Today I received in the mail an unmarked package that contained a tape of a conversation I had in 2002 with artist, architect, and current Harvard grad student Sky M. Apparently someone had secretly recorded our conversation, which I've transcribed here as follows. Unfortunately the second half is inaudible: whoever recorded it must have left the tape out in the sun.Sky: So I'm reading Francis Fukuyama's The End of History now. It's a nice optimistic book and good counterpoint to Zizek. I'd like to hear Fukuyama's views on "history" now, after 9/11. I'm sure they've evolved. You should read it if you haven't already.
Sally: Don't waste your time with Fukuyama. Neoliberalism is not the realization of Hegel's final stage of history.
Sky: I still recommend reading the book whether or not his analysis is correct. His mistakes might even be more illuminating than the parts he gets right. Besides, I'm not fully on board with Hegel/Marx's teleology or even the idea of "progress." Manuel DeLanda's One Thousand Years of Nonlinear History has convinced me otherwise. DeLanda's hypothesis, influenced by Deleuze & co., is that human cultural history is part of a material process of interaction and is non-deterministic, meaning that progress itself is an illusion. It's a proposition certainly worth considering.Sally: Doubting the notion of progress certainly puts you in with the majority of today's intellectuals. Today, conservatives and liberals alike reject the idea of "progress," of "grand narratives," of "large, collective action," of universality, etc. The particular is privileged over universal; difference over sameness; localization over centralization; the individual over collective; and so on. This is why the project of Zizek, Eagleton and others on the Left is so critical; by reviving the old conceptual framework they offer the only viable alternative-- the only grounds for a resistance-- to the current order. You must distance yourself, friend, from this "postmodern" camp.
Sky: Doubting the notion of "progress" isn't to say that the particular is favored over the universal. One can still group things together and consider them as a single system (i.e. societies, political bodies, etc.) in interaction with other such systems. This approach requires generalizing and formulating universals. However, that does not mean that these interactions are necessarily heading towards a deterministic goal, which is exactly my (and DeLanda's) point about why there cannot be an idea of "progress" (no goal, no progress).
As for Zizek's stance, he's argued for a reconsideration of communist values, but I feel like the synthesis has already occurred and we live in a time where the idea of the collective has been revived, only along boundaries we don't quite understand yet. That's one of the most interesting things about Delanda's argument, namely, that he ties together the cultural movements to the natural sciences, thereby blurring the philosophical division between human and geological histories. I haven't heard Zizek talk much about artificial intelligence and collective consciousnesses (eg, internet and advanced networking technologies), but I think they are going to totally change the possibilities of traditional political organization. Similar to the way the distribution of digital information has threatened the idea of intellectual property and traditional capitalism. . . . [At this point the conversation becomes inaudible.]
*Also, to give you an idea of what the original conversation sounded like, here it is read by Ispeech:
Saturday, April 10, 2010
This just in from Sally Suzuki: