posted by October 17 at 13:27 PMon
Steven Shaviro just got me thinking. I read this passage in his penultimate post, “Crisis”…
[O]rgies of destruction of capital, such as we are witnessing now, are part and parcel of the “creative destruction” (Schumpeter’s term, very much following Marx’s observations) that is the modus operandi of capitalism. Individual capitalists may suffer (though usually far less than the rest of us do), but these convulsions clear up the system, unclog it, so that new rounds of exploitation and capital accumulation may then take place……I read the passage and thought about another passage on page 104 of Raymond William’s book Marxism and Literature (one of the 27 or so books I constantly keep next to my bed). The William passage concerns the Benjaminian concept of correspondences:
At one level correspondences are resemblances, in seemingly very different specific practices, which may be shown by analysis to be both direct and directly related expressions of and responses to a general social process.
Walter Benjamin transformed (or translated, in the Latour sense—more about that in another post) the term from Baudelaire’s initial use of it in his poem “Correspondences”:
Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité, Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté, Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.
Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance
In a tenebrous and profound unity,
Vast as the dark of night and as the light of day,
The perfumes, the sounds, and colors correspond.
With all of this in mind, I now want to establish a new correspondence between of two seemingly dissimilar histories. The history of capitalism and the history of Dick Cheney’s heart.
Sensing a problem early Wednesday, Cheney saw the White House physician, who discovered the vice president was experiencing a recurrence of the irregular heartbeat. Cheney participated in regular morning briefings with President Bush, among other duties, and remained working at the White House until he went to George Washington University Hospital in the afternoon for treatment.
The process took nearly two hours, after which Cheney went home, said Megan Mitchell, a Cheney spokeswoman.
“An electrical impulse was delivered to restore the heart to normal rhythm,” she said. “The procedure went smoothly and without complication.”
From another report:
Mr Cheney, 67, has had four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery and operations to clear blocked arteries.
To begin with, correspond those details with the one in Shaviro’s passage:
[T]he modus operandi of capitalism…. these convulsions clear up the system, unclog it, so that new rounds of exploitation and capital accumulation may then take place.
Though one system or substance (or assemblage—more on that in another post) is social and the other organic, a diachronic (or historical) analysis of capitalism and Cheney’s heart would reveal convincing commonalities. The heart as the base of Cheney’s life; capitalism being the base of social life. The situation of the heart producing a certain type of person and the situation of capitalism resulting in a type of superstructure. Indeed, both went into a state of crisis at the same time, and both are treated with shocks to restore stability and confidence. Seriously, the two (the heart and mode of production) need to be examined as being expressions of some larger moment or world process.