“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Marx and his darling


Marx is an altogether slippery subject for biography; the reason lies with the biographers. On the subject of Marx, libidinal investment is always just below the surface. Do you want a demon? Fritz Raddatz’s supposed “political biography” of Marx, written during the Cold War, is a hit job by a ‘leftist’ who has been blinded – in the midst of the 1970s – by the brilliant truths of Bakunin. Politics, in other words, as an infantile disorder, which made Raddatz a tool for the Springer media types. He went on to pathographies of Heine, etc. Of the biographies I have picked up so far, I’d recommend Jerome Siegel’s for its judiciousness. Wheen has written a popular biography which makes good points as well. So often, as in the case of Raddatz, one feels like one is reading a flea with rabies – the manic biting into poor dead Karl’s hide is an itchy business.

Of course, the other, hagiographic tendency was its own curse – censoring letters, providing infinite defense lawyer explanations for Marx, and never, ever putting him in historical context – thus pressing him into the stamp album of “heroes” and thus tossing out the window everything he’d ever written about the historical method.

That method, of course, would ask about the material determinants and opportunities within which Marx lived.

One of my favorite essayists, James Buchan, whose book on money, Frozen Desire, is written with a range and a style I absolutely love, falls down on the job, alas, when it comes to Marx. He has the intuition that Marx’s life and Baudelaire’s should be seen together – with which I heartily agree – but then fails to understand both Marx’s life of exile and agitation and – what is worse for the book – Marx’s theory of money. Worse, from his description, one would think that Marx was a humorless and tragic figure – and so one would be, to say the least, surprised that Capital is, among other things, a very funny book – at least the first volume. The humor of political economists is usually as thin and dry as port at the high table, but Marx, with his Goethean culture, is continually surprising the reader with this or that reference or connection.

There’s a much commented upon love letter – a lovely love letter, called, by one of Marx’s cold war commentators, Frank Manuel, with his narc’s vulgate, a “bombastic” love letter – unlike the sweet modest ones that were presumably being penned by the leaders of the Free World at the time - that Marx wrote his wife Jenny from Manchester in 1856. Jenny was in Trier at the time, and Marx evidently missed her – he begins it with the tone he so often takes in letters, of the complaint: “… it annoys me to converse with you all the time in my head without you knowing or hearing or being able to answer me.” Thomas Kemple, in his book on the Grundrisse, Reading Marx writing, puts this letter in relation to Marx’s writing at the time – and one does overhear, even in those common words, a note that is sounded in the Grundrisse and in Capital concerning commodities – they run through our head all the time, and yet they never speak to us. As Kemple points out, the letter, which is an outpouring of love to Jenny mediated through Marx looking at her photograph, is very much about the power of fetishes. This isn’t a Freudian reading – it is a Marxian one. For Marx is teasing himself as well as his wife in this letter: [My translation]



“Bad as your portrait is, it gives me the best service and I now understand how even “the black Madonna”, the most disgraceful [schimpfiertesten] portraits of the mother of God, can find indestructible admirers, and even more admirers than the good portraits. In any case none of these black Madonna pictures have been more kissed, ogled and adored then Your photograph, which really isn’t black, but sour, and completely fails to mirror your sweet, kissable ‘dolce’ face. But I improve the sun’s rays, that have painted falsely, and find that my eyes, as much as they are decayed by lamplight and tobacco smoke, can still paint, not only in dreams, but also waking. I have you bodily before me and I carry you in my hands and I kiss you from head to foot and I fall before you on my knees and I moan out, “Madame, I love you.” And I love you in fact, more than the Moor of Venice ever loved. False and foul the false and foul world mistakes all characters. Who of my many detractors and snake tongued enemies have charged me with the fact that I am called upon to play a staring lover’s role in a second class theater? And yet it is true. Had those rogues the wit, they would have painted the “relations of production and trade” on one side, and me at your feet on the other. Look to this picture and to that. [in English] – they would have captioned it. But dumb rogues they are, and dumb they remain, in seculum seculorum.

Momentary absence is good, for in the present things look too like in order to be distinguished [ in der Gegenwart sehn sich die Dinge zu gleich, um sie zu unterscheiden.] Even towers appear dwarflike up close, while upclose the small and everyday grow too big. Thus it is with passions. Small habits, that through the nearness through which they adhere to the body, take on passionate forms, disappear, as soon as the immediate presence of the eye is withdrawn. Great passions, which through the nearness of their objects assume the form of small habits, grow and take their natural measure once again through the magical effect of distance.”

