Monday, April 16, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Supplement: Hannah Arendt from The Human Condition

33 -- I R R E V E R S I B I L I T Y  A N D  T H E  P O W E R  T O  F O R G I V E

We have seen that the animal laborans could be redeemed from its predicament of imprisonment in the ever-recurring cycle of the life process, of being forever subject to the necessity of labor and consumption, only through the mobilization of another human capacity, the capacity for making, fabricating, and producing of homo faber, who as a toolmaker not only eases the pain and trouble of laboring but also erects a world of durability. The redemption of life, which is sustained by labor, is worldliness, which is sustained by fabrication. We saw furthermore that homo faber could be redeemed from his predicament of meaninglessness, the "devaluation of all values," and the impossibility of finding valid standards in a world determined by the category of means and ends, only through the interrelated faculties of action and speech, which produce meaningful stories as naturally as fabrication produces use objects. If it were not outside the scope of these considerations, one could add the predicament of thought to these instances; for thought, too, is unable to "think itself" out of the predicaments which the very activity of thinking engenders. What in each of these instances saves man—man qua animal laborans, qua homo faber, qua thinker— is something altogether different; it comes from the outside—not, to be sure, outside of man, but outside of each of the respective activities. From the viewpoint of the animal laborans, it is like a miracle that it is also a being which knows of and inhabits a world; from the viewpoint of homo faber, it is like a miracle, like the revelation of divinity, that meaning should have a place in this world.
The case of action and action's predicaments is altogether different. Here, the remedy against the irreversibility and unpredictability of the process started by acting does not arise out of another and possibly higher faculty, but is one of the potentialities of action itself. The possible redemption from the predicament of irreversibility—of being unable to undo what one has done though one did not, and could not, have known what he was doing—is the faculty of forgiving. The remedy for unpredictability, for the chaotic uncertainty of the future, is contained in the faculty to make and keep promises. The two faculties belong together in so far as one of them, forgiving, serves to undo the deeds of the past, whose "sins" hang like Damocles' sword over every new generation; and the other, binding oneself through promises, serves to set up in the ocean of uncertainty, which the future is by definition, islands of security without which not even continuity, let alone durability of any kind, would be possible in the relationships between men.
Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer's apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell. Without being bound to the fulfillment of promises, we would never be able to keep our identities; we would be condemned to wander helplessly and without direction in the darkness of each man's lonely heart, caught in its contradictions and equivocalities —a darkness which only the light shed over the public realm through the presence of others, who confirm the identity between the one who promises and the one who fulfils, can dispel. Both faculties, therefore, depend on plurality, on the presence and acting of others, for no one can forgive himself and no one can fed bound by a promise made only to himself; forgiving and promising enacted in solitude or isolation remain without reality and can signify no more than a role played before one's self.
Since these faculties correspond so closely to the human condition of plurality, their role in politics establishes a diametrically different set of guiding principles from the "moral" standards inherent in the Platonic notion of rule. For Platonic rulership, whose legitimacy rested upon the domination of the self, draws its guiding principles—those which at the same time justify and limit power over others—from a relationship established between me and myself, so that the right and wrong of relationships with others are determined by attitudes toward one's self, until the whole of the public realm is seen in the image of "man writ large," of the right order between man's individual capacities of mind, soul, and body. The moral code, on the other hand, inferred from the faculties of forgiving and of making promises, rests on experiences which nobody could ever have with himself, which, on the contrary, are entirely based on the presence of others. And just as the extent and modes of self-rule justify and determine rule over others—how one rules himself, he will rule others—thus the extent and modes of being forgiven and being promised determine the extent and modes in which one may be able to forgive himself or keep promises concerned only with himself.
Because the remedies against the enormous strength and resiliency inherent in action processes can function only under the condition of plurality, it is very dangerous to use this faculty in any but the realm of human affairs. Modern natural science and technology, which no longer observe or take material from or imitate processes of nature but seem actually to act into it, seem, by the same token, to have carried irreversibility and human unpredictability into the natural realm, where no remedy can be found to undo what has been done. Similarly, it seems that one of the great dangers of acting in the mode of making and within its categorical framework of means and ends lies in the concomitant self-deprivation of the remedies inherent only in action, so that one is bound not only to do with the means of violence necessary for all fabrication, but also to undo what he has done as he undoes an unsuccessful object, by means of destruction. Nothing appears more manifest in these attempts than the greatness of human power, whose source lies in the capacity to act, and which without action's inherent remedies inevitably begins to overpower and destroy not man himself but the conditions under which life was given to him.
