Intersubjectivity

Seamus Malone redye at dorsai.dorsai.org
Fri Jul 21 15:37:31 MDT 1995


On Thu, 20 Jul 1995, Jon Beasley-Murray wrote:

> On Wed, 12 Jul 1995 owner-marxism-digest at jefferson.village.virginia.edu wrote:
>
> > From: Seamus Malone <redye at amanda.dorsai.org>
> > Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 14:22:26 -0400 (edt)
> > Subject: Re: Value, psychological and marxist
> >
> > I don't think I'm positing a
> > transcendent subject or social formation, but rather trying to emphasize
> > how both must be understood as social processes which are not outside of
> > historical determination, but are articulated in the feild of historical
> > change, thus we retain both agency and structure- both acknowledgement of
> > historical conditions and the possibility of human agency in that
> > process. The last bit was not so much my point as merely to emphasize
> > what took me a long time to really digest and that is (back to where we
> > began and a term Chris asked clarification on- if I'm not mistaken)
> > intersubjectivity, I think he found it outside his feild of experience,
> > whereas you, Jon, will not.
>
> OK, Seamus, let's go with this.  I'm happy with "intersubjectivity" as a
> term, but I'm not sure what it means (or, rather, how it can be
> used) pragmatically and in specific situations--analyses or whatever.
> What does "articulated in the field of historical change" mean, for
> example, when it isn't just an abstract gesture towards that fact that
> "everything's very complex"?
>
> I think this is all quite important, but it seems difficult not to do
> better than truisms or banalities.

I think it is important to avoid the atomized already alienated subject
as a starting point- except from the position that it is the common
representation of subjectivity at the current moment, but it takes
capitalisms intrusion into the lived process of subjectification as I
think the term is "fait complete". Just as Marx revealed the process of
production of commodities- their value lying in the process of labour, so
at the same time (and he gestures explicitly at this, I can dig up the
quotes if you want them) the subject if produced (who's real value lies
also in the *process* of produciton. D&G are quite good, at least in AOe
in speaking of flows which emphasize the not yet produced or organ-ized
subject.) The idea of an interior subject, of one that exists independent
of a social network is quite modern- Marx I think is gesturing at this in
the Robinson Curusoe allegory. One place where I think that almost
despite himself, Deleuze surpasses his failures in theorizing such a
position is in the last chapter of *Foucault* where he tries to explain
the fold or the pocket and the forces which fold over or determine such a
structure (of the subject).

> > Here's a bit of Guattari on the same
(for what it's worth): >
> "A certain balance still needs to be struck between structuralist
> discoveries--which are certainly not unimportant--and their pragmatic
> application, so as not to flounder in the social abandon of
> postmodernism" (_Chaosmosis_ 9f.)
>
> I don't think it's worth just gesturing at theory without putting it to
> use.  The question seems to be how to understand agency without falling
> back on individual subjectivity--or models that imply such subjectivity
> (with autonomous brains--the intellectuals, the party...).  How do groups
> of people, and bits of people, or agglomerations of bits of people, go
> about things, undergo and effect changes?
>
> What, for a start, is a marxist theory of subjectivity?  (and I guess we
> can take that to include intersubjectivity)
>
I think for starters it is a theory which understands subjectivity- in
its very structure, and not just the contents of that structure as a
result of
historical processes and every bit as much a commodity production (the
production of the individual to be sold on the market) as trade goods.

> As I've said, if a bit incoherently, in another post, I think affect is
> important to look at in this regard: I think it's similar to (or at least on
> the same plane as) what Bourdieu means when he discusses habit, and the
> bodily or mechanical inculcations of the habitus.  Though he's far too
> pessimistic for my taste.
>
Whatever my misgivings, I think that Raymond Williams structures of
feelings also has something to offer here. I think it is important to
understand the ways in which not just affect, but the very sturcture of
affect changes to meet the changing demands of capital. One place I think
we could start of understand this dialectal-materially or historical-
phenomenologically (Wallach-Bolough's equation) is in the structure of
the family and domestic life, I think there is a radical series of breaks
throughout this century that one could analyze that have to do directly
with changes in sturctures of affect. Benjamin's dictum on the radical
break within the structure of experience being one of the earlies
acknowlegements of this.


Seamus Malone
redye at amanda.dorsai.org
http://www.dorsai.org/~redye


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