Art of Identity

Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia

There have been a number of discussions I have come across, recently, about this term ‘privilege’ (or really, the privilege theory) and also about class, and both, to a degree, in relationship with art. Before getting into these debates, I wanted to quote some extracts from a piece on Art and Class, written by Ben Davis. But even before I do that, I wanted to put this dicussion, the discussion of art, culture, and U.S. society, capitalist society, in the proper light.

This is a nation which recently implemented a drastic cut in food stamps. This is a nation where almost fifty million people go to bed hungry and of that number probably over a quarter are children. There has been a drastic spike in people and families that meet the criteria for ‘food insecurity’. And yet, there are now laws in several cities, including New York and Los Angeles, making it illegal to distribute food to the hungry. Ponder that a moment.

The reason for this, of course, are property values. That is capitalism. This is not the neatest segue to the topic of art, although, in a sense, perhaps its more logical than one thinks.

“1.0 Class is an issue of fundamental importance for art
1.1 Inasmuch as art is part of and not independent from society, and society is marked by class divisions, these will
also affect the functioning and character of the sphere of the visual arts
1.2 Since different classes have different interests, and “art” is affected by these different interests, art has different
values depending on from which class standpoint it is approached
1.3 Understanding art means understanding class relations outside the sphere of the visual arts and how they affect
that sphere, as well as understanding class relations within the sphere of the visual arts itself
1.4 In general, the idea of the “art world” serves as a way to deflect consideration of both these sets of relations
1.5 The notion of an “art world” implies a sphere that is separate or set aside from the issues of the non-art world (and
so separates it from class issues outside that sphere)
1.6 The notion of an “art world” also visualizes the sphere of the visual arts not as a set of conflicting interests, but as a harmonious confluence of professionals with a common interest: “art” (and so denies class relations within that sphere).”

I think it is hard to argue with any of this, although I am sure there are people who will. The problem with Davis’ piece, and I dont really find many problems with it overall, but one issue is the idea that, as he says:

“Middle class” in this context does not indicate income level. It indicates a mode of relating to labor and means of
production. “Middle class” here indicates having an individual, self-directed relationship to production, rather than
administering and maximizing the profit produced by the labor of others (capitalist class), or selling abstract labor
power (working class)
3.2 The position of the professional artist is archetypically middle-class in relation to labor: the dream of being an
artist is the dream of making a living off the products of one’s own mental or physical labor while fully being able to
control and identify with that labor
3.3 The specific characteristic of the visual arts sphere, therefore, is that it is a sphere in which ruling-class ideology
dominates, and yet it is allowed to have an unusually middle-class character (in fact, it is definitionally middle class—the
“art world” is defined as the sphere which trades in individual products of creativity rather than mass-produced

Alexander Apostol

Alexander Apostol

My personal experience is that very few artists I know, either in visual arts, or theatre, or even with young filmmakers, ever dream of making a living from what they create. I remember I was shocked the first time someone paid me for one of my plays. Everyone might ‘dream’ about it, sure, but nobody I know expects it. Everyone I know recognizes those dreams as closer to fantasy. You have to live in very special circumstances to make money from the making of art.

Davis is aware of this, though:

“The second contradiction is internal to the middle-class definition of “art” itself, which is split between notions of
art as profession and as vocation, and therefore comes into contradiction with itself at every moment where what an
artist wants to express comes into contradiction with the demands of making a living…”

Davis is focusing on, primarely, the visual fine arts. But he raises fascinating questions. I think part of the problem with some of his answers is that he doesn’t fully explore the areas of creative self expression, or even collective self expression, that cannot be adequately explained by a Marxist theory of labor value. Let me quote Davis one more time:

“7.0 Art criticism, to be relevant, should be based on an analysis of the actual situation of art, and the different values at
play, which are related to different class forces [this point simply draws the conclusion, for criticism, of 1.9]
7.1 Art criticism is itself a middle-class discipline, based on norms of individual intellectual expression; since relevant
art criticism involves analysis of the actual class situation of art, it involves transcending purely subjective, individual,
professional opinion
7.2 However, transcending purely “subjective” criticism does not imply the “objectivity” of art criticism that imposes a
philosophical or political program on art; this sort of scholastic art criticism equally implies a middle-class perspective
(often one based in the academy), insofar as it advances a purely abstract, intellectual program, and fails to address the
actual material situation of the visual arts (e.g. simply insisting that art “be political” without concretely analyzing for
whom or to what ends “political art” is directed actually reinforces the framework of individualistic, professional

Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas

This is both right, and not right. Art has no purpose. Its radical potential, or emancipatory potential, is attached to its autonomy. And why is art criticism a middle class discipline? I suppose Davis means “professional art critic”, meaning one who is paid. But very few good criticism or cultural analysis is paid work. I don’t get paid, god knows. Assuming I am any good in writing about culture. But the issue here is really about the “meaning” of art. Of all art. The meanings of culture. And the problem with all this (and to his credit Davis suggests he is well aware of this) is that it ends up being impossible to justify this artificial set of categories that places this thing called “art” as separate from drawing breath to keep alive. There are certainly conventional middle class definitions of art, and these are usually the ones taught in schools, and I worry Davis doesn’t quite understand this. And there are the countless old debates about (for example) ‘is cooking an art’? Probably at some point one does have to at least partially demarcate an area of cultural production that is separate from, say, cooking. Good cooking can be artistic, but it’s not art. Why is it not art? The answer is because culture might include food preperation, but eating does not trigger that mimetic process of engagement by which an individual, and perhaps even a group, a collective, a society even, awakens and questions the world around it. Food, I don’t think anyway, can be allegorical.

Davis is correct that art never has just one meaning. It is not only, however, because of class differences, but also because of historical perspectives. And more significantly, it is art’s very purposelessness that grants it a liberatory capacity. Art’s autonomy is in the creation of something without purpose or social function. It is in precisely in the mimesis of the alienated untruth of capitalist society, of a system of social domination, that a dialectical relationship is established. Adorno believed only in the negation of synthesis could artwork step outside the commodity form…even if only partially. The point here is art is not about message. It is also important to note, per Adorno, that artworks have a double character, they are both autonomous and social fact (or commodity, often). None of this is to say that class is not vitally important in discussions of culture and it is in this way that Davis makes some very important points. Art is always working with the materials of society. In that sense, the double character is inescapable.

Chris Steele-Perkins

Chris Steele-Perkins

Davis writes:

“To state that every contemporary work of art will by definition be a product of contemporary society, and thus
bear the marks of the contradictions of its actual material situation, does not imply that all art can be reduced to the
same problem. Effective art criticism implies having a dynamic analysis of how specific aesthetic values are related to
the present balance of class forces, and making a judgment with regard to what factors are playing the most crucial role
at any given moment with any given work.”

This is quite correct. I wrote last posting that different classes, different histories, will approach artworks from different perspectives. The difficulty for the left, it seems to me, is in remembering the problems of autonomy, and of mimesis. In a sense, the bare minimum required of an artwork is that the audience might find enough there to provide a mimetic process. From that process comes a self examination, a reclamation of the individual’s own story, and a social re-narration.

Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt

Now, again, Davis writes mostly about the visual arts. In Shakespeare’s time people spoke of going to “hear” a play. Audio, or audience. For TV, you have viewers. The rise of visual privilege (that word again) has informed the reception to art and narrative. The failure to listen. Text becomes ignored. It is simply, often, literally not heard. What is SEEN however is rarely ignored. When I suggested that Hollywood cares little for text, I was only stating the obvious. If one cared about text, about the spoken word, one would never have formula at all. McKee and Blake Snyder wouldn’t have carved careers out of jotting down the kitsch formulae of the culture industry.

In one obvious way, the inclusion of class is pertinent to the stuff cranked out by big studios and major networks. It goes without saying that the economic realities of film and TV play a considerable role in how these films need to be evaluated. The trap in this is, however,that a monolithic judgement is inadequate to the subject. There is a wide spectrum of circumstances and history behind, say, every five million dollar film. The fact that a film costing five million dollars is considered, officially, ‘low budget’ speaks volumes all by itself. As one goes up the budgetary ladder, the narrower those circumstances become. A eighty million dollar film, or rather every eighty million dollar film, is likely going to more resemble other eighty million dollar films than not. This is a risk averse industry. Conversely, every micro budget film, say of five hundred thousand dollars, probably is the product of comparetively unique factors in its development and making. The movie industry today is predicated on a monopoly of distribution. The big chain cineplex franchises are locked into showing the product that the studios give them to show. This is the equivalent of Pepsi buying up shelf space at the local supermarket. There are plenty of independent soft drink makers, but the big chain stores won’t sell them, because Pepsi or Coke has bought up the shelf space. There are a lot of interesting small budget films made today, and the technology behind film making continues to allow for films to be shot and edited and scored for a fraction of the cost of twenty years ago. But say, in theatre, as a first example, this problem is not so obvious. Theatre doesn’t make the same amount of money as film or TV. The audience is a fraction of that which goes to see movies. In New York, the self appointed center of theatre (sigh), there are dozens of small theatres putting up new work, and even, on occasion, older plays, but these spaces are a contested area. By which I mean, small theatres devoted to theatre art, to new work usually, are appealing to a very tiny audience base. A good part of that audience are other people involved in the making of theatre. In terms of media, they are simply ignored. There are several results to this reality. One result is that many small spaces choose to pander (what they percieve as pandering) to this minescule target audience. They do caberet, or comedy sketch evenings, or satire of some sort. They do a lot of “one character” (i.e. cost effective) productions, and they promote what they do as ‘fun’ and ‘entertaining’. Another tactic is to “develop” new work with the intention of getting this play picked up by a larger theatre, usually a “mid size” house. The entire psychic structure for small theatre exists largely in the shadow of the ordained big theatre or regional theatre system. The work of contemporary playwrights is mostly middle brow conformist ‘message’ oriented and non threatening material. At least those desiring financial help from the larger theatres and theatre instutions, which means often, University theatre organizations. Grants have all but disappeared, so the economics of an art form like theatre is faced with harsh realities. You cant make money doing theatre unless you are locked into the system. And the system today, judging from the work on Broadway, or more relevently, to mid size theatres, is stunningly forgettable. And it is forgettable in very particular ways. It is the work of writers, often, who sustain themselves writing for TV, and it is work that cannot allow any possibility for offending those financial assets.

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov

Now, the class perception of big studio film as opposed to regional or mid size theatres, differs greatly. I think so pervasive is the influence, across the culture, of film and TV, that the educated twenty percent that self identifies as interested in art, is going to see theatre according to the aesthetic norm of studio film and TV. There has also been a rather profound conditioning over the last thirty years that has had the result of making the experience of attending a play a very problematic experience for most. The working class perception is based on an aesthetics of populist solidarity. Since art in general is taught as frivilous, and since most educated in public schools have had no arts education at all, the approach to theatre is shaped by a perception of failure. Its failed to be as good as TV. I hasten to add, my experience has often been that the very ‘least’ educated, the most completly outside the educational apparatus, are the most perceptive and deepest audience for theatre. In the same way the San Quentin audience for Beckett was almost preternaturally attentive and insightful.

The ideological backdrop is both recognized, I think, generally speaking, by all classes, but it is not really understood. Or, rather, I think with few exceptions that audiences in the U.S. tend to automatically distance film reality from daily reality. At least abstractly. In reality most people have come to see daily life AS a movie. The deep attachment fans develop for their favorite shows would is perhaps more acute in that layer of the working class that isn’t on the verge of catastrophe. Identification requires a degree of leisure security.

Davis writes:

“8.6 Contemporary art suffers from a narrow audience, and access to art education is largely (and increasingly)
determined by income-level and privilege; art education should be defended and made universal (this point itself
involves a critique of the notion that art is a luxury)
8.7 There is no reason why the immense quantity of artistic talent that currently exists, unable to find purchase within
the cramped confines of the professional “art world,” could not be put to work generalizing art education, thereby
providing itself with a future audience
8.8 This kind of common identity could form the basis for organizing artists as something more than individual
agents, each working on a separate project; it therefore would also lay the foundation for a more organically political
character for contemporary art
8.9 Creative expression needs to be redefined: It should not be thought of as a privilege, but as a basic human need.
Because creative expression is a basic human need, it should be treated as a right to which everyone is entitled.”

Now, again, this is basically correct, and its about visual arts per se. The problem is that because arts are no longer taught, or taught badly, there is the difficulty of finding radical arts instructors. The community level programs I know of have almost always retained a linkage and psychological dependence on the very instutions that have marginalized them to begin with. What I often call the “bad community arts center mural” phenomenon. Arts at this level becomes, understandably, an exercise in solidarity. Criticism is seen as elitist, and hostile. The result is bad art. And this is exactly what the ruling class is happy to have happen. Solidarity, shaped by bad teachers who learned from bad institutional teachers, and a distrust of rigor (also a product of conditioning) and a basic default approach that has no awareness of the actual roles culture and the arts can play in shaping all thought, but specifically political thought. A bad play about the Zapatistas is still a bad play. And a bad play, a regressive conformist structured play negates the radical potential.

A bad mural is still a bad mural, and there is a colonialist dimension to this entire phenomenon. The paternalistic liberal (white) institutional funders, and educators, patronize the underclass by applauding junk work, because, after all, it’s all they can be expected to create. So that if a working class woman playwright that resembled, say, a Sarah Kane, came along, her chances of being supported would be next to zero. If a young woman playwright came along writing a kitsch coming of age “naturalistic’ play, her chances would be far greater to gain support and backing. The only future for change at this level is to absolutely sever all linkage with the establishment system of patronage. This is, needless to say, risky and difficult. The loss of the avant garde has left a gaping hole at the community level, culturally.

The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner, 1962 Tony Richardson dr.

The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner, 1962 Tony Richardson dr.

There has also occured, over the last thirty years, a coinciding impulse toward identity based movements. This runs alongside the balkanizing of aesthetic sub communities that colonize various mediums. So in theatre, in poetry, in prose, in painting and dance, one can find, without much effort, the various mafias that staked out their territories. The white establishment, mostly liberal, have served to reinforce these practices, and again for the same reason, that this is a way to silence genuinely radical voices. If one favors message narratives, or message based realism, the result is that writers and painters are going to instinctively look for the support they need by catering to the messages most favored at that moment. Liberal condescension. Again, a bad anti racist play or short film is still a bad play or film. And more importantly, the intended message ends up its opposite. This was clear sixty years ago, as Marcuse and others pointed out. And because of this privileging of theme and message, and the idea of art as communication, the majority of young writers look no further than their officially sanctioned form of suffering (I’ve not noted a lot of Latino playwrights, say, writing plays about Ancient Japanese feudalism, etc.). It is an arts culture of identity victimhood, narratives of identity suffering. The reality is that a deeper layer of suffering would emerge from that play on Japanese feudalism — or whatever– then occurs with plays of direct confession and biography. And here we can bring the discussion back to the whole ‘privilege’ debate. One of the problems with the privilege debate is that it contains its own contradiction; a purported anti hierarchical theory for social change goes out and creates new hierarchies of suffering, and sort of forgets who the victimizer is. I often feel the beneficiary of the privilege debate is the Justice and prison system.

Michel deGhelderode

Michel deGhelderode

Of course some people are drastically more targeted by police (black teenage men for example) but the white working poor are targets, too, and more to the point, they are not the police. The police as the organ of the ruling class property owners are the problem. So privilege is a useful term and important topic even, but it must be examined. And it must be examined from within some sort of deeper class analysis. And it is here that one has to be careful not to confuse the intersectionality hissy fits of white male leftists, with insisting on class. And I am insisting on a rather qualified definition of class. There is a lot of recent sort of white racism surfacing as part of the attack on intersectionality. Now, intersectionality was born of Kimberle Crenshaw’s analysis that black women were being written out of certain narratives. It reconfigured discourse about oppression. In a sense, its like those world maps that always had the United States in the center and northern hemisphere given more scope….when in reality the world looks very different if the southern hemisphere is privileged (sic) and if Asia were centered, or the Mercator projection that distorts and increases size as one moves away from the equator. {}. That is what correctives like intersectionality were doing in principle. Today, intersectionality is used as shorthand for multiculturalism in a sense…code for “blacks are so resentful”. Today, privilege is being debated in a way, by all sides, that obscures the actual victimizer. The police, the justice system and the courts and legal apparatus. Now, privilege certainly plays a role in the new University educated left. For most of this debate seems to be written in the prose of the University.

I think instinctively I am coming to be suspicious of a prose so tortured and a syntax so unnatural that, really, self parody is too kind a description. Additionally, I am reminded of the trans community, which my son worked with twelve or so years ago. These were people who had to be their own advocates. And they were. It is a tad ironic to see trannie sex workers suddenly have such cache within the new left. I hope the point I am making is that an awful large chunk of the leftist writing I read today is the work of those in the business of NOT wanting change. They now have a vested interest in defending their small-ish citadels of influence in various publications (some mainstream even) where they can play the role of honorary leftist voice. Revolution would change that. The white male racial coding, which seems to use “privilege”, and “intersectional” as part of the latest version of “PC gone mad” tropes in media, are simply resorting to old white male rights. However, the petulance and invictive of many University educated feminists, the entire check your privilege order, is difficult for anyone to react to positively. Listening rarely happens when someone is ordering you to do so. And this authoritarianism and puritanism is deeply ingrained in the U.S. It is there in the UK as well, and in fact may be one of those borrowed stylistic presentations that travel the other way across the Atlantic. Russell Brand’s appearance on the BBC has certainly engendered a lot of commentary. Brad Evans and Julian Reid commented on this class issue in their piece on the Brand attacks..

“So how does one authenticate as being from below? What qualities do you need to possess in order to qualify as a valid member of this inverted vanguard? What does one need to renounce about oneself before being able to speak with an authentic voice? Are there degrees for instance of “belowness” that create levels of subaltern verification? Does this invalidate the voices of all white men, especially those who garner a public profile? Does this preclude ourselves who, although from working-class backgrounds, now find ourselves part of well-established academic institutions? Indeed, does having a presence in the corporate media world necessarily disqualify the quality of the criticism and the political intervention? “

Keith Carter

Keith Carter

Evans and Reid touch on the contradiction I have pointed out before. The contempt for the underclass runs up against a romanticizing and near fetishizing of the underclass as the repository of “authenticity”. There is a curious erotic frisson connected to the perception of this ‘other’, the usually invisible underclass. It is worth pointing out that again, these contradictions seem to take place in a highly gendered way. The male underclass is usually the object of fetishizing, not the underclass woman. But here the question is very relevant, what does class mean in terms of legitimacy?

The question is, will Brand use his wealth as an activist, or just fuck off to the South Pacific or Cote D’Azur for his next vacation? Malcolm X. said, dont beat up people for their past if they are changing. Remember when you didnt know certain things. Dont forget people can wake up. And this is exactly my problem with the puritanism of the Laurie Penny and Natasha Lennard pieces on Brand.

