has beens: forsaken and forgotten between fetish and fact

Revolutionary potential in the disposable and discarded…

Mellamphy:The only ‘historical object’ is the one that has been thrown out,rejected, and exists as a fact (fait accompli) and hence in fact (factually) rather than ‘fact’ or ‘fait’ishly. Its status as ‘has-been’ affords it the possibility to speak something entirely new and novel. For instance, in the world and words of the child we find “prickly chestnuts that are spiky clubs, tin foil that is hoarded silver, bricks that are coffins, cacti that are totem poles, and copper pennies that are shields;” the babbling baby who calls the woodblock a ‘ga’ and the cardboard box a ‘ba’ finds the object’s purpose and uses many and varied (be it to taste, to touch, et cetera). The infant’s and child’s fascination for (indeed attraction to) discarded, forgotten objects is often taken as a source of embarrassment for its elders, but for (Walter ) Benjamin this vigilance and materialist concern (fascination too) becomes the area of inquiry and primary methodology of materialist historiography….

AC:i post a wrapper from a pack of "horseshit cigarettes." i mean, does it get any better? i have no idea where it came from, where i got it, who did it, how old it is, etc. etc. but here it is. if i remember correctly, it packaged real cigarettes, too. and, NO, i didn't try smoking one.

…The openness to the object establishes a primal relation between object and subject by making it possible to understand objects before they become fetishized as commodities (in their ‘infancy’) as well as afterward, in the aftermath of such imbrication (in their ‘history’). Whether it be a babbling baby or an elementary initiate into ‘language’ (the ‘word’ and the ‘world’) the child engaged with a fallen item—an object dropped on the floor, left behind or forsaken—opens up myriad possibilities and potentialities in the object’s name and nature. Old discarded objects, especially those which have ceased to be ‘useful’ as commodities, are the key to uncovering the ‘matrix’ or ‘matter’ of history—its fully wor[l]dly dimension or monadological actualization. In other words, in the infantile reframing (its objective articulation) and renaming (its linguistic articulation) of the world is the potential for and the anticipation of a reconciliation between language, experience and nature. Read More:http://www.janushead.org/11-1/MellamphyandMellamphy.pdf

By Art Chantry (art@artchantry.com):

items of interest today (from my vast collection of crap). first up is a 78 rpm of elvis presley’s “blue moon”. back in the early 1950′s , when 45 rpm records were first entering the market, those little 7″ plastic disks with the big holes were way cool. you wanted to impress your pasl with your latest technology (sorta like the i-pad, ya know?) this person decided to crudely grind out the center of the 78 rpm (10″) record and then pop in a 45 adapter. that way he could actually fool his pals into thinking he was hip to the latest tech savvy universe! a

---i had a "cousin-in-law" who was extremely pretentious and all that upwardly-mobile preppie crap sort of way. back when cell phones were just being introduced (remember those big boxy stupid things that looked like little ww2 military walkie-talkies?) he actually bought one of those novelty paper fold-up FAKE cell phones. he used to drive around LA with the fake cell phone held to his ear and pretend to talk into it. he did this with total sincere desire to look 'cool'. later, somebody actually broke into his car and stole it! true story! i swear!---

another number  today is a comic book (sent to me by ferko goldinger). just wanted to point out where the hard right backlash politics of today all really began.

---Mellamphy:the first about the ‘magical force’ of ‘the child’s world and ways’, the second about the ‘great and irreplaceable’ achievement of children and their capacity to reconcile modern technology and ancient symbolism—point to the powerful example Benjamin saw in the toddler’s interaction with the objects of the world (‘messy antics’ as we will call them). Children approach the objects of the world as things imbued with remarkable—indeed revolutionary—possibilities. For children, the most valuable objects are the very things that adults consider useless trash. Benjamin saw in children and child’s-play the emancipatory potential that was once the promise .......Read More:http://www.janushead.org/11-1/MellamphyandMellamphy.pdf

