Buy this car to drive to work / Drive to work to pay for this car

January 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello everyone,

Join us this Friday, February 1st for 8:30pm. This is Week 8’s installment of AAB’s current term, Capital Labour/Capital Life, and it is apropos that we’ll be reading Ross Perlin’s “Hunger Artists and Internships in the Arts” and Rosalind Gill’s “Breaking the Silence: The hidden injuries of neo-liberal academia”. Please see the schedule for links to the readings
Some recaps from the the last few weeks:

week 6 on Bataille and Matteo: MP’s article sets out to do two things, 1) introduces the Marxian notion of surplus-value to media communication theory by way of GB’s extrapolation of ‘expenditure’ and ‘potlatch’ and Serres’ metamorphic ‘parasite’ and 2) expands Bataille’s concept of excess by his focus on surplus, which MP finds lacking (other than the libidinal variety) in the ‘general economy’.

For GB excess/expenditure is a social function, originating in the form of sacrifice and ritual amongst agonistic relations (he references the potlach of Northwestern American Indians). Modern society’s lived reality of ‘excess’ is produced and accumulated, and part of the economy that is non-recuperable. In other words, our energy goes into labour and we get nothing in return other than the desire and potential purchasing power for objects that are actually meaningless (inferring Marx’s concept of Commodity Fetishism). His issue is where excess energy is delineated in capital production, consumption and accumulation and sees agonistic behaviour (operations that rupture the integrity of the individual form and humble mediations between groups in struggle) as a way to recoup what is lost through labour and a means to subjugate the bourgeoise/master class.

I was particularly interested in finding an entry into MP’s triadic conception of rent (technological, cognitive, and land) with Bataille. For MP, media communication plays a key component in rent itself: technological rent refers to purchasing bandwidth and monopoly business models such as Google and Facebook; cognitive rent specifies the claim on ideas in the form of intellectual property that excludes the fact that producers of creative commons materials are consumers simultaneously; and land rent is the amalgamation of the former concepts and their direct impact on neighborhood development (desiring machines or a code fetish + desiring new-placing-making = an analysis for cultural/cognitive producers as gentrifiers). The energy of expenditure, taking from Bataille again, is pacified by media communications in this current state, but what would/does a digital potlatch (form of online sacrifice or agonism) produce and how would it conflate the actions of the cognitive labour in relation to rent?

week 7 on Martin and Jameson: if anything, we came back to the city and its post-modern architectural pursuits, where architecture and economic have a virtually unmediated relationship. Herein, aesthetic language is applied to and breaths life into the commodity form, which in turn abstracts the real and the imaginary from ideas around freedom. Both articles contend with representations of the natural order of the market and the legitimation or delegitimation of conceptualizing reality.

One thing that came up in discussion was remembering how architecture and the city conditions the social subject in her movements, thoughts, and actions. As aesthetic language repurposes the commodity form, architectural design reaps on a sense of meaning and feeling and assumes that things must exist in a certain way in order to comfort the social subject. Jameson notes how the left often say how “no society can function efficiently without the market” and no longer have faith in the nationalization of the means of production, and poses the situation of the contemporary postmodern left as espousing a socialism that “really has nothing to do with socialism itself any longer” (281). (Such as how creative commons prescribes the language of socialism, in its most superficial form, yet has no real regard for the labourer’s activity, only passivity.)  As such what must be analyzed and overturned is the contention that “[t]he market is in human nature” (FJ 281) and that the market is like some God, something in which we are enjoined to simply trust to do as it will. To reiterate, the apparatuses that care and nourish the market are architectural contraints on space and identity as well as media communications.

Keeping all this in mind for this week’s readings, let’s continue to delegitimate the reality of the market and the city’s natural ordering on our persons in relation to academia and cultural work. It’s all bullshit as it stands.

See you soon,


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