*side note: Lennard (left) and Perry (right) are both English, and oddly, seem to be working the same “look”. I draw no conclusions from this. I dont think.
natasha lennardpenny

** A note on class: this is a big topic and one much argued. At the end of Vol.2 of Capital, Marx asked “What makes wage laborers, capitalists, and landowners the three great social classes?” He left only an unfinished answer for the work was never completed. “At first glance—the identity of revenues and sources of revenues. There are three great social groups whose numbers, the individuals forming them, live on wages, profit, and ground rent, respectively, on the realization of their labor-power, their capital, and their landed property”. The direct operating control of the means of production is what seperates, say, lawyers and other professionals from owners of industry. Still, it’s good to think in terms of class interests. What this ends up suggesting, for our purposes here, is that there are ideological classes as well as economic, and they on occasion overlap. But as Big Bill Haywood said, there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who work and those who don’t. My point here, echoing Marx, is ‘Who is the enemy’? Who is working FOR the man, and who is being oppressed by the man.

Privilege and class. Class is not homogeneous. There are ideological differences and material and psychological differences. So yes, in the U.S. where class consciousness has been erased, it is important to promote class awareness, but not as if there weren’t divisions within each class. But again, I cannot but keep returning to the role of academia in all these debates (if thats what they are). There is a subtle confusion here about identity, and it has to do with how life in the Spectacle, in a world of hyper branded hyperrealism, it is difficult to tweeze apart self branding from “identity”. The reflexive mental actions that constitute ‘shopping’ are hard to surpress.

I suspect the embrace of ‘indentity’ has a good deal of progressive or even radical aspects, but clearly it is also fraught with pitfalls, with owning the brand you shopped for. Identity shopping is pretty much the daily pastime of most youth in Western society. It was for me. Even into my twenties I can remember trying on points of view, playing with that voice, that appearance, the drives and movements of unfamiliar roles and appearances… and opinions. For the underclass, those without University education, the problems of learning are compounded. Community and traditional teachers are gone. Community itself is gone. For the underclass, the poor or all races, the struggle to find authentic guidance, to verify suspicions, or explain intellectual fraud, must be sorted out on one’s own. The exceptional degree of assistance that colleges and University provides, at least the elite schools, cannot be over emphasized. This is directly connected to class. I remember not knowing what a bank account was until I was over eighteen. I didnt come from a place that used banks. Cash baby. I remember the embarrasment of not knowing. And I feel often, reading the prose stylings of graduate poli sci majors, a subliminal sense of superiority. I have noted this blind spot before among the educated (expensively educated). So, the confusion of intellectual roles, or finding one’s way politically, is far more complex for the poor. Just as a basic fact. Hence my distrust of anyone bullying people for past mistakes. Testing out new models of identity isn’t bad per se, it seems more like a natural process of maturation. And it is here, again, where I feel an awful lot of leftist critique on all sides has tended toward a pathologizing of everyday life. Again, not for the victimizer, but among the victims.

Divisions need to be examined. Class however doesn’t go away because you make a lot of money. One can adopt ruling class values, but the ruling class can smell your background. These are things that need to be clarified. Oprah comes from a very impoverished background. She has managed to absorb ruling class values, largely, but she can never really become one. Russell Brand is a millionaire and dates rich odious women, but the upper class will never tolerate him. And now his spouting of leftist politics ensures he will remain a target for hectoring and moralizing lectures. Attending the right schools, knowing the right code words, knowing the right people, the right family interrelationships, and on and on. The accumlative portrait is what makes up class. One can be broke, and still be a member of the ruling class (they will help you out anyway). One can become rich and still be a pretender to the upper class.

Friedel Dzubus

Friedel Dzubus

Now, to return this to art; the problem is that the approach to narrative and film from an audience that has lost the capacity to hear or respond mimetically, has meant a reliance on simplistic notions of message. And this is because of not just training, but because of the literal inability to hear the text. Good writing goes largely unrecognized these days. A script as good as The Hustler, by Robert Rosen, is experienced as just a movie about pool players and revenge. Or about a quest for individual excellence or some other chestnut. Or is a relfection of Rosen’s own guilt for snitching. And that’s partly true, but in fact its a film about love under a repressive system of domination, about idenitity, and more, about redemption. Failure is success sometimes. Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner is another example. You must lose to win. In both of these cases, the metaphoric meaning is clearly lodged in the secondary level of the script. But when I screened the Richardson at the film school, I was surprised at the inability of students to hear what was going on. Or in films like Shout (Skolomowski), or Losey’s Accident (screenplay by Pinter), where the sub text of the sub text is operative. Where the surface seems oddly disjointed. Not just disjointed, but surreal. The tendency is to think it is a sub genre of fantasy.

But of course, for narrative, it goes even deeper. It is literally the language speaking itself. I used to tell writing classes, the character comes out of the dialogue, not the dialogue out of the character. This is primary. Words conjur, they speak, and finally a performative body emerges that can recite those words. Ah!! A play!

The recent Greek language film, Dogtooth (Kynodontos), by director Yorgos Lanthimos is a singular exercise in dismantling satire. Is it satiric? The text, in translation, is literally unnerving. The violence of the film is visceral, and yet… is it satiric? Ironic?

Is this in any way a naturalistic film? There is no correct answer.

“Among the dangers faced by new art, the worst is the absence of danger.”

Class awareness is probably what is missing, or the first of many things that are missing, in how the mass audience reads films like Thor, or Dark Knight, or TV shows featuring cops.

Sarah Kane

Sarah Kane

There are poetics to dialogue, if we stick to theatre here to conclude. One can read an opening scene from one of Kane’s plays, or the opening page of any Pinter play, or Beckett. What you don’t hear is as important as what you hear.

Here is the opening of 448:Psychosis

(A very long silence.)

– But you have friends.

(A long silence.)

You have a lot of friends.
What do you offer your friends to make them so supportive?

(A long silence.)

What do you offer your friends to make them so supportive?

(A long silence.)

What do you offer?


a consolidated consciousness resides in a darkened banqueting hall near the ceiling of a mind whose floor shifts as ten thousand cockroaches when a shaft of light enters as all thoughts unite in an instant of accord body no longer expellent as the cockroaches comprise a truth which no one ever utters

I had a night in which everything was revealed to me.
How can I speak again?

the broken hermaphrodite who trusted hermself alone finds the room in reality teeming and begs never to wake from the nightmare

and they were all there
every last one of them
and they knew my name
as I scuttled like a beetle along the backs of their chairs

Remember the light and believe the light

An instant of clarity before eternal night

don’t let me forget.

Lucas Samaras

Lucas Samaras

One is not really sure who is speaking. Productions since Kane’s death have let directors decide. So how does that work? The answer is that with Sarah Kane, by the time she wrote this, her last play, the poetics were everything. There are no more “characters”, there are no more sets, no more locations. There is only text. Spoken aloud. And from out of that comes something that is theatre, it is a form of thought, a form of knowledge and it is mysterious.

A playwright such as Michel De Ghelderode, whose work has never really found its place on world stages, is a case in point. Neglected, semi forgotten, and yet, there are few writers for theatre who possessed such a clarity of hallucination. A great many of De Ghelderode’s plays have yet to be translated into English. He wrote a lot of short pieces, he wrote marionette plays, and he wrote rituals for the theatre. That is what he did. Is he naturalistic? No. But what is he? I don’t know, honestly.

The point is that work that actually disrupts the facade of the bourgeois “real”, without resorting to innovation, or novelty, or to fantasy or to the manufacturing of the “weird” affect; these are, at least for theatre, the most forgotten of playwrights. They are forgotten, largely, for they resist the creating of profit. My few suspicions about Kane have to do with her posthumus popularity. Now, all things are relative, and she is by no means what one would describe as popular, and yet… her work is regularly produced. Is this good or bad? It is neither probably, and perhaps it is just too early to pass final judgement.

DeGhelderode was a major artist of the theatre, who remains too unfriendly, too prickly, and too opaque, finally. We don’t yet know what to do with Michel DeGhelderode.

If you can find any of his plays in English, and likely that will mean either Vol. 1 or Vol.2 of “Seven Plays”, published around 1960, I would say snatch it up. Most of his work is out of print, and I suspect these old translations (by George Hauger, and very good, really) are the only ones that exist. Fame is a strange ghost that haunts some with affection, and others with malice.

I am not ever really sure which is which, however.

Remedios Varo

Remedios Varo


  1. Molly Klein says:

    Again so much to respond to

    I would like to talk about the difference between what you call message (pejorative), purpose (pejorative) and meaning (descriptive/ambivalent)

    there are all kinds of messages – there is the obvious advertised avowed didactic content and there is all kinds of innuendo and suggestion…message is a way of signifying a “moral” as if the piece were a gospel parable but its I think wrong to deny that discursive and even purely nvisual/plastic works have lots of messages even when they don’t have morals

    and most messages sent by art are messages about the artists conditions and often they are messages its worth clarifying and which are pernicious and which we can reject

    i think its mystifying to say art has no purpose. it is understood that it doens’t have to have certain kinds of uses that can be done as well by non part – its purpose is not to hold milk or make people smile or store capital, That’s not what the artness or art serves. But plentuy of art was initially produced for other purposes than aesthetic experience – like Notre Dame cathedral for example, or a Cellini salt cellar. The very elevation of art’s useleness to dignity coincides with the demonization of usefulness as the individual is enclosed and severed from the commons. It’s mystifying but also a response to the expropriation and dehumanization of capitalist imperialsm and the accompanying abstractions. Capital is striving for a separation from use…the mysticism of bourgeois aesthetics is related to this I think.

  2. Molly Klein says:

    we’ve fought many rounds on this already of course…

    Identity; yeah one has to distignuish between self determination as announced by the Combahee River collective and its invention of the term ‘identity politics’ and the commodified vitiated versions of this mostly produced by critics and as you say people who just complain about slave revolt and uppitiness. But the way you discuss Brand’s class is as an identity not a “structural position’ that individuals occupy and move through as those who pretend to bring class against the intersectional analysis (showing their ignorance) conceive it. I mean at least ostensibly the argument is identity is a property of the individual and class is the position any individual can occupy. You own capital and buy labour or you are propertyless and sell labour, regardless of your position years ago or your ethnicity or nationality or sexuality or whatever,

    All that is a creaky structuralist ahistorical habit which I wouldn’t defend- this contrast (race versus class, gender versus class) misconceives all the terms which are all abstractions. It doesnt treat them as naming concrete social relations,. But nor is it satisfactory just to make “working class” the name of a white male identity. One of the thing about the debate you metnion that bothers me is this determination on purity a sort of Hedieggerian and Derridean lament oh this idea of class and this idea of race have to be pure, and there is a complaint about that, about the fact of some mobility and that its not like the starbellies in Dr Seuss, or that privileges aren’t as fixed and codified as in the fairytale feudalism that we find in comix and Harry Potter, where ethnicities and races reappear – as in star trek – as species or role playing games “true nature”s. I think what we see in the degradation of this debate is this infantile impulse to understand the world as harrypotterverse of a -verse of one sort of another, like these role playing games; where all properties and traits are commodified and character is commodified. They want this kind of pseudo knowledge of reality that they attain of their role playing game-verses. (Laurie Penny actually tweeted this desire to make “The British Left” a role playing game). The desire for these action ficgures and simple scehems and types – there are two generations of clerky types who have been trained by these tv shows that have these simple schemes that suit websites and drop down menues, where the familiarity with the commodity is the analysis itself (like pokemon I guess). The familiarity with the arbitrary (and yet ideological) rules and laws and psychology is the goal and the way to dominance (meaningless dominance, mere playing at domination).

    These bad analyses and infantile mental habits go with the ignorance of history etc. that we find with these “young” sood left pundits,

    this y the way is mindblowing

    this is the “American left’ that is sponsored by German banks
    Sheri Berman is repeating this hideous Zizekian fascist case about immigration/diversity destorying the social solidarity necvessary to social democracy

  3. Molly Klein says:

    There are a lot of these ressentimentalist white boys now championing Brand as “working class” who will dismiss any poc and especially any woman of color with any commercial success as “complicit”. They raise “class” above “race’ to restore white supremacy since they envision “class” as nothing but white identity. These abstractions “race” and “class” are historical givens but they are often taken as scientific or materialist categories – when they are really abstracted properties of (a precursor) caste, but the way persistent caste has gone underground. They also disguise imperialism – in the same way that “race”: and “gender” discourse disappeared blakc women in the 60s and 70s (AfroAmericans assumed men, Women assumed White, to “race” and”gender” seen as rivals etc), intersectionality as a response (with its origins in legal theory) tends to disappear imperialism

  4. Molly Klein says:

    here is a woc feminist university professor who was denied tenure
    she is really radical
    she was a mentor of brownfemipower
    of course it mattered to the establishment that she is a woman of color
    if she was willing to be an obedient native informer of course that would be a different story
    the reason she was not tenured is her radical politics, not her ‘identity’
    and yet her radicalism and her challenge to white supremacy and capitalism can’t really be separated from those politics
    and its an addition affront to the establishment, this uppitness
    her radicalism demands not just her own inclusion or some individual’s inclusion but the end of white supremacy
    so of course this won’t do but somehow the white bros take this as postrace proof
    that white supremacy is menaingless
    i am not sure how this contradictory thinking really works but it seems to be a lack of synthetic capacity, a linear kind of comic strip thinking where the last panel is forgotten as the next one is examined
    so the individual panel shows andrea smith not tenured and another woman of color tenured
    and the mark fisher or nina power type says “see it has nothing to do with race”
    becayse they see only this panel and this is all they can deal with. it is in a context ot no context (except the context of theirb self satisfied solipsism and daily mail complacent anglo supremacy and middle class disgruntlement+)
    ok back to andrea smith’s being denied tenure
    if the politics for which she is denied tenure are challenging white supremacy and white control
    the ability to tenure that is,m to choose between women of color as clerks etc
    then of course race has everything to do with it
    even if her biographical identity was not the primary cause of her denied tenure

  5. Molly Klein says:

    can’t eeally be separated from her identity I meant to say

  6. John Steppling says:

    well, there is a lot to discuss here. Let me skip art’s autonomy for the moment and start with this class vs race vs whatever. The Brand phenomenon is very confusing I realized because this one brief appearance is being overdetermined on all sides. But…..class isnt one dimensional and it has operative effects, and I would argue it for certain matters where you came from years ago. I dont see that this can be debated really. But thats just one layer of the rubik’s cube called class (to mix a metaphor). I mean I think in a sense there are actually several overlapping ….for lack of a better term…….ruling classes. Donald Trump is always going to be nouveau riche……always going to be this over reaching hick, at least to the wasp patrician class …The Bush or Rockefeller families.

    Now Brand sells his labor. He is from a working class background. And sure, a lot of the debate around him now speaks of an identity I suppose. But I think you greatly minimize the fact that he is also visible and audibly working class, and he is partly punished for just that, for the audacity to speak about important matters. And then the punishment is doubled because of ‘what’ he said. And the punishment is coming from the Lennards and penny types, and seymour, who have this cottege industry going as “Brand Left”. I mean they write for corporate magazines for christ sake.. Now lets be clear that I dont speak for mark fisher…..or heartfield or whoever….where class is a justification for white supremacy. And that part is just icky and disturbing. But…….i think what Evans and Reid said is pretty much correct. And what Ive said (which of course I think is correct). And that does have a lot to do with class. Now I come from one of the verymost bottom rungs of the class ladder. Welfare, bulldozers breaking down our back wall as we fled with belongings in hand, etc. So I dont feel at all confused about the operative uses and abuses of class. I was once arrested in beverly hills, in front of william morris, in a new truck i had bought with one of my first checks. It didnt have plates yet. And I didnt look right. …, even when I was flush while working for a decade in Hollywood, I was acutely aware of not belonging. And in the end, there was a ceiling that was a class ceiling. Some escape it. MAny dont. And it contains not attending a prestigious university, or simply knowing certain things. I remember recognizing that only the poor polish their shoes. Rich kids make a point not to. You can always spot ex cons, or you used to be able to, because they polished their shoes.

    But, the interesting thing in this debate was how the sides got drawn up……..and it utterly mystified the entire discussion at a certain point. Once jodi dean was defending Brand, I though well, fuck, now I hate all the sides in this thing. The salient fact here is that it became a phenomenon because of Brand’s celebrity. He was heard. Celebrity gets heard. So, I think there is an almost impossible blurring here between identity and class. Identity = celebrity. Class equals background and these other indelible class markers that at least are the ghost afterimages of social relations and labor. Its not a structural position per se…….but it borrows from that and this is one of the difficulties with a lot of marxist debates these days., Capital and labor have changed. So….yes………all this stuff gets commodified. ANd branded. The Fisher-esque commentary is discussing branding more than anything else, or advertisments for lifestyles. White male lifestyles…..and its nostalgic to boot. And Brand gets appropriated for these cartoon action figure critiques, yes.

    But I personally, at this point, feel the term “class” is almost totally co-opted, but I have nothing else to use. The bourgeoise have become more splintered and factional… the branded sense, than ever. As for identity. This seems mostly to be marketing. These terms like ‘hipster’ and ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’……..what do they mean? People dissect this stuff as if its some gene splicing experiment. Nerd is just a techno hipster…etc etc etc.

    now as for message. Nobody has denied there are messages in almost all artworks. Sure.

    The problem is that when one bases one experience and bases ones critique on message, one is missing the deeper layers of …what adorno called, the experience of the artwork. THe engagement. I dont think he would , nor would I, deny that interpretation is a huge part of this experience. But what is being interpreted. And this is the crucial issue. Because the didactic theme or message is usually neutralized or turned into its opposite by the form.

    Now adorno said repeatedly that the purposelessness of art is where the utopian potential resided. But the point I continue to try to make…and i say try because i think its insanely complex….is that the discovery of the form is not simple. If you read Adorno on kafka or beckett, you start to get a pretty good idea of where he is going with these observations. And he was well aware of the danger of the art for arts sake trap….the merely beautiful. For we are speaking, really, of modern art here. I think discussing medieval church alters is a seperate, but related discussion. So….there is in modern work the straining for, if thats the right way to put it, a negation of the realm of mass art. Or rather, art has become independent from bourgeois society, from bourgeois institutions, and this autonomy is always in transition because of other political and social changes, and that under advanced capital the autonomy of art was being challanged….and art then both criticizes but also often affirms capital. But its liberatory capacity still exists in its achieving autonomy. Now as i say this is being simplistic about a very complex topic…..but….”Absolute freedom in art…contradicts the abiding unfreedom of the social whole. That is why the place and function of art in society has become uncertain. The freedom art gained after freeing itself from earlier cult function, depended on humanity”.

    “By rejecting reality, art vindicates reality”.

