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utopia

Friday, 25. January 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Uselessness, Refusal, Art, and Money (encounters with David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value).

readingbetween_shipping

On Reading  Alone

I report here on an encounter with a book, and an encounter with the problems of reading itself.  The book: David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value.  which I picked up following the trail of Marcel Mauss' The Gift (Graeber's book is a meditation on the differing visions of Mauss and Marx for economic life as read through the lens of anthropology).  If you operate outside of institutions, which I typically do, one book leads to another and another along solitary and idiosyncratic paths.  You often find yourself in a cloud of companionship with people you've never met, some living, some dead, some speaking native languages you have no acquaintance with.  This is thrilling, but a little surreal. As you'll see, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value was a pleasure to wrestle with and test ideas against, but for me it also represented the moment where I turned from an ideal of books engendering books in the future, to books as a way of making relationships in the present.

 

Plausible (Art) Worlds

One has to be pretty mean-spirited to find much wrong with dreaming. But what I like best about dreams is that they put the lie to the increasingly prevalent idea that we all live in the same world - the very quintessence of contemporary ideology. Clad in the decidedly dad-reminiscent rhetorical garments of “common sense,” the one-world argument is regularly trotted out by our neoliberal realists to encourage us to fall into line, wake up to reality, singular, and give up our insistence on alternatives to the merely existent. In the name of the efficient governance of the existent order, they trivialise the fictionalising imagination – that is, the imagination that splinters and multiplies the real – as utopian dreaming, claiming that the real is one. But in making such a claim, they let the cat out of the bag – if only because everyone has that extraordinary and yet perfectly ordinary experience of dreaming.