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<eyebeam><blast> transference




Dear Carlos and all the others -

Thanks for your reaction. First let me say that perhaps like many who
write late at night I occasionally get a little excited, and the danger
(as well as some of the interest?) of this medium is that thoughts can
go vastly public without the delay-time that I, a net-novice, am used to
having before publication. This is a way of apologizing if my rhetorical
excess has caused confusion, because in fact its target was not
particularly you and certainly not Bracha, whose comments I found very
insightful and tried to echo in a particular way at the end of my post.

That said, I was of course trying to provoke people in the forum on 2
themes:

First, what I consider an intellectually lazy and politically dubious
postmodern exaltation of the simulacrum, which I think vitiated certain
aspects of Situationism and has eroded a lot of the critical potential
of cultural discourse in the States and in France over the past twenty
years;

And second, a kind of vanguardism which, in arguing for the abandonment
of what it sees as the privilege of aesthetics, tends press for a
reduction to purely materialist and strategic arguments, abandoning the
possibility to build on those institutional social spaces in which the
long effort to construct alternatives to capitalist modernity can still
be pursued (the museum being only one of those spaces, one of the most
material ones  I also see institutions as mental frameworks).

On both these accounts I was expecting to hear something from Brad Brace
and Brett Stalbaum, both of whose positions seem to me to verge on what
I critique, and yet also to go beyond it in ways that have not yet been
made explicit enough for me to grasp.

As to the question of transference, that interests me quite a lot, and
perhaps like Bracha (or perhaps very differently!) I'm wondering how to
make transference work socially through the net and other artistic
media, so that its objects - which, the psychoanalysts say, are always
other people than the ones being addressed - become conscious and are
identified. I would say it's not at all automatic, even rare. I'm
beginning to think that contemporary culture is largely characterized by
the denial of oppression and exploitation, resulting in very contorted,
convoluted social and artistic forms - like Perec showed in his novel La
disparition, a novel built entirely of laboriously turned sentences
which systematically avoid the most common letter in the French
language, the e. I would like to see this kind of subject dealt with
more deeply, and publically, in institutions that promote some kind of
responsibility to a sustained conversation, so as to reach the point
where certain realities can be named again.

Does the ghostliness of which you speak participate in a denial? I
certainly do not say it does, and could not say so, as I don't know your
concerns or production well enough.

Finally, you speak of a neoconservative tone in what I wrote. As I get
more and more interested in returning to Marxist thought, with all the
stodgy and unsubtle terms of its economic critique, and also in
measuring exactly what is being lost, in terms of political agency, with
the dismantling of the nation-state, I know that the ghost in my little
machine is not exactly neoconservatism but occasionally an inertial
failure to make important distinctions in ways that federate rather than
alienate. You can call me on that failure anytime.

Best regards,

Brian


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