    This at the start of Aesthetic Theory. So i see no mystification here…….but this is the really crucial heart of our debate. You see the uselessness as coinciding with the demonization of usefulness in workers. I dont think these things actually interface each other. Though perhaps they do in some way, but either way, the uselessness is the way out of artistic enslavement in a sense. To create work that resists being turned into propaganda. And this gets tricky with regard to commodification. And to profit. That which too easily is embraced and profitable is suspect. But…….not always, because the path to profitability is not one dimensional. There are lots of ways this happens, and adorno would be the first to insist that art cannot escape its relation to society, and to political emancipation.

    Zuidervaart, who i think is the best interpreter of adorno, wrote
    “…certain works of art transcend an unfree system and crack the cement of the culture industry. Autonomy, the very principle that renders art ideological, also provides the precondition for its emancipatory role” In other words the truth of the work is not in the message, which too easily is prey to manipulation and various presentations /// venues and ways of presenting. This is a huge part of Aesthetic Theory and a huge part of the debate in letters between Benjamin and Adorno. The political is embedded in the artwork via the committment of the artist….(says TA…..contra lukacs and benjamin). The point is not that messages dont exist, but that they dont matter.

  7. John Steppling says:

    that andrea smith piece is excellent. Terrific.

  8. Molly Klein says:

    >>>Brand does’t sell his labour – he owns the product, He has big companies he has to deal with but he is not exploited. He has far more than an individual’s share of the social product., He exploits labourers. He is an exploiter and a capitalist. That is his “structural” class. This has never required bourgeois culture. But bourgeois culture as an imitation of aristo culture having absorbed its erudition and purified its morals is a thing of the past, Of course from the beginning capitalists were distinguished from landowning aristocrats and capitalists were thought vulgarians.

    entertainers and athletes are interesting because they seem like labourers and in some cases – say the NBA – they out on a show that suggest that society is meritocratic, because they do physically labour (they own the product though; they are professionals) they have a rare skill and only the best really succeed, But these industries are some where visibly we see upward mobility – Oprah Winfrey, Rosanne Barr, Ice Cube, Madonna…it may be they never fit in with aristos (women perhaps can more easily be elevated in poshness by marriage) but this is neither a very pitiable hardship for a multimillionaire to endure nor the same issue as what Fisher and those guys pretend to be talking about which is the social division between producers and appropriators and the condition of the working class as people obliged to sell their labour to live. Russel Brand doesn’t need to sell his labour, He owns capital – his wealth grows by exploiting others who have nothing to sell but their labour.

    Now of course there have always been radical intellectuals and even activists from the big bourgeoisie – Engels famously. The attacks on Brand are the msm, the “lib prog’ Guardian and New Statesman andf Salon looking for ways to change the subject from what he was discussing,

    Especially when he outed Hugo Boss as a Nazi company, he really did ruffle feathers and threaten to interfere with someone’s profits. But when you say he is “punished’ it seems exaggerated – people say nasty things sure. He hasn’t been blacklisted. He’s not going to be immiserated or assassinated. When Oprah said on tv she would never eat another hamburger, the meat industry sued her. And won. Because an individual wielding that kind of power is beautiful to the Murdoch empire until she is a black woman; then its kind of outrageous that she personally has that sway especially if she uses it to hurt the capitalists who are killing people with their poisonous food.

    So yes there is an effect even at those wealth and power levels of a kind of social rank that seems archaic and yet that effect is slight and ultimately socially insignificant. We don’t want to end up too intensely fretting for the exploiter class; our politics won’t be to demand that Oprah and Russel Brand enjoy all the benefits of their money by being seen as gods; we don’t want it to be considered shameful, much less illegal, to insult them or talk about them as if they were still riff raff. We notice this and it helps us understand how race works and how there are unnamed races (how the working class is also raced, again flexibly, since we are in the digital media age and all of this is flexible), but we dont want the spectacle to lure us into that pseudo cause.

    I liked what Brad Evans said but I thought when he started to elaborate on authenticity it revealed how he was applying a liberal individualist frame at bottom — anarchistish I guess. What can Brand do to prove his authenticity? he asked rhetorically sort of. But hey who says every member of the ruling class has the individual right to be adored and feared as if they were a born aristocrat? I mean, what if his situation just is not that? What if Russel Brand can only ever get 99% of the benefits and pleasures of ruling class status? And Evans identifies with him in a certain way and it seems that he is kind of refusing to accept the concrete reality that yes he is unavoidably working to reproduce the detestable status quo of class and power., He does it for his own decent life, Yes. That is how it is – there is no way to remain innocent and pure and bourgeois in our present situation, The question is why this outrage that a bunch of upwardly mobile white rich men can’t feel totally innocent and pure? Do we see anyone else demanding this total innocence, this way of thinking about the world wherein they are always totally hands clean and virtuous? They take no responsibility for anything except what they choose and invent from scratch? When Greg Donaldson interviewed kids who just deal drugs on the street in Brownsville in the 90s because there is nothing else they can do – it is hard work, they have to help out at home and support themselves – none of them demanded they be considered totally innocent of the structures they served or the culture – “the Life’ they called it – they participate in reproducing. A consciousness of complicity (not in that disgusting theery way popular now where it is always someone else’s being denounced) was assumed an element of maturity. Why do well to do influential white men fixate on disavowing their complicity and demanding this acknowldegement of their utter powerlessness and innocence? Why must the Brand fans demand he be declared innocent of his class – his status as capitalist? He is a capitalist. That doesn’t make what he did less useful (though its being managed and coopted so well by even bigger capitalists than he with whom he is allied generally and to a point in cahoots) or refreshing or, in the case of shaming Hugo Boss as Nazi, kind of courageous, if not especially so in the grand scheme of things,

    So true the upstarts and parvenus, if they don’t marry right or adopt a certain manner, may have to belong to the Friars and not the Century or the Harmony club but who really cares? Bill Clinton was also a parvenu. George Soros. Barbara Streisand. The ruling blocs of the ruling class have parevnus as well the rest of the ruling class.

    I hear what you are saying about not fitting in in Hollywood but you were looking for work or working for someone. You’ve discussed before how Hollywood people can make everyone feel like that.

    About art and uselessness…I would accept that art is the impulse to the process of action and creation that does escape that circuit of production ancd consumption that can be captured as capital – i think performance art as well as a lot of experiment theatre was clearly this kind of desperate act once everyone had taken into account how art objects and copyrights serve the ruling class as value repositories, But then if art validates reality by rejecting reality – isn’t that a useful thing (I mean something you desire and will enjoy)…isn’t validating reality in a sense the purpose or the meaning? This may be just shallow argument about terminology but I think that there is a propagandistic content to this (late arriving, bourgeois) aesthetic discourse of art that is so contemptuous of the idea of usefulness as if that is whorish…It is a crappy movie but Bertolucci’s Last Emperor has a wonderful end…the deposed emperor is in the reeductaion camp and he is going to be asked to become a gardener. He says angrily to the tutor of hsi reeduction “you just want to use me! i am useful to you!’ and the guy says “is that so bad? to be useful?’ So this kind of aristocracy of artists and art strikes me often as an expression of this just contempt for humanity in a way – for our needs, for the fact that “use” and “usefulness” describes our healthy relation to the natural and manmade commons from which property severs us – and it can be a way of asserting that spiritual hierarchy that says we exist to serve the emperor he does not serve anyone he has no use he is Art or the divine,

    But anyway that’s just about this vocabulary of uselessness, purposelessness art-for-art’s-sake. I acceo that “art” may usefully (!) name something that has no OTHER purpose than whatever art names but I still think we find meanings and messages and not only in literature. I’m rambling I’ll stop

  9. Molly Klein says:

    This is making me want to talk about Cluny Browne, have you ever seen

    all on youtube

  10. Molly Klein says:

    So yes there is an effect even at those wealth and power levels of a kind of social rank that seems archaic and yet that effect is slight and ultimately socially insignificant. We don’t want to end up too intensely fretting for the exploiter class; our politics won’t be to demand that Oprah and Russel Brand enjoy all the benefits of their money by being seen as gods

    and of course as you often mention on FB and elsewhere this impulse to produce some kind of fairness to the ruling class individuals as a spectacle of antiracism and anti white supremacy was skillfully manipulated by Obama to protect the white house imperial policy from challenge and criticism – the question becomes why shouldnt Obama have the right to kill Libyans just like Reagan had? Why shouldn’t Susan Rice have the same right to be as lawless and schmittian as John Bolton? etc.

    Russell Brand of course offendced the liberal capitalist press by doing something nice for the audience, introducing these topics on tv. He didn’t really go further than real leftists (say Naomi Klein) have gone on the BBC; he wasnt very informative as she can be in the time allotted, but he was a good advocate for the propertyless and it was full of real feeling and a lot of people felt apprreciative, so it was to attack them really as usual – the appreciative audeicne of brand fans – that Guardian and NS got all fired up. But this too is why the defence of Brand personally…like Jodi Dean’s idfiotic addendum to FIsher – is part of the msm’s process to use this moment for its advantage. It becomes a story about downtrodden white male capitalist; Brand himself tried to tell a story about propertyless single mothers and the commentary machinem with its msm and its appendages on the sood “far left” collaborated in making it about anything else, infantile point-missing white supremacist assumption-enforcing displays from Penny and Lennard (cristalmiteee) and then in response poor Russel Brand, downtrodden for being white and male

  11. John Steppling says:

    Well, here is the thing with Brand. And ive said this before. What has happened is that because of his celebrity (and thats a very specific thing, a concrete thing……it has paremeters and content) he got heard. Naomi Klein isnt heard quite as much, nor Greenwald say even. Brand is a celebrity. But the problem is, he is a very successful entertainer, and probably a corporation, but shit, i was a corporation, too, when I worked in hollywood. He is still selling his labor. The networks can decide not to hire him. Now at this level, in “show business” (show up and its all business) and in professional sports, there are quite unique situations. For athletes, its a short work life. THey can sell what they do for maybe MAYBE ten years top. The average is like three. And they dont own what they do. They cant make money unless they play for a professional team in a league owned by very rich people (think pete rose). It took curt flood, a baseball player, to even get unions created (and they arent really unions per se, same as entertainment unions are not REALLY unions….but they do overlap in a lot of ways).

    and actors and entertainers often rise to levels of semi ownership…Jay Z is now a complete corporation, same as oprah, and to a far lesser degree Brand. But thats really neither here nor there, finally. Thats partly the result of financialized capital market and this unique situation that exists within the culture industry. What would we say about Jeff Koons for example? But…my point was, Brand still said great stuff, and yes he was punished. He has been the object of countless attacks in the press. WIll that cost him? I dont know. And its not the point in the end. What he said was what mattered and critiquing the response, and that response expressed a good deal about class and celebrity and even about the notional ‘authenticity’. Why was he being scolded? I mean naomi klein is not scolded? Nor greenwald. They might be ridiculed….but its a subtle but not unimportant distinction. So its pretty interesting.

    You want to focus on the mark fisher defenders. Brand is not responsible for that. He said nothing to validate white male domination. He shouldnt be blamed for being right in what he said.

    Parvenus have far less power is why that matters. They cannot, or rarely, rise to the place where they exercise real power. That is part of what class markers…archaic though they may seem, are doing. And im not sure they are really that archaic. THey are partly sort of anachronistic perhaps.

    Ok…but see…..this thing about arts purposlessness. I think you still arent getting it. With respect………..happenings and performance art did NOT do what they set out to do. And this is also rather crucial …..and I think Herbert Blau first brought this up….this is why adorno’s dialectics of negation are vital to understanding culture , in my opinion. Happenings only negated in a very superficial way because they were never substantial enough, by their form, to narrate anything. They were anti narratives, they became “spectacle”. They were no different finally from the super bowl really….not aesthetically. And performance art, but reducing the stage to a form of sermon, and the lens of the author, and director often, through which the artwork achieves autonomy, being eliminated, became anti dialectical as it were. THere was no mimetic reading, no space created…as i use the word space. And i think all performance art is actually reactionary and regressive. And yes validating reality is part of what is transformative. Thats not bad. But ask yourself why one cant sit on the corner and watch people pass by and experience it aesthetically? This raises this knotty question of realism again. One is not duplicating reality. One has negate reality to validate it, and to suggest the latent utopian. Art is allegorical. It re narrates our social history, and it narrates our individual history.
    Where we get talking at cross purposes I think is that autonomy can exist within the culture industry. It can, rarely admittedly, exist in partial form. The people producing the artwork and making money off it are not able to always limit the radical and transcendent qualities. Goya was paid by aristocracy and the church. Does that mean his work is valorizing the aristocracy>? Or has no autonomous life? Pasolini was produced, at times, by the same people producing fascist art. I mean artists cannot escape the system. It cant be done. Thats reality, thats the material with which they work. And then the artwork can , to stick to the metaphor, go outside of this. And additionally, the intentions of the artist often dont matter either. I mean culture wouldnt be very interesting if it were otherwise. I dont think anyone would care very much about it….it would be what the right wing wants it to be, frivilous entertainment. This is what I have tried to write about on this blog since it began because I think so few people understand it. And look, Adorno said it was increasingly difficult to create honestly. The truth content, as he put it, was ever more difficult to produce and sustain and harder to hear . But….as i said in this posting, until this level of rigour is applied to aesthetic discourse, those artists working at the community level are going to continue to produce exactly what the ruling class and the system wants. Bad work. It reproducing colonial structrues. And the elite class will produce reactionary kitsch of another sort, better crafted, with a glossier more sophisticated appearance, but in the end also just commodities. And commodities that are nothing more than commodities. Great art manages, and its part of the definition i suppose, to transcend its material conditions, its materials will always be those of social domination in one respect. But only in one respect….because narrative for example, always has the potential to negate its pre conditions.

    coda on class.
    All i can say is that for those of us who came from the underclass, i doubt the truth of class can be missed. That its not recognized. Some adopt the values and ideology of the establishment….sure. But class stigma is not an illusion. What you say though is certainly correct in many respects…and Brand is being utilized for various agendas. And the fact that he is attractive and male and white matters, too. Im only saying that one cant yet know if Brand is reproducing the status quo. I quote malcom again…..people change and wake up. Brand shouldnt be judged quite yet.

  12. Molly Klein says:

    Lot to reply but just quickly

    No Brand is NOT selling his labour. He owns his product, He owns his copyrights. Just because he doesnt own everything in the entire entertainment insdustry all by himself does not make him a worker. He is a capitalist,. He makes deals with distributors. He owns his persona, his words, his performances. He owns portions of all the infrastructure, the real estate, the licenses, he is a memver of the capitalist class that owns the world and exploits everyone, These are questions of class. You pay a dentist but he is not working class., You pay a painter or an actor but they are not working class. They are petty bourgeois, He on the other hand is grand bourgeois, And if the networks don’t hire him its okay becauae he exploiits other people’s labour as an owner of capital and has an income from that. He doesn’t need to sell labour to reproduce himself. He owns the means of production and exploits other people, That is what a capitalist is. The President of a network is not working class because he has a salary. Class in this sense is defined by the relationship to the means of production, Owners of the means of production are appropriators, Many of them also do stuff…Many many many women of the bourgeoisie are mothers phsyically reproducing our species this does not make them working class, David Letterman is not working class, And neither is Russel Brand.

    He is also socially perfectly ‘clubbable’ and is dating one of the poshest richest women in the world, Jemima Kahn nee Goldsmith. If that is not acceptance by the upper class I don’t know what is. I mean it would be aq scandal if he narried a royal probably but that’s about it.

    He was scolded by whom? The mainstream media that also gave him a platform. He was not silenced he was mocked – and by penny and lennard in the way they thought would grab their audiences, Naomi Klein got exactly the same treatment from Paxman – saying who are you to talk? You are a beneficiary of capitalism etc. She rolled her eyes and said are we going to do this? Just like Brand.

    anyway lots more to respond to but just quickly —
    “and i think all performance art is actually reactionary and regressive.”

    I agree about much but actually I think the best artworld high art in NY of the postwar were performance artworks especially

  13. Molly Klein says:

    I’m not judging brand bad,m I thought it was very nice, Identifying Brand as a capitalist – an owner of capital, a member of the capitalist class, which is a fact -isnt “judging him”. The word boyurgeois might be ambiguous enough to be inaccurate if applied to him in some sense, but he literally is bourgeois – a property powning townsperson in commerce. You want him to have a certain kind of innocence or something. An individual self fashioning existince undetermined by any concrete context. Wanting to insist he is “working class” because of his way of speaking or childhood is the way to actually deny class as a mechanism of domination and exploitation. It’s like saying identify Lord Edward Fitzgerald as an aristocrat is “judging him'”. It’s just a fact.

    Now my father was born working class in real poverty. His mother worked in a sweatshop, He delivered dry cleaning at ^ years old. Then he worked in a factory, injection molding. Are you telling me I grew up in a working class household because of this even when he was a network executive? Or when he had a company of his own? He talked like a working class Brooklynite. He said “ain’t” very naturally. He wouldnt have gotten membership in the Harmony club,. He didn;’t finish university though he did a couple years at Brooklyn College on the GI bill, But he never would have claimed to be working class when he wasn’t anymore. Because he had been a wage slave he knew perfectl;y well when he wasn’t anymore buthad become a capitalist, He knew perfectl;y well the dfifference and what it means to have to sell labour and how one is unfree when one doens’t have property and free when one does,. So Russel Brand doesn’t kvetch that he is as unfree as working class person; others want to advance this kvetch on his behalf, I don’t know why.,

  14. Molly Klein says:

    my mother’s father was a shipping clerk. working class, but he married my motrher;s mother whose mother owned a candy store in Brownsville (where she herself scooped the ice cream and ran the cash register) and they were no longer working class. For a time they owned a small apartment building in Brownsville and were landlords; it was unprofitable. But he knew he was not working class anymore, that he had become petty bourgeois. Why pretend there is no mobility at all even when someone has tens of millions of pounds, is a major property owner and an employer oflabour directly and indirectly? Then all this is is identity politics, demanding recognition – because we are not pitying Brand for any financial hardship or any persecution, just for enduring some snarkiness from not only the Murdoch press but the liberal progressive press he himself is very pleased to puff celebrate and support>

  15. Molly Klein says:

    It can, rarely admittedly, exist in partial form. The people producing the artwork and making money off it are not able to always limit the radical and transcendent qualities. Goya was paid by aristocracy and the church. Does that mean his work is valorizing the aristocracy>? Or has no autonomous life?

