Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Venezuela Documentary)

It seemed like a good time to put this up, given the shenanigans that occurred in the election. Once again, President Obama isn't that different from the former regime....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A long selection on literary criticism

            To enter into this conversation, perhaps it would be best to begin by defining my term’s other, realism, through Lukacs’ engagement with it in The Historical Novel.  For Lukacs, this definition comes out of the creation of the novel during the first half of the 19th century, in particular, the historical novel.  The realism of the historical novel is dependent on both recognizing the complex structures of the society and the dynamics that define those structures.  Lukacs notes, “A total historical picture depends upon a rich and graded interaction between different levels of response to any major disturbance of life.  It must disclose artistically the connection between the spontaneous reaction of the masses and the historical consciousness of the leading personalities.”[1]  The historical picture can be produced through a complex structure of social mediations, mediations between social classes, between the mediocre protagonist of the novel and the world historical personalities.  The novel presents a synthetic view of the antagonistic totality.

The ability of the novel to produce this kind of understanding of society declines after the revolution of 1848 and the increasing insurgency of the proletariat.  With this transformation, the novel can no longer hold together the structures of synthesis found in the earlier novel.  For Lukacs, this represents the decline and eventual failure of the bourgeois novel, which is simultaneously linked up to the decline of the bourgeoisie as a progressive force in history.  Lukacs then spends the final section of the text trying to discover where the new forms of critical and historical realism are occurring within the literature of his time, primarily the literature of the popular front.  He argues that one can find a number of successful projects that begin to accomplish this task once again in the fight against fascism, although he is far less sanguine about this possibility in the 1960 introduction.[2]

If we think about this within conventionally Hegelian terms, this means that representation can only occur within the third step of the dialectic, aufgehoben, a moment defined by both the abolition of the old structure of totality and the creation of a new synthesis.  In political terms, it would mean that a successful representation of the creative powers could only occur at the moment of its successful conquest of the state.  The bourgeois, historical novel is successful precisely because they met these two linked stipulations, the conquest of the state and the creation of a new synthetic totality.  The demand that literature fulfill this demand leads to Lukacs’ categorization of the post-1848 novels as forms of failure, representing the “general tendencies of decadence”, which are linked to the genre fragmentation of the novel, into a variety of specializations.

However, this approach would not allow for the creation of an aesthetic that represents the experiences and the forms of knowledge produced by the subaltern classes of a given society.  As Antonio Gramsci notes, “The subaltern classes, by definition, are not unified and cannot unify until they are able to become a “State”: their history, therefore, is intertwined with that of civil society, and thereby with the history of States and groups of States.”[3]  Following this analysis, Gramsci then offers a list of the various possible strata that exist in a class formation moving from the conservative to the most insurrectionary strata in this formation.  For Gramsci, the movement towards ‘integral autonomy’ exists within the development of these strata, in their ability to shape and transform the ideological structures that create structures of the society that the subaltern classes are bound up in.  That development, whether linked up to the production of a new synthesis or not, must operate at the level of the fragmentary, the experimental, and, invariably, in the form of failure.

Negotiating this continued desire for a continuation of capitalist hegemony on one hand, and the creation of an ‘integral autonomy’ of the subaltern classes is crisis.  Or to put it another way, we find two poles within this logic, the form of capital which is continually trying to assimilate everything into its logic, and the figure of living labor, embodied in the subaltern, which is immanent, but exogenous to the logic of capital.  The two operate as an antagonistic totality.  This needs to be understood at two levels, at the level of everyday life, that is to say, at the level of the institutions and ideological structures the construction horizons of common sense, and also at the level of the aesthetic, that is the attempt to create imagined structures of representation are.  In both contexts, the crisis is marked by capital’s attempt to abolish the possibility of its own existence, by completely incorporating its other in the myriad of forms that it’s found.  At the same time, the crisis takes the form of an ever shifting and mutating resistance linked to the collective labors of living labor. 

