Surreal Economies: The May-June Sessions of the Psychoanalysis and Surrealism Research Group
Since the 1960’s there have been efforts to mediate the heterogeneous style of economic critique associated with French surrealism with the more established German tradition of Critical Theory associated with the Frankfurt School. Situationism, while perhaps the most prominent, was not the only effort in this direction.
Much surreal thinking on economy, exchange, money and society springs from the French sociological tradition. Durkheim and Mauss were influential for Bataille, Callois, and other figures who brought surrealism to bear on rigorous investigations into the nature of exchange and social form. The ethnographic and ontological preoccupations of this tradition often clash with the German critical sociological tradition, with its emphasis on capitalist societies via Marx and Weber.
Surreal Economies is a project in tracing the mediations between, on the one hand, surrealists efforts to describe the life of commodities and the vicissitudes of exchange and circulation, and, on the other hand, the critique of the commodity form as developed in German Critical theory from Lukács to Adorno and beyond.
What relations, what convergences and divergences, are there between the ontological and ethnographic approach taken by surrealist thinkers, and the German approach that takes capitalist society as the horizon of its reflection on economy? Are these simply different languages, and if so how many tongues must we have? What were the political concerns that motivated the research into economy of these thinkers, and what political relevance do they have in the present?
The central object and anchor of our investigation will be Pierre Klossowski’s short book La Monnaie Vivant, translated as Living Currency. Rarely read or commented on outside of France, Michel Foucault declared this text to be “the greatest book of our times…”
idk lets find out ja? ok then…
For more information and for pdfs of readings, contact Scott at email@example.com
Schedule of Readings
Marcel Mauss, “The Gift” / “Essai sur le don”
André Breton, Ode to Charles Fourier
Bataille, “Preface,” “The Meaning of General Economy,” “The Gift of Rivalry: Potlatch” in The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, vol. I
Pierre Klossowski, “Living Currency” / “La Monnaie Vivant”
suggested further materials:
Anselm Jappe: Guy Debord
Baudelaire, “Counterfeit Money”
André Breton, “Crisis of the Object”
Georges Bataille: The Accursed Share vol 1.
Jacques Derrida: “Economimesis”
“Economy” in Encyclopedia da Costa
JF Lyotard, Libidinal Economies
Charles Fourier, The Theory of the Four Movements