Re: Forgetting

Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Fri, 3 Nov 1995 20:57:09 -0600

Here is a portion of a note I wrote to Jim Martin to clarify my position
regarding this thread. It also ties into and essentially agrees with Jay's
and John's recent suggestions on all of this:

>Mimetic capital is what Mcreery seemed to be alluding to - the Late
capitalist Marxian idea that knowledge is commodifed in late capitalism (one
might ask when it was not commodified?), such that it becomes its own
support structure and value system - it becomes objectified. Let me try to
translate this - the markets of academia require an appearance of novelty in
order to positively evaluate knowledge offered by budding academicians.
Thus, old ideas become wrapped in new cloth and tossed about as if newly
discovered. This really isn't limited to late capitalism, as the history of
philosophy and damn near everything els teaches us. While recognizing the
value of the argument, I partly counter it by saying that the analytical
position which allows us to recognize this is one that positions us, as
analysts, above the action, the practice, of our own political and economic
contexts. So, we experience the same pressures (ie publish or perish, etc)
that we analyze and therefore ought to recognize both the 'objective facts'
(as John has done) and the practical facts - as I tried to do. The
practical facts, in this case, are that to sell an old idea in a new skin,
one must not only add something new and reinvigorating to it, but one must
translate it into today's terms. Thus - historical situatedness, etc..
>I hope that this clears things up a bit.

Matt Tomaso.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.
Phone/Fax 512-453-6256