Spivak walked into a dentists waiting are and took a seat. Shuffling through the magazines on the side table in the corner of the room, she groaned at the selection and said in a frustrated tone “What horrible writing!”
“Excuse me,” Foucault said lowering a magazine he held in front of his face until then, “I thought perhaps we had moved past these cheap shots.”
Spivak shook her head, “Oh, Foucault! I was not even discussing anything of yours this time…although your inclination that I was, perhaps, speaks to some deeper feelings, no?”
Foucault looked excitedly as an older white man opened the door letting out a young college-aged student. The old man looked at the clipboard in his hand and announced, “I’ll see Guattari, now!”
Foucault signed as it was not his name being called once again. The older dentist added after waiting a few moments, with a slight smirk “Is he a ‘body without organs’, once again?” Many in the waiting room laughed as the bathroom door opened and Guattari emerged.
“How I wish it were possible…”, Guattari said following the dentists in, who closed the door behind him.
Spivak looked over at Foucault holding a “People” magazine in front of his face. “Going to hide from criticism behind some more popular work, are we?” She smiled. “That is rather like you”,
At that point Deleuze walkedi nto the waiting room from outside and upon seeing Spivak dropped the cup of coffee he was holding in his left hand on the ground, creating a large mess on the floor. Foucault said looking to Deleuze and then back to Spivak , “Yes, she’s here…”
The woman behind the waiting room’s front dest said annoyed to Deleuze “Just come check in. we’ll get someone to clean that up. Don’t worry.”
“Well, I am sorry,” Spivak began, “that my criticism of how many of you write as intellectuals is at times harsh, but I believe my valid concerns should be further discussed.”
“Fine,” Deleuze said sitting down with Spivak between he and Foucault, “let’s discuss this. Let’s make ‘the subaltern speak.'”
Spivak began shaking her head already. She turned to Foucault and asked “Do you hopefully by now see what was wrong with what was just said, now?”
Foucault nodded unsure, “Well, of course I do! Let’s see…should we wait for Guattari to come back and have him help in a discussion of how the subaltern can speak?”
Spivak shook her head again, “see, sure, we could add him to the conversation. To the ‘talk’, if you will. But do you not see who we’ve not added yet, in reality to this discussion?”
“Well,” Foucault paused. “I think Fanon has an appointment a bit later, today…”
“No!” Spivak said. “However, he could probably be helpful here. Fanon understands better than I believe you do that in situations, and conversations, there are those whom are left out. As he described in his book ‘Black Skins, White masks’, African-Americans are continuously marginalized in society, and made to live their lives in an uncomfortable juxtaposition with white life. They are continuously by the functions of society made to see living up to that ideal, as a goal of sorts, feeling always lesser than.”
Deleuze and Fanon nodded, understanding her words a bit more.
Spivak continued, unsatisfied with just their nods, “Anyway, the subaltern! It is the subaltern whom you’ve not added to the conversation yet. You are talking about making the subaltern speak, but have yet to actually truly consent with their voice being in the discourse.”
“Oh,” Deleuze said, “Wellm” he said gesturing to a custodial worker cleaning the coffee he had spilled “As a caring leftist I am truly concerned for the exploited workers struggle. I always allow for their inclusion in the conversation, and it is insulting for you to say otherwise”.
“I too,” Foucault began, “play a conscious role in giving a voice to the voiceless in all I write. It is, I feel my greatest duty as an intellectual.”
“As an intellectual, the truest question you should be asking,” Spivak began to retort, “is can the subaltern speak. Your discourse too often cricles around giving a voice, making them speak, allowing their inclusion…it is as if you are unable to see in your rhetoric the perpetuation in the western mentalities of what we should oppose. It’s at times far too unforgivable a betrayal, the epistemic violence you are party to consenting with.”
As the custodial worker left, Spivak rose in anger, “in your deep care, citing your leftist beliefs, you not only made that one individual an incorrectly homogeneous example of an exploited, you also did an even bigger disservice.”
“Overgeneralizing,” Foucault explained, hoping to beat Spivak to the punch in making her point.
Spivak stood and followed the custodial workers path “You once, AGAIN, spoke for them. For your own gain…and therefore played a role in him not speaking. It is arguable whether or not he is or isn’t the subaltern…I would barely consider him compared to those subaltern on an international level, but, regardless, I have learned perhaps that othering discourse is troubling. However, you too must reanalyze the discourse that you participate in, and it’s troubling effects, my friends.” Spivak then walked off away from Deleuze and Foucault.
The dentist then walked in, as Guattari left the dentists office, and then the waiting room altogether. The Dentist then said scanning the room. “Durkheim! Durkheim?”
