Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Penumbra of the Empty, Part III

I hate the “dividing practices” but the question is: does anyone truly like them?

Are there those who are not divided but who divide? Would these thus be those who truly like the dividing practices? Are there those who, though sometimes and to some extent divided, are nevertheless net beneficiaries of dividing practices? (In other words, whatever disadvantage accrues to them through the dividing practices enacted upon them, there is yet more than net advantage canceling it out.) Would these then, though they hated being divided, through a kind of wisdom, see they were more helped than harmed by these practices?

If there are those who truly like the dividing practices, then the explanation for why they continue might be simple—not very important. However, if no one truly likes them, the question of why they continue has urgency. What if the dividing practices continue though everyone hates being divided at all, whether it is a little or a lot, whether there are some more divided than others, whether some positions within the general dividing practice hurt only a little while others hurt a great deal more? What if the dividing practices continue even though the idea of changing the framework of “dividing practice” is an idea everyone would be willing to entertain?

A question I asked last time I would like to continue to entertain: could there be practices which no individual wanted to practice but the practice of which was forced into practice because some “abstract” entity—not an individual—did “want” the practice to continue? Isn’t this “abstract entity” whatever specifically it is—an idea, a theory, an organization of individuals, a state—what we would call a totality or a Totalization? It has this property of inertia—of being obdurate of change—of resisting desire, I assign to Totalization. I’m not saying no individual would ever come to identify with this abstract inert density, or ever come to be identified with it—these individuals might embody both our most vivid desire and our most vivid horror.


Blogger Christoffer said...

I think what you call a Totality or an inert adbstract density, is what Marx refer to as an Ideology: when changes in the Basis (the production capabilities) no longer cause a corresponding change in the Upper level (I did not read Marx in english so I dont know the ernglish terminology) .. "The upper level" is the legal system, the moral, the institutions, etc. and also the ideologies. An ideology is formed or potientially formed, when it becomes resistant to change, according to Marx.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the informed, intelligent, and incisive commentary, which I appreciate very much and am keenly aware I don't deserve.

I see Marx's concept of ideology as being one way to relate power to thought...However, it is not the one I am aiming for now. I see power necessarily interweaving with thought and not necessarily as determined by economic conditions per se. I think Marx's concept of ideology is paradoxical, precisely where you indicate it...On the one hand, Marx has an infrastructure determining superstructure theory but at the same time must account for those many instances where infrastructure doesn't determine superstructure (ie when the infrastructure changes without resulting change in the superstructure.)

Ideology does not account for power and changing ideology (through coercion or education) did not change power relations...This failure of theories of ideology has had enormous impact.


1:22 PM  

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