Who we are/How we write

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Tue Sep 12 23:32:38 MDT 1995


Ken (Zodiac) replies my

>> In the first place, I did not present a "defense" of my writing style. I
>> just presented the main determinations (including my individual ones, those
>> that arise from the real object it is about, and the general determinations
>> of the readers), that in their unity, form my "style" as the concrete real
>> form it is. By mistaking a "defense" for the exposition of these
>> determinations, Jerry gives his first step in turning the real question
>> into an abstraction. And it is on this basis that he goes on

by writing

>Really? Ya think so? I didn't read that at all in what Jerry was saying.
>
>I think he was saying you are a long-winded, jargon-drunk bore. And that
>anything you might have to contribute is lost for that reason. I might be
>wrong.
>
>Your prose is a disease. Get help.

My posts have risen the "irae hominis probi" (not my prose, here, but
Marx's) again!

Ken's post lacks any immediately visible substance to focus on. It is just
a declaration of his impotence to follow my reasoning, of course to be
charged to my sole "prose." Not surprisingly, Ken's ire becomes publicly
visible in direct relation with a post where I developed the matter of the
determinations of critical "understanding" scientific production as the
concrete form determined by the unity of the determinations of the writer,
of the reader, and of the real object it is about.

Instead of developing an articulated critic to what I say, he wants to
bring it down to a "THE END" by spending his time writing an empty parody:

>    *CURTAIN UP*
>
>    RING!
>
>    RING!
>
>    OPERATOR: Emergency operator.
>
>    JUAN: Ah, the socially determined human element in the copper-pair
>    telephony network -- good day to you. My concrete manifestation,
>    being the temporal distillation of my alienation from telephony
>    itself, and the potency of capital more generally, is employing the
>    molded, labor-crystallized unit to impart to your own determinations
>    that a third party, by nature unknown to me except in the preconceived
>    logical representation of a socially-determined familial obligation,
>    has been found concretely relinquished of the effective application of
>    its lower limbic appendages, thus necessitating this communication.
>    Due to the irregular and spasmodic upper limbic activity, and the
>    escalating alienation of the third party's consciousness from all
>    pretense at the introduction of an otherwise inquisitive discourse, it
>    might not be considered a product of my own alienatation as a
>    "reproduction of the concrete in thought" -- that given its
>    specificity gives its exposition its corresponding formal structures
>    -- that said third party is experiencing aortic perturbations affecting
>    the entire metabolic being.
>
>    [silence]
>
>    OPERATOR: Are you saying someone is having a heart attack and we should
>    send an ambulance, sir?
>
>    JUAN: I was saying that, yes, but he's dead now. No need to speed.
>
>    THE END.
>
>    *CURTAIN DOWN.*

Irony can certainly make a rational development more powerful. But irony
without a positive content only shows the real impotence of its author to
deal with what he/she is attacking.

Besides, thus reduced to an abstraction, irony can reach the supposed
addressee with quite a different concrete meaning than that intended. Only
three months ago, my father-in-law suffered a heart attack. We desperately
looked for an emergency service. But it is not as simple as a 911 call
here. All we have is either the local public hospital, with an ordinary
phone number really lost in a chaotic phone directory, or some private
services. Since my father-in-law was affiliated to one of these, I dialed
the phone number printed in his emergency calls card. After three or four
unfruitful attempts (afterwards we got to know that this number was out of
service), I started calling to the public hospital. Equal unsuccessful
result! So I called another private service, and the dialog that followed
was rather different than that Ken believes so funny: me: we have someone
with a heart attack here, please urgently send an ambulance; operator: are
you affiliated to this service?; me: no; operator: then there is nothing we
can do for you; me: please, we will pay for the service whichever the
price; operator: let me see, that will be $250; me: ok, the address is ...;
operator: wait, how will you pay us? ... Although this service was located
at no more than 20 blocks from where we were and the streets were empty
since it was a national holiday, another 10 minutes passed before the
ambulance arrived. By that time, my father-in-law was cold dead.

If I were to abstract Ken's prose the way he does with mine, my only
possible reply to his attempt to show himself smart would be of the sort:
pero por que no te vas a cagar, pelotudo, a ver si conseguis sacarte un
poco de la mierda que tenes en la cabeza! But I am not interested in
turning concrete forms into abstractions. On the contrary. What happens
with Ken's prose concerning my personal circumstances is a clear example
that "understanding" someone else's prose is a concrete form: the synthesis
of the determinations of the writer, the reader, and the real forms in
question.

