Marxism and style?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Dec 19 16:54:08 MST 2000

I happen to know both these mokes extremely well. Two of the more brilliant
minds in academia, if I say so myself. But both are classic nerds. Very
understated, very unemotional. I can't tell whether they became this way after
they became professors or they were like that way to start off with. They look
the kinds of guys who got beaten up in high school or could never make the
basketball team, although Perelman likes to play the game like it is going out
of style. Broke a leg driving to the hoop a couple of years ago when he was 56
years old actually.

My style is utterly impossible to adapt for a scholarly publication. It comes
from a background as an early 60s beatnik, motorcyle riding, LSD dropping, Zen
buddhist, bar fighting, poetry writing madman. I was all set to write the
American novel when the Vietnam war interjected itself in the most rudish,
persnickety fashion back in 1965.

Basically, all the great writing comes from somewhere deep in the viscera. But
you can't manufacture it. It has to come from a lived experience, like Mike
Davis got driving trucks or Theodore Allen (Invention of the White Race)
got as
a coal miner, or Harry Braverman got in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

At 04:23 AM 1/5/98 -0800, you wrote:
> I read Michael Perelman's THE INVENTION OF CAPITALISM because I am
> in the process of "primitive accumulation." I mention this because of our
> discussion of the pen-l list. there was a  good discussion of things like
> hunting and other forms of oppressing the peasants. I found Perelman's
> discussion of the way primitive accumulation forced peasants into the labor
> market interesting. my criticisms has to do with that kind of dry academic
> style. does he really want us to go back and read the classical economists?
> the same might be said for John Bellamy Foster's MARX'S ECOLOGY, another
> academic tome. both books suffer from a kind of positivism of language. what
> they say is true enough. why can't these people write like Louis Proyect?
> enough to put a good man-woman to sleep.
> George Snedeker

Louis Proyect
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