Monday, February 15, 2010

Living In A Pragmaterial World

Tomorrow I'm going to be giving a short spiel at the Chicago MCA on "Heinrich Freidrich Jacobi, Alfred North Whitehead, and the theological libido of time travel." It's part of a program of performance/lectures on philosophical pragmatism. I will be talking about the aspirational dynamism of the aforementioned apologists, St. Paul, and James Cameron, but not about this idea I have of how the history-is-dead consensus of contemporary philosophy has two poles to tend toward: pragmatism and materialism. I posted this on my friend Noah's blog.

It seems to me that the only current philosophical alternatives among your educated power class types are materialism, which sees ideology as central to modern existence, and pragmatism, which sidesteps ideology completely.

Materialists enjoy reterritorializing, redrawing boundaries dissolved by the Industrial Revolution– a chair is not a computer is not a consumer is not a politburo. And Christianity works with this– there is a moral center in the universe, a body is required for resurrection, the last shall be first.

Pragmatists are in harmony with capitalism on the other hand, saying that what works is what is true. There are no clear borders in the world or in the body or in between bodies. This also works with Christianity. There is no clear boundary between the divinity and the humanity of Christ, just as there is no clear distinction between the soul and the body, or between souls, or between the soul and God.

Marxists and conservatives indeed appreciate the former, community activists and hybrid Presidents favor the latter, but each at the expense of denying themselves an empty set, a third term, a hol in the sky.

A writer like Slavoj Zizek aggressively resists lining up with the new pragmatized academitariat. There really is a need for revolution. Lenin is preferable to Habermas. Global capital flows have only underscored the irrelevance of Richard Rorty-type culturalist liberalism. We need ideology. Something he and Frederic Jameson can agree on, although the Frankfurt folks might not approve. Which is not to say that he’s a Christian– the Hegelian Spirit he favors is the one that is also a bone– but the category of transcendence is one he disavows with more than a hint of protesting too much.


  1. zizek is evidence that the hegelian geist is not confined to marxism but postulates a hybrid revolutionary consciousness which has, by examining itself in relation to the world, transcended the material world and made of resistance a completely human essentialist component. he also points to the horror at the rusted heart of neo liberalism: the realisation that false consciousness has doomed generations to a "liberation" which was, and here's where kafka rings in, a form of slavery. fashion is but fascism grooving, and the media component has extended the nazi paradigm to the praetorian guard around apologists like the big O.

  2. Only Communism can save US Capitalism now.