Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Intensification of Labour

intensification of labourApologies for the quiet around here lately: I seem to be caught in the shifting sands of a chapter that reconfigures itself every time I look at it. I have hopes that the most recent redraft will settle all but the transitional moments between this chapter and the next… We’ll see how I feel about this when I wake up in the morning…

I’ve been trying to get the thesis out of my thoughts so that I can sleep (without some sort of transition to make myself think about something else – something I can finish thinking about before going to sleep ;-P – I find myself bolting awake every few minutes with some reconfigured sentence structure or organisational improvement for whatever I’m trying to write), I ran across Hugo Gellert’s Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’ in Lithographs (hat tip Unemployed Negativity). One could argue that, strictly speaking, this isn’t terribly far removed from the thesis. ;-P And, I have to admit, I found myself glancing down periodically at the text, rather than the images, and thinking, “Shit! I have to write something on this passage!” Still, it was at least a different way to associate to Capital.

[Note: image from the online text at Graphic Witness]

3 responses to “Intensification of Labour

  1. Nate January 14, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    hey thanks for that, I got that book out of the library by accident (stumbled across while looking for something else on Capital), but I didn’t know it was online. I forget what the artist’s story is, do you recall? The imagery makes me think of the marxist politics I dislike (though I’ve come around and decided I like the aesthetic sense of those marxists).
    take care,

  2. Nate January 14, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    hey again, sorry to double post, I just noticed that Gellert starts with primitive accumulation then goes back to the beginning. That’s how I like to read Capital too. Neat.

  3. N Pepperell January 14, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Hey Nate – yeah, I have the same reactions to the art: cool, as long as I don’t think too closely about the tacit politics šŸ™‚ I don’t know much about Gellert – just the Wikipedia version šŸ™‚

    The primitive accumulation section, as I read it, is the “real” history – the contingent, messy history – of the development of capitalism, and so it makes sense in many ways to put it first. Marx thought, I guess, that this would be backward, since capitalism generates moments internally, which then “present themselves” as remnants of earlier social forms – so he’s got a whole metacritique happening of things that get taken to be “past”, but that are actually necessary moments of the contemporary reproduction of capital. He starts from that illusory history, showing how it’s generated in the present – and I think he doesn’t believe he can discuss what he thinks the “real” history is, until after he’s done that. (Of course, I think there’s an element to Marx’s presentational style that is sort of what you might expect if a committee sat down, wanting to know how best to confuse the readers of a work… I love the correspondence with Engels, where Engels is pointing to the Science of Logic as an example for Marx of a clearer form of written presentation. You know you’re in trouble with your writing style when… ;-P)

    But yeah, I was idly thinking I might like to collect some images like this, to toss into the thesis periodically. šŸ™‚

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