Re: [xmca] And now for something completely different: Larry Craig

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 15:09:59 PST

Dear Paul:
  Let me try to summarize your position. It is wrong to speak of an "individual" mind because minds only instantiate meanings that are already potential in the sociocultural collective. This is Wolff-Michael Roth's position, and I've already described my disagreement with it.
  It seems to me that to the extent this is true, it is trivial: what is "potential" in the collective culture is potential because it is performable by individuals. To the extent that it is nontrivial, it is untrue; if individuals could ONLY perform what was already potential in collectives, creativity would not be truly creative, and revolution would not be truly revolutionary; what is potential in collectives could not itself develop. At critical moments in history ("To the Finland Station") individuals must be able to create new potential in a culture, else cultures could not acually progress.
  You also believe that it is wrong to speak of "sundry sociocultural artefacts" because the correct term is cultural capital. This term seems to me an idealist transformation of Marx's notion of capital, and I do not agree with it.
  It seems to me that capital can be exchanged with labor, that it can be consumed, and that it can be divided into variable and fixed forms which are linked but distinct in ways that are crucial to the booms and busts of capitalist economic cycles. None of these things are true of so-called "symbolic" capital, as far as I can see. So I think that "symbolic capital" is nothing but a rather unfortunate metaphor (and it's suspicously flattering to intellectuals).
  I liked your comment on how archaeology can "bring cultures back to life" for folkloric re-enactment; in a way it makes my comment far better than I could have done myself. The insistance that sensuous experience cannot in ANY sense be bounded by the skin and consciousness cannot in ANY sense be bounded by the skull is, at bottom, the same impulse that makes people insist upon the eternity of our cultural patrimony and our ideology. It is a fleeting hope for an afterlife, and that's exactly why I reject it.
  Korea is probably the best place on earth to be an old man, but it is an even better place to be dead. People do ritual "chesa" (feasts where food is offered to the dead and then consumed by their living descendants) unto four generations of ancestors. I once asked what happened after four generations. Did those with descendants suffer the same fate as "hungry ghosts" without male heirs? After four generations, I was told, the dead must make way for the living.
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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Received on Thu Dec 6 15:12 PST 2007

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