Monday, April 21, 2014

Capital and Culture

Jameson’s link between the phoenix like cycle of capitalism (“During its cycles capital exhausts its returns in the new national and international capitalist zone and seeks to die and be reborn in some ‘higher’ incarnation, a vaster and immeasurably more productive one . . . implantation . . . productive development, and its financial or speculative final state” 251) and culture in “Culture and Financial Capital” seems, in all respects, quite helpful. Jameson is right to look to the fragmentized postmodern culture industry as relative to the stage of capitalism US has been in over the past century. I also, like others, the link that this ‘final stage’ provides for connecting Jameson to H&N. All of the authors identify the current economic reality to be a different – a new – level of Capitalism that is visible via culture and shaping that culture. While H&N present the possibility that the intensity of globalization of the biopolitical will, essentially, lift the global economy out of capitalism. Jameson seems more interested in the process by which that will occur.

            The looming presence in this particular text that relates to this process is, I think, the power of “crashes” or capital “crisis.” While the Phoenix metaphor implies rebirth, the phoenix/ capital does need to ‘die’ in order for this restoration to occur. That capital’s stages mark it pending implosion I wonder this apocalyptic financial tumble will bring about for culture. Given our current fusion ( a fusion that Jameson acknowledges) of technology, economy, labor and culture- how will the culture mitigate the crash? This thought leads Jameson to suggest that “any comprehensive new theory of finance capitalism will need to reach out into the expanded realm of cultural production to map its effects; indeed, mass cultural production and consumption itself – at once with globalization and the new information technology – are as profoundly economic as the other productive areas of late capitalism and as fully a part of the latter’s generalized commodity system” (252).        While H&N take up this issue to discuss the culture of capital, Jameson seems to insist upon also looking at the capital of culture.

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