The discoverer of the role of forgiveness in the realm of human affairs was Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that he made this discovery in a religious context and articulated it in religious language is no reason to take it any less seriously in a strictly secular sense. It has been in the nature of our tradition of political thought (and for reasons we cannot explore here) to be highly selective and to exclude from articulate conceptualization a great variety of authentic political experiences, among which we need not be surprised to find some of an even elementary nature. Certain aspects of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth which are not primarily related to the Christian religious message but sprang from experiences in the small and closely knit community of his followers, bent on challenging the public authorities in Israel, certainly belong among them, even though they have been neglected because of their allegedly exclusively religious nature. The only rudimentary sign of an awareness that forgiveness may be the necessary corrective for the inevitable damages resulting from action may be seen in the Roman principle to spare the vanquished (parcere subiectis)—a wisdom entirely unknown to the Greeks—or in the right to commute the death sentence, probably also of Roman origin, which is the prerogative of nearly all Western heads of state….
Crime and willed evil are rare, even rarer perhaps than good deeds… But trespassing is an everyday occurrence which is in the very nature of action's constant establishment of new relationships within a web of relations, and it needs forgiving, dismissing, in order to make it possible for life to go on by constantly releasing men from what they have done unknowingly. Only through this constant mutual release from what they do can men remain free agents, only by constant willingness to change their minds and start again can they be trusted with so great a power as that to begin something new. In this respect, forgiveness is the exact opposite of vengeance, which acts in the form of re-acting against an original trespassing, whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed, everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to take its unhindered course. In contrast to revenge, which is the natural, automatic reaction to transgression and which because of the irreversibility of the action process can be expected and even calculated, the act of forgiving can never be predicted; it is the only reaction that acts in an unexpected way and thus retains, though being a reaction, something of the original character of action. Forgiving, in other words, is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked it and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. The freedom contained in Jesus' teachings of forgiveness is the freedom from vengeance, which encloses both doer and sufferer in the relentless automatism of the action process, which by itself need never come to an end.
The alternative to forgiveness, but by no means its opposite, is punishment, and both have in common that they attempt to put an end to something that without interference could go on endlessly. It is therefore quite significant, a structural element in the realm of human affairs, that men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and that they are unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable. This is the true hallmark of those offenses which, since Kant, we call "radical evil" and about whose nature so little is known, even to us who have been exposed to one of their rare outbursts on the public scene. All we know is that we can neither punish nor forgive such offenses and that they therefore transcend the realm of human affairs and the potentialities of human power, both of which they radically destroy wherever they make their appearance. Here, where the deed itself dispossesses us of all power, we can indeed only repeat with Jesus: "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea."
Perhaps the most plausible argument that forgiving and acting are as closely connected as destroying and making comes from that aspect of forgiveness where the undoing of what was done seems to show the same revelatory character as the deed itself. Forgiving and the relationship it establishes is always an eminently personal (though not necessarily individual or private) affair in which what was done is forgiven for the sake of who did it…. [L]ove, although it is one of the rarest occurrences in human lives, indeed possesses an unequaled power of self-revelation and an unequaled clarity of vision for the disclosure of who, precisely because it is unconcerned to the point of total unworldliness with what the loved person may be, with his qualities and shortcomings no less than with his achievements, failings, and transgressions….  Respect, not unlike the Aristotelian philia politike, is a kind of "friendship" without intimacy and without closeness; it is a regard for the person from the distance which the space of the world puts between us, and this regard is independent of qualities which we may admire or of achievements which we may highly esteem. Thus, the modern loss of respect, or rather the conviction that respect is due only where we admire or esteem, constitutes a clear symptom of the increasing depersonalization of public and social life. Respect, at any rate, because it concerns only the person, is quite sufficient to prompt forgiving of what a person did, for the sake of the person. But the fact that the same who, revealed in action and speech, remains also the subject of forgiving is the deepest reason why nobody can forgive himself; here, as in action and speech generally, we are dependent upon others, to whom we appear in a distinctness which we ourselves are unable to perceive.
Closed within ourselves, we would never be able to forgive ourselves any failing or transgression because we would lack the experience of the person for the sake of whom one can forgive.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Supplemental Reading for Our Marx Lecture:

