Ruth Jennison | “A Whole New Set of Stars”: Poetics and Revolutionary Consciousness

  Current political conditions and conjunctures are making possible a serious reconsideration of the histories, forms, and political urgencies of twentieth and twenty-first century, left anti-capitalist poetry. The end of the Cold War has been registered in transformations of poetry and the scholarly work that attends to it at what can only be described as a glacial pace. Part of this is generational—Marxists are only beginning to repopulate the universities from which they were expelled during the McCarthyism that has re-branded itself as liberal hegemony. Likewise, poetry, so long kept restricted to the hermeticism of New Criticism, and taught largely…

Bertolt Brecht | A lesson in sabotage

    A lesson in sabotage Modifying a machine After the machine so that it won’t work without you So far improve it that you alone are good enough for it Give it a secret fault that you alone can repair Yes, alter it so that any other man will destroy it If the works it without you That’s what we call: modifying a machine. Modify your machine, saboteur!       A lesson in sabotage Sabotage, mother of the factory Just as a mother knows what she has given birth to Wakes in the night at the baby’s slightest…

Jacques Rancière | The Fraternal Image; interviewed by Serge Daney & Serge Toubiana

Originally published as ‘L’Image Fraternelle‘, Cahiers du Cinéma, nos. 268-269, part of a special issue dedicated to “Images de Marque” (July-August 1976). Source: Diagonal Thoughts     Cahiers: If we consider two films, ‘Milestones’ (Robert Kramer & John Douglas) and ‘Numéro Deux’ (Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville), it seems to us that the first has a genealogical dimension that is completely absent in the second. We could say that ‘Milestones’ has a place in a history of “genres” (American cinema) while ‘Numéro Deux’ has a place in a history of “forms” (European cinema). The result is that ‘Milestones’, but perhaps…

The Power of Political, Militant, ‘Leftist’ Cinema. Interview with Jacques Rancière

  By Javier Bassa Vila Jacques Rancière’s thought is undisciplined, at least in two different but interlinked senses. On the one hand, in the 1970s Rancière suggested a reading of Marxism that broke with the dominant interpretations of the time, specially with the scientifist Marxism imposed by Althusser (see La leçon d’Althusser, originally published in 1976 and re-published in 2012 by La Fabrique – and due to come out soon in Spanish). On the other hand, the broad interest that his thought has triggered at an international level seems to be also the consequence of another in-discipline: his reflections are…

Alberto Toscano | Mayakovsky at Mirafori: Operaismo and the Negation of Poetry

  Though many of the watchwords and guiding axioms of Italian operaismo and its successors have percolated into critical discourse on aesthetic production, and multiple analyses of its intersections with visual art and architecture in the 1960 and 1970s have been advanced, little has been made of its specific approach to the question of poetics. This chapter aims partially to correct this tendency by exploring the arguments about the unhappy marriage between avant-garde poetry and communist politics sketched out in some interventions by the key literary critic and historian in the collective of militant intellectuals that made up ‘classic’ operaismo,…

José Revueltas | So that Mayakovsky’s Suicide not be Repeated

  While in Havana for a period of six months in 1961, working at a worthy task at the Cinematography Institute alongside the best youth of Cuba’s film industry, I once suggested to a small group of young intellectuals that we form a club or literary circle to debate the problems a writer must face under socialism. The circle, club, or whatever would develop from that idea, would have the following theme – theme and program at the same time: “so that Mayakovsky’s suicide not be repeated.” The idea did not prosper, although not for any weighty reason. That is,…

Jacques Rancière | Identifications of the People

The people has always been a double figure. At the time of the French revolution, it emerged in the opposition between subject of sovereignty and actual population: miserable people or ignorant and fanatic populace. But this duality is still much older. Aforetime the demos in Athens referred to both the sovereign people of the Assembly and the clutter of common people. Democracy is first of all a sobriquet invented by the Athenian elites to designate this inconceivable government of common people. Each time the people is declared sovereign, the same fundamental paradox, under diverse forms, makes the scene. […]