Justin Lincoln's notational productions. Thoughts, text, images, sounds, and videos.
And this was one of the things I said to K-Punk in the exchange on his blog, or at least one of the things I was trying to say (I haven’t read that debate since it was posted). If we say that “capitalism” (or fuzzier still, “late capitalism”) has paralyzed the political imagination, it still does not follow that all capitalism oppress the imagination while all Left academic activity liberates it. As I asked K-Punk rhetorically, is Fredric Jameson really more imaginative than Steve Jobs? We may live in a world dominated by “late capitalist” enterprises such as Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, and Facebook. And these companies can usually be found to have some blood on their hands, simply because you can’t grow that large without taking advantage and cutting corners (who wasn’t disturbed by the New York Times exposés on Apple’s metal-polishing practices in China?). Nonetheless, when that much money is poured into something, it’s not just a sign of exploitation and the sickening concentration of wealth, but also the sign of vitality. “Follow the money” is not just a maxim that allows us to point fingers at the morally corrupt. It is also a desperately needed reality principle that shows us where the energy can be found, not all of it bad. And like it or not, Apple and Amazon are stirring up more interest, even among intellectuals, than most academic critiques of capitalism. Is that just because we are all a bunch of brainwashed idiots locked in on our own trivial conveniences? Hardly. It’s because these companies are also doing something exciting that addresses where consciousness really is today, and which it didn’t know that it wanted. Did I know in advance that my brain would catch fire as soon as I had a smartphone and a tablet computer? Not at all. I initially thought both of these things were consumerist pseudo-needs, just like the academic Left still does. But I was wrong, and so were they. To have the right electronic device in your hands can sharpen your brain as much as the discovery of an important new author. We should of course be aware of how the relatively cheap availability of such products leads to explosions, lung disease, and suicides among Chinese factory workers, and it’s a terrible failure of imagination if we close our ears to such reports. But it is also a grievous failure of imagination to be always on the side of the critics and the grumblers. Life has to be optimistic, or it becomes merely reactive. And I really fear that the Left is becoming the permanent homeland of the critics and the grumblers.
I keep coming back to this interview. Lots of good stuff in here.