northanger (northanger) wrote,

the new subaltern

My position is generally a reactive one. I am viewed by Marxists as too codic, by feminists as too male-identified, by indigenous theorists as too committed to Western Theory. I am uneasily pleased about this.

[+] tronti, refusal, braudel & capitalism
[+] Carnival of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
[+] Spivak (Long Sunday)
[+] Spivak Glossary

the primary text of this symposium is Scattered Speculations on the Question of Value. i've read only a teeny bit of Marx; however, this is where reading Tronti helped a little (LABOUR transformed into WAGE LABOUR = PRODUCTIVE power of LABOUR, &tc). read a few pages, but, since the paper had unfamiliar technical terms & concepts, thought i'd just check out the symposium posts & leave it at that. which made me sad. yesterday, noticed the video lecture & thought that was more accessible. my computer's old & wheezy & can't handle RealPlayer, but the lecture is available at Google Video.

first, i adore her. we lived in Manhattan when i was young & my father taught at Columbia — so there's a soft spot there. also liked the way she talked about herself (I hope you will treat me with indulgence), as if she already knew i had preconceived notions about her (Spivak would not recognize a subaltern if she saw one). when the symposium was first posted i googled & read several things. common word: difficult. while listening to the video realized i accepted, but did not challenge, "difficulty" when first reading Scattered. Spivak helped "clear the air" here, as if to say let me tell you what is "difficult". interestingly, that first day i also did some gematria & since then have been surprised how often she pops up while working on other things. there were also some synchronicities with Gramsci — about three googlings looking for something completely different. this picked up the thread from my altèrants post (subaltern shares the same root).

the main practical idea is Spivak's belief that there is something to learn from the subaltern. for me this is usable in defining a part of consciousness that can be identified as the subaltern. a place to categorize something. the word trajectory had me thinking about NASA and what i experienced during the first Return to Flight mission. my inability to talk about this openly is that it's unrealistic. may be the same reason why, several years ago, i couldn't openly admit that i made a graph from the Star Wars movie logo to keep track of chanting a million daimoku. didn't bother me no one believed i actually chanted one million daimoku. coz if you chanted one million of these thingys you're supposed to get the thing you chanted for. but no, the thing i was ashamed to admit was that i wanted to direct one of the Star Wars movies — it's not realistic. it may be realistic for other people, but not for me.

Spivak had me hitting my desk with both hands when she said poison as medicine (hendoku iyaku! can't find the link, but i have a post about that somewhere). i kinda lost it when she started talking about the weather & had to get up & walk into the kitchen. the subaltern part of my brain (i don't think Spivak would approve of this structure) is trying really hard to explain to myself how i managed to find one celestial pentagram with a hyperstitional sword & discover another one with a space shuttle using numeracy that, top it off, manages to occur two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. shit, i'm damn impressed President Bush declared a state of emergency on 8/27/2005. maybe i should call NASA & ask for the Telepathy Department, just to see what happens. i've read subalternity is about the margin & not the center. astrology & telepathy are not at science's center. i like the idea of the subalternity because it gives me a place to put my "unreal" experience.

ironically, the date Spivak gave this lecture (13-Sep-2004) was around the same time i moved into this place (my first apartment) & i'm watching it for the first time as i'm packing to leave. trajectories.

[+] The Subaltern and the Popular: The Trajectory of the Subaltern in My Work (Google Video)

 • Subaltern, subalternity, subalternism.

 • No one can say, "I am a subaltern" in whatever language.

 • Wonderful feminist brouhaha.

 • The problem of the 21st century is the gender line, from the bottom to the top.

 • There are no subaltern nations.

 • World governance enthusiasts.

 • Recoding and reterritorialization of the U.S. doctrine of manifest destiny.

 • The problem of subjectship and agency.

 • The call to build infrastructure in the colloquial, not the Marxist sense, so that agency would emerge.

 • Unquestioned good.

 • Woman's subject formation was not touched by this reform (suttee), it could not last.

 • The problem with pacifism [...] I would like to be a pacifist, Israel doesn't allow me to be that.

 • The building of infrastructure so that resistance could be recognized was a lesson.

 • I saw agency as institutional validation where a subject formation exceeds the borders of the intending subject, to put it brutally briefly.

 • They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented — Marx mistranslated: they were therefore incapable of asserting their class interest in their own name {German}; to make their interest count. In other words, to have what they are saying be recognized as such, that was the problem that got lost in translation, it's not a question of asserting anything [...] Not in the currency sign system that idea of value (not value in the Marxian sense).

 • The straight as abstract structure and secularism as an impoverished abstraction we must protect.

 • There's a large ethics shaped hole in the Marxist project.

 • The book that's been brewing in me.

