Updated: May 13, 2021
Study Group With Alberto Toscano
Link to all readings: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Xt7SIMy-Ez6Q_XDmR3pCT1ePlU_B_V6g?usp=sharing
Lecture from Session_1
Saturday, April 17th @ 9am PST
Alberto Toscano, 'Materialism Without Matter: Abstraction, Absence and Social Form', Textual Practice, 28.7 (2014): 1221-1240
In light of the contemporary theoretical infatuation with ‘new’ materialisms, matter and materiality, this essay revisits the heterodox Marxian thesis according to which materialism may, in E ́tienne Balibar’s formulation, have ‘nothing to do with a reference to matter’. The article explores variants of this materialism without matter: Antonio Gramsci’s objections to Bukharin’s ‘Marxist sociology’, Theodor W. Adorno and Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s critiques of epistemology, and Isaak Illich Rubin’s elucidation of the categories of Marx’s value-analysis. It foregrounds a shift in this counter-intuitive materialism from subjective praxis to the categories of capital, in which ‘not one atom of matter enters’ (Marx). This recovery of an understanding of materialism as the critical analysis of real, social abstractions concludes with a reconsideration of Louis Althusser’s ‘aesthetic’ reflections on the materialism of absence, as featured in his philosophical appreciation of the paintings of Leonardo Cremonini.