[iDC] work, play, praxis
cpr at mindspring.com
Fri Jul 3 19:18:51 UTC 2009
Thanks for this post. I have one request (which may appear naive but
I trust that ultimately it will not ) If possible, I would appreciate
your expounding a bit on this section of your 2nd paragraph:
"But the reason that the gift can exist in a liminal state is
precisely because those who give gifts desire it to be otherwise.
(Here, even the most pathological, sociopathic "giver" attests to the
potency of this desire... because it is the very power of the gift to
suggest an alternative that makes fake gifts so potent). So, while we
might not escape the materiality of the object, the desire to carve
out a relationship between subjects that IS outside of this
materiality is what makes it promising."
On Jul 3, 2009, at 10:12 AM, davin heckman wrote:
> This is very useful to think about, Ken.
> I wouldn't call myself a "Lacanian," but I think this is where Lacan
> can be helpful in understanding very practical interactions.
> Circulating through the practical aspects of "the gift" is the
> desire that motivates the whole process. In particular, when the
> gift is juxtaposed to the financial exchange, it expresses this
> restlessness with the very terms of the "trade" while being yoked to
> materiality. At once, in giving gifts one yearns to escape from an
> economy of financial transactions, but at the end of the day, cannot
> escape from it. It is the thing we want, but we can never quite have.
> I do bristle a bit at the use of "strategies" and "tactics" here,
> because it implies in a certain sense that the gift, in the face of
> its materiality, must be folded back into the material. To view it
> in light of Clausewitz's popular quotation, "War is merely the
> continuation of politics," there is a tendency here to see "the
> gift" as simply a special corner of a financialized everyday life
> (and, in many cases, it is!). But the reason that the gift can
> exist in a liminal state is precisely because those who give gifts
> desire it to be otherwise. (Here, even the most pathological,
> sociopathic "giver" attests to the potency of this desire...
> because it is the very power of the gift to suggest an alternative
> that makes fake gifts so potent). So, while we might not escape the
> materiality of the object, the desire to carve out a relationship
> between subjects that IS outside of this materiality is what makes
> it promising.
> This ties back to an ongoing exchange on this list involving Michel
> Bauwens and the question of the "utopian" potential of p2p. And,
> again, the very question of utopia is perhaps the collective
> expression of this desire. That many desperately want to live in a
> world where it is possible to imagine that people might be motivated
> by something other than the zero sum game of exchange attests not to
> the likelihood of utopia or even the rational possibility of such a
> completeness... but rather it attests to the impossibility of such
> a completeness, that desire exceeds finite equations of human worth,
> purpose, utility, etc. What matters more than anything here is the
> desire that motivates us to strive for a utopia that will likely
> never be realized. It is the collective exerience of "the gift."
> And though we should not kid ourselves into imagining that this
> collective gift is going to be known in an "infinite" way, at the
> same time it can yield practical good for many people. And, at a
> subjective level, it is an act of love, which, for those of us who
> find ourselves moved by giving and recieving gifts, it is an act
> which is important for the very fact that it desires an
> alternative. And, because a gift can always be doubted, its
> affirmation both by the giver and reciever is a remarkable occasion
> for solidarity, its reaffirmation the occasion for fidelity.
> (From a very personal perspective, it's what I want more than basic
> material sustenance. I want to work for a world where tomorrow's
> children will be valued in themselves and treated accordingly. I
> want to see human needs met, not as an end in itself, but as a
> consequence of care for the person.)
> But what all of this requires is desire. And desire lives and
> breathes in many corners of human consciousness, but the gift is one
> of these special instances of desire precisely because it is in
> constant tension with materiality in a direct way. [I really need
> to thank Nick Knouf, here, for an exchange we've had on "the
> University" in which he insisted I meditate on the critical
> importance of desire in education.]
> To bring it back to your question of how "global relations of praxis
> (game, gift, work, and yes, still also slavery)" are
> interconnected... I would say that they all spin on "desire" as the
> differential between the material and what it cannot strictly
> account for. At least I hope that desire is the common denominator.
> Davin Heckman
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