the most part busy in classrooms enlightening late-adolescents are blinded to the problems of work and its demands. Those who write for The Wire are somehow exempted from ideological mystification, jobsite determination. Lucky them, I guess.

4. Delicate subject, this one. I’ll put it very briefly and tolerantly. If you want to show up for popular political action, you might want to find a vernacular to speak in that is a little less dependent on, erm, gothic trope. Why? Well, first of all because of what IT said in this post. But moreover because people simply  don’t like that shit. They don’t identify with it, other than depressed teenagers of course, but if you’re to start a revolution that moves beyond depressed kids at certain shows, I’d advise taking off the cape and the false fangs. It’s juvenile. This isn’t the academic in me saying this, just to be clear. Academics love vampires and zombies, never more than now.

I’ll explain what’s wrong with radical dysphoria in another post. But that, too, is fucked from the start. Encyclopedia entries, the barest of common knowledge, would show why.

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June 12, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

going, going, gone

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Not really funny, more sad:

I have somehow lost, one by one and/or in clumps, almost every book having to do with my summer’s project, which happens to be the project that I’ve been working on since oh about spring 2001. I have lost (and repurchased) all of my Lefebvre. Now I notice that I’ve lost every book that I have that discusses Lefebvre’s work. I wouldn’t have posted this until I just now remembered that a few months ago I was asked to review another monograph on roughly the same topic as my own, told the editor not to bother sending the book as I had it, had read it, it was right here…. And then I had to write her back asking her to send me the fucking review copy in the mail. None of these are in my stack at home and none of these are in my office.

Maybe there’s a hole in my bag, a hole perfectly proportioned to allow only the relevant, pertitent, and manditory to fall out.

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June 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm