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By Timothy Bewes

Of the entire techniques that have emerged to explain the consequences of capitalism at the human global, none is extra image or simply grasped than “reification”—the method in which women and men are changed into gadgets, issues. bobbing up out of Marx’s account of commodity fetishism, the idea that of reification bargains an unrivalled software with which to give an explanation for the true effects of the ability of capital on recognition itself.

Symptoms of reification are proliferating round us—from the branding of products and providers to racial and sexual stereotypes, all different types of non secular religion, the expansion of nationalism, and up to date recommendations like “spin” and “globalization.” At any such time, the time period should take pleasure in higher serious forex than ever. contemporary thinkers, notwithstanding, have expressed deep reservations concerning the inspiration, and the time period has develop into marginalized within the humanities and social societies.

Eschewing this pattern, Timothy Bewes opens up a brand new formula of the idea that, claiming that, within the hugely reflective age of “late capitalism,” reification is better understood as a kind of social and cultural anxiety: additional, that such an realizing returns the concept that to its origins within the paintings of Georg Lukács. Drawing upon writers together with Kierkegaard, Herman Melville, Proust and Flannery O’Connor, he outlines a idea of reification which provides to unite politics with fact, artwork with adventure, and philosophy with actual lifestyles.

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Reification: or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism

Of the entire suggestions that have emerged to explain the consequences of capitalism at the human international, none is extra photograph or simply grasped than “reification”—the method during which women and men are changed into items, issues. coming up out of Marx’s account of commodity fetishism, the idea that of reification bargains an unrivalled instrument with which to give an explanation for the true effects of the facility of capital on recognition itself.

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Extra resources for Reification: or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism

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A commitment to 'secular' logic, including its realist implications - Said boasts of inhabiting 'a healthy scepticism about the various idols venerated by culture and by system' - signifies not ideological 'openness', freedom from false consciousness, but a complacent certitude as to the 47 THE TRANSLATION OF GOD INTO MAN REIFICATION, OR THE ANXIETY OF LATE CAPITÂLISM form of conscription to the 'reifred' anthropocentric logic of the here and now, and an extremely prosaic conception of the relation between art and truth.

It is precisely in its 'transcendental' or 'Messianic' aspects, the affirmation of an other to what exists - in the name of which what exists, or what has akeady existed, may be 'saved' - that Marxism retains its revolutionary and progressive potential. The 'mystical' version of Benjamin (çtace Saíd, again) is not an optional extra, somehow decantable from his materialist 'essence', but is precisely constitutive of that essence. 2 Conceptual thought (there is no other kind) is by definition inadequate and vulgarízing; this condition extends to deconstruction, to historical materialism, to the concept of reifìcation, to Jameson's periodizing methodology, and to all that is possible in the sphere of artistic and cultural expression - yet in that very acknowledgement lies the affirmation of something other.

Intrinsic to Marxist periodization, that is to say, is another world in which past, present and future ate tran_ scended. '2a This approach, Malcolm Bull has rightly observed, is not a matter of the present being redeemed by the future, nor even of the past being redeemed by the present, but 'of all times being redeemed from outside of time'2s - from a place and a time, in other words, not bound by such worldly, reified conceptualizations as 'spâce' and'time'. 26 The angel of history is just such a dialectical image; as is the mediating figure ofJesus Christ - who reveals to men both their corruption and their redemption, says Pascal;21 as is the image of the world-changing, truth-revealing, history-creating revolutionary proletariat.

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