Of course, this real synthesis is something obvious in any field. Yet, the
ideological determination of the forms of scientific method as a concrete
form of alienated consciousness has inverted it to the extreme that, today,
properly "understandable scientific prose" is only that which the referees
of the "scientific community" have _naturally_ decided deserves to be such.
Any other "prose", as that which corresponds to the reproduction of reality
in thought and not to its representation, must be condemned as an
_unnatural_ "long-winded, jargon-drunk bore."

Now, what about the concrete form determined as the synthesis of Marx's
prose and Ken's reading of it, concerning a particular real form,
"philosophy"? To Rakesh Bhandari's:

>it seems  to me
>that Juan is not much more difficult than Marx himself. ...
>Perhaps many of us are arguing that Marx is too difficult, that he remains
>entranced by the rococco of the dialectic.

Ken replied:

>Marx was capable of clear, uncluttered prose. He made a living (they call
>it a living) writing news. His philosophical and dialectical writing
>intended for publication is oft involved -- as it should be -- but the
>point is always there.

Of course I completely agree with Ken that "Marx was capable of clear,
uncluttered prose" and that "the point is always there." But the question
is: does Ken really agree with himself in this point? For, according to
Marx:

"That which, in general, constitutes the essence of philosophy, _the
alienation of man that cognizes itself_, or the _alienated_ science _that
thinks about itself_, is captured by Hegel as the essence of labor and,
hence, on facing the preexistent philosophy, he is able to condense its
different moments and to present his philosophy as _the_ philosophy. What
the rest of the philosophers did (...) Hegel _knows_ it as the _doing_ of
philosophy, that is why his science is an absolute one. ... In turn, the
philosophical spirit is nothing but the alienated spirit of the world that
thinks inside its self-alienation, that is, that captures itself in an
abstract way." (1844 Manuscripts)

Marx's "clear, uncluttered prose", in which "the point" of his explicit
rejection of philosophy for unconditionally being the alienated
consciousness abstracted in itself "is" certainly "there", becomes in Ken's
"understanding" ... a "philosophical writing"! What is this? For those who
enjoy logic, there are only three options here, from the most elementary
logical point of view: a) Ken finds Marx's prose abstractly clear (that is,
in its form but not in its content), but he is one of those that believes
that Marx must have been an irredeemable incoherent and self-contradictory;
b) Ken actually does not find Marx's prose to be "clear" at all, but he
declares the opposite; c) Ken has not actually read Marx's prose (at least
that explicitly concerning philosophy), so he is talking about something he
does not know.

In either case, it is not about Ken "might be wrong", he _is_ wrong. And he
will be wrong too, if he brings down his obvious own limitations to follow
Marx's developments, to an abstract question that only arises from Marx's
determinations as a writer, as he does with my developments:

>If you are unable to communicate your ideas, you are an effective zero.
>
>However well you mean...

What would happen if we were to place ourselves at Ken's abstract and
inverted point of view? Ken's obvious incapacity for "understanding" Marx
open rejection of philosophy would be turned into Marx "been unable to
communicate his ideas" about philosophy to Ken. So, always from Ken's
abstract and inverted point of view, you, Marx, "are an effective zero,
however well you mean..." Un carajo, Ken, un carajo!

But, of course, however abstract, Ken's "understanding" can only be a
concrete social form. And, as always, conscious action is about discovering
the determinations that take shape in concrete social forms.

Concerning Ken's reduction of the Marxism-list to a "mailing-list", "an
exchange of letters" where only a so-called colloquial writing can fit, I
obviously disagree with him. The e-mail (which is by the way the only
resource of the Internet we can normally afford from here today) provides
us with a powerful material base to advance in the production of our
research work as a collective process. And this possibility opened by the
e-mail becomes even more invaluable for those of us that live in places
where capital does not leave much room for this sort of scientific
discussion, or that remain outside the academic ambits on a political
basis.

I find Ken's assertions in this sense even more objectionable, since they
come from someone that has taken on his shoulders the invaluable task of
placing the English translation of Marx's works in the Internet. And I want
to make this point completely clear here: however critic I could be, and
will be, concerning Ken's stands, I will always recognize the effort that
this task involves and, above all, its relevance from the point of view of
the development of scientific cognition as the necessary concrete form of
ruling conscious revolutionary action. In fact, I have presented his work
to some companions here, as an example of an action we must face concerning
Marx's texts in Spanish and, moreover, in German.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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