Foucault grumbled and said in an angry voice, “Come on, he isn’t even in the same era with us!”
Deleuze said to Foucault sadly, “Do you think we really care more about hearing oursevles talk than about hearing the subaltern speak?”
An angry man lowered and newspaper and yelled, “Yes! You obviously do! That is the whle point!” Deleuze and Foucault looked at him shocked as the man raised the newspaper up to his face again. The man said shaking his head as he attempted to focus back on the article he was reading, “This is the last time I choose to visit ‘intellectual dentistry'”.
Role and Audience: You are writing a journal entry about an incident in either your diary or your live journal or personal blog. The ‘you’ does not have to actually be you. Your audience is either just yourself, or your online readers.
Format: A journal entry that is for your private diary, or a post for your personal blog followers. This style is open to your personal preference in that one could write this in a variety of styles.
Task:You are a sociology student who wants a career as an intellectual and you are at a holiday with some extended family members who are not in the academy, or professional intellectuals. Your extended family member asks you if you have figured out what you want to do with your life. Explain to them that you want to be an intellectual—explain what it would be like to be an intellectual and what the role of the intellectual is, citing Foucault and Deleuze. Also include an explanation of the concept of the Body without Organs as an example of a concept that an intellectual produces. You may also discuss what it means to practice theory. You can address these in any order.
After completing the exam: Please give yourself the grade you think that you have earned, with additional reflections on assignments and your thinking process. You may also write instructions you would give if giving the assignment to another student.
It was Thanksgiving and it is one those family reunion I wish I was not involved in. My uncles, cousins, and aunts came to visit me in my Brooklyn home. They love telling stories of their successful children. My Uncle Jim for example mentions how his son just finished Medical school and is a Medical Resident at Mount Sinai Hospital. My cousin Andrew is bragging about how he is a software designer for Microsoft and he is going to be making close to $200,000 per year. While money is important, there are some things in life money cannot buy. For me it is intellectual freedom and curiosity.
My Uncle Jim is surprised I have not bragged about my accomplishments as the other members of my family have had. Uncle Jim asks me, what are doing with you life?
I ask him I am completing my phD in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. I have been doing ethnographic research of new Asian American Families and how they assimilated into America Society for the past 5 years. I completed all of my core classes and I just have to finish my 40 page doctoral thesis with my doctoral advisor.Uncle Jim seems unimpressed. He asks me, when are you going to be a successful a manager, businessman, or high level professional like the rest your family?
Uncle Jim reminds me that money is power. I tell Uncle Jim that I want to be an intellectual and I want to challenge the hidden power structures that we can't see. I want to work with the Proletariat to reveal the hidden powers of the Bourgeosie. I did not want to just study Marxist ideas, but to put them in practice.
Uncle Jim asks me, "What do Intellectuals do"?
I explain to Uncle Jim that Gilles Deleuze and Michel Focault both explained that the role of the intellectual.They believed that the role of the intellectual is not to serve the interests of the Capitalists and Bourgeoisie and, instead, they should help the Proletariat win power from the Bourgoisie. In society, there exists a constant power struggle between the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. Karl Marx said that all of history is a history of class struggle. Marx believed that the proletariat are aware of their oppression but unable to unite and overthrow the Bourgoisie and the capitalist system. Deleuze and Focault believe that struggle of the intellectuals and the Proletariat against capitalism and the Bourgeoisie is theory. Theory is practice. Theory is the struggle of the Proletariat against the Bourgeoisie for power. This constant power struggle is reflected by theory.
Uncle Jim asks me, "What can an Intellectual produce that is useful to society"?
The intellectual can produce can produce concepts that can impact many academic subjects. The Body without Organs concept, for example is a academic concept that has meaning many different academic fields. The Body without Organs is a theoretical state which man can never naturally reach. This state is devoid of any outside influence and is the natural emotions and feelings a human being can possess. The Body without Organs is not affected by socialization, the process of how humans learn social norms, customs, and values. The study of the Body without Organs can be helpful in the fields of Poltical Science, Sociology, Psychology, and other Social Science fields. This concept can help shape many social policies in America.
After I finished explaining this Uncle Jim, Uncle Jim was floor was at his cellphone playing video games. I asked him if he understood what I said, and he said confidently, "Sure, why wouldn't I". I believe intellectuals have a responsibility to help the proletariat against the Bourgeosie. If all the intellectuals of the world untied with the Proletariat, the class struggle would end with a victory for the Proletariat. I think to myself, Uncle Jim is wrong. Money is not power. It's the people. It's society. Money is the illusion of power that the Bourgeosie uses against the Proletariat to keep the Proletariat oppressed. The Bourgeosie controls the means of production and they control the wealth of the Proletariat.Once people realize this, there will be a re-distribution of power that favors everyone, not just the Bourgeosie. For now, I have to finish my doctoral paper and meet with my doctoral advisor this week. I hope everything goes well. I hope there is no more family reunions in the near future.
