Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unemployed Negativity on Treme and Negri

I've been catching up with my blog subscription/RSS feed list over the last few days, and imagine my surprise when, searching through Jason Read's Unemployed Negativity, I found his recent remarks on Treme while I was looking for his review of Antonio Negri's recent Spinoza et nous (his third book on Spinoza). I thought the latter would be of some interest, as I've been thinking about reading something by Negri again (this always falters due to the amount of Rancière/Sartre/Marx/Hegel that I've stacked in the 'to read' pile). Read writes:
Negri’s little book, a series of essays on Spinoza covering democracy, Spinoza and Heidegger, and a sociology of the affects, is presented as both a defense of his particular interpretation of Spinoza, which began with The Savage Anomaly, and of what is stake in the general turn to Spinoza. With respect to the latter, Negri argues that the return to Spinoza should be given the conspicuous date of 1968. This is its date in intellectual history, following the publication of Matheron and Deleuze’s studies, but it also places it within the post-68 crisis of Marxism and transformation of capital. As Negri argues, the crisis of Marxism opened the turn to Spinoza.
While you are there, check out his remarks on the first season of Treme. I recently watched Treme (after, surprise, surprise, watching The Wire), and I think it is a remarkable portrayal of tragedy and joy, which is not something I often say about television shows. By the first episode, which a few of my friends found to be a bit long, I was hooked by the music, which is front and center in the narrative. Here's Jason again:
Treme is very much about New Orleans, about its cultural, geographical, and historical specificity. [...] the first show was bleak, tragic even, in its outlook. While the second has preserved much of Simon’s skepticism [from The Wire] of American government and capital, illustrated by the massive failure of every institution that became synonymous with Katrina, it has moments of pure joy, culinary and musical, the likes of which are never seen on television.[...]

[He continues:] Treme is mostly about people who are outsiders, who function outside of institutions, at least official ones. The police, politicians, and reporters are still there, but they have become part of the background. What has moved to the foreground are musicians, “Indian chiefs,” chefs, and professors, all of whom are not so much outside of institutions, but outside of those institutions that are central in deciding the fate of post-Katrina New Orleans. We might argue that they are outside of institutions, but central to culture. 

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