    I don’t deny that art cant do whatever art does because it is funded or puirchased, My position is that the fact that art is doing whatever art does – whatever you claim for it – is no comfort to those people who are under the bombs it is also providing if it is a capital asset that is part of the system of accumulation,

    That is of course people who watch television can have all this wonderful experience of art while watching television, The satisfaction of the consumers is not the problem with television., The problem, is the people being blown apart by drones as a result of this accumulation of value through commerical media systems are not protected or helped by the aesthetic transports of the safe viewers. I mean this is obvious – the point is that people are sacrificed to other people’s aesthetic joys as well as other sensual pleasures. The artists, who do not alone create anything but who have this epdecial role in the infusions of some things with art or artness, unlike most other people claiming some critical capacity often deny or excuse their work or suggest that because it has these special capacities – to validate reality by rejecting reality – peopp[le who never get to see this art and are only harmed by the accumulation it facilitates should celebrate and honor it anyway,\

    Of course art is wonderful for people who consume it. And fancy hotels are delightful for the guests, The fact that people slave away to produce this stuff doesn’t make it less delightful for the beneficiaries, and the fact that it serves a function in the accumulation which perpetuates the empire and its violence doesn’t make the bed less comfy or the art less satisfying.

    You are always attributing this idea to me that I don’t have – that the sistine ceiling sucks because the pope commissioned it, It doesn’t suck, It’s wonderful, The pope having paid for it is irrelevant to the wonderfulness of this art as art,. However the wonderfulness of this art as art doesn’t lessen (indeed is key to) it’s capacity to function in the reproduction of the status quo of power and property. Which for people who have never seen the sistine ceiling or don’t like it is naturally more important than its wonderfulness as art, One thing we know about the sistine ceiling is living near it has not made the bureaucrats of the Papacy nicer. That;’s not what it is for of course, Art is not there to counteract the predatory or callous nature of humanity. It is not there to encourage human flourishing or obstruct the enemies of human flourishing, It’s not there for anything. It has no political purpose or any other purpose, So politically its wonderfulness is of no importance. The wonderful artness of art then doesn’t really belong to a discussion then of the politics of the art industries, That’s all I’m saying, Like it’s irrelevant to this topic – the politics of the entertainment and media industries and the art industry – whether arty is any good as art,.

  16. Molly Klein says:

    ‘as i said in this posting, until this level of rigour is applied to aesthetic discourse, those artists working at the community level are going to continue to produce exactly what the ruling class and the system wants. Bad work. It reproducing colonial structrues. ‘

    Well this is my question really because it seems to me there has been art production of many centuries and there is no indication thatbad work is more compatible with authorianism and fascism than good work, And the ruling class likes good work; it owns all the good work and it cares for it and uses it for class reproductive purposes,

  17. Molly Klein says:

    what the ruling class hates is agitprop

  18. John Steppling says:

    let me work backward a little……..sort of.

    Preventing people dying from bombs is sort of this demand for culture that it doesnt have the ability to correct. Art doesnt stop wars. Art doesnt start wars.

    Im an artist……(i leave it to others to decide if Im a good artist). I also worked for horrible studios and networks while I was in hollywood. And Im a capitalist. I hate capitalism, I try to educate and work against it, but I have to pay the rent or end up on the street and if I could, I would be making more money than I do. Id love to have a new car. I actually dont have any car. Am I an exploiter and responsible for drone assasinations? No, Im not. We all have to live in this increasingly totalitarian police state. We survive as best we can and create the pleasures for ourselves that we can. And if we have a conscience we do what we can to stop the exploitation. I had unpaid interns working for me when I was a staff writer. They brought me coffee during story meetings. They were exploited. Sure, and thrilled , in their delusion, to be doing this unpaid labor. So….how exactly is it artists are to blame for making art? One of the only and one of the most profound hedges to this totalitarian state is culture. Improving it improves the lives of people, it doesnt damage them. Now….the culture industry is largely a propaganda wing of the government. And of the defense industry and the major corporations. It cranks out all the stuff I write about, and we all discuss. Im not sure what you are asking of the audience for this stuff? The audience didnt create it. They sustain it by consuming it, but this is like tax on cigarettes and alcohol………i mean you end up taking more money from people that use these agents that numb suffering, that try to give themselves some relief from the pain of life. I think working to change a system that profits from pain is the idea, not issuing edicts of prohibition on the painkillers for living through this nightmare. So your suggestion is what? That somehow people who are able to consume tv are to be criticized for drone attacks? Lots of poor people watchTV. They watch, sadly, a lot more than the ruling class. I wish they had access to better education and more ability and time to participate in culture in a meaningful way. This returns in a sense to education. But, why blame the poor or the middle class for consuming TV and film products, or theatre, or painting or music? The system profits from consumption…..the same system profits from making clothes and providing shit processed food……….should people stop eating? Everytime you buy an orange you are helping perpetuate near slave conditions for orange pickers. Shoud we go naked? Its the system, its the society we live in. We can only work to change it and I believe part of changing it is education and part of education is cultural. Making fun , snidely, of …

    “. I mean this is obvious – the point is that people are sacrificed to other people’s aesthetic joys as well as other sensual pleasures. The artists, who do not alone create anything but who have this epdecial role in the infusions of some things with art or artness, unlike most other people claiming some critical capacity often deny or excuse their work or suggest that because it has these special capacities – to validate reality by rejecting reality – peopp[le who never get to see this art and are only harmed by the accumulation it facilitates should celebrate and honor it anyway,\””

    no people are not sacrificed to other people’s aesthetic joys. The system does that, Capitalism, the predatory profit structure. And of course the desperately poor around the world dont have art to view, or time, and often they dont have food or clothes either. Capitalism, imperialism, does that. Its based on inequality. We are privileged enough to not have to endure that, but the poor here and the working class, and thats most people, endure quite enough. The US prison system is gigantic, and people endure, especially the young, metal detectors, stop and frisk laws, prison terms for victimless crimes, and chronic surveillance. The wonderful of art, as you patronizingly put it, is of importance because it is part of cultural education, and part of what makes existence richer. It teaches people how to think, how to organize their thoughts, how order the world…including forms of oppression. Some cant even get access to bare essentials, but those who can are certainly not to be blamed for those who cant. Because this logic leads to some psychotic position where one is expected to……I dont know…….honestly……one is expected to do what>? You are blaming victims here. So id argue that the politics of art is inextricably bound up with its quality, with its propaganda and meaning, and with the conditions of its production……… well as with aesthetics. Ive used the term aesthetic resistance…which Beller might have coined…..someone, not me…..but I use it. The rise of fascism in germany is linked to the destruction of education…and both Adorno and Marcuse and Horkheimer all said this. One sees it in the US today, obviously. If you want to place aesthetics over there… some distance from US military aggression, fine. But I dont think that any such distance exists. Culture trains people, and art that is not propaganda, not kistch sentimental apologies for state power, also works to teach this., And the existence of Imperial aggression does not preclude educating a populace to the role of aesthetics. Are we to put aside ‘art” until there is world peace and total equality? And of course art is there to encourage human flourishing and its there to obstruct the enemies in a sense, too, although thats more contested as an idea, because I dont think art does that very much. SO politically its actually of great importance to understand what constitutes the experience of an artwork, and how culture and art works. And the interpretation of narrative plays a direct and consequential role in understanding social domination, but it does more than that. It awakens people from a sonambulent state, it provies utopian dreams, and ideas of possibilites beyond the status quo.

    As for Brand…….i think we can round about this forever. Brand is not to be blamed for his success I dont think. This is puritanical in a way. He has taken the opportunity to speak out from a celebrity platform, and thats all to the good. I dont care who he dates for fuck sake., I mean this impulse to police is troubling. I understand the definitions of class you provide, although I think its debatable…….and certainly within the cultural sphere its very hard to apply this categories that are over a hundred years old. Labor has changed….thats clear, and I agree with a lot of beller, for example, but one has to examine what the options are for people. This is that Stalinist gene in so many marxists……trots especially…….but its like the endless explusion committe in the sky. Everyone on this level, by these terms, is compromised. EVERYONE. I mean the millions around the globe in desperate forced migration, and in refugee camps, and in urban slums in Sao Paulo or Lagos…no, they are huge in number, and part of working to change a system, a global system of exploitation, is in education. Unless you have a better solution, and Id love to hear it. But the idea that aeshtetics is of no importance to this global system means one would wonder, again, why you even read this blog? Or write essays about Zizek? Is Dark Knight any less politically effective as a doctrine of racist vigilante pro capital than Zizek? Id say a lot more people learn of the world from Dark Knight.

  19. John Steppling says:

    we cross posted. Actually, I think its too simplistic to create this model that says oh, good work is owned by the rich, and only they appreciate it. No they dont. But increasingly nobody seems able to discriminate. And again, this is some binary and excessively crude model. Education obviously does affect political thinking, and effects mass collective attitudes of behavior. A lot else does too.

    The rich are not the only smart people…..they dont have a patent on intelligent viewing or deep experience of art. You know that. The idea is to improve cultural education. Aesthetic resistance! Or……you seem to be saying its just of no importance. But if its of no importance…….if community level arts education doesnt matter, if cultural education doesnt provide a defense against fascist mass think —- then again, according to you, I should be doing something else, no? Or I should state….this is of no importance but it might be amusing if you have privilege and time enough to be distracted. You could also go watch Sex and the City. Your choice.

    and if we arent providing arts education………what should we be educating people about?

  20. Molly Klein says:

    The idea is to improve cultural education. Aesthetic resistance! Or……you seem to be saying its just of no importance

    no i think it does have importance but eas aghreeing with you that its useless and meaningless for the saqke of argument

    i actuallyu think art has politics and that aesthetic judgements should be distinct from political ones but that the latter are just as importnat
    to me they are and I reject any order to think and feel otherwise
    you often argue that aesthetically conservative didactic works are politicall reactionay, That seems wrong to me …in fact I think communistic pro humanity art is mostly aesthetically conservative, like the Count of Monte Cristo
    I think the avant garde is not politically communistic. I think the stance we call avant garde, which admittedly encompasses a variety of postures, mainly petty bourgeois dissident politically, individualistic pessimistic misogynistic psychologistic and usually idealist, This work is no doubt full of truth but for this narrow section of humanity who is expressing itself this way. It’s not my politics,. I do think moxst of this work is elitist and somatophobic. I think its ultraleft and often reactionary and as we can all see its compatible with fascism through not only with fascism. But I don’t see this stuff as being part of a politics I support and I think that this is worth discussing as much as its aesthetic effects.

    That is not an aesthetic judgement.

    The idea is to improve cultural education. Aesthetic resistance! Or……you seem to be saying its just of no importance

    I am sympathetic to the position of nthe reds in that Weiss novel who see the avant garde as expressions of victjmzatrion by capitalism and resistance to bourgeois values of the time but not as communist. I think we need to register there is no more conservative protestant bourgeoisie dictating taste. The bourgeoisie is all for porn and vulgarity. Its obligatory to show white ingenues pissing now in films and tv. I just had the misforune of seeing Frances Ha my god. Anyway this crusty fuddy duddy pearl clutching nemesis of artistic badboys is gone for good, Beyond this we have to recognize the claims to the universality of these very specific experiences are just the effect of white supremacist confidence. A lot of this railing against modernity that is shared by fascists like Heidegger and plenty of left affiliated modernists is very narrow and egoist. it just doesn’;t appeal to everyone with the same intensity as it grabbed its niche. Much of bthis work enacts liberations and rebelluons for example with symbolic violence against women in a formula determined by freud. It just isn’t liberating for everyone. The art is often modest in its claims for itself but the apparatus of the avant garde criticism and industry makes immense unjustified claims, One way to protect it s status is to simply declare all analysis and interpretation invalid. This is borrowing a technique from ruling class propaganda time out of mind

  21. Molly Klein says:

    ‘Brand is not to be blamed for his success I dont think. This is puritanical in a way. He has taken the opportunity to speak out from a celebrity platform, and thats all to the good. I dont care who he dates for fuck sake.’

    Nobody is blaming him for his success
    You are saying he is working class.
    He is not; he is a capitalist. a very rich one.
    Then you are saying well despite being a capitalist exploiting labour he is still working vclass because he is not accepted in posh social circles
    and that is why I brought up whom he is with now, the circles in which he is obviously accepted socially are the creme de la creme

    This is simply to underscore that Russell Brand is not working class by any definition. He is a ‘self made’ capitalist multimillionaire.

    I said several times I thought his performance was nice and the wave of abuse he received from the mainstream’s sood left pundits reactionary. I really don’t think Paxman was worse to him than to Klein – in fact he was more deferential to the superrich male celebrity entertainer than to the bourgeois female activist celebrity intellectual But it is true the abuse of Naomi Klein from these same circles – she has been attacked bythe Guardian, by Henwood, by Sunkara – rarely mentions her substantial personal wealth, arguably because people dont feel it is unnatural or innappropriate for someone like her to be so rich

  22. Molly Klein says:

    “no people are not sacrificed to other people’s aesthetic joys. The system does that, Capitalism, the predatory profit structure.”

    well yes. all the capital assets Russel Brand owns are things of which other people are deprived. That is how it works, ;well isn’t my fault’ or ;its just my job’ or ‘sdon’t hate me for my success’ is a personal response but it doesn’t invalidate the analysis.

  23. John Steppling says:

    well, this is a good discussion, though I wish others would comment. Working back. Ok.,.,.. whatever Brand is, and we are using this term “class” differently, there is no zero sum game in this. Things I own, for example, are not depriving anyone else of those things. There is tons of food destroyed every year, cars are destroyed or scraped etc, Again, the forces of exploitation do not rely on individuals in that sense. But maybe you are speaking metaphorically. But either way its wrong.

    As for aesthetics and politics. I guess I cant find a logic to separating them. Again, aesthetic education is linked to the political. I mean fascism was an aestheticized politics…….but the point is really that one shouldnt confuse categories, I agree, and this links with the purposelessness debate. But…..culture has direct political implications. And maybe its just an argument about approaches.

    im sure the avant garde wasnt communist. Though, yes, there are many avant gardes. And its useful to look at the avant garde in music, at the start of modernism, and then at painting, and then literature. DIfferent things were going on in different ways in each and even within each medium movements were splintered. But not being communist per se doesnt disqualify them from consideration or importance. I think here we reach a point where generalizations start to be a problem because we would have to really start speaking specifically about individuals and periods.

    I think political judgements are equally important…and i doubt you can find anywhere i suggest otherwise.

    Now, again, there is this odd mistaking of form and content or message. And it just be its something you dont see. For whatever reason…a bad aesthetic education probably. (insert smiley face). But its certainly shared by a lot of leftists. Count of Monte Christo is good pulp. Its sort of entertaining and i personally greatly like that book. But its not great writing, the art, the poetics of language and form is missing. Its just not very deep, either. I think of, say, Melville. Or today Bernhard,.., well, he’s dead….or peter handke’s novels…..this is great work. It negates formula, it creates the space to contemplate it, and in encourages an inward process in the reader. Few writers manage to find that. Juan Ruflo is another favorite of mine, fifty years ago now I guess. Sixty maybe. I think you continue to read things in a certain way that relies on thematic meaning. Some of that work is very good. Im not arguing that. But I do argue, say, the idea of Diego Rivera, who i like, mind you, as a great artist. I just dont see it. He defeats himself by being a propagandist. Its why adorno preferred beckett to brecht. But look……….i agree totally about 99% of what is produced. You’ve read this blog, so clearly you know that. But i still think the problem is more with valorizing crap because it has a message you are sympathetic with. The bad mural of Che, or of Croat fascists killing serbs and one I can be sympathetic to….in fact Id love to see that……..but it still might be a bad mural. If you let go of the idea of reading work according to your political beliefs……and I think this ends up being reactionary. For it succombs to the prevailing sensibility of the Imperialist ruling class. They encourage token kitsch art resistence. I mean its not an accident that aesthetics is taught the way its taught now…..the ways it has changed over eighty years. Its like aesthetic provincialism…and its part of a bureacraticizing of culture, too. It has increasingly relied on reductive structures, on message, on bathos and sentimentality, and trained and conditioned now three generations to think only in terms of amusement and irony. The stuff the New Yorker praises is far worse than the Che mural. Rachel Kushner is just horrid. All of those now officially prestige novelists are crap. Every single one. There are good writers…Pynchon still is writing and I think the jury remains out, but Im always interested. But mostly you have MFA junk. James Kelman is great, and I greatly respect McCarthy. Im not sure what is left for mccarthy at this point, if he can ever go beyond what he has done. He maybe is maxed out in that sense. But the other thing I want to mention is that the real communistic component might be found more easily if the cult of authorship were relaxed, if this idea of individual genius were approached differently. If collective shaping, and the elimination of the idea of completion, were to occur, then the results would like likely be quite amazing. This is the bougeois class idea of ‘genius’ and talent, and all these things……….and the collective spirit is not there to neutralize a Rembrandt. If a Rembrandt comes along, nobody is going to be confused about it. But that is how I would introduce arts to the schools. But with rigor. And renaissance workshops in a sense were very collaborative.. Its not therapy. Its serious, and its hard and there is an objective excellence. But…..if it stops being so focused on a completed commodity, then I think things might progress.

  24. John Steppling says:

    i want to add two things. You said most “of this work” is elitist. Im not sure what you mean, but if Im right, I would really argue that. No, art in general is not elitist. And what we call great art….what I have called imporant art, is certainly not elitist. This is that weird factory marxism again. If the “people” dont rally around some bad propagandistic junk….whether text or image…..its deemed elitist. Ive heard this complaint for forty years. Forty !! Oh, this or that is elitist. ANd its simply not true. But maybe I dont know what you mean? But if you mean the modernist avant garde, I would really really aggressively argue that. What is elitist in the bulk of 20th century modernism? IF anything it was anti elitist. I think one of the problems in general with a lot of leftists is what they think the socialist paradise and unrepressed society would look like. What would culture be like if everyone really got a good education, and their creativity was nutured, and where puritanism was discouraged, etc. I often wonder what a lot of communists think, beyond free health care and a free apartment. I mean Im a socialist….I want equality. I think everyone should help do the work, share in the bounty of plenty that could exist. I want a sex positive and not sex negative society. I want to abolish prisons and live as communally as possible.

    Now, that a lot of bad art is misogynist and racist is obvious. Most all of hollywood studio film is both, and also jingoistic. ANd conformist. THe moral tales about the virtues of obedience. But…the erosion of the avant garde has meant actually an increased space for real elitism (who is rachel kushner’s audience? Who was F scott fitzgerald’s audience or faulkner’s….for both were best sellers. Compare. And this is also the regressive side of this audience which is nominally middle class, but also the proletariat having more time for leisure…..although they in many ways work longer hours, they have less community activity, and collective social time, and so more time to shop for junk, and to consume cultural distractions. There is another trend today…over the last decade…which is a trend toward the new feudalism….or, really, social relations that resemble the industrial revolution. So this is changing)… and for the ceding of authority in matters of taste to the commodity producers. The elitist cultural gatekeepers at least knew , often anyway, what was good…or that there was a historical memory, and that a serious rigorous approach to culture was important…the problem being, for them, only important to a very few. Now today there are no real gatekeepers. Now we have simply corporate violence masquerading as the newest brand of cool…..attitude….and also, increasingly, an infantalising of culture. And you see this in not just “art” but in essays and op ed pieces and all commentary. And this new resurgent racism, and stunningly fascistic sensibility. And you see it in leftist publications too. I find it stunning that , say, In These Times, or Mother Jones, both of which have had good pieces, continue a really shockingly moronic cultural stance……reviews of film and TV which are in no way critical writing, but just shopping guides. And they enclose feminism, and race…within these shopping guides. Or that link you provided for the Jacobin panel. Sheri Berman was expressing clear racist and fascist beliefs. Code words were used in places… but really, she was saying, oh the south of europe is lazy and disorganized. The nordic countries can handle some social democracy, but be careful about immigration…that can destroy solidarity. I mean what the fuck is that? This is what is so disturbing.

