Tuesday, March 8, 2011

forthcoming from Polity Press: Zygmunt Bauman, Helene Cixous, Paul Feyerabend, Michelangelo, Antonio Negri, Alain Robbe-Grillet

Perhaps best known for Modernity and the Holocaust (1989) and Liquid Modernity (2000), Zygmunt Bauman's sociological and ethical inquiry is immensely wide-ranging but touched by the most basic humanism, a primal one.  I'm interested most in his analysis of the outcast, notably Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts (2004).  From class struggles to consumerism, Holocaust to postmodernity and globalization, the circumstances of exclusion and unbelonging have been his foremost concern.

Prolific but never prolix, Helene Cixous' is some of the best theoretico-poietic ecriture, feminine or otherwise.  However, ecriture feminine subverts the self-same symbolic mergers.  The theories of the Jacques, Derrida and Lacan, among others, are renewed and find rapture in the cursive corpus of Cixous. 
Above link to more information on Cixous. 

Paul Feyerabend's Against Method (1975) is a must read, one of the most compelling critiques of scientism, more urgent than ever in our super-systematized times, where singular generality meets up with general singularity.  Feyerabend's works make Thomas Kuhn's "paradigm shifts" and Michel Foucault's epistemes seem like complicit dawdling.  Feyerabend has done more against rationalism as Thomas Szasz has done against psychiatry in such classic works as The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970), and this is laudable.  In this one, Feyerabend takes it back to ancient Greece, which should be exciting reading for me anyway.

Pretty self-explanatory, but should be very educational.

Antonio Negri's thinking, for me, is hit or miss.  I'm not into the Multitude, or the still Marxian premises behind its biopolitics, that is, how the logic of Capital prepares its transcendence in the "socialization of labor" and the "expropriators are expropriated" (Capital, Volume I).  I might tend to agree more with a pessimistic interpretation of Istvan Meszaros' conceptualization of the "self-valorization of capital," which is the diffusion of Gyorgy Lukacs' reification.  It wouldn't be prudent to revive the notion of the vanguard party, but it seems that vanguardist consciousness doesn't need a leader when it has insidiously colonized the Multitude.  This can be related to the turn from domination to hegemony as posited by Jean Baudrillard.  But it's business as usual, and people speculate, and one of the most prized commodities is the takeover of political power.  Singularity and collectivity seem to be flip sides of the same power-mongering coin, how invulnerable and how productively useful.  As we know from Hegelian dialectics, Substance is also Subject, and immanence is easily betrayed in the dual transversal sense by au courant Absolutes.  Even the idea of "freely associated labor" is rather suspect, so damn workerist! 
Above, interesting website, including information and critique of Negri.

I must admit, I'm not a fan of the late Alain Robbe-Grillet, both his writings and films.  He did write the screenplay for Alain Resnais' elusively enticing Last Year in Marienbad (1961), but frankly, I think his own films are terrible, that is, so bad they're good.  However, I'm interested in this new book, because I love Roland Barthes too.  Gilles Deleuze perhaps may be the man of the hour, but Barthes' texts perhaps more properly revealed jouissance, at the same time as they were more programmatic against any doxa, the degree zero of the self's contingency if not a less formalist pure immanence.

I want to add that his wife Catherine is also an accomplished writer.  The only English edition of her works is The Image (1956), under the pseudonym of Jean de Berg.  Like her husband's films, Radley Metzger's insouciant film version (1976) of her novel is an exercise in patience, but more forgivable.  The Image is actually one of the better pieces of pornography by a woman author, but it's not as widely known as Pauline Reage's Story of O (1954), Emmanuelle Arsan's Emmanuelle (1959), or Anais Nin's works, as well as more recently Catherine Breillat's Pornocracy (2001) and Catherine Millet's The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (2002).