To be continued

10 comments:

northanger said...

Though it is impossible to cross the borders and totally emerge with the other, the very conceiving of such a possibility enables one to look with the other human beings into the abyss that lies between them, and to feel together the dizziness accruing from a joint looking. (The Bi-Sexuality of Daniel Defoe)

whose subject is eroticism at white heat (the blind moment when eroticism attains its ultimate intensity) (Bataille)

roger said...

North, so where is this bi-sexuality of Daniel Defoe coming from? And is that joint look into the abyss really Moll Flander's response to the prisoner's dilemma of her station and sex - or perhaps that is too confusing ... what I mean is, a story of her guilt, premised on her basic innocence?

northanger said...

blind meat, uncircumcised penis. or, justice isn't always blind so what does it mean for the Law when it is circumcised vs uncircumcised? and what does any of this have to do with Capital?

btw, you might like this

roger said...

Huh. Isn't the Indianapolis football team named the Ravens? Or no, I looked it up, Baltimore. I wonder if they know about this property of the bird.

But in my humble opinion as an amateur of anatomy and the possessor of a circumsized penis, you can do what you want to the male member but it will never see. Although, admittedly, sometimes it tricks you into thinking that it can see. Never trust those moments!

northanger said...

NHF 2059 = THERE IS ONE OBJECTION INDEED TO FRENCH DANCING, WHICH I MUST NOT PASS BY BECAUSE IT NEARLY CONCERNS MY SEX, OF WHICH I SHALL ALWAYS PROFESS MYSELF THE ADVOCATE AND GUARDIAN, - AND THAT IS THE SALIQUE LAW, BY WHICH ALL FEMALES ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE INHERITANCE OF THE THRONE = BADIOU SAYS THAT THERE ARE TRUTHS IN SCIENCE, IN POLITICS, IN LOVE AND IN ART. FOUR IS THE PLATONIST NUMBER OF HIS PLURALISM. AND IF THERE ARE NO RELIGIOUS TRUTHS, THIS IS WITHOUT DOUBT BECAUSE RELIGIOUS FIDELITY ITSELF DOES NOT SUPPORT THE PLURAL, BY THE VERY DEFINITION OF ITS "MONOTHEISM" = IN THE SECTION WHICH FOLLOWS, WHOSE SUBJECT IS EROTICISM AT WHITE HEAT (THE BLIND MOMENT WHEN EROTICISM ATTAINS ITS ULTIMATE INTENSITY), I SHALL CONSIDER SYSTEMATICALLY THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THOSE TWO IRRECONCILABLES ALREADY MENTIONED, TABOO AND TRANSGRESSION.

NHF 1995 = THOUGH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CROSS THE BORDERS AND TOTALLY EMERGE WITH THE OTHER, THE VERY CONCEIVING OF SUCH A POSSIBILITY ENABLES ONE TO LOOK WITH THE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS INTO THE ABYSS THAT LIES BETWEEN THEM, AND TO FEEL TOGETHER THE DIZZINESS ACCRUING FROM A JOINT LOOKING (The Bi-Sexuality of Daniel Defoe) = BY THREE AND BY THREE AND BY THREE HATH HE MADE FIRM THE FOUNDATION AGAINST THE EARTHQUAKE THAT IS THREE. FOR IN THE NUMBER NINE IS THE CHANGEFULNESS OF THE NUMBERS BROUGHT TO NAUGHT. FOR WITH WHATSOEVER NUMBER THOU WILT COVER IT, IT APPEARETH UNCHANGED = NEW IPR 0030: VISIBLE HYDRAZINE LEAK DETECTED ON A BOSS FITTING ASSOCIATED WITH THE GSE (GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT) SIDE OF THE 'ORANGE' FILL QD (QUICK DISCONNECT) FEEDING THE RH (RIGHT HAND) ROCK SIDE. THE SYSTEM WAS VENTED AND TEST TEAM CONCURRENCE WAS GIVEN TO RE-TORQUE THE FITTING.