In order to deal with this question of everyday life, it becomes necessary to return to Marx; particularly the construction of value within the capitalist society produced the first volume of Capital.  Marx starts off by defining two opposing concepts, use and exchange value.  Use operates qualitatively.  An object has use value insomuch as it fulfills a particular function.  To an explicate this, a Bible might act as family keepsake in one situation, a form of edification in another, and as a door prop in still another.  Use is singular and cannot be put into a relation of equivalence.  Exchange, on the other hand, can.  It does this by draining of all particularities.  It, the commodity, becomes an expression of the congealed, socially necessary labor time needed to produce it.  It is this transformation that allows for the commodity to be entered into a series of relations of equivalence.  The money form becomes the expression of this empty mode of equivalence, par excellence.  It operates as a mode of potential, able to transform itself from C to M to C, or from M to C to M’.

At the same time, the investigation maps out the movement of capital through the dialectical method.  This method operates immanently through the exploration of the movement of the creation of value.  The shift from value in its antagonistic forms of exchange and use value, to its expansion in the realm of circulation, and into the need for the production of surplus value in order to allow for the expansion of circulation operates as a continual expansion of the movement of capital through the incorporation of its contradictions, not as synthesis, but as antagonistic totality.  The most immediate result of this process is the production of an abstract apparatus of appropriation that could operate without limits taken within its own logic, a logic which sees its outside as potential raw material for its processes. 

In addition to this logic of abstract domination through the machinery of appropriation, capital restructures the temporality of those living within its logic.  This shift is mapped out by Benedict Anderson in his attempt to understand the structure of the nation-state, both in special terms, and more importantly, in terms of temporality.  This constructs the nation as a bounded space defined by both a homogenous structure of language, and a radical shift in the temporality of the societies involved.  As Anderson notes,

“What has come to take the place of the mediaeval conception of simultaneity-along-time is, to borrow again from Benjamin, an idea of ‘homogenous, empty time’, in which simultaneity is, as it were, transverse, cross-time, marked not by prefiguring and fulfillment, but by temporal coincidence, and measured by clock and calendar.”[4]

Capitalism then shifts the temporal structure from a cyclical structure full of meaning to a time that operates on a logic of simultaneity that is linked to the clock and the calendar.  Anderson is not the first one to bring up this logic.  It has been brought up by Benjamin, who Anderson quotes, and its logic in defining the work day is explored in E.P. Thompson’s Work, Time, and Discipline.  However, Anderson exams how this is produced by the construction of national languages and by the linked process that he calls ‘print capitalism.’  The newspaper, the book, and the market become the second linkage that insures the existence of the imagined community of the nation.  Anderson notes that the book is “the first modern-style mass-produced industrial community.”[5]  As a product, it is infinitely reproducible on a large scale.  Moreover, its introduction led to an entire series of transformations to the language, particularly concerning the standardization of languages.  This standardization is linked to a more elaborate project of comparative study of languages, in the service of the colonial project, linking the construction of the nation-state with the imperial expansion of capital.

For Anderson, the newspaper becomes the most emblematic form of this print capitalism, infinitely reproducing an imagined national through the juxtaposition of a complex set of articles, randomly covering events ranging from economics to sports.  It also is a form that continually becomes obsolete the following day, making its replacement a necessity to stay within the community.  As Anderson notes, “the ceremony is incessantly repeated at daily or half-daily intervals through the calendar.”[6]  The newspaper then becomes a sort analogue to the time-clock, producing its own disciplinary logic, constructing a sense of time and space that allow for the production of surplus value.

The novel then becomes the privileged form of the aesthetic, allowing for the construction of the time of the nation, Anderson argues,

Consider first the structure of the old-fashioned novel, a structure typical not only of the masterpieces of Balzac but also of any contemporary dollar-dreadful.  It is clearly a device for the presentation of simultaneity in ‘homogenous, empty time,’ or a complex gloss upon the word ‘meanwhile’.”[7]

The novel constructs a structure of time that allows for a complex assemblage of events, linked through the phrase “meanwhile.”  This term allows for the linkage of seemingly disparate events, linking them together to produce a mediated sense of totality.  It also allows for an engagement with the new, as that novel operates as a modular form, negotiating its form in order to bring in new social arrangement, new cultural forms, and new symbolic into its regime (while simultaneously changing them.)  For instance, despite their radical differences, authors from dos Passos to Mahfouz and Mieville have used the novel to try to capture the radical novelty of the social relations of the city, mapping its tempo and intensity through its structures.  The novel becomes the primary engagement with the forms of novelty that define capitalism, whether to abhor them, assimilate them, or push their radical possibilities farther.