 • International civil society, the self-selected moral entrepreneurs who give the people, these days, philanthropy without democracy—at best!—and intervene in the name of (in military intervention) in the name of doing good but worse [...] They use the word ethics to cover over the absence of democratic structure quite regularly.

 • My project has become more and more not to study the subaltern. Always in the sense of cut off from lines of social mobility. But to learn ... from them in order to be able to devise a philosophy of education, that will develop what, for want of a better expression since I don't write about this stuff generalizable phrases don't come immediately, for want of a better phrase I will call, the habits of democratic behavior ... or, rituals of democratic behavior, ... or, intuition of the public sphere.

 • But I would like to say, in a word, in a sentence or two, I could describe it in this way. This seems to be difficult to grasp, but then I'm well known for not being able to make myself clear, so if you don't understand what I'm saying because I'm unnecessarily obscure turgid or abstract—those are my problems, and they are problems—do ask and I will explain at great length. I cannot speak of this at great length right now. This is what it means to me. It means to me, making it possible to create the conditions of possibility for reterminizing oneself, for making oneself—even better—synecdoche, a part of a whole so that one can claim the idea of the state belonging to one, which is what a citizen to an extent is. The state is in the citizen's service. This is hopelessly idealistic, especially in the repressive state, in the current era of globalization where the state is more and more reconfigured as not the agent of redistribution but the age of repression(?). Even if in the original sense it was redistributive.

 • The idea of knowing, the difference between knowing and learning. The difference between describing a card game well, and teaching how to play the game. The difference between describing a card game well and playing well. The difference between describing the card game well and playing well enough to play to lose in order to teach.

 • The transformation of subalternity into property ... Indigenous knowledge into intellectual property ... The conversion of indigenous knowledge into data [unquestioned good]. Again, not something to turn one's back on.

 • The importance of looking to see how the word sustainability was being used when such projects came by. To sustain what?

 • The new subaltern is in a position which is altogether too permeable where the possibility of creating a general will for exploitation in the subaltern is altogether too present. And here, to a certain extent, the impatience of human rights intervention joins hands with what I have just described.

 • In this situation I do have these two ideas about how we must nurture the abstract. Looking at, you see, rather than make a liberation theology of reason, which Marx the organic intellectual of the European enlightenment did do. The public use of reason from below. Rather than go only with that, to recognize by looking so that Marx would say that the commodity has a fetish character; it wears a hieroglyph on its forehead. You read it and—Marx new Hegel—what happens is the Eucharist of course, you transcendentalize it into reason. Not god, not any of that. But reason, and by the use of reason the worker can in fact recognize that he or she is the agent of production through homeopathy acknowledging that the abstracting of labor power was something that they could use poison as medicine, moving toward socialism. So that once again the idea that you, just as you voluntarily do the reterminizing to access the public sphere—it's not a loss of self—the ethical sameness cannot be compromised. It's not a loss of self—one has to be in a position where that subject-agent shift is possible. That's the idea of education in the humanities, and to say that's Marx’s idea that you have ... who will educate the educators?

 • And the idea the worker should be able to see that that commodity, abstract labor power, if used with—rather than some kind of sob story, it's alienating me, etc. —it can be used but it didn't work of course [...] But that notion that there is that kind of homeopathy of self-abstraction, that notion if you take it in with all the subaltern studies stuff that I’ve been saying, if somewhat incoherently because I didn't have time to prepare a proper written text, then you can begin to see that reason is not in fact our master, but the singularity of reason is not something that we should just ignore by saying that there are many different kinds of reasons. The reason is something, the logicality of that structure which is abstract, is contained in fact within all kinds of cultural production which acknowledges alterity, which acknowledges otherness. Because of the fetishization of reason as master we should not think that logic belongs to Europe at all ... Europe alone. One has to wait a little and work a little with people to see that that bottom line structuring is in fact contained within.

 • I'll give you an example [...] The people I work with are incredible weather predictors. Clearly they're not on television and they're not doing the whole world but they're reading the signs. In such a way that it's amazing how they can predict weather to like a day for sure and timing even. On the other hand, so they know what causes this in that learning rather than knowing way. On the other hand, if on the day that I come there is rain after drought—I’m not saying mythological history is wonderful or anything. I'm just talking about the possibility of a kind of subtlety that we deny such people. On the day that I come if there is rain after drought, they will say you brought rain. And they will incorporate it into a song and it will become part of a kind of record, but no one will mistake it for the kind of reason that is used for when predictions are made. We are somehow not capable of allowing this kind of subtlety or suppleness in minds that have not been marked by European institutional learning therefore, even if we go against European institutionalism. So therefore I would want to suggest that, one, secularism to take it away from—secularism is not an episteme. In fact the two 18th century ideas that served us so well, the separation of church and state and also the privatization of religion that served us so well in fact when class systems were in place are not working for this violent world today. That doesn't mean we throw secularism away—that means that we do not mistake secularism for an episteme. Secularism is an impoverished abstract system that must be protected as such. Teaching tolerance is not secularism—teaching tolerance is good, don't teach intolerance—but there are many many examples which would show that you cannot tolerate without non-detranscendentalizing the religion within which you stand. Everything is detranscendentalized and tolerated.

