Not to be outdone by the boys, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, The Jersey Shore‘s sample-sized sexpot renowned for bitch slaps given and received, has gone decidedly more highbrow than Pauly or Sitch, penning A Shore Thing, a roman à clef detailing the Jersey shore’s many sweaty pleasures. Author Snooki’s protagonist is one Gia Spumante, a café au lait party girl on the prowl for “gorilla juiceheads” and good times.
Botsman and Rogers’ championing business as the solution to the social problems business has created is certainly pragmatic, but it feels a bit like surrender, an admission that the institutions of consumerism and their motivational apparatus can’t be bettered, and that they will continue to constitute our lifeworld. The authors can’t be faulted for their unmistakable enthusiasm for mitigating the selfish individualism that consumerism inherited from capitalism’s early days. But their vision stops far short of the kind of transformation that could make “sharing” and “collaboration” into something other than marketing buzzwords again.
Upon finishing Conspirator one cannot help but feel a certain admiration for Lenin, even if his politics stand at the very antipodes of Lenin’s own. The unflagging discipline with which Lenin pursues his life in exile reminds one of the real transformative effect devotion to an idea can have, and of the undeniable aesthetic power to be felt from witnessing that transformation unfold. For Lenin, a democratic-socialist Russian state was more than simply an idle dream of bohemian dilettantes; it was an ascesis in precisely Foucault’s sense of the term.“Purity of the heart is to will one thing,” Kierkegaard once wrote. And the fact that Conspirator calls to mind Foucault, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard’s ideas more so than Marx’s attests to the fresh life Rappaport has breathed into the career of one of history’s most notorious figures.
The real shortcoming of The Parallax View, as I see it, comes in the final pages, wherein Žižek, having explicated his theory, waxes prescriptive, encouraging his readers to adopt what can only be described as an ascesis of imitatio Bartlebly. Bartleby, the titular character of Herman Melville’s immortal tale, is the pioneering figure of what Žižek deems is the most effective subjective positionality of resistance. The so-called “Bartleby-parallax” manages to avoid being caught up in the Hegelian pseudo-negations of counterhegemonic practices (Oh, the ever elusive Hegelian “negation of the negation!”). And we must, Žižek warns, be as resistant to these pseudo-negations in our “preferring-not-to’s” as to the hegemonic ills the former are intended to redress — I prefer not to eat factory-farmed, adulterated, genetically modified food; I prefer not to purchase food from an organic farming co-operative. Because not to do so and to remain, rather, in the old dialectic of resorting to alternatives to dismaying hegemony, is to remain ensnared in the Foucauldian circuits of power that result in the eternal recursion and reinscription of prevailing sociopolitical relations. The parallactic Bartleby, however, disrupts the workings of ideological apparatuses by cultivating an inner disposition of refusal until, according to Žižek, there opens up possibilities which are not determined by the dialectic.
Not given to overt polemicizing like Orwell, Walker peppers just enough editorializing asides throughout Buying In to let his readers know where he stands on murketing-inflected politics and everything else subsumed under his book’s subject. And these asides are what lead me ultimately to recommend Buying In. They rescue the book from the litany of anecdotes Walker relates of murketing instances that after a while become a bit repetitious, pointing as they all do to the same phenomena.
But it may be that this repetitiousness was exactly Walker’s point. Upon finishing the book, I was left with the single depressing impression that for all its dazzling technological wonders, the new world order coming into view is one that promises monotony — monotony adorned with various “Xtreme,” “aggro” or chic publicity spectacles, but monotony nonetheless.