Marx’s Purloined Letter
Derrida’s new book is more than an intervention; it wishes to be a provocation, first and foremost of what he calls a new Holy Alliance whose attempt definitively to bury Marx is here answered by a call for a New International. Derrida reminds a younger generation of the complex and constitutive interrelationships between an emergent deconstruction and the Marx-defined debates of the 1950s and 60s in France (he has spoken elsewhere of his personal relationship to Althusser): in this he is only one of a number of significant thinkers in so-called poststructuralism to register a concern with the way in which demarxification in France and elsewhere, having placed the reading of Marx and the themes of a properly Marxian problematic beyond the bounds of respectability and academic tolerance, now threatens to vitiate the activity of philosophizing itself, replacing it with a bland Anglo-American anti-speculative positivism, empiricism or pragmatism. The new book will also speak of the relationship of deconstruction to Marx (as well as of its reserves in the face of an implicit or explicit Marxist ‘philosophy’). Derrida here takes the responsibility of speaking of the world situation, whose novel and catastrophic features he enumerates with all the authority of the world’s most eminent living philosopher. He reads Marx’s texts, in particular offering a remarkable new exegesis of passages from The German Ideology. He develops a new concept, that of ‘spectrality’, and does so in a way which also suggests modifications or inflections in the way in which deconstruction handles concepts in general. And he affirms a persistence of that ‘weak messianic power’ which Benjamin called upon us to preserve and sustain during dark eras. It is a wide-ranging performance, and a thrilling one, particularly as it is punctuated by the great shouts and cries of alarm of the opening scenes of Hamlet on the battlements. I want to summarize the book more narrowly and then to comment in an unsystematic and preliminary way on points I find particularly interesting.
’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’
By the same author:
On Re-reading Life and Fate
Against conventional comparisons with War and Peace, Fredric Jameson offers a path-breaking formal reading of Vassily Grossman’s great fiction of the Battle of Stalingrad. The war against Hitler as crucible for a new collectivity, in which freedom finds itself, or as grounds of social—and thus narrative—totality.
The Aesthetics of Singularity
Can postmodernity still define the present age, or is the concept now obsolescent? In a major retrospect and re-evaluation, Fredric Jameson reflects on the cultural logic of globalization and its temporalities. Art, cuisine and financial derivatives as one-off ideas and events; global politics and counter-possibilities as land-grabs, or occupied space.
Reflections on the occasion of the Rome Lecture and on its themes. Dialectic of the inside and the outside, the surprising role of non-knowledge in subjectivity—and new technologies and labour processes as experiential grounds for transformation in class consciousness.
In Soviet Arcadia
Fredric Jameson on Francis Spufford, Red Plenty. A documentary-cum-fable reconstructs the lost future of the Khrushchev era.
Fredric Jameson on Uwe Tellkamp, Der Turm. Reunified Germany’s best-seller from the former DDR, and the way time was lived in it.
Regieoper, or Eurotrash?
Opera has been globalized, and big-bang productions of Wagner’s music-dramas now outnumber those of all other works. How to frame an aesthetics for this cultural-historical phenomenon—allegorical ideogram strings, or Gesamtkunstwerk as vaudeville?
Marx and Montage
The author of Archaeologies of the Future unearths fragments from ‘ideological antiquity’ in Alexander Kluge’s recent film on Capital. Encounters with Eisenstein’s unrealized equivalent, seeking a cinematic transposition of the commodity fetish.
Fredric Jameson on Christoph Henning, Philosophie nach Marx. Austerities of a German rejection of social philosophy, in the name of the Moor.
The Politics of Utopia
Between the dizzying technologies of the First World, and social disintegrations of the Third, does the concept of utopia still possess a meaning? Fredric Jameson on the resistant negations of fantasy-based systemic critique.
Fear and Loathing in Globalization
Reflections on William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition: a contemporary dialectic of style, as the Verne of cyberspace turns to the branded present and its nauseas.
After the dilapidation of urban modernism, what kinds of city and what forms of architecture await us? The author of The Seeds of Time considers their flowers in the dizzying work of Rem Koolhaas, the mega-developments of the Pearl River Delta and the conceptualization of ‘Junkspace’. Breaking back into history with a battering-ram of the postmodern?