Friday, September 26, 2008

Late Capitalism

I figure we can truly Emphasize the pun on that phrase now; Late Capitalism. The obituary, however, was written long ago. I've had the feeling, since the debunked Soviet State, that capitalism wasn't far behind. The dissociation between accountability and institution undermines the thesis of credit. I've attempted to study economics on my own, but philosophy has always come first. With an uncited heuristic, however, I'd like to say this: the statement that "the market is not functioning properly" (google it! google it!) furthers my thesis of our valuing stimulus over response. It is not so much that the market is not functioning properly, than we are not responding properly, that is, we lack the sensibility to understand the system changes that the economic model may not support. There's an organizational principle that we fail to grasp and continue to fail while grasping every century or so. The economy is a measure of human behavior, and something in our behavior has changed. I believe it lies in our concept of subjectivity and individualism. I'm getting there. I'm getting there. It got me here, so far. Unlike the economy, I hope not to fall so far that my progress is nothing but recovery of lost memory.

Both morality and economics depend on a standard of measurement in values; the value of actions and the value of objects. The cultural sythesis between economic structure and morality involves the inverse of the Hegelian mutual recognition of freedom; the conditions by which we are permitted pass outside of labor bondage and enter freedom (freedom to choose a vocation, freedom to limit choose, freedom to purchase, freedom to limit labor), as well as the conditions by which we may maintain that freedom. The underlying condition of this freedom, freedom at birth, reifies itself upon the stances of the political parties on abortion. Within the nature or nurture debate, the kernel of truth lies within the mutual conflict between these oppositions upon a single focus: in order to support our innate right to freedom (in actuality the threat of bondage), we must be born free, with equal rights which should support equal opportunity, etc. etc. However, the actualization towards freedom first involves an initiation into a belief system (free market capitalism) and then a form of self measurement within that system.

The system assumes the threat of lost liberty, of freedom limited by non-participation motivates the individual. The motivation of anxiety works no less than it did in the former GDR; the alienation though of another kind. Non-participation occurs not only buy one’s individual choices, but also of a community’s evaluation of one’s position within their given system. This polarizes the critic with the delima: to openly question the system I risk the threat of non-participation and the collapse of possible freedoms. Only now does the threat of the system’s collapse that the converse comes to light: if I do not question the system I risk the loss of my potential and current freedoms. The direction of questioning should direct itself towards a historical examination of values, a geneology of both valuing of objects (property, commodity), and the valuing of actions (moralities, labor). One value left the bartering system, the abstraction of exchange allowed for the possibility of absent accountability. The deviation of accountability from institution is the process at work here. A hyper alienation from the processes of our daily lives. The solution lies beyond our capacity for abstract perception, or does it? Seems I need to write a grant proposal. How naive.

Oh yes! A very facinating note I thought of while on a caffine high; 1764 (War of the Regulation) or 1789 (French Rev.)(60, 80), Revolutions of 1848,(80) Great Depression of 1927, (80) The Financial Crisis 2008. Naomi Klein, anyone? An eighty year cycle of social opportunity for social change? I hate to quantify what seems qualitative in study, but the evidence of a social cycle in our contemprary measure seems possible. Who ever held the meteorologist accountable? Huh?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forget Zizek, by Slavoj Zizek

In light of recent events (the demythification of the fiat money system as reified nihlism and yet another crisis response that explicates further the inability for our social structure to observe subtlety as signs of a system ), Zizek studies move to the fore.

For two years now in the paid parking lot infront of the Galleria, a crime has taken place everynight. No. A crime has taken place each night I work. This is not a coincidence. Circumstance introduced this criminal pattern to me. This parking lot stands at ground level, over the garage parking and provides greater convinience; there are no lines to wait for parking as in the garage, and most importantly there is not a designation between customer parking areas (nearer entrances to the Galleria) and employee parking areas (available as the last possible stop in the line for parking). The parking at ground level, positioned "above" the garage parking designtates people not by vocation or function, but as participants of a very specific and isolated act; paying the kiosk, or not paying the kiosk (employee/non-employee). I chose to go where they pay, where my job presented to prohibition on my non-economic decisions outside of the physical workplace.