Furthermore, the novel produces a form that is conducive to creating forms of critique that operate within its logic.  Anderson notes the shift of in critical discourse, based in structures of comparison, created in the apparatus of print capitalism.

“All these tongue-in cheek utopias, ‘modeled’ on real discoveries, are depicted, not as lost Edens, but as contemporary societies.  One could argue that they had to be, since they were composed as criticisms of real societies, since they were composed as criticisms of contemporary societies, and the discoveries had ended the necessity for seeking models in a vanished antiquity.  In the wake of the utopians came the luminaries of the Enlightenment, Vico, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau, who increasingly exploited a ‘real’ non-Europe for a barrage of subversive writings directed against current European social and political institutions.  In effect, it became possible to think of Europe as only one among many civilizations, and not necessarily the Chosen or the best.”[8]

Each of these forms, along with critical travel literature and ethnography shift the modes of social critique to match up with the progressive and open structure of capitalism.  To begin, their temporality is one of comparison, rather than nostalgia.  More, Montaigne and others look to a variety of fantasies taken as realities in order to question the naturalized order of their societies.  These critiques then take the form of critical comparisons with another possible order, one that exists in social novelty, rather than in an essence found in the golden age.  This process continues in travel literature and ethnography, which both legitimate the processes of conquest through their narratives, and offer different imaginings of the social.  The comparative lens then becomes an important technique to exam the dominant structures of European society and show that the forms of domination that exist in those societies is at very least contingent, if not grotesque.  In short, this technology of comparison creates a literary mode of critique through estrangement.  This form takes perhaps its richest form in the satires produced by Swift and Rabelais, but it continued to exist in subterranean form as the realist novel began to become the dominant literary form, finding its way into the Gothic in a modified form, into cheap pamphlets, paraliteratures, etc.

It’s notable that this mode of comparison through travel writing as well as through ethnography and the utopia that becomes the foundational material for the genre of science fiction, which takes the comparative form of those earlier forms of social critiques, but transforms its temporal operations.  Rather than offering temporal structure of simultaneity, which defines these earlier genres of estrangement, a temporal structure that can be found as late as the work of Verne[9], science fiction produces a structure of estrangement based the shift in the perspective of time, frequently moving into the future, or engaging with the alien that operates in the non-human.  The work of H.G. Wells provides the template for both models, The Time Machine offering a critique of the ideology of progress as well as social Darwinism through the image of a dystopian future, in which the survival of the fittest produces brutality.  On the other hand, the figure of the alien is used to critique colonialism in First Men on the Moon, and War of the Worlds.[10]

             At this point, it becomes important to shift from a set of narrative practice that produce a sense of estrangement, to engagements with language, that are designed to either engage with the new, or produce effects of estrangement.  Although Marx is hesitant to make the analogy, the emptiness of the word form can be linked to the emptiness of the money form.  The sign, as an assemblage of letters, can be shuffled into another arbitrary formation and can be linked to another assemblage, which is then linked to another signifier.  Nietzsche sees, in the gap between signifier and signified a kind of abyss that can only be filled in by a sort of social contract of language.  In this sense, socially necessary labor time acts as an analogue to this social contract, being defined by both the constructions of socially necessary labor time in the past (in the form of constant capital) and by the demands of the working class within its development in the class struggle.