In the article “Matter, Life, and Other Variations. Or why I am not a Materialist”, Elizabeth Groscz is trying to say that not every concept or idea can be categorized especially when doing reearch. She thinks there some things as social scientists we cannot quantify and put into a hierarchy. She uses the idea of chaos to explain that some things in life that does not have an order such as the universe and the creation of life but they see so natural and complete to researchers. I found it interesting how Grosz uses scientific research and terminology to explain concepts in the social sciences and philosophy. Grosz is right. In life, there are some thing you cannot categories and quantify. The Arab spring for example, was a spontaneous movement against autocratic regimes to lasted for 30 to 40 years. I always asked myself, if these autocratic Arab regimes were in power for 30 to 40 years, why are they facing significant resistance now? Libya, Syria, and Egypt have been all been under autocratic regimes for at least 40 years. These countries have never seen the culture of democracy yet now they are totally transformed.
I think the Arab Spring movements is one kind of chaos Grosz mentions.
Born/Died July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929
Occupation Sociologist, Economist, Professor
Education Carleton College, John Hopkins University, Yale University, Cornell University
Major Theories Conspicuous consumption/Evolutionary Economics
Influenced by Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer,
Family Ellen (1st W), Ann (2nd W), Ann (s-d), Becky (s-d)
Thorstein Veblen (Thorstein Bunde Veblen), born July 30, 1857, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin- Aug. 3, 1929, near Menlo Park, California. Veblen struggled to gain the connections required in order to become a member of the faculty and several universities, due likely to his lack of knowledge in the areas of Christianity, as well as his lifelong possessed Norwegian accent (not having learned English, until entering school). Eventually, after spending much time in the realm of education, further acquiring knowledge, Veblen was able to impress J. Laurence Laughlin so greatly, that he took him as a fellow in economics, which got his foot finally into the door of teaching at the University of Chicago. It would not be until another 4 years at the University however that he would finally earn the distinction of being an instructor, at 39 years old. At this time, Veblen would pen his first, and perhaps most influential book The Theory of the Leisure Class, subtitled An Economic Study of Institutions (1899). Here, he applied the theories of Social Darwinism to the economics of his time. Later works similarly built upon these connections, such as The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904), which further highlighted the inefficacies of modern day businessmen. His critiques ability to capture audiences not limited to intellectuals, as his witty critiques interested many, allowed for his works to pass barriers outside of those limited to sociological and economic scholars. His beliefs regarding efficiency over profit were in many ways central to the development of “technocracy”, though his true affiliations with this train of thought are at times disputed.
Born July 30, 1857, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, to Norwegian parents, Veblen didn’t learn the English language until finally entering school. He excelled early within academia, graduating from Carleton University in only three years, where he was noted as often challenging current ideologies in innovative ways. A student of Philosophy at John Hopkins University, he soon moved onto Yale where he would eventually acquire a Ph.D at the age of 27. It was here that he, discouraged by inability to find a job, returned to his family’s farm in Minnesota and spent the next seven years reading, and becoming even more knowledgeable of the minds and ideas of his times. In the middle of this reclusive time, he married Ellen Rolfe, a wealthy woman from an influential family. In 1887, still unable to find work, he opted to return to school at Cornell University as a Graduate student.
It was here that here that he finally impressed J. Laurence Laughlin, who would take him on as a fellow in economics, when Lauglin went to Chicago University as the department head. Here he would later become an instructor, and publish his first and still-read today book, The Theory of the Leisure Class.
Despite becoming renowned for his writing, his academic career was plagued by mediocrity and scandal. His classes were often highly criticized, as he himself disliked much of the functioning of academia. He was eventually removed from Chicago University due to allegations of infidelity in his personal life. After being appointed to associate professorship at Stanford University, the same fate was met by him, wherein he was forced again to resign due to the same issues in his personal life.
Here, Veblen would eventually earn another job, despite a great pay decrease at the University of Missouri, where he taught between 1911 and 1918. In the midst of this stint, he divorced his first wife Ellen, and married Anne Bradley, whom already had two daughters from previous relationships.
Here he began writing even more and elaborated in writing on many of his established concepts, including inefficacy of our current economic systems to properly and effectively utilize humankind;s energy, as well as concepts regarding profit-driven businesses being in direct opposition to the possibility of enduring peace.
