Reproducing Oneself


Today is Wednesday and thus the day of my Women’s Marx reading group at MEP / Peoples Forum. We are basically a group of 6-10 women that are reading Marx’s Capital Volume I cover to cover. It has been super insightful and has served to jailbreak the text for me. I have learned things like: Marx’s methodology regarding creating abstractions and then deriving concrete examples of the abstractions, or his use of theword ‘appears’ as a clue to the fact that Marx is now going to unpack a concept.

This week is about Rate of Surplus Value, The Working Day, and Rate and Mass of Surplus Value. I have many a passage underlined, but my main takeaway is that humans reproduce themselves through their work. What does it mean to reproduce oneself?  If a company has less money and workers have to work shorter days, surplus value is often not sacrificed, rather it is the meaning of what it takes to reproduce oneself.

Last week, our reading group leader, told a story about a bus driver. She said that she knew people who complained about a bus driver getting a pension because the job was not difficult (anyone could do it). But she said, it destroys your body, it also steals your attention, the money you need to reproduce yourself  (keep yourself healthy in body and mind) is what is represented in this pension and that is not even enough.

When we think in this way, how are we slowly neglecting the job or reproducing ourselves. How are we changing what it means to reproduce ourselves. Isn’t life hacking a way to reproduce ourselves less / hack self-reproduction?

The labor-process is the one thing that Marx analyzes as a process.   Raw material is taken as constant capital – a thing.  But raw material is something that also has to reproduce itself, it is also the result of a process.  It is the MISPRICING and exclusion of these hidden variables that lead to exploitation:  what is the true state of a human, and how to reproduce a human and likewise the process that leads to the creation of raw material, and how to reproduce it.

In the Marx Capital Vol 3 reading group (because I cannot do anything partially), we go around the room reading the book and then breaking if there is a concept someone does not understand or that someone wants to discuss.

During the last class, I had a fever daydream that this is perhaps similar to sitting around on a Saturday and reading the Torah or the Talmud. That people perhaps read the work of Freud, or Jung in a similar way. Heck, when I was in college this is how we read Plato.  I told a friend of mine this, and he said, yes this is what people did before TV. He also said this is what people do in cults.

In a related fever day dream, I considered turning reading group meditation into a narrative, a sort of sister narrative to Italo Svevo’s Conscious of Zeno, in which the character Zeno writes an episodic autobiography on the prompting of his psychiatrist.  What about an episodic autobiography of a life in reading groups. This may be super boring or SUPER INTERESTING (especially if some characters are in bed … naked) … like perhaps a Marx in Bed reading group.

Artist Writing


Over the past year or so I have been reading more writings by artists. This includes correspondences, journals, and art reviews of other artists/artworks.

For example: Philip Guston, Adrian Piper, Van Gogh, Carroll Dunham. Why have I been doing this? Sometimes I read journals, and this is the pleasure of biography. This is the sense of understanding the trials and tribulations of an artists life and how an artists deals with personal struggling. However, more than that, I am interested in how artists are reflecting on their personal art practice and other art works (what inspires them). I have a voracious appetite for this, Why?

I have no idea.

That is why I am writing this blog post.

I made a number of false starts in my analysis. I started writing about the changing nature of art, the artist, the interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary nature of art today, art and commerce, art and propaganda (advertisement), aesthetics, craft…. naw.

Then I started thinking about creation in general:

Why create anything? What do people find interesting in other people’s creations? What motivates people to create in the first place?

But I am not interested in all creative function. A business person can be creative, and this is different than the creative activity of a painter. I am more interested these days in the creative activity of the painter. How to keep working in a medium that seems almost exhausted? What is the impulse? Because there is something that draws me to this kind of work as well, but I do not know what it is.

To create means to create something new. This is not some sort of capitalist fetsh. How to create something when it seems that everything has already been created?  How to create something with the burden of history and information?

To that end, if anyone has any good recommendations on artists writing about their work and art that they like… please let me know.