  25. Molly Klein says:

    Things I own, for example, are not depriving anyone else of those things.

    not things you own because you are not a capitalist
    FRussell Brand is a capitalist. He owns the means of production.
    How can you say if the world is owned, all the real estate and sheltersm and you don’t own any, the owners of all the shelters are not depriving you of shelter> How come there are homeless people> Its not because there are no homes it because the homes are owned by Russell Brand and others of the proprietor class

    Russell Brand has tens of millions of dollars,.How is this stored? It is stored in instruments and assets. What are instruments and assets? He owns some of the water supply of Ghana,.He owns some of the phone satellites. He owns some office buildings and some energy and security firms. That is what capital is. It is control of the means of social reproduction,

  26. Molly Klein says:

    Things I own, for example, are not depriving anyone else of those things.

    I mean of course they are; that is what ownership is.
    TYou have five hundred dollars.
    Someone needs two dollars to eat something.
    Those five bundred dollars are in your pocket or in your bank account or held in some other asset
    That persdon who needs two of them can’t use them because they are your property. Your property is nbothing but your right to block others use
    Russel Brand has many mant millions of dollars in resources he won’t klet anyone else use,. He owns them. Other people need them but he encloses them as his property. In their various forms they are managed as capital – that is they are used to exploit labour so the store of assets will increase. Some of this capital gains is sought in simple bank depositsm some in speculation in real estate or art or other some is merely loaned to his government or ours in the form of treasury bills, Some he uses to more directly exploit labour in his industry. And he has a position that in exchange for his valuable persona he is cut in by even bigger capitalists on the fruits of their exploitation of labour in his industry – he gets large “fees” that represent significant portions of the expropriated wage labour involved in the enterprises he performs in.

    That’s what capital is. There is no form of harmless capital. No infinite resource – you can’t store capital as stars in the heavens. Capital is nothing but the enclosure of usevales. That is IT.

  27. Molly Klein says:

    ‘ Again, the forces of exploitation do not rely on individuals in that sense’

    All property in capital is retained by individuals. Even corporate property or foundations hold property for individual human owners at the end of the chain. Public property even is legally really the property of the citizenry though the treasuries of nations are the custodians, or sometimes a foundation.

    The limited liability corporation only protects the individual owners of the capital concerned from liability and debt, it does not compromise their individual property claims.

    And please I anticipate you are going to say I am blaming someone for having five hundred dollars because I state that people do. It is not Russell Brand’s fault that the world is as it is. It is not his fault he is man. Or speaks English. it is not his fault he is successful and owns a lot of capital. I am not interested in determining whether it is his fault, There are people who have as much capital as he who are in infants and in comas, certainly it isn;t their fault. But this doesn’t mean that I can use his property. I could like to use a couple million of his pounds in fact but I can’t. Because that is what property is. It is preventing me from using what belongs to others., The enclosure of the planet in property and the creatuion of a propertyless class with nothing to trade but their labour for the means of reproduction is the core of out arran gements

    This divides the world into the class of capitalists who own the world and everyone else with a layer of folks who have a little stake between

    Brand belongs to the class of capitalists who own the world, It is not his fault he does. It is not the Queens fault she is the Queen.

  28. Molly Klein says:

    ‘Now, that a lot of bad art is misogynist and racist is obvious.’

    But so is a lot of what most experts consider good art. Many people will say well just because something is misogynist and racist that doens’t make it bad art because art can’t be judged by whether its misogynist or racist. It is not art’s purpose to further human flourishing or justice, I don’t think there are many feminist critics except the extreme poststructuralist lacanians who would deny that Samuel Beckett’s work is flagrantly misogynist.

    “Its why adorno preferred beckett to brecht”

    Yes because Adorno was not someone particularly devoted to what I care about, He was more interested in what you care about, and he was dismissive of what I care about. Lukacs’ remark about ‘the grand hotel abyss’ I think very apt. But Adorno above all was attached to a certain elite German culture, self congratulatory in the Hegelian paradigm, that he had been expelled from in a traumatic way by Nazism, and his personal taste was all bound up with this ambivalence about this culture – a particular culture – to which he was bound and at the same time forced to take distance from and be suspicious of. Thus the dialectic of enlightenment where he raises a personal historical trauma (anti-Semitism arising at the heart of German bourgeois intellectual/aesthetic culture that was so much the proud production of assimilated German Jewish intellectuals and artists) to the level of a divine mechanical universal law (justice and rationality bound in dialectic with murderous madness). Most of these Frankfurt School refugees were in a state of horror to discover the class of people who produced what they considered the highest culture had produced Nazism and rejected them. They turned to Freud in a bad faith bid to shift the blame for Nazism from their own class to the working class, What Adorno sought in literature and theatre was the expression of this very particular type of anxiety and loathing of humanity that would explain Nazism in a way that accomplished this shift of blame and made it sort of inevitable. It was another instance of the prioritizing of ‘it’s not my fault’! Credit sought suddenly turned to blame requiring evasion, He might have claimed he preferred Beckett because Beckett was less propagandistic but I think we can see that he preferred the propaganda content of Beckett – and there certainly is content, anthropology, philosophy, in Beckett – to that of Brecht as well. The pessimism of especially Waiting for Godot on these specific points – the grotesque lampooning of the ‘march of history’, the ridicule of heroic solidarity, the posture of eternalizing and dehistoricizing as a ‘search for truth’ as if history were meaningless clutter, the erasure of history effectively and its replacement by a risible metaphoric figure- precisely matched his politics. I wouldn’t take assertions of indifference to content (message, worldview, meaning) at face value especially in a critic who is explicit about his hunch that Freud was correct about the levels of consciousness.

  29. john steppling says:

    Yeah, but you have this idea of capitalism as a zero sum game. Thats like the ben and jerry’s theory of capitalism. My five hundred dollars isnt depriving anyone of anything. There is plenty of food, plenty of shelters or the means to build them. We can argue all day, and Im not interested in doing so, about ‘is russell brand a propriator class exploiter’. But i do think you have a surprisingly one dimensional vision of capitalism….and I sort of know you well enough to know you know better. Capitalism needs poverty, and it creates it. It exploits people, But not because “I” have five hundred dollars. Thats idiotic. Sorry. But it is. As i say there are artifical shortages of food and shelter, artifical shortages of everything. Tons of food is destroyed every year. Even here in norway, tons of milk is poured down the drain every year. The problem is distribution. And the problem is people cant afford to buy corn or wheat or whatever ….. my five hundred dollars doesnt affect that. Nobody’s five hundred does. The system creates inequality.

    so its obvious that there is plenty of food. And you know the reasons people are starving. But I dont live in the Zambian economy. I live in the norwegian economy. I have to pay what the sellers here charge. This is all rather obvious. We can argue forever about Russell Brand…..but im sure you have five hundred dollars……and so you position yourself as someone depriving others of eating? You dont own the means of producing food, you dont own markets, you dont own trucks. And even those who own a small farm, or ten trucks, are not depriving anyone. They are enslaved to the same system that creates inequality. Recently as i said in the post, they passed laws to make it illegal to feed the poor.

    Money is controlled by governments. They can make more if they want. This is all sort of obvious. And look, even if someone owns twenty apartment buldings, they wont be allowed to give them away. Same as food. The system mandates inequality.

    stuart easterling
    ” “U.S. factory usage is at its lowest level in more than 20 years; hundreds of jetliners are mothballed and the rest fly more than a quarter empty; rising apartment vacancies are forcing landlords to cut rents; and unemployment is at an eight-year high. In short, too much supply is chasing too little demand.”34 The same pattern has been true in other countries: China, for example, in 1997 “manufacture[d] one million men’s shirts a day, joining the glut of 1.5 billion already stashed in warehouses. There [were] also 10 million unsold watches, 20 million extra bicycles, and 100,000 stockpiled autos and other vehicles.”

    Hence, under capitalism, there is a built-in tendency for production to outstrip the market. This isn’t too much production of what people need, but of what people can afford to buy.36 The system can “overproduce” clothes and wheat, yet people will still be cold and hungry because they cannot pay for them. According to Marx:

    “If the producers as such knew how much the consumers required, if they were to organize production, if they were to share it out amongst themselves, then the fluctuations of competition and its tendency to crisis would be impossible. Carry on production consciously as human beings–not as dispersed atoms without consciousness of your species–and you have overcome all these artificial and untenable antitheses. But as long as you continue to produce in the present unconscious, thoughtless manner, at the mercy of chance…crises will remain; and each successive crisis is bound to become more universal and therefore worse than the preceding one; is bound to impoverish a larger body of small capitalists, and to augment…the numbers of the class who live by labor alone.”

    so, sure, capital accumulation………but the problem is, you cant reform this, which you know. The system has to change. I dont deprive anyone of anything by collecting my wage. I just survive in a system based on the accumulation of misery. Hence the need for social change. System change. Revolution. Until then, blaming individuals …even millionaires….is pointless. It would be nice if all millionaires gave away their money to the poor…..but it wouldnt solve inequality. Not until the system changes.

  30. john steppling says:

    as for beckett’s misogyny. yeah, lets just disagree. Ive had this conversation with you for about seven years. Refer to earlier versions of it. I get you dont care. I get it. So i wonder why you debate it even?? Why? You dont care about it.

    feel free to write the manifesto about things you DO care about.

  31. Molly Klein says:

    You said most “of this work” is elitist. Im not sure what you mean, but if Im right, I would really argue that.

    Okay I should clarify. I mean the posture of the avant garde. Avant gardism. But then something like Jeff Koons disturbs an opposition between avant garde and academic or commerical or whatever,

    But if we are talking about the core of the avant garde, which is consciously politicizied posture I think it is elitist, I suppose in the post war era, a lot of apoliotical artists and movements seemed to be springing out from avant garde tradition (but of a contradictory idea)…AbEx is not avant garde in that sense, or is different from the avant garde in being apolitical, I know you will say it is political on another level but what I mean is it is not anticapitalist or antibourgeois and its practitioners were not claiming to be part of a revolution of everyday life. Nor were they trying to destroy Art to remake it as life. But they were elitist in another way, a much more individualist and liberal way. And this was very accessible to audiences and very popular finally. The other avant garde, situationists and the avant garde that eventually moved through ordeal art etc, but also took up cinema, were elitist in an ultra left way. They were very focused on a bourgeois establishment enemy they were perfoming at anf for. It’s very French I guess, the state and the establishment seem to enjoy such dignity and legitimacy. I don;’t say this stuff isn’t successful but it pitted an avant garde elite in a kind of duel with the establishment elite and everyone else was simply assumed ringside. DeBord was insightful about this

  32. John Steppling says:

    but i will add, for those new to these increasingly pointless repetitions………that critique of Beckett explains your almost provincial analysis of culture in general. Its depressing to me, because its so distorted that answering becomes fatiguing. I could dig into the archives on just this site and find THE EXACT SAME ARGUMENT . Literally. Literally !!! The same wording. Its like an automatic response mechanism. Ive written a good deal about Adorno….who now you dont value or care about either. I dont know honestly what you do care about except this one dimensional attack on art. You find no value in art. No value in culture. WHY then, and Ive asked this before, do you bother to read this blog because this blog is clearly about what you “dont care about”.

  33. John Steppling says:

    and just because a lot of feminists find beckett offensive, does not make that critique any more valid. Its the problem , really, directly linked in fact, to the leftist undialectical relationship with art. And its reactionary. Deeply reactionary. But Ive written all this already. Again., please refer to earlier answers on this blog. There are plenty of them.

  34. Molly Klein says:

    The avant garde’s elitism is also in its disdain for popular culture, which it plunders but mocks, and its confusion of popular with mass culture, with the rising cocaculture. A lot of avant garde work is producing the pleasure of discovering an ugly truth beneath a consoling myth; it deployed Freud as a instrument to indict humanity as precisely the vicious animal capitalist imperial mythology required and identified in us. It used Freud also as an instrument to displace petty bourgeois angst and isolation onto some eternal nature or transhistorical mythic core. A lot of it is preoccupied like Heidegger with things like ‘massification’ and a loathing of the crowd that seems to threaten the integrity and uniqueness of the bourgeois male individual. Of course all these aesthetic practices had many permutations but I think its mainly the flight from history and the body, and then in the pomo phase becomes the return of these as spectacle commodities. I think I could demonstrate the usefulness of these admittedly sweeping generalizations.

  35. Molly Klein says:

    ‘and just because a lot of feminists find beckett offensive, does not make that critique any more valid.

    I don’;t know that feminists necessarily find Beckett “offensive” because they find his work misogynistic. There are tons of Phds on Beckett’s misogyny; it seems feminists in theatre arts departments find it particularly interesting actually

    You’re just saying just because women feel Beckett is misogynist that doesn’t make his work misogynist because YOU ALONE CAN JUDGE EVERYTHING AND WOMEN CANT KNOW ANYTHING UNLESS YOU VALIDATE IT

    But we disagree,

  36. John Steppling says:

    “. Nor were they trying to destroy Art to remake it as life. But they were elitist in another way, a much more individualist and liberal way. And this was very accessible to audiences and very popular finally. The other avant garde, situationists and the avant garde that eventually moved through ordeal art etc, but also took up cinema, were elitist in an ultra left way. They were very focused on a bourgeois establishment enemy they were perfoming at anf for. It’s very French I guess, the state and the establishment seem to enjoy such dignity and legitimacy. I don;’t say this stuff isn’t successful but it pitted an avant garde elite in a kind of duel with the establishment elite and everyone else was simply assumed ringside. DeBord was insightful about this:

    art is not intended to be remade into life. What does that look like to you?

    but again, Im not sure I agree at all that any of these groups were elitist. This is the heart of my argument in fact. Debord was not quite saying this by the way, but then I often dont quite know what he was saying. In any event, the baseline for judgement is not to create socialist revolution. Other practices do that. Art operates in other ways, or maybe I should say culture in a sense. I think you find culture, the idea of culture, to be elitist. And thats fine, but Id hate to live in your world if revolution takes place. Its my great fear, a world of socialist realism. Now all great art is actually anti capitalist in one sense. But, again, you seem only able to discuss things in terms of stated messages. My point has always been that artworks do something that is very unlike any other human activity. Back to cave paintings, humans have engaged in some form of creation, either collectively or individually, and have created ritual spaces for this collective attention we now call an audience. Individual viewers or listeners of course existed, but I suspect they related to work as part of their social situation. And at the same time, as part of grasping their own psychic development, their own basic human trauma. Art is always related to society. You can re read this post and find my remarks on this. But, why do we always have art? Why do we tell stories and paint things? Why is there an aesthetic dimension to life…..always. Everywhere. Concentration camp inmates wrote poems they hid in electrical cords. Paleolithic painters covered these vast walls with images. Why? Maybe it was hunting class, I dont know. But I fail always to understand this hostility to a basic human need to express something about the world around us. Everyone does it, everyone always has. Children do it. If you have ever spent time with children, its a primary activity. Mimesis. Its how we make sense of experience. And the left is actually the pessimist here for so little valuing this basic human activity. And thats been my point this whole year of writing this blog. We live in an era of cultural atrophy, of cultural barbarism. You, like many on the left, want to lump Beckett in with Orange is the New Black. You call McCarthy a bad nazi. Who is the nihilist here? I mean now its Adorno who is only to be critiqued for his lack of purity in pursuit of YOUR idea of revolution. Its very prohibitive and sort of authoritarian. Its scolding everyone for their percieved lack. I often dislike the cliche of calling the left out for its demands for purity, but sadly its often very true.

    I hate capitalism. And all culture is engaged with the system its produced under. Thats obvious. Thats why its all so complex. But if the answer is, oh, in socialist paradise everyone would paint wonderful creative things……….well, i doubt that. And I would hope they learned how to paint first. I know leftists who will find that comment elitist. And sadly, this is the core issue I have with the left. I cant accept the idea of this hostility to aesthetics. I am sure the Chauvet cave painters worked at what they did. Its too skilled. It is drawn in perspective…..its remarkable, really. 38,000 thousand years ago people were bothering to learn how to draw well. Why?

    Art remade into life. Again, what does that look like?

  37. John Steppling says:

    come on now molly. I never said i was the sole judge of anything. I make my judgements. Others are entitled to make theirs. I dont agree beckett is misogynist…..notwithstanding the always trustworthy PhD “experts”.

  38. Molly Klein says:

    “My five hundred dollars isnt depriving anyone of anything. There is plenty of food, plenty of shelters or the means to build them. ”

    It is depriving others of your five hundred dollars.
    There is a finite number of dollars on earth and they are all distributed in chunks of private property.
    Five hundred dollars are just tokens for every other commodity,.
    It is zero sum of course.

    There is a finite species and there is finite stuff and its divided into private property

    There is plenty of food and shelters yes, There is plenty of water. There is plenty of telephone satellites. So. The problem is ownership of them – the power of the owners to prevent others from using them. Why do you have to pay a phone bill? Whom do you pay it to?

    You don’t pay a phone bill to god or the government. You are paying it to Russel Brand and his class. Because he owns everything including the telecom infrastructure. If he can;t prevent you from using it then use it and don’t pay. Even better, take it over and let everyone use it.

    Russel Brand and his class are the governments creditors. ‘The governments can ‘make more money” (only the US can’ and very recently actually enforce the validity of their currency by military might alone) but they can’t make more value – only labour creates value, They print more bills and this alters how much value is represented by each token; its not the production of infinite wealth and infinite claims on use values,

    The governments borrows Russell Brands’ money – that is, he stores his wealth in treasury notes – this is his portion of the expropriated labour of the working class, and then the governments tax the populace to pay interest to him on these loans. The governments mediate the relation between Brand as appropriator and the working class who is exploited, loaned back their surplus by their exploiter at interest which they have to raise by more wage slavery and which is then handed back again by treasury/parliaments as gifts to Russel Brand and his class in everything from bank bailouts to the running of courts and police,

    The police – whom do they serve? Not themselves. They serve Russel Brand and his class – the courts and police prevent me from appropriating all the money and stuff which are enclosed by Russel Brand and his class, I pay for the forces that he commands to prevent me from using his property,

    But itt’s not his fault! It’s nobody’s fault, We make our history in conditions inherited from the past yes, .

