Sunday, 1 January 2012

“The blood thing is the only thing you really have to know to understand capitalism"

The philosopher Christoph Spehr sums it all up, in a film that violates every provision of copyright. On Blood and Wings: A Study in the Dark Side of Cooperation is a contribution to the cutting edge of Marxist theory, clipped from the archives of B-grade vampire flicks. It starts from the classics of 1930s expressionism, then goes on to hilarious 1990s video, dubbed over with Spehr’s cutting-edge ideas on free cooperation. In this film, the Prince of Darkness counsels you.

The first thing is to understand is a monetary compulsion, a senseless momentum. Listen to its logic in the ghostly voice of narrator Tony Conrad, intoned in deep bass against a gory backdrop: 'The blood thing is the only thing you have to know to understand capitalism. The vampire can’t act without the blood. And he doesn’t keep it, he doesn’t feed on it in a way that he would ever be full…. He’s more like a machine that is fueled by blood. And the blood he takes only drives him to search for new blood. Like Marx put it in Capital: B leads to B prime. If you understand this, it will greatly improve your life under capitalism.'

Spehr ranges through the depravity of a civilization and its spectacles, showing how everyone in the developed societies – whether in the academy, the technology sectors or even in activism – comes gradually under the fangs. We are the dash between B and B prime. But the leading edge of a new productive system carries its promise along with its poison, at least when it remains in touch with the past that gives the future meaning. The next thing to understand is what that productive system is good for: 'Technology becomes more and more important in the fight against capitalism: networking, communications, the Internet, new forms of organizing. But the core of the action – the social struggle – is still the basis, and cannot be replaced by any of that.'

The film that began with the Prince of Darkness comes to an end with a sunrise in Mexico, and with a reflection on the way that solidarity acts as a grounding force to control the avant-gardes, who are necessarily infected: 'The ones we expose to highly contaminated areas – like boards, parliaments, any forms of leadership and representation – are always in danger, and they are a danger.' So while the would-be hero from the North goes off to a new struggle, the comrade from the South tells him he will 'pray… pray for the good medicine.' And the lesson of the pharmakon returns, as we hear the ghostly voice repeating 'pray… pray for the good medicine.'

Brian Holmes
"The Absent Rival: Radical Art in a Political Vacuum"

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