In his 1888 Preface to The Communist Manifesto, Frederick Engels attributes to Marx a “proposition which, in my opinion, is destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology[.]” This proposition is as follows:

[I]n every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiters and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms a series of evolutions in which, nowadays, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class -– the proletariat –- cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class –- the bourgeoisie -– without, at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.
 ***

To the citizen Maurice Lach√Ętre

Dear Citizen,

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of “Das Kapital” as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

Believe me, dear citizen, Your devoted, Karl Marx
London, March 18, 1872


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our Syllabus



CS 500A-01 (2574):
Introduction to Critical Theory Spring, 2018, San Francisco Art Institute

Instructor: Dale Carrico, dcarrico@sfai.edu; ndaleca@gmail.com
Course Blog: http://introcritsfai.blogspot.com/
Fridays 1-3:45, Chestnut MCR
Rough Basis for Grade: Att/Part, 20%, Presentation, 20%; Final Paper 12-15pp. 60%.

Course Description:

"The philosophers hitherto have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." -- Karl Marx

"Feminists are no more aware of different things than other people; they are aware of the same things differently. Feminist consciousness, it might be ventured, turns a 'fact' into a 'contradiction.'" -- Sandra Lee Bartky

"Artists inhabit the magical universe." -- William Burroughs

This course is a chronological and thematic survey of key texts in critical and cultural theory. A skirmish in the long rivalry of philosophy and rhetoric yielded a turn in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud into the post-philosophical discourse of critical theory. In the aftermath of world war, critical theory took a biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault -- a turn still reverberating in work on socially legible bodies by writers like Haraway, Spivak, Butler, and Puar. And with the rise of the global precariat and climate catastrophe, critical theory is now turning again in STS (science and technology studies) and EJC (environmental justice critique) to articulate the problems and promises of an emerging planetarity. Theories of the fetish define the turn of the three threshold figures of critical theory -- Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (commodity, sexuality, and ressentimentality) -- and fetishisms ramify thereafter in critical accounts from Benjamin (aura), Adorno (culture industry), Barthes (myth), Debord (spectacle), Klein (logo), and Harvey ("tech") to Mulvey and Mercer (the sexed and raced gaze). We think of facts as found not made, but facts are made to be found and, once found, made to be foundational. Let us pursue the propositions that fetishes are figures we take to yield false facts, while facts are figures we have fetishized to yield paradoxical truths.

                Provisional Schedule of Meetings

                Week One | January 19
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction
                Week Two | January 26 (Drop/Add Deadline)
Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle,
Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns
Immanuel Kant,
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
W.E.B. DuBois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings
--supplemental Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism
                Week Three | February 2
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense {Co-facilitation: Eleanor Schnarr} 
 Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny  {Co-facilitation: Hayley Jensen}
--supplemental Selections from The Gay Science       
                Week Four | February 9
Marx on
The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital
--supplemental Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach and Marx on Idealism and Materialism
                Week Five | February 16
Sigmund Freud,
Fetishism{Co-facilitation: Mika Sperling} 
Excerpts from Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2,  Storytelling; {Co-facilitation: Kat Brown}  
3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis. {Co-facilitation: Michael Polakof}
                Week Six | February 23
Walter Benjamin,
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility {Co-facilitation: Arthur Gies}
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry {Co-facilitation: Ben Cornish}
--supplemental Benjamin, A Short History of Photography and Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered
                Week Seven | March 2 (midterm grading period ends)
Roland Barthes,
Mythologies {Co-facilitation: Whitney Humphreys}
--supplemental Daniel Harris, The Futuristic
                Week Eight | March 9
Guy Debord,
Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein,
Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo {Co-facilitation: Laura Pucchini}
--supplemental Naomi Klein, Patriarchy Gets Funky
                Week Nine | March 12-16 | Spring Break
                Week Ten | March 23
William Burroughs, Immortality
{Co-facilitation: Yourong Zhao} 
Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference {Co-facilitation: Yiling Zeng}
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence  {Co-facilitation: Heng Yang}
 --supplemental William Burroughs, On Coincidence and Hannah Arendt, Action and the Miracle of Forgiveness
                Week Eleven | March 30
Frantz Fanon, Selections from
Black Skin, White Masks
Laura Mulvey,
Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema {Co-facilitation: David Boo} 
Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorpe {Co-facilitation: Sami Cutrona} 
                 Week Twelve | April 6 (last day to withdraw with a "W")
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish,
Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism {Co-facilitation: Haley Toyama and Stephen Zuo} 
Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? {Co-facilitation: Sophia Cook}
Michel Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life {Co-facilitation: Yangyi Chen}
Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics
                Week Thirteen | April 13 (April 9-13 MFA Reviews)
                Week Fourteen | April 20
Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from
Undoing Gender {Co-facilitation: Taylor Shell}
Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs {Co-facilitation: Sae Yong Lee}
The Combahee River Collective Statement {Co-facilitation: Stan Song}
Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto
                Week Fifteen | April 27
David Harvey
Fetishism of Technology {Co-facilitation: Wenzhe Wang}
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space {Co-facilitation: Layla Dong}
CS Lewis
Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
                Week Sixteen | May 4
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Bruno Latour,
To Modernise Or Ecologise?
Gayatri Spivak, Theses on Planetarity