  39. PatrickL. says:

    “Paleolithic painters covered these vast walls with images. Why? Maybe it was hunting class, I dont know.”


  40. Molly Klein says:

    come on now molly. I never said i was the sole judge of anything.

    and the judgement of anyone who notices Beckett’s incredibly obvious misogyny was invalid

    the only people whocould fail to notice his misogyny are those who feel the same way about women

    ‘art is not intended to be remade into life. What does that look like to you?”

    I’m quoting what is usually considered the classic avant gardist position – that Art (bourgeois mysticism) be destroyed so art could be remade as everyday life>


    ‘We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the “tabula rasa”. At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.’


    “Only a continual and implacable creation and destruction will result in an anxious and pointless quest for object-things of transitory use, planting mines beneath the foundations of the Economy, destroying its values or impeding their formation; the ever-novel will destroy the boredom and anguish created by man’s slavery to the infernal machine, queen of the all-equivalent; the new possibility will create a new world of the total-diverse.

    Quantity and quality will be fused; the arising society of the luxury-standard will annihilate traditions.

    Proverbs will no longer have meaning.

    For example, the proverb, “He who leaves the old path for the new,” etc., will be replaced by, “The proverbs of the old starve the young to death.”

    A new, ravenous force of domination will push men toward an unimaginable epic poetry.

    Not even the habit of establishing time will be preserved.

    From now on, time will be merely an emotive value, a newly minted coin of shock, and will be based on the sudden changes arising in moments of creative life, and upon rare instants of boredom.

    Men without memories will be created; men in a continual violent ecstasy, forever starting at ground zero; a “critical ignorance” will come into being with extensive roots in the long prehistory of savage man, the magus of the caves.

    The new magic will have the more recent spice of the sparks of the conflagration of the library of Alexandria which was the synthesis of the neolithic revolution and which continues in our own times to burn the residue of the urban society of the Sumerians and the nomadism of the Phoenicians, flavoring like a narcotic incense the hopes of man.

    So great will be the artistic productions that machines will produce, compliantly bending to our wills, that we will not even be able to fix it in memory; machines will remember for us.

    Other machines will intervene to destroy, determining situations of non-value; there will be no more works of the art-champion, but open air ecstatic-artistic exchanges among the people.

    The world will be the stage and the by-play of a continuous representation; the new earth will transform itself into an immense Luna Park, creating new emotions and new passions.”

  41. Molly Klein says:

    ‘Other machines will intervene to destroy, determining situations of non-value; there will be no more works of the art-champion, but open air ecstatic-artistic exchanges among the people.’

    That’s the expression of what is as far as I know usually considered the principle non-fascist avant gard goal

    while the fascist and eventually liberal individualist avant garde is devoted to the elevation of the notions of masteripieces and individual genius to the point of refining art to the merest most airy act of claim and enclosure on the commons as artwork (Cage ‘s 4 33 is the purest probably of these works)

    these are similar things here – Cage 433 is enclosed and the dream of pinot galiizio’s industrial painting is a kind of commons with no author?artist superman and no property claim. But both are actually produced by these collective random groupings of people living “ordinary life’ – in the former attending a performance with all kinds of policing of property, in the latter like the Happenings an attempt to eradicate the police and property (upon which the Artist genius and his Art depends)

    neither of these are actually communistical practises or inspired by communist thinking. They are basically the positions in quarells among elites concieveing themselves as such

  42. John Steppling says:

    there is not a finite amount of money in the world. Thats patently not true. Governments print money when they feel like it. What is money based on after all? You seem to think this is all one big global village and everyone is involved in the same economy.

    We’re not. And so the ownership is the problem, yes. But the government isnt dependent on russell brand,. Or on me. They can call in a currency restructuring if they like. Its all a shell game anyway. Money via ernest mandel

    “In Marx’s explanation of the movement of the capitalist economy in its totality, the formula ceteris paribus is meaningless. Excessive (or insufficient) emission of paper money never occurs in a vacuum. It always occurs at a given stage of the business cycle, and in a given phase of the longer-term historical evolution of capitalism. It is thereby always combined with given ups and downs of the rate of profit, of productivity of labour, of output, of market conditions (overproduction or insufficient production). Only in connection with these other fluctuations can the effect of paper money ’inflation’ or ’deflation’ be judged, including the effect on the general price level. The key variables are in the field of production. The key synthetic resultant is in the field of profit. Price moments are generally epiphenomena as much as they are signals. To untwine the tangle, more is necessary than a simple analysis of the fluctuations of the quantity of money.”

    so you see, its not a zero sum game. And even this doesnt address the increasingly abstract nature of money. I suspect you know this but your trying to win an already defeated argument.

    but i agree the rich, the very rich….and that means often today, corporations in which vast amounts of “money” accumulate, own the rights to things like water and food. But thats got fuck all to do with my five hundred dollar paycheck.

    I take offense at the idiotic and childish, really childish claim that if someone thinks beckett is not a misogynist, they must feel the same way about women. Says who? I love how you suddenly appeal to the authority of PhDs. Like oh the experts must know the truth because they are credentialed.

    I am perfectly able to arrive at my own conclusions without this sophmoric attempt at guilt tripping me. I am misogynyst because i dont agree with these PhD critics about beckett? Really??

    your private little value system is not everyones. This is another trait of the left. The confidence in their beliefs, at the expense of actual compassion, or nuanced listening. Its all this one thing. All the time.

    ah yes these sorts of manifestos. I often have heard these notions of “open air ecstatic artistic exchanges among people”. That sort of description actually describes nothing., Marcuse said we have no idea what a non repressed society would like it. RD Laing suggested the same thing, and that in the end it might not look all that much different with key exceptions. One would like to dream of equality mostly. That everyone has access to what they want and need and work is shared. That we live in some Trobriand islander paradise free from want and aggression., But I think there is something very problematic about these fantasies, and while something closer to that seems not utterly impossible….I think its unlikely that such unique situations occur very often…..and about the abstractions of open air (why open air I wonder, always?) ecstatic orgies of pleasure….I dont know what that looks like.. I dont see humans as capable of that, whatever it is, even if they are radically unrepressed. Even if sex negativity were to dissapear. God knows it would be an improvement…….but im not sure it can ever quite work that way. And positing these things does great harm in the end to the ability to process what is going on in our current sad state. Hence the puritanism and the policing and the hectoring and the guilt tripping. And the hostility to culture on the left. They are in a sense the by product of a uptopian dream that is its own form of sentimentality. Its like kistch paradise. THis is about the place where I find Buddhism rather interesting. Until humans can see the illusion , the basic illusions of existence, that life is part of a dream continuum — then the false, the untruth of who we are is never going to go away. We are formed psychically by trauma. Can that change magically? And even if one doesnt believe that,one would have to accept the reality of a very long process for humans to shed their anxiety and fears. And those fears and dread are likely even more deeply embedded than we realize now.
    Not that one shouldnt imagine a better world. One should, and in fact that is part of what constitutes art. But I think if culture is to be an open air ecstatic orgy of whatever……then life might actually be diminished.

    having no property claim would tend toward what I wrote above……the cult of authorship is probably past its sell by date……but the idea that art depends upon property is the usual stance of those who are not artists themselves. I have always found it hard to talk to non artists for very long. Because there is some wall we hit. The wall where the creative impulse , or need, is opaque to them. But when you write…..

    ” They are basically the positions in quarells among elites concieveing themselves as such” Do explain what you mean.

    but you are laying off these visions on others. What is it you see as post capitalist …..what does it look like to you if property were gone? What does culture look like?

    I mean this has become our private conversation and I find that problematic at a certain point. And again I ask, if you think art is basically of little importance, and only a source of pleasure for the elites, then WHY are you reading me at all? Because i cant keep repeating the same answers year after year. We agree on a lot about what the corporate state produces, what the culture industry is in the business of reproducing over and over and over. About the racist and Imperialist value system that is in place. But we disagree dramatically about the value and importance of art. Hugely, we are absolutely opposed. I mean your position is what I have found in people like louis proyect, or Trots., And its depressing. Because its always about how everything is this one thing. What do you value in culture besides Bad news Bears? Or wait, you find it anything more than just enjoyable. Do you think any of it has importance? Does it awaken people, does it open ways of thinking, of living, or learning? Does art have any importance to you? And if the answer is amusement, or distraction, or if the answer is a simple “no”……..then why visit this site anymore?

  43. John Steppling says:

    do you feel guilty your five hundred is preventing someone else from eating? And if so, why not give it away?

    You are interested in political commentary on culture. Fine. But…… YOU think art has value beyond just the pleasures (we presume) of experiencing it? Is the experience of the artwork of any value?

  44. Molly Klein says:

    ‘ In any event, the baseline for judgement is not to create socialist revolution.’

    That;s not the baseline for your judgement, I am aware.
    It IS the baseline for mine. (Or at least something close to that) That’s simply a fact. You tell me I’m a thought criminal the poison player who is destroying civilization but I don’t care. That is always what anticommies anarchists liberals and libertarians say about communists.

    “You, like many on the left, want to lump Beckett in with Orange is the New Black. You call McCarthy a bad nazi. Who is the nihilist here?”

    Beckett and McCarthy rank among the most elite and respected producers of our incredible barbaric white supremacist culture

    They are not the favourite authors of the elites of any good society. They are the favourite authors of the elites of a depraved society.

    And while I wouldn’t rank them together with regard to sophistication – McCarthy is sensationalist and manipulative, Beckett is less so – there are some major things in common among these two – a shared pessimistic, disgusted, masculist anthropology that is suspicious of women and pleasure and virtually in denial about the sexual reproduction of the species. They share many postures with the Freikorps novelists studied by Theweleit. But I wouldn’t rank McCarthy at Beckett’s level of sophistication>

    McCarthy vends violent thrill gussied up with philosophical platitudes. He develops imagery and visions of humanity as horrific and terrifying, stirring in audiences fears and desires to see humanity controlled or exterminated. For the ruling class today he is the perfect writer on this rank, bestseller but taken seriously, Because they want to get his readers to consent to their violent cruel control and the extermination of swathes of humanity and, what do you know, they do. His work coheres perfectly with all the mass media’s mean world antihumanity horrorism and terrorism. He convinces people with his visions of worlds without capitalism where people are even more barbaric violent and scary than they are when motivated by profit.

    This appeals to people who feel it is truthful and that’s a serious problem in my view as I do not believe that our species is irrationally violent and in need of an elite to control us to keep all the men from becoming mad wolves to women and each other. These books wind people up and scare them mainly, they wind up infantilized people and make them fearful and anxious and disgusted and callous. The tv does much the same although because it can;t make money with only the fearful/hateful/disgusted white men it has to offer other affects and it ends up provoking and consoling, where as McCarthy mainly provokes tensions and then releases them in violent paroxysms without other consolation

  45. Molly Klein says:

    I am gnot laying off visions on others,. I am bringing forward quotations to establish what I refer to as “avant gard”

    “What is it you see as post capitalist …..what does it look like to you if property were gone? What does culture look like?”

    Well it looks like the lifestyle of the ipper middle classes in the prosperous countries but with less work, less disposable garbage, more self determination and no sevritude

    I am not a prophet. I am not prediucting the future.
    What does culture look like next year>? you don’t know n o matter what happens politically
    We haven’t bliterated what we inherited from previous modes of production, We still read Dante and visit Notre Dame. Nobody except the avant garde ever wanted to actually bnlow that up and use Mona Lisa as toilet paper
    so most of the cultural artifacts are the same
    nobody i know would want to destroy every copy and the master of all the movies every made
    so we’d have the same library of movies as we have now
    what kind of movies would people make without private property in the means of production?
    i dont knwo what do you think they will make in ten years even if the properties classes remain as they are?
    i mean unlike the avant garde i wouldn’t expect people to stop taking films of their children or writing love stories

  46. Molly Klein says:

    the soviet cinema system wasn’t profit oriented; we can see differences
    the kinds of stuff that got RAI/SACIS funding was distinct from the for profit US studio stuff
    as people still write novels about feudal worlds no doubt poeople would still make movies about robbing banks
    but they’d be different
    who knows how
    is not knowing exact;y whaty movies will be like in the future some reason we need to keep the relations of property as they are now? Is it some reason to insist qwe politely not notice how all these products are used in tbhe reproduction of the social relations that are so intolerable for so many people and increasingle even for us in the rich countries?

  47. Molly Klein says:

    A lot of classic era Bollywood movies I am learning we made by communists and have red sensibilities. They are very sumptuous, they are narratively pretty conservative I guess, they are not aiming to disquiet people or epater le bourgeoisie ..pepople love them. People love telenovelas many of which have kind of red sensibilities. People loved Dickens and Dumas. Much truly popular culture is pretty communistic and pretty democratic in sensibilty. We can see what ruling class sensibility does by comnparing big studio projectsm especially the blockbusters today to the popoular culture which is often its underlying material

  48. Molly Klein says:

    ‘there is not a finite amount of money in the world. Thats patently not true. Governments print money when they feel like it’

    of course there is a finite amount of money
    more importantly there is finite value.
    governments dont print money at all. banks create money, they can’t “print more money “when they feel like it.”
    Central Banks in capitalist countries are private institutions not arms of goverment. The Federal Reserve is a private concern owned by rich capitalists with a contractual relation to lend to the US government; it is not a branch opf government

    money in circulation is created by debt – by banks.

    money in circulation is created by lending – banks have deposits but when they lend they don;t deduct from whats in your checking account. there’s a formula. A mortgage puts that amount of money in circulation, Money is electronic mostly, No bills in this process are “printed’

    Currency printing is not at will

    the US is close to having the might to manipulate its currency a lot but no other country enjoys that power.

    Of course the number of physical bills in circulation would be finite even if there was just a press that could be run at will. there are physical limits. But that’s not what currency is.

  49. John Steppling says:

    right, so this conversation is just going in circles. But thanks for answering. The baseline for you is socialist revolution…….thats, as you just said, the baseline for evaluating art.

    and what you will then get, and validate, is almost certainly bad art. Propagandistic and structurally crude….the better to get across the message. Like advertisements. Because the message is all important when one is using this criteria.

    and you dismiss white male writers, it seems to me , because they are white and male.

    Your descriptions of beckett and McCarthy are almost…I dont know…..soviet like. Its Stalinist and the search for socialist realism. And incidently, this critique is one you share with the Nazis.

    From the Degenerate Art catelogue ….courtesy of National Socialism:

    ” “reveal the philosophical, political, racial and moral goals and intentions behind this movement, and the driving forces of corruption which follow them”.

    and from hitler himself….” “works of art which cannot be understood in themselves but need some pretentious instruction book to justify their existence will never again find their way to the German people”

    Socialist Realism was realistic, accessable to everyday people (workers), It demanded a communistic feeling and message. Sound familiar?

    “. It demands of the artist the truthful, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development. Moreover, the truthfulness and historical concreteness of the artistic representation of reality must be linked with the task of ideological transformation and education of workers in the spirit of socialism”.

    —Page 148, On Socialist Realism” by Andrei Sinyavsky writing as Abram Tertz,

    Hitler saw modern art as, this is a quote, ‘an aesthetic violence’ against the german people. So when you write about McCarthy, as helping , collaborating with the Imperialist state to further their consent for their policies of extermination. … it sounds oddly similar.

    See? This is the vulgar and unsophisticated criticism of the propagandist and its nothing if not intolerant. It digests complex work in a one dimensional way. As do all totalitarian states and their critics. You tell us this work is not complex…..its actually just “gussied up”…..full of “philosophical platitudes”. This is the anti intellectualism of the authoritarian.

    And for the nazis the attack was only against “elite art”, or high art. Popular entertainments were fine. But fine art, elite art, had to be criticized….for degeneracy. You use the word nihilistic. The fact that McCarthy’s novels are doing nothing of this sort, is clearly beside the point. You read all things without a communist or socialist message as bad.

    Id quote Adorno on beckett, but you would only point out how unimportant Adorno was, how he was trapped in his ideological prison because of the trauma of immigration. But the point is that this is not even art criticism. Its political sloganeering. Its prescriptive demands….much as liberals practice when doing period drama now. It must show a rewritten history the better not to be depressing by showing the real horrors. This feels the same. And individualism….a question of individuals, is condemned. Oh we must have communistic feelings. If you depict violence you are aiding the state.If you show violence against women, you are demonstrating approval for male misogyny. So everything is lumped into one basket. Some writing and film that depicts violence IS state propaganda, and i speak about it all the time. But some isnt. And if you fail to distinguish this, you end up with a blanket policing of thought. This is also the voice of the University trained critic today. The leftist voice of academia. Those PhD’s you admire so much.And its anti culture and really, in strange ways, its anti intellectual. Its intolerant.

    And beckett and McCarthy are well respected, by all strata, but certainly by elites. But so are rachel kushner and Zadie Smith, and Jon safran foer….and etc. The fact that you can approve of tom stoppard for example, but not beckett speaks volumes in this discussion. But since you will not examine the notion , or cannot examine the notion that message is not the real meaning or import of narrative, this is a hopeless discussion.

  50. John Steppling says:

    and no there is not finite amounts of money or value. Im schocked you think this.

    governments regulate value for fuck sake. THey manipulate interest, and they do in fact practice currency restructuring. And they print new notes according to their own invented set of criteria….GNP, debt, foreign bank demands, interest, inflation, etc. And zimbabwe did very recently print millions of new notes. They dont even know how many. Nigeria just went into restructuring currency. Its not finite. Its changing all the time. But nothing bores me as much as talking about money. And if it were finite then population increases would be troubling.,..everyone would be getting less…….but
    i cant believe Im even having this conversation.

  51. Molly Klein says:

    I;m going to reply after I eat something I am a little punchy

    meanwhile just want to share this

  52. John Steppling says:

    terrific …..thanks. I mean, see, this is that sense I get, when Pinter in that video reads that first part of the ending of The Unnamable. That joke, that “there are three possibilities”.

    Twain said the true nature of humor lies in sorrow and not joy.

    Beckett isnt angry, I reject that idea. He is miserable. And I think his misery is of a modern sort….bourgeois sure, but existential. And he writes of hateful miserable petty misogynistic and deluded people. And of despair. And of hopelessness. I think that is the great thing, for I think we live in an era of hopelessness for so many. The message I received as a boy was, ‘dont try, the game is fixed,’. My father was a deeply pessimisstic man. Concerned with his own failures. But i think the poor all struggle with a landscape in which there is so little hope. So\ little opportunity. That is the landscape of Beckett.

  53. Molly Klein says:

    “The baseline for you is socialist revolution…….thats, as you just said, the baseline for evaluating art.”


    I think at this point everything has to be evaluated this way and prioritized this way. I’m ready to judge all my betters, Morally and politically as well as aesthetically,

    “and what you will then get, and validate, is almost certainly bad art. ”

    Why is furthering socialism bad? What could ;possibly be more important?

