Negri's Savage Anomaly

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Apr 15 12:49:51 MDT 1995


Doug Henwood's post had me in stitches.  As for Michael Hardt, I
know you did your best, but your book needs an English
translation.  I had high hopes for it, given that the social
significance of Spinoza is very high on my list.  Spinoza means a
lot to a great many people who are not part of the cultural elite.
I was in search of a book that would make Spinoza contemporary,
and I was excited to read about this one and I had heard of Negri
(as well as Harry Cleaver).  Besides, about a year ago I was
working on a long poem combining the philosophies of Baruch
Spinoza and John Lee Hooker, and I had come to an impasse.  I
needed some fresh input to clarify my thinking on the subject and
I was too busy and too lazy to bone up on the original.

Once in a great while I got a hint of a glimmer of what Negri was
saying, but I just couldn't get it out of him.  My memory is now
crowded with a year's worth of fresh mind-meat, but, as I recall
from somewhere back in the freezer, Negri argued for Spinoza as
presenting at the dawn of bourgeois society a utopian vision of
the post-capitalist, postdialectical society.  I think Negri and
many of his followers hate Hegel and dialectics but I don't know
why.  Anyway, Spinoza's metaphysics (not his specific politics
necessarily) was supposed to provide this postdialectical vision.
I am very intrigued by this idea but I don't understand it.

Anyway, a dear friend from the frigid midwest (a Jew in New
Scandinavia, withering in the Bloom of life, oy!  -- he couldn't
understand my poem either) started rummaging through his old stuff
and dug out some material on Spinoza -- I remember a chapter from
an introductory philosophy textbook -- that was a masterpiece of
lucidity.  When I read it, I thought, now why can't Negri write
like this?  Why must I suffer so much for so little?  What the
Hegel is going on here?

Let me dedicate this e-pistle to dear Baruch (the blessed one).
Today is the first full day of Passover and Jesus is dead (yay!)
so let me pay homage to the god-intoxicated atheist.  Since I
can't be on Broadway today to prostrate myself before Zaybar's or
stand in line forever at H&H Bagels, I raise my male member in
solidarity with my departed comrade Baruch.  O Negri why hast thou
forsaken me?

Got to leave now to go to my local.  Now where did I put my
Spinoza-Hooker poem?  Maybe I should try it out on the ladies?

[15 April 1995 -- 2:40 pm]


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