Friday, April 30, 2021

Milanovic is such a fucking idiot

Here I want to discuss another issue where we face a fundamental contradiction between the principles according to which hyper-capitalist societies are organized and what may be considered desirable outcomes. The topic is authenticity in arts, and to a lesser degree, in social sciences. When we deal with reproducible goods, the advantage of capitalism is that profit can be made only if somebody else’s needs are satisfied. Thus two objectives, personal needs of a buyer and the profit goal of the producer, are aligned.  

But this is not the case in arts. The reason is that arts thrive on, or require, individualism, uniqueness and authenticity. When you try to guess public’s preferences in shoes, and produce such shoes, this is good and useful. But when you try to guess public’s preference in literature, films or paintings, it may, if you guess them correctly, make you rich, but from the point of view of artistic creation, it could very easily be fake and ephemeral. In arts, we are interested in an individual’s view of the world, not in an individual’s ability to ape public preferences or prejudices.  

I will illustrate it with some extreme examples. When we read Kafka’s Diaries, we are  sure that they represent his own true and unvarnished take on the world: he wrote them for himself, never thought they would be published, and explicitly asked that they be burned. The same is true, for example, with Marx’s 1848 manuscripts which were saved largely by accident and were published more than a century after they were written. Whether one likes or not either is a matter of taste and interest. But there is no doubt that they are authentic works of these two people.

But when we watch a film whose ending was tested on different audiences to produce the ending that most people would like to see, and pay for, there is—likewise—no doubt that the author’s role in such an enterprise is diminished, and in some cases totally obliterated. The same is true for works of fiction. If they are written with the main objective of money-making they have to play on popular preferences and to present as little of author’s personal opinions (which may be unpopular) as possible. Why should one then, if in search of new or challenging ideas, read such novels?

"While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid." 

Social life is compromise, in the bedroom or the legislature. Art is social. Notwithstanding Arendt's separation of the social and the political family life is intimate politics. Milanovic can't even imagine that the nomenklatura functions as a set of social relations. He's really that blank. 

repeats. The first two are Milanovic and Sartre, 

Being alone is both our preference and a response to a world of competitiveness, commodification and higher incomes. The new world that we can glean will not be dystopian. It will be a Utopia, with a twist.

Let us consider this waiter in the café. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer. 
"He was owed", not even "I owed him". 
Communication as contract: between the selfish and self-conscious, but not un-self-aware. All the grey areas in a relationship described as lines. I’m sure she feels the children were “owed” too. 

The MIT professor who considered medical castration as a cure for male privilege...

Scott Aaronson couldn't accept that getting laid is a social exchange, but felt ashamed of wanting to rape.

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