Tuesday, October 5, 2010

GBS on Progress

No doubt it is natural to a snail to think that any evolution which threatens to do away with shells will result in general death from exposure. Nevertheless, the most elaborately housed beings today are born not only without houses on their backs but without even fur or feathers to clothe them.
- from "The Perfect Wagnerite"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Said: Orientalism

I mean to ask whether there is any way of avoiding the hostility expressed by the division, say, of men into 'us' (Westerners) and 'they' (Orientals). For such divisions are generalities whose use historically and actually has been to press the importance of the distinction between some men and other men, usually towards not especially admirable ends. When one uses categories like Oriental and Western and both the starting and end points of analysis, research, public policy...the result is usually to polarize the distinction - the Oriental becomes more Oriental, the Westerner more Western - and limit the human encounter between different cultures, traditions, and societies (45-46).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle

The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself (2).

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images (4).

…the spectacle aims at nothing other than itself (14).

…the spectacle is the main production of present day society (15).

The spectacle is the existing order’s uninterrupted discourse about itself, its laudatory monologue…(24).

The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image (34).
Modern economic production extends its dictatorship extensively and intensively. In the least industrialized places, its reign is already attested by a few star commodities and by the imperialist domination imposed by regions which are ahead in the development of productivity…(42).

The spectacle is a permanent opium war which aims to make people identify goods with commodities and satisfaction with survival that increases according to its own laws. But if consumable survival is something which must always increase, this is because it continues to contain privation. If there is nothing beyond increasing survival, if there is no point where it might stop growing, this is not because it is beyond privation, but because it is enriched privation (44).

In the inverted reality of the spectacle, use value (which was implicitly contained in exchange value) must now be explicitly proclaimed precisely because its factual reality is eroded by the overdeveloped commodity economy and because counterfeit life requires a pseudo-justification (48).

Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption, a by-product of the circulation of commodities, is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal…(168).

…The “new towns” of the technological pseudo-peasantry clearly inscribe on the landscape their rupture with the historical time on which they are built; their motto could be: “On this spot nothing will ever happen, and nothing ever has.” (177).

Jane Jacobs: Pseudoscience of Planning

"(The psuedoscience of planning seems almost neurotic in its determination to imitate empiric failure and ignore empiric success.)"

— Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), p183

Monday, February 8, 2010

Marx: No admittance except on business

Accompanied by Mr. Moneybags and by the possessor of labour-power, we therefore take leave for a time of this noisy sphere, where everything takes place on the surface and in view of all men, and follow them both into the hidden abode of production, on whose threshold there stares us in the face "No admittance except on business." Here we shall see, not only how capital produces, but how capital is produced. We shall at last force the secret of profit making. This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham.

Capital, Vol. 1 p195 1915 edition (Google Books)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Marx: Capitalism is a vampire

Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him.

(p233, my edition)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kafka: The Right Perception of Any Matter

'The right perception of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.'

Kafka, The Trial, Everyman's Library Edition, p238