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[Xmca-l] Re: Unreading Althusser



David!

Thank you for all this and those! For contextualizing Sahlins, as well as other contexts pertaining to the history of the list! 

I always learn so much from your posts! They are gifts!  :)

For me, the notion is: what is the genealogy –to use the word as Foucault does, though not in the sense that there is flesh in a body of knowledge, with DNA and cells– of the words as containers to store and reveal the thought of the person who thought it, in order to hand down the meaning as faithfully as can be to posterity without the meaning (and the words as containers for that meaning) becoming kitschified?

Is it possible? 

(How do we read the stars? vs. How do we read maps of stars?)

A biological specimen is transient and when we look at it in a jar of formaldehyde we are looking at it through a filter of containment and preservation, it's not the real thing, even though it was once real, is it? It is not alive, but it is displayed as-if alive.

I hope I've not put my foot in it by bringing up the Confucius Institute. I only looked Sahlins up out of curiosity and noticed his recent book, which caught my eye, largely because of the word "malware."

I did not mean to raise a specter of political controversy concerning Sahlins and Confucius Institute as specific concerns of mine, or even specifically, but to consider the question of shunning as a possible method of control versus a method of faithfulness, and whether that can actually work? Is shunning just a Maginot Line? Is not speaking, actually, a dismissal, an erasure? Is that productive? is it effective? Or is it half-baked?  :)

What is intriguing is that Sahlins appropriates a term from software development, "malware," as if to conjure up dark web hackers (the anonymous kind who infiltrate computer networks and break the law by copying in a labyrinthian world where a copy is just as good as the original, as in software pirates) and creating spaces for illegal activity (as in Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts, whoever that person might be). 

In other words, the name "academic malware" creates a strange narrative, constructing a picture of academic illness from a digital virus. It makes me feel queasy. Malware suggests poisoning. To poison is the deliverance of a substance that will destroy the host not at the point of entry, but past the point of entry. 

It is a kind of demonization, isn't it? juxtaposing these two words "academic" and "malware". Is the malware performed academically? or is the malware performed upon the academic? Is this title an avoidance? of seeing it for what it is, a collision of cultures, framing this as an opportunity for understanding to work it all out in a zoped, so to speak? 

It has an appearance of an invitation to a play for dominance between equals (a call to arms to raise antibodies), rather than a play for discovery between equals (a convocation of minds). I'd prefer the latter to the former.

The essential ingredient to achieve the latter over the former has to do with building trust rather than creating fear. Is it about giving, rather than taking, as one's first step? What does shunning mean in this paradigm?

I think about hau, a concept I was introduced to recently, which is a kind of belief in a force binding the receiver and giver, but also about reciprocity, that the act of giving is self-interested, but at the same time has a concern for others, which to me suggests there is a morality to it, a value that is binding in itself. One doesn't get out of the transaction of hau, is what I sense.

I wouldn't call that malware…but something more like love and care, maybe perezhivanie???

Kind regards,

Annalisa