28 October 2013

Nature, Animals, Intelligence and Madness

'The city child is asked, in effect, to go directly from his symbiosis with his mother to a mastery of social relations. He is to skip the genetic interlude in this task, in which he indulges in eight or ten years in nature, and go directly to the real job of life. During this time his frustration and inarticulate desire will be anaesthetised by portrayals of the nonhuman as entertainment in an array of images--toys, pictures, zoos and gardens, decorations, Disney films, motifs, and designs--a stew of nature so arbitrarily presented that the result of his years of trying to fix it in his heart will only lead to despair. No wonder the child of thirteen turns with keen interest to machines. Man-portrayed nature has proved incoherent.'

08 October 2013

Race and Class in the Cinema of Apartheid

To write a Marxist history of an art form or a cultural process in a time designated as postmodern--or at least with the logic of postmodernism dominating cultural debates--is one of the central challenges of our time. In Europe, three responses from a Marxist perspective have been put forth as the dominance of poststructuralist theory begins to ebb. Italian architecture critic Manfredo Tafuri has argued convincingly that the essential task of today is not so much writing a history of modern art forms as writing a modern history of those forms. In his discussion of the politics of history writing, French philosopher Louis Althusser has theorised the imperative of producing a dialectical concept of the history of an art form rather than merely presenting a narrative account of its history. And in England, writing about the history of structure of the State, Perry Anderson has postulated that history writing should be theoretical and analytical as well as factual and descriptive in order to be adequately comprehensive.