This linkage then produces a crisis in language itself, as the circulation of literary tropes; motifs, narrative arcs, etc. lead to the continual deadening of those structures into cliché.  This continual colonization of language produces alienation from language, and an inability to produce a form of communication that authentically links to experience.  This crisis can be expressed in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Letter to Lord Chandos”, written in 1902, as Hofmannsthal abandoned writing literature for producing libretto for the theater and opera.  This shift is linked to a general crisis of language linked to a feeling of alienation.  He writes,

But it is my inner self that I feel bound to reveal to you-a peculiarity, a vice, a disease of my mind, if you like-if you are to understand that an abyss equally unbridgeable separates me from the literary works lying seemingly ahead of me as from those behind me: the latter having become so strange to me that I hesitate to call them my property.[11]

Within this passage, Chandos indicates that he has lost his previous rhetorical eloquence because of a sense of alienation, expressed in the terms of a sickness.  This sickness is linked up with a gap or abyss between the language of literature and Chandos himself, regarding both Chandos own literary production and literary production in general, his own words, previously produced with ease, now have ‘become so strange’ that they no longer are his ‘property.’  In effect, Chandos can only express this loss in the language of alienation itself.  In his analysis of Hofmannsthal, Adorno notes that, “along with the categories, the materials too have lost their a priori self-evidence, and this is apparent in the case of poetic language.”[12] The structures of rhetoric which formerly served to express something authentic are now recognized as a set of social conventions that have lost their meaning, or to use Nietzsche’s language, they become effaced coins, no longer useful for circulation.  

He goes on to link this up with their very possibility of expression.  “The disintegration of the materials is the triumph of their being-for-other.”[13] Chandos inability to communicate through writing has allowed him a connection to experience that he had not previously experienced, ranging from the ecstatic to the terrifying.  The disintegration of language allows for him to gesture to a structure of feeling that cannot be produced in writing, but can only be gestured to through their inability to be expressed.  The loss of the ability to operate within a set of rhetorical norms, the collapse of an empty language of circulation, gestures to this trace of an authentic experience.

This experience of the modern as lack or as the inability to link up language with an authentic experience becomes one pole of modern in response to the relationship of the commodification of language, linking up to the work of Rilke, Georg, and Hesse amongst others.  Producing a work that is simultaneously aware of the limitations placed on the alienation of experience, and caught within a certain nostalgia.  The other pole refuses this nostalgia precisely by diving headlong into the flow of the commodity, the flow of the masses, the flow of the city.  One can turn to Whitman to see this mode of expression in its full form.  Whitman introduce a form of exchangeability that bursts asunder the instrumental bonds set upon it by the framework of transcendentalism that Whitman draws from to conceive of his work.  We enter into the work through this exchangeability.  “I celebrate myself/And What I assume you shall assume/ For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”[14]

It gestures to the delirium of the commodity form.  This is the production of a leveling equality that operates within the endless chain of equivalence.  This allow for the poem to act as a wild juxtaposition of images, concepts, narratives, subjects, and desires.  Through this assemblage, Whitman attempts to capture or even create the utopian dimension of the American Revolution linking its expansiveness to a capacity to act and be acted upon. This expansive power is linked to the capacities of the body, laboring body, the suffering body, the desired and desiring body.  The equivalence of the commodity reveals its other possibility, one the breaks through the parasitical bonds of capital.

The novel of the city continues to multiply the density of its social, political, and economic structures, a density that both demands and resists representation.  When we turn to the introduction of Henry Roth’s Call it Sleep, we find this same confluence through the representation of density, and the density of representation with the experience of the immigrants’ entrance into the city of New York. 

“All that day, as on all the days since the spring began, her decks had been thronged by hundreds upon hundreds of foreigners, natives from almost every land in the world, the jowled close-cropped Teuton, the full-bearded Russian, the scraggly-whiskered Jew, and among them Slovack peasants with docile faces, smooth-cheeked and swarthy Armenians, pimply Greeks, Danes with wrinkled eyelids.  All day her decks had been colorful, a matrix of the vivid costumes of other lands, the speckled green-and-yellow aprons, the flowered kerchief, embroidered  homespun, the silver-braided sheepskin vest, the gaudy scarfs, yellow boots, fur caps, caftans, dull gabardines.  All day the guttural, the high-pitched voices, the astonished cries, the gasps of wonder, reiterations of gladness had risen from her decks in a noisey billow of sound…”[15]