Rchard Mellanphy on Walter Benjamin:For one thing, hidden within the child’s fascination for discarded, forgotten objects was a radical openness to and consciousness of the objects themselves. Benjamin argued that the historical materialist, too, must take up what has been left behind, examine it—explore it—and engage it as an active thing; ‘activate’ it, ‘animate’ it, breathe ‘life’ back into it (or allow its life to breathe onto/into ours). The materialist historian, like the infant, must open herself up to the historical possibilities of the object at hand. The significant point for Benjamin is that, in having been forgotten, the discarded object nonetheless continues to exist apart from the continuum of progressive historical time. In being discarded, the object that had once been a part of the historical process as a reified or fetishized commodity, dies a social death; but it is precisely at the juncture in which it exists as a ‘has-been’ that its potential to reveal the ‘not-yet’ emerges (its chance to be ‘born[e] again’). This two-fold movement opens up within the object itself, and therefore it points to two dimensions: on the one hand, as an extinct and bygone object it is able to demystify the structure of progressive history by exposing its ‘mythic’ dimension.

The once-fetishized object in its decayed and disabused/used form exposes the collective fantasy or ‘wish-image’ that had once made it a valued object of social desire. On the other hand, this demystification or demythification also points to the potential for change inherent in the obsolete object itself. This latter aspect constitutes its redemptive dimension: although it is ‘fallen’ or abjected, in the sense that the object is deemed no longer socially valuable, as an obsolete object or ‘ruin’, it nonetheless outlives its conventional collective social function. That which has been abjected or abandoned is addressed again or redressed (and thereby revived) through its extramythic or countermythological potential—its potential, in short, to stand outside the homogeneous continuum and mythological narrative of historical progression. These forsaken and forgotten objects simultaneously expose the ideological str

re of bourgeois capitalist commodified culture (by falling into its margins and/or out of them completely) and also contain within them “a precious but tasteless seed”: the seed of their own temporal redemption. Read More:http://www.janushead.org/11-1/MellamphyandMellamphy.pdf

AC:with a nice mug shot of ezra pound. this must be before he ended up in the nuthouse, right? (or would sarah call me insensitive?)

AC: back in the good daze – before we made everything from pop bottles to automobile out of plastic – we used other stuff for the essentials. like, for instance, ya ever wonder what we did for cheap disposable eating utensils? sure, we had chopstix and those little wooden slab “spoons” that came with our ice cream thingies. but, i’m talking about serious “get the chow into yer mouth and then toss it awa” eatin’. how did we do that?

---AC:well, a LOT of things sold to us as "recyclable" and "eviro-friendly" are total hogwash. like, for instance, if you know anything at all about the aluminum smelting process (and the recycling process which is even worse), you'd realize that it's about the single most "enviro- UNfriendly" material this side of oil and radioactive waste. i mean, it's a totally crazy material to be using for pop cans. we're so stupid. it's like pounding a thumbtack with a sledgehammer. but, we were sold that it's a "recyclable" material so we believed the bullshit and now it's deemed 'fact'. further, we used aluminum to replace glass - a totally inert, recyclable, low-energy beautiful stable product. we need to go back to glass. we've been conned. 'nuff said.

…behold the KLEEN alternative! we made them out of paper! these wonder utensils are pressed out of paper pulp into vague spoon and fork shapes. they’re heavily ridged for strength and totally biodegradable. weren’t we clever back then?

…please don’t think i’m some sort of eco-freak environmentalist or anything and start sending me tons of emails and postings and links to that lameass world. my position is i prefer to fiddle while rome burns. it’s too late to save the world. it’s toast on a slow burner. i get an existential giggle out of this stuff….people tell me that seagulls can’t fart or belch. so, if you feed them fizzies, they blow up!…

this is from back in the day when there were things called “colored pencils”. must have been part of the war effort. …

---It is only the discarded and forgotten object as such that reveals itself concretely: only the abjected and abandoned object, in the end, can be taken up as an historical fact—a ‘fait’ rather than a fetish. 10 The discarded object is the only historical ‘material’ that allows us to look at the present (the ‘now’) because by being blasted out of the historical continuum it is revealed, according to Benjamin, as a ‘monad’ into which “all the forces and interests of history enter on a reduced scale”.---http://www.janushead.org/11-1/MellamphyandMellamphy.pdf


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