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Jameson, Representing Capital, 1, Chapter 1


Submitted by Jim Aune on July 24, 2011 - 2:33pm


This is a dissatisfying chapter; I don't think it need be this obscure, even as it tries to replicate the dialectical form (at the sentence level) of the content of part one of Capital. But here goes (chime in here, if you're reading along with me).

1. The first 3 chapters (part one; commodities and money) most widely read and most controversial--concentrated dialectical language, flirting with Hegel. [capital=spirit? if, per Pinkard and Pippin, whom Jameson snarkily dismisses in his recent book on Hegel, Geist is the rational dialogue of humans across history, a sociality of reason, then Marx's Capital figurally replaces Geist with Capital]

2. The theory of value is c's hermeneutic dimension: trains us in the habit of seeking out essences behind appearances; labor theory of value solves one of the age-old mysteries of the market: how does one make money out of a fair exchanage?

3. Mediation: a stopgap solution which does not resolve a contradiction but provides the form in which they have room to move--role of money in the structural contradictions of capital. [my point: rhetoric is the process of mediating structure and struggle at a given point in time, and can be analyze as part of the mode of production, in a social formation, or in the conjuncture; see some selections here.

4. One way to read is as a series of riddles: the strangeness of the problem of capital is preserved within the strangeness of the solution. A wholesale attack on the ideology of the market. A dialectical critique or critical force-field will impact these synonymous levels (structural determination, in Althusser's terms): philosophical, political, economic, ideological, productive.

5. Prevalence of chiasmus in Marx's style: weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of weapons, Marx juxtaposes two objects far apart from each other, e.g. a volume of properties and 8 oz. Of snuff (reverdy on the surrealist image, but cf. Perspective by incongruity and Jameson's anxiety of influence in re Burke).

6. Political struggles over the interp of capital turn on the question of the priority of the system or of human beings--like determinism v. free will.

7. Reaches points of self-referentiality of the figure: signs the shifting of gears to a different kind of discourse, e.g. the coat/linen passage (149). Happens when: 1) marx becomes conscious of the totality of his argument, 2) glimpse of different types of discourse becomes possible.[this seems to be a key passage for students of rhetoric--what role intense figuration plays in both the disposition and inventional process of the text).

8. Weberian charisma as non-concept: inveeted to name a problem rather than solution (!).

9. We end up with 3 possible solutions to the enigma of capital: 1) reification/fetishism of commodities, 2) momentary reapparance of radically different modes of production, 3) theory of money (talks about money cranks [like Ron Paul] reappear when system is in trouble but can't think outside it).

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