Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Symposium Reviews

The most recent review to be published on the CSCP website is Nikolay Karkov's review of Maurizio Lazzarato's The Making of Indebted Man. Karkov writes:
Central to the text, which reads more like a manifesto than a footnote-heavy monograph, is an examination of the problematic of debt, or, more generally, of what Lazzarato would call the “creditor-debtor relationship.” Lazzarato reads that relationship as both an anthropological invariant (where, following Nietzsche, he suggests that the paradigm of the social lies in credit, rather than exchange or even production), and as a historically specific phenomenon (which, in his reading, defines the neoliberal condition). Still, the book’s focus is on the latter, the historical specificity of the debt and the “debt economy,” which Lazzarato examines in much detail and with impressive insight. In his view, the debt economy has recently absorbed the “new economy,” the knowledge and information economy, or what some on the left have also called “cognitive capitalism.” It is also inseparable from the production of a new subjective figure, that of the “indebted man.” Blurring the divide between workers and the unemployed, consumers and producers, and retirees and welfare recipients, the indebted man cuts a transversal subjective figure that has come to occupy “the entirety of public space.” (7–8)
Now, I've alway realized that I've been remiss in posting links to a few other reviews, and so that they don't get lost in the mix, I've also added links to these previous reviews.

Symposium 16.2 includes a review essay by Maxwell Kennell, who examines Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala's Hermeneutic Communism, Alain Badiou's Communist Hypothesis, and Boris Groy's Communist Postscript. Kennel writes:
For the authors of Hermeneutic Communism it is only the weakness of both communism and hermeneutics that can lead to their joint emancipation from both the violence of capitalism in the political sphere, and from the violence of metaphysics in the philosophical sphere. Rather than communising hermeneutics or hermeneuticising communism the authors of Hermeneutic Communism seek to bring light to the present “lack of emergency” and “the increasing homologizing of the political, economic, and social structures of power.” (HC, 2) Against the all too modern theories and social practices representing the status quo, Vattimo and Zabala proclaim that “politics cannot be founded on scientific and rational grounds but only on interpretation, history, and event.” (HC, 2) The weakness of hermeneutics, found in the plurality of interpretive truths that it affirms, stands opposed to the rationalistic violence of the aforementioned politics of truth. Following from the weakness of hermeneutics, the weakness of communism can also be located in its failure, a failure which (as it is said) fails again and fails better (Beckett).
Symposium 16.2 also contains Bryan Smyth's review of Georg Lukács Reconsidered: Critical Essays in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics and Georg Lukács: The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence. Aesthetics, Politics, Literature. Smyth writes:
The two volumes share a general basic aim, which is to re-examine Lukács’ work in the light of more recent political and theoretical developments in order to show that it is still productively relevant to many contemporary issues. Related to this general aim, both volumes tend to reject as unhelpful and obsolete the standard periodisation of Lukács’ work in terms of (a) his early Romantic neo-Kantianism (e.g., Soul and Form, Theory of the Novel), the tragic utopianism of which was supposed to be resolved by (b) his euphoric revolutionary Hegelian-Marxism (i.e., History and Class Consciousness), which is by and large his principal claim to fame, but which itself however ultimately collapsed into (c) his inglorious decades as, seemingly at any rate, a Stalinist philosophical hack (e.g., The Destruction of Reason, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism). Although significant breaks and turns do exist within Lukács’ development, in the post-1989 context it becomes clear that this threefold scheme is overly simplistic. For in retrospectively viewing it as pivoting around a failed revolutionary engagement, it effectively reduces Lukács’ long career to a blind alley of dialectical errors in a way that occludes the innovative insights that belong to the deeper core of his work. The idea, then, is to salvage the latter from the historical vicissitudes with which Lukács’ intellectual life was interwoven. In this sense, the common goal of the volumes—and this is what sets them apart from those earlier collections—is to push Lukács beyond himself, or, as expressed in the blurb to the Bewes and Hall volume, to “liberate [his] thought from its formal and historical limitations.”
Finally, in 16.2, Yves Laberge reviews A Companion to the Works of Walter Benjamin. Laberge writes: 
Il faut ici féliciter le professeur Rolf J. Goebel du choix des auteurs ayant participé à ce livre; bien qu’ils soient inconnus, tous sont des spécialistes de la pensée de Walter Benjamin et ils parviennent à illuminer ses idées principales ou à en donner des prolongements souvent rigoureux. J’ai rarement lu un ouvrage aussi précis quant aux citations et aux sources convoquées : les ouvrages de Benjamin mentionnés par les différents auteurs sont d’une grande diversité et les extraits sont toujours appropriés et très pertinents pour alimenter l’argumentation. Fidèles à la méthode même de Walter Benjamin, la plupart des chapitres adoptent des perspectives résolument transdisciplinaires, ce qui mérite d’être souligné.

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