Course Objectives:
 

I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; the postwar biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault; and the emerging post-colonial, post-international, post-global planetarity of theory in an epoch of digital networked media formations, anthropogenic climate catastrophe, and intersectional associations.
 

II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Agency, Alienation, Aura, Cisheteronormativity, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Facticity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Intersectionality, Judgment, Normativity, Performance, Planetarity, Post-Colonialism, Queerness, Race, Recognition, Resistance, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality, White Supremacy.
 

III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Justice.
 

IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Course Policies and Other Information


Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides free tutoring to all SFAI students on any assignment or project. Because everyone benefits from discussing and developing their work in an individualized setting, SFAI recommends that all students make use of the Academic Resource Center.

Students can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting https://tutortrac.sfai.edu (username is the first part of your SFAI email address; password is your last name). The Center is open throughout the semester (beginning after the add/drop period) from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday in the lower level of the Chestnut Street campus (at the Francisco Street entrance), with extended hours in the Residence Halls and at the Graduate Campus. Students are also welcome to drop by the Center any time during open hours to make use of the ARC’s writing reference library, computers, and study spaces.

Disability Accommodations

SFAI has a commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; to provide equality of access for qualified students with disabilities; and to provide accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services that will specifically address those functional limitations of the disability which adversely affects equal educational opportunity. SFAI will assist qualified students with disabilities in securing such appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. The Accessibility Services Office at SFAI aims to promote self-awareness, self determination, and self-advocacy for students through our policies and procedures.
In the case of any complaint related to disability matters, a student may access the student grievance procedures; however, complaints regarding requests for accommodation are resolved pursuant to Section IV – Process for Requests for Accommodations: Eligibility, Determination and Appeal.

The Accessibility Services Office is located on the Chestnut Campus in the Student Affairs Office and can be reached at accessiblity@sfai.edu.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual, artistic, and personal integrity of SFAI. At SFAI we value all aspects of the creative process, freedom of expression, risk-taking, and experimentation that adhere to the fundamental value of honesty in the making of one’s academic and studio work and in relationship to others and their work. Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic dishonesty. If a student is unclear about appropriate academic conduct in relationship to a particular situation, assignment, or requirement, the student should consult with the instructor of the course, Department Chair, Program Directors, or the Dean of Students.

Forms of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words, ideas, or information. At SFAI academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation (6.1; MLA Handbook, Joseph Gibaldi ch.2). Students are advised to seek out this guideline in the Academic Support Center, to ask faculty when they are in doubt about standards, and to recognize they are ultimately responsible for proper citation. In the studio, appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention complicate attempts to codify forms of acknowledgment and are often defined by disciplinary histories and practices and are best examined, with the faculty, in relationship to the specific studio course.

Cheating

Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized information including: looking at or using information from another person’s paper/exam; buying or selling quizzes, exams, or papers; possessing, referring to, or employing opened textbooks, notes, or other devices during a quiz or exam. It is the responsibility of all students to consult with their faculty, in a timely fashion, concerning what types of study aids and materials are permissible in their specific course.

Falsification and Fabrication

Falsification and fabrication are the use of identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the faculty involved, or the use of identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the later course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized by their faculty ton do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

Unfair academic advantage is interference—including theft, concealment, defacement or destruction of other students’ works, resources, or material—for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage.

