Surreal Economies


Groups will meet in person in Bushwick in NYC, Hyde Park in Chicago, and via Interwebz.   For more information or if you are interested in participating, contact Scott at

Date & Time

May. 18 —Jul. 20, 2016

Session I: Wednesday, May 18, 7-9PM Eastern

Session II: Monday, July 4, 7-9 PM Easter

Session III: TBD

Free Event

Event Description


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

Schedule of Readings

session I:

Marcel Mauss, “The Gift” / “Essai sur le don”

session II:


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

session III

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