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6 Important Articles
By David Hawkes
- David Hawkes, ‘How Noam Chomsky’s World Works,’ Times Literary Supplement, 8/29/12, pp.3-5 (Link)
- David Hawkes, ‘The Evolution of Darwinism,’ The Nation, 6/10/2002, pp.29-34 (Link)
- David Hawkes, ‘Milton and Usury,’ English Literary Renaissance 41:3, Autumn 2011, pp. 503-528
- David Hawkes, ‘Fiction Sets You Free,’ Times Literary Supplement, 10/24/2008, pp.24-5
- David Hawkes, ‘Faust among the Witches: Towards an Ethics of Representation,’ Early Modern Culture 4, 2004
- David Hawkes, ‘Against Materialism in Literary Theory,’ Early Modern Culture 9, 2012
10 Talking Points
By David Hawkes
- Money becomes Symbol. Today’s purely abstract, nonmaterial forms of money reveal money’s true nature. The illusion of past ages that financial value inhabited precious metals is universally recognized as false. Money is acknowledged as a mere sign.
- Legitimization of Usury. The ancient prohibition against allowing money to breed is now abandoned. This reveals a confusion between the categories of nature (phusis) and culture (nomos).
- Rise of the Performative. Everyone now accepts that signs can do things. This is true of financial signs, and is also reflected in the cultural domination of images: spin, brands, the explosion in technological means of representation.
- Magic Conquers the World. The belief in the power of symbols to alter the objective circumstances is historically known as ‘magic.’ The witch-hunts of early modern Europe were a final, desperate and unsuccessful attempt to prevent magic from dominating all human experience. Similar witch-hunts in twenty-first century Africa, Asia and South America play an analogous role.
- Autonomy of Representation. The media of representation, which usually and properly mediate between the experiencing subject and the objects of experience, have become independently powerful, to the point where they now create the reality they once represented.
- Universal Slavery. The condition of slavery is always understood to involve psychological as well as legal objectification. The psychological condition of a proletarian is indistinguishable from that of a slave. Anyone who works for a wage is a proletarian. We are all proletarians now, and therefore share the mentality once associated with slaves.
- Internalization of the Class Struggle. We are also all bourgeois, since a bourgeois is someone who receives income from capital investments. The contradiction between capital and labor ceases to be incarnated in social classes and is internalized within the individual psyche.
- Objectification of the Subject. Wage labor systematically translates human life into financial form. Due to wage labor’s modern ubiquity, human beings now perceive themselves as objects, not subjects. Another way of saying the same thing: human beings perceive themselves as appearances, not essences. Yet another way of saying the same thing: people experience themselves as bodies, not souls.
- Atheist Fundamentalism. The spread of popular materialism, reflected in the militant atheism of Dawkins et al, springs from the objectifying tendencies of late capitalism. The notion that materialism is a progressive or radical ideology is a pernicious illusion.
- Death of Progress. Any coherent analysis of our situation must abandon the idea that our thought is improving. On the contrary, it is only by rediscovering respect for the ideas of past generations on matters like usury and idolatry that we can arrive at a proper understanding of twenty-first century culture.