Tuesday, October 23, 2007

RE: Jameson

I am more inclined to Jameson than (Ben) Stark is, but his critique raises some important points. For my part I think the question "why does an activist or even revolutionary movement have to operate on the same global scale as capital?" answers itself. A large-scale problem demands a large-scale solution.

What Ben is driving at, however, is the problematic correlation between capital and control that Jameson lays out. One line that really struck me in "Cognitive Mapping" was Jameson's swipe at Foucault: "a Marxian view of such space [the Cartesian grid] grounds it in Taylorization and the labor process rather than in that shadowy and mythical Foucault entity called 'power.'" What an irony: Jameson is attacking Foucault for ambiguity in an essay that (perhaps prophesying the Seinfeld era?) purports to be about a subject that "does not exist." Jameson is wrong to attack the notion of "power" as nebulous: it captures an important cluster of concepts in an era where even capital is hard to track.

The map Ben posted is attuned to both aesthetics and politics. It seems to be an appropriate example of cognitive mapping at the municipal level--but I don't think that's necessarily enough. Cartography and maps are much in vogue as of late, perhaps as a reaction to the truly frustrating and bewildering complexity of the world-system we live in. I wonder if a bigger cognitive map (one not necessarily in "map" form, which I find reductive) is possible. Could there be, for example, an aesthetic representation of Appadurai's discussion of the derivatives market? Can there be a great opera for the hedge fund era?

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