The density and complexity of the city is represented through this parallel chain of signifiers, a chain of ethnicities, clothing, and sounds.  Each chain is introduced by the phrase ‘all day.’  The oscillation between this motif and the chain of descriptors produces the representation of endless variety within the space of the city, each marked by their simultaneous singularity and linkage to the chain.  What is notable is that this structure succeeds in bringing out the creative capacities of the crowds they describe, whether through phobia or through pleasure.[16]  The crowd of the street is then defined through this seriality by it productive powers, whether affective, reproductive, or economic, although these descriptions never are far from the various apparatus of domination that also define these cities.  The crisis exists between them.

In this sense, I am strongly sympathetic to Burger’s theory of the avant-garde.  Burger’s argument is that the avant-garde tries to return art to what Burger calls the “praxis of life.”  This means criticizing the former mode of aestheticism and simultaneously producing new methods for engaging with the new.  These foci are then linked with a production and reception of art that is no longer individual.  For Burger, the prime examples are the productions put on by the Dadaist performances, and Breton’s recipes for poetry production in his manifestos.[17]  However, this focus can be seen in a number of more politically dubious artistic movements such as Italian futurism, the vorticists, and others.[18] Adorno too emphasizes both this collective effort and the attempt to return to  a structure of social function in his Aesthetic Theory, although with an ambiguity that is not found in Burger.

It is this movement of the avant-garde that leads to the first theorizations of estrangement.[19]  Perhaps the earliest attempt to conceptualize literature at this moment of capitalist development was taken on by the formalists, most notably the early arguments of the literary critic; Viktor Shklovsky Estrangement is a concept that is originally developed in the early twentieth century by literary critic Viktor Shklovsky as a way of understanding the use of language in literature.  Literature obtains its literariness by the process of taking the material of the everyday and making it strange or difficult.  By making the structure of the language strange, literature allows for the reader to rethink and recognize life in the phenomena of everyday life.  At the same time, literature operates as an autonomous sphere, that is to say, it cannot be understood as an effect of the economic or political sphere.  Within in this context, Shklovsky argues that the estrangement effect is always constructed as to reveal the constructedness of the devices themselves.

            The work of the Bakhtin circle offers an effective critique to this perspective, particularly with the text co-written by Mikhail Bakhtin and P.N Medvedev.  The text offers a sustained engagement with the concepts of the formalists, critiquing their understanding of literature as a set of autonomous devices, referring only to themselves.  These limitations are linked to the limitations of the formalists understanding of the sign in relationship to ideological structures.  The two note that,

“Their struggle against idealist detachment of meaning from material led the formalists to negate ideological meaning itself.  As a result the problem of the concrete materialized meaning, the meaning-object, was not raised, and in its place we find the mere object, which is not quite a natural body, and not quite a product for individual consumption.”[20]

            In their attempt to escape from an endless series of literary criticism to find the figure of god through their reading of literature, the formalists wind up making the opposite mistake, taking the aesthetic out of the realm of the world altogether.  The poetic word has an immense ability to allow for transforming the everyday banalities of life into something new, perhaps in the language of the surrealists, something marvelous, but this transformation can only be folded back into the operation of the work itself, it can only gesture back to its contructiveness.  For Shklovsky, art is only capable of stating that it is art, and therefore a construction, creating a curious tension between the influence of the crisis of the revolution, the crisis of the modern city, and the refusal on the part of both the formalists and the Russian futurists to recognize that influence.

