determination, Williams, & literature

Kenny Mostern kennym at
Thu Mar 16 10:51:14 MST 1995

As for Guy Yasko's comments about Williams, I would not want anyone to
get the impression that all I read in Williams is the determination
chapter.  That chapter is pivotal for me in understanding the constraints
of cultural activism, but of course saying that cultural activism is
constrained is (a) saying its just like all other forms of activism,
which are also constrained and (b) not acting like its not necessary.  In
general, I agree with your comments about Williams.  I also believe that
it is too easy to go from "Piano playing is productive labor" (true) to
"we therefore don't need to problematize cultural activity", which
happens too often in what passes for "cultural studies" in the U.S.
academy today.  I mean, culture is productive, but productivity is, under
capitalism, still an area of oppression.  So conceiving of revolutionary
culture still requires the critique of culture within capitalism, not,
for example, the celebration of Madonna.

(Sometimes I go off.  I'm not accusing Yasko or anyone on this list of
taking this nonradical position, but merely pointing out that there are
decidedly nonradical directions the Williams argument Yasko reviews has
been taken.)

Kenny Mostern
UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group

Against:  racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
For:  the truth--and the funk!

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