File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0103, message 98

Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 22:45:25 -0600
Subject: Re: I'd rather be a Cyborg than a Goddess

steve.devos wrote:

I think however that the definitions that are produced remain
fundamentally within an understanding of labor based within modern
times, and as such does not seem to accept the shift into the
post-modern economy which is the paradigm we currently exist in. 

It's certainly possible that what you say here is true.  I would like 
to hear more about the distinctive difference of labor during postmodern
times.  At a very trite level, pundits currently write that the new 
economy isn't all that new and I was attempting to emphasize that labor 
remains labor even as new changes occur in the mix.
> I am conscious of the irony invoked by placing post-modernity in such a meta-narrative position, but suspect that it is inevitable, given its
> convenience in naming what has come after the economic break. 

I agree.  It seems false to be anti-meta-narrative as some kind of
normative pomo stance.  Emphasizing only the local and the particular as
the site of conflict can sometimes be conterproductive.  

> How does this place the interesting metaphors then? In post-modern terms they are I suggest all one just at differing socio-economic points. I do not disagree at all with the situating of the economic subjects (Cyborg,industrial and craft) you describe,  except to point out that increasingly all societies are containers of the stereotypes invoked.  (How many millions of USA subjects live in what was once called 3rd World conditions?). 

I agree I was using stereotypical containers in the sense you mention.
These groups can certainly be broked down further along various
dimensions and this is precisely why further analysis is necessary. I 
was merely attempting a general outline.

You raise a good point about the US.  Certainly, the situation of the
poor in America is grim and appalling.  Because of the concentration of 
ownership in the media, they have become the true invisibles today. 
Also, crime is down in America, but incarceration is up.  The US is
currently imprisoning ethnic populations in a manner that evokes
comparision to Hitler and Stalin, yet there remains total silence.

All three proposed forms of worker are engaged in the process referred
to previously :  Mobility and mass worker nomadism express a refusal and
a search for liberation: resistance against the conditions of
exploitation The discussion of the cyborg is especially interesting
because the additional threads (mobiles, pagers, laptops, I would add
private medicine, insurance, pensions and company cars etc) you mention
confirm the accuracy of Marxs proposition that the value of necessary
labor has risen enormously, and as a result  surplus labor time falls. 
An interesting result of this is that among privileged knowledge workers
who are in demand, a new tendency is developing for them to negotiate
more time off as well as money.  I believe the demand for free time may
become a critical one during the next decade.

> Lyotards refusal of meta-narratives was a rejection of the enlightment, narratives of modernity and not as is commonly read a rejection of meta-narratives as such Indeed much of his writing can be read as an attempt to reconstitute one or more narratives as meta (though the liberal-capitalist triumphalism of the fable is a bit much really). Post-modernity as used here is of course a meta-narrative itself.
> Marxism will not go away because it remains the single most powerful
> critique of capitalism, and thus of our post-modern societies, that exists.It can of course be understood as being theoretically incorrect, but so is Newtonian Physics. In many ways it is the great said and unsaid of much contemporary theory.

I agree history has not ended, conflict continues and Lyotard and Marx
still have something to say, even if the task of interpretation and
praxis remains.  Maybe a relative Marxism that bends light in the
curvature of bounded space is what is needed to replace the Newtonian
Marxism that space time history and the proletariat as absolute
containers.  As Lyotard said, there is still the "Desire Named Marx"
even if he did mean this somewhat ironically, that is libidinally.  

> I strongly recommend Empire (Hardt and Negri) no praise is to high for
> this text, and Andre Gorzs little utilised work critique of economic
> reason. (Which are the texts Im mis-reading here, initially unconsciously but it appeared out of my imaginary quite suddenly)

I have to admit Empire is on my short list for books to read this year. 
I keep waiting, perhaps foolishly, for it to appear in paperback.  I
have been reading (not too far yet) "The Savage Anomaly", "Labor of
Dionysus" and "Insurgencies".

I'd also recommend the three volume set entitled "Open Marxism" by
Werner Bonefeld, Richard Gunn and Kosmas Pyschopaidses.


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