Thursday, December 22, 2022

Jäger 2020. the context is preserved here.

Here for it. 
The history of events merely provides a series of pegs to hang the history of ideas on, and it is the latter that is of real interest. So, the time has come to turn to that history of ideas,


I'd rephrase as "potentially positive in the wake of the bourgeois revolutions", which happened about two centuries ago. This sounds like we still have to crush the estates system. 

individuals stripped of all previous historical ties and identities are the human material necessary for creating a classless society. atomization is painful, but positive.

Plenty of countries haven't even had their "bourgeois revolution" yet, because they don't have a real bourgeoisie! Turkey and Iran have one now, thanks to Khomeini and Erdoğan. The middle class is rising all over the world, but not the world these assholes know.

Bowling Alone

Putnam was right, but for the wrong reasons: associationalism matters for democracy, but it hardly matters to capital — and might even threaten it. For those contemplating a 2024 Bernie Sanders run, the question of the legacy the campaign leaves behind seems of even greater importance than what it accomplishes, let alone whether it will allow Bernie to ascend to the presidency. Only in that case will we see a true test of constitutional loyalty for capital, and only then can we gauge money’s alignment with liberal democracy. In the absence of this threat, both on left and right, we will keep on bowling alone.

America and America

All this grants Baudrillard’s book a refreshing contemporaneity. From Silicon Valley to evangelicalism to Trump to polyamory to the military-industrial complex: each receives due mention in America, placed in a stream of consciousness that makes up the book’s main body:

“Take this white Christ carrying a heavy cross down Main Street, Venice. It is a very hot day. You want to tell him it has already been done, 2,000 years ago. But he is not trying to do anything new. He is just carrying his cross the same way as other people carry ‘Jesus Saves’ or ‘Know Jesus’ badges on their cars. You could point out that no one — not a single person — is watching, and that he is accorded only indifference and derision as he passes. But he would tell you that was exactly how it was 2,000 years ago.”

Compare these to a description of a flight into Los Angeles, a “luminous, geometric, incandescent immensity, stretching as far as the eye can see, bursting out from the cracks in the clouds. Only Hieronymus Bosch’s hell can match this inferno effect.” “Once you are beyond the mountain”, however,

“a city ten times larger hits you. You will never have encountered anything that stretches as far as this… The irregular, scattered flickering of European cities does not produce the same parallel lines, the same vanishing points, the same aerial perspectives either. They are medieval cities. This one condenses by night the entire future geometry of the networks of human relations, gleaming in their abstraction, luminous in their extension, astral in their reproduction to infinity.”

Such paragraphs are interspersed with a cooler assessment of the United States as the first nation to arrive in post-history. Here is “the post-orgy world”, “the electronic tribalism of Silicon Valley”, with its “reduced pace of work, decentralisation, air-conditioning, soft technologies”. “Culture itself is a desert there,” he notes about California, “and culture has to be a desert so that everything can be equal and shine out in the same supernatural form.” This might be “paradise”, Baudrillard concluded, “but a very slight modification, a change of just a few degrees, would suffice to make it seem like hell”. Do we possess a more vivid depiction of the US in 2022?

Anti-Americanism might be a moral imperative for Europeans. It certainly is satisfying. But a disinterest in the US is hard to justify politically, let alone strategically expedient. As Nick Burns noted in a reflection on America, Baudrillard’s real message is that “we have to perform American experiments on ourselves”. Baudrillard’s book is Democracy in America for the coming century.  For better and for worse, America’s politics are our politics, and the only way out is always through, as Baudrillard already concluded in 1982. 

Nick Burns

In American cultural and intellectual life, New York City sets the tone. As the main hub for the country’s media and frequent originator of trends that percolate through US society, 

Both of those statements are laughable, and have been for decades.

Gary Indiana (at the link above)...

That culture might be powerless to affect the movement of history was a perception Viennese society held in abeyance for half a century, by endorsing every avant-garde that appeared in its arts and literature.

or Jäger? 

The history of events merely provides a series of pegs to hang the history of ideas on, and it is the latter that is of real interest. So, the time has come to turn to that history of ideas,


You will remember that Plato said that only his body still inhabited the City and, in the Phaedo, also explained how right ordinary people are when they say that a philosopher's life is like dying. Death, being the separation of body and soul, is welcome to him; he is somehow in love with death, because the body, with all its demands, constantly interrupts the soul's pursuits.

I hated City of Quartz, a decadent book about decadence, without the honesty that might make it art. Baudrillard's America was indulgent and obvious.

Alex Hochuli mocks Verso and Sophie Lewis' family abolition fantasies. Maybe he needs some new friends. 

Avant-Garde is Kitsch. I need to get back to work on the thing. I really fucked up. But these days no one would even know it. I should send a link to Gary Indiana. He'd get the joke. 

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