NHF 3534 = THOUGH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CROSS THE BORDERS AND TOTALLY EMERGE WITH THE OTHER, THE VERY CONCEIVING OF SUCH A POSSIBILITY ENABLES ONE TO LOOK WITH THE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS INTO THE ABYSS THAT LIES BETWEEN THEM, AND TO FEEL TOGETHER THE DIZZINESS ACCRUING FROM A JOINT LOOKING. THIS TO BATAILLE IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT AROUSES SEXUAL EXCITEMENT, WHAT CREATES SEXUAL RIPPLES AND SHUDDERS THAT TRANSFORM PLAIN 'ANIMAL SEXUALITY' INTO EROTICISM, WITH ITS HEIGHTENED MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL POWER ({215} The Bi-Sexuality of Daniel Defoe) = IF WE TAKE OUR CUE FROM THE HIEROGLYPHIC MONAD OF JOHN DEE, WHERE THE ZODIAC IS DIVIDED BETWEEN ARIES AND TAURUS, THE LINE BETWEEN THE UPPER AND LOWER CRESCENTS OF ARIES AND TAURUS FORMS A PERFECT CROSS OF RIGHT ANGLES WITH THE LINE BETWEEN THE LEFT AND RIGHT CRESCENTS OF CANCER AND LEO. THIS CROSS ON THE ZODIAC MAY HAVE BEEN DEE'S HIDDEN MESSAGE, CONCEALED IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE MONAD SYMBOL. IT IS THE STRUCTURE OF THE HEAVENLY THRONE AND THE COSMIC CLOCK, DESCRIBED BELOW (26-Mar-2005).

NHF 135 = BEHAVIORS OF DIZZINESS = THE BLIND MOMENT = THE CALLS OF ENOCH = THE FAIRY'S WAND.

NHF 184 = ADVISER TO QUEEN ELIZABETH = CARRIED A STEP FURTHER (The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi) = PRE-EJACULATORY FLUID = SCHOOL OF CHESS THOUGHT (hypermodernism • Richard Réti; {12} Book of Thoth) = THAT'S A BEAUTIFUL LINK (A harlot high and low · Thursday, January 07, 2010) = THE WORKS OF NIZAMI GANJAVI = UNAMBIGUOUSLY DERIVED (CGS) = YOUR NUMBERS ADD UP (07-Apr-2005).

northanger said...

NHF 1072 = O LORD, OUR GOD, ARISE, SCATTER HER ENEMIES, AND MAKE THEM FALL. CONFOUND THEIR POLITICS, FRUSTRATE THEIR KNAVISH TRICKS, ON THEE OUR HOPES WE FIX, GOD SAVE US ALL = MIMOSA TENUIFLORA, WHICH IS BEST KNOWN FOR ITS USE IN SHAMANIC AYAHUASCA BREWS DUE TO THE PSYCHEDELIC DRUG DMT FOUND IN ITS ROOT BARK = MORE SPECIFIC FORMS OF FELLATIO ALSO ACQUIRED NAMES: FELLATING AN UNCIRCUMCISED PENIS, FOR EXAMPLE, CAME TO BE KNOWN IN THE 1990S AS CURING THE BLIND = THE PUBLICATION OF JULIE MEISAMI'S MEDIEVAL PERSIAN COURT POETRY IN THE LATE 1980S SUBSTANTIALLY ADVANCED THE INTERPRETIVE STUDY OF NIZAMI'S POETRY = THE THIRTEENTH 'BAK'TUN" WILL BE FINISHED (ON) FOUR AJAW, THE THIRD OF UNIIW (K'ANK'IN). ? WILL OCCUR. (IT WILL BE) THE DESCENT(??) OF THE NINE SUPPORT? GOD(S) TO THE ? = THERE WAS A MAIDEN THAT STRAYED AMONG THE CORN, AND SIGHED; THEN GREW A NEW BIRTH, A NARCISSUS, AND THEREIN SHE FORGOT HER SIGHING AND HER LONELINESS.

NHF 90 = 13 BAKTUNS = A BLIND PIECE = BLIND MEAT = KERMES VERMILIO = NIZAMI GANJAVI = OOGE BALTOH = TZADDI = UNSEEN CHESS.

NHF 485 = BLIND MOMENT WHEN EROTICISM ATTAINS ITS ULTIMATE [INTEGRITY] = BUT THE PEASANTS HAD AN AFTERLIFE, TO THE SURPRISE OF THE BUILDERS = INSIDE THE RACE TO STOP THE COLLAPSE OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM.

NHF 207 = THE BI-SEXUALITY OF DANIEL DEFOE = 1 MINUTE, 7 SECOND MYSTERY = ABRAHAM SMASHING THE IDOLS = BULBOURETHRAL GLANDS = CULTURAL EFFLORESCENCE = EARTH AND CLIMATE SCIENCE = ESSENTIAL TO ANY PERFECTION = LOVECRAFTIAN NAME-ANOMALIES = USUS+FRUCTUS+ABUSUS.

