The Red Tower or Weirding Wall street

08Oct11

As I leaving the Public School Lecture in NYC I gave on Geophilosophy and Horror I shared part of my subway ride with one of the audience members. As our conversation was winding down he asked me where I was going and so I asked him the same. He said he was off to Wallstreet because he had heard about an Ad Busters event going on down there, he wasn’t sure anyone would show up. Of course that was September 17th.

I am not a political thinker, it is not one of my strong suits. But let’s try something weird:

The place is a thin line, overrun by ghosts of mud walls and ramparts and Dutch business men. A place fueled by train tracks and the Eerie Canal. After an infamous 1920 bombing which left the place tomb like: “It was as though some gigantic force had overturned the building and then placed it upright again, leaving the framework uninjured but scrambling everything inside” Too bad the headless horseman wasn’t around.

But it appears as a place always scrambled, that practically collapsed due to a wandering thought – is the money there safe? Littered with anti-bomb sculpture and drug fueled traders doing less than writing reports with their soft machines but instead feeding panic and anxiety about patterns and behaviors already handed over to algorithms. In a sense its a horror like Ligotti’s The Red Tower – where a factory produces worthless, semi-living novelty items and delivers them into peoples homes. It’s been discussed here and here. There’s something horrible that there’s awful production and a gray landscape – a kind of thinking that’s the horror within capitalism itself, one too often deployed, you’re either working or your not. There’s no discussion of the monstrosities being produced it is work, work to be done, production in and for itself. But there needs to be a horror beyond the factory, a post Fordist-Horror, algorithmic and financial horror.

As Harvey discusses here the central problem is that capital simply shifts problems globally (though he doesn’t discuss the technological aspects of this) and that place, the economic disintegration of place becomes more and more alien, more and more distant. Yet, complexities rely on nodes, there are places like wall street, certain aspects of the frame remain undamaged after the bomb-scrambling. Buildings are hollowed out and massive trenches dynamited to slightly increase the speed of data for brokers, to shave hundredths of seconds off for trades.

The physicalities of capital can still be haunted but it is increasingly difficult to think the causes, spewed outwards, from those places. Zombies don’t quite fit metaphorically anymore. This is different type of swarm. “At this third level, these rumors maintain, the factory’s schedule of production is being carried out in some new and strange manner, representing its most ambitious venture in the output of putrid creations [..] I myself have never seen the Red Tower – no one ever has.”

For something actually substantial read this.

Addendum

Zachary responds to my post here. He is right about the zombie comment – I guess the question is whether the zombies are read as the insatiably desire of people codified by capital (think of the iconic scene from Dawn of the Dead where the characters are staring down at the zombies from the rooftop of the mall and state ‘they’re us’) or whether the zombie is read as the return of the dead worker who has no labor and begins to feast on the others. This later meaning is more like the role of the zombies in Romero’s Land of the Dead where the zombies invade the rich community of Fiddler’s Green and learn to use tools to fight their once and future oppressors.

 

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One Response to “The Red Tower or Weirding Wall street”

  1. You do well to cite Harvey’s analysis of capital; it’s probably the best academic Marxist perspective that’s out there, aside from Moishe Postone’s. One of the most glaring problems with the supporters of Occupy Wall Street and its copycat successors is that they suffer from a woefully inadequate understanding of the capitalist social formation — its dynamics, its (spatial) globality, its (temporal) modernity. They equate anti-capitalism with simple anti-Americanism, and ignore the international basis of the capitalist world economy. To some extent, they even reify its spatial metonym in the NYSE on Wall Street.

    Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, but it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. So far it has been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

    To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

    “Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies”

    THE LEFT IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE LEFT!


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