Jameson

David Carroll dccarrol at SPAMucsd.edu
Sun Mar 4 21:33:27 MST 2001


I've been reading posts concerning Jameson, good and bad, and I think Jay
Moore provides some good advice--read his book before you second-guess his
position.  And while I can hardly imagine him as an advocate of the NATO
bombing, I wouldn't pretend to know his opinion until I heard or read it
from him.

Regarding the writing style of his and other academics, it is difficult but
one needs to locate him within a community that has a lot of concerns about
the meanings and signification of language.  One may disagree whether these
struggles are important or not, but it's not a bad idea to understand the
context rather than writing it off.

Like Jay wrote, Jameson has been one of the few open explicitly Marxist
academics and a special resource for other Marxist professors and students
(such as myself).  His book Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late
Capitalism, has some well-developed ideas discussing the relationship
between changes in capitalist structures and cultural representations and
identities.  This current relationship until recently hadn't been tackled on
a large scale by other Marxists.  Jay mentioned Dave Harvey's Condition of
Postmodernity as another example; this is a very interesting book, and he is
a more accessible writer.

I believe that one should not see the classroom as a necessarily separate
space from political activism.  It is a vital place for political education
to occur.  The main problem is when the classroom is the ONLY site for left
discussion.  If academics keep their politics confined to the ivory tower,
they are performing a disservice to the activist community.  Yet even if
they don't do enough, their highly abstract theoretical work is very
necessary for creating better practice.

Jay wrote about Jameson's claims as uncomfortable insights for
postmodernists, and if any of you want to read a more direct and persuasive
account of the development of postmodern theory from a Marxist perspective,
check out Aijaz Ahmad's In Theory.

There was a remark about Judith Butler by Louis: "When I saw Zizek's book on
a rack recently, one only had to see who gave him the highest praise- Judith
Butler. That said enough for me, not having read Zizek I was wary by who
had."   I was intrigued: why does Butler make you wary?  I am familiar with
complaints about her writing, which she has admitted can be a painful
experience, but I don't see anyone complaining about the often extremely
difficult writing of political economists.  Is it something else?  I ask
this because I've recently read one of her books, and while it took me time
I thought her arguments sound, and practical.

Dave Carroll
ps. Thanks, Louis, for your response about the e-mail address






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