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Bidenomics and the Left
This is not a matter of rejecting electoral politics—winning a majority of citizens to radical change through democratic means is fundamental. But coming to governance without a solid social base while the powerful centrifugal influences of capitalism remain in place leads to the disappointments we and others abroad have repeatedly experienced. Without the ability to monitor, check, support, and pressure governments to stay the course, government promises fade. Elections alone become largely irrelevant. Participation in elections may have a tactical role in reaching people, but building the base for social transformation is what is so overwhelmingly central today. Only that will make elections truly relevant down the road.
Write, Rinse, Repeat: Text and Context in Derrida’s SEC and in Literary Studies
None of what the text says and is about can be determined beginning from such considerations, however; texts are not functions of cultural, social, or historical “structures” or “logics.” Such suppositions erase the text itself, by subordinating it to new and again unexplained systems or structures, implicitly resurrecting the ideal. Appeals to structures or logics necessarily trade on otherwise unexplained ideal last instances, ones hailing now not from language but from society, history, the economy, and so on. Their invocation thus renders the text in question effectively equivalent to the common understanding of “now is night,” an inscription somehow without a writer, receiver or context—subordinating it to a new ideal instance and thereby depriving it of its status as an authored text.
Produced and Abandoned: Action and Intention in Derrida
The problem, as we’ve already begun to see, is that once you’re committed to the idea that meaning is something you try to control and/or that it’s something you impose, you’re committed also to an account of the text in which the intention must be (what Derrida rightly denies it can be) outside of it. Indeed, this is exactly what the reduction of the text to the mark requires since the act of writing is here conceived as the writer’s effort to impose a meaning on the mark she has made and since the act of reading involves the impositions of other meanings, which need not be the same as the writer’s. The reason the mark is abandoned is because that imposition necessarily fails, leaving a remainder that remains necessarily “open.”
The Obamas’ “Rustin”: Fun Tricks You Can Do on the Past
The project of “reclamation and celebration” proceeds from a common impulse to rediscover/invent black Greats who by force of their own will make “change” or “contributions.” In Ava Duvernay’s Selma Martin Luther King, Jr. shows up and exudes a beatific glow that makes things happen. These films and filmmakers have no clue how movements are reproduced as mass projects, from the bottom up and top down, in a trajectory plotted by continuously improvised response to and anticipation of layers of internal and external pressures. But that’s not their point. Rustin isn’t interested in illuminating the intricacies of the civil rights movement; it wants us to recognize its subject’s place in a pantheon of black and American Greats.
Democracy and the Working-Class: An Introduction to Reed, Macnair, and Gindin
The causes of this relatively bleak state of affairs is, as Reed and Macnair show, that at the level of civil society the dominant political institutions, parties, or NGO-like formations like BLM only allow citizens with a means of engaging in political life by assuming a standpoint reliant on confused and obfuscatory concepts which preclude an understanding of society in class terms.
Blind leading the blind
Our three authors are all, in very different ways, possibilists. They assume that socialism in some extremely general sense is desirable; but then frame their “what is to be done” entirely by what looks practical in the very short term. But the result in all three cases is practical unrealism: none of these prescriptions are likely to produce anything other than “more of the same” – meaning a labour movement dominated by the right and a left splintered into little pieces, each of which pursues its own “possible” tactics.
Cézanne’s Sensations
All of Cézanne’s “theory” seems to come down to what he calls “realization,” an operation of conversion that he was the first modern painter to attempt. Critics had a premonition of it, condemning his “too exclusive love of yellow” and warning the public: “If you visit the exhibition with a woman in an interesting position, pass quickly by the portrait of a man by Mr. Cézanne… That strange-looking head, the color of boot cuffs, could make too vivid an impression on her and give her fruit yellow fever before its entry into the world.”
Performative Contexts
Is all this to say that we should give up on context because we can have no purchase on it? I think it is rather a way of pointing to the constitutively incomplete nature of what is still the necessary task of making sense of texts in context. For every context that fails to determine its text completely because it, itself, is structurally indeterminate, new contexts come to impose their force and their relevance. The flip side of Derrida’s claim that every text ruptures with its context is his assertion that texts are citable and reinscribable in other contexts, for belonging to the structure of every mark is both “the possibility of disengagement and citational graft.”
A Davidsonian version of Dissemination and Abandonment
Speech and writing actions differ from their products. We can call the actions utterings and inscribings. An uttering’s product is an utterance. An inscribing’s product is an inscription. An uttering or inscribing is “abandoned” because features of the uttering or inscribing are not linguistically available to the audience in the utterance or inscription. Iterations of what is linguistically available, whether by the speaker or others, differ in truth-conditions from the original simply because the present and past tenses are indexicals. The force of an original is not linguistically available, so every utterance or inscription is “abandoned.” Repetitions of utterances with indexicals generate expressions with different truth-conditions but may be copies, and so iterations.
Paula Peatross: Purposefulness with no Purpose
This is not a distinction between nonrepresentational and representational art, but it is one between narrative and nearly everything else. And Peatross’s reliefs are unambiguously nonrepresentational. In addition to not being narratives (stories) of any sort, they are made without reference to anything else outside themselves, such as a landscape, the sole exception to that general rule being that they do preserve the limits and inflexions of her body. That aside, as the artist herself puts it, “Each one is itself.”
Willlard Boepple’s “Shards”
Together with the sharp-edged quality of the shapes, the intensity of the color-juxtapositions, and the interplay between the shapes with minimal thickness and the ones backed by PVC, the layering adds a note of enhanced plasticity to the ensemble. Put another way, the “Shards” are at once intensely “pictorial,” for reasons already given, and intensely tactile, which is to say that one’s perception of the “Shards” veers continually between a sense of their strength as compositions—as if in the flat—and their presence as a special sort of material artifact, their character as an entirely new variety of relief.
New Wall Sculptures
Only rarely does the plan survive the making; more often the sculpture takes over, establishing its own rules, its own reality. Each shape goes down on the paper as an expanse of uninflected, transparent color, the shapes are determined by stencils prepared beforehand. As other shapes are added, the overlapping hues create new densities and new colors. Changing the sequence can further alter these tonal and chromatic relationships, creating new spatial suggestions, so that we read each of these unique images differently.
Scapegoating Politics: How Fascism Deploys Race, and How Antiracism Takes the Bait
That larger, more insidious effort and its objectives—which boil down to elimination of avenues for expression of popular democratic oversight in service to consolidation of unmediated capitalist class power—constitute the gravest danger that confronts us. And centering on the racial dimension of stratagems like the Cantrell recall plays into the hands of the architects of that agenda and the scapegoating politics on which they depend by focusing exclusively on an aspect of the tactic and not the goal. From the perspective of that greater danger, whether the recall effort was motivated by racism is quite beside the point. The same applies to any of the many other racially inflected, de-democratizing initiatives the right wing has been pushing. With or without conscious intent, and no matter what shockingly ugly and frightening expressions it may take rhetorically, the racial dimension of the right wing’s not-so-stealth offensive is a smokescreen. The pedophile cannibals, predatory transgender subversives, and proponents of abortion on demand up to birth join familiar significations attached to blacks and a generically threatening nonwhite other in melding a singular, interchangeable, even contradictory—the Jew as banker and Bolshevik—phantasmagorical enemy.