[+] Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak @ Wikipedia

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (born February 24, 1942 ~ Calcutta, West Bengal) is a literary critic and theorist from India. She is best-known for the article "Can the Subaltern Speak?", which is considered a founding text of postcolonialism, and also for her translation of Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology. Spivak currently teaches at Columbia University, though she is a popular speaker, invited to lecture around the world [...] She received an undergraduate degree in English at the University of Calcutta (1959), graduating with first class honours. After this, she completed her Master's in English from Cornell University and then pursued her Ph.D. while teaching at University of Iowa. Her dissertation was on W.B. Yeats, directed by Paul de Man, titled Myself Must I Remake: The Life and Poetry of W.B. Yeats [...] Her recent work, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present, published in 1999, explores how major works of European metaphysics (e.g., Kant, Hegel) not only tend to exclude the subaltern from their discussions, but actively prevent non-Europeans from occupying positions as fully human subjects.

[+] Of Grammatology — Cover design by Omega Clay. Illustration: Thoth, the advocate of Osiris, writing on his palette; from the Papyrus of Hunefer.

[+] Paul de Man — wrote for Nazi-controlled publications in Belgium from 1940 to November 1942 (Spivak born in 1942).

[+] Myself must I remake: The life and poetry of W. B. Yeats

[+] The Beguiling Artiste (Pisces/The Headstrong Horse)

[+] Antonio Gramsci

Italian writer, politician, leader and theorist of Socialism, Communism and Anti-Fascism [...] His father's family was Arbëreshë and probably the family name was related to Gramsh, an Albanian town [...] studied at the University of Turin [...] He found Turin at the time going through a process of industrialization, with the Fiat and Lancia factories recruiting workers from poorer regions. Trade unions became established, and the first industrial social conflicts started to emerge. Gramsci had a close involvement with these developments, frequenting socialist circles as well as associating with Sardinian emigrants, which gave him continuity with his native culture [...] On November 8, 1926 the fascist police arrested Gramsci, despite his parliamentary immunity, and brought him to Regina Coeli, the famous Roman prison [...] He died in Rome at the age of 46, shortly after being released from prison; he is buried in the so-called Protestant Cemetery there [...] Gramsci wrote more than 30 notebooks of history and analysis during his imprisonment. These writings, known as the Prison Notebooks, contain Gramsci's tracing of Italian history and nationalism, as well as some ideas in Marxist theory, critical theory and educational theory associated with his name, such as: Cultural hegemony, Education, Distinction between Political & Civil Society, Absolute Historicism, Critique of Economic Determinism, & Critique of Philosophical Materialism.

Although Gramsci's thought emanates from the organized left, he has become an important figure in current academic discussions within cultural studies and critical theory. Political theorists from the center and the right have also found insight in his concepts; his idea of hegemony, for example, has become widely cited. His influence is particularly strong in contemporary political science, on the subject of the prevalence of neoliberal thinking among political elites, in the form of Neo-gramscianism. His work also heavily influenced intellectual discourse on popular culture and scholarly popular culture studies. His critics charge him with fostering a notion of power struggle through ideas that finds a reflection in recent academic controversies such as political correctness. (see: Arbëreshë, Verdi & Asteroids below).

[+] Arbëreshë

Arbëreshë are Albanians living in southern Italy. These people settled in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries, after the great Albanian hero Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg (Dragon of Albania) died. There was also a second group of emigrés from the Himarë region in Southern Albania, who left after the massacre of some 6000 people who refused to convert to Islam at the orders of Ali Pasha Tepelena. This group constitute most of the ancestors of the inhabitants of the villages of Hora e Arbëreshëvet (piana degli albanesi) and Sëndahstina (santa cristina gelá). The Arbëreshë were able to keep most of their identity so they can clearly be identified as Albanians. However, unlike the majority of Albanians elsewhere, most of whom converted to Islam, the Arbëreshë are mainly Christian Orthodox and Catholics, and perhaps unsurprisingly, their language has been influenced more by Italian than has other Albanian dialects. Their own term for their scattered "nation" is Arbëria.

