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Valences of the Dialectic 1st Edition

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1844674633
ISBN-10: 1844674630
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Editorial Reviews


“A genuinely monumental work that I expect to be referring to for many years.”—Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?

“A profound contribution to dialectical thought.”—Nicholas Brown, Mediations

“Not often in American writing since Henry James can there have been a mind displaying at once such tentativeness and force ... The best of Jameson’s work has felt mind-blowing in the way of LSD or mushrooms: here before you is the world you’d always known you were living in, but apprehended as if for the first time in the freshness of its beauty and horror.”—Benjamin Kunkel, London Review of Books

About the Author

Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. The author of numerous books, he has over the last three decades developed a richly nuanced vision of Western culture’s relation to political economy. He was a recipient of the 2008 Holberg International Memorial Prize. He is the author of many books, including Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Cultural Turn, A Singular Modernity, The Modernist Papers, Archaeologies of the Future, Brecht and Method, Ideologies of Theory, Valences of the Dialectic, The Hegel Variations and Representing Capital.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (November 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844674630
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844674633
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A mentor once called Fredric Jameson "the most dialectical thinker alive." This was astounding praise considering how wide this mentor's circle of associates is and the expansiveness of his knowledge. While my experience with dialectitians was not as broad as his, somehow this description always seemed to corroborate my knowledge.

Thus, it always struck me as strange that Jameson would have never written extensively on Hegel or Marx. His Marxism and Form, while a masterwork, was never a prolonged meditation on Hegel, Marx, or the dialectic itself. So, it was with great anticipation that I received my copy of Valence of the Dialectic. Readers of Jameson would be pleased with this new volume of writing. Not only because the writings themselves are well executed, not only because the analyses in them are astute, but because it fills this gap in Jameson's oeuvre. But this is a book that will not only appeal to those who have an active subscription with the Jameson newsletter, as I do. Narratologists and historians (of a theoretical bent) will also have much interest in this book, especially the final chapters on Paul Ricoeur (so, maybe I should add philosophers). Those who happen to be reading Hegel's Logic will also find the first parts of this book interesting. Those who are now getting acquainted with the dialectic will find this book immensely valuable. Last, but not least, those invested in marxian thought, its history, its contours, will be advised to read this book.

This is not to say that the book is complete or even smooth. It is very much 1) a reading of Hegel's minor Logic, 2) a critical reassessment of Ricoeur's critical project and its application to History, and 3) a review of marxian thinkers, or should I say, simply, dialectical thinkers (Rousseau!).
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Format: Hardcover
Its amazing how far Marxism has come. It has gone from a working-class movement that aimed to change world to a specialist discipline where professors of Literature try to teach marx to the children of the rich at expensive private colleges. "Try" being the operative word because the whole enterprise is so bogged down in incomprehensible specialist language and almost religious dogma that there is little teaching or learning going on.

Fredric Jameson and his late works represent the ultimate triumph of form over substance. Jameson's form is perfect. Its an athletic Marxist intellectual ballet where every move is perfect and every is note is hit. The crowd (small as it is) roars its approval....but its a very old crowd and a crowd going through the motions because while every move is perfect, its completely devoid of intellect, persuasion and new ideas. Its the ultimate in going through the motions intellectually while accompishing nothing.

He rehashes the holy books of the old prophet Hegel, he comtemplates the dialectic, he circles around to the disciples of the savior Marx and then makes a perfect three point landing on the marxist view of history. But where is the relivance? Economics, the working class and the everyday lives of people have been surrendered as a battleground. Rather, the world will be redeemed through cultural criticism grounded in Marxism. It would be sad if it were not so pathetic.

In many respects, the book takes the form of a summing up. A collection of random materials organized into what seems like a tombstone for a whole school of thinking. After all, the form is so very perfect in the book that no one will every be able to surpass it and the contents are so absolutely irrelivant that the book will eventually be forgotten. It points out ironically the ultimate failure of Marxism: That Marxism is a religion so caught up in authority, form and dogma that it can't ever renew itself.
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