    I get this comment on Beckett very profoundly – the consolation of something like Beckett. It’s appealing because it does respond to a need, But that it is a pleasurable or satisfying response doesn’t mean its the best response or an adequate response or the only response. Much less does it means it is a response beyond comprehension or a divine response, This engages me but doesn’t move me this way exactly – I am especially put off by the disgust for female bodies and what seems to be to be the strong suggestion that this pessimistic reductive posture toward life and humanity is “truth” rather than the grandiosity and neurosis of a bourgeois white European man, more specicially an Ascendancy protestant, (very specifically a Protestant Irishman who is very specifically reproducing imperial protestant visions of Irish humanity in contrast to his own, disguised in abstractions and stripped of identifying markers.)

    He’s miserable; es, He’s overcome with revulsion and despair. Revulsion that he should be mortal like everyone else. It’s seems absurd and unjust. He’s miserable in an interesting way but I think it would remain kind of trivial (that is it would only be a consolation for others feeling similarly miserable) unless we are permitted to understand how his misery precisely is produced and reproduced as this artwork, in this form, that is, not just a mesasga of truth, just divine gospel information as Badiou would have it, but the expression of a particular historical condition that has a politics, a particular anthropology and set of priorities and interests. I find the worst thing is that this work, which is immensely popular with the empire’;s elite intellectuals, has often really convinced people or enforced the already existing conviction that it is truthful and a kind of clarity and wisdom to view humanity from this despairing disgusted distance as this kind of squirming nervy jelly with actually no culture or attachments or self and other provisioning capacities.I think the habit of transforming humanity in imagination this way is ultimately an ideological requisite of exterminationism and unlimited exploitation, Further this contradicts in one way but coheres in a reactionary scary fashy way with the reverence for Beckett precisely as distinct from the object staged, precisely as producer of culture, meaning, institutions, rationality, form, history, Bourgeois Status, who is to be held above the visions of humanity that are the objects constructed by the piece, with its horror effects, Beckett as cultural process then is doing this: constructing two hierarchized orders of human being. On the one hand the vile squirming ephermeral irrational trivial babbling nameless unfamous propertyless uneducated insigificant blobs of twitching flesh who are passive and without will “spoken by” fragmented language and on the other the property owning dressed celebrity Beckett the Artist, rational wise meaningful dignified Master of Language who transcends the mortality and swampy disgustingness in which others wallow and is a demigod to be worshpped for reveling this truth of other people’s vileness. This is replicating the dominant ideology of the era: there are the human resources the useless eaters the masses on the one hand, hungering and confused, and there is the Master Race of Individual Intellectual Creators who observe them, who have self consciousness, who form culture to their will, who are geniuses who cannot be judged by spastic chattering trivial slugs that make up the lower orders. Of course the plays marshall this disquiet that Beckett is signalling that deep down below what he is he is similar to this vile other, but everything is also presented to underscore the contrast and solidify it.

    It is an impulse common to white bourgeois intellectuals in this era to invite others to regard humanity in this way – not so different to Nietzsche imagining how humanity would appear to the Supermen – in order to dehumanize the propertyless and gain assistance in the disposal of them, to bomb them from the air and gas them, to starve them with deliberate famines, to distinguish them from the enlightenment white male subjects who deserve respect and posses rights like The Artist. These perceptions of humanity do not arise with Beckett – he did not originate them but picked them up. But Beckett is one of the most powerful bourgeois culture producers to offer this invitation. It is surely interesting, ut it is not enlightening if we are barred from or forbidden to understand it, and judge it, then it is just serving the same ends as Nietzsche, just producing the hierarchy of humanity and enforcing a master status for the bourgeois authors. If we are obliged by some aesthetician’s dogma to merely take it as a message from the divine about the true nature of humanity, then we end up with a very reactionary authoritarian process. But this is not necessary; nobody can enforce the protection of Beckett from interpretation.

    I feel as free as possible to engage with this intellectually and e,otionally and morally and politically – to think about it to not pretend ignorance of its context and conditions, and to comprehend it historically. I don’t assume Beckett shared my aims and worldview and feelings. I am not looking for a mirror of my own conscipousness in thsi work, I accept that I will disagree with it – what i do n ot underdstand is why you insist on the consumer obligerating their own beliefs and feeling sin order ot be reprogrammed by this work and to accept it as a total im,plant into one;’s cosnciousness. The rule that One Cannot Reject Beckett does not say anything good for the project> I don;’t recognize anybody;s right to forbid an engagement that is not subsmissive and slavish and can even be hostile. I think those kinds pf prohibitions exhibit the totalitarian impulse you attribute to what you seem to see as the slave revolt of art consukers or uppitiness before the master artist in any kind of attempt to understand a work rather than simply obey the dictates of its creator unquestioningly.

  54. Molly Klein says:

    “nd for the nazis the attack was only against “elite art”, or high art. Popular entertainments were fine. But fine art, elite art, had to be criticized….for degeneracy. You use the word nihilistic.’

    I didn’t use the word nihilistic,. You used it. I find it too ambiguous. I would advocate a certain nihilism,

    Nazis posed as rejecting that art but they actually stole it all except for a few things burnt for show. For one thing they liked and it for another it was capital, How much of the ;’degenerate art; ended up in the hands of Nazi party members and collaborators only became clear in the 80s. Lots and lots and lots, But yes I have yet to steal burn any art of jail any artist,. When I do you can compare me to Nazis.

    e. And individualism….a question of individuals, is condemned.”

    No its only individualism as a mytholgy and an erroneous perception that I object to, I think individuals should be cherished and valued, All of them almost not just the celebrities and the white men, . I object to the elite individualism by which I mean the mythology to disguise how the appropriator class takes credit for the creation of what they have merely stolen from all the individuals of the productive classes over whom they have power,. This myth of the self sufficient artist which is another aspect of the jyth of or the self sufficient europe that Sheri Berman advances. There is a world system and a global division of labour and there is nothing outside it.

    “Oh we must have communistic feelings.”
    Not at all, I am not telling you to have communistic feelings. You can have any feelings you want. You are the one objecting to my communistic feelings and thoughts and trying to insist I change them

    What’s wrong with communistic feelings anyway?

    And honestly.
    If art sucks please let us blame the artists and nobody else
    I am not going to take the blame for other people’s shitty work. My socialist commitments are not interfering with anybody doing their art.
    they are Heroic Individuals aren’t they?
    have they no responsibility even for themselves?
    I think these artists who can’t go on and do their thing because I don’t applaud them should grow spines
    what else can I say? It’s not my responsibility to lavish approval on Cormac McCarthy. He doesn’t do anything but offend me.

    ” If you depict violence you are aiding the state.If you show violence against women, you are demonstrating approval for male misogyny”

    Well in the existing genres of audiovisual entertainments this is true. TRailing against it is like saying oh if you just slip a long piece of sharp metal into someone’s ear and slice up their brain you are killing them. That’s so unfair! Even if I do it affectionately!

    Yes you are. I mean the solipsism of some postures is kind of infantile; like this idea that the artist is so potent that there can be no restraints on his will, There is a material world that is not simply made and remade at the will of the white male, that is not simply the realization of his imagination.

    The world is not intelligently designed for his pleasure.

    Yes there is no way for white people to use the n word in a not racist way., too bad! or drink drano and feel fine. there is no way, there is no way for white people to be a superior race. tough luck! some things are impossible, And some things that are not structly impossible are beyond the powers of most individuals

    And making ,huge colorful simulations of violence against women for for profit enterprises that do not reproduce misogyny and makle supremacy is one of those things

    its tough luck for those who want to do that make money doing it and say ‘nothing is my fault!’ all the time. That is the tough luck is not that they can’t do it – they can – ot they can’t make money doing it – they do – but they can’t get every single person they meet or don’t meet on this planet to agree that it is virtuous and nothing is ever their fault, Poor things,. such hardships,

  55. John Steppling says:

    “I get this comment on Beckett very profoundly – the consolation of something like Beckett. It’s appealing because it does respond to a need, But that it is a pleasurable or satisfying response doesn’t mean its the best response or an adequate response or the only response. Much less does it means it is a response beyond comprehension or a divine response, This engages me but doesn’t move me this way exactly – I am especially put off by the disgust for female bodies and what seems to be to be the strong suggestion that this pessimistic reductive posture toward life and humanity is “truth” rather than the grandiosity and neurosis of a bourgeois white European man, more specicially an Ascendancy protestant, (very specifically a Protestant Irishman who is very specifically reproducing imperial protestant visions of Irish humanity in contrast to his own, disguised in abstractions and stripped of identifying markers.)”

    its only the grandiosity of white MEN, not white women>? Its not something experienced by other races? I simply dont buy this., But again AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN, you have no real experience of art. Yes, you prefer bad art if its what you deem proper propaganda. And this is because you have no real grasp of art. You dont experience it as art… Ive tried to describe….and as Adorno wrote of it, and god knows, countless others. Or you do and you pretend not to.

    Godard here…

    In one sense, I am #2., and you are #1..though not completly, and Im sure you would argue this somewhat…, but the thing is, when you try to diminish Beckett by suggesting its nothing but a specific protestant Irish MAN….etc….per above. You are trying to diminish his work, because you cannot really experience it I dont think. . Its a blind spot, its a willfull sort of refusal to submit to art. Ive noted this before. I have no problem with Agit Prop and propaganda ….but thats not art. They are different things, and they work differently on human consciousness. But look, if thats all you get out of it, then thats all you get out of it. But I wonder at the hostility of those who say they get more out of it? Im fine with you not liking beckett. I dont care. But we are talking about the experience of art per se, really. YOu find it mildly interesting because you have something like zero grasp of poetics it seems. Or you pretend not to.. To you, this is just writing. Same as dental brochures. Its all very condescending. Its patronizing and sort of snide. Oh its mildly amusing, this sort of revulsion…..oh so boring this irish protestant. ..etc etc. This is why I continue to point out your hostility. I think is reductive, and i think its sort of excluding the idea of form and poetics. But I find marxists of a certain strain, to police themselves as much as they police others.

    The thing is when you ask what could more important,… are asking the wrong and a loaded question. The question is how does one get there? By bad art? By producing one dimensional leftist jingoism…..or by encouraging human potential and growth by awakening people’s vision and dreams and broadening their compassion…….which by the way beckett does…….not by turning people into Stalinists. Or trotskyists. But look….I am all for the revolution. I just dont think its 1917 anymore. And i dont you get there, that way.

    “” what i do n ot underdstand is why you insist on the consumer obligerating their own beliefs and feeling sin order ot be reprogrammed by this work and to accept it as a total im,plant into one;’s cosnciousness. The rule that One Cannot Reject Beckett does not say anything good for the project>””

    Oh stop it, Find me one place ONE place where I ever suggested you are obligated to agree? I am only trying to demonstrate what I consider a one dimensional and sort of hostile reading of literature. And art in general. And culture. Because , I think, you see it somehow as not furthering the revolution. ANd yet……….what do you see that DOES further this revolution? I mean art and culture change society. Thats seems obvious to me. And the erosion of culture makes it easier for the simplistic messagers of fascism. But what activity do you engage in that is more directly furthering this socialist revolution of sorts?

    but you seem to lack the voice of praise. You love to say, oh, Im so empowered that i refuse to bow down before white male masters. Which I didnt hear anyone ask you to do. But what do you LOVE in art. Does anything move you? Or is it all just a stage toward this revolution you imagine. I dont hear you get enthusiastic about art much.

    i compared your *criticism* to nazi critisim, not you. Dont twist things.

    and it is! Thats largely the problem. Its unimportant if the nazis believed their criticims and stole art……..the point is what they SAID.

    Molly, you have to have this conversation in good faith. I did not say anything about objecting to any of your feelings. Stop personalizing this, because what I said, was a response to YOUR saying , several times, that you approved of these ‘communistic feelings’, You like narrative that includes that message.

    “Well in the existing genres of audiovisual entertainments this is true. TRailing against it is like saying oh if you just slip a long piece of sharp metal into someone’s ear and slice up their brain you are killing them”

    yes, and I write about existing genres of racist reactionary corporate kistch studio junk all the time. Almost all the time. But , I am trying to point out that not ALL such , what you call “entertainments” have the same meaning. Is Shakespearean violence the same as Tarantino? Is Hemingway or Flannery O connor? Or highsmith or chandler the same as Stallone?

    Was Pasolini’s Salo…very violent…..the same as Speilberg’s violence?

    but why are you desperately trying to attribute to me some idea that I represent white surpremacy? And if you believe that, why the fuck are you reading this blog? Its like suggesting Im misogynist. Again, why suggest that?> Because i dont believe beckett is misogynist?? Thats not misogny. I have another intrepretation. But see, maybe its you who is expressing an intolerance. that if I dont agree beckett is misognyst, then I must be.

    ” There is a material world that is not simply made and remade at the will of the white male, that is not simply the realization of his imagination.

    The world is not intelligently designed for his pleasure.”

    now I trust anyone reading this thread will grasp that this is the classic molly klein argument technique. Change the topic. Attribute to your interlocotur positions he never expressed. I defy you, I DEFY you right now to quote me EVER as saying anything even close to thiis. This is entirely you talking to yourlself to distract from the subject at hand.

  56. John Steppling says:

    I should add, when I say you seem unable to experience art, its just that you see no value in it. In bothering with it. I dont want to sound as if you are unable to, its just you dont care to. You see no value in idealistic or metaphysical or spiritual perspectives on the artwork.

  57. John Steppling says:

    you see no value in making that effort. I think its basically an oppositional position, because I think its not important to you. Im guessing. Clearly, I respect your intelligence, and we’ve had this debate for years now. And its always about the same place, the same moment, the same spot in the discourse. Is art dialectical, autonomous and transcendent. Or it is material, and dialectical only in narrow terms (not that you would see them as narrow) and valuable only by imparting messages, and feelings. Appoved ones if communistic,…– but I feel often that sub text is even suspect.

  58. John Steppling says:

    and anticipating your response. When I say beckett does this…..create awakening and broadening of vision……….i want to make clear….this is what great art, or culture does. I cant define that, but I think one can write about and discuss what cultural works have importance…..and how and why. And it resides in form, not in message. And no, its not easy to define , its complex and often illusive. But not the less real for that.

    Do you think ONLY men respond to Beckett? Only white men?

    Because its not true. I think there are countless women and people of color, or of different class that respond to beckett. How does one explain that actually?

  59. Molly Klein says:

    its only the grandiosity of white MEN, not white women>?

    In this case I meant a specific man, who is constructing a male posture in contrast to the female objects. I mean these specific themes and visions of Beckett which are common in modernism and are fully formed first by Sade I would guessm and of which I guess there must be some individual female producers who also working in the vein but which is gendered, as described kind of schematically but usefully by that essay I sent you, Although the comic tones of Beckett and the sheer sensual luxury of the prose ornament and alter it, the basics of the novels and the great pieces is a kind of substractive vision, a conception and staging of human beings without culture, production and history, as what Beckett is suggesting is ‘the bare minimum” and I can’t help think of Marx describing the worker “Irishing himself” meaning survive on almost nothing,

    Now we tend to simply accept the notion that this is ‘vbare minimum’ – that this is the basics, the foundations, therefore the true core nature of humanity, humanity stripped of superfluities like societies. This is technically individualism – we see Individuals as vulnerable bodies without resources in no definite relations to one another, without bonds except the flimsiest accident and companionship arising from inertia preventing parting. We tend to accept the modernist (and white male aristocratic or elite) posture that THIS is HUMANITY in its natural state, stripped then of the luxuries provided by elites,

    It is this that is the propagandistic element of this sort of work, which we find in literature and theatre anbd philosophy gaining popularity from the 18th century forward. Because it is false obviously – the production of starving isolated tramps is actually elaborate and costly. This has nothing to do with a state of nature. Sade needs the whole aristocracy and his castle and servants to “reduce” people to these states cut off from social relations bonds and the commons. It is actually “maximum” of social development and social power that results in these kinds of creatures; the virtuvian man is not Humanity, solitary confinement and nAuschwitz are not the state of nature human beings relapse into as the Caretake Elite or Divine abdicates.

    One of the ideological deceptions such work carries off, because it is so vivid and convincing one scarecely questions these “though experiments”, is the denial or repression of the sexual reproduction of the species. And here we get the profound misogyny – where woman is entailing death; there is a sense of injustice to the Individual Adult Man who is Humanity that he should have begin in a womb and end in the earth because his nature as part of a species and as a material process is repressed and resulting in this disgust and revulsion for the female, loathing for the female and attribtuon to her of a worthless language that is signified and desginated as worthless when it is her speech (Not I, say, or Winnie’s chatter) and yet when these same words are considered as the work of a Great Male Artist Samuel Beckett Nobelist and Celebrity, they are transformed into timeless monuments of profundity. The plays are processes which produce these contrasts. And always what is de nied or repressed here is the truth of production and expropriation – the truth that culture and relations and clothes and architecture and food cultivation and art are not superfluous to humanity and that depicting beings stripped of these things is not discovering a truth about human nature but fantasisizing a truth that appeals to elites who wish to use other human beings as resources – these states require work to create, people have to be isolated by force bonds rent by force starved by force kept off private property by force and this requires advanced complex social order and resource control, This may be the most important of the myths that this kind of dissident product purveys – the myth of fundamental human parasitism, that human beings are lost and naked and starving without their elites to care for them, that their language is nonsense and mere anxious cover for the fear of death until it is enclosed and branded by a bourgeois proprietor celebrity,

    So this is what I mean by the visions in Beckett issuing from that posture of the grandiosity of the bourgeois European male. From this point of view the “truth” of humanity is a horror and the horror and lowliness of it is associated with woman (as body and death) while the male is associated with the striving nonetheless for transcendence of this ridiculous and horrifying predicament (and vaunted success, for the art displays itself as Art, the zenith of culture and timeless, and the artist as its master). But for me this vision cannot enforce itself because I feel free to read this critically, to reject its postures and engage with it from my own pov. It is just as enjoyable no doubt to me to engage this work as the elaboration of invalid anthropology (among other things) as it is for others who sympathise more with its perspective or are persuaded

    more shortly>>>

  60. Molly Klein says:

    The thing is when you ask what could more important,… are asking the wrong and a loaded question. The question is how does one get there? By bad art? By producing one dimensional leftist jingoism…..or by encouraging human potential and growth by awakening people’s vision and dreams and broadening their compassion…….which by the way beckett does…….not by turning people into Stalinists. Or trotskyists. But look….I am all for the revolution. I just dont think its 1917 anymore. And i dont you get there, that way.