Upon leaving his teaching position, Veblen pursued a job with the Food Administration in Washing D.C, however, this was short lived due to his economic principals and ideas not being of help to his employers. He moved on to join the editorial staff of The Dial in 1918, where many of his works were translated into books, or excepted into them. Among these works he discussed economic reforms that highlighted the role of engineers as being the best to achieve efficiency over profit, which would lead to optimal economic societal functioning.
Upon the death of his wife, Veblen invested a great deal of energy into his stepdaughters with whom he created a strong relationship. His stepdaughter Becky would eventually live with him in Palo Alto, California once he gave up teaching, where he died in the cabin in which they lived. His reputation was boosted still after his death, especially at the onset of the great depression soon after his passing, which gave validation to some of the critiques of the economic system as it functioned.
Conspicuous Consumption Theory
The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899), Veblen’s first and most widely recognized book was one that was able to reach far beyond the scope of intellectuals and scholars. It was highly praised at its time as a witty observation of the upper-class, and their antics, in a witty manner that appealed to those outside of academia. This is a pleasant fact, as with much of Veblen’s ideas, they were often highly criticized within sociological circles, garnering more criticism than support. However, many of his ideologies sprung forth other movements and ideas, and are still discussed today, particularly ideas expressed in The Theory of the Leisure Class.
This book discussed the practice of conspicuous consumption in particular, and its interplay in economic materialism. Among this dynamic is the proclivity to portray opulence through the purchase of luxuries. He noted this, and other such economic activities participated by those in upper echelons as demonstrations of a sort of digression; a barbaric presentation of wealth and accumulation not for use, but for the luxuries themselves (i.e. jewelry, frivolous clothing and foods, large properties). Ultimately Veblen illuminates not only the silly nature of these displays, but implicates these inclinations in the ongoing practices that result in an unstable and inefficient economic system. It should be noted along with conspicuous consumption Veblen too discusses conspicuous leisure as a complementary term.
In addition to his own works that further developed his proposed ideas in The Theory of the Leisure Class, Velben greatly inspired “technocratic” ideas of economic functioning, as well as truly solidifying the study of the afore mentioned consumerism phenomenon through the coining of conspicuous consumption. A great example of his influence on this is the use of the term “Velben Goods”, which denotes those goods whose demand actually increases upon the increase of its price, due to the pull of it being purchased being the great price it possesses
Of interest in his work, as well, are certain critiques denoting how this type of display facilitates greatly in even middle-to-lower classes, where displays are sometimes exuded in the treatment and duties of the wife, and as such, is also intertwined in influencing the reproduction of the family system as seen across classes.
“The leisure rendered by the wife in such cases is, of course, not a simple manifestation of idleness or indolence. It almost invariably occurs disguised under some form of work or household duties or social amenities, which prove on analysis to serve little or no ulterior end beyond showing that she does not and need not occupy herself with anything that is gainful or that is of substantial use.” The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899)
Veblen’s first and most notable work is The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899). He expanded upon the ideas in this work in, regarding consumerism and efficiency in works such as The Instinct of Workmanship and the State of the Industrial Arts (1914), as well as Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution (1915), where he analyzed how German’s autocracy was perhaps able to gain greater efficiency, albeit in a manner that was altogether unsustainable.
Through being part of the editorial staff for the literary and political magazine The Diallater in his career, he was able to write several articles, some of which were able to be published into their own book, The Vested Interests and the State of the Industrial Arts (1919), or were excerpted into other works and collections.
“Thorstein Veblen”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012
“Thorstein Veblen, Economics.” Thorstein Veblen, Economics. University of Chicago, Centennial Catalogues, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/projects/centcat/centcats/fac/facch09_01.html>
Veblen, Thorstein, and Stuart Chase. The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. New York: Modern library, 1934. Print.
Judith Butler believed that representational politics is not the way to assess the progress of the feminist movements around the world. Women of color and working class women are totally left of the picture. The second wave movement of feminism emphasized the differences in class, race, and ethnicity of women in the feminist movement.Butler points out that by the fact that Feminist movements acknowledge the power of the patriarchy and still negotiate with the patriarchal system is a sign that they are still being oppressed by the patriarchal system. Butler cannot accept this and instead she rejects the validity of representational politics and says that groups in general that claim to represent large segments of the population are in reality perpetuating the system of oppression that they seek to eliminate.
Contrastingly, Jasbir Puar critiques Butler’s epistemological views and the concept of intersectionality,the idea that class, race, ethnicity, and other labels define people. Puar accepts a largely ontonological point of view while Butler accepts a largely epistemological view. Puar believes that we simply cannot just label people by whatever descriptive noun we can think of. Instead,Puar uses the word assemblage to describe the ontological becoming of humans. Puar believes that human beings are more than just labels. They are complex beings that are affected by sophisticated environmental factors that cannot easily be described.
by Mossaraf Hossain