Friday, 24 June 2011

Anti-Marxist Vitalism

Only, when the Socialist Government had begun giving the peasants bits of land, dividing up the big haciendas, Ezequial had been allotted a little piece outside the village. He would go and gather the stones there, and prepare to build a little hut. And he would break the earth with a hoe, his only implement, as far as possible, But he had no blood connection with this square allotment of unnatural earth, and he could not set himself into relations with it. He was fitful and diffident about it. There was no incentive, no urge.
DH Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent

Somewhat ironically I only read this novel due to its footnote mention in Badiou's The Century, but if you want anti-socialist vitalism it's the place to go. Also, don't forget the hilarious dismissal of female orgasm, and the 'man is a column of blood, woman a valley of blood' either...

The Passion for the Real - All the Way Down

Regeneration of man through the red-hot iron. Plow up the old earth, tear down the old structure. Re-create life anew. And in all likelihood perish yourself.
Victor Serge, Conquered City

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

the art of crisis

trailing through the October questionnaire on 'recessional art' (i.e. art in the wake of the financial crisis) I came across this by Andrew Witt and Nathan Crompton in their reply (Badiousian largely) to October:

'Debt to the situation translates into a sense of "responsibility," like the artist who today finds him/herself in the midst of capitalism in crisis - nothing new there! - and is compelled to make art out of a sense of pathos and guilt rather than affirmation.'

Of course this is, for them, a bad thing. It's not just deliberate perversity, although that may play a part, but what's so wrong about a sense of 'responsibility' (and why the scare quotes?) and making art out of a sense of pathos and guilt? Less in favour of pathos, but guilt would be fine. Also, capitalism in midst of crisis is nothing new, well not in the technical sense but isn't this a slightly larger crisis? (perhaps leave this to Paul Mattick).

Of course I've written at length critically about affirmation, but even if one is affirmative I think the unspoken obviousness that is implied here might need a little more justification. Simply to mention 'responsibility', 'pathos' or, even worse, 'guilt', is supposed to raise post-Nietzschean hackles like an inbuilt-reflex (never made the maudlin pathos of much of Nietzsche and Nietzschean - all heroic strength while complaining about being 'dragged down' by those evil Christian / socialist / anarchist masses...).