Breaking away redux

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Sat Apr 23 2005 - 17:27:49 PDT

Well, I finally got the opportunity to see "Breaking Away"
thanks to the loan of a netflix copy. Enjoyed it all over
again. Then I came to the every-handy xmca archive
and found the discussion from last month where the
movie was discussed.

Here is the topic that most interested me:

Breaking Away is a great movie -- won Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
It also contains the most succinct presentation I know of Marx's theory
of alienation: ("Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by
sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks."
Capital Vol. I Chapter Ten )
In other words, the material conditions that limit the freedom of living
workers are imposed by the appropriation past ("dead") labor, which, in
the form of capital, dictates the conditions of employment for current
("living") labor.
The scene takes place outside the IU's (limestone) library building.
A PDF file slideshow of the scene can be downloaded from<>
A lot of resonances in this scene for me. It does all the Tony says it does.
I pondered especially over the exchanges
1) where the son (who is referred to as a (limestone) cutter by his peers
and in the local sociocultural mileu more
generally) tells his father "I am proud to be a cutter": to which his father
replies " You are not a cutter, I am a cutter."
(The father, as a young man worked as a limestone cutter, the son never
has). Both are right, but with somewhat
different meanings that relate the living on of social identity in class
2). Where the father says that all that is left of his labor is a hole in
the ground (the abandoned quarries where the
local kids swim). The son says "I don't mind." The father replies, "I do."
Because of the file size [1.5 Meg] I will keep the file there only for
the next two weeks.
Bonus question for Don Cunningham (or anybody else who's seen this movie
more than once):
What did the father stop himself from telling the son (which would have
completed the sentence that begins "Well, your mom ...") ?
my guess-- -"well, your mom could have gone to college, but......"
 I never made this connection before, but it reminds me of
Sennett's "Hidden Injuries of Class."
Since class consciousness is the topic here, didn't Sennett have a graduate
student who never got his
phd but who is co-author of this book?

Thanks very much for the extra stimulating experience.

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