[+] Giuseppe Verdi

Italian composer. He was the most influential member of the 19th century's Italian School of Opera. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre, some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto. Oftentimes scoffed at by the critics, in his lifetime and today, as catering to the tastes of the common folk, overly simple in chromatic texture and shamelessly melodramatic, Verdi’s masterpieces dominate the standard repertoire a century and a half after their composition [...] In the 1840s, the popularity of Verdi's music coincided with the Risorgimento, the campaign for a unified Italian nation [...] In particular, Nabucco's "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" [...] Milan was still under Austrian occupation and was beginning to consider supporting Victor Emmanuel's effort in Italian reunification, as it afterwards did. Clandestine partisans started therefore plotting to have the then-King of Sardinia conquer Milan. Due to severe Austrian censorship, this campaign was given a codename: "Viva VERDI." Verdi was a secret acronym for Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia, referring to Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy. This enabled nationalists to freely shout their support for Victor Emmanuel, while outsiders assumed they were fans of the composer. Giuseppe Verdi was aware of this use of his name and is supposed to have consented.

[+] La donna è mobile (Italian, Woman is fickle) Woman is unpredictable, like a feather in the wind, she changes her voice, and her thoughts. Always a sweet, pretty face, in tears or in laughter, always lying.

[+] Risorgimento (Italian, Resurgence) Italian unification ... the political and social process that unified disparate countries of the Italian peninsula into the single nation of Italy between the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

[+] Asteroids


[+] The Invaluable (pomegrenade)

La tombe de
Jean Genet

wasn't planning on doing this, but re-read pomegrenade's piece & looked up Genet. also checked textuality (text = what is read; textuality = how it's read). reading Kaplan's apostle of inversion (I was visited by a young man who looked like a bantamweight boxer) i did a google image search to get a young image (how pretty was he?). the caption of one image La tombe de Jean Genet. unfortunately, could not view it (that's the thumbnail), but see it here. another image from Khaldea with Genet's horoscope had me checking astrology: Genet is a Sagittarius / Dog. (i'm a Gemini / Dog; scroll down to get your animal; here to get your western sign; scroll down & get new astrology sign — pretty good).

image search also popped the photo used by Jean-Paul Lozouet. Jahsonic wonderfully categorizes a vocabulary of culture (Genet).

somewhere along the line it occurred to me that i should add this. i remember! googling GENET + TOMB popped When the subaltern speaks by Ferial J. Ghazoul. thought, what if part of the mind (consciousness, thought) is the "Third World"? John Zorn's web tribute via ijeangenet: "Sartre wrote Saint Genet, and Derrida wrote his book Glas the former about Genet the latter in part. Deleuze refers to Genet in an essay he wrote about T.E. Lawrence, and Guattari wrote a charming essay Genet Recaptured." Jean Cocteau anticipated the torrid confessions of Jean Genet. Edward Said speaks (genet, zionism, palestine & arab liberationist thought): "I don’t think we have had a sustained [...] liberationist current of thought throughout the Arab world". Genet on Palestine:

Like his fictional heroes, Genet is always dressing up, acting out; and the one great constant of his life is his refusal to be dominated and determined by his nature and the given social order—locked up, as it were, within his preordained persona. His boys play at being girls, become girls; his maids become mistresses, his blacks wear white masks; and so it goes, good is bad and vice is virtue and betrayal is faith; everything is—in the end quite predictably—turned back to front and upside down. Genet’s career keeps reminding us that the Nietzschean "transvaluation of all values" is, among so much else, an eminently theatrical idea. All of which suggests that Edmund White’s Genet, while providing us with the material we need in order to know what is going on, rather fails to do justice to its comic dimension, as exemplified in the production of Genet’s plays by the (subventioned) National Theater, or in Genet’s statement to the effect that, if ever the Palestinians won out and achieved statehood, he would be obliged to part company with them, since he was implacably opposed to all states.

genet quotes: Crimes of which a people is ashamed constitute its real history. The same is true of man. famous quotes on crime.

Christian Salmon (genet on palestine) — You cite Genet as a writer with a vision of the real. But is a writer's identification with a place of "real life", like Genet's with Palestine or Peter Handke with Serbia, not the most dangerous metaphor of all, replacing real political struggles with an aesthetic vision? :: "The position of Genet on Palestine is a terrible misunderstanding. "Remember," he said, "that you are speaking to a man who has been crushed by the concept of France." Genet was never an intellectual in the French sense, he had nothing in him comparable to Sartre in Cuba or Romain Rolland in Moscow. Above all, he was an artist looking, much as a painter would, for what was authentic in the resistance of men and objects. Genet was not in Palestine due to a political issue. He does not mention revolution, armed struggle, or even the independence of Palestine, but wrote of its reality, presence and integrity."

genet on livejournal: [info]casaconveniente & the rest.

the cosmic prostitute. my toilet was backed up last night, had to get my sister's plunger. the toilet was his refuge. suddenly realized, sitting here—not on the toilet—I AM NOT PACKED! nine days to go. The Screens.

Tags: hopper, spivak, symposium
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