This morning I watched Eisenstein’s Strike!. I found some of the initial montage to be absolutely brilliant and I loved the shot of the factory in the puddle. Russian films from this era are great because you never have to guess who the evil capitalists are (though nothing quite tops the classic Soviet propaganda cartoons). Here are a few additional random thoughts I had while watching the film.:

– It’s interesting that after the strike begins, Eisenstein cuts to scenes of animals, as if to note that with the cessation of exploitation, the natural order has returned.
– Even more interesting is the following scene where the children recreate the actions of the strike. Like their fathers, the children load a goat into a wheelbarrow and push the animal down a hill (earlier the workers had done the same with the administrators at the factory). Already the coming generation has ritualised the action, performing the sacrifice of a ‘scapegoat.’ I don’t know that Eisenstein intended this reading, but it works as an excellent critique of the relationship between revolutionaries and the proceeding generations which, in their ritualisation, establish new exploitative hierarchies in their seeming repetition of the actions of their fathers. Ritual doesn’t have to equal ideology, but that doesn’t many rituals don’t fall victim to this tendency.
– Continuing with the use of animals (again, not necessarily reflecting the intentions of Eisenstein), I thought the parallel images of the cow being slaughtered and the proletariat being massacred worked on a number of levels: 1) to the bourgeoisie, the workers are disposable; 2) they are also regarded as mere animals (this point parallels the argument made by Lewis Gordon, interpreting Fanon, in my post about Latin American theory: namely that the struggle for the oppressed is often not to be regarded as equal, but first to be regarded as other); 3) there is a cycle of exploitation. It is third point that I find interesting, and perhaps less obvious. The people slaughtering the cow seem to be workers, just like those in the factory. The bourgeoisie ignites a chain of exploitation, beginning with the working class and infecting all social and biological (or perhaps ecological is a better term) relations. The working class then exploits ‘nature’ in its struggle to survive. This point works in two directions: the working class, in desperation, engages in unsustainable husbandry practices in order to merely survive, or in hopes of rising to the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. From the other direction, this highlights the political significance of husbandry practices: the cultivation of sustainable practices in the political economy of food is an important aspect of empowering the working class. I guess now we just need to enlist Jamie Oliver and Michael Pollan in starting the revolution…

Theses on a new aesthetics

I’m continuing my efforts to think about a theory of aesthetics that builds on Badiou, but attempts to go further in two regards: (1) I want to be explicit about how particular aesthetic practices are to be regarded as inaesthetic; (2) I want to underline the political nature of all events.  I’m currently trying to formulate an argument that would argue that the dominant ideology the state of the situation, is interconnected for all truth procedures.  Anyway, here is it what I’ve been working on:

1) All aesthetic practices are divisible into two categories: those which aspire to truth and those which aspire to entertainment.
– Those which aspire to truth correspond to Badoiu’s categories of didactic,  romantic, and inaesthetic.
–  Those which aspire to entertainment correspond to Badiou’s category of  classical.
2) All aesthetic practices that aspire to entertainment are defined by the problematic of the dominant ideology (in the Althusserian sense of these terms).
3) Within the category ‘aesthetic practices that aspire to truth’ the didactic and romantic are also determined by the problematic of the dominant ideology.
–  The dominant ideology subordinates aesthetic practices to philosophy.  This subordination is the logic of the didactic.
–  The essence of this dominant ideology is not the favouring of philosophy, but the logic of subordination.  Thus the romantic, as the inverse of the didactic, is equally placed within the problematic of the dominant ideology.
4)  Aesthetic practices in the category of inaesthetics are characterised by the following:
–  They are faithful to an event (i.e., L’année dernière à Marienbad is faithful to the event of the French New Wave).
–  This faithfulness is defined as an operation by which a medium explores itself  as a medium (Schonenburg explores the definition of the medium ‘music’ by  tonality).