[-empyre-] entanglement

joseph tabbi jtabbi at gmail.com
Sat Apr 4 04:13:43 EST 2009

It seems that the discussions are launched, the threads are in place,
and the time has come for "entanglement."

I have a couple of specific comments, in response to observations on
Warhol.' And some general thoughts on the theme running through
several posts so far - about where 'creativity' can be found, if at
all, in financial systems and their representations in art and

Like G.H. Hovagimyan, I've always thought of Warhol as the avant garde
of a strictly commercial art-culture. Or, better, its research and
development wing. Sure, many of Warhol's titles and topics are
critical or even subtly subversive of commercial culture. That gets
people thinking, it offers object lessons for cultural study and
ideology critique. But none of that changes the fact that Warhol is
fascinated by the operations of commerce, and celebrity. These things
might be brought down.  But not by critique or fascination.

With Davin, I agree that representations must point to something other
than themselves. But that 'something' is given meaning, visibility, or
coherence only in a context, or in a system. A linguistic sign refers
to other signs, a profit or loss or accrued interest must be
registered with respect to values previously established ('as the
Dow..languidly sells lower after touching 800...'[Nick]).  Values
don't just fluctuate; they can also change, as when a currency is
devalued, or a market collapses, but that does not mean that money was
ever about anything other than its place in a system of communication
and exchange, a system of differences. Money must lose or make money,
and if you're concerned with saving or reforming the capitalist
system, that has to be done by indexing your concerns to the
operations of finance (not by making finance responsive to or
representative of something else: the environment, social justice,
creativity, or what have you.)

Capital is 'fictitious,' for sure. It is absolutely political, I
agree. But its fictions and its politics are backed by legal process
and social custom, which have their own ways of differentiating
themselves from concerns that remain outside the law and society.

As I said in my first post, we can all hope for an economic system
that's not just speculation and for a cultural program that is not
just rediscriptions of what others have described (e.g.,
'postmodernity'). Nobody I think would want to claim that language or
economies are "infinitely malleable" (Davin). But to bring in
'representation,' to insist that words and dollars have to reference
something  non-linguistic or outside the economy - well, I think
that's just confusing realms that had better be recognized as
functionally distinct.

As for 'mediation': isn't that exactly what is attempted by those who
confuse ecological and economic systems? We're hit by a financial
Tsunami? That's a nice name and it certainly has an effect outside of
language, namely: the word turns our attention away from specific
decisions by specific traders, fund managers, and (off duty)
regulators. It makes us think of our own troubles as if they came from
outside and could be represented, apart from us and our systems.

Mediation works, but it works on terms set by media, often but not
exclusively mass media. Media are no more likely to produce consensus
than to encourage dangerous conflations.  Realms that had better be
separate are conflated when CEOs or funds managers or politicians
become celebrities. (Academics also, in the star system that has been
nicely depicted in special issues of the Minnesota Review and
Symploke, some years ago.)

One thing I find promising about networks, those self-constructing and
often robust organizations, is that (unlike, say, 'communities') they
don't even pretend to represent anything outside themselves. They
work, they connect internally, and they reproduce themselves (or they
don't, and they disapear, and nobody is the worse materially when they
go away).

I think what we need, at least so long as we're speaking and writing,
is not the imagination of contact with some non-linguistic order but
the creation of new networks geared toward different problems, around
which alternative interests can form, re-form, and sustain

I think of one small town in Germany, I forget its name. Everyone who
lives there is a millionaire, the cleaners, the plumbers, the
teachers, the business people. The entire town puts its money in one
bank, and invests the money cooperatively in the stock market. As a
prerogative of citizenship, credit is given at little or no interest.

There was a documentary made of this town. They interviewed the banker
and photographed the scenery. Predictably, shortly after the
documentary was made, the bank was robbed. Millions were taken but (in
a follow-up TV interview) the banker was not perturbed in the least.
He showed the camera-man the drawer where he kept hard copies the
financial files of every town member.  "This is my bank," he said.
"They cannot steal this."

We need new networks to create new values, and routes of information
that are protected from extreme market fluctuations, thievery, and


On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 10:20 AM, Nicholas Ruiz III
<editor at intertheory.org> wrote:
> welcome and thank you to all and our guests...
> As the Dow Jones Industrial Average languidly sells lower after touching 8000 yesterday, and after having rallied immensely from the recent lows of late 2008 and early 2009...I wonder, what is a stock market really 'worth'? Five times earnings? Ten times earnings? One hundred times company earnings?
> It's a bit like asking: What is Picasso's "Guernica" worth? Or Hirst's "For the Love of God"? Remarkably, valuation is a creative enterprise, no?  Another negative US employment report this morning, over 600,000 jobs lost...highlighting another of our 'creations'...What is the extent of our entanglement with such 'creativity'?
> Nick
> Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D Editor, Kritikos http://intertheory.org
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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