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Showing posts from January 9, 2011

Marx and the two removes

Last year, I did a rather hasty reading of the chapter on circulation work in Capital, Chapter six. In thinking about homo economicus, I’ve returned to chapters five through seven and thought more seriously about Marx’s analysis – his counter-magic - here. For Marx, in writing these chapters, is taking aim at an idea that took root in Mill and has now blossomed, abundantly, in every apology for the insane incomes of CEOs that one finds strewn across the pages of the mainstream economists today. Marx, in one of those dense/light passages in which he specialized (in which the heavy machinery of his concepts seems, at the same time, to be making the moves like Fred Astaire showboating), wrote, in Chapter 5: The circulation time [Umlaufszeit – orbital time] of Capital thus puts limits overall on its production time, and thus its valorization process. And actually it puts these limits on the latter in relation to its own duration. [-R:that is, the duration of circulation time] This can va

the interstices

In a letter to a friend that serves as the preface to Francois Laye’s French translation of Book of Disquiet, Pessoa writes that “life bothers me almost noiselessly, in little sips, by the interstices.” Pessoa’s heteronym, Bernardo Soares, whose reflexions constitute the Book of Disquiet, is, like Pessoa, a clerk and a poet. I’ve already broached the juxtaposition of commerce and poetry in my previous post. The literature of the clerk is created in the interstices of the system of world trade. The Daoist element in modernism consists in looking, with a poet’s consciousness, upon the clerk’s routine. ‘I know very well that the day when I am named the chief accountant of the firm Vasques and Company will be one of the great days of my existence. I know it with a bitter and ironic anticipation, but also with that intellectual advantage of a certitude.” In contrast to this note of the deepest resignation – the resignation of Kierkegaard’s Knight of Faith, whose life is consciously

I prefer not to

I was talking with A. last night about what I call clerk literature – or wastepaper basket literature. I hope she likes this post. There is a lineage that goes from Lichtenberg’s Scribble book through Lamb, Baudelaire’s Fusées, Rozanov, Pessoa, and – supremely – Kafka, whose request to Brod to burn his papers was, as it were, a request from this history itself, over and above Kafka’s personality. The principle holding this literature together was enunciated by Bartleby – I prefer not to. This is, in the universe of the clerk, equivalent to Lucifer’s non serviam – it ties together the two elements of the scribble and the institution. If we can speak of an institutional consciousness, it is always a consciousness of the system. Jack Goody, in The Domestication of the Savage Mind, notices the importance of the list in all early writing that has been found in the Mesopotamia. Goody divides lists into three types: the list that is a catalogue of names, events and offices, which he calls a