Friday, March 05, 2010

Structuring Metaphors

Last week Mark Thwaite had an excellent post touching on, among other things, David Shields' Reality Hunger (a book which sounds wildly unappealing to me; see also Stephen Mitchelmore's post on that book), Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism (about which I still have a few things in the works), Derrida, Marx, Hamlet, etc. Mark writes:
We read Spectres of Marx and note that 'Hamlet' allows Derrida to think, and to think of Marx. 'Hamlet' supplies him with the metaphors that allow him to unpack Marx's own metaphors and allow us to see how these metaphors structure Marx, structure 'Hamlet' and could deconstruct (unstructure) our idea both of Marxism and the destructive reality of our capitalist present.
And in a recent post at American Leftist about the recent split in the British Socialist Workers Party, Richard Estes comments on the differences between anarchists and Marxist-Leninists, and says:
One anarchist novelist recently said, I distrust any activists who don't read fiction. The remark struck a nerve with me, because I have had a similar experience with political activists generally, that the ones who were disinterested in various forms of cultural expression, like theatre, film and literature, were the most rigid and intolerant. There is a relativism in such creations that enhances one's perception of the world and one's place in it.
Marrying these two paragraphs together, the experience of art reorients us towards the world, and one could say that imaginative literature, fiction, helps us to think about "the destructive reality of our capitalist present" whether or not it thinks it's explicitly about that, whether or not the writer is apparently on the "right" side. That, indeed, the relativism in such creations can help us to unpack and to structure reality, to work through the metaphors necessary to a political understanding of reality.


Richard said...

I guess if I had to say it in a straightforward way, I'd say that the arts inspire us to draw upon our imagination in order to envision the world as we would like it to be. Now, the arts in question can be just about anything that inspires you in that way, they don't have to satisfy an elite standard. But, the absence of them results in a pretty impoverished perspective.

Richard said...

Hi Richard - I agree. I should say, though, that part of the point of my posting this (which I was not clear about) was to counter the idea, favored by some on the left, that in order to do acceptably art must be expicitly leftwing, or explicitly about political issues, and on the right "side" to boot.