Monday, February 11, 2019

superstructure > base

J.G. Ballard on the Sixties:

“Here it was an aesthetic revolution that made the changes. For 5 years the class system didn’t seem to exist--nobody ever used the word…. I remember about 1970, for the first time in something like five or six years, I heard someone who was being interviewed on the radio use the word ‘working class’. Which would have been unthinkable in say, 1967 or 1968. Unthinkable. I thought, ‘my God, that’s the death knell of change. It’s coming to an end.’ And it did, and now we’re back in the same closed, confined, class-conscious little society… I don’t think the radical change needed to transform this country can come from the political direction at all. I think it can only come from the area of the arts--some sort of seismic shift in aesthetic sensibility, of a kind that we saw in the mid-60s, when this country was improved for the better. There was no question about it--liberated, briefly….” 

quote from 1983

c.f. Mark Fisher on the importance of indirect action to expand our sense of what is possible, conceivable, desirable, doable.

"the intensification and proliferation of the capitalist technologies of reality management and libidinal engineering in the 1980s was not merely some happy coincidence for neoliberalism; neoliberalism’s success was inconceivable without these technologies. It is also the reason that direct action, while of course crucial, will never be sufficient: we also need to act indirectly, by generating new narratives, figures and conceptual frames.

"... The reordering of images thoughts, affects, desires, beliefs and languages plainly cannot be achieved by “politics” alone – it is a matter for culture, in the widest sense.

... Popular culture’s incapacity to produce innovation is a persistent ambient signal that nothing can ever change." 

quote from 2015


  1. That's excellent. Do you know where the quote is from, (hopefully a nice big fat interview online somewhere)?

  2. (Sorry, I mean the Ballard quote)

  3. i don't actually - it's something i recycled from a very old Blissblog entry. Probably found it one of those RE/Search books about JG Ballard - either "JG Ballard" or "JG Ballard Quotes".

    it's great - i wonder if it is actually true? The cultural superstructure can certainly make everyone feel like we are in a new time, and be threatening to the powers that be, leading to backlash and counter-revolution - but underneath it all the actual structures of inequality and class and the concentrations of economic power remain resilient and abiding, verging on impregnable. Or at least they could be pregnable but it wouldn't because of the length of skirts and the insolence of rock'n'roll singers and Mick Jagger adopting a classless drawl.

  4. it would take organisation at the site of the means of production, brothers and sisters!

  5. Ha, of course! I'm not sure how concerned Ballard was with the economics / wealth distribution side. Not in the way that Mark Fisher obviously was, which is why his version is more convincing on that score. It's a fun idea to play with though, imagining how it might actually happen.