    But you say:
    “right, so this conversation is just going in circles. But thanks for answering. The baseline for you is socialist revolution…….thats, as you just said, the baseline for evaluating art.

    and what you will then get, and validate, is almost certainly bad art. ”

    You seem to be saying only bad art serves socialism, because if I am evaluating art by how well it serves socialism I must inescapably prefer bad art

    So yes I would prefer bad art. Or what you consider bad art. Because you are saying that good art I will dislike because it doesn’t serve the struggle for socialism

    then you turn around and say good art actually serves the struggle for socialism best.

    you’re just being affronted on behalf of art and saying a) nobody has a right to judge art politically and b) art is pure virtue so it must be politically most constructive but no lowly non artist human being has any right to judge it by any criteria but those consented to by its authors no matter how monstrous their own stated purposes, even to genocidal racist violence,

    But tis idea of inculcating compassion…is this how it works? An artist exhibits his compassion and we learn by his example? I’m not convinced. The spectacle we participate in involves an artist produciing pathetic figures, a certain simulation of human being constructed for pathos, and engaging in a relation with the audience of shared objectification, where the audience is conscious of both the pathetic figures and the compassionate not pathetic artist masters of ceremonies…is it obviously just a lesson in compassion assuming audiences need to be shown how to compassionate by being given something like dolls to show compassion for, dolls in very great need of compassion and nothing else? If this is a kind of experience of simulated compassion it’s not very clear how this would effect social life beyond the theatre. For me Beckett;s plays and novels provoke compassion for certain conception of humanity but also contempt, and disgust and horror, and, to a lesser degree than the right wing practitioners of the same genre but not insignificantly, fear. I think if we want to incorporate our art consumption into our socialist project, Beckett has to be engaged as an adversary and interlocutor not a master, mentor, priest or annunciating angel. The seduction of those novels involves both the vividness given the signalled experience and a decided distance from them where the reader is invited to dwell in the pleasure of prose as a superrefined product of bourgeois art even though it is also constituting the crude ephemeral registration of sensation and emotion of less wise less masterful lesser-in-every-way (in comparison to author and audience) beings

  61. Molly Klein says:

    “By bad art? By producing one dimensional leftist jingoism”

    The idea that everything I like is one dimensional leftist jingoism seems insensitive to art actually. I mean it strikes me as positively philistine. And odd since we like a lot of the same things, including your own work.

    And I don;t have any problem with actual leftist propaganda; I think it is very important. I can’t understand the perspective that says the current situation is urgent the planet is being destroyed the empire is rampaging and fascism is consolidating its power in the imperial core but I am an internal enemy a sentimental reactionary complicit with torturers a scumbag because I think an openly political documentary like Central Park Five or a novel about someone other than violent white men ecstatically being violent – a novel like More or Beloved or Almanac of the Dead – is preferable and more important than another spectacle of white supremacist self pity racist fear mongering woman loathing violence porn from the learned helplessness entertainment industry by Ridley Scott. I can;t understand the reaction that says no you have to watch every second of yet another white man white man white man vioelnce violence violence and you have no right to judge it politically. This ugly violent commodity centering elite white men yet again pitched to encourage white white men in their fears and loathing is somehow part of the solution. It’s so familiar, its part of a genre, it’s obvious from the trailer what it is and why the owners of the world are making it and disseminating it.

    I am not trying to stop anyone from watychng or enjoying that I am just refusing to agree that it is a) above criticism and b)not only harmless but furthering a socialist project c) just objectively better than ant number of good lefty melodramas

  62. Molly Klein says:

    And yes about this great art
    if you consider propaganda as pernicious as Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation great art
    and since these things convince and assist people to use gypsy kids for medical experiments and lynch black people
    i would say I wouldnt have any problem if the artists were shot by the victims of their great art and the great art was burnt. I would not object to it being called great art but I would hope that wouldnt be brought forward as a defense of those white supremacist criminals who made it or of the white supremacist project these works are part of or of the objects themselves. I would just accept that great art is often a real evil and violence and should be destroyed.

    And I do think it is difficult to declare something that is constructed to further racist violence and succeeds Great Art and then either really stuck to one’s convictions opposed to white supremacist violence or hold that great art is either apolitical or politically benevolent.

    There is so much undisputed Great Art that has been crucial to the subjugation of women and centuries of violence that I can’t accept this position, Either you are saying this violence is desirable and good or you are saying these great artworks that promote and justify and incite it are somehow innocent of their own purposes and effects. I am thinking of say the Oresteia, the Eumenides in which Athena arrives and declares Orestes innocent of crime in killing his mother because a mother is only the soil in which Orestes who is fully formed in the seed of his father is planted to grow, This was very influential. It turned upside what had before then been the obvious belief – that women created children. It is odious, It is Great Art and it is a crime against humanity at the same time. Lots of art is similarly criminal and violent.

    “Do you think ONLY men respond to Beckett? Only white men?”

    No but I think this main theme of the “bare truth of the human” and the female as the earth and death is the dominant ideology – going back to Euripides and furhter the Bible etc – and people have different positions toward it that probably do line up a lot on these kinds of lines that the works at once deploy meaningfully and avert the gaze from – gender and imperialism. Unfortunately Great Art does acculturate and the truth is many women have also been brought by the dominant culture to these same views of maleness as mind and femaleness as flesh etc, and of course there is a class perspective that is activated by Beckett’s work as I said contrasting audience and author to the mud-dwelling unemployed propertyless socially isolated figures staged or depicted. Beckett is one of the most written about authors of all time and glancing at the critical bibliography we can see lots of feminist writing that loves Beckett but reads it very differently than you do (the lacanian feminists Cixous, Irigaray), but then again a lot of the most circulated writing about the misogyny is by men (those interpretations of Beckett as Swiftian are mostly by men). Beckett’s influence is mostly on white male authors also and in the case of women playwrights influenced I think I can say there is a certain distinctive adaptation and alteration, that is a rehistoricism or a restoration of the erased markers (for example if one were to ask what has Naomi Wallace done with Beckett;s influence on her, she has drawn from those plays but given context that Beckett’s entire project depends on lacking, so she is influenced by adversarial).

  63. Molly Klein says:

    influenced but adversarial that should say

    so in conclusion about Beckett I would say, unsurprisingly, it is a both a monument of civilization and of barbarism and I tried to be specific about exactly how it is the one and exactly how the other as well

    “I should add, when I say you seem unable to experience art, its just that you see no value in it.”

    Well I suppose there is something that I am not experiencing that you do experience because I often don’t know what you refer to as that something more that mysterious unnameable thing, that’s useless and valueless and at the same time valuable and useful, It seems like a kind of religious or spiritual experience for you and no, I don’t experience that

    However I think I experience art differently and perhaps “more” in certain ways than someone who gets launched in a spiritual experience by art; that is, I feel when I engage with art I am involved emotionally, sensually and intellectually, and not alone and individual btu socially. I don ‘t feel passive watching plays, looking at paintings or reading novels (though with some music I do) and from what I can tell your experience of art does involve a surrender and passivity. It is one of thing things perhaps that makes me generally dislike movies – they enforce passivity. You have to consume them as they are programmed to be consumed. They are authoritarian formally, That is why when I want to analyze a film I watch it in fragments and out of order first. I resist being processed by the machine of a movie in order to see it critically. I guess this would also prevent whatever spiritual event could occur in my interaction with a movie but I have seen plenty of films in the theatre and canjot say anything very inexplicable or ineffable ever befell me. I feel manipulated but notice it. But the form if takes control of you and you lose capacity to judge because your body is being stimulated so intensely and your senses and attention are managed by the apparatus, I think people have a lot of pseudo spiritual experiences from movies just as they have provoked in them the sensation or falling or spinning or flying or love.

    I love some odious things, things that are odious politically, like Baroness Orczy, Jane Austen, Samuel Richardson, but part of the pleasure is in the resisting the ideology

  64. Molly Klein says:

    wht do you think of this

  65. john steppling says:

    here’s the thing, and Im sort of wrapping this up because I want to write another post…..which i hope entails of lot this discussion, so perhaps it can continue next posting….because i think its a useful discussion.

    but….here’s the thing, as i was saying., and that is that what you describe is not what i see. I mean its a smart intelligent discussion of something that I dont recognize as Beckett. But that raises a whole host of other questions. Let me try to touch on them briefly.

    I dont recall saying “THIS IS HUMANITY”. I dont think adorno or eagleton or anyone Ive read is saying this. So its sort of a strawman. But isnt all art in a sense saying this… a partial form? I mean again Im fascinated with why people create. Why have they always done so? Im not saying great art is not political. Read that Godard link. He raises relevant questions. And makes relevant points. I think all great art contains a political dimension, but i simply see what i consider a more dialectical reading of it. I m not as absolute as you are about this stuff. Things, artworks, can contain many meanings. But i have always felt….back to when i was still a teenager, that the left is approaching art wrongly. I cant say it in any other way than I have this entire year. You have a clear agenda…..and i think thats good. I do. I think it serves as a corrective to a kind of hagiography and revisionist history of culture. But it also is reductive and does a disservice to the qualities that are contained in the experience of the artwork.

    And i reject Beckett as misogynist. I simply dont see it. And i think you are, like many with agendas, sort of isolate certain things, and then think prescriptively about them.

    Breaking Bad is misogynist. Its quite clear. Its impossible to arrive at another reading of that long narrative. I see nothing of this sort in Beckett, and to insist on his misogyny requires this very elaborate and not very convincing analysis of his work. But sure…..look, he was a man, and he was white. He was writing as a man. I mean this is going to entail certain points of view, its going to entail a privileging, to some degree, of a male subject. Thats not bad. Its only what it is. And women writers are privileging the point of view of women. And on and on. There is nothing that I see in his work suggesting women are death. His characters utter such things on occasion. But thats different. But we’ve been through all this already.

    And it always returns to how and WHY one interprets narratives. That is the key. One is either going to submit to the mimetic or resist it. And often that resistence is couched in critical condemnation. Now often, often, very often, that is more important. In Breaking Bad, for example, there really is nothing mimetically to engage with. And this raises another question I want to write about and that is the interrupted narrative. Which is corporate product — shows stop, they are never constructed , really, with any idea where they end….they are just stuck in this repetition of the same. And audiences have come to expect these stoppages and interruptions. But in Beckett, since we are using him, there is the writing…..the poetics…what you describe as mere ornamentation. This is hardly just ornamentation, and it is in this exact place that our debate takes shape.

    Let me add, I dont see human parasites in beckett. This is just bizarre frankly. Its an egregious misreading.

    I dont think triumph of the will or birth of a nation is great art.

    never have said that.

    and sure, lots of “great art” has been racist and Imperialist and anti semitic etc. Sure, i write about it a lot. But we just disagree about which is what.

    “Well I suppose there is something that I am not experiencing that you do experience because I often don’t know what you refer to as that something more that mysterious unnameable thing, that’s useless and valueless and at the same time valuable and useful, It seems like a kind of religious or spiritual experience for you and no, I don’t experience that”

    well, ok, but you are dismissive of this as some new age fraud. You see nothing spiritual or transcendent in art. The depth of narrative art is dismissed as ornamentation. And yeah, all i can say, is Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory remains the best analysis of art’s autonomy and what that means. And Girad and Taussig, and Benjamin all write about mimesis. Which brings the discussion back to why people create art at all. But they do. They have always done it, back to the Chauvet Caves, and in all societies since. Now….I suspect there is a deeper reason than just social critique going on. The desire of the mimetic is a very deep aspect of humans and their relationship to the world around them. This can be seen in children. And while political analysis of the sort you demand is good, it is not everything. If it were, there would be no need for art, we could just write essays.

    as for movies being passive. Thats partly true. Theatre is anti passive. But….but there are still films that demand active engagement. But as a medium, there are problematic aspects to it, no question. And I think Pasolini and Fassbinder and others were well aware of the passivity (and more, of the inherent authoritarian aspect of film).

    its interesting this idea of resisting the ideology. How does one determine the ideology ahead of time?

    naomi wallace is…..I dont know…….overtly political, and probably a good example of what Im speaking about. Not a surprise you mention her.

    But your analysis of greek tragedy is again, a very superficial reading. Not dumb, and its interesting and worth discussing, but its a very surface interpretation of the narrative. Ive written about this so i wont go into it again. And greek tragedy is hard to write about anyway, but I think I will stick with jan kott if I had to pick one critic on the topic. Tragedy is a loose term, but if we take the greeks, there are themes in there that require a more indepth investigation that what you wrote above….but im sure you would agree with that.

  66. john steppling says:

    as for the Gawker article. I have to read it more carefully. But I remember Cahier du Cinema for a brief time refused to write negative reviews. I get it. There is a problem in this culture with developing a vocabulary for praise. The problem is…….this is the society of consensus. Of agreement, while at the same time being the society of snark. I think snark hides its agreement. And agreement, consensus, hides it snark. Just as laughter now masks it inherent agreession so snark seems to mask its anti intellectualism and on the other side, consensus masks its approval of infantialism.

    I will read it more. But being critical is important, its all in HOW you are critical. Snark is not criticism. Its snark. Its snide and patronizing and intellectual sniping. Its not critical. Criticism is ….in its ideal state, a form of the deepest respect I think. So one cannot condemn the negative critique. That is just so reactionary. I hate this term “hater”. Anything critical and one is suddenly a hater. Its a form of authoritrarain denying of someone’s viewpoint. Its part of this culture of “commands”. Of orders. At the same time, there is this tendency, in groups certainly, for agreement. It goes together. Dont be a hater. But this putting down of snark is a way of enforcing aggreement. So again, snark is not really critical. Not really criticism.

  67. john steppling says:

    having read the Gawker again, I think its actually pretty good.


    ” Sympathy begets sympathy, to the benefit of things that don’t deserve to be sympathized with. The ascendent forms of cultural power depend on the esteem of others, on the traffic driven by Facebook, on the nihilistic embrace of being liked and shared. ”

    that’s right. Agreement. Its like the smiley face lynch mob.

    The desire for a nicer “tone”….right, the better to mask the ruthlessness. The delivery system needs improvement…….its this problem I return to a lot about ‘sentimentality;….because it is directly linked to this false aggreement….false sympathy. This society is allergic to sincerity, in politics and in art, both. Sincerity is harder to read and feel confidence about, but the cynical and snide is very easy and more easily applied to all situations. But make it nice snide. This culture absolutely encourages a kind of bathos, or kitsch compassion. Real compassion requires sincerity. And sincerity is impossible for a lot of people to even identify in themselves.

    Sincerity is also bad marketing.

    Kierkegaard said, we never know when we are being sincere. Well, yeah, mostly, but today this is even more true.

  68. Molly Klein says:

    “Let me add, I dont see human parasites in beckett. This is just bizarre frankly. ”

    Let me just clarify this one:

    The oeuvre pictures living beings with no origin and no means of reproduction. It’s a conceit. It’s offered as a mere convenience to the art project, its signficance is forcefully denied, but it is repeated throughout the oeuvre and it is the subject of a kind of obstinate denial – nobody would ever be permitted to stage a Beckett where this erasure was violated in the slightest degree. The erasure is core dramaturgy.

    That is one of the things being staged – the absence of material reproduction, The chattering and silent suffering beings are just there like mushrooms. In cans. On the road. In a mound of dirt. The context is refused very aggressively – one cannot ask how did these chattering things get here or where did their shoes handbag or pistol come from one knows one is asking an inappropriate question, The plays conception insists that is trivial – it is producing that as trivia and erasing it for abstractions’ sake to facilitate repression. What is being staged is a fanciful vision of human life and a consciousness occurring magically, as a terrible joke; what is repressed is sexual and social reproduction. But it is erased in a way that insists its just base and insigificant, sort of ironically the staging of the chatter as meaningless chatter, not worth interpreting, elevates that meaningless chatter to a level of significance (especially in the plays where the apparatus producing this No Context is the context and very visible and elaborate including famous texts under copyright, paying tickets, electricity, social and overtly bourgeois conventions of theatre including agreement to silent attentiveness etc) in contrast to the erased reality, the reality that is really considered just kind of rubbish, styrofoam peanuts in which this chatter is packed. The process of isolation of propertioes of human life is a process of construction that is presented as a process of deconstuction. The reduction of human life to these fragments is an elaborate affair disguised as the consequence of inaction…blamelessness in general is in a sense what is being staged: the ‘its not my fault” of bourgeois individualism. Like making whisky is removing removing removing – the process that used in 18th century English to be called ‘sophistication’ that is to alter substances knowldegeably and scientifically, including distillation — these plays are refining from kind of raw social human material – conversation, argument, – certain qualities but in such a way as to disguise the origin materials and to despise them. So when I say the figures are staged as parasitic I mean they are present and presented as blobs of needs with no way to satisfy them.

  69. Molly Klein says:

    “naomi wallace is…..I dont know…….overtly political, and probably a good example of what Im speaking about”

    So you are saying that’s bad art? Is there something more to your judgements here than that Beckett’s politics jibe with your own, and his anthropology harmonizes with yours, and hers doesn’t? Beckett is surely as overtly political as Wallace, it’s just they advance very different politics,

  70. john steppling says:

    oh do stop. the naomi wallace remark was a joke. Wallace isnt bad because she is overtly political. Heiner Muller is overtly political and very good. Handke is not so overt, and even better. You know I was once listed as one of america’s ten best political playwrights. I felt odd that this was the NYtimes, and i wondered at how that happened. It sort of validates that the term political can be stretched in various ways. id say most substantial art is political.

    As for parasites. This is just you doing exactly what you accuse me of doint with Wallace. You sort of see, no organic reproduction. And look, thats just one way to view these representations. There are countless. So its not universally agreed upon. But you always write as if it is. But even if it were accepted take on Beckett…….there is nor necessity to then attribute some judgement to force the play to “mean” what you want it to mean. … these conclusions. …and it is at this point, AGAIN, that i feel you reach levels of absurdity. With due respect. The text is of so little consequence, you call it chatter. Same as McCarthy is a bad nazi. I mean…..geez, But lets be clear. Silence isnt bourgeois, convention or otherwise. People were silent in church, at rituals, for a long time. There is a good deal of debate about the audience at Attic tragedy, and we sort of know Elizabethans were noisey to some degree…..but silent attentivness preceeds bourgeoise europe. And Indian and japanese culture are always silent. Silence has always been equated with respect I think, and with the devotional. Im not sure what part buying tickets plays. Im not sure any of us, who are playwrights, ever escape that. Does it affect the interpretation of my text? Yeah, i dont know. I hope not.
    You buy everything under capital.

    as for asking for rational explanations…where did the handbag come from. THAT is a bourgeois convention. That is europe and the enlightenment. And most modern playwrights have worked to escape that…..from Ionesco to Arabal to Genet to Pinter even, and even to some almost pre modern theatre writers. One cant read beckett without also knowing Artaud is around, and without accepting this is an Irish text. I get that text and poetics are not your concern. But its pretty hard to be convincing about Beckett if this is the only analysis per ‘parasites’…..because then , as I keep repeating, there isnt much you are going to like. And per the Gawker…..this becomes a form of leftist snobbery in a way. Oh i hate everything, its soooooooooooooo bougie.

    I hope this can be left there, i have to work on the new posting.

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