I resented the curtailment of my right to park where I pleased based on the fact of my employment. As an employee of the service industry, I understand the dictum of the customer first (an overinflated value that acts as perversely socially as economic organization through false statements), yet I participate in this role in as limited a manner as possible, and negotiate its terms as subtlely and forcefully as possible. I moved to the bar in order to serve people on a much more limited basis (four seats available, standing room 2 or 3 deep only on limited occasions) and under strangely augmented rights on account of my title as barkeep rather than server.

Despite the fact that I encourage recognition of all interactions during my shifts as interactions between people prior to interactions limited by social economic roles, it nevertheless limits my identity in this negotiation to that of subordinate. This binary system, however, is fragile. I can interpret the silence of those around an irrate customer as silence of dissent of their entitlement, and communicate this translation of silence to the customer with indifferent disbelief, dead stare and eat shit grin. I am subordinated through the restraint of my full reaction, just as their actions are preconditioned by a pressumed social code whereby the individual may occupy the claim: I am spending money. I may behave as I please.

I am not spending money and I may behave as I please.

As I stated earlier, circumstance introduced to me this criminal act. My restaurant closes long after the mall closes, and my duties conclude long after that. The ambulatory security systems sleep at this time; a bolt locks the cage of golf carts, their rotating blue lights dim. Only the occasional guard passes aboard their two wheel segway, the kitsch soundtrack to the ice rank ominously missing. The only contact with authority is one which you provide the contact; the green button at the exit of the paid parking, a lane which is blocked by a black and white diagonally painted board that lifts once you have inserted your paid ticket. One evening, I pressed the green button.

"Yes. I didn't pay for my parking, and the doors to the mall are locked."
"The door all the way to the left is unlocked. You can enter and pay the kiosk there."

"The door is locked."
"I assure you, Sir, the door is not locked."
I am a paying customer and I may behave as I like.
"It is."
"Okay. Return to the door and I'll send someone to unlock the door for you."

"Security. Hello?"

I have seen the morning evidence of the night before. The splinters on ground, the two teenagers inserting a new board through the iron grip of the gate. The repairs are minimal and cheap. I find this act too overt, tasteless. Instead, that night, when the security officer failed to meet me at the door, by lifting the board over the car from my open window, I left the parking lot without paying. I've carried on with this act for two years. I believe that the only reason that I haven't been caught is that the other employees, security included, also do not recognize their loss of right to behave as they please.

Monday, September 22, 2008

“Who am I to myself? Just one of my sensations.”

Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, A Factless Autobiography, 138.

In “Giving an Account of Oneself”, Judith Butler aligns the failure of memory to the opacity of the self. Trauma, either as an event in adulthood or as the inability for one to possess agency while being acted upon as an infant (Laplanche), incites the self into an incapacity to either give an account of the event or to comprehend the structures saturated into consciousness through na├»ve observation. Due to the incapacity of absolute memory accessible to the self, the self remains opaque to the “I” or the “me”. Yet, must absolute memory dictate self-knowledge? and are the primary events of childhood (outside of critical periods that mark attachment, speech, motor skill development) as essential as claimed by psychoanalysis?

The intuition involved in transference, in seeking out structures that mirror early home life, astounds me when I realize their existence in my present life. However, once these structures are realized, a break in the pattern occurs as the self, which was obscured or compartmentalized, structurally melds with the conscious self. Once this event occurs we immediately become opaque to ourselves anew. A new system becomes possible yet remains outside our capacity to observe it. Freud considered this event a counter-cathaxis, or a repressive desire by the subconscious. Perhaps the catharsis which occurs following realization briefly suspends the system, and the only opportunity for existence of the mythological subject occurs within this joy of sublimation. Is this renewed opacity a direct result of the learning of structure prior to comprehending it or simply an interaction with a system independent of memory, where function preceeds understanding, where self-knowledge exists as luxury rather than as necessity?

If we take Pessoa’s notion of the narrative of self as sensation itself rather than a perceiving body, perhaps the mind then acts as a sensory organ of structure, and identity acts no more than as a signal of our position within that structure. Anticipating a repetition of structure, we are geared towards a reaction to that structure, although our reactions no longer fit the situation. The adaptive reuse of morality upon new subjects allows for the social to renew old stimuli in order to not require a readjustment of reactions. The stimulus is valued over the response.