Friday, September 01, 2006

Back to Basics

    "But I wonder whether this conceptual apparatus will continue to survive for long. I may be mistaken, but the id, the ego, the superego, the ideal ego, the ego ideal, the secondary process and the primary process of repression, etc.–in a word, the large Freudian machines (including the concept and the word "unconscious"!)–are in my opinion only provisional weapons, or even rhetorical tools cobbled together to be used against a philosophy of consciousness, of transparent and fully responsible intentionality. I have little faith in their future...

    "I prefer in Freud the partial, regional, and minor analyses, the most venturesome soundings. These breaches and openings sometimes reorganize, at least virtually, the entire field of knowledge. It is necessary, as always, to be ready to give oneself over to them, and to be able to give them back their revolutionary force...(Derrida, "In Praise of Psychoanalysis," in For What Tomorrow)

    "It is probable that Marx had in mind the impression felt in the Crystal Palace when he wrote the chapter of Capital on commodity fetishism. It is certainly not a coincidence that this chapter occupies a liminal position. The disclosure of the commodity's "secret" was the key that revealed capital's enchanted realm to our thought–a secret that capital always tried to hide by exposing it in full view.

    "Without the identification of this immaterial center–in which "the products of labor" split themselves into a use value and an exchange value and "become commodities, sensuous things which are at the same time suprasensible or social"–all the following critical investigations undertaken in Capital probably would not have been possible.

    "In the 1960s, however, the Marxian analysis of the fetish character of the commodity was, in the Marxist milieu, foolishly abandoned. In 1969, in the preface to a popular reprint of Capital, Louis Althusser could still invite readers to skip the first section, with the reason that the theory of fetishism was a "flagrant" and "extremely harmful" trace of Hegelian philosophy.

    "It is for this reason that Debord's gesture appears all the more remarkable, as he bases his analysis of the society of the spectacle–that is, of a capitalism that has reached its extreme figure–precisely on that "flagrant trace." The "becoming-image" of capital is nothing more than the commodity's last metamorphosis, in which exchange value has completely eclipsed use value and can now achieve the status of absolute and irresponsible sovereignty over life in its entirety, after having falsified the entire social production. In this sense, the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, where the commodity unveiled and exhibited its mystery for the first time, is a prophecy of the spectacle, or, rather, the nightmare, in which the nineteenth century dreamed the twentieth. The first duty the Situationists assigned themselves was to wake up from this nightmare. (Agamben, "Marginal Notes," in Means Without End)

(via Blogging for Resistance)

    "But the very aim, and I do say the aim, of the psychoanalytic revolution is the only one not to rest, not to seek refuge, in principle, in what I call a theological or humanist alibi. That is why it can appear terrifying, terribly cruel, pitiless. Even to psychoanalysts, even to those who, on both sides of the couch, more or less pretend to put their trust in psychoanalysis. All the philosophies, the metaphysics, the theologies, the human sciences end up having recourse, in the deployment of their thought or their knowledge, to such an alibi.

    "Among the gestures that convinced me, seduced me in fact, is its indispensable audacity of thought, what I do not hesitate to call its courage: which here consists in writing, inscribing, signing theoretical "fictions" in the name of knowledge without alibi (therefore the most "positive" knowledge)....(Derrida, "In Praise of Psychoanalysis")

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