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Oscillate Wildly: Space, Body, and Spirit of Millennial Materialism

Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Oscillate Wildly
    Book Description:

    At a moment of crisis, in the wake of materialist practice once known as socialist revolution, this bold and innovative book presents oscillation as a metaphor for understanding materialism anew. Mindful of the dangers for materialism, Peter Hitchcock nevertheless shows how oscillation is part of the conceptual framework of materialist inquiry from Marx to the present.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8914-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Stephen E. Cullenberg

    It would be tempting to concede Marxism’s defeat at the end of the long, tortuous journey through the course of the twentieth century, both as ideology and political practice. The signs are all here: the collapse of worldwide communism after 1989, the increased globalization of capitalism’s hegemony, the uncertain cultural challenge of postmodernism to the certain materialist discourses that guided oppositional politics throughout this troubled century. Yet, in the face of these transformative millennial moments, Peter Hitchcock reminds us that one of the profound lessons of history is oscillation. And, as he brilliantly performs throughout his book, we shouldn’t just...

    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. 1-20)

    The wealth of theory in which oscillation prevails appears as a monstrous collection of contradictions; an individual theoretical contradiction appears as its elementary form. Oscillation? By rewriting Marx’s opening ofCapitalunder the sign of “oscillation” I hope to implicate several materialist insights more forcefully in the present. This book is an analysis of what oscillation can mean for materialist theory bound by specific contradictions in space, in the body, and in spirit. Obviously, such statements are too concise, and indeed it has taken a book to bring them into more explanatory focus. That a crisis is implied by my...

    (pp. 21-54)

    What constitutes materialism, in particular, a materialism apposite with the complex contours of culture? The question is fraught with difficulty given the long and detailed history of materialism’s problematic relationship to cultural material and its conceptual space. Indeed, one only has to mention the word “aesthetics” and the whole project would seem to quiver with doubt (even in Adorno’s unequivocal critique of the culture industry).¹ Yet this is not just a key to the contradictions endemic to a materialist aesthetic but also a procedural clue to a materialist analysis of the present. The quivering and doubt, the involuntary movement and...

    (pp. 55-88)

    The body of materialism trembles. This is a function of its dynamism, which in turn is symptomatic of its dialectical flair (as Balibar and Bachelard have just reminded us). Certainly, its oscillation is predicated upon an impossibility, that it might arrive at a point of absolute knowledge, as if change might be rendered transparent to itself. Forms of materialism shiver in specific ways: Marxism, for instance, in various declensions, anxiously purports to report its own annihilation, for capitalism’s demise is Marxism’s death knell as much as it heralds the coming and departure of proletarian being. It is somewhat ironic that...

    (pp. 89-108)

    The space of theoryanda theory of space? One dilemma of materialist theory has been a persistent inability to think the difference between these two categories simultaneously. The space of theory is its positional mode — the way it is taken up, deployed, inscribed. The theory of space has been viewed in a number of ways that have been kept entirely separate from this inscription, and this has had far-reaching effects in ontology and epistemology. For instance, the theorization of abstract space in scientific discourse suggests science believed itself to be beyond the ideological fray in the construction of spatial...

    (pp. 109-142)

    If the study of ideology is an enduring (and oscillating) theoretical legacy of Marxism, the analysis of commodity fetishism has become so naturalized as to be transparent. Indeed, according to this formulation, the ideology of the commodity is so successful it is the dominant axis of production in forms of capital while at the same time being the most assumed object of critique. In a bizarre twist in regimes of desire, what is coveted in the process of fetishism is the very structure of commodity exchange, its most “public” expression. And, for the same reason, what is invisible in the...

    (pp. 143-169)

    Capitalism as a world system is haunted. One hundred and fifty years after Marx and Engels’s celebrated invocation of the specter haunting Europe, it torments the world. Derrida opines that there is noDaseinof the specter, and this, he believes, is why a Marxism that eschews the eschatology and ontology of Being must always return — must remain, in spirit, to haunt the contradictions of capitalist rationality.¹ It is an intriguing proposition and one that will certainly lurk in the pages that follow. One wonders, however, whether the ghost that Derrida conjures — the spirit of a Marxism internally differentiated (or...

    (pp. 170-186)

    I ended the previous chapter by noting that, after all, ghosts do not make history: people do. This much Marx affirms, but if the lessons of oscillation are anything to go by, or indeed the passage of materialism through the twentieth century, human agency cannot be counted on to fashion a realm of freedom from one of necessity — at least not as a mirror of the way that nineteenth-century political thought suggests. The uneven development of productive forces is so abstruse at this moment in history that no single “motor” or subject of history can dominate its complexity, and this...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 187-224)
    (pp. 225-232)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 233-237)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 238-238)