[-empyre-] Perversities

Michael Angelo Tata, PhD mtata at ipublishingllc.com
Mon Apr 6 17:54:28 EST 2009

I think the point might be that Christianity can only be defended perversely.  Even if we stick with Kierkegaard's analysis of the Abraham/Isaac story, and with what Derrida does with it in his ethical investigation into the “economic” meaning of the gift, I can only fulfill my obligations as Christian by defying the ethical code to which I am beholden.  If I only follow the equivalent of Kant's categorical imperative, I fail in executing my duty, since my truest duty of all is to risk being ejected from a social and even religious order by giving in to the absolute responsibility I owe the Other.  I am irreplaceable, and my acts do not have to be replicable by all or any: my responsibility is not general or generic.
Zizek's perversity is not necessarily Derrida's, or Kierkegaard's, as his involves my phantasmic relation to the Absolute, whose very fragility gives birth to its sublimity.  In essence the Absolute needs me, in my singularity and finitude, and hence displays a surprising fragility.  If anything, Zizek calls to the fore the profoundly Judeo-Christian character of psychoanalytic discourse in general, and I appreciate the risk he takes at formulating his own ethical position on the matter.  That Courbet’s L’origine du Monde has a central role in Zizek’s defense of the Christian legacy is as perverse as perversity can get.
I am not sure how to bring these reflections back around to the Market, free trade, or the housing crisis, but I'm sure there's a way.  Any ideas?


Michael Angelo Tata, PhD  347.776.1931-USA


> Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2009 11:08:53 -0500
> From: jtabbi at gmail.com
> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] entanglement
> A belated word, regarding 'worth.'
> As Jeff notes, it's a Holy Grail and likely to remain one because if
> the 'real worth' of commodities were ever determined, that would be
> the end of markets as we know them today.
> Imagine that the dollar value of commodities could be known precisely,
> and suppose this knowledge could be circulated immediately and
> accurately, and suppose also that the kind of analytical instruments
> used by disciplined traders were available to everyone. Further,
> suppose that political conditions were stable, and not only stable but
> more or less hands off so that trading could carry on relatively
> freely, without protections or government interventions that skew the
> market.
> (Jeff you're right, I am fond of utopian scenarios: they're good for
> thought-experiments.)
> I imagine, fairly soon, the temptations to gamble would decrease, and
> the field would be left to disciplined professionals free to
> participate in a self-regulating market. Capital would flow toward
> industries grounded in real productive capacity. Inequalities would be
> greatly lessened but in this ideal case, wouldn't the low level of
> profits make the capitalist game entirely uninteresting to producers
> and traders?
> Wouldn't a totally free and totally transparent market, and the
> removal of barriers to trade, also remove the basic social
> underpinnings of the market system?
> Unlike that town in Germany (where the bank really was robbed after a
> TV documentary), Global free trade is not just my own or the media's
> utopian fiction. Globalization is a narrative that has gained
> worldwide traction (in admittedly less than ideal circumstances but
> when are economic conditions ever ideal?). One could mark the
> beginning of the experiment with the inauguration of a global
> neo-liberal turn during the time of Reagan, Thatcher, Pinochet, and
> Deng (to name just the four world leaders pictured on the paperback
> cover of Harvey's Brief History of Neo-liberalism). (Harvey's title,
> by the way, always struck me as cutting two ways: the book, under 200
> pages, is a 'brief history,' but Harvey's hope and expectation is that
> the history of Neoliberalism itself will be relatively brief, in the
> overall 500-year-plus duration of modern capitalism.)
> Whether that history turns out to be an anomaly or the end or the
> fulfilment of capital's Longue Duree, global neo-liberalism is
> decidedly not a history of 'free trade.' “In principle,” Wallerstein
> writes, “in a capitalist world-economy the virtual market exists in
> the world as a whole. But ... there are often interferences with these
> boundaries, creating narrower and more ‘protected’ markets.” Like all
> perpetual-motion machines, the totally free market functions only “as
> an ideology, a myth, a constraining influence, but never as a
> day-to-day reality.” (World-Systems Analysis)
> There will always be utopias and Holy Grails, and there will always be
> governmental interferences (or, where governments are week, black
> markets organized by other, more directly violent means). The
> available options seem, to me, not to do without protections and
> interventions, but to determine what KIND of interventions people can
> live with. Of course, much depends on WHO is involved in these
> decisions, whose interests are represented, which economists are
> listened to, and which networks can be used to advance which agendas.
> A pleasant Sunday morning to everyone - on this day away that remains
> one of the legacies of an earlier, Christian era of captial's
> development. (And Michael: part of me, maybe a seventh part, is
> convinced by Zizek's "perverse" defense of Christianity.)
> Joseph
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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