Noncompliance with Course Rules

The violation of specific course rules as outlined in the syllabus by the faculty or otherwise provided to the student.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theses Drawn from Planetarity

The following is from "Planetarity," Chapter Three of Death of a Discipline by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, published in 2003 by the Columbia University Press and based on the Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory she delivered in May 2000. The following excerpts amount to just a few pages from a much longer text and are divided (by me) into numbered theses -- most of them shorn from the context of specific close textual readings that give them their specific vitality -- but each one of which comments in this form on key themes from our course.

One

The meaning of the figure is undecidable, and yet we must attempt to dis-figure it, read the logic of the metaphor. We know that the figure can and will be literalized in yet other ways. All around us is the clamor for the rational destruction of the figure, the demand for not clarity but immediate comprehensibility by the ideological average. This destroys the force of literature as a cultural good… [T]o learn to read is to learn to dis-figure the undecidable figure into a responsible literality, again and again. It is my belief that initiation into cultural explanation is… a training in reading.

Two

I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere. In the gridwork of electronic capital, we achieve that abstract ball covered in latitudes and longitudes, cut by virtual lines, once the equator and the tropics and so on, now drawn by the requirements of Geographical Information Systems. To talk planet-talk by way of unexamined environmentalism, referring to an undivided "natural" space rather than a differentiated political space, can work in the interest of this globalization… The globe is on our computers. No one lives there. It allows us to think we can aim to control it. The planet is in the species of alterity, belonging to another… and yet we inhabit it, on loan…. When I invoke the planet I think of the effort required to figure the (im)possibility of this undrived intuition.

Three

To be human is to be intended toward the other. W provide for ourselves transcendental figurations of… this animating gift: mother, nation, god, nature. These are names of alterity, some more radical than others. Planet-thought opens up to embrace an inexhaustible taxonomy of such names… If we imagine ourselves as… planetary creatures rather than global entities, alterity remains underived from us; it is not our dialectical negation, it contains us as much as it flings us away… We must persistently educate ourselves into this peculiar mindset.

Four

One will have to look out for what Raymond Williams calls the preemergent around the corner, suppressed by a specifically metropolitan moment that emphasizes the uneven and asymmetrical global digital divide. The "preemergent" leads us toward a "structure of feeling." … But thinking of institutional attitudes to be fostered by pedagogy, we do not need to tap those modes, we need only remember them. The altered attitudes toward language learning, areas versus nation-states, figure versus rational expectations… can no doubt be plotted as a "structure of feeling," if that is the language we prefer. The scenario that I am constructing would suggest that the dominant figuring of "prehistory" as cyberpresent or science fiction adventure would interfere with the emergence of the figuration of an undecidable planetary alterity.

Five

The country… is not simply the prenational as opposed to the national. It is also the… mass of the national, to which the blood rushes first and that becomes continuous with the exchange of the Earth. The Earth is the paranational image that can substitute for international and can perhaps provide, today, a displaced site for the imagination of planetarity. The choice of the blood rushing back as the first move, the description of the rural as a specifically national mass, and the inclusion of the trade-related word "redistribution" … seeks to undo the contradiction between the national and the rural.

Six

Just as socialism at its best would persistently and repeatedly wrench capital away frm capitalism, so must the new Comparative Literature persistently and repeatedly undermine and undo the definitive tendency of the dominant to appropriate the emergent… Training in such persistent and repetitive gestures comes, necessarily, in the classroom… This is not an easy "positional skepticism of postmodernist literary and cultural studies," but something to worked through in the interest of yoking the humanities, however distantly, with however few guarantees, to a just world… If we want to compete with the hard "science"(s) and the social sciences at their hardest as "human science," we have already lost, as one loses institutional competition. In the arena of humanities as the uncoercive rearrangement of desire, he who wins loses.

Seven

In this era of global capital triumphant, to keep responsibility alive in the reading and teaching of the textual is at first sight impractical. It is, however, the right of the textual to be so responsible, responsive, answerable. The "planet" is, here, as perhaps always, a catachresis for inscribing collective responsibility as right. Its alterity, determining experience, is mysterious and discontinuous -- an experience of the impossible. It is such collectivities that must be opened up with the question "How many are we?" when cultural origin is detranscendentalized into fiction -- the toughest task in the diaspora.