NHF 469 = THE LOVER'S TONGUE: A MERRY ROMP THROUGH THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE AND SEX = CAN THE WINGS OF THE WINDS UNDERSTAND YOUR VOICES OF WONDER? = LIBER AL II:76. 4 6 3 8 A B K 2 4 A L G M O R 3 Y X 24 89 R P S T O V A L = THE BEST OF OURSELVES DEDICATED TO THIS OR THAT TRUTH, FIDELITY.

NHF 891 = 1. LIL · 2. ARN · 3. ZOM · 4. PAZ · 5. LAT · 6. MAZ · 7. DEO · 8. ZID · 9. ZIP · 10. ZAX · 11. ICH · 12. LOE · 13. ZIM · 14. VTA · 15. OXO · 16. LEA · 17. TAN · 18. ZEN · 19. POP · 20. CHR · 21. ASP · 22. LIN · 23. TOR · 24. NIA · 25. VTI · 26. DES · 27. ZAA · 28. BAG · 29. RII · 30. TEX = DEMONSTRATES A BROAD RANGE OF KEY TECHNOLOGIES, INCLUDING IN-SITU RESOURCE UTILIZATION AND ADVANCED IN-SPACE PROPULSION = PRESSURE SPIKES OF THIS NATURE HAVE BEEN OBSERVED IN THE PAST, BUT THIS SPIKE IS THE LARGEST SEEN DURING THE SPACE SHUTTLE = SO YOD (IN HEBREW: THE HAND), IS THE OPPOSITE OF ALEPH, ITS PARTNER PLAYING AGAINST IT THE GAME WITHOUT WHICH NOTHING WOULD BE = THIS SIGN IS NOT, HOWEVER, WIDELY USED IN MODERN IDEOGRAPHY EXCEPT AS AN ELECTRICAL SIGN FOR A SPECIFIC TYPE OF ELECTRIC MOTOR (SYMBOL 29:6) = WE HAVE TO COMPLETE MARX'S WORK, A PROCESS THAT BEGINS BOTH WITH WHAT HE WROTE AND ALSO WITH WHAT HE LEFT UNFINISHED.

NHF 691 = EROTICISM AT WHITE HEAT (THE BLIND MOMENT WHEN EROTICISM ATTAINS ITS ULTIMATE INTENSITY) = CAN I GO FORWARD WHEN MY HEART IS HERE? / TURN BACK, DULL EARTH, AND FIND THY CENTRE OUT.

NHF 628 = I FORM THE LIGHT, AND CREATE DARKNESS: I MAKE PEACE, AND CREATE EVIL: I THE LORD DO ALL THESE - ISAIAH 45:7 = IN THE ENOCHIAN TRANSCRIPTS, IT IS EMPHASIZED BY THE ANGELS THAT GOD EXISTS OUTSIDE OF TIME = IT IS THEREFORE POINTLESS TO CONTINUE WITH CONVERSATIONS CENTERED ON THE CONVENTIONAL (Who Are These Economists, Anyway?) = ONCE I'VE GOT THE HOUSE UP AND AM SETTLED, YOU'LL COME DOWN, AND I'LL SHOW YOU ORION UP CLOSE = THE SYMBOL CONSISTS OF THREE DOTS PLACED IN AN UPRIGHT TRIANGLE AND IS READ THEREFORE ∴ = TO MAKE THE BLIND SEE MEANT TO PERFORM FELLATIO ON AN UNCIRCUMCISED PENIS (A BLIND PIECE).

northanger said...

NHF 891 = PRESSURE SPIKES OF THIS NATURE HAVE BEEN OBSERVED IN THE PAST, BUT THIS SPIKE IS THE LARGEST SEEN DURING THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM (STS-54; 1 minute, 7 second mystery)

roger said...

North - that's good! I was going to say that you are casting allusions with that 1 minute 7 second mystery, but then you provided the link.

northanger said...

the program of record never casts deliberate allusions!

northanger said...

actually, first googled blind fellatio (#7): Fellatio, masochism, politics and love, Leo Abse

This to Bataille is essentially what arouses sexual excitement, what creates sexual ripples and shudders that transform plain 'animal sexuality' into eroticism, with its heightened mental and spiritual power. ~ quote from Ruth Stein, also appears in Defoe (also by Abse).

Abse continues (don't think this is a quote): How mean and grudging prevailing sexual behaviour appears, imbued as it so often is with rote habits and fellatio, when matched against the transcendent possibilities of what Bataille described as 'an eroticism at white heat' which is 'the blind moment when eroticism attains its ultimate integrity'.