            However, despite the polemics against the formalists, they are clearly an influence on Medvedev and Bakhtin in their alternative formulation.  Rather than interpreting literature as a form of devices that act to reveal their own constructiveness, it is an apparatus of refraction, that is to say, literature is constructed through the refraction of ideologies or sign systems, including literature itself.  Literature’s power is in its distortions, rather than its reflections, and it is in this distortion or making strange that literature becomes productive.  The two put it in the following terms, “It is bad if the critic forgets that there is no philosophy in literature, only philosophizing, no knowledge, but only the process of cognition… For the artist only asserts himself in the process of the artistic selection and shaping of ideological material.  And this artistic assertion is no less social and ideological epistemological, ethical, political, etc. assertions are.”[21]

            Refraction then becomes a potential political tool in its constant ability to reshape the sign systems of a variety of ideologies.  These acts of reshaping are still linked to the expectations of the audience, but those expectations are marked by the existence of discourses outside the production of the literary.  The novel in particular then is defined by its multiplicity of voices, its heteroglossia; however this structure is made artistic by its manipulation of refraction of those voices, not through their accurate representation.  Hence, the creative power of the novel is in its ability to satirize, to make the common sense expectations of the everyday seem strange, and point out other possibilities that exist within the world.  To return briefly to the earlier conversation about Gramsci, we see a concept of art that perhaps can resonate with the fragmentary and partial social formations that exist within the subaltern classes.

            This possibility is taken up by the second concept of estrangement that is developed by Bertolt Brecht in his sporadic critical commentaries.  Removed from Brecht’s attempts to shock and offend his contemporaries, the Verfremdungseffekt can be defined in the following manner.   Art has traditionally been used to shore up the arbitrariness of modes of political domination.  Aristotle’s catharsis ultimately becomes an acceptance of domination as it exists.  The release of affective tension becomes a way of mediating the contradictions contained within Brecht instead proposes a mode of art that reveals the historicity of social structures of the present, and to allow the audience a glimpse into the possibility that the world can be transformed.  Estrangement within this context is a form of artistic creation that shows that the contemporary social structures are contingent, and are, therefore inessential.  Brecht’s theatre then becomes an incitement to revolt and a laboratory to conceptualize other social relations.  Unconscious release is replaced by conscious engagement, mediation with critical labor, acceptance with experimentation.

            For Brecht, he links this aleatory dimension of the experiment with his acts of collaboration with workers, who break him out of the traditional space of the theater.  It adds a dimension to the production that “was never literary or stated in terms of theatrical aesthetics.”  This non-aesthetic dimension of class conscious workers links the project back to an attempt to create a socially useful form of art, but not one that is either conservative or predictable.  Instead, the workers were willing to consider the validity of the most non-conventional forms of artistic production and representation if it contributed to the process of collective critical consciousness.  As Brecht notes,

“The workers judged everything according to the truth of its content; they welcomed every innovation which helped the representation of truth, of the real mechanism of society; they rejected everything that seemed theatrical, technical equipment that merely worked for its own sake—that is to say, that did not yet fulfill, or no longer fulfilled, its purpose.”[22]

            The process becomes linked to this truth function, that is, to the critical understanding of the ‘real mechanism of society.’  The experimental process is directed to finding this social mechanism within the dross of the purely ‘theatrical, technical.’  This process of discovering social reality can never stop, as that the very nature of that reality is constantly in flux.  Hence, the innovation becomes welcome, the unfamiliar a way of reorienting one’s self with the crisis of representation.  At the same time, this process allows for the honing of skills and new forms of intersubjective relations that Brecht insists are crucial to transforming the society.  The workers leave with a new set of tools for creating the new, if unknown future society, as well as contributing to an artistic process.  Fredric Jameson emphasizes this element of process in Brecht’s approach to the theater.  He notes that at points, when he had the time and money, Brecht was willing to stretch this out indefinitely.  During a DDR, state sponsored production of Galileo, Brecht responded to the criticism that if the practices continued at this rate, the production would come into being in four years, by agreeing and stating that this would be a productive framework. 

            Perhaps we can illuminate this process by discussing a set of plays known as the Lehrstucke that focused on the very artistic practices of experimentation and working with non-actors, which were later defended in the expressionism debates, and were used as an example against Lukacs’ conceptualization of realism.  Of these plays, the most useful to look at are three short plays, Der Jasager, Der Neinsager, and Die Massnahme.  All three are reworkings of a tradition No played known as Taniko or The Valley-Hurling, and each of the revisions were produced in non-traditional theatrical spaces, and with the collaboration of non-actors.  The first two plays were written for a school opera, while Die Massnahme was written worker’s theatrical groups.  None of the productions ever got the extensive production schedules that they were intended for, and could be considered only ‘partial successes at best if one uses the terms that Brecht sets up for the concept of the experiment.[23]

            Brecht’s processes then open into a wide spectrum of artistic practices that link the popular in film, music, and literature to the avant-garde, although not all directly influenced by him. To stay focused in literature, we find a creation of a set of novelistic practices that link to the collection of para-literary practices discussed earlier.  This is most notable in the novels of Kathy Acker and Ishmael Reed[24], but it also can be found in the work of Thomas Pynchon, and much of the work in the science fiction of New Worlds.  This play is marked by both the intensification of the commodity and its resistances, leading Jean Luc Godard to characterize its youth culture as ‘the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.’  But I see the same tension between the modes of sociality that proliferate within capitalism, and the attempt to make them entirely productive to capital.

            Perhaps then we should return explicitly to the question of literary experimentation at this late moment in the paper.  The question poses the question of how do we distinguish between the genuinely subversive, and the merely experimental?  My response is that I don’t think that the distinction is necessary. Estrangement is created within the logic of capital, linked to the empty homogenous time of the commodity, of socially necessary labor, of capital’s attempt to incorporate everything into it, and at the same time, the immanent fragmentary forms that constantly put it in crisis.  In one sense, these efforts are all failures.  Their fragmentary, inchoate forms have been successfully folded back into the logic of capital, but that process is and can never be complete.  This process is capture neatly by a manifesto of the Nation of Ulysses. “Wherever a sign, symbol or style exists, ideology is inherently present, and thus we perpetually seek out our own language.”[25]  It is not that this process of seeking is inherently joyful or easily libratory, but its process constantly undoes the clean and easy process of reproduction, posing the capacity to produce new forms of life as constant potential within the often banal forms of everyday life, just as the empty form of the commodity contains the seeds for another world in its empty form of domination.

[1] Georg Lukacs, The Historical Novel, trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 44.
[2] This section is drawn from my conference paper produced through the research of my lists.

[3] Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1999), 52.
[4] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991), 24.
[5] Ibid., 34.
[6] Ibid., 35.
[7] Ibid., 25.
[8] Ibid., 70.
[9] With the exception of Jules Verne, Paris of the Twentieth Century, trans. X () Although, it is notable that the novel never was not published until x
[10] Estrangement generally operates on two levels with this literature, at the level of the narrative, and through structures of perspective.
[11] Hugo Hoffmansthal, “Letter to Lord Chandos”
[12] Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 16.
[13] Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 16.
[14] Walt Whitman, Selected Poems 1855-1892: A New Edition (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 15.
[15] Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991), 9-10.
[16] See Claude McKay, Home to Harlem (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987)
[17] Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999),  53.
[18] See Janet Lyon, Manifestoes: Provocations of the Modern (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), particularly Ch. 3+4.  It’s notable that these collective practices ran contrary to the artists obsessive individualism, particularly in the case of Wyndham Lewis.
[19] The early formalists had strong links to the Russian futurist literary movement, particularly the work of Viktor Shklovsky.  It’s important to recognize that the Russian movement has very little to do with the fascination with speed and technology found with the Italian movement, instead they focused on the word, although there are moments in Mayakovsky’s work that might be more resonant with some of the Italians’ themes.
[20] Ibid., 69-70
[21] Ibid., 20
[22] Bertolt Brecht, “Popularity and Reason”, Aesthetics and Politics, ed. Frederic Jameson (London: Verso Books, 2007), 83.
[23] This section is drawn from my conference paper produced through the research of my lists.
[24] I would be remiss to note the profound absences in this paper in dealing with any number of trajectories from sexuality, race, to gendered difference in this paper.  My intention is to make them a stronger focus in my dissertation work.
[25] I wish that I had more time to explore this document, as that it produces a fascinating and unstable combination of ranting speech